Monthly Archives: July 2015

Happy Friday 31.07.15

Well, we are now back home after a wonderful two weeks in Grenada. I wasn’t looking forward to the holiday being over and coming home, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected – but I’m probably still going to find most of my Happy Friday list from our Caribbean experience!

1. The trip we had around the island last Friday was lovely. Our first stop was Fort Frederick, a backward-facing fort dating from 1791, which afforded amazing views of the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the inland rainforest areas. From there, we then went on to Mount Carmel waterfall – it only required a short hike to reach the cascade and it was stunning.

Fort Fort_view MC FG_MC

2. Our final destination on our trip was to one of our favourite haunts on the island – one we have visited each time we have holidayed in Grenada, La Sagesse bay, where we had our customary burger and beer lunch – and admired the beautiful view.


3. One of the best parts of the trip was eating the mangoes, picked fresh from the tree by Glenn, our driver, as we walked back from the waterfall – we just peeled the skin off and ate them like apples. By the time we reached the car, our hands and chins were absolutely dripping in mango juice, but they were honestly the tastiest, juiciest fruits we have ever eaten, and to do so in such an amazing setting was just incredible.


4. A band played in the hotel on Saturday night, so we again had a great dance in the lounge and the courtyard – another lovely evening.

5. On Sunday, we had our customary walk along the beach to the Aquarium bar for our live music and mojito fix – as great as ever.


6. Following this, we then went back to sit by the pool at our hotel, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea and from where you can watch the amazing sunsets. As this was out last night, we really made the most of it and sat there until it had gone completely dark – a wonderful family moment.


7. After all of this and the long journey back it was actually okay to arrive home, but it was made more palatable by the lovely meal that was waiting for us, prepared by Debra, who had been looking after the dogs and the house, and by the warm welcome from the dogs – we had missed them, so it was so good to see them again.

8. Sleeping in our own beds again – that’s one thing that you can’t beat after a holiday!

9. G and B enjoyed sleeping in their own beds again so much that they stayed in them for most of the next morning, so that by the time they emerged, I had had chance to do lots of washing and ironing, had weeded the garden, mown the lawn and walked the dogs – a very productive morning.

10. My really good university friend, Helen, visited on Thursday, and it was so good to see her. As she heads off to start a new adventure in Hong Kong on Monday, we don’t know when we will next see each other at the moment, so it was great to be able to catch up for a few hours over lunch together, so I’m very grateful that she stopped by – and good luck, Helen!

F-A Flower

We have a quiet weekend ahead, which I’m more than happy about, as we prepare to welcome our two French exchange children next week, who will then be with us for nine days, so we have lots of fun days out planned.

I hope that you have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.


Happy Friday 24.07.15

Apologies for this week’s Happy Friday post being a little later than usual, but there were island-wide connection problems yesterday, which meant that there was no internet connection or working mobile phone network. This was quite a strange feeling, as it really did feel that we were on a small island completely cut off from the rest of the world – not an altogether unpleasant experience for a few hours!

Anyway, of course, this week’s list has been just as easy to compile as last’s, due to the fact that we have been enjoying our second week in paradise, so here’s a brief round-up:

1. Last Friday’s fishing trip – I have to admit that, an hour or so into this trip, I wasn’t loving it and would not have imagined it featuring in this week’s list, as I was feeling pretty seasick, as was G and poor B was really quite ill. However, once we returned to slightly calmer waters, the second half of the outing was much more fun. We obviously had the “big one that got away” story, but then, just five minutes before returning to port, D managed to pull in a barracuda, which was pretty exciting. We could have fetched it back to the hotel, where they would have cooked it for us, but G took pity on it, so it went back in the sea. Apart from the fishing though, it was a great experience to see more of the island from the water, as we went all along the west coast before returning back to the very pretty Port Louis.

