Monday, 19 May 2014

Exotic Walkin Centres.

Oh yes. Remember when I went to the Isle Of Wight and ended up at the Walkin Centre there? Well last week I visited Weston-Super-Mare and their Walkin Centre and I must admit, it's one of the nicest I've been to. But before I get to that shall I start with actual holiday stuff??

So, of course it was another coach trip and this time I went with Singing Bird and it was lovely all over! We were originally staying in either one of two hotels in Weston itself (cheaper not to know which and that suits us fine) the week before last but every single holiday got cancelled for lack of interest (I've always been on the week of the May bank holiday before now and it's always been a quiet holiday but this one, the week after, wasn't so maybe they're onto something...). We had a few choices for holidays to take and they would pay the difference and we ummed and ahhed a little but settled on Sand Bay the week after. I'm sure at the time we had no idea that Sand Bay was just down the road from Weston (at least I didn't) but definitely neither of us knew it was a Pontins. Haha! So not my thing!!! Or Bird's for that matter. But actually, as Bird is with wheelie-walker it was really pretty cool to have an accessible building altered specifically for old people in mind - made everything just that much smoother and out of all of the professionals/workers we encountered throughout the holiday they were definitely the most accommodating.

And the BEST thing?! IT HAD A BLOODY POOL!!! After booking Weston, just for the sea, which as my Dad kept reminding me isn't really a sea or is only a sea some of the time because it's actually an estuary, is also known as Weston-Super-Mud and is not really cut out for swimming...

Yeeeeeeeeah. Swimming? Not so much. 

But swimming  is what all of my holidays are about! So I was MEGA please to find it had a pool and I was expecting a tiny little thing but actually it was a good size pool - maybe 25 metres? So not massive but good enough. On the first day we got to our chalets at around 4.30 and the pool closed at 5 so I rushed around and managed 20 lengths before dinner. So refreshing. Lovely!

Then we had a wander out to the beach which was probably 150 maybe 200 metres away. Just up a little path and you could hear the seeeeeeeeeeea from your beds. Ahhh.

Look at that. 

The beach was a bit out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-y iykwim?? A bit nature-y? It's around four maybe five miles along the coast from Weston. Not so much hanging around, having a cup of tea, taking a dip, reading a book, eating an ice cream which is really my kind of beach but nice all the same.

But Bird collected lots of driftwood and seaweed for art and inspiration and the wheelie-walker (that you can just about see in the background) stretched it's legs on the beach for the first time.

On the Tuesday we decided to join the rest of the coach trip on a day trip to Bath which everybody seems to get really excited about and genuinely didn't grab me in the way that Weston or Bournemouth or other slightly battered looking places do. We visited a yarn shop that was tucked away in the corner and was nice with a really good range of yarns (and I bought a lot) but I can't wax lyrical about them in all honesty so I'm not going to do my usual review-y thing (the lady, who wasn't the owner I must add, asked what sort of things I stocked in my shop and when I told her she was like 'oooooh yes, well, we have serious jumper knitters here so it's going to be different' or some such. Hmmm. I'd like to show her my serious jumper knitters. But it's not a competition ey, I know how brill you lot are). They did, however, tell us about the Kaffe Fassett exhibition that was currently at the American Musem just a bit out of town and we were both excited about that so after a lot of faffing about in the yarn shop we jumped in a taxi and were off!

It was lovely! But small. I thought. You lot know I don't go in much for art so maybe this is the normal size of an exhibition? For me, if you pay nigh on £10 to get into something it should be a full day's worth of stuff, no? But shut up moaning, look at this:

Amazing yes?! I have sooooo many photos of the yarn bombing but it was actually everywhere! Everywhere you could see there were knitted bits and crocheted bits and these pom poms and the 'lanterns' are big plant pots covered in Kaffe printed cotton. Ahhhhh. Easily the most impressive yarn bombing I've ever seen.

This was right outside the separate section of the museum that the Kaffe bit was in and it just about sums up the exhibition - mad! The entrance walls were b.r.i.g.h.t. pink and around the selection there were separate 'rooms' painted in different colours and displaying works grouped by colours that matched. Really well thought out. You were allowed to take photos, without flash, but most of mine turned out blurry which is just as well really because the details don't matter (in fact a fair bit of the knitting was a touch on the messy side if you ask me...) it's the colours and shades that do. The man has an actual gift - imagine how less rich the craft world would be without his input, amazing. 

My favourite bit I think. 

