Monday, 20 October 2014

Blinking in the sunshine.

A change of focus as I go out in the world. 

The last few weeks have seen me diverting from my usual activities as I abandoned the comfort of my comfy chair and well-organised desk in what I call 'my cubby-hole.  I went over the county border out into the community to deliver a series of workshops to young entrepreneurs - or as I called them - the tycoons of tomorrow.

I am impressed with the support which Flintshire, through various initiatives, are providing for those who have dreams and want to start their own business. I take my hat off to all of them.

The Flintshire Enterprise Club /Dragon's Den Cymru offers support and engagement to people of all ages. The two groups which I met over three weeks were all at different stages of development in their fledgling businesses.

The purpose of the workshops was to guide them on how to deliver an effective talk or presentation.

I have to say, that I personally learned a lot. The two groups were diverse with the second group hoping to present their business to the forthcoming Dragon's Den Cymru.

I was also impressed that the Community Centre which I visited had a link with the school which adjoins the building. The IT suite was brilliant with the computers being linked into wide screens. (I first came across this collaboration when I started to visit my local gym and pool where nearby schools have full use of the pool and activity facilities.)

I try to inspire others to push back their boundaries but I have to say that these young people - of varying ages and abilities - inspired me. All I can say is 'thank you'. It was good to get back 'to the coal face' so to speak.

Rosalie xx

Read my article on LinkenIn

Friday, 10 October 2014

Precision Timing in the Pool

Weighing up the obstacles.

My twice weekly visits to our local leisure and activity centre go on, tempting though it is to skip one or two.
Monday is Aquafit day for me . It is on my planner as a fixture to be treated as an appointment. The exercises, although appearing to be gentle - well they are really - actually feel quite strenuous. There I have just contradicted myself! Twisting and turning, stepping forward and backwards through the water is not easy. The water flows around you as you march forward and then, on a shout from our Instructor, we go backwards with the water still flowing forwards. We march to the front, turn and march left, turn and march to the back wall, turn and march to the right before turning back to the front. We do contortions in the water; contortions which would be impossible for most of us out of the water. All good for the joints and mobility. And, I must say, working.

All good fun, especially when the polystyrene dumb-bells  come out of the netting. Now they are really hard work but it is a testimony to their effectiveness that I find them easier than in July. I am enjoying the lively music. I didn't enjoy this week though as the water was decidedly cold. Not just cooler than normal but a 'Brr' when you step in and submerged further down the pool. I didn't stay long; worried about standing in cold water for such a long period. (I think that they have been having problems.)

Onwards to later in the week for my gym and gentle swim session.

Dressed in my special blue activity trousers, bright pink t-shirt emblazoned with Centre Wings Andorra 2010 in silver on the front, and my polka dot blue lace up pumps, I feel ready for business. ( When enquiring about footwear for the gym and protesting that I didn't like trainers, I was curtly told 'it is not a fashion show'! I can be fashionable and sweaty can't I? I don't have to look scruffy simply because I am going for a work-out do I?)
The state-of-the-art gymnasium is wonderful. The lively music is encouraging; there are slots for iPlayers etc.; there is a choice of TV channels on the machines which have screens where you can set an exercise programme. Not wanting to develop muscles like Popeye, I set the weights for strength and mobility - keeping them lowish and something how I used to have them ten years ago. No, let's be honest - low!

The scales which I assume are accurate give me a lower reading than our digital ones at home. I am encouraged, albeit falsely but encouraged all the same. At least they are not higher!

To the pool.

When I first started in the pool in July, it was fairly empty in the general swimming slot in the afternoon. (General swimming means that it is for any age and you can go whichever way you want to and not keep to lanes as in the lane swimming slot.) In my case this means across the lanes as I have to be where I can touch the bottom and not drown.

As the weeks have gone by, along with the water getting cooler, it has got busier with some very strong swimmers.

So there we are readers, As these strong swimmers are racing up and down, I am keeping my eyes peeled for an opening to 'paddle' across in safety and not get mown down under the watchful eye of the lifeguard.
Yesterday, the water was surprisingly and thankfully warm again. Ready for the off, to my right I could see a silver head powering down the pool, arms trusting in the air before slicing through the water. Then to my left, I saw a black head bobbing up and down as another hulk  made light work of powering up and down in an underwater breast stroke. Two ladies swimming gently along while they chatted, laughingly looked on.
'I will get mown down if I am not careful', I commented.
As one passed one way and one the other, I spied my chance and moved off hoping to get across before they caught me up on the return journey! It really was a work of art. 

