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WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 107 | MY OWN JUBILEE BEACON

I’m writing this weekly blog episode, well starting it anyway, sitting in my back garden. It’s about 8pm on bank holiday Thursday (we don’t get to say that very often), a beautifully warm and sunny evening, and I’ve got a fire going.

I was planning to, well thinking about, of going to the Jubilee beacon lighting up on Cleeve Hill this evening. While I’m not personally bothered about street parties and Jubilee celebrations (what a weird British quirk it all is), I do like the idea of a visible line of fire all over the country, and you know I love my local hill.  

A Personal Beacon

Chatting to a neighbour made me realise just how busy it would be this evening, and to be honest, I just wasn’t feeling that today. He didn’t put me off the event, but helped me decide I would much rather not be in the middle of any kind of melee this evening.

Instead, I instigated my plan B – and have my own fire at home. This one is dedicated just to me and the bag of marshmallows I had in the cupboard for just an occasion such as this. Shamefully, this is my first time using my fire pit this year, which is a very poor show to be honest. But there we are.

I don’t know what it is about fire, but I find it so very relaxing. When it’s controlled of course, I’m not a pyromaniac or anything like that(!). Campfires, fire pits, bonfires, all good. And I’m really enjoying this one, I should make sure it’s not too long until I do this again.

I even have a very British version of s’mores – that is, toasted marshmallows oozing between a couple of chocolate hobnobs. Honestly, with the exception of campfire baked bananas with marshmallows and chocolate (I don’t have any bananas), this is the best dessert. I wouldn’t have been able to create this at the beacon lighting!

But as it’s getting dark, I’ll shut off my laptop and return to my weekly blog in my normal writing slot of Sunday afternoon (and Monday evening!). It’ll be the next sentence for you, but a couple of days for me…

Traditional Bank Holiday

With the double bank holiday being created in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (dare I write “platty joobs”?!), there were heaps of events on all over the place. Town centres and parks everywhere had street parties and fairs and concerts and all kinds of other things. There was so much organised fun that it was hard to see how they would all be successful. But, certainly locally, it seems that these events have all been well attended and much fun has been had by all.

I spent my bank holiday at home, painting the spare room. In fairness, we bought the paint in November last year, and so this is more than a little overdue. It’s not my favourite way to spend my time, but it had to be done, we’ve been living with an unsightly tester post patchwork in there for over a year.

Going Grey

We haven’t gone for our normal bold colour this time (orange in the study, sage green in the main bedroom, dark teal in the dining room), it’s a subtle light grey (Dulux’s Polished Pebble). It wasn’t my first-choice colour, but I couldn’t find the shade of dusty pink or dirty yellow I had in my head anywhere. It’s okay, I like it, it’s a more classic look and makes the room feel light and airy.

I should admit it’s not quite finished. We may have run out of paint midway through. Oops! We also should have done the sealing coat of white on Friday, but didn’t get any further than prepping the walls. And we didn’t want to only paint this weekend. Never mind, I’ve now been to pick up another tin of Dulux, and we’ll get the last bits done over the next couple of days, ready for my mother-in-law to come and test out the room next weekend.

I think we can now say, four years after moving in, that we’ve painted all the walls in the house. Finally!

Date Nights

It’s been a while for a few reasons, but we’re back to our regular mid-week date nights. We’re simple folk – we like to eat good food, go for walks, and see films at the cinema. That and go on massive motorcycle road trips, but you know, we can’t do that every week!

Daphne Turkish Restaurant

Last week we tried a new-to-us restaurant in Cheltenham serving traditional Turkish and Mediterranean food – Daphne. I don’t think I’m over selling it when I say it was absolutely delicious. The super friendly owner talked us through the menu, which was full of lamb and fish and aubergine dishes, and we had a lovely and relaxed evening munching our way through three courses.

For my main I had the sea bass special, which was baked rolled fillets of sea bass stuffed with vegetables, served with a white wine and cream sauce. And for pudding (because I couldn’t resist), I had the Mele Lunga, which is a warm tart with apple, raisins, nuts and apricot.

Clearly no photos as we were too busy chatting and eating (I might have dabbled in food blogging once upon a time, but not these days), but do please take this as a recommendation from me to you for the next time you are looking for dinner in the Cheltenham area.

A cheeky reminder of Portugal

Top Gun Maverick

Until this week, we’ve not been to the cinema since the end of January 2020. I don’t need to explain why, I guess that’s self-explanatory. This week we went to see Top Gun Maverick at our local Cineworld, and thankfully, it was worth the wait.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of the long-awaited Top Gun sequel. It’s clearly doing very well at the box office, but that might have more to do with the timing of the release and the fact that we all love a bit of nostalgia, than it is about the quality of the movie. Some people absolutely love the film, others think it’s a bit, well, meh.

I really enjoyed it. It was what I anticipated and went hoping to see – an easy-to-watch, fun, old-fashioned action movie. It was full of nods to the original movie, had a suitably big soundtrack, and there were plenty of feel-good moments. There were certainly some slow bits where the story could have moved on a bit faster for my liking, but all in all, it was a great watch.

We saw the movie in 4DX 2D, so we sat in chairs that jiggle you around in time with the motion on the screen. It was the perfect movie to watch on that screen, even if that does mean you have to hold onto your popcorn super tightly!

Meet My New Transport

Bring on the water-based fun – I am now the happy owner of an inflatable kayak. Oh yes.

I’ve been thinking of getting one of these easy now-very-popular easy-to-store blow up boats for a while, having decided over a year ago that I would choose kayak over paddleboard. I love paddleboarding and know that’s definitely the “in” water sport right now, but there is something about kayaking that has had me since I was a kid, and so my decision is as much about what I wish I’d had for the last 30 years as it is about which craft I’d want to use more.

The primary reason I hadn’t yet committed was a genuine concern that I’d spend a bunch of money on one (these things are an investment), and then not be able to use it enough to make it worth it. But isn’t that always the base with outdoor gear? Or any purchase, really. Stuff is only worth the money if you use it regularly.

Aquaplanet

Cue a lovely email from Aquaplanet while I was away on holiday, and here I am, with a really great quality boat sat waiting for plenty of One Hour Outside (and beyond) adventures on the water.

I have this two-person kayak, which is a large and surprisingly rigid boat which is easy to inflate (easier than a paddleboard…) and packs away into it’s own backpack.

River Research

The fact this is a gifted bit of kit doesn’t negate the need and my desire to make sure I get plenty of use from it. I’ve been busy researching local launch sites, mapping days out with riverside lunch spots, finding campsites and hostels with easy water access, and listing the best sheltered bays to get my boat in the sea.

I’m not a novice kayaker, but have never had my own to play with before – I’m very excited to explore the UK in a different way over the coming months and years. I see myself bundling my kayak and tent in the boot of my car and heading off for short camping trips all over the country, maybe even stringing a bunch together in a kayak-focused road trip. Who knows where we’ll go together?!

Recommendations

If you’ve got recommendations for calm and beautiful places suitable for a nature-loving lady with an inflatable kayak, then I am all ears. And if you fancy meeting up to take me on a tour of your favourite spot, then let me know.

A massive thank you to Aquaplanet for my new mode of transport, I will let you all know how I get on with it.

What’s Happening in June?

I’m struggling to believe it’s June already, this year really is flying by – I really need life to slow down a little so I can make more of my heartbeats! Thankfully, I have a bunch of exciting mini adventures in my diary for this month, to make good use of the summer.

Summer Camping

I’m hoping the weather improves as this month goes on, as my Green Cone will be getting a couple of outings – it wouldn’t be summer without some camping, after wall.

First up will be a short camping trip in Wales so I can do a couple of short hikes along the Wales Coast Path. I’m heading to an area I have visited before but have never hiked in, and I’m looking forward to those sea views.

It’s second outing will be for the Adventure Bike Rider Festival, taking place towards the end of the month at the Ragley Hall Estate in Warwickshire. I’ve been invited to attend thanks to my love of motorcycle road tripping and my links with Robens (the people who make the Green Cone), which is pretty wonderful.

I’m not speaking or anything like that, just showing up to see what it’s all about. There will be talks and films and test rides, and hopefully lots of opportunity to top up the wanderlust. If you’re going, then maybe we’ll bump into each other – do say hello if you see me around.

Other Bits

What else? We’ve got our local village street fair next weekend, we have a couple of new-to-us local restaurants booked to try out, and I’m hoping I might get to see Dr Strange at the cinema before it closes.

And I really do need to find a day or two to get that new kayak into the water. I’m owed half a day at work for an evening event I ran, so maybe I should book a random morning and make it kayak christening day?! I should probably use that to finish painting the spare room, shouldn’t I? Sometimes being a sensible adult is far too boring! If only we had a four day long weekend every weekend… I could definitely manage a three-day working week.

Morning Pages

Journaling is something I’ve used on and off to help collect my thoughts. It’s normally my memory-fixing tool of choice when I’m travelling or hiking, because it helps me remember what we did, where and when, so I can more easily recall the experience when looking back at my photographs or writing blog posts on the trips. But I’ve also used it more generally – I wrote about 30 Days of Journaling and how it helped me to feel a bit more rounded during that month.

At the moment I’m in the early part (about ten days in) of a 30 Days of Morning Pages experiment. This is a specific type of journaling which asks the individual to spend a few minutes first thing each morning free flow writing. You’re supposed to write anything that comes into your head, using it as a tool to tap into your inner thoughts, allowing you to turn hard-to-describe feelings into sentences.

Inspired by Laura Try

I’ve heard of it before, but have been specifically inspired to try it out by Laura Try, who made a video about her experience using the technique.

I found a notebook, and have challenged myself to one page of free flow writing with my first cup of tea of the day. It’s not a diary like when I journal on a long-distance hike, but more a stream of consciousness. While the contents will never be read by anyone (ever…!), I’ll share something about how I find the process in a dedicated post next month.

Talking of dedicated posts, and in case you missed it, I published a post dedicated to my pony trekking experience at the weekend – hence it not being included in this weekly blog.

And with that, I think I’ll leave this weekly blog there. Hopefully next week I’ll return with a post telling you how I finished painting the spare room, enjoyed some Sri Lankan food, and had fun at our local village street fair. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have been out in my kayak. See you next time.   

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