A Winter Adventure in Lapland (7)

Unfortunately today is our last full day in Lapland. Luckily we still have an activity booked and there’s also something that we still haven’t tried in Muotka. There’s also still another evening so a possibility that we may see the aurora again.

Husky sledding

Today we were up and out early, in the dark as we were booked in for a visit to Husky and Co. We travelled by mini bus and it was only a short journey.

On arrival, we were introduced to the guides and given instructions on how to drive the sled. Basically the dogs will pull the sled whenever you take your foot offf the brake. Other than this the driver stands on two footrests, whilst the passenger sits in the sled.

Andrew was the driver. The dogs were keen to set off as soon as you got into the sled, so he had to keep his feet firmly on the brake until the group were ready to set off.

Once unleashed they set off on the track through the forest. They go amazingly fast on the flat, too fast down I’ll, requiring lots of braking, but on the uphills Andrew had to step off with one foot and push sling like you would with a scooter.

I really enjoyed it but it did make me a little bit nervous at times, especially on the downhills when even the strongest of braking didn’t seem to slow the dogs that much.

After the sled through the woods we were invited into the wooden building where there were a couple of roaring fires and we were given salmon soup, potato bread, hot juice, coffee, cinnamon buns and biscuits.

We were then taken to see the puppies, some of which were only 4 weeks old.  They were beautiful. All the dogs seemed well looked after and eager to meet people. They seemed happiest when they running and although I had reservations at first, I was comfortable with the set up.

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Sledging – don’t remember it being this hard as a child!

The only thing that we had not done whilst we had been here was take the sledges down the toboggan run. This afternoon we decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately neither Nick or Andrew we’re feeling very well, so Julie and I braved the slippery slope whilst Andrew took some photos.

its amazing how things that didn’t feel very scary as a child make you feel really nervous as a grown up. I was too wary to go from the top of the run so managed half way down. The hardest part was getting out of the sledge at the bottom and walking back up the hill with the sledge once you reached the bottom.

After a couple of runs, with lots of screaming on the way down and hysterical laughter at the bottom, covered in snow and very hot, we decided to give in. It’s definitely a pastime for children, but was great fun!

Aurora lights the skies again

On the way for our meal this evening, the aurora made another appearance. It was very faint at first but during our meal the sleet kept going off so we were in and out looking up to the skies.

The light display was amazing for several hours this evening and was brighter last night and was even dancing at one point. Apart from Andrew and Nick not feeling well it was a superb way to end the holiday.

So now we are on our way to the airport after an early start. As we head for home I am so glad that I had this experience. The hotel has been wonderful, the staff amazing and it’s been worth every penny.

Goodbye Muotka,  thank you for a wonderful holiday

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (5)

This morning was slightly overcast, but the snow had stopped and the temperature had raised overnight to a much warmer just below freezing. The heavy snow overnight had left another couple of inches of soft powder on the paths and it feels a little bit like the buildings are going to disappear completely if it continues. We are told by the staff that so much snow is unusual for this time of year, but it is amazing to see.

A snow mobile journey

Todays activity was a journey on the snow mobiles, to a reindeer farm. We all donned the layers, along with balaclavas and helmets. We looked a bit like the riot police in the full gear.

Being on the snow mobiles, in the dry slightly warmer weather was an amazing experience. The snowy landscape is so beautiful and a little surreal, more like a painting or a storybook. I chose to sit on the back, rather than driving as Andrew loved the driving and I was comfortable and probably safer on the back. We followed the guide along the snow mobile tracks for about 16k.

Reindeer farm

The reindeer farm we visited was a traditional Sami reindeer farm. On arrival we were introduced to the reindeer and were then taken for a short ride in a sledge pulled by one of the reindeer.

We then had a demonstration of reindeer lassoing (using reindeer horn on a block on the floor and thankfully not a real reindeer!), then people were allowed to have a go.

Afterwards we went to the hut where we were treated to hot tea and cake and one of the Sami ladies talked to us about the reindeer and the Sami way of life. She showed us reindeer antlers, which are naturally shed and passed them round for us to look at. She explained her traditional beautiful bright coloured dress and how different areas will wear different colours. The jewellery that they wear is handed down through generations. The ladies also wear a traditional hat which we were told, depending on how you wear it, indicates whether you are married or single.

