Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2013

Yup, bet that got your attention. Well, it’s true, as of this week and I am SO excited.

So it started when I won my honeymoon to Tobago which I’ve warbled on enough about in my blog already, and I thought there would be a catch so I asked Jill, the lovely lady at Golden Holidays, what she would want from us and all she said was “we’ll, you can send us a photo of the happy couple when you’re over there and we’ll put it in our newsletter”. Fair enough, easily done. But I like to write, and with my marketing thinking cap on I thought I could easily whip up a little report of what a fab time we had and she could extract some endorsements for her newsletter.

So I did, and sent it with a selection of photos to Jill.

She loved it and asked if she could send it to a few people – yes of course!

And now I’m a centrefold (technically we both are… Well *technically* we’re not ON the centrefold, but it is a double page spread with a centrefold – with the Trinidad Express!! Ta daaaah:

Newspaper

AND it’s been published with the Tobago News – very excitingly as “Breaking News”:
http://news.co.tt/public_html/article.php?story=20130526105009196
And it’s also heading to the Tobago Guardian!

And the most exciting thing about this whole situation is that I’m off the blocks in my fantasy career to be a travel journalist! So I’m now thinking that guerrilla honeymoon journalism is the way forward. I could definitely roll with that. So, if you know of anyone who needs an island paradise review, I’m your gal 😀

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I’m just back from a 3 day trip to the island of Guernsey. It was my first ever Channel Island experience and I was pleasantly surprised! First of all, I didn’t think it was possible to get anywhere exciting on a plane in 35 minutes, but FlyBe proved me wrong as this super light and easily wind-buffeted tiny plane soared out of those familiar Gatwick-Grey skies and headed South West, leaving our craggy coastline, passing over the Isle of Wight and pointing in the general direction of the Bay of Biscay. As I peered out of my airplane port hole, I could see the thick cloud cover start to whisp away, the sun appeared and far, far beneath our metal tube of a plane I could see the white horses chasing over the deep blue waters of the English Channel.

Within what seemed like minutes I felt the lurch of the plane as it started its descent, and small rocky islands started appearing in the port hole.

From the air you are initially distracted by the tiny but enchanting islands of Sark and Herm. With their wild rocky coastlines and golden bays. From the air you can see the beautiful grading of blue waters, moving from a steely blue to royal to green and then turquoise as the water gets shallower. I try to focus on the wiggling roads that traverse the islands, perhaps not big enough for a car (I hear there are no cars on Sark), and spot perhaps one clustering of houses on the cliffs. Now THAT is an island. I wonder often the islanders get to the mainline, how isolated they feel. I’m excited to get onto my own island.

Guernsey is a giant in comparison and they first part of Guernsey I see is St Peter’s Port. It glints in the bright sunshine. Densely built up with buildings, marinas, and of course the nearby airport, I’m left wishing I’d parachuted out over Herm, like the man from Milk Tray…

But then as we get closer to the ground, the space becomes green, patchwork, reminding me of my favorite descent into England. Suddenly it’s picture perfect countryside. The kind of place you would expect Postman Pat to roam, with his black and white cat.

The airport is tiny and they don’t need to check your passport as you are still technically on UK soil. These things feel weird. A plane ride for me moves me into a foreign place where rules and protocol must be followed. Here we’re breaking the rules. We quickly and easily locate our hire car and head out to find our house for the weekend.

Driving in Guernsey is an experience. Up there with Italy. Of course I’m commenting from the passenger seat, but it’s still an experience! The hedgerow are beautiful; dense greenery peppered with wild flowers, hugging the roads to the point of nearly swallowing them up. And they’re high, so high you can’t see over them, so effectively the whole island is like being in a maze. A lot of the roads in the interior are single track, so you drive around praying that you won’t meet a tractor coming the other way. But you needn’t worry, there’s no one around. Perhaps a bike, or dog walker, you may bump into the bus that circumnavigates the island. We saw it once in three days.

So Guernsey is beautiful. It’s old school. Somehow it stirs a distant memory for me, somewhere between a childhood nostalgia of British summers running through fields (those fields no longer exist) and a memory created from storybooks, The Famous Five or Adventurous Four; bikes and picnics and long days in the sunshine, with a dog in tow.

The coastline is magnificent. Not the picture perfect sandy shores, although they are there, but at low tide the real coastline reveals itself; gnarly jagged craggy rocks jutting up towards the sky. Fishing boats lie abandoned at low tide. There’s something prehistoric about this place.

