Byron Bay Getaway (May 2018)

For the recent Labour Day long weekend in Queensland, my boyfriend and I went on a little (romantic) getaway to Byron Bay. We have been together for over 2 years now and have only been away by ourselves, just for ourselves, once, as most of our holiday’s are spent with family, so this little weekend meant loads to us and our relationship.

We decided to leave on the evening of Friday, 4 May after work so that we could wake up where we were staying. Something I love to do when I go anywhere as I absolutely cherish my mornings and don’t necessarily enjoy spending them in a car.

We left Brisbane just after 5.30 pm and arrived in Byron Bay at our accomodation at 8.15 pm, with enough time to check in, slowly unpack and happily settle in.

Accomodation

We chose to stay just outside of the hustle and bustle of the bay in the hinterland. I had never been to the hinterland itself and actually spent time there, but I knew I would love it. I work in the centre of Brisbane City Monday to Friday, every week, so for me getting away from ‘the busy’, whenever I can to keep me grounded, is everything.

We stayed at the beautiful Cape Byron Retreat, which I would definitely call a luxury bed and breakfast style accomodation, nestled right away in the stunning Byron Bay hinterland. I booked a self contained cottage studio, which meant we had a king bed, kitchenette, bathroom and our very own private veranda which had hinterland views. We also had our own park right outside of our room which made coming and going private and so easy.

Website capebyronretreat.com.au

Instagram @capebyronretreat

Friday..

Our room was warmingly lit up and on the bed were two little packets of mini Byron Bay cookies, such a perfect arrival treat.

Saturday..

The entrance to our cottage studio. Where I was standing when I took this photo was where the car was parked, it doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to convenience.

The private verander was my absolute favourite place to be at our cottage studio. Having grown up with a balcony for most of my life, sitting out there, nice and high with a cuppa in hand filled me with so much love and happiness (and nostalgia).

Everything around the retreat was so gorgeous, from large crystal geodes to all of the tropical plants in every corner you looked. Imagine reading on a warm afternoon in one of these boho style hammocks.

There were so many places around to sit and enjoy the retreat as well. Though I soon found my two favourite places which were rather private, there is a space for every personality to relish in, eat, drink and be.

It was a little too cold this time for us to jump into the pool, with only a touch of sun while we were there, the pool area was stunning.

We also had resident peacocks making their presence known on a daily basis. They were like the roosters of Byron, making their calls as the sun rose, and their personalities shone, clearly, as they most certainly didn’t lack confidence when it came to humans being around.

Woods, Bangalow

The first location we ventured to was the cafe, Woods in Bangalow. Bangalow itself was so full of coastal country culture, that for me it was already love at first sight as we passed locals, farmers markets and cute boutiques on our way to the cafe.

Woods is a vegetarian focused cafe, with an on-trend menu of recipes that make your mouth water as you read them. The cafe is the little sister of Folk in Byron Bay, which we ventured to on Sunday. The staff were so warm welcoming into their space and incredibly friendly, everything on the menu made my long time vegetarian heart sing, and the coffee, the coffee was perfect.

Instagram @woodsbangalow

My heart burst when I saw this sign, I knew we were close. Woods is nestled within a small precinct in Bangalow almost like a hidden treasure, along with a local art gallery, clothing boutique and more.

I speak about it often online and offline, but the space of where I dine for me really does make the experience.

I ordered a signature blend almond flat white.

*cheers* to more Saturday morning’s like these.

My boyfriend ordered the smashed avo and I ordered the nourish bowl, both of which were beyond soul food.

The vibe of Woods was everything, it really was like being somewhere from stylish coastal glossy magazine.

Crystal Castle

After breakfast we ventured onto Crystal Castle, which is located in Mullumbimby. The drive itself to Crystal Castle was breathtaking, with lookouts and whimsical winding roads to make you swoon like you really are witnessing a country fairytale.

There is an entry fee, but when you walk through the gardens and realise the effort that has gone into creating this magical space, and the continuous maintenance it would take to keep it looking like magic, it’s more than worth it. There are so many things to look at, experience and do, I was totally in my element at every turn within these blessed gardens. I already cannot wait to visit and soak it up all over again.

Website crystalcastle.com.au

Instagram @crystalcastlebyronbay

This is the Kalachakra World Peace Stupa, it represents universal divinity and was blessed by The Dalai Lama. This particular experience of the gardens made my vibrations within me soar as I competed the Kora Walk, which is to walk around it 3 times, turning all of the prayer columns at each step. This sacred monument most definitely felt blessed.

In short, this was a dedicated gratitude tree created by all of its visitors, and the emotion on every branch of it went straight to my soul.

The feelings of gratitude that would have went into every one of these handwritten tags completely blew me away.

