Knee deep in mud, roaring fires and pub grub – challenge 26 hiking in Wales


It feels like a lifetime ago, but just a few days have passed since we returned from our exhausting, romantic and exhilarating trip to Wales. We were only there three nights but in that time I managed to almost drown in mud, water and sand, fall off a cliff face and feel like I’d got hypothermia through getting soaking wet walking around a stunningly beautiful estate in the pouring rain.

Yes I had a few typically Rachel grumpy moments, stomping my feet, shaking uncontrollably from the cold, and moaning about the lack of dairy-free sticky toffee pudding (because you would expect them to have that in a random pub in the middle of nowhere right?) but we had a fabulous time….in fact I want to go back right now!

The trip was magical as we were staying in a stunning cottage. Well, not really a cottage more like a ruined castle. According to the brochure The Towers at Penrice Castle Estate was built as an “extravagant Gothic folly in the 1790s to have the appearance of a ruined castle”. And, for once, the brochure didn’t lie, in fact I think the owner deliberately undersold the uniqueness of this stunning cottage, with its round bedroom, roaring fire and quirky entrance – let’s not forget the hilarious, if not mean, pastime of watching silly motorists getting stuck in the thick mud outside our window, ducking out of sight every time someone got out of a posh car looking in horror at the mud splattered all over their freshly polished bonnet…..cruel I know!

Even the trip down was an adventure. We inadvertently took the “scenic route” which was completely my fault, but we saw some stunning views of the Brecon Beacons, so it really was worth it. After driving for hours we stopped off at a random pub in the middle of nowhere, and after plonking myself in a comfy well-worn armchair in front of a roaring log fire with a glass of wine and the largest small portion of chips I have ever seen, I seriously considered curling up like a hedgehog and hibernating for the rest of this horrible winter right there and then.

IMG_4432The beauty of Penrice Estate goes beyond words. But as per usual ( I hear you groan) I will try it put it into words. The estate, which we were free to ramble – well squelch – around to our hearts content, has a private wind-swept beach, paths into acres of dense forest, dozens of picturesque cottages, an old-fashioned church with a murder grave for my morbid curiosity, a ruined castle where the bad ass sheep hang out, and beautiful little streams trickling down into acres of farmland and picturesque fields.

Oh, let’s not forget bucket loads of mud. Being a child at heart, at first I adored the mud, jumping and wading through it, all the while singing at the top of my lungs how “glorious” mud is (I also leapt over cow pats – another pastime inherited from the Flints – don’t worry no one was about; I don’t think that would have stopped me anyway), but after getting stuck up to my knees and having a very Vicar of Dibley puddle moment – I jumped in feet first and ended up way past my knees being sucked slowly into a very muddy grave – I undoubtedly came to hate it.

The moment I waded confidently into the mud-laden field, striding towards the stile ahead of Andy to revel in the fact I had my walking boots on not just apparently mountain conditions proof running trainers, is something which makes me smile. Well it makes me smile now, at the time I was humiliated and, as per usual, outraged. My first few confident steps seemed steady and secure, but by the third I realised that I may as well have been treading in quick sand. Panic ensued as I strained to pull my feet out of the mud which appeared to be sucking me further in. I was shouting all kinds of things at Andy, who was stood safely in the drier part of the field, way away from the danger, staring at me and laughing his head off. Eventually, after watching me desperately battle to pull my shoe out of the thick mud he came to my rescue – but not before taking a mental photograph. 

The walk continued in this manner. Now that I’d almost met my muddy end I was determined to keep going at any cost. So boots filled with stinky mud, which squelched around my toes as I walked, we plodded on, with an adventure which saw me almost fall in a deep stream as I tried to jump a gap which was far longer than my little legs could manage, while laughing hysterically and refusing to let go of the tree which saved me from falling into the freezing water below.

In the end we plodded over six miles through stunning woodland, coming across ruined buildings, miles of untouched scenery and millions of sheep. When we eventually appeared back into civilisation we realised we were literally just around the corner from where we were staying. Typical! But at least we were a stone’s throw from the beach, oh and a nice hot shower, once I’d waded through knee-deep freezing water which made me feel like I was going to lose my toes.

