A Weekend on the Love Boat

I am  very privileged to be on a friends British Airways Staff Travel concession which has allowed me to fly standby many a time. I rock up at the airport, check in, get a seat and jet off.  But on a recent flight to Palma, Majorca, the flight was so busy that I wasn’t allowed to check in and being low priority – how very dare you – I was directed instead to the Staff Travel room and told to wait… this was a first and I could feel the anxiety rising.

Twenty five minutes before the flight was due to leave I was told I had a seat, and suddenly I became THAT mental woman dashing through the airport with her trolley bag. At Security I had too many toiletries stuffed into the ubiquitous plastic bag so I had to choose , in a hurry, what to take and what to leave –  Nuxe body oil or Vichy SPF 50 BB cream. I can only describe it as harrowing. I careered into the departure lounge looking like I had arrived on the back of a  motor bike.

Two hours later the searing heat of Palma hit me as I jumped into the back of a clapped out Polo, my gorgeous school friend Katy Lobo at the wheel and we headed North to Puerto Pollenca for a long weekend at her place, a catamaran called “Felix” – did I mention that I am also privileged to have friends in wonderful places.

Due to the soaring temperatures of the air and the water, Katy and Thomas – Katy’s beau and the proud owner of Felix – have moored a short motor dinghy ride outside of the sheltered bay of Puerto Pollenca to take advantage of the breeze, and the cleaner cooler water of the open sea.

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Thomas’ ideal is to live on as little as possible, waste as little as possible, be kind to the planet and spread the love. I liked him instantly. He’s a good man and he makes Katy very happy, their love for each other is infections and they were lovely to be around.

All the electricity on Felix is solar generated and the “air conditioning” is a sail positioned above the main hatch to syphon air into the cabin and galley – it’s simple and it flippin works.  Felix is circa 1970’s so no mod cons, but beautifully made and full of character. Fresh water onboard is precious so washing up and showering are done in the sea.  It didn’t take me long to loose my inhibitions and strip off, jump in and soap up along with my hosts. I felt surprisingly clean and fresh and for four days I didn’t use any oils or moisturisers, my skin felt amazing and it was much more fun than having a bath.

Life on the sea attracts some very cool people and I was lucky enough to meet a handful of Katy and Thomas’ friends over the period of my stay.  These gatherings took place over a BBQ dinner on Felix’s deck. It’s hard to beat fresh local produce cooked simply and eaten as the sun sets over the sea and the mountains, relishing in the company of friends old and new.

Giacomo is an architect by trade but had recently rowed 3000 miles through the water ways of Europe from London to Istanbul making a documentary to highlight the importance of water conservation and subsistence. The documentary has been made into a film “Man on the River”  and he is now in talks with the BBC about his next venture, spending the winter alone in an isolated igloo in Norway, he is quite a guy. But it wasn’t all about him, he was as equally interested in me as I was about him. And  whilst I shared my ambitions with him, miraculously a dolphin appeared in front of the boat.   This is a sign from the Earth telling me  to live my dreams he told me.   Get out there and just do it – swoon. A shooting star would have finished off the evening perfectly.

The next day bought high drama at sea, after a day busy doing nothing but a quick SUP in the early morning followed by some serious sunbathing and skinny dipping we were informed by a former player of FC Barcelona that “manana mal tiempo”. High winds were due to hit the coast, Thomas and Katy’s “fleet” had to be secured.

This involved moving Katy’s dhingy “The Black Pearl” into dry dock. A covert operation at 2300 which involved, bolt cutters, a saw, two head torches, two girls – one totally at ease and one totally clueless – and a very chilled out German – Thomas. Once The Black Pearl was safe on dry land we then had to cross the very choppy bay to take down the sails on their other dinghy “The Optimist” and once that was done, I was allowed to go to bed. Exhausted.

The High winds came and went. They were a relief from the stifling heat but caused some chaos amongst the sailing fraternity which is clearly split into two halves. Those that can sail and those that have very expensive pleasure boats and think they can sail and quite frankly – says she who can’t sail – a danger to themselves and others.  It was a day of tangled ropes, tangled moorings and tangled tempers, unusual behaviour in this chillaxed community

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Katy and Thomas do have a wonderful life, a life which they have created but it doesn’t just involve BBQ’s, inspiring conversations and being naked 70% of time, they do have jobs.

Thomas is a Captain for hire and one of his clients is a billionaire Norwegian business man, the owner of a £2.2m super motor yacht moored in the bay of Alucdia and it is this boat that is Katy’s “office” she is the Stewardess when he is on board.

The Norwegian pops down for about 7-10 days a month during the summer season and when he’s not there the boat sits empty but needs to taken for a run every so often to keep the propellors moving, so  I jumped at the chance to go work!

