Sunday, 27 November 2016

Wedding | Our First Year of Marriage

One week ago today it was exactly one year ago Rich and I got married (which I talked about LOADS in my wedding series) so I thought I'd give a little update on what it feels like to be married, and how our first year of being married was.

It's been quite a year, pretty much as soon as the wedding and mini-moon was over, it was straight into Christmas planning, and then on Boxing Day Rich was off to Cyprus for an unknown amount of time. January was house move time, then Rich luckily came home just in time for our epic honeymoon. Only once all of that was done with did it finally begin to sink in that we were married, and oh my gosh I love it.

Everyone always says that marriage changes things, and then everyone says that it doesn't and it's just a bit of paper. Well, to me marriage has changed things; it's made them better, when I didn't think that was possible. Before we got married Rich and I were incredibly happy together, and if we hadn't have gotten married then I don't think that would ever have changed. However, seeing him stood at the end of the aisle, and making the vows in front of everyone that we know and love cemented him into my life forever. Even though I never thought he would leave me anyway, being married makes that commitment more obvious, I still get a thrill when we're holding hands and I feel his wedding band one year on, and I don't think it'll ever change.

It's been a bit of a crackers year, with moving house twice, and my time off whilst waiting for the new job, but having Rich by my side throughout it all has made everything so much easier. I can't imagine ever being without him now, and I do know that his next time away with work will be more difficult but we'll do it, because that's what it takes.

I'm absolutely loving my new surname, and being a Mrs as well. If I have to give my maiden name for something it just feels weird, and not like me anymore. I was bullied about my maiden name at school, and it's almost like I've shed that part of my life now, I feel like a new person, and it's fantastic. Still not a fan of my new signature yet though, but I'll get used to it.

Thank you for listening to my prattling on, there's nothing too revolutionary in here because Rich and I already lived together when we got married, so there wasn't a big shock to the system of us moving in together, just the happiness of being firmly connected to each other for the rest of our lives.

Rachel x

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Making Facebook A Happier Place...

We're all well aware of the US election result last week, and this isn't a post talking directly about it, as there are enough of them in the blogosphere already without me adding my two-cents. However, this is a post all about how to make your Facebook a happier place around politically charged times.

I have been a Facebook user for nearly 10 years now, and during that time I've seen it shift from being a haven for students posting drunk pictures, to a place where families keep in touch and people share images and videos all the time. Unfortunately the shift has meant that it isn't always such a fun place to be, and you can learn about the political leanings of your family, which you may not agree with.

The vast majority of my family are on Facebook now, and some of them like to share pictures from pages, and some of these are from pages which I am vehemently against, such as Britain First and other disgusting things. When I see people who I love and respect sharing things which I disagree with it is never pleasant. Some people would argue with those family members, but instead, I am a huge fan of the "hide all from" button. In case you didn't know what it looks like I'll put a picture of it below for you.

Now, I don't actually have anything against the page World Travel, but it was the first thing I could find on my feed that I don't actually subscribe to (which is a good thing!). The hide all button is my best friend, it means that when your adorable Great Grandma likes something hideously racist, you can just choose not to see that, and you can carry on having a relationship with her without arguments.

The unfollow button is something I rarely use, but have to sometimes when a family member posts status updates which upset me on a regular basis, it means that you are still friends with them, and they will never know that you choose not to see their updates.

This is a great technique for keeping the peace with family members, and filtering out all of the crap that you don't want to see on a daily basis. Now my Facebook is mostly just full of the people I care about, and some pages which make me giggle so I don't want to block.

I hope you've found this helpful, and let me know if you do the same thing with your Facebook too!

Rachel x

Friday, 11 November 2016

New Job Wishlist

I know, I know, I keep banging on about my new job, but I'm excited okay? It's been a fair while since I was in a professional environment now, and I kind of want to update a few things before I start work (but the lack of money means they'll probably end up being first pay packet treats, oh well) as I'm going to try and be the professional 27 year old that they think I am.

What's a new job without some new stationery, am I right?

Image courtesy of Girl Loves Glam
I had a Personal Planner gift voucher in my Hull Bloggers Meetup goody bag last year, and absolutely loved it, but it's sadly run out now, so I'm definitely wanting to invest in another. The only thing keeping me from doing it though is trying to come up with a good design for the cover. Their instagram has loads of gorgeous ones on it, so it's a project to get on with soon I think.

