Category: lifestyle

How to be a plus sized over 50 Fashionista!

This post has been sponsored by Hotter Shoes who have also kindly gifted me my boots and handbag.

I love fashion – and I like to think of myself as a plus sized over 50 fashionista.  Why not?  We are all entitled to celebrate our bodies and the beautiful clothes we wear.  I know that I always feel better when I am wearing something I love.

The seasonal wardrobe change over

I grew up in South Africa, where we had cold dry but short winters and long hot summers.  The big wardrobe change over is a ritual that I have continued even though the seasons are quite different in Ireland.

The steps!

  1. The first step is to haul the suitcases from under the bed. As I unpack last seasons clothes, I really try to do my first cull.  Is there anything that is really tatty or something that I will probably never wear again?  These go straight into a bag for recycling.
  2. The next step is to check if anything needs mending – realistically if I don’t mend it now, it will languish in the back of the wardrobe for another season.
  3. The next step is to empty my current wardrobe. There are some basics that are part of my wardrobe all year round so these don’t go into storage.  I also keep a few summery thing out in a special section for winter sun holidays!
  4. As I pack my new season wardrobe into the wardrobe I take note of what I have, and consequently what I need. As you can imagine at 54 I have amassed lots of clothes and even after recycling, there isn’t a lot that I need.
  5. I then make a list of what I need, this season it is jeans and boots. My current boots are two years old and have been worn so often that they burn the soles of my feet on a good day in town.  My body seems to have changed shape and I really need to treat my bum to a new pair.
  6. Finally there is also what I want!  Money is tight but it is always good to add something that you might fall in love with.
I love this outfit – perfect for travelling. Super comfortable and trendy Pixie boots from Hotter Shoes in Wine. The matching handbag is also from Hotter and is perfect for taking on the plane. My lovely book patterned skirt is from Bo-Peep.ie.

What to buy?

Over the past few years my life has changed and I no longer need corporate wear, and have found that my casual wardrobe is growing.  I still love dressing up for any occasion.  I also like feeling a bit trendy and have found that the careful purchase of fashionable accessories is a great way of updating my wardrobe with minimum expense.

Once I had my wardrobe all packed away in sections – tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets and cardigans.  The accessories were sorted with special attention to hats, scarves and gloves I was ready to make my wish list.

  1. Black boots and a fun pair if possible.
  2. A winter dress – not the easiest thing to find, but I do love my vintage so I knew where to look. Lindy Bop in the UK has the cutest vintage style, and I fell in love with a black swing style dress that was conveniently on sale.  – pics of this soon – I promise.
  3. Jeans – well this is still on my list. I need to find the pair that makes me feel good.  For now it is my old ones with a belt.
  4. I am still on the look out for all the perfect accessories, but then it is good to have something to shop for when I am away or out shopping.

Falling in love with online shopping

Traditional shopping is something I only do on occasion.  My health has made me really sensitive to sounds and lights and I find it really tiring.  I also get claustrophobic in the changing rooms.

Online shopping is my saviour.  I never thought it would be possible to buy a pair of boots that fit so perfectly online.  My first interaction with Hotter Shoes included a chat with their fitting expert.  When my fabulous new boots arrived, I was only a little apprehensive. The first time I wore my boots I walked and walked and walked – no better recommendation.

I also bought my Lindy Bop dress online and based on previous purchases, I knew what size to buy, and it slipped on like it was made for me.

Feet up after a long day. These are my fabulous Hotter Whisper boots – that go with almost everything.

Footwear is probably the most important fashion item in my wardrobe

If my feet are not happy I am not happy.  Comfort comes first even before fashion, although it is a close second.  Because of this I always plan my outfits from the feet up.  There is no point in putting a fabulous outfit together and then realising that you don’t have the shoes to finish it off.

My first choice from Hotter Shoes was these black Whisper boots – these are simply the most versatile ankle boots ever.  They are smart enough to wear with tailored clothes and with dresses, but are equally suited to jeans.  An extra selling point is that they have two zips rather than one.  When you have awkward arthritic feet this is a fantastic feature.

As an extra treat I chose trendy Pixie boots with their suede print and tassels.  These are simply boots that speak to my heart.  I love the boho chic look right now, and these boots make me feel fabulous whenever I wear them.  My feet also love them for their slipper like comfort.

Every good pair of shoes deserves a great handbag.  Hotter also kindly gifted me the Laura handbag.  This bag complements my pixie boots as it is wine with a black floral print.  I took the bag with me on a recent trip to the UK.  Such a brilliant bag, and ideal for fitting in everything you need for a flight.

All set for the season

After all that wardrobe sorting, here I am snuggled up on the Chesterfield in the kitchen reading. I still have my boots on as I am comfy and warm.

I think I am almost set for this season!  My wardrobe is tidy and getting ready every morning is a pleasure!

Thanks for reading and sharing my fashion journey.

Kerry xx

Marmaris, Turkey – the Friendliest Place!


Our recent trip to Marmaris in Turkey was literally a tale of two parts.  The good however significantly outweighed the bad.

