Honesty

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called Love or Loyalty? For me, without love, there is no purpose.

However, since writing the post, I have wondered if actually love and loyalty aren’t the most important thing in a relationship. Maybe the key to a happy, long lasting relationship is in fact honesty.

I recently started seeing someone. A couple of weeks ago after a beautiful morning together, I asked him a question. It was something that had been playing on my mind, but I could never find the right time to ask.

However, something about our perfectly beautiful morning together, gave me the courage I needed to ask.

I could see that my question had surprised him. He was unable to answer straight away (yet somehow this gave me my answer before he even spoke). He was clearly torn as to whether to be honest or whether to lie.

Thankfully he decided to be honest.

He knew that by being honest, I wouldn’t get the answer I wanted to hear. He didn’t want to upset me, or cause me any hurt, but I think he knew he needed to be honest with me.

He considered keeping the truth from me. I knew that from his initial silence, as well as the grown up conversation we had afterwards.

But, instead, he told me the truth. As slow, warm tears rolled down my cheeks, he immediately regretted telling the truth.

As much as it caused me some hurt that day, by the time evening came, I was pleased he had found the courage to tell me the truth. His honesty made my heart and soul much happier.

It had made him feel like shit, and I still had a decision to make, but at least I could do this with the facts laid out in front of me.

Had he not told me the truth, our beautiful bubble may not have burst. Yet if I had found out the truth much later on, this would’ve been far worse for our relationship.

Although our initial bubble burst, I decided that the information I now had, would not ruin what we had started. In some ways, his honesty brought us closer together, and made us both realise we had something that we wanted to fight for.

Which thankfully lead to a new bubble being created.

Recently, I went to a friends wedding. I spent most of the day talking to a couple I have known for a number of years, about the concept of love and loyalty.

It was my friends husband (D) who said it wasn’t love or loyalty that kept him and K together (although clearly they are still in love with each other, even after 20+ years of marriage!). He said that honesty was the key, and K agreed.

They have such a refreshing approach to their marriage and their relationship.

They openly admire other people in front of one another (even pointing out to each other when they see someone in the street the other might like!). Yet neither of them have strayed, or been tempted to stray. They have a refreshingly honest approach to their marriage, with K saying that if D ever strayed, she could never put the entire blame on him, taking the view that if he was ever tempted, then she would have no choice than to accept some share of the blame.

Social media does not help honesty in our relationships these days. With so many opportunities to misbehave behind peoples backs, it is easy to see why many people are becoming more and more disillusioned with love.

I have lost count of the number of men who appear to be happily married, who have sent me late night messages over the last 6 months! Two in particular were clearly going through difficult times at home. As much as I was flattered by the attention, nobody likes to be used when things get tough at home! It seems as if it is far easier these days to be unfaithful than it is to be honest with our nearest and dearest.

For me, lying is one of the worst offences you can commit in a relationship. Being honest with each other, even when you have done wrong, shows strength and courage. Yes, it might cause hurt and pain, and comes with great risk, but I would take that any day over lies

My advice for what it’s worth, is to let people know where they stand, so they can make their own choices.

My Indian Adventure

I recently wrote about the Laws of Attraction and the overwhelming desire I have to visit India.

Well, I am beyond excited to let you, my readers, know, that I am making that dream a reality.

This Christmas, I fly out to Delhi for a 15 day trip to India.

Whilst there, I will visit Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Mumbai, and last but certainly not least, Goa.

I am travelling with a company who came highly recommended by a friend, and will meet my fellow travel companions on the day I arrive in Delhi.

The trip is basic, so rather than staying in modern westernised hotels, I wanted to do things the Indian way, to get a real sense of the country and Indian life. This means I’ll be staying in traditional Indian hotels (some without hot water!), taking traditional transport (including the odd rickshaw or two!) as well as eating with the locals.

In order to visit Mumbai and Goa, I’ll also be getting two overnight trains! What better way to mix with the locals and to get a real feel for Indian life!

Why am I going at Christmas I hear you ask?

I love Christmas. Or at least I used to. I loved the magic of it. Yet, the last couple of years, I feel as though I’ve lost my Christmas spirit. Part of me hopes that by escaping the chaos of a traditional western Christmas, my festive spirit will return home with me.

