Friday, 30 July 2010

Homeward bound

After an exceptionally busy week at work I've headed home for the weekend. So what, you ask, isn't that what we all do? But for me, home this weekend isn't my lovely flat but my real home - where I grew up.

Mum and Dad celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary yesterday - well, celebrated might be a loose description since Dad forgot to send a card or buy flowers and Mum cooked him an inedible meal as revenge! But as part of their 'celebration' they've also got me to put up with for the weekend.

I'd not really realised how much this place is still home to me, until I thought about heading here after work tonight. Although I haven't lived here for over 20 years, and have actually lived away from here longer than I've lived here, it does still feel like home when I'm back. The things around and about the house may have changed but the place is still the same.

It was a magical place to grow up - a huge garden with lots of places to hide and trees to climb, set in a homely village you could wander around and explore without worrying about who everyone was and all set by the seaside - beautiful in all seasons. I think that's perhaps why when I needed somewhere to escape to at the start of the summer, my heart told me to find a place by the sea.

It's good to know that even in the toughest times, there's always somewhere that's home. I guess I'm lucky - I know that's not the case for everyone, and I can't imagine not having that bedrock beneath me.

Thanks Mum and Dad xxx

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Still naked

 I blogged the other day about the experiment/challenge I set myself while I was on holiday of getting through an entire week without wearing make up. In it I'd said I deliberately chose to do it when I was away from home and there was no chance that anyone I knew would see me sans camouflage. I survived that week, albeit still feeling fairly self conscious about it all, but I got through and my skin did seem to be the better for it.

It was always going to be unlikely that I would carry it on when I got home and (up until this weekend that is) I didn't. What I did do was carry on with the lighter touch make up that I'd been trying before I went off on holiday - powder, concealer, blusher and mascara rather than the full foundation, primer, eyeshadow, lipstick etc routine I'd been doing before. Two things happened - my skin rebelled to having stuff plastered (however lightly) on it again and broke out big time, and I realised that even what I described as my 'light touch' make up was actually quite a lot. I also realised that I quite liked the look of my skin without the slap on and that I didn't really need it to make me feel confident.

As a side note here, the make up thing is a bit bizarre for me - whilst I worry about what I look before I leave the flat in the morning, and spend a while making sure my hair and make up are just so, once I get to work I pretty much forget about it. I've certainly never been the type to 'touch up' my make up during the day. For one thing, I already carry far too much stuff in my handbag as it is and there isn't really room for make up. For another, to be honest, I can't be bothered. Just one more of my contradictions I guess!

So, having decided I liked the lighter more natural look I decided it was time to take my skin in hand. Last weekend I made the effort to find a beauty salon near me that could offer more than just cosmetic treatments and this weekend I went in for my first treatment. I'd bought some of their products the previous weekend and had been using them religiously all week. I did feel my skin was getting better and I was both excited and nervous about going in for my treatment. I'll admit I was a bit disappointed when the therapist agreed that my spots were bad but I was extremely heartened when she said the rest of my skin (apart from the pigmentation around my eyes apparently!) is in really great condition. For the next hour and a quarter I submitted myself to her tender (and sometimes not so tender) mercies and emerged at 10.30 am (Yes, dear reader it was an early start for a weekend!) feeling glowing, relaxed and clean.

But the challenge was - no make up for the rest of the day. Nothing, nada, zip! In my hometown. Where people I know might see me. And, do you know what? They did - I meet up with and spent time with 2 friends - and I didn't mind. I'm not going to lie, it was a little uncomfortable but nowhere near as bad as I had imagined. So good did I feel about it that I ventured out again today with no make up apart from a tiny bit of mascara (and that doesn't count since it's not covering anything up!) and I didn't even give it a second thought.

