An anniversary of sorts : for the love of October

Personal Experience

So I have always loved autumn. There is something fairy-tale like about the leaves changing colour. With the hot summer we have just had the crisp cold weather is a much needed respite.

A Brit moaning about the weather, what a surprise!

The temperature dropping excites me. Jumpers, boots and hearty ( healthy) meals. Everything is soft and crisp in autumn. The smell of BBQs has been replaced by bonfires and the caveman inside me loves it. September nowadays feels like an extension of summer it is October that encompasses all the best bits of autumn.

I still get excited when I see conkers (horse chestnut seeds). They end up in my pocket till they loose their shine. I pick them up like a child, I hope I will always enjoy them.

I love October not just because we get to dress Frank up as a taco/ pineapple/ spider still not decided yet, but because everything changes. Americans call autumn Fall and honestly I don’t think a word describes it better.

You tend to stay indoors more and mulled wine/ cider and twinkly lights are the only thing that draws me outside. I am already searching for dog friendly pubs with fires! My house in now filled with candles and we need to clear the fireplace, it is filled with about 10 bottles of gin. My house is getting an autumn clean so we will be winter ready.

For the Love of October

This time last year my wonderful partner asked me to be his wife. So October and World Zombie day will always be an anniversary of sorts! Our wedding pre-anniversary we spent at my friends wedding in Edinburgh and she will be spending her first anniversary at ours.

We do love dressing up. Gavin scared the life out of the trick or treaters last time. This year we will take Frankie for a walk, pumpkin carving on the Saturday before and a party at our local the weekend after Halloween.

 

Me and gavin don’t do things by halves, we are definitely an all or nothing kind of couple. I normally host a Halloween meal and go completely to town but this year we are taking it easy. This meal we had a few years ago was an edible body. With a macaroni cheese skull, ribs and sausages it was yummy if not a bit random. Even the cocktails were eyes and worms!

Second Birthday

This October we have another thing to celebrate which is Franks birthday. We have had him just over a year and wouldn’t be without him. It is amazing how such a little dog can change our lives so much.

As much as I am a dog owner who dresses up their dog ( he loves it) and gives him his own Instagram account @franke_ze_frenchie so we don’t didn’t bore our friends on Facebook. I don’t really go in for presents and dog cakes but Gav loves all that so maybe we will this year.

Well I hope you love October as much as I do.

This time next year I will be Married!

Whats your favourite things about autumn?

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France, Mum, Food and Wedding Talk

Flowers, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel, Wedding

My mum is my biggest cheerleader. She is impressed by pretty much everything I do which is great and much needed when you are feeling blue. France is one of my homes, her home. An army brat learns to make a home where ever they can!

This little blog is just about me and my mum, France, food and a bit of wedding talk. Hope you enjoy!

Lazy me

When I get to Jarnac I turn into loungy French me. I swan around the house drinking Kronenburg, nibbling of french bread and Port Salut. I am happy as Larry coming back home to France.

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We normally don’t stray to far from Jarnac as my breaks to see my mum are all about relaxation and family not travelling frantically about. We normally end up on the veranda, have big life talks or curled up at night on the sofa chatting nonsense.

Until my parents moved to France I didn’t think of it as a holiday destination which is crazy. I think for couples France is so romantic, chateaus, champagne and amazing food. France doesn’t have to cost a fortune and from Britain it is just a short flight.

Most people tend to go straight to Paris, the French Alps or the south of France and they miss out on all the beautiful cities and towns in between. If you want a relaxing, meandering, brocante filled long weekend then visit France.

I spent a long time on the lawn sipping passion fruit gin and tonics going through my mums floristry books. It so peaceful and beautiful.

All the weight gaining alcohol

This trip was a lovely lazy trip. We went to a vineyard and picked up Cognac Champagne which if you are ever in the area you must try. It is delicious and very rare even in the area. I bought all their stock they had left which was two bottles!

Yum.

My mother is kindly supplying our toasting Champagne from a local vineyard and we cant wait. It is light and not bitter at all, we had it at my brothers wedding in proper champagne glasses ( which I wont be having: tiniest gripe).

All the yummy food

Mum has been learning more french recipes and Eggs Mimosa  is definitely my new favourite. This was one of the best lunches of all time, light and refreshing and enough left overs that I could have it for tea the next day.

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We went to a few restaurants and had amazing steak at both! our aperitif was a lovely Cognac Schweppes.

Although my mum is a wee bit stressed about making my bouquet everything else she is really relaxed about. She cant wait. We had a slightly stressful conversation about the legal part of our ceremony which I am still annoyed about. Annoyed that I have a legal ceremony not the fact that she was talking about it.

