We recently got back from what will go down in history as one of the best holidays of my life. No, the best holiday of my life (to date). Granted, I have a whole lifetime of holidays still to come, but this one was truly special and for so many different reasons.
First of all, I got engaged. Did I mention that? Not sure if I have. Oh wait, yes, I wrote a whole post about it here. But for those of you that don’t know… I BLOODY GOT ENGAGED DIDN’T I! Although I knew that we were headed down that path and it would happen at some point, I didn’t think it was imminent and so it caught me totally off guard. I won’t waffle on about it too much here, but for those of you that are interested, take a look at the post linked above to read the when, where and how.
The second reason this holiday was so good was because after 2017, aka The Worst Year Of My Life, I promised myself that 2018 was going to be a year of adventure and happiness for me/us and so this holiday was one that was very much longed for and very much needed. It reset my batteries, reconnected my feet to the ground, and filled up the coffers of my heart to the point of bursting. It seems crazy to think that this time a year ago I was sitting in a deep cavern of depression and everything felt so cloudy and dark.
Thirdly, this holiday was one of actual dreams because it was actually a totally decadent 2-week holiday, with a week spent at each of my two favourite destinations on earth – Elounda in Crete, and Bishops Castle Barn in Shropshire.
Let’s start from the beginning…
We always start our holidays a night early by getting ourselves a hotel room at the airport. Not only does this cut out the early morning alarm and worry of traffic on the journey, but it also gives us a sneaky extra day. We checked in as early as possible, dumped our bags in our room and headed down to the bar for dinner and drinks. We got ourselves to bed nice and early as we had to be up at 5am to get our 7.15am flight, but before we laid our heads on our pillows we spent the obligatory 10 minutes or so watching the planes coming in to land from our window.
The morning of the flight is always a tough one for me. I am absolutely terrified of flying and so I find myself in a weird emotionless, empty state where I can’t even hold a conversation. It’s like the fear takes over me. Ben is really good and tends to just let me get on with it as he knows if he starts fussing I’ll end up snapping at him – not great, I know, but fear takes over!
After the 4-hour flight during which I read a book, we watched a film (The Greatest Showman – our first time seeing it and I really like it!) and I panicked about every single shake and bump, it was wheels down in Heraklion and we were on our way to our home-from-home, The Olive Grove Apartments. Run by a family, this is absolutely my favourite place to stay as it’s so laid-back, everyone is really friendly, and it genuinely feels like you’re staying with friends rather than being paying customers! They have a BBQ and quiz night every Friday and, miraculously, Ben and I came third!
Our days in Elounda are spent wandering along the waterfront, stopping for lunch at any of the restaurants, and exploring. We always pop into Agios Nikolaos – a town about 10 minutes away – and wander around the town, past the marina and through what I like to call ‘The Boat Graveyard’ which is probably actually just a place for people to dry-land their boats when they need fixing.
(There’s no filter on this, it’s literally that blue!)
On one of the days we decided to venture to the south of the island and I discovered a new fear of mine – mountain roads. I never knew before but apparently I’m genuinely terrified of them. We got to the place we were headed, had a wander around and a cold drink to cool us down, then we were back on the road to head back to our own neck of the woods and embarked on what turned out to be over 2-hours of winding mountain turns. It was horrendous. Ben spent the entire 2-hours laughing at me as I kept making involuntary sounds every time we turned a corner to find another sheer drop, and by the end of the journey even my fingers hurt where I had been holding myself so tense! I’m not quite sure where this fear stems from, but I imagine it must be related to a car crash I had a few years ago where the car I was in slid off the road and flipped over. Do not want to repeat, thanks.
I could go on and on and on and on about my love for Elounda (and I often do) but it is the place I feel most at home in the world. It’s hard to explain but when I’m there I feel like everything has slotted in to place and I’m where I’m meant to be. It’s quite an unusual feeling, to feel in your heart that your home is somewhere different to where you actually live, but I hope – in time – Elounda will be where we set our anchor and settle down. It might just take a few decades for us to get there…
Having had the week of actual dreams, we hopped on a plane back to England ready to set off for the second leg of our holiday fortnight. We picked up the car from the airport carpark and began our journey to Shropshire, only for there to be a huge bang and smoke to start pouring out of the car. Ben quickly swerved it over to the hard shoulder and we hopped out and over the barrier to try and find somewhere safe to stand. A call to the breakdown company, one recovery lorry which took us partway and a second that didn’t get dispatched, and finally – 6.5 hours after breaking down – we were at home.
Luckily for us my brother and sister-in-law (who were already at the barn in Shropshire waiting for us) are beyond nice and as soon as they heard we had broken down, hopped in their car and drove all the way back from Shropshire to Essex to pick us up! I couldn’t believe it, they really are too good to us, I never would have expected them to drive an 8-hour round trip just so we didn’t miss out on our holiday, but they did and I will always be grateful to them for that.
Having arrived at the barn at 10am the following day, we were greeted with banners, decorations, a card and present to celebrate our engagement. They bought me a wedding planner book which is genuinely brilliant and I know it will be such a huge help once we finally do start wedding planning.
The week at the barn with them was great. We wandered in to town, we floated about in the hot tub drinking Prosecco and listening to music, we ate a lot and we watched Tipping Point every single night (a tradition whenever we stay there; I bloody love that programme!) I consider myself very lucky that not only is my brother one of my best friends in the whole world, but he gets on really well with Ben, and his wife is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. We literally spent the entire week laughing and spending time together is just so easy.
We also spent a very happy few hours with the owners of the barn who are friends of ours and live just next door. We watched the World Cup Final, ate good food, chatted and laughed, all with the most perfect view.
As is always the way when you’re having fun, the time passed too quickly and before we knew it the holiday was over and we were back home. But despite being sad it was over (and even sadder about my return to work and normal life) I came home feeling refreshed and contented to my core. Two magical weeks spent in my favourite places with some of my favourite people.
I may not have my own home, a banging body or lots of money, but I am rich beyond my wildest dreams in terms of my life and the people I have in it. I really am a very lucky girl and I remind myself of that every single day.
That said, this holiday has ignited my wanderlust again and I’m already thinking about all the adventures we have to come.
Life is what you make it and I fully intend to live it well and be grateful for what I have every single day. We get one go at this and I’m going to make mine magical!