Decisions, days out, farewells & dating…

Hi all! Well I’m back from my break on the Kent Riviera, & fully recharged. What a thoroughly amazing few weeks I’ve had.  They were pretty intense, yet relaxed, and soooo busy!

My base for the first week was the stunning sleepy location of Tankerton.  Everything a English seaside should be & always was when i was a little girl.  I remember spending many happy summer holibobs in this area, and from the moment I parked the car and took my first breath of sea air all seemed right with the world.  I’m not ashamed to admit it brought a little tear to my eye.  The flat that was home for week one we as based right in the main high street & a stones throw from the seafront. Cosy, bright and clean – the perfect base.  After a long soak in the bath (novelty for me as I only have a shower now at home) I slept like a baby (well a quiet one!). 

Sammy the Seagull (not named by me I hasten to add, but a special little lady) & her crew were in fine squawk at 6am, so after a cuppa and a green smoothie it was time for a seafront run.  Tankerton is approximately 2km from Whitstable, so a perfect run distance there and back for me at the moment as I am slowly getting my distances back.   It really isn’t as easy as I hoped but I will get back up to 10k if it kills me (metaphorically speaking of course, that would be foolish). 

So off I set, sun shining, wind keeping me cool, a perfect perfect day.   I can’t remember the time I last felt so calm and relaxed, and dare I say it HAPPY! From nowhere the tears just started to pour from my eyes (thank god for sunglasses).  Sad? No, relief, Joy and calm.  

The next few days were spent catching up with some very special people, big & small, walks along the seafront, stone throwing, oyster eating, Chablis drinking and lots of special times.  Thank you to all who visited, I may not see you more than a few times a year but its always fun!

Tankerton made me feel at home.  The place, the wonderful friendly people, the fab cafes & bars, the wine shop (yes the wine shop) everyone wanted to chat and make me feel welcome.  Good honest people, enjoying life.  Made me sit back and wonder why I make life so complicated at times – it really doesn’t need to be.  One lovely lady in the tea room was serving a tapas platter with a glass of the best red wine I have ever tasted (yes yes, I know I have tried lots) for £8.99.  When i couldn’t eat it all, she wrapped up the block of cheese, packed me some olives & peppers & crackers so I didn’t have to cook that evening – good job as it was Great British Bake Off day!!  Kindness that really made me feel warm inside – or maybe it was the wine….

I had spent the day lying on the beach, just listening to the sea.  Eating crisps, dips and drinking tea out of a flask.  Perfect.  I get to travel to some of the most amazing places with work or with friends, but nothing felt so special as this did.  All in all it was a perfectly lovely day. 

Thursday came round and time to move onto a lovely seafront cottage in Herne Bay called Black Tulip Cottage, it truly is a beauty.  Big thanks to the owner for letting me stay.  Kindness is breeding it would seem…..I settled in nicely, and got an early night after a long soak in the tub ( I will use every bath I come across now).  It was needed as Friday was a tough one.

Friday.  Time for my closest friends and family to say goodbye to my beautiful parents.  I didn’t really know how I would react, or how the day would be.  Would anyone turn up?  Had I left it too long?  

Well, I still even now are gobsmacked.  I can not even begin to put into words what a beautiful and totes emotional day it was.  People came from miles away, and some near, but everyone made that day unforgettable.  People I haven’t seen for years, some since I was a kid.  We shares some stories, some tears, some laughs and some secrets.  I can not thank everyone enough, for all the texts, calls, cards, and those who came.  We finished the service with Gary Barlow’s song Let me Go.  Listen to the words, its exactly what we all felt.  Beautiful, exhausting and healing day.

The revelation of the day, which I knew a little bit of, is the truth behind my adoption.  For those of you who didn’t know I am adopted.  I always knew there was a story to it, as this was in the days that the adoption laws weren’t quite what they are today, and I know my parents looked after me before my official adoption.  Dad told a story where I had to see a family judge who asked me who I wanted to live with.  Dad had a bag of sweets under the table.  Never  in question!!!! Thats all I knew, and Im sure it wasn’t quite like that somehow, but I finally learnt the real story.  I won’t bore you all with the details, but my Mum and Dad basically rescued me from a horrible situation.  They came to visit me as a friend of the family knew I was in a place I shouldn’t have been.  They found me sitting on the floor in a nappy, with my so called carers throwing chips at me to feed me (certainly explains my obsession with chips).  I was severely malnourished and not being cared for properly.  There and then my Mum and Dad agreed to take me home with them a few days later.  They agonised over that decision, as it was without official permission, so they were risking everything.  But, friends backed them and I was in my new loving home within 48 hours.  

