BREATHE

I am on a wind down.
This is my second day of 3 weeks of annual leave which has been planned for well over a year because I wanted the time to be able to watch the Olympics to my hearts content!!
I had the same time booked off last year but the Olympics were cancelled because of COVID.

So after a complete chill out day yesterday, I have spent this morning planning for a little trip away.
It’s our anniversary on the 6th August so we have been planning a trip to London for a few days and this morning I worked on an Itinerary.
I’ve never had a London trip so organised!!
There are still going to be a lot of COVID precautions in place so we thought it was probably prudent to at least have somewhere nice for dinner booked each day.

We will be starting our trip on August 4th by checking into a hotel in Beckton that we’ve stayed in before.
It’s outside the congestion zone, has parking, is right on the DLR into London and is cheap!
This is all good except that with some London Transport strikes due to hit over the next few weeks, with one of them planned for the 5th August, this may not be as convenient for us as it has been in the past. Oh well.

We plan to arrive at the hotel early and check in early if possible before we head into London via the Emirates Airline cable car ride and then the underground to the South Bank to do our usual wander.
We have an outside table booked at The Horniman pub by HMS Belfast at 16:00, so I’m hoping the weather will be good.

Nicholson's Pubs on Twitter: "Wow, look at that view! ☀️ Don't miss out on  booking your spot on the Horniman at Hays terrace which reopened this week:  https://t.co/uKYC8yHSRl https://t.co/Ng96ssWkcm" / Twitter

Thursday 5th will be a little bit of a challenge getting into London if the strike goes ahead but we have planned to take the Big Bus hop on, hop off tour which means we can pretty much get around all the hot spots in London by just hopping on and off one of their busses so we don’t have to worry about the underground and the strike.
We have tickets booked for St Paul’s Cathedral too as neither of us have ever been inside!
Dinner on Thursday will be at The Rooftop, at the Trafalgar Hotel. I managed to secure an outside, rooftop table which overlooks Trafalgar Square.

Friday is going to be another wandering day which will probably take in Carnaby Street and Soho.
We need to make our way over to Covent Garden where dinner will be at The Hawksmoor, Seven Dials.
Steak and cocktails!

Saturday is the day I am probably looking forward to the most.
We will be heading over to Little Venice quite early. Hopefully with enough time for a little wander around before we take a canal boat trip from there into Camden Lock where we plan to meet up with Ian’s cousin and her partner who moved back to the UK from South Africa a couple of years ago. We plan on some shopping at Camden Market and maybe have a pint at The World’s End before heading over to do some shopping on the Bermondsey Mile which is not too far from where Ian’s cousin lives and we will end up at her place for a South African BBQ.

Sunday is our last day and what we do all depends on how knackered we are.
London is always very hard on the feet. Ian has Psoriatic Arthritis and I have joint problems in my knees and hips so we may be unable to actually move by Sunday.
Even so, we have a plan for that day with a possible trip over to Golder’s Hill by Hampstead Heath.
There is a lovely old Pergola that I’ve been wanting to see for a while and there also appears to be a zoo and a butterfly house.

Hampstead Pergola: The Beautiful Place That's Perfect For Every Season

So, that’s the trip sorted, tables booked, tickets purchased, we just need to hope the weather holds out!

We’ve decided to take a trip to MK today when Ian has finished work. We’re having dinner at Miller and Carter and then we’re going to see The Quiet Place II.
I may do a little shop on Saturday to stock up on cold drinks and snacks and then I am going to sit and watch the Olympics.

IT IS NOT FREEDOM DAY!!

So today is the day that all COVID restrictions are lifted here in the UK. Live music and sporting events can go back to full capacity and there will be no limits on guests at weddings and funerals etc.

However, certain areas will be keeping their Facemask rule and social distancing measures. Places like hospitals will continue with no real changes to masks and visiting rules. Some shops will be keeping their mask rules and the public are being asked to keep their masks on public transport and THINK when they are out and about in general.

This is where I’m getting s little worried as I see more and more people who are NOT thinking and posting pics online of themselves and friends ‘getting back to normal’ standing at a bar with no face covering, or symbolically burning face masks and referring to today as FREEDOM DAY.

IT IS NOT FREEDOM DAY!!

COVID is still very much with us and will be for years to come. We have simply got used to living with it and dealing with it.

People need to seriously look at getting vaccinated if they haven’t already done it. The country will soon be divided, not into vaccinated and unvaccinated but vaccinated and infected!

