I have pondered joining the WI for a little while as one started up in Haydock, where I used to live. It was a few years ago and for reasons I can no longer remember I just never got around to going. But I thought about it.
But my lovely friend Tilly sent me a message before Christmas to say that there was a WI starting up in N-le-W and did I fancy going. Now as it turned out I was working for the very first get together, so I had to say a sad no. However, utter joy as the real formation meeting was held last night at St Patrick’s social club and we decided to go along. I don’t mind telling you I was a bit nervous and put a shout out on Twitter to see if anyone else I knew was going, and lo and behold – there were a couple of the lovely ladies of Newton that were planning to go along.
Twitter has been a wonderful thing for me as it’s introduced me to a lovely community of people who have been just so welcoming and helpful.
So with the knowledge that there would be a few friendly faces, Tilly and I rocked up to be immediately greeted by such happy, smiling faces. We paid our fee and sat down on a table with one of the lovely ladies I sometimes talk to on Twitter. There ended up being a table of 7 of us and I had a fab night. There was cake, a daft table game and lots of friendly chatter. The most splendiferous Cllr Jeanie Bell gave us an inspirational speech, which was both shocking and uplifting in equal measures.
Tilly on the left and Me in the blue on the right
She talked about many things, but in particular she talked about us being role models for the young girls in our town and I couldn’t agree more. Working with young people for a job and especially in St Helens, I would much rather people looked at the kind deeds, volunteering, strength and hard work that goes on by the women around them than anything else.
But back to the meeting. It started around 7:15ish and finished around 9pm. It went SO quick and it seems like they have lots planned for us over the next 12 months. I can’t wait.
p.s. at the end of the meeting, the girls around my table all quietly admitted that we had been nervous about coming along…. but by that time, we sort of felt in it together, what a relief…..
Today I am 3 days into a 4 day weekend and it’s been gloriously successful. Let me catch you up…
Friday was a day for a bit of rest and relaxation, with our only trip out to Harefield Coffee Barn to meet M’s parents for brunch. It’s really a lovely place and we had a fab time, except for when the roof started to leak and drip on me. Oops. We just chilled out for the rest of the day, sort of Staycation stylie.
Yesterday, we unashamedly went out to ChouxChouxbedo on Newton-le-Willows High Street and as usual had some fabulous food and M and I had a fab discussion about who we would choose to spend time with if we could only spend:
1 full day with someone
1 hour with someone
5 minutes with someone
The rule were, that they had to be alive, but that was all. I chose to spend a full day with Oprah, I think I would learn SO much. 1 hour with Justin Timberlake – I would make him sing to me. AND controversially, I would spend 5 minutes with Donald Trump – to see if he really was as crackers as he appears.
Then today, today has been a good day because I feel like I have achieved everything I wanted to. I was playing around with some features in WordPress, since I switched a few weeks ago, and I was struggling with some of the technical aspects. But I have learned over the years, that if I can’t do something, put it down and come back to it the next day.
True enough I got up this morning and within 30 minutes, I fixed the problem and off I went. I managed to do some really important back end maintenance to the blog and by the end of the day, I was really pleased with my efforts.
THEN I moved onto editing some footage I shot at a work event on Thursday and got it all ready for publishing on my YouTube channel. Result!!!!
You see on Friday I was feeling a bit flat and not sure I was going to enjoy my 4 days off work, which is an odd feeling. So it felt good today to feel like I was kicking ass. Go me.
So this week has been quite a week in Gilliblogs land, lots of serious events, a fancy lunch, a great night out a walk around the park and even a bit of pumpkin carving. But let’s start at the beginning.
If you have been following me for a little while, you might know I work for the Prince’s Trust, which is the leading UK Youth Charity. We work with some young people with challenging and chaotic backgrounds and this week was full of young people struggling with their issues and making us worry about them. Many frantic phone calls and incident reports. Thankfully everyone is ok.
Then this weekend, I met my lovely friend Karen for lunch at Albert’s Shed in Manchester, I would love to see her more, but she lives in Glossop and so we have to pick our moments.
I got home from lunch about 3pm on Saturday and only had a few hours to get ready for a Halloween Party! I had been invited along by my lovely friend Tilly over at Lavender Lemonade. Her in-laws were celebrating their 35th Wedding Anniversary and were having celebratory fancy dress party! Cool no?!
