Uncategorized

My new business…

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So ever since I can remember I have been crafty. I love to create things, scrapbooking, photography, dance I love it all. I can’t draw I am horrifically bad at that but I’m good at what I do. For years I was a digital scrapbooker and I loved it. I was on creative teams (you get the products for free in exchange for creating a page that the designer can use for advertising) I was involved in all the forums, I got paid to create pages for others and I enjoyed it. I however as I have been known to do took on too many CTs and commitments and soon my wonderful creative hobby just wasn’t fun anymore so I quit. Every now and again I will open up photoshop and create something but it is few and far between. I also invested in a cutting machine and had great fun crafting with it (after it sat in a box for about a year cause I was too intimidated to use it) and this is my current obsession. Once I started cutting Vinyl with it and making t shirts and bags etc I then branched out and bought a heat press. It was around this time I thought, yep this is something I could make a business out of, but I couldn’t find the courage to jump in head first and get my name out there.

First my problem was pricing. I didn’t know what a fair price is for a product including my time and labour etc. I’m not good at this type of stuff so I decided I’d just make them for cost if somebody wanted them. Which is ridiculous but I didn’t have a craft calculator or a business advisor and honestly I suck at stuff like that, I can be creative until the cows come home but ask me about profit margins and I couldn’t tell my arse from my elbow. I spoke to Ash and she reminded me that you have to add in cost of machines and wear and tear and overheads (at this stage I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and thought screw it nope not doing it nope sorry no back into my happy crafting bubble) so I put the idea on the back burner.

I then got my first official business order of shirts for a dance class. I was so excited and I made them so carefully and was so proud of them when they were done. I got lots of compliments on them and was like dude I can so do this. They looked awesome!

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Then I received a notification that one of the products I had used on the shirts may have been part of a batch that was defective (defective as in it might not stay stuck to the shirt not as in it was dangerous) so that really knocked my confidence, I know its ridiculous because I don’t even know for 100% that the stuff I used was part of the defective batch for all I know it could have been fine (I still have the money I earned for those shirts stuck away in case they come back with them and say hey these shirts are terrible quality I demand a refund!) I have asked the teacher and she said that none of the parents have complained or said anything so I am probably worrying about nothing. I am a sensitive person and I couldn’t deal with confrontation when it came to a business (confrontation that hasn’t happened but in my little anxious brain I have replayed conversations over and over again) so I stuck the idea on the back burner again.

Recently I have made some things that I really really love and I am getting confident again. I’m only including two pictures as otherwise I will bore you.

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So I decided I can do this. I am woman hear me roar (but quietly so I don’t draw attention to myself) So I decided to put my big girl panties on and just put it out there. Here is the link to my official business facebook page:

www.facebook.com/Studio76Creations

Hope you like it and feel free to place an order (this is marketing right?!?)

Until next time, let your gypsy soul wander.

Lifestyle · Travel

Ways to travel on a budget.

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So I love to travel and one of the main reasons I am able to travel so much is because I do it on the cheap. Now I’m not talking so cheap that you are afraid you’ll catch something staying in the hotels or staying in the parts of town that homicide rates are so high you have a better chance of being murdered than not but I do like cheap and cheerful hotels.

When choosing a hotel I look at four main things 1) Price 2) Location 3) Does it have wifi 4) Others reviews. For me the hotel is usually just somewhere to sleep and get washed. I don’t spend a lot of time in the hotel if I can help it so as long as it’s clean, the towels are replaced and I’ve wifi I’m good to go. When I am travelling alone or without Miss M i don’t mind staying in a hostel because it’s cheap. But more on this below.

My favourite site to check prices on is http://www.Trivago.ie because you can sort by price. There is also an option to put in what landmark you would like to stay near and then the hotels are sorted by distance. I have gotten some great deals on this site (€20 for a double room in a surprisingly fancy hotel in Galway for the night) and I use it all the time. It also will compare which is the cheapest site to book it through and give you options. I will however always check the hotel website directly as well once I’ve decided on a room to see if there are any special promotions (we have gotten pay for two nights stay for three and free meals offers) which may seem more expensive compared to the price on Trivago but once you weigh up the offers usually end up costing less in the long run.

