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Fifty Shades of Retirement

The work alarm has been turned off for the final time, the uniform is packed and ready to hand back in. Having worked for the same company for nigh on 35 years I am now starting a new chapter in my life, retirement. A chapter that I hope will last as long, as my working life and I am taking the leap to freedom with my husband of 37 years.

This chapter of our lives has been several years in the planning and although it is still a little bit early, we feel we have the timing and finances right for us. We are excited as to what life has in store for us.

People too young to contemplate retirement, think I will be bored and miss the routine of work. I think not. I won’t miss trying to keep up with the ever changing technology or the stress of targets or meeting almost impossible deadlines. I will miss my colleagues, but I will now be able to spend quality time, with the people I love the most and make happy memories.

People who have already crossed onto the retirement road tell me I will be busier than ever and will wonder how I had the time to go to work. Looking at my calendar over the coming months, I think the retirees are correct.

Life is a journey. It has so far been a happy, but at times weary one. Now we can take the journey at our own pace, in our own direction, doing things we want to rather than have to.

Come along on the journey with me and enjoy the ride.

Ullah

Jeff Wayne’s brilliant  musical interpretation of HG Wells’ novel, The War of the Worlds, has been a part of our lives since we were teenagers. It has been regularly played, very loudly, in our house and our girls also love it.

So we were incredibly excited when in November 2017 we saw that the music was being brought to the stage at the O2 Arena. Having secured tickets, we had but a mere thirteen months to wait for the show.

We continued on our wonderful retirement journey, but……….then, there we were, in our seats, lights dimming as the Narrator (Liam Neeson) begins telling the story. Green gas bursting from Mars towards Earth. An astronomer assuring everyone, that despite the gas appearing for several nights, there is no danger as there could not possibly be any life on Mars.

The show is an ingenious mix of film, on a huge screen at the back of the stage, and cast members interacting to tell the tale of huge objects hurtling towards Earth, causing huge craters when they land. As the screen depicts a glowing cylinder, its lid unscrewing, the cast gather around as if approaching the object, and lasers brilliantly act as the heat rays of the emerging Martian’s weapons, incinerating some of the inquisitive crowd.

On stage, with a fantastic orchestra playing the music from the albums, the story cleverly unfolds, being told in song by the wonderful actors and in words, by the projected image of the narrator on a side screen or hologramed on stage, the cast interacting with each other and the images on screen.

The Martians unable to transport themselves on earth build machines with huge spider like legs. From these they capture humans and consume their blood. Red weed, a creeping vegetation brought to Earth from Mars, takes over the stage, the destruction it causes depicted with the use of film, smoke and lights.

All through the story telling, the orchestra continue to play the music from the albums, with Jeff Wayne conducting. Then from the rafters, descends one of the huge machines and the famous ullah cry of the Martians filled the arena, death rays spurting from below.

The audience became immersed in the story as actors ran through part of the auditorium and a bridge reached out from the stage, above the crowd.The sound of the orchestra reverberating through our bodies and the light rays zapping through the air, whilst the narrator continued to relate the story of the Martian invasion.

As the tale reached its conclusion, the Martians and the red weed dying, the actors returned to the stage, their
wonderful voices filling the air and the orchestra playing the final electrifying symphonies, the audience rose to their feet applauding and cheering.

Spectacular, probably one of the best shows I have seen. If you enjoy the albums, you will love the show. Take the opportunity to see it if it arises. You will not be disappointed.

F A B U L O U S

ULLAH……

 

All aboard the retirement bus

We’d just about drawn breath from our few days in Liverpool, when we found ourselves clambering aboard a train. 10 of us setting off on an adventure. The champagne corks soon popping as the wheels clattered against the tracks. Excited for the weekend ahead, we chattered away, entertaining the other travellers, as the countryside slipped by turning into the built up suburbs of the wonderful City of London.

We were celebrating another member of the gang, hanging up his working boots and joining the Retirement Bus 🥳

First stop after dropping bags at the hotel, was naturally one of the numerous hostelries.