I can’t give you the name of the yacht for obvious reasons, but I can tell you it was fllipin enormous and top of the range in every aspect. It was easy to imagine Kate Moss and a few of her A list mates draped over the sun decks, vomiting into the shag pile and spilling vodka all over the Miele kitchen. Get the picture?  As we left the bay, Thomas put his foot down – not a nautical term – and we belted along at 23 knots. We were so high up and going to so fast, that the wake we left behind was comparable to that of a cross channel ferry, it was super cool.

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But for all of her luxury, the yacht was soulless. A super expensive, super shiny beige and chrome interior by Kelly Hoppen, with no personal effects. The Norwegian comes down on his own and keeps his own company. Too busy making money to enjoy it with family and friends. How very sad. As lovely as it was zipping around like a VIP for the afternoon, I would much rather bob around the Med on Felix luxuriating in any waft of breeze that came my way rather than the respite of Kelly Hoppens’ air conditioned blandness, cold, uninviting, uninspiring and most definitely no love.

All good things come to an end and so it was that I ate my last handful of “holiday” crisps and my last two scoops of “holiday” ice-cream  – all foods preceded by the word “holiday” miraculously contain no calories – and said a fond farewell to Puerto Pollenca, Felix, Thomas and Giacomo.

I reluctantly put my clothes back on and jumped out of the water and onto a bus to Palma with my beautiful friend Katy. Not only had she shared with me her life aquatic and inspired me to leave my unopened Nuxe body oil and Vichy SPF 50 BB cream behind, but she also shared with me a little pearl of wisdom.

A couple of years ago she came to a crossroads with her work and personal life and a friend told her to put on her “Yes Hat”. To stop saying “no” and “but” and to say “yes” to people and opportunities that came her way. I have recently learnt that “I can’t” actually means “ I won’t” and that the crippling emotion behind “I won’t” is fear.

And so I dedicate this blog post to my friends Katy and Thomas who have shown me how life can be lived and how much you can love and be loved when you are FEARLESS. HALLELIJIAH!

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2014 – A Year in Words & Pictures

 

2014 was for me, a great year, and it started with an unwanted Christmas present from my sister. Unwanted in the respect that she gifted me an online course from Brene Brown to accompany a book she had given me about being “perfectly imperfect.” Surprisingly I didn’t take this as an insult,  I felt that I had done so much work on myself in the past that actually now it was the time to learn new things and accept the person that I am so I asked if I could do a Guardian Masterclass in Essential Journalism Skills instead, and being the briliant big sister that she is, she very kindly said yes.

The Masterclass inspired me beyond belief and re-ignited my love of writing. It made me think of the next five years and what I would like to achieve, and a thought that has come to mind is that I would like the freedom to be able to earn a living anywhere in the world from my laptop. I’m not sure yet what this looks like, but I’m thinking that writing in some capacity is the way forward. This obviously means giving up my beloved hairdressing, but in five years time I’ll be 50 and will have been hairdressing for 17 years, it will be time for a change.

I went on to take further Masterclasses in CopywritingGrammar and how to get the best out of Twitter all of which were just fantastic – I would highly recommend all of them – I wanted to develop my website and blog, I realised the importance of having an “online voice.” I attended the Brighton SEO conference

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and I started an online blogging course, Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted. I continued to be inspired listening to the amazing women speaking @300 Seconds and the awesome gathering that was Meaning 2014.

I was learning and I was loving it! I got tickets to see Ruby Wax on her tour “Sane New World” and attended a wonderful meditation weekend at The Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre (see my previous blog post for the fully story) and fortune shone on me again by securing me one of only four places available on a Reiki One course with the awesome Kirsty Norton.

But 2014 certainly wasn’t all work and no play, I manged to see 25 films, in my personal poll, my top three were, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Her” and “Pride,” and the one that I wasted 3 hours of my life and a tenner on? “Noah!” Soooo bad! So very, very bad.

I read over 20 books, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton my favourite stories and Sane New World by Ruby Wax and the Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters, both mind expanding and thought provoking in so many ways.

One of the best  months of the year for me is May, not only is it my birthday – May The 4th Be With You – it is also the Brighton Festival and this years highlights included “Music in the Dark,” a performance by two amazing French acoustic guitarists playing European gypsy music in total darkness in the crypt of a church, it was one of those spur of the moment Festival gems that I won’t easily forget.

In complete contrast “Red Bastard” insulted, offended, inspired and then stripped off to reveal a tiny little Red Bastard! It was jaw dropping and quite hard to comprehend afterward, but if he comes to Brighton again, go and see him. My Festival climax was a Q&A with a panel of Spy Writers and a chance to hear and see the magnificent Stella Rimington, if only she could have really spilt the beans…..

Summer arrived and myself and some gorgeous friends travelled to the beautiful village of Lubi in the hills of Majorca for a very, very relaxing villa holiday.

