Friday, 12 August 2016

Fifty - not out

Today I am fifty, I don't feel it at all,  in my head fifty is a lot older than me, which is clearly nonsense. It's been a strange birthday, I was looking forward to it, my 40th birthday was during the demise of my first marriage and it fairly put me off Barcelona I can tell you, a lot has changed in the decade and I was really hopeful that myself and my lovely new husband would enjoy our trip to India for my 50th
Sadly my lovely gadget mad dad, who some of you have been reading about for many years died on July 22nd. We have had a truly grim time over the last year or so and his end was in no way reflective of the man he was. As my mums dementia is so advanced I am the person who has to take care of it all. I didn't realise how grief and possibly guilt can make people behave in such a peculiar fashion and a dreadful time was made so much worse by this. At one point I thought I would never speak to my sister again and I am most definite that I will never be in the same room as my dads sister who was actually asked to leave the undertakers due to her behaviour. We ended up with a funeral that was  nothing like he was but his View always was when you're dead, you're dead and people were adamant on having their own way  and I just didn't have the fight in me.
Today I realised that neither of my parents would ever be able to wish me happy birthday again and I am sad. Of course I realise that I am 50 and lots of people lose their parents much before this and that I have a fabulous family of my own which just keeps growing and growing.
I think this holiday is a little hiatus after the shock and then the sorting out of the funeral but I know when I go back that I will have to clear their house which is choc full of things my dad thought of as treasures but in reality is just full of his personality and dreams. After that the house will be so.d to pay my mums £850 per week care home costs.

The last thing my dad ever said to me was that he loved me, we ended every conversation with those words, I am very happy we did. As always, deo gratias.

Friday, 24 June 2016

In May and June auntie read

Book 26 The hare with amber eyes - Edward du Waal - fifty years after everyone else read it I  finally got around to it, it was okay, me again with the lavish praise. About Edwards search through his family history via the netsuke collection he had inherited

The house at the end of Hope St - Meena Van Praag - I trulylovethis, whimsical, magical, lovely and keep me with it all the way through, very highly recommended from your auntie, about a house that saves you

House rules - Jodie Picoult - I used to love her books but haven't read any for ages but this was another £1 wonder from Amazon, it was plenty fine. It was about autism, not sure how accurately 

The life and death of Sophie Stark - Anna North - a kid who can't fit in makes movies, it had more promise than content but wasn't awful, again high praise from your auntie, not

The hand that first held mine - Maggie O Farrell, a fabulous book about a secret, 2 stories in parallel, one in the 1950s and 60s and one in the present. This is a brilliant read

While my eyes were closed - Linda Green - a child disappears from the park during hide and seek, not nearly as good as Burnt Paper Sky - this is the supermarket own brand version. It was okay.

The book of you - Clare Kendall - about a woman being stalked

The girl from nowhere - Dorothy Koomson - I've read lots of her books and always enjoyed them. Often have a theme of something coming out of your past to threaten your present. Theme this time was adoption and race. I really enjoyed it except the end.

The war of the wives - Tamar Cohen - when a man dies his wives find out about each other, about his double life and the mess that goes with it. I liked her other book 'The Broken' so got this one for 99p. Most definitely worth the quid, she writes her characters well

 Black eyed Susan's - Julia Heaberlin - my book group read, serial killer lets one girl escape, not unless you're very bored

First one missing - Tamar Cohen - another missing child novel, truly I have no idea why my reading list has been so grim. I like this author though.

The silent sister - Diane Chamberlin - about a woman who discovers when her father died that what she had been told about her sisters death had been a lie and how she tries to uncover the secrets- not the worst I've read, which as you know is almost praise from your auntie

Reaching down the rabbit hole - Allan Ropper - tales of clinical practice from an eminent American neurologist. This I enjoyed, very easy to read and I find brains very fascinating

My husbands wife - Jane Corr about a lawyer who wins the case of her life, becomes successful and then finds people weren't who she thought they were and the child who is the neighbour of the lawyer. The child grows up and seeks out said lawyer and then it all goes wrong. Not great.

