Not so mysterious Magical Mystery Tour – Visit England Beatles challenge


Everyone around the world has an all time favourite Beatles moment. A special snapshot in time when the strumming cords of one of the Fab Four’s songs made the world seem like a perfect place, where all you need[ed] was love and a little help from your friends. Since I can remember my world has been filled with the Beatles. With former hippies for parents, I’ve grown up against a backing track of 60s music dominated by the inventions of John, Ringo, Paul and George. As with many things as a young child I was influenced without even realising it. I had no idea as a toddler we were listening to Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band on loop in my dad’s Skoda on our many trips to the seaside and forest camping holidays. My childhood is filled with brief memories of me happily bawling along to Yellow Submarine and Oh-La-Di, Oh-La-Da, shrieking along totally out-of-tune but with a massive smile on my face during our car singsongs – no wonder my parents once bought me and my sister massive gob-stoppers in a bid to shut us up.IMG_4880

The nations’ fascination with The Beatles, and my growing relationship with their music, was echoed in all parts of my life. At Guide Band Camp (what a geek!) I proudly tootled along on my cornet (and in later days my euphonium) blasting through When I’m Sixty Four in honour of our ageing guiding conductor. And in case I hadn’t had my life saturated by the Fab Four’s music at home to an adequate standard, the Beatles music seemed to have been written into the national curriculum (no doubt something Gove has stamped out in favour of children learning to speak like Bill and Ben in fear of breeding a generation of hippies). During my very early primary school years I have a vague memory of sitting on the classroom carpet surrounded by dozens of other little mites, no doubt sharing our nits, bogeys and god knows what else with hundreds of children from generations gone by, and being shown an animation where pop stars meet a very friendly octopus (well that’s how I remember it). I was captivated, and I think it was as the Beatles told me about being let in by an octopus into his garden in the shade, that I fell in love with the band. I remember coming home clutching a drawing of a big blue octopus and singing bits of the song over and over – I guess this was the start of my 60s education, that and listening to Lilly the Pink in the car with no idea I was being educated about the dangers of drinking in preparation for my life as a journalist!

IMG_4882Anyway where am I going with this? On bank holiday Monday me and Andy (my partner in crime and love) headed to one of my favourite cities in the world, Liverpool to complete one of my challenges. The challenge is part of the now unrealistic (unaffordable) sounding Visit England list of places to visit before you die – which wouldn’t be so unreasonable if I didn’t have until I’m 30 (that’s not when I plan to die btw) to visit my chosen 30 places, they weren’t all extortionate money traps and they weren’t sporadically scattered all over the UK. Anyway I tried to complete this Visit England challenge before, while visiting Anthony Gormley’s 100 nude statues on Crosby Beach, but fallen down when the Magical Mystery Tour was fully booked. This time we booked in advance just to be on the safe side, but be warned the cost, for what it actually is, which is essentially a tour of some very run down parts of Liverpool and a lot of empty and often derelict childhood homes belonging to people related to Beatles band members, is staggering – while it was interesting I wouldn’t pay to go on it again!

While the rest of the world seems to love The Beatles, I’m not sure that Liverpool City Council does. I IMG_4896love Liverpool; it’s a city buzzing with art, music and alive with culture, and often a breath of fresh air just a short ride away from Chester, which at times can be something of a cultural desert (boo hiss – I will probably get chased with pitchforks out of the city now). But the Magical Mystery Tour is like a back door tour of the city, where visitors from all over the world are shown a city filled with row upon row of boarded up council houses, derelict pubs, and graffiti strewn areas. It really was eye-opening and a massive shame for such a vibrant city.

The tour guide proudly showed us the boarded up childhood home of Ringo Star, one of around 400 homes which had been due for demolition (for a regeneration project) before it was finally realised demolishing the birthplace of one of the worlds most well-known music legends could possibly be a mistake! I was tickled but shocked by this part of the tour, but even more so as the trend continued as we were shown Penny Lane’s famous landmark, the ‘shelter in the middle of the roundabout’. I don’t know what I was expecting from this iconic area, where, according to the Beatles a pretty nurse sold poppies from a tray, but I was not expecting a run down, derelict mess. I just couldn’t understand it. Frankly I was appalled. Why hadn’t this been turned into a tourist trap, why was this being allowed to happen. I mean surely some Beatles fanatic would pay good money to do this up into a bar, record shop, live music venue, or even just have it as a bus shelter again? Even just a lick of paint would help…anything but this mess. I think if the Beatles saw this today Penny Lane would be in their ears and eyes for a whole different reason.

Things went from bad to worse as we visited Strawberry Fields. I was devastated. Something about the song had always made me picture luscious grass, children playing, families picnicking and the sounds of laughter and youngsters gathered under trees with guitars. Ok, I hadn’t been so silly to think there would actually be strawberries growing in patches, but I didn’t expect an overgrown field, with weeds, litter and two massive iron gates covered with graffiti where visitors had etched their names. It might have been iconic and very cultural in a strange way, but it was a shame. Despite this I still had my picture taken outside these landmarks and tried to picture how they would have been back in the day, how the musicians had seen these sites and influenced them into some of my favourite songs – it was hard to overlook the weeds though!

IMG_4891As a strange contrast the bus stopped outside the adolescent home of the McCartney’swhich has been well maintained and adopted by the National Trust. But shock horror was not open for us to look around, instead we just had to hear about it. Another missed opportunity. In fact the only place we went in was the Cavern Club – nothing to complain about there, I enjoyed it as much as any other underground drinking hole, but couldn’t help giggle at the story about the Council closing it down for a project that never went ahead – typical!

