Wednesday, 23 November 2016

OMG a year of retirement

I've been meaning to write this post since the begining of October as this marked the end of my first  non working year. I have now been part of the retired from paid work population for just over a year. How did that happen? a full whole twelve months of not getting up at the crack of dawn to be in work for 7am. Initially before making the decision to finish completely I had toyed with the idea of taking a years sabbatical starting in October to coincide with the start of Lovejoys retirement. Oh how glad I am I decided against going down that route as I would now be back in work and knowing myself very well struggling with maintaining a contented life with Lovejoy at home.

I have had the most amazing year but boy has it flown and would I be happy about re-commencing my job? not on your life. I thought I would briefly document my first year at home mainly to show that although travel has been a big part of my year I do have other stuff going on.
My lovelies Grace and Paige

Pythagorio harbour Samos
However, the start of our first non-working year ( I've decided I don't like the word retirement I've not retired from life lol) saw us heading of to Samos with daughters and granddaughter's for a weeks relaxation. Hmm two little tots in tow not relaxing as such but great fun. The mischievous look on Paige says it all.

A selection of my cakes
Samos is the place I love to head off to whenever I can and I keep
meaning to write a post solely Samos related especially as we keep discussing ideas re how we can live there for a big chunk of the year, however pics and the odd few words will have to do for now.

Walking, cooking, playing with my grandaughters and improving my baking skills is the order of the day when at home. We have lots of National trust woodland and estates close to where we live including Hughenden Manor home to Disraeli back in the day and West Wycombe Park home to the Dashwood family famous for  the Hell Fire caves. Lovejoy and I actually got married in the house at West Wycombe park.

A trip to Somerset House and first time ice skating

Baby shower cake

Frozen Elsa cake

Trips this first non-working year included a city break to
Budapest for Lovejoys Birthday in December, two weeks in the sun in Mexico in February, six weeks Greek Island hopping through the summer followed by a week in Gran Canaria again with daughters and granddaughters. We then decided to head back to Samos in September with various UK trips in-between.

House renovations and a brand new baby granddaughter round off this first year at home (or not) lol.

A few pics to illustrate my year        

Pregnant Holly with Paige in Gran Canaria
Lovejoy me and Holly at my Niece's wedding in December

My big four and my little two at my son Tim's wedding. 

out for a stroll in our gorgeous woods

The things we Oldies do, all dressed up with Grace and Paige for Halloween
Hallowen witch I like this look
i'm keeping it lol
Our 2016 Halloween display

Beautiful Samos view with Turkey in the background
I have had the most amazing year and although we have spent a fair amount of money on our travel this is the main reason I decided to finish work early.
I want to see and do as much as I can while I
still have the inclination and energy to do so and before our money runs out lol . Plenty of time for an allotment and chickens in the future I'm just not quite ready yet.

Next year I think I'm going to take some computer lessons I just can't align these photos up properly hey ho it will have to do.
Sea horse found on beach in Samos (not lol) looks like
one though don't you think?

Two Peas in a pod Paige and Priya
Baby Priya

And to top of the most fabulous year the arrival of my new granddaughter Priya who is just beautiful born on the 28th October.

We are very hands on grandparents and because Holly is in her final year at Uni we find these two beauties and Gracie at our house a great deal.

I was anxious at first that taking extended trips would upset me too much I think I thought that they would forget me but although they all miss us when we're away they don't forget us and we all slip back to normal when we're home and
anyway we won't be doing extended trips forever and at least we will hopefully have lots of exciting tales to tell them when they're older and we have succumbed to staying home and growing our own veg.

Mind you my lovely mum who will be 87 next birthday has spent most of this summer in Puglia with her Italian boyfriend ( I kid you not) so I hope I'm still tripping about for a while longer yet dependent on finances of course, I may have to get a job lol.

Well this is just a snippet of what my first non-working year has been about however, ive not

mentioned blogging. Although I don't post as regularly as I'd like I do read and comment on lots of fabulous blogs and I love it. I've really learned a lot this past year from you bloggers out there including how to be more frugal and how to be more adventurous when styling my clothes. Here's to the second non-working year.


Monday, 5 September 2016

Not yet ready for Autumn

Quirky tavena in Vathy Samos.
Ive been reading Home Sweet Anywhere written by Lynne Martin and following her blog at Lynne and her husband Tim sold their house and possessions  about five years ago to embark on travelling the world. Lynne I think is now in her early 70's and Tim a few years younger. I love this couple, Im totally enthralled by their lifestyle and I want to do it too. Lovejoy is up for it I think?? However,we will not sell our home, but will probably rent it out for a couple of years this along with our pensions should give us enough income to fund our traveling and living expenses.

