A Break At Center Parcs Whinfell Forest

When I retired in January 2020, I wanted to treat my family to a special holiday, so we booked to go to Las Vegas and New York. Sadly due to the pandemic, this got cancelled. After some discussion about waiting and rebooking, we decided that none of us knows what may happen in the future. With that in mind, we booked a break to Center Parcs, initially for February 2021, but this also got postponed and we finally managed to get there in October. I went with my husband, our eldest daughter and her friend, and our youngest daughter and her boyfriend. It was a brilliant weekend and well worth the wait.

An Afternoon Of Laughter

We arrived slightly late at Whinfell Foret, due to being stuck in traffic for a while. Once we had checked in, we were straight to the pool, as we had booked a session for the afternoon. The “tropical Paradise” is a large swimming area under a dome. There are slides and chutes, as well as a wave pool and a rapids area. We did spend a fair amount of our time in the outdoor pool, which is a tempting tropical temperature on a fresh autumn day.

We left the pool area a couple of hours later, as we could now make our way to the lodge. Some of us walked up, whilst the others went to bring the car with all our belongings. It seemed like a long walk on that first afternoon, but once we knew our way around the forest paths, the walk seemed to get shorter each time.

The lodge was absolutely spotlessly clean. we quickly allotted the three bedrooms and each one had a bathroom, so we all had our own spaces to retreat to. We unpacked some of our things and then it was off to our next activity – football pool.

The sports area was nice and quiet, so we were soon on the “pool table” and were told we were the last spot of the day, so could stay as long as we wanted. The object of the game is to kick a white ball which then knocks one of the coloured ball into one of the pockets. The same rules as normal pool, but using your feet instead. Sounds simple and in theory it was, but as some of us have no coordination, the ball was off the “table” more than it was on. We played in various combinations of teams and there was a lot of witty banter going on. I laughed so much my sides were aching.

It was then back to the lodge, where we cooked pizzas and snacks for tea, had a few drinks, then played Pictionary Air, which involves drawing items for your team to guess, with the added hurdle that you are drawing in the air and only your team can see what you are drawing. again we laughed all the way through.

It was then off to bed for some rest, ready for the activities the next day

Aerial Challenge And Bowling Fun

The following morning, after a freshly cooked breakfast, we set off to take part in the Aerial Challenge, which is an obstacle course high in the trees, ending with a zip wire back into the village area. we were all booked on to take part, but there was a massive shock for me. As you were being fitted for safety gear, you were then placed on the scales as there is a weight limit. It was here where I was told (thankfully very discreetly) that I was too heavy to take part. I was really disappointed, but also extremely angry with myself for once again allow myself to gain so much weight. However I pulled myself together and became the official photographer for the others taking part.

They all managed to complete the course and I was so proud of my youngest daughter who was terrified of being up so high, but managed to calm her nerves and terror with a little coaxing and encouragement. She was so pleased to have overcome her fear and not let it beat her. It was great to hear her screaming in triumph as she came down the zip wire.

We had a break for a coffee and a walk back to the lodge for lunch, before making our way back to the village centre for our ten pin bowling session. It is a while since we have been bowling, but we soon managed to get back into the swing of things and had an amusing afternoon, mostly taking the mickey out of each other.

We then had another session booked in the pool, so we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on the slides and in the pools

We went back to the lodge for a rest and a shower, as we had booked a meal that evening in the Lakeside Lodge. It was clear that there was a shortage of staff, but the service and food was pretty good, until a very large group arrived and we were virtually left in the lurch. As a result of this we didn’t order any desserts or further drinks and made our way up to the sports bar to play pool, this time on a proper table with cues (not that I’m much better at that)

A Not So Restful Sunday

On the Sunday morning, we had split activities at first. Some of us played table tennis, whilst the others went to the golf driving range. I was the only one that knew how to play and particularly how to score, so it was nice to show the young ones how to do it.

We were then booked in for an archery lesson, so we walked to the outdoor activity centre, where we were given an hours lesson in target archery. We all seemed to get the hang of it fairly quickly and took up the challenges set by the instructor, who pleasant enough, but not quite as funny as he seemed to think he was.

There were a few misses of the target by most of us, resulting in a search for arrows in the grass. There was one slightly hairy moment when the instructor shouted “stop”, just as I had pulled my bow back, and I didn’t know what else to do but let go. Luckily it was an amusing moment rather than causing any harm!