A hotel without wifi is something I couldn’t deal with to be honest, call me an entitled millennial all you like but seriously it’s a deal breaker for me. I don’t spend the whole time using the internet but having it there (to check local attractions opening hours, to FaceTime and to contact those at home) is a must for me.

Others reviews are something that you need to take with a pinch of salt. Those that have complaints are going to be the ones that shout louder and are the ones you are going to remember. If a hotel has fifty 5 Star reviews and three 2 Star reviews you are going to remember the 2 Star ones more. I always use TripAdvisor for my review purposes. When I write reviews I am as honest as possible without sugar-coating it (in fact one of my most honest reviews where I said “if you are looking for a luxury hotel then this hotel is not for you” earned me a free 2 night stay). Read recent reviews the good and the bad and compare from the points made in each review. I find if I set my expectations somewhere in the middle when it comes to the hotel I am rarely disappointed.

If you are ok with staying in somebody’s house then airbnb.com is an option as well to help save money. Personally my anxiety stops me from using it (knowing my luck they will be the satanic axe murderers) but I have friends who have and love it. For hostels www.hostelworld.com is also a great site for finding hostel accommodations and I would recommend any of them I have stayed in. Also if staying for a long period of time (more than a week) sometimes a short-term rental apartment or villa can work out cheaper and will also allow you to cook meals etc. It’s mostly about personal preference and how you like to travel.

Now to my favourite site when it comes to travel http://www.skyscanner.ie (I seriously spend time searching this site more than I care to admit) Basically the way it works is you enter where you want to go on what dates and it compares airlines and gives you the cheapest options. You can then narrow them down by number of stops, total travel time etc. When it comes to flying if I have a lot of time I don’t mind doing stop overs (within reason, anything longer than 4 hours and it’s a no go). When travelling to the USA or outside Europe I count the first and last day off as travelling days and don’t plan anything important on those days so I find that if stopping in Chicago or Atlanta is going to save me money then I’ll do it. But when it comes to flying within Europe my strategy is direct and early out, direct and latest flight home. I have gotten flights on this site for ridiculously cheap (19.99 return to Manchester for example) but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: My favourite thing to do is set the search parameters to From: Ireland To: Everywhere and select cheapest month as the date option. It will list which flights are the cheapest (just did it there and you can fly to Birmingham in November for €16 or if you’re feeling more exotic Barcelona for €37 or Boston in January for €356) It is my favourite thing to do because honestly I don’t care where I travel so long as I travel. Just make sure that you read all details of the flight before you book as there are things like arriving the following day flights or changing airports for connections etc which if you don’t know about can really mess you up.

Here are just general tips that don’t fall into any category but are general thrifty (new word I’m going to use to replace cheap) ideas.

  • Book a shuttle or shared transfer from your airport to hotel (www.hoppa.com is who I always use) instead of a taxi as it usually works out cheaper.
  • Don’t pay extra to check a bag on a short trip (I have managed this successfully once)
  • Look out for kids eat free offers which most cities have.
  • Groupon is your friend for things to do and places to eat. Just search the destination you are travelling to for the local Groupon offers and book away.
  • There are always lots of local free museums etc that you can visit a quick google search of (free things to do in (insert city here) will bring up what you need to know)
  • Bus and rail travel can in some cases be cheaper alternatives to flights (but not always so do your research)
  • Don’t bring gifts home. I travel so much I don’t do gifts for everybody because that magnet from Florida is going to have no significance to the person who wasn’t actually with you in Florida. The exception to this is the kids usually (but not always) I will bring them home gifts.
  • If travelling outside of college season there can be cheap rooms in the University dorms (especially in the UK) for rent that are usually cheap and cheerful.
  • When booking something local try to book in the local currency if possible. Due to exchange rates it could end up costing you more.
  • If you’re Irish and need Dollars or Sterling then get it changed in the Post Office. No exchange fees and a better rate than Dublin Airport.
  • Last but not least pack some snacks in your carry on (especially if you are flying Ryanair) it helps with food bills and you’re not paying colossal amounts for airline food which usually sucks.