I just don’t get it. Perhaps it’s because I’m not an obsessive Beatles fan, but just someone who loves the story of their rise to fame, their songs and the cultural revolution. I mean I even did a 60s module at uni studying some Beatles songs, alongside fiction including Clockwork Orange. The tour was interesting but weird, and I was frankly flabbergasted that Liverpool City Council allowed millions of tourists to see such run down places every single day. Sure, there are always regeneration projects going on, but the shelter on Penny Lane could be a real tourist trap, just sprucing it up or making it into something to raise money etc would just improve the whole experience. I’m sure they have their reasons (planning restrictions etc) but I’m just surprised someone hasn’t snapped it up. No doubt about it The Beatles as a brand are a massive money-maker for Liverpool – and why shouldn’t they be – and Liverpudlians appear to be very proud of their lads! But apart from overpriced tourist traps and the Cavern Club I really don’t get it; I think the council should spend a little money on these famous landmarks and make a bit more of them even if its just to improve the appearance of the city and the impression people get.

Perhaps they could do some more of those Super Lamb Bananas with Beatles clothing on at each of the street names. Either way I don’t regret experiencing it, I’ve done it now – would I pay £16.95 to sit on a packed coach with some hyperactive scottish women singing along to Help! for two hours again? No but I’m glad my ostomy bag allowed me to get through the epic coach journey – nothing like a little help from your friends, eh?

 

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Now officially an award-winning journalist – just shows that no illness or surgery can hold you back


It’s hard to put into words what happened last night. For once in my life I have been left absolutely speechless, (which is probably a relief for most people who know me) and for once it’s because something amazingly good has happened and not because my bowel has fallen apart.

Me with the Coriams accepting my award - the proudest moment of my life

Me with the Coriams accepting my award – the proudest moment of my life

Last night I was named Weekly Journalist of the Year for the North West at the O2 Media Awards. To say the announcement was unexpected would be an understatement. Of course I knew I had been shortlisted as a nominee for the Young Journalist category and the Weekly Journalist category, but I never thought in a million years that I was going to win. The category was so strong. I hate the word gobsmacked, and my mum will shudder when she sees me using it, but for the first time in my life it’s the only word that can truly describe how I feel.

After everything that’s happened it feels like a miracle that I’ve won this prize. Things like this just don’t happen to little me. After years of battling through the constant side-effects and flares of Crohn’s/Colitis, achieving this award feels like one giant pat on the back. In fact it feels like being given a giant hug by the industry, like them saying “It’s ok, you’re still here and it’s going to be ok.”

In fact I’m more than ok. But I don’t think that’s sunk in yet. After 13 years I think it’s going to take a little while to realise that. Winning feels like sticking two fingers up to Crohn’s, surgery and all the, well basically, crap I’ve been through, and saying ‘screw you IBD”. Things are finally looking up.

The evening was magical. Yes we arrived exhausted and stressed from a two-and-a-half-hour journey through horrific traffic, and then our digital editor almost ran me over as I walked behind the car (lesson learned, it wasn’t intentional and she had been a hero driving us all there at short notice). But when we arrived at Liverpool Cathedral we were greeted by an ornate venue filled with glittering candles…it was just perfect.

I didn’t even begin to consider I even stood a chance of winning a prize. So when the Weekly Journalist category flashed up onto the screen revealing my goofy mug shot – which between you and me was of me eating a massive plate of spaghetti (I cropped the food out) – I thought ‘how ridiculous do I look’ before feeling a massive sense of relief when my face disappeared and was replaced by my friend and colleague Ellie’s picture and cuttings. To say I was surprised when it was announced that Ann and Mike Coriam were in the room to present the award would be putting it lightly.

I actually think in that moment my brain stopped working. People were smiling at me and saying it’s you…but I really couldn’t register anything.

Having Ann, Mike and Rachael Coriam present my prize was a real honour. Their

Rebecca Coriam

Rebecca Coriam

daughter, and Rachael’s sister, Rebecca, vanished without trace off the Disney Wonder Cruise Liner as it was sailing off the coast of Mexico on March 22 2011. She was just 24. The day Rebecca disappeared I was the first journalist to meet the Coriam family, and since then I have been in awe of their unswerving determination to find out the truth about what happened to their daughter – no matter what obstacles have been put in their way.

Ann and Mike have been through so much, and although I can’t begin to comprehend what they’ve been through, I feel like I’ve been with them every step of the way. They are truly remarkable people – the whole family are – who have been through and are still in so much pain. But despite everything they are determined to fight for answers and are on a hell-bent mission to stop what happened to their daughter happening to anyone else. I admire them for that.

The fact they took the time, despite all the bad times I must remind them of (the first heartbreaking press conference, the time some moron hacked into Rebecca’s twitter account and bank account, and all the false hope given by potential sightings) to come and give me this award means more than I can say. This family has been a large part of my career, and my life, and I would now consider them as friends – I hope they feel the same.

I felt like my heart would break as Ann praised my determination to not let people forget about their fight to find their daughter. And when the time came me to go up to the stage I felt like my legs were made of jelly. I couldn’t tell you what music was playing as I walked up, or what the woman with the microphone said as she shoved it right up my nose. I don’t think it even crossed my mind I had won, I was just so humbled they had turned up.

