Beach and Sorts

Some weekends are even better than others. Sometimes it’s just brilliant to just take time out and enjoy all that is around you. It revitalises, enriches, and just makes you plain grateful for the life you are able to lead.

Last weekend was just one of those weekends. We were blessed enough to be able to spend the weekend in Guanacaste, a hot tropical paradise in north west Costa Rica. Konrad, a colleague and friend of mine, was willing to drive us there and back.. not sure if the pictures below show the roads, but for this European, those roads are better described as dirt roads with craters, rivers to cross, and seatbelts tested to the max. Needless to say, we would not have gone there if I would have been the driver. One look and it would have been.. sorry Mel, time to turn back…

Our purpose was to spot turtles, who nest in flocks in Ostional. The call the phenomena Arribada, which unfortunately we mist by a month. Turtles were still spotted but those we also missed. Hatchlings did not come out while we were there. However, the times we were there it was hot, and hatchlings would not survive in that heat.. so maybe for the best after all. We did see lots of evidence of turtles there.. nests, empty eggcasings, hatchling tracks, turtle tracks…. it just made it all very real and a huge reason to come back one day!!!!!

What was weird, shops selling turtle eggs… something I may never understand… and for sure not something i would ever try!!

What we did experience: beautiful beaches, sunsets and nature, amazing food, friendship, waking up to the sounds of monkeys, hummingbirds, butterflies etc.

Mel had the opportunity to snorkel and saw an Octopus, she was happy!! She spotted a couple Whales in the ocean.. and her marine biology appetite was satisfied also.

Writing this does the weekend no justice. It’s something I want to see again!

I am truly marvelled at the beauty of this world, created for us to enjoy. With the word of the Psalmist (19:1) the Heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands.

 

It’s Friday

Some weeks fly by, others drag and never end. But always I am so happy when it is Friday. The end of the week. The beginning of the Day of rest.

Today we drove to the Starbucks estate ‘Alsacia’ for a few hours of rest and restoration. The views were beautiful, and I felt the stress slipping away from my shoulders.

Tomorrow it’s Sabbath, where rest and restoration can continue. As we are in Costa Rica, am sure it will involve pool time and admiring beautiful views.

Below a few snaps of the beautiful estate, maybe it will inspire you too.

Psalm 55:6 oh that I had the wings of a dove. I’d fly away and be at rest…

State Fair

A country fair in England is probably the closest to how I can describe a state fair. Showcasing the best and brightest a US state has to offer. Apparently Minnesota is one of the largest State Fairs in the country.

And so being here in the US at the time of the fair it’s almost a given to go! A group of colleague friends and me went….

The first section we happen to walk through is the animal section.. in fact, we did not wander too many other places but stayed close to the Animal barns.

It’s so interesting to see.. goats are being pimped, washed, groomed.. pigs walk on a leash… people take great pride showcasing their breeds.

The horses though are my favourite… the horse and carts were just amazing to see. The way the horses are dressed up and walk so graciously! The owners look proud for a reason!

Combine that with all the sounds, smells and foods.. it’s an overwhelming attack on the senses:

I had a delicious pecan roll for dinner, washed down with lemonade. Not sure I want to know the amount of calories I consumed!

You seem to be able to get just about anything on a stick. Fried banana split, fried olives, fried mash, fried pickles….

Fries come in huge buckets, as do cookies… I guess to be shared, but who is going to say something if you eat it all alone?

People watching is probably my favourite activity. Dressed up, dressed down, having fun. I was glad to be able to hang out at the fair for a few hours and sample the atmosphere.

This event makes me reflect on those times in Jesus life where large groups gathered around Him, hungry for what He had to share. He gave them food, when they were hungry. However, when He wanted to talk to His Father, he sought solitude, being away from people.

I think I feel not to different. A few hours at the fair and I am ready for a day of rest, reflecting on other things!

How has your week been? Are you also happy with this day of rest, to reflect back on that which is important?

From Ferry to Fairy

Ok… maybe I borrowed the title from someone else… but it sums up this last weekend so nicely…. Melody and I made another trip to the land of magic and happy endings! We took the ferry over on Friday afternoon with a nice calm sea and the beautiful white cliffs of Dover behind us.

