Iceland, and an engagement!

In early November, we went to Iceland for a little pre-trip break. I am usually the one who takes the lead in holiday planning, and actually enjoy doing all the research and looking at hotels etc, but this time Richard wanted organise everything so it was a nice change for me just to pack, pick up my passport and go.

We arrived on the Friday night to an incredibly windy and cold afternoon, picked up the hire car and stopped off at the supermarket for a few essentials before heading to our accommodation. We were staying in Glymer, around 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik in an amazing villa which even had its own outdoor hot tub! Dinner was an absolutely enormous steak, sweet potato fries and spinach. After popping open some Veuve and almost getting our heads blown off we headed to bed as we had a big day planned.
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After a lovely breakfast at the main hotel, I finally got to see properly where we were staying – right by a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery. Definitely a ‘pinch yourself’ moment! We headed out in the car to Thingvellir National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site), where you can see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates. I was wrapped up in all my layers and even being outside for a few minutes I could feel the tips of my fingers starting to pinch with the cold! We then headed over to Reykjavik for some lunch, and found a great place via Trip Advisor called Baejarins Beztu that apparently sold the best hot dog in Europe. Not sure about that but it was pretty tasty and warmed my hands for a few minutes!

After lunch we headed over the Blue Lagoon, which is perhaps the place I had been most looking forward to in Iceland! Driving up to it is a surreal experience itself, with a moonscape environment and nothing but a power plant surrounding it. We picked up our robes, and went to change into our swimwear. There is nothing like it when you head outside, steaming milky blue water, surrounded by rock with large plumes of sulphur heading into the air! We floated over to the bar and had a banana smoothie each, followed by a silica face pack which you take from large containers on each side of the lagoon. Another lovely surprise from Richard was a floating massage – which he had managed to book at sunset. Lying on a huge float with a man in basically a giant sodden dressing gown massaging my shoulders, looking up into the sky was quite the experience!

After drying off and conditioning my hair about 5 times (the blue lagoon turns your hair to straw!) we headed back to Reykjavik for dinner at a great place called Fisk, where we both had the Icelandic tasting menu. Really recommend this if you are ever in the area. We then started driving back to our villa, but there was a few more special moments to come that evening! After driving for about 20 – 30 minutes I started seeing hints of green light in the sky, and then after about 10 minutes of teasing we were lucky enough to see an amazing Northern Lights show in front of us. Truly an experience I’ll always remember. Richard was incredibly excited and even when we got back to the villa and they had died down, he kept asking me to come outside and look at them. As we’d been on the go all day and it was almost midnight, I started to take off my many layers and get ready for bed. What I didn’t know at this point was that Richard was trying to find the right moment to propose, and had his heart set on doing it on the Saturday. I was looking out to the lake through the french windows when I heard a very serious sounding Richard say ‘Fiona’. Anyone that knows me well knows that it’s quite unusual for anyone to call me Fiona so I had the feeling something was up! I started smiling and didn’t turn around, so he repeated ‘Fiona’. I turned around and there was Richard, on one knee, ring in hand! He asked me to marry him, and after a few stunned seconds where I just smiled and stared at him, I said ‘YES!’. It was such a lovely moment, and quite typical of us. it was lovely to spend the rest of the evening laughing about how stressed Richard had apparently been all day, and we waited until the next day to call our friends and family to share the good news. I am over the moon with the beautiful ring Richard chose to give me, it’s perfect!
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So, what better way to spend your first day as an engaged couple than whale watching! After dressing up in 7 layers, I was given a big red suit by the boating company to wear – very chic. We headed out to sea and were lucky enough to see lots of dolphins (my favourites!). It was quite bumpy at times, and we were glad we had taken an anti-sea sickness table before we left! Always much better to be up on the deck in the fresh air rather than below deck,feeling queasy. After about 3.5 hours at sea, we headed back. By this point I was convinced I was getting frostbite in my toes and was the coldest I had ever been so this was quite a relief! On the way back, us and another couple thought we saw a huge splash and outline and raised the alarm but the guide said we didn’t have time to go any nearer and carried on. So perhaps an unofficial whale sighting, but still a whale sighting nonetheless! We spent the evening relaxing at the villa, and drinking in the hot tub which was so relaxing now the wind had died down.
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On our final day, we drove around the Golden Circle to see Gullfoss – a huge, stunning waterfall, and the Geyser. Both were spectacular and Iceland is well worth visiting to see these amazing natural wonders. We headed to the airport, and I picked up a handmade Icelandic Christmas tree decoration to remember our special trip. On the way back, there was one more treat. We are both huge fans of a singer called Kwabs, and when he released tickets for Brighton a few months ago we both unknowingly bought tickets for each other at exactly the same time! Well, who was on our plane on the way home, but Kwabs! He had just played at the Airwaves music festival in Rekyyjavik. We said hello, and then laughed in our seats at the oddity of it all! Richard wrote to him on Instagram a few days later, and Kwabs reposted it to his Instagram and Twitter followers, thanks Kwabs. If you haven’t listened to him before, I strongly suggest you watch this video.

