A Memoir of Chaos and Grace

From the moment Laura Jane Williams mentioned her friend Meg Fee’s book on Instagram, I knew that this book would be a comfort to me. It just came along at the right time.

Places I Stopped on the Way Home: A Memoir of Chaos and Grace – Meg Fee

In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots her life in New York City- from falling in love at the Lincoln Centre to escaping the roommate (and bedbugs) from hell on Thompson Street, chasing false promises on 66th Street and the wrong men everywhere to finding true friendships over glasses of wine in Harlem and Greenwich Village.

Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home.

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From megfee.com a watercolour by E. Rhondeau Morgan

Ok, this makes it sound really cheesy. But as I try to make my own way in the world, I am loving this wave of wise young women sharing the lessons they have learned. Made more exciting by the way we think we ‘know’ them from their social media and blogging presence. Also: I don’t know if it’s solely because of Royal Wedding fever but I think there is something of Meghan Markle about the beautiful Meg Fee? No?

Meg lived in New York for 13 years, since she was 18. She met a lot of ‘maybe’ men, she battled an eating disorder, she hated jobs, she lost a friend in that painful way we all seem to have suffered. But she makes every warm cupped latte and cold bitter wind sound beautiful.

Laura Jane Williams, a feminist whirlwind I love to follow on Instagram @superlativelylj was email friends with Meg Fee for several years before they finally met in Paris. They shared the most intimate things across the Atlantic Ocean. I love that. And it gives reminds me of Time to Talk Beauty and I! (Irish Sea… met in Belfast, still!)

“This is a missive to and from the muddled middle.”

Each chapter is a place in New York, the West Village, The A Train, West 10th Street. She plots disappointments and her own mistakes, she doesn’t dwell on work, because it’s not important. I love how she writes. There’s one chapter, ‘On Home’ and she writes ‘And when I call you in hysterics, when I collapse into you undone by something you think small and ridiculous, just the moment before your impulse to fix everything kicks in, give me three words: I hear you.’

Reading between the lines, I don’t think she’s met the man of her dreams just yet, but she’s ok with that. She’s often overwhelmed by how much there is to look forward to. Most of the women I have read, shared, sent the link around to friends recently, the ones writing most truthfully and relatably about love are alone.

Maybe the danger is Meg’s chaos and grace are not as chaotic and a lot more graceful than mine. Briefly I worry that my misadventures and wasted time and indecision are a lot more damaging than hers. But this is not the point.

It’s a book you want to underline and memorise passages from, and I just love that so many women are sharing their favourite lines online. I was crying by the end. There’s a lot of wisdom here. I was annoyed LJW picked out a line in the foreword, ‘I am every man who has hurt me, and the quiet hope that we’ve only got to get it right once.’ Because what a cracker of a line, and I was waiting for it throughout the whole book.

‘The year leading up to my 30th birthday was astonishing. Mostly in it’s ability to wound. It was a year of so many What Ifs and blind curves on unlit roads. A year in which, just as soon as I thought I knew where the story was going, the ground would shift beneath my feet.’

I think anyone who is struggling with their twenties will get something from this book. I have read it twice already. Hold fast to hope, as Meg would say.

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Miss G is 40

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Today is a very special day. One of my most loved friends is 40! I am thinking of her all day, we are separated by some distance Derry- Edinburgh and I’d give anything to be giving her a big birthday squeeze and maybe clink a couple of cocktails. I tried to think of something a little bit special for her, so I came up with ’40 friendship things’ about her and me to celebrate the occasion. We have a special link to WordPress. We have been talking for maybe 6 years? And met for the first time IRL in 2013. Anyway. I know she is sometimes quite shy on social media so I hope this is cool, but she is someone so special to me, and my little way of marking the day. So, Happy Birthday my beautiful, loyal and generous friend. I love you very much. Please celebrate your 40 wonderful years with your whole heart, until we meet again!

