I am sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but thanks for taking the time out to comment on the last blog – I actually worked right up until we were almost ready to fly to Mexico! I normally have a day or two’s grace, but it was nice in a way and for once Colin and I packed our cases the day before! That said, I still took far too many clothes, and I had been determined to scale it down this year! It felt as though the alarm went off minutes after we’d got into bed, but we headed to Gatwick Airport and treated ourselves to a fabulous brunch of Eggs Benedict in Jamie Oliver’s Diner. The flight to Mexico takes 11 hours – slightly less time at 9 1/2 hours on the return journey. When I first started having holidays abroad, part of the fun was getting dressed up to travel, but I’ve learned over the years that comfort is key! I’ve got a favourite Coco Bianco maxi dress that I wear with a hoodie, and it looks pretty cool with my flight socks :).
The flight was great – I watched two films and slept a little and before I realised, we’d landed in Cancun at 4:30 pm Mexican time. The temperature was 29° and the sun was shining – I could not have been happier. Well, that’s not strictly true, because unfortunately our taxi didn’t turn up so we spent a good hour or so liaising with our hotel, before a local taxi firm agreed to take us to the port of Chequila. It was a bit of a bumpy two and a half hour journey along unlit roads, so we sadly missed the beautiful mangrove swamps and wildlife, but we were safely deposited at the ferry port, and took the 15-minute ferry ride to Holbox Island.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you may remember Colin and I made a day visit to this island last year when we were in Mexico. I fell completely in love with it. There was something about the white sand, blue sea and tranquillity of the place that made my shoulders drop and allow me to leave the worries of the world behind me. For me it was the perfect choice when we were deciding on a special treat for my 60th birthday and we were not remotely disappointed. The hotel could not have been more accommodating and because we’d had to wait for transport, they upgraded us to a huge and beautiful bedroom with a walk-out veranda complete with hammocks! Whitewashed walls, muslin curtains and a stunning sea view awaited us when we awoke the following morning, along with the sunshine. 🙂
The island of Holbox is quite small – 26 miles long and just one mile wide. There are no vehicles, just bicycles and golf carts that are hired out to tourists and used as taxis. The town itself is tiny; just dirt roads and a village square. Tourists tend to mingle with the local people, and although as you’d expect there are souvenir shops, restaurants and bars, it’s quiet and relaxed and spending time there is a wonderful way to appreciate Mexican culture . We had booked for just one week and decided on bed and breakfast, although the hotel offered food all day round, cooked to order. The breakfast was delicious – fresh fruit, eggs anyway you like them, pancakes, bacon – even enchiladas and Mexican scrambled eggs with a dash of chilli. From the hotel we crossed a pathway and the white sand, turquoise sea and azure blue skyline were exactly as I had remembered them. Paradise found!
There isn’t a lot to do on Holbox and that was why it appealed to us. Colin had been working on an incredibly heavy building project and for the previous four months was working seven days a week. We’d barely seen each other, and although it may suit some folk, we found it difficult. It’s easy to become distanced from each other, so this holiday was perfectly timed. On our first day there we walked 7km up and then back down the beach. We stopped at a beachside bar and had guacamole and a cold beer, and I felt the worries of the previous six months fade in to the background. The perfect antidote to stress – I just wish it was available on prescription for everyone! The white sand that is indicative to this island is created out of crushed coral that has been created over millions of years and is incredibly soft to walk on. The water is ankle deep and barely tidal, so you can walk for miles in both directions along the coast.
The weather was hot – between 28 and 30°, and as my skin hadn’t seen the sunshine since last September I knew I was going to have to be careful. I decided to try for the first time Ultrasun’s SPF30 Body Tan Activator. I’ve been using the Face SPF 30 for a couple of years now, but I was mightily impressed with the speed my skin tanned. I had been using Gatineau’s Tan Accelerator as a body moisturiser for the previous month and that always helps, but this is me on day four – I didn’t burn at all!
