Tag: bucket list

Update #58416974

Hey guys! It’s been rather a long time since I last posted. A lot has happened and my life has been turned upside down so blogging has become a distant memory.

Luckily I had an email to renew my subscription which then jolted me to update everything now I know where my life is heading (finally).

As ever there is good news and bad news for myself, rather than give a lengthy discussion on each, bullet points will do instead;

Bad News

  • My depression came back hard
  • Work ethic / attitude dwindled
  • My relationship ended with Tim
  • I’m having to move out of the house
  • I’m having to re-home Albert
  • Body is physically falling apart

Good News

  • Had intense private therapy which greatly helped
  • I felt confident in my decision to end my relationship
  • Feeling much freer
  • Found a house share with people I already know
  • Housemates have a dog
  • Get to decorate my room how I want
  • Therapy sessions are becoming less frequent
  • Progressing in work again
  • Improved relationship with parents


Next I need to revamp some of my bucket list goals (for the billionth time – it’s not cheating right?) say goodbye to

  • Yorkshire 3 Peaks
  • Muddy Dog Challenge
  • Dog Agility Classes
  • Climb Snowdon
  • Visit Machu Picchu
  • Visit the Lake District
  • NYC @ Christmas

Then say hello and welcome to

  • Guitar Lessons
  • Visit Croatia
  • Visit Slovenia
  • See the Harry Potter Play
  • Complete a puzzle with over 1,000 pieces
  • Get a bikini wax
  • Watch 10 classic movies from 1930’s to 1970’s





New Year

In a moment of organisational madness I wrote down how many items I achieved in 2017 and how many items I had left. I managed to tick off 7 items from my bucket list! This is great but then seeing I had 23 left to go I started to panic.

So I have divided up the items into 2018 goals and 2019 goals.


  • Ghost hunt
  • Snowdon & Visit Wales
  • Say Hello in 30 Languages
  • 5km Colour Rush
  • Yorkshire 3 Peaks
  • Machu Picchu
  • Give Blood
  • Muddy Paws Challenge
  • Gain Another Qualification
  • Buy a drink for a stranger
  • Titanic Museum
  • Dog Agility
  • Cut my hair for charity



  • Sky dive
  • Achieve Black Belt in TKD
  • Visit the Lake District
  • Be Vegetarian for 2 weeks
  • Go to a Silence Retreat
  • Learn Origami
  • Line Dancing
  • Disconnect for 1 week
  • NYC at Christmas
  • Lose Weight


I decided I could achieve more in 2018 as it is the year before wedding madness of 2019 (for my friends) so more money would be around to contribute towards achieving 30 before 30. I’ve technically already started the challenge of losing weight but I will give myself the full year of 2019 to achieve the best result.

I feel much more organised and under control of how I will achieve my bucket list now. Plus I have a lot of posting to catch up on I have 3 drafts waiting to be finished, I need to get on top of it!

Too Organised??

Over the past few weeks I have been booking in dates and paying for some of the challenges I am doing next year.

5km Colour Obstacle Rush event has been booked in for Saturday 12th May 2018. Tim and I plus two other friends will be attempting this course. Go Pro footage will be taken.

5km Muddy Dog Challenge has also been booked in for Sunday 30th September 2018. After leaving Albert at home for three weeks whilst we are away in Peru I thought a little day trip for Albert was the best way of saying sorry.

I have changed a few goals ;

#20 Love Actually Wedding is now #20 Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

#23 Volunteer at a food bank is now #23 NYC @ Christmas

#9 Visit Wales is now #9 Visit the Lake District

My friend announced that she didn’t want the Love Actually Wedding scene re-created at her wedding as she thought it may make the ceremony a little tacky in hindsight. So this one had to go and be replaced.

Volunteering at a food bank had to be swapped for a new goal due to myself not having access to a car during the week, plus working part time for the NHS and doing my dog walking business. Once I have my own vehicle and I can easily travel around I shall look into doing this goal at a later date.

As another goal is to Climb Snowdon I was inevitably going to be visiting Wales. So I have combined those goals together and added a new destination to the mix. Now having a dog makes me conscious of exploring more of England with our four legged friend.

For my mums birthday and Christmas present I have bought for her, my dad, Tim and I to go away for the weekend and then take part in a Ghost Hunt! I’m actually really looking forward to doing this. So a weekend in January 2018 is all booked in for this.

