Sunday, 16 September 2012

Paralympics' magic

As quickly as the London 2012 Olympics started, I was moaning that I hadn’t been able to bag myself tickets to anything. And yes, I was one of those wannabe spectators dismayed at the sight of empty seats on my TV. So you can imagine my frustration when not only my mum and brother got tickets but then Tom did as well. Determined not to let this momentous occasion pass me by without seeing something, anything, I pestered Tom to high heavens in an attempt to get him to smuggle me in on his ticket. After the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics, imagine my delight when Mr Dickson said he could take me to the Paralympics for free. Courtesy of Solent University, we got to visit the park for the day and although we weren’t guaranteed entry to any events, I had high hopes. And I was right too – first we were given pretty much courtside seats to the wheelchair basketball, a sport which saw me gain a new-found respect for these female athletes – it’s a brutal sport! After a nail-biting last quarter which saw the USA come from behind to take the win in the last minute, we were then treated to the lads playing a game. 
As evening drew in, we snuck off for a bit of dinner and wandered round the rest of the park to take in the sights and snap some pics. I loved the upbeat atmosphere and the general feeling about the place, not to mention the non-existent queues for the women’s toilets. 
We ended the day with the excitement of being inside the athletics stadium and hearing the crowd roar when a GB guy raced home past the finish line in first place. We had fantastic seats and caught a glimpse of the men’s high jump, women’s long jump and a selection of track events which were both inspiring and astonishing to watch. All the adrenalin was washed down nicely with a cold beer, but at £4.30 a pop, it was the only one to pass by my lips that evening!
The events came to an end and we headed for the exits, along with thousands of other weary travellers eager to get home and into bed. I left the stadium feeling extremely proud to be British!

Friday, 14 September 2012

This gorgeous little boy...

I thought it was about time I dedicated a blog post to this young man. He is just approaching his 1st birthday and he is honestly the cutest little boy ever. The first baby for our group, Freddie is quite the charmer and loves a good girlie get together. We obviously all adore him and can’t wait to see him get older and even more gorgeous! Mum Becky is not a big fan of the camera, but Freddie is more than happy to take the limelight. She also dresses him exceptionally well, always sporting a Ralph Lauren polo or Converse booties; he is quite the fashionista. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Sunday bike ride...

Last Sunday we decided to don our helmets and hire some bikes to explore the New Forest in style. After hopping on a train to Brockenhurst and praying for the rain to stop, we picked up our cycles and set our sights on an 11mile trek with a mid-way pub pit stop. Our first hurdle was navigating the map, which was more difficult than expected, but once we came to our first forest opening and eyed a very large bull, we decided to just follow our noses and hope for the best. So after a major detour that saw us brave a main road and cars speeding past us at 60mph, we finally reached the pub where a welcome lunch awaited.  I scoffed a scrumptious meal of pork belly and downed a pint of Pepsi before hitting the road again. To say we were ‘saddle sore’ was an understatement and I spent the majority of the cycle home trying to keep the seat as far away from my bum as possible. We ended the day splattered with mud and thoroughly tired out, ready for a nice hot bath and steak dinner when we got home. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A civilised afternoon tea

A couple of weekends ago, us girls rallied round to attend a very civilised tea party, organised by perfect housewife herself, Suzi. Sporting a pastel theme, the weather was kind to us and the sun came out in full force; enough for me to don a tribal playsuit and worry about sweat patches. We arrived at the Sumon house around 3.30pm to a picturesque scene. Colourful bunting, bitesize snacks and a table laid with special goodie bags for each guest; she had done good. 

After gorging on yummy sausages and chicken sandwiches, it was time to taste the punch. Lucky for me it didn’t go down too well with the girls, which meant I was given the task of polishing off each glass round the table and halfway round, I was certainly starting to feel the effects! 