The Lake House - Kate Morton. I have read all of her books and usually really enjoy them, this one was my pick for our book group this month and sadly I appear to have picked her least engaging book

Fair scunnered

I am a Scot married to an Englishman and living in middle England. My eldest daughter lives and works in Germany, she is likely to marry a Welshman. My son studies and lives in Edinburgh, his future life partner is Hungarian. My youngest daughter studies and lives here, her best beloved is half Bahamian and half American but grew up here in the UK.
I love the diversity my life has, I spent many years living in multi-cultural Leicester and this enhanced tremendously the life of myself and my weans  and I welcome and applaud the fact that my future beautiful grandchildren will be a fabulous and fascinating mix of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs.
I love being able to get cheap flights and visit as much as Europe as I can get to, travel is our big passion, seeing other places and meeting locals who have had a completely different lifestyle but finding commonality is a huge pleasure in our life. We have yet to find somewhere in Europe we wouldn't happily live. Today I don't want to live in England.
When Scotland had the independence referendum I had no vote, I would have voted to stay anyway as I believe we are better together both as the UK and the EU but a great deal was made of the fact that a Scotland voting to go it alone wouldn't be able to automatically stay in the EU. Fast forward a mere 20 months and all 32 councils in Scotland voted to remain as did the majority in Northern Ireland and now there are calls for referenda on whether they remain part of the UK. 

What have we brought on ourselves? I have avidly read social media posts most of the day and I am saddened at what impression the rest of the world could have of us now, it's not our finest hour is it? 

If I need a new passport you can bet your last bagpipe on it being a Scottish one, I'm sure you're not surprised in the slightest. However aunties very, very English husband is also going to see if Nicola will let him have one by dint of being Scottish by marriage, that's something I never thought he would ever say.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Auntiegwen's guide to 5 days in Marrakech

Stay in a raid in the Medina. Stay at Riad Dar Nour El Houda,  Nourredine and Aysia are the best of the best, I wanted to hide under the bed and not come home. Aysia fed me, nearly as well as mr auntigwen does although I don't have to do anything for my dinner for Aysia..

Get a good map and don't look lost, some enterprising young lad, any age from 8 to 80 will rescue you, take you somewhere you don't actually want to go and charge you for the privilege.

Prepare yourself for everyone trying to sell you something. We have developed a good no thanks patter due to extensive practice in Turkish markets and holiday resorts.  We were tested.

There is no set price in the souks, know in your head what you are prepared to pay then stop looking. You will always find something very similar but cheaper two stalls down, I have the most expensive caftans ever bought in Marrakesh, I expect I was on the news as the single biggest boost to their economy. I have made my peace with it, they are gorgeous

All the guidebooks tell you to eat at the street food stalls at Jemaa El Fnaa main market square, it's a Unesco world heritage site. It has snake charmers, traditional dancers, fellas in frocks and monkeys in football strips, sunglasses and nappies.  Waste not your dirhams on stall 25. It's a vastly over rated experience.

Ditto the excursion up the Atlas Mountains to visit the Ourika falls

Bahia palace and Ben Yussef madrasah  were my best places we visited

Jardin Majorelle, Badii palace and museum of photography are okay, another damned by faint praise review by your auntie

I really wished I'd gone up in a hot air ballon over the Atlas Mountains, I will definitely do that on my next trip

Alcohol was served in only 1 of the dozen or so restaurant's we visited, don't be expecting to get drunk there. I drank an awful lot of water. I also had a really nice strawberry milkshake one day too, probably the first one since primary school, we even looked like kids with our sensible Velcro walking sandals, no there are no photies of our feet. We shall gloss over the indignity.

This trip was mr auntiegwen's birthday present, we flew Ryanair and our Riad included breakfast. Our 5 nights cost LOOK AWAY NOW husband dear, I paid £309. Do you think I could set myself up in a wee business finding nice wee jollities for people? My middle aged feet can't cope with the middle aged lady lecturing outfit shoes

Friday, 13 May 2016

In March & April auntie read

After  you'd gone _ Maggie O Farrell - on offer for a quid at Amazon so bought this for my Kindle. I loved this book but it had lost something for me on re reading, don't all be coming after me for refunds if you'd shelled out the 99p and didn't like it, I still liked it but maybe not quite as much as before.

The Girl from Krakow - Alex Rosenberg - Now I should have loved this, its worthy, set in WW2 which is a period in history I am hugely interested in and I have been to Krakow and I do love when I get the "ooh I've been there" moment in a book. Sadly it didn't do anything much for me at all. Save your 99p on this one.