The best soup in Lapland

It was then back on the snow mobiles to travel to Savottakahvila restaurant for lunch. We were told they serve the best soup in Lapland. It was definitely amazing soup. I had tomato and vegetable whilst everyone else had elk soup (it was so good we all had second helpings). There was bread, rye bread or crackers. This was then followed by hot coffee and Jaffa cakes. Absolutely lovely food and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

After lunch we were back on the snow Mobiles to make the journey back to the hotel. It was just starting to get dark as we returned and just after we got back inside it began snowing again.

It was an amazing day and an experience I will remember for a long time, made even better by the great company and the lovely guides, who kept everyone safe and laughed along with our banter.

What’s happened to the snow?

After our evening meal we stayed in the hotel for a few hours, having a few drinks and playing cards. At about 1145pm we decided to go to bed as we are getting up earlier tomorrow. When we came out the temperature had risen to +1degree. The huge piles of snow on the trees had completely gone and if you looked at the trees you would have not known it had snowed at all. There is still tonnes of snow on the ground, but it is now much wetter underfoot.0F179D56-9B3D-4E54-893D-B82729B4F056.jpeg

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (4)

New years day was another bright day, once it became light at around 10am. It’s was a freezing cold morning, at -16 degrees. We went to the hotel and had breakfast and then booked out the skis for the morning.

Skiing to Kakslauttanen

Once we had all got our skis on and the required layers of clothing, we set off on our cross country adventure to Kakslauttanen (or Klatterslappen as we keep mistakingly call it).

This is another small holiday village approximately 3km from Muotka. We managed fairly well in the tracks, but when it comes to crossing the roads, or areas where there are no tracks, it’s a little more difficult and there were a few falls along the way. The hardest part for me was going down hill as it feels like you build up a tremendous amount of speed. I resorted to coming down them sideways, to avoid quite some much speed. I did manage one hill, but screamed coming down as if I was skiing down a mountain off piste, when it was actually just a small hill.

It was so cold that ice crystals formed in any area where you were warm, or where yo were breathing. We had ice crystals on our hats, on my eye lashes and when you breathe through your nose the hairs in your nose freeze. However with all the effort of skiing you still remain warm inside all the clothes.

Once we reached the village, we called in for a hot chocolate and a look around the gift shop. We then put all the layers and skis back on and headed back for lunch. The ski home didn’t seem to take any time at all.

After lunch we had a restful afternoon and as it started to come dark around 2pm, it makes it feel really late. Afternoon naps are definitely required, especially if you are going out in the evenings.

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Aurora hunt by car

After our evening meal, we were then booked to go out aurora hunting in the mini bus. By this time it was snowing heavily and we knew that there was little chance of seeing them.

The trip out was worth it, just to see the amount of snow falling and the amazing drier, who seemed undeterred by the blizzard and carried on regardles, stopping just once to clear the ice from the wipers.

We stopped at a couple of points to get out and look at the sky, but due to the amount of snow there were no auroras to be seen. The temperature reached -21 degrees at one point.

We were provided with the customary hot chocolate and cookies and then returned home at midnight.

We have a couple more trips out to look for auroras, but as it’s a natural phenomenon there are no guarantees, but perhaps that means we have to come again if we don’t see one

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A Winter Adventure in Lapland (3)

New Years Eve day dawned (at about 10am), bright and crystal clear and a slightly chilly -14 degrees. It was so lovely so see the daylight. Although it’s light, I am told that the sun never really comes above the horizon at this time of year, but it has a beautiful twilight type glow.

We had a lovely breakfast and then made our way to Our first activity.

It has really great health benefits – honestly!

We made our way down to the smoke sauna, where the intention is to sit in the sauna and then run out in the snow and plunge into a hole that is cut in the frozen river. Apparently it has great health benefits.

Andrew was full of cold, so decided to be official photographer. The rest of us egged each other on to be brave enough to have a go.

We got changed in a draughty wooden hut and then went into the sauna. It was so dark it took a while for  your eyes to accustom, but once they did it was fine.

