Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Self build day one

Today was the official handover of our plot, so the hard work is beginning.
There are a couple of minor problems with the plot such as the water isn't currently connected, but next doors is fine so we can use theirs in the meantime.
A slightly bigger and heavier issue is that our 14 tons of topsoil are exactly in the way of where my greenhouse is going to go, so we have to move about half of it before we can put it up.

It might seem a bit strange to be so concerned about building a greenhouse, but it is going to double up as our welfare hut, so it needs to go up first. Where else can we drink our coffee and look at all of our plans.
I intend to take a photo of the plot every day, and this could go either way - it could get very boring, or could be an interesting time lapse effect, we will have to wait and see how progress goes.
This is the view from the front

And this is the back

All in all a very exciting and long awaited day, and we shared a bottle of champagne with Susan and Paul this evening.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Newark Half Marathon

Excellent cool day for a half marathon in Newark, but the strong winds were a bit of a worry.
We parked near the ancient castle and walked along the river towards the start line. There was a useful notice for visiting dogs that caught my eye, but fortunately no grrrrrowling dogs around at the time.

There was over 1,000 of us at the start and I said a quick goodbye to Darren and got a photo of us both looking fresh and cheerful.

The starting gun sounded and off we went, out on a big loop of Newark. The first four miles were straight into the wind and I could see that I was starting to struggle. It was a huge relief to reach the 90 degree corner and the wind disappeared completely.
There was a lot of support out on the route and lots of volunteers handing out jelly babies. These are my favorites, but I find it difficult to run and chew so thought that I would wait until the end.
Next it started slightly to rain which was nice and cooling, which was good as I was getting tired and not keeping to my hoped for pace. After another couple of miles it started to chuck it down, which was a bit much really and I got a tad mardy. It did help me to speed up though as I was so keen to get to the finish line and dry off.

Very relieved to get there and as soon as I stopped I felt really faint and had to have a quick lie down on the grass before chomping down some mini Mars bars and a banana.
Good finishing results from both of us and a nice medal and teeshirt, so a good if tiring morning out.
Ps, learning point for next time - eat the jelly babies.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Countdown to completion

We have just got back from viewing our plot and it is looking fantastic. The ground workers have finished and they are due to hand the plot over to Graven Hill on Friday. They have all of next week to check the dimensions and levels and all being well we are due to complete on Tuesday 20th.

The workers have taken way more of the clay out of the back garden so hopefully we will have less terracing to do, and it will end up as more of a gentle slope.
We also have a giant 14 ton pile of top soil to spread, so that should keep us busy for a while.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Kew to St Pancras

We set off from our hotel this morning to try to find a good place for breakfast. Just along the street was a very strange sight.

We had accidentally found the Brentford Project, and the whole of the road and the fencing on both sides had been painted bright blue, with strange quotes written everywhere.
Apparently sixty years ago the Thames flooded to the height of the blue paint, but we couldn't find out more because the information centre didn't open until ten am.
However, there was a fantastic coffee shop and I ate the best pain au chocolat of my whole life.
Later we set off on our Bromptons and cycled as close to the river as possible on our journey back to St Pancras Station.

It was a lovely if rather convoluted route, and then we caught the 15.34 back up north.

More from Kew

As well as the sculptures there was lots of other beautiful things to see at Kew.
It has a massive glass house that is kept at a steaming temperature and full to bursting with exotic plants.

You can also climb a spiral staircase to a raised walkway. After a few steps the heat increases and by the top it is just like a super hot sauna.
Fighting the urge to faint we rushed along to the stairs at the other end. I took a couple of photos but my camera was also struggling to cope and kept steaming up.

Once down at the bottom I rushed outside to cool down.
There is also a temperate greenhouse where we took the steps again, but it was a much more pleasant experience.

I think that the cacti  in this picture were in the modern Princess of Wales glasshouse. This had ten different zones and each doorway heralded a completely different temperature and type of plant.

I don't seem to have a photo of that greenhouse, but in the background is the small but impressive alpine house.
Finally, exhausted and on the way home, we found the Hive.
This is an interactive experience and you walk in to the centre of what a bee hive might look like to a bee. Individual lights come on as bees enter and leave and mood music plays in the background.
The Hive is linked to a real beehive in the gardens so it mirrors the comings and goings of the real bees.
I think so anyway, don't quote me on that as the display panel was a bit confusing.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Chihuly at Kew Gardens

We are staying in London for a couple of nights and our hotel is very close to Kew Gardens. We were really keen to visit, not just because I love a good garden, but because Dale Chihuly has a major exhibition there.
We have seen his work a couple of times in America, but he has really excelled himself this time. Absolutely gorgeous glass sculptures that fit beautifully in amongst the flowers and scenery.

Well, I think so. It's on until the 27th October if you don't believe me.

Brompton World Championships - second attempt

Back today for another Brompton World Championships. Last year I had no idea what to expect and chugged happily round waving to my supporters.
This year they were all elsewhere, so it was just me and Daz.

I borrowed his helmet because it matched my dress, and his bike because the gears are set higher and I could ride faster.
Lined up at the start with my fellow competitors I was feeling nervous.

