Abertillery Workmen’s Welfare Institute Revival! Part 1

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Abertillery Workmen’s Welfare Institute  (AKA The Stute) was recently put up for sale for the sum of £70,000 …… yes, £70k can you believe it?!

The Stute –  was built by Miners and paid for weekly from their wages. It is a very important building within our community and it has sadly closed and become run down.  The picture below shows damage caused from the leaking roof.

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In it’s hay-day The Stute was a focal point for the thriving Community of Abertillery, a place where Coal Miners and their families, could meet to socialise,  learn and take part in sporting activities and it even had a swimming pool!

You can check out it’s history on a blog called “Out of the Blue Artifacts”  by Graham George Bennett  a local man who has been collecting information for almost the whole of his life.  This blog provides and amazing insight into The Stute previously called the Powell’s Tillery Miner’s Institute and many other areas of interest about South East Wales and beyond.  Pardon the pun – but you could say that this blog is a mine of information!

To cut to the chase –  we seriously need support to get this building reopened. We need funds to decorate, fix the roof, clean up and get the building fit for purpose and reopened for all ages and abilities within Abertillery and surrounding areas.

We have set up a ‘Local- Giving’ site in order to raise the much needed money to allow us to bring The Stute back to it’s former glory, we are looking for local people to join us as:

  • Trustees – Do you have building knowledge, are you a funding/fundraising expert?
  • Volunteers – Could you help remove rubbish, clean up, paint, carry out minor repairs?

We only need an hour or so per week and attendance at one meeting per month.  There is no financial risk to Trustees.

Please help us preserve this building for future generations.  You can donate by clicking this link  or pressing the Red Button Below.

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Hopefully we will meet at the Cafe in the Stute for Coffee before long, until then please help us raise funds and donate to reopening this building for future generations………

Granny 🙂

E mail –  Abertillerystute@outlook.com

Twitter –  @Aberstute

Facebook – SOS Save our Stute 

 

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CAMPING – So worth the effort!

Oh yes….camping, where do I start?  I have camped most of my adult life, when the kids were small, we went to the Gower, even before we could drive!  My Dad would drop us in the field with a mountain of stuff and pick us up in a week …. it usually rained the entire time but we still had a good time!

Nowadays though, the kids have flown the nest and me and the Mr have a VW Camper called Boris the Bold.  We bought him 8 years ago for the princely sum of £4,350 and we have never looked back.  We have travelled across Europe, driven up high alps, through forests to the seaside and lakes all over Europe and in the UK.

We have camped in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France and so many places in the British Isles …too many to mention and if you snoop at my  Facebook photos, you can see evidence of our travels!  There are also stories and write ups on past pages of this blog.

 

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BORIS THE BOLD AT HEILIGENBLUT ‘ALM CASINO CAMPSITE’

My reason for posting this though, was not to harp on about the trips we have done in the past or to ponder as to why, when we go away to a weekend event in Boris, we take more ‘stuff’ than we do when we travel for 3 weeks in Europe?!  Rather to tell people why it is so worth the effort.

 

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BORIS AT GARMISCH PARTENKIRCHEN 

First there is the weather and scenery, the pictures speak for themselves but this scenery looks different throughout the day, so if you camp near high mountains, you get a different view at 06.00 than you do at 15.00 and the sunset is early, so it goes cold at night.  We have sat outside our Van at Heiligenblut at 08.00 in 25 degrees, eating breakfast and at 11.00 there was a storm and 8cm of snow in July!  You don’t get this when you stay in a hotel.

We also camp at every opportunity and we have camped as late as November and once even in December.  There really are no constraints and a lot of campsites open all year round.

At night, you can sit out until late and then, (as long as you have the privacy) leave the curtains open and see the millions of stars in the clear night skies.  There are a lot of campsites, where ‘lights-out’ means total darkness and this is when the sky comes to life!  I have lost count of how many shooting starts I have seen while lying in the Rock and Roll bed in the back of Boris.