I could probably also do with getting a new work notebook, such as this one from Paperchase (£6.50) however I have discovered that I just can't buy notebooks online. There's something about being able to touch them and hold them to find out which is the right one for you, which you just can't replicate online. I take my stationery buying seriously, in case you didn't know.

I've had my current purse for ages now, and could really do with a new one. I'm loving ones with a zip which goes all around it, like this one from Accessorize (£17) but I definitely can't justify spending so much on a purse without checking it out first to make sure it has enough card slots etc. I really need to go do some serious shopping soon don't I?
This one is completely crazy, but I have wanted a Macbook for the longest time now. I don't need one as I already have both a laptop and a desktop, but it hasn't stopped the desire. In the new job I'll be travelling sometimes, and my current laptop is far too big to travel around with comfortably, whereas a 13 inch Macbook would be much more portable, and allow me to blog from many more locations. I could even take it to work with me to blog on my lunch, which would be really useful. The fact it looks so gorgeous in photos definitely doesn't hurt, but the newly steep prices do. I'll keep dreaming and one day I may be able to justify over a grand on a beautiful shiny Macbook of wonder.

Far more practically, this is something I may have already purchased; but to me it was an essential. My regular coat is a parka, perfect for bundling up in when you wear jeans, but not in a cute dress for the office, unlike this coat. This gorgeous coat is from New Look and was £54.99. A bit steep, but with Rich's discount it was a bit better. It's stunning though, so totally worth it!

I have the feeling that the dress code in my new office might be a bit smarter than my previous one, so I'd love this dress from Next as I'd still feel like myself, but smarter. I'm a complete sucker for layered shirt dresses, and this one is stunning. I tend to wear a lot of black to work, so would be great to have a different colour!

Rachel xx

Thursday, 3 November 2016

5 Things I've Learnt From Doing Temp Work

In case you missed my catch up post the big news is that I have an amazingly exciting new job at the UK Space Agency! However I'm still waiting for my security clearance, and as much as I was loving being a stay at home wife (so much amazing baking happened) I was getting annoyed with having no money, so decided to register with a recruitment agency to see if they could get me any temp work, to tide me over until my proper job could start.

After a week of hearing nothing from them I was offered a job in a warehouse as a re-worker (no, I'd never heard of one of those either) and this leads me to thing I've learnt number 1:

I really really hate working in a warehouse.

I'm sure there are people out there that love their warehouse jobs, but I am utterly and completely not one of them. For starters, my shift started at 6:30am. That isn't that crazy early when you consider that I was leaving the house at 6:30am in my last job, but when you factor in the wake up time of 5:20am, it becomes seriously unpleasant. I got to finish at 3:15pm, but I was utterly exhausted from being on my feet all day and shifting boxes around, so I basically came home and lay on the sofa for the rest of the night.

Warehouses are bloody freezing.

When I asked what to wear to the job I was told jeans and a jumper, so I thought I'd go for layers and wore a long sleeved t-shirt, short sleeved t-shirt and a hoody, thinking I'd get too warm and start taking things off quite quickly. Nope. It started out cold at 6:30am, but only got colder as the day went on and the huge doors were opened and the cold air came in. I ended up with fingerless gloves on and still not being able to feel my fingers when I went on a break. I was so cold that it got into my bones and I didn't feel warm all week. 

Re-working isn't for me.

So a re-workers job is basically taking things out of one box and putting them into another box. Yep. That's what I did, along with making up boxes and sticking stickers onto them for 4 days straight. No headphones allowed (but I totally flouted that rule for the one shift where I worked alone and it made it a little bit more bearable) so unless the people you're working with are chatty, you have zero mental stimulation. For some people this might be great, but I already tend to be an over-thinker, so having nothing to do but think for a week was not good.

I ended my weeks contract there and they offered for me to continue, but I knew that I just couldn't hack it, so begged asked for something else. Luckily they had a job clearing tables in a cafe, it was less hours and less money, but it absolutely had to be better than warehouse work. I started the next Monday and swiftly learnt thing number 4:

Plates and teapots are really heavy.

