Getting Together

Blimey my blog is late again. I’m not quite sure what’s happening. My weekends seem to be so packed that I don’t seem to get round to writing on a Sunday evening.

Community Spirit

This weekend was a really important one for the community of Batley, where I have lived all my life. It was also a really important weekend for communities all over the country.  This was the weekend of the Great Get Together, where people of all different backgrounds joined together to celebrate their diversity and to recognise the things that we have in common. I loved reading the updates about the various events that were taking place and the heart warming photographs of people from all walks of life coming together.

A friend of mine wrote a really good blog about this, which I would recommend if you want to know what it was all about

https://grimois.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/why-my-great-get-together-weekend-wont-be-soured-by-events-in-finsbury-park/

As part of the “More in Common” weekend, I attended an open air service at All Saints Church, Batley with my mum and my eldest daughter. I haven’t attended church much recently, as I have felt unsure where I fit in and just exactly how I feel about my faith. However the service on Sunday was relaxed and informal. The hymns were modern and upbeat and the sun was shining. It made me really think about the fact that  whether you had the same faith as others, or any faith at all, doesn’t really matter. What is important is that we treat others with respect, kindness and as we would like to be treated.

Family Gathering

As Sunday was Father’s Day, we had a family barbeque. The sun was still shining and it was great for us to get together and have chance just to sit and chat and have some food and drinks. My mother in law and father in law couldn’t come as my mother in law has just had an operation on her knee and had just come out of hospital.

After we had eaten for some reason the women were sat inside and we began chatting about faith, beliefs, learning about different cultures and tolerance. It was really interesting to hear other peoples views and to understand that although we may not always agree with others, sometimes it is good to air your views and let other people know how you feel.

Tomorrow my eldest daughter returns to London, to start looking for work and a new house, so I wish her luck with that. It’s been wonderful to have her home, but my bank account and my healthy eating have suffered whilst she’s been at home. I’m not sure which one of us is the bad influence.

 

Damage Limitation

After eating my body weight in cake and ice cream over the last couple of weeks, I dragged myself back to slimming world tonight and unsurprisingly I had put weight on. It’s now four weeks to my eldest daughter’s graduation and youngest daughter’s 18th Birthday party, so I have had to give myself a stern talking to and get myself back on track. I have made myself a healthy breakfast and lunch to take to work tomorrow. I realise how much money I’ve spent buying unhealthy food over the last few weeks, so not only will it be better for my health, but also for my bank balance.

I won’t dwell on it, its done now, so I’ll draw a line under it and start again tomorrow morning with a clean slate. I’ve also booked myself in with run together tomorrow to make sure I get my exercise back on track too.

 

 

Reflecting on the good things in life

After all the sadness and unsettled feeling about the world in general, I am happy to say that I am feeling much more at peace with things this week.

A new life and new beginnings

I found out in the last couple of weeks that my lovely niece is pregnant with her first baby. She had had her first scan a couple of weeks ago and felt comfortable in sharing her good news with people. I am so happy for her and her partner and hope that everything goes well with the pregnancy.

It was also great earlier in the week when one of my lovely work colleagues brought his brand new baby son into work for everyone to see. He was a beautiful baby with lots of hair. Everyone was really pleased to see him and all the ladies wanted to have a little cuddle with him. It doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in the world, but a pregnancy or a  brand new baby always seems to bring such hope for the future. Who knows what these children will achieve in the future, or what the world may be like by the time they are adults, but for the present time they are safe and cared for by those who love them most.

A different new beginning

I was honoured to be invited to my friend’s retirement party yesterday. When I say retirement, he is only in his very early fifties, but has served with the Police for over 30 years. It was lovely to attend his celebration and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

One of the really great things was that quite a number of the people that were there had not seen me for quite a while and were very complimentary about how I looked. I guess when you see yourself on a day to day basis, you don’t realise how much you have changed over several months. Losing a couple of stones and growing my hair a bit longer certainly surprised some people and have to say that I felt very pleased with myself. Hopefully this will now spur me on to keep up with the healthy eating and exercise.

 

All together again

Another reason to be grateful this week is that we have our eldest daughter home from university for a visit and it is nice to be together again as a whole family. She is only here for a visit and will be returning to live in London to look for work, but it is nice to have her home for even a short time. Our youngest daughter starts her new job this week and has her final exam at school next week, so I guess that it is a new beginning for both of them.