I had originally planned to go in a Skeleton onesie that I wore last year, but when I tried it on again, I forgot it velcroed at the back and perhaps wasn’t appropriate for wearing outside the house! So instead I went to Asda in Wigan on Friday night and got myself a brilliant ghoulish dress and face paint.
So I have a horrible confession to make, in that after I got ready I TOTALLY forgot to take any photos, but luckily Tilly did….
Tilly & I
Me, Gail & Tilly
Don’t we look good! We had a great night dancing and trying desperately not to rub or scratch our makeup off!
Also, I have to say how very lovely it was to be invited. I haven’t really talked about friends that much on this blog, but if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you might know that my two really good friends live very far away. This at times, has made me feel quite lonely and lacking in close female company. I did used to have a gang of close female friends, but some naturally drifted away, and a couple I fell out with.
I also had a very special best friend, who I will call “S”, who I was best friends with for 11 years. We were like sisters and I loved her. However in 2002 we had a falling out and I did something stupid over which S stopped speaking to me. We didn’t speak for a while and even though we exchanged emails and Christmas Cards, it was never the same. I always wanted to see her face to face to say how sorry I was for what I did and to have lost her as a friend, but it just never happened. This went on for far too long and in 2013 I heard the sad news that she had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS). Remember the ice bucket challenge?
All too soon, I heard that S became quite unwell quite quickly in that she couldn’t speak or walk and was being cared for by her husband at home. I started to write to her, sometimes letters or moonpig cards, but of course she couldn’t reply and I don’t even know what she thought about me or the cards. On the 11th March 2014, S passed away aged just 45 years old. I was heartbroken. I never got to see her and I never really got to tell her in person how sorry and stupid I was. The whole thing hurt my heart and over the years this has definitely affected my ability to make new friends.
I tend to shy away from making close connections as everything that went on with S made me wary of being anyone’s friend.
So I do have to say a huge thank you to Tilly for inviting me, I know she thinks that I was supporting her, but little does she know, that she was giving me some of my confidence back too. She has shown me that I can be someone’s friend and that maybe all hope isn’t lost.
A great weekend, and of course, in true Halloween style, finished with some Pumpkin carving:
Hope you are having a great Halloween whatever you are doing. Leave me a comment and let me know..
It’s a very rainy Friday here in Newton-le-Willows and after a full day of work emails and reports, I am more than ready for the weekend. I’ve had a decent enough week, with a strange confidence wobble early on in the week.
I won’t bore you with the gory details, but something happened that sort of shook my confidence a bit – don’t worry it wasn’t anything bad and everything righted itself very quickly, but my achilles heel was prodded and it made me feel a bit weepy.
I also had a trip over to Glossop this week to see my friend Karen. Karen is someone that will NEVER see this blog as she doesn’t really get on with technology, but I love her dearly non-the-less!! She used to be my manager when I joined GMCVO in 2007 and when she left we just remained friends. I often think it’s such a shame that she lives so far away (Glossop is is 74 mile round trip) as I think I would see her much more often. As it is, we see each other every month or so and invariably go out for lunch or tea. She and her husband Ian are a little older than me, but it doesn’t seem to matter as we have always got on really well – age is only a number after all.
At work, things are temporarily very quiet as The Team Programme (which I look after) doesn’t run any Teams for young people during August. Traditionally August is a very quiet month as all education provision stops, so I am just currently treading water until things resume in September.
I also went out for lunch with my lovely work colleague Felicity. We both work on Team and because she works in Merseyside and I work in West Lancs & St Helens, then I hardly ever see her. But she is in the same situation as me and so we will be in the office together a little more than usual over the next few weeks (yay).
Then of course M’s dad is still in hospital.. as I type that, I am not sure I have told you all that so far? But he had a major op last Friday that saw him in surgery at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital for a 5 hr operation! He is a real advert for keeping yourself in good nick, as at 83, he has bounced back with bountiful alacrity and he is right on the verge of coming home. Relief all around.
This weekend, the weather looks a little miserable, but I think M and I are going to make adventures anyway – even if it’s just to the cinema to see Finding Dory!
