Friday 31 December 2021

2021 Roundup

 When I first started thinking about writing this post, I honestly couldn't think that I'd done enough to wrote a post about. The start of the year we were pretty much on lockdown as we were in Tier 3 and apart from work (education) and college for O we didn't get out much. As a family, we all got covid in July 2021 and the latter half of the year has very much been dogged by hospitalisation, medical tests, long covid, fatigue - sooooooo much tiredness and trying to get enough fitness back to have some kind of life. Although me and the man are not back to 100% we are much better than we've been at any point since July (touch wood!!) However, we are on the mend and I feel like we finally almost have our life back so here's a goodbye to 2021......

January 2021

A good early January swim in the freezing cold always makes for a good start to the year!

Followed by a lovely amount of snow that actually meant we got snowed in and couldn't leave the village for 2 days. Love it when I don't have to go out in it!

February 2021

A fairly quiet month as we were back in lockdown apart from the odd day at work so only pictures are Valentine flowers and cold dipping in the garden as every lake was shut (sobs!)

March 2021

The lake re-opens for more cold swimming, hurrah!

My favourite time of year has to be Spring. It's just the right temperature, the light is starting to return and life is starting to bloom again. My home town looks glorious: 

April 2021

Very changeable weather in April. When we left for a walk for the above photo it was sunny and when we got to the top of Beacon Hill, snow!! Kids were thrilled.....

And cut to 3 weeks later and one of my favourite breaks of the year in Looe. Outdoor pool pretty much to ourselves and able to swim every day. One day........

May 2021

In May we were lucky enough to head back to Dorset and the Church of St Nicholas and the etched windows. Another gloriously roasting hot day and a beautiful church where Lawrence of Arabia is buried:

A change of scenery but my girl is motorsport mad so a trip to Silverstone and a visit to the museum:


June 2021

June started off with sunburn and then a mad period of illness prior to covid but didn't miss my birthday visit to Chatsworth with JoJo!

Or a camping visit with my Niece and Nephew to East Wittering. The weather was glorious again and it was like being abroad. Love going on holiday with this gang as they all have wetsuits too so don't think we're mad for spending most of the time in the sea:

July 2021

As I mentioned at the start, this was the month that we got really ill nd whilst it may at some point be cathartic to blog about it, I still have PTSD and I'm not quite there with finding the words to describe it yet. What I can say though is as always it shows you truly who the people are that are there for you and check in with you. My family and friends are truly the best, from daily messages, food parcel drops, phone calls, medicine drops and keeping me sane, they are truly amazing. My work place have also been fantastic for the last 6 months and so patient that I cannot even begin to imagine what it might have been like if I had worries about my job on top of everything else. Suffice to say the only picture I took in July was a care package that my glorious team sent to us:

August 2021

Had a very slow start due to a continuation of the above but we did make it right at the end of the month to the Moto GP and Silverstone. It was hard going and I was very slow moving but I did it. My highlight of the day was watching the amazing Monster stunt team:

We also managed a night away at the Coast in Margate but could only manage sitting on the beach for half an hour and couldn't explore due to fatigue so a return visit needed!

September 2021

For one week in September I actually fell well and luckily enough it fell when we went on our dream Disney cruise. We had the best time ever.....

I've written a blog post already about how amazing the food was which you can find here

The only word I have to describe the whole experience is magical and again I've blogged about it previously. If you missed it click here!

October 2021

I'm very lucky to have the most amazing husband who had booked a trip for us to Cornwall to see the Rocky Horror show in a cave and also drove us to Bude so I could check out the sea pool. Amazing place and wish I lived much closer!

Which tipped nicely into Halloween and the start of Autumn proper. Still have the Disney theme going strong with the ears!

November 2021

I have no idea how November came around so quickly but an amazing night out with the gorgeous Gin Obsessions to watch Six the Musical and drink mucho cocktails!

Followed by a fantastic trip to London for Chick's birthday to see Matilda the Musical.

December 2021

December arrived even more quickly and with it a fantastic night out at the Lap of Lights at Silverstone. I've posted several things about it on my Instagram if you want more information but it was a lot of fun and the highlight was the axe throwing and curling!

