Thanks Everyone!

Just a quick post to say thank you to everyone who has followed me since I started my adventures at the end of 2016.  It’s been a wonderful two years, travelling in the UK and abroad with Isabel and her family.  Before that neither of us had been on a long haul flight and now I’ve travelled over 100,000 miles!

We’ve been to lots of wonderful places raising awareness of Motor Neurone Disease or ALS as it’s known in some parts of the world and funds for the MND Association, who do so much to help suffers and their families in the UK.  Also, I hope you’ve enjoyed my calendars a found them useful.

I’ll continue to help the local Association and to campaign on Social Media on their behalf.   You might even see me pop up every now and then helping with a fundraising challenge but generally I’ll be resting my paws at home.  I’m over half way to my fundraising target of £10,000, so there’s still work to do yet.  Research is proceeding apace and hopefully one day we’ll find a cure.

Finally, a Happy New Year to you all! 🙂

My Last Adventure of 2018 – The Qdos Panto at the London Palladium

How time flies!  It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re travelling to London to see the big Qdos pantomime for the third year running.  This year it’s Snow White starring the usual team – Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Paul Zerdin, Gary Wilmot and this year they are joined by Dawn French as the evil Queen Dragonella,Charlie Stemp and Danielle Hope as the Prince and Snow White, along with Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace from Strictly Come Dancing plus a troup of dwarves .

We knew we were in for a treat and we weren’t disappointed.  We sat up in the gods waiting for the the show to start and, as you can see, my best Christmas dress matched the scenery!  Purple with snowflakes, they must have know I was coming along!

The set and costumes were amazing and the whole show is a real feast for the senses,

Julian Clary’s collection of outfits get more and more extreme and he’s joyfully smutty, which flies over the heads of the little ones and delights the mums and dads!

Nigel Havers hams it up and is ribbed mercilessly!

Dawn French isn’t your typical baddie but she adds a delicious twist, drawing the mums, dads and little ones in to the jokes.

Paul Zerdin and Sam are always funny and is a very cleverly accomplished ventriloquist, adding a twist with the remotely operated Sam.

Gary Wilmot is a great dame and a tour de force at remembering song lyrics.  Last time it was tube stations and this time is was stars who have appeared at the London Palladium.  He’s a marvel!

For a Strictly fan it was great to see Vincent and Flavia and their two dances, especially their trademark Latin Dance, the Argentine tango.

The two younger stars, Danielle Hope and Charlie Stemp will definitely have long careers ahead of them.  We voted for Danielle in the original Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show for the Wizard of Oz.  We saw Charlie Stemp in Half a Sixpence, which is my favourite musical to date – he’s a real talent.

Thanks everyone in front of the curtain and backstage, it was a real treat.

I’m really pleased to have finished off my two years of adventures on such a high.  The Qdos panto at the Palladium is one to add to your diary each year and I’m sure the family will be back, even if I’m not!

Thursday 27th, Mayflower Theatre – Meal at the Ovation Restaurant & Panto ‘Dick Whittington’

We’d booked to go to see the pantomime at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton the day after Boxing Day, which coincided with a train strike – typical!  Luckily it worked out OK.  We caught an earlier train as we had to change at Bournemouth but the next train had a technical fault and we couldn’t go until they had rebooted the train and ‘sort of fixed it’ (their words!).

We had a quick look round John Lewis when we got there to waste a few minutes, then we went up to the Ovation Restaurant.  They’ve got one of my new 2019 calendars there, which they said thank you for, and they sat us in the window, so I could sit next to Grandad Bear and admire the view.  We always have a lovely meal there and it’s nice not having to rush to get your seat.

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The time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to take our seats for the pantomime, Dick Whittington starring the famous names below:

Image result for mayflower panto 2018 poster

It was an excellent panto, with lots of lovely songs, beautifully sung, Steve McFadden was a good baddie, King Rat.   The giant rat coming out of the stage was very scary for the little ones but the flying bus was magical.  Joe McElderry and Suzanne Shaw were very likeable as the hero and heroine (he’s got a lovely grin!), Sheila Ferguson magical as the fairy Bow Bells, all ably linked together by the very funny ‘Dick’ Bobby Davro and the excellent dame Andrew Ryan (I didn’t know who he was but I’d definitely look out for his panto dame in future – he had lovely frocks and played an excellent part.  How you keep a straight face next to Bobby Davro larking about, I don’t know!)

After tumultuous applause at the end of the show, we scurried along to the railway station just in time to hop on the train to Poole, which was lucky as we didn’t fancy an hour wait til the next one.

