Category: lifestyle

In Praise of the Afternoon Nap

I love an afternoon nap!  When I wake up, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day and evening.

I am not alone.  Winston Churchill also loved to nap.  He believed you get twice as much done if you nap!  “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces… Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one — well, at least one and a half,” he said.

I have always loved a Sunday afternoon nap.  There is something quite indulgent about snuggling up with a book and then allowing yourself to close your eyes and head to dreamland in the middle of the afternoon.

I also have great memories of that nap at the end of nursery school or kindergarten.  Bliss.

To nap or not to nap?

I have recently being experiencing a flare.  My pain levels are off the charts and this makes me grumpy.  To be honest I have also had a niggling feeling that the depression that I have kept at bay for many years is creeping back.  The weather isn’t helping – in Ireland has been dull, grey and rainy for months.  I really don’t like taking antidepressants (although I would never rule them out). What I could do to help myself?

I sat with my journal and tried to figure out how to get though this rough patch. The first thing I realised is that I must be absolutely diligent with my exercise.  Exercise gives you endorphins – happy hormones so this was an easy fix. It is easy when you are not feeling great to skip, but that is the last thing I needed.  You can read about my wonderful trampoline routine here.

The second thing I realised is that an afternoon nap might help.  It was around 5 pm that I was feeling completely overwhelmed by pain and low mood.  I wondered if a nap might help.

An afternoon nap definitely helps

After a few days of my new routine, exercise first thing, eating as well as possible and my nap I started to feel a bit better.  The late afternoon dips were gone and I felt more able to cope.

There seems to be some evidence to back this up.  According to WebMD Napping isn’t just for babies. Studies show that an afternoon nap is great for adults, too. There’s no need to feel lazy for indulging in daytime sleep. A short nap in the mid-afternoon can boost memory, improve job performance, lift your mood, make you more alert, and ease stress.

Dr. Sara Mednick, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life has some interesting thoughts.  In an article on www.time.com she is quotes as saying that naps are good for most people.  Mednick says. her research shows a nap—defined as daytime sleeping that lasts between 15 and 90 minutes—can improve brain functions ranging from memory to focus and creativity. “For some people, naps are as restorative as a whole night of sleep,” she adds. More research shows a quick nap can lower stress and recharge your willpower. And napping has also been linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

It looks like my instincts to take an afternoon nap are good.  My research did show however that if you are very sleepy and feel like you need to sleep all the time, there could be an underlying cause.  If in doubt please consult your doctor.

For me though I am off upstairs for a little shut-eye.

Thanks for reading and sharing my journey.

Kerry x

Messages for my Inner Child

I was going through some old photos, and was struck by a few things.  Firstly, that I essentially haven’t changed that much.  I am older for sure, but the ‘me’ that was there at 7 is still there today.

My journey from seven to 55 has been exactly that a journey – lots of ups and downs, twists and turns and even if I could – I can’t change anything.  What I can do is remember that the essentially positive seven-year-old is still inside and by remembering my inner child I can keep myself young and positive.  I started to think of messages to my inner child.

My messages to my inner child are:

  • Keep creative.  Remember the joy of bits and pieces and how they all go together to create something special.  Choose whatever colour crayon you want and colour with abandon.
  • Don’t listen to the critics.  There is always someone who feels that they know better and are happy to correct you.  Don’t let anyone dampen your enthusiasm.
  • Everything in moderation.  In our house we were given a small package of sweets on a Friday night, and a comic on a Thursday.  We looked forward to this with a huge amount of expectation, and enjoyed it with delight.  A taste of sweetness is enough you don’t need the super-size bags.
  • Friendship is important.  As a child I loved spending time with my friends.  Sleepovers, after school visits and the exciting weekends.  As I got older it was discos and shopping, but the constant was friendship.  As an adult we get busy, too busy.
  • Enjoy play.  We forget the abandon of doing something for no particular purpose.  Running along the beach with my dress tucked into my knickers!  The sunshine filtering down and adding to my freckles.  I still want to do this (and I’ll tell you a secret I still do).
  • Accept who you are.  I never quite loved my freckles (I do now though).  At seven year’s old I had never heard of obesity, body image or cellulite.  I was just me.  I am still me.
  • Embrace dressing up.  I loved dressing up, shoes, hats, loads of accessories and a good bit of sparkle.  I even had a wig in my dressing up box.  It is nice to remember how it feels when we make a bit of an effort and even nicer when we receive a compliment.
  • Live for today.  At seven, we do not think of the future, we live for the day, and perhaps plan for a treat or an outing.  It is not that I advocate never planning for the future, but today is all we have promised.
  • Be prepared.  Now, don’t laugh!  When I was little I always kept a handbag, and in it a spare pair of knickers (pants).  In those days our underwear was held up by elastic and those elastics were known to snap.  Little acts of preparation go a long way.

What message would you give to your inner child.  She is still there, no matter what your age.  By remembering little me, I hope to give that childish joy alive forever.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Melanoma Awareness – Love your skin – it is the only one you have


I grew up in South Africa and was a real water baby.  As a child I spent hours running around  in my swimsuit, in and out of the water and baking myself under the hot sun.  I even fell asleep in the sun during the Christmas holidays and burned my bum so bad that I couldn’t sit!

That was many years ago and the word melanoma wasn’t one I had ever heard.  It wasn’t until I got a funny patch on my collar bone a few years ago that I really started to consider the cost.   Thankfully the patch was removed and it was ok, it was however a real wake-up call.

Perfect timing – Melanoma Awareness

As a blogger I receive press releases on a regular basis.  I glance and them and if they are relevant to my blog I will follow up.  A few weeks ago we had just returned home after visiting a melanoma clinic for a check-up.  All was good, but we were firmly reminded that we needed to wear Factor 30 if not Factor 50 at all times – not just on holidays and in the sunny weather.

Ping! An email arrived reminding me that May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Uriage a brand I love was calling on the public to adopt safe behaviour in the sun when abroad as well as in Ireland. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland with over 1,000 new cases diagnosed year, and on average 159 people dying annually. Cases of melanoma have almost trebled in the last 20 years.

UV rays come in two forms – UVA and UVB. UVA rays make up over 90% of the sun’s rays. They have a longer wavelength than UVB, allowing them to reach deeper within the skin. They pass through cloud, glass and water. These rays are responsible for Ageing of the skin and play a significant role in the development of skin cancer. UVB rays do not penetrate skin so deeply: they cause the skin to Burn, cause eye damage and also play a role in the development of skin cancers.

Uriage has gifted me this wonderful spray which is going to make keeping safe and protected so much easier. (It is available from many pharmacies and online)

Uriage Thermal Water Mist SPF 30 has the highest concentration of minerals and trace elements (52x richer than other Thermal Water available) and is proven to be soothing and fortifying for the skin. Its high mineral content and rich compositions makes it exceptional water with therapeutic properties. An anti-pollution shield associated to UV filter for an UVA/UVB protection

Be Melanoma Aware and know what to look for

With my few brushes with skin issues I have learnt a few things.

  1. Don’t panic.  However if you have any questions or concerns get medical advice.
  2. Know what to look for. A quick google with show you images of good moles and bad moles.  Many people have completely harmless ones, but it’s a great idea to keep an eye on them.
  3. Watch for changes – in many cases moles might be on a back or unseen. I take photos to compare (which I have found is exactly what the melanoma clinic does too).
  4. Finally, prevention is always a better option. Use the right sunscreen, and cover up!

After talking about sun, I feel I might need a bit of time with a cup of tea and a search for my next sun holiday.

Thanks for reading and please take care!

Kerry x

 

 

Fat people can exercise and enjoy it!

 

Yes, I am fat.  I have struggled with my weight my whole life.  Knowing what I know now, I wish that I had figured out how happy keeping moving makes me years ago.

