Mary’s Project – 2014

Africa, Au Pairing in Paris, Europe, TBT

Hey did you hear the news?! Its a whole new year! In no way is this post a brag or ‘oooh look how exciting my life is’ because that’s lame. I’ve posted quite a lot this year but there lots I’ve missed out. I love the idea of looking back on my blog when I’m old and boring and cringing at what I used to get up to. So here’s my (some of what was missed on the blog) year review. Happy new year to everyone 🙂 10 gold stars to you if you read the whole post…

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2014 was welcomed with my sister and her/our friends (yes we share friends cos we’re totes mature) in a crowded club in London, a group of creepy looking men told us the drinks were on them so we proceeded to the dancefloor, drinks in hand. Next thing we knew the bartender is snatching them off us and we’re laughing uncontrollably and not embarrassed like we should be. Don’t remember how I got home but I woke up on Zoe’s sofa feeling great. I went to Cambridge for Sara’s 21st birthday and had such a good time, apart from the vomit bit (not mine). The following days were spent cramming driving lessons with my instructor Geoff and practices with dad. Mum told me that if I didn’t pass my test I wasn’t allowed to go to Cape Town (already booked). So 5 days before I flew to SA I passed first time.

I packed a huge suitcase, left Mum, dad, G and Peachy and flew to Dubai then Cape Town all alone. Callum and I hadn’t actually arranged where we meeting at the airport but luckily he got there as I arrived. Dirk and his girlfriend Danielle drove us to Edgemead, our home for the next 4ish days. There was a swimming pool so I was happy. Our next home was Bothasig, like the ghetto version of Edgemead. I ate dairy milk top deck, fudge and fanta pineapple almost everyday and worked hard on my tan. I saw old friends at penthouse and generally had an amazing time. The hottest day of the year was spent at the reggae jam in Langa, 42 degrees C. I met Thami and Nomveliso and fell in love with the township. We saw Jeremy Loops and loads of reggae bands. I went back to volunteer at the kindergarten for a little bit, conditions were a lot different to what I had seen before but I loved teaching the little ones dances, nursery rhymes, colours and numbers. I got 2 jobs in the space of a week and worked in a photography studio and kept myself  busy as an entertainer at kids parties. Callum and I made the most of the self timer on my camera and saw the most beautiful beaches, parks and ice skated with the professionals…

I took a week out to see everyone at Otjikondo and it felt like I’d never left. But it was extremely strange not to have Fran by my side. After the few days I stopped in Windhoek, I drank cocktails on a roof bar and took a 24 hour coach back to Cape Town, sitting next to the same girl, Nina, I had sat with on my way. Back in the motherland Nina hired a car and we created new dramas everyday; locking the keys inside, breaking down in the middle of nowhere and getting stuck on the steepest hill in the world. I imagined that would be the place we’d die! We made friends with beach dogs and checked out surfers all day long. A trip to Cape Point was beautiful.

I was the next one to hire a car. I don’t know how to sum up the stresses we had, but we survived and had some wicked days covered in monkeys and beaching it. I saw friends of friends and navigated my way through the madness of the city with no map, no GPS and very little experience and maybe a bit too much ambition. I had dinner with Gilly, Arnold and Oliver and was so happy to see part of my Otjikondo family so close to this new home in South Africa. I drove to the airport and Callum and I met his mum and step dad Bill. More beach days, numerous pizzas and countless tap waters with ice, a straw and no lemon. We showed mum and Bill around and they provided hours upon hours of laughter. We all went to improv classes with some great people and saw a few shows. I went to a helicopter session and enjoyed it more than I expected. Driving to Addo Elephant Park was so memorable; we stopped off at Knysna and saw wild dolphins just as we were standing on the beach. At the elephant park there were all the safari animals and every time we saw an elephant we were speechless. Reversing from a herd wasn’t the best idea (in hindsight) but thrilling in the moment. We made light photos by our little cabins and Callum fell sick and was unintentionally hilarious. Trish and I got hair braids; hers stayed in for a week or two, mine is still in my hair almost 8 months later. We bid mum and Bill farewell as they continued on to Asia.

