Blog Posts

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

alcohol alcoholic beverage celebrate
Photo by Pixabay on

What helps you be jolly during the festive season? Without sounding like my jolliness revolves around alcohol here are my favourite drinkies in no particular order except this is how they come to mind:

  • Clementine and cranberry Bucks Fizz (Christmas breakfasts are not complete without a glass or two of this. Note two fruits! So really it’s a health drink)
  • Gingerbread latte (those ‘Red Cups’ always signal the start of the season for me)
  • Mulled wine (great on long, cold walks)
  • Hot chocolate with a wee nip of brandy (so naughty and practically undetectable to the outside world)
  • Babycham (how very retro)-  can be mixed with cider for the ultimate wobbly-kneed experience
  • Snowballs (Advocat and lemonade) – my Granny used to give this to me as a special treat at Christmas
  • Sherry  (naturally I have to quality-check the ingredients for my trifle)
  • Bubbly – celebrations are not complete unless there’s some Prosecco or Champagne on the go

Not making my list is Eggnog. I love the sound of it, reading the ingredient list, but the reality, for me, just doesn’t do it. Probably just as well seeing as I have an egg sensitivity (yolk and white).

What festive potions make it onto your drinks list?

Wishing you all a fun Friday xx

For your enjoyment…


Blog Posts

Egyptian adventure – the end


Our very last early morning call came at 3:00am… we were heading off for a sunrise  balloon flight over the Valley of the Kings. Needing match sticks to prop open our eyelids, ten adventurers left the ship to make our way to the airfield. On the way we were required to fill in some important information to help balance the basket – our weight in kgs. Well I had an idea of what I was in stones at the beginning of the holiday. But now I’d enjoyed a whole week of all-inclusive food and drinks and I never have any idea of what I am in kg. In the end did some rough mental arithmetic and added a couple of kg just to be sure. I hoped nobody would read the weights out loud!

As we neared the airfield we passed the Valley of the Kings, tombs lit, casting eerie shadows over the land up into the mountainside. I was more than happy to observe from ground level but Mr D really wanted us to experience a balloon flight together. It’s a measure of how much I love him that I got into the basket, smile fixed in place. As our balloon inflated the basket left the ground, hovering a little to allow the ground crew to move us around to distribute our weight evenly. Satisfied that all was well, they cast us loose and up we floated. Four gas burners supplied the hot air. So powerful and loud were they that I named them The Dragons!


Our pilot was great at pointing out major features as we slowly floated skyward. Every so often he would let us know our current height. This might have been welcome information for other passengers, but for me it was disconcerting – he finally stopped calling out the height at 950m. By this time I have a death grip on the handles and am unable to take photos. Mr D, on the other hand, was having the time of his life. Borrowing some courage from him, I managed to peer over the edge and pick out various tombs and temples. As my ears popped again I realised we were on the way back to earth. Praying for a gentle landing I adopted the landing position which is more like the thigh-workout from hell. Fortunately we were blessed with a gentle landing, kissing the desert. All we had to do was stay put while the ground crew found us and began the process of deflating the balloon and packing it away. Phew! I survived.

A little later we rejoined our tour team who’d been watching us from the ground, and they brought packed breakfasts for us. What a lovely thought. Munching on a croissant and some fruit, we toured round the Valley of the Queens. The tombs don’t look like much from the outside but were amazing inside. Like the Tardis, they are deceptively large inside. The carvings and decoration still looked as fresh as the day they were completed. Same for the Valley of the Kings. The unfinished tombs indicated that their occupants died before the craftsmen had time to finish their work.

Onwards to the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. What a woman. She did a power grab for the throne and held on to it for over twenty years. Most of her statues show her dressed as a Pharaoh, complete with false beard. When she passed away, her usurped nephew was so incensed with her that he tried to erase her image wherever possible, outdoing the fleeing Christians in destruction!

On to our very last temple – Ramesses 3rd. Again the carvings and decoration are still in remarkable condition. By this time, Mr D and I were footsore and quite tired. We’d been on our feet for 12 hours without a coffee!! For this first time on this trip, I was more than glad to be back on board, even if it was to pack our cases and make ready for a few days in Makadi Bay to rest and recover.

I cannot put it into words just how amazing it has been to see the wonders of the ancient world with my own eyes. The Egyptian people are so warm and welcoming, and our security was their highest priority. Wherever you come from, dear readers, if Egypt was on your list of places to visit, please go. You’ll not regret it and will come back with amazing memories.

