How am I doing on my 50 things to do in my 50th year list?

Do you remember at the beginning of the year I decided to write a list of all the things I would like to achieve during my 50th year?  Well we are now officially half way through that year.  Where has all that time gone? 

How have I done so far?  Below is my update:-

1)  Travel to China

 Still on schedule to achieve.

2)Visit Croatia

We went as planned in May and oh wow!  How amazing.  Following where we went on my YouTube channel

I still have my last day to publish – but it is worth waiting for!

3)  Weekend away in a VW Campervan 

Still not on my radar!!


4) Re-visit Lundy Island

Well after a tricky time sorting out a boat, this trip is scheduled to happen and I can’t wait!

5)    Eat at a Michelin star restaurant

Still not happened!

6)   Bake with Paul Hollywood

Sadly Paul hasn’t popped over to help me in the kitchen yet!

7)  Be my own boss

I’m still searching for that ‘ah ha’ moment that will make me rich!!

8)   Buy a new car with the registration of the year I was born

It is still a few months away before the 69 plate is out. Sadly by bank balance isn’t matching this wish yet, but you never know!

9)    Get at least 1000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel

I’m at 149 at the moment so a few more to go!

10) Take a hot air balloon over my home town

Still need to do!

11) Have a weekend away with my parents

Sadly this hasn’t happened yet, but I hope to make it come true!

12) Fly first class

@Emirates – can you help me with this one when I fly with you to China in August? Pretty please!!

13) Complete a successful ‘Dry January’

Woo hoo!  I absolutely smashed this.

14) Walk 5,000,000 steps in 2019

As I am still half way through the year, I have time to complete this!

15) Learn to crochet

I think this is for a winters evening don’t you!!

16) Visit Stonehenge

I made this happen in March this year and loved it!

https://youtu.be/j9PDDkP5dg8

17) Swim with dolphins

Not sure if this will happen, unless they appear in Lundy!

18) Run 10k

This was always going to be a tough one!

19) Learn to decorate a cake with icing

Oh wow, I forgot about this one.  Work had a festival week and one of the sessions was about Cake decorating!  I’ve done it without even realising!

https://youtu.be/yOTVetHzo5Y

20)Learn to ballroom dance with Anton De Beke

Well I haven’t danced with @antondebeke but I did get to meet him at @thismorning Live this year.   He is still a delight to spend time with!

https://youtu.be/Qln3XrVmjgI

21)Be on the panel of Loose Women

I’m still waiting @LooseWomen

22) Own a designer handbag

Maybe I’ll get one for my birthday!  Hint hint

23) Replace my greenhouse

Oh it is looking pretty sad at the moment so I think this may need to happen soon!

24) Reduce my daily commute to work

I’m still having fun with the trains!!  At least the morning commute has changed thanks to 4 extra carriages, which means I mostly get a seat now!

25) Teach Lola to walk off a lead

Yer right!  Hmm, not sure this is not going to happen!

26) Teach Fido to not bark at the door

We have been trying very hard!  I’ve now applied to the programme ‘Dogs Behaving Very Badly’ for help!  Fingers crossed!

27) Teach Fido not to bark at noises

As above!  Eek!

28) Have 5 minutes of fame on T.V. – preferably on This Morning

I’m still waiting for them to snap me up lol!!  I did get to meet Ruth and Eamon at the @thismorning Live at the NEC in Birmingham.  Eamon even had his hand on my knee!!  Lol!  They were such a lovely couple!

29)Go to see a musical at least once in 2019

Still to do, but we are in London very soon so who knows!

30) Go to a music festival or concert at least once in 2019

No happened yet, but the summer isn’t over yet!

31) Write a blog at least once a week

I’m smashing this with 2 – 3 some weeks!

32) Improve my photography skills

I’ve not had chance much to take many photos but when I have, I’ve really tried to be creative.

33) Clean out the garage

Don’t tell my hubby but, nah, not yet!  I will though promise!

34) Help raise awareness of homelessness

I’m still promoting this.

35) Help out someone at least once a month

Ooh now I really have to think about this one.  I think I have, but I could do more!

36) Have a professional make over

Still need to sort this one out!

37) Have a ‘hot’ Christmas

This may not happen this year, but one day!

38) Remember friends and family’s birthdays

I’m doing better.  I could be a bit quicker poster but it is an improvement.

39) Be surprised

Not yet!! 

40) Have dinner out once a month

We have done this and it has been really nice to have someone cook for me.  It hasn’t had to be posh, but good food.

41) Take an hour out a week for ‘me time’

I’m trying but some weeks are just so busy.

42) Get 8 hours of sleep a night as much as possible

I’m totally failing this one.  Only 6-7 hours a night at the moment. 

43) Drink more water and less diet coke

Right now I am drinking a litre of squash!  I’m trying!

44) Have a girls night out at least once every 3 months

I’ve just about done this, but I really need a few more!

45) Have a date night with hubby at least once every 3 months

I think we have done this – yes, definitely.  It is good to spend quality time together.

