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


London and another bloggers meet up

Hello again! How's your week going? Memories of our London trip are fading fast so let's get some of the snaps out to show you what else we got up to. If you missed the first instalment of our break see here for the catch up.

The Barbican, and another post-breakfast photo shoot.

The Michael Kors jacket came in very useful as the weather was quite mild at the start of our week away. I did a bit of shopping on Oxford Street after my first bloggers meet up (see here) and found these trousers and matching top in Zara. The heavy embroidery transforms what is basically black velour lounge wear into a luxe item.

Most days we went sight seeing, saw a movie or went to the theatre and ate out. On Friday we went to the Tate Modern then walked across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's. 

Studio interior by Matisse

Coffee by Bonnard

A new addition to the Rothko collection, but I missed the title.

Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

Autumnal Cannibalism by Salvador Dali

From the viewing tower at the Tate Modern

The dish of the day.

Steve showed me where the First Dates restaurant is. I'm a big fan of this programme which is a new discovery for me. Just after he took this shot we were milling about trying to find the nearest tube station when I noticed a couple of young ladies in a huddle chatting excitedly. Moments later one ushered the other off with a cry of "Good luck!" and then I noticed she was holding a clipboard and wearing a headset with microphone. Yes! They were filming, and this gorgeous girl who was sashaying across the square was on her way to her First Date. As the door opened I saw Fred standing at the lectern ready to greet her. How very exciting! I snatched a brief moment of this on my phone and loaded it onto my instagram here.

Next day I gave Steve a break from being blog photographer as I was meeting up with my second lot of blogging friends. We'd arranged to meet at the London Eye to get a bird's eye view of the Thames. 

Bloggers Gail (Is this mutton?), Anne Marie (Mutton Years Style), Jacqui (Mummabstylish) and I putting our best smiles on.

We managed to cram in such a lot that day - a trip on the Eye, then morning coffee followed by lunch and a stroll back along the Thames for a final photo shoot. And all the time we talked. We agreed that blogging is wonderful for adding another dimension to your life as well as being the perfect launch pad for building new friendships. We all have things we feel less than confident about within our blogs and that's where these meet ups come into their own. We covered all aspects of blogging, finding each others input invaluable. Gail is the techie amongst us giving us tips and advice on how to make improvements. We were in unison in urging her to share these nuggets of information on her blog for her readers to learn. All in all, it was a great experience and one I'd love to do again.

On our last night Steve chose to eat here as the final hurrah of his birthday celebrations. Red grouse was on the menu, a real treat for this gamekeeper who'd never before tasted this special bird. Served with all the trimmings, it was pretty much the highlight of our London jaunt for him. He finished the meal with a warm rice pudding and figs drizzled with heather honey, and swore he could hear the bagpipes playing in the distance.

And this was my choice of outfit for a trip down the local pub. I had no idea if I'd be over or under dressed, but this was what I felt comfortable in. As it happened, I was pretty much in line with the rest of the women there.

The London skyline twinkles and shines in the night as we pack up to go home. It was a lovely holiday, full of good times and happy memories. We'll be back!
Anna x

Created by bo design