My Christmas present from JoJo was for the Christmas Trail at Whatton House which was a brilliant experience and told the story of Scrooge through live theater and a light show. Absolutely loved it but wish it would have lasted much longer!

The cherry on top of this completely bats**t crazy year, is the culmination of 3 years work and the completion of an MSc in Strategic Leadership as well as Chartered Manager status. I know it's very far removed from my blogging life but helpful in the day job and I have NO IDEA how the hell I completed it with how ill I've been this year!!! So yay for me!!

With that and Christmas done and dusted I'm saying a big fat, healthy hello to 2022! Do you have any goals or plans for 2022?

Monday 22 November 2021

Disney Magic at Sea - Dining Experiences

this seems likes so long ago but the food was soooooo good that I felt like it deserved a post of its own! As this was my first cruise, I'm not sure whether rotational dining is normal on a cruise ship but I felt like they did it really well on the Disney Magic and it was nice to have the same waiting staff but different scenery and shows each night. The service aboard is second to none and nowhere more so than at mealtimes!

Animators Palate - Evening Meal

Ironically enough, I wasn't bothered about the Animators evening but it was one of the best experiences of the whole cruise for us. Lovely, lovely art work on the way in:

And on the walls which starts in black and white and changes to colour:

When you are first seated you are asked to draw a person (no mocking - I'm not an artist):

Then the lovely food starts arriving. For my starter I had "Sliced Serrano Ham with Manchengo Cheese and Olive Tampanade:

Absolutely bloody gorgeous (apart from the olive, yuck!!). For my main I chose Ginger Terayki-dusted Angus Beef Tenderloin served on Wasabi Mashed Potatoes with Bok Choy and a Tamarind Barbeque reduction. It was literally michelin starred fare but so good I was a truly terrible blogger and ate it without taking a picture! For dessert, Walnut Sticky Toffee pudding with Ice Cream:

O had a lovely ice cream sundae:

The absolute best part about this though is when your animation comes up on screen and not only that but you get listed as a guest animator:

Rapunzel's Royal Table - Evening Meal

Tangled is mine and O's favourite Disney films so we were really looking forward to this night unfortunately O was super sea sick and didn't manage to eat much. The waiting staff were so lovely though and really looked after us both especially O. One of them suggested that she eat a green apple in orange juice and within 15 minutes she started to feel better!! 

The restaurant is gorgeous and right down at sea level too:

My starter again compared to michelin starred food that I've eaten before and I chose a Ravioli "Tiroler" filled with Pulled Beef and Portabello Mushrooms tossed in a white wine reduction served with Roasted Carrots and Pearl Onions, absolutely delicious:

The main that I chose was "Captain of the Guards" Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with a Double-baked Potato, Broccoli, Sweet Roasted Carrots and a red wine veal sauce. It's literally the biggest piece of meat I've ever been served in a restaurant but again I was so eager to tuck in that I forgot to take a picture! For dessert I ordered the Birthday Cupcake Sundae which was given to O as she was starting to feel better and I didn't fancy the sound of any of them so the lovely waiting staff let me order dessert from the kids menu and I had a chocolate fudge cake:

We were sitting at table 1 and from here it was quite difficult to see and hear what was happening on the stage when the entertainment was happening but the way they did the lanterns was spectacular even if you can't see if from my pictures:

Outside of the formal dining, there were several drinks stations serving soft drinks, tea, coffee and hot chocolate that were all included in the price. There was also a great choice of lunch buffet, pizza, burgers, sandwich bar, snack bar that you could get food almost all day at each outlet. I think we managed to try most things:

Lumiere's - Breakfast

Soooooo disappointing but I think the reasons are twofold: 1) because we got the breakfast rotation for Lumiere's so no fancy food and 2) It was the one I was looking forward too but as it was breakfast there was no entertainment. Choice of items on the menu was amazing though and fab American pancakes with syrup were my choice. We also had to eat at 7am as we were disembarking so I didn't take any pictures of the food, just our sad faces as we got off the ship:

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about the food choices!?!

