My love of Japanese wooden dolls and changing my spending habits

Honeymoon, Travel

So even though I love to travel and explore, I am not on the biggest wage so when it comes to spending money there are only a few things I like to invest in. Travel and experiences, I don’t mind, meals and nights out I think are memory makers, so if I blow my budget on a weekend then I don’t go out for the rest of the month and I am fine with that. I try not to live above my means but my credit card will definitely tell you a different story. I don’t have issues spending my money on food or skincare but that’s where it stops.


That is when I doubt myself and go no further.
I have had a look at my wardrobe in recent years and I am not really happy with it. Even though I didn’t spend hundreds I still indulged in fast fashion of Primark and although I actually have some nice pieces from there, I need to invest more in myself. I made a conscious effort to not be so frivolous and invest in better quality everything. Because I teach art I do get covered in paint and ink a lot so I do have a cheaper work wardrobe but I have started buying better jeans etc.


In Japan I bought a lot of skincare but that is a passion of mine. I also bough a fair few kimono jackets that I adore. They are all second hand and Gavin encouraged me as they are beautiful and I will have them forever. Because we were at the end of our holidays and because I hadn’t bought a souvenir Gavin (again) encouraged me to buy some wooden dolls.


These are frivolous, but I wont have the opportunity to buy them in Yamagata any time soon. So I took the plunge and bought three.
I love them.


In our vast and winding hotel in Yamagata we discovers Kokeshi dolls. They had cabinets full of them and I oved the display. These Wooden dolls that are hand painted with beautiful flowers and expressions. The original Kokeshi dolls were connected to the mountain gods and were said to bring fortune such as health recovery and good harvest to them. So what better reminder of my time on the mountain then 3 lovely wooden dolls.
I don’t mind if you don’t like them.


I spent ages selecting the ones I liked arranging them to see if they work together. I played around and selected my 3. The shop was empty so the man was delighted I was buying 3. I wanted more and if I had found them in Tokyo I would have bought more.


But I didn’t.


When I got home and put them in my red dining room Gavin produced a tiny doll. Then the next day he snuck another one in. I love them and I love him for being so thoughtful. They wont be to everyone’s taste but I think they are a wonderful reminder of our time in the slopes.


What strange item did you bring back from your holidays?


Or do you have any shopping regrets that you wished you bought?

Curating and Planning my Japanese wardrobe

Honeymoon, Organising, Planning, Travel, wardrobe

I am finding planning my Japanese wardrobe difficult. March means it may be cold and warm so I need to bear that in mind: we are also travelling a lot of the country so I needs to be minimum however it’s 3 weeks of clothes!!

Challenges

  • Weather changes
  • Snowboarding clothes
  • 3 weeks
  • Everything has to be comfortable
  • Limited space in the suitcases
  • We want room to bring things back!
  • Shoes need to be slip on or easy to remove

Most of this I already have but there are a few pieces I need to buy. I want my wardrobe to be mix and match

Weather Changes

We are going in March so the weather will cool and mild hopefully but as we are visiting the north and south we will be having all sorts of weather changes. Everything will need to be breathable and good for layering.

Snow boarding clothes

With the exception of my jacket which is pictured I didn’t put any of my kit in the picture. I am taking my goggles, knee pads and gloves as this is my basic amour. I will pack my new snowboarding snood as well because this doesn’t take up any room but it is tricky. I am still contemplating my trousers but I will have to see how small this all packs down. They will definitely deserve a packing cube of there own!

3 weeks

3 weeks is a good amount of time but at the moment I feel like I have a few too many pieces so I may have to edit this down even more. It’s about everything working together. We will be living out of our suitcases travelling the country. I have looked into laundry places and I think it will probably be a good idea to visit them at least once.

Comfort is king

I generally don’t wear uncomfortable clothes nothing is ever too tight but in Japan I need to make sure my clothes and especially shoes are super comfortable. We will be walking everywhere!

