Posted by: glenswatman | September 12, 2014

20140901-10 On the move Alton Towers Midlands and Yorkshire

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MONDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2014 – We’re woken early to the sound of a chain saw. They are taking down a tree near a lodge as it was becoming dangerous. I’ve had an ice bucket challenge from Netty so get set up outside. Steve videos whilst I do my spiel then turn around, remove my sarong and throw a bucket of iced water over myself before dashing straight off for a hot shower. Donating to Claire and Catherine’s marathon appeal for Anthony Nolan I hope that my efforts will encourage a few more donations. It starts raining just as I get back and continues to do so all day. Ian calls round for an afternoon cuppa and chat.

TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER – All the recent rain has highlighted a small leak near the door in the lounge. Steve gets the hose out to clean and flush the gutters and this leads on to us cleaning the whole side of the van and the windows after the dirt has run down. Steve thinks he can see the leak problem and calls round to Ian’s to borrow a bit of sealant. Ian’s due to go into hospital for an operation this afternoon and his wife Pauleen is really busy so Steve’s offers to take him. After we’ve dropped Ian off we park up and set out to walk over towards the University of East Anglia. More by good luck than judgement we discover a track that leads us to the large lake in front of the university. It’s a really popular spot with dog walkers, joggers and special platforms for the many fishermen. On the university side there are plenty of benches and BBQ’s and with the new university accommodation in blocks overlooking the lake it could easily be mistaken for a nice hotel. We call in for Steve to get his calming fix and a drink at the Big C. The evenings are starting to get cooler so I make a curtain for the front door by joining two of the old lounge ones. Both go over for a game of pool in the evening but the clubhouse is very quiet, maybe because today was Jill’s funeral and lots of people will have gone to that.

WEDNESDAY 3 SEPTEMBER – In Norwich I visit Denise’s other salon “sixty six”. Lauren sets to work on touching up my roots then putting a tint through to make it match the rest. Having tried to grow my hair long over the last 4 years I have finally come to the conclusion I have the wrong type of hair so put myself in Lauren’s hands for her to come up with a style to suit my hair and face. 3-hours later I emerge with a chic bob cut that should be much more manageable. I spend a couple of hours wandering round the shops and get my face made up whilst in Debenhams. When I arrive home Ian is round chatting to Steve. His op went well and he only has a tiny cut on his hand. After most visits to the hairdresser Steve says he can’t tell any different but that is not the case this time and he likes the new look.

THURSDAY 4 SEPTEMBER – We invite Dave, Sue & Ken, Richard and Janet round for elevenses, coffee and tea along with my homemade apple spelt cake. Time flies by as the conversation jumps from health to Merryhill to travel, naturist places abroad and more. In the afternoon I visit the surgery and Dr Fitzgerald prescribes some strong anti-biotics that I can take should I get ill on holiday with a temperature above 38C. She also mentions other things I can do to manage my possible IBS whilst away and agrees that my appointment with a private nutritionist is a good idea.

FRIDAY 5 SEPTEMBER – It’s been quite a challenge packing for the 2 week cruise holiday plus our weekend at “Alton Towers” theme park and a week visiting family and friends. On line I book us car hire for our 44 night trip to Spain in November, a bargain at £97 plus £38 for insurance excess cover. Receive the sad news that our friend Lin from Newport has died, her breast cancer had spread to her neck and eventually they could do no more to treat it. Having known her since when we were both pregnant with our first babies it is quite upsetting. I prepare a meal for Richie and Julie who have driven to Cambridge to pick up her new car and asked to visit us overnight. Unfortunately due to delays they don’t arrive until after 8pm. Julie is really taken with Merryhill and our static and keeps commenting on how nice everything is. Unfortunately Julie is a heavy snorer so Steve & I get little sleep.

SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMER- We’re aiming for an early departure and sat out having breakfast before 7am. Leave at 7.30am but half an hour we’re on our way back as I have forgotten the laptop bag which includes the passports. Until yesterday I was organised with everything spread out on the spare bed but clearing the bed some things were packed straight into the car whilst others moved out of the way including the laptop. Arrive at Alton Towers just after 12.00 and Claire is waiting for us as the others have gone ahead into the park. She’s not so keen on the thrill rides and happy to trundle round with us. Alton Towers is not a purpose made theme park so the different areas are well spread out with no connecting routes hence you spend about half your time walking, half the time queuing and a tiny fraction of time on the rides. We fit in Hex, the Ice Age 4 D. Experience, Oblivion and Congo River Rapids before we’ve had enough. We meet up with Richard who has got the keys to our complimentary hotel rooms (following Claire’s broken foot at the park last year). The Hotel has an explorer theme but we find the dark carpet in the rooms makes them look dull and small. It’s quite late once the “kids” have had their fill of the park so we book a table at the Paradise Cove Pizzeria in the adjoining “Splash Landings” Hotel. It’s really busy and they mess up our booking but we do end up with a free round of drinks. Daniel and I stay up late playing Canasta (he just beats me) and he shares our room along with his friend Alice. We may have got the short straw again as Daniel keeps us awake with his snoring.

SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER – We’re all up early to go into the buffet breakfast, mainly because hotel and annual pass holders get early admission to the park at 9am. Entering the park together Steve is the only one not to go on Nemesis and Air. Leaving Claire & Steve in that area the “thrill seekers” head to the new ride “Smiler” but when I’m not keen to stay with the others in the 80 minute queue so return to do some of the tamer rides. It is fun but our overall conclusion is that we really do prefer American style studio park rides. By 2.30pm Steve and I are heading off to Market Drayton. Visiting Bobby he tweaks a few things on my phone and laptop. Olivia is really growing up and with my new hairstyle she initially thinks I am Netty and calls me Grandma. We meet up at Ian & Netty’s to go to Wetherspoons where we join George & Nicole who are over from Adelaide. It’s been a few years since we saw them and they are now both retired and have plenty of stories of their caravan travels. With an invite to go back and visit them this re-enforces our plan to return to Australia in 2015/16 winter. Ian has recently qualified as a running coach and advises me that I really should be starting with 10 minute outings 3 times a week and of that walking for 1 minute and jogging for 1 in cycles – back to the drawing board.

MONDAY 8 SEPTEMBER – Netty has already gone out to look after Olivia by the time we get up but Ian doesn’t work on Monday’s so we sit together for breakfast. No sign of life when we get to Mum’s so we do a bit of shopping before returning to see her. She’s doing well although worryingly still losing weight. We take a walk around town which takes ages as she is constantly stopping to chat to people. After lunch we head to Telford to Steve’s sister Netty’s. She’s still unwell but doesn’t have her next appointment for 2 weeks. It’s really frustrating that she has to wait weeks for each test then again for the follow up appointment only to be told each time that they can’t find anything wrong and want to order more tests. In Newport at Paul & Elaine’s the invalid is sat out nursing her arm. A couple of weeks ago Elaine fell down the stairs at their daughters and badly broke her wrist necessitating surgery. It’s interesting that the older we get the larger the part of conversations are about medical problems. Final stop is a quick catch up with Carol and her news. Netty & Ian are out at a running club 5th anniversary BBQ tonight so I call in to Morrisons to pick up some food for us. Unfortunately all of the 20 or so fresh soups contain either onion, garlic or milk which I shouldn’t have so I end up with hot fresh chicken wings and BBQ ribs, not the most healthy under normal circumstances.

TUESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER – Netty is now Mum’s carer and goes round on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays to help where she can but today we take over the morning shift. Steve’s a bit weary so stays at Mum’s whilst I go out walking with her and stop for lunch at The Tudor House. Egg & chips works well for both of us. Netty has arrived by the time we get back so time for a quick family photo stop. Traffic on the motorway is pretty heavy but we reach The Fleece at Barkisland just after Jean & Arf have arrived in their motorhome. We are both homesick sitting in their van having a drink and chat so a new motorhome is on the cards for 2016 after our visit to Australia, you could say Steve is now really looking to the future positively. The Fleece has a superb location overlooking a valley and has 3 terraces outside but as the sun is setting we prefer to eat indoors. 2 courses for £13 is a good deal and they are really accommodating of my diet and serve my fish pan fried rather than in batter. All our meals are excellent and we have time for a really good chat and to hear about Jean & Arf’s winter touring plan. Even with our 2 upcoming cruises and Spain trip booked we are still a little envious. In Keighley we call in on M0m and Dad then head up to the studio. Finally I can unpack properly and we can be a little more settled as we are here for 4 nights.

WEDNESDAY 10 SEPTEMER – Mom has asked us to help with her getting a new carpet in the lounge so our friend Richard has agreed to come round. Unfortunately his visit arrives with Mom being at the Doctor’s but he is able to measure up and take me to the carpet shop where there is only one choice of green carpet in 5m width. Fortunately Mum comes back and likes the sample so orders it with fitting on Sunday. We both have a good wander around town and realise how much more we prefer Norwich to Keighley – no big surprise there. Early evening we go round to Richard’s just before Jane arrives back from work. He’s cooked me a jacket potato and chicken whilst everyone else has Mexican (which smells delicious). They are really getting into cruising now so we share lots of tips and cruise ship info. Richard’s sister Sharon arrives, she lives near Bath but her company have an office in Leeds that she has to visit occasionally. She’s also an avid traveller so we manage to avoid the medical conversation – does help that they are all younger than us!


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