Days Out

Lots of post about days out in the UK.

I’ve been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace!

Nope this is not click bait. Yes, I HAVE been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace, in fact I have been invited to a Garden Party to celebrate HRH The Prince of Wales 70th Birthday. The party I am going to is on the 22nd May 2018 and is just 3 days after the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Yes, I KNOW.

I know what you are thinking, “How does one get invited to a Royal birthday party?”. Well as you might know by now, I work for The Prince’s Trust, which is a charity that was started by HRH in 1976. He is the president and often pops up at important functions and things. All the staff were told earlier this year that HRH was having a celebratory garden party as part of his birthday celebrations (his actual birthday is in November) and that the Trust had been allocated 200 invitations. Staff had nominate people, including any one of the 1,000 people that work for the trust, also including any of the hundreds of delivery partner staff and 1,000s of volunteers. Basically, I had no chance.

But, as it turns out, someone DID nominate me and a few of my colleagues and we all got an email about a month ago to invite us along. I. AM. THRILLED.

I have to be honest though, this isn’t my first Royal Garden Party, as I went to one in 2016 which celebrated The Prince’s Trust’s 40th Anniversary. It was an amazing day as I was surrounded by celebrities and my head was constantly on a swivel. Glorious.

What is going to be cool is that I am going down the day before and staying at the Hub at Covent Garden which is a Premier Inn and not very far from both London Euston Station and Buckingham Palace. It’s not exorbitantly expensive for London at £140 and it was a little pressie to myself after my PPI payout. 🙂

I am also really pleased as a little gang of us are going from the Team I was working with at the beginning of the year. They all work for The Trust and live and work all around the UK. They are the loveliest bunch of smashers you could ever meet and I am SO looking forward to seeing them all again. I feel so honoured to have been invited – twice in 2 years, what a lucky girl I am!

So I need an outfit (obviously) and a hat or fascinator. I think I can see a little shopping trip in my near future!!! Happy days.

G x

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An 80th Celebration & A Musical Surprise

So on Saturday we travelled to a little town just outside Wrexham in North Wales to celebrate the 80th birthday of on of our lovely family friends. She’s had a tough couple of years with one thing and another and so to turn up to find her enjoying a lovely party with an Afternoon Tea theme was a joy.

What was most unexpected was the surprise performance that her daughters had booked for her and I have to say I was blown away! They were called A Handbag of Harmonies:

They were led by the wonderful Matt Baker and after their heart exploding rendition of Shine by Take That (Swipe left on the above Insta to hear)… I was just blown away. They were incredible and if you are looking for something different for your next event, and you just want to smile for 20 minutes… then look no further. Loved every single minute!

G x

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A trip to Rivington Pike | Days Out

I think we can all agree that January in the UK is basically horrible. So very often at this time of year, M and I take ourselves off to somewhere lovely for a day out. Last year it was Astley Park in Chorley and this year we decided to go Rivington Pike, which is here:

For us, this is about 30 miles/40 minutes from our house and as we had never been before, we weren’t sure where to park. So we pulled into a little cafe and found a space tucked in the corner of the car park. As it turns out, we were still about ¼ mile from the start of all the official walking paths, but we found a nice path to stroll along, which ran parallel to the Go-Ape trails, which are also located there. Good start.

At the end of the first path we reached the “bottom barn”, which also housed a very busy cafe, toilets and an information centre. We popped into the information centre and bought a map, but honestly the map buying was a gesture as a very lovely lady in the centre gave us excellent directions up to the pike. So we set off.

A little like Delamere Forest, there are a few trails that you can follow, which have way markers, denoted on striped posts.

Rivington Barn sign with red route marker

The red route we followed was supposed to be about 3 miles, we followed the markers and ended up walking a little over 4 miles. The route is also described as “challenging” and I would have to agree with that; some uphill, some flat, lots of steps and quite a lot of the paths were very rocky under foot.

There were SO many people on the paths too, even on a damp and cold Sunday in February, it was VERY busy! Also, sidenote, today it was also muddy underfoot as it was raining quite hard for most of yesterday, so it befuddled me why we saw so many people in pristine white trainers, pink boots and most worrying of all, UGG boots?!  All the aforementioned footwear slowly getting ruined with every step.

Anyway, it took us about 1 ½ hours to get to the top and it was worth the hike. Stunning views at the top overlooking Bolton, Wigan and the surrounding areas. Again though, not much solitude at the top as it was very very busy, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

As a day out, I would give is 9/10 as it really was a lovely walk and we are sure that we barely scratched the surface on our first visit. The only reason it loses a point was the parking. As I mentioned, due to our lack of local knowledge, we parked about a 10 minute walk away from all the main car parks. But it was obvious that even though there is quite a lot of parking, it’s nowhere near enough as everywhere was jammed and we witnessed one particular traffic jam on the narrow roads, all caused by double parking.

