Is everything an illusion?

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My mind is currently going through a – ‘I’m not sure what to do next’ – stage.

I have to start making a few decisions that can affect my future and the future of my daughter – but I am not sure which road is the right road. Should I even be travelling down any road right now, or should I just remain stationary in the hope that the road will somehow change like a train track and end up going right past my current position…*sigh*.

Am I just frightened about taking the next step? Am I just frightened that I will make the wrong decision? Am I just frightened that I won’t be able to manage or support myself and my daughter? Why am I being so fearful when I know that there is nothing to really fear?

Fear is the root of all concerns. It is the most powerful emotion that can prevent a good opportunity from becoming the greatest opportunity.

I need to stop being afraid and just do what I know is right!

But how do I know if I am doing the right thing? How do I know that my decision is the best decision? I am told to trust the Universe…it won’t let me down… but I can’t pay my bills or buy food with promises, hugs or with leaves. The world we live in requires money…real live money…not monopoly money!

The joke really is on us if we stop to think about it – what is money? Isn’t it as fake as monopoly money? Isn’t it just as pretend as drawing on a piece of paper? Who said it was ‘real’? Who gave it value?…. In effect, we did! We were told that it’s legitimate. We were told that it is what we need to use in order to survive. So that is what we did. We believed what we were told, and in turn we hold it as the most valuable commodity in our life. But wonder if we were told monopoly money was legitimate? Doesn’t that equate to the same thing? We as human beings, who have free will and a free mind, are the ones who have decided that this simple piece of paper holds value. A value, which causes us to exhaust ourselves working. We work long, hard hours. We slave night and day. We ‘hustle’ to make ends meet just to make enough of that paper to give away to someone else. Why didn’t we use leaves? Or dirt? Or water? Or sand? There are so many of those elements, and they’re all FREE!  Mother Earth is rich with soil and plants and water. The earth replenishes itself every day. There would never be a shortage of her wealth, and she wouldn’t turn us down because our credit rating wasn’t    good enough, and she wouldn’t lock us up because we couldn’t afford to pay her back.  When did we decide that we had to be slaves to earn paper that has no value, except the value we have placed on it?

Societies, governments and individuals tell us we are free thinkers. We have free will to do what we want, think how we want, and say what we want. But are we truly ever free? Take a moment to consider your so-called ‘free will’, and name one thing that is free about it.

We will forever be chained to our own mental slavery as we are continuously force fed lies and deceit. We accept hatred disguised as wars against terrorists. We accept fascism and racism, disguised as religion – a highest form of love they tell us. We are told the sky is falling every day, but instead of looking up to see if it is true, we run and cower in terror. We are quick to accept what someone else says. We are quick to believe the other person, instead of questioning for ourselves.

Fear isn’t real! Fear is manufactured just like the drugs Big Pharma keep forcing down our throats. ‘Fear’ is what the controlling powers consider their ‘pill’ – used to manipulate and control us. By instilling fear, it keeps us believing that the system they designed to help us, is doing just that. When in truth it is harming our every movement, our every thought. It is harming the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. It is harming how our children are taught, and the chemicals that are injected into their fragile little bodies under the guise of being a ‘vaccine’. It is the education system which has been regurgitating the same information for centuries. The manipulation, the lies, the deceit and the fear is instilled from childhood. As we grow, we learn to accept that being spoon-fed information and believing everything without question is normal. We are told that if it is written in a book it is fact. If the man who is leader of the nation says it, then it’s true, and if it is seen on TV then it is real. Time, and time again, all this has been proven to be propaganda used to limit our movement and control our freedom. The very same freedom which ‘they’ tell us we are in complete control of.

We are solely responsible for allowing ourselves to be controlled and manipulated. We have allowed ‘them’ to dictate to us what they consider right and wrong. We have allowed whoever ‘they’ are – to promote their propaganda – which are merely sugar pills. We cry out that we need to be governed so we elect idiots to have control over us and then complain they are idiots. NO! We are the idiotic sheep scrambling around looking for the leader of the pack – who happens to be the wolf dressed in lambs clothing. We can clearly see that something is not right. We can clearly see that things don’t add up – but because we are afraid of just being true to ourselves, we humbly accept the wolf as one of our own – as he later laughs with his friends at our gullible nature.

I know I ended up on this rant because of my inability to make – what I would consider-  the ‘right decision’. I too admit that I am a product of a fear based society, who has to rely on the same monopoly money to survive. This is the course which has been chartered by nations before me , and I must accept that I too must succumb to the powers who hold the purse strings. But what I will not do is succumb to the fear based tyranny that has poured its poison over the nations, societies, peoples and individuals. I will not allow myself to be lured in by the glitter and gold of false promise of hope and prosperity. I will not be drawn and trapped by the web of deceit that abound , like clouds in the sky.

Today I take that stand against fear and all the shackles it has over me. Today I tell myself that I will no longer be held captive by the thoughts that keep me enslaved. Today I am finally fee. Today I am free to choose the path that best suits me and my life. Today I am free to be me!

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How to spot a holiday rep

You csuitcasesould always spot a holiday rep at the airport. They were usually pushing an overloaded trolley which had 2 grossly oversized suitcases, a brand new duvet, a small television and more often than not, a George Foreman grill perched precariously at the top of the pile. We took the term ‘creature comforts’ literally – especially if we were newbies. I can guarantee by the end of the season however, that TV was being used as a table, and the grill was probably holding up something that had fallen down…like the bed.  By the end of the season we realized that there was no need for half the things we brought – including the 20 pairs of shoes ‘just in case’. Every season that ended we vowed to NEVER carry so much stuff. Inevitably every season that started, our suitcases were heavier than before – and instead of 2 – they suddenly multiplied to 3 or 4. I don’t know about anyone else, but I envied the reps who were doing second seasons in the same place – why? They had left all their stuff behind knowing they would be back, and there they were, breezing through baggage claim with a cute little hold all. Curses my overloaded trolley and my blistered fingers!!

A newbie rep is fresh and green. Totally unaware of the perils that lie ahead. They are innocent and naïve, and they honestly have no idea that the moment they walk through the arrival doors looking all giddy and excited – their fate is sealed. No amount of training will ever prepare you for the doom that is ….. AIRPORT SHIFT!!!

A newbie rep turns up to their first airport shift looking all smart. They open the cellophane packets that have kept their uniform pristine and neat. Excitedly, each item is unfolded and put on in a sequence. The final piece to complete this fabulous look are the shoes – the oh so wonderful court shoes! Shoes on, ensemble complete, feeling great! Board the coach to the airport and the shift commences….

..… 12 hours later those same newbie reps look like they were steam rolled, bulldozed and then scraped up and thrown in the garbage. No amount of prep could have prepared them for the reality of an airport shift.

Every season we were instructed to wear a specific style and shape of shoe as part of our uniform. We were told the heel should be a specific height – and yes, the height and the style of that shoe does make you look more like Daisy Duck instead of Daisy Duke. But it’s the company policy for a reason. The reason is not quite clear until you have your first airport shift and you spend roughly 12 hours…standing! Those sexy spike heeled shoes or the ones with extra length in the heel ARE NOT SUITABLE SHOES!!! At the end of the shift feet would curse obscene language, refuse point blank to take another step. Blisters developed…and mutated into at least 3 more! If you dared to make the mistake of taking those shoes off for only a second – forget it! Those feet would fight to the death to go back in. As a more senior rep at the time (after having my first, and ONLY, shoe-catastrophe), I would see the glances from the newbies as they eyed my rather unstylish and hugely unflattering footwear. The joke was on them though, because I knew they would be begging for mercy in another couple hours – *cue evil laughter*.