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BORIS IN THE DORSET COUNTRYSIDE NEAR DURDLE DOOR 

This year we travelled in a car and booked Hotels.  It was a great holiday travel wise and we got to see some gorgeous sites.  The downside was, if there was a day that you wanted to relax, read a book or enjoy the sun, hotel rooms do not offer any outside space to do so.  On this year’s holiday, we only had an outside space at 2 out of 8 hotels.  Boris, is an outside space on wheels and as they say in the camping game “Home is Where you Park it”

So, I think we have decided that if we want a relaxing holiday, lots of different views at any given time of day.  The ability to please yourself, relax, eat ‘al-fresco’,  enjoy nature, freedom, wildlife, weather, conversation, zero wi-fi (apart from when you need to post a Grannyrant) and a total ‘switch off’…. then camping is the way to go.

Whether it be 2 man tent, T25 or any other means of being outside…go for it… it is so worth the effort!

Bye for now – Granny  🙂

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Homeward Bound

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We’re going Home

So, as usual the Gulls have had us awake since around 04.30.  We still try to catch another hours sleep but it’s almost impossible…… as soon as the first rays of sun appear in the sky they squeal and screech, circling around the sky outside our window.  The 3 youngsters are still trying to laze about and not fend for themselves but they are all flying now… they are still squawking for their Mother like spoiled brats.

The Mr, who is usually very sympathetic to wildlife is now wishing he had a gun!  He is only joking of course but the lack of sleep is getting to us both!  We stayed in Brixham recently and I’m sure we didn’t have so much Gull trouble…… oh well we’re up now so we may as well get on with it.

So after paying the bill, handing in the keys and trundling down in the tiny lift with our bags, we are once again on board our trusty Cilla for the homeward leg of our adventure.

Sally Sat Nav says 12 miles and 22 minutes to the Car Ferry, should be a breeze.  It was. .. Until 5 miles out when there was a diversion.  Thanks to the Gulls, we had left earlier than planned and have time to spare because this looks confusing!  We followed all the other vehicles who were also following the diversion signs for about 2 miles.  Sally Sat Nav was saying “make a ‘U’ turn! ……where?! So we went all the way around a roundabout and sure enough, good old Sally redirected us toward the car ferry.

We went through French Border Control, produced our passports, then further on they stopped every car and opened the boot.  A bit further on we went through British Passport Control all ok, then we were stopped a second time and asked to open the boot.  The security is much tighter than when we have travelled before.  This is a good thing and we don’t mind the waiting, better safe than sorry but some people become very frustrated by all the stops.

At last, Cilla is in line 30 and we can sit and wait to board.  There is a bit of confusion as boarding started surprisingly early and some people hadn’t returned to their cars.  This caused a slight hold up but a after about 15 minutes we were all packed like Sardines on Deck 5.  We clock our position so we know where to return to.  “Red stairs, Deck 5b, come down the stairs and turn left” …… now we get up the stairs as quickly as possible to grab a window seat and the Mr is almost first in the breakfast queue!  ….. Result!  Full English and now we are set up for the long drive from Dover to home.  Mind you in comparison to some of our long trips on this adventure, 250 or so miles should be easy and we will be driving on the right side of the road!

The driving is tiring but well worth it as you get to experience things you would otherwise miss, like the Belgian Petrol Station, where you have to go in and pay (even though you don’t yet know how much you will need).  So for instance, you go in and give them €40, then you fill up and if it’s only €33 you go back in again for your change? Seems odd but I bet no one drives away without paying….the pump doesn’t work until you go in and pay or your card is authorised.  I just wish they would explain this to us before we have spent 10 minutes trying to work out why the pump isn’t working!

Anyway, on the Ferry, breakfast finished I go and look at the Duty Free.  Bargains are hard to find these days as you can buy most things cheaper in our supermarkets. I had a bottle of perfume reduced and also, Bombardier Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Prosecco Ice which I’ve never seen before and for £4.99 I thought I’d give it a go!  Just hope it isn’t like vinegar!

