Tag Archives: friends

When you walk through a storm…

Well hi there, its been a while hasn’t it!  What a great line from the best song – You’ll never walk alone.  Not only have I sung that to death for my beloved Reds, but its words have certainly rung true recently!

To be honest I haven’t felt like writing as its been a trying few months in many ways, but now things are starting to clear up a bit and I can see the fog lifting I thought it’s time I updated you all. 

Lets rewind to January. Usually a pretty boring and dull month – not this year. 

I’d started January exhausted.  What with commuting 5 days a week into the City, working weekends at the cafe and running and cleaning a holiday let, I was burning the candle at every end.  Something had to snap, and I had a feeling it was going to be a strange few months – call it just a vibe. Anyway it certainly did shake my world… 

Firstly one of my closest friends was diagnosed with Breast cancer. They say 1 in 2 people you know will now get it, but still you never think it will be your friends – the people you laugh with and care for so much. Needless to say it rocked me to the core. But from the start she was incredibly positive and I knew it would be ok somehow. Don’t ask me how, but I just knew.

Sure enough after a tense and difficult few months all the ops and treatment she has the all clear. The relief was immeasurable. The happiest text I’d got all year. 

It did put everything into perspective really quickly.   I realised fairly early in the year (15 days in) something had to give but what do I give up?  All the things I did in life were as important for many reasons, I spent hours trying to juggle them all. I genuinely didn’t expect the ball that dropped to be my full time job! I’ve never been told things weren’t working out in my professional life, I’ve always been extremely happy and stable in my career, but I guess I knew this one was a risk – one I thought was worth taking.  How wrong you can be. But I have to agree it wasn’t working and it was uncomfortable for everyone involved, so off I went…

However as you can imagine the 2 businesses were relying slightly on that income – especially the holiday let. The Insurance Industry that has served me so well for 22 years (I know, I don’t look old enough hey) is in a cycle of uncertainty at the moment and there are several equally wonderful people in my area also out of work. So with a heavy heart I have had to sell the holiday let. Now for those of you who have followed me or know me that REALLY HURT. Not only am I reeling from my safety blanket being pulled away, I now have to sell my pride and joy. But like a plaster the quicker you remove it, the better, so it’s gone. The bills are all paid and I have a nest egg now to see me through the future months. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse we then had to make some changes at the cafe. It doesn’t do any harm to regularly review your businesses and I have never been too proud to admit when things aren’t working or need tweaking. We realised we just needed to be there ourselves. The cafe industry is a bloody tough one, and you really need to pour your all into it. And I mean your all. So we did. 6 days a week, just the two of us with little rest, we have given it everything. That place was and is my sanity.  It reminded me how life can be so much simpler, and it has totally helped me press my reset life button.  It really is the most fun and totally worth it to see the results in such a short space of time. I couldn’t be prouder of Toast. It’s a gorgeous business with a real community feel and heart – even I would be a regular customer there. 

Now we have seen what works, what doesn’t quite as well and what we need to do to drive it forward we enter phase 2 so to speak – longevity. Along with a little revamp to really give the people what they want and to show off our best ideas, we are also hoping to expand the private catering and potentially some private dining in cafe. We just need to get our license completed (Council bureaucracy at it’s finest there) and we will be ready to up our game! 

Happy ever after?  Well not quite.  As much as I love Toast it is not going to pay my bills each month. Unfortunately Insurance is not the easiest place to get another job right now so I needed to think a little differently.  After going to several local networking events (including our own Toast Connects evening) the cogs started to turn and I am beginning to see a plan evolving!  After all I always remember someone once saying to me “make your true passion your job and the rest takes care of itself”.  

For 22 years I have worked in an Industry where the people constantly evolve and grow.  I love watching people have the confidence to really shine in the areas they are best at – and I am a huge fan of encouraging their development from their everyday lives and careers right up to running their own teams or businesses.

