Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seven Years and Counting

Seven years ago today, I arrived on these shores to start a new chapter of my life. I had flown through the night from the southeastern United States to this lovely island where I live now.

This is a picture of the beautiful blossoms that I left behind back home in Georgia. They were at the edge of a field that I had played in all of my life. So right before I left I took a picture of them so that I could freeze them in time and remember them just as they were right before I left. I guess it was my way of holding onto a bit of my roots as I was preparing to move so far away. Also, we had just lost my mom so it seemed like I was leaving everything behind and it was a tough time. When I saw these beautiful pink flowers I felt happy and calm because nature can always do its work on me in times of stress. It's hard for me to worry about anything when I see God's beautiful work right in front of my face :-)

I knew that I was setting off on a journey in more ways than one and I was intrigued to see what would come...


When I flew over here to England, I left in the dark of night on one side of the Atlantic Ocean and arrived on the other side of the ocean in the light of the morning. I was glad to see Brit Boy and I was glad that I had arrived safely. We drove home from the airport and I walked into our little yellow house here. The first thing that I did was to go and look out of the window and this is what I saw in the backyard.

There were beautiful pink flowers here to greet me on the other side of the world and I smiled.
As always, nature brought me peace :-)

It's been an eventful seven years. I can hardly believe that that much time has passed. I've gained some things, I've lost some things, but I can honestly's all good. I can't complain. I'm grateful for life and I can't wait to see what the next seven years will bring and the next and the next...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hiring a Venue for Every Occasion

Spring has finally arrived, even though the weather may not be exactly spring-like in some places yet. However, I'm an optimist and I'm just letting myself imagine the warmer days ahead. Spring brings our wedding anniversary to my mind too. Hubby and I will have been married seven years in April.
The other day, we were out doing some errands and passed by the hotel/country club where we had our reception after our wedding years ago. They had a sign out front that was advertising a wedding fayre which is where you can find vendors for your wedding day. Instantly it took me back to the planning of our wedding and one of the main things that we had to sort out was the reception venue. I remember researching all over the internet for suitable places. We were always planning to have our reception in the area, but I let myself dream and see what else was out there too. I found myself looking at places all over the country and even looked for places for venue hire in London.

There were so many elegant and beautiful places to hire out for weddings or any event. It made me realize what a wealth of venues there are in London and all around the country. England has a wealth of gorgeous historical buildings and lovely hotels, so it's hard to pick just one place. And for all of you Downton Abbey fans out there, I think that I've read somewhere that they rent out Highclere Castle(where they film the show) for weddings and other events. So there are many locations to choose from for any event.

As wedding season starts up again in a month or so, a lot of brides will be doing what I did...looking at places and dreaming a little :-) After the cold winter, it will be nice to think of beautiful weddings and hopefully some warm sunny days!

*Sponsored post

Monday, March 18, 2013

Experiencing Life Abroad Through Extended Stays

Today I would like to share a guest post with you from Marcela De Vivo. She has written an interesting article about having the opportunity to experience life abroad through an extended stay. Marcela offers some really good tips on how to make your dreams of experiencing life abroad a reality without having to make a permanent move. So without further ado, here's Marcela's great article! Enjoy!

Looking to get away for longer than just a couple of weeks? There are a variety of ways to explore another country with greater depth than a brief vacation, but without the commitment of completely moving to another country. Whether you’re just testing the waters for a permanent move, or just curious to learn more about a country beyond the usual tourist routes, these extended stays are a few ways to “try out” a country for a few months to a year.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman /

Study Abroad

A popular and easy way to explore another country for an extended period of time is to study abroad. Studying abroad is a great opportunity for students to go for a semester or full year, to explore other cultures and earn academic credit at the same time. Many colleges have study abroad programs for a variety of majors; and going to another country for a few months while at school is much easier to do than when you have things like rent, a job, a family, or other responsibilities.

Studying abroad is not only for those in college, however; many continuing education programs also offer programs that allow participants to travel for a semester or more to explore another culture.