The Skeleton Cupboard - Tanya Byron - I loved her when she was in all those tv parenting programmes. This was the story of her clinical training. I should have saved my 99p, can you see a theme emerging from my choices of books, I currently have a £2 limit, which is clearly why I am having such a poor run at present.

Where Memories Go - Sally Magnusson. This was ace, a beautifully written memoir of a mother dearly loved as she developed dementia. Hugely poignant and I really felt that Sally did a great job of describing Mamie to us, I can see why she loved her mammy so much. This is so worth reading, please get a copy of this, it was worth way more than the couple of quid it cost me.

Behind closed doors - BA Paris - I liked this, very easy to read and I liked Grace the main character, not the nicest subject matter but I enjoyed it plenty fine.

The lost boy - Camilla Lackberg. Set in Sweden a detective husband and his novelist wife solve crimes. He has a bonkers boss who is quite lovable now and she has a sister where everything bad in the world happens to. Easy crime, not mad graphic but graphic enough for an auntie

According to yes - Dawn French, not even going to describe this, waste not your time, utter shite, even though I got this free from the library, I was robbed

Driving over lemons - Chris Stewart - the story of adventures in Andalucia, they bought a farm and moved there, it was ok

The sea detective - Mark Douglas Home , another 99p Amazon marvel, about sex trafficked Indian girls to the outer Hebrides feuds, as weird as that sounds. I can't wait for my second 99p book from him so will read it next and get it over with. I am having a very poor year in books.

The woman who walked into the sea - Mark Douglas , another disappointment

The milliners secret - Natalie Meg Evans - Paris, couture, ww2 and nazis, actually really enjoyed this, romped through this nae bother at a

Room - Emma Donahue - for book group, it was all right

Balancing Act - Joanna Trollope , not her best but good enough, passed the time quite pleasantly

The secrets of the sea house - Elizabeth Gifford couple find the desiccated corpse of a baby under the floor of the house they are renovating, jeez that sounds properly grim written down, not the worst I've read this month. Lordy Lordy  I am a harsh critic

Ursula's secret - Mari Wilson - another disaster

Spectacles - Sue Perkins- I had high hopes for this but after reading it I liked her a lot less

Shatter the bones - Stuart Mcbride - graphic crime in Aberdeen? Oh yes please, not his finest but jeez I have had dreadful books these last 2 months so was plenty happy with this

Burnt paper sky - Gilly Macmillan- I was really looking forward to this. It started brilliantly and I was so pleased as it was the 18th book of the 2 months and genuinely I had only properly enjoyed the Sally Magnusson one about dementia so felt I was due a break. This has been the best book I've read in aeons, it just got better and better, I loved this. Go and read it.

Monday, 25 April 2016

In which auntie considers her place in the workforce

I have been asked by one of the marketing managers at work to join LinkedIn. They feel my profile needs raising. I have had a look, am I missing something or is it showing off for grown ups? I have signed up as we know compliance is aunties middle name and  I have duly added enough characters about myself to make a short tweet, auntie no likey the showy offy.

Anyhoo, I now get emails from LinkedIn asking me if I know people. This mornings selection included a chap who I booked a taxi from in 2013, a man who sells office furniture and my ex husband.

Sometimes you have to concede the point to the marketing johnnies don't you? 

Ps - feel free to connect with me, I need all the help I can get

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

A family holiday - part eleventy million

We have been to Deutschland again, this time visiting Eldest Beautiful Daughter. Just to add to the stress levels of intercontinental driving in a clapped out Astra, we decided to up the ante by taking The Boy wonder, the one the husband made earlier and gadget mad dad as we thought a wee trip would be nice for them. We had the joy of  all being together 24 hours a day as gadget mad dad got EBD's bedroom, the only bedroom in the flat, we were sleeping on EBD's sofa bed, she was on a blow up mattress borrowed from her friend Sian and the boy wonder was in a sleeping bag on a sleeping roll. ALL IN THE LOUNGE, YES THATS RIGHT, ALL IN THE LOUNGE (in capitals for emphasis) sorry for the lack of rantie auntie warning

 The road to Hell is paved with good intentions is the phrase that comes to mind.

