Setting Goals: Happy new year

Advice, Organising, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel, Wedding, Wedding Budget, weight loss

I am not a fan on overpriced New Year’s Eve parties. I feel they are a waste of money and energy! You can enjoy the same evening on a normal Saturday night out!But I don’t mind a house party or a  nice meal with friends. I have had some great New Years.

Two Hogmanay’s in Edinburgh

A pie fight at a Bugsy Malone party

A meal with friends and cocktails

And then one New Year’s Eve where we had a bottle of champagne and played computer games all night.

Other than that, can’t say I have had many great ones. Like Christmas I think that it is all about family. About sharing a kiss with your loved one, Jools Holland on the tv and a big smile on your face.

Also I love my bed! If I can spend New Year in my bed with food and booze and fur babies then I am a happy girl. Sadly, my other half is very outgoing so we take it in turns.

One new year my choice, one his.

Generally, it’s like most things, a big pressure to do something to talk about. I have never been a fan of any of that. I hope I have never been or never will be, a show off. Although rooftop parties in New York look amazing I would love to experience that, I am not someone who feels left out if I choose not to go.

New Years is just a big rip off

Tickets to your local pub! Drinks doubled in price, Leery men hoping to scoop up the single girls at the end of the night. (This was my late teens clubbing in Camberley and Fleet).

This year I get 4 glorious days off.

Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday…. Pure heaven.

I can’t wait. We have some tidying to do which Mrs Hinch and her Minky have prepared me for. Some wedding planning (although that may be on hold till after the break.

But a break nether the less!

Exploring and Travel

I also am not the biggest fan of setting New year’s resolutions. except this year we actually have a goal to work towards… the wedding. Planning this year is key and we are so excited. My brother called me asking me to join him and dad on a road trip to our house in France. We are taking a van and picking up some bits before Mum sells the house. This also means that we can buy some French bits for the wedding which I am so excited about. Gav may kill me.

 

Travel Plans this year:

  • Bulgaria
  • Road trip to Jarnac
  • Madrid
  • Munich

My Goals

Well I have been good at maintaining my weight but I haven’t lost any more so I still have a stone to lose and when my ankle heals, I am going to start running again. Get my whole body toned and back into shape.

Skin care

Well I have already started this journey so it is time to get back into the habits and truly look after my skin. This means from the inside out so I will be drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fruit and its bye, bye to chocolate as this makes me break out. I just need a new serum (praying Elizabeth Arden goes in the sale)

I still need to find a beautician and book my bridesmaids there’s. I am leaving up to them if they want it done. Hair and makeup.

Hair

Well I got all my grey hairs coloured and covered and Gav wasn’t impressed with my blond skunk streaks as they are fairly bold. Now I am thinking of going a bit warmer and red. Not Bright Aerial red just a dark Auburn which is closer to my natural colour. I am growing it as long as it wants to grow and thinking of having it half up and down.

Still need to book a hairdresser for the wedding which is super stressful as I have never ever found someone who is good with curls. I get hairdressers who cut my hair really well but I leave with my hair frizzy and fly away.

Saving

No one likes to talk about money but weddings are expensive and we all know that. I am saving money on flowers, ceremony and booze but our venue is ridiculously  expensive.And its our dream to get married there. It will be totally worth it.  I have less then half my time and less then half the budget to save for. I have been working really hard to scrimp and save. Turning down nights out because of fares and expenses without neglecting my friends too much. Working overtime and extra Saturdays are making a difference to my saving now.

Makes: Getting Crafty

I have a lot of things to make. Napkins to dye, table clothes to hem. Photobooths to build and paint, and invites to cut up. The list is pretty impressive. We have a lot of details to finalise. And in a few months’ time I have to book the civil wedding.

I am hoping to make the majority of items before June so that I can fix any issues if any arrive. And not get too bogged down by it all.

Writing that list makes me a wee bit sick.

We are getting married in 8 months

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Ocho

Cannot believe it and I cannot wait.

I almost wish I had another year to plan and make.

But I don’t.

Time apart

Advice, Personal Experience, Travel

Me and Gav often holiday apart from each other. We always have done. Time apart can be great, it can make you appreciate each other.

