Isle of Man

September 21, 2020 4 comments
North Quay, Douglas

Everyone has heard of the Isle of Man – well, at least in relation to the TT races which take place there every year. Apart from that I knew nothing about the island until the authorities there agreed with Guernsey to have an ‘airbridge’ as both islands were Covid free with similar approaches to dealing with any new cases.

So, the chance to actually travel somewhere in 2020? No brainer really! We booked our flights and browsed hotels, eventually deciding on the Mannin Hotel in Douglas. We like to be fairly central when visiting somewhere new, and this was perfect as it also had an underground garage so no issues parking the hire car.

We arrived on the Wednesday lunchtime, 9 September, landing to sunshine which is always a good start. We collected our hire car and drove to the hotel to check in. We learned after booking the hotel that Douglas Promenade is currently undergoing major reconstruction so the view from our room wasn’t quite as picturesque as it could have been!

View from our hotel room – to the Promenade roadworks!

We decided to have a walk along the seafront and then through the town centre, taking advantage of the nice weather. We continued to North Quay, which is the restaurant and bar area on the waterside. We decided on the Little Fish Cafe for dinner, and of course had fish and chips which were delicious.

Day 2 – Thursday


After a lovely breakfast, we drove west to Peel. Pretty little town, with a lovely beach (although it was very cloudy that day). We strolled around the dock down to Peel Castle, which we went into. We paid £10 for a Manx Heritage badge, which gave us entry into all the Heritage sites and more than paid for itself over our visit. Peel Castle is more of a historic site than a castle, as there is little left other than walls. Interesting nonetheless. From there we paid the obligatory visit to Davison’s Ice Cream Parlour – it didn’t disappoint, with lovely ice cream!

From there, we drove south to Castletown. This was very quiet and we walked around, looking at the Old House of Keys (the original parliament building) and used our badges to get into Castle Rushen – a castle still relatively intact, with lovely views from the top.

View over Castletown from Castle Rushen

From there, we drove down to Castletown Golf Links and admired the view, before heading back to Douglas. Dinner was Chinese at the Majestic – just a few minutes walk along the Promenade from our hotel, and very good.

Day 3 – Friday

Today was due to rain, so we decided to go to the Isle of Man Motor Museum, which is known as a must-see when visiting the island. We drove north to Jurby and spent the next four hours (yes, four hours) wandering around a huge warehouse looking at hundreds of vehicles. If you visit the Isle of Man and have the slightest interest in cars or bikes, you must go.

Isle of Man Motor Museum

By the time we left the museum, it had stopped raining so we drove to the Point of Ayre which is the northernmost tip of the island before taking the mountain road south back to Douglas. Dinner that night was the Barbary Coast on North Quay – fantastic burgers!

Point of Ayre lighthouse

Day 4 – Saturday

We walked into town on Saturday after breakfast, to do some bits of shopping. Breakfast was a small one, as we were heading for Close Leece Farm for bacon sandwiches. We saw this on James Martin’s Islands to Highlands series when he came to the Isle of Man. It was so worth it – amazing bacon in soft fresh white bread. My mouth waters just thinking about it…. (There were other people there, I just took the opportunity for a nice photo when some people left!)

Close Leece Farm – the best bacon sandwiches

After our leisurely brunch – well we had to have cake afterwards, obviously – we drove back down the road to Archallagan Plantation. A wonderful forest that looks like something out of a film, and we walked around part of it.

Archallagan

From there we continued east to Laxey, arriving at the Wheel just after 4pm…..to find it closed at 4pm!

So we headed back to Douglas, via the Grandstand for the TT which was at the top of the road down to our hotel. We dined in the hotel restaurant that night, which was good – lovely fish pie!

Day 5 – Sunday

Our last full day in the Isle of Man. We decided to drive the remainder of the TT route that we hadn’t already covered. It’s incredible when you drive down normal roads with walls and houses, thinking that motorcycles go down those roads at 130 miles an hour!

We headed north to Ramsey, the only town we hadn’t visited. We found a pretty little coastal town, with a little harbour, a beautiful beach and promenade.

Ramsey beach/promenade

From there we drove south to Laxey again, to see the Wheel.

Laxey Wheel

We went ‘down the mine’ first, then climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the wheel. I’m not a big fan of heights but make myself do these things – although it was very windy that day, making it even scarier….

Laxey Mine
View from the top!

From there we continued south to Groudle Glen, hopefully to see the water wheel and the railway. Unfortunately, the pathway was diverted due to necessary work, and we finished up walking much further than we intended, along the streams and through the forest. The diversion meant that we couldn’t find the water wheel (although subsequently discovered that it’s being renovated at the moment so not there!) but we did come to a station and saw the steam train.

Groudle Glen

Dinner that night was Just Pizza and Pasta on North Quay. We had tried to eat here on Friday night, but it was fully booked – it was well worth the wait. Real pizza which was so light I ate most of it – unusual for me! We strolled back through Douglas to the hotel for the final time.

Douglas by night

Day 6 – Monday

We packed up and left the hotel, having decided to drive up to Snaefell, the highest peak on the island. We knew the railway wasn’t running, but hoped that we could drive to the top. We arrived at the junction that we’d driven through before but couldn’t find another road up. We drove up a track to a building, and discovered the memorial to Joey Dunlop. Speaking to some locals there, we learned that there is no vehicular access to the peak, it’s either by train or on foot (an hour’s walk). Given that you could see the cloud on the peak so views were unlikely, we abandoned the idea.

