Forest Holidays Break – Thanks to UGGSAustralia

I have just had an awesome weekend away with my wonderful husband, Greg, at the Forest Holidays site in the Forest of Dean, courtesy of a prize I won from UGGSAustralia.

This was the #SummerofUGGS comp and my prize consisted of £500 of UGGS shoes, a 4 day weekend break in a Forest Holidays Couples Hideaway, cost of fuel to get there and £300 of credit to spend on site.

We had an awesome time!

Amanda outside the Hideaway at Forest Holidays

Amanda outside the Hideaway at Forest Holidays

We had a very lazy few days. We had every good intention to walk miles in the local countryside, which did not really happen!

Amanda outside the Hideaway at Forest Holidays

Amanda outside the Hideaway at Forest Holidays

The call of the hot tub and the sunken bath was too much!

Amanda by the Hot Tub

Amanda by the Hot Tub

On the first day we walked from the Forest Retreat site to the viewpoint at Symonds Yat, which was about two miles in each direction. From the top, you can look across at the rocks and see the Peregrine Falcons nesting there.

From the top of Symmonds Yat, Forest of Dean

From the top of Symmonds Yat, Forest of Dean

On Sunday we did a circular walk down towards the river and then back up the hill.

On Saturday night we went on a night vision walk. The Ranger, Jerry, had a Barn Owl called The Professor and we were allowed to hold him and stroke him. He was so soft!

Amanda with The Professor

Amanda with The Professor

There are a lot of wild boar in the Forest of Dean and they come up to the cabins at night time. We heard them crashing about in the forest. I did not see any, although Greg says he saw one as he looked through  the Night Vision glasses.

The Forest of Dean is very ancient and there are all sorts of wild animals in the Forest, including several varieties of deer.

I was quite surprised to see some Redwood trees in the Forest and their bark felt like fur!

Redwood Trees in the Forest of Dean

Redwood Trees in the Forest of Dean

The wooden cabin we had was absolutely gorgeous. It was a real, luxurious Hideaway, with lots of extra treats provided, such as gorgeous bubble bath and chocolates and champagne.

It felt so nourishing to sit in the hottub and stare up at the beautiful Beech Tree that formed a large canopy over our cabin.

We ate mostly in the Forest Retreat café, where we indulged ourselves with a yummy cream tea.

Amanda with one of my gorgeous pairs of UGGS

Amanda with one of my gorgeous pairs of UGGS

On Sunday night, we had a Pizza Night, with fresh pizza delivered to the cabin. Greg lit the woodburner and we sat there, looking at the clear skies.

It was an awesome prize. We had a fabulous holiday. Thank you UGGSAustralia for this lovely prize. Thank you Forest Holidays Forest of Dean  for looking after us so well.

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4 Lessons on How to Change Direction in Life

4 Lessons on How to Change Direction in Life

A guest blog post written by Robert Reeve

You might wake up one morning and felt stuck in a rut. When you start closing in on the later parts of your life, it is easy to start feeling like life has gone by and you aren’t sure if you are heading in the right direction.

Things like children moving from home and looming retirement – it can all make you feel a bit uncertain and even afraid. But you don’t need to think your life is over. In fact, changing direction later in your life is not only possible, but it can also be extremely rewarding, and more people are doing it as they reach their late 40’s and early 50’s, with some doing it when they’re even older.

So, what are some of the life lessons you should know about changing direction in life at an older age?

Over-thinking Won’t Get You Anymore

Change isn’t easy and it most likely won’t ever be just plain sailing. You might have a few tumbles and you may want to go back to your normal routines after a while. But you can’t know what good might come out of it if you don’t just do it.

Hundreds of things might happen when you change your job or even if you move to a new house! Over-thinking about all the possibilities will just paralyse you and keep you from doing it. Instead, try to learn to get go.

You Have the Control

When you are faced with big life changes, like children moving out, it’s easy to think that life is moving too fast and you have no control. But you do have control over your own everyday actions!

