The World According to Izzie

Mum of twin daughters - nothing else scares me

Monday, 27 April 2015

Could It Be Magic?

I blame Lara, aka Plucky for the hilarious events in the Anderton house a few weeks ago. It was a random tweet about Barry Manilow that started it...

Daughter Sophia, home for the Easter holidays caught me giggling at Twitter. This is not an unusual occurrence. My daughter does not get Twitter and suspects that her mother is secretly losing her marbles. How can random conversations of 140 characters (or less) cause so much hilarity? After explaining the Barry Manilow conversation, she said, 'Who is he anyway?' It turned out that my daughter had never heard of him. As I'd downed a couple of glasses of wine I offered to enlighten her, loaded YouTube and shared 'Copacabana.' It's best I don't elaborate on her response - it went something like this... 'Any chance you could turn that off?'

Undeterred and amused by her reaction I ignored her request and allowed 'Copacabana' to finish before playing 'Could It Be Magic.' Puzzled as to how I knew the lyrics to both songs, I found myself singing along with enthusiasm. I don't recall playing the tracks (ever) and concluded only, that I must have heard them on the radio (a lot) during my childhood. Obviously I was a lot younger back then and had the spare brain capacity to absorb such things. By the time I'd loaded 'Mandy,' my daughter had left the room muttering, 'Seriously Mum, grow up. This isn't funny.' I can only blame the wine.

The previous week she'd caught me tweeting during Eurovision's Greatest Hits on BBC1. Hosted by Graham Norton and Petra Mede, it celebrated 60 years of the infamous song contest and showcased memorable performers throughout its history. There was also a singalong, and Twitter was alive with witty observations as I reminisced with complete strangers and had a brilliant evening. Can't wait for Eurovision now - May 23rd if you're interested. I'll probably be tweeting again.

As my daughters are often listening to their iPods or flicking through the music channels, I wonder if the next generation is missing out on fabulous music from years gone by? During my childhood the music channels had yet to be invented - which is perhaps just as well as I'd have spent even more time parked in front of the TV pretending to do homework. We didn't even have Internet! To this day I listen to a varied playlist and conclude that it's only from listening to anything and everything that I've learnt to appreciate so much of it.

For anyone who feels the need to play 'Copacabana,' here's a link from YouTube:

And finally...

Congratulations to Barry Manilow on his wedding to partner, Garry Kief last year. Wishing you both a long and happy marriage.

Thank you to the awesome Plucky for the inspiration behind this post.

And apologies to my daughter and the neighbours for the singing.

Until next time...

 Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 24 April 2015

After they've gone...

After the girls left home and went to university I imagined that life would reinvent itself and I'd soon find a new niche after nineteen years of mayhem. I soon discovered that you'll always be mum and that this new phase of parenting involves sorting out issues from a distance. Just this week Olivia has asked me to proof-read several essays, while Sophia requested that I stay in for the entire day and wait for an urgent delivery - Grrr! It's as though they have staff - only we live so far away from one another.

As to when my daughters will make an appearance at home for the summer - I have no idea. All I know is that we're heading down south to move Olivia into new accommodation at the beginning of July. Who knows if and when we'll be called upon in the meantime?

Here's what happens when they've left...

1. You sell their extensive collection of Harry Potter Lego on Ebay and immediately feel terrible for packing up their childhood and letting it go.

2. They arrive home again for the holidays with mounds of washing and the chaos starts all over again. It's a shock to the system as you appear to have unlearnt the art of sharing a home with your offspring.

3. You send occasional goodie bags and treats because life at uni (although brilliant) isn't as luxurious as it is at home.

4. They are in your thoughts every day even if you don't hear from them. They lead busy lives and it's good that they're learning to fend for themselves. You still miss them (a lot).

5.  Now that they're older they behave like grown-ups (most of the time). For some reason you find this mildly amusing. This doesn't amuse them in the slightest however, and it's best to keep this thought to yourself.

6. They arrive home and leave again without packing something that's essential. Think memory sticks, passports, house keys, underwear, coursework and books!

