Sarah, My Friend

Yesterday I sadly said goodbye to my lovely friend Sarah, who lost her fight with breast cancer. Throughout her illness Sarah remained positive, determined to live her life to the full, provide for her family and to have no regrets. She was a shining example to all those who knew her and will be missed by so many people. So this is my tribute to Sarah, an amazingly beautiful and brave friend.

When colleagues become friends

Sarah and I had been colleagues for some time, working within the same department, never working on the same team, but passing the time of day, chatting whilst we worked and occasionally working on an enquiry together.

Then, a supervisor made a decision that would change both our lives forever. The teams were shuffled around and Sarah and I began working together on a day to day basis. We were both a bit put out at first, not because we didn’t like each other, or couldn’t work together, but because we were both quite happy on our own teams, we had our own friends, but we decided to make the best of it and crack on with our work.

I am eternally grateful for that decision. Working with Sarah brought us closer and we soon realised that we had quite a lot of things in common, crafting, reading, musicals travelling, amongst other things, but we also had the same ethics. We both valued family life, knew how important our friends were and were both determined in our work to provide the best service that we possibly could to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

When the teams were re-shuffled, Sarah and I continued to be firm friends both in and out of work. We were able to talk about anything, had some amazing experiences and supported each other through some really difficult times.

A shock diagnosis

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was called for an early mammogram due to a trial in the local health authority. She had no symptoms at all, but it was discovered that her cancer was already well developed and she was swiftly taken into hospital for a mastectomy, followed by gruelling rounds of chemotherapy. Although Sarah knew that her cancer was incurable, she certainly didn’t take that lying down. She did this without complaining, always smiling and having a firm belief that when one treatment wasn’t working, there would be another one that would.

She was determined to live her life to the full and no matter how ill she was she always had time for her family and friends. She cared for both her girls and her mum, despite being exhausted some days. She told me often that she was not afraid of dying, but was always concerned about the effect that her death would have on other people. She was reluctant to let people know when she was suffering and always had a goal to work towards.

Sometimes there were tears, when she was clearly worried, particularly in relation to her two daughters, but generally when you asked her how she was she would say that she was doing alright.

The hardest time was a few weeks ago, when her treatment was stopped and she knew that there was nothing else that could be done. She was initially rocked by the news, but again set about making plans for her family, dealing with unfinished business and trying to make things as easy as she could for those around her.

Sarah never stopped fighting and was determined to keep active for as long as possible and it was only in the last few days of her life that she was unable to do this. She was able to be cared for at home and spend the time that she had left with her family and close friends. I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with her, not only in the last few weeks, but over the last few years. I am also really grateful to her family for allowing me to be there and to the other friends who have given unending support.

A lesson in living a good life

I have learned a lot from being friends with Sarah. Mostly that you should live a good life, not waste time complaining about the things that life throws at you, but to accept those things and do all the things you want to do anyway.

It is true that none of us know how long we have left with our family and friends. Sarah taught me that it’s important to make each moment count. Take pleasure in the little things. Make goals for your life, no matter how small they are. Don’t let small things grow into big problems and don’t put off things that you really want to do. Try not to bear a grudge and remember that a small  kindness can be a huge thing to someone else.

I am definitely a better person for knowing Sarah and I hope that some of her kindness and selflessness has rubbed off on me.

Long lasting memories

I didn’t want to end this blog on a sad note as Sarah would definitely not approve of that. Everyone that knew her will have their own memories, from nights out, lunches at the Ivy, theatre trips, Christmas do’s and many other celebrations. There are so many memories, some of which I talked about in my previous blogs,  but here are just a couple of my favourites

Sarah wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and talked myself and Sharon into taking part in the moonwalk. This was a 26 mile walk, through London, in the middle of the night, wearing a decorated bra. This was a tough but amazing experience. Sarah encouraged us around the whole 26 miles, never losing her enthusiasm. When we reached the finishing line the following morning, Sarah was the only one out of all three of us that was still able to walk around. It was through this experience on the night and the training before hand that I got to know Sharon and we have been able to support each other and I hope we will continue to do so in the future.

In February this year Sarah and I went on an overnight stay to a spa. We had a lovely relaxing couple of days in some very luxurious surroundings. We were able to spend some quality time together, talked, laughed and cried. As Sarah was feeling quite tired at this stage, we weren’t exactly party animals and ended up tucked up in bed at 9pm, with a bottle of prosecco, watching Love Island.

 

I know that it will be hard over the coming weeks,  months  and years as we will all miss Sarah so much, but I will do my best to remember the good times, to focus on the laughter rather than the tears and to live the best life that I can.

Sleep well Sarah you’ve earned your rest.

I will look for you in the colours of the rainbow, the brightest star and the prettiest snowflakes.

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.

 

 

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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 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 (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 (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!

Happy Birthday To Me

So last weekend was my birthday . It has actually turned into more of a “birthweek”, as the celebrations seem to have gone on for much more than a day. I can’t believe that it is now two years since I began my blog and celebrated my 50th birthday.

Escape Rooms

I know that Escape Rooms have been around for some time, but I have discovered them only recently. Our daughters bought us tickets for one at Christmas and then we went to one in the Lake District shortly afterwards. They really grab my attention, as I love puzzle solving, it really gets you thinking and it also gets you working as a team.

On the day of my actual birthday, I had to work, but in the evening had arranged to go out for a lovely meal with my husband, brother and sister in law. We then went on to play one of the escape rooms at the Escaporium at The Piece Hall in Halifax. I had chosen the Halogorian, which was based on the history of Halifax. We had a really great night and also escaped with eight minutes to spare. We were pretty pleased with ourselves I have to say!

Brunch at The Ivy

The following day, I had arranged to go for Brunch at The Ivy in Leeds. This wasn’t particularly for my birthday, as it had just been a date when everyone was free. I had been to The Ivy in Harrogate before, which I had really enjoyed and the one in Leeds didn’t disappoint either.

I think that prior to going, I would have said that I am not an Ivy type of person. I would have expected it to be overpriced and pretentious, but in fact it is a really classy restaurant, with lovely food, in a great setting and not too expensive at all.

Kinky Boots

The next event was to go and see Kinky Boots at Leeds Grand Theatre. I had heard the soundtrack on a number of occasions and it certainly sounded upbeat. I knew the basics of the story, as I had seen the original film several years ago. It is about a traditional shoe factory which is struggling to stay in business, but the owner meets a drag queen and discovers a niche market making boots with heels for drag queens.

The show was absolutely amazing! The singing blew me away, the songs veered from uplifting full song and dance numbers to full on emotional ballads. The dancing was so impressive, particularly from the “Angels” who danced expertly in high heels. The story teaches us a lot about accepting people for who they are, not assuming things about people and getting to know people and what makes them tick.

The whole show left me feeling completely elated and I wanted to dance and sing all the way home (and at work for the whole day after)

A Sunny Easter Holiday

You would think that all that would have been enough, but the week following my birthday was the Easter weekend. It was an absolutely beautiful weekend, with the sun shining and hardly a cloud in the sky.

On good Friday I spent a couple of hours helping at messy church, which was held outside thanks to the beautiful weather. The families that came had a great time and it was lovely to see them enjoying the sunshine and learning about Easter.

Over the rest of the weekend, we had a craft fair, spent some time sitting out in the garden with family (drinking slightly too much prosecco) and walking in the Yorkshire Dales on Easter Monday.

All in all I had a great birthday, on the day itself and for all of the following week. When people tell me that birthdays are just for children and that you get too old to celebrate them, I have to disagree. Birthdays are there for celebrating and enjoying, despite your age!