Archives for category: Bucket List

A few weeks ago I, along with my sister, popped back to 1962 for a few days.

We didn’t go by DeLoean, hitch a ride in the TARDIS or slip through some sort of wormhole – we actually got there by, erm, ferry.

Ok, so I’ll confess, we didn’t actually go back in time but we did pop over to the Isle of Wight (a small island off the South Coast of the UK for those not in the know) and stayed at a caravan park for 3 nights. Not your ordinary caravan park though – this one was comprised of around 12 classic Airstreams. You know the ones – they look like silver bullets and nowadays you are more likely to find people selling hotdogs or deep fried donuts out of them.

20170430_094155We chose a 1962 Safari Airstream and what a little beauty she was. In estate agent speak she was ‘compact & bijou’ but she had everything you’d possibly need for a holiday. Well, apart from a loo which, if you don’t need one during a 3 night visit, you should probably go and see your doctor.

20170427_161513There were two double beds but one was a pull out and we were far too lazy to do that every day so, being the close sisters we are, we snuggled up in the permanent double bed. I guess we should just be grateful that neither of us were suffering from wind during the trip!

The bathroom didn’t have a loo but it did have a shower, absolutely perfect…for anyone under 3ft 8in tall! Luckily there was a shower and toilet block just across the other side of the field and nothing says ‘British’ quite as much as a girl walking across a field in shoes and a fleecy dressing gown at 8am.

The rest of the Airstream was kitted out in items befitting it’s original era, with lots of little cubby holes containing vintage crockery, books, games and the like.

Of course, we also explored the delights of the Isle of Wight over the next 4 days but that was just by chance as the real reason for going there was the sleeping accommodation which also resulted in me being able to cross off another item on my extensive Bucket List

If you are interested in checking out this unique caravanning opportunity, check out their website.

Oh and we went to the donkey sanctuary too which was pretty cool and this little guy seemed pleased to see us.

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Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but, due to an unexpected change in my living arrangements, I now have a bit more time on my hands (isn’t it amazing how much time is spent picking up someone else’s underpants!).

One thing that has never and will never be on my Bucket List is diving. I’m asthmatic, I’m terrified of the thought of drowning, I can’t swim very well…so, what did I do in August? That’s right, I went diving…

My attempts at yoga in the last few years gave the opportunity to meet a young lady called Maria who, with her hubby, owns and runs a Diving Company here in Fethiye. Dolphin Diving to be exact. One day I was just walking past the dive boat and thought ‘ah bugger it, you only live once’ and found myself booking a ‘Try Dive’.

So, there I was on the day, crapping myself, nervously making conversation with the other divers, and convinced this was going to be my last day on earth.

After a beautiful journey to a small bay, and some basic instructions from Can (Maria’s rather dashing husband), I was sewn into a diving suit, strapped into the tanks and weighed down with a weight belt.

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Try Dive’s are really simple; you don’t have to learn about controlling anything except your breathing, the Dive Master holds your hand the whole time and all you have to do is flap your legs and look around.

The first dive was wonderful – so many fish, feeding the aforementioned fish, not drowning – you know, all that sort of stuff.

Second dive? Well, not quite so successful. Almost as soon as I got in the water I got water in my mask. I obediently did what Can taught me but forgot one crucial step and ended up with more water in my mask. So what did I do? Well, I did the thing any sane person would do, I panicked! But it was ok because my hero, Can, was there, calming me down, making sure I didn’t forget to breathe and before I knew it I was back on dry land (boat) relieving my journey into the deep.

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Will I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe. Possibly. Hmm, probably not. But I can at least say I’ve tried it and now go off and do something else that IS on the Bucket List.

 

Recently the legendary Glen Campbell released his final track ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ where he talks about his battle with  Alzheimer’s. My mother’s love of ‘our Glen’ meant that I grew up with an appreciation of country music which led, in turn, to my own passion for the genre.

So, it should come as no surprise that a visit to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville was no 83 on my Bucket List and, of course, I couldn’t go without my mum.

We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which, as you’d expect with any hotel with the name ‘land’ in it, was like Disney on speed. The ruddy place was enormous although I did feel a sense of being let down at the lack of Gay Lords prancing around but hey ho.

