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Paul & Victoria's Carbon-Footprint-Guilt Trips!


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Diary Entries

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Location: Banyan Tree at Mahe, Seychelles

just including our diary from the Seychelles...

Sunday 16th September

We were very kindly driven to Heathrow by Alan & Pat in their Bentley. You know something; it was so nice to begin the luxury before we even left the country. It was very nice of them! We said goodbye to them, crashed out in the executive lounge and waited to board our flight.

Monday 17th September

The ocean began to fill up with clouds as we got close to the Seychelles. The first island we passed - which was Bird Island (according to the map) - was bathed in sun, but the cloud banks soon began to roll in as we began our descent. I began filming our landing
as the raindrops grazed across our windows horizontally. A lady across the aisle began to point out the small, offshore islands we skirted past as we approached the runway. “That one is St. Anne’s” she said, whilst pointing to a cluster of 5 islands. I would have to guess which one she was talking about. I continued filming through the window as we unsteadily continued to reduce speed and altitude. Victoria continued her conversation with this knowledgeable lady. “You must come here quite a lot then, she enquired. “3 times a year for the last 18 years” she replied, stunning Victoria. “Wow, where do you stay?” Victoria wondered aloud. “Oh, with the captain”, she answered, cocking her head towards the front of the plane. Well, that seemed to sum up what we were in for over the next 2 weeks.

Our first terrestrial views of Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles, was reminiscent to news reports that I recall seeing from wind-tossed Caribbean islands just before hurricanes touch down. I could almost hear the news reporter, grimacing against the tumult, pointing out to sea and informing the viewers, in the comfort of their warm homes, that hurricane Hugo – or whatever this one was called – is only hours away from smashing into this idyllic paradise. We touched down in my first experience of what can only be classed as monsoonal rains. Stepping from the plane and narrowing my eyes against the surprisingly warm rain (that not so much fell from the sky but seemed to be pushed) that was blurring my first views of the nearby hills that fringed the airport, desperately trying to look past the tarmac to discover the beauty of this island. My first realisation was that it was raining heavier than I can ever remember experiencing, but, at the same time, also knowing that it was so damn hot. After 10 hours on a recycled but air- conditioned aircraft, the instant heat was a shock to the system. On top of that, the brain didn’t know why the body was starting to sweat. It was raining so therefore it must be cold, right? Wrong. It was raining on a tropical island, meaning that the humidity was close to 100% whilst the temperature lazily hovered around 30 degrees Celsius. We were walking out of a chiller cabinet and into a steam room. At least the creases will fall out of my clothes.

We left the confines of the aircraft and quickly made our way down the steps, saying goodbye to two stewardesses huddled under an oversized Air Seychelles umbrella at the bottom. After briefly feeling terra firma with each foot, we reached an ancient bus with its yawning doors beckoning us out of the downpour, which dutifully transported us across 60 metres of tarmac in the shortest bus ride imaginable. The driver didn’t even close the door. We stepped from what I can only describe as a ‘pre-war’ bus (despite not knowing which war it was built before), and ran the 5 metres to the shelter of the ‘airport’. You see, my brain knew it was an airport because firstly, we had just bumpily touched down here, and secondly, there were other planes sitting on the tarmac. However, it was not so much confusion but more a sense of a sleeplessness disorientation within me that stemmed from the fact that the building we just walked into looked like a Benidorm gift shop but, at the same time, smelled like coconut bath oil – for some reason.

After handing in our passports for inspection to a militarised-looking man in a beret, we were met by a Mason’s travel representative, who directed us firstly to what had to have been the smallest baggage carousel anywhere, and secondly us to their desk, where another chap greeted us and asked us to follow him to his car whilst another wrestled the luggage trolley from my hands. I decided to let him have it and to just hope that he is still with us when we get to the waiting car. I’m not sure about my new wife, but I was beginning to feel more and more distracted by either a heightened or reduced sense of reality. Whatever the reason, I remember walking out of the airport in a world of my own. I have often wondered why people are calmly and knowingly led to their deaths, when it would seem like the survival mechanism would be activated, but I now know why; the reality of the situation switches everything extraneous off, including most of the mind. I now know why people lazily walk in front of a firing squad. We reached the car and were not only delighted to find that it’s air-conditioned, but are also happily handed an icy cold bottle of mineral water each; both of which were a blessed relief after several minutes walking through 100% humidity, which, after all, is simply like walking through hot water but in a more diffuse form. Our driver was incredibly friendly and was chattering away about the history of the island, religion, the mayor, Chelsea Football Club, and a hundred other things - but my mind was too fragmented to care, let alone respond. Was this what a sensory overload feels like, I wondered? Is my brain being given too much information to compute, or am I just more tired than is good for me after a sleepless flight? We were passing through...well, the word ‘townships’ came to mind. We passed many houses made predominantly from corrugated iron, and saw some people walking around bare-foot in the heavy rain with banana tree leaves on their heads to shield themselves from the downpour. I remember sitting in the back of the car and wondering if this trip was going to be OK. I wondered where the hotel was, and whether there would be ‘villagers’ there walking around in the same manner. I have also seen news footage of this scenario, but the natives in those reports always carry machetes. It wasn’t a quantum leap to envisage Kalashnikovs being carried by these people. Were years and years of news footage tainting my views? There are never any news reports from such places where it’s the reporter’s sole duty to inform how beautiful the location is. That’s the domain of the holiday programming. I have never been anywhere tropical, and I’m sure I was over-dramatising. I reassured myself that the people walking through the rain were grimacing against the torrent but were otherwise very friendly and happy. It was at this point that our driver didn’t help matters at all when casually warning us not to let go of our possessions because of the ever-vigilant locals that ‘patrol’ the beaches. Great!