My TOP TIP would be go early, to avoid the crazy parking situation, but honestly, well worth a visit!

We will be back.

G x

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Best and Worst of 2017

So Christmas is over, hope you had a good one, mine was pretty good as it goes 😄 It’s funny though, as the end of the year approaches, it’s my tendency to get quite reflective and as such, I thought I would put together a Top 3 list of all the things I have loved, but also the big misses of 2017 to me. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?! Here we go:

Top 3 – Highlights of 2017

  1. Getting to the top of Dodd Wood/Fell in September. I have been on something of a fitness journey this year and when I tried to do a much less strenuous walk in May, I nearly cried as I couldn’t do it. This time around, despite it being really hard, I did manage the walk! Thrilled.
  2. Starting my secondment at work and spending 5 weeks working in London. I am very much a home bird and so to be away so much was an adjustment, especially being in such a busy city, which is definitely not my cup of tea.
  3. I started my weightloss and fitness journey in May this year and to date I have lost 2 ½ stones (35 lbs/15.9 kg). I have struggled to keep a healthy weight most of my adult life, but I love the fact my weight has started to come down.

Top 3 – Telly Finds of 2017

  1. Fleabag – I stumbled upon this BBC series whilst working from home one day and ended up binge watching it in an afternoon. It’s a tragi-comedy featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and it was just fab. Strong female comedy, so good that I watched it all for a 2nd time whilst we were away in Harrogate. Highly recommend.
  2. That Day we Sang – It’s no surprise to hear I am a Northern girl and so was in love that anything Victoria Wood created. I was so sad when she passed away in 2016 and so I was beyond chuffed when I discovered this comedy/drama about a Manchester choir, written and directed by the glorious VW.
  3. Little Boy Blue – This ITV drama about the real life shooting of Rhys Jones. It was utterly compelling and brilliantly acted. M and I were hooked from the first 5 minutes. It was made all the more poignant as we both remember this happening and it was only about 15 miles away from where we live.

Top 3 – Rubbish things in 2017

  1. Donald Trump became President of the United States. After almost a year in office, I have yet to see him do a single useful thing. He is crass and uses Twitter like a teenager,  complaining about what people are saying about him on the TV. The least presidential President the USA has ever seen.  What a tool.
  2. Sorry I can’t think of a 2nd and 3rd, No 1 is bad enough.

Top 3 – Gorgeous Restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 

  1. Vigour Kitchen is a place we discovered in 2017 in our local town of St Helens. St Helens itself is quite neglected and so to have a fab new place to eat is brilliant. It’s serves nutritious and gorgeous food with a focus on healthy eating. We can’t get enough.
  2. Armathwaite Hall is where M and I went on Honeymoon and we were lucky enough to visit and stay again this year. They do simply the BEST afternoon teas and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  3. Ok so this last one is a cheat, as is wasn’t a restaurant, but someone that does outside catering. We visited the Lake District in May to celebrate a family birthday and as part of the celebrations, we organised for an outside caterer to come and do us a meal. The caterer was Laura in the Lakes who also have a cafe in Keswick. The meal Laura made for us was delicious and she also coped brilliantly with my Lactose Intolerance by making me a scrummy lemon and blueberry cake! Yummy

Top 3 – Instagrammers for 2017 

  1. The incomparable Susie Verrill. She makes me smile or laugh or just gasp with delight on daily basis. So funny, so irreverent and all the whilst coping with being a new mum and the also delightful Greg Rutherford.
  2. The unbelievably funny Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka. She has been through some tough times this year, but is honestly one the funniest person to ever Insta Story.
  3. You might be able to spot a theme in this category, but number 3 is another funny woman in Celeste Barber. She is the pioneer for #challengeaccepted in which she copies the narcissistic posts that top social media and Hollywood people post in an hilarious fashion.

I am sure there are a million categories that I could add to this list and maybe I will as I think of them. I’ve had quite a good year overall and I feel quite happy going into 2018.  Someone asked me what my hopes were for the New Year and this is what I came up with:

  • Continue with my weight loss journey and get even more healthy in 2018
  • Kick start my YouTube Channel and start getting creative again
  • Visit Barcelona in September (already booked!!!)
  • Do a Couch to 5k programme
  • Make some landscape changes in the garden
  • Get a dog!!

The most important one of my hopes is the last one. My whole blogging story started in 2009 when I started a blog documenting our beloved Peggy Dog. We lost her in 2013 and 2018 is the year we adopt another furry friend into our home. I can’t wait, although I really will have to, until my secondment at work is over and I am home a little more.

Anyway, this year has been the right side of FAB and may it continue in 2018.

Thanks for all your support in 2017 and see you very soon.

