First (Greece) impressions don’t always count

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (if not, why not?!) you’ll know I’ve recently returned from a 10 day trip to Greece.

This was split into two parts; 3 nights in Athens on mainland Greece, and 7 nights on the island of Santorini. It had been in the planning, technically, for 13 years; the Santorini part, at least, since we first got together. I included it on a travel bucket list a couple of years back. The Athens part was an add on – a “makes sense to do it while we’re in the area”, if you will. .

Oh, and it was also our 10th wedding anniversary trip. No pressure then!

So, here’s the deal. When you build something up in your head, you want it to be perfect, right? And when it’s not immediately perfect, it freaks you out, right?

Welcome to our holiday to Greece.

Athens

We arrived in Athens and it was raining – strike 1. The hotel room looked nothing like the pictures on the website – strike 2 (although kudos to their photographer for polishing what wasn’t quite a turd, but wasn’t the luxurious dwelling we’d been led to expect).

Although it did have the promised Acropolis view from the balcony.

View of the Acropolis from the Metropolis Hotel in Athens

The husband couldn’t get a draught Mythos (Greek beer) as we sheltered from the rain – strike 3.

It wasn’t the positive start to our trip I’d hoped for.

Now, whilst this is completely irrational (as am I), when things don’t go smoothly on holiday I feel responsible. As the organiser it’s my responsibility to make it great. I know I can’t control everything (e.g the weather), but I also take that as a personal affront. It’s one of my quirks.

But when the sun came out and a rainbow appeared, I hoped for the best!

Rainbow from balcony at Metropolis Hotel Athens

Santorini

Fast forward then 3 days, to our arrival on the beautiful island of Santorini. Our pre-booked private transfer wasn’t at the airport when we arrived – strike 1. Once again our hotel room wasn’t as expected – strike 2. But the biggest kick in the teeth of all, Oia, the “village” we were staying in, was really really crowded. Uncomfortably so. There were selfie sticks, and walking tours, and cruise ship visitors desperately trying to cram in the essence of the island in a few short hours.

Obviously you can’t tell from these pictures!

View of white buildings, sea and caldera islands in Oia Santorini

Caldera view from Oia Santorini

But neither of us felt the burst of love we’d hoped for after 13 years of wanting to visit.

It was gutting.

The outcome

I’ll save you the sleepless nights until I share my full travel posts, but it all ended well. Better than well, in fact. The Athens room was just a base, so not the end of the world. The beer got better. We saw some amazing sights. And, as for Santorini, the room was really really nice, once we adjusted our pre-conceived expectations. And Oia is the most beautiful place I have EVER been to in my life. It’s just a case of timing it right and avoiding the crowds, which we managed on multiple occasions.

Stay tuned for more…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Who thought self hosting was a good idea?

Of course self hosting is good idea overall, I know.

But setting it all up 2 days before you go on holiday, with no time to really look at the results because you should be packing is a little bit daft.

I blame my to-do list whilst between jobs (I’m still “between jobs” and have only watched one HP film and made more of a mess while I sort out our utility room <<insert cliche about breaking omlettes to make eggs here>>). I thought I might feel like I’d achieved something if I ticked off a box. I don’t. I feel like I’ve bolloxed up (technical term) something that at least worked and looked ok.

Actually, who am I kidding? If looking “ok” was a reasonable achievement, I wouldn’t have a (pretty much unused) boxing bag in the garage and 3 brand new lipsticks in my make up bag.

Anyways, just to say if you’re a regular reader I’m sorry about the mess, and if you’re new then this isn’t a truthful representation of what this blog is about, so please pop by again.

The good people at GoDaddy are being rightfully helpful (take my money and stop me being an internet doofus, please) and, thanks to their live web chat, I managed to leave my hair colour on for an extra hour this afternoon. If there are no holiday photos from our impending Greece trip, it’s because I left my hair behind on the pillow in Birmingham.

