Category Archives: Holidays

10 Days in the Sun

Apologies for not posting last month. The due date was the day we returned from our 2nd holiday in 6 months curtesy of the generous retirement gift to my husband from his boss. Returning home late and tired to a cold house and empty fridge, and a mountain of washing to deal with I wasn’t up to writing. But here I am back again.

Our 10 days in the sun were perfect although on the day of our arrival we didn’t think so. Our flight delayed thanks to air traffic workers on strike in France and when we did land, we had to wait on our coach for other delayed passengers. It took longer getting from the airport to the hotel than the flight itself before we eventually arrived, the last drop on the run and only 10 miles from the airport! Our mood plummeted even further as the weather was awful, a howling gale, and never in 20+ years of visiting the Mediterranean had I seen it so grey, so angry with huge choppy waves. Great if you were into surfing, which some were doing. We really thought we had made a big mistake in choosing this place and time of year.

We’d upgraded to a superior room, which turned out to be the penthouse room over-looking the beach and affording a full view of the 8km bay close to the harbour. It wasn’t a large room, but spotlessly clean, well decorated, with a wide balcony, a floor-to-ceiling window at the side, lovely marble bathroom, and joy-of-joys a walk-in shower. Plus we had full coffee facilities, fridge, safe and all the extras one normally has to pay extra for.

The bay looking left from the balcony

We went down for an early evening meal then back up to our room for coffee and an early night as I hadn’t slept all night and we’d been up since 4 am for the airport taxi so we were well tired. We hadn’t been back in the room some 5 mins before a knock at the door, where stood 2 staff members, one holding 2 glasses, the other a bottle of champagne. It took a few minutes of working out their Spanish and them our English to understand this was compliments of the management for Dave’s birthday. We invited them in whereupon they burst into singing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish to him. He shot me an angry look, thinking I’d arranged this. I hadn’t. I know he hates fuss and we had purposely kept it quiet that we were travelling on his 71st birthday. Apparently, the manager on reception when we checked in noticed the significant date on his passport. Dave doesn’t drink wine so we bought it back with us to open at my mum’s 94th birthday bash at the end of this month.

A glorious sunrise every morning

Dawn arrived  We woke to the sun rising directly in front of us, the sky blue, birds singing, as it did every morning thereafter. Our mood lifted. The weather the next 10 days was glorious, some days reaching 30 degrees,  not bad for February.  Heaven!

The bay looking right.

Dave isn’t into sightseeing or daytrips and as I knew the area very well, having done all the touristy things over the years, our days fell into a lovely relaxed pattern. After breakfast, he would go for a stroll along the edge of the surf the length of the bay whilst I relaxed on the balcony in the sun losing myself in a book. On his return, we’d have coffee then go for a walk along the promenade or exploring the town. Each day it was come out of the hotel doors then turn left one day, right the next. At either end of the bay we found a lovely place to stop for a drink and or snack: an English bar come restaurant at one end and a newly opened Spanish bar the other, the owners of which spoilt us with extra coffees, gratis brandies, chocolate and nibbles each visit.

This part of the coast is known for its sand sculptures, of which this was the best we saw. The detail was incredible, including a mouse after the cheese on the table, a cat, pigs and piglets in the corner, and a real fire in the hearth.

There was one downside to our location. The noise! The road between the hotel and beach was constantly busy, day and night, the Spanish loving the sound of car horns. Although we were 10 floors up, the sound of chairs scraping in the bars outside was also irritating as they shut shop at midnight. At 4 am, motorbikes and cars as the fishermen made their way to the harbour, then the boats start up and chug out. But the worse was the rubbish lorries. Where we were in Spain, instead of large communal bins at the roadside, here were large tanks set underground beneath small bins in which people dispose of their waste. At 5:30 am along would come a huge truck and crane to lift and empty the tanks. Each day a different tank: Monday, cardboard, Tues, plastic (you get the idea) until it was glass day, twice a week. Dreadful. Imagine a giant skip full of bottles from the residents and all the nearby bars being lifted, tipped and emptied into a noisy lorry, only to stop a little way further along and repeat. We are used to quiet all day and silence all night at home, so this took some getting used to.

Apart from the early morning disturbances, made up for by the sun appearing in front us every morning whilst we sat in bed drinking coffee watching, we didn’t want to come home, particularly as Storm David was raging in the UK. Our flight was delayed again, this time to the airport being fogbound. Eventually, we landed back in Bristol, a rather bumpy, uncomfortable landing but we were home.

We’d so enjoyed our holiday. In fact, that much so, Dave started looking and planning our next trip the following day. Sadly, like the rest of the world at the moment, everything has been put on hold. We are now waiting for the sun and summer to return to the UK as we hole ourselves up and pray we stay safe away from this awful virus.

Wherever you are, stay safe too.

 

Fave Festive Ad

For the last few years, I’ve always posted my favorite festive TV advert as my December blog post. The accolade usually goes to John Lewis, a large department store here in the UK and known for its great Christmas ads, but this year I was underwhelmed. IMO there wasn’t much to choose from amongst the other superstore offerings.

