Thai Tales

Thai Tales

Happy New Year!!

I’m back from Thailand! I’ve been back a few weeks now but I got sidetracked with work,  writing about it (more of a novella then a novel), my business, AND planning my new holiday to France in March. SO! I haven’t had time to update you on the goings-on’s til now.

Thailand was wonderful. It was kind of what I expected but better in a lot of ways. I was pleasantly surprised with the variety and the standard of restaurants, hotels and spa’s. The food in Samui was amazing, and we went to some of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to for next to nothing. The weather was rainy for the first few days but other then a few sporadic showers it stayed sunny and dry for the rest of the holiday. The Thai people were the perfect hosts and were warm, aswell as friendly. There was lots to explore and lots of activities to do that it was almost impossible to be bored there.

On Josh’s Birthday I had booked a boat trip around the islands which was postponed until Christmas Day due to bad weather so we actually spent Christmas Day on a yacht sailing around Angthong Marine Park and it was completely glorious.

We visited Numuang Waterfalls, which we had to do a bit of hiking to get to, but it was well worth it to see how beautiful and powerful it was.

We saw 3 Muay Thai fights FOR FREE, visited the Big Buddah statue and even saw some elephants, though we didn’t ride them!

We visited Fisherman’s Village, for their infamous Friday night market, which was a pedestrianized market with stalls selling everything from arts and crafts, to clothes, toys and jewellery, a lot of which were handmade. Fisherman’s Village also had bars, restaurants and had access to the beach where they would have entertainers performing every evening.

As for restaurants, we found many of good ilk, including Barracuda, Jahn at the Conrad Hilton (where we spent NYE), The Dining Room at Rocky’s Boutique Resort (ignore the name, this restaurant was  utterly romantic and done some really good food), Dr Frog’s (and Italian restaurant with amazing panoramic views), Rock Pool at Kanda Residences in Bophut and Rock Salt in Lamai, not to mention the Sunday Brunch at Beach Republic which offered a huge variety of really tasty food including their exceptionally good crepes (I had their caramel, banana, and coconut flakes crepes and yes, they were as good as they sound!)

Jahn

Rock Pool

Beach Republic

Coconut, Caramel & Banana Crepes

Though 9 Gems was very stylish, it was a disappointment in terms of atmosphere and food. I wouldn’t return.

We also visited Tamarind Springs, a unique and very magical forest spa. A truly gorgeous place and VERY peaceful!

ALAS, they did seem to have a distinctive problem with STRAY DOGS in Thailand. Dogs seemed to be all over the place, itching their flea bitten bodies, rifling through bins searching for food, fighting, you name it. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience I can tell you.

Advertisements
See you next year!

See you next year!

 

This will be the last time you hear from me this year as in two days time I will be flying off to sunny Thailand for 2 weeks!

It’s been a great year for me, and even better for my brand The Secret Scent Societe’ which has grown from strength to strength. I’ve become a lot more relaxed in my approach to business which I feel has helped me become a better business women. I’ve also taken more risks this year with regards to sending off my products to bloggers to have them reviewed (which I wasn’t all that keen on doing previously) and finally getting a professional photographer to photograph my products.

I’ve also introduced some new products this year which have had a really good response from my customers: Wood Wick Candles, Bespoke Reed Diffusers, Hair Perfume and my very first Eau de Parfum “First Love”.

Next year I hope to create more Perfumes, perhaps a Massage Candle, Bath Bombs, and lots more! Tis all very exciting.

I wish you all the very best of festive holidays, with lots of good food, laughter and quality time spent with the ones you love. I will be thinking of you whilst I’m luxuriating myself on Lamai Beach with a glass of French 75.

So, until 2016:

Bon Voyage!

 

Going down to Smiley Town

Going down to Smiley Town

The nickname for Thailand is “The land of the smiley people” and in precisely 2 weeks time I will be smiling along with them as I’m off to Thailand! (yay me!)

Not only will it be my first time away from home at Christmas time, but it will also be my first time away with Ian at Christmas and both of our first times visiting Thailand.  So, plenty of firsts!