Also, what an awful logo. And name. I mean, apart from the fact my Dad is dead, I don’t want anyone’s Daddy to be Going on my behalf. It’s all a bit pervy porny, no? And Daddy is wearing god awful hair and sunglasses. GoDaddy that is. Not my Dad. Apart from the fact he’s not around anymore (humour masks my loss), he had impeccable taste.

Having said that, dear GoDaddy, please don’t revoke my (albeit shit right now) blog. It’s gonna get better for all of us, I promise.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

3 days in Dubrovnik

As I gear up for my next holiday (3 nights in Athens and 7 nights in Santorini, starting Saturday, whoop!) I realised I haven’t blogged about my last trip, to Dubrovnik. It’s not like I haven’t had time or anything, the trip was 2 months ago and I’ve been off work for 5 weeks now <<sore point>>. But I didn’t so I’m going to correct that fact and tell you about it now.

I’m not sure when and why going to Dubrovnik became one of my travel priorities, but it was definitely already right up there back in April 2016 when I wrote a list of places I wanted to visit. The architecture, city walls and coastal location made it a really appealing city break; small enough to get around in a few days but enough to do and see to fill the time and feel the city. Of course, later we started watching Game of Thrones, some of which is filmed in Dubrovnik, and my interest was piqued.

We stayed outside of the city walls, in the Ploce area of the city, which means we woke up to the iconic city view of Dubrovnik from our terrace each morning.

Dubrovnik city view from our apartments

This, to me, was more important than being right in the city centre, because it meant we could choose accommodation with outside space (more of a rarity in the city), enjoy a sea view, get dropped off and picked up right outside our accommodation (no taxis or private vehicles are allowed inside the city walls so you could face quite a walk with your luggage) and it was cheaper too.

Looking right from our terrace was a view of Lokrum island.

Lokrum Island view from our apartment

I’d recommend the Ploce are for the above reasons BUT do be aware that it is very steep with hundreds of steps; think about it – to get those iconic city views you need to be quite high up. Walking down is tough enough, but walking back up in the heat of the day (in fact, at any time of day!) is a killer.

Steps from Ploce to Old Town

I’d read before we went that Uber taxis are plentiful and cheap so, after doing the walk once, we used a cab every time. Most phone providers allow you to use your phone plan including data in Croatia, so just download the app and let them take the strain. It usually cost about £3 for a one way journey, which was nothing between the three of us, and in a short break it doesn’t really add up too much. Plus, steps. Seriously. Without the cab I’d have spent a lot more time in the apartment, with broken hamstrings.

Speaking of the apartment, I found it on Booking.com which has a good range of accommodation of all types. Ours was a 2 bedroom apartment with a lounge, kitchen diner, bathroom, and a huge terrace with those city views.

Suzy Apartments terrace

Suzy apartments covered terrace

It made the trip feel a bit more like a holiday than just a city break, because it meant we could eat breakfast outside in the morning, or sit and relax in the afternoon and evening sun after a day of sightseeing. From what I saw during my research, much of the accommodation in Dubrovnik is in private independently owned apartments which are quite dated in style. Don’t be surprised to find a blue bathroom suite or 80s décor. The larger, more cosmopolitan hotels are further away from the Old Town. Inside the City Walls expect to have to carry or wheel your suitcase over bumpy cobbles, and potentially up many narrow stairs if you’re staying on one of the steep side streets.

So, the city itself. As I said, the main part of Dubrovnik is inside the City Walls, accessible from Ploce Gate on one side and Pile Gate on the other. Ploce Gate was, in our experience, the lesser used of the two entrances and a more dramatic (therefore enjoyable) experience.

City Walls and Ploce gate

Ploce Gate Dubrovnik

You have views of the sea, and the old harbour, and Lokrum Island, plus of course the steep walls surrounding the city and back towards Ploce.