The Mayflower Theatre has been transformed in recent years (I love the new colour scheme, by the way) and is as good as a visit to the West End – we’re never disappointed, so all in all, it was a very good day out!

 

Sunday, 16th December – Dick Whittington at Lighthouse, Poole

Today we’d promised to take Rosemary’s, sister to the Pantomime at Lighthouse, Poole – Dick Whittington, a Duncan Reeves production starring Chris Jarvis, children’s TV presenter, who directs and wrote the pantomime with Peter Duncan (and yes, I do remember him from Blue Peter).   Typically, we caught every red light on the way to the show and just got there by the skin of our teeth!  (By the way, do you like my panto dress!)

      

The first of the three pantomimes we are seeing this month, we weren’t disappointed.  The children really got involved with all the booing and ‘it’s behind you’ and there were plenty of jokes and singalong bits to keep the adults happy.

The characters included Charlotte Knowles as Fairy Bow Bell, Katie Arundell as Alice Fitzwarren, Sammy Phillips as Tommy cat, Craig Rhys Barlow as the dastardly King Rat and Dereck Walker as the excellent dame Dolly Doughnuts (love the frocks), plus it was nice to see Richard Gibson, aka Herr Flick from ‘Allo ‘Allo singing and dancing, obviously only some of us were old enough to get the references to the TV show!  You can’t go wrong with a medley of Abba songs either.

After a delicious New Forest ice cream in the interval, we settled down to watch the second half, which went in a flash.  Ite didn’t have a flashy 3D section but we thoroughly enjoyed the low tech, high viz underwater scene with bubbles big and small.  Chris Jarvis is a polished performer, who I believe is a local lad, so knew which local locations to include when to raise a laugh.  He was also very good with the children that came on to the stage.  It’s a shame they’re not allowed chocolate in their goody bags though!

Congrats to all the cast for a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment.  Will definitely recommend and add a visit to the Poole panto to next year’s must do list!

Sunday, 9th December 2018

Today is the last day of our New York City adventure – how time flies!  Having found a delicious bagel shop near the hotel, Zuckers Bagels on Columbus Avenue, we popped in for a delicious egg and bacon bagel and a coffee to fortify us for a long and busy day.  We went back to the Hotel to finish packing and check out and leave our cases for later collection.

As the Hotel Beacon is not far from Central Park, we didn’t want to leave without exploring such a famous landmark.  We needed our hats and scarves, though, it was freezing!  Even parts of the lake were frozen.

We went past the skating rink, famous from films such as Serendipity, the ‘Friends’ fountain, the lovely horse drawn carriages, the beautiful lakes, etc.  It’s a lovely oasis in the city.

We wound our way through the paths, and the New York Marathon was taking place at the same time.  The sparrows and ducks were keen to pick up the crumbs from the tourists and the squirrels were busy finding acorns, they let you get very close for a photo, too.

After the park we wandered round 5th Avenue marvelling at the displays at Bergdorf and Goodman – can you spot me?

and Saks:

with one final stop at Times Square for some more photos, we then took the subway back to Hotel Beacon to collect our bags for the journey to JFK.  Trying to be frugal we decided to take the subway, rather than pay for a shuttle or taxi transfer but I think, in hindsight, it wasn’t a good move!  There are three parts to the journey to the airport from our hotel Uptown and we found it difficult finding our way to the correct trains.  We weren’t alone though, others were in the same boat.  We caught a subway train, which we thought would connect us to the airport Airtrain but unfortunately it didn’t go where we thought it would and we had to queue for a bus.  It took ages to arrive and almost 3/4 to get to the airport, leaving us with a mad dash to bag drop off with only seconds to spare.

Thanks to Virgin Atlantic staff at JFK, they very kindly accepted our bags, putting priority labels on them, leaving us to rush through security and to the gate without time to change, put on flight socks or visit the restroom.  Not ideal but at least we made it!

It was time to enjoy being waited on while watching some good movies and eventually nodding off for a couple of hours before being woken for a morning snack and cup of tea.

It’s been a fitting end to my final venture abroad.  Thanks Virgin Atlantic, it’s been great!

All that remains is our trusty National Express coach back home, ready for a riotous welcome from the dogs!

Just the pantos to look forward to before retiring from my travels at the end of the year.-  I’ll still be raising funds by selling cuddly toys, taking part in challenges, and campaigning on behalf of the MND Association, nationally and locally.