Early next week I have little YouTube collab in the diary — so keep you eyes peeled to my YouTube channel for that!
Anyway, hope your week has been a good one and do leave me a comment if you have been up to anything exciting!
So the last few weeks have been grotty, I’ve been unwell for bloody WEEKS and it’s been rubbish. A chest infection, torn intercostal muscles, not sleeping, stress incontinence and non-stop coughing haven’t been fun, and so I have decided to make a little change this weekend.
I have just made M promised to follow me around this weekend, taking me to at least 2 different places for tea and “giggles’ will, I am sure come naturally. I am just started hunting around the net for places to go and I think the first place I think we might try is a cafe in Widnes from which I believe we can see Alpacas!! It’s called the Harefield Coffee Barn and I have heard nothing but good reports.
I also have a couple of other places to maybe try, but I just haven’t decided yet. It’s really nice to know that I have a whole day to go out and enjoy myself, I have been benched for far too long!
Does anyone have any suggestions for places I could go – only caveat is that I don’t drink alcohol, so not bothered about pubs etc. But other than that – bring it on!
First of all, let me just tell you that the whole day was a complete WOW and next to my Wedding Day and buying my house, then it’s the most amazing thing that I have ever done. Let me talk you through it.
I think this was beautiful and I am definitely going to have it framed. The garden party was hosted by Prince Charles to help celebrate 40 years of The Prince’s Trust. The dress code was very clearly set out in a guidance booklet which came with the invite. It went something like this:
Men: Lounge Suites Ladies: Day dresses. No strapless. Nothing above the knee. All straps must be at least 1″ wide. Hats/Fascinators optional with a recommendation for flat or wedge heel shoes as we would have a “long day on our feet”.
We we were also told in the guidance that we would need both photo ID and another address form of ID in case the police needed to see it. As it turned out, on the gate, the police just checked my admittance card and my photo ID. Note: Oh yes, the invitation was for me to keep and I actually also got another admittance card which I handed in on entrance. Ace.
We were told that the timeline was as follows:
2:00pm – Guests could start to queue up
3:00pm – The garden party would start and guests would be admitted
3:30pm – Afternoon Tea would be served
4:00pm – HRH The Prince of Wales would arrive and greet guests
5:30pm – HRH would depart
6:00pm – The National Anthem would play and the garden party would be over.
I have to say that it ran almost to time, with the slight exception that HRH was still in the Tea tent at gone 6!
Anyway, before that I wanted to share with you some highlights. As we went through the gates I spotted Neil, one of our volunteers taking a picture of his wife in the space between the famous front gates and the palace itself. I asked him if he wanted me to take a picture of both of them. As I took his phone, a lovely police women with a very large machine gun walked up to me shaking her head. She didn’t say a word, but just glared at me. I said meekly “no photos?” she again she shook her head at me. I apologised profusely but did laugh to myself as I gave Neil his phone back!
As we walked through the main centre arch at the front of Buckingham Palace, I found myself in a huge rectangular courtyard which I have seen SO many times on the TV. It’s the place from where Princess Diana got into her carriage to get married in 1981, where Queen Elizabeth II has greeted 12 Prime Ministers and also Michelle and Barack Obama when they visited and guess what.. .I walked up those exact steps where over the years dignitaries, heads of state, Kings, Queens and all manor of world figures have stood! I only WISH I had a photo, but after the run in with AK47, I thought best not to… but that would change soon enough..
The whole afternoon was filled with hugs and happy faces as all the guests where either staff, PT volunteers, some PT young ambassador and the of course many many many Celebrity Ambassadors!! Some of which I will name for you now:
Alison hammond for ‘This Morning’
My head was literally on a swivel the whole afternoon as I kept spotting people from work who I knew and then intermingled with us “normals” there were people off the telly! It was like celebrity bingo! Cue the sneaky pic of Damien Lewis from Homeland!
Of course there was afternoon tea, which came in the form of a HUGE tea tent for which we (in the most British way possible) queued up for. We then had a choice of the most delicate finger sandwiches (ham & tomato, cream cheese & smoked salmon) and then an array of petit four.
