Saturday, 24 June 2017

What I did on my Summer Holiday . . .


I think it had probably been a good five years since Todd and I had been anywhere on a holiday together, so we were really looking forward to getting away together this summer on a brief break thanks to the McMillan Cancer Trust who awarded Todd a grant for a respite holiday. We were so very grateful for this opportunity and neither of us had really been to Scotland and so we took ourselves on a coach holiday up to the beautiful highlands!  We have done coach trips in the past and we thought this was one way of holidaying where Todd would not have to drive. They are also all-inclusive, which is even better, with your breakfast and suppers being included in the price along with the travel and hotel, etc.  All you need to pay for is any extras, lunches, additional excursions, etc.  I had also won a cash award from a recipe I had submitted to My Favourite Recipes and so this meant that even our optional extras would be covered.  Win/win all around!  Yes, we are blessed.

This was a quick selfie I snapped on the coach right after pick-up.  We had to be at the pick-up point by 8:30 am on the day we left.  Not too hard, except we neither one of us slept much the night before. Too excited I suppose.  That often happens!  We were really excited to be on our way and thought we would maybe doze on the coach. No way, we were both too excited to sleep and neither one of us wanted to miss anything! One of the ideas behind Todd not having to drive was Todd being able to enjoy the scenery!

We had four more pick-ups  . . .  Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Wigan and Warrington . . .  after which we well and truly got on the road. The coach was full by that point!  We had a cheeky chappie for a driver named Paul.  He was so nice and so funny, and so very knowledgeable!  He kept us in stitches and well informed about everything!

There was one brief toilet stop halfway up to the Scottish border, but our first major stop was going to be right across the border in a little town called Gretna Green. This would be for lunch. Todd and I had been to Gretna Green before and we were both looking forward to seeing it again.  We were not there for long, only about 45 minutes.  Just long enough to use the loo and have a quick lunch and boo around.

Gretna Green is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings. It is in Dumfries and Galloway, near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh.We had driven up to visit it the last time we were in Cumbria on holiday so a good 7 or more years ago now!  We did enjoy the brief stop and opportunity to stretch our legs.  My knee was still very poorly, but I had bought myself a brace which I was hoping would help.  It did, a bit.

Down the motorway we went until we started to hit the Highlands and the Trossachs National Park, where our coach began to wind its way up hillsides and glens.  The scenery was absolutely stunning. I cannot even begin to describe it.  Breathtaking perhaps might start to do it justice.  It was very overcast and misty by then, and most of the hilltops were shrouded in cloud and mist, but we were both falling totally in love with Scotland.

Our destination was the Ben Doran Hotel, situated in Upper Tyndrum in the Trossachs, and we arrived there about 5:30 PM, so a long drive, but steeped in history and scenery. Not boring in the least.  One thing that they do on coaches now is make you use hand disinfectant before getting on and off the coaches, and in the hotel as you enter, as you enter and leave the dining room, etc.  I guess this is to prevent illness. (Didn't stop me from coming down with a massive cold however, which I am still battling.)  We had an hour and a half rest before dinner was going to be served, so just long enough to freshen up and take in our surroundings.

This was the view from our room.  So just gorgeous.  The room itself was nothing spectacular.  Just a room with a double bed and an ensuite, but clean and comfortable.  We are so used to sleeping in Twin Beds that we found the double bed a bit awkward and it made for a few sleepless nights as we are used to each of us having our own space and covers, lol.  But eventually we were so tired and exhausted we could have slept on a sidewalk!

We looked out the window at one point and Benjamin Bunny had come out to greet us.  So cute.

The food at the hotel was fantastic.  Each night there was a different menu with several entrees to choose from, as well as a choice of starters and desserts.  I enjoyed Chicken with a peppercorn sauce, a turkey dinner, roast lamb, roast beef, fried haddock and some really scrumptious starters and desserts.   Breakfast each morning began with oatmeal in the Scottish manner with salt added, toast, rolls, fruit juices and a choice of a big Scottish breakfast which usually included bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, tomato, eggs . . . you could have your eggs done any way you wanted them.  I would have liked to be able to have a muffin some days or a croissant, but really it was nothing to complain about. 


