Femme · Fur-Babies · Jessica & Claudia

Decorating the Swedish Easter Tree + Easter Egg Challenge with my wife!

My family are part Swedish and we’ve always celebrated holidays the Swedish way! Every Easter my mother, grandmother and I would decorate a tree together (Påskris in Swedish) and now Claudia and I do. Also featuring Walter and Tilly, who just had a little groom, as you can see- she looks like a completely different dog!

The traditional decoration includes feathers and hand painted eggs. Some people use witches, birds and chickens as well.

We’re going to begin by attaching feathers to our young magnolia tree, traditionally you can also use cut branches or sticks in a vase. Some people say it symbolizes sweeping away the winter and is thus very colourful. My grandmother always added sweeties onto the branches so we’d have a little treat! The best way to stick the feathers to your tree is with brown masking tape- also called ‘framers’ or ‘craft’ tape- because you can barely see it and it doesn’t do any damage.

Hope you enjoy the videoS!

Bonus Easter Egg Challenge! Claudia and I love a good, arty challenge- especially one that involves painting! Which egg do you think is the best? And what challenge do you want us to do next…?

Happy Easter!

Blog · Chronically Fabulous · Femme · Jessica & Claudia

12 Tips for Travelling With A Disability

I’m a girl who loves to travel, it’s one of my absolutely favourite things. I love visiting other countries, seeing different cultures and eating new foods. But, like anyone with a disability or chronic illness, it can be very difficult and I do need to be extra careful! I’ve already had my share of exciting adventures that ended in foreign hospitals.

So from my many years of occasionally painful experience (at least it was always fun before it started hurting!), here are my top traveling tips:

1. Plan, plan, plan!

DisabilityAlways plan where are you going, who are you travelling with, what are you taking, even what you’ll be wearing. I realise this seems like a buzzkill because you want to be spontaneous… just like everyone else. Believe me, I understand, being carefree is very appealing but- bam!- suddenly you’re somewhere they can’t cater to your needs. Now you have nothing to eat and you’ve run out of meds and you don’t have enough water and you’re on a rock in a wheelchair surrounded by sinking sand! … Okay, that last one never happened. But that’s just because I haven’t been near sinking sand yet- it’s definitely a scrape I’d get myself into.

2. Take everything you could possibly need, especially medication

If there is a pill that you only take maybe once a month or so- take it! This will probably be the time you need it. Even if you’re only away for two days.

3. Check disabled provisions with your travel company

A surprising number of airlines will allow you to take an extra cabin bag for medication free of charge. Think about it: you’ve got your handbag, your carry on luggage, and an extra bag of medication. That’s at least space for another pair of natty shoes!

4. Always be honest about your limitations

It can seem embarrassing, especially if you are on a group holiday and don’t want your friends to know EVERYTHING… I understand the worry about others who might finding the embarrassing parts of your disability or condition ‘gross’. But it’s only you who will be hurting if you don’t share before something happens. Just be honest.

If you’re travelling in a group of lone friends and don’t want everyone to know your private life then choose one person and have a chat before you go. Pick that person based on their level of compassion, not how close a friend they are. You might be surprised by how helpful people can be. Some of my best friends now were people I didn’t know very well on the fringes of my social group but they stepped in when I was in need.

5. Know your own limitations

Know what you can and can’t do; be honest with yourself. Some people on holiday suddenly decide they are fitness fanatics and can walk everywhere, all day long. If you cannot do that then don’t convince yourself that you can. Just be honest: they’ll find it useful because if you don’t you might suddenly find yourself stuck at the bottom of a large hill sobbing: “Guys, I can’t actually go any further! Literally I can go no further. carry me!” Don’t be that person… (don’t be 18-year-old me).

6. Do not be embarrassed

This comes up a lot because sometimes it is embarrassing to have a disability, but do try to work through it. It’s very easy to say, very hard to do. I’ve been there. last year we went to Ibiza with a group of people that I didn’t really know that well. I wanted to make a good impression and not seem like a liability. One night at a restaurant I ordered something and the waitress said… something… back to me. That I completely didn’t understand. But I didn’t want to seem incompetent and they are all waiting to order… So I just nodded my head and said yes.

