Thursday, 29 August 2013

Hair raising experience!

Courtney's hair is (finally!) starting to get longer. So the time has come to start practising ponytails! Due to me having my disability this responsibility is going to have to fall onto Mark! (Yeah, good luck Mark!! LOL!) At least he has a willing 'victim.' I think she has been waiting so long to be pampered that it's all a novelty to her. Not bad I suppose for a very first attempt! Maybe a little more practise is needed, LOL!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Splash park and naming ceremony!

I'd planned that if it was a nice day as forecasted that we would head to Happy Mount Park to the splash zone. I figured if we set off early enough it wouldn't be as busy, we got there a little too early as it didn't open until 10:00! It was 1/4 to so we decided to wait as then we'd be first in. After a few minutes a small crowd had formed and they let us in so it was worth waiting! We went straight to a bench and got Charlie and Courtney changed. They had a great time!

Charlie is under there somewhere!

Back home and after lunch I had a mission on my hands!! Look at their school uniform pile and it all needed naming!!!! Once I got into it, it didn't seem too bad but I was glad it was done for another year!! It's all seeming very real now that in a few days I will have 2 school children!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Courtney's Schultuete.

Do you remember when Charlie started school 2 years ago his schultuete? I explained how our sister in law is German and it's a tradition in Germany to be given a cone with treats in before starting school, well now it's Courtney's turn to start school the tradition came to her! Look at the size of the cone, it's as big as her, LOL!

Charlie got one too! (Courtney got one when he started school.)

There were so many gifts inside! Courtney's all Hello Kitty themed! A full pencil case, tissues sweeties and chocolate!

Not sure what you do with the cones after but Charlie and Courtney found a good use!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Embsay Steam Railway and Bolton Abbey.

In Embsay there is a fabulous craft shop (Samuel Taylors) which I love to visit but Embsay is also home to a steam railway museum and you can ride over to Bolton Abbey on a steam train. It was something that I thought every time I visited the craft shop that we'd do but never had. We did attempt it once and I can't remember the reason why but in the end we didn't do it.
So instead we planned a day trip around the steam train and just nipped into the craft shop! My friend Elizabeth came with us and what started out as a cloudy day actually turned into a blissful sunshiney day! I'd looked up the train times before we left and noticed they ran every 45 minutes so we wouldn't have to wait too long in between trains. We had just missed one when we arrived so bought our tickets then decided to go the the craft shop first, we had planned to do this last and only if we had time but it just made sense to go then. We only had a short time as we wanted to be back for the next train. We arrived back to the station in good time and had a nice look around.

It was soon time to board the train, Charlie was very excited!

It was a very pleasant journey and would recommend it to anyone. The scenery was beautiful.
I think the journey was about 20 minutes, it possibly would have been nicer to have a little longer but 20 minutes is plenty for a 6 and 4 year old!
At our arrival at Bolton Abbey station we decided to eat lunch in the cafe on the platform. We knew the Bolton Abbey ruins were a walk away and weren't sure what the facilities would be like there. We had made the right choice, Bolton Abbey was a good half hour walk away! By now the sun was blaring, still pleasant but starting to feel hot! We reapplied sun lotion before entering the park area where the ruins are. Again I'd looked online before we set off but the ruins totally overwhelmed me. I'd seen pictures but actually being there was quite emotive.
Charlie and Courtney of course just enjoyed venturing around the ruins whilst I was appreciating that at some point it would have been quite a majestic building.

The ruins are set in a lovely park area and we had a wander around. At the bottom of the hill there is a lake with stepping stones! Stepping stones with large gaps!! Courtney was desperate to have a go across them but it took all my effort to get Charlie across, we had to jump across some gaps!!

Courtney made do with a paddle which ended up as a full on stripped down swim, LOL!
Once dressed again we made our way over to the ice cream van, yummy! It was then time to leave and once we'd climbed the hill back to the top we were all totally cream crackered!! We made our way over to the gift shop area to see if we could find out a number of a taxi as Elizabeth and I didn't like the thought of another half hour walk and I felt there was no way Charlie and Courtney would have managed it. They didn't have any numbers but a lady very kindly offered us a lift back, we were so grateful. Once back at the station we were nicely rested and the train was in so great timing. I made my way to the front to take a photo.
and when I got to the door to board everyone was looking out of the carriage window.
The journey back was equally as lovely, I think Courtney was feeling very relaxed, bless her!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Buble & Bounce!

Such great fun with Kathryn, Jessica and Daniel at Guy's Hamlet, near Preston. A field full of giant inflatables! For Kathryn and I it was very tempting to try them out ourselves but we managed to resist temptation, LOL!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Disney excitement!

