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A WEDDING OVER THE POND

My week in USA started at my old Nanny family’s home in the state Minnesota. Last time I saw them was when I said goodbye, in February 2016. I was so excited about seeing them again, especially my little Nanny babe that I cared for from 9 weeks old to 15 months. Noelle ran straight into my arms and immediately said ‘Do you want to play with me?’ It was a special moment; the little girl who was just learning to walk and talk was now running and using full sentences. I had an amazing few days spending time with her and catching up with the other American Nannies I got close too, during my time in US a few years ago. I organised a play-date with all our little ones and we reminisced about the good times.

Thursday came around quickly and that’s when my best friend’s wedding celebrations started. I was so excited to see her, it had been 8 months since we last saw each other on my birthday in Dubai. Her cousin had prepared a low-key celebration at her apartment which was so beautifully set out and organised, we all said it felt like we’d just walked into Pinterest. 8 of us celebrated, playing typical hen party games in teams, eating delicious sweet treats and got stuck into the main activity of the evening, making our own body and hand scrubs. It was so simple, yet so much fun! I’ve added the beauty recipes below for you to try out yourself or if your planning on hosting your own evening, why not do this as an activity with the girls.

Wedding bells were ringing, only one day away!

Brandy and I spent 5 hours creating and putting together 5 bouquets for the bridesmaid’s and 1 for herself. We were so happy with the outcome, its not like we have any experience in floristry but everyone thought we’d done an amazing job. We also had the wedding rehearsal that evening followed by a groomsmen dinner. There’s something special about watching someone close to you walk down the aisle to soft music while everyone stops and looks, I cried numerous times, so much love in one room.

This was my first time at a full ceremony wedding that I would remember and being a part of the bridal party made it more special. The wedding was beautiful, from the location, the company, the music and the colour schemes. Lots of greenery, blush and white roses. My favorite part of the wedding was seeing Brandy’s spin on things, being an Artist she had creatively thought out every fine detail by making her own invitations, signs at the church and reception, including the menu and other added extras like guest book signing etc. All hand painted by her so elegantly, I felt it really made their wedding that much more personal, something she had talked about doing for so long.

Due to all of us bridesmaids being in different countries and states when the wedding was planned, we couldn’t get together to go dress shopping. So, Brandy had sent us a colour pallet to go off and a few pictures from Pinterest and we all went online to different retailers and found our dresses. We decided we’d all get slightly different so everyone would be comfortable in what they were wearing for the big day. On the morning of the wedding we put on our dresses and stood next to each other not knowing if they were going to look mismatched or fit perfectly, it was a moment that could have gone either way and we all held our breath, but to our surprise all 5 dresses complimented each other so beautifully. It was meant to be! We were all so happy with them, each one slightly different and unique, no one would have guessed we’d done it all without being together.

Photographs followed and the ‘first look’ for the bride and groom. The ceremony took place in the afternoon at the bride and grooms childhood church, a pretty little building surrounded by gardens and the lake in their home town. They had the reception in a beautiful location right on the Lake, and inside decorated with soft fairy lights, green garlands spread across white tables and candle arbor’s lit across the head table. It was so beautiful and exactly how Brandy and I had imagined her wedding when we talked about it a few years ago when we use to have girly sleepovers, picnics in the park and explore the frozen lakes of Minnesota. It was the perfect day and I am so grateful to have been apart of it.

I had no idea how much planning, organizing and preparation it took to have a wedding, so this was another experience I loved having. I’ve learnt lots on American weddings and some of the traditions they have that are different to your traditional British wedding. Here are a few:

  • At an American wedding you can generally expect the toasts and speeches to be your standard touchy-feely fare, but in the UK the wedding toasts are more like roasts, they are usually rather rude and embarrassing.
  • At American weddings it’s not necessary to wear a hat, whereas in UK traditionally wedding guests would wear fancy hats or fascinators.
  • In an American wedding the bride enters the room last, but in the UK the bride, precedes her bridesmaids, who will hold up her train or veil as she walks down the aisle.
  • In the US the groom faces the bride and watches her walk down the aisle, but at a British wedding, its customary for the groom to face away from the bride and only turn around once she reaches the alter.

Dubai Miracle Garden

Wow!

If you like flowers then you will like this. This is definitely the most beautiful garden I have ever seen, flowers everywhere. Dubai change the theme of this garden every year and I visited while they have the A380 Emirates plane structure, which currently holds the Guinness world record title for the largest flower arrangement, which covers the entire plane. It is pretty spectacular, it even has turning propellers at the engines.

Cute gnome houses covered in flowers are beautiful and when I climbed to the top of the viewing platform, I could look down on the whole garden and see that a lot of the structures were made to look like the tops of castles, it is such a princess world!

Considering the number of flowers that are here, the up keep of them must be crazy but I didn’t see any dead flowers or dying ones which, I would have expected. So nice to see it is kept so clean and tidy.