Finally after around an hour and a half, the White Cliffs of Dover appear on the horizon…. I always think about how the soldiers must have felt, coming back from the  trenches, it must have been such a welcome sight after the horror and devastation of war and they would be thinking of their families and  those who didn’t make it home.  It makes me feel so emotional…..

 

We left the Port at 11.20, so Sally Sat Nav says ETA at home is 15.05. It’s 250 miles or so and this is obviously dependant on being able to travel at the national speed limit the entire time …… you must be kidding!  The Mr was driving the first stint and after 100 miles we decided to stop for a coffee and a bathroom stop.  We don’t want to push it, we have hardly slept for 3 days and travelling is always tiring so we will take our time.  I have done a fair bit of driving this holiday but the Mr is a bit of a car hog and will only allow me to drive the car (my car incidentally) when he is absolutely knackered! So now we are back in the UK I have reclaimed my car and I am determined to drive the Lion’s share of the journey home today.  So when we stopped I said “my turn”… amazingly he agreed immediately, “he’s more tired than I thought”(I said under my breath).

So, with 155 miles to go to home, we set off back into the queue of traffic on the M25.  We should have been home by 17.00 at the latest and I want to call in and surprise my Mother.

BBC Radio 2 traffic warnings were not sounding good for our route.  We heard reports of a Hay lorry on fire, an accident further on with 2 lanes closed.   So we turned the music up on Steve Wrights Big show and sang along with the music…. loudly!  No good getting crotchety about it, we are on our way home and the people who are involved in the accidents are far worse off than us.

Stop-start-stop-start….. Oh… after 2 hours it was still no better. Occasionally we got up to 40mph but then before long it was at a standstill again.  Sally Sat Nav was trying to re-route us via Southampton and Basingstoke but I was having none of it, we stayed on the M4.  Then we heard that there was another huge queue between Chippenham and Bath…. they weren’t exaggerating it went on and on and on.  My Daughter and Son in law are travelling to my Son’s today, so they are on the M4 too, going down to Portsmouth.  We text them to say we were stuck in traffic.  They told us they were just passing Bath and the queues on our side of the M4 went on for miles.  BUGGER!  That’s all we need.  About 10 minutes later, we spotted them on the other side and we both blew our horns as they hurtled by and we just sat there in the queue!  Seems ridiculous that we are both on the same motorway!

At 17.00 we were still plodding along at a ridiculously slow speed and we had text Simon Mayo to see if we could get a mention on his Drive Time request show.  More loud singing and listening to the requests.  As we were singing and playing the drums on the steering wheel… so other cars went by doing the same thing and smiling at us.  Funny how you share brief moments with people you don’t know in these situations! We never did get a mention from Simon!

Finally, just past Bristol the sign said ‘END’…… We still only managed 40mph but at least we were moving at last…… the next queue was for the Bridge and then it was pretty plain sailing all the way to Mams.  We finally arrived at her house at 19.25… it took five and a half hours to travel 155 miles and I did it without a bathroom stop.. Not bad for a Granny…….

So after catching up with Mother, shopping for basics as we have no food or milk etc… We finally arrived home at 20.30…. Phew what a day!

We are now sat on the patio, with a log fire, relaxing….. Home sweet home!

To summarise the holiday would be difficult but I’ll try…

2,396 miles in 22 days….. 8 hotels, some good, some bad….. 13 languages or dialects we tried to deal with but not very well…… 6 Tram journeys…. 6 Castles…. High Alpine roads….. Funicular Railways….. Almost €400 in fuel….. €247 in parking fees …..The Lipizzaner Horses…… Hop on, hop off buses….. Over 22 days the average we walked was 7 miles per day … total 154 miles.

We ate Greek, Indian, German, Italian, Chinese, Austrian and traditional food in 4 countries and as we passed through the Netherlands we actually travelled through 5 countries.

Spatzle. .. Sachertorte. ..Strudel…. Kren… Pumpkin seed oil or Kernol…. Salami…. Bratwurst….. Spinach dumplings…..Omelette. … Crevettes. ….Continental breakfasts…..

