Last Day of my 50@50 blog

 

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So here I am….50!!! 

I decided to set the alarm for 4.45am and get up to see the dawn of my 50th birthday ( which turns out to be much earlier than sunrise!!!) and Mother Nature did not let me down.  There were a few stars twinkling in the sky, no plane trails and I could clearly see the bats flitting around my head and then finally going to roost under the tiles, just below the cowl in the oast.  And then it happened….a shooting star!!  I know it’s daft but I burst into tears….it was so unexpected and beautiful…..I decided it was meant for me and made a wish on it. The birds then started to sing ( although a moorhen was the first to call), followed by chickens, cows mooing, rabbits hopping away and the air then filled with a swirl of crows.  As the sun rose I got out of the hot tub and headed across the field opposite (yes in my swimming costume…but then I felt even too silly for me so went and got dressed and returned) and watched as mist lifted off the fields and the golden light spread…ethereal magic.  I then watered the garden and had a chat with cocky, roosting up in his tree, who seemed very bemused by the fact that I was up before him and flew into the neighbours garden in disgust!! I then saw all the photos Chris had posted on Facebook…how lucky I am to have a man I love as much as him…he even decorated the table for me with balloon, sprinkles, a banner and, quite excitingly, some presents.  Best of all I know he has baked me a cake!

But now, this challenge is coming to a close and I just want to thank everyone who has followed me, left messages, comments and taken part in all my 50@50 challenges.  Whilst I did this blog for myself, everyone’s reaction has made it something beyond belief.  This month alone I will have over 1000 views….which is madness!! It has been very hard sometimes to be so open and honest with myself ( and therefore with everyone) but it has been soooooo worth it.  Simply, thank you, ….for coming on my 50@50 trip and if I have inspired you ( which kindly so many of you say I have) then I am truly touched and that is such a bonus as I have had a blast!!!  I have one more challenge to complete today hopefully but whilst reflecting in the hot tub this morning (gosh the thoughts and memories were great) I want to leave you with this, which sums up how this year has left me feeling….

the only thing that limits me is my attitude…the only thing that frees me is my actions ❤️

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Glamping in a Yurt – challenge No 36

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This girl don’t camp!!!  However I realised that I was missing out on so many of the things I truly love by not. Such a dilemma….until the wonderful glamping revolution took over and since them I have just not quite got around to doing it ( as with sooooo many other things); hence the addition to my 50@50 list.  There was also some strong resistance on the part of Chris who said unless I added it to the list he would not do it with me…..but I am now wondering if that was a bit of reverse psychology…he is sooo cunning 😉.

It was a last minute booking so whilst there was not a yurt available we booked a bell tent.  The site we stayed in was amazing and I have attached the link below. If you want true luxury,  check out their new treehouse…OMG!!!

http://www.mallinson.co.uk/glamping.html

I defy anyone NOT to have a great time at this place.  It was tranquil, our tent was secluded and after the best nights sleep I had had in months we rolled back the tent flaps and I gazed out over a sea of green.  The trees were busy with birds ( tree creepers and robins) and the pond had a moorhen scuttling across it and huge, diaphanous dragonflies flitting over it too…..a true Eden.  Our Bell tent was so comfortable with a king size bed, it had a wood burner inside and a bar b q/fire pit outside, table and hammock.  The site was cleverly laid out so it felt so quiet, even though we were only a very short distance from the main cooking tent, communal fire pit and wash facilities.

What could be better?…well the fact that we were in Dorset; one of my favourite counties and it meant we could head off and explore the Jurassic coastline.

I felt completely re-energised after our two day stay…our first night was spent chatting in the communal area with a father and son who were on the woodworking course making chairs (such an amazing bonding experience for them, that this was their fifth year I think they said, making various, progressively harder objects).  However the second night we spent by ourselves with the local cider (honesty box for all drinks from the fridge….refreshingly trusting), beer and port  and a bar of chocolate, by our tent and with a great fire..chatting, laughing, reminiscing and pinching ourselves at how lucky we were to have found this stunning site.

We are complete glamping converts.  Having found this amazing spot we now know that the setting is equally as important as a comfy bed….somewhere in some woods for us where we can have a midnight shower under a canopy of leaves with the Stars twinkling for lights and feel immersed in nature….it won’t be long before we are back!!!

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Failures and deferrals!!