Well that’s it for this post. What are your favourite travel tips? What sites do you use? I hope you find some of this useful when booking your next trip.

Until next time, Let your gypsy soul wander.

Disney · Travel

MNSSHP: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2015

So seen as we only had a few days in Orlando this trip we decided that we would forego the parks (we are heading back in march so it’s not too long a wait) but once my Breda said she was coming down to visit us we decided to go for one night to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (which from here on out will be abbreviated to MNSSHP as ain’t nobody got time for that!) in the Magic Kingdom. First of all anybody that knows me knows how much I love Disney so any time I spend in the parks I am in my happy place. I step on to Main Street and that is it, I am home (if Disney sold apartments in the park, I would sell a body part to buy one) so the fact that I got to experience that park with Breda was just the icing on the cake. This is my fourth time to the party and I enjoy it so much every time.

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After a morning of trying on every costume imaginable (it was a long process) we finally decided on what we were wearing and headed back to the hotel to get ready. We set off and got to the ticketing and transportation centre at around 3:45pm. At this stage I’m sure Breda thought that I had lied to her about the fact that a lot of people dress up as there wasn’t that many there. The tickets will tell you that MNSSHP starts at 7pm which is true, the halloween festivities like trick or treating start at that time but every year we have gone we were able to get into the park from 4pm. We got to the bag check and started to see more costumes, got our wristbands and away we went.

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We checked the app as we got in and the wait time for space mountain was 20 minutes so we headed for Tomorrowland. The wait time was nowhere near 20 minutes we walked straight on. After that we hit up a lot of rides and pretty much walked straight on to them all. We got to Splash Mountain and walked straight to the top of the queue and the cast member asked did we mind the front row and before Breda could answer I said no and we got to the front row. Soon after we took off it dawned on Breda that we were going to get wet. We did get soaked but Breda didn’t take it too badly LOLimageimage

Once it hits 7pm the guests who weren’t there for the party and who don’t have a wristband leave the park and the queue times got even shorter. The Halloween party parade takes place twice so we decided to do all the rides we wanted first and skip the first parade. I love MNSSHP as the characters have their Halloween costumes on for the party. There are also a lot of trick or treating spots throughout the park. I will admit that this year we didn’t trick or treat, we meant to but with such short queue times we were having too much fun to take time out to queue for candy. We ate in Cosmic Rays quick service and the food was nice as usual. Then at 9:40pm we set up in front of the castle for Celebrate The Magic and Happy Hallowishes (halloween themed fireworks and projection show on the castle that was amazing) during which I of course cried like the big wuss I am and I am ok with it!

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We then went to do some shopping before the parade and meet Mickey Mouse in his theater. After this we stopped into the fire station to get the Halloween party Sorcerers special edition for the party card. We then got a good spot for the parade and chilled out.

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We got Starbucks (because it was late and Breda had been up since like 5am and also we are basic white girls #sorrynotsorry) and headed down to the main castle stage to see the new for 2015 show “Hocus Pocus Villian Spectacular” which was meant to start at midnight but was delayed 15 minutes because of the parade. I LOVE Hocus Pocus it is my favourite Halloween movie and I was so excited to see the characters re-imagined on the castle stage. Once the show was finished (we were totally exhausted) we headed for the exit and got the boat back to the transportation and ticketing centre and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel where we promptly collapsed from tiredness. It was fantastic and is really one of my favourite things to do at Walt Disney World.

