Wednesday 2 December 2015

European Road Trip - The last part!

Mike and I were on the last leg of our European Road trip, after leaving Tuscany we were both weary and dare I say it - hung-over!

First stop; a fleeting trip to Lake Como, we were only there for a few hours but it didn’t disappoint. Lake Como it’s 56 sq miles in size and the third largest lake in Italy. Even though where we stopped was busy, the lake somehow made us feel very serene. I can see why celebrities love the location for living and vacationing, there was an abundance of luxurious houses and expensive cars. I would love to go back and stay one day but we had somewhere else to be.

Lake Como

We were on our way to Chamonix, a town situated on the borders and mountains of Switzerland, France and Italy. This was my favourite drive of the whole trip; I made a comment that momentarily confused Mike – “Oh my God, mountains, my first mountains” he couldn’t believe I’d never seen a snow-capped mountains in person, my camera had an excellent work out, I was mesmerised.

We arrived at Hôtel du Bois, which is a wooden clad snow lodge and it boasted some incredible views of the mountains. Waking up with this view was exciting and a real highlight although slightly marred by the fact we forgot to put the “Do not disturb” sign on the door and a poor maid walked in on me completely in the buff – there was a shrill of “Oh PARDON” and I was left red faced!

The view from our room!

Once my cheeks had gone back to their normal colour we made our way back to Dijon since we’d slept through it the first time there! I, being a foodie, had to stock up on real Dijon mustard and Ginger cake. The centre of town was so charming and reminded me of a real life set of Beauty and the Beast movie. Sadly, like at Como we had very little time to appreciate Dijon as again we were on the road, this time to Versailles.

The Palace of Versailles was yet another item on my bucket list and we arrived at the Hôtel Le Versailles which was so close to the palace that we could see it from the balcony in our room!
We were looking forward to some delicious French cuisine but it seems that on Monday’s France seems to shut down at 6pm leaving us eating crisps and marshmallow bars for dinner! We got an early night ready for an epic day at the palace.

I got up very early as it was our last day in Europe; we had 67,000sq feet to cover before driving back to the Euro Tunnel.

Just like all the big tourist attractions the palace was great to me as a disabled visitor. We didn’t have to queue, so I didn’t get swallowed up by the humongous crowd already eager to get in by 9am, plus we had a dedicated lift at our disposal.

Inside the palace was astounding, so opulent and luxurious, full of history, secrets and so much furniture! I was most excited about the hall of mirrors, photos and videos do not do the hall justice it was beautiful with an exquisite ceiling (regular readers will know that I have a ceiling fetish!) and then something awful happened, my camera died, Mike and I had both thought each other had charged it and extra batteries – I think travel fatigue was setting in.

Hall of Mirrors

It was a glorious day and we walked through the palace grounds exploring the maze’, fountains and Grand Trianon, poor old Mike was exhausted he must have walked miles by the time we left 6 hours later. We went via the gift shop where Mike bought me an extensive book about the palace with lots of photos to make up for the lack of my own photos – what a love!

The grounds at Versailles 

And so it was time to leave... as we drove back to Calais, Mike and I were already reminiscing about our 3000 mile epic drive through the Italian countryside and the French cities, laughing over drunken wedding memories and salivating over all the scrumptious food and wine we’d indulged in.

From my personal perspective I think this road trip was great for Mike and I, we’d had a difficult few months before the holiday and I think we were both stressed and mentally worn out, but two weeks of time to chat, reconnect and laugh until we cried was amazing and I can’t wait to do it all again!

L xxx

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Tuscany for the #Nutbrook Wedding!

You'll have to forgive such a huge time lapse between blog posts. I'm in the grips of a very bad relapse... possibly the worst I've had in 10 years. I’m using the walking frame that has been in the loft for ten years and getting that out again was a sad day. It sucks BUT it's not the first, it won't be the last and as ever, it could always be worse!


After the hustle, bustle and madness of Rome, we were in need of some R&R, so, after a breakfast in bed, we bid farewell to the Royal Court hotel and headed to Tuscany for the main reason we were driving around Europe - The #NutBrook wedding!

