Let’s Focus on the Positives…

…I hate that Chris goes away all the time, it sucks balls and not in a good way (you know what I mean). When he’s not here I get all morose and mopey, washing my hair seems like a waste of good water and eating becomes more of an optional day time activity than a necessary bodily function (I know you might be wondering why this post is called Let’s Focus on the Positives – stick with me). Chris got back from Indonesia on Thursday and I was in a pretty bad way. It’s taken me the weekend but I have managed to get my mood a little more regulated, things look better today than they have done for a good couple of weeks. But the thing is, this is Christopher’s job (and quite frankly while I’m ramping up the old freelance career it’s COMPLETELY necessary), he’s been doing it for a year and a half now and it’s about bloody time I got sodding used to it. I’m not saying that I want to be happy about Chris going away – that would be weird and quite frankly a warning sign on the whole spending the rest of our lives together thing, but in order to level out my despair at his absence I think I need to come up with a list of positives to focus on the next time he goes away.

So let’s start; Five Good Things About Being Without Your Significant Other:

  1. Underwear Times: I’m not talking about using Chris’ absence as a reason for wearing all the comfy but shit underwear I own (you know, the ones with the weird pattern that hold the memories of when you first felt all independent and free buying yourself pants as a teenager, but which have since gone a sinister grey colour and are weirdly faded in the gusset)  – we’re getting married, I stopped buying lace underwear a good two years ago, if you keep that sort of crap up they’re just going to expect it forever. I’m talking about wandering around the house in it. You might think, don’t I do that anyway (?) but really unless it’s pre or post coital I tend to be fully (or mostly) clothed at all times, especially during the winter. Wondering around in a t-shirt and my pants would feel weird if Chris was around and fully clothed too, actually if he was also wearing a t-shirt and his pants it would be even more weird. But wandering around the house in that state of semi-dress when there is no-one in it but you is perfectly acceptable and more than a little bit fun.
  2. No Food Consultations: There’s not the whole “what do you feel like for dinner tonight?” “I feel like curry.” “Curry? Urgh, what about cheesy pasta?” “We always have cheesy pasta.” “That’s because it’s very very tasty.” “I still feel like curry though.” There’s just “CHEESY PASTA YEEEEAAAAHHH.”
  3. Work Absorption: Generally I work all day and then when Chris get’s home I spend the evening with him but when that doesn’t happen I have my evenings open to write and email and all sorts, which can lead to more productivity…but sometimes just a lot of time spent watching cat videos.
  4. Cat Favouritism: Not that I necessarily want to be the cats’ favourite owner but I LOVE that I am (love’s not a competition…but I’m winning). Little Gusgus just follows me around like a feisty little imaginary friend, and these days I can just walk up to my little scaredy cat Nunney and give her a stroke, which has taken MONTHS to achieve. Cat’s are fickle and I know that if Chris was the one feeding them and cuddling them at night they’d like him more, but he’s not, so there.

    Cats getting in the way of work
    Computer Cat
  5. Keeping the Magic Alive: Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer it if Chris were here all the time, getting under my feet, telling bad jokes, generally annoying and irritating me, but in the spirit of looking on the bright side I do have to admit that there is excitement to be found in his frequent absence; I get all funny in my tummy when I’m on my way to pick him up from the train station or when I get the text to say he’s landed and he’s on his way home. In fact I get butterflies every time I receive a text from him. I plan lovely things we’re going to do when he’s back, sometimes I do buy a pair of pants with a bit of lace on (as long as they’re in the M&S 3 for 2 section). I have plenty of opportunities to miss him and this means a constant reminder of just how important he is to me, how much we love each other and how lucky we are that this is the case. Abracafrikindabra.Two lovers in Paris

If there’s one thing I know about my brain it’s that it is inclined towards the melancholy, so hopefully this will be part of the training to get my mood at a more consistent level of contentment. I’m not asking to bounce out of bed every morning rejoicing in the rising of the sun (although that would be nice), I just really want my first thought to be “Oh! Another day!” not “Oh. Another day.” – if you know what I mean. Onwards and upwards people, onwards and upwards!