I'm not sure I'm quite sure enough yet to do work tomorrow without at least some make up - but who knows! Meantime, I'm booked back in for 3 weeks time (another eye-splittingly early - for me - Saturday appointment) and I'll definitely keep using the products. I'm not naive enough to think that they're necessarily any better than stuff half the price, but I know that having invested in them, I will use them and I suspect the routine of using good products regularly in a sensible and consistent way (not flitting from one approach and one set of products to another) will be good for me, and more importantly for my skin.

And the picture? Well obviously it's me (with big sis) -not quite the last time I didn't worry about my skin, but a cute photo all the same!

And just one more aside before I finish - for my earlier post I used a photo mosiac I'd created on Flickr and titled Naked Week - showing as it did my 'naked' week without make up. I have been highly amused since posting it just how many hits that particular photo continues to get on my Flickr photostream. My sister reliably informs me that if I tag it feet, toes, naked and wellies (really!), the hit rate will increase. Hmm, now I'm worried!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Forging ahead

In my dreams, this is what I look like when I run. In truth, it's actually a bit more like this - or at least that's what I look like afterwards. Maybe 2 hours afterwards when my colour has come back to somewhere near normal and I look less like a cross between a lobster and a beetroot - with the colour turned up!

But anyway, even if I don't look this good, I am decidedly making progress. When I started running earlier this year I was struggling to do 2 miles, and struggling to get the motivation to run at all. Today I went out for 4th run of the week and hit the 4 mile mark for the first time. In a not too shoddy 41 minutes too. I freely admit I was absolutely shattered at the end of it and the best I could do when I got in the flat was lie on the floor for a good 5 minutes. But I did it and I'm really pleased with myself for that.

So, why the running? To start with it was because my gym closed and I couldn't get myself organised enough to join a new one. I had been a member of a great gym - really handy to work and home, women only and never too busy. I think it was probably that last part that should have been a warning! Unfortunately they had to close and I was left without a gym. When I'd chosen my last one a good friend had given me some very sensible advice - the most important factor to consider when joining a gym isn't what equipment it has, what the showers are like or anything like that; it's whether you actually go to the place in the first place. Is it convenient or do you have to make an extra effort to get there? And if you do, you're unlikely to go!

So, what could be more convenient than just slipping on a pair of running shoes and heading out of your front door? But what I've also found is that sometimes the discipline of the gym and a set programme is what get's me motivated to exercise - until now that is. I finally seem to have cracked it, and to be honest I don't know what it is/was that did it. But here I am now, running 4 miles, loving it, looking forward to it and getting better at it!

Maybe I will be ready to do the Stirling 10k in September after all!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Learning to fly ... again

I was sitting here this evening, thinking I should really blog, but to be honest, I was more than a bit bereft of inspiration. And then I started to think about what I was up to this weekend - and inspiration fell with a soft thud.

So, what is it? I hear you ask. OK, maybe not but I'm going to tell you anyway.

This weekend I'm off to view a place that's for sale and I might just be interested in buying. Nothing particularly exciting or bloggable in that perhaps, except it's the first place I've actually arranged to go and see since I moved out and into my current rented place just over a year ago. It's not that it's the first place I've seen that I've liked - it's that it's the first place I've seen that I've felt confident enough and ready to go and see. (There was one across the street from the flat but by the time I got round to it, someone else had already put in an offer!) When I moved in here I was of the opinion that this would do me quite nicely for the forseeable future - not forever, but certainly for a good wee while. I couldn't conceive of wanting to own my own place again, or of moving out of what had become my safe haven.

But now I am, and I guess that's the blog point. A year on I really feel like I'm making progress - feeling altogether human again as the advert said. I still get down occasionally (as regular readers will know!) but it's getting less and less. I do feel able to make some decisions in my life, and I'm certainly feeling a lot more in control.

So maybe I am learning to fly again - or at least taking a few exploratory steps and wing flaps. I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Wow, fridge surprise supper

I was pondering what to make for my tea tonight and was going to fall back on my old faithful stand-by dish of pasta with butter and black pepper. I thought before I started I would have a look in the fridge to see what I had - and more importantly what was close to (or more accurately passed!) its use-by date.