Apart from sampling all of the lovely food on offer (I LOVE Thai food), I also want to see some of the famous Buddhist temples, and I’d love to see some wildlife (though I’m not sure that I agree with elephant trekking or watching monkey entertainment shows) –  I’d much rather see animals in their natural habitat. And let us not forget the multitude of beautiful beaches of which Koh Samui, the part of Thailand that I’m visiting has an abundance of.

Anthong Marine Park, which has been featured in Hollywood films such as Leonardo De Caprio’s The Beach is spectacularly beautiful and offers a variety of activities on it’s surrounding islands such as kayaking, scuba diving and kayaking.  

As we’ll be celebrating Ian’s birthday whilst we’re in Thailand, I have booked an allday boat trip to Anthong Park which he doesn’t know about yet. I’m excited because I’ve a pretty good idea that a) he’s not expecting it and b) he’ll love it. So I’m content.

I have no idea how they commemorate Christmas in Thailand but I’m sure it’s not going to be anything like in England so I’m just going to go with it and see what happens.

Romantic restaurants in Koh Samui

Romantic restaurants in Koh Samui

As our holiday to Thailand approaches (can you believe it’s coming up to 2 months before Christmas?!), I have been looking for places to go whilst I’m there. I have particularly looked for restaurants, as as you know, I am a lover of good food and beautiful surroundings and I came across these:

Tree Tops Sky Dining at Anantara Lawana

Intimate and private restaurant located in the tree tops.

Dining on the Hill at Six Senses Hotel & Spa

Dining on the rocks.

Dining on the Rocks at Six Senses Hotel & Spa

9Gems Lounge & Restaurant

Dinner in the Sea at Chaweng Regent Beach Resort

A private dinner table suspended in the sea by ropes attached to the shore. Wonderfully romantic.

Barracuda Restaurant

All these restaurants are located in Koh Samui ,so I will definitely try to go to at least 2 or 3 of them. I also came across this intriguing looking place which is located in Puglia in Italy and should I ever go there will be making a beeline for:

Grotta Palazzese

Beautiful huh?

If you know of any other unique and romantic restaurants in Koh Samui that you think I should check out then let me know!

I’ve made a boo-boo!

I’ve made a boo-boo!

 

So, last week we booked our holiday to Sri Lanka. Originally we had planned to go to Thailand for Ian’s birthday in December, Christmas and New Years Eve but in light of the recent terror attacks in Bangkok we decided to put it on hold as neither of us wished to get blown up on holiday. It seems as though the situation in Thailand is quite unstable at the moment and nobody really seems to knows who the terrorists are actually targeting (or indeed who they even are).

We thought that Sri Lanka would be a good choice not only because of it’s relatively stable political situation but as it’s located in the Indian Ocean the beaches were beautiful and reasonably unspoilt. Also, Sri Lanka has a number of national parks, Buddhist temples, rainforests and an abundance of coral reefs, rare wildlife, safari’s and perfect conditions for water sports and whale and dolphin spotting. Not all destinations in the world offer this much beauty and diversity so it was with much excitement and anticipation that we began planning our holidays there.

Even though Sri Lanka is a small country it still manages to pack quite a lot into it so it was really hard to choose where on the island to go. We had decided that it was very important to us to be on one of the best beaches – one where the sea had perfect swimming and scuba diving conditions, where it wasn’t too rocky and where the sand was soft and bleached white. Eventually we found such a place on the north east side of the island in Nilaveli. The boutique hotel looked amazing and it was located on one of the best and most secluded parts of the beach though it was quite a way away from the only airport on the island Columbo (a 5 hour drive). Nontheless I was willing to make the trip in order to stay there, so we booked a 16 night break there and began researching what we’d do once we got there.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to find out that there was a potential nightmare on the horizon..

The north east of Sri Lanka (in contrast to the south of the island) are in there monsoon season in December through to February and it was more then likely that it would be raining everyday there aswell as being very windy and downright miserable. There was no way that we could stomach the idea of escaping England which is mostly always raining and cold to go to a country with rain and flash floods. No Chance.

But our booking once we checked it said in no uncertain terms that they did not allow any cancellations, amendments or refunds.

We had been done up like a kipper. 