A few weeks ago someone asked me what exercise I did.  I answered that I jumped on my mini trampoline.  You could actually see the images in her mind as she tried to visualise me on a trampoline.  It is not that I jump up and try touch the ceiling – what I do could probably be defined as jogging in one place.  With the huge benefit of less pressure on my arthritic joints. (I previously wrote about the benefits of rebounding (trampoline jumping) here.)

My biggest fear

I am afraid of loosing my mobility.  In fact, I have lost some already and have issues with balance and pain when walking.  I use a stick for any distance, or in areas where I am unfamiliar.  At first, I was embarrassed, and ashamed that I needed a stick to walk.  In Manchester with my son and I asked him – do you mind that I need a stick to walk?  His answer (he is very straightforward):  ‘At least when you walk with Stan (the stick) you walk faster.’  To be honest at least when I walk with a stick I get out and do it!

Anchoring habits

I knew I had to get moving and at the same time I knew that I needed to incorporate exercise into  my daily routine in a way that I would enjoy it and that it would become a habit.  When I get up in the morning, my first thought is tea, and then breakfast as I have a number of medications to take that need food.  The next thing I would do is write my journal.

In order to incorporate exercise effectively I decided to anchor my trampoline sessions to these two activities.  It is no fun jumping on a full stomach, so first thing in the morning I come downstairs and straight onto the trampoline.  Sometimes I jump to breakfast TV and other times set up a YouTube concert to inspire me.  By doing this first, I get it done and am rewarded with breakfast and some quiet time with my journal afterwards.

What to wear to exercise?

For many years I used the excuse of not having workout gear.  Thankfully times have changed and there is a great range of exercise gear at companies like Oxendales in all sizes.  The truth is that you don’t need special clothes to jump at home.  Just be comfortable and wear a good bra!

Footwear is another matter.  It is really important to look after your feet – especially as you get older and most exercise requires good supportive and comfortable footwear.  I am delighted with these blue grey shoes gifted to me by Hotter.  I could walk for miles in them, and the extra bonus is that they look great with jeans or jeggings.  They  haven’t been off my feet since they arrived.

My fab footwear are called Flow Shoes and are lightweight, flexible and trendy.  They come in three colours – Sky Blue (my choice), black and pebble grey.

Check out their range online at www.hotter.com.  They have a wide range of sizes and widths and a superb delivery service.

Although this is a sponsored post and the shoes were gifted to me, the story is my own.  I hope to share more episodes of my health and fitness journey with you here.

Thanks for reading – I am off to jump!  Yes, fat people can exercise.

Kerry xx

How often do you replace your make-up?


In many cases not often enough.  I fall in love with a palette and keep going back to it.  Or sometimes I forget about something (in amongst the clutter that is my make-up table), and then find it again.

I got a harsh reminder how important this is when woke up with an infected eye and had to go ‘naked’ for a week.

Yes, I can see clearly now

A second reminder arrived on my return from holidays,when attending a routine eye screening for diabetic retinopathy.  I must admit that I had put it off and kept on postponing.  A commitment to put my health first had me booking the appointment and sunglasses in hand, I set off.

It is simple.  You receive drops in your eyes, wait twenty minutes as the pupils dilate, and then a photo is taken of the back of your eye.  Your vision is blurry for a bit and you should guard your eyes against sunlight.

Unfortunately for me something went wrong.  Within half an hour I had intense pain in my head and eye sockets and couldn’t even open my eyes without getting a wave of nausea.  Thankfully I was able to react quickly and check into A&E where I received some treatment.  It wasn’t the end of the story though as I was sent to an eye specialist the following day, to find out that there had been some eye damage which was to be treated with steroid drops.

It was scary, and a huge reminder to be grateful for the things we take for granted like sight.

I haven’t worn make-up for over a week.  I am really determined to protect my eyes.

Make-up shelf life –  how long is too long?

