"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Center parcs...

The morning of our hols dawned.
Excitement levels were high in some quarters but unfortunately, for some reason, tolerance and patience were in short supply all round :-(
The journey was not a long one but we had shopping to do and stopped off to do that.Milly was so excited about going swimming and going down the slides, that her whole focus was on getting to Centerparcs and she had zero reserves for anything else.I won't go into details -things were said that would have been best left unsaid - we all have times like it -  it wasn't the start to the holidays we would have wished for though... 

First impressions of Whinfell were not favourable.
We decided to take advantage of the facilities and arrived earlier than the 3.30 check in time.It seemed everybody else had decided to do the same... This in itself was not a problem, the que seemed to be moving quickly enough.We were sat in line and Alan was doing his usual thing of deciding whether to risk swapping lanes and hopefully get through quicker.I reminded him that we were in no real hurry and that the cars in front were moving so let's just stay where we were... then a member of staff come over and took the decision from us by motioning us to another booth.We then moved quickly enough and got to the front, with one car in the booth doing the check in routine.

Around half an hour later - it became obvious that the car in front had broken down and had to be pushed out the other end of the booth .Knowing what the hold up was would not have got us seen any sooner but it would have made the wait easier if we had known the reason - it would not have taken a moment for a member of staff to let us know.

It took less than five minutes for us to pass through as I had registered online before setting off...
Eventually into the car park and by the time we parked up it was less than an hour until the time we could get into the lodge.We thought it would make sense to wait to get into the lodge and then go to the pool rather than getting out of the pool to go and get the car during the time the gates were open.Sounded like a good plan - however at 3.30 everybody else was keen to get to the lodges as well!!!

After another very long wait to get out of the car park we made it to our lodge.The lodges looked quite run down and the area surrounding them had a neglected air.After a cursory exploration we threw the luggage in and took the car back to the park before we headed - at last - to the pool.Alan had had a quick check round the kitchen and noticed there was only one breakfast bowl in the cupboard and mentioned it to the customer services desk before we went to get changed.

All of us had got on each others nerves and were not in the best of spirits but it didn't take long before the pool - especially the slides - melted the bad vibes:-)

I got out earlier to head home and warm up the pasta and meatballs I had made at home and after tea we got ourselves settled in.Milly was so excited about having an en suite in her room she had it as her face book status:-)

The lodge was billed as an executive lodge and I have to admit to a feeling of disappointment on entering.It was clean and there was a lot of space but it was stretching things to call it Executive! Maybe back in the 80's - when it last appeared to have been decorated - it was the height of Executiveness:-)

Then things began to turn around.A man arrived with the bowls that were missing.He was apologetic and very pleasant.Excellent prompt customer service.

Another plus point were the bed and bedding very comfortable and good quality,and nice fluffy white towels.

After a slow start the next day we went on to spend six hours in the pool -Milly spent most of that time doing a circuit of the slides and the long walk and climb back to them once she had gone down them:-)I was persuaded ( against my better judgement) to go down the slide that went out doors...
I panicked at how fast I went down and the slightest turn sent me sideways,I banged my head off the side at one point, ricocheted to the other side and ended up thrown off the bottom in a big heap underwater and coming up gasping for air conscious of the people standing on the bridge watching the show!

I can laugh now but I was mortified - and more than a little sore:-))

As I was making the tea that night I opened the fridge door, the plastic strap that holds the bottle in the door broke off and a bottle of wine fell out and smashed with wine spilling out all over the kitchen floor.Tea was put on hold whilst I cleaned it all up ( Milly and Alan had stayed in the pool a little longer ) and mopped the floor and tried to clean the carpet.