We were enticed by a gin and tonic as the lager didn’t look too appealing.

There was time to take in some of the sights, before catching up again early evening for our surprise treat.

Standing opposite the quirky, Sherlock Holmes pub on a chilly December evening, we waited for our transport to arrive. Then out of the darkness it drew towards us, the haunting, black, double decker route master bus, offering us spooky destinations. Piling aboard, the inside decked out in vintage style, with antique style lamp shades and thick curtains, we were heading off on a ghostly tour of the city. The narrator was very amusing, telling a story of the bus having a previous life as a funeral bus and feigning being scared by its hauntings. As we wound our way through the traffic, he also told the historic stories of the buildings and monuments of London’s gruesome past.  On route his colleague unexpectedly leapt aboard. Acting as an inspector, he made his way around the bus, scaring a group of youngsters on the top deck with his antics, finding blood and spooky goings on at the top of the stairs!  A fun packed, and informative hour and a half.

On our second day, we spent the morning going our separate ways, us at the British Museum, whilst waiting for four more revellers to arrive. Once we were all present and correct, next stop was the theatre 🎭 for a musical afternoon at Motown the MusicalThe fabulous show tells the roller coaster story of the beginning of Motown records. How stars like the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, found fame through Motown. So many memorable hits sung throughout the show, transporting us back to our teenage years. (Almost need a time machine for that). With the sound of “Ain’t no mountain high enough “ and “Tears of a clown” ringing in our ears, we found ourselves, all too soon, outside “Dancing in the street” and back to the hotel to relax before a fantastic evening in China Town. In what appeared to be the most popular restaurant for the Chinese, we were well looked after with the delicious food plentiful and the wine flowing freely. It had been the perfect end to a great day celebrating retirement.

And the weekend just kept giving. A little later start on Sunday 🤕, we checked out of our rooms, leaving our bags under the care of the concierge. A marvellous breakfast, brought us all back to life before we took a walk along Oxford Street, to Hyde Park and the amazing Winter Wonderland. Full of fairground rides, food halls, craft stalls and beer tents. The smells, sights and sounds, playing with the senses. The air was filled with laughter and the screams of the “brave” trying out the rides. One of the refreshment tents had a roaring log fire at its centre, warming revellers coming in from the cold. As the sun set and we wended our way to collect our bags for our journey home, at Winter Wonderland the evening crowds were just arriving. The lights shone brighter and the music grew louder, and you could hear the excitement growing. Magical.🎡🎢🎠

It was a weary group that climbed aboard the train home. Several dozed as we whizzed our way out of the city and through the countryside, lost in their memories of the weekend.

Another busy few days, filled with fun, laughter and friends. Thank you Gaz, for sharing your retirement celebrations with us. . . . . .

Welcome aboard the Retirement Bus, enjoy the journey

 

The Albert Dock

Always fans of a city break, we were more than happy to accept an invitation from the besties to join them for a few days in Liverpool.

Knowing nothing of the city, apart from its the home of the famous Cavern Club and it was the European City of Culture in 2008, we were excited to see what Liverpool had to offer.

After a long drive north, we found our hotel, in a great location, on the edge of the city, and close to the docks. High up in our rooms we had a great view out over the Albert docks, where we could watch the sun go down and the sparkling lights start twinkling against the dark night sky, making the place come to life.

A couple of G&T’s sitting looking out on the view & we were ready to start exploring. The docks have been brought back to life and are now full of bars and restaurants buzzing by night. We entered a bar with a sign on the door offering 2 for 1 cocktails until 7pm. As it was 7.05pm we were a tad late. We asked the men to check with the barman to see if we could squeeze one in. They felt it was too cheeky so we continued on the gin. There were a couple of groups of girls still drinking cocktails. We didn’t think anything of it, until we headed off to find some dinner and saw a sign on the window saying the 2 for 1 cocktails was extended to 11pm during November 🤪 . If only they’d asked!  🍸🍹

Next morning we took a trip on the hop on hop off bus. Very touristy, but the narrator was excellent, gave us a lot of information and with a great deal of humour. The tour gave us our bearings, showed us how compact the city is and gave an insight to what we might want to visit. Staying aboard to go back round a quarter of the way, we alighted at the library. An incredibly modern structure built within the old building, the huge spiral staircase rising around the centre taking your eyes up to the magnificent window in the roof. Amazing idea. Next door the museum was the same, the exterior of the old building retained but inside very modern. We ambled through the museums several storeys, taking in the exhibits before finding ourselves on the top floor looking out onto the beautiful city.