Every time we stepped outside it always started raining. We got drenched but loved it as warming up in front of the roaring fire was quaint and romantic. But one of the best things about the break was the hearty food. It was always rewarding, in a place where WiFi spots appeared to fail to exist, to find a warm, cozy and popular ‘proper’ pub, with hearty feel-good stodgy food and lovely fine and amazing locals. The first night we ate at the King Arthur Hotel, which appeared to be the centre of the community and might as well have had the whole population of the community in it. The food was warm and yummy. But, it was nothing to compare to the incredible meal with had at the Britannia Inn – the food was unreal. I had a rabbit stew to start and venison for mains…..and shock horror, the kitchen was so good they made me a dairy free brownie with raspberry sorbet, which may have been the best pudding I have ever had!

All in all the holiday was exactly what I needed. There was little to no stress, no deadlines, no pressure, no enforced activities, just good company, good food, good fresh air and plenty of wine. Now we are back and with surgery looming, the pressures of work, preparation for the Mirror placement and preparing for all those months of recovery after my next op, I wish I was back there with no phone reception and a good book and not a care in the world.

But at some point you have to return to reality. It sucks!

Advertisements

An unbelievable evening watching The Lion King and a trip up the London Eye


After an eyeopening evening exploring London’s vibrant nightlife – experiencing everything from cosmopolitan bars filled with suits swigging champagne, groups of doctors huddled in toilets moaning about understaffed A&E departments, to pubs filled with legless women stumbling around downing pints of colliery band beer – on Friday morning I woke excited yet slightly worse for wear ready for my magical and much anticipated trip to see The Lion King.images

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so excited about anything. I honestly have no idea where I first heard about the stage version of the Disney film. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go and see it, but have never found the time, money or the energy to go. Andy knew this, and so acting as only a devoted boyfriend would, decided to surprise me with tickets to see the show while we were in London.

In the hours to spare before the show we headed into the capital to enjoy sightseeing. It didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Finding something for me to eat that was a) healthy and b) lactose free appeared to remain a monumental challenge despite the fact we were in a city filled with the largest variety of different culerany delights imaginable. It was like trying to see the wood through the trees, we just couldn’t find anywhere, and because I was starving by this time that turned me into a raging bitch. It was totally unreasonable and unfair on Andy, but at these moments (and everyone has done it) I often realise I’ve taken it too far but by that time I’ve gone too far with my sulk to take it back and realise I’m at fault. In moments like that, where I’m standing on a packed high street refusing to move and waving my arms around at my poor boyfriend blaming him for everything from not having planned our day out fully to being unable to create world peace, I often feel like I’m floating on the outside of my body watching and shaking my head as I realise how ridiculous it all is – but once you reach a certain point you just have to go along with it or dissolve into hysterical laughter….those are the rules, never backdown.

London Eye

London Eye

After finally being fed and watered (obviously I maintained the sulk and refused to enjoy what I ate) we ventured towards The London Eye. As the sky grew gloomier and dark clouds loomed on the horizon I didn’t hide my worry that we would see bugger all but rain and mist when we got to the top, and as we were queuing the rain got worse and a thunder storm threatened in the distance. Despite my fears the London rain and grey skies would spoil the once-in-a-lifetime experience (this was my first venture up the Eye) the views were still spectacular. Of course I didn’t agree with Andy that London looked better in the rain, but I have to admit it seemed ironic that my first time on the Eye would be on a murky day, where rain dribbled down the glass, and we ended up peering into the grey mugginess to try and spot MI5 and Wembley which had been engulfed by the fog.

On reaching not-so-dry land we were greeted by a full blown thunderstorm,  we both got soaked as we dashed across the bridge towards the Houses of Parliament and I almost had my eye poked out by a rouge umbrella – I’m not exaggerating I was left with a nasty red mark just under my eye after the brolly took on a life of its own.

Arriving back at our Camden Hotel looking closer to drowned sewer rats than tourists, me and Andy headed to the pool to relax for an hour (and what a pool it was; illuminated with purple lights underneath and filled with buoyant salt water) before getting changed and heading into the city for our much awaited Lion king adventure.

