Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day Three , Pope Francis, St Peters Square.

On Sunday morning we took the Metro to St Peters Square. It was a really hot and humid day, by 10.30 am the crowds had started to form, no one seemed to know where to look, all we knew was that at 12 noon  Pope Francis was due to appear at a window and lead a prayer called the Angelus, followed by a blessing.
When we arrived all the shade had already been taken so we decided to wait it out in the square by the main water fountain. 

We had time to check out all of the beautiful statutes. 

By the time the man himself was due the whole square was packed with people, there were thousands and thousands of people! In the end we had to join the crowd and buy a parasol to give ourselves a spot of shade!

As the crowd got bigger we got chatting to the people near to us and of course they ended up coming from Herts!! They were staying at the hotel next to ours and their children went to Catholic schools that had played Beth's school at various Netball and Football matches!! Its a small world.

At last the star of the show appeared and read the prayer in Italian, of course the only part we understood was the blessing! Once he finished he read some of the banners in the crowd, people from all over the world.  That caused lots of cheering! Once he left the crowd started to disperse and we headed away. We came across a small take away pizza place, we sat outside on the pavement and ate the most delicious four cheese pizza, hot out of the pizza oven, the shop was a real one man show, with free tasters of the pizzas! It was a welcome relief to find somewhere in the shade to sit down and have a bite to eat!

The rest of the afternoon we wandered along a street that had some nice shops and stopped off to have an ice cream along the way. I really enjoyed the day and I am so pleased that we got to see the Pope!! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day Two, Rome central!

Day two was as hot as day one which was lovely, we really haven't had much in the way of summer so far this year, so it was nice to wear summer clothes . The first stop of the day was The Spanish Steps, It was very busy, loads of people all over the place!! We took a walk to the top to view the city.

The great thing about Rome is that its full of tiny cobbled streets with surprises around every corner.  The biggest surprise was the Trevi Fountain, which just appeared out of nowhere!!

Its a massive fountain full of magnificent sculptures, its an all action place with loads of people taking in the atmosphere. The famous story is about throwing coins into the fountain, One coin thrown over your left shoulder means that you will come back to Rome , 2 coins means new romance and three coins for a marriage or divorce. The city of Rome collect around 3000 Euros a day from the fountain and its donated to a variety of charities.

From the fountain we headed down to the Colosseum area, we passed lots of Roman ruins, it seems so strange that they sit alongside modern Rome. 

The Colosseum was quite spectacular, the next time I go I will take a tour and learn about the history. I love this photo mainly because of the great sky!

Watch out below........

I love people watching, while taking a break listening to a chap playing some lovely music this couple wandered up, as they got closer it was obvious that they were English speaking. I knew without hearing them speak that they were likely to be English, who else would wear hooped long socks with striped pyjama style shorts and a bright green polo shirt ?? Us Brits have a style of our own!!!! Bless him!!!! I suppose it could have been worse he could have been wearing flip flops and socks!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We are home after a fabulous long weekend away enjoying the city of Rome.
We landed last night at 9.30 after an uneventful flight. We were just about to get off when the pilot announced that instead of landing at the South terminal we had in fact landed at the North terminal, this was due to a 'technical situation' . The problem with this was that we landed at a far flung gate, it took twenty minutes for us to walk to the baggage reclaim! I wasn't impressed, that was twenty minutes with the aid of the moving walkways, I have no idea how long it would have been if it was totally on foot!!!
That of course wasn't the end of it, our car was parked in the South long stay car park, which was strangely at the South terminal, so we had to get our bags, clear the totally abandoned customs area and catch a train to the South terminal, where we then had to wait for a shuttle bus to the car park. No exactly a calm end to our holiday!!! Still it could have been worse, in the past we had been expecting to land at Gatwick only to have the flight diverted to Luton, again our car was parked at Gatwick so we had to take the bus down to Gatwick so we could drive back home grrrrr.

Anyway, back to the holiday. The hotel we stayed in was perfect. I was really pleased with my choice. We arrived at The ESH (Executive Style Hotel) at around 8.30pm on Thursday evening we checked into our room on the second floor. Our room was beautifully cool, it was very hot and muggy outside. We unpacked and then went to the restaurant on the top floor. It was a terrace restaurant with softly blowing drapes and lovely food. 

I had previously booked a guide for the following morning to do a tour of the Vatican museums ending with a trip to the Sistine Chapel. It was a huge bonus having a tour guide as she was able to give us the background to lots of the exhibits and we learnt lots of facts about the painters! 

The tour went by in a whirl, I will have to research the photos that I took, because I can't remember too much about who did what. There was so much to see and if I did it over again I think I would choose an element, such as the cherubs or angels and look at those. The sculpture above was so beautiful, the face is beautiful, but I can't remember who the artist is. 

The Vatican museums cover a huge area, the Sistine Chapel opens out onto St Peters Square. the photo above is of the Dome of St Peters, The Cupola.  I had long thought about making the climb to the top of the cupola, but I wasn't sure I would be fit enough to do so. So you know how it is, boiling hot day, no drink spur of the moment decision to just do it!!!

