Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!



Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year 2012

This is the end of my first full year as a blogger and I want to thank everyone who has read, commented or helped me since I began this venture. I started the blog as a way of recording my progress as I try to tick off all those activities on my bucket list which I had compiled prior to retiring. Places I wanted to visit or activities I wanted to experience which time and workload had prevented me attempting. I had enjoyed my working life as a teacher but I knew I wanted to make the most of my retirement and not just sit around whilst fit and able to do so many other things. It was also important to me not to rely on others for my experiences. Whilst it is fun to share activities with friends I did not want to put things off if there was no-one available to accompany me, so I have undertaken many things on my own. This has helped me to make new friends and has enriched many of the experiences.

One obvious mistake I made (pointed out to me by Crazy Cris @  http://crazycrishereandthere.blogspot.co.uk ) was not linking the bucket list achievements to the relevant post. Now I know how to do this I have been trying to update the bucket list with links. I also add to the list when I hear of interesting places to visit or new experiences I've come across (such as the pedibus).

As far as experiences go, 2012 has been an exceptional year for me and I doubt will be bettered. Eventhough I knew I would play some volunteering role in the Olympics I had no idea that it would be in the exclusive Athletes Village or that I would be part of that spectacular paralympics opening ceremony. My travels have taken me to the USA (Florida), Europe (Madrid), Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore) and of course Australasia(Australia and New Zealand). The travel highlights have to be the Great Barrier Reef and the Everglades. I have explored in depth many areas and museums in London which I didn't realise existed. Of the 95 experiences on the bucket list, this year I achieved 20 bringing my total to 34. I mourne the loss of my brother this year but I know his spirit still urges me on to discover more of the world so with that in mind bring on 2013.









Happy New Year to all fellow bloggers.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pedibus

Has anyone ever been on one of these? Here's one for my bucket list. It is a pedal powered way of travelling for a group of eight people. Everyone faces inward so you can have your own party whilst travelling. It looks a bit like a dinner party on wheels. They follow particular routes around London and are usually hired out to groups for a evening out.





I think they come with a driver who probably is in charge of steering and applying the brakes. It looks great fun. All I need now is to persuade a few friends to join me.



Friday, 28 December 2012

Unusual Christmas tree (3)

 This is the last of my unusual trees this Christmas. Last night I had to go to the Trafford centre to get some photos developed for my Mum. The sales are on and the crowds were there in their thousands. Not an enjoyable experience. Nevertheless I did spot this tree:



 
At least the children played some part in the making of this by building the baubles.
 
 
 
 
Linking with 'Orange you glad it's Friday'

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Last Sunday I started Christmas celebrations by attending a carol service with my daughter at Westminster Abbey. I applied for tickets as soon as they became available as they are soon snapped up. We were so lucky as we were given front row seats looking onto the nave. In the Abbey the main altar and the choir are not in full view of the congregation but during the carol service the choir perform in different areas of the church so that as many people as possible can see them. The choir started the service singing next to where we were seated. As you can imagine the singing was so beautiful and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was delighted to hear them sing another two carols before they moved down the Nave.





 The Abbey is one of the most iconic and historic London landmarks. It has been the setting for coronations since 1066 and has also been used for many of the Royal Weddings. The latest one, of course was Prince William  marriage to Kate Middleton. To partake in a service there always feels very special.

My son R. has been working for 'Crisis at Christmas' on the evenings when he has not been doing his normal job. (This charity provides shelter, food and lots of other services for the homeless over the Christmas period.) So he arrived early on Christmas morning after working through the night. He just managed to wish us Merry Christmas before falling asleep but he did wake up in time for Christmas lunch with the rest of the family. I love it when we all get together.

Now it is Boxing day and I have driven the 250 miles to Manchester to see Mum in the nursing home.


She had a wonderful Christmas day and her room is full of cards and presents. Here she is with a member of the nursing staff and her friend Sylvia.




Mum has been busy helping to make some of the decorations for the tree. She helped to sew these stockings which looked very colouful on the tree.




It is now evening time on Boxing Day and I am staying at my usual hotel with a very Christmassy scene from the window which looks across at the Trafford Centre -a large shopping mall.


 
In previous years I would now be celebrating down in the lounge with my brother. It is times like this that I really miss him. This is the first Christmas without him and I know I cannot face going down to the lounge bar but I will raise a glass to him here in my room.

