So Much to do, so Little Time!

It’s been a super busy time here.

More fixing of the broken tooth! Catching up with friends and family, sneaking in a few days of work in the South of France.

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Meanwhile, a friend of our sister in law, Andrew Rees, has just become the 1st deaf man to swim the channel. Raising money that will go towards helping deaf athletes to compete in the Deaflympics in 2017. Steve had heard of this event but Debs had to admit she was embarrassed to say had never heard of this until now. This guy really is inspirational and puts most of us to shame. Words cannot describe just how amazing this guy must be!

Deb spent the bank holiday doing her bit for the Bursledon regatta, making a costume out of a sheet and some feathers, volunteering and selling raffle tickets for the gallon of wine and whisky draw to ensure that the 150 year old regatta can continue. This is part of her family history, having a dad who was an apprentice in the boat yard over 60 years ago make her a true local to the area. She has spent many an hour covered in mud as a kid looking for hidden treasure from a bygone age of old sailing ships.

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This week saw Steve and Debs rushing around, Regatta one day, Isle of Wight the next day for Steve’s family gathering, then driving up for a stay over night at Gatwick to catch an early flight out to Marseille the next day. (We stayed in the bloc hotel, gets a thumbs up from us 👍)

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Fly back 4 days later for Steve’s Mum and Dads 50th wedding anniversary and the Milley famous garden marble run, with a drop of lovely English rain,Vodka and Gin jelly shots, garage bars and stuffing ourselves with cheese and pineapple sticks and sausage rolls made by our nieces and nephew.

Sunday was lunch with our friends Frankie and Jon the next day and of course not forgeting Clover the dog too..🐕

Then only 2hrs to pack for France and back on the road to Dover and on to the M25 car park!
Off to bed in a great little B&B minutes from the port with the loveliest of hosts and the best breakfast. (Ever need a quintessentially English B&B to stay whilst in Dover check these guys out. 299 London Rd Dover. Great price and so close to coming or going from the port! 🛏🛋🛀)

So here we are sitting on the ferry, prescription sunglasses for Deb, no… Debs Ralph Lauren glasses are still sat in the door pocket of the hire car in Marseille!!! And yes, there are words for this but not ones we shall type here!

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So off to call the car hire firm, hope someone realises that the designer glasses they pocketed from the valet of the hire car are prescription and that they can’t see through them, returns them, is Deb that lucky??? We shall see, no pun intended!
So off we go to get an email of Debs prescription from opticians and try to get a pair sent to the vineyard in France? Here’s hoping!

1st off the ferry and on route to our next stop in Champagne. 🍾🍾🍾🍾

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Treehouses and Viking Ships

Time to move on again to the Treehouse Hotel. Was it going to be as good as it looked on the TV, magazines and web sites?
After a slow drive in search of a big moose that we never found. There are only 400,000 moose in Sweden for us to find, should be easy they said? All we managed was a couple of juveniles and a bottle or two of beer!

We finally find ourselves at the Treehouse Hotel and walk into reception which turns out to be the cutest 1950s retro house filled with objects from a bygone era.

We check in and wander through a field of wildflowers into the woods and over to our home for the 1st night… Our super duper space ship! Much to Steve’s delight, the button is pressed, the lights come on and slowly down comes the ladder just like a sci-fi movie. Click here to view.

UFO’s have changed since Deb used to watch them as a kid, they now come with nespresso machines, comfy beds, mini bar and the most modern of campervan toilets.. The Cinderella! Incinerating all that comes near it, not sure how it works but it works very well!!

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Like a kid in a candy shop, Deb blows up the alien she remembered to pack, unlike the time in Area 51 when she completely forgot to take it after having made the effort to go buy one to take, then drives 3 hrs to realise she had left it in her suitcase in Vegas! She’s one crazy lady… Poor kids and hubby..
Then it’s time for dinner, back through the woods and then into mosquito land… Very handy, we left the mosquito repellent in the car! They seem to find Deb super tasty.. So off she went into the meadow doing the windmill action with her arms until she got to the restaurant..Well at least she gets a free shot or two of Swedish botox in the face, an eyelid and a couple of less wrinkles on her face until the bites go down.

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Dinner is a lovely home cooked meal of cheese pie, arctic char, brown bear and a raspberry tart all prepared by our host Britta, whilst there we meet Amy from New York who’s escaping the bustle of the New York life, shutting down the phone and Facebook to come get away from it all as Sweden is just the place to come chill!