We each wrote on one and carefully tied it onto the tree. How beautiful a practice to simply handwrite something meaningful and send it out into the world.

This is the ‘Enchanted Cave’, the largest amethyst geode ever discovered in the world. Enchanting it most certainly was, I honestly could have stared into it forever.

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple. The philosophy is kindness.” – Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

These are known as the ‘Crystal Guardians’ aka the worlds tallest twin crystal geodes, and they are absolutely as magnificent as you can imagine in person (5 and a half metres tall if we want to get technically magnificent). I have known about them for a long time after seeing a lot of people visit them, they are what struck my want in the very beggining to one day visit Crystal Castle just so I could be present alongside their natural beauty.

I, being the earth child I am, took off my shoes and walked over to them barefoot, stood front and centre, grounded, fingers touching the cold crystal surfaces, eyes closed. My entire body felt their energy from the ground up, from my fingertips inward, these two magical pieces of the earth really spoke to me spiritually and I’ll never forget it.

Walking through this bamboo within the gardens was like something out of a movie. Can you tell that I was in awe.

The Byron surf culture..

After our visit to Crystal Castle we headed back to Byron Bay and into the town centre. We had the most delicious late lunch of wholesome burgers (I had a vegetarian haloumi burger), then we went for a walk down to look at the beach and of course, the surf.

The perfect afternoon for it.

With my little camera I managed to capture a couple of true in the moment, moments, of the surfers.

Afternoon cuppa at the retreat..

Once back at the retreat I made a cuppa and headed down to watch the sunset, and the most beautiful sunset it was. What a day, and this was only day 1 of our getaway.

I could have danced on this fresh, green grass for hours (I kind of did, I may have even laid down on it for a moment at one point).

I don’t want a lot in life, but more peaceful moments like these, I’ll take more of these (please).

That afternoon I wish the sun never reached it’s final resting place for the night. If I could pause that afternoon I would have, so I could experience it again and again.

Sunday..

Like at sunset, of a morning I loved making my cuppa and heading down the property to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.

When we were in town on Saturday, I grabbed a cute postcard to post to my mum and dad before we left. Even though I wasn’t overseas, which stereotypically is when people send post cards, it’s still meaningful, as you were there, somewhere special, somewhere different. It’s the little things, no matter where I am, that I know I cherish and so do my parents.

Folk, Byron Bay

For breakfast on Sunday we went to Folk, Woods big sister cafe. Folk is only a few minutes in from where you take the turn off to head into the town centre of Byron Bay, and really is an ideal location for anyone coming and going, or even passing by along the highway.

Folk, like Woods, is again a vegetarian focussed cafe. Even though these are sister cafes they have similar, but at the same time completely different vibes. Folk was warmer with cosier areas to sit and be and enjoy, where as Woods definitely had that bright and fresh morning vibe. It’s the kind of cafe where I could sit and snuggle into the chairs and cushions with a coffee, a book or even my laptop for hours.

Website folkbyronbay.com

Instagram @folkbyronbay

Again I ordered a signature blend almond flat white. I tend to switch between a flat white in a cup or a piccolo when I order coffee depending on how long I have to enjoy it. In the case of this getaway, I had as long as I wanted (so cup it was).

*second cheers*, I wasn’t letting these special slow coffee moments slip me by.

For breakfast my boyfriend had something similar to what he had at Woods, where as I went the total opposite opting for the wholesome banana buckwheat pancakes, and let me just say that they did not disappoint on a soul food level.

Between Woods and Folk, there’s no such thing as too many plants within their spaces, and I absolutely loved it.

Once again, was I in a magazine? Folk was everything I thought it would be, like Crystal Castle, this had been on my to-do list for a long time, and is most definitely on my to-do-again list all the same.

Byron Bay Community Markets

After breakfast we headed on in to the iconic Byron Bay markets, we couldn’t go to Byron Bay without going to at least one of their markets. There were so many stallholders, think coffee, food, music, art, crafts, clothes, jewellery and so much more. It was like the Byron version of Eumundi (a market in Noosa, Queensland, Australia).

I absolutely love going to markets, the cheeky grin on my face says it all, and Byron’s markets really were so much fun.

From the minute we arrived in Byron I knew I wasn’t in the mood to go shopping, that I was purely there for the experience and the in between moments of relaxation, but when I saw these handmade pottery pieces covered in my obsession, the little ladies (ladybugs), I could not leave without one.

For anyone going to the Byron Bay markets her little pottery brand is called ‘Renee Danielle Jeffery Ceramics’.

Afternoon at the retreat..

After our market outing we headed back to the retreat for an hour or so, to enjoy the landscape and to soak up our cottage studio a little more.