Iceland was such a fantastic experience, and I’m so grateful to Richard for organising such a well organised and enjoyable trip but for also choosing such a beautiful place to propose. Stay tuned for a 2017 wedding!

Fee x

Pushing it in Purbeck

Woah! A lot of changes since the last post; We are now living with Fee’s parents in Southampton, I’ve taken a new job and we’ve finished all the running….can’t say I’m complaining about that last one 😉

It’s very Autumnal as I write this post, looking forward to spending the season exploring what the south coast has to offer(hopefully lots of festive markets). We both recently finished the Purbeck Marathon which was a real challenge, but the amazing scenery and post-run beer made it worth it. We were very fortunate on the day, blue skies and the support of half of Swanage to aid us on our way. Not to mention  Fee’s parents rooting us on, which certainly made the miles slightly easier to bear. The run itself was extremely grueling with over 3000ft worth of climbs on trail terrain, we both gave up on running the steep hills! I was proud of Fee for digging in there and finishing in good time – I jumped in the sea as soon as I could stand again to try and save my legs from falling off. We treated ourselves that night to a curry, although all we really wanted was to sleep it off in the lovely B&B Fee had organised.

We are both at the point now where work is a necessary evil, but fortunately I leave my job at the beginning of December and Fee follows me soon after. Gives me exactly a month to finish off any loose ends, and finalise the itinerary for each country – watch this space!

Things are starting to get very exciting now, it’s getting harder to concentrate at work…..

Richard

Summer in the City

Phew – writing this in the middle of a mini heat wave in London! Sweaty tube journeys and sticky nights.

Last weekend (in preparation for our September marathon) we took part in the Wycombe Half Marathon. This is the longest I’ve ever run and wow was it a slog. Going to Lovebox on the Friday probably wasn’t the best preparation! Special thanks to the people of High Wycombe though who were on hand with plenty of cheers, water and welcome showers from garden hoses. We both finished OK but times weren’t that impressive, must try harder with training if we want to finish Purbeck Marathon and still be standing afterwards!

The most exciting news however is that we’ve now booked our RTW flights! After some last minute route changes it’s now finally organised.

The rough route is as follows:

California & Vegas – 1 month
Fiji – 2 weeks
New Zealand – 6 weeks
Australia – 6 weeks
Indochina – 16 weeks
Nepal – 4 weeks
India – 6 weeks
Sri Lanka – 2 weeks

Then back to the UK just in time for Christmas : )

Now it’s booked it’s time to sort out visas, injections, backpacks, insurance! So much to do and just under 5 months until we leave work…..eek!

Fee x

Spring has Sprung!

Time is flying by and we’re now only 8 months away from finishing work, packing up our worldly possessions and travelling around the world!

We recently came back from a short break to Scotland – our first decent amount of time off since we were in France last September. It was lovely to visit my grandparents in Glasgow, and check out the city bars of course! After a few days there we hopped on a train to Edinburgh, which was great – whisky tasting, history tours, mulled cider, and great food. But the real reason we were there was to take part in the Great Edinburgh Run – 10 miles up and down the hills of Edinburgh as well around Holyrood Park. Having never run this far before I was a little apprehensive the night before, but by the time we were on the start line everyone was raring to go! Happy to say we both finished (Richard much quicker than me of course) and we celebrated with a hot shower, big glass of red and a roast dinner.