The finalists for the Young Journalist of the Year - aren't we a good looking bunch

The finalists for the Young Journalist of the Year – aren’t we a good looking bunch

God knows what I said to that packed room of industry leaders that night, the editor of the Echo Ali Machray reassured me I’d done fine, but for all I know I did the penguin soldier dance with my kickers on my head. I regret not saying anything about my family or colleagues but I was not prepared. After being raced off the stage I went for a far less intimidating interview backstage, by then the fog had started to lift and I was starting to realise that despite everything that had happened I had done it. I had made it through it all, I was still alive and I had won! I think I gabbled something about Ann and Mike and how amazing it was they were there – either way I’m sure whatever I said will be replayed again and again, and I have a horrid feeling it might even appear to haunt me on local tevelision – I hope it wasn’t embarrassing.

The rest of the night was a mixture of emotions and passed by in a whirlwind. I did see the Coriams as I left the interview and had a few lovely moments with them before they were whisked off for an interview. I don’t think any words could have described how humbled I was they were there and I’m afraid to think it didn’t come across as I was to shocked to even string sentences together at this point.

From then on the wine flowed and after recovering from my shock I joined in the celebrations as the Liverpool Echo won prize after prize for their amazing reports on the Hillsbourgh disaster. It was a fantastic evening, topped by my friend and fellow PA graduate Joe Thomas gaining the Young Journalist of the Year award, finally recognising his dedication and hardwork.

Funnily enough I missed the entire part of this evening. The wine and serious lack of food (we missed dinner) was taking its toll on my ostomy bag, which had been rapidly filling up and nearing explosion point for the majority of the evening, so I thought that it was the right time to rush to the loo and quickly avoid a scene. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It seems the moment I reached the bathroom to deal with Winnie they started the category, which, by the way I was nominated for. I happily chatted away to two of my favourite characters from Hollyhoaks about the Coriam family while my stories where appearing on the screen. As per usual I didn’t have my phone on me so no one could txt and warn me, and I’m kicking myself that i didn’t get a photo with them for the scrap book.

I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it that I met Alex Fletcher aka Dianne O’Connor, and Sophie Austin aka Lindsey Butterfield from Hollyoaks – possibly better known for appearing in Brookside. I even told them about having an ostomy…I’d like to say because I was trying to raise awareness but probably because I’d had too much wine and it felt like literally hours since someone asked me how I was feeling.

SO as per usual I arrived to something late because of having to go to the toilet. I made a bit of a scene racing towards the stage to collect my certificate in a total state of confusion. I could almost feel everyone that knows me smiling and thinking typical Rachel….it was fitting I suppose and made me laugh later, but I was gutted that I missed seeing my friend collecting his well deserved award.

So what does this all mean? You know what I’m not entirely sure. But in the moment my name was announced it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It might sound silly but it was like an invisible line was drawn across the room leaving all the illness and crap and heartache behind it. It felt like I was finally getting somewhere and that at last, hopefully, I won’t be stopped moving forwards in my life and career by this horrible illness. I’d finally done it and it had all been worthwhile.

Sorry this has been so long, but things like this do not happen every day, and I have to add that the award is not just for me but my family, friends and boyfriend who have kept me positive and stopped me giving up when no one else could. Also without the company I work for and the staff at the Chester Chronicle being so understanding about my illness I would not be a reporter today. People from all across Trinity Mirror have gone out of their way to help me, they didn’t have to, and for that I will forever be grateful.

A close call in court – the joys of court reporting with an ostomy and IBD


Before my operation my Crohn’s/Colitis made court reporting an almost impossibility.

Exactly!

Exactly!

I used to sit in agony in courtrooms wringing my hands together until they went white with pain under the press desk, jiggling my legs up and down to try to distract myself from the agonising need to go to the toilet – a need that never left me and always raised its ugly head at the most important moments of a case.

Covering the courts became both a joy and a punishment for me. The real challenge lay not in the reporting of the cases but the endless sitting and waiting, waiting, waiting for your case to come on. For most people the waiting would just be boring, for me it was agonising. While I was interested in the cases (if you have never sat in court and listened to mitigation and witnessed the general drama it is definitely a must – and is nothing like the telly) the constant need to race to the toilet every ten minutes made the waiting unbearable. I once dared to nip to the toilet after waiting through around three hours of driving offences, curfew amendments and restraining orders while feeling like my stomach was being ripped apart from the inside by a claw hammer. I remember racing out of the courtroom to the toilet – which is NEVER near enough to the courtroom you are in – thinking it will just be my luck if they finally hear my case now. I finally raced back to the courtroom five minutes later, still very much in the grip of the blood and pain, only to bump straight into the barristers for my case as they walked towards the Robing Room having heard the case – just typical.

Lesson learned – in the past two years I would rather have passed out than nipped to the toilet again!

Yes, I admit it the fear was always very real that I would pass out through the sheer effort of staying up right in my seat, and I am sure there were times that a jury member or even defendant has looked at me and thought ‘dear God that woman is about to collapse’. I lived in fear of an accident, and in even greater fear of someone making me move whenever a wave of pain flushed over me – when I was still I felt slightly more in control. And I am sure that all the press benches in the magistrates and crown courts that I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in have finger nail marks indented so far into the underside of the wood their imprints could almost be seen through the top.