We wandered back out onto the chilly streets, up through the Christmas Market (not quite on a par with Birmingham), stopping at a hostelry for refreshments, then headed to the radio city tower for more spectacular views high above the city.

Our tour continued to St George’s Hall. Originally the city’s infirmary,it was transformed in the 1840s & 50s to accommodate a concert hall and the law courts. Unfortunately as some of the building was off limits to visitors that day our tour was short lived, so there was nothing left to do but head for the Cavern Club.

There are three areas to the Cavern, the pub across the road, the Club where the Beatles and Cilla played and the Lounge at the back of the stage which opens for live, ticketed events. The Club, open daily from mid afternoon to late, is fabulous. Smaller than I imagined, with brick walls and low vaulted ceilings, it is engulfed with memorabilia from photos of musicians that have played there, to signed guitars in large glass cases. Live music is played from the small stage, including renditions of Beatles songs. With a small bar at one end and the stage at the other, it still has a fabulous atmosphere and we spent several hours, surrounded by chattering, laughing people, absorbing the music and the memories.

Day two was a bit wet and blustery, so we started our day of culture with a visit to the original docks of Liverpool, now hidden under the city’s modern shopping centre. Our guide was very knowledgeable and extremely passionate about his city’s history. It is only a small area that is now available to visit but we spent an interesting hour with him learning about how the docks came to be, their demise and how they were rediscovered and partially excavated.

The day continued with visits to the Merseyside Maritime Museum, with tales and exhibits from the years of slavery, of which Liverpool played a huge part in the transportation of slaves. Another floor is devoted to information and displays about the Titanic and the Lusitania. Then on to the Museum of Liverpool, telling the story of Liverpool through collections of costume and art. We emerged into the drizzle of a November afternoon for a quick dash to the pub and a pint, before a change at the hotel and on to China Town for dinner.

Our final full day was again chilly, but dry, so wrapping up we headed for the Pier Head, for a ferry across the Mersey 🎶 ………… it had to be done. We had a better view of some of the iconic buildings, such as the Liver Building with its magnificent “Liver Birds” looking down protecting the city, the two beautiful cathedrals and the docks.

We alighted across in Birkenhead, where there is an exhibition, housing a German U Boat sunk at the end of WW11. It has been cut into sections to enable visitors to see how life aboard might have been. There are artefacts retrieved when the U Boat was recovered from the sea bed and footage from days aboard the vessel. Very moving and humbling.

We headed back across the Mersey, serenaded by Gerry and the Pacemakers, and headed to the cathedrals. Wow, the modern Roman Catholic cathedral circular and lit by enormous stain glass windows. Back out into the rain covered streets, where around every corner there’s statues and art celebrating Liverpool’s history. Then on to the gargantuan Anglican Cathedral, where one of the guides hailed from our home town. It too is filled with beautiful stained glass windows and is very active within the community. There were classes being held, guided tours, exhibits and local school children rehearsing their nativity play. Sadly we were under time constraints and had only a short time to look around, before heading for a well earned afternoon tea and a rest.

Suitably filled, there was time for a bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel to freshen up ready to enjoy our final evening in this lovely city. The streets and dock area were certainly ready for Christmas,
with wonderful light dispays and glorious trees. The lights around the docks reflecting magnificently in the water.

The lambananas, dotted around the city during the City of Culture year, still standing tall and proud, the focus of many a tourist photo.

