I don’t think I need to explain how hard it was to tear myself away from Palm Island (you’ve seen the post, you get it right?) It came as no surprise to learn that guests have wept on the Palm Island pier as the boat arrives to take them home. I didn’t go that far but I probably would have if I weren’t on my way to another Elite Island Resort.
There are no TVs or Wi-Fi in the rooms at Palm Island Resort; instead I listen to the rush and swirl of the waves and the breeze rustling the trees. In the downtime between swimming and smoothies I am not fiddling around online. For the first time, in a very long time, I read, reply and file my thoughts.
When I launched #TravelBookChat on twitter last January it was because I couldn’t think of 2 greater things in life than travel and books and wanted to start a regular event that celebrated them. Several #TravelBookChats and a year later, it has been a pleasure to discover that many of you share these passions and have such good recommendations on how to ignite them.
For the first #TravelBookChat of 2014 we’re going to throw another of life’s great passions into the mix – this month’s theme is food!
I immediately recognised the white wedding gazebo on a wooden jetty extending over aqua waters. A few months prior I had watched X Factor UK with even more anticipation than usual because I knew this time I would be going to the Judge’s Houses too, albeit a little while after the X Factor crew.
For those of us who like to plan ahead you may already be thinking about where to see in the New Year at the end of 2014. Maybe some of the coverage from Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has made you consider Edinburgh for the next New Year celebrations – I certainly had the time of my life and am sure you will too. Below are a few of the insider tips I picked up whilst celebrating my first Hogmanay that you may like to bear in mind if/when you make it there.
January makes me rather glum. But last year I discovered there was a cure – it’s called the Caribbean.
Some of you may remember that this time last year I took part in an envy-inducing project in Barbados. It was a unique blogging project involving a 4-part blogger team who travelled to The Club Barbados Resort and Spa in succession, a project that gained itself the name Barbados Blogathon.
I’m delighted that the organizers of that project, Elite Island Resorts, have invited me to take part in a sequel. This year’s relay will involve the same blogger teams taking turns to fly out to the Elite Island Resorts in the Caribbean, but this year we won’t just be seeing one island. For this year’s project is an island hop – an #EliteHop.
(Thanks to Travel With A Mate for this nifty image)
New Year’s Eve began in the lazy way it should – with a lie in. Previous years have taught me that rising later increases the chances of being awake for celebrations into the early hours. So I got up around 10am and began writing down my thoughts on the night before – the Torchlight Procession that had opened Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations had been a thrilling teaser for what would come today.
It turns out Edinburgh is my kind of city. Wandering around the multi-tiered, cobbled streets of the Old Town yesterday afternoon I found my idea of heaven – vintage fashion, second hand books and creamy cakes all in a row.
Sometimes I can be a little bit superstitious and I will admit I was worried about what 2013 had in store. By no means an unlucky year it was a bit of a bumpy one; 2013 turned out to be a mix of soaring highs and crushing lows. It was also a year of big personal change – I moved in with a boy, quit my job to go freelance and finally lost some of the excess pounds my travelling lifestyle had led to. (Detox to start again shortly, I swear!)
There was even more travel than I had seen in 2012 (where I racked up 13 countries) and another award thanks to the lovely people at Cosmopolitan Magazine. There were moments of self-doubt and instances of intense clarity, but most of all there was discovery. In 2013 I went to 15 countries, about 25 international cities and to 5 places I had no idea what to expect of.
(Left to right: Melbourne, Barbodos, Hoi An, Havana, Hong Kong, Nam Hai Hoi An, Sydney, NYC, Taiwan)
First things first:
I hope you all had a wonderful festive time enjoying treats with your loved ones. The day passed for me in a whirl of family, food and winning the annual Chrimbo game of Trivial Pursuit (yay!). Then suddenly we find ourselves in this limbo period between Christmas and New Year – trying to eek out the last few hours of Christmas spirit but already thinking ahead to what the new year will bring.
In the past I have had the pleasure of seeing in the new year from Sydney, Melbourne, Thailand and at home in London. If truth be told I am not normally a huge fan of New Year’s Eve (too many reflections and high expectations) but I have found that going away and doing something completely different seems to be the antidote.
(Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2013 – The Loony Dook Tartan Girls by Chris Watt)
This year I am so excited to be celebrating New Year in a new way – a Scottish way – by attending Edinburgh’s Hogmanay!
There was a hushed silence as our car cruised slowly past the house he was said to be recuperating in. There may have been walls, gates and a driveway between us but even being this close to Nelson Mandela initiated reverential silence. From our seats we sent him our well wishes but secretly knew in our hearts that at 95 years old he was not destined for this world much longer.