Thursday, 30 July 2015

Booking online......

We spent a lovely couple of days in Cheshire visiting friends we hadn't seen for 20+ years!

They live in a one bedroom bungalow so we booked online into a nearby hotel for double room with breakfast. The photos looked good and the reviews were all good too and it was cheap. The online form asked what time we would be arriving and I ticked 11am-12noon.

After our four and a half hour drive we found the hotel easily. We parked avoiding all the potholes and walked through the door just after noon. The lady on the desk seemed very flustered and said no checking in before 2pm, I told her the website had specifically asked me what time we were arriving and didn't mention 2pm, she said "oh oh wait a minute so sorry I haven't even looked at the booking forms yet, we are in such a muddle this morning". She printed off our booking form asked Hubby to sign it then said "You were supposed to be in the suite but there is a leak in the roof and we are waiting for the roofer" lots more flustering about and more than once letting us know she was the manager and what a big responsibility it all was, then eventually she gave us the key to room 31 and said "I hope you're alright with the stairs, we do have a lift but it's quite near where the leaky roof is...." we both instantly said we wouldn't chance it and took the stairs-corridor-stairs-corridor-stairs then just as Hubby was putting the key in the door the out of breath manager came running along saying "Don't unpack I've given you the wrong room" so we swapped keys for room 30. The door was broken, bashed and pinned and she saw my face "It's quite secure" she said "There was a bit of bother at the weekend and someone kicked the door in, but we've fixed it so it still shuts properly and locks."

The room itself though small was fine, the bedding looked very clean as did the bathroom. There was a kettle with a couple of teabags etc provided and there was WiFi and it was only for one night so no problem at all.

So with a giggle we left the hotel and went to meet our friends. It was so lovely catching up with them after all this time. We have kept up the Christmas card swap each year so knew about their various moves and they are planning another move which could bring them a bit closer to us. Unfortunately neither of them are in the best of health and the weather wasn't that good so it was perfect to just head out to eat and sit and talk. They took us to a garden centre for lunch, but to call it a garden centre is such an understatement, I think it sells everything for the home inside and out and has three different cafe areas. Have to say their cream and jam scones are enormous and delicious, half of one was more than enough for me so pleased I'd shared with friendC. I had wanted to arrive with a pot plant gift but we hadn't found anywhere to buy one so arrived with chocolates, however we were now in the perfect place so I told friendK to pick her own gift and she chose a hanging basket.

Back to theirs, hanging basket hooked up and settled down with tea and chat about all the people we had worked with together back in the early 70s, the two men had worked together from 1968 and I joined in 1972. That definitely was dusting off the cobwebs from the archives lol.

Out for dinner about 7pm-ish and as they were getting tired we went in two cars so about 9pm-ish we said our goodnights and went straight back to the hotel. We went into the bar but they didn't have any bottled sparkling water and the tap was broken for the soda water so I had tap water while Hubby had a pint and he watched tv (having to give it a gentle nudge when it went off) and he got talking to the only other guy in there at the time, while I had a quick catchup with my social media stuff. Then up to bed.

We certainly didn't expect any toiletries to be provided for the price we paid but to have to go and ask for another toilet roll because the half one in the bathroom ran out was a bit unnecessary!

Happy to report we both slept well. Breakfast was buffet serve yourself, and I had bran flakes that were very soft, there was a little tinned fruit on offer and the toaster burnt the toast one side only. We both had cooked but the fried eggs had sat there long enough to be hard and rubbery, but the bacon, sausages and mushrooms were fine, I avoided the tomatoes as I couldn't actually find a whole tomato in the pan of juice and the baked beans were much the same. Tea and toast with real butter that was soft enough to spread and she even found me some jam when I asked so we were adequately fed.

We weren't in any rush as our friends knew they were having a new electric meter fitted in the morning so as we didn't want to stay in the hotel we checked out and headed back to the garden centre to have a good look round. We bought some plants that we really did need ;-)  We arrived at our friends' before the Eon guys so plenty of time to chat, then after the meters had been changed we headed out to eat and because none of us had dessert they brought back cake for afternoon tea (too much eating for not much moving around which will have to be corrected very soon). Then just before 5pm we were waving goodbye after making them promise to visit us next. Home about 9:15pm which was good.