Things we found out

The energy levels of a 10 year old boy and a just out of hospital pensioner aren't as compatible as we had hoped
No one in the world walks slower than my dad, no one 
The boy wonder can talk at great length and about the same thing if he is interested in the subject - this time top of the chat was nerf guns and his birthday present of Intellegente ( this is goo in a tin essentially, you can shape it and snap it and mould it but goo in a tin)
My dad can talk at great length and about the same thing if he is interested in the subject, his top chat was how he manages to get antiques worthy of the roadshow for thruppence ha'penny from every charity shop in Glasgow
The Boy Wonder sees food as a challenge, he will not be defeated by dinner, Even if his dinner will dribble out his ears
My dad really only wants to sit and drink tea and smoke. If he can do this in a place you can also find in Glasgow like McDonalds, so much the better
If the man in the ice cream shop has forgotten a scoop of tiramisu ice cream and not just stuck it in the bottom of the boy wonders cone as we mistakenly thought, it can take TBW a really long time to get over
Having to pay 50 cents for using a public toilet can take my dad a really long time to get over
The boy wonder is the noisiest and most restless sleeper known to man
My dad is the noisiest breather known to man, especially first thing in the morning, we hadn't anticipated holidaying with Lord Vader
The boy wonder is unable to think what might be useful for him to take with him on holiday or out for the day independently, this includes his glasses which he needs for reading and for his tablet which along with talking and eating make up every minute of his waking day although he did bring a stuffed toy donkey
My dad is unable to think what might be useful for him to take on holiday independently, this included warm clothes, travel insurance and a camera, no donkey though
Both the boy wonder and the dad said they enjoyed it, even if both of them looked at times like they'd rather be doing what they usually do at home

And that dear readers is a flavour of this years family holiday, there was more but I wasn't sure if you scare easy.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

auntiegwen's guide to 2 days in Berlin

 We have been on our travels once again. Courtesy of £40 return flights and a first for us a £75 night airbandb studio in the highest residential building in Berlin, very close to Alexanderplatz, named the concrete sky studio, it's designed to be soviet Spartan chic, we liked. We had great views of the TV tower from our 14th floor apartment.

Berlin has everything I like in a city, lovely buildings, easy public transport, interesting history and some of the interesting history for free, I especially like free museums, as most museums and galleries in Glasgow where I grew up are free, that's what I kinda expect, I'm more than happy to chuck good cash money in the donation box but I do like a free visit. I have always been interested in WW2 history and find the whole rise of the Nazi party scarily fascinating so Berlin is right up your aunties strasse, himself has blogged it better HERE but my tuppenyworth...

Do a free walking tour, I can't get enough of them
Topography of terror and the Museum of the German resistance are great and free and WW2 focussed
Tranenpalast and the remains of the Berlin Wall are good and free and Cold War focussed
The Tiergarden and the memorial to the Roma and Sinti are beautiful and free, do you see a theme?
The Riechstag is braw and you can book a free trip to the roof terrace and the dome, we went at night and it was so beautiful. Book in advance and take your passport.
Eating and drinking was reasonably priced and we walked everywhere, we used public transport for the train from airport to Mitte and back again but that was it, the rest of the time we walked, a lot. Total cost of the 2 days was £230 comfortably within the £300 city break limit we set ourselves. For me this was the best of our jollies. As always we financed this oor own selves, I am stunned that no one is offering me free digs when you get this level of top travel tips, aren't you?

Monday, 14 March 2016

Princess pieds

I am back from Berlin, 'twas ace and fabulous and you should all go there. I will post pictures when I stop having a strop with my iPad. To be fair to the iPad, it's not its fault, I am struggling to have text and photos  in a manner pleasing to your auntie. I shall not be defeated, I expect my husband will post with better photos as well so go and see him HERE

So today I am going to whine about my feet, when in Berlin for the 48 hours I was there I racked up 67 thousand something steps, that's a lot of steps. I love a good walk but I am now beginning to struggle with my feet or more precisely I struggle with footwear, my feet don't match me, they're not the feet of a middle aged stoical lady, my feet belong to a Princess who is currently wondering why someone has stolen her feet and swapped them with trotters belonging to a peasant.