We went back to the lodge for lunch and a few games before a sauna and then getting ready for our evening meal. We had booked “Hucks” which was advertised as an American Diner. The waiter came and told us that we had to book everything on the app and then reeled off a list of things that weren’t available. The food was okay, but not very inspiring and definitely felt like it was mass produced. It was definitely overpriced and a little disappointing.

We then went to the bar in the village centre. I wanted to go into the amusements area, where all the coin operated games are (very childish I know, but I still love to do this). We ordered some drinks and sat in the bar, but it had a very different feel to the rest of our experience of Center Parcs and was more like being in a cheap pub, with children running amok whilst their parents drank and ignored them. We decided to go back to the lodge and have a few drinks in peace.

Swimming And Pancakes

On the Monday morning we had a quick breakfast and packed up our lodge, before heading off for another session in the pool. As it was the first session of the morning, it was really quiet, so we decided that we would try all the slides and rides before they got too busy. It was great to be able to just get on and off them as we wanted without queuing. We also managed to get in the jacuzzi whilst it was quiet. We ended the morning with a nice relaxing float in the warm outdoor pool.

We were all then really hungry. My daughter and her boyfriend were desperate to try the pancake house, so we sent my husband in to charm the hostess into getting us a table. He did a magnificent job and in no time at all we were sat enjoying the pancakes with gorgeous sweet unhealthy toppings.

We then went into the sports centre for a few games of pool before setting off home.

I had an amazing weekend and I am sure that the others enjoyed it too. It was so nice to spend time with our daughters and to see the young people getting on so well. The banter and laughter made the weekend so much fun. Despite it being such a busy, active weekend, I was really tired, but also felt refreshed by the whole experience. I feel so blessed to have these wonderful moments with my family and to make such great memories.

A Weekend In Wales

At the beginning of October, we spent a lovely weekend in Anglesey with a group of friends, to celebrate a 60th birthday. It was also my brother-in-laws birthday and a long time since we had been together as a group due to all the restrictions. This was finally the weekend when we could all get together. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out like that, as some of the group were unable to come and some of us that did make it ended up being struck down with the really nasty cold that is going around at the moment. Even with all that, we managed to have a great weekend, helped by the unseasonably warm weather.

Perfect Conditions For Paddle Boarding

On the Friday and Monday, my husband and I decided to visit Llanberis Lake, which is part of Padarn Country Park. There are a number of parking areas, some of which are free. there is also a café and toilets. We parked in one of the areas that was free, bit was also easy to reach the water. There were quite a few paddle boarders, kayakers, and swimmers. It was great to see everyone out on the water. Because the lake is so big, it did not feel crowded at all.

The lake is stunning, with lots of small inlets as well as the wide expanse of open water. As there was very little breeze, it was a great place to practice paddle boarding. I managed to stand up for long periods of time, practicing paddling and turning , which was a great boost to my self confidence. Getting from kneeling to standing is still a little tricky, but I am definitely getting much better and only need a small amount of support from my husband, who steadies the board for me. Hopefully with a little more practice I will be able to improve this even more when we go out again. As the weather was so warm, we were able to spend a great deal of time out on the water without getting chilly.

Meanwhile, our friends went out in their kayak on the water and managed to make their way around most of the lake. My brother in law and sister in law chose to take what they thought would be a gentle walk around the lake, which turned into a five mile hike.

A Longer Walk Than Expected

On Saturday we had a restful morning around the house which we had rented for the weekend. Clynnog House, is situated at Dwyran and is a stunning six bedroom house, which would not look out of place on Grand Designs. However, it was not quite as clean as it should have been, particularly in the current climate. Although the layout and size of the house is impressive, there were some features that were a bit disappointing. We worked around this and enjoyed the space and lovely gardens.

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to take a walk to the beach. On reading the leaflets at the house, we believed we were taking a “short” path to the beach and would then be able to take a slightly different route back to the house. We took the path to the beach, which meanders through the very pretty Newborough Forest. However, the short walk turned out to be over an hour to get to the beach. We had passed another path on the way, so in our wisdom thought we would meet this further down the beach. this was not to be, and by this time some of our group who were feeling the effects of having cold, were starting to struggle. At this, we turned around and walked back up the beach, to a car park in the forest. Gallantly, my husband and brother in law walked (or possibly ran) all the way back up to the house to collect the cars to ferry us all back. Thankfully we all survived and despite achey legs were none the worse for our experience.

