Home is where the Heart is: Team BIRD’s Homes away from Home

Livvy — Newcastle, Australia

“The sleepy surf town of Newcastle, Australia, is my home away from home. I spent a year of my degree getting to know every inch of the town’s many beaches, trying (and failing) to surf the crashing waves and gaining an insatiable appetite for all things avocado. Once an industrial town, when the steel industry fell upon hard times, resilient Newcastle became a thriving centre for arts and culture, with a vibrant and growing community of artists and musicians.

Planning a visit to New South Wales? Trust me: spend a day in Newy. Go wild camping in Glenrock Reserve to catch the sun rising over a deserted beach; get a pre-dawn caffeine hit from Estabar and sit with your toes in the sand as you watch the wave-charging surfers; go for a barefoot run along Nobby’s Beach to read the scrawled love notes adorning the breakwall. When the heat haze descends, dive into the deep blue waters of the Bogey Hole ocean pool as waves surge over the edge; and find shade in the endless array of brunch spots stretching along Darby Street (and leave room for a legendary Three Monkeys milkshake!). You won’t regret it.”

Nicole — Paris

“My home-from-home has to be Paris, where I spent four months gobbling baguettes, drinking red wine and immersing myself in all things Francais at the ripe old age of 19. My fondest memories revolve around St. Germain-des-Pres, where I went to school. Typically charming, undeniably chic and moments from the river, the area is famous for its curb-side people watching, luxe boutiques and over-priced cafés.

Days begin with a Café au Lait and Tartine at Galette Café, a bustly, no frills coffee spot before taking a stroll over to St. Michel. For lunch, grab your picnic at Cosi, a rustic, sandwich shop on iconic Rue de Seine before finding your spot on Pont Neuf, to stretch out and relax, legs dangling over the river. Café de Flore is a must for a pre-dinner cocktail (and ogling at dapper Parisians!) before heading over to Brasserie Balzar for some escargot, a carafe du vin and a chat with the waiters – many of whom have been there for a decade or longer. For a night cap, the soothing tones of Chez Papa Jazz Club are sure to lure you in til the wee small hours.”

Chess — Koh Samui, Thailand

“Growing up, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on the Thai island of Koh Samui, and have seen it transform from a once undiscovered haven with just a singular hut for an airport, to one of Asia’s most popular tourist hotspots. However, please don’t write Samui off if you’re looking for a traditional Thai experience – there’s still plenty to see. Some of my happiest memories were spent wondering through the local market stalls in Fisherman’s Village, perusing traditional trinkets and nibbling on street food, before moving to the Happy Elephant for undoubtedly the best massaman curry and freshest seafood on the island.

One of the island’s biggest draws is its white-sand beaches and 30°C turquoise oceans, and there’s nowhere better to experience this than Cheong Mong beach, one of the island’s quieter spots. As the temperature stays warm well into the evening, you’ll find you have to tear yourself away, tempted only by the allure of one of Samui’s spectacular sunsets. For this, one of the island’s west-facing beach bars, such as Hemingway’s on the Beach, is the perfect spot for sundowners with the sand between your toes.”

Alexa — Les Ecrehous, Jersey

“The channel island of Jersey is undoubtedly my home from home, having spent every summer here since I was born and with a family history trailing back several generations. There’s nowhere I know better in the world and I’m spoilt for choice on top spots on this tiny isle (shout out to Plemont Beach with its network of caves and Archirondel Bay, home to crystalline waters for early morning swims, the best moules mariniere and a name that derives from the Brits’ shameful inability to pronounce L’Arche roundel…), but Les Ecrehous manages to pip them all at the post. Admittedly not to everyone’s taste, these craggy rocks are located off Jersey’s north-eastern coast and speckled with fisherman’s huts, which – as a result of Jersey’s mammoth tides (some of the biggest in the world) – are perilously close to being swept into the sea at every high tide. With no running water or electricity, it’s a total disconnect from the outside world, with a whooshing gully, glassy tidal pools and its famous ‘Shell Beach’, where we’ll spend weeks at a time spear-fishing for bass and plucking oysters off the rocks to roast on the barbeque, or waiting for low tide to reveal pristine beaches for collecting sand eels.”

Lallie — Ubud, Bali

“Tell anyone that hasn’t been to Bali how amazing the energy is and they’ll most probably roll their eyes. But seeing and feeling is believing, folks – there is something so wonderfully magical about the island of Bali and the people that live there that I now flee to Bali once a year to hit my reset button. Much to my mother’s peril, I loved getting around Bali on a scooter and moving between Ubud and Canggu, where there is an abundance of Pinterest-worthy hotels, homestays and Airbnbs.

In Ubud, head to Bambu Indah for a hidden retreat set in the depths of the jungle, and make sure to seek out the tree house for epic views over the palm trees! For delicious food, try Clear Café for nutritious dishes, Mozaic to have your mind blown by imaginative vegan cuisine, Yellow Flower Café in secret garden-like Penestanan (best enjoyed after a yoga class at Intuitive Flow) and Bali Buddha (also a great breakfast or lunch option after a yoga class at Radiantly Alive – where I experienced the best yoga class of my life). Make sure to eat at as many nasi gorengs as possible in the local warungs (grandmother’s kitchens style local restaurants, where you can eat like a king for £1). For a lively evening, head to Bali Bohemia for live music and fun vibes.

Get out of your comfort zone and get sweaty at Ecstatic Dance at the Yoga Barn on a Sunday morning for a heavenly experience dancing sober – really, it’s fun and you’ll be buzzing on only natural highs afterwards!”