Dot and Lucy Engagement Photoshoot

 

Oh my God I forgot one! What I fool.

6.   Sometimes I get to go too! Now THAT’S a pretty good deal.chilling out in vietnam

See, once you look for one positive, you’ll find many more!

Travelling taught me…

…a whole heap of stuff! I haven’t really done that much travelling in my life. I’ve been lucky enough to spent a lot of time holidaying and sometimes living in Europe but my travels outside of this lovely continent have been minimal thus far in my life. So I knew that my trip to Vietnam and Brunei was going to be a learning curve, just not quite such a steep one!

Okay, here we go…

  1. Never carry your passport around with you when you’re sightseeing or exploring and always leave a bit of money and a credit card out of your purse and in your hotel room.
  2. I need a giant and gold Buddha in my garden…Get holidays tree! Travel, Vietnam, what travel taught me
  3. …To go next to me pink sparkly Happy New Year tree.
  4. I need to improve my maths to avoid getting conned out of the correct change.
  5. Food is just better when it is in miniature.hotel food, vietnam, cocktail hour
  6. Being in a completely blacked-out plane whilst it shudderingly and shakily descends towards earth in a full-on thunder AND lightening storm is HORRIBLE. Fully abused the free booze in the airport lounge after that experience.
  7. The Vietnamese sure know how to make a mausoleum.Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi
  8. Severe food-poisoning on a thirteen and a half hour flight is a harrowing experience.
  9. Air Malaysia toilet paper is proper rough…
  10. Money does grow on trees.Ho Chi Minh, September 23rd Park Tet Flower Markets
  11. Don’t look up the symptoms of Malaria and then consult your doctor about it – you’ll spend hours in A&E.
  12. Giving blood is a less traumatic experience than I remember it being.
  13. Hotel slippers are generally quite small.Small hotel slippers, Ho Chi Minh, Saigon
  14. There can be great inspiration in travel.travel writing in vietnam
  15. There can be great relaxation in travel.relaxing in vietnam
  16. I think out of all religions I’ve ever come across I like Buddhism the best.The temple of literature, Hanoi
  17. I need to take a leaf out of the Vietnamese ladies’ book and learn some self-defence.Vietnam Women's Museum, Hanoi
  18. I need to stop letting Chris take pictures of me.long-haul travel attire
  19. I’m a very lucky lady to be able to experience other countries and cultures. I have so much compared to some of the people I met on my travels and I should remember to be thankful for that every single day.Lucky lady in Hanoi, Vientam
  20. I’m not a born or natural traveler but I think I should see as much of this world as I can, to widen my mindset as well as my knowledge of the planet I live on and the world I live in.A gateway to the future.

Selamat Pagi!

Unfortunately there shall be no pictures accompanying this post because whilst in Ho Chi Minh City my handbag was cut off me by a gentleman (not so gentle) on a moped, who then promptly drove away with it. Let us all hope that his life improves to the point where he no longer has to traumatise tourists in this way, unfortunate bastard. Without my phone I was unable to take pictures and document the remainder of the trip, so you will have to settle with my well thought out words, good job I’m a writer.

After Vietnam I headed to Brunei, the self-proclaimed land of peace! It certainly is very quiet there but this by no means straightened out my learning curve…

10 things Brunei has taught me:

  1. Brunians love gold, they can and will paint anything and everything gold. Something I fully intend to apply to my own life.
  2. Watching monkey’s play in the wild is such a lovely, heart-warming experience. It also made me make funny noises – like the noises I make when I see kittens.
  3. The shopping in Brunei is ACE… and very sparkly.
  4. I’m really allergic to insect bites.
  5. Being a couple of feet away from a real live crocodile will make you want to sit on your hands.
  6. Air conditioning is a gift from the people, to the people, heat is a test from the heavens: who can stay awake the longest (I’m not a winner in this game).
  7. The South China Sea is very beautiful, especially when viewed from a cushioned sun-lounger.
  8. A successful politician either speaks without actually saying anything or just states the bleeding obvious.
  9. Very rich countries should really think about providing toilet paper in their public toilets. Really.
  10. Probably couldn’t live in a country where alcohol is banned for very long (I’m thinking around two weeks, max).