Joey Dunlop

From there we drove south to Cregneash, where there are traditional thatched cottages. There are tours when it’s open, but it was closed today so we just wandered around the lovely cottages.

Cregneash

Our final stopping point was the Sound – the southernmost tip of the island with a fantastic cafe and wonderful views. We even saw seals! Coffee and cake went down a treat before we headed for the airport for our flight home.

The Sound

We really enjoyed our few days in the Isle of Man. It’s a relatively quiet island and reminded us of Guernsey some 30 years ago. The population is around 85,000 so not much more than Guernsey but it’s four times the size! The roads are uncongested and the people are friendly. We had some lovely meals, although we did find eating out was a little expensive – more on a par with Guernsey, if not slightly more. We did all the sights and saw most of the island.

If there are direct flights again, we may return – if only to see the Promenade in all its glory when it’s finished! March next year apparently….

Flying home

Categories: travel Tags: , ,

2020 Global Pandemic – my thoughts on lockdown in Guernsey

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Guernsey Reservoir walk

Having watched the news in early 2020, like most of us we never thought the virus outbreak in China would affect us. How wrong were we? On 11 March, the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic, and on Wednesday 25 March 2020, the island of Guernsey was put into lockdown.

I had already been working from home since Monday 23 March. Bob works at Guernsey Airport on Operations, so was classed as a key worker – no change in routine for him.

Unfortunately I have no home office, so spent my days alternating between the sofa and standing up in the kitchen. I quickly discovered that I can do my job (for the most part) at home, with occasional trips to work’s temporary print hub for necessary printing. But I missed having two screens and I missed having a proper office chair – and I missed having people to talk to.

I rediscovered the radio during the day whilst working. I also kept the same morning routine although I stopped wearing make-up unless I was going out for anything other than a walk/run!

 

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Pebble towers which appeared around the coast

Thankful for : both still being in work so no financial worries; health; quiet roads; living in Guernsey which is (a) beautiful and (b) where the situation has been dealt with in a good and timely manner (thank you Gavin St Pier, Dr Nicola Brink, Heidi Soulsby and everyone involved).

Negatives : anxious about running; tired of hearing about ‘what to do with your spare time’; tired of seeing people’s lovely homes on Zoom/TV; and wishing I had a proper desk set-up.

Missed most : family dog walks on a Sunday morning; ice cream and a walk down to Castle Cornet; ‘popping to the shop’; having a garden; daily walking commute (never thought I’d say that) and listening to podcasts. I also missed my day’s shopping in Manchester on 24 March. This was to buy myself a ‘mother of the bride’ outfit for my daughter’s wedding on 23 May, no sorry, now 24 April 2021…..

Keeping busy : baking; cleaning the kitchen; clearing out the spare room; long coastal walks at the weekends; online learning/webinars; TV – thank goodness for Disney+ and a lot of films.

New likes : nice to see my colleagues’ faces on regular Zoom calls/quiz nights; standing on the doorstep at 8pm every Thursday evening, along with most of my neighbours, clapping for key workers; having the papers delivered every day; we managed to save some money; Captain Tom Moore for raising £30 million for NHS charities; beautiful flowers delivered from work for me – I was a ‘small win hero’ for Never failing to find a way to develop, learn and share information with colleagues, Julie Twist is a LinkedIn force to be reckoned with, and always makes an effort to create positivity.

Flowers

Working from home

New dislikes : realising that we are unlikely to be travelling this year, including the plan to go to Copenhagen for our 30th wedding anniversary; time-consuming shopping (joining a queue outside supermarkets to do essential food shopping – once a week, occasionally with a top-up); feeling for those who have lost their jobs; charities seeing fundraising plummet; no London Marathon/Wimbledon/boat race/running show/Eurovision and Olympics postponed till 2021.

Staying home – you realise that it’s the simple things in life. You also realise how much stuff you have that you really don’t need. I read that the world’s economy is struggling because we’re all only buying what we need….makes you think, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, Guernsey entered phase 5 of its lockdown strategy – life is normal within the Bailiwick. No Covid cases for 50+ days. Long may it continue. Travel will return eventually. Let’s hope we never have to live through something like this again.

I also wrote an article on LinkedIn from a work perspective, which was shared within my firm:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/working-from-home-pa-does-make-me-va-julie-twist

#GuernseyTogether

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Guernsey Together – a house round the corner from us

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Our rainbow – every house had one in their window!

 

 

Categories: Society Tags: ,

Madeira

January 30, 2020 Leave a comment

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View from Hillside Villa

Day 1

After a very early start on Friday 13 (!) December, we landed in a sunny Madeira around lunchtime, picked up our hire car and headed west towards our villa in Arco do Calheta. We couldn’t check in until later in the afternoon, but thought we would find it first, then explore the area a little. Having found it fairly easily, following the directions we were given by the owner, we drove back down to the coast into Calheta. Parking the car, we strolled around the marina and stopped at one of the restaurants for coffee and cake. By the time we finished, it was time to check into the villa, which was beautiful. We decided to have a quiet/early night as it had been a long day, so went back down to the supermarket we found in Calheta (Pingo Doce) and bought pizza for tea!

