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Archive for December, 2013

Christmas Eve and twelve hours in Cape Town under the belt. We flew in at around 11.20 local time this morning embarking on our two and a half week honeymoon in South Africa. Having left a stormy wet and wild UK 12 hours prior to that, the blinding sunshine that burned my retinas as I pulled up our window blinds on the airplane this morning was a welcome sight.

After a lengthy wait in the immigration queue with restless homecomers on their way back for Christmas, we hopped into our zippy hire car and hit the “N2” heading for the city.
A straight forward drive took us on a gentle curve towards the mighty Table Mountain, today permanently shrouded in its tablecloth cloud, maybe tomorrow we’ll get to see it in all it’s splendour.
We found our hotel easily -the Pepper Club – labelled as a luxury spa resort, allegedly frequented by the WAGs during the 2010 World Cup. Our room is smart and comfortable, we quickly unpacked, making ourselves at home.

Headed out onto Long Street, just round the corner, a vibey street packed with bars, restaurants, surf shops, craft shops and other curious windows… Hungry we found a place to sit, order a beer and tuck into some tasty food (shrimp curry for me). African dance music beating out into the street, the clear blue sky overhead and strong sunshine beating down, as the beer went down and the music swam in my ears, I could feel the distance from work and stress started slipping away. Suddenly it was 2005 again, last time I was in Cape Town, after 2 months of being on the road in Africa, I was young, carefree and in the present. Nothing else mattered. Pure bliss.

This afternoon we took the shuttle bus to Camps Bay, an incredibly beautiful and up-market crescent of power white sand. A line of bars and shops line the front and behind the, condos owned by millionaires. The wind was strong, whipping up the turquoise ocean into a boiling mass of wild water, crashing waves and spewing foam against the beach. We walked on the beach and the sand storm pin-pricked our bare calves. We took refuge in a fancy sushi bar and drank cool cocktails (I had a peach and ginger mojito and a cucumber cocktail) as the sun crept towards the horizon.

After a trip back to the hotel to shower and catnap, we headed out for our Christmas Eve dinner at Rick’s American Cafe, a cosy restaurant themed after Casablanca. We ate tapas, surrounded by Christmas Eve revellers, until our bellies were fit to burst, before hopping in a cab back to our hotel.

We’re back at the hotel now, battling our tiredness from our long journey to the end of the continent. An hour or so from midnight and Christmas Day. We’ll head out for a night cap, seeking a lively bar back on Long Street to cheer in the 25th. Not at all bad for our first 12 hours. Happy Christmas from the End of Africa!

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I dream of getting a puppy. A house with a garden and a vegetable patch. Time to create, to write, to paint. To spend time doing yoga, dancing, hooping, snowboarding, roller skating and playing for exercise. Meeting new friends and cherishing old relationships; friends and family. Completing new challenges and dreaming up new schemes. Helping others do the same and enjoying the adventure with like minded explorers. Not being afraid to try. Never being afraid to try.

2014 is just around the corner, full of promise, hope, potential, opportunity. It’s time to dream, to let imagination run riot, to paint a rainbow of possibility across your mind. Tint up your glasses with rose, etch those clouds with a silver lining. Make it happen, make it count, build up your dreams and run out into the world screaming at the top of your voice. Come on 2014 let’s see what we can do together.

In 2014 a friend and I are starting a club for 30 women in the Oxford area. It’s called the New Year’s Resolution Club. We’ll meet once a month for “class” which will be a monthly top up of creative journaling, networking and goal setting and tracking. It’s going to be a blast and I’m super excited to meet our first recruits for the year!

If you are in the Oxford area and fancy being part of our group, class enrolment is open! Sign up today and we look forward to meeting you in January!

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This month I’m taking part in ProjectReverb, a daily journaling exercise to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next. Each day a writing prompt is sent to me and I respond quickly and honestly. This is today’s prompt:

December 2. Shine what was the best moment of 2013?
There were a lot of great moments and experiences for me in 2013 but undoubtably the best one was my wedding day. It sounds corny but it is true, nothing comes close.

There is so much expectation placed on you, by you, to enjoy what is officially “the happiest day of your life”. My wedding was something I had been planning for over a year and channeling more hard earned cash than I want to think about right into it.