Airport shifts were hit or miss… and most of the time it felt like sheer chaos and mayhem! Depending on the resort and the country, it would be more senior reps trying to coordinate buses, drivers, flights, delays, guests, reps…total mess! However, if you had the pleasure of working in Tenerife, you had fallen from hell into heavens playground! Tenerife airport was managed with precision. It was structured, orderly and efficient. Every shift – even if there were delays or long hours – was a pleasure to work. The airport was a nice comfortable size. It wasn’t horrendously humongous like Mallorca airport and it wasn’t a tiny tin can like Thessaloniki (Greece). It was an airport that was easy to get from point A to point B, and not feel like your feet were waving the white flag of defeat. Tenerife was by far the BEST airport to work in, and the team that operated there were amazing! The whole process was seamless. We turned up, we were assigned a specific area, once we were finished with that one, we were assigned another, and in short order the shift was over and it was time to head back to resort. And the BEST part about the Tenerife airport the year I worked – the company FINALLY decided that we came across looking too stuffy and unfriendly looking wearing our formal uniform – so they decided to trial the casual look at the airport. Trainers, polo shirts and cargo pants were the order of the day!  As you can imagine, that guinea pig project made airport shift the best experience of our lives that season! Instead of hobbling from point A to point B, there was much laughter and skipping gleefully in the sunshine.

Aaahhh yes…the sunshine. The sunshine that we go in search of. That wonderfully intense heat that could dehydrate a donkey and leave him dead on the edge of the road. That was how reps felt wearing the full formal uniform…like a dehydrating donkey. The summer heat was unbearable and the sweat that flowed was unstoppable. Can you imagine, we would have to endure that heat and then present at our welcome meetings and hope to god that the sweat stains on our shirt were not off- putting to our new guests. I remember many occasions when it was time to turn the flip chart, I didn’t! I knew if I raised my arm I would only be endangering my safety. The guests sitting there in their bikinis and shorts made us look like sweating pigs in a meat shop. As lovely as that glorious sunshine was, and as much as we craved its warmth compared to the bleakness of the UK, we knew our limits when we were scared of our own sweat.

With the heat of a blistering summer sun beating down on us as we stood in the coach park directing guests to the right buses, we could feel that first bead of sweat form on the brow and start a slow descent down the forehead. Once that first sweat bead was formed it acted like a signal blower to the sweat bead army, because within seconds the entire body goes damp. But that sweat bead army had an alternative agenda. They knew we could handle a little body odour, but they knew that we couldn’t handle one thing in particular…stink shoes!! Oh man!! Rep work shoes were to be handled with caution…preferably wearing a hasmat suit. No amount of spray, sunning, baking soda or stockings/socks could rid those shoes of the funk that emanated. I remember I had a pair that were so stink – I felt embarrassed talking to guests. The stench was so bad it was like a big old elephant was sitting there staring at us. Granted, the guests did bid hasty retreats mid conversation when that elephant decided it wasn’t moving…I guess the stink shoes did have its merits after all (SMILE).

Irrespective of the burning shoes, the sweltering heat and the stink feet – Airport duty was kinda fun. It was an escape from sitting in the hotel dealing with complaints or listening to some of the guests moaning about the breakfast and why the bacon and sausage weren’t English. It was also a chance to catch up with other reps based outside of the resort. Above all it was a chance to scope out the ‘fresh meat’, potential hotties, and suss out which guests were going to be big spenders, tight wads or whinging gits.

As I had mentioned before, most of the new arrivals were gormless and lost. They confused their name with the hotel they were staying in, and they thought their name was the airport they were coming from. They were confused little creatures in need of great assistance. Problem was, reps had a practical joke side – and instead of assisting the gormless lost fools – they would often send them on a wild goose chase looking for non-existent coaches.

As the new arrivals started to come through, it was ‘’tits and teeth’’ (chest out and BIG smile) time. We were poised and ready for action. With clipboards high in the air, loud voices boomed through the airport as eager holiday makers pushed and squeezed to get to the first rep they saw. They were like prisoners making a mad dash to freedom. It was there in the arrivals hall that outlined the rest of the week for the reps. It was the arrivals hall that determined whether or not the preceding week or two, were going to be shitty. It was here that the inevitable issues would begin – and if it started with lost luggage then forget it… simply be resigned to the fact that the rest of the week was going to be a total nightmare.

No matter which flight came through those doors, the questions were always the same…

“How far is it to my hotel?”

“Will we be dropped first?”

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I think this sums up guests and their incessant questions

“We are staying on a platinum package. That means we HAVE to be dropped second! Will you make sure we’re dropped off second?

“How long do we have to sit on the coach and wait on other guests?”

“Does the bus driver speak English? Does he know where I’m staying?”

“Does the coach have air conditioning? We need to sit at the front”

No matter the resort, no matter the country, no matter where in the UK the guests arrived from – they ALL thought the same, spoke the same and behaved the same.

The airport was where every season started and every season ended. It was an integral part of our lives, and if we weren’t in a hurry to escape a particular hellhole, then it was also the place where the most tears were shed as we said good bye to strangers who had evolved into our closest friends.

The moment my repping days came to an end.

mummyYesterday made 6 years that my mummy passed away. She succumbed to her illness at approximately 11.30pm on April 23rd 2009. Today, I figured it would only be right to dedicate this blog in her memory, since my blog profile picture is her at the age of 10.

My mummy is my inspiration in everything I do, say and think. It was with her support and her encouragement that I was able to accept every challenge and obstacle in my life with grace and poise. It is because of her why I am who I am, and it is because of her love of the creative why I have started blogging.

My mum was a lawyer by profession, but as the years passed she morphed and changed like a caterpillar into a butterfly (several times). She was an author, a certified reiki practitioner, a mediator, a yoga enthusiast and fluent in french. Above all, she was a best friend, a confidante, a motivator, a hero…a mother!

She allowed me to soar high like an eagle, and if there were times my wings failed, she was always there to catch me. She always stood in my corner, ready to help me fight any battle – especially if she knew I was right. She gave me free reign to express myself and to grow freely like a beanstalk. She told me once – “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You can do anything once you set your mind to it”. She had a loving hug and a listening ear for every one of my friends – and all of them were known as “sweetie” and “sweetheart” as far as she was concerned.

The day she died it felt like the rug had been pulled from under me. It felt like I was free falling in an abyss with no sign of hitting the ground. I felt like I was in a dream which had suddenly turned into a nightmare. I felt hopelessly alone while surrounded by so many people. I did everything in an expressionless daze, totally unaware of the harsh reality that I was presented with. That was the precise moment my holiday repping days were over for good.

Every time I would close my eyes I hoped my mother was going to walk through the door. I had actually made myself believe that she had only gone for a little holiday and she would be back very soon. 6 years later…and she still hasn’t come back from her little holiday. I guess I’ve had to make peace with the fact that she’s never coming back.

I have framed pictures of her all over my house so that I can be reminded of her beautiful smile every day. Her smile could light up the darkest night, and it is her smile that I remember the most. It’s weird – as the time passes, the memory of her starts to fade…but her smile is what stays with me. I can no longer hear her laughter, or smell her perfume. I can barely see her face in my head, or remember the tales she would tell. Everything seems to be faraway memory…so faint…almost unreal.