We began to leave the populated areas behind us as we left the coastline and began to climb higher and higher with every twist and turn of a sinuous road. With a deadly drop-off 2 feet to the left, and a sheer rock face on the right of us, I was willing him to stay on the road, but also glancing up the cliff in case any multiple-tonne boulders were about to be jarred loose by the weather. In fact, I didn’t know where to look for the better. All along the side of the road was the unmistakable evidence of boulders that had come crashing down from high above. They were strewn along the roadside every few metres or so; some of which were as large as big as the car we were now in. I was contemplating the likelihood of such an occurrence when we passed by one such boulder that seemed to be surrounded by safety glass. Was there a car underneath it? Would the driver tell me the truth is I asked him? It’s funny, I was having what can only be described as a mild panic attack as we steadily made our way up a mountain during a rainstorm on a road that had seen better days and appeared to be as wide as a disabled parking space. Our driver cheerily informed us that if a bus was coming down the mountain right now, that it wouldn’t be able to stop, and we could crash. Throwing up his arms in a ‘what will be, will be – it’s in the hands of God’ attitude, he calmly informed us that “It sometimes happens”.

The remainder of the journey was passed in silent wonder, with the echoing chatter between the driver and Victoria occasionally breaking into my inner sanctum. We reached the Banyan Tree a little while later, and my dark feelings were clearing up along with the weather. The guard at the gate emerged from a hut and moved 2 orange traffic cones out of the way so we could pass through. We drove down what must be the longest hotel drive anywhere. It was a 5 minute drive from the gate to the reception, but we didn’t make this connection until some time later because we were too busy looking at the sheer beauty either side of the car. To the left was a lagoon with villas skirting its far edge, and to the right was what seemed top be the edge of a rainforest. Dense enough to repel light from penetrating its depths, this forest began at the roadside and seemed to run indefinitely.

We meandered around the final bend on this private road and the hotel emerged through the trees and into view. We were warmly met as we climbed out of the car, and, thanking the driver, we followed the beckoning ‘bellboy’ up the stairs, through the colonial-style wooden reception building and out onto a decked veranda overlooking the bay. We were shown to slatted, wooden chairs facing out to sea, and with the sound of the crashing surf below, were given iced hand towels – infused with aniseed - and then an iced tea. The weather was improving with each passing minute, or so it seemed. John, a smiling South African (yes, there are a few), who was our first contact at the hotel, told us that we have good news and bad news and asked which we want first. The good news! We have been upgraded to a beach villa. WOW!! “And the bad news?” we wondered aloud. “There is no bad news” was his smiling response. Surely that’s a double dose of good news then? Superb.

John led us back out into the brightening sky and showed us to a pretty green golf buggy with large painted daisies on the side – our ride to the villa. It was a short ride, and the excitement within us and the exceptional beauty of our surroundings really heightened our senses. John was a great ‘villa tour guide’ but soon left us alone to open our Max Barbier champagne and work our way through an oversized fruit platter. The villa was fragranced with the same essence as the hotel, which we initially believed to be liquorice. An ambient CD was playing upon our arrival, and this, combined with the incense and the welcome message on the bed written with palm fronds, made us begin to feel very special. We knew that there was no way that we could not have a HAPPY HONEYMOON. We sat at our pool’s edge and enjoyed our champagne in our villa on our honeymoon – and just let it all sink in. This is all ours! The fruit was exotic – and unrecognisable – so even that was a surprise. The star fruit was the biggest surprise, tasting like a lemon cut into the shape of a star. OK, we realised that this would be a steep leaning curve. The champagne was delicious…but gone too soon!