46) Take a canal trip

Well I did say a trip not a holiday so does the 30 minute trip with work count?

47) Go to see Wasps at least 3 times during the year

We have been once but will go more later in the year – promise.

48) Learn the rules to Rugby

Oops!  I really must talk to hubby!

49) Take up a new hobby

I just need to find the time!!

50) Keep in touch more with family and friends who live away

Facebook is great, but I really need to put some weekends away to see friends.  We have managed a couple of weekends this year, but we should do more!

So, there have been some things ticked off, I really need to start doing a few more!  I will keep you posted!!

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Worlds biggest PRIMARK has opened in Birmingham

Yesterday saw the opening of the worlds biggest Primark store in the world.

I’m not a great shopper but as I was working near there, I decided to pop in on my way home to have a look!

As I walked up to what used to be the old Pavilion shopping centre I was blown away. As I walked through the doors, I just couldn’t believe the transformation. It was HUGE!

I have never seen a place like it. This wasn’t just a shop, it was a whole day out! Sadly I only had about 40 minutes, so I quickly made my way around as much as I could!

I certainly didn’t get to see it all! It’s too vast! What I did see as soon as I walked through the doors was a nail and hair bar! Very trendy!

There is also a barbers on the ground floor for the men!

A place to get personalised t-shirts, a Disney cafe, place to chill and charge phones and so many clothes, accessories etc!

What I liked was it felt spacious. You were not bumping into people!

There are so many checkouts so you don’t have to worry about queues!

In my short time I did manage to pick out 16 items which you can see on my YouTube channel here:

The store is over 5 floors. It’s been designed very well, with great views down the floors from the escalators.

There are water fountains around which after hours of shopping in there, you will be very grateful for that!

As I said, I only had a very short time, but I’m so impressed, I’m planning a second trip soon. Hubby wants to come and see the menswear section, but I may have to leave him in the cafe while I explore the ladies section. I feel it may take me many hours!

So if you are local, why not pop along and see what you think !

Dr Foster Went To Gloucester

That line had been going around in my head all weekend! My hubby and I were in Gloucester for one of our date weekends. It was driving me mad, so I decided to look it up on Google! And there it was! A nursery rhyme from my childhood:

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

Thankfully for us, the weather was dry. It was quite cold, but the sun was out. In fact, I would go as far to say, a perfect spring weekend.

It got me thinking though, how the nursery rhyme came about. I have a fascination with these things, as well as phrases and words. I decided to research the nursery rhyme a bit more!

There are many stories about how it came about, but my favourite is about King Edward I. He apparently was travelling to Gloucester on his horse, when he fell off into a puddle, and refused to go back there again!

I have to say to most, Gloucester wouldn’t be many peoples first choice of a destination for a date weekend. It certainly wasn’t mine, but when my hubby suggested it, I thought, why not!

I couldn’t remember ever going to Gloucester in the past, so it would be a new experience. Also, the whole purpose of a date weekend is to spend time with hubby relaxing, seeing new things.

We had heard that the Quays and Cathedral were both worth a visit, we love photography and exploring, so we set a date in the diary.

I went to my trusty website – Booking.Com, to see what hotels were available. Initially, we wanted to stay near the Quays, so we could go out in the evening for a nice meal and drinks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that was either still available, in our budget or nice.

I did see a beautiful old hotel called the New Inn which was in the centre, unfortunately, it didn’t have parking on site. Check out my Youtube video of our trip to see this hotel. It really is stunning. Another hotel kept popping up though! Hatton Court Hotel. It was a beautiful old manor house, about 10 minutes drive from Gloucester, with panoramic views of Malvern Hills and Gloucester. It looked perfect.

The rooms all looked lovely, but as this was our first break in 6 months, I decided to upgrade to the Junior suite to get a spa bath! My Youtube video doesn’t do the place justice!

With the dogs being looked after, on Saturday morning, we drove the 50 miles to Gloucester. We decided to head first to the Quays. Old warehouses were now converted to places to eat, drink and shop. Many of the top names had outlet stores there. Hubby and I are not shoppers so only did a very quick walk through the shopping area, but if shopping is your thing, I think you would really enjoy it.

The warehouses had been restored beautifully. Photography is our thing, and we were able to get some lovely pictures of not only the warehouses, but the docks too. It certainly was worth the visit. Some warehouses are still in need of a bit of love, but you can still see their beautiful and feel the history behind them.

It is so nice to think that this area has been preserved in such a way that its history can still live on with modern life.

If you have watched the recent Alice in Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass, with Johnny Depp, you may even recognise it!

We next headed to the Cathedral. As we walked up to it, it took my breath away. It was absolutely beautiful. We expected to have to pay to go inside, but was pleasantly surprised that the only charge was £3 to take photos.

The man in the shop selling the photo tickets was so lovely. Very warm and welcoming.

The Cathedral inside was magnificent. There was so much to see. There were rooms everywhere, plus a viewing balcony over the whole of the cathedral.

The Cathedral is the resting place of King Edward II but the king that never was! The son of William the Conqueror!

