104 Days

it's the weekend!

it’s the weekend!

I have just had my birthday and along with many others I find myself repeatedly saying “Isn’t time flying?”, “Gosh! How quickly this year is going by; it is almost August already!” and the quizzical “Where is the time going?”

Where is the time going?

So where is it going? Well first off, I spend 10 hours at work a day. Fortunately for me, I work from home, so don’t have the dreaded commute. But I do travel for work and so am often away during the week, or late home in the evenings. Those evenings at home are spent cooking, tidying, doing laundry, packing for the next trip. Just running round like a headless chicken! This is swiftly followed by flopping on the sofa and doing an impression of vegetating in front of the tele, but actually I am trying desperately not to think of the work to-do list for tomorrow. So in the week, there isn’t much time for me…..

recurrent weekly cycle

This recurrent weekly cycle is so familiar – it could be performed in a daze. Often it probably is! The stimuli are the same. The outcomes are the same. And so the days start to blend into one. Sure, there are excitements and things to learn at work….

But when I look back, it is the things I do for me that are my milestones: the spa day with my mum and sister; that hen weekend at Butlins Bognor Regis; the trip to the theatre and sitting in the Gods; the rugby league Challenge Cup finals; the basketball at the Olympics last year and this list goes on….. What is important, really, is the time I spend away from work with my family and friends.

treasure chest of amazing memories

So thank goodness for …..the Weekend! That time when you can get to do fun things. When you can, metaphorically, let your hair down and let the real YOU emerge. The weekend is precious. We have 104 days each year which we can use for adding to our “amazing memories” treasure chest. There are so many possibilities of new things to try, or learn, or practice, or see.

the weekend = 104 days 

Let’s get out there and make those 104 days count!

Free your 104 Days!

Free your 104 Days!

 

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10 must-have accessories for the single female traveler

My must-have essentials

My must-have accessories

I love travelling, and I have often traveled on my own. I have done city breaks, cross-country tours and inter-continental trips. Along the way I have discovered my must-have accessories. These now accompany me on every trip helping to reduce the hassles and niggles which could turn a great experience into something much less pleasurable.

So apart from the obvious (camera, guidebook, etc) my Top 10 accessories are:

1. The wedding ring – whether you are married or not, this is my must have accessory for the female traveller, but especially if you are travelling alone. In my single days, this tiny band of gold on my left hand, proved especially useful at warding off unwanted attention. My “pretend” husband was always off at business meetings whilst I was busy sightseeing or shopping. But he was a true gent, that “pretend” husband of mine, and was always meeting me for lunch or drinks after work. And now I am married at least I can put a face and personality to the man behind the band of (white) gold.

2. Dark sunglasses – not just for the summer sun, but a must for wandering through the souks or markets. Perfect for soaking up the atmosphere and hustle and bustle so that you can browse from a distance without getting accosted and cajoled to look at wares which don’t interest you.

3. The versatile pashmina – as well as being perfect around the shoulders for those cooler evenings supping sundowners on the beach it can be so much more: the comforting blanket on the airplane; the ultimate coverall for visiting key attractions with a strict dress-code of covered shoulders; a replacement sarong and a pretty scarf if you happen to passing through cooler climes.

4. The cross-over handbag – ever since I found this type of bag I have not looked back. I am no longer constantly readjusting my handbag strap on my shoulder, trying to prevent it slipping off. Or worse have it slip off just as I am trying to take that once in a lifetime photograph, jolting the camera and all I have to remember that moment is a lovely picture of the pavement or sky! Now I have both hands free and I know my bag is much more secure. My favourite bag has many zipped pockets and I can easily access the water, guidebook and camera, but my money, passport and phone are squirreled away on the inside making it very difficult for any would-be pick-pocket.

Look carefully and you will see the strap of he bag...the sunglasses are in my hand!

Look carefully and you will see the strap of he bag…the sunglasses are in my hand!

5. A great pair of walking sandals, (even better if you can find a pair that are “pretty”) – enough said!

6. But just in case…then blister plasters are my next must-have item!

7. Sun cream – it isn’t much fun having sunburn! The little handbag-sized bottles are just perfect for when you are out about town. Keep that bigger bottle for the hotel.

8. Little bottle of hand disinfectant. An absolute necessity after visiting the facilities and before eating anything. The last thing you want is to pick up a bug on your travels.

9. Imodium – because in variably that dodgy tum will catch up with you at some point.

10. Refreshing wipes/deodorant – because it is nice to feel human after a long flight or if you haven’t quite got enough time between the sightseeing and those pre-dinner drinks!

Happy travels!! Would love to learn your must have accessories.

Again, you can spot the sunglasses on my head, the pashmina on the shoulders and the strap of the bag is clearly evident too!

Again, you can spot the sunglasses on my head, the pashmina on the shoulders and the strap of the bag is clearly evident too!

