Nearly time to go! I am getting excited now. Seriously, we are going to see elephants in the wild, we are going to get up close and personal with baby elephants, we are going whale watching and seeing the most stunning scenery, we will be experiencing a whole new culture, it is completely different from anything I have ever done before. If you missed an overview of our itinerary and fundraising details for my daughter's volunteer work then you can take a look here.
I have been reading other blogs, asking for advice, researching our destination and thinking about the type of holiday this is (i.e. not sitting on a beach in a bikini all day) and now have a pretty good idea of my travel essentials and what I need in my suitcase.
First of all I need lots of cotton and linen and outfits that are lose and cool as the temperature will be very hot and very humid. I have lots of dresses but also trousers, shorts and linen tops - I found Uniqlo the best place for these. I will always have a scarf/sarong in my bag to cover my shoulders, sit on or protect me from the sun and I have two pretty ones from Sweet Bea online (take a look at my post about bikinis, beach cover-ups and accessories here). I will also need to be prepared for occasional rain and colder temperatures near the tea plantations and I will pack layers, leggings, and I think my compact ultra light down jacket (again from Uniqlo).
Scroll to bottom for link to a great Hush sale dress!
I've mentioned this before but I love my men's trilby from Marks & Spencer, this dress is last year from Accessorize and this bag is also Accessorize.
I think I will probably take the big camera, but maybe the smaller lens? The scenery in Sri Lanka is so stunning it seems a shame not to use the best equipment to capture it. But I will have my iPhone for the quick snaps. I will be reading my 'Rough Guide to Sri Lanka' a bit more on the plane and I have made sure I have plenty of travel plugs (for Sri Lanka and Universal) as well as a travel charger for my iPhone and of course my trusty headphones! And I don;t know about you but my specs and sunglasses get filthy! Carrying around a bottle isn't ideal so I have lots of these spectacle wipes to take with me.
I will however need to fit in sun lounger time and will need some good books, my sarong to protect me a bit from the sun and a quick cover-up, and of course we are taking a lot of sun cream!
I will be taking this fantastic dry skin cream from Gem's Cream, this is a great all-purpose completely natural balm that I can use on lips, feet and hands (anywhere really) and is particularly good for an eczema flare-up. Of course I will need dry shampoo, the humidity and early morning starts will mean I won't have much time to fuss about my hair, so I suspect it will be tied up a lot, I have just had a keratin blow dry done to help with this! No glamour this trip! And I decided on the CC cream from Clinique instead of foundation, I always feel I need a little something but on holiday I don;t wear full make-up, and this one gives me a good SPF too.
This Sterimar nasal spray was recommended to my husband a few months back and has proven to be very helpful and we have recommended it to others, great for sinus infections and hayfever, it will form part of our medicine kit. We have Jungle Formula DEET spray and Bite & Sting Relief as we will need it! And then anti-bac wipes will be an essential in my bag, and I have a few small packs to take with us. There will also be essentials like Imodium and Ibuprofen but they didn't seem fun to add to a flatlay!
Sterimar Nasal Spray
I'm very excited about this little travel pack of essential oils by Doterra from The Rainbow Rooms in Marlow. I do get a bit anxious with travelling and don;t always sleep well but Michelle has put together some travel essentials for me and I can't wait to use them.
So that's about it, it's a good thing we bought some big lightweight suitcases, I never travel light! I have bought some of those packing cubes to make finding things a bit easier, I hope, as we will be moving about a bit so won't be unpacking properly. I also decided on a lightweight backpack, I can't see me dragging a stylish straw tote with me on sightseeing trips!
Scarf/Sarong from Sweet Bea (as above)
Hair ties (tiebandz from Sweet Bea)
Spectacle wipes (as above)
I will be packing some protein/energy snack bars as well as our Chilly Bottles - these keep water cold for 24 hours and really do work!
Have I missed anything that you think I might need? If you have been to Sri Lanka and can make any suggestions, do let me know.
