Tag Archives: vacation

Mexico 2014: Marietas Islands

I did promise a whack of Mexico stories a while ago…So I should probably deliver at least one of them seeing as it’s been approximately four months since I returned. Just a heads up, this is heavily photo laden.

In February, myself, my sisters and my Mom hopped on a flight to Puerto Vallarta for a week. We stayed at a Riu Jalisco and did the sorts of things that an all inclusive vacation provides. It’s very low maintenance travelling. And a lot of the time a nice relaxing vacation where not much preparation is necessary, is just what you need. Because of this freedom to lounge and do as we saw fit the whole week, we were free to book external tours at our leisure. The first of which was an Island adventure in the Bahia de Banderas out of Pureto Vallarta.

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This was the best thing basically ever!

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We woke up at five or six am to get ready and catch a taxi into Pureto Vallarta proper. Once we got the the tour companies location, we were treated to breakfast, got ourselves organized and loaded a boat that headed out into the bay. The sun was low in the sky and the air on the bay was still very cool. As we got further out into open water the resident humpback whales could be seen coming up for air, and diving back down into the bay.

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This was more than awesome. I’ve always wanted to see whales, and when I was able to experience these mammals living in their natural habitat I was as excited as a four year old on Christmas.

We slowed and quieted our boat to encourage them and their habits of curiosity towards us, and waited for more displays, jumps and spins from some of the largest animals in the world. It was so great! I would have been happy waiting around all day on that boat playing with the whales. But alas, there was much more to be done!

We sped off eventually towards the Marietas Islands, an island chain in the north west corner of the Bahia de Banderas. The next leg of our tour may have been even more magical than the former.

When we arrived there we hopped in the water and swam towards one of the islands, in search of what we were told was a secret beach! After about ten or fifteen minutes of swimming we were guided under what looked like a rock wall, through a cave and into one of the most stunningly magical places in the world.  A secret beach indeed.

 

I’ve read that it could have been a site for Mexican artillery testing, but the more likely explanation I think is that the underlying rock of the island was ‘softer’ and more easily eroded by the pounding waves of the ocean, and the hard rock became thin enough and eventually broke causing this ring or hole in the covering rock. It was absolutely beautiful! A once in a lifetime opportunity. Except that I could fly back and do it again tomorrow if I really wanted to.  We were on a schedule determined by the tide so we had to get going or else we would have been trapped in this hole of rising water as the tide came in, so we took some pictures and were on our way swimming under the rock cave and back to the boat.

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The next activity we were to enjoy was our choice of snorkeling around the islands, swimming, paddleboarding and then lunch. We all snorkeled and saw all sorts of fishies, eels, and tiny jellies that were more annoying than anything else really. One zapped my on my upper lip, hurt like a mother, but I carried on. They weren’t dangerous. Just painful. Mosquitoes of the sea…lol

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A delicious lunch was served and we all sat back and enjoyed our fresh salsa, salads and sandwiches. The boat headed back and we were followed by a pack of dolphins, a playful seal and a sea turtle!  The crew entertained us with their bang on impression of Mexican ‘Kiss’ and our delightful bartender kept the beverages coming. Perhaps a bit too easily. I could still walk though. 😀

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A big thank you to Vallarta Adventures for such a wonderful day at sea and all of the tour guides who were friendly, helpful and genuinely loved what they did.  It was a very reasonable price (Approx $100 USD plus tip) for pretty much a full day of experience and two meals.

Don’t hesitate to visit Puerto Vallarta. It’s a wonderful city, in a wonderful country, and as long as you’re not a complete idoit its as safe as any other place Down South.

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Thanks for coming along with me, and check back for more Mexican Adventures soon!

xx

Hailey Jane


Vlog Update! Travel Preparation: The Good and the Ugly

Hi everyone! Looks like I went and made another Vlog on my channel!

Go check it out if you’re interested in how to prepare of epic travel adventures!

Lots of Love!

-Hailey Jane

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And I’m Back!

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After a fortnight in old Blighty, I successfully made it back to Canada and have been running around like a directionally challenged chicken with its’ head cut off, ever since.

Crossing half the country twice and a bit can really take it out of you.

A Quick list of things I learned while on Holiday:

-I am allergic to relaxing for more than three seconds when in a different country.

-If I’m going to misplace something, it’s going to be REALLY important and too expensive to replace. (I.e. my Railcard)

-After years of mocking and scoffing, I now secretly like the Twilight films and One Direction.