Colin also used the Body Protection and his skin was a gentle ginger by day four. This little lizard was pretty impressed with the product too! I also used the Tweak’d Dhatelo Restore Treatment Oil on my hair every day, and am delighted with the condition of it.
We walked every day, sometimes towards the town other times towards the point. Apart from this stretch of coast that has a small number of hotels, the rest of the island is mainly mangrove swamps and provides a home to all kinds of creatures – monkeys, iguanas, ring tailed lemurs and racoons. On the coastline there are pelicans, herons, guillemots and flamingos, and in the water not just fish, but stingrays, turtles and the occasional shark! A great deal of the coast is protected and kept safe for all the wildlife, and the Mexican government work hard at conservation.
We ate enchiladas, quesadilla, guacamole nachos and beautiful grilled local fish, but we avoided the crazily hot chilli dips! Margaritas became my favourite cocktail, although I’ve never drunk tequila before, and after eating out in town we would walk along the beach back to our hotel. It really was idyllic and we had the best of times. I think both of us realised how lucky we were as the weather remained sunny from morning until night, and when we left Holbox to head down the Mayan Riviera towards Tulum for our second week, the temperature was even warmer. We returned to the same resort and hotel that we stayed in before, and were not disappointed. Last year we spent the end of March and beginning of April in Mexico and the weather was sublime. In February though, there was a stiff breeze blowing most afternoons that kept the stillness of the heat off. The water was clear and warm but the coastline was very different – rocky and pretty deep water with a strong tide, but the sand was still white and soft. We saw lots of fish in the water, these hermit crabs, plenty of iguanas, but sadly no raccoons this time. Colin had booked ahead of our visit so we had a dinner reserved in the Thai, Mexican, Brazilian and French restaurants that are set up within the hotel complex. We were also booked in for a fabulous gala night where they served us with the most delicious lobster!
I was pretty certain the saxophonist had spoken to Colin before we arrived as every tune he played that night was a favourite of mine, and his finale was the Erroll Garner classic Misty – the song played when Colin proposed to me on Valentine’s Day – it was magical. I have to admit though to a rather funny wardrobe malfunction that night. When we left the restaurant we went to the bar and met a lovely group of Canadians. We sat chatting for quite some time and then decided to move to the beach where live music was being played. As I stood up I realised that Beryl my breast prosthesis had slipped from her pinned position and now looked like a small growth on my stomach! I made a joke of it but our newly found friends were more than a little shocked, so having realised I had lost the safety pin I had to stuff Beryl in my bag and we cut the evening short. It didn’t spoil it for me at all, although a couple of years or so back I think I would’ve felt differently.
Sadly, all good things come to end and we were back in the UK by the weekend feeling more than a little concerned that Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis may have wreaked their revenge on our rather old house. We had kept up with the news from home and had been horrified to hear of the devastation this dreadful weather had caused. Luckily apart from a missing BBQ cover, a few lost roof tiles and a small leak in the roof, all was well. I had though forgotten to water my Peace Lily, but just 24 hours after a thorough dousing with Richard Jackson’s Flower Power it had completely recovered!
Lucy and Honey came to stay on Friday and we had a lovely time at Dorney Lake where Honey showed me that she can now pedal her own little bicycle! Clever girl 🙂
You may well have seen me back at the Q this last weekend – I ordered the Plants2Gardens TSV as it was too good not to, and then had great fun with Jacquie Joseph and our Nina Leonard Fashion hour on Sunday. This week’s Diamonique show has a cracking line up of luxury jewellery designs, and then in celebration of the additional day in February, Vonda Barnes and I will be leaping into Saturday with a Skechers TSV – a lightweight, mesh, lace-up trainer for a really great price!
I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to some more of the QVC Podcasts – last week’s was my lovely colleague Glen Campbell, and next week Will Gowing is putting together a special podcast to celebrate our Inspirational Women Event. He has included a segment from my podcast episode which I feel enormously humbled by. I hope you enjoy this blog and the photos, and I’ll look forward to hearing from you when you have a moment.
With my love,