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Rosie Scribble

Trees in Alice Holt

There’s something slightly unsettling about the day after returning home from a trip, as if you’re not quite in one place, but not quite in the other either.

You’re no longer in holiday mode but not quite ready to return to reality and all the preparation, organisation and routine that brings.

You’re left somewhere in between, which means it hasn’t been an ordinary Sunday.

School uniform hasn’t been washed; there’s been no supermarket shop and the majority of unpacking hasn’t been done.

I’m living out of my suitcase, not quite ready to return everything to its rightful place.

Part of me is geared up for the next country, the next adventure, not quite ready to settle at home.

The solution turned out to be forgetting it all and heading out into the forest. Alice Holt near Farnham to be precise.


It felt good to be out exploring somewhere new again, camera in hand.

The calming effect of nature.


Just enough to make the mind wander a little.

Just enough to make you think you’re somewhere else.

Giant wooden owl sculpture

Just enough to help you cope with the fact that you’re not, and tomorrow it’s back to reality.

Just enough to leave you knowing there will be more travelling, more experiences.

And all is well.


Athens from the air

I’m not a huge fan of flying after the fire incident at Charles de Gaulle Airport when I was flying off to Africa. Thankfully the passing of five years has eased the anxiety that plagued future plane journeys to the point that I can now relax and enjoy the ride a little more, which is a relief because there’s something uniquely special about viewing the world from a seat 35,000 feet above land.

Perhaps it’s the lack of an internet connection that frees up some precious thinking time. Perhaps it’s the fact that there’s not a lot else to do. Perhaps it’s the view. Flying over The Dolomites as I type this, with one eye on the computer screen and the other on the window, it’s hard not to feel inspired by the planet we live on. Right now I want to explore every single bit of it.

Clouds over Greece

To set the scene more fully, I’ve just spent four action-packed days in Thessaloniki, Greece having flown there via Athens earlier in the week. I’ve been part of the team of bloggers that make up this year’s ‘Young at Heart’ BlogTrotters Greece tour. I was part of the very first tour last year when I spent the same amount of time in Athens looking at street art, visiting the historical sights, spending an afternoon on the beach and eating my own body weight in food.

So that gives you a hint at what is to come in future posts when I write about the trip in more detail. I’ll be posting more once I’ve caught up on some sleep, had some time to reflect on it all and spent some time with IJ. I’ve missed her a lot, although the sun and sand certainly helped compensate, and thank goodness for WhatsApp.

Right now I’m doing what I always do on the return leg of a trip whilst sitting on a plane. Feeling calm, relaxed, without a distraction in the world and knowing I’m heading home to IJ – I’m reflecting on life a little and making some decisions.

Flying over Greece

Having just spent four days with a group of creative bloggers from the travel, fashion and beauty sectors, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the issue of age. I was acutely aware at the beginning of the trip that I was almost two decades older than many of the bloggers. I wondered how they viewed me, if they were aware of my age and if they were thinking I stood out as being different to them.

I found myself looking back with fondness to the time when I was young, keenly interested in fashion and photography and spoke with excitement about the places I’d visited in the world and where I wanted to go next. Then I mourned the passing of time a little.

But then I got a grip, realised the age paranoia was mostly in the head, and decided the attitude that I was too ‘old’ to view the world with the same young, excited mindset where everything is there to be discovered, wasn’t really getting me anywhere.

Greece from the air

So the decisions I’ve made, inspired by the young creatives I’ve been around and the places I’ve visited, include taking the photography course I’ve wanted to do for years, continuing the children’s book I started writing last year, travelling more and exploring more.

As well as that I’m not going to view the childlike excitement I often have about the world as age-inappropriate.

Who knows where this will lead. Hopefully a lot more blog posts. How appropriate that the theme for this trip was Young at Heart. I’m sure there’s a part of us that never really grows up, nor wants to.

Flying over Paris and starting the decent into London Heathrow as I revisit this post and type a little more, the layer of cloud that previously looked like frothy whipped cream has become thicker, a little greyer and the gaps now nonexistent.