G x

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A Day Out that Went Horribly Wrong

As we are nearing the end of our week off and I have plans to see a friend tomorrow, we thought we would go out somewhere today. Today is also Southport Air Show so there were certain directions that we couldn’t travel in and so in the end we decided to travel over to the Wirral and visit a village called West Kirkby here:

We set off at 11:30 and made our way down the M62 towards Liverpool with the intention of going through the Wallasey Tunnel, which all told should have been about an hour’s journey. I think you can see what’s coming.

We reached the outskirts of Liverpool OK, but then, due to building and roadworks, got stuck in traffic for over an hour, moving forward 5ft at a time – ‘orrible. When we eventually made it through the traffic we navigated our way to West Kirkby, only to find it jam packed with people & cars and once we were stuck in yet more traffic we decided to bail and go to New Brighton instead -approximately 7-8 miles away, here:

Thankfully we made it to New Brighton without too much drama, but by this time, we had been in the car over 2 hours and I was feeling more than a little frazzled. We took a deep breath and decided to go for lunch, as on top of everything else, I was starving and desperate to pee. We found ourselves in Bella Italia at a table overlooking the water and things felt a little calmer.

I ordered a grilled chicken breast with salad , which I ate with gusto and for once, I decided to eat the accompanying onion rings as I usually avoid them. As you know, I am Lactose Intolerant and sometimes the batter they use on onion rings contains milk, but for whatever reason today, I decided to risk it.

After lunch, we decided to go for a walk on the beach and for 15 minutes we strolled gently along the marina, taking some lovley pics of an abandonded lighthouse. But after about 15 minutes, I started to feel a bit icky and we decided to head back towards the shops and restaurants at the marina just in case. However, the stroll back turned into a speed walk, which turned into a panicky jog as the repurcussions of me eating said onion rings began to make themselves known.

I will spare you the gory details, but it wasn’t pretty and we ended up camped in Starbucks until my medication (which I always carry) kicked in. Grim AF.

So let’s recap. What we aimed for was a romantic “Date” day togther, perhaps strolling round a pretty village or along a picturesque marina. What we actually got, was a 2 hour traffic jam, impatient car drivers, a lighthouse and an upset stomach. Lovely.

We took a route home that was twice as long in distance, but took just 50 minutes of traffic free driving. What. A. Day.

G x

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Great Days out in the North West of England

So the other day someone mentioned to me that M and I were always going somewhere. I laughed and blithely admitted that we were. But that phrase made me think.

M and I were both brought up in quite nuclear families, both our households consisting of 2 parents (1st and only marriage) and siblings. Often during school holidays our parents used to take us on days out with M’s parents favouring North Wales and the Lake District and my family favouring Blackpool and the seaside generally.

As adults, and as a married couple M and I are always, in fact, going somewhere. Some couples have “date night” but neither of us are night owls, so prefer date days. We aren’t really international jet setters, but we do love a day trip and/or a weekend away. Sometimes we plan where we want to go and sometimes we just go out for breakfast and see where the day takes us. As we don’t have kids or pets (for now) we are quite free to go out wandering as long as we like and so I thought I would put together a top ten of our favourite day tips in the North West of England:

  • “The Squirrels” – this is what we call it, but its proper name is Formby Point. This is a beautiful beach in Formby with a small area before the beach where very rare Red Squirrels live.
  • Martin Mere – this is something we only recently discovered and it’s a Wetland Conservation Area in Burscough – we loved it.
  • Bent Garden & Home – this originally was a garden centre, but today it’s much more than that. It has everything several shops and departments, not to mention a gorgeous restaurant and patisserie!
  • Delamere Forest – this is a large forest in Cheshire which has visitors centre, Go Ape and lots of well marked routes of different lengths. If you want to somewhere to go that will only cost you the parking, then this is your place. There is a cafe, but we tend to take packed lunch, as the cafe is ALWAYS heaving.
  • The Lake District – It’s impossible to break this down into individual posts as there is far too much to lost, I’ll maybe to a separate post on this, but South Lakes are only 90 minutes from our house and it’s perfect for a day out or a short break.
  • Cheshire Oaks – this is another shopping one, but a great place to go for shopping, cinema & eating out. It gets busy though, so I would pick your time.
  • Pennington Flash – You might be spotting a theme here, but M and & like going for a walk and so Pennington Flash is another convenient place for us to go for a stoll. There are a series of paths, woodlands and a canal to walk alongside and a golf course and decent parking makes a great,low cost day out.
  • Haigh Hall – this is a country park in Wigan, which up until the last year or so, was a hugh park with a mediocre cafe and playground. But in 2017, it’s had massive redevelopment and it has high ropes, shops, 2 x huge cafes, crazy golf and loads more. Well worth a visit.
  • Knutsford / Tatton Park – This is a tiny cheshire town and huge country estate next to it. Tatton is an amazing country estate and Knutsford is a cute village where you can shop and eat. Tatton is worth a walk around as the gardens are glorious.

There are so many more I could add, but these are my favourite. I would love to hear any days out that you have loved, leave me a comment or get in touch here.

G x

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