Reliving a special day from my childhood

Today is going to be a real blast from the past!  It isn’t going to be the usual day you would expect someone to want to do to celebrate their 50th, but for me it is very special.

As I have said before, having a birthday which always fell during our families 2-week summer holiday, meant that most birthdays just blended into the holiday.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents made a fuss of me, but you know what it is like as a kid, once you hit the beach the day itself isn’t important.  That was until one very special birthday.

We had driven to Ilfracombe and my parents suggested we walk along the harbour. There moored up was a big boat!  Well as a kid anything larger than a dinghy is a big boat.  Dad thought we should go on board and have a look around!   Little did I know was that they had booked it as a surprise trip for me to visit Lundy Island.

Now, this is where the story of that day is told over and over and over again!  I have always been a bit of an independent madam!  It is no surprise then when offered help to board the ship I declined it, and the inevitable happened.  I fell in.  To make it worse, I refused help on the way back too and the same thing happened.  On the plus side, it has entertained my parents for many years.

When I was thinking about how I wanted to spend my birthday, that birthday surprise always came to the forefront of my memories.   I researched it and the boat still went, but not from Ilfracombe on my actual birthday. 

I really wanted to spend my birthday with my friends but wasn’t sure either if they would be interested in going to Lundy.  If you don’t know about it, it is a little island off the shores of Devon.  It is a nature reserve run by the National Trust.  Puffins use it for their breeding grounds and seals and dolphins can also be seen there. 

There are only 28 people living on the Island, with just a pub, church and shop in the way of facilities.  That said, there is something calming and magical about the place.  Well for me anyway.

I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t go to the Island on my birthday.  I did see though that a boat left from Bideford the next day.  Unfortunately, it was due to leave at 8 am due to the tide.  Now, not being funny, but having to get up and be on a boat ready to leave by 8 am the morning after your 50th was not a realistic option!

After further explorations, I found a lovely man – Colin – from Lundy Charters who was based in Clovelly who could take us over to the Island on the Saturday at a more leisurely time of 9.30 am!   My amazing friends all agreed to come with me.

So, the morning came, and we all headed off to Clovelly.  We were told to park in the Anglers car park.  As we get there, we soon realise it is also the same day as a festival so there is absolutely no parking.  If you haven’t been to Clovelly, it is built on a very steep hill.  The road down to the harbour is a 25% hill!  The road is single track so there are wardens at the top, middle and bottom with radios ensuring that traffic is only flowing one way at any given time.

After a lot of worry about where to park, we were advised to park up in the main car park and get the land rover back down which was shuttling people that day.  Hubby suggested rather than all 8 of use going back up to come down again, why don’t the drivers just go up and us ladies stay at the bottom.  A very good idea. 

As I jump out of the car, I ask hubby if he would like me to take his rucksack with me, which he did.  I head off to take in the activity of the harbour while hubby takes the car back up the steep road to the main car park.

I’m stood chatting when it hits me!  I have the car keys!  My car is one that doesn’t need a key to start it, but it does need to be in the car when it is being driven.  In a blind panic I find the warden at the bottom.  I explain the situation to him.  I now have visions of my car broken down halfway up the hill, no-one being able to go up or down!  He kindly radios to his colleagues to see if there is a problem.  The land rover that went up after him has arrived at the top. Thankfully the car somehow made it without the keys! 

I’m now panicking as to how is the car going to be locked?  The warden kindly tells me to take the land rover back up, lock the car then come back with the land rover.  Roger the driver was so lovely.

The journey back down was with a group of pirates that were performing that day in Clovelly.  I hadn’t even boarded the boat and the day had already been memorable!

Finally, I can relax, and I meet up with Colin to board his boat.  As I get on, I can’t help but say the most ridiculous thing!  ‘Ooh it smells of fish’.   This brings roars of laughter from my friends.  Why?  Well it’s a fishing boat we are on!

The boat sets sail and we are taking longer than I remember the journey to the Island to be.  As we sail, I take in the views.  I do love the sea so much.  So many seabirds hunting for their dinner.  A seal passes us just long enough to see him, but not enough for a photo.  I am desperate to see dolphins but sadly that isn’t to be.

Gradually the island comes into view just as a puffin flies past.

We land on the island and I already feel nostalgic.  It is a long steep walk up to the main part of the island where the only public toilets are.  We have a stop to look at the shop.  We only have a few hours so prioritise what we want to do.  One of my friends hasn’t seen puffins up close before so we decided to head off to their nesting site.

