Lost in France

Three years ago my good friend Annette gave me the most amazing present for my 50th birthday. In that year to celebrate becoming half a century I planned to do 50 fabulous things and this present certainly added to that fabulousness.

Annette gave me the use of her gite in the Dordogne area of France for the week and I took along 2 of my besties Bev and Deb. See what we got up to by reading this There and back again

Nestled in the heart of the Foret de la Double in the beautiful Hamlet of Chadenne are not just the one but now three gites owned by my fabulous friend. Since our visit Annette has been very busy renovating the 2 empty buildings that were next door to our gite.

In addition to Cepe, our home for the week, a 2 bedroomed perfectly formed beauty that sleeps 4, there’s Sanglier and Cert. Both have 3 bedrooms and sleep 6. All decorated to a very high and tasteful standard.

All three gites have their own private terraces and use of the communal outdoor swimming pool.

Please take a look at their website to see for yourself the wonderful photos and find all the information you need about the area and activities.

As I said in my original post, Annette is the most amazing host and as a guest you feel so welcomed in every way.

I am definitely planning another trip as there is so much more to see and do, also I really want to see the new gites and garden because Annette and her husband Peter has worked so hard to this all happen.

Fabulously Festive End

I have come to the end of my posts about my Fabulous at 50 year 2017. I have not written about every single event as I didn’t want to bore my readers senseless and also I managed to do 67 instead of the intended 50.

To finish off my very busy year my last few fabulous things were blessed by the Christmas fairies…….

My nieces and I decided to take part in the Santa run in Bristol Harbourside to raise money for Children’s Hospice Southwest. If it wasn’t festive enough running through the streets with a load of other Santas, we even had snow!

team gardiner girls santa run

For the first time in quite a few years we had a hospital ball. The Women’s and Children’s directorate of our trust gathered at the Passenger Shed of Brunel’s Temple Meads Station for a “Fairy Tale in New York” themed extravaganza. It was a fabulous night filled with bubbles, entertainment, dancing and lots of snow.

Just before Christmas 5 crazy friends gathered for a house party full of festive food, fizz and laughter.

Unfortunately son number one, Scott, had to work Christmas Day so a visit to Winchester was needed to deliver pressies and have a mooch around the Christmas market.

scott christmas

The main event was spent with the rest of my fabulous familam.

I had the amazing year celebrating reaching my half century and I’m so happy I decided to do 50 fabulous things instead of having a big party. I’ve had so much fun enjoying spending time with all my family and friends, parties, cocktails, going on jollies, visiting new places and doing slightly daft stuff.

Thank you to all my fellow fabulous thing partners in crime, you have truly made my birthday year unforgettable. I love you all



Many Fabulous Happy Returns

My fabulous at 50 year couldn’t have been such a success without my wonderful friends and family, so every birthday event was a fabulous thing.


Scott's birthday

Son number one (Scott) and Natasha (niece)

tart bday

The bestie tart (Jane B)

Janey's birthday

Bestest bestie Janey

deb's birthday

Bestie Flossy (Deb)

mum and hannah bday

Mum and Hannah (niece)

sally's birthday

Bestie Sally

donna bday


caz road trip

road trip for Caron

Karen bday

Party for Karen

mark bday

Weekend away for Mark (bruv)

arr deb bday

Arr Deb

arr selena bday

Arr Selena

kate bday

Bestie Kate

bevvy bday

Bestie Bevvy

jake's birthday breakfast

Brunch for son number two (Jake)

dawn's birthday

At the Ivy for Dawny

george's birthday

Cocktails for bestie George

shaz bday

Sis in Law Shazzer

Keeping in the familam

I always enjoy spending time with my family and many of my adventures in 50th fabulousness has involved my immediate kin. Some of which might not look like much to some people but very fabulous to me….

beauty and the beast with boys

Watching the live action Beauty and the Beast with my lovely lads Scott and Jake

coffee with neices

Coffee and cake with my beautiful nieces and my mum

One of the problems with a busy life and geography is that I don’t always see much of my extended family. So when my cousin Amelia messaged me to say that she was in Bristol with her family, I jumped at the chance of meeting up. In town to watch something at the Hippodrome they had the best part of the day to kill before they headed off to Weston Super Mare. So we had a spot of lunch and a ferry boat ride around the Bristol Docks. It was a fabulous day because we hadn’t seen each other for quite a few years and I finally got to meet her lovely daughter Sophia, and plans were made for me to camp out at their house for my volunteering stint at the Athletics World Championships. For which I am eternally grateful.

bristol day out with the athendriou's

Once Sophia heard all about my nieces she was desperate to meet them so of course another fabulous event needed to be planned. So later on in the year the “Family Diners” group was born. Amelia and Sophia accompanied by my uncle Peter and aunty Robbie came down to Bristol for a round of crazy golf, coffee and lunch, with the rest of the Bristol clan.

We all decided that life was too short not to do it all again so the Family Diners club reconvened at Chez Amelia/Ged/Sophia in Reading for a weekend after Christmas, not technically in my birthday year but fabulous all the same. We had the most amazing and relaxing time catching up on lost time and resolving to keep making an effort to continue getting together, hoping to include the rest of the extended family.


All the world’s a stage

We are so lucky in Bristol to have an amazing theatre, the Hippodrome right in the city centre is the place to go to see a fantastic performance. Since opening in 1912 it has played host to many big names and productions. With it’s seating capacity of nearly 2000 the atmosphere during the shows are nearly always electric.

As I’ve written before in this blog I’m a massive fan of ballet, so when I saw that Romeo and Juliet was coming to Bristol I knew that it would be a fabulous thing. It was also my favourite production choreographed by the late Rudolph Nureyev, I first saw it in Bristol about 20 years ago and loved it.