And that's when I found the beetroot and the goat's cheese. I remembered seeing a recipe for beetroot risotto in one of my cookery books. So I dug it out, read the recipe and then promptly ignored it and did my own thing regardless! Which is pretty much par for the course with my cooking.

Here are the results - a lovely rich looking, and even more fantastic tasting, beetroot risotto. I'm tucking into it just now and can safely say it was worth the extra little bit of effort. Which truth be told wasn't really that much. It took no longer to cook than it did to finish washing last night's dishes and required very little supervision. The trick with my cooking I find, is that, like my gardening efforts, it works best if it can survive a fair degree of neglect!

And for those wanting to emulate, the ingredients, put togethier in standard risotto fashion, are - arborio rice, cooked beetroot, chicken stock, red wine, crumbled goat's cheese, butter, black pepper and lemon thyme.


Now excuse me - I've got to dash and check the peaches and apricots that are baking in the oven (smothered in Cointreau so not as healthy as they sound) for pudding. Another Maxwell if in doubt faithfuls!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Blue would still be blue

 One of the things about listening to music through headphones is that you (well, I) listen to the lyrics more. This one 'spoke' to me so much when I listened to it the other day on holiday that I played it 3 or 4 times in a row.

Thank you, Guillemots

"I waste so much time, thinking of time
and I should be out there, claiming what's mine
Any day I could die, just like I was born
and this bit in the middle is what I'm here for.
I just want to fill it all with joy.

And if I had you, all the stars wouldn't fall from the sky
And the moon wouldn't start to cry.
There'd be no earthquakes
I'd still make mistakes
But If I had you

There'd still be day and night
And I'd still do wrong and right
Blue would still be blue
But things would just be easier with you"

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Creating space

While I was on holiday and just after I got back I blogged a bit about the thinking I've been doing about 'My Life'. Well, this is the notebook I've been writing it all down in. I bought it ages ago and haven't really used it much until now. Reading the things I'd written way back when was quite hard - most of it was from when I was trying to get pregnant.

Trying and failing that is. It took me right back to how completely devastating that time was. When the one thing I had ever really wanted was the one thing, no matter how hard I tried, that I couldn't do.

I've moved on now and while it is something I still feel incredibly sad about it doesn't cripple me to quite the same extent now. It's still hard sometimes to see a woman with a baby but most of the time it brings a genuine smile to my face, not the forced fake one I used to have to do to get by without screaming, it's not fair.

As things have turned out, it was probably for the best. I don't think my (almost) ex-husband would have coped with being a parent. And I know I wouldn't have coped with him not coping! Still, it does hurt and is the big regret of my life.

But that's not the point of this post. The point was supposed to be about a different form of creativity - my writing, even though it's only for my own consumption. It was also that I really like the motto on the front of the notebook. I liked it when I bought it and I like it even more at the moment while I think about Life and what to do with it!

Seems like a pretty good philosophy to live by if you ask me.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Bare-faced truth

Naked week
Originally uploaded by bexybeads
As readers will remember, I set myself an extra challenge for my recent holiday in Wales. Not only was I to have a great time, relax and enjoy myself. I was also to do all of this whilst wearing no make-up whatsoever!

So what, I hear a number of you shout? Well, for me it was a big deal. I had got to a stage in my life where I was extremely uncomfortable about being seen in public without at least some camouflage. It's not that I'm vain - far from it, actually. (Well, at least I like to think so!) It's more that I was becoming increasingly conscious of the wrinkles, uneven skin tone and general signs of age. I also seem to have developed, rather annoyingly, late onset acne. Ok, not quite that bad - but certainly more spots than I ever had as a teenager!

So, for me, a whole week without make up was quite a challenge. And I'm pleased to say I managed it. Completely cold turkey too - not even a scrap of concealer, a lick of mascara or a smudge of blusher!