The level to my anger with myself mainly (for I did not check the monsoon schedule in Sri Lanka before I’d booked), and the frustration that there was absolutely nothing we could do about it now was intense. I felt as though I could scream. I really could not believe something as basic as weather (which was the main reason that we escape London so frequently) had not  been researched properly before we’d booked and I started having visions of us sitting in our fineries at an elaborate meal put on for us by the hotel in Sri Lanka on New Years Eve with dark skies, the wind howling and torrential rain pouring down our faces. I was so disturbed by these images that I had nightmares that night.

Alas, I refused to be beat.

Though it was made abundantly clear by Expedia (who we booked the holiday through), that there would be absolutely no cancellations or amendments to the booking I knew that I just had to try and persuade them to reconsider.  I considered all of the excuses that I might come up with to plead my case but I decided that my first port of call would be the hotel in Sri Lanka. I figured I’d call them directly and confirm the weather conditions for that part of the island, for if the many articles I’d read online was to be believed it would be raining for the majority of the time we were there. The receptionist confirmed my worst fears without hesitation. Apparently in India (there closest neighbours), and Sri Lanka too I am sure the monsoon season was a thing to be celebrated. Due to the stifling tropical heat of the rest of the year and the suffering of animals and crops because of the draught the monsoon was welcomed with open arms. This was not a concept I was familiar with as I was constantly trying to escape wind and rain in England. Constantly. I did not like wind and rain and I most certainly did not take kindly to cold wind and rain and what was the point of going on a beach holiday when it was raining?

Well when I explained our situation to the hotel they were surprisingly good about it. They understood why I didn’t want to go on holiday to a monsoon destination and they told me they were happy for us to cancel as we were giving them so much advance notice. They told me that if Expedia had any issues with cancelling it they could give them a call and they would confirm this. I was elated. When I called Expedia they spoke directly with the hotel and then cancelled our booking. We didn’t incur any charges. But we had made a package booking and our flights to Sri Lanka did have a penalty of £150 pp. This was insignificant in comparison to the amount of money we would have thrown down the drain had we have been forced to go through with the monsoon holiday from hell as undoubtedly we would have been unable to stay on that side of the island so we’d have to pay for another hotel and transportation to take us there. The cancellation was a flat fee so we could essentially cancel it at any time so we decided to look and see if we could find suitable accommodation on another part of the island using the money we had been refunded by Expedia or if not then paying the £300 cancellation fee and cancelling the whole thing. It soon became clear that the flights were the majority of the budget particularly since we’d upgraded to direct flights. We just couldn’t find any suitable accommodation at this price range.

So we gave up. And decided to go back to Thailand!

Watch this space. And if we do indeed get blown up, blame it on the Sri Lankan monsoon!

 

 

 

Pose-wear

Pose-wear

Alongside my love of frocks I also have a love of swimwear.

Following the popularity of brands such as Anne Summers and Victoria Secrets there hadn’t really been many swimwear designers that challenged their level of success and popularity and after a time I found their designs to be becoming more and more boring (Victoria Secrets) or tacky (Anne Summers). I was dying for an alternative.

Then came along Agent Provocateur. The name said it all: sex, romance, mystery and an abundance of glamour. It was all of the things I was looking for in lingerie and swimwear, but the only problem was: The Price.

These teeny tiny items of clothing were very expensive and seemed to  be eternally out of reach for someone who couldn’t (and didn’t want to), spend £80 on a bra and £300 on a bikini.

It was very frustrating as I loved all of their products and didn’t see why they had to be charging such extortionate prices for scanty wares. Recently Agent Provocateur had an online sale so I looked on their website in the hope that their prices become a little more reasonable. There was one swimsuit in particular I’d had my eye on:

 

Dakota

Now I realise that a lot of people (indeed the majority of people), wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable wearing this swimsuit but it’s exactly the kind of swimwear I like and I would feel absolutely fantastic wearing it, alas it was £225. £225 for something that I’m probably only going to wear for a few hours in a day on holiday?? – I realise that they are trying to make a statement about their outfits exclusive but c’mon. Is it really worth £225? – I doubt it.

Neeeext 

Then I saw this:

Lexxi Swimsuit

And I absolutely adored the striking cobalt blue colour of the swimsuit aswell as the unique bandage style design.  Yes please! Price? – Oh, not much, just a mere £245!

REALLY Agent Provocateur?!