It has kind of grown from two people to immediate family but hey, thats okay. It just means our super fancy meal at the Holborn Dining rooms will be at a great affordable London Pub instead.

My sister referenced Kate Winslet’s wedding and I said yes, just like that! Well we all know I love Marianne in Sense and Sensibility!

We also talked about Videographer’s and prices and my brother suggested that I stop focusing on creating these magical Youtube moments and just pay someone to capture the whole day. I think he was right and me and Gav discussed it and we are now just looking for someone to capture our day.

Nothing Fancy

Just withing our budget.

And that’s what I need to focus on. Not creating a stupid Pinterest wedding I need to create a beautiful wedding for me and Gav. A moment in time when our friends and family can drink and be merry.

That’s what we are focusing on, oh and our budget.

At this moment in time I would like to be under our budget not over it!

when I left France and my mum is was so hard. I had to say goodbye to so many of my family in such a short time. My mum is coming over to help with the invites and wedding planning but that’s not till the new year.

Till then it will just be Skype!

Bon voyage mon ami!

Is the wedding dress a waste of money?

Advice, Personal Experience, Planning, Wedding, Wedding Budget

The wedding dress dread continues with price tag. I am concerned that the wedding dress is the biggest waste of money.

I just can’t get over the price tag!

You are wearing a dress you wear once, once. So the idea of spending £2000 on a dress, it just baffles me. Some of you will have already spent that money or more.

Instagram and Pinterest have a lot to answer for when it comes to dress expectations.

Gorgeous picture from Siobhan Hennessy

Is the wedding dress a waste of money?

I am going to ask you a question, except for a few close friends do you really remember the details of your friends and family’s dresses?

Because I can’t. I remember my favourite, my least favourite and my closest friends but that’s it.

My friend Jess had a gorgeous navy dress that my other friend made. It was beautiful and simple. But what I remember most about Jess’s attire was her shoes and her taco purse. She still wears every accessory today!

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Jess looking stunning

Money Vs Wedding dress

Getting into debt for a wedding is just not on my cards, literally!

I don’t want a black cloud following me around after the wedding day.

We have a house so we don’t need to save for a deposit. We have are trying to be practical but the money is still adding up. Weddings are ridiculously expensive especially when they are just a fancy party!

I know I want to feel amazing I do, but does money really need to be spent to achieve this? I won’t wear the dress again! I won’t cut it up and turn it into something else.

Sam’s wedding, I love this dress!

Memories

When I was a manager in jigsaw I remember a customer coming in with her friends looking for a wedding dress. She was beautiful and pixie sized and was looking for something different. I was at a loss, showed her pretty draped dresses.

she kept sighing at me because I just didn’t get it. So I showed her a beautiful suit dress with a French trim. It was grey fitted and sharp her Friends instantly agreed it was perfect.

I was baffled.

It was her dress, a grey suit dress. She looked beautiful in it but it was just a grey tailored dress. £140 she was happy as Larry.

Now I get it

Today I ordered a wedding dress from a high street store. If it’s not great I will send it back. If it’s perfect it means that a I didn’t have to spend a fortune but b I don’t have to stand in front of my Danettes and feel unhappy. This also means that I will not have that wedding dress experience but hey if it’s perfect I can take my Danettes out for a meal instead!

I would really prefer to have a beautiful pair of Jimmy Choos instead of a gorgeous dress I will wear once.

Is it a waste of money?

No, not if you have the money it is definitely not. I would hate to regret my wedding dress. The bargain hunter in me is hoping that this dress will be amazing. I will miss out on the trying on experience but as you know I am a bit fearful of that as well. If the dress is not right then I will have to hunt for a new one anyway.

Fingers cross it suits me!

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Sams Shoes

Traveling alone: Mistakes I made

Advice, Organising, Personal Experience, Travel

Lets face it. Travelling alone doesn’t have to suck. If everything goes smoothly then it is the ultimate piece of cake. Plus you can have the seat by the window or just switch off for the whole flight/ journey.

You just have to be realistic with your travel expectations. Packing light is key. I was bringing a lot of gifts and clothes so I made my first mistake by packing my maximum weight. 37kgs is not easy to lug around. But my biggest tip is travel scales. Buy them and if you need to pack them with you.

I recently flew to Seychelles from London via Dubai then back to Paris and got the train to Angouleme. Not the easiest of journeys but it was too stressful. I thought you may like to hear my thoughts on travelling alone. The parts I disliked and the parts that I enjoyed.

There were no direct flights from London to Seychelles on the day I flew. This would have made everything so much easier.