Snow…Rain….Wind….Heat….Sunburn…..Mozzie-bites….Hay-fever….Jippy Stomach and glorious sunsets.

Seagulls… thunderstorms….traffic jams… Road works… oh I could go on and on…. all in all, it was absolutely amazing and me and the Mr didn’t have a cross word, even when he wanted to shoot Gary the Gull!

This is Granny ranting for the last time this holiday, thanks for taking time out to read…. bye for now xx 😉

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Bye Bye Ostende

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Last day in Ostende

We were right it was a sticky night, without air conditioning we need the large window open, so as a result I now have 3 really angry Mozzie bites, we need the Apotheke (Pharmacy)….. When I get bitten, the bites always flare up and are hot and angry.  We are also knackered from no sleep.

The plan today is that after breakfast we will walk to the Main Church in Ostende.  If you have ever been there, you will know the one I mean, Sint -Petrus Pauluskerke (Saint Peter and Paul’s Church) on Boudenwijnstraat.

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It was built in 1899. It is a Roman Catholic, Neo Gothic church and its spires are 72 metres high. The stained glass windows were destroyed during WW1 & 2 and the replacement windows were created by Michiel Martens.  It is really impressive inside and out and if you ever get the chance go and see It!

We take a few photos (well as lot actually), then we took a walk down through the main shopping area, it was heaving with people and we popped into a few shops when we spotted something different.   Mostly the shops are exactly as at home these days and you rarely see anything anywhere in Europe that you can’t buy at home.  This is why we stopped bringing holiday presents home ages ago.  What do you take?  Chocolate, booze, fridge magnets?

As we had almost finished our walk we stopped at a small bar in the square for a drink, it was lovely, under the umbrella, cooler and with a breeze.  For a few minutes, the breeze became a wind and there were a few grey clouds.  The waiter said “it should rain at 14.30”…. really? Sure enough at 14.28 I felt 2 spots of rain on my arm and everyone was glancing at the sky…… that was it!  A 2 spot rain shower but what a difference, I reckon it had cooled down by at least 5 degrees… far more comfortable.

Before we left we looked at the food menu and decided to reserve a table for the evening.  The waiter said it was advisable to do so if we wanted to guarantee a table.  We thanked him, paid the bill and walked about 500 metres to our hotel…..the minute I took my shoes off, I realised I had left a bag behind. So I trudged back along the street and across the square.

The waiter spotted me “Aha… it is in the bar” he said loudly …. “The little green bag with the olive picks in”.  Phew!  “That’s great, thanks for that” I said and picked it up from the bar.  I’m glad I got the bag back because most importantly my Mozzie Cream was in there!

In the evening we went back to the bar, the waiter recognised us immediately and gestured to the table he had reserved for us. I ordered a Rib Eye Steak and the Mr ordered Cod. We shared a nice bottle of Red wine and were at the bar for around 2 and a half hours.

We chatted about the fact that neither of us have tried the Mussels ….ever.  I am not a lover of seafood.  We both love Fish and Prawns but following a few tummy issues in the past I’m not keen to try Seafood again.  Also Moulles do not look appetising at all and I am pretty adventurous where food is concerned.

So after paying the bill and tipping the waiter we left for a final walk along the seafront.  What a difference, much cooler, cold even! We were in thin tee shirts and others were in cardigans and coats.  It was once again an absolutely stunning sunset…. “We should sleep tonight” we said in unison…”it’s so much cooler”….. How wrong could we be?!

We got to bed around 11.15, it was indeed cooler, well…slightly cooler. At 01.30 we were both still awake. Kids screaming, doors slamming, cars driving up the one way street and because they are so narrow the sound is deafening.  These cars have booming speakers and modified exhausts….. At 03.20 a family of Gulls were squawking and someone was clattering up and down on a skateboard…..Oh ….what a long night!