White Cliffs of Dover

We knew we would have a full day at Disney the following day, so we didn’t mind the fact that we would be arriving late in the evening at the hotel. We had also stopped off at a supermarket along the way to get some provisions for the weekend, but nothing quite beats an early morning cup of coffee!

Morning Coffee

I don’t actually like rides as my stomach is very sensitive and I easily get motion sick, but I love do love watching all the different types of people. Plus going on the fairytale rides such as ‘It’s a Small World’ and ‘Peter Pans’ Flight’. We were also insanely lucky as the weather was beautiful. We were glad we didn’t listen to the weather forecast, which had suggested rain, thunderstorms and cold temperatures.

Taking Instagram pictures at the different ‘walls of Disney’ and seeing all the different characters are all part of the fun that makes up a day at Disneyland Paris.

We love going on the water rides such as ‘Thunder Mesa’ and the fairytale boats…did I mention we were so lucky with the weather?

The traditional cookie and castle pictures have to be taken…no matter how many times we visit, these are traditions that will always be kept…

The day finished for us with the ‘Disney Stars on Parade’. We didn’t stay for the fireworks spectacle, as in the summer months they are at 11pm! This time however, we just wanted to get some food and put our feet up!! We had walked around and stood for hours! The burning sensation reminding us of every step we took.

Sunday was always going to be a quick visit before heading back to the ferry… the weather really turned, which was forecasted, but we managed to have some sunshine before the looming thunderstorm hit! So a quick walk around Walt Disney Studios to see the Marvel characters as it was the Marvel season…. give me fairytales and happy endings over Marvel anytime though!

When it was time to hit the road, the thunderstorm was overhead and so we decided to leave a little earlier than planned, just in case. We attempted to avoid the many potholes on the road and make it back to the ferry in time.

We will see you again soon Disney! I can’t get enough of all the magic! It really is the happiest place on earth!

California

Even though I have travelled quite a bit around America, I had not made it to the west coast.. many colleagues come from there, so many stories have been told… and now I can add my own stories!!

Last weekend I flew to California just for the weekend… not to see the Hollywood glitz and glam.. one of my biggest wishes was to see the Pacific Ocean.. driving on the Pacific highway would be the bonus.

The warm air and beautiful blue sky was in stark contrast to the blackened hills. The recent fire images from the news sprang to mind quickly when you actually drive through these hills.. and see the devastation. A quick reminder that life is temporary and this is not our home. I can’t wait for the permanent home in Heaven!

No beach visit is complete without shells… and even though I was assured that the beaches are mostly bare of shells, I found some!! To be treasured for sure.

The beach visited is often used for shooting movies and tv series.. I did not see any celebrities though and would not even recognise any anyways. I was far more interested in trying to spot marine life! I instantly regretted not taking my camera.. 2 whales were frolicking in the area were the surf was. We could follow them and observe from probably 30 ft away… so cool! A pod of dolphins was seen further in the sea… man! Awesome!!! That’s the only word I have to describe it.

I did not realise I would be so quickly hooked on a place so alien to me.. walking in the sunshine on the beach…. California… I will be back!!!

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Whale Watching

I wish I could express with a picture the amazement I felt when we saw the first whales today. A mother and it’s baby. So graceful through the water! Melody said the mum was teaching the young to breath. We saw another 7 at the various spots the boat took us. Amazing!!!

We could get in the water at whale island, so named as the island sometimes spews water. Just as we were about to graciously drop ourselves off the boat another whale passed by! How cool!!!

As I said… I wish I had pictures… am sure Melody will upload a little clip.

In the mean time, here are some snaps from the beach location… a little bit of heaven on earth…

In case you were wondering where? Uvita, Costa Rica… it feels like holiday… I may not come back!!!

Exploring London…

A couple weeks ago I realised that I had never been to London on my own. I knew the reason for this was my anxiety, but that same week I had decided that I was going to fight this. I was going to fight my depression and anxiety head on and not let it beat me.

So here I was on a Wednesday morning, packing my rucksack with everything I thought I would need and off I went. After a quick stop off at Dad’s church, he dropped me off at Watford Junction and I was on my way…no turning back now…trust me, the anxiety was winning…my illogical part of my brain was telling me that everything would go wrong and I should just go home and lie in bed. But I thought the better of it and pushed through.