I met Kirsty at secondary school when we were 11, we remained polite "Hi and Bye" buddies until we left school and then became wonderful friends - despite our lives being completely different and cities apart. She and her fiancé Tom had been together for over 10 years and they couldn't be more suited to each other - a truly genuine and lovely couple, we adore.  

We arrived at Castello di Modanella (Castle and wedding venue) just south of Siena. The Castle and estate was incredible, most of the wedding guests were staying on site in converted farm buildings. Mike and I were staying in the former slaughter house, it sounds gross but it was huge, yet cosy and bigger than our own flat (not hard!).

View from our apartment

We found Kirsty after hearing laughing and cackling in the bar, we were greeted by lots of family and friends, introductions were made and wine was already flowing freely, a theme that would continue for the next three days!

After an afternoon of sunbathing we went to dinner with most of the guests in a little town 10 minutes from Castello di Modanella, feasting on gorgeous Italian fair, meeting new people and watching the Sun set over beautiful Tuscany – I was one happy bunny!

Tuscany Sunset
On Friday we made our way into town with a few of the other guests Graham, Zoe and Bruce, for some shopping, a cheeky glass of something, bought pool toys and a water gun, more on that later though....

The bulk of Friday was used for sun bathing and getting to know everyone, my nerves were getting the best of me so I had to make a real effort to chat to everyone – the wine glass always in my hand certainly helped!
Our pool

In the evening the Grooms family had provided a pre wedding BBQ by candle light – we were all stuffed, dancing and to put it mildly - merry! I didn’t help matters... I thought I’d bring a bit of Essex to the event and filled the water gun with Limoncello – which went down very well, especially with the bride and her Dad!

The evening ended at 4am with various fully clothed friends in the pool (looking at you Benny, Gemma, Sarah, Ross!) and a Grease Mega Mix dance off – Yup Essex had landed in Tuscany J

Saturday was the wedding day! We’d all waited 10 years for this day and the excitement was electric! In the morning we took to our “usual” positions by the pool, the heat was incredible so I wussed out taking cover with Sarah – a wonderfully hilarious Australian with a ginger kid curfew!

After brunch many of us attended a pre wedding wine tasting, sampling the estates wines and homemade breads – despite not liking most wines Mike came anyway, I and our table mates Rosie, Natalie and Seb shared his left overs – You cannot waste wine as good as this was!

By 4 it was time to get our glad rags on! I always find wedding outfits difficult to find as most formal summer dresses drag on my wheels but I was happy with an ASOS pink number that also was long enough that I wouldn’t be flashing my knickers at any one!

The castle chapel was stunning and authentically Italian, I found myself getting nervous on the couples behalf. When the time came, I shed a tear, Kirsty looked so beautiful, elegant and graceful as she made her way to Tom who was nervously grinning at the altar. 

The Blushing Bride

The ceremony went perfectly and we headed for the drinks reception where we were treated to wonderful food, drink and a four string quartet. I was chatting to the grooms’ cousins as one of them is an aspiring writer; she was so excited as a lot of the guests were writers (our Bride works for a UK Newspaper) - her enthusiasm was infectious.

When it was time for the wedding Breakfast, Mike and I sort out our table on the planner to find we were with 7 members of a family we had yet to meet! My nerves kicked in once more but I shouldn’t have worried our dinner guests were four of the Smithers brothers and three of their wives/girlfriends, they were so welcoming and chatty.... another side effect of my nerves is that I over time mode... thankfully no one seemed to bored of my waffling!

Our meal was scrumptious, the speeches were heart-warming and the newly Wed Mr and Mrs Brook looked blissful!

Sadly by the time the band started my body had given up and I was in too much pain to fling my upper half around like I normally do at parties! But guests came back and forth providing me with shots and company and a silver lining to the pain was that I got some epic photos of the night!

The Reception

The party finally ended at 4am, we were all drunk, and laughing, even when the music stopped Mike and Phil  - the best man started an hour long Acapella choir singing hits from Bon Jovi, Spice Girls, Will Smith and Celine Dion... of course they did!

Mike was tie-less, shirt untucked and wearing neon glasses when we got back to our apartment – what a day!
Mike and I
Sunday... we were all very delicate and sad that it was time to part ways; I think we’d made some genuine, lovely new friends, taken hundreds of photos and had tons of new memories! We bid farewell to the Brooks and headed on to the last leg of our European road trip!