We decided to get the hardest job - that we will have to face over the next two weeks - out of the way; unpacking. Even this wasn’t an unpleasant occurrence due to the walk in wardrobe amidst amazing surroundings. The lagoon outside the window was the one we passed earlier. We must be in one of those villas we saw on the other side of the lagoon then, getting my bearings after such a tortuous journey. We unpacked, changed into ‘beach clothes’ and then went to explore our beach. The sun was emerging intermittently from the clouds as we walked down the most beautiful beach in the world. Hand in hand we walked through the surf, and then I was knocked over by a large wave. Victoria saw it coming and was faster than me. That’s the last time I wear a vest on the beach – now I have to carry it. Victoria had donned a long, flowing top over her bikini, which was adaptable. We walked as far as we could, turning back at an impenetrable mass of boulders - that littered the far edge of the beach, - that looked to have fallen from the cliff-edge high above. OK, let’s not think about that. We picked up shells and anything else that we could take home, even a couple of pieces of pumice stone. We got back to out villa and laid around on the beach loungers, simply taking in the beauty of where we were. I ventured into the sea - how could I not? – but was battered as the waves tossed me about. I remember getting thrown against, and rubbed along, the sand. It was only later that I found the scuffed shins and the 2 gouges out of my left calf. I also kept pulling sand out of my ears with my little fingernail for the remainder of the day. Hey, it was worth it.

We soaked in the Jacuzzi, swam in the pool, listened to music, had a steam shower, and lay around enjoying our new life. With the setting sun to the west, the temperature seemed to rise – not fall. We were being spoilt by air conditioning everywhere, and it was Victoria’s idea to help ourselves acclimatise be eating outside at the restaurant - a Thai place called Saffron - sounds perfect! The surroundings were beautiful, and we ordered 2 different versions of Thai curries. The food was fantastic but I’m afraid that I was bitten quite a few times by mosquitoes, despite the mosquito coil merrily burning away under our table. Because it was dark and cosy outside, it was impossible to see the little buggers as they landed on me. The crashing of the surf below also meant that there was no accompanying tell-tale high-pitched hum. In fact, it was the perfect hang out for mosquitoes! Victoria felt guilty for suggesting that we ate outside but she had no need to be. It was really nice to sit there and hear the crashing waves below us. It’s just that mosquitoes love me. I must admit, I did get a little moody, but I was itching in several places at once and couldn’t concentrate on the beauty about the situation, especially because my new wife in front of me never gets bitten for some reason. Besides, I think I had malaria clouding my judgement on that first day. As well as that, it was so damn hot. It was such a strange feeling to be sweating profusely at night whilst an onshore breeze lazily blew around the colonial veranda. We went back to the villa after wonderful meals and slipped into something more comfortable – our cool pool, swimming around naked and giving the villa’s air conditioning time to chill down the room, which had warmed up whilst we were out. Bliss. With the air conditioning quietly buzzing away, and with the temperature set to a comfortable, and comparatively chilly, 24 degrees, we each had an amazing sleep.