Yorkshire 3 Peaks  Challenge date is booked in our diaries too! This is June 2018. I feel there is plenty more to plan but as my brother lives up North he can do some of the organising. Watch this space!



Plastic, Fishing Nets and more

Plastic, Fishing Nets and more

So my ‘Help Save the Ocean’ is a very broad bucket list goal to have and potentially can never be complete. I guess I should re-name it ‘Do my part in helping to save the ocean’ BUT that doesn’t sound as catchy?!

Anyway on September 16th myself and Tim made our way to Hurst Castle (Milford on Sea) to do some litter picking as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Big British Beach Clean 2017.

https://www.mcsuk.org/ – the homepage to find out more about this cause

https://www.mcsuk.org/clean-seas/gbbc-2017-thank-you – a review of the beach clean nationally

The meeting area was pretty vague at the start with no postcode to a car park, so it was a little castle hunt for the last 2 minutes of the journey. You’d have thought I’d have taken us to a beach location I knew but I wanted to go somewhere different.

Admittedly I have been to Hurst Castle before however I think I was 7/8 and didn’t take notice of directions. Also fond memories of me winding myself as I slipped down a staircase there resulting in my friend and her siblings all laughing at me. Plus I somehow left my pants on the shingle. In a way me litter picking in this spot makes up for littering the beach with pink cotton undies around 20 years ago!

Once we found a place to park we were early (as we are to everything). So we found the meeting point (became much more apparent once getting to the destination) and wondered aimlessly looking at the beautiful scenery.

Within minutes I became much more relaxed and carefree, I think the weather helped too but the sun on my face, salty sea air flowing around me and the sound of the waves took an instant affect on my mood. I forgot how much I love the beach. I need to remember this for my mental health recovery.

Also we took some photos purposely for the blog as pictures are much more exciting to look at compared to my awful writing skills.

As you may or may not be able to tell I have a MCS t-shirt on which I bought along with a manta ray one as another way to help give back to the cause. I didn’t think it through that on the day people may think that I am in fact the organiser so I definitely hid my t-shirt until the event got under way. Their clothing is certified 100% Organic Cotton t-shirt (155g/m2) / Made in an ethically accredited, wind-powered factory / Low Carbon / GM Free / Hand finished in the UK

https://www.mcsuk.org/shop/ – check out if something takes your fancy!

When we checked the meeting point closer to the start time we found a bunch of people hovering around and a lady in an orange bib with MCS on. Now again there are no tips on what to do when arriving so I battled my anxiety and spoke to this stranger. It turns out if you sign up online then you’re all signed in! Easy.

After a little talk about the running of the event and grabbing ourselves litter pickers (Tim was rather relieved about this having had a bit of a twinge in his back lately) we headed up towards the tip of Hurst Castle spit. I think this took its toll on me before we even started lol! (I definitely need to start on my weight loss goal) The spit made up of uneven shingle made it harder work to walk. Luckily for sturdy walking boots I trudged along just fine.

We came to halt and were told to grab a clipboard with worksheets on. We had to now litter pick between two wooden posts (100m section) and record everything we pick up and pop into our bin. See checklist below


Tim and I had been looking around before we started and couldn’t really see much litter to pick up. But I’m expecting the litter to be like a beacon. Like CCOOEEEE I’M LITTER! OVER HERE!’ kinda scenario. Alas it wasn’t, but you do start off missing items. Then once you get the hang of it you uplift stones and seaweed to make sure you pick up the bottle top. It was highly addictive. The main culprit was fishing net and line. So any fishermen reading, please pick up your litter before going home! Next was bottle caps, plastic cutlery and pens. Then we came across a needle. **Insert buzzer sound from Family Fortunes here**

Image result for family fortunes wrong answer

Although a good find in terms of how important it is to clean them up, we weren’t actually allowed to physically touch it or move it. Crazy huh! The council said to our event leader that because we are all volunteers we are not expected to put ourselves into possible harm therefor we had to mark it with a piece of laminated red card and leave it where we found it. However due to the location of the needle being in the middle of the drop into the sea, the lady in the MCS bib moved it to one of the wooden posts to make it easier to see. **don’t worry everyone was issued gloves** I guess now I wonder if and when that was picked up by the council. Fingers crossed it has.


