Sunday 24 September 2023

New Job! All the Old 45's! A busy old week!!

What a week!
A busy one, after a slow start!
A wet, windy miserable start!!
Rescued sunflowers from the rain.

I had no plans for the start of the week. Ideally, get out and walk with my camera but the rain put a stop to that. So by Wednesday, with still no change in the weather, I decided to go to the cinema. I love our local cinema, currently £5 for a film, with free coffee and biscuits!! So as there was an 11am screening, I watched Agatha Christie's 'A Haunting in Venice'.

Had a mooch in Wells, bit of lunch, then stayed to watch the 3pm screening of 
 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3'. Not brilliant but some of the scenery was worth the watch. 

Then Thursday was something different. 
Interview shoes!!

I had an interview for the role of Exam Invigilator up at Jeff's school......

.........and I got offered the job!!!

 It's a zero hour contract, periods of time dotted throughout the year for exam rehearsals, mocks, then the real thing. I just have to give my availability and then they match you to a morning or afternoon session, or both. It's not going to be mega bucks but it'll top up the money pot but it also doesn't tie me down. I will of course offer what I can and when I know when the exam periods are, I'll try and make myself as available as much as I can, but it's no weekends, no late nights, nothing during the school holidays, nothing at Christmas!!!!!! Hopefully it'll be enough to keep me afloat.

 Friday and I bused and trained it up to Cardiff - 4 hours!!

Sophie collected me from Newport train station and then we met up with Sam for food, before he had to go to work. I love the fact they both live in the same city and that I get to see them both when I visit x

Saturday was actually a nice day, well blue skies in the morning. 

So, Sophie took me over to Lisvane & Llanishen Reservoirs.

Home of the Waxcap Fungi!!
She likes it there as there are no dogs! Anyway, we had a nice wander around the reservoirs, then had a spot of brunch, watching the clouds roll in!

I then headed into Cardiff in the afternoon, to meet up with my old school friend Mel. We've known each other for 41 years!!! I'd mentioned a while back that I'd got tickets to see Deacon Blue in Cardiff...... well so had she!! We've not seen each other since Covid, so it was a fab opportunity to have a catch up!

Jeff came up by car, after work and I got to properly meet Mel's other half, having only met each other briefly twice before. Although I feel I know him, as I follow him on Instagram - he takes the best photographs xx

Had a lovely meal in Zizzi's.....

....before heading to the Arena, for the main event.

We weren't sat together but not a million miles apart!!

Jeff and I had fantastic seats, 6 rows from the front, end of aisle, but as ever, I still had some chunk of a guy in front of me. Still, had a fantastic view and a fantastic night!!

'All the Old 45's Tour' 

saw them back in the day, as a student at Leeds University, 1989? when visiting my sister. Then Jeff and I saw them in Portsmouth in 2018. We had tickets to see them on my actual 50th birthday in 2020, but it got cancelled due to Covid and then when they gave a new date, we couldn't go as it was moved to a weekday evening. Still, it was worth the wait, they are just fantastic live.

They didn't have a support act, instead they performed the first part acoustically.....

...then after a short interval, came on and did what they do best!!!

Ricky Ross

The fabulous Lorraine McIntosh (Ricky's wife)

Deacon Blue! 

They performed a great mix of old and new and went a good 20 minutes over the scheduled end time. So much energy and just a joy to watch.

Sophie very kindly collected us from the Arena and gave up her bed for the night! How the tables have turned!!! Had a relaxed morning at Sophie's, before setting off and heading home. Back in time for lunch, a line of washing out on the line to dry and Jeff got to spend a couple of much needed hours out in the garden, in the dry. Came home with a tin of the new 'Very Jelly Munch' from M&S. They're our Christmas treat tins, so I've hidden them away in the cupboard. Have decided to buy things as they come up on offer or with these tins, when I see them, as last year they were hard to get hold of. We don't have an M&S close by, Sophie has one a 10 min walk away, so it's great that I can get her to keep a look out for things x

So a busy week but a good one! 
Got to see the kids. 
Got to meet up with Mel and Ade. 
Got to see Deacon Blue and spend time with Jeff. 
Got a JOB!!!

It's the final week of September ahead! Doesn't seem 5 minutes ago it was the start of the month!! Have got a few things on this coming week but am really hoping the weather improves, and I can get out with my camera. Autumn will have come and gone at this rate!!

Have a good week xx

Sunday 17 September 2023

Half way......

.......through September already!!!

Back from Amsterdam and time for a change. Charlotte always colours my hair and then Di cuts it. But Di has just had a hip operation, so whilst she recuperates, Charlotte got to cut my hair too and I decided to go for the chop.....'short' short hair again! It may not not look that different but it certainly feels it and is a lot less faffy!!!