After a short while, we find out that they have already left.  Gutted and being short of time we head back to the pub for a spot of lunch.

After lunch 6 of us head to the disused lighthouse to explore.  147 steps up give you a 360-degree views of the island.  It is very beautiful.

After heading back to meet the rest of the group it is almost time to head back to the boat.  We decide to pop onto the beach first and dip our toes in the sea.  Well it has been a long time since I got wet here so it would be rude not to.   At least this time it is just my feet!

As I look amongst the rocks, I find some amazing sea creatures. A poor crab is rescued by a friend. It really has been another great day.

We walk back up to the jetty where the boat will come and get us.  As I look down it dawns on me!  When we arrived, the boat was level with the jetty.  Now the tide was out it was about 10 feet lower!  How on earth were we going to get onto the boat!

Hubby points to a rusty ladder going down to the sea!  Is he serious?  Sadly, he is.  One of my friends is even more in a panic as she is wearing a dress!

As Colin arrives back with the boat, he confirms our fears.  We are going to have to climb down that ladder and land on a bobbing boat!  Then walk around the edge to get into the main part of the boat! Oh boy.

I am the last to go on.  My body is shaking.  I am willing myself to stay calm and not to let go of the ladder!  I slowly make my way down.  Colin is there to steady me.  I step off the ladder onto the boat.  It was scary but I made it, completely dry!  I was so happy!

All safely aboard we head back.  The sea is no longer calm.  As we hit the waves, we get soaked.  Thankfully it is a warm day.  I could move to somewhere less in the line of fire (or waves), but suddenly I am that child again.  I am having a great time. 

After 1.5 hours we arrive back in Clovelly.  My friends probably are not as enthusiastic about the day as me, but they don’t show it.  They really have proven they are great friends today.

We walk back through Clovelly itself to the car park just as the rain starts.

When back at our apartments it is a quick shower and change before heading down to the seafront for fish and chips. As we call for our friends in their apartment, I realise surprise number 2. Another fabulous birthday cake. This one has red shoes, a handbag and bottle of bubbly on it. So me! More bubbles flow. I really have been spoilt.

The sun is back out, so we sit on a bench eating our chips and taking in the surroundings before heading back to the apartment.

We return to our apartment for more drinks, some of that amazing birthday cake, and a game of Mr & Mrs.  If you have never played this, you should.  It is hilarious.  My hubby and I always lose, as hubby is useless at answering the questions, even after nearly 12 years together!

It is time to draw the day to a close!  It was everything I hoped for and more.

Tomorrow we head home.  I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday weekend.  I have my 6 friends and hubby to thank for that. 

See the day here on my Youtube Channel: –

If you ever get a chance to visit the island you should.

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When did a piece of rope become art?

We had to go down to London recently to sort our Visa’s out for China. We decided we may as well make a night of it. I booked a hotel close to Kings Cross, nothing fancy, just a Travelodge, but it was perfect for what we needed.

We were out of the Chinese Embassy a lot earlier than we anticipated. Having been to London many times, hubby and I were thinking what we could do that was a bit different. We decided we should go along to the Tate Modern. I can’t remember ever going myself and hubby hadn’t been for over 11 years at least.

It was a lovely sunny day. Walking over the Millennium bridge, you could take in all the tourists from so many nationalities. Boats going back and forth on the river. Everyone was in such good spirits.

I’ve heard all sorts of stories about what we may find inside the Tate Modern, so I was already expecting to see some bizarre pieces of art. Nothing quite prepared me for what I found though!

One of the amazing things about the Tate Modern is that for most of the exhibitions, it is completely free to get in. I think this is brilliant as it allows everyone, regardless of their background, a chance to experience it.

As you walk around, you really start to understand why art is a personal thing. We all like different things. Well that is certainly true here! There are some beautiful pieces as you walk around, but there are some absolutely weird things too! I’ve put together a Youtube video on some of the bits that stuck out to me. Here is the link-

I loved a statue of a little girl with her arms behind her back and a cream ribbon in her hair. A 3D piece really captured me. There was so much to look at. Another piece was strange. I don’t know how to describe it? It looked like someone had poured water over a painting, but it was strangely enchanting.

Now onto the weird! I’m sorry if you have seen these and liked them. As I say, art is very personal. First one was a piece of rope on the floor. I kid you not!! There is a joke there I think! Another was 3 bottles of diet coke all with different levels of liquid inside from a full bottle to an empty bottle. How about a mans urinal? I overhead someone talking to a group of students about its beauty!! Men – next time you visit a toilet, have a look and see if you can see its beauty!! I’m not sure I could! I did try honest!