My daughter did not get a chance to know her grandma – and for that reason I live forever in a state of sadness. My mum wanted grandchildren so badly. She used to tease me that I was going to have 10 and all of them would love her and call me ‘mean mummy’. (*smile*). I would throw back my head in fits of hysterics at the thought of 10 children, and I would say, “That’s absolutely fine. You can keep them! I don’t want 10 children anyway”. I didn’t know I was pregnant when I sat by my mother’s death bed. I never found out until after she was gone. If she had known would she have fought a little harder? Would she have stuck around a little longer? Would she have recovered completely? These thoughts are just ‘what if’s’ that float around my mind – I am fully aware that I will never know.

We didn’t always see eye to eye – but who does as a teenager? I really couldn’t stand her though, and I used to wish she was dead. As far as I was concerned my life would have been easier without her in it! Stupid teenager I was! – wishing my mother dead because she said I couldn’t go to some dumb party. Looking back, I’m appalled that those thoughts even came into my head. How could I have been so callous and unloving? What could have been so bad? As a teenager you never think your parents are going to die…they’re invincible. In your 20’s you never think your parents get sick…they’re unstoppable. So you can imagine the shock and the horror when you receive a phone call from halfway across the other side of the world, in a totally different time zone, and hear the immortal words – “whatever I say…don’t panic!”.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was working in Fuerteventura (the Canary Island), and the phone rang. It was my mum. She sounded a little weak, but nothing to get overly concerned about. She made casual conversation, and then said,

“I wasn’t planning on saying anything. I would have preferred if you found out after I was gone. I’m sick. I have breast cancer. Its stage 4 and there’s nothing they can do. I was told I had to tell you – but I didn’t want to”.

Nothingness is probably the only word I can use to describe the emotion I felt in that moment. I didn’t know what to say, do or think. This was in the February – I had just left in January after spending 2 months with her. I didn’t notice anything strange then and she definitely didn’t say anything. What on earth happened in the space of a month? Why was she telling me this now? Was this a sick cruel joke – if it was, it wasn’t funny.

I flew back home March 2009, when the company could finally release me, and I will admit wholeheartedly I ignored what I had been told. I saw her lying in the bed looking frail, but 2 months prior she and I were driving and behaving as if nothing was wrong. Who was that person lying in the bed pretending to be sick. I had convinced myself it was a joke…and she would jump up and go “GOTCHA!”. The only “gotcha” I got was when the doctor called to tell me she had passed away, just after a week of being admitted into hospital for dehydration. I guess she got her wish in the end – I got that final phone call from a stranger after all.

Just when I think I have cried all the tears I have left – a fresh wave of tears trickle slowly down my face. I could write and say that this time of year is especially hard – but I’m made of stronger stuff. I could say that some days I don’t want to face being a mother or an employee. I could say that there are moments when I want to run… to run fast and far away. But I can’t say any of that.  Because my mother is – and always will be- my inspiration. Her tenacity for life, her youthful demeanor and her positive outlook, is what gets me through my darkest days – and when all else fails – I remember that smile… that smile that could light up the darkest room

death

Repping in Benidorm felt like the pits of hell! 

Benidorm…sigh. What can I say really? First impressions?… I had clearly made the biggest mistake of my life by turning down Egypt for such a complete shit pit! It was a far cry from Costa del Sol or even the Canaries. My first thought was that karma was a bitch and the company was punishing me for turning up my nose at my original placement. Don’t get me wrong…Egypt is lovely, but at the time they were having a little issue and I really didn’t want my mother to get a call saying “there’s been a slight accident…”

Once again I was the lonely old rep heading to resort late. I was travelling on my own but this time I was better equipped to face the challenges. On this occasion I really didn’t want to talk to anyone on the plane…considering that when I looked around the metal tube I saw NO one under the age of 65. My next clue as to what to expect , was overhearing snippets of conversation flowing between couples…

“This is our 43rd time here. I hope Pablo has our usual room ready”

“The last time we came we went to that market…do you remember Bob? The one that had all those gypsys. Robbing little bastards they are”

“I wonder if there are any new trips? I hated Gibraltar. That bus made me feel sick”

“Do you think we will see Sandra again. She was a nice rep. I hope she’s there. Such a caring girl…not like the other one”

I slowly slipped my headphones on and sank deeper into my seat. Clearly this was NOT going to be the easiest or best season if this was what I was facing.

Now please understand that being in a plane with nearly 200 passengers over the age of 65, i was clearly going to stick out like a freakishly giant sore thumb. It was only a matter of time before the whispers started and I could hear …

“Aye, Barbara…do you think she’s a rep? Looks a little young don’t you think? I hope she’s not ours. I want to see our Tom again…I liked him. Such a good lad”

All I knew was that I just needed that captain to step on the gas before there was an all out lynching…because once they had sussed I was a rep for sure, there was going to be no escape. I would have to listen to every complaint, every issue. I would have to nod politely, smile graciously and try to evade as many personal questions as possible.

Don’t get me wrong…I loved the older guests! They all had fascinating stories to share, full of wonderful insight and often times were the only type of guest who gave nice little gifts and relieved themselves of all their toiletries, books and magazines when they were leaving. The older guests…most of them… were totally precious…but the other half were pompous know-it-alls who were a complete pain in the arse to be around.

I finally landed in Alicante unscathed…thank god. The drive into Benidorm was not pretty. The skyline was a far cry from what I was used to. It was a jungle of skyscrapers and huge concrete structures. I couldn’t even see the beach…I wasn’t even sure where it was or how far it was. I know I had said it before…but this was NOT what I had in mind. Where were the one story buildings with cobbled stone streets? Where were the little local tavernas with old local men sat outside? Where the hell was the sea? Where was the breeze? Where was I???? Somehow I  had landed in some kind of hell.

Arriving at night definitely did not prepare me for what I saw in the day. What I saw at night was actually pretty compared to the greyness that existed. Getting my bearings was difficult at first until I realised that the entire layout of the resort was a grid system. But it felt a lot like being in a small town than it did being in an actual tourist resort. I felt more like a business woman going to work each day, instead of like a ‘holiday’ representative. That being said…the initial impression was not great and I vowed I would do my time as a prisoner and make a hasty retreat as soon as the warden set me free.

During my first month I had a stint in a little office that we shared with our German counterparts. Our company had decided to trial a new concept. For all the hotels that barely had any of our guests in there, instead of wasting man power by having a rep in these hotels, these guests could make their way to this central office and speak to a rep or they could call . Office hours were the usual repping  hours (including the break for siesta). Let’s just say that this little concept did not sit well with a huge majority of guests. You see, as I mentioned before, guests are funny creatures. They need to have their hands held and they NEED to complain about something to someone. So imagine their disgust when they arrive (for the 43rd time) and realise that Sandra the rep is gone and they are left with no one! Instead they are left with a phone number and a long walk to an office! Catastrophe!

So not only had I arrived in visual hell, but I had arrived as the guinea pig for some crazy idea…and even though I had escaped unscathed from the plane…here I was now face to face with the same blasted passengers I had tried to hide from! This was NOT a good start.

Our German counterparts in that small office kept laughing at me and my colleague. Every day they would shake their heads and  ask us why British holidaymakers were so loud and why did they complain so much…what was I supposed to say? I would just shrug and answer the phone to yet another screaming guest.

The bosses soon after moved us from that position, and moved me to another side of the ‘town’. I was given control of 3 hotels. All in walking distance and all relatively small compared to the monstrosities that were around. I was now starting to settle into life somewhat…I never had a choice though…I had to remain longer than I thought! I was trapped in this prison for another 3 months…I intended to make it bearable.