-I can eat broccoli without vomiting!

-Nutella is AMAZING!

-Famous people just walk around the streets like they live there or something, instead of that magical place in the sky that I believe all TV creatures go to when they call it a day.

-Suitcases can fall out of a bus at top speed on the highway and survive with ‘but a scratch’.

-British plumbing is my arch nemesis.

-I don’t know how we survive at home without pick and mix, and Jammie Dodgers.

-You can buy someone’s old glass eyeballs in Lewes if you want to.

-Airplanes now interior decorate in the fashion of nightclubs.

-Heels and cobblestones don’t mix well

-I’m still super good at sneaking around places I’m not supposed to be.

-I wish I went to school at Oxford….Sorry Trent, we can still be friends though.

-I look a bit too comfortable in a peasant costume, which has weakened my belief in my ultimate destiny of world domination.

-You can be 11 kilometres up in the air and still wave at someone out the window.

-Dogs can go to pubs? What madness is this?

-Canadian bookstores have A LOT to learn about being awesome…

-Vegemite tastes like Marmite, but worse 😛

 

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-Miss Hailey Jane


And I’m AWAY!

Up up and away!

Up up and away!

 

In just about 20 hours I will be landing on English soil.  That is, after two buses, the train and then the flight of course, but that’s besides the point. With most things packed I’m nearly ready to go. I’m all set to have my circadian rhythm thrown off like the panties of a lady of the night, and to have sleep be a thing for those who have nothing better to do.

I will update when I can, most certainly when I get back.

Wish me luck! 😀

-Miss Hailey Jane


Zen and the Art of Packing

I’ve got a week to get my shit together, think I can do it?

A common female problem...

A common female problem…

It’s the beginning of the EPIC LIST phase of travel preparation. Ideally I would have all of this on paper weeks ago, but where’s the stress in that? So here I am, 8 days to departure, ‘listing’ like it’s going out of style!

It’s like the act of making the list is useful and counts as getting something done. I also think that is procrastinator logic at its best.

So to give you an idea where my head has been lately…apparently reading Harry Potter and shopping for boots is taking precedence over calling my credit card company and locking down the travel insurance situation. If I don’t get on that soon I’m told a policy will be taken out ON me, and the benefits will be reaped when I kill myself in a horrifying Cream Tea accident or at the hands of a disgruntled Beefeater who didn’t appreciate my insights on relocating for enough time for me to get to wear that neat crowny thing for a little while. C’est le vie.

That being said I have done the basics. I bought pounds already, which was depressing and I hope I remember that while I spend them frivolously; and I’ve got the wardrobe covered. Not the wooden boxy thing, although one of those that magically transported me over the ocean would be more than handy. Power converter has also been obtained, ink for printer to print train and bus tickets has also been taken care of, and I dusted off my ‘out of country’ mobile phone. I swear that Nokia would survive the apocalypse.

I’m downsizing this year and only taking the basics, so instead of half of a library, only one or two books is going to have to do. No more than the BARE ESSENTIAL clothing is making it into that suitcase, no matter how much I think I’ll need those suede high heels, that second pair of plaid pants, the third..maybe fourth black turtleneck (What can I say? it’s my nature) or the black dress that I will almost certainly not even wear. If I have to hurl that case onto a moving train, I swear it’s going to make it this time. And ideally won’t get stuck as often in the paddles at the stations. That was a bit embarrassing.

As much as people despise packing for these sorts of things, I think it’s kinda fun, albeit mean to all of the items that end up as “the weakest link” and get a very over-dramatic boot, because that’s clearly what my life is like.

I just need to purchase enough maple syrup/maple candy to both gag and drown a beaver, then I’ll be basically all set to go!….basically.

Wish me luck, and let’s hope my inner organization demon shows its’ ugly head and possesses me long enough to get me off in one piece!

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Miss Hailey Jane


London; Through the Fog

Good afternoon loyal reader people! Another instalment of Hailey’s English Adventures is about to ensue. I will also promise to try to keep it less than 500 words, because 1200 word posts aren’t really doing me any favours here.

Today I am going to regale all of you fantastic intellectuals with the aftermath of the London Bridge Train Station incident, which immediately proceeded my misguided behaviour in Brighton.  If anything it will feel like a lovely and lax stroll around my favourite city in the world, being a tourist in the strongest sense of the word.