And do check my Instagram while we are away as I will be posting or updating stories most days so you can follow what I am up to.
I'm leaving my son fully in charge of the house while we are away so let's hope I come back to it all being clean and tidy, washing and ironing up to date and the fridge fully stocked! Well I can dream! I suspect I will miss him a lot and be continually saying 'oh I wish he could see this / be with us to share this experience'.
Disclaimer: Some of my links are affiliate links which means that the brand knows you have come to their website from here and I may get a small commission if you buy something and keep it. This small income goes towards the running costs of my blog so I am very thankful for every click.
Previous posts you might like to read:
Bikini's and packing for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Holiday 2018 | An overview of what we have planned
Just a quick extra outfit to share with you, this dress is from Hush and is now reduced in the sale to £45 (all sizes available except an 8) This isn't the clearest photo of it but do follow this link and take a closer look, it is so pretty and it has pockets!
Marina Dress £45 Hush
Last weekend I had a flying visit to Dartmouth with my daughter. We left after lunch on Friday in the hope of avoiding the worst of the traffic but that wasn't to be and it took us 6 hours to get there! Not good at all, I had wanted to get the train but as it was a fairly late decision to go, the tickets were too expensive (top tip - book 12 weeks in advance).
We stayed at Just B who provide the bed without the breakfast! Good name! The room was so central that we were literally just off the main shopping street and two minutes from the harbour and River Dart. We were lucky to get a last minute reservation with it being summer and such fabulous weather, the room was quite small but we literally needed a bed and shower room so it didn't really matter.
Friday evening we had a very enjoyable dinner at Bayards Cove Inn and this is another good place to stay - they didn't have any rooms for our dates but my husband and his sister stayed there a few weeks ago and really liked it.
We started with breakfast on Saturday morning at Cafe Alf Resco because we could sit outside and watch the world go by! And they are dog friendly and provide a little portion of sausage for their furry customers!
With it only be a flying visit we then decided to visit our favourite place nearby, Coleton Fishacre, a beautiful National Trust house and stunning gardens on the Kingswear side going towards Brixham. We have been before when the children were younger and loved it so much, it was a treat to go back. The gardens are full of colour and flowers, lots of interesting paths and secret corners to explore, and they lead down to the sea and the views are spectacular - a word of warning though, it is quite steep coming back up! But it is worth it and do try and get to the second viewing point as well, you will be rewarded with the best view of the Devon coastline.
It is fairly easy to get to from Dartmouth, you can take the lower ferry over and drive but it will get busier in the summer holidays (expect queues for the ferry), you can get a bus but then it is a 30 minute walk down the lane to get to the house (not so good with children or in the heat) or we decided to get a taxi to take us door to door. Parking spaces are a premium in Dartmouth during the high season and we didn't want to risk losing ours!
Seriously how wonderful is this weather! I wore shorts or a dress all weekend and din't need a jumper at all. These are the Richmond shorts from Boden and I picked up this pair in the sale recently. My blouse is from Hobbs last year, my bag is Accessorize and my trainers are from Vionic - take a look at my review here.
We then headed back into Dartmouth for a wander around the shops, there are many of the big chains like Jack Wills, Joules, White Stuff etc but also lots of individual shops which are worth a wander around, I loved Escape to the Coast and enjoyed chatting to the owner who had relocated from near us to Dartmouth and was loving it.
Dinner Saturday night was at Bushell's Upper Deck - my only requirement was that we eat somewhere with a view and wow what a view! And the food and service didn't disappoint either, we asked for a window table and look what we got!