Don’t be afraid to just look at what you want and doing it. You can’t know what happens the next day, but you can decide what you do today.

There is a great saying by Gandhi that goes like this: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Trust Yourself

It might sound like a cheesy, obvious statement, but as you get older, you do gain experience and a better understanding of yourself. If your heart is telling you that it yearns for more adventure, don’t deny the right just because you have previously been the kind of person that settles for comfort.

Trust your own inner voice, remain confident, and have faith in your ability to know what you want from life. Try out different things in smaller steps. If you feel like quitting your job and earning money by painting, just try it first and if you love waking up to paint each day, just step into the unknown!

Do What Makes You Happy

You should definitely stop doing things just out of responsibility. If you don’t wake up to work feeling happy, try to think what makes you feel sad? If you do feel a lot happier working around in the garden, start thinking about whether you can earn a living with your passion.

Don’t do things only because that’s expected of you. As long as you feel happy, the change will happen.

Sometimes you can the best way to change direction in life is by starting slowly. Once you do, you’ll feel amazing afterwards! Be brave and be happy!

Written by Robert Reeve for Reader’s Digest

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 11

Wednesday 24th June

Today I went to Cheddar Gorge, which is another famous Westcountry landmark. I parked part way down the Gorge and looked for the National Trust marker for the Gorge walk. I talked to some very helpful chaps who were working there and they gave me some good tips for a nice cafe in the village. They also suggested that I walk up to the top and down into the valley on one side and back up to the top and down to the starting point on the other side, as walking back up the road would not be quite the same.

Sounded like a great idea as I was setting off!

I walked 720 feet/ 255 metres, almost straight right up to the top of the gorge. I was getting some serious complaints from my calves as they were really not ready for that onslaught! The views from the top were spectacular and I took loads of photos.

I went as close to the edge as I dared to go before the little voice kicked in to tell me to step back a bit, as it was a bit windy up there.

It was only when I was on the other side looking across at the sheer cliffs could I really appreciate why my little voice was shouting loudly at me! Perhaps it was a bit of a drop!

I walked down one side of the gorge and came to the lookout tower and Jacob’s Ladder, which is 274 steps that leads directly down into the valley.

There were a group of people there who were fundraising for the Ghurka Trust and to be able to help the area of Nepal, where the Ghurkas come from, which has been affected by the recent Earthquake. The aim was to go up and down these 274 steps at least 20 times, which would be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. I went down the steps once and put some money in the bucket as my contribution!

After a yummy ice-cream break, I wandered up the valley to find the path to take me back up the other side of the Gorge. I stopped at the Lion’s Head Tea Room, which is aptly named as it sits right in front of a rock formation that is very sphinx-like in appearance.

I enjoyed a gorgeous pot of fresh loose tea, in a bone china tea pot and served on bone china crockery, and a large slice of aptly named “Rock Cake “ with butter. I have not had rock cakes in years. My Nan always used to make them with raspberry jam in them. I really like them because they are not as solid as a scone and not as fluffy as sponge cake. They really are somewhere in between.

Once I was suitably refreshed, I found the path, which led straight right up the side of the gorge, through the woodlands to the top. Yes, over 700 feet/255m from bottom to top! I had brought my walking poles with me today, as I thought they would help with the steep ascent and descent, but actually they were more of a hinderence than a help because I could not get my feet in sync with poles. I also found that I was not really swinging my arm with my garmin activity tracker on it, so I don’t think it registered all the steps and the miles that I did.

The path on this side of the gorge is a lot further away from the edge than it is on the other side. On this side it is well fenced and walled, whereas the other side, that I walked down, does not really have anything in way of boundaries.

My legs were seriously aching by the time I got back to the car, but I felt seriously proud of myself that I had completed it. I went back to the hotel for a shower and a rest. When Greg came back, we then went for dinner and for another walk because he had not been able to get out at lunchtime, so he had not done any steps.

In total, I walked xxxxxxx today and I was very glad to fall into my bed and go to sleep!

