Trip of a lifetime - part five

Day two of the JD Williams film shoot in Cape Town took place over two locations, here at the Dairy Shed and at an outdoor studio which I'll show you later. This was the base for hair, make-up and wardrobe as well as the site for photos and film plus interviews, so it was pretty much the hub. The day had started out being dull and wet, but by the time the first lot of filming was taking place it was seriously hot. When I dodged outside to take some photos I was advised to wear a hat so that I wouldn't get sun burnt. The landscape looked just like the lush green of the UK, but there again, perhaps that was the whole point - to recreate a lovely spring day in the middle of January!

This sight was just like home from home for me. Both the Agapanthus flowers and the Eucalyptus trees are to be found on the island where I live. 

And this was Operation Central. The Dairy Shed was a wonderful cool sanctuary no matter how hot it got outside. There was wardrobe, hair and make-up stations and a restaurant where all the crew convened for lunch from both venues. We had a lot of extras on this day for one of the film scenes so we had quite a crowd assembled by mid-day. 

Louise is one of JD Williams permanent models who has worked for them long term too. She is the archetypal English Rose of a model and as such, was in front of the cameras almost all day - how she didn't wilt in the sunshine I just don't know! This was the typical flurry of activity needed to prep her ready for her change of wardrobe for her next scene.

The word flawless, comes to mind.

This is Sian Moss, who was my make-up artist over this shoot. I use the term artist specifically to describe the skillful way she applies the make-up. Sian spends almost as much time sitting back and observing as she does painting on her chosen colours. There's no chit-chat with her as Sian gives her full concentration to the task in hand. There's a real pleasure in handing yourself over to her, knowing that she is out to create the very best version of oneself. The face, to her, is a blank canvas, one that she can visualise as she works away, painting on the right shades and tones to compliment hair and features.

Sian has played up my eyes and helped to restore a fresh look to my skin all through the power of make-up. In due course I hope to feature Sian on my blog so that I can pick her brains for some beauty tips.

I was dressed to keep cool and this outfit worked fine. The skirt was a charity shop find, as was the turquoise top. The embroidered top is from H&M, but again was pre-loved. And my sandals were bought from Primark a couple of summer's ago.

Rose petals had been brought in freshly picked that morning for the big film shoot that afternoon. 

Lights, soundtrack, action and all that jazz!

My photo shoot and interviews took place at the Dairy Shed towards the end of the day and I must admit most of the time I was thinking about this amazing backdrop, Studio 26, where the film crew were based for the majority of the day. We had whizzed past the outdoor studio in the early morning, but I myself wasn't part of the cast who was filmed there. Later on I managed to blag a trip up there when the crew were relocating for the last shoot of the day. I forgot to mention my lovely Cape Town beach bag which I bought at the top of Table Mountain - happy memories for me every time I spend a day at the beach with this!

We arrived at dusk just as one shoot was finishing. Louise had been strutting up and down those stairs like a good un! Richie was my guide on the set, showing me behind the scenes and keeping me out of trouble. Once the sun dropped there was a quick reshuffle to another corner of the studio for the final shoot.

The stylist Aldene and her assistant Nicky were trying to keep the model warm as the temperatures dropped rapidly once the sun had set. A coat was found to bundle her up as the lighting and set was tweaked. I had no idea how complex and time consuming this could be until I was involved. Filming seems to take forever!

It was coming up to about 10 o'clock by this time when a few of us were offered a lift back to the hotel. My need to spend time in the pink paradise was well and truly fulfilled by then so I jumped at the chance. There was a wrap party arranged in a bar in Cape Town which Louise and I were both in a quandary about as to whether we would go or not. As it happened, the rest of the cast were waiting for us at the hotel, so we had a quick change and off we went!

It was at the wrap party where I met up with Beccy who works for the production company in Cape Town. I told her of my plan to swim at Camps Bay the next morning. Beccy gave me lots of good advice, particularly on the safety aspect of my plan. Eventually we agreed that it might be a great idea if she were to meet me there and show me where it's safe. 

So this is Camp's Bay. Beccy's told me that despite looking quite safe, the beach is only safe to swim on when the flags are up and there are Lifeguards on the look out. Today, no flags, no Lifeguards, therefore no swimming. But all was not lost. Beccy took me just around the corner to show me a tidal pool that has a sea wall to protect the bathers. 

When I had told Beccy about wanting to swim here she told me it was far too cold, freezing in fact and that's what the Concierge at the hotel had also said too. This was me testing the temperature to show her that I wouldn't expire from the shock.