So after years of covering court cases with the nightmare of my constantly flaring Crohn’s/Colitis, dealing with my ostomy while doing my job seemed like a reality walk in the park. Yes there was always the slight embarrassment of having my ostomy bag changing kit searched through by the security team, (and once or twice having to hand in my rounded cutting scissors at security as a ‘dangerous’ implement) but apart from that attending court was a relatively easy experience. So imagine my surprise when today my ostomy started acting up while I was sat in court patiently listening to each case and waiting for a jury to return. I won’t go into details but I could feel something was going on, and going on, and going on…and boy it just wasn’t holding back, in fact Winnie was going hell for leather. And for the life of me I couldn’t understand why.

So the next two hours were quite frankly hell. I quickly realised that Winnie was going to have to be emptied or we could end up with a pretty crazy situation in the courtroom. Basically Winnie was a ticking time bomb, and I sat sitting nervously trying to concentrate on my shorthand and what the counsel were saying to try to distract myself from the imminent explosion that was building up inside me. The pressure was unbelievable…but I was determined not to leave the room..my old fears about missing things while on the toilet returned and after grimacing through some of the worse pain of my life, there was not a chance in hell that I was going to miss the verdict because of my ostomy – yes, that is how stubborn I am.

Ok, the situation was made worse by my remaining colon continuing to contain active Colitis and me feeling the need to go all the time. The whole thing was unpleasant to say the least, and I just knew I needed to rehydrated and possibly stuff my face with marshmallows to stop this onslaught from Winnie or I would be in a whole new world of trouble soon.

The moment the judge broke for lunch was a blessed relief. I think I actually sighed audibly. As I stood up the weight of Winnie was horrendous and I had to hobble like I had bricks in my pants down the stairs, round the corner to the loo. Court toilets are never an extremely pleasant experience, but I won’t bore you with that.

By the time the day was over I had avoided several natural disasters and learnt a real lesson. While I was in agony with my IBD and the urgency and pain often led to accidents, I could often cope even though it meant me almost passing out with pain until I had a chance to reach a bathroom – with my ostomy this is not the case. There is no grin and bear it. Yes the pain is considerably less, yes the blood is there but it isn’t by the bucketload, but no I can’t stop the flow or ease the pressure when its started…if I wait, sooner or later she will fill up and then, eventually….BOOM! (now that would be a story)!

I will have to learn to cope with it. I love court reporting and I love my job, but I have to keep a close eye on things and remember I’m no superwoman, I’m still human…and, well, Winnie is just a stoma bag she’s not a miracle worker.

Night out with my ostomy – tricky leaks, revolting loos and challenge number 30


It’s official…I just can’t party like I used to. I just don’t bounce back anymore. The days where I used to stay up all night bouncing around clubs, swigging back cocktails and playing drinking games before heading to lectures at 9am after a couple of hours kip then heading back out for another late-night session, are well and truly behind me.

First night out with the girls since op!

First night out with the girls since It’s official I’m getting old.

More than 48 hours have passed since I dragged myself into bed with tired eyes, tired feet and an even heavier head than usual after getting in from an awesome yet crazy night out with the girls, and I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I just don’t seem to recover the way I used to, which would be fine, but I really didn’t drink nearly enough to warrant this kind of three-day hangover. And to make matters even worse Winnie (my stoma) has decided that she officially hates me (I think it has to do with all the dancing, sugar and possibly lifting my mates off the slippy dance floor) so much that she keeps having sneaky leaks totally ruining any clothing, bedding or flooring that is unfortunate enough to be close by at the time.

Saturday night was Rhian’s 30th birthday bash. And what a bash it was. Chips and champers at my old house (Ri and me lived together) before getting into a massive limo, which just needed P Diddy dressed in a fur coat to make it into pimp my ride, and heading for a night out in Liverpool. This was my first big night out since my op, and I was excited and I have to admit rather frightened by the prospect of subjecting Winnie (who has been leaking a lot recently) to heaving crowds of drunks, dirty toilets in clubs and my insane style of dancing. As we climbed into the limo I fell back into clutching my stomach protectively, as if trying to shield Winnie from any dangers the outside world might present, because you never know when someone’s going to charge at you or punch you in the stomach right?

A NIGHT OUT IN LIVERPOOL IS PART OF CHALLENGE #NO 30 – the VERDICT…AWESOME, BUSY, LOTS OF VARIETY, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS NEWCASTLE AND APPALLED THAT THERE ARE NO PUBLIC TOILETS AFTER 2AM (well not where we where, before my op – with IBD – this would have ruined my evening) 

PIMP MY RIDE!! I don't always travel in this much style btw

PIMP MY RIDE!! I don’t always travel in this much style btw

At start of evening I couldn’t keep my hand away from Winnie. As the crowds got bigger and the people around me got drunker and drunker, with crowds of girls tottering in their sky-high heels, I became more and more anxious about Winnie getting hurt. I could just imagine me flat-out on the floor, with some drunkard sprawled across me, legs flailing everywhere, with all their weight squashing Winnie into the dance floor. I could also imagine the inevitable trip to Liverpool’s A&E department, and I have to say I was determined not to add it to my list of A&E’s I have visited.

I'll have a water, waiting for the limo

I’ll have a water, waiting for the limo

Having had some champers in the house and limo when we got to Liverpool I decided to grab my second glass of water for the evening. The bar tender looked at me like I’d walked into his club, squatted down and done a number 2 on the floor when I asked him for the free shot we had been promised by the scouts outside with a glass of water. He looked revolted. How dare someone ask for H2O – I honestly thought he was going to jump on the bar and start shouting H20 HELL NO again and again Cayote Ugly style. He responded by telling me that you had to buy a drink to get the shot, but something about the look on my face must have shushed him into submission, and he handed me a tap of the worst tasting tap water I have ever drunk.