Maybe it was chickening out to do it while I was on holiday, in a place where I was pretty sure I wouldn't see anyone I knew - so risk was pretty minimal. But all the same, I was there bare and unpainted for anyone to see.

I'd love to say that I felt completely comfortable and since coming back home I've been confident enough to dispense with the slap for work as well. But I'm not and I wasn't. It was a struggle, I did feel self conscious and there were times I definitely wouldn't have gone out bare-faced if I'd been at home. But I did it - the world didn't end, no-one ran off screaming, or even sniggered or stared for that matter.

As the photo montage shows, I'm not a monster or freak without the war paint. But I still resort to it everyday for work - admittedly much less than when I started the challenge. These days it's just concealer, powder, a touch of blusher and some mascara. Occasionally some lipstick, although that's been absent this week as I can't find the damn stuff!

And on the whole it looks ok. I don't look wash-outed or tired, or at least no more so than I normally would. I actually like the lighter feeling and the fresher skin effect. But, sod's law, of course my skin is currently rebelling and I have a great break-out going on. But true to my new regime, I'm trying to resist caking it in foundation and seeing if I can have the confidence just to be me.

Aren't I brave?! Or maybe I am just vain after all!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Which way now?

In a moment of rather interesting irony, while my big sister's most recent blog post is all about her quest to find meaning outside of the home, mine today is about how I find meaning in a life where job is pretty much most of what I have.

I spent most of last week on my glorious holiday in Wales (to paraphrase the fabulous Private Eye, see Crafty Manoeuvres passim) reflecting on a number of things about my current life. My life circumstances changed fairly dramatically just over a year ago. I went from being someone's other half living in my own home, to a suddenly single 40 something living in (admittedly very nice) rented accommodation (again, see CM passim).

As luck would have it the job I was in was also made redundant and I faced the trauma of having to apply for one of the replacement ones on offer. Fortunately I was successful in that endeavour and since then I've been finding my way through my newly redefined life. As a side story, and perhaps not surprisingly, almost exactly a year ago I ended up in hospital as an emergency admission with severe and as yet still unexplained stomach pains. At the time they thought it might be a ruptured bowel or acute appendicitis, but turns out I was just stressed - or a crazy chick on the mad, as one of my more supportive friends puts it!

But back to today's irony.

I've been following for some time the anguish my sister has been facing as she tries to carve out a role for herself as both a Mum and a person in her own right. She has pretty much bared her soul in her reflections (one of her posts last week was particularly moving) and she has been challenging/thought-provoking/annoying (sorry but sometimes you were!)/insightful/honest throughout. What she probably doesn't realise is that she's also been inspirational. I don't think my big sis realises how much I've looked up to her during my life - and looked to her for advice, guidance and just 'having been there and done it before'-ness.

And it surprised me that this soul-searching turned out to be no different. One of my very good friends, seeing that I wasn't feeling at my best, suggested that I use my holiday week to work out what I really want from life. And so I took a leaf out big sis' book and I did, or at least I tried to. I did a lot of 'writing things down' (much to the bemusement of the staff in the coffee shop I suspect) and lots more thinking about stuff. While I was undertaking my mammoth walks, I used the time to mull things over. I even talked to myself - out loud at times. OK, a lot of the time it was just nonsense - like how good 'potato' sounds when you say it aloud in a funny voice, but sometimes it was sensible too!

And where did all of this get me? I now have a better understanding of what I like in life, what makes me happy (happier) and, perhaps as importantly, what I don't like. I'm not sure I've necessarily reached any conclusions - and certainly not any I'm ready to reveal to the world yet - but I'm a bit clearer about what's bothering me, and also a bit clearer about what my options might be for doing something about it.