P1030920Anyway, during our stay we had a night planned at the Grand Ole Opry. For those of you who don’t know, the Opry stages a live radio show showcasing the music of old (very old!) and new country singers. Ma and I, along with a number of the other travellers within our tour group headed off to the Opry and waited with bated breath to see what acts we would be introduced to. It was whilst waiting that I started making conversation with an English couple who were on our tour only to discover that the lady didn’t like tattoos (of which I have 5) or Americans (erm…).

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Luckily I was saved from pointing out the obvious by the start of the show, and what a show it was.

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There was a gent on the mic who read out the ads in between acts, 2 hosts and about 20 acts. Quite a few of the acts were old timers who surprised me by not only living through their sets but by how much energy they put into them. Considering how much I groan just when I’m getting off the sofa nowadays, I can definitely say they put me to shame.

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There were of course some younger acts too including one of the cast of the TV series ‘Nashville’ and a rather pleasant looking chap called Chuck Wicks that had my mum considering trading in Tim McGraw for a younger version.

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All in all it was a cracking night and it turned out it was also one of the last times that George Hamilton IV would play live as he passed away just last month.

And if that doesn’t make you feel a little weepy then check out Glen’s last single…

Back in May myself and my loved one booked tickets to go and see those grand old rockers Aerosmith, in Istanbul. We were particularly excited as we’d seen that Slash had joined them on a few previous dates and figured that would be a sight to behold. Mind you, I’ve never liked being in the company of people who have more luxuriant hair than I do so I might have had to deal with some jealousy issues.

But, not only would we get the chance to witness pensioners exhibiting more athleticism than I could ever hope to achieve, I’d also get the chance to tick off no. 41 on my Bucket List – visit Istanbul.

So off we toddled to Dalaman airport; a quick hop on and off the plane, an even quicker apology to a guy for making him move seats and then realising he was already in the right one, a short bus journey and voila, there we were in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. We checked into our perfectly situated boutique hotel, where I temporarily felt guilty for interrupting the receptionist as she tried to arrange her social life by text – but the guilt stopped when it was clear that we weren’t going to interrupt her at all and we could damn well wait until she was finished before she took any notice of us. Luckily the room more than made up for her lack of social skills so we dropped off our bags and, after the obligatory check of all the draws and the toiletries on offer, went for a walk. It turned out to be a fairly long walk as we turned left when we should have turned right and both of us were far too stubborn to admit that maybe, just maybe we weren’t going in the direction we planned.

Anyway, after a few hours of strolling (both in the wrong and right direction) we returned to the hotel and put on our glad rags ready to rock and roll the night away. We wandered down to the stadium and were surprised at how quiet it was. Had we got the wrong night? Had we got the wrong time? Had we got the wrong city? Well, no, unfortunately it wasn’t something as simple as that. We found out that the gig had been cancelled due to the tragic and horrifying accident suffered by the miners in Soma, Turkey. Well we couldn’t very well argue with that could we? And indeed we didn’t.

So, with thoughts of their families, friends and the miners themselves we went and sat in a cafe by the Bosphorus and passed the time relaxing while thanking the stars for our blessed lives, before returning to the hotel where we noticed the receptionist had finished her shift – hopefully she’d wisely chosen to pop out and get a personality transplant!

Next morning we woke up bright and early and set about becoming crazed tourists until it was time for our flight home. But first we had a very exciting appointment to keep. As luck would have it, all the Board Directors from my old company were attending a Board Meeting (or maybe a bored meeting!) in Istanbul. After a few emails the previous week it was arranged that myself & Ronnie would meet up with two of the big cheeses I used to work for. It was great to catch up with them, for them to meet Ronnie, and for me to finally say out loud that I thought one of my other old bosses was a bit of a knob.

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After filling ourselves up with croissants, eggs, fruit and various other goodies we said our farewells and jumped on a tram to Sultanahmet, then got off it 5 minutes later when it terminated early due to tramline works. We strolled (struggled) up the hill to where many tourist attractions are gathered within a very walkable area. We meandered round the Blue Mosque (not as blue as I was expecting), took out a second mortgage to get tickets to wander round the Hagia Sofia, then took out a third mortgage to have a couple of glasses of cay (tea) at an eye watering price of 5.5tl each (they are 1tl where I live).

