Goodbye 2018

Even though my day to day life changed almost unrecognisably during 2018, it’s hard to believe that the New Year has rolled around so quickly. I have realised I need to take more pictures of the every day and of our little family and the things we spend our time doing when we are together (mainly during the weekends).

The year Chris achieved his Level 2 in plumbing.

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The plan is for Chris to work on a few jobs with a fully skilled plumber so they can sign off the parts required for Chris to gain qualified status. He has had the opportunity to work on quite a few plumbing jobs this year alone and has vastly improved his expertise.

Before I met Chris I was left to sort our vehicles out. This included taking them for MOT and paying over the odds to greedy mechanics who exploited my ignorance. Now I’m married to a man who takes control of these things and is very much in the know about the inner workings of a car and what is required to keep us on the road.

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Despite the fact that a lot of our Saturday’s and Chris’ day’s off this year have been spent maintaining our Ford’s, I am very grateful that this pressure and responsibility is no longer on my shoulders. The bonus is that it’s lots cheaper too!

Sam went on a Residential Trip to The Pioneer Centre in November.

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He was away from Wednesday morning until Friday at 4:30pm when he left straight from School to get on the train to go to his Dad’s house. He was a bit nervous about being away from us for so long but the pictures on Twitter showed him having a great time and assured me he was fine.

Sam enjoyed being with his friends while he was on his school trip. He generally prefers to be around people rather than being by himself so it was a lovely few days for him. He is very generous and is happy to share whatever he has with anyone, often spending his pocket money on other people. He has a good sense of humour and is getting better at keeping himself occupied. He is a fast runner and was chosen to compete in the inter-school cross country event this year. Five schools competed and he came 2nd place in the boys event. We are very proud of him.

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Emma got to the final stage of badges in her Gymnastics group this year. She is now doing her last award with her good friend Sienna. They meet every Monday evening and she thoroughly enjoys her time there. We got to watch a display at the end of the year and I was able to capture a few videos and photographs. The below are mid-motion but hopefully you get the idea:

This year more than ever before Emma has honed her own fashion style and has shown a talent for knowing what looks good. She decorated the TShirt she’s wearing  in the picture and often chooses over-sized tops so she can alter them to her own taste. She even did a YWs activity and tutored the girls on how to design their own clothes.

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Eve started studying for her GCSEs this year. Amongst the compulsory subjects, she has chosen to take Art, Geography, Spanish and Film Studies. When I went to the options evening, a couple of Eve’s Teachers were very vocal about wanting her to do their subjects. Her Teachers have informed me that she is an amazing student, her effort and attitude to learning is great and she is an extremely high achiever. We expect great things from her academically but also creatively. She often sits at the kitchen table to draw or paint. These are some of my favourite pieces of her artwork from this year:

Eve went to her first church dance this year. As was the case at school and in Young Womens, Isabel Kent met her there and supported her. It was at Hyde Park so Eve was able to go during her Dad’s weekend so she messaged me with this picture to show me what she was wearing:

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She enjoyed the experience and has been to a couple more since this first one in February. Now that the rules have changed (from January 2019) Emma can now go to activities that would have previously only been for 14 and over. It will be great for Eve that Emma will be able to join her at dances now. -I love the relationship that the two of them share; they are genuinely good friends and tell each other everything. I feel very lucky that they get on so well.

Eve had her first FSY this year and Emma had her first camp. They both really enjoyed the experiences and spending time with other people their age.

 

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Apart from going back to the workplace, I also learnt to crochet. This is largely due to meeting my new lovely friend Jess. She invited me and the kids over during the summer holidays and showed me her crafty projects. They were beautiful, she is very talented and has an eye for what looks good. I was really impressed at how quickly she was able to complete a crocheted blanket. It occurred to me that if I was able to learn, a home made item such as this would be a lovely Christmas present. A little while ago I spent a lot of time stitching together a large amount of squares  that people from church had made for the refugees in Calais. There was a large initiative in place to gather supplies for those that had fled their homes and were seeking shelter. These supplies included these handmade blankets and I had enjoyed sewing these whilst watching TV. It kept my hands busy and satisfied my slightly hyper nature, giving me more than one thing to do at once.

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I was really pleased with the result and I feel like Chris’ Family were happy recipients.

One of the best things about 2018 has been all the new people I met whilst working. This photograph was taken on world book day and just before I started working at Campion School.

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The majority of the ladies on the front row worked in the English department with me. I still see Miss Haversham (far left) and Alice in Wonderland (third from the left) every couple of weeks. -Mia and Jess were very supportive when I first started and I love that I can now call them my friends.

Working at a school this year, meant that I had a timetable.

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I really enjoyed my time working from this timetable. I was able to help roll-out the Ruth Miskin phonics lessons and gained recognition for this by winning the accolade of Teacher of the Month!

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In the end I only worked from it for a few weeks as I was given another one for my last six weeks there. -That one was for my time as a Teacher; when I was responsible for entire classes of 30 with no training and little upper level support. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the experience I gained from working there, even though it was for a relatively short time. I’m glad now that I have a clear direction on what I want to do.

In October we had a little family council and agreed that the children could take it in turns to make dinner on Thursday evening. So far each of them has had at a choosing and cooking a main and a dessert.

Eve wanted to make toad in the hole, Emma made pizza from scratch and Sam made a carbonara. I think it’s important for them to learn these skills before they move out and I enjoy the time I’m able to spend with them individually.

Sam was in a school production this year but just as the chorus as they reserve the larger parts for the Year 6 children (and he was in Year 5 at the time). It was called Shakespeare Rocks and my Dad and I went to watch him in it. He did a great job and knew all the words to the songs.

Just as I had returned home I got a call from one of Emma’s friend’s Mum’s. She had ended up with two free tickets to go and see Little Mix as she works at Radio X. She was calling to offer them to Eve and Emma. Despite the fact that it was one of the most stressful times of my life driving them around the streets of Northampton in a desperate attempt to find a route through the closed roads, I did manage to get them there in time.

Considering all of the time spent on the cars, we did manage to get out and visit some lovely places in our country this year. In February we went up to North Yorkshire, March we went down to London, May we went to Romney to see David and Catherine, June we went to Devon, July we went to Abingdon, August we went to Sherwood Forest for Center Parcs, October we went to Wellesbourne and Stratford Upon Avon and in November we went to Leicester to march for Vichai Sivaddhanaprabha. Here are some of the highlights in pictures:

 

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La Palma 2018

The fact Chris and I can go on holiday together this year makes me feel luckier than ever before. In April I started back at work as an English Mentor at Campion Secondary School and in September I was still pursuing my dream of working in a school. Funnily enough, this led me to realise this is not what I want for myself and my life. It pushed me to become a Private English tutor. I currently have 7 tutees and I enjoy the fact that I can make money whilst using my skills and still be in the home. This means that I’m not restricted by the Monday- Friday 8:30am-4pm working schedule and that we could book a holiday to go away during our Anniversary and Chris’ Birthday as usual.

We chose La Palma which completes our collection of Canary Islands visited. This is the smallest and most un-spoilt of all the islands with beautiful scenery and black volcanic sand. We like to travel to the sun this time of the year as it is such a contrast to the climate at home. When we left this morning, temperatures were down to 2•c.

Due to the inclement weather and massive delay last year, I wanted to fly from a more major airport this time. Also, EasyJet was one of the airlines that we witnessed successfully taking off in the snow that day, so flying from Gatwick with EasyJet at a scheduled leaving time of 9:05am couldn’t have been more perfect. This did however mean that we had to get up at 5am (to leave at 5:30am) which (according to the sat nav) would mean us arriving at the airport at just before 7:30am. This would give us a good hour and a half before our flight would leave. I checked the distance time on a couple of occasions to make sure that we were allowing enough travel time to be comfortable. 

Unfortunately our arrival time went up by 10 minutes once we were in the car and then (due to congestion) we watched our estimated arrival time creep up and up until we were dangerously close to the hold luggage check-in desks being closed. I am a nightmare when it comes to worrying about being late to the airport at the best of times- even the little things about it once I’ve arrived stress me out. In normal life I particularly hate being late. I abhor waiting around for people to arrive and so, by the same token, it worries me to think that I should make other people go through this kind of discomfort. This doesn’t apply in this situation, if you are late to check-in for your flight then the plane will simply leave without you! I was so uncomfortable fretting about missing our flight and was beside myself when the time of arrival went up to 8:10am! 

Finally we arrived at the car valet area. The check-in desks were closing at 8:20am. Fortunately the parking company we had chosen were very efficient and we had dropped our car with them and were on our way to the desk in a matter of minutes. It was self check-in and after a short queue we weighed our bag in manually, printed the sticker for the suitcase and were able to quickly head for security. After a bit more queueing we were through without a hitch (unlike last time due to the Anniversary-present-perfume-debacle). I then noticed that our plane was boarding and the gate was closing at 8:40am. At this point it was 8:37am. We ran to our gate where there was no queue and only a family standing to the side of the gate desperately scrambling around with the items in their hand luggage. It seemed like they were experiencing some kind of issue with the amount of luggage they were allowed to bring on the plane. 

I had needed the toilet for a couple of hours by this point, so we showed our boarding passes and then Chris stood in the boarding queue whilst I nipped back up the stairs and used the toilet. I really should keep an eye on my liquid consumption at times like these. I knew that if I didn’t take the opportunity to go at that point, it might be a while before they turned the seat belt signs off and I would have been trapped in my seat in agony like last year!

On the walk back from the toilet, I looked out the window and saw people getting on the plane -we had pretty much made it by the skin of our teeth. There was no time for us to buy our usual Boots meal deals to eat during the flight but once we were on the plane and had taken off, we bought the onboard meal deals instead. I had a cheese toastie and a hot chocolate with a Kit Kat and Chris opted for a calzone, paprika pringles and a San Pellegrino. We shared the hot chocolate, crisps and the KitKat.