But it doesn’t matter. It can mean only one thing. And it has to be the best thing about the return leg of a journey you’ve made without your family: the realisation you’re almost home and they are waiting for you.

London from the air

Let the adventure continue …


A coconut tree

As we powered along the Mexican coast in a catamaran, the spray from the water a welcome relief in the heat, a small island began to emerge in the distance. Remote, uninhabited, and lined with row upon row of lush green palm trees.

As we got closer we spotted the hammocks in the water, the line of sun loungers on the beach and the whitest sand I’ve ever seen.

Approaching Passion Island, Mexico

It was one of those moments when you quietly think to yourself: I’ll remember this forever.

We’d arrived in paradise, officially known as Passion Island, a 45-minute journey by catamaran from the Mexican port of Cozumel. It was the final stop on our Western Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruises for Cruise International Magazine.

Coconut trees

The island was beautiful, small enough to explore in a couple of hours and extremely well maintained.

It was the perfect tropical island hideaway on which to escape it all for a while. It’s long stretch of beach never felt overcrowded. I could genuinely see myself living out my days there, never returning to the UK, surviving on a diet of fresh coconut and sea air.

Passion Island, Mexico 1

There would be plenty of IJ to do too. With a supervised children’s play area, trampolines and basketball nets, I was confident she’d adapt quickly to island life, should we decide to make it our forever home.

The kids play area Passion Island, Mexico

I could have spent our time drinking at the small bar in the centre of the beach or shopping in the handful of boutiques dotted across the island. Instead I chose to do nothing except relax and soak up the sunshine.

IJ, who will tell you she can’t exist without the internet, played happily for hours without a computer screen in sight.

Playing on Passion Island, Mexico

If you’re travelling with children, the fact that they can play under the watchful eye of the staff, while you relax a little, is perfect.

Basket ball nets on Passion Island, Mexico

There was a slide, craft activities as well as old-fashioned games.

Children's play area, Passion Island, Mexico

We did enjoy the sea although there was rather a lot of seaweed, which put IJ off initially, but once you get into deeper water it quickly disappears.

Passion Island, Mexico

And then there were the hammocks, which once you’ve managed to manoeuvre yourself into, you could relax and enjoy the sea air, which many of the visitors did, glass of ice cold beer in hand.

There were inflatables on the water too from which you could dive into the sea, if you were brave enough, which neither of us were.

Instead we relaxed and enjoyed the setting, not quite believing we were really there, until it was time to leave.

Palm tree

Our guide, Alejandro, had somehow managed to remember the names of every single person who travelled with him on his catamaran. That meant when it was time to leave he called each one of us by name.

So reluctantly we were escorted safely off the island and back to our ship.

Carnival Freedom arriving in Mexico

Had his memory not been quite so incredible, we’d perhaps still be there.


Blog on computer screen

There’s an exceptional piece of writing in today’s The Sunday Times by columnist India Knight called ‘Facebook’s grieving chief shows the Internet can speak human’.

It refers to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent Facebook update following the death of her husband, David Goldberg. In it Sandberg shares her extreme grief and torturous last month at a time when she would have been forgiven for hiding away, for leaving her job, for never being seen in public again.

As Knight mentions, not only has Sandberg sparked a global discussion on grief and shown it’s acceptable to talk about it, she’s highlighted the more human side of the internet away from online attacks, trolls and Twitter abuse. An Internet where people share, care and support each other and discuss aspects of their life. Knight refers to it as Internet B.

The idea of Internet B made me think immediately of the blogging community. Sharing raw grief, cancer treatment, marital breakdown and survival. Sparking conversations, gaining support, showing life in all its colours. That’s what bloggers have been doing for years. Sharing, supporting, surviving. There’s a wealth of human experience out there. Perhaps we could go as far as saying bloggers created internet B.

But there’s something more.

While not everyone wants to share aspects of their life online, for those that do – like Sandberg last week – it offers readers a more rounded view of life and places a value on being real, not keeping the more difficult aspects of life out of view as if they don’t happen and can’t be talked about.