Tom and I both started out and made it to the first level inside the dome.

The going was quite tough, but manageable. Once we reached the first level it was quite scary a huge drop down into the church below. Tom decided that was enough for him and headed back down to the start, I decided to go on. To start with it was OK, the main problem being the lack of hand rails. As I went up the stairs got narrower and the ceiling got lower, the steps were worn and shiny. Luckily there were passing points along the way, because I needed them to stop and rest!

I am looking a bit hot and sweaty in this one!!! (I asked a passing climber to take my picture!!)
The last set of steps were the worst, they narrowed down to the size of wide ladder rungs on a spiral stair case, there was a rope hanging down to give you something to haul yourself up on. I was very glad to finish those last few steps!! Once up there the view was fantastic!

I am so pleased to have made the climb, once at the top my legs felt like jelly and my hip was on fire. 
Another thing off my bucket list!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Greetings from Roma!!!

Today is the last full day of our trip to Rome. It has been a fantastic experience. It's been a lot of walking but we have seen the sights and experienced Rome to the full.

Our hotel is lovely with beautiful spacious rooms, a powerful shower, SOFT bed, air conditioning AND free wifi, so I am writing this sat outside with a nice glass of wine and my iPad!!

I am looking forward to updating once back in England, just hope the parties haven't been too wild while I have been away !!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Today I started something, I really wished that I hadn't!!!!!

This weekend has been a busy one, it started with a leaving do on Friday evening which was great fun with free flowing cider and a hog roast - Perfect!!!! Even better was that I didn't have any form of hangover the next morning - result!!! The weather has been quite nice so I have been in the back garden weeding. I seem to have grown a great crop of ornamental grass which is as a result of my bird feeder, so all that had to go. Another strange thing is that this year the garden is full of pink and purple flowers, last year there were flowers in other colours, but they don't seem to be around anymore. I am going to have to plant some whites and yellows to brighten things up!!!

So after making that colour statement, I do have four flowers that are white, aliums! they are tall and hover over the pink stuff, so they don't really count!!!

I have purple Iris, I was given them last year and they are all flowering this year. 

I have French Lavender which is a bit leggy as I forgot to chop it back last year and the flowers only grow on new growth so its far taller than I was expecting !

Toms favourite is Clematis and guess what ?? its purple!!!

The job I started this weekend which I wished I hadn't was installing Microsoft Office 2010. I have been having problems with my Office 2003 version for a while. It kept crashing and freezing so I invested in a shiny new copy of 2010 and started to install it. I got part way through when it told me that the original program was corrupt and that I needed to uninstall it and try again. That was a problem because it meant that I had to save all my emails to a spare drive before trying again. I was finally in the position to try again, so I uninstalled 2003 and set 2010 running, this time it it worked, sadly before deleting my emails I forgot to note down the 'product key' for the new version which had arrived by email in the middle of last year, so again I could go no further. I couldn't re install 2003 as it was corrupt, in the end I had to install and old XP version retrieve the email and then start all over again. A five minute job that took me hours!!!! Grrrrr. On the plus side Outlook has been totally stable since the new installation!

This week is going to be a busy one. Mum goes into hospital tomorrow for an exploratory operation on her knee. They think she has an infection which is proving difficult to eradicate, they hope that they can take swabs to decide what the bug is and then find an anti-biotic that will work. Fingers crossed that it all goes well and she is home soon.

I am off to Liverpool for a conference followed by our Anniversary trip to Rome. I am looking forward to that,  I have prepared well and I hope I have left very little to chance!!

See you all soon 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Channeling our Inner 'Artist' - Again!!!!

Last week my friend Jane and I decided to take advantage of a 20% discount to attend our second Cork and Canvas Art evening at Brookmans in Brookmans park. We both fancied having a go at this particular canvas called Owls! The whole of the evening is quite relaxing and we had the advantage of knowing the plan of action for the evening. We got there a little early and planned to have a bite to eat. I was really looking forward to the stunning chicken liver parfait on brioche and Jane fancied a repeat of her duck salad. Sadly summer had intervened and they changed their menu, wiping the parfait from the offerings and swapping it to stuffed rabbit something or other. I stopped taking notice at the rabbit bit!! In the end we shared a mixed platter of tempting nibbly bits including mozzarella, tomatoes, smoked chicken, pitta bread and some lovely chutney. We topped it off with a few chips in a very trendy bucket!! 

Back to the painting, we followed the artist who was demonstrating and eventually produced our paintings! On the original version there was a phrase painted up the middle of the tree in very lovely cursive writing. We were both too chicken to attempt that on the night, although Jane has put me to shame as she has now done an excellent job of finishing hers. I really must bite the bullet and do it!!! It was another really good evening, I had no idea where the time went as we found ourselves heading home around 11.45, AND on a school night, whatever next!!!

We have had some better weather in the past week, but this weekend has been a bit disappointing. Last night we had friends around and Carl, Beth and Grace sat in the back room and treated our neighbours to some awful singing at the top of their voices!! It sounded terrible to us and there was a closed door between us and them, it must have been so much worse close up !!

