Monday, 27 May 2013

Where's number 22 gone?

Polesden Lacey House
The sun is out.  Hubby is off work.  No school.  Caching time!

We have a lot more of the Humble Hike to do so talking to hubby, he thought that the walk to the back of Polesden Lacey was a bit far before we'd even started caching so Plan B was that we would park up near West Humble station and walk some of that part.

Driving down the narrow lanes to the station, we pulled into the car park.I say car park but it's more like 6 spaces and a train track.  Good heavens.  Where do commuters park?  Anyway as it was "full" we carried on up the lane hoping to find a nice car park somewhere.  We went a bit further.  Further still. We came out at the road leading up to Polesden Lacey.  Oh well, I have all the caches stored offline so we'll just go back to Plan A then.

A nice, but windy, stroll through the back of the grounds and off up a steep hill across some fields heading for our first two.  Foiled again. This was just a scenic view area and there was no path heading to our right to get to #16 and #17.  OK, we'll leave those for another day and start at #18.  A nice easy spot for the girls and they made the retrieve.

Away through the woodland we went off to find #19.  The path was quite steep at times so the girls held our hands to stop us falling down. A nice easy spot for them and they made their second retrieve of the day.

We were getting our bearings looking at the fields we had walked around before doing the Polesden ring itself.  Coming up to #20 and the place was quite obvious.  Again, checking all was safe, they went in for yet another find. They were really delighted with their 3rd in a row and S said that maybe I would like to find one next time (cheeky little devil).  It was at this point - when taking the photo - that I realised S had pinched the little pony toy out of the previous cache!  As we had no swaps on us today, I had said they could look but not take anything. Seems the pony was just too tempting!  I'll keep an eye on her for the rest of the caches.

Retrieving Humble Hike #21 together
#21 was near to a field that we decided to have our snack in.  Again, they both made the retrieve.  Sorry said S, you can get the next one mummy.  Pah!

Bit crowded around Polesden Lacey today...

We popped the picnic blanket down and had a nice few sandwiches and some fruit.  Before hubby and I had blinked, all the strawberries had gone and two little red mouthed smiles were looking at us.  You have to be quick in this family.

At this point I realised that I had managed to miss off #22 from my offline list. Disaster!  There is no phone signal around here (a lesson learned last time) and I thought I had managed to put all the remaining hike ones on but clearly not.  We thought we could estimate a rough distance and would look at any likely suspects.

Lottery win please
#23 beckons.  I darted in for this one myself as there was a solitary nettle in the way which I deemed to dangerous for the girls to go near.  Sneaky huh?

#24 was going to be our final one of the day as we had been out for 2 1/2 hours now and N's legs were getting rather tired.  It's not exactly a flat path around this area.  Considering she's not even 2 1/2 yet, she is a fabulous little walker.  The final cache was another nice one for the girls to find.  Getting there we had to cross the road we had come up originally. Some people were walking along it. Not something I would want to do as it is all blind bends and very little passing space.

We turned around and began to head back across the fields to get a well deserved ice cream before going home.

Picking dandelion clocks to blow
In the middle of this field was a tree. We decided to search for #22 there.  Nope.  At the other end of the field was a fallen tree stump. Nope.  A gate.  Nope.  Worth a look just in case.  We were utterly out and hopelessly looking in the wrong place (I know this now I am home looking at the map). Oh well, we'll be back again so we'll hoover up the missed ones then.
Back across the route we had taken around the Polesden Lacey caches before so we had a shortcut back.  Wildflowers everywhere.

Ice cream was now the order of the day.  The tubs weren't cheap (when are they at these places?) but they were very tasty indeed.

Of course no day is complete without visiting a playground on the way home so we stopped off at one we've not tried before at West Clandon to wear the girls out a bit more (as if that was needed).  Back home now for a play in the garden and some dinner.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Rhododendrons in Bloom

Can you find me?
N and I went to our favourite garden, RHS Wisley, today.  S was on a school trip to a local farm so we had the whole day to ourselves.  We packed up a little lunch and set off.  Surprised to see stewards showing people the way in today and the coach park looked very full but we parked in seconds and off we went.

N was the one leading the way today so I just let her decide where she wanted to go.  She, like S, adores coming to Wisley as she loves the colours, the shapes and the smells.

The rhododendrons are in full bloom there at the moment and the colours are so vibrant.  I think I chose a great jacket for N to wear.

The variety and colours of the flowers is just fantastic to see.  One variety I have in my garden and always assumed it was an azalea but clearly it is not.

It was nice for N to just run around and smell the flowers, look at the colours and have her tell me all about them. She also told me which ones I needed to photograph so we came away with an awful lot of pictures.  Here are just some of the gorgeous flowers you can see if you visit soon.

Of course we walked around a lot more of Wisley too and had our visit to the Glasshouse to nibble a few choccie biscuits and some fruit as it was a lot warmer in there than outside!

I need to tell my Wisteria how to grow!