Tuesday 18th September

We were awoken by one of the in-villa dining waiters setting breakfast up for us on the terrace at 10 o’clock. I vaguely remember ordering as much breakfast as we could late last night. Oops – I think we ordered too much. Lovely food though. Amazing surroundings. 2 miniature pigeons ambled between the table and chairs - and between our legs - but wouldn’t eat any of the fruit we offered them. They were funny little things, preferring to walk than fly. The temperature seemed to already be in the high twenties even though it was still morning, so we wandered up to the blissfully air conditioned gift shop prior to going to the spa for our massages that Victoria had thoughtfully, pre-booked months ago. We were taken up to the spa in one of the funky golf buggies, which was a relief because the walk up the hill would have killed us, and were blown away by its surroundings. After being shown to our seat overlooking Anse Intendance (Intendance beach – our beach) and the inland mountains, we were given iced rosella tea as we sat in reception and absorbed the views. So refreshing! It was whilst drinking this that the receptionist – Tretsy – knelt between us and showed us the ‘menu’ and asked which massage type we would prefer, how much pressure we like, which ‘flavour’ exfoliation scrub, and whether we would like oils to be used. I chose a salt scrub followed by a Balinese massage with firm pressure, whilst Victoria chose an apple & green tea scrub followed by a gentle Island Dew massage. We were then led up steps cut into the mountainside. Passing along narrow paths cut between ancient granite goliaths, we arrived at our massage pavilion, where we were treated to a couple of hours of indescribable opulence. We had hot ginger tea & segmented oranges waiting for us upon completion of the massages, where we sat in our robes in an open-air room on the top of a hill, looking out at paradise and waiting for our senses to realign themselves. We were then led back down the hill and taken back to our villa in a golf buggy, where we ‘chilled’ for a while. We ‘played’ on the pristine beach, making a circular sand castle; borrowing a mug from the villa to make the abutments. We even placed a ring of coconuts around it – just for effect, not function. This surely was the colonial English coming out in us. We had taken the beach and now we were making defences. Any passing Germans would be envious. We thought we could lay and watch the sea inundate it later on at high tide, but had to wait longer than we thought for its breaches to be burst. Later on we went for another foraging beach walk, where I took the 35mm camera and snapped away. Victoria wrote ‘Paul & Victoria 2007’ in the sand. We found a ‘surfer’ coconut, with a blonde, windswept fringe, which we just had to take back to the villa because we couldn’t let an opportunity to dress up a coconut pass by. We got back and I went for a crash about in the sea – which scared the shit out of me today as I was being pulled out to sea faster than I could swim ashore. With the long-shore drift of the waves, I eventually made it ashore but way down the beach, in front of one guy laying on his lounger and who had obviously been watching me. “You survived then?” he joked. It was only then that I realised that the sea was maybe a little too rough to swim in anymore today. We had lunch - leftover fruit from this morning that we had hidden in the fridge - and then cleaned up and got ready to go for a cocktail before dinner. We went through the cocktail menu and I decided upon a Mai Tai to start, and then had ‘The Dude’ because of The Big Lebowski connection. Victoria had White Russians. We then went down to dinner at Le Jardin D’Espice, which turned out to be a 6 course heaven. After an appetiser we had crab with avocado & gazpacho; scallops in artichoke soup; tagliatelli with parmesan & pesto; I then had sailfish with steamed vegetables whilst Victoria had captain blanc (a white fish) with the best mash in the world. It really was. I was also blown away by the sailfish. It was too delicious, especially for a vegetarian who misses eating meat, because it was exactly like eating steak. We then had orange parfait with strawberries to finish and then waddled to the bar for more cocktails. I tried a Pina Colada and Victoria stuck to her White Russian. We called Alan & Pat (who were being rained on in Menorca) and told them that it was strange to be in such a beautiful place without them. We made our way back to the villa (easier said than done after 3 cocktails and 6 courses), grabbed the camcorder and went back to the hotel, where we took some night shots. Cooling off in the pool before bed, where we slept like babies. We both slept as soon as the light went off and stayed that way until morning.

Wednesday 19th September

We were woken up with breakfast again – bummer huh? It was raining really hard but in a nice way. The little birds continued to hang around us during breakfast. I wonder what they want. We tried them with smoked salmon this morning. No. Nothing more than a cursory peck. “Still not hungry?” Maybe we could try them with a little bit of bread? OH MY GOD! It’s bread that they want. Cool. At least now we know. We broke some break up for them next to the table, which kept them busy until our breakfast was over. The weather cleared up quicker than I thought possible, so we went for an after-breakfast walk up and down the beach, which has to be at least half a mile each way. I Tried going in the sea which was so exhilarating, despite the waves having a lot of force behind them. We decided to get a taxi ride to the craft village, where our taxi driver told us that he could come back to get us in an hour. Each ‘house’ in the village was a little craft centre in itself, where the people within were busily whittling turtles or love-nuts from wood, printing t-shirts, making model ships, or a hundred other things. Victoria thought about presents for people; little wooden boxes, soap fishes, little t-shirts etc. We then walked around the old plantation house, which is now a time-capsule of a museum, and had a drink in its café whilst waiting for the taxi driver to come and take us back. I had a beer called an Eku, which was icy cold and very good, reminding me of the time I would have a lemonade shandy when I was young. It looked like it may rain again but the weather was on our side and the sun came out with a vengeance. After arriving back at the villa and changing, we went to the beach loungers and lay there in the sun, sporadically cooling off with a swim. I noticed today that my sandblasting is really shining up my jewellery. After getting cleaned up we went for a cocktail (I had an Atlantis whilst Victoria stuck to her usual) and then ordered a buggy to the third and final restaurant in the hotel because we didn’t know were it was. Chez L’Amar was a Creole restaurant located next to the lagoon that we are adjacent to, but further down the beach. We sat outside but I asked for some citronella spray and so was fine. Victoria had better watch out because now that the mosquitoes can’t bite me, they may have to go in her direction to get a meal. She still refused the spray though. Oh well. There were only us and 2 other couples at the restaurant, but we were entertained for about 30 minutes by 2 male and 2 female ‘Creole’ dancers, who were close enough to pick a prawn off my plate. It was here that we noticed that we could have fruit bat curry! Not nice. They adapted the set menu a little for us because we wouldn’t eat a fruit bat, meaning that we had more of the things that we could eat. It was a really nice experience. Returning to our villa once more - always such a pleasure - we stripped and slipped into a luxuriously cool pool; partaking in a little night swimming before bed again.