40 friendship things

(A friendship that started on wordpress)

  1. Discovery through our blogs, she has a kick ass, impressively regularly updated beauty blog, that she can choose to link you below if she wants to! Inspiring, helpful and impressive stuff. Blog hero. I think she was the first to start leaving comments for me, from her blog to mine, maybe searching NI !
  2. Which leads me to… Love for NI, Belfast, and maybe someday Derry! We have had so many wonderful times here due to this, including at least 3 outings to Belsonic, a brilliant bus tour of the Causeway Coast, (I had never been through the Glens of Antrim) days and nights in Belfast, so much fun and discussion.
  3. Cocktail appreciation, homemade mojitos in East Lothian, and fancy expensive ones in the Europa hotel, where we felt scraggly and under dressed but happy, not to mention creating wonderful cocktails behind the bar at a beautiful bar in Manchester with her lovely hens.
  4. Snail mail, including postcards from places we have visited without each other, and lots of long letters when we were getting to know each other. She even asked me an important question by post which was a beautiful surprise!
  5. In -jokes and laughter by the bucket load.
  6. Breakfast discussions over coffee and sugary cereal. Mostly when her and her now-hubby are generously hosting me in lovely Scotland. But sometimes over hotel breakfast or that amazing apartment in Belfast. And oh how we miss each other in the first days back to reality, after.
  7. Music and lyric appreciation. The first dance at her wedding by the National was a killer ! “you know I dreamed about you/for 29 years before I saw you/ You know I dreamed about you/I missed you for 29 years.” – (Slow Show) I also in turn torture her re: Josh Ritter who she has seen live too! Coincidentally.
  8. ‘Getting married’ in Camera Obscura in Edinburgh, long before her husband popped the question. We got little rings and everything!
  9. Crying at the Europa Bus stop/ Edinburgh Airport when we are parted.
  10. Her loving appreciation of her beautiful home city of Edinburgh. It easily rubs off to captivated visitors.
  11. She;s my so called ‘Catfish friend’ – because we communicated through twitter and wordpress only for so long, I was vaguely nervous about meeting in person in Belfast in 2013. My mum was convinced she was a ‘big man’ and my brother was on standby (Sorry!!!)
  12. For some reason we had many an important life discussion in Pizza Express in Belfast. Boyfriends were voted out indirectly and wants and needs came into focus.
  13. A natural beauty with the best figure, this girl has a dressed down, relaxed style generally that actually makes me feel so much more comfortable being around her and allows us both to focus on the priorities!
  14. Book club jealousy. Sometimes they have cocktails at her group! No fair!
  15. Hair tips. Volumise! And have you tried conditioner washing?
  16. Whatsapp, email, text message, blog comments, retweets… invaluable digital support!
  17. Really similar world views! But still plenty to dissect and chat about.
  18. Open top tour love, and many lovely and hilarious bus experiences due to this.
  19. Belsonic freezing happiness! Suade, Stereophonics, Foy Vance.
  20. Late night drive-thru Krispy Kreme runs! That is all.
  21. A most loyal friend. Hard to find.
  22. We both went the journalism route at one stage, we both blog and we both want to write. I’d say we both have a flair! Her most definitely. Scribbling sisters.
  23. Luca’s ice cream sundaes. Belly bursting but in the idyllic town of Musselburgh and sometimes bittersweet a few hours before I went to the airport.
  24. We both have the most special Grandmothers in heaven whom we continue to love always, and who had a positive and meaningful impacts on our lives.
  25. Over thinking twins We understand each other as we are each as bad.
  26. Coffee appreciation.
  27. The patience and encouragement I feel from Edinburgh. Even when I feel my life is stagnant or I might be doing something crazy, she is calm and understanding. I only hope I even partly return the favour.
  28. Road trips, including in the party bus, Claudia and Bertha. Are the names right?
  29. Hotel Adventures. Ten Square, Belfast gets a special mention. Beautiful setting for our chats and food!
  30. Constantly inspired by her packed schedule of gigs and plays and events.
  31. Book gifting, swapping recommendations, reading the other’s review and chatting about words, it’s always a pleasure and I trust her judgement.
  32. Introvert issues. We usually have a story to tell or a quirk that’s wordlessly accepted!
  33. That hen do. A special little happy weekend of new friends, old friends, relaxing and escaping, city life, drinking and eating and shopping and pretending it’s #notahendo to the Airbnb man in Manchester.
  34. The German language. She speaks it brilliantly and her mother was a teacher, I want to get to that place and beyond!
  35. Overcoming our fears. We both recognise that we must, and we encourage the other ! We can do it.
  36. She is the most loving cat Mum of Mirren who is a beautiful girl I like to visit.
  37. Social media queen. Always handy with a hashtag and good photographic evidence of the event! I’m definitely partial to social media myself, heck we met here! But she does it so much better.
  38. Moments that we are forever bonded by : Fire friends?! And our car being attacked by zombies at a Drive-In cinema.
  39. The age she got married at. What a beautiful wedding, inspiring bride, gorgeous speech, breathtaking venue…Krispy Kreme donut cake, view of Edinburgh castle, walking to the chapel, being led by a big Piper, and best of all standing beside her as a bridesmaid, I couldn’t have been prouder! And so grateful for the beautiful honour that it was.
  40. So, on your 40th birthday my dear friend, I am so sad not to be there and I do hope you understand, but more than that I am so happy our digital and then real paths crossed, that we trusted our friendship senses and set out on this slightly long distance adventure. When we see each other the words tumble and the tears of laughter roll, we take life by the horns and we don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I love it! And I truly do appreciate all your constant generosity and surprises, your support and your checking in with me through all my real trials and my over thought dilemmas. It’s truly my honour to know you, be inspired by, celebrate and cry with you and look forward to the future of our friendship.