While the others drank and danced I weaved my way through packed crowds shielding Winnie with my hand of steel in search of the toilets so that I could check that she was behaving herself. It was only about 10.30pm and the scene in the toilets could only be described as carnage. The toilets were so poorly lit it was like trying to check my bag in a power cut. But even the bad lighting couldn’t disguise how revolting the place was. I don’t know what had been going on in those toilets, but it was like a chimp had gone mental throwing toilet roll all over the place, leaving used tampons, tissues and god knows what else strewn all over the floor. The result of this disgusting childishness was that although Winnie was full there was NO toilet roll in site, so despite the slight leakage and the impending explosion there was no way I could change her, and even if there had been, with the piss on the floor and disgustingness all around me there was NOT A CHANCE IN HELL I was about to play around with an open wound and a protruding organ in this loo…that was unless I wanted to end up in hospital on a drip for the rest of my Summer. Instead I fumbled around in the dark, using parts of a spare wound dressing to secure the edge of my bag, while drunk women banged on the door and shouted for me to hurry up…ARGH!! (I felt a little bit like a Blue Peter presenter making Tracy Island out of sticky back tape and toilet rolls, but under a lot more pressure).

Some of the night's shenanigans

Some of the night’s shenanigans

I have to say that I was amazed that after that hasty patch-up job my bag survived the night, but it did. And the toilet situation improved. Luckily the rest of the club’s had those women in who try to sell you lollipops and squirts of perfume. Yes, they annoyingly shout unintelligible things like market stall traders while your on the loo, making me jump while I was trying to empty my ostomy bag, but at least they keep the toilets clean and make sure there is an endless supply of loo roll – so I worship them!

The rest of the evening saw me advance from tentative shuffling to full on dancing the night away. Ok I restrained myself from doing any ‘how low can you go’ or the bumping and grinding some of the people in the club were doing for fear of having a massive hernia, but I got involved. I also spent a lot of the time searching for members of our party who just didn’t want to stay in the club, and picking my mates up off the dance floor, which quickly became a health and safety hazard…think skid pan covered in alcohol verses six-inch high heels.

I didn’t get in until around 4.30am after standing in the roughest taxi queues in the world in Chester. I know Chester. I’ve stood in some rough queues but this was dreadful, I find it hard to entertain extremely drunk people most of the time, but when it’s 4am and you’re stone cold sober and your bones hurt you’re so tired…let’s just say I was a little irritable, and that there was no better feeling than kicking off my high-heels and crawling into my trusty bed – that was until my feet cramped up into claws!!

The morning after the night before - urgh

The morning after the night before – urgh

I had a heck of a good time, and it was amazing to spend time with one of my bestest mates in the whole world, who has helped me through so much with this god awful illness over the years…but I am paying for it. Two days after the night out my stomach still feels like its been butted by a bull, which might have something to do with the dancing, but I think is mostly from the effort of picking people up off the floor. Winnie is in overdrive, and because I’ve only got small bags she keeps catching me by surprise and very sneakily destroying any underwear, bedding, flooring that might be near her when she decided to have a minor explosion. I don’t know why it’s happening, but she is really not very happy at all, and in turn it is making my skin and me fairly unhappy.

So I have no energy, an overproductive ostomy, and feet like claws. But was it worth it? Hell YEH!!!

Where’s Winnie at the races, at the seaside and doing ten rounds with Mike Tyson


Before I share any of the crazy adventures me and Winnie (the poo bag) got up to at the weekend, and

Please bid on these stunningly illustrated Disney books :)

Please bid on these stunningly illustrated Disney books 🙂

spill all my inner most thoughts and secrets, I must first ask you a massive favour….PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bid on the eBay items which we (me and Andy) are flogging following our Bargain Hunt style adventure a couple of weekends ago. If no one bids, not only will I be horrendously out-of-pocket (despite how über glamorous I always look I’m not rolling in cash, mostly because I am a lowly reporter, and I’m addicted to nail varnish and expensive coffee) and lumbered with even more (luxurious) yet pointless items cluttering up my already stuffed to the brim flat, but I will have FAILED, YES FAILED, one of my challenges. Surely you guys (my dedicated readers :)) can’t let that happen 😦 And, if what I fear will happen does indeed come true, I will not even break even let alone raise mountains of cash for Crohns and Colitis UK to help them in their fight to help people understand the true pain of this evil, evil illness and possibly even find a cure!!!

WHY would you not want an amazing MANDY ANNUAL???

WHY would you not want an amazing MANDY ANNUAL???

I am not trying to emotionally blackmail you all (perhaps I am a little) but imagine the SHAME of me failing to sell an item on eBay. It was meant to be one of my simplest challenges, but the fact that no one has bid on the items which I battled exhaustion, hunger and a very hyperactive stoma to source out for you lovely people to buy, is making this challenge the hardest and most demoralising one I have faced so far….So please PLEASE PLEASE put a smile back on my face and bid on my lovely items…trust me you won’t regret it 🙂 Just remember a lot of determination, sweat and (almost) tears went into finding these goodies from those 400+ stalls…you would be raising money for a very good cause, saving me the humiliation of having to post on here that I have failed and sending a giant cheque with the figure £0.00 to an amazing charity…and make a little, very tired and sleep-deprived young lady and schizophrenic stoma bag very happy indeed, and stop her looking like this (pic of me in black and white looking very miserable):

If you don't bid, me, Andy and Winnie will be soo blue and never smile again!!