You’d think the needle would have been the item that increased my disappointment levels. It didn’t. I became more and more annoyed at seeing everyday plastic strewn everywhere. Next time you take your deck chair to the beach, double check the legs bottoms haven’t come off! I came to realise that it is just laziness. Whether it be on that beach and people forgetting to take their litter home. Or if it were people from a beach miles away that did the same resulting in their sweet wrappers washing ashore. The problem is, the ocean can not cope or do anything with this material.


The statistic above is shocking. I first had my doubts that this would be true. I watched the Alaska Live programmes on BBC not long ago and they were talking about how thousands of salmon migrate every year. These fish can also spawn between 3,000 – 14,000 eggs! That’s big numbers! But being at the beach constantly picking up tiny pieces of plastic or netting gives you some perspective of how marine animals can come to some harm. I’m sure people were imaging finding a turtle with its head stuck in beer can plastic and to set them free but this job just isn’t that glamorous.

After an hour or so Tim and myself had to start heading back home for other errands. We felt a little guilty for being the first ones to ‘throw in the towel’ but someone has to be. Our rubbish bag was weighed and we had picked up 1kg of litter between us. As there were 20 others there potentially another 10kg could have been removed from the beach as well. We had to litter pick only within a certain area as all of our data from our clipboards have been entered into the national database and will be part of the official results for 2017. Our organiser then said if we wished to pick up litter on our walk back to the car then feel free. Just tie the bag up and pop it near our meeting point for her to deal with later.


So we set off and thought we would litter pick on our way back. Its like a game, spot the litter. At first we were picking everything up we could see but I think we would still be there if we carried on the whole way. So we then had a rule of doing 20 steps between each pick. This definitely helped speed up our progress.

Once back to the meeting point we had possibly added another 1kg of rubbish to our bag. See evidence below.


No litter pick isn’t complete without an ice-cream enjoying the view before heading home.


Here Tim and I reflected on how enjoyable we found the morning. We had given back but also achieved something at the same time. We discussed how the weather would have been a major factor for our enjoyment levels but we are going to have a look at some other dates at other beaches. And next time we are taking our dog Albert!






Mental Health, Movement & Me

Okay ‘movement’ is essentially exercise but I like alliteration.

An important bucket list goal is to lose weight. A fair few stone in fact. This is so I can be in the correct weight limit to skydive PLUS look fabulous at 2 of my best friends weddings! Ok plus be healthy for my body blah blah blah.

Tim and I are doing this together as sadly my eating habits have rubbed off on him! We did no garlic bread for a month which we succeeded in. However we have probably made up for it throughout September. Especially as we’ve had it 2 nights in a row this week. And its only Wednesday. Whoops!

Tonight is the night we go to meet with a Personal Trainer! Eeeek

Well tonight we are doing one of his group sessions to go and see what he is like and whether we would work well with him. But potentially from October onwards we will have a PT session every week. Without fail.

I am hoping this will work. I have no self control when it come to food. I am emotionally attached to it. Reasons explained in Eating my emotions.

Also progress is measured in many different ways. Not only by weight on the scales but inches off certain body parts. Weight gain could be muscle gain. Plus there is a more hands on approach to helping me when I’ve had a bad week. At Slimming World I found staying to the sessions would help for that hour and then as soon as I got home I’d forget it all and binge eat. You know – treat night. This is not me saying that SW does not work. This is me saying it does not work for me! SW is not a diet it is a lifestyle. You have to stick to those foods and practises for the rest of your life to keep your weight off.

Now I understand that I may have to do that with my PT sessions, however I am hoping to still eat what I want when BUT in moderation. Also have some positive results each and every week. Even if it is I managed 2 more press ups within a minute than last week. The focus of ‘weight loss’ has been redirected from eating. And then because me and Tim are in this together there is no jealously over food. If I’m eating healthy then so is he!

It is said that exercise helps with mental health recovery. The endorphins you produce whilst running, jumping etc. reduces stress, makes you sleep better and improves memory. Even me waking up this morning and taking the dogs out for an early walk before work made me feel more refreshed and energised for the day. Therefore having someone who is behind me 100% and giving me 100% of his time towards me (yes ok Tim as well) will help boost me out of my mental health rut.

