Monday, April 25, 2016

A Stroll Through Stirling

Stirling is well known as the home of the Wallace Monument and the Castle, which is called, well….Stirling Castle.  Who’d have thought it?   I briefly moved to the area in autumn 2014 and was pleasantly surprised at how many lovely walks were just outside the city centre.     

One of my favourite areas is Bannockburn (which is where we lived at the time), and Gowanhill.    This is a photo diary of a typical Stirling evening stroll.


lovers walk bridge
Lovers' Walk bridge
wallace monument stirling
View of the Wallace Monument from Riverside
stirling university grounds
Lake at Stirling University  
King Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
Stirling has a long and sometimes gruesome history of fighting and not being particularly good at football.    Even though it is a major Scottish city, it's much smaller than the likes of Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen and thus it manages to retain a certain small town charm. 

The city centre itself is lovely for walking round and is very easy to navigate.  There are lots of beautiful old buildings, independent and chain stores more importantly, lots of places to buy coffee.   

Outside the centre, the city is crossed by a major motorway, but just seconds from this is a plethora of fields and quiet little winding roads that seem a million miles removed from the craziness of the cars and HGVs passing close by.

Obviously, Stirling is very famous for its majestic castle and the wonderful Wallace Monument, but aside from walking round these two iconic structures, it also has many hidden treasure to seek out.    

One of my favourite places to walk on a bright evening is around the University campus.    Here, you can find a lovely lake (well, i say lake, but it's a just a really big pond), where you can make a circuit and try not to upset the rather sensitive swans who patrol the area.

If shopping while you walk is more your thing, you can check out the Thistles Shopping Centre and get a few miles under your belt by boosting the local economy.      Also: if walking and then sitting down for a drink and then walking some more is up your street, Stirling has lots of lovely traditional pubs, lovely hotels, and your usual Wetherspoons.   It is, after all, a University city, so this is a prerequisite.  

Have you spent any time exploring Stirling by foot?   What are your favourite spots?

Suzanne x

Saturday, April 23, 2016

St George's Day Celebrations 2016

Today is the 23rd April, which means it's St George's Day! George, the patron saint of England, is celebrated annually on April 23rd and I'd like to wish a festive day to my neighbours across the border, and to my fiancĂ©  who is a proud Englishman; celebrating his first SGD in Wales after spending the previous 18 in Scotland.   You can take the boy out of England...

There are countless ways to get involved in the festivities across England this year, and these are a few of favourites:

London:
In the heart of the city, in iconic Trafalgar Square, there is a FREE family event taking place, with kids and adult activities, live music, cooking demos, dancing, amongst a host of other treats.

As 2016's SGD also coincides with the 400th Anniversary of the death of William  Shakespeare, the celebrations will have a distinctly Shakespearean twist.  

The celebrations kick off at 12pm until 6pm.  

There ate other events on across the capital, which you can find details of at www.visitlondon.com 

St George's Day 2016

Liverpool:
Where else would be more appropriate to host a festival weekend to celebrate the Patron Saint AND the anniversary of the Bard than the historic St. George's Quarter.

To be fair, the festival is more slanted towards the work of Shakespeare than Georgie, but that doesn't mean it won't be fabulous (like everything else Liverpool does, tbh).  

There's live plays, reenactments, storytelling, choir singing, craft sessions and puppet making, as well as an exclusive behind the scenes look at how Liverpool Playhouse pulls together a performance of The Two Gentleman of Verona.

Let's face it; there's something for everyone.  And even if you're particularly impossible to please, you can always grab some food and a few drinks at any of the countless excellent restaurants and cafes across the city.  

St George's Day 2016

Manchester:
Known for its friendly locals and incredible music, Manchester's got to be a safe bet for a wild and wonderful celebration of St George and Shakespeare this weekend.

Starting in Varley St at 11:45am, the St George's Day Street Festival promises to bring back that 'dragon slayer' vibe with samba, food, English wine (no, really...), and street performers.

After (and during) the parade, the action centres on Picadilly Gardens in the city, with comedy and music, as well as a host of family friendly activities.

As well as the city wide organised events, there are dozens of individual celebrations being held by chain and independent business across the area.   

Me? I'd be heading straight for The Briton's Protection on Great Bridgewater Street as they've got a raft of English Whisky on offer.   Clearly, I'd need to see how good it is in case my home nation's most famous industry has any stiff competition.

Plus: I'm Scottish and there's whisky.  Where else would I be?? 

St George's Day 2016

Birmingham:
Keeping things family orientated, you can take the wee ones along to the Barber Institute of Fine Art and let their imaginations runs free creating dragons!  What more could you want??

As well as producing their own, there's also an exhibition of dragon paintings and sculptures to fee their creativity.   Once the kiddies have designed their dragon on Saturday, take 'em back on Sunday and let them sculpt the beast.  

If anyone has any spare children, I'll gladly take them along.   I'm fairly certain I might look at bit out of place on my own.   So unfair.   I want to make a dragon, too! 

There are also tons of other festivals and events on across the length and breadth of England, including this one at Lytham St. Annes and this parade and events in Southampton.   

However you decide to celebrate today, stay safe and have a great time!


Suzanne x 




Monday, April 18, 2016

Road Trip Diary: 24 Hours in Kearney, Nebraska

After a long drive from Denver, Colorado, we decided to spent the night in Kearney before moving on the Kansas City, Missouri.   We headed out into the Great Plains and found a whole bunch of poker straight roads and, well, nothingness.    6 hours of nothingness, to be exact. 

It’s incredibly difficult to keep to a 75mph speed limit when the road stretches out endlessly in front of you and only the occasional passing of a FedEx convoy or enormous oil tanker reminds you that you are, in fact, driving and should really be paying more attention to the roads. 


24 Hours in Kearney, Nebraska

Kearney:
Kearney is a University City in the South of Nebraska and home of the University of Nebraska-Kearney, which is also one of the city’s major employers.   The city is really well located on a major highway and is within easy reach of a host of other cities and states, namely Denver (obvs), Kansas City, Des Moines in Iowa and Wichita in Kansas, to name but a few.  

It is pretty small in relation to other US cities, but has a lot to offer visitors.  It is located on the Pony Express, which was an early postal service delivering mail all the way from Missouri to California, by way of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.   That’s one massive mail route and you can’t help but wonder just how long it would take you to receive first class mail on horseback.  

Kearney is also located on the Lincoln Highway, which was America’s first transcontinental highway for automated vehicles.  Cars and such, I suspect. 

The Highway originally ran from Time Square in New York state aaaaall the way to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California.      Most of it still exists, with a number of improvements and changes of direction, and the road still traverses the US from East to West coast.  Helpfully, it also goes in reverse, so you don’t have to stay in SF if you decide it’s not for you.

If you have a short time to spend in Kearney - these are some of the fantastic attractions you could check out:

Fort Kearny State Historical Park:
A 39 acre state park, Fort Kearny was originally built to house Overland Trail travellers and was also a home station for the Pony Express.    Its history has been well preserved and there are many trails to be walked, fish to be caught and camping to be done.    The old blacksmiths shop has been rebuilt and the old fort fencing and sod house can also be viewed.  If you are interested in the history of the old west - it is a great place to enjoy a stroll while learning about the Overland Trail.  

24 Hours in Kearney, Nebraska


Museum of Nebraska Art:
MONA houses a collection of more than 6,000 works and tells the history of Nebraska through its art.  Pieces include those by Nebraska locals, as well as internationally renowned artists and celebrates the culture and background of the state by showcasing its rich talent.  

As well as the permanent collections, MONA has a rolling programme of special events and exhibitions to ensure there's always something fresh to experience on your visit.     Admission is free of charge and there's also a fantastic shop on site.   


Frank House:
Forming part of the University of NE, Frank House was designed by local architect, George William Frank, Jr.    I've no idea how he came up with the name, but the property was a gift for his parents who were, presumably, also called Frank.   The house was the first to be wired for electricity West of the Missouri, so that's pretty impressive, even if the name is unoriginal.   'We Have Lights and You Don't House' would have been so much more satisfying.     

In addition to being used as a regular house, the property has also spent time as a sanitarium and a tuberculosis hospital.    Now it is preserved on the register of Historical Places and is part of the University.   


It is a fine house, both inside and out, and admission is free of charge.   



24 Hours in Kearney, Nebraska

Nebraska Firefighter Museum:
It might not sound like that much fun at first sight, but the museum not only serves as a memorial to Nebraska's Firefighters, but also as an educational centre to teach people about the important work the Fire Brigade are involved in, as well as providing information on fire safety and prevention.

If that wasn't enough, they have Fire Engines, y'all!  Lots of 'em.    And you know what they say about fire engines?   Yep...they usually come equipped with Fire Fighters.     That might be worth the $6 entry fee in itself.   




The Archway: 
The Archway represents the settling of people in the West of the US via the Lincoln Highway and is now one of the countries busiest interstates.   You can go back almost 200 years in history and see the lands and people developing the passageways and roads that have brought them to present day.

The bridge itself is beautiful and the displays are well thought out and of a high standard.  If you, like me, knew absolutely nothing about the history of Kearney and Nebraska, you won;t be disappointed that you popped in for a visit.  Also: The Archway was a mascot called Archie (obviously) and he looks a bit like a Highland Cow.   He's fabulous.


Depending on the time of year you're visiting Central Nebraska, you might be lucky enough to see the spectacular sights of the Standhill Crane migration.   There are literally millions of them*, and Kearney is famous for having some of the best viewing sites along the Platte River for watching the elegant birds take flight.   


One of my favourite things about road tripping across the US is finding these cities that I would otherwise never have heard of them.   I've yet to be disappointed with anywhere I've stopped...apart from LA, that is, but that's a whole other story...


Have you visited, lived or worked in Kearney?  What are your tips for things to do?


Suzanne x 


*That's probably not true, but there are a LOT.





Saturday, April 16, 2016

How To Do Paris On A Budget

How To Do Paris On A Budget: Sightseeingshoes

Paris isn't the first place that springs to mind when you think of cheap travel, but there is a surprising amount to do and see, even on the smallest budget.

So much of the city can be viewed from the streets, but food and drink also needn't cost you the earth if you're staying in the French capital for a few days.   I recently spent 4 days in the city with my sisters to celebrate a birthday and realised that a visit to Paris needn't break the bank. 

These are my tips for budget Paris:

Sightseeing:

Notre Dame:
The world famous Cathedral is free to enter and is one of Paris' most spectacular sights. Notre Dame is located on a small island, the Ile de la Cite, which lies in the middle of the Seine, close to the Latin Quarter and Saint Michel.


How To Do Paris On A Budget: Sightseeing
Notre Dame has no admission fee and there's no onus on you to pray while you're there. 
Pont Neuf:
The bridge is a tourist attraction in its own right; billing itself as the oldest bridge in the city. This confuses me, somewhat, what with it being called 'nine' and all. That generally makes me suspect there are eight older bridges, but what do I know about French counting?

The bridge also has the added bonus of having a million (i'm obvs guessing) love padlocks attached to the railings at the sides. Sounds mushy; is mushy, but also good fun reading all the inscriptions and being desperate to find a Scottish couple called Tam and Senga.

On this occasion, it was not to be. Maybe next time.


How To Do Paris On A Budget: Sacre Couer
Well worth the uphill climb
Sacre Couer:
As with ND, this fabulously whitewashed chapel is free to enter and is well worth the walk up the steps to enter.  The views are truly spectacular, and it's a beautiful spot to sit and relax, looking out across the city.

Also, on the way to Sacre Coeur, you can get your photo taken at the Moulin Rouge, as both are located in the Montmartre area.   You can even try out some can-can for free on the streets..you know, if that's your kind of thing.  

Pere Lachaise Cemetery:
A short metro ride away from the middle of the city, Pere Lachaise is a beautiful graveyard (yes, I actually mean that), houses many famous occupants.

The cemetery is the final resting place of Doors frontman, Jim Morrison; Irish author, Oscar Wilde; French Opera legend, Maria Callas; and La Vie en Rose chanteuse, Edith Piaf.

You can pick up a free map outside the gates and immerse yourself in the peaceful beauty of the masoleums and stones on show. Apart from Jim Morrison's grave, which was covered with joints and flowers and guarded by two scary blokes with guns. Totally made his grave easy to spot from a distance, though. Maria Callas wasn't much of a troublemaker, I believe.

Statue of Liberty Flame:
At Pont D'Alma sits a life sized replica of the flame that was gifted from France to America, to sit in the hand of the Statue of Liberty.

The flame glows in the sunshine on the banks of The Seine and also serves as a memorial. Incidentally, it is also above the Pont D'Alma underground bridge, which was the location of the fatal crash involving Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed.

Diana's photograph is a permanent fixture on the flame memorial statue and makes an already sobering memorial all the more sad.

Montparnasse Cemetery:
Yeah, OK, so I like graveyards; don't judge me. Montparnasse is the eternal resting place of many a famous French person, including author, Jean Paul Satre and his partner, Simone de Beauvoir.  It's a lovely place for a wander, if you like walking amongst the dead and it's a surprisingly beautiful area.   No, seriously.   


How To Do Paris On A Budget: Arc de Triumphe
Don't stand in the middle of the street to get a photo, unless you no longer want to live.  

Champs Elysees/Arc de Triomphe:
In the middle of Paris, if you can avoid the crazy lines of cars whizzing back and forth, you can check out the beautiful main boulevard, as well as the Arc that serves as a symbol of those who died fighting in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.   

The Champs Elysees is beautiful by day, but even more special to view when lit up at night. The main shopping street is a mix of upmarket stores in classic buildings, to the slightly odd and very modern designs, such as the Peugeot shop.    

The Arc sits at the top of the avenue and, although a fee is charged to enter, you can't be charged for taking photos and wandering around the impressive exterior.  


Food and Drink:

Paris can be extremely expensive to eat out in but it needn't be for your entire trip. If you like street food, such as crepes, pizza and baguettes, you can actually eat on the go for a reasonable price.   There are tons of tiny places up and down side streets that will cater for all your Nutella cravings for a small fee.   

Staying in Saint Michel on this particular trip, we had a range of options, including the expensive riverside Cafes and cheap, off the main street, pizza carts.   You are never far away from choice in Paris, so don't stop at the first thing you see.  You'll always find something in your price range just a hop away.  


How To Do Paris On A Budget: Coffee
Can't start my day without one.  
I like my coffee, as do my sisters, so we all agreed that the first activity each morning was to knock back a cafe au lait or two.    I'm not an instant coffee lover, as my Nespresso machine has forever ruined that for me, but I'm also not a complete coffee snob.  

In the city, you're never too far away from a McDonald's and, although I don't personally touch the food, the coffee is really excellent.    It might not conjure up the same romantic image of sitting in a pavement cafe by the River Seine, but it's cheap and it's good.  

Besides, you can grab a cup from McD's and wander off to the nearest bridge or fountain and pop yourself down for a few minutes.   It's the same view for a fraction of the price. 

For drinks, it can be a little pricey for wine and beer, but so many bars have a cheap happy hour menu where you can indulge in some excellent Gin Fizz or a very tart Margarita for around 4€80 - €6.

If you're a fan of Champagne, expect to be set back around €13 for a semi decent glass.  I paid around €10 for beer and lager, and small glass of red or white wine was similarly priced.      


If, like us, you stay in a hotel or hostel and can take bottles to your room, grab some beer or wine at your local store for a percentage of the price you'd pay in a bar, and have a glass (or keep it classy with a plastic cup) before you hit the streets in the evening.   

How To Do Paris On A Budget: Food and Drinks
A mere €27.50 for two glasses of Champers and a pint.  Ouch... 
Accommodation:

There's no shortage of hotel accommodation in Paris and, obviously, it can be pricey place to bed down for the night.

There's also a huge range of hotel rooms that won't cost the earth and are clean, tidy and the perfect place to lay your weary bones after a day of pounding the city's cobbled streets.

Hotels: 
Hotel Eugenie in Saint Michel will set you back around £40 a night and is a short walk from Notre Dame on the Left Bank.  In terms of location, it's practically perfect.  

Hotel de L'Europe is also a cheap stay at around £100 for 3 nights for a single person.   The hotel is located in the 11th arrondissement and close to the metro station at Belleville.

Ibis Budget Paris Porte de Monmatre comes in at around the same price and is in the 18th arrondissement, but is a little further away from the main city centre attractions.   



Regardless of where you stay, time of year will always dictate pricing to a certain extent, so expect to pay more during the main tourist season and get more of a bargain over the shoulder months.  

Hostels:  
As with every other major city on watch, Paris is also home to some super hostels.    You can pick up a decent multi-room, or pay for a private one for a little more.   I'm not a fan of hostels, so I'm far happier paying £40 a night for peace, quiet and the knowledge that I might wake up in one piece.    I'm kidding - I know hostels are mostly safe but, in the middle of the night, in my head, they're anything but.


How To Do Paris On A Budget: Accommodation
You don't have to stay at the Hotel de Ville to have a good time. 
Transport:

Paris has a widely efficient RER (overground train) and Metro (underground train) system, which are both accessible and reasonably priced.    They can both be oversubscribed during rush hours, so just because a train is due, doesn't necessarily mean there will be space to get on it.

You can hire a segway to get your round the city (and these often come with their own tour guides), if you don't fancy the Metro but also don't want to put one foot in front of the other.

There are countless hop on, hop off tour buses around the city, where you can purchase daily tickets and then jump around your chosen sights without having to descend under the streets to the Metro.    These are a bit more expensive, but you do get to see where you're going, and often from the lovely vantage point of the top deck.      This is a particularly excellent way to travel on a lovely, sunny day.    


The benefits of seeing the city by foot.    And by bar, obvs.  
For me, though, I like to walk.   Walking is the one way (in my opinion) to really get to know a city and find all those hidden treasures that the locals know about and the tourists never see.   Plus, of course, walking is free and is the budget traveller's best way to explore.    Plus, walking means I can stop at a bar whenever I'm tired.   It's a win, wine really... 

Let's face it:  all you need is some flat and comfy shoes (note to my sister who wore massive heels for two days before we forced her into a Sketchers store) and the world, or Paris, rather, is your oyster.

Do you have any tips for Paris on a budget?

Suzanne x 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Favourite Roadtrip Tunes

One of my favourite things about road tripping is the ability to blast our music in my car and screech at the top of my voice.   It's a fabulous way to unwind.   

It also provides a soundtrack to your holiday and I have many play lists inspired by the numerous trips I've taken across the US, Scotland, Wales, Australia, etc - which, when played back, reminds me of of big cities, one horse towns, or whatever was happening at the time I heard it on the radio.   This immediately takes me back to my travels and the happiest times of my life.   

These are the tunes that are ingrained in my mind and what spot on earth they remind me of:


Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - I'm Yours

Every time I hear this it takes me back to my soft top car and the winding roads and endless sunshine of Maui.    I first visited Hawaii in 2008, on the first day of Obama's Presidency, actually, and the island of Maui was a thoroughly happy place, with their new President plastered all over the newspapers and a massive sense of pride amongst the local people that he was one of them.   

If you're a Republican reading this, I apologise, I know you think he's not really American at all.   You would be wrong, though, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story??   I'm kidding...I love you guys, really.    

Anyhow, this song must've been out at the time and was ALL OVER the radio in Hawaii, as I imagine it was across most of the world.   It has such an island feel to it that it was the perfect soundtrack to my road trips around the island.    

John Mayer - Free Fallin'

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - Free Fallin

I adore this Tom Petty cover by John Mayer almost as much as I love him.   I first heard it when I got tickets to see him at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on a humid summer night in 2007.    

Mayer asked his fans to choose his encore and this is what they came up with.  They're a very clever bunch, they are.     

Now, whenever I hear the song, it takes me back to summer in Canada, when I sat out in the open and sang along to all my favourite songs.   I also had an argument with three girls who were standing (in the seated area) right in front of me, whom I promptly told to sit down or go elsewhere (they were spoiling my entire view), but I try not to think of this particular incident too often.   Although, I'm obviously totally thinking about it now.

Barenaked Ladies - One Week

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - One Week

This reminds me of both Glasgow and the Grand Cayman.    Maybe it's because they're so similar, I just don't know....   I jest, or course.   Glasgow is so much better.

I first travelled to Glasgow's famous Barrowlands Ballroom to see BNL when I was...lets just say, much younger than I am now.  They were fabulous and, as always with Glasgow concert crowds, the people in the audience had just as much fun as the band on stage.

I also heard this live again in 2008, when I booked up for the BNL  Caribbean Cruise for my 30th birthday.   Unfortunately, I ended up with Norovirus for most of the trip, but managed to crawl out of bed to see the band perform on the deck.    They. Were. Amazing.


Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert - We Were Us

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - We Were Us

This reminds me of the first road trip I went on with LT when we travelled through 10 Southern US states over the course of 2 weeks.     I had gradually forced him to share my love of country music over the previous couple of years, so I knew we'd be searching for a country station as soon as we picked up our hire car.

I ADORE Miranda Lambert, so this was a new one, even for me.   I vividly recall this song being on the radio as we drove through the beautiful, sweltering avenues of Savannah, Georgia, baking in the heat and trying to find some cool air under the willow trees.    

I love Savannah, so it's lovely that this song takes me back there every time I hear it.   Which is a lot.   

Little Big Town - Day Drinkin'

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - Day Drinkin'

This song immediately transports me back to the tourist madness of Sieverville in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.    I recall it well because I love the band, but initially hated the song.  

It was obviously a popular hit at the time, so it was on the radio a lot.   The more I drove around Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and supermarkets and stores around Sieverville, the more I heard it.     The more I heard it, the more I liked it.   

Now when I play it in the car, I wonder if I'd had too much Moonshine in TN as it's a great country song...and it's about drinking alcohol during the day.    What's not to love??  Exactly.


Do you have any songs that transport you back to a specific time and place?


Suzanne x

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Travel Bug's Fascinating Facts About Snowdon

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts About Snowdon

TTB has been living in North Wales for 10 months now and loves having a cottage in the middle of Snowdonia National Park.   This means he has lots of places to roam and he likes gazing out across at Snowdon from the comfort of his sitting room.   

He hasn't attempted to hike Snowdon yet because, well...he would fly if he really wanted to conquer it, wouldn't he?     Apparently, he'll do it when he's good and ready.   Another two or three years, allegedly.

These are The Travel Bug's Fascinating Facts about Snowdon:

  • Mount Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales and England.   It is the second highest in the UK, as Ben Nevis in Scotland is the tallest.  TTB likes that Ben Nevis is the highest mountain is the highest as he was 'born' in Scotland.  

  • Legendary explorer, Sir Edmund Hillary, used to train on Snowdon before he attempted to climb Mount Everest.   TTB thinks that anyone who tries this has cotton wool for brains.   Why would you put yourself through that when you could be napping?

  • The Welsh name for Snowdon is 'yr Wyddfa', which means monument or tomb.   As legend would have it, a troll called Rhita Gawr, lived on Snowdon and would murder climbers and use their beards to make cloaks.    King Arthur eventually put a stop to this gruesome practice when he climbed to the summit and done away with the ogre.   What an uplifting story.

Do you have any facts about Wales' highest peak to share with The Travel Bug?


TTB xx 


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts About Paris

The Travel Bug: Paris
ooh la la.... 
The Travel Bug has just returned from a long weekend in Paris and had a lovely time in the City of Lights.   He drank too much champagne and ate too many baguettes, but he enjoyed finding out lots of random facts about Paris.   

These are his favourites:



  • Paris has around 470,000 trees and ever single one of them is measured.   Every.  Single.  One. TTB thinks this doesn't sound like his ideal job...even if it is in Paris.

  • There are more dogs in Paris than children.  TTB thinks this is the best thing about the city; all those dogs to pet and hardly any noisy kids.  Children try to pull TTB's nose off and he doesn't like that very much.  They seem to think he's some sort of fluffy food product.   

  • A Paris apartment was left locked for 70 years but its rent was always paid on time.  When the mysterious renter of the property died and the apartment door was finally unlocked, an art work valued at €2 million was discovered.   TTB always keeps his doors locked in case someone tries to steals any of the pictures he paints for his human's fridge.   

Do you have any more fascinating facts about Paris for The Travel Bug??


TTB xx 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

The Great Monthly Challenge: March

The Great Monthly Challenge: March

Determined to follow on from my whole New Year Challenge thing, I hit March with the same enthusiasm I reserve for getting up an going to work... i.e. I did what I could and then tried to block out the memories.   