Although I love the idea of travelling the actual travel day is incredibly hard, especially if you are struggling with mobility.  As mentioned in a previous post, this trip started on the right note with a wonderful night at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.  At 4 am all excited we set off on our new adventure to a place that we had never visited before. (read about our wonderful night here)

Arriving in the friendliest place

Almost 5 hours on a budget airline is tiring.  It was wonderful to land at the brand-new airport at Dalaman and to feel the sun on our shoulders.  The transfer system here is very slick, and we were soon installed into a smart little mini bus, complete with a cooler of drinks.  All the transfer buses stop off half way, and I was delighted to stretch my legs and treat myself to my first Turkish ice cream – it was called blue sky – and looked exactly like the sky above us.  I was curious to try it and wondered what it would taste like – hard to describe but the closest I could get was caramel delicious.

A word of warning

Before we arrived at our hotel we knew it wouldn’t be great.  We had been doing some research on Trip Advisor and were a little worried to be honest.  The reviews were shocking.  We already knew that it was a five-story hotel that had no lift.  When I found this out I called ahead and explained my mobility issues and thankfully we were in a room on the first floor.  The hotel was very run down, but thankfully clean (this is important to me).  We had also booked full board – and one look at the dining room, the food that looked like it was recycled for each meal, and the kitchen led us to a quick decision that we wouldn’t be eating in.

On the plus side the location of the hotel was perfect, only 5 minutes from the beach, with easy access to the town and lovely eateries.  It also had a great rooftop pool, that had me taking a daily dip!

It is important to check things out.  We do travel on a budget, so were not expecting 5 stars.

The most delicious food always served with a smile

The food in Marmaris is amazing.  Let me just say that.  From a gorgeous Cappuccino to a full mixed grill, everything was fresh and delicious.  It was also extremely affordable, and served with a smile.

The first morning we went for a walk along the seafront.  After a while I was hot and tired, so we chose a restaurant for a refreshing drink.  Vamos appealed to me from the sidewalk, and it was a good choice.  Although we were only having a drink, I read the menu (I always do this – its ok to dream).  I noticed a starter of watermelon and feta and never mind that it was 11am I ordered it.  The portion that arrived was enough for three!  They quickly brought extra utensils and told me that this was not the normal portion size but that they decided to treat me.  It was fresh, juicy and so delicious.  And, it set the tone for a foodie holiday.

A firm favourite on the Turkish menu was lava bread.  This is literally a balloon of bread – crispy and light served with salsa, garlic yogurt and garlic butter.  I think we shared one every day, and I am missing them already.

Food was so affordable and the quality was outstanding.  We indulged in gorgeous kebab skewers, the most delicious pizza, and tasty gorgeous Turkish breakfasts.  If you fancy, there is always a great English breakfast – available in most restaurants.

Great value for money

I had underestimated how much spending money we needed – primarily because we ate out all the time.  After one attempt at drawing cash from a Turkish language ATM which was stressful, we realised that it was easy enough to choose a multiple language version.  By this stage I thought I was accustomed to the Turkish Lire.  I had bought three pairs of Birkenstocks, and we had tried out all sorts of treats from the supermarket.  I drew a couple of hundred lire, and then realised that it was barely 30 Euro.  Your money goes a long way in Turkey.

We booked our budget trip with Love Holidays.

A long walk to Icmeler

We love to walk.  Even though I walk slowly and with my trusty stick Stan, I am game to see how far I can go before I need a rest.  One day we decided to visit the next village – Icmeler.  I am not sure why we thought we could walk there, but we did.  We walked and walked.  I got hotter and more tired, and started complaining.  Himself kept on saying, it’ll be around the next corner.  After about six or seven corners I called time and we popped into a café with a Wi-Fi sign for a cold drink.  I checked google maps – it was 8km further!!!  Suffice to say we went back to the hotel for a swim and took a taxi the next day. I fell in love with Icmeler, bought the most delicious Turkish delight and indulged in yet another Lava bread.

Be prepared to lose your inhibitions

I had heard about a Hamman – a Turkish bath.  Feeling brave I booked in and descended the stairs to the Hamman spa.  Now, please remember that I am fabulous plus sized lady.  I was shown the changing room and offered a Turkish towel which is probably slightly bigger than a large dish towel.  I blanched!  A young lady came to assist and managed to truss me up in two towels – I had elected to keep my underwear on (for now).  After a sauna, I was shown into the Hamman room and invited to lay down on this large marble slab.  There was then a confusion of communication and eventually and English speaker came to clarify – did I want a man or woman to wash me.  A woman please!

This was a great choice as from this point on I realised that I had to simply give up on inhibitions and enjoy the experience.  I was given an invigorating aloe vera scrub, followed by a massage with what can only be described as pillow cases full of foam.  It was sublime.  The experience concluded with a full body (and I mean full body) oil massage.

I have shared my turkish bath story with a few people.  I have told that I didn’t sell it well.  Yes, it is an extremely intimate experience – but I would do it again.  Just remember to leave your inhibitions at the door.

Sailing away with pirate ships

The bay of Marmaris is extremely picturesque. From the first moment, we glimpsed it on arrival, I wanted to paint the misty hills that enclosed it.  The first morning we noticed Pirate ships on the bay, and I was intrigued.  There are several ships all offering day trips around the bay.  In the end, we chose the Black Pearl, primarily because of the friendly man who engaged with us.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a pirate ship, but then again we got to watch the Pirate ships instead.