The flight arrived at the La Palma airport 25 minutes ahead of schedule. During the flight I actually enjoyed being able to sit and relax knowing that the hardest part of going away was done. I read and Chris managed to sleep for a bit:

The build up to leaving was difficult. Sam had sickness and diarrhoea on the Tuesday (a week before we were scheduled to go away). He was off school for 2 days and meanwhile, Emma climbed up and fell off a stack of chairs at church, bruising her big toe and the side of her foot. She had to wear a surgical support shoe and was given special consideration at school. This meant she could leave lessons 5 minutes early and got to use the lift. Sam went back to school on the Wednesday but had to come home again because of toilet issues. Fortunately on the Thursday he was entirely well enough to go back to school. Friday was Emma’s 13th Birthday. She was still wearing the shoe but could move around more easily. She was able to shop in town and spend her Birthday money with Mum and Dad and also was able to bowl for her party the next day.

On Sunday morning we were woken up at 8am by shouts of “Mum!” and sounds of retching. Emma couldn’t keep anything down for 12 hours, at which point our Doctor friend Sam Hartley advised us to go to A&E as her vomit was green. I thought this was to be expected at this point considering her stomach was empty and bile was the only thing left to come up, but I was concerned that she was continuing to vomit despite there being no food left in her. 

When we checked in at the hospital reception we were told that they normally discourage people who are vomiting from coming to A&E. This did not set me up for feeling particularly happy about us being there! We were told to go through to Children’s A&E. At this point it was about 9:05pm. We waited for just over an hour (during which Emma tried to sleep) before she was beckoned into triage.

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They did a few tests and found that her heart rate was 148 bpm. We were told that a normal heart rate for someone of Emma’s age would be just under 100 bpm. They gave her this anti-sickness thing to put inside her mouth (on her gum) and then put her on a fluid challenge where I had to syringe 10ml of any liquid (Emma chose lemon juice) into her mouth every 5 minutes for an hour.

An hour and 15 minutes later they tested her heart rate and it was still high so I had to do the fluid test for another half an hour.

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Then they tested again and it was too high so I had to do the fluid thing for another half an hour after that. She kept everything down so the anti-sickness worked. I was stressing out as my sinuses were throbbing and I could see Emma was just wanting to be at home. -Her heart rate never went down as she didn’t like being there. In the end I pleaded with one of the nurses and said that her heart rate was up because she was stressed about being able to leave, so they sent us home. We arrived back just before 2am!

The next morning I tested Emma’s resting heart rate and it was at 88bpm. -This was a relief. She was obviously off school but fortunately the only things I had left to do were to pack and put petrol in the car for the trip to the airport. Emma started to feel better but couldn’t face much in the way of food. When I dropped the children off to stay at Mum and Dad’s on Monday night, Mum told me that it wouldn’t be a problem for Emma to stay off school the next day as she wasn’t working. -Its great that the kids get to stay with their Grandparents for a week while we go away. They love going there and Mum and Dad enjoy having them so it’s a win-win.

So, after we had gone through passport control, our transfer details said we should walk out into the arrivals area and look for a sign with our name on it. I’ve never experienced that before! We easily found the guy who was holding my name up. Our paperwork had said that our journey to our hotel was a private trip with a maximum of 4 people, so we didn’t expect him to tell us that it was the massive orange coach in the carpark that was waiting for us! We approached the driver, he checked our paperwork to find out which hotel he was dropping us at and then we left straight away! There was no waiting around for the driver or even other passengers as we were the only 2 people on the bus! The drive was 10 minutes long and before we knew it we were checking in! By this point it was only 1:40pm. Chris said it was crazy that it was only around 6 hours door to door!  

We were told we had a sea view room which we were pleased about. Our agent had actually requested a refurbished suite for us but I later found out that they only have a shower and I love having a bath after a day of sunbathing. So we were quite happy with the room we had been given, despite hearing that the suites have a tassimo machine and complimentary chocolates every day! 

We were even early enough for lunch and we sat outside to enjoy this. It was quite cloudy but still pleasant. We had a hot chocolate topped with cream and chocolate powder and were able to look out at the sea while sitting. I think we were just pleased to be able to relax after the stress of getting to the airport that morning. 

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We sat for a few hours enjoying some drinks and then went inside get ready for dinner. I was impressed at the choice of food in the restaurant at lunchtime but dinner didn’t seem to have much more choice available. No matter though, as I knew I could always enjoy the small bread rolls and butter that are readily available in the all inclusive Spanish resorts. 

We went through to the bar area and watched an acrobatics show. It was particularly impressive as you can see from the pictures.

The next morning we woke for breakfast. We were impressed at the choice of things to eat. -After our cereal, I had my usual filthy streaky bacon swimming in grease (and some eggs) whilst Chris had a freshly made omelette and some pancakes. Afterwards I sat on the balcony for a bit trying to get some rays from the small sliver of sun that was peeping through. Our balcony is mostly in the shade so I had to angle myself to feel even the slightest amount of heat. Chris slept for a couple of hours and so after feeling a bit chilly, I decided to have a bit of a nap too.

We woke up at about 1pm and went for a walk outside of the hotel. We came across a nice little beach cove.

14D17DF2-3780-4045-9013-062674D2C7B6.jpegIt was still quite cloudy so we didn’t really want to sit and relax here. We carried on and actually climbed up some steps that Chris had seen a little way off. These took us back up to road level. We carried on round and Chris saw bunches after bunches of bananas growing in plantations.

1CC8EDFB-C476-44A3-88C3-4E142F735EB1He wanted me to walk down with him to pick one but I stayed where I was and watched him go. I’ve learned to my detriment that if I want all of my skin in tact, going off-roading with Chris is not a good idea!

C3D6CD5F-23A8-42C9-A05A-7EDD28B3F4BFHe joined my side again, triumphant at his success and we then spent some time walking back in the opposite direction admiring the view from our loftier perspective. We walked past the front of our hotel and found a Spa shop where we bought the essentials (crisps and chocolate) and then went back in for lunch. By this point we realised that lunch and dinner were very similar with not much choice and I noticed a couple behind us who were eating a series of sandwiches on a bed of lettuce. Always eager to not be left out, I asked what they had and how we could get it. They told us that it was a club sandwich from the bar. They were staying half board and had only spent 4 euros on their lunch which seemed like a good deal. We spoke to these people for a couple of hours. They were called Chris and Alan and they are regular visitors to the island and mostly to this hotel, itself. They filled us in on the fact that the weather on this side of La Palma is generally cloudier than Santa Cruz (which they frequent regularly to swim in the sea and shop etc). They told us which bus to catch if we wanted to visit the other side and then Chris told us lots of stories of previous visits and some calamities that befell them. We spoke to them long enough that it had started to get cold so we went in for a bath and to read for a bit.

The evening’s entertainment was a Michael Jackson concert. We sat for longer than I expected we would. We were surprised to see the amount of girls fainting and having to be carried off due to the excitement at their proximity to the superstar!

Our third day here actually turned out to be sunny in the morning. I was desperate to go out in the sun to get a tan so, after breakfast we went right down to the pool area to get some sun beds.

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Sun cream does not agree with me. It seems to give me a rash rather than preventing one so I applied it only to my sensitive areas that aren’t normally exposed to the sun. This tac-tic has previously served me well. Unfortunately this time I got burnt all up my legs and right near my arm pits! My arms were okay but that is normally the place where I tan, so I presume my skin there is used to it. The sun was coming and going behind the clouds so I am baffled that I managed to catch so much of it. Chris was happy to have been able to finally sunbathe and we sat out until about 2:30pm.

We tried to get a club sandwich on our all inclusive package but were told that any food from the bar menu was charged as extra. We settled for lunch in the restaurant again and then went inside to rest and play Angry Birds which is a holiday staple for the two of us.

The entertainment that night was a Rock and Roll band. -We could hear the double bass from the restaurant and so went to investigate. It’s not particularly my cup of tea but Chris enjoyed it and the bar area was packed with pensioners who were all having the time of their lives. The odd few even got up to dance!

The next day was our 5th wedding anniversary. Chris gave me my present and card before breakfast but I wanted to enjoy him opening mine so I waited until we were back in our room to give him it. After our first and second year of marriage I had written a monthly account of our movements/ events for each twelve month period. I had been slack for the last few years so I thought it would be a nice idea to go back through all my photos to jog my memory and see what we had done for the last 3 years. I managed to find something of note for every month so I printed this out and put it together with the first two years. We now have a comprehensive list of what we’ve done and when we’ve done it for our first five years as Husband and Wife.

I gave Chris his other presents and then we both sat around and read for a bit. We then slept for about 3 hours, waking in time for a late lunch. We then read by the pool until it got too cold and decided to go for a walk.

A couple of days prior to this, the man at reception had told us that if we wanted shops and restaurants then we could turn left out of the hotel and go down towards the sea. We walked directly left and passed some restaurants and a supermarket and came to the welcome sign for our resort, Los Cancajos:

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The original plan was to scope out the area to see if we fancied returning anywhere for Chris’ birthday meal in a couple of days. As we were wandering around, I decided I couldn’t face returning to our hotel to eat the slightly weird tasting food that night. -Even the idea of a roll with butter was getting arduous. For lunch and dinner there is little choice, much of the dishes seem like random concoctions and combinations. When it comes to food, I definitely wouldn’t say I was picky. Normally I really enjoy Spanish food, Canary Potatoes particularly and all of the exotic salads and rice dishes… but this year I’m really not feeling it. I’m having to have plain lettuce, cucumber and potatoes for most of my meals. Some accounts on Trip Advisor echo our experience with the cuisine. I must say at this point, though, there are many other positives about the H10 Taburiente Playa that make up for the food: excessive amounts of sunbeds, 3 pillows on each of our beds as standard, a hairdryer in the room, complimentary shampoo and shower gel (meaning we didn’t have to bring/ but any), free pool towel rental and branded, bottled drinks served to our tables during lunch and dinner. The staff are good and our view from the balcony is the most spectacular we have ever experienced.

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We wandered around for a bit, deciding where we would like to eat. I’ve never had lobster so I told Chris that this was something I would like to experience whilst away this year. Nowhere served lobster in this area so we settled on pizza, randomly in a restaurant called Ocean! I fancied something really plain so went for the Hawaiian pizza while Chris chose one with chicken and a stuffed crust. We shared them both as usual. It was lovely to get out for a bit and (as always) I enjoyed Chris’ sparkling company. I also loved celebrating the years we have been together by having a meal on the streets of La Palma during dusk, which has always been my favourite time of the day.

