Allowing the Storm to Pass

The last two weeks have been particularly volatile. Storm Abigail and Storm Barney have hit the UK and we have seen really strong gales and gusts. My drives home from work have been difficult mainly due to me driving a very light car. When being hit with 30 mph gusts I find I have to concentrate very hard – I’m a fairly new driver and this is my first experience of this!

I’ve also been dealing with stormy weather in my personal life. Hormonal changes and my crazy brain put me into a fairly dark place for the past couple of weeks. It’s lead to me stripping down my calendar, cancelling a lot of long standing plans and dealing with the present. I find in times like this that if I simply deal with what’s in front of me I can calm my nerves and start to feel much better.

I had a lovely long Skype call with my friend Tash last weekend. We chatted and chatted and I caught up with what she’s up to in Vietnam. It was wonderful to see her face and touch base with her. She’s only been there 7 weeks but I miss her a lot!

I’m also waiting on the imminent birth of the second Book Club baby. Hayley’s baby boy isn’t due until 27th November but people keep telling her she’s going to be early. She’s having baby twinges but no contractions yet. I can’t wait to meet him!

Christmas season is upon us now, and the TV is full of Christmas adverts. John Lewis have come up with another cracker, about the Man on the Moon – though their ads are becoming increasingly tenuously linked to Christmas. The Coca-Cola advert was shown for the first time this year, last night. It prompted me to YouTube their The Holidays are Coming advert because I always seem to remember it slightly different. Originally aired in 1995, the advert was much longer, had a longer song in it and in my opinion had a much greater build up. More exciting and prettier. But over the years it’s been shortened. I wish they’d debut the advert each year with the longer version and then show the shorter one after that, if they must.

I’m starting to feel a little more Christmassy, and since it’s only 34 sleeps until the big day I think it’s about time. Next weekend will most likely see our annual tree putting-up session, whilst we watch people squealing on The X-Factor. And speaking of the X-Factor…. Last year’s almost winner has released her first single ‘Sax’. It’s being played, ad nauseaum and even features on the new Christmas Asda adverts. But one thing is really really bugging me about the song (other than it’s Uptown Funk’s inferior cousin) – there’s no obvious saxophone in the song. In a song where she demands you ‘Play that sax’ repeatedly, you’d expect some obvious saxophone action – or at least a Baker Street-esque saxophone riff. But no. The song does have saxophone in it, but it’s an un-obvious muddy bass line and totally missable. Bad form Fleur, bad form.

Anyhow, I digress. I can foresee the next month being full of Christmas plans, babies (or one baby!) and hard work. Gary and I still have to plan some of our trip to New York, which is one of the things getting me through this difficult, cold and dark end to the autumn. I’m hoping some festive lights and festive activities will help me along.


Busy Doing Nothing & Hot 8 Brass Band

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and that’s partially because not a huge amount has happened, and partially because I’ve been busy not being busy.

G-Man and I both came down with a cold that didn’t want to go away, so we’ve spent a lot of time catching up on TV, watching movies and having some much-needed down time. After such a busy summer it’s been great therapy.

Autumn is in full swing, the clocks have changed, the weather is getting more crisp – though as I write this it’s glorious sun and warm outside. Halloween is notoriously warm, and it usually gets really cold between then and Guy Fawkes Night. This year, however, our local firework display is tonight (the day after Halloween) and so it’s going to be a lovely mild one. It’s going to be nice not having to wrap up too warm to go and watch the display.

Traditionally Halloween is a night that I either avoid being in the house, or buy loads of sweets for Trick or Treaters who never show up. Last year I broke this tradition by going to see Lena Dunham speak after the release of her book. This year Gary and I travelled to Brighton for a gig.

New Year’s Eve 2014  I took a trip with my Mum to my Grandma’s and on the journey we listened to Radio 2. Craig Charles was playing his show, and during this he played a cover of Sexual Healing by the Hot 8 Brass Band. Look them up if you don’t know them, they’re really good. We found out a few months ago that they were playing a tour to celebrate 20 years of the band, and we grabbed tickets right away.