There was one ad that stood out for me, and although it isn’t from the big guns it is very close to my heart. We puppy-walked and fostered for Guide Dogs for the Blind for several years and continue to support them. They do really amazing work, and the training they do with the dogs is truly inspirational.

Untitled designVivvy, our own gorgeous girl came to us as a withdrawn puppy. We had fostered her and had fallen totally in love with her. During her assessment, they found she was too jumpy to be a guide dog, although in our opinion she is certainly smart enough! It didn’t take much for us to put our hands up and adopt her.

 

So in the spirit of tradition, here’s my 2019 favorite TV Christmas advert:

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020!

A Mini Rant for the Holidays! :)

Jillian here! Happy December!  I am proud to announce my first grandchild, Benjamin Rowan, was born on November 26, 2019. Just in time to have his first Thanksgiving. It’s really cool as it’s always been my daughter-in-law’s favorite holiday. He’s a super sweet, gentle soul (so far) and a very happy little dude.

I was there in the hospital when he was born- not in the delivery room- I didn’t even want to be in the delivery room when my own kids were born, I certainly didn’t want to be there for someone else’s.  🙂  The labor itself wasn’t bad for her- she did really well according to her and my son. So happy she had an easy time.

People have been asking me what my grandmother name is going to be. I’ve been keeping it a secret and have bought a book for the baby for Christmas that will reveal it. It was one of my son’s favorite books as a child. (I’ll tell you at the end of this post if you stick around long enough) 🙂

One of the reasons I’ve been keeping it a secret is because I wanted the other grandmother to announce her name before I did. She has done crazy- if not downright mean- things to me over the time I’ve known her. I haven’t written about this before, but I have to get it off my chest.

When my son was growing up, we baked and cooked a lot together. I have one of the really nice KitchenAid mixers and I always told him I’d get him one for his wedding present.  When he got engaged, he was at her parents’ house and mentioned I was getting them a mixer. Within days, he emailed me to tell me that her mother got them one as she found a great deal on QVC. It really hurt me as that was something special I wanted to do for him and his bride.

Next, I asked her numerous times about coordinating for the wedding. What she was going to wear so I could decide what to do. She never would tell me- she’s about a size 6 and I am not. It’s harder for me to find nice clothes. Since she refused to tell me, I finally got what I liked. When I told the bride what color I got, I almost immediately got a text from her mother saying, “That was the color I was going to wear.” When I told my husband, he said I should just wear what I want. The lady ended up in an ecru all lace gown that was long and similar to the bride’s. Everyone else – including me and the bridesmaids were in short dresses. She looked foolish. Everyone was talking about it.

Fast forward to the baby shower:  When the other grandmother wanted me to go in on a ridiculously expensive shower (over $1,000.00 at a restaurant- before tax and tip), I said we’d rather spend money on something for the nursery. She came back with they were getting the stroller. I said (you think I’d have learned my lesson by now) that I’d get the rocker then.

Imagine my surprise when I went the next day to order the chair and someone else had ordered it. When I asked my son who bought it (as I was pretty sure I knew)- he said his wife’s grandfather. I had to laugh as I asked, “How does a dead man buy a chair?” Clearly, her mother did it- son says it was from money inherited.

And, the last thing as I rant on, the day they were leaving the hospital after Benjamin was born, her mother said she’d gone to the gift shop to get something for them – balloons and a stuffed toy- but it was closed. I said (again, stupid me) I had tried to go get flowers but they were closed and I didn’t know where a florist was nearby. By the time I got to my son’s house, his mother-in-law had stopped and got flowers.

So, it was vital I keep my grandmother name secret until this lady announced hers to all her friends.   🙂 I’ve chosen Nonna. It’s Italian for Grandmother and the book my son loved was Strega Nona. And now I have rattled on way too long.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza or Happy Hanukah, whichever you celebrate.  stregna nona

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Busy November

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Jillian here. Happy November. This month is chock full of happenings. The first weekend, I spent with writer friends at a lake house about 2.5 hours from me. My friend’s uncle owns it and he allows her to use it … Continue reading

July in August

Warning…county music fan geeking out…

This past month, over the U.S. Fourth of July, eleven people from my family met up for what felt like the vacation of a lifetime. I think it was the first time all five of us siblings have gone on a trip together. We were celebrating a banner birthday, some resolved health issues, and each other.

We went to Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

And it was awesome.

It started last Christmas when my brother said they were going to Nashville at our annual brunch. We all fell like dominoes and within two days, hotel reservations were set. I’ll say it was a little scary that nine out of eleven of us were on the same plane, but we made it there delayed, but without issue.

On the Fourth, the downtown corridor in Nashville was cordoned off and we all filtered through metal detectors to get in. It was crazy busy, but Florida Georgia Line’s restaurant, FGL House, got us in for the most amazing dinner. Everyone there was so nice and the food was yummy, especially the No Joke Mac n Cheese (bacon, chicken, and calories, but melt in your mouth.)

