IF you were to say the word "Fiji" to any English man or woman, they would probably respond with a smile.
Images of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters would fill their imagination and they would start to resent the grey skies and rain around them.
Indeed, Fiji's reputation is up there with the best of them. It is seen as a perfect holiday paradise. It is because of this reputation that so many tourists pack their bags each year and fly out to Fiji. The relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to get in touch with "Fiji time" has its appeal the world over.
As a volunteer from London, my expectations were just as high and Fiji has certainly delivered. A weekend trip to the beautiful island of Leleuvia, just a 35-minute long boat journey from Viti Levu, filled all the criteria. It also fulfilled its promise to provide "just the right amount of life's necessities without spoiling your desert island experience", as claimed on the resort's website.
There was a welcome supply of sunshine, views to rival any I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing and a wide variety of activities to keep my friends and I occupied.
Kayaking around the island, we all sat back and soaked up the morning sun. One member of the group commented, "I would happily be shipwrecked on Leleuvia!"
It was not just the sunshine that made the island so appealing though. The typically friendly Fijian welcome did not disappoint, with a chorus of "bula" as we walked around the resort.
The staff members went out of their way to make us comfortable and even joined in with a rendition of Happy Birthday as we celebrated with one of our group members.
Lovo night saw us dig into an amazing buffet of delicious food, which we could not get enough of and the in-house band kept the atmosphere alive with a variety of songs throughout the night. Johnny Cash seemed to be a particular favourite!
It would seem that the image of Fiji maintained by those on the other side of the world is not so far from the truth after all.
Leleuvia really was a little bit of heaven on earth.