Friday, 26 October 2018

Two years in the clear

Last Friday, I had one of my regular check-up appointments at the hospital and was thankfully given the all clear at the two year mark.

This might sound strange and a little ungrateful, but being told I'm in the clear doesn't immediately fill me with elation and make me want to celebrate. If I'm completely honest, it always feels a little... hollow.

I've blogged in the past about how anxious these appointments make me feel, and it takes me a long time to recover afterwards even if the outcome is positive. And, in addition to the lingering anxiety, there's always that small voice in my head that says, 'But things aren't positive, I'm still left with the impact of the cancer and the surgery and nothing will ever change that.' When that little voice gets louder and more vociferous, it's quite easy to slip into a pattern of feeling angry about the whole situation rather than focusing on the good news.

I've now progressed to annual appointments after being on six monthly appointments for the last year. Again, I've had lots of mixed feelings about this. Part of me is pleased because of the dread that sets in before these appointments, but another part of me likes the reassurance of being told by an expert that there's nothing sinister lurking around. I've also got ongoing appointments at the hospital about related issues which means I won't be able to enjoy a twelve month break away from the place in reality.

So, as you can see, there are currently lots of mixed feelings circling around in my brain and it can sometimes feel as if there's no room for anything else. That's probably a whole other blog post in itself.

Back when I had my first post-op check-up in January 2017, we started a tradition of going out for a nice meal after my appointments. Even if we don't feel as if 'celebrate' is quite the right word to use, it's always important to acknowledge good news, to enjoy the little things and to have something to look forward to. This time around, we decided to book a table at Penarth's Pier64. I'd never been before, but it came highly recommended from Neil and a few of our friends.

I put on a pretty new dress and my favourite burgundy accessories, and we headed to the restaurant by 7pm after a quick photo shoot with Jessie. 

We decided to go all out and order three courses... why ever not? In case you're wondering, I was VERY careful about rolling my sleeves up and not splashing food on my very white dress while I ate. 

I ordered deep fried cauliflower florets to start, sirloin steak with caramelised onions and red wine jus for my main, and lemon posset for dessert. The food was lovely, as was the general atmosphere and decor, and I'd definitely like to go back to Pier64 next time we're celebrating a special occasion. 

How do you 'celebrate' after difficult appointments or occasions? Let me know if you've got any tips on how to deal with the mixed feelings I've mentioned in this post... 

Friday, 19 October 2018

My unpopular opinions on Walt Disney World

I love reading 'unpopular opinion' blog posts so I decided it was time I wrote one of my own. I might well have unpopular opinions on all manner of things, but I thought I'd start by blogging specifically about my unpopular Walt Disney World opinions.

I don't understand the massive Starbucks obsession

I'm quite partial to a Starbucks hot chocolate when I'm at home. However, I really can't understand why people flock to Starbucks in Walt Disney World when there are so many other amazing options available. Why would you spend money on a drink you can buy on your nearest high street when there are so many delicious park-exclusive beverages to try?

I don't like the Carousel of Progress

I've only been on the Carousel of Progress once and I really didn't like it. It's one of those classic rides that everyone seems to love, but it didn't do anything for me. It did break while I was on it which meant I had to watch the same scene about six times, but I don't think I'd have loved it whether it was working or not.

I don't enjoy meeting 'face' characters

As I've mentioned before, meeting characters isn't a huge priority for me when we go to Walt Disney World. When I do meet characters, it's absolutely essential that they're 'costume' characters who don't have the ability to talk to me. I have no idea how to talk to characters and just thinking about it makes me cringe.

I don't see the point of posing in front of walls

I'm on Instagram and I love Disney so I should enjoy posing in front of the bubblegum wall, right? Wrong. I'd prefer to pose for a photo with a beautiful backdrop, and Walt Disney World certainly isn't short of beautiful backdrops. I've also never been a fan of copying what everyone else is doing, and it does sometimes feel as if everyone in the world is posing for bubblegum wall photos.

Children shouldn't be allowed to sit on adults' shoulders during shows and parades

Why do people think it's acceptable to block everyone else's view by lifting a child onto their shoulders? Pick them up so that their head is level with yours by all means, but don't be selfish. Children don't have a special right to a better view than everyone else. Don't even get me started on adults who push children (who are often as tall as I am) to the front when I've queued for the perfect spot for an hour...

I can't stand the thought of eating a turkey leg

I've tried and loved most of the classic Disney snacks, but I will never understand how people can eat those gigantic turkey legs. Even the thought of them makes me feel sick. Give me a massive sugary snack over a meaty one any day!