The guests in my hotels were really nice…only downside (not really)…all the guests were returning guests which meant if there was nothing new to offer them then they were not coming to my welcome meeting ,and they refused point blank to buy any trip. As one guest said,

“I could probably teach you everything you need to know about this place. I’ve been coming here 50 years…”

Once I had established that I was off the hook with having to sell, I just turned up the notch on my customer service…because old people LOVE to fill out questionnaires! I was attentive, understanding, talkative and I was a listening ear. The oldies quite liked me actually *smile*.

On one occasion I got a call from the emergency hotline to tell me that my guest was in a terrible state. She had lost her husband and needed help finding him. Naturally I wasn’t the least bit panicked. Guests have a tendency to exaggerate (known fact). I was sure when she said “lost”, she really meant he was around the hotel exploring. Well…she was half right. He was “lost”. He had ended up in the hotel bar during the night and had fallen asleep. But after finding him there he had no recollection of where he was or who his wife was. His alzheimer had kicked in and he thought his wife was some sort of temptress. He kept telling her to go away and leave him alone. He kept shouting he needed to go back home to his wife. Oh boy! That was my first encounter with something like that and it was awful. It was frightening to see the sadness and confusion in his eyes. There was nothing I could do except be gentle and try to explain that he was with his wife and everything would be Ok. Needless to say, the following day she had to book an emergency flight home. The condition had deteriorated rapidly and she knew she couldn’t manage.

Of course the wonderful Benidorm was filled with the strangest people and even stranger situations. After a rather hectic arrival day I got a call from the airport rep telling me I should expect a guest and I was to keep an eye on him. Hmmmm…ominous I thought. Well, this guest turned up and on further inspection things were a little out of character. It was an elderly gentleman travelling on his own without any suitcase. His only bag was a black supermarket shopping bag. In it, he had the following – a comb, a brush, underpants (1) and his passport. I kid you not! He had been standing at the baggage carousel until all the bags were gone and the reps had to go get him. He had forgotten that he didn’t bring a bag. When they tried to question him he kept saying he needed to get away. As you can imagine his family was called immediately and he was admitted into hospital until they arrived. Its common knowledge that Benidorm has the highest incidents of natural deaths…it is where the geriatrics go to take their last breath. Luckily I didn’t have any incidents, but my colleague did. The guest called him up to the room because she needed help waking her husband. The man had died in his sleep while she was sleeping next to him. Poor woman!

Amid all the geriatrics, deaths, “robbing gypsys” and the slips and falls (old people are frail and break easily), we had an active social life. Benidorm is one of the cheesiest resorts I have ever worked. It caters to everyone and every mood. The nightlife is active and entertainment is on every corner. There are live sex shows, comedy shows, musical acts. There’s dancing and singing performances. There’s magic acts and there’s impersonators….and then there is the infamous Sticky Vicky. A visit to Benidorm is not complete without watching a grandma completely naked, pulling things out her hoohaa. That’s right folks…this lady can create electricity with her hoohaa when she inserts a light bulb! Good old Vicky!

I learnt  a few repping tricks in Benidorm…getting home early in the morning and the shift starts in a couple hours? Put on your uniform! That way you can jump out of bed (after you’ve pressed the snooze button on the alarm at least 10 times) and head to work without being (too) late. Want to go home early from the bar but all the reps won’t let you leave? Tell them you’re heading to the bar to get a round of drinks then sneak out through the crowd.

Benidorm was the one resort where there was no tension or rift between rival companies. Every rep knew they were in hell and we all couldn’t wait to get away. Some made their getaway quicker than others…via the backdoor…under the cover of darkness. Yup! Some reps just ran away in the middle of the night. No goodbyes, no warnings, no nothing. It takes some guts to do it…(he knows who he is)…but the urge to escape was too great, and could any of us blame them.

I had served my sentence well, and with dignity at the end of winter 2. I received my badge of merit and I was renounced of my past disservice. I was free to leave the highrised ,geriatric hell hole.

As I drove away in the bus – back to the airport – I stared out at the skyline and thought about the experience. I was glad it was over, but I had learnt to deal with far more issues than I ever thought possible. I had been pushed to my limit countless times. To me, I had  completed another level in the University of Life, and for that reason I would be forever thankful to the home of Sticky Vicky.

Backpacking vs being a Holiday Rep

tenerife view from apt

View from my apartment in Tenerife

I am truly overwhelmed by the amount of reach that my blog “what is a holiday rep and what does that mean” has made across the world. It has pretty much gone viral at this point – from the UK to Russia, from Mexico to South Africa – everyone is connecting with a simple post that has so much meaning to people spanned across the globe.

I know that I wrote about what would seem to be the darker side of repping – but it is important to highlight the lighter side. The lighter side of being a holiday rep and even a club rep, far outweighs the tedious complaints, sore feet and long days. It is filled with endless sunshine, romance and above all it is filled with total security.

There are hundreds and thousands of people (young and old) who crave adventure. Who yearn to throw in the towel and jet off into the sunset forgetting about everything they left behind, in search of a new life on faraway shores. But not everyone has the nerve to do it because the idea is daunting and even frightening. The thought of having no control, no idea what to expect and the deep rooted fear of leaving security for insecurity.

Anyone who has backpacked off the beaten, or not so beaten path, will attest to the fact that it involves a lot of research and prep. You have to pour over Lonely Planet guide books, trawl the internet and talk to as many people as possible to figure out the best and most suitable options. It takes time to plan, budget and create a rough itinerary of where to stay, how to get around, where to go and where NOT to go. Once in your desired destination you then have to consider work options depending on the time of year – be it olive picking in Italy, fruit picking in Australia, teaching English in Burma or maybe bartending in Spain.  There are those who simply don’t care – they pack their bag and turn up in a country and pray that they can last for even a few months without calling home to beg for funds to return. Whichever category you may fall in, the one thing is sure, nothing you do is totally secure.

…That is why millions of people across the world go on holiday! They crave that adventure but they want to ensure that their every move is planned and they can be guaranteed that whatever they do, they are safe and comfortable.

I have to thank the Travel Gods for having the hindsight to tap into a market of creating holiday packages that provide that sense of adventure for the more discerning traveler. These Travel Gods tapped into an unlimited supply of human beings who crave the freedom to explore and engage, knowing that they are protected by the very company they have put their trust in.

These same Travel Gods then realized that there were even more eager and willing young people (and more mature), who wanted to experience this limitless freedom on a more permanent basis – hence, the birth of Holiday Reps!

Working under an already established company, with footholds in almost every part of the world, means that the options are vast, the freedom of movement is inhibited and more importantly – every basic need is met. As a rep you are provided with flight tickets, accommodation (NO BILLS), food, transport, phone (depending on your position), uniform and a little stipend each month. After that is established, it is then up to the rep to work hard (make more money), prove their worth, and take care of everything they are given. There may be rules and regulations – don’t chew gum, no drinking or smoke in uniform, don’t steal company money (duh!), wear the uniform correctly, be at work at least 15mins before start…and the list goes on. But it’s nothing that would be deemed as difficult to adhere to. One thing though… with all the rules, there is one thing they do promote – WORK HARD, PLAY HARDER! …And that has to be the singularly most awesome mantra you could tell a rep…believe me when I say, you will never find anyone as sociable and more fun loving as a rep! We know how to dance until sunrise and go straight to work – the key was always to fall asleep fully dressed in uniform (especially if you were only going to get an hour ‘nap’ before the morning shift started).