We made the short walk back to the hotel and arrived in time to watch a flamenco dancer, just to add to our Spanish- Island- Experience.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we could tell that the weather was different and that the clouds had dispersed meaning the day was clear and perfect for sunbathing. This is the view every day that greets us as we walk up and down the stairs inside our hotel.

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I was still hurting a bit from sunburn so I sat on the sun lounger with a T-shirt and leggings on, sheltering myself from the sun as much as I could. I knew my face and arms would be okay so I didn’t feel the need to cover those up. It’s funny, these are the only parts of me that people back home will see as proof of our time away in hotter climes, anyway.

After a couple of hours had passed, Chris felt like he had been in the sun for too long. We moved into the shade and realised that it was a bit cold so then came inside for a bit. After lunch I fancied a nap and Chris wanted to go back out to sunbathe so we spent a couple of hours apart, which was the first time this had happened since Monday. -When we are on holiday we are usually constant companions. I slept for about an hour and Chris enjoyed the last of the sun.

That evening, there was another musical kind of entertainment which we sat and watched for a while.

The next day was Chris’ Birthday. I woke him at 9am and asked if he wanted to go for breakfast or have a lie-in. He opted for the latter so I popped downstairs by myself and had some cereal. It was an unusual situation for me to be in; one that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Never in the time that Chris and I have been on our annual trip away have I eaten alone in a hotel restaurant. I felt a little conspicuous and self conscious but I stayed long enough to satiate my appetite and then I went back to the room. I read on the balcony for a bit and then woke Chris at 10am (giving him the extra hour sleep that he had asked for). I was excited to give him his birthday presents.

Having his birthday in December has always meant that separate presents is important to Chris. I have to make sure I get 3 different lots of gifts during this time of the year. One to commemorate our anniversary and the other two for Chris’ Christmas and birthday presents. I feel like I outdid myself this year. I bought some RayBan sunglasses in the Black Friday sale for the anniversary main present, professional teeth whitening at the dentist for his main birthday present and for his main Christmas present I bought him skiing lessons at the Snodome in Milton Keynes.

I also bought him a Leicester Tiger’s top as you can see from the picture that I took of him falling down in between the beds. That is one of the downsides of having two single beds pushed together, that and being too far away from Chris when we sleep.

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As Chris hadn’t had breakfast we thought we would see what food was on offer at this time of the day. It was too early for lunch but we were able to go down to the bar and eat some of the sandwiches and cakes they had on offer for the all-inclusive clientele.

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This was more elevenses than breakfast for me but it was still a welcomed snack before we set off to Santa Cruz for the day. We weren’t sure on the frequency of the bus so we got the information from reception and didn’t have to wait too long before we were on our way. It was a very short journey but would have probably been a little bit too far to walk. We passed the restaurant and shops we had visited the other evening and then travelled round the corner, following the shore line.

Once we had got off the bus we walked on a path that ran parallel to the beach and got a feel for where we were. We then walked up some of the back streets and noticed some places closing up for Siesta time. We noticed a few market stalls and were just about to take a look when we were rudely interrupted.

At times I feel we are governed by Chris’ bowel movements but fortunately we were able to find somewhere we wanted to eat so that he could use the facilities to relieve himself. I sat and looked at the menu while I waited for Chris to return and when he did we ordered the most amazing sushi.

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It was the perfect amount for lunch and tasted fresh and satisfying. Unfortunately by the time we had finished, the market stalls had packed up. We walked back up to where we had been dropped off by the bus and found an ice cream place on the way. I don’t normally opt for ice cream but I really fancied it in a nice waffle cone. -It didn’t disappoint.

When we had arrived in Santa Cruz, Chris was impressed by the huge bauble on the roundabout in the middle of the road. I can’t tell you how long it look me to work out how to take this shot. In the end, this was the best I could do. Chris was particularly pleased because of the additional humour in the placement of the McDonalds sign!

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When we arrived back to the hotel room, the staff had left a little present for Chris. I thought this was very kind and was not at all expected. Out of the six hotels we have stayed in, this only the second that has recognised the event.

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We bathed and relaxed again in the early evening time. I began obsessing slightly about something small that was bothering me- by this point I had definitely had way too much time to myself to think and worry unnecessarily about things. I tried to put this to the back of my mind and enjoy the evening. It was nothing to do with Chris or anything that had any kind of bearing on my everyday life. The food was better than usual and we sat and watched the entertainment which was again some kind of music appreciation thing. Alan came over to chat at some point and then we went upstairs to read for a bit before going to sleep.

When I woke up in the morning I felt really down. I was really bothered by this insignificant set back I’d had. I couldn’t face doing anything, I just wanted to sleep, so after breakfast I went back to bed. I couldn’t relax because of scraping noises. It was the cleaners going about their every day business but the sound was impossible to ignore. At one point I felt myself getting so worked up that my breathing became shallow. I feel like I was having the beginnings of a panic attack. This is why it’s so important to keep yourself emotionally under control. I then went down to sit by the pool with Chris and read for a bit but I just felt so down that I needed to not be around anyone. I tried to explain to Chris what was bothering me but I just tried to sleep again.

After trying to sleep some more, it occurred to me that (as we were travelling home the following morning) this was the last opportunity to swim in the sea. I was happy not to bother, but I always feel that way inclined when we are abroad. I knew Chris particularly wanted to though, so I physically had to force myself to go down and go through the motions. The evening before I’d gone online to search about how to not let others define your happiness. One of the peices of advice in this article was that you should “fake it until you make it”. I take that to mean that even if you are still upset or bothered by something someone has said or done, there will come a time when it will matter less or even not at all. I had to make myself go and share the experience of swimming in the sea with Chris while we still had the chance. I feel like I tried my best to have the right attitude but I still felt sad.

If I think about it, there are things that bother me that people around me have said or done. Sometimes things are resolved merely by talking to someone but this may not always be an option. What I have learnt through this is that I need to find a way for it to be “okay”. I can’t wait around for someone else to sooth my ego, I need to actively find a solution. In this instance after we swam in the sea and then the pool and I actually started to enjoy these things for what they are, I did start to feel better but it took me calling and chatting to someone about my situation to help me completely move on. I’m glad I did this as I was then able to enjoy our last evening and properly relax. We did the usual routine of Dinner and Entertainment and I slept peacefully again.

In the morning we had time for a last breakfast. Chris enjoyed watching what seemed to be an army helicopter that was landing at the airport close to us. I went up to start the packing while he finished his breakfast. We then filled our suitcases and went down to the bar for a last drink before our mini bus picked us up to take us to the airport. We were the only two passengers on it again!

The flight was slightly delayed but only by 20 minutes or so and we were soon up in the air. We spent our final few euros on some snacks on the plane and we were able to catch the sunset high above the clouds.

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All in all we enjoyed a relaxing break. I feel like I’m now ready to try another type of holiday in 2019. With our skiing lessons happening later this year, we might enjoy a colder climate for our next annual trip away.

London Trip Aug 2018

A little while ago Chris managed to track down someone he had baptised whilst on his mission. Her name is Pippa and he successfully found her on Facebook. He had been looking for years as he had fallen out of contact and suddenly was able to track her down. We arranged that we would go and see her in London so took the opportunity to spend a couple of days there. Wednesday we had booked to see Les Miserables at the theatre as it’s a show I’d never seen and was on my bucket list. The plan was then to then see Pippa for lunch the next day.

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We set off late morning and drove to Park Royal. We left the car there, making sure it was in an area that was safe to park as we were leaving it overnight.

We are fortunate enough to have stayed in quite a few hotels together now. Each one normally has a pool onsite. Often they also include a sauna, jacuzzi and steam-room. For a change I wanted to book a private dwelling with its own garden and hot tub. Preceeding the trip, I spent quite a bit of time trying to find somewhere that met that criteria. My Brother rents out his property in Wolverhampton on Airbnb. I knew I could refine places to stay by facilities and therefore by hot tub. Unfortunately, with the amount of residents that live in England with English as their second language, a “hot tub” meant bath to many of them. Messaging them directly about their facilities clarified this for me so I decided to scrap plans of sitting together in the garden in a bubbling jacuzzi and decided a hotel with one instead. At least that would be different.

We took the overground train from Park Royal and then got an underground train to Paddington. Heading straight for our hotel (so we could drop our bags off), I enjoyed being in the hustle and bustle of this busy area of West London. We arrived in plenty of time to be able to relax in our room before going out for a meal and then watching the show but disaster struck as, again, our room didn’t have a jacuzzi bath! Considering we had booked the hotel on the strength of this, it was annoying. We spoke to the reception staff and showed them that on the Booking.com website, the rooms were still being advertised as having jacuzzi baths! The room had cost just over £100 so we decided to go and find somewhere basic for half the price. We got a full refund from them and then tried a hotel round the corner and, as it was good enough, we paid the £50 to stay there instead. It was unlike anywhere we had been before. It was a duplex. The carpet was thread-bare and the TV was one of the oldest we had seen for a while. No matter, we had a bit of a rest, had a drink and then we were on our way to the West End to find somewhere to eat before the show. Right next door to the Queen’s Theatre, Cafe Monico looked ideal.

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Popping in to collect the tickets, we asked if they recommended anywhere to eat. They told us to go next door and, as we were early enough, they had space to seat us.

The food was neuvo cuisine (or so the size of it suggested!). We chose from the pre-show set menu. I had salmon to start.

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Chris opted for the soup and enjoyed smelling the flavours. Even though the portion sizes weren’t massive, the food was still filling and the taste was sensational.

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Chris had a seasoned chicken breast. We were most impressed with the drinks and the fancy presentation.

Due to my stressing about being on time to places, it was absolutely perfect that the restaurant was so close to our next destination. We popped next door, handed our tickets in and then noticed that the queue for the toilet was massive. Chris suggested, as we had just paid lots of money in the restaurant next door, that we should go back and use the toilets there instead. We did that and then were able to sit nicely nestled in our seats and wait for the performance to begin.