We have been thinking about this for so long and now it is reality I am beyond excited! As I have mentioned before my 40th Birthday is next year, in May. There is a half term in May and so the planning began! As Charlie and Courtney have 2 weeks off in the half term (most schools only have one week) we have decided to take full advantage of both weeks.
The first week we are going to Disneyland Paris, Monday to Friday!! We are staying on site so can take full advantage of all the extra magic hours and once we watch the light show and fireworks at night we are only a 10 minute walk back to the hotel :D The lovely thing is that Charlie will celebrate his 7th Birthday whilst there too, on the Thursday.

On the Friday evening we will fly to Barcelona ready for the second week, a cruise on board Disney Magic!! We are beginning to be cruise enthusiasts and for me a Disney cruise is going to be the most wonderful thing on earth!! Isn't she a beautiful ship!

She is due to be re-imagined (refurbished) at the end of the year and the changes look fantastic, I can't wait to see them for myself. The ports we will visit are Villefranche, France where we can visit either Monte Carlo, Cannes or Nice. The other 3 ports are in Italy, La Spezia where we will visit Pisa and cross something else off my 'places to go' list, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Second Italian port is Civitavecchia which is the port for Rome. Mark and I did a weekend trip there a few years ago so we are going to look at what excursions are available somewhere else. The last port is Naples where we can visit Pompeii if we like.
As if that isn't enough Disney magic we are waiting until flights are released before we properly decide but there is talk of going to London the weekend before to see the Lion King! It will be the first time in London for Courtney. Then we will take the Eurostar to Paris!

(*update- we have now booked our flights etc and are going to London the weekend before, Yay!)

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Our tiny fish!

Charlie has been learning to swim for about 18 months now and Karen, his teacher is starting to offer group lessons which we feel he will gain more from so the time came for Courtney to start learning to swim. The easiest thing to do was let her take over Charlie's lesson. She was so excited the morning of her first lesson and couldn't wait to get in! We'd been and chosen her some nice pink goggles and armbands so she was ready! There was no problem with confidence! We have taken them both swimming so we knew she would be alright but this was swimming with somebody else but she was amazing! She's just taken to it so well and I'm sure it won't be long before she is swimming independently.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Jessica Ennis' Golden post box.

Mark wanted to go to Rotherham for an away match to his team, Preston North End. I realised we were near to Sheffield where Jessica Ennis is from and came up with the idea of going to hunt for her Golden post box to celebrate her gold medal in the women's heptathlon. We parked up in the town centre and after a very short walk spotted it! Yay!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Eddie & Nolan

Our nieces 2 new kittens! Ever so sweet!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Day 12 - Journey home


We had the rude awakening at 6:45am, which as I said yesterday was actually 5:45am GMT! We got ready, packed the last of our things into the hand luggage and met Sylvia and Hughie for breakfast. We then had to make our way to our disembarkation point, ours was different to Sylvia and Hughie's due to their cabin being further down than ours but we managed to arrange it that they could be with us. There was a bit of waiting around but all in all disembarking seemed to go quite well. We jumped into a taxi across to the station and managed to get the train an hour ahead of our booked train, this was due to the time difference, we weren't aware that the hour would be put straight on when boarding the ship at the beginning! This was good news for us, the only downside was that we didn't have reserved seats but luckily did manage to get seats on both trains, phew! Everything went extremely smoothly until we reached Preston, it seemed we were so near but yet so far! There was flooding north of Tebay and we were grounded in Preston! Nobody knew anything, when we'd be moving, whether we could go to the next stop, Lancaster, our stop or whether the flooding could be passable with care. There was no communication! We decided to price up a taxi, I sensibly took my train ticket and phone, just in case! So as I got back to the train there were indications that we could be moving very soon so we decided to leave the taxi. It then came over the tannoy that we weren't going to be moving in the next 15 minutes!! It was a really bad situation and we were all very tired by this point. It was also at this point that Courtney decided she needed the loo! As we were at the station all toilets had been locked so we had no option but to go onto the platform. Again, I took my ticket and phone. As we came out the guard was about to blow his whistle!! There was a hustle of people trying to get back on the train! Courtney and I managed to jump onto the very last carriage, the train pulled off seconds later, it sounds so dramatic! It wasn't actually, we had a ticket and communication so we would have been ok, it was just the annoyance of the situation. The hour we'd gained earlier in the day we now lost in Preston. Anyway we were able to slowly make our way up the train, yep, everyone was in the furthest away carriage! They thought we hadn't got on. Unfortunately a chap sitting next to us hadn't! His briefcase and coat etc were on board but he wasn't, we'd come from the very back of the train so he'd have been back if he was on board. Mark told me they were literally given a couple of minutes warning that the train was going to set off. We still didn't know if it was going all the way to Lancaster or if we'd be stopped again in some sidings as there was a queue of trains already at Lancaster. Thankfully we did make it all the way and managed to catch the train to Morecambe that we would have caught with our original booking! (and there is no reserved seating on this train, LOL!)
So now we are home I will show you what I was stitching, It's a Margaret Sherry design of 2 mice on a sewing machine. I got a reasonable amount done but you'll have to wait to see the finished design because you can't gauge much from this!

and a little bit of cuteness to end my holiday ramblings! The day after we came home Charlie built a dock, complete with giant crane, in his bedroom! The car ferry is our ship!!