7. You're terrified by the prospect of your offspring returning home for good at the end of their course. I'm guessing this is normal? Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

8. The cat is perpetually confused. She just gets used to having her 'sisters' home and making the most of their company, only for them to leave again. You cannot explain these things to a cat.

9. You spend a lot of time thinking, 'What next?' and 'What was that all about then?' as you try to make sense of the mayhem that was family life.

10. By the time they head back to uni, you've sussed what it means to be mum all over again, but feel as though you could do with a holiday as you're completely exhausted.

Whatever you have planned for the summer here's hoping you're a lot more organised than me. Here's to making the most of everything whatever happens x

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 20 April 2015

A Day in Ludlow

On Saturday the weather was perfect for exploring and we decided to head to Ludlow for the day. This is one of my preferred local haunts and somewhere I go back to time and time again.

Recently Ludlow made it into the Sunday Times top 50 list of Best places to live in Britain - it's not hard to see why. Ludlow is a vibrant market town, surrounded by beautiful countryside and has a great reputation for fine food, entertainment and events.

Ludlow Castle
Construction of the castle started around 1085. During the next 200 years there were many additions and  examples of architecture from the Norman, Medieval and Tudor periods can be seen. Ludlow Castle was an important fortification along the Welsh Marches and played significant roles in the War of the Roses and the English Civil War. It's well worth a visit if you haven't been before.

Don't miss the iconic Feather's Hotel. Built in 1619 by local lawyer, Rees Jones - it's a Tudor-style, half-timbered building which has been Grade 1 listed since 1954. It's also reported to be haunted!

Next, it was off to The Silver Pear which is my favourite shop in the whole of Ludlow. Opened in 1999, they sell contemporary home accessories, jewellery, children's toys and designer handbags. It's the perfect place to pick up an unusual gift for someone who's difficult to buy for.

Established in the summer of 2014, the Harp Lane Deli sits right in the heart of the town. They sell a selection of delicious products - some locally sourced and some from further afield. They also have an entire wall dedicated to cheese. They serve  coffee and scrummy Portuguese custard tarts (made fresh every morning on the premises).  

Small, but perfectly formed is The Fish House - a fishmongers shop with seating for only a dozen guests around four upturned barrels as tables. The menu includes oysters, dressed crab, smoked salmon plates and  daily specials. They are also fully licenced so you can enjoy a glass of wine (or two).   

And it's a tradition for us to pop into De Grey's Cafe and buy a couple of their delicious cakes to take home and devour with a pot of tea. Having re-opened last year, my only gripe was that they no longer sell Florentines (something I've tried and failed to make at home on several occasions).

Sadly, we didn't have room left for anything else after a day of foraging, but I was so impressed with the outside of the Dali Tea Room that I added it to my list of places to visit next time around.

We spotted a super-talented busker making the most of the gorgeous weather on this sunny Saturday afternoon. He was only too happy for me to take a picture...

Taking a stroll down towards Whitcliffe Common, we spotted an amazing view of the castle from its imposing position overlooking the River Teme.

And finally, here's a photo of the river...

There are lots more fabulous shops, restaurants and delicatessens available and Ludlow is a great place to spend the day if you're ever in Shropshire.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Majorelle Gardens

Back in the summer of 2013, we travelled to Morocco for a family holiday. During our time here, we visited the Majorelle Gardens - to this day it's number one on my list of things to see in Marrakech.

Located in the Gueliz district, the Majorelle Gardens offer peace and tranqulity amidst the hubbub of this vibrant city. When the souks and the crowds and the dust overwhelm you - find a little solitude in this serene garden away from the chaos. Surrounded by high earthen walls - the gardens are a majestic labyrinth of pools, architectural-inspired planting and shady spots to relax and unwind in the all-encompassing heat. 

Reflections in a pool
Originally laid out by the artist, Jacques Majorelle when Morocco was still a French colony, the gardens took over forty years to create. During this time, Majorelle continued to add new varieties of plants from all five continents to create a 'cathedral of shapes and colours.' He was forced to open the gardens to the public in 1947 due to spiralling costs.