I informed customer services the next morning and they were pleasant and assured me someone would be sent to sort it.When we got in late that night the fridge was fixed and there was a bottle of very nice red wine and a box of Belgian chocolates on the table :-)

Thursday we had hit our stride and found a nice area to sit with comfy seats.We took a bag with books and snacks and my purse.One of us would get comfy and read whilst the other did the rounds of the various pools and slides with Emily - she did make a few friends on the slides ( by this time I had eventually had a go on a very short, straight slide and that was the one she would go on with me)  at those times she would ask if we wanted to go and sit down :-)
Emily wanted to eat instead of going home for tea that night so Alan went to order her meal at the burger bar and a portion of chips for himself -  just to keep him going :-)
He was gone some time and eventually arrived with a big smile on his face.Because he had had to wait for the food they offered him a burger as well to compensate!

On the Thursday morning - my birthday - I was made a full English breakfast and opened my cards and a voucher from my family for a Spa Day :-)

As we were getting ready to go to the pool the housekeeping ladies arrived and on seeing the cards they said they would be able to bring a bottle of wine and some chocs round for me later on! And true to their word there was a bottle and some chocs waiting for us when we got in :-))

 The first impressions were not great but at the end my memories are of clean, adeqate - if somewhat dated - accomodation, helpful and professional staff with wonderful customer service and a clean, well run pool area.Can't comment on any of the many activities on offer as Milly had not wanted to book any (we decided we would save the money to put towards our London trip) and the restaurants were out of our price range on this trip so will have to try them next time we go.Apparently the new style lodges are much better appointed ;-))

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Celebrations,dissapointments and surprises to come!

Just back home after spending a lovely afternoon celebrating my Mum and Dad's Golden wedding anniversary.It was in effect a triple celebration with both my Dad and I also celebrating our Birthday this month.

We left the Hotel and went back to Mum's and a great time reminiscing and laughing - with family and some of Mum and Dad's oldest friends - as we looked back through some old photographs.

We are (nearly) packed and ready to head off to Center Parcs in the morning.We are really looking forward to walking and swimming and chilling!  

I will celebrate my Birthday whilst we are away.
Emily and Alan suggested I should go for a pamper day whilst we were away  but I decided  I would rather spend my Birthday day with them and would go for a Spa day at Oxleys at Underscar on the Saturday we got back home. 2 parking tickets this month have meant funds are low so unfortunately I have had to give that a miss :-(
 I do have the surprise meal to look forward to though:-) Not so keen on the blindfolded aspect of it but Emily is soooo excited. I am truly amazed how well she has kept the location a secret:-)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Final furlong of the re-organisation...

At the beginning of 2009 we began a major re-organisation of the house.We are blessed to have a nice sized house and have 3 reception rooms.The space just wasn't getting used properly though and we had furniture that was just not suitable for our needs. We needed storage and bookcases that could provide easy access to the growing number of books and other paraphernalia associated with home education...

Around April we had a few rooms done and just had the living room to finish. that didn't happen until the September and by Christmas we were straight again.

that is apart from the spare room which had ended up being the dumping ground.
I have put it off all this time - I am the queen of procrastination ;-)
I have had half hearted attempts at it and have set aside days to clear it but something else has always taken priority...

Today was the day I finally got motivated to attack it.

Alan took Emily to her riding lesson, I put on some music and off I went ..

There were all sorts of piles on the floor, vases with very dusty silk flowers and wind chimes that had hung in Milly's room when she was a toddler - they were never going to be used again but I have always put off parting with them..

Lamp without shade - waiting around just in case I could find the space to put it.


upon bag

of clothing , cushions, curtains, fancy dress clothes and ornaments passed to Emily from Alan's Mum and my Nana when they died...

Curtains from the living room, blackout blind from Milly's room ,pine curtain poles and roman blinds that hung in the kitchen years ago...

It was time to be ruthless. I cleared bag by bag and eventually some surfaces were clear..

Haven't seen the top of this set of drawers for over a year!

Aside from the things I have kept to go to the car boot sale,I organised bags of rubbish and have a bag for the charity shop and a large bag of clothes that I will list on Ebay ...

