Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Isle of Wight Holiday Diary #10 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens & Steephill Cove

Hi there everyone 😀

It was mum and dad's first full day on the Isle of Wight with us and the weather forecast didn't look too terrible so we decided on a big day out ...

Day 12 - Wednesday
We did have a bit of a wet start to the day but decided to head out anyway. The plan was to start out at Ventnor Botanical Gardens, have a good look round and then have a walk along the coastal path to Steephill Cove.

Whilst it did dry up it was still very grey but we did manage to find a few pops of colour in the gardens ...
We wandered round half of the garden before heading out the back and onto the coastal path for the walk to Steephill Cove ...
I have to say that it was a far shorter and easier walk, than it was the last time we'd visited, when we walked from Ventnor ... in spite of the steps ...
It was an awful lot greyer too ...
This was how it looked on our first visit back in the sunshine in 2017 ...
Not only was it a bit dull and grey ... but we discovered that Wednesday is just not the best day to visit ...
So, without even having the chance for a cup of tea and piece of cake or a much needed visit to the ladies it was a not so quick trot back up the steps ...
... and back into the Botanical Gardens to avail ourselves of their facilities.

Refreshed we finished off exploring the other half of the garden ...
... before heading for home for the evening ... via The White Mouse Inn ...
... where we filled our bellies before getting tucked up back at Bramble Cottage ready for the new series of Doc Martin ... Happy days 😀😀😀

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Monday, 17 February 2020

50 Things to do before I'm 60 - What's Next?

Hi there everyone 😀

Following my last '50 Things' update .... now felt like a good time to share the next batch of the 50 Things that I'd like to do before I'm 60 with you.

Some of them I managed to complete during the last part of 2019 and some are definitely on the cards for later in the year.

As new things keep getting added to the list all the time I can well imagine that I may end up turning this into a 60 or even 70 things post, but for now I am still aiming for the 50.

So here is what is on the cards for the time being ...

37 - Find a new volunteering opportunity
Since I finished work back in January 2014 I've been considering committing to a new volunteering challenge. I've been really concerned about taking something on and not being able to commit to it properly. I didn't want to get myself into a position where I ended up either letting anyone down or regretting taking something on.

It was only really towards the end of the year that I felt ready to give something a go and the ideal opportunity presented itself at the right time. Back in November I did my first volunteer shift at our local foodbank. It's in walking distance and doesn't start until lunchtime so it's really convenient for me ... as well as being a really good cause.

So far I've only done three shifts so it's not that onerous, though it is very hard work and exceedingly humbling. I've met lots of great new people and I think it's going to be something that I really enjoy doing.

38 - Visit Chatsworth for Christmas and the Christmas Markets
Whilst I've visited Chatsworth numerous times over the years I've never been over the Christmas period. We've been trying to do something Christmassy in our November holidays for the last few years ... visiting Castle Howard in Yorkshire in 2017 and the Longleat Festival of Light in 2018.

We decided that our Christmas treat for 2019 would be to visit Chatsworth, whilst the Christmas markets were on, have a nice lunch, a wander round the gardens and see the house all decked out for Christmas.

With some seriously bad weather and flooding in the week before we visited it was touch and go for a while as to whether we would be ticking this one off the list, but the site stayed open for those who had pre-booked and we managed to get our visit in. I've lots more to share with you about this visit but seem to be a bit behind on the blogging front at the moment ... so look out for it if you want to see more.

39 - Have a photo featured in the Visit Isle of Wight top 10 fan photos
Since falling in love with the Isle of Wight when we first visited in 2016 I've been a member of the Visit Isle of Wight Facebook Group. When we made our third visit back in September 2019 I decided that a goal for our break would be to have one of my photographs featured in their weekly 'Top 10 Fan photos'.

I was thrilled to bits when this one was actually featured ...

40 - Take a break in Windsor and see the sights
I've liked the idea of spending some quality time in Windsor for a long time. I wanted to see the Castle and the Changing of the Guard, Eton College, wander the High Street and generally explore.

As a bit of a last minute thing Martin and I are just back from a few days spent staying in our first ever Airbnb. We were both a bit nervous about what we would find but we needn't have worried ... it was just fab and Windsor was everything I hoped it would be.
Again, I've lots to share with you so I'm sure I will be posting about our visit very soon.

41 - Re-visit Warner Bros Studios to see Gringotts Bank
When I heard last year that there had been an addition of the Gringotts Bank set to the Warner Brother Studio Tour I just knew that I really wanted to go again to see it.

We went early January with mum and dad and it most definitely did not disappoint.

42 - Cycle to Elford Hall Gardens
We both really want to get out on our bikes more, but it's difficult finding good circular routes that are about the right distance for us, as neither of us are that fit.
When we visited the Elford Scarecrow Festival last year we both agreed that it would be lovely to spend more time in the walled garden in the summer and thought it might make a nice bike ride, with a picnic ... if we get some sunshine.

