Autumn, to-do

Autumn to-do bucket list Autumn is officially here and I’m not sure how I feel about it. This time of year always feels a little bittersweet – comfy sweaters and cinnamon spice sound so appealing, but I struggle a bit when the nights draw in and I find myself wishing time away, willing the clocks to spring forward.

Last year I compiled a list together of a few things I wanted to do to enjoy the season but with a few holidays abroad and lots of weekends away, the season passed by without too much angst. This year however I have no trips planned and a job which involves working odd hours with lots of weekends. I’m going to be extra careful to ensure I get enough time outside in the light and time with my people.

Here are a few of the ways I intend on making the most of autumn.

Go on an autumnal walk
Make fondue
Bake a pumpkin pie
Drink festive coffee
Make hot chocolate, drink it whilst stargazing
Try some new soup recipes
Make chutney
Drink mulled apple juice
Go on a haunted activity
Knit a scarf
Carve a pumpkin

R’n’R at the Woodland Spa

The Woodland Spa has been on my radar for the last year and I finally visited on Tuesday. I picked up a sore throat and sniffly nose on my nights, so a spa day with new friends was just what the doctor ordered.

I haven’t known Han and Em very long, but three days into working with each other, we were already dressing alike, so I knew we would get along.* And what better way to bond, than to spend the day relaxing and eating.

Lunch at the Woodland Spa, Burnley

A wonderful time was had gossiping in the hydropool, slathering ourselves in mud and steaming it off, almost falling asleep in the serenity pool.The Woodland Spa, Burnley

We eschewed wine in favour of virtuous fruit juices but then had chips with lunch, drank tea whilst indulging in pudding, then drove home through thick Manchester traffic. But it was all good, because we were relaxed.

I had a very good day.

 

* we wear stripes8D1B001F-97F8-4B51-8F1B-55770EE8EBD9

6 Alternative things to do in Berlin

Husband and I visited Berlin three summers ago. We had just quit our jobs to embark on a year long trip around the world. Our first stop was Copenhagen where we spent a wonderful few days eating Danishes and being tourists. My brother-in-law joined us for that first city, and after he left, we ventured on to Berlin.

Here are a few of the things we recommend to friends.

Go on the Alternative Walking Tour, here

Street Art Street 2

One of my favourite things to do on a city break, is go on a free walking tour. This one was a bit different than the usual and took us through markets and curiosity shops, past artists squats and to a riverside beach club.

Sing your heart out in Mauerpark

Mauer Park Karaoke Pit

On Sundays this leafy green park, which was once slap bang in the middle of no-mans-land, turns into a massive flea market full of stalls selling trinkets and secondhand clothes… aaaaaand there’s a giant karaoke pit! We didn’t partake in the singing – for the sake of our fellow patrons, but we massively enjoyed seeing people from all over the world belt their hearts out. If you go late in the day, you can get some really delicious food for cheap as the vendors lower their prices to sell the last of their grub.

Be a film geek at the Messedamm underground pass

As we were speeding walking through this underpass to make our bus to Bremen, it recognised it from a scene in the film Hanna. Once you’ve recognised it – you’ll notice it pops up in the cinematic world a lot!

Drink all of the Fritz Kola

I like Fritz KolaAll the varieties of Fritz Kola

You’ll often find me in Brew Dog on a weekend, not because I like beer, but because they sell my beloved Fritz Kola which is the best soft drink ever, in all the land. Try it. Try all of it!

Be silly in a Photoautomat

PhotoautomatYou’ll run into more than one of these as you wander round the city. The cheapest, and in my opinion best souvenir you can buy. Pop in a couple of Euros and SMIIIILE

Stand above the Government in the Reichstag Building

The Reichstag 2The Reichstag 1Did you know you can visit the dome of the Reichstag Building for free? You can walk up the dome and peer down into the debating chamber of  the German Parliament. All you have to do is sign up here.

 

How to survive a night shift

After a glorious, year long reprieve, I’m back to shift work.

I hate, HATE having my sleep messed around with, but I’m getting better at dealing with it these days. A good thing, because night shifts will be a part of my life for a couple of years yet.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve found to make my night shifts a little easier.