Anyone who has met me will know that getting me to be silent for more than a couple

Ready for the most amazing adventure

Ready for the most amazing adventure

of minutes can be an almost impossible task. The Lion King stunned me into silence. I can honestly say I have never seen anything more remarkable or unbelievable in my life. For the entire show I was well and truly captivated, everything from the outfits to the way the actors moved around the stage left me astounded. My mouth hung open in misbelief for so long I must have swallowed a gallon of flies and I was aware that I probably looked ridiculous with a clown-like smile of glee frozen on my face throughout the entire performance. But the whole thing was like a dream – I’d heard it was good but I didn’t realise it was what dreams were made of.

What was my favourite part of the musical? Honestly it’s hard to say….probably the opening number The Circle of Life. Original I know, but that was the moment the genius of the animal costumes was revealed and, boy, was it spectacular.

When the final curtain finally descended I wanted to cry. For the entirety of the production I had felt like a child unwrapping mountains of presents at Christmas, but then it was suddenly over and the area under the tree was suddenly empty. But despite the fact all the costumes were gone and the rousing music had ended the colourful scenes were still with me, I still felt in awe of what had just been achieved. It was one of the best presents I have ever had. It was magic in action.

After theatre treat - Loch Fyne

After theatre treat – Loch Fyne

Climbing 275 steps – one giant leap on my road to recovery


I’m in a fair bit of pain as I write this. I can’t quite described what’s going on, or

A giant leap for Winnie

A giant leap for Winnie

comprehend what the problem is, all I know is that it is something to do with my fistula and that it is nothing like I have ever felt before. I’m not quite sure why it’s happening, or what’s happening, but I’m not feeling great. I’ll talk more about it tomorrow, but I thought I would mention it now as I’m drugged up to my eyeballs, so please forgive me if this post reads a bit like a druggie’s random train of thoughts…that would be the tramadol talking!

Ok, so it’s no Mount Everest but on Saturday I climbed 275 very steep and winding steps to the top of York Minster tower. Why? Because it is part of the 101 Visit England places to visit before you die…and because I have never done it. Over the years I have had the pleasure and honour of playing in the Minster a handful of times with a brass band I was a member of (have I failed to mention I am a band geek 🙂 yes I play the euphonium..an instrument which is about ten times to big for me and makes me look like a small child playing a giant’s trumpet), during an annual charity carol concert. Playing in the Minster was always an overwhelming and truly awe-inspiring moment; the music swells up into the rafters, filling every nook and cranny of the enormous building, rising up into the heaven’s, creating an ambience that seems to vibrate around your very soul. Something about hearing a brass band perform in a church is so humbling, and the sound, the pure, stripped-back sound of a single note echoing through the pews would send shivers through the soul’s of even the most cold-hearted person in the world. It’s times like these that I feel the most alive.

At the start, before I ran out of puff!

At the start, before I ran out of puff!

Anyway, despite having performed in the Minster I have never walked up the Tower. So after weeks of umming and ahhing about making the trip to York me and Andy finally jumped in the car and braved the trip on Saturday. It wasn’t the nicest day, drizzly and overcast to say the least, but that wasn’t going to stop us. I have to admit that this is one of the things I love about this blog and my 101 challenges, that I can’t just say ‘oh I can’t be bothered’ anymore, or ‘I feel to ill’..if we’d sacked the trip off on Saturday just because of a little bit of rain I would have felt that I’d not only let myself down but I would have let down you guys, and the rest of the IBD and ostomy community…ok, that might be a bit over the top but that’s how I feel, and it drives me to keep going even when I just feel like poo!

And that is the reason why me and Andy paid £15 each to get into the Minster and climb the tower. I know £15 EACH!! If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had to do it for my challenges I would have down right refused to go in, I would have turned around and walked out just for the shear principle that I will not pay that much to go into a place of worship. I mean I have travelled to some incredible places and seen some incredible churches including Notre Dame and the Sistine Chapel and I honestly don’t think I have ever paid that much to go into a church before…I know that it costs a lot to upkeep a church of that size, but seriously that is a disgusting amount of money to just walk around a building and climb a tower, which, I hasten to add was covered in graffiti the whole way up (how people have time to etch their names into stone while being herded up those steps really boggles my mind, they must take chisels and hammers!)