After sitting in the sauna, we then bravely ran to the river, wearing swimwear, hats and socks. I was first to dip in but wasn’t brave enough to go all the way in. Running back up to the sauna in wet socks was an experience as ice cubes form underneath as you run. Nick and Julie both managed a full plunge and back into the sauna. Once back in, we were grave enough to give it another go and this time I managed the full dip.

It was a really invigorating experience. You would expect that coming out of a sauna into the cold would feel horrendous, but you are so warm that it takes a while for your body to feel the cold. As you dip in the pool it numbs your body, but you feel so lively and awake once you get back in the sauna. Afterwards your skin really tingles and glows. I would definitely recommend it if you are brave enough to try.

A cosy afternoon

After a warm shower and a change of clothes we went for a short walk around the hotel grounds before going for lunch. As the sun started to set, the sky began to glow a beautiful red.  By 2pm it was almost dark again and we spent the afternoon keeping cosy by the fire.

My first experience of snow mobiling

Our late evening activity was an aurora hunt on a snow mobile. After putting on an extra couple of layers of clothing and donning the new correctly fitting snowsuit, we set off for our instructions in driving a snow mobile. Needless to say I chose not to drive and decided to sit on the back whilst Andrew drove.

It was pitch dark driving through the forest and icy cold. The guide said that it was probably about -22 degrees as the temperature in the nearest tow, Saariselka was -12 and it can be up to 10 degrees colder in muotka.

Through the headlights you could see the snow glistening on the ground and when we came to a clearing and turned the engines off, there was no sound at all. The sky was amazingly clear and the stars were vivid in the sky.

The guide lit a fire and boiled up a kettle of hot water, then made everyone a cup of hot chocolate. It was then back on the snow mobiles to the hotel, in time for the New Year celebrations.

A New Years Eve to remember

Back at the hotel, there was a glass of bubbly for everyone and a buffet of snacks. At just before midnight we all went outside, where there was a firework display. After wishing everyone a Happy New Year, it was back inside to warm up.

Just short of an hour later, one of the staff members wanted us all to share in a Spanish New Year tradition and gave us all a cup with 12 grapes in. At midnight Spanish time, we then all had to eat a grape at each chime. This is supposed to bring you look for the next year. I managed to eat the first few, but then ended up putting them in my mouth and not chewing them quickly, so looked a bit like a squirrel storing food for the winter.

At this point we decided that we could probably spend the next few hours celebrating New Year for every nationality in the hotel, but decided to call it a day at 2am, when it was New Year in England.

Definitely a different way to celebrate New Year and one to remember!

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (2)

After a good night’s sleep I awoke at 6am to the sound of the snow plough going past the cabin. It was still pitch dark and had been snowing overnight. Once the snow plough had gone past it was calm and peaceful again. After a leisurely shower and then piling on lots of clothing, we went up to the centre for breakfast. It wa a very mild morning at -2 degrees. It was still snowing and snow had been forecast for most of the day.

There was a lovely choice of food for breakfast and we then went back to the cabin to get ready for our first activity.

Cross Country Skiing

I tried on the enourmous snow suit and struggled to walk in it as the crotch was down by my knees and the legs were about 6 inches too long! I went back to the clothing centre, but they did not have any in a slightly smaller size that would still fit me, so I was provided with a belt to pull it in and hold it up around the middle. Luckily this did the job whilst I was skiing, but I still couldn’t manage to walk in it.

one of the hardest jobs of the day, was getting the skis on whilst wearing so much clothing. Once we all managed to get sorted,  our group set off following the guide along the ready made tracks in the snow.

Once I got a rhythm going I was fine, unless I lost my concentration and then I would start to wobble. Luckily I managed not to fall and the group kept up a steady pace, into the Urho Kekkonen National Park. It was snowing gently and I was absolutely melting in the snow suit. The guide did say that they are more useful for minus ten temperatures rather than the current mild weather.

My husband managed to break the strap on his skis, so had to walk the last few hundred metres to the refreshemnet stop. In the National Park we stopped by a fireplace (not lit) where we had hot juice and cookies. Most of the cookies were fed to the Siberian jays which were very people friendly and were happy to eat the crumbs out of your hand.