The key to a successful trip abroad (study programs or otherwise) is detailed planning. While many programs provide the basics like housing, major transportation, job/study program, etc., it is up to you to figure out other living incidentals like food, day-to-day transportation, job (if not provided), weather, cultural norms and language.
Ideally, you should educate yourself on some basic and important phrases of the country’s language and know how not to insult your prospective host(s).  Be sure to confirm your flight and travel details, even if the school is making the arrangements for you.
Additionally, you will need to make sure you have the correct visa to study abroad. Student visas allow you to stay in a country for an extended period of time, though you will have to demonstrate that you are enrolled in an accredited academic or university program. 
Some countries, such as the UK, don’t require a visa if you’re staying for a semester less than six months, while others require a visa no matter how long your stay will last, in which case a two to three month travel visa would be more appropriate.
For those who have graduated, or would rather travel outside of an education program, volunteering is another excellent way to explore a culture while contributing to their community. Volunteering abroad is a good choice for those who wish to make a difference in people’s lives, or to explore what it is like to live fully immersed in the culture, or to gain new skills.
Some volunteer programs do provide a small stipend (like the Peace Corps), but some other volunteer opportunities will require you to pay for the experience. That cost usually includes housing, food, major transportation, and also a donation as part of the volunteer opportunity.
Most volunteer programs involve teaching, construction, agricultural expansion and development, engineering, or animal welfare. If you are interested or have a background in these subjects, volunteering abroad may be a good way for you to explore or expand your talents while learning about another culture firsthand.
As with students, be sure to review the visa situation in your country of choice; while many allow for travel up to two or three months, review options for extension before committing to a program that requires a stay beyond the standard visa.
Image courtesy of africa /

Working Abroad
For those who either need or want to get paid while exploring another country, working abroad is a possible option. The benefits of working abroad, other than the income, is that it also allows you to discover the country on your own terms. You will have less of a set schedule or group of people, as is often less of a program. You will, however, also be much more responsible for all the details of your stay—from housing and transportation, to food and the employment itself.
Those best suited for work abroad programs are those looking for an experience for a year or less and would be comfortable in a service or labor-oriented job. As saving money can be difficult, depending on the position and the cost of living, those who seek to work abroad should have an amount of “cushion” saved prior to embarking on the journey.
The easiest types of jobs to secure, if you travel to an English-speaking country, are service positions. Teaching jobs are often in demand as many other countries have English language classes, and you can be qualified even without teaching experience as long as you obtain your TEFL Certification. As for working outside of education, if you are fluent in the language of the country you are visiting, you might be able to secure an office job, depending on the economic climate of the country.
In many countries you can get a work holiday visa, which allows you to work any job you can get, in any village, town, or city of your choice. Please note that working visas often have age limits. For US citizens, working visas are limited to Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea, as the U.S. government does not offer working holiday exchange programs with any other country.
Regardless of the type of program, if you are interested in extended travel, you should make sure you have your documentation prepared and valid for at least six months beyond your stay. Additionally, you should get a check-up and immunization for the country of choice prior to leaving—some immunizations require several visits over a period of months, so be sure to start that well in advance.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. Her writing has covered everything from health & wellness, tech and marketing. She’s had the opportunity to go abroad several times, loved each experience, and recommends traveling to anyone she can!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Bournemouth and The Jacksons

Hello there!

I wanted to share a photo that I took about two weeks ago when we were down in Bournemouth. It's a picture of the pier. I'm so late in mentioning our trip, but I've been doing school work like a crazy person lately so I haven't been able to get here like I want. But soon I will be back here full time again so...Woo Hoo! :)

Anyway, this is a photo that I took on my cell phone and you can see my gloved finger in the upper left corner. LOL. Yeah, I could have photoshopped it out, but I thought that it was funny to leave it because it reminds me of how cold it was that day. I took several photos like that because my hand kept slipping...probably because my hands were getting numb ;-) Yes, it was that cold! I guess that it was extra cold because we were near the ocean, but wow it was cold! It was a gloriously sunny day though. Right after I took this picture, Brit Boy and I hightailed it away from there and went into the town to get warmer.

As you may remember, I posted a while back and shared that we had gotten tickets to go and see The Jacksons perform. Well, we went down a few hours early before the concert and hung out. Bournemouth is one of my favorite places to visit. We did a bit of window shopping in the town centre and then we had an early dinner. Then we went to the concert. It was so great! This was our first time ever seeing The Jacksons and I have to say, they are amazing performers. You can tell that they have been performing most of their lives because they really know how to put on a show! I sang along to every song. LOL. They took us all down memory lane and it was an amazing trip. Brit Boy and I enjoyed it so much. We don't get to do things like that often, but when we do it's always a good time!

