There and back again

In my fabulous at 50 year I had two trips to Europe. The first was as a result of a “use it or lose it” annual leave week and a Ryanair sale. The second was due to a very generous birthday present from my fabulous friend Annette.

My mum and I set off for Venice in January with our cheap as chips flights and stayed in a lovely hotel (another bargain). We also paid a visit to Verona by train and had a fabulous time. I’m not to going to write about the sights we saw and the famous places we visited as there are many other blogs online that do them better justice. I just want to offer a little advice to anyone heading to this wonderful city. Any map that you get with a guide book will not prepare you for finding your way around, there are many tiny side streets, lanes and dead ends to get lost in. Round every corner there is a piazza and bridge that you aren’t expecting. I would suggest either chalk or string to guide your way back to your hotel!

Also if you visit Verona from Venice remember that there are roads with cars to get across, it’s easy to forget after spending time on water boats and trotting around the streets and bridges of Venice.

 

In September, with my friends Bev and Deb, I jetted off to France to spend the week at Rural Gites Chadenne halfway between Bergerac and Bordeaux. This amazing holiday home is owned by my very lovely friend and ex colleague Annette and I couldn’t believe it when she offered me the week as a birthday present.

Our biggest challenge was finding our way from the airport to the gite, we circled and went through Bergerac a couple times before managing to find the road we needed to be on. It just got worse once we found the forest that was hiding our final destination.

Getting lost became a theme of the whole holiday. We didn’t seem to have trouble finding places, it was coming back and locating the gite that seemed to be impossible for us to do! But anyone who knows me knows that I get lost in my own city!

Despite our apparent lack of sense of direction we did manage to get out and about quite a bit and visited Saint Emilion and Aubeterre Sur Dronne all by ourselves. But our most successful trips were with our lovely host to Issigeac and Sainte Foy La Grande for the markets and lunch. We made it there and back again in record time with no detours and unplanned excursions.

I can’t recommend Rural Gites enough, it’s in the most wonderful location in Saint Barthelemy de Bellegarde. Annette is most attentive, kind and generous host.

We had a fabulous time and I won’t forget it for a long time.

aubeterrebathroom chadennechadenne 2chadenne 4chadenneout with annettesan emilion

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No one puts Baby in the corner

I love to dance ; on nights out, around the house, at work, anywhere …. I also love to do dance classes. I went to ballet school as a child and dance is really the only exercise I truly enjoy. I also adore the film Dirty Dancing, so imagine my delight when I discovered a course to learn how to do the moves from this iconic film.

The Showgirl Academy runs classes and workshops in Bristol and Bath for women who want to learn cabaret themed dances, Charleston, Can Can, Burlesque and much more. The classes are fun, relaxed and friendly, they are suitable for all ages and no previous dance experience is needed.

My Friend, Helen, and I did the 6 week Dirty Dancing course at the beginning of my Fabulous at 50 year and had a great time, although I don’t think we took it quite as seriously as some of our class mates and could be found giggling in the corner a lot of the time.

showgirl

Later on in the year the stage production of Dirty Dancing came to the Bristol Hippodrome, of course that had to be a fabulous thing. So after a bite to eat in a cute Italian restaurant and a couple of bottles of prosecco Selena, Debbie, Natalie and I watched from our very well situated seats, (thank you Selena). I must say it was quite raunchy at times and very entertaining.

dirty dancing

 

I do like to be beside the seaside

I wanted to go on a cheesy seaside trip to our local resort of Weston Super Mare, lovingly called Weston Muddy Mare as it’s actually an estuary and the tide is out most of the time leaving dense and dangerous mud that some holiday makers get stuck in and need rescuing.

Any visit to Weston should include spending time on the Grande Pier. There has always been a pier since the original one opened in 1904, This pier had a 2000 seat theatre at the end, but this was replaced with an undercover funfair after fire destroyed the theatre in 1930. It was made a grade 2 listed building in 1994 and named National Pier of the year in 2001. But unfortunately in July 2008 it was completely destroyed by fire. By 2010 it was rebuilt, revamped and reopened.

Myself and the Gardiner girls; My mum, sister in law and my nieces, spent most of our cheesy fabulous day on the pier followed by fish and chips.

 

When I was a little girl our family holidays were spent in Weymouth, we always went in carnival week. So I wanted to have a trip on the train to bring back some happy childhood memories and have a fabulous day with family and friends.

Weymouth carnival week has been going for 55 years, it’s a week long event that raises money for charity and good causes. There are stalls and attractions all along the promenade to help holiday makers part with their cash. On carnival day the Red Arrows wow spectators to a fantastic display that starts with the most deafening boom. The main event starts off about 7ish and then it’s all topped off with fireworks let off from a boat in the sea.