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it completes my story.  It proves even more how lucky I was to have those 2 amazing people in my life.  So thanks to all that assisted that, and to my 2 guardian angels – you had my back from day 1 till you left, but I know you still have me covered.  I am truly blessed and bloody unstoppable with those 2 around so watch out!!!!

The weekend was a quiet one spent sleeping, eating, walking and chilling out with one of my closest friends.  We had a lovely day out in Whitstable, Tankerton and a lazy Sunday in Folkestone at a beautiful restaurant called Rocksalt – please visit if in town!! Its a Mark Sargeant place, but was truly stunning.  Just what I needed.  Thoroughly spoilt and looked after and I can’t thank them enough.  THANK YOU!!!!!

As they left I realised its now time to get back to normal.  Get back home, finalise legal Spain stuff and get a house in Tankerton as soon as possible.  It will be a second home, somewhere for us all to share more special times together and a bolt hole for me to keep me sane once life gets back to full speed.  So off I went to register with the estate agents, and get planning – watch this space!

Another thing I needed to get back to is finding a bloke.  Well one thats sane, single and up for enjoying life.  Someone to share things with now I have my life back.

Now, some of my friends will probably choke on their tea or wine, but I registered with a dating website.  The whole dating website thing makes me cringe.  Whatever happened to the days where you would go out, have a drink, and a lovely (well sometimes) bloke would come and chat to you and ask for your number? Or am I just getting old! Maybe because we used to go out to pull, and now we go out to catch up with our friends rather than speak to others!!

So here goes.  I registered with one, filled out my profile,picked the kind of guy I would like to meet – no more than 7 years older than me (god that number was scary!), hard working, likes to go out, holidays, you get the drift.  I finished it all and stuck up a half decent photo of me and made myself sound fairly normal – and it seems that is where I went wrong.

Day 1 – e mail appears – Hey, you have a new fan!! exactly the kind of rubbish I expected, but still made my heart sink.  But stick with it Al, you never know….Until I opened the email.  Jim, 68 yrs old would love to meet you! I bet he would! Is that even legal?!?!?!? Delete.

Day 2- I get 4 new fans – all over 50.  And before you ask, yes I did say no older than 46 on my profile.  Obviously that was too much to ask for!  

This continued for several days, but then I got a very well written, polite email from a guy.  Could be of interest.  After a little chat we agreed to meet for lunch.  So off I went, having not ‘dated’ for a few years a little nervous.  I had agreed to meet Mr X outside a local bar.  As i walked towards the bar I was pleasantly surprised, seemed quite good looking, good vibe.  As I went to say Hi, he walked away.  Then someone tapped me on the shoulder & said “Hi Alison, nice to meet you”.  Narrowly averted disaster….. note to self, wait for someone to talk to you first……..

He was nice enough.  Not as nice as the guy I thought was my date.  He seemed kind, hard working, liked eating out (well when he could as seemed to be intolerant to every food group), blah blah blah.  I can get on with anyone, chat for England (as you all know), but when he announced that 10pm was his bedtime every night except Saturdays where he stays up till 12, I knew it was time to leave.   

I’ll keep trying.  Or maybe I won’t.  So if anyone has any single friends who would like to meet me, just let me know!! (Not holding my breath here…).  Until then, I am fine as I am.  I have a busy month travelling, the weddings of 2 of my closest friends and general loving life.

Anyway enough of my ramblings, off to see if I have any fans today, have a lovely week all!!!!


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Rough, tough week

Rough, tough, week…. 