Sometimes it sucks!

We are two very independent people. We have our own friends who we will see in as a couple or individually. His friends are my friends but we have no issues not being together 24-7.

Les Deuce Alps…… and I am in England!

We holiday separately not because we don’t want each other there with us but sometimes we can’t holiday together. This summer I spent 3 weeks with my family in The Seychelles and France. I missed gav but I had my family so I was just home.

Soppy cow

But now he is away and I am home alone with the fur babies and I am not enjoying being home alone.

I am still going out!

The Blues Kitchen Shoreditch with my Uni Friends

Still seeing my friends but I have to be home for the puppy! so my time is limited. Frank has to come first because he doesn’t have anyone else looking after him but me.

I am cleaning the house top to bottom and keeping busy. Because it needs it and to keep me busy and stop me missing him.

Us

Me and Gav aren’t romantic at all, but now he is messaging me 10 times a day! Normally it would be once. It doesn’t help that he is snowboarding with out me! But he is also on holiday with my best friend!

He deserved a break he has been working hard and it has been a stressful year for him. I know how much he loves a winter holiday. When we first started dating Gav took me snowboarding. As I am a slow learner gav planned a holiday together and then one he can snowboard at his level. He loves it and so do I!!

So I am happy he is there.

It is also making me appreciate how much I miss the little things he does for me. Lazy smiles, taking a bite out of his toast every day our morning chats!

Everything!

The silver lining is I have written some of my vows, my house is starting to get clean and tidy! I don’t feel very Christmasy in my home as the tree is still not decorated.

But time apart can be a good thing it’s just I don’t want to be apart from him right now!

Bulgaria travel: Snowboarding plans for next year

Planning, Travel, Wedding Budget

With all the wedding planning and budgeting, I didn’t think I could squeeze in a ski trip this year. It’s our 10 year anniversary so Gavin is treating me to a week snowboarding in Bulgaria.

I have never been to Bulgaria.

I can’t wait.

Planning the Snow Trip

When our snowboarding group started to talk about where we wanted to go I knew that the Alps were far out of my budget. I turned down the holiday and then they started looking further afield. I am not a great snowboarder but I have been doing it for long enough that I am confident on most slopes and situations. Unless we are talking about a sheet of ice I can pretty much tackle any slope. Just really really slowly.

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Photo by Borislav Krustev on Pexels.com

Bulgaria is cheap, super cheap. We are talking half the price of the French Alps in a hotel as well. We normally rough it in a french Hostel and so far I haven’t missed any luxuries. After 10 years of UCPA’s  its a hotel for us this time. The price tag is also great!

We are planning on renting a Chalet at some stage as most of us have our own equipment. We had a chalet in Samoens 4 years ago and it was so beautiful. I still have the same jacket I bought at the start of my Snowboarding life. I invested in a good coat and its only now that there is a bit of wear and tear in it. I also have amazing armour after I broke my wrist on the flattest slope on Samoens!

Borovets Ski Resort

The Apres ski is supposed to be amazing which I didn’t expect. The town has enough entertainment for us with restaurants and bars. The actual slopes are supposed to be great nothing too challenging so I will hopefully get a few more red slops under my belt. the only downside it the chairlifts as that is what they mostly are. My favourite thing to do each holiday is to board from the top of the mountain to the bottom. Then I reward myself with a nice vine chaud or Peche beer.

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I will pay for lessons for the first day to act as a warm-up plus it will just be me and my cousin in the glass. we will have some constructive tuition and then join the others on the rest of the holiday.

We are spending our evenings planning routes and looking on tripadvisor for restaurant recommendations. We like to slip out one night and just spend the evening alone. I really looking forward to not spending 40 euros on 4 bottles of beer! The pricing all over Borovets seems amazing value for money.

Living in London means I am used to spending £4-5 on a beer and £10 on a gin and tonic. With wedding planning and budgets I have been limiting my nights out but I still budget for a few.

Otherwise, what’s the point.

I am looking forward to dressing in cosy knits and sampling the sumptuous Bulgarian cuisine. I have already my guidebook as I like to be informed.

If you have been to Borovets Ski resort and have any advice let me know!

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!

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.

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