Wednesday 12 June 2024

The Elephant and me

Imagining a photo which was worthy of a moment you could read about in Eat, Pray Love, I looked at the elephant. His trunk was strong. One swoop in the wrong direction and I would be in the mud, legs akimbo. Still, I held out the food I had made for him. He took it from my hand with the end of his trunk, carefully winding the little end around the ball of nutrition I had skilfully made. 

I could make food, easily. 

Kiss an elephant on its trunk, I couldn’t do. Anxiety took over and I was slightly upset. 


The writer in me had imagined this special moment. I imagined it would be a significant part of the book if a book was to be written.


Boarding the huge jet at Heathrow, I didn’t know if I had a new novel in me or not. I had decided to let it flow. If it did, great. If not, I had experienced seeing the other side of the world: a win, either way.


As it was, my anxious thoughts about the power of an elephant have driven the idea in my head to believe there may well be a book. Returning from Asia, I sat with my journal in the coffee shop, for the first time in three weeks, and I wrote some kind of plot. It unravelled like magic, as it so often does. I had attached no importance to this story. That was the fairy dust. 

Words flowed, and I began to see an unravelling of a few important points coming to the surface of my river of sentences. There was a story coming.

What would people want to hear? Something about life? Emotional connections, deep thinking and wonder at the world is what may have flowed when in reality, some space to look out at sea and just ‘be’ was all it took to find the next part of the writer journey. 


The book has started to become like a good recipe. I have accidentally stumbled upon productivity videos on YouTube that have excited me to break the year down into quarters, and set deadlines. Get it done, Lou! 


Adding in sprinkles of this 

and a cup of that, 

along with just flowing, 

and I think we have a new book. 


This one feels as though it would be a fresh energy, introducing me as a writer. I have stifled the inner me for so long, and the friends who read my musings have rolled their eyes at my resistance. Money, time, mum, kids, health, and a myriad of excuses have stopped me from writing, but now, it’s time. If not now, when?


The story has surprised me. And it will surprise people younger than me. Still figuring it out in your 50s? How is that possible?

Yes, friends, life is happening to all of us. But it’s time now. Tomorrow, a blank page, a new title and some words coming together. 


It is beyond words to try and express how excited I feel to be writing the next book. My health will love me for it as my spirit throws a silent party within. Finally, I am listening, after so much guidance. Let’s hope to make it a good one. 


Monday 15 April 2024

Northern Tenerife - full of hidden surprises

This isn’t what I expected from Tenerife.


Puerto de la Cruz was the cheapest trip I could find. There was nothing unusual about that. I always try to find the best deals.

I planned to fly solo and overcome the frightened mindset I picked up last summer. A part of me wasn’t convinced it would work. But I decided to white-knuckle ride it, review as many hotels as I could, and hope to come out unscathed.


As I sit here now, writing, with my barista coffee, I contemplate sharing the details of my anxieties, where it comes from, and why. But I have decided to omit it, just for this post. Maybe another time. But, when faced with cliffs, the ocean, and large objects like wind turbines, I turn to jelly. So, Tenerife would unknowingly be a challenge. 


“You’ve done it! You’ve flown alone!” My friend text me upon landing.

“I usually fly alone, that doesn’t worry me,” I replied. And that’s true. I have often flown alone and I’m not a particularly nervous flyer. The coach meandered alongside the cliffs on one side, while the wind turbines stared into the window on the other side. But I settled into my seat and focused on the palm trees, which had the opposite effect. 


Puerto de la Cruz stole my heart in the three days I was there. 

I was stunned at the scenery. 

The hotel was comfortable and clean.

There were incredible walks to enjoy through the town. 

The promenade was outstanding for ‘people watching’, and there were buskers on every corner to entertain for free, or for a small tip. 


“OMG this place is incredible! I feel so happy!” I would text home. I was hoping to survive this trip (it’s not them, it’s me) but rather I was thriving. 