Sunday was extremely hot and we thought a river trip would mean a cool breeze, it didn't! But anyway, we took the ferry to Greenway to visit Agatha Christie's house. As time was limited due to our drive home we didn't go into the house this time, we just walked through the gardens, we then got the little ferry across to Dittisham - very quaint, you ring the bell when you want to summon the ferry and it arrives to take you on the quick trip across the river. There is a cafe at Dittisham, The Anchorstone Cafe, which has wonderful views but best to book if you can, it was too busy and we were unable to get a table, we will save that for another visit. They do run their own water taxi though so worth considering as an alternative to the busy ferries in Dartmouth (call to book).
On Sunday I wore a previous season beach maxi dress from Accessorize, with my silver bag from Accessorize (similar here) and my men's trilby from Marks & Spencer.
Then sadly it was time to go home, we had a late lunch at Beth's Bistro - another absolute gem to recommend!
I am in love with Dartmouth, we have been visiting for many years as we have family that live nearby but this is the first time I have actually stayed in the town which was extra special. There are so many gorgeous walks and places to visit - a walk to Dartmouth Castle is a must! And the views along the coastline near Dartmouth are breathtaking.
Dartmouth is ideal for families and children, romantic weekend getaways, girls weekends, as well as a longer holiday to explore the whole area. I want to stay at the Dart Marina Hotel if I get a chance another time!
PS Quick outfit post below - this top is from Hush and is so soft, cool, flattering, and floaty, it is cotton and I love it! I wore it with jeans (below) but also denim shorts. It isn't the cheapest at £65 but I think it will be a wardrobe staple for years to come - Hush Finsbury top.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, Some of my links are affiliate links which means that the brand knows you have come to their website from here and I may get a small commission if you buy something and keep it. This small income goes towards the running costs of my blog so I am very thankful for every click.
A couple of weekends ago I went back to the village where I grew up. I go back once or twice a year but for this visit we stayed at a hotel near the village and the weather was so wonderful we were able to have a wander around and it brought back so many childhood memories.
I lived in Bearsted from the age of 4 to the age of 14, so not a long time but those years were most of my childhood and my memories are special and my time living there had a big impact on who I am today.
I made two great friends on the playground at Thurnham Infant School and we have mostly kept in touch for the last 45 years since I moved to Buckinghamshire. Busy lives and young children meant we went quite a long time without managing to meet up, but now our children are grown-up and with social media making contact so much easier, we try and get-together two or three times a year. We always giggle - a lot!
I was so fortunate to have such a wonderful and carefree childhood. Growing up in the safety of a village community, surrounded by countryside and with my best friends.
Childhood friendships and so special and I feel very luck to have Nicola and Joanna in my life still. Our chats have changed over the years from boyfriends, to husbands, to children, to divorces and now menopause and aging parents but we still enjoy our time together.
When we arrived on Saturday the annual carnival and fayre was taking place on the village green - they were commemorating 40 years of the fayre and I realised, I was at the very first one - in fact our mum's helped organise it! As we wandered around the village on Sunday morning, it bought back so many memories ....
Cycling to Holly House Stores for our quarter of sweets.
Collecting vouchers and going to the village garage to collect our smurfs.
Sitting on 'my bench' on the village green and watching the cricket (yes I did have my eye on a boy that I really liked and yes he did come and chat to me sometimes)!
Fishing for tadpoles in the village pond.
Harvest festivals and Brownie and Guide services at Holy Cross Church. And my sister's baptism.
Playing 'It's a Knockout' style games on the field behind the church.
Making our 'pound grow' to help raise money to build a Catholic church in the village - we used to make sweets and sell them from our front garden!
My dad 'going to Japan' from the village station - well that is what my sister thought, he actually got a train to Heathrow of course.
Cycling very fast down the hill outside our house, which we thought was enormous, but looking back at it now, it is tiny!
The bottles of school milk waiting for us at Thurnham, sitting under the old oak tree at playtime and walking to school across the golf course and listening out for the first cuckoo.
Walking to Mote Park swimming pool via Banky Meadows, with my baby sister in her pram and my other sister sat on the front of the pram in a special seat with me one side and my friend Nicola the other side, both holding the pram handle.
