We’re going on holiday!

Have you noticed the adverts on telly have switched from toys and food to holidays and diets? This is inevitable for this time of year, I think, but it really does show how consumer driven we all are.

I include myself in that. I’m back on my perennial January diet (New Year’s Resolution numero uno – a la Bridget Jones, obviously will lose half my body weight!) To aid myself in this endeavour I have purchased the aria Fitbit scales that I’ve wanted forever! These are the ultimate lazy scales! You don’t even have to log your weight, it gets sent straight to your Fitbit app and charts your progress.

They do, of course, allow for non Fitbit-obsessed husbands to also use them (after all, it wouldn’t be the best marketing strategy if the whole household had to have a Fitbit now would it?) It means his weight is also transmitted to my Fitbit, but he doesn’t care about that although I would be mortified if it were the other way round. He can eat cookies and crisps and down gallons of sugary drinks 24/7 without a murmur from the scales let alone a full on groan of squished pain!

You can imagine my surprise when I checked my Fitbit app yesterday and found this ….

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Now, slender as hubby is, 10.1 lbs he is not. What has occurred? thought I. Curious! Then, this morning whilst in the shower with the scales residing at the end of the bath I noticed a little furry white face looking at me! Olive has obviously become health conscious and decided to monitor her weight! Goodness! Have I passed on my somewhat unhealthy obsession with my weight to little Olive? She’s perfect as she is!

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Anyhow, the motivation for the weight loss regime (mine, not Olive’s) aside from the fact that only one pair of my work trousers fits comfortably at the moment, is a couple of upcoming holidays.

As we flumped our way out of the festive period we had two holidays planned for 2019, however, as is my wont, I have now booked another, rather more imminent holiday. I have to do something to make January less Januaryish (and preferably, February less Februaryish too) and more often than not, that involves booking a holiday.

I did briefly toy with the idea of splashing out on a short break to Iceland so that we could hopefully get to see the Northern Lights. However, the old purse would’ve been considerably lighter in this case and there’s obviously no guarantee that the old Aurora Borealis would play ball and show up on cue (how gutting would that be?) Then two people who know me better than most both looked at me in something akin to amazement crossed with horror when I floated this idea and said ‘but you hate the cold!’ There has never been a more true statement!

So, I decided we should make like geese and fly south. The obvious choice is the Canaries for Winter sun, but I just couldn’t seem to get excited by any of the islands. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Canaries (or the three of them that I’ve visited at least) but I was craving something a bit less Katie Price and rather more Victoria Coren Mitchell.

So, we’re going here ….

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Just over three weeks and off we’ll go. If you look at Malta on the map, it’s in line with northern Africa so in theory the weather should be pleasant. Not as warm as the Canaries admittedly, but we should get to feel the sun on our skin (hopefully, please oh sacred God of Sun). Whatever, it would be a sad day for Malta if it was ever as cold as the UK!

We’ve booked a really cute little studio apartment in the capital, Valletta, through Airbnb. I was sold by this picture of the view from the Juliet balcony.

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Doesn’t it look pretty?

I love love love holiday planning. I adore leafing through a guidebook to find the best things to do, the scrummiest food to eat, and the secret hideaways that only locals know about. I get to write lists! What to remember to do before we go, what to pack. Ooh ooh ooh and an ITINERARY! I get to make an itinerary! What to do, when to do it, how to get there, what to take, how much it costs, what to wear. Oooooooooooh! It’s exciting!

I almost hate to tell you what the downside of all this is. Ryanair! That’s the downside! I hate giving luggage charging, strictly one piece of hand baggage, general money grabbing Michael O’Leary any of my hard earned cash, but he’s got you by the short and curlies (and he knows it!) It’s best for my blood pressure if I don’t talk about Ryanair any more, but, just to cheer up anyone else who has the same aversion to hearing that flipping bugle toot as you land on time (mainly because they didn’t clean the plane from the inbound flight leaving you to extract the sticky sweet papers from your own seat, and then bullied you down the aisle so fast that you tripped over the person in front’s cabin baggage (40 x 20 x 25cm and not a millimetre more) which would’ve been checked in and out of the way if they didn’t charge you for the pleasure and then don’t let you get up from your seat to speak to your husband who’s sitting three rows behind you because you refused to be forced to pay to choose seats together) here’s a link to a hilarious Fascinating Aida song which is completely based on Ryanair (it’s got to be!)