Gorgeous Anglesey Coastline

The glorious weather continued on the Sunday, so we decided to have a drive down the coast and make a few stops on the way. Our first stop was Porth Trecastell Beach, where we had a walk across the headland. The coastal path stretches around the whole of Anglesey and is absolutely beautiful. This particular area has a a petty, flat beach, with a craggy, rocky area around it. There is also an ancient burial chamber hidden in the hillside.

We then travelled on to South Stack, passing so many beautiful beaches and coves along the way. South Stack is a on a stunning area of coastline, with a lighthouse on the craggy out crop. It was busy here, but there was plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the scenery. As we were all now gasping for a cuppa, we did the very British thing of putting the kettle on! Our friends have a camper van, so we boiled the kettle, making tea and coffee, then cutting up the birthday cake and copious amounts of biscuits. It was certainly quicker than queuing for the café.

Once we were all refreshed, we took the path towards the lighthouse. Due to Covid restrictions the lighthouse was not open, but the scenery is still well worth the steep walk. We then walked past the lighthouse and up to the top of the hill behind the lighthouse. There are lots of steps and it is a little uneven underfoot. The views are amazing from the top. It is such a beautiful part of the world and I would definitely go back for another visit.

A Bit Of A Catch Up

I thought I would just write and let you know what has been going on over the last couple of months. In many ways things are starting to get back to normal, although the pandemic is still very much with us.  I am still quite cautious if I am in a place with lots of people and feel more comfortable in the outdoors than being in an enclosed area. I have managed to get out and about to a few places and return to some of the things that I really love to do.

I’ve managed to get a couple of decent walks in with my brother, whose Charity Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is delayed until next May. So far I have walked Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough with him. He is really good as when he gets a little ahead, he walks back to collect me, meaning he always walks quite a bit further than me. I am still unfit, having reverted to all my old eating habits during the last lockdown over winter. I get plenty of exercise but I do need to stop eating quite so much of the wring types of food, especially in between meals or on an evening.

Having said that one of my other great loves is eating out. It has been great to start doing that again over the last few weeks, particularly in places where you can book a table and know that it is not going to be overcrowded. We have met up with friends on a couple of occasions and it has felt great to be doing something “normal”

As a little treat, my sister in law and I took our mums and mum-in-law out for afternoon tea at Angelina’s Tea Rooms in the Mill Village at Batley. To be fair I had bought the vouchers as a present for Christmas 2019, but we have never been able to use them. It was a really pleasant afternoon, as we rarely all get chance to spend time together. It was lovely to see the older ladies relaxing and chatting whilst enjoying their teas. There were plenty of sandwiches and cakes for all of us and as much tea as you could drink. They all went home with a little box of leftovers which was an added bonus.

Birthday Treats

At the end of July, for my youngest daughter’s birthday, we took both her grandmas (my mum and mum-in-law) out for lunch at The Garden Café, at Bennetts Eggs in Liversedge. It was a warm sunny day. The food was great, if a little much for both the older ladies, who went home with a doggy bag to have for lunch the following day. We had a lovely afternoon, and it was great to be able to spend some time together. After lunch we strolled around the little petting farm before dropping them off back home.

Later in the week, as another birthday treat,  we went to an Escape Room with my husband and my daughter’s boyfriend. I absolutely love escape rooms, and this is one of the things that we have not been able to do over the last eighteen months with all the restrictions. I enjoy the puzzle solving and working together. I am always amazed at how everyone thinks differently. Puzzles that are obvious to one person don’t make any sense to another and it is great to see everyone playing their part to get out in time. If you’ve never done an escape room, I would recommend you give it a go. They are all different levels and themes, so you would be able to find one that suits you. The one we chose was a Titanic theme, in an Escape Room very close to our home. It was not too difficult, and we managed to get out with a good amount of time to spare, with lots of laughs along the way.

A Trip To London

In august it was my eldest daughter’s birthday, so I arranged to visit her. I travelled down on the train and we stayed in a nice hotel near to St Pauls Cathedral. She only lives forty-five minutes away from the centre of London, but I thought it would be nice for her to have a change of scenery, after the lockdowns and not being able to do many of the things she normally enjoys.