This was a jumper that reminded me of the Chinese Basket Pullover I made my Dad once. I really must dig that out and photograph it for the blog. It deffo deserves one of its own. 

Apart from all of that there were these amazing, inspiring quotes from the man himself all over the walls. Most of them came out too fuzzy to share here but I'm going to remember them for when I need a kick up the bum. 

Of course, this last one is bollocks. You just have to ask the Contemporary (paid for with our tax money, ahem), you see, they're 'art' and we're just 'craft'. I do find it funny when people try and combine the two as if we crafters need to be thought of as artists before we, or anybody else for that matter, can truly appreciate what we do. I mean, well done for Kaffe for being an artist and a crafter and combining the two and managing to get it into an art gallery. But you can bet your bottom dollar that a woman, a mother, knitting bits and bobs for her kids whilst working, picking up the kids from school, walking the dog, watering the garden, organising a birthday party and perhaps fitting in a bit of a social life won't be appearing at the American Museum in Bath any time soon - so let's not kid ourselves that it's craft that's made the big time here. It's actually craft that's made acceptable by the fact that it's made by a man who's really, actually, an artist. Blurgh. Rant over. Holiday chats resuming now...

 When we got back from Bath we had to dry off a bit from the showers that we got caught in and then we had to have dinner. We got laughed at (nicely) every evening for being the weirdos that knitted. Since another company has taken over the place the food has become self-service which suits me and Bird really very well being the oddballs we are with food (one veggie and one slightly ocd eater that can't deal with tomatoes touching eggs) but did not suit the oldies who were used to table service. We reckon it's because they got there bang on six and queued up right away despite the fact that food was replenished until seven and the queues disappeared after about 6.30. Problem? What problem? We just knitted and chattered or read the paper.

 That evening I was determined to make the most of it so I went out for a wander. I put my big boots on and set my alarm for an hour to see how far I could get in that time and still get back before 10 or so. I tell you, I got far. Look:

No words. 

 There was loads of WW2 stuff. I've no idea what this was but I also found a bunker type thing:

 I didn't dare go in because it looked fairly well used by the local drop-out community but I peered in as much as I could.

I mainly walked up the beach until I hit quicksand (it wasn't really quicksand but again I'm a scaredy-cat) and then I turned around, found the road and followed that up. Where I found this:

And a National Trust sign and you all know how much I love the National Trust so naturally I headed up there not knowing where it led to or how many bloody steps there were... At the end there was this hill:

Which I climbed, and it was bloody hard and steep work I'll tell you and it led to this view:

Which looks like a fairy might live there and then my alarm went. So I had a five minute sit down, rang Boyf who I couldn't hear (a portent of things to come) and then I headed back home.  

 I was dead pleased with myself and almost had the feeling that other people say they get when they've done exercise - something like exhilaration and endorphin rush but it wasn't enough to stop me feeling like I was dying by the end. As I was walking back I took this photo:

The arrow shows where I *think* I walked to. It wasn't that clear but I think I recognise the landscape. I also checked the mileage when I got back to the chalet and we made a conservative guesstimate that it was around four miles which is as far as I ever walk really and it was up hill and it was after a full days doing stuff AND Boyf wasn't pointing a (metaphorical) gun to my head. Didn't I do well?

So, the next day, I woke up and there was ...stuff... coming out of my left ear. The previous day it felt like it had been popping far too much whilst going over the hills to Bath and then, with this, I knew something was up. My first instinct is to go to the Walkin Centre but Bird suggested the pharmacist which was a great idea. Only they couldn't really help me because I wasn't in pain as such and they aren't allowed to look in so they told me to go to the Walkin Centre... I really didn't want to. Two holidays ending in Walkin Centre visits on the trot isn't a great record. But I did. I caught a taxi and, surprisingly, I was straight in! I knew I wasn't that ill because I was able to crochet whilst waiting but I also knew that I shouldn't swim with an ear infection so I had to do something. When I got in to see the nurse practitioner, he was dead nice and told me I sounded dead northern (haha proud!), then he looked in my ear, looked a bit puzzled and said 'hmmm interesting'. I asked if I was dying and he laughed and said no but I did had a perforation in my ear drum that didn't seem to be that recent (as in, I hadn't popped it when I felt like it was popping on the journey the day before or, indeed, in the swimming pool). He told me it would probably heal on it's own but that I ought to see my doctor when I got home because with it not being that recent and not being healed then there might be a problem. And then he showed my ear to a few medical students because it was a text book example. *Proud*.

He also told me I shouldn't swim.