Celebrate you as hard as you can! I hope we can have a cocktail soon. So much love rushing to you in Edinburgh, and hopefully a little box in the post too ❤

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Trying to #KeeptheSecrets

Almost a month ago now I saw ‘The Cursed Child’ the much discussed ‘eighth story’ is the Harry Potter series. I am so grateful I got to go. And if it hadn’t been for my friend Charlotte online-queuing for tickets TEN MONTHS before, I never would, so thank you C!

It’s in the Palace Theatre near Leicester Square in London. As is my life at the moment everything is happening at once, and I was only home from my good friend’s wedding in Scotland the week before, so I was a little bit stressed about it but it was SO GOOD.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan at all, and the wizarding world has meant anything to you, I urge you to go and see it if you can.

 

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Buoyed from the Warner Bros Studio Tour (excellent! Almost cried in the gift shop wanting to buy everything). We had chosen the two night option (The play in its entirety is about 5 and a half hours long and divided into Parts 1 and 2), you can also choose a Matinee performance and a night-time one. Because we were visiting London, this meant we could sight-see and manoeuvre the Underground successfully on Thursday and Friday visiting the British Museum, eating a very expensive chicken burger, Covent Garden, Westminster, Houses of Parliament, St. James’ Park, Hyde Park and Camden Market. We were knackered. Getting the ‘London Legs’ as my friend Caoimhe aptly called them!

There’s a buzz of excitement around the theatre and a queue forms down the side of the building. About an hour before it begins we have our bags searched and are allowed in to the historical and grand Palace Theatre. It’s impressive in gold and wood and beautiful inside. We sat in the bar area and waited for the doors to open.

I was like a ‘wide eyed child’ from beginning to end as Katie says in her review. The sets, props, MAGIC, choreography and costumes are amazing from the get go. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was totally transfixed from beginning to end.

As I discussed with friends, the plot IS pretty far-fetched even for the Wizarding World and something about it just isn’t true JK Rowling, despite her name being there as a writer beside Jack Thorne and John Tiffany ?

However, if you are in any sense a fan of the Boy wizard, you will love this play. It’s like nothing I have ever seen, and the true essence of the world of Harry Potter is really respected and celebrated with enormous talent.

The original cast had just changed merely weeks before we attended, I am sure the play will run for years and years and have many casts…  The character of young Scorpius really stole the show. I’m doing my best to #KeepTheSecrets here, but I thought Samuel Blenkin as Scorpius was charming, nerdy, and his comic timing was ‘on point’! My other favourite was probably Thomas Aldridge as the ever-lovable Ron Weasley. Rakie Ayola had poise and grace as the wonderful Hermione Granger.