After grasping tightly to what was left of my consciousness against a wall outside of Charing Cross, I was located by my friend and then set off into the world of  the Londoner, with mussed hair, smeared makeup, a glazed look in my eyes and a very empty stomach. She took me to a place completely new to me called Camden, which turns out is a fantastically awesome place.

It is known as a centre of alternative culture and let me tell you, the shops there were outrageously brilliant. If you want leather or PVC anything, here would be the place to get it. Here’s a video about Camden to give you a better idea . I also was not the only person walking around after a wild night. My enthusiasm grew as I walked along the cobblestones experiencing all of the different and beautiful things. Old buildings, a horse hospital, so many shops and stalls, and the smell of the food from all over the world was intoxicating. Not the ideal kind of intoxicating either from the perspective of a sensitive tummy, but once I got some Chinese food in me I was feeling much better. After a few hours of wandering around and seeing what there was to see, we hopped on the tube and headed to Westminster.

Here was the centre of tourist London in my opinion, with Parliament, The Eye, Westminster Abbey and the Aquarium all in relative proximity. We walked along the Thames, I snapped photos like the out-of-towner I was, trying to be at least a bit creative…

My head still pounded and most of the day so far had been seen through the fog of my hangover, but it was clearing and the beauty of the day itself was coming through. We opted to avoid the high fees and the line for a ride on the Eye, as well as the Abbey, but just being there with them was a spectacle all on its’ own.

It was late afternoon and the way the light was hitting everything made it nearly sparkle. It was a cool and crisp fall day, but the sun warmed our faces and the smell of chestnuts roasting on Westminster Bridge was the lovely pick me up I needed.

I tried to think about the history of the place I was standing in, all of the important things that had happened here. But it was so hard to grasp with the buzzing and constant hum of tourists everywhere.

You can still see the evidence of the previous night’s escapades in my hair and under my eyes, but with the help of excitement and internal motivation, London was opened up to me once again with the comfort of home.

It was such a gift to spend the day in London with her, and I hope to return again some day soon. There is so much more to do and see. People to meet, drinks to drink, songs to sing terribly off-key and embarrassing moments that have yet to be experienced.  London may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. The next photo, which was taken of the ground outside the south end of Parliament says it all I think…

-Miss Hailey Jane

I also seemed to have failed utterly in my world count goal. Oh well, it was unrealistic anyway… And don’t worry, we’ll get around to ‘Kissing Ron Howard’ soon enough…didn’t your mother ever teach you any patience?


Throwing Up in London Bridge Train Station

The morning after a blissful night of binge drinking and terribly irresponsible fun (Bon Jovi: The Enabler), I awoke in a bed I had never slept in before, in a city I really didn’t know my way around very well, with a hankering for coffee that was all consuming. I also had a chain gang of tiny men taking up residence in my head, banging away at the insides to make way for a very small railroad apparently. It took a few moments to get my bearings, and then trying to see through the fog of my hangover I had to solve my missing sock problem and figure out how to get to where I was supposed to be. Which in this case was over an hour away at a train station in London I’d never been to…

Third Day in England ever! Woo! I’m awesome!

With the internal motivation and encouragement aflame I set out into this new world with aid of my bed buddy and was lead, ever so sweetly, to the train station in Brighton. Ugh, such lovely shoes… I said goodbye and promised to come back again sometime, then headed off on a train that I figured would get me to somewhere in London. From there I told myself I’d find a way to meet my friend at St. Pancras once I arrived.

I was all happiness, adrenaline and left over alcohol up to this point, but once I got settled on the train I seriously felt like I was going to die.  My head pounded, I had no idea how few hours of sleep I had actually managed to get, and my stomach was starting to preform some very acrobatic gestures in there. My only care in the world at this point though, was to shut off the world and try to get some sleep. I would worry about London when I got there, I would worry about finding her when I was able to walk again, and would focus all of my energy on not defacing any of the surprisingly comfy upholstery.

The trail rattled onwards towards London. The morning countryside flew by without my notice and I slipped gracefully into a state of non-existence. Beautiful nothingness. Suddenly and all too soon, the train began to slow down with jerky motions and I was jolted awake and knew it was now that I had to hold myself together. I’m sure I was getting some rather strange looks from the morning commuters with their tea and newspapers, but I sincerely hadn’t noticed and wouldn’t have cared either way. Which says a lot about my condition.

