Saturday, 12 April 2014

Having a bath and exploring the Essex coast

Heybridge Basin: Essex Coast; Maldon; West Mersea; This Works; Five Lakes; Photoshop Express; The Company Shed; West Mersea Oyster Bar;
It's true, I had a bath. When you only have a shower the nicest thing about checking into a hotel is being able to have a bath and although rather 'loud', the bath was good - those taps were to die for! The Five Lakes in Maldon wouldn't have been my usual choice of hotel but they had a pool and a spa and offered really good value considering its the Easter break. The hotel totally accommodated the kids wants., the customer service was great and the mini This Works Sleep Kits were lovely.

The Five Lakes Hotel
How OTT are these taps! But I love 'em

The cream tea for two at The Five Lakes was enough for four
You may remember one of the things I wanted to do this year was explore the Essex Coast. So I was really happy that we could go off to check out Heybride Basin this week. The lock was built as the sea terminus for the Chemler and Blackwater River and with the plentiful work the village grew. Now there are around 150 yachts permanently moored at the basin, there are two pubs and a tea room run by Tiptree, the jam making people. We stopped there for a few more scones and they were so delicious!

A fishing boat at Heybridge Basin
We also went off to check out West Mersea. I really wanted to try some seafood at The Company Shed but we got there to late. We were also late for the West Mersea Oyster Bar but the staff saw our little sad faces and opened up the kitchen for us which was so nice. We were spotted by other later-comers and they got feed too. It was a shame I had to drive home, my lobster and chips would have been even better with a glass of champagne. Ohh and the scallops were de-lic-ious!!

Lobster and chips of course
The beach at West Mersea is beautiful. There is nothing there but sand, some boats and some marsh. I can see myself heading here with a flask, a good book and a fold up seat when I need an escape from reality.

I took loads of photos and I am going to make the effort to print them off and stick them in an album. All of these pictures were taken with my phone and they didn't even go through my favorite app PhotoShop Express.

So West Mersea lived up to my expectations, now decide where next......

Skimming stones never gets old

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Paris: a day trip

Paris; Paris in the spring; Eurostar; Eiffel Tower; Petit Palais; Paris Statue of Liberty; Vedettes De Paris; river boat cruise;
This time last week we were on the Eurostar heading towards Paris. I took advantage of a special offer over Christmas and thought it would be a good idea to take the boy to see the Eiffel Tower. And how lucky were we with the weather? Sping-time in Paris is always a good idea.

Lunch at the Petit Palais was delightful - the food was soo tasty. What is it about a simple quiche and salad in France that makes it taste so lovely? The Petit Palais is our favorite museum in Paris, built for an exhibition it is arrange around a courtyard and beautiful garden which the new cafe overlooks. Other than the Eiffel Tower we wanted to show the boy the little Statue of Liberty which stands in The Seine facing towards New York City.  Little Liberty is located beyond the usual tourist spots but is easily walkable along the river. She stands 72 feet tall, just one-forth of the size of her big sister on Ellis Island, who is a whopping 305ft. This statue is far from being a Parisian landmark but I love it.

The Statue of Liberty stands in the Jardin du Luxembourg which is home to an outdoor gym and a climbing wall. Paris has so many purpose built community activity spots. Everywhere you look along The Seine you see people riding stationery bicycles or enjoying outdoor dance classes. It's a lesson London could learn, it makes for great family time.

Our day trip was such a treat, apart from a totally awful river boat trip. We thought an hour long sight seeing trip would be nice way for the boy to see some landmarks without having to walk even more than he had. We booked onto a Vedettes De Paris 1 hour river boat cruise at the Eiffel Tower, took our seats with our coffee and sat back to relax. Relax we did not. The speakers on the boat were too small to hear any of the commentary. Every child on the cruise was crying, probably to drown out the noise of the shouty adults. I have no idea why people pay to go on a sightseeing trip if all they really want to do it shout at each other. We of course complained but unfortunately there was nothing the manager could do? A bunch of nonsense if you ask me but well - we got a good dose of Parisian rudeness that's for sure!  If you ever plan on taking a sightseeing boat trip in Paris - don't take this one! 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lighting up my life at The Good Life Centre

Bosch cordless Li-Ion battery drill; The Good Life Centre; The Goodlife Centre; make a lamp course; make a lamp class;
I made a lamp! 

I took a gifted vintage vase to a 'how to make lamp' course run by The Good Life Centre in Waterloo and turned it into a lamp.  Complete with a on off switch - very important. I have read loads of blogs that say making lamps is easy - it is when you know how and when you know you are doing it safely.

The course at The Good Life Centre lasts for three weeks. Class one was the theory and the difference between two and three core flex - it's those little things that are good to know so you don't give your family the shock of a life time. Week two we drilled holes in the kind of things you might want to make a lamp out of - in my case glass bottles and ceramics. I carefully put a hole in my vintage vase and checked the hole was big enough for the vintage style three core flex. 

In the week between class I ordered a cork stopper and brought some hollow pipe to secure the lamp holder in the top of the vase. And this week in the last class I assembled the lot. Tested it on the amp meter and phew - it worked! 

The lamp is not quite finished - I need to neaten up and stain the cork a little darker I think so it blends better with the dark brown tones of the vase. I also need to find the right lampshade. But yay me - I made a lamp that won't give anyone an electric shock! I have wanted to do this since about 1998 so for me I have achieved something special. 

Being busy all the time means I rarely give myself enough time to do all the creative things I want to do. I have a creative bucket list.  A three week class is just long enough to make something fabulous but short enough not to have too much impact on everything else you need to manage. The course notes are great and the tutors are so much fun. 

The only downside of this class is that I am now coveting a sexy new drill of the cordless variety, ours is about 25 years old and well - a bit vintage and very heavy. I also want insulted screwdrivers, amp meters and wire cutters.  

Hmmm sexy Bosch cordless Li-Ion battery drill
The Goodlife Centre is near Southwark Underground Station and the 'how to make a lamp' course costs around £150.00 and yes I totally recommend it.