This really is my kind of backyard. I’ve never had a proper backyard, but there’s no harm in dreaming big right and enjoying it when you do have it.

The fresh coastal country air, no matter how many times I headed out into the field, still blew me away. It’s amazing how much better you feel compared to city living, inside and out, emotionally and physically.

This was my second favourite space in our cottage studio, from the artistic earthy rug to the grounded couches, it really did feel like a ‘home’ away from home.

Reading here ‘Open Wide’ by Melissa Ambrosini.

Iconic ‘Lighthouse Walk’

We decided that after we relaxed for a little bit back at the retreat we would go and do the iconic walk up to the lighthouse. This ended up being nearly a 5km incline/decline round trip, which was actually harder than I would have thought with our fitness levels, but more than worth it. The views on the walk, well, the following photos we took during the walk will more than speak for themselves.

It was fun working out which trail we wanted to take, and of course, we had to choose the difficult ones didn’t we (still worth it).

We were so blessed to have such nice weather that afternoon so that we could really enjoy the walk in all its glory.

Along with the featured photo at the start of this blog post, this photo above is my other favourite from our getaway. I still have no idea how I captured this in this way, but I’m so glad I did. For me this depicts Byron Bay perfectly.

I’ve always loved lighthouses, the way they guide, give hope and bring people home.

I had so much fun during the walk, I was jumping and running and dancing the whole way. Sure it probably made it an even harder walk, but I express myself through movement, my excitement shows when I dance around.

Monday..

We dined in..

For our last morning of our getaway we decided that it would be nice to take advantage of the beautiful breakfast offered where we were staying at the retreat. So on Sunday we put in our personalised breakfast orders, and at 8.00 am on Monday morning, we were completely spoilt, and what’s better we only had to walk down a set of stairs.

One of my breakfast choices was muesli, yoghurt and fresh berries, a simple but soulful breakfast treat.

We also shared a fresh fruit platter. I had forgotten how nice it is to have such beautiful fresh fruit as part of a breakfast.

After we enjoyed the muesli and fruit, we were greeted with our personalised hot breakfasts. This is my absolute favourite kind of hot breakfast (seriously how good is this spread).

To drink we had a plunger full of beautiful, fresh perculated coffee with our choice of milk to add to it.

I could get use to this.

Oh, coffee..

Home time..

This little getaway in Byron Bay was just what we needed. We left with hearts full of love and souls full of gratitude. Every moment that we were away all I could think was, wow, how blessed we are to be able to do something like this, experience a place like this, in a country that we get to call home.

We most definitely will be back, in fact, hopefully later this year. From the retreat to the crystals and everything in between, I would lock in the exact same itinerary in a heartbeat, it to me was getaway perfection.

I hope you enjoyed my very first blog post in my new category of ‘Travel’. Travel doesn’t have to be far from home, to be a great adventure.

All my love,

Tech and Social Media Detox + I Switched Off for Over 72 Hours

Last weekend I went away to Byron Bay, but before I publish that blog post I wanted to go into something I chose to do while I was away, a little challenge I guess, which was to do a total technology and social media detox for the entire long weekend (over 72 hours). I did it, and I’m super proud of myself, so I wanted to share with you now why I did it, how I did it and what I got out of it. I hope that through this you will sense from my upcoming blog post about Byron Bay that I really was, truly, entirely in each and every moment, and that it was because of this.

If you have been following me for a while over on social media and throughout some of my blog posts you will know that I’m a big advocate for being in the moment, and saying no to screen time regularly. Technology is great, as mentioned in my previous post about how much I love my new Apple Watch (you can read it here – Tech Review: Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular), social media is beneficial, but so is switching off every now and again.

I chose to switch off for the recent long weekend for a lot of reasons, but more recently the effect I’ve realised social media has on my life. I am not one to sit on it for hours, but when you are running an account like I do you can feel like you have to post certain things, you have to share things that should be really just for you, and as much as I love being personal with my community, I also love just doing me sometimes, so for me it’s about finding the perfect blend of both. So not sharing things ‘in the moment’ is my new truth on social media. I’m allowing myself to be in the moment as it’s happening and then sharing things hours, days or even weeks later, and I’m allowing myself to be ok with that.

In reference to another previous post of mine about saying goodbye to my larger social media community recently (you can read it here – Let Go to Move Forward), and this is definitely a personal thing as I know some people thrive off having a large community, but right now for me I really feel like I can switch off, for real and not feel guilty about it, and I love that. There aren’t any rules out there when you have a large public social media account, but there is that underlying pressure when you know your followers want to see what you get up to, but what about you wanting to really ‘see’ what you get up to, something that was on my mind regularly, what about me and my moments. I think as well that maybe how I feel about being in your ‘own moment’ stems a lot from when I spend time with my parents, who don’t have mobile phones or the internet, and are two of the happiest people I know. They need me to be in the moment with them, and I’ve learnt that I need it too, we all do.