Thursday 20th September

We decided that we should try going to the restaurant for breakfast this morning – just to see if we’re missing anything. I was wondering if there was a pile of smoked salmon I could tuck into. It wasn’t too bad really, but Americans love the sound of their own voice and monopolised the gathering. To be honest, eating communally during the day made us feel less alone and more surrounded by other people who may also be on honeymoon. It was so much better when it felt like it was just us here in this paradise. After breakfast we went for another beach walk and saw an arch in the sand that was covered in palm fronts and flowers. Realising that a couple was about to be married, we went back to out beach chairs, as the arch was only about 200 metres away. We watched the couple get married, but were left feeling empty because there were only 2 or 3 people there to see them make their life-changing vows. They had a beautiful day though. We sat and chilled and read, occasionally dipping into the water to cool off. We flicked through the in-villa dining menu and decided to order a pizza each and chips to share. Food of the Gods. We just loved doing nothing all day. Later on we got ready for another joint massage in the early evening. I had another Balinese massage whilst Victoria had another Island Dew gentle massage. Absolutely amazing. Better than the first one. Incredible. We were both blown away. Sipping hot ginger tea afterwards and feeling amazing, we dressed and went down to the cocktail bar. Finding comfy chairs facing the night breeze coming off the ocean, we ordered cocktails. I had a Long Island Iced Tea and Victoria had her White Russian. What a perfect way to come down from a massage high. Feeling the alcohol a little more than was good for us, we linked arms and made our way back down the incline to our villa (passing the occasional buggy and terrifying the driver as we loomed out of the darkness) and swam together again until our bodies were cooled, and then retired to the privacy of an air-conditioned, mosquito-screened, 5star villa. We drifted off to sleep whilst listening to the soft crash of waves that were formed a continent away and have now made it to the beach outside, where their energy is finally released.

Friday 21st September

We were woken up with breakfast again – a routine that I can easily get used to. It wasn’t too hot today, and being overcast we decided to go to the capital – also called Victoria. The idea behind it was that we could walk around without getting burnt. We asked for a taxi at reception and got a really nice taxi driver, who talked and talked and showed us the scenic route to Victoria – up the west coast (stopping off to get shots of the Plantation Club, BBC Indian Ocean Relay Station, a rock in the shape of a pig, a waterfall, and a view down to Victoria) cutting inland in the north, over the mountains, and down to the old colonial capital. He was an excellent tour guide, and dropped us off, at Victoria’s request, at The Pirate’s Arms restaurant. He said he would pick us up in a couple of hours – and didn’t even want paying until then. We ate in the restaurant and then walked around the town for an hour, shopping and sight seeing. He took us back to the Banyan Tree down the east coast (meaning that we had now circumnavigated the island by car), and again being the perfect tour guide. I continued to film out of the window on the way back. We got back to the villa and swam, read and laid around. It was so nice to lay around and order food for dinner. Pizzas and chips next to the pool again. Perfect!

Saturday 22nd September

We were awoken with breakfast again on this amazingly beautifully sunny morning. Late last night, we had rang the ‘in-villa dining’ boys and ordered a slightly different breakfast than usual for this morning – vanilla pancakes with sweet cream & maple syrup, fruit cocktail, fruit platter, yogurt, bread, pain au chocolate, croissants etc. Afterwards, we sunbathed and messed around in the pool; enjoying such a beautiful day. We had to keep dipping into the pool because of the temperature…not that that was a hardship. We lazily ate fruit for lunch (remnants of breakfast again) and totally enjoyed doing nothing other than being together in paradise. However, when discovering that some bastard had stolen our sand-castle coconuts, we didn’t feel aggrieved…but we couldn’t help wonder who would do such a thing – and why? I didn’t realise there were any Germans staying here. The territory-stealing motherf….anyway, doesn’t matter. We received a memo from the food & beverages manager telling us about a seafood experience in Le Jardin D’Espice on this very evening, which seemed too good to miss. I make it sound like it was a personal invitation, but we presume that everybody got one. It’s not as if we’ve been invited to sit on the captain’s table. Hey, seafood is seafood so we just had to go. The food was unbelievable. No, really. The seafood paella was wonderful, with yellow rice surrounding king prawns, scallops, mussels & clams. We were talking to one of the waitresses about cocktails. I asked her what her favourite is, to which she responded ‘Silhouette’ which is named after one of the Seychelles islands. She said that she tasted it when she worked for the Plantation Club. She then went off and we could see her on the phone. She reappeared, telling us that she’s just rang the Plantation Club (which is almost as nice as the Banyan Tree, we hear, and held the Miss World contest in 1997 and 1999) to find out what ingredients went into it. She then rang upstairs to the cocktail bar here and gave the ingredients to Indika (one of the barmen) so he can make it for me later on. Wow. Good huh? We went to the cocktail bar (we haven’t mentioned that its name is La Varangue yet) and I had one. Really nice. I then asked Indika what his favourite was, to which he replied “A Creola”, so I had one of those too. It was pale blue and very nice. I think that this is the genesis of Indika’s spirit of adventure later on in the honeymoon. Keep reading. We went back to the villa, took a dip in the pool and then we went for a really nice midnight beach walk. We came across a hermit crab on the way back, which Victoria nonchalantly almost tread on. I didn’t see the crab itself; just the shell. But it had to be a hermit crab because there was no other way for such a large snail shell to get 10 feet from our pool. We enjoyed filming him before putting him at the water’s edge and hoping that he will be OK. We later came to the conclusion that he was looking for a larger shell for a home. He was a very snug fit into the one he had. He probably spent the whole evening walking up the wide beach, for us to come across him and take him back down to the shoreline. Oh well.