So this morning after a few hours very broken sleep, we look like death warmed up and can’t wait to leave Hotel Cardiff!  While this place in interesting and quirky, it is not recommended I’m afraid, too hot, too noisy and too 1950s!

If you remember, the car park was a 10 minutes’ walk away, so before breakfast we took some of our stuff back to the car and then walked back for breakfast.  On the way, once again we saw a young Gull we call Gary. He has obviously flown the nest before he can fly properly and his Mother has been feeding him on the ground and then flying back up to the other youngsters on the roof.  He has been on the ground near parked cars all the time we have been here and practices his wing strokes often. I hope he manages to survive until he can actually take off!  I’m sure he is responsible for the Gulls calling loudly all night!  Cheers Gary!

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Gary the Gull!

So on we go to Dunkirk, we are only staying one night and apart from a traffic jam on the way the journey was a doddle. The Ibis Hotel is central and as soon as soon we arrived we went out for a walk to the Marina while our room was being made up.

In the afternoon we watched another family of Gulls on the roof opposite the room, the youngsters are being encouraged to fly by Mother Gull.   At the time of writing, 2 out of 3 have become airborne in the last 15 minutes and one is sat on his backside waiting to go.

They are squawking like crazy and we are hoping they will quieten down before bedtime.  Ferry home tomorrow. We sail at 10.00…..over and out….. Granny.

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

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Tram Ticket in a Heatwave….  and another Sunset.

Good morning, it is Wednesday 20th July and we have just eaten breakfast at the Cardiff Hotel.  Traditional continental breakfast of Ham, Salami, Slices of Cheese, Jams and massive bread rolls.  The breakfast tea is not ‘proper’ tea and is always weaker than dish water.  The Coffee smells nice but I can’t drink Coffee first thing.

We eat breakfast in the dining room which looks like Miss Haversham’s boudoir (Dickens’ Great Expectations).  Huge bunches of Roses half a metre tall on the tables and probably 25 Orchids adorn the windowsills.  The chandeliers are lit and the owners are scurrying about feeding the clientele.  They really are eccentric but very professional in an old fashioned way.  I would imagine that in its day, this Hotel would have been very busy….. It probably still looks like it did 50 years ago.  Breakfast is plentiful and pleasant (apart from the tea).

Back to yesterday…….. We decided to buy a day ticket for the Tram and explore the Flemish Coast.  At around 10.30 we got ready and loaded up the rucksack.  We walked along to tourist information first to get a map of the coastline, so that we can decide what we want to see. It is already 28 degrees and although I never set foot outside without plastering myself in sunscreen, I’m already burning and I hog every bit of shade I can find.  This trip is not going to be easy in this heat but I’m trying not to complain.  Being a natural redhead, I turn to Pork Scratchings in the sun and it’s dangerous, it worries me.  “There should be air-conditioning on the trams” says I …… how wrong can you be.

We boarded the tram in the middle of Ostende and it was packed, standing room only and we found ourselves literally shoulder to shoulder with people. Mothers with children in pushchairs, a lady in a wheelchair, men going to work, holiday makers loaded up with rubber rings and beach bags, babies screaming because it was too hot.  Women fanning themselves, (including me) to try and relieve some of the heat.

Originally we were going to go directly to Du Panne, this is the end of the line.   We decided we couldn’t travel this far in this heat, it was overwhelming and the air conditioning, if there was any, wasn’t dealing with the crowd on the tram,  so we hopped off at Nieuwpo0rt, we have been here before with the camper and it is a lovely place. Less commercialised than Ostende but since we were here last, a lot of building work has taken place and new houses are springing up all over, along with small office blocks and what may turn out to be hotels.

We wandered a little way from the tram stop and realised that walking around in this heat is not a good idea.  So we sat in the shade at a bar and drank water and beer….. Beer… Probably not a good idea in 30 degrees…… then we got back on the tram.  This day was not going to be as successful as we had anticipated.