Day 2

20191214_153623Our first day to explore. We drove west then inland (steep roads!) and started a levada walk which was going to lead us to beautiful waterfalls. Sadly the rain started and we turned back as it got heavier – another day, we thought….. Being more or less in the centre of the island, we continued to drive north to Sao Vicente where we visited the volcanic caves. One thing I really wanted to see was the lovely traditional A frame houses. We weren’t far from Santana, so continued around the coast and stopped there. It was still raining so my photos didn’t quite have the blue sky I envisaged. We drove ‘home’ from there, and relaxed for an hour or two before driving down to Calheta marina where we had dinner at New Era. After we’d eaten, we strolled around Calheta and looked at their lovely Christmas lights and displays.

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Calheta Christmas display

Day 3

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View east towards Funchal from Cabo Girao

There was some blue sky to start with, so we drove to Cabo Girao viewpoint. This had amazing views towards Funchal although I was not keen on the glass bottomed section of the platform, walking briskly across it just to say I had! We continued into Funchal for a wander round the old town, looking at the colourful painted doors. We stopped at a small kiosk to have Bolo de Caco for lunch. This is a traditional Madeiran bread which we had with ham and cheese.  We walked through to the cathedral, and found traditional dancing going on, with a large crowd watching. There was a Christmas market too, with a very large Santa, and a big display in the park.  We walked down along the seafront, looking at the big Christmas displays – looking forward to seeing them lit up at night. We headed back to the villa, and the weather was so awful by then that we couldn’t face going out again for dinner, so bacon sarnies it was!

Day 4

 

Time for a bit of shopping (not least because of the continuing rain) and we went to Madeira Shopping which was excellent and we passed a leisurely couple of hours there, including pizza for lunch as we couldn’t resist when we found a Pizza Hut. From there we drove to Camara de Lobos which is a colourful fishing village – thankfully the rain stopped long enough to get some reasonable photos. Dinner that night was at New Era again as it was so good and not far away.

 

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Day 5

Today we drove east past Funchal to Garajau where there is a smaller version of Christ the Redeemer – quite something to see. Then we visited Monte Palace Tropical Gardens – absolutely stunning, with plants, water features and a terracotta army to say the least. We walked around the gardens and then walked through the Monte Palace hotel grounds to see the Church of our Lady of Monte, which was stunning inside. Overlooking the road from the church was a wonderful view over Funchal, and we saw the traditional wicker toboggan – not my idea of fun, plus we were a little concerned that the guys were clearly spending their day in the bar! We drove back down to Funchal and, as planned, had dinner in Funchal old town – Forno Napoliatano – then strolled around for ages looking at the fabulous Christmas lights in the town and on the seafront. Well worth seeing.

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Beautiful lights outside the cathedral

Day 6

Heading into Funchal, we stopped off at Forum Madeira shopping centre which wasn’t as big as we had anticipated. From there we drove into Funchal, and walked to the Mercado dos Lavradores – their fresh food market with wonderful displays of meat and fish, fruit, veg and flowers.  Dodging the rain, we had lunch at Casa de Bolo de Caco. After tasty bolo de caco we couldn’t resist a pastel de nata to follow – well, we had to fill our time somehow while we waited for the rain to hopefully stop! After waiting for several minutes for the rain to ease, we went to find Livreria Esperanca – supposedly the largest book store in Portugal. I was looking forward to this, but was decidedly disappointed – it may be large but it was in a very old, very damp building and given the rain, it was clear that the roof leaks copiously. We left there and continued to La Vie shopping centre which was worth a visit. After leaving there, we sheltered in the entrance to an underground garage when the rain became torrential. Heading back to the car once the rain eased a little, we stopped at the cathedral to see inside. Tired of getting wet, we ate in the villa that night!

Day 7

Our last full day – and yes, it was still raining. We had arranged to meet friends in Funchal and have some lunch. By the time we had parked in Funchal, the rain had stopped thankfully. We met our friends by the cathedral, and walked through the Old Town and stopped at Estrela do Mar. We had a long and leisurely lunch with lovely food – watching the torrential rain every now and again! Our friends are local to us, although Guida is Madeiran by birth so her family live here. It was her birthday that day and we were joining them for dinner with the rest of her family at Santo Antonio. This restaurant had no menu (that we saw!) and had the hooks for the espetadas on all the tables. We were brought a selection of vegetables and chips and they just kept bringing more food! Dessert was birthday cake of course.

Heading home

We packed up and headed for the airport. Of course, the sun was shining….. We had a couple of hours in Gatwick before our final flight home.

We enjoyed our week, but the weather was a great shame. Madeira is beautiful but sadly we didn’t see it at its best. We didn’t manage any Levada walks which I was looking forward to, but managed most of the other things we wanted to see and do, so we don’t think we will return. Christmas week (the week after) it was apparently 27 degrees – that would have been nice…..

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The rest of my photos are on Flickr here

Categories: Around the world, travel Tags: ,

Florida

January 12, 2020 Leave a comment

 

My favourite holiday destination, especially when it’s four of us – me and my husband, and our daughter and her fiancé.

