New York, New York

Hello again  🙂

So recently I was lucky enough to go on an incredible trip to New York City. I had been a few years before on my own but hadn’t really seen half of what I wanted to see. This time I wasn’t going on my own so it would be much more special. I also was so excited to be going to the US open tennis for the first time. Before leaving I had received a few recommendations from wonderful collegues/friends.

So the Wednesday evening I was on the plane headed for New York. It was kind of surreal to me that I was fortunate enough to be heading back to this amazing city.

Jetlagged but excited we headed out early in the morning to catch Brooklyn bridge at sunrise. We were still stuck on London time.  We made it to the bridge in perfect time and watched the sun rise over the city. It was a beautiful site to see.

 

I was then in need of coffee and breakfast. We stopped in at a lovely little diner to have some breakfast and then we got on the train to the US Open. My first stop was the shop, as I can never not buy a souvenir. So a few moments spent debating on what to allow myself to buy, we then headed to our seats. We got to see brilliant Roger Federer play and on the other big court spotted Del Potro.

 

That evening we went to a wonderful Italian place called Gelso and Grand in little Italy, where I ate far too much! A wonderful pesto pasta and some calamari. We then headed to a revolving restaurant high up in the Marriott Marquis, near Times Square. It was amazing to sit and have a drink, watching the city revolve by.

On day 2 we headed off after breakfast to the High Line gardens. These are gardens located on an old rail way line. So you are walking through a park but you are overlooking the city.

 

We then took the train to Coney Island.  We tried our luck at winning this big donut cushion. I wasn’t thinking at the time about actually getting it home. Sadly, we didn’t win,so the donut cushion was not meant to be. We had some lunch and enjoyed some time on the beach. Then had a ride on the Ferris wheel which gave a wonderful view.

 

It was then time to head back as we were going to Yankee stadium to watch the Yankees vs Red Sox play some baseball. The atmosphere was loud and brilliant. We stopped off at a lovely pizza place to end off the day.

The next day we went to a wonderful place called Sarabeths for breakfast. The pancakes and a pumpkin waffle were mouth wateringly delicious.

 

After that we spent time walking around central park seeing the John Lennon memorial, the Alice in wonderland statue and the famous bridges which have featured in many films. The bow bridge and the bridge known from the home alone film.

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We stumbled across a couple who had literally just got engaged. The newly engaged lady mentioned that the shirt she was wearing was not her favourite and now it would forever be the one she got in engaged in haha.

 

For lunch we went to a most wonderful place called Ellen’s stardust diner. The waiters all sing!!! It was truly the best thing. They even sing as they are bringing food to the tables or sorting out the bill etc. I loved every minute of it. They have amazing voices. It was like being at the theatre..

 

We then went to the Rockefeller centre to see the view from top of the rock, which was fantastic. Then I couldn’t resist going into the fabulous Christmas shop in times square. I spent some time there just browsing the beautiful Christmas goodies.  In the evening we went Top of the standard. We had wanted to go on the rooftop but it was chucking it down with rain. We sat in their cocktail lounge which was beautiful. The views of the city were just spectacular. Even the bathroom had a view…

 

The next day we went to see ground zero which I found truly moving and took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  We had an early dinner at a wonderful Cuban place called Victors Café. The food was fabulous. Then we saw Cats the musical on Broadway. After Cats I was surprised with drinks at this rooftop bar overlooking the bright lights of Times Square. It was an incredible way to end off the Last evening in the city.

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On the last day we went to the US open tennis again where I got to see my favourite tennis player on court Rafa Nadal. He was on top form!

 

Then It was time to head back to the airport and say goodbye. New York I truly hope to see you again… As the cliched t-shirt goes I heart NYC 🙂

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J’taime Paree

Hello, it’s me again. It’s a gorgeous and sunny day in London as I write this. So for the next installment of the travel diaries, here it goes. At the end of May we spent a weekend in beautiful Paris. I have been fortunate enough to have been to Paris before but hadn’t seen too much of it. The first time I went I ran my first ever full marathon there and the second time was when I stayed one night to see Celine Dion perform there. Also, this time would be different as I wasn’t on my own.

Started the first day off with a fresh croissant and cup of coffee. This was at a café, around the corner from our hotel. The temperature was due to be a scorching 34 degrees.

