Tuesday 27 April 2021

Secret Path to the Severn Crossing

In the month before we had our frozen embryo transfer back in 2015 (which ended up working) we had a couple of good holidays. One road trip after Easter from North Wales back home via the Severn Valley Railway and Stratford upon Avon. The other a long weekend in Barry Island seeing all the Gavin and Stacey sights (which I did actually manage to write a blog post about back in 2017). I took lots of pictures in lots of places and then never really found time to share them. This is one of the things I was going to write about. 

So did you know you can get out onto the old 1966 Severn Bridge and (if you really want to), walk all the way across it? (or at least you could back in 2015, I haven't actually been back to check since so this whole blog post could be misinformation).

Anyway, drive to Severn View Services (which is accessible from both directions on the M48) and park in the car park. From there you can take a short walk to the offical Severn Bridge viewpoint for great views of the bridge and water. Once you've finished at the viewpoint walk back towards the services building (keeping the building on your left) and on your right, there's a little public footpath down some steps which takes you over the motorway. On the other side, turn right onto Bridge Access Road and then you can walk out onto the bridge. If you really wanted to, you could stroll all the way across to Chepstow. 

We didn't go that far across, just far enough to see the views and take some pictures. It's pretty chilly up on the bridge and also, far more bouncy than you'd expect! 

There's a good bit of history about the bridge on the Institute of Civil Engineers website - it was completed in 1966 replacing the Aust car ferry which could only take 19 vehicles at a time. By the mid 1990's it was carrying over 20,000 vehicles a day hence why a second bridge was needed. The Second Severn Crossing (officially known as the Prince of Wales Bridge) opened in 1996 but sadly there's no public footpaths across that one!

Tuesday 20 April 2021

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 17th April 2021

Last Saturday, the 17th was the date set for April's photo an hour. It was a lovely sunny day and we spent most of it in the garden, with the radio on for a bit at 3pm to listen to the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral. 

Here's what the day looked like...

This month, 7 lovely people joined in:

Christine from Christine Lucas on Instagram
Josie on Instagram
Hazel from World of Joy on Instagram
And myself on Instagram and this blog post :-) 

May's Photo an Hour date is Saturday 22nd - see you there!

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Our Easter Holiday at Home

I don't really like the word 'staycation'. According to Merriam-Webster the word dates back to the 1940's but I'm sure it always used to mean a holiday spent at home. Nowdays it seems like far too many people, the media, politicians, etc use it as a catch-all for simply having a holiday in the UK. Even the various dictionaries online, Oxford, Cambridge, Collins, all have one definition as holidaying in your own country. Surely if you're leaving your home to go on holiday, regardless of the destination, whether it's Greece or Grimsby, it's still *an actual holiday*. Not a staycation. I don't know, perhaps I'm just remembering wrong. 

Anyway we actually did have a traditional 'staycation' over the Easter holidays - or a 'holiday at home' which I think is a much nicer phrase. 

Normally we'd be in Wales over Easter at a place we've visited every year since 1987. I was only 4 when we first went and the owners of the site we stay at have seen me and my brother grow up, right through to the next generation - Lily- coming along on holiday too. We stay in 2 holiday cottages now though rather than share one with my parents. 

Last year it just felt a bit strange staying home. We weren't yet a month into the first lockdown and we had great weather so just played outside and rebuilt the garden and veg patch. This year for Easter, with the 'stay at home' restrictions lifted, we were able to have some day trips. And although the guidance says 'minimise travel' there's nothing in England's COVID legislation restricting (domestic) travel so we were free to travel wherever we liked for whatever reason, provided we didn't break the 'gathering' bit of the legislation (as an aside, if you're on Twitter, Adam Wagner is an excellent person to follow, he's a human rights barrister who's been keeping track of the changes to COVID legislation since March 2020 (I think over 70 changes so far). He's also brilliant at answering people's questions about law and guidance and explains things in a really easy-to-understand way).

For our holiday at home, we ended up with rather good weather for the whole week really, a bit cold perhaps but at least it wasn't raining. 

