A skip in my step

So the great Chicky Adventure is done and my sibling partner in crime has arrived back on the other side of the world (and is working through her jet lag by all accounts).

It was such an amazing two weeks – firstly for the unadulterated ‘just us’ time, secondly for the opportunity for me to introduce her to this amazing city I call home, and thirdly for our shared pilgrimage to Amsterdam, Dad’s childhood home, and the delicacies we enjoyed in memory of our Oma and Opa.

I’ve been meaning to pick up the blogging ‘pencil’ again over the last few days but I have felt so full of everything we did that I haven’t known where to start. The anticipation of Lil Chicky’s first trip here. The pride in the sharing of my new hometown and experiencing its fabulous-ness through her ‘new’ eyes. The privilege of helping her celebrate her 40th birthday. The sheer intensity of spending 2 weeks – 24/7 – together for the first time since…well forever.

All underpinned by a lifetime of sisterly memories, the effortless and uncomplicated recall of funny stories, childhood scrapes and sibling rivalry, and squillions of photos…

…including a few selfies.

DAY 2: Fab Finchley – looking for coffee in the pouring rain. 

DAY 3: Can’t go to London without visiting the Queen. 

DAY 4: Hamers do ‘the henge’ (squeezed between visits to Salisbury and Bath). Technically not a selfie thanks to a kind Aussie chap on the tour, but close enough.

There’s a small selfie gap here while we undertook birthday celebrations (part one – The Mousetrap and dinner in Covent Garden – and two – Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley)…

DAY 5: Fashionista food at the Berkeley

…Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Globe Theatre and a visit to Carnaby Street.

DAY 6: Yes, we bought these. Because we had to get out of the rain. And the Irregular Choice shop was just there. Really.

Then we went to Amsterdam…

DAY 9: Arriving at Amsterdam’s Central Station about 2 minutes before torrential rain…

Waiting for our first poffertjes (teeny tiny pancakes served with butter and icing sugar and eaten with a toothpick) of the pigrimage trip in Dam Square.

(More on Amsterdam in a later post).

After 4 days, we returned to London, hired a car and drove first to Silverstone and then to Donington Circuits to tick a few things off Lil Chicky’s motorsport bucket list. Looks like Day 13 was a lucky one…

The Winners’ Podium at Silverstone – cheesy but had to be done.

We decided to take Day 14 easy with a visit to the Museum of London after the ‘wild storm‘ had abated…and when Day 15 dawned bright and blue-skied (if a little chilly), there was just one thing left to do…

DAY 15: It endeth on The Eye – our last sibling selfie of the trip.

Full of our time together and tired from our two weeks of tourist-ing, we said our emotional good-byes at Heathrow last Tuesday. After I’d waved until she’d disappeared behind the security barrier, I made the long trip home to Gidday HQ. It’s still my warm and cosy haven but a little quieter. And yellow banner of the Money Shop, which became our welcoming ‘nearly home’ beacon as we turned into my street each night, has now taken on a new and poignant significance. Another memory, meaningless to anyone else but enough to inspire a skip in my step…

…one that only Lil Chicky will understand.

A Red Hot Ferrari of a Weekend…

This weekend saw my lovely man & I head up to Derbyshire for a long weekend….something we have not done for a while having been caught up in all the day to days of life. The key element of this foray was a Ferrari Drive at Donington Park for Jeremy (a birthday present from moi) at 8.30am on Saturday morning which involved an early-ish start (for a weekend away anyway) from our B&B…we arrived (with lots of other drivers and their ‘fans’) and off Jeremy went for his briefing before we all headed down to the garage – where there were 6 red Ferrari’s parked outside! After a familiarisation lap in a Mini Cooper, Jeremy was first up in an amazing Ferrari 360 – we spectators couldn’t really see the track but I could see him coming into the straight on each of the three laps and you should have heard that engine scream!! Phwoaaarr…I love a man in a Ferrari…grrrr

In the afternoon we drove into the Peak District National Park and went into Blue John Cavern, which is where ‘Blue John’ stone is mined from Nov-Feb each year (mainly used for jewellery). Our guide, one of the miners, took the group of six of us 300ft below the surface to see some absolutely spectacular formations – we were able to see coral and fossils from thousands and thousands of years ago when Britain was at the same ‘sea’ level as Africa too. The trek back up to the entrance was a bit of a challenge for me with the combination of 250 plus narrow steps and the fluctuating oxygen levels (that occur natuarally as a result of the water coming into the caves) but I made it – only to be almost blown away by ferocious (and freezing) winds at the top – windswept can be sexy but this was downright ridiculous! But great to blow away the cobwebs…and then thaw out in the warm car.

Waking up on Sunday morning, we were greeted by beautiful blue skies and decided to head to Crich to visit the Tramway village – if you are into trams this would be fascinating and if it was summer (and the ice cream parlour and the pub were open and serving food) this is probably a good value day out. But by the time we arrived it was rainy, cold and quite blustery (so umbrellas were completely useless) and by the time we’d wandered around for an hour and then had a tram ride up to the top of the hill too see the view, it was snowing! We spent a couple of ‘good-natured’ hours there but felt well-rewarded by a warming pub lunch in Ripley before heading home…