Never just say yes!

For goodness sake… in the end I was given a completely different meal because she had said “do you want this instead” and I said yes and I couldn’t really eat that much of it and it made me sick. Moral of the story: Don’t make yourself ill because you are so embarrassed.

7. Ask for help

Probably the biggest most important tip I can give you. Asking for help is vital. Always ask for help with a smile and people will be incredibly helpful. Everyone responds well to:
Hi, I don’t suppose you could do me a favour? I’ve got this really complicated thing that I need you to do, only you can do it. Because I know you are so good at this.

Even if your foot is literally hanging off the end of your leg, slap a smile on and butter up whomever you need to in order to get helped first. You mother was right, being nice gets you what you want… but flattery gets you everywhere.

8. Don’t let people eat your food

This one is especially important if you are sharing a kitchen with people you don’t normally. They might be your friends but they won’t necessarily remember that you have a special diet: you can only eat this, this and this and if they eat those 3 things from the fridge there is literally nothing that you can eat. Nothing! Tell them, be open, be honest, stick a label on it! It’s yours, don’t let them eat it. If they do then feel free to rage.

9. Explain your disability in words that make sense to everyone

Everyone who knows more medical terms than the average person is guilty of this but it especially relates to those who don’t speak your language as their first language. Even if you have to use terms you’d normally shy away from or even hate to attach to yourself… Push through! They need to know what you can and cannot do so they can help you.

10. Take a doctor’s name and number with you

DisabilityIf there is a possibility that you might need medical assistance whilst there, look up a local doctor. Preferably one who is familiar with your condition. It always helps to have a name if you are not travelling with someone who knows everything about you.

11. Consider travelling with a medical tag

I personally don’t like wearing medical ID tags… because I haven’t found one that is attractive looking. So yes, I’m going against my own advice here. But in the event that you are unconscious there has to be a way for your entire medical history and condition to be explained. So maybe I should start wearing one inside my clothes.

12. Avoid connecting flights

You are just asking for trouble. It is highly likely that the flight attendant will forget that you need help. Twice whilst I was wheelchair bound and traveling I was left on a plane when everyone else had left. The flight attendant came over with: “oh… Sorry I forgot there was someone that needed to use a wheelchair. But they can’t actually come and get you off the plane and also the plane really needs to go so you are gonna have to walk downstairs.” I went down on my bum.

Yes, true story!

Also the other way around: “All these people are on the plane right now and it really needs to take off, so can you walk up these stairs? Otherwise it will take an extra hour… ” I went up on my bum.

It’s surprising how strong my skinny little arms can be when needed!

And my last tip:

You are an awesome person! You are on holiday with these people because they like you, because they want to be on holiday with you. Please don’t feel like you are a burden. You’ve probably had some bad experiences… I know I have! Maybe you’ve had some dates with inconsiderate people, maybe you broke up with an ex and they blamed your disability… maybe it was even your parents or siblings who were rude? Possibly it was everyone at school. They likely told you some bad stuff, ok? Put it to one side, remember you are awesome, this is about you, this is your holiday. You have fun!

Fun! I order you!

Your personality is what is important and since you are reading my blog I can only assume it’s fantastic. So there we go, just a few hints and tips about travel I’m sure you got loads more, let me know in the comments and I will steal them.

Femme · Jessica & Claudia · Jessica Loves

Top 10 Reasons to Travel in Spring

My lovely wife is half Malaysian and likes to hold this up as the reason she doesn’t do well in the cold, grey British spring… But I’m pretty sure none of us love January’s grey sleet! My birthday also happens to be in January so we have started the family tradition of always being abroad to celebrate.

Indeed, for the first one we spent together Claudia whisked me away to Rome for a week- where she proposed! So, you see, holidaying in the Spring really does do wonders!

