Our Great Little Road Trip!

 

title.jpg

Summer 2016

 

Well, the summer is over! Looking out of the window I am assured that the summer is over. Grey sky, wet path (invaded by the fattest family of slugs I have seen in a long time!) drips dropping from the downpipes, rather nippy, light mist, no children to be heard (I live near a school and it is lunch time but no doubt they are being kept indoors today!) and just that soggy feel to the air ….. wonderful!

I am not complaining. After having spent 9 days in unbearable (for me) heat driving around France and Belgium in the van, putting up and taking down the awning, walking miles and miles and climbing hills steeper than I had ever imagined encountering when planning this well thought out journey, theseheat-400x280 past 2 days have been a delight! I don’t usually complain about dry, sunny weather. In fact, I spent 14 years of my younger life living in HOT countries and didn’t complain – much! But, is it age? Being unfit? Carrying more pounds than I am used to? Suffering with hip pain while waiting for the replacement? I have no idea. All I know is the 34 – 36 degree heat with no chance of shade and cloudless skies really got to me! The trip itself, overall was fun. Just a shame about the heat!

I will once again digress from my Life’s journey and Simply tell you that I went on a wonderful holiday away with my son in the van. I have christened the van Vin. It was my first overseas journey in it and I experienced a number of sleepless nights before leaving, if I am to be completely honest!! Horror of horrors, Vin had failed the MOT on a MASSIVE list of faults (another story)! It spent a week in the garage and was finally made roadworthy. When I asked the mechanics if they would drive it over to Belgium, I was confronted with wry smiles and shakes of the head and shrugs of the shoulders!! Non committal is an understatement! I think the answer was ‘no way’!! Well, being one not to be swayed by others’ opinions, I had faith and trust van-cropin the old van and was not going to be put off by the experts! Hadn’t I already paid for the crossing and the F1 tickets? There was no going back! I took out EVERY insurance cover possible the night before departure, had a restless night, churning insides but kept a positive mind and attitude. What else is one to do?

Did it let me down? Not on your life!! What a trouper! It behaved impeccably! Big, strong, fast and furious!! Feeding off diesel (maybe a bit too much so vin-2
vin-2need to look into that) as it drove along making me the prouvin-2d owner of my very own Vin Diesel!

checker flag

 

So, Vin, Io and I were on our way! Insured to the hilt just in case, documents in hand, Vin packed, tank filled! Off we went! The journey to the ferry was easy and we got there early so we caught an early ferry!! The sea was calm and the weather was beautiful! But nothing prepared me for the heat in Belgium!! With Vin blowing out hot air (s0mething I have to get fixed soon!!) Elvis and The Traveling Wilburys musically entertaining us, water bottles in massive abundance and seat belts buckled, we trundled along the great motorway of the north through France and into Belgium.

Our adventure  had begun!!

 

 

Tea, Talk and Take it easy!

So, I am back. I have had a few days away from the laptop. and how refreshing it was. However, it is now back to my journey. As I am want to do, I have steered away from my path of travel and taken too many side roads so let’s get back on track!

va-logoI started my retirement journey and road back to health visiting the health club every morning for 9 months where I swam, ate and talked! Two years later I am not such a good visitor to the pool. I try, honestly and with this beautiful weather I make much more of an effort but my days are so busy now that I don’t make enough time for exercise. Shameful really. But there is nothing like a bit of exercise to give you the energy to attack each day with vim and vigour so I try and go as often as I can.  I exercised in the indoor and outdoor pool  – walking up and down, running up and down, a dreadful attempt at breast stroke up and down, float kicking up and down, dumb bells for arm strengthening and all this because I am not the world’s best swimmer!!  I also sit in the steam room for a couple of minutes and had the best compliment ever which I must tell you about! I walked in one morning and was asked if I was Italian. My hair stuck to my head, my mascara and eyeliner black around my eyes, my voluptuous body bursting out of my size 12 swimsuit (bought when I was a stone lighter, I must add)  and I’m asked by a swarthy,  dark gentleman in a strong Italian accent, “Are you Mediterranean?” to which I replied, “No, I am Welsh but I do speak some Italian.” “Ah!” came the reply, “when you aopened the door and awalk in I think you are Gina Lollobrigida!!!!”  Oh joy! Such beautiful words to lift the spirits and make you feel like a million dollars. Thank you kind stranger, never to be seen again!