TTFN…

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 8th December

When we left it was -1 degree, so we were well wrapped up! We started with a delicious breakfast bagel then caught the subway to South Ferry to catch the free Statten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty.  If you’re canny with your money, then this is an ideal way to get your photos!  It’s nice to see the iconic statue but it was perishing on the ferry!  Along with many others, we dashed off the ferry and back in to the hall to get back on the return trip!

We’d booked to go up the Rockefeller Centre at 3.45, so we went on the subway and decided to have a wander round the nearby Bryant Park Christmas Market.  Luckily we’d already taken photos of the Rockefeller tree, as it was heaving with people late afternoon, especially in front of the Saks store.

We weren’t quite sure where the entrance was, but we found it and made out way inside.  Like most popular visitor attractions, it was organised like clockwork, with the obligatory security check on the way in, then it’s a short hop in one lift and then a quick trip up to the viewing floors.  There’s a glass ceiling, so if you look up you can see yourself hurtling towards the top!  Luckily we arrived at dusk, so we managed to see the view while it was still light and after having a browse in the gift shop and a little sit down, we could then get a view of New York at night.  You can see the Empire State Building in the distance on the one side and Central Park on the other.

 

We’re glad we managed to get such a good view.  On the way back we hopped on the subway and to see some of the famous streets with houses decorated in lovely Christmas lights, one of which is below.  They are very reminiscent of our favourite Christmas movies like Home Alone.

Friday 7th December

After a good night’s sleep, it’s off to our Food, Architecture and History Tour. We caught the subway to the Flatiron District ready to meet our guide just before 10.30 outside Eataly.l under the gold clock.

Our guide Rory arrived promptly and introduced herself and gave us a little history lesson then we were off. I didn’t realise New York originally stopped at 14th Avenue then they eventually flattened out the hills, filled in the adjoining land and created the numerical grid system.

The Flatiron Building is a triangular 22 storey 285 ft tall steel framed building, which was completed in 1902, when it was one of the tallest buildings in the city.  It’s also the only building that gives name to a district.

Our first stop was a tour of the Eataly building, which contains some great artisan Italian food producers in a historically important building, that used to be a toy headquarters.  We enjoyed a taste of a delicious sweet focaccia here and moving round the area we also visited Beechers cheesectory and tasted their grilled cheese sandwich, mmm delicious and a bakery were we enjoyed something like a mini chocolate croissant but I can’t remember what it was called.

Rory was an excellent guide and the tour was well worth it.

We also went past the famous Lego shop, that had some really wonderful window displays:

After the tour we had a wander round Macy’s, who have some lovely window displays, both traditional and modern like this outer space one.

We made our way back to the hotel to drop off our shopping and have a rest before our show in the evening.

Next stop was Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. A great show in a lovely Art Deco building.  The routines are timed to perfection and I especially liked the tin soldier routine. Santa helped the proceedings along with a great 3D segment and there was a nativity section with camels, sheep and a donkey on the stage. They were all very well behaved!

It was a great show but in the warmth of the theatre I nearly nodded off as my body isn’t acclimatised to the time difference!

After the show we popped to see the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree – it was hard to find a free spot, it was so busy!

On our way back to the subway, we called in to Times Square to admire this famous landmark:

 

Today’s the Day!

After a tasty breakfast, we caught the local bus to Heathrow Terminal 3, the home of Virgin Atlantic.  They’ve got a pretty Christmas tree outside and I couldn’t resist the photo opportunity with Isabel!

We dropped our bags off, then went through security and had a wander round the shops. Before long it was time to check in.  We’d upgraded to Economy Delight at the last minute to get more leg room and that came with priority boarding, so we didn’t have to wait too long, then finally… We were off!

We had a good flight over, with Virgin Atlantic you always get well fed and watered and on Vera, their entertainment system I managed to see 3 films and an episode of Ice Road Truckers!  It took approximately 8 hours and a rather hectic journey to our hotel in the rush hour. We managed to take the train instead of the subway but we finally reached the Hotel Beacon at about 6.30.  We’ve got a lovely view from the 21st floor:

After a short rest, we’re off to have a look round and find some American fayre for tea (it’s bedtime at home but I must stay awake a bit longer!)

Tomorrow’s another day!

Travelling to Heathrow Ready for our Last Adventure Abroad

Hi All

Well, the last foreign adventure before I retire has finally arrived!  Today I travel up to London with National Express to the Premier Inn at Heathrow:

Here I can have a nice rest and be ready to fly to New York tomorrow with Virgin Atlantic.

I do like to take it easy before I travel and I know I’ll get a tasty meal and a comfy bed, not forgetting a lovely cup of tea in the morning.