Dubrovnik harbour view from Ploce Gate

View through Ploce Gate wall

Dubrovnik Old Harbour looking back to Ploce

Pile Gate is the one used by most cruise ship arrivals (of which there are many in high summer) and is so busy there’s an operational one way walking system for in and out. Don’t be confused about entering the City Walls (to get into the city centre, which is free), and visiting the City Walls (which is a walk around the summit of the walls and is chargeable).

The Old Town is fairly compact and it’s easy to get your bearings and to get around. The main street (Stradun) runs from the Ploce Gate side to the Pile Gate side, and the smaller streets mainly form a grid system, with narrow passageways crammed with eateries which occasionally open up into larger squares. It’s incredibly clean with beautiful architecture.

Dubrovnik Centre

Dubrovnik church

For a different view of the city, take to the sea! The ferry to Lokrum Island (more on that another time) will give you a different perspective on the port, but it’s also worth going on a speedboat trip which takes you to the other side of the city walls along the coastline.

Speedboat City Walls from the sea

Speedboat trip City Walls from the sea

Speedboat trip Dubrovnik City Walls

It then heads out to and and all the way round Lokrum (the Lokrum ferry only goes to the port, so you won’t see the “back” of the island, including the stunning cave below with crystal clear water) before sailing back along the Adriatic coastline.

Speedboat trip looking back at the City Walls

Speedboat trip heading towards Lokrum Island

Lokrum Island inland cave

Adriatic Coast

Speedboat trip Adriatic Coast

We paid 40 euros total for a private 45 minute trip for 3 people (it was 30 euros total to share with other people, and we don’t really like other people so it was a no brainer!) There are lots of boat trips available from the Old Town harbour. You’ll see from the pics you can also do sea kayaking over to Lokrum, but no thank you!

Dubrovnik is just as beautiful by night. Everything is lit up and reflections twinkle in the water. The white marble floor of the main street (Stradun) glistens; there’s almost an other worldy glow about the city.

Nighttime in Dubrovnik Old Town

Stradun at night time

Dubrovnik old town harbour by night

Dubrovnik by night

Dubrovnik city walls by night

Stradun by night

In my next Dubrovnik post I’ll talk about visiting the city walls (hint, there were a lot more steps!) and the cable car to Mount Srd.

Have you been to Dubrovnik? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

A bad day and the impossible task

I already knew last night that today was going to be a bad day.

“Why didn’t you do something pre-emptive to stop it then, you daft cow?” (those are my words, and maybe what you’re thinking too.)

Unfortunately it was too late. I was lying in bed, fretting, listening to the husband snore, reading a blog I’ve become ridiculously immersed in (I think I’m as far back as 2013 posts from this woman now; her family story is fascinating and her writing is really engaging and fun) and wondering why I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling so so ready for slumber.

Knowing I needed to sleep was one of my problems. I had a second interview for a job this morning, over the telephone, and I wanted to be well rested and coherent instead of a mumbling sleepy mess. We’ve been away at a music festival this weekend, an indoor one. There’s been drinking and lack of sleep and less quality sleep than when I’m at home. My diet has been poor. I lay there berating myself for a weekend of unadulterated fun, which is ridiculous! But this happens to me often. After gigs, and weekends away, and holidays.

“Did I enjoy myself enough?”

“Did I make the best of it?”

“Why did I spend so much money?”

“What could or should I have done differently?”

It’s an exhausting thought process.

If you follow me on Instagram I posted last week that I’ve been something of a recluse while I’ve been off work; pretty much just hanging out at home. It’s all cool, it’s through choice. But I had a lovely day out shopping on Thursday, then lunch with my Mom on Friday. I’d been invited to the afore mentioned second interview, after successfully navigating the first one earlier in the week. The husband and I had an end of summer barbecue on Friday night and sat outside til late with the chimnea burning. Then we were away Saturday and Sunday, catching up with friends and having a lot of fun. I hardly saw any of the bands because it was so hot in the venue and I was so aware that the good weather might be the last sign of summer that I didn’t want to hide away inside (I didn’t love the bands that were playing anyway, I was always going more for the social side). “Was that a mistake?” wondered my tired brain. “Should I have spent more time listening to music than socialising with people I don’t see very often?” Yep, an unsettled mind is fantastic for analysing things it’s too late to do anything about.