Hollywood Studios is my least favourite Disney park

Hollywood Studios has always been my least favourite park since I started going to Walt Disney World in 2012. Although I love some of the rides and attractions there, particularly the Tower of Terror and the Beauty and the Beast show, it doesn't hold the same appeal as the other parks do for me.

There's no need to film every ride, every show and every parade

I often wonder what it must have been like to visit a Disney park before camera phones were invented. I don't understand why people feel the need to film every ride, show and parade... when are you ever going to watch those videos? I get irrationally annoyed when I have to watch something through someone's phone screen because they insist on filming everything and blocking my view.

Do you agree with any of my opinions? Do you have any unpopular opinions of your own to share? Let me know!

Friday, 12 October 2018

A weekend away in the Gower

Last weekend, we took Jessie on her very first holiday. She stayed in my parents' house with us for one night last Christmas, but the three of us had never been on a proper holiday together until last weekend.

We'd been researching dog-friendly hotels in the Gower for a while, then one of our friends recommended the King's Head Inn in Llangennith which sounded perfect. The Gower is an ideal distance for a two night stay, and it also meant we could stay at my parents' house for the third night as they don't live too far from there.

We finished our packing on the Friday morning, then left for Llangennith at around 2pm. If I'm being completely honest, it probably took me longer to pack Jessie's things than to pack my own belongings. I bought a new backpack for her to mark the occasion which she seemed pretty excited about, even if that's not particularly evident in this photo.

It took us just over an hour to get to the King's Head Inn. We'd been allocated a spacious ground floor room, and the pub itself where we'd eat our breakfast and dinner was only a stone's throw away. 

We went out for a walk to explore our surroundings as soon as we'd unpacked. The clouds were beginning to gather and we were concerned that it might rain, so we were eager to do some exploring before the weather turned. We walked towards Rhossili for about half an hour but decided to turn back before catching a glimpse of the beach. We had the whole of Saturday to explore and didn't want to tire Jessie's little legs out too much on the first day. In true holiday style, we did make time for a family selfie before making our way back down the hill! 

We had a glass of wine and a beer in the pub's outdoor seating area before making our way back to our room to feed Jessie and to get ready for our evening meal. The pub had a dog-friendly eating area which meant we were able to take Jessie along with us for all our meals. We met dogs of all shapes and sizes in the pub over the two days and Jessie made lots of new friends. On the Friday evening, she even felt comfortable enough to steal another dog's chew when they took their eyes off it for five seconds. Naughty Jessie! 

It was forecast to rain pretty much all day on Saturday and, true to form, it was pouring down when we went for breakfast. We were trying to decide how to deal with the wet weather while we ate our breakfast, then we looked out of the window and realised it was brightening up. We thankfully didn't see another drop of rain all day, and we were pretty delighted that the forecast was wrong. 

After breakfast, we got ready to set off for a long walk. We decided to take a different route to the one we took on Friday afternoon for a change of scenery. We walked through the village to Hillend campsite, then on to Llangennith Beach from there. It was Jessie's first time at the beach and she loved it. She seemed fairly non-plussed about the sea, but she was definitely a very big fan of the sand and the shells.

We had a little paddle with Jessie in the sea and walked along the beach for quite a while, then we turned and walked back towards the campsite entrance. We stopped outside a little cafe for a hot drink and some toasted teacakes (and some treats for Jessie), then we walked back to the pub for an afternoon drink to reward ourselves for completing such a long walk. 

We then had a couple of hours to relax before heading back out for our evening meal. We met the usual crowd of dogs and their owners, but all the dogs and humans were noticeably much more tired than they'd been the night before after walking all day! Poor Jessie was completely zonked and was fast asleep within minutes of us getting back to our room. 

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast then drove to my parents' house after we'd checked out of our room. My brother happened to be staying for the weekend so it was great to be able to catch up with him too, and Jessie loved all the extra attention. My mother cooked a lovely Sunday lunch, then we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening interspersed with a couple of little walks for Jessie. She was very excited about seeing everyone but was clearly still exhausted from her exciting exertions the day before. 

We went for a hot chocolate and a cake in Costa with my parents on Monday morning before heading back to Penarth in the afternoon. We immediately threw ourselves back into reality and did all our unpacking, laundry and food shopping in record time ready to go back to work the following day. 

It was so lovely to spend a proper long weekend with Neil and to be able to take Jessie with us wherever we went, as well as having the opportunity to catch up with my parents and my brother. It's no secret that I love going on holiday (who doesn't)?, but there's always a tinge of sadness when we leave Jessie behind which is why this one was so enjoyable. We'll definitely be booking to go back to Llangennith at some point! 

Have you taken your dog on holiday recently? Let me know if you've got any recommendations!