Wednesday 28 March 2018

Kidwelly for New Year

Hi there everyone 😀

I know it seems like an absolute age ago but we had a big family get away for the 2017-18 New Year. There were 11 of us in total ... Martin and I, mum and dad, my brother and sister, their partners, my two nephews and my brother’s partner’s mum ... so a real spread across the age range, from toddler to pensioner.
We stayed in The Old Cow Shed, a converted barn at St Ishmael, close to Kidwelly, a village on the Welsh coast south of Carmarthen.
It was the perfect location, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but with plenty of lovely and interesting places to visit within easy reach. It was toasty warm, with plenty of room for everyone, reliable WiFi and had a hot tub, which didn’t get that much use, and a pool table, which went down very well.
As well as lots of eating and drinking, celebrating the New Year and having plenty of quiz nights, we managed to get out and about a fair bit.

Our first trip out was ‘en masse’ and on foot. We had a walk from where we were staying, through the local caravan park, under the railway which was just a little wet, though there were no wet feet worries for the little guy ...
... and through the Parkdean Holiday Park to the beach ...
We were lucky with the weather and even saw some sunshine on the beach and the selfie stick certainly came in handy ...
The Holiday Park was closed for the season and was almost eerily quiet, though I can imagine it would be heaving at a different time of year ...
We had hoped to make it a circular walk, but ended up having to retrace our steps as the second tunnel under the railway was flooded and impassable without getting very wet feet.
On New Year’s Eve we all took the short drive back into Kidwelly where we spent a good hour or so exploring the castle ...

... with lots of family photo opportunities ...

... culminating with this one shot which managed to inclue everyone ...

After exhausting everything the castle had to offer we walked into the Main Street of the village in search of refreshment. We found a little cafe where we lucked out and managed to grab a table big enough to seat us all.
The cafe was owned by a lovely lady who used to be the local mayor. I was completely in awe of the most beautiful quilt displayed on the wall and she told us all about the story behind it and the fact that the each of the cats belonged to local people who were represented on the quilt.

It was a very welcome pit stop, the little guy was shattered, and there was cwtching all round as we left.
We took the path alongside the river back to the castle where we were definitely treated to the best view ...As well as lots of time spent together as a family there were days when we all just pretty much did our own thing and Martin and I did head out on our own a couple of times.

On New Year’s Day the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We spent the afternoon in Ferryside, another tiny village on the edge of the estuary, just a couple of miles up the road.

We followed the railway along the side of the estuary ...

... stopping off now and then along the way ...

There isn’t much at Ferryside at all, other than a railway station and the most beautiful of beaches ... 

There were also masses of shells and we couldn't help but collect a pocket full ... 
For our other big day out Martin and I headed to Tenby, which was about 40 minutes away. It was a glorious day and it had been so long since we’d visited that we’d both forgotten just how lovely it was ...
We parked in the multi storey car park and did the usual circuit, heading for the south beach and walking along the beach past St Catherine’s Island.
Again, we were lucky with the weather and it was really bright, but very windy and the sand was being blown along like a sandstorm. We were glad we weren’t walking into the wind.
The tide wasn’t out far enough for us to carry on along the beach around the castle so we took the steps up and walked round the mound, past the old and new life boat stations to the harbour ...

... and then on to north beach where we were aiming for a photo of that iconic view of Tenby looking back across the harbour ...

We then headed back into town where we had lunch in The Lighthouse restaurant, before making our way back through the pretty streets to the car. We took the coast road back to The Old Cow Shed, via Saundersfoot and Laugherne, where the roads were littered with pebbles that had been left behind as a result of the storms that we’d had whilst we’d been away.

We actually managed to cram in far more than we'd been expecting to over the course of the week and, whilst it had been lovely spending lots of time together as a family and to have been by the sea at a different time of year to normal, I think we were all ready to come home for a bit of peace, quiet and personal space and to get cracking on with 2018 😀


Monday 26 March 2018

London - A 12 Hour Taster

Hi there everyone

I've seen a few posts on other blogs I follow where people have managed to capture the course of their day with one photo an hour and I thought my day trip to London last week might be a good chance to have a go at this to see how I got on.

I will confess up front, I found it tricky. We did and saw so much and I took over 100 photos. Slimming this down to just 13 was very difficult for me. In fact, I am sure there will be another post, following very shortly, which will give the 'best of the rest' and fill in the gaps.