I went to study a short course at Cape Town School of Photography. It reconfirmed a lot of what I already knew but I got my passion for photography back and met some lovely guys and gals. We spent our last day at the waterfront snapping away. On my way home from class one evening I tried on some outfits in the boutique near penthouse, the shop owners asked me to photograph their new line in exchange for some clothes, an offer I unfortunately never got to carry out. I was also invited to a fashion show at the Grand Daddy Hotel to photograph and chat to the models and designers. Although its not that big of a deal to most people I was pretty proud of myself; I went alone without knowing anyone and was shooting a new style. I spent 1 last night at penthouse and boarded another 24 hour coach to Namibia. The journey was disrupted and I had to make the decision to head to Europe. I had one of the worst days of my life in Windhoek, tirelessly googling solutions and making my way to a few high commissions and embassies.

The weekend before I flew was spent at Otjikondo again and I finally met Chelcie (and Ottilie for the second time). Goodbyes were hard but it was nice to have some proper closure. I met 2 swedish guys in Windhoek who were on the same flight as me, we were a bit slow to get to the airport and managed to be the last ones to board the plane, after our final Windhoek lager. As we flew over Nigeria I saw a  lightning storm and wanted to wake everyone up to show them. It is without a doubt one of the best sites I’ve ever witnessed.

I landed in Frankfurt to a heavy case of culture shock. I spent the next 2 days sulking and hungry because I couldn’t justify €10 for a Mcdonalds… The cheapest thing to keep me entertained was hair dye so I spent my last evening in Frankfurt going blonde. I chatted to Nina and thought the best decision was to go and see her in Berlin. I was the last one on the coach (bit of a ritual now) and didn’t even realise where Berlin was in relation to Frankfurt. Berlin was so cool and I was pretty happy to see nina so spontaneously. I then saw Georgie in South-ish France, I worked harder on my tan, played water volleyball, rescued a baby bird and cycled to the beach. I said bye to her tiny cabin house and got the train to Paris to see Callum. I can clearly remember this as another one of the worst days of my life. It was Sunday and the hotel Callum had booked was no where near paris. I had no phone or internet and everywhere was deserted and there were train strikes. After hours of sitting on the side of the road waiting for non existent buses I finally reached Chilly Mazarin, where we were staying for 1 night. We went out for mussels. The next day I was covered in huge red itchy lumps. I’d had an allergic reaction that got more itchy the hotter I was, unluckily it was one of the hottest weekends of the year. We went from chilly Mazarin to Noisy Le Sec, into a crazy open house that was run by a psycho Chinese guy who couldn’t speak English or french and had anger issues. His wife shouted at us down the phone before we gave up trying to be nice and fled the scene. The weekend was great, despite my constant need to stop and scratch and Callum had made me a video montage with goodbyes from everyone in South Africa which may have made me shed a tear or two..

A cramped coach journey home welcomed us to Victoria station where dad greeted me with open arms and questions over my bright blonde hair. Welwyn Garden City hadn’t changed and summer just seemed to resume as if I’d never been away. I found it hard to have proper conversations with random girls and guys at parties that started with ‘omg you went to Africa, was there monkeys everywhere?’.

I desperately wanted to get back on the road, just like everyone feels after travelling.

It was pretty cool to be reunited with my friends again though. I still managed to really enjoy my summer; working, catching up with everyone I’d missed and enjoying the fact that my sisters wardrobe was now technically mine. Fran surprised me by coming down from Leeds. That was so so so good and sneaky of her and my mum! We saw a bloodied goat at the farm with Mollie and were temporarily traumatised. I took Fran into London where we shopped and went to a mini festival in Camden. I turned 20 and saw almost all of my favourite people and went out in London to celebrate. Camping, more birthdays, weddings, BBQs, seeing Laura Mvula at the BBC proms and a trip to Birmingham completed the summer.

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By August I’d got a job in Paris! Travel bug fed and working with kids, tick tick. I left Hertfordshire once again for a suburb just north of Paris, a new home, family and job. Au pairing was difficult at first, I don’t blame the kids for not warming to me straight away but I couldn’t really complain as my host family were so welcoming and made me feel at home pretty quickly. Gradually the kids have become a lot more cooperative and very friendly despite the occasional drama!  Everyone back home fretted that I’d have no friends and be mega lonely but it was the same situation to starting university (or what I imagine it to be). All au pairs, expats and erasmus students were in the same position. The first few weeks were so sociable and I must’ve met hundreds of girls and guys working, studying or just visiting Paris. I then got into a routine, something I hadn’t really had since Otjikondo. Tefl, work, drinks in central paris, picnics every weekend (always with peach wine), dinner parties and movie nights.

