Rocking around Nottingham

My youngest son is a metal head and a couple of weekends ago he had a ticket for the Download festival at Donnington Park in the East Midlands. He’s been going regularly for a few years now, but the first year he went he was under 18 and needed an adult to accompany him. Unfortunately for me, I was that adult and had to hang around in the cold and rain and ended the day having some freaks on stage in masks shouting, screaming and swearing at me (Slipnot).

So this time as Jake is old enough to enjoy all that death metal fun all by himself I just dropped him off and booked myself into a Travelodge in nearby Loughborough. But I couldn’t check in until 3pm so I made my way to Nottingham as I hadn’t visited there since I was a young girl. I decided to head straight for the castle as really that was the only part of Nottingham I could remember.

The first thing to say about the castle is it’s not actually a castle anymore, it’s a 17th century mansion and the only remaining part of the original castle is part of the main gate. After a wander around the house and the various exhibitions on the history of the site, I went on the guided tour of the sandstone caves that the original castle and now the mansion is built on.

The caves and castle date back to Norman times when they built a fort on top of the sandstone crop in 1067 after the conquest. Before the French invaded the city was known as Snottingham after the Saxon Cheftan named Snot, luckily for the town the French couldn’t pronounce “sn” so from the conquest onwards the place was renamed Nottingham.

The castle saw lots of historical action, one of the most famous incidents is the imprisonment of the “great traitor” Roger Mortimer. He murdered King Edward II helped by Queen Isabella by sticking a white hot poker up where a white hot poker really shouldn’t go! They went on to rule together for a while because Edward III was too young to rule alone, but eventually he was arrested and charged with high treason and imprisoned in the castle. He was later executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.

The castle also played an important part in the English civil war, King Charles I raised his standard just outside the castle gates to gather support for his cause. But after a few years of fighting and Charles lost everything from the neck up, the parliamentary council ordered the castle to be destroyed.

The cave tour is well worth going on, the guide is very knowledgeable and entertaining. A word of warning though, the steps going up and down are uneven, they were designed deliberately like that to slow down advancing invading troops in the dark. So care is needed when descending especially when it’s been raining as it can be very slippery underfoot.

The only downside to my visit were the monstrous parking fees at the castle and near the Travelodge. There was no parking at all at the hotel and I forked out a small fortune on parking in the nearby council car park as there was nowhere else.

The beautiful game

Last Sunday afternoon I couldn’t find anything new to watch on TV so I ended up watching “Escape to Victory” even though I’d seen it many times before.

The those of you not familiar with the film, it’s about a prisoner of war camp in occupied France during the 2nd world war, the prisoners form a team to play against an all German squad. The plan is for the French resistance to help them escape at half time, but during the first half despite the Germans playing dirty the allied team are holding their own and want to continue playing to try and win the game instead of escaping. Most of the allied team is made up from professional footballers such as the great Pele from Brazil, our very own Bobby Moore, Ozzy Ardiles from Argentina, Co Prins from Holland, John Wark from Scotland, Soren Lindsted from Denmark, Kevin O’Callaghan from Ireland, Hallavar Thoresen from Norway, Mike Summerbee from England, Paul van Himst from Belgium and Kazimierz Deyna from Poland. Also in the team are Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone.

I think it’s such an uplifting film about working as a team against adversity and against the odds, to choose to carry on playing instead of escaping.

In my humble opinion the England football squad should watch this film again and again until they understand the concept of playing for the love of the game and for the honour of representing their country and not for the obscene amount of money they are paid.


The story so far

I’ve had my weekly weigh-in at fat club and I’ve lost 4 and a half pounds in my first week.

I must say I’ve found following the Weight Watchers diet very easy so far and I wish I’d done it earlier.

Lets hope it all continues to go well and I don’t get despondent and give up.

Fat be gone

Due to being ill and being inactive as a result of my illness I’ve become a bit too lardy for my liking. I have always tried to eat healthily but I must be doing something wrong as I’m much bigger than I want to be.

So I’ve joined Weight watchers and now everything I eat will have a point value. It all looks pretty straight forward and our group leader says we are guaranteed to lose weight if we follow the rules.