There were 2 that I can’t decide which one gets the top award for being the most ridiculous! Was it a concrete pot full of stones – not nice ones, just grey ones? Or was it the picture frame that was well, just white?

There was so much I didn’t get or understand, but isn’t that what makes them interesting? I have to wonder though as to how some of this becomes so important that it ends up in the Tate? They are so simple? Who decides that it is a masterpiece and worthy of having millions of people looking at it? I’d love to know.

I have to say that despite some of the art, I really had a great day! I would definitely recommend you going along if you are in London. You never know, you may be inspired to start painting yourself afterwards!

The one thing I took away from the day is that we are all different. And isn’t it a good job. Life would be so boring if we all thought the same!

Have a good week.

Feeling hot hot hot !

Wow, what great weather we had this weekend! So who has a Braai? Ok BBQ? Yep it has the be done.

We went the whole hog and had 2! First one Friday night and another last night. You have to love eating outside.

Last nights Braai was all about using the leftovers. It’s amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination.

Saturday temperatures reached over 34 degrees for us! Not that I sat out in it myself! Oh no! We had friends round on the evening so first things first I needed to catch up on the housework! It has to be done especially with 2 malting dogs!

Talking of malting dogs, they do struggle when it’s so warm! Fido thankfully knows how to cool down. He stands in the shower waiting for someone to turn the taps in for him!!

Anyway, back to the friends coming for dinner. As it was going to be such a lovely day I decided the menu needed to reflect that.

Hubby offered to make his prawn soup! It’s light but very tasty. Perfect for a hot summer evening.

For main, I opted for pineapple and salmon kebabs with Jerk seasoning, with home grown new potatoes and a pomegranate and feta salad. As a salad dressing I made a Dijon mustard dressing. So far all free on Slimming World, but still tasty.

Now, this is where it got interesting. For dessert, I decided on an ice cream cake. Well why wouldn’t you!

The cake requires 2 layers of ice cream and a raspberry coulis, topped with a ginger biscuit layer! Sounds fab doesn’t it! And it was apparently (I made a syn free version for me).

The problem I had was the weather! I mean, when it’s over 34 degrees outside, how are you supposed to stop the layers melting while constructing them!

It was a case of moving very quickly and having a hubby on hand to open freezer doors for you!

I published a video of it here!

I had to laugh when I watched it back. I looked quite fresh at the start of it! By the end I was definitely wilting !!

The main thing is the food went down a treat! Note to myself though! Don’t try it again unless it’s about 10 degrees cooler!

I’m not complaining though! I love it when it’s hot hot hot !

Have a good day.

It’s time to go home!

Today is a very sad day!  We have to leave this amazing place and return home.  This place has been absolutely amazing and has exceeded our expectations a thousand-fold!

Our flight is scheduled for 10 am so its another early start.  I have already packed most things the night before!  If you know me, I can’t leave anything until last minute.  Obviously, the toiletries we need for today can’t go in until last minute, but you know what I mean!

I’ve pre-booked our pickup.  They have confirmed they will be here at 7.15 am, and they are punctual.

I take a last look across the old town from our balcony.  I’m going to miss that view!

This morning I made sure I was up early enough so I could sit one last time on the balcony, drinking my tea, taking in the view!  I wanted to make the most of every minute here!

As we travel in our taxi to the airport, I get one last chance to look back and see the view from above of Kings Landing and the Red Keep – aka Dubrovnik!  The sun is shining on the orange roofs below.  The sea is clear and bright blue.  This place certainly has some magic!

It is only a short trip to the airport.  Getting through security is very quick and easy.  We have 2.5 hours to kill.  There isn’t a lot to do here but as we are early, we decide to grab a drink and something to eat.  Whilst small, it is very comfortable.

After a while we decided to head down to our gate to wait to be called for our Easyjet flight home.

Just before we board, I decide I should pop to the ladies!  I have a middle seat so its not always easy to get out on the plane, without disturbing the person next to you! Plus what if they are sleeping, do you wake them? I’m not sure if you should!

I pop off and do what ladies do.  I’m walking back to the gate.  I’ve seen a man looking out across the runway looking at the planes and think nothing of it.  Suddenly he turns and gets his leg in front of mine!  There is nothing I can do.  I’m falling at a pace.  Ahead of me I can see the edge of the lift and metal bollards, they are heading towards my head at speed.  I can’t stop myself.  I quickly put my arm up to try and protect me.  With a thud I hit the floor, bollard and lift! 