 

I waited in my seat once the train stopped and was the last to disembark. Breathe….in through nose…out through mouth….in through nose…out through mouth….repeat…. It was surprising how difficult it was to preform this very automatic bodily function. I quickly taught myself to walk again and was thrust out into the growing crowd of Londoners. The smell and thickness of the air was what I think did it. That coupled with the lack of breathing room triggered a signal in my brain that I had been all too familiar with. I needed to get to a loo, and fast.

I desperately looked around, up and down the platform for that small sign that would promise a respite from extreme humiliation. It was that or risk my life and neck and lean over towards the tracks and most certainly get escorted out of the station forever.  I looked and looked, trying to choke back any premature guttural spasms.  And it was then that I saw it. The Toilets, in white letters on a blue sign. It was beautiful and a hot sense of relief washed over me. I might have relaxed a bit too much, because my sense of urgency increased once again. I ran towards it, pushing past the commuters and encountered the makings of my worst nightmare. Bloody women’s loo’s! There was a line…There’s always a line. The woman in front of me informed me that I’d have to wait, and the queueing master she was, doing a fine job representing her country and it’s cultural stereotypes, made sure I knew it.

I couldn’t wait, there was no way, and what happened next I had no say in…the colour escaped my face in a single moment and my insides heaved and twisted. The sink was close enough and did a fine job for the task at hand.  I, in an instant, had horrified the entire population of the woman’s loo, and changed their feelings for me indefinitely. My stomach contents, having mostly consisted of alcohol, weren’t much of a problem for the sink, save a few slices of onion from the spag bolo the night before (lovely, I know).  I was rinsing and fishing out the onion like the polite Canadian I am, when the queueing master behind me spoke up in a very concerned motherly tone.

“Are you alright miss?”

My response to this has always made me secretly proud…

“If I said yes… I’d be lying…” I said sniffling into the sink.

“Is there someone I can call for you?” She asked, genuinely concerned. I imagine she believed it was more serious than the violent yet typical hangover I was dealing with.

“No, I’ll be fine thanks…I’m sorta new around here.” I was thinking about it, and the rock solid Nokia in my pocket wasn’t even mine, I didn’t know any numbers, and the friend I was staying with was two hours away and at work. I’m such a clever girl sometimes. Geez.

“Well take care of yourself dear…make sure you get some water and rest soon.”

“Thanks, I will.” And with that she went about her business, surely telling everyone at work that she ran into a poor American that couldn’t handle herself at the train station. She would be wrong of course, on two counts.

I felt refreshed after the whole ordeal and wasn’t as humiliated as I should have been. The task of finding my way to St. Pancras was now ready to be dealt with.  I would fail utterly at this as well.

I ended up waiting at Charing Cross…

The moral of the story is, if one’s body is experiencing a state of distress, it completely destroys any feelings of shame.

Miss Hailey Jane


The POO!

Oh god, this one is embarrassing….

It’s also slightly out of place in the timeline of things, but what the heck.

Setting: Westcliff on Sea, Essex, England, circa February 2011. Beautiful sunny day, late morning.

Context: Second trip to England. First trip only 2 months prior. Recently split up with long term boyfriend.

Not Westcliff, obviously.

So here we go…

It is said, in one sector of my friendships, that to be pooed on brings with it the best kind of luck, and will result in a positive and significant life change. This change, of course, usually happens after the horrifyingly embarrassing event that is required prior. This is the story of that fateful horrifyingly embarrassing event.

It was winter in Canada. Things were not going well on the social or ‘life path’ front. There was only one thing for it. I had to go back to England. So while at work one day I, very much spontaneously and irrationally, booked myself a flight to England without telling anyone. I mean ANYONE. I was already assured accommodation, but it was still a very risky move. I didn’t tell my parents, I didn’t tell my recent ex-boyfriend, I didn’t even tell my friends right away. I was going to be going back to the best place in the world for a week and it was strangely a magnificent feeling.

What wasn’t a great feeling was finding out on the day of my imminent departure, that my flight was 12 hours delayed. Bloody Canadian winters…I ended up waiting in the terminal with nothing to do, for 12 HOURS. I felt very much like Tom Hanks in ‘The Terminal’…which I haven’t seen, but I would imagine it’s very much the same feeling across contexts, being trapped in an airport terminal.  Eventually I received the privilege of boarding the plane, in a zombie-like state. It was another night flight, but this time I passed out nearly instantly. Screw the tiny food, I’m going to catch as many winks as I can.   And I did. I woke up once the sun came up, which was about four hours sooner than it should have, and I eventually, groggily landed in the London Gatwick plane station.