But here we go ...

I was up bright and early, it was very cold, but looked like it was going to be a bright and clear day ...

There was just time for the last piece of banana and sultana flapjack for breakfast before starting out ...

Martin took me to the station, where it all got a bit chaotic. An earlier London train looked to be cancelled because of problems with the overhead cables and I was a bit concerned that mine may be cancelled too. Nobody seemed to know quite what was going on and it was a bit of an anxious wait ...

Luckily my train wasn't cancelled, though it was a little late. After all the uncertainty at the station it was lovely to just sit back, relax and enjoy the journey. Next stop Euston ...

Having arrived safely at Euston and managed to work out how best to negotiate the underground I arrived at Temple Station. It was pretty chilly ...

Now, this is where it starts to get tricky, as we crammed quite a bit in over the course of this hour. I was meeting my friend at 2 Temple Place, literally a two minute walk from the tube station. We were planning on exploring the Inns of Court and it was a really handy place to meet. It's free to enter, there's a cafe and there is currently a jazz exhibition on, though we were more interested in the building than the exhibition.

Within a couple of minutes of me arriving, my friend appeared and we both warmed up over tea and cake. After a good old catch up we decided we would have a wander round the exhibition before heading out to start our walk.

It is a lovely building, but I can't show you a photo, as we left before 12pm 😖 There will definitely have to be another post.

At 12.00pm we had started our walk and were at Temple Church, the church of Inner and Middle Temple, two of England's four ancient societies of lawyers. For me, the lure was the part it played in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code ... as you will know, I am definitely a fan.
It's an extraordinary looking church and just literally seems to appear out of nowhere, being surrounded by buldings on all sides. It was instantly recognisable from the film and I couldn't wait to get inside and have a look around.

It costs just £5 to go in and is definitely worth the visit. There isn't loads to see but there is lots of information about the Knights Templar and their history, along with a current exhibition of the Temple in WW1.

From here we wound our way through narrow passages and across quiet squares and gardens, crossed over Fleet Street and Holborn heading for Gray's Inn.

Having had to detour to avoid construction works we finally found our way into Gray's Inn ...

We headed back South from Gray's Inn, through Staple Inn to Lincoln's Inn, where I was gutted to find the view pretty much hidden by construction work and container units, though it was easy to see how lovely it was and we did get some good photos, which I will have to save for later.

We were starting to feel the need for refreshment by now and decided that we would head for Somerset House for lunch, passing the Royal Courts of Justice on the way ...
We ate in Fernandez & Wells, which was an interesting experience, though not quite what either of us was expecting and we decided what we would do for the rest of the day.

We agreed to catch a bus from just across the road to St Paul's cathedral, then walk across the Millennium Bridge and along the South Bank, before heading back across the river to Covent Garden, where we planned to eat again, before heading for home.

We got really lucky and jumped on a bus pretty much as soon as we reached the stop and it was only a short ride back along The Strand and Fleet Street to St Paul's. I was beginning to feel like I was on the monopoly board!

The bus journey was a real treat. Although it was only a short ride we got to see so many interesting old buildings, tucked in between newer and modern architecture, it always amazes me how some tiny ancient bits manage to survive and often, it seems to be the pubs that stand the test of time, while everything around them changes. We also got to hear the bells of St Clements for real, which was a bit surreal, having grown up playing 'Oranges & Lemons'.

The path down to the Millennium Bridge gives you fabulous views looking back at St Paul's ...
The views of and from the Millennium Bridge are also something that I will share with you in another post as they were pretty impressive and, by this time, we were being treated to a perfect sky for photography.

On the South bank of the river it was a lot busier and there were lots of people about. We got to see The Globe Theatre and wandered through The Turbine Hall of The Tate Modern as we made our way down towards The London Eye.

As my creaking joints were beginning to tire we had a bit of a sit in the sun by the side of the river, shared videos of our favourite little people and just watched the world go by ...

By 5.00pm we were heading across the Hungerford Bridge, starting to make our way back towards Covent Garden.

There were some great views of The London Eye to be had from the bridge ...

By now it was starting to get quite chilly again and the wind was picking up, but we were OK. We were tucked up nice and warm in Cafe Rouge just off Covent Garden, where we rested our legs, enjoyed our dinner and debated our day ...

Time to make our way back to Euston for the journey home ...

We had a lovely day. Whilst my friend is a frequent visitor of our capital, I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited.