On the page before Knight’s column there’s an article on eating disorders. It makes reference to the perfectionist traits often seen in anorexics. And that’s the point here. By being real online and not being afraid of sharing the more difficult aspects of life, we’re being far more human than any magazine article that glosses over the truth and airbrushes out the parts we might not like.

We’re painting a far more realistic picture about life. We’re showing that no one is perfect and life isn’t perfect, so striving for perfection is pointless. We’re speaking human.

Long may Internet B continue. As for Sheryl Sandberg, I hope one day she is able to post online that she’s okay, that she has survived this trauma, that she has found her new normal. I hope her recent post isn’t the last we hear  from her for a while and that she continues to update us all.

Internet B is here for her like it’s here for all of us.


Cherry tree

*Warning: this post might act as a trigger for anyone who has experienced baby loss*

I stood behind a lady in the supermarket queue yesterday. She was holding in her arms, very carefully, a plastic doll. A nurse stood by her side.

When the pair reached the front of the queue, the lady with the doll in her arms stepped forward to pay for her shopping. She wasn’t buying much, just two outfits for a baby.

The clothes were the size of her doll. Judging how carefully the doll was cared for, it was mostly likely the clothes were for her. She didn’t have a baby with her. The doll was her baby.

My heart broke for her and, perhaps selfishly, I tried to put out of my mind the reasons for her carrying round a doll in her arms. The reasons for her caring for it, for clothing it and for holding it so close.

Although I only saw her briefly, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss. A loss for what she didn’t have. For the gap in her life that doll was replacing. For what or whom she’d lost. For the obvious impact it had had on her.

She paid for her baby clothes and quietly walked away with her nurse. I don’t know where she went. I don’t know what the future holds for her. All I do know is that wherever she is she’ll stay with me for some time.

I’m a little more grateful today for what I have in life, particularly the little girl sitting opposite me.

But I’m sad too for the lady with the doll. And for all those like her, who don’t carry a doll round with them, but who feel that loss just as deeply.

If feels only appropriate here to mention the following websites for anyone in need of support:

NHS Choices – Mental Health


The Samaritans

The Lullaby Trust



Speed blogging

in Blogging

Blog image

At one time I would have said that blogging and full time work don’t mix. Not, at least, if you want to spend some time each day away from a computer screen.

The solution, it turns out, is speed blogging. It’s literally writing a post in a matter of minutes. There’s no planning involved, no drafting and only minimal editing (it’s got to be readable after all).

It’s just a case of putting fingers to keyboard and blogging the words that come out.

It is in fact what I always do if I’ve got a deadline for a piece of writing and I’m not sure where to start. I just start typing on the keyboard and viola! – no blank page, or translated into blog language – no blank post.

Suddenly the whole task becomes a little easier.

The only issue now is that I haven’t actually done anything worth blogging about since I posted yesterday.

I’ve watched several episodes of Mad Men but as the rest of the world has just watched the last ever episode and I’ve only just started on series two, it’s a topic of conversation that’s off limits. Don’t tell me anything.

So that leaves the part of the post where I share something interesting or insightful completely blank as there is nothing to say. I’ll share where I ate my lunch. It’s about as interesting as it gets.

The river in Godalming

So that’s it. My first (and I suspect last) speed blog.

Now it’s your turn to give it a go.


Laptop and coffee

I used to say a lot on this blog. I’d post about work news, the latest course I was taking, the frustrations of freelancing (although I think I only wrote that post in my head) and I’d ponder on where I thought my life was going next.

I’ve done less of that recently, wary of tempting fate by posting good news, nervous about sharing too much of life’s frustrations when all is not going so well.

Recently a couple of people who have read my blog for some time contacted me privately and asked me how things were going, saying I’d been a little quiet and asking me for my latest update, which is lovely.

So I realized an update was overdue. And here’s the thing about tempting fate if you share good news and worrying about sharing bad. It leaves you with very little to write about, and the more I write on this blog the more I realize how much I’ve missed it, and the community, and writing.

So here’s the longwinded version of where I am now. Stick with it as in my usual fashion I have a point to make.