Sunday 17 October 2021

Disney Magic at Sea - UK Staycation Cruise

I started writing this when we had just got back from the most magical trip with Disney at Sea as part of Chick's 18th birthday celebrations (seems to have taken me ages to finish!!). It was the most amazing time that I even feel compelled to blog for the first time in a couple of years, hurrah! I cannot even begin to describe the magic of the trip but I'll give it a try. Such a fab ship for a start (if somewhat hidden behind our ears!!)

Obviously one of the most important parts of the trip is the ears.....

Picture taken whilst we were waiting the results of our covid tests!! With these particular pairs, mine were oldies from a previous Disneyland Paris trip and O's were a new purchase from Etsy as Sully is her favourite: 

The first of the magic and fairy dust appears with the announcing of each family as you board the ship and are then greeted by Mickey and Minnie which is just the cutest thing!! Next up was a talk about how the app works - you need to use this to do or find out anything on ship - and then food! I'll do a post just about the food and restaurants because it was all just so incredible not only the food but the entire dining experiences but yum, buffet:

 Then after an explore and a few selfies, the next thing for us (was obviously!) something water based:

Luckily the weather was fantastic and the water super warm, if not too warm for an open water swimmer:

Lots of gorgeous water based activities for kids but also an adult only area for over 18's:

We actually spent quite a lot of time in this area as kids aren't even allowed to walk through and it was nice to have 5 minutes away from Disney mayhem and to be able to swim in a non-kiddy contaminated pool. Alcoholic drinks were not included but were reasonably priced although O still wasn't able to drink as it was over 21's only for alcohol! I still managed to enjoy a cocktail or 5 ;)  

I'm all about the sea so the view for me was incredible. You would never guess we were just in the North Sea:

Our room was the cheapest available (even though still expensive in my opinion!) but was again super cute. It was a good size space for the two of us but with three teenage kids, I'm not sure how we would've had enough room for all of us to move around comfortably:

Disney detail everywhere which I absolutely love:

One of the things that I had no clue about prior to embarkation was that some families decorate their entire cabin door with magnets and photos. Luckily the very nice children's activities team came to our rescue and enabled us to join in:

Also, as you would expect a wide range of characters around the ship:

Our favourite and funniest meet 'n' greet was Spiderman:

This picture makes me howl with laughter every time I look at it.

And last but not least, Broadway standard shows which made us cry with joy:

Literally the most magical time ever!

So, what didn't we like? Well, there wasn't much I didn't like but there were a few things that surprised me. One was that the kids pool area was tiny and packed all of the time to the point that there was a time limit of how long children could be in there. My boys certainly wouldn't have enjoyed it. The buffet was open for breakfast and for a couple of hours at lunch but it would have been nice to have a buffet option in the evening rather than mainly fast food as an alternative to fine dining. I also felt that we were rushed off the ship very early on the final day so they turn around for the next group.

Outside of that the only things I would do differently would be to go for at least three nights and add in the photo package. I didn't book that prior to the cruise because a) the packages were stupidly expensive and b) I didn't think we would like any of the photos. Once onboard we took pictures of the ones we liked and then assumed we could order them afterwards but this doesn't appear to be the case. I'm super sad that I missed out on these but still think they are prohibitively expensive....... but I would order them next time as it would've finished off the trip nicely to have the professional shots.

In my opinion, the cruise was really expensive - when I first started this blog, there is no way I could have funded this kind of trip so I know that I am now in a very privileged position. I paid approximately £700 for the two of us for two nights which only included 1 afternoon and 1 full day and on debarkation day we were back at the car by 8am. For me the standard of the shows, food and the incredible levels of service were reflected in that price that I paid and matched Michelin starred restaurants and for a special occasion it was worthwhile. It's unlikely that we would ever be able to afford for all 5 of us to go on a Disney cruise unless they reintroduce UK staycations or we win the lottery. Haha!

If you have any questions then please let me know as I'm happy to talk about it until the cows come home! This is not a sponsored post and as you've probably guessed from the above I paid full price for the trip myself ;)