Mr and Mrs Brook

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Brook! Xxx

L x

Friday 21 August 2015

Rome Part Two

If you missed any parts to this continuous blog please click the links just below.

The second day of our Rome visit, was the day I was most excited about (apart from the wedding!!). To come to Rome was a lifelong dream after being obsessed with the Roman Empire as a child, but visiting the ruins and the Colosseum was a real bucket list moment for me.

We arrived at the Colosseum for opening time and there was already about 150 tourists in front of us. Not wanting to just assume we'd be able to queue jump because of my wheelchair, we joined the line, only to be ushered to the front where the ticket office issued us with two free two day passes to the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine.

Walking through the corridors out into the main arena I had Goosebumps, I always knew the place was huge but until you're inside you cannot fully appreciate the magnitude of the building. Knowing its history and the "games" that commenced there, I can't begin to imagine the terror of the competitors made up of slaves and petty criminals.

Inside the Colosseum

Despite its bloody past, the Colosseum was beautiful in its crumbling state and I was overwhelmed by being there finally to witness this magnificent place for myself.

We decided to peruse the onsite museum, which held some beautiful art works from Rome and Pompeii (another bucket list designation for another time) and being a complete tourist I bought a beautiful book on Ancient Rome.

It's was a blistering hot day, well into the 30's and at almost 70% humidity, but Mike braved the heat and the Seven Roman hills to take me into the Palatine Hill ruins. After about 20 minutes, Mike was exhausted and apologising that we'd have to go, although I was sad to have to leave, it was not worth Mikes health, but at that moment, an electric golf buggy turned up beside us. Two of the onsite staff had spotted our struggle and offered us a ride to the top of the hill to see the Palatine to its fullest. I was so chuffed, Mike was grateful and relieved!

The Palatine was amazing, especially the stadium and gardens within, with arches, three story homes and business buildings, all built with such precision and skill,  I don't think we can truly appreciate the genius of the Romans, the same goes for the Forum; the man power needed to erect and stabilise such huge monuments and buildings is mind blowing!

The Stadium in the Palatine
The Forum

At about 3pm, as we were leaving the site, a thunderstorm started with a lightning bolt striking near the Colosseum, so we hot footed it back to our hotel and within seconds the heavens opened for a couple of hours - thankfully lifting some of the humidity.

For dinner we went to a place called La Matriciana which was established in 1870 and we had the most scrumptious meal of the whole trip; fresh baked breads, tasty cured meats cut at our tableside, the freshest Mozzerella, the best Ragu I've ever eaten and the most mouth watering desserts, all washed down with Martini cocktails and local beers - a delightful end to our time in Rome - next stop Tuscany!

L x

Sunday 9 August 2015

Rome Part 1

If you missed any parts to this continuous blog please click the links just below.

2015 European Road Trip Part 1
2015 European Road Trip Part 2


During our trip to Italy, we had noticed that the rumours were true, Italians are the worst drivers I've seen, and I thought the Yellow Taxi drivers in New York were crazy! It seems road rules, markings and safety measures are mere suggestions. To drive in Italy, you have to be quick thinking and sadly very rude, we were so polite, letting people out and keeping an eye on all around us, but by the end of the trip we were just and stubborn and brash.

From Pisa to Rome, we had planned on driving into the city to our hotel and spending three day's walking around, but as we got closer and closer, I thought Mike might have a heart attack, so we decided to book ourselves into an airport parking lot and get a taxi to our hotel.

Our taxi drivers car was scratched and dented, as were all other cars there, and that journey was one of the most hair raising of my life! Arriving at our hotel, the lovely Royal Court, in the centre of Rome, we had a ground floor room and although the front entrance had steps there was wheelchair access thought the hotels court yard. Our room was incredibly plush with gold wall paper, restored furniture and a balcony overlooking the well kept and charming court yard. The staff couldn't be more helpful either.

After a long day driving and walking around Pisa we were tired and ordered a take away pizza from a local pizzeria called Andrea's, which was delicious and fell asleep watching bad Italian music channels.