If you have a spare 5 minutes have a watch – it’s worth it.

We arrived in Brighton just in time to watch the sunset and then had a wander through the zombie-filled streets (it was Halloween after all), grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to Coalition, the venue for the gig.

imageThe band was amazing, so tight. It was so much fun and we danced the night away.

The drive home was really foggy but that added to the Halloween atmosphere. We woke this morning achy, tired and my ears were still muffled and ringing….. But it felt worth it. If you get the chance to listen to Hot 8 then do. You’ll not be able to sit still!

Experience is Priceless

As a child, I went on family holidays once a year to somewhere in the UK. Usually Devon or somewhere similar. We had a few trips on a ferry to France, but until I met Gary the furthest I’d been away from my home was Belgium, and that was on a school trip.

Gary and I visited New York within a year of meeting, for Valentine’s Day. My first taste of America and we were snowed-in in the most beautiful place to be snowed-in.

506406072_498aaec972_oAnother trip to New York followed, this time in spring. And then for our honeymoon we travelled to San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York.

Gary was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease not long after, and what followed was years of surgery, recovery and coming to terms with a change of life as well as a change of pace for both of us. We put holidays on the back burner and trips consisted of Center Parcs breaks and days out in London, which were great, but didn’t get close to our previous trips.

We then jumped onto the property ladder with both feet and all of our savings. Any home owner knows that the first few years are hard. Belts are tightened and holidays are pretty much off the cards. But this year, Gary and I decided to throw caution to the wind. We’re not getting any younger, both of our health seems to have improved and plateaued and the urge to travel hasn’t been getting any weaker.

This year we have already been to Las Vegas, Gary to Rome and me to Ibiza. We’ve had some lovely weekends away, a trip to Liverpool and next…. we’ve booked to go back to New York!

Not only that, we fly on Christmas Day and will get to spend Christmas afternoon and evening there. We can’t wait to see the Christmas lights, the tree at Rockefeller Center, ice skate – everything! It’s been a long time since we were last there (our honeymoon 8 years ago!) and there have been so many changes to the city since then.

Being a rather Christmassey pair, we have pulled out all our New York movies, and begun watching them with a final flourish of our New York Christmas movies further into the season. Home Alone 2 will certainly feature more than once, Serendipity (and we intend on visiting this cafe during our stay!) and Scrooged are on the list.

This year has certainly been a year of holidays, especially after having not travelled for so many years, but we realised that experience is priceless. You can wait until you’re richer, healthier, have more time, but there will always be something that gets in the way. We’re grabbing the world with both hands this year. I can’t wait to experience the rest of it!

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 3

Hello! This is my 3rd and final post rounding up my recent trip to Ibiza. If you haven’t read the other two you can read part one here, and part two here!

So after an exciting, but soggy day previous, we woke, had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then headed off to get our cab to the other side of the island and to Playa Den Bossa. At this point the rain started, rain like we’d never seen before.

Being from England we’re used to the rain, but we’re also used to it draining somewhere. Not in Ibiza. That water just sits on top of the ground. I have a wonderful memory of us all sat in the cab, chatting to the driver when the rain hit so hard. Don’t Worry be Happy came on the cab’s radio and we all (cabby included) started to sing along. It was really rather fitting with the weather being as it was.

Our hotel front was down a short path with no access from the road, and so we had to unload and carry our cases down the slope to the hotel lobby. Wading through 5 inch water in flip flops isn’t the one when your case weighs 21kg. The receptionist was wonderful and brought us dry towels before doing anything. We were delighted to find out our rooms were ready already, and so we wouldn’t have to hang about before checking in.

Our original plan had been to head to Nassau Beach where we had reserved beach loungers for the afternoon, but with the rain we knew this wasn’t possible. So we headed to our rooms, opened the complimentary wine and enjoyed our rooms until the sun cleared.

imageThe view from our balcony.