A weekend in Milan, 4 days in Zurich, a weekend home and a day in Brighton, a few days in Ireland and another weekend home including a quick trip to Nottingham all before Christmas holidays meant I wasn’t sat still for too long. I surprised Rhiana for her 21st birthday and it was the best thing ever to see her reaction to me turning up in Boots. I returned home very hungover and saw Charlie and her bump for her baby shower. We played pin the sperm on the egg and decorated baby grows, we’re all a little bit too excited for the little boy to arrive and to be aunties! And I’m so excited to see Charlie be a mummy.

Paris was lively before Christmas and there was lots to be done; a meeting for a zine project, visitors, lots of running, Christmas shopping and seeing a circus musical with Lucie the evening before I took the train to Vienna to see my family for Christmas. I then interailed and couchsurfed in Budapest, Bratislava and Amsterdam. The plan was to also go to Prague but time wasn’t on my side. I honestly had an unforgettable 2 weeks and would do it over and over if I could.

The year was mad and its flown by (doesn’t everyone say this every year? Where are we getting our concept of time from?!) and there was barely a boring day. There have been some major lows in the past 12 months; times when I’ve just wanted to click my fingers and land back in my own bed in welwyn and watch crap tv but when I put things into perspective I’ve been very lucky and the majority of it has been more than awesome. I’ve been in 11 different countries (12 if you include England) and spent hours upon hours in train stations and airports but I’m happy to be traveling as much as possible at the moment. Who has time to sit still!?Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 01.02.01

If you’ve been in my life at any point in the past year then thank you! I’ve met a lot of cool guys and gals and very few idiots (yay!). And my year would’ve been poop without you.

big uuuup, 2015

Mary x

TBT – stopping strangers

Africa, TBT

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Throwback to May of this year. I was doing an intensive course at Cape Town School of Photography and this particular days task was to take photos using a border. I went off task, started chatting to some builders and a parking attendant and ended up with this photo.

Mary x

Major FOMO – 7th October 2014

Europe

Surfers on Table View beach.

Surfers on Table View beach.

FOMO – fear of missing out.

I hate to say it but right now I have the worst case of FOMO. Or just plain travel envy. Everyone seems to be having a wicked time in either Cape Town or Namibia or wherever else in the world and I’m just feeling so sorry for myself and thinking how much my life sucks. Here, in Paris. Oh wait, it relly doesn’t suck. It only sucks because I focus on other people’s exciting plans when I’m feeling a bit crap after a long day of chasing 3 year olds and ironing desgner clothes that I’d never be able to afford and trying to run errands in the pouring rain. All the while it seems like the rest of the world is having a fabulous time in exotic locations eating amazing foods and having the best social life – I full on blame social media. It’s been said a million trillion times but you do only see the best 1% of peoples lives on social media; it’s very rarely a true reflection of their actual lives. So why am I still feeling down about missing out? I think part of it is because of the way I left Cape Town back in June. I never got to say goodbye to very close friends and places that I’d fallen in love with and maybe I just want to be there to get closure. Or maybe I wanna jam on the beach in 40°C weather and go to reggae concerts and drink Savannas in Langa…

So to get over my FOMO I’m trying to plan summer 2015. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow but I’m making actual plans for July onwards, lol my weird ways of thinking eh.

I will be TEFL qualified so hoping to start a new job in September (fingers crossed for the perfect job in Rio De Janeiro) but want to fill my summer with some memories from Africa if I can. Or should I just forget Africa for a while and go some place new? Or heaven forbid, do I go to England for the summer?!!?

Feel free to help me figure out my life. Or should I just chill out about future plans and enjoy my time in Paris..? Yeah I should probs do that.

My bad. Ignore my ramblings.