We were both a bit worried about how far it actually is, but have worked it out on Google maps and think we could probably just about manage it ... if we go from mum and dad's, rather than from home.

I really hope we get some good weather and am determined that we will give it a go.

43 - Visit Glamis Castle
When we visited Balmoral back in 2017 and saw the photos of Glamis Castle I decided right there and then that I definitely wanted to visit.

We have a week booked in a holiday cottage, staying in Dunkeld, later in the year and a visit to Glamis is definitely on the cards.

44 - Visit Clevedon
Back in 2018 we spent a day at Weston-super-Mare and when we drove home we came through the tiny village of Clevedon on the Severn Estuary. It looked really lovely and I definitely want to visit to explore further ... there is also a National Trust property nearby so I'm hoping that we can get to make a day of it over the summer.

45 - Visit new places in The Peak District ... Padley Gorge, Cheedale Stepping Stones, Three Shires Head, New Mills
I've recently joined the Let's Go Peak District Facebook group and have been seeing lots of photos of beautiful places in The Peaks that have reminded me just how beautiful the area is. There are a few places that have definitely made it onto the list for visiting and when we were staying in Ashford-in-the Water back in November we managed to explore Padley Gorge, which was just beautiful ...
We also got to see Owler Tor and the three reservoirs ... I've lots of pictures waiting to be shared, so it's another one to be looking out for.

46 - Cycle round Carsington Water
This is one that's been in the back of my mind for a while. I'm not sure how far it is to cycle round and I'm not sure if it's a bit too far to drive for for the day, but I definitely want to bike round the reservoir.

47 - Read more
You may have seen from my first Reading Corner post that this year I really want to get back into reading. I've always loved curling up with a book but for some reason I hardly read anything at all in 2019. This year I am aiming to read at least two books a month and will be blogging my thoughts on what I've read across the year.

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So there you have it! A few more under the belt already and plans to get out and about and tick a few more off the list before the end of the year.

It looks like I'm definitely going to be increasing the number from 50 as I just keep finding more things that I really want to do. At least I won't be hitting 60 thinking I've spent 10 years doing nothing, it's lovely being able to look back and see what we've done.

Thanks for letting me share my goals and objectives with you ... I think knowing I'm going to be sharing what we've done makes me just a little bit accountable to myself to make sure that I don't while away all of my days ... though every now and again that's quite nice too 😀

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Thursday, 13 February 2020

Isle of Wight Holiday Diary #9 - We've got Visitors!

Hi there everyone 😀

Having spent the first 10 days of our Isle of Wight break by ourselves, mum and dad arrived today, to spend the next week with us. They hadn't visited the Isle of Wight for a proper look round since I was a child and we'd saved all the most popular sights to visit whilst they were staying with us.

Day 11 - Tuesday
We agreed to meet them from the ferry in the main car park in Yarmouth and as they arrived the weather did not look good. In fact it was throwing it down with rain ...

Undeterred we decided against just heading back to Bramble and unpacking but opting for a quick wander round Yarmouth, starting in the dry with breakfast in one of our favourite places ...
By the time we emerged the weather had perked up a bit and we had the obligatory wander out along the pier ...
By the time we'd walked to the end of the pier there were even the signs of just a little bit of blue sky and sunshine ...

Bouyed on by the improving weather we opted for a very quick visit to Freshwater Bay ...

... followed by another quick call in at Victoria Fort on our way back to Bramble to get mum and dad settled in ...

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Monday, 10 February 2020

Isle of Wight Holiday Diary #8 - There's more to Bembridge than meets the Eye

Hi there everyone 😀

I know it seems like an age ago but for today's post we are back on the Isle of Wight, picking up on our three week break there at the end of the summer last year.

Having spent a lovely day exploring Culver Down & The Bembridge Windmill  we decided to head back over to Bembridge to see what else we could find ...

Day 10 - Monday
Whilst it was quite grey it seemed that the rain of the previous day had moved on, at least for a while, and we started out with a re-visit to the lifeboat station ...

We had a walk out to the station, but were a bit early so didn't get to see inside this time ... it's definitely worth a look though, if you've not been before.

We wondered back to shore, taking in the sky which just looked amazing ... 
We had a brief wander along the beach and found, what I would say is the best view to be had of the lifeboat station, especially with the light as it was ...

It was a good spot for a vintage selfie ... you know the kind ... where you prop your camera up, set the self timer and make a mad dash to get in front of the camera before it goes off ...


I have to say that I'd almost forgotten how much better quality this type of 'selfie' is ... even when taken with a phone with a half decent camera ...
We headed back to the car, taking in the new mural ...

... and Wave sculpture which had appeared since our last visit ...
It was time to head off and our next stop was Bembridge village, where we had a wander round a few gift and antique shops before having a look at the church ...
... before having to break out the brolly as the rain could hold off no more ...