We had such an interesting , fun filled time in Liverpool. The buildings and history are amazing, the people very friendly. Everywhere is within easy reach and well maintained. It seems the City had an incredible transformation ready for its time as the European City of Culture in 2008, but has managed to preserve its historic buildings and heritage. History and modernity existing easily alongside and within each other.

An amazing four days, we crammed so much in, but there’s so much more to do and see. I have no doubt the Fab Four will return………….. Thank you B&K for inviting us along.

 

 

2019

Well that was 2018. It’s been a very eventful one, lots of music and dancing. Some lovely, new experiences. Lots of fun and laughter, both with family and with friends.

We’ve done a bit of travelling within the Uk & overseas. Kenneth entered our lives at Easter and has taken us on a few trips away, by ourselves and with some of the grandkids. Poor thing has also been used to transport equipment for work in our garden and in a friend’s.

Two beautiful baby boys have also joined the family this year. Although we love them all, we are hoping everyone is now content with their little families, at least for a few years. We only just managed to seat everyone for dinner on Boxing Day, anymore & we’d have to hire a hall 😂

A couple of the older grandkids have found new jobs and are looking forward to their new challenges in 2019. One has moved into her new home with her little family after some time lodging with her Mum. Her brother and his little family have outgrown their house but have hopefully found a new one to move to, in the first couple of months of the year. It’s great to see everyone settling.

The eldest Grandson living within our household has just joined the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and is studying for his GCSEs. The twins are doing incredibly well at school and constantly reading and writing for us at home. If only they’d stop fighting with each other! They have two of everything, but every activity is a competition. I suppose that’s normal for twins.

That just leaves our Li Li (although he dislikes being called that). Life is still a challenge for him, but during the summer, he mastered riding his bike. He now enjoys flying along the prom leaving his twin brothers in his wake. Our fight with the education system continues and we have another meeting with the schools SENCO teacher during January, so I will give an update on his progress in the next couple of months.

All in all 2018 was a good year. We’ve kept in touch with friends and family, maybe not as much as we should, but we have found the busy schedule of retirement has made life a juggling act to fit everyone and everything in 😂. 2019 already looks like being another exciting year and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Whether 2018 has been everything you hoped for, or a bit of a let down, keep smiling, we have safely reached its conclusion and can now look forward to a more exciting 2019.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE 🥳

🎄 ‘‘Tis the season to be jolly 🎄


I am a little late with my post this week. We have been a little busy throughout late November and December. But if I’m totally honest I have been struggling to write something positive about the Christmas period.

I have never been a lover of the festive season.  I am ridiculed by my family for not feeling the love and have been the butt of their jokes, as my tree only went up on the 20th. I was always the object of fun at work too and one of my managers used to change the ringtone on her phone to Christmas tunes in October too.

I just find the whole build up so stressful. I was hoping I would find it more enjoyable once I no longer had to organise Christmas around work, and could spend more time with the little ones, but sadly as yet it’s not the case.

We are not a religious family but are pleased the children can experience the story of the nativity, and enjoy singing carols at school. They can come to their own conclusions as they grow older. However the school limits each family to only two tickets for the nativity, and the carol service is now performed on the playground, come rain or shine, for 20 minutes before the end of the school day. When my children were at school carol services were held at the local church and the evening performances could be enjoyed by the whole extended family. Sadly these days are gone.

The spirit of Christmas has been “stolen” by commercialism. Retail outlets start the festive onslaught in October, when decorations and cards start appearing! Our senses are bombarded by adverts, enticing us to overspend at Christmas, in newspapers, stores, on billboards and television. It’s all far too early, there’s still Oktoberfest, Halloween, Guy Fawkes and birthdays to enjoy before Christmas descends.

With every new year, our immediate family grows in number, (currently a mere 21) either through new partners or new babies, so the number of gifts increases and the more time I have to spend trawling shops and the internet to try to find the right present. Then there’s all the wrapping and tagging and the worry whether I’ve chosen correctly for everyone. After which comes the dreaded credit card bill 😬.