After this lovely rest and a change of skis for Andrew, it was back on the tracks to ski our way to the hotel. A quick change of clothing followed by a well deserved lunch and I was happy to find that my fit bit recorded 21000 steps!

A forest walk in snow shoes

After lunch, we were booked in for a lesson in snow shoes. I had learned my lesson from the morning and put on a few less layers, minus the snow suit.

The snow shoes were no easier to get on your feet, but were a little bit easier to manage once you had them on.

We set off following the guide, initially on the flattened snow track. She advised us at this point to stay on the track, as although we were walking on the frozen river, there were places where it wasn’t frozen.

Once we were in the wood she then suggested that we have a go on the crash snow off the track. This was really hard to do and it is difficult to tell how deep the snow is. At one point I stepped in snow up to my waist, tried to put my hand down to push myself up, but again disappeared into the snow. Even trying to use the poles didn’t help. Eventually after gettin over my fits of laughter I was helped up by my husband and a lovely lady in the group. I managed the rest of the walk without incident.

We stopped in the woods at one of the Kota’ s, which is a teepee style building built by the reindeer farmers for shelter. We stopped in the shelter for hot juice and cookies (there is a bit of a theme appearing here) and then we carried on walking through the woods back to the hotel

Sauna and snow

After a short rest and a warm drink and snacks, we then decided to use the sauna. Each of the cabin has its own sauna, but we all went into the one in our friend’s cabin.  I had to sit on the lower deck as I cannot bear the hottest heat at the top of the sauna. I was then challenged to run out into the snow and rub the snow on my skin as it’s really good for you. Amazingly, it isn’t quite as cold as you would think, running out intimate the snow in bare feet and a swimmingly costume! It did make me feel ver invigorated. Things are looking positive for the planned sauna adventure tomorrow then!

We had a lovely meal in the evening, followed by a couple of drinks and a game of cards. At this point I was very relaxed (possibly slightly drunk as I am a lightweight!), so it was back to the cabin, where I slept like a baby.

A winter adventure in Lapland (1)

On our latest travel adventures, we have decided to come to Muotka Wilderness Lodge Hotel in Finland for a 7 day adventure. We booked with Inghams Travel, choosing a package where everything including all the activities. The friends that we have travelled with have been here before and highly recommended it.

The flight was a chartered flight with Jet2, at 7am (U.K. Time) which was on time and arrived promptly at Kittilia Airport at 12 noon (Finnish time, 2 hrs ahead). However because the airport was so busy we had to sit on the plane for half an hour as there wasn’t room for us.

When we actually got into the airport it was chaos, absolutely packed with people arriving from different fligh s and only two baggage carousels. About an hour and a half later, we managed to retrieve our luggage and made our way to the transfer coach. Unfortunately we then waited an hour for other passengers, before we finally set off on the three hour transfer to Muotka.

Well worth the wait

The drive to the Wilderness Lodge was a lengthy one, but well worth the wait. The driver took us through piles of snow on the side of the road which were taller than me. There was some snow on the roads (enough to have me refusing to drive if it had been on the roads at home)

when we arrived at the hotel it was like stepping into a Christmas card. Everywhere was completely covered in snow, lots of snow! We went into the lodge and were given a welcome talk by Nina, the manager. We were allocated our lodges and then took our luggage on a sledge to the cabin.

The accommodation is absolutely beautiful – wooden lodges set in a snowy Forrest. There is a small kitchen ar a, a wooden bed in the middle of the room, a bathroom and sauna. The room was lovely, warm and inviting. After a quick look round and dropping off the luggage, it was back to the hotel centre for our evening meal.

We all had onion soup with fresh homemade bread. I followed mine with salmon and potatoes with salad. Everyone else had moose stew, which I was told was very tender and tasty.

After our meal we went to get kitted out with all our winter gear. For some reason my snow suit appeared to be for an 8ft 20 stone rugby player, but I was told it needed room for layers! I’m not sure how my thermals are going to make me any taller, but more about that later.

So after a long day travelling, it was back to the lovely warm cabin and the big wooden bed, where I fell asleep in no time. Absolute silence and complete darkness-heaven!