This day out was brilliant value and included all drinks on board as well as a delicious lunch.  The views were stunning and so inspiring.  We dropped anchor at various spots for swimming, sightseeing and to view truly magical caves.

My lasting memories of Turkey

When I think back on my trip, the overriding memories are of the friendly people, and the kindness of strangers.  For the most part, people are honest and kind.  We had great chats with locals and other tourists, and felt truly welcomed.

We will be back – and next time we will stay in the lovely Icmeler but of course we will visit the beautiful bay of Marmaris.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

 

I went back to work in the corporate world at almost 50!

At 48 I went back to work in the corporate world.  It was scary.

I truly began to understand the meaning of fake it until you make it when I found myself in hot water for not replying to a meeting request in Outlook.  Outlook hadn’t been invented the last time I played corporate games.

The reason I was dressed in black and wearing heels for the first time in 10 years, and literally shaking in said heels was an interview.  This was something that hadn’t happened in more than 20 years.

My back to work story

My marriage broke down, and at 48 I realised that the only way forward was for me to get a job that paid well.  I had my qualifications and lots of life experience, but nothing currently corporate.

There are a few things I did that really paid dividends:

  • I paid someone to write-up my CV – CV styles change, and it is honestly the best investment.
  • I bought some corporate clothes – it really is true that you must dress for the job (and salary) that you want.
  • Brush up on your IT skills. Absolutely everything had changed in the time I was out of the loop.  Although I used a computer at home I needed some up-skilling.
  • Learn a bit of jargon – it seems trite, but it really helps to fit in.
  • Study – read blogs, articles and anything you can get your hands on – especially if you are aiming at a particular industry.
  • Set up a twitter account and start following industry leaders
  • Set up and work on your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is basically your online CV and really important.  Use the CV created (see above) as a guide.  These two should really match..
  • Google yourself – your prospective employers will do this, so be aware of might come up.
  • Check your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – and delete anything you don’t want to be found.

Subsequent to going back to work I trained in Personal Branding Coaching – you can find out more about this here.  We all have a brand and going back to work – you need to be aware of this and craft a brand that works for you.

Back to work Tips from Teenagers

My son, at 16 was my back to work coach.  ‘Stop worrying about what you are going to wear Mom, you need to study for your interview’.  Really?  I had never studied for an interview before, so I took to Google and researched common interview questions.  I found out that you also need to research the company, and have your own set of questions prepared.

Once I had the study part done, he did advise me on what to wear, and it meant leaving my hippy arty clothes in the cupboard.

Armed with my homework and wearing my new outfit I set off for my interview.  Literally shaking inside, I kept reminding myself that I had run my own business, and I had started a business in Ireland and marketed it with absolutely no budget.  I might be older than all the other candidates, but that could be turned into a positive too.

I surprised myself (and a few others) by nabbing myself a job in corporate financial research as a marketing manager – after a very long spell out of the corporate world.  This was only just the beginning.

A sandwich, and a briefcase doesn’t necessarily crack it.

The first day of work I was literally shaking.  I got dressed twice despite having chosen my clothes the night before.  My confidence wasn’t great, my marriage was in tatters and I was taking a huge step into the unknown.

It was horrible.  I am not going to pretend otherwise.  I arrived at work, was shown my desk and that was it.  Almost everyone in the office was more than 20 years younger than me, and they didn’t speak to me.  (There was a reason for this but I didn’t find out for months).

My new boss who was based in London flew over to meet me, which helped somewhat but the truth was I was very out of my depth.  I was receiving emails and meeting notifications and having to figure out the internal communication system, while smiling and acting like I had everything under control.

It does get better

The following day my marketing colleague and boss headed back to London and I was on my own.  On my own with my good friend Google.  I googled everything and learnt fast.

The easiest part of the learning curve was applying everything I knew about marketing to financial research which was a new industry for me.  The hardest part was learning how to deal with difficult people and office politics.  I also learnt to trust myself and to follow my own instincts.

My back to work story got better and better.  Like a baby bird (of 48) I learnt to fly, and to proudly put forward my opinions and follow those instincts.

During lunchtime I had a sandwich at my computer and taught myself everything about modern marketing.  I learnt how to harness social media and how to convert the basics of research into an online accessible web portal.

Looking back I am really proud of what I achieved.  I am now retired for medical reasons but I can look back and know that I did it!  Yes, I went back to the work in the corporate world and succeeded.

Thank you for reading my story.

Kerry xx

Imagine if you were battery powered

You know what it’s like when the batteries are running low on the TV remote?  It is awkward – pointing at the TV and pressing buttons in the hope that the channel will change or the volume will increase.

We all charge our phones.  We have chargers in the car, next to the bed, in the kitchen and even if you are like me a power bank in my handbag for emergencies.

There are great lessons to be learnt from the digital world.  My son is a gamer and game developer.  I have often watched him play and noticed that players get ‘health’ which slowly ebbs away especially if you get injured.  You have to complete a task or buy new health.  Thank goodness we have the option of ‘plugging ourselves in’.

What about our own batteries?

I think we are battery powered.  Perhaps not in the same way as a phone or TV remote, but more like the quintessential Duracell bunny who can go and go and go, but will eventually run out of power and stagger to a halt.