Tobogganing at Banky Meadow! Avoiding the stream at the bottom!
Endless summer days in 1976 running under the sprinkler or in the paddling pool in our back garden.
First Holy Communion parties in our garden.
Buying sweets and magazines at Taylor's on the village green or Hoods on the Maidstone Road.
Decorating our floats for the carnival and loving the journey through the village.
The Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations and street parties.
So many wonderful times! I could go on but instead I will share my photos from our weekend away.
Holly House Stores is no longer a traditional sweet shop!
Not Dressed as Lamb
This week on my interview series I am talking to Jenni Donato, who has just launched her new coaching business, Chance Coaching, where she specilises in life coaching and supporting families.
With a young family to take care of and a daughter with a life-changing condition, she is truly inspirational in how she is managing to fit it all in. She has an amazing vision for her business and wants to help others going through a challenging time.
I stayed at home full time with my young family, my daughter was 5 and at school when we decided to set up our business so I was able to work during school hours and still be there for pick-up and after school chaos. It amazes me how well ladies like Jenni manage, I am not sure I could.
Please do take a read and find out a bit more and Jenni is offering a discount to readers of Fifty & Fab so if you would like to find out more or know someone who might benefit from chatting to Jenni then do please share this blog post!.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a wife, a mother of two adorable children, a sister, a daughter and a hard worker, and I’m passionate about helping families to find - and live - the life they want.
I left my career as an Environmental Consultant to start a family, however things didn’t go as planned and after my daughters life changing diagnosis I spent the next few years going through some very challenging times. However, throughout all the turmoil, I met some truly inspiration people and I am more determined than ever to raise my children right whilst following my dream to become a life and family coach.
And tell us a little bit about your business venture and what inspired you?
Choosing to have a family is one of the most life-changing experiences we can undertake. However, we get no official training and can never fully prepare ourselves for exactly how much our lives and relationships will change.
It is not then surprising that family life is filled with surprises and challenges, which even the strongest of us sometimes struggle to navigate.
I have recently set up a company called Chance Coaching, who offer life and family coaching to families struggling with unexpected challenges.
I also work with families whose children attend Chance to Dance, a dance school dedicated to giving children with additional needs the chance to participate in dance classes, summer camps and stage performances.
To hear more about my story click here
What does an average day look like for you?
At present my average day consists of an early wake up from a hungry 6 month old, who normally then doesn’t go back to sleep until my 4 year old shouts “It’s daytime playtime!”.
My mornings are then filled with food up the walls, mess in the house, football and swimming classes and general chaos. But also plenty of fun, cuddles and laughter until my daughter goes off to preschool for the afternoon and I get a valuable 3 hours (of relative quiet) with my baby boy.
Once school pickup is done, it’s then the daily rush of dinner and bedtime before I can relax and see what I need to do for my new business venture.
Evening are currently spent sorting paperwork, chatting to business partners and clients and applying for funding to be able to provide my services at reduced rates to families within certain eligibility criteria. My biggest aim is to be able to provide my services free of charge to families going through crisis to help them through their own challenges and create a better life for themselves and their children.
What has been your biggest challenge?
By far my biggest challenge was coming to terms with my daughters diagnosis. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at two and a half and went through a major operation to build her a working hip socket which would last as long as possible, hopefully giving her a pain free childhood where she could take part in all the things any child should.
During her treatment I suffered both emotionally and physically and, at one point, undertook counselling to come to terms with everything that had happened and what her future could look like if the treatment didn’t work.
This experience really made me reevaluate my life and pushed me to hire a life coach. This was the best thing I’ve ever done and - along with other inspirational people I had met through my daughters treatment - gave me the drive and encouragement to follow my dream of becoming a life and family coach, providing help and support to families also going through tough times.
What advice would you pass on to someone wishing to change career in midlife?