Even though we danced til sunrise and drank crazy concoctions like ‘Red Sh*t’ (you know who you are), we did everything as a unit…irrespective of the different companies out there. I had friends from so-called ‘rival companies’ – but there really wasn’t any rivalry. You had the few who were snobbish, maybe a little off-handish I guess, but all in all, we were in this madness together regardless of the uniform we wore. We were a team – a team that was responsible for the well being, safety and security of thousands of holiday makers that arrived into our hotels every week.

Being a rep teaches you a lot about yourself – who you are, what your strengths are, how you truly handle situations you are in, what you want out of the experience and where you see yourself in the future. When placed under extreme stress there are some who totally cave, give up and go home. They realize that they can’t handle being away from home and the home comforts. Some turn from meek and mild and become the most outspoken and vivacious character to ever grace the planet. Some realise their potential to sell just about anything – whether ice to Eskimos or Bob Marley to Jamaicans. Some discover they are dive enthusiasts – and go on to get PADI certified and spend the rest of their days teaching scuba diving in the Mediterranean. Some even move up the ladder within the company and become managers and area managers. For me, I tried my hand at everything – from scuba diving to being a team leader. I learnt about power point and how to use it, the fine art of public speaking, how to write articulate and engaging pitches, how to manage my time effectively, how to train and motivate team members and how to do accounting. Most importantly, I learnt that I am ideally suited to customer facing roles and I am unafraid of any challenge.

My holiday company made it part of their philosophy that there should be team bonding sessions in the form of what we called ‘jollies’. We had mid-season ones. We had end of year ones and we had tons in between. Jollies had many forms, from fully inclusive boat cruises to see dolphins to evenings out watching fabulous shows. Whatever the form, it was a chance for every rep to catch up – because depending on the resort we were placed in, we could guarantee that reps would be located in every corner and crevice of that resort. This meant that when jollies were had, it was a chance to come together, gossip and rekindle the friendship that was established from the first week of training. It was during these jollies that I witnessed romance blossoming between reps. Let’s face it, we are away from home, we weren’t supposed to interact romantically with our guests (yeah right *wink wink*), and we were human after all! The end result was that romance was inevitable – some lasted and some didn’t. But I know first-hand a bunch of reps that are now happily married – and it’s those love stories that make you realise that the gateway to travelling (whichever avenue you decide to explore) can be filled with a few potholes and a number of stumbling blocks, but it sure can lead to that possibility of the ‘happily ever after’.

So if you are currently feeling stagnant, looking for an adventure, hoping to have life changing experiences – all the while feeling secure and comfortable – check out your local travel company and apply to be a holiday rep… I guarantee that it could be the BEST decision you ever made.

Don’t just take my word for it – check out this article I found – http://www.gapyear.com/articles/90421/work-as-a-holiday-rep

What is a ‘holiday rep’ and what does that mean?

holiday rep

Final goodbyes before taking them to the airport

There has always been some misconception with the term ‘holiday rep’ and the type of lifestyle they lead. Thanks to TV shows in the UK, such as ‘Club Reps’ – holiday reps were thought to be drunken disorderly reprobates who worked overseas fueling alcoholism and debauchery among the youths who vacationed in groups during the summer season.

When I first told my friends and family I was going to be a rep their initial reaction was a stifle of laughter and a look of concern. They asked if I was sure I thought it would be a good idea since they didn’t want to see me on TV. Naturally I was a little taken aback, which just proves that the media only highlights what they feel makes for good viewing. I knew from talking to a number of past reps that the job I had signed up for was a FAR cry from what was seen on TV. I knew I was not going to end up on a TV show caught in any compromising situation.

A Holiday Rep is rather boring by comparison to a 18-30’s Club Rep. The club reps are the lively, crazy social butterflies whose only task is to ensure that their guests have the most amazing week or two weeks of their life. The concept behind club reps was to try and separate the boisterous party loving youngsters from the families and older guests who were simply looking for something quieter and more relaxed. Being a club rep involves a LOT of partying, late nights, early mornings and lots of mishaps. To be a club rep it takes a certain kind of mentality and strength to keep nearly 100 young people entertained, yet safe. And as most of us are well aware, once alcohol is involved, then just about anything can happen.

A holiday rep on the other hand, is someone who is responsible for the well-being of everyone else that hasn’t booked a boisterous party filled week away. The holiday rep is the one who has to contend with moaning old people and miserable families who hate their hotel. The holiday rep is the one who has to deal with the most bizarre situations and complaints with a polite smile stuck to their face. The club rep, because they are dealing with only young people, can deal with them just as they would if it was their friends. So for a club rep, even if the days and nights merge into one, and life is a constant party, at least if problems do arise, they don’t have to grit their teeth and bear anything with a smile…they can say exactly what’s on their mind.

Despite having tons of perks, like free food and drink from various businesses that want to be recommended, outings on boats or shows to build team spirit, being treated like a VIP 100% of the time (depending on the country and the resort), a reps life can be tedious. The hours are long and irregular. There is no such thing as public holidays – every day is just one big work day with a day and a half off once a week. Depending on ones position and location in resort, they could be issued with the ‘emergency’ phone – which is on rotation each week. This phone is the bane of anyones’ existence. It is the one implement that will give you night terrors and cold sweats. I’ve convinced myself it is the reason I can’t sleep at night anymore, and why every time the phone rings, I jump out of my sleep as if I was being chased by a herd of wild rhinos.

The ‘emergency’ phone was meant for guests who had a problem in the middle of the night and needed emergency assistance…notice the word ‘emergency’. I wish guests had taken note of what that meant. The amount of phone calls I received which were utter nonsense was ridiculous. There was one night I got a call at about 3am. This couple had just arrived at their hotel (their flight was delayed), and they were not happy with their room, the location and the general look of the hotel. They wanted to be moved immediately! I calmly explained that nothing could have been done at that hour in the morning – the companys reservation centre was obviously closed, and all the hotel reservations departments were closed as well. They would have to wait until morning when the rep on duty would assist them with their issues. I assumed that was the end of that when I hung up. 30mins later the phone rang and I thought that it was going to be a long night if this kept happening. Turns out it was the same couple. I had spoken to the husband first, who was totally fine with my explanation and was quite happy with my response. However…this time it was the wife! She on the other hand, was not so understanding. The blood curdling scream which emitted from the phone was eye watering. The foul language interspersed with crying, screaming and coughing, was more than enough for one person to handle at 3.30am. I hung up the phone mid cough and turned it off until 6am. Wrong I know…I wasn’t supposed to turn it off…but that crazy bitch would have spent the next 3 hours of my precious sleep tormenting me with her devil scream. No thanks! I had put up with enough crap during the day…I needed my rest.

The days, weeks and months all flow into one as a rep. Yes, each day is different, but there is no such thing as a weekend or a holiday. Each day is the same – the only day recognized on any reps calendar is that singularly most precious day – the day off! I shouldn’t be so cruel – we all had siestas every afternoon. We followed the locals with that ritual – every afternoon from about 2pm to 5pm we got to have a little rest. Rest being the operative word – because if we had stuff to do at the office, or got stuck dealing with a complaint with a guest – we could kiss that siesta goodbye. Don’t even mention airport shift day – especially if we were pulling a double shift. By the time we got home late in the night, after being there from 8am, everywhere ached – included our throats, from talking so much.