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Top Ten Tips For MNSSHP: *(my personal experience of the parties)

  1. Arrive at 4pm to get the best value out of your ticket.
  2. There are special snacks for the event make sure to try them out!
  3. Trick or treating is fun but the bags they give you are small. Bring your own trick or treat bags if you plan on hitting every stop.
  4. If you want pictures with the popular characters at the party (Sally and Jack, the seven dwarves etc) then head straight for them once they are greeting because these queues can be long.
  5. Dress up! I know it may not be your thing but seriously it is so much fun and adds to the enjoyment!
  6. Get the special Sorcerers card for the party.
  7. There are dance parties and they are a great way to dance with the characters as well as have a little break to blow of some steam from queuing.
  8. When attending with children it is an idea to bring a change of clothes especially if the costume is cumbersome.
  9. If you are planning to eat in the park, then have dinner before the party starts at 7pm.
  10. If you plan on staying for the whole party until midnight then do the late parade. If you plan it well enough then you can stay in the same spot and view Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, Celebrate The Magic, Hallowishes and then the Boo to You parade. (this is a great time to try out those special party snacks!)

Until next time, let your gypsy soul wander.

Uncategorized

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas…

This post has been inspired by Tesco who have had their selection boxes and Christmas sweets isle stocked since September!

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I am one of those people. Yes those people who think about Christmas from about April onwards. Christmas movies, candy canes, all the food, seeing family, Jesus’ Birthday etc I just love it all. I love shopping and driving around to see all the lights and picking out what gifts we are going to donate to Saint Vincent de Paul. Christmas baking, Christmas songs ahhhh I feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it!

For the month of December I like to do random acts of kindness to celebrate the season. It is my yearly project and I start gathering supplies in October. I’m not going to go into details as I like to stay anonymous as much as I can and I may give away few things if I was to tell you what was involved (#secretproject and if you get that reference I’m glad we’re friends)

This year I am going to try and make as many of my gifts as I can (I’ve already purchased the kids gifts throughout the year so I’m not making theirs) but for family and close friends I am going to try and do something thoughtful and handmade. I know this will take me a lot longer than my Christmas shopping usually takes me but I’m hoping they will be liked. I am planning on doing small practical gifts and I think that my family and friends have an open mind and will appreciate them (I also know if they don’t then they’ll tell me and I can regroup for next year lol) I am so excited to get started and have so many ideas (now lets hope I can pull them off!)

So this is a disclaimer for anybody who might think about buying me a Christmas gift this year. DON’T BUY ME ANYTHING. If you feel like you need to get me something I would much prefer a handmade gift (think mixed CD or photo album etc) or you can donate to a charity (Alzheimer’s Society and Save The Children are my favs). I find that at Christmas I end up with way too many gifts that I do not need. I get chocolates or calendars or makeup or bath sets and creams and lotions and potions and really they’re just not me and end up either never being used and sitting in a press or mam takes them for raffle prizes. I am not being ungrateful I appreciate each and every gift. The fact that you took the time to pick out something I would like and then wrap it means a lot to me. But honestly if you said “hey wanna grab a hot chocolate and go look at the Christmas lights?” or “Hey can I help with your random acts of kindness project?” would be a better gift for me (and won’t cost as much). I guess I have enough “things” and I’m the type of person that if there is something I really really want, I buy it for myself lol. I’m not going to rant about he commercialism of Christmas because honestly its a broken record, but I will say this (as corny and ripped off from Dr. Seuss as it is):  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

Lifestyle · Workout

Little things I love about losing weight…

So I decided to make a list of little things that I love since losing weight:

  1. I can use normal size people towels, I no longer need a “Bath Sheet” which is what the large towels I used to use was called.
  2. I can curl up and actually fit my arms around my knees.
  3. I can handle the heat in Florida much better.
  4. I don’t need a seatbelt extender when I fly.
  5. I can now officially buy shoes in the kids section as they’re not too wide anymore.
  6. I purchased my first ever belt that fits me around my waist.
  7. The doctor can get a vein first time when taking blood! I no longer have to go to the special nurse in the hospital that can get my vein.
  8. I don’t feel like I’m going to black out when picking something up off the floor.
  9. I have tonnes of energy.
  10. I can see my collar bones again.
  11. I can cross my legs while sitting.
  12. I can walk around a theme park and not have to worry that my legs are going to have blisters from rubbing together.
  13. I can shop in Penneys.
  14. My laugh no longer makes me feel like I’m going to pass out.
  15. Feeling like I have the body that can be strong and healthy.
  16. I don’t sweat nearly as much.