I realise that my job and my work are incredibly important to me. They're - right or wrong - a large part of how I define myself and always have been. One of the dilemmas for me at the moment is whether I feel that what I do is worthwhile or has meaning. A knee-jerk reaction would be to look for another job - and that might well be where I end up. But my reflections have also helped me understand the ways in which I might be able to make the job feel more meaningful, and that one of my options is to do just that.

After 42 years of working this one out, I realise that the grass is rarely actually that much greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes what you have is good enough and your challenge is to enjoy it for what it is. Of course, sometimes it's not right (I have never regretted for a single second the decision I made just over a year ago to strike out on my own, for example) and you do have to make a change - I guess true wisdom is to know which is which!

I'll keep you posted as I work this one through - but rest assured, there's no instant decisions as yet. Just more thinking and reflection - and a little bit of researching my options thrown in for good measure!!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Back to basics

To get back to what this blog started as, here's what I'm working on now. Even on holiday!

Happy birthday big sis. Might be a bit late though!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Working hard!

Another tough day to endure here in remarkably sunny Wales!

Actually I have been working hard and this is my very civilised reward as I wait for the bus back to the cottage. Yay for enlightened tourist information centres with alcohol licences.

The reward is for completing another section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path - this time 10 miles (or so!) from Abereiddi to St Davids. More glorious cliffs, spectacular views and peaceful walking. It was busier on this section but not overly so. Wildlife today included seals, more butterflies and a rather vicious horse fly that bit me and drew blood! And I almost forgot the ponies.

More photos will be added to my flickr page when I get home but meanwhile the cava and I have an hour to kill before the bus comes.

As I said, it's a tough life!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A little rain never hurt anyone

After Monday's exertions, I decided to have a bit of a quieter day yesterday. More to the point, after Monday's exertions, I wasn't in any fit state to do anything other than be a bit quieter yesterday!

So it was off in the car to see what this part of Wales has to offer. I made my first visit of the day Melin Tregwynt - a traditional woollen mill that I'd passed on the bus to the start of my walk on Monday. Sadly it's not so traditional these days (focusing on making designer fabrics for the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nicholls) but it was fascinating all the same. They buy in their wool from elsewhere and it now comes ready dyed (no longer is the millstream a different colour everyday), but they still weave on site and I got to see one of the machines in action. More pics here for the over-interested, including pictures of yarn, mmm!

From the mill, I headed off to Nant Y Coy craft centre (and wholefood cafe) where I had a delicious lunch of goats cheese salad, wandered round the craft shop and then had a quick sprint round the nature and sculpture trail - dodging the midges the while and hoping the rain would hold off. Luckily it did until I got back to the cottage, and then the heavens opened.

Today was less generous. I woke up to heavy rain beating against the bedroom window - so there was nothing else for it but to roll over and go back to sleep. And then head off in the car again. This time for a drive round the coast - in the rain, and the low cloud/mist that came with it. Somewhat daft but fun all the same!

I found the most beautiful little village in the middle of my adventure - a place called Solva that looked so pretty even in the rain. And even better it had a lovely coffee shop to while away a rainy hour in. (It also had a woollen mill, this time specialising in carpets and rugs. Unfortunately it was in the middle of renovations, so no coffee shop!) Then it was on to Broad Haven (not sure it was worth the diversion), Haverford West (with its Tesco, yay!) before heading back to St Davids for another coffee stop. After which, miraculously, the rain stopped, the sun came out and the place dried up.

I came back to the cottage by way of Whitesands Bay where the sun was catching the waves and the surfers were out making the most of the choppy conditions. If the weather holds, I'm planning to walk that way tomorrow.

And then back to the cottage to sit in the sun, drink a glass of wine (thank you Tesco) and chill for a while before supper.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I do love to be beside the seaside

And just as well really since I decided to do a section of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail from Strumble Head to Abereiddi - 16 miles of it. No problem, I thought, it will all be flat, it's by the sea after all. How wrong I was!