Sorry this has been all words and no photos so here are the plants we bought planted first thing yesterday before it started raining again.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Lull before the storm......

Always lovely coming home however good the holiday and O made us this

Home by supper time Saturday and Hubby was out fundraising Sunday so I got everything unpacked and put away and all the laundry done, even did a bit of gardening as the grape vines grow frantically this time of year. 

Monday was going well until the kitchen totally flooded and it took us both nearly an hour to mop it all up. Seems the water purifying system we have was to blame and Hubby immediately turned that off and bypassed the water back to mains then phoned our maintenance man and left a message. Times like this I realise I wouldn't have known what to do so I'll need a full tutorial when it's all fixed. 

Thankfully after mopping and removing cupboard kickboards it has all dried well and not seeped under the flooring. I noted our mishap on facebook to get lots of sympathy as one should, Hubby is most determinedly not on facebook, so he got a couple of odd messages from friends who knew before he knew that they knew (did that make sense?) The maintenance man rang back when Hubby was out of course (swapping blood-runner bikes with his mate) and asked what the problem was and said he couldn't pop round just yet as he's in Tenerife! So with it all switched off and not a problem he'll come Wednesday next week. When Hubby came home and I was about to update him he already knew as his mate had seen that on facebook too hahaha.  Hubby also phoned the water board as the mains stopcock under the sink won't budge and they were coming Wednesday but didn't, Thursday but phoned to postpone till Friday but didn't then either! 

Also on Monday the gas people relaid our patio slabs and removed all the barriers from the patio and the drive revealing some ugly patches in the tarmac which Hubby seems quite happy with, I'm not happy! 

Meanwhile late Monday I heard from my niece that her teenage daughter had been rushed into hospital in the early hours that day which really worried me. We managed to get to the hospital (about 60 miles away) for a visit on Wednesday and thankfully antibiotics worked and blood tests fine and they were sent home Friday afternoon.....I say "they" as my niece stayed the whole time barely sleeping on the reclining chair beside the bed, so she is now unwell too from a stressful week. 

And today is quite a bit cooler and windier and wetter, but no actual storm (artistic licence in the title sorry). Hubby is out in this fundraising again so I'm heading to the kitchen now to make a large and warming cottage pie for him to come back to, he's spoilt eh? 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Isle of Wight holiday, July 2015.......

Thought I'd start with the map and say that it's just off the south coast of England for anyone that's never heard of the Isle of Wight. Just 27 miles west to east and 13 miles north to south.

Friday 10th
This was the day before our holiday so apart from ironing and packing I did some baking to use up food that wouldn't keep.
The round loaves are half-wholemeal using up the last of the cheddar topped up with the last bit of parmesan and lots of finely chopped spring onions (thanks Hubby for the chopping) two of them were packed to come with us.  Far right is a sweet bread filled with the last two bananas and the last wrinkled apple grated and lots of cinnamon. The dozen buns are cinnamon and raisin which I iced four of and we ate and the rest together with the banana loaf and other cheese and onion bread all went in the freezer. 

Saturday 11th
FriendsN&T came to get us at 10am and off we headed on our holiday 😎
Very warm and sunny, reading up to 26C on the car dashboard, but unfortunately lots of traffic jams so instead of taking a leisurely lunch stop we headed straight to Lymington Ferry port and had half an hour in the nearest pub for a sandwich, then onto the 4pm crossing to Yarmouth
(Hubby isn't hanging his head in despair, he's holding his cap on as it's very windy). We easily found our holiday cottage called Marsh Mellow. All very pleased with our temporary home and the closeness of Yarmouth town centre when we had a walking wander round and stopped to eat at one of the pubs. Back at the house we opened the big cupboard that had some games in and out came the scrabble (I won πŸ˜†).

