Early Birds

 WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? 

W.H. Davis

After twenty-four hours of being stuck in our room, we awoke early and left before sunrise, anxious not to miss another moment of our short stay on this extraordinary island.  There were no signs of life, apart from some rather noisy birds, chirping endlessly in the lush greenery around us.  Flowers bloomed in all their brilliance, bidding us good morning.  My senses were on overdrive.  Everything looked so fresh, so perfect.

Our grumbling empty tummies soon led us to Café Huura, the impressive pool-side restaurant where breakfast would soon be served.

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An inviting entrance, adorned with large urns, welcomed us into a Maldivian style Pavilion.  Ornate pillars and archways fashioned from wooden lattice-work added depth and character.  This place was stunning.  But there was more to come.  Beyond all of this, we were met with quite a sight…

What a sight!

 

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Early morning Silhouettes

 

Too early for breakfast, we wandered onto the empty beach.  We sat there for a moment, drinking everything in.  The powdery white sand, the ever changing hue of the sky and sea in the silvery morning light, the constant drawing in and out of the ocean – like breathing.

Golden moments like these are all too rare.  They are a gift.

Time to gaze at the horizon.  To notice how the sand feels on the soles of your feet.  To watch a funny little crab, that you thought was just a pebble, suddenly sprout legs and skuttle off across the beach.

The chance to step outside of your life and really see it. To take stock of your priorities and gain fresh perspective.

Moments like these can strike any place, any time – So be on the lookout today!  A beautiful sunrise.  An unexpected rainbow.  A cup of coffee with a friend.  A spontaneous walk in the woods.

And when they come (often, once they have been and gone), you know that they have done you good.

Serenity

 

 

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Puking in Paradise

After unpacking our things, we couldn’t wait to explore the island.  We hadn’t eaten much on the plane, and I was feeling a little peckish.  We came across a relaxed looking Italian restaurant, where we were shown to a table-for-two, situated on a sweeping deck beside a lagoon.  To our left was a large open pizza oven, to our right, the irridescent Indian Ocean.

When Nathan suggested that we share a pizza, I realised immediately that something was up.  Since when had my husband been into sharing pizzas?  Admitedly, he had looked a bit off-colour since we’d got off the aeroplane, but in my mind, it was down to tiredness – after all we’d missed almost an entire night’s sleep.

“You ok babe?” I asked. “You don’t seem yourself.”

“I dunno.  I don’t feel great,” came the reply.

By now, Nathan was looking positively clammy and distinctly green around the gills.  Nevertheless, he managed to eat some pizza, and even down a beer or two, and we spent the rest of the afternoon investigating all the hotel’s ameneties, hoping that this sicky spell would soon pass.

But it wasn’t to be.

All through that night, Nathan was up and down like a yo-yo, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.  Then finally, the throwing-up commenced.

Now I must confess, I wasn’t much help.  Apart from a few words of comfort, I pretty much slept through his whole ordeal.  I was exhausted.

Suddenly, at around 6am, I sat bolt upright in bed, flung back the duvet, and with no prior warning, had to make a dash to the bathroom.  Now it was my turn.

We thought back to our daughter, Emily, being sick the night before we flew out.  There was no doubt about it – we had arrived with some kind of sickness bug.  It was our first full day in Paradise, and there was absolutely no way we could leave the room.

We both slept fitfully for a few hours, before deciding that our best option was to spend our ‘sick-day’ lolloping on the cushioned sun-loungers in the shade of the garden.  We spent the day chatting, reading books and trying to work out whether puking in paradise was a bum deal or a blessing!  Well, I suppose if you’re going to be sick, then you may as well do it in style.

Outdoors
Not a bad place to spend the day…?

Later that evening, when the sicky feeling at last subsided, Nathan gingerly trudged towards Reception to inform the hotel staff that we wouldn’t be eating dinner.  He returned laden with various forms of medication, bottles of water and fluid replacement sachets.  He also came back with the best surprise – A copy of Roman Holiday for us to watch on DVD!  There’s nothing like a bit of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck whizzing around the streets of Rome on a Vespa to lift the spirits and restore a bit of romance to the occasion.  The hotel staff were incredible – later that evening, there was a knock at the door.  In came the hotel chef who insisted on preparing us a deliciously light, restorative broth – it was just what the doctor ordered.  Before too long, we began to feel like our normal selves again.

just what the doctor ordered
Just what the doctor ordered

With any luck, our holiday would start afresh in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maldivian Welcome

 

The island Spa
The Island Spa, accessible by a traditional Maldivian boat called a ‘Dhoni’

You know you’re on a special kind of trip when you walk out of the airport and jump straight into a speedboat.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen sea that colour.  Not really blue…turquoise.  Startling.  I couldn’t stop smiling, despite all the worry of leaving the kids, despite it being six o’clock in the morning.Speedboat

The Maldives is made up of  a long, narrow chain of 26 natural Atolls, which are a bit like islands of Coral.  The Four Seasons Kuda Huura Hotel is all that can be found on the North Male Atoll.  No cars.  No roads.  No neon lights.  No hustle or bustle.  Just staggering beauty and serenity all aound.  As the speed boat approached the jetty where we would disembark, a group of people stood and serenaded us – a traditional Maldivian welcome.  We climbed up onto the jetty and a beautiful smiling lady, with a flower in her hair greeted us:

 

“Welcome Mr and Mrs Jelf.”

