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Free

Winter/Spring 2014 www.whispersfromtheheart.co.uk

Whispers rom the heart f

WIN

a signed copy of the latest books from Emylia Hall and Milly Johnson

Honey honey

The £6 beauty miracle in your kitchen cupboard

28

The A-Z of love

romantic gift ideas

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Travel

FASHION

Make your first Valentine’s Day as a newlywed the best ever! ●

REAL LIFE COUPLES

HOMES and DIY 1


Meet our brilliant

COntributors This issue, we asked our lovely team to share the most romantic gestures they’ve been lucky enough to receive

Stephanie Maskery

Nicole Mooney

A writer and editor at a number of magazines, Helen talks to three couples about the challenges of career changes (p27). “My now-husband whisked me away on a trip to Barcelona and then took my breath away by proposing in a rooftop pool!”

Art editor at Cross Stitch Crazy, Stephanie’s enthusiasm and creative spirit made her the perfect choice for designing the front cover for our very first issue. “I was once left a treasure hunt of clues that day by day led my to my hidden Valentine’s present!”

Digital designer at Immediate Media and owner of Craft Birds Jewellery, Nicole is responsible for Whispers’ page layouts. “While in a long distance relationship, my boyfriend surprised me one weekend with a champagne and strawberries breakfast.”

Julian Willmott

Yvette Streeter

Kirsten Butler

With his natural and relaxed style, photographer Julian loves capturing special candid moments, as shown in our lovely front cover image. “I surprised my wife with a romantic trip to Venice for her 40th birthday – a place she had always wanted to visit.”

As the editor of Your Handmade Home, Yvette loves trying her hand at crafts projects. She shows you how to make cute cards for your loved one (p26). “The most romantic thing Phil has done is to still be in love with me after everything I put him through!”

Award winning stylist Kirsten shares tips on styling your home using pieces from your wedding day (p30). “My six year old daughter wrote out 40 things she loved about me for my 40th birthday. I still look through them now and it always brings a tear to my eye.”

Helen Dorritt

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Editor’s Letter

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t last! I’m so excited to bring you the much anticipated Whispers from the Heart magazine! I have truly loved working with our team of brilliant contributors for the past few months creating all of its content. It’s been a real pleasure to work with writers, editors, stylists, photographers and real couples to create a magazine dedicated to you – newlywed couples! Our first issue is in honour of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day, and is packed with gorgeous gift ideas (page 24) and creative ways to celebrate love while keeping the costs down (page 22). Also, don’t miss out on the chance to make your own special card for your sweetheart (page 26). I’m still starstruck from meeting writer Emylia Hall, whose book took me skiing in the snowy Alps (page 19). Continuing the travel theme, on page 16 we find out about a honeymoon in Malaysia, and on page 34 we fall in love with the magic of Montenegro. Closer to home, stylist Kirsten Butler brings you ways to incorporate your favourite wedding items in your house (page 30). And to help you look and feel amazing this season, our beauty feature on page 10 focuses on the benefits of honey - one of nature’s from the heart gifts to us! Win

WHispers I’m on the cover! Free

www.whispersfromtheheart.co.uk

a signed copy of the latest books from Emylia Hall and Milly Johnson

Gianina

Honey Honey

The £6 beauty miracle in your kitchen cupboard

Editor

28

The A-Z of love

romantic gift ideas

+

Copyright © Whispers from the Heart 2013

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WIN! 2 copies

to give away!

TraVEl

FaSHION

Make your first Valentine’s Day as a newlywed the best ever! ●

rEal lIFE COUPlES

HOMES aND DIY

Whispers from the Heart is a magazine about and for real newlywed couples, just like my husband and me. The inspiration behind it was our own wedding and every day since then, filled with love, laughter and memorable times. Get in touch if you would like to feature on the cover of our next issue!

A signed copy of the latest novels from our two chosen writers - Emylia Hall’s A Heart Bent out of Shape and Milly Johnson’s It’s Raining Men.

For a chance to win, go to our website, www.whispersfromtheheart. co.uk, and leave a comment on about your favourite article from this issue. The deadline for entries is 14th March 2014 and the winners will be announced on the 26th March.

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30

COntents

34

Features

A-Z of married bliss.......................................................5 Interview with Emylia Hall....................................19 Valentine’s on a budget....................................22 Gifts for your loved one......................................24 Make your own Valentine’s card..............26 Love and careers......................................................27 Book reviews...................................................................40 Last word.............................................................................41

Beauty

Honey, bee beautiful!............................................10 Top beauty buys........................................................13

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Fashion

Spread the love..........................................................14 Striped season..............................................................15

Travel

Real honeymoons......................................................16 Discover Montenegro...........................................34

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19

Home

Homestyle............................................................................30 Romantic home decor..........................................33


Romance

AZ

photos: freedigitalphotos.net

to

of Happily Ever After

Keep the spark in your relationship, long after the confetti’s settled, with lots of fun, love and kisses – that’s the joy of being newlyweds! 5


Romance

A...

is for Anniversaries Surprise each other with romantic gestures and sit down to look through your wedding album on your anniversary. Pop the champagne as you re-live wonderful moments from your special day.

C... b... e... D... F... is for Colours

photos: freedigitalphotos.net

is for Birthdays

Think breakfast in bed, beautifully wrapped presents and being inundated with love and kisses. Birthdays are even more special when you share them with your husband or wife.

Go for bright colours and quirky touches when you decorate your new house. Bring together your personalities to create the perfect love nest you call ‘home’.

is for Elope

Escape the routine of normal life with a romantic getaway. Whether you visit a European city or go for a quiet countryside cottage, take all you need in a small suitcase, and don’t forget your passport and your sense of adventure!

is for Dirty Dancing

Eyes twinkling with love and hands connected – does this sound like your first dance on your wedding day? You can now have ‘the time of your life’ in your livingroom, whenever you hear your favourite tunes.

is for Fitness

A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and healthy meals will make you look great and feel happy. Choose a sport you both enjoy, such as tennis, swimming or cycling, and have fun competing against each other.

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G... is for Gadgets

With smartphones, tablets and a whole world of apps, it’s now easier than ever to book days out or try your hand on a new skill. You can also connect and catch up through Facetime or Skype when your partner’s away for the day.

I...

is for In-laws Get to know your in-laws and keep them on your side – your spouse will appreciate your support. Remember birthdays and always be polite, no matter how hard it may seem sometimes.

k...

h...

is for Home Getting back to a warm, cosy home is just what you need after a tough day at work. Light a few candles, pour a glass of wine and enjoy some quality time together in your own little sanctuary.