So pretty much my entire job is clearing tables in the cafe, and restocking the plates/glasses/cutlery when it's been washed up, and I have serious respect for waitresses. Plates are so heavy! I loaded up a tray on my first day with 4 plates and a few glasses and could barely lift it. I'm a lot more sensible now and only do a few things at a time, to stop me from doing a red-faced stagger back to the kitchen, as that just isn't professional. Now that I'm used to it though I'm using it as a bit of a workout, might as well get paid to lift weights all day!

People are really gross.

The final thing that I've learnt is that people can be really disgusting. When I've been clearing tables I've had to pick up all sorts of things, from snotty tissues, half-chewed up bits of food in a napkin and used plasters, with blood on them. Ew. Seriously, why can't they just put them on their plate at least so we can use the cutlery to put them in the bin, instead of loose all over the table. From now on whenever I eat in a cafe I will always leave all my rubbish so neat and tidy for the people who have to clear it away.

So, they are the 5 things I've learnt so far from doing temp work. I'm back at the cafe again this week, and it's actually a really lovely place, I've never worked anywhere that looks after their staff so well. We have an unlimited amount of squash we can drink whilst we work, and they provide food for all the staff in the lunch room, and it's good quality stuff, a soup, a salad and bread every day. Crazy. As it's quite a posh cafe I'm also enjoying listening out for posh kids names. My favourite so far is a child called Almond. Love it! 

Rachel x

Monday, 31 October 2016

A Day Out at the Cotswold Wildlife Park

My lovely friend Emma came to visit the other weekend, and as it was a gloriously sunny October Saturday, we decided to head to Cotswold Wildlife Park and spend the day looking at the animals. This is going to be quite a picture heavy blog post, so if pictures of cute animals isn't your thing, I don't blame you if you skip to the end of this one.

Obviously the first place we headed to was the penguins, because they're super cute. One of the major positives of this wildlife park is how close you get to all of the animals, you could reach out to touch most of them, even though there were signs saying not to usually as you may get pecked/bitten.

The penguins were having a great time playing in the water and staring at us staring at them, and I managed to get a lot of photos.

Next up were the meerkats, who I've seen before at Tropical World and they were still just as cute this time. I loved seeing these two sat by the wall, looking as if they were having a chat. Just like the adverts.

The next section had prairie dogs, and I had no idea they were so cute! They'd just had their lunch put out so we got to see them all sat together having a good munch, and I don't know what I managed to catch with the bottom photo, but it looks like he's doing a big sneeze!

There was a huge selection of various birds for us to look at, way more than I've got pictures of here, in a way it reminded me slightly of visiting Thorpe Perrow as the selection was so wide! I loved the owls the most though, and I enjoyed the kookaburra songs again.

We headed into a huge greenhouse type building where there were loads of amazing flowers and plants, fruit bats, birds and this sloth which we managed to get a glimpse of swinging around on the roof. He vanished pretty quickly (for a sloth) though, and we couldn't spot him afterwards. Sorry to my friend Jen for the picture of the sloth - she really hates them!

As we exited a building and were heading to another area I was surprised by these huge fish in a pond. Not your usual exhibit in a zoo, but these fish were beautiful.

The reptile, bat and insect houses are fantastic, full of different things. The most disgusting ones to Emma and I were the cockroaches. They are so grim! I'll be forever thankful that we don't have them in this country.

The Madagascar section where you walk with the lemurs was amazing, especially as they would all run together to sit in the sun like in the pictures above. They almost look a bit like they're meditating, which is adorable! Even though they were running all around us they still kept their distance, which was a relief - I don't know if I'd like a lemur to jump on me!

The other monkeys were really cute as well, I loved these ones with the ginger tummies, especially this cheeky chap who had his tongue out. I don't know if you follow me on instagram (@inelegantwench) but if you saw my story from that day you'd have heard the Siamangs, who were so loud! We heard a shouting laughing noise from a fair distance away and followed it to see them having a right laugh together and making SO much noise. Definitely awe inspiring.

The farm section was adorable, they had house mice and rats in kitchen set ups (behind glass) and it was so cute. The pigs, ponies, guinea pigs and rabbits were all super cute too, and it was a lovely little section of the park, and great as kids could pet the animals.