Anyway the walk up was horrific. Yes, I know that it has been months since my

At the top - upset about the netting, ruined the view

At the top – upset about the netting, ruined the view

ileostomy op but I am still not as fit as I was before my surgery, and the whole situation was made worse by the fact that there were around 50 other people staggering up the steps, so there was no time to pause and catch your breath. Seeing as I have a slight fear of confined spaces – I know it’s neurotic but I’m one of those people who burst out of a lift when it opens like its been on fire – it wasn’t an ideal scenario. I spent the whole climb up clinging to the railing and listening to the family in front rabbiting on and on at each other – I got the impression that someone was in big trouble! Winnie (my ostomy) was not having the best of days, but managed to stay calm enough not to have a leak as I tried to heave my tired legs up the hundreds of steps, very much aware that if I had a dizzy spell the rest of the people behind me would fall down like dominos back into the Minster. It wasn’t my favourite experience, but when I reached the top, exhausted and with legs shaking like jelly, the views where beautiful, (if not ruined by the barbed wire netting all over the place no doubt to stop jumpers) and I felt a massive sense of achievement that I’d climbed all those steps – ok, so it’s not that big an achievement but when you take into account that months ago I couldn’t walk to the toilet and back without someone holding on to me, it really is a giant leap in the right direction.

The sense of achievement and relief was short-lived when I realised I had to walk all the way back down, which is always harder than going up, and was made worse by the fact my muscles seemed to have locked and were frozen in the walking upstairs position. But at the end of it I might have felt a little tired and dizzy and my legs might have felt like jelly, but I looked a down sight better than a lot of the people who came red-faced and sweating down the steps, puffing and panting like they’d run a marathon – and I guess they didn’t have the excuse that they’d had major surgery just a few months ago.

MMM CHOCOLATE

MMM CHOCOLATE

After completing the challenge me and Andy treated ourselves to a cup of hot chocolate at a nearby chocolate cafe. I’ve been to York a fair few times but until this weekend I had no idea that York was most famous for its chocolate heritage. It seems that York is the birthplace of KitKat and other delicious treats that I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of eating in years BOO! I was so excited as this was the first time I had been able to have a hot chocolate in public since I was diagnosed with being lactose intolerant around four-years-ago. This cafe did dark chocolate and the option to have soya or rice milk instead of the normal dairy milk. It was an unexpected treat, and very rich and yummy…but as per usual Andy’s drink looked far tastier than mine and I have to admit that spoiled it a bit for me as the green-eyed monster raised her ugly head, and I spent the majority of the time in the cafe wishing I could have a sneaky taste of his very scrumptous looking white hot chocolate! – sometimes I despise being lactose intolerant.

We finished off the day walking through the Shambles, which despite the drizzle was a very enjoyable experience, ending up in a vegan cafe for a cake, as I wanted to have a little treat, which was an underwhelming and pricey experience. The pudding was mediocre and I didn’t like the very hippy atmosphere of the place (nothing against it, just not my cup of tea), Andy really didn’t like his coconut paradise cake…not really sure who decided paradise was the right word to describe it, more like bouncy sludge?

I really am tiny!

I really am tiny!

Anyway soon after that we were forced to give up and go home as my remaining colon started kicking off and my fistula started to cause me problems. Luckily that was at the end of a very full day, so the timing wasn’t too bad, although I obviously would rather it didn’t kick off at all.

My verdict? York is a beautiful place with stunning heritage, shops and scenery. Don’t visit the Minster unless you really have to see it, it is definitely a once in a life time experience. The views from the tower are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to other tall buildings across the world such as The Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. But, although it was a lot of money, I don’t regret it. I feel like I have really achieved something in my road to recovery and in embracing my life with a stoma, and shown that you really can do anything and that having an ostomy shouldn’t stop you doing whatever the hell you want.

At the Minster

At the Minster

Oh, if you go reward yourself with a hot chocolate. You won’t regret it!

 

 

A grand day out! Sweltering heat, massive hills, art & giant marshmallows


Despite the sweltering heat and glorious sunshine, on Friday me and my amazing

Exhausted, sweating like pigs, but happy

Exhausted, sweating like pigs, but happy

boyfriend Andy (and of course who can forget Winnie) jumped in the car and submitted ourselves to over three hours of swerving lunatic drivers, scar-tearingly bumpy roads, and squinting to see digital road maps due to the bright sunlight as we drove to Bristol – all in the name of street art, and, well so that I could do one of my challenges.