Perhaps I should brave a little deeper? I must have done it once to get my ten metres badge when I learned to swim many years ago in adulthood. But that was in the Plas Madoc leisure pool and I don't think it went as deep! The only consolation is that I am not the only one to use the width but children have an excuse and they never cease to amaze me with their fearlessness. It is good to see how much use the nearby schools make of the pool facilities with swimming times dedicated to them.

Now, back to website updates.

Rosalie xx

Monday, 29 September 2014

An Autumn Sunday in Snowdonia, North Wales.

First things first - lunch at the Waterloo.

Last week my lovely husband planned a day out for us on an unexpected free Sunday. In truth, he was thinking of the inner man and where we could find a good Sunday lunch to match our usual eaterie The Golden Lion, Rossett, Wrexham.

'What about Betws-y-Coed? We could go to The Waterloo Hotel and Lodge.' 
I was all for it as it was some time since we had headed down the A5 into the mountains and the gateway to Snowdonia. 
Turning off the A483 onto the A5 at Chirk, we were once again awed by the sheer beauty of the vista which opened up before us. Having traversed bridges over the Dee and Ceiriog rivers we had forgotten how high up we were and, as we turned, the whole Dee Valley to Llangollen was spread out below with the mountains in front. 
'Isn't that a wonderful view!  Aren't we lucky to live here? Do I always say that?' I ended.
'Usually' came the dry reply.
With precision planning we arrived just after 11:15am hoping for time to look around the village before lunch. Parking up at the Waterloo we went inside to check if we needed to book a table and immediately saw a familiar face.
'Hello,' Megan greeted us. 'Long time no see.' 
After catching up for a minute, we wandered off into the village. It was lovely and warm and the shops around the old railway station were busy. Actually, the trains still run through here and in one cafe, if you wander through to the back, you find yourself on the station platform. The water was still tumbling over the rocks as it flowed down from the Swallow falls.

Back at the Bridge Restaurant at the hotel, we opted for a table in the new conservatory. Although we had eaten in the 1815 bar on our last two weekday visits, we hadn't had Sunday lunch here for a while. Not since our GWOCGB regional motorbike meetings re-located to the coast. We were so impressed with the whole experience from the staff  to the beautiful newly re-furbished restaurant to the excellent food cooked to perfection. Compliments to the chef. A review is on Trip Advisor.

The Hidden Lakes - not of Italy this time - but Snowdonia.

Afterwards we continued along the A5, passing a lake on our right, into the Snowdonia National Park. The mountains reared up all around us. Clothed as they were in varying shades of vegetation, they were a colourful contrast to the blue sky and sunshine casting dappled shadows on the lakes. At Capel Curig, we turned down to Bedgellert for our favourite ice cream shop. Sitting on the wall in the warm sunshine, we chatted to biker friends who had the same idea. afterwards we continued towards Caernarfon, passing one or two more lakes on our left. At this point Mount Snowdon was on our right. Before  Caernarfon we headed down the road which would take us around the other side of Mount Snowdon, through Llanberis and the slate quarries, passing another lake on our left as we headed back to the A5 at Capel Curig. 

At Llanberis, the huge scarred mountains lay still; quiet now from the noise of quarrymen mining the slate for which Wales is famous. I often wonder how deep is the lake here and how far down into the bowels of the earth miners would have had to go as they met their master's demands for more slate. Above the lake, the many platforms blasted out of the mountain cascaded down to the water. Llanberis was busy with walkers and tourists.
Back on the A% main Holyhead-London Road, we once again passed an old coach, on display, which passengers would have journeyed on  in olden times.

Reaching Betws-y-Coed, we pulled in for a comfort stop to find the area around the craft shops and cafes overflowing with tourists, parked cars and many bikes and bikers. My husband was in his own little heaven as he drank in the sight of all the different bikes.

A wonderful day at the end of summer. One to put in the memory box of treasures.


PS. You can read more about the slate quarries around Llanberis and Caernarfon and the life and struggles of two families in The Widow Makers Trilogy by North Wales Author Jean Mead. They really do bring the area to life.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Feeling Homesick.

