Bournemouth Mini Break

Last weekend Rob, Dylan and I went on our first mini break together as a threesome.

We stayed in a questionable hotel (more on that soon) for one night in Bournemouth, Dorset. It was my treat to Rob as a joint B.day and fathers day present, and my last big spending blow out before my maternity pay ends soon (whaaa!)*

I last visited the Bournemouth as a kid with my family around 25-30 years ago, and all I can remember about the town was that it had lots of trees and it was sunny!

To be fair, I do like trees. And lots of trees are more than enough reason for me to visit somewhere again!

We lucked out with the weather as it was just at the begining of this heatwave with pleasant, managable sunshine right before things became unbearable like they have done in the last few days with the melting tarmac and stupid 30+ temperatures. We enjoyed walking around the gardens and beachfront, dodging the drunk students (there were lots, Bournemouth is a bit of a party town) and sniggering at them constantly taking selfies,** beers on the pier, browsing round the shops, a Nandos meal (my first in over a year!), our first ever Five Guys (what can I say, I am a sucker for a hyped up chain resturant!) and we took Dylan for his first ever swim in the hotel pool.

A post shared by @helshelshels on

Dylan rubber necking in Nandos!

Ah yes, the hotel. Shall we talk about the hotel now?

Rob is not letting me live it down, but I managed to book us into one of the grottiest hotels in England!

I am kind of notorious for not doing my research properly and once again I came up trumps!*** I blame booking.com. Its a kind of twisted, evil Ebay type of site with too many hotels, and they keep telling you that so many people have booked rooms in the last 10 minutes, that there is only one room left and the prices keep going up and down etc. So you end up making a snap decicion based on price rather than the star rating of the hotel and its reviews! Or at least I do anyway.

I booked us a twin room in the cheapest hotel that I could find online. It had dated, broken 80’s furniture, a tatty grey bathroom suite with broken, cracked floor tiles, windows with broken handles, watermarks on the ceiling and bit of a funny smell. But the worst thing was that the wardrobe was really wonky. It was propped up by a piece of wood, it wobbled when you walked past and it looked like it was going to topple over at any given moment! In all seriousness though, I really don’t know how they can get away with furniture like that in this day and age with all the health and safety rules and the tragic lawsuits in America against Ikea.

At first we were being terribly British, unsure whether to complain and not wanting to make a fuss etc. But we had D to think about and even if the wardrobe was fine while we stayed there, what if something happened to the guests after us and we ignored it and said nothing?

So we reported it and got upgraded to a much larger family room (with three large beds! One each!) This room was slightly less grotty and had more sturdy furniture thank goodness! In the end the hotel redeemed itself to us, as all the staff were so friendly and helpful and we had fun using the pool (and there were only a few dead flies floating in it! Win!)

It could have been worse – I could have booked us into this hotel that I spotted and posted on Instagram!

Where shall we go for our next holiday then? Maybe one of these hotels??!! As I said, I am never going to live this down!

*Even though they do want me back again where I worked last year, I want to stay at home with Dylan for the time being. We will tighten our belts and manage just fine. Maybe I will return to work in 2018? But for now I will be a SAHM.

**I am showing my age here, but as someone who hates having their photo taken and who got their first camera phone in their late twenties (when my partying days were long over) it never fails to suprise and amuse me how often some peeps take selfies!

***It feels so wrong to use that expression now thanks to a certain person in America! I cant think of another, sorry!

 

Devon 2015

Towards the end of August Rob and I enjoyed our annual family holiday. We stayed in a lovely house in Croyde Bay, Devon with my parents, my sister, her husband and the three nephews. Then afterwards, Rob and I travelled on to Cornwall to visit our friends who moved down there a couple of years ago, and camped in the van for two nights on their farmland.

It was a wonderful nine days away and a lovely end to what has been a really good summer. I have been really lucky this year – I went away in March to the New Forest and have also managed to squeeze in lots of camping trips this summer. And that’s despite of Robs shoulder injury and me working weekends!

