Friday, 3 August 2018

Two Go Mad in Somerset

When R and I went to Stockholm last month, we went alone on the basis that L had said that she couldn't have any time off at the moment, and E claimed that she didn't really want to go on a family holiday without L. It was only when we got back that we realised that E was rather miffed - apparently 3 days in Stockholm doesn't count as a 'holiday', it's just a 'fun weekend', and yes she would have liked to have gone! Feeling guilty, I booked a last minute 3 days (2 nights) trip to sunny Weston Super Mare for the 2 of us. Alright, so it's not exactly exotic, but E and I have had several trips in the UK as treats following various exams and we always have fun together.
Weston was no exception. Admittedly, the hotel sucked: I booked it because it was right on the seafront (it was), and it was cheap (you could tell!). The decor was tired and dated, the breakfast abysmal, and the shower curtain rancid. Worst of all, was the attitude of the manager - when I asked for some soya milk at breakfast, the waiter disappeared and returned with the boss. She then spent 5 minutes explaining (at volume) that guests with dietary requirements normally brought their own. I was icily polite as I explained that I had said that we were vegan at the time of booking and that reception had confirmed it on our arrival. No one had mentioned anything about providing for ourselves (which we would happily have done if only we had been told). Apparently, she hadn't been informed and somehow that was our fault. With the words 'I am the customer, and therefore right' ringing loudly (admittedly, only in my head!  :0)  ) we glumly perused the full English menu together. She then offered us a 'gluten free sausage' and to our great credit, we managed not to laugh. I was very tempted to ask for some 'wafer thin ham', but restrained myself. We managed to cobble together something to eat, and then looked at each other in disbelief as the people on the table behind us were asked if they wanted the full English or were they awkward too!
She excelled herself on our last day when some unfortunate eldery lady vomited at breakfast (probably as good a comment on the food as any I could give). The poor lady was mortified and the manager's response was to pull a face, announce 'Ew!' and then exit the room, leaving her staff to clear it up. I'd slate them on Trip Adviser if I could be bothered to register with them. As I can't, can I just recommend that anyone visiting Weston Super Mare avoid The Sandringham Hotel. Still, it was memorable.
Here then are some photos from Weston:
  The beach was enormous and beautifully sandy:
 ............... apart from when the tide went out leaving a strip of sticky mud. We found this out on our first day when we managed to miss the warning signs!
I do love donkeys, but we felt very sorry for these poor beasts, forced to stand in the hot sun all day giving rides to fractious toddlers. They did enjoy a nice ear rub though.
 The Weston Eye. I'm terrified of heights, but forced myself to go on this. E enjoyed it!
 Crazy golf:
 Vegan ice cream!
  Sand sculptures:
 E's attempt!
  Lunch at a Japanese restaurant - YUM!
 Dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant - there were hats and ponchos for dressing up, but I'm not posting those particular photos!
 The one thing I don't have photos of is the high ropes course from our last day. Can I just reiterate my acrophobia at this point? E  was keen, and I was desperate to have actually done it, even if it terrified me. They allowed me to go up to assess it first before committing myself, and next thing  I could hear someone saying that it would be okay - that someone was me .......................... and it turned out that it wasn't! E was an absolute star, she went first over each of the sections and then talked me through it, encouraging me every step of the way. She hugged me after each part as I clung sobbing to the central pole, and told me I was doing fantastically well, when clearly I wasn't. The worst part was the final zip wire. Had the harness been taut at that point, I think I would have been okay. Unfortunately, you actually had to drop off the platform before it became taut and that was the part that freaked me out. Eventually (there was quite a queue behind me at this point, and they couldn't overtake as our harnesses were attached to the wire in order), the man running it decided to come to my rescue. He did the zip wire in reverse (it was a very shallow gradient), misjudged his aim and managed to crush my legs against the platform that I was sitting on. My knight in shining armour slid slowly back down the wire with me shouting 'How was that possibly helpful?' after him! His second attempt was more successful and he told me that he would use his weight and momentum to carry us both back. That did the trick - not wanting to be squashed a second time, I dropped off the platform and slid whimpering to the end, where E hugged me and we examined my rapidly developing bruises. It's now a week later and they are still appalling. Overall though, Weston with E was lovely; she is always good company and great fun to be with.