There was a walk with the goats section in the farm, where the goats were super tame, and would walk up to you asking to be petted. There was two of them who were having great fun locking horns, and it was great to watch, until they made their way up towards me, and I ended up in the middle of them both. I got out of there so quickly!

There were other little exhibits dotted about and I was fascinated to see an armadillo. I had no idea that they were so hairy! Also, have you heard about the man in Texas who shot an armadillo, but the bullet bounced off its shell and he ended up shooting himself? Mental.

The zebras were so majestic, I don't think I've ever seen them in real life before, and their coat (is it coat? Skin? That just sounds weird...) was so shiny and lush looking. Zebras really are just better horses.

The rhinos were awesome, just chilling, looking as grumpy as ever. I loved how all the animals had plenty of space to roam, so it was almost like a drive through experience, but safer, as there was a fence in the way.

I don't believe I'd ever seen giraffes in real life before as well, and they are incredible creatures. At one point they walked past the walkway and I could have reached out and petted them. Insane. They're so incredible. After a short time a group of people arrived to have a feed the giraffe experience, and they immediately headed inside to get all the food!

I absolutely loved our day out at the wildlife park, I'll definitely visit again, and will probably end up getting annual passes as it's such a good place to head with visitors and friends, as you can have a good chat whilst wandering around the park. Have you ever been here before?

Rachel x

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Honeymoon | Celebrity Equinox Food

So, on Wednesdays a few months ago I was chatting all about my wedding and honeymoon, so if you want to catch up, feel free. There was one more post though, and I have saved the best til last though, the cruise food!

Rich and I are huge foodies, and we love to go out to eat, so by going on a cruise we knew that the standard of eating was going to be very high!

As I mentioned in my ship tour post there are two main restaurants, a sit down table service one, and a buffet all you can eat one. We ate most of our breakfasts at the buffet restaurant, which had pretty much everything breakfast related you could think of, and probably every type of bacon you can get, as well as things like curry and burritos. I may have ended every breakfast with waffles, jam and cream, which is apparently a breakfast food? Not complaining at all though! We did have a couple in the posh sit down restaurant though, and a few before trips in our bedroom, which was very nice!

Lunches were a varied affair, often we were on excursions, which meant they provided us with some food whilst we were out, but on sea days we'd often go to the posher restaurant, as they did really good lunches. The gorgeous brownie in the picture above was a lunch time dessert, and I think it may have been my favourite dessert of the whole cruise. It was just peak brownie.

Every afternoon at 4pm we would have canapes delivered to our room, as part of the package we were on, and it was always great fun opening the lid to see what we'd got that day. It was a little odd that in a room for two people we got one of everything, but we tended to have a bite each of each thing so we could try everything. It was a great little start to our evenings, as we'd usually be in our bathrobes slowly getting ready at this point.

We ate every evening meal in the main restaurant, aside from our visits to the speciality restaurants and the one time we got stuck in a river in Colombia so missed our slot and went to the buffet. The service was top notch at all the restaurants, and the wine waiters (sommeliers) were amazing. We would tell them what types of wine we usually like and they'd just appear next to us with bottles to try from, and then they'd just keep topping up your glass throughout your meal. We may have gotten very tipsy most nights whilst eating our meals, as neither of us have the highest tolerance for wine.

There was always a bread basket on the table, which as we were usually a bit tipsy, we would hit, hard. As we were on our own little table of two I didn't feel embarrassed by it, so if we go on a cruise again I'll definitely make sure to try and get our own table!

We'd be presented with a menu, which changed daily, and I found it so hard to make decisions. However, we soon learnt that if we couldn't decide, we were allowed to have two of a course, at no extra charge, or trouble to anyone. Yep, I basically had two desserts every night once I discovered that. Amazing!

As I knew that if I didn't like something I could always have something else, I took the opportunity to try a lot of foods I'd never had before, like frogs legs (basically just scrawny chicken wings), snails (one of the best foods in existence) and baked Alaska. It was great getting to try things I'd always wanted to, without having to run the gauntlet of potentially getting menu regret.

The speciality restaurants on our ship were all excellent, there was a very very posh bistro type one, a gourmet pub grub type one, and Silk Harvest, which was Asian fusion (pictured above) and that one was our favourite, so we headed back there on the last night, and I ate so much food I could barely walk back to our room afterwards.