When we get back from Center Parcs we will have a couple of car boots and then whatever is left is going to charity.Just need a single bed and we will have a spare room again.

So *only* eighteen months after starting reorganising we are on the last leg...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Style on a budget by Milly.....

Milly wanted to buy a new dress. She wants to wear it  to celebrate my Birthday when we return from our break at Centerparcs.Apparently I am being taken out for a meal ,it is to be a surprise destination and I will be blindfolded! Looking forward to it - hoping it is a short car journey though as I am likely to feel sick if I can't see out!

We looked online but the prices were a bit steep for our budget at the moment ( have to pay for ladies clothes now as she is a size 12 ) so we decided to check out the charity shops.
In the first shop we walked into one particular dress leapt out at us. It was the perfect colour to go with her *high heels* as Milly calls them ( they have a really chunky heel about an inch high but they make a lovely clunky noise when she walks and she feels very grown up) it had a funky design and style that was soooo Emily...

She loved it so much and was eager to wear it so she put it on to celebrate my Dad's 70th last night...
Here she is, self styled with a touch of make up,teal coloured tights, a beaded handbag and a scarf to finish the look.

Not the best quality pictures I am afraid, but I think it gives you the impression..It has a puff ball skirt and button detailing on the yoke at the front.A really super little dress.

She also saw a fab hat with black netting in the charity shop but at £7 was more than I could afford so we went to another accessories shop and found the perfect headband to go with it..

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Over two days I spent quite a lot of time on line trying to find accommodation that would suit our needs and budget.

I had wanted to stay for a minimum of 3 nights ( this would enable us to pace ourselves a bit and still give us time to see all we wanted to see) and needed it to be fairly central. Mainly because we wanted to have the ability to explore easily and still be able to go back to have a breather if either of us needed it ( me from an energy point of view and Milly from overload!).It is going to be darker earlier by the time we go at the end of Oct and we didn't want to be travelling by tube in the dark.
I also wanted to be close to the train station (Euston) we came in at so that our first experience was an easy one and we didn't have to get off the train and try to work out tubes or buses.
Ideally I wanted en suite...

I began looking for cheap B&B accommodation - there were an overwhelming amount of websites -  trying to trawl through and read up on each possibility was going to take forever.Also the lower end of the market (within our budget ) had shared bathrooms.

Then I looked at Travelodge - you know what you are getting and Jenny (on facebook) mentioned about the buffet breakfast which sounds fab - eat as much as you like and children eat free.I found two possibilities but due to cost they were on the outskirts and involved a tube or train journey to and from.

I looked at the YHA site and rang one (can't remember where in London it was now, but it was early on in my search before I decided to stick close to the center ) to check for availability - a family room with en suite at £61 a night was only working out at £14 less than the Travelodge I had found.

After checking out all available Travelodges - and the travel implications of where they were situated - it became clear I couldn't afford 3 nights :-( No matter how I worked it, it was just too expensive and it looked as though 2 nights would have to do.

Then I decided to look again at the Youth Hostel site. The one at St Pancras caught my eye.Even better when I read that it was within walking distance of Euston - tick in box.It has been recently refurbished and had cafe facilities amongst other positives.

Online booking had no vacancies for the days I wanted to Travel ( no flexibility for us as Alan needed to be at home so he could look after the animals - London visit was not his cup of tea which is why he was staying at home)I rang and they had a double room available but no en suite.I dithered and decided to talk to Milly before booking.She had been looking forward to the TV,en suite and ability to make hot chocolate in the room .

I knew she would not go to the loo on her own with it being out of the room and that would bother her but once she knew I would go with her whenever she needed to go that was ok.The lack of TV in the room was not as much of a problem when we talked about how much time we were actually likely to spend in the room and we will take her laptop so she could watch a DVD if she wanted to.The drink making facilities could be got round by taking a travel kettle and plastic cups, so that was that sorted. There is also a cafe in the hostel so (apart from first thing in the morning) we could head down there to get a drink.Milly misses home so much when we are away so another reason to take the laptop is that we can pay to get Wi fi at the Hostel and teach Daddy to Skype before we go so we can chat each evening:-)) More ticks in boxes.

