Your Stories #1: Anna ‘Nudi’ Burn

Our first story comes from Anna Burn; freelance writer, photographer and avid marine dweller. In her own words…

Nudi-at-Trayarnon

“The sea is my home. Whether on it or under it, cold or tropical, crystal clear or murky and milky … it is where I am happiest.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been crazy about the water. Freediving and recreational/technical diving have strengthened this connection to the ocean, which manifests in my passion for underwater photography and marine conservation. I’m a member of The British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP) and British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC). And I also volunteer with Bite Back Shark & Marine Conservation, and British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) as a marine mammal medic.

 When I’m not playing in the water, I work as a freelance writer in Brighton, England.

 Nudilover (or Nudi, as I’m known) is my diving alter-ego. It is born from my slow pace in the water and geekiness about colourful little sea slugs”.

We put together a set of questions to ask travellers whether they travel short or long term. Be inspired as Anna recounts dancing with Manta Rays in the Maldives, camping on Italian beaches and the best way to cook pasta…

Hometown-

Brighton, UK.

Where are you now?

Sitting on a beach, after a dive.

Where did you go on your first trip abroad?

Paris, when I was about 9.

Longest time away from hometown-

3 months. 

What is your travel philosophy

Keep an open mind and an open heart, and be prepared to change your plans if an opportunity presents itself. 

Your favourite place in the world to enjoy a couple of beers- 

Sitting on a boat – anywhere. 

The greatest bit of life advice you’ve been given/heard-

“The road will teach you how to love and let go. It can be lonely, but it’s the only thing that we’ve ever known.” – Nahko Bear of Medicine for the People 

What is your one indispensable travel item?

My mask and fins. 

How do you break the ice with a stranger on the road?

Over food or under the sea.

Do you have a recipe for a meal you use on the road?

Proper Italian carbonara for two: 

  1. Fry up a mixture of smoked and unsmoked pancetta in olive oil and black pepper 
  1. Mix 2 egg yolks and one full egg in a bowl, set to one side 
  1. Cook the pasta (spaghetti or linguine, I prefer linguine) until it is 1 minute from cooked. English people cook pasta for far too long, it should still have a little “bite.” 
  1. Transfer the pasta to the frying pan with pancetta and mix. Cook for a further minute. 
  1. Take off the heat for 30 seconds 
  1. Tip into the bowl of egg and mix quickly, so that the egg mixture coats the pasta. 
  1. Serve topped with grated pecorino cheese. 

TOP TIPS: Do not put the hot pasta/pancetta immediately into the egg from the hob, you’ll end up with egg-fried pasta, which is decidedly disgusting. Do not overcook the pasta.

Best/ worst thing you’ve ever eaten-  

Best: Anything outside, on or by the water. 

Worst: Gazpacho, I just don’t get it. 

Your favourite song on your travel playlist?

Yuna – Island 

Are you a planner or do you ride the waves of chance?

A flexible planner. Things never quite go to plan, but I try to make sure I know enough about the area I’m travelling in to avoid the tourist-traps and experience the real spirit of the place. 

What is your best travel tip?

Wherever possible, don’t stay in hotels or resorts. Make friends or use Couchsurfing – and offer your spare room/couch/floor to other travellers. Travelling doesn’t need to be expensive, and you miss out on so much if you refuse to “slum it” a bit. Some of the best travelling I’ve done was exploring southern Italy, camping illegally on the beaches. 

How has travel affected you as a person?

It’s taught me to love and accept people as they are, everyone can teach you something valuable, that home is where the heart is – and your heart is always right there beneath your ribs.

Your edgiest travel experience-

I haven’t really had any negative experiences, they all turned out to be positive in the end.

Your favourite travel story-

Photo by Anna 'Nudi' Burn.

Photo by Anna ‘Nudi’ Burn.

Dancing with a manta under a full moon. 

I was on an underwater photography trip in the Maldives, of which 7 nights were spent onboard the Sheena, a beautiful safari boat captained by the lovely Harish. After another day of high-octane shark diving, the Sheena crew set up a barbecue on a deserted island for us. We sat around a sand whale shark “table” and enjoyed delicious food while lightning hit the sea all around us (but thankfully not on top of us!). 

When we were heading back to the boat on a dinghy, some of the crew started shouting and waving their arms “Slow down! Don’t come close! Manta!” Making a big loop around, Captain Harish tied the dinghy off to the dhoni (traditional Maldivian boat, used for reaching the dive sites) and I quickly ran to set up my camera, put on a bikini and grab my mask/fins. 

Slipping gently into the water by myself I lay there and waited. After a few minutes this male manta came up closer to the surface (the water was about 25m deep), doing loop-the-loops to scoop plankton-rich water through his gills. I dived back down into the black with him, mirroring his moves, pretending I could “fly” too … before reluctantly returning to the surface to catch my breath. 

With a full moon above, lightning around and Wilson below, I was absolutely blissed-out. I spent 3 hours dancing with him, before a storm swept through and I had to get back onboard. What an incredible blessing, to share the end of an already wonderful evening with this beautiful guy. 

Where are you planning to go next?

My underwater photography trips come around pretty last-minute, so I’m not too sure. In the long term, I’m planning a move back to Italy for a year or so to improve my Italian, then on to Spain to learn Spanish … then South America with a van, my dive kit and camera. The master plan is a nomadic lifestyle, writing on the road. 

You can follow Anna’s photography on Facebook here.

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