My best beach babe shot, hahaha!

Beccy was dashing off to work and I was due to meet up with the rest of the cast for one final breakfast so we said our goodbyes. How fortunate for me that Beccy's children are training to be Lifeguards which is why she knows about the heavy undertow and currents on Camp's Bay beach. I know there can be huge risks swimming from a beach that's new to you. Cheers, Beccy for keeping me safe!

Breakfast entailed a series of Ab Fab goodbyes (see part four) and Nicky from wardrobe was party to this one. I do think that he probably lives his life in the Ab Fab lane most of the time dahling!

After breakfast we had time for a final tour around the V&A Waterfront to buy some last minute souvenirs.

I would have loved to buy this large bowl, and yes they offered to ship it, but my ongoing dejunking at home reined me in. 

Paulina and I were flying back to the UK at 6pm that evening and had time for a few last minute photos. We finished our stay with afternoon tea.

We drank in the view for one last time. The holiday had been an amazing one, a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The venue, the 5 star luxury, the filming and photo shoots in such a beautiful country and the warm welcome of the people made this a totally memorable experience. JD Williams had really pushed the boat out for this campaign. I always have in the forefront of my mind how important it is to savour these moments. I treat every little escapade as the last one, knowing full well how fickle the modelling world can be. The English Rose, and the strong Afro hairstyle are defined looks, great looks in fact and as such there's always going to be a call for them. I know I'm flying by the seat of my pants. I also come home after every trip believing it's my last. Call it self protection, call it a reality check. Whatever. I'm very grateful for having had this opportunity and if it's my last whirl around the block with JDW, well, it's been grand!


and more planes

and one final little plane.

Goodbye Cornwall, goodbye to the mainland...

... and hello, Isles of Scilly!

The boat homeward was bittersweet. I was sad that my adventure was over, but also so happy to be going back to family, friends and home. The day job was waiting and I was ready!

                                                                                           Anna x


Trip of a lifetime - part three

So, here we are on the morning of Friday 18th of January as the sun was rising over Edinburgh Airport. The journey today was a flight from Scotland to Gatwick, the underground and then train across to Heathrow and finally the flight at 6.15pm from there to Cape Town arriving at breakfast time on Saturday morning.

Another day, another flight, another bag full of supplies for my journey, although excitement not hunger was bubbling in my tummy. This was it! All the waiting was over, at last it was time to fly to South Africa!!!! The flight to Gatwick was merely a hop, skip and a jump away.

I'll be honest with you, my new hairstyle was a bit of a shock. I've never had a fringe this short before and did feel very exposed - how can I hide my frown lines and wrinkles now? Steve and I had chatted about this beforehand and it seemed the only thing to do was "Own it!" and so that was what I did.

When I was strolling around Duty Free shopping at Heathrow, I espied the MAC counter and it dawned on me that my new haircut might as well be a springboard to upgrading my make-up too. The assistant helped me try out lots of new colours of lipstick and much to my surprise I decided to go with this purple, called (fittingly enough) Model Behaviour. I managed not to blurt out my story to the girl which was quite restrained of me. From there I decided to have some new eyeshadow too and chose the complimentary shade called "Can't stop, Don't stop" Dazzle eyeshadow. I applied some there and then, adopting this new image before I was due to meet up with the other models. A new blusher, and I was feeling miles better with my new look. Photo shoot here I come! 

After an 11 hour flight we landed smoothly at Cape Town to a beautiful day. 

Cape Town airport was clean and cool - welcome to the land of wall to wall air conditioning. We were collected from the airport and taken into the harbour area of the city to our hotel.

We all were clicking away as the scenery flew past us. The light was dazzling and bright after the overnight flight.

Located bang on the waterfront is the Table Bay Hotel, our 5 star base for the duration.

Decorated in the old colonial style, this hotel is all you could wish for as far as luxury goes. It was opened in 1997 by Nelson Mandela and has a plaque proudly displayed at Reception to this effect. Situated on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront the hotel is placed in one of the most prestigious locations in the city and sits in the shadow of Table Mountain. 

Five travel weary models in the lift on the way up to our rooms. Some of us (me) looking more washed out than the others!

What can I say about my bedroom - not too shabby!