So I rang back and booked 3 nights with breakfast at a very reasonable cost of £165 (that includes the added cost of breakfast too) the cheapest Travelodge (fairly central but not as well positioned for us) for 3 nights was £100 more.
The Hostel also does discounted rates to some of the attractions which will save us money too.
Family and friends railcard (purchased at half price for £13 with the Daily Mail offer recently) means the train fare is £78 return instead of £138 so another saving there:-)

I have reserved a seat on the train,with a table and near the loo's ( not too near I hope ) so that Emily can feel safe going on her own and I don't have to leave all our belongings...
So that's it all sorted -  3 nights in the big city at the end of October..


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

With apologies to Facebook friends who may already have seen these ;-)

Milly has learnt a new trick! She was very keen to show me yesterday.

Climb onto the climbing frame and then ...

 keep going up...

wonderful to just lay and watch the clouds apparently...

 you get a great view when you stand up too...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

London calling....

Colleen, The New Unschooler - who is not so new anymore - is coming to town!

I was excited quite some time ago when I got to the bottom of this blog post and she mentioned that there was a possibility she would be coming over .

Then, a while ago it became definite and they will be spending 7 weeks based in London!
They are taking the opportunity to travel around Europe,visiting Greece,France and Switzerland.and Spain they are also staying with Schuyler. Certainly packing a great deal into their stay:-)
Collen contacted me on Facebook to say they were going to go to Whitby and did we live near there.Getting from there to see us would have involved a 7 hour train journey and an hour in the car. I thought it made sense for Emily and I to take the opportunity to do something we had talked about for a while and go down to London to meet up with them!
Even though it is something we have dreamt about doing,I was pleasantly surprised when Emily agreed to go - travel is not top of her favourite things to do:-)She has known of Colleen and Jerry since we first took her out of school and I think she is very keen to meet a fellow Percy Jackson lover:-)
I have spent the day trying to work the trip out on a very tight budget.Initially I wanted to stay 3 or 4 nights,which would have enabled me to pace myself a bit better - but costs were too high so I have had to trim it back to 2 nights.
I think I have managed it and will be booking the train tickets and Travelodge room once I have had a chance to go through the details with Alan.My menopausal brain is playing very silly games on me and I don't trust myself to do it without making a mistake-like booking the wrong date of something! The last holiday I booked online I was onto the final booking page when I realised I was booking for 2011 instead of 2010!!Much safer to get them checked first...
 I am really looking forward to meeting Colleen and Jerry.I left it far too late to invite them to stay with us ( I had thought I had invited them when we started emailing about the trip but it seems I had the thought and didn't follow through with the action!) I have invited them to travel back up with us and stay but they have to leave on the 1st Nov so that is unlikely.Maybe another time...
It is taking me far out of my comfort zone to make this trip on my own - which is no bad thing.
I am excited and nervous in equal measure :-)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Another wonderful day out....

Today's outing was to Mirehouse with friends.

L and her family are very special to us. When I had postnatal depression and made the first tentative steps out into the world and attended the local playgroup L was the playgroup leader.She made me feel very welcome and probably isn't aware of just how her friendship at that time helped me.
L's daughter A is Emily's bestest friend:-)

The sun shone brightly and we enjoyed a picnic,assault course,zip wire and a giant tyre swing for little M . Milly and A joined him at one point and I was asked to push them I managed to trip and fell against Emily - I was aware we bumped heads but wasn't aware that banging into her made her bang her head on the large metal chain- until she informed me and cried that she didn't like me very much at that moment:-(
She wasn't happy with me for a while but luckily came round and  forgot about it and we headed down to the lake.