All of the food was incredible, and it is no wonder at all that I put on 10lb in two weeks. Next time we go on a cruise, I am definitely dieting down before we go, so I don't end up in the same situation where half my clothes don't fit me part way through the trip!

This is the last post of the wedding and honeymoon series now, and I hope you've enjoyed reading about it all. I also did a vlog of the honeymoon which you can watch below:

It's nearly our year wedding anniversary now, and it has flown so quickly!

Rachel x

Monday, 17 October 2016

Back in the Real World...

I am so glad to be back, and boy do I have a lot to tell you!

The Move / New House

The move went really well, we didn't pack this time, we let them do it for us, and it was SO much better. Not having to worry about boxes being everywhere meant that normal life pretty much carried on for us up until the day before, whereas normally I'm surrounded by boxes for weeks before hand. 
One of my highlights of the move was the removals guys complimenting us on our huge selection of games and consoles - #geeklife!

Now I mentioned in my last post that I was worried about not having seen any photos of the house so had no idea if all our stuff would fit. It meant that as soon as we arrived down south I wanted to drive to our new house and peer into the windows (like a stalker) and from that I was a lot more relieved, but obviously couldn't see upstairs. On our moving in day I was so eager, and as the lady was showing us round with our keys I was doing my happy dance. The house is huge. Even though we've downsized from a 3 bed to a 2 bed, the master bedroom in this house is insane, and it's even got a little extra room leading off it. I'll do a house tour soon, as I'm sure you all want to be nosy.

Talking of the little extra room, it is the perfect size for an office (or nursery but let's not go there quite yet!) but it has no plug sockets. I know. It has a window, a radiator, and even a phone socket, but no electric sockets. What the actual?! We're attempting to see if we can have some put in, but what else can I do with it? I was thinking reading room, but it'll be useless when it's winter as we can't put a lamp in there. At the minute it's known as the room with no purpose, and shall remain that way until it gains a function!

The Job Situation

Leaving my last job was really sad, the girls were so lovely and amazing, and I was utterly spoilt with leaving gifts. I even had a custom cake made for me by my friend Anna, with a little model of me sat on top at my desk, working away. It nearly made me cry when I saw it as I was so touched. I don't think I've had a custom made cake made for me since I was very very small, so it meant a lot to me.

Before I moved I'd spent some time applying for jobs down here, mainly ones on the base Rich is working at, as they'd be super convenient. Whilst I was on the website I happened to notice a job at the UK Space Agency, which sounded really cool from the job description. I didn't quite meet the minimum entry requirements, but I thought I'd go for it anyway, because I'd got nothing to lose. They offered me an interview, which was scheduled for a week after we moved in, and I was gobsmacked. I thought I had no chance, and I'd been offered an interview! Well, after a very nervous interview, I only went and got the job didn't I!!! I was so surprised, I was dancing around the house with excitement and happiness for hours.

The only downside is that the new job requires me to have some security clearance done, and as I was changing my address on everything, it took a little while to get the paperwork together that was required, but it's all been sent off now and I'm just awaiting the clearance back then I can start work. It does mean that I've had 5 weeks off so far, which is crazy, but very much needed, as I finally feel like I've recovered from the crazy commute I was doing.

All of this means that I should hopefully begin to blog more often, at least until I start work again, but as the commute is less than half of what it was before I'm hoping that I'll have time for hobbies again!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

An Adventure Is Coming...

Things are crazy again. I mean, when aren't things in my life a bit mental? It always nicely calms itself down before something else comes along and screws everything up again.

So, the big news...

Rich has been posted, so we're moving house, cities and counties to start a new life near(ish) to Oxford!

We'd been ready for a move for a while, the longer commute (even with going part time) was getting worse and worse, and with a change in working hours meaning that for 2 out of my 4 days I pretty much do nothing other than wake up, drive, work, drive, eat, sleep; I didn't know how much longer I could hack it for. We also really miss a lot of our friends, especially those on the south coast, and luckily from Oxford weekend visits are going to be a lot more doable again.

I told my manager as soon as I knew we were leaving, and handed in my notice a few weeks ago, and I only have 6 more working days left now. It feels really bizzare leaving a job without having another one lined up, but hopefully I won't be out of work for too long.