Sadly, this was probably my last camping trip of the season, as its starting to get colder and more damp now. And lets not talk about how I now have no annual holiday leave left from work until the next holiday year starts in 2016 (sob)!!

Our time in Devon involved lots of bike rides, lots of body boarding, amazing sunsets, hikes in stunning scenery and the usual over consumption of cream teas, fudge, ice cream, chips and alcohol.

It was our first time in the county and we fell in love with the area. We will definitely be going back again as north Devon ticks all the boxes for us – plenty of activities to do, stunning countryside and spectacular beaches!

Here are some of my favourite photos from our week. Some are taken by Rob with his DSLR, some are from our Instagram feeds and some are from our phones. Im sure you will be able to tell which are which!

croyde

Croyde bay beach and sand dunes.

baggy point

Baggy Point which is National Trust land.

sunset beach

Sunset on the beach.

sunset

Rob had a play with his filters here, but it was pretty stunning IRL!

A little photography experiment with a filter and the two of us.

A little photography experiment with a filter and the two of us.

baggy point again

The walk along Baggy Point and views towards Woolacombe Bay.

Rob decided he wanted the white contempary house in this snap. Anyone got a spare million or two?

Rob decided that he wanted the white contempary house in this snap. Anyone got a spare million or two?

Croyde beach is officially my favourite sure destination now.

Croyde beach is officially my favourite surf destination now.

My tip for the day - don't allow yourself to be photographed in a wetsuit. Especially standing next to skinny nephews! But I don't care that I am not a size 6 supermodel. Im not going to let it stop me from having fun! (And sharing a photo of my huge arse on the inter webs!)

My advice for the day – don’t allow yourself to be photographed in a wetsuit. Especially standing next to a skinny nephew! But I don’t care that I am not a size 6 supermodel or thin and pretty enough to be in Taylor Swifts girl gang of BFF’s, Im not going to let it stop me from having fun! I managed to squeeze myself into my trusty old wetsuit to catch some waves!

Me bodyboarding!

Me bodyboarding!

We went to Ilfracombe. Its quite a pretty little town. We went to the Weatherspoons as you do.

We went to Ilfracombe. Its quite a pretty little town.

blooming lovely

We went all the way to Ilfracombe and then had lunch in the Weatherspoons, as you do.

We went all the way to Ilfracombe and then had lunch in the Weatherspoons, as you do.

We also went to the famous beach tunnels which were really, really hard to photograph. (This is a snap from my phone). They were not as good as I hoped they would be (we got round them in 5 minutes!) - I preferred the tunnels on the Tarka trail bike route!. Much longer and more fun!

We also went to the famous beach tunnels which were really, really hard to photograph. (This is a snap from my phone). They were not as good as I hoped they would be and we got round them in 5 minutes as we are uncultured townies who don’t read much of the historic stuff! – I preferred the tunnels on the Tarka trail bike route! Much longer and much more fun!

I am getting braver posting more photos of myself on here, ha ha! Its me on the tunnels beach, in my waterproofs. Not a trendy Seasalt mac, but a workmans jacket from my Dads former place of work!

I am getting braver posting more photos of myself on here, ha ha! Its me on the tunnels beach, in my waterproofs. Not a trendy Seasalt mac, but a workmans jacket from my Dads former place of work with a stain on the sleeve! Glamour is my middle name!

Me and the oldest nephew riding through a tunnel on the Tarka trail. He rode 23 miles, not bad for an 8 year old, eh!

Me and the oldest nephew riding through a tunnel on the Tarka trail. He rode 23 miles, not bad for an 8 year old, eh!

IG tunnel 2

After seven lovely days, the family all drove back home to Kent, and Rob and I headed in the opposite direction towards Cornish land to visit our friends for their annual bank holiday BBQ fundraiser weekend in aid of the local school. The event involved lots of drinking, talking, a chilli eating challenge (more on those chilli’s on here soon!), pulled pork and pulled beef eating and then some more drinking. We didn’t take many pictures as I was too busy drinking and Rob was too busy scoffing the pulled meat*, but here are some from our phones.