Gavin mentioned to me he will be buying new trainers ones that slip on so he can get out of them easier. This is smart thinking so I won’t be taking my knee high boots. My Chelsea boots and sandals will be fine although I will have to go bare foot when I wear them. I will have to have a pack of sockettes in my bag at all times.

I am also taking my gym gear. Incase I get up early and want to go for a run plus I can use them as a layer for snowboarding!

Chosen items

There is still a lot to consider but I have started washing and ironing my clothes and hanging them up on my rail to see if I need anything or better yet if I have anything I would rather take. I bought a pair of Marks and Spenser jeans and they fit so well I am going to buy another pair. My vests are a little bid grubby so I will be buying some basics and I think that’s me done!

I never wanted to spend a fortune on my wardrobe but a few nice pieces to spark it up. I will keep you informed if I buy anything else or add to it. Looking at this as a picture I know I can cut back and we have also looked at some of our hotels that have laundry service so we can invest in that and hand wash any items by taking some liquid detergent with us.

Best trip of my life

Personal Experience, Travel

Day 10, Best trip of your life, 30 day blog challenge

I have so many amazing holidays most of them involve involve the Seychelles.

Saga Holiday

When I was 20 my dad mentioned that he was going home. So I asked if I could come along! It was brilliant, I hung out with all his 50year old friends and honestly I couldn’t keep up with the drinking!

From Jo bringing is home made apple schnapps, yummy, to Harry showing me his party trick which is balancing a champagne bottle in head.

My saga holiday was bloody awesome. They all looked after me and I had a great time.

Sister trip

A few years later my sister suggested that we go to Seychelles together….

We spent our days hopping on the Tata from beach to beach. Eating delicious pizza at the Pirates Arms ( that’s how long ago we went). My dad wasn’t there but we ended up watching Argentinian soap operas with my granny! We hopped on the tata to watch movies at the cinema.

When we went to Pralin our taxi driver dropped us off but refused to pick us up. So we had to walk half way around the island in the pitch black. The road was surrounded by jungle and felt like it took forever!

Romantic Trip

First time I took Gavin to Mahe. Oh it was so lovely, good meals, snorkelling for hour, great cocktails. Gavin loved it. Even when I I took him down the wrong path which meant walking 40minutes in the jungle ( we got lost) and then discover the correct path!

La Digue was beautiful and our cabin was romantic and gorgeous!

Friends

We had a group holiday to furs where? You got it. Sun fun and sand. Again we snorkels drank and swam. The best food, wonderful restaurant and a great location.

Our snorkelling boat got delayed and we ended up on a private boat all to ourselves. Littlest to little Island at high volume.

We are definitely going to do a group holiday home again.

Family trip

Last summer was my sisters 40th and due to my wedding she wasn’t coming to Britain even though she wanted to. So I flew out to spend ten glorious days with the kids, my dad and his friends.

It was so much fun! We got to explore Seychelles through their eyes! Dad rented the most amazing house a short walk from the beach and with its own little pool!

We drank gin and dad cooked most of the time and we had ice cream from an amazing shop in Victoria! Me and Vicky talked about everything under the sun, we tanned and had fresh avocados picked from the tree!

On the way back I got to spend a whole week with my mum in France. It really was a perfect trip and although I missed Gav like crazy, it was good for us.

The Seychelles

So I have been more times than I have mentioned. I like to go every two years and my dad visits me to.

You may think I am lucky, and I am. But I wish they were closer. I hate saying goodbye and I hate that with the exception of my brother and mum I have to check the time before I call them.

It may seem crazy going back to the same place again and again but I love it. I learn something new everytime.

This is my heritage.

This is my family

Is this my Island?

Travel made easy, budget friendly Bulgaria

Advice, Personal Experience, Travel

Going to Bulgaria was already friendly on the wedding budget but we like to take a few mini bargain luxuries.

Transportation

We ordered the Gatwick flyer which is a airport taxi service that does all airports in London not just Gatwick. Picked us up from our door and dropped us off at stanstead airport! Not as expensive as a taxi and we were lucky enough to be the only ones on the journey.

Brilliant.