 

After breakfast, we took a lovely walk alongside the Seine. We arrived at the incredible louvre, to do some exploring. It is such a huge place but amazing to see the Venus di Milo and the famous Mona Lisa. The Italian statues are something else to see as well!

 

We went to a wonderful place called Angelica’s for some tea and cake.. Then we paid a visit to Notre dame which is such a stunning cathedral. As we were walking back we were treated to woman on the street singing opera!

 

Later that evening I was surprised with a wonderful dinner cruise along the seine. The view that you get of Eiffel tower was amazing. It having been such a hot day, loads of people were just sitting alongside the river. To top it off a Celine Dion French song, called amor existe encore, came on as we were eating dinner. It was as if they knew I was on the cruise haha…

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The next morning, we went to a church called Sacre Coeur (The sacred heart of Paris). This is in the montmarte district. On top of the steps here you get a fabulous view if the city of Paris.

 

Near there we found a place called the Hardware Societe for breakfast. This was a little gem of a place. The food, coffee and the feel of the place was brilliant. I highly recommend it.

 

We took a walk to where the famous Moulin rouge is located.  I loved the film so to see the actual place was a real highlight for me. I was waiting for Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor to pop out and sing…

 

Finally it was time to head to Roland Garros for some French open tennis. I had never been before and was super excited! On my bucket list is to visit all four grand slam tennis tournaments. So I’ve now been to Wimbledon and Roland Garros. I am halfway there. After browsing the shop we made our way on Suzanne Lenglen Court for a day of tennis on the clay courts. I loved every minute. It has a completely different atmosphere to Wimbledon. I was hoping for glimpse of Nadal, as he was practicing on one of the courts. The crowd was quite big though so I couldn’t spot him.

 

After a day of sun and tennis we headed back for some dinner. Later that evening we were booked to go to the Lido, the famous French cabaret. I was in awe of how magical it was. They had a woman swallowing swords, loads of dancing, a wonderful French singer and more. There was even this grand sparkly chandelier that came out from the bottom of the stage with dancers on. It was spectacular.

 

Soon we had reached our last day.. We went to the Eiffel tower to get a good view and to be able to get some obligatory tourist pics .

 

Then we headed off to our second day of tennis at Roland Garros. This time we were on the Phillippe-Chatrier court (Their centre court)  Nadal was due to play on the other court . we did get to see some great tennis from Novak Djokovic and a great women’s match between Brady and French hopeful Mladenovic. It was a great fight between the two of them.

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Now after a lovely fun filled weekend in paris, it was time to get the Eurostar back. We never imagined that this would be quite an eventful trip back to London. So two young guys decided they wanted to have a good time on the journey back and bought a few drinks from the bar. They were in the queue in front of me. They seemed to be on a mission. About an hour into the train journey an announcement came over saying that we would be making an unscheduled stop in Calais due to disruptive passengers. I immediately thought its those two guys from the bar as they were giving the staff hassles by going behind the bar etc. So to cut a long story short it was a wait to get them off the train. Then the French border police decided the train wasn’t secure anymore. So we had to disembark and then be rechecked onto the train. This took hours. We were to due to be in London at 21.40 UK time. We ended up finally getting into London at 4am. I got home at 5.45am. I felt so sorry for the young kids. What’s life though, without a few hiccups?

 

I fell in love with Edinburgh…

Hello! So as I’ve explored a couple of wonderful places recently, I thought I would do a little blog post on them. I also will be travelling some more this year, so this won’t be the only one. As you may have read previously, I am currently in a relationship with a lovely man. So for our first ever trip together, we traveled to the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I had heard how amazing Edinburgh was and was not disappointed. Also being the huge Harry Potter fan, the draw of seeing the Harry Potter sights was truly special for me.

 

We stayed in a hotel just near the Royal Mile. We flew out late on the Friday morning. When we landed it was all lovely and sunny. I was expecting clouds and pouring rain! We checked into to our hotel and then decided to do a open top bus tour, to get a glimpse of the sights. We braved it on upper level of the open top bus for as long as we could, but it soon became cold, even with the sun.

 

That evening we went a wonderful place for dinner called Michael Neave’s kitchen and Whisky Bar. There I had a taste of whiskey. I had only ever tried a sip before when I was younger. I thought though while in Scotland, I should give some a try.  We tried two different ones with hints of toffee and cinnamon and a delicate apple/pear flavour. I enjoyed mine so much, I had a second one haha! Now onto the food… I had a lobster and crab ravioli which was amazing. For dessert I had a sticky toffee souffle with salted caramel sauce and lemon shortbread. I was literally in food heaven.

