Friday, 18 July 2014

Another interesting week - friends, family, and dreams.

Social Media.

I am a prolific, some say, Tweeter and Facebook poster. I was invited to a face-to-face social networking event called a Tweet-Up. What is a Tweet-up? You may ask. It is simply an opportunity to put a face to all those names with whom you chat on a regular basis. The host introduces each part of the event and you can make some interesting connections. Usually there is the dreaded 30 or 60 second individual introduction by everyone. (See Talking the Talk:Getting the Message Across for overcoming nerves and preparation.) There is sometimes a speaker on relevant business issues and a chance to mingle.  If not - well you have got out from behind the desk and back into the real world. 
It is some time since I have been to a tweet-up and was looking forward to connecting at the North Wales Tweets event at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Wrexham which is only a stone's throw away for me. 
This monthly event was a little different; what I understand is a regular, weekly, on-line #nwhour of tweeting, continued here where everyone was focused on their phones and tablets to chat about things to people in the room. It was both preceded and followed by open networking where you could mingle and introduce yourselves. 
I have to say that Jaz Gabeen did a brilliant job in coordinating the event. We had a short chat at the end. I managed to take some pictures from a distance with my phone so apologies if they are not our usual quality. Click here for the Facebook album.
I don't know who provided the cake to sustain us but it was delicious and Becky treated us to a few songs with her powerful voice.
Other people I mingled with were:
Dave Ledward who runs #nwalestweets -Keeping North Wales Social. 
Nikki and colleague from Job Vacancy Portal (Prestatyn).
Debbie Thomas of Grangewood Copywriting. We shared an interest in the learning and development side of HR.
Ms Gaz Jabeen a Dance Teacher . Choreographer from Bollywood Burnout. 
James from 5%Plus Speciality beers from around the world. He runs the Bar at events.
Dan Salisbury of DLS Business Solutions. Web Design and Hosting.
@Chester Tweets.
And last but not least Phil Woods. Editor/F1 Journalist of Pit Lane Reporter. Quite a character. We had an interesting chat about publishing, jacket design, eBook formatting etc as he has written two books.

Different stages of life - a reflection.

I sometimes reflect that as children we simply played with our friends with the only care in the world was what to spend our pocket-money on; which sweets would we choose in the local sweetie shop. As teens we discussed clothes, shoes and the latest pop records - Pat Boone, Cliff Richards, The Shadows as we listened to the latest release through the headphones in the record shop's (Dawsons?) sound-proofed booth. As twenty some-things we discussed babies. Into our thirties it was growing children and their teens. The forties and fifties brought tales of travel and more agonising over adult children. Now  we still discuss families and travel but the main topic of conversation is, I hate to say, about our husbands and our own various limitations and ailments. Knees, hearts, joints, backs - you name it! What will the next era bring? Nursing homes et al?

Getting fit.

Draft cover for The Long Leg of Italy.
Copyright.Christal Publishing
In an effort to alleviate some of the problems mentioned in the last paragraph, I am being very good and sticking to my plan of an Aquafit session for an hour on a Monday plus a session in the gym followed by a gentle swim in the nice warm pool on a Thursday. I think it is starting to work. My hamstrings have a bit more stretch and I did more in the Aquafit exercise class this week. The dates are in my diary not to be moved.


The Long Leg of Italy. Amidst all this I did manage to get to the end of editing the chapter on 'The Hidden Lakes, Alps, and Dolomites of Northern Italy' this week. Re-playing our video film was, I found, quite emotional as I re-lived the whole tour. Actually the whole book has been an emotional journey spanning many years, as our first visit on a three cities tour independently was when we had only been abroad twice before - in middle-age. Next to edit is 'Our Journey to the South'.  Watch this space.
All this editing, creativity, and software manipulation certainly keeps the grey cells in shape
Enjoy the weekend.

Rosalie xx

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Exploring Lisbon and the Estoril Coast.

Lisbon - the capital of Portugal -  is such a wonderful, vibrant city with much history and diversity. The old quarter of the Alfama contrasts with the more modern part of the city, sitting as it does on the Tagus Estuary.

Further down the coast to the west lies cosmopolitan Estoril which can be easily reached by a short train ride from Lisbon. Well worth a visit for the shops,the Tamariz beach with its wonderful waters, and the long promenade which leads to Cascais on the tip of this coast.

When young Charlotte fell into a dream and found herself - now all grown-up -  in Portugal with her friend Daisy she got into all kinds of escapades.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Another sneak peek into Rosie's adventures in Ireland.

Touring across Ireland to Westport. What happened when Rosie returned. Today - Further Afield.