1.Sami Flag

Day two at the tree house hotel and off we go! Time to go get lost again or should we say explore and we do! Finally after a 1hr journey turning in to 2hrs and a few reindeer traffic jams later, we reach Storforsen, a stretch of rapids over 5 km and one of the biggest in Europe. A beautiful place with a huge amount of water tumbling down from the Arctic circle, (average flow of 250 m3 per second) As it spills over the edges and runs into separate pools it creates a lovely picnic area for the locals. People are having barbecues and swimming in the pools amongst nature at its best and the sunshine.

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Next day we are off to the airport to fly down to Stockholm for a couple of days. Amy turns out to be on the same flight, so we share a supersaver ticket for 3 on the  Arlanda express straight in to the city.

2. Viking Ship Vasa Museum

Next morning we get up and go to visit the Vasa museum before the queues, Deb has wanted to do this since before she met Steve, so a big tick on the bucket list of life! Did we beat the queues, no not quite, is it worth it, Yes!

You really cannot believe that hundreds of years ago these guys built such a beast of a boat. What we did find out was just how small the vikings were, average of 5ft 5 inches. Yes Steve could have been a viking! So how did the Swedish men end up so tall?

So what have we learnt.

  • Midnight Sun
    Something you really need to see.
  • True Silence
    Something you need to experience.
  • Stockholm is pricey!
    Everything is so expensive, wine and beer are about double what you pay in London. You need to find yourselves the Systembolaget. These shops are government run and you can buy a host of wines and loads of Swedish beers at prices more like you would expect.
  • Must see in Stockholm.
    Vasa museum.
  • People.
    No one rushes over here, they have a nice pace and politely queue.
    To Steve and Debs disappointment Sweden was not full of perfect beautifully blonde people, we had a vision that it was a land full of them but it was just a country full of lots of normal people, give or take some seriously long legs.
  • Natural and Organic.
    It was so nice to see so much good quality produce, people living as they should, caring about the world around them and using eco friendly body washes etc.. Really wondered when in the wine shop (Systembolaget) how come they have loads of organic beers and wines at similar prices to what we pay in the UK for the same brand of non organic??? About 50% of there store was organically grown.
  • Satellite Navigation.
    As many roads are gravel tracks don’t expect satellite navigation to necessarily find your local villages. Download an offline map from Google!

Live Happy

Steve and Debs

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Lost in the BIG Forest

Here we are, in Lapland for the midnight sun.
So yes we over packed! Torch, why on earth did we pack this when in the midnight sun? Answers on a post card please as WiFi is not very avaliable here.

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When did we become so reliant on technology? Imagine a world without being able to Google everything from where you are going, to what you are going to do when you get there. Where’s the local shop, the petrol station?

Sweden has the answer! Talk to the people and get the best places to go or help when you’re lost!

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After an overnight stop in Lulea, night at a festival and our 1st experience of it being so light at 23:30, we head off in our hire car. (Which, we must say was a totally different experience to Greece) We went for the cheap one and ended up with a brand new Volvo V40, so off we go… Deb singing random ABBA tunes along the way and Steve doing impressions of the Swedish chef off the muppets.  OK, we know what you are thinking and we agree, what a pair of muppets they are!!!

We drive around and get closer to our floating shed, Huuva Hideaway watching for moose and reindeer but instead seeing hundreds of dark tree stumps with roots sticking out.. Then we see them, mummy and baby reindeer but we were so unprepared as we had pretty much given up! Snapping away, we manage a white fluffy reindeer bum as they move so fast..

So off the beaten track we go, up and up a gravel track until we have no idea where we are going, then it’s time to give in and ring our host and ask for help, we were so close but they came to meet us in their car and take us the last couple of kilometres. So we arrive at a cool little shed bobbing on a lake, so cozy and full of everything we need. In true Swedish style we have a log burning sauna/shower and a compost toilet.

20160717_084029Steve gets to do man things, fishing, building fires and Debs spends too much time photographing the same thing over and over again.

Out hosts have a restaurant up on a hill over looking the river and valley and Finland called Utblick. We decide to book a table and pop up the road to dinner, slight problem.. We get lost.. VERY LOST.. 1 hour later we find a man and ask the way to be told we are about 10 km out! What a sense of humor, he says , “You are in the big forest now, only restaurant around here is the one where you are the meal for the mosquitos” Kindly the guy says “follow me I’m going part of the way” and off we go.

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The meal was amazing and setting was just perfect. Henry is an amazing self taught chef who produces food up to the standard of some of the top chefs back in the UK. Sorry vegetarians, but out here Reindeer is on all the menus and is very yummy and we also had another local speciality, Kalix roe, which we shared as we weren’t so sure on what we were getting but turned out to be rather good too.

The people out in the North Sweden wilderness really understand how to live off the land and what is around them, we hear all about moose flower lemonade and sit sipping Lapland liqueur.
We spend some time with Pia and Henry and had a look around their lovely homestead, learning about life in North Sweden and Steve has a chat about food, hunting, fishing and chainsaws.