The starting gun sounded and we charged off across the road, picked up our bikes and unfolded them. I got a bit stuck but sorted it out jumped on, although very near to the back of the field.

I was quickly feeling strong and started chasing down the field, even overtaking a few.

Not quite in the same league as the real racers who shot past in three huge pelotons at a terrifying speed.

I didn't try to hook up on to the back, but chugged on and managed a wave or two.

The finish was very chaotic with a couple of crashes, but I was nowhere near at the time. I was definitely faster than last year and even managed to Strava it. Just waiting now to hear my results.

Brilliant if a tiny bit scary event.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Bathroom bonanza

Yesterday I spotted a sign to say that the local Bathstore was closing down and that there was 70% off everything left in the shop. Today we cycled over as we thought that we might buy a toilet for the Welfare Hut on the plot.
Instead we got a bit carried away and bought one bath, three basins, three toilets, three towel radiators, two heated mirrors, one bathroom cabinet, one rainshower attachment, one standard shower attachment, four taps and all the bits, two soap dishes, one toothpaste mug and one toilet roll holder!

All in the space of about an hour and for around £1,400 excluding VAT.
Tomorrow we have to go back to take it all off the walls, and then we will probably have to hire a van to get it home!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Plot update

Very many thanks to Susan for stopping by our plot to take a couple of photos for us. Also thanks to Graven Hill who sent the drone up and got loads of fantastic aerial shots.

The outline is starting to appear and we are looking at the view of the front of our house from the pavement.

Our house is the outline to the left of the grey building.
The countdown is continuing and all being well the plot is handed over to us in about three weeks time.
How exciting.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Great Grimsby 10k

After our visit to Cleethorpes we drove to our hotel in Grimsby. We are staying in the newly renovated Wetherspoons Yarborough Hotel, and very smart it is too. The bedroom and ensuite have given us some ideas for our house build, and the ladies toilets in the pub are the smartest and fanciest that I have ever seen.
Unfortunately the same can't really be said about Grimsby Town, but we had a walk around and saw the sights.
Best was a beautiful fishing boat outside the fishing museum.

Moving on to today, we had a quick coffee and went to the start of the race.
Once again, as in a race nearby last year, our race numbers were number two and three, based on our surname. This race was much bigger and the competitor numbers went up to 4,000 and I noticed people looking at us in the mistaken belief that we must be elite runners.

We did well and overall Darren finished 320th and I was 921st, but somewhat short of our race numbers.
It was really hot and humid and I had a nightmare from about the 7th to the 10th kilometre, but all of that soon got forgotten, particularly with a pb each.
Mike paced Darren round to a fantastic 44.37, and I got 51.53.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Cleethorpes Promenade

Cleethorpes is only two hours drive from home, but we had never been here before.
The main reason that we went was because it is next door to Grimsby - more about that tomorrow.
I spotted that Cleethorpes is on the Meriden line and exactly north of Greenwich, so I wanted to visit the little line on the pavement. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain and we ended up accidentally paying £2 to park near to the pier.

It's rather short, but very pretty and there was even a few donkeys giving rides up and down the sand.
Of course I had to have an ice cream and very nice it was too - English butter toffee.

The tide was out so we only saw the sea from a distance, but we could also see right over to the other side of the estuary.
In the end we decided against walking up to the meridian line, so the best I can do is guess that we probably crossed it without realising quite where.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Richmond waterfalls

We are on our way home from our mini break and stopped off at the beautiful town of Richmond. None of us have been here before, but it seems like a good choice.
It has a lovely artisan shopping area in the old train station, so we parked up and set off to explore.

We walked along the river in a clear case of de ja vu dating back to Sunday.
Very different river views though, and a huge castle included as an optional extra.

Back to the Station shops and we bought loads of cakes, bread, beer, ice cream and a few goodies from the gift shop.
Quite a profitable day for Richmond.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Angel and Lady of the North

Arrived at our destination on the outskirts of Newcastle last night and had a big celebration dinner - with drinks - for Tina and Matt's anniversary. Felt a bit a bit delicate this morning, but we had to crack on as we had a busy day ahead. 
First stop was the Angel of the North. Apparently 33 million people pass by the statue every year, but we were some of the lucky few who stopped to explore.

I tried to take a selfie but kept pointing my camera in the wrong direction, so eventually Daz came to my rescue and just took a photo, very nicely framed too.

Here he is again sittings on the Angel's toes to give an idea of the scale.
Next stop was the lesser known Lady of the North at the Northumberlandia site. It is a 46 acre community park with a stunning landform of a reclining lady. So said the guidebook.
Tina said that she needed a good trim, and in reality you have to use your imagination to find her whole body.

Darren is taking this photo standing on her forehead with her nose in the centre. We are waving from one of her boobs, and way off in the distance are her knees.

In this photo you can see her face and nose on the top left, honestly.
Next up was the main event of the day, Alnwick Gardens. They were absolutely magnificent and everything was in full bloom.

Final stop was the pretty seaside town of Amble where we ate ice creams on the seafront. It's only now that I realise that I forgot to take a photo.