Summer Holiday 2014.

Where to start with this years holiday? I suppose the beginning is the best place. I’ll try not to bore you too much with it, and I’ll put in a few pictures to make it interesting. We all got up at 3am as we had to leave at 3.45-4am to drive to the airport. Mark’s dad kindly took us. The M25 is lovely at that time of the morning. We arrived at the airport in good time and after we’d gone through the security (Mark got beeped, and had to have the full body scan). We sat down for breakfast in one of the many restaurants. Our flight was 6.40am which took off on time to fly to Seville. When we arrived in Seville, we had a taxi driver with our name on a board waiting for us and he took us to our hotel. We planned on staying in Seville for 3 days to look around and see the sights. It’s a place we’ve never been to before and finally we managed to get there. Our hotel was wonderful, very posh. We had 2 adjoining rooms, so the kids had one room and Mark and I had the other. We could go from room to room very easily, it was the perfect set up. Whilst we were in Seville, we looked round the Seville Cathedral, which is huge and amazing. So much gold about, but all behind locked doors. They had services each evening, but you could still go in and walk around when they were going on. Not sure if it was distracting for the worshippers, but then I guess they’re used to that as it happens all the time.

Inside the Seville Cathedral. Even if you're not religious it's an amazing place...loads of gold though.

Inside the Seville Cathedral. Even if you’re not religious it’s an amazing place…loads of gold though.

They have the tomb of Christopher Columbus inside, which is being held up by 4 stone kings (they have crowns on). His tomb is huge, so he must have been a rather large chap. We then went up the 34 levels and 17 odd steps up the Giralda Tower, so I could see the bells. The 34 levels are like going up a car park level, there are no steps. This is because they wanted to ride a horse up to the top, and horses can only cope with slopes not steps. It did make climbing much easier, I’m not sure how a horse would have managed it because the turns were fairly tight. Still we all made it to the top and I could look at all the bells. They were all mechanised so I couldn’t show off my ringing skills. Actually there are no rings of bells in Spain that you can ring as we do in the UK. There used to be a tower in Madrid, but they’re classed as un ring-able. Maybe the Segrada Familia will have a ring of bells that need people rather than a machine.

Some of the bells in the Giralda Tower. Some were tiny and others were huge. There were about 30 be

Some of the bells in the Giralda Tower. Some were tiny and others were huge. There were about 30 bells in total.

We then popped along to the Plaza de Espana, which is where they filmed some of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Don’t ask me which bit, but Mark is a huge Star Wars fan, so we couldn’t go to Seville without going there. I have my bells, Mark has his movie locations. We also went on a boat round the moat, Emily wouldn’t use the oars, George was good, but only as good as the person guiding him (I was good at that). Mark had a go with the oars, and George tried to guide him, but they both got distracted by stuff and we kept crashing into the side. Mark kept using port and starboard…left and right works best for me. Needless to say it was fun if a little testing at time, but I guided Mark back to the beginning with precision and we got off the boat without anyone falling overboard at any time.

The Plaza de Espana, which is now used as the government offices.

The Plaza de Espana, which is now used as their  government offices.

We also walked around various gardens, it’s surprising that in a country that is so hot (it was anywhere between low to mid 30’s) that there is quite a lot of greenery about. They have water sprinklers going for most of the day, so if you manage to get in the right position by one of the sprinklers, then you can have a cool down as they go past. We also visited a history museum which was free to enter, but we only really went in to cool off. However, I think they’d polished the floors so much that all our trainers made loud squeaky noises when ever we walked about, so it became a bit of a laugh, and we all started to giggle.

Loads of fun in Seville, if rather hot.

Loads of fun in Seville, if rather hot.

Then it was time to leave Seville and drive the 355 miles across Spain to my parents villa. On the way we stopped off at The Alhambra to see this amazing Moorish palace, and have lunch and an ice cream before we drove the final leg of our journey.

One of the courtyards in The Alhambra. Don't sit down in the wrong place otherwise you'll get told off.

One of the courtyards in The Alhambra. Don’t sit down in the wrong place otherwise you’ll get told off.

