Monday, 15 September 2014

28. Sleep in a castle

After the trauma of sleeping in a tent for two nights and climbing Ben Nevis my reward was to sleep in a castle, a much deserved belated birthday treat. The castle of choice was Tulloch Castle just outside a town called Dingwell in the Highlands. 

The view from the road.
Before becoming a hotel and conference centre the castle believed to date from the mid 16th century served as a (not too shabby) family home for members of the Bain family and Clan Davidson, as a hospital after the evacuation of Dunkirk, and as a hostel for the local education authority.

Can you spot me on our rooms balcony?

Putting my stamp on the castle
I would say the three main features for a castle are a turret, a dungeon and a moat. Now this castle didn't have a moat but it was placed on top of a massive hill as a strategic defence and you can see the turret in the above picture and after a wee bit of exploring we found the dungeon!

My favourite part about the castle was that the d├ęcor inside was in keeping with its heritage, very medieval esq, a lot of wood and rich colours and quite frankly somewhere that could be used as a set for Game of Thrones.

Could see this in King's Landing.

Me trying to fit in the surroundings.

I would not be cold here in the winter with that bad ass fire!

A dining area reserved for private functions.

A door in to the grounds.

Sooo much better than a tent!

And this is my ABSOLUTE favourite thing in the castle, who thought to put a crown on a deer trophy head pure genius!

Bambi rocking the bling


Thursday, 4 September 2014

23. Go on a camping holiday

I hate camping and the reasons are three fold;
1.       It’s cold, even in Kenya!
2.       It’s damp, probably even in the Kalahari
3.       Your sleeping is dictated by the sun

Why would anyone want to call this their home for the evening?

You could be camping anywhere is the world and in any kind of tent and the above would still apply.

I was lucky enough as a child to not be subjected to camping holidays (caravans all the way for the Wilson gang) and in my adult life I have tried to avoid it as much as possible apart from a few select occasions which include;
-          My Duke of Edinburgh bronze award
-          Archaeology fieldwork in Scotland and France
-          Our trip to Kenya
-          And going away with the scouts

On all occasions my three reasons to hate camping applied unless there was pre bedtime drinking involved. However I decided to give it another go on our ‘holiday’ to Fort William to climb Ben Nevis (in this instance I’m classing any leisurely trip away from home as a holiday). In hindsight I should have put climb a mountain on my list because it is something I have never done but would give me a sense of achievement. But this is what I LOVE about life it throws up all sorts of opportunities that you just need to grab with both hands. 

How bad ass in Ben!

This is where my blog entry will completely deviate from the camping because I have decided that I hate it and never want to subject my body to it ever again and concentrate on the positive that I CLIMBED THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE UK! And I did it with zero preparation and on 4 hours sleep – a result of camping, and a slight injury to the lateral ligament in my right knee.

Here's my story in pictures of my journey up the mountain (unfortunately I did not mange to get a picture of the miniature dachshund that made it up or the Chav attempting it in a leopard print onesie and UGG boots).

Can you see the fear in my eyes at the prospect of going to sleep in a tent!

Everyone is all smiles before we set off.

Stunning views!

Banana breakdown point

Keep smiling!
Really stunning views

Everyone appreciated a wee nip at the top!
She made it and is still smiling!

We had to scramble through snow to get there
I think it was here I realised what I had achieved
Post mountain pint!

Massive thanks to Sandra Bayly for organising the trip and Chris Wharton, Ciaran Mallon, Lucy Mo, Vicky and Nick Jary for getting me up there (Vicky you were on that mountain in spirit!)

7. 5 hours to climb 1,344 metres. I said afterwards I would never climb a mountain again...bring on Snowdon next year! I can say that now my legs and lungs have recovered :)


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

26. Have a spray tan

On a summers Sunday evening online shopping session I impulsively bought a voucher for a spray tan with the intention to use it for this years’ Ladies Day in Newcastle on 26 July 2014. I thought Ladies Day was the perfect opportunity to have it for as I would be among Newcastle’s finest dressed (and many questionably dressed) so I wanted to look my best and not reflect the (hopefully) shining sun off my pasty white skin. 

 The spray took place in one of Gosforth’s newest hair and beauty salons, Luma’s.

Luma's on Gosforth High Street

I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for, though Vicky the museum’s Comms officer had told me a few months previous about her experience of standing there in her pants while the spray tan lady person instructed her into different positions to get an even coverage. I did get myself prepared beforehand after reading online to make sure you exfoliate properly, shower at least 6 hours before and don’t moisturise or wear make up/deodorant before the spray.

If you’ve never had a spray tan before then you stand in a small open booth in just your pants and the spray tan lady runs moisturiser into you dry bits (knees, elbows and places you attract eczema) before she turns of the machine which sounds like a jet engine taking off and blasts cold tan at you in what I presume is a methodical pattern. It didn’t take very long and she did ask me to do strange positions with my hands but nothing too out there. After you’ve been sprayed then you’re left standing there to dry for a few minutes before you can get dressed. At this point I was left along so I took a few snaps while I was waiting…

This is the booth you stand in.

The tools of the trade

Now this is where the hilarity starts, what I wasn’t planning for is that I would be advised not to wear my bra because I would get tan lines so I had to walk up Salters Road (which is a looong road) braless, not an enviable experience! I could have got the bus home but I felt too self conscious being on a bus without a bra on but I also didn’t realise that I would come out a darker colour than the final tan would be because you have to wait 8 hours to shower to then take off the top layer so I did feel like I looked like someone who had a very bad home tanning experience. But I got home locked myself away and waited until the morning when I could see the final results.

Me with the spray gun

That's a lot of tan coming off!

What I was most worried about was looking like I had done it myself and it looked like a crap tan but I was very happy with the results. The only patchy areas were where my eczema was so if I got another one it would depend on how my skin was behaving at the time. As you can see from the Ladies Day snaps it looks really good and would recommend anyone wanting a spray tan to try out Luma’s in Gosforth.

Ladies day 2014


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

29. Sing in public

In my adult life I have done karaoke once before but I have no recollection of it and apart from singing in church I generally don’t do it hence why it’s on my list and knowing that I don’t have the sweet vocal chords like an angel this is a big deal for me.

If they say a picture speaks a 1000 words then how many does a video clip say? This is going to be a short post because I have two video clips of me “singing” my heart out for you to treat yourself too.

The first is from a netball social (4 July 2014) and this is the netball team GALS I play with. I think my experience of going Back to Netball 2 years ago has been made all the more special to me not just for my love of the sport but because of these ladies and the friendships that have been built along the way, I hope we have a good many more years playing and socialising together. This karaoke really was public because even though we were in a separate room in Poons Chinese restaurant I am fairly convinced that the walls weren’t soundproof and when we went in there the restaurant was full…when we came out it was empty, coincidence?

Obviously it HAD to be Britney

This clip is from my good friends Lucy and Mark Fenwick’s 30th birthday (12 July 2014). It was an evening filled with great food, drinks, ping pong, the not so great bowling and karaoke – my second helping in under two weeks!

I’m sure we’re all in agreement that I will not be appearing on X Factor any time soon but I should get points for trying. I did enjoy my helpings of karaoke and maybe from now on I’ll be quicker to the microphone if the opportunity presents itself again