After such a good few days, maybe it was inevitable that I’d crash and burn today? I’d had really odd dreams and it was barely daylight when the alarm went off (grey days really drag me down anyway, I feel my mood slide).

Plus, stupidly, I’d run out of anti-depressants. I had a repeat prescription, but hadn’t collected the tablets. Now I don’t for one minute think that the benefits of anti-depressants leave your body in just two days of not taking them, but it’s always nice from a mental point of view to know you’ve got that extra bit of serotonin support when you’re feeling a bit wiped out. I knew I’d need to leave the house today and fetch the prescription; preferably sooner rather than later.

Up I got, with the husband, saw him off to work, fired up my laptop and my CV and collected my notes ready for my interview. It went well, I was happy with my responses and, if I don’t get any further in the recruitment process, I’ll know that I did my best. I really want to get further, because it’s a company I would really like to work for, but as long as I have no regrets in how I conducted myself in the two interviews, I can’t do any more.

And then, it happened. Flatness. Emptiness. Inability to adult. Operating like a normal person was today’s “Impossible Task”.

I read about the Impossible Task recently on Twitter, and it’s gone viral as so many people can identify with the tweet and the sentiment behind it.

Impossible Task tweet

Depression isn’t all crying and sadness (or being Mrs Angry, in my case). It can also comprise of inability to do things you need to do, things you’ve done a thousand times, because they are impossible at that point in time.

You can read the tweets and more about it in this article from Stylist magazine.

So, there I was, facing my Impossible Task. I knew that even the immediate placebo effect of taking a Prozac would help to level me out, but the thought of leaving the house to get them was too much. I went back to bed under the proviso of being cold. I spoke to the husband on his lunchbreak who told me to get up and go and fetch my tablets. I told him I would, but I closed the curtains and went to sleep for an hour. I woke up and sat in the dark for another hour (reading that blasted blog!)

Then I realised there was no-one to help me with my Impossible Task. The husband was at work. I couldn’t expect him to come home and go back out again to fetch my prescription. The house was a mess. And me moping in bed not only isn’t helping, it’s also unfair on the husband.

So I dragged my carcass out of my pit, had a manic tidy up, sorted some washing out, had a shower and even brushed my hair. I went to the supermarket, then I fetched my tablets. And, even before I’d taken one, I felt better. I’d overcome what I thought I couldn’t do earlier today.

I’m not saying this was a depressive episode, because that belittles depressive episodes, and I’ve gone through them enough to know you don’t get over them in one day simply by making the decision to. But it was symptomatic of not practising self care, and also my circumstances. My garden leave is officially over as of the end of last week, so I’m no longer in paid employment. That’s pretty scary. I’m probably pinning more hopes on the job I’m interviewing for than I should, and I don’t have lots of irons in the fire elsewhere right now. This is likely to be situational depression. A feeling of not being good enough that’s come to a head because I didn’t have a job to go to and I allowed myself to retreat inside my own head where things feel worse than they are.

We’re going on holiday on Saturday, for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. We’ve talked about going to Santorini for over 13 years, and it’s been booked since August last year. Me being a dick and feeling all sorry for myself isn’t going to change the situation, or get me a job, but it could well ruin my holiday. You bet I’ll be putting those packets of Prozac in every single pocket and bag when I’m packing for our trip. Placebo or not, I’d like to be married for another 10 years thanks.

This has been cathartic. If you’ve got this far then thanks, as always, for reading. x

7 books for 7 pounds? Yes please!

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Not for me a couple of pages before bed and taking weeks to finish a book. If I start a book I’m committed to it and I allow it to take over. I’m immersed in the story and the characters (assuming said book is well written) and I just NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Many a time on holiday we’ve been later than planned for lunch or dinner because I’m reading “just one more chapter” which we all know is nothing like one chapter and probably more like four.

