Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Weekend in Krakow

I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Krakow in Poland. Part of my drive to see new places in Europe meant that I 'did' Poland twice in a month!!

This time it was Krakow a very pretty city and the former capital city of Poland. We flew with Ryan air from Stanstead. The first flight had not been without issues, this time it was no better. We arrived at the airport early in the morning for out 8.30am flight. We checked the boards and queued up at the right check in desk. After waiting for ages to get to the front (Ryan air have supermarket style queues where what ever queue you join moves the slowest!! Easy jet have Post Office style queues where you queue and take the next available check in) Once we got to the front the lady said that check in had moved to another desk!! So we moved queued again finally got to the front and the baggage machine in our queue broke down. We asked the lady what we should do and she said join another queue!!!! Well I was not best pleased. I was fuming. Luckily the man in the queue next door allowed us to go next on his queue!

So we headed off to security check in and I was subjected to yet another body search, the perils of having a metal hip joint. I know why they have to do it, but it can be downright  invasive to have the waist band of your trousers 'felt' under your top. I really had not appreciated just how much of an issue that this would be for me. It makes clearing security a complete pain. I wish all airports had body scanners at least they can see what my issue is. 

We took off and had a bit of a bumpy flight, we landed several times having bounced along the carriageway. We were late so were not subjected to the Ryanair fan fair!!

We were collected by taxi (another moment of fame, a man waiting for me with my name on a board!!) Our hotel, The Hotel Polonia,  We had chosen the hotel for its good reviews and excellent price. We paid around £30 a night for bed and excellent breakfast.

The view from my hotel room was good, I looked over a park and a tram stop. The hotel and the tram have both been there since 1917 and every time the trams went by the whole place shook!

On the second day we took a really exhausting trip to Auschwitz , Birkenau and the salt mines.
We were collected at 9am and had a 90 minute drive to Auschwitz. We had a tour guide who took us around the camp. Its a very sad place and very hard to actually understand the whole size of the horror that happened there, 

Strangely the place looked like quite a nice collection of blocks of flats , I know that at the height of the atrocity it was very grim but look at it now!

There is still lots of evidence of the past history around, barbed wire and look out towers.

There were two concentration camps close together, the other one was called Birkenau, there was a railway that connected the camps. People were rounded up and taken to one of the camps where they were selected to either work or be exterminated. Some people arrived at the camp and were killed within the hour. A truly horrific place.

There were some very sad exhibits, people had been told that they were being taken to a better place to escape the war, so they packed all their precious belongings to take to their new life. They were stripped of their possessions and executed.

We walked for miles (according to my tracker on my iphone by the end of the day we had walked 9 miles!!) 
We ended the day by visiting the salt mines. That was an interesting trip, We went far underground and visited an underground cathedral built by the miners. It was quite a trip!

Just about everything was made out of rock salt.

It was a great visit right up until the end when we had to get back up to the surface via a miners lift, which was cramped and pitch black!!!

Take a look at the Salt Mine Website HERE!

That was an exhausting day but one that I am glad I was able to do. 

Hurrah!! we are heading towards a long weekend. I love a nice Bank Holiday! I am getting used to four day weeks.

Have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

All the Children are back in England.

Today we collected Grace and Carl from Heathrow, they had travelled from Australia, three flights several time zones and total exhaustion after 26 hours on the go! We had an early start, up at 5am to collect them, it was good to see them back none the less.

They had a great time and we heard a few of their adventures on the journey home I expect over the next few weeks we will hear a few  more! I suspect we were a bit of a let down, we forgot to bring a a big banner with their names on!! We dropped Carl home and I didn't have any washing to do , the bonus of him living in his own flat!

This Easter holiday Beth went away to Spain so Tom and I had a fairly peaceful time apart from all the trips to the airport!

I have had a nice creative weekend doing a few bits and pieces to keep me amused. My friend Jane is doing a stall at a cancer research fund raiser, she needs to make a few bits and bobs, so she has started to 'create' some things to sell. Today I helped her by making a few draw string bags which we plan to fill with some useful bits. I bought a similar bag from a craft show and we know can adapt them for our needs. 

The material is really cute, lots of little pink ribbons, I have delivered them back to her and will await the filling ceremony complete with information tag!!

I have been in need of a new sewing box, I have outgrown the one that I have and its something that I use fairly regularly! Last one one of the ladies that I work with had got some sturdy shoe boxes that she had saved for me (I use them for Samaritans purse Shoebox appeal at Christmas) So I re-purposed one of them!

It was good to get my hot glue gun out again and make my box!! It didn't take too long to fill it up again, I may need to make another one, I am pleased with how it turned out.

I know that I am becoming a bit of a holiday bore, but on Friday we went around to see Raymonde and Colin. This year they have been to Taiwan a couple of times already, so it was only right that I picked their brains for the right area to stay. We had a lovely evening, great food and loads of advice about where to go and what to see, we also saw lots of pictures, I am really looking forward to going and exploring for myself! The good thing for everyone who has to put up with me going on about this is that I have now booked a hotel in Taipei - Hurrah!!! I 'think' its in a good area as per my notes. Its next to a train station so that's another good point! few more nights booked so all is well with the world!

This week I have a fair bit going on to look forward to, so have a great week and I'll be back soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Month is flashing by!!

Its already nearly two weeks since Grace and Carl went to Australia and watching them enjoying themselves via their posts on Face book and on Instagram has been brilliant. Soon they will start the long journey home and they must be looking forward to getting back to work with jet lag!!!