Freedom, pleasure, and the comfort of that familiar smell that was England helped me relax instantly. I hopped on the train, made myself pretty and went south to Brighton for a weekend of educational entertainment, cricket viewing and awkward moments in the local rock club.

Educational Entertainment!

Sunday I was off to Essex, which is where I get back to the point of my story. Took the train, hauled my luggage, swore constantly that I would pack lighter next time, and eventually arrived at that wonderful flat were my best mate lived, and where I had first begun my English adventure a few months back. I was a few hours early, and when I reached her flat after walking for about a half an hour from the train station, I dropped my suitcase with significant enthusiasm (that bit is important).

I waited around for a bit, warming my face in the bright soft sunshine. I let my body relax and pleasantly anticipated the returning pleasure of being at home in that flat once again.

This is me at that very moment, sunning my face. Little did I know what was going to happen next!

My mate walks up eventually, with a big smile on her face and we do the whole hugging thing that people do when they haven’t seen each other in a while. We walk up to the door, she opens it up and I lug my suitcase inside. It’s feeling very heavy still, having been dragged all the way from Brighton earlier that morning. I take off my shoes and schlep the thing up the white carpeted stairs into the main room of the second floor flat.

The flat is just as I remembered it, now with a bigger TV and coffee table that wasn’t there before. It smells the same, it feels the same and I am wonderfully relieved for a ever so brief moment. I look back to my mate to get her attention, and I see that something is bothering her. I then follow her gaze and find myself looking at the stairs.

Oh Shit

Quite literally, shit….streaked all over the door mat and in orderly streaks up the stairs. Balls, was that me?

What had happened was, when I had enthusiastically dropped my suitcase out front of her flat, I happened to do so into a large pile of day-old shit, pleasantly deposited by one of the local wildlife. I dropped the suitcase on it right where the wheel was, so as I pulled the thing up the stairs, it wheeled it’s shitty wheel along, making skid marks up the pristine WHITE carpet.

I was mortified. She was horrified. Being an enthusiast of cleanliness as a rule, this was one of the worst things that could have happened to her that day, and it didn’t make for a very warm welcome for me either. We went to cleaning it up with strong chemicals right away. I apologized like there was no tomorrow, which was very much my style of dealing with such situations. Not like I have to very often, but in any case. She kept saying “one day we’re going to look back and laugh at this” in a terribly uneasy voice. I didn’t believe a word of it, I was so embarrassed, I could have died. In no way was this going to be funny in a couple of months. To make matters more humiliating, when her current man came by for a visit, the story was retold in great detail and I was once again the subject of ridicule. Well isn’t this a fun trip!

We spent much time talking about the incident, about how “Gee, isn’t it great, your Canadian friend comes to see you and the first thing she does is she drags shit all over your flat!” and on a lighter note, the universal significance of POO related happenings and how they change your life. She told of incidents she had had, resulting in her needing to get a mudguard on her bike and a life changing job related event soon after. Apparently it was very good luck to have dragged POO throughout her flat. It was going to improve my life apparently. So here’s to hoping.

Now, a year or so later we still joke about ‘THE POO!’ and how hilarious and awful it was at the time. I didn’t believe her then, but I guess it is rather funny now. I’m not so sure about a significant life altering event having happened, but maybe I missed it.  And to think, in that photo up there, just a handful of lines above right here, I am standing there smiling, standing in POO.

Oh, England! What am I going to do with you!

-Miss Hailey Jane


My First London

After experiencing the tilt-a-whorl of emotions that was A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time, smelling the smells and feeling the feels, and then drinking one of the most necessary coffee’s of my life, I and my companion hopped on a train from Gatwick and headed straight for the heart of London. Being my first time, naturally I sucked up every little new feeling I could, including being wobbled around on a train and track that may or may not have been built before there were strict safety guidelines. It was overcast when we arrived, and as I stepped out of the train station onto the London streets I was engrossed with how different every little thing was, yet fundamentally the same.

The people all had the same basic destinations, the office, work, calling on family or friends, buying groceries and other necessities. It was just they all did it in a rather different way, in much smaller cars, on much bigger buses and on windy-er more complicated streets.  The buildings were significantly shorter but were squished together and arranged with more talent, and everything seemed so much older. There were shiny buildings, but they were not the dominant feature of this iconic city. I was thankful for this.  We walked along the South bank of the Thames, past London Bridge, the new one, and then on towards Tower Bridge, the massive and beautifully designed crossing that defines the beginning of east London. The first thing I thought as I looked at it, was ‘Who the hell decided to paint it that awful blue?’.  Cool bridge, terrible colour, it’s a shame really. And just so you know, I totally felt like Bridget Jones as I  crossed it.