We headed to Nassau Beach club once the rain had cleared, and straight for the restaurant for lunch. I had the most amazing cocktail called a Hendrick’s Cucumber Sorbet, and Yakisoba for lunch.

imageimageThen we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our evening out!


Pacha is world famous and we’d gotten tickets for their Flower Power night. Dressed in our hippy best we headed to Ibiza town to watch the sunset from the top of old town and then walked the cobbled streets for a shop and a look around until our table was ready for dinner.

La Oliva was a beautiful little restaurant in the bustle of old town Ibiza. I would have loved to visit old town in the day and had a proper good look around as the rising cobbled streets looked beautiful and something out of a painting. I’ll just have to go back!

It was at our restaurant on this evening I tried steak tartare for the first time, and really rather enjoyed it!

imageJust tilt your head for a good look…..

We then headed off to Pacha!


The tiredness of the week catching up with me, I only stayed a few hours, but Caz and Sarah made it until around 4am because they’re hardcore!

The next morning was a fairly early start for the Aqua Boat towards the Punta Arabi Hippy Market. The biggest of its kind, this hippy market has been going for 35 years. A maze of crafts, jewellery and clothes, we spent a long time mooching and shopping the stalls.

imageI found this gorgeous rose gold tree of life bracelet to match my tan :)

The weather hotted up and soon we needed lunch. We had some yummy pizzas, picked up the last of our purchases and headed back to Playa Den Bossa, as we had a date back at San Antonio.

Having postponed our speedboat trip earlier in the holiday we had to return, and it was strange going back to San Antonio after moving away from it. It was kind of like visiting an old friend and I enjoyed going back to the familiar hustle and bustle.

Speed boats are very different from catamarans and we were soon wide awake from our sleepy stupour from the heat and slow pace of the day.

imageimageThere was opportunity to swim, but I decided to sit that one out, since my jelly fish sting was still fresh and itchy. We did, however get our perfect sunset.

imageIt was amazing and beautiful. The water was so calm and looked like undulating foil below our boat. We stopped just off Cafe Mambo to see the end of the sun and then danced until it was time to go back to the marina.

Paula, our skipper, allowed us into the private bathrooms at the marina to get changed and freshen up, and then we headed off to Bambudda our final meal out.

Bambudda is a fusion restaurant designed to tantilise the senses. Caz and Sarah had and shoulder massages whilst Tash and I people-watched. The food was lovely. I think if I hadn’t been delriously tired I might have enjoyed it more, but still it was a wonderful experience.

imageMe sipping on some kind of cocktail!

The next day was our last full day, and a relaxing one, which boy did we need! We caught the ferry to Formentara, a small island off the Ibiza mainland. I was promised beaches the closest I would get to going to the Maldives without actually going to the Maldives, and it didn’t disappoint.

imageimageI actually managed to catch some sleep on the beach before Sarah bought us all an ice cream (thanks Sarah!) and we headed back. Relaxed and tanned (yay!) we changed for our last activity.

Ushuaia was a club not far from our hotel, which hosts different DJ nights. I’m in a State of Trance was our night, with Armin Van Buuren headlining. It’s an amazing venue, with a pool in the centre, and it’s right under the flight path of Ibiza airport so low flying airplanes often cross your sightline over the stage, like some kind of over the top special effect.

imageimageI had a brilliant time at Ushuaia and would love to go back.

Then we headed back to pack. Our last morning was an early one, by choice. We woke, dressed and headed straight out to the beach. We wanted to catch the sunrise and give Ibiza the proper goodbye it deserved.

imageimageimageWe weren’t let down. The sunrise was as stunning as the sunset and it was a fitting end to the holiday. We got back to the hotel just in time for breakfast to begin, ate and grabbed our bags to meet our driver back to the airport.

We did a little shopping at the airport and boarded the plane for a quiet and solomn flight home.