I arrived on the Sunday afternoon, and we popped into the amazing Theatre Café for lunch and a couple of cheeky cocktails, before going to the theatre. We had booked to see David Walliams’ Billionaire boy at the Garrick theatre. This may seem a strange choice for two adults, but as her friend was in the production, it was great to support them and see something that we wouldn’t normally see. The production was entertaining. There were lots of funny moments, which appealed to adults, but went over the children’s heads. However, the children did find the jokes about “pooping” and “farting” hilarious.

We popped back to the hotel for a relaxing swim and sauna, before heading out for something to eat. It wasn’t easy to find an open restaurant close by and we did not want to go too far. We arrived at Gordon Ramsay Maze Grill just as they were about to take the last orders at 8pm.  The atmosphere was pleasant enough, the service was efficient, and the food was reasonable, but I was not completely blown away. It did feel that they were getting ready to close by the time we finished our meal. By the time we left there was just us and a couple of ladies on the table next to us. Luckily, no one made us feel that we were being a nuisance by being there.

The following day I had persuaded my daughter to take part in a Sherlock Holmes outdoor game, which took us around the streets of London following online clues on an app. It was an interesting couple of hours. I was surprised by how much building and maintenance work was going on. Considering the amount of time restriction have been in place, it would have been more sensible to carry out the repairs then, rather than in the height of the summer holidays. It was certainly much quitter than usual, with the obvious lack of international tourists, which seemed strange in a capital city.

On the Monday evening, we went to the open-air theatre at Regents Park. We had enjoyed it so much last year, I didn’t really mind what was on, I just wanted to go back. This summers production was Carousel, which I haven’t seen for years and even then, only on film. The production had an unusual setting, with very neutral colours and clothing styles, which di not depict a particular era. The singing and dancing were beautiful. Although it is probably an outdated story, it had been altered to make it a little more relevant to modern times. I am not a fan of changing everything to suit modern values (sometimes we need to see how things were, to understand how far we have come and how much change is still needed), but on this occasion I think that it was needed and was not overdone. All in all, it was a great evening, helped by the warm weather and the different atmosphere that is gained by being outdoors.

On Tuesday, we went out for a walk and had breakfast, before checking out of the hotel. We walked to the station and got on the same tube, before saying our goodbyes and heading off home.  Although we had had a busy couple of days, I felt relaxed as I travelled back home.

Paddle Board Practice

After having our paddle board lesson in June, we decided to invest in a couple of inflatable paddle boards to take with us on our holidays. Although that sounds fairly straight forwards, as we knew exactly what we wanted, it seemed that everyone else in the country had also had the same idea. We eventually managed to pre order some and they arrived on 2nd August. As it was a fine sunny day(and we were self isolating), we spent some time inflating them in the garden. This took quite a while and a lot of energy. Needless to say we have now invested in an electric pump!

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend we went up to Ullswater and spent the day on the lake, with friends practicing on our paddle boards. We had a great day, but I am still struggling to get from kneeling to standing without leaning on my husband. Luckily he is proficient and very confident on his paddle board, so is able to assist with this without me tipping him into the water. Hopefully it will come with practice. If not I’ll just have to keep leaning on him every time i want to stand up!

Another Goodbye And Some New Beginnings

The last few weeks have been a series of ups and down, as that generally are in these ever strange times. There have been some really difficult days, but also some uplifting moments too, along with new beginnings for some of my family

A Difficult Goodbye

This week we said a very sad goodbye to my lovely father-in-law David. He passed away on 30th January after a long period of time living with Parkinson’s. Over the last year his health had really deteriorated, particularly during the lockdown periods, when his usual activities and the ability to get out and about was curtailed. After falling a number of times, he was admitted to hospital and then to care homes and hospitals, until he was admitted to full time care in December. Sadly he tested positive for Covid mid January and passed away soon after.

Over the last few months it was so difficult not to be able to see him, other than through a window, but he seemed settled in his care home and never seemed upset when we left.

However, it is best to remember the really good times, rather than the more difficult ones. David was a really gentle man. He never took centre stage or craved attention. He was always quietly there in the background, willing to help wherever he could. He loved and spoiled his grandchildren and in his younger days was the best mechanic and decorator any family could wish for.