It had been a long countdown, with a couple of setbacks which meant we had to reschedule, but we were finally on our way. We always fly Virgin Atlantic, and for the first time we used the V Room in Gatwick, and had decided to fly Premium Economy.  Prosecco at 10am – yes please! After the long flight, we picked up our hire car and headed for the hotel – All Stars Resort, where we usually stay – and then on to Magic Kingdom which is always our first stop. This was our first time visiting for Halloween – loved the theming!

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Day 1

Our first morning and we were up early for a character breakfast at Ohana’s – with Mickey and friends, including Lilo and Stitch. Fabulous breakfast! After we’d finished, we headed to Epcot for a couple of hours before going back to the hotel for a swim. Then it was time for shopping! Nike Factory Store and a wander around Old Town Kissimmee before dinner at Uno, one of our favourite restaurants.

Day 2

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Don’t you just hate Mondays……not when you’re in Florida! This morning was an early start – we were going to Galaxy’s Edge! It’s just amazing to walk into, you don’t know where to look first. We joined the queue for Smugglers Run and the chance to drive the Millennium Falcon. I was an engineer and the whole experience was just brilliant. I also couldn’t resist the most expensive bottle of Coke I’ll ever buy…. (I can’t remember but about $6 I think!)

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From there we went to Animal Kingdom to see Pandora, which wasn’t finished the last time we were in Florida. Visually stunning (we also went back one evening later in the week to see it in the dark) and we also did Flight of Passage (everyone raves apparently but I just thought it was ok) and the Navi River Ride and the obligatory roller coaster – Expedition Everest.

Time for a bit more shopping at an outlet mall, with dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack on International Drive. Then our first game of mini golf at Pirates Cove.

Day 3

This was golf day for my husband, so he was up very early. I decided to get up after he had left to go for a run around the resort. I enjoyed my run – apart from the fact that I managed to trip over. I was more annoyed about my brand new leggings which now had holes in the knees! Once the men came back from golf, we went to Disney Springs for some lunch and little more shopping. Back to the resort for some down time before Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which was great fun – we came back with so much chocolate!

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Day 4

20190911_122510Time for a Denny’s breakfast so we headed to International Drive before driving east to Cocoa Beach. We always make the journey to Ron Jon’s when we visit Florida and spend a long time wandering around admiring t-shirts, surf boards and everything else – it’s a huge store on two levels. After that we drove to Cocoa Beach Pier, strolling down to the end where there was a bar. We sat with a cocktail while the men swam – I think we got that right! Dinner in Applebees on International Drive before driving back to Animal Kingdom to see Pandora at night – just beautiful – then a dash to Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. You can’t say we don’t cram things in when we visit Florida!!

 

 

 

 

Day 5

I have an old school friend who lives in Florida, and we always meet up in Ghirardelli’s cafe at Disney Springs for a milkshake and good catch-up.

After lunch at Dennys, we drove to a mall, and to Golf Galaxy, a large golf shop that my husband loves.

We spent the evening in Epcot World Showcase for the Food & Wine Festival, tasting some lovely food. We visited ‘Mexico’ which we’d not done before, and loved all the Dia de los Muertos themed merchandise, and then watched Illuminations for the final time as the show is changing soon.

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Day 6

Back to Hollywood Studios this morning and we went into Toy Story Land – another new venue since last time we visited. Slinky Dog Dash is great fun and Toy Story Mania is always a must-do for us.

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Then it was fast pass time for our drink in Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge. Fabulous interior but they should have the band – and it’s very crowded (you have to book your time slot which is only 45 minutes). After further exploring Galaxy’s Edge, we drove to International Drive for Congo River mini golf and a visit to a Super Target. We love wandering around supermarkets wherever we’re on holiday!

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Friday night means Old Town Kissimmee, preceded by a visit to Pizza Hut. It’s tradition. We spent time in the Hot Spot theme park first (the men did the big wooden roller coaster – not me…) then we get a drink and stroll around looking at all the wonderful American muscle cars, both classic and modern. We walk back up the inner street looking at the shops while we wait for the cars to cruise up the street at the end of the night.

Day 7 – midpoint and change of scenery

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This trip we had decided to stay at two hotels for the first time – one in Disney and one in Universal. After our first week in Disney’s All Stars, today we packed up and moved to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal. Our daughter had stayed here before but this was a first for us. Lovely hotel, and so nice to be within walking distance of the parks – and a beautiful walk alongside a (man made) river. We couldn’t actually check in until later in the day, so went into Universal and did the Fast & Furious ride before venturing into Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. First stop – frozen butter beer.

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After our Harry Potter fix, we went to check into the hotel then headed to International Drive for dinner. Tonight we decided on Hooters – renowned for its waitresses but actually the food is excellent! We went for a walk around the ICON park which is where the Orlando Eye is – it has a lovely atmosphere in the evening.

Day 8

20190915_162150Universal day – we walked through Universal and caught the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade, doing various rides along the way. We went back to the hotel for a swim and decided to split up for the remainder of the afternoon/evening. We went back into Universal for a while and then strolled around City Walk, decided to eat at BigFire Grill. This was excellent, both food and service, and we would definitely eat there again – and can recommend the scallops!

