Unfortunately I was working Friday through Sunday, otherwise I would've been in London for the whole 4 days soaking up the atmosphere on the Mall where history was being made. I am so proud to be British!
The weekend before, I was in Windsor with a friend, taking a tour of the Castle. This is part of our ongoing touring of all of the Royal residences. It was wonderful to be in the Queen's hometown enjoying the sunshine and the build up to the festivities. There was a definite buzz in the air!
My favourite part of the Castle was the Waterloo Chamber room where we learned that behind all of those pictures, there are paintings and drawings from the Queen and her sister, as they used to put on plays to the rest of the family in that room. I also loved listening to the choir in St George's chapel and lighting a candle and learning that 10 kings are buried there. So much history, it's truly amazing!
Back to work today boo! I just cannot believe that this time last week, Mum and I were taking the scenic flight to see Everest. This has been a dream of mine for a very long time. The weather was perfect as you can see from the photo and it was so worth the extremely early start. It surprised me that we had to check in like a regular flight. It's all taken very seriously. I guess considering where we are and how quickly the flight could go wrong, that's a good thing. Our landing into Kathmandu was pretty rocky and that's the first time I've ever really worried about being on an aircraft - and I've been on some dodgy flights!
The rest of Nepal - Pokhara and Chitwan - was a whirlwind of enjoyment and lovely hospitality at stunning accommodations (Pavillions - The Farm and Tiger Tops), long drives on bumpy and broken roads (it's so wonderful to be travelling again!), mooching around Pokhara the much more chilled out sister to Kathmandu, temples, pagodas and boat rides, getting lost trying to find Tiger Tops, just missing a male tiger bathing, sweating on safari (again, so fab to be back travelling!) and ending our stay in Nepal with a walk with the mahouts and their elephants down to the river for them to bathe, whilst we enjoy a perfect sundowner to celebrate 3 weeks of amazing adventures on the road. I mean, what could be better than that!
wonderful to get away from the town and noisiness and watch the tea pickers in the sunshine though.
We then had a short pitstop in Gangtok in Sikkim just because and nearly got stuck when heavy rain flooded the river and broke some of the bridges! It was lovely to be welcomed as the first British tourists they have seen for two years.
After Gangtok, we arrived in Kalimpong and met up with new found family. That was really special. We visited Dr Grahams famous school where my Nanna went 100 years ago and St Joseph's Convent where my Grandpop's sisters went. We found my Great Grandfather's estate - which called into question whether he did live in Darjeeling - and my Great Great Grandmother's grave along with her boyfriend's! The villagers who remember my Great Grandfather, were able to give us bits and pieces of information, but there is so much more to discover. It's rumoured it takes two days to ride around the estate on horseback. Unfortunately the Indian government claimed the land from my Grandpop's sister who remained in India and now use it for farming. The villagers don't hesitate to ask us why we never claimed the land and sadly because my Great Aunt has now passed, we don't have answers for them. I was gutted we ran out of time and the mist was descending rapidly. We did learn that most of the bungalows from the estate were burned to the ground in the 1986 riots when the local people wanted independence from West Bengal. This was another piece of devastating news, along with the fact that nobody seems to know where my Great Grandfather's grave is. I think I have more questions than answers from this trip!
Staying in the Mayfair Himalayan hotel which my relatives used to own and run was some consolation. I tried to soak up as much of the history as I could despite the hotel being full of conference types. I definitely would have liked to have seen it pre Mayfair ownership.
could be snakes. 47 Beniapukar Road is officially a transport police station now and we so nearly missed the house. Luckily we had the photo you see above and some of the officers pointed us in the right direction. It was a really special moment for mum, one that is hard to put into words. I guess there are no words. I was just happy to be a part of that moment.
The train was fabulous if not a little noisy with the horn blaring all of the time. The train runs right alongside normal village and town life - sometimes too close - so that horn has to be alerting people! It was a little different to the calm app Darjeeling train ride mum and I listened to the night before to get us in the mood. Again, another wonderful memory for mum to rekindle though.
Leading up to this trip, I've been convinced that until we actually land in Calcutta, I won't believe we are finally able to do this. Covid aside, it was already a mammoth trip to plan.. building in rest days, trying to get the time off work, making sure we visited the essential destinations to trace our family history and meet family we've never met before, but also to throw in some sightseeing as well. Logistics have been more complicated thanks to the pandemic and the shortage of flight options have meant more days travelling. It's been a mission, that's for sure! But here we are, finally!