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Whilst I have packed in a huge amount in these last 12 months I have to confess I have  not quite managed to tick everything off my list.  Here is a run down on the elusive ones:-

1:1 challenge with my school friend Michaela – Its on the drawing board for later this year….does a pamper day count as a challenge….answers on a postcard please?? 😉

See basking sharks challenge – I was soooo close!!  Poor sightings in Cornwall this year meant my plans changed and it had to be Oban, Scotland; one week long course clashed with an annual must attend event so we decided to go for a day trip….however at that point I took a step back and reflected.  To do it would end up, including travel and overnight accommodation expenses and a one day trip costing £500-£1,000.  So I took a deep breath and said…..it can wait…..and it can.  However I still intend to see them and look forward to that day.

Lose one and a half stone challenge –ok, ok….I guess I should have realised that with all the other things going on this was unlikely to happen.  However, I am glad I am back at Slimming World and I lost 10lb, but I have in the last two months put some of that back on.  I have spent most of the first 50 years battling with my weight so I guess for continuity purposes I should settle for spending the next 50 years doing the same!!! I have not given up though and intend to keep on fighting for a leaner, fitter me 😊

Visit the Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan – Chris put his foot down for this one and said absolutely not…so I had to think outside the box.  Therefore I am going in September (first one available) on an organised coach trip (which I am hoping will be full of lovely like-minded people who can teach me lots of gardening tips) – wish me luck 🍀

Record my mums favourite memories –unfortunately most of my visits this year have been predominantly taken up with doctors appointments or sorting medicine and the right time to start this has just not been there.  However I will do this…only the other day she was telling me about a doodle bug that landed on the kitchen table, and then about how they put their brother down the well in the bucket and the handle broke, how her Dad used to squeeze fresh cows milk directly into their mouths and that at dinner time with her grandparents the children had to sit in silence whilst her grandparents had a short post-meal sleep (obviously impossible)…..Gems like this can’t be lost so I will have to MAKE time this Autumn.

Finish my birthday garden bed – a good initial start but rain stopped play, especially as we are clay here in Woodchurch.  Followed by the dry spell which baked it means I have not had the right time to plant and so I have deferred it to either Autumn or Spring depending on the weather.  I would add that my garden has never looked worse so I either need to stop having so much fun (likely…as I can’t handle the pace) or get a smaller garden.

Start a sport again – this has been surprisingly hard.  I just can’t decide what to do.  My knee limits my options, and we do walk quite a lot; however I miss the competitive nature and comradary of sport.  So next week, once I have turned the magic 50 I am off to Tenterden Leisure Centre to take part in their 50+ sessions where they offer a variety of sports and I am hoping one will grab me.  If not, I will have no option but to try and get weeding acknowledged as a sport (and potential future Olympic event) as I have plenty of that to keep me busy!!

So, not too long a list…I hope you are not disappointed in my efforts!!

Revisit every road and house I have lived in – Challenge No 32

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So only four days to go and here is my final push!!

I realised a while ago I was putting off one of my challenges ( that should have been relatively easy to achieve ) and that challenge was this one! I always knew that in doing this I would dredge up a cornucopia of emotions but in the spirit of many of my other challenges I also wanted to do this so I could celebrate/put to rest what came up. The act of blogging itself is very cathartic as it makes you think and then articulate what you are experiencing… Thus giving them form and a whole new dimension; I think I now understand why people keep diaries.  Bearing that all in mind, come and join me in an indulgent trip down my memory lane….

Leicester Road, Shepway, Maidstone (birth-11).  I was born in the room at the front, top right ( in the photo) on August 15th 1966.  I absolutely loved living here and my happiest childhood memories all come from here.  We Celebrated the Queens Silver Jubilee with a street party, the neighbours were lovely, hoards of children with obscure nicknames played for hours in the road or over the field behind us, we went en masse to discos in the sausage hut on Shepway Green and I spent my pocket money on mix-ups ( this one cost 50p…scandalous).  Our garden was ALL vegetables at the front with a formal rose garden at the side and filled with dahlias and chrysanthemums in the summer, we had pets galore (whippet, rabbits, polecats and ferrets). When I visited here, I won’t lie..I cried with joy and felt blessed at what an amazing childhood I had…..associated song = Bye Bye Baby…the amazing Bay City Rollers

Sycamore Crescent, Allington, Maidstone (11-15) Conversely this was the unhappiest house I ever lived in.  Whilst the house itself was lovely, full of original features and the garden was double the size it is now, due to another house being squeezed in, our home life mirrored my teenage years….full of angst, awkward and emotionally volatile. Allington was snobby and boring and I remember feeling just so terribly lonely.  I cried for a different reason when I revisited here.  Associated song = Israelites….Desmond Dekker