Following the death of Majorelle in 1962, the gardens remained open to the public but fell into disrepair. Purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980, the gardens were saved from becoming a hotel complex and fully restored respecting Majorelle's original vision. 

The gardens feature a bamboo forest, Mediterranean oasis and a cactus garden.

The cobalt (Majorelle) blue and vibrant yellow buildings provide the perfect backdrop to the lush green of the gardens.

We stopped at the Café Bousafsaf to replenish much-needed water supplies. Sadly, it was too expensive to warrant further purchases, I have a suspicion that everyone else was thinking the same as the place was deserted.

We loved the striking combination of blue, yellow and orange pots along the walkway.

Here, you'll also find the Galerie Love - a collection of posters designed by Yves Saint Laurent. Starting in the 1970s, these were sent as New Year greetings to friends and clients.

Following his death  in 2008, Yves Saint Laurent's ashes were sprinkled in the rose garden of the Villa Oasis and a memorial built in the Majorelle Gardens.

If you're ever in Marrakech and thinking of paying a visit, I'd recommend going early in the morning or late afternoon as it's a popular tourist haunt and can become crowded.

My daughters making the most of the shade

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Wine Tasting for Beginners...

Back in February I was lucky enough to win six bottles of Furlan Prosecco from Just Perfect Wines in association with Glass of Bubbly magazine.

I promised to share the wine with my daughters and managed to leave five bottles abandoned in the wine rack for a number of weeks while I eagerly awaited their return from university. For those of you who are astute, you'll have noticed I said five and not six - I may have consumed a bottle on my birthday and not felt bad about it. Life at home with grown-up daughters who are partial to the odd glass bottle of wine can be infuriating as it means that the wine rack is emptied in no time at all.

I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about wine. During the past few years I've developed a preference for Prosecco over Champagne as I find it a cheaper and lighter alternative. I usually buy a bottle (or two) if there's anything to celebrate and it's interesting that sales of Prosecco have overtaken Champagne since 2013.

My only experience of actual wine tasting was a Twitter party with Mumsnet in association with Knackered Mother's Wine Club and a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet. Obviously breaking the first rule of Twitter, 'Don't Tweet after wine.' Somehow amidst the chaos I managed to find the only other Picpoul drinker and between us we came up with similar tasting notes - hints of lemon and rather delicious if memory serves.

Although I wasn't asked to write a post about my prize - I thought it would be a nice gesture as a) I absolutely love wine and b) isn't blogging all about sharing what you love?

I received two bottles of each of the following wines - which gave the three of us the perfect opportunity to celebrate over the Easter holidays.

The Furlan Winery
Founded in 1930 by Nonno Amado. Today, it's run by Nonno's grandchildren: Amedeo, Alberto and Moreno and is a modern and innovative winery producing a range of wines with a unique flavour and fine aroma.

1. Furlan Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry - 2013 (11.5%)
Made from 85% Glera (Prosecco grape) and 15% Chardonnay, the Millesimato is pale straw in colour and is fresh and crisp with hints of green apple.

2. Furlan Conegliano Valdobbiane D.O.C.G Prosecco Frizzante Extra Dry - 2013 (11%)
Made from 100% Glera grapes, the Frizzante is aromatic and fruity with hints of green apple and scents of acacia blossom and wisteria.

3.Furlan Spumante Rosé - 2013 (12%)
Despite being made with 70% Glera, 27% Menzoni Bianco and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon (for colour), Prosecco is made from a white grape and current Italian law will not allow a Prosecco blend of the two colours of grape - hence this cannot technically be called Prosecco. Pale salmon pink with hints of fresh strawberries - this was my favourite out of the three.

Huge thanks to Just Perfect Wines and Glass of Bubbly for the fabulous prize. The wine carrier is going to come in useful to replenish the wine rack now that the girls have returned to uni.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Six Lessons I've Learnt After Two Years of Blogging...