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So relaxing in fact that I only left the villa three times in ten days, once to buy a handbag, once to buy croissants for breakfast and once to go on a Tinder date. The purchase of handbag’s and croissant’s proved better reasons to extricate myself from my sunbed than the Tinder date.

I also was delighted to get the invite from a friend to spend 10 days traveling around Italy in his camper van. It was great fun and Italy didn’t disappoint. Our trip took us from Geonoa down the coast to the Cinque Terre, onto Florence and Sienna and then into Chianti and the Tuscan Hills.

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A foodie paradise, I lovingly piled on 3kgs saying “YES” to anything edible…. Gelato, pizza, pasta, endless local delicacies, the genius that is Apperitivo, and the most amazing T-bone steak in the Mercarto Centrale in Florence.

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For a foodie, not much tops the sheer joy of stopping at a roadside market, buying fresh local produce and cooking it up there and then in a mobile kitchen, it really was a treat of a trip.

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The year was rounded off by a trip to Marrakech for a friends “significant” birthday, another wonderful destination. It poured with rain for 4 days, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.

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we haggled, we shopped, we walked, we got scrubbed and massaged in the Haman, we made great use of the french we had learnt in school and we chilled out around the log fire in the luxurious Riad Anyssates, yes it was that cold we had a log fire! – a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

2014 brought a big and very welcome life changing event, my darling Papa having lived in Spain for the past 25 years made the move back to the place he was born London Town.

To have him back in the UK and only an hour up the road is so HUGE I can’t begin to tell you. He’s 82, fit and healthy and now he has his Freedom Pass he is traveling all over London having new adventures. His favourite haunts so far are John Lewis, The Barbican and Borough Market… long may he continue to be fabulous and adventurous.

I was honored to be a guest at the wedding’s of two very dear girlfriends, both took place at Pangdean Barn in Pyecombe, one in February and one in June. I have now been to Pangdean for four weddings, I was paranoid that they were starting to recognise me….. always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride.

For his 6th birthday I took my Godson Harry, aka Luke Skywalker, for a pasta cookery lesson and dodged the Nerf Gun bullets at his party in Hove Park and I got my groove on dressing up as Queen Elsa and serving ice-cream for his sister Isabella’s “Frozen” extravaganza.

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On a cold and windy, summers afternoon on Brighton Beach, there were tears and laughter reminiscing  over my teenage sweetheart, Patrick Swayze whilst watching Dirty Dancing on the big screen. What fun! Singing along and shouting out all the famous lines,  I really did have “the time of my life.”

Thanks to a couple of freebie tickets, I took another step back in time to 1989 when I met one of my musical heroes Jazzy B at the Love Supreme festival. I couldn’t resist grabing him for a selfie as he walked past me whilst I was waiting for a portaloo. I’m so  “Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

And talking of Festivals, I helped a friend out on her delicious “Masala Monkey” food cart at the Elderflower Fields Festival.

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A lovely little festival and great fun, luckily for us the weather was appalling and everyone wanted hot Halloumi curry, we sold out, got the car stuck in the mud, but eventually made it home.

Whilst I’m on the topic of food, I ate lots of it and tried many new things, the food in Italy being a highlight, but also the fantastic food served up at local supper club Snr Buddha and Brighton restaurants 64degrees and Silo both amazing individually, and even better when

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they collaborated for an evening . Every morsal was a taste sensation and the evening a sell out and rightly so, Its definitely one to try if you haven’t already.

Eating in London with Papa is proving a worthwhile venture.  The Grain Store in the recently renovated Granary Square at Kings Cross, one of the best we have tried so far, and Inamo in Wardour Street proved great fun with it’s interactive menu built into the table, luckily our lovely waiter picked up on the fact that we probably didn’t need three Crispy Ducks, it was just Papa getting excited about the technology. Sadly Marcus Wareings new venture Tredwells, proved a massive disappointment.

Many a wonderful summer’s day were spent horizontal on Hove beach with friends, but on one of the rare occasions  beach got swapped for countryside, I had a magical day out at Lordington Lavender Fields a little piece of Provence in West Sussex.

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With the discovery of a cake tent run by the WI, the day really couldn’t have got any better. Lavender infused Victoria sponge and a pot of Earl Grey, in a Lavender field…. hard to beat really #English #Summer

It has been incredibly cathartic writing this blog article, it’s  the first time in 44 years that I have ever reviewed a year so fully and looking back, it was awesome! I did so much and had so much fun, I think it could be the best year to date so far and I got to thinking why and I put it down to knocking booze on the head and being sober. It’s a way of being that has bought me nothing but positives.