Sunday 23rd September

It was the same old routine with waking up to a prepared breakfast table. The birds were really getting the hang of this 10:00am breakfast thing. Wow, it was really hot again today, even this early in the morning and under the shade of the awning. We sunbathed and swam for a few hours after breakfast and then went to the spa for 1pm, where we had treatments booked. I decided to have a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, where the therapist uses her elbows too. Victoria had her gentle one. 90 minutes of bliss. It really sorted my muscles out – not that they needed sorting out. Back at the villa I spent a couple of hours in the pool whilst Victoria read in the shade. We then went for another beach walk and a forage. We found nice pieces of coral that were washed up on the beach at some point. We also found a coconut without its large husk on it, so I brought it back to the villa, corkscrewed a hole into it and went to drink its contents. It was vile. I almost threw up – with Victoria laughing and holding the camcorder, I might add. Just like her dad. We chilled out for a couple of hours until it was time for our romantic moonlight dinner, courtesy of the Banyan Tree. Janath and Danuska came to our villa and set out our terrace table with fresh flowers and candles and then went to get the appetisers and the first course. We had a £95.00 bottle of Roederer champagne with our meal – which was unfortunately not part of the complimentary meal. I’m not just saying this because of the price, but it was totally amazing! We had cold melon soup to start, which was a lot nicer than it sounds. We then had a beautiful asparagus salad with a French vinaigrette dressing. They then got back in their buggy and went to get the next course. They came back with an unspeakably delicious pumpkin ravioli (which I promised myself that I would eat again before we leave) for our main course. They then went off again and came back with our desserts. We had crème bruleé with a brandy snap and ice cream (Victoria had vanilla whilst I had coconut chilli). They also brought us a complimentary drink from the bar manager – which was not part of the package either! Bonus. It was crème de coco de mer. Cream of the love nut. Delicious. The whole evening was perfect. Topped off by a moonlight walk (we were both quite ‘merry’) and a little swim before bed.

Monday 24th September

Our ‘alarm clock’ rang our doorbell and set up the table with food for us and our little birds. It was a 10.15am delivery slot today, and they were sitting down in their feeding spot actually waiting for us. Cheeky! We had a little swim and then went to reception to organise a chopper ride for 3:00pm today. We wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to become cloudy before we did it. The ride wouldn’t be as good if it was overcast. WE came back and I swam in the sea – this time it was just beautiful. We panicked a little around lunch time when it began to rain, but it just as soon cleared up. We were excitedly picked up at 3pm and taken to the helipad, where it was waiting for us. Up, up and away. We can’t begin to say how wonderful it was. Simple as that. We did, however see a ray and a whale shark, and the pilot saw a big turtle and banked around to see him again but he had disappeared. A truly enlightening experience. We were driven back to the villa and it took us some time to stop talking about it. We sat on the beach loungers and watched the sun slowly sing behind the hills. Victoria crafted a heart – with our initials in it – from nuts, cones & berries. We then got ready and went for the ‘orientation’ thing (a ‘getting to know each other’ thing for all the guests). The only thing is, we’re not really interested in getting to know the other guests. We prefer real people. In fact, we should have gone to this last Thursday but couldn’t be bothered or forgot about it or something. We went there and found the most interesting person there to be a miniature replica boat builder. He was so interesting, as well as knowledgeable. He was talking about the history of slavery and the ships that were used and how the Seychelles people came to be. He had 3 ships with him, and he was explaining that he takes between 250 and 1000 hours to build them. Incredible. We had complimentary champagne too, so it was a really nice time. We then parked ourselves in a corner and had cocktails before dinner – Pina Colada. We then had a mint shisha after the meal, accompanied by another cocktail each – Creola for me. Wow, we’re really putting them away! Haha. We got back to the villa later on to discover that it hadn’t been made up – which meant no little present on the bed. We had to call reception for towels too. It wasn’t worth getting someone in trouble about it though.