Mary

(bisous)

I’m currently 3 floors high in an apartment in Berlin listening to the noisy street below and preparing for a day of sightseeing. The past 2 weeks have been crazy and I’ve worked out that I’ve slept in 6 different beds (alone, don’t worry!) in 3 different countries, in 2 different continents, in 6 different towns/ cities/ villages and gone from seeing donkey carts, bakkies and women carrying bags of rice on their heads to bicycles, Mercedes and businessmen in suits having meetings on the metro.

Back in Namibia –
I joined Paul and his son Matty for the 5am drive to Otjiwarongo; we saw a bat-eared fox, kudu and we nearly ran over a skunk, not your average drive to school. I then hitch-hiked to Windhoek in a 5 seater car and 7 people. I sat with a 9 year old girl on my lap for the next 3 hours, not my favourite car journey I have to be honest. I made my way to the Cardboard Box hostel, dumped my bags there, emailed people to tell them I was alive then headed to Katatura; the not so nice part of town. I had to travel to the Baileys Reo Liner ‘head office’ (basically a poorly constructed, messy concrete box), I’d booked a return coach ticket back to Cape Town that I could no longer use, I’d hoped to get my full $600 back until I noticed the ticket said NON REFUNDABLE.. oops. I found the manager and explained the situation, he told me there was no way he could give me any money back. I used my skills from GCSE drama and started crying and giving my best ‘lost, confused teenager’ look. I think he saw right through my acting but agreed to give me half of my money back. I then jumped in a taxi back into Windhoek and was laughed at a lot by everyone when they all tried to speak Afrikaans to me and I could give no response. My last few hours in Africa were spent trying to book hostels, travel and attempt to check in online (it wouldn’t let me, I panicked and then the women at the hostel convinced me it would be fine).
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I travelled to the airport with my new Swedish friends Martin and Emille, we enjoyed our last Windhoek lagers and Savanna ciders with pizza and chocolate before messing around in the (tiny) airport. We somehow lost track of time and ended up being the last ones to board the plane, about 3 minutes before take off! I kissed the ground outside of the plane, hugged one of the air hostesses and settled into my window seat, ready for the long flight. Luckily the plane was almost half empty so I could spread out over 2 seats, some people had 4 seats to themselves?! I watched most of ‘The Book Thief’ and avoided both of the sad looking plane meals. The most exciting part of the flight was waking up at around 3am to see we were flying over Nigeria; Martin, Emille and I noticed there were flashes of light in the sky below us every couple of seconds. We were watching a thunder and lightning storm happen from above, such an amazing sight.IMG_1049

We decided to start a clap when we landed in Frankfurt (you know, as people sometimes do at the end of a flight…), no one joined in an we had a really awkward 30 seconds as we stayed committed to the clapping (and the occasional ‘woooo go Germany!’) and everyone on the plane turned around and glared at us. Just glared. A tiny bit awkward.IMGA0056

Somehow I was the last person off the plane too! I said my goodbyes to the Swedish guys and they gave me one of the bank notes folded into a shirt shape for remembrance. I was now in Frankfurt with a few euros and my hostel name written down with no idea how to get there. I was directed by a really nice woman at information to take the shuttle bus to the train station and then take the train to the nearest station (I can’t even remember where I got off, oops) and then the hostel was a 20 minute walk away. So off I went, the morning before I was in the African bush seeing crazy wildlife and watching the sunrise and now I was sitting on a stuffy train with miserable looking businessmen. No one was talking to each other, no one even looked up from their phones. Such a contrast to life in Namibia and Cape Town. I just missed the noises and the atmosphere of ‘Africa’.

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My hostel was huge and looked really clean and safe but the next day I was proved wrong when I was covered in bed bug bites… I made friends with one portuguese guy who was travelling back from 6 months in South East Asia; basically, he looked exhausted. My explorations in Franfurt included trying to find a shop that sold a travel adapter, it took over 6 hours and cost €10 😮 I know in Bags Etc they used to be around £2.50?! I visited the Skyline Plaza shopping centre and spent way too much time in shops like H&M, Mango and Zara. I couldn’t believe how expensive everything was; I was converting money in my head from €’s, then to £’s and then to South African Rand and standing in shock at almost everything. A day in Frankfurt was enough and a message from my friend Nina made me book a coach ticket to Berlin for the next morning.