Birthday Weekend June 2018

Being that time of the year again, Chris and I had planned to go away for the weekend to celebrate my Birthday. The children were off School because it was half term and Aaron had said we could put the kids on the train a couple of hours early as he was working from home. This provided us with the opportunity to leave earlier than planned, so we set off for Devon straight from the train station.

The journey down was pretty good. I read through the module questions and tested Chris in preparation for his forthcoming plumbing exam. The sat nav predicted four and a half hours door to door. We knew it would take longer as we planned to stop for a bit. In the end we stopped twice: once for petrol and once as we were tempted by the services and Burger King. Chris had seen something he wanted to buy for me from WHSmith (for my Birthday) so I went across to Burger King to order for us both. I was told that they were only accepting MasterCard and cash as the servers for Visa were down. I followed Chris into WHSmith to tell him and we decided I would try the Asian Kitchen place instead for some teriyaki chicken. They weren’t accepting Visa either so Chris went to the car to get his MasterCard Credit Card. It turns out there was in international issue with Visa’s servers. He returned, purchased my present and we bought some sesame chicken, teryaki chicken and noodles and ate in the car. At this point we were only about an hour away from where we were staying at St Mary’s Bay.

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We arrived at ten past eight. I got a text from Katie (Chris’ Sister) just as we pulled up, asking if we were on our way and confirming our Brunch plans for the following day. Chris’ Sister Ange had told me that Katie was going to Devon for a few days during half term so I thought it would be nice if we met up with her. I don’t have the opportunity to see her as much as I used to. We would sometimes meet up on a Wednesday for lunch and now, due to my job, I don’t have as much free time. Now I have to see my friends when I can, which normally means an evening or a weekend. As we were coming to Devon, I thought meeting up with Katie whilst we were there would be perfect. I called her (as a response to her text) and found out that she was staying at Mum and Dad Ford’s other campsite. We re-confirmed brunch plans and found out that Mum, Dad, Grandma Palmer, Vaughan, Abby, Elle and Darren would be joining us. I was excited to have some solid plans for the next day.l which would give us a reason to get up at a reasonable hour and not sleep half the day away, as has happened before.

We took the bags into the caravan and were pleasantly surprised by the decor and size of where we were staying.

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This was our first view when we entered. -I always pinch myself when we get to come and stay at St Mary’s Bay. We are fortunate to have the blessing of free luxury accommodation -and in such a beautiful part of the country. The bedroom even had a TV!

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Chris finished bringing the bags in and we sat in the living room for a bit. We ate a couple of the snacks we had brought with us but didn’t really fancy any more of the noodles from earlier. We then watched a film in bed and went to sleep.

In the morning, we decided to walk to the Berry Head Cafe for brunch with everyone. It only took us half an hour to get there. We had agreed to meet in the carpark and walk the rest of the way together. Just before everyone arrived, a big group of walkers joined us where we were sitting, near the toilet block. They were taking a break after walking miles for charity. The weather was quite nice but was a bit cloudy. We had a bit of a chat with some of them and didn’t have to wait much longer to be on our way with Chris’ family.

Mum and Dad arrived with Grandma in their convertible with the top down and so did Katie and Vaughan! We walked with them up a slight incline and came to a cafe on the edge of a hill. It’s situated within a Napoleonic fort. Due to the low cloud, we couldn’t see the sea around the peninsula. I’m assured that on a clear day you can see ocean on all sides.

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We arrived at the Guardhouse cafe (above). It served a selection of breakfast choices. Chris had Eggs Benedict and I had a Full English with a Hot Chocolate. I thought the heart was a nice touch.

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We sat inside to eat and then sat outside on the picnic benches for a bit where Katie practiced her photography skills. She took this photograph of Chris and me.

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In the afternoon, the others were going to Paignton to watch the Red Arrows. They invited us along but we decided to walk from Berry Head into Brixham. On the way, we came across a Lido where we paddled our feet and sat for a bit. The weather improved and the clouds dispersed.

 

 

The picture on the right is a clearer one of the outdoor pool. It was ice-cold on our feet and legs to the point that they felt numb!

We walked on and I found a rock that had been painted to look like an Ice Lolly.

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There was a hashtag on it explaining that it was hidden on behalf of A+E Rocks. We had to hide it in a new location for someone else and take a close-up picture of where it was so the next people had a clue where to find it. This is similar to something that we have participated in where we live. We have found rocks that other people decorated and have re-hidden them. Emma even painted a few herself, which we hid and therefore added to the circulation around Duston, St Crispin and Upton.

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The King Billy is somewhere we often visit when we go to Devon. We’ve had Carvery meals with the whole Ford family, been out for an evening meal just the two of us and had many a drink here. This time, again we enjoyed the latter. We sat outside and were granted a performance of our very own from the Red Arrows.

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Trip to Abingdon

Chris and I found ourselves with a moderately free Saturday today, so he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him that I enjoy wandering around new places. I wanted somewhere like Market Harborough with its unique architecture, boutiques and market stalls so I searched “historic market towns” in Google. Abingdon (in Oxfordshire) came up second on the list of 20 of the best market towns in England and was the closest one mentioned, being only an hour’s drive.

We followed the sat nav directly to the town centre, found a carpark and was pleased to see that parking was free for two hours. Directly next to where we parked we found a beautiful garden with benches to sit on.

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As we’ve experienced a heat wave over the last 6 weeks or so, Chris was impressed with the hardiness of the flowers. I recognised them as being similar to some that we had in the front gardens of Church. I remember someone telling me (my Nan or my Granddad) they were known as Snap Dragons. We were able to research this and find out that the plant was called Antirrhinum. Chris maintains the Gardens at Amberwood and, so was interested to find that these flowers are native to rocky areas of Europe, the United States and North Africa. This means they would still provide colour in the drought we’ve had recently. Chris made a note to purchase and plant some at work.

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We sat for a while admiring the flowers in changeable weather. It went from grey and blustery to sunny and still in a matter of a few minutes. We’d even had a bit of rain when we first arrived in the carpark. Fortunely, the calm and warm climate was constant enough so we moved on to the grassy space next to the gardens. There is a bit of history associated with this area. The old cathedral boundary walls have been marked out with bricks on the ground. We walked to find these markings, past a statue of Queen Victoria, which had been given to Abingdon  to commemorate Her Royal Highness’ Jubilee.

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Finding the marked outline, we ame across a group of women playing rounders. In fact, there were two groups playing. I thought that was a lovely, sociable way of passing a Saturday afternoon and both Chris and I started to think it would be a good idea to visit again or even bring the children back.

Beyond the Rounders game we noticed a bench right near what we though was a lake. The view is below:

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Turns out that the lake was actually the River Thames. I needed the toilet so we followed the river all the way until we came across a clearing where we found not only toilets but an outdoor swimming pool! There were also fountains and a canal with boats.

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First Day of Work

Today was a pretty big deal for me. It heralded the beginning of my return to the workplace and was the first day of my new career. I have tutored English over the years but now I actually have a position teaching English Catch-up at Campion Secondary School. This is the School that I attended from 1992 until 1999 and I have very fond memories from my time there. My plan is to train to teach and I have been told there is a possibility of doing this whilst working at Campion.

Sam had a Teacher Training day but the girls were back at School so I had to arrange for him to be looked after. Claire Kent had kindly offered to have him for me so, after well wishes from Chris and the kids, I dropped Sam off at about 7.55am and arrived at work for just before 8.10am. I went to Reception where Dawn Hilder had said for me to meet her at 8.20am but when I asked, the staff told me she wasn’t going to be in until later. Mia (who does English Intervention for Year 11) came to get me and brought me to the English Department.

Rea (Head of English) took me with her to the meeting that the Headmistress holds in the Drama Studio every Monday and Thursday. It was quite overwhelming sitting in there with all the teaching members of staff. When I walked in, Jessica sat down next to Rea so I sat next to her and Maddie came and sat next to me with Tracy. I went to Campion with Tracy and she was in some of my classes when I was growing up. Claire Whitmore stood at the front and told us, amongst the fact that the changing rooms had been painted and a few other bits of news, that Tracy was now the Hair and Beauty Teacher. This meant that she is no longer a Teaching Assistant for English and that I have her desk in the office.

After Tracy’s new position was announced, a new member of staff was introduced in the Maths Department and I was forgotten about. It really bothered me for a bit but then I was kind of glad that I didn’t have to stand up in front of everyone.

Once the meeting was finished I went to B15 which is the classroom I’ll be doing my Catch-up in.

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Rea has a desk in this classroom too and so she sat next to me and helped me log onto my account and then I accessed my emails. – I had 100! I’d been added to the system before the end of term so I had lots to sift through. Some were no longer relevant but some information was interesting. I enjoyed sorting these emails into different folders for a bit. I then told Rea I’d never read Lord of the Flies and so she told me I could have a copy and took me into the cupboard where they store all the books- it was amazing! There were so many books that I want to read all in one place. I got a copy of Lord of the Flies and next I want to read Atonement. When it was break time, I popped across to Isolation to see my friend Sarah who I know from Church.

When I came back from break, Rea had gone. I think she was teaching so I sat in B15 and continued to sort my email. I then thought I should see if Dawn had arrived so I could collect my lanyard and ID badge. When I was walking across to Reception, I saw Mr Hawkey who was a PE Teacher when I was at the School. I don’t know if he remembered me but he said “Hello” either way.

Dawn had now arrived and directed me to an envelope on the side which had inside my ID badge and a fob for the gate.

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The rest of the English Department have green lanyards and mine is blue. -I’m gutted that mine is not the same as theirs and I have made it my goal to have a green one. Apparently this is not because I’m not important enough, just that they’ve just run out of them and blue is all they have.

I went back to B15 and returned to sorting my emails. I have always loved the view from this room. I used to have my A Level English group in this classroom and I remember many a happy lesson time contemplating literature whilst looking out at the view. -It really is breath-taking.