The starting point was Strumble Head lighthouse

 Actually, the starting point was catching the Strumble Shuttle bus from pretty much outside my cottage all the way through twisty turny back lanes to the starting point for my walk. An excellent service, mainly because it allowed me to do a non-circular walking route but also partly for the sheer entertainment of seeing where a little bus could go. To be honest, it went down roads I would have been nervous about taking the car down!

So back to my walk. I started out from Strumble Head lighthouse (built in 1908 for £70,000 and still working today!) Apparently the fog horn sounds 4 times a minute, luckily it wasn't foggy so I still have my hearing. Ahead of me were 16 miles of Pembrokeshire coastline, and as I quickly saw, much of it is quite craggy. So my hopes of a gentle flat walk were fairly quickly dashed. Admittedly, it was nothing like some of the munros I've tackled this year, but it was up and down all the same.

It was beautiful, however. And surprisingly peaceful. It was only towards the end of the walk that I started meeting people going the same direction as me. For most of the time I had the place to myself - all the better to enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, the sea birds squealing and the wind gently (ok, a bit more than gently!) blowing through the barley. There may not have been many people, but there was plenty of wildlife - butterflies a plenty, sea birds, raptors, sheep, ponies, cows (safely behind fences for the most part) - and stunning wild flowers, ranging from gorse and heather on the uplands, to thrift on the cliffs and foxgloves and other meadow flowers by the more inland sections of the path.

From Strumble Head, the path hugged the coastline over craggy cliffs and took me past Pwll Deri (with its Iron Age fort and memorial to Dewi Emrys, who I'm guessing was a Welsh poet of note.

The route then took me along the top of some very impressive cliffs and across several more headlands. The walking was relentless but the view was spectacular and the sense of wellbeing overwhelming. I spent a long time watching what I thought were dolphins in the sea at one point, only to realise they were actually waves! Still, it was magical for the moments I thought they were dolphins!

From there it was onwards to lunch - and Aber Mawr beach. I was just starting to realise that the downside of not climbing a hill is not having a clear stopping point for lunch - no summit to aim for - when I turned the corner and saw the beach. There was nothing else for it but to stop and have a bite to eat - where I was joined by a dining companion.

Aber Mawr beach is one of those pebble beaches you sometimes find. I don't mean sand with lots of pebbles either, I mean just pebbles galore - and all of the washed smooth by the waves, which made a fantastic sucking sound as they lapped the beach.

Ironically enough, Aber Mawr was also the terminus for the first Atlantic submarine telegraph cable in1873 - and was one of the few points on the whole walk that I had absolutely no mobile phone reception. Sadly that meant I couldn't brag about the beauties of my lunch spot to my normal dining companions - sorry guys!

From Aber Mawr it started getting really hard - not the terrain, just my ability to put one foot in front of the other. Did I say it was hot and sunny yesterday? Luckily the sea breeze did help to keep me cool but it was hot sweaty work all the same and I quickly discovered that shaky tired legs and a coastal cliff path are not really a good combination. To cheer me up, the National Park Authority had posted encouraging signs all along the route - welcome to Pembrokeshire, enjoy your stay!

The next section brought me to Abercastle - or Abercastell in Welsh. (Welsh, the language of hyperactive consonants!). Also known as the Bay of Boats (Cwm Badau), it is a pretty little spot - which to my delight also had a bench for the sitting on thereof.

It was also one of the stops for the Strumble Shuttle, but alas 3 hours too early and I was stubborn enough to want to walk on further. If I'd been 134 years earlier I could have hitched a lift and shared travel experiences with Alfred Johnston who'd just made the first solo trans-Atlantic voyage. Hmm, think his tales were probably scarier!

By this stage I was yomping, all I could think about was getting to the end point - which by now I'd decided was Porthgain, site of two very important things - a bus stop and a pub.