The funeral was short and small, as the current situation dictates, but it was also very fitting for David. The sun was shining, the music was lovely and the memories of David were all very happy ones. Although it was a sad day, in many ways, it was also a lovely way to say goodbye to David and to be together as a family in a socially distance way for a short amount of time.

A New Home

This week there was also a really positive event, which helped to cheer us all up and look towards the future, instead of dwelling on the past. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend have just got the keys to their first house. Lockdown has meant that they were able to save up enough money for a deposit. The house that they have bought needs a lot of work and they have already started some of the renovation with the help of the rest of the family. They are looking at it as a “project” and hoping to move in before Christmas. I am sure that they will achieve their dreams, with a little help from friends and family.

A New Job

After volunteering at the Food Bank for over a year, I have now applied for and started a part-time role working there. When I retired from work, I had several plans for the world of work, but as most of these involved training and workshops, this all fell apart during the pandemic. I wasn’t actively looking for a job, but the post came up at the right time and has given me a new focus and much more structure to my days. It is only a temporary role and I am hoping that by the end of the term, we are able to get back to some sort of normality and I will be able to take part in all the leisure and travel activities that have been on hold since I retired.

A New Business

After many years of working for a bicycle retailer, my youngest brother was made redundant last week. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has worked so hard and being so stressed, that although it was a bit of a smack in the face, it has also given him an opportunity to move on and start his own business. He wasted no time at all in setting up a website and has already received lots of enquiries. He is very determined to make it work and certainly not afraid of hard work, so I am sure that he will succeed and make this a great business venture. I have shamelessly added his link below!

https://www.total-cycles.co.uk/

My Foodbank Challenge

There has been so much controversy and discussion over the last few weeks around foodbanks, free school meals, Covid Assistance etc. In March I started volunteering at my local foodbank two afternoons a week. I really enjoy being around other people and it also made me feel that I was doing something worthwhile.

There are so many people in need of assistance these days and thee foodbank provides a really good service to people who need it. People can end up needing help from a foodbank or similar service for all sorts of reasons. It may be that their personal circumstances have changed leaving them struggling financially. They may have difficulty with mental health issues, disability or addiction. This year has been particularly bad, with people losing their jobs or having lower incomes due to furlough .

I have met people who have been embarrassed to find themselves at a foodbank for the first time in their lives and apologising for needing assistance. I have met young people who find themselves living alone without any support from their families and finding it impossible to keep to any sort of plan or budget. I have put food parcels together for people fleeing domestic violence who are living in hotel rooms.

Yes there will be those that know how to play the system and take advantage. There are those who may not prioritise food for their families. There are those that may have come too reliant on assistance and may not ever be able to mange on their own.

Whatever the reason being someone needing this type of assistance, I don’t feel I am in any position to judge.

Never Gone To Bed Hungry

I realise that I am in a very privileged position having never really known hunger. As a child, our family weren’t particularly well off, but we always had food on the table. Dad would hand over his wage to my mum each week and she had a tin with slots in for all the different bills. We always had money for food. My mum tells me that there was a short period of time when my brothers had free school meals when my dad was off work, but I certainly can’t remember this. The only time we ever went to bed hungry was if you had been naughty and got sent to bed without supper, although my brother informed me recently that he kept a stash of food in his room just for those particular moments!

I also know that my children have never known real hunger. They have had three square meals a day throughout their lives. Even after my eldest daughter left home for university, she always knew that we would help her out with either money or a few bags of food when she came to visit.

I know that I over eat. My meals are generally healthy but I top that up on a far too regular basis with sweets, crisps, biscuits, chocolate and baked goods. I also buy too much food, waste too much food and have the privilege of being picky about which brands I choose.

So What’s The Challenge?

At the foodbank, we have sometimes discussed whether we would manage on the food that the service users receive. The food is mostly tinned, dried or long shelf life. It is the staple things that most people have in their store cupboards. We also are really lucky that we receive donations of fresh food which allows us to give out fresh food alongside the staples. The food is expected to last for a week.

So I have decided to set myself a challenge of living for a month on the food that I would receive if I relied on a food bank. I’ve not done this to prove that it can be done, but to understand the harsh realities of people who are really struggling to make ends meet.

Armed with the standard list, I went to the supermarket today and bought the items (thought I’d better clarify that I didn’t take them from the foodbank!) Luckily today in the foodbank we also had a few fresh items, so I added those to my list too, to give a true reflection of what I would have received had I needed a food parcel today. My challenge will start tomorrow morning and the food should last me for a week. I am hoping to continue the challenge for four weeks.

