Weekends in the Big Smoke


The year 2017 didn’t just bring a landmark birthday for me, Selena was also fabulous at 50 and Deb was sensational at 60. So with our collective age of 160 years we decided to challenge ourselves by climbing over the O2 in Greenwich.

Trussed up in our harnesses and wearing our special boots we hooked ourselves up to the central rail and began the very steep climb to the summit on what resembled a ridged blue groundsheet. Luckily our boots had a sole that seemed to cling to the walkway. But oh boy wasn’t it worth it ……The views were amazing and we had 20 minutes to enjoy them, take photos and mainly to recover from the effort needed to get up there. Getting back down was a challenge as it was so steep there was a special knack of walking either backwards or sideways. If we were in any doubt of our advancing age it was confirmed when I referred to the O2 as the Millennium Dome, I was faced by a blank stare from a young lady selling tickets who was clearly not even born when it was last called that.


The following day we had a lovely time looking around Kensington Palace, Diana’s dresses and memorial gardens. We had the most fabulous time all weekend celebrating our special birthdays.

kesington palace



My other London weekend jolly was with my lovely friend Bev. We took advantage of some free audience tickets from Applause Store to watch Jimmy Carr’s Your face or Mine.

We travelled up the day before the show so we could have a mooch around,but not before we had a bottomless prosecco lunch at the London Grind on London Bridge. We got an hour and a half to drink as much prosecco as we liked to wash down some lovely food. Our dinner was not quite so classy as we left it too late to find a place still serving food, so we ended up sat in our pyjamas eating Burger King and drinking some more bubbles out of our hotel tooth mugs!

Fortified by breakfast we made our way to the London ITV Studios for the filming, it was so funny. A fabulous way to spend cherished time with a very good friend.



Going For gold…Again

Back in 2014 I was a volunteer first aider at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it was such an amazing experience I decided that volunteering at the World Athletics Championships would definitely be a fabulous thing.

One of my goals when applying to do the Commonwealth Games was to rub Usain Bolt’s leg if he ever got injured or just to relieve a little cramp. But alas I didn’t achieve this as my shifts were at the opening ceremony and the rugby sevens. So this time I was determined to get just a little closer to the great man.

My plans were scuppered a bit by being posted to the first aid station by the media centre and the warm up area for the field athletes. But as the dedicated first aider that I am, I needed to patrol the whole area fully, which included the warm up track to get supplies for our station that we lovingly called the prison. Mission accomplished! …. well I didn’t actually lay my hands on him, but I did see him warming up on the track looking incredibly cool. On a daily basis we were told not to stand around taking photos of the athletes, as I rarely do as I’m told I got quite a few photos of Usain, including one of him coming out of the portaloo just before he ran the 100 metres semi final.

Also while on patrol with my fellow first aiders I saw Mo Farah win the 5000 metres and the 100 metres semi final and final, the atmosphere was electric.

As always I met the most amazing people and made some new friends. Looking after the athletes and spectators was a joy to do.

But the fabulous thing about volunteering this time was staying with my lovely cousin Amelia and her family in Reading. She very kindly put me up for 2 weeks and even ferried me to and from the train station at very unsocial hours. During my time off I caught up with my extended familam and get out and about in Berkshire.

The Fabulous Birthday Week

My birthday week in May was very busy and I planned to do as much as possible in my time off with as many close friends as I could.

Friday 20th May, Ladies night up the club…. it was promised that we would be entertained by 2 strippers and a very funny drag act. The entertainment didn’t live up to expectations but we still had a fantastic time with the prosecco flowing and cupcakes cooked by the lovely Toni.

On Saturday 21st May the familam got together for a fabulous birthday lunch.

familam lunch

Sunday 22nd May was afternoon tea in Bath day with my lovely team of guiders. Behind the spectacular Abbey is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a tiny café with all things Alice in Wonderland in it.


The big day…24th May…saw 5 besties getting up ridiculously early to catch the first plane of the day to Dublin. I had the crazy idea of flying to Dublin for a day trip and we needed to pack in as much as we could before the last flight home. With this in mind we jumped on the sightseeing bus with the best driver, he was so entertaining and got the entire bus to sing happy birthday to me. Our next mode of transport was a horse and cart to take in even more of the city at a more sedate pace. We certainly managed to have a fabulous sunny day in the emerald Isle for very little expense.

By Friday I thought that my celebrations for the week had come an end. We were having a film night at brownies and rainbows and I was all set to put my pyjamas on, eat popcorn with the girls while watching Cinderella.

Little did I know that my bestest bestie Jane, despite a personal tragedy 2 days before my birthday, had planned and hosted a surprise party for me. This scheming and planning had been going on without my knowledge for months by my besties and my mum.

To say that I was shocked and surprised was an understatement and it was incredibly emotional.

We had the most fabulous time dancing the night away to tunes performed by the lovely John  and I don’t think I’ll forget that party for a very long time.



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

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.


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.


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.


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