So the first thing I did when I got home from the ritual weigh-in was to set up my “fat journal”, in it I wrote all the food I usually eat and worked out how many points I would normally eat. I am allowed 26 points a day, which doesn’t sound like much but it’s actually quite a lot of food according to my Weight watchers bible.

Also in my fat destroying action plan is to become more active, I know I wrote about this in the blog a little while ago, but I just haven’t got round to it yet. As well as ballet classes, I have also found jazz dance and tap dance classes that look promising, the first step is to get off my bum and do it.  I want to see how I get on with working before I completely wear myself by adding in exercise.

I will keep the blog posted with my progress at the weekly weigh-in.

……..and what do you say?

I was watching “This morning” yesterday and Gino D’acampo was cooking with Holly and Phil. Holly was making a point of reminding Gino to say please when he asked her to chop something or put something in the pan to cook. It got me wondering about manners and how important they are to us Brits and are they as important to other cultures.

Like many people in this country I was brought up to say please and thank you all the time and manners are very important to me. When I first met Hasan and started living with him I did get annoyed with him when he didn’t say please or thank you, it just didn’t occur to him to do so. Obviously there are words in Turkish for please and thank you but I rarely heard them in the same context as we use them. Teşekkür ederim  means thank you and is used to reply to someone asking about someones well being, response to a compliment, but not when being given something like a drink etc;  lütfen is the word for please and I hardly ever heard that uttered in all the time I spent in Turkey.

Hasan and I used to argue about it quite often because without saying please it felt like he was just barking orders at me and I really didn’t like it. Also it really bugged me when I made him a cup of tea or gave him something and he never said thank you. It only took a short while for him to see the light and he quickly caught on that if he wanted an easy life he should remember his manners.

So after watching Gino being prompted several times by Holly on the show I’m thinking maybe it’s the same in Italian culture.

Licenced to cure………..well almost

Well I’ve survived the first 2 days of the Return to Nurse practice course. On Thursday armed with my new stationary I made my way to the University of the West of England, (UWE). There are 28 of us on the course from 5 specialisms of nursing; children’s (me and 2 others), adult, health visiting, mental health and learning disabilities with many different reasons for letting our registrations lapse.

The first day was full on and intense and most of us lost the will to live once we got to the library tour in the afternoon. But at the end of that day for our last session 3 nurses who had just finished the course came and spoke to us about their experiences, that was very useful and they answered many questions from lots of nervous newbies.

Day 1 couldn’t have been that traumatic as we all turned up for day 2. The second day was just as hard going as the first, being bombarded with so much information I thought my brain might explode. But I’m in no doubt now what is expected of me on this course; an 80% pass rate on a maths test, a 2000 word reflective assignment, at least 100 hours of nurse practice and competences to be met. When it’s written out like that it doesn’t seem much to achieve, but at the moment it seems like a huge mountain to climb.

I’m sure after a couple of good nights sleep I’ll be ready to pick up my mammoth pile of paperwork and make sense of it all and crack on with the task in hand.

It’s that time again

This month I received the dreaded questionnaire from Atos Medical Services. They assess people that receive ESA, (Employment and Support Allowance), previously known as Incapacity Benefit. It became ESA past year and like many people receiving the benefit I had to be assessed to migrate from the old scheme to the new.

Unfortunately CFS, (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), isn’t taken too seriously by Atos and a lot of sufferers don’t fare very well and are told that they are fit to work and have their money stopped. Luckily for me last year at the time of my assessment I had suffered from Pericarditis and Myocarditis which was bad enough, but made my CFS symptoms much worse. I was also very fortunate to have a very understanding nurse assessing me who understood CFS and the impact it has on a sufferers life.

This year circumstances are different, I am starting to feel a bit better and looking to start trying to rejoin the workforce. But I’m not ready to fully support myself by working yet. I still need support while I do the Return to Nurse Practice course at university as I have to work at least 120 hours without pay. But how do I get that across on a questionnaire that asks me if I can raise my arms above my head or reach up to put something in my top pocket! The questions are so specific and they don’t allow you to fully explain how your condition affects your daily life.

I firmly believe that I have started to recover by not concentrating on my symptoms and how they affect me. But to secure my benefit for a little while longer to help me through the course and then finding a job, I have to do just that.