J...

is for Joint Decisions Whether you agree on simple routines or plan ahead for the future, talk it through with your loved one and listen to each other’s opinion. Two heads are better than one!

is for Kids

Decide early on in your marriage when or if you want to start a family. Little ones, as well as pets, will make your marital unit stronger but also add extra challenges and responsibilities.

L...

is for Laughter Humour is a key ingredient in your relationship as it keeps you feeling playful and cheeky. Start each day with a smile and a kiss, and don’t let worries get in the way of sharing a good joke.

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Romance

n... M... O... is for Needs

is for Money

Set up a joint account that you can use for monthly bills and then keep the rest of your income into separate accounts, which you can dip into to treat yourselves.

Find the right balance between putting each other’s needs first and keeping a degree of independence.

is for Opinion As husband and wife, you must agree to disagree on certain occasions and respect each other’s point of view. If you listen and try to understand each other’s view, you will find a way to meet in the middle.

p... Q...

is for Passion

Share your personal interests and passions, and make it your mission to celebrate every success and milestone in your career and personal life.

R... s...

is for Respect

photos: freedigitalphotos.net, sxc

Take the first steps into married life with love, trust and respect for each other, and be prepared for challenges along the way - even Shrek and Fiona had some obstacles to overcome!

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t...

is for Team You’ve been an item for a while so you finish each other’s sentences and share jokes that no one else understands. As husband and wife, you form a special team, based on strong mutual friendship, love and trust.

is for Spontaneity Surprise your partner with a romantic gesture every now and then. Whether you present them with a restaurant invitation or whisk them away for the weekend, you’ll spend some much needed quality time together.

is for Quiet

Forget about jogging or playing football in the cold on a Saturday. Instead enjoy a lazy day together - curl up on the sofa and watch DVDs while eating popcorn and ice-cream in your PJs.


W...

U...

is for Words

is for Unique

As a couple, you love and appreciate each other’s individuality. Choose a lifestyle that suits your personalities rather than trying to copy celebrities or friends.

You don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to write your partner a love note. Say ‘I love you’ every day and drop them a message that says what you love about each other.

v...

is for Vibrant Try out new activities and exciting adventures to spice up the weekly routine. Keep your relationship fresh and fun!

x...

is for extra Attention When your spouse is feeling poorly, give them lots of eXtra care and affection, and be there with a box of tissues and plenty of kisses.

Y...

is for Your Own Space Being newlyweds doesn’t necessarily mean spending every spare minute together. Make time to be on your own or meet up with friends while your partner does something he/she enjoys.

z...

is for Zoom in... on those aspects that matter to you the most. Pause to take it all in and enjoy the moment. It’s easy to get swept away by the mad rush to the next step in your career or personal life, just stop and acknowledge where you are!

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Beauty

1

Sweet treatS

Spread some honey onto waffles or toast for breakfast, drizzle it on cereal or porridge, or add it to a banana smoothie for extra sweetness. When it comes to deserts, this golden syrup of the bees is also a delicious alternative to sugar in biscuit and cake recipes, or you can drizzle it on homemade pancakes instead of jam.

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Goodbye colds and hay fever!

One important benefit of honey is its antioxidants, which can help boost your immune system. That’s great news for the cold months as well as when the season changes and hay fever starts. If you or your spouse catch a cold, the best way to ease coughs and treat a sore throat without taking medication is with a concoction of hot water, lemon juice and honey.. And when hay fever strikes, try a spoonful of local honey. “Studies have shown that honey can be used to improve your immunity to allergies and asthma. This is due to its high antioxidant content and also the presence of pollen, which can act like a vaccine for those with pollen allergy,” says Cara Sloss, spokesperson from the British Dietetic Association.

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Honey beau

When it comes to hea buzz about the honey ways to use honey to f

3

Beat the bloat

The antiseptic properties in honey can help fight mild infections. Manuka honey has also been found to help those suffering with digestive problems such as bloating, indigestion and IBS, with individuals reporting relief when drinking honey stirred into hot water.


5

Stronger stamina

Before hitting the gym, have a bit of honey for an instant energy boost. “Honey is an excellent pre-workout fuel as the sugars are absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream to provide energy almost straight away,” says Cara. With its organic properties as well as vitamins and minerals, honey is preferable to artificial energy drinks to fuel longer exercise sessions.

oney, bee utiful!

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Queen Bee

One of the oldest natural cosmetics, honey has been used as a beauty treatment for centuries. On its own or mixed with other ingredients to produce creams and cleansing products, it works well to remove dirt whilst hydrating and improving the quality of your skin and hair. With natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, honey has a calming effect on skin conditions such as acne and eczema. Gwyneth Paltrow has an organic approach to her beauty regime – after scrubbing with sugar, olive oil and ground coffee, she slathers on oatmeal and honey for a smooth, youthful skin. For your own Hollywood beauty routine, try this quick and easy mask- apply 1 teaspoon of honey onto clean skin, leave for 15-20 minutes and then rinse off with warm water.

alth and beauty, there’s a big ybees’ nectar. Here are nine feel good and look amazing

4

Stir with care

Add honey rather than sugar to your tea and coffee, as something nutritionists agree on is that honey is a healthier alternative to sugar. “Unlike sugar, it contains small traces of vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B,” advises Aine O’Connor, Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation.”Due to its sugary content, however, honey should be eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet,” adds Aine.

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Beauty

7

Manuk New Z

Manuka delight

Manuka honey was originally produced in New Zeeland, by bees pollinating the manuka tree. It has a much richer flavour and superior anti-bacterial content due to the unique nectar of the flowers from which it is sourced. Manuka honey is naturally healthy, as it contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes that contribute to our immune system and our general physical and mental health. “This type of honey has proven to be much more effective in the healing of wounds and has also shown to have an anti-inflammatory action, although this area still requires further research,” explains Cara.

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Healing powers

If you get caught without sunscreen when the weather gets hotter, try using honey to treat the sting of sunburn. Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory action was recognised by ancient peoples, who used it to treat skin infections and wounds. Scientists recognise that its antibacterial action helps reduce swelling and relieve pain in minor burns It also works wonders on treating scars through regular application and, with its anti-inflammatory action, it can help to reduce swelling and relieve pain quicker than a trip to the chemist!

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Baby booster

If you’re planning to start a family in the near future, then add honey to your weekly menu, as this amber coloured delight has been regarded as a natural fertility booster for hundreds of years. The word ‘honeymoon’ is said to derive from the ritual of newlyweds taking a spoonful every night to increase the chances of conceiving. The key ingredient is pollen, which is regarded as an aphrodisiac.