So, I found myself back to square one again and back to my beloved Asos which at the very least would have more reasonable options, and of course more variety. Almost immediately upon clicking onto there swimwear section I saw this:

glamarama

Price? – £55. I purchased immediately. For me, in the age where you can get swimwear for £16, an £55 swimsuit is reasonably expensive so considering a swimsuit for more then 4 times the cost of what is already an expensive swimsuit is a ridiculous concept, particularly when as you can see this £55 version is also very striking to look at (and was designed in Australia, surprise surprise!)

So, what happened when I received said costume? – Well, I tried it on and was suitably impressed with the fit, the colour (a beautiful emerald green), and it’s design. Definitely a keeper. But what’s this on the tag I can see? – I looked closer and upon inspection I could see a warning telling me to (what is this?): Do not wear in water.

Erm, I felt the need to check the description of the item of clothing: Ahh yes, A SWIMSUIT. But hold on let me read that warning label again: DO NOT WEAR IN WATER.

What kind of foolishness of this? What do you mean I cannot wear a suit to swim in?

In my absolute horror at a level of stupidity that I had never accounted before in my quest for fashion relief, I logged online immediately to check the information that Asos had on their website for the usage of this pose-wear aka parade-wear aka sunbathing wear aka poncing about-wear masquerading as swimwear and all it said was:

  • Stretch bandage fabric (check)
  • plunge design (check)
  • cut-out detailing (check)
  • hook and hoop fastenings (check)
  • flattering brief cut (check)
  • hand wash (slightly odd but check)
  • 100% polyester (a little unusual but check)

There was absolutely NO MENTION whatsoever of something that is ultimately very crucial to someone who is looking for a suit to swim in the sea.  And guess what? – they even had the audacity to show the model with WET hair whilst wearing it. Why would her hair be wet? Or is that just sweat?..

It is only when you look further (in another tab entitled Info), when you see the same warning: To get the best from your bandage beachwear we advise you do not wear it in water.

Well, blow me down! This advice is closer to the true description: bandage beachwear. But to describe it as being swimwear and then tell me that I cannot swim in it is ridiculous beyond belief. I’ve never heard of such a thing!

Deceit: I do not take kindly to deceit particularly when it’s at my expense and when I’m time poor. I don’t have time to look for another swimming costume, and neither do I have the desire. However I am delaying sending it back because I do like it first I’d like someone to tell me the following:

Who on earth would parade around in a swimming costume that cannot be worn in the water? Who on earth would buy a swimming costume that cannot be worn in the water?

Who on earth came up with this ridiculous, vanity inducing design?

What on earth will happen if I wear this thing in the water? – will it disintegrate? fade? shrink?

A dress at least has a function, as does lingerie, jeans etc. but what exactly is the function of this outfit? I’ll tell you what it is – tis POSING. I don’t have time for that nonsense! And I most certainly do not want to spend MORE on something that has LESS value. The idea that I would be sunbathing in this pose-wear only to have to change into a bikini or swimming costume so that I can cool off or swim is ridiculous. Is this what the world has come to? Goodness Gracious.

I have complained to Asos about this and the customer service agent wasn’t very sympathetic to my plight at first but when he actually saw the thing he agreed that it was indeed one of the silliest things he’d heard. They are meant to be getting back to me today with an answer as to what exactly will happen to the garment if I wear it in water. The reason as to why such a product even exists is something that only the designer will ever know…

 

Pilfering in Barcelona

Pilfering in Barcelona

 

Is the title of my new short story. Since I was indeed Pilfered in Barcelona.

They took my brand new phone and my money and I was not best pleased I can assure you.

Should you have the desire to read my holiday tales I now have a selection of 11 would you believe?! My short (ish) stories are based on my experiences in the following places and they are as amusing as they are true:

1.  Trinidad & Tobago

2. Miami, USA

3. Lake Como, Italy

4. Cancun, Mexico

5. New York, USA

6. Las Vegas, USA

7. Santorini, Greece

8. Herefordshire, UK

9. Barcelona, Spain

10. Negril, Jamaica

11. Caribbean Cruise

What is my favourite story? – Well I guess it’s gotta be Trinidad and Tobago as it was the most surreal holiday of them all and will be familiar to a lot of women planning their big day (or someone else’s!).

I’m off to Croatia next week and I really am hoping (indeed praying!), that there will be no drama to be had and therefore I will have a pleasant time unworthy of note.