We did day trips to:

- Clevedon and Portishead, doing a 2.5 mile walk around the woods in Portishead finishing off with a playground, ice cream and fish & chips.

- the New Forest to see the ponies and tall trees and Southampton to see the huge cruise ships (of course we found a playground there too).

- Teignmouth to meet Andrew's sister, doing a 2.5 mile history walk around the town centre and harbour. We had ice cream, strolled along the prom, visited the playground and had fish & chips for dinner. 

And took picnics:

- to Chew Valley Lake to see the ducks and buy an ice cream. 

- on a 5 mile walk around the local area, crossing fields, going through woods and finding secret footpaths. 

- to Westbury White Horse to see the grandparents where we had ice cream, found geocaches and did a 3.5 mile walk around the hill fort. 

- to Burnham on Sea beach for sandcastle-building and more chips!

- on a 4 mile walk around the local area, following the old railway lines around the area. 

We also had a family Easter lunch outside in the sun complete with Easter egg hunt and a (rather chilly) picnic in the garden later in the week. 

I've written on here before about geocaching (back in 2017); it's quite an interesting and fun thing to do, especially when you're out and about in different places. We found quite a few geocaches while we were out on our day trips. 

I also found an app called ViewRanger which lets you plan walks and see walks other people have created. I'm sure it's one everyone already knows about and I'm late to the party but still, it's quite good. I think the app's possibly going to be retired at some point in the future but it seems to work well at the moment. We used some trails other people had created and also made some of our own. The trail we did in Teignmouth was rather good as it was created by the Royal Geographical Society and had lots of information about the history of the town that you could read or listen to as you followed the route. Anyway, it's an app I'd recommend. 

What did you get up to at Easter? 



Wednesday 7 April 2021

A Year Without Theatre - My 'Shows I've Seen' Project

So you might have spotted from the photo an hour pictures from last year, I spent a good deal of time sorting, tidying and cleaning. One thing I sorted out was all my theatre programmes, tickets, brochures, leaflets and stuff. 

One of my favourite shows, Kneehigh Theatre's 'Midnight's Pumpkin' at Battersea Arts Centre in December 2012

My mum started taking me to theatre shows when I was quite young. One of the earliest shows I remember was 'The Importance of Being Earnest' at Devizes Wharf Theatre, sitting up high near the top of the tiered seating. In reality it probably wasn't that far up, I was probably just quite small! Another show was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Merlin Theatre in Frome. It seemed like we used to go to the Merlin quite often. If I came home from school and my mum told me to choose some nice clothes, then I knew we were more than likely going out to see a show. 

We used to go to the local panto each year in Bath too at the Theatre Royal and I loved the plushness of the auditorium. I think theatres have a certain smell - the greasepaint maybe or perhaps it's just the sweat of the crowd and performers - whatever it is, it's fairly magical. I love the fact that what you're seeing is live right there in front of you, no second takes or anything. And I love the fact you can see the same show more than once and it can be different each time or you notice little extra bits in the set, movement or script. If I love a show, I try and see it more than once - the shows that take the record for 'most times seen' are Kneehigh's 'Tristan and Yseult' at 14 times (over 14 years) and the musical, 'Rent' at 17 times (over 15 years). 

I know my mum started taking me to the theatre when I was quite young because around 1994/1995 (about 12/13 years old) I started keeping a list of the shows I'd seen and there were some (like 'Earnest' and 'Dream') that I couldn't remember the exact dates for. At first my list was simply keeping all my theatre tickets in a box and writing things on paper but eventually it morphed into a spreadsheet which I still keep updated now. My definition of "show" is theatre, stand up comedy or music gig and my spreadsheet currently tallies 567 times I've been to one. It's probably slightly higher though as there's some late 80's/early 90's shows I don't remember. 

I should have kept a list of all the bands and artists I'd seen at Glastonbury too but I didn't and now I can't remember all of them. I've worked at every Glastonbury Festival since 2004 so there's quite a few! Some of the best performances were Arcade Fire in 2014, Muse in 2010 and Florence & the Machine in 2009. 