Each night after dinner there was entertainment provided in the lounge/bar area.   We didn't take it in on the first night as we were too tired, but we did go on two other nights and greatly enjoyed it.  This man was particularly good. I can't remember what his name was, but he reminded me a lot of Billy Connelly and he was funny and a great singer and had everyone joining in.

Each day we were up bright and early and then taken off on excursions to see some of the sights and scenery of Scotland and the highlands.  This was the Kelpies. The Kelpies are 30-metre-high horse-head sculptures, standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal, and near River Carron, in The Helix, a new parkland project built to connect 16 communities in the Falkirk Council Area, Scotland. They were designed by the artist Andy Scott at a multi-million pound cost and are ginormous! They are composed of sheets of metal and almost glitter in the sunlight.  We were fascinated to say the least!  After them, we were taken into Edinburgh.  What a beautiful city!  We both said we would like to go back and visit it one day.  We took a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

To be honest there was a lot of walking involved and by that point my knee had taken all it could take, so I ended up sitting on a bench and just listening to the recorded tour while Todd walked through it.  I literally was crippled up and could barely walk.  It was like that the whole time we were up there.  I was so annoyed with myself.  We both felt however that the cost of going onto the Royal Yacht was exorbitant (£16 each) and not worth it.  That was one excursion we wish that we had skipped for the price.  It was crowded and there were too many stairs.

The next day we were taken to LochNess.  There was a piper in the parking lot where the coach dropped us off.  We had fish and chips . . .  to be honest my knee was giving me so much problem at that point, I told Todd to not let me hold him back. I could tell that he was getting frustrated with my pace and so was I.  I told him to go on and see whatever he could in the town and I would wander as I could wander, which eventually he did, walking down to the locks and seeing the lake, etc. I managed to get down to the river . . . and a small bridge.  

 This is a photo I took from the bridge. It was really pretty there and I watched swallows flying and swooping and eating insects en flight.  It looked like there had been an older bridge at some point as there were still the pylon fittings in situe.  I really felt bad that my knee was causing us so many problems. I really did.  It was annoying, but I still got to enjoy the scenery which was so beautiful. 

The next day we went to Loch Lomond, which was stunning and one of the largest lakes in the Highlands. We took a cruise on the lake.  I felt bad again as I had to stay on the ground floor of the boat because (again) the stairs and Todd felt obliged to stay with me.  


This was Stirling Castle.  And we saw the William Wallace Monument from the coach and again the scenery was stunning. 


We drove through Rannoch Moor which is one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. The area is a vast stretch of land composed of blanket bog, lochans, rivers, and rocky outcrops which makes it a very challenging environment which still supports varieties of flora and fauna. A wealth of plants, insect, bird and animal life can be seen here ranging from curlews and grouse to roe and red deer.  We both were in awe of the scenery.  Words cannot adequately describe all that we saw.

On that day, on our way back to the hotel, we spied (through out coach window) about 6 stags making their way through a Glen down below the highway.   We were treated to beautiful vistas of mountains and glens wherever we looked.  Simply amazing scenery. We would love to go again on our own and take it in at a more leisurely pace as there were things we would have loved to stop and see, but because you are on a coach and it is moving, you cannot.  On that day we also went to Fort William.  I thought we might see a fort, but we didn't.  Just a shopping mall.  There  might have been more to see off the coach, but again, my knee.  I stayed on the coach and Todd went for a wander.

And I was getting a sore throat.

The next day was a trip to Oban and a cruise to the Isle of Mull.  By then my head/chest cold had taken hold and I was thinking about all the steps on the cruise ship and so I told Todd to go on his own and enjoy it while I rested in our room.  He didn't really want to do that, but I made him go and in the end he said it was a wise choice because there would have been too much walking involved and stairs and I could not have coped. To be honest, by then I could barely walk at all and I was hacking and coughing.  Todd thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt good about that.  To me, this holiday was all about him getting away and having a break of what he had been through over the past six months and I really didn't want my disabilities to prevent him from doing that.  I wanted him to have a good time and to see whatever he could.  Who knows when we will be able to afford to go on something like this again!  (Hopefully my book will do well and my knee will get better and we can think about maybe another holiday next year.  Fingers crossed!) 