The island is quiet, peaceful. A place to convalesce. A place to unwind and retreat. We all felt it, instantly relaxing from our city-infested lives. We did find a small spark of life though, lunch in St Peter’s Port. The cobbled streets, the familiar high street shops. The fashioned teenagers and locals in tracksuits. There ARE people here, life goes on here as well! But I preferred getting lost in the hedgerow maze again, back to the silence of our Guernsey hideaway, and we did so via the cliff coast, with breathtaking views of the sandy bays below.

It was a short and sweet visit, to watch our good friends getting married on this tiny little island. This morning, we were back in the airport and as we took off, back on our little plane I looked back out through my port hole window at the now familiar outline of the island of Guernsey. I thought how funny that the whole island could fit in that tiny airplane window, sparkling in the sunshine, I could see St Peter’s Port, the run way, the rocky shores, the cliffs, the sandy beaches, and maybe, just maybe if I really looked hard enough, the maze of hedgerows that hide the secret hideaway that I know lies just 35 minutes from my hectic world. Ahhhhh….

image

Beach near St Peter's Port

image

Wild coast

image

Guernsey shells

image

Cobbled streets of St Peter's Port

image

Overlooking Le Jeonnet

Read Full Post »

This last week has been pretty tough. It always is when you come home from a trip. And April was a big month for me, traversing 4 continents in 3 weeks, the jet lag, the adrenalin, falling in love with beautiful islands on opposite sides of the world.

I spent last week once again battling my Travel Gremlins. The ones that climb inside my ears at night and whisper words such a “freedom”, “adventure”, “footloose”, and “fancy free”.

On my return journey from Thailand I was already plotting and planning my return trip back to Thailand. I could squeeze another one inby the end of the year, even if only for a long weekend… ERM.. As soon as I was home I started contemplating honeymoons, the US, Australia, Bali, Maldives… I was ready to unpack, wash, repack and head back to Terminal 3, or 5, or 4. Then Nepal suddenly popped into my brain. I was obsessed for about 24 hours, plotting and planning how I can get there this year. I could see the bright prayer flags flapping in the breeze, inhale the icy thin air, feel the rocks beneath my walking boots. I was there in my mind, conjuring tricks to make the reality happen. I ached with the need to turn around and get back to Heathrow.

I distracted myself in the web, browsing news pages and blogs, surfing Interest and Tumblr. I found a picture that spoke to me. It understood…

image

And then I felt better. Looking at this picture makes me feel better.
And then I went and took three hula hoop workshops back to back.
And then I started my “to do” list for work. It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve been in the office and there’s hard graft to do.

So I decompressed. It was tough and slow at first, and it held on tight this time. The bug takes hold, the gremlins whisper, and I don’t want to fight it. But I know I have a life to live here that is just as full of adventure and freedom and opportunities for flights of fancy. I just have to run meetings and write strategies and deliver campaigns and motivate teams at the same time….

I’ll keep looking though, for that magic glimmer, for that slither of opportunity where these two worlds collide. I have a feeling I may already be in that place and not know about it until it’s gone, so I remain grateful but hopeful that it will continue and one day the decompression as I slip between those worlds will be a little less intense…

Travel quotes make me happy.
image

image

image

image

Read Full Post »

There is something about visiting Asia that makes me come home wanting to look after myself better.
Last year, in South Korea, I learnt the art of cleaning, REALLY cleaning! Not just slapping a cloth over your body but spending considered time working on every square inch of skin, hair, nails.

This time in Thailand it was more holistic, I discovered the importance of spending time on my body and mind.

It turns out I’m tense. In my shoulders, neck, back, forearms (!), calves, thighs, feet… Some serious massage work needs to get those muscles soft and pliable again. That is if it’s not too late!

I had my second “oil massage” in two days today (from my new favourite place ‘Best Massage’ opposite Radisson Blu Panwa). After yesterday’s pummeling I went back for more. There was something about a looming 14 hour flight (two 7 hour flights with a 4 hour stopover in Dubai -groan) that made me crave some induced circulation throughout my limbs!

So I was kneaded and prodded and pummeled, stretched, and slathered in coconut oil. I could feel the oil soothing and softening my sun battered skin. I don’t know if it looked any younger but it definitely felt it!

The coconut oil brought back memories of another amazing Asia trip, this time to India around 5 years ago. There me and my girlfriends discovered the secret of beautiful Indian hair and spent many an evening massaging the pure stuff into our parched frizzy barnets.