So far we have been to Rome, Malaysia and Budapest in springtime and leave this week for Valencia. We’ve had such wonderful times I’ve actually started to prefer holidays abroad in spring rather than summer! Sounds like madness? Well, here’s why I think you should have a ‘spring holiday’:


  1.     Something to look forward to after Christmas

January isn’t any more miserable than December- it just feels that way because you don’t have lots of presents and a break from work to look forward to… also you spent all of your money on the aforementioned presents. December might be dark, damp and cold but shops play jolly tunes and everything smells like cinnamon. If you can glide through freezing December buoyed by the idea of Christmas then you can get through sleeting January and February on the promise of a holiday at the end of it. Even if said holiday is to somewhere equally cold, it still feels fun because you’re cold by choice this time!


  1.     Flights are cheapest- also many airlines have Jan sales!

Even if you didn’t plan a trip away BEFORE Christmas, the January sales are enough to make you think of doing it now! Every time we’ve flown in spring the airplane has been half empty and very reasonably priced… Provided you don’t bring lots of heavy bags. Always expensive! (Check my city break packing tips <https://youtu.be/9OQnwUxUf8c> for ways around this!


  1.     It’s off peak in Europe

If you’re like us and want lots of culture, monuments and history on your holiday (we went to Venice on our Honeymoon and spent most of it gawping at buildings! … and eating… ) then a spring city break is for you. Not only are places cheaper but you’ll also have the freedom to move around without a thousand other tourists wanting to go to exactly the same place.


  1.     You will always get a table in the top restaurants

Oh yes, those fancy restaurants who in summer scoff at the mere premise you’ll be able to book a table anything less that three months in advance will now be actively seeking your custom! Plus, there may be out-of-season price differences (see above) that mean you’ll actually be able to try the latest foodie place everyone is Instagramming about!


  1.     Your Instagram photos will make everyone jealous

Speaking of which… your fun in the (probably still cold) sun will be making your friends back home very jealous! No longer will that holiday ‘perfect beach image you worked ages on and contorted your body into just the right angles’ photo be lost on a timeline of your friends and co-workers also photographing their legs on a beach- oh no, not this time! Just picture them scrolling: January diet salad, January detox smoothie, gym shot, rain, your grinning face looking super cool in front of a well lit monument!


  1.     The tourist sites are less busy

Unlike in summer you won’t have to jostle through the crowds just to catch a glimpse of that famous painting. No, in spring you’ll actually be able to breathe at the same time. In fact, you’ll also be paying less for more as many attractions will have off-peak seasonal prices. You can finally take pictures without some random tourist walking arse-backwards into shot!


  1.     Cheaper hotels

As previously mentioned… there are so many deals in spring! You can stay somewhere lovely for a fraction of the price you would be paying in summer (when you would be “paying through the nose” as we say here). In spring you can stay in the central hotels with the great transport links without having to sell a kidney first!


  1.     Change of scene boosts you for the year

Making changes at home is hard. Whether you’re determined to be more productive, eat healthier or get more sleep the easiest way to kick start is a change of scenery. Try to include some of the changes within your holiday. You’ll come back rested, relaxed and knowing you can do it! Or you could just lie on a beach somewhere for a while. That’s pretty relaxing too.


  1.     It lessens the ‘holiday pressure’

Am I the only one who feels ‘holiday pressure’? Wanting your holiday to be ‘the best ever’ and full of funny stories or great adventures you can tell everyone about? Well, in spring these expectations are certainly relaxed! Go to Italy in summer and it rains: worst holiday ever!!! Go to Italy in spring and it doesn’t rain: best holiday ever!!! When your expectations are lowered everything is perfect. We still talk about the magic of Rome’s 16 degrees in January.


  1. Christmas is not a holiday- it’s hard work.

… I would say that heading is pretty self explanatory. You need a break. Especially if you did all of the cooking or hosting. You deserve that holiday.

Get some some vitamin D from the wintery sun, have a rest and when you get back you’ll be ready to conquer the year! Or just have a mildly good time despite the weather at home. Which is pretty ruddy great.