The view from my bedroom sealed the deal - yes, I must, absolutely must, visit Table Mountain! It was with a sense of almost disbelief that I took in the sights from my expanse of window. How on earth have I pulled this off? What have I done to deserve this? I really can't believe my luck - talk about #pinchme #Imustbedreaming

We arrived in time for breakfast which was a huge array of every type of food you could conjure up for the start of a day. The plan was to eat and at lunchtime we were to be taken off for our wardrobe fitting and to meet our new choreographer. All was going really well, but by mid-afternoon I suddenly had a downturn health-wise. I think over the 24 hour period I hadn't eaten or drunk enough and had to have some re-hydration salts to get me out of the slump. The team were great and also contacted the hotel to get me an appointment with the Head Chef to discuss my dietary requirements. Once my outfits were all checked and fitted, I was driven back to the hotel to get things underway. For the rest of the stay, I had my own chef at the end of the phone as well as the chefs on set being made aware of my needs. Food and drink sorted, I was soon back on form.

Sunday was a day off for the models and production crew. We all had different plans as to how best to spend the day, but had agreed to have breakfast together. After a very long breakfast (4 hours in fact) where I'd spent time with each of the models from the early-birds to the sleepy-heads I gathered my things together and caught my lift out to the base of Table Mountain to catch the cable car to the summit. 

The circular cable car was cleverly designed to have an outer shell that rotated as it ascended, and dotted around the shell were several unglazed windows which afforded everyone the perfect photo opportunity as it passed in front of you.

I fancy that this will be the only one of the seven I will ever see, and somehow that made it even more special for me. What is also remarkable is that while I was visiting one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, so was my daughter. Sasha was spending her 30th birthday in Halong Bay in Vietnam - what globe trotters we are!

It was from this vantage point that I first saw the idyllic beach of Camp's Bay glistening tantalisingly in the far distance below. Little did I know, that the tiny little pool in the corner of the photo would be where I would get my one and only sea swim in South Africa.

Camps Bay has a glorious stretch of beach, but the waters can be quite treacherous with mighty Atlantic rollers and riptides too. It's patrolled by lifeguards who display flags on the days it's safe to swim there.  

It's difficult to explain the significance of this view and what it meant to me to be here, like this, particularly on my own. I know for most visitors this breathtaking sight is photo-worthy, but I had to stop to gather my thoughts and yes, even congratulate myself on being here. I felt such a sense of achievement at being not just so far away from home, but at having come so far, health-wise. Six years ago I was trapped at home, literally crawling from sofa to toilet, held hostage by bowel disease. My journey from illness to full health (documented here) was a huge learning curve, one which found me removing myself from conventional medicine after several steroid induced psychotic episodes. Modern day medicine didn't agree with my sensitive system, leaving me for a while high and dry without any way to get well or treat my symptoms. Determination to turn my life around fuelled my motivation to find a way forward, which I did. I make no apologies for the graphic details of my illness as sharing my story may help others to get well through diet and exercise too - the method is simple and the results are life-changing. So life-changing in fact, that I was a bit choked to realise I had come away from the hotel without doing any research on Table Mountain and it's facilities. Who'd had thought that six years down the line I'd be an ordinary traveller who didn't even need to know where the nearest loo was before leaving her hotel? I do believe that my life is all the sweeter for having been through this journey. Poor health is not to be wished upon anyone, but the upside of illness is that it gives one a different perspective on life compared to someone who has always been well. I savour my everyday life much more because of having lived with bowel disease since I was 18. Over 40 years of yo-yoing back and forth from doctor's to hospitals has taught me to be grateful for the simple things such as eating good food without any repercussions or being able to go for a walk without worrying about loos on the way. My life is a joy, and I'm so grateful for my journey.

I spent a couple of hours following the path around the top of the mountain and taking snaps of the surrounding peaks of the Twelve Apostles range. The top of the mountain often sits shrouded in clouds, but I was lucky to have a clear view in scorching sunshine - hat and long sleeves were the order as I was told not to get sun burnt for the photo shoot next day.

Once I came back to the hotel I met up with Evon and we went for a mooch around the harbour area at the back of the hotel. The choice of eating venues was huge and there was lots of touristy things to do, such as shopping and listening to music.

We stopped and sat for a while to listen to these talented youngsters play and sing. Evon and I both bought a copy of their CD - they call themselves the IThemba Ensemble.

After an hour or so we wandered back to our hotel, stopping for some more shots along the way.


It had been a long day. I hadn't slept on the overnight flight so after dinner in my room I took one final look at the view and had an early night. My pick-up with Evon was 4.25am the next morning, so I needed all the beauty sleep I could get!

                                                                      Anna x

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