The next morning we were up by half past 6. With only 48 hours in town, we were going fit as much in as possible! We had decided that we were going to cover everything we possibly could that wasn't the Colosseum and the Forum! So we hoped on a Red Bus tour to see as much of the city from a higher point of view for photos. We saw; the ancient ruins, the Republica and Santa Maria monuments, the Circo Massimo - A famous chariot racing stadium and  Piazza Venezia  - one of the most prominent sights in Rome, as it's so high, huge and white you can see it from many places all over the city.

Pia Venzia

We got off the tour bus at Vatican City. Now, I mean no disrespect to any Catholics reading, but apart from seeing St. Peters Square and the city it's self, we weren't going to go inside, especially after seeing a 3 hour long queue surrounding the famous church. But then a kind stranger said that we didn't have to queue for the attraction because I was disabled, so we thought, why not?

St Peter's Basilica

Boy, am I glad we did. St Peter's Basilica was breath taking and rendered me speechless. The detail, opulence and sheer size of the place was astounding.  The sculptures, mosaics and artwork was some of the best I've ever seen, we of course took a million photos of it all, including some amazing artistic photos Mike took of the painted domes and ceilings (*side note - I seem to have a minor obsession for beautiful ceilings which began in the New York Library Rose Room, Continued in St Peters and thrilled later on in Versailles lol!).

Beautiful Ceilings

Despite my religious beliefs, I left those who were praying in peace and remained respectful of the religious collections but I was disgusted to see tourists climbing up statues and monuments for selfies and better photos! I wanted to personally shoo them out of the building or run them over with my wheelchair - infuriating!

Inside the Church

After the Vatican we visited the Trevi Fountain which was under restoration behind Perspex class and covered in scaffolding - gutted. We consoled ourselves with Gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino which our Lonley planet book cited as a possible contender for Romes best ice cream - we can voucher that it probably is!

Next we went to The Spanish Steps which were a lovely spot for a little sit (for those other than myself!) surrounded by lovely shops and cafes. We made our way up behind the steps and over to Piazza del Popolo for some superb views of the steps and we were high enough to see Rome's rustic skyline.

Rome Skyline

Here we encountered some flower sellers who were persistent despite us saying No over and over again. They kept giving me flowers for "free" which I put down to leave behind and they still tried to get cash out of Mike and he wasn't shy about telling them to bugger off, so my advice to be firm, look away and despite being British - be blatantly rude to them. 

After walking all day in the 32 degree heat, 60% humidity and the cities never ending hills and cobbled streets we decided to head back to our hotel to chill out before dinner.

After a rest for Mikes aching body and an extensive Trip advisor search, we decided on a restaurant called La Carbonara a 109 year old eatery famous for its name sake dish. A tip with any restaurant in Rome; pre book at least 24 hours before or arrive at 7pm for a table, we did the latter and it was already packed but they gave us a table.

We had both been obnoxiously lazy in learning more than basic Italian and it came to bite us on the arse in La Carbonara. The menu wasn't translated and neither of us had any signal on our phones. So we played a game of eeni meeni miini moh which since neither of us is a fussy eater, worked quite well - I had a raw mushroom salad and the best Carbonara in the world, Mike had a mozzarella salad and a spicy tomato and garlic spaghetti main and by the way when ordering a glass of Coke call it Coca-Cola as Coke is mistaken for a much ruder word - much to my blushes.  

Since the night was young, we decided to go to lovely cocktail bar for a few drinks in the cool city breeze, we eventually got back to the hotel very full, relaxed and very ready for bed.

L x

Wednesday 29 July 2015

European Road Trip Part 2

European Road Trip 2015

Missed one?.

After sleeping for an epic 12 hours, Mike and I set of early at we had to arrive in Genoa, Italy, where our next hotel was booked but we had decided we would go to Nice and Monaco along the way.

Dijon to Nice was almost 6 hours long. We made our way through a lot of new CDs; Bruno Mars, Walk the Moon, Nina Nesbitt, Jason Derulo and my infamous "mix tape" CDs featured heavily. 

Some of my favourite moments of the trip were when Mike and I were singing our hearts out and dancing in traffic queues - Lord knows what others thought of our jigging car and frequent air grabbing.