Many years ago I took an eight-hour round trip to a PR company in Manchester hoping for some work. I’d been invited in to speak to the PR manager and was hopeful that this was a good sign. Unfortunately it was her secretary who had invited me in. The PR manager hadn’t even looked at my CV.

I was there for all of five minutes. I’d travelled for hours at great expense and with the need also to arrange a whole day’s childcare. I was told I’d never work for a PR agency as I didn’t have an agency experience. And that was that.

A lot has happened since then. Google being the most significant, which wouldn’t have happened if I decided  to give up. I was determined to continue building a career no matter what.

Now, several years after being told I’d never work at a PR agency, I’m working at a PR agency. It’s a small boutique agency not far from my home. Not wanting to tempt fate but all is going well.

It’s often wise to ignore the people who tell you you can’t do something, and keep trying until you come to that conclusion yourself or you prove them wrong.

I’ve just proved them wrong.


The Path to the woods

People so often say that we fail to notice what is on our own doorstep, which is why we had no idea this path existed, let alone that it lead anywhere.

After two years in this part of Surrey, and given my love of travel, it seems crazy now that we’ve taken day trips to London, explored the Capital, flown off to the States but failed to spend any time exploring the area literally a short walk from our front door.

Then someone mentioned the local woods, and we discovered for the first time that just beyond that path lies the undiscovered. So we set off to explore.

Girls walking a long a path

IJ will tell you then when it comes to making good use of your free time, there are a million things better than spending time outdoors. The xbox 360 being just one of those things. But in a rare case of mother-tweenager agreement, she decided to come along.

The path ran along the edge of farmer’s field, home to these beautiful horses, before narrowing as it steered us into the woods.

Horses in a field

 Beyond here the girls discovered rabbits, a grass snake, squirrels and possibly also a Gruffalo.

Entering the wood

We also discovered this Gruffalo-sized hut in the middle of nowhere.

Hut in field

The path continued uphill for several miles, taking us somewhere but we weren’t sure where. And then we reached this.

Bluebells in the wood

A separate wood, miles from anywhere, full of bluebells. It’s called Violet Woods.

Bluebells in violet wood

Too delicate to walk through, we walked along of the woods to the end where we discovered these huge flowers. Lilies perhaps but I’m a little uninformed when it comes to the names of flowers.

White flowers

And then we retraced our steps home.

Wooded path

To think this has been here all this time and we’ve only just discovered it.

Now to find out what else we’ve been missing …


Vintage retro icons

I’m drafting this post with an old-fashioned pen (one of those things with ink you hold between your fingers) on a piece of plain paper (flat material, originates from trees, no spell-checker), in the waiting room of a station where there isn’t even a screen displaying train times.

It’s all very alien and a little bit 1982. Any time now I’m expecting to discover the 20p coin hasn’t been invented, there’s no such thing as Facebook and the only way you can really communicate with someone is by actually speaking to them in person, face to face with eye contact and everything.

In a nutshell, I have no phone; at least not one that works. It’s a long and not particularly interesting story but I’ll relay it anyway to ease the slow passing of time without Internet access.

Life without a phone feels very strange. The pace of life feels slower. I have no information at my fingertips, and suddenly I am in need of train times, dates, my calendar for tomorrow and an update on my Words With Friends status.

I have none of the above.

The last time I felt so disconnected from the rest of the world was the time I queued outside a telephone box only to discover I didn’t have enough change to make a call.

The not so interesting bit goes as follows. I remembered this morning that my phone contract was about to expire. Rather than facing the unthinkable – life without a smart phone – I decided to go into the phone shop and get it sorted.

It all seemed so straightforward. I got my shiny new phone and accepted the assistant’s offer to set it up for me. All my data, apps, settings and the like would be transported via the cloud from my old phone to my new, as if by magic, the assistant told me.

Except the shop’s fastest-than-super-fast-internet was too slow, so the process faulted leaving my phone data stuck somewhere in that cloud, never quite making the journey through space, or whatever route travelling data takes.

So here I am. Phoneless, data-less and disconnected.

There’s the opportunity here, of course, to relax and do nothing; to reflect a little and enjoy some quiet time.