Amidst the struggles trying to keep myself well without medication post my latest hospital admission and trying to advocate for myself and feeling very vulnerable and alone, I've been researching the Cresswell's in the book you see in the picture. This is my mum's father's family line and the one we are focusing on whilst on our trip. I've also been catching up with stuff I had to postpone due to hospital - dinner with friends, getting a quote to replace my porch door that was smashed to smitherines, getting my car MOTd, test driving a new SUV in preparation for being a mum (if that is ever going to happen - trying to keep the faith), pamper session with a haircut and colour, contacting a cat sitter, building a new bookcase for my bedroom, getting the back garden up to scratch, sorting out my typhoid booster which I've left to the last minute and filling out the numerous forms for our travels... you know, just a few things to keep me occupied.
In a bid to visit all of the palaces and residences of the Royal family and to learn more about them, my friend Claire and I took a trip to Hampton Court on Sunday. I wanted something a little bit special for this trip, so hired a private guide to take us around. He was excellent and full of interesting facts and information, pointing out things we wouldn't see on our own, or even with an audio guide.
And I finally got to do the maze, which has been a childhood dream of mine!
Work has died back to being agony aunts and uncles with covid questions, Omicron and the re-introduction of the red list, so I've taken the plunge and submitted my itinerary for India and Nepal in March next year to get costed up. I have the three weeks off and mum and I still really want to do this. Let's hope we can find a window of opportunity!
I'm working super hard to stay in my "adult" and not lose my way with dissociation whilst the fertility mental health hoops continue to spin around me. I'm seeing my therapist more regularly at the moment as part of my safety plan. We're having some really good sessions, pivotal in fact. I feel seen and heard and understood. It makes all the difference in the world, even though it's just one person seeing me and hearing me and understanding me. Having a safe space that I can fully trust in, well, there are no words for how comforting and reassuring and life affirming that is.
We had a full day East Island tour last Tuesday where one of the highlights for me was seeing the cute A Framed houses in Santana. Wednesday was Netflix, naps and massages and then Thursday, we headed out to Nun's Valley and finished with beautiful views of Funchal, before flying home that evening.
I was straight back into the frustrations of jumping through mental health hoops on Friday when I had a home visit with my care co-ordinator. I was hoping to start fertility treatment and have my first try at IUI by now. Thank god for the travels which help ground me, otherwise I think I would be really in a bad state.
It's been a whirlwind of fun in Lisbon and Madeira so far...
We've eaten and drunk our way around Lisbon and what a marvellous way to see a city and understand it's culture through its food! We've toured some of Sintra village - Pena Palace and Reglais Palace - and took a drive to Cascais to see Cabo de Roc. We also did a cooking class where we made a 3 course dinner and it was wonderful to be able to cook with my mum, something we both enjoy doing together.
And that was just Lisbon!
Next up, Madeira, where we're staying at the beautiful Quinta Da Casa Branca in Funchal. On Saturday we took a scenic island tour by motorbike and Monday, we headed up to the famous Monte area and then took a wild toboggan sledge ride 2km downhill!
I made sure to build in rest days for both of us and the combination of touring every other day has worked really well. We're having the best time so far.
We are finally in Lisbon on our 10 day tour of Lisbon and Madeira! There was a lot of paperwork to do and making it digital was also harder than it should have been. We had to take PCR tests, show proof of vaccination status, fill out passenger locator forms, download apps and fill out BA's VeriFly system all before we could check in online. It was a list of what to do, when, and working through. I don't know how my mum would've coped doing it on her own. I don't think she would've been able to! Still, Terminal 5 at Heathrow and BA check in were much better organised than last September when we flew to Venice, so that's a thumbs up.
It's been hard work getting to this point. The paperwork has been a welcome distraction. My nerve endings have felt fried and I've been agitated as hell. I don't know why. I've been really looking forward to our trip and I've even started prepping the front bedroom for decorating. I guess it might be something to do with not knowing what's going on with my fertility treatment, now that my consultant has done a U turn on when I can start the process, due to my mental health reports.
I'm going to try not to worry about it and just enjoy this long awaited, "we didn't know if it would actually happen", holiday!
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.