Day 9

Change of scenery today – driving west to Busch Gardens. This drive used to take a good hour, but these days with better road links it takes about 45 minutes.  The men went off to do all the roller coasters, and we strolled around looking at the animals and taking photos. We did feel that Busch Gardens seem to be investing in the coasters rather than the animals. We visit Florida about every three years, and there is always a new coaster there, but the animal displays/enclosures remain the same (now looking a little tired). We’re not sure we will do Busch Gardens again, although the men may well drive across just to do all the coasters.

We drove back, stopping for food on the way, and had a swim at the hotel. Millers on International Drive was the choice for dinner, which was really good.

Day 10

Top Golf croppedMixed day today. In the morning, three of us went to Sea World to do the coasters. I try and do a new coaster every trip, and had promised myself I would do Kraken on this trip, which I did. The men did the rest while I strolled around taking photos. Back to the hotel to pick up Lauren, and we headed for Top Golf. This had only opened since our last visit, and having used our small version at home, we were looking forward to the whole experience here. It didn’t disappoint. There are around 100 bays, with different games to play for all levels of expertise. We ordered lunch (burgers and sliders) and couldn’t resist ordering donut holes afterwards – complete with their syringes of sauce. In the meantime, we started playing. If you want a break from the parks, we would definitely recommend a visit to Top Golf. Despite my husband wanting to stay there for the rest of the day (it’s cheaper during the day than in the evening) we headed back to Universal, and waited for dusk to ride my favourite roller coaster – Hulk. Then we played the mini golf there which we’d never done before – great course!

Day 11

Water Rides! We went into Islands of Adventure with the intention of getting wet. Well I didn’t, but the others did! After a change of clothes, we had lunch at Dennys on I Drive, then drove north to Ducati Sanford. My husband loves Ducatis and wanted to see a proper dealership – which this most definitely is.

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They did Indians as well as Ducatis – he didn’t know which way to look first 🙂 After we dragged him away, we stopped at the Mall at Millenia and Outdoor World before going back to the hotel. We went for a walk along the (man-made) river to the Portofino Bay Hotel – which looks beautiful (and is quite expensive!). Dinner was Uno on I Drive.

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Day 12

20190919_130047Water park day – we were going to Volcano Bay. We got the bus from the hotel (which is free as opposed to paying for parking (yes, despite being resort guests). A fun day, although we didn’t think it was as good as Blizzard Beach which is our favourite (and was currently closed unfortunately). Back to the resort, and we played the other Universal mini golf course before getting ready for Halloween Horror Night. A brilliant night – well worth the money. Not long after we arrived, I went to the ladies (it was still daylight at that point) and when I came out, all I could see was zombies!! There are ‘houses’ which we found were just about being made to jump, but it was outside that did it – different zones with different scary people. We walked through one zone which had people with chainsaws (not really obviously but they sounded real!) We walked past someone and unbeknown to me they followed us, suddenly starting the chainsaw right behind me – scary but brilliant. We sat and watched the goings on at one point (the scary people don’t come onto the pavements) and it was brilliant watching them scare people.

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Day 13

That last full day comes around really quickly 😦

Early start – our second attempt to get on Hagrid’s Magical Creature Bike Adventure. The first time, it wasn’t running so we abandoned the queue. This was our last chance – it wasn’t running to start with but we stuck with it – and so glad we did. It was well worth the wait, not least because we got lucky and got front row seats!  Time for breakfast so we headed for Dennys on I Drive. We’d decided to go to Disney Springs to look around the shops, including the huge Disney store. A visit to Disney Springs is never complete without a cupcake so time for Sprinkles. We went to Walmart on the way back to the hotel, and spent the rest of the afternoon around the pool and playing shuffle board. We had two suggestions for dinner so tossed a coin and Hooters it was. We sat outside this time which was really nice – love watching the world go by on I Drive.  Back to the resort and a last walk round City Walk…..and we had to get Voodoo donuts….. 🙂

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Day 14

Home time 😦

We packed up and checked out, driving to Disney Springs as the car park is covered so it would keep out stuff cool (like chocolate to take home!) We just wandered around and had lunch at Blaze Pizza – lovely pizzas, made fresh in front of you as you say what you want on it. I couldn’t resist a final Sprinkles cupcake – and had the same again as it was so good – black and white 🙂

 

Until next time….

 

[We visited in September 2019 – sorry, bit behind with the blogging!]

 

The rest of my photos are on Flickr here

 

Categories: travel Tags: , ,

Jersey

December 29, 2019 Leave a comment

Jersey 3

St Aubin’s Bay

Although Jersey is another Channel Island (I live on Guernsey), it’s a long time since I spent more than a day shopping there. We decided to have a few days there in the summer, and we were certainly lucky with the weather.

We travelled by boat, so just an hour on the Condor Liberation. We were staying in the Premier Inn in St Helier, so just a short walk from the harbour. After checking in, we went for a wander around – through town, Royal Square, and down to the Waterfront where we had something to eat. We strolled back through Liberty Wharf and Liberation Square, where there was a French market on.

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Day 2, and more walking. We walked east through Howard Davis Park (smaller than I remembered!) and then back into town to their wonderful fresh food market. Then we caught the bus to the Jersey War Tunnels. If you have the slightest interest in World War II history, this attraction is absolutely worth a visit. It has a mix of old historic information and modern technological displays. The Channel Islands were occupied by German forces during the Second World War and the three larger islands all have a lot of historical buildings and attractions to visit.