My own personal situation and the health issues I deal with on a daily basis often make me feel like the bunny that got the dud batteries.  I find myself flat.  Not only down but flat like a battery operated toy that is mumbling and muttering, staggering around.  I am no longer the singing dancing bear (or bunny).

Every one of us is unique and our situations are too.  Some people struggle with mental health, and others with physical health.  Even the seemingly healthy people, are using their batteries every day – running around doing lifts for kids, working in a high stress environment, studying for exams.

Every little thing we do in life is sucking our battery power.

If we don’t plug in and recharge we will come to a grinding halt.

We all have different battery lives

Because we are all unique, we have different battery lives too.  Mine doesn’t seem to have a very long life, and sometimes I need to be plugged in and recharging 3 or 4 times a day.  Other people might be ok with an overnight charge.

The truth is that we all need to charge.  And we need to be cognizant of the fact that if we don’t plug in and recharge we could be in from some serious health challenges.

It was only when things were really bad that I became consciously aware of the need to recharge.  I think this conscious awareness is what has really made a difference, and I would urge everyone reading this to stop, and if it doesn’t seem too silly think about when you need to be plugged in and juicing up your battery.

Recharging is actually quite easy.  There are a number of activities which will make a difference, but to varying degrees, and of course unique to each person.

  • Rest
  • Sleep
  • Eating healthy
  • Drinking enough fluid
  • Meditating
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Creativity and flow
  • Setting boundaries

It is all very well to simply list these items and promise yourself that you will remember to plug-in.  Life gets in the way, constantly veering us off course and then we look down at our battery life and oops – we are on emergency power.

How I recharge

Recharging needs to become a habit.  Something that you do automatically.  When I go to bed I leave my phone plugged in downstairs.  When I get into the car, I plug it into the car charger.

Similarly I have a routine that after having breakfast, I have my second breakfast (medication and supplements), and then I sit with a cup of tea and write my journal.  This sets me up for the day.  Quite often I get up from my cup of tea with my mind buzzing and a list at my side ready to grab hold of the day fully charged.

It is really about finding what works for you.  I jump on my mini-trampoline for at least 10 minutes a day.  I have made this part of my routine too, and find it is really energizing me – yet another way of charging my battery.

As my own personal battery isn’t all that long-lasting, I have to constantly remind myself to plug-in.  I use the list above to remind myself of different ways I can recharge.  The luxury and necessity of rest is a priority as is setting boundaries.

Just imagine me sitting on my sofa plugged in – just like my phone.

Thank you for reading and please let me know what you do to recharge.

Kerry xx

Is Social Media a Thief of Joy? – or is it Comparison?

When I compare myself to others, I always seem to come up lacking.  I suspect that this is the same for many of us.  Is comparison the thief of joy? And what role does social media play?

Before the advent of social media (and I am old enough to remember it) we went about our world fairly oblivious of what other people were doing.  What they looked like.  What event they had attended.  How cute their kids were.  Somehow or other we managed, and I suspect that we were happier.

I actually love social media

This blog post isn’t all about slagging social media off.  Not at all.  I really value social media and can list numerous ways it has made my life better.

  • I have met such amazing people through social media who have become firm friends. When I was moving town, a wonderful woman I had met on a group promised to bring wine and cake on the day I moved.  And she did.  I really value her friendship (you know who you are – thank you)
  • I have been able to share my blog with people all over the world. I have also used social media to meet so many other bloggers who have inspired me.
  • I have reconnected with so many people from my past. Long lost cousins, school friends and numerous other wonderful people who I might have lost touch with.  Especially as I moved from South Africa to Ireland.
  • I have been gifted this window to the world. There are times when I have been lonely and knowing that I could pop into Facebook and connect with friends has been a true gift.
  • I have gained knowledge. I have joined groups that deal with issues that I face such as arthritis and pernicious anaemia (which I knew nothing about).  In these groups I have met fellow sufferers and we have lifted each other up.  We have answered questions and explained the unexplainable.
  • I have connected with hundreds of people through my own and have had the privilege of taking these online relationships offline through meet-ups and events.
  • I have made a little money. I have sold art, found people to work with and met up with brands who wanted to work with me.

There is a big but though ….

There are two real negatives for me relating to social media.

The first is time.  When I am online – either at my laptop or gazing at my phone scrolling or chatting, I am effectively disengaged from the world around me.

I know I spend too much time online.  I know this because I scroll, and scroll and realise that I am seeing nothing new.  I know this because I have to go back and ask what is happening because I missed a vital part of the conversation.  I have literally been missing in action.

When I do ‘forget’ my phone I am far more productive.  I get things done.  I listen to music, clean the house and find my creative juices flowing.  I love the practice of daily painting and I can’t paint and scroll at the same time.

I am really trying to limit my time online.  Those that know me are chuckling and rolling their eyes and saying ‘yeah’.  I promise though – I am trying.

The main reason why is that I am finding that comparison is indeed a thief of joy for me.

Comparison is my thief of Joy

My situation is unique to me.  And let’s face it each of us has a unique situation.  I am 54 now, and I suffer from severe arthritis which limits my mobility and in fact everything I do.  Most days pain is my companion and I am always tired.

I struggle with my weight as well so I am no svelte size 10.  I have wrinkles, and rolls and that is just the start of it.  Working full-time is no longer an option – as I simply can’t.  I also struggle with overwhelm and anxiety. There are weeks when I don’t post on my blog because I haven’t been able to write, or photograph anything.