Then came my flower arranging which was mentioned in a previous blog.

**An up date on that blog for a moment. **

I believe I mentioned that I have been asked to arrange a wedding posy. I have been practicing. What do you thing?

bouquet 1                     bouquet 2

Bouquet 5                   bouquet 4

I am enjoying this and my house and garden looks beautiful!! I’m taking orders!!

line

Next came my socialising! This is the easiest part of being retired! Socialising and journeys! I feel I need to share with you, visitors to Wales especially, just a few of the wonderful plmumblesaces to chill out and relax and catch up while you eat – afternoons and evenings. There is a beautiful seaside town on the Swansea coast called Mumbles. Mumbles is a beautiful little gem of a seaside village with shops, cafes, bas and restaurants. This is one of our favourite meeting places. Tea or coffee to begin with, cruising the shops to follow and a nice light lunch to round off the day.

Cafe 93 is a lovely little cafe. My favourite here is the bagel cafe 93and cream cheese with smoked salmon. The salads are large and the cakes and biscuits are wonderful. It’s a cosy little cafe a great place to relax and chat after a few hours window shopping.A great little novelty shop is Eden, and for some unusual clothes you must visit Splash! and Goose Island, Rowbbery’s for shoes, but only on the sale, and the hardware shop is like Aladdin’s cave. Visitors to this area need to visit the Lolovespponsvespoons shop. You will find beautiful ly carved love spoons to take home. But no visit would be complete without a lick of a Joe’s ice-cream the best vanilla icecream this side of Italy. Vanilla is the best, in a cone or a tub with the chocolate sprinkles and nuts! The best!!joes

verdi's

You could go a little up market and take a walk to Verdi’s. There you will have a beautiful view of the bay from the outdoor seating area and you have a choice of loads of flavour ice-cream. The apple crumble is wonder full .Not my picture. I borrowed it from Google images.

no 6hundredAnother chat cafe to visit is a very small place in Ynys Tawe called No6hundred. A lovely café that serves tasty cakes, a well brewed pot of tea and yummy sandwiches to name  but a fe delicacies! You are surrounded by beautiful gifts, clothing, candles and jewellery it’s perfect place for a catch up or a relaxing, indulgent afternoon.

 

cafe chameleonAnother little gem is Cafe Chameleon in Ystradgynlais. small, quirky, friendly and full of atmosphere. The food is homemade and ‘different’. there is also a good selection of vegetarian dishes and healthy choices with pulses and beans of all sorts. Again, there are items all around you which are for sale and another great chat and catch-up place.

 

Close to home, one of my favourite catch-up cafes is a moruzzi.relatively new place here in Neath called Moruzzi’s. Full of character, friendly, busy a lovely cafe where shoppers gather to have lunch and tea and where I go simply to relax and chat with friends. A must on the menu is the pulled pork sandwich, the pasta and the home made lasagna is to die for!

I could go on for ever on this page but I think I will leave it at that for now. The walls of these little places hold a number of my stories deep in their crevices. They have helped me on my journey of recovery and they have now become places I go to chill. ;laugh, relax and sen my retirement hours! It’s such a shame they offer calories, especially when I started the page with the hours of exercise I once did!!

 

 

Last Night the DJ Saved my Life

PaulBack in March I was introduced to a very remarkable man, Paul Johnson. I had gone to a fundraising evening for another remarkable little person, Jacob Phillips. Jacob is now 3 years old but he was born with a form of cerebral palsy and needed a life-changing operation out in St. Louis in America. His parents and grandparents are very good friends of mine and I have beejacobn actively attending fundraiser activities for Jacob over the past year. In fact, my son raised over a £1000 by doing a sponsored swim for him way back when the fundraising activities first begun. So proud of him! They needed to raise £70,000 to cover the operation and follow-on treatment and are well on target thanks to the generosity of  people out there. We hear enough about the bad that goes on in the world but the good out weighs the bad by a multitude!  By the way, you can check out Jacob’s Journey and read his story here  or follow his progress on Face Book.