Strange but true... 10 things you didn’t know about honey! ◆ Honey bees have to collect nectar from two million flowers in order to make one pound of honey. ◆ There are 64 calories in one spoonful of honey. ◆ When a 2000 year-old jar with honey was found in an Egyptian tomb, the contents were said to still be fine to use. ◆ Honey’s flavour and colour depends on the type of flower from which the bees gather the nectar. Acacia has a light texture while forest honeys are slightly richer and darker in colour. ◆ The production process involves bees regurgitating their meal of pollen in order to create what we see as yellow sticky fluid. ◆ The Egyptians made potions from honey in an

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attempt to cure impotence and sterility. ◆ Queen Cleopatra loved bathing in a combination of honey and milk, while Poppea, the Roman Emperor Nero’s wife, applied it to her face for a softer and younger looking skin. ◆ In 2012 French bees alarmed their keepers when they produced honey in shades of blue and green, after eating M&Ms from a nearby bio gas plant. ◆ Mick Jagger sprays diluted manuka honey and herbs into his mouth to lubricate his throat before performing ◆ Tennis player Novak Djokovic says he owes much of his success to manuka honey, avocados and warm liquorice tea. Who would have thought?


ka bush, Zealand

Honey Moisturising Shampoo, £4.50, The Body Shop

photos: freedigitalphotos.net, manukahoney.co.uk, Marks & Spencer, The Body Shop.co.uk, Crabtree & Evelyn

Citron Honey and Coriander Body Lotion, £16, Crabtree and Evelyn

Citron Honey and Coriander Body Bar, £18, Crabtree and Evelyn Citron Honey and Coriander Hand Therapy, £14, Crabtree and Evelyn

top honey beauty buys Royal Jelly and Honey Foot Scrub, £4, Marks and Spencer

Oh Honey Case, £10, The Body Shop

Treat yourself to some of these naturally inspired products that will leave you feeling great

Honey Gift Cube, £6, The Body Shop

Royal Jelly and Honey Pamper Set £6, Marks and Spencer

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Fashion photos: PRshots.com, debenhams, blueinc, superdry, accessorize, izabel london, getthelabel.com, sainsburys, fatface, radley, pilot, apricot, jaeger, legslove.ie

Radley And British Heart Foundation Collection Tote, £209, Radley Pamela Mann Red Heart Tights, £8.44, Legslove

Anya Hearts Print Scarf, £4.99, Pilot

Heart Print Dress, £19.99, Getthelabel

Queen of hearts

Patent Heart Mirror, £7, Accessorize

Show your romantic side with a statement print this Valentine’s Day

Hearts Waffle Knit Jumper, £28, Apricot

Love Shorts, £6, Accessorize Heart Blazer, £40, Izabel.com

Style tip Team this sweet jumper with some high heels and skinny jeans for the perfect date night at home

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Heart And Butterfly Rings, £8, Accessorize

Phillipa Phone Case Wallet, £15, Accessorize


Shirt Set, £10, Tu @ Sainsburys

Kai Striped Mule, £20, Fatface Striped Polo Shirt, £39.99, Superdry

Bow Tie, £16, Debenhams

Stripe vibes

Cufflinks, £19.50, Marks & Spencer

Style tip Pair this striped scarf with simple block colours for a classic winter look

Choose vertical or horizontal, subtle or bold to make a statement both day and night

Mens Red Cord Leather Belt, £9.99, Blueinc

Boutique Anchor Breton Sweater, £99, Jaeger

Chunky Varsity Scarf, £9.99, Blue Inc

Bomber Jacket, £55, Red Herring @ Debenhams

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Real couple

Visiting the magnificent Khoo Kongsi temple, Malaysia

Honeymoon

Heaven

Newlyweds Carly and Kevin Montague kick-started married life in sunny Singapore and on the soft sands of Penang 16


A picture of happiness on the white sands of Batu Feringgi beach, Penang

W

hen they first met on a night out with friends in Bristol, Carly couldn’t resist Kevin’s charming smile. The attraction was mutual and they’ve been together ever since. The couple got married on in August 2012, at Tracy Park Golf & Country Hotel. They had a wonderful wedding – exchanging vows in front of their family and friends, enjoying delicious food and having dancing for the first time as newlyweds while the live band performed. Following their nuptials, Carly and Kevin packed their suitcases

for a love filled honeymoon which Kevin had carefully planned for months. “I looked at many destinations on the internet. At first it was all very confusing as there were so many wonderful places that we could go to. However Asia looked fantastic and was highly recommended for the culture, level of hospitality and the beautiful beaches. Eventually we chose our destination - going to Singapore and Penang for 10 days.” “I was really pleased when Kevin offered to plan our honeymoon,” says Carly. “At the time I was so busy with wedding preparations I couldn’t

possibly find time to organise our honeymoon as well. Afterwards, when he told me he had made all the arrangements, I knew he’d chosen something we would both love.” “Despite feeling tired after the wedding day and the 13-hour flight, we were so excited to be there that we went exploring as soon as we landed in Singapore. We had an enjoyable two days there and we made the most if it,” remembers Carly. “While we were there we went on a night safari and enjoyed the spectacular views over the city from the Singapore Flyer. We had so much fun! Then we travelled

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Real couple

The Singapore Flier, with views across the citys sky scrapers and Formula 1 race track

the short distance to Penang, in Malaysia,” explains Kevin. Carly gave the nod of approval to her husband’s choice. “We stayed at the luxurious Rasa Sayang Hotel and Spa on the Penang Island. With gorgeous grounds and a breathtaking sea view, we found ourselves relaxing on the terrace every evening with a glass of sparkling wine, watching the sun set. The staff were very friendly and would bend over backwards to ensure they could offer us the highest standard of service. On one occasion a member of staff went out of his way to buy ingredients for a cocktail that we had asked for and surprised us with it that evening.” “We spent the days on the beach or sightseeing,” adds Kevin. “One day we took a journey in a cable car to the top of Penang Hill – the view was amazing! We also visited the capital, George Town, where we were impressed by the historical buildings.” Kevin showed his deep

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Ending a romantic day with cocktails on the terrace at Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang

feelings though surprise gestures, making their honeymoon even more special. “Exactly one week after the wedding, Kevin ran a bath and filled it with rose petals - something I’d always dreamt of,” smiles Carly. “We had a candle-lit dinner followed by cocktails under the swaying palm trees. Later on we were listening to the pianist playing in the hotel lounge, and when I went to touch up my make up Kevin requested my favourite song. I heard it playing as I came

back and couldn’t stop blushing when Kevin took my hand and led me to the dance floor where we danced along to the music. It was very romantic!”. Having had the time of their life on the sandy shores of Penang, the couple are keen to repeat their experience one day for more romance, rest and relaxation. “It is a destination we’d both love to go back to, maybe on a special wedding anniversary,” says Kevin.