The obligatory picture of our van, the awning and the Kelly kettle.

The obligatory picture of our van, the awning and the Kelly kettle.

Rob got to drive a tractor. This made him very happy.

Rob got to drive a tractor. This made him very happy.

Another great sunset....

Another great sunset….

...made much better with a vintage VW in the shot and an Instagram filter!

…made even better with a vintage VW in the shot and an Instagram filter!

*Snigger!

A Quick Camp Out At Lydd

Rob and I are both off work this week. I hope its an opportunity to catch up on my blogging, but its Thursday already (whaaaat!), and is a really busy week for both of us as we are frantically decorating before we get the new flooring fitted next week, and generally trying (and failing) to keep the dust under control and our house looking semi-respectable!

Amidst all the chaos indoors we managed to go camping locally for one night at Lydd, near Dungeness Kent. This was our first camp out of the season due to time constraints and Robs shoulder injury.

It was a last minute decision to go away. I basically dragged Rob away from his desk (his work has been really stressful of late) and all the decorating, to make him get some well deserved R+R!

I booked the campsite online the day before, and on the morning we set out, we packed our bags and food and then bought any extras that we needed in the supermarket on route. I thought to myself – “we are getting really efficient at this camping lark, look how easy the planning and packing was”….

….That was until we got there and I realised that we had forgot to pack our towels!!!

Ah well, there is always something that you forget to pack, eh! At least we remembered the important stuff like beer and a bottle opener.

Neither of us took our cameras as it was only a one nighter. We went on a nice bike ride into Rye, to a lovely pub, riding all the way on a dedicated cycle path which is part of the National cycling network. (Which you can find out more about here and sign a petition for more funding and investment here – Thanks Secondhand Susie for that link!)

Here are my two obligatory grainy Instagram snaps! And if you are interested, after wondering if we would be able to buy a couple of cheap beach towels at the nearby Camber Sands resort, we decided instead to just drip dry and improvise with a clean tea towel for me and a pair of boxer shorts for Rob!camping at lyddfire pit

New Forest 2015

Rob and I have just got back from a short mid week break to the New Forest!

We had been itching to get away somewhere on holiday ever since the new year, and discussed many options of were and when to go. We did consider a city break in Europe, and we got very close to booking a short break to Copenhagen (I wanted to see the SAS hotel and other Arne Jacobsen landmarks, the Finn Juhl house and go to the design museum etc), but in the end I chickened out because I did not want to fly! Another factor that contributed to our decision was the cost. We are very lucky to own a camper van, and so we want to enjoy it as much as possible. We much prefer to have lots of budget mini getaways rather than one big indulgent holiday!

Saying that though, last week we stayed in a caravan at Sandyballs holiday park. Its far too cold for me to camp! I am a bit of a diva when it comes to what time of the year to camp. For me, a large part of the camping experience is sitting around outside your van/tent in the evenings eating, drinking and talking rubbish. In early March the evenings are chilly, the nights still draw in quite early and the mornings are damp and dewy. We do know people on the VW scene who camp all year round, but I am not that hardcore. Instead I enjoyed the gas fire and central heating in the caravan!

The aim of this holiday was to get away from home and work, and to relax and enjoy some hiking, biking, swimming, eating and drinking. We certainly did all of that!

We had a lovely time, it was out of season so the park was nice and quiet, we lucked out with the weather (for once it didn’t rain!), we got out on our bikes every day, saw lots of ponies (including two who were very interested in our picnic lunch!) and just enjoyed our van – even though we didn’t camp in it, its still nice to explore the beautiful surroundings in it.

Here are some pictures, all taken by Rob, from our break. Warning – I hope you like lots of pictures of ponies!woodsstreampath

there was no way I was going to pedal up that hill!

There was no way I was going to pedal up that hill!

It might have been best to go through the gate. Hindsight, eh!

It might have been easier to go through the gate. Hindsight, eh!

birdydeerserniemossgull

Lymington harbour

Lymington harbour

tired ponyred ponywhite ponyvan and ponypony pony

Camping At Kingsdown, Nr Deal

At long last I had a weekend off, so Rob and I managed a quickie.