I have a serious case of wanderlust I really do and although I adore my family and my home I need to get this out of my system before I'm too much older and may not have the energy or inclination to live out of a carry on bag. I also realise how fortunate I am to have been able to retire early with no mortgage or debts so I want to have adventures before I settle down to growing my own veg lol.

Me and Lovejoy a bit worse for wear
Library of Celsus in Ephesus Turkey
numerous trips so far this year include Mexico, six weeks based on Samos visiting Turkey, Ikaria and Patmos, Gran Canaria a couple of weeks ago with our daughters and granddaughters and various trips into London for theatre shows and somerset house open air film night. We are taking one further trip to Samos on Wednesday for a month to prolong our summer I am not yet ready to launch myself into Autumn. When we get home there will be a new granddaughter's imminent arrival and further trips to plan for. Life is so much fun and I am having a ball in retirement I only wish I had more time to blog but I'm too busy living my life to write about it at the moment. Not that I'm saying those that blog every day aren't living their life theyr'e just much more organised than me lol.

Does anyone else have a massive wanderlust? If so how do you manage/fund it etc? Also what impact does it have on friends and family?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Monastiraki Square and Acropolis
So early Tuesday morning saw us making our way to Heathrow with just two small cabin bags and a pacsafe travel bag housing our laptops, cameras/phones, kindles and other paraphernalia we decided we couldn't do without for the next six weeks. First stop Athens. Although I had visited mainland Greece and many of its Islands over the years I had never been to Athens before and it was at the top of my list mainly because of its Acropolis and associated archeological sites. As direct flights to Samos don't start until next week it was a great opportunity to combine Athens with this trip as Samos is only a short forty minute hop by prop plane.

Arriving at Athens airport we took the Metro into Monastiraki Square which was where we would be staying for the next two nights. The district of Monastiraki is the ideal place to stay for visiting the Acropolis and has a distinct village feel about it being full of quaint streets with vintage shops, lots of cafe's and restaurants and the entrance to the flea market. Our hotel A for Athens had a rooftop bar and restaurant which is where the above pic was taken.

Fabulous Enastron
As we only had a limited time in Athens we decided the short trek through the square up to the Acropolis to view the Parthenon and other ancient buildings would be best done early in the morning before it became to hot and crowded followed by a long leisurly lunch. Lots of restoration work going on, however as this fabulous ancient temple complex dates back to the 5th century BC its not surprising and the surrounding views over Athens are breathtaking.

Folowing our visit to the Acropolis we wandered back down and meandered along the gorgeous narrow pedestrian streets of the Plaka district in search of our recommended restaurant for lunch. Having been advised to avoid the tourist restaurants our helpful receptionist at the hotel recommended the Enastron as being frequented by locals and serving authentic traditional Greek food. He was right, chickpeas baked in the oven, simple but delicious, feta with honey and sesame seeds and a lovely little pie called pastourma and this just for starters. Mains called for grilled beef liver perfectly cooked for Lovejoy and chicken souvlaki for me washed down with a bottle of dry white wine from an aromatic Greek grape called Moschofilero. The service and surroundings in this little place were just perfect. Feeling rather full after lunch we continued to wander around soaking up the atmosphere and taking pics of the district and even some Athens street art.

The following morning we discovered there would be a transport strike from 11 o'clock meaning no metro to the airport so we left earlier than anticipated and hung around the airport until we could board our flight to Samos. I'm finishing this post on day 12 of our trip, I have 32 days left and a lot has happened since leaving Athens, however sadly my blogging is not keeping up with events. We have been all over Samos and tomorrow we are going over to Kusadasi in Turkey and will be visiting the archeological site of Ephesus and apparantly the house of the Virgin Mary. Ancient ruins may not suit everyone but I'm in heaven.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Athens, Samos, and Greek island hopping

Beautiful Klima bay Samos at sunset
Eagle creek load warrior international
I'm buzzing with excitement and unable to write much for this post as tomorrow we set off on our six week trip to Samos and I'm trying to pack everything I need into a cabin bag only. This is an experimental packing trip as next year we intend to travel for approx 4-5 months on cabin luggage alone. It's my roots I'm really worried about lol

We did buy some compression cubes but after much trial and error decided that we could pack more stuff without them. There is something incredibly freeing about not having much luggage although my friend thinks I'm barmy, she needs a bigger bag than this for an overnight stay.

I will be taking my laptop so hopefully will post snippets of our trip as its happening. we will be spending two nights in Athens then flying to Samos on Thursday. We will be exploring Samos in detail and completing some of the fabulous Nightingale walks. We will also do a little island hopping to nearby Chios, Patmos and Ikaria where apparently most of the population live on average 10 years longer than those in the rest of Europe and America with one in three Ikarians living into their 90's. I need to find out what their secret is or maybe i'll just ask my mum lol.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Advanced fabulousness, my mum and a trip to Lille

Me and mum 
It was my mum's 86th birthday last week and being more into giving and receiving experiences than giving and receiving stuff me and Lovejoy took her on a trip to Lille to celebrate. 