St Georges Georgie boat Ben boat


2. Saturday night now features as one of our best nights ever! We had dinner in the pool restaurant, which we have been doing three nights a week (as the hotel is pretty quiet, everyone can fit in the smaller pool restaurant, rather than the usual larger one in the main hotel building, and we love it out there – the lighting is really pretty, as it’s completely dark by 7pm, the setting by the lovely pool is beautiful, it is cooler, with the sea breeze gently blowing in and it is so close that you can hear the sound of the Caribbean waves constantly – there’s no better sound. However, on Saturday, they also had a fantastic steel band playing – and what a mix of music they played, from popular Caribbean music, to Queen and The  Beatles, modern pop to musical theatre tunes – but it was (bizarrely!) “When the Saints Go Marching In” that got everyone on their feet and dancing around the pool. Just wonderful food, location, music and atmosphere – perfection!

3. On Sunday afternoon, we did one of our favourite things and walked along the beach to The Aquarium bar. This is a very popular place to go for both locals and holidaymakers (although it was much quieter than usual this time), with a bar directly on the beach (with the amazing view below), so that the children can play in the sea while we sit and relax, and listen to the live band playing. The atmosphere was good and the mojitos delicious!



4. One of my favourite times of day here is sunset, which happens at about 6.30pm, and we have experienced some beautiful ones this week. One that stands out was when D and I had a sunset walk along the beach, walking through the edge of the sea, chatting about nothing in particular, stopping to take some photos and collect a couple of shells which will now forever remind me of that moment – bliss.


5. Of course, if you have seen my Facebook photos, you will know about the amazing luck we have had this week being able to see and handle baby turtles. The ground staff here at the hotel had collected about 50 just-hatched baby turtles, as they had started to make their way down to the sea, but, as this is their most vulnerable moment, as they are usually eaten by birds on their journey, they had picked them up and put them in a sea-water pool. This meant that they were there for us to watch, photograph and hold for a day, before we then had the amazing opportunity of releasing them into the sea at sunset. They really were the sweetest creatures, and it was so lovely to send them on their way, watching how they streamlined their bodies to cope with the waves, then seeing their little heads bobbing out of the water as they made their way out – a truly amazing experience, and the highlight of G’s holiday by far.

Turtles2 Turtles1

6. B and I have spent a lot of time in the pool this week playing water volleyball, and it’s been great fun. We are pretty evenly matched, so it works well, but he always just seems to beat me!


7. This week has also seen us playing lots of family games, either by the pool or in the lounge area, which we have all loved – Uno continues to be a favourite, along with Continuo and our new shorter version on Scrabble, which is far more fun than the original, in our opinion!

Play1 Play2

8. I have also spent a lot of time reading by the pool, as usual, this week, which has been lovely. Just having the time to do this, without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else, is a major factor in why we come.

9. D and I have enjoyed trying some new cocktails this week, as we discovered that the pool bar does a different speciality cocktail every day, so we have sampled some delicious ones that we have never before heard of. My favourite was the mocktail we had a couple of days ago – I just need to remember what was in it now!

DBpool DGpool

10. The last one for this week is the great service we had from Sunsations, the company through which we booked both the fishing trip and our half day island trip. We were supposed to go on our trip on Wednesday, but G wasn’t at all well, so I had to call them to change it just 30 minutes before we were due to be picked up. However, they happily changed it for us so that we can go today, Friday, so we are really looking forward to that. We were very grateful that there was no issue with doing this, and we know then we can go today with a well G.

We are now looking forward to our final weekend here before returning to the real world next week. I am at the stage where it seems to have gone far too quickly now, and want to go back in time two weeks, and have the whole experience all over again. This really is our idea of paradise, in so many ways, and I don’t think that we will ever tire of being here.

P.S. For those of you doing “blog bingo” with my Happy Friday post, I wish you all the best this week!

Happy Friday 17.07.15

Pink Red White Yellow

Well, I’m guessing that this is going to be one of the easiest Happy Friday lists to compose, considering that we have spent the past three days in paradise, on the beautiful island of Grenada in the Caribbean. This is our fourth visit to the island – once before we had G and B, in 1999, and then three trips in the past four years.  It seems to be relatively little-known in the UK, in comparison with many of the other Caribbean islands, and is often confused, when we say where we are going on holiday, with Granada in Spain. It is also known as the “Island of Spice” because of the production of nutmeg and mace, of which it is one of the world’s largest exporters, and this, along with tourism, is its main trade.