Tuesday 25th September

Same routine. We hung around the villa all day enjoying the sun. We met the new neighbours; they seem cool. They were having a great time in the pool – laughing and joking – and I called out in a really bad Seychellois accent “Dis is da otel. You are aving too much fun” and then it went quiet. I called out that I was just joking but I think they’d gone in. Oops. I saw them later on walking on the beach and I explained, but they said they hadn’t heard anything. Hhmm. I’m not so sure. We got ready for our meal at the Thai restaurant, but there was a mix up when we got there. The reservation hadn’t gone through, despite Andy calling us back at the villa earlier that day to let us know that everything’s OK. To add to this, there were no vacant tables, so we couldn’t eat. We told reception about it (well, Victoria did) and they made some calls to find out what had gone wrong. The guy on reception then called the manager. We said it’s OK but he said that it’s policy. He came down to see us and explained how sorry he was. We told him that it’s fine and that we’ll grab some food at the cocktail bar, as we often do anyway. Erwan seemed like a really nice guy, despite being French. It’s a hell of an obstacle to overcome! We had a really casual time eating there, chatting with Steve, the French barman, and Phylis, a waitress from downstairs. She must think that we’re crazy. For some reason we were talking about fruit bat hats – blame Victoria. She said that she’s working in the restaurant downstairs tomorrow night, and will we come down to see her. Yes. Cool. We now know where we’re eating tomorrow. I had a couple of coco de mer liqueurs and then we went back to the villa, cooled down with a swim and then went to bed

Wednesday 26th September

We had breakfast with the birdies again. It was an overcast day with the occasional shower, which is great because we need a break from the sun. Well, I do anyway. My nose is red and I am very, very dark. This was a good day to go for our massage lesson at 1:00pm. We went up to the massage room and got dressed into our ‘oriental pyjamas’ and Nice (the therapist Victoria prefers – I prefer Chalee) then spent the best part of an hour teaching us how to do a neck, shoulder and back massage. We practiced on each other and then went back to the villa and Victoria wrote it up for future reference. We continued to practice on each other in the pavilion at the villa. We played CDs, read, swam, and I hopped between the steam room and the Jacuzzi. We got ready for Le Jardin D’Espice. I had my pumpkin ravioli to start. I just had to. Victoria had scallops. We both had the sailfish for our main course – we just had to. Beautiful. We were laughing and joking with the waitresses – again. Erwan (the manager) came over and had a chat with us for quite a while. Phylis came over and let us know that she had something for us on Saturday. What could it be? Was it about the fruit bat conversation? Or the coco de mer liqueur conversation? (when I asked for one she thought I wanted her to give me an actual coco de mer in a glass. She really thought we were crazy! I wonder what it is. We would have to wait and see. Another amazing meal. Went to the cocktail and had cocktails – and also told Steve that his taste in music was crap and made me want to go home. He ended up showing me his CD collection behind the car. Belgian Jazz, Berlin Jazz Lounge II etc. It was so funny. We happily walked back and had a swim before bed, but not before us telling Steve that we will bring some cool music tomorrow.

Thursday 27th September

Waking up and once more looking out at the ocean, we witnessed another beautiful day, although it looked like it was going to be especially hot, seeing as we were sweating at 10:00am. After breakfast we went to the beautifully air-conditioned shop (especially after the uphill walk from the villa) to buy presents and then just hung around the villa all day doing hanging-out-at-the-villa stuff. The sun blissfully set on this day and we got ready for the ‘Sundowner’ evening to meet both guests and management. We took the Zero 7 CD for Steve the barman to see what he thinks of it. It’s his day off today but he’ll get it tomorrow. We met another manager – an Indian one – and gave him a lot of feedback about the staff and the place as a whole. We then went to the Thai restaurant for a seafood buffet extravaganza! Amazing. We slavered over king prawns, lobster, king fish, seafood soup, king prawn dim sum, stir fried vegetables, and noodles. I had a starter (main course sized) and then 2 main courses (both large). Victoria was more restrained, just having a starter and a main. We finished with crème bruleé and a chocolate mouse. Perfect. We then went to the cocktail bar and two White Russians each. Does it get any better than this?