Its been a tough ten days since we last spoke. Maybe I was a bit too complacent on how I was feeling. Or maybe its just one of those weeks where you just get through it, and start a new week with a positive mind set. 
It started with a wonderful break in the Countryside for a lovely evening and catch up with friends. I came home feeling refreshed and recharged. But then Monday came. Mondays are bad days for me, maybe as there is nothing real pressure to do anything.  So after a gym sweat out session, and a few hours sorting emails its a welcome early night. 
Tuesday comes, &  finally some fairly good news- the slow authorities in Spain have finalised the transfer of my parents estate to me after much chasing and pushing, but even now some of the details are not complete. Like ACTUALLY transferring it. That just added to the frustrations.  Back to the gym…… 
Post workout I feel great. So I decide to try making coodles. For those who do not know they are Courgette noodles. I had bought the spiralizer (to make veg into ribbons basically) 4 months ago.  About time to use it!  The results were amazing & totally yummy. With my own homemade pesto I was a very happy bunny. Literally felt like one with all the raw food!! But I thoroughly enjoyed it. The recipe is below is anyone fancies a try! 
 On that subject my diet is transformed, no reformed or artificial sugar, lots of fruit & veg all based on the principles of a Mediterranean diet. I can honestly say my body feels and looks the best for a long time. It has been so simple to do at home with a little willpower. My stomach is the flattest its ever been and the flab is starting to go. My energy levels are good and my shape is starting to change. 
But what happens when I go back to work? All the lunches, nights out, drinks.  Nothing. This is me now, and I am afraid people will have to accept it. I hope they still like me!! I think they will. Life’s just a bit different, but Im still the same me – a bit smaller, sober, & content – but me. I still like a glass or two of wine, or a G&T- so don’t panic (and chips of course).  
Wednesday – off to Yoga. Great class, can really start to feel the difference now. I bounce out of the class feeling so good. Next stop – to give blood. Im in and out in half hour, great. Home for a cuppa & a biscuit (National Blood Service SORT OUT THE POOR BISCUIT SELECTION, Rich Tea is not tempting peeps)  its off to meet my health mentor at the gym. Its a gorgeous day, so I decide to take the 20 minute walk. 
I don’t quite get there. I pass out in the High Street (totes embarrassing). I should know better, I always feel weak after giving blood! 
So back home Im not happy. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster, up one minute down the next. And that down mood has hung around now for 5 days. 
Thursday, feeling low, off i go for a haircut & to Somerset House to watch the premier of a foreign film called Two days, 1 night with my BFF. Great evening, amazing venue, G&Ts, glorious weather & amazing Company. I get home & can not settle.  Grumpy me resurfaces…..
Friday is meant to be a good day. I get to see the girls and their offsprings, all who I love dearly. They usually make me smile, play silly games, make me feel good. But not today. Back to the gym….. 
Feeling a but more cheery post workout its off to the pub for a gossip over dinner. Had a lovely time, then got home to an unwelcome email. One of those that makes you tense, but only when you are already half way there. 
Saturday comes & off to see some very good friends. Fab time as always, spoilt rotten again! One of those nights chatting about anything and everything. Just what I needed.  Thank you guys!
Then before I know where I am, its Monday again. Time to sort out all the paperwork and sign up Dads house to me. So now all thats left to do is sell the Spain residence & buy a place on the Kent coast in the Whitstable area. Thats my happy place. Even when its cold and raining, nothing makes me feel better than being there.  I spent many a weekend there with my parents, friends and family growing up & they were very happy times. 
I hope my Mum & Dad would approve of me buying a holiday place there. It will be an open house for all friends to come and stay for free, as well as a bolt hole for me to recharge from the weekly pressures.  Thats what they would want, everyone to relax & enjoy. So thats what we will do! 
Suddenly the emotions get me whilst watching DIY SOS and I find myself full on sobbing. (That bloomin program gets me every time).  For ages. So thats what the grumpiness needed – a bloody good cry.  I am not ashamed to admit it. 
I guess sometimes we just need a bad week to get us to appreciate the good weeks.  We cant always be at our best, but as long as we recognise it and try to get it out of our systems without taking it out on others around us, then all is good. 
Sorry to any of you who have had to put up with me this week, Ive been a grump. 
A hot cuppa Tuesday pre gym and a chat to a special Aunt makes me better today along with a totally indulgent dinner with a fabulous friend. Thank you. 
Its today the news of Robin Williams sad death emerges. Ive never been that down, but without my friends I can see how easy it could be. So take the time to call a mate you haven’t spoken to in a while. Just let them know you are there. If we are not here to help and look after each other what on earth is the point?
So after Yoga today off I go to recharge for 2 weeks, visit lots of you all, and look for a beautiful new home for us all. 
I’ll Keep you all posted!!! 
Here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed this week:
Coodles with perfect pesto
Serves 1
1 large courgette spiralised 
1 small bunch of basil (small packet from supermarket) 
A handful of pine nuts (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove of garlic
Salt & pepper (a pinch of each) 
Water to help achieve your desired consistency. 
15g of Parmesan cheese 
Put all the ingredients for the pesto into a blender or food processor & whizz away until you get your desired level of chunky texture. About 30 seconds gives a smooth pesto. Use a splash of water if needed. 
Mix thoroughly through your Coodles, serve with a green salad & a large Soda Water with Lime (or Wine!)
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Find of the fortnight
Coffee Bags – what took then so long! Brill invention. Leave to brew for 5 minutes for the perfect coffee. Game changer!! 
Kindness of the week
Thank you. Made me smile again!!
See you all soon!!