By now we were ready to find somewhere for lunch and, after consulting the trusty OS map, we decided to head for St Helens Duver, which was just around the other side of the Bembridge harbour and somewhere we'd not visited before.

Being National Trust members we took advantage of the NT car park, which was a little off piste, but gave us a nice walk through the dunes to the sea front ...

... from where it was but a short walk to Baywatch on the Beach, which looked very inviting, so we headed in and had the nicest lunch with a fab view ...

Refreshed we had a short wander a bit further along to the remains of St Helens church ... 

The tower is all that remains of the church which was built early in the twelfth century and dates from about 1220. The church was ceased to be used in 1703 when the tower was bricked up and turned into the seamark, which is how it remains today ...
Apparently the derelict church became a source of holy stones which were taken by sailors to scrub down the decks of wooden ships.

We walked to the end of the footpath, which came to a full stop at Nodes Point ...
We decided it was time to call it a day and retraced our steps back along the promenade to head back to Bowcombe and Bramble Cottage 😀

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Thursday, 6 February 2020

A Trip to the Bank ... Gringotts Bank

Hi there everyone 😀

I’ve long been a fan of Harry Potter and one of the 50 things I really wanted to do before I hit 60 was to visit the Waner Bros Studios to experience the Making of Harry Potter experience. We managed to visit a couple of years ago and were not disappointed. It was a real treat and you can see what we thought on our first visit here.

This last year has seen the addition of a new attraction to the tour ... Gringotts bank ... and I really wanted to visit again to get to see it.

This time we took mum and dad ... mum has read all of the books and seen the films and was really looking forward to it, dad being more interested in all that goes into the production of such huge movies.

In preparation for our visit Martin and I managed to re-watch the last two of the films, and we are so glad we did as we definitely got reacquainted with Gringotts.

It’s a bit of a trek for us but we had a fairly straightforward journey and it was lovely to finally be walking into the studios to be greeted by the dragon that we’d seen guarding the bank vaults in Deathly Hallows.
We were a bit early and were lucky enough to be able to get onto an earlier tour ...
This time we made sure to head for the left hand side as we entered the tour introduction, which we knew would give us a fab position in the cinema.

Even though we’d seen it before our entry to the great hall was every bit as impressive as on our first visit. I hadn't really intended taking many photos but some things were just too good not to capture again ... apologies for the quality though as this time all were taken on my phone ...
It was truly spectacular ...
From the great hall we wandered through the various sets ... the boys' dormitory ...
... the Gryffindor common room, decked out for Christmas ...
... Dumbledore's Office ...
... the Potions Lab ...
This time we got to see a demonstration of The Goblet of Fire ...
... the flying Ford Anglia, being periodically attacked by the whomping willow ...
... the Chamber of Secrets snake door ...
... before heading over to the magic of The Burrow ...
... and being confronted with the meeting of the Dark Lord's followers which was very fresh in our mind from the film we had recently caught up with ...
There was the Ministry of Magic ...
... and the Forbidden Forest ...
... before arriving at Kings Cross Station where mum and I had pictures taken on platform 9 3/4 ...
We then had a quickpitstop in the Backlot Cafe before heading outside and on to the next stage of the tour ...
We were starting to get excited now as we knew that the next stop was what Martin and I were waiting for ... and oh my goodness as it was revealed it took our breath away. It was huge and absolutely beautiful, laid out just as we had seen in The Deathly Hallows ... it was just stunning ... and so big ... my phone photos just don't do it justice at all ...

There were plenty of goblin tellers at work ... they looked fabulous ... and so realistic ...
The whole set was very ably watched over by this guy ...
From the public side of the bank we headed through and into the vaults ...
... where we were able to search Bellatrix L'Estrange's vault for Helga Hufflepuff''s cup ...
We then got to see the bank after it had been pretty much totalled by the dragon during Harry, Ron and Hermione's escape from the vaults ...
We exited the bank at the bottom of Diagon Alley and even though we’d seen it before it was still a firm favourite and we made our way up passing all of the familiar shops ... the apothecary ...
... Scribbulus ...
Ollivanders ...
... and plenty more besides ...

Last but not least was the model of the castle which looked every bit as beautiful as it had the first time we’d seen it and I couldn’t resist photographing it again from every angle ...


Isn't it just stunning?

We exited the tour via The Wand Room and Gift Shop ...
It was our second visit and we still spent about 3 hours on the tour and that was without really hanging about, not reading all of the information boards or watching all of the bits of film. It would be very easy to spend lots longer, especially if you hadn’t visited before, but we were ready to head for home.

We all really enjoyed it. For me, it was better for having reacquainted ourselves with the films, but dad hadn’t watched any of the films and he enjoyed it too ... so even if not a total Potter fan I would say it’s definitely still worth a visit if you are looking for something a bit different to do 😀