The garden is continuing to surprise. 
We have a few self-seeded 'somethings' growing!!
Won't have to buy anything for Halloween at this rate!

I spent Wednesday morning in my 'happy place' Stockhill Woods.

Spotted my first 'red and white spotty fungi find' of the season.

It was well hidden, but always a joy to spot.
As I was in the area, popped into Wells for a quick mooch, forgetting it was Market day, 
far too busy, so didn't hang around.

Collected the boy on Thursday from Bridgwater train station. He's not been home all summer, so was nice to see him......although he was straight out to friends, then partying in Bristol Friday night, out to the pub on Saturday and is currently at friends as I type......back to Cardiff this evening!! 
So not seen that much of him!

The weather has turned, summer is over. So I'm spending my time planning our next trip. Just 4 and a half weeks to Barcelona. I've never been, it's my belated 50th birthday trip. Just getting a rough feel for the place, need to book a couple of things ahead of time, so need to work out what to see and a rough idea of when!

We've also booked our Greek adventure for Summer 2024. As soon as the flights come out, we book! We are always planning a year ahead, to make the most on any savings we can.We need hold luggage for this trip due to the length of our stay. As a result, we're paying more for our luggage on our return flight than we are for our seats!!!

Saturday and it was off to Bristol (very autumnal).... meet Sophie.
I see more of her now, than when she lived at home!!

We had tickets to see the Take That Musical, Greatest Days. I had seen it before, back in 2018 with Jeff, when it was called The Band. You can't go wrong with a bit of Take That!! Enjoyed a little shopping and lunch - thank you Sophie xx I then met Sam and brought him home with me, after partying in Bristol. Fed him, before he was out again to the pub, to catch up with old school friends!

And before you know it, it's Sunday again. A wet, miserable Sunday BUT a Sunday I don't have to work!!! Am certainly loving having a much more relaxed Sunday at home. Treated us to stroopwafles and coffee, a little treat from Amsterdam x

I've got a casserole in the oven and am about to make a crumble. 
Making use of the apples we've got in the garden and blackberries in the freezer!

It does feel like Autumn is creeping in. Strictly started last night!
The sunflowers though are still bringing a little sunshine. 
We've enjoyed 2 and a half months of flowers, well worth doing. 
Have got a quieter week next week, before another busy weekend.
I'm hoping for a bit of dry weather to get out with my camera, go for a walk, enjoy the autumnal feels. I should start the decorating!!!! Always an easy one to put off for another day! I can easily fill my fact, I do wonder when I found the time to work before!! Am making the most of it whilst I can, before the money pot needs topping up!!!

Tuesday 12 September 2023


Have just returned from a very HOT few days in Amsterdam with Sophie.

The irony!!! We chose Amsterdam as it wouldn't be hot!!! 
It was actually 30+ every day!!

Day one, Amsterdam! 

Super busy, super hot, 30 degrees + but got off to a great 'early' start. Traveled by car, plane, train, bus and tram (all on the first day). After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we visited the Albert Cuyp Market. It's super busy on the weekend but was quite chilled on a weekday but annoyingly, the number one Stroopwafle maker wasn't open, so we planned to source the second best another day! Tried the Dutch apple cake instead and that did not disappoint. Whilst meandering our way around the city, we found the De Carrousel Pannenkoeken, and shared our first 'poffertjes' - small pancakes topped with butter and icing sugar and they were delicious. We continued to wander and came across the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Heineken Brewery. They were all in full sun and it was hot!!! So we spent the afternoon in Vondelpark, in search of shade! After a couple of hours people watching and taking in the bike movements, we had tea at the Food Hallen. A selection of different cuisines housed in an old tram shed! Feeling tired, we headed back to the hotel.
A busy, tiring, hot first day!

Day two, Amsterdam! 

An early start, we booked tickets to go to the Anne Frank Museum 6 weeks ago. Good job as they're sold out for the day!! We got the tram and then walked our way there, stopping for breakfast 'poffertjes' on the way. A very moving, thought provoking hour! The mission for the day was to keep Sophie cool. So we wandered the Negen Straats (Nine Streets) and then around the Jordaan area. Stopping at shady Street Cafes and wandering down tree lined streets. Found the 'The Fault in our Stars bench', made famous by the film and came across plenty of  shops selling mushrooms and not the type I find in the woods!! When researching Amsterdam’s food, potatas frites came up in every search, topped traditionally with mayo. So, that's what we had for lunch. We joined the queue for Fabel Friet, thinking they'd better be worth it........and they were! Found a spot to perch along the canal, delicious!