Photos: emyliahall.blogspot.co.uk

Interview

winter romance

We catch up with one of the most bright and exciting voices in contemporary British fiction, Emylia Hall, who tells us about the romantic lure of Lausanne, getting married in Las Vegas and writing about her favourite places. Her latest novel A Heart Bent out of Shape* offers an intriguing love story set in evocative snow filled scenery. 19


Interview

What was the inspiration for your new novel A Heart Bent out of Shape? In 1998/9, I spent a year living in the Swiss city of Lausanne as a student. It was an incredibly memorable time for me, and I wanted to take something of that experience – my passion for the place – and put it in a novel. As a writer I’m often motivated first by setting and ‘place’, I like nothing better than conjuring the spirit of somewhere I love, and sharing it with readers.

Photos: emyliahall.blogspot.co.uk

You wrote your first book in the French Alps. Tell us about how you found inspiration there. Living in the Alps for two winters, during my late-twenties, gave me the chance to refocus and work out what I really wanted to do with my life. Prior to that I’d been working in the world of advertising in London and I craved a new direction, something that was more

Steep narrow street in Lausanne fulfilling. Those winters in the

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beauty of the French Alps gave me all the answers I needed. I returned to the UK with the sole ambition of writing a novel and working as hard as I could to get it published.

Tranquil scene of Lake Leman

Writing can be quite a lonely occupation. What motivates you as a writer? Yes, writing is a solitary occupation but that’s part of why I love it. It’s very satisfying, and motivating, to know that the buck stops with me – I enjoy that autonomy. I also like creating my own perfect environment in which to write

Switzerland, has something of a mini-Paris feel to it – the room, the music, the atmosphere, the drinks and snacks – there are aspects to feeding the creative spirit that are wonderfully self-indulgent. I’m also inspired by other writers - those whose work I admire and friends I’ve come to make - not to mention my husband who is also an author. At Whispers from the Heart we consider romance as an important aspect of married life. Would you consider Lausanne to be a romantic destination and why? It’s a very romantic destination! It’s in French-speaking Switzerland, and has something

of a mini-Paris feel to it, in my mind, with its fin-de siècle architecture, pavement cafes, and primped and primed old ladies walking the streets with their lap dogs. It also has a glamorous, luxe side – all power boats and 5* hotels, the kind of ‘leisure set’ that recall 1920s pleasure seekers – as well as a bohemian, theatre-arts side, with interesting cafes and artist studios and exhibition venues. There’s always something going on but at the same time the whole city has a sedate, unhurried air to it, perfect for strolling and people-watching and just absorbing the very special atmosphere. Your first novel The Book of Summers was set in two familiar, yet very different settings. Tell us about what part each of them played in your life. Did you find romance in either of the two locations? Well, I grew up in Devon, so I guess most of my early romantic


evocative novel, with an unconventional love story at its heart.

experiences took place there – the crushes, the first kisses – but romance isn’t the first thing I think of when I hear ‘Devon’ – I think of ‘home’. As a child and teen I travelled fairly extensively in Hungary with my family, we used to spend our summers there, but not a lot of romance to report, I’m afraid! Plenty of adolescent dreaming, though. That said, my husband and I did spend a wonderful month at Hungary’s Lake Balaton a few years ago. We stayed in a tiny studio apartment among the vineyards and learned to windsurf… I guess that was pretty romantic. We certainly returned home sun-kissed, relaxed, and invigorated. Which is your favourite love story book? Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice immediately spring to mind - they’re two of my favourite books. In contemporary fiction, Susan Fletcher’s beautiful The Silver Dark Sea is a gorgeously

How do you and your husband, who is also a writer, maintain a work/life balance? We both work from home, and have writing rooms side-by-side. We enjoy pestering each other for coffee breaks and lunch stops and there’s always a certain pleasure in the moment when we both knock off for the day, but of course what you don’t have when you’re working from home is that ‘walk in through the door, kick off your shoes’ moment, that I used to love so much when I worked in an office. But the advantages to working from home far outweigh the disadvantages, and I feel lucky that I get to spend so much time in the company of my husband. Especially as our flexible office hours and zero commute mean that he brings me breakfast in bed every morning! My hero. Which place in the world would you like to write about next? My third book, the one I’m currently working on, is set in Cornwall, and I’m loving spending time there – in my imagination, as I write, and physically too – any excuse for a research trip and I’m there. There’s a wonderful wildness to Cornwall’s far west, and that’s what I’m focusing on. The endless sea, the hidden coves, the rugged moorland… it’s a stunning part of the world. Your blog features some delicious recipes. Do you have a favourite food or

drink that inspires you when you’re writing? Good, strong coffee is essential, and I simply can’t begin the day without it. A square or two of chocolate always goes down well, too… I’m mostly driven by what meal I’m going to cook that evening, that’s where my thoughts stray during the day. I love cooking, and find it a really good time to mull over my day’s writing as I’m at the stove. Which is the most romantic place you’ve ever been to? I’m quite romantic by nature (in the original sense of the word, rather than ‘chocolates & flowers’) and can find joy and pleasure in most places. My husband and I got married in Las Vegas, so I’ll always think of that crazy, surreal place with great affection. After the ceremony we jumped in a convertible Mustang and drove along the old Route 66, ending up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place that’s become one of my favourite cities on earth. I’d love to go back there – visit the art galleries, eat amazing New Mexican food – and remember our blissful ‘just married’ days.

*You can find a review of A Heart Bent out of Shape in our Books section. Find out about Emylia’s other books at emyliahall.com

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Romance freedigitalphotos.net, prshots.com, dotcomgiftshop.com

Dine in deal

If you prefer the idea of a cosy night in this year, there are plenty of choices and menus to choose from. With the big day fast approaching, all the main supermarkets are rushing to tempt you with their finest meal deals. You can have a two-course meal and a drink at a fraction of the price of a meal out. What better reason to skip the over-crowded restaurants and wild weather storms, and simply turn your own dining room into a romantic candle-lit experience. Your spouse will appreciate your thoughtfulness and labours of love, and it will make them feel special.

Go ice-skating

With the final series of Dancing on Ice now on, there’s no better time to get your skates on! Indoor rinks are open no matter the weather and it won’t cost you a fortune. You’ll also have a lot of fun together and it’s great exercise (without even trying too hard). There are plenty of ice rinks around and you don’t need to wait for snow in order to try a few moves. If the idea of performing artistic jumps scares you, rest assured most people go there just for fun and there won’t a judging panel to give you marks. Just focus on keeping your balance and laugh off any tumbles. What’s more, you don’t even have to own a pair of ice skates - all you need to do is turn up and be ready to have a great time together!