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Luckily we were able to fly up to Scotland with BA very cheaply (2 x return economy tickets for £70 all in) as I used some Avios points I’ve accrued through work and stayed at Premier Inn’s the whole time. As always the main bulk of our spending was on food and drink but we were on holiday so we tried to find a happy balance.

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We’re now both looking for the next running adventure before the end of the year to try and keep fitness up before we head off so watch this space!

Money saving plans on the horizon currently –

  • Taking the bus to work (cheaper and much nicer than the tube, also much more likely to have a seat!)
  • Running home from work – free and good for you, not to mention a great stress buster
  • Packed lunches – always a challenge with our hectic work lives!
  • Carry on meal planning and shopping at Aldi
  • Summer holiday – camping in wales with our huge tent, cheap and relaxing

Until next time!

Fee

Love is in the air!

The shops are filled with hearts, cards, chocolates, pink fizz and teddy bears –
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! I’m a bit of a softie so don’t usually let it go by without marking the occasion and this year is no different, although the activity certainly is!

This year in aid of our health kick we’re both taking part in the Love Run 2014 on Saturday 15th February, a charity 10k run organised by Action Duchenne in aid of those suffering from muscular dystrophy. We had grandiose plans to follow it up with a romantic dinner at Browns, Islington but soon admitted that we would likely spend over £100, not very thrifty for two people saving for a round the world trip! Instead we’ve opted for the M&S dine in for £20 menu and will be staying in drinking homemade cocktails and annoying the neighbours with our tipsy karaoke!

Last week we also visited STA Travel Islington for the first time to talk through our travel plans and get a feel for the costs involved. Our consultant was great and we both left feeling very excited and full of ideas! We’ve started a spreadsheet to start listing out countries, cities, transport, accommodation, activities etc. As Richard is a Project Manager and I’m a Senior Account Manager we should be in a good place to organise and manage the budget for the year. I can’t believe this time in a year we’ll be on our trip of a lifetime, time is passing so quickly.

Whilst we’ve still been saving regularly recently it hasn’t been as focused as before, so for March we’ll be aiming for this:

  • Bigger weekly food shop to be done at Aldi
  • At least 3 meat free nights a week
  • At least 3 packed lunches a week
  • No takeaways
  • One meal out per month

Alongside our personal saving we’ve also managed to save £500 as part of our household account, which will go towards big car tax and electricity & water bills all of which are coming up soon.

Find out next time how we got on with our goals!

Fee

Spending in a Winter Wonderland!

Ah, saving. It requires dedication, sacrifice, organisation and motivation. All of which we’ve had over the past few months but have taken a slight nosedive with the arrival of the festive season.

Once the Coca Cola lorry’s on the TV and the first mince pies appear in M&S, it becomes harder and harder to stick to your savings plan. There are the obligatory Christmas drinks with friends, work colleagues and family members. Dinner out becomes more frequent and you can easily become caught up in the “Oh but it’s almost Christmas” way of thinking. Then there’s the presents, the party dresses and not forgetting NYE!

We’ve definitely become less stringent in our savings and whilst we’ve had some money stashed in our shared savings account to act as a buffer I’ve certainly not met my personal savings goal this month. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, or of course go down the all or nothing route of thinking and spend spend spend, but it has been at the back of my mind.

Unfortunately, January must be the month to make up the shortfall, so apart from a weekend in Belfast to visit some friends it will have to be extremely frugal.

This means no takeaways, dinners out or special treats and lots of nights in, packed lunches and free activities.
Luckily Richard and I have a few box sets to keep us going and we could also be old fashioned and talk to each other ; )

Check back in 2014 to see our saving goals for the month!

Fee

Taking the first step

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So, I’ve finally started the blog that I hope will serve as a great record of our efforts at saving in order for…The World Tour 2015!

Over the next year or so we hope to share our ups and downs of saving as well as our plans for the big adventure.

Writing this post from chilly Muswell Hill, I have to admit that getting on the plane to leave this lovely Island feels very far away but no doubt the months will fly by as they always do.

Look forward to many posts soon to come!

Fee