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I then received an email from Louise who was sitting in the English office, in reference to some kind of English resource that we were all entitled to for a limited amount of time. I thought I’d take the opportunity to no longer sit alone and went to talk to her about what the resources were. I then said that I would bring my stuff and come and sit with them (her and Malcolm Deardon) in the English office instead of being by myself. I realised that I wouldn’t be able to sort my emails any longer as I was doing this on a desktop computer. Instead, I took across a box file that Chantal had used and sorted through that. I got through that pretty quickly and so then I sat and read Lord of the Flies for a bit whilst people chatted around me. I contributed where I could but then it was lunchtime and people started to pair off to go and have their lunch. Sarah had messaged me to invite me to eat with her in the Staff room, so I waited for her for a little bit. Malcolm came back in and I asked if I would be in his lessons as a support. He said I was welcome to sit in any of his lessons and I told him I had been reading Lord of the Flies as I had never read it before. Malcolm then started talking about how different  the book would have been if Steinbeck (who wrote Of Mice and Men) had written it. Golding, he told me, has a supposed bleak view of society and views individuals as intrinsically evil wheras Steinbeck thinks we are all good and ultimately kind. I thought this was very interesting and I loved that this was the type of conversation to be had at work. Sarah had also come to fetch me at this point and walked across with me to the Staff room where we ate our lunch. We were enjoying a catchup when the fire alarm went off!

Sarah took me with her and showed me where to stand. It turns out that a student had actually set it off and was not, as previously presumed, on purpose due to there being new members of staff.

Once lunch was done I joined Mia in B15 for her intervention with the Year 11s. She had made up some booklets that concentrate on exam techniques. She had the students work on these week by week. At this point they have completed them and so they were just choosing something to re-cap. I enjoyed watching Mia teach and talk through the ideas her Year 11 group had.

After that Mia had a group of 3 boys who she went through a power point presentation with about exam technique. I sat in for this and got involved in the discussion. I felt that I was left to my own devices all day so had to use my own initiative about how to spend my time. Fortunately, I found sitting with Mia and the boys interesting. -This was probably the best part of the day.

At 3.05pm, I asked Mia about when I should leave to avoid the buses and she told me if I left early enough I should be able to get out before them. I managed to leave at the same time as the students and I was able to pick Sam up from Claire at 3.20pm, which I was pleased with.

I’m looking forward to working with everyone that I met on my first day at Campion and I’m hoping to be able to complete my PGCE here too.

 

 

 

 

Valentines 2018

As Valentines falls on a Wednesday this year, I thought it would be nice to go away with Chris the weekend before to celebrate. We had no children and Mum and Dad had agreed to put Eve, Emma and Sam on the train on Friday after School so we were free to leave Friday morning. We had Tesco Clubcard vouchers which mostly covered a weekend stay at a hotel. I had been looking into private cottages with Hot Tubs and I had found a place that was in Northallerton in North Yorkshire. It looks idyllic and I remembered that my good friend Annabelle (who I’d met at University when we were 18) lived pretty close to there so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to meet up after 14 years. However, there was a restriction on how many vouchers could be used for each individual purchase on the Cottages4U website, making it still quite expensive. (We will definitely have to keep this type of accommodation as a plan for another time as it appeals to me to have our own private outside space and at the moment, it would be better left until we are more comfortable financially).

We ended up leaving home at about 1.30pm as I always underestimate how long it will take for us to get out of the house. I ideally wanted to leave at 12pm so that we could stop for lunch at around 1.30pm and have time to check into the Hotel and relax in the Spa for a bit before going out for Dinner. As it was, we got to Yo Sushi in Nottingham at 3pm!

We found a space to park the car for an hour on the same road the Restaurant was on. We walked up the hill and happened upon this glorious building. It looked amazing in the sunshine!

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As a Christmas present, Chris had been given some Restaurant vouchers from Amberwood. I thought that if we ate somewhere light (on the way) then we could still enjoy a filling Dinner with Darren and Lucy who we had arranged to see at 6.30pm. It would also break up the journey.

Yo Sushi was on the list of places we could use the voucher and it is one of my favourite places to eat. I love the set up in that you can choose your food as it travels past on a conveyer belt, plus it’s all so tasty, light and fresh! We sat down and chose some sushi rolls to start. Chris and I often share food when we go out to eat so we can make the most of the flavours and try different dishes. I wanted some vegetarian sushi and couldn’t see any on the conveyer belt so we called someone over and ordered some avocado rolls. I remembered that the Japanese fries are really good and so we ordered this and some dynamite fish sushi that Chris fancied. The fries arrived almost immediately after this and we chose a noodle dish from the belt. The other things took ages to arrive so, in the mean time, Chris fancied some Teryaki Chicken with rice. It was described as a “Sumo” portion and was delivered to us before the sushi that we were waiting for.

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At this point us having a “light lunch” seemed to have gone out the window. I had to request the avacado rolls twice more before they actually made it to us and we ended up cancelling the dynamite fish sushi. Despite the service, we enjoyed our visit as the food was very tasty and we were pretty stuffed when we left.

Chris went to get the car whilst I went to the toilet and then I started walking towards where I thought we had parked. I couldn’t see where we had actually come from. Then way that I thought I needed to go was suddenly filled with trams going in both directions! I called Chris and he came and found me. He was my knight in a shining Ford S-Max!

As we attempted to follow the sat nav, it took us the way of the trams!! We have now received a charge of £30 for driving on the tram tracks. It’s a shame as we had literally no idea where we were supposed to be going and it was all very confusing. I think we are just going to have the pay the charge but I feel like there is little we could have done to prevent this taking into account the direction our GPS technology was urging us to go.

The journey to Beverley from Nottingham was fortunately nice and smooth. The sunset was beautiful.

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We had enough time to check into our Hotel and get changed before we were due to meet Lucy and Darren. We were staying at Cave Castle and Country Club. -It looked very grand as we drove up. I believe there was a golf course  included in the surroundings and Lucy told me she had been to quite a few functions at the Castle.

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Chris and I have stayed at many hotels over the last few years and I find that it’s a bit of a gamble when booking something. We want somewhere that is good value for money with a comfortable and sizeable bed that looks impressive when we walk in. A TV and bath are a bonus but these things, coupled with what I mentioned before, are entirely what we have come to expect when we have paid good money. Fortunately our room was lovely. The bed was massive!

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Lucy and Darren had chosen a Restaurant that was part of the Brewers Fayre chain. They were a bit late because Darren’s work conference call had taken longer than expected. We went in and sat down at the table they had reserved. When they arrived Lucy told us her Dad was poorly and was in intensive care so if she got a call regarding his status then they might have to leave.

We spoke about Darren’s health (he has arthritis) and the drugs he has to take. We talked about how much Lucy enjoys her job and basically had a catch-up. It’s always the same with Lucy. Time does not seem to pass and we understand each other very well. I sense a respect that we have for each other which comes from years of friendship. It was lovely to spend the evening with her and Darren.

This is the only picture I took whilst we were with Darren and Lucy. Chris was trying Lucy’s glasses on!

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We returned to the Hotel and Chris gave me a massage. I had won the privilege of going first through a bet that we had on the journey down. The massage was great and Chris found a radio station on the TV that played some romantic music which set the mood.  I asked if he wanted one but he said he was too tired to enjoy it.

In the morning we got up for Breakfast. We stumbled upon the Restaurant quite easily. We had cereal, a Full English and Hot Chocolate. The staff were really friendly and there was plenty of everything.

We had a bit of time to kill before heading off to Annabelle and Nick’s farm so Chris had a nap and I started documenting our experiences so far

We had been invited for lunch at Wass Grange. This is the farm that Nick (Annabelle’s Boyfriend’s family owns). On the way over, we went to buy some flowers for Annabelle and some sweets for her girls.

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I was impressed at the price of the flowers we found at a local shop which was just around the corner from our hotel. They even came with a vase!

We took the scenic route to the farm and drove through this structure.

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I particularly enjoy travelling to different places in the UK. Our country is beautiful, even in the cloudy low light. Chris and I are fortunate to be able to visit lots of different locations during our weekends together. I enjoy sitting in the passenger seat, looking out the window at the varying terrains and architecture as we drive by. The journey was the perfect amount of time which was just over an hour.

We drove up a long single track road which led to the farmlands and Annabelle and Nick’s new build property (which Annabelle and her girls moved into with Nick at the end of last year). Annabelle is now expecting a baby. She looked amazing when I saw her and it was as if no time had passed. It was also fantastic to meet her girls Rosa and Esme. We had a lovely lunch which Annabelle had prepared and we spoke a lot about Nick’s work and their day to day lives. Living on a farm is such a different lifestyle to what I’m used to. -There was copious amounts of land that they own and countryside surrounding their home. Maintaining this involves an incredible amount of hard labour so I found it all very interesting to hear about the everyday processes Nick has to complete to enable to farm to run effectively. He views the animals as an income rather than as pets.

After lunch we looked around the farm. Nick put his overalls on and showed us the goats that they had recently purchased and will sell for meat.

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Chris found the business side exciting. Nick shares the land with his family which include his Mum, Dad and Grandpa. Nick works with his Dad every day caring for the animals and making sure they are kept is essential to ensure a healthy profit is made.

Next we saw sheep, cows, hens and turkeys. The sheep were mainly pregnant and Nick showed us that there were over 200 in one area. It was cold and every animal that we saw was sheltered in a barn. This is not the case in the summer months and I should imagine the landscapes look and sound very different at this time of the year.

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We met Nick’s Grandpa who has his own house on-site. He is in his nineties but manages to maintain his independence through daily visits from his family in his own space.

We wandered around for a bit longer and stumbled upon a bucket of skinned pheasants! Surprisingly, Annabelle’s Daughters didn’t seem bothered or digusted by this! Nick also has a hatchery and he offers the service of hatching people’s eggs for them. I love that it’s the norm for Rosa and Esme to live in a place where they are surrounded by nature and animals -It definitely teaches them about the circle of life!

That evening, Annabelle and Nick were celebrating the first anniversary of being a couple and were going out for a meal. Annabelle’s Mum arrived to pick up the girls to babysit so we left shortly after that.

Before we left we asked Nick and Annabelle if there were any landmarks that were worth a visit on the way back from theirs to our hotel. They said Byland Abbey was worth a look so we stopped by to have a look and take a picture before heading back over to Hull.

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On the drive back, Chris and I were a bit peckish so we decided to get some vouchers for Pizza Express from our Nectar points and spend them on some Calamari and a Calzone to share. We sat next to each other at the table (which I love) and this felt more intimate somehow.