I will update you next week on how I have got on. I will be honest if I have waivered, cheated or just given in altogether.

The whole point of this is to raise awareness around food poverty and the work of foodbanks and other similar services. I want people to think about the amount of money they spend on food and to count their blessings that they don’t have to wonder where their next meal is coming from.

I would also like you to consider making a donation to your local foodbank. You can donate food, toiletries, cleaning products, feminine hygiene products or cold hard cash. If you’re unsure what to donate, contact your local food bank and ask them what they need.

As one of my daughter’s friends posted on twitter recently : “You’re a lot closer to having to use food banks than you are to doing your weekly shopping at Harrods”

Best Laid Plans

Well it’s definitely been a strange few weeks. There have been lots of emotional ups and downs. Like a lot of people in many countries around the world, life has taken a completely different direction to the one that I had planned when I retired in January. At the moment all travel plans are postponed and all social gatherings are off. The gym that I have been attending regularly has now shut under the government guidelines and the freelance work that I had planned has been cancelled for now. So it’s time to take stock, rethink and make some new plans.

A Last Weekend Away

A few weeks ago, I managed to spend a lovely weekend away in Northumberland, with my husband, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. During the week before, we were unsure whether we would be going or not.

My really good friend Sarah, had been having treatment for cancer, which had recently been stopped. She has been such a strong lady over the last few years since being diagnosed, but this really knocked her confidence. She was really struggling with some of her symptoms and also with her emotions. I was really undecided about going away, but once things were properly in place for her being looked after I decided to go.

Sadly my brother-in-law also lost his lovely dog Ruby during the week before we were going. Ruby, a Staffie,  was 12 years old and had been an important and loved member of the family. My youngest daughter was terrified of dogs when she was younger and initially would not have anything at all to do with Ruby. However, over time Ruby won her over and was such a gentle dog that they became good friends and the fear of dogs was solved. So much so that she has been asking to get a dog of her own for ages.

We had a few tears whilst we were away for the weekend, particularly walking along the beach without Ruby which was really hard. But we also had a lot of laughs. We talked a lot, reminisced and planned for the future. One of the things that often comes up when we are away is how important family and friends are, why you should do the things that you want to do, not to put them off, as you never know what is going to happen in the future. Little did we know then how our lives were going to change over the next few weeks.

Stepping Into The Unknown

In the current situation, none of us have any idea what the future holds, but in some ways that is no different to our normal lives. Yes the world has changed dramatically and we really have to adjust our lives to deal with the unknown. But do any of us ever know what life will bring. In our ordinary world we don’t know whether we will get ill, how long we will live, whether our jobs are secure, whether our holidays will be cancelled etc

I am normally a worrier and I know that I deal with some things better than others. If  can do something about it, then I tend to go headlong into organising and “doing”, which usually helps me to cope. There is also usually an end game, which helps to focus. But it is the things that I have no control over that I struggle with, where I can’t do anything to change it and I don’t know where the end is.

A couple of days ago I had a real flash of anxiety over a number of things that I have absolutely no control over, mostly other people’s attitudes and actions.  So I had to give myself a good talking to and am now concentrating on trying to be positive and make the most of the situation that we find ourselves in, accepting that I can’t change it and I don’t know when the end will be. But it will end and I am hopeful that I will emerge a stronger and better person.

Settling Into Retirement

It’s now six weeks since I retired from full time work. People did tell me that I would be bored, that I would miss work and that I would struggle without belonging to the Police after being “institutionalised” for thirty years. Well so far I have to say I haven’t felt any of these things. I have managed to fill my time well, have taken on some ad hoc work, am spending time working on our craft business as well as starting some of the things on my bucket list.

 

 

https://www.mezzycreations.co.uk/

Starting those things that I always wanted to do

One of the things that I have wanted to do for quite some time, is to learn to play the piano. I am pleased to say that I have now had four piano lessons and am surprised at how well I am picking it up. It takes a lot of concentration, but it’s really wort it as I am enjoying it so much. At the moment I am practicing on a keyboard loaned to me by a friend and on my mum’s piano, but if I continue to enjoy it over the next few months I am going to treat myself to a digital piano.

Something else that I also wanted to do was to write more. I have now been writing my blog for three years, but I have also bought myself a book of writing activities and tasks, which has encouraged me to write a bit more.