Valentine Celebra

...on a bu

Woo at the zoo

If your loved one is a big fan of animals, than take them to a natural environment like the zoo. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, in beautiful surroundings and great company (apart from the hands of cheeky monkeys). Animals can put a smile on your face with the slightest of efforts. Whether you’re a fan of meerkats, lions or elephants, or like watching the penguins having their meal, you’ll feel a stronger bond and connection to the animal world. You also have the option of ‘adopting’ one of the cute creatures that may catch your attention.

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Let your inner Cupid t fun delighting your creative and cost Love vows

Valentine’s is a good time to reflect on w focus on the small things that make such version of your wedding vows – mix some candles, play your favourite song and e other’s eyes (don’t worry if you get a few


entine’s ations

udget!

take over and have darling with these t-effective ideas

what you love about each other and h a big difference. Create an updated e serious and humorous ones. Light a few exchange them as you gaze into each w giggles, no one else is watching).

12 th 24 Change the date

th

Valentine’s Day is ‘officially’ mid February, but who says you can’t have yours on any other day of the year? People in Brazil and Taiwan celebrate love on 12th June and 14th April respectively, while the Romanian tradition says that Lovers’ Day falls on 24th February. Therefore, you too can have your special day on a different date and save yourself a small fortune. Book a table at your favourite restaurant a few weeks before or after 14th February and you’ll be able to choose from a wider menu and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere.

Secret notes

Make your sweetheart feel special by surprising them with short loving messages written on heart-shaped Post-its. You will need to prepare these in advance so grab your pen now and get writing! Put one idea on each note, focussing on those unique details you love about your spouse. On Valentine’s all you have to do is scatter them around the house (make some easier to find than others) and let the challenge begin. Reward them with a kiss for every one they find!

Day at the museum

Take your loved one to a museum or art gallery and rediscover history. You can explore artefacts and unique art pieces from world-class collections or discover the work of an up and coming painter or photographer. Free entry makes it the perfect budget-friendly experience, and you can also make time for a coffee and a slice of cake.

Sweet breakfast

Start the day in a very special way - lay the table with heart-print napkins and scatter a few rose petals. Add heart ice-cubes to a glass of fizz or juice, and don’t forget fresh flowers for the place setting. Make delicious pancakes in a sweet heart shape and serve them warm, with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries. With special touches like these, your Valentine’s will be so memorable that your spouse will never forget it - just like your wedding day.

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Gift ideas

m these Take your pick fro gorgeous gifts ore you. your wife will ad

Be Mine on 3.

2. 1.

4.

5. 7.

6. 9.

8.

1. Knitted www.graciebows.co.uk

4. Swarovski Sparkle Bracelet, £20,

2.

5.

Memory Lane Print, £29 (also available with frame, £65), www.thelostlanes.co.uk

6.

Sacred Heart Necklace, £36, www.thelostlanes.co.uk

Red Heart Cushion, £45,

Personalised Calendar for Chocoholics, £11, www.astonsoflondon.co.uk

3. Naughty Handcream, £4.95,

but Nice Cupcake

www.prezzybox.com

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Blackberry

www.kanshijewellery.co.uk

7. Enchanted www.heathcote-ivory.com

Walk Lipgloss Tin, £4,

Leather 8. Champagne iphone Case, £39.95,

www.annabeljames.co.uk

Heart 9. Diamante www.theheartstore.co.uk

Earrings, £24.95,


A feast of fab ulous present idea s that will make your husband happy

Valentine’s 1.

2. 3. 4.

8. 6.

5.

9. 7.

Bertie Braxton Shoes, £99, 1. www.dunel ondon.com

Muvi Atom Micro Camera, £99.95, Comic Super Hero Cufflinks, 4. www.red5.c o.uk 7. £24.50, www.ellieellie.co.uk

Fine Grooming Travel Trio, £5, ‘I Love You’ Frame, £75, Varsity Cardigan, £50, 2. www.heath cote-ivory.com 5. www. vintageplayingcards.co.uk 8. www.asos.c om Chocolate Lovers Gift Hamper, Ace of Heart Card, £4.95, Cookoo Watch, £109.95, 3. £31.50, www.notonthehighstreet.com 6. www. vintageplayingcards.co.uk 9. www.red5.c o.uk

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Top tip Make it

Experiment with different thread shades in your partner’s favourite colours, or match them to your decor

Sew in love

Show off your crafty skills this Valentine’s day with a pretty cross stitch picture that’s oh-so-easy to make! Simple yet effective, cross stitch is a great way to create a truly personal gift. And, as you stitch each little x, just imagine it as a tiny kiss being sent to your loved one! Follow the step-by-step instructions below to stitch your own pretty heart picture.

1

bring it up at the bottom right corner, and back down at the top left.

3

When stitching a line, work all the diagonals from bottom left to top right, then work back and complete the stitch with diagonals from bottom right to top left for a quick finish.

Fold your length of aida band in half horizontally, then vertically, to find the centre. This will also be the centre of your middle heart, so work out from here where to make your first stitch – starting at the top left and working down is probably easiest.

4

2

5

Take a 30cm (12in) length of thread, separate two strands, and thread through your needle. To make a cross stitch, bring up the needle at the bottom left corner of the square you want to stitch on, then bring it down in the top right corner. Then,

Follow the chart until complete, then stitch your left and right hearts in the same way, leaving an eight square gap between each one. Glue your backing paper onto the back of your frame, then lay your finished stitching on top, using either glue stick or double-sided sticky tape to keep it in place.

What you need ✹ 18cm (7in) length of 14-count white aida band ✹ Embroidery thread ✹ Needle ✹ Backing paper ✹ Glue stick or double-sided tape ✹ 6x4in picture frame

make it for someone special

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Short on time or looking for a super-quick make? Then use this design to make an stylish Valentine’s card. Following the steps on the left, stitch a single heart onto a

square of aida measuring 3x3cm (8x8in), then place it inside an aperture card, securing it with double-sided sticky tape. Now that’s what we call a love note!


Romance

Isabel and Ian have exciting plans for this year

for better, for worse

With ‘a job for life’ no longer an option, Helen Dorritt finds out that it’s more important than ever for couples to support each other’s career choices. 27


Romance

During the decade that my husband Steven and I have been together, we’ve racked up 10 jobs between us, the majority of which have been mine. I’ve been made redundant four times, had several years where I juggled two part time jobs, then mixed a part time role with uneven freelancing. Throughout all this, Steven has been brilliant; he’s always cheered me on and offered support, whether it was reading through my job applications or making me a large gin and tonic when I felt down. The subject of supporting your partner in their career choices, therefore, is certainly one that’s close to my heart! Obviously things have changed a lot since our grandparents’ generation and even our parents’. It is now the norm for both partners in a couple to be working, and economics certainly mean that, for the majority, two salaries are required for mortgage repayments and other bills. But with job uncertainty, children to raise and longer working lives leading to multiple career changes, it’s never been more important to be prepared to be flexible about your and your partner’s careers, whether through planned choices or unexpected situations.