We spent the rest of the evening, chatting, dancing, miming to music and pretending we are the next girl supergroup, and laughing till our bellies hurt. The night took us into town where we continued the shindig with the rest of the Brighton party-goers, sipping cocktails and having a gold old boogie.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Notting Hill Carnival

For more carnival pics go here
It’s become a yearly tradition now for the fab four to venture up to London for the August bank holiday to celebrate all things Bob Marley and visit Notting Hill carnival. We bagged a great hotel deal, courtesy of Emily Dartnell and were in a prime location in the heart of Mayfair, amongst the posh elite. So after starting the day off with a forgotten suitcase at Liverpool Street Station (I’m never putting my bag in the overhead storage again) we headed into Notting Hill to get jiggy with the Jamaicans. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Throughout the day we indulged in the famous jerk chicken, rice and beans and coleslaw, moshed it up at the pineapple crew stand and watched the vibrant parade line the streets. It was a really fun day and after trekking back to the hotel, we rested our weary feet with a quick nap and a bit of Beethoven on the TV. 

Rejuvenated, spruced up, and in our glad-rags, we headed for Soho where we had booked a table here at this hidden gem, known only to the cool London crowd. It was quite a place, dim lighting, a buzzing atmosphere and classic cocktails; we spent the evening eating Mexican food and chatting over multiple glasses of wine.

The next day we had the treat of a lie-in and a late check out before heading to a local patisserie to fill our bellies with tasty treats and a monstrous slice of chocolately cake. Same again next year please!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

My week exploring the UK: Bath

Next stop on mine and Tom’s week off (which feels like it was about 50 years ago now – please excuse my blogging absence) we went to Bath! And what a glorious city it is. Filled with beautiful old buildings, cobbled streets and quirky independent shops, I honestly think it is one of the nicest places we have ever visited. It was obviously rammed with tourists but we embraced it and spent our two days visiting the grand Abbey, picnicking by the river and indulging in a roof top spa. Superb!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

My week exploring the UK: Brighton

What a scorcher! The sun was out in full force as we hopped on the train once again and headed to my favourite place, Brighton. After treating ourselves to brekkie on the beach, we braved the tourists to go for a cheeky shop where I bagged myself a River Island bargain. The rest of the day was spent seeing Becky and Freddie for lunch, where Tom played the doting babysitter, visiting my balmy gran who seemed to be quite taken with “tom tom the pipers son”, and ending the day with drinks and dinner on the seafront with my friends. It was the perfect day.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

My week exploring the UK: Portsmouth

Day two was Tom’s 26th birthday, and a surprise trip to Portsmouth was on the cards. We got on the train and arrived to be greeted by the beaming sunshine. We had a boat trip round the historic dockyard surrounded by old fogies, visited HMS Victory and brushed up on our history knowledge, and finished off the day with afternoon tea up the Spinnaker Tower. Another sweaty one, but thoroughly enjoyed by both.

Friday, 10 August 2012

My week of exploring the UK: Woburn Safari Park

Me and Tom seemed to book the best week off this year, with temperatures hitting a scorching 30 degrees midweek. To cram it all into a few blog posts, I’ll be doing more showing and less talking, so here are some of the best piccys.

Day one saw us hit a local safari park in Woburn, Bedfordshire. We drove round the animal enclosures, tried in vain to encourage monkeys to play on my car roof, watched a sealion show and had two rides in a swan boat. It was a blistering hot day and a fab start to our week of fun!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I turned adventurer for the day...

My next press jaunt took me to Skipton in Yorkshire for a nice little treat and a dabble in some country sports. Clocking off at 3pm, I rushed to the station to begin my five hour journey to the rolling hills and picturesque greenery. When I reached London, the delight of the first class lounge was there to greet me and I smugly wandered to my carriage leaving the hustle and bustle of economy commuters behind. My first experience of travelling with the toffs, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and by 8pm was already on my second glass of wine and reclining comfortably in my spacious seat. 