When I was a kid we used to go to the local public library where you could only take out six books at a time. I used to pore over the shelves, thinking how best to use my meagre allocation and, by the time we got home, I was chomping at the bit to get started. It wasn’t unusual for me to read a book in one sitting, and I’d usually have got through all of them way before it was time to go back the following week.

As an adult I read less, due to time constraints and life getting in the way, but when I do read I still do so in the same way. Nose down, devouring the pages and feeling thoroughly engaged. If we’re on a relaxing holiday I like nothing more than spending the day at the beach or by the pool with a book for company. If we’re going on a holiday where there is little relaxing time because it’s all about sightseeing, I often choose not to take a book, even for the journey, because I know it will consume my thoughts and eat into my time when I should be out looking at what the world has to offer!

When e-readers became de rigeur, I was slightly appalled (I’d hate books to become extinct) but I could see their appeal – so many books in one lightweight easy to carry place; perfect for holidays where luggage allowance is needed for shoes! And so I bought one (a Nook, now extinct as a company) and I loaded it with all manner of tomes, and I read The Great Gatsby on it the first day I got it. Ebooks were cheap and easy to download and the reader had a really long battery life but I didn’t love it. I missed the smell, and the page turning, and seeing how much book you have left. I missed physical books.

There’s always at least one book on my Christmas list, which I may or may not get round to reading immediately! I always have a pile of physical books which I haven’t yet read, collected from one source or another. But I never buy books from new myself. Being the greedy reader that I am, it’s a really expensive way of reading, when there are much more economical options.

All hail charity shops.

Charity shops are a veritable feast of books – paperback, hardback, fiction, autobiography; they have everything you can imagine. Ranging from tatty and dog-eared (well loved, as I prefer to think of them) through to like new condition, it’s a great way to bring purpose to something that’s otherwise bound for the scrap heap AND support a good cause.

I know there are purists who argue that the author is missing out because they’re not getting the royalties from a new sale. In my case that’s not true at all. I wouldn’t buy the book brand new, so they’re not losing a sale. They’re gaining an audience, and an appreciator, and potentially a recommender who will talk about their works to other people, in real life or on social media.

My most recent find is our local Acorns Childrens Hospice charity shop. I say “find”, it’s in the village where I have lived for 12 years. I’m not usually out in the village having a mooch during shop opening hours though, so I rarely go in there. 2 weeks ago I popped in and came out with a couple of books (then another 4 from Oxfam).

More charity shop books

I started off by reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I really enjoyed. It was a very different protagonist to the usual type, and I did go through a stage a few chapters in where I didn’t like Eleanor very much and so I started to struggle with the book, but I’m glad I persevered.

Last week I went back to the charity shop and came out with 7 books! Charity shop prices for second hand books often depend on size or condition, but our local Acorns has a £1 per book policy across all paperbacks.

Charity shop books

One of these is completely unread with not a mark on it, and I’d say all of the others have been read once and are in immaculate condition. Total value of £55.93, all for £7!

The beauty of reading this way is that you can afford to step out of your comfort zone and try a genre or author you wouldn’t usually go for, because if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted a lot of money (well technically you haven’t wasted any money, as it’s gone to a good charitable cause). Also, once you’ve finished, you can donate them back to the charity shop of your choice, thus continuing their fundraising capability.

Are you an avid reader? Do you buy pre-loved books? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

When will the media be regulated against public bullying?

Bullying is bad. We all know that. It’s instilled into (most of) us as children. We’re told “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. We read in the press about teens, young adults, people of all ages taking their own lives because they have been bullied. Online bullying – cyberbullying – can lead to criminal charges.

Why then is the media exempt from these “rules”? Why are they allowed to print nasty, jibing, critical things about people with no recourse?

The impetus for today’s blog comes from a post I saw on Twitter by TV presenter and entertainer Stacey Solomon.