Thank you all for reading this little series. I wonder where we will travel to next?

Happy travels everyone xx

Blog Posts

Egyptian adventure -pt 3

Hello 6:30am. Fancy seeing you on holiday. We have to get going as soon as possible before the temperature rises to furnace level (mid to upper 40 deg C)

Karnak hold numerous temples built by various Pharoahs and Queens. Our guide kicked off today’s teaching with a lesson on how to read hieroglyphs. Turns out you can read them left to right, right to left and top to bottom depending which way the faces of the hieroglyphs face. That must have been quite a headache for the original decoders… multi-directional writing and no punctuation. How do you know you’ve come to the end of a word, never mind a sentence?

The most prolific builder seems to have been Ramesses 2nd. Most of his works have survived invasions by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Christians and remained in good order, though not always. There were curious pock marks on some monuments. Turns out the Christians fleeing persecution, were armed with bolster chisels and blooming big hammers! All the other invaders built extensions to the existing architecture. I actually felt I had to apologise for the wanton destruction. The world should be thankful that most of the monuments were deeply buried in sand and soil and therefore escaped defacement.

On to the temple of Luxor…must remember to close mouth – everything is jaw-droppingly wonderful. This is beyond amazing. How did the builders, stonemasons and shipwrights accomplished their work, especially in this heat. I felt like I was walking in a sauna and it was only mid morning! If you get the chance to visit, go see the fertility god, his carving has seen much action throughout the ages. Needless to say I kept my hands to myself. I may be post-menopausal but I’m not taking any chances!

Our tour group tended to walk from shady spot to shady spot, and by lunchtime we were dripping and ready to head back to our ship for lunch.

Great excitement all round as we prepared to set sail for Esna. Everyone, now refreshed by lunch and cool drinks gathered on the top deck to watch the crew make ready to go. I guess the ship has come cool thrusters underneath as we seemed to move out of our berth sideways.

As we headed upstream, leaving Luxor behind, we travelled back through time. The city gave way to farms worked by tractors, which gave way to farms worked by horse, then eventually humans only.

A brief encounter with modern technology came in the form of a lock gate to raise us 6m up in record time. As we were not alone heading upstream we were berthed three deep. Buggrit! There goes the lovely view of the Nile. Oh and note to self, put clothes on before opening the curtains!

Tune in tomorrow for part 3 – Esna, Edfu and floating traders!

Blog Posts

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Happy Friday everyone.

This is a special Friday for me and Mr D. We’re off on a long-overdue holiday. For the next two weeks we will be mostly unplugged and off the grid in an effort to recharge our depleted batteries.

The trip is in celebration of Mr D’s big birthday (one with a zero on the end!) so I’ve pushed the boat out and booked us into a VIP lounge before our flight, and booked a few cultural trips to keep him amused. It’s always fun trying to find a balance between “doing” and “being”. Mr D loves doing, and will walk the hind legs off a donkey. Me? I like to mix it up with some being and some doing. With a bit of planning I think I’ve found the right balance for us.

As we are off the grid, I won’t be posting anything until we return at the beginning of October. Hopefully we will have so many wonderful experiences I will be awash with ideas for a good one-liner for Wednesdays and SoCS.

Until then, dear readers, be good. And if you can’t be good, for heaven sake, don’t get caught.

Cath xx

Blog Posts

Regaining some balance

Over the past two weeks I have had the privilege and joy to celebrate several family occasions; my own wedding anniversary, my sister’s birthday, and yesterday was my firstborn’s graduation day.

That’s a heck of a lot of celebrating, not to mention travelling. I enjoyed the peace and company of of just Mr D and I for our anniversary. I enjoyed the journey to Edinburgh and back, the look of shock and surprise on my sister’s face when she unwrapped her gifts (it was good kind of shock), and watching my kids and their cousins pick up their relationship where the left off since we last got together.

This week Mr D and I have hosted both sets of parents, as well as our kids’ partners. Military precision planning was needed to feed and transport everyone. At one point I did feel as if I was herding ducks! No sooner had I got the parents where they needed to be, one of them would randomly disappear without saying a word. Not ideal when we needed everyone together for official photographs! One went off to look at some exhibition while another was bending the ear of a nearby lecturer.