I've been blogging for a little over two years now. My first post went live on 5th January 2013 just days after leaving my job in the NHS where I'd worked for the past 26 years. I'd written for a couple of blogging sites prior to this - but never been brave enough to have my own domain name until last year.

This is what I've learnt so far...

1. There's no place I'd rather be
I'm so happy I decided to start blogging as it's given me more confidence as well as some great opportunities. Most of the time I'm astounded by how much talent there is out there in the blogging world and how kind and generous fellow bloggers can be. If you're thinking about starting a blog, I'd definitely recommend it.

2.Your blog is your space on the Internet
Write about issues that are important to you and remember to be yourself. Not everyone will appreciate your unique view of the world - we're all different after all. And it's OK to say, 'No,' to a sponsored post or review that doesn't feel right. A short, but polite email to the PR company concerned will leave the door open for potential opportunities that might work for you at a later date.

3. Blogging is a journey
I may have been blogging for a couple of years, but I still have a lot to learn. The blogging world is constantly changing and that means you have to change too. There's a wealth of information on the Internet about almost anything you need to know, but I suspect I've mostly made it up as I've gone along. I know I've made a few mistakes along the way. Whenever you need help there's always someone out there who's willing to offer advice. Some things (for me) are never going to be easy - like changing the design of a blog!

(Image: Pixabay)
4. Photography
Blogging is all about the writing and that's the most important part of all. However I think the reader can become a little intimidated by vast amounts of text with nothing to capture their imagination in-between. I try to have at least one photo in every post - sometimes I go a little crazy and add as many as fifteen. If you're not a fan of taking pictures or don't have anything relevant, there are some fabulous websites with free stock photos. One of my favourites is Pixabay.

5. Promote on social media
You may have written a post you're desperate to share with your readers, but how are they going to find it exactly? From experience - I've learnt that it's essential to promote posts on social media in addition to hitting the publish button. There's a knack to doing this in moderation however. It's also important to interact with fellow bloggers by leaving comments on their blogs and sharing any posts that inspire you. And, if you join in with linkies - remember to share the love by commenting on several posts.

I may have saved the most important tip of all for last...

6. Time away from the laptop is always time well spent
It's easy to spend all day creating content for your blog and replying to emails, but it's also important to interact in the real world as that's where most of the inspiration for great content will come from. If you're feeling a bit meh about blogging, there's nothing more inspiring than taking a couple of days away from the laptop to recharge, come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes and hopefully, some fabulous new ideas for posts.

So there you have it, those are my thoughts after two years of blogging. I'd love to hear any tips you've learnt along the way.

Until next time...

 Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 6 April 2015

The Top Three Travel Bucket List

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you'll know that I love travelling. So, when I spotted the chance to win a trip to see the Northern Lights over at Transun, I was inspired to have a go.

My Top Three Travel Destinations are...

Route 66
I've been lucky enough to visit the US on several occasions, but the trip that's eluded me so far is Route 66. How awesome would it be to ride on the back of a Harley Davidson for over 2200 miles? I've never ridden a motorbike before - but the chance to ride from Chicago to Santa Monica on open roads is most definitely at the top of my list. Note to self: book a few lessons with a qualified instructor before even thinking about booking this trip.

 Harley Davidson - Sportster (Image: Pixabay)

Desert Road - Route 66 (Image: Pixabay)

I'd plan on taking in the kitsch roadside museums, the majestic landscapes that define the American West, the ghost town of Calico and maybe take a slight detour to see the Grand Canyon before journey's end on the beach in Santa Monica. I have a sneaky suspicion that my hair would be the wildest it's ever been, but I'm certain that the trip would be filled with a sense of freedom and nostalgia.

Calico - Route 66 (Image: Pixabay)

General Store, Arizona (Image: Pixabay)
Santa Monica - Route 66 (Image: Pixabay)

For a holiday filled with unspoilt and natural beauty, my second choice would be Norway. I'm a huge fan of the great outdoors and I'd want to experience the awe-inspiring Fjords and gaze upon nature's own spectacular light show - the Northern Lights.