We travelled on to Du Panne Esplanade and got off, as soon as you step of the tram the heat hits you like opening your oven when your Yorkshire Puddings are cooking. (Not the best bit of writing I know but I cannot think of another way to describe this heat!).  It is scorching and when you look down the esplanade, you can see the heat rising and making the people in the distance appear hazy and blurred.

So again, we decided to stop this time for lunch, we find a table in the shade. It was 13.30 by now and ‘mad dogs and English men’ and all that…… I am beginning to feel a bit queasy from all this heat.

After 20 minutes of taking pictures we could stick it no more and I think we made a wise decision to get back on the tram and out of the heat.

The tram we boarded at Du Panne was almost empty but it still felt very hot and we had to go to the main station for the changeover of drivers, so as the heat rose in this tin can, we sat and waited…..and waited.  It was probably 15 minutes but it seemed like an age!  When we started travelling again it became apparent that the back doors of the tram didn’t work, this meant that even when the trams stopped, you didn’t get the rush of fresh air through the doors when they opened, so the heat got worse and worse and was quite sickening. .. Oh happy days!

We hopped off half way at Westende, as we can’t stand it any longer, we went and bought water.  Then we got onto the next tram to go back to Ostende.  This one too was crammed and when at last we got off we were so relieved.

The breeze was wonderful and we walked along the seafront past all the fresh fish stalls with their Prawn salads and dressed crabs.  You can find any fish you want here, smoked, cooked, raw  shellfish, big ones small ones…. absolutely anything from  the sea.

The Mr bought some prawns in a dressing and as the lady passed them to him with a little fork she said “be careful for the Seagulls”!  They are everywhere and they are huge and very aggressive where food is involved!  The Mr managed to consume his snack unchallenged though and we walked on along the front sucking up the fresh air……… back at the room we tried to relax even though there is no relief from the heat here either.

So, after a shower, a shower and more water to drink, we loaded the camera bags and took the tripods, a couple of cans of cold beer and the picnic blankets.  Tonight we will take some decent pictures of the sunset if we’re lucky.  So we plodded through the streets and along the front until we were in the right position to witness the sunset.  We weren’t disappointed, at 21.20 we were poised, test shots done, tripods positioned and we opened our beer “Prost” ….. We clinked our cans together and waited. We took picture after picture until at 22.10 the sun finally disappeared over the horizon!  What a sight….the colour, the breeze and what a lovely memory we now have.  We were still on the beach at 10.45 and the air coming off the sea was tropical.

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We walked back up onto the Seafront, a glass of wine at a small bar and then we bought ice-cream and we ate it as we walked slowly back to the room…… at last it’s a bit cooler in the streets… more than can be said for the room… it’s going to be a sticky night……….. Goodnight all…. Granny 😆

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Ostende and the Cardiff Hotel!

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Destination Ostende!

So we’re up and at ‘em again this morning.  We are on schedule to leave the car park by 08.30…. We thought!  How much stuff can you accumulate in one hotel room in 4 days?  It took 3 trips to the car, up and down 5 floors in the lift. Unbelievable!  We are used to living in our van for 3 weeks, so we just wake up get dressed pack the bed away and drive.  This hotel business is nowhere near as easy!

So by the time we get away its 09.00 and Sally Sat Nav says 354 miles with an ETA of 14.34, sounds good, hopefully we won’t hit any road works and with one stop for a coffee and the bathroom, we should get there by 15.30.

It was quite a pain free journey and we hurtled along averaging 80mph most of the way. There were a few areas where we were down to one lane with road works but on the whole incident free.  We arrive in Ostende at around 15.00 in glorious sunshine and 29 degrees!  The place is packed with people and it has a real holiday season feel.

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Cardiff hotel Breakfast Room

 

Hotel Cardiff – now I know I am Welsh but we didn’t choose this Hotel because of its name.  We found it on Booking.com it had good reviews and the price was within our budget.  The name was just coincidental.  Finding the place was a nightmare, in and out of side streets, in between hundreds of people, through streets that looked pedestrianised but cars and vans were travelling through stopping anywhere to unload and blocking up the whole street.  How someone doesn’t get killed is beyond me!