So that’s what I learned from Brunei but stay posted for a blog on what travelling in general has taught me, some say life is a stage, I think it’s class room – not that I learned all that much in school – I’m getting it all in now.

Xin Chao 2!

As promised, 10 more things that my trip to Vietnam has taught me! It’s been a slightly steeper learning curve this time…

  1. Vietnamese food knocks all other national dishes out of the park (or bowl, if you like).Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
  2. You can actually sleep horizontally on a moped.
  3. Vietnamese sun works like four times faster than British sun, you can literally get quite a comprehensive tan in around two hours.Sunbathing in Ho Chi Minh City, the Nikko Saigon Hotel
  4. Wearing socks with flip-flops is a total thing.
  5. Toilets that wash your bits after you’ve wee’d (and other… euphemism) are the absolute bomb – and provide a somewhat hilariously pleasurable experience.Japanese toilets!
  6. 5* service will ruin you.
  7. If you can’t haggle, you’re nobody.
  8. Cocktails drunk out of a fruit taste way better than cocktails drunk out of a glass. Poolside, Hotel Nikko Saigon
  9. You kind of have to admire the skill it takes to cut a handbag off a person whilst driving a moped.
  10. Vietnamese policemen LOVE paperwork, but they actually don’t really like work at all, but they really love 1970s Japanese historic days of our lives-esque programmes, but they don’t like doing up their shirts from the bellybutton down. Understandable.

There is definitely still more to come! Also moving on to Brunei soon so there should be a lot of learning happening there too…about Sharia Law…yep.

10 more things I've learned from Vietnam

How To…

…Survive long haul flights!

Last week I arrived in the amazing Vietnamese city of Hanoi, after around 28 hours of travelling. We set off at 5am on Tuesday morning and arrived at the hotel at around 3pm on Wednesday afternoon…scrap that – around 34 hours of travelling (if I’ve got my maths right, which frankly is entirely unlikely).

Now I’ve only ever done one other long haul trip in my life, a nine-hour flight to Calgary, Canada. It was pretty bad, everyone told me that it would be completely fine because I’d have lots of movies to choose from and could sleep the rest of the time or make friends with fellow passengers, that sort of thing (it didn’t help that I was travelling entirely alone). However, when I got on the plane I quickly realised that I was on the EasyJet of long haul flights, with tiny TV screens, sporadically placed around the economy class cabin, during the entire trip they played three films, one of which was Harry Potter (seen, like a million times already), We Bought a Zoo (don’t watch it, Matt Damon how are the mighty Jason Bourne fallen) and one other film which must have been really bad because I have irrevocably scrapped it from my memory bank. All the films also looked like they had been bought by one of the flight attendants on a layover in Thailand at what I can only assume was a particularly dodgy pirate DVD market.

Up in smoke went my optimistic hopes for making new flight friends when I found that I was sat next to two hardcore mathematicians on their way to Calgary for some kind of clever but dull person conference. They spent 9 hours discussing a complicated equation involving the letter C. That’s NINE HOURS of in-depth debate and argument about what “C” was, and 9 hours of me refraining from telling them that it’s actually the letter at the beginning of a word that would perfectly describe them both. By the time I got off this flight I was a mumbling wreck. I met up with a bunch of people I’d be travelling to the hotel with and we made friends (finally) but then after I’d arrived at the hotel, had a shower and came down to dinner, they reintroduced themselves – yes ladies and gents, I’d looked so bad when I got off that plane that once I’d washed and put a little bit of makeup on I was genuinely unrecognisable from the sweaty, greasy, mumbling plane person they’d first met. And they say you can never have a second first impression.