Motorway driving in Spain is a joy! Once you’ve got used to being on the wrong side of the road, it’s very easy. The motorways are very quiet, makes me wonder what they’d think of the M25 if they ever had to drive on it. They’d most probably think they’d arrived in hell!! Mark and I shared the driving so one could relax whilst the other one concentrated on the driving and handed out sucky sweeties. The Alhambra was very pleasant, but you weren’t allowed to walk through the gardens with an ice cream? I’m not sure what they thought you’d do, but because George ate his faster than he’d planned, he ended up with a nose bleed. This did not make me very happy, and I was tempted to show the evidence to the man who insisted on us eating our treat too fast, but didn’t know the phrase for *******! Enough said!! I think I said to Mark “This wouldn’t happen at a National Trust place”. The Alhambra was a very pretty place, but all the rooms were the same, and once you’d seen about 4 you’d seen them all. There were little courtyards to sit down in, that were in the shade. I sat down in the wrong place, and got told off by a jobs worth guard. You can’t take me anywhere!! If you do go there, make sure you take a map, as the sign posts are none existent, and we got lost. Also you have to pay to get in (this I understand) but also have to pay for the car park (this I thought was a bit of a cheek, as how else are you supposed to get there?) So after wandering round for about 3 hours, getting told off by various people, the kids were knackered so we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way to a waiting pool.

Two very tired kids.

Two very tired kids.

We finally arrived at my parents about 10pm, all exhausted and very hungry. Mum had got Spaghetti Bolognese ready for us which we ate very fast. Then after a good nights sleep our relaxing part of the holiday could begin. The rest of the holiday was spent catching up on the latest bits of news and gossip, sitting in the sun and shade when it got too hot. The kids were in and out the pool like yoyo’s and when they were out the pool the grown ups got in and spent some time swimming calmly until they all came back in usually with a splash.

The pool in all it's glory, heated only by the sun. It was about 29 degrees most days, perfect.

The pool in all it’s glory, heated only by the sun. The water was about 29 degrees most days, perfect.

We were all there, my sister and her 2 boys, and her eldest sons girlfriend as well as us 4. So in total 10! We all pitched in to help with cooking and various things so it wasn’t all on one person. George spent much of his time in the pool practicing diving, and bombing. I can’t dive to save my life, but he’s really good at it, especially penguin dives. He was having a problem with his trunks as he’s so skinny it’s very difficult to find any that fit him snuggly enough, so we had lots of incidents when he lost his trunks when he did a dive.

With trunks still on, but not for long!!

With trunks still on, but not for long!!

We went to the beach, shopping, went out for lunch and I got a bit tipsy (had to have a sleep in the afternoon), visited my auntie and uncle in the next village and they came to us, and various other things. But a perfect relaxing time was had by all. Most of the time was spent in the pool. On the day before we left to come home the temperature was 38 degrees, and even I said it was too hot!! We left when the temperature in Spain was 34, and arrive back in Gatwick to 18!! What’s that all about? It’s so cold!! A huge, massive thank you to Mum and Dad for such a perfect holiday. Keep the pool warm til we come out next year. Oh, and send some sun our way please, and a bit of heat would be good to.

 

 

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Don’t worry allotment, Auntie Michelle will look after you.

I popped up the allotment today to do a last minute check and harvest before we go on holiday. It’s all growing really well, and as we’ve had loads of rain in the past few days there was no need to water. Hopefully the weather will be kind to the allotment when we’re away this time. I harvested some more green Climbing French Beans, just enough for us to have with dinner and then had a good look round my plots to do a final check. When we go away to Spain my wonderful sister looks after my allotment and my garden at home. It’s a huge ask for her as it does take all morning or all afternoon. But she is very welcome to take whatever produce she needs or wants for her troubles. I also tend to buy her a little gift of some sort as well, because of what she has to do. So as I left this morning I told the allotment, not to worry when I’m away because auntie Michelle knows exactly what she’s doing and will look after them all really well. When I told Mark this, he though I was rather odd (no change there) and that the plants don’t know you’re away. But they do know!! It’s great to be able to leave it all in the capable hands of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. I wouldn’t trust many other people with it all. So we’re nearly packed, just the last minute toiletries to put in, a very early night as we have to get up about 3am to leave by 4am!! I think a snooze on the plane is in order. This year we’re spending 3 days in Seville, then stopping off at Granada on the way to mum and dad’s. Oh the pool is beckoning. Oh the joy of loads of sun and the odd spit spot of rain (which doesn’t happen very often). See you in Spain!!

