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.

Old friends, new musicals, old habits, new beginnings

I can’t believe how many weeks have passed since we returned from our canal holiday. here’s just a little bit about what I’ve been doing since then.

Old Friends

After I returned from holiday, I had another week away from work. Luckily the weather was still really good and I had chance to spend some time with friends that I had not seen for a while. It was a lovely relaxing week. These are the kind of friends that you very rarely see, but each time you do, you just pick up from where you left off. Unfortunately as part of that week, it meant that I did eat and drink a lot more than I should have done.

New Musicals

On the Friday of that week  I went with my husband to see Titanic the Musical. This is one that I have never seen before. Everyone knows the true story of the sinking of the Titanic. The musical is based around a number of people who were known to be on the ill-fated voyage. This includes members of the crew and passengers from each class. The singing in the show was amazing. Despite the serious nature of the story, there are a few lighter moments, but it is a very moving show to watch. It’s obviously not the foot tapping, come out of the theatre singing your head off type of musical, but it is amazing and I would recommend it.

However I have to say that more and more I am finding my enjoyment of the theatre being spoiled by other theatre goers, who feel the need to scroll through their messages/Facebook/snap chat, whilst watching a show, or chat throughout without a thought for other people. I was also amazed that just after the interval in this particular show, a couple on the same row, began eating a full picnic. I kid you not! There were too cans of pop, sandwiches wrapped in tin foil, a big bag of Doritos, all being taken out of the noisiest carrier bag they could find! Please, please, please, if you are going to the theatre, have a little respect for the other audience members who may have come to watch the show!

Old Habits

Despite being really motivated to lose weight and keep fit last year, I find that I have slipped back into old habits and unhealthy eating again. On the Bank Holiday weekend we decided to go for a walk and I suggested walking up Ingleborough. We had a really good day and managed the walk, but I have to admit that carrying all that extra weight really took it’s toll. I had to give myself a really good telling off and vowed that I would not continue to eat in the way that I have done over the last few months

New Beginnings

Yes the new beginning meant that I re joined Slimming World. I tell myself all the time that I know what I should and shouldn’t eat, but I always struggle when I stop going to the group sessions and kid myself that I will stick to healthy eating, but I seem to drift off track and into old habits. Well at least I’ve made a start on the healthy eating. I’ve carried on exercising, over the last months, despite the bad eating, so at least my level of fitness has not been lost all together.

I’ll let you know how I get on

 

History, Concrete And Regeneration

Black Country Living Museum

This morning we awoke to another  beautiful sunny day. We had a lovely breakfast and sat outside with a coffeee whilst we waited for the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley to open.

The museum was amazing. When you think of a museum, this is not what you would expect. It is a living museum, with houses and community buildings set in 26 acres around the canal basin.

We walked around the houses, many of which had people in them to tell you the story of the houses and the family that lived there. I found it fascinating to see how people lived in the past. The museum has houses and shops dated from the 1800’s to post war.

The shops have staff in there who again tell you the story around the shops and the goods in there. There are other people wandering around in costume telling tales and helping people out.

There is also a working fairground, a school, a chapel, a mine, a pub and lots of industrial buildings. Many  of the buildings originated in the Black Country and were taken down and reconstructed in the museum. Even the tilted house, which came from an area of mine subsidence has been rebuilt with the correct tilt to recreate the subsidence.

We had a tour down the mine where the enthusiastic  guide, George told us all about the mine and the people who worked there.

We then had excellent fish and chips for lunch and of course had to buy sweets from the old sweet shop to eat later on. During the day the buses were running up and down the site and an occasional vintage vehicle passed by from the showroom on site.

Everyone that worked there was so friendly and helpful, giving lots of historical information and being genuinely interested in who we were and where we had come from. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you get chance.

 

Moving on to modern regeneration

Back on the barge, we thencontinued on to the Wolverhampton level canal and then the Birmingham main line. This took us through some very built up areas outside Birmingham, including travelling under a long stretch of motorway which was under construction, supported by scaffolding. The workers carried on working whilst we travelled underneath, causing a rainfall of watery cement to fall on the boat (and the driver)

Continuing further along we went through three locks. These were a little run down and were much harder to wind and open than the ones we passed through yesterday. Unfortunately as we were approaching the locks my friend stepped off the boat whilst it was moving and fell headlong onto the path. She is now sporting a lovely graze down her arm and knee.