It was amazing to see Gary at the airport when we arrived back, especially as I’d been away from him for our 9th wedding anniversary. But I really missed the girls very quickly, and I’m still missing Ibiza. I’ll definitely go back…. Girls, just pick a date and I’m there!


A Magical Baby Shower

Last year Caz was expecting her baby, Leo and this year it was Hayley’s turn. We know she’s expecting a boy and wanted to throw her a themed shower to celebrate her geekdom and her pregnancy…. so we threw her a Harry Potter baby shower!

We all jumped into the planning, with decorations, food, games and gifts.

imageimageimageBanners, owls and house crests

imageimageimageimageFood, drinks, sweets and even a tiny baby Harry cake. We even created butterbeer and love potion to drink.

When Hayley arrived she knew nothing of what was planned. I greeted her at the door, which we had covered with brick wall paper. I tapped a few bricks and the door opened to Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter movies. The girls yelled out ‘It’s a Wizard’! and then we tucked into the food.

We gave Hayley presents, including a tiny baby grow from me which said ‘I’m a Keeper’ and had the Quidditch rings on it. And then we played guess the baby food and a game where we tried to guess how big Hayley was round her bump with string. I was a bit rubbish at it!

It was a lovely evening and Hayley seemed to enjoy it! It was great to have everyone together, as it was the last time we would all be together until Sarah’s wedding next June. Tash has now left for Vietnam and won’t be back until then, so it was a tad bittersweet.

Hayley’s not due for another couple of months, but soon we’ll have our second Book Club baby. Exciting!

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 2

This is a follow on from part 1. If you haven’t read that yet, you might want to head on over!

So, I left you at Zoo Project. How was it? It’s all kinds of fun, right?

So the next day was Sunday, and as a lovely follow on from the days before the weather still wasn’t the greatest. Our next surprise for Sarah was postponed for the following day meaning a second 5am start, but it would be worth it. Just keep reading.

So instead of getting up super early we went back to bed for a few hours, got up and ready and not knowing what the next activity was (only Caz knew) we packed our beach bags, donned our bikinis and headed off for breakfast at Skinny Kitchen in the rain.

Gary found Skinny Kitchen one day through Facebook and mentioned it to me, knowing I was interested in eating clean. It’s a little cafe in San Antonio which provides good clean eating food on a San Antonio budget.

imageWe weren’t disappointed as we drank our yummy juices, sipped on protein shakes and nommed on pancakes, waffles and eggs on toast.

imageWe had to move inside when the drizzle started and were a little crestfallen walking to the shops and towards the marina in the rain. But by the time we’d arrived at our next destination the rain had stopped and the forecast was good.

Caz had arranged for us to go on a catamaran! Our own private boat, with a chance to swim in the sea and lunch at an exclusive beach club. Of course we didn’t know any of that at this point.

imageWe popped open the bubbly and headed out to sea. It wasn’t long before we were posing on the nets at the back of the boat… and then we anchored and headed out for a swim. Our skipper provided a paddle board and inflatable for two. As Caz isn’t a confident swimmer I offered to lounge on the inflatable with her, and then after a while jumped into the water. Only to be stung by a jelly fish…..

imageThe picture above was from the next day, but you can see it’s pretty big and it hurt somewhat. Jelly fish aren’t normally in the water this time of year, but the stormy weather had brought them closer to shore and later on we saw them in their thousands.

imageThat’s two of the little buggers but they littered the water the later we drew into the evening. Still in a little shock we were driven off to shore and to Cala Bassa beach club where I was able to collect myself and relax a little.

imageThis shot was taken for my photo bingo. As you can see I decided water was a better idea after the jelly fish incident, but you can kind of sea the shoreline beyond the bottle. It was a beautiful location, to sit and eat a yummy lunch.

imageBack on the boat we knew we wouldn’t be able to swim any more due to the jelly fish and the clouds promised a disappointing sunset, so our Skipper drove us out on a little dingy and showed us some private beaches and also Beyoncé’s Ibiza home.