Anyway, Ryanair excepted (or should that be, accepted, through lack of choice?) I can’t wait! I’ve got a lot of crochet to get on with, and a lot of gardening ideas fizzing away in my head that need refining, but I’m planning to spend a good proportion of tomorrow devouring my guidebook and starting to play with my ITINERARY!

If anyone’s been to Malta and has any tips, I’d be really grateful to hear them, but for now, have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

2018 Review in Pictures

I should’ve probably written this post on 1st January, but I was busy finishing off my greenhouse and since then I’ve been back at work and feeling somewhat tired. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of getting up early and doing proper adult things. Every January when I go back to work I struggle to keep my head above water because I’m so tired and suffering from the January blues. I always manage though, and soon we’ll be through January. February’s not much better, in my humble opinion, but its saving grace is that it’s closer to Spring and you can finally see that the days are getting longer. The end of Winter is in sight!

I downloaded the top nine app which makes you a collage of your nine most liked photos on Instagram.

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I like all these photos (as, apparently do the people who follow me on Instagram) but I didn’t feel that it represented my year as I remember it. Of course, I only started my blog and the accompanying Instagram account (greengirlgardener for anyone who’d like to follow me) in July so it’s not representative of the whole year, but there’s not one gardening photo on there and that was a massive part of my 2018. I also realise that I need to be careful not to use a photo I’ve already posted as my featured blog picture because that’s how I’ve ended up with the same photo twice. 

Anyway, I thought I’d look back on my year and try to select my personal favourite pictures, and maybe you’ll find them interesting.

We managed to keep our fur babies healthy and happy in 2018 – this really isn’t a chore because they are just so delightful. I couldn’t not include my favourite pics of the gorgeous twosome from this past year.

How do I choose my favourite pictures from the garden? Honestly my phone is full of pics of plants and garden paraphernalia! I’ll try to narrow it down.

This is what really sparked my enthusiasm for the garden when we had the jungle chopped down and I could really see what we had to play with!

It inspired me to create our bistro.

I soon added other features to give character to our space.

My wheelbarrow planter.

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My planter which was made by my Dad for my birthday which I love.

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My raised beds ready for growing fruit and veg in the summer.

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More recently my greenhouse which I’m really excited about.

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The garden gave me so much pleasure this year. I can’t possibly show you everything that I planted or managed to nurture, so I’ll try to narrow it down to a few of my favourite photos.

When the cats were kittens it was impossible for me to crochet because they would run off with my yarn, but this year, now that they’re the ripe old age of three, I rediscovered my love for hooking and I also resubscribed to Little Box of Crochet. Here are some of my makes.

I also met Amanda, the owner of Little Box of Crochet at the Grand Sale Event.

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I went on three holidays. Lanzarote at Easter with hubby’s side of the family.

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Sandybrook Country Park near Ashbourne with some of my best and oldest (in time, not age!) friends for May Bank Holiday.

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And Mexico in November with hubby.

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2018 saw the last of my school year turn 40. My birthday is at the beginning of the academic year so I turned 40 in 2017, but my best friend celebrated her milestone birthday in style in 2018. We went to London, saw Les Miserables in the West End and had afternoon tea at the Dorchester.

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I don’t even like tea, but I was in the Dorchester and I was drinking tea whether I liked it or not! I look thin in this photo – might print it out and stick it to the fridge to motivate my New Year diet!

This is really not in chronological order because this happened in February. It’s just in the order that it’s fallng out of my head! We finally knocked our teeny tiny kitchen through to the dining room to create a big kitchen diner. It’s the best thing we’ve done to the house – we no longer fall over each other when we’re trying to cook, and we no longer risk going up in a puff of smoke like we did using our old dodgy cooker!