I usually have endless lists of food to purchase, from the turkey, sprouts and stuffing, through to the baking potatoes and pickles for Boxing Day. The mountains of nibbles, sweet treats and cheeses fill the cupboards, fridge and freezer, usually for weeks after too.

However this is the first year for at least three decades that I will not be cooking on Christmas Day. Our eldest daughters’ family now have homes and families of their own and will be spending Christmas Day with each other, and our daughter with her best friend. We are being treated to dinner out. From 1pm we can enjoy being looked after for a few hours. Our poor Granddaughter though,will have to leave us for work straight after dinner. Once finished, we will have just a short stroll (or roll) home, and are hoping for a relaxing evening, feet up in front of the fire. 

The remaining 12 members of our brood will descend on Boxing Day, for more food, wine and exchanging of gifts. Fortunately we have the space to accommodate everyone and I am sure there will be a variety of activities going on in different rooms. Films playing for those who want to relax, games in another room & probably the usual Christmas tunes blaring out in the conservatory. Hopefully everyone will get along for the day. 😂💕.

Either side of all this, our youngest daughter and son-in-law will be entertaining his side of the family. It is a little smaller than our gang but our cupboards, fridge and freezer are bursting at the seams.

Having, finally, put the tree up, and wrapped the mound of gifts, we started the countdown to the big day with the youngest boys, and Granddad delivering cards to the neighbours in our little close, followed by breakfast at our local garden centre, and a visit from Santa 🎅.

Our son-in-law finished work for the festivities on Friday, so has been on hand to help keep the boys entertained over the weekend. Their excitement has been building to a crescendo and I hope that their visit to the panto this evening will tire them enough so they sleep well tonight.

My hubby & I will be visiting the local pub for a Festive tipple and to listen to Christmas songs performed by a couple of our friends around the roaring fire.

I may be a “bah humbug” during the stressful build up to Christmas, but once the foods sorted, I’m bought up, wrapped up, and the trees up, I can relax and enjoy the festivities with family and friends.  🥳

So I hope you all have a Merry Christmas 🎄 surrounded by your family and friends and look forward to a very Happy New Year.

CHEERS 🥂

                                            

 

 

Les Mis

So the day had arrived, our friend had persuaded us to join him to go to the theatre to watch his favourite musical, Les Miserable. It had not been on our to do list, but he is so passionate about the show, that we decided to join him.

We boarded the train for the hour and a half journey up to the big smoke, collecting more friends, waiting at another station along the way.

All aboard, we cracked open a couple of bottles of wine to help pass the journey. Chattering, catching up with each other and discussing the show. Our friend giving us a brief synopsis of the story, which would prove to be invaluable.

Arriving in London, we decamped, got rid of the evidence of our early drinking habit 😬 and strolled the five minutes to find the theatre.  Obligatory selfies taken, we carried on through China Town in search of some lunch.

Along the way, spotting a branch of my old employer suitably helping the local community.

 

A fabulous fish finger sandwich later we were heading back towards the theatre to get ready for the show.

Perfect central seats with a great view of the stage. We had barely got settled, when the lights dimmed exactly on time and from the first note the actors voices boomed out into the auditorium. So strong, so engaging, enveloping you and bringing you into the action on the stage. So many recognisable songs, that I hadn’t realised were from the show.

The sets were remarkable and were moved and changed, almost without you noticing. Set around the time of the French Revolution, the story depicting a convicts despair after nineteen years in prison, his hopes for the future, of trust, love, honour and devotion and the relentless persecution of one of his previous guards, unfolded before us. The script being told only through song, the wonderful voices of the actors resounding around the theatre.

I can understand why, if you love the music, that you would return to watch the show. I was glad that I had been given an overview of the story, as otherwise, I may have found it difficult to follow. Perhaps I should have taken heed and watched the film first. However, I will be interested to watch the television dramatisation being shown in the New Year, as the story will be told without song.

Another wonderful day, spending time with good friends, enjoying more of what our beautiful capital city has to offer, together with our first glimpse of London’s fabulous Christmas lights sparkling down on us from high above the busy streets.