Tower Bridge in London

About crossing it…I had been carrying my luggage along behind me thus far, heading toward Fenchurch Station to continue the rest of our journey to Southend on Sea, and it was at this point when I encountered the most terrifying set of stairs I had ever seen in my life, that led up towards the bridge. OK, maybe they’re not THAT bad, but let’s keep in mind I am thoroughly exhausted. After an 8 hour night flight without sleep, five hour time difference, customs, endless queues, a train ride and then walking across London lugging approximately 20 kilos plus a carry-on full of books, plus a purse, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After slight motivation, I came around, and thought ‘I’m in London, dammit, I should be able to fly up these stairs!’. Well I didn’t quite fly, but after lots of very unfeminine grunts lots of laughter and a lot of “Sorry, pardon me”s I made it to the top, and crossed the Thames for the first time.

On the other side there was another terrifying set of stairs, very much exactly similar to the set I had just conquered. Of course there was, why wouldn’t there be. All of my pride and self praise for making it up the other stairs vanished instantly.  I eventually conjured some extra gumption after huffing and puffing a bit, and made the decent, only slipping and nearly falling to my death once….maybe twice. I swore to myself to pack lighter next time, but we all know that was a big lie.

We stopped for a well deserved break in front of the Tower of London. We had a quick drink and cigarette and talked a bit more in depth about what the two of us had been up to over the past four years. It felt like we hadn’t been apart that long, but the amount of things we needed to tell each other was a good indication that there was a lot of time between us. It would take nearly the entire two weeks to relay all the necessary information. It would have taken less if several existential life altering crisis’ hadn’t occurred in the meantime. But more on those later.

The November air was crisp and cool, and we loaded up again and trudged along in front of the Tower, snapped a few photos and then wandered around to the train station. On the train, after very embarrassingly fumbling with my change for fare, because I had never seen any of it before, there were more “I can’t believe you’re really here”s and “I can’t believe I’m really here either”s. Even though I was completely exhausted I was perfectly happy, and knew I was going to really like it here.

The Tower

As we arrived at Chalkwell station, the cabby was just about the most upfront and personal stranger I’d ever met in my life. I was a little nervous about how nice he was being, and when I say nice, I don’t mean polite and courteous like the average Canadian, I mean complimentary and in your face about it. The first thing he did was grab my bags and say “A beautiful girl like you shouldn’t have to carry your own bags” loaded them, and then when we got in (as I quickly got over the steering wheel being on the wrong side) he asked where we “lovely ladies” would like to go. When he found out I was visiting from Canada, he was full of praise for us Canadians, and continued being just as friendly all the way to the house. He unloaded my bags for me and walked them to the door. I could really get used to this!  My friend told me that was perfectly normal behaviour and that I really should get used to it, and also learn to take a bloody compliment without turning beet red.

Once inside I explored the tiny kitchen, funny light switches (that to this day make me happy), the funny faced outlets and the strange toilets. Everything was completely recognizable, just a little different. It was like I was in some strange parallel Universe, but I liked it. I then half unpacked my suitcase and had the most fantastic shower pretty much ever. It was absolutely glorious to be able to wash the ‘airplane’ and ‘streets of London’ grime off of me, I swear that stuff is like a film on your skin. After I was done and had dressed in a clean set of clothes, we sat down and had a delicious cup of coffee, and for the first time in about 24 hours, I relaxed, and it felt like home.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Richard Curtis Fan Fiction: Notting Hill and Back Again

Wandering the busy streets of London on an overcast yet warm spring day, a woman carrying a cloth bag of free used books looks up and smiles at the world. She was an interesting looking woman, but pretty nonetheless.  Her wide green eyes were captivating as well as wise and reflective, and her simple loose brown curls ensured her more striking features took the credit. She thought her head too big for her body and her arms too long, but she loved the way a patterned wrap dress fit across her flattened chest and floated down around her sharp hips. On this particular day she was wrapped in an off-white variant of the aforementioned dress type that tied at the neck, which had the daintiest green leafy embellishments along the hem.  It’s slight glint offset her gold sandals perfectly and she felt completely put together.

Years of the most enjoyable work and research left her more than comfortable at her current point in life, one might almost say she was well off. This fact did not matter to her so much as the fact that she absolutely loved every second of what she was paid to do. Because of this people were drawn to her magnetic personality, resulting in an even more successful career.