Thats a quick local camping trip for one night only. In case you were wondering!

We headed down to a cute looking campsite with sea views in Kingsdown near Deal in Kent. What can I say really, it was lovely and we had a wonderful time. The site was great, the village and its three pubs were great, the beach was a five minute walk away, the food was great, the Kelly Kettle was great. So yeah, it was all great!

Did you hear me mention Kelly Kettle, you say?

Yup thats right, Rob twisted my arm and persuaded me to part with my hard earned cash and buy him one as an early Xmas present (and his only Xmas present). It was a success! We both love it and drank far too many mugs of de-caff coffee (as we forgot to pack any teabags!) Its such a simple thing, but foraging for dry grass and twigs to light a fire is pure fun, and taps into our inner girl guide/scout/caveman/cavewoman instincts. It just added another element to our camping experience and if you are into the great outdoors, I recommend that you treat yourself to one.

As well as hot drink making, we also walked the 3 odd miles along the coastal path by the shingle seafront to Deal (stopping at a pub, of course) and back. We ate lovely meal in a local pub and then sat around a campfire, supping hot cups of coffee by our van for the evening.

Fingers crossed that we might be able to manage one or two more quickie camping trips before winter is upon us!van spotkelly kettleIMG_7459IMG_7460cliffbeachpretty housesboat

Isle of Wight 2014

This time last week I was on holiday on the Isle of Wight.

Le sigh, it all seems so long ago.

As ever the island was green, lush, quaint, old fashioned and cute. The weather not so. It pretty much rained everyday. Still, we did not let the weather stop us from having fun. Some of the highlights were – bike riding, coastal path walking, beach going, swimming with the nephews, eating lots of chips and donkey seeing.

Sorry, I do not have many photos to share on here, as very single shot I took has a member of my family in it (its not my place to plaster their photos all over the internet!) Even Rob did not take that many landscape photos because of the pesky weather.

Here are a few obligatory photos from our week away all taken by Rob (as usual). Plus there are a few more on my Instagram account if anyone fancies a gander.

The Needles

The Needles

Colourful chair lifts down to Alum bay. Sorry complete strangers for plastering your photos all over the internet BTW.

Colourful chair lifts down to Alum bay. Sorry complete strangers for plastering your photos all over the internet BTW.

Me on my bike on a really tough, treacherous cycle path. Baby's got back...and front...and sides!

Me on my bike on a really tough, treacherous cycle path. Baby’s got back…and front…and sides!

A donkey at the IOW Donkey Sanctuary. I think this one is called Miley...

A donkey at the IOW Donkey Sanctuary. I think this one is called Miley…

Poppy the donkey. Almost as cute as our cat Poppy!

Poppy the donkey. Almost as cute as our cat Poppy!

And finally, my fave, Dave the donkey. Everybody knows a Dave including donkeys!

And finally, my fave, Dave the donkey. Everybody knows a Dave including donkeys!

Lately #11

OMG I have not blogged at all this month! How rubbish am I!

I will spare you from all my reasons and excuses and quickly bash out a (lazy) what I have been up to lately type of post. Just so that I can keep up my momentum of blogging at least once a month since I started my lil ol’ blog back in January 2012.