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**PLOT SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ‘THE CURSED CHILD SCRIPT’**

There was magnificent use of characters facing the audience while confronted with a wondrous sight that we could not and did not need to see. There’s probably a theatrical name for it. Such as Hogwarts in the sunrise, the dragon task of the Triwizard tournament and  Harry’s heart-break as he watches Voldemort enter Godric’s Hollow on 31 October 1991.

People appearing in portraits was done with comedy but also high emotion. Dumbledore is one of my favourite fictional characters of all, and I will admit to crying several times.

There is something of community about The Cursed Child, you almost make friends with your seat neighbours as you sit beside them a second night, ‘Keep the Secrets’ badges are distributed after Part 1, and the internet surprisingly has respected this plea for no spoilers and #keepthesecrets hashtag!

A time turner is vital to the plot, and I always say Prisoner of Askaban is my favourite book because of the time travel aspect. They do this SO WELL in the play. And I suppose all this ‘Nineteen years later’ business (when the play was set. 19 years after the final Harry Potter book, THIS year actually, 1st September 2017) gives a feeling of time travel mixed with nostalgia for the fans.

I finally decided to finish writing this today, as it’s J.K Rowling and also Harry Potter’s birthday today! 31st July, 52 and 37 respectively. Happy Birthday to a woman who created a very happy magical space for me to escape to, and fictional friends for me to love, and to a boy who inspired me and kept me company for a very long time!

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On Hope

The following is a very short piece I wrote on the topic ‘hope,’ which was the theme of the Women Who Write’s February meeting. (A wonderful monthly group that started last year.) I had been despairing on the facebook page that maybe I wasn’t a woman who writes. I began to worry and run out of time and I even took to twitter to ask people what hope meant to them. I was glad to have the discussions with people, and I ended up being really emotional in a good way! Hope is one of my favourites.

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I find hope in the usual places; crossed fingers and candles for job applications, a fresh notebook, an unopened letter. First messages, meetings, coffees. Anywhere there is possibility. The new year and spring time are hope’s favourite dates in the calendar.

I’d like to deliver hope to the unusual places too.  Oh, to stand at the end of the bridge like a gatekeeper. And place a little parcel of hope in the pocket of any son or daughter who feels they can’t go on. It would warm their heart and slow their feet. It would provide just enough light to see a way through for the next few hours, until the next phone call, the next conversation. It would whisper of love, family, friends and future.

My 7-year-old brother said hope is waiting for something that you are looking forward to. My colleague said hope is not quite a wish, not a strong as a prayer, but a strong want.  My philosophical friend said somewhat pessimistically, ‘…of little use in and of itself: can be as stifling and paralysing as it can be inspiring to action. Grasped at in a void, you’ll probably take nothing more than self-delusion and disappointment from it.’ In these hopeful conversations, I heard the story of a young woman who died last year, after a battle with brain cancer which spanned her whole adult life. She somehow managed to stay positive through years of pain and setbacks. Ten years ago she named her miracle baby Hope. Now her friend says he can’t think of Hope without thinking of Emma.

In these treacherous Trump times lies are being told. You’re not good enough. You don’t belong. You can’t cope.  A foundation of faith, hope and love is vital. Of these beautiful triplets love may be the greatest, but there is a lot to be said for hope.

Another Blogiversary: 6 Years

I am proud and amazed to note that today January 27 marks the SIXTH Anniversary of this blog, Life, Lyrics and Lemon Cake. I can’t tell you the comfort and connection I have received from writing and getting feedback from my little thoughts and words. Thank you so much for reading, whether you are old or new! It’s meant so much.

I have talked about it before, but I still remember clearly the ‘launch’ of my blog in Melrose Street 2011, my second year at Queen’s University. When my housemates (and besties!) were so supportive and meticulously went through and commented on all the blog posts I had been secretly publishing.

I have never had a ‘niche’ for my topics. It’s made it harder but I just try to be honest and maybe write something that will help someone, or make them think ‘me too.’ So it can be difficult if I’m feeling a bit down or not myself. My lovely good friend Ruth mentioned that I hadn’t been blogging much lately and I voiced my fear that I didn’t want negativity to leak into my posts.  I like to be positive and helpful and I didn’t really feel up to it. I hope that can change soon! The writing sometimes helps in and of itself.

