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

My week in Salford (and lovely things to come)

As you know I have been working away in London for the last 5 weeks trying to get my head around a new computer system in order to train hundreds of Prince’s Trust staff how to use it. Well this week, that training started in earnest when I trained some of our staff alongside the lovely Laura from Dundee. I had the first day jitters initially, but by the second day they settled down and we ended up having a really good couple of days.

I have been doing IT Training for about 15 years on and off, but this is the first time I have ever trained people on a system I didn’t know inside out. But the fact that it seemed to go ok and the feedback was good, has given me so much confident that I feel good about the sessions I am doing solo next week.

Actually, next week sees me going to Leicester for the week and as I have never been I am interested to see what it’s like. I am going on my own, which means 4 x nights in the Ibis Leicester, but I am back on Thursday night so it’s not too bad.

Also, this weekend is our last “free” weekend before the Christmas hoopla kicks in.. namely:

So lots to look forward to and I think that this weekend I might pick up my vlogging camera. I have really neglected my YouTube Channel over the last couple of months due to work things but as Christmas approaches and VLOGMAS tickles my creativity – I think it’s time to start filming.

Happy days!

G x

Harefield Coffee Barn

As a non drinker and a lover of cafe culture, it’s always great to find a new coffee shop destination and so I was very pleased to visit Harefield Coffee Barn.  It’s situated quite close to the M62 roundabout at Rainhill here:

Harefield have had a water gardens for quite a while and the coffee barn is a very recent addition. We actually visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago and then again more recently for my birthday breakfast. It’s a lovely place to visit for many reasons:

  1. Parking – it has plenty – always a bonus
  2. It’s beautifully light and airy inside
  3. They have waitress service
  4. There are many tables
  5. There are tables outside
  6. There is a nice view of local fields
  7. There are Alpacas

Yes, you did read that right, there are alpacas at the coffee barn and when we visited on my birthday, a team from America had just been over and shorn then. Very cute:

 

I have to say that the staff and service were polite and efficient and the food was lovely. My mother-in-law had quite a specific coffee order and they remembered how she liked it without any prompting. Now that is what I call good service.

Its a very calm and relaxing place to visit and you can very easily forget it’s just a stone’s throw from the busy motorway. The Alpacas helps. This post isn’t sponsored either, I just liked it there.

We will definitely be going back.

Gill  x

St Helens – time for a change…

So if you read my blog, you will know I live in Newton-le-Willows, which is part of the borough of St Helens and I also lived in Haydock for 40 years, which is also in the borough of St Helens.

Welcome to St Helens

Growing up, I used to go into St Helens at least once a week as it was my local town and seemed to be full of all the regular high street shops that you might expect. I was a child of the 70s and 80s and was definitely that kid following their mum around the shops, stopping what seemed like every 5 minutes so my mum or gran could stop and have a chat with someone they knew. I loved the pick ‘n’ mix in Woolworths, although I was NEVER allowed any and I did indeed buy my first single from the Woolies record counter.

I loved wandering around St Mary’s and Tontine market and spent many an hour waiting for the 320 bus outside the Co-op on Claughton Street. But of late, St Helens has lost some of it’s sparkle…. well actually, I think it’s lost it all.  It started when Woolworth’s went bust and closed in 2008 and then seemingly, one by one, lots of other high street shops followed, What happened next was that some really big high street shop units sat empty and then were filled by pound shops and bakeries, which are fine when they are balanced with more diverse shops, but unfortunately no other retailers came knocking.

Also, in the meantime the surrounding towns of Wigan, Warrington & Widnes all had massive amounts of investment and redevelopment in their town centres and gained impressive shopping malls with the all important parking. So St Helens has sat for a few years now looking neglected and generally not very appealing as a shopping hub. 🙁

But, it seems that things maybe looking up, as according to the St Helens Star, Fat Face and H&M are both opening stores in the Town centre and this can only be a good thing. (http://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/13778980.Fat_Face_to_open_store_in_St_Helens_town_centre/ ) . Don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with a pound shop, but it’s when there is no other choice that things start to get a bit unappealing.  I am so pleased that things might be eventually starting to turn around… it’s my home town, I would like to be proud, not ashamed….

Welcome back St Helens… like a phoenix from the flames….

G x

A (few) blasts from the past

So we met my dad this morning at ChouxChouxbedo for breakfast and he has brought along some documents which my mum had kept of mine, which I honest thought were long gone! To look at them gave me a lovely burst of nostalgia, so I thought I would share a few of them with you. 

It’s always nice to look back at stuff, it reminds me of how far I have come. I failed my 1st driving test and now I have been driving 23 years – over half my life!! I also left Matthews in 2001 after 11 years and since then I have had 7 jobs…. we live, learn and grow don’t we. 

 G x