 

 

The next morning, we took a nice walk and found the Elephant House to have some breakfast. Now for all Harry Potter fans, this is where Jo spent time writing the harry potter books. I was a little enthusiastic at being in the same café, where Jo wrote some of her amazing books. The breakfast and coffee was scrumptious! The café is also decorated with pictures of elephants. Over all the ambiance, food, coffee and service I highly recommend. It had a lovely feel to the café.

 

 

We then went to a place called Camera Obscura. Its basically a world of Illusions! All the different exhibits were really fascinating and fun! The vortex tunnel though which made me feel like I was moving sideways, did make me feel a bit queasy though.

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We then made our way to Edinburgh zoo which was truly a highlight. We saw the tiger up close and personal. When we first arrived we were told that the pandas were out much to my delight. Also got to see some very sleepy koala bears. Finally, we got our turn in the panda enclosure though it was just Yang Guang(which means sunshine) who put on a show for us. He apparently is a little less clean than Tian Tian is, we were told by the zoo staff. Tian Tian (which means sweetie) was hiding in her little home. What incredible creatures they are.

 

 

After that we had a lovely Italian dinner and on our walk back, we discovered the roads were closed off. This was due to some filming. Obviously, me being a huge film fan, I was desperate to know who was there and what was being filmed. Turns out it was the new avengers film being done there. Sadly, me being a short arse , I wasn’t able to spot anyone. It would have been lovely to spot Robert Downey(Iron man) or Chris Hemsworth(Thor) perhaps. It was fun to see though how they do the filming with all the lighting etc.

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On Sunday it was time to explore the Edinburgh Castle which was amazing. It is quite a fortress. The views from up there are fantastic.

 

We did some more walking and then found the other café where JK Rowling used to hang out called Spoon. Also a wonderful café. Loved the décor. We were there for an early lunch/;ate brunch. I went for some French toast.

 

Then it was time to start heading home. However not before I spotted two Christmas shops along the way which I had to go into. the tiny thing of it being only March wasn’t going to stop me from going in. I love Christmas! So that was Edinburgh and I look forward to a return visit.

To Tash on your 33rd Birhday

To Tash on your 33rd birthday

 

So another year has gone by. Time seems to be racing away. I feel like I’ve barely blinked and I’m a year older. Edging ever closer to the big four-O! Age they say is just a number baby and I don’t plan on letting it stop me. It seems to be this time of year that I always berate myself for not being any further than I was the year before. I begin to feel like a failure. Perhaps I haven’t done everything I set out to do does that mean I’ve failed at life? 

 

Instead I’m going to reflect over the past year and the good things that have happened. 

 

Over the past year there have been some very special memories which I will always hold close to my heart. 

 

In February I got to see my gorgeous friend marry her wonderful hubby. The ceremony took place under the blue African skies, deep in the heart of bush. It was such a gorgeous lodge in South Africa, where the wedding took place. You know you are in the African Bush when you see zebra roaming around the lodge and in the early hours you could hear the roar of a lion in the distance. It was a truly incredible weekend, which I will never forget. It made my heart burst to see my friend find her happiness and to share in their special day. 

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While I was home I also got to see my beautiful friend and her group called MitzyGeorge launch their single called I am home. MitzyGeorge is a country girl group consisting of 3 extremely talented ladies. They are truly mesmerising on stage. Definitely check out their music. There is something so special and surreal about seeing one of your dearest friends performing on stage, doing what they are passionate about. Such a overwhelming sense of pride I felt. I got some quality time with my friend and her wonderful family too and I will always hold those memories dear. 

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Time also spent with my mom and family which was wonderful when I was home. I was able to give my dad a hug on his 70th birthday. I was so happy it worked out I could be there. We got to share at dance too at the Italian club. Some truly special times. 

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Another significant thing that has happened is that I’ve met a lovely man, with a very kind and gentle heart. He makes me feel beautiful and cherished. With him I can be completely myself. This is something I’ve never had before or felt I was really deserving of.

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Over the past few months there have been some wonderful moments we’ve shared. Including a first trip to the amazing city of Edinburgh and my first ever time at Roland Garros for the French open tennis. 