Silence the outside, as best you can
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Our blinds don’t do a great job of keeping the light out so I sleep with a merino wool buff over my eyes. I discovered these whilst travelling as they were fantastic for shutting out the rest of the world when I was trying to get some shut eye in a hostel. They’re breathable and stay on your face unlike eye masks, because they fit a little tighter.

Sometimes I wear earplugs – especially if it’s the weekend or school holidays, because quite hideously, the rest of the world does not stop just because I am on nights. Rude.

Watch your caffeine intake
I have had nights where I’ve downed cup of tea, after cup of tea in the hope it would pep me up a bit. Instead, I’ve found that the caffeine makes me feel jittery and nauseous. Sadly, being up at 4 am just isn’t natural so you’re going to feel tired. Keeping hydrated does help – but I find it’s better to stick to water.

Time your break
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I try and take my break a little after halfway through my shift. Purely because psychologically I find it a boost to have less than half of my shift left to go when I get back to work.

Combat nights nausea with mint
Working nights sometimes makes me feel nauseous and I find that having something minty helps with that.

Eat well
7CE93377-01AE-4B36-A64E-8B8D62B35B62Every night shift I crave stodge, but after making the mistake of eating chips and lasagne one too many times on shift and trying to fuel myself on coco pops, I’ve  learnt that having all those carbs in your belly does not make for a happy worker. The post-prandial slump is made worse by fatigue.

I find eating small snacks throughout the night the most helpful, but everybody is different. Find your own rhythm and consider sticking to fresh, wholesome foods. Having said that, sometimes all you want is a bar of chocolate. Eat it. You deserve it.

Have nap before your first shift
I try to wake up at my usual time the morning of my first night, but then have a nap later on. If you can’t sleep during the day at least try and have a time of rest before your shift. Stay off your phone and let your mind relax.

Plan a treat for the end
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I try and grab breakfast with my colleagues after I’ve finished my last night. It’s something to look forward to whilst you’re working and it’s nice to be able to commiserate with friends who understand how damn tired you are.

Glamping in Blackpool

Glamping Pod at Stanley Villa Farm

Last summer, my mother-in-law kindly gifted us a Red Letter Days voucher for our wedding anniversary. We finally cashed it in this spring to go glamping near Blackpool and now, as we are almost nearing autumn, I am going through the photos we took on that trip.

It was a quick trip away, but refreshing all the same. A much needed reminder that time out in nature, even briefly, can be restorative.

We stayed at Stanley Villa Farm in a cute little house shaped pods although I think glamping is a wee bit of a stretch. The pods, whilst insulted, were still a little chilly over night. And the site is next to a working farm with accompanying working farm smells – which we mostly got used to. The toilets were those toilet/shower wet room combinations which I really dislike… because everything gets wet, including the toilet roll. Still, snags aside, we really enjoyed our stay.

We relaxed and read, but before long I started to think about my belly. After a quick, and probably uncharitable, Google search of ‘is there any decent food in Blackpool?’ I found The Cottage which came with Rick Stein’s seal of approval. It was a short car ride away and found it hidden on an unassuming back street. The staff were incredibly warm and welcoming and the food was delicious. Quite often, fish and chips can make me feel greasy and heavy but these tasted really clean and light. The fish was succulent and the batter crisp. Fluffy chips and a couple of slices of buttered, white bread rounded out the meal. Heaven, with a dollop of homemade tartare sauce.

Fish and Chips at The Cottage, Blackpool

We made our way back to the site for the night are were treated to the most insanely beautiful, pink sunset. There are fire pits outside each pod, with wood for sale on site and I wish we’d thought to bring some marshmallows to toast. Next time, for sure.

Sunset at Stanley Villa Farm

Morning came and we made breakfast. I think my favourite part of camping is cooking outside – there’s something so satisfying about breakfast cooked on a camping stove accompanied by a hot mug of tea to keep you warm before the sun fully comes up for the day.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Blackpool

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Blackpool

We drove home after breakfast (with a quick detour to Yorkshire to visit my poor uncle who landed himself in hospital), feeling satisfied and content.