We caught the bus back into town and went back to the Waterfront for pizza and the cinema. We only have a very small cinema in Guernsey, so to see a film in a ‘proper’ cinema is always a treat.

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Jersey parkrun at Quennevais Sports Centre

Day 3 – parkrun day! I love parkrun and this was only the second time I had run outside of Guernsey. Jersey parkrun course is lovely, and we will definitely do this one again. Back to the hotel for breakfast then packing and leaving our bag with reception, we went for a walk around St Helier where we discovered there was a French Festival – hence the French market in Liberation Square the day we arrived!

We had a lovely couple of days, and were so lucky with the weather. We won’t leave it so long before we visit again.

If you want more information on Jersey, visit https://www.jersey.com/

The rest of my photos are on Flickr here

[We visited in July 2019 – sorry, bit behind with the blogging!]

Categories: travel Tags: , ,

Alderney

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Despite being born in the Channel Islands, and having lived here for most of my life, I had only been to Alderney once before – and that was a day trip some 30+ years ago. My husband had been to Alderney earlier this year for work, and stayed at the Braye Beach Hotel, which he said I would love.

Having booked a week off at the end of April/beginning of May, we decided to go there for a couple of days.

Day 1

We touched down in Alderney at 3.30pm and after collecting our small case, we strolled down Tourgis Hill – the long way to Braye Beach (about 40 minutes walk). It was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies. Walking along, I was struck by how few cars there were – Alderney is so peaceful. We checked in to the hotel and admired our room which had a stunning view across Braye beach.

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Wasting no time, we left the hotel and strolled around the little harbour to walk down the long breakwater. Then we walked up into St Anne – the ‘capital’ of Alderney and very picturesque, with cobbled streets, pretty buildings and a beautiful church. Fast approaching time for dinner, we walked back down Braye Road to the hotel. We had booked a table in the Vaults, their steakhouse restaurant. After a superb meal, we retired to the bar….

Day 2

We had arranged to meet a friend for coffee after breakfast, so spent a pleasant hour catching up. It was just starting to rain when we headed out, and we walked west, back to Fort Tourgis. This is a huge fortification, now sadly derelict, but it was fascinating to wander around it. You can’t actually get inside because it’s unsafe but you can go into some of the bunkers around the edge of the site and can walk through the main courtyard. Walking back down the hill, we saw a sign for ‘Watermill’ so followed the path down into the valley. The watermill is currently being renovated by volunteers and they appear to be making good progress, with some way to go yet.

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The rain was getting heavier, so we decided to continue back to the hotel, and have a light lunch (not really needed after a full English breakfast, but just to keep out of the rain for an hour!) A coffee and a Croque Monsieur later and the rain started to ease off so we decided to walk back up the hill into St Anne and visit the Alderney Society Museum. Like a lot of attractions in Alderney, it is manned by volunteers and we spent a fascinating hour or so looking round it and learning new things about Alderney. By the time we came out, the rain had thankfully stopped and we walked up Longis Road, past the golf course, as far as ‘the Nunnery’ which like many of the forts on Alderney you can’t actually get into. We walked back along Braye Beach, and had dinner in the Seaview Restaurant in the hotel – again, excellent food and service.

Day 3

Our last day dawned with some sunshine again – thank goodness! After another great breakfast, we packed up and vacated our room. We left our suitcase with reception, and headed east – today’s walk was to the far north east point of the island, and the Mannez Lighthouse. We walked around the headland, looking at the lighthouse, the railway yard with a rusty old crane, and looked up at the ‘Odeon’, a German bunker (you can get a key to go in this, but we didn’t). From there we walked back along the coastal path, past Saye beach and around Fort Albert (another fort you can’t actually get into but can peer through the gates).

Back along Braye beach, and to the hotel for a last coffee before heading up to the airport. We were a little early, and our friend who works there suggested we walk round the corner to see the Alderney free range pig farm – some gorgeous little piglets!

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Our time in Alderney had come to an end. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get there, but I certainly won’t leave it so long before visiting again. Besides, we haven’t been on the train (again manned by volunteers and mostly running at weekends) and you can also have a tour of the lighthouse (only on a Sunday afternoon in the summer months).

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A beautiful, peaceful island, with friendly people – everyone you walk past says hallo – and a relaxed pace of life. Perfect for a couple of days rest and relaxation.

Visit Alderney website

My photos on Flickr

Running III – Runway Run 2018

November 3, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve been involved with this event in previous years, as it is a charity event, raising funds not only for Crimestoppers but also Channel Islands Air Search. This year however, now being a runner, I was going to take part!

Being involved, I was lucky enough to get my T-shirt before the run – runners are not given their T-shirts until they arrive for the event, as it is a way of managing the numbers of people to ensure they are all registered to take part and allowed on the runway. Like all airports these days, Guernsey has to be very security conscious.

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Flat runner

Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the original date in September had to be postponed, but the event went ahead on 15 October and the weather was perfect.