My feet hate all shoes now, the balls of my feet are a trouble but my heels are the most princessy part of them, anything touching my heel for more than a nano second sends them into a swoony faint and they demand a chaise longue and a wee rest. I can work with this in the summer, I wear fit flops which are very cushioned underneath so I can walk and my heels are naked, my heels like naked, they are the only part of me that does. I have lovely fit flop slippers which leave the requisite heel to fresh air ratio,  I have even managed to find fit flop boots, they saw me round my 67,000 steps of Berlin, so why am I moaning?
Dear reader, they are not the most attractive of footwear and they don't suit anything other than casual wear, normally this is okay as I'm not a dressy up kind of auntie, I wear maxi dresses and fit flops in the summer and I wear jeans and fit flop boots in the winter, at home I wear the slippers. I am not geeing my ginger with this, I can adapt, my feet look special but they are continuing to move the auntie round, I'm not complaining but...
 I have to go and speak at a conference this week and for some reason the lecture I will give will not be understood by the attendees if I show up in my maxi dress and fit flops. For me to get my point across I need to be in nice lady clothes, again nae bother to your auntie, I have loads of serious lady lecturing outfits. None of them, sadly, work with fit flops, boots or slippers, I know, completely #firstworldmiddleagedladyproblems.
So enterprising wee soul that I am, I have sourced and I have paid good cash money for a pair of black high heeled suede mules and a packet of something called party feet, they appear to be wee gel cushions you put in your shoes. I'm not sure I would class the Royal College of Nursing's Education conference as a party but us middle aged ladies with bad feet have to take our kicks where we can find them.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

In January and February auntie read....

I used to read at least 3 a week, never watched telly and went to bed alone at 9 every night, I had time. Now I have an iPad, the internets especially my new found Instagram obsession and a husband. I am missing the books, I am aiming for 1 a week. 

Amazon has probably my most favourite book of all for 99p so please buy Maggie O'Farrell - After you'd gone. That is my random act of kindness for today. You're welcome.

In January and February, your auntie read...

TThe Sunrise by Victoria Hislop
Set in Cyprus during the troubles of the 1974 war this tells the story of a fancy hotel and the staff. Working together are Greek Cypriots and some Turkish Cypriots, you see both sides of the story.If you like to learn something as well as enjoy the story, this is the book for you, the older I get the more I like things to be worthy!  I would say this would be a great holiday read. It's very easy to read and I did enjoy it, Tolstoy it's not but frankly with dry January, the 5-2 diet and my Christmas overspend, I needed all the comfort on offer to me.

Shoot the damn dog - Sally Brampton
I am fortunate in that where I have had low periods and stressful times in my life, I haven't been depressed, I might have been up to 90 and have had moments of high anxiety but I haven't felt like it wouldn't get better. I have friends and a family member really struggling with this at the moment so had hoped it would help me if not to help them at least to be able to not say anything daft. 

The Skeleton Road - Val McDermid
Usually like her but this one was hard going at times, not a Tony Hill/Carol Jordan but you could guess who had did it a fair bit before the end, it's fine so.

When God was a rabbit - Sarah Winston 
Unlike everyone else I missed it first time around, started well but my interest petered out about half way through, it was ok, I know I should be in the literary supplement with pithy wit like this.

Splinter the silence - Val McDermid
I did like this one. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan back together and setting up a new crime squad, someone is murdering outspoken women but making it look like they have committed suicide but Tony and Carol put an end to that malarkey.

How to build a girl - Caitlin Moran , if you've read how to be a woman, don't bother with this, save yourself the time. I loved Moranthology so everything I read after this is a bit of a letdown, I expect she's fretting now she's got my opinion, I shall have to avoid her at parties.

Little lies - Liane Moriarity
I liked this, small town suburban Australia and the petty politics of the school gate with a deeper undercurrent.

Tune in again at the end of April and please do recommend your favourites to me, I love a good book.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

auntiegwens 2 days in Glasgow

After returning home from Riga, early next morning we were packed up again and headed to the Mother country. As my parents become older and frailer I feel more and more guilty about the level of support my sister is having to provide as I live so far away. I haven't written much as its been fairly depressing stuff but we have been through 3 months of chaos and more chaos.