So, understandably I was not looking forward to a 12 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur (followed by a three-hour flight to Hanoi) and was determined to be more prepared than the last time. So I’ve put together seven tips on long haul flying, to help anyone who finds themselves having to spend nearly two whole days in motion:

  1. Stretchy trousers! One must have stretchy trousers, I refer to mine as ‘yoga pants’, basically elasticated waist band floppy things that Chris bought me back from Indonesia (I know someone else who calls them “Poo Pants” – better name). When it was safe to do so I removed my belt (I listen to the safety announcements) I went to the toilet to change from jeans to freedom. It was ace.
  2. Fluffy socks! Flights are cold places and the blankets they give you are like bigger but shitter pashminas so pack a pair of bed socks in your hand luggage – cosy.Fluffy Flight Socks
  3. Snacks! I didn’t know this but (and I don’t know about other airlines) but from the time you step on a Malaysia Air flight they behave as if you’re already in the time zone of the plane’s destination. Which essentially meant that at what was British breakfast time I was being served dinner, and then what was around 12am British time I was served breakfast. This sort of thing just messes with your head as well as your stomach and can result in a good 10 hours without a second meal so I recommend buying many snacks in the airport and then just eat when you’re hungry and don’t ask any questions. Best way.
  4. Cosmetics! Apparently long haul flights are really bad for your skin. There are millions of YouTube videos about it so I did my research and did my best to adhere to the skin ritual I had learned, I had to make a few bits up because I couldn’t be bothered to buy any new products which essentially just resulted in me having a really slippy face for 12 hours, however, it was a pleasant distraction from the boredom of sitting in the same seat for that long.
  5. Don’t try to look glamorous! I’m one of those people still suffering from the hangover of glamorous air travel. Actually I’m not old enough to have properly experienced this so it’s like having a hangover without the good drunk bit firs (but whoever remembers the drunk bit anyway?). I tend to think that air travel is some sort of smart event and try to dress as such but I have now tried twice to look like a glamorous mystery woman of the world when getting off a long haul flight and twice I have failed most spectacularly. I think I’m just going to accept that I will always look as shiny and greasy as an oil slick and deal with it. Plus when you look around, everyone else looks a wee bit slick too so we’re all in the same boat (plane).Malaysia Airlines Blanket
  6. Don’t go alone! Travelling alone sucks, not seeing lovely things in far away countries but the actual getting to those countries. I literally could not have made it through 34 hours of traveling all by myself, which is actually something that Chris does all the time, for which I take my (hopefully soon to be a traditional, conical, rice-picking) hat off to him.
  7. Travel with some one who’s freakishly tall! Another great thing about Chris is that he’s deformed (6ft5), which resulted in us getting awesome seats with epic leg space.

Early morning coach to Heathrow!

So there you have it – ram your hand luggage with stretchy trousers, fluffy bed sock, snacks, shit loads of moisturiser and a really tall person (they probably won’t fit that well) and the whole thing turns itself into a random motion movie day. Go get travelling!

Xin Chao!

I haven’t travelled all that much in my life so far. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many places in Europe but I’ve only ventured off this fair continent once before, so when the opportunity to go to Vietnam sprung itself into my life path I sprang back! For me travel is all about widening your understanding and respect for other cultures and getting to see amazing sites. So far on my trip I’ve been visiting lots of museums and temples in an effort to get to know more about the history of this beautiful country and its people, which I have but I’ve also learned an awful lot of things I didn’t know just by looking out of my taxi window. Some pretty damn awesome things actually – others just a bit weird but it takes all to make a world!

So here are 10 things that Vietnam has taught me (so far):

  1. JetLag is a mysterious and cruel mistress.Suffering from jetlag!
  2. You don’t really need specific road lines, lanes or junctions if you’re driving a vehicle with a loud horn.
  3. Whoever invented the selfie stick must now be disgustingly rich and laughing from his own private island where he’s hired his very own full-time photographer to take photos of him instead of him having to look like a twat doing it himself.
  4. You can in fact cook an entire pig, trotters and all, on a street sewage drainage grate.
  5. Hi Chi Minh or ‘Uncle Ho’ as they call him is in fact the Don of Vietnam.Uncle Ho the father of Vietnam
  6. You should never, ever pay more than £4.50 for a top ‘made’ by Zara, or in fact £5.50 for their shoes.
  7. Buddhism appears to be a very joyous and peaceful religion and watching someone pray can be a very moving experience…until they try to sell you postcards.Buddhist temple in vietnam
  8. You can fit at least three cumquat trees on the back of a moped.
  9. Why even buy a car when you can also fit a family of four on a moped?
  10. Vietnamese women make epic Generals and soilders of war. Fact.Vietnamese war women

I’m not even nearly done yet, having just moved from traditional Hanoi to the huge and modern city of Ho Chi Minh, stay tuned for the next 10!