Arriving at the resort, I hadn’t done a whole lot of research, which was unusual for me. The coach driver called out, ‘Catalonia Las Vegas’ and I got off the coach with my small case and walked past the cutest dogs on the strip. The hotel was on the strip?! Fabulous. 

My room key didn’t work, and the lift was dated, but none of that mattered. A quick trip back down to reception and I had a new key. I quickly filmed a room tour and threw my case into the room before looking outside on the balcony. The view was breath taking. My reaction to it was one of surprise. I couldn’t imagine for less than £300, I had all of this. 


Walking quickly away from the hotel, I wanted to catch golden hour and get exploring. I walked down the strip and discovered Benjamin. He was a daily busker who could be found singing original songs with his guitar accompanying him. 

Behind Benjamin were crashing waves. Huge waves rolled in over and over. I looked closer and I saw surfers waiting to catch a wave. ‘Surfers!’ echoes in my head. I was like a five-year-old at Christmas. This was outstanding. 

In front of Benjamin, facing the bustling sea, were some concrete plinths to sit on and I settled there for a while, disguising my grin, listening to Benjamin sing a song which was right up my street. He was singing about being the best version of yourself. 


After dinner, I wandered some more, into Old Town, which was sparkling for Christmas, just like my mood. I decided to go into the cathedral the next day. And instead of visiting the cathedral there and then, I walked back to the hotel to watch the belly dancer under protest. I wasn’t sure how a belly dancer could show me something I hadn’t seen before. I took a seat and waited, and to my surprise, this lady was the best belly dancer I had ever seen. I watched in awe at her musicality and dance, and later I went across the road to sit in a bar called Lido San Telmo and enjoy a cappuccino. I didn’t want to sleep, even though I was tired. I was just feeling so alive on this trip. 

Old Town was sparkling

A DJ played crowd pleasers as I sat there, voice noting back home with tales of joy and surprise. 


Knowing there was more to Puerto de la Cruz than I had imagined, I pulled out my search bar on my phone and looked at Pinterest to find the ‘must do’ things in Puerto de la Cruz, for the next day.  

It was my intention to see as many hotels as possible. That was kind of my job, and the point of being there.  I knew there was more to explore. 


The Agatha Christie Steps flagged up as the number one Instagram spot. I could see why. A rainbow of colours and an illusion of the spine of Agatha’s books grabbed my attention and I was glad I had trekked up early. No one was around at that time. Just a few workers on their way to start their day passed by, and I was lucky enough to snap some beautiful photos. 

Agatha Christie Steps

At the top of the steps, I wandered to a cliff overlooking the horizon and noticed a hotel far in the distance called the Seriamis, which I walked to and wandered around, filming. On the way back, I passed amazing restaurants overlooking the water and as it was so much later in the day, people had begun to flock to the steps.  I tried to fathom how they could just stroll past the busker who had set up camp there. 

An older, Spanish gentleman sat there playing his guitar, singing in Spanish. I was mesmerised by him, and I put a coin in his hat and proudly said, “Muchos gracias senior,” before carrying on, back down the steps.

My map on my phone showed me the way to the Botanical Gardens, which I had learned about through my Pinterest search. 

It was 9.03am and the doors had just opened. I paid €3 to enter and walked in. 

I said out loud, “Wow, where am I?”

The trees and vines were a treat for my eyes, and I loved seeing the gardeners watering the plants so early in the morning. I spent a good hour there, wondering if this was one of the happiest times of my life. 


I took some time to sit on a row of steps and listen to the trees as they began talking to me. A whisper here, and a rustle there and I was beaming on the inside. I was here, alone, with no anxiety, looking at the vines draping from the tree, wondering if this was what Ubud looked like. I felt as though I had all day to sit and ‘drink in’ the beauty of the botanical garden. I wandered slowly around the outer edge of the trees and filmed the experience to put on my YouTube channel before I left to see what was next on my adventure. 