The car journey, which as usual saw me scoff my own weight in haribo sweets (well, if you can’t do it on a car journey when can you?), was something of an achievement for me. After more than a decade of Crohns/Colitis, I am still getting used to the idea of not having to race to the toilet every five minutes doubled over in crippling pain. Of course, even though I now have Winnie I still have my moments, but compared to the urgency and, ahem, accidents, my toilet habits are a breezy walk in the park these days. Only 10-weeks-ago (before my surgery) the idea of even the shortest of car journeys sent me into a flurry of minor nervous breakdowns. For more than a decade of my life I would go to the loo at least five times before getting in the car, bob around on the doorstep impatiently telling people to “hurry up before I need the loo again”, and once in the car I lived in constant fear of traffic jams, as they meant it could be hours before the next service station and chance for me to go to the loo. Honestly my fear was so severe that break lights activating ahead on a busy motorway, or the word ‘diversion’, or even ‘next services in 30 miles’, sent my blood pressure through the roof…I would start sweating and, usually the moment such a delay occurred my evil disease would kick off and naturally I would need the toilet at the one time that there was no way I could go!!

Traffic lights used to send me into cold sweats, now I just sit back and enjoy the ride

Traffic lights used to send me into cold sweats, now I just sit back and enjoy the ride

So, understandably my relationship with travelling, especially in cars (don’t get me started on my humiliating experiences with public transport) is one that I associate with pain, fear and panic. So I was very surprised that despite the unprecedented heat, and the fact that Winnie was kicking off, and Oscar (remaining colon) was spitting mucus out of my stomach, we had an event free and rather pleasant car journey. In the three-hour journey we only stopped once, and that was more so I could empty my weak bladder than because Winnie was full – though I have to admit that, probably to the surprise of other nosey passengers staring in through the car window, I did keep checking Winnie for status updates every half an hour – better safe than sorry.

Ok, so what exactly had we driven all the way to Bristol for? 

As part of challenge #No33 I have to visit 30 things on the Visit England 101 things to see in England before you die, and search for Banksy’s art in Bristol is one of the 30 challenges I chose. So Andy very kindly booked us a hotel and agreed to drive us to Bristol for a weekend of traipsing around a city looking for art – something that isn’t really up his street (he’s more sport, I’m more culture – that’s the truth).

I have to say that I was over-the-topily excited about this trip. The night before I had spent hours looking on the computer at things we could do when we got to this city, which by the way sounded like a cultural Mecca. I can’t even begin to describe my excitement when I discovered that we would not only be able to search for the famous Banksy works, but scattered around the city were 80 giant Gromit statues, which had been decorated by famous designers, illustrators, musicians, and authors. Everyone from Michael Buble (yes I know, I have no idea how to get the accent over his name) to Quentin Blake, and the creator of Where’s Wally – I was like a little kid in a massive sweet shop, I even downloaded the special Gromit app (such a child #lol) – in the end we only saw about 10 but ah well c’est la vie!

Me & one of the 80 Gromits

Me & one of the 80 Gromits

So after checking into the hotel (we got an excellent last-minute deal on the Doubletree – we’re not that posh!) and a quick change later, me, Andy and Winnie hit the streets of Bristol with one aim – to find something to eat. We quickly stumbled across our first Gromit, which was just outside the hotel, before heading down to the Quayside where the whole of Bristol appeared to have gathered for a drink. I won’t get into it, but after waiting for rather a long time outside a well-known chain Italian restaurant and being ignored, we decided to spread our wings and explore further afield, which with Winnie behaving herself was not so much of an issue, or so I thought until we climbed the steepest hill in the world to get to Cafe Rouge.

On the way we spotted our first Banksy – hurrah! So a couple of pictures later and we kept

The first one!! SHOCK and RELIEF!!

The first one!! SHOCK and RELIEF!!

climbing past the rows of nightclubs until we got to the restaurant, by which time we were both sweating buckets and gasping for a drink – you could say we had earned our dinner! (we went to Cafe Rouge because I had a voucher and all 101 of these adventures combined is not going to be cheap so best to scrimp and save where possible) It was a lovely – well the same as any other Cafe Rouge – restaurant, which had an amazing view of Bristol University, which we both mistakenly mistook for the Cathedral until we explored later that night. The only downside was the gang of over-excited and tipsy graduates who were squealing their heads off, singing old kid TV theme tunes, and kept shouting loudly in Spanish – which made me think they had been language students. By the time we left I had a very bad headache, but had enjoyed my first salad post surgery 🙂 and Andy had indulged in his  ‘never let him down’ dish of duck.