Let’s get back to the evening. Paul and I ended up sitting on the same table at the fundraising evening. As we got talking I realised that Paul couldn’t see me. Paul was born without sight, but despite this he is a DJ on a local radio station and spends his spare time collecting for charity having done everything from sponsored walks to even driving a car (off road of course) to raise money for worthy causes. He is constantly promoting local talent on his radio show and has a huge following. Read about Paul’s visit to the Paul O’Grady show here.

 

radio tircoed

During the evening we talked about all manner of things and I mentioned that I was assistant director of a play that was soon to open at my local AmDram theatre, Neath Little Theatre. I was invited on to Paul’s show to promote the play and the theatre, which I eagerly accepted. It was a great experience and incredible to see Paul at work. I was amazed at the studiodj – quite state of the art considering how small it is, very professional with some great people there. I instantly knew that I wanted to be a part of it! Having never done anything like ‘Djing’ in my life before, I was offered training by Mike, the station manager, and I now find myself on air once a week with Mike on the Breakfast Show and loving every minute of it! I will be hosting my own slot in September for 6 weeks on a Wednesday afternoon from 1pm – 3pm covering for one of our DJs who is off to Australia for a visit. So as I said way back at the beginning of the blog, we are never too old to try new things!

quote

 

From Hot Tub to Campervan!

So it’svan MOT time! I now have plenty of time to go nagging the doctor to check out wear and tear of this poor body that has been neglected for the past 35 years due to work commitments and that dreadful saying “I just don’t have the time to go to the doctor!”I have been having a niggling pain in my groin and hip for a few years now so it was time to sort it out! Well, it’s arthritis of the hip – also known as wear and tear – and one day I will need a hip replacement! Just keep taking the tablets in the meantime. It was a sunny day and on the way back from the hospital I had planned to go looking for an all singing, all dancing hot tub!! A present from me to me using up all my retirement money. I have no concept of money and lovvan 1e to spend it when I have it. So on the way to the show room I decided to call in and look at camper vans, as one does! It took me 25 minutes only to leave that garage having put down a deposit on a VW T4 camper van! Oh my!! I fell in love with it!!! I didn’t drive it, try it out, ask many questions – not at all. I  was a salesman’s dream come true when out tumbled those beautiful words of which I had no control – I’ll take it!!

A bit of mechanical work, an awning, camping equipment, wet suit, body board, table, chairs, CDs and a year later I can pronounce myself as one happy camper! One very happy camper! I love my van! I use it for a few night’s break or for day trips. I take anyone who dares step inside with me including my 95 year old mother and 15 year old son.

20150808_174508.jpg20150808_174444.jpg

 

 

 

 

I have always wanted a camper and now I have one! Living in Wales, we are very fortunate to have some of the most beautiful scenic routes in the world and we don’t have to drive too far to find them.

brecon          20150807_15164120150908_151115          20150908_17164520140806_122246          20140805_150226.jpg

We also love to have animals block our roads for a few minutes!!

20150807_165219.jpg  20140805_172719

My son and I are off to the Belgian GrandPrix at the end of the month so the old van is currently at the garage having its MOT and a service but I shall still be taking out a Relay Cover with the AA just in case and then off we go!! I shall no doubt track our journey and report back at a later date!

First Steps – Flower arranging

What I found very disturbing after I escaped the big black hole was that I was unable to read! After having spent years reading books and documents and papers to do with Education, and years of reading paperback and novels for enjoyment, and not as enjoyable books I was forced to read for my English course at college, now here I was unable to sustain the concentration to read more than a few words on a paper!! Ok. No worries the reading crisis would have to be dealt with at later date.