Sunday 12th
Unfortunately our double is the most uncomfortable bed ever and I didn't get much sleep, but everyone else seems more than happy which is good.  It was a wet start to the day but that didn't stop us and we drove out to Osborne House. Actually it barely stopped drizzling all day but nothing heavy.
We decided to rejoin the English Heritage as there will be other places this week to visit. Learnt a lot about Victoria and Albert and their nine children and we spent almost the whole day there. Another local pub for dinner and us ladies had the Sunday roast...I think one dinner between us would still have been too much! And of course we ended the evening with more games out of the cupboard.

Monday 13th
Wet start so we made it a lazy start. We ventured out midmorning when it was dry but windy. Our first stop was to Yarmouth Castle but it's closed on a Monday so we've planned that in for Wednesday. So we just carried on our walk along the coast to Fort Victoria, or what remains of the fort. As we walked back across the bridge the gates came down, the traffic stopped and the bridge swung open to let three boats pass through which was very entertaining.
The men went to get some fish and chips takeaway which actually took them ages as the local brew dragged them into a pub for a couple first!

Tuesday 14th
Today was another English Heritage visit to Carisbrooke Castle, our first stop being the donkey demo of bringing up water from the well by walking the wheel
There was so much to see that we wandered around in really lovely weather for hours. 
All that historical education and a lovely meal in a yet another pub left us needing a good walk along a beach so we stopped at Sandown. As we'd already eaten more than enough and I'd brought the home made bread we decided to buy a few bits to go with it and have a light supper and play another silly game! Actually this game was awful so we all strongly advise you to avoid it at all costs!

Wednesday 15th
Us girls headed out to do the two local markets, they were very little craft markets and didn't take long at all. We bought some hand made cards and friendN bought some chutney and was told by the lady that made it that with two of her friends (sitting there too) they had been national chutney champions for the WI four years running. We then rang the men to meet us and we went into Yarmouth Castle using our English Heritage membership, small but very interesting and while we were outside on the upper battlements looking out over the Solent, we watched the lifeboat go out on a rescue and come back. Then it was a lovely walk along the last remaining fully wooden pier after which it was time for lunch. Then buying provisions for later we headed home and out again to walk the marsh land that starts at the old railway station behind the house.

So on through fields of thistles (I said ouch a lot and they laughed) and over styles (I got stuck and they laughed) and bridges then back along the road and beach and back to the harbour. Love the variety! Back home and we made full use of the little garden summer house for our cream tea. 
Of course we needed to work off all those calories so a game of KUBB before another yummy pub dinner. 
All this relaxing is exhausting lol.

Thursday 16th
The Needles, and we were all a little underwhelmed.
The whole site has become too commercial, the Needles are too far away to look impressive and the little cable lift chairs are expensive and don't really go over more than Alum Bay, however not a total disappointment as we all enjoyed the glass blowing demo, I could watch that sort of thing for hours. Yesterday I'd bought friendN an "I-Spy" book for the island and she'd ticked lots of things that we'd already seen but today she wanted to see the oldest standing stone which we wouldn't even have known about if it hadn't been in her book, so a long walk up Strawberry Lane and the stone got a big hug as the information board said it was probably "the most misunderstood prehistoric monument"!

Then we drove to find lunch and found a lovely pub called The White Mouse and we sat in the big bay window with views of the coast and cliffs. More driving round the coast road and a stop at Ventnor then a stop at Shanklin. We'd all had big dinners at the pub so decided to buy a few provisions to help use up what was in our kitchen already for a snacky super out in the garden. The weather had been glorious all day and soon after we came inside it rained, so it was another silly trivia game before bed. Confession.....I only bragged about winning that first scrabble game because I seriously lost everything else hahaha. 