The next day we were on our way home again and I was so happy to get home and sleep in my own bed that  night.  We were both exhausted and in bed by 8:30.  We both slept the sleep of the dead, even despite my cold.  Travel is exhausting.  And travel when you are sick is even more exhausting.  But we did enjoy the break.  I was really sorry that I had come down ill and that my knee was putting a bit of a damper on things, I really was.

We have been home two days now and my cold is still clinging on. So much for the antiseptic handwash.  Didn't keep me from getting ill at any rate!  I only hope that I can keep Todd from coming down with it! I have an appointment to go back to the Doctor about my knee on Monday and I am seeing a different Doctor this time. Hopefully I will get something done about it. This has been going on long enough.  Its really making me feel down.  I hope that I don't have to live like this for the rest of my life.  I really don't want that. I can barely walk at all now.

Little Mitzie was so glad to see us when Tina
dropped her off on Thursday.  Excited
doesn't begin to cover

She must have spent an hour talking to us, telling us about her whole week.  It was so cute and of course we have been enjoying lots of cuddles ever since!  If you are looking for a lovely place to visit that is filled with spectacular scenery, I really recommend the Scottish Highlands.   It is stunning. Simply stunning.

A thought to carry with you through today  . . . 

 .° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★

 *.˛.° ˛°. . 
˛ Pray when you feel like worrying,
Give thanks when you feel like complaining.
Keep going when you feel like quitting.

In The English Kitchen today  . . .  a Lighter Strawberry Shortcake. Only 157 calories per serving, which isn't too bad for a dessert!

Have a great Saturday.  I have a grocery order being delivered this morning.  I cannot walk around the shops, so delivery was my only choice. I don't trust Todd to do the shopping.  Despite  having a list, he would bring back all the wrong things. LOL  He is so NOT a shopper!  Don't forget!

═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ ⊰✿░G░O░D⊰✿⊰L░O░V░E░S⊰✿⊰░Y░O░U░⊰✿
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And I do too!

Friday, 23 June 2017

My Friday Finds

A few of the things I find each week that pique my interest, inspire or make me want to create!  I hope that they do the same for you! 

Felt Magnet. Five common crochet mistakes and tips for beginners.

I think we have all been here.  Sometimes we just need a little extra push.  From Mommy on Purpose.

An IKEA hack from Shrimp Salad Circus. How to paint a rug.

Free Digital Papers from Harper Finch. I love papers! Lovely patterns here and colours.  I like bright!

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips.  These could be really dangerous!  From Brown Eyed Baker.

How to get a sharp focus in your photos. From Cosy Clicks. Every little helps!


Planning a wildlife garden, where there is a space for every wild thing.  From Buglife.

Twig Garden Markers.  Such a simple idea.  There is always next year!  No source, but great idea!

Backyard Diva. Did you know roses love garlic?  Neither did I!

How to make your own Lawn Fertilizer.  Seems so simple!

Essential Oils for Nerve Pain. 18 of the best essential oils for nerve pain. These oils can be a natural alternative treatment for painful nerve pain or neuropathy. From Aroma Utopia.

From Lila Griffith.  I love these.  DIY paper cut flower cake toppers. How unique!

From Buzz Feed.  29 Summer Dinners you can make in a crock pot.  Cool cooking for when the kitchen heats up!  there are some very tasty looking recipes here. 

DIY Pantry Spice Rack. From Home Staging

From Sew Can She.  11 free sewing projects to help keep you organized.

DIY Cloth Napkins.  Love these.  From Chocolate and Zucchini.

And those are my finds for this week.  I hope there is something here you can use!

A thought to carry with you . . .

 .° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★

 *.˛.° ˛°. . 
˛ Every few years, one needs
to shake one's life through a sieve,
like a miner in the Yukon.
The gold nuggets remain.
~Amy Poehler •。★★ 。* 。

Spiritual Enlightenment


In The English Kitchen today . . .  Grilled Sweet Potato Packets.  Simple, quick and delicious!  Plus no washing up.  I like that!

Have a fabulous Friday.  I will be back to talk about our holiday tomorrow so stay tuned!  As you go about your day today, don't forget!

