Trip of a lifetime - part two

Early on Monday morning on the 7th of January I'd flown from Newquay to Gatwick arriving just in time for breakfast. I was on my way to the South African Visa Office to apply for a work visa for my upcoming trip to Cape Town. Directions were in my phone and also printed off along with every other document I could possibly need to cover the three weeks I was away from home. The trip to London was a real whistle-stop affair. At the last minute, just as I landed at Gatwick in fact, my friend Ann invited me to join her at home for breakfast. A couple of hours later she accompanied me across London to the visa office where the deed was done. We had a late lunch nearby after which she shepherded me back across the city to deliver me to Euston Station. By teatime I was on my way to Manchester for my Wardrobe appointment the next day. Newquay to London, apply for visa, then London to Manchester all in one day, check!

I spent the night in central Manchester at the Abode Hotel. The sight of this super king size bed, three pillows wide was heaven. Lay a bit of luxury on me baby, if you must!

And yes, a big echo-y bathroom is fine with me too.

After breakfast the following morning I went to find the venue for the wardrobe appointment which was only a few minutes walk away from the hotel. Next, well of course you know what would be next ... a bit of retail therapy! First a couple of charity shops and then TK Maxx. I was very restrained, but found one or two things that were bargains enough to warrant being squeezed into my bags.

I can always find room for another pair of shoes, or two!

It was great to meet up with Paulina again. We were both equally excited about the forthcoming photo shoot. Like me, Paulina works full time (she runs her own cake making business in London), but she has staff and therefore she too had cover for the trip. 

The wardrobe session over, it was time for the creatives to look at shots of the permutations of outfits on all of the models (there were five of us in total) and make some decisions. The tweaking and pinning are part of this session too, although the fitting of an outfit here doesn't always mean it will be worn by that model on the day. See? I'm gradually learning how very fluid this whole process is. Scripts too, can change right up to rehearsals so you never really know who, which and where never mind what is going to happen. By the time I got to the end of the trip to SA I felt I had learnt a lot more about the business than ever before.

By teatime that evening I was on Manchester station on my way to Scotland.

I arrived in Edinburgh about 10pm to find that my hotel, Motel 1, was only 50 metres away from Waverley station. The crisp white sheets were calling, and I didn't resist for long.

This is Milo, guard dog at my sister's house in St Andrew's my next port of call. Don't be deceived by his size - he's a loud and ferocious little fella. Entering or even approaching her house can be a noisy affair, but I can say that once the barking stops, he's a bit of a softie really. Between Wardrobe and departing for Cape Town, I had 10 days to while away so it was a great opportunity to visit Dianne and also see my other sister, Sandra for a couple of days too. Dog walking, charity shopping and lots of talking was how we spent our time together, plus taking a few blog photos too, of course.

I thought the plan was for my shoes to be the star of the show, but Milo had other ideas.

On the 14th of Jan I had another little train journey to make - back to Edinburgh for the night so that I could catch an early train to London to collect my visa. It was obviously vital to the whole trip that I had a visa otherwise I wouldn't be able to travel. I therefore arrived with sweaty palms and a feeling of dread deep in the pit of my stomach. These kind of things have a habit of going wrong for me and I can't help thinking that the pungent aroma of doom precedes me. Sure enough, on arriving at Reception I was tackled about why I was two hours early. Not only that, but why had I altered my appointment time on my paperwork? My response was that this was done by the Manager who had interviewed me as she agreed to an early collection due to the fact that I would be travelling all the way from Edinburgh. The ensuing phone call to her department announced that the woman at the desk (me) had altered her appointment time and was the manager there to substantiate my claim? No, of course she wasn't. The accusation was repeated to other operatives and my countering followed each time. Increasingly I protested, she objected, I became slightly more forceful, and somehow this resulted in my being allowed into the inner sanctum and directed downstairs to the interview room.

However, things didn't improve much at the next stage. I was called forward to the desk and asked for my receipt. This was a photocopy of my passport, plus a printed receipt with my appointment details attached. Why had I altered my collection time? Not me, your Manager did it. Have you had a text to say it's ready for collection? No. The passports don't come in untiI 4pm. Then why was I told to come at 2? I don't know. Neither do I. Much muttering to operative in the next booth. I was then asked for proof of identity.  You have my passport - that's my ID I chirruped. No, she responded, I need your ID, something else, your driving license. I don't drive, I don't have a driving license. You must have ID to collect this. But you have my only ID - you have my passport. I need something else with your photo on it. This wasn't going well. My passport has my photo on it - the receipt has my photo on it - and here's my face. You must show me photo ID. I proffered various other cards (senior rail card, Scilly Travel Club card) and in the midst of this heated exchange a mumbled voice came from the next booth. The interviewer's attitude changed from full on battle-mode to resignation to acceptance.  At last common sense had prevailed - my face did in fact match the photocopy of my passport and I was allowed to receive said passport with visa which somehow had magically appeared. Hurrah! I had defeated the idiocy of bureaucracy and Cinderella was indeed going to the ball!

I virtually skipped around the corner to the Montcalm Hotel where I had arranged to meet up with my blogging friend Jacqui aka Mummabstylish

We spent a lovely couple of hours together, chatting about all things blogging of course and then about my forthcoming trip. We've met before and it was great to catch up with Jacqui in person on her latest news - she's a grandma, being one of the most amazing things, as she looks so blooming young! Or is that just a sign of me getting old? We got the waiter to take some shots of us, but he missed my fab new shoes!

And there was the obligatory selfie of course!

