Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

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Thing number 2 on my list is to visit five new (to me) seaside resorts. We've just come back from a week in Cromer (my most favouritest place on earth!) and while Cromer is most definitely not new to me, I did take the opportunity to visit somewhere that was – Wells-next-the-Sea.

Wells is about 25 miles from Cromer and is an interesting little place. The town itself is nothing special, just your average seaside town, though, it does have a cute little harbour which was packed with chilren fishing for crabs from the harbour wall. Also in the harbour is an old cargo ship called Albatros. The ship has a very interesting history. Among other things, it was used to take Jews from Denmark to Sweden during WWII, returning with weapons for the Danish army. It was used as a cargo ship right into the 1980s and then was commissioned by Greenpeace as an educational centre. Nowadays it is a rather lovely bar and restaurant, serving local real ales and Dutch pancakes on deck and in the hold. (You can find out more about the Albatros by clicking here.)

Wells-next-the-Sea is actually about a mile from the sea, and while you can park nearby, or take the little narrow gauge train to get there, we decided to walk down the road along the East Fleet river which runs between the sea and the harbour. It's a nice walk, well worth doing.

At the bottom we were all in need of a cuppa and a bit of cake and as it happens there was a rather nice beach cafe waiting for us.

Then we went up a slope, round a corner and across a wooden walkway onto the beach. I'd heard a lot about the beach huts at Wells and they really are quite a wonderful sight. They are mounted on stilts and you can probably tell how long they've been there by the height, as the older huts' stilts and steps have become partialy submerged in the soft white sand. I didn't realise Wells also had quite stunning sand dunes too. Wells is actually something of an estuary beach – at high tide the water fills the river and washes across the sand, leaving a long dune in the middle of the sea. We were there at low tide, however, and we couldn't see the sea as it was at least a mile away! So you have soft sand and huts on the left, a long stretch of wet sand with a dune in the middle of it, and then the river, about a metre deep, meandering its way out to sea. Apparently it's very easy to get caught out by the tide – people wade through the river to the flat sands on the other side, but when the tide turns it rushes in quickly – so there is a siren to warn people when the water is approaching.

The beach was very busy so we walked across to the dune, along the length of it and back across to the furthest beach hut so we could take some photos without people in them! It was a lovely place to walk and I can imagine it would be even more spectacular on a cold bright winter's day!

However, I found it a bit … unusual, I suppose. A bit of an odd place for a beach holiday. For me the beach means the sea as well as the sand, and at Wells the sea is so far away as to be absent. Swimming in the shallow river wouldn't have quite the same appeal!

 

So all in all, I'm glad we visited Wells-next-the-Sea – and I'd definitely go back for pancakes on The Albatros! – but I don't think I'd want to holiday there.

 

Thing #70 completed: Get a Fish Pedicure

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So I've been intrigued by the idea of a fish pedicure since I first heard about it a couple of years ago, hence why it was on the list. I came across an offer from All Your Life spa in Cheltenham for a free makeover and photo session which included the chance to have a fish pedicure, so I booked it, mainly as a birthday treat for Katie and so we could spend some fun time together, but also so I could give the fish pedicure thing a go and cross it off the list.

The afternoon was great fun – despite my lack of natural girliness I enjoyed having my makeup and hair done, and loved the OPI gel manicure … My nails are still blue and shiny nearly two weeks on! Then we had a photoshoot – I normally hate having my photo taken but the photographer was fab at relaxing us both and it was actually loads of fun, and I even le some of the photos!

Once we'd seen the results and had some afternoon tea our experience was drawing to a close … But not before we spent 15 minutes in the fish spa …

And hmmm. Not sure I enjoyed it actually! Basically you sit on a padded bench and dunk your feet into a tank of water, and instantly the little fish start nibbling away at something … Dead skin I guess, though I have loads on my heels and they seemed to prefer my toes! You can feel them nibbling and while it doesn't hurt, it does feel like small electric shocks and wasn't altogether pleasant! It tickled like mad too, especially when the fish swam between my gaps toes. It wasn't horrible, but I can't say I enjoyed it much either, and I don't think I'll bother again …. Glad I tried though, and that's another thing crossed off the list!

 

Thing #82 completed – invest money in someone via Kiva

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I first heard about Kiva last year and decided I'd like to get involved – but it took adding it to my lit and seeing someone on Facebook loaning money to prompt me to get on with it.

Kiva is all about individuals loaning small amounts – as little as $25 – to people in developing countries who want to start a business or better their lives in some way. The success rate is incredibly high with very few people defaulting on their loans, and most people then reinvest their money so the money goes on helping people.

It occurred to me this morning that the $25 – or £18 – is probably what I'd have spent in the pub last night had I not been stricken with the lurgy, so I decided to make a loan to Catherine, a Ugandan woman who had requested a loan to purchase more stock to expand her clothes boutique.

The lovely thing about Kiva is that (thanks to a generous benefactor, I think) you can refer people to the site and if they make a loan you get an extra $25 to help someone else make their better. I shared my link on Facebook,someone joined and I was able to make a further investment in Moses, a young man in Kenya who wants to buy a rickshaw to expand his transport business.