So, the first thing I did ‘Out of my Comfort Zone’ was to join a Flower Arranging course!

flower arrangingEveryone I know, close family and friends, split their sides at hearing this as, to be fair, I am not exactly the most visually creative person to walk this earth. My hands are not delicate and I am very messy! I have no particular interest in flowers per say and quite happy to buy a bunch and dump them in a vase of water, place them on the hearth or a windowsill and enjoy the sight. So, off I went! A complete novice! Wow! Wow! Wow!! When I got home after that first lesson, I can honestly say that I thought my head would not get in through that back door. I couldn’t believe that I had created such a thing of beauty! I had never imagined that arranging flowers could give such pleasure and boost confidence and pride!! A year on, I still attend classes, own a complete set of new tools, ravage my garden of every bit of colour that pops out of the ground ( much to my mother’s dismay, but well worth it when I see the pleasure and delight in her eyes when a beautiful arrangement is presented to her on a weekly basis! ) I have even been asked to arrange the flowers for a September wedding!! So there you go!!

My new found entrepreneurial head is now seeing pound signs! I’m not dismissing the idea of making money in phase three of my life. In fact, at the speed I am spending it I will no doubt be looking for some kind of employment over the next 5 years to supplement my income. Mmmmm on line flower arranger is beginning to sound good!

Here is a collage of some of my arrangements. I made the top left hand corner arrangement as a present for my sister’s 60th birthday. ‘Tea and Cakes’. She was delighted, I’m happy to say. The bottom middle one was made for a cousin who had no idea what to take to his auntie’s 85th birthday so we nipped into town,bought a few flowers and …. dah dah! A nice arrangement just looks so impressive and really, who doesn’t like a room with some flowers in it?

flower collage

I have a great teacher. His name is Jonathan Lloyd Davies! He lives and breathes flowers and makes the art of arranging look so simple. jonathanHe is so patient and simply wonderful. Check out his website here

 

I have now been asked to create a bouquet for my friend’s September wedding!! The is my first commission!! Yikes. But I’ll do it! There is no room for negativity!

Where to Begin??

So begins the new phase of life. How exciting!! Naturally it was all very strange to begin with, and horror of horrors  shock I personally have a smaller cash flow than I have been used to. However, the key is to keep positive. Enjoy! Don’t rush into doing anything straight off. Take some lessons, go on courses – you’ll get cheaper ones now as you have retired-  think of something you have always wanted to do but just haven’t had the time to do so. Explore the world outside of the work place. Cast your mind back to when you were much younger. Did you have a dream back then that has been filed away and forgotten? Reach out now and make that dream come true.

Remember – Retire from work, but not from life. ~M.K. Soni

sundowner

Listen to these videos! Life goes on!

Check out Twitter and see what the plethora of retired  people have to say about their change of life. Quite inspiring!!

People say the happiest people are single people and that is 100 % FALSE. The happy people are retired people.

— Sarah Jane (@SJ4454) 27 April 2016

What do you think? Leave me a comment!

ME

Having recently retired ( early retirement, I must add!) I have decided to make a great leap of faith and move away from my comfort zone and embrace a very different life-style from the one that I have lived for the las last 25  years of my life! No more alarm clock morning calls, 8 am – 6pm at the work place followed by 2hrs of rushed family time, and then night time planning for the following day ending in 6 hrs sleep until hey presto the alarm clock morning call again!

good morning

No! Finished! Gone!!  No more of the life as I knew it but unchartered territory awaits full of wrapped up surprises waiting to be opened! I hope! We are never too old to make these changes, believe me! Having spent 2 years in a wilderness after finally crawling out of a big, deep, bottomless, black,  bleak hole, I now find myself, at last, enjoying this new journey or this new path of life I am embarking upon. It’s not all plain sailing and easy but it is exciting. It is also the next chapter of my journey through life and for this part, I shall begin recording it! I am no expert at life, that’s for sure, but I can honestly say that there is such a beautiful day-time world out there that I hadn’t experienced before or even known was there until I tumbled off that torturous treadmill of my stressful daily routine. It’s wonderful and I am so happy to be here to enjoy it.

Please join me on my journey. Talk to me, contribute to my blog, tell me about you. I will not be offering great words of wisdom or advice on how to live your life but I hope that maybe I can be a companion to you and you to me, as we new ‘retirees’ begin this new phase of our lives! Happy retirement to one and all!

banner