So back to the present, and moving onto the mind. During this whole trip I’ve been craving a spiritual topup. We went to see the Big Buddha as he cast his cool gaze out over Phuket. This was a wonderful experience, especially as it was at sunset and the tinkling of tiny bells accompanied the close of the day and I started to get my fix… But I was with a couple others who whisked me off in a tuk tuk to Patong, so that calm was quickly shaken off.

Today, my last day, I was alone. I took my opportunity and grabbed a very expensive (for one person!) taxi to Wat Chalong.

Wat Chalong is the largest temple in Phuket and it provided the sanctity I so craved. Despite the bus loads of local tourists and piles of shoes outside every entrance, I slowly worked my way through each temple. Feeling the serenity of the place, marvelling at the glittery facades, inhaling the evocative incense, jumping when the firecracker offerings burst into life, enjoying the cool marble pressing into the soles of my feet as I gladly left my shoes at each door and padded around the buddhas.
Beautiful, serene, Thai to to core. Despite the crowds. Despite the army of ipad camera. Despite the stiffling heat. Despite the pricey taxi ride. My mind got it’s downtime.

So, as I sit in Phuket airport and wait for my (combined) 14 hour flight, I’m circling my head to further release those neck muscles and feeling the calm of this morning’s Wat visit. Now is the time to set some good intentions for my return to the UK.

Adopt the Eastern way a little more. More massage, more relaxation, more time for my body and more time for my mind. I think I just discovered the secret to the “Land of a thousand smiles” 🙂

image

Beautiful Wat Chalong

image

A flip flop offering

image

!!

Read Full Post »

Twenty four hours from now I’ll be in a taxi on the way back to the airport. I’ll be heading home, back to the UK, after a fabulous nine days in Thailand, Phuket. This trip was a work trip, I was attending an annual sales conference for our Asia sales reps, and presenting to them throughout. I was lucky enough to sneak in a few days before and after, on the weekends, and I rekindled my deep love for this wonderful country.

And now I only have one day left.

As the clock ticks down to that final taxi ride, my mind races with all the possibilities of what I could do in my final day. A full day tour to a national park with a starlight canoe tour? An elephant safari and monkey show (!)? A taxi ride to the biggest “Wat” (temple) on the island, a spiritual top up, followed by another incredible massage? Or just relaxing, lounging on the sunbeds by the pool, reading and getting some proper down time?

Choices choices.

The first few days on the island were a whirlwind of activity – we stayed at the tranquil and beautiful Baan Vanida Garden resort and took in the beautiful beaches on the west coast, from Karon to Kata, the powder white arcs of sand, the glittering sea, as warm as a bath. Zipping between bays in a tuk tuk, the devil may care feel of driving with the wind blowing your hair. Up to see the Big Budda, winding the wirggling roads through a more rural thailand, through rubber plantations and passing elephants on the road. Getting amazing 360 views of Phuket as the sun was setting and turning the landscape a dusky pink.

And a night out in Patong. It had to be done.

Then we transfered to the oasis we’re in now – Radisson Blu Panwa Beach resort, on Cape Panwa, a little stump on the end of the island. This hotel is stunning, the reception/bar area has the widest views of the sea, and the beautiful infinity pools below stretch out to meet the sea. Water water everywhere.

After spending 4 days in a conference room, we finally spilled out into the sunshine yesterday afternoon, and today was all about getting back into Thailand. A massage, a longtail to Coral Island. Snorkelling, spotting puffa fish and electric blue starfish, and the most delicious prawn green curry on plastic tables overlooking the beach.

The air is thick with humidity, heady with the scent of frangipani. The food is delicious, bursting with incredible fresh flavours. The people are absolutely and most definitely the nicest people in the world.

I want to stay here. I want to cancel my taxi and wander Thailand for another month. I want more. I want my muscles to become loose from the massages, my skin to be smooth from the oils and exfoliation of the sand. I want to become fit with all the swimming and healthy from all the fresh food (no diary, no carbs!). And I want to redistribute my wrinkles – enough of the lines between my eyebrows from frowning at computer screens, I want to move them to the corners of my mouth, from all the smiles and small bows of gratitude that happen a hundred times a day here (Krup ku kah…).

But I only have one day.

I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. I’m going to start with a good sleep and take it from there. But I’m not going to put pressure on myself to do everything. I just want to “be” here. My love affair with this country continues, and I will be back for more. I just know it.

Buddha

Sunset at the Big Buddha

desk chairs

Khai Nai Island

fish feet

Fish feet!

flowers

The sweetest smelling flowers in the world

Fish and curry

Grilled fish and green curry

Karon Beach

beach with longtails

Coral Island

tuk tuk

On a tuk-tuk ride

Read Full Post »