Friday 17th
Our last day and we had to tick off as much as we could in the i-spy book, so first another English Heritage property Appuldurcombe House which none of us could pronounce so when someone called it Applecrumble House it stuck. This one was actually free as it was just a shell of the old building and while we were there they were setting it up for a wedding.
We would have gone into the falconry centre (which we would have had to pay for but the man at the desk when asked if there were toilets was so grumpy we didn't go in. Next stop was Brading for the Roman Villa, and we had lunch there, then to Bembridge but drove through as nowhere to park, and onto Ryde for a walk on the prom, and saw the hovercraft go back and forth a few times and the ferry and the old London underground train they still use along the pier (tick tick tick). Time to sit with an icecream people and boats watching. Then following the coast road to East Cowes and across the estuary on the chain link ferry (sometimes called the floating bridge) then last we could do on the ticklist was Newtown for the oldest townhall in constant use, and we found it but there really was nothing else there to see. We managed to book ourselves into the very popular fish restaurant in Yarmouth and so pleased we did as the food was very yummy and we finished the evening in the nearest pub. 

Saturday 18th
Doesn't a week go by too fast when you're on holiday! So packing up and going home day and the men had hankered all week over the full English breakfast on offer in the pier cafe so that's what we had before getting on the ferry. 
The verdict was we'd all definitely go back to the Isle of Wight and we all prefer Yarmouth side to stay for its uncommercial relaxed atmosphere especially as it's so easy to get around the rest of the island to sightsee.
Lovely holiday with very lovely people and we thank them lots and lots for doing all the driving! 

Friday, 10 July 2015


Made me smileπŸ˜†

Off on holiday tomorrow to the Isle of Wight with friends so hopefully there will be lots to write about when I get back (or while I'm there if we are sitting doing nothing anytime).

Saturday, 4 July 2015

My way (#13) - FAIL....

Over the years I seem to have developed some very definite ways of doing things and usually it's for a very good reason, so I like to share. 

Well this time I'm not sharing a tried and trusted method that makes my life easier, this time I've tested out what someone else had said worked for them. ...not someone I know actually, but a post on facebook linking to a post that I read a while ago so can't even remember who to give credit or feedback to, sorry.

If you have shoes that are a bit tight fill them with a plastic bag of water then freeze, because water expands when frozen therefore your shoes will stretch!

As you can see I stuffed the rest of the shoe with newspaper so the expansion could only happen one way. You'll be pleased to know these are new unworn shoes but even so I wrapped them in another plastic bag for hygiene sake.  So I left them in the freezer for 24 hours and it didn't work, so I did it all again for another 24 hours and again it didn't work.

What's your way?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Phew it's hot. ....

But you knew that already!

Last Sunday was warm too but unfortunately it turned out to be a very wet day and in great British tradition we had plans for watching a band live in the park and starting with a picnic.
We couldn't change our plans as E is a percussionist for the South Suffolk Youth Orchestra who were the ones performing, so we went and got a bit wet and mostly sheltered under a tree, but were rewarded with a great concert and this xylophone duet which made me a very proud grandma as granddaughter E is only just 13 years old.

Buggar it won't let me put the video here, says it's too big,
and I'm not sure how to link to it either, but you can
 find it on my Facebook page if you're a friend. 
Please let me know if there's a way I can do it! 

Monday I met friendJ (we go back some 40+ years) so a very long lovely catchup lunch, and she got me back in touch with another friend from our youth ☺

Tuesday hubby and I met friendsL&K at Audley End, which is an English Heritage manor house and we did the garden tour before a lovely lunch.

We've been trying to do a little gardening as early in the day as possible before it gets hot and I've been taking my sewing outside but staying in the shade. Our pond is really overgrown but as it's shade for the fish Hubby won't thin it back just yet.

I have to share this.......I showed Hubby my friend's daughter's yoga pose photo and he proved he could do it too. Not bad for a 63 year old man eh?

It's a bit awkward in our Close this week as the gas board are replacing old pipe work with new, so lots of hole digging with noisy drills and lots of lorry road blockages but thankfully not causing too many inconveniences and they do keep letting us know what is happening when. Think they are messing up our drive and possibly having to lift a lot of our patio next Monday. ...fingers crossed it all goes back ok.

Last night I cleaned the oven, you see life isn't always so glamorous!

As an extra note all bloggers love getting comments, however, occasionally I comment on other blog posts and they never show up because for some reason their filter hadn't liked me. So may I suggest all bloggers regularly check their spam folder incase I'm caught in there desperate to be set free.