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#walk1000mile Challenge – Day 10

 Tuesday 23rd June

 This morning I walked up Glastonbury Tor. I had done some research and I had found some information on the tiered steps around the Tor. This apparently was part of an ancient labyrinth, which consisted of between five and seven circles, which formed a gradual upwards journey. The ritualistic walk was supposed to take between four and six hours to complete, however I don’t think I found the actual starting point. It was not clearly marked and I don’t think the owners are too keen on people straying off the well marked paths.

Glastonbury Tor is very ancient. It sits on some very powerful leylines and has long been associated with the energies of the Goddess and the Earth.

As I wandered up the slope, I decided to make this a little mini pilgrimage of my own and release old, no-longer-serving beliefs about myself and money and to allow myself to fully embrace the female energies of abundance.

I sat for ages on the top looking out over the valley in all directions. In the distance, I could see where they were setting everything up for Glastonbury Music Festival, which is this weekend. There was a real sense of peace and calm up there – although the flies started to get on my nerves after a while.

I wandered down the path on the other side of the Tor and round in a loop to come back to the Chalice Well and Gardens at the bottom of the path.

The spring waters here are said to have great healing properties, especially those from the Chalice Well itself.

I sat in the gardens for quite a while. Normally these are incredibly quiet and peaceful, however, today, there was a lot of noise from Festival Partygoers who had located themselves by the Spring outside the gardens.

I sat by the fountain that looks like the 7 chakras and munched my way through some really yummy Divine chocolate bars, which were dark chocolate and filled with caramel. I have never had those before and I shall be looking out for some bigger bars of those!

I went down into the town and sat outside a street cafe, with a large pot of tea, listening to a street musician, who was actually quite good!

In the evening we went over to Bath to see our daughter, Stephanie. After a meal, we went for a walk around the city. In the weir, there were some canoeists who were attempting to “ride the weir.” For those with long, pointed canoes, this was not that difficult. It was more of a challenge for those in a circular boat!

We walked along by the river and it was very pleasant.

Total distance walked today was 9.06 miles.

 

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 9

Monday 22nd June 2015

I went away on holiday for a few days with Greg, although he was working for most of it. I parked up at Wookey Hole in Somerset and decided to try to find the Ebbor Gorge, which is a gorge of scientific interest. I followed the signs as I came out of the car park and then must have missed the turning because I did not see another sign and did not end up going where I wanted to go. Instead I turned up a farm track and ended up right on the very top of the hill.

It was quite a steep climb to the top and I thought I would end up looking down on this gorge, but I didn’t. The views from the top of the hill were quite spectacular and I could see for miles, including right across the valley towards Glastonbury Tor.

I decided to make my way back in the direction of the village, with the view that I would be able to find a find back down.

As it was, I ended up looking down on the Wookey Hole park and coming down on the outside of the park, near the entrance to the Witch’s Cave. Not quite what I had planned, but a good walk nonetheless.  I ended up in the shop and treated myself to a very yummy Westcountry ice-cream.

I had to go into the City of Wells, which is only a couple of miles away, to post a letter, so I thought I would find myself a good coffee shop for a rest. I wandered around the Cathedral grounds for a while.

I ended up at “Strangers Coffee Shop,” which I had found by doing an online search for a coffee shop. It was the top rated coffee shop in Wells on Tripadvisor and I could quite see why. The coffee was gorgeous, the homemade lemon and raspberry cake was yummy and the owners were very passionate about their coffee.

That evening, Greg informed that he had not done his steps for the day, so he wanted to go for a walk that evening, so we had a nice little walk around the town where we were staying.

This brought my total mileage for the day to 9.59 miles.

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 8

Sunday 21st June 2015

I did not do a great deal of walking today. Greg spent most of the day re-laying the flags on the drive, so he burnt off his calories with some heavy lifting and moving his arms around.  One of the quirks of the activity tracker is that it actually measures how much you swing your arm about, rather than actual steps that your feet take – although it classes them as steps.