All change!

The economic meltdown of 2008 was the catalyst for a change of career for Isabel Williams, who lives in Bristol with her fiancé Ian. “I used to work in recruitment, but after the crash I made a decision not to grow old doing that, as it’s not good for the health!” she explains. “I wanted a career with a

28

longer learning curve where people came to me for the knowledge I had built up over time, so decided to become a financial adviser.” Isabel started out by continuing to work full time while she studied, and was halfway through her qualifications when she met Ian. “His suggestion was that I could speed it up by working part time and studying

Jamie being made redundant was totally unexpected, but looking back it was a blessing in disguise

part time, and his support allowed me to do this. Had I remained single I wouldn’t have been able to do it this way and it would have taken a lot longer!” Isabel is now fully qualified and self-employed. Again, her partner’s encouragement was invaluable when she launched her own business. “Ian’s been self-employed for some years and so has been on hand to ease me into this way of working. Combine a new job with major changes in the world of financial advice and it’s been a journey to say the least, but Ian has made it all possible.”

A new direction

As the age of retirement grows ever further away – the latest research says that by 2030 there will be 15.5 million people over 65 still in work – the careers we embark on in the first flush of our working lives won’t necessarily be the ones we finish with, and something I’ve noticed with my peer group is people retraining in their late twenties after a few years spent in one career. Jamie Taylor did just this; after starting his career as a broadcast journalist, an unplanned redundancy meant he then decided to become a secondary school teacher. For his then-girlfriend (now wife) Sian, this meant dealing with a lot of change. “Jamie’s redundancy was a real shock for both of us,” she says. “We talked through it together, though, and after a while he treated it as an opportunity to try something new.” And while it started out as a bad situation, the story has a happy ending. “Jamie being made redundant was totally unexpected, but looking back

Sian supports her husband’s career change


it was definitely a blessing in disguise,” reports Sian. “He’s had lots of opportunities to use his journalism experience and skills in the classroom, and also does an occasional freelance shift for our local Cardiff station.”

And baby makes three…

For women, the biggest career change often comes due to the decision to have children, and is often a catalyst for changing from full time working to part time, a choice taken by Zoe Lovelock Wright. “I used to work full time in recruitment before I had my first child in 2011,” she says. “I took 14 months off, and then went back to work three days a week, again in recruitment. My husband Patrick’s salary paid most of the bills, but my wages covered day care, my personal expenses and a few other household things, which made our lives more comfortable.” When four months pregnant with her second child, however, Zoe was made redundant and couldn’t find temporary work that fitted with her childcare situation, so she and Patrick made the joint decision for her to become a stay at home mum. “It was a bit of a shock as we were relying on my salary,” she says, “but we both feel that I’m best home with the children for now. I don’t have any immediate plans to return to work but when I do it will be three days a week again initially, until the kids are older. And I do have a very important job at the moment, even though it’s not one with

Zoe has every reason to smile

Relationships are about team work - and when you have kids even more so!

a written job description looking after the family and home.” When these major career changes come along that affect both you and your relationship, finances are one of the biggest areas where support has to be offered. Zoe and Patrick had to rebudget their entire household finances after her redundancy, in order to live off his salary

alone. Zoe is also planning to retrain as a counsellor on her return to work, as she feels recruitment isn’t compatible with part time working, meaning Patrick will continue to be the breadwinner of the family. “Try and save as much as possible before you have a baby and lose one of your incomes,” she advises. “You have to accept you will be financially strained for a while - unless loaded! and your partner has to bear in mind they will need to fund you, and not begrudge you that.” Due to the uncertain nature of self-employment, Ian is happy to provide financial support to Isabel as needed - “he understands my income comes in peaks and troughs!” she explains. So what would Sian, Isabel and Zoe’s advice be for couples where one partner is going through a career change? “Be aware it can be a relationship tester,” says Isabel. “Ensure you have support from other sources too, even if it’s just moral support from your family and friends, and make sure that you know all the costs involved in any change. Go for it though – I love my new career. And Ian and I got engaged this year so things are also going well for us!” Sian agrees: “It’s tough for both people in the relationship, but it’s important to keep talking and to share the impact of the change as much as possible.” And Zoe sums it up beautifully. “Relationships are about team work - and when you have kids even more so!”

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Home Photos: novaweddingphotography.co.uk

Use a vintage dressing table in your bedroom

Handpicked heritage Award-winning stylist Kirsten Butler shares a few ways to incorporate unique elements from your wedding day into your home

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A simple piece of furniture can be made into something special

S

tyling your new home is often the next step after the wedding and, just like the big day, this is all about you. Your home should reflect who you are as a couple - your sense of humour, personal taste, memories, imperfections, and your love story. Choose a few favourite items from your big day that will help create a special ‘love nest’ feel – a place where you’ll have plenty of love and laughter. Whether you sourced your wedding decor pieces from Aunty Nora’s attic, bought them in the shop, or had them hand-made by the bridal party, they played a key part on your special day

and will always bring back sweet memories. By carefully integrating them into your home, you get to see them every day and re-live the immense happiness you shared as you promised your hearts to each other. I am a firm believer in making the most of what you already have and celebrating the history and heritage of items. So, here are my three favourite pieces which work well for wedding styling and are easy to then incorporate into your home.

Furniture

Unless you are a die-hard fan of minimalism you’re likely to have one or two pieces about.

The kitchen dresser is a statement piece for a country house

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Home

Side tables and dressers, with flowers and candles, play a key part in majestically displaying your wedding cake. A dressing table looks particularly fab - mirrors showing off every angle of the eyecatching tower, drawers overflowing with flowers; it’s also every woman’s dream for the bedroom and a great way to show off an entire collection of glamorous perfumes, make-up and sparkles.

Your home should reflect you as a couple - your personal taste and your love story Photos of you together will help to tell your story

Photos and frames

Whether it’s twine and wooden pegs, elegant silver frames or old family albums, pictures offer a chance to peak into your past. Photos of your life as a couple, together with the story of how you met hanging alongside them, create a lovely story of your relationship. Hanging or displaying family photos, including snapshots from your favourite celebrations, will turn your house into a proper home - a place to relax, be yourselves and welcome guests.