 I raced through Aberfelin and its ruined mill building - very pretty but not as rewarding as the slate seat - and headed on across the headland to Porthgain. 
Never had the sight of old stone hoppers been so enticing. It was a fairly gentle stroll down the hill into the village and from there a short flop to the pub, where I rewarded myself with a small libation . The yomping had been worth it, I had 50 minutes to wait for the bus - just along enough to have a half, not long enough to fall asleep and miss it.

So, all in all, a successful day. I may not have completed the full 16 miles but I did do about 14 of them, in less than 6 hours and more to the point, experienced some amazing scenery. I felt a real sense of achievement and, despite the aching limbs, a strange sense of well-being. I realised while walking that I talk as much when I'm on my own as when I'm with other people. Ok, some of it is inside my head, but not all. I also realised that while the story of my life may be thinking I see dolphins when in fact they're really waves, I'd really much rather live hoping for dolphins than expecting just waves!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Coasting along

Wales 030
Originally uploaded by bexybeads
Well, today was the first full day of my holiday - or at least one that didn't involve spending 10 hours driving a car to get here!

The journey was very long yesterday - much longer than I thought it would be. But I survived it, and to be honest I wasn't as exhausted as I thought I would be.

So I was full of great intentions to get up and walk to the nearest village, along the coastal path, to have Sunday lunch at the pub there and then walk back. Unfortunately the day started with blustery winds, descended into yukky drizzle and had visibility shortening by the minute. With that kind of prospect, I decided instead to see what St David's had to offer. 10 minutes along the road by car later and I arrived. It was bigger and smaller than I expected all at the same time.

If I'm back there again in better weather, I'll take some photos. But instead, I wandered round a bit in the drizzle, got my bearings, found a farm shop outlet and stocked up on food, and booked a climbing course for Friday morning. Eek!

And then I found a pub and had lunch - not a full Sunday lunch since I hadn't worked up an appetite, but a lovely bowl of Bouillebaisse instead. All fresh local seafood I think too. And by the time I came out, the sun had started shining so I rushed back to the cottage, changed and headed out for my coastal path walk.

The photos are posted on Flickr so you can see a bit of what I experienced. While it was sunny, it was also still fairly windy, which was probably just as well as I think it would probably have been too hot otherwise.

The walk was beautiful - stunning blue seas, foamy white surf, dry pale green grass, clover and thrift - and solitude (on the whole)!

I even saw some peregrines or sea-eagle chicks - I'm not quite sure which, but they were definitely raptors - and only about 20 feet away. Amazing!

Provided the weather holds I'm planning a longer walk tomorrow - taking the bus to the start and then walking back home. Fingers crossed!

And now, there's another beautiful sunset to view so I'll leave it there!

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Ok, it wasn't dawn when I left this morning (and anyway this photo is sunset rather than sunrise) but it was early for a holiday! The benefit, however, is that it's 1pm and I'm (hopefully) half way there already.

I've just taken my 2nd rest break and am now about to 'turn right' to quote a friend. Heading off the motorway soon and into Wales.

It feels like the holiday is really beginning now.

(And yes, I am keeping to my challenge. Not a scrap of make-up, not even concealer or mascara! Cold turkey!)

I eventually arrived at about 6.30 pm - tired and somewhat bedraggled but elated at having made it. And I didn't get lost once - although it was a close run thing on one of the 'short cuts' I decided to take.

My estimate of half-way there at the 2nd pit-stop was wildly optimistic. The journey took a full 10 hours, although with 4 stops en route - one for a much needed ice-cream! The motorway driving was definitely the worst, not because of the traffic or anything, but just because it was so boring and hypnotic. The off-motorway driving, whilst more interesting (and very pretty) was frustrating at times - particularly when I got stuck behind Sunday drivers out a day early. Much unnecessary braking and an aversion to over-taking!! Grr!

But I'm here - arrived safely and firmly ensconced in my cosy hideaway. There's a beautiful view of the sea - photos of the sunset available on Flickr already. And now I'm just looking forward to my week of rest, relaxation, contemplation, exploration and perhaps some adventure.