Honeymoon Sneak Peek 3: Monastero Santa Rosa

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

It's our very last day in Italy today and I can't tell you how sad Mr Sunshine and I are to be getting on our flight to London later. I loved Italy before, but over the past two and a half weeks it has rapidly become one of my favourite places in the world.

For the past few days we have been exploring Florence, but before we left the Amalfi Coast, one of our final stops was at one of the most unusual, interesting and beautiful hotels we have ever stayed in: the Monastero Santa Rosa. Rich and I received an incredibly warm welcome and enjoyed every second of our short stay, and I absolutely can not wait to write my blog post on this one. Until then, allow me to leave you with a third sneak peek of the Amalfi Coast with a short clip of our time spent at the Monastero. I hope this video will help to show you exactly why it is we fell in love with this converted monastery, and why we're already talking of returning one day...

See you later Italy! You've been perfect in every way.

Honeymoon Sneak Peek 2: Casa Angelina and Sorrento

Saturday, 25 July 2015

It's been six days since my last honeymoon sneak peek, and I can't believe how much we've managed to squeeze in! We've travelled the length and breadth of this stunning coastline and stayed in some of the world's greatest hotels. Mr Sunshine and I count ourselves incredibly lucky!

To keep you up to date, here's another short honeymoon video and a little insight into our time at the beautiful Casa Angelina Lifestyle Hotel in Praiano, plus a day spent in Sorrento.

Casa Angelina was truly one of the most amazing places we have ever stayed, and I can't wait to write my blog post on this hotel! What's your favourite hotel on the Amalfi Coast?

Honeymoon Sneak Peek: Capri

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hi from the Amalfi Coast! I know that I said I wouldn't write a blog post while I'm away, but after the most amazing week in Italy, I'm itching to tell you all about what we've been up to. My new HUSBAND (eek, still getting used to that word!) has been putting his TV Producer skills to work and has had a camera out all week, so I thought I'd let you see one of the fruits of his labours...

This is what we got up to yesterday, on a stunning private boat tour around the beautiful island of Capri. Please let us off the cheese, we are on honeymoon after all ;-)

Have any of you visited the Amalfi Coast or Capri before? What did you get up to? We'd love your tips!

Our Wedding Day. This One's For You

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Over the years that we have been together, there have been countless occasions when I have come to the sudden, abrupt, heart-stopping realisation that there is nobody else in this world that I would rather spend the rest of my life with than you. Here on this very special day, I would like to tell you about just ten of them.

Happy wedding day, Mr Sunshine. This one's for you.

1. It's December 2012, and it's coming up to Christmas. We have been dating for just over three months. I've been away for two weeks in Australia staying with my dad and his family, and as I stumble through the arrival gates at Heathrow at 4am after nearly 24 hours travelling (and very little sleep), I am gutted to see that Costa isn't yet open. I could really do with a coffee. I fumble in my purse for my Oyster card, and then suddenly, there's a hand on my shoulder, and I swivel around to find...you. You are here to take me home. To carry my bag. To tell me that I look beautiful despite the fact I have mascara smudged over my left cheek and eye bags down to my chin. To tell me that you missed me every second that I was away. How did you know what time my plane was getting in? You messaged Romana of course! Wouldn't you be tired for work? Don't be silly, you've taken the day off to look after me and bring me food in between naps. I hold you tight, and vow to never let you go.

2. It's June 2013, a Saturday. Early morning sunlight is creeping in through your flimsy curtains, waking me long before I'm ready to get up and start my day. I roll over, and hug you from behind, willing myself to fall back to sleep. Your phone rings, and you stir. I make a joke that it's probably Duncan. It's Duncan. He's calling about Doha. I hear snatched parts of the conversation. "Very good offer...four weeks...you need to make arrangements". I know what it is before you tell me. And I already know that you have to go. You tell me that you're going for me, for us, for our future family. To build a future for us. You promise me that nothing will change, that Doha isn't that bad and I can visit and that you'll always love me. But you won't go if I don't want you to. You give me the option, but I have already made up my mind. You are going and that's that, even though it hurts every part of my being to say it.

3. It's September 2013, a different airport arrival gate. This time I'm more awake, more alert. I excitedly scan the faces through the glass, seeking out your familiar flop of hair; your lop-sided grin. Then I find you and I'm winded. I can't breathe. Your hair is longer. You look more tanned. I swear you've got taller. But you're you. And you have a look on your face which mirrors mine. I feel like I have been away from you for so long. The walk along the glass corridor takes forever, and when I eventually get there, we can't embrace in the way I want to, because everybody is watching, silently judging. In the safety of the taxi, you take my hand and pass me a book. Best Friends. I don't know it then, but that book will live forevermore on my bedside table and I will read it every time I'm sad. 