The driver helped with the suitcases. Was lovely and chatty and so was the driver the driver on the way back. They let you know what time to be picked up and they track your flights I they know when you get in!

Love them, rate them. Will use them again.

Ryan Air

Okay I whinged about Ryan Air and they were fine, we upgraded to priority so we could get another bag and have the bigger seat. So it was an added expense but it meant no fuss. No issue with our bags and space for our suitcase.

Lounge

Gav get two lounge passes a year and we pay for the rest. The lounge is only good if you get a few hours. They are totally worth it. Unlimited food and drink just don’t get too drunk. You can pick up a bottle of water and snacks and charge you phone.

I loved it.

Last time I was at stanstead it was being redone. This time however it was completed. There was lots of choice of dining, shopping.

I bought a Chanel lipstick and balm, Gav bought an Aftershave and two bottles of gin. We tried the Sulent Pool

The flight

It’s roughly 3 hours to Sofia from Stanstead. The flight felt long but I had my books and Gav treated us to a cheeky gin and tonic!

So we had a lovely relaxing time.

When we got off the plane we only had to wait 5 minutes for our transport. Priority means your luggage gets a space as well which is great.

Sofia airport was clean and organised. We didn’t have to wait for long for our luggage and the oversized bagged was also quick!

We paid a little extra for room on our seats, we had to pay for extra for baggage. Bulgaria is so budget friendly that we could afford a few extras and they were great. We whizzed through the airport. If you a few hours to spare then a lounge may be £30 plus but for a few drinks and food you can totally make the money from it! Plus they supply water bottles for your flight.

Yes all these things were added extra but they were budget extras. These little luxuries made our journey so much easier.

So if we have the time we would do it all again!

Snowboarding Outfit planning and packing

Organising, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel

When I first went snowboarding I looked up what to wear!

I had no idea.

Gavin informed me of all the bits I needed for the trip and insisted it was better to buy better pieces. Well ten years on I still have my snowboarding coat. It has a few wears and it came in handy during the snow in Britain a few years ago. But other than a few patches it looks pretty perfect.

It’s a Betty Rides coat and I bought it in TK Maxx for £60. I didn’t even know if I would like it but I go back every year to the slopes sometimes twice!

This isn’t about necessities though that can be on another post. This is about what to pack when you are there!

So firstly if it is your first time on a snow trip then unless you are naturally gifted then you are going to fall over or tumble a lot. This means that you don’t want to pack in anything two restricting after you get off the slopes. I live in jeans I always have I find them so comfy but I won’t be taking my super skinny ones. Instead I will take ones that I can spend all day in and love it.

We are traveling with Ryan air which are a shit but cheapish airline. Normally I wouldn’t complain but the flight may be say 60 but then they charge x amount for hand luggage, x amount for a suitcase. I would rather fly with B & A or virgin but sadly they don’t fly there.

Don’t get me started on flying from Stansted either.

So I always have a travel outfit. To save space I travel in my boarding coat as this would take up so much of my suitcase.

I have a favourite Harry Potter tee that I always travel in and my roomy jeans.

No heels

Let’s talk about shoes. Ladies I promise you don’t need heels. No man cares about your shoes especially when there is snow or worse ice outside. So base you outfits around cute boots and walking shoes! Moon boots are adorable and you can make them work. You can wear trainers if it’s warmer weather!

Ski holidays are often about fun so don’t be afraid to add pops of colour and clashing items. When I first went everything was neutral. Now I love bright turquoise accessories.

Another thing you need to bear in mind is layers. When it’s cold in Britain we know we don’t cope that well. But ski towns are built for the cold. I have never been cold on a ski trip. Maybe on the mountain or a chairlift but never in the town. All the restaurants and bars are lovely and warm so layering is key.

The restaurants hotels hostels are all warm. You don’t need your thickest jumpers. Just think about how hot you get when you travel. Coat jumper tee: perfect layers. It is better to layer up then. A few thin jumpers will see you through.

Night life going out out

We aren’t really clubby people but when we are on holiday we sometimes will spend the night dancing away! Now you can dress up if you like but the majority of people will be in cute tees and hoody’s.

