Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Holidaying in Aviemore - Friday

Tigress with cubs in background:

Ali looking particularly scared:
How beautiful?!:

Majestic deer out in the rainfall:

An arctic fox - tiny and fluffy!:

Wild boar:
Friday we went to the Highland Wildlife Park where we saw the new tiger cubs which were very cute but mum’s paws were huge!! Lots of other animals on site too. We were kinda gutted we missed the beaver as it had just gone into its hideout and never appeared again. The owls were magnificent. The arctic foxes look tiny and fluffy!! We went to the platform to see the wolves but didn’t see them. It wasn’t until we went round the main resort in the car when we saw them running about their enclosure just as we were about to exit the course! Again we finished off the day by having our dinner at the resort restaurant again. Bang goes weight watchers!

Holidaying in Aviemore - Thursday

In Carrbridge itself:

On Thursday we set off for the “Landmark” forest adventure park in Carrbridge just along the road from our lodge. Every time we’ve passed the park, the car park has been full to brimming and we hadn’t realised there was an over-flow car park to the rear of the premises. It was no different today as the adventure park was heaving with people again! We went on the tree-top trail, climbed the platform to see above the treetops and across a huge distance of land and forestry – amazing! There were plenty of activities for adults and children. Water slides, climbing. There are 2 large ‘arena’ type platforms complete with chutes to slide down. There are 2 suspension/tension climbing lines – 1 for a minimum height suitable for kiddies and the other suitable for the adults. People who took part in that were harnessed up and secured to a wire rope above them. Ali was desperate to go on the water slides so she went on with her dad and eventually with me – I can honestly say I am not all that keen on them - I screamed coming down the slide and then couldn’t stop laughing at the bottom of the slide which meant I couldn’t get out of the dinghy!
2 of 3 water slides:
[you can just about see Stewart and Ali between the slide and the dinghy ramp]

The viewing platform high up above the trees:

Big Stewart on the suspension/tension climber:

Yay - wee Stewart on same activity as his dad:

Ali coming down the tame slide in the 'playpark' area:

We entered “Micro World” which was okay but may have been far better had the magnifying glasses and some of the exhibits/microscope ‘slides’ were in top condition – most were all scratched and difficult to see and some of the equipment either wasn’t working or secure as it should have been. The ‘slides’ for the microscopes should have been secure and still be able to be turned to see under magnification.

We finished off the day by having dinner at the restaurant at the resort which was delicious. The kids eventually managed to get access to the tennis court as every time they wanted to use it, it was already occupied. The entertainment was from a chap who was apparently a “runner up” in “Stars in their Eyes” from tv. He was okay, not as good as the previous evening’s entertainment. I personally felt he was trying to sound all American with his singing.

Holidaying in Aviemore - Wednesday

A regular forrest visitor - the red squirrel:

A magnificent osprey
[image courtesy of Loch Garten Reserve website]:

Wednesday we paid a visit to Loch Garten Osprey Visitor Centre to see the osprey chicks at the famous osprey nest. Magnificent to watch – not only did we see the chicks at the nest and some in flight, we saw lots of other birds visiting the bird feeders situated in front of the visitor centre. There is an RSPB blog set up for keeping up-to-date with the ospreys who will be preparing for their migration to Africa. There is also a 'live' feed from the cameras filming the nests here.

On the way back to the car, Ali and I need to use the loos. Well, if you haven’t been before, they aren’t your traditional toilets. There were the usual ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ loos. However, once you got in your cubicle, it was a raised platform with a regular toilet seat with lid. Once you lifted the lid, it revealed a hole in the platform. These were ‘environmental toilets’. I shant explain – I think the photo will!

We were going to visit the reindeer centre but we were advised we weren’t wearing shoes suitable for the very muddy conditions as there was a 20 minute trek up the hill [following a short drive] before we actually got to see the reindeer. We decided not to borrow their wellies which were kindly offered and alternatively went for a spot of lunch at the Italian restaurant at the end of the main street in Aviemore called “La Taverna”. We spent a good couple of hours there before heading back to our lodge – we could have done with a sleep as we had full bellies LOL!! [image courtesy from La Taverna website]

Having had the equivalent of a lunch combined dinner, we popped home for a coffee before setting off to the clubhouse for a wee tipple for both of us and also to let the kids play in the ‘games’ room. It was “Scottish Evening”. We had no idea what that would have involved. All was revealed when a rather surprising younger-than-us chap arrived and set up with an accordion, which we actually thoroughly enjoyed as he was excellent to listen to and shared his good humour. He had an assistant arrive a short while after he played the accordion. His assistant was Jordan - an 11 year old piper who was excellent in his performance, though a little shy. It was revealed that he had taken part in regional competitions and was about to take part in another competition last weekend.