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But the most exciting venue for me was the Basilica Cistern, an underground water cistern that was built, erm, a long time ago, to provide water to the city in case of siege. It’s eeriness and pure beauty was a sight to behold and even the arrival of a class of Turkish school children did nothing to take away from the aura of the place.

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And then, of course, I had to drag poor Ronnie to the Grand Bazaar, a place no female who considers herself a woman would miss out on. I’ve never seen so many shops in my entire life! If we’d been travelling with more than just hand luggage I would have spent a fortune but luckily that probably saved me from having to find space in my apartment for a load of stuff I probably, ok definitely, don’t need.

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After a quick jaunt around the bazaar (got lost again), it was then time to head back to the airport and return to our little piece of paradise in the sun.

Istanbul is a great city to visit, I would highly recommend it to anyone that thrives on hustle & bustle, or anyone that likes to pick up a quick bargain, or anyone who likes to wander around without knowing where they are going and I’ll definitely be visiting again but this time I guess I’d better pack a map!

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My sister is what I would call an accomplished horse-woman, which in my eyes is anyone who can get on a horse and not immediately fall off the other side.

In May she came to visit, along with her boyfriend, and was keen to do some horse riding in the local area. Now, as she is my little sister by 12 years I obviously have a responsibility to look after her, spoil her and make sure she gets all she desires so off I toodled down to the local tour company and before I knew it I’d arranged for four of us (that’s 1 accomplished rider and 3 idiots) to ride around the hills and valleys of Kayakoy whilst also ticking off number 56 on my Bucket List.

Now Turkey isn’t known for it’s health and safety so it wasn’t a great surprise to learn that riding helmets were optional and that there weren’t any questions beyond ‘have you ridden a horse before’. The first half of the 3 hour trek was very sedate and luckily enough the horses were trained so well that you couldn’t get them to veer away from the set path which was damn good seeing as the aforementioned set path, in a lot of areas, was just a foot wide track with a plunge down the mountain awaiting you on the left.

We then had a 20 minute break in a lovely little cafe in Kayakoy discussing our experiences so far, at which point my other half admitted that he had spent some of the trek with his arms wrapped round the neck of his horse – something I’d had the misfortune not to see.

Anyway, the second half of the trek was due to begin and we were given the option of staying with the sedate group or going with the more experienced group. Obviously, being the idiots that we are, we volunteered for the more experienced group.

I was given another horse this time, a faster horse, which I was assured was equally as obedient as the last horse. So I mounted quite confidentially only to discover, to my horror, that, yes, the horse was obedient but this unfortunately meant that it followed, nose to arse, the lead horse which galloped ahead to make sure the path was clear.

Now I’ve been informed that my horse only actually galloped for a few strides but you trying telling that to a first time rider. As far as I am concerned the ruddy thing galloped for miles, along winding paths, in between foliage, even jumping over a fallen tree at one point and, apparantly from the back I looked like an expert horse-woman, but from the front it was a different story – panic across the face, white knuckles, blisters from holding on too tight – GET ME OFF THIS BLOODY HORSE…

But I survived, I loved it, it was great value for money at only £15 for a half day and, most importantly, I got a picture of me on the horse, on a plate –  you couldn’t ask much more than that could you?

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Now, please excuse me while I hobble inside to find the biggest, softest cushion to sit on while my backside recovers…

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently but I’ve been ticking things off my Bucket List like there’s no tomorrow, not to mention the fact that I’ve moved house which I really don’t recommend doing in the middle of a Turkish summer!

So, can you guess what this particular Bucket List item is purely by the headline? Yep, that’s right, I ticked off number 70 and went to visit Elvis at Graceland, his home in Memphis. Although, as luck would have it, he wasn’t home as he was doing a stint at a bar not too far from where I live. I really should have phoned ahead to let him know I was coming…

The obligatory cheesy photo outside Graceland

The obligatory cheesy photo outside Graceland

Anyway, apart from the absence of the host, it was a fascinating day – interesting, informative, emotional – everything you’d expect from a visit to the home of one of the most famous and successful singers and actors ever to have walked this earth.

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Graceland from the front

Graceland itself was actually pretty small and had an intimate feel about it. You weren’t allowed to go upstairs where Elvis’ bedroom was but you could view the rest of the property including the kitchen, lounge, rec room and, of course, the jungle room.

The infamous Jungle Room

The infamous Jungle Room

The area that had my mum in tears though was where the graves of Elvis, his twin brother, his parents and his grandmother lay.

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The King finally laid to rest

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…with the rest of his family

As well as Graceland, there was an opportunity to go inside 2 of his private planes – a small six seater one and the more luxurious Lisa Marie.

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The Lisa Marie

There was also, amongst other things, a museum housing his cars & another housing his stage outfits. And hats off to the genius marketing team who decided that all ten (yes ten) gift shops should have different items in them meaning you spent an absolute fortune – on that note, I am now pleased to say that I am the owner of a unique, slightly cheesy, Elvis bag/shoe that has to be every girl’s fantasy combination (second only to a night on the sofa with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper).

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Jealous?

Not only did I go to Graceland but I also visited his birthplace in Tupelo, Sun Studios in Memphis and Studio B in Nashville where Elvis recorded over 200 of his songs including Are You Lonesome Tonight? He apparantly recorded it with the lights down and managed to do it in one take. In fact, if you listen to the end of the song very carefully you will hear a double click – that’s him hitting his head on the microphone at the end of the song. Didn’t know that did you?

Studio B

Studio B

Channelling Elvis at Sun Studios

Channelling Elvis at Sun Studios

The guide also informed the tour group that Studio B closed down on 17th August 1977, the day after Elvis died. Was it out of respect? No, the studio executives had actually decided a whole year before that it was to close on that day. Spooky.

That was the point I felt tears pricking at my eyelids…and I realised that Elvis had indeed left the building.

Hey, long time no speak, how are you?

Me? I’m fine thanks for asking. In fact I’ve just got back from a glorious holiday in Hawaii and think I might have broken a record by taking 12 flights in 17 days.

P1030497P1030653P1030667P1030510P1030501Unfortunately there was 1 flight that didn’t happen though, although thinking back that would have been flight 13 so maybe that was a good thing.

I was on the island of K’auai and was within a hairs breadth of completing number 62 on my Bucket List – fly over a volcano. There I was, trundling up the highway with 12 other tourists (oh lordy, that makes 13 again), bouncing up and down in excitement at the thought that I was finally going to view a volcano from above when, 5 minutes away from the heliport, the driver’s radio crackles – yep, you guessed it, all flights cancelled due to low cloud. What a complete bummer. Even worse was that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to reschedule as I had something planned the next day which was also the last day on the island.

But, you know what, I’m never one to let these things get me down and, although I can’t tick it off my bucket list quite yet, I still got the opportunity to see a smoking volcano from the ground, visit another one that looked more like Mars and walk on a lava field as well as through a lava tube.

Oh, and best of all….I got a refund of $450 which made me feel a lot less guilty about buying 7 dresses and 8 pairs of flipflops…

 

Unbelievably it was exactly 1 year ago today that I was sitting in a cold, dark flat in Kent, kitties in a crate, waiting for a nice man called Mark to pick us all up and take us to Gatwick to begin a new chapter in our lives – living in Fethiye, Turkey.

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Well, what a year it’s been. Myself and the kitties have settled into a lovely apartment, and figured out a way of getting into said apartment whilst avoiding the over-friendly Turkish lady that lives downstairs. I’ve met some wonderful people, both Turkish and British, with a Russian thrown in for luck.

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I’ve become involved with a great charity. I’ve started smoking (again) and given up (again). I’ve lost weight. I’ve started doing yoga with a sadistic teacher called Suzie as well as doing Thai Chi with a slightly less sadistic teacher called Jane. I’ve swam in the sea on New Year’s Day. I’ve walked off a mountain. I’ve got two more tattoos. I’ve been on more boat trips than I can count. I’ve purchased a pushbike and learnt how to avoid the erratic Turkish traffic and, probably most significantly, I’ve fallen in love, with both a motorbike and a human being.

I’ve visited some great places in Turkey, including Kayakoy and Ephesus & Pamukkale and I’ve got some great overseas holidays coming up including Hawaii and Nashville & Memphis. Plus I’ve got a few bucket list items to look forward to – visiting Istanbul, horse-riding and flying over a volcano to name but a few – which I’ll bore you with when they happen.

There is no doubt that this move is one of the best things I’ve ever done so if you are sitting there, reading this, thinking about something you really want to do, then go for it, don’t make excuses, don’t hold yourself back for the sake of a mortgage that needs to be paid – there are ways around anything if you try hard enough.

Roll on the next year…

20140410_134538I’ve realised there are a few things on my Bucket List that can never technically be ticked off as they involve an on-going process rather than simply completing a single event…so I’m gonna cheat with this one…

No. 55 on my list is ‘Learn to Speak Turkish’ and since November 2013 I, along with a bunch of others, have been attending 2 lessons a week with a lovely lady called Angel who runs one of the local bars. This lady ain’t daft – we turn up for free lessons and end up running up bar bills which, of course, need to be paid.

Anyway, 6 months on and we’ve all completed the course, got our certificates (and a free Kit Kit) and I now feel like I have got to grips with some basic Turkish. No I can’t have a full blown row in the street with a Turk about the price of vegetables but I can order 999 mousakkas should I wish to, as well as tell a shop keeper (or my other half come to think of it) what I need, don’t need, want, don’t want, like, don’t like, have and don’t have. I can also tell the difference between a bread shop and a kitchen shop which saves embarrassment as well as quite a lot of money.

And thanks to Angel I’ve also learnt how to pronounce and spell some English words differently. Who knew that verb was actually spelt with a w, that ‘because’ is pronounced in a way that might suggest you have a large abode, or that ‘excuse me’ involves a squeeze?

And I can’t finish without mentioning Tarik, who filled in when Angel was on holiday – myself and the other students will never quite forget the different layers of clothing after encouraging him to remove his as he went along – not that he needed a lot of encouragement mind you.

I’m looking forward to the new classes that start in October but in the meantime I’m off to order 392 big red shoes just because I can…

 

If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know I’ve ticked off 3 of my Bucket List items in just over 4 days. But, hell, I could fit one more in couldn’t I?

I’ve cheated a bit as I’ve actually done this one twice before but it is still awesome even on the third visit.

On our last day Julie and I decided to go on a mini road trip so we hired a car and took the 2 hour drive (ok, it was meant to be an hour or so but we had a disagreement with the sat nav) to Niagara Falls.

If you’ve never been before, it is one of those rare places that wows you at first sight, much like the Grand Canyon and the Terracotta Army in China.

Julie, having not been there before, was a tad excited but she managed to contain herself until after she’d parked the car. We then headed round the corner and were greeted by more than 2 million litres of water per second pouring over the ‘horse shoe’. We’d timed it superbly to coincide with a gust of wind which resulted in us getting a little bit on the damp side.

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There are three other ways of getting wet here:

1. Do the Maid of the Mist tour which involves decking yourself out in a fetching blue plastic mac and taking a boat tour that goes right to the bottom of the falls.

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2. Do the ‘Walk Behind the Falls’ which involves decking yourself out in a fetching yellow plastic mac and venturing down a few tunnels which allow you to see the falls from ‘underneath’, you can then go to a platform at the side and get a really good soaking.

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3. Well, no. 3 isn’t recommended unless Superman happens to be lounging around the area in his pants.

After a spot of lunch overlooking the Falls we headed along a bit and left a bit to the local tourist area, Clifton Hill. Now, personally, I think this area is hideous – full of amusements arcades, fast food joints and gift shops. I am clearly the only one who thinks this though as not only were there a substantial amount of people enjoying the local attractions, but Julie was also bouncing up and down in excitement at the Haunted House, the Fudge Factory (ok, I might have got a little excited here too) and some place that had Jack Sparrow standing outside (not the real one unfortunately).

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I was allowed to indulge in a bit of refinement on the way from Niagara to the airport though as we stopped at the lovely town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. I highly recommend a pit stop here and wish we could have stayed longer. It is full of quaint shops, coffee houses and art galleries, we even witnessed a bridal procession.

But then it was time to make our way back to the UK, so we trundled back to the airport. Again we have a tiff with our sat nav and barely made it to the airport in time to appreciate the BA Executive Lounge that we had access to, although I did have time to be a bit light fingered in the snack area.

So that was the end of a holiday where I had managed to meet another Sian Midgley, do the CN Tower Edgewalk, meet a bunch of like-minded people, not to mention two staggeringly tall and handsome men at a Supernatural Convention, and visit one of the great Natural Wonders of the World – not bad for 4 and a bit days huh?

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