Because we’re older, and because the crush of what turned out to be 348,000 people for the fourth of July was rather daunting, we bought rooftop reservations at Blake Shelton’s bar, Ole Red. That was the best choice ever! We got to sit, visit, and watch the crush of people below without being jostled. And…here’s where the fan geeking comes in…our waiter was also waiting on Blake Shelton’s manager (Kelly Clarkson’s husband.) Okay, so we didn’t meet him, but I’m still saying that us (and 300 other people) partied with him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The fireworks were the best we’ve ever seen. Getting home wasn’t much fun that night, even though we sat and waited for another hour after the show ended. It still took us two hours to get back to the hotel seven miles away.

Totally worth it.

The next night, with a LOT less people, we went back downtown to enjoy some music. From place to place, you could hear so much variety, from country, to Hard Rock Café style, to dueling pianos, to some amazing blues.

We ended up listening to a great singer, Becki McLeod, and her rocking band. Loved her voice, her cover choices, and her fiddle player even did The Devil Went Down to Georgia, a fast, difficult piece. Okay, the whole band was involved in that, but the fiddle player, in particular, was outstanding.

Again, it was the best ever!

We all broke away for our own tours, too. Some went to the Jack Daniels distillery tour and said it was one of the best tours they’d ever done.

Hubby and I went to the Grand Ole Opry. Fan geeking again here…it was pretty amazing to stand where people whose music I love have stood. The Opry is music royalty and we loved seeing it.

We also got some pool time at the hotel, ate what the south calls Wicked Chicken (spicy), and did a lot of visiting. A LOT of visiting.

I’d have to call it one of our top five favorite trips ever, ranking up there with the cruise that took us to Iceland and Greenland, the overland tour to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (Northern Lights!), the motorcycle trip to Banff, Canada (snow in July, Brrrr!), and our road trip to Mt. Rushmore (majestic.)

I know I’ve been truly blessed with our travels and I have so many great memories. I hope you’ve been blessed with memories that make you smile when life is handing you lemons.

Have a great rest of your summer, everyone!

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Fathers Day

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Last Sunday was Fathers day and as I frequently do I pause to be Thankfully grateful for my dad. The picture is of a family dinner My mom and dad are on the left,  mom’s leaning around dad. My Grandmother … Continue reading

A New Year Begins

A Happy New Year!

It can’t be 2019 already, can it? Where’s the last one gone? Gone far too quick, that’s for sure. Seems like only yesterday I was saying a Happy New Year 2018 to you all. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the recent festivities. Ours was quiet, just as we like it, with my mother, Dave and I together over the period. This year, for a change we opted for a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, including sprouts, followed by Christmas pudding, something Dave would never eat once upon a time. Now he asks for it and is hoping when we next go shopping the store will have some left. He even enjoyed the mince pies,  Lebkucken biscuits and Stollen –things he’s always turned his nose up to before. He’s also ventured into the pleasure of eating yoghurt, and curries. (Okay, who is this man and what have you done with the real Dave?)

Mother enjoying a quiet moment.

Boxing Day was made even more enjoyable by a surprise visit from our daughter and two grandchildren. My mother, their great-grandmother, was delighted to see them as she doesn’t have much opportunity to nowadays. I often think the term “grandchildren” sounds wrong for adult grandkids. There needs to be a better one. Any suggestions?

As Dave packs away the Christmas tree and decorations into the loft, I have a quiet moment to look back on 2018 in the Domino household. It’s certainly been a busy year, one with many ups and frequent let downs, highlights and disappointments, and worry over the health of one of my sisters, who thankfully is now okay. And a sad one too, with the loss of two family members, but made up for by a new little member to the clan, which I’ve yet to meet. We endured a freezing spring with the Beast from the East, made up for by a gloriously hot summer to remember. And it was a year that saw a milestone for us with our 40th wedding anniversary, not that we celebrated; we never do.

It’s also been an expensive year as we’ve revamped and restocked the garden and the dining/living room, and had to unexpectedly change what was meant to be our car for life. This was thanks to a design fault in the sunroof which let in water when it rained, destroying all the electrics. And having paid out previously for a costly repair which didn’t work, the car had to go. We are thrilled with our serendipitous replacement, so it turned out good in the end.

Back in May, I enjoyed a successful art exhibition which led to a few sales and a request to teach an art class, which starts next week for 4 sessions. I’m feeling quite chuffed although a little daunted and nervous at the prospect.  The response for a place was so overwhelming, I’ve already been asked to run another later in 2019.

I missed having a holiday abroad, but fully intend to make up for it this year by having two (or more if I can!), and maybe I can finally get Dave abroad again.

So what else does this year hold in store for me? Teaching more art classes, perhaps? I will if the opportunity arises. And I must, must, must, stop dithering and wasting time on social media and other things when I should be writing. I’ve no excuse, but as we all know, it’s so easy to let it slip. And with at least four books either finished, nearly finished or even half-way finished, I need to knuckle down. That’s where the disappointments came last year. Too many rejections. But I shall not give up. I mean, what else am I supposed to do whilst it’s cold, and he’s downstairs watching cricket, and rugby, and American football? No, no excuses at all.

And what of your year? Whatever you have planned I wish you one of good health and harmony and success in whatever you do to make it a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR indeed.

Kit’s Website and Blog, Kit’s Kitchen,  Kit’s Art  Site