Despite the pressure it literally was the best day of my life. In my memories I’m trying to access the single moment that stood out, but it’s difficult, there were a few. It could be:

– Waiting outside the church ready to go in, the enormity of the occasion filling my chest with butterflies
– Walking down the aisle clutching my brothers arm, grinning like a fool as I took in all my friends and family around me
– Staring into the eyes of my husband in the making, still grinning, trying to remain as present as possible so as not to fluff the vows
– Walking down the aisle on his arm with Mendelssohn ringing in my ears and friends and family popping us on the cameras – we’re married!
– The dinner, the speeches, the first dance, the whole night….

But actually, when I think about the one single moment that stands out in my mind, It was around 6am the morning after, waking up in a messy penthouse suite, my big wedding dress strewn on the floor, hairpins littering the dressing table. I should have been a little hungover from the celebrations of the night before but I was ecstatic. I literally bounced out of bed and around the hotel room, overflowing with joy. I was married, I’d just had the party of my life, and there, tangled up in the sheets, groaning about my relentless energy and how ridiculously early it is so PLEASE come back to bed, was my very own husband.

We got married and it WAS amazing 😀

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As part of the warm up gig for the New Year with all it’s bright and shiny newness, I’m flexing my thinking muscles in December and taking part in ProjectReverb.

Each day I get sent a “prompt” and I write in response, the idea being that it will allow me to reflect on the year and take stock whilst looking ahead to plans and dreams for 2014. Today I received the following prompt into my inbox:

December 1. At the start: where did you start 2013? Give some background to the year.

On my first day of 2013 I rode a horse around the foot of an active volcano in Costa Rica. I was shaking off a nasty cough but in awe of the incredible countryside. My fiancé and I were guided by a Costa Rican cowboy on the tourist path, our horses slightly tired and stubborn. We stopped to spot a sloth lazing in a tree and then took our horses into the lake where they kicked up water to get us wet.

I felt wide eyed and optimistic for the year ahead, and blessed to be in such an amazing part of the world with the man I loved. A great way to start the year.

This year was all about the wedding. Our wedding (and about eight others!!). And a lot of travel. I didn’t really know it at the time but it would turn out to be an incredibly busy year for travel.

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I’m home for the weekend. “Home” being back at my mum’s, where I grew up. At mum’s place the morning noises start quite early, even on a Sunday. The running of the bath, the sighs and coughs as people stir, the dog on his excited clatter as he heads off on his morning walk across the field. Even the birds seem to want to get started on the day bright and early here.

I turn into even more of a night owl when I’m home. Usually relishing the fact that it’s a weekend, I’m on my own and so I’m allowed to lie in as much as I want. And there seems to be unlimited time to explore things here – new books to read, space to watch a film, do some random yoga in the living room… Or just to stay up late for no reason. It should be easy for me to miss the morning.

This morning it is December 1st, so the first noise to awake me was the call of “Rabbits!” the customary luck cry for the first days of the new month. I went to the bathroom and was met with a kaleidoscope of sunlight beaming through the stippled window. And a song popped into my head…. “That’s why I’m easy…. easy Like a Sunday Morning….”.

I knew it will be a beautiful day.

Desperate for more, I then hopped around the house seeking out new views of the beautiful Sunday morning. Birds criss-crossing the pale blue skies, frost dusting the flower beds in the front garden. I wanted to get out into that world.

I don’t have a garden in Oxford, not one of my own (it’s a plan for 2014…) so it’s difficult to pop out and have a morning contemplation. But here I just put as many clothes on as I could, wriggled into my trusty duffle coat, pulled my bobble hat over my ears and headed up the garden.

So now I sit, on the faded wooden porch of our summerhouse, overlooking a wonderful wrangle tangle winter garden of slightly overgrown grass and fallen leaves. I’m next to our fishpond, which has been here for as long as I know. It’s concrete walls are cushioned with moss and the surface on the water speckled with green. I can see two pillar box fish nibbling on the surface.

And it’s beautiful. It’s calm. I can hear the busy chatter of the many birds who live in the trees. Even the frenzied beat of wings as a bird launches from our bird feeder. The dog is up here with me, curious and keeping me company. Rusting and snuffling in the bushes.

Everyone and then I hear a snarl of an engine, a motorbike out on an early country spin. Or the whoosh of a car coming down the road.

A distant train, carving across the patchwork countryside.

And the beams of sunshine dance across the glistening grass,as the frost starts to melt, highlighting patches of leaves, bark, pond life, and right up onto the side of my face, warming me from the outside.

I can go round the world and experience moments like this. Those stolen minutes as the world is waking up. Usually on beautiful beaches, or nestling at the foot of wild and imposing mountain ranges, but here I can experience exactly the same feeling. At the bottom of the garden in my family home. Easy.
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