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We saw Usain Bolt’s Last (Good) Race!!

The title pretty much sums it up! I felt so lucky to have tickets to the Saturday morning session when I would get to see Usain Bolt run in the heats of the 4x100m relay in the IAAF World Athletic Championships. It was great too that Great Britain ran in a different heat so I didn’t have to split my feelings, I could cheer for team GB and the Bolt! I have to admit that Usain Bolt is my sporting hero. I’m sure I’m not the only one!


I could not believe it when I saw our seats. We were sat right near to his starting line – what are the odds?! I was able to get some great shots even on our mediocre camera!

It was amazing and he crossed the finish line. I didn’t know at the time that it would be the last race he would finish. Bless him I felt so bad for him to finish his career that way, but he shouldn’t feel bad, he is amazing and we may not even see his world record beaten in our lifetime!


That shot is the last time he will ever cross the finish line. 

Obviously I was thrilled that team GB won! That was shocking, I even cried, how amazing, but it was bitter sweet. 

But I will always be grateful to the powers that be that allowed me the tickets to see my sporting hero. It really was a once in a lifetime moment. A major check off my bucket list!!

1

Chesil Vista Holiday Park in Weymouth

I’m finally writing a mini-review of the holiday park we stayed in during our family holiday in Weymouth, our holiday included fabulous trips to the Sea-life Centre, Durdle Door and Abbotsbury Swannery, it was a week to remember during the one main heat-wave of the summer.

3 year old in caravan

Chesil Vista was a lovely, quiet holiday park on the Continue reading

7

B&W Photography Project #1 – Lake Windemere

lake windemere black and white

This was the first day of our road-trip and we had just arrived in Windemere, in the Lake District, we rushed straight down to look at the famous lake, and boy it is big, though this rather moody shot does not give you any idea as to its grandeur and scale. Hubby took this shot, he is a far superior photographer than me. Cumbria is now checked off the list in our 50 Counties challenge.

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Olney Bedfordshire

Today we took a stroll along Olney high street. Olney is a beautiful Georgian village about 10 minutes outside of Milton Keynes, with charming boutique shops, english tea-shops and cobbled lanes.

flowers and shop front in olney

We stopped for afternoon tea at Teapots of Olney, which has been on my to-do list for a long time. It is a tiny, quaint tea-room that sells all-day breakfast, home-made cakes and tea with real loose-leaf tea. It was devine.

poached eggs and bacon on toastscone and tea

It is also somewhat on the quirky side, as I found when I needed to use the facilities, I found more than I bargained for:

2015-08-29 14.20.14

I so love the idea that after a spot of tea, a customer decides to go for a dip in the tub. My husband mused that perhaps they use it to clean all the teapots? The possibilities are endless, leave a comment below as to why a bath tub is required in a tea shop!

After gorging on the most fabulous plain scones (yes I do not like dried fruit), we walked along the high street in the sunshine, found some pretty quirky shops and look at my stash of goodies:

birthday card and emily gravett book

If you are in the area, love good food and boutique shops Olney is the place to while away an afternoon. I can also recommend the Bull Inn which had one of the tastiest bacon sandwich I have ever had.

That is the county of Bedfordshire checked off the list, where should we go next in the 50 Counties Travel Challenge?

26

How NOT to get a passport for your child

passport and airplane

Getting a British passport is tricky, they really make you jump through hoops, absolute perfection is required, so getting a passport for a young child is as tricky as extricating a warm bottle of milk from a toddler at bed-time.

So to help, learn from my mistakes, this is what you DON’T want to do:

  1. DON’T ignore your mother when she asks you to apply for the passport nice and early (like at least 6 months before the holiday). Yes I know mums are always right!
  2. DON’T naively think that 4 months before the holiday is the perfect time to pick up the forms from the post-office.
  3. DON’T then leave said forms lying around the house for little hands to “accidentally” pour milk all over.
  4. DON’T wait another 3 weeks before you replace the forms.
  5. DON’T stupidly think that photo-booths are meant for young children.
  6. DON’T visit said photo-booth alone meaning that you will spin the seat to the very highest setting, which will not be tall enough to get your 3 year old’s head in the red circle.
  7. DON’T almost break your arms by lifting up your heavy 3 year old with one hand, leaning out of the picture whilst reaching back inside with your other hand to press the damn button.
  8. DON’T be under the illusion that you will have unlimited tries to get the photo extra wrong, you will only be given 5 tries and then you have to pick between a photo of either – nothing… the top of his head… half of his head… a tiny far away head…  a perfect one of him but with your arm in the picture…hmmmm which one will they take longer to reject!
  9. DON’T send the completed form off to the passport office “just to see”  if they might accept it.
  10. When the form comes back rejected, DON’T be suckered in by a photo shop that “guarantees” the photo will be accepted.
  11. When you finally decide to use “check and send” at the post office, because there are only 2 months remaining, DON’T be surprised by the list of 3 stupid reasons that they won’t accept the form, being: there is a slight shadow on his face in his picture (are you joking?!), you need the longer birth certificate (ok fine, I can make my peace with that one), all of the dates on the form need to be the same (really?) or at least close, and they won’t accept a date more than a month old (darn).
  12. Okay I believe we are onto the third form now, my colleague is fed-up having counter-signed the thing a million times, so DON’T be surprised if she never wants to see you ever again.
  13. On the third try of taking photos of my son, decided to go to snappy snaps as they were the ones ‘approved’ by the post office, DON’T be surprised though when snappy snaps say they cannot guarantee the photo will be accepted.
  14. Only 7 weeks until the holiday…leave little man with hubby while I try to find a post-office that is open late on a monday night. DON’T believe the opening times listed on the post office website as you will be driving all over your town until you realise there is NO post office open past 6pm that will do more than sell stamps! (Grrrrr).
  15. Tuesday night, leave work early, arrive just in time, wait 30 minutes in the queue but finally the form is approved and and sent off. Yes, my purse is £55 lighter but still, DON’T be surprised if you fall down to the floor in an exhausted and thankful heap.