It is a small island, full of lovely, friendly people, and our hotel is no exception – the staff are so attentive, which adds to the experience enormously. Anyway, we are three days into our stay here, so here are some of the highlights so far:

1. The first great thing happened before we left home, with the arrival of Debra, who is staying in our house and looking after the three dogs whilst we are away. She is so lovely, and we couldn’t feel happier leaving them in her care. She is also great at putting photos of them on Facebook, so we can keep track of what they are up to.

Lizard Poolview

2. The Virgin Atlantic experience! We have flown Virgin on each of our visits here, but this year, the flight seemed even better than previously. Due to the fact that we fly out quite early in the morning, we always travel down to Gatwick the afternoon before and go straight to Twilight Check-In, which is such a great idea – it means that we check-in and our luggage is taken away immediately, when there are never any queues whatsoever, so that, the next morning, we just arrive at the airport with our hand luggage and go straight to security. We then had plenty of time for a lovely breakfast, with mimosa cocktails for me and D, before boarding. The flight itself was then great – the additional elements this year were a bottle of water waiting for us on our seats and we then, later in the flight, got an extra drink. The entertainment was great – the film that I’d really hoped would be on (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) was, so I was delighted by this, and there was plenty to keep us occupied all the way to the Caribbean.

3. The welcome we received as soon as we stepped out of the airport. A familiar taxi driver was waiting for us and welcomed us back to the island, and then drove us to the hotel (Grenadian by Rex Resorts)- a full five minute journey at the very most! We were then greeted so warmly by the hotel manager and reception staff, who welcomed us back with such enthusiasm (and with cool flannels and fruit punch!) – we had been looking forward to arriving for so long,  but this really did make it feel even better to be back.


4. Our accommodation in the hotel, having been upgraded to executive rooms. We knew that we would have more space this year anyway, as, for the first time, G and B have their own room, so we don’t have their two beds squashed into ours, but both of the rooms which we were allocated were much more spacious than we are used to, with a large bedroom, bathroom, living room area and extra large balconies. And a kettle – so that I can have my morning cups of tea!

5. The service we are receiving in the restaurants is absolutely fantastic. We have never had any complaints about the service previously, but there is a really noticeable difference in the standard this year. There are a lot of new staff, many of whom are very young, but the restaurant manager is the same and is clearly doing an amazing job of training them. They honestly can’t do enough for you: they introduce themselves at the start of the meal and explain the menu options; they keep you constantly topped up with ice cold water; crockery is cleared away as soon as it is finished with; they serve you drinks immediately and ask if you’d like more as soon as your glass is empty, etc. etc. This morning, G spilt some tea in her saucer and our waiter replaced it with a clean one straightaway, almost before we’d noticed she’d done it. Just fantastic!

Poolview Wedding

6. Doing very little! We have been looking forward to having this time time to relax and recharge our batteries for a good few months, and that is exactly what we are doing. It’s so nice when the most difficult decision you have to make is what to order from the bar!


7. The food! Much as I enjoy cooking, it is such a treat to have a break from it and know that we are going to be presented with a range of delicious options three times a day. The breakfasts are possibly my favourite meal, with a range of cereals, two types of porridge, freshly cooked pancakes, French toast and omelettes, a selection of cooked options, often including local specialities, toast, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, and a selection of juices, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and speciality teas (yesterday’s cinnamon tea was particularly good). The lunches and dinners consist of soups, a range of fresh catch of the day, delicious meat dishes, rice dishes, vegetables and salads – we have honestly put on so much weight already – but are loving it.

8. The views! As you can see from the photos, the views are absolutely spectacular. I always wonder if Grenadians realise what an amazing part of the world they live in  or if, as is usually the case, you get so used to your surroundings that you begin to take it for granted. Even on our fourth visit, we continue to be blown away by the scenery.

Beach Beach_sea Sea

9. Having time as a family to properly relax – not to be rushing around or getting stressed or anxious about things, but just lounging by the pool together, playing in the water, sharing lovely food, etc. – bliss.