I don't have any photos of the concert because my cell phone camera is not that great, so it takes lousy photos indoors. Still, I'll never forget the fun we had so it's all good. And hey, if we get to see them again, maybe I'll have a new cell phone by then ;-)

Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Taste of Home

Brit Boy and I had a good weekend. He got a chance to go to see football/soccer and I got the chance to catch up on some reading for school on Saturday. Then on Sunday we took a trip to one of my favorite places. It's a place called Dobbie's, which is a garden centre, but so much more than that. I've written about this store before. You can check out that post here
I love visiting because they have a wide variety of beautiful plants and flowers and seeds and all kinds of outdoor stuff that really appeals to me. It reminds me of a store that I used to visit back home with my dad when I was a little girl. In addition to a wide variety of plants they also have gifts and things for the home. They also have a restaurant and a section with food.
Ah, now we come to the real point of my post. I was so thrilled to find the cookies pictured below.

I haven't had any Pepperidge Farm cookies in years...probably since before I came here. I've never seen any in the supermarket here, but perhaps I've just overlooked them. Anyway, I was thrilled to find them and bought a pack. They are so good and until I took that first bite I had forgotten how much I missed that taste. As I've written here before, sometimes a taste of home is such a welcome thing when you're so far away from home. It's been a long time...I need a visit back home I think :-)

Monday, March 04, 2013

Happy Birthday To My Blog

Today is an important day in my life and it all has to do with this blog. Today is the 5th anniversary or birthday of my little blog here and I can't quite believe that it has already been five years! Where does the time go?

First of all, starting this blog was one of the best things that I ever did. Writing this blog has been very cathartic especially in the early days and it has brought me such healing. When I started on this journey, I had no idea how much a seemingly simple act of writing a blog could do so much in my life. I can remember myself very vividly on the day that I wrote that first post. And in reading it back today it is like going into a time machine. I remember being in a state of mind where I was still grieving the loss of my mother even though I thought that I was doing okay. Also, I was recovering from an injury that I had suffered in a car accident. And I was trying to work through major culture shock. I didn't write it all out in that first post, but I alluded to it a little. If you'd like to read my first post you can do so here.

Even though I didn't scream it all out in so many words back then, I remember that time very well as I look back and I see some growth. No, I don't have it all figured out and I don't think anyone does, but as an ad used to say back in the day... You've come a long way baby!  :) I haven't really thought about all of this a lot because I've just been living my life, but I guess that's how it is, isn't it? We go forward and take stock from time to time, so I guess that this is me taking stock. Just like everyone else, I'm a work in progress and this blog has helped me immensely!

I had thought about starting a blog for a long while before I actually started. And then one day I just decided that this was the day and even though I couldn't have known what it would bring me, deep down inside I knew that putting my words out there would start my healing. I know it may seem like I'm making a big deal out of starting a blog, but I can't overstate how much of a lifeline it was to me as I started out.

I started this blog on March 4th and as I mentioned in my first post, there was power in the date. When I say the date, I take it into my consciousness and "March Forth" and to me it means to march forth into your life. Words definitely have power! I took a deep breath and plunged right in. And even though it was a simple act, it was my act of going forward in life. I could hear my mom saying to go on and go forward. My mom figures very prominently in the earlier days of my blog and I know for sure that having this blog to write definitely helped me to cope with her loss. I still miss her every single day and I'll miss her, my dad, and my brother for the rest of my days. But I know that writing this blog has given me the outlet that I sorely needed in those early days and I am grateful.

And speaking of gratitude, I want to say a HUGE thank you to you, my readers :) I appreciate your support so much and connecting with many of you through email and social media has been a pure pleasure. I know that my posting has been rather sporadic over the last three or so years. It's been nowhere near as frequent as it was in the beginning, but I thank you for sticking with me over these years. As you may know, for the last few years I have been taking up some university study so my posting has been all over the place and nowhere near what I would like it to be. But with all being well, in about three months (fingers crossed), I will be done with that and I can recommit myself here at this blog that I love so much. I want to return to the much more vibrant posts of old and I hope that you will come along with me as I reboot my creativity and share my little corner of England with you :)

So in closing I'll say...



Have a great day everyone and hey, have a piece of cake! :)

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Daffodils Are Coming

Happy March and also Happy Women's History Month!

Even though it's still very cold here, like it is many places right now, I still get optimistic when March rolls around because I know that spring is coming eventually :-)
Above is a picture of our daffodils which are getting ready to bloom out and that makes me happy and brings about thoughts of spring days ahead!
I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend. Brit Boy and I are headed out on a road trip over the weekend, so I'm excited about that. Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope that it goes great!
Until next time...