I picked 2 x ham sandwiches, carrot cake, Battenberg and fruit cake. ALL DELICIOUS!!!!! I had water first and then went back for Buckingham Palace tea. I mean….. how could I not?? I can confirm too, that even the tea was divine.
When HRH came out at 4pm, there were some lovely suited gentleman that sort of marshalled the guests into a tunnel and The Prince walked down the cleared area talking to some pre-selected guest and then he started to break ranks and talk to the people who, by this time, were snapping photos left, right and centre! He did of course have his “close protection” making a semi-circle around him, but even they were fairly unobtrusive. I did get fairly close to him, even if I didn’t get to shake his hand, and he seemed just charming.
After he had greeted everyone, he took HIS afternoon tea in the Royal Tea tent and he was then joined by all the VIPs until his exit after 6:00pm. When he was hobnobbing, the two ladies I was with and I went for a walk around the palace gardens. I have seen some of them before when I visited the palace in maybe 2011 when M & I did paid tour. Even so, they were still stunning and I felt like I was in the middle of a part of history.
We stayed until 6:10pm waiting for HRH to exit the tea tent, but there was no sign. I had a train to catch and so we unfortunately we had to leave before he did re-appear – but to be honest, we were done in!
Finally, I know what you are thinking… what did you wear… well here you go:
Outside Buckingham Palace
Inside the gardens
with Viv & Jayne
Also, its worth noting that M treated me to a 1st class train ticket for the journey back and it was BRILL!!! Loads more room, free dinner and drinks and definitely a lovely way to end the day.
I loved it and was proud of myself for working for such a worthwhile charity. I am a lucky girl and this is a day I will never forget.
I think the year is getting better and better as yesterday we hosted a birthday BBQ at our house for both M and his mum.
Opening his presents
Birthday set up
What could it be?
Chocolate cake for M
We had been nervously checking the weather for the previous few days and on the day itself, it wasn’t super sunny, but it was lovely and warm. We did have a happy time opening pressies, cooking and eating copious amounts of sausages, chicken and vegetables.
Then of course we sang Happy Birthday as we brought out 2 x specially prepared and totally homemade birthday cakes/meringues. We really did have an amazing time and I think everyone went home feeling full and happy.
It was such a contrast as last year was such a very sad time for me (explained here) and so it was lovely to have a much happier memory in the bank.
I also write this post at the end of a very lovely Sunday on which the sun has shone for the entire day and I have the not totally unexpected sunburned shoulders. Happy times are once again falling upon me and man it feels good.
So I had an exciting day last Monday as I worked on an event with work as I staffed an airstream trailer which has been travelling the UK collecting memories of 40 years of The Prince’s Trust. We parked the trailer on the piazza at Media City in Salford. For those of you not familiar, Media City is where the BBC moved to around 2011 and it’s where Coronation Street is now filmed. More of that in a sec.
So I was supposed to be at the bus for 8:30am, but despite setting off at 7:30am, traffic and roadworks conspired against me and I was less than 6 miles away from home after an hour! So i turned around and went home for 35 minutes and set off again at 9:05am, reaching the bus by 9:45! It was all systems go as we had lots of people coming to visit, young people helped by the trust and businesses that have been started with our help.
Then of course, we had our celebrity ambassador Helen Worth who has played Gail on Coronation Street for as long as I have been alive! She came across to the trailer and spoke to our young people for about an hour. She was SOOO lovely, I mean really really nice. She chatted easily to the young people making everyone feel at ease and she looked genuinely interested in everything they had to say. That’s a real skill.
She was particularly interested in one of our young ambassadors Kris, who went through our Enterprise programme to set up his own business Little Finn Productions. She had a really good chat to him and was enthralled when he went on to perform a 5 minute sketch based on his experience with the trust.
I am now Helen Worth’s biggest fan, she was also TINY and I felt like I could have put her in my pocket. What a legend… I mean I haven’t watched Coronation Street for years, but who cares… i loved her….
Then of course, Helen offered Kris from Little Finn a guided tour of the Coronation Street set, including being able to watch them film some scenes!
We won’t mention the fact that the entire Metrolink tram service broke down at 11:30am on the day and so Media City was devoid of visitors or the fact that it got colder and colder throughout the day culminating in pouring rain by 3:00pm!