Across the road from the gardens was a beautiful hotel called the Oriental Botanical Spa Hotel. It had been my cunning plan to see as many hotels as I could find on this trip, and film them for YouTube. I began to wonder if I could walk in to this hotel and film, but there was a concierge to navigate first. He stood in his top hat, having a slight flap. There were people to organise, and it looked like a rich family was asking him to organise a cab. So I seized the opportunity and just said, “I’m here for the coffee,” quietly and quickly and I pointed towards the inside of the hotel as if I knew exactly what I was here for. He just nodded towards the inside and focused back on the rich family. Once I was inside the hotel I could see this was exactly what I was hoping for. A lounge bar with a grand piano and soft seating was in front of the bar. The lights were dimmed. A barman was bending down and filling the shelves and I confidently said hello in the local language and asked If I could just have a coffee. He said “yes, of course,” and pointed to the soft chairs inside. 

“Or you can sit outside,” he said. I glanced towards his pointed finger and my eyes followed a trail to a view of sunshine, cushioned sofas, palm trees and a swimming pool. Without hesitation, I said, “Can I sit outside please?” 

“Of course,” he nodded, he smiled and he gestured with his hand to encourage me to sit outside. 


Sitting close to the door, only just into the outside gardens, I felt shy. Was I an imposter? Did the barman know I was a visitor, or did he think I was a guest in this hotel? The hotel was five-star and I was impressed by the beauty surrounding me. I pulled out my phone and took a photograph of two people wearing robes, walking towards the swimming pool. I text the photo back to home with, ‘I’m in’ written underneath. It’s like I was undercover. 

After quite some time, the coffee arrived, with perfect petit fours. They were gluten-free and I was delighted to taste them. I drank the best cappuccino and ate the best petit fours I had ever had. Opening the red leather wallet, I peered inside. €4.90 surprised me. Less than my local Starbucks, and a total bargain considering the surroundings. 


I walked the grounds of this stunning hotel, filming. Two black swans lazily wandered around the grass banks, near the small lake.  I saw jellyfish inside a tank by the ladies’ room, which wasn’t something I had ever seen before. This was outstanding. I wondered what it would cost to stay there, and I was surprised at how affordable this was. I wanted to bring the kids. 

Feeling unstoppable, I enjoyed leaving the hotel, walking past the concierge man and hoping I didn’t just walk into a place I wasn’t welcome. I felt welcome. 


Spending time meandering around the little shops on the way back down the hill, I entered more hotels and had a wander. Soon I was back on sea level and weaving through the hotels on the strip. They all were nice, but my favourite was the H10 Hotel. It had a lively vibe, and I decided I would try and sneak in there and watch the entertainment later on. I did. I was getting so good at this. The bands there were fabulous, and I felt happy as I sat there tapping my foot. 


My three days flashed by in a heartbeat. I spent time in the local pool, writing and editing. It was a council-run place which was filled with seawater. You couldn’t swim in the sea as it was too crazy with the waves. This was a slightly better option. But it was cold, so I only got so far in before I decided to get out and sit by the bar with a Coke Zero. The can was €2; a bargain. I watched couples and wondered why I wasn’t feeling sad. But sometimes, being alone, doing what you want, while you are working on your mindset, is a good thing. I needed some solitude and I felt glad to be overcoming some of the difficult times I had been experiencing. 