Just do it – and obviously, hire a life coach! Seriously though, coaches are trained in scientifically proven tools and techniques to get the most out of people and really get them to focus on what they want out of life and then how – in detail – to get there.
The one thing someone said to me along the way which changed my outlook on life, was to really picture who I wanted to be once I’d achieved my goal and then wake up tomorrow and be that person! I am now the person I pictured and I’m loving every minute of it!
Do you have a signature style, an everyday look that you love?
Currently I’m loving the messy bun and whatever I grab out of the cupboard look, but that’s mainly because I normally have exactly 2.5 minutes to get ready in the morning. Once my daughter starts school in September and my son is at the childminder I’m sure I will refine my signature style into something more glamorous than the ‘just been pushed through a bush’ look!
How do you balance your business with family life?
Despite having done multiple training courses in this very subject in order to help my clients, I still find balancing the time between family and work difficult.
There is simply not enough hours in the day when you are a parent, especially if you would like some sleep!
However, my best tricks are to only focus on one thing at a time and to give myself realistic challenges for the week – and write them down (both in my home life and work life). I do this by keeping a strict to-do-list and a very large family calendar. Getting a big magnetic calendar to go on the fridge and getting input from all the family members (well, the ones who could speak) was one of the best things we’ve ever done to organise our week – and this, along with a shared iPhone calendar with my husband, which comes with a rule that if it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t exist - has made a massive difference in minimising the stress around balancing all our activities, work, studying and hobbies!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Having my two children has been my biggest, and best, achievement. Even when times are hard, I’m exhausted, and my daughter needs my help on the toilet whilst I’m trying to feed the baby, I try to remember they are both miracle babies and are worth every ounce of effort. Just to watch my daughter running around with her friends after everything she’s been through fills my heart with pride and now seeing my son starting to develop his own unique personality fills me with excitement of the times to come.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In five years time, both my children will be in full time education and I would love to be running a truly successful life coaching practice helping as many families as i can to also fulfill their dreams. I’m currently undertaking a Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and hope to be able to plug the gap between coaching and counselling in order to help as many families as possible, especially those going through tough times.
One of my current areas is families with children diagnosed with any complex health condition, but my aim is really just to be there for families who could do with that extra bit of help to really make the most out of their lives and bring happiness and laughter back into their homes.
How can we get in touch with you and find out more about you or your coaching?
All my coaching packages come with a free initial consultation in order for both parties to decide whether we are a good fit and for a coaching package to be specifically tailored.
I'm also dedicated to providing affordable coaching to all, therefore, along with our partners and funding organisations, we can sometimes provide significantly reduced packages.
However, all coaching packages can be tailored to available budgets and individual needs.
Our three example packages can be found on our website:
And you can contact me either directly through my website or through my Facebook business page at fb.me/chancecoaching
I’m offering a fabulous 30% off any package of your choice to the first three clients to contact me and quote 'Fifty & Fab' after that there is still a 10% discount off the total package price to clients who undertake four or more sessions and who quote “Fifty & Fab”.
Thank you so much Jenni, you must be a very busy lady!
I have had some life coaching in the past and I can vouch for how helpful it is with getting you to focus your thoughts and make a plan. And working together as family, whether your family are young or growing up as mine are, seems to be a very sensible idea. It can be quite challenging learning to live as a new unit after years of being single or just the two of you and I know I have had some difficult times when my children were younger and if help had been available I would have grabbed it with open arms.
My one aim for my own children has been to give them to confidence to go out into the world and do whatever they want to do. I am so proud of them both. They are independent, capable and likable, they both know what they want to do and they are out there working hard towards their goals. It never ceases to amaze me how they grow and change, my son was the nervous young boy at the school gates who would often have a few tears when I left him and I wondered if I had done something wrong, I doubted my parenting, but he has grown into such a strong and determined young man and I have every confidence he will succeed at whatever he wants to do. Give them the tools, trust them and talk and listen but don't judge. That way they will always open up to you.
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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