Cranborne Avenue, Maidstone (15-21) This was a beautiful house and I was devasted that when Mum moved out the new owners instantly ripped out the windows and original features which in my view ruined the house.  I loved life here as I joined the YMCA ( where I spent a ridiculous amount of time and luckily for me met Chris), became a local at The Mottley Hall pub, enjoyed being with Mum and Dad who had retired and partied 1980’s style, which included my rather messy 18th birthday and mum very kindly redecorating my bedroom as a result 😝..associated song = Careless Whispers…Wham

Hartnup Street, Maidstone (21-25) HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY.  Mine and Chris’ first home ❤️.  The first night we slept here together was our wedding night…..how old fashioned is that?? But it was so special. The house had dreadful decor but we just did not care…great parties ensued, we had lovely neighbours, Matt was born and at last my own garden to dabble in….It was wonderful to come back as it still looked fairly similar….although they have ruined the road by putting ugly and innapropriate apartments in.  Also happy to find The Fox pub still there and open…(I needed some sustenance by this stage)…. Associated song = Simply the Best…Tina Turner

Greenside, Maidstone (25-30) Probably the best family home you could wish for.  The garden was amazing, it had a pond ( we turned into a sandpit and back again), trees to climb on, room for a large climbing frame….how we loved and used that garden.  Kate was born whilst we were her and the house was full of love, laughter and joy.  It was also so close to Mote Park and the Mote Squash Club we we were fortunate to have more good neighbours. We even considered buying it back a few years ago ( hoping they had decorated as we certainly did not!!) The saddest day was the day we left.  Associated song = Rosie and Jim TV theme music LOL!!

St Luke’s Avenue, Maidstone (30-44) I have such mixed feeling about this house as whilst it was a great family home and we made amazing friends; it was also however a problem house structurally and together with the years of concern over the dodgy neighbour and the children’s personal safety….in the end I was over ready to leave.   On balance though it suited our needs at the time and I was so pleased to find that the new owners had kept all the trees…it was like a wildlife oasis in the middle of the county town of Kent. So many milestones took place there; it was Quella’s home (and a menagerie of other pets too), we celebrated the turn of the century, my graduation, both Matt and Kate’s 18th birthdays, summer parties, the beginnings of the gatherings of the Davis clan, toasted marshmallows on the fire and awoke elated on numerous Christmas mornings, boyfriends and girlfriends a house always full…to name a few.  Plus it had a garden I simply adored.  These are the memories I now choose to focus on. Associated song = Spice up Your Life……Spice Girls

Bethersden Road, Woodchurch (44-present) We so love living in Woodchurch and being more rural ( but I will always have an affinity with Maidstone, My birthplace). This is such a happy and sociable home.  We particularly love it that when Iyla comes to stay she tells us it is her home too…no grandparents could wish for more.  We hope that Lara and future grandchildren feel the same too, and can’t wait to fill our stay here with as many joyful memories as is possible with all our friends and family….AND ‘maybe’ plant more trees (if Chris will let me…..he says a friend told him planting trees is an optimists game….so I keep on planting 😄) associated song = Dakota….Stereophonics

Well done if you have lasted this long as I think this might be my longest blog….it certainly was a tiring and emotionally draining challenge for me.  Yet I feel I have put things in order, reflected and can let go of some problems that were niggling me and rejoice in the knowledge that the journey I took today reflects the one that got me to where I am and who I am now.  

I realised these keys things….that the outdoor space has been by far the more important and memorable part of every house I have lived in and …… it’s not the size or condition of a house that matters but the home and memories you make within it…..profound huh?

Stand on Hasting Pier with the one I love – Challenge no 18

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It seems very appropriate that today,  on Mine and Chris’ 28th wedding anniversary  I should blog about Hastings Pier, as this is where he proposed to me.

I was devastated when it burnt down as the pier is one of those significant places in my life and I could not bring myself to return.  However when I was told by a friend you could buy shares to support rebuilding the pier I purchased some as an anniversary present for Chris and this year it has reopened which I am thrilled about, and I eagerly made it one of my 50@50 challenges.

It is a much different pier, subdued in some ways but much more usable as a venue, and Hastings too has changed, museums, galleries, roads reminiscent to the Lanes in Brighton…it’s brilliant.   It was lovely to be back on the pier again and we will certainly be back again soon.  And I was especially happy this time, as I stood there with the man I love ❤️.  Sorry this can’t be longer……but I have a hot date tonight 😉

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Use my fishing rod – Challenge No 19

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When Chris and I moved to a rural village in the Weald of Kent almost 5 years ago I expressed to Chris an interest in taking up fishing and before I knew it a rod and equipment appeared as a present which was very thoughtful.  However, at that point I had thought living in the country would be quiet, idyllic and there would be plenty of days to fill…..how wrong could I have been.  Country living is fabulous….but full to the brim with things to do and so I have, as yet, not quite got around to starting fishing.  I therefore added it to my 50@50 challenge list to kick start me, and then sought out someone to teach me.