So hopefully I can expand on that in a way that I can see a career change!  I’m sure over the next few weeks my plans can turn into reality, I know what I am aiming for now and I can really see a little glimmer of light….

So watch this space – you’ll never keep me down for long…..

Speak soon

Al x


Opportunity Knocks…

Hey there. Hope you are all keeping well in this bonkers weather. Totally bored of it now! Sunny, snow, sunny, snow. My winter woolies have been on and off like a lightswitch on speed!😉

Sorry it’s been a few months since my moany blog about leaving my job. It took me a fair while to recover if I’m honest. It truly smacked me right in the face, leading to a mass pizza and wine session and a lot of tears- not a pretty sight. Then followed a week of mild then stronger panic about how to pay 2 mortgages, and it was time to get a grip, pick myself up and start all over again.

I was and am truly overwhelmed by all the messages, cards and calls offering me luck, love and support – as well as the job offers. Thank you for those – believe me I will treasure those kind words from all corners of the globe!

After reading those I realised not all was lost. I still have a lot to offer the Insurance world, just doing things from a different angle. So after a few meetings and a lot of soul searching I decided to give Insurance another go. Not specifically Energy anymore, my love for that has faded along with the standards and flair in that world. I wanted to offer my expertise where it’s wanted and hopefully needed. I am chuffed to bits to announce I am going to join Fidelis Insurance in the near future. This is a dynamic Company with an amazing team where my values and ideas match their plans – who knows where it will take me, but my good old gut feeling is loving this one. It’s genuinely put the spark back in this plug. Yay!

Of course, as you may or may not remember I am slap bang in the middle of renovating a beautiful bungalow just around the corner from me in Tankerton. Its a sunny and happy house but needed some love, so I decided to strip it back to basics and start all over again (bit like myself!)

Walls have been knocked down, ceilings replaced, painting everywhere in between. Over 3 months the transformation has been remarkable- only achievable with the terrific tradesmen I have been lucky enough to find. Its a crucial week thos week – kitchen is going in, decorating finished in several rooms – EEK! Pictures to follow! Once ready friends and family will get to book up for this year to come and holiday in Kent! I can’t wait to show you all the results, and get you all booked in!

Not content with that as a sideline, one snowy day, I met a wonderful friend for a coffee. Sherry (aka Little Pep) and I met via a friend of twitter, and we have got on like a house on fire! So after a long treki n the snow, she had a proposition for me – Let’s open a cafe together! Now, I think the initial offer was in the hope I had 6 months off, which alas is not the case! But as the coffee flowed and the creativity flowed more, that was it – we became business partners!

Over the last few frantic weeks we have been designing, planning and dreaming of what this can truly turn into. Our WhatsApp usage is at a record high!

Since then we have given birth to a beautiful baby Cafe right in the heart of Herne Bay. Situated in the stunning Beach Creative building, TOAST will open Easter Sunday to the public for a soft launch. It will offer simple but high quality food, gorgeous snacks and excellent coffee. Through local collaborations we will bring you the best the area has to offer. Little Pep will be based at the cafe, offering juices and smoothies on sight as well as consultations for juice plans.

Lots more to follow on the cafe, but raise a glass to TOAST next time you can!

So in a blast that’s my news! I couldn’t be happier at this moment. Times have been tough for me over the last few years, and I am determined to live my life to its fullest. My 2 guardian angels really have my back and inspire me daily to be a better me. With all of your love and support, it’s going to be a breeze.

Off for a lie down, I’ve just scared myself writing it all down!

Speak soon

Al xx

alsyclarke.com – website

Alsadventures – Instagram

Al’s Adventures (alsyclarke) – Twitter

Singapore, Sleep and the last days of Summer…


Hey all, Happy Sunday!

Just a little update on what has been going on since we spoke 2 weeks ago.  If I remember, I wrote to you all when I was heading to the airport for my trip to Singapore for work.  I was not exactly enthusiastic about my trip – until I got to check in and found @britishairways had upgraded me to First! Woohhhhoooo.