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It was a bit of a family affair – the photo above is my daughter (running her first 5k), my husband who works at the airport as operations supervisor, and me.  Also in the picture is Air Search Ted who is the mascot for Channel Islands Air Search. Ted has all sorts of adventures and travels – he is on Facebook and Twitter if you would like to give him a follow! [Photo above by Chris George].

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In the C I Air Search hangar before the start

Running on the airport runway is quite surreal – I have been out on the runway before in one of the airport operations vehicles, but never on foot. It’s also very quiet at that time of night (11pm) as the airport is obviously closed – just the sound of runners’ feet on the tarmac. Lauren and I ran most of the way together, and finished in a time of 35 minutes. I was pleased with this, as was Lauren given that it was her first 5k.

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[Photo by Chris George]

A great event, raising funds for two great charities. Roll on next year…and a quicker time 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: running Tags: ,

Moraira – Spain

October 7, 2018 Leave a comment

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Castillo de Moraira

We lived in Moraira for a couple of years, and loved it. We had not been back for about 6 years so decided it was time….

We spent the Friday night at Gatwick and flew out early on Saturday morning, flying through clear skies over the Pyrenees and landing at Alicante airport. Picked up the hire car (a Mercedes B Class which was unexpected) and got on the motorway for a very familiar drive of about 45 minutes.

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Villa Algesemi

As our villa wasn’t available until later in the day, we went into Moraira to get some lunch and ate at La Boheme. As I’d missed out on my Friday night pizza, guess what I had?! Not very Spanish but lovely nonetheless. Lunch was followed by the obligatory ice cream from Tutto Frutto, then we headed up the road to the Mercadona supermarket for provisions before finding our villa. We availed ourselves of the swimming pool 🙂 then fired up the barbecue for a leisurely dinner. Early night, as we’d been up since 4.30am.

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Pool view

Sunday was a lazy day. We went to another local supermarket, Pepe Le Sal, for a couple of things that we couldn’t get the day before, then went into Moraira for a stroll around. Back to the villa for a swim and relax. We went to Arenal (part of Xabia) for dinner on the beachfront, eating at Posidonia which was first class in every respect. Our best meal of the holiday.

Monday dawned very cloudy (as it was for much of the week unfortunately) so we decided to go to Ondara’s Portal de la Marina for some shopping. Another custom for us is lunch at Eddie Rockets – an American style diner. We relaxed back at the villa with a BBQ for tea.

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Xabia old town

On Tuesday we decided to be tourists for the day and go to Xabia old town – a picturesque, typically Spanish, town. Usual timetable of back to the villa, swim, then out for dinner – tonight we went into Moraira and ate at Vista Ifach, which was lovely. And when in Moraira, eat ice cream after dinner (just my motto obviously).

We had intended to go to Terra Mitica theme park close to Benidorm, but discovered that once the schools go back after the summer break, they only open at weekends 😦 We decided to go into Benidorm anyway for a change of scenery, and a bit more shopping. On the way back, Bob suggested visiting Fonts d’Algar. These are natural springs that come down from the mountains, culminating in waterfalls, and you can swim there. I was official photographer (not a huge fan of the water myself) and we spent a lovely couple of hours there. Highly recommended as something a bit different!

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Fonts d’Algar

Another leisurely evening in Moraira, where we ate at Wok Extra – we call them ‘Wok Bucket’ as it’s an all you can eat for a set price: starter, main which you choose what you want and they cook it for you, and dessert. And yes, we still went and got ice cream after that!

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Views over the Montgo from the top of Cumbre del Sol

Thursday dawned – with sun! Our best day so we didn’t do much other than sit around the pool. We drove up to Cumbre del Sol to see the fabulous views before heading back to the villa via the supermarket for lunch provisions. A leisurely afternoon followed and we drove to Xabia Port in the evening, although decided that places were a bit expensive, so went back to Arenal and ate at La Fontana – another superb meal. Followed by…..yes you guessed 🙂

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Xabia Port

Friday was our last day, and also market day in Moraira. This means one thing in particular – fresh churros! After the market we went and bought Euro Millions tickets (you never know, but sadly not this time….) and went in the OpenCor supermarket to get fresh bread for lunch. Our last swim before heading back into Moraira to meet up with a good friend Maria, and her son Robbie.  Rob, Maria’s husband, was away working unfortunately. A couple of hours chatting and catching up flew by, and when we went our separate ways, we headed for the kart track up the road as the guys wanted to do this. Final dinner at Cap d’Or in Moraira (lovely meal, shame about the miserable waitress!) which could only be following by a final ice-cream from Tutto Frutto.

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Helado de Tutto Frutto (mango is the best!)

A lovely relaxing week, despite the weather, and we will return in a couple of years, not least to catch up with our friend Rob, but because it was lovely to be somewhere so familiar.

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Categories: Around the world Tags: ,

Belfast

August 30, 2018 Leave a comment

 

City Hall

City Hall

We made a last minute decision to go away for a few days in July, and decided  to visit this city, having never been to Northern Ireland.

We stayed in the heart of the city, at the Ten Square Hotel which was at the back of City Hall (of which more later), and we would highly recommend it – its location was perfect, our room gorgeous, and the staff and the food were first class.

