Saturday, 27 May 2017

Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight on Southend on Sea
When the children were little we used to go to Southend fairly frequently. We are only a 20 minute drive away and quite often on a Sunday afternoon we would spend the afternoon on the beach, blowing the cobwebs away, letting the children dig holes and throw stones into the sea.  We rarely visited during the summer months as it was too busy, but a couple of times we took them to Adventure Island with friends as a birthday treat and onto the pier (before it burned down in 2005) to have a ride on the train.
Consequently, when my friend Wendy, who grew up close to this area of Essex, asked if I would like to spend the afternoon in Southend with her and go down the pier as she had never been down it I was amazed that she had never been on the pier and quickly agreed. We roped in our friend Sue and arranged a date. I then had an email about the Poppies:Wave which was on in Shoeburyness so we added that onto the itinerary.
Saturday dawned beautifully sunny after a week of torrential rain – we are so lucky when we plan days out together, it is always sunny! We set off in the afternoon and our first stop was along the front at Shoeburyness. We parked up and then had a walk along the prom, past all the beach huts, down to Gunners Park where Poppies:Wave is at the end of Barge Pier. This is a sculpture by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper and is part part of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour of the iconic poppies which were on display at the Tower of London.

It was an incredibly blustery day, but with the sun shining it was lovely to see all the poppies and remember the sacrifices made by our brave men and women.

My biggest disappointment was how far away the poppies were from the platform. With a  good telephoto lens I got a reasonable photo, but it would have been nicer to have got closer.
Poppies:Wave is at Shoeburyness until June 25th.
Returning to the car we then drove down towards the pier and parked up at the Sealife Centre. It was HEAVING at this end of Southend! Peter Pan’s was extremely busy but had very nice, clean toilets which we took advantage of!
Entering the pier we climbed the stairs and began our walk – first stop the little hut where you have to pay! I didn’t remember having to pay to walk down the pier in the past, but I may be wrong! If you want to walk both ways it is £2 but we decided to walk to the end and get the train back – a handsome £4.50 each! The walk down the pier was a bit nerve wracking to be perfectly honest! I am a little scared of heights and although it wasn’t that high you could see through the planks and some of the planks looked very worn and there was that little nag at the back of my head saying ‘the plank is rotten and you are going to fall’! I am sure it is completely safe as they are not going to let people walk down there if it isn’t! It was also even more windy on the pier and we got blown about a bit!

The pier is 1.33miles long and we were ready for a cup of tea/coffee and a slice of cake when we arrived at the end!
The cafĂ© was reasonably priced – a cup of black coffee and a generous slice of very nice carrot cake was £5 and worth every penny! After resting our legs and getting our breath we went and had a look around the RNLI shop before heading to the little station to get the train back up the pier.

We had a great time – lots of laughs and plenty of walking. I can thoroughly recommend visiting Southend – it may be a bit ‘kiss me quick’ but there is a lot to do and not all of it is expensive! The Poppies:Wave is free to view and walking along the prom is also free and gives the opportunity for lots of people watching!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight on Penny!

Little did I know 26 years ago when I gave birth to a chubby little girl with a shock of jet black hair what a roller coaster of a ride we were going to have with her. 

On Tuesday we celebrated Penny's 26th birthday. It was actually her 2nd celebration as we had a family get together on Sunday at my Mum and Dad's. 

So yes, we celebrated. Celebrated the many obstacles she has had to overcome to get to this point in her life. Celebrated her as a complete person with (a very late diagnosis of) autism and borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety. Celebrated that she is taking control of her life. Celebrated that she has found exercise and healthy living and is making huge strides in her personal fitness, body shape and self-image. 

Celebrated that she found such a great friendship group through her wrestling obsession and that through wrestling she has also managed to incorporate her love of writing by writing articles for the programmes. 
Yes, this is Penny going to hit a wrestler! Photo credit TurningFace
Celebrated her academic success and the fact that she managed to get her BSc despite all the trouble she had at school with being bullied. Celebrated that she is doing so well with her MA. 
Penny with Ben at the front and her cousins behind - the first cousins photo for 5 years!

Yes, we celebrated her life to date and what a wonderful, caring, clever and funny young lady she has grown into. A young lady whom I am proud to call my daughter and my friend. 

Penny is quite happy for me to mention her disabilities and mental health issues - she blogs/Tweets/tumblr about them and gave me permission to talk about them on my blog. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight on ……
I am spoilt for choice! Where do I choose from our holiday to put the spotlight on? We went to so many lovely places and did so many lovely things. However the one activity that really was my favourite was our walks to Llanddywdyn Island.  We were living only a 5 minute drive away from Newborough Warren which is a National Nature Reserve and is made up of woodland, mudflats, dunes and beaches and just off the beach is a narrow finger of land which is cut off from the beach at high tide but during low tide is easily get at able. It was a magical place and I loved it! The first time we visited we went early evening as I had heard that the views as the sun sets are fantastic and I was not disappointed. We parked in the car park (which usually costs £4 but the barriers were up!) and took a long walk through the woods down to the beach.
Once we arrived at the beach we could see the island and the lighthouse at the end of it. We strolled through the dunes to reach the beach and then it was a lovely walk with views of Snowdonia to get across the causeway to the island.
The island itself was so peaceful! We ambled along the path and up a slight hill and there before us was the most perfect view of the tumbledown chapel, cross and lighthouse.
A short walk down the other side of the hill brought us to the St Dwynwen’s chapel – built in the 16th century on the ruins of a previous chapel. Through the window was the perfect view of the cross on the hill which was placed there for a celebration of Queen Victoria and just opposite the chapel was a wonderful Celtic cross.
Down from the chapel were a run of 4 cottages where the pilots used to live to guide boats through the Menai strait. On this evening we didn’t walk out to the lighthouse, but just admired it from the bottom of the steps! However we returned later in the week for another walk and actually went up to the lighthouse to look at the views from there – unfortunately you couldn’t get into the lighthouse but it was still fun to walk to.

So yes, this is a magical island which I don’t think I could ever tire of. We visited twice and I could have gone again and again! If you are ever in the area I highly recommend visiting – either for a sunset walk (but watch the tide times you don’t want to get stranded over night!) or during the day. We enjoyed both.