Other happies this month:
Finishing my black denim pinafore dress (pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons):
Not really a happy as such, more a question. What are these 2 bees doing? (I know that sounds a little stupid!). They look like completely different species to me, so are they mating? They were locked like this for quite some time, eventually the larger one seemed to have had enough and seemed to be trying to remove the smaller of the two. I tried to help with the aid of a twig, but angry buzzing ensued, so I left them to it. Eventually they flew away, so I assume all was fine. My knowledge of bees is deplorable, so I'm afraid that I don't know if they are different types of the same bee - worker and queen?  Sorry to be so ignorant, but I was fascinated - CT, can you help?
I bought tickets for the Pink Floyd Experience for R. He was a big fan of the original and though it's not quite my cup of tea, he seemed to quite enjoy it:
Deirdre munching windfalls:
Pride socks for L:
Dusting 'Bernard' off ready for the summer. Look at my poor drought ridden lawn:
Working on my Featherweight Cardigan by the river:
This chap has been around quite a lot recently:
A day trip to Brighton in Bridget. It's been a while since we last went to Brighton and, to be honest, I was slightly disappointed - it all seemed slightly run down and there was far too much graffiti. Maybe they had spent all their money on the offshore wind farm. Still, it was a lovely sunny day, and we had chips on the beach - always a favourite. I also got to visit their yarn shop, Yak.

The Pavillion:
The Lanes - again, I remembered these as having a more diverse selection of shops. They were mostly overpriced jewellers.
Finally, my anniversary flowers:
Someone liked the box!
Well, that's all for now. I have been enjoying the slightly cooler weather this week, but I hear that it's going to be hot again tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend, whatever you have planned.

Toodle pip for now. x

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Stockholm

A few weeks ago, I suggested to R that we go away for a few days before the schools broke up for the summer. We decided on a weekend trip to Stockholm, never dreaming that England would get through to the World Cup quarter finals, let alone that they would be playing Sweden on the day of our arrival! Yellow shirts abounded, and though we didn't watch the match, we were having a late lunch at the time and could hear excited shouts and cheering from the pubs and restaurants nearby that were screening the game. When we'd finished eating, I had to ask a chap wearing a yellow shirt if the match was over and, if so, who had won. He was very nice about their 2-0 defeat and I managed not to do a fist pump until we were some distance away! 
Stockholm was lovely, and you could spend far longer than our 3 days and still not cover everything. The people were very friendly, spoke excellent English which made it very easy for us, and the weather was sunny but cooler than the heat wave that we had left behind in the UK. We walked almost non-stop for the 3 days, managed to find vegan food to sustain us, and generally had a wonderful time.
Here then, are a few of the many photos of our trip:
Walking from our hotel to the city centre:
 Stadshuset, the city hall. The Nobel Banquet is held in the Blue Hall every December and you can also get married here. We took a tour of the building and, if we'd had longer, would have climbed the tower for the view.
Storkyrkan - Stockholm's cathedral.  The Statue of St. George and the Dragon dates from 1489 and is carved from oak and elk horn:
 There may have been a few of these! 
 Loving the old telephone boxes:
 The Dala shop in Gamla Stan, the medieval city centre. The Dala horses are very popular with tourists but, like Stockholm generally, were very expensive.
 These houses reminded me of Amsterdam:

 A guard outside the Royal Palace:
 This little chap kept popping up in various places:
The spire of Riddarholmskyrkan. This is one of Stockholm's oldest buildings and is the burial place for the Swedish royal family:
 
 We hid the Islastone here:

 
  The Vasamuseet was, for us, the highlight of our trip. The warship Vasa was built between 1626 and 1628. Unfortunately, she was top heavy with insufficient ballast and capsized and sank before even making it out of the harbour on her maiden voyage. In 1961, she was raised to the surface and is now housed in the museum. She is remarkably intact, far more so than the Mary Rose, and you could spend an entire day here learning about her restoration and crew.


Lunch at a music 'lounge'.  We found this little gem down a small side street and ate sandwiches  (made by an old lady who seemed rather bemused that we only wanted salad on them) to the sound of classical music. It was all rather surreal.
Stockholm has a huge open air museum called Skansen. Founded in 1891, it shows Swedish history through the ages. It contains over 150  traditional buildings which were dismantled and then rebuilt on the site. Staff in traditional period costumes bake and craft whilst giving talks and answering questions.There is also a children's petting zoo and a selection of Nordic animals.
The funicular railway:


Is it a moose or an elk?!

Monday morning saw us walking to a yarn shop near to our hotel. I was hoping for a little yarny souvenir but, sadly, it was closed. I think the owner was on holiday.
Amusing bird on statue - initially it just landed on the statue's arm. I commented that it would make a good photo if the bird was on his finger - it immediately obliged by shuffling along!
We couldn't go to Stockholm without going on a boat!


Yummy Lebanese food  before heading to the airport - I ate far too much!

Well, that was our short trip to Stockholm. I would heartily recommend it for a city break. If  you have more time, please visit the ABBA Museum for me!
Toodle pip for now. x