1969 was a great year!

1969 was a great year for many reasons in particular:

  • Richard Nixon became the 37th president of the USA.
  • The Beatles gave their last public performance.
  • Boeing 747 became the largest aircraft and made its first commercial flight.
  • Concorde took its first test flight.
  • Sir Wally Herbert reaches the North Pole and becomes the first man to cross the frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Judy Garland died.
  • Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.
  • The halfpenny ceased to be legal tender.
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC One for the first time.
  • Lundy Island was given over to the National Trust.

Oh, and not forgetting another important event!  At 2.15 pm on 2 August a baby girl weighing in at 8.12lb came into the world!  She was longer than the average baby, but then she always like to be different!

Yes of course that girl was me.  I cannot believe that I have been around now for 50 years.  It feels so old, but time seems to have flown by.  It isn’t until you stop and look back on your life that the reality really hits you.    If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that I am actually ok about being 50.  I’m in a really good place in my life, and even though life throws me curve balls, I know with my hubby, together we will get through it.

I’m celebrating the day with some of my closest friends.  We are off to Devon to relive probably one of my only real memories of my birthday as a child.  When I say I don’t remember any others, it isn’t because I didn’t have a good childhood.  Far from it.  I had 2 of the best parents ever.

As my birthday falls in August, we were always on holiday, so the day tended to blend into the holiday more.  Mum always got me a cake with candles on and they made a fuss of me, but could I tell you what else I did, then no.  That was except for 1 very particular birthday.

We were in Devon and out to Ilfracombe for the day.  There was a boat in the harbour, so Dad suggested we go have a look around it.  What I didn’t know was that mum and dad had booked a trip to Lundy Island as a surprise for my birthday.  That day has stayed with me forever.  Not least because my parents won’t let me forget it!  Not because of the Island, or the treat.  Oh no!  It is because as a very confident child, I wouldn’t allow anyone to help me board the boat!  Splash – I was in the water!  Yep that was me.  Miss accident prone!  As we didn’t have any spare clothes with me, I just had to dry off.  Thankfully it was a warm day.

On the way back, when offered help, I declined again.  I wasn’t going to fall in twice was I?  Oh no of course I wasn’t!! Splash – yes in I went again!!  My parents love retelling that story to whoever will hear it!  Along with a few more incidents such as my zip line experience, which I won’t go into today, but still have the scars! 

Despite that, I have such happy memories of that day.  The excitement of being on a boat for the first time.  Seeing the birds and looking around the Island was so special.  It seemed only right then that for my 50th I should go back and revisit the Island.  Plus with it being 50 years under National Trust it seemed meant to be.  I refuse this time though to fall in, so if help is offered, I intend to take it.

Sadly, I couldn’t get a boat actually on my birthday, so we are going the next day.  I don’t mind because the whole weekend is my birthday.  Well it isn’t everyday you turn 50 is it!  I’m going to be milking it.

We have our own boat.  Not the normal ferry.  I have been liaising with Colin from Lundy Charters.  We are going from Clovelly this time, which is apparently closer than from Ilfracombe.  I am hoping to see Puffins, seals and dolphins, so will have my camera at the ready.  I’m just hoping the sea is calm after the night before!  We have a Thai Restaurant booked and no doubt there will be lots of bubbles involved!

We are starting the celebrations off tonight with a meal out.  Just me and hubby.   The question is, do I open his present and card tonight or take it with me?  I’ve said I don’t know.  I will have to decide later, I think.

We then head to Westward Ho for 3 nights with friends.  My babies are staying at home as they don’t allow dogs on Lundy Island.  I will miss them dearly, but they will be well looked after.

I don’t know what else we will be doing over the next few days.  That is what makes it fun.  Maybe fish and chips on the seafront.  Our apartment overlooks the sea, so I’m excited to be able to wake up on my birthday looking at the ocean.  Hubby doesn’t know it yet, but I will be expecting a cup of tea made of course by him, while I sit on the balcony admiring the view.

There are 8 of us in total, so whatever we do, I know it will be a good laugh.

Over the 50 years, I have learnt that if you have good family and friends, everything else isn’t as important.  I’m the happiest I have ever been.  I don’t know what the future will bring.  I’m living for today.  What I do know is that I have some amazing people around me.  I feel the luckiest person alive to have my hubby, my fabulous parents and family.  I have some great friends.  Every one of them is different, but that is what makes them special.

I’m actually really excited about the weekend.  I’m sad my parents won’t be there to spend it with me, but I will call them on the day.  I never miss speaking to them on my birthday.  They are amazing parents and love them dearly.  No doubt I will be calling them a few times of the weekend.  I know they will be waiting to hear if I made it on the boat and back without falling in! 