I did make a few mistakes but also wasted my time. I generally like Emirates, they are a clean and efficient airline that generally look after there passengers. There seats are roomy which is key to a long haul flight.

Organise your apps in one travel friendly place. I had eurostar, Oiugo, Emirates all in one box on my iphone. I also printed everything out and get it in my nice orange travel wallet so i didn’t loose anything.

Checking in

I took the train down to Gatwick and decided to book my lounge with LoungeBuddy . This was the first time using this app and I thought I would treat myself. Everything went wrong, the wrong time, their stupid 1 hour window ( no, I paid for it it should start when I get there unless you have over booked). It took me over an hour for online check in bag drop.

Lounge 1

Pretty sure this is the longest I have ever had to wait. I wasn’t impressed with how slow it was. Yes a few people went over there 30k allowance I was very fearful I was one of them. My case was jam packed with my sisters clothes. But I had weight it about 20 times to make sure I was under.

I didn’t want to pay any fees.

So I get to the lounge where the food was lousy but the amaretto kept me in good stead. I made sure I made that £40 for 1 hour count ( my bad judgement with the times not LoungeBuddy fault). Bad timing on my part but never mind, I was hoping to spend a bit longer there.

Emirates decided to sit me next to a little baby, who luckily was a perfect angel for the whole trip. She liked to hold my arm and press the screen buttons on her side and only started to cry as we landed.

After no sleep I felt like crying myself!

Then I got to Dubai and I felt a flutter of panic- I had an hour to get to my next flight and the air steward just smiled at me sympathetically rather than offering to help me in any way.

It turns out I had about 10 minutes to spare and the airport staff where laid out to help people like me who looked lost. I had no time for a toilet stop or to grab some food which was find by me.

Now on for my next flight. I had a massive selection of movies to watch and a book to read so I didn’t need company for this. The food wasn’t bad. My favourite thing is always the cheese and crackers anyway! Plus at the end of the flight I was met by my family which is just the best thing ever.

Tips

My tip is that as great as technology is always have a multi travel plug so you adapt to each country without needing a million plugs. But don’t rely on it, take a book! No one steals books, you can leave it on the beach, on your chair no one will take it. Books don’t need charging you can read it when the announcements are on. A book will never let you down. A note book is also helpful.

I don’t travel without my bullet journal.

So after 10 days I was back on the plane heading for Dubai then Paris. Obviously I didn’t want to leave but I was looking forward to seeing my mum.

Alcohol and Emirates

Now don’t forget I am travelling alone a women in an arab country. A women who likes to drink and I heard the story about the mother who was arrested for being drunk on the plane. As the airline gave her the booze I am not sure how they judge her but they did. She was separated from her daughter and arrested.

It kind of freaked me out so I didn’t drink on my leg to Dubai but once I was on the Paris leg I was on the gins and wine with my food.

It may sound over cautious but lets face it. I don’t like to put myself in situations and the Arab nations have very strict alcohol / sexist issues.

So I didn’t put myself in any situation.

When you are by yourself, you have to make decisions and get your self around. With two people you get to discuss it and make your dicison together.

Two heads aren’t always better than one.

A wee bit of panic

Then when I got to CharlesDe Gaul I had to find the shuttle bus. There was no trains to Angouleme after 8 so I had to wait till 7am the next day.

I bought my train ticket for 15 euros and my easy hotel was 33 euros which is cheaper than the later train. Getting to the shuttle was a bit of a nightmare, the exit marked as shuttle wasn’t the right one. I ended up walking round in circles for twenty minutes assuring myself I could work this out.

The shuttle part at exit 3 was dark and dingy with lifts straight out of horror movies, so I took the stairs.

Shuttle driver was super friendly hotel was super basic but for 33 euros a night I cannot complain. Bed was comfy and shower worked fine. I knew I was getting up early so I had a quick shower then hit the hay.

I slept in the middle of the bed…heaven!

The shuttle dropped me off at the train station the next day and the French efficacy was out of this world. The train station tells you where the carriage would stop. The carraiges where clean and tidy and took me just over 3 hours to get to Angouleme where my mum was waiting. France was hotter than Seychelles so I enjoyed a week of sunbathing, eating and yes you guessed it drinking red wine. My suitcase was filled with champagne on the way home, so not so shabby.

My train to Lille was clean and an old French man who lived in Australia propositioned me to be his new wife. We talked about Australia, food ( he was impressed by my baguette in my bag). My decision to be child free, red belly black snakes and that he still works even though he is in his 70s. He invited me to come visit him in Queensland and it was pleasant if somewhat awkward journey!