The Jetty

We had no name tags on and we weren’t the only guests to arrive.  How on earth did she know who was who?  It seemed every single member of staff, from the Manager, who mingled with guests practically incognito, to the omlette chef, knew us by name, and everywhere we went, we were always greeted hospitably whenever we walked past.

Our suitcases were whisked away while we were greeted by our smartly dressed Concierge, who gave us a refreshing spiced drink.  She told us about the various restaurants we could eat in and informed us that we’d been given two complimentary excursions of our choice, plus a massage!  Nathan and I kept looking at one another in disbelief.  This was crazy!

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When we were shown to our room I was overwhelmed. Surely this was not just random chance. This was a blessing from heaven!  The rooms were not so much rooms… Each one based on a traditional Maldivian style house, complete with garden and private pool.

 

 

 

20161031_113242At the end of the garden, a winding path, hedged on either side with lush greenery, led out to a secluded beach.

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At the end of our garden path…

 

Emotions began to surface as I drank in the beauty of the room, the garden, the views.  This place was completely out of this world!  Paradise. I had been so reluctant to leave the children. But it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, this was meant to be!  I knew in that moment, a choice lay before me. I could  spend the week worrying about the kids. Or I could let go and entrust them into the hands of the One who made the turquoise sea that lay before me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to the Maldives

We were all packed and ready to go.

I’d finally got my head around leaving the children.  The four of them would be spending the week with various family members.  Everything was neatly arranged.  All that remained was to try and get a good night’s rest before a day of gruelling travel.

And that’s when the puking began.  It was about 3:30 am.  All of a sudden, our four-year-old, Emily, appeared at our bedside and announced that she was going to be sick.

She was absolutely right about that.  Poor little angel.

What on earth were we supposed to do now?  Perhaps this was a sign…that we shouldn’t be going?  I’d never felt so torn.  What if she had a bug?  How could I leave her with my parents like this?  “Hi mum and dad – Thank you so much for looking after our child – Here’s her suitcase….Oh and here’s a sick bucket…”

At about 7am, I nervously called my parents to explain the situation, half expecting that we would have to cancel the trip.

Of course, they insisted that we still go…Let it be said, right here, right now, my parents are absolute heroes.

And so, choking back the tears, we said our goodbyes.  My heart was in knots as I watched little Emily wave us off, tightly clutching hold of her beloved Winnie The Pooh Bear.  Saying goodbye, even if just for a week, is the hardest thing to do.  But nevertheless, we were off to the Maldives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About

On 23rd September, 2000, I married a Travel Agent.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Wedding Pic

They say that opposites attract.  And in our case, it’s been largely true.
Nathan jumping out of plane

One of us is an extravert. Intrepid, bold and assertive; a real go-getter, make-it-happen kind of guy- (the type that might jump out of an aeroplane!)

The other one of us is an introvert. Dreamy, head-in-the-clouds, cautious – perhaps more inclined to read about the wide and wonderful world in a book, rather than travel much beyond the garden gate to see it for herself.

Moi

 

Eighteen years later, we have four amazing kids and two  tabby cats and we’ve travelled to some truly incredible places.  I’m so grateful to God for this man – for this life – and for all our adventures together!

Our kiddies

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

Thank you so much for visiting!

 

 

 

Out of the Hat!

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It was an ordinary evening when my mobile phone rang.

“Hi Love, it’s me!”

I hadn’t expected to hear from Nathan – he was attending a Four Seasons Promotional event up in London.

I detected an air of excitement in his voice, but was not the slightest bit prepared for what was to come.  Most people would only dream of receiving a phone call like this.

“You won’t believe it!” he said.

“What?” I implored, the tension mounting.  “Tell me!”

“I’ve just won a trip for two…to the Maldives!”

A trip for two?  But that would mean leaving our four children. Who would look after them?  I couldn’t possibly ask my parents to have them again, could I?  

“Noooo way?!”  I said, in the most cheery voice that I could muster.

“Yep…it was the top prize!  All our name badges were put into a hat and mine got pulled out!  I’ve been praying that we could see the Indian Ocean…We’re off to the Maldives, baby!”

I gulped.  We were off to the Maldives.

“Oh wow!  That’s…fantastic!”

Now my husband knows me all too well. “Hey, don’t worry about the kids!  This is the trip of a life-time!  It’s only for a week.  They’ll be fine.  I’m sure your mum and dad would be happy for you to go.”

He was probably right.

It dawned on me.  Most people would be running around the house whoop-whooping at news like this.  And there was I, standing motionless, like a sack of old spuds, almost wishing that this wasn’t happening to me.

But it really was…