Now I am lucky enough to travel for my job, and get to go Business Class on many long haul trips.  I am spoilt now and try to go business class on my own cash (not always possible).  There is a difference in experiences, and BA usually are an 8/10.  So I was extremely interested to see the difference.

Good start – at Heathrow you get your own check in area.  It has more staff than passengers for check in and your own security area – both meaning no queues (hallelujah). This leads you straight into the BA lounge – no fuss, no trekking through the airport.  This is sheer bliss to a traveller like myself (my grumpiness levels began to decrease).


As I was travelling first, I was allowed into the Concorde Lounge – BA’s premier lounge at T5.  This has its own bar – serving amazing wines, cocktails and pretty much any drink you fancy.  You could also sit and dine at their mini restaurant serving full 3 course meals – again a delight if you are about to get on a long haul plane and want to rest.

I decided to sip some pink bubbles, eat a healthy chicken salad and relax.  I did notice how empty this area was, but maybe that was down to the time of day – 8pm on a Saturday night is hardly premium time for flights!


I was greeted when I got on the plane by the Pilot (Kim who was hilarious).  Always nice banter with them.  Reassuringly BA!  A glass of champagne was handed to me while I settled into my seat, with my own mini wardrobe to hang my clothes as i got MY OWN PJS’!  Now the idea of putting my pyjamas on in front of a group of strangers was not one I was particularly comfortable with.  But as the stewardess said, think of it as a quiet Saturday night in with your Pj’s, an amazing meal, films and food.  Now when you put it like that.. grumpiness now gone.

IMG_6474.jpgI settled down to my 3 course meal which was fab.  Not too heavy, a light fish dish, fruit for desert and a wonderful glass of bubbles to wash it all down.  My only critisism was there was no pink champange (first world problems I know) if it is in the lounge it should be on the plane – thanks BA.

I watched a few films, but I have to say I was not overly impressed with the film selection.  I watched La La Land (weird but good) and Lion (great film – please watch!) and then it was time for a sleep.  The stewardess made up my bed – well, put the chair flat, put my mini cover mattress thingy and my quilt on.  I snuggled down and slept for 7 hours straight. Bliss.

On waking, breakfast was served.  A wonderful omelette and coffee sorted me out.  Copious amounts of mint tea and wonderful service kept me going.  Thanks to the wonderful crew on my flight, you truly made this girl happy.

Finally 13 hours later we landed.  I did feel refreshed, and able to focus.  Shame as it was 6pm local time, so I needed to quickly unpack and meet my colleague for a quick dinner and back to sleep.  Tomorrow we start at 8am…..

4am I was wide awake.  Jet lag damn you.  After attempting to sleep for an hour I decided to go to the gym – kill or cure.  I felt ok, and thought I may as well get some kind of workout in as I was awake!  It certainly helped, although it was not my best performance.  After a wonderful breakfast, it was time to hit the streets to the office – that 6 minute walk was a delight in the basking sun with its busy pathways ferrying everyone to work.  Always love to see how other cultures commute.  Quick walking and coffee always prevails!

The week was a long one – sat in an office from 8-6 each day was tough, but my colleagues in Singapore were so welcoming and wonderful, the week was a breeze.  Except for my jet lag.  Every morning  I woke at 4. Luckily my hotel was amazing – the Fullerton in Singapore Marina Bay is truly splendid.  It was the old Post Office when it was built, and its splendour is there for everyone to admire.  The gym facilities are great, rooms opulent and comfortable – and the bath is amazing!  That became my 5am sanctuary, to doze in the tub for an hour pre brekkie.  I think that is what kept my sane!


Before I knew it less than 5 days later, I was back on plane home.  Same wonderful service home, but very disappointing food choices.  I would expect more from @britishairways especially in First.  I have to say, the bed and the staff were amazing – but the rest is so not worth it.  Business class for me (remind me to take my own PJ’s next time).