DSC03058Then off we head to Sorbyn to stay in a wooden hut near a lake. You can’t believe just how quiet it is. There is no white noise, no planes flying over your head, total peace! You can hear your own heart beat. Think this has been the best nights sleep ever had! Then you get to go exploring for animals, moose, reindeer, bears, beavers plus you can do so much fishing, hiking and canoing there too. The midnight sun will give you so many different displays and each day gives you a different show of hues, accents and cloud formations making you see nature in a new way. It’s a great place in the summer although so many people seem to only go for the winter for the aurora borealis and snow activities.

20160717_192132Off now to hop across to Finland and then go find the Arctic circle to jump over 😉

You will hear from us again next week, space ships and all!

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

Roaming Around Rhodes.

So week 2 in Greece and the weather is still super hot and the sea, so blue and clear. Can’t imagine what it’s like in August?

In fact it’s been so hot that Rhodes has had a forest fire. We heard about it from the locals but it wasn’t until we were driving around exploring and trying to avoid crazy kids on scooters and quad bikes that we really saw first hand the damage it had caused. It had torn through kilometers of forest, a village and the surrounding land and affected people’s lively hoods. The fire engine service were still patrolling.

So who have we met along the way?

Old Greek People.
They’re amazing, they have so much stamina and perseverance. In Symi old town and Chorio (pronounced Horio) where the real locals live, there are so many steps everywhere, no cars just oodles of steps and some very old buildings waiting to be rebuilt.
All day you see little old people wandering around the streets having visited the local shop, laden-ed with carrier bags of shopping struggling their way up the steps in 40◦+ heat. You stop to help them and they really appreciate the fact you offered to help but are so stubborn they won’t let you, they hold your hand and say óchi óchi (no,no) Crazy People! But this lovely little guy did let us help, not surprising really as we were struggling ourselves too.

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Lovely Little Ladies.

In the wine village of Emponas, next to the hotel were a couple of lovely old women who watched us walk back and forward to the village whilst sat outside their homes on little stools, they taught us our second set of Greek words, we have to say the 1st word we learnt was Yamas, Cheer!!

  • Good Morning – Kalimera
  • Good Afternoon – Kalispera
  • Good Night – Kalinihxta

Every day we waved and smiled at them saying the right phrase and they would chunter away speaking back to us in Greek and we would be left with no clue as to what they said but they liked the reply and we left them happy.

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A Guy Who’s Name We Don’t Remember.

This guy made the best homemade lemonade and work at a beautiful cafe hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Lindos call Rainbird. He also had the best sense of humour and was a great wasp batter! Orange or Lemon homemade cake anyone?

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Stergos Manolakas.

We have spoken about this guy before, we have met his parents, family friends from Austria and his little girl and even popped back to see him on our way back to the airport. We learnt a lot about the solar system and also spent some time asking him about the Greek economy. One of the kindest people we met on the island.

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The One Eyed Brothers.

Never judge a sign by its look! So we are in the middle of nowhere going somewhere and we come across a cafe sign, do we, don’t we.. Boys being boys they need feeding.. Lets go in we said. Cutest rustic cafe run by two brothers in their 70s . One only had one eye and was wearing a handkerchief on his head and the other was being followed by a group of over hungry cats. Man, this place had a lovely view over bright blue sea, was cheap, full of friendly locals and had hand cooked chips, the biggest plate full. Everyone was full of smiles and pleased to see us, more embarrassing these guys also spoke English to a degree.

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People You Don’t Want to Meet Again.

Rhodes Rogue Restaurant Men.

Then you get the opposite end of the scale, the horrific greedy guys trying to rip the tourists off and giving a bad name to others. Please people, watch yourselves in Rhodes Old Town main square, restaurants pitch their lovely roof top terraces and when you get up there you realise that the people you saw there have vanished and the drinks are still on the tables and then you ask to look at the menu before you order anything to find that they want to charge €5 for a coke!! Be brave and just tell them it’s too expensive, walk away and don’t feel guilty as hard as they try to push you back in! Go to the restaurants sitting just inside the city wall.

Dodgy Donkey Men of Lindos.

Title says it all! Poor little donkeys, not something we would do but we did see way too many tourists hand over €5 to be sat on a donkey and rushed and we REALLY DO MEAN rushed up a hill to the Lindos Acropolis by a load of very abusive men hitting the donkeys to go faster and even if the tourists were scared they wouldn’t slow down, then shouting something in Greek to any pedestrians in the way, don’t even want to think what this was!

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Off to make homemade pita breads 🙂

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

 

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