 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Santa

Not sure what you call a gathering of Santas:
A chimney of santas?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rhinestone rollers

Last week by chance I came across a rehearsal of the 'Rhinestone Rollers' at The Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank. I first met some of the members of the Rhinestone Rollers when I was performing in the paralympic opening ceremony so it was great to be able to catch up with them again.

On Saturday I went to watch their show which was called 'Sequins and Snowballs' and was a mixture of singing and dancing. They also had the junior members of the rollers performing who were also a great success. I just don't know how they manage to manipulate their wheelchairs so quickly.




















It was great fun to watch and made me long for all the fun times we shared during the ceremony rehearsals.

Linking with 'Orange you glad it's Friday'

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Upbeat decorations

For those of you that remember London in the sixties there was only one place to go shopping for clothes - Carnaby Street. It still has a number of individual shops but alas there are now a few of the more familiar high street names appearing. But you can always rely on slightly different Christmas decorations:

What else would you do with obsolete record albums?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas ducks

Wandering through one of the Christmas markets this week I came across these wonderful ducks:

 

Monday, 17 December 2012

unusual christmas trees (2)

On my search for unusual Christmas trees and decorations, I came across this one in the window of a chinese restaurant. It is made from bamboo steamer boxes:


With just a few bows they have transformed these steamers.
 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Sandy Hook school, Newtown

You send your children to school in the morning and they never come home. My heart aches for all those families suffering the loss of their children. This is 'Our World Tuesday'



Friday, 14 December 2012

Chanukah

This is a Menorah that has been erected in Trafalgar square this week in celebration of the Jewish festival of Chanukah. The festival lasts eight days and each day another light  on the Menorah is lit.






 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas shop windows

The best Christmas decorations for me are not in London's main shopping streets like Oxford St and Regent St but in Mayfair and Piccadilly. I may not be able to afford to shop there but it costs nothing to look around.

This is Cartier's. You won't find the price of things in their windows. If you need to ask then you shouldn't be shopping there! Directly across the road is this beautiful shop window.

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the shop.

Linking to 'Orange you glad it's Friday'

Monday, 10 December 2012

Unusual Christmas trees

The other week Gattina published a post about a modern Christmas tree in the main square in Brusselshttp:(http://gattinawritercramps.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/a-scaffolding-as-x-mas-tree-in-brussels.html) I have to say I didn't like it at all nor it seems did many others including Gattina. So I've been looking around London for different trees or street decorations and found  this tree in Covent Garden:

The tree is made up of whisky barrels. The message alongside it says:

'It's not what's under the tree that matters it is who's around it, so every year with the help of family and friends we build a 26 foot tall Christmas tree made entirely of barrels that once housed Tennessee's finest whiskey. It's our gift to the people in our hometown of Lynchburg Tennessee and now we've built one for all of you too. It's just our way of saying: "Happy Holidays" because this year the biggest gift isn't under the tree - it IS the tree.'

At least you can tell what it is supposed to be.

Linking with 'Our World Tuesday'
 

Busking

An age old way of performing, busking seems to have reached new heights. I have heard such talented musicians  on the streets of London. Walking along New Bond St I heard a beautiful piece of classical music being played on a violin. At first I assumed it was coming from a shop or car radio but no it was live music. I asked if I might take his photo. It was so cold I don't know how he managed to play.

 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Anonymous bloggers

At the moment I am being inundated with comments from anonymous bloggers which are only a means to them spreading their advertising sites. I know there must be a way to prevent this but I don't know how without preventing genuine blogers from commenting. can anyone advise? Thank -you to all my helpers out there who constantly come to my aid when things go wrong..

Friday, 7 December 2012

Christmas skating rinks

At the beginning of December a number of skating rinks appear in all kinds of places. This one is outside Somerset House. Everyone seemed to be having such fun.

There was also a beautiful Christmas tree to admire.

 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas markets

Lots of Christmas markets seem to be springing up in different parts of the city. This one is on the Southbank. There doesn't seem to be many selling interesting craft items only food or drink.






But then I found this lovely stall selling wreaths and decorations made from organic materials. The smells were wonderful.

 Linking with 'Orange I'm glad it's Friday'

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sun setting over the Thames

Now that winter is here the daylight hours are so much less. This photo was taken at 2pm and already the light is beginning to fade. The picture was taken from The Hungerford bridge which is just for pedestrians. You get a wonderful view of the Thames with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the North side of the river and the London Eye on the South bank.


 Linking with Water World Wednesday

Monday, 3 December 2012

Aldwych - the secret station


I have walked along the Strand on many occasions but have never noticed this station before, possibly because I don't look up often enough!