It’s also a great time to go from a work point of view. Our office closes down over the Christmas period, which means that for a 15 day trip I will only need to take around 5 days annual leave…

It’s also much cooler throughout India in December and January. With temperatures currently peaking at 48 degrees Celsius in parts of India, there is no way this gingernut would survive in those temperatures!

Although the trip feels a long way off with just over 6 months until I fly out there, I have a lot to organise before I leave.

With visa’s to arrange, travel insurance to buy, vaccinations to brave, a suitable Indian wardrobe to buy, and a home for my furry four legged friend whilst I am away (which isn’t going to be easy over Christmas!), there will be plenty to keep me busy over the next few months.

I still have another flight to book too! Whilst flying to Delhi is easy (a 8.5 hr direct flight from Heathrow), flying back from Goa is looking slightly more challenging, with no direct flights back to the UK.

Whilst I should probably get the return flight booked soon, there is a part of me that is far too excited about the thought of having a one way ticket to India…

This is by far the biggest adventure I will have been on.

It will certainly be a trip of firsts:

    My first group travel trip (there could be up to 15 other people on my trip)
    My first long haul flight on my own
    My first trip to India
    My first overnight train
    My first authentic Indian curry (I can’t wait for this!)
    The first time I will be sharing a room with a stranger (it was much cheaper to risk sharing with someone else on the trip than paying the single person supplement…and anyhow, part of the experience is about making new friends…)
    My first Christmas in another country, as well as my first New Year on foreign soil

I’m sure these won’t be the only firsts either.

My only hope is that I don’t become an India bore over the next few months (please tell me if I do!).

I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding as to why India is pulling at me, and why everything seems to be leading me down this particular path…

I can’t wait to take you all on this Indian adventure with me 💕🇮🇳✨✈️

Old Fashioned Romance with a Modern Day Twist

I love being single, but that doesn’t stop me looking forward to being in love again. Although, I have to admit, and if you have read some of my earlier blog posts, you may have already worked out that I’m not actually too good at this love malarkey.

Falling for the wrong men is becoming quite the speciality of mine. From Nigerian con men, men who’s visas are about to expire, men posing online as soldiers from the US Army, men (some married, and some not) who want me as their naughty little secret or their bit of fun, and that’s not to mention the control freaks. Oh, and on top of that, there’s the best friend who I spent the best part of 4 years falling in and out of love with! You name it, I’ve done it and got the bloody T-shirt.

I’ve had my fair share of disastrous relationships.

Yet none of this has made me to give up on love.

I’m a hopeless romantic. A proper fictional romance book/rom com movie romantic.

Think Emma Thompson in Last Chance Harvey, Sandra Bullock in While you were Sleeping, Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, or even Steve Carrell in Dan in Real Life.

Although, in reality, what I actually want is old fashioned romance with a modern day twist.

I’m definitely not a ball and chain kinda girl.

I’m too much of a free spirit these days for you to be able to chain me to the kitchen sink, or for you to expect me to do everything you want to do.

I love spending time by myself.

I actually enjoy my own company (something my younger self would never have dreamt I would say!)

I love waking up at the weekend or on my days off, and doing what I want to do.

I love the freedom of being able to book holidays to far off places I want to visit, just because I have an itch that needs to be scratched.

When I fall in love again, I want it to be the kind of love where we share special times together, but equally lead our own separate lives, doing what makes us happy. Sometimes that might involve holidays together, other times it might mean travelling to places on our own, or with friends. Sometimes there will be weekends spent together, other times, it may not.

I’m done with claustrophobic love. The kinda love where you feel you have to spend every waking moment with someone. The kinda love where you do everything together, but end up with nothing to talk about because you have no new experiences to talk of, except for those you have shared together.

In my dream world, you might live next door to me, but not live with me.

It’s funny how as we get older our views on relationships change. Maybe as we get older we become more selfish. Or maybe we simply become more realistic.

Long gone are the days where I feel a relationship should complete me.

I had that all wrong.

What’s important is that you learn to love yourself.

To love your life.

So that when someone else does come along, they don’t take your life and your love for yourself away from you. Instead, they enhance you. They enhance your life.

Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about mental health a lot this week. Particularly apt due to it being mental health awareness week.