I did a bit of research, and what really resonated with me was to look at your make-up like food. If it smells odd, looks odd or has changed texture – throw it out.  It can also be a good idea to note the date you bought it – and then simply check back.  Storage is also important and keeping lids tightly sealed and out of direct sunlight will protect your make-up and of course your skin and eyes.

When it comes to make-up shelf life, I will be stickign to these guidelines

  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner– 3 months after opening.  This is the most critical when it comes to infections as bacteria is carried back and forth on the wand.  It goes without saying that if you have an eye infection, treat yourself to a new mascara no matter how old it is.
  • Eye and lip pencils can be kept up to 2 years, if you are using a clean tip.  Invest in a great sharpener and use before each application.
  • Powder based products such as eye shadow palettes and powder brushes should keep up to 2 years, but if it smells odd (this happened to me) then throw it out.
  • Lipsticks can last up to 2 years – unless it’s your favourite colour, in which case it will be used up!  Again, keep an eye on the product and if in doubt indulge in the latest shade.
  • Foundations and concealers have differing shelf lives, normally ranging from 12 to 18 months.

Caring for your make-up brushes and using clean sponges and applicators will extend your products and keep your make-up and your skin in perfect condition.

I have learned my lesson and am off to tidy up my make-up table.  Thank you to Isadora Ireland and The Works PR who gifted me two fabulous new mascaras that arrived just when I needed them.  (Look out for them during May in pharmacies and Shaws as they are 50% off!)

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

 

Embracing JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out

I took a month off.  A month off blogging and most of social media.  I left my laptop upstairs gathering dust on my desk.

The time out from my normal routine led to great perspective and some exciting clarity.  I think it is a great idea for anyone.  We are constantly evolving and time out and a bit of rethinking is just what we need to get the next surge forward.

So, what exactly is JOMO?

Well, JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – is basically the opposite of FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.  I wrote about this a while back, as it was something I struggled with.  My health prevents me from doing quite a few things, and even when I say I will, I often have to cancel.  I always felt a bit peeved to be honest.  I sat at home on my sofa watching events on social media and wishing I was in the thick of it.

A shift in my thinking over the past months made me realise that it is ok not to be everywhere and that there is huge joy in simply staying at home and investing in my own life.  I love to paint, and to create and truthfully, I am so happy being creative that it’s a joy not to worry about what I might be missing out on and simply embrace the present.

I’ve taken up crochet again, as a tool to stop mindless scrolling and its is truly a joy to see the little piles of granny squares that will soon become a blanket.

I have also realised how often we don’t pay attention to the person we are with.

Mom, do you really need to Instagram that?

As a travel lover and travel blogger I love sharing my experiences, finding new vistas and new flavours across the world.  Recently I was in Manchester visiting family.  I was trying to be subtle as I snapped sights, while still enjoying this special time.  My son and I went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch.  We both love Japanese and this had become a bit of a tradition when we were together.  The food arrived, and I opened Instagram to add to my story.  Mom, do you really need to Instagram that?  I stopped short.  Of course, I didn’t.  I needed to spend special time with my son who I don’t get to see that often now he is living in another country.  I also needed to savour the aroma of the gorgeous food in front of me.

Taking time out

I took time out for January.  I didn’t blog, and I shared very little online.  I felt strong.  I felt like I was in the moment and took a huge amount of joy from it.  We had a little budget trip to Spain, a belated Christmas present, and keeping account of everything wasn’t a priority.  Yes, I did take a few snaps and shared some of it online, but I was also very conscious of simply feeling joy in the moment.

I love my blog

I have been writing my blog for nearly 4 years now.  I love how it has opened my world and brought me back to the joy of writing.  I have met so many amazing people and have had the true joy of connecting to people all over the world, as their lives touched mine, and mine theirs.