She was in London on what felt more like a vacation than work, promoting her latest book. It was a selection of mostly true short stories from her travels around the world, a guide book with an entertaining and occasionally dramatic twist thrown in for good measure. She was proud of this book, more so than any of her others, and she was thrilled that Travel Book Co. in London was putting her up to come in and do a meet and greet, slash book signing. It was a long way from her home in America, and she never imagined her works would reach so many people abroad, but she did have a rather terminal case of humility.

As she floated down the street, having just come from the event with her bag of complementary travel literature, she found herself in need of a hot drink to calm her slightly jostled nerves. It had been a surprisingly popular event, more so than she had anticipated. A line out the door and around the corner to come and meet her. She had met some very interesting and strange people, as well as a few local authors, whom she was honoured were interested in her work. The woman rolled the course of this morning’s events over in her head, while subconsciously searching for a Costa or Cafe Nero, otherwise, she was more or less completely oblivious to the rest of her surroundings.

And suddenly, like a cold brisk wave smashing against the boulders along the edge of the sea, she obliviously collided with a Demi-God. Their shoulders clashed and they both spun in the direction of the other, resulting in a fiercely locked gaze. At first glance she saw a tall, dark, high cheek-boned Adonis, and then, to her euphoric horror, she recognized him immediately. Memories of an early Disney film and the tune of “Once Upon a Dream” rang in her ears.

“Pardon me” He said, reaching out and gently touching her recently struck shoulder with his hand.

She could have died right there and then, being perfectly and completely satisfied with what life had presented her…but something deep inside her took hold of the situation, and what followed felt like a dream beyond her control.

“Uhm, Coffee…” was all that came out of her mouth.

He responded with a completely justified confused look. His proximity and long dark coat made her feel so much smaller than him. She was easily overwhelmed.

She closed her eyes and quickly shock her head to bring some sense back to her brain. “I could use some coffee, would you like to join me? There is a fantastic Cafe just around that corner I understand, my treat?”  It was a complete long shot, she knew that, but a part of her was determined to avoid regretting not taking the chance.

He looked her over, in a tactless manner but he was a man after all, all she could blame for that was nature. He pulled out his phone, thought for a moment while scrolling through what she assumed was his calendar, and then he looked up and laid a cheeky, confident grin all over her.

“Alright”

The Universe seemed to have decided to convince two complete strangers to go out on a limb, take a chance and make the leap. The rest was entirely in their hands. They walked side by side around the corner of the next street, she didn’t dare say anything from fear of fouling up the whole situation right off the bat and having him rum away faster than a chicken about to loose his head. She just wanted a cup of coffee in her hands and knew she would relax and come around.

They reached the door to the Cafe, and he held it open for her, she brushed past him, inhaling his intoxicating aroma that incidentally made her knees weaken. They stepped inside and she scraped up the remains of her confidence and turned to face him.

“What would you like?” She asked in a slightly too loud a voice. Damn those nerves again… “I’ll grab our drinks if you want to find a seat?” she followed up with, hopefully compensating for the embarrassing volume influx previously. He glanced up at the drinks board.

“I’d like a Irish Cream with sugar please.” Seemingly pleased at the selection.

“Mmm, good choice.” They parted and went about their prescribed tasks. She saw that he chose a seat for two by the window, which she thoroughly approved of, as she loved people watching, particularly in this wonderful city. This was quickly becoming her favourite place in the whole world, and that is saying quite a bit, as she had been just about everywhere one could think of because of her work.

She ordered the drinks, an Irish Cream with sugar for him, and Cappuccino for herself with a double shot of espresso. ‘That oughta keep me from a state of complete and utter panic’ she thought to herself. When they were ready, she carried them to the table, praying to any deity in the general vicinity, so she didn’t trip and spill them everywhere. The drinks made it to the table safely, and she sat down across from him and tried to make herself comfortable. ‘That is one damn good looking man’ she thought loudly as she looked at him, hoping no one could hear her. He was looking down at his coffee, stirring the dark liquid in the glass mug with a shiny spoon, making rhythmic clinking noises as the spoon went around. She tried desperately not to get too turned on, but at this point it was nearly impossible. she had been squeezing her legs together essentially since the moment they met. Couldn’t be helped.

“So, do you have a name my dear, or are you just a pretty face?”