4. It's November 2013, just two months later and I have just moved all of my worldly possessions to Doha. You take a week off work to help me to settle in. One night, we head down to the jacuzzi after the concierge has come to turn all the lights off. We aren't supposed to be there but if we're quiet nobody will notice. We feel rebellious. We look up at the stars and comment on how they look different here. The moon's upside down. We try to pick out Orion's Belt, but we can't find it. We vow we'll learn more about the constellations. I don't know anybody in Doha, I should feel alone and scared but I have never felt so safe. That night I fall asleep with stars in my eyes.

5. It's December 2013, and I have a third and final interview for a job. It's a really good one and I want it like I've never wanted another job before. I want to make you proud, and for you to believe that me moving out here was the right thing to do. My alarm goes off at 6am and as I roll sleepily out of bed, I notice that you are there with me. You are going to make me breakfast. Then you're going to take me to my interview. You don't care what the time is, you want to be there. It's as important to you as it is to me. I sit down next to the rose on the dining room table which you gave me the night before, and when you hand me a mug of tea and smile at me with sleepy eyes, I know that I can do this. 

6. It's August 2014 and we are in New York, nearing the final leg of our tour of the US. We take jet skis out into New York Harbour in the early morning, while the fog is still rising from the water. I'm nervous, I've only ever been on the back of a jet ski before and I can't seem to control the steering. You tell me I can do it, that's it's easy. You show me how. We round a bend in the river, and I can see the Statue of Liberty in front of us, and I get a sudden burst of confidence. You and Jim are picking up speed, skimming over the waves, whooping and grinning and I want to be with you. I hold down the throttle and grip hard with my thighs until I reach 40 MPH, and I begin to catch up. As I overtake you, you turn and smile at me like a proud parent and I should feel patronised but instead I'm proud too. I keep my hand on the throttle the whole way back, and with the wind in my hair, and you and Jim by my side, I have never felt so free and full of life.

7. It's September 2014 and you play me our video and then get down on one knee in the sand. I can't see the ring through my tears, but I can see your eyes glistening in the moonlight. I was always going to say yes.

8. It's November 2014 and you are in hospital recovering from a serious operation on your lower spine. Your grandfather has passed away and we are supposed to be on a flight home for his funeral. I visit with coffees from your favourite coffee shop in an attempt to cheer you up. I struggle through the door, my hands full of plastic cups and bags slung over my arms and catch sight of you on the bed, attached to your drip, looking weak and tired. My heart aches. You look up slowly and and as your eyes grow accustomed to the dark and you see me, your whole face lights up. You tell me today's hospital menu is excellent, that you've ordered me a guest meal and did I want to sit down over there and do some blogging? The A/C's up high so you'll ask for a blanket to keep me warm. You're in pain, both physically and mentally but all you want to do is check that I'm OK. 

9. It's January 2015 and I have lost my mojo. I come home at the end of a very long and difficult week and I am mulling over in my mind how to tell you how I think it is time we moved back home to the UK. You haven't got back from work yet, and I head towards the bathroom to splash some cold water on my puffy, tired eyes. I stop at the bed. You have left me a note. "Hey bub. Well done for getting through this week! Now you can put on your comfy lounge pants and read a book or maybe do some honeymoon prep on the couch. Time to relax! :-) Love you lots, Richy x". In a heartbeat, I know that everything is OK and it always will be. We never have that conversation.

10. It's July 2015 and all of our friends and family have arrived for our Big Day. We make our way to the Church for the rehearsal and stop outside the front porch. There's lots of people to greet and some you have never met before. I give my half sisters a huge hug and look over at you over their shoulders. You are calmly speaking with one of my cousins. It's as if you met them years ago and saw them just yesterday, you're so easy and natural. You look over at me and smile. At the end of the aisle I think I'm going to cry but instead all I feel is calmness. This is where I'm supposed to be. Next to you. You hold my hand as we listen to what our vows are going to be and never have those simple words sounded so meaningful.

Richard John Byles, I love you to the sun and back. See you back at the end of the aisle!

Weekly Ponderings: WEDDING SPECIAL!

Friday, 10 July 2015

This week has been a complete whirlwind of friends, family, flowers, food and ferrying. It's disappeared in the blink of an eye, and when I awoke this morning to find it was Friday and therefore that WE ARE GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW(!!!), I couldn't quite believe it! With very little time in between all of the last minute preparations, I have had no chance to sit down at a computer to read any comments, let alone to write a post - so sorry for the radio silence. However, here I am, having just had our rehearsal at the Church, with an hour to spare before I head out again to meet my family for the rehearsal dinner, and I thought I would pop up a quick Weekly Ponderings. It's not my usual format; instead it's a download of my very busy week in the lead up to our wedding day. Here's what we've been up to:

It's been a full but incredibly fun week. I can't thank those that have had a part to play in the proceedings enough. You guys have made this whole thing possible, and I hope we have the chance to show you how grateful we are tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be my final post for a while as Mr and Mrs Sunshine (eek, sorry, had to be done!!) are off on honeymoon for a few weeks. I hope you'll stick around until I return to hear all about our adventures!