Book stores in Westport, Co.Mayo, Ireland.
". . . The following day – Friday – we decided to set out for Castlebar. Firstly, we went into Westport town to browse the shops and try to catch the owner of the little specialist bookshop which carried unusual books. We hung around for a bit, as we thought it may be our last chance. Eventually he appeared, striding along with his dog at his side. He had e-mail access and had replied to my earlier correspondence. I had followed-up with a telephone call whereupon we had a lovely conversation, so I did not feel that we were strangers now. We had a small chat in the shop before making our way back to the car to start our calls for the day. It was still quite early; the town was just waking up.
Westport is such a pretty town with flower baskets everywhere. The river, flowing through the centre, is so tranquil. It was lovely to see that the shops had not lost their individuality even though they were modern and up-to-speed inside. The Tourist Office had moved since our last visit. Then, it had been housed in a small building on one side of the river in the Mall;   quite near what had been the Railway Hotel where I first started to recount our experiences in 1998 and where Just Us Two  was born. Now we found that the Tourist Information Centre was housed in a magnificent building. Very imposing it was with its white pillars and steps up to the door. It was very modern inside and much better suited to provide the variety of services needed, along with a gift shop for souvenirs. There was plenty of room to browse and queue if it was a busy time.
The Railway Hotel I have just mentioned was now a hotel no more. Instead, it had been converted to a suite of apartments. What a wonderful location in which to live, right in the centre of town with the river running in front of it and everything close to hand!  We noticed on one of the roads out of town that there was now a big supermarket. Now that was progress!
Heading to Castlebar, we just followed the signs. After the events of the previous day, we both agreed that we would just follow the signs, park up and look for information of the location of the bookshop we were looking for. Parking up as best we could, as by now the town was busy, we found an information board on the corner of the street. I was worried in case we would get a ticket as parking instructions were not clear but we took a chance. Finding our bearings, we headed towards the main street. It was nearing lunchtime by now. A little early but we had a lot to do. As we came from the car, we passed some very old buildings in what appeared to be a little ‘close’ with a grassed area bordered by railings, nearby. It was all very peaceful and pretty.
Castlebar is a lovely town; it has a very long main street with shops and pubs of all kinds. The street was thronged with shoppers strolling and people hurrying along as they went about their business. I looked around and reflected how vibrant everything was. Across the road, we saw a couple of pubs and thought that the one on the corner looked OK. It was painted black and looked very old and very much like a traditional Irish pub. Going inside we made our way to what looked like a back room but was really an extension of the bar where they served food. Squeezing into a booth, we caught our breath as we looked around in wonder, drinking in the uniqueness [to us] of our surroundings. . . ."
Order the Paperback.
Download the eBook

Rosalie xx

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Planning a Trip to Ireland? Where to Go - A Sneak Peek.

Touring across Ireland to Westport. What happened when Rosie returned. 

"When planning our journey, I had searched the Internet for good deals and facilities on hotels and had decided on the excellent Westport Woods Hotel and Spa as a base as it was

more central for our family visits combined with our itinerary of visiting booksellers stocking our book. This modern hotel is set in extensive grounds on the edge of town, not far from Westport Quay. With a large comfortable lobby and a choice of the more formal but stylish restaurant or the contemporary Café Bar with waiter ‘service-with-a-smile’, the scene is set for a relaxing stay. The hotel is near to the grounds of the 18C Westport House and gardens – the home of the Marquess of Sligo – which is open to the public. The grounds also house a Pirate Adventure Park. Westport House was built on the site of an old castle, which was owned by the Irish Pirate Queen, Gráinne Ní Mháille (O’Malley).
In Ballycroy Churchyard.
Westport Town. County Mayo, Ireland.

Croagh Patrick from Shranamanragh
A short stroll down the road is Westport Quay and Harbour. Well actually, a bit more than a short stroll. We did not go down there this time, as the road back is quite steep but on our first visit in 1998 we explored more and spent some happy hours down by the quay before strolling through the woods and grounds of Westport House. 
I still wonder if my grandparents used to come here when they were younger, but then, Ballycroy is quite a way from Westport so I expect that visits were on high days and holidays. One of my cousins (second cousin-once-removed) once told me that in days gone by, our forebears (grandparents and uncles) walked from Knockmoyleen, Shranamanragh and Ballycroy to Westport to catch the boat to America and the UK, carrying their shoes around their necks.
‘Why?’ I asked in naivety and ignorance, not fully understanding the conditions at that time.
‘Because they only had one pair of shoes,’ was the dry reply.
Such was the poverty at that time and I am talking about the very early 1900’s – not so very long ago. The road from the harbour and quay with its small fishing tackle shop, carries on to take you west, past Croagh Patrick, to Louisborough on the coast. Here you could enjoy an ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlour to refresh you before the journey back to Westport or beyond.
A large part of our itinerary involved touring through County Mayo to Castlebar, Ballyhaunis and Tuam; north to Ballina and Sligo; east to Cavan; south to Ballinasloe in County Galway. This offered the opportunity to see a good deal of the surrounding area. Sometimes ‘eventually’ was the operative word as Sat Nav recovered and took charge once again. Firstly, we planned to re-visit our cousins in Achill and Knockmoyleen. We had been in touch by post and telephone to make the arrangements beforehand. Both were disappointed that we could not stay with them. The hospitality in Ireland has to be seen to be believed."
Rosie eventually left her heart in Ballycroy. Find out why.