I landed at 5am Bank Holiday Friday and was back home by 7:30 – thanks to some wonderful Cab services from Whitstable Cars.  Always reliable!  I decided to go to yoga and go for the double hit of Emma’s and Nikki’s classes.  Great idea.  I came back tired but awake if you know what I mean!!  As the day went on I started to flag, and was in bed and asleep by 7pm.  I slept till 7am the next morning – I guess I needed to catch up on the weeks sleep deficit!  Despite that I managed Park run although I was slow and it bloody hurt!  That truly drained me I have to admit, so it was lovely when friends arrived for the weekend and we just chilled drinking wine and eating my FIRST BBQ in my finally finished garden – big love to Max and Zep for pretty much doing all the cooking… Mwah!


Bank holiday Sunday, and I was so excited.  One of my Summer list places to visit was Broadstairs.  Only 40 minutes away, with a proper sandy beach I have been dying to go.  Today was the day, the sun was out and it was one of the hottest days of the year!  Despite that, we were woefully unprepared – and needed to purchase emergency bikinis and shorts!  However, I did remember all the blankets, suncream and sunglasses.  We had a lovely few hours laying on the beach listening to the inane rubbish that people chat!  Normally on such a beautiful sandy beach we would be abroad and wouldn’t be able to understand the conversations – but it was a lot of fun to listen and laugh!!  Bravo Broadstairs folk for entertaining me and my crew!



After an amazing ice cream and a wander, we headed home on a mission.  I am constantly boring everyone with the stunning sunsets we have here in Tankerton.  I really love it when friends get to see them too.  So off to the beach we went, fish and chips in hand (with bubbles obvs) and watched the beautiful sun go down on another amazing weekend.




Bank holiday Monday the tiredness hit me, so it took it easy in the garden.  I caught up on work emails and assessed the Hurricane Harvey devastation – how awful.  From a professional point of view I have to put my work head on and get on with adding up potential losses, but my heart really does go out to Houston.  Friends and colleagues are there, and I just am so gutted for them.  Some are effected, some have been lucky.  All I know is it will take years to recover.  I have had the pleasure to visit many times, it is a wonderful and vibrant City – lets hope the damage can be repaired soon – I certainly know the people have the heart!

This week was back to work.  NOT GOOD.  The reason I say that was down to the debacle that was the train service provided by Southeastern this week.  I am aware there was major engineering planned with the upgrades happening at London Bridge, so I was able to work from home 2 days.  But the two days I was in was a shambles.  2 hours each way.  Southeastern could have solved all that by allowing people to use the high speed for free – saving me half hour each way.  But oh no, they insist you pay for it – that means an extra £10 a day for me.  Outrageous and a disgrace.  To top it all off I was delayed on both journeys home – so 2 and a half hours each way.  Not the way to treat your passengers, and not the return to work I wanted.

Luckily Thursday and Friday I could work from home.  It makes such a difference to me and not just the travel.  I get so much done at home, I am currently fully up to date with work even after a 3 week break.  MY time in the office is always less productive  as I am in meetings, or catching up with my team, Clients and Brokers.  I love that side of my job, but working from home means I am more organised, structured and productive.  Those 2 days are a godsend, and I can get to the gym both evenings.  Win win.

This weekend we were blessed with the last of the summer sun, and more visitors!  You could tell summer was ending as it was a little cooler, but we had a wonderful beach day, a glass of wine at the Wine Shop in Tankerton (go if you are ever passing) and a chilled out dinner at home.  Bliss.  Good friends make everything better.

IMG_1904.jpgSo now Summer is done, the last sunset beach walk done, garden tidied and packed away, all washing done and house tidied.  Autumn is definitely coming, and to be honest I can not bloody wait.

Lots of exciting stuff coming guys, so stay tuned for the next update!

Thanks for reading and speak soon