When Lily was born in 2016 I added an extra tab to my spreadsheet to keep track of the shows she'd seen. I don't know if she'll actually be interested when she's older but it doesn't take any effort to note them down, just in case. Interestingly, for someone who only turned 5 this year, she's already seen 73 shows, been to 3 Glastonbury Festivals and to 3 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. 

Anyway, I miss live theatre. And whilst sorting out all my tickets and stuff, I thought it'd be nice to share these memories and anecdotes with other people. One extra thing I'd done with my spreadsheet is as well as simply writing down what show, where and on what date, I'd also kept a log of what days I'd seen them on. I had this silly idea at university which greatly amused me - I wondered if over the years I could see a show on every day of the year? (or almost every day as it's unlikely I'll ever be able to see a show on 25th Dec). So far, the tally is up to 239 days out of a possible 366 - which works out as 65.3% of the year. 

So I wrote an 8 tweet thread on Twitter (here if anyone wants to read it) explaining what I'd done with my spreadsheet for the last 25 years or so and then started a thread of #ShowsIveSeen tagging in the relevant theatres or venues and performers or companies and adding in any anecdotes or pictures. The idea was to add to the thread on each day I'd seen a show, using the information from my spreadsheet. I started on 7th June 2020 and possibly rather optimistically, wondered if life would be back to some kind of normal by the time the whole year had passed. In the first couple of months of 2020, I managed to see 9 shows and the last one I saw live was Mark Thomas at the Merlin Theatre in Frome on 7th March 2020. Even then, it felt a bit weird sitting with everyone else and I remember waiting in the queue for the toilet and watching people *still* not washing their hands. 

My Twitter thread seems to be being appreciated; lots of venues like my tweets and sometimes performers too. As you can see, I've had a few replies as well which is absolutely lovely. I've done 10 months of tweets now and the thread is rather long. I don't know if anyone else is interested really but it's kept me amused over the last year - I've enjoyed remembering the shows I've been to and sharing my pictures.

Anyway there's not really much point to this post except to a) explain what I've been doing on Twitter in case anyone has spotted my tweets and thought "what on earth is this?" and b) show off the celebrity replies I've had :-) 


Friday 2 April 2021

A Photo Every Hour - January to March 2021

And sliding into 2021, with the first three months spent in another lockdown. Ah well, needs must, there's still things to photograph :-)

16th January 2021 - Was mostly spent tidying up and cooking although Lily did enjoy watching The Snow Queen show from CBeebies and learning about the story. The highlight of the day was collecting our click & collect order from Tesco!

20th February 2021 - We did a mammoth clean up in Lily's bedroom sorting out lots of toys and changing around the furniture (she used to have a floor bed, now she has her own double bed, bedside table and DAB radio to listen to the Fun Kids Radio channel). 

20th March 2021 - The weather was beginning to brighten up and we went out for a walk and bike ride finding minibeasts and fairy doors. Back at home we made a minibeast hotel and in the evening, filled out our census form. 

There's still a little band of lovely people dipping in and out of photo an hour each month on Instagram, Twitter and on blogs. 

Sarah from Sarah Rooftops on Instagram

Naomi from What Naomi Did Next on Instagram

Bev from Confuzzledom on Instagram, Twitter and her blog

Jennifer from Pastry and Purls on Instagram

Jane from Is That You Darling on Instagram

Jennifer on Instagram 

Hazel from World of Joy on Instagram and on her blog

Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines on Instagram

Kezzie from KezzieAG on Instagram

Josie on Instagram

Susie from Second Hand Susie on Instagram

And myself on Instagram and this blog

Give me a shout if you join in and I've missed you! 

If you fancy taking part, here's the rest of the dates for 2021. All you have to do is take a picture every hour on the allotted day and post it somewhere with the hashtag #photoanhour  It's always interesting to see what everyone else is getting up to and how their days are going :-)

Maybe see you on April 17th for the next photo an hour? :-) 

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