You can still catch and pass on COVID if you have been vaccinated but you are much less likely to get serious or life threatening symptoms.

Vaccinated people should STILL be wearing masks in busy places along with the unvaccinated people.

I have been doing a good job at keeping my mouth shut so far, but I don’t think it’s going to last.

C’mon guys THINK!!!

KICKBALL

If memory serves me well, this is the first time I have ever blogged about football and rugby!

I’m not a huge fan of ball sports.
But that is NOT to say I don’t watch it on occasion.

Watching it from week to week and watching all the different teams try and get to the top of their league does not interest me in the slightest.
Watching 2 teams kick or pass a ball around is, most of the time, excruciatingly boring for me.

However, going to see a game live is a whole different ball game (excuse the pun)
I have only ever been to a couple of big football matches, and they were both at the original Wembley Stadium.
I’ve even seen an American Football match there too.

I have to say that sitting in a stadium that is packed to the rafters with fans cheering and chanting is spine tingling.
The atmosphere is something that cannot be felt through a TV screen. So, consequently I don’t tend to watch football or rugby on the TV.

I do however, get caught up a little bit when my country looks like they may be getting somewhere.
I can remember exactly what I was doing when Johnny Wilkinson kicked a drop-goal in extra time to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

I also get extremely interested when a final is between England and Italy!!

I come from a Town in England called Bedford which is also known as Little Italy because of it’s large Italian community which represents the largest concentration of Italian families in the UK.
This is how the Italians celebrate winning down the embankment here in Bedford.

So, after Italy beat Spain on Tuesday to make it through to the final today, I became a little more intrigued about England’s game on Wednesday with Denmark.
I made it home from work in time to see the second half, and what a nail biting win it was.
This is how England fans celebrate in the High Street here in Bedford.

Thanks to Micah Pates for the video.

Anyway, as you can see from the videos, Bedford gets quite lively when one of these teams win anything and car horns, cheering and celebrations usually go on into the early hours.
I actually live right over the road from a pub and this is what happened on Wednesday evening after England made it through to the final and they all piled out to celebrate.

As you can imagine, there is quite a buzz here in Bedford today.
Whichever way the win goes, Bedford is a winner.
The town centre and Embankment are going to be absolutely mental either way.
I just hope the opposing fans can keep the celebrations civil and we don’t have any trouble caused by a few sore losers.

I’m even getting excited myself.
After Wednesday’s win I asked some friends over to watch the final this evening.
I even printed some England flags because, surprise surprise, they are sold out in all the local shops!!

It just remains to be seen who will win.

COME ON ENGLAND!!

HAD TO HAPPEN I SUPPOSE!!

I’m trying, I really am, but I am just not feeling it for Adam’s new movie Annette.

I’ve said it before, I really don’t like musicals that are a completely sung narrative like Les Miserables.
I like a musical with dialogue that is interspersed with songs like Singin’ in the Rain.

I was very surprised when I originally found out that Adam was doing a musical and I was initially quite excited about it, however, I soon discovered that it was to be a completely sung narrative and my excitement got a bit dashed.

The film was to originally premier at Cannes in 2020 but it got delayed because of COVID, so I have waited over a year now to find out more about it.

It Premiered in Cannes 2 days ago and the reviews coming in are pretty mixed but overall they are good.
Dare I say, there has even been a little bit of Oscar buzz!! Could be the only good thing to come out of this movie.

Adam spent the day doing photo calls and interviews before attending the red carpet premier on the 6th and then immediately flying back to the States where he is currently filming Noah Baumbach’s next movie, White Noise.

For 24 hours we had loads of new photos of Adam and he actually looked really relaxed and happy.
Red Carpets and press are not his thing and he usually looks really out of place and uncomfortable but not this year!

The more I see and hear of the movie and it’s music, the more bizarre it gets.

One review opens up by saying…..

If you think you know musicals, think again. Annette, the first English language film from French auteur Leos Carax with songs from cult rock band Sparks, doesn’t have huge set-piece song and dance sequences, or singalong numbers. What it does have is singing sex scenes, a puppet baby, and an opening sequence in which Adam Driver grabs a straggly wig before riding off on a motorbike. La La Land this most certainly is not.

I’ve seen a few clips now and I’ve attempted some of the music on Spotify and I think I am going to stop now.
I just can’t get enthusiastic about it!!
I will go and see it when it makes it to the UK in September but I’m not holding out much hope for it.
This could be the first of Adam’s movies that I don’t actually like.
It has to happen sometime I suppose but I sincerely hope I am proved wrong!!