  • So yeah, what have I been up to in August? The truth is not that much. Just working, working and more working. I am pretty much burnt out right now. Three jobs is hard man. I plan to write another post about my balancing act at some point soon. Just as soon as I get some time.
  • Thankfully, I am off on our annual family holiday next week. Whoo hoo! We are all sailing off to the Isle of Wight tomorrow. Look out islanders here we come! Make sure you have your chip, ice-cream and gin supplies all well stocked, as we plan on gorging ourselves silly and completely overdoing it!
  • We are taking an extra person with us this year. Last month I became an aunty again for the third time. My sister had another boy! He weighed 9lb11oz and is absolutely gigantic and has so much hair.
  • I camped at a VW show in Essex recently and had a laugh with our VW friends.
  • Recently I had a major freak out and spent over £45 on Kilner Jars because I had some flour/pantrymites/weavils. Shudder! It was awful, I did not realise I had them at first. I was mid baking a cake and had weighed out my flour and was sifting it into my mixer bowl when I noticed something crawling in it. Eww! The little bleeders got everywhere (I am a messy baker), they were all over the work top and crawling in the bowl. Yuck! They had spread from their original home the value bag of plain flour (I know that was the source, trust me) to all the other bags of flour in the cupboard. So cue me frantically throwing away all my flours, bleaching inside every cupboard and putting every kind of dried good I own into an airtight container. As soon as I was brave enough to step back into the kitchen and had stopped feeling itchy, that is. On the plus side of this experience, my kitchen has now become even more organised! Organised to the point were I proudly gave a tour of my kitchen cupboards to one of our friends, when he came round recently. Yes, I am sad!
  • I have my cooking mojo back, so I might be posting more recipes on here soon. Although one of my main reasons for not blogging is I CBA to take any photo’s. I really need to find my photography mojo again. It disappeared around 15 years ago, when I finished my photography A level. Oh dear.
  • Rob and I hope to squeeze in one or two more camping trips in September. Its such a shame that I have been working every weekend since May. But on a crappy contract I have to take what I can get. And its typical that the available overtime drys up at the end of summer. Such is life.

BEDN 22 – Leaving on a Jetplane

Day 22Tell us your favourite travel story. Or what is on your travel wishlist? Or what do you think about travelling?

Better late than never, here is my belated post about what I did on my holidays when I went to Cyprus last month!

It was our annual family holiday and this year was a big one for two reasons – it was our first holiday abroad together and my sister was getting married out there!

I faced my fear of flying to sit through four hours of mild turbulence, bored children (my nephews) and annoying passengers in the row behind me (my parents). Although it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

After a smooth transfer from the airport we reached our hotel and as soon as we got our all inclusive wristbands fitted, the holiday began!

Our days were filled with visits to the hotel gym, swimming in the beautiful crystal clear turquoise sea and of course making the most of the hotels many bars with our wristbands!

On Thursday 17th October my sister and BIL married. It was a lovely day. I am usually ‘bah humbug’ about weddings in general, but I cried my eyes out at this one! I was so proud of my nephews and family. Everyone who attended was in floods of tears and said that they had never attended such an emotional wedding! We are such a soft bunch my family, we really are!

There was about twenty of us who flew out on holiday and to attend the wedding including my family, BIL’s family and my sister’s friends and their partners. It was a really nice, relaxed, social holiday.

The highlights included –

  • My mum heckling some poor random stranger! She thought she saw my BIL diving into the pool and shouted out “yoo-hoo, Moby Dick” plus a few other good natured insults, only to realise that it wasn’t him and then run away in shame!
  • We had a girls night out/unofficial second hen night at a local dive bar, involving cheeky vimtos, dodgy dance moves and my mother pole dancing!
  • Another night while the boys were watching the football, us girls wandered into town to a Stonehenge themed bar. After we had settled and ordered our drinks, they were bought out with a free shot. The adults had a shot of some random blue booze and the kiddies were given a free little fruity non alcoholic shot. I have some great photos of my nephews downing shots! Oh dear, start ’em young eh!
  • My mum paragliding with her son in law to be. We all stood on the beach laughing waving at them. I guess the unlimited drinks made that event funnier than it sounds in hindsight!
  • The fact that beer, cocktails and food were on tap non stop all day and night long!
  • On the last day Rob convinced me to hire a buggy with him. Now, I don’t do scary adventurous stuff if I can help it. So I had a couple of very strong whiskeys to help loosen me up at ten in the morning before I went out on our bone shaking ride. It didn’t really work, I soon sobered up and screamed and swore at Rob, who was having the time of his life off roading on a dirt track near the edge of a cliff! He didn’t slow down when I asked him BTW! My hat even blew off my head and got run over by a coach behind us on the motorway! I rescued it and the tire marks came out in the wash, if anyones interested! When we got back to our hotel my mum had a quick run around the town with Rob in the buggy before our hour was up and she loved it! She kept asking Rob to go faster! She is such an adrenaline junkie granny!cypruscyprus 2cyprus 3cyprus 4
    our hotel pool

    our hotel pool

    a very dark picture of the wedding venue in the hotel

    a very dark picture of the wedding venue in the hotel

BEDM 19 Traditions

Day 19 – We all make up traditions that carry over year after year. What is your favourite tradition? Big or small, share the details and why you enjoy it.