If you don’t bid, me, Andy and Winnie will be soo blue and never smile again!!

If you want to bid on the amazing items – a vintage Man United book; Stunning 20th C Japanese miniature cup and saucer; Knightrider collector’s item; Winnie the Pooh Book; Disney education and tales album set; Classic Mandy Annual; Sooty Book and a Bronze ornament of a brass player – please click on the links above (the words underlined DOH!!) or the picture (to right) which will take you to the seller’s page!

Anyway, now that the emotional blackmailing is over and done with, I can tell you about Me and Winnie and our rather exciting, exhausting and windswept weekend. Basically what follows is the story of a weekend where Winnie’s non-stop teenage tantrums finally pushed me into the dark world of gambling; Winnie suffered her first panic attack (or it may well have been stage fright) and I learnt a key rule to life with a temperamental stoma – never wear a jumpsuit!!!

So after months of waiting the girly day at the Races finally arrived. On Saturday morning I woke up after another typically restless night feeling exhausted and suffering from such crippling fatigue that I could hardly muster the energy to walk to the bathroom let alone spend a whole day screaming at horses and standing around in six-inch stilettos. All I had wanted, prayed for, begged for, was one decent night’s sleep, so that I wouldn’t wake up looking like a zombie crawling out of a grave with massive bags under my eyes and my hair stuck up like Sonic the Hedgehog…but, alas God obviously had other plans for me, and typically the night before the Races saw me sat bolt up right in bed with my normal skin crawling itchiness, and my poor broken body screaming to sleep while my brain ticked away over every problem, flaw and tiny hang-up, wittering on and on about how Winnie would leak and all the thousands of unnaturally good-looking punters were going to see crap dripping down my dress (pardon my French). I know that seems ridiculous, and the chances of that actually happening where, quite frankly, next to none, but I couldn’t get the image out of my head that I was going to have an accident in a very public place, and that, when it happened I would be stood in a pool of crap directly in front of a large gang of heavily made-up girls who would all laugh and point and shout “Ewh she’s got s**t dripping down her leg…”she is, isn’t she, she’s sh***ing herself” !! or some other horrible comment, involving me and a pile of excrement. All night I sat awake trying to distract myself by reading Clare Bolding’s autobiography, but nothing could shake the image of Winnie deciding to have her first proper paddy in the middle of Chester Racecourse and me, red-faced and humiliated, being escorted out of the paddocks by burly security guards and manhandled into the back of a police car for ‘defecating in a public place’.

Me and my beautiful girlies at Chester Races

Me and my beautiful girlies at Chester Races

On the day I needn’t have worried at all, because Winnie, out of fright or in an attempt to prove that I had seriously misjudged her, decided that she would simply stop working. She pretty much went on strike for the afternoon, and didn’t let a single morsel of food, gas or anything else that could have caused some sort of unpleasant surprise pass through her pink gates. You would think I would have been relived that I wasn’t having to run to the bathroom and back to sort out the growing bulge under my extremely pretty dress – if you haven’t met Winnie yet, you’re in for a treat.. she performs an amazing but humiliating magic trick, transforming me from a very slender size six into a beached whale, which is eight months pregnant with obese triplets…and most amazingly of all she does this magical trick in a blink of an eyelid – I wasn’t at all relieved. In fact, you could say that I was terrified by her new stunt. This was the first time that Winnie had gone on strike and it was pretty damn worrying. From the moment we walked into the racecourse Winnie just decided.. ‘nope, I am not playing this game, I am not going to work, I am going to block-up’, and she did – very effectively I might add. So while my friends sipped horrendously expensive champagne and shouted at their chosen horse to get its butt into gear (ok, not their exact words), I worried and worried about Winnie, constantly prodded her through my dress and, well pretty much spent the whole day panicking about whether there was something seriously (like rush to A&E and slit me open) wrong with her, and through attachment to my body, seriously wrong with me!!

The result of all this worrying is that I must have had a rather quizzical and bemused look on my face for the entire day, something that I blamed on not understanding the betting system, (which is true, I still don’t understand the odds, ranking or returns) and, to all of the thousands of people who saw my grumpy and concerned features, I must have come across as a right moody cow and a proper party pooper.

So anyway, anyway, anyway, back to the morning events. For months I have seriously pined for this amazing perfume which is well out of my measly trainee reporter’s salary price range. Let’s just say that if I wanted to buy it I would have to live off fresh air and baked beans for a couple of weeks – but then again the perfume would cancel out the horrible smelling gas from the student-esk diet!! #lol!! In fact I love the perfume so much that every day since the lovely lady in Debenhams squirted the yummy scent on my wrist I have dragged my exhaus