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Hubby and I went to Thorpe Park with two of my work friends (one of whom made a rollercoaster fwiend – sorry, in joke!) Until I went to Orlando for the first time in 2016 I’d never been to a proper big theme park. I used to go to a local theme park when I was a kid, people can’t believe that I’ve never been to Alton Towers! I loved Thorpe Park. It was so much fun.

My youngest brother got married in August and I gained another sister-in-law. It was an amazing day and really made me appreciate time with family.

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Oh, almost forgot! I got a promotion and became an Account Manager. I’ve tried to embrace my new role and am enjoying the learning process. It’s not always easy, and I’m spending a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, but I’m relishing the challenge and am determined to succeed and prove myself. That reminds me, I must ask for new business cards!

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I think that’s the major events of 2018 covered. So, what’s to come in 2019? If all goes according to plan, then I’ll travel to Orlando and Spain. I’ll return to Sandybrook with the girls. It’s highly likely that I’ll visit the south of Italy with work. I’ll visit the Hippodrome to see Peter Pan and the Alexandra Theatre to see Thriller Live. I’ll pay an extortionate parking fee at the NEC when I visit Gardeners’ World Live with my best friend. There are tentative plans to go to Kew Gardens, do pub quizzes, visit Tallinn and to remedy my not having been to Alton Towers. I’ll take part in my first CAL (crochet-along) with thousands of people around the world when I follow attic24’s sweet pea blanket pattern. I’m planning to decorate the downstairs loo, redo the bathroom and obviously there will be exploits in the garden. I did briefly toy with the idea of a huge PVC igloo on the lawn today when I was daydreaming (and imagining myself to have won the lottery) but I’ll satisfy my gardening dreams by beautifying my greenhouse and growing my own fruit and veg this year.

I hope you all have plans for 2019, whether big or small. Life’s for living!

 

 

 

Underwater World

We are jet lagged! I imagine this is what it feels like to be on mind-altering drugs. Earlier we went to Tesco (through necessity certainly not desire). I generally avoid supermarkets. Life is just too short when you work full time to be faffing around in supermarkets in your free time, wondering how the human race hasn’t become extinct. If it can’t even handle a shopping trolley how on earth does it undertake more complicated activities such as, oh I don’t know, crossing the road or raising a child! Anyway, somehow today, in our multi time zonal state it suddenly became more bearable. I’m pretty sure I managed not to leave my trolley horizontal across the end of an aisle whilst I wondered off to (at length) ponder the virtues of Cushelle over Andrex as is the want of your seasoned supermarket goer, but I was definitely less spatially aware than usual and (joy of joys) pretty much unaware of the irritating foibles of my fellow shoppers. Maybe that’s as a result of post holiday relaxation, or maybe the jet lag. Either way, I shall return to online shopping next week because I’m sure both will have deserted me not to return until our next holiday, leaving me open to the possibility of committing hara-kiri with a carrot should I attempt to enter a supermarket.

We landed back down on earth with a bump today (and not one of a Dreamliner!) As well as braving Tesco, I’ve emptied both suitcases and my beach bag, put the passports away, hung up everything that didn’t need washing, filled and emptied the dishwasher, watered the plants, cleaned the kitchen and straightened my hair (but I drew the line at applying make up – one thing at a time, eh?) Hubby has emptied the bins, cleaned the cats bowls and changed their litter trays and between us we’ve done two loads of washing (including hubby’s uniform ready for his return to work on Tuesday) and now we’re cooking tea. There was a fairy for all manner of domestic chore whilst we were on holiday and I was hoping it might have popped in our suitcase to continue back home, but no such luck!