I have had plenty of message exchanges with our PT Mike. But that wont mean that I will make Tim walk into the hall first tonight and introduce ourselves. I gave him some background information about me as potentially I could be a really tricky customer. I told him about my anxiety and depression. He replied saying that he had just finished a course on those subjects and knows I will have good days and bad days. This made me relax a lot. As long as he knows what he is taking on then I’m all up for giving it a go.

I shall share my results and goals with you soon!


#5 Complete

I am now a proud business owner! Here is how I got to this point.

Way back in secondary school (junior high school for the Americans) you have to decide what you want to do when you grow up. That’s such a hard choice when at 14 you are worrying about shaving your leg hair for P.E. or stropping over your mum buying you the wrong school shoes.

Image result for teenage angst

So I made the decision then that I’d like to be a Sport Psychologist. I loved my sport and wanted to help the athletes be the best they could. I got good grades for me to go to College (high school for those over the pond) and here I chose the relevant subjects for this career path. Human Biology and Psychology. For a start, giving teenagers a substitute teacher is just bad news so it didn’t surprise me when my paper came back as Ungraded in Biology (it was a much harder syllabus and I admit I switched off and misbehaved).

Second year of College I had to choose another subject so I took Business Studies. Which I aced. It may have helped that me and a friend had to sit in with all the first years so we actually concentrated. Also by this point my friendships changed and my attitude changed towards the education system. You realise all your hard work at the previous school means jack shit! Plus I had myself a part time job and just passed my driving test. Money became more of a pull then essays and exams. I think I was working more than attending College by the time I left with some ad-hoc grades.

A huge topic is University (College in America) and personal statements. I had no interest whatsoever in going. I had no idea what career I wanted and Sports Psychologist was out the window. Therefore I made the decision to not go to Uni. I didn’t want to waste my parents money on something I wasn’t 100% committed to.

Fast forward by whizzing through ski seasons in Canada & Austria and then working in the leisure industry. Working behind the scenes with money at G4S in England and Ireland which ended up me being signed off sick with anxiety and depression. So even after 26 years I still hadn’t found my niche of what I wanted to do.

I do not regret not going to Uni. I’ve had my party days in different countries and cities with travel buddies and rugby pals. I earned myself some decent money to pay for luxury trips to different states in the USA including Hawaii, Thailand and Canada.  At interviews for jobs I’ve always been under qualified but my attitude and life experience has been the factor for me being the successful candidate. I think the interview panel get bored of hearing the same old shit. I know I would.

Whilst I was off work with mental illness you get a lot of time to think. Ok mostly overthink but on my better days I managed to come up with the idea of setting up a dog walking business. Dogs didn’t care what I looked liked. Dogs loved you no matter what. Walking would get me out in the fresh air. Walking would help me keep fit. I took my parents dog out for walks whilst I was off work and ventured out into the forest or down to the beach. The fresh air cleared my head and made me sleep well at night.

I got myself a job within walking distance to home, only part time, with no weekend or bank holiday working. Result. This has given me time to do some research into qualifications and how to set up a small business. I applied for a start up business loan which got approved and subsequently paid for my qualifications. See #16 Complete to find out more about those.

Next task was to think of a business name! I like play on words and alliteration. I had to be careful not to steal or copy a name of a business already working within the area. So this is where Tails & Trails of Totton came from. I now needed a logo for stationary and websites etc. I asked my sister in law Ness to help me out.


Ness is a fashion designer by trade, she designs clothing for Tog 24 and gets to visit Hong Kong a lot. Check out the website here https://www.tog24.com/
However she also designs stationary. For her wedding she managed to design her own wedding invites etc. and then got asked by friends to do theirs. She got herself into her local papers too. Go visit her stationary website http://www.beautiful-ink.co.uk/

As you can tell I’m a fan of orange. Personally I don’t think the colour I used enough. But anyway I chose this simple design as its straight to the point. So I started to set up my Facebook Page and Instagram Account – you know the most important things first. I then got myself some uniform to wear around my local area whenever I was working.


And so I started to advertise to my friends and family. Luckily I already had a dog that I walked every Friday which I had been visiting for the past year. Showing the bank managers I had a steady but obviously low income.

I decided to advertise my business over the summer holidays and hope for the best. I managed to get 3 new customers. Result. I looked after a 3 month old puppy called Arnold a puggle called Brutus and had a week long stay with a Heinz variety called Benji.

Kernow; my Friday friend

Arnold; the cutest puppy I’ve seen