On the positive side I have wonderful friends who support me. I have a good life. Fashion and beauty inspire me.  Travel delights me and I am determined to do more (albeit on a strictly limited budget).  There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a friend drinking creamy cappuccino.  I find my true bliss with a paintbrush in my hand.

I am not writing this for sympathy, but merely to give you a true picture of where I am in my life.

Even though I am intelligent I am still drawn in to this dreadful comparison trap.  I watch through the lens of social media as others attend events, go out for gorgeous dinners I cannot afford and seem to have endless cocktails with friends.  I feel real envy when I see people progressing in their careers when mine is in a sort of standstill state.  A cruise – oh I wish I could afford a cruise.  Skinny Jeans and high heels – no chance Kerry!

I know that there are many people who are too sick to go out.  People suffering from depression who cannot comprehend the goings on of others.  Your child might be kicking and screaming and very dirty and you cannot help but compare with the angels you see on Facebook.

Real Lives versus Facebook Lives

A very wise friend and mentor once reminded me.  Beware of the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives.  We all put our best foot (or face) forward on Social Media.  If I take a selfie and I look too tired and sick I don’t post it.  Perhaps I should.

I think that there are a couple of things I need to do for myself to put social media in the right place in my life.

  1. Monitor my time spent online
  2. Remember the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives
  3. Don’t compare. Comparison is the true thief of joy.
  4. Be grateful for what I have!

Truth or Lies?

We don’t know what really lies behind those beautiful images and even if we did, do they really change anything?

If there was no social media, then I wouldn’t know about these things.  I would simply be going about my day living my life.  And perhaps being more joyful.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

Tenerife – it creeps into your heart until you don’t want to leave

Everyone has different expectations of a holiday and of course different budgets too.

We were so excited to be visiting Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.  Endless hours had been spent on YouTube looking at travel videos.  I was very curious to experience ‘black’ sand!

The holiday didn’t get off to the finest start.  Despite being excited, the trip was long.  A four and a half hour flight, plus a couple of hours drive and of course airport waiting time all added up.  It meant that we arrived late in the evening a little tired and grumpy if I am completely honest.

Travelling with a budget airline on a short trip is fine, but absolutely no frills on a longer flight is a little more challenging.   The holiday had started and were eager to get going as we had a 90 minute transfer from the airport to our destination at the north of the island.

Something went wrong and we found ourselves waiting for more than an hour.  Eventually a small group was loaded into a mini bus that was not road worthy and we set off.  This was not the way I was expecting to start my holiday.

We travel budget style

We are on a budget and more than happy to compromise on luxuries for the chance of some sun on our bones.  Resorts wouldn’t necessarily be our choice either as we enjoy walking and soaking up the local culture.

Our hotel, Travador, was in the older part of Puerto de la Cruz, and despite the website reporting a big upgrade it was a little tired.  We eventually realised that it was the public rooms that had been upgraded and that the rooms were in progress.  Never mind, it was clean (a biggy for me) and the location was absolutely perfect.

Walking our way around Puerto de la Cruz

Both my partner and I suffer from arthritis, and one of the reasons we travel is to take advantage of the dry heat which makes such a huge difference on our pain and inflammation.  There are days at home where I struggle to walk.  In Tenerife I was walking 10 0000 steps a day (with my trusty stick Stan), but walking nevertheless.

On our first morning we started exploring the town, which in a weird way reminded me of South Africa.  The beautiful gardens which were part of the city scape incorporated Bougainvillea one of my favourite childhood flowers as well as many other trees and flowers.  I took hundreds of photos that first morning.  The heat on my back and the paw paw (papaya) and guavas outside the shops were enticing.

Location is really key – especially if you want to be able to walk everywhere.  After treating ourselves to coffee in an outdoor café we found our way to the beach only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was at this point that I started to fall in love.

It is odd looking at black sand, because it’s different to what your head says it should be.  The combination from an artist’s eye however is breath-taking.  The sea reflects an exquisite turquoise shade as it brushes across the sand.  I took loads of photos and can’t wait to get into the studio to try to recapture this amazing colour combination.

A beer and a beer shandy were just what we needed after our long walk and we simply sat back and enjoyed the magnificent view.  These positions at the beachside café became a daily indulgence.  Sometimes we indulged further tasting the local cuisine or a naughty ice cream.

There is something about the sea that calms and relaxes me completely.  I can look at it, walk along the shore line dipping my toes into the waves or simply close my eyes and take in the smell of the salty waves and sun on the sand.  I did a fair bit of the above in Puerto de la Cruz.

Musings from my journal

I journal every day.  It is part of my routine and certainly something that helps me in so many ways.  When we are on holiday, journaling time has to be planned for.  Most days this took place in a little café a stone’s throw from our hotel where I could order a pot of tea and a pastry for the princely sum of 2 Euro.