Multi-coloured Tulips

N was fascinated that Pandas would eat Bamboo

Apple blossom

Pelagoniums in the Glasshouse
There is a blaze of colour in the glasshouse with the Pelegonium displays. I thought these were Geraniums when I first walked in.

Time for some fruit and a little bit of a warm up near the waterfall.  It was chilly outside that's for sure.

Pitcher Plant

Amazing flowers

I'm sure there were more chocolate buttons in here

Duck watching

N was fascinated with the Union Jack flower display as we came and left Wisley.  She spent ages smelling all the different flowers.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

For one night only, welcome to the life of a VIP

A month or so ago I had an email from Virgin Holidays which told me about a 'Mojovator' they had whereby you tweeted them the thing that gave you mojo and prizes could be won.  I did a tweet.  Just the one. I forgot all about it.

A few weeks ago I noticed Virgin Holidays were following me on Twitter.  Well, I am a very interesting person of course.  I then noticed I had a direct message from them.  I opened it.  It said I had won a prize on their Mojovator of a VIP box at the O2 Comedy Gala for me and.....19 of my friends!  Wow.  I was absolutely gobsmacked.  To be fair, I have only ever won one other competition and for that I got a rubber chicken - don't ask!

I could not believe it.  I replied as required by the message and within a day heard back from their Advertising folk confirming my prize.  Details would be sent to me.  I began to phone family and friends inviting peeps to come with me.

Still having no idea what I had really won, I heard last week that as well as the VIP box (which alone would have been totally amazing), we also had food and drink available.  Fantastic.

The big night arrived.  We made our way up to the O2 with one set of friends and met up with everyone else there.  I was determined to grab a London geocache (well, why miss the opportunity?) so lead my hubby and two friends on a wild cache-chase around the O2 only to discover we couldn't get anywhere near it from within the complex grounds and clearly needed to be on the other side of the fencing. I did contemplate climbing over the barriers but being arrested before a night out isn't a great start I'm sure you'll agree.

It was a bit touch and go for a few friends as due to a football match at Wembley, their train company decided to cancel all trains as they were waiting on the station.  A very middle class protest started with people using strong words and threatening well written complaint letters. Our friends then headed home, jumped into their car and drove down, still managing to arrive at 6.45pm which was pretty impressive.

Our hosts for the night - Sophie and Ed - found us and gave us our VIP tickets so while they went and ensured the box was all ready for us, we made our way to the VIP bar and waiting area and got ourselves a drink.  We could get used to this. After a good chat and a half hour enjoying the facilities, we went up to the box.

We really didn't expect what was waiting for us. A fabulous suite with a lady taking our coats and serving us drinks.  The most incredible nibbles on the table in front of comfy sofas and, at 7pm, the most delicious selections of hot food as well.  We were totally spoiled.

The show was about to start so we took our seats looking straight at the stage.  Brilliant.

The whole show kicked off with the dance group Diversity doing their thing.  Alan Carr joined them and then complained that their name implied the dancers should indeed be more diverse.  In came Warwick Davis who did his piece with them. Not diverse enough yet.  In came Miranda Hart to sort out the problem.  This really was a diverse dance troupe now.  Brilliant fun.

Michael McIntyre brought the first half to a close and did a fantastic set, very much appreciated by the audience.  His 'Scottish accented, naked, burglar encounter' had me almost in tears.  Lee Evans was the highlight of the second half and again had the entire arena laughing with him.

Comedian after comedian came to the stage.  All bar a couple were extremely good and had the whole arena in stitches.  Keith Lemon's skit (pre-recorded) was absolutely dire and met with silence.  No surprise there then.  The list of stars was huge - Nina Conti, Jonathan Ross, Russel Brand (can't stand him), Jo Brand (surprisingly awful), Jack Dee, Jason Byrne, Rhod Gilbert, Paul Chowdhry (cringe-worthy material), Kevin Bridges and Jon Richardson to name but a few.

The show finished around 11pm and we headed off saying our goodbyes.

Six of us were going in the same direction so we debated whether to get on the tube with what seemed like 100,000 other people or to just jump in a taxi. As we shuffled our way towards the tube station/taxi rank, we noticed the taxi queue, whilst not too long, seemed to have a total lack of taxis arriving and departing.  The tube it was then.  We shuffled our way around the top of the station and onto the escalators and onto the platform which was...almost empty!  Where the heck had everyone gone?  One minute we are surrounded by people, the next we're on a tube - with space around us - heading for Waterloo.  I am assuming everyone was going the other way or this tube arrived totally empty and just filled up with us all.  Off at Waterloo and we'd just missed the first fast train back to our station but got on the next one that was waiting, grabbed a set of 6 seats together and chatted until the train pulled away 10 minutes later. We were home by 12.30am.

An incredible evening and fantastic experience for us all. Unfortunately, we have all now been spoiled and to go to the O2 again and sit in 'the cheap seats' would be a come-down.  I wonder how much we could buy a box for....

Thank you so much Virgin Holidays for giving us this wonderful experience, to Virgin Atlantic for the use of their fabulous box and to Sophie and Ed for being such great hosts.