So how did I switch off for 72+ hours?

  • Firstly I let those close to me know that I was doing it so they knew everything was ok.
  • I decided not to take my laptop with me, because the getaway was not ‘work’ related.
  • Once I arrived at our destination in Byron Bay I texted those who needed to know that we arrived safe and sound.
  • After we had settled in I deleted every app that linked to the internet (Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest).
  • Then I further deleted the apps that brought up notifications regularly (my email app and Podcasts), which I realise you can turn these off – but it’s easier to simply delete them so you don’t check them for updates.
  • I made sure that all alarms were off and placed my phone on the bedside table.
  • I left my phone in our room for the majority of the weekend as I had my Apple Watch on me, which is cellular so I can still receive texts and phone calls.
  • I took my camera with me everywhere, which is what I took all of my photos on instead of my phone (probably my biggest tip if you want to do a detox like this is to have an actual camera with you – plus the photos are so much nicer).

Note: I did not put my phone on airplane mode (which I know a lot of people do when they do this kind of detox) so that for me personally I could still be contacted via text and phone calls in case of emergencies.

In all honestly it was hard at first trying to push down that urge to want to post about what I was up to, because everything was so post-worthy, but it got easier after the first night and first day. I started to truly be in the moment, without the expectation of how the moment should look on screen, without the pressure to do anything at all but enjoy every single moment for what it was, a gift.

If you are one to want to have your phone on you, your laptop, or whatever else you like to take with you when you go away, that’s totally fine (you do you), but doing even just a few hours detox from it all can be so freeing (even life changing if we want to go there). It truly is incredible the things you notice when you are present with the moment, where you are, with those you love.

If you’ve ever done a technology and/or social media detox or if you do one in the future I would love to know how you found it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to SPARKLE on darling back on the home page to ensure you don’t miss my post about my Byron Bay getaway to come.

All my love,

 

My 2018 Reading List

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

As mentioned in my ‘My 2018 Goals‘ blog post, I thought it was about time I let you, my sparkling reader, in on the books that are on my to-read list this year. I, like many I believe, am not very good at actually finishing a book. I, like many, love buying books and adding them to my collection, but find it difficult year after year to actually get around to reading them. This year I’m changing that, I’m really going to try (and I’m writing this blog post to hold myself accountable).

In 2018 I plan to read 12 books, which obviously equals out to be one a month. To be honest, I am not going to be too hard on myself if I don’t make the 12 by the end of the year, but if I even read half a dozen, I’m doing better than I ever have during any other year in the past.

I don’t know what it is about reading that I am so intrigued by, but I really do love it when I’m in the midst of a book, I find it almost magical the way you are transported somewhere else or after each page are awoken to new knowledge. I know that a lot of what you read in books (I’m talking non-fiction), sure you could Google about instead if you really wanted to, but for me it really is about the smell, the feeling, the love poured into books by the author that makes my soul tingle. I haven’t yet gone digital when it comes to reading, so you won’t see a Kindle on my bedside table, maybe one day when I travel, but for now all of my books are beautiful real in hand copies (the scent of a book new or old, really is one of those scents that takes you somewhere else – a Kindle can’t give you that).

The books on my reading list this year are..

  • ‘Chasing Slow’ by Erin Loechner
  • ‘Open Wide’ by Melissa Ambrosini
  • ‘The Barefoot Investor’ by Scott Pape
  • ‘Becoming Brave’ by Katie Dean
  • ‘Slow’ by Brooke McCalary
  • ‘Judgement Detox’ by Gabrielle Bernstein
  • ‘Braving the Wilderness’ by Brene Brown
  • ‘Earth is Hiring’ by Peta Kelly
  • ‘Purpose’ by Lisa Messenger
  • ‘Low Tox Life’ by Alexx Stuart
  • (to be confirmed)
  • (to be confirmed)

These books aren’t in a particular to-read order because it really depends on what I feel like reading when I’m choosing my next one. I will update this post as I read these books and add any others I plan to read.

I would love reading to become a hobby of mine, like writing is. I would love for me to be eager to pick up a book instead of turning on technology in my down time to entertain me. I hope that through motivating myself to read more often this year, that I will crave to read and continue it on year after year, not just for 2018.

I would love to know if you have read any of the above books, if you have any recommendations for me to fill up my last 2 to-read titles or what you are planning to read or have read this year in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to SPARKLE on darling back on the home page to ensure you don’t miss any updates to my reading list or any book reviews in the future.

All my love,