We drove back to the Hotel.

In the morning we ate Breakfast again but this time it was much busier. -They kept running out of things. They had no plates and then no glasses. It must have been busier than the day before but the room was just as full as the day before.

We checked out and then got changed into our swimming attire. I found us a couple of loungers whilst I was waiting for Chris and started to read. We used the facilities including the hottest Jacuzzi I had ever been in. I actually had to sit on the side as it was boiling! We swam and then I got out to read some more. Chris did a few lengths and then Chris fell asleep on the lounger! I love it when he relaxed enough to properly zonk out. The nature of his brain injury means that he spends a lot of time stressed about things that he may have forgotten about or pressing matters that he can’t find the time to get around to doing. I particularly love it when he is able to forget about his concerns and properly relax

As we left the spa and before we began our journey home, Chris and I took these photographs of the grounds and the Castle itself.

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Gran Canaria December 2017

On 10th December we were due to fly to Gran Canaria for our 4th Wedding Anniversary and Chris’ 45th Birthday. Unfortunately heavy snow had been predicted for this day since Thursday 7th December so we knew we might be in for a bit of a delay. On Sunday night we dropped the kids and all of their things at my Mum and Dad’s house (knowing at this point that the snow was down as being 100% certain in the forecast). I said to Adam, just before we left “If we wake up in the morning to heavy snow, I’m going to be gutted!”. He responded incredulously (laughing at me) with “IF!? -IF you wake up to heavy snow!? What part of 100% chance of heavy snow don’t you understand!!??” He was cheekily revelling in our misfortune! At the time I laughed along with him, thinking the concept was funny but when we woke at 5am, I think that was the first time in my life I had ever not been excited about seeing the cursed white stuff! Chris did a spectacular job of driving to the airport even though the snow was coming down heavily. It was settling on the M1 and only one of the lanes was safe to drive in. The darkness and absence of street lights didn’t help but Chris got us there safely. We had sorted out Mid-stay parking at East Midlands Airport so we only had a short walk to Departures. That walk was bitterly cold and uncomfortable due to the snow flying into our faces and the biting wind. Chris was amused at how quickly I marched off; head down against the elements!

Our flight was due to leave at 9am and we were told at the Departure desk that we would be boarding at 8.20am. We checked our bag in which was below the 22kg allowance by 1.5kg. I always relax a little bit once the suitcase has been checked in and there is no desperate scramble to cram clothes and underwear into our hand luggage! I recently read a book by Liane Moriarty and this paragraph stood out to me:

“She is happy, she realises. She has that euphoric feeling you get at the airport after you’ve checked in your luggage. Nothing can stop your journey. You’ve started sliding down the slippery dip. You’re going away and leaving all your problems far, far behind. There’s nothing more to do.”

Ah, how ironic this paragraph would come to be! Under normal circumstances, this is exactly how I would have felt but I was but I knew that we had the weather to contend with in addition to everything else that comes with a trip to the airport.

We went through security which is always a concern. I knew there was no liquids/ electrical items that would be flagged up in my hand luggage but what I didn’t know was that Chris had put all 9 (!) of my Anniversary presents in his hand luggage. This included my favourite Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume which I had run out of months ago. The X-Ray had picked it up including another (more embarrassing) item that had to be put in a clear bag to be taken through. I fully expected my present to be confiscated but (as it was only 50ml), all security had to do was take it to be tested. It was then restored back to Chris with strict instructions from the officer that I was not to use it until Chris had properly presented it to me on my Anniversary!

Our path from security took us straight through Duty Free where we both applied our favourite fragrances. The Departure Board told us we had 35 minutes to boarding. At this point I still thought we were looking at no delay. We considered both Superdrug and WHSmith meal deals (to take on the plane) but decided on a breakfast croissant with Tropicana which we ate with a Cinnamon and Nutmeg Hot Chocolate in Starbucks. At this point the board changed and informed us thus: “Next info at 9.00”.

Whilst we were sitting, Bishop Corre posted in the Facebook groups that all Church meetings were cancelled!

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I don’t ever remember Church being cancelled before! Despite this, I still hoped that (considering the Airport had had prior warning) we would be able to fly.

We continued to sit in Starbucks and then spoke to a couple of Police Officers who were stationed there on a routine posting. They advised us that they had been speaking to someone the day before who was the head of the team responsible for clearing the runway. They had been boasting to the female officer that all it would take was 20 minutes to clear the snow so it wouldn’t offer much of a delay. Soon after this the board changed to “Next info at 12.00” so we knew we had time to kill. I still hoped to board the plane very soon and that they were just being overly pessimistic with their estimation of how long the snow would take to clear. The problem was though, that it was still heavily coming down. As they were attempting to clear, this was being replaced with fresh snow.

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At about 10am we were each given a £5 light refreshment voucher which we decided to spend on something to eat at Frankie and Bennies.

 

It was still a novelty to be getting free food and the flight wasn’t that delayed at this point so our spirits were still high.

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We sat for a while and noticed that our mobile phone batteries were quickly being used up. We found a cable to charge them with but all of our plugs were in our hold luggage (that had been checked in). Chris came across a black foldable plug in Dixons that was novel enough to justify us buying it (for £20!) so he got that and we plugged our phones into the wall next to our booth! I kept looking at the board which (just before 12pm) changed to “Next info at 16.00”. It was frustrating waiting for the board to change or be updated but thinking back to it now, we were in such a privileged position. We had charging phones, free food, warmth and good company. Any time I get to spend alone with Chris is a treat. I wish I could force myself to remember this at the times I get stressed.

At about 12.30pm we were given more “light refreshment” vouchers. I collected £8 each from gate 11 (which was the gate we should have been boarding from) and then took them to Chris in Frankie and Bennies. This gave us £26 to spend there.

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We’d already ordered and shared a bacon roll and an omelette but I decided I wanted a pizza despite this and Breakfast (just before we left home) at 6am and the hot chocolate and a croissant with Jam we’d had in Starbucks! Eating was an enjoyable way to pass the time.

The couple in the Booth behind us told us that if the airline kept delaying the flights then it was likely that it would be postponed to the next day. Shortly after this, the board changed to “Next info at 09.20”. At this point I didn’t care what time we arrived in Gran Canaria as long as it was that day. I wanted to wake up in our hotel room the next morning. That way, the delay wouldn’t mean much because the first day is always written off for travel anyway. When pressed, the staff at our gate confirmed that the board was wrong and that we were to continue to wait. It then changed back to “Next info at 16.00”.

When the board changed again to suggest that we had to wait until 09.20 the following day for further information.  It now sounded like this wasn’t going to happen and that our flight was being delayed for 24 hours and 20 minutes. We were gutted. The people in the booth behind us confirmed that this was the case. We knew there was no way we wanted to go home so we decided to see if we could claim on our travel insurance and have them sort out somewhere to stay. This turned into an ordeal as when we got through to speak to someone, she said we didn’t have travel insurance. Chris was sure we did so checked his bank account and found the reoccurring debit of £10.50 for the Barclays travel pack. We called back and pointed out we had it and were told we could claim £25 per person per 12 hours of delay. This meant we would be entitled to £100 to spend on an overnight stay.

We then had to go to Gate 1 where they led us back into the Airport through Arrivals, asked to see our Passports and told us to collect our luggage. It was such a shame to be picking up our suitcase from the carousel! I felt rubbish about it. I was cold and it was getting dark! I had no desire to still be in England at this point and felt really sad about it. Chris helped me feel better about it and we chose the Hilton through Booking.com as it had a Spa and Pool.

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We checked in and then went straight to the Sauna so that helped a bit.

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I’m learning that I find it difficult to be in situations that I can’t control. -I really have to force myself to have a positive attitude when things don’t go the way I want and I have no control over a situation. It’s worse if I don’t get the result I’m hoping for and, in this case, I definitely did not want to be in a hotel in England in the dark and snow not knowing if we would even be able to take off in the Morning. I had no choice though, and the only thing I could control was my attitude. We tried to make the best of it and read on the loungers by the pool, so really, the only thing missing from the experience was the sun. -I even had a little snooze.

When it came to Dinner, I hoped that I would be full enough from the pizza and food we had eaten earlier but it turned out we were both hungry. We decided on fish and chips but when we arrived at the one we had been recommended, it was closed. There was a Chinese not too far away from where we were so we bought a couple of dishes and took them back to our room where we ate them in bed with disposable forks! I then had a bath and we went to bed.

In the morning we packed our suitcases again and put them in the car before having to wait for Breakfast to be open at 7am. While we were waiting, we saw a group of people with suitcases standing at the front doors. It turns out that they were other passengers on the same delayed flight as us. They got an all expenses paid overnight stay, had Dinner and Breakfast included and a minibus that picked them up and took them to the airport in the morning! We were confused as to why we hadn’t been offered the same thing, but maybe it was because we looked like we had everything under control when the Jet2 woman came over to us in Frankie and Bennies.

When it was 7am, we spoke to the guy at front of house (in the Restaurant) and he told us that only one Breakfast had been paid for. This was apparently a normal error that they had to deal with when people stayed with them through Bookings.com. They sorted it so we didn’t have to pay any more than we already had. We ate a good Breakfast and then left for the airport again.

When we arrived, Chris realised he had left his phone in the car. We checked our hold luggage in again, were told we would be boarding at 8.40am and then Chris went to get his phone whilst I got some more free food vouchers. – £8 each this time. Chris then came back thinking he must have dropped his phone on the walk from the car to the terminal as he couldn’t find it in the car. Fortunately it was just in my bag! We cleared security no problem this time and then bought sandwiches, crisps and a drink from Starbucks to take on the plane. At this point the main emotion I was feeling was apathy. I just felt numb and drained. We spoke to some people in the line at the boarding gate who were only going on holiday for 4 days so they had literally lost 25% of their holiday. -I would have been beside myself had this been the case for us! Unsurprisingly, we did not board at 8.40am as promised. We had to wait at the gate whilst a pathway was cleared for us to walk across to the plane. I really do not understand why this was not done in advance. There was clearly enough notice that our flight was re-scheduled! It was kind of laughable at how long we were having to wait.

