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.

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Dreaming (1)

A long journey but worth it

After many months of planning we arrived safely in San Francisco at about 5pm local time, which was 3am British time. We were all feeling a little weary, but once we’d got to the hotel and checked in we decided to keep going until a “normal” bedtime.

Our first venture out was to Fisherman’s Wharf (all down hill). We had a wander round, then called at Boudin for something to eat. I had soup in a roll (soup and a roll will never be the same again). By this time we had reached our tiredness limit and walked back up to he hotel. Obviously this was all up hill, and boy are they big hills! However we made it all the way back, with a slight detour due to tiredness and poor map reading skills.

We were staying at the Fairmont, which is quite a swanky hotel. It is a bit old-worldly and reminds me of the hotels you see in black and white films. After a lovely warm shower, I got into what felt like the worlds comfiest bed and slept until 6am

Big bus tour, micro climate and lovely food

Our first day started with the sun shining and with a walk in the opposite direction towards Union Square, calling in for breakfast at The Cable Car Cafe. The food was great. I had scrambled eggs, potatoes and toast and a lovely cup of tea.

Our next stop was to pick up The Big Bus Tour at Union Square. The tour took about 2 1/2 hours and covers a large area of San Francisco with a pre recorded commentary. There was so much to see. Of course we sat on the open top of the bus. It was initially warm but going overGolden Gate Bridge the wind picked up and it was decidedly chilly. However we braved it and it was worth it to see all the amazing sites on offer.

There are some very pretty areas and some interesting sites Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge and the hippy area are great to see.

However, here like most major cities there is a massive divide between the rich and poor. The many homeless wander pushing their trollies but not really bothering anyone. It certainly makes you appreciate how lucky you are.

Another hilly walk

After the bus tour we alked along pier 39, which was bustling with people and the sun was out. There are some great quirky shops and eateries and a combination of tempting smells.

The seals that lay in the sun at pier 39 are amusing to watch. I knew that they had seals there, but didn’t appreciate how many there would be.

Our next stop was another walk to the top of Lombard Street which then leads to the curviest steepest street you will ever see. It’s great for a photo opportunity and to watch the drivers making their way down the hill slowly. I for one was glad that I was walking down not driving.

At this point hunger was calling and we stopped at a lovely bar called Jack’s Cannery Bar. Sitting out in the sunshine having a cold drink and a crab salad chatting and a thing the world go by- You can’t beat it!

A chilly evening tour

Our evening took us back on The Big Bus for the evening tour. It was breezy and cold, but we expected that so we’re well prepared. This tour took us over Bay Bridge to Treasure Island and around some of the sites that we had seen during the day.

It was quite good, but as it was still daylight we didn’t get to see the city at night with all the lovely twinkly lights like I thought we would. Perhaps I  underestimated how late it would be when it came dark.

Our day ended in Louie’s Diner near Union Square. We were going to go to The Cheescake Factory but it was packed. The Diner was a 50’s style, like you see in the films and the food was great, so not at all disappointed that we didn’t make the Cheescake Factory.

After a warm bath I got into bed feeling that I’d had a great day. I’d walked 30000 steps and the equivalent of 139 flights of stairs!

Oh and by the way one site I never expected to see on the bay – naked cyclists. A group of middle aged, pale men Apparently it’s legal in California as long as you are wearing one item of clothing. Which explains why one was wearing socks and one was wearing a mask. I didn’t look for long enough to see what the others were wearing!!