Woo! This is my 200th post! Brought to you much earlier than anyone expected, thanks to the blog every day in May challenge!

Right lets get back to the subject matter. Despite being in a long term relationship, a former job for 12 years and still living in the same town I was born and bred in – I like change. I know that statement is a huge contradiction, but I don’t like doing the same old, same old, year in, year out.

I discussed this post with Rob and neither of us could think of any traditions we have made together. We don’t have a Sunday ritual, nor do we do anniversaries or valentines day etc. So I was a bit stuck on today’s topic.

Then all of a sudden I had a light bulb moment! Ding! – I go on holiday each year with my family. And we have done so for the last five years. Surely that is now a tradition?

Once a year Rob and I, my sister, her partner, the nephews and my parents will all go away together for a long weekend or a weeks stay in a cottage in the UK. Last year we all went to the New Forest and had a lovely time, and previously we have stayed on the Isle of Wight, a Centre Parc and South Wales.

The holidays are all on Dad. He will not accept any money from us. Believe me, I have tried to pay my own way, but he wont let me. He is amazing.

It has also now become a tradition, that for every Xmas, I compile a photo book of the pictures Rob and I have taken to give as presents. Its my way of saying thank you and we all look forward to seeing our books to relive the memories each Xmas day.

This year we are being brave (Dad also does’nt like flying) and all going away to Cyprus together!

Southwold 2013

I previously mentioned that Rob and I had a camping trip planned this month. We planned to go to Cornwall in the camper van (which was not ready in time), or take the tent (the weather has been rubbish of late), with some friends of ours (who had to pull out unfortunately). So our best laid plans did not quite work out! Instead we made a last minute decision to book three nights away in a cottage three miles outside of Southwold in Suffolk.

We had a great time, Southwold is a lovely town full of deli’s, boutiques and fancy restaurants. It reminds me of Whitstable, but with a sandy beach, and is a lot smaller, posher and prettier (so not really much like Whitstable at all then!)

Anyhoo here are some snaps I took while on my holiday. I used my little bridge camera (I have been borrowing Rob’s DSLR to take the snaps for my blog recently – I don’t know if anyone can tell the difference in quality?) and I am going to talk you through them like some 70’s sitcom character who invites their friends around to an evening of cheese fondue, blue nun and a long, boring slide show of holiday photos in the living room. DSCF1882

Above. Southwold is famous for its brightly coloured beach huts. A bit like Whitstable! (OK I will shut up now!)
PierThe pier. It was windy.blue copperCoppers thrown over the edge of the pier turned blue by the elements. As was I, brrr!
seafoamI like the composition of this photo. Its a shame the sea foam is out of focus.yellow loveI love the yellow line, the yellow beach huts and the random passer by’s yellow jacket. This photo turned out exactly how I planned it. Honestly *cough*.huts2Q What a girl to do when faced with lots of photogenic beach huts? A Take lots of snaps for her blog.huts 3huts4broadAbove. We walked along the start of the broads.DSCF1910Above. We came out of the pub and took more snaps of the beach huts in the evening light. Cue some dusky, grainy pictures.bugWe both turned into VW/photography geeks trying to get a nice photo of the bug by the sea in the evening.sunsetWe saw a beautiful sunset.sun hutI tried to get an arty shot. (And failed).pinkAbove. No picmonkey editing on the last 3 images, the colours are amazing!bug hutThe bug is such a poser. As are those beach huts. Shame it was night time!