Stacey Solomon tweet

What’s got Stacey so upset? This is what. This personal, unfounded, and blatantly rude magazine front cover.

Now magazine Stacey Solomon

How bloody horrible. Imagine reading that about yourself? Imagine seeing that on a news stand while you were queuing at the supermarket. Or your kids seeing it. Or your parents. Or the parents of your kids schoolfriends.

Why oh WHY is that considered acceptable “reporting”? And why are celebs deemed to be fair game, or without feeling? It’s obviously impacted Stacey enough for her to make a public comment about it. She doesn’t seem like the type to court the media and use them to further her own agenda, so it’s extra spiteful that they would turn on her.

Not long ago Scarlett Moffatt publicly tweeted about how upset she was by the headline on a woman’s magazine calling her “hefty and heartbroken” after her split with her boyfriend. Scarlett’s harsh reality is that she rose to fame as a normal young girl in Gogglebox, loved for her opinions and personality. She was voted Queen of the Jungle in I’m a Celebrity, because she was well liked. On the back of that, she was more in the public eye, where people felt it their right to comment on her appearance and dress sense. After her stint in bootcamp when she lost lots of weight, she was vilified for being “too thin”. Gaining weight after a break up led to the “hefty and heartbroken” headline. The poor girl can’t win, and nor should she. Being in the public eye is no excuse for the media to be so damn opinionated and rude about anyone (apart from Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins, they both deserve it).

This was how Scarlett reacted to the headline.

Scarlett Moffatt hefty and heartbroken tweet

Good for her! Yet, just a few days later when she was attacked by the press again for her dress choice on an episode of Love Island, she revealed the real affect that such negative headlines can have, because they not only appear in print, they fuel online trolls who also think it’s ok to get involved in bullying people for their appearance.

Scarlett Moffatt crying tweet

Scarlett Moffatt social anxiety tweet

Some people will always be mean. It’s in their nature, or they use putting other people down to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings. We can’t do anything about everyone in the world. What we CAN do is start regulating the press so that damaging and bullying headlines like this are not allowed to be printed.

There’s so much public focus on suicide and mental health problems at the moment, with all sorts of people urging those affected to “just talk” or “reach out”. But how many of those people are also part of the problem, because of their ill thought observations and comments?

The media needs to lead by example. Build women up for being good kind people who do good kind things. Don’t beat them up and flog them publicly.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [35] – a lesson in dignity

Kids go to school for an education – to learn about the world and better themselves in preparation for adulthood.

But what about when school is more than just a place to learn?

Some pupils in West Side High School, New Jersey, were being bullied because of their appearance; regularly turning up to school in dirty uniform. Other pupils would point them out and humiliate them.

Headteacher Akbar Cook can’t solve the problem of the students’ personal circumstances (in many cases they’re officially homeless, or don’t have access to facilities to keep their clothes clean), but he has helped to create a solution to the results of those circumstances, by converting an unused locker room into a free Laundromat available to all pupils. With a financial grant, and donations of laundry detergent from companies and local individuals, students can wash their belongings either independently, or with the help of an adult on hand to teach them.

The fact that these kids are in such poor situations, or that more fortunate students are bullying them because of it is a whole other post, but the thoughtfulness shown by Mr Cook is to be applauded. Well done that human!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

A visit to Moffat and the Annandale Arms Hotel

Remember in my life update post I mentioned that I’d been to Scotland? The purpose of the trip was a meeting the husband needed to go to in East Kilbride, but he suggested we stay in a little town called Moffat. He’d been there before so was familiar with the area, and he booked us into the Annandale Arms Hotel, right in the middle of the High Street.

We arrived to a very warm and friendly welcome and, even though we were earlier than the allocated check in time, our room was ready so we were able to settle in. The hotel has a comfortably furnished reception area, good size dining room and a small bar.