#FashionFridays!

Go long…haul!

Someone recently asked me what I was going to wear on a very long flight from a very cold British 5am to a nice warm Vietnamese afternoon, so I thought I’d #FashionFridays it!

How to dress for a long haul flight

This outfit can be summed up in one word – Layers.

I am obviously wearing a vest, I wear a vest every single day of the year but I’m also wearing like a silky top/t-shirt thing (technical term), with a fluffy jumper on top, a jacket on top of the fluffy jumper and big thick pashmina on top of that! Once inside the airport I removed the pashmina…

what to wear on long haul flights

…and once inside the plane I removed the jacket (and replaced the jeans with stretchy waistband yoga pants – it was a 12 hour flight)…

comfy plane pants

…and once inside the county I just had the silky top/t-shirt thing and my jacket although I have no picture of this because by this time I’d been travelling for a good 30 hours and was therefore not of mood or face for photos.

I am also of the opinion that anything is smart if it’s sparkly. Casual sneakers are transformed to perfectly acceptable restaurant shoes with the addition of glitter (and some velvet ribbon that I use instead of laces):

Sparkly travel sneakers!

All in all the layers thing worked out quite well and actually it wasn’t half as hot as Chris said it would be in Hanoi, apparently it will be in Ho Chi Minh – I’m reserving judgement, the  man made me pack shorts but everyone here is wearing puffa jackets! Lesson learned – never trust the men-folk.

I’d also like to point out that I know I look like a strange deformed pigmy in pictures no. 2 and 4, but this is only because Chris is taking it from his full height (he normally bends down to take photos of me). This is a little worrying as to him I must look like a pigmy all the time. What strange taste in women he has…

#FashionFridays…

…got hardcore!

As my most recent blog post stated, I have recently returned from a skiing trip to Switzerland, it was a good trip but probably the best thing about it was that I discovered an amazing new dress-up character, though the medium of underwear! Now (before you jump to conclusions) I don’t mean knickers and bras, I mean the stuff that goes underneath your outerwear, vis-a-vis: thermals!

Katness Everdeen Dress-up

Those of you who have noticed the side plait will indeed have guessed that I’m being Katniss Everdeen of the oh so famous Hunger Games Trilogy (or if you’re a Hollywood producer the Hunger Games Quad…Quad…Quadrillity? Quadril? Well you you know what I mean). This dress-up costume actually came about completely by accident; side plaits are actually, in my tried and tested experience, the best way to tame hair into being obediently encased in a helmet. The thermals are of course Lidle’s finest and once I put the whole thing on I looked in the mirror and saw that my holiday had taken on a whole new meaning. I spent all my time on the slopes imagining being chased by fellow desperate killers and singing Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat in my head. Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t be a real Katniss without a weapon. I have always wanted to try archery, but that’s more of a kick ass medieval warrior queen fantasy thing and seeing as I do not yet have that skill I decided to use the only weapon at my disposal…

Katniss Everdeen Costume...with knitting

…my knitting! And actually I think if knitting were adopted as a more popular weapon in modern warfare the whole world would be a much better and much woolier place. In fact that wool was used to knit a sparkly tea cosy covered in hearts (which by the way can be found on Etsy very shortly!), the perfect weapon in teaching a broken world that drinking tea together is the true path to loving and accepting each other. I digress. Anyway, look at my proud chins, I could definitely defeat any dictator leader of some American utopian capital.

There’s only one problem: saving Panem can only happen before a days skiing, because I get a bit sleepy afterwards…

It's tiring being kickass

Being kick ass is hard work. Tired chins.

How to…

…holiday with anxiety and depression!