As it was so close to Christmas, the lights were a joy to see. The cathedral gave a free concert of carols and hymns, some sung in Spanish, some in English, and ‘oh holy night’ gave me goosebumps. On the way back to my hotel, I took note of the buskers, the drunk man, the ocean, and the smells of the restaurants as I walked past each one. There was music everywhere I turned and I began to see some commotion ahead of me. My video was already rolling. I held my camera above my head for a better angle, and I told the future viewers we were going to explore what was happening ahead. I began to smile. I got closer and heard laughter, a rhythm and some singing. Most of it was inaudible to me at that time, but I began to know I was about to experience something special.  Turning the corner, I saw a group of older men playing various instruments. I walked closer and the tune became more familiar. They all wore white polo shirts with a blue logo on. A guitar, a shaker, and entire orchestra unveiled itself in front of me and a chorus of “La Bamba” was being conducted by a man with a white moustache. The younger handsome one, about my age, was playing with such vigour that his neck was alive with a roadmap of vascular pumping. 

I was excited to hear this music. I moved as close as I could, navigating my camera to capture the moment for both me and the viewers. I was close to tears. This is the scene you see being shared on Instagram, usually in a New York subway. I witnessed pure delight in front of me, and as I took a moment to look around at the other onlookers, I could tell we were all in awe of what was being played in front of us. The vibe was electric, and I felt so emotional. I expected to visit Tenerife and be nervous, and lonely, and ride out some anxiety. 

Instead, I was going back home with a full heart.

One of the most incredible concerts I have ever randomly seen


The wind woke me the next morning as I realised, I was awake before sunrise once again. There would be time to walk along the promenade one more time before I had to get on the coach to the airport and then fly home. After breakfast, I headed out with my diary in my backpack and went to find a rather special cappuccino. I sat in a restaurant which was full of fairy lights and fake palm trees and it was so beautiful that I wanted to take some photographs of my coffee, pen and book. I could have journaled all day. But I wanted to get back and organise my bags before checking out to go home. I began to walk back to the hotel. 

Rugged cliff faces created shadows among them which framed the sea. The fierce ocean was crashing with waves which hit the rocks over and over. On the top of the cliff overlooking Pomodoro, a single palm tree was catching the sun. I took a photograph and stood for a moment. I leaned my forearms against the railings beside the promenade and took a deep breath of gratitude. I appreciated the beauty in front of me, but I appreciated myself for being able to look out over nature which would usually cause me to panic. My eyes filled with tears.


Northern Tenerife had shown me the beauty of my extra level of fitness, my solo travel time, and my independence. I walked, viewed, enjoyed.

Love always

Lou xoxo

To find out more: *

The incredible belly dancer

Those Petit Four

*this post may contain some affilaite links which never cost you more to use, but I may be paid a small commision for introducing you, which helps support this website and my YouTube 

Friday 29 December 2023

Booking a trip with £0 deposit

 It's time to look at the webpages to visit somewhere lovely.

Now that the turkey is drying up, and the crumpled hats sit hiding under the dining room table, many people turn their thoughts to holidays. 

Tui are giving discounts (see my affiliate link below)* which means you can spread the cost, get some money off and even book with no deposit. 

If you wanted my recommendations, please look at the selection of YouTube videos I have on my channel. If I could book a relaxing break right now, I would be tempted to head to Trendy Lara in Turkey, as they had amazing fitness facilities and a great coffee shop where you can sit and read afterwards. 

Lock in your holiday…

…with a £0 deposit*

T&Cs:  *£0 deposit applies to selected new TUI bookings which are 26 weeks or greater from departure when paying by Direct Debit instalments and excludes accommodation-only, flight-only bookings and packages booked with a third party flight. Valid on holidays departing up until 31st October 2024. A minimum of 3 Direct Debit payments are required. If you cancel your holiday you still have to pay the full deposit. The full deposit amounts are £200pp for short and mid haul beach, and £250pp for long haul beach. Direct Debit payment is available for online booking only. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: TUI is a trading name of TUI UK Limited, a member of the TUI Group. Registered office: Wigmore House, Wigmore Lane, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 9TN. Registered in England No: 2830117. ATOL 2524, ABTA V5126. 

*affiliate links mean if you book using my link, you may save some money, but not always. It never costs you any more. And Tui will pay a few pence in commision for me sending you to them, which really helps me with my online business. 
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