To those of you that are joining us at the wedding tomorrow, I can not wait to see you all. Don't forget to use #thebyleswedding for all of your posts and photos! See you very soon :-)

FYS Guest Post: The Wedding Files on Dream Days 5

Saturday, 4 July 2015

It's a sad day because today marks my last guest post on Dream Days (for now). I've really enjoyed sharing Rosalyn's lovely space over the past few months as we've built up to our wedding days together. I have to admit that I got a little bit overwhelmed while writing this last one, as I flew back from Doha to the UK, so please excuse the emotional outpour!

You can have a read of the post here.

One week to go!

Weekly Ponderings 25

Thursday, 2 July 2015

This week I was excited about...

Well durr! Chances are that by the time you read this, I will be flying over Europe on my way back to the UK and an INCREDIBLY exciting week ahead of me. Just seven days to go now! I think I might pop from all the excitement!

This week I was reminded...

How hard I find goodbyes as I waved off a very good friend of mine who is leaving the desert for good. If you would like to find out what's next for Dream Days, you can read all about it here. Whatever happens, I know that we'll keep in contact and that I've made a friend for life.

This week I appreciated...

Waking up to some more very exciting news.

Eating healthily and exercising lots.

Enjoying lots of couple time with Mr Sunshine-To-Be before I jumped on that plane to return home without him while he finishes up his series of programmes and gets ready to come and join me. Richy, I'm going to miss you!

Quote of the week...

Only a few posts left before the day itself... I'm looking forward to sharing even more with you in the coming days. The sun is definitely shining in the UK right now, and I can't wait to arrive to enjoy it with you all! Have a great weekend.

My Honeymoon Travel Personality

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

I received an email from Emma informing me that this month's travel link-up topic was about our travel personalities at a very opportune moment. I'd just been talking to Rich about how wedding planning had completely eclipsed our honeymoon planning, and how disorganised I was feeling.

Luckily, Mr Sunshine-To-Be is far more relaxed about these kinds of things, and simply shrugged his shoulders. To him, once the flights are booked and the hotels secured, then we're done. All that's left is to sit back and enjoy the ride once we get there!

And he's right. That's exactly what we should be doing - it is our honeymoon after all. It's the one time in our lives when we should be able to completely switch off, and not worry about sticking to fixed itineraries or notions of what we 'should' be doing. Instead, this holiday is all about relaxation, enjoying each other's company and basking in the fact that we have the whole of the rest of our lives to look forward to together.

Nevertheless, there are a handful of things which my old travel personality will refuse to let go of, and therefore I have ensured that we have at least some of each of the following covered on each leg of our journey across Italy:

I love to seek out a great viewpoint

The more I get into my photography, the more excited I get over breathtaking views and stunning vistas. We are planning to climb to the top of the Duomo to get a great view of Florence, and to enjoy the stunning coastline of the Amalfi Coast from the infinity pools at each of our hotels...hopefully with a glass of champagne in hand.


I don't like to leave a place without soaking up the local culture

Be this history, architecture or simply enjoying the local cuisine, Mr Sunshine-to-be and I will be up and about most days, soaking up the sites. We're planning trips to the Roman Forum in Rome as well as Pompei to see the ancient ruins, we're booked into a few locally-acclaimed restaurants, and we've vowed to do most of our travel along the Amalfi Coast via sea taxi, so that we can see all that there is to see.



But I also love the excuse to relax and do nothing!

Aside from exploring, holidays give us a great excuse to sleep in, read books and generally laze around doing very little! Rich is going to need a lot of this, because by the time we get married he will have worked for 28 days straight on the TV coverage of the Copa America. What a hero! I have picked up a couple of good books for these lazy times and I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to get lost in them. Maybe while floating in one of those afore-mentioned infinity pools.

No matter how much I've loved my time away, it's always good to be home

I love to travel. I adore everything about it, from the people I meet to the things I learn (and the inordinate amounts of sunshine that usually accompany a good trip away make it pretty special too!). But I am also a big homebody, and therefore I'm also always excited to return home at the end of each trip. For this reason, Rich and I have planned in a few days back in London to finish our honeymoon, when we will be visiting familiar places, seeing some familiar faces and soaking up some home before it's time to fly back to Doha once more.

What's your travel personality, and what's important to you when you go away?

I am posting this as part of the monthly travel link-up with Emma, Kelly, Rebecca and their guest host Catherine. If you would like join in, head over to one of their blogs before the 7th July to link up your post!