10. The weather – obviously it is very hot here, about 30 degrees every day, but we also seem to get a short rain shower almost every day. They don’t last long, but really freshen everything up, clear the air, and are vital for the beautiful grounds that our hotel is in, with the gorgeous flowers, plants and trees.


Yep! It was quite easy to think of these things, and next week will probably be very similar, but we have got a fishing trip, a day out, and a trip to our favourite Caribbean bar, The Aquarium, to look forward to, so no doubt they will feature.

I hope that you have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

Happy Friday 10.07.15

Thistles Yellow

Well, that’s it today – the end of the school year for G and B, and almost holiday time for us – thank goodness! But before we jet off on Monday, here are a few of the things which have made me smile this week:

1. The Rhubarb Elderflower Gin Coolers that we made last Friday night. I made the rhubarb syrup during the day, so that we just had to mix the other ingredients in the evening, and they really were fabulous! I absolutely love rhubarb in all its forms, and I’ve been drinking gallons of elderflower cordial this summer, so it really was the most perfect combination.

2. I went to Surrey on Saturday to spend some time with a really close friend who has recently returned from ten years of living on the continent – and we had such a lovely day! Obviously, the M25 “car park” meant that I arrived over an hour later than intended, but we then made the most of the rest of the day – by doing very little! It was just what we both needed – a day of catching up, wandering around Weybridge, finding a lovely riverside pub for a  much-needed drink, followed by an ice cream from a gorgeous Italian deli – a truly great day.

3. I do love to eat outdoors, and the children and I managed to do this on Sunday whilst D was out at work. It was gloriously sunny, and I had one of my favourite summer meals  – spinach, strawberry and blue cheese salad – followed by a bit of time out on the parkland behind our house. We really were so lucky, as it absolutely tipped down with rain about 15 minutes after we came in, but we were very glad that we’d made the most of it while it was warm and dry.

4. I have no idea how I have got to the age of 41 and not watched “The English Patient” but somehow this had happened. So, when my great friend, Hettie, mentioned this recently whilst we were watching Ralph Fiennes star in “Man and Superman”, we decided that this had to be remedied, so she came over on Monday evening for a movie night. It’s not often that we stop talking when we are together, but this film had us sitting in almost complete silence for over two and a half hours – it really is a beautiful film, stunning in so many ways, with a totally compelling storyline, breath-taking scenery and first class performances. A very lovely way to spend an evening.

5. Books! My friend, Emma, who I visited on Saturday, gave me four books that she had finished with when I saw her, then Hettie had very kindly bought me a book for our holiday, so I feel that I have lots of great reading matter to keep me going. I do love having good books to look forward to.

6. Finally planning a range of activities for when we have two French exchange children over for nine days in August. This has been making me feel a little stressed over the past few weeks, as we don’t know them and have no idea how competent they are in English, so I felt that I needed to plan a full itinerary of activities to keep us all occupied, so I’m very pleased that I now have this sorted – and the Tesco vouchers are on their way!

7. My to-do list this week has been pretty varied, with a combination of work, things to do to prepare for our dog/house sitter arriving, last minute things to buy for our holiday (travel sickness wristbands we felt were a must for our deep sea fishing trip!) – and almost everything is done, which is always a good feeling.

8. The email I received yesterday morning saying that our dog/house sitter had arrived in the UK (as she lives in France). We can’t wait for her to arrive on Sunday, then we can talk her through everything, hand over all that needs to be handed over – and then leave our gorgeous dogs in her capable hands for two weeks!

9. B has been away (again!) all week in Northumberland, presumably having a great time (he’s never a great one for communicating when he’s away from home!). The trip sounded amazing, with visits to York Minster, various Roman forts, rock-pooling at the beach, Bamburgh Castle, zip wire activities, Leeds Amouries Museum – not to mention the early morning daily runs! But we are really looking forward to having him home tonight.

10. My final one today is my fabulous husband, D. We have been together since meeting at school, and he really is perfect for me – he is so supportive, kind and hard-working (I honestly think that he may just sleep for the entire two weeks that we are away, as he’s been working so hard!). I just feel so lucky that we found each other when we did.