The world's fluffiest cat
Cat’s help, obviously

In mid December I was feeling really good. I felt that I had my darkness mostly under control and I hadn’t had to pop a propranolol for a while. I was feeling hopeful about the future and ready to set to work as a freelance writer in January. Life was looking up, and then something weird happened, I completely fell apart. On the 22nd I took to my bed with wild crying eyes, begging Chris to come home from work because I just couldn’t be alone. I was so scared, and of what I just didn’t know. Until I realised it was Christmas – I was scared of Christmas. What a fucked up situation!

It’s not usual that one is scared of Christmas but when you break it down it is sort of frightening; bright and often flashing lights everywhere, copious hugs and awkward hellos with distant family members who you’d rather not have to touch at all; the stress of watching someone open your present when you’re really not sure if you’re going to get the genuine “thanks!” or the not so genuine “oh, thaaaanks”; the stress of indeed getting the “oh, thaaanks” when said parcel is eventually exposed. And, I just have to be brave and say this…I hate Christmas dinner. It’s just a bigger Sunday lunch! I feel like Christmas calls for the kind of meal that you don’t have once a week, it’s special, it’s one day out of 365, what about a nice truffle risotto? Or a tasty Beef Wellington? Fondue! Just something that you don’t have every week for the rest of the year. Perhaps I should just change Sunday dinner to a weekly Fondue and then Christmas dinner really would feel like a treat. Although you would probably have to roll me to the table because after a year of weekly fondues I would indeed be a very large Milly Marble. And really good at solving countryside murders – obviously.

So what did I do? I took it easy actually, I took it all in my stride, not anyone else’s. At first I felt stupid and guilty for not being able to enjoy a time of year I usually relish and look forward to but that kind of emotion really did not help the situation. So I took time out from the festivities when I felt I needed to. That and I made sure a glass of fizz was always within reach. Dear readers I would love to tell you that alcohol didn’t help but alas, that would be an untruth.

So when Christmas was over, I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove away from the Uk and on to Switzerland, on a skiing holiday, for the New Year. I haven’t been able to go skiing for about 2 years and being spoiled as I am and used to at least one annual trip to the snow, I was really looking forward to getting back out on the slopes. But when I got there I found that I was racked with guilt. Holidays seemed to be things for people who work and I don’t have a job. But my sister put it quite succinctly when she said “but you have been working hard, you’ve been working hard at getting better and that’s a pretty full-time job.” It took me a while but I did eventually settle into the idea that just because I hadn’t been working in a 9-5 job, I did deserve a break, or at least I definitely did not not deserve one, if you know what I mean? So I let go a little bit. I counted my blessings and tried to enjoy them.

Happy couple on a sunny ski holiday

And I stopped putting pressure on myself to enjoy things that I felt I should, for example New Years Eve – I have always hated New Years Eve but always felt that if I treated it as any other night and went to bed when I felt like it, I would be missing out on something but I actually had the best New Years Eve I’ve ever had. We went to watch a band in a local bar at about 5.30pm, who were so bad that they managed to clear the entire place, when we got up to leave the guitarist said that we couldn’t go because we were the only ones left and that if we agreed to stay he’d buy us another drink! He then gave Chris the tambourine and we all joined in with the last couple of songs until the poor musicians really did have to admit defeat and pack up. Then we went home, I changed into my special New Years Even lounge outfit (stretch waist band), we had a great meal and then watched a Julie Walters documentary at which I laughed until I cried and then at 11pm we all went to bed. At 12am the fireworks woke me up but then I went back to sleep and we got up nice and early to catch the first lift up the mountain whilst everyone else nursed their New Year hangovers. Gloat.

My glamorous New Years Eve outfit
My glamorous New Years Eve outfit

This holiday season was a lesson in letting go. Opening up to the way I was feeling and just trying to be okay with that, by doing that I naturally let the better feelings in and the bad ones sort of seeped away. It did take the entire holiday to learn something I wish I’d know on the first day but now I know for next time – roll on honeymoon!

family ski holiday fun

The City of True Love…

…Amsterdam!