 

So I have a lot of things running through my head that I would like to achieve. In general I am quite a patient person but when it comes to things I want though, I want it all to happen right now.So for the year ahead I will try to give myself one big thing to try work towards. I will be a bit easier on myself and not have a list of 10 huge things to achieve within a year. Maybe that way it won’t be so overwhelming and I won’t set myself up for a fall so to speak.

 

Also I want to try not let the inner critic in me drown out every other voice. When I look at the person in the mirror staring back at me, I want to believe that they are worth something. I want to try be a better version of myself, and stay motivated. As they say you need to make your own magic. No one is going to write the book for me. I’m the author of my own story and I need to tell it. So for this year my goal is to finish or get a huge majority of that novel done. So go out and give it all you got! The only one stopping you is yourself. 

 

I know the world seems to be in despair at the moment with all that is going on. Watching the news these days is depressing. It’s so hard to keep positive and believe at times that it will get better. Being right near the area where the recent terrorist attack in London took place, it does shake your perspective up. It makes you realise what a precious gift life is. Every moment is a treasure and we need to make the most of it. Hug loved ones tighter and truly be grateful for them. I want to try not let these things crush my spirit or stop my love for life. Maybe my heart is naive in believing there is still goodness in the world but I can’t let the world change who I am. Our mind is a powerful thing. So I am going to try laugh more, worry less about the little things & stuff I can’t control(I mean worrying means you truly do suffer twice) and be less harsh on myself. I’m going make the most of times spent with loved ones. I won’t take them for granted. 

 

Here is to bring 33 and not letting go of those dreams. Here is to my 34th year ahead..

 

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I’m going to make lemonade if the months ahead decide to give me lemons. Cheesy I know but right now maybe a bit of cheese is just what’s needed. 🙂 

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This week has left my heart heavy

 

This week has made my heart very heavy. It started off with the shooting of a very talented singer Christina Gimme being shot as she was signing autographs at a gig in Orlando. She was only 22 years old. Then two days later a mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando, where at least 50 people were killed.

As if that wasn’t enough violence then football fans from Russia and England clashed. This overshadowing the Euro 2016 football tournament which is about standing behind your country and cheering for your team.  Where is the love of the game?

The awful and sad weeks events weren’t too end there as on Thursday English MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in broad daylight. She was 41 years old and a mother of 2. Their lives irrecoverably changed forever. She was just trying to do good for her community and fellow man. The 57 year old man allegedly saying he was fighting for freedom for Britain? What? How is their Mothers death going to be explained to their kids. She had been MP for less than a year. This violence just so uncessary. What a awful waste of innocent lives.

I just cannot comprehend where all this hatred comes from. I just don’t understand where the humanity has gone. To be honest I don’t enjoy always watching the news as it is extremely depressing. However when horrific events happen like this, there is no way of getting away from them.

Also back home the sentencing for Oscar Pistorious is going on. A tragic set of events for both families. Showing yet again the danger of guns and the damage they can cause.

However I believe deep down there is far more love in this world. When things like this happen it makes you realise how things can change in an instant. Life is a most precious gift and we need to make the most of every moment. Make sure the people in your life know how much you love them. Hold them a little closer and cherish that moment. The love in this world is much stronger than hate. I truly hope that the world can get to a peaceful place where a person is free to be who they are and love who they love, without any judgement or shame. Where religion or political views aren’t used as an excuse for hate or actions.

In weeks like this I appreciate my friends and family more than ever and am beyond grateful to have them in my life. It makes my sad heart much lighter knowing they are there. My heart bursts with love for them.

This quote by Nelson Mandela I believe is extremely appropriate:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

In the face of these horrific events, I hope the people affected find comfort in support and love from people around them and that they are able to find healing in time. My thoughts and prayers are with all the loved ones of the victims. 

 

 

A little thank you to London

5 Years ago today I said an extremely tough goodbye to my family at the airport and boarded a plane to London. I had nothing but my suitcase, ÂŁ1000 to my name which I had saved; and a desire to better my life and make my dreams come true. Thanks to the generosity of my cousin and his wife, who kindly let me stay with them for a couple months while I got on my feet in a new country, I had a lucky start.

There have been extremely tough moments when I’m missing my family and friends so much and the impulse to pack everything up and return home to South Africa overwhelms me. Many nights I have cried myself to sleep due to loneliness engulfing me and frustration at myself at not being further in life than I want to be at my age.