At the restaurant - we only had one drink each - i promise!

At the restaurant – we only had one drink each – i promise!

Even though both of us only had one drunk we were a little tipsy and exhausted and decided to call it a night (we’re WILD), but on the way back to the hotel we stumbled across a frozen yogurt take-out that was still open at 10PM WOW!! And it did lactose free frozen yogurt, we just couldn’t say no to that!!

Anyway the next day I might have had a little strop after not being able to find a Starbucks immediately to satisfy my morning coffee urges…and poor Andy had to put up with my having full-blown paddies as we traipsed up that bloody hill again to get a frapaccino in the now unbearable heat. I was a little happier when I’d got my coffee, I think the ice and the caffeine combined with a little bit of air conditioning really helped to cool my rapidly spiralling out of control totally over-the-top temper, so then we could get on with what we had come to see – the Banksy street art.

The only problem is, finding a Banksy in Bristol is like finding your keys when you’ve lost

Yep another one...nightmare to find

Yep another one…nightmare to find

them, you can’t find them when you want to, but you stumble across them unexpectedly when you’re no longer searching for them. We found that first one quite by chance, and the second one (the girl with the balloons) when we turned the corner after our meal. But after that it became much much more difficult. Traipsing through Bristol, up and down the steepest hills I have tried to tackle since my surgery in temperatures reaching 30c was not easy at all. We explored the roughest parts of the city, where drunk people gathered in the streets, and went up alleyways stinking of spray paint as Andy’s special Iphone ap directed us into possible drug dens in search of the best street art the city had to offer.

Three hours later, exhausted, sunburnt, dripping with sweat and feeling like I had just run a marathon with lead weights attached to the backs of my knees, I gave in and decided I simply couldn’t search any longer. My legs felt like they were going to give way from under me and I was sweating from places I didn’t know existed. As we collapsed in the park under the shade next to some teenagers who were smoking some very funky smelling weed, we took our shoes off and gulped down the water, before reflecting that despite the temperamental

WHOOP another Banksy

WHOOP another Banksy

iPhone ap we had done rather well (even if one of the Banksy’s had disappeared by the time we had trudged miles to get there (some idiot painted over it no doubt)), and had not only seen some of the most WOW street art in the UK but also ventured where few tourists had ever dared to venture before.

Winnie was surprisingly well-behaved the entire day. I think, like everything, in the heat she just gave up, decided there was no point and declared the day a stoma holiday! So we sat and had some free fruit in the park and enjoyed lapping in the Pride festival atmosphere. I had never been to Pride before and it was an incredible event to experience, with the hot weather and music blasting people where scattered all over the lawns and grassy embankments just kicking back, enjoying beer and basically enjoying life.

I had really wanted to watch blast-from-the-past boy band Blue, but as we joined the

Another Banksy - squee!

Another Banksy – squee!

packed crowds I realised not only was I not going to be able to see them but Winnie was likely to get crushed in the process. Now I like Blue’s music but not enough to end up with a dented stoma! Anyway my decision not to see them perform was sealed by the band not coming on stage at the correct time, we waited 20 minutes and then with the onset of heat exhaustion decided not to ruin an amazing day by ending up in a&e and decided to call it a day.

We made it back home to Andy’s country home at around 8.30pm after stopping for supplies, once home we grabbed showers, tucked into a

AMAZING ART

AMAZING ART

yummy tea, and passed out. I woke the next day to my muscles screaming like they had been put through one of those Iron-man challenges and spent the rest of the day walking like a Cowboy (people must have thought I had had far too much fun!). So due to my exhaustion we spent most of the day sunning ourselves in the garden, Winnie had a few moments, but after being well-behaved the day before I forgave her. I even treated her to giant toasted American marshmallows on the BBQ later that night – MMM the best medication EVER!!!