Reps are hilarious creatures though. When it came time to select the preferred destinations for the next season, everyone looked at the flight plans for the various resorts. If we had a particularly bad summer with airport duty almost every day – or having to face late night flights and/or early morning flights – we definitely didn’t want to endure that again. So I would try to find a destination I liked, I wanted to work, but had the least amount of flight days… This leads me to my next topic…Presentation days.

The day following a flight arrival day is the most crucial day of any reps career. It’s the day that ‘fresh meat’ pass by to say hi. Eager, excitable holidaymakers who might not have been to that destination before, look forward to meeting the person who they will complain to, annoy with ridiculous queries, and ask probing questions  – and if they are feeling up to it, they may consider going on a few trips. Bright and early the morning after a flight arrival, the meeting room is prepared with welcome drinks and information packs highlighting the trips that are on offer are laid out. This is either the worst or best day of any reps life…and for me…it was the WORST! I HATED selling trips. I hated trying to convince people that they had to buy trips otherwise their holiday wouldn’t be the same. I just wasn’t a hard seller, or a persuasive seller. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the trips on our itinerary and I would recommended all of them, but I just couldn’t force anyone if they told me point blank they weren’t interested. I always put myself in their shoes – and I knew that if I was on holiday I wouldn’t want to be harassed about going anywhere if I didn’t want to. I was definitely not considered a top selling rep – but when it came to a crisis, I was definitely up for dealing with the challenge – like the time the little girl ran straight through the glass patio doors (which had no identifying sticker on it). Yeah, that was a great start to their holiday, and a great start to my welcome meeting day.

There may have been downsides to the job; the long hours, the sore feet, incidents and accidents, just to name a couple – but as any rep would tell you – which job doesn’t? One thing for sure though, when we all got together as a team, we would regale each other with the most outrageous antics our guests had got up to, disturbing sights we had faced, and the most stupid questions that were ever directed at us. It was common knowledge that once a holiday maker closed the door to their house, they left every ounce of their brain tucked up in the kitchen cupboard until their return.

On separate occasions, in different countries, there were guests who complained that the holiday brochure lied – it didn’t mention there would be fish in the sea. In Rhodes (a Greek island), a couple accosted me in the dining room of the hotel and demanded to be moved immediately! Why? They had no idea it would have greek people staying in it. One day I was selling a trip in Tenerife (one of the Canary Islands) to go into the mountains to stargaze, and a lady asked me if the island had ever had a full moon. She was curious because she had been there (all of 2 days) she hadn’t seen one. There was a young family in Benidorm (Costa Blanca, on mainland Spain) who had hated the apartment they had stayed in, so right before they departed, they left a huge pile of sh*t in the microwave – yes, yes. You can imagine what happened after they set the microwave for 3mins…that microwave had to be thrown out and the apartment fumigated (for a few days).

It baffled all of us how half of these guests ever made it through the airport and boarded a plane. By the time the arrival doors opened and a sea of pasty white descended upon us, every single one had either the ‘gormless lost’ look, or the ‘haughty know-it-all’ look. Whichever one we were greeted with, the response was always the same:

“Where are you staying?”

“UK”

“Excuse me sir? We don’t have that hotel on our list. Can you repeat?”

“I just landed from the UK”

“No sir. Which hotel are you staying in?”

“Mr. Jones”

…And that was when we would look down at the fabulous little tag on their bag (god bless whoever came up with that lifesaving idea – utter genius)which had their name and the hotel they are staying in. I would sigh in indignation, shake your head and direct them to the coach waiting outside to take them to the resort – all the while hoping and praying they actually make it to the coach and didn’t get lost.

Every guest on holiday has to have their hand held, they have to be spoon fed information and common sense disappears. I am sure it remains at home tucked up beside the brain. There were a number of occasions that a guest would complain that they had their wallet stolen. On further probing, I found out that he had stopped to play a betting game on the side of the promenade…he had to guess which cup was hiding the ball. *Shakes head*. Why oh why oh why?? We tell these people at the start, in the middle and at the end of their holiday – “don’t do what you wouldn’t do at home. Stay away from the street side con artists”. What do they do – ignore every word that is said, get their wallet stolen and then make a formal complaint that the rep was rubbish, she didn’t tell them anything, she didn’t care…blah, blah, blah. As a rep, our skins had to be thick and our backs had to be broad.

Rep life was hard work, but it was full of memories and lots of laughter. The friendships that were cemented are eternal. There is something special about sharing a journey with a set of complete strangers, thrown together in the middle of total chaos. We united as a team, we drank as a team, we partied as a team, and as a team we were an unstoppable force.

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Our mid season outing – my DREAM team

The start of my repping adventures in Halkidiki.

I ended map of halkidikiup sitting next to a sweet old lady on the plane, who was holidaying on her own, and I had told her that it was my first time being a holiday rep and I didn’t know what to expect, and how frightened I was about starting late into the season because everyone would have arrived weeks earlier and they would all be settled and friendships would have been established. I think I literally had verbal diarrhea on this total stranger. I told her everything about my life and why I ended up being a rep and what I was running away from, what I expected to get out of the experience, where I saw myself in the future..blah…blah…blah. Jeez! At the time I was just relieved to have someone to talk to. It was all very nerve wracking. I am a control freak of the highest order, and for once in my life, I had lost total control over my life. I was being carefree and spontaneous. Yeah, whatever! Who was I kidding…I was making a terrible mistake, and I was scared shitless! I wanted to turn back. I wanted to get off. I had made the wrong choice. These were all the thoughts flying though my head as I sat on the plane 32,000 feet above sea level as this metal tube with 219 holidaymakers, plus 1 very frightened holiday rep, made its way to Thessaloniki airport in Greece!

Man, oh man. I was right for having all those initial feelings. Arriving mid-season to a destination especially if you had no clue what to expect…SUCKED!

I was met at the airport by my allocated manager, Tracy, who had on enough make up to make a clown jealous. Her eye liner, eye shadow and mascara were so thickly coated onto and around her eyes; I wasn’t sure how she was even able to see. Sweet girl though– and I say ‘girl’, because she wasn’t that much older than me. We headed off to the area known as Halkidiki – which was compromised of the 3 fingered peninsulas; Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. I had read about this area prior to arriving, and it was supposed to be a fabulous place to live and work.

My temporary abode was in the centre of a small greek village known as Kalithea, on the peninsula of Kassandra. The balcony overlooked a little road that ran through the centre and I could watch all the goings on from up in my turret. I remember being dropped there, hauling my 2 oversized suitcases up 3 flights of stairs and feeling very overwhelmed as I looked around the place I would call home. I had been given an itinerary of my daily trips, the first of which was the following day at 6am. Tracy told me that she wouldn’t see me again for the rest of the day and I should settle in and explore my surroundings.

I decided to go for a little walk once I had unpacked, just to get my bearings and figure out where I would have to meet the bus for my trips. It soon dawned on me that everyone spoke greek – english was not a language that was universal – despite popular belief. How the hell was I supposed to communicate here? How the hell was I supposed to buy groceries or order food in a restaurant when I had NO IDEA what was written or being said? Just great! This was not what I had imagined, or signed up for. Within the space of a few hours I was pretty much ready to pack up and go back to Smallsville.

On my exploration I had not encountered any perverts or slime balls. To be honest, everyone was so polite and very friendly. Actually, most of them spoke to me in greek – which was surprising considering I looked like I had just stepped fresh off the boat with a pasty looking complexion, and the psychotic deer in headlights gaze plastered to my face. I found out the following year that I looked greek – which was why the locals spoke to me in their language, and why they were taken aback that I didn’t respond in their tongue.