1 week later, passport has arrived, yipee! 6 weeks to go…erm did we actually book the flights?…

3 year old holding first passport

Now that you know what NOT to do, hope you can learn from my lessons next time you need a passport for your child!

Mums' Days
18

The Great British Counties Challenge!

My family are challenging ourselves to visit all 48 English counties and 2 in Scotland (for those not so good at Maths that makes 50!), making this the Great British Count-off! We are setting ourselves the target of completion to be 14 months, its crackers because we work full-time but we are going to give it a shot anyway.

great british counties map

I visited little man’s potential school a few weeks ago, and it made me realise that this is our last year with Nate where we have some amount of freedom until he is 16 at least. From next September onwards we will only ever be able to travel during term-times and it will be so expensive that travel will definitely diminish, so we thought, let’s take advantage of this last year and travel round the UK, mostly keeping within England as many trips will be undertaken over a weekend. We are going on a family roadtrip with Continue reading

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7 Things Women need to know about Airshows

spitfires flying duxford airfield

Last weekend I took my boys to the Duxford VE Day Anniversary Airshow because my husband is a huge plane enthusiast (to be clear he isn’t a huge guy enthusiastic about planes, neither is he particularly enthusiastic about huge planes, he just really really loves planes).

Reporter: How do you feel about having a huge gay fan base? Joey: Wow, I don’t even know any huge gay people! (Friends)

My husband had an absolute ball, my 3 year old was entralled, though we had to adjourn to the car for a little while, and I was happy because my boys were happy.

Things you need to know:

1. Bring ear defenders, even for older children

The Jet almost made MY ears bleed, poor little man was scared by the noise because I didn’t bring our good ear defenders (mummy fail!), I purchased a pair there, but they were cheap and didn’t really get the job done. The jet went from screaming at you to just shouting at you – still pretty scary. My air defenders sitting comfortably on the couch at home would have made the jet almost whisper.

toddler at an airshow display3 year old airshow display                                               Red ones – cheap. Blue ones – good.

2. There is a lot of standing around in awe at airshows, so bring something to sit on.

Most people brought picnic chairs (the fold-able, carry-in-a-bag-on-your-shoulder kind). Again we had three of those snoring away in the garage, doing none of us any good. If you have a good back (unlike me) a lot of people simply sat on a picnic blanket.

picnic deck chairs airshow image

3. Be prepared for a lot of numbers and letters to come flying at you:

Husband: Look that’s the 56038-x!!!

Me: erm… is that the pilot’s extension number?

Husband: Don’t be silly it’s clearly last year’s model because this one is the ‘Super-Juicer-Phantom-Crank’!

Me: Ok now you are just shouting appliances at me. (What a good idea though, maybe I should suggest this to the home and garden show organisers as their big finale, flying juicers and exploding toasters, now that would be cool).

AH64-A Apache Helicopter

4. Food is crazy expensive

Just like at airports and theme parks, they know you have no alternatives.

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld “Tuna is very rare here.”

That being said, some airshows actually have very good food vans, with a nice variety on offer that makes it worth a little splurge. At the Sywell airshow a couple of years ago they had some awesome food. Duxford had little choice in food vans, unless they were hidden somewhere, so we paid £20 for two hot dogs, chips and drinks – perfectly reasonable right?! Actually it tasted very nice, and I am not a big fan of picnic food so I was moderately happy. If you wish to save your pennies and/or you have more than one child who eats more than a mouthful of food, then you should bring your own picnic, most people did and there is a lot of green space.

5. Get there early

The actual air display was due to start at 2pm at Duxford, but we arrived around 12, which gave us plenty of time to walk the 7 miles from our car to the venue (yes I am exaggerating – slightly), case the joint, have some food, go aboard some actual Boeing airliners (Nate loved this), check out the souvenirs, go into the Imperial War Museum (IWM) etc. before the show actually started. If you arrive on time you will be walking with your head sky-ward, bumping into people, tripping over dogs for like 2 hours.