There are still a few more things on my list and I will let you know how I get on these.

Rudding Park Spa Hotel in Harrogate

A couple of weeks ago I had a relaxing overnight stay at Rudding Park in Harrogate with my lovely friend Sarah. We found a deal on Travelzoo, which was excellent value, which we just couldn’t miss. We had a little retail therapy first in Harrogate and then drove up to Rudding Park in the afternoon. On arrival our room wasn’t ready, (it had been set up as a double rather than a twin), but we were treated to a complimentary glass of prosecco whist we waited.

We then dropped our things off in the room and went into the spa for the rest of the afternoon. The spa itself is beautiful, very airy, clean and so relaxing. The hydrotherapy pool is so lovely and warm, but is outside so you get some lovely fresh air whilst enjoying the warm relaxing water. Inside there is a panoramic sauna, foot spas, an oxygen room, a sunlight room and a steam room. We tried everything, before going to the wellness area, which has amazing relaxing rooms, including visual, audio, as well as a sleep room and a comfortable are just to relax and have a cup of tea.

Later in the evening we had our dinner in the clocktower restaurant, which was included in the deal from Travelzoo, so we only had to pay for our bottle of prosecco. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was very chilled.

The following morning I went into the indoor pool for a swim. There was no one else in there, so I managed to get a good few lengths in before breakfast. We had breakfast in the Horto café, which is part of the spa. The breakfast was really nice and was also included in the package.

We then made use of the spa again before checking out and going home. We both felt completely relaxed and had lots of chance to chat and just chill out.

Lunch on a train

Today me and my husband took his parents for lunch on Embsay Railway in North Yorkshire. We had booked it a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the flooding. The trip was a birthday present for my father in law (It was his birthday in January)

The train carriage was lovely and warm, which was great as it was a windy day and it was quite chilly waiting on the platform. We were shown to our table which was set with cutlery and cups and we were offered tea and coffee. Once the train set off, we were then brought our lunch which was a Yorkshire pudding filled with meat, vegetables and new potatoes. As I’m a vegetarian, I had mine without the meat. The train journey was about half an hour and we stopped at Bolton Abbey for about twenty minutes, so we could get off and stretch our legs, look around the station and the shop.

The train then set off back to Embsay and tea and coffee was served on the return journey. Towards the end, the manager came out and spoke to all the diners, explaining why he set up the business and how it had grown over the last few years. He also told us about the other events which are available on the railway.

The trip was well worth the money and was just long enough for my in laws to be out and about before heading back home.

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A Weekend In Hawes

This weekend we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend with friends and family in a lovely little house in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. This was to officially celebrate my youngest brother’s 50th birthday. It was actually his birthday the week before Christmas, but chose to book a weekend in January, which is a really good idea, as it’s always nice to have something to look forward to in January as it can be quite a depressing month.

Ingleton Waterfalls Walk

On Friday morning, it was quite a grey day, but we drove up to Ingleton and walked around the Waterfalls Tral. This is a 7km walk, on a footpath, which takes you around the waterfalls and river in Ingleton. The trails are privately owned, so there is a charge for walking the paths. A ticket office and turnstile has now been built, which takes a little away from the scenery and makes it more commercialised, however once you get past this, you are on the paths and it is beautiful scenery. The paths are quite steep and slippery in places and there are quite a lot of steps.

We all kept up a steady pace and managed to get around the train before the weather closed in and it became quite cold and damp. There was of course the obligatory stop off for hot drinks and cakes in the village, before we made our way to Yarn House in Gayle, which was the cottage that we had rented for the weekend. The house is a lovely three storey cottage, which overlooks the river. The rooms were cosy and there was loads of equipment in the kitchen.

There were eight of us and on arrival it is customary for us to draw lots to decide who is having which bedrooms. Once this was done and we had got unpacked, the men went off to the pub. Allegedly they were only going to the shop to buy some lottery tickets but they were out a few hours and had a pint in each of the pubs. The ladies stayed in the house, apparently we were supposed to be making tea, but we ended up drinking prosecco instead. Once the men came back from the pub we managed to sort out food and enjoy our meal with a few more glasses of wine.

A windy walk

On Saturday morning we set off from Hawes to do a circular walk which normally includes Hardraw Force. It was quite windy and cold, but was ideal weather for walking. We had booked lunch for 2pm, so we knew that we needed to be back for then.