Moving with the RAF for the first time is going to be interesting. We know where we'll be living, but haven't seen a floor plan or any pictures of our new house, so please keep everything crossed for me that all our furniture will fit! We don't have a garage down there so we might be doing furniture obstacle courses for while if we've got too much.

Even though I am a bit nervous, and not looking forward to doing all the address changing admin rubbish that comes with moving (for the second time in a year) I'm mostly excited. I love exploring new areas of the country, and I can't wait to be able to see more of my southern friends.

I'll try to keep you updated with everything that goes on, and you'll find me over on Twitter and Instagram (@inelegantwench for both) in the meantime.

Rachel x

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Honeymoon | Celebrity Equinox Caribbean Excursions

Celebrity Equinox Caribbean Excursions

If you've missed my other honeymoon posts, you can catch up here (a tour of the ship, and our stay in Miami before we embarked).

Today I'm going to be talking about the excursions we went on whilst on the cruise. Being able to go and actually do things was one of the reasons why we chose a cruise for our honeymoon - as much as we enjoy lounging around, we'd be bored after a week of nothing but that!

Cozumel, Mexico

Okay, so there are no photos from the first port we stopped in - we had originally opted to go on a food experience; going to a Mexican market with the ships chef, then cook up a meal with him in the ships kitchen. Sounds awesome, right? 

Unfortunately though the excursion got cancelled the night before as there wasn't enough people booked onto it. Major sad-face. So a (rather tipsy) Rich and I started trying to choose another excursion, as luckily there were about 10 things which sounded awesome on the excursion list for Mexico (in every port there must have been easily over 30 options of things to do - so there's always at least one activity which would be your cup of tea!). 

We chose to go to the Amazing Secret Underground River - but we were told that we weren't to take any phones, money or valuables with us, so that's why there are no photos at all from it. 

It was incredible, we got suited up in wet suits, water shoes and hard-hats with life jackets and headed into the caves. They were only recently discovered, and the water was deliciously cool. We walked and waded through the cave system, and at parts we couldn't touch the floor so had to float through. When the guide turned off his torch it was pitch black, and there were native fish we could see in the water with us. 

Once we'd had our adventure through the caves we got showered and dried off and then were treated to a delicious Mexican feast before heading back to the ship. I loved it, and definitely want to return to Mexico one day!

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

The excursion we chose for Costa Rica was a nature walk through the rainforest and learning how sugar is made. One of my favourite parts of most of the excursions was the coach travel through the country to get to the sites - it was a fantastic way to get a glimpse of the country and how people live there. 

It was interesting seeing all of the plantain plantations, and the animals, and helping to make sugar from sugar cane was fascinating. I never knew that they got sugar from the liquid of sugar cane! 

This day was quite chilled and definitely educational, and finished up with a costa rican feast for lunch. We ate a lot of rice and beans and plantain - which were yummy!

Colon, Panama

Panama was one of the scariest places that we visited, once we left the cruise port you drove alongside an area of high rise flats, where everyone seemed to be packed into living really close together, with strings of washing hanging between buildings. It was like something out of a film. But after only about 5 minutes or so of this we were out in the regular town area heading to the zoo!

We got split off into smaller groups and each got a tour guide to show us around the zoo and tell us about all the animals. The zoo itself was pretty small, but with the tour guide it made it very interesting still. The toucans were proper characters, when we were in their enclosure, if we tried to take a picture of anything that wasn't them, they'd literally slide in front of you along the hand rail and start posing.

After the zoo it was back on the coach for some water and the muffin from breakfast we'd snuck out with us whilst we traveled to Gatun Locks. If you don't know, the Panama Canal is one of the most famous canals in the world, as it is a through route between the Atlantic and the Pacific ocean. They charge an absolute fortune to pass through it, and it's where Panama gets nearly all of it's money from.

We went to the viewing platform - touristy place, and in my honest opinion it was a bit boring. It's all very industrial, as it is a working locks, with lots of machinery and stuff around, and waiting for the locks to fill and empty takes forever. At least we went though, and I've now seen it. They're building a new set of locks to allow larger ships to pass through the canal, and that bit was quite interesting to see from the coach.

Cartagena, Colombia

We had two days in Colombia, which meant we had the chance for two activities! If it was up to me I'd have preferred two days in Mexico, as that was where we struggled to choose an activity as there were so many, but hey, we found two things we wanted to do, so all was well.