Since making the loans Catherine has received enough funding to purchase her stock, which is fantastic news! Moses needs another $150 so hopefully that won't take too long to raise!

So that's not one but two people helped on Kiva, and I'm pretty sure they won't be the last either. It's such an easy site to use, and such a great use of money that would otherwise have been spent on beer and crisps! It's also the first think crossed off my new 101 things in 1001 days list …well done me!

If you'd like to find out more about Kiva and perhaps make a loan yourself, please use the link below – that way I'll be able to help someone else, so everyone wins!

http://www.kiva.org/invited by/alisonuk

 

The end of my first 101 things in 1001 days challenge

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Today is my birthday and I've had some very grown up presents, including champagne, a teapot, perfume, a knitting kit, a basket of daffodils and … A radio controlled helicopter! Not so grown up after all :)

I've spent the afternoon completing number 39 on my list – make my own pasta. I found a simple recipe on the BBC website but it was perhaps too simple – it used only flour and egg and the dough was very stiff and dry and difficult to knead into a ball. Then it had to sit in the fridge for an hour.

I planned on making ravioli so tried caramelising some onions to mix with goats cheese for the filling … But I got distracted and burnt the first batch and had to start that again. So while that was sweating I started working on the pasta. I had to roll it down to about 1/4 inch before putting it through the machine.

It started off okay but as it got thinner it started running through the machine crookedly and tearing. After several attempts at making a band of pasta that would be wide enough to cut out circles for ravioli I gave up and made tagliatelle instead!

I boiled it for a few minutes and then mixed it with some pesto and the onions. There was enough for a very small bowl for each of us and it tasted really good! Not sure if I'll bother again though …. It was a lot of work. But at least I can say I have made my own pasta!

So that was the last thing I've managed to cross off my 101 things in 1001 days list, leaving the total at 51 things completed – more than half, woohoo! I've had great fun working through this list, with the highlights including driving a Formula Renault round the track at Thruxton, dong a firewalk, getting a tattoo and a very silly night on the absinthe. The next list is written and will go live tomorrow … When the whole challenge starts all over again!

 

The sad tale of the Chinese Elephant

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So thing number 84 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days was “Buy something at an offline auction”. I’ve spent way too much money on ebay over the years, and enjoy watching Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic, so the idea of a real life auction appealed. Anyway, one Saturday a couple of months ago Steve and I went up to Banbury to spend the day at JS Auctions and did I buy something? Of course I did! Between us we came home with a table, two chairs, three paintings, a pile of board games, two bookcases, a couple of lamps and … a Chinese elephant.

Now this elephant was part of a lot that included three hideous vases, a picnic basket, two wooden trays and a poster of Maltese buses. (Yeah, they have some pretty random lots there!) The elephant was Continue reading

My 101 in 1001 list

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Just been updating a few of the things on my list. It’s increasingly looking like I won’t be able to complete everything on the list but I have done about a quarter of the things (but only have 285 days to go!). Later this week I’ll be crossing another thing off when I do a firewalk – very exciting! Some of the things I’ve probably blown all chance of doing – for example, we were in Torquay at Crhistmas and could have done the Boxing Day Dip but I stayed in bed instead …

We’ll see though, and anything left on the list on 4th Jan 2013 will probably go straight onto the next list!

Thing #42 completed – send someone a surprise parcel

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I spoke to my old school friend Sharon for the first time in months and she sounded a bit down in the dumps – she’s recently moved house and though she’s in a lovely part of the country she’s living in the middle of nowhere and miles from family and friends.

So I decided to send her a surprise present to cheer her up a bit, and I knew exactly what I wanted to send – a balloon bouquet from the fabulous Balloon Babboon!

Anyway, I sent Sharon a message today and found out the flowers arrived safely but with no message or note, so it was really a surprise as she had no idea who they were from! She loved them anyway ….. job done!

Another year, a new challenge

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Happy New Year! Can’t believe we’re in 2011 already. Mind you, saying “twenty eleven” is a bit of a mouthful so I’ve decided I’m just going to call this year “this year”. So, to start this year I’m not going to make any resolutions; instead I’m going to work hard to clear off some of the things on my 101 in 1001 list. Having been really enthusiastic about making the list in the first place I’ve been a bit slow off the mark with actually DOING it! There are a few updates I’ll make over the next few days, but this year I’m going to make a concerted effort to cross things off.

I’m also going to have a go at the WordPress “post a day” challenge …. though it’s more likely to become a “post a week or less” one to be honest. But we’ll see how it goes! I like the idea of the themed entries anyway.

Today’s theme is:

List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go.

1. Egypt. And I am going, in about four weeks time, woohoo!! We’re staying at a Red Sea resort, Dahab and I want to go because (a) we can do nothing all day and I could do with a break and (b) I love swimming and where better to swim (and indeed snorkel or scuba, neither of which I’ve done before) than somewhere with such a fascinating undersea landscape. I also want to go to the Coloured Canyon which looks like a fab photo trek.

2. Somewhere far north, like Norway or Finland (or even perhaps the far north of Scotland) where I can see the Northern Lights and cross off #1 on my list.

3. Mexico – because I have always wanted to see the Mayan ruins.