Then I had to walk through Lille. Here was probably the only time I wish I wasn’t alone. There were a lot of Ne’re do wells around. Watching the tourists like hawks. One purposely bumped into me and I just kept walking. The police were around, just not in that area and it was the only time I felt slightly threatened. I just kept focusing on getting to the Eurostar.

If you come out of Lille station just turn right and follow the pavement you can go under the bridge an its all laid out for you. It isn’t the best signposted but it is just a short walk to it.

Eurostar was just another train but it was quick. I could wait to see Gavin. He met me at a bar in Liverpool street and we ate and drank then went home to the fur babies.

Travelling alone is fine. I have always and will continueto always do it. But travelling with a friend or partners is also good.

The heartbreak of goodbyes

Advice, Personal Experience, Travel

I know I am lucky. I have a great family and they live in the most beautiful parts of the world. When I see them it is like we have never been apart but goodbyes hurt so much. I would give up pretty much everything to have them live closer. There is so much heartbreak in saying goodbye.

I have just said goodbye to my father. I just walked away from my sister and my nephew at the airport. I am quietly balling so much that the passport controller asks me if I am Seychellois ( soon I will be hopefully) but I just sniff to him that my father is. My family are, and they are here.

We are a close family, my parents remain friends, good friends. Goodbyes break my heart. Every airport drop off I always think that this time I will be stronger and I won’t cry. The catch in my throat lets me down and then come the tears.

This trip I travelled alone so I had no one to comfort me. No big arms to wrap around me, no kiss on the top of my head to tell me it’s alright.

So I had to pull my self together.

New Zealand is so far away.

Seychelles is so far away.

France isn’t so far but it is not up the road.

This holiday has been wonderful. Playing with my niece and nephew, eating my dads cooking. Kreole food, fresh fish everyday. The beach, seeing family and friends, a perfect holiday ( just wish Gavin was there).

What I wouldn’t give for my family to be closer to me. To be able to pop in for a cup of tea or call my dad for a recipe. I do call him to ask but I have to bear in mind if the time difference.

How did we cope without Skype?

Time difference changes everything.

I love visiting the Seychelles and learning about my family’s home and history. How Seychelles used to be but the connection ends when I leave it.

My roots.

I am on the plane to see my mum so this isn’t the saddest good bye. I will see my whole family next year at our wedding.

I can’t wait to see my mum but I know it will also be followed a heartfelt goodbye.

Self delusions: weight struggles

body confidence, Fitness, health, Personal Experience, Planning, weight loss

I flick through pictures of myself and delete the images where my body looks pregnant. I carry all my weight on my stomach and feel horrendous for it. My weight struggle perhaps isn’t as tough as a lot of people’s by my misery is.

I find a picture where my stomach looks flatter and I say to myself, see, I am not that big.

I am not that big

But I am not that slim either. I hate what I am doing to my body as I cram another sandwich into my mouth. I listen to my self delusions.

I am on holiday!

It’s the weekend!

I am just going to treat my self!

And then I think of my partner and wonder how on earth this man can look at me and want me when I can’t even look at myself.

I am consumed with self delusions and a weight struggle.

I see a picture where I look slim and think yes that is what I look like when it’s not.

Perhaps it is time to face my delusions and tackle my weight loss head on. I am a planner, I love to plan but my execution is simply lacking.

I am simply lacking.

I planned to walk or run at least twice a week and yet I haven’t done it once.

It is too cold, too dark too hot. My excuses are always there. I think I am going to loose weight slowly and sensibly and okay I have been good but then I won’t deny myself a treat.

I need to focus and I need to loose this weight. If I can make it to a size 10 (us size 6) by Christmas I will be extatic. I thought I would be slimmer for this holiday but I failed miserably. So now I flip through photos trying to show my best life when it’s a joke.

I ate salad every day at work before I left but my belly is still there. Still saying hello and wobbling goodbye.

I walk a lot so my legs are pretty toned it’s just my stomach and my head I need to work on. I need to focus my mind on achieving the body I want.

The body that will make me proud and keep it up.

I love food and drink but I need to be smarter because what I am doing right now isn’t good enough.

Exploring The Seychelles; My Recommendations

Advice, Organising, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel

I try to explore Seychelles every two years.

I have family and friends who live out there and it is my heritage so I want to live and learn as much as I can. So, I thought if you were venturing to these beautiful set of islands that maybe you would appreciate some recommendations from me.

Yummy Food

La Perle Noire Mahe

Food recommendations

Gavin isn’t a big fish eater but he will happily eat fish every day over there due to how fresh it is (caught that day)! And how it is prepared, either grilled, baked or fried. It is just gorgeous.