Look closely and you can see two heads at the base of the branches jutting out of the lake...

Idyllic really,lots of laughter and squealing and paddling and swimming.The four girls all went in - it was a warm day but the water was still  cold - they stayed in for about an hour .M stayed in the shallows with L and I  and we threw stones.I bragged that I had learnt how to skim stones but obviously after saying that was unable to do so ;-))
 Couldn't believe that A and Emily had a swimsuit suntan by the time they got out ( the sun had been behind clouds quite a lot of the time) and had a lovely criss cross design on their backs...

We walked back for another go on the assault course and said goodbye before heading home via Aldi to get something for tea and some goodies for the sleepover.

Alan took the girls into town to a play park where they spent an hour or so.Home for tea and then out for a walk to A's to pick up her sleepover gear - oh and a clothes airer!! Apparently it makes a good den:-)

They went out again to walk to the village park but were back within 15 mins, as it was getting dark.

They remembered how they used to slide down the stairs on duvets - so decided to revisit their childhood and padded the hall table at the bottom of the stairs before attempting it - thankfully no injuries and they are now in the kitchen making cakes.Don't need my assistance apparently! looking forward to seeing the kitchen when they are finished:-))

A busy busy day, but so enjoyable.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Plan D !!!

When I woke this morning the day ahead had been planned.Emily and I had decided yesterday that we would  go to Rheged again.We wanted to go to the giant cinema screen to see Take me to the moon in 3D.

When it got to 10.45 and she was still snoozing I woke her and after reading for a while I said that if she still wanted to go we would need to think about getting ready to make it in time.She asked if we could stay home and take Beauty for a walk and just hang out at home.No problem at all it was a nice sunny day so that became plan B:-)

After a while we talked about where to go for a walk and non of the regular walks near home fitted the bill so plan c was hatched;-) off for a walk around Buttermere and an opportunity for Emily to swim.Packed a bag and headed off. Buttermere was very busy and we had decided we wouldn't pay the £4 parking charge at the car park ( more money to spend on a cuppa/ice cream at the cafe) so headed of to the road we knew had some parking spaces for free. it seemed that every man and his dog knew about the road today and it was a very long way up before there was any space at all.We decided to carry on and turn round to go back down and see if someone had moved and created a space nearer the lake...

The nearest place to turn around was half way up the mountain!! As we pulled in near a waterfall we decided this would be as good a place as any to stop so plan D came into operation:-)
We set off to get to the waterfall.
Follow me I know where I am going she says...

Not too far to go now.

Look at that view.

Scramble down this rocky sloping path!!

Well worth the trek.

Ok Mum, instead of going back the way we came let's go over this way it's more exciting.At first I was resistant! I could see how much she really wanted to do it though and decided I would give it a go.

I am not too keen on this route Milly,I don't like the sheer drops!Ok it was only 15 feet or so but still...

A very steep decline to get back to the stream so we could cross over again.At this point I was moaning how difficult it was to walk sideways on mossy springy grass...

Look at those views...

Yes I see how lovely they are.
Far away in the distance is the slither of road we have to reach to get back up the steep hill to where the car is....

A drink and a breather to admire the surroundings and for me to moan about the prospect of getting stuck in marshy ground... 

Finally we make it across the stream with just this hill to climb back to the car.

I moaned and groaned but you know what? It was a much better walk than if we had just gone on the well trodden path:-) We took our time back up the road and sat and discussed many topics along the way.

A lovely drive home, past the lake with the late afternoon sun shining down on the glittering water.
Milly has a renewed interest in Mcfly with the imminent release of their new single and we put on Radioactive - very loud - which brought back many happy memories of the holiday to Wales with Millie :-)

Home and at this moment Alan is struggling to light the BBQ although he has managed to get a roaring fire going in the Chiminea.

An evening of cards and games in front of a roaring fire for us....