The subsequent days that followed were a total blur. I went on all manner of trips to see various sights, in and around the 3 peninsulas. There were boat rides to see Mount Athos, sunset cruises from Nea Skioni, bus tours around Sithonia, city trips to Thessaloniki, market sights at Nea Moudania , and museums visits at Ouranoupolis. There was the chance to see almost every corner of Halkidiki from land and by sea. I enjoyed every single minute of it – and I even met up with the little old lady from the plane. On a couple tours she and I partnered together walking around and exploring. It was nice seeing her again, and I was even nicer to have someone to talk to and share the experiences with.

Visiting Mt. Athos was probably one of the most unique experiences of my life. It was the largest monastic state in existence and only visible by sea, and considered a world heritage site by UNESCO. Women were not allowed within a certain distance from shore, and Prince Charles (the British monarch) would retreat there. It was on this trip that I learnt that his father was actually born in Corfu – which made Prince Charles Greek orthodox by blood. The entire peninsula was dotted with monasteries’; some of them looked like they had literally been molded out of the rock walls. As the boat steered as close as we were allowed to get, a hush had fallen over the guests on board. We were hanging over the edge with our mouths open in awe, totally captivated by the dramatic scenery, as the guide spoke about the history. I could hear the gentle breeze rustling through the sails, the water as it lapped on the side of the boat and sea birds screeching high above our heads. The odd ‘’ooooh’’ and ‘’aaahh’’ could be heard amid the frantic shutter clicks of almost every camera, as everyone tried to capture the essence of what was before our eyes. We had fallen under a spell of mesmerizing tranquility.

I honestly felt like a tourist during that first week designated for excursions. But the real work was soon to follow in the second week when it was time to shadow the reps and write my sales pitches based on all the excursions I went on. I must admit, writing the sales presentations were not too hard. I enjoyed everything I saw and it was a joy for me to re-account my adventures so that they could be shared with others – even if it was for them to spend their money.  I will admit wholeheartedly that throughout my tenure as a holiday rep, the sales pitch was NOT my forte. I was not the highest seller; I was not a forceful go-getter when it came to pressuring guests to buy trips …or anything for that matter. I did not hit my sales targets…ever. And if I did, that was purely by accident, or I had a particularly active set of guests staying in the hotel that week. The joke was, the real money as a rep, was made by hitting targets and getting commission. So of course every rep was actively involved in this process because they wanted the extra funds. That was great for them, but my philosophy has always been – “I don’t do my job for money. I do it because I love it. And if I love it, then money must follow”. The one thing that I did hit target for on a weekly basis was my customer service. The reviews I received were flawless – and that was probably my only saving grace within the company since I refused to be their sales pusher.

Halkidiki was just stunning. The people were so warm and generous. The men were handsome, if slightly arrogant and the women were stunningly stylish. Life there was very laid back, yet fiercely trendy. The locals at specific times during the summer would frequent the resort in the hundreds, and the bars and restaurants would be filled with tourists and locals alike. Whether tourist of local, everyone would interact like family…and that is huge in the Greek culture. Family for them is important. So important in fact, when the first born daughter gets married, she does not move away from her family home – the father builds on top of the existing structure. There was so much about the culture and their beliefs I grew to love and accept (and still do). I learnt the language so that I could communicate with my hoteliers, staff members, the locals and of course with the bus drivers – since they were the ones who refused point blank to learn english. Many of the reps found the bus drivers cantankerous and unhelpful – but I soon realised that once they saw you trying to learn their language and at least able to communicate at the basic level, they were the sweetest men ever. There was one occasion that a bus driver who didn’t know a word of english spent an entire 2 hour journey from the airport chatting away about his life in greek. I had a basic idea of what he was talking about and could interject with the courteous peel of laughter or odd phrase – but all the guests thought that I was some kind of greek speaking genius. I didn’t let them think otherwise.

Being a holiday rep certainly had the most awesome perks! Every bar owner and restaurateur wanted to be my friend. They wanted me to eat in their restaurant for free. They all wanted to make sure that I had a fabulous time in their establishment. One catch – all this eating and drinking for free meant that they wanted me to recommend their business to my guests, my colleagues’ guests, and any random guests I came across. We weren’t supposed to show favoritism – rules of the company – but hey, some places offered specific things that others didn’t. As long as I was honest and I tailored my recommendations to the needs of the guest, then it was a win win situation.

Greece spoilt me rotten. I never paid for anything in and around the resort I worked. My company was the only holiday company in the area at the time, which meant that the 3 of us working there, had a fabulous time. My first season as a newbie rep may have started out a little scary and lonesome. By the time I was placed in Fourka, a small fishing village on the Kassandra peninsula – the place I would call home for the next 6 months – I soon became very settled into the lifestyle, and forgot about my initial terror.

Halkidiki changed my life forever! There was no turning back now. I was well and truly bitten by the travel bug.

To eat or not to eat

Even though I am currently reliving my youth through my blogging adventures, in reality I’m really a mummy. A mummy to a no-eating, stubborn, back chatting little monster who is showing signs of being the ultimate diva.

Ok…so she’s not a monster all the time. But she sure as hell makes me feel like one when I have to turn into the demon mother. Sometime I wonder why we can’t just birth adults who will simply leave home as soon as they’re born. I know its harsh to say, but let’s face it, this parenting thing is tough…and it gets tougher as the years progress. You sit on the toilet pondering life and then it hits you that for the next 18 to 20 years of your life you are entirely responsible for the person you deliberately birthed. Phew! That’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Especially when they reach 5 years old and you realise that you still have another 13 years…which means you didn’t even make a dent by bringing them this far.

Each child is different. Some are short, some are tall. Some are skinny, some are chubby, some run fast, some like to play dolls, some dance and some are cry babies. But one thing makes them all the same…they love to eat! Well…not all…my daughter put the ‘picky’ in picky eater. Actually no…a picky eater eats more than my child. My child just downright doesn’t eat. If it doesn’t look the way she thinks it should, if it doesn’t taste the way she remembers it and if she so much as smells something which is out of place, then she refuses to even look at it. My child’s 5 senses are sharp as a tack and there is no tricking her with hiding medicine in juice or blending vegetables to disguise them as tomato ketchup. Oh no… my child with her super human nostrils can smell a rat a mile off and she won’t be duped or coerced into allowing anything past her lips to “just taste it”.

As a child (and as an adult) I loved food! I would eat anything and everything…except mushrooms and onions (despise that stuff…its horrible). I enjoyed spicy food from a young age – Indian cuisine being my favourite. My daughter refuses to even try the mildest dish on the menu – I question if she’s really mine at this point.

I offer her fish fingers, chicken nuggets, pizza, fries, KFC. I offer her Chinese noodles, rice. I offer her pasta dishes, meats, seafood. I even go as far as offering her cake and ice cream. Most kids go crazy for that. Not mine. She is very particular about the type of cake she has and the ice cream better be the right flavour of chocolate…if not then I might as well throw it out because she will not be eating it.

Other parents have offered advice, and many say she gets too many choices,I  should let her starve. “She won’t starve herself because she must eat”. I’m here to tell you that my kid is a super human being born from another planet…I have tried everything from ignoring to coercing, from forcing to bribing. Nothing works! If she doesn’t want to eat, then she will spend days not eating. But get this…she doesn’t  lose weight, she’s as healthy as they come and the doc says she’s perfectly normal. Normal?? Normal by which textbook, because last I checked, kids at age 5 actually like to eat…especially sweet things.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my little monster. I wouldn’t exchange her for the world. There are those moments when I get a little worried, and I wonder if she’s really from this planet.