There is a huge amount that I am thankful to London for. One of the biggest things it has given me is self-sufficiency. I am able to do things for myself and make my own decisions and this has given me a great sense of independence. I now have the courage to go out there and make my dreams come true and to take opportunities when they come. I’ve always been more introverted than outgoing but since I’ve moved to London I have found I have gained a bit more confidence. I am able to have a conversation with someone I haven’t met. I normally wouldn’t have had the confidence to even think of doing that. I am also so thankful for the wonderful friends I have made since being in London. You know who you are and I love you all so much.

Also since moving to London I have become slightly better at cooking, as I no longer have Mom’s home cooked meals. I find I can now actually make edible meals hurrah! I even bake cupcakes which don’t come out too badly. So I’m very pleased that I am not a complete disaster in the kitchen now.

Since moving I’ve had two huge dreams come true. I took myself to New York and Las Vegas to see Celine Dion’s show. I had always dreamed of seeing the sights of New York for real, not just from films and TV. I had also always wished to see Celine’s show in Las Vegas. Celine having been my favourite singer, since I was little. So off I went all on my own (I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do that) I wondered around New York taking in the sights, saw my lovely friend Lindsay who I met online and still thought it was so surreal that I was actually there. Then I flew to Vegas and stayed in the very Pink Flamingo hotel. I took a day tour out to the Grand Canyon which was incredible.

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I was on a plane and coach with one British couple and a Japanese tour group. Then it was the night of Celine’s show. I donned my sparkly green dress. Took myself off to Spago for dinner and then it was time. I was third row from the front. A video about Celine started playing and then the curtains opened and there Celine was. I could see her so clearly.

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I held back the tears as the enormity of that I somehow had made this happen for myself washed over me. I never thought I would ever get it right and here I was in Vegas and New York. Then I went to Celine’s show again on another night(I wasn’t going to go all the way to Vegas just to see it once!) and I ran into my lovely friends Cheryl and Curtis, which was a lovely surprise. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone in Vegas.

The second dream I had come true was meeting my favourite author Marian Keyes. This was something I never thought would happen and I am beyond grateful it did. Marian not only gives so much joy through her writing and twitter but truly has one of the most giving and kindest hearts. Marian gives her time generously to all the people coming to see her. Her humility, kindness and honesty are truly inspiring. These memories I cherish forever. I think over that memory of taking a trip to beautiful Althorp house to meet Marian for the first time, with great fondness. Marian instantly makes you feel at ease and you can completely just be yourself. Marian has certainly brightened up many a sad or bad day for me.

 

Another surreal experience was attending a taping of Celine’s performance for X Factor UK. I again donned my sparkly dress and excitedly took my seat. In my defense they had said dress in something sparkly! The green dress was the sparkliest thing I owned haha! The stage manager came on before it all properly started and was chatting to the audience. Then he noticed my green dress and got me to come down on stage and do an Irish dance. I duly went and did an Irish dance. He had thought I was wearing the dress for Louis the judge who is from Dublin. It was great fun and the Tash before London, would never have done that in a million years!

The other thing I feel quite proud of is completing my first ever marathon in Paris last year. A few years ago the thought of even entering a marathon, wouldn’t have crossed my mind; never mind actually completing one. Now I’m training for my second marathon in Edinburgh and my 3rd in Berlin. We will see how that goes! I might be just a bit too ambitious there but I will be running for the lovely Starlight Children’s foundation UK, who I work for. So it will be for a worthy cause.

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Some of my other highlights are my trips to Ireland, still one of my most favorite countries. My trips to Belgium, Prague for the Christmas markets which was beautiful and France.

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I also can’t get enough of the wonderful west end shows over here. I’ve seen some incredible ones since I moved to London. Some of the ones that stand out for me are Matilda, Wicked, the curious incident of the dog in the night, Billy Elliott and of course Les Miserables.

So London a huge thank you! I owe you so much and am grateful as you have been good to me. I am sure there will be more ups and downs to come but I will find the strength to make it through. Here is to more incredible trips, experiences and dreams coming true.

One last special thank you to my best friend Kelly. You are my sister forever and always and I’m so grateful for you. I wouldn’t have made it through this long without you here in London. I love you millions my friend.

Happy 5 years London 🙂