Where creative writing and general rambling go hand in hand :)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Holiday for one

I decided to spend my bonus money on a little holiday for myself, after looking around on line for different places to visit I settled on the Isle of Wight. I had previously been to the island twice, once on a coach trip to black gang chine and once to Osborne house with school; as both of these visits had been at least 25 years ago I thought I would see what it was like as an adult.
Price wise I found my trip quite reasonable, the return train from Bath to Portsmouth, the return catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde and 3 nights in a B&B totalled less than £140. Travel around the island was also fairly cheap as with an NUS card you can travel half price so a 48hr rover ticket cost me just £7.50.
Monday - Travelling light?
Leaving my house at 6.40 am I was packed up with a rucksack, a satchel and a handbag as well as a travel mug of coffee to keep me going. My bus to Bath was on time and I waited at the train station reading one of my books ( I took 3) to pass the time. The train journey was uneventful and I managed to get even more reading done. Arriving at Portsmouth harbour I headed from the train straight down the slope to the Catamaran terminal and was able to get on an earlier crossing than the one I booked. The crossing was lovely, helped by the gorgeous weather and the fact you could sit on the sundeck. Once in Ryde I walked down the pier (you can wait for a train) and headed for the bus terminal to pick up some information and a timetable. Not long to wait for a bus into Sandown which was where my B&B was, though I was slightly too early to book in so I sat alongside the beach and soaked up some of the sun. Having asked for directions to the correct street I walked to the B&B (http://www.bertramlodge.co.uk/) to book in. I was met by a very friendly couple who showed me my room, the dining area/living room and explained that it was okay to come and go as I pleased, no time limit to be in by as a front door key was included with the room key. My room had a single bed and an en suite shower room just perfect for me, a TV with freeview, large chest of drawers, wardrobe, dressing table, full length mirror, in fact I thought it was quite big for a single room.
Having been in contact with a fellow OU student I spent the evening at The Reef, by the beach in Sandown with a nice glass of wine and lovely company. Once back at the B&B I made plans for the next 2 days.
Tues I would go to needles park and Shanklin chine
Wed I would go to Osborne house and the Zoo.
Tuesday - Newport to Needles
Following a lovely cooked breakfast I caught the bus to Newport in order to catch a further one to Alum bay- Needles park (travelling by bus means getting through a lot of reading). Having planned out my day last night I headed straight for the chair lift down to the beach. Armed with my camera I started snapping away at the view before realising quite how high up I was! Jumping off at the bottom I went straight to the Jetty to join the boat trip to the Needles and lighthouse, plenty of photo opportunities here.
Not wanting to brave the stairs back up to the top, I took the chair lift back up where they very kindly take a photo of you on route!!!
Back up at the top I visited the sand shop,glass blowing, gift shop and the pantry for some lunch (where in all honesty the staff could do with some customer service skills!) following lunch I took the open top bus to the needles battery which gave some beautiful views of the needles and out to sea. Awaiting the bus back to Newport I overheard a lady talking about the Queen visiting so decided to investigate when I returned to Sandown. Back in my room I found the details for the royal visit Wed in Cowes so made a change of plan to my day in order to take in the Queens visit. Later in the evening I caught the bus to Shanklin to visit the Chine once it started getting dark as they light it all up. I walked around the old village as well as around the chine.                                                                       Wednesday - A Royal Morning, A roaring afternoon         So due to my change of plans I had to miss breakfast in order to get to Cowes in time to see the Queen, her majesty had a lot to answer for! ;) once in Cowes I found a spot near to where the boat would dock and hoped I would be able to get a photo at least, thankfully I did.