Slow times, and a to do list……..

The last two weeks have been strange.
Theres not been much in way of stuff & I’ve spent the majority of it with just me myself & I. It’s been a good opportunity to get to know me again.
The first week started slowly, gym, sunbathing, sleep. Sounds lovely right? It was, but the brain has begun to catch up with the rest of me, it has realised the dramas have gone & it can relax from protecting the body.
As a consenquence that has slowed me down massively. Physically im much slower than usual, everything is harder than usual, but luckily my new personal trainer is a lifesaver. He is the trainer for all the Holistic stuff at the gym & totally knows what I need to do. Normally when I go the the gym or train its all fast, hard exercise till I drop. There still is 3 sessions of that a week but there is also stuff to relax & rest – and Yoga has become my new best friend forever.
Yoga makes sense to me, controlled movements, breathing deeply. Mind you, the first time I did it I was awful! Its all in the breathing and stretching, & I am not the most bendy (no rude comments please!) but after a few sessions I am already making progress!! (Still not bendy enough though!). It really does makes me feel calm, peaceful, full of energy & happy.
I am also being made to have rest days – they still make me feel guilty! It doesnt seem right to take a day to just relax, walk, potter & sleep. Im not sure I will ever get used to that but the results speak for themselves. 1.2kg lost in 10 days. Boom. But far more important than that, I feel amazing.
As a natural progression I want to eat well, Im not craving all the carbs I did before, or the sweet stuff I ate just to keep me going. Dont worry, I still love love love food, but its all a balance. ( loving cooking healthy treats, so watch this space!).
When I finished work I wrote a to do list of things I wanted to do while I was off (I do love a list).  It was 62 items long. From calling a friend I hadn’t spoken to for years to major things like sorting health care, house stuff etc.  The list was 2 pages long and it seemed daunting to say the least. But with no time pressure that list is now down to 7 items – you might say how did you do it? I mean some of those things have been there for at least a year. Well, when I was in Italy the Doc said to me “when you wake, get up & get the jobs done for that day-then you can do the things that make you happy”. Not rocket science hey! So now I am up at 8am everyday without an alarm, and off I go.  I give myself a task a day from the list and usually end up doing at least 2.
So now i am slowly getting back to the new & improved Al, other thoughts begin to show themselves.   I am thinking of future plans with great excitement, but after all the recent dramas i start to think about what happens if Im not here anymore? Who looks after all my estate (shoes/handbags).  Who is my next of kin? That adds a big item to the to do list – a Will & a funeral plan. Mum didnt have a will & it caused a lot of problems sorting things out for Dad. Dad did have a will, & it made things so much easier. Now Im sitting here, without any close next of kin or a will.   For someone so organised this is unacceptable! So off I go to get a will made..
What a suprisingly easy and reassuring process it was! I cant recommend it highly enough from both sides of the fence so to speak. The last thing you want is your loved ones having any more stress and drama when you go, & I can not beg you all enough to go and make a will. Not only that but sit down with your nearest and tell them what you want to happen to you when you die. I know its scary, & no one wants to think about it, but do you want to end up in the ground instead of scattered? If so where? Its your final bow, so make sure you have rehearsed it properly. Now i know if anything happens to me my affairs will be fairly easy to sort out – although no fighting over the Victoria Beckham handbag you lot………
The last week has been spent catching up with some old friends. Friends I havent seen for years. Childhood friends. The most amazing thing is when I see them its like we only chatted the day before, we just pick up where we left off. Thats what friendships should be. We all grow up and our lives take different directions – families, jobs, travels – but those people are always there. Maybe only on Skype or the phone & email, but they are there.
So although I may only have a few close family members Some of who I dont even speak to anymore for many reasons, I have a huge family. My friends. Some old, some new, some borrowed but none blue (except the Smurfs of course who I LOVE). Each and everyone of them are like family to me & that makes me the luckiest girl around.
Today I have had one of my blogs published on a travel website, I am so thrilled!  Maybe its the start of something new…..
See you all in a fortnight!