I finally made it to the hotel around 10pm, bleary-eyed and flagging, but was not disappointed when I unlocked the door to find my bed for the night. A spectacular scene unravelled, complete with mahoosive bathroom, queen-size bed and the real jewel in the crown, a balcony overlooking a gorgeous lake and a view for miles. Yes, this will do very nicely, I thought. 

Waking up refreshed and after my daily dose of Daybreak, I headed downstairs for the day’s activities. The main purpose of my trip was to participate in an Open Day at the hotel, to give me a taste of what the establishment can offer its guests. And I was not disappointed.
After rubbing shoulders with a few local country bumpkins and wishing I was rich enough to buy a Barbour, we were put into teams and headed off for our activities in the Yorkshire Dales. My first task; Land Rover off road driving.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, I hoped in the driver’s seat and, after adjusting the seat to my abnormal height, I took the wheel and headed for the rough terrine. It was a brilliant experience, even though my nerves were shot to pieces by the end of it all. Next stop, clay pigeon shooting.

Plunging ear-plugs into my drums, I was shown the ropes and then left to get ready, aim and fire! After hitting the target first time, my next few shots missed terribly and the weight of the gun and pressure of the gunfire took its toll. On to archery.

This I seemed to get the hang of and even hit a few bullseyes to give the posh totty a run for their money. I got a bit nostalgic and remembered my good old Brownie Guide camp days, so put my knowledge to good use to show off a bit.

Next we had a look at some birds. Birds of Prey, hawks and owls to be exact. With the guide explaining the hawk’s amazing DNA make-up at about 100 miles an hour and my rumbling stomach causing a distraction, my mind did start to wander to potential lunch menu choices. 
But it was soon broken when I was handed a body part of a baby chick before the hawk come down to swoop it out of my hand and feast on the meaty goodness on my arm. 

Finishing the activities, we headed back to base to indulge in lunch and fizzy beverages, which was a welcome treat for my parched palate. A few wines later and conversation on my lunch table was in full swing, with the broad Yorkshire accent making me giggle with every sentence. With my pre-booked train looming, I scoffed my lunch and, ever the classy bird, was given my lemon tarte in some kitchen foil to takeaway.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

35 years later...

1977 was the year Star Wars first opened in cinemas, James Callaghan was the UK’s Prime Minister and the ‘King’ Elvis Presley died aged just 42. But beating all these world-changing events to be the star occasion not to be missed was the wedding of David Monk and Pamela Poole. 

Now more than three decades later, they have just celebrated their 35th year of marriage and are still going strong! Obviously apart from the big day itself, 1987 and 1985 have been momentous occasions since, (the birth of me and my brother) and in 35 years they are still very happy together –although they are the epitome of an ‘old married couple’ with some of the conversations they have, namely about birds and what the neighbours have been doing, but I love being part of the Monk clan.

So in 1977 when they got married, my dad had a tash and they bought their first house in Brighton for a tiny £13,000 and didn’t know what adventures life would bring!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Eynsham Carnival

It’s become a bit of a yearly tradition now that the Posselwhites and Dicksons come together in July for the world famous Eynsham carnival, and this year marked our second attempt. It’s always a funny day out, filled with Morris men, candy floss and hot dogs, handmade quirky floats and fairground rides. Unfortunately the weather did rain on our parade and tried to put a dampener on things, but we donned our raincoats and wellies and braved the elements to mark the occasion. 

The cider was in full flow at 1pm and we caught a bit of the crazy float race before heading to the showground to get stuck in the mud. Apart from a torrential downpour that saw the crowds scrambling to take cover in the arts and crafts tent, we stuck it out until the late afternoon, finishing it off with another beverage in the village pub. We then headed back to the Posselwhite mansion to carry on the party into the night! 
The next day, we ventured into Oxford town centre to have a wander. We started with a drink in the oldest pub in Oxford and then took our seats at the local Weatherspoons to tackle a cheeseburger and cheer on Murray in the Wimbledon final.