9 hours on a coach is like a breeze for me; soon enough we arrived in Berlin to some cloudy skies. I hadn’t actually arranged where or when I was meeting Nina so hunted for a cafe with internet so I could check my Facebook. The only place I could find was a chinese restaurant with awkward waitresses pressuring me to order more than a glass of water. I gave in a got some disgusting tuna, rice roll things. At least I managed to find Nina and meet her friends Emma and Daniel. We waved Daniel off as he was getting a bus back home then we went to get ice cream, yay!

Nina and I met more than 3 months ago on a coach from Namibia, we then were on the same coach back to Cape Town by coincidence and did lots of driving around and beach hopping before she moved to Berlin. So to see her in Germany and stay with her for a few days is strange but awesome!

Mary x

Africa, Europe

Changes

Africa, Europe

The past week has been a bit of whirlwind for me and I’ve only just started getting my head together. I left Cape Town on Sunday morning and reached Namibia being told that I wasn’t allowed to return to South Africa for a while. I only had a bag with a weeks worth of clothes and was feeling pretty unprepared. I cried a lot and tried to make sense of the situation and decide what to do next; although I had no desire to leave South Africa I decided that this obviously happened for a reason and someone, somewhere wants me to go to new places. I considered travelling around southern Africa for a few months before going home but I knew I’d feel so close to Cape Town and it would hurt too much to not be able to go. I’d also love to see more of Africa with Callum or a friend because not having someone to reminisce on your adventures with is really hard. So, Africa was out of the picture but so was flying anywhere that passes through South Africa. Which is 99.9% of flights leaving from anywhere in southern Africa. Oh. Multiple trips to different embassies and high commissions resulted in me being none the wiser of my situation so I used my common sense and thought flying directly to Europe (there is only one flight, Windhoek to Frankfurt) was the safest option. I always feel really grown up when I book a plane or train ticket without any assistance from mum and dad, this time was no exception and being alone in Africa and going to a different continent was a new experience. I’m 19, in Namibia for the third time with no clue what was going to happen next.

Luckily I was joined by Ottilie and Chelcie on Tuesday. They both were volunteers (GAPs) at Otjikondo in 2011/2012, the year before Fran and I arrived. I’d met Ottilie last summer when she’d visited Otjikondo again but I’d never met Chelcie, despite many facebook conversations and a few stalks. They both cheered me up massively and helped me see the positive of the situation. That evening we went to Joe’s Beerhouse for meat and some free drinks. Yesterday I booked my flight to Frankfurt for Monday evening. A few more days in Namibia then a the long journey to Germany, ahh! I have no plans for when I arrive so if you have any suggestions please let me know!

Wish me luck guys

Mary x

Where do I begin with such an amazing night of fashion, music and all round talent? The Grand Daddy Hotel was the venue for Saturday night’s fashion show hosted by Mampho Smouse, owner of fashion label Smouse Blazer. Situated on Cape Town’s vibey Long Street, The Grand Daddy was the perfect venue, keeping guests warm within their modern interior and with the impressive drinks at the bar. 
From 6pm guests started arriving; as a ‘tourist’ to South Africa I’m always amazed by Capetonian’s great sense of style. Girls looked gorgeous in an array of dresses, statement jumpers, big hair, bright lipsticks and bold accessories. The men didn’t disappoint either; smart trousers teamed with a bold blazer seemed to be the outfit of choice for most, some with patterned scarves and no one was seen without a pair of smart shoes.
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I met with the designers backstage and caught a glimpse of the models and the 3 different outfits they’d soon be showcasing. Jewellery designer Bongi Mabala showcased some of her latest work with her dynamic pieces. Sihle presented Faith Avenue; she’d used sharp tailoring paired with pastel colours. I really liked her work, especially for such a young designer. 
 