We then carried on into Birmingham where we moored up at Cambrian Wharf right outside the sea life centre and the Birmingham Arena. This is a beautiful area which has had some regeneration and is lively and bustling. There are lots of bars and restaurants.  The buildings are beautifully restored and the area looks very smart.

Other than the slight mishap, it’s been another great day!

Back on our travels

Hi it’s been quite a while since I last wrote my blog. I feel that the first part of the year has kind of crept past mostly unnoticed.  So just a little catch up. Our eldest daughter is now working abroad in the show team for Thomas Cook. Our youngest daughter has now past her driving test and bought herself a car. Other than that nothing much has changed and life is ticking along fairly smoothly.

A leisurely four miles an hour

On Saturday me and my husband and a couple of friends set off for a weeks canal boating holiday in the midlands. It’s something I’ve always fancied doing but not ever got round to it.

We booked a hire boat from ABC Boathire and collected it from Gailey Marina. After unpacking our bags we were instructed on the daily maintenance of the boat, how to drive it and a quick practice with the locks, then we were off.

The first evening we travelled about 8 miles (at about 4 miles an hour), then moored for the evening close to the Anchor Inn, where we had a very nice meal.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a massive fan of boats. For the first day I panicked a little every time the boat rocked. I also really struggled to step from the boat to the canal side without worrying that I was going to fall in. I survived the first day! I actually really enjoyed it. I didn’t try driving the boat as it’s huge (62ft long) and I’m pretty sure I’d run aground or crash!

Locks, Locks and more Locks

Today saw the second leg of our journey. Me and my husband started the day by walking on the tow path, keeping up with the boat which was driven by my friend, ably assisted by her husband, the navigator.  After walking for about 4 miles, we jumped back on the boat for a short while before beginning the rise up the 21 locks  to take us into Wolverhampton.

The locks are an amazing feat of engineering and we soon got into a good team routine opening and closing the gates and using the windlass to wind the paddles up and down to fill and empty the locks. It took us about 2 1/2 hours all together with a short stop for lunch in the middle. It was a brilliant experience, helped immensely by the fact that it was a gloriously sunny day.

I had a short turn at driving the boat, but it wasn’t massively successful and I had to concentrate so hard to keep the vote in the centre of the canal. I soon handed the tiller back.

Our journey ended today at The Black Country Museum. We moored up there for the night and then had a short walk to an amazing pub called Mad O’Rourkes Pie Factory. The pies

 

were amazing. I had allotment pie which was topped half with pastry and half cauliflower cheese. Amazing food, ooh and I had a sneaky violet gin too.

All in all a superb day. Looking forward to visiting the museum tomorrow and then travelling on a little further.

 

Treading Water

Do you ever feel like you are treading water? Those times in your life when things are just kind of moving along, but you’re not really getting anywhere?

I seem to be at one of those points at the moment. The healthy eating has kind of come to a standstill and I’m reverting back to lots of old habits. A result of that is that the weight is slowly starting to creep back on.

I am still running and walking, but only once or twice a week rather than as regularly as I should be

There are lots of craft projects and things that need doing around the house, which I keep meaning to do, but don’t see to have got round to it.

There’s no reason really, so this week I’ve given myself a good talking to and am getting myself back on track. one of the main reasons for writing the blog in the first place was to make sure that I made every day count and that I would have something interesting to write about.

New Goals

So this week, I have some new goals to make sure that I pull up my socks and get things back on track.

I am going to book myself back into slimming world and tackle the weight that I have put back on and stop wasting time messing about losing the same bit of weight

I am going to finish at least one craft project this week and put a photograph on my blog (now I really have to do it!)

I am going to make sure that by the time I write my blog next week I will have run or walked on at least three

Inspiration

I saw this video on Facebook this weekend and I thought that it was very relevant, so I wanted to share it with you. Hopefully you will be able to see it if I’ve linked it properly

https://www.facebook.com/powerofpositivity/?ref=hovercard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvellous Majorca

As I wrote my last blog, I was sitting on a sun bed by the pool at a beautiful villa in Puerto Pollensa in Majorca. We have been to Majorca for the last three years because it is such a pretty place and we feel able to relax and enjoy ourselves there. It is the first time that we have been without our children and the first time that we have stayed in a villa. Unfortunately I have now returned to a cold, rainy and windy England, but thought I’d let you know what I got up to on my travels last week.