For me, if visiting the city just for one day, you need a plan. Otherwise you could end up spending all day wondering what to do and travelling from one place to another. What we did worked really well, focussing in on one particular area and working out how we were going to get about beforehand.

We parted at Euston, agreeing that we would definitely have another visit, perhaps looking at the museum area of the city next time.

Well, I managed it, just one photo an hour. It wasn't easy, I feel like I've left loads out and, though I know it's cheating really, I'm sure there will be another post coming your way very soon, which could well be quite picture heavy 😊


Saturday 24 March 2018

50 Things to do before I'm 60 - 2017 Update

Hi there everyone

Remember my '50 things to do before I'm 60'?

When I hit 50 back in 2014 I decided to set myself a list of 50 things that I wanted to achieve by the time I hit 60.

I published the first 10 of my list back in February 2015 and I reviewed how I was getting on a year later here.

Even now, over three years later, there is still one of my original 10 goals that I haven't even made a start on ...
5 - Make something in mosaic

And two that I'm still working slowly towards ....
➤6 - Complete my online photography course
➤9 - Holiday in all of the National Parks of Great Britain

I published goals 11-15 at the beginning of 2016 and these were reviewed at the beginning of last year here.

Over the course of last year a big decision was made on goal number 11 ...

11 - Either go camping again ... or get rid of all the camping stuff
It was with very heavy heart indeed that Martin and I decided that our camping days were over. The creaking joints and aching bones made us decide that we couldn't see us ever packing up all the stuff, loading up the car and living in a tent in all weathers for any length of time again.

We borrowed a friend's garden, set up the tent for one last time, took lots of photographs and advertised it for sale.
We managed to sell it on Facebook, along with a windbreak, camping wardrobe, cupboard, kitchen unit, the electric hook up and a box full of kitchen utensils.

We couldn't bear to part with the camping cooker and lamps, so we will be fine if we ever have a Zombie attack and have no electricity 😅

Whilst it was a sad day, it was good to have made the decision and the space gained has certainly come in handy.

There is now just the one of goals 11-15 where no progress has been made at all and that is ...
➤14 - Finish off the Explorer 232 Geocaching series
When I did my last review, at the beginning of last year, I said that there hadn't been much Geocaching occurring at all and I wasn't sure whether we'd fallen out of love with it or whether Martin's problems with his ankle and knee had just put us off doing much walking. It was one that I wanted to do more on last year, so I'm a bit disappointed to report no progress at all.

At the beginning of last year it was time to share goals 16-20 and now it's time to let you know how I got on ...

16 - Visit The Kelpies
I am pleased to announce that I now have my very own images of these breathtaking sculptures ...
We managed to pull in a quick visit when we were on our way to Scotland, on holiday with mum and dad in June last year.

They did not disappoint and I would really like to back and explore the area further as there are loads of other things that look like they are definitely worth exploring.

17 - Lose weight, go down four dress sizes!
Now pretty much all life coaches would say that if you write something down you are more likely to achieve it. That definitely has not worked with this one. If anything it was the kiss of death, as all the good work I'd done in the previous year, became very firmly undone. I need to have a chat with myself and get back on it and soon 😊

18 - Become an Auntie again
As I shared last year, my gorgeous new nephew, Bobby, arrived towards the end of 2016 and spending time with him is still an absolute delight. It is wonderful watching him growing and learning new things and just generally wearing himself out whilst loving life ...

19 - Holiday in The New Forest
This one was also achieved at the end of 2016, with our week's stay in Sway ...

and last, but by no means least ...

20 - Go up Snowdon on the Railway
I had so hoped that we would get to do this last year. We spent a long weekend in Betws-y-Coed and actually visited Llanberis, but the weather just hadn't been predictable enough for us to manage to book tickets.

We did make it on to the Llanberis Lake Railway though ...
It didn't quite have the impact that we hope the Snowdon Mountain Railway will have and we are definitely planning yet another return visit. I will get to go on that railway if it kills me.

So, that brings me totally up to date with how I'm getting on with the first 20 of my 50 goals.

  • 14 have been fully achieved
  • 1 continues to progress nicely and
  • 5 have either not yet been started or have come to a grinding halt

I think I may be coming to the point where I have to decide if I really want to do some of these things and, if I do, then properly commit to making them happen.

It's now time to decide on goals 21-25 and I hope to be back very soon to share these with you 😉