Books

The books you read as children are often credited with shaping you as adults - so what better way to celebrate who you are today than by incorporating childhood favourites, or books you read together as a couple? If you’re huge book fans, you may have used your favourite titles or authors to create unique table names, create height within your table piece or give away as favours for your guests. You might have even sacrificed a few pages (if you could face it) to create confetti and paper chains. Now, at the start of a new chapter as husband and wife, you can add these tomes, and their special sentimental value, to your own library. So there you have it, three simple ways to treasure the day you became newlyweds and add a touch of personality to your home. Be inventive and be brave! Share a little of yourselves and see the difference it makes! ● For more inspiration, visit littleweddinghelper.co.uk

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Add treasured books for beautiful details


1

2 4 5 Water Hyacinth Baskets Set, £29, Isme

10

3 Lovebirds Cushion, £54, Naken Interiors

Heart Stanley Ceramic Tray, £7, Cath Kidston

Homes

Candle Stick, £8.95, Live Love Laugh Ltd

White Hearts, £4.95, Dotcomgiftshop.Com

6

Sweetheart Padlock, £24.95, Dotcomgiftshop

of the best... romantic home ideas

Show your romantic side this Valentine’s Day with home decorations to make your heart beat faster

8

Heart print Kitchen and Dining, price varies, Debenhams

7

Chopping Board & Spoon Set, £17.95, Karenza & Co

9

Patchwork Hippy Love Cushion, £9.95, Dotcomgiftshop

10

Vintage Paper Hearts Box Frame, £39.95, Dotcomgiftshop

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Travel

m

ontene

With majestic mountains, misty lakes and unforgettable beaches, Stephen Milnes and his partner Stephanie enjoy a romantic road-trip through one of Europe’s least explored countries.

A

s our driver thrashed the minibus along the gravel track that snaked down the mountain, all we could see below us was certain death. We slid along the seat towards the window, the lack of seatbelts treating us to a view of a magnificent yet terrifying drop while the van was thrown around perilous hairpins. Our rafting group laughed nervously, the fear in the van punctuated by the repetitive thudding of a weight on the roof. The noise was our guide, who’d decided a seat in the raft on the roof was the safer option. Welcome to Montenegro. The former Yugoslavian state gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and despite being tiny – about the size of Wales – it packs in the scenery. It’s covered with endless mountains,

34

inviting blue rivers and lakes plus a coast that consists of idyllic coves and beaches. In summer it’s bathed in the most glorious sunshine, and in winter thick snow. It is a land of truly staggering views. Many of them can be seen in and around the Tara canyon, our minivan’s destination... if we made it down! Part of Durmitor National Park, the canyon graces the north west of the country. Stretching for 50 miles, it’s the second deepest canyon in the world, and in places it stands at a whopping 4265 feet. One of the best ways to see it is from the bottom, as we did, rafting its turquoise Tara River. Looking up from the dingy the awesome power of natural elements cutting through ancient rock was clearly visible. The river is strongest in spring but luckily, arriving


egrin magic Fishing boats on Lake Skadar

in September meant that we encountered the inviting water of the river below. For those wishing to Tara at its most gentle - a welcome bit of news for see the canyon from a more unusual perspective it first-timers like me! is possible to cross on a zip-line. As we paddled downstream the peace and Our rafting excursion began and finished in tranquillity was occasionally punctuated by frenetic Zabljak, a town as famed in winter for its ski runs paddling as we tried to avoid the rocks. Happily as it is in summer for its rafting. It’s a real outdoor the noise was not enough to scare away the wild adventure hub and the bustling gateway to deer that peered Durmitor National through the trees that Eagles patrol the sites Park: Monetenegro’s lined the gorge, as we crowning glory. above, giving a taste of the The town sits a short floated by. The river flowed wilderness that dominates walk from the Black around gentle turns Lake, Montenegro’s and soon we came to the Tara Bridge. Standing largest glacial lake. It is flanked by pine-covered at 558ft tall and 1,200ft long, it was one of the mountains the most imposing of which, The Bear, biggest road bridges in the world when it was looms over from behind. Eagles patrol the skies completed in 1940. above, giving a taste of the wilderness that Later we would get a view from the top of the dominates this country. crossing, looking down the green valley, split by the With a population of just over 625,000 spread

35


Travel

Perast, Kotor Bay

Rafting the Tara River

out over 5,000 square miles there is certainly plenty of room. There’s only 125 people per square mile (in Britain it’s about 680) meaning the scenery extends on and on, virtually uninterrupted. It may be small but hiring a car is vital if you want to truly appreciate the beauty that Montenegro boasts. There are bus tours, but the roads are often worrisome, winding up and down mountains that are too narrow to handle large vehicles – although

Looking out over the bay, it felt like we were on top of the world tell that to the locals. As we were about to find out for ourselves, the country is home to some of Europe’s greatest drives, one of which goes along the coast from the Croatian border. Following the road from Hecerg Novi to Kotor, we stopped for a swim in one of the many fishing villages that dot the shoreline. But this was not just any swim; this was a baptism in the holy waters of Montenegro’s majestic mountains.

36


Often compared with the Norwegian fjords, the mirror-like water of Kotor Bay reflects the grandeur of the rocky giants around it. The temperate water welcomes paddlers, providing a feeling of oneness with the life all around as fish tickle your toes. Further along the bay is the historic town of Perast. Brimming with ornate architecture, the porticos and terracotta roofs wouldn’t seem out of place in Venice, harking back to the region’s rich and powerful past. And the rich and powerful still visit - Catherine Virak, Lake Skadar Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas are rumoured to have once spent €2million on a house in this tiny town. The Bay’s cultural capital, Kotor gives a taste of Montenegro’s growing tourist industry. Busy with cruise ships and their passengers, this picturesque place has become the first stop for many visitors. As with all of the country, it is steeped in history and a walk around the old town with its plazas and towers emphasises how rich this country’s heritage is. From there it was up, up and away, scaling the heights of the mountain roads leading to Lovcen National Park. This was a journey of extreme views and even more extreme driving. Doubling back on ourselves along 26 hairpin bends, we stopped wherever we saw a free lay-by to take in what we thought would be some of the best views of the trip. Looking out over the bay, feeling a sense of achievement as we saw the winding road below us, it felt like we were on top of the world. The Sveti Steffan, cruise ships looked like matchbox figurines, but Adriatic Coast Montenegro was toying with us. The really impressive stuff lay ahead. As we left the coast behind we crested what we thought would be the last of the mountains before the land levelled off towards the north. However, when we reached the peak all that greeted us was more mountains, as far as the eye could see. Shrouded in haze, the tips looked like crashing waves on a violent ocean. We were flabbergasted. How could a population have made this place their ‘Crna Gora’ or

Black Mountains of Montenegro

All photos: Stephanie Maskery

A mountain village, Durmitor National Park

37


Travel

A road-tripper’s dream in Durmintor National Park

home? If the first drive had shown the enchanting diversity in Montenegro’s landscapes, then this jaunt towards Mount Lovcen showed the land’s raw force. We retreated to the coast once more via Cetinje, the former royal capital of Monetenegro, towards Budva. A vibrant city with sandy beaches and more Mediterranean architecture, Budva is one of the most popular tourist spots in the country. Its old town is like a mini Dubrovnik, complete with an island in the bay.