A Long Weekend In London

I had arranged to go to London to visit my eldest daughter who moved back there in March. She came home last summer after working abroad, but it was always her intention to go back down to London when she had saved up enough for a deposit. She had come home a couple of weeks ago as she went to look at bridesmaids dresses with her cousin who is getting married next year. Other than that I had not seen her since March, so I was really looking forward to seeing her and spending some time in London.

A Relaxing Train Journey

My husband normally drives us down to London, but on this occasion I thought it would be nice to travel by train. I booked the tickets in advance which is always much cheaper and you also book seats which means you are not going to end up standing all the way. The journey from Wakefield to London Kings Cross is only 2 hours and it was a really smooth, easy journey.

We arrived in Kings Cross at 3 and then took the underground to where our daughter lives on the outskirts of London. We had time for something to eat and a quick freshen up before we headed back out to the theatre

The Book Of Mormon

I absolutely love The Book Of Mormon. It is such clever writing and the songs are amazing. I have seen it once before, but my husband hasn’t. Once again the performances from everyone were amazing. The singing and acting is superb and the dancing is very slick. It’s a real mood lifter and has a good moral, despite the adult themes and very sensitive subject matter. I was so glad that I got to see it again and I certainly wasn’t disappointed the second time around.

After the theatre we walked in to Leicester Square to have a drink at one of the bars. It was still really warm and there were lots of people still around. We got a round of drinks and sat outside one of the bars. It was a lovely evening and it was great just people watching.

Pride In London

The following day was the Pride Parade in Central London . It’s something that I have wanted to see for quite a while, especially as my youngest daughter has been to the Leeds Pride over the last couple of years and has said what an amazing experience it is.

We travelled down to Trafalgar Square, where there was live music playing and we were able to sit on the steps and watch it on the big screen. Once we knew that the parade was approaching we walked down to the road. The parade was amazing, with all different walks of life represented. The crowd was huge (the news said the following day that there were 1.5 million people there!) It was great to see people dressed up, joining in the music and celebrations and cheering the parade on.

It had a real feel of celebration to it, but also a really serious message about tolerance, acceptance and understanding of other people’s lives. I have been fortunate to love and be in a relationship for many years with someone who is accepted by my friends, family, work, faith and society in general. I know that some of my friends are not so fortunate and that life can sometimes be really difficult for them. It would be an amazing world if people were free to love the people that they love, without being judged or condemned.

9 to 5

That evening we went to see another theatre production, 9 to 5. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I have to say that it was amazing. The singing was impressive as was the dancing. The story was really easy to follow and it was also very funny, but with a really topical theme of equality. One of the most impressive performances was by Bonnie Langford, who is so fit and flexible and such a strong performer, as well as being really funny. I was also impressed with Amber Davies, who had an amazing voice and was so much better than her “Love Island” persona. Again it was a really uplifting show and so enjoyable, leaving me feeling very upbeat and happy.

Red Bull Soapbox Race

On Sunday we travelled to Alexandra Palace to watch the Red Bull Soapbox Race. We have loved watching this as a family when it is on the TV and we have always said that it would be great to go and watch it live.

After a bit of a walk to the venue from the underground station, we arrived at Alexandra Palace. The day was amazing, really well organised, well set out and very entertaining. We managed to get a spot where we could see the start of the track where the teams do a short performance, we could see them coming down the track and then over the first water jump. We could then see the rest of the race on a big screen.

For anyone who does not know what the race is about, it is basically teams that build a structure on wheels and then push it down a big ramp, where it picks up speed and has to be steered through obstacles and over various jumps. Needless to say, some of them crash, some of them fall apart, but some of them do make it to the bottom in one piece. It was a great day and really amusing.

Heading Back Home

Om Monday, after a lovely breakfast it was time to head back home.  We got the train back to Wakefield and were home by the late afternoon. We quickly unpacked and put some washing in. I felt like I had had a really long weekend and packed so much in to it.  But by this point I had blisters on my feet and felt like I needed a rest before going back to work! Well worth it though

 

 

 

A Short Break In Amsterdam (2)

What a beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam! We had a lazy morning, as we didn’t have any plans for all in the day, but had booked things later on.