At first, I can’t move.  I’m somehow wrapped amongst the bollard.  Thankfully I didn’t hit my head, but my leg, arm and hand really hurt.  The man has rushed to me so apologetic.  He knows he was completely to blame and is mortified.  I’m suddenly aware of a lot of people around me waiting for their flight home!

The man wants to call for help but I assure him I’m fine.  I need to get my flight home and its boarding soon!  He helps me up!  I’m trying hard not to cry.  The pain is horrendous.  I can’t show the man how I’m feeling, he feels so bad as it is, and it was an accident.   These things happen.

As he helps me up, he apologises again and asks if I need anything.  I say I’m fine and not to worry.  I slowly walk off trying to put a brave face on it.

As I walk back to my seat, I don’t know what to rub first.  I think I’ve broken a finger at least!  I quickly mention to my hubby that I’ve had a fall but then our flight is called so we board the plane!

I travel home feeling very bruised and battered.

After a horrible drive home in the pouring rain we relax and unwind!  As I take my coat off, I see the extent of the damage.  A beautiful bruise on my right arm.  My right hand is also swollen, and I can’t move my little finger.  The pain is horrible.  Bruises start to appear on my leg and knee too!  My hubby suddenly realises it wasn’t just a little fall after all!

I soldier on for 10 days now.  The bruises are starting to fade a little, but my hand is still in pain.  I decide that maybe I should have got it checked out sooner, so book an appointment with my GP. 

After checking it he confirms that yep I have a fracture!

It is amazing how in a split-second things can change.  I’m not cross at the man.  It was an accident.  I’m sure he is still feeling mortified about it.  And if anyone knows me, if an accident is going to happen it has to be me who will have it!

At the end of the day, it was still the most amazing holiday.  It isn’t goodbye Dubrovnik, it is until we see you again!  We will be back!

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!

When life tests you!

Wow what a week this has been.  The last 7 days have certainly been eventful!

Let’s start with the ‘devil scanner’.  If you have seen my video from last weekend, you will know that this machine was certainly testing my patience!   What should have been a quick and easy solution to a problem, turned into a challenge of who was going to give up first – me or the scanner!

https://youtu.be/eMtWuMOL3Lk

My hubby has hundreds of old slides which used to belong to his father.  He decided to preserve them by scanning them onto his computer.  A really good idea, I know!  After a bit of research he had found a company that rents scanners by the week.  The scanner should take 50 slides at a time and scan them direct onto the computer!  Sounds amazing!

We planned for the scanner to come on Friday 3 May so that he would have the whole bank holiday weekend to use it!

On 24 April, I am notified that the scanner has had a failed delivery!  It was arriving a week early!  Even though the lady who looks after my dog was at my home, the delivery man hadn’t made her aware he was there, so it was sent back to the depot.

After 4 phone calls we had arranged a delivery for the following Wednesday 1 May, so we happily went about our business that weekend.  We then realised that on Saturday 25ththe scanner was delivered to a neighbour because we were out!  Eek.

I contacted the company to ask when the rental was due to start and was shocked to know they had started our clock running on 24th!  We had already missed a couple of days of the rental, plus we were at work during the day.  How were we going to deal with all those slides in that time.

The company were great and agreed an extension until Monday 6 May.   We would load it before work, straight after we got home and before going to bed.  That still also gave us the bank holiday weekend.  Well, until hubby realised he was in London for 2 of the days, so it was left to me to make sure the slides were running for as much as possible.

Now in theory that wasn’t going to be a problem as you just load it, set it up and leave it to run for a few hours!  Or so I thought!  Oh no, the ‘devil scanner’ as I have now named it had decided to jam at every opportunity.  To make it worse, hubby’s car had broken down in London and I was on standby to have to go down and collect him.  That would have wiped out my Sunday of scanning!

With the clock ticking away, and still 100’s of slides to get through there was only one thing for it, to work through the night on the Saturday!  

With no sleep, by Sunday morning I was exhausted, but the pile had come down!

Thankfully, the garage got hubby’s car sorted enough for him to get home.  The car is now sat on the drive until we get it fixed.  We are now down to just my car.  You don’t realise how much you rely on 2 cars until you don’t have them both!

We finally finished the slides and got the ‘devil scanner’ back in the post.  I think we were both glad to see it go!  It had certainly taken over our lives during the time we had it!

We decide to have a relaxing bank holiday Monday before the return to work on Tuesday.

Tuesday comes and we arrive at our train station to no trains!  Some bright sparks had decided to try and steal cables to the signals which meant they couldn’t run the trains on our line.  After a bit of research we drove to a different station to get one of many delayed or packed trains.  Oh and for the pleasure also had to pay £12 a day parking!