We arrived on the Nice coast in a 32 degree heat, it was gorgeous! We had a stroll along the sea front, taking obligatory selfies and sipping on ice cold colas. We had a wander through a market in the centre of town and saw a lovely paddling pool for local kids, many fountains and sculptures. I was feeling very continental.

Nice, France

In Europe, dinner time is 7-9pm, so we decided to head to Monaco for dinner. We were feeling very excited of the thought of dining in such a prolific city; home of the Monaco Grand Prix and play ground of the rich and famous... except we didn't get out of the car! Monaco is a winding maze of thin roads and expensive cars, after more than half an hour trying to find a parking spot we decided to leave the beautiful and albeit confusing city for the 2 1/2hour drive to Genoa.

We hit traffic jams, a lot of traffic jams! The drive took closer to four hours and we'd consumed a diet of cereal bars and French fries crisps, so as we approached Genoa we planned on room service in bed - oh so very indulgent!

10 Minutes away from our hotel, loyally following our Sat Nav Sabrina, we somehow ended up in the industrial port, meeting security guards who couldn't speak English. We  finally made it our hotel but Genoa wasn't lending itself to us. The town was a dirty, run down town and to be honest I didn't feel very safe. Luckily Mike is 6ft and big built, which puts any dodgy people off approaching us.

We got to our hotel and it looked like a lovely place, clean and modern, but our room was run down and had evidently flooded from the bathroom to the communal hall way via the disabled shower. We were so tired we ordered pizzas with room service (the food was nice but the staff were stroppy and rude) and went to bed.

My morning shower of course flooded our room, they'd not leveled the disabled wash room towards the plug and when we told reception, they simply shrugged and said that's what happened in disabled bathrooms. Funny how the other 6 hotels we stayed in didn't flood!

I wouldn't recommend Genoa at all, we'd booked it on a whim and our guide to Italy said of the town; "When you get tired of the dirt and rats in Genoa move on" - my advice, avoid it entirely!

Happily leaving Genoa, I was especially excited as we were heading to Pisa, home of the leaning tower. 

Travelling tip; if you're driving into Pisa, be very careful! There is a restricted driving area which includes where the Tower is situated. Make sure you check this restriction as you'll be sent a fine for excess of €100. We parked 5 mins from town and if you are disabled, make sure you show parking attendants you UK Blue Parking badge you'll get a reduced parking fee.

Doing a European road trip in the first instance was a tick off my bucket list, seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa was another. When you first see the monument you cannot believe firstly how tall and wide it is, and secondly how it can lean to such a degree without toppling.

Mike and I in Pisa

Amongst a sea of tourist, doing exactly the same, Mike and I posed as though we were holding up the tower. Although you know what everyone else is doing it, it still looks incredibly odd and ridiculous but very funny.

If you are disabled in Italy, you do not pay or queue to get into their major tourist attractions. Mike and I joked that because Italy is such an old country and has many cobble streets, free entry to attractions is the Italian apology to us and those pushing our wheelchairs.

Obviously I couldn't manage walking into and up the Leaning Tower, despite desperately wanting to. I told Mike to leave me at the bottom, and climb the tower, for the sake of our photo collection but he was too much of a Gentleman. 

However the Pisa Cathedral was beautiful inside, constructed in 1064 it was a breath taking mixture of old and new, the staff almost didn't let me in as my shoulders were uncovered - so beware, take a cardigan or wear something long sleeved!

Outside Pisa Cathedral
Inside Pisa Catherdral

The Pisa Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) includes the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, Baptistery and the Piazza dei Miracoli but the area is world renowned for its medieval art and architecture - it is truly a lovely place and apart from the Tower the attractions are made wheelchair accessible with ramped entrances and levels within the buildings.

We spent the rest of the day wandering through Piazzi Cairoli where there are lots of bars and most importantly; gelateries! We stopped for a mezze platter lunch of cheeses, salad and fresh meats then a humongous cone of Gelato - our first of many! Before we headed to the madness of Rome!