The Pace of Life

Last week was the first week since starting this blog back in March that I didn’t do a mid-week post. Previously, I have been completing my Happy Friday posts, occasional Silent Sunday ones, and then a more random post on a Tuesday or Wednesday. However, as we are gearing up for the summer holiday and being away for two weeks, things have been slightly more hectic than usual, which is why I just didn’t have the time for last week’s random musings.

But, with our holiday now imminent, I have been considering the pace of life. D works ridiculously hard and long hours, leaving him very little time or energy for anything else, while I work for the business and then doing everything else that needs doing in the house and for the family, so everyday life can be pretty intense – as it is for many, many people. Therefore, I do believe that it is no coincidence that our two favourite places on earth – the North Norfolk coast and the Caribbean island of Grenada – have one huge thing in common – a much slower pace of life. When we are not working, this is exactly what we want: it is the reason we don’t have a microwave – we prefer to spend time cooking properly, even making popcorn from scratch; it is why we chose not to have an instant hot water tap when we had our new kitchen done last year – we’d much rather enjoy the “process” of making tea with our whistling kettle; and it explains why we gave away our gas barbecue last year in favour of cooking food slowly over the fire pit. Peace, tranquillity, simplicity and slowing down are exactly what we need to fully appreciate life and to re-charge our batteries. And right now, they have never been in more need of re-charging, which is why we are so ridiculously excited to be spending time over the next few weeks in our two favourite places, as shown below –

BOS sunset1 Grenada beach1

Happy Friday 03.07.15

Flower Candle Raspberry Scone

Only one more week of the summer term to go before the children are on holiday for seven weeks. In most ways, I can’t wait for them to finish, as we love our time together, lazy mornings, trips away, etc., but it does make keeping up with work quite tricky at times, which is the downside. But the reason we started the business was to give me the flexibility to be able to do the school run and be with them during the holidays, so for that I am truly grateful and appreciative, so I’m not moaning!

And in the spirit of not moaning, here’s a run down of the things that have made me happy this week:

1. Getting Georgie back from France after her six day trip. She’d had a fantastic time – and we’ve seen lots of photographic evidence of this – but it was great to have her home, even if they were late back so we had to collect her at 2.15am!

2. A great night out by the fire pit, with candles, tealights and fairy lights as well as the light of the fire to keep us out there until just past midnight!

3. A relaxing Saturday afternoon sitting out in the garden, listening to Caribbean soca music whilst reading and drinking elderflower cordial – bliss!

4. The cheese scones I made on Sunday – we all absolutely love them – I really must remember to make double the quantity next time.

5. An early morning walk with the dogs on Wednesday, to beat the midday heat – lots of other dog owners had the same idea so it was a very sociable time. Plus, on the way home,  I discovered a small raspberry bush right behind our garden fence with a handful of fat, juicy raspberries.

6. Lunch out with friends on Wednesday to a restaurant I haven’t visited before – but shall be returning to!

7. Seeing D eventually! We have been like ships that pass in the night this week, with him working very late and then being away, so it was nice to have him home last night, even if it was late by the time he got back.

8. I was later home than usual from work on Thursday but I made a delicious lunch of brie on toasted seeded onion bagel, which was just what the doctor ordered.

9. The fact that we have started taking our concoction of anti-histamine, vitamin B1 and garlic tablets  – our anti-insect bite combination – in preparation for our holiday. As this needs to be done two weeks before we leave, it is a definite sign that it is almost upon us!

10. The book that I have been reading this week has definitely made me smile on more than one occasion. It is The School Gate Survival Guide, by Kerry Fisher. I’ve loved brie for years but I’ve never come across the concept of “cutting the nose off the brie” – hilarious!

We have a pretty busy weekend ahead – I’m going down to Surrey to see a friend for the day on Saturday, which I’m very excited about, but then D is working all day Sunday. We have a crazy week ahead next week, as we try to fit three weeks of work into one, plus various other work and home related tasks – but this time next week, we should be all done and ready for our holiday!