Old Town Pollensa

On Sunday morning we took a trip up to the market in the Old Town of Pollensa. This is a beautiful market square, surrounded by lovely old buildings and a church in the corner.  The stalls sell lots of beautiful fresh fruit and veg, cheese, cured meats, olives, nuts and sweets.

As we were staying in a villa we bought some lovely fresh fruits and salad to put with our barbeque later on. I also bought some olives, which I love and some very brightly coloured jelly sweets.

We walked up the Calvari Steps, which are 365 steps up a very steep hillside, leading to a tiny church. There are pretty little houses on the way up the hill and there were also a couple of buskers playing acoustic guitars which sounded lovely It was extremely hot, but the view from the top was amazing. It was made more worthwhile as I felt able to treat myself to an iced coffee with cream and ice cream when I got back down. I’m pretty sure that the walk had burned all the calories off!

Soller

Soller is a beautiful little town on the west coast of Majorca. To get there you have to drive along the  very twisty roads that run through the mountains. Although the journey feels quite treacherous, it is definitely worth the drive.

We had breakfast and a wander through the town, before taking the tram down to Puerto del Soller, which is such a beautiful coastal area with a glorious beach and harbour. It was very hot by this time, so after a short walk, we went for ice cream, in a restaurant overlooking the bay and just watched the world go by.

Alcudia

We visited the old town of Alcudia during the evening to have a meal. The town itself is set in a medieval castle, so is inside the walls. It is a lovely setting, particularly on an evening as it starts to get dark. There are lots of restaurants to choose from and there is a lovely atmosphere, sitting outside within the impressive walls of the city.

Walking and snorkelling

Both me and my husband really enjoy snorkelling. This is something that I have come to enjoy fairly recently, over the last few years. I tried scuba diving when I was younger, but found that I didn’t really like the feel of the mask and breathing apparatus. I had a go at snorkelling when we went to Majorca. The water there is so warm and clear that I found I really enjoyed it. Another thing that it also did for me was to slow my breathing down. When I was struggling with anxiety, I spent the majority of my time breathing really fast and sounding out of breath. Once I had my head under the water, all I could hear was my breathing and it helped me to concentrate on that and deliberately slow my breathing down, which really seemed to help.

This year we walked to Cala de Boquer, which is about a 45 minute walk from Puerto Pollensa. It’s quite a rocky hilly walk, but if you set of early enough, you  can get there before it gets too hot. There is nothing there at all except for a beautiful rocky cove and obviously the sea, which is full of fish and great for snorkelling.

The other walk we did was to Cal San Vicente. This is quite a hilly walk, again to a beautiful cove with a soft sandy beach. There are a couple of restaurants here and sun beds on the beach. The sea, again is crystal clear and great for snorkelling.

Mosquitoes, car hire and fish bites

Just a couple of things that you might want to be aware of if you are thinking of going to Majorca.

We hired a car from AVIS and met the rudest person I have ever met behind the “customer service” desk. She told us we had not hired a 7 seater vehicle and that there wasn’t one available unless we paid an extra 25 euros per day. Luckily we had booked through Villa Plus, who managed to sort it out for us with a phone call. Having read reviews about Avis, this appears to be a bit of a ploy to get extra money from customers.

I have been to Majorca several times, usually in July and August. I have never been bitten by mosquitoes, but this time I had a lot of bites. I understand this is more common in September, so be prepared if you go at this time. Some of us had bites, some did not, so it appears mosquitoes like particular blood types, scents etc. It certainly didn’t spoil my holiday, but it is a bit of a pain when you are scratching and spotty.

For some reason whilst I was snorkelling this year I was bitten/ stung by something in the sea. This has never happened to me before. It was a bit of a shock and felt like I had been cut by something. After the initial mark, which swelled up a bit, there were no other effects. I understand that there are no dangerous fish or jelly fish on the island so there was no panic.

Not sure why I was so attractive to the hungry wildlife this year!

Something for everyone

Whilst we were in Majorca, my youngest daughter was also there, but in Magaluf, on her first holiday abroad without us. She also had a great time, but a completely different holiday to us. We’ve certainly recovered quicker than she has and I think the most of her holiday was spent partying. She returned home safely despite this, so that’s a relief.