2015-05-23 13.06.26airliner boing toddler preschool flying3 year old airliner boing jetpilot cockpit airplane

6. Ticket prices

Yes it costs the same as going to Legoland or Alton Towers for the day. Okay, maybe not quite as much, but yes these shows are around the £30 mark, per person, which as a plane-not-so-much enthusiast I did a big gulp! I was so glad that under 5s were free, phew! If you want to see the planes fly but are not rolling in tenners then you could always park down a country lane outside of the venue and watch from your car – no joking there was a huge line of cars doing that very thing as we left!

7. Bring an in-flight pillow

To stop neck ache. Okay, so I didn’t really do that, but I did consider it, and then I realised, I don’t actually have to look up at the 57th black-phantom-menace-spit-flamer.

In all serious-ness we did have a great day, the hubby was on-air (yep pun) for days and the little man had a great time, he really does love any transport and particularly planes, so he was amazed by the quieter airplanes, the somersaults and the ones that blow spoke out of their a***. Hubby was particularly excited to go aboard the Concorde in the Imperial War Museum (free entry was included as part of the air-show ticket). If you have a plane-crazy husband like me, there are air-shows all over the country all through the year. I found this list of British Air-shows website particularly useful. It’s a good day out for all the family, they have lots of entertainment, bouncy castles, toilet facilities etc.

Have you been to an air-show? Please share some tips with me below.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

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Cats – The Musical – review by a theatre novice!

This is trip 1 from my ’12 Trips Challenge’, which I mentioned about in my resolutions post. So January is officially done, bring on February!

Last week hubby and I went on a trip to see Cats the musical, in London. We are very lucky to work in such a large organisation that they have a club that arranges theatre trips, and manages to get a great group booking rate, as well as arranging travel, so the whole process was really easy. They picked us up from work in a coach – so we got to sit back and listen to audiobooks, tweet and blog while someone else drove us.

We were dropped off on Regents street with enough time for dinner – perfect! So we headed over to Carnaby street – I love shopping here as they have quaint shops, not just the usual highstreet chains, they also have choccywoccydoodah here, which for nostalgia reasons hubby and I stepped inside – well they did make our wedding cake. Look at this amazing (recent) creation:

fairy wedding cake

Our next stop was at Ben’s cookies – now I found this place on Tripadvisor, the reviews were amazing and the picture of the cookie on the page made me salivate so much that I needed a costume change mid-stare. They were every bit as delicious as I had hoped, I particularly enjoyed the more subtle single flavoured cookies – white chocolate, milk chocolate and peanut butter – they were so good I am almost considering walking to London right now to pick some up. It’s only 50 miles. And why did we only buy 7 cookies? I mean, who does that? Cookies of this magnificence were surely meant to be purchased by the dozen!

best cookie in the world

Using the Tripadvisor app, I realised they have a “near you now” section which showed us all the restaurants within walking distance – it was fab, we used that, found a quaint Hawaiian restaurant (Kua Aina) and enjoyed a Guacamole burger and a bacon sandwich:

guacamole burger and bacon sandwhich

Finally it was time to go to the Theatre. I was so excited as I have heard about Cats since I was little, and had always wanted to go, but by the time I was old enough to take myself there (my parents didn’t go to London much and certainly never went to the theatre) Cats had ceased in London, but finally they are back!

When we were seated I could not believe how good our seats were, I didn’t choose the seats, they were allocated, so we just got lucky. We were in the royal circle (the upper bit) but front row centre, so fair enough we could have been front row and centre in the stalls but I really loved the view from up there, check this out:

cats the musical stage

As I have implied in the title, I am a theatre novice, which means I have only been to the theatre a handful of times, but these were the best seats I had ever had.

So I am sure that like normal people you have probably already seen Cats – I am yet to find someone who hasn’t see it, so there is no point me relaying the story (or lack there-of) to you, so I will keep it brief.

I loved the music – particularly the first song “Jellicle Cats” – although the whole time I was thinking, what the hell is a Jellicle cat? Surely that is not a real word? I really loved the Rum Tum Tugger song, mostly because the guy was so mesmerising and because they did it in a hip hop vein, and as a lover of hip hop music and dancing that was a nice and unexpected treat for me. Finally I loved Memory – the famous song – sang by Nicole Sherzinger – who utterly blew my socks off – she was like an opera singer, I could not believe how surprisingly amazing her voice was.

nicole sherzinger as grizabella

I loved the dancing and I loved the talent before me, the characters were amazingly cat-like, all had the most amazing and varied voices and could dance like they were in a ballet – it was very impressive and I was utterly mesmerised. So much so that I wanted to relive the experience but was brutally re-buffed by itunes and amazon. The latest version of the soundtrack, which was released only last year was so sub-par that I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Why don’t they have a recording of the actual show, with the actual actors on the stage? The ones on this soundtrack just do not live up to what I heard, so it is a shame. I guess I will have to go back and see it again…

Did you know that the musical is based on T.S Eliot poetry? I had no idea! Especially T.S Eliot, I was force-fed his poetry during my A-levels and thought it was awful, so I am surprised he wrote something so good. I might even purchase the book of cat poems to read to Nate. I played him a few of the songs and he bopped away to them.

Who has seen it and what do you think?

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