Voss, Norway (Image: Pixabay)

Northern Lights (Image: Pixabay)

I'd love to try a sled ride with huskies as this would be a new and exhilarating experience. And, as the opportunity to see some of the largest marine mammals isn't something I've ever had the chance to do previously, a whale watching trip would be high on my itinerary.

Husky Sled (Image: Pixabay)

Humpback Whale (Image: Pixabay)

 Finally, as I like to cram as much variety as possible into any holiday - I'd love the opportunity to visit Oslo and enjoy the world-class museums and galleries.

Oslo (Image: Pixabay)

New Zealand
My parents considered emigrating to Auckland back in the 1960s and I've always wondered how life might have turned out if I'd grown up there. I'd love to take a tour of the North Island all the way from Auckland to Wellington. Along the way I'd stop at Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve for a spot of snorkelling and enjoy the reef systems and diverse marine life.

Auckland Skyline (Image: Pixabay)

Cathedral Cove (Image: Pixabay)

I'd also visit Rotorua - a volcanic wonderland featuring extraordinary landscapes and geothermal attractions - each with their own unique features. And, as no trip would be complete without a little bit of adrenaline, I'd book a trip on the Hukafalls Jet to experience the exhilaration of an 80 km/ hour ride on the white water of Huka Falls. Finally, I'd head to Wellington and make the most of the vibrant culture before heading home.

Rotorua, Geyser (Image: Pixabay)

Hukafalls Jet Boat (Image: Pixabay)

Wellington (Image: Pixabay)
So, there you have it - my top three travel bucket destinations. What would be your top three destinations?

To enter all you have to do is:

1. Write a blog post about your top three travel bucket list destinations and explain why you'd like to visit them.

2. Tweet your blog post to @Transun using the hashtag #TransunLights

The competition closes on 30th April 2015 at 23:59 so don't forget to Tweet your entry before then.

Good luck everyone x

Until next time...

 Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Friday, 3 April 2015

How I met my husband

A few weeks ago I found myself chatting to a friend who belongs to an online dating site. She was deliberating whether (or not) to go on a date with someone she wasn't convinced would be a good match and after listening to what she had to say about him, I was also sceptical. She's so lovely and deserves to be happy - so why is it that she can't seem to find - The One?

Along with a mutual friend, we've offered to personally vet anyone she's thinking of dating. I like to think that between us we could weed out the needy, the judgemental, the troublesome, the ones who never grew up - and find someone who's perfect for our friend.

I cast my mind back 26 years and realised that dating today is not what it used to be. I met Mr A on a blind date; only he wasn't supposed to be my date - he was what can only be described as a gooseberry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, its definition is: a third person in the company of two people, often on a date.

Incredibly, Mr A and my actual date shared the same first name and thought it hilarious to not share this information with me. It was an interesting evening and certainly one of the most perplexing dates I've ever been on. Mr A drove me home afterwards, and the following day we bumped into one another in town. Was it fate? I like to think so. The rest, as they say, is history.

I think I'd be pretty rubbish at dating now to be honest. After 22 years of marriage Mr A and myself get along pretty well most of the time. We trust one another implicitly, have learnt how to diffuse difficult situations and share a similar outlook on life.

The other evening, after a bottle of wine we were discussing the merits of trading one another in for a younger model. I like to think this is a reflection of how comfortable we are talking about absolutely anything after so many years together - rather than an open invitation.

After much deliberation, we concluded that a younger model would be very hard work indeed and weren't convinced we'd ever want to go back to those early love-struck days of a relationship. It was fun while it lasted, but 26 years on, I don't think I'd have the stamina, or the patience to get used to a new partner's irritating habits. And I wouldn't want to feel bad about nodding off on the sofa by 10 pm. Mr A went on to list each and every one of my annoying habits and I may have threatened to set the cat on him (she was sleeping peacefully at the time). And so, we decided that we'd rather stay with the devil we know. Neither of us fancies our chances at online dating, but I'm eternally optimistic for my friend.

So, how did you meet your partner? I'd love to hear about it...

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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