I am not giving up my blog, or social media, which I really enjoy too.  What I am doing is embracing JOMO and knowing that everything has a place in life.  I have committed to blogging at least once a month – less than I originally planned.  I will blog about things that excite me and that I cannot wait to share.  I am also committed to finishing my book (it has been a long time coming) and focussing on my art ventures.

Thank you all for your support, for following me and reading my ramblings.  My blog brings me Joy.

Between you and I have given up on FOMO.  If I am not meant to be there, then why fear missing out.  I’ll embrace JOMO and sitting by the fire, sipping on hot tea, reading a good book or simply being in the moment.

 

Kerry x

Spend Time not Money the Christmas

When I think of Christmas I think of traditions.  Those little rituals that cause you to feel warm and happy.  For me, it’s these little  things you do year after year that make my festive season special.  Spending time rather than money

I have put together a round-up of Christmas traditions that have been part of my family for years, and others that I have gathered from other fabulous woman around the world.

Here are my top 8 Christmas traditions (in no particular order):

  1. The treat cupboard.  So many of us remember our Mom’s having a special cupboard or shelf set aside for Christmas treats.  We start buying early and slowly it fills up with lovely goodies that are only revealed on the 24 December.  I love the illicit delight of knowing that there is chocolate in the house, but it cannot be eaten.  This is a really practical tradition too – because it is a great idea to spread the cost.
  2. This leads neatly into a fabulous Christmas tradition that I started when my son was born (23 years ago). I received a book call the Ultimate Christmas Book by Jane Newdick.  In it she describes a tradition called the 13 desserts which originates in Provence.  On Christmas eve you set out a plate with a risen cake (I use a small Pantone) and 12 other treats including fruits, nuts, nougat, biscuits and more.  These are to represent Christ and the 12 Apostles.  The idea is that this plate of goodness is to be refilled over the festive season, and welcomes people to your home.  In my home it is simply called ‘the plate’ and is an essential part of Christmas.
  3. Christmas music. My guilty pleasure.  There is nothing I like more than cranking up the volume and singing along.  I wait with eager anticipation for Christmas FM to come online.  Christmas music is an absolute must when decorating the tree, cooking the turkey and wrapping gifts.
  4. Christmas Cards – giving and receiving. I think it is quite sad that the ritual of sending cards seems to be dying out.  I make my own cards and love the process of checking addresses, writing short messages and getting a pile ready for the post office.  It is a really good way of remembering people who you might not see that often and touching base at least once a year.  I also have to admit I love the thunk of a Christmas card through the door, and delight in seeing who it is from, and savouring the connection.
  5. Books and chocolate on Christmas Eve.  Although we normally allow one gift from under the tree on Christmas eve, I have recently read of the practice of receiving gifts of books and chocolates the night before Christmas and then snuggling up for a good read and a nibble.  Jolabokaflod – literally translated as book flood is an Icelandic tradition that I will definitely be adopting.
  6. Decorating the tree. We all have special dates we start, and then special traditions.  Each decoration I have is individual and many are handmade.  As each decoration come out, it tells a story.  So many of us have decorations and baubles bought to mark special occasions like the birth of a new child.  that mean a lot or decorations that hold lots of memories.  Put on the Christmas music, break out the mince pies and keep decorating.
  7. Christmas Baking. It doesn’t matter what you choose, but almost everyone you speak to has a Christmas baking tradition.  Every sense is awakened by baking – including the obvious delicious tastes and smells!  In our home we have to have homemade shortbread – which is consumed when unwrapping stockings on Christmas morning.
  8. The Gingerbread House – although this could be considered baking it isn’t really. Every year I buy a kit. Which we assemble on Christmas eve.  It has progressed from a purely Mom affair through a family construction that was more fun than beautiful to a carefully engineered construction.  I do know that it always means lots of laughs and the gift of time spent together.

Christmas is a great time to think of the people we share our life with, and to spend time, rather than money.

I would love to wish you and your family a wonderful festive season as you take time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.  Happy making memories.

Kerry xx

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

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