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?

What are my 5 Goals…… making me plan and think!

Advice, Personal Experience, Planning, Travel, Wedding

Day7, 5 year goals, 30 day blog challenge.

So this has made me think, think about what I want for myself, my work and my relationship.

So in 5 years I want to achieve…

1 get married. I know you already know I am achieving this goal this year but it still a big one for me!

I love Gavin I want to be his wife. I can’t wait for our wedding day. Hopefully it doesn’t rain but if it does we will have to go out and buy wellies and umbrellas!

For my home

2, get a new kitchen. Can that be a goal, yes well we will have to save for it so it isn’t something we can just splurge on willy nilly. It will take time to plan and find the right bits.

Our kitchen is nice it’s just tired. The bottom of the cabinet have spit due to water issues and I really really want a dishwasher!

I also would like a cabinet next to the sink and maybe french doors that go out into the garden but we will see.

I would also love a little toilet and sink upstairs but Gavin is really against that for some unknown reason.

There a few bits around the house that are tired and need a bit of TLC and after the wedding is a good time to focus more.

3 my blog being successful

I am so greatful for every single follower it means the world to me that for some reason you would read my blog. Gav gets an update with each one I get, and I punch the sky, John Bender style.

I would love it to be even better where I can have a proper website not just a page. I would like it to reflect me a lot more. My friend is a super talented graphic designer and after all the wedding craziness is over I will be looking to her for advice.

If it was a success I could spend a lot more time on the photography. Carefully planning layouts rather than the snaps you get right now.

4 travel

Japan is on my bucket list along with Vietnam, Laos and Singapore. I would like to have visited all of these countries in the next few years. We are honeymooning in Japan and plan to stop of on the way at another destination. So that will be two ticked off my list.

I have a fair few countries in Europe I really want to go to. I have never been to Italy, there is so much I would love to explore there. I feel like Italy’s city’s deserve destinations of there very own! I have also never been to Ireland and need to visit as we have ancestors there.

Iceland, Norway and Sweden are places of such beauty that are not far away but expensive to visit so this will definitely be a highly planned exciting schedule.

So travel is a big one!

5 Working less and earning more

Is that possible? I meaning working 4 days a week instead of 6. Maybe doing my dream job/ jobs…..

I wouldn’t mind working from home once a week so I could look after my dog. Currently I work 5/6 days a week. But I set the Rita so at least I decide when I work even if it is 6 days straight. I don’t mind but it can be draining.

Perhaps in5 years I will achieve my dream job and be a blogger full time. Travelling the planet, renovating my perfect little house and writing full time.

Who knows?

I always struggle to think of answers to these questions but so far this challenge has been more about a challenge for me to understand what I want rather than a challenge of writing a blog everyday!

I am really enjoying this!

We need to talk about Mario!

Personal Experience, Travel

So I loved Bulgaria. It was a wonderful week of great weather, pristine slopes, mountain dogs and my instructor.

I am a nervous snowboarder. Anything can unnerve me. On our first day my friend Jamie’s hit an edge and dislocated his shoulder. Not much of a holiday for him. As this happened on the first day I decided enough was enough I needed a lesson. I need to rebuild my confidence and go back to basics.

Private Lessons

So the lessons were really reasonable and the quality of them was brilliant. I have never had a private lesson before. Even when I have had lesson with group of 3 I have always been the last down the mountain or struggling to catch up. In France if you get lost they just leave you to find your own way back.

I cant be hard on the french instructors as their job is to get the best out of you as fast as possible. But for me however this type of learning doesn’t work. I hate to be last and I just end up being frustrated.

So i asked at the Samokov hotel Ski school for a lesson. I was really lucky. I got Mario! He was so nice and kind and new exactly how to handle me.

The first thing he said was not to worry we can go at my own pace and take our time till my confidence builds up.

He guided me through every turn, every patch of ice, he even held held my hand when I turned toe side edge of a steep red. His control of the board was a thing of wonder.

Encouragement

I mentioned earlier that racing down the mountain and always trying to catch my breath wasn’t the best training for me. The problem with being slow and last is you never get time to rest. People are always waiting for you. So by the time you catch up it times to push on again.