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A weekend of two halves!!

Well what a weekend. Two contrasting days at both ends of the spectrum. So let me begin at the beginning, which is usually the best place to start. Saturday was beautiful and sunny, very warm, and the perfect day to have our allotment Summer Fete. We had a BBQ, Tombola, Cake sale, Guess the weight of the Cake, and a Bric a Brac stall. Loads of plot holders came and lots of fun was had by all. A huge thank you to everyone who came and also helped set up and make the day so much fun. Then came Sunday….well, when I woke this morning the sun was not shining, in fact it was pouring with rain. This I was none to pleased about as I had planned on walking the 24 miles from my house to Nymans as part of my training for my Shine Walk in about a months time. The rain had eased by the time I left just after 9am, but I wasn’t taking any chances so borrowed Marks waterproof as mine isn’t waterproof anymore.

Waterproof on I plodded on!!

Waterproof on, and I plodded on!!

Now as I walked the rain came and went. I had my instructions on Google Maps, but every time I looked at them the rain hit the screen and made it move. This isn’t good when you need to know where you’re going.  But I soldiered on and then the wind started to blow rather strongly. This wasn’t going to put me off after all I create enough wind myself. It then came to the point where I had to cross a rather busy main road and then use some rather narrow roads. Google Maps had suddenly gone from my phone. Where it had gone I have no idea. Now I’m rather lost without it, and as I was trying to re install it there were a couple of flashes of lightning and a rather large rumble of thunder and then the heavens really opened. Oh my!! There I was not knowing where I could shelter, with a storms brewing over head. So after about an hour and a half of walking I phone Mark to come and get me. I found a petrol station to shelter in as I waited for him to arrive. A massive thank you to the men in the petrol station who didn’t mind a very wet bedraggled figure making their floor very wet. When I got home I went straight in a lovely hot bath with a currant bun and a cup of tea. Now after lunch and a little nap I feel much better. The sun’s shining now, but I’m not going out for a walk now it’s too late. I’ll try that walk another time.

A very appropriate t-shirt for a very appropriate day's weather.

A very appropriate t-shirt for a very appropriate day’s weather.

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The robots have arrived!!

If you look on the Pinewood Pictures website, they are listing Robot Overlords!!!! You have 10 seconds to click on the link….… This you’ll understand when you’ve seen the film. I’ll let you know when it’s out.

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Thursday 7th August 2014 – Pumpkins are doing fabulously!!

Having dropped the kids off at the park this morning (it’s on the way to the allotment), I left them there to play whilst I went to see how the allotment was getting on. My Pumpkins are growing amazingly well. I’ve not taken any photos of them as I want to surprise you with their size when I finally harvest them. I’ve got loads growing, some are green and others are orange. They should all be orange, so I don’t quite know what’s happened there, never mind. I also harvested some more Climbing French Beans and some more Dwarf French Beans. The climbing ones are still going strong, but the dwarf ones are coming to the end. They have produced loads this year and I’m very pleased with them. Also my Tomtatoes are growing well. Well the Tomatoes on the top are doing well, I have no idea what is happening below the soil. I harvested about a dozen Tomatoes and we had most of those for lunch. When I’d finished at the allotment I went back to the park to find the kids. They were both very hungry (no surprise there) so we all ate several French Beans on our way home. Emily said “I do like your French Beans mummy”, to which I replied, “I’m so glad, I did grow them all myself you know.”

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Our trip to Scotney Castle, Kent.