Around the corner is the other entrance for the station.

What is so unusual about these entrances is that the station was called the Aldwych not the Strand and has been closed for over 20 years . It started life as The Strand tube station in 1907 but was renamed The Aldwych in 1915 when another station was called the Strand.

 Although not open to the public I  noticed a queue of people nearby (which being English I obviously wanted to join ). I asked if there was a tour of the station and was told you needed to prebook and all the tickets had been sold. The tours are apparently  quite rare events. Not wanting to miss out I asked if I could wait and see if someone didn't turn up and then have their place. After a couple of phone calls this was agreed as long as I paid cash! Luckily for me one person didn't show and so I was in.

You could still see the old name of the station on the old tiles.

It was quite a way down to the platforms. I think they said 160 steps which isn't that bad but it easy to lose your footing when going down a spiral staircase.

 When it was in operation there were 2 lifts for the passengers which had these beautiful grills above them.

During the 2WW this tube station was used as a bomb shelter. During 1940 when London was being bombed every night there were 100,000 people taking refuge in the deep tube stations. This station has 2 platforms. One of them was allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum for storing artefacts and valuable artworks, which included the Elgin Marbles. The second rail was used as a public shelter. In the beginning there were no toilet facilities, drainage or water supply and people just bedded down on the platform or between the rails. Conditions must have been horrendous. But gradually conditions improved with the installation of chemical toilets and bunk beds. By 1941 the Aldwych could accommodate 1500 people nightly saving many lives.

The station is now used by film makers or for the emergency services to practice for possible tube disasters. On the walls there are still some old posters

Linking with Our World Tuesday
 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Roman Bath

As I was walking from the Thames embankment up to the Aldwych I came across a lane that seemed to have an interesting building at the end. So I ignored the sign saying tradesmen deliveries only and went down to have a closer look.


 The building straddled the lane with space for a small carriage to get through in days gone by. It is now owned by King's College and once you go beyond the house there are locked gates to prevent you going any further. However just before you get to the building on the right hand side is a very strange building named the 'Roman bath'. At the side of it is a National Trust plaque describing it as 'one of the archaeological puzzlesof London'. There was a light switch on the wall so you could peer inside.

It was difficult to make out much more than an oblong pool which didn't look in the least bit inviting. The information at the side says that it was probably from the 18thcent as it was mentioned in a book by John Pinkerton in 1784. There is also mention of it in the book 'David Copperfield' by Charles Dickens who subjected David to a number of icy plunges here. At that time the bath was supplied from a spring with tens of gallons of fresh water a day. But no-one really knows how long a bath here has been in existence as the history of it prior to the 1700s is quite obscure.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The real Hong Kong

When I was in Hong Kong I stumbled across this wonderful local market. Lots of the goods were laid out on the street which is not unusual but what was different was that the street was also used by the trams.


There was a wonderful array of food and goods on display and not one tacky stall of tourist souvenirs.














 The market was full of life and colour

Linking this to Orange you glad it's Friday.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What's in a name!

 Spotted these signs outside some public toilets when I was on the coach tour of New Zealand. Every couple of hours we had to have an obligatory toilet stop. A bit like the ones I use to do when taking a group of kids out for the day! Not sure what the town was called but it was on our way to Rotorua.





All recognisable names although some more than others depending on which country you are in at the time.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Savile Row

Savile Row in  Mayfair, London is synonomous with men's tailoring. It is where many of the rich and famous come if they require a hand made bespoke suit. The word bespoke comes from the words 'to be spoken for' refering to the cloth for the suit.



It is not a very long street but it is unique in that it only has  men's top of the range clothing and tailoring shops there.


I loved the last sentence of their advertising 'Ladies bespoke tailoring by appointment only'. Not quite an invitation to pop in and browse.
All the cutting and sewing takes place in the basements of the shops which you can see into from the street level.




Just around the corner from Savile row is Burlington Gardens where you will find Ede and Ravenscroft, the oldest surviving family owned tailoring firm in England or maybe the world as the family can be traced back to the 17th cent.


A close up of the plaques outside reveals that they are the robe makers to the Royal family. However not all is well on the street as across the raod is a shop which is more familiar in the shopping malls and High Streets - Abercrombie and Fitch. There have been protests from the tailoring trade that this shop does not belong amongst these highly  recognised specialist shops. A demonstration was held outside the store on 23rd April (St George's day) by some very well dressed toffs!



(photo from Chaps magazine)
 
Linking with 'Our world Tuesday'