Annandale Arms reception desk

Annandale Arms hotel reception

Annandale Arms lounge area

Annandale Arms cosy corner

The room was bright and airy with two huge sash windows, and the bathroom had a large powerful shower. It was quite obvious that everything had been recently refurbished, and to a good standard.

So, what’s in Moffat?

Not a lot really – as I mentioned it’s only a small town, but it’s very quaint. Picturesque houses, bunting in the street and some nice independent shops; unfortunately we hadn’t realised that Wednesday appears to be a half day for most of the retailers so we were restricted to browsing through the windows (of the shops, not the houses!)

Moffat quaint house

Moffat side street

Moffat Weavers Tweed Shop

Moffat pub and rooms

I did pick up a couple of good planting tips though. This chair planter would be easy to recreate – I’d paint it a bright pink colour I think.

Moffat chair planter

This quirky record planter made my vinyl purist husband shudder, such a waste of records! It wouldn’t hurt if they were rubbish ones though I don’t think?

Moffat record planter

There are a handful of teashops and quite a few pubs – we had lunch at the Rumblin Tum cafe, and then stopped off at the Black Bull for a drink – again recently refurbished and a lovely place to drink, eat or stay.

The old cemetery in Moffat is home to graves from the 1800s. I find old cemeteries fascinating – the detail on the graves of the family and the ages they died.

Moffat cemetary

Moffat cemetary view

There was a large memorial in the middle of the cemetery.

Memorial in Moffat cemetary

And this plaque outside on the gates.

Moffat cemetary sign

Devils Beef Tub is a 500 ft deep hollow formed by four hills. It’s a popular tourist walk these days, but in the 1800s it was obviously less traversable. John McAdam, mentioned, was the inventor or “macadamisation” – an effective and economical method of building roads which did much to improve travel and communication.

St Andrews church has been in situ for 125 years.

Moffat church

The Star Hotel is the narrowest hotel in the world! It’s in the Guinness Book of Records!

With the onset of rain and a strong breeze (typical that our trip coincided with the end of the heatwave!) we headed back to the Annandale Arms.

We ate dinner and breakfast in the hotel, and both meals were amazing. For dinner I had pate to start, and the husband had haggis moneybags (haggis wrapped in thin pastry). For main we both had venison which was absolutely sublime. Tender, well cooked, just incredible, and served with black pudding mash (yum).

At breakfast we both went for kedgeree, which again was fresh and flavoursome and delicious.

Both dinner and breakfast menus were very comprehensive, with lots of choice. The hotel obviously prides itself on the quality of it’s produce and it shows through.

One last highlight was the duvet, which is the best bed cover I have ever slept under IN MY LIFE and, when we checked out, one of the staff members kindly went back to the room and took a photograph of the label for me so that I can track one down to recreate the Moffat experience here in Birmingham!

It was a short but very sweet trip, and I’d have no hesitation in recommending the town and the hotel to anyone. It would be an ideal stop over when heading further up to the Scottish Highlands, which is something we’ve talked about doing in the future (just add it to the ever growing list of places we want to visit!)

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things on my to do list while I’m “between jobs”

Garden leave is quite a strange animal, because technically I’m being paid to do nothing (thank you previous employer), but I feel a bit like I should be doing something.  That’s not to say I’ve been sleeping in most of the day and then sitting on my ass for the rest of it, but I do feel guilty for whiling away portions of time on mindless stuff, even though I’m entitled to take a break and I’m still earning money and paying my bills.

That said, here are some targets I’ve set myself to complete while I’m off. All attainable; some more serious than others!

1 – Get a job

Although it goes without saying, this has to be number one on my list. I’ve been scouring job listings, set up job alerts to be notified of new roles that are of interest to me, and registered with some agencies. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t have to jump into the first thing that comes along, and I want to find a role that is right for me, right for my CV and right for my future, but I also appreciate that “the perfect job” doesn’t exist and I’ll probably need to make some sacrifices.