During the holiday I came up with these seven realisations/lessons that I learnt from my week in Puerto de la Cruz.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you look like.  On the beach I saw woman (and men) of every shape, size and age all wearing bikinis and other skimpy swimwear.  They were happy and sunning themselves and not beating themselves up about what they looked like.  I made a pact to give up tangling with my sarong and simply relax and enjoy.
  2. I love the coffee culture. People watching is such fun and there is nothing nicer than whiling away an hour over a delicious café con leche and perhaps a sneaky pastry.  Costing less than 2 euro – including the nibble, I can afford to indulge.
  3. My IBS is better on holiday. I realise this is a bit TMI (too much information) but it is really relevant to me.  IBS is part of my life and a side effect of fibromyalgia and other conditions not to mention the many pills that I have to pop.  I think it could be all the walking (see point 4) or simply being truly relaxed and keeping hydrated.  It could be lack of stress.  I just know that somehow I would like to hang onto this advantage when I get home.
  4. Walking! Instead of dancing all night I could walk all day.  I walk fairly slowly and use my trusty stick much of the time, but I really enjoy it.  We walked on the beach, along the paved walkways which stretch across Puerto de la Cruz and wound our way through quirky back streets.  Yes, my feet got sore, and I got tired, but it felt so good to be moving with the sun on my back and a few breaks along the way to enjoy the atmosphere.
  5. My joints – the bane of my life with arthritis are much, much better in a dry heat. It is amazing to rely less and less on pain relief over the week, and of course to be able to move more.  The sad side of this is that within 48 hours of being back in Ireland, these positive effects are gone.  (Never mind I can book another budget holiday).
  6. You can travel on very little money. Both my partner and I are on a very limited budget.  Holidays are only possible if we budget carefully before hand and afterwards.  We invest a lot of time into digging out the best deals possible.  We are fairly flexible with dates which means that we can avail of the best offers possible.  This holiday was booked through Love Holidays and was paid off on an instalment plan.  We don’t mind the lack of luxuries, but do love the warm air and the sense of excitement that travel brings.
  1. Be adventurous! In everything.  We had a giggle every morning when we came down for breakfast because it wasn’t what we are used to.  Peas, carrots, and one morning pizza.  There were some really yummy cakes and pastries too.  Everyone is different and every culture that you visit has different cuisine.  Try things – you might not like them, but then again you might be back for more.

Highlights and low notes

As with any journey there are particular highlights.  One of mine was the night we treated ourselves to dinner at a little restaurant and were in turn treated to a feast of flamenco dancing.  I am very much an off the beaten track person, and would prefer to try smaller eateries.  One of the best meals of the trip was a shared plate of the local Canarian potatoes (wrinkly potatoes) – basically salted boiled new potatoes with two mojo sauces eaten at the beachside café.

On a low note, it took us 27 hours to get home.  A technical fault on a Ryanair flight had us diverted to a different airport and drinking tea at 4am in an airport hours from our car.  It wasn’t easy and it definitely meant that we arrived home tired, rather than relaxed.

Thank you for reading about my travels.

Kerry xx

The Joy of a Solo Cinema Outing

I love the cinema.  The allure of the darkness, of being totally drawn into a story with no multi-tasking allowed.

I am not sure quite why, but I always believed you needed a companion for the cinema.  Someone to share popcorn with and chat.  That is fun, but I have found it isn’t a necessity.  There is something quite indulgent about taking yourself to the cinema.  Choosing the movie that you want to see, selecting your snack and drink and allowing yourself the luxury of a couple of hours in darkness where you are totally engrossed.

Being Brave

The first time I flew solo to the cinema, I was fresh out of a relationship and feeling a bit lonely.  There was a movie that I really wanted to see.  Maudie is a wonderful movie about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis who suffered debilitating arthritis.  I was intrigued, and I really wanted to experience her story.  I put my feelers out asking friends and relations if they fancied a visit to the cinema.  No takers.  I had a good chat with myself and decided to simply go by myself.  It was liberating!  (On a side note, if you can find this movie on Netflix or another streaming platform watch it!)

This solo movie thing has become a bit of a quiet addiction.  I drive past the Eye Cinema in Galway (my favourite haunt) I am tempted to pull in just to see what is on.  Finding your Feet – a wonderful romantic comedy featuring Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Joanna Lumley gave me so much delight.  It lifted my spirits and when it was over – I took myself off to the 5-star g Hotel for a solo cappuccino.  I was getting the hang of this.

Go solo to the cinema this month

I have lots of friends and a wonderful partner, but I am now a firm believer in flying solo at the cinema.  I like the 3pm time slot which seems to feature my kind of movie.  My latest outing was to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  I had read the book some time ago and was intrigued to see how it translated onto the big screen.  What a delight.  A really beautiful representation of a wonderful story line and truly complex characters.  As a budding writer I was fascinated by the story within a story.  I loved seeing how the story unfolded as each character revealed their part in the establishment of this book club during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey.   I won’t add too many spoilers as this is still showing.

Modern life is all about multi-tasking.  We watch television while checking Facebook.  We are constantly juggling tasks and activities.  How often though, do we simply do one thing – for a couple of hours?

I now consider myself a card-carrying member of the solo cinema club, and a cheerleader too.

I’d love to hear your movie recommendations – I know I am going to be indulging again very soon – there is so much good stuff coming up.

 

Thank you so much for reading about my viewing habits.

 

Kerry xx

The Delights of Manchester and More!

There are two kinds of travel for me.  Travel to visit friends and family and travel to places where you can be anonymous.  I love both.  (They can of course be combined!)