Just off the beach you will find fisherman with their catch of the day. Parrot fish and snapper will be bound together and you will see the locals gather and buy them. You can find saltfish samosas at most grocery stores, along with breadfruit chips (eat them and you will always return to the Seychelles or so the saying goes!) fresh fruit and cold beer.

Each shop will have their own prices but they are much cheaper than the big supermarkets in town.

This is my favorite food in the world and no one makes it better than my dad! For you guys you will have to try the restaurants and hotels. Traditionally food is served in bowls in front of you and you help yourself. No waste.

This is how I was brought up.

Lunch at Carana Beach

Seychellois have a very healthy attitude when it comes to food, they eat pretty much what they catch and they live of the land. My favourite dish is octopus curry or fried octopus it is just delicate and meaty all at the same time.

My favourite places for food

  • Café Solei holds so many memories, I told Gavin about this place on our first date. We visit every time
  • Sunset Beach Hotel ( just ridiculously beautiful we basically we live here during the day) Cocktails and fish and chips is insanely good. The views are magical, I am hoping my sister will get married here!
  • Carana Beach hotel, when we were there the waves are pretty big which was fun. It is so instagramable there!
  • La Perle Noire (Black Pearl) —————- just yum. Hospitality is like coming home, I cannot fault this place at all
  • The boat house great traditional food at a great price
  • Pizza places on Mahe – honestly we haven’t had a bad pizza there
  • For snacks we eat all the samosas we can find, fresh fruit. mmmm

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Seychellois hospitality

English is taught in schools and you will often find someone who speaks German, Spanish, Italian and Russian. They are a very well-educated people.

Okay, tricky subject. Seychellois will help you if you need it but you may find the service a bit slow.

I like to visit hotels for lunch then eat at home with my friends and family.

On more than one occasion and in multiple places I have found the service very relaxed. Waiting an hour to get served a drink. Waiting 45 minutes for a cold beer then another hour before the pizza was served. Don’t get angry get used to it. My tip is order two drinks so you don’t have to wait.

Some places you won’t find any issues, but don’t expect the same over friendly help you get in other countries.

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Boat trips

My dad has a little boat and we go across to Moyenne for lunch.

When we went with a group of friends we decided to do a boat trip to the same place. Because there were ten of us, we were the only ones on the glass bottom boat and it was great. They let us play our music, went really fast so we all got sprayed with water and were really fun guys! They dropped us off in the ocean where the swells were much bigger. There were a lot of boats bopping up and down and lots of people in the water but it was great.

The fish get bigger the further out you go. Then we waded to shore hand lunch then had a little walk round the island. Photographed the giant tortoises, visit the pirates grave and drank a fair few gin and tonics!

Grand Anse

Take your Pictures but please don’t swim here!

Explore and listen

Every islander will have their favourite beach so listen and explore. They will also know what the waves are like at that moment. I have been known to take my book into the ocean and just float along in the shallows.

There are plenty of walks in Seychelles so comfortable shoes are an absolute must!  Anse Major is an impressive hike around the coast half way up the mountain you will see some incredible views the coral and sea life there is beautiful. I followed a family of squid around for hours. it is hot and sweaty and there are a few sketchy bits (I am terrified of heights). My top tip for this hike is to get a taxi back, a taxi boat that is!

Again the views just cannot be beaten.

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Bloom Gin, in Seychelles

Night life

There isn’t that much to do, sun sets around 6-7 depending on what side of the island you are on then it goes pitch black.

That chirping noise you can hear is the geckos, don’t hate them they eat all the bugs.

As there isn’t that much to do at night so be prepared to make or take your own entertainment! Beau Vallon often has little festivals with food and stalls which are great, there are a few clubs and Seychelles do great cocktails. We always bring gin to the island and get tonic and limes in the shops. If they don’t have limes then we get the Seychelles local oranges which are sweet and sharp and taste so good with gin!

Hotel do put on shows and event nights so you are welcome to attend those, I love a good Saga night.

This is a place ripe for relaxation. The pace is slow here so leave your city legs behind and go with the flow. If things take a while don’t worry you are on holiday not in a rush. I love a nice light beer Sey Brew and lovely rum Takamaka which I prefer with lemonade rather than coke!

You are on holiday/ vacation so relax sip your ice-cold dink and watch the sunset and its incredible skies.

Seychelles is full of beauty and magic so explore it.

If you have been to the Seychelles then let me know places you have been and loved!

I hope you enjoy!

Dana

Mahe

Swimming at Beau Vallon Beach