Whilst we were in the queue, I noticed that our pre-booked seats were in positions C and D. When I had gone through the check-in process online, it had not even occurred to me that this meant Chris and I weren’t sitting together. We had an aisle separating us. We spoke to the lady at the gate who scanned our boarding passes and asked her if the seats could be changed. She said to speak to the cabin staff about it. We boarded the plane and spoke to a lady who told us that the flight was not fully booked so we could move. She said we should sit in our designated seats for take off as this would help with balancing the plane (!) and that we could move once the seat belt signs were off.

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Chris took this picture from his position across the aisle to put on our Family Whatsapp group to show that we were finally on the plane. The staff were just standing around waiting to leave, like we were. Also, if you look closely, you can see the man standing at the door in a high visibility jacket. I think he must have been part of the Airport staff and something to do with monitoring the de-icing of the plane.

We were told the de-icing would take 15 minutes. We knew there was no way this would be the case but we were hopeful to leave.

We were then delayed again as we missed our flight slot due to the de-icing taking too long. We were told we would be leaving at 9.20am but we did not leave until 11.50am! We sat on the plane for over 2 1/2 hours before it left. 

As we were waiting for the flight to leave, I got an email from On the Beach asking why we hadn’t checked into our accommodation the night before. Seriously!! Rubbing salt in the wound or what!? This wound me up! I was frustrated that Jet2.com had not communicated with the relevant people about the delay but really, I was so desperate to get our holiday underway, I mentally filed it away and added it to my list of complaints.

Now, I honestly feel so uncomfortable when it comes to breaking the rules or sitting in the wrong place. Even when it comes to sitting at the cinema, I would rather sit in the seats I have booked than move. Chris always wants to test out different seats to see if he has a better view than the ones we’ve paid for. This makes me worry the entire time that someone is going to come and tell me I’m sitting in their seats! Apparently some other passengers were not happy with their seats either but they did not wait until the plane was in the air to move. – I suppose the fact that we were grounded for a couple of hours before take off (because of de-icing) gave these people even more reason to move sooner. Chris was beside himself and made me move then and there. We moved to the row in front so the two of us could sit together but Chris felt badly about the fact that there was a complete row that we had lost out on. There was a free row at the back of the plane so I suggested we move back there. We even took our hand luggage back with us but this turned out to be more obvious and the flight attendant asked us to move back. We said that other people had been moving around and we would move when they did. The attendant said that before take off everyone would have to move to their original seats. We moved back to the seats on our tickets and waited for the plane to take off and for the seatbelt signs to be turned off. In the end, we didn’t take off until 11.50am which is 26 1/2 hours later than we should have left!

I think it was marginally before the seatbelt signs were turned off that another couple moved to new seats. We followed suit very quickly which meant that another couple who seemed to be travelling with the couple that had already moved could not sit in seats near each other. This made me feel uncomfortable for a while so I turned my face away from them for as long as possible out of embarrassment!

Anyway, we were finally on our way. This was the ariel view that greeted us when we looked out the window.

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How amazing to see the country covered in snow? I was so glad to be finally on our way. Contrast the photo above to the one below that we took once we’d hit Mediterranean waters!

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We went through to pick up our hold luggage and didn’t recognise our suitcase. We were the last ones standing in baggage claim watching a solitary suitcase go around on the conveyer belt. It didn’t look like ours and we just couldn’t believe that so many things could go wrong! Fortunately, it was our bag and we were able to make our way into the warmth outside. Very stupidly I decided not to go to the toilet. I felt like I needed to a little bit but reasoned that we would be on our way very soon. -I didn’t want to delay the transfer any more. Unfortunately, the bus took almost an hour to leave. We think that no extra bus had been provided for us (those delayed for over 24 hours) despite the fact they were aware of it. This meant we had to drop off twice the amount of people. It also seemed to us that the bus driver was taking illogical routes which made the whole drive longer. I was beside myself and desperate for the toilet but I didn’t want to get off at any of the stops and hold up the coach any longer. I was so embarrassed at the prospect! Chris was practically begging me to let him ask the driver to wait at one of the drop off points whilst I went to the toilet but I couldn’t face it. The transfer took 2 1/2 hours rather than the 1 1/2 hours we were expecting and I was so uncomfortable. However, when we arrived in the Puerto Rico area, the scene was amazing.

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It still seemed to take forever to arrive. As soon as we arrived at our Hotel I ran in and used the toilet. I was beyond relieved. I left Chris to bring the bags. I do feel lucky that I can totally rely on him to take care of the “man jobs”. The foyer of the hotel was underwhelming but I had high hopes for the room. We checked in and got the key to our room. We entered our suite through a patio door and found a kitchen-living room, quite a nice and modern bathroom but no bath and a bedroom with no window! We also found lots of hairs in the beds, on top of the duvet, on the pillows and even underneath the duvet on the sheets! I’ll spare you the photos.

We went to Reception and asked to be moved to a different room because of the hair. We were under the impression that the Lara Apartments were part of the same complex (as this was previously the case) and so asked to be moved to another room either in ‘Nido’ or ‘Lara’. We were told that all were fully booked. We felt so deflated! We had spent so long waiting to arrive and it was such a let down. It was nothing like the places we usually stay in. We resigned ourselves to being there, at least for that night. We went to have dinner but the Restaurant (if you can call it that) was small and canteen-like. The food was cold, there was little choice and was all on one long buffet unit making it difficult to access. We couldn’t find a table inside so had to sit outside. After Dinner I looked for the bar only to find that it was part of the canteen, was unmanned and I couldn’t find a single member of staff. I had never been anywhere on an all-inclusive holiday like this before. We sat outside just feeling gutted. Chris said we should just go home. I called On The Beach customer services first thing in the morning. I spoke to Leanne and outlined all that had happened. We requested to use the Lara Apartment’s facilities (which actually shares the Nido del Aguila plot) and said that if we could use their Restaurant, pool and loungers then we would settle for that and would be prepared to stay in the hair-ridden room. She said they couldn’t move us to the Lara part as it was 4* and not associated with ‘Nido’ or ‘On The Beach’. It became clear that Leanne was going through the motions and therefore applying the standard procedure for a customer who is not happy with only their accommodation. She said I would have to complain about this at a later date. She told us that she would see how much money she could release from Nido (for our accommodation) which could then be spent elsewhere. I said that I wanted them to bear in mind that we had only stayed for one night (as our flight had been delayed) and had only had one meal (rather than 4, which is what it would have been had our flight not been delayed).

We had breakfast while we waited for a callback. The Restaurant and atmosphere was no better. Apart from appearing like an elongated shed, there were no servers or waiters. It lacked the usual feel of an all-inclusive restaurant.

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We went and sunbathed for a bit after that. We were grateful that at least the weather was good and that we were finally in Gran Canaria at least.

After a couple of hours, we still hadn’t heard anything. We had lunch and then I called On The Beach again and Leanne said she’d been trying to call me back. She told us that we would have to pay £154 if we wanted to move to the closest hotel: ‘Puerto Azul’. I expressed my frustration at having to shell out even more money, considering the terrible service we had received on all accounts. I was again told that I would have to take this up with them once we had returned.

Chris and I took a walk down to the new Hotel to see what it was like and if we would be happy to move there. As soon as we entered the complex (-even the fact that there was a complex, including a shop was a welcome difference) we knew that this would be the best decision. The lobby was big and shiny and there was a series of lifts which suggested the magnitude of the Hotel. There was a huge bar area by the pool and two restaurants to choose from.  Moving would mean that we would have a holiday which would be luxurious and reflective of the amount of money we had actually already paid. I vowed we would pay the extra £154 but that I would get it refunded as soon as we got home.

We walked back up the hill, packed our bags and informed the hotel that we were checking out. We got a taxi to take us down because we now had our suitcases with us again and it was quite a walk.

We checked in and travelled down to our room. We had to take 3 lifts from Reception. Once we were safely in our new suite, this was the view that greeted us:

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We were so relieved to be in such a beautiful place with such an amazing view. As it was late afternoon by this point, we thought it would be worth making the most of the amount of daylight remaining so we went straight out, intending to sunbathe. Much to our delight, we came upon a private adult area which was home to a jacuzzi. -It was not just any jacuzzi, it was an infinity pool.

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We were still in Puerto Rico but having moved and being on the other side meant that the views were magnificent. It was like a different world. We really enjoyed being in the water and looking at the scenery.

The next day we went out to have a look around the island. We found somewhere to have a drink on the beach and sat and people-watched for a bit.

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My Birthday 2017

This year was my Fifth Birthday with Chris. Every one had been great up until now and he made sure this was no different.

The first Birthday of mine that we celebrated together was a Sunday. We weren’t Married at this point and were living separately in different towns. Chris came to Church with me and I was able to introduce him to everyone in Duston Ward for the first time. I then remember Hayley organising a BBQ at Mum and Dad’s where she got me a Cadburys Flake Birthday cake (which was great… and I don’t like cake!). This was the first time my family ever met Chris so it was quite a special day.

Since then my Birthdays have included flowers, presents, meals out, weekends away and even a banner on a roundabout!

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This time, I woke up earlier than on a normal day. Chris and I generally go to bed at around 12pm (the reason I was able to capture the picture above) so I like to sleep until at least 8am. On a School Day, 8am is the time that the kids come in and we say Morning Prayers with them before they leave. The first reason I was awake so early was that the night before we had watched the General Election results coming in constituency by constituency. I was intrigued to see if the exit poll results were correct. -They were and so we were in receipt of a hung parliament. The Conservatives had failed to reach enough seats and therefore there was no distinct result and winning party. This was really interesting so I read about this on the BBC news website for a while.

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Secondly I love reading the Facebook messages that people send me wishing me a Happy Birthday so this was another incentive to wake up.

Chris got up lots earlier than normal to supervise the Children. I think they were wrapping presents but they had been doing this the night before too. He had taken them out to Sainsbury’s the previous evening to buy me some things so whilst they were sorting this downstairs, I sat occupied by my phone for a bit until I was called down.

Eve and Emma gave me some homemade bath bombs. They had made them with my Mum whilst they were with her on a their weekly Tuesday night visits after School. I love that they made them specifically for me as they know I love to have a bath.