If you’ve not been to Majorca I would recommend it. It’s a very scenic island with lots of lovely coves and bays. It does get busy in some areas, but this depends on where you go and what time of year. It is certainly one of my favourite places and the other bonus is that it is a really short flight and you can get there so quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempus Fugit

Yes it’s true my blog is late again. The reason I used the title tempus fugit  is because it is generally translated as time flies, which is just my clever way of saying that I’m late writing my blog. There is no real excuse or reason, other than time really does fly. So here is a catch up of what’s been happening over the last few weeks that I’ve missed telling you about.

Kynren

Kynren is an outdoor performance on a massive scale held in Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Someone told my husband about it a few weeks ago and we decided to book. What a great decision that was.

The venue is a purpose built stadium with tiered seating. The whole performance takes place in the valley and hillside opposite the stadium seating. There were over 1500 people  involved, all locals who take part voluntarily.

The performance was amazing, literally the history of Bishop Auckland told through the eyes of a young boy who travels back in time. There was music, battles, history, dancing, digital backdrops and pyrotechnics.

The organisation of the whole thing, from parking up to leaving was superb and we had an absolutely great evening.

Family fun day

Do you ever go to a family funeral or wedding and see people that you’ve not seen for months, or sometimes years? At those events everyone says “We must get together soon” and for some reason you never do, until the next funeral or wedding.Well this was how family fun day began.

A friend of ours, not actually related in any way decided that instead of promising to get together, he would arrange a family fun day. Four years ago, we had the first one, on an August Bank Holiday weekend, where we turned up at the rugby club, played rounders, races tug of war and had a number of quizzes. It was a great day and has just taken off.

Each year extra people get invited and some that have been the years before no longer come, but it always a really great day, with lots of banter and laughter. It is lovely just to get together for no other reason than to spend some time together.

A wedding invite

On bank holiday Monday we were lucky enough to be invited to the evening reception for a friends wedding.  It was a beautiful evening, in a lovely venue.

When the invitations came out you were asked to choose a song that you would most likely get up and dance to. We chose “oh what a night” by Franki Valli. We had only just arrived at the venue when the song was played, so we were straight up to dance. It was a real pleasure to share the celebration with their friends and family.

A late summer break

So after spending a few days back at work after the extended Bank Holiday Weekend, it was time to set off on a cheeky week away in the sun. Just as everyone was getting their children ready for setting off back to school after the summer holidays, we flew off to Majorca for a nice break, with my brother, his wife and two of our friends.

As I write this we are a few days in and I am sat next to the pool at the villa, enjoying a sandwich in the sunshine. We have had a lovely few days, in Puerto Pollensa, doing a bit of Walking, a bit of snorkelling, lots of eating and drinking. I’m not really a sun worshipper as I am mostly pale and freckley , but it’s lovely to be sat out in the fresh air, nice and warm with a cold drink in my hand.

Hope to write my blog on time next week, but until then…..cheers!!

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An eventful week (2)

So the second part of the week was spent celebrating our youngest daughters 18th birthday. It’s really hard to believe that she is eighteen already! When we used to go on holiday in a big family group she was always the baby and now she’s an adult too.

Celebration cocktails

On Thursday it was her actual birthday and we had a bit of a lazy day at home then celebrated by gong into Leeds for cocktails. There were a couple of friends and one of the mums who I am also friends with. We had a few cocktails together and then the young ladies went of to celebrate whilst me and my friend returned home. I’m definitely not cut out for partying until the early hours any more.

Party time!

On Friday evening we had the official party at our local country club, which sounds much grander than it actually is, but it was a great venue for her to be able to celebrate with her friends.

Early in the evening the family guests began to arrive and I was a little concerned when there were very few friends there. However I was reliably informed that no one goes out that early and true to form about 1 1/2 hours later the friends began to drift in and there was a steady stream of them for the rest of the evening.

They were a great bunch of young people. They probably drank too much, but there were no problems and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, which was the main thing.

The food consisted of take away pizza, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread and chips, followed by tiers of donuts. I was a bit dubious when she told me that this was what she wanted, but it actually worked really well and certainly as much easier than preparing loads of food that no one eats.

At the end of the night the younger ones went off to party some more and yes older folk went home to put our feet up.

It was great to see the young people enjoying themselves and was good to get the family together too. I may be biased but I’m really proud of how she has grown up and what a lovely articulate and sociable young woman she has turned into.

The only downside to this week is that I have  probably eaten my body weight in donuts and pizza and really need to get back on the healthy eating, but for this week, life was not about eating lettuce and fruit, but about spending time as a family and celebrating their achievements.

 

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.