So if you’re looking for a good weekend of exploring and you love art, head to Bristol. It was nothing like what I expected…it was a fusion of the old with the new, the traditional with the modern, obscure and at times terrible and verging on vandalism graffiti. It was one of the best and most random weekend’s me and Andy have had, and the best me and Winnie have spent together. So give it a go – a word of advice though, don’t go during a heat wave and expect to get much done!

The giant marshmallows - such a treat MMMM

The giant marshmallows – such a treat MMMM

the giant marshmallow have made me soooo happy

the giant marshmallow have made me soooo happy

If you didn’t see it on yesterday’s post below is the slide show of pics of the trip to Bristol. ENJOY!!

 

Challenge #33 – 100 NUDE MEN, Winnie and a very windswept me


ME, WINNIE AND ‘THE BOY” WITH BEN THE NAKED MAN AT CROSBY BEACH

I’m very tired today after a hectic BIG DAY OF ADVENTURE in Liverpool 🙂 – yes I know it’s not far away but we had a lot to do and I was basically frog marched around the city and the surrounding areas clutching my tummy and giggling with excitement 🙂

Actually I was so tired that I slept for the longest uninterrupted period for months and months – possible six months – five hours straight. And, because I usually wake up and then can’t get to sleep for a couple of hours in which time I empty Winnie (my stoma bag if you are a new reader) several times of gas and undigested spinach and tablets, I woke to my bag so full it was almost bursting. Honestly two seconds more in bed or if I had rolled over onto my stomach I am sure my bag would have exploded and transformed my room into a scene from a horror movie – well one on a farm anyway!!!

Thank god I woke up in time!! Anyway, anyway, anyway – oh before we begin on the challenge have to tell you that I tried Charter and Coloplast’s Ostomiss yesterday for the first time. If you don’t know what that is (and why wouldn’t you – get with it guys) its a spray or drop that you put in your bag to make it smell lovely and not like pooey eggs – I will add that normal people have these two but many don’t use them – there called airfresheners people 🙂

Andy ‘the boy’ spots John Barnes in Liverpool one – there is me and Winnie puzzled in background – NO IDEA WHO HE IS

So we had a funny moment in Starbucks in Liverpool at the Beatles Experience. I went to the loo after joking about posing with my darling Paul (McCartney) feeling gutted that we didn’t make it on the Beatles tour because I had forgotten to book – scatter brains DOH – to empty Winnie who was trying with all her might to ruin my outfit, figure and my day – when she is full she adds 100lbs to my tiny size 6 and age 11-12yrs figure (sickening I know)!!

Anyway, anyway, anyway. As I emptied her the smell of oranges filled the cubicle….safe to say I was shocked, and horrified. I had completely forgotten that I had put two drops of tangerine scented ostomist into Winnie this morning so I wasn’t paranoid about smelling like poo!

a little insight here into my life with Crohns/ UC – I always feel and felt like I smelt of poo, I didn’t (well I hope not guys) and whenever I passed a sewer, walked past dog poo or down Sealand road where raw sewage may aswell be lying in the street on a hot day, I always thought it was me!!!

WOW CAKES MADE OF SWEETS – ROTTING TEETH WEDDING LOL

I was totally puzzled 🙂 I stood there wondering what I had eaten. You can imagine my thought process…I haven’t had any oranges, orange juice…nope…sweets…nope. Then I realised and thought WOW this stuff really works, why don’t they do Armarni Code and Hugo Boss and all perfumes – but I guess that would cost a fortune like diamond encrusted stomas. So I left the toilet and a Starbucks worker was waiting to come in. All I can say is the smile she gave me as I popped out of the loo – probably cas she thought I was a man – i have to stand up and turn towards the bowl to empty Winnie looking like I have a willy –quickly changed to a quizical look 🙂 She probably thought WHAT THE F**K HAS SHE BEEN EATING??? – she probs thought I had scoffed a load of oranges in the loo and eaten all the peel – or had a really weird problem (which to some closed minded people I do)!!!

RIGHT enough of this rambling – its time to talk about the trip.

Image

me with a giant metal man – im like Thumbelena

The idea was to do one of my stoma challenges in Liverpool yesterday 🙂 Challenge #No 33 is to do 30 of Visit Englands’ things to do before you die. There are 101 things on this list but me and Andy (my poor, understanding, and beaten down boyfriend – affectionately known as “the boy”) decided I would do 30 because of the challenge having to be finished by the time I’m 30 (clever I know!!).