Friday 28th September

Another lovely day but I stayed out of it as I’m being mistaken for a native. Victoria spent a short period in it though. We enjoyed each other’s company until late afternoon. She then went for a foot treatment whilst I got one of the hotel’s mountain bikes and went mad going up and down all the hills for a couple of hours. I left the grounds of the hotel and went quite a long way up a massive hill that almost killed me. It was great coming down though, although I had to have my brakes on all the way, and still almost got side swiped by a bus coming up the hill. Well, not really, but the thought was still in my head from what the taxi driver was saying 10 days ago. I took the camera with me and snapped some nice shots. Went back to the villa, swam to cool off and then went up to the spa to see Victoria, who had just had the foot treatment of a lifetime. She was delighted. We went back, got changed and then went to the cocktail bar. I had a Pina Colada, pizza & chips whilst Victoria had a toasted sandwich & chips with a White Russian. Nice. We then went back to the villa and packed almost everything because it’s checking out time tomorrow. Shit! Already? With that hassle out of the way we went back to the cocktail bar. Indika said that he would make us a ‘special last night of honeymoon’ cocktail called Lovers’ Paradise. Very nice. It was made with Bailey’s, vodka and something else. He asked if we wanted another of his favourites? Of course. Bring them on. I don’t think it had a name ( because we think he invented it) but it was made with Bailey’s, kalhua and cream. Very tasty. He began to be in his element here and - I don’t think he’s been this happy bartending for years - made one that consisted of amaretto, tia maria and ice cream. OK, it was gorgeous. Erwan came over and was chatting to us, and asked us what we were drinking. We had to admit that we had no idea. We told him Indika made it for us. He called to Indika and asked for one. We think it was at this point that Indika started to panic. “Oh shit, the manager now wants one – I hope he likes it”. What another great night. Steve also liked the Zero 7 CD. We met the in-villa dining guys on the way back to the villa. They were driving past us and stopped the buggy and we stood there talking for ages. They were causing an obstruction in the pathway with their buggy; forcing other buggies to carefully go around theirs. It was funny because we were all standing around in the dark and then the security guy came over with his old German shepherd, who looked like she just wanted to lie down. We wrote out the questionnaire, ate fruit and yogurt and then went to sleep.

Saturday 29th September

Going home day today. We ordered breakfast for 9:00am because we didn’t want to be full of food at 12:00pm, when we have a 3 hour treatment booked. We fed the little birdies for the last time – but we had told the in-villa dining guys (and reception) to tell the new occupants of villa 104 to make sure that the miniature pigeons are fed at 10:00am every morning. We packed the last of our belongings into the suitcases and then ordered a buggy, which took us and our stuff up to reception. We told the guy that we will need a suitcase and a room to change in after our treatments. We tried to go up the stairs but the whole length was blocked by a row of strange looking people with some kind of attitude. They had that ‘Bosnian orphanage’ look about them. We later found out that they were Israelis – and descended en masse on the resteraunt and demanded to be seated together at every meal, which was an impossibility unless they had the Peter Sellers Conference Room, which was above the Thai restaurant, which they refused – because it was the perfect solution, it seemed. We waited for a buggy to take us up to the spa for our final treatment but there were none available. I think they were ordered to take 13 Jews - in a painted-daisy convoy - to their villas. We couldn’t wait any longer and so had to walk to the spa up that killer hill. Sweating down your legs and panting like an asthmatic is not the ideal way to begin a 3 hour treatment. We made it and was given extra time to cool down - with the rosella tea – and then everything was OK. We were taken up to the therapy room where we got changed into our robes. The difference this time was that we were led down the final wooden staircase (that we had only just ascended) into another room, where we were then laid on tables. We were then scrubbed by an orange, yogurt and sugar mix. We lay there as this mix was ‘rain showered’ off us. Honey was then smeared all over us, and then warm milk was poured over that. It felt wonderful. We were then left there at the room became a steam room. We steamed for 15 minutes and were then rain showered clean whilst lying down. The saturated mini towel covering my bum was whipped away and a dry one put in its place. I can only hope that her professionalism extended to looking away. We then stood up and showered the last of the concoction off us (my groin was covered in bits or arrange) and then went upstairs to the massage room. I decided upon a Swedish massage whilst Victoria had the Island Dew again. We were so blissed out, and were actually drifting in and out of consciousness during it. We said goodbye to the therapists and went down to reception, where we were given a day room to shower and change in. From there we ate in the cocktail bar and had a few cocktails until it came time for our transfer to take us to the airport. Erwan knew what time we were leaving and came over to us to say goodbye. He told us what a nightmare the Israelis were being. He led us out and down the steps, where he shook our hands, gave us he card and told us to let him know if we’re coming again. What a place. A 35 minute ride later and we were at the airport. The check-in desks were on the street. It looked like a railway station. People got out of their cars and checked in within 10 paces. From there we didn’t expect an executive lounge – but were amazed to find a fantastic one. With its luxurious food & drink, it was a pleasure to kill time there drinking champagne and eating canapés until our flight was called. Well, that’s that! the end of an adventure. All that's left now is to sleep on the plane and awaken in London. God, it's going to be cold!

Sunday 30th September

We were picked up early Sunday morning from Heathrow by our chauffeur in a silver Mercedes and driven in style back home. That wasn’t the end of our adventure though; we still had so many presents to open, cards continued to arrived in the post, including thank you cards, we had photos to look at and choose, a wedding DVD to wait for etc. We also had a married life to live.

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