Holidaying in Aviemore - Tuesday

Views from the viewing platform outside the Ptarmigan Restaurant
A view of Loch Garten:

View further along to the right of above image:

Tuesday we took a trip to the Cairngorm Mountain. There are walkways up to the shop/Ptarmigan Restaurant but we took the funicular train to and from the mountain. The Ptarmigan Restaurant is the highest restaurant in the UK! Spectacular views from the viewing platform to be had. Some visitors were definitely dressed for summer in their fleece jersey, shorts, bare legs and crocs including their kiddies who complained they were too cold! The kids and I got our souvenirs of squished 1 penny coins turned into Cairngorm Mountain Train tokens. Ali complained she was kinda bored so with the promise of going for a hot chocolate she brightened up a bit ;o). We all stopped for a hot chocolate complete with marsh mallows and cream and some chips! [yeah really weight watching there eh?]. By the time we got the funicular train back down to base and got to the car, it was pouring with rain – we had just got to the car in time before the rain got heavier. A web link to the Cairngorm Mountain website here.

The kids posing before we get back on the funicular train:

Holidaying in Aviemore - Monday

How a traditional croft may look on outside:
How the inside of a croft may look:
In the tailor's workshop:

A tailor's dummy complete with garment on entering Tailor's shop:

How the post office may have looked in early 1930s:

Monday we paid a visit to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore which was very interesting. It is about 1 mile long. One end of the museum there were buildings and equipment originating from circa 1930s including a train station, old school, tailors, joiners etc. At the other end of the museum were thatched crofts/buildings which showed us how people used to live and how they also kept their livestock there too. These were quite dark and reeked of smoke as the staff had set up peat fires to authenticate the ambience. Highland Folk Museum link here.

Holidaying in Aviemore - Sunday

We went to Lochanhully, Carrbridge just outside Aviemore – absolutely beautiful countryside! 1 week isn’t really an awful lot of time if you are holidaying in Aviemore. There is just sooooo much to do! Lots of country and forest walkways, cycle routes in and around the area. Also lots of fishing, water sports, golf to name a few other activities.

For the first time, we saw red squirrels [we are used to seeing only grey squirrels] and for me, the first time I ever saw a red spotty toadstool! The toadstool’s correct name I *think* is: Amanita Muscaria, the 'Fly Agaric' – which is quite a potent and dangerous ‘shroom’ to pick/eat.

Holidaying in Aviemore

Carrbridge tourist feature:
[hence the name Carrbridge]

One of many views of the Lochanhully site:

Lots of ducks and a few little 'families' seen regularly on the pond:

Purple Heather found on the grounds of the Lochanhully site:
[I was looking for a new wallpaper for my PC desktop]

A thistle [not sure which variety though!]
Shot taken at the Highland Wildlife Park:

I’ve not really been updating my blog of late [again!] due to having to prepare to going on our summer holiday which we’ve already been on and are now back home [pah!].

We had arrived on Saturday evening around 7 pm as we didn’t leave home until kind of late due to various reasons. Once we got the car and suitcases unloaded, we travelled to Tesco’s in Aviemore to see if we could get some dinner in as we didn’t have enough room in the car to bring food or bare essentials for a cup of tea. By the time we all sat down to supper it was around 10 pm.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Thank You Notelets

3 x notelets I'd made to be enclosed with the 3 other SU! demos marker packs I'd taken part in a marker share with. More details here!

Paper Bag Album Pregnancy Journal

Congratulations card:

Outer cover of Pregnancy Journal album:
Having seen one I'd made a while back, my chum wanted to give her sister an unusual gift following the announcement of her sister's 1st pregnancy. I'd more or less made the album identical to the one my chum had seen. When my chum saw the original album, she was gobsmacked and couldn't quite believe the album is actually made out of paper bags LOL!!

blank pages waiting for images etc:
These were cards with index tabs which slotted in what were the previously "open ends" of the bags giving more opportunity to record memories/notes.