Well thats it for this post. Short and sweet just like me (Oi! I am, stop laughing!)

Until next time, let your gypsy soul wander.

Disney · Travel

Castaway Cay, are the Cabanas really worth it?

So had you of asked me this question this time last year the answer would have been “no way in hell am I spending that amount of money on a hut for the day!” because damn they are expensive. However I am here to say my mind has been changed, like polar opposite since we rented one on our last cruise.

A little bit before the cruise I booked parasailing on Castaway Cay as my excursion and was happy with it. A couple of weeks later a friend of mine who was cruising Sam sent me a message to say that she was able to grab the Grand Family Cabana Number 21 online and would we like to share it. Once i knew the price (it was less than parasailing) I said screw it sign me up. I knew that we would never be able to afford one on our own so sharing was wonderful. Now the cabanas book up really quick on Castaway, Concierge guests and platinum club members get first dibs and usually in my experience of previous cruises when my booking window opens (I’m silver castaway club) they are usually gone. But Sam was persistent and kept checking back and when it opened up she snapped it up. If you really want a cabana my advice is to keep checking online and even if you don’t manage to get one before your cruise, the minute you get on board go and ask and they usually have a waiting list of people who would like one in case anybody cancels their reservation.

So the night before we received our cabana wrist bands and a sheet detailing the cost and what was included.

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The fee includes:

  • Use of the cabana, seating, hammock etc.
  • Unlimited bottled water and soft drinks.
  • Chips, fresh fruit and granola Bars.
  • 1 hour bike rental on the island.
  • Float and tube rental.
  • Snorkel equipment rental.
  • Sun cream (50 SPF Lotion and 30 SPF Spray)
  • Fresh water shower at your cabana.
  • Golf cart to bring you to and from the tram stops and restaurant.

So after we finished the 5k we went to the Cabana chick in hut and the Cast Member called the golf cart to take us to our Cabana. Once we got there we were greeted with a sign with the family names of everybody sharing which was a nice touch.

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When we entered the cabana the view was stunning! It was really impressive to see the ship and the beach and it really was a retreat. There was a little curtained area for people to change in and there were cold washcloths in the fridge which were absolutely amazing in the heat. I burn so easily that I tend to stay in the shade and I swear this was the perfect place to do it. Here are a few pictures so you can see what I’m talking about:

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We had access straight on to the beach and it is a private beach for cabana guests only. It was so relaxing. When we got hungry all we had to do was press the call bell and the golf cart arrived to take us up to Cookies BBQ to get food and it waited and brought us back when we had stocked up on food. After we swam and chilled for a while afterwards we decided to do a bit of shopping (I wanted my Castaway 5K t-shirt) and we pushed the button and the golf cart turned up and took us to the shops. Here is the picture we had to take as I mean seriously a golf cart at our beck and call, mam thought she was the queen of sheeba!

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After we did some shopping we took advantage of the bike rental that is included and rode out to the observation tower. It was a fun journey and it was nice to see the island from that vantage point.

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(just FYI this selfie nearly made me fall off the bike due to the fact that I had to steer one handed. Thankfully nobody was hurt including myself in the process)

At that stage the sun was so hot that I could feel myself burning so we got ice cream and headed back to the cabana. We just relaxed in the shade and mam even took a dip in the sea. It was so nice to have a home base that wasn’t completely covered in sand and offered enough shade and cold towels. The staff replenished our snacks when they were empty and the bar staff came down and seen if we needed cocktails. So I said we’d try it out fully expecting to be totally underwhelmed but man was I wrong. This experience has totally spoiled me and I couldn’t see going back to castaway without a cabana. It is seriously seriously one of the best things I have ever spent my money on. Now to try and convince my family I’m cruising with next October to get one. I’ll work on it!