She did her best not to turn to mush right there, trying to keep her composure, remembering the eternal words of Bridget Jones, ‘ “I will not get upset [flustered] over men, but instead be poised and cool icequeen.” Yes, that mantra would do just nicely. I’m a professional woman for fuck sakes…’ She realized she had been thinking too long and quickly snapped out of it and tried to think of something clever to say.

“Nope, just a face… made for getting a passport rather difficult though”… ‘Oh God, please laugh, please think it was at least slightly humorous’

“I have the exact same problem, yeah.” he laughed, then took a sip of his coffee that was too hot, and tried to look like he wasn’t flinching in pain.

“I’m sorry, I hope you didn’t have to be anywhere at the moment, I’m sure you’re up to your ears in press related whatnots and that sort of thing.”

“Naaa, sort of a day off. Seems you know who I am though. Doesn’t seem fair really, as I don’t know anything about you, not even a name. What is it you do for fun Miss Mystery Woman?”

“I am a writer actually…”

“I said for fun..”

“Oh I don’t think you can get much more fun than flying around the world, causing shenanigans and getting paid to write about them.”

“I guess so” he paused “So are your and shenanigans worth reading about?”

“No it’s all Crap,” she grinned widely wile narrowing her focus, waiting for an amusing reaction. When she got one she finished with    “Naw, It’s funny, amusing and all that but people love reading about misadventures, and if I can throw in a bit of helpful tourist hints and educate my audience even a little bit the end product is worth it.”

“Sounds fantastic, so what are you doing in London, you’ve got that sound about you that hints you’re from America”

“I am, actually, I’ve just come from a book signing at that Travel Book Shop in Notting Hill….you know, the one from the movie, actually come to think of it, it’s a wonder I didn’t spill orange juice all over you.”

“What?” He looked rather concerned, thus clearly hasn’t seen said film…

“I wouldn’t worry, you’re safe. Anyhow, they’re putting me up to do a bit of customer relations stuff, so to speak. I’m here till Tuesday then I fly to New Zealand to do another event.” She took a long sip of her Cappuccino, trying not to get foam all over her face.

“Well it’s terribly unfortunate that you’ve got to leave again so soon.”

“I know, this is just so surreal”  ‘Can’t believe I just said that’ she thought. ‘Thank goodness he won’t catch the quote, whatever you do, don’t say “surreal, but nice” and offer him honeyed apricots’.  She grinned to herself, yet felt slightly ashamed. ”

“At least tell me your name so I can find your book.”

“Here.” She reached into her bag and pulled out the copy she had on hand. She grabbed her pen and scribbled something on the inside cover for him and handed it over. “It’s all yours, with any luck it’ll be worth a fortune when I’m dead, 1st edition and all.” She rolled her eyes sarcastically and giggled. He grinned through his coffee mug, tilting it up finishing the last few drops.

“I’m very glad I bumped into you, Miss…” He paused and looked down to read the cover. “O’Brian, but I’ve got to get going, I’m so sorry. Thank you for the coffee, I’ll have to remember this place.”

“Yes, it is very lovely. As are you, and I’m so happy I got to meet you.” They got up and collected their things. A sharp feeling of sadness washed over her, thinking she may never see him…well…in person, ever again. But she will be eternally grateful for this opportunity. They cleared the doors of the shop, and stood on the sidewalk outside for a moment, facing each other.  Something was drawing her to him, and he couldn’t help but reach out and put his hand on the waist of her white dress. She stepped closer to him, so he could feel her breathing. With his other hand he clasped hers and pulled it to his lips for a sensual yet innocent kiss.  He held it to his lips for a moment longer, looking into her eyes, feeling like he had missed something important. He raised an eyebrow and lowered then released her hand. She stepped away from him, her heart beating  as if it were ready to explode.

“Goodbye” She said with unimaginable confidence, and turned to leave up the street.

“Wait!” He called after her. “How do I know this isn’t your pen name?”

She turned her head in his direction and smiled a cheeky and devious smile.

“It’s just a chance you’re going to have to take.”

As he walked away he opened the cover of the book to read what she had wrote, assuming it would just be a signature. As he did so he stopped mid-stride, turned in her direction, his mouth agape. his heart both floating and sinking simultaneously. She was gone. Lost in the sea of people on the street. He needed to find her again, no matter what it took.

‘Well, if anything this little adventure has made it’s way into my next volume, that’s for sure.’ she thought to herself as she skipped down the London streets, beaming with perfect happiness.”

The End

Miss Hailey Jane