I was so inspired by female bloggers back in the day, and as a person who really wishes to WRITE blogging seemed attractive. I’m glad I did it.

My friend Aisling suggested I choose 6 significant posts. I had a little wander down memory lane. It’s strange as always to see mentions and traces of old flames, for example and I almost have the urge to purge like one does with facebook! But this is all part of my story and perhaps better to be preserved in full. Do you know I have had a few recent requests not to be written about recently too. Ooh the power!

I didn’t put too much thought into this, just trusted my gut and highlighted 6 posts that I feel proud of or are worth a mention again. Also those archives are vast! And a little scary, ha. 6 posts for 6 years!

  1. Traps 

This is an article that almost broke my rule of no ranting. But I think it’s very appropriate in this week with all the amazing feminism examples around us. Just really about not having to be nice to creeps when they have you cornered! I have linked to an excellent article by Daisy Buchanan.

2. Slow Burning: The Electric Michelangelo

I like to read, and therefore write book reviews, and this was one that really stood out last year. I still have a quote pinned to my wall. ‘But sometimes what choice have we? Life conspires to plant us in the funniest of gardens, where the trees need an especial form of tending.’ Beautiful book by Sarah Hall

3. Send Some Happy

There are actually several posts regarding one of my favourite subjects and past times, snail mail! Really enjoyed collaborating with Zoe on this.  See? The friends you make through blogging. Like minded letter writers!

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4. Josh Ritter! On Meeting Your Heroes

Hey, we couldn’t do this without mentioning THE reason for the ‘Lyrics’ in LLL? This made me smile to read how excited I was. Still so proud to be Josh’s biggest fan. I was very proud of my more recent celebration of the main man’s 40th birthday. Keep on rocking, Josh!

5. Ode to 15 Journo Students

An important time in my life, that NCTJ accredited Journalism course that I left my job for in 2013. A lot changed for me that year. I got to test out my writing skills in a different way, I drank an awful lot and I made a few firm friends.

6. Trust Your Gut

A somewhat scary, raw one for me to post. But I had to do it. Some of it maybe is too much, and things have changed a little, but this lesson was a hard one learned over many years of trying and failing to be happy within relationships. I really hope it was able to help someone!

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Are there any posts that have stood out to you? Is there anything you would like to see?

So, lets all have a slice of lemon cake and a coffee the next chance we get, and thank you sincerely from my heart to yours for your support for these 6 years. It means the world to me when people mention my blog in ‘real life’ or even old fashioned comments. And I feel better for having this little corner of the internet and a connection with you.

 

Hello 2017

Happy New Year, blog. I’m full of hope, as ever. I really like the feeling on New Year’s Eve especially, and the promise of a bright clean new year full of possibilities. Thank you so much for reading in 2016. It’s been sporadic enough, I know. Perhaps I will try not let fear hold me back in 2017. My desire/ reluctance to write is laced with fear I think. Also, I have said it before but I like that my blog is my one link to writing when there is nothing else going on.

This year I have went to a few warm, funny, gifted meetings with Women Who Write. I have done a bit of freelance feature writing with a local newspaper, got some decent blog posts in, and wrote many a letter (snail mail!) for my friends and family. There was also a lot of writing involved in my Mammy’s recent 50th birthday celebrations, which went sooo well and she loved.

Today I read and was inspired by this article on Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year.

I got a little sad before I went to party with my two best friends last night. Yes. 3 person party. It was amazing. Just basically this: that I have been stuck in a rut for a few years and EVERY new year I hope that things will start falling into place. They have not so far! But don’t get me wrong I am extremely grateful to have a job, a brilliant family, wonderful friends and a good life. And my hoping is unfazed. I have to adjust my attitude, I know. I often have the feeling that I need to DO SOMETHING but I am still figuring out what.

I have been single for almost a whole year now, which is a first for adult me. I am not sure that I have made the most of it at all, but I definitely needed this time. I’m not pining for someone, although I do talk a good deal, and I think I am comfortable being on my own for now. I joke that my bullshit detector is finally working after all these years. I think I am going to be able to work out quite quickly if someone is just not treating me with enough respect, or I can’t see it going somewhere. The way of the world is not usually the way that I roll! So it’s difficult, it is, but relationships are important to me. And playing the game is not something I’m willing to do, soz.