Awh my amazing gift from my amazing bf

Awh my amazing gift from my amazing bf

ted and broken body all the way to Browns in Chester to spray on Victor &Rolf’s Flowerbomb, just so that I don’t have to fork out the £70 to buy it. I have been doing this daily trip for almost six weeks now. I like to think of it as the  cheapest way to own a perfume….but in the past week or so I have been forced to try other perfumes. You see the staff are not stupid and have started to cotton on to what I am doing, and are now really rather annoyingly hanging around the Victor&Rolf stand and asking me if I need any help with my purchase, forcing me to make up elaborate stories about birthday lists, wedding presents and anniversaries – It was seriously getting to the point where I was going to be shamed into buying the product or be arrested for stealing hundreds of pounds worth of free perfume!! Anyway after waking from his angelic slumber and turning to face the Creature From The Black Lagoon, my lovely boyfriend walked me into town and bought, yes bought me the biggest bottle of Flowerbomb he could find. It was the singular most lovely and romantic gesture, which was totally ruined by the satisfied and knowing look of the saleswoman, whose eyes screamed “Thief Thief Thief” as she scanned the hideously expensive gift through the till. And, as a final act of disdain, she even refused to give me the pretty pink gift bag, instead thrusting the box into a clearance plastic carrier bag, which made us look like we had just been shopping at Poundland, not spent the equivalent of a week’s wages (ok, I’m over-egging this, but you get my point) on a bottle of perfume.

Anyway, after returning back to the flat happy as a Spring chicken with my first ever bottle of ‘real’ perfume – when I say ‘real’ I mean not mixed with water or bought for £10 from an Avon catalogue. Well, I was happy until I realised I had less than two hours to get ready, then I turned into a ranging maniac, racing around the place and basically stressing at my poor boyfriend (bear in mind that he had just spent a horrendous amount of cash on me just to see me smile) and unceremoniously shoving him out of the door so I could jump in the shower and scrub away any morsel of dirt, sweat or anything else minging in an attempt to transform myself from the crazy, sleep deprived madwoman in the mirror into a stunning Princess. It seemed like ‘Mission Impossible’, and it really was. Time raced past as I attempted to tame my wild hair, which I luckily had had cut and coloured the day before so only needed re-blowdrying and straightening, and slather myself with layers of makeup. I lost valuable minutes when Winnie decided to start working while I was changing her, spitting out yesterday’s dinner on my bath matt as I searched frantically for kitchen-towel and realised I had no idea where the dressings for Oscar where. Eventually, after days of consideration I had settled on the black dress, which was, and still is a big deal. I’m not sure if I have already told you (if I have I’m going to tell you all again anyway GROAN) but

Ready for the Races - THE DRESS

Ready for the Races – THE DRESS

I bought THE DRESS at Warehouse (my favourite shop, but can only afford, well justify, buying things in the sale) before I knew I was going to have my operation. At the time buying the dress was a big risk as: a) I committed the cardinal sin of not trying it on; b) it was basically backless so I wouldn’t be able to wear a bra; and c) it was long, and before my op I never, literally never wore dresses past my knee. THE DRESS is daring and well totally glamourous….I bought it because I loved it, and when, on the painful afternoon following my operation I bit the bullet and bagged up all the clothes I knew I would never be able to wear again due to the birth of Winnie, it almost ended up in the charity shop bag, but was saved only because I decided to keep it in the hope that one very special day I would be daring enough to at least try it on in the comfort of my own home. So imagine my surprise on Saturday when I put on THE DRESS and it fitted perfectly, in fact if you have to be picky you could say that it was a tad on the big size for my tinie post surgery frame. I was ecstatic and decided straight away that if I didn’t wear this dress to the races I would not only regret it, but I would most probably never find another moment to wear it again in my whole life. I owed it to the dress 🙂 I looked fabulous, in fact you couldn’t see Winnie at all! I was amazed…you would have to look really really close to spot the tell-tale creases of the over-lapping bags, but really you couldn’t see her at all 🙂 RESULT!!! One thing I had totally forgotten in a typical me way was that although it was getting rather warm outside it might get nippy later, and, with the open back and all I wouldn’t be wearing a bra…yes, you’ve guessed it, I forgot to get the nipple covers. WHOOPS!! So after all that trying to disguise Winnie I undoubtably drew attention to myself by having rock hard nipples sticking out through my stunningly shear dress as the wind picked up during the last race!! EEK!!

Dreaming of winning big!!

Dreaming of winning big!!

Anyway the day was gloriously hot, and despite ending up with a rather odd suntan due to the criss-cross style of my dress 🙂 it was a perfect day to join the flocks of punters tottering in their ridiculously high high-heels to Chester Racecourse. Despite Winnie’s protest I had a fantastic time, I didn’t win, but there again I didn’t bet anything that in theory I couldn’t afford to lose, so I would have never won big. I had a few frustrating moments, such as when I was determined to bet on one horse but changed my mind at the very last-minute, and, you guessed it folks, that horse won, while mine may aswell have had two legs as it came tripping over the finishing line what felt like a year after all the others were back tucked in the stables. Well I suppose I did win twice, but that was when me and two of my mates decided to club together £2 each (ooh last of the big spenders) to put a bet on three of the horses, and as there were only four in the race we won….well I say we won, we got our £2 each back and an extra £4 on both occasions – which meant my total winnings for a hard day at the Races equated to a grand £2.60 – not even enough for a glass of water!!!