With Mario it was different.

All his encourage made me want to try harder and face my fears. The reds in Bulgaria were gorgeous and wide. So even though it was steep with a few patches of ice, the slope was amazing.

I pushed my self everyday, with every lesson and really enjoyed myself. In the end I I chose to have 4 lessons. I looked forward to hitting the snow. And on day 3 the snow was pretty perfect. Fresh powder is a snowboarders best friend. Even I was hitting the fresh snow and attempting little jumps ( completely failed) and loving it.

Yes I fell over a few times but it didn’t put me off!

Doing it for me

I normally spend my time with Linda, she skis, I board, we encourage each other down harder slopes. We drink vin chaud to reward ourselves and always have a great time. This time with her husband injured she didn’t want to leave him. His accident unnerved her skiing!

Normally each holiday I have a few good days of boarding and a few shitty days of hating it. This time I enjoyed every single day. Considering I didn’t spend most of my days without the group I really enjoyed myself. I snowboarded for my self.

Mario was the reason for this

I needed his encouragement and advice. The main thing he taught me:

  • Relax
  • Don’t bend your knees too much ( thats the fear)
  • Don’t panic
  • Stop looking down
  • Look where you are going
  • Don’t panic

Don’t loose my bottle!

I just kept going.  I went from top to bottom turning the whole way. I freaked out at the narrow flats but Mario got me cruising along them. I still freaked out about them but he had me linking all my turns.

He told me I get stuck in my head when I should just relax. I can do it, I have a lot of control and I know what to do, I just don’t push myself.

He also said that being in a group can be hard. That when your the best you excel but when you aren’t the best, it can affect your confidence. That’s why me going with a smaller group is good. That’s why me, Linda and John make such a good team.

I do feel a wee bit bad because everything Mario told me  Gav has said a million times. The problem with boarding with your loved one is when they tell you what you are doing wrong you can tell them to eff off! He gets frustrated with me, i get frustrated with him. he will spend 8 hours boarding… me not so much.

I get annoyed at Gav too easily even though he wants the best for me. But he pushes me to the point were I don’t want to prove myself. I need Linda to ease myself down the mountain.

Lessons learnt

I need to snowboard for myself.

I need to do what I want when I want. If I want to take myself off the mountain. If I want to get up late spend a few glorious hours boarding followed by a leisurely lunch. If I want to have a few drinks and watch Linda put her mittens on the wrong hands, then laugh all the way down the mountain, then I am going to do it.

Doing it for me.

Its my holiday too and should enjoy myself.

A little thank you

To Gavin, for putting up with my snowboarding nerves for years. I think I have lost my tittle of worlds slowest snowboarder. ( Maybe I am the third slowest definitely need a medal!).

To Linda, for always being my drinking slope buddy. For encouraging me and supporting me then having another drink just for fun! and for putting your mitten on the wrong hand!

And to Mario, for being the best instructor a girl could wish for. If you are staying at the Samokov Hotel in Borovets then please ask for Mario. I can’t recommend him enough.

I hope I will always have a little Mario on my shoulder guiding me down the mountain. Encouraging me so that I constantly improve.

Because I want to!

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!

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!

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

Planning and Organising 3 Hen Dos

Advice, Organising, Planning, Travel

 

Have you ever tried to plan a hen do? A group of relative strangers who are all linked via one person. It is not easy.

The older you get the more difficult it is to plan things.

To organise x amount of people with different things going on in their lives, sometimes it is practically impossible.

I have about 6 Whatsapp groups where we all try and meet up. Most of the time it is a text from Jess saying are you still up for Saturday. I have completely forgotten that I had plans but then I just end up going.

I used to be worse!

Completely dysfunctional; I forgot everything. But this isn’t anything this is my hen do.

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Snow Boarding group!

 

I am having a few: one in Madrid (my favourite city at the moment), A Hag do in London/France Skiing and another Hen in Essex. This way all mine and Gavin’s friends can attend the ones they are available for and can afford.