Everywhere I’ve turned there have been reminders about looking after our mental health. Social media has been full of interesting quotes and articles, and celebrities as well as us ‘normal’ folk have been talking about our own mental health.

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday who said they feel as though everyone has mental health problems these days, and that sometimes it feels as though people are just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

Whilst I’m not sure people are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, it certainly does feel as though more people have mental health problems these days. However, I’m not sure that this is true either.

What seems to be true, is that more people are opening up and talking about mental health.

Radio 1 have done a great job at allowing people to open up and talk about their mental health, frequently talking about different ways to cope, and just allowing people to air their problems.

Celebrities too have been opening up about their mental health experiences, which somehow makes it easier to discuss things. By opening up and telling us their stories, they are letting everyone know that it is ok to not be ok.

Workplaces too are taking a tougher stance on mental health, ensuring staff know what to do if they are experiencing problems, or by simply making staff more aware of the signs that one of their colleagues maybe struggling so they can help, or find someone who can.

I too created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut as a way of managing my own mental health. I often struggle to put things into words when speaking out loud, but writing my blog helps me to have a voice, and to say the things I often wish I could say in person. It also helps me to reflect and to make sense of things.

Yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of bittersweetness when we talk about mental health.

In a couple of months time it will be the anniversary of my best friends suicide.

I often wonder, if there had been more publicity about mental health back then, if there had been easier access to information, support groups etc, whether she may still be here.

We’ll never know.

What I am grateful for, is the fact that times are changing.

Mental health has a growing voice.

Mental health is finally being listened to.

Amen to that!

🙏🏻

Cumin

Isn’t it funny how certain tastes and smells we experience, stay with us throughout our lives?

Standing in the kitchen today, frying up a couple of eggs for lunch, I decided to sprinkle a little bit of cumin powder on top of them.

As I lifted the lid off the cumin powder, I was instantly transported back to Marrakech. Although I long to go again some day, I haven’t been back since my first visit in December 2015.

Moroccans seem to add cumin to everything, including their fried eggs.

The smell was such a powerful reminder of my trip. Other memories came flooding back. Not just the smells, but the taste of the food, and the sounds.

Whilst visiting Marrakech, I heard the Adhan (the call to prayer) for the first time. The first time I heard the call to prayer, I had no idea what it was, but it sent shivers down my spine. No matter how many times I search you tube, I just can’t find a video that does it justice. Maybe it’s just one of those sounds you have to hear for yourself rather than through a video. Hearing the Adhan was like being cast under a spell. I wanted to follow the sound to see where it led me.

Along with the sound of the Adhan, and the taste and smell of cumin, the other smell that will forever remain in my memory, is that of the petrol fumes. If you have ever been to Marrakech, you will know that the souks are a maze of narrow streets full of traders, locals and tourists alike, bartering over the many goods that are on offer. It’s incredible how anyone gets through those markets in one piece, on or off a mode of transport. The scooters and motorbikes somehow navigate their way through the markets, dodging people, animals and other modes of transport in order to reach their destination.

I quickly grew accustomed to the powerful effect Marrakech had on my senses in the short time I was there.

When I returned home a few days later, I opened my suitcase, ready to unpack, and was instantly hit by a wave of petrol fumes, spices and memories of the Adhan.

The tastes, smells and sounds of Marrakech can be overwhelming and powerful to the western tourist. I know people who have visited Marrakech and couldn’t wait to leave. But for me, Marrakech stole a piece of my heart. I will forever remember the excitement that comes with having your senses caught up in the spell that is Marrakech.

There are many other smells, tastes and sounds which remind me of the past and they almost always give me reason to smile.

What brings your senses alive?

Valentines

Happy Valentines to you my lovely followers ❤️.

Whether you’ve been celebrating today with your partners, your friends, or by yourself, I hope you’ve been kind to yourself today.

This is my first single valentines for a couple of years. So many singletons seem to dread the day. Quite frankly, even those in relationships often turn their noses up at the thought of it.

However, even as a thirty something singleton, I’ve been looking forward to today.

I may not have anyone to have a romantic night in (or out) with, but for me, today has been about celebrating self love.

Ok, so maybe I had a bit of a flirt here and there, but for the most part, I have been celebrating self love.