Although I had the most fabulous day showing my nieces around Weymouth and having fish and chips with prosecco while watching the Red Arrows on the beach, I found the carnival a bit disappointing, maybe childhood memories are viewed through rose tinted lenses. But it didn’t put a damper on our amazing day.

on train to weymouth

I love going down to Challaborough in Devon, so a day trip to visit my brother, sister in law and nieces in the family caravan was always going to be a fabulous thing. The caravan park is perfectly set on the beach and is just the most loveliest place to relax.

challaborough

You’re a wizard Harry

I’ve always had a passion for dressing up, so I jumped at the chance to don my Bellatrix outfit, grab my friends Selena, Debbie and Liz, (aka Hermione, Madame Pomfrey and Death eater), and go on a Harry Potter pub crawl. These themed events were happening all over the country, Potter fans met up in their finest costumes, moved from pub to pub and then ended up in a nightclub to dance the night away.

It was very fitting to have one of these crawls in Bristol as JK Rowling is homegrown. She was born in Yate, just on the outskirts of the city, in 1965. Her family then moved to nearby Winterbourne.

Everyone looked fantastic dressed up as their favourite characters. Unfortunately despite our efforts we did not win any of the best costume prizes, But we had the most fabulous time.

 

My fabulous at 50 year

2017 was my 50th year and I wanted to celebrate it with style. Rather than have a big party I decided to do 50 fabulous things throughout the year with all my family and friends. Some things were planned …..others were just on the spur of the moment. I took every opportunity to have a fabulous time, nothing was big, bold or expensive. Over the years I have learnt to take pleasure in the smallest things and try to see the beauty in everything.

I did have the most amazing year and ended up doing 67 fabulous things. I just have one more to do… I had a flying lesson booked but the weather on the day was dreadful so this had to be postponed.

The next few posts are all about the fabulous things I got up to….

fabulous at 50

 

Happy and Glorious

Like the rest of our great nation, I watched with pride Team GB competing in the Olympics in Rio.

The team exceeded expectations by coming 2nd in the medals table and passing their target of 66 medals. Among the medals there were unexpected successes; bronze for Amy Tinkler in women’s floor and bronze in all round individual men’s competition, gold on pommel and floor for Max Whitlock in our fantastic gymnastic teams. Also gold for our women’s hockey team in a nail biting and exciting game that kept me on the edge of my seat.

team GB medal winners Rio 2016

But what I really loved about the Olympics was seeing the athletes from all the different countries united by a common goal and belief. The games were a platform for forgetting political differences and conflicts if only for 2 weeks.

My favourite picture by far is the selfie taken by gymnasts Lee Eun-ju of South Korea and Hong Un-jong of North Korea.

Surely this photo epitomises the true spirit of the Olympics and hope for peace in the future.

north and south korean selfie

 

Old Twinkle Toes

There’s nothing I like better than flicking through the channels on a rainy Sunday afternoon and finding an old Hollywood Musical. So imagine my joy when I stumbled upon Royal Wedding starring the most fabulous Fred Astaire.

I love watching Fred dance and could happily do so all day. So much has been written about him and his career that I could write pages and pages. So I have chosen some of my favourite things to share.

  • Fred started dancing professionally at the age of 6, meaning his amazing career of dancing, acting, choreographing, singing, television presenting and teaching spanned over 8 decades.
  • The notes made after his first screen test evaluation read…. “Can’t act, can’t sing. balding, can dance a little”. He was signed on at RKO by David O Selznick who was won over by Fred’s charm.
  • He had very large hands so he curled his middle fingers while he danced to make them appear smaller on screen.
  • Before Fred came along dance was filmed using many takes and camera angles, he changed that with long takes and wide shots so it was like watching a performance in it’s entirety.
  • Ginger Rogers starred with Fred in 10 films. In Swing Time he serenaded Ginger while she washed her hair with “The way you look tonight”, which is one of my favourite songs. It won an Academy award for best original song in 1937.
  • His last but one screen performance was on Battlestar Galactica, he agreed to do it because his grandchildren were fans of the show.
  • Fred Astaire was the very first name to be listed on IMDb (nm 0000001).
  • Fred and Ginger are buried in the same cemetery, Oakwood Memorial Park in California.

One of the 2 dances I learnt while doing the On Broadway dance course was Top hat, white tie and tails. This was definitely my favourite dance and we had so much fun learning and performing it. While we did our very best,  there is no one quite like Fred when it comes to dancing, so enjoy….

 

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