I'd arrived early in Edinburgh the day before and what a super surprise it was to find a huge branch of TK Maxx only minutes away from my hotel. Somehow I got bit carried away and bought a whole new outfit to wear to my lunch date with Jacqui! 

Yes, these were too much of a bargain to be left on the shelf. So very me, I can hear you cry!

The next evening I was back in St Andrews for a couple of nights before it was time for me to make my final journey south. The day prior to leaving,Thursday the 17th, was a busy day for me as I had received a message from the client to say that they wanted me to have my hair cut and it took until the very last day for the instructions to come through. I had done my homework in advance though, and found a swish hairdresser in the town where I'd made an appointment with the salon owner Sophie Butler to style me up, ready for the shoot. 

Sophie did a great job, giving me a very sleek do which she assured me could be roughed up for a wilder look. I had to send some shots through to the client for approval before I left the salon. The cut really enhanced the colour too - no rinses or filters required, hahaha!

I'll be honest with you. I had deep reservations about this haircut. The fringe left me with nowhere to hide and felt very severe for my strong features. I think the style looked fabulous on the model in the proposal, but she was the right side of 30 with a heart shaped face with a button nose and cheekbones you could hang your coat on. Anyway, the deed was done with no time to think about it as I was due to catch a train to Edinburgh within the hour.

I spent the evening of the 17th of January in Edinburgh once more, this time out at the airport. 

Friday the 18th of January had at last arrived! I had an early start for the 8.30am flight to catch from Edinburgh to Gatwick and then a later flight from Heathrow to Cape Town. OMG, my adventure truly was about to begin!

Anna x


Not Square With Gingham - our Style Not Age challenge

Hello and welcome! Thanks for joining me today as I gather together my Style Not Age friends who between us are presenting "Not Square With Gingham". It was Hilda's choice this month, and one that had me scratching my head a bit as I wondered what to wear. I really only have three gingham pieces, one of which I've already featured on our monthly style challenge (here). With no shopping trip in sight and a clampdown on spending this month due to far too many expenses with out little motor boat, I had to give up on my idea of eBay solving my problem. Anyway, as you can see I've gone all bright and colourful (oh what a surprise!) wearing this floral gingham top that came from a charity shop last year, but more on this later.

Hilda wears gingham check fitted trousers by Puno Roma and a classic Zara shirt. Why oh why, does that half tuck look stylish on her and yet half undone on me? Hilda's feature can be seen in full on her blog Over The HIlda.

Emma from Style Splash wears a summery pink and white gingham skirt and tee shirt both from Zara. (Have these ladies both been cashing in on the Zara sale site I wonder?) Her sleek and stylish summer shoes are from River Island. Do pop over to see more from Emma on her blog too.

Jacqui has given us a double dose of gingham with these crops and matching brolly, but she's also added some pattern play by way of this sleeveless duster in summer florals - fab! Last minute photos brought about this weather-led shoot which turned out both cute and playful for her. See Jacqui's post on Mummabstylish.

My photos were weather-led too as I panicked at my last minute attempt to find somewhere out of the high winds and between showers to capture my gingham offering. Steve kindly did the honours in his lunchtime. If he had zoomed into the sea in the distance you'd have seen the white horses driving over the tops of the waves. Heavy showers for the past few days has brought inches of welcome rain to the UK which is long overdue as you can see by the parched grassland of Jimmy Cox's field. (Jimmy Cox is long dead, so we weren't in danger of being chased off!)

I pushed the boat out by adding these pop art courts by Chockers to my jolly vintage skirt by Jaeger. They cost £8.50 in St Michael's Hospice charity shop in Harrogate in the spring.

My gingham top is by F&F at Tesco's but was sourced in a charity shop last year. I like the feature of the split sleeve which was a great compromise for me when off-the-shoulder tops ruled the roost, but weren't my thing. The addition of flowers and greenery to the gingham appealed to my need to break with convention. 

Today's jewellery is all preloved apart from my favourite gold chain necklace which was a gift from Sasha. This pretty pink cuff is a recent and welcome addition to my stash.

My other go-to accessory has to be this pink stretch belt which I found on eBay a couple of years ago. At £5 the cost per wear must have dropped down into the pennies by now as I seem to wear this belt at least once a week - it's turned into a signature piece of mine - not the most stylish, classy or expensive, but certainly useful!

The final flourish to my outfit was my black net petticoat, adding fun and fullness to the skirt. The simple act of adding a net underskirt instantly adds a sense of occasion to any ensemble - a favourite trick of mine.

Thank goodness that there was no-one about to see this windswept scenario as they were out for a woodlands walk - what would they have thought?

Thanks for joining me today on this last post of July. I can't quite believe that August is upon us! The summer is rushing past me with so many things left behind in the rush and tear of life; no link-ups as I'm too time challenged; far too infrequent exchanges with blogging friends; not enough miles clocked up ready for my big sea swim challenge - oh dear, I must try harder. On the plus side, I'm drawing on my mindfulness training from earlier this year (see here) and remembering to take a moment which has been a life saver. The "musts" and "shoulds" and "have tos" are being dropped in favour of power naps, picnics and revelling in the outdoors life. Counting my blessings is a great way of grounding myself and stopping the runaway train of thoughts that can sometimes drive me to exhaustion. Summer on these beautiful islands is in itself a huge blessing and one not to be overlooked. On that note, I shall leave you, my lovely readers and wish you well. Downtime is just what the doctor ordered methinks!

Until next time, take care!
Anna x

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