We listened to music, drunk wine and watched what there was of the sunset.

imageimageimageAnd then, off in the distance I saw what I thought was either a shark or dolphin… Thankfully it was not 1 but 5 dolphins, swimming together all around the boat. Our driver was wonderful enough to keep moving the boat around so we could see them. We watched them for what was probably the best part of an hour before we lost the light.

It was an amazing experience and we were so thankful to Jose our skipper, who gave us a really unique day. From the boat we changed our clothes and headed off to Sa Capella, an authentic Spanish restaurant.

imageBuilt inside an old church, the waiters were middle-aged men with little aprons on. It was the kind of restaurant where people would be, and were, proposed to.


Our table was up in a little alcove so set away from the rest of the tables, which was lovely and in our relaxed and happily tired states we were able to have a really good chat.

And then, in a little miss communication, they played the birthday music and brought Sarah a birthday surprise. I’m guessing they don’t understand ‘bride to be’ in Spain…

imageWe had a good giggle about that!

And then it was back home and to bed, as we had to be up in a few hours for the next surprise!

Up at the crack of dawn and very sleepy, we were picked up from the hotel by Jose (a different Jose) who drove us far and far and far into the heart of Ibiza. At which point we parked up in a field and this happened:

imageI am rather frightened of heights, but it was a good experience that I’m glad I’ve had. Though I did hold onto the side for a long time…

imageVery sleepy Erin…. Back on the ground we helped put the balloon away, and then ‘blessed the earth’….


This was having cava with soil poured onto our heads…. as you can see from the photo, it was a little chilly…

imageAnd we couldn’t resist a selfie!

We were then taken into the very centre of Ibiza for a wonderful breakfast of tomatoes and oil on bread (for the lactose intolerant) and ham and cheese on bread for the rest. We also had coffee and fresh spanish orange juice (the best I’ve ever tasted).

And then we were back at the hotel, because we had tickets for a club to attend! Ocean Beach is a day club not far from where we were staying, with DJs, loungers, cocktails and live entertainment. We’d booked loungers on the mezzanine which overlooked the club and the pool area.

With threatening clouds, we ordered lunch pretty quickly and enjoyed some amazing hot sunshine. But then the rain came….. and it was a storm. It went for about an hour and a half constantly. Since we were dressed for pool weather we embraced it and continued to dance whilst the rest of the floor hid under a cover by the bar. We just carried on! People downstairs jumped into the pool, the music kept playing and even though we got a little chilly I’m so glad we stayed. We now have an amazing memory of dancing in the Ibiza rain!

imageHiding under sopping wet towels! When the rain stopped and the sun began to shine again we got dry towels and listened to Lovely Laura Sax playing her tunes, live, below us.


I was rather soggy….


We survived the rain! (Look at those clouds!)

We decided to head off earlier than originally planned, because we were chilly and soggy and headed back to the hotel. We briskly changed and then headed back out to the sunset strip for dinner and chats, before heading back to pack….. We were crossing the island the next morning!

Stay tuned for part 3, the final part of my holiday rundown……


Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 1

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a few weeks, and that’s mainly because I’ve been preparing for being away, being away and then recovering from being away!

I’ve recently returned from Ibiza, where me and 3 of my best friends went to celebrate the engagement and impending wedding of Sarah. It was my first girly holiday and first time to Ibiza. The whole break had been planned out meticulously by Caz, who had been 7 times before and knows how to plan a holiday.

And now a warning: this post, and the ones to follow are going to have a lot of pictures in them, so if your browser can’t hack it maybe you should upgrade your browser…. it’s 2015!

So we arrived at Caz’s house after an evening of panic that my case was going to go over the weight limit which included me driving to Tash’s to pick up her suitcase scales and discovering I was, indeed, taking too many dresses, belts and shoes…..

It was about 5 minutes before the first bottle of cava was opened. Who doesn’t want to toast a holiday at 6am? We were surprised with a beautiful stretch limo, organised by fiance, Nick, complete with more wine….. Start as you mean to go on!

imageChecked in at the airport and luggage successfully weighed and allowed on the plane (phew!) we headed off for a breakfast and relax until our gate was called.