Canal Cruise

We had opted to book a canal cruise, as this was a good way of  getting around and seeing Amsterdam from a different point of view. We booked a joint ticket which included a trip to the Ice Bar (as recommended by our youngest daughter)

The cruise was with Lovers Canal Cruises and was an hour long with an audio commentary throughout the journey. The city was beautiful in the sunlight and we learned more about the history of Amsterdam and the origins of some of the famous landmarks.

Ice Bar

Our youngest daughter had recommended the Ice Bar to us, so we decided to give it a try. This is a really clever gimmick, which works really well. You have to book a slot in advance as the bar is only small. On arrival you are greeted by pirates who try and stir up the group and then you are given a coat and gloves and coins to obtain two drinks in the ice bar itself and one in the loung afterwards. Inside the bar you are in what is basically an enormous freezer, with ice sculptures and flashing lights The drinks come in ice glasses and you can choose from shots or beer.

Afterwards you can sit in the pirate themed loung and have another drink for free and purchase further drinks if you like. It was a fun event and we hung around in the lounge for a while afterwards as it is a great place to people watch, particularly when some stoned young man wearing the coat from the bar, tries to leave several times and  wonders why the security alarm goes off every time!

Red Light District

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the red light district as the image you get from TV is always showing a very seedy dark side, usually on crime dramas.

We had walked down the streets the previous day, at around lunchtime, but decided to have a look later in the day. We actually did two visits, one in the late afternoon and one when it got dark.

The area is much smaller than I excpected and certainly has a different feel after dark. After a visit to one of the sex shops and a browse in a few of the windows we veered from humour, to surprise and at times a feeling of sadness. Having worked with vulnerable people and victims of sexual crime for years I can’t really decide whether prostitution is best in the open in a controlled area. Does this make it safer? I wondered what the girls were thinking and what brought them here. looking at them it felt like they would rather be elsewhere and had that “Any chance of finishing early, I’ve got an appointment at the dentist” look that most people have who aren’t fully enjoying their days work.

We had a couple of drinks in the Excalibur Bar, which has motorbikes and suits of armour everywhere. Both my husband and my friend were more interested in the motorbikes, the construction work in the canals and the cake shops, which I think can only be a good thing.

We then looked for something to eat and opted for a place called Getto, which was advertised as an LGBTQ bar but was shown on trip advisor as having great reviews for food. It was absolutely superb food with really nice staff and a very relaxed atmosphere. It was a really good price too.

Aftwr another busy day we went back to the hotel for a shower and then a couple of drinks in the Sky Bar.

A Short Break In Amsterdam

I haven’t written my blog for some time , I think I had lost my motivation for writing, but now on a short break to Amsterdam, it feels like a good place to start agin.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam before. I traveled here with my husband and two of our friends. We flew early in the morning, but unfortunately spent two hours sitting on the pane before it took off as one of the runways in Amsterdam. In any event we arrived by midday in a cold and windy Amsterdam.

Amazing transport system

We were booked in to stay at the Westcord Fashion Hotel, a very bright and quite quirky hotel, with really comfortable rooms, gorgeous bathrooms and a great Sky bar on the top floor. It is out of town, but very close to the tram stop which takes us straight to town and all the well known tourist areas. The tram is impressively efficient, running regularlythroughoutbthe day and always appears clean. All the stops have didgital announcements and there is a conductor on board who sits behind what looks like a doctors reception desk. We bought a pass for 4 days, which cost us €24 each, which is amazing value and being true Yorkshire folk, we made sure we got our money’s worth.

A first look at Amsterdam

Our first outing on the tram was to Leidesplein, where we stopped off for lunch. We then took another tram to the old town, where we wondered through the various streets, trying to get our bearings and work out what we would like to see over the next few days. The canals and bridges are beautiful and although it’s common knowledge that cycling is a common form of transport, I couldn’t get over the thousands of bicycles parked up at the side of each road, particularly near the station

Later in the day we went back to the hotel, had a swim in the pool and then went up to the Sky Bar for a couple of cocktails, before getting a great night’s sleep in the lovely big comfy bed.

Anne Frank House

We had booked tickets in advance as we knew that the museum gets very busy and only allows limited visitors each day.