We come for the powder not for fashion.

No club or bar is going to turn you away because you are wearing snow boots jeans and a tee! It’s cold they understand.

It’s all about comfort! You are going to see a lot of big brands like Montclere, Canada Goose. These brands are super duper expensive but they are all about comfort and keeping you warm!

So what to pack!

Start with a list.

Try to build outfits rather than individual items. I find writing a list makes it easier to not over pack and to really think about what you want.

I do love packing cubes they make everything so much easier!

When it comes to boarding gear a list is essential so you don’t miss anything off. This also doubles as Gavs list so he can use most of it!

I think both of us has two tees we didn’t use so that isn’t too bad!

Organising is key to stress free packing.

So write a list.

Plan your outfits.

And enjoy!!

Paradise on a tighter Budget: Exploring The Seychelles

Advice, Planning, Travel

Firstly, you can travel anywhere on any budget it is all about flexibility and knowing what you are prepared to put up with. Seychelles is a paradise but trust me when I say you can visit it on a budget.

As you are reading this I should be sitting on a beach with my niece nephew sister and dad in the glorious Seychelles. Otherwise known as home, well my second home. But even though my family are from here I don’t always stay with them. I have stayed in a lovely BnB in Beauvallon and also a house on the beach in Praslin, la Digue and also a shack on Mahe.

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These are my hints and tips of exploring Seychelles

Rainy season is always cheapest and I have been twice during this and suffered just two days of rain! So, I basically got to catch up on a good book for a day and didn’t have to leave my room. Not so bad when you have family and friends around you, but we also took a trip into Victoria and had a mooch around. If you don’t want to risk the rainy season just don’t book during the school holidays, flights double in price.

Packing for the tropics is easy

All you need is light breathable airy clothes. Floaty trousers or dresses for the evening mosquitos are every wear and love me. And beach casual clothes for the evening.

Natural materiels like silks linen and cottons will let your skin breath and keep you cooler. Please check out my blog on packing tips for more inspiration.

You can check our me Clothes and Skincare recommendations here.

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My family are based in Mahe the largest island in The Seychelles and to me the most beautiful. The tiny islands offer pristine beaches tropical hang outs expensive hotels and incredible waters.

Guess what?

You get all of this on the main land too.
It’s the people who make the place not just what nature has created.
Most people who visit or honeymoon in The Seychelles, land and then fly out to a tiny island missing some great places. If you can sit on a beach or by a pool every day and not do much then fine, I can’t do it, I like to explore and take in this exciting country.

Mahe is glorious and it is really, really hard to find an ugly beach. It is also a lot cheaper than the smaller island and has a lot more to do.

Accommodation

Air Bnb , apartments, hotels with special offers you can kip for cheap, you just have to shop around. Booking.com lets you reserve a room, search for bargains etc and cancel without paying fees. Like I have said before if you are flexible then you can find a bargain I am going to recommend two is where we stayed Georgina cottage, Eddie the manager was a fountain of local knowledge for that side of the island. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t plug my uncles apartments http://www.chezpayet-guesthouse.com/ which are near to the airport and a short drive to some gorgeous beaches.

Hindu Temple

Hindu Temple Mahe

Getting around

Yes, do book your airport transfers so you don’t have any stress but after that, taxis can be expensive and I live in London. My sister and I stayed in a gorgeous guest house in Praslin, the beach was just incredible. We decided to go visit one of the exclusive hotel for cocktails and booked a taxi there. When we were done for the night we tried to order a taxi home (there were three on the island) and they wouldn’t come and pick us up!
The bar manager said that if we were still there at the end of the shift then he would drive us home ( he was so lovely). His shift didn’t finish till 2 and it was 9.30 and we were ready to go back.

The sun set at 6.30pm
We had to walk back through the tropics late at night night.
Luckily, nature wise nothing really can kill you here.
It was still scary but actually made one of the best memories I will ever have,  me and my sister on that incredible beach lit up by the light of the moon.