Today I called around to see Mum and Dad and Dad has some lovely flowers blooming in the back garden. I really like these chives. I think I will try and grow some next year. Best of all, all this photos have been taken with an Iphone, I am pretty impressed with the detail for a phone camera.

At the end of last week I bought some new clothes so I spent Friday evening having a massive clear out in my bedroom. Five bags later I can now get all my clothes in the wardrobe and the bedroom looks so much better. For the first time I have been mercenary I have just bagged stuff up and got rid of it, its quite scary but it had to be done. Perhaps it will be easier next time!!
This has also been a weekend of technical achievement, I replaced my printer with a brand new all singing and dancing wifi, icloud, air print printer. I followed the instructions and they worked!! I can now print from anywhere in the house and I can print from anywhere in the world!! Not sure why I would want to do that, but one day I am sure I will find it useful!!! So far I have printed a few bits and I am pleased with the quality. 
Beth is into the final week of her exams, fingers crossed that she passes them all, this time next week it will all be over and done with!!!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Happy Birthday Tom!!!

Its that time of year again, Tom's birthday !! Its rare that we are at home for it. Over the years we have been on cruises and holidays in Majorca so this time we celebrated at home!! Tom is a big fan of Deal or No Deal, so I commissioned a batch of themed cup cakes, six fruit and six vanilla. They were very delicious!! 
Try out Cupcakes and Sprinkles they are brilliant!!!

Its also a great excuse to get a birthday photo or two!!

This week has been another busy one, yesterday I had a business trip into London. The good thing is that the weather seems to be on the change for the better, so we are enjoying a bit of sun. I love coming home from work and sitting having a cup of tea in the back garden sunning myself! Simple pleasures!!

Last Friday I had a series of injections in my wrist to deal with carpal tunnel syndrome, I am so pleased that they seem to have worked, I hardly dare believe my good fortune, because I was getting pretty fed up with the whole situation!!

Beth only has another week of her GCSE's left, just 6 or 7 exams left and then she will be free for the whole summer. She has her prom to look forward to. I think we only have her shoes to buy and then she will be set for the big night. I am excited as its another great photo chance and I simply don't get too many of those with the 'children' these days!!

Mum and Dad are ticking along, Dad has had the all clear from the cardiologist and today Mum has had a pre op for an investigation into her knee. They are going to try and get a sample of fluid from her knee to see what the infection is. Once they know they will be able to use the right anti-biotics on it. Her op is set for the 17th of June, which is perilously close to our weekend away for our Wedding Anniversary. I hope that it gets delayed or it has the potential to clash and not in a good way :(

Waving to my mate Sue and wishing her hubby Richard a very speedy recovery now he has been discharged from L and D. xxxxxxx 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Another thing off my 'Bucket List'

Recently I have made a list of things that I would like to do, some of them have been possible due to my reducing size, some because I have more confidence to try things. 

Friday lunch time I had to go into hospital for a procedure on my wrist, I have been suffering from Carpal Tunnel syndrome for about the last two years on and off. Of late it has been much worse and it has been keeping me awake at night, with pins and needles that are actually painful. It really interferes with my sleeping pattern and I get up feeling knackered. So I was referred to the hospital where they carried out injections into the affected area to try and reduce the swelling and stop the pain.
I was not very impressed with the appointment, it really hurt exactly where it was hurting without any extra interference from the needles!!!  I am now resting my wrist and trying to get over the trauma of the multiple injections!!!

Today I booked to have a tattoo with my life long friend Madeline and her daughter (my God Daughter) Grace. Beth came along as she wanted her nose pierced. We booked with 'Flesh Ideas' in Stevenage old town. It seems that Saturday morning was ladies morning because everyone there was a 'Lady'.
We started in a very civilised way, with a cup of tea, Madeline had an Espresso and was wired for hours afterwards!!!

I had given the design loads of thought, I wanted something pretty, I wanted something that had a meaning for me and something to signify my journey. I also wanted it to be somewhere on my body that I would be able to see it. Since losing weight I have a fair few flabby bits of skin, so I wanted to avoid those, so eventually ended up deciding on the inside of my left wrist. (my right wrist is the poorly one!!)
So after trawling the web I finally found an image that I liked, pink blossom, I have a soft spot for flowers and pink blossom in particular. I wanted a word to go with it and agonised over that for weeks as well, I finally decided of the word ' Renaissance' which is a French word and one of its meanings is reborn or start over again. I felt that was appropriate for me and my circumstances!!

I am really pleased with it, this picture was taken just after I had taken the cling film off and given it a wash. Its a bit swollen and will be a bit scabby if I don't keep it moisturised. 
The best way I can describe it is like having sun burnt skin scratched over again.

Beth had her nose pierced, not something I was keen for her to have done, but she is now old enough to do her own thing within reason so I finally gave in and said yes. I was surprised that she had it done as she is not keen on needles, or guns up her nose!!!

So a number of 'firsts' for the first of June and who knows we might have to do it all again sometime!!