For possibly the first time in my life, I feel happy with who I am. I feel like a new person since my trip to Portugal. Even my colleagues have noticed a change. I feel lighter, happier.

My wellbeing and my happiness have become a priority. I have spent years trying to make others happy, making myself miserable in the process. But now, I finally realise the importance of self love.

If I love me for who I am, and make sure that I stay true to myself, if I find myself looking for romantic love again, there will be no changing me to make others happy from now on.

I have lost count of the times I have changed for other people. And all it’s done is caused me to lose my identity and to end up as miserable as sin.

I’m done with all that rubbish.

If you’re not going to love me for me, then you don’t deserve me, and you certainly won’t have a future with me.

So today, my friends, has been about celebrating my happiness, my freedom, and most importantly, celebrating finding love for myself.

And this evening, I have celebrated in my cosy little London flat, with my four legged friend, a bottle of wine, and a chocolate pudding.

And I’ve loved every minute ❤️❤️❤️

Praia Santa Eulália, Praia da Oura and Alfagar II Aparthotel

I’m now back in gloomy, grey, England after a beautiful few days in Portugal.

The flight into Gatwick yesterday was slightly unnerving, as we landed in high winds. There were gasps, followed by a few expletives from passengers as we made our descent, but thankfully, our pilot got us back safe and sound (and without the drama this plane had trying to land at Heathrow yesterday – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-47177383/plane-struggles-to-land-in-strong-winds-at-heathrow-airport).

Thursday was my last full day in Portugal. I had intended on having a rest day, but I also wanted to get back out to see what else was around, close to where I was staying.

I had been staying at the beautiful Alfagar II Aparthotel, which has private access to Praia Santa Eulália. Although I had taken a walk down to the beach on the day I arrived, I really didn’t explore that much. So, I decided to pack up my rucksack and head down to the beach armed with my book and my beach towel ready to explore Praia Santa Eulália.

View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
View from Alfagar Resort
Private access path down to Praia Santa Eulália.

Once I arrived at the beach, I noticed the tide was out, so I decided to keep walking and followed the beach around towards the next cove. The beaches around this part of The Algarve are stunning. They are rugged and wild, but magical and serene at the same time. The cliffs were something else, and their colours are just beautiful.

As I continued my walk around to the next beaches (Praia da Oura Leste and Praia da Oura), I turned back to look at the view. It was such a stunning spot. So it was there that I sat and read my book until lunchtime approached.

After a spot of lunch by beachside restaurant Vivaldo’s it was time to head back to the hotel to enjoy my last afternoon poolside.

The view from Vivaldo’s

As the evening set in, it was time to reflect back on a fantastic trip.

I booked the entire holiday (flights, hotel and transfers) through easyJet, and I couldn’t fault any of it.

The hotel was absolutely stunning and spotlessly clean, the staff were really friendly and helpful, the food at the Buganvilla Snack-Bar where I ate my evening meals was fantastic. The portions were huge, with a wide selection of starters, and main meals. The apple pie was to die for, and the chocolate mousse was simply divine! The evening entertainment was on the cheesy side, but I guess you expect that in resorts, and in actual fact, holidaying in February, I was probably lucky that evening entertainment was on the menu! The little supermarket in Alfagar Village was well stocked with everything you could wish for, including fresh bread, a butchers, and plenty of wine.

I didn’t use all the facilities on site (there is a car rental office on site – not sure I trust myself to drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road yet!), but those I did use were superb. The gym, the spa, the pools, as with the rest of the hotel were spotlessly clean and well looked after.

On my first day, I had a slight problem with my lights not switching on in the apartment, however, I called down to reception, and within 15 minutes the maintenance guy was at my door, ready to fix it for me. 2 minutes later, I had light and had no further problems throughout my stay.

Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel
Alfagar Aparthotel

I had also booked my transfers through easyJet. Finding the meeting point at Faro airport was really straightforward, and only took 30 minutes to get from the airport to the hotel. On the return journey, thankfully I was early, and already in reception, because the transfer was a good 10 minutes early picking me up. We got to the airport early which at least meant I had a bit more time to look around duty free!

And despite landing in windy conditions, both flights were excellent.

All in all, a fantastic holiday!

Where to next I wonder?

(All photos in this blog are my own)