My fellow ballet lovers were my mum and Phoebe, (Jane B’s daughter). We had the most fabulous time and the ballet was wonderful.

romeo and juliet

Another fabulous event at the Hippodrome was the Lord of the Dance; Dangerous Games, with mum and Deb. I’ve always loved watching Irish dancing and I found the performance incredibly moving.

lord of the dance

I’ve always wanted to learn how to Irish dance but never found an adult class. But this year my dream came true when the local Irish school of dance started offering classes. The Quinn School of  Irish dance is a very successful school that has been teaching children in Bristol for many years. Stacey, it’s founder, is a fantastic teacher and I’m having the best time, even though it is so exhausting.



Just because days

Since suffering from, then recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome I have learnt to see the beauty in the smallest of things and take advantage of every opportunity.  “Make each occasion fabulous” was my mantra for my 50th year, along with “what’s the worst that can happen”, (which is always my mantra).

So some of my fabulous things may not seem like much to some people but to me they were because they involved spending time with good friends and family. Here are a few spur of the moment occasions that fall into the category of just because.


afternoon tea with the wrinklies

Fabulous afternoon tea with my mum, Jane and her dad in Charlotte’s tea rooms

atomic burger

Post Beauty and the Beast lunch in the very cool Atomic Diner with Abby, Hannah, Natasha and mum

brunch with bonnie

Brunch with Lizzy and Sarah to meet the lovely Bonnie (the dog)


Breakfast with bestest bestie Jane at Carriages restaurant in Tickenham




celebration lunch

Lunch to celebrate both my sons finding jobs after a lot of determination and hard work

Playing dress up

I’ve always had a propensity for dressing up, any sniff of a fancy dress occasion and I’m first in the queue.

As my formative years were in the 1980’s, a tribute night to the decade fashion forgot is always going to be a fabulous dressing up event.

So along with bestie Tart aka Jane. B I headed to the Fleece and Firkin for a Club Tropicana 80’s extravaganza and as an added bonus we discovered our friend Alison. The night didn’t start until 11 and was going on till 4 am, as our combined age is well over 140 we didn’t think we would last that long. But we danced the night away to all the classics from Wham, David Bowie, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and much more.


Halloween gave me another opportunity to morph into a witch, the last fabulous time was the Harry Potter pub crawl as Bellatrix. It was the Motown tribute night up the local club, unfortunately not everyone in the group got the memo about dressing up. But that didn’t kerb mine and fellow witches, Bev and Deb’s, enthusiasm, we had a fabulous time bobbing away to some amazing tunes.



Culture Vultures

I have always been interested in ancient history and my oldest son, Scott, shares my love for all things Greek, Roman and Egypt. I couldn’t believe that I’d got to my 50th year without seeing the Rosetta Stone and all the other ancient goodies housed in the Museum. So obviously a jolly to the British Museum would be a fabulous thing to do.

Scott, however, knew the museum like the back of his hand so was an excellent guide and we whizzed around seeing everything on my list.

The great thing about the day was the weather allowing us to ditch the underground, walk everywhere and take in all the sights that I usually miss while sat on a train. The only downside was dodging the demon geese in St. James Park who looked like they were plotting our deaths!


Along with most of the population I was obsessed with Downton Abbey and watched every episode….several times. As soon as I started planning my fabulous at 50 year I knew I would have to visit Highclere Castle

The seat of the Carnarvon family for many years, the castle and grounds are beautiful and well worth a visit even for non Downton Abbey fans. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon, along with Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 so within the bowels of the castle there is an impressive Egyptian exhibition.

My mum and I had a fabulous day exploring where one of our favourite period dramas was filmed and of course we spent a small fortune in the gift shop on stuff we really didn’t need.

downton abbey

Paying tribute to local talent

On the last Saturday of every month Bedminster Down ex servicemen’s club is the place to be….if you want to see a tribute act.

Every night was a fabulous thing and once the torture of the bingo was over we were entertained by the likes of Totally Take That, Motown, Madonna and many more.

But my favourite tribute act by far is Retro Electro, these local Bristol lads are fantastic and have played at the club a few times. Their repertoire includes hits from all the 80’s electric super groups such as Ultravox, New Order, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and much more. They are incredibly talented and entertaining, always putting on a great show so I can dance all night with my buddies.

Another local talent that featured heavily in my fabulous 50th year is John Prescott, (no not the politician!). I went to see John when he supported “The Other Guys” at the Redgrave theatre, the Summer Song book with the Clevedon Light Opera Club and the annual “Swing into Christmas”.

But the most fabulous night was at my surprise birthday party. I had won the golden ticket at John’s 2016 Christmas special, which entitled me to a 45 minutes performance at a time and venue of my choosing. But while I was trying to plan when I was going to redeem my prize my bestest bestie, Jane, was already plotting my surprise party and had booked John to sing. It really was the icing on the cake and we had much longer than 45 minutes, spilling out into the pub garden and dancing the night away.

carole and john

I promise to do my best

It was quite a busy year for me and my guiding family so I decided all the events were going to be fabulous….

sponsored walk

Brownie and Rainbow sponsored walk from the Water Tower to Bristol Suspension Bridge and back again. In aid of the Grand Appeal to provide funds to improve the decoration on ward 34 in Bristol Children’s Hospital


Brownie day out to Legoland Windsor

guiders beauty and the beast

Special guiding screening of Beauty and the Beast

rainbow birthday ball

The Rainbow Princess Ball at Badminton School to celebrate the 30th birthday of the rainbow guides


and of course guiding stays with us forever even when someone leaves guiding, so we had a fabulous reunion of old Ranger guides at the local pub and reminisced about the good old days

ranger reunion

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