I walked up into town, but did not do much else, so today my total was only 3.5 miles.

After all the effort earlier in the week, this ended up being quite a sluggish weekend.

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#topTVdads Competition

This is my competition entry for the Currys PCWorld #topTVdads

My Top TV Dads are all from the halls of the Comedy Giants. I thought of all the dads, a combination of which would border on the insane, the dangerous and the out and out miserable. My five are thus:Frank Spencer

  • Harold Steptoe
  • Alf Garnett
  • Frank Spencer
  • Norman Stanley Fletcher
  • Ben Harper

Harold Steptoe for Steptoe and Son didn’t want to be parted from his son. This is the dad with hooks, there is no escape. The question was who would die first!

Alf Garnet from Till Death do us Part, was a very opinionated father. He did have values and beliefs that may not be to everyone taste which he gleefully preached. His daughter, not surprisingly, grows up equally opinionated. Always good for an argument!

Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do Have Them, as a father was very loving to his daughter and cared for her fondly. Unfortunately, situations always happened to him, and if his daughter manages to live through childhood, she would need to be indestructible.

Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge was the elusive father since he spent most of the time at her Majesty’s Pleasure. He could have been a good dad if he stopped getting nicked!

Ben Harper from My Family, is the father who wants everyone to leave so that he can get on with a bachelor lifestyle. His family knows how to annoy him though and just keep coming back.

These five Dads show how difficult it can be for a child to grow up sane and normal. In many ways these are the anti-dads. Unfortunately, most dads share a hint of all these characteristics. So children beware!

 

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 7

Saturday 20th June

Today was another sluggish day because I was not feeling at all well. I woke up full of the cold with a sore throat and actually slept until about 11am. I suppose I have released off a lot of stuff over the last few days and finally come to peace with the double glazing industry. I can finally look at my experiences of last year from a place a peace and gratitude, so that is a huge step forward.

I am actually now looking forward to going back to work and to starting to earn some money again. It has been a tough 6 months from a money point of view and my grand plan of winning the lottery and living a life of abundance, doing exactly what I want to do, did not quite come to fruition. My job will at least get us back in a place where we can do a lot of the things we want to do. I am starting to see positives and to look forward to the future with some optimism again.

Hopefully this might now start the winning streak again. I was quite disappointed with the results from June’s comping efforts, but then again, it was all a bit hit and miss as I was not very consistent with comp entries.

My body today felt very heavy and sluggish and it was a real effort to move anywhere.

We did go for a little walk around Pooley Nature Reserve and in total I walked 2.85 miles.

There were several cute duck families on the canal. One was on the water and came swimming rapidly over towards us when they saw us. I think we looked like ideal candidates for feeding them lots of bread, but unfortunately we did not have any.

Another duck family was on the canal bank and they were very keen to show us their best side for a photograph!

ducks at pooley copyright gregory goldston

From starting this challenges last Sunday, that has given me a total of 48.6 miles for the first week.

So, I am a bit ahead for the first week, however I need to keep that momentum going, to make sure that I stay over the 40 miles per week.

Have a great week.

Amanda

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 6

Friday 19th June 2015

Today was quite a sluggish day as I only ended up walking 3.60miles.

This was partly because I went for a job interview and got a new job and partly because I was feeling rather lethargic.

New Job

I was really pleased with to be offered a new job as a Sales Consultant with Everest Home Improvements and am looking forward to getting started. This is an industry I am familiar with and I am now working with the company that can legitimately claim to have the best products, as permitted by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

Walk away your Troubles

This also goes to show how walking really can clear negative experiences out of your system as I have spent several days clearing out my thoughts, feelings and judgments about a previous company. I knew I needed to come to a place of neutrality with it, to take responsibility for my own decisions and stop blaming others.

Once I was truly able to come to a place of being grateful for that previous opportunity, the people involved in it and the money I earned, then I knew I was ready to move onto something new.