The bar Manager said when you book a taxi, make sure you arrange your pick up and on the smaller island only pay them half, they can pick up the rest when they collect. I am not sure you will have that issue on Mahe but on Praslin it is a gem!

Use the Tata

My top tip though is the bus, get the Tata. It goes everywhere around Mahe it is beyond cheap. You can take it from any bus stop and they have a main bus depo in Victoria. Its less than a pound and are fairly regular but there aren’t many night buses so just watch the times.

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Carana Beach, those waves were fun!

Beach Life

My last trip to Seychelles I invited a group of friends with me and Gav. It was great there were ten of us in total. We spent most of the time in the water. If you love snorkeling or diving then this truly is the place for you. Most days we swam for four hours watching the fish, exploring the corals.
You need to pack your snorkeling gear!

Knowledge and Safety

All the beaches in the Seychelles are for everyone, there are no private beaches. But there is private land. There is nothing wrong with hiring a boat (and skipper you don’t know the water so don’t be foolish) and parking it up on a tiny beach. We have had many a BBQ on a beach where it has just been us!

Listen to the locals there are two main beaches in Seychelles that have warning signs about not to swim there. Yet every year a tourist drowns and lives are destroyed because of foolishness. There are hundreds of perfectly safe beaches on Mahe and on the smaller islands please use them.

Grand Anse

Take your Pictures but please don’t swim here!

Respect the Water and the locals

Waters and beaches change all the time. In the rainy season your favourite beach maybe a bit rough and the rest of the year it is like a mill pond. So a general rule of thumb is if it is rough on one side of the island just go to the other.

Grand Anse has a sign up all the time warning of the rip tides, so paddle your feet, take your pictures and drive 10 minutes down the road to find a glorious safe beach to swim at. Rip tides are dangerous and more people drown or get into trouble by going out to help!

If you choose to swim in an area where you shouldn’t then you need to know this. Rip tides generally don’t last long, so float with them don’t fight them!

Intendance in la Digue is worth a visit but again not worth a swim. We have a great photo of my sister in the surf as a toddler. Two seconds after my mum put the camera down a wave took my sister off her feet and dragged her out to sea. My dad new the waters and was near her when it happened but he still had to jump in to save her.

Seychelles is a pretty safe place.

Because tourism is there bread and butter you will find security on most beaches even the obscure ones that you have to hike to get to. They want you to be happy here so they provide it. That doesn’t mean be obnoxious and leave your iPhone and iPad everywhere but just that you should always keep an eye on your stuff but there is generally security on the beaches.

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Sunscreen and cover up

Everywhere in Seychelles you can buy it and it is not that expensive. You will need it whether it is hot or overcast. Seychelles is fairly close to the equator so the sun is hot all day long!

I was burnt to a crisp once when on a very overcast day.

Too little to late and sunstroke to boot!

If you are by the water all day then please sure you top up constantly.

Food

Like the people Seychelles food is a mix of all the surrounding countries Kreole food is so good. If you love fish then you must try the Red Snapper or bourgeois, fresh tuna, octopus and parrot fish. Seychelles food is often fried or grilled and served with lentils rice and a salad/ salsa. I am so hungry typing these words.
You will never have fish and chips like this!

Island hopping

Please do this, please do visit the other island. I know I said Mahe is beautiful but hire a boat or do a trip to the other islands. Praslin and la Digue are expensive so it will be a treat. But Moyenne is pretty for lunch, we also go snorkelling there then have lunch it is all included in the price. Going during the weekday means they will be less crowded and sometimes they do special offers.

The Capital

Victoria is a tiny capital but here you will find pretty trinket shops along the streets but the liveliest place in Victoria is the market place. If you go early you can see sharks and the huge fish. This is a real market and no they don’t mind you taking photos but try and stay out of their way.

Seychelles it totally achievable if you do your research, check flights and boats and just budget for it. We found we could eat lunch in the most expensive places then save our pennies for dinner in the cheaper places.

I hope you enjoyed and let me know if you have been to the Seychelles.