Finally Sally Sat Nav said, “You have reached your destination on the right” sure enough there was a big old fashioned sign saying ‘HOTEL CARDIFF’ ….“Ok… said the Mr, spot the car park?” Park here for a minute, I’ll go in and ask” says I.

OMG! This place is a throwback to the 50s.  As I walked in through the door, a shop bell rang to announce my entrance. There is dark red wall paper with murals of war and epic scenes from history. There are tall lamps, floor to ceiling almost, with lamp stands of African Slaves (!).  Huge chandeliers drip from the ceiling in the dining room, with sparkling glass beads twinkling in the sun.  I stood there for a minute as no-one came, I looked around and could hardly believe what I was seeing.  Then as if by magic, a lady probably in her mid-70s appeared behind me and spoke.  She probably said “good afternoon” but it was in Belgian, so I had no clue what she said.  “Hello, we have made a reservation in the name of ……..”

She looked at me for a minute and said “Aha….. I found it now”.

This lady is quite odd!  She is tall and skinny, she looks exactly like Lady Colin Campbell AKA ‘Lady C’ of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here’ fame and because of her accent, she even sounds the same.  I signed the forms and completed all the paperwork, produced my passports as ID and said “where do we park?”.

“Oh my dear, if only it was so easy? You can park here, (she pointed to a few spaces nearby), for a maximum of 10 minutes, you must keep going back every 10 minutes to pay. Or you can drop off your cases and park it here” …she pointed at a place on a street map, “here, you can park free, it is only a 10 minutes’ walk”.  I said “Is there no public car park” (most hotels have had a public car park but they have been very costly).  “There is one but it will cost you heavily and you need to drive around to it”

“We will go there, as the car will be safer and we don’t need to worry about €250 parking fines” I said.  She agreed that this may be best then pulled me to the lift.  She said “I will explain, here is the key to the building, you must never enter through the restaurant apart from at breakfast.  In the lift, you will press ‘0’ when you come for breakfast, at all other times you must press ‘way out’ and enter and leave by the side entrance.  Do you understand? You only enter the Restaurant for breakfast!” …… I confirmed that I understood then toddled out to the Mr, who was sat baking in Cilla the Citroën and explained our instructions. “Do you understand?” I said!

So we drove on until we found the underground car park and we dragged our bags for 10 minutes through the streets back to the Hotel, in 30 degrees and with no breeze in the narrow streets it was hot work!

The lift was another 50s creation. I got in with a case and the Mr decided to do the stairs, as one person plus a couple of bags and the lift wouldn’t take the weight (queue diet). I pressed number 1 and when I got to the top couldn’t get out, so  trying to stay calm I went down again, there was the Mr,  he couldn’t get in at the top of the stairs because the door was locked.  So I went up again, this time I waited until the door clicked and sure enough ‘open sesame’ the Mr, who by this time had climbed the stairs twice with his bags, was beetroot red and sweating! I won’t repeat what he said, I had to try hard to stop myself from laughing.

The room is over a noisy street, Seagulls are squawking loudly and it’s stifling hot. Oh…and there is no air conditioning and no fan!  Aaaarrgghhh! How will we sleep in this?  OK, calm down Granny, you have seen worse rooms, Ibis budget Graz for example!   “We left the phone chargers in the car, and my shaver….. all our electrical stuff is in the car!” said the Mr….so he trudged back to the car and returned 15 minutes later,  with the cameras and a carrier back full of leads and continental adaptors……oh the joy!

So cool shower, change of clothes and relax for an hour, it certainly has been an experience already and it’s only tea time!

Feeling refreshed, at 18.00 or thereabouts, we dressed and went out.  It was lovely in the cool narrow streets, breezy and it smelled of the seaside.  Fish, sea, ice-cream. ….oh and the bloody Seagulls!

After supper we witnessed the best sunset of this holiday on Ostende Seafront! It was magical and the sun didn’t set until 22.05 the sky was still red at 23.00 and then out of the blue, a spectacular firework display started. So as we had been ready to leave the little bar, we decided to watch for a while. “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside”!