L x 

Monday 20 July 2015

European Road Trip - Tributes

When Mike and I were invited to Tuscany, Italy, to attend my good friends Kirsty and Toms wedding, we were incredibly excited! A lifelong dream of mine was to go to Rome. Since the historical city was a mere 3 hours away from the wedding venue, we booked up three days in Rome with plans to hire a car to get to Tuscany. Only after we'd booked flights and hotels did we find out that because Mike hadn't been driving a year yet, no one would hire a car to us - doh!

I made a joke about driving the whole way, which seemed completely ridiculous but then we thought, why the hell not!? It would be a nice holiday, time spent alone with each other after a very difficult and testing year and I could tick a few items of my bucket list*!

(*Note: I'm not dying, a few worried people asked if I was ill, after I posted photos called Bucket List. I'm just very aware that my body is deteriorating a lot quicker than others my age, I'm on the top dose of my current pain killers and the next step up is depending on morphine, so I'm getting the bucket list done now!)

After packing my entire summer wardrobe, European car kits, enough sun cream to sink a ship, our trusty sat nav Sabrina (yes, we name inanimate objects) and a cooler box of water, we set off in Optimus Primera (our 16 year old Nissan Primera car).

We headed to Folkstone to catch the Euro Tunnel to Calais. By the way, if you're disabled, you must let the Euro Tunnel staff know as your car has to be put on first for fire safety reasons, but this also means you beat the long queues - bonus!

After chanting the following to himself "Drive on the right, drive to the right on the side of the road on the wrong side of the car!!" Mike took to the road in Calais, staying to the correct side of the road and even when faced with Italian drivers later on, he did a brilliant job, getting us to every destination without a hitch!

As I've mentioned in my blogs before Mike and I are Geneology geeks. We took the road trip as a chance to pay respects to fallen relatives, who had died in the First World War. We went to Wancourt, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France to visit the British Cemetery, there we visited my Great Uncle Stanley Starling Hudson, who was my Great Grandmothers older brother. Stanley had died aged 21 in 1917. I picked and left poppies on his grave and signed the guestbook.

Stanley Starling Hudson
(My Great Uncle)

Then we headed to the Thiepval Memorial of the Missing, an iconic monument to Historians, Geneologists and families all over the world. It was a stunning location, peaceful and calm and weirdly, no birds were heard at any of the sites we visited.

Lastly we headed to Dernancourt Communal Cemetery in the Region of Picardy.  We visited Mike's first cousin three times removed, Charles Garrick, who also died in 1917 aged a heartbreaking 19 years old. Mike laid his poppies and we headed to Dijon.

Charles Garrick
(Mikes cousin, 3x removed)

Now, I must mention that Mike had been in California for several weeks, up until two days before our trip. We got to our lovely hotel the Kyriad Prestige, in Dijon only for us *both to pretty much pass out at 7pm, forgoing dinner and we didn't wake until 7am on Sunday! (*I was not jet lagged but I can sleep anywhere, any time - I had Narcolepsy for years so I've had extensive sleep training!) I had a feeling that there would be a lot of early nights and very early mornings - sleep would become a luxury!
L x

Thursday 7 May 2015

We are still Great, Britain!

Well, today is Election day in the UK, it will be the closed poll results since World War 2. I personally have had a real struggle choosing who to vote for, I happen to agree with policies from most of the parties, but on the same hand disagree with them all too. 

I think we'll have another coalition government, but I've sent in my postal vote regardless and hope that whatever happens, it will be positive for our little island.

There has been so much press coverage surrounding the election, much of it had been negative and at points, hopeless. So I wanted to inject some positivity into the day and list a few great things about the UK - what we've achieved and offer to the rest of the world.

Our Queens rock!
In September of 2015 our Queen Elizabeth II will be Englands longest reigning monarch, serving 63 years and counting - Go Ma'am! Elizabeth's Great Great Grandmother Queen Victoria will take second place.

QueenElizabeth I will also made the 9th longest reigning Queen after 44 years on the throne between the three they have conquering the world, creating Empires, forging trading relationships with the rest of the world and all with decorum and dignity - girl power!

Kick ass Queens

We've changed the world with our inventions and theories!
Scotsman John Logie Baird invented the Television. In 2014 it was discovered that 96% of the UK and 96.7% of the American populations have TV sets  - you are welcome America!

Lincolnshire born Sir Isaac Newton developed the three laws of motion which form the basic principles of modern physics and of course famously developed theories on Gravity with the help of a good old English Garden apple, falling from a tree. 

Without Tim Berners-Lee, you wouldn't even be reading this, the London born Computer Scientist invented the World Wide Web and over 3 billion of us are connected online - you are very welcome World!

Our arts and acts have coloured the world!
Who could imagine a world without Harry Potter, Jane Austen and Mr Darcy, MontyPython, the Beatles, Cary Grant, The Redgrave family, John Constable and TheSpice Girls? When you think that our tiny Kingdom is the 2x smaller than the State of Texas and yet we have bought the world a lot of great talent, literature, art and music. 

Cary Grant

We can only apologise for Ali G, the movie Honest and the Cheeky girls - we're not perfect!

We love our grub
Did you know champagne was invented in England, not France? We invented the Sandwich, named after the Earl of Sandwich.... you are welcome Subway! The world's first chocolate bar was made by Londoner Joseph Fry in the 1720's - thank God for Mr Fry! Colchester oysters were one of the main reasons for the Romans invading Britain in 43AD - greedy buggers and yes of course we love our tea - 163 million cups are enjoyed here every single day!

But strangely despite us loving and being famed for our fish & chips, Pork Pies, Stilton Cheese, Haggis, Irish Stews and Welsh Cakes our national food is Chicken Tikka Massala! To be fair though, I'd eat all of the above with national pride!

Chicken Tikka Masala

As my countrymen and woman vote in their millions today, many others will not, stating "What's the point?" Well, my point is, despite our difficulties, our downfalls and mistakes of those running the United Kingdom we have a lot to be proud of. The news is full of bad reports, depressing statistics and sad states of affair but everyone getting involved and trying to mend our broken society can only lead to good things. If none of us voted we'd be in an even worse place than we are now.

So next time you read a paper or settle down for the 6 o'clock news, remind yourself of the great things Great Britain has and will continue to produce and go vote!

L xxx

Thursday 16 April 2015

World Book Night Competition 2015

Once again, I’m lucky enough to be a World Book Night giver, it’s my 5th year and I’m just as excited as I have been for the previous events!

My love of books started when I was 7. I’d had a real mental block when it came to reading... basically I couldn’t read at all until then, but one day it just clicked and I’ve had  nose in a book ever since.

I love getting lost in a fictional world, being nosy reading biographies and learning about the history of our world in factual texts.

I’ve recently had to give in and buy a tablet with the Amazon kindle app on it. We live in a one bedroom 525 sq ft flat but I have 9 shelves of books and 4 huge boxes of book in storage – we simply run out of space – sob! There is nothing like the smell of an actual book, I love the fresh smell of a brand new novel - woody and clean, and the second hand ones have a scent of must and history, I also love cracking the spines – so satisfying.!

So every year, when World Book Night comes around, I’m given 18 copies of a chosen book to give out to whom or how I wish. A lot go to friends, but I take a few out to surprise strangers and every year I give away one on my blog!

This year I’ve been given Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – I’ve not read it myself so I’m doubly excited this year!

The Prize!

Synopsis borrowed from the World Book Night website:

“When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits. The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, makes one-night stands in town after endless town.

Jacob, a veterinary student who almost earned his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.”

If you’d like a chance to win limited edition of the book, plus two bags of Sainsburys Eric the Elephant sweets (see what I did there!?!) use my Rafflecopter app below or go to my Facebook page!

Sweet treats!

Good Luck!

Saturday 11 April 2015

Insomnia - I can't get no sleep!

To state the obvious, pain is bad, very bad! I’m in a lot of bad pain but more than the pain it’s the lack of sleep that blights my being!

Insomnia – “I can’t get no sleep!”

At its worse I’m surviving on 90mins of kip a night. I take sleeping pills, but the pain in my legs wakes me up, so I spend most nights in a pattern of dropping off, spasming, drifting off, spasming again followed by several hours of nerve pain. So, I’ve given up on the sleeping pills, if I’m going to be up for 20hrs a day, I might as well make myself useful rather than sulking and sobbing into my pillow!

