Monday, February 28, 2011

January progress

Just got back from a weekend down in Seattle. I was excited to catch up with Tess – my bff from Cyprus days. It’s been over 7 years since I left the island but we’ve been so lucky over the years to catch up from time to time. Funnily enough though, each of those 3 times has been a meeting in a country that neither of us live in! So great to have dinner with her, and her daughter & son-in-law on Friday night and then a bonus meeting in the mall the next day for lunch. Loved seeing you Tess.xx

Kerry, Tess & Helen

So already it’s the end of February eh?! My 2011 manifesto has been moving nicely along. January I ‘ticked’ off 5 items;
  • We went outdoor ice-skating (#21) up at Big White ski resort.
  • We painted a wall (#3) in our bedroom which is just the first step in a bit of a re-vamp/personalization from the orignal and unimaginative natural tan the house was painted in - we used the Behr 'Wine Frost' - I think it looks great, though way more purple in real life than I was expecting!
  • I finally made a piece of wall art (#7) that’s been on my mind to do for the longest time. I printed the phrase 'home is where the heart is' repeated over for the background then cut an outline shape of BC with my Silhouette machine and mounted it with foam squares. Then I cut out a little heart and placed it approx where our home town is with some more foam sqaures. It was so simple to do and I'm really pleased with how it turned out; we now have it hung in our entranceway.
  • I tweaked the design of my business cards (#18) just a little more and finally sent them off to the printers. Loved how they turned out and upon delivery I felt justified in ticking that one off my list too!
  • And finally for January we tried out a new restaurant (#26). I knew this was going to be a pretty easy item on the list – we love eating out, but I had in mind a few places in town I wanted to try out. Mimi’s Italian is just one of them! (I can see us succeeding in this task a few times over during the course of the year!)

I also did a great job of keeping up with a gratitude journal for the fist month and I tried and tested 3 new recipes already so good progress towards a couple of the annual goals.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jamaica mon!

Got back last weekend from our awesome week in Jamaica. It really felt like a really welcome break for us, escaping the winter weather for a glorious week of sunshine, rum, over-eating, sunburn, rum, warm waters.....ah...bliss! Did I mention the rum?!

We stayed about 35km out of Montego Bay on the north shore of the island. In a large *all-inclusive* resort. There I said it. Yes, all-inclusive. Really not my thing - the whole package holiday thing, but this time the stars really were aligning themselves to point us in this direction. We've had an interesting couple of months over this winter - waaay too many discussions at home revolving around work (or lack of it) and so many uncertainties to face up to. We wanted an zero effort, lazy holiday - I didn't even bother buying a guidebook! (ok so I DID borrow one from the library!) We had no aspirations to explore and travel around much like we would normally and there was also an element of 'we're too old for this shit' when it comes to backpacking and living out of scuzzball cheap rooms. Don't get me wrong - the classic scuzzball room, aka Casa Wretched (Zihautanejo, Mexico) and Turdapec (also Mexico and seriously I mentally blocked it's real name) and the various others served us well at the time. But for this vacation I wanted some indulgent 5 star luxury and ain't afraid to admit it!

Oh yeah baby! I did not know that rum could be served in so many guises. It seemed a trifle boring to order a 'rum & coke' when it could be a punch, a daiquiri, a Bob Marley, pina colada, mojito and coutless others. If one didn't work, move onto the next! Same with restaurants. We had 10 to choose from. Pools - there were 5 of those and 3 different beaches too! Our 1 bed suite had 2 TV's (which I think only got turned on once - I found Glee!! - couldn't miss Glee!). As large hotels go I can't complain and we certainly got our 'luxury'.
We couldn't give up our independace entirely though. We rented a car for the week so we could head off on our own to explore a couple of spots. We'd already looked into a couple of the popular tours and price-wise the car was as cheap with the added bonus of being able to stop as and when. Perfect!

We followed the masses to Dunnes River Falls on one day. The thing is with these 'tacky tourist traps' - they got that way for a reason right? It's still a beatiful place. Lush green forest all around and the most beautiful cascading falls that just go on and on until they spill out into the warm Carribbean sea. I really didn't think it was all that busy either. We climbed the falls ourselves and on several occasions we found ourselves the only ones in sight so we still had the sense of 'just us'. These days they scrape the rocks to prevent them from getting too slippy. We still found a couple of spots that they'd missed though - heck it would be lethal otherwise! You have to wonder when Jamaica will get up to speed with the health and safety regulations and ban climbing of the falls altogther!
We also visited the Appleton Rum Estate who have been distilling rum since the 1700's. What was great about the visit there though was the 3 hour drive to get there - through the hills that they call cockpit country. There were no grand vistas (so no photos to share) as the forests were just so dense with little tiny villages appearing out of nowhere and crumbling roads and their own special breed of kamikaze minibus drivers (we may also have got slightly lost due to the lack of road signs)
PhotobucketThe Rum estate itself had a great tour, followed by a complimentary unlimited rum tasting session from their 13 different brands (it was about now that the coin was tossed as to who was driving home!)
The car also came in handy for a couple of sunset sessions on the far west of the island in Negril. We found a great cliffside pub with Jamaican Jerk chicken to die for (and maybe a rum cocktail or two to wash it down with) A great place to people watch at dusk and a funky little town to boot (if we were to go back to Jamaica it would be Negril we would head for!)
We also spent a morning diving. The water was gloriously warm and calm, we had an awesome dive master and had an enormous dive boat to just 3 of us! Relaxed and so, so enjoyable for me.
(Chris getting a beachside mini massage!)

Overall we had an awesome week - one of those weeks that you're just so enormously grateful for. It was everything we wanted this time and I've come home truly refreshed. I love Jamaica and would happily go back. The food, the people, the dancing, the rum....oh my!

I have to say though. Fun as it was all-inclusives are a frightening breed. Large, character-less, bland and terribly, terribly wasteful. And FULL of loud drunken people! (and for once they weren't even English!!) I enjoyed myself for a week this time but I still love our usual independent way of travelling - if we go back to that though I just need to convince Chris to take me to classier joints where I get a toilet seat and I'm only sharing my bed with him (and not an army of ants!)
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