New Challenges

Whilst I was tidying out the spare room I found a notebook with a list of things that I had hoped to achieve this year. Looking through it I was pleased to say that I have completed some of them and am on the way to completing others. I now need to think about new challenges for this year and also for the years to come. My friend wants me to complete a 10k run with her, which will be a challenge as I’m only just managing the whole of Parkrun, which is 5k. In a couple of weeks I am taking part in a 6k run in memory of Jo Cox and will also be singing with Batley Community Choir at the run (obviously not at the same time, I can’t actually speak when I run never mind sing!). We are also singing at a concert on 1st July in aid of Jo’s charities.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

As life goes on

I promised myself at the start of the year that I would write a blog every week and that it should reflect on the things that I have achieved in the course of the year, making each week count , being positive and seeing a good side to things

As I started to write my blog this week, (which is late again for no apparent reason, other than I haven’t got round to doing it) there has been another terrorist attack in the UK, this time in London.

This blog has certainly been a challenge this week. I could find some lovely things to write about my week as I normally do: It was my husband’s birthday and we went out for a lovely meal and to the cinema; I visited my brother and his family and we spent a lovely weekend with them; My youngest daughter has had two interviews this week and has been offered a job and my eldest daughter has gone on holiday having finished her final year at university.

So there are a lot of good things going on in my life at this moment in time, for which I am most grateful, but it is hard not to feel sad and preoccupied with the awful things that are going on in the world and what will have to happen to change these things. Its hard to write a blog about my everyday life without it sounding trivial or unimportant.

Last week I did focus on some of the good things that came out of terrible tragedy and again this week there were amazing acts of bravery and selflessness. There were communities that stood together and refused to be divided by the acts of a small group of individuals. The concert held in Manchester to raise money and pay tribute to the people who had died or were injured was a great way of showing support and defiance.

But one mistake I did make was to read through lots of comments made on social media. I generally try to avoid reading people’s political rants and scathing comments about the emergency services or using what is going on as a platform to generate hatred, but for some reason on Saturday evening I found myself reading social media as the events unfolded in London. What had happened was shocking enough, but some people’s reactions to it were horrendous. I accept that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I wonder whether some of these people have any heart, compassion or an ounce of intelligence to put on some of the things that they did. But then again, more fool me for wasting my energy in reading them.

So I close my blog this week with hope that there will not be another event like this in the near future, or even at any time and that those groups of people who are teaching tolerance and coming together win out over those who want to cause harm and distress to others, whether that be through their actions, lack of actions or words.

Here’s to a happy and peaceful week.

Where’s my Blog?

As this was a Bank Holiday weekend, I did think that my blog might be a day late, but for some reason it’s actually two days late. It certainly feels like this will be one of those weeks when I am constantly on the wrong day. It certainly feels like it has been a long week. There was so much going on that it was sometimes hard to believe that it all happened in a week.

A sad day for Manchester

It was shocking to wake up on Tuesday and hear the news of the terrorist attack at the concert in Manchester. You could not help but be moved and feel great sadness for those involved. As the news unfolded during the day, there were some terribly sad scenes of people who had been injured and terrified when they should have been having a safe journey home after a great night out.

I think what was also extremely important to show, was all the good deeds that came from such a terrible incident. People who helped strangers, protected their own children and other people’s children, those who took drinks and staff for the emergency services and people who gave their time and skills for free.

Whatever is behind these terrible attacks, whether we apportion blame to the individuals, a particular group or whether we blame the government doesn’t really matter. It certainly doesn’t help those involved. However those good deeds, acts of random kindness, people doing the right thing, may help Manchester, the victims and other places, where terrible things have happened, to heal and move on.

The Play That Goes Wrong

On Friday night my husband and I went to the theatre to see “The Play That Goes Wrong”. I originally booked it as I was given theatre tokens as a gift, so I decided that I would book something that I wouldn’t normally go see. I am definitely a musical theatre fan and have only ever been to see a couple of plays. I have usually found them quite interesting, but I am definitely waiting for people to burst into a song and a dance at points.

However, this play was very different. It was so funny all the way through. there were no dull moments, or waiting for something to happen, it was full on from start to finish. It was very old fashioned physical comedy. There was no real swearing or smut involved, just the occasional double entendre. It was a really good night and my sides were aching when we left the theatre, from laughing so much.