Feeling blessed, the journey continues ……………………..

 

 

Lest we forget

This year we have commemorated the centenary of the end of the First World War. The telly has been inundated with some very emotional documentaries telling the stories of the men involved at the front, together with the stories of men and women left with their own battles at home.

There have also been tributes, around the whole country, to those who sadly did not return.

The candle installation at the Tower of London was so inspirational. The images transported into our living room made your heart skip a beat, and I wish I could have experienced it in person.  I’m sure it would have been as moving as the poppy installation, four years ago, to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War. The sight of those poppies, so beautiful, took your breath away. The crowds passing by, in almost silent respect of those who gave their lives to secure freedom for our future.

These and the thousands of smaller installations, in towns and villages all around Britain, makes me so proud to be British.

But then I spot something like this…………………………………..

I don’t know why this infuriates me quite so much, but it does. You are possibly wondering why the Union Flag would cause such angst. If I show you this picture, maybe you will understand ……………… It is instantly obvious to most that this flag is being flown upside down. I find it so sad that as a nation, so proud to be British, working so hard to regain our sovereignty through Brexit, a huge number of the population can’t tell when our flag is being displayed the wrong way up.

We are a diverse, welcoming nation, and I’m sure it will offend someone somewhere, when I say our kids should be taught, the significance of the three flags integrated into one, showing our union, and how to fly our flag the correct way.

The flag denotes the uniqueness of the Union of the United Kingdom. It is part of our heritage and as such should be treated with respect.

The Union Flag, as it is known on dry land, should have the wider part of the white cross at the top of the left hand corner of the flag nearest the flagpole.

The Union Jack is flown from the “jack” mast of ships, and flying it the wrong way up, is a signal that the ship is in distress. Obviously in these days of technology we don’t really need to use this any more. However, flying the Union Flag upside down is seen as an insult to the Crown, and theoretically still a criminal offence in the UK and the Commonwealth.

So those of you who know me, think I am a bit obsessed and mock me……BEWARE!

If for no other reason, our flag should be flown correctly, to respect those who have proudly carried it into battle, and given their lives to secure our futures.

In rememberance of our War Heroes, Steve took a day trip to Ypres and the Menin Gate. So many people, all there showing their deep respect and gratitude to the fallen. Such a special place to pay tribute, as the town continues to play the last post every evening to honour those lost.

I watched the service at the Cenotaph via the wonderful medium of television. It was a beautiful service, and inviting German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to lay a wreath alongside our own Prime Minister, for the first time ever, was a wonderful gesture. I was moved to tears and ended up trying to explain to a five year old the huge significance of the day.

I then saw Danny Boyle’s pages of the sea. Oh wow what an imagination. The sand pictures, dipicting the faces of people lost during the First World War, were an inspirational way to remember these men and women. Then later in the day,
watching them disappear as the tide reclaimed the beaches, gave a sense of how the bereaved must have felt, the images of their loved ones faces slowly being immersed into memory.

From the large installations to the tributes in villages around the country,where people have been knitting and crocheting poppies, all with their different stories. The “there but not there” statues. We have certainly honoured our War Heroes, from those who fought in the First World War, to those fighting in conflict in more recent years.

We thank you all and we will never forget.

Kids, halloween, pumpkins and gunpowder

It’s amazing how much fun you can have with kids on a shoestring. They are happy just running around or wallowing in mud and their happiness is infectious.

We took some of the Grandkids down to Bexhill beach to the rock pools. Unfortunately either the tidal website wasn’t quite accurate, or I’d misread it and only a few of the rocks could be seen when we arrived. We trudged the boys up to the top of Galley Hill to the playpark to pass some time, whilst waiting for the tide to ebb away, revealing its secrets.  They had fun, climbing, swinging, bobbing up and down on the see saw, sliding, twirling on the roundabout and chasing each other around. Thank goodness the park is enclosed by a small fence, so they were safely contained.