My mother was formally diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago, since December she has been in full time nursing home care, looking after her 24 hours a day 7 days a week has taken the most awful toll on my dad and after the weekend from hell and several weeks of broken sleep and her continuously rising levels of agitation and aggression she finally went into care. My mother as she is now is unrecognisable from my mum of a few years ago. Since going into care she has gone downhill even more rapidly but I think she seems to have plateaued and I hope she will stay at this level for a wee while.
It's been fairly grim and since she went into the home my dad has been very low in mood and really turned his face to the wall. He has ended up in hospital with repeated falls and a whopper of a chest infection. My sister and I have been frantic with worry, she became safe but isn't in the best place, he's become our worry and every time we phoned or visited we had the fear we wouldn't find him alive. He had hit rock bottom and was taken into hospital, just about everything wrong with him and the process of getting him back to his own self began, so after a few weeks in hospital and lots of new equipment, panic buttons, falls alarms and the like he has come home again.

 So we head up for a few days so we are there whilst he comes out of hospital, he doesn't want to come and stay with me so back up the M6 I go, I am getting a dab hand at Glasgow hotels now, this time we stayed at GoGlasgow urban hotel due to its proximity to the hospital, loved the decor, breakfast and staff superb, owned by a family company who give 50% of their profits to local charities, they also give you a Tunnocks tea cake in the room, I was mightily pleased by that, himself was very enamoured of the retro style phone although he did not eat it.
We then had a very welcome complimentary night at One Devonshire Gardens, himself had mentioned to staff that we hadn't slept well on our previous anniversary stay, steady yourselves now, due to the bed. Being the all round excellent hotel they are they offered us a free night and as we spend lots of time in Glasgow  we were very pleased to accept. They gave us quite a swish room too, completely different in style to GoGlasgow Urban but lovely none the less. The bath in the bedroom thing is is quite a few of their rooms, we had that previously when we stayed in the Vettriano suite.

The service in both was top notch, I loved the decor in GoGlasgow and as its at least £100  cheaper per night, I guess I will be staying there lots but because One Devonshire is where we got married if I have the cash I will be happy to go there at least on our anniversary. Go and stay in either, they're both brilliant hotels.

My dad is now home and has become fixated on the idea of my mums funeral, God love him, last few weeks you wouldn't have got good odds on it being him but there you go. It's become a thing he has to get fixed, so we sort it out, we have found the paperwork for the cemetery lair my mums parents are buried in, we also have a spare slot in the lair her aunt and uncle are buried in, were that kind of family, 2 plot kind of toffs, that's us. We have bought a funeral bond and chosen hymns, it's been a bit surreal but my mum is completely unaware of it all. 
I was with her just 5 weeks ago and on this visit I'm not convinced she recognised me when I went in. She was less well kempt than I would have liked to see her and they seem to have given up putting her damned teeth in which is my big pet peeve, they had been lost for weeks but turned up in my mums handbag, also lost in one of the staff lockers, the mind boggles.. Despite looking like Draculas granny she has managed to acquire an amour, she was sitting holding his hand when I arrived, I had been pre warned by my sister about this man , who coincidentally has the same name as my dad, I guess she just shouted out 'Jim' and this wee man answered, he seems happy enough with it so I guess I am pleased she's found a pal. Hopefully it'll stop her kleptomania, this visit she had someone else's teddy bear, handbag and the photo frame on her bedside table was of people she was sure were her family, I have a very nice looking younger brother and a cute wee niece I am completely unaware of. Still, I'm not having to buy presents for them or babysit. Every cloud and all that.