All my timings were based around allowing for herding. My nerves were frayed by the time the ceremony started. They continued to fray as we headed to our evening venue for a celebratory meal. My mother is officially the world’s slowest eater. It was painful to watch as each mouthful headed towards its destination, only to head back to the plate as she kept talking. Subtle reminders along the lines of “The next sitting will be due to be seated in x minutes” fell on deaf ears. In my head I was screaming “For the love of God, woman, just put the food in your mouth and stop talking!”.

Aaaaand breathe.

My daughter seemed to have a fabulous day from start to finish. The poor soul burst into tears midway through dinner, not because her gran was bending her ear on some random subject, but because it had just dawned on her that University life was over and she’d not see some of her friends again. I think the response to my Facebook post earlier in the day showed her that good friends do not disappear. The number of ‘likes’ from my university friends and friends from previous employments went some way to reassuring her that this is not the end, it’s the start of something new.

Today is the first day of what passes for normality in the Dean household. Both sets of parents are on their way home. My son and his girlfriend are off to house-sit for a friend. The party is over. The house is empty.

Boy am I tired and feeling very emotional. Music in the radio can set off floods of tears as can looking though yesterday’s photos. I guess I’m coming down from an epic high… ah well. Time to regain some balance.

Wishing you all a wonderful Friday Eve!

Blog Posts

Just as well it’s Monday…

Young hipster woman tired for work and nap on workplace .

… said few people, ever! I don’t think my body would cope with another wild weekend!

Strictly speaking, I haven’t actually uttered these words aloud, but they did wander across my mind. I blame the dawn chorus for waking me up at 4am! Who thinks rational thoughts at stupid o’clock in the morning? Not me for sure.

So what prompted this daft notion? In short, a weekend of living as if I were back in my student years. I’m not even remotely sorry, just a bit tired, and my liver may well be waving a white flag!

Mr D and I took advantage of an empty house, and empty neighbours house, to pretty much do what we fancied, when we fancied, accountable to nobody else. The glass recycling wheelie bin is full to the brim! The hot tub was used so much that I think I’m growing webbed feet! I certainly got my moneys worth out of my streamed music subscription, blasting out through the built-in speakers!

We stayed out late on purpose, making the most of the UK heat wave. To me, there is something special about the clear night sky in midsummer. It never seems to get completely dark, just a deep velvety blue, enhanced by moonlight and stars and the occasional bat!

All this decadent living has caught up with me today. I wish I had the stamina to keep up the wild lifestyle all week but I don’t. Instead I have the attention span of a gnat and my work-mojo has disappeared. I’d rather be outside pottering in my garden instead of looking at it from my office window.

Ah well. There’s always next weekend, but scaled down to accommodate the returning free-range adult kids!

Wishing you all a wonderful Monday.

Cath xx


Blog Posts

If only I had a camera!

Well I did. Our latest trip to the beach was so much fun with the tide full out. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved exploring the rock pools revealed at low tide. The beach we visit offers both caves and rock pools, only accessible once the tide has receded.

Exploration was further enhanced by the presence of Molly. At 18 months old, she’s now more bold than ever. Her first visit to the caves saw her scrambling over rocks, chasing thrown stones and barking at her own bark echoing in the cave chamber.

Meanwhile, I was busy exploring the nearby rock pools. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted moment in the seaweed, a crab. Armed with my GoPro, I plunged my hand into the pool, gently parted the weed and got a wonderful close-up of Mr Crab having a mid-afternoon morsel. I was captivated by the sight and unaware of my family having exited the caves until Cost Centre 1 (my daughter) dive bombed the rock pool. My peace was shattered.

Ah well. The stroll back to our beach tent involved throwing a tennis ball for Molly to fetch. It stops her from marauding the other defenceless dogs, minding their own business.

I was first back to the tent, Cost Centre 2 (my son) on my heels. He suggested I turn on the camera again and capture hubby, Cost Centre 1 and Molly playing with the ball.

CC1 was holding Molly on her lead and for some unknown reason, hubby threw the ball. Molly launched herself after it with such force, she yanked CC1 clean off her feet. Poor CC1 landed with an inelegant splat, face down in the sand, in clear view of the other beach visitors and the Life Guard look-out post.

CC2, giggling hysterically, said “You’d better have got all that on camera. That would make a brilliant video for “You’ve Been Framed” (UK tv show based on viewers footage). We didn’t find out the results until our return to the cottage and it’s WiFi service.

I have captured every frame! I haven’t decided whether to send it in or not. I may keep it as leverage!

One thing is for sure. I am really enjoying my birthday present.

Have a terrific Tuesday everyone xx