Finding time for family

I was reflecting on my travel schedule and realised that for the first time in 22 years I wasn’t going to be with my son for mother’s day.  This had me immediately reaching for my phone and looking for flights.

My son got his dream job and moved to Cheshire just outside Manchester six months ago.  Coincidently my brother and his family moved to the same area a year before when then made their big move from South Africa.

Booking a flight to Manchester seemed like the perfect solution.  A bit of travel, a bit of mother and son time and of course family time.  There is nothing quite like spending time in conversation with someone you have known your whole life (well almost).

A different departure

Due to my health issues, I need to travel assisted most of the time and get quite unsettled in busy loud situations, so I decided to try Shannon Airport as an option to Dublin.  What an absolute pleasure it was – the airport was quiet, clean and very efficient.  And I must pay tribute to the assistance staff who were helpful and kind on both legs of my journey.

I was collected at the airport by my brother and headed back for the first of many cups of tea and hours of conversation.

The adventures begin

The next day my adventures with my son started.  We started off with Sushi for lunch at Zuma – a fabulous little eatery with bottomless Miso soup.  This has become a bit of a tradition and I would really be bereft without a visit here.  My son went back to work and I had a wander around Wilmslow which is a gorgeous town with quirky shops and high street favourites.  I finished up with a cappuccino and cake and my journal – simply the right formula for a little thinking.

That evening I had a wonderful treat.  David has subscribed to a great foody idea.  Hello Fresh delivers carefully curated recipes and the precise ingredients you need to make a tasty dinner.  He has always been interested in cooking and this seems to be a great way to increase your exposure to different cuisines and learn new skills.  The chicken and courgette curry with delicious coconut milk served with flavoured rice was lip smackingly delicious.  I was savouring the flavours in my mouth and not even thinking of dessert.

It was early to bed for us because we had a great day planned for Friday.

We headed off via train and Uber to the Intu Trafford Centre.  This is really quite a magnificent destination – in fact I would call it an experience rather than a shopping centre.  Quite regal architecture invites you into a world under one roof.  I had my phone out and was snapping photographs straight away.

I have always tried to hold onto the childish delight in new experiences and the self playing piano was just the kind of novelty to put me in the right mood.

We wandered the shops being drawn into various establishments, and then we passed  and the most magical display of confectionary I have seen in a long time.  It was time for coffee and a treat.  Unicorn cake for me and an unctuous Ferraro Rocher cupcake for David.  After a nice sit down and a few plans we returned to the shops.

On my first visit to the UK many years ago I discovered Molton Brown.  This has to be my all time indulgence.  Evocative aromas and silky sensations.  I was invited to sit down and give my hands a mini spa treatment.  A cleansing scrub, a bath oil that was literally so sensuous I was swooning and then some luxurious lotion.  I was literally oohing and aahing.

The visit to this emporium was probably the highlight of my visit to Trafford especially when David told me he was buying the oil for me for Mother’s Day.  It was truly something that I loved (I think he got the idea I loved it from my behaviour in the shop).  This kind of gift is perfect as it keeps on giving.  Everytime I have a bath I will be transported back to my special day.

We finished our visit with a yummy visit to Wagamama – a healthy treat and special mother son time.

Cocktails in a Laundrette

The following day we were on the train again and then caught a cab to a laundrette.  Yes, a low-key, tatty looking laundrette with washing machines and baskets of undies.  Behind the door disguised as another washing machine was the most magical cocktail bar ever!

The Washhouse in Manchester is all about storytelling – in the form of delicious cocktails.  The host welcomed us and even as we walked towards our table my eyes were darting about looking at the amazing creations.  Each cocktail has a story and this is played out in the ingredients, the wonderful and creative presentation and of course the taste.

Three is a magic number so we each had three cocktail experiences.  Everything but a Beach – was a trip to the seaside.  The cocktail was served in red bucket and was a wonderful salty but fruity hit and it was served in a sandpit complete with a fallen ice cream cone.  The sand was delicious!  It was all delicious.

My second choice was the Tea-Total – and no it wasn’t a mocktail.  Everyone who knows me, knows that I love my tea and this drink was perfection.  It was served in a little tea-cup complete with a couple of biscuits and floating pink rose buds and the best part, a photograph of David and I pegged to the cup.  (another gift that will keep on giving as it came home with me!)

I finished up with Hard Breakfast – an orange and bourbon based glass of yum served with a tiny toast and marmalade side.  This was the strongest flavour of all my choices so I am glad I ended with it.  As we made our way to the station in the cold wind, my tummy was warm and my heart was delighted.  What a wonderful Mother’s Day treat.

Home comforts

On Mother’s Day the treats continued as my son and his cousins prepared a wonderful lunch for the moms and my brother.  Crumbed Camembert, Lime and Tarragon Chicken and a home-made Toblerone Cheesecake was a menu that couldn’t be beaten.  Thank you to you all – it was a delicious and comforting way to end off a visit that will be remembered.

I enjoy all sorts of travelling and this trip was a delight at every step.  So many of us have family spread out all over the world.  Creating wonderful memories through travel as like jewels in my mind.

Thank you for reading about this month’s adventure.  I wonder where I will go next ……

Kerry xx

 

How to celebrate a blog birthday

Well the obvious answer is with cake!  I love cake – I would choose it over chocolate, crisps and even wine.  I think a cake is just such a symbol of celebration.  It always makes me feel festive, as well as being delicious and deeply satisfying.