 
 
 
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The second collection was from label Swagger Diariez; fun summer brights, floaty maxi dresses and flattering shorts made the clothes look really wearable and I could personally see myself wearing these outfits everyday if the weather was on my side!IMG_0545
 
The final collection was by Mampho Smouse and her label Smouse Blazer. As the name suggests there was a great range of blazers; she’d used bold primary colours and smart materials to make these pieces perfect for work and office wear. I think with the addition of a few accessories they’d look great for partying in Cape Town.
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The night also consisted of some amazing dance acts, singers and rappers. I’ll be posting the remaining photos tomorrow so you can see all of the fun in full! Well done to everyone who made the night such a success.
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Mary x
Africa

Fashion Frenzy – 31st May 2014

Africa

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I’ve just returned from a truly fantastic evening of mingling with such talented designers, singers, dancers, models, rappers, photographers and general fashionistas at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town. The night was jam packed with creativity and there’s so much to report on that I’m actually going to save it for a separate blog post. I have heaps of photos and info on how to find the designers work so watch out for that all in the next day or two!

I want to thank the host Mampho Smouse for putting on a great night; it really introduced me to young creatives in the area and I can’t wait for the next show! So like I said, I will upload all the content within the next few days. I’m off to Namibia tomorrow morning so I’ll write a real review of the evening as soon as I can find a decent wifi spot 😉

Stay tuned 😀

Mary x

marymandefield@hotmail.co.uk 

The Grand Daddy of all fashion shows! – Tonight in Cape Town

Uncategorized

Are you looking for something fun and fashionable to do tonight in Cape Town? If so, then I definitely recommend heading down to the Grand Daddy Hotel tonight from 6pm as fashion house owner Mampho Smouse is putting on a fashion show to present this seasons hottest trends from label Smouse Blazer. There will also be a presentation of Sihle Ndlovu’s latest work at label Faith Avenue; enough fashion to make any girl (or guy) super excited. Sithembile Msutwana will be holding his own on the DJ decks and ensuring all guests enjoy their night. 

I will be there helping to photograph the event as well as interviewing some of the designers and will report back on how the night went. I will be joined by some of Cape Town’s most beautiful models, players in the fashion industry and the night will be covered by a variety of Cape Town’s media outlets.

Message Sithembile for a ticket for just R80 (0724890200) or buy on the door for R100

31 May /  6pm – 12am / Grand Daddy Hotel, Long Street, Cape Town

I hope to see some of you there!

Mary x

Wild Wild West Coast – 19th May 2014

Africa

Our Trisha, Bill, Callum and Mary days are becoming numbered as they’re soon to jet off to Hong Kong on their next leg of their sabbatical so we made the most of a sunny and work free day by visiting the West Coast National Park.
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When we entered the park we didn’t expect to see too many animals as the reserve is more focused on plants and birds (that we probably don’t appreciate enough to be honest) but we quickly spotted ostriches, a few different types of antelope and about 20 tortoises. I don’t know how the tortoises avoid being squished by passing cars as we had a few near misses. I had to resist the urge to pick up a tortoise and take one home, I’m totally deprived of a pet 😦 Scones at a cafe confirmed our thoughts that South Africans like their scones to be stodgy while exotic looking birds stalked our table and ate our leftover crumbs as we admired the amazing scenery. The waitress told me how it was a popular wedding venue; there was a cute water feature, outdoor benches with flowing white curtains, beautiful archways, an altar (convenient!) and a stunning view of the lagoon. A wedding isn’t on the cards (don’t worry dad!) but I’d love to have a massive party there.

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Most of the day was spent on a deserted beach. The sand was almost like quicksand, the sea was perfectly clear, there were arches made of the rocks and in the distance you could see flocks of flamingos. I got closer to them and loved seeing them up close and it was cool to see them fly off; the underneath of their wings was even more pink than their bodies. Bat and ball, countless games of catch and watching the workers throw a dead shark back into the sea concluded our beach day. We headed back to the pretty restaurant for dinner. I don’t know if it’s because we were starving or because the food was genuinely fantastic but we all praised our meals very highly. I ate mussels with a peppadew and mayo sauce with chips and it was the best meal I’ve had all year, the type of meal that I could re-eat over and over again.
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We reluctantly left the park at 6:01 (the gates shut at 6, oops sorry.) and travelled through a strange fog which prompted car stories about fog; think Hermonie, Ron and Hagrid in the forest with a talking Chihuahua. No decent evening is complete without lemon meringue pie and a large amount of Dairy Milk chocolate so we added back all the calories lost through running around on the beach, perfect.

Mary x