A hiking tour with a difference – Mountains and Vistas Culinary Trail Flims

Hot summer Sundays are made for lazing and relaxing on the balcony watching the birds expend a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy as they swoop and glide in search of tasty morsels. Three years ago on a similarly hot and sunny weekend in the Swiss Alps I too was in search of tasty morsels to sustain my valiant efforts of walking from Falera to Foppa, a beautiful hike of some 15 km. Thankfully someone had solved the problem for me. Plus there was the added benefit of celebrating my husband’s birthday having a dinner date with a difference.

Breathtaking scenery in Flims

Breathtaking scenery in Flims

This was no ordinary hike and no ordinary dinner date. The “mountains and vistas” culinary trail in Flims-Laax is a wonderful experience combining two of my favourite pastimes, walking and eating. What could be better than beautiful scenery, fresh air, exercise, scrumptious wholesome food and fabulous company? In the 7 hours or so it took to complete our hike, we enjoyed a delicious 5 course gourmet meal with a difference.

Enjoying an apero at the start of the hike

Enjoying an apero at the start of the hike

The day started early with a celebratory birthday apero in Falera before we began the hike in earnest. Enjoying the breathtaking scenery and ascents alike! Each course of our gourmet meal was at a different mountain restaurant. So we had plenty of time to work up an appetite for the next course. And just when we needed it around the corner was the next mountain hut offering not only superbly tasting food but also a welcome sit down. The 5 mountain restaurant we visited had their own charm and style and together they served us the most delightful and unique experience.

Even our four-legged friends are well looked after on the mountain

Even our four legged friends are well looked after on the mountain

I have since found on the Flims website a new culinary trail, “woods and water” and I think that might be on the menu for later this summer!
Further details can be found on the Flims website: http://www.flims.com/en/activities/wandern/culinary-trail/mountain-view/
http://www.flims.com/en/activities/wandern/culinary-trail/woods-water/

Simply awesome scenery

Simply awesome scenery

Making that work trip more of a pleasure

Travelling for work can be a double-edged sword. You may get to visit some amazing countries and cities but you are expected to work hard whilst you are away from the office. It is way too easy to get into the habit of saying “Well what else am I going to do? I may as well just keep on working on those e-mails/quotes/meeting reports.” This can be a very dangerous thing to do. As I can guarantee you will return back home tired and weary. And worst of all those emails/quotes/reports will probably still be there. Remember that old adage “A task will always fill the time available”? Well that is exactly what happens here.

So over the years I have developed a strategy of building in “me time” into those busy work days on the road. First up, I always try to get up early, have a really leisurely breakfast, reading the news or better yet a novel (I purposefully avoid eating brekkie with my colleagues – as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am just not a conversationalist first thing in the morning!). Next up, work hard during the day and get back to the hotel room in the evening ready to hit….not the gym (as I hate feeling like a hamster on a wheel) but the local park or just a walk round the block. The important thing is to get some fresh air, to stretch the legs and to just feel the weight fall off the shoulders. I use this time to reflect on the day and to plan my next steps. I find these moments away from the laptop (and the Blackberry, which is purposefully left behind) allow me to find some clarity and to really plan an efficient approach to the rest of the evening. After dinner I can then crack on and accomplish what I need to in a fraction of the time, it used to take me.

Marvelous fish dish @ Under the Red Hog http://tinyurl.com/mf82m74

Marvelous fish dish @ Under the Red Hog http://tinyurl.com/mf82m74

Sometimes when I am away for a few days at a time, I actually take one night off, shock horror, and do no work. It is amazing to just take some time for myself. To go out for dinner, enjoy a glass of wine, a nice dessert. Eating out on your own can be an interesting experience, but if you have your book in hand, no-one will bat an eyelid (and think you have been stood-up). The book is a great decoy and restaurants are great places for a spot of people watching – another favourite pastime of mine. Plus if you are brave heading out of the hotel and going into town to a restaurant at least allows you to see something of the city you are visiting, and maybe even sample some local cuisine.

Absolutely Delicious Polish Cheesecake @ Under The Red Hog, Warsaw http://tinyurl.com/mf82m74

Absolutely Delicious Polish Cheesecake @ Under The Red Hog, Warsaw http://tinyurl.com/mf82m74

The other thing I try to do when I am visiting a new city is make some time to actually see more than my hotel, the client site and the airport. This can require some ingenious time management (otherwise known as very early mornings) but it can be done. In my last trip to Warsaw two weeks ago I got up early and was out sightseeing before 7am. I enjoyed wandering around as the city woke up and the businesses started to open up. I was able to navigate round the city on a mix of my own two feet, trams and buses and returned back at my hotel ready for the work day to start at 9 am. Obviously this required some planning the night before but at least I managed to see some of this amazing city which throughout history just can’t be kept down. It rises like phoenix in the face of adversity. The old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, completely rebuilt after WWII, has a magical feel, perfectly complemented by the new town with its wider boulevards and modern shopping area. I may have only been there for 2 nights but by eating out both nights, getting up early and exploring I felt I had actually “been to and seen” Warsaw. I worked hard in the two days, was efficient with the work in the evenings but I returned home fresh and invigorated. Not grumpy and shattered.

Travelling for work can really be a pleasure. You just need to work out what you can do to put the spark into it for you!

Warsaw Old Town Square

Warsaw Old Town Square