The one benefit of this new station was that there were more options to get a train back!  Well in theory!  Not today.  Oh no!  A train has broken down on the line preventing trains passing, so the trains were all cancelled or very delayed.

We do eventually get a train home, but later than normal.  We are in the car and looking forward to getting home.  The next joy was to find the road we would take home was now closed for 10 weeks!  Seriously could this day go any more wrong!

After turning around we head down the motorway!  Motorways in rush hour are certainly not fun and very slow!

Finally we arrive home, late but we are home!

I decide to put some washing on!   What else do you do after a day like that!

I hear the machine beep to tell me it is finished.  As I pull the washing out the top clothes are dry, the bottom ones soaking!  The machine drum has not been turning!  Aaaah!  We now have no washing machine, I car and a disaster of a trip home!

I try to get an engineer out to fix the machine but it won’t be until Monday next week!  Thank you to my amazing mum who is going to let me use her machine in the meantime.

We have a reminder in our calendar that we have to do our visa applications for China so hubby and I sit down together to go through them. Him on his computer, me on my laptop!  The plan was to get them done, then go and watch Countryfile in bed at 8.30 pm.

2.5 hours later we still have not completed the form!  If you have ever had to do a visa for China you will know our pain!  You have to put so much information in from your parents, jobs, what your managers duties are, where you have been in the last 5 years, schooling etc etc.  By 10.00 am we decide we have to go to bed.

We finally finished and submitted the form last night.  

Today is Friday and I am now so looking forward to the weekend.  I am praying that the next few days will be far less stressful.  

Tonight, the weekend will start with drinks at my local pub with hubby and friends.  It’s Prosecco night, so that isn’t a bad start to the weekend is it!

Have a great weekend!

How is it Monday already?

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Monday already. How does it come round so fast?

It’s like Groundhog Day when the alarm goes off! While I try to wake myself up to take the dogs out for a walk with hubby, Fido is there jumping all over the bed in excitement! Lola is a bit like us. Actually no that’s wrong. We do get moving when the alarm goes off, whereas she lies there moaning, groaning and stretching! She really doesn’t do mornings !

At least now the mornings are lighter! Chilly but spring is definitely here!

The weekend was good. For a weekend with nothing planned it was fun.

Saturday morning was a leisurely start. An amazing brunch followed by a spring clean! I do love it when you give the house a good going over! Hubby was productive too in the garden. It’s the first time this year he has been able to really get out there! It looks so much nicer now with the spring bulbs coming through and the new shoots appearing. It’s amazing what a bit of sun can do!

Saturday evening hubby had offered to cook dinner! If you know me you will know that rarely happens! He had seen a recipe in the latest Tesco magazine for a Chinese soup! As long as I made sure he had all the right ingredients he would make it for me!

OMG, for a man that doesn’t cook very often it was amazing! I know he followed the recipe, but even his chopping and presentation skills were spot on! Restaurant quality.

You can see what we ate here on my YouTube channel.

We ended a perfect day by watching Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a great film don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure I’d go and see it multiple times. Hubby thinks we feel that way because we already knew the story, and maybe he is right! I’d still recommend you watching it though.

As the days are brighter we decided on Sunday to take the dogs for a longer walk. We opted for Earlswood Lakes. I haven’t been there for years. I printed a walk off the internet and off we went!

Now, I have to point out that today it wasn’t our fault! I know whenever we go on long walks hubby and I will always take a wrong turn at some point, but today wasn’t down to us!

The route we picked didn’t include a map! The instructions looked clear when we started, but soon they didn’t make sense. We had to ask directions a couple of times. Well I did! Hubby wouldn’t ask lol!

Eventually we gave up on the route and did our own thing. We didn’t mind. It was nice just to get out!

As we headed back to the car it dawned on me! We went the wrong exit out of the car park at the beginning! No wonder it didn’t make sense!

At least it made us chuckle!

The afternoon was relaxing with a visit from my wonderful parents.

As with every Sunday in our house we had a lovely roast to finish off the weekend.

Next thing I know the alarm is going off and it’s Monday again.

As we arrive at the station the car park is more full than usual! I’m dreading the train now. I’m expecting to crush my way on!

As it pulls onto the platform I look through the windows. A few people are standing but there is still daylight! I’m shocked but pleased. What happens next shocked me even more ! I got a seat! Woo hoo! I can’t believe it! Maybe Monday isn’t going to be so bad after all!

Have a great week!