Eventually from the top we could see the rocks slowly emerging, so we rounded up the boys, who rolled their way giggling to the bottom of the hill and headed to the car to don wellies for the next adventure.

Crunching across the pebble beach till we reached the sand, buckets and spades at the ready, excited faces grinning from ear to ear. Slipping on the seaweed covered rocks, peering into the pools searching for crabs and tiny fish. Stepping in too deep so the water spilled over the top of their boots. Digging in the sand and filling their buckets, which was too wet to make sandcastles and so sticky it wouldn’t come back out!

Tired & grubby we piled them into the car & headed home for tea and a bath.

The week continued with Halloween 🎃 preparations 👻. The decorations extracted from the loft and the house transformed into a witches covern. Spiders and bats hanging from the ceiling. Ghosts and ghouls at the windows and on the wall. Pumpkins decorated and the little ones excitedly dressing up.

The big day arrived, Halloween buckets in hands, costumes donned the kids set off trick or treating.

We are a peculiar breed, telling our kids to beware of strangers, yet this one night of the year we encourage them to knock on people’s doors, begging for sweets!! And they came home with bucket loads, spending the rest of the evening bouncing off the walls 😂

We decided not to be outdone by the kids and attended an am dram performance of the Addams Family. The website encouraging the audience to dress up too. We dutifully obliged, strolled into the bar to find we were the only participants 😂.

Hey ho we had a fabulous time and once again BLODS gave a great performance.

Rounding off a busy week with all our own family, my sister and her family & the besties and some of their family gathering for a bonfire party, clubbing together to buy the fireworks. The twins had been learning about Guy Fawkes, his mate Thomas Percy and the gunpowder plot at school. We therefore had to make two bonfire effigies this year. One obviously Guy and the other Thomas. Not sure in the end which one was which! My sisters Grandson, in the same class, also made a Thomas. We then followed another peculiar ritual, teaching the boys that these naughty men obviously had to receive consequences for their bad behaviour. So no naughty corner for them, we sat them on top of our pyre & set fire to them!!! The guys that is not the boys 😂😂

After a feast of various soups made by several of our guests, hot dogs, toffee and plenty of puddings we ventured back into the garden to scare the living daylights out of the younger kids with the whizzing and bangs of our firework display.

Fortunately we had a few pairs of ear deafenders for the little ones and they could watch with me from the safety of the conservatory so they all enjoyed it really.

Despite being 43 of us, everyone got along, were fed, watered and had a great time.

Its the simple things in life, spent with people you love, that are the best and create such lovely memories.

Looking forward to making many more 💕

Charity begins at home

The saying “charity begins at home” usually refers to looking after your family and friends, when in need, before looking after others. Whilst, of course, we do that, we also try to support charities that help others in their hour of need.

Our efforts mainly support Macmillan Cancer Support, and it was to raise funds for this charity that we opened our home for a coffee morning early in October.

A friend, who volunteers at the local hospices’ charity shop, had kindly been on the look out for some small teapots and gathered together a beautiful quirky little collection for me to purchase.

The day before the event had been spent baking, tidying, sorting space and chairs for our guests, putting up banners and balloons and reminding people to pop by for tea, cake and a chat.

Kids dropped at school, tables laid and kettle on, we opened our door to welcome our guests. There was a steady flow of family and friends and the kettle kept boiling, and my new little pots kept being filled. Several of my ex colleagues joined the party. Some hadn’t seen each other for several years and had a great time catching up, and reminiscing.

Long standing friends came along, joining the happy throng and the cakes were devoured. Our dining room and conservatory were filled with chatter and laughter. And the kettle kept boiling with those little pots being refilled. The weather was dry and those with little children were able to enjoy the garden too.

We held a raffle to boost the coffers. My lovely hairdresser Kate (Hair Fairy) gave me some vouchers as prizes. My daughters friend, who runs Caroline’s Canine Cabin a dog grooming business also donated a voucher. There were donation boxes on the table, so everyone could donate according to their own budget.