Day 11 - Le Havre


As we were docked in Le Havre all day today we decided to have a last formal breakfast which was delicious. After leaving the boat we were ushered through to what can only be described as a yard area. We had 2 options, a noddy train or a shuttle bus into town. The noddy train also included a city tour so that's the one we chose to take.

Whilst on the tour you can't help but notice how many flats there are! Le Havre was almost completely flattened during WWII and the flats were seen to be a quick way to re home people. We were also taken round by the port and then into the town centre, there wasn't really a lot to see in Le Havre but it was a nice ride out. We were dropped off at the l'hotel de ville (town hall.)

We then had a walk around the city centre but being a Sunday nothing much was open, there was however a very busy open air market which was a mixture of clothes, food and car boot style stalls! A real mismatch! I did make a couple of purchases though , I found some rather nice PJ's and a silicone hand mitt for the oven.

Whilst out and about we nipped to a cafe, Charlie and Courtney had a treat here. They don't often have fizzy drinks (or bubbles as Courtney says.)

Mark got to do his hobby too, he likes to have a look in Estate Agents windows!

We didn't have to wait too long for the noddy train back and the only thing we really saw was St Joseph's church which Le Havre people are very proud of, it was built after the war to remember their dead. I would have liked to get out and have a look but being a Sunday and services on all day it wasn't a stop. I couldn't really take a good picture as we were too close but I took one from the boat.

Back on board we met up with Sylvia and Hughie and had something to eat. We were meant to be going back out to the beach but Mark wasn't feeling to well so he went back to the cabin for a sleep and I took Charlie and Courtney swimming.

At around 6pm Charlie and Courtney went to the kids club for the last time, it was PJ party night!

We went to the restaurant for our final dinner and then went back to the cabin to pack before picking Charlie and Courtney up. They gained points whilst at the kid's club and at the end can choose a prize! Charlie chose a MSC boat that can go in the bath and Courtney chose some white modelling clay (!) Charlie was very excited when he came out! They have really enjoyed going to the kid's club, the staff are very kind and seem to have taken a real shine to Courtney! (We often find that, her being so small but full of personality, bless her!)
We decided to have one last milky coffee before bed, I'm going to miss latte's on tap, LOL! Back in the cabin we put our cases out on to the corridor to be collected during the night and had to set our alarm for 6:45am! That sounds bad enough but when you think we are an hour ahead of British time on the ship it sounds even worse!!


Day 10 - At Sea


We enjoyed a nice easy morning and laid in until 10:00am! Sometimes there are advantages to having an inside cabin, the no sense of time thing re-occurring and we were quite surprised to find it to be so late! After breakfast Sylvia and I decided to try the arts and crafts activity. These activities seem to be quite basic but this one was fun all the same. Crepe flowers! Only ours seemed to resemble feather dusters a little more, LOL!

Sylvia and Hughie had bought Charlie and Courtney a holiday gift each so we went back to their cabin to be given them. Charlie got a fabulous MSC boat that lights up and makes noises and Courtney a Hello Kitty notepad and pen set. They were both delighted. We went back to our cabin to have a play and did so again after lunch at which time Courtney slept and I did some cross stitch.
There was a show on for the children this afternoon where they were able to join in the dancing again, they had to be at the kid's club for 3pm. After dropping them off Sylvia, Mark and I went to watch the fruit carving, this chap is so talented, he made 3 creations for us.

It was soon time to go to the theatre for the performance. We just thought our children were going to dance but it turned out to be a full production including a scene of the Lion King, well that was me very happy! The full show was excellent made even better because we didn't expect it. At the end all the children got onto the stage for their part. They did 2 songs for us, Fireworks using props they'd made and the ol' favourite, Gangnam Style!

After the show there was a photo opportunity with the MSC mascot Do-Re-Mi.

This evening was our final Gala dinner, this was the special evening where we celebrated with Baked Alaska's and napkin twirling!

Our waiters have been magnificent all the way through the cruise and they clearly enjoy this evening too. They made a lovely fuss of Charlie and Courtney!

As MSC members the four of us were invited to Captain's cocktails following dinner, again, an activity we weren't expecting. An invitation was left in our cabin a couple of days before.