The flight was quick and uneventful, since I’m used to long haul flights it felt like we were barely flying an hour!

imageOnce off the plane, we were greeted by our driver from the airport to our first hotel, which was situated in San Antonio. Overlooking the beach front, the Marina Playa Apartment Hotel was perfect. Each room slept two (or three on a pull out sofa-bed), had kitchenette and bathroom and a beautiful view of the beach. Each balcony looked out over the pool area.

imageAfter a quick unpack and mini sunbathe by the pool, we put on our glad rags and took a walk to what would be our first meal of many in a beautiful location.

Kumharas, situated on a tiny beach, was a perfect location for us to watch our first sunset, have a drink and toast the holiday. The sangria here was beautiful and it was so relaxing to sit and watch the sun go down.

imageimageOnce the sun had gone down, we moved to the restaurant area for our dinner reservation, and true to form Caz had arranged for us to eat in their chill out area. This was a low table on a platform with cushions to sit on and draped fabric over head.

imageWhilst we ate, people shopped at the mini hippy market behind us, and danced to the music played by the DJ well into the evening. It was great for people watching and the food was lovely.

imageFairly sleepy from the early start, and the sea air, we walked back to the hotel just as flashes of lightning threatened the skies.

dDspite this we slept well. It was a big day on Day 2 – the Hen day! We dedicated a whole day to Sarah’s Hen, with secret activities and theme. Sarah came to Tash and my room, that morning, where we had decorated in a nautical theme, prepared a breakfast and dressed up complete with captain’s hats!

imageWe played music, ate and Caz provided us with a photo treasure hunt, for photos we needed to take throughout the trip. The person who completed their list would win a prize!


This was followed by pass the parcel, with forfeits and prizes!


We then dressed up for our first activity – lunch at Es Nautic. This was a lovely restaurant on the marina serving amazing seafood and fish.

imageimageFrom here we headed to the sunset strip and to Savanna for cocktail making. There was more drinking than making to be honest. After two glasses of cava, two strawberry daiquiris, one porn star martini and a mojito we were feeling rather merry….


Though we did manage to get some cocktail making done, behind the bar too!

imageAfter this we headed to the marina and to a beautiful speedboat. But the skies were threatening another storm, and on the advice of our skipper we rescheduled our speed boat trip for later in the week. Having pre booked sushi on the boat for the evening we ate this on the balcony whilst the clouds rolled in. Then we got ready for the final activity of the day.

Caz wanted us to have a classy holiday but she also wanted us to visit one of the more ‘chavvy’ clubs so off to Es Paradis we went. Es Paradis was having its water party, so it went with our nautical theme.

imageimageDespite waiting until the early hours (and Caz and Sarah waited until the even earlier hours) we didn’t see the pool (pictured behind us, above) fill up.

Day 3 began with a leisurely walk to a nearby cafe and a lovely breakfast. Just what I needed.

imageWe met a lovely Spanish waiter there who looked like Drake, had never left Spain but whose accent flipped between Scottish and Liverpudlian…. it was bizarre!

From here we got ready for our next activity, which was Zoo Project. Situated in an old abandoned Zoo, people visit dressed up in feathers and snake skins, with body paint, ready to dance. With clubbing and chill out areas it promised to be exciting. The girls had all opted for body paint, whereas I’m not really a body paint kinda gal, so I made use of my Urban Decay Electric palette and painted on rainbow eyes.

imageimageLunch was at Ibiza Rocks bar. Yummy strawberry sangria and burgers. And then we headed to Zoo.

We spent most of our evening dancing, watching DJs and dancers at the seal pit, then headed to the chill out area to listen to musicians and watch more dancers and acrobats. We also got rather hungry so grabbed some outdoor BBQ which was delicious. I enjoyed it all, but I could have stayed in the chill out area for hours.

And so ended day 3! We had barely started…. stay tuned for the next part!