Once I managed to get out of the huge crowd I found a lovely cafe to have some breakfast http://www.eegons.co.uk/ and very lovely it was too. Following directions from the lovely staff I walked down to the floating bridge in order to get across to East Cowes to continue my Royal morning and visit Osborne House. Viewing the house as an adult is a lot more interesting than as a child(from what I remember anyway) Unfortunately I was visiting too early to be able to see the beach that they are now featuring, maybe that's a good enough excuse for another visit. On returning to Newport I caught the bus back to Sandown and went straight to the Zoo. Disappointingly it's a very small zoo and didn't take long to walk around at all; however the lion's and tigers are beautiful to look at and the white lion made me think of Aslan from Narnia.

After a walk back along the seafront I treated myself to chips by the sea and had a walk along the pier, spending money in the amusements at the same time. A lot of walking having been done today I took my tired legs back to my room and started packing for the journey home.

Thursday - homeward bound
All packed and ready for home, breakfast eaten and room paid for, now what? well I had plenty of time before my trip home and had arranged to meet up with my fellow student again before I returned so I took advantage of the sun and spent the morning on the beach. Needing to cool off I went for some lunch and a bit of shopping (not easy when loaded up with bags!). My friend arrived and we went off to visit Arreton craft village for an ice cream and look around before going on to the Roman villa for a drink before returning to Ryde pier head ready for my return trip. A slight delay on the train to Bath resulted in me having to run between platforms, with 3 heavy bags and wearing flip flops!! in order to catch the last train back to Chippenham. Made it just in time though and managed to finish my 2nd book before returning.

I had a great time away and didn't experience any major problems being on my own (except not being able to suncream my back) the Isle of Wight is easy to get to and easy to find your way around, there are plenty of places to visit many of which I missed this time around so maybe I'll have to revisit the island sometime soon. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London 2012

Yesterday evening saw the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic games which has, it seems, gained mixed reviews already. In my opinion I thought it was fantastic, as a follower of the Olympics I think we represented Great Britain in the best way we could.
From the Children's choirs singing national anthems to the lighting of the cauldron,Danny Boyle, the performers and all the volunteers did a fabulous job. 
Isles of wonder took us from the industrial age, featuring Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, right up to the digital age featuring mobile phones and the inventor of the world wide web - Tim Berners-Lee. We saw representatives of the suffragettes, including direct descendants of Emmeline Pankhurst, music from The Beatles to Dizzee Rascal (and the man himself). The Queen arrived with James Bond, Mr Bean played chariots of fire and J K Rowling read to the children. The combination of Mike Oldfield and Children's Literature was absolute genius, I for one LOVED it. Staff and patients from Great Ormond Street hospital and many NHS nurses featured alongside a giant Voldemort and several Mary Poppins' while tubular bells accompanied them. 
Though it takes a long time the entrance of all 204 teams is also interesting to watch especially as the majority of people have never heard of a lot of the countries. The difference in outfits is lovely and the enthusiasm shines particularly from the smaller teams. The speeches from Lord Coe, who appeared quite emotional and Jacques Rogge were set off by the backdrop of the hill of flags.The Queen officially opened the games and we all awaited the lighting of the cauldron.
From the Thames the torch arrived by boat with the aid of David Beckham and Jade Bailey and was handed over to Sir Steve Redgrave, though it seemed clear from here that it wouldn't be him actually lighting the cauldron. When he entered the stadium his route was lined with the construction workers responsible for the Olympic buildings. Handing over the torch to one of seven young athletes awaiting it Sir Steve stood back and watched as they took turns carrying it around the stadium. Seven of Great Britain's best known Olympians, Sir Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Dame Mary Peters, Shirley Robertson, Duncan Goodhew, Lynn Davies and Dame Kelly Holmes each nominated one of these young athletes in order to inspire a generation.
Rower Cameron MacRitchie, sailor Callum Airlie, London 2012 Young Ambassador Jordan Duckitt, runner Desiree Henry, runner Katie Kirk, javelin thrower Aidan Reynolds and runner Adelle Tracey. Each of them lit one of the copper petals which combined to make the cauldron, it looked spectacular.
That was that then, the ceremony complete the London 2012 games were officially opened and what better way to finish it off than get a British legend to sing us out? unfortunately they chose Paul McCartney!!!! I'm sure there are better representatives of British music to have finished the ceremony but I guess you can't please everyone.
Overall the entire ceremony made me smile as well as being a little emotional, everyone is entitled to their opinion and here's mine.
London 2012 opening ceremony did us proud, I loved it and it made me proud to be British. Let's hope that Team GB can continue to make us proud over the coming weeks. :) 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

We Walked the walk ..............................