After a quick check to make sure I had enough on my Oyster card, I ran into one of my old school friends and instantly the anxiety reduced. Instantly I was calmer. Turned out that he was headed for the Science Museum which is directly behind the Natural History Museum. The anxiety for travelling had almost completely disappeared at this point and the other fears and anxieties built up. But again, I didn’t give in. I powered through.

About 30 minutes later and there I am, standing in front of the Natural History Museum. Now my plan had been to spend the day there, meandering through all the different sections and reading as much information as possible. However, the second I walked through the doors, I realised that that wasn’t going to happen. It was so incredibly busy, and boiling hot! Not a great combination when you are already struggling with anxiety!

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I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could but after about an hour, I gave in and left. I moved on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, hoping that that would be quieter, unfortunately, it wasn’t. So after a quick dash through the V&A and a quick pep talk from someone special, I picked up the guts, ignored my anxiety and decided to go to the British Museum.

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The British Museum has always been one of my favourites as it includes a lot of ancient Egyptian history and Ancient Greek history, two of my favourite topics!! Yes, it was busy and hot like the other 2 museums, and yet my anxiety was a lot less there.  I was able to distract myself with all of the awesome history that surrounded me. I drowned out the illogical brain and all of my anxieties, I was actually able to enjoy myself!

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Multiple hours were spent here just wandering around looking at all the different artefacts and then realising two important things:

1) How many plaques said ‘now missing’ or ‘now destroyed’ and it made me sad to think about how much history we have already lost and would never be able to discover!

2) That the Natural History Museum didn’t have any information that I saw about the current crisis and what we can do to help to stop more extinctions, etc to happen.

The journey back really tested my anxiety and fear though. It was just before rush hour, but people were already there and pushing. I decided to let one train go as it was so busy and full that I knew it would be a recipe for disaster. The next train was practically empty and I was able to avoid a near-certain panic attack.

Now for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, this day just sounds pretty calm and ‘normal’. For me, however, it was a HUGE step. It allowed me to see that I can push through and not let anxiety run my life. It also showed me that London isn’t such a scary place to explore on your own! Would I do it again? Definitely!! I’m already planning my next trip in!!

If you suffer from anxiety…what do you do to stop it? How do/did you overcome it?

Some Weeks are Better than Others

This was one of those weeks I did not mind was passing quickly. I eluded in my previous post I hurt my back… I actually really hurt it and was flat on my bed all day Monday. I could not drive, so Geert graciously took me to work the other days of this week and picked me up again.

As a reward he is now at the dentist with a broken molar….I try to stretch and walk as much as possible as I have a long plane flight ahead of me on Sunday. But.. through it all I am very grateful.

Grateful I got to spend quality time with my little family. Even though we worked, the time spent in the car could be used for dreams and future plans. Daydreaming is wonderful, you are not restricted by time, space or money.

The week has nearly passed, the day of rest is approaching. The weather is glorious, and it’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness!

I hope you can find lots to be grateful for!

Happy Weekend!

Lazy Sundays

A typical Sunday in the Tap household is cleaning, grocery shopping, eating… or taking me to the airport for me to travel to someplace or other…

Not this Sunday though… we thought about going to the beach due to the nice weather, but changed our minds when pictures of the beach emerged in the news and it looked like you could walk over the heads of people.. instead, a picnic in Cliveden was on the cards.

We have been National Trust members for a couple years, but not made it to Cliveden yet. The estate is not far from our house, and this day we decided to have a look there. It’s a beautiful park! A beautiful hotel too, but we did not make it that far… we found a lovely space in the shade under a tree and spend a few hours just having family fun.

Although I hurt my back a little, this truly is what family fun is about… Mel and I crocheting, Geert reading for his classes… just idling the time away together.

It reminds me of that passage in the Bible of the wedding in Cana. Jesus hung out with His friends and family, showing it’s important to make time for each other… it was His first miracle in the Gospels actually, where He turned water to wine… to me though, the most important part is the being together having fun bit! Spending time….

What’s your Sunday routine? Rushed to get ready for the week? Or are you able to take time out to have fun with family and friends?