It was a warm day and I was there around lunchtime, so once I had a good look around I went and found a swinging chair to sit on and just watched the world go by. It was so peaceful, there are so many places to sit amongst the flowers. You aren’t allowed to take food or drinks into the garden as they have food carts and small shops placed around the outside of the garden paths for you to enjoy. I tried my first Arabic Shawarma here! It is kind of like a kebab, but with a few different ingredient’s, I had chicken in my pitta bread pocket, and it also had pickles and a yoghurt sauce. It was so yummy!

Another few of my favourite pieces at the Miracle garden would have to be the giant teddy bear made out of flowers and greenery. Also the swans that lined each side of the main entrance path. It definitely is a beautiful place to spend the morning or afternoon and the entrance fee only 45 durum. (Around £9)
If you are planning on visiting Dubai, be sure to put this attraction on your bucket lists. However, time your arrival right, because the garden is only open during the winter months. It is closed for 6 months of summer as it is far to hot!

Also, don’t forget to try an Arabic Shawarma while you’re there!

Visiting the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi 2017

Last week, I visited the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a brand-new museum which opened on November 11th.  I had seen the write up on it in the local Dubai newspaper and the advertising was huge so I knew I wanted to check it out. Plus, it was reported that Abu Dhabi had paid France 402 million to use the ‘Louvre’ name. After seeing the museum in France I knew this one had to be good. I took a drive to Abu Dhabi it takes about an hour and a half from Dubai, the Louvre has actually been built on its own island and the building structure has been built into the water. What can I say, the pictures don’t do it justice, it is stunning!

The floating dome, the blue water that surrounds the white walls make it so beautiful, the French architect really knew what he was doing here. Inside, the light streams through the dome making beautiful patterns of light as your walking through. The museums narrative is broken into 12 sections that give visitors a global glimpse of the past 12,000 years on earth. The exhibits inside are spectacular and the whole museum is set out like a maze, each room numbered and easily signed so you are able to keep track of where you have already been so you don’t miss anything out.

They also have a children’s section which is lovely, with all sorts of different sensory and learning exhibits that they can interact with but also learn something at the same time. You can definitely spend a good 4 hours here, they have a café and a restaurant that serves yummy food and has seats outside on the water overlooking the city of Abu Dhabi. They also have an ocean view auditorium where performers sit in a sort of floating/island stage. It is definitely a beautiful place to spend the afternoon.

Camel trekking through the desert with my best friend

Every year for the last five years I have celebrated my birthday in different countries all over the world. I have been able to do this due to my job as a Travel Nanny. This year for my birthday I have ended up in Dubai. I was lucky to enough to have my best friend come out to Dubai the day before my birthday who happened to be coming for a work project. I decided that due to my location there was no better way than to spend my 23rd birthday with my best friend other than trekking through the desert on camels.

The camel trekking safari that we booked included transfers to and from our pickup location, a 45-minute camel ride through the desert, sunset barbecue dinner and belly dancing entertainment into the evening.

Short Christmas city break in Aachen Germany

In the UK the pop-up, German markets that come to Birmingham in December are a popular and well-known attraction, something I like to visit every year. This Christmas I had 3 weeks off work and returned home, my partner and I were looking for a short Christmas getaway for a few days but being Christmas time, we knew prices on flights and hotels tend to be expensive so we were on the hunt for a last-minute deal.

I was looking into Germany for two reasons, one the Christmas German markets would be on and two the first family I became a Nanny for were there on holiday. We found some good flight prices on Sky scanner that was within our budget and we booked straight away which flew us from Birmingham to Düsseldorf Germany with Euro wings. We needed to be staying in Aachen, a city 1 hour 30 minutes train ride away from the airport so we booked into the Mercure hotel a close walk into the centre of Aachen city.

When we arrived we quickly realized that all of the German words we knew between us wasn’t enough to help us understand and ask anyone for directions, the majority of people were very friendly, happy to help and had okay English speaking skills. It is always good and respectable to know some of the language, not only to help yourself but for the locals to understand what you are trying to ask. So, we downloaded the free google translator app which was a lifesaver.

Over the next three days, we spent our time amongst all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers. The German markets were beautiful, we enjoyed seeing the lights and handmade German gifts that were on sale. The markets are set around the Aachen Cathedral which is amazing on the eye and as you walk around you really feel like the Cathedral is towering over you, it is one of the oldest Cathedrals in Europe. We also tried some German cuisine and one of our favourites was ‘Flammkuchen’. This is translated to ‘Flame Cake’, it has a crispy thin crust and rather than tomato sauce, the dough is spread with crème fraiche and any toppings you desire but traditionally is topped with cheese, bacon and onion. They are then cooked in a wood-fired bread oven, you can also find sweet versions. These are delicious, I would highly recommend having one of these the next time you visit Germany.

Aachen is not just a historical city, there are many other things to enjoy such as, great places to shop with loads of high street stores and a lovely shopping centre called Aquis plaza. This is home to one of my new favourite warm drink shops, ‘The Chocolate Company’. There is also a very exciting water park called ‘Aquana sauna and Freizeitbad’ just a 20-minute drive from the city centre which is fun for all the family, we enjoyed visiting this for an afternoon going down the water slides, river rapids and fun in the wave machine.

I would recommend Aachen Germany as a travel destination for anyone, after visiting twice now, I know there are lots to do in all seasons and another special place to put on your bucket lists!