We ended the day with a fab boat cruise along the canals. Taking in many sights along the way, including the 'Dancing Houses' (above)

Day three, Amsterdam! 

And it was hot! hot! hot! We started off by hiring bikes and cycling around Vondelpark. I last rode a bike at Center Parcs, however many years ago that was!?! But it's true what they say.....'You never forget' and I absolutely loved it! Next up, was the Floating Flower Market - Bloemenmarkt. Sooooo many tulip bulbs!! Lunch stop was at 'blue Amsterdam' a cafe up on the 3rd floor of a shopping complex, with free 360-degree views across Amsterdam. We spent the afternoon wandering along the Kalverstraat, the main shopping street, making the most of the aircon, up to De Wallen, the Old town. But it was so open and there was no shade, so we didn't hang around, and after a quick peek around the Red Light District, we went in search of  Tony's Chocoloney. The home of the most delicious chocolate. Although, disappointingly, due to the heat, the 'make your own flavour bar machine' wasn't working!! Too HOT!! We didn't have time to go back again in the morning when it was cooler. Oh well, we saved ourselves some calories!! The cafe was closed too, again I guess due to the heat!! Will buy a bar from the supermarket instead, although I'm pretty sure we have most flavours now back in the UK. Next up, we headed back to Centraal Staion to catch the free ferry over to NDSM, a former industrial shipyard, now home to the Straat Graffiti and Street Art Museum.

They're right, you never forget how to ride a bike!
Had to give it a go in Amsterdam x

I love street art and graffiti. I love the colour, the boldness of design, the message it shares and the absolute skill and creativity of the artists. I would have happily spent time in the Straat Graffiti and Street Art Museum but it's not Sophie's Cup of tea!! Next time xx

Day four Amsterdam! 

We started off bright and early catching the bus to Centraal Station, then walking on to the OBA - Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam. Where we enjoyed breakfast up on the 7th floor, with free views across Amsterdam! The actual library was pretty cool too. Then we set off to catch a train, firstly to Zaanse Schans village......

......home to Windmills and traditional craft workshops! Where we spent 4hrs wandering. 
Next up, colourful Zaandam and home to the Inntel Hotel where the iconic green Zaan cottages are stacked 11 stories high to make one gigantic hotel. 

And then, an eventful train ride home. The train came to a sudden halt, electrical fault, ended up an hour later, with workmen cutting through a metal fence, having to jump off the train, down the bank, over the fence and walk home!! More steps than planned!! Absolutely knackered!!

At least no one was hurt, but not how I thought our evening would end!!

Day five, Amsterdam! 

We were up early, making the best of our time before checking out of our hotel. Got the tram back into the Negen Straats area, as we really liked it there. Had our last poffertjes for breakfast and bought a few treats to take home in JUMBO! I love a foreign Supermarket - Tony's, stroopwafles, Kruidnoten! all went into the basket. Anyway, we didn't have much time and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel and check out. We went on to Schiphol Airport early via the train, as it's so big and soooooo very busy! We finally found the Iamsterdam letters there, at last. They apparently get moved around the city! Flight was delayed by an hour, but it's a quick 50 minute flight and before we knew it, we were home. 


Bikes and canals, classic Amsterdam!

One hot Sophie!!

Our hotel, the XO Blue Tower. 

The cheapest option....Amsterdam is really expensive! So we ended up staying further out and booking the hotel directly through the website and saving ourselves €50. We were on the 9th floor, and had fantastic views. There were 2 supermarkets directly next to the hotel and in front, a small shopping complex. The tram and bus stops were less than a 5 minute walk, which took you easily into the center of Amsterdam. I basically work on the fact, especially with a city break, you literally just sleep and shower, so although it would be lovely to wake up right by some famous landmark or in a really posh place, it's not worth paying a premium for. As long as it's clean and in a safe area, it's fine.

Our favourite 'poffertjes'

The food on the whole was quite limiting, in terms of a main meal. Maybe the heat had brought all the locals out too, but it was super busy in the good places and posher places needed reservations, so we didn't really eat a proper meal!. We were fine for breakfast and lunch but ended up picnicing in the evenings. Enjoyed all the 'must try's' though - Dutch Apple Cake, stroopwafles, frites, poffertjes xx

So a fab few days in Amsterdam. 
For me, the sunshine was most welcome, but there again, even for me, it could have been a little cooler. For Sophie, it needed to be 10 degrees cooler. We booked Amsterdam, thinking it would be around 22-24 degrees, not 30+, so I think she would have enjoyed it more, if it had not been so hot.

 We still managed to get a lot done, walked 1000's and 1000's of steps, drank gallons of water, and the fan she bought in Majorca was put to good use! But the heat was a little too much at times xx
Will just have to go back again, when it's a little cooler x