I am lucky enough to be friends with a master baker and decorator and when I asked if Aine from The Cake Emporium would make me a birthday cake for my blog she didn’t even blink an  eye and as a reader of my blog she didn’t need a brief either.

I was truly delighted and jumping up and down like a three-year old myself when the cake arrived complete with crown!

Why did I start my blog three years ago?

Three years ago I was 50 and coming out of quite a dark place.  I still had a lot going on health wise (and still do to tell the truth).  I had learnt that it was important to maintain your dignity and to always wear your invisible crown no matter what.

The blog theme is to be fabulous despite the curveballs that life throws at us. And what better way that to place that crown firmly on your head and know your own value.

The blog posts were I wrote about this concept were some of the first posts that got me noticed and is still some of my favourites.

Telling my stories

I have struggled with my weight my whole life, despite dieting for most of it.  One day I sat down and wrote the story of how I gave up dieting.  It was early on in my blogging journey and I remember being amazed as the views on the blog increased and increased and the reactions came in.  People direct messaged me, they engaged and told me their own stories.

I think that at this point I realised the true joy of blogging.  It is about creating tribe and a community.  Creating a conversation with people all around the world.

Finding balance and more

My long-awaited book (it is coming out soon) is all about how I have changed my life one word at a time.  The first posts I wrote about this related to balance and how by choosing to focus on this word I had started the avalanche of change that would filter through my life.  Again I was truly humbled by the response.

Moving from South Africa to Ireland

A personal blog is all about sharing stories of my life.  Stories and experiences that I hope other people can relate to.  My all time most read blog post is about my move from South Africa to Ireland.  It is read almost every day and I have communicated with so many people who are in the process of making a big move.  By simply writing a story about one woman and her move to Ireland I have been blessed to meet so many people.

Fashion, Beauty and Confidence

I have written many posts.  Perhaps I should count them.  I have touched on many subjects from fashion to beauty, food to travel and of course health.  The common denominator in everything my blog stands for is confidence to be authentic.  I really believe that we all come across so many curveballs in life, it is our choice though to choose to be fabulous despite whatever tries to knock us down.

So I wear my crown and try to be fabulous.

As I celebrate my third blog birthday I want to thank you so much for reading my posts, for sending me messages and for sharing my journey.

Kerry xx

P.S  A few exciting changes coming very soon.

 

Top 7 Best and Worst Christmas Moments that I can Remember

The more I think about Christmases past and present, I realise that the best ones are those packed with memories of moments that cannot be wrapped.  Here are my top seven Christmas memories, funny, not so funny but all memorable.

Seven memories that will not be forgotten

  1. The Christmas when I was about ten year’s old when  I fell asleep in the sun in my bikini on Christmas eve.  My bum was seriously badly burned and blistered – I couldn’t sit down.  I will never forget it!
  2. Last Christmas – when Christmas and birthday’s came together as we had a family reunion to celebrate my Mum’s 80th It was a typically crazy family celebration with countless memories that can be taken out again and again.
  3. The year I put my back out and Santa chores had to be delegated. I opened my Christmas stocking to find that I had been brought a number of different laxatives and pain pills.  Not that I wasn’t grateful, but really Santa??
  4. When I was growing up we spent our Christmases on the south coast of KwaZulu Natal, at a family hotel. A highlight of Christmas was Santa arriving by helicopter and then walking along the roof of the hotel and then descending in the lift to deliver all the kids presents.  One year when I was about 7 there was a serious glitch and I was gifted with a model aeroplane – just like all the other boys my age.  I was devastated!  I was the girliest girl about.  That Christmas memory lived a long time.
  5. My first Christmas as a mother. I was a new mom as my son was born in November, and still reeling from the changes in my life (including post natal depression).  I was spoilt rotten with lots of gifts to unwrap and the best gift to cuddle.
  6. The year of the big snow! We had no power, I was recovering from a car crash after sliding in black ice and yet we made it happen.  We somehow sneaked a large gaming chair into the car and revealed it as a big surprise on Christmas morning.  This was a year that I learned that shopping was not essential for Christmas – creativity and imagination and a good attitude where.  The pipes were frozen and we were using baby wipes to wash and boiling snow for tea, but we were warm in family festivities.
  7. In my twenties I spent Christmas with my childhood friend and her family. I will always remember the joy and laughter of those special days.  We laughed until we cried.  We over-ate, and we behaved like children getting into the spirit of the day.  One year I tried to do a dye job on my own hair. My blond hair turned purple and there was not much I could do about it except pretend I was a lavender haired fairy from the Christmas tree come to life!

There have been many more Christmases and so many more memories.  As I sit writing this listening to Christmas music, thoughts are flooding though my brain.  This year Christmas is again a bit odd as I have been without my car for a month.  What I am realising is that it is the gifts that don’t come wrapped that create the best memories.  The love and laughter, great food and even better company.  It is the time of year, when we connect with friends and family by sending a card, carefully choosing a gift, and taking time to visit and catch up.

My wish for us all this Christmas is that we create new and wonderful memories that we can unpack year after year.  Remember to take photos and most importantly to give hugs.

 

Happy Christmas 2017

 

Kerry xx

 

 

 

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