So I decided the best thing to do is go and see an ESA advisor at the jobcentre and explain the situation and hope that they understand my situation.

Wish me luck!


Long to reign over us

What a fabulous Jubilee we have had in our country. To celebrate 60 years of the reign of our wonderful queen, Great Britain came out to party on a massive scale proving why we are called ‘Great’.

I must admit I was a bit of a boring old fart and stayed in to watch it on TV. I was going to go down to Millennium Square in Bristol to watch the concert on Monday night on the big screen, but alas the lure of the sofa in the warm won me over. But I did make an effort on Friday evening with my brownie and rainbow guide units and had a jubilee tea party and I decorated the outside of my house with some flags and bunting.

I thought Her Majesty looked amazing all through the celebrations, so serene and beautiful even in the appalling rain on the barge on Sunday.

A few things puzzled me, however, about the concert; who invited Grace Jones to hula hoop and why Cheryl Cole was allowed to ruin Gary Barlow’s performance with her dreadful singing. But the song Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow wrote for the occasion was fantastic and so moving, as was Prince Charles’s speech for his “mummy”. Overall the concert was great and the fireworks at the end were spectacular.

Sunday’s festivities were marred by the Duke of Edinburgh being taken ill, but the Queen looked  elegant and lovely again for the thanksgiving service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but I felt she looked a bit lost without him at times.  The celebrations concluded with the Queen’s procession and the balcony appearance. No one does pomp and pageantry as well as us Brits and it was fabulous, union flags everywhere, horses and carriages, bands and cheering crowds. After the orderly surge of 1000’s of people down the Mall, the main members of the royal family appeared on the balcony and none of the annoying minor, hanger on members that no one wants to see. Although it was cloudy and raining the very impressive fly past took place.

The massive 3 cheers from the crowd and the singing of the National Anthem for the umpteenth time signalled the end of the balcony appearance and I think Britain should be proud of the way we celebrated over the 4 day holiday. I believe the Queen was genuinely moved by the response of her people on this very special occasion and achievement.

A grand day out

Usually Hasan and I will visit his parents together mostly because I need an interpreter as I can’t usually understand one syllable my in laws say. But I needed to drive from Marmaris to Kuşadası to deliver some belongings for a friend who was going there on holiday. After visiting some friends, dropping off the stuff and an overnight stay, I made my way on the long drive back to Marmaris.

Halfway home is Akçeşme  Village, the seat of my in laws and where my husband grew up. It’s a small village with 150 houses about 3km from the main road. There is not much in the village but houses, a couple of little grocery shops and a tea shop where my father in law was keeping watch for me. After he jumped in the car we made our way around to the house.

I must admit I was dreading it a bit because of the language barrier and because the other villagers have a tendency to come and stare at the foreigner. But I must say this time I had a very pleasant visit. We talked as much as my Turkish knowledge and her village accent/slang allowed and she made me some dinner. She made some lovely Turkish food; Gazatma- a dish of fried peppers, potatoes and aubergines topped with garlic yogurt and cooked tomatoes, and Sarma- vine leaves wrapped around a rice mixture, with some salad and chips….yum!

Another reason for the lovely visit, they are looking after our dog, Dab, so I had a bit of a play with him, drank some tea and bid them all farewell and set off for Marmaris.

I will definitely visit on my own again, it wasn’t nearly as bad as my mind was making it out to be.



Working to a deadline

A little while ago in the middle of Marmaris town centre there was a Tansas supermarket, it was knocked down and the ground levelled.

When I was there in March work was underway building a new park to commemorate the 19 Mayis Genclik Bayram. This young person and sport national day was created to celebrate Kemal Ataturk’s landing at Samsun on 19th May 1919 thus beginning the Turkish war of independence from the Ottomans.

On my return mid May the work was still ongoing and they clearly wanted to get the park finished by the 19th of May because even though the weather was nasty for the 2 days and nights before, workers toiled non stop in the driving rain and wind. The park was opened on the celebration day and although there was a bit of finishing off to do, the overall effect was lovely.

The park has a beautiful fountain similar to the Bellagio  fountain in Las Vegas but on a smaller scale, a waterfall with a lovely mermaid statue and wide open space for playing and relaxing. I think once it’s finished off properly it will be fabulous.