City breaks have often disappointed me. I watch films like Midnight in Paris and the dozen or so Audrey Hepburn films set in the same town and think “Oh Dahling, it will be simply DIVINE! Let’s pop on a little plane and go and visit the famous (and terribly chic) City of Love!” Christopher dutifully follows suit and while I get excited about outfits he does all the boring things like book the flights (we have a great team work thing going on in the CooperKelly household). So we get to Paris in a cloud of excitement and romance and look for all the places we’ve seen in the movies only to find that actually there are about 3 or 4 picturesque places in Paris, all of which are hard to locate and take at least a 15 minute journey on the sweaty, smelly Metro to find and all of which a rammed with other similarly excited but strangely disappointed tourists. I don’t react very well to crowds at all, I think the best way to describe my reaction is probably Rain Man – if the sweaty transport and crowds didn’t kill the romance already, Rain Man definitely will.

Apparently the most exciting thing that Chris and I found in Paris.
Apparently the most exciting thing that Chris and I found in Paris.

It turns out that Paris is just another city, full of lovely old buildings, over-priced restaurants and expensive shops – like every other city really (except Milton Keynes), and when producers make movies they choose all the best parts of Paris, close them to tourists, sweep the tramps off the street and pretend the whole of Paris looks just as peaceful and well-lit as this one perfectly organised corner. Disappointing.

So when Chris mentioned we organise another city break I was a wee bit sceptical; I reminded him of the crowds, the sore feet, the 7 Euro glass of orange juice, Rain Man, but he would persist saying that Amsterdam would be a much better city to visit, in which we would have a much better time (plus after three years together he has learned that all it takes to combat Rain Man is the swift removal of my rocking body from the stressful crowd and its quick deposit in the nearest bar furnished with the ability to produce Prosecco and/or gin in less that 2 minutes). And wouldn’t you know it the boy was completely right (I’m as surprised as you are)!

Amsterdam Fittie

We’ve just arrived home from Amsterdam and I can honestly say I’ve completely fallen in love with the place. This time I was careful not to watch any films set in the Dutch capital to ward off Three Streets Syndrome but it turns out that pretty much every street does indeed look like it could be the setting for a very well-lit love scene in a charming film full of very chic costumes! One night we went to a concert in the Botanical Gardens, we found ourselves sat in a beautiful 1912 green house filled with Palm Trees, holding a very generous glass of red wine and listening to a lovely dutch man try to play some pieces of quite famous orchestral work with the use of one rather out of tune piano. Okay so it turns out Beethoven’s 7th really is so much better with the use of a full orchestra (as was intended) but the effort was most ardent and the setting was truly magical. After the concert a lovely lady announced that there was an Edwardian Lily in the lily pond that only ever opens for two nights out of the entire year and that she suspected that tonight might be one of those very special occasions. So after the enthusiastic applause Chris and I scuttled off to the pond with the rest of the retired masses of Amsterdam (we always seem to bring the average age of the places we frequent down – by around 32 years) and lo and behold this lazy little lily had indeed opened its beautiful petals to the summer night. It was a quite remarkable experience.

Amsterdams Botanical Gardens

We went to a handbag museum (I nearly wee’d myself with excitement), had an amazing night drinking cocktails at the most superb cocktail bar (it was meant to be a pre-dinner drink and we left at 1am), saw beautiful and historic paintings, went on a boat cruise, drank fizz on our hotel balcony (and at every other possible opportunity), nearly got run over by bicycles, walked through flea markets and flower markets, I found out that Chris completely loves butterflies (a fact he has hidden from me for three years), and generally fell in love with the city and its citizens.

Love Amsterdam

Butterflies in the Botanical Gardens
That dark sploge on my belt is actually a butterfly! The whole thing excited Chris no end…

The Van Gogh and Rijks Museum

I would highly recommend you go there with anyone you love, or would like to love – a trip to this marvelous place will surely ensure that the wonderful feeling soon presents itself!

 

P.S. If you have any questions about Amsterdam please don’t hesitate to get in touch either on here or via my Twitter, @MillyCooper.