Leaving on a jetplane…

I was finally wpid-fb_img_1429189495126.jpggoing to leave the humdrum small town life behind and head off into the sunset to start my adventures as a holiday rep for Thomson Holidays (now called TUI Travel). I was going to live the dream – a dream that so many people have, yet are afraid to follow through with.

When I told my friends that what I was going to do, they all had that envious look. They all said how lucky I was, and how much they wished they could do it too. When I told them there was nothing stopping them, everyone simply ‘’ummed’’ and ‘’aahhed’’, interspersed with a lot of, ‘’yes, but….’’

I guess travelling is ingrained in my DNA. My Great Uncle Albert (whoever he was) was a British sea captain, and my entire childhood was spent travelling around different cities to different countries. My passport at the age of 7 probably had more immigration stamps than any adult. I know what you are thinking – I was a gypsy (hence my blog name). Sorry to disappoint you all. I was simply born to a family who travelled a lot for work – and relocating was a huge part of our lifestyle.

When I was younger – and even now as an adult – nothing gave me greater pleasure than boarding a plane, buckling my seat belt and waiting anxiously for it to take off. I loved the feeling as the front wheels came off the ground and the nose of the plane was in the air and I was thrown back into my seat as the plane made the ascent. If I was fortunate enough to have a window seat – which I always prefer to have – then I would look at the cars and houses below, as they started to shrink into the distance, looking like miniature versions of the real things.

There is no greater feeling than flying. It’s such a freeing experience. I enjoy every aspect of the plane journey – including the food. Yup! I admit it. I am an airplane food fanatic! I am not quite partial to the bacon or the sausage they serve for breakfast, but the egg and hash browns are nice – and yes, everything else that is served with breakfast goes down a treat too. I would have to say that my favourite meals are lunch and dinner. No matter what I get, it’s always super yummy. It’s so yummy in fact; there have been a few times I have asked for another one. I always thought that everyone else felt the same way about airplane food – until I saw the hostesses cart go past with tons of uneaten meals, followed by quiet murmurings of how terrible the food was, why they didn’t offer better meals, and next time they are going to travel first class because that’s where the good stuff is.

I have been fortunate to travel economy, business and first class with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta – believe me when I say that the food is the SAME! Only difference is how it’s served, what it’s served on, and depending on the airline, you might actually get a menu to choose from. Big whoop! Granted, I would LOVE to fly Emirates Airlines. I hear their service, food, décor and overall layout is by far the most superior to any other airline. One day (very soon), I will get that chance, and I will definitely blog about my experience…hint hint, Emirates – I’m willing to be your mystery shopper! *SMILE*

I am in awe at how people totally pass out on planes. It amazes me every time that the plane will be sitting on the tarmac waiting for boarding to be completed, and there is that one person who manages to fall dead asleep – sitting fully upright. I cannot sleep on a plane for love nor money. I am that annoying passenger who would have the light on because I’m reading or playing a game on my iPad. I make it my mission to watch at least 3 movies – and usually the movie selection is so awesome, because they show movies which only recently came out in the cinema. I don’t go to the cinema (the darkness makes me fall asleep), and I am never sitting still long enough to watch one at my house. So imagine being locked in a metal tube for 9 hours – these suckers have my undivided attention! I only wish airlines provided a never-ending supply of snacks, like popcorn, chocolates and maybe some gummy bears…then the 9 hours would pass even quicker.

Once the movie(s) are over – depending on the length of the flight – there is usually about 45mins before landing, and if you don’t time it right you will never make it to the bathroom to freshen up – why? The entire plane consisting of 200 plus people, have the same idea about 30mins before final descent. Everyone wants to comb their hair, splash water on their face, brush teeth – and I’m convinced some people actually bathe in that small space – how, I don’t have a clue. I kid you not, I have seen women striding down the walkway wearing a different set of clothes and hair looking freshly washed. I know for me, it’s a struggle to even wash my face. Water ends up down the front of my clothes instead of the intended target.

The descent is where the nerves kick in – not because I am scared of crashing – because as I look out of the window and the view comes into sight, and the cars and the houses start to get bigger and bigger – I know that this is it. This is the start of something new. What will happen next is a complete mystery. I have no control and I have no idea what to expect. I just have to hope that whatever happens, I don’t  give up and I can make at least one friend. I just need one friend to make a nerve wracking situation bearable.

Once inside the terminal and I am standing in the line for immigration to scrutinize every nook and cranny of my passport – I get a little tense. I know what is coming next, and this is the part I HATE most about flying! This is the part that can make me or break me. This is the part where grown men can be reduced to blubbering messes, and women can morph in howling banshees. This part is called… *cue the suspenseful music*…The Baggage Carousel!! That’s right folks – this is the only place where feelings can be toyed with, emotions left exposed, and luggage will either turn up…or NOT! Truthfully, that only ever happened once in my lifetime – and it happened to 20 of us – and this was because the Cessna couldn’t carry such a large load from Majorca to Ibiza, so it had to be done in stages.  Luckily the wait wasn’t too long – if my memory serves me correctly. My bag was one of the lucky ones to arrive a couple hours after we had arrived.

Once the bags have been collected (or the report for the missing luggage has been issued), that walk to the arrivals hall is the final emotional feeling – total fear. I always hope that the smile plastered to my face, as the door opens, looks more like a… ‘I’m so excited to be here’… instead of a… ‘I’m a deer trapped in headlights’ psychotic gaze. It’s hard to sum up all the thoughts that pound through my head like a herd of stampeding rhinos at this point. Happy, frightened, relieved, nervous, excited, confused, doubtful, miserable, overwhelmed, and tired – can best describe the barrage of emotions I guess. One thing is certain; this never changes, regardless of the destination.

Captains of change…where are you?

As I mentioned previously, there will be moments that I have a good old rant…usually because I witnessed something, read an article or engaged in a heated conversation, that made my blood boil. This blog this morning – (considering I haven’t been to bed and its 3am *face palm*) – was one of those Facebook statuses that attracted 0 attention. It fell as flat as a pancake and definitely didn’t spark any witty or insightful conversation. So…my wonderful blogging community, I share my rant with you all, and you can either agree or disagree…

Some sit at their high place and tell anyone who will listen that we are instigators for change. Lifestyle change, health change, mental change and even behavioural change. Some tell others that they are the catalyst for change, and through them, things will be done differently.
But when it boils down to it, everyone is a one track pony riding a
bandwagon that sounds and appears “trendy” in that particular moment. Every word uttered and every thought had within that moment, is pure air and full of false promise because they just like to hear the sound of their own voices. People talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk they falter and waiver, and with petrified looks, the “ums” and “aahs” are the only sounds you will ever hear them utter if you listen close enough.

I say this…get down from your high place, put on some gloves and don your boots, because the real change is physical, its dirty, its tiresome and its thankless. Don’t expect praise and to be exhaulted upon high… I am not a Jesus fanatic…but for the first time I get it…I get him. He was an ordinary man trying to make a change , trying to make a difference by himself. What thanks did he get? None! All the bandwagonists turned their back as soon as they realised hard work and effort was involved.
As a nation, as a society of people, who cry about making a difference and wanting to see change…stop talking!! Just start doing! This isn’t the Jesus era…you won’t get nailed to a cross for what you believe in. And you can guarantee once you start, there are others waiting for the natural born leader to make the first move.
Go on… Don’t just talk about change…be the change.

Namaste, fellow captains of real change.