A BBQ weekend

It was really nice over the weekend to be invited to a couple of barbeques. The fist was an invite from work and it was really nice to spend the afternoon in the sunshine, with a few of the people from work, having a laugh and chatting about things other than work.

On Sunday we went to my sister in laws for a barbeque. It was a lovely still afternoon and quite warm. We spent the afternoon chatting as a family and also being entertained by my niece’s five year old step son, who was a bundle of energy and kept us all on our toes.

Back on the plan

I started back on the healthy eating this week and felt much better for it. I’ve also carried on walking and doing a bit of running, so certainly feel back in the swing of things. On Saturday I went to park run, but did a different one to the one that I usually do. It was a really lovely run in Oakwell Country Park. We used to go there a lot when the girls were younger. The grounds there are beautiful and it makes me realise how many lovely places there are that are so close to home that we get out of the habit of visiting.

 

 

A strange old week

A sad start to the week

Unfortunately Monday began with a funeral, of one of the lovely gentlemen that I know from church. It was certainly a drop back down to earth after the really exciting and amazing things that have been happening over the last few weeks.

For some unknown reason I woke up on Monday with a croaky voice and by Monday lunchtime my voice had gone completely and I was down to a whisper. It took until Wednesday for my voice to come back again. It was really hard work trying to continue as normal when I couldn’t speak properly, but I’m sure that there were a few people that enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Pride comes before a fall

On Tuesday I went to my usual Slimming World Meeting and was delighted to find out that I have now lost 2 stones. I was really pleased with this result and even more so, having seen someone that I know that I had not seen since before Christmas. They immediately mentioned how much weight I had lost and how good I was looking. This certainly made my day.

For some reason over the next few days I started to eat sweets, chocolate, crisps and all those things that I’ve managed to keep control of over the last few months. I have absolutely no idea why and as I write this blog I am still vowing that tomorrow will be a new start. I have given myself a good talking to and a reminder to be proud of what I have achieved so far, but never to be smug or complacent about it.

A trip to the theatre

On Wednesday evening two of my lovely friends very kindly took me to the theatre in Leeds to see Evita. This was my birthday present from them. We went to Gino Di Campo’s restaurant in Leeds for a lovely meal first.

I had never seen Evita on the stage before, only the fil version with Madonna. The production was excellent, really grabbing the attention. All the performers were really powerful singers and the dancing was impressive. I recognised quite a few of the songs and putting them into context in the show was great.

I don’t think that Evita will ever be my favourite musical, but I really enjoyed it and I’m glad I’ve finally seen it. It was certainly good to see something that I had not seen before.

 

First week back

Sometimes the first week back after your holidays is really difficult. It can be hard to get motivated, you can feel a bit low, or have the holiday blues. Although I was jet lagged initially when I returned home, it has actually been a good week.

And the winner is

On Friday night I attended an awards ceremony at work as I had been nominated for an award. I’m not really an awards kind of person, as I become quite embarrassed and uncomfortable with being praised. This sound a bit weird, but I am quite happy going along doing what I do.

I did feel quite honoured and proud. The nomination was for my work with vulnerable victims. The evening was quite a splendid affair, with dinner and drinks. It reminded me of the BAFTAS or Oscars, where the nominations are shown on a video clip and then the winner is announced on the opening of an envelope.

I didn’t win the award, but it was lovely to be nominated and to hear positive stories about work, rather than the day to day moaning and griping about things, which I am as guilty of as anyone.

A sense of achievement

Yesterday two of my friends and I attended and took part in the Moonwalk in London, in aid of Breast Cancer Charities. My lovely friend has fought a very courageous and dignified battle with breast cancer and I was honoured when she asked me to take part in the walk.

So last Sunday we set about decorating our bras, as the idea is that you complete the walk in a bra. The decorating took most of Sunday, but our team was called “The blue light brigade”, so we decorated the bras in blue sequins, diamante, blue feathers and flashing blue lights.

The walk last night was amazing. the organisation was unbelievable and to see thousands of like minded people all walking together was inspirational. There were hundreds of volunteers who assisted by giving out water, serving food, selling merchandise, directing people, picking up litter and cheering the walkers along as they continued around the route.

The walk was 26 miles around London, through the night. It felt like a long way (well I guess it was!) and it was hard work on the feet, but we kept going. the weather was generally kind to us, being quite mild with only a few showers of rain.