So, I’m going to live vicariously through my past self this evening and tell you about our excursion last week. We decided we’d just do one excursion while we were away, partly because they were flipping expensive but mostly because we really felt the need for copious amounts of lying, relaxing, snoozing and general nothing doing. We looked at the options and toyed with a trip to Chichen Itza, but ultimately we realised that this would’ve just been a box ticking exercise and we weren’t all that desperate to see it. Impressive as I’m sure it is, you can no longer climb the pyramid, the pick up was at some ungodly hour and it would’ve meant spending several hours of our precious holiday on a coach. So, we opted for Underwater World.

Our pick up was scheduled for 7.55am, but by 8.15am we were still lounging in the sun on the front steps of the hotel. I have to admit I was starting to worry, but there was no need, the minibus had got held up getting into Playa Carm (as the locals call Playa del Carmen). There’s a checkpoint to get in and every vehicle is checked. This must be irritating for people coming in for deliveries and hotel staff etc. but it’s for safety reasons and did mean that the hotel felt super secure.

Soon we were on our way down the highway to our first stop which was a cenote, which is an underground lagoon. There are over six thousand cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsular and as there are no rivers in the area, they provide the primary source of drinking water. The water filters through the rocks when it rains and it is crystal clear (until, that is people go in and stir up the silt on the bottom).

We entered the uunderground world down a very steep staircase.

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Please excuse the swimwear! I promise I won’t make a habit of posting pics in such attire! You can see the steepness of the stairs and the concentration on hubby’s face to make sure he doesn’t fall down them!

There is absolutely no natural light down there once you’ve moved away from the entrance so for most of the time we had to follow our guide Ricardo’s torch as you can see in this photo.

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Luckily nobody asked what would happen if the battery died until after we’d got back to the stairs! Apparently it has happened and they all had to hold on to each other and feel their way around the rocks until they got back! Argh! When we were in the depths of the cave Ricardo turned the torch off and you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face!

The cenote is filled with stalagmites and stalactites which are thousands of years old, formed by the water dripping through. You have to be really careful not to touch them because they are very easily damaged.

This is one of the most special things I’ve ever done.

After we scrambled our way back up the stairs we headed back to the highway down the bumpiest road I’ve ever known. Halfway down we suddenly stopped to the cry of ‘tarantula!’ Somehow our driver had spotted this little (big) fellow crawling around at the side of the road.

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I’m not the biggest lover of spiders, although I’ve got better since I’ve been gardening more and coming across all manner of creepy crawlies, but I was very impressed by this guy. Now, I’m not saying I want to find one of these in the bath, but I find them a lot less shudder-inducing than the common house spider, because they don’t scurry. They’re too big for scurrying! You can see some scale in the next photo.

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Another minibus was heading towards the cenote and they pulled over when they saw the commotion and the driver picked the tarantula up!

Brave guy!

We carried on and headed to our final stop, a beautiful beach where went snorkelling. Unfortunately I don’t have photos because we had to leave our belongings in the minibus because there were no lockers, but imagine Caribbean paradise and you’ll be part way there!

We suited up in our life jackets and snorkels and followed Ricardo into the water. There’s no guarantee of seeing turtles because they’re not in captivity, they’re free to swim wherever they please. Apparently ten years ago you’d be likely to see close to a hundred on a good day, but now you’re lucky to see five or six.

We were reasonably lucky, we saw three.

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These aren’t the actual turtles that we saw. Well, they might be, but I didn’t take the photos, they were in a photo package that I bought of the day. They’re pretty close to what we actually saw.

It’s very serene when you’re floating around looking down at turtles, not able to hear anything because your ears are below the water. Very calm.

Sadly some of the turtles are getting cancer because of the chemicals that we, the human race, are putting into the sea. I couldn’t see any evidence of it on the turtles we saw (apparently they get white tumours) but it really makes you realise that we need to change our ways for the good of the animal kingdom, and the planet as a whole. Obviously we need to wear sun protection, but there are animal safe products available. There are alternatives to many plastic consumables.

As well as the turtles we saw two sting rays, an adult (mummy?) and a baby.

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Again, not my photo, but a good likeness.

This was an absolutely brilliant day! I’m so glad we chose this over Chichen Itza, we have amazing memories that we can cherish forever.