I realised how low my confidence and self-esteem had fallen over the last six months, which, when I had combined that with excess eating and lack of movement, had not left me in the best of places.

When I came back from the interview, Greg commented on how much more confident I looked. I felt better in myself, apart from the cold that was starting. I had suspected it was coming because my throat felt like I had “swallowed a cold.” It was probably also a case of the end of a chapter and the start of something new. This is also combined with quite an intense build up of energy for the Summer solstice on Sunday 21st June.

Short Walk Around Stationfields

We went for a short walk around the Stationfields today, but I really was dragging myself along. Greg lit the fire for me and I curled up on the sofa and went to sleep. I was in bed by 11pm and slept until 10am the next day.

3.60 miles today.

Have an awesome day.

Amanda

 

 

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#walk1000miles Challenge Day 5

Amington Circular

Today I got up early, as Greg is at home and he needed to go to work, so I was en route for my walk by 8.15am. I think I am starting to get fitter as I walked for about 2 and ¼ hours and I covered around 5 miles. Quite a lot of this was through meadow areas where there was high grass and wildflowers. I was fortunate in that someone had obviously gone that way before me because there was quite a clearly defined path through the overgrown fields.

I walked along the fields past Stationfields in Tamworth and then headed towards Amington and the first possible place to cross the river. I then walked back on the other side, keeping as close to the river as I could, although the path sometimes came quite a way inland before going back towards the river.

It was a bit of a journey of discovery, as I was not quite sure where I was going to come out. We have previously walked part of this route, but not all of it. I was curious to see where I would be able to cross when I came to the railway bridges. I ended up going underneath two very low bridges and walking along the river, heading away from where I wanted to go!

I soon recognised where I was as I had come out at a part of Tamworth called Bolehall. I shall be very glad to get a phone with maps on it next week, so I have at least got some idea where I am and where the path is going to lead me.

This was a 5 mile circular route, which brought me back past the shops, which was good as I needed to stock up on Chocolate to go with our daily latte later on today, when Greg comes home.

Arms and Upper Body exercises

Before I went out, I did some exercises to tone up my back and chest muscles, as well as the flab that has accumulated under my arms. I used the dumbbells we have, without any weights, and realised how much tone and strength I have lost since I stopped going to the gym, as I could hardly move the weight before my arms were hurting and I was puffing.

Base Layer and Leggins

I have a lovely, stretchy base layer top, with long sleeves and I decided I would see if that still fitted me. This was with the idea of keeping my arms separate from my body in my clothes, so that my arms would not rub against the fat under my arms. To my surprise, it still fitted me, although it is a very snug fit. I found that, as I was walking along and swinging my arms, that this “well-fitting” top started to ride up over my stomach. This was combined with my “well-fitting” walking leggings that kept riding downwards, so I spent most of the walk with a rather cold, exposed stomach area.

Yes, my clothes were reminding me that I have out on weight, as both of these items fitted perfectly when I bought them last year!

Husband Approval

All this walking does seem to be paying off and the results are starting to be noticeable, even after a week. My husband commented on my shapely legs and observed that my stomach seemed flatter and my bottom looked more toned – and he approved! So that is a good thing and an excellent incentive to keep going!

Tyres

Greg had been trying to ring a man a tyre replacement place to book his car in to get the tyres changes, but he could not get hold of him by phone, so he asked me to walk down to the place and see if I could speak to the man in person. This was in Kettlebrook, which is just over a mile away from our house. I did this, only to get there and find the man was not there as he had had an altercation with a lawnmower and damaged his hands! Not much good for changing tyres.

By the time I got back I had already walked more than 8 miles for the day!

Further Walking for Greg’s Steps

Greg is also monitoring his activity levels and has two main goals for each day. These are to walk more than 10,000 steps and to cover more than 5 miles. In order to help him to achieve his goal for the day, we had another walk.

We went around the Stationfields again.

With additional moving around, I clocked up 12.45 miles today and 29,138 steps, so my little leggies are a bit tired!

Amanda

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