Mum had never been on the Eurostar and it was on her bucket list. We were catching the 8.04 train from St Pancras so stayed over night in the Premier Inn on Euston Road which is pretty much directly opposite the station. What Premier Inn's lack in character they more than make up for in comfort, cleanliness and good value for money. One and a half hours later we were in Lille. It took us longer than that to get to Brighton a couple of weeks ago.

I'm very proud of my mum,  she may not dress in garish colours and ostrich feathers but she's bloody marvellous and not just for 86, she gamely kept up with the two of us wandering all over Lille, eating and drinking and generally being bloody good fun. Advanced style eat your heart out.

C&A in Lille what joy

Lille is situated in North West France approximately ten miles from the Belgium border and is a lovely quirky medieval town full of the most wonderful boutiques, eateries, patisseries and architecture. We wandered round the gorgeous pedestrian streets of the old town which combines old style Flemish influence with modern shopping malls and everything in between. We even found a C&A much to my delight.

Au Vieux de la Ville
Carbonade Flamande
We discovered that the best places to eat in Lille are without doubt the Estaminets and the most well known in Lille is the Au Vieux de la Ville which we loved so much we went twice. These are frequented by local people and can get really busy however, we went early so had no trouble finding a table. Estaminet means small cafe and these were charming places full of character and quirky bits and bobs not to mention wonderful artisan food like Carbonade Flamande a wonderfully falling apart beef stew and Rabbit with prunes. 

Apart from losing ourselves wandering through all the quirky streets leading off the Grande Place (main square) we visited Lille Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille, France's most recently completed Cathedral and a national monument. The Cathedral was completed with a modern facade in 2000 in time to celebrate the millennium.
medieval entrance to the cathedral
modern facade 
two sides of the same coin

Just beautiful

Gorgeous stained glass window

Pillars of the Earth
Lille is a charming quirky medieval French town and we all loved it but the most memorable part of the trip for me was spending some quality time with my mum.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Brighton Rocks

Birthday Girl

It was my 57th birthday on Friday so we decided to take a trip to Brighton for the weekend. Being on a bit of a budget due to forthcoming trips we stayed in a small hotel in Kemp town called The Limehouse with what was described as a room with a sea view but technically turned out to be in my opinion a sea peep. However the room was quirky clean and comfortable and we weren't in it for long spending most of our time wandering, exploring and eating and drinking.
Massive delicious Rhubarb and Ginger Gin

Kemp town is historically known as an actors and artists quarter and is characterised by a network of quirky streets with specialised shops, hotels cafes bars and pubs. The first port of call having checked in and deposited our bags was a little cafe called The Manor which lured us in by advertising speciality gins. Rhubarb and ginger gin with juniper berries and a light lunch of fish cakes and salad hit the spot nicely as we had a meal booked for that evening and it was already past three o'clock.

 That evening we went to La petite Maison. Set in the heart of Brighton's lanes where they focus on serving quality fresh sussex produce. I do remember enjoying my dinner and its accompanying bottle of red, however, I do not have a pic due to too much Gin.

Saturday saw more wandering and exploring the Lanes and more eating and drinking. There were lots of quirky interesting shops to explore and many examples of street art which apparently rival the remains of the Berlin wall for sheer beauty and extraordinary creativity. A reproduction of Banksy's Kissing Coppers is located on Trafalgar street which I stupidly forgot to take a pic of, however here is  selection of some of the art I did remember to photograph.

I found all of the street art fascinating, and the scenes I saw were stunningly beautiful and striking and its apparently all down to the forward thinking of the Green Party Council. During our exploration of the Lanes and North Laine I a came across lots of interesting little shops, below are just a few.
The sewing machine shop (not)
The front, side and rear windows of this shop in East street are entirely filled with an array of antique sewing machines so that at first glance it is impossible to make out what the shop is selling. It actually sells very expensive clothing from The British All Saints Spitalfield brand. The name All Saints was inspired by both the All Saints Road in Notting Hill and 60's TV icon Simon Templar as the Saint. I've had to look this up but I do remember the Saint, perhaps thats why there is a street art version of the Saint.
Gorgeous chocolaterie
Fabulous irregular choice shop window. Having bought a pair of these as my wedding shoes online I was thrilled to find an actual shop in Brighton. Those yellow ones with the red flowers have my name on them, however, I was good and didn't buy a pair.

 Only in Brighton. We could see this chap opposite from our hotel room, it scared me to death until I realised what I was looking at.
Brighton pier


Brighton wheel
Brighton pavilion

The weather was absolutely bitterly cold but it was a fun birthday weekend.