Monday, 15 February 2016

auntiegwen's guide to 4 days in Riga

We are currently in Riga, which is beautiful. It is cold, as you would expect in the Baltics, it is not cold enough for himself, last week is was minus 20 and under several feet of snow, disappointed is not even close to how he feels. The poor old Latvians have had a shocking time of it, it comes to something when the Nazis were the better deal. We like a good bit of awful history when we do a city break, last time Poland and the holocaust, this time Latvia and the Red army, they have pretty well been occupied from the end of WW1 until the 1990's.
We are staying in the Old Town,which is lovely, we have a fancy window that opens up into a balcony with lovely views. The hotel Welltown Spa gives you free fizz at breakfast, what's not to like? 
We have walked the legs off ourselves, there are several charming parks with lots of statues, great churches, lots of monuments and as I travel with himself lots of trips to war museums, I enjoyed the museum of the occupation and himself the corner house which is the KGB headquarters, this building and staff within were still providing their own brand of torture till the 1990's ! 
The art nouveau district is particularly charming and definitely worth a wander, sadly the museum was closed during our entire visit but the buildings more than make up for it. Also in the evenings everything s beautifully lit, the auntie loves a fairy light so I'm very happy. We ate heart shaped pizza and watched a wedding as befits Valentine's Day so it felt very romantic.
Eating out is always an adventure for this fussy vegetarian as I don't eat meat, fish, eggs or poultry, this is another meat heavy region but we managed to find Miit, which is a vegetarian place and we had the lunch deal, we had a fantastic tomato and lentil soup with cashew cream and a polenta thing, both courses with a sparkling water for me and a beer for him for 13 euro. I wasn't fussed on the polenta thing. I would also recommend Burger Story,  my spinach burger was alarmingly green but extremely tasty, he had a fancy burger with loads of different bits of dead animal, very nice skin on chips and 2 beers for less than 20 euro.
The local beers were good and cheap and I drank Rigas the local sparkling hooch, a lovely wee lady bottle was 1 euro 50 ish, get the Brut one if you don't want your teeth to fall out, I made the mistake of the Rose, once.
We flew Wizz air from Luton and our return flights and 4 nights in a fancy room at the Wellton cost £300 for the 2 of us, so if you fancy a city break with lots of history, scenery and all within waking distance, come to Riga.
Please note we paid for the break ourselves, it was my Christmas present to the lovely mr adventures.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Another way of looking at it....

Today I was explaining to my lovely colleague about mr auntiegwen and myself's upcoming jollity to Latvia, and I  uttered one of my most favourite sentences "spending the kids inheritance one city break at a time"
Mr a never missed a beat and merely said " also known as our money"

Thursday, 28 January 2016

In which the auntie addressed her weight

I am a chubby auntie, I have been chubby for a long time. I know why I am chubby, I like food, wine and my sofa in no particular order.

So, in the interests of trying something new as I have done all the usual, I now fall asleep listening to a lovely lady who tells me to stop eating my own body weight in crap.

Knowing my luck mradventures/auntiegwen will be the one who loses weight! I shall keep you posted.

Friday, 22 January 2016

What's in a name?

I have been in that London for 3 days for work. On Wednesday morning I was part of the education team, by the time I left at 5 I was in workforce development. My job didn't change, in fact 50% of my job title is education. I expect I have a confidentiality clause somewhere that says I am not allowed to tell you about this, but I guess you know what I am thinking, I am thinking it quite hard.
Most people understand the term education, I don't properly understand workforce development my own self and I'm it, I expect I will get to understand why workforce development is a better term for what I do in time.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The law of Sod

January is always a fairly blah month for us, we are usually exhausted and skint due to the excesses of Christmas. This year mradventures and I for the very first time have decided to do a dry January. We are doing plenty fine on it, possibly because January tends to be the month where we just don't seem to go out, we are quietly contented upon the sofa. 
We have a few things in the diary to go to, we have been invited to a 40th birthday do next Saturday, we can do that.
We have another dinner out on Wednesday 27th, again not a big issue.
But the real kicker?
Beautiful Baby Daughter found out yesterday she has got a job, that's a great thing, it doesn't make me reach for the bottle at all. BBD is going to be working in an extremely fancy cocktail place that is being opened on Friday 28th of January, 
As they have over 80 cocktails on the menu with 40 kinds of gin, they are inviting family and friends on Thursday 27th for a free trial night.
Yes indeed, free cocktails a few days before the end of dry January.
The law of Sod indeed.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The first non gold tree in 23 years....