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Until next time, let your gypsy soul wander x

Disney · Travel · Workout

I did it! The Castaway 5K!

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So It happened I completed my first 5k!

We registered at Guest Services on the ship the day we boarded. It told us to meet at Fathoms at 8am and we would go from there. The day we arrived at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) I ordered breakfast to the room as honestly I love to sleep and didn’t want to get up ridiculously early and knew that I wouldn’t eat much anyway. So I ordered cereal and fruit to the room and we had our breakfast and got going. We arrived at Fathoms and got our bib numbers and got to see a map of the route. Then one of the cruise staff went through the rules and regulations as it was an official RunDisney event. We kept hearing warnings about the weather and to keep hydrated as well as keep reapplying suncream. I thought they were exaggerating about the heat and humidity and believe me I was wrong.

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So once everybody had checked in anybody that had to drop kids off at scuttles cove (the kids club on the island) left in the first group. Then we set off in the second group. The race started with a mile walk to the starting line. It was when I got off the ship I realised what they were talking about with the heat and humidity. It was BAD! But anyway we went to the starting line and dropped our bags off in the box they provided and went to the back of the group. It was clear that some people take the race really seriously and well that’s just not me (honestly at the starting line I was seriously doubting I was going to finish the race with the heat) so the people at the front of the pack looked professional and hyped up and I went to the back where I belonged.

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The course is basically from the starting point to the runway and then around the bike loop to the end of the runway and then back to the bike loop around again and back to the starting point. The official countdown started and away we went. I crossed the starting line at 0:00:19 and we were off. I was jogging and mam was walking so I was a bit ahead of her (not for long though) At the start the jogging was fine, I kept at steady pace and I could keep going. This kept up for a grand total of 1.7km before I had to change to walking. I couldn’t handle the heat, I was seriously sweating more than I ever had in my life and the sun cream was melting into my eyes (at this stage I had the realisation that I should have worn a hat and I should have brought sunglasses which in hindsight was totally ridiculous that I didn’t bring them) . But I was determined to finish. So I walked until the next water station where I dumped a cup of water over my head and seriously looked like a hot mess and a very nice guy who was one of the “professionals” from the front of the pack said a very enthusiastic “you can do it girl in pink keep going!” and gave me a high five and it helped me (I know you will probably never read this but thanks for the pep talk “professional” guy) At this stage mam caught up with me and we walked the rest of the loop and part of the runway.

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So I finally felt up to jogging again and honestly it wasn’t too bad. Until I turned back and was facing the sun. It was hotter than hell and I kept jogging for the plain and simple reason that if I jogged it was less time that I had to spend in the burning sun. I reached the loop again and kept jogging. It was when I reached the observation tower I had to stop again and switch to walking (it was also at the point I realised that my jogging gear when wet turned a different colour and I looked like I had peed myself all down the back but it was all good because by the time I kept going it was officially all the same colour drenched in sweat. I’m classy right?)

I walked for some more and then decided to push on and get through the end of it and jogged again. I eventually reached the finish line and crossed at 53:34. So It took me a grand total of 53:15 all together which I know is not the best time but it is a personal best for me!

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I received my medal and finally asked a Cast Member what was the temperature and I was told it was a hot, sunny, humid 32 degrees celsius (90 Fahrenheit) which is a grand total of 14 degrees too much for my liking but I did it. While waiting for mam to cross the finish line I drank water and checked my phone for how much I actually jogged. The grand total was 3.72km! I am really proud of that. My goal was to run the whole thing but the sun was something I didn’t account for. Theres always next time. Mam crossed the finish line and got her medal and then we went off to enjoy the rest of the day in our cabana (but thats a whole other post) the ocean has never ever felt so good!

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But we did it and I would definitely do it again. This time I will remember the hat and sunglasses. There were people cheering each other on and people who told us congratulations when they saw our medal and the cruise staff also told us that it was the biggest turn out they had ever had for the 5K. It was a great experience.

Until next time, let your gypsy soul wander.