Instead I’m sharing the drama of my phoneless existence while wondering how many important emails I’ve missed, how many voicemails I’ll have to pick up when I’m back in the real world and how many text messages are sitting on my phone waiting for me.

My right thumb, usually so active on the phone screen, is twitching a little, unused to this lack of activity.

Several hours later, back in the year 2015 with my new phone fully updated, it turns out that the number of emails, texts and voicemails I missed amounts to a grand total of zero.

That’ll teach me for not making the most of my brief time back in a pre-internet existence.


Blogging concept

This isn’t a post about the term mummy blogger. I sparked off that debate five years ago. A lifetime ago, in blog years. The blogosphere has evolved since then, although I’m sure the topic still comes up once in a while.

It’s more a post questioning where my blog fits in the vast blogosphere, triggered earlier in the week by a message from Twitter informing me that several people in my network we’re tweeting about mummy bloggers.

Twitter obviously considered it relevant I know this. And for a minute I hesitated, outside the local newsagent as it happened, bottle of milk in hand, and logged on to Twitter from my phone.

I wondered what was being discussed, if it was a topic I could add to and if I was missing out by not being online. But Twitter was too slow to load; I got impatient and gave up.

But the term mummy blogger has stuck in my head ever since. For the last couple of days I’ve looked back with fondness at the years I spent blogging about IJ’s funny sayings and the things we did together.

There’s not so much I can write online about her now she’s nearly twelve.

It isn’t just that posts documenting her latest obsession with Sims 4 would get quite dull and repetitive after a while. It’s more a privacy thing. I need to respect her privacy and, by way of example, teach her that this is the Internet and we all need to be careful what we put out here.

So that leaves me with far less to blog about. Or perhaps its more a case of working out what I can write about that is tied less to my role as a mother.

Which perhaps is really the issue here. It’s not about being a blogger or a mummy, or a mummy blogger, or not as the case may be. It’s more about the joy that comes watching your child grow up but the slight sense of loss that comes when they start leaving childhood behind.

And, perhaps even more significantly, where that leaves me, and one day, you.

IJ is at school as I type this. She often contacts me during the day but hasn’t today. That’s a good sign. She’s with her friends and doesn’t need me. It’s left me twiddling my fingers a little and wondering what to do with the extra time.

So I’ve filled it by writing a blog post that doesn’t really have a clear thread running through it. It jumps from one thought to another in a slightly haphazard way. It started with the word mummy and ended up talking about IJ, with her on my mind constantly as I wrote the words in between.

Perhaps I still am a still mummy blogger after all. Not that labels matter. I’ll just carry on blogging and see what happens.

Perhaps I could write a blog post about working out where you fit in in the world as your child starts to grow up and become more independent.

Perhaps, in a way, I just have.



in Help

Door handle

IJ was on the edge of sleep. I was sitting on the end of her bed relaxing with a book. All was well.

And then.

As if sensing our vulnerability.

Our peace was interrupted.

There was an intruder in the bedroom.

His timing was perfect, no doubt to catch us off guard, to wreck the greatest havoc.

A wake-up call perhaps, reminding us not to get too comfortable.

A reminder that you never really know what is around the corner.

That life is unpredictable.

One moment it was calm. The next moment, acutely aware of the intruder’s presence in the bedroom, all hell broke loose.

I braced to tackle him, all instincts telling me to do the exact opposite and run away. To protect myself.

But IJ was relying on me, telling me to help, telling me she needed protecting. And growing more hysterical by the minute.

He was forcibly removed in the end. I’m still shaking at the memory so will omit the details here.

IJ won’t talk about it today. After taking hours to settle, she’s exhausted.

I simply say this. To the next huge, black spider that decides to run across the carpet and rudely disrupt our evening routine.

We’re ready for you.


Tropical birds in Jamaica

Standing proud in the sunshine. I adore the colours on these tropical birds, caught on camera in an aviary in Jamaica.

So much nicer than the grey pigeon I’ve just spotted outside my window …

This week’s Gallery theme is: Colour. Visit the Sticky Fingers Blog for more entries.


Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

It was, without question, the most gorgeous beach I’ve ever visited and exactly how I imagined the Caribbean to look.

Sand the colour of light vanilla that sinks between your feet, palm trees lining the shore, and the sea so clear in parts you can see tiny tropical fish swimming beneath the surface and the curves of seabed below.

The Caribbean Sea, Cayman Islands

In the Cayman Islands, 180 miles west of Jamaica and 150 miles south of Cuba, we found a little piece of heaven. It’s the most beautiful stretch of sea I’ve ever swam in. Warm, clean, as close to perfection as you can get.

IJ, too, was in her element, catching fish with the little red bucket we bought from a nearby shop for just a few dollars. The beach felt safe and there was the added reassurance of lifeguards keeping a close eye.

Caribbean Sea, Cayman Islands

Our cruise took us into the port of Grand Cayman, where we’d chosen to spend the day on Tiki Beach, part of Seven Mile Beach on the western shore of the island. It’s regularly classed as one of the world’s best beaches.

iki Beach sign, Cayman Islands

While many of our fellow travellers opted to go scuba diving, snorkelling and turtling during their time in Grand Cayman, we decided we wanted to do nothing better than fulfil the ambition of relaxing on a Caribbean beach and swimming in the sea.

Watersports, Cayman Islands

So we did exactly that and nearly missed our coach back to the shore in the process because we were enjoying the experience so much, and also because IJ was reluctant to leave the water.

The clouds in the image below gradually crept across the sky during our time on the beach and just as we were leaving, we got caught up in a tropical storm. Our trip in late October was just at the end of the rainy season but we were mostly very lucky with the weather.

The Cayman Islands, Tiki Beach

Back at Carnival Freedom the staff welcomed us back on board with warm towels so we could dry off. It felt a little bit like coming home.

Then it was off again to Mexico and the port of Cozumel. But first there was a dance show in the onboard theatre and a three-course meal in the Chic restaurant. The rest of the night would be spent playing in the arcade, because travelling with an eleven-year-old sometimes requires a little bit of compromise.

We travelled to the Cayman Islands with Carnival Cruises for Cruise International Magazine on a six-night Caribbean cruise sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and calling at Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Mexico.


Falmouth, Jamaica

One of the best things about cruising is waking up in a brand new part of the world. After a day spent exploring Carnival Freedom, playing table tennis on deck, relaxing in the sunshine and over-indulging in the restaurants, we awoke to find ourselves off the coast of Jamaica, just outside the port of Falmouth.

The Port of Falmouth, Jamaica

After a day at sea its something on a celebration on a cruise ship when you first glimpse land ahead. We were hit by a wall of heat as we stepped from our air conditioned room on to the balcony, where we watched with fascination, like the newbie cruisers we were, as the ship slowly guided itself into the cleanest port I’ve ever seen. Admittedly that’s not many.

We were mesmerised for a time by the colour of the sea. There’s no filter on this shot. It really was turquoise.

Sea off Jamaica

We debarked to the sound of traditional Jamaica drums being played on the dock and quickly found ourselves amongst colourful market stalls selling an array of traditional gifts.

Then we were were driven into the Jamaican countryside, with only a quick glimpse at the obvious poverty that exists a short distance from the well-stocked shops.

Jamaica was hot but bearable, humid, full of colourful vegetation and absolutely beautiful. It’s red soil reminded me fondly of Africa, a region certainly close to Jamaica’s cultural heart.

Pink Jamaican flower

Our destination for the day was Good Hope Estate, a 20 minute drive from the port on the edge of the Martha Brae River. It’s a former sugar plantation set in 2,000 acres of lush countryside. Its location 600m above sea level meant there was a slight breeze, which took the edge off the heat.

Jamaica lake

We were new to the world of cruise excursions, but the attraction of the Good Hope Estate excursion provided by Chukka was that it offered a variety of activities and also promised to offer a taste of Jamaica. When you’re only there for a short time, there’s a definite need to experience as much as possible.