Sam gave me my favourite hot chocolate. I love how excited was about my presents. He is so caring and always wants to give what he has to other people. He often spends his money on sweets or chocolates to share when we spend time together and is always offering guests and Chris something from his treat box. In this instance he had thought about what I enjoy the most and bought it for me.

Chris knows me so well. He bought me a DVD that we would watch together, a massive packet of crisps (because he appreciates that I prefer savoury to sweet) an hour’s appointment with a Nutritionist and some flowers. There was also a big box wrapped in a bin liner. He asked me what I thought it was. I said “I think it’s a Hoover, but I hope it’s not!”, to which he and the children looked at each other. I looked inside the bag and embarrassingly, it was a vacuum cleaner! -Not just any one though, it was a cordless Dyson which makes hoovering so much easier. Chris said he bought it for me to improve my life as it is so much more efficient. It really is and all I need now is a Dishwasher and my life will be complete! Seriously though, I love it and I felt really touched at the thought that had gone into the presents from Chris and my Children.

The kids left for School and Chris had a bath. He has always taken longer than me to get ready so I knew I had a bit of time to relax before we left. I sat downstairs and watched a bit of the ‘One Love Manchester’ Ariana Grande concert that she held in aid of the terror attack that occurred at her last gig. I did this whilst I tidied up the wrapping paper and put my makeup on. When I was still downstairs, the postman knocked on the door with a package for me! I took it upstairs to the Bathroom, assumed the usual position that I take when Chris is in the bath (against the radiator) and proceeded to open my delivery. Inside I found a wrapped present from Emma (Adam’s Girlfriend), a Birthday card and a book called Hemmingway’s Paris written by Emma’s Dad that he had sent me himself!

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Inside he had written the following message:

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I was really touched as it was a lovely thought and even though I’ve never met him, I felt like it was an indication of how he and Emma feel about me. I love my relationship with Emma and we message all the time. I was honoured to feel like her Dad appreciates this friendship.

Emma had bought me a TShirt from Hollister which I love and so wore straight away.

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Her card was heartfelt and touching. -Sufficeth to say I loved this unexpected package from America!

I had decided I wanted to shop in Milton Keynes and have lunch so we went to the part near the Stadium where they have a few shops and restaurants.

I love shopping with Chris as he enjoys picking out bits for me to wear and that makes me feel attractive. What he chooses isn’t always modest so sometimes (if he wants to buy them for me) then I keep them as “Bedroom clothes”. On this occasion he chose me a top that can really only be worn in front of him so will definitely be reserved for my underwear drawer.

I had chosen to eat lunch at Nando’s. If I’m really honest, presents mean less to me than experiences or quality time spent with someone. What I really wanted for my Birthday was to sit and eat and enjoy Chris’ company with the sun on my face. -I was lucky enough to have it considering it was overcast in the morning. We sat outside at Nando’s and I got my wish!

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The food was really tasty and so was the company!

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Once we had arrived home from Milton Keynes, Claire and Kevin Kent came over and gave me a present and spent a bit of time with us before the kids got back. Whilst Claire and Kevin were still there, Mum and Dad arrived to see me too. They gave me a cleaning implement that I had particularly asked for, which will make short work of cleaning the taps and the bathrooms.

Chris and I took the kids to McDonalds in the evening so I didn’t have to make Dinner. We sat outside again. I enjoyed spending time with all of them- I love my little family.

I wanted to get an Indian take-away for Dinner but I was really stuffed from Nando’s at lunchtime so I just ate the remaining wrap that I had left over from lunch and some of the crisps and chocolate I got as presents. We watched a film together in bed, which is one of my absolute favourite things to do!

It was a lovely day where I got to feel loved by my family and friends around me but also by lots of people who sent me messages on Facebook or texts to my phone. I feel blessed to have lots of people that care about me who showed me love.

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Colonoscopy 20/09/2017

On a normal Tuesday evening from about 7.10pm until about 9.20pm, you will find me at Church where I currently volunteer and help run the youth group for 12-18 year old girls. However, this week I had to stay at home and take my laxitives in preparation for my colonoscopy the next day. I seriously don’t know what I would have preferred to do! Joking aside, I do love spending time with the Young Women. -They are all such individual characters and I love hearing about their lives, their goals, the things they enjoy watching and their relationships. I also feel like I can impart my wisdom on them, and they massage my ego because they let me! It was a shame to not be with them this particular week as we were planning the next Quarter’s activities. -I would have liked to have been part of the decision making process of what to do on our Tuesday nights.

Anyway, after having not eaten anything since Breakfast, at 5pm on this particular Tuesday evening, I was to take my first lot of Moviprep (the laxitive). I dissolved sachet A and sachet B into 2 litres of water and split them into 3 portions. I drank the first part not a problem and then waited until after I’d done Dinner (for the children) to drink the next.

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Shortly after I’d taken the second amount, the laxitive started to work. At 6.45pm, I made sure Eve was ready to leave to meet Melody at the bottom of our cul-de-sac (who had kindly offered to pick her up for Youth Group and bring her back) and then was about to take my last drink of the solution. I breathed in, the smell turned my stomach and then I was physically sick. I vomited three times but felt better for it. I then drank the final solution just before 7pm.

I started to feel really poorly then. I was meant to be resting and then preparing to drink another 2 litres of solution at 9pm. At just after 8.30pm, I vomited again, this time until I was dry heaving. Below is a picture that I took of myself (directly after I had been sick) to send to Chris.

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I deliberated over whether or not to include this picture because it’s really not me at my best! In it, you can see the dark circles under my eyes, the smudged mascara, my straggly hair and my sallow complexion. Chris said I should post it as it’s a true reflection of real life. I felt so rough and was kind of shocked when I looked in the mirror so had taken the picture to show Chris. This picture, juxtaposed with the one of me taken at the hospital the next day shows the contrast.

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I couldn’t believe it was making me so sick. I googled the symptoms and one result said nausea and vomiting was normal and another told me to seek medical advice. I was worried that it was making me feel awful and yet I had to drink 2 more litres of the horrible stuff. Considering it was coming up anyway, I wondered if there was much point in drinking the rest. So, based on the google search, I called 111 and spoke to NHS Direct. I explained what had happened and how awful it made me feel and they said they needed a Doctor’s opinion on what I should do. I was pretty sure I was going to have to drink the rest but when I got the call confirming this,  I couldn’t think of anything worse. I understood that my colon needed to be cleaned and this was the only way, but I couldn’t face drinking any more!

Thankfully, Chris returned back from seeing his Children at about 9.30pm and was really supportive. I tried drinking the next MoviPrep quickly but it came straight back up. Chris rubbed my back whilst I was sick and then suggested that I take a sip every 5 minutes. I can’t describe the turmoil I felt. My body physically did not want to take down any more of this slimy substance yet I knew that I needed to empty my system. I don’t want to be melodramatic but I really can’t remember having felt that stressed in a long time. I drank two out of the three portions of liquid and by this point it was clear that the laxitive had done its job entirely. I was so relieved and didn’t drink the remainder.

Fortunately I was able to sleep without having to get up and go to the toilet at any point. This was a blessing as we had to wake at 6.20am. My appointment at the hospital was 7.40am but on a normal weekday Sam doesn’t leave for School until 8.40am, the girls at 8pm. I’d asked Claire Kent to take Sam to School for me as she had kindly offered to help with anything I needed over this time. -She had even offered to come with me to the hospital. I was really grateful for the offer but was pleased to be able to say that Chris had the day off specifically so he could come with me. So, we had to drop Sam off at Claire’s house for 6.50am as she was picking Isabel up at 7.15am from Seminary. Seriously, getting up this early should be outlawed unless it’s due to going on holiday and catching an early flight!

We left Eve and Emma sleeping, dropped Sam off and got to The Three Shires at 7.15am. We were told to be 10 minutes early but when we arrived, despite being 25 minutes early, there was still one person in front of us. I thought we would easily be the first people to arrive. I had filled my forms out the previous day so we were checked in swiftly and told to sit in the waiting room. Chris decided after a few minutes that he needed to go to the toilet (which is the story of my life! -If anyone needs anexploratory procedure in that area, then it’s Chris!). I sat by myself for only a small amount of time before then being taken upstairs to my private room with TV and En Suite!

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Someone then brought Chris up and we met a nurse who knew Chris’ Sister, Katie as they had worked there together. She asked me a few questions about my health and the night before. We then watched a programme about teams making and racing motorbikes so Chris was entertained! Someone then put a canular in my right arm (in preparation for the sedative) and then after a while someone fetched me and took me down to the procedure rooms. I had to lie in a bed for 20 minutes or so waiting for them to finish with the person that had gone in before me.

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I was looking forward to the gas and air and sedative as I remember having enjoyed that when I had my first colonoscopy in 2011. Unfortunately the procedure was really painful. I could hear myself moaning! Everyone was really supportive but even the pain relief didn’t make it worth it. They found some polyps in my colon again and so removed them there are then. I reached out for the nurses hand on more than one occasion and had to be told (also on more than one occasion) to breath deeply on the gas and air otherwise it wouldn’t work.

I was told Mr. Kang had finished and I felt such relief. They then told me that there was a polyp that they had left that needed removing so I had to brace myself again.

They wheeled me out of the Procedure room and I felt quite a bit of discomfort in my abdomen because of the air they had pumped inside. I was then taken back up to the room where Chris had been sleeping! He was awake when I arrived back though and I told him about the pain in my abdomen. He suggested I lie in a position that has proven effective in relieving wind before and that did the job! They then brought me some Peppermint tea and double chocolate chip biscuits which tasted amazing considering I hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours.

Before I left, I was given some leaflets and this:

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It shows that they found polyps but that everything else appeared normal. I had to wait until Tuesday October 17th for the results of the biopsy of my bowel. Dr Kang saw me again and told me that they didn’t find anything anatomically amiss. He said he will refer me back to my GP and suggest that I get referred to the Gastronomy Department where they can do different tests. I suppose I should be relieved that I don’t have a debilitating disease like diverticulitis or colitis but I am quite frustrated with the symptoms that I do have. I also look forward to my meeting with the dietician within the next couple of weeks and hope she can advise on what I should eat to be more comfortable.