We went on the tram to town and went to the Pancake Bakery for breakfast. This was recommended by someone who our friends had sat next to on the plane. The breakfast was amazing and it was a really lovely atmosphere in the narrow pancake restaraunt, which, by the time we left had people queuing to get in!

We then went to Anne Frank House at our allotted time. The staff there were very welcoming and explained everything as you went in. The annexe rooms have been left empty, but on the walls, information about Anne and her family is displayed. There is a full Audio commentaryas you walk around the house. There is a really respectful air to the visit, in keeping with the subject matter. You get a real feel of what life was like as you travel through the house, into tiny rooms and up and down steep staircases.

It is a really good place to visit, interesting but leaving you feeling quite somber. We talked afterwards about how shocking it all was and it left us feeling a little sad, because looking at the world today we haven’t really changed very much. You only have to look at TV and social media to know that there are still many people in the world who promote hate based on the fact that others are different to them. A very sobering thought.

The flower market, Red Light District and library

After the visit we then walked to the flower market and wondered through the various stalls selling lots of tulips (real, plastic, wooden) and gifts based on a Dutch theme. Where the flowers are real, there’s is a lovely fresh smell. The colours are amazing.

We then continued walking and went through the Red Light District. I’m not really sure what I was expecting. I’d seen photos of it, but mainly taken at night. During the day it looks like most other streets, until you read the signs and look in the shop, windows, which sell an assortment of sex related items. There are adverts for all sorts of live shows, but there was only one girl in one of the windows. I am curious though and will probably go and have another look during an evening to get more of an idea of what it’s really like.

I had been told that the library was an amazing building and that the 7th floor has an amazing terrace where you can look out over Amsterdam.

The Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam)is very impressive. It is very modern, airy and bright. The children’s area alone is bigger than most libraries I have seen. The seven floors contain books, reading areas, multi media section and a theatre area.

When you get to the 7th floor, there is a cafe with an outside terrace area which overlooks Amsterdam. On the wall around the edge is information about what you can see from the roof and some of the history of the buildings. Definitely worth a visit!

Our next stop was food and we opted to visit the Chinese restaurant near the Library, The Sea Palace. This is a huge floating restaurant. The food was excellent and there is a great view across the water, with boats passing regularly.

Feeling full, we made our way back on the tram to the hotel, for a bit of a rest and maybe a further visit to the Sky Bar

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Everyone’s Talking About….

Well another month has gone by and a few things have changed. We have had another baby in the family, which is always a lovely thing.  She is my great step-niece (if that’s an actual thing) I haven’t met her yet, but from the photographs she looks beautiful, so it will be lovely to see her. Unfortunately last night my brother told me that she is in hospital, so I’m keeping my fingers (and everything else crossed) that she is okay.

My eldest daughter has returned to live at home, after working abroad for a few months, she was really unhappy, so is now back with us. It’s nice to have her home, but I’m sure it won’t be long before she finds some work again.

A trip to Portugal

As our daughter was working out in Portugal, my husband and I decided to go out and visit her for a few days. We stayed at the Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa in  Albufeira. The hotel was really lovely, set in really beautiful grounds with a really big pool. The rooms were really nice and we had a room overlooking the pool. We only had breakfast there, which was amazing. There was some much delicious food to choose from, both healthy and not quite so healthy.

When we left the UK the weather was amazingly hot, so arriving in Portugal to an overcast, but warm day was a little bit disappointing, but as the day wore on, the sun came out and it stayed hot, but quite windy for the rest of the days we were there.

Albufeira was quite nice, although quite a busy place. We only got to see a small part of it over a few days, so it’s really difficult to give a proper opinion. Maybe we’ll go back one day and see a bit more of it.

Everyone’s talking about Jamie

On Sunday afternoon I went to see Everyone’s Talking About Jamie. This was recorded from the theatre, but shown at the cinema. I have heard some of the music from it previously and knew that it was about a sixteen year old boy who has the dream of becoming a drag queen.

I was absolutely blown away by the show. Everything about it was absolutely amazing, from the set, the singing, acting and dancing. Everyone who was in it was so talented. The story has you laughing one minute and crying the next. It is a really feel good show, but with the message that you should follow your dreams and accept people for who they are.

I have to say that I would love to see this live now at the theatre, so I’ll add this to my “must see” list.