2 – Give the blog a makeover

This little old corner of the internet has existed in its current incarnation for almost 3 and a half years, and while I’ve remained (fairly) consistent with writing content, I haven’t paid any attention to it’s appearance. A couple of years ago I went self hosted, but it was right around the time my Dad got very sick, and then he died, and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with the new stuff, so I carried on using free WordPress and just let the other subscription lapse. Now I have lots of time on my hands so a shiny new theme is in order at the very least. Also thinking of upgrading to paid WordPress for more flexibility, analytics, etc so any tips gratefully received!

3 – Watch all of the Harry Potter films

Bit of a light hearted one this! I took my sister to Harry Potter World for her 21st birthday back in March and, up until 4 days before, I hadn’t seen 1 film! So I binge watched the first 3 and off we went.

Making of Harry Potter

The visit was magical (I must do a blog post about it) but obviously there were things I didn’t really understand. I intended to watch the rest of the films straight afterwards, but then summer came and time ran away with me. Now is the time to scratch that itch! (I think I may rewatch the 3rd one too, as I got quite confused). I may even read the books as well.

4 – Finishing unpacking from when we moved house

We’ve lived in our house for 15 months now, and we still haven’t finished unpacking. Before you judge me though (I know I would!) for the first 7 months we were squished into a 2 bedroom apartment that was smaller than our old flat while our building work was completed, and then we were so excited at living in our new space after Christmas that we just put it on the back burner! Now, part of me thinks if stuff has been in storage for 15 months and we haven’t missed it then perhaps we just throw it all away BUT some of the bags are full of my shoes, which means it will be like shopping my own wardrobe, which is technically saving money – very important when you don’t have a job! I actually have a partial tick against this “to do” already, as last week I finally sorted out the big bedroom (which used to be the lounge when it was an apartment) – we’ve been lazy chilled out and sleeping in what will be the guest bedroom up until this point. Now we have oodles of space, a king size bed and 3 windows!

Here’s how it looked before (check out the 90s curtains and brass fittings!)

Old lounge

Old lounge 2

And here’s how it is at this moment in time (yes I have a purple leopard and zebra print duvet cover, what’s it to ya?!)

Current bedroom

There’s still stuff to do, like paint the fireplace, change the carpet, and choose the furniture, but it’s good to finally be in there.

Next on the list is the small bedroom (which will be the husband’s music room for all his CDs and guitars) and the utility room which used to be the kitchen.

5 – Go on holiday

Now this might seem like a very indulgent “to do” for someone who isn’t working but, in my defence, it’s been booked since this time last year. And it’s a “special” holiday – to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We’re flying to Athens for 3 nights and then to Santorini for a week and I’m super excited.

Santorinilead-xlarge

We’ve been talking about going to Santorini since we got together 13 years ago, so it’s been a long time coming, and it was on a travel bucket list post I shared a couple of years back – Athens was on part two of that list where I pondered combining both destinations in one trip. On the basis of ticking them off, I’ll need to replace them and write a new travel bucket list post, right?

What’s on your “to do” list for the next few weeks?

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

 

Friday Feeling [34] – making a (small) difference

Before I had my (unplanned) hiatus from blogging I wrote a post about wearing a bikini (you can read it here).

I think, as women, many of us have insecurities about our bodies and how they look, which are mainly brought on by what we see in the media and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves as a result.

So imagine how chuffed I was when one of my followers – Tamsyn from blog Leather and Glitter – tagged me in her instagram honeymoon photos to tell me she’d worn a bikini on her honeymoon BECAUSE OF MY BLOG POST!!!

Wore a bikini

You can probably imagine how amazing that made me feel. It’s such lovely feedback and I really appreciate Tamsyn letting me know, so I could have all the warm and fuzzies.

If you want to see Tamsyn’s honeymoon photos you can check her out on Instagram here (there are no bikini shots though!) and it’s also worth pointing out that she made her own wedding dress, with her own fair hands, which you can also see on Instagram and read more about on her blog.

Have you ever had blog feedback that’s given you that Friday Feeling?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x