Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Long Wet Summer :(

Well we are back from our summer holiday and although we enjoyed ourselves, there was one major draw back, it rained every single day. Some days just  drizzle or two to let us know it was there, other days we were treated to the full force of Mother Nature, Thunder, lightening, rain, torrential rain. We became expert at dodging the weather!!

Our holiday started on a wet Saturday two weeks ago, we drove 280 miles to Holyhead in Wales. We were  driving to Ireland. The holiday was a bargain, we rented two cottages in different parts of Ireland and paid with them with our Tesco Club card vouchers!! All we had to pay for was petrol and food. 

We arrived in Dublin in the afternoon and drove north to the first cottage in the little town of Castle Blaney, it was a fairly easy drive up the M1 towards Belfast. The cottage was lovely, very well equip and comfortable. It had full central heating, which by the end of the week we were using on a daily basis!
You can check out the cottage HERE It was spacious only four of us rattling around in a cottage for 10!!

On the first day we were tired so decided to take a drive to the nearest beach which was around 20 miles away, it was a quaint little town in County Meath called Bettystown!!!

We went to the beach which was just about deserted and totally windswept!

It was freezing cold so after a brisk walk we headed into the town and Beth found a mini fun fair, where she seemed to be the only person who wanted to ride on anything!!

You can see from the stunning blue sky what the weather was like!! We went back to the cottage and realised that it was really winter and not summer and put on the central heating!!!

The next day we headed for Belfast and the Titanic exhibition. 

This year The Titanic has been in the news, its a hundred years since the ship sank on its maiden voyage. It was built in Belfast and the exhibition was on the original construction site. Its a really popular exhibition and we were on the way where I thought I would check out if pre booking was needed, thank goodness for iphones and the likes because I had to book our tickets on line, by the time we got there (in the pouring rain) it was fully booked!

We walked around the exhibition, it was very good the building was full of information about its construction and about the passengers, there was a ride that took us through the construction process. Outside there was a representation of the ship laid out in the pavement. The tall brown spires in the above photo represented the launch path of the ship when she left Belfast.

Tom is looking over the front of the ship, his Kate Winslet moment!!!

Before we left we stopped for tea in the very elegant restaurant, drank out of cups like those that went down with the Titanic, it was a nice end to the trip.

While we were looking around we noticed that there were some television vans outside, the ones with the big satellite dishes on the side. There were loads of Police around, so we were wondering what was going. Later that night we were watching the news when there was an report welcoming back the Irish Olympic team, they were invited to a reception at the exhibition.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Olympic Fever.

This year has been dominated by The Olympics. For a long while I have been involved with various aspects of the games in a planning capacity. I really wanted to go and see something, but was not lucky enough to be allocated any tickets. I went to the local flame relay and that made me feel even more like going to see something, but the reality is that the tickets are still very hard to come by even though Lord Coe assured us all that there were thousands of tickets released for sale every evening.
Finally I hit upon a great idea that I was sure no one else would have thought of, the men's Triathlon. This race was to take place in a largely public arena, Hyde Park in London. The web site said that 90% of the course was not ticketed so all I had to do was turn up and grab a piece of the action. I was certain that there wouldn't be too many people there, so I talked Tom into attending with me!!
Tom drove to Cockfosters underground station and he parked, while I went into the station to buy the tickets. There was a good ten minutes before the train was due to leave. I was pleased to be on the way. As I reached the stairs down into the station I had to join a queue, already my plan of being one of only a few people turning out was looking dodgy. By the time I got to the ticket office the train had long gone, the automatic ticket machine had given up the ghost and the poor bloke in the kiosk was frazzled.
We eventually bought our tickets and headed for the train. We were right at the start of the line and had 20 stations until we got to Hyde park. We had a seat, but by the next station the train was heaving with people carrying flags and deck chairs, all it seems, heading for Hyde Park.

The train got busier and busier and by the time we got to Hyde park there were thousands of people, so many that they closed the station to people trying to get on so that they could use the entrance as an exit! We joined the crowds and shuffled along up the escalator and stairs and out onto the street. On the street we were greeted by 'games makers' who directed us into the park. We managed to find ourselves a spot right on the barrier and waited. 

The crowds got thicker and thicker, we chatted with people on either side of us, a family from Kent, two mums with small children who had no idea what was happening (the children not the mums!!) A family from the Netherlands. Everyone was chatting and cheering the Police Officers cycling up and down. One of the 'Games Makers' got a Mexican wave going, it was a fantastic atmosphere!!

Someone nearby told us that the swimming part of the Triathlon was finishing and that they would be on the way soon. Within minutes the first cyclists appeared.....

We were pleased to see that one of the Brownlee brothers was up there with the pacemaker.

It wasn't easy to take photos, they were so fast and gone in a flash, that combined with the wriggling children  in front of us made it very hit and miss!!! I took loads of photos and got a few I was happy with.

The camera car was from Belgium, why?? don't we have any of our own???

After the cycling we left as the crowds were just too much to go to the running part of the race, Hyde Park station was still closed so we were directed to Knightsbridge, on the way we passed the Korean base hotel, they were putting on a show and inviting people in to view their team and stars!

Once we got down to the platform the first train back to Cockfosters was too packed to get on, so we got the second one which was supposed to go to Cockfosters but during the journey decided to terminate at Arsenal, so we all had to get off and wait for the next train. That was packed we got on, and that terminated at Oakwood, one stop from Cockfosters, so we had to change again. 

I am glad that I went, it was tiring but well worth the experience. Best of all it only cost us the price of the train ticket, I am just disappointed that so many other people had the same good idea as me!!!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Missing for a while.....

This summer seems to be flying past, I am finding it hard to keep up!! Right back at the beginning it seemed like it was going to be a long 'warm' summer, but instead of that we have had a wet summer, a damp thundery summer. On Friday on the spur of the moment we decided to visit Tom's sister and husband in Whitby. He did all the driving  and  I was lucky enough to be a lady of leisure in the passenger seat!! In all he drove around 500 miles on the return trip!!

Whitby was nice as always, with for a change a patch of lovely weather, we actually got down to the beach for a couple of afternoons, it was packed and the sun kept appearing from behind the clouds.

We sat near to the inflatable slide which was great for people watching, it was funny watching people approach the slide, ask the price and then decide if it was worth paying the money for a couple of minutes peace. Some of the kids went on and got straight off again, they didn't get value for money!!!

We went on a little boat trip, just out of the bay, around the Whitby Bell and back again. Its amazing how the recession has hit everywhere, a few years ago it was £3.50 each this time it was £2.50 ! Bargain!! The sea was really calm when we got on, but once we reached the open sea, it was a completely different and became a bit more exciting!! Its strange how different a trip in a small boat feels to a trip in a ship!!

On the way home we came across a beautiful field of poppies. I spotted it on the way to Whitby but we were past it before we could stop. On the way back I was on the lookout and found it with time to stop.
The poppies were well established and although there were lots of red ones, there were also a lot of poppy seed heads in the wheat, it was so pretty waving in the breeze.

Finally I have been making beads again, this time a special request from Mum who asked for a pink and white necklace, so I used some of my white beads with pink spots and some of my pink beads with white spots, she was happy with them, so I made the necklace with them and some faceted sparkly glass beads.