BREATHE!!

So! After a really long 8 days consisting of six 12.5 hour shifts, I finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel.
4 days off!!

It got off to a lovely start yesterday with my eldest daughter’s baby shower.

The recent bad weather held off quite nicely and the sun actually came out!!
Murron was looking radiant and I can’t wait until little JJ arrives at the end of August.

It was a lovely afternoon and I finally got to meet some of Jordan’s family.
I’m never going to remember names, but at least I now know the faces!

Today has been pretty chilled so far.
I had intended to get cracking with the front garden but the weather is very overcast and threatening again and doesn’t look to be getting any better over the next couple of days either.
So I am going to catch up on some TV and films.
Unfortunately it won’t be through my Virgin set top box as it appears to be broken. It’s stuck on the start up and won’t go any further. We have an engineer coming out on Wednesday to look at it.

The garden can wait until Friday.
Looks like the weather will be better then and I will enjoy pottering around in the sun.

Back to today, I had a hankering for some chocolate cheesecake so I ordered Deliveroo for some ingredients.
First time I’ve used them and I was very impressed with the speed they delivered. Less than fifteen minutes from order to delivery!!
I’m now going to make the cheesecake and get it into the fridge for later.

A simple few days but very much needed.

WILEY WEDDING

During the loosening of lockdown rules in the Summer last year, my beautiful Daughter Murron, found her soul mate.
By the end of September she had moved out and become a step mum to two beautiful little boys.
She got engaged at Christmas and is currently expecting my first Grand Baby at the end of August this year!

They plan to have a wedding in 2023 but they need some help to fund it.
I am not in a position to fund very much myself so it’s going to be tough.
She has set up a GoFundMe page in the hope that she could raise some funds to help her and her partner have the wedding party to die for.
If you would like to donate, please follow this link.

<a href=”http://<div class=”gfm-embed” data-url=”https://www.gofundme.com/f/winter-wiley-wedding/widget/large/”></div><script defer src=”https://www.gofundme.com/static/js/embed.js”>CLICK HERE

BUSY BEE

It’s been a tough few days.
I work 12.5 hour shifts and so far I’ve worked 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, I’m off today and then 2 more!
So a grand total of 75 hours in 8 days. Mostly on my feet.
The light at the end of the tunnel is 4 days off with my daughter’s Baby Shower on Saturday.

Anyway, it’s also been a miserably wet few days as the UK weather took a bit of a turn for the worse.
However, the sun is shining today so I took my chance to wash my car and then pootle around the back garden tidying up my planters after they took a bit of a bashing in the rain.

While I was doing this I notice a lot more bees than usual and I discovered that they were all coming in and out of a little hidden corner on my patio under the fence between us and the neighbours.

It’s a very sheltered little corner, I’ve actually pulled a pot away to get this video.
I always thought Bumble bees were solitary bees but as I’ve just found out, they are actually very social and can form colonies of 50 to 500 individuals!!
The are very docile and it takes an awful lot for them to sting you. They will actually give you a warning first and even then, you have to be really provoking them. If you just leave them alone, they will just carry on being busy.
I absolutely love listening to them and watching them on a hot day, although I can’t deny I do get a little freaked out when they bump into me!!

Right, I’m going to get a drink (albeit a soft one because I have to pick someone up from work later!!) and go and sit in the garden and watch my new friends for a while.

CATCHUP!

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog, so I thought I’d have a little catchup.

It’s been crazy busy at work. I literally do not stop running around from 7:30 in the morning to 8 in the evening!!
I’ve got 5 of those shifts to do this week. 2 down, 3 to go.
Upside is that I only have 2 of them to do next week.

Anyway, how’s life been otherwise?

Not too bad really. The pub over the road has finally opened it’s doors again! Heaven.
I actually went to the cinema for the first time in year. I went to see Peter Rabbit 2 which was a little disappointing.
The first one was hysterical and I still love watching it, however, the second one lost it’s sparkle a little bit. They were trying too hard for the laughs.

Dharma passed her driving theory test. Great!!
However, they are so back logged with people wanting to take the driving test itself that she may not get a test until next year!!