We managed to complete the walk in 9 hours and 18 minutes, which was well within the target that we had set ourselves of between 8 and 10 hours.

It was quite emotional coming over the finishing line, both because of the reason we were there, but also because of the sense of pride in such a great achievement. After a short rest and a cup of tea, we got back on the tube to Kings Cross, then had something to eat before getting back on the train home. Needless to say we slept quite a bit on the train home, but we all arrived safely barring a few aches and pains and blisters. The really great thing is that we have raised over £1000 too, so thank you to all our friends and family who donated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Dreaming- The End – For Now

And so our lovely journey through California is almost over. We fly back to England tomorrow. I feel as if I have been away for months. Although I have missed my family, particularly my girls, I can say that I have enjoyed every single minute.

It would be hard to pick my favourite places or the things that I have enjoyed most, as everything has been so different. Some of the highlights have been; seeing sea life in its natural habitat rather than in zoos or theme parks, the coastline of California which is beautiful, the historic and iconic places we have visited, the food and drink which has been plenty and varied, the people that we have met along the way who on the whole have been friendly, helpful and fascinated with the fact that we come from England.

I’d like to say a big thank you to our friends for making great travel companions. For all the organisation, emails and phone calls and messages that it took to arrange this trip.

Thank you to my husband for driving the nearly 1000 miles and doing a cracking job as well as taking the majority of the photos that I’ve put on my blog.

Also to my brother in law and sister in law, partly because they helped us financially when my husband was off work much longer than anticipated when he had an operation, but mostly because whilst we’ve been on holiday they went to my eldest daughter’s final show at university, standing in for us. I can’t say how much I appreciated this.

Thank you for reading my California blog and making comments. I hope you have all enjoyed it. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it and it will be a great reminder of all the things that we have done on our journey.

I’ll be returning to my usual blog next week, but hopefully will be writing about some further travels in the future.

California Dreaming (11)

So yesterday we began the last leg of our journey travelling to San Diego. Along the way we passed and stopped at some of the most beautiful beaches and coves that I have ever seen, Newport Beach, Balboa Beach and Laguna Beach.

We saw pelicans flying in formation, using the warm air currents to fly. they looked unreal, like remote controlled or CGI. It was an amazing site.

After we arrived at the Hotel in San Diego (The Hilton at Mission Beach), we spent the afternoon lazing by the big pool and reacharging our batteries for our last day in California.

In the evening we went out for Somthing to eat. It was the first time that we had had to drive to restaurants, but we found a nice Italian, Pomodoro Ristorante, where we had a lovely meal at a decent price.

San Diego

This morning we set off for a tour of USS Midway. this was something that my husband really wanted to do. Before we started the tour we had breakfast and walked along the bay. One of the loveliest sights I’ve seen was the statue of Embracing Peace, which is the iconic statue of the sailor kissing the nurse at the end of the war. It looks beautiful with the backdrop of the harbour.

I really enjoyed the tour of USS Midway as I did not really know what to expect. The ship is huge and it is really beyond my comprehension as to how it stays afloat, especially with all the aircraft, sailors, fuel and other supplies that it holds.

The tour is partly an audio tour, but is interspersed with ex midway sailors recounting their service on the ship and explaining how it all worked. It took us about 3 hours to do the full tour, but it was so interesting that it passed really quickly. Amazingly the lovely gentleman that did part of our tour originated from Wigglesworth in Yorkshire which is where our friends live.

Afterwards we walked to the Gaslamp District (via The Cheescake factory – because it would be rude not to). This wasn’t really what I expected as i thought it would be more of a pedstrian area and a little bit more old fashioned. It was really for me very much an area of bars and restaurants.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

What a little gem this place was. It was kind of a last minute decision to just go and have a look, as it was our last afternoon. This is a little village, which held some of the first settlers in california. It has really unusual shops, restauarants, a village sqaure and also a number of buildings which house museums. Unfortunately by the time we arrived the museums were ready for closing, so we didn’t get to see them all. It is free to visit and also free to park at the Trolley station just next door.

We spent a couple of hours wandering round, looking at the lovely buildings. the people who work there dress in costume and there was even a Sherriff watching over everything.

We rounded off our day by eating at The Cosmopolitan hotel. This has an old fashioned sallon at the front and through the back, a courtyard where food is served. The food was excellent (as were the cocktails). This was a really lovely end to our last full day in california.