We arrived early afternoon and, after checking in, went for a wander around the shops before returning to the hotel and venturing up to the top floor to the Loft Bar for a drink. Stunning views, with an outside area too, and we relaxed for an hour before heading back out to look for somewhere to eat.  After a couple of options didn’t inspire us, we returned to the hotel to eat in Jospers where the food was lovely.

The next day (after a superb breakfast buffet) we had 48 hour tickets for the open top bus tour bus, so hopped onto that and saw the majority of the route before getting off at Crumlin Road Gaol where we had pre-booked tickets for the tour. We were fascinated by the derelict building opposite, which we later discovered was the former court house which had been the subject of arson and vandalism in recent years. A great shame as it was obviously a beautiful building in its time.  The tour of the gaol was fascinating, and reminded us of Kilmainham Gaol which we had visited in Dublin a couple of years ago.

Big Fish

The Big Fish

After a drink and snack in the little cafe, we got back on the tour bus and headed back into the city.  We walked down to the River Lagan – to see the Big Fish! – and then went to McHugh’s for dinner. The building was very old and the food was wonderful traditional Irish fayre. A stroll back to the hotel, and we decided we couldn’t resist a nightcap in the Loft Bar. We were familiar faces to the bar staff already, and Bob was slowly working his way through the gin menu with their recommendations!

City Hall inside

City Hall foyer

The following day started with rain, so we decided to do the free tour of City Hall, only a few minutes walk from the hotel. The inside of this building is as beautiful as the outside, and the tour was interesting, lasting about an hour. We saw a couple who were obviously just married posing for pictures at the bottom of the ornate staircase.

From there we walked to the nearby Victoria Square shopping centre, where there was a viewing platform at the top.  This was a huge glass dome, which had been closed the previous day as it was so hot! The views over the city were wonderful.  We continued to walk through the town to the bus stop for the open top bus as we wanted to see CS Lewis Square which was on the route.  Unfortunately it had started to rain but it was quite light so we had a wander around the square and looked at the wonderful statues, before getting back on the bus.

Mr Tumnus

Mr Tumnus

Once back in the city centre, we had a walk around before going to the Kitchen Bar for dinner. It was ok but no more than that, so wouldn’t recommend unless we were just unlucky. As we didn’t linger there, we decided (it would be rude not to!) to go back to the Loft Bar and sit in comfort with the wonderful views.

City Hall night

View from the Loft Bar overlooking City Hall

Our last day was 12 July, which we had only discovered when we arrived was the N Irish equivalent of Liberation Day in Guernsey, with lots of marching bands. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of these as we had booked our Titanic tickets for this day, so we walked down across the river in time for our tour. We would definitely recommend visiting this if you have the slightest interest in the story of Titanic.  We have been to museums before, which focus on the sinking of the vessel but understandably this is all about the building of the ship and its voyage before the iceberg got in the way…. As they say in Belfast, she was alright when she left here! We had bought the White Star Premium pass which gave us the ‘Titanic Experience’ where you walk through various galleries which tell the story of the ship; the guided tour (an hour – really interesting and entertaining) around the site as a whole, both inside and outside where the ship was launched; and access to SS Nomadic – the only White Star Line ship that still exists today. We spent about five hours there before making our way back to the hotel for our taxi to the airport.

Titanic view

View over SS Nomadic to the Titanic building

We loved Belfast and its people, and would love to see more of Northern Ireland.

Link to the rest of my photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmnYSkYq

 

 

Categories: Around the world, travel Tags: ,

Cardiff

We spent a weekend in Cardiff last month, brought about by me buying tickets to see the Stereophonics for my husband for Christmas (he’s always wanted to see them).

20180608_201407This was our first time in Cardiff. Although there are direct flights from Guernsey, the timings didn’t work for us, so we flew to Bristol on the Friday and hired a car. The route between the two cities took us past Celtic Manor Resort – and as Bob is an avid golfer, we had to stop and have a look. Beautiful hotel, and golf course, and we had a browse around the pro shop too. Back on the road, we reached our hotel and after checking in, headed back out to a nearby Ducati dealership. As you can tell, this was Bob’s day! In the evening, we walked up into Cardiff City Centre, and found a Pizza Hut for tea. It was Friday, so that means pizza!

20180609_221650Saturday was my day – shopping! I managed to do a bit of damage to the credit card before we headed back to the hotel then we walked to Cardiff City Football Stadium where the Stereophonics gig was. One of the support acts was Jake Bugg whom we like too – he was great. The band themselves did not disappoint – they did 2 1/2 hours on stage and were amazing.

The sun was shining on Sunday which was our last day, and we were tourists, starting out at Cardiff Castle which was beautiful. After that we walked through the nearby park to the river, and picked up the water taxi to take us down to ‘the Bay’. This is where the famous Millennium Centre is – the building with all the Welsh writing on it! It was a lovely area, with shops and restaurants. We walked down the headland where there was a boat show on that weekend. My only disappointment is that the Doctor Who Experience no longer exists 😦 After struggling slightly to get back into the city (the boats stop at 4.30!) we eventually walked back into the city centre for dinner – Wagamama!

 

Cardiff CastleMillennium Centre

We loved Cardiff – the city is lovely with some beautiful buildings, and the people were so nice. Would recommend a weekend there.

My photos on Flickr

Categories: Around the world, travel Tags: ,