Well that kind of went off on a tangent, but I am glad I was able to write something, however small, to start off the year. Thanks again for reading. A very, very happy and hopeful 2017 to you.

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From The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins. 

 

 

 

P.S Look at these persoanlised blog earrings my beautiful bride to be Ruth got me for Christmas. I love them! So thoughtful. ❤

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Jimmy & Christina 11 November 2016

My wee (!)  brother Jimmy got married to the most exquisite bride I ever saw, Christina, on Friday. I know it hasn’t fully sank in yet! I had the honour of being a bridesmaid, and we had the most wonderful day.

My family is literally still on a high. It was such a blessed and genuinely happy day. It’s hard not to be totally happy for them as they have been the epitome of true love for many’s a year.

It’s been a beautiful experience. From sunrise in the gorgeous RoCo hair, giggles and the most perfect make up by Kendra. We were pampered and felt like princesses, I also feel like I have made a few new friends as we have been living in each other’s pockets this last week or so! I feel like the colours and happy memories of getting ready have been emblazoned into my mind. I really had a special, happy morning. Thank you Christina and Kendra, Clodagh and Kim at RoCo for such a great start to the big day.

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These are just wee snapshots, a bridesmaid doesn’t have much time for photos, so we will rely on Natalie Doherty photographer extraordinaire for the ceremony photos and more. I’m not doing the day justice but I just wanted to document it a little.

The ceremony was at St. Patrick’s Church Pennyburn and we were delighted that Fr. Gerard Mongan officiated. He has been a great family friend from way back when when myself, Jimmy and best man Paddy were altar servers and he was a deacon 15 years ago! He made the Mass so personal and he was so generous and funny. It all ran completely smoothly and every guest was commenting on what a beautiful mass it was. Jimmy and Christina just lit up when they saw each other and it was an absolute privilege to witness their official and spiritual union.

 

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The venue, The Redcastle Hotel and Spa is an absolute dream and I wish I could have stayed in the peaceful ocean view hotel for a week! It’s just across the border in Donegal and we got whisked there in a beautiful vintage car.

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It rained but it hardly mattered and it was such a warm and right feeling to have all your family surrounding you to help two very loved and special people commit their lives to each other. It was touching to see how much my parents enjoyed it, how proud they were and how blessed they felt. I barely have a photo here but my 7 siblings and I are a source of pride (for some reason! Ha) to my mammy and daddy and they said they preferred it to their own wedding day because we were all there this time!!

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How absolutely divine is my new sister-in-law?

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Jacob really stole the show. He danced with 18+ people (he counted in bed the next morning) and he had the time of his life. My Daddy also had a great line in his tear inducing speech ‘For 20 years until Jacob came along, it was just you and me in a house full of hormones.’ He spoke directly to Jimmy about how much he loved and was proud of him and everyone was fighting down the feels. I was actually really proud of my Daddy and his speech (although he was so nervous) was just amazing. A lady came up and called him ‘heart man’ after it. Love is the most important.

Jimmy was almost annoyed at my Daddy for nearly setting him off before his speech. Jimmy also spoke straight from the heart and got choked up when he spoke about his new beautiful, kind and intelligent wife. I have the best men folk.

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We danced the night away and some of the special requests were perfect. My parents had asked for The Obvious Child by Paul Simon as they always danced in the kitchen with the wee siblings to it. Everyone was up and it was a moment. Also the best man requested ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ by the Undertones and it was hilarious. The first dance was a Coldplay song Against the World and they were so beautiful and in love it would break your heart in the best possible way.

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If I could always look this good at 2.am!

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My room had a helicopter pad right outside. And the sea!

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The view from the honeymoon suite balcony after breakfast next morning!

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Way home 🙂

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This beautiful photo from Ann-Marie Appleton.  Looove it. 

 

So once more a huge and heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to the new Mr and Mrs Mc Callion. I love you two so much and am so very proud of you. Your wedding was a dream. Thank you for everything. So many people have been touched by this love story and this beautiful celebration. Have an unforgettable honeymoon in Mexico and New York. See you when you come home, for the next chapter.

x