The importance of family and friends.

After a spell of family gatherings and connections, for the first time in many years I am feeling a little homesick for my childhood haunts and old life. The last time was when, as a very young mother I was two weeks overdue with our second child, we were newly in North Wales, and I just wanted my Mum. I saw her [Mum] in my dreams as she [daughter] was making her way into the world and Mum arrived hot foot as soon as she could.

It is wonderful to meet up  and make new, and renew, connections with family and friends and hear about one from the other. It made me pause and reflect on what we left behind when we moved, with hope in our hearts and a small baby, from Lancashire to North Wales all those years ago.

Social Media this last week has played a part in this as I have connected on Facebook with distant family across the globe.Through one connection on holiday from the US to Ireland, a whole new conversation opened up resulting in a multi-way conversation between Ireland, North Wales, and America. In the process, I established the relationship more clearly between two FB 'friends', discovered a possible new cousin in Ireland and made a new connection with more distant member of the family tree.

Nearer to home, when I find that family on both sides and friends all know each other, well I have a few pangs of homesickness. Especially when I saw a photo which included my childhood home and reflected how it all used to be.

But, what a wonderful place we live in now. What a good life, through had work, we have had. And what wonderful new friends we have made over the years - latterly through our GWOCGB family. Friendships which have endured. So we have a lot to be thankful for as we look forward.

We saw on BBC Cymru Wales this week how you could fly through the air on a Zip Wire off the mountain near Bethesda (Bangor, North Wales). 
The website says,
'These adrenalin fuelled attractions are a first for the UK, and are located in the most dramatic of settings – Zip World Velocity located at Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, and Zip World Titan located at Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, both nestled amongst the mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales.'

My husband was as enthralled as I was. He turned to me, 'How about us next year?'
'For my birthday?' I responded hopefully and eagerly. Well, he is not happy about me my birthday treat being a Balloon ride!

I might hold him to that. What a way to start another decade. Mind you, all subject to doctor's orders I expect.

Rosalie xx

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Most Romantic Celebration of Love.

A close family member was married on Sunday at the Rhinewood County Hotel in Cheshire. We hadn't been to a wedding in a hotel before and I have to say how seamless it all was.

The room decked out for the actual ceremony was a vision. The main 'aisle' had an arrangement of gold petals arranged in a heart shape with a long trailing stem.
Malcolm Kindon- Toastmaster and Master of ceremonies, impressed on us the importance of not walking on these as we found our seats - the bride would go berserk!

Malcolm made it all work, as he liaised with all parties as to timings and things happening when they should.
The bride - a vision in a flowing cream gown looked like a princess.She arrived on her father's arm to the tune of a favourite love song. This set the tone of this happy and relaxed day. It was a celebration among chosen family and friends. Mind you - the petals were soon dispersed as her gown trailed over them but it didn't matter now.
The wedding vows were taken in front of a huge white gauzy backdrop, lit by tiny lights. The chairs were cream with a gold sash.

The registrar was very conscious that some may not understand the format of the ceremony or the legal implications and went to great pains to explain each part of the ceremony and the reasons,tradition, and legalities behind each part. He even explained that the marriage certificate belonged to the bride - not the groom! 

Malcolm Kindon (click on the link for full details- Tel 07756 017503) worked hard throughout the interim when photographs were taken and the room prepared for the wedding breakfast, the reception itself where he explained what was to happen at each part, the changeover for the evening disco and was still on hand well into the evening.
At the reception, he explained some of the traditions behind such things as 'wedding breakfast'. Did you know that? Even if the meal is later in the day and not an egg and bacon style of breakfast, it is named as such as it is the first meal the bride and groom take together after the wedding. (Breaking their fast so to speak.) I think I have that right. If you are reading this Michael, feel free to remind me.
Throughout the meal, pianist Dave Antrobus (07847 113906) treated us to a medley of love songs which carried on the romantic theme.

All in all, a wonderful experience and lets face it - if you are not being married in church then a hotel event is better than a sometimes cold and cheerless registry office from where you have to find your way to the reception afterwards.

Thank you to the bride and groom for a sharing a truly wonderful celebration with us.
No photographs as we didn't take any. OH forgot to bring the camera in and this is personal anyway. It was wonderful to catch up with scattered family.

Rosalie xx