I wasn’t an alchoholic, I was restrained during the week, but at the weekends I would binge and spend Saturday, Sunday and most Monday’s feeling pretty awful and not getting much done. I had a real wake up call on my 44th birthday, it involved a man, a pair of boots and an avocado and it resulted in me not wanting to be that person who woke up with that horrible sense of dread and self loathing about her behavior, and so that was it, my “Damascan moment.” I haven’t been drunk since and I haven’t had a hangover for 18 months, and the result? I’ve learned to like myself, and actually I’m Ok! I have alot more fun and with a constant clear head, I get so much more done and so much more out of my life.

My biggest personal achievement of 2014 was standing, terrified on stage in front of  a live, paying audience performing in the graduation show which was the finale of a ten week beginners Comedy Improv course I took with The Maydays.

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The last time I stood up infront of an audience was at a friends wedding 10 years ago, when I was asked to do a reading. I was hungover and practically crying and could barely read my words, this was luckily interpreted by the other guests as an emotional response to the joining of these two lovely people, it wasn’t, it was pure, 100% fear enhanced by alcohol. So it was a huge breakthrough to stand up in front of people and not cry. It was also immense fun and a great buzz making an audience laugh. The Intermediate course starts in mid January, “run fear, run fast,  I’m coming to get you….”

I would never have contemplated performing in a live comedy show if I was living in a paranoid fugg of alcohol and I would never have afforded three wonderful holidays if I was still spending a huge chunk of my hard earned cash on booze. So, in hindsight, a BIG thank you to that Man – who shall remain forever anonymous – those boots and that avocado, you changed my life.

So here’s to 2015 and all that it brings, more challenges, more comedy, more food, more travel, more writing, more mindfullness, more new experiences, more fabulous new friends, and maybe, just maybe a little lovin’…..?

I think Patsy sums it up for me beautifully, sans vodka of course!

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Please feel free to share, leave any comments or ask any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

I DID IT!

I have just finished the 10 week beginners Comedy Improv course with The Maydays which culminated in our showcase ON STAGE in front of a LIVE AUDIENCE.

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It was the scariest thing I’ve done, and I expected my fear to get the better of me but it didn’t, no emotional meltdown or cock ups on stage, just FUN! FUN! FUN!! and such a buzz to get response from an audience because you have made them laugh.

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If you want to have fun and conquer some of your fears, I can’t recommend it enough…. I’ve signed up for the intermediate course, who’d have thought!!

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We need to talk about Sillicone (and the damage it is doing to your hair)

I am an advocate of using good products for your hair and skin, not necessarily the most expensive products but I do believe you get what you pay for and I strongly believe that a good quality shampoo and conditioner is a real investment for the immediate and long term condition and manageability of your hair.

The purpose of this post is to help explain the the use of silicones in the most popular hair products and the damage they do to your hair. The cheaper products we buy in the supermarket rely heavily on silicones to meet the promises they make on their labelling. Spending a few extra pounds on a well made product can really make a difference, and this article will give you the information you need to be able to make the right choice when buying products for your hair.

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The Best Anti Ageing Solution (*warning* this post contains nudity)

I’ve dabbled with Meditation over the years, but it has seriously been on my radar for around a year.

At Christmas my sister was nipping off every day, twice a day to do her “mindfulness” practice and my friend James found a coping mechanism for his stress levels by “taking 10” everyday with Headspace. These are two important people in my life and I could see changes in them, changes for the better and these changes were coming from their daily dedication to their practice. The positive changes their practice was making were starting to show up, their lives seemed easier, and both of them alot happier.

So I decided to follow in their footsteps and learn more about training my mind. I read Mindfullness by Mark Williams and Danny Penman and I went to see their protegee Ruby Wax touring with her lecture about “how our minds can ruin our sanity” and bought and read her book Sane New World. I Downloaded the Headspace Ap and participated in two , free, 21 day guided meditattions with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey, and I took my hot yoga practice to a more meditative level by cooling and slowing down with regular Yin and Restorative classes.

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Grey Matters

I HAVE GREY HAIR! I HAVE GREY HAIR! I’ve said it! I’m a woman of a certain age and I have grey hair!

Like many of us, my greys are predominantly on my parting and around my hairline. There is no research to support why the greys start appearing at the front, the preference would be for the greying process to start at the back of our necks and for it to slowly work it’s way up and forward but alas mother nature has dealt us a cruel blow by starting our dis-colouration off at the very front of our heads the place where it is most noticeable.

I colour my hair every 6 weeks and by week four of six my roots are starting to shine through, a silvery line along my parting. Luckily I can disguise my parting by wearing my hair up, but I don’t want to wear my hair up constantly and I don’t want to get into the trap of colouring my hair every 4 weeks so I decided to check out three “inbetween” colour products.  All three are designed to do the same thing, temporarily colour your greys inbetween visits by, or to your Hairdresser.  I chose three products in three price brackets, cheap, mid range and ‘how much??!’ Here are my findings….

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