═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ ⊰✿░G░O░D⊰✿⊰L░O░V░E░S⊰✿⊰░Y░O░U░⊰✿
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And I do too!


Thursday, 22 June 2017

My favourite things . . .

These are a few of my favourite things . . .  maybe some of them are your favourite things too.

I fell in love with Scotland.  It is one of the most beautiful countries, especially the Highlands where we were staying.  Quite simply stunning.  Todd and I would love to go back one day and maybe do the Western Islands and Hebride Islands.  Even in the rain the Highlands are one of the most gorgeous places to be. We were ahhing and ooohing around every corner!

Be it ever so humble there is no place like home.  I will do a holiday post another day and share with you what all we did in Scotland, but there really is no place like home.  Especially when you are not feeling well.  I brought back lots of shortbread (tins!) from the North but I also brought home a stinking cold.  I started getting it about halfway through our holiday and actually spent the last day in the hotel room nursing it while Todd went out and about.  There really is no place you would rather be when you are unwell than home sweet home.  We were both so exhausted when we got in last night and then with the cold on top of it I was so happy to tumble into my own bed and I slept like a log the whole night through until six this morning.  Travel is great, but coming home is even greater!

Making new Friends!  We sat across the table every meal time with a couple from near Stratford Upon Avon, called Margaret and John.  They were just lovely.  Margaret loves to do needlecrafts and works for an online shop called The Wool Warehouse, (check it out, its lovely) and John is a pop artist. We had ever so much in common, including meeting our husbands online.  We have vowed to stay in touch and have added each other as friends on FB.  Holidays are nice, but meeting super people that you like when you are on them is even nicer!

We did not buy much in the way of souveniers while we were away.  They're all made in China anyways, but I did bring home this shortbread tin.  I have tasted better shortbreads, but I fell in love with the tin.  It will make a great recipe tin don't you think? I got two others also.   A small square one with a thistle on it that will be great for pins and an oval one covered with bluebells that I will find some use for no doubt!  I love decortive tins.

A good night's sleep in my very own bed.  I don't think either one of us got a great night's sleep the whole time we were away.  The bed was very hard and we are so used to sleeping in twin beds that we kept waking each other up every time we moved, lol.  We have twin beds here at home, albeit they are pushed together . . .  but we each have our own space and own blankets and they are very comfortable beds.  Then after I started getting my cold when my nose was stuffed up and I started coughing, I was so conscious of not disturbing Todd that I hardly slept at all, getting to sleep last night in our own home sweet home bed, as hot and muggy as it was, was the best feeling ever!

 photo SAM_4245_zpsdc7b88c2.jpg

I can't wait to see Mitzie later this morning when Tina brings her home.  We would have gone to pick her up, but Tina said she was happy to bring her home.  I hope that is a good thing.  Actually Tina has said she was a joy to take care of, which is good.  The house seems awfully empty here without here.  I hope she will be as excited to see us as we will be to see her.  All will finally be as it should be. Mitzie is one of my favourite things/doggies. 

Grandchildren.  I love my grandchildren very much as you know and guess who is turning a big FOUR today!  Yep.  Cameron!  Cameron and I have not met in person yet. *sniff* *sniff*  But I hope we get to meet soon.   I hope that he has a wonderful birthday.   Happy Birthday Cameron!  I also hope he got my birthday present in time!  I sure with that I could have given it to him in person! 

Well, that's not a lot of favourites this week, but I am not feeling all that well
with this cold, and so I am going to cut it short with a thought to
carry with you for today  . . . 

.° * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門 ★

 *.˛.°The words you speak
become the house you live in.
~Hafiz  •。★★ 。* 。 

In The English Kitchen today  . . .  a delicious Lamb Tagine you can cook in the slow cooker.

Have a great Thursday.  I have laundry up the kazoo to do!  Don't forget whatever you get up to!

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And I do too!



Friday, 16 June 2017

At the moment

I haven't been able to figure out how to post pic on here from the iPad, but if you want to follow me on Instagram, marierayner5530 you can catch them ther. So far having a great time but exhausted because I didn't sleep all last night I was so excited! Xoxo