I am not really sure what this plant is, its a bit like a skinny amaryllis, I bought it from Aldi's just after Christmas, I can't remember if it was £1.49 or £1.99 either price was a bargain!! So far it has had a succession of stems bearing four flower heads. It seems to have another one coming after this one comes to an end. Just need to find out what it is now!!

There has been a fair bit going on, my friend celebrated a big birthday and her lovely husband arranged a surprise  dinner out, I was honoured to be invited along to celebrate. So went out for dinner in Harpenden! I did take a few pictures, but low light and the odd cider or two meant that they all came out a bit on the blurry side !!!

This has been a week of birthday parties, Our friend Rick has had a big birthday as well, so we celebrated with him and his family last weekend, I think when Hillary and I tried to help clearing up the sausages that had fallen on the floor by secretly putting them in Ricks pockets, that we got the evil eye from Ricks dad ;0) Fnah, Fnah!!!!

I want to send lots of love to a friend and colleague who has this week undergone a double mastectomy after 6 rounds of chemo. Thinking of you Sam and wishing you a speedy recovery xxx

This week the weather has shown us how lovely spring can be and how that lifts your spirits. There are signs of spring everywhere.

We have cut the grass twice and the weeds are trying to take over the back garden! I am hoping the good weather continues and we can make a start on clearing it all!

I am still planning our holiday for later on in the year, I am driving myself mad looking at all the possible hotels in all the various areas. I feel punch drunk with all the choice! I am sure things were easier without the Internet, now if you book a hotel you can compare prices over a huge number of sites, then when you have narrowed that choice down you have to look at all the reviews, you can spend a lifetime looking and comparing and contrasting all the reviews that are out there. You get to the point of making a decision and then something makes you think again. So far I have gone from five star hotels right down to hostels and back again!! All I have managed to do is book the first three nights and all the flights!!! I must try harder!! I feel that I am an expert in Hong Kong accommodation!

I am enjoying using the lighter evenings to do some of my craft stuff, my next project is a new sewing box, I am at the planning stage and have fallen foul of the black hole and time muncher - Pinterest! How the time flies when you start searching things on there. Before you know it you have lost three hours and you have done nothing!!! The perils of the Internet.

I am looking forward to another trip to Poland, I am going to Krakow for a few nights we are going to visit Auschwitz and the Salt mines. Poland is turning into my new favourite!!

Looking forward to the weekend, feet up and breathe....
Have fun xx

Monday, April 06, 2015

Happy Easter one and all!!

Well we are suffering from Airport overload, returning from our own trip away was the start of it swiftly followed by airport runs for Carl and Beth!! More about that later.

Back to our Warsaw trip. On the second day we headed out of the hotel, confused by what the weather had in store for us. It started off chilly but clear so we wore our coats and made our way to the tallest building in town. The palace of Culture and Science. The 1950's ugly building was 'gifted' to the city by Russia Stalin, everyone we spoke to said it was an unwelcome gift but how could they refuse?? Now its used as a cinema, theatre sort of venue. We some apartments and a few offices. The biggest pull is the lift ride to the 30th floor viewing platform. So we headed up there to take a look. 

The view from the 30th floor was good, particularly as the wind had dropped and it suddenly became warm, very warm if you were wearing  heavy coats, like we were!!

There was a nice little cafe up there so we sat and had a cup of tea, I took my coat off and it wasn't until we got back to the hotel much later in the day that I realised I had some how caught the sun and had a very attractive V patch of sunburn on my chest!!

The building definitely dominated the town and actually looked a bit like the Empire state building all lit up at night!

On the last day of our trip we took a guided tour of the City which took in the old town and the Royal palace and gardens.

I found out a few things that I didn't already know, such as Chopin came from Warsaw and this statue of him sitting under a weeping willow is in the Royal Park.

I also found out that Marie Curie also came from Warsaw, which has since come in useful in a quiz as I was asked that exact question!!

Back to the airports, Friday Carl and Grace headed off to Australia. We made an afternoon of it, along with Mad and John (John drove) we went for a trip!! We went to terminal 4 and they queued up to check in. It took an age Carl then text me to say there was a problem with his visa which meant that they had to make a call to the Australian Embassy and held everything up. It was all sorted with that phone call so they sat with us to have a cuppa before the big off. 
When it was time for them to go through security we said good bye and I tried to sneak a photo of them, they decided to stop and take photos of us taking photos of them!!

They got off on time and 26 hours later arrived in Melbourne!! They seem to be having fun!

So that was Good Friday taken care of, we next had to head for Stansted on Easter Sunday with Beth and Hazza, who were off to Spain for a few days.

Here they are scuttling off to check in. They were a lot luckier that we had been the week before, they cleared security in less than half an hour! They seem to be having fun, they have a bit of sun and have been to the beach and the shops. They have also checked out the local Burger King!!

So we now have two return airport trips to fit in over the next couple of weeks. 

I can't believe how fast the holidays have gone, I have been able to get my sewing machine out and I have made myself  a travel wallet to keep my passport and boarding cards in, seeing how I seem to be a bit of a globe trotter at the moment!!

This was my prototype, but I wasn't really happy with the way the bias binding looked on the outside edging, so I decided to make another one and that was more successful. I also unpicked the one I wasn't happy with and rebound the edges so that is now usable !!

I am much happier with the binding on the second one! I also changed the layout so there are four pockets and two bigger pockets behind them. 

I also added a button and some elastic to secure it. All in all I have had a productive weekend!
Shame its work again tomorrow .
I have another really busy week, so will catch up with everyone soon