SU! Markers

Yay!! I’ve managed to complete my marker collection via a marker share held amongst another 3 SU! Demos and myself over 4 months. I love the wee carry case it comes in too – very organised and no excuses for getting them lost or mixed up heh heh heh!!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Movies and Orange

My contract with T-mobile finished abruptly up last Friday. I had been considering for some time to go with another provider as we had been with T-mobile for years even when they had a different name originally! I wasn't using my package which allowed me 12 hours talktime at evenings and weekends and 50 text message allowance. This had been my package for a few years and not used to its full capacity [we struggled to get a signal in some areas even home!]. Eventually it got to the point that I was using more than my 50 texts allowance and my home telephone had the package of free evening and weekend calls hence why I didn't use my mobile too often.
It was a toss up between O2 for the texts and free calls to other O2 numbers. BUT it was "Orange" who had the cinching deal! Orange Wednesday - the 2 for 1 cinema tickets is definitely something to consider in the school hols for kids!.
I took the kids to see 3D "Coraline" when it first came out in the pictures - little did I know that you pay a premium for 3D movies and it was after 5 pm which is 'peak' time therefore costing more - that visit cost £22.00 for 1 adult and 2 kids!
I registered my "241" for cinema tickets and took the kids as part of "Orange Wednesday" to see the new 3D "Ice Age 3" movie for the afternoon. Definitely worth going to see - there were a lot of funny bits and I certainly chuckled and the kids enjoyed it! That outing cost only £13.00 plus pennies!

Drving Lesson update from Monday

Donna my Instructor, hadn't said that I would be sitting a mock test on Monday [thank heavens she didn't tell me the on the Friday before!]. Anyways, she got me driving about before the motions of a 'mock driving test'. Anyways, it seems I had 1 serious fault [I knew when I did it as nerves got the better of me!]. We had been going up a hilly kind of road, rather than drop down just 1 gear from 4th to 3rd, I went down to 2nd. She had given me about 9 minor faults in addition but said she was being pernickity and that perhaps an Examiner wouldn't be quite so nippy. Compared to my last 'mock driving test', there was a definite improvement. Anyways the outcome was, that if I drove to that standard on the day of my test - I should pass no problem.

Donna is off on holiday today so no lesson [hence my taking one on Monday] for 1-2 weeks and it just so happens that I am away the 2nd week she is gone. That leaves me a couple of weeks until my test - but plenty of time for practising! Donna and I joked that since I hadn't really forgotten how to drive in the 15 yrs since the last time I sat a test, a couple of weeks without a lesson won't be disastrous!

Olivia's mini birthday card

Apparently I had forgetten my youngest neice's birthday way back in May this year! I't unlike me but since my external hard drive had failed and it took me quite some time to recover absolutely everything on the drive, I haven't yet had time to do some housekeeping on those files. The "Birthdays and Anniversaries" document was amongst them but not on my main PC.
Anyways - sorry we missed your birthday Olivia!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Driving Lesson Up-date

Well not written much about my driving lessons of late only due to having a *pants* time whilst taking them LOL!! Last week's lesson was not all that great but it was an improvement compared to the lesson prior to that - which was WORSE! Everything that I could do wrong went wrong for the whole 2 hours! I didn't seem to recover from it somehow - the mere mention of the 'T' word and Helen falls apart! Anyways - Donna said last week it could be due to the fact that I am so near to my goal that the thought of the actual practical test is scaring me out of my wits psychologically! On last week's lesson, it took me 9 attempts at reversing round a corner I had previously mastered with no problems! Donna suggested the best way to go would be to book the actual test and then get on with the practising. So, last Friday, I booked and paid for my practical driving test - I'll not tell you when it's booked for so as not to jinx myself ;o) All I can say, I felt nervous today just before getting the car as I have done on the last 2 lessons, but today went fabulously!! I managed my turn in the road [it wasn't a wide road as to what I am used to carrying out this maneouvre]; reverse round the corner maneouvre; parallel parking behing a stationery car; left and right reverse parking in a bay! All without any verbal prompt or correction from Donna! I was well chuffed with myself. I've got another lesson on Monday afternoon as Donna is off on holiday next Friday for 2 weeks then so am I on her return. It'll mean 3+ weeks before I get another lesson.
It's like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder today - what a huge relief!