 Catherine wanted to see pics of our first non gold tree. Always happy to share, this was the tree himself brought home, it was manhoosive! When the net came off it was over 6 foot wide. 
We gave it a severe haircut and we managed to fit the sofa back in the room.
 It was really lovely to have a real tree again, first time in 23 years. So we started to decorate...
And I kept going...
And going...
It's like I can't help myself
 I'm going to stop soon
 It was a bit OTT
But I loved it
It was quite a sight, 
And took up a lot of room
It looks like we didn't pay the leccy bill but I just love candles
I kept the silver theme much to The beautiful sons chagrin - he doesn't like change
 But I liked it, so did mr auntigwen as due to the candle heat, he could switch the central heating off and that gives him a disproportionate amount of pleasure, I expect being married to me he takes his joy where he can!
My lovely big children
With the boy wonder and the lovely G who tamed the big son
And with our beloved Granny, mr a's gorgeous mammy. It was a fab Christmas x

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Things I love in my house

I am desperately interested in interiors and home decor at the moment, I've always liked it but I find I am spending more and more time looking at house porn,  maybe its displacement,  I have given up all hope of improving myself so have turned my attention to the house, it can't answer back or complain.

 I recently joined  Instagram and man, there are some lucky people with some gorgeous houses on there, I am spending way too much time lusting over these pristine interiors. 

There are some things about my house I love, when you are immersed in the ├╝ber glamorous world of  interior design it's easy to forget that you have some special, amazing and unique bits in your own. Let me share 3 things I love in my home.

This is my TV stand, it is a fully functioning treadle Singer sewing machine. It belonged to my great aunt Sarah, it's was her 21st birthday present back in 1929, it was given to me over 20 years ago when she died and I know I will always have it in my home. The candles are everywhere, I have masses, literally money going up in smoke but I always have one burning somewhere.

This is our memory board, it's magnetic and I bought it from my favourite homeware shop Lavender Blue, in Market Harborough. It has photos, tickets from planes, metros, gigs and trains, boarding passes and our marathon medals, it is a lovely big chaotic jumble of us.

Last but not least, our humble garden shed, mr auntiegwen/mr adventures and eldest beautiful daughter built it, he and I painted it and I take full credit for the bunting, the bunting does not please himself, he refers to it as 'a bunch of rags tied to my good shed'. I up cycled the pallets and added the hydrangeas in planters and the candles. I think it looks fabulous.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

auntiegwens guide to 1 night in Glasgow

As some of you will know, I grew up in Glasgow and still I think of it as home although I haven't lived there since 1987! And yes I am fully aware of how old that makes me sound, thank you very  much. 3 years ago I was fortunate enough to get married and we (I) chose One Devonshire Gardens as our venue. 

I love this hotel and we our intention was to spend each of our wedding anniversaries there. We have only managed to do it on our third attempt! We have stayed there quite a few times now and to us it will always be special, the service is impeccable yet friendly, the surroundings grand but homely and it is just a stroll away from Byres Rd with its great shops, good bars, fantastic restaurants and not forgetting the independent cinema and the Jewel that is Oran Mor.

This  time we opted to eat outside the hotel and we headed to Cafe Andaluz on the recommendation of the lovely lady who served us in Time and Tide which is a gorgeous interiors shop at the top end of Byres Rd, I couldn't pass it by, just my taste, I wanted to buy everything, I gave it my very best shot! 
At Cafe Andaluz we had the pre theatre menu of 3 tapas plus pud for £15 and a bottle of cava. I had the aubergine and manchero bake, the goats cheese and marmalade and donated my 3rd to himself, he ate meaty things, I have not a notion what they were. For pud we were going to have half of each other's but my meringue and raspberry was too nice to share so I ate it all! 
Suitably revived and replete we meandered back to the hotel. I would say that of all the rooms we have stayed in at this hotel, it was our least favourite, by no means was it bad, it just wasn't as good as the others, it didn't have the wow factor for us, judge for yourself, it was a but busy for your auntie. The bathroom was nice though.

The  hotel which is part of the Hotel du Vin chain provides bathrobes and slipperstoiletries are Miller Harris and smell citrusy which I like and rooms have iPod Bose stereo thingies and Nespresso machines ( quite frankly I would rather have a kettle, no point in wasting fancy coffee on me, I have instant tastebuds, himself loves them, we have one at home, I never touch it) 
Breakfast is good and was included, not sure it is ever worth the extra as I have coffee, toast, yoghurt and I'm done. Himself had eggy things this time, if I don't eat it I tend not to notice nor care, if it's pinchable by me you have a chance of a description. We paid £165 for 1 nights b&b so not the cheapest but when you love you love, don't you?