And, rather bravely I think, in stepped Dan, a great friend from the village who kindly gave up his evening to explain to me the rudiments of fishing and how to set up my rod.  And wow what a great teacher; he was patient, funny, encouraging and within five minutes we had our first strike.  Firstly we tried a rig set up with the bait on the bottom ( excuse me if my terminology is not quite right) and we swung rather than cast to get into a close position by some reeds.  On this occasion I landed a 2-3lb carp, we were up and running and we were all stunned at how quick we had caught a fish.

We were fishing at Shirkoak Fisheries which is a fabulous, family friendly establishment and tranquil and beautiful this evening.

http://www.shirkoak.co.uk

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Dan then showed me how to set up my own rod with a float and hook.  We used sweetcorn as bait and once more I was off, side casting as we did not need to be too far out (the lake is well stocked so ideal for beginners) and also because whilst a lovely evening the wind was getting up.  After a few false strikes, I began to realise the difference between a nibble, the wind moving the float and a proper bite!! I then caught a small mirror carp which Dan explained how to let out some line, play the fish, give it time to wear itself out and then reel in.  It was so exciting and when I had landed the fish it was beautiful.  In the water they can look quite dull, but once pulled from the water their scales shine iridescent in the light…quite stunning.  I wanted to be able to take the hooks out properly and I was showed how to do this causing as little damage as possible.

We then moved onto surface fishing where you throw quite a bit of bread onto the surface (once the Ducks had gone) and then secure a largish piece on your hook and place it near the bait on the water.  So many carp came to the surface then it was hard to concentrate on which was your piece of bread as my eyes were darting everyone…..and this is when it happened.  I actually have a fishermans tale about the ‘one that got away’…..the ‘big one’.  I struck and could tell instantly that it was large as the rod bent and I needed two hands to just hold it.  I let out some line and it swam close, left, stayed still then thrashed to the right, I began to bring it in but I think amateurishly too soon as…….snap…..it was gone.  My arms were aching and the adrenalin was genuinely flowing.  It was certainly this big!!!….please visualise my arms stretched out to their extremity 😉🎣🐟 and whilst disappointed it was gone, I had enjoyed the battle ; 1-0 to the ‘beast of Shirkoak’.

We carried on, enjoying some food, good conversation and a drink or two and I managed to land 9 fish in total in 3 hours. Thanks go to Chris our official photographer, bag carrier and occasional landing net attendant.  Near the end of the evening Dan and I even managed to have a catch on each rod simultaneously which truly was the icing on an already delicious, if somewhat fishy,  cake.

Thanks Dan for passing on your obvious love of fishing, your enthusiasm and knowledge.  I love that you know so much about the fish, what is best for them, how to handle them and a general respect for nature ( ensuring we don’t litter etc) all of which I really respect.  Please excuse the pun……but I am hooked….and already I now have a fishing date with my son lined up so no excuse to stop now.  Especially as It would seem I have been interested for quite some years ( My brother Paul, my sister Nicky and me….worrying that this is black and white!!!!)

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Make a lemon meringue pie from scratch – Challenge number 16

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It may seem a strange start to this 50@50 challenge but I would like you to meet my mum, Freda May Davis, nee Noakes ( please see photos below).  I absolutely can’t express just how much I owe to this tremendous lady.  She is so talented at cooking (her cream horns are legendary), sewing, wall papering, making children smile, gardening…I could endlessly go on.   And she has passed on much of this to me….or at least….some of it….as she also spoilt me rotten growing up.  Her attitude then was ( and mine too) “you are a long time an adult so go have a care free, fun-filled life whilst you can”.  So I did 😄.

The only problem with this was that when I started going out seriously with Chris and I wanted to impress him I realised I would have to show him I could cook (and I hadnt a clue). So I invited him around for an anniversary meal of goodness knows what for starter, followed by roast chicken and lemon meringue pie for dessert (which I knew he loved)…. How hard could that be?? 😱.  As it turned out…not that hard at all when you have a Mary Berry equivalent as your sous chef .  Everything went swimmingly, my man was suitably impressed (as he had already suspected anyone who was as good a cook as my mum was bound to have an equally good cook as a daughter…oops) and before I knew it there was a ring on my finger and wedding bells faintly tinkling in our future.  So…a happy ever after story ❤️…..