The fun and banter continued from 10am till the final guests left at 2pm. The raffle had been drawn and the result of the guess the length of the apple strudel competition had been announced. With the kettle having one final boil, we took a pot of tea ourselves, whilst counting the pennies our kind friends and family had donated.

The grand total of £238 exceeded our expectations. Although in the scheme of things it is a drop in the vast ocean of funds the charity needs, we were very pleased with the result and we and our guests had a fabulous day.

Thank you to everyone who came, to Elaine who sourced the tea pots, to Kate and Caz for the voucher donations and to those who were unable to attend but still donated.

We look forward to extracting more pennies from you at the next outing of the tea pots 😂

 

Be Prepared

I was having a lazy morning, of which there are quite a few these days 😁. A cup of tea in my hand, my feet up on the coffee table, for which my Dad would have slapped my legs, vaguely watching the “gogglebox”.

Angela Rippon popping up on the screen, caught my attention as she started talking about travel insurance. Our annual policy was about to expire, so I thought it might be prudent to listen a little more intently.

The article was discussing pre existing medical conditions. Initially I thought it wasn’t relevant to me. As we have both declared our conditions, mine although almost 20 years ago, is excluded from any cover and Steve’s being a long term condition, requires an annual screening, is covered but incurs an additional premium. But she related the story of a Brit, who whilst on holiday in Cape Verde, was diagnosed with a kidney tumour, and needed to be airlifted to Tenerife for an operation spending a month in hospital. She had purchased travel insurance and as far as she was concerned had no pre existing medical conditions. However when the insurance company requested her medical records, it seemed she had been prescribed sleeping tablets for a bout of insomnia. She had failed to declare this, as she assumed it wasn’t relevant. Her claim was assessed and whilst she was still in hospital she was advised that she would only be reimbursed with a third of the total claim. The Guardian also subsequently ran her story, which makes interesting reading, and her plight of being left with a £30,000 bill.

It made me wonder just how much you need to declare when purchasing a policy. In the past couple of years I have had a vitamin D deficiency for which I was prescribed medication and a couple of bouts of sciatica, for which I was prescribed cocodamil.

When our policy came up for renewal, we thought it wise to declare these doctors visits. The vitamin D issue didn’t appear relevant, but as calls are recorded at least it’s on record, however the sciatica was duly noted on the policy and caused a slight increase in premium. Like the poor lady with the kidney tumour, it would never have occurred to me to mention these minor ailments, but it seems that in the event of a claim everything is relevant.

Although I was aware, the article continued to discuss how any treatments, or accidents as a result of alcohol intoxication would not be covered as it is deemed as negligence on the part of the policy holder. It makes you wonder whether holiday companies aimed at younger travellers, should offer their own insurance policies as some openly encourage drinking to excess 😂

Single trip policies insure customers from the date of purchase, covering just one trip. New annual policies, covering multiple trips during a twelve month period, require a nominated start date. A misconception of some travellers purchasing annual policies is, it is better value for money to nominate the date of their first trip. However, this often means they don’t have the benefit of cancellation cover, and should something occur prior to the first trip which means they need to cancel, they would not be eligible for any refunds.

All of this led me to do a little bit of research. It is such a minefield. Different insurers seem to require different information and then there’s travel insurance included with some bank accounts. Should you call your insurer or bank if you are subsequently diagnosed with a condition requiring medication, should you declare ALL trips to your GP and are you covered for winter sports or a cruise, both of which usually require additional cover.

The answer to these questions is, it’s probably best to give them a call. A recent article by Martin Lewis is very comprehensive, and suggests it’s better to contact and be safe, rather than sorry.

So our annual travel insurance premium has gone up, but we are insured against incidents on our upcoming cruise and as I can now pass through the green nothing else to declare channel, am confident I’m properly insured against all unforeseen circumstances. We just need to make sure we don’t over indulge during the all inclusive cruise 🚢 🥂 I’m sure falling overboard as the result of intoxication would negate any claim!

Happy travels everyone, be safe and be protected.