An excerpt from Chasing Rainbows: with Just Us Two. Adventures continued with a return to Andorra - eventually - after going into the French Alps and more. At last they went to the top of the mountain in Ordino in Andorra and more. . .

Rosalie x
** These photos are not in the book but there are many others. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Paddling in the warm sea of Barmouth Bay.

At this time of year, when many are jetting off to the sunshine of far away lands, there are many who stay at home in the UK. We are one of them, preferring to sample the delights of other countries 'away from the madding crowds'.
Yesterday, we set off to a little known corner of North Wales - Barmouth Bay. Barmouth lies on the west coast of Wales at the entrance of the Mawddach Estuary. The Afon (River)
Mawddach Estuary - map powered by Leaflet.
Mawddach flows into the sea at Dolgellau below the mountains of Snowdonia.

Starting our journey from Wrexham we headed down to the A483 and at Chirk took the A5 towards Llangollen. This is where we were first greeted by the sheer beauty and changing scenery of the North Wales mountains. Tediously following a slow-moving motor home with a car on tow for getting around once parked up, we followed it all the way to the Bala turn-off after which we eventually were able to pass when the driver thoughtfully pulled over. Passing the long length of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) we took the turning for Dolgellau. From here we were not heading to Barmouth but to the other side of the estuary and Arthog near Fairbourne.  It had been many years since we visited the area with our children, although we had ridden the roads many times on our Gold Wing motorbike ride-outs.
Passing the sign for the toll road which links the two sides of the estuary at a narrow point, we followed the direction which we had been had given. They were spending a get-away-week at a cottage near Arthog with the dogs.

Arthog and Fairbourne in Gwynedd.

The cottage - Bron Aber - more  a  bungalow really, nestled in the hillside below the Cader Idris mountain. It is  well off the beaten track but near enough to civilisation to be in easy reach of all there is to explore. We were blown away by the setting with views down the rolling hillside, the stream bubbling through the gardens which also stepped down the hillside. The cottage had everything that you could wish for. After lunch and chat on the terrace I elected to join the others into Fairbourne to walk the dogs. Passing the point where the railway crosses the estuary on its journey around the coast, we headed towards the beach. Parking up we scrambled over the stones and down the ramp to the sea which lapped quietly on the golden sand in the stiff breeze.
Kicking off my sandals, I headed towards the sea for a paddle. Surprisingly the water was warm. After the sometimes initially cold sea in hot countries, this was a real surprise. Fairbourne has a long, sandy, flat beach. One part is designated a 'no dog' area which is fair. On the other side they can bound across the sands at will. A large grey helicopter droned overhead as it hugged the shore and flew around the headland. Probably it came from the RAF base on Anglesey. Possibly on training manoeuvres. After all our exertions we decided to head back to the cottage to check on the meal in the oven and then pop across the estuary to Barmouth. My husband joined us this time. 


'Yes, you can have an ice cream!', he laughingly commented before I had a chance to say anything.(We always have an ice cream on days out. It has become a tradition.)
We jogged and bumped over the wooded road which is the toll road over the esturary. Parking up by the promenade in Barmouth, we wandered around and found a delightful ice cream parlour on a more sheltered harbour-side. The delightfully named Kickerbockers Ice Cream Parlour was a cornucopia of all thinks pink and fancy. From the pink signs, multicoloured huge candy swirls just waiting for you to buy and sample, all the lights and 'false' ice cream sundae glasses on the shelf behind filled with swirls of multi-coloured ice cream, it was a step back in time. Sitting outside to lick on our ice creams, the dogs lapped up the water thoughtfully proved in special bowls marked 'Dog'. 
Later, after a wonderful day out with family and refreshed by the sea air, sunshine, and breezes, we wended our way through the lush, green roads back home.