 Ignored. It's my bloody holiday ain't it!? What I actually did was bought some waterproof earplugs and swam with my head above water like an oldie (I'd been doing dead well with my butterfly up until then, it's been years since I've been in a pool empty enough to do that!!!). I blame myself if it gets infected (and it might possibly be because I can't hear a thing... really useful for Boyf's drunken snoring on Friday night...).

Anyway, once I got back into town I went on the pier and had a l.a.r.g.e. glass of wine and some crochet:

 And I think that that was also the day that we sneaked some booze back to the chalet in Bird's (the tee-totaller) wheelie-walker:

 Haha. Wool cart. Booze Cart. Clothes line:

We should totally all get one. 

I was knacked, as was Bird who'd enjoyed a day of pottering about around the park and cheesy chips, so we settled in for a relaxed night of knitting, crochet and documentaries. Bird doesn't have a tv so it was all a novelty including the bloody adverts. :)

 The next day I enjoyed some line dancing in the morning:

The oldies didn't though... They each taught three dances but it was all a little bit disastrous which was good for me because I'm not much good at proper dancing and it's been about two decades since I last line danced (though I won awards for it haha), but the oldies who do it all the time took such an issue to one of the steps in one of the dances that they essentially bullied him out of the room in tears and the woman had to take over. There was a blind-ish man who was near the front with me and we were just shaking our heads in disbelief. If they want to do other steps, surely they can just do other steps? Ahhhhhhh, some people don't understand what a holiday's about do they? Bum. I did enjoy it though, even if the poor bloke didn't. 

 Later in the day Bird had an appointment to meet a friend for tea and we agreed that I'd go off swimming in a 'marine lake' that we'd seen and meet back up after that for the bus home and dinner. This is the marine lake:

As far as I can see it's a bit like the Tunnels in Ilfracombe - as in, it's a man made pool filled with sea water that's perhaps a bit safer than the real sea. I knew I needed to swim in the sea but I didn't fancy quicksand so this was my only option. See the last building before you get to the sea just to the left of the middle of the picture? Around about there, there's a walk way that divides the sea from the lake and I managed to swim all the way to that and back (like an old lady and with my ear plug in, don't worry). The water was gorgeously cool but the walk to get to the swim was horrid - it's not sand under foot, it's slick and slimy mud. I ended up just flopping down into the sea when I felt the mud. Elegant. Blurgh.

Then I had an ice cream: 

Which was the most delicious thing ever. And I read my book, kinda. And then I went to the shop to buy some bits, got some cashback and didn't bother picking it up. Which meant that when we got back to the chalet I had a bit of a panic, rang them up and had to get a taxi back which cost £9.50 just to collect £20. What a nobber. And worst?! I could have got a taxi, sat around on the beach a bit and then a taxi back later but I didn't think so I got a taxi there and back all in one go which left me in the chalet which was isolated, without a pub unless I wanted to face the hoards of moaning oldies having a tea dance and shouting and line dancing teachers. That would have been a lovely end to the week.

Gosh. I'm reading this back and it sounds quite a lot like a rant doesn't it? But actually, it was all a bit magical. The weather certainly helped. I would have been miserable stuck out in nowhere land without the sun but having Bird and the sun there made everything a hell of a lot brighter. And blimey o'reilly after last week I needed a holiday! Much appreciated!!! Me and Boyf keep looking up the next seaside place we could go to, we're thinking of camping. CAMPING! Not even glamping. Just a big ol' muddy tent. haha.

Anyway, I have a few more random photos that I didn't fit into my story and then I'm going to get on with designing a new print advert because I'm able to do that (not)....

Ahhhh. The Weston beach from the promenade. How beautiful is that???

We were actually in Hi-de-Hi. :)

This was the driveway into the complex. Just thought you might like to see. 

Just because. 

And another. Seriously. The photos from that evening (the one that I walked a million miles in) all came out stunning. It must have been the light. 

This was the day that I went into the Walkin Centre and I decided to walk along the forest path to Weston. It's kinda between four and five miles and takes about 10 minutes in the car but it took me like an hour and a half. Stunning though? It's also the first panorama that's really worked on my phone!

Four different drinks! Including scrumpy that Bethan told me I had to have. Blurgh. 

The burnt out pier that looked like just the most magical thing. I'm sure it's not that old but I can imagine kind of smugglers coming through. I don't think I've ever seen a pier with its own jetty before. 

Hi-de-Hi with three bachelor ducks. :)

And that's your lot.

Love. xxxxxxxxx

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