It sounds excessive but my sister lives in New Zealand so won’t be there until a week before the wedding. She is a bridesmaid so that’s why I am having an Essex Hen Do. Plus, the elders can attend that one.

Hen Dos are expensive

We are having a few, goodness knows how I am going to save for them.

I don’t really believe in your hens brunting all of the cost. I don’t mind them paying for drinks and the odd meal but not flights and accommodation.

hen do

Becky’s Hen do Edinburgh

I have organised one hen do, been part of the creative side of my sister in Law and attended a fair few myself.

My best friend gave me a list of 44 people.

I was freaking out about what that many people could do and stay. Luckily it was a small group of us that went away and a larger group that attended the London hen do.

Still there were cross words, tears and I am pretty sure one hen never paid me. Guess that’s my fault for not being more organised.

One of the biggest issues is people not getting back to you. Dongle the organiser was a great help for picking the date but still I only had people’s emails to deal with.

Nightmare

My dyspraxia means that I tend to read an email and answer in a very straight forward way. Which can come across as abrupt, blunt sometimes rude. I don’t mean it. I read emails at face value, without a tone and certainly not between the lines. Some of the hens didn’t understand this.  I had to explain myself to them and as soon as I talked about my dyspraxia they understood my reply’s.

All in all, we had an amazing Hen do in Edinburgh, caught up with old friends, drunk lots of booze in our old haunts. Walked up Arthurs Seat! Had afternoon tea at the Dome (you have to do this) did some touristy bit too. Scotland rocks!

But I made a lot of mistakes.

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Abi’s Hen do Munich

So, with this info I am going to aid my organiser

Becky told me where she wanted her hen do one drunken night so when it was my turn, she asked me where I wanted to go. First place I thought of was Madrid.

Hot, sunny, beautiful Madrid. I loved it there and can’t wait to go back. Gav is off to Krakow which I also adore but there is something magical about Madrid.

Flights and accommodation can be sorted out for less than £200 so it would be the same price staying in the UK.

Things I learned from hen Dos I have been to

  • Organisation is Key
  • Let people pay for themselves
  • Respect people budgets
  • The hardest part is finding a free weekend
  • People don’t respond to people they barely know
  • There is a lot of pressure on the person organising
  • We are adults, let people be

 

Organisation is key

in planning a Hen do it doesn’t matter if you have 3 or 44 people leaving things to the last minute doesn’t work.

Let people pay for themselves

I get that sometimes people find it easier to pay on one credit card and then people can pay them back later. But that puts the stress on one bank account. I couldn’t afford to do that so why should other people.

Respect people budgets

We all have different pay check and budgets, respect that some people can’t afford everything. You invite them because you love don’t make them feel bad if you can’t afford it.

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Sam’s Hen Do, Penfest, yes those are dark clouds!

Finding a free weekend

I have set the date and given everyone 11 months’ notice. If they can’t make it I understand but almost a year should be plenty of notice especially for dates and also to save.

People don’t respond to people they barely know

I have also taken it upon myself to invite the guests on my Facebook account. I have done this so Becky doesn’t have the hard task of chasing everyone up. After collecting money, I found this the hardest. The yes/no’s the last-minute cant makes it’s made me book a place, then cancel it loosing my booking fee and paying for a cancellation.

The person organising is gold

Becky is just looking after one hen do. She is then organising with the girls to see do the final details that I am not allowed to know about she has two rules, no strippers and no penis anything!!! She is a super star but I know it will be work for her.

 

Sorry Becky.

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Sam loves Tennis, Penfest

We are adults, let people be

I mean it. If you can’t make, I totally understand. If you can’t afford it, I really do understand. If you just don’t fancy another hen do then don’t come. If people want to go to bed early, let them. If they don’t fancy dancing till 3am I don’t blame them.

 

My bed time is normally 10pm.

 

I am not getting involved in my hen do anymore. I will leave the planning to my bestest.

All I want is lovely wine, great food and my friends.

That’s it

A perfect hen do for me.

Have fun with your hen do and treasure those who are helping. They are gold.

Dana

Jess and Crispin’s Hag Do, Drink Shop Do

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