So it's been a whole week since myself and my mum walked around South London wearing our tropical bra's;surrounded by hundreds of other women doing just the same we didn't feel out of place. The aches and pains have subsided but the memories will remain with us. 
I have done many charity walks before including several race for life's and the Dorothy house midnight walks, the longest of which was 10k, therefore the challenge of walking a half marathon was a massive one for me. Although my mum has walked the distance before I knew it would also be a massive challenge for her too due to recent health issues. So the physical challenge would be a big one but so would the mental one. My mum is someone who won't walk around in public wearing a strappy vest top and though I have no problem baring my arms (bingo wings included) I do have an issue with the size of my tummy, although I have lost a decent amount of weight I still have more to lose and the people of London are just not ready for the sight of my belly. So despite knowing it would be a huge challenge we signed up anyway!! when the theme was announced as tropical we set to decorating our bra's appropriately, when I say we I mean I helped choose the material but left the sewing to mum :) 
We picked some pink material with ice creams on it and used some flowers from a Hawaiian lei to decorate the bra itself.
Clearly however this was not going to cover our bellies! so we bought a grass skirt and pinned it to the bottom of our bra's.

The 1st July arrived and we left home at 4.30am to get to Swindon in order to catch the bus to London and then walk the mile or so to Battersea park where the walk would begin. As we walked into the park we were greeted by hundreds of women, men and children sporting decorated bra's and tropical outfits. We stripped off our t-shirts and joined the bra wearing people to warm up by the stage. By 10 am we were queueing at the start line waiting for the off, with staggered starts we set off at 10.18. That was it, no turning back now 13.1 miles to go!
I'm not a big fan of London but the route was a great one, it took us past the millennium wheel, Buckingham palace gardens, and past many Londoners and tourists who wondered what on earth was happening when they were suddenly surrounded by all these people dressed in bra's. Though I can't remember fully this is the basic route we took. http://runkeeper.com/user/sharleene/activity/100423197 . I'm sure we will all feature in some tourist photo's and videos in our spectacular outfits. Some of them were cheering us on as we passed, we had hi-fives from a group of German tourists near Buckingham palace, a big issue seller with the brightest of hats on was cheering us all on as we passed him and blowing kisses. Some people were taking no notice of us (presumably they are used to it in London) and others were cheering us on or asking what we were doing. At no point on this walk did I feel embarrassed by my attire, even when the grass skirt was blown around in the wind baring my belly to all! After one toilet stop we returned to the finish line in under 4 hours Amazing!
We were expecting to take more than 4 hours to complete the walk but keeping pace with others helped us along and we were extremely pleased with our time. Receiving our medals while Levi Roots was performing on stage made our tropical experience even better. The entertainment was brilliant and wasn't even dampened by the downpour in the afternoon. We would both wholly recommend this walk, don't worry about your size or shape or even how long it will take you (just make sure you train before the day). We had an absolutely amazing day, there were some amazing bra's appearing and some great complete outfits too.
We would also like to say an absolutely massive THANK YOU to each and every volunteer who helped out at the Sunwalk, the one's collecting bags, answering questions, guiding people on the walk, cheering us on through tunnels, across bridges, helping us cross the busy roads, telling us all what a great job we were doing, handing out water, presenting our medals, handing out more water, banana's and rain macs and generally just keeping us going. Without all of you we would never have made it Thank you :)
Now to beat my longest ever walk, anyone up for the full Moonwalk next year??