Today the kids and I went to Scotney Castle near Tunbridge Wells, Kent. It’s a really beautiful fairy tale place, and has only been opened to the public for the last 6 or 7 years. It’s National Trust, so we don’t have to pay to get in. Great news as it would have cost us just under £30 for us to get in, and then £3 for parking. Worth every penny if you do have to pay, but a massive bonus if you don’t. So armed with our map we went a wandering. Firstly to the Old Castle and Moat that was built in the 1300’s. It’s such a rickety old building, with lots of cupboards that the kids said were great to put “Naughty children in!!” I know some children I’d like to put in the naughty cupboard and then leave there for a long time. George found the loos, well he would wouldn’t he. Not like ours of course, just some holes over the moat. I can’t imagine what those smelt like!! The after we’d looked around we sat on a bench just outside the Castle and ate our picnic lunch. Then we went wandering round the grounds.

The Old Castle and Moat.

The Old Castle and Moat.

We found a little boat house, that to be honest looked like something the 7 dwarfs would have lived in. We then came across a rather bizarre Henry Moore sculpture, which we weren’t sure what it was supposed to be, but it looked rather interesting. An amazing quarry garden that I could have lived in it was so beautiful. There were steps going here and there and plants growing out of every crevasse in the rocks.

The perfect quarry garden. I could have got very lost in there if it wasn't for our map.

The perfect quarry garden. I could have got very lost in there if it wasn’t for our map.

The views of the surrounding grounds were beautiful. George found the perfect old Oak tree to make a tree house in. The tree was 250-300 years old, and the branches were so gnarled it looked like it would come to life during a full moon. And finally before we left we went into the walled garden. It was so beautiful, the perfect vegetable plot. All sorts of fruit and vegetable were growing from Rhubarb, Chillies, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale and Carrots. All in perfect rows with raised beds with herbs in. I was in heaven. Instead of using little plastic labels to show were everything was planted they used plates!! Ingenious!! I may pinch that idea, very easy to see and you can write in large letters.

Now where can I get some cheap white plates? I know Ikea!!

Now where can I get some cheap white plates? I know Ikea!!

Then it was a quick trip to the shop. As the kids had been so good I bought them some jelly beans, and as Mark had to work so couldn’t come with us I got him some Rocky Road chocolate slab. I can’t have him missing out on all the fun, he would sulk. George was very quiet on the way home in the back seat. When I asked Emily why that was, well you can see for yourself…..

Even when they're 12, they still fall asleep in the car.

Even when they’re 12, they still fall asleep in the car.

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Friday 1st August 2014 – Beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat the more you….

Not that we need any help with that in our house!! But I popped up the allotment this morning to do some harvesting and to generally see how everything was behaving itself. Very well from what I saw. I harvested a load of French beans, which I have now taken the tops off and they are now in the freezer until we need them for dinner. I managed to harvest 2lb 12oz of Dwarf Purple French beans and 3lb 10oz of Climbing Green French beans. So I think that’s enough to keep us going for quite a while. There are still lots more to come. It doesn’t matter if your french beans go too far, they don’t get stringy like Runner beans do. I then dug up some Potatoes, mainly rogue ones that I forgot last year. I got some rather sizeable ones, so that’s potatoes for dinner sorted out for the next few days. Then finally I had a look round my plots to see how all the other veg were getting on. The Pumpkins are growing very well. I have loads growing, all of varying sizes.

Pumpkins are growing well, here are a couple to show you. I do have an even bigger on, but I'm keeping that a secret.

Pumpkins are growing well, here are a couple to show you. I do have an even bigger one, but I’m keeping that a secret.

Also my Butternut Squash are growing well. I have loads of flowers and I found 3 little ones growing. Hopefully I’ll get loads this year as they keep for ages in a frost free place over the winter. We do like to roast them with chicken.

Two baby butternut squash growing. Keep growing my beauties.

Two baby butternut squash growing. Keep growing my beauties.

But everything else is doing well, so I’m a very happy little lass. I also harvest some more Cucamelons from the greenhouse, they’re prolific growers, and I’ve got loads of Tomatoes growing to. So all in all it’s progressing very nicely. Long may it last.

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