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NOT!!!  It was only after we were married that Chris discovered the real truth of my cooking ability….ZERO.  I rang my mum every night for a month asking how long to boil eggs, how do you boil potatoes, what is the best way to roast a chicken, how do you make mince go brown, what is the difference between sun flower oil and vegetable oil…..you name it, I asked it and it didn’t end there.  I had no idea how to clean, could not change a light bulb, didn’t know how to use an iron, had never touched a lawn mower…..was bemused by the large white thing in the kitchen you were supposed to put clothes in to wash…really??….and the list went on and on….Chris patiently had to teach me how to do the lot…..poor man!!

So, this challenge is basically to say sorry to Chris.  Only now after almost 32 years of being a couple do I finally feel ready to attempt to make lemon meringue pie for him once again, but this time unassisted. I used this recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3482/ultimate-lemon-meringue-pie

And my goodness what a faff!!  Making and rolling pastry out…easy ( even without a fancy food processor)……transferring it to the dish….impossible, unless it is meant to be in 1000 pieces. On the third time I had devised a cunning plan which meant it almost made it!!  I will let you look at the photos to see how I progressed…but I am pleased to say I did manage to get ‘something’ into the oven.

So Chris’ comments were…’it’s the lemonyest meringue I have had since the last one you made me….quite a zing.  Great pastry”

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In reality I am a passable cook and quite a good cake baker, but I don’t think I will be applying any time soon to the Great British Bake Off, and nor will I be making another lemon meringue pie again…….sorry!!!!  I am sure there is a moral to this story; I am just too busy ringing my mum to ask her to come and do the dishes and eating pie to work it out at this moment 😄

Complete a bike ride – Challenge No 2

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Two weeks today and my 50th birthday will be upon me!!  Spurred on by this I am attempting to complete as many of my challenges as I possibly can.  So today, as the weather was perfect for it, Chris dusted off the old girl ( not me), gave her a once over ( again, absolutely not me 😉) and declared her fit for an outing…my trusty bicycle!!

I know how you all like an anecdote…so here is a treat of a one.  I have very little cycling experience, but keen on all sport as a child and wanting to be like the rest of the ‘in crowd’ I begged my mum and dad for a chopper ( the must have of bikes in the 70s) when I had well and truly outgrown my old bike.  Those bikes were so beautiful, and I knew how cool I would look in my Starsky and Hutch trouser suit and bomber jacket riding one of them…any colour would do.  Well Dad said getting me a bike was not a problem and I can remember as clear as anything the anticipation as he came into our back yard pushing….wait for it…..an old, rusty, police mans bike.  He promptly gathered some things and took me over the local field, tied a rabbit skin the the back of the bike and shouted go!!!  He then let go of Prince ( my beloved pet whippet) who chased after me/the rabbit trail.   Unsurprisingly (and disappointingly for my Dad) it did not take long for Prince to catch me, nor did it take long for me to fall off ( I was 10…. Short …and a girl on a mans bike…..OUCH, OUCH AND A BIT MORE OUCH)….I am not saying this incident scarred me but I don’t recall ever having a bike again until my 40th birthday LOL, when Chris thought I needed to get back into the saddle.

In the intervening 10 years I think I have used that bike maybe 5 times.  But now I intend to use it much more.  My new optimism is based on the fact I have come to the decision that I only intend to cycle on flat surfaces….which I actually really enjoy, AND not on the road as it  scares me silly.

Hence my addition of this Challenge to give me the impetus needed to start again and our trip to Hastings today where you can cycle to Bexhill along National Cycle Route 2 without having to venture on to the roads once.  There and back took us 1 hour, it was just over 9 miles, beautiful scenery and apparently we burned off 644 calories (unfortunately chips and an ice cream might have nullified any potential loss on the slimming world scales tonight 😱)  It would be perfect for beginners and I really loved it (apart from the slight climb into Bexhill); especially enjoyable was the free-wheeling downhill and squealing part.  

An added and unexpected bonus was that it is Hastings Old Town Carnival week this week.

http://oldtowncarnivalweek.co.uk

Thanks Chris for looking after me and my bicycle.  Will I go again before I am 60…..YES….as soon as we find some more flat, off road routes.

SO, if you know of any beginners’ routes that might be suitable please comment and let me know.

PS…I feel it would be wrong not to mention that I could barely get in and out of the car on our return home…..and after typing this I can now just about uncurl my old bones into a standing position….but do I still want to do it again???…….longer pause than before……Yes.

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