The Courage To Dream


bemhMany people dream of far-flung places, exotic sunsets and the mysterious lands we have yet to see, but sometimes life can make your dreams remain just that, dreams.  There are some among us though, who like those characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton to name just a few, who find the courage and the means to chase the dream and explore the world.

The film is surprisingly fun, light-hearted, funny and enjoyable.  The vivid colours and bustle of the Indian streets, brings the film to life in such a way that you can almost smell the spices being sold on the streets, feel the luxurious, gorgeous materials and feel the warm, fragrant breeze as we travel with the cast on their adventure.

The film is about a group of older citizens who take it upon themselves, well apart from Maggie Smith whose character is all but forced to go, to travel to a newly refurbished hotel in the heart of India.  When they arrive they find the hotel is not all that it seemed online, but they make the best of it.  Sonny who runs the hotel is incredibly charming and we quickly learn to love him and want him to succeed in life, love and business.

The cast is amazing, showing that life can be more than we think, that it is ended by age, illness or disability.  It is there for the taking, you just need to reach.  

Much like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Gary Holden from Nottingham decided to seize the moment after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS), at just 52-years-old.

Leanne and Gary Holden in their colourful wedding attire

Leanne and Gary Holden in their colourful wedding attire

Gary was a fit, healthy man with a military career of 30 years behind him when he was diagnosed.  It was a shock to say the least when his doctors then told this active gentleman that he was under no circumstances to undertake any physical exertion , ever again.  They fitted him with an Implantable Cardiac Device to help and Gary was left thinking he would never scuba dive or play rugby again.

Gary followed his doctor’s advice to the letter, but then in 2013 he was sent an invite to a wedding, one that led to Gary and his wife Leanne, travelling to India for a three-week adventure.  Of course he thought there was no way that he would be able to do this, not to mention the difficulty in getting travel insurance for someone with his condition.

Someone suggested that he should not give up on the idea of going, but travel insurance was the key to this trip to ensure that, if he needed it, the medical care would be there.  They pointed Gary in the direction of Staysure who helped him to get a policy that would cover him, that would allow him to travel to his friend’s wedding and for Gary and Leanne to take a trip they had wanted to do for years! 

A rice boat floating along the river at sunset in Kerala, India.

Gary Holden plucked up the courage to take the trip of a lifetime to India, thanks to a Staysure policy.

While they were in India, Gary and Leanne visited Kerala where they spent two nights on a rice boat!  They visited Pune and had traditional Indian wedding clothing made and then headed to the amazing wedding itself, which took place over four days.  They finished their holiday of a lifetime by travelling to Goa by train to see the New Year in on the beach.

An amazing story, that like the incredibly talented cast of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the Holdens took the day by the horns and lived.  They went on an adventure, one that was frightening at first but filled with wonder and beauty, filled with life.

Now the cast are reuniting for a sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Staysure are the official partners of the second film, and so, in celebration of this additional outing into the vibrant world and in recognition of Gary and Leanne’s fantastic story, we have five copies of the first film to give away, just enter below!  Be sure to follow all of the instructions and good luck, the competition ends on 1st April 2015!

 Win 1 of 5 Copies of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

About Author

Founder of Eclectic Enchantments blog, Erika has also been a beauty writer, fashion writer and Beauty & Accessories Editor for a large online magazine before starting Erisea. Erika lives with her dog, Hendrix and beautiful baby girl. She suffers with Fibromyalgia and CFS, among other illnesses which leaves her housebound much of the time. Her passion is writing.


  1. I would love to visit New Zealand – I have seen lots of programmes about people who have moved over there and would be tempted myself if I had the money!

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