This is the new stuff I discovered in March : 

Books:  
I grabbed a copy of Death Comes At The End at my local charity shop where, incidentally, I buy all my books now.   It's difficult to resist paying 50p for an Agatha Christie thriller, don't you think?

It was really outer design that made me pick it up and, with this, I fell into that well worn trap of judging a book by its cover.    To be fair, I've done worse things and it really did make it look all mysterious and exotic.

Christie wrote some of the novel whilst holidaying by The Nile in Egypt and I was lucky enough to visit her hotel room during one of my trips and was more excited about the prospect of imagining her writing it that I was about reading it.    Strange, but true.  

This should probably have tipped me off to the fact that I'd much rather look at the pictures on cover than the words on the pages and, alas, this has proven to be the case.   I've read a few chapters and haven't exactly been gripped.   I've had it for weeks, so I guess we could say this month's book challenge hasn't gone as planned.     I am determined to get to the end of it, though. Even if it takes me the whole of April.   Which it might.   

The Great Monthly Challenge: March - Reading
I charged my Kindle if that counts for anything? No? 
New Music: 
Instead of finding something new and exciting, I've actually gone back to albums I haven't listened to forever.  This month's album of choice has been 'So Far So Good' by Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams.   

I've never actually been a massive fan of Adams, but there are few songs that I know the words to.   I can't bloody stand that song from Robin Hood, though, so I always skip that one.   I think it's because it was at number one in the charts for my entire childhood.

As it turns out, the greatest hits are just that: great.   I'd totally forgotten just how many fantastic songs Bryan Adams has produced and it's even more impressive, given it was released in 1993.   Anyway, I would like to apologise if you've drive through Dyffryn over the past four weeks and heard the strains of Bryan playing guitar and me screeching out 'Summer of '69' on the farm.   It's impossible not to sing along to at the top of your voice.  

The Great Monthly Challenge: March - TV and Movies
Danny Dyer's gonna be stuck in head for even longer now.  
New TV/Movie 
My indecision/inability to sit down for any length of time makes this one a real challenge.    I haven't watched anything new on TV and still have so much downloaded (The Night Manager, House of Cards Season 4, The Walking Dead, etc) that I haven't quite found time to tune into yet.

I did, however, give 'The Fall of The Krays' 2016 movie a go   I know that Legen with Tom Hardy was also released recently but, I thought I'd try this out first.   I love anything relating to crime; particularly when it's based on a true story, so this made it pretty easy for me to keep my eye one.

Starring Simon as Ronnie and Kevin Lesie as Reg, the movie delves into the murky world of the twins and, with practically every line that was delivered, I was reminded of Danny Dyer.     I have no idea why hearing a cockney accent ALWAYS make me think of him.   It just does.    It's pretty annoying, really.     I used to pretend I was Danny Dyer when I tried to get my dog to do what he was told.   Somewhat surprisingly, didn't work.     Who knew?  

The film concentrates on the violence at the heart of the Krays reign of terror, as well as their slow descent into, well...madness, really.     It's fairly watchable, but I'm not sure I would particularly recommend it. 


The Great Monthly Challenge: March - running
This little guy makes running look like so much fun.   It's not.  
Exercising:
March has, even by my standards, been absolutely dreadful.   I have managed a few runs, mostly towards the end of the month (nothing like a deadline to get me moving), but I've done nothing more with my exercise bike that use it to hang clothes on.     It makes an excellent wardrobe, though.

I assumed, wrongly, obviously, that the advent of Spring would have me energised, and that the clocks going forward would mean that getting home from work while it was still light would encourage me out of my hibernation and get me pounding the local streets.   Not so much, as it happens.     If I don't pick up the pace soon I'll have to call Sibcas to crane me out of bed in the morning.  

Onwards and upwards.     Or something.   

In my defence, I did spend four days wandering around Paris, which clocked up a TON of miles.   I also ate and drank like a maniac, though, so that probably more than cancelled it out.   


Have you made any positive changes in March?   Or, like me, have you failed miserably to really do more than get through the days?  

   

Suzanne x