On the first day we chose to head to a private island, where we would have the whole island to ourselves (the group of us from the ship) to relax and use the water sport activities provided. We took the speed boat to the island and spent a really pleasant day in the hammocks, eating an epic lunch, playing in the water, and having a massage. 

The massage was interesting... The ladies spoke barely a word of English, but we negotiated a price and Rich and I hopped on a bed each. Now, usually when you have a full body massage it just includes the head, neck, shoulders, arms, legs and feet. This lady also massaged my bum, stomach and boobs, including my nipples, under my bikini! I was very shocked, but she moved away so quickly that I didn't get chance to say anything, but her hands kept going under my top! Definitely an experience! 

It was a very windy day on the island, so the operators decided we should head back a little early to the ship, as the water was going to be choppy on the speed boat. 

Choppy was an understatement. Rich and I were sat near the back of the boat in the shade, and as the boat was hitting the waves, sheets of water were coming over the boat and over our heads. I'm quite scared of water, and never put my full head under water, so having what felt like buckets of water poured over my head constantly for around 30 minutes was terrifying. Rich was hugging me, and we had a towel to put over my head, but it made no difference as there was just so much water and it was so constant. Eventually we came to a halt, and I burst into tears as I was so scared and so relieved that it was over. Dramatic much! Luckily the other people were really lovely, they let me go to the front of the boat and gave me a dry towel to sort myself out with.

You'd think our ordeal was over, right? Nope. The boat had broken down in the mouth of the river we were going to take as a shortcut back to the ship. The three guys immediately set to work, as sunset was coming, and they were getting pretty scared, as Colombia isn't always the safest of places. To be honest though, I was perfectly happy as I wasn't getting soaked anymore! We watched the vultures (literally) circle overhead, I helped a 5 year old girl to have a wee off the side of the boat, and got to know the fellow passengers whilst we watched the sun set over the rice fields. 

Eventually they got the boat started again and we headed back to the ship, dripping wet. I was so thankful to be back on the ship again, and to get showered and dried off. 

The next day we had booked a boat tour of Cartagena, with a visit to a fort with great views. As we disembarked from the ship and headed to the boat, it was only the same boat as we'd been on the day before. I was so scared! It was interesting to see the coast though and to learn the history of Colombia. The fort was also pretty great, but it was so hot. One of the hottest days of the cruise so far!

Right next to the cruise port, there was a little grassed area with flamingos, so on our way back to the ship on the second day we went to go and have a look at them. As we were looking, we saw this iguana just stroll over, on the footpath and find some shade to chill out in. They're often found in the wild in Caribbean countries, a bit like squirrels in the UK. So weird! They even eat them sometimes.

George Town, Grand Cayman

George Town was our last stop on the cruise, and it was a gorgeous place. We booked onto a excursion to a town called Hell, and a Turtle Sanctuary. If we were to ever visit George Town again, we wouldn't bother pre-booking we don't think, as it was by far the nicest and safest place that we visited, with loads of people offering excursions in the cruise port, for a lot cheaper than we paid! 

Hell was a super quick stop, but my only chance to send a postcard during the holiday, so I had to speedily buy, write and post 6 postcards in the space of 10 minutes. I did it, but what I wrote wasn't particularly good or legible! The rock formations were brilliant though, it used to be underwater, so when it wasn't anymore this is what was left, and it really does look like Hell.

The turtle sanctuary was one of our highlights of the honeymoon. Unfortunately they eat turtles in Grand Cayman, so the sanctuary aims to breed the turtles in order to repopulate the wild, as well as being a tourist attraction. We got to see turtles at different ages, and the old girls were absolutely huge! I got to hold a turtle, as seen in the picture above, and best of all, we got to swim with them. There was like a lazy river area where some of the turtles lived, and we could wear snorkles and swim around with them. It was a once in a lifetime experience and utterly incredible! 

So that's a round up of all of the excursions we did whilst on our honeymoon! They did cost a fair bit of money, but they were (almost) all worth it, and we definitely got a good taste of each of the countries we visited. 

Next week I'll be uploading my post about all the food we ate on the cruise, and you'll finally get to see why I managed to put on so much weight!

Rachel x

PS- I also did a vlog of the honeymoon which you can check out below
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