Whenever I travel I always prefer to stay in an apartment or house rather than a hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I love a boutique hotel as much as the next person but you really get a lot more for your money when you go self-catering.
After saying goodbye to the Gold Coast, Gala, Shauna and I hopped on a plane with Celeste from Tourism and Events Queensland, our photographer Janneke Storm and headed up to Cairns. We’d had such an amazing time so far that we weren’t sure how anything was going to top it – oh how wrong we were!
After a short flight we landed in tropical North Queensland and took a car up the coastal road to Port Douglas. As we’d had such a non-stop trip so far I really hadn’t had any time to do any research on where we were staying so needless to say I got the shock of my life when we pulled up here.
We were hosted by Executive Retreats (this is the house we stayed in) who specialise in luxury accommodation in Port Douglas and the surrounding areas. If you’re considering Australia for a honeymoon destination, then you need to put it on your must-visit list. No question.
Not only is it as close to paradise as you can possibly get, but all my favourite activities happened while we were here – snorkelling on the great barrier reef (which I’ll be writing about next week), a sunset boat ride and jungle surfing in the Daintree Rainforest!
Shauna and I shared the master bedroom (it was too good for one of us to have it on our own). The en suite bathroom alone was bigger than my living room at home!
The next adventure on our whistle-stop tour of Queensland was Surfers Paradise. After a quick drive from Dreamworld with our Tourism and Events guide for the day, Jess, we arrived ready for a surf lesson and bike tour!
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to surfing. Although I love the water I’m not the most athletic of people and the thought of hurling myself into some rather giant and scary looking waves filled me a little with dread.
You can’t really tell from this photo, but that’s a grin that says “OMG are we actually really doing this?!”
The beach was glorious, with the Gold Coast skyline just behind it. As Shauna lounged in the sun, Gala and I headed over to meet our surf teacher, Patrick from Cheyne Horan School of Surf.
Patrick didn’t seem to sense our trepidation (or if he did he definitely ignored it!) and he dived right in to the lesson. He also clearly had much more faith in our abilities than we did because after the briefest of introductions he told us to head out into the waves and give it a go. ARGH!
I glanced at Gala nervously and could sense her thinking the exact same thing as I was “Oh crap, are we actually really doing this?”
When the initial email from Celeste at Tourism and Events Queensland came into The Blogcademy inbox asking us if we’d consider an all-expenses paid trip to Queensland I nearly deleted it, assuming it must be spam. I mean, this kind of opportunity doesn’t exactly come knocking on your door everyday. After verifying that Celeste wasn’t, in fact, just playing a rather cruel prank, we started to plan our epic adventure down under!
Skip forward eight months or so and we were finally there. Celeste and her team had pulled out all the stops and scheduled an action packed five days for us including koala cuddles, surf lessons, boutique hotels and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef! I’m so excited to share some of my highlights with you guys over the next few weeks. This new Honeymoon Travel Guide feature of mine is working out quite nicely don’t you think?
Queensland isn’t somewhere I’d ever really considered visiting before, but after this trip I can say with the utmost sincerity that I will be going back, only next time I’m bringing Gareth with me – this tropical paradise is just made for lovers!
Not content with just doing one collection together, Sophie of Crown and Glory and I decided early on in our collaboration that an Autumn/Winter range would need to be on the cards. Of course I love the rainbow, neon pop insanity of the first collection but I was also really excited to get a little bit deep, dark and moody for this second incarnation.
I am not one of those girls that looks forward to ‘Fall’. My neon loving self absolutely hates when the shops start to get full of chunky knits, winter boots, burgundy, forest green and mustard (yuk!) These colours just aren’t my bag at all. However I am a bit of a closet goth at heart, and this time of year I pretty much revert back to wearing all black (with a dash of glitter so I don’t get too depressed). I am so completely obsessed with this Timeless Plum Maybelline lip stain (see!?)
Black, gold, grey and glitter I can get on board with, so this was the starting point and inspiration for this collection. This is Autumn/Winter fashion for those that hate Autumn/Winter fashion!
Sophie is a true original. Her creativity knows no bounds and her only limit is her imagination! Always game for a laugh she’s never one to turn down a party invitation… as long as she can wear something big and glittery on her head!
Sophie glitter and gold flower crown – £25
Sophie glitter and silver flower crown – £25 (my new fave, it looks SO AMAZING on!)
Elbie is fun, feisty and loves to experiment with fashion and style. Her hair changes colour more often than anyone I know and her make up is anything but conventional. A little bit punk, with a smidge of old school goth, Elbie is a babe that loves to stand out from the in-crowd.
Elbie gold glitter crown – £25
I’m not going to pretend for one second that I’m some kind of expert in the world of travel or honeymoons. BUT you may have noticed that I’ve done rather a lot of globe-trotting over the past 12 months. And as we’re about to launch our 2014 Blogcademy world tour in a couple of weeks it would appear that it’s not really going to change any time soon!
So I figured, why not share some of the places I’ve visited and the experiences I’ve most enjoyed with you lovely lot? First up is a honeymooners paradise - Santorini.
For her 30th birthday Gala decided that she wanted to whisk us away to the Greek Islands. Of course Shauna and I weren’t complaining! Ever the travel guide, she organised most of it (so I can’t take any credit!) but what I can do is share the things we loved on our trip. Hum… it’s my 30th in April, I wonder if we can top this?
Whenever I travel, an apartment rental service like Air B&B or GowithOh! are my hosts of choice. Not only are the houses and apartments usually much cheaper than staying in a hotel, I personally think you get a much more authentic and interesting experience not being hauled up in tourist city.
For this trip we stayed in this apartment, in Oia. I kid you not, it had the best view on the whole island and the private balcony overlooking the ocean completely sold it to us. Our host, Nicolas, was also amazing. He and his porter Vasilis, (who carried our 25kg bags up and down those stairs with ease!) were attentive, helpful and made our stay a total pleasure!
One of the questions I get asked over and over again is what would Gareth and I do differently if we were getting married today. Of course my answer is always “so much!”. Both of us have changed considerably over the last five and a half years and our styles and tastes couldn’t be more different to how they were back in 2008.
As many of you will have read last week, Lisa asked if we would model at the two year anniversary of her Photography Farm. During every workshop she organises a styled shoot for her students to practice what they’ve learnt, but more than just that, she always pushes herself and her team to come up with something creative that reflects the real-life couple who are modelling.
When we started chatting about the kind of shoot Gareth and I might have, we began by discussing the whole “how would you do your wedding differently?” question. And then Lisa had a brainwave. Photography workshops are supposed to be all about teaching aspiring wedding photographers how to book, shoot and process weddings, but they only ever give the students the chance to practice these things in an unnatural situation – i.e. a styled shoot. Sure, the couple might be real and the styling authentic, but getting the shot when you have two hours to work with the couple is a totally different beast to needing to nail it first time and getting creative within your ten minute allocated time-slot for couple portraits.