Dune buggies, Good Hope Estate, Jamaica

Bar at Good Hope Estate

Rather than attempt the dune buggies, the zip wire over the whole plantation and the river tubing, all of which were available, we opted for the more sedate activities of walking around the aviary of exotic birds, enjoying a Jablum coffee and taking in the gorgeous countryside.

Tropical birds

Swings at Good Hope Estate

IJ enjoyed the playground and assault course but was particularly taken in by Duke, one of the horses that took us on a carriage ride around the plantation, because he appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean, which means he has celebrity status.

Horses at Good Hope Estate, Jamaica

Climbing frame at Good Hope Estate

Not to be missed, once you’ve explored the grounds, is a tour of Good Hope Great House with its original orange cedar floorboards, rare mahogany furniture, lush gardens and stunning views over the estate.

The Great House, Hope House Estate, Jamaica

The grounds of The Great House, Jamaica

Built in the 1700s it’s the former home of John Tharp, the largest land and slave owner in Jamaica. IJ was most fascinated with the grave room, which really is a grave inside a house. It belongs to Elizabeth Williams, the young bride of the original landowner Colonel Thomas Williams. She died of malaria aged 24.

Inside The Great House, Hope House Estate

Inside The Great House, Hope House Estate, Jamaica

We dined in the sun on traditional jerk chicken. Had I been keen, there was Appleton Rum Tasting too, but we had a busy evening at sea ahead so it was best to stay off the alcohol.

We had a fabulous day and were made to feel incredibly welcome by the Chukka team. Good Hope Estate really did give us a taste of Jamaica, its people, its history, and its cultural heritage. Just enough to want to go back and spend more time there.

Martha Brae River, Jamaica

Next time though, I won’t make the mistake of forgetting to apply insect repellent!

From Jamaica we continued along the Caribbean Sea to the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited … the Cayman Islands.

We travelled to Jamaica with Carnival Cruises for Cruise International Magazine and were kindly hosted by Chukka during our time there. For more information about Jamaica visit: www.visitjamaica.com


Fort Lauderdale Port

It’s possibly the most excited we’ve ever been, waiting at Heathrow Airport on a warm October night for the bus that would take us to our hotel for the night. The next morning we’d fly to Miami International Airport then travel on to Fort Lauderdale and later cruise the Caribbean.

It’s somewhere I’d one day hoped to visit – the Caribbean – but never really believed I would. White sands, water so clear you can see the bottom of the sea bed, palm trees, island hideaways and sunshine. Who wouldn’t?

Private Caribbean island

But the reality is that I’m a single parent and my budget doesn’t stretch to holidays, let alone long-haul flights and exotic locations. Certainly not the sort you add to your bucket list.

So imagine our off-the-scale excitement, mixed with disbelief and slight bewilderment, when we were invited to spend a week on board the Carnival Freedom cruising around the Caribbean for Cruise International Magazine.

We said yes before we’d even seen the itinerary: Jamaica, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. All very manageable! It was, without question, the trip of a lifetime.

But first we had to get there, and I’m not a fan of planes, but feel the fear and do it anyway, they say, so we did. And it was worth the nerves.

Arriving in Miami at midnight our time to bright sunshine, we took an hour’s drive to our hotel for the night. Jetlag meant we were up early the next morning, ready to start our day at 4am. At least it gave us plenty of time to explore.

Fort Lauderdale

IJ soaked up every minute of it as we walked round Fort Lauderdale in the sunshine wandering into shops and coffee bars and admiring the yachts docked near what turned out to be a small private beach.

The trespassing wasn’t intentional, but thankfully no one said anything as we turned up at the edge of someone else’s pool. The jumper wrapped around my waist and out ultra-pale complexion no doubt a sign that we weren’t local and didn’t really know where we were or what we were doing.

Carnival Freedom

Back in more familiar surroundings on the road leading back to our hotel, we spotted Port Everglades, and in the distance the Carnival Freedom being loaded up with supplies.

Hours later, following an incredibly swift onboarding procedure, we boarded the ship to the sound of live carnival music being played on deck. And our Caribbean adventure began.

Leaving Miami

First stop … Jamaica.

Special thanks to the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Post Hotel and Carnival Cruises.

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