The walk was just over 6km and wasn’t too hilly.  Hardraw Force itself is again  privately owned and there is a charge to go and look at them. As we had limited time and the fact that the Falls themselves were not part of the route, we chose not to walk down to the Force to walk back up and complete our route instead.

It was a really nice walk with some lovely scenery. Unfortunately the mist started to come in, so the views were not quite as clear as they normally would be.

After the walk we drove to Tan Hill Inn, which is the highest pub in England. We had reserved a table and the landlord was pretty friendly when we arrived. The pub was quite busy, as it is a well known attraction. The pub itself is quite rustic, but a also a lttle run down. The furniture was well worn and the whole place looked in need of a little work. The food on the whole was good, but one of our dishes came after the others had finished eating and when it did come it was a bit of a let down.

We drove back to the cottage afterwards and had a restful evening watching films and having a few drinks.

A relaxing Sunday

On Sunday, we had a bit of a lazy morning then went down to the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. There is a lovely gift shop and visitors centre hers, although the creamery was not producing any cheese that day. We looked around the visitors centre and tasted lots of samples of cheese, as well as buying some to eat later.

After this we went for a short walk around the village. It was short mainly because there were hardly any shops open and also because it was very cold, windy and drizzly. We had a table booked at the Crown Pub in Hawes. This was a lovely pub, with the coal fires blazing. The food was great and the staff were really friendly.

After another couple of drinks in the pub, we made our way back to the house and spent the evening relaxing, playing cards and eating cheese and biscuits.

It has been as great weekend, with lots of laughter, great food, great company, fresh air, beautiful scenery and a chance to recharge our batteries.

 

 

 

 

Happy Retirement

This week, after 30 years of being a Police Officer, I retied!

I joined West Yorkshire Police on 15th January 1990, as a fresh faced 22 year old. I was fairly naïve, not particularly streetwise and had led a sheltered life, being the only girl, with three brothers. However I wanted to help other people, do something worthwhile and I honestly thought that I would be able to change the world.

I may not have changed the world over the last 30 years, but I know that I have changed some people’s lives for the better. There will be those that were not happy with the decisions I made, the action that I took, or the outcomes of their reports to me, but on the whole i know that I have always done the best job that I could, have been honest and always done what I thought was right.

I am not sad at retiring and I have been looking forward to it for a while. I will miss my friends and colleagues, the interesting work, the feeling of making a difference but I also am ready for a change and am looking forward to doing lots of new things. I am not going to be completely retired, as I still have various avenues for work, but I will no longer be working full time and I will no longer be a Police Officer.

Lucky or Entitled

Over the last few months I have had some very interesting comments about retiring at such a young age. Lots of people have said how “lucky” I am, how nice it must be to get a “free pension” and how unfair it is that they have to work much longer than me. I do not believe that I deserve to retire more than anyone else, but I know that I am getting what I signed up to 30 years ago and that it certainly isn’t for free. I am entitled to retire at this age because I signed up for 30 years. I have paid a large amount of money in contributions for the last 30 years. I have stuck with a career that has been difficult at times, frustrating and had ground me down to the point of losing my self confidence and belief that I was doing a good job. For all the missed birthdays, Christmas days, school sports days, concerts, late nights, early mornings, long hours and lack of sleep. For being spat at, sworn at, called names, complained about and wondering how I was going to get through, for this I now feel entitled to retire.

A Job Worth Doing

I have loved my job for the most part. Although the above paragraph points out the negatives, there have been lots of positives too. I have spent a good majority of my service as an investigator within safeguarding units, investigating crimes and protecting the most vulnerable people in society. For the last four years I have trained others to conduct those investigations.

I have met some amazing people along the way, both those that I have worked alongside and the people who I have worked to protect. There have been some amazing Court results and some real disappointments. Most of all I know that I have worked my hardest to protect the public and detect some of the most heinous crimes.

So now I intend to take a well earned break, before I move on to pastures new.

Thank you to the people that I have worked with for their support over the years. Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with me and for the lovely gifts and cards. Remembering fondly those who were with me 30 years ago when I joined the police, or who I have met along the way, but are no longer with us.

Most of all a huge thank you to my family and friends outside the Police who have supported me physically and mentally. I could not have done it without you!

 

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