Thursday, 29 January 2015

Dancing at the top of the Spinnaker Tower

I am not keen on heights.  It's odd really since I met my husband hot air ballooning which I don't have a problem with. Giant picnic basket powered by air - fine. Solid (but tall) building engineered by highly qualified humans - not so much.

Which is why I have never been up Portsmouth's famous landmark building, the Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays. I love it - I like the design, I love the way it's lit at night, I love spotting it off the motorway because I know my eldest son (who lives and works in Portsmouth)is nearby. But I can't bring myself to go up to the viewing areas.

It's a shame because as you can see the views are amazing!

My husband took 5 children up there years ago when we were on holiday in the area (when we only had six children). We saved our Tesco ClubCard vouchers and cashed them in to "pay" for tickets.

As I said though I am not great with heights so I stayed down on terra firma using the baby I had in a pushchair as an excuse. They headed up, I headed to the Cath Kidston outlet shop. Everyone was happy.

Recently we were back at Gunwharf Quays meeting my son for lunch. We were returning our second eldest son (DS#2) to uni and had taken our youngest (Grumpy) with us.

DS#2 and Grumpy did not look delighted at the thought of a nice wander round the shops. They were very interested in the tower however so in a moment of weakness I said they could go up.

We realised we could get a student discount (there are also discounts for residents, people who work on the Gunwharf Quays site, senior citizens, online booking....) and so fee paid off they went while we headed off predictably to Cath Kidston. Again.

I asked my son to take pictures and was delighted with the pictures and video he came back with. This (very) short video is worth a look if you are easily amused by dodgy dancing!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Overheard in middle class middle England

 I live in the Home Counties in a very lovely village and am very aware I am very lucky. And being surrounded by privileged people occasionally I get to experience prime examples of situations which I would define as first world problems.

My friend told me about a fabulously sweaty row she witnessed over who was going to buy the last bottle of Prosecco at a local fundraising event recently. Apparently the C-word was used. There was talk of "taking it outside." Fabulous!

And at the weekend I got to witness a wonderful situation when a posh couple subjected themselves to the Golden Arches experience for the first time ever.

So this was on the motorway on the way home from visiting our eldest boys on the south coast. Grumpy was hungry and DH and I needed refreshments too.

We spotted a motorway services sign which advertised McDonalds so decided a Happy Meal and a milkshake would be a nice treat.

DH and Grumpy stayed in the car and I popped in. It was one of those McDonalds where you order at one till and collect from a designated counter. I was waiting for our order and overheard a smartly dressed couple asking the server what they might recommend. I couldn't hear his reply but as they walked towards me I overheard their conversation.

It went something like this.

"Well that's a rum do. How odd - paying for your food before you eat it." said the man. The lady with him replied:"Yes look we have to wait for our number to come up. It's like the post office isn't it?"

They carried on chatting about being able to see the food being prepared and how it must be fabulous food as so many people were ordering. They mused on what exactly they might have ordered, poring over their receipt.

I was intrigued and was delighted when the woman at the collection point shouted their number, followed by their order.

"Sharebox, two McFlurrys, two coffees."

Yes I could see how McDonald's virgins might wonder what it was they had ordered. "Sharebox" "McFlurry" Odd names which don't really explain what each item. At least they knew they had coffee to enjoy.

The couple hurried forward as excited as children and peered at their tray. It obviously didn't help because as they carried it past me I heard them debating what on earth had they got to eat!

Luckily they sat behind where I was standing so I could still  hear them, although I was disappointed I couldn't see their faces as they opened the box to reveal -chicken nuggets!

I did hear the man discovering what was in the McFlurry pots. With a note of amazement he said:"it seems to be some sort of ice-cream darling."

I so wanted to laugh out loud!

At that point my order was called and I picked up our bag. I risked a glance at the couple as I walked out and was highly amused to see they were still peering into their share box looking bewildered!

I have no idea why they had chosen the fast food burger bar when the services offered a variety of more traditional food choices - maybe they were feeling adventurous. Good on them - I hope they enjoyed their unusual meal.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A look back at our perfect Turkish honeymoon holiday

Everyone has one holiday which they remember as perfect. Perfect destination, perfect accommodation and a host of happy memories which last long after the last of the sand has fallen out of your sandals.

One of the beaches at Side (pic: First Choice)
For me that holiday was our honeymoon which we spent in Turkey, the land where East meets West with a myriad of different types of resort to suit all tastes.

We stayed in a little resort called Side (pronounced sea-day) in the middle of Turkey's Mediterranean coast around 75 kms east of Antalya where our 4 hour flight from Gatwick landed.

It used to be a major Roman port but is now half holiday resort, half historic site. This means you can admire the amazingly well preserved amphitheatre, the bathhouse (where legend has it Anthony and Cleopatra bathed!) and the remains of the Temple of Apollo before enjoying fabulous food, some souvenir shopping and even a trio to once of the town's night clubs.

Even as young newlyweds we were not really nightclubbing types but that is the beauty of Side - it's a resort of many faces.

Let me run you through a typical day for us when we visited.

Breakfast was taken outdoors (temperatures range from a balmy 15 degrees in winter up to scorching 40 in the height of summer!) followed by a couple of hours on the sandy beach or a wander round the fascinating bazaars and shops.

We bought a beautiful rug which was a real experience involving haggling and many tiny cups of hot sweet mint tea! One day we were lucky enough to stumble across a market along the road to the Ampitheatre where ancient mosaic footpaths could still be seen.

We climbed all these tiers and enjoyed an amazing view! (pic: First Choice)

We sometimes took lunch in the old town harbour, or under one of the cool covered rooftop restaurants in the bazaar. We loved feasting on meats cooked on charcoal with lovely local bread and dips.

Then maybe an afternoon nap or cool drinks sitting out of the sun watching the world walk by with the sounds, smells and sights of Turkey surrounding us - it felt so exotic!

The dilemma of where to eat dinner - our hotel didn't offer meals but if you travel with FirstChoice  they offer a variety of accommodation types, some with a choice of a la carte restaurants.

Then a romantic walk along the headland to the Temple of Apollo overlooking the sea. Perfect!

We also took a few excursions - you can visit the cosmopolitan city of Antalya by coach or boat or head inland to explore unusual sites like Pamukkale thermal pools- seriously this should be on everyone's list of must-see destinations!
Pamukkale - one of the wonders of the world in my book! (pic: First Choice)

Golfers, walkers, photographers, families, couples.... anyone who wants to have a relaxing, or exciting holiday can find it either in or around Side or at the many other amazing resorts in Turkey which each have unique attractions and atmospheres. We loved the country, it's historical attractions, it's people, the food and the wonderful weather.

We have promised ourselves that one day - we will return.

Temple of Apollo, Side (pic First Choice)

This post was written in collaboration with First Choice.