I went to Coventry last Saturday with Marjorie and Dharma.
Dharma has a really good friend she met online a couple of years ago and they meet up occasionally.
Because of COVID restrictions they haven’t seen each other since December 2019! Bit emotional!
Did some shopping and had some lunch. I wanted to show Marjorie the old Cathedral but it was closed because the University was doing graduations in it. Marjorie was a bit peeved about that because Bedford Uni aren’t doing graduations because of COVID. Her tutors weren’t very happy about that either so they made all the students graduation caps and had a bit of a private celebration with some food and drink and Marji went out for lunch with some of her Uni colleagues.

Dharma finished her first year of University studies last week and Marjorie finished her final year!!
Dissertation handed in and just waiting for the result. Fingers crossed.

It’s Dharma’s birthday next Monday and I’ve promised her that she can drive us to see Murron in Kettering.
Since Murron moved out last September, and because of restrictions, we haven’t seen too much of her recently.
She is blooming though!! Only 89 days to go!

The weather has been beautiful this week. Typical that I’m working most of it!
I’m off today and I plan to have a little tidy up in the back garden before Debbie comes over later today for a drink and some dinner.
My mantra for the day is…. I must remember I’m working tomorrow….. I must remember I’m working tomorrow!!

STUNNING

OK, I’ll be one of the first to admit that when my wayward eldest daughter took a liking to P!nk waaaay back when she was still in single digits age wise, as a very naive parent who hadn’t experienced much during her teens years I was pretty horrified by this brash, confident, tattooed, no nonsense, chameleon haired singer.

However!!!

The more I got to know about her and the more I actually realised I enjoyed her music, the happier I was that my daughter has had such a fantastic role model growing up.

My daughter is confident, strong, loving, doesn’t take any shit from anyone, and is going to be an incredible Mum and as much as I’d like to think that I was responsible for that, I know that seeing P!nk being this incredible force of nature has also played a big part in how my daughter has turned out.

This woman is absolutely amazing.
If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend watching her new docufilm on Amazon Prime, ‘All I know So Far’.
What a hard working but down to earth Mum she is.
Her kids are going to have an incredible life.

Last night at the Billboard awards, where P!nk received the Icon award, she performed on stage with her daughter Willow. They released a record together earlier this year which is amazing called, ‘Cover Me In Sunshine’.
At just 9 years old Willow did some acrobatics with her Mum to that very record and it is pure magic to watch.

I was privileged enough to see P!nk at Wembley in 2019 with my daughter and I can safely say that I hope to be able to see her again in the future.
I will also be watching little Willow grow up with great interest.

TIX

I’ve never been a huge Eurovision Song contest fan.
I know people love the show and rave about it all the time but I have never been able to get excited about it.
The songs are usually cheesy, tacky or downright awful and this year was no exception.

However……

Just out of curiosity I had a quick flick through the finalists on Youtube to see what abominations were on offer again this year and found myself quite surprised by one particular song.
In fact, I absolutely love it and it has made it to one of my Spotify lists!

Fallen Angel by Tix is a beautiful song and in my opinion it is far superior to the winning entry by Italy which was completely tuneless!

The final performance was simple and effective as Tix, who has Tourette Syndrome, battled with his demons live on stage.

So sad that it didn’t manage to do any better with the scores on the night, or even win to be honest.

Anyway, I tuned in to watch the final few votes of the final.
You couldn’t pay me enough to sit through the whole show!!
When Marjorie came in from work she sat and watched it with me and asked me when the UK last won the contest and apart from Bucks Fizz who won when I was just 11 years old and was a mega hit at the time, I couldn’t remember a single UK winner.
However, when I did a bit of research, I found that the UK has actually won the competition 5 times and I knew every single song!
All of them cheesy, and apart from Save Your Kisses for Me which I loved as a 6 year old, I hated every one of them!!

1967 – Puppet on a String by Sandie Shaw

1969 – Boom Bang-a-bang by Lulu

1976 – Save Your Kisses for Me by Brotherhood of Man

1981 – Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz

1997 – Love Shine a Light by Katrina and the Waves

So! Whatever possessed the UK to enter Embers by James Newman?
I can see where they were going with the song and if it had been preformed by someone else it may have done better.
James Newman was a BAD choice.
Listening to some of his , dare I say ‘autotuned’ work on Spotify, this song was totally out of character for him and it showed as he could barely get through the first verse in tune!

Anyway, thankfully it’s all over for another year and hopefully the UK will choose a little more wisely next year, if they even enter the contest at all after getting 0 points this year!!

Nice one Tix!!