Below are our choices – I think this blog and challenge will end up costing me a fortune, one should be WIN THE LOTTERY 🙂

FOOD AND DRINK (7)

1 Taste oysters in Whitstable, Kent.

2 Have a pint in England’s oldest pub, Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, in Nottingham, dating back to 1189.

6 Mix martinis at Dukes Bar, in St James’s, London, spiritual home of James Bond

9 Tour the Black Friars gin distillery, in Plymouth, Devon.

15 Head to the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, in the Lake District 

17 Tour an English vineyard, in Surrey, such as Denbies Wine Estate, the biggest in the country.

Lost in Liverpool!!!! Searching for Leaf cafe – I’m sure it’s not fictional!!!

HISTORY AND HERITAGE (4)

25 Gawp at the Gothic splendour of Lincoln Cathedral, tallest building in the world for 200 years.

27 Ride the Settle-Carlisle steam train, across the Pennines and Ribblehead Viaduct, which appeared in the Harry Potter movies

38 Marvel at St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, a tidal island crowned with a superb castle.

40 Climb the 275 steps of the tower at York Minster.

ARTS AND CULTURE (6)

48 See Blackpool illuminations.

50 Gaze out at Anthony Gormley’s sea statues at Crosby, Merseyside.

52 Take a Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool.

53 Admire Banksy graffiti in Bristol.

55 Get in fancy dress for Bestival on the Isle of Wight.

58 Discover William Shakespeare’s Stratford

Me and Winnie with Liverpool’s wildlife

61 Head by boat to Farne Islands nature reserve in Northumberland.

62 Strip off at Holkham Beach, Norfolk – it’s a naturist beach.

64 See thousands of the world’s plant species at The Eden Project in Cornwall.

66 Look for dolphins and basking sharks off the Scilly Isles.

71 Spot dragonflies at Wicken Fen nature reserve, Cambridgeshire.

72 Join a bat patrol at Cheddar Gorge, Somerset.

77 Look out for snowdrops at Fountains Abbey, North Yorks.

HEALTH AND FITNESS (6)

82 Scale England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

87 Pony trek in The New Forest.

91 Canoe along the Wye Valley in Herefordshire.

92 Try swimming in Grassington, Yorkshire Dales National Park.

97 Learn the art of mountain biking, in the Lake District

101 Have a go at the annual Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill, Gloucs.

If you want to do it too visit http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/st-georges-day-2013-101-1848785

Me at Leaf tearooms in Liverpool – Amazing!! Inspired to go by The Wish List by jane Costello

Anyway the idea was to do #NO 50 and #52 in Liverpool – but it didn’t really go to plan. Watch the video below to see what happened and to hear about the challenge…Winnie played up all day but didn’t leak (I’m still holding my breath for that to happen – I’ve been far too lucky so far). We saw a tinie little scottie dog chase a swan into a lake!!! You know a swan can break your arm…imagine what it would do to this dog 🙂 but it was ballsy and had more guts than me even when the swan snarled and hissed and the owners kept yelling Tracy Tracy come back, No Tracey – I know weird name for a dog!!!

OH NOOOO – Me and Winnie don’t get to do the Mystery Beatles Tour – poor Paul

Also had trouble with the roads…Cheshire’s and merseyside’s are bloody awful!! There are holes, followed by grids, followed by speed bumps, followed by crossings everywhere!! it’s like a flaming rollercoaster ride…except not at all fun!! I was almost sobbing in pain, gripping the door handle so tight my knuckles were white and wanting to shout are we almost there yet – again and again like a little child. In fact by the time we were halfway there my stitches felt like they would split open and I wanted to go home and die….but I have never let my illness stop me doing anything before AND HELL IT WAS NOT GOING TO STOP ME NOW!!!! I was seeing those naked men if it killed me!!!

But it was worth it, I can’t believe that I have lived in Chester for three years and been to Liverpool god knows how many times and never seen the statues!!! (MENTAL) The beach was beautiful but scattered with used tampons, needles and other rubbish (people are disgusting and they judge our toilet habbits – oh the irony!!) and ruined by the great big windturbines in the background.

So 1 down 29 of those challenges to go!!! EEK!!