After the races my feet felt like they were literally going to fall off. Having not really walked in high-heels since before my operation a whole day standing in the baking heat wearing extremely pretty, but very uncomfortable glittery shoes, had left my feet screaming for my peppermint cream and the safety and snugness of my pink fluffy slippers. And I wasn’t the only one who felt like my feet were going to snap in two. So, head hung in disappointment I staggered back home, totally gutted that I for once felt well (well not really, but better than normal) enough to hit the town and experience my first Races drink in the city, but was being let down by my stupid and treacherous feet. All I had wanted to do since the start of the day

Me and my friend with the backs of our dresses

Me and my friend with the backs of our dresses

was to go to a new bar in Chester called The Church – basically an old derelict church which had been transformed into a luxury bar and restaurant but still had all the original features – and drink a glass of champagne, to basically say, I DID IT…I MADE IT THROUGH ALL THIS HELLISH CRAP!!! But it seems no one else really wanted to do that, and around half an hour later I found myself back at the flat wearing my trusty nightie and attempting to wipe the layers of makeup off my face. I was gutted, I had been made to do the sensible thing, and it was a total anticlimax…I felt cheated of my celebratory return to the night-life scene and like I was being forced to admit I was still to sick to be my fun, sexy, 20-something-self!

And if that wasn’t unfair enough, the moment I peeled off my dress Winnie decided she was abandoning her strike. In fact she did it with such gusto that I spent the rest of the evening racing backwards and forwards to the toilet – and to make sure I was reminded he was there Oscar threw in a few paddies just for good measure! Despite only having two small, and horrendously expensive glasses of wine, (oh and a glass of race’s champagne kindly donated to my experience by my friend, SSSSH don’t tell), I spent the entire evening feeling like I had been hit, and then reversed over by a bus carrying horrendously obese people to fat camp. I mean it really was unfair!! It was a night filled with endless nausea, sweating, and gurgling and groaning from places I didn’t know existed, and to top it all off all the other hardcore Racegoers where partying hard into the early hours of the morning almost right outside my door, not helping the unrelenting insomnia by rubbing it in my face that they were having an amazing time while sensible me was curled up in a ball of agony wishing I would die.

Home and upset

Home and upset

The next morning I woke up looking like hell, a common occurence these days (as you can see), and feeling like I had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson in the few hours of sleep I had managed to grab. It literally felt like an elephant had walked into my room and sat on my chest in the middle of the night. I could hardly stand up straight as I raced to the bathroom to empty Winnie who was, as per usual, so full she was on the brink of causing a nuclear poop explosion in my pretty bedroom. As I was trying to sort myself out and make myself look slightly human, changing Winnie after Oscar bizarrely managed to fill up with soapy water while I was having a shower PANIC STATIONS PEOPLE!!! when Andy arrived to take me to his house for a relaxing day reading and starting to learn Francias (which I hope is French for French #lol). Now at this point, taking into account that Winnie was obviously in a foul mood so I would undoubtably be needing to pop to the loo every 5 minutes to empty her, I have literally no idea why I thought “ooh, today would be a good day to wear my new jumpsuit”. Yes people a jumpsuit, you know the outfit that you have to literally spend half-an-hour undoing to have a pee. It is the straightjacket of the fashion world – even Houdini himself would struggle to get out of a jumpsuit in a bathroom related emergency.

Me sooo fashionable...sooo the wrong choice

Me sooo fashionable…sooo the wrong choice

To make matters worse, when we got out to the car we decided (yes, for argument’s sake I’m going to say it was a joint decision) that we weren’t going to spend the day lazing around the house in a hung over style state, scoffing our faces and watching re-runs of The Vicar of Dibley etc…instead we were going to drive around 2 hours to the seaside in Wales. This idea was put forward by Andy, and because I couldn’t think of anything better to do, and the weather seemed glorious in Chester and I assumed it would be the same in Wales, I agreed. BIG MISTAKE!! Firstly, we all know how I feel about car journeys, and how the state of Britain’s roads make me feel like I have just ridden a camel over a rocky mountain range, so while the two-hour car journey offered up some breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside as we passed through Snowdonia, I spent the majority of it curled up in a ball almost crying through pain and getting increasingly angry that the silly mountain ranges were making my phone signal die and I could no longer Tweet my pain to everyone in the world. And, secondly, I could not have been more wrong about the weather. We turned up at the quaint seaside village dressed in summer clothes, with not a jacket, or waterproof between us, to find we had left the Summer weather behind in Cheshire and here we were faced with a typical British summer day, with nippy winds that tore through my thin playsuit and left Winnie shaking to  the core. I must have looked  right idiot as most people were quite rightly dressed for an autumnal day, wearing parkas and jackets, while I was wearing floral jumpsuit and a demin jacket, and to top it off I was wearing my rock star shades – which ended up not being a ridiculous as they looked as they saved my eyes from being filled with the sand which sandblasted us whenever we dared to walk too close to the sand.

Anyway we managed to find a restaurant, where we had the normal issues of waiters and chefs struggling with my diet and I ended up making up my own odd sounding meal which was surprisingly ok. I battled with my playsuit again and again as Winnie filled-up faster than I was able to cope with!! In fact I am almost sure that she was doing it in the hope that someone would walk in on me in the tiny, fly infested toilet, with my playsuit round my ankles exposing my bare breasts to the world, as yes, because of my painful scar I wasn’t wearing a bra!!

Very windy and sandblasted

Very windy and sandblasted

It was a lovely little town and we had a lovely time, but due to the weather and my terrible fashion blunder we must have started the drive back just under 2 hours after we arrived! Poor Andy, driving two hours with me whining the whole way, to enjoy a mediocre meal and getting sandblasted and then being forced to drive another 2 hours back home…luckily for him I slept the whole way back and woke up with a stiff neck and feeling grumpy and disoriented.

So what have I learnt from this experience…NEVER WEAR A ONSIE OR PLAYSUIT WHEN STOMA IS ACTING UP, AND ALWAYS TAKE A JACKET!!

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!!