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We walked around the corner and within 5 minutes, we’re completely disorientated ….here we go …. Lost again. We are always getting lost. When we came out it was daylight and now the evening was in full party mode with thousands of people and neon lights …. It all looked so different! So the Mr went into a Hotel to ask for a street map, the gentleman on the desk, showed him where we were now, “go straight and take the 5th turning on the right!” Sure enough, within 5 minutes we were back at our Hotel.

The room, as we thought, was like a Sauna.  The street below was noisy, people were still shouting and even at 01.00 there was so much noise!  There was also a Fire Engine outside for a while, with blue light streaming into our room.  We left the French doors open for air and thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any Mozzies about. Funnily enough I haven’t been bitten at all this holiday,  apart from a Horse Fly in the forest at Heiligenblut.

Sleeping was difficult.  The Seagulls were squawking all night, do they ever roost, or sleep?

It was daylight when I finally dropped off  …… pooped ……….. Granny 😆

Posted in The Adventures of Cilla the Citroen 2016, TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Last Day in Heidelberg

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Last Day in Heidelberg

So here we are again, our last day in this lovely place and it’s almost time to pack up and move on.  Before we do, we decide to take one last walk around, it’s Sunday, so most shops and a few cafes are closed.

From our room, we can see the twin spires of a church, so we decide to see if we can find it.  On the way, we took a look at the menu in the Taverna Knossos, a tiny little Greek Restaurant immediately behind out hotel.  Nice and near we thought and less walking.  We have walked miles over the last few days. So the decision has been made that this is where we will eat tonight.  They serve fried Aubergines with Skordalia, this is a favourite when we visit the Greek Island of Symi.

Plodding on slowly through the narrow, deserted streets, we followed the Spires (when we could see them), until they were in full view.  Then we noticed that there were hordes of people in front of the Church, “Some sort of festival maybe” says the Mr?  So we carried on to see what all the fuss was about.

There were lots of people selling second hand clothing, books, rucksacks, roller skates. …. A sort of table top sale, although, there were no tables.  Everyone was sat on the floor on picnic blankets and cushions.

There were stalls and a huge marquee, a man made sand pit for the children, face painting, cake sales, food and beer stalls and so on.

We ordered coffee and cake and asked what it was all in aid of.  “It is for Social Charites” The lady on the coffee stall said.  So when we had finished our Coffee and shared our Strawberry cake, the Mr handed the crockery back and told them to keep the €3 deposit for the charity.   I am sure that almost the whole town had turned out.

The Church was stunning!  A real central point for the area.  I am not religious at all, I never have been but I love the architecture and both me and the Mr always light candles in memory of people in our family who are no longer with us.  We don’t pray, we just take a moment or two out of the day to think about them.  It makes you feel better I think.  There were candles in this church too but we had no means of lighting them.

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It looks like rain and as it is so hot and muggy, it feels like there could be a storm.  We headed back towards the Hotel. We stopped for a Salad at a small bar and sat there for about an hour before returning to our room for a Siesta.

The Greek Restaurant was a 5 minute walk away and we managed to find a table without booking.  At first we thought we would have difficulty finding something for the meat-free Mr.  However, despite the language barrier, the lovely lady helped us to order, some of the favourite Aubergines and Skordalia.  Some Fish with fried Potatoes for the Mr and a lovely Pork and Feta dish with Tomato and Cream Sauce. It was lovely but apart from the Aubergines was nothing like Greek to me?!

So to bed, we need a good sleep tonight as we want to be away by 08.30.  I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Heidelberg and the Leonardo Hotel was very central for every tourist attraction.  However, we didn’t partake in the breakfast, which cost €18 per person!  You can buy breakfast for €5 100 meters along the road, I don’t mind paying a fair price but I hate being ripped off!  ……. Good night all ……….Granny 😆

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Posted in The Adventures of Cilla the Citroen 2016, TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment