Reading

I was always a prolific reader, from childhood right through until an eye operation about 5 years ago, enjoying getting lost in other worlds and the companionship of the characters. However over the last few years I’ve read less and less, preferring the laziness of audiobooks and podcasts. In my previous ’50 before 50′ list I had a reading challenge and used one I found on Instagram, so I’ve decided to join in again. It’s aimed at reading 2 books per month, but I’m going to aim for 1 each month and to complete the challenge over the next couple of years. These are the prompts.

  1. With ‘Family’ in the title
  2. Goodreads 2021 winner
  3. Takes you on a journey
  4. With a heart on the cover
  5. Based on a true story
  6. Recommended by a friend
  7. Historical fiction
  8. About siblings
  9. Outside your comfort zone
  10. A holiday book
  11. Set in a different country than you live in
  12. With an animal on the cover
  13. A book with a beautiful cover
  14. Takes place on an island
  15. Free choice
  16. By a biopic author
  17. With a season in the title
  18. 2nd in a series
  19. A ‘new to you’ author
  20. More than 500 pages
  21. About a cult
  22. A book that became a movie
  23. A horror
  24. Re-read a childhood favourite
  25. Gold spine
  26. A book you read with a friend.

The challenge is #26bookswithbrenslibrary_xoxo on Instagram if you want to join in or look for ideas of books to read. I will keep you updated of the books I choose, some prompts are already calling and they will be easy to complete, whilst others will need thought, all be from one our local libraries.

Any recommendations ? You are all friends after all, so you can help with at least one prompt.

Muddy Puddles

With a lovely crisp and dry day, my mum and I decided to take Little lady P out to the park for a walk and to feed the ducks.

I look after her every week while her parents are at work, she’s just turned two and is a real character. She loves dinosaurs and I’ve recently bought her a dinosaur rain suit, which she loves. This rain suit was the best thing I’ve ever purchased. We decided to go a little further afield and visited one of our favourite parks, Sefton park. A very large park in Liverpool. It has several children’s play areas, a large lake with smaller ponds leading to it. Also large playing fields, running track and exercise areas.

We parked up and immediately she spotted a ‘muddy puddle’ and with her welly boots on she promptly started splashing and stomping her way through the park. It was all going well until she underestimated a muddy patch and was stuck up to her knees ! It was hilarious, ‘HELP HELP AUNTIE CLAIRE HELP !’

After this we took a walk to the play area and had a play on the swings and slide, but her favourite was a roundabout with a chair. She sat there whilst we pushed her round and round until our arms ached. She wanted a drink so we went to the cafe for a coffee, duck food and some chocolate buttons (we had a drink for her with us) then strolled down towards the lake to feed the ducks. Again she found some smaller puddles and had a great time splashing in these, with several people commenting on how much fun she was having.

The ducks were very feisty, its breeding season so the poor females were being hassled from all sides, whilst the males were fighting each other and eating very little too. We spotted a couple of little wrens in the bushes so threw some seeds for these birds too.

The little lady was starting to get tired so we made our way back to the car, kicking leaves and splashing puddles along the way, even grandma joined in proving you’re never too old to splash in puddles.

Another one ticked off the 100 list – kicking leaves on a nature walk – to see the full list click here https://claireschaoticmiddleage.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/the-100/

The Great Orme -Llandudno

This was one of my previous list ‘things to do before 50’ and on the current list – climb the Great Orme.

So with dry, but very windy weather we set off. We decided to walk through Happy Valley gardens, up towards the ski centre and then follow the road/tram tracks from there to the top.

The wind wasn’t very helpful as we were walking into it uphill. You could see the damage the recent storm had caused, many trees had come down and areas had been cordoned off. There were several goats taking advantage of the felled trees, stripping the bark. They are used to tourists and watched as we walked by.

It took us about half an hour to get to the ski centre, the wind was really chilly so we decided to stop, get a hot drink and get warmed up. This was a great idea until we got inside. The coffee machine was broken and this was the only source of hot water ! So after sitting for a little while, watching a group of little children having a ski lesson on the dry slope, we set off again.

We followed a small, muddy path behind the centre and after a short distance it opened up onto the Orme. We wandered along the marked path, onwards and upwards, occasionally blown backwards by the 30 mile per hour winds.

Along the way we saw the copper mines, closed for the winter season, and the halfway tram stop, again closed for winter. On we went with the knowledge that they had a coffee/gift shop at the top and somewhere to get warm. After the tram stop we decided to stick to the road (you can drive right up to the top, but where’s the fun in that) as this was slightly easier going than walking along the bumpy grass paths. Finally we saw it, the top and shop was in sight. It was windier up here but the hope of a hot drink spurred us on.

At the top there was a gift shop, toilets, and a coffee shop. As we walked around we could see a few people here, a couple of cars in the car park and a few walkers we had seen along the way. The euphoria of making it to the top, and the wonderful views soon crashed when it became apparent that all the buildings were closed. No where to get warmed up, we joked about asking for a lift back down but when we walked back towards the car park it was empty. Going back down was much quicker, with the wind behind us and pushing us along. We used a different route going down and it took us straight back into town.

We both agreed it was well worth the walk for the views, but next time we will use the tram or cable cars. We will return as there are many things we didn’t get to see and do.

To see the current list click here https://claireschaoticmiddleage.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/the-100/

Llandudno

After weeks of feeling rubbish and back and forward to doctors and hospital appointments, I just wanted to get away. My birthday was approaching so I asked Simon if he would join me for a couple of days in Llandudno, Wales.

My mum booked us in to a promenade bed and breakfast with a sea view, with good reviews and reasonable prices. I was due to be working on the Friday afternoon, but after a quick chat with my boss I was able to get the day off and Simon also did. So we set off mid morning and took a steady drive along the coast.

I’ve never been to Llandudno before but had heard lots of good things about the place. The weather forecast was dry but windy but I’d packed for rain, just in case. It took just over an hour to get there and we parked up right outside the B&B. I had seen online that the parking on the prom was pay and display but couldn’t see any signs or machines so decided to check with the owner first.

The check in time was 3pm but as it was only mid day we left the bags in the car and rang the bell. The owner (also called Simon) said the room was ready and he was happy for us to bring in the bags and gave us a quick tour of the accommodation. He confirmed that this part of the prom was also free parking, which was a bonus. The room was beautiful.

We dropped off the bags and decided to have a walk and explore. The promenade was wide, clean and quiet. It was quite windy and the tide was on it’s way out so a few brave souls were taking advantage, swimming and bodyboarding. Whilst walking along we found an Alice in Wonderland carved wooden statue of the Mad Hatter. It was one of several scattered around the town and we decided to try and find all of the carved ones before we left. This would prove to be harder than we imagined and required plenty of walking, in circles sometimes !

When we reached the end of the prom, at the start of the pier we decided to head inland and get something to drink. Tea of course, no trip with Simon would be complete without it. We found a little teashop, also Alice related. It seemed to be a big theme for the area but we couldn’t understand why. After a little Google it appeared that the girl, Alice Liddell who the story is based on visited the area. We slowly wandered back towards the accommodation. It was a lovely leisurely afternoon.

We arrived back and unpacked, got ourselves organised and decided to try out one of the local restaurants (recommended by the owner). The nearest was an Italian place, Carlo’s just round the corner. We arrived without a reservation and not expecting to get a table but they had space for two. The food was delicious, really tasty. All the fresh air and good food had wiped us out and we headed back to the room for a good night’s sleep, listening to the wind and waves.

The next morning it was windy, but again dry. The waves were amazing to watch. No one was swimming today.

We walked along the prom with the idea of going along the pier and enjoying fish and chips (one of list) but it was being used by a charity ‘Santa dash’ so instead we cheered them on instead.

It was a busy but relaxing weekend, full of fun with lots of laughter and chatting. All the fresh air and walking did us both good. The last morning was beautifully clear and again windy. We took our last stroll along the promenade, this time dodging waves and squid. We strolled up into Happy Valley and sat in the gardens looking down over the town. It was beautiful in the sunshine.

Another one checked off the list – stay in a B & B – to see the current list click here https://claireschaoticmiddleage.wordpress.com/2021/07/30/the-100/

Christmas 2021

After the uncertainty that was Christmas 2020, everyone was looking forward to a family Christmas again. However with the new strain and covid cases rising the fears of restrictions and lockdowns loomed. Thankfully these never happened, however as a family we followed the guidance to test regularly before meeting.

Christmas Eve was the usual quiet time, getting everything organised and ready for the crazy day to follow. It was also a late night with an anxious teenager, who finally settled and slept.

Christmas morning arrived and the festivities began. Unusually the teen was up by 10am and breakfast was a leisurely affair, then the presents were unwrapped. Sitting around the living room tree with Grandma and Grandpa and of course a very confused dog !

At lunchtime my brother, sister in law and Lady P arrived. The poor toddler was so tired and overwhelmed with everything so it was a quick lunch and nap time for her, whilst we opened more gifts and had Christmas dinner. There was lots of chatting, laughter and joy. They left shortly after Lady P woke up as my brother was working Christmas night.

The evening was quiet and calm. The teen helped pack his bags ready for Boxing Day with dad. The television was rubbish so it was music and computer games.

The teen always goes off to dads house on Boxing Day, so after he had gone I called round to see simon and exchange presents. We decided to make the most of the dry, clear day and went for a walk around Chester, visiting the cathedral and walking along the river. It was very quiet and beautiful.

Christmas 2021 was a calm, peaceful and enjoyable time with family and friends, here’s hoping for a peaceful new year and 2022