When you look at my Youtube video of the day, you may even recognise some of it from Harry Potter! I have to say, as I walked down the corridors, I was waiting for Harry to pop out of his invisible cape!

Mary Queen of Scotts, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who were also filmed there!

The stained glass windows are amazing. It is worth taking time to look at them in detail. They all tell some amazing stories. Some of my favourites are captured on my YouTube video for you.

The city itself is a city of 2 halves. There are a lot of modern/60’s buildings around, but every once in a while you will find a little gem! There are still some beautiful old pubs and buildings worth a visit.

I am glad now we went. It was certainly a memorable visit. If you are ever visiting the Cotswolds or Cheltenham, I would certainly say stop off there for a day visit.

The hotel for the evening – Hatton Court was beautiful. The views were to die for. Our room looked right out across the Malvern Hills. As I said above, I had upgraded us to the Junior Suite. At first I was a little disappointed as I was expecting a sofa and coffee table in the room. That was purely because of my own expectation, but when I got over that, the room was lovely.

If I had one criticism (except the sofa!!), it was that the bed needed to move to the opposite side of the room, so you could lie in bed looking out at the views across the Malvern Hills. That said, you still had nice views over a field.

The bed was sooooooooo comfortable and big. I don’t think I have ever slept in such a comfortable bed!

The Spa bath was definitely worth the upgrade. After a day of walking around, to relax with a glass of bubbly in the bath was divine!

We booked dinner in the restaurant. I have to say, that was outstanding too ! Service was second to none as was the food.

In the morning we went down to breakfast. There was a lovely array of cereals, pastries, fresh fruit and juices, plus a comprehensive hot menu to order.

The waitress was busy, so we told her not to worry when she apologised for a short wait in taking our order! Hubby and I were chilled after a fabulous day and evening, so were not in a rush.

After 45 minutes though we were a bit concerned. I asked the manager! Our slip had fallen off in the kitchen and been missed. They were so apologetic. I think we had 3 separate apologies in total. I don’t mind if things go wrong when you get this kind of service.

This hotel is certainly on my top 10 of UK hotels to visit. If you want to try it yourself, visit http://www.booking.com/s/42/mariaw59 to get £15 off your next booking.

So our date weekend to Gloucester was a huge success. Sometimes, the less obvious of places have the biggest surprises!

Check out my video to see what we did and saw. https://youtu.be/v7UUH6Stu58






Did Black Friday put you in the red?

Yesterday was the annual Black Friday, but what is Black Friday?  It comes from America, and is the informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day.  It is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. 

Black Friday, since 1952, is said to be the beginning of American’s Christmas shopping season.   As has happened over here, they too have experienced horror stories of people fighting each other for those bargains.  People have been known to queue up all night, in the hope to get that great deal.

So is Black Friday really what we all hope it will be?

I have to say, I don’t buy into all the hype!  At lot of stores have great deals all year round now. There probably is the odd deal going, but I honestly don’t believe that we will all go shopping on that one day of the year, and make great savings!

Firstly, how many of you yesterday went shopping just because it was Black Friday?  I would probably say, quite a few.  I work in the centre of Birmingham.  You could really see the increase of people on the streets, as I fought to make my way to the station last night.

Secondly, how many people bought things they didn’t plan to buy?  Again, probably quite a few!  This group of people are the ones who will think they have had a fabulous deal, but in actual fact they haven’t!

The reason I say this, is that they have actually spent money they were not planning on spending, on something they probably didn’t need.  For example, say you are one of those people who has gone shopping just because they think they could get a bargain.  They go into a shop and see this massive sign saying that a TV was £500 yesterday, but today its £300.  You have to buy it.  I mean, that is a bargain and in their head, they are saving £200.  Stop and think about that again!

In actual fact, they have just spent £300 they were not planning to spend, so in fact they haven’t saved money, the exact opposite.

The same goes for smaller items.  Just because something has been reduced, doesn’t make it a bargain.

Next time you go shopping, and you spot those big signs, telling you of a bargain, stop and think.  Ask yourself, do you want it? Do you need it?  If it wasn’t on offer, would you even have looked at it?  If the answer is no, then step away!

Supermarkets have been doing this for many years.  Have you noticed when you walk in the door, there in front of you are ‘todays offers’!   How many times have you bought biscuits because they were on offer, or buy 1 get 1 free?

Would you have bought them if they were not on offer?  If not, you didn’t get a great deal did you?  What has happened, is that you have spent more money than you planned to.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great bargains out there.  If you are genuinely looking to buy something, and it has been discounted, go for it.  I know I did get a bargain myself yesterday.  Not because I was caught in the hype.  It was something I have been wanting to buy for a few weeks.  I had a discount voucher which was running out yesterday, so I just looked on the off chance that it might be reduced.  Bonus it was, so I bought it.

I can honestly say, I did get a bargain, as I would have bought it anyway.

Black Friday now seems to last for a good week, so you have plenty of temptations to test you. How will you do? We all love a bargain, just as long as it really was one!  

Enjoy your shopping but just remember not to get carried away!