I don’t have a secret to cure insomnia, although I’m considering having a D.I.Y above knee amputation... but here is my little guide to surviving the long nights.

Don’t fight it!

I see no point in lying in bed, clock watching and cursing the sunrise. If you make it to 4am with no success - get up, not necessarily out of bed, but do something! Mike’s been away 6 week and where he would normally lay is my night time survival kit....

My survival kit


As you can see, I keep myself busy.... I’m a prolific reader, so there are always magazines and books dotted around the flat. I’m currently reading Nothing Changes Until You Do: A Guide to Self-Compassion and Getting Out of Your Own Way by Robbins, Mike (2014) Paperback (yes it’s a self help book, yes I need all the help I can get!). I'm also reading You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher too. I will say that you might be better off sticking to magazines for short articles and features as the trouble with a good fictional read is that you’re forever telling yourself “Just one more chapter....”


3am is a dull time of day, unless you’re out at all night party, so it's a perfect time to do those dull beauty tasks! I use my time taming my mono brow, nails and taking a cheese grater to my foot. Monotonous tasks make for a monotonous brain... i.e. hopefully boring you to sleep!

I also keep creams, lotions, lip balms and overnight hair conditioners close by, I might as well pamper myself in my hour(s) of need and face wipes are must pain = hot, sticky clammy face and arms which drive me nuts!


Thank god for Netflix, BuzzFeed, Youtube and Huffingtonpost! On my tablet and mobile I have all four. We don’t have a TV in our bedroom but I’m more likely to fall asleep with my tablet balanced on the pillow next to me as I’m comfier on my side. I know “experts” will say to avoid all technology in bed, but those experts haven’t been distracted by puppy videos or cried them selves to sleep (hey sleep is sleep) watching The Notebook and Fault in the Stars!

Clear out your brain

I’m a writer so there’s always a note pad close by, all my idea’s, thoughts, and ramblings are better on paper than clogging up my drug filled insomniac brain. If nothing else, due to the severe lack of sleep I write to do, to take, to text, to remind, to watch and to buy lists and I even have to do lists informing me of to do lists I need to check – it’s a skill!

Medication my case, and not in many others, I need medication, a lot it too. I always keep them nearby and lots of water!

Monotony can be key

As I mentioned before, boredom can cause sleep. One of my good friends suffers with neuralgia and plays mind sweep whilst waiting for her pain medication to kick in. I’m personally currently addicted to Theme Hospital,  for young people it’s a very old cheesy game set, funny enough, in a hospital. You’d think I’d be sick of hospitals after my years of treatment but maybe that’s why I like it.

Indulge in guilty pleasures

I have many guilty pleasures, except I never feel very guilty about them. At 4am, I don’t have the brain power to follow an episode of Game of Thrones, instead I indulge in 16 and Pregnant. Teens not using protection, angry parents, girls believe the guys will change/grow up/man up (they never do!) girl loves baby, but always says in the end that they wished they’d waited and hadn’t realised it would be so hard! 5 seasons later you’d think they’d learn but it’s very addictive viewing!

On bad nights I’ll also indulge in copious warm milk, Oreo cookies and lately, strawberries, being up alone all night is not fun – food makes me happy!


The beauty of the internet is A. There will be other Insomniacs sat considering introducing their heads to a brick wall and B. The world has many time zones, even if your country is asleep many others will be awake, so make some international friends and you’ll never be lonely.... or in my case get engaged to a Geologist who spends half of his year in America!

So this is how I survive the long nights. No one can underestimate the effects of never getting a decent night’s sleep, my work, social life; concentration and sanity are regularly in jeopardy due to insomnia but I do what I have to do to keep myself going how about you?


I bought a Spoonie Survival Kit from a little store on Etsy. It won’t cure any pain or insomnia but it’s adorable. It includes:

  • Pink fluffy socks
  • A tea bag
  • Marbles for when I’ve lost mine
  • Lip balm and nail varnish for pampering
  • String to “Hold it together”
  • A silver spoon (to read about the Spoonie movement click here!)
  • A pen to write down my feelings 
  • a dice for luck.

A sweet gift if you know someone who’s suffering or in need of a little boost. You can buy them here!

Sleep tight
L xxx