 

California Dreaming (10)

Well today has been a real eye opener. I’ve seen some things I never expected to see. I also was surprised by some of the most famous Los Angeles sights, unfortunately not always in a good way.

Los Angeles sight seeing

Today we took a tour of the city with Surf City Tours who are based in Santa Monica. I have to say that the service that they provided was excellent. Our guide Garrett was excellent, both in his knowledge and his manner. The tour was on a small open sided covered bus with only six of us, so felt very personal. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to visit the city.

Our first part of the tour was around the areas where the stars live and fiming locations, with our guide pointing out various houses along the way and giving various funny stories.

Our first stop was The Grove and Farmers Market, which is a very pretty area, with a lovely garden area, high street shops and then the Farmers Market, which housed food of every description.

We then moved on to the Hollywood sign. Now this was the first surprise, that you can’t actually get anywhere near it. Maybe that was quite naive of me. However we went to a great viewing point, where you could see the city in all its glory and also take photos with the Hollywood sign in the background.

Our next stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now again I  may have been a bit naive but I expected this to be a very glamorous area, as you see it on the TV. It was actually (no offence) quite dirty, very busy and at the side of a main road. It’s also crowded with people trying to sell you cd’s, beggars and people dressed up wanting you to pay them to take a photo. The best part was seeing the hand and footprints outside the Chinese theatre. The whole thing was very interesting, but not at all what I expected.

On the other hand, our next stop lived up to expectations, Rodeo Drive. Very exclusive shops, fancy cars, very clean and well kept. We walked down the street, but didn’t go in any of the shops or make any purchases.

Santa Monica Pier

After the tour we walked along the pier at Santa Monica. This was the kind of thing that you expect of a pier and we even had a ride on the Ferris wheel, well because you just have to.

Venice Beach/Muscle Beach

We had read the guide books and knew that this would be a “diverse” place, but nothing could have prepared us for this. There were craft stalls, which were genuinely pretty, but these were interspersed with bizarre characters, selling odd bits or simply asking for your money.

It felt as if you needed to hold on to your bag/wallet/camera at all times. I expected bohemian or even gothic, but this was something else. Many of the people appeared to be homeless, have mental health issues, drugs/alcohol problems or all of them.

Muscle Beach was a fenced in area housing an outside gym. There were no bronzed gods, no roller skating beach babes and no feeling of health and outdoor life.

We walked back to the car as quickly as possible. I’ve worked in some scary places in my time, but this beat them all hands down.

I know that tourists will continue to visit, just as we did, but if I could give any advice to anyone travelling I would say give it a miss. That’s the only place I would say this about in the whole of our travels here in California.

 

California Dreaming (9)

We’ve had a great day today at Universal Studios in Los Angeles today. We arrived as the park opened and left as it was closing (we like to get our money’s worth, after all we’re Yorkshire folk)

First stop Hogwarts

As we had tickets that allowed us into the park an hour early, when only The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is open, that gave us a chance to have a look around and ride on the Forbidden Journey. This was so much fun and we had a great laugh.

We then went on the Studio Tour, which is a 45 minute visit around the lots where filming has taken place for some many films in the past. We also got to see some of the sets and special effects.

Next was a ride on the Simpsons and a visit to the stunt show Waterworld.  Again both were really impressive

Bravery in the Walking Dead

Although I am the only one in our group who watches The Walking Dead, I persuaded everyone else to go with me. I had scared myself half to death before I even got in there!

Basically you walk through a building which has been taken over by the dead. Much of it is animated, but there are also live actors who jump out at you or reach to grab you as you go past.

Needless to say I gripped my husband’s hand and screamed my head off all the way round. Our friends were behind, but the funniest thing was when I turned round, a total stranger who had gone in on her own was clinging on to them for dear life!

By the time we came our we were all a little hoarse and slightly hysterical.

Rides and characters galore

The rest of the afternoon was spent travelling on the other rides, including Despicable Me, The Mummy, Transformers and Jurassic Park. It would be hard to say which was my favourite as I enjoyed them all.

Around the park we also met a number of characters, which all added to the fun of the day.  We also visited the special effects show.

All in all we had a great day. We didn’t reallly have to queue for anything and we got to do and see everything that we wanted to.

At the end for the day we drove back to the hotel, showered and then went down for pizza, sitting outside by one of the fire pits. A perfect end to a perfect day