Lake Skada is the most awe-inspiring place in Montenegro On the other side of the bay is an iconic islet known as Sveti Stefan. What is now an exclusive beach resort was once a small fortified village built in the 15th century to defend the locals against marauding Turks. Sadly, Tito’s regime bought all the buildings and turned it into an upmarket holiday complex. Now inaccessible for anyone but guests, it is perhaps a lost relic of Montenegro’s youth, but it still looks a charming little place from the public

38

beach. Those able to afford it will experience something rather special. It was here that we said goodbye to the coast. We headed inland over yet more mountains and on to Virpazar; a small fishing town set on the western bank of the astounding Lake Skadar. Nestled among mountains, this 30 mile long lake is halved by the Albanian border. Locals use the lake, designated a national park, for income through fishing, tourism or both. Tourist agencies in the town run boat tours in the afternoons but the best time to get out on the lake is in the morning, when barely anybody is on it and the menagerie of birdlife is yet to be startled away by the noise of group tours. The best bet to get one of these early tours is simply to speak to the boat owners in the harbour. It’s slightly more expensive than the agency tours but it’s worth it for the tranquillity. Hugged by mountains on all sides, the lake is without doubt the most awe-inspiring place in Montenegro. Visions of the Far East abound as cormorants splayed their wings in the morning sun while fishermen worked in the distance, the haze making it difficult to tell if their long boats were floating on water or air. Lily pads covered


Virpazarr, Lake Skadar

Sunset over Kotor Bay the shallower water and fish leapt out of the depths to catch insects, creating the only imperfections on an otherwise still surface. But by far the best scenic drive of the holiday starts where this story began, in Durmitor National Park and the road from Zabljak to the grandiose Piva Canyon. At times what lay before us looked like the Yorkshire Dales and at others like a Scandinavian yogurt commercial. The roads were gentler that Lovcen but somehow the views were more impressive, the tarmac snaking off round distant corners finding refuge behind the next grassy,

boulder strewn peak. As Lake Skadar had left us speechless, Durmitor caused endless gasps of awe. This truly felt like a forgotten world; wizened farmers shepherded their flocks across windswept valleys while the sounds of woodcutters preparing for winter filled the silence. As dusty Ladas battled impressively up steep mountain tracks you could be forgiven into thinking this was 1955. The road’s descent took us down into the beautiful turquoise Piva Canyon, an artificial lake made from damming the river. From there we hastily made our way to Podgorica, the country’s capital. As we spent our final day exploring their unassuming yet quaint capital, we found ourselves captivated by this often overlooked country. Maybe it’s that something so inspiring could appear from somewhere that was involved in such painful, recent wars. The scars of conflict are visible across the Balkans but these states are returning to their former glories, and Montenegro may be the most glorious of them all.

39


Books

book reviews Our pick of love stories this issue will take you to snowy Switzerland and rainy Ren Dullem

It’s Raining Men

Photos:emyliahall.blogspot.co.uk, simonandschuster.co.uk

by Milly Johnson

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A Heart Bent out of Shape by Emylia Hall

(£7.99, Simon & Schuster)

(£13.99, Headline Reviews)

Outside it’s winter, and it may even be snowing, but inside the pages of this novel it’s certainly raining with men for work colleagues May, Lara and Clare! The question is: will any of them find love or will they face another disappointment and heartbreak? When the three friends book a relaxing spa retreat - swapping power hills for comfy slippers and smart suits for swimming costumes - things don’t quite go to plan. Instead they end up in a strange little village, with no sign of pamper treatments or luxury hamper. The tranquil cobbled streets of Ren Dullem offer an escape from their busy London rush, but the people they meet here are rather unfriendly and suspicious. On their arrival, everyone seems to unite against them in order to protect the village’s dark secret. An accomplished bestseller and storyteller, Milly Johnson writes with warmth and humour. It’s Raining Men is extremely entertaining - it made me smile, laugh out loud and cry with the characters as I found myself transported in the charming English countryside.

After her incredibly brilliant debut novel The Book of Summers, Emylia Hall returns with another refreshing novel. A tale of love and friendship shaken by a tragic accident, the second novel from this talented young writer follows Headley Dunn on her year out in Lausanne as an exchange student. A Heart Bent out of Shape is a book with a sense of freedom and promise. On the shores of Lake Geneva, 20-year old Headley arrives with a romantic view of the luxurious Swiss city, where love and literature capture a different meaning when she meets Ralph Wilson, her American Literature professor. Seduced by the beauty of this foreign city, the student falls in love with none other than her University professor. When tragedy strikes, Hadley finds support in the company of solitary writer Hugo Bezier. Inspired by her retreat in the French Alps, Emylia creates evocative descriptions of the icy setting, giving readers a taster of its main attractions –L’institut Vaudois, Chocolaterie Amandine and Hotel Le Nouveau Monde. Her exquisite writing, laced with French words and phrases, makes for a delectable reading experience. You’ll want to take your time reading this novel, indulging in its pages like spoonfuls of rich velvet cake, postponing the final chapter.

www.millyjohnson.co.uk

www.emyliahall.com


Last word

Valentine’s Day

in numbers

How much do people spend on treats? Why do we exchange gifts and love letters? Find the answer to these and other romance-related statistics below.

1500s

£880,000,000 on presents and cards – that’s how much money we spend in Britain each year to show our affection for our loved one on this special day.

You can dine in with a choice from the Tesco’s finest meal deals for , which includes 1 main meal for two, 1 dessert and 1 drink.

£10

Surprise your spouse with a pretty box of Hattie&Blythe Sweet on you Raspberry Lovelumps. A bargain at only

£7.50!

11,000,000

photos: marks & spancer, scribbler

is when the tradition of exchanging Valentine greetings started in Europe. The first Valentine was written by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, while he was confined in the Tower of London, addressed to his wife in France.

£39.99 £20

Men spend an average of on romantic treats for their partners, while women spend only . for

Him for

400s

In the Saint Valentine was honoured in the Catholic calendar by having a day of celebration for his act of kindness. He was known for helping Roman soldiers get married, in a time when they weren’t allowed to have a wife.

£29.50

er

H

Expect to pay

is the price for a bouquet of red roses at Waitrose, while seasonal tulips will cost you

£32

£340

for Dom Perignon Rose Champagne at Harrods.

more text messages are sent on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. Much cheaper and instant compared with posted cards, text messages are becoming the preferred method for busy people to declare their love.

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Whispers from the Heart  

The magazine for newlyweds - interviews, beauty, fashion, beauty, home, travel and a wealth of romance features.