So, I am embracing 50.  I am thankfully for the memories I have already made, and looking forward to the new ones I will make in the future.

My advice is, don’t worry about the little things.  Treasure those that are close to you and live life to the full.  I’ve made mistakes over the last 50 years, but I don’t regret them. If I hadn’t lived the life I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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Korcula & Peljesac Day Tour from Dubrovnik

So today was our last full day in this beautiful place. The trip so far had exceeded our expectations, so we had already set the bar quite high for today’s trip.

Another early start saw us outside the Hilton Hotel around 7.15 am! Today’s trip was on an organised trip on a coach.

As the coach pulled up it was relatively empty so we headed towards the back.

For the duration of the trip we seemed to have the back half of the coach all to ourselves. This was fantastic, especially when we started to take in the views! Oh wow. Could Croatia get anymore beautiful?

Our first stop was a little town called Ston. Its white stone buildings greeted us. It had been badly damaged in the 1979 Earthquake and was gradually being rebuilt. The main church looked magnificent in the morning sun.

As we walked around the small town though it was sad to see so many buildings still in need of repair.

To the back of the town was a Salt museum. It wasn’t open at the time we were there but we were able to wander in and have a quick look!

Salt is still produced there so it was great to see.

After a stop in a little cafe for a cup of tea it was time to get back into the bus for our next and main stop – Korcula.

Korcula is a little island in the Adriatic Sea, which you can only reach by boat.

Now guys, when I tell you this place was stunningly beautiful, I am not kidding! The town is full of history, with Parco Polo being one of its residents. It is postcard material. On the one side of the island you can really feel the wind coming off the sea, however the opposite side is lovely and sheltered. With cafes and restaurants stretching along the sea front, you can’t ask for anything more relaxing to stop off for lunch.

We were given just under 3 hours on the Island, I think we could have stayed forever.

The return to the mainland was with deep heart! We were just so relaxed here. It was like a magical place!

To help uplift us, the trip then took us to a little winery in Peljesac Pennisala.

We were treated to a little taste of white, light red, full bodied red, cherry liquor and Grappa! I have say all but the last one were lovely, but I still prefer my slimline wine. Before heading back to Dubrovnik we were given a tour around the winery before being able to purchase some wine to take home. As we were leaving the next day, we couldn’t take up the offer sadly.

After an amazing day, it was time to head back! It had been a magical day!

The trip was around £55 per person so definitely worth it.

For our last night there was only 1 place we could possibly eat! Yes you guessed it – Restaurant 1836. This was truly a fabulous Restaurant and I would recommend it highly.

Tomorrow we head home! This holiday has been amazing and I strongly recommend you take a visit one day soon! It certainly exceeded all our expectations!

Make sure you check out my YouTube Channel to see it’s true beauty!

Day 3 – Montenegro

Today was a very early start. We had arranged a private tour for the 5 of us to Montenegro. Due to having to go through border controls, we had to be ready by the old gate at 7 am.

If there is a small group of you this is a great way to get around! Your guide will custom your trip based on the time you have. For us it was a full day tour, 11-12 hours. It worked out at about 64 Euro each but this included our own minibus and guide just for us!

It’s important to check if you are doing some day trips if you need your passports. As we were going to a different country, today we did.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect in Montenegro.

As we drove across the border the landscape really unfolded. Beautiful mountains framed the view!

Our first stop was a chance to get out and see the view across the ocean. Stunning. An old abandoned building to our left showed us the reality of this country.

Our next stop was to take in views of 2 small islands, both with churches in the middle! Both very tiny but beautiful. Our guide explained that we could take a boat over to one of the islands if we wanted to, which of course we did!

The trip went from Perast and took only 10 minutes and cost only 5 Euro each. I should mention that Montenegro only accept Euros.

There was so much history in such a small place. The views again were breathtaking.

Back on the mainland we took a few minutes to visit the old town before heading to our next destination.

Kutor is a stunningly beautiful old city. Walking around the tiny streets it is steeped in history. There is a city wall however you can’t walk around it like you can in Dubrovnik.

If you look carefully at the photo above you will see the wall stretching up into the mountain. This was a theme over here. You could walk up that part of the wall however you would need a full day and proper walking boots to fully experience it, which we didn’t!

We did go up the parts of the wall you can see in the main frame which gave great views over the harbour.

There were some amazing yachts moored there! A girl can dream!

Budva was our next and final stop! A smaller old town greeted us. Our guide took us around again and explained the history to us.

A quick stop off for a late lunch over looking the ocean was perfect. Food and drink is a lot cheaper here compared to Dubrovnik. Beer for example is under €3 a pint.

At around 3pm we headed back to Dubrovnik. Our timing was perfect as the heavens opened!

As we reached Dubrovnik the sun blessed us again!

I’d decided to cancel our original restaurant booking as it was slightly too far. We were later home than expected so only had 30 mins to shower and change, so we decided to go back to Restaurant 1838. It was so good last night, why not !

It didn’t disappoint! I had the mussels again! Oh and of course they gave us those amazing drinks again. I’m definitely going to try and make them when I get home!

Another great day in Dubrovnik! Well mostly in Montenegro, but this was turning out to be a fabulous trip!

I’m looking forward now to preparing my YouTube videos over the weekend to really share with you the beauty of this trip.

Tomorrow is our last day in the beautiful country. We have another trip planned! Stay tuned !

Halloween

So how many of you think Halloween came from America?  Well you would be excused if you did.  America embraced the celebration of Halloween long before we did here in the UK.

The name Halloween comes from the name All Hallows Eve.

What you may not know, is that Halloween first came about from the Celts.  So effectively, it originates from Northern Ireland, Northern France and here in the UK.  In fact Ireland has a bank holiday around this time.   The Celtic festival of Samhain was the start of what you know today.  It is thought that people would light bonfires and wear costumes to keep away ghosts.

31st October marked the end of summer and the harvest.  As we all know too well, we now move into dark and very cold winter nights.  In days gone by, and probably a bit today, it was expected that more people would die during this time.  Mostly from the cold,  I would imagine.

All Saints day which falls on 1 November was designated by Pope Gregory III to honour saints. It was also said to be the start of the new year.

The Celts believed the night before the new year, the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred.  It is thought that on Hallows Eve, or Samhain as it was then, ghosts of the dead, came back to earth.

They were said to damage crops and cause mayhem.  The Celts felt that this made it easier for Druids (Celtic priests) to make predictions on the future.  In those days, people relied on these predictions to help them through the long winters.

To celebrate this time, Druids built big bonfires, where crops and animals were burnt as a sacrifice.  The Celts wore costumes of animal heads and skins, which is probably where the dressing up comes from today.

Women even thought that by doing tricks with yarn, tossing apple skins over their shoulder or throwing nuts into a fire, they would find out who their potential husband were.

When Rome conquered the Celts, they combined their own festivals with that of Samhain.

Feralia was toward the end of October where the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead.  Together with celebration for Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees they were combined with Samhain.  Pomona was represented by an apple, and it is thought that the tradition of apple bobbing came from this.

So with its origins in Europe, how did it get so big in America?  The simple answer is, from migrates from Ireland, many thought to have gone there around the time of the Potato famine.

It was in America, that the traditions of today of trick or treating came about.  They would go from house to house collecting money or food.

By the 1800’s, some of the superstitions and religion had started to disappear from the celebrations.   By the twentieth century it became what is it today.

The pumpkin became part our tradition from a couple of different old Irish tales.  The first was that the Celts carved faces into vegetables, placed a light inside them of a candle or piece of coal, to light the way to their homes for the good spirits.  In those days it was mostly turnips and squash.

The second is about a man called Stringy Jack.  It is said that in the 18th Century, Jack tried to pull a fast one on the devil.  Jack was a drunk.  He asked the devil to go for a drink with him.  When the bill came he had no money to pay for it, so he persuaded the devil to turn himself into a six pence coin.  The devil did so, but instead of paying the bill, Jack put the coin in his pocket and left.

The devil remained until one day he felt guilty for what he did.  He said to the devil that he would let him out if he promised to leave him alone for a period of time which varies depending on which story you read.  The devil agreed.  When the time was up he went after Jack.
Jack convinced the devil to go up a tree to get him an apple before going with him to Hell.

As he was climbing, Jack carved a cross in the tree, trapping the devil again.

Once again Jack’s conscious got the better of him.  He agreed to let the devil down if he promised never to come for him again.  The devil agreed.

When Jack dies, St Peter refused him at the gates of heaven because of his behaviour.  The problem was that Jack had made an agreement with the devil, which meant he couldn’t go to hell either!

Eventually Jack was given a lump of hot coal by the devil to light his way through purgatory.   Jack was said to have carried the coal inside a hollowed out turnip.

Irish families would place a turnip in their windows to stop Jack and other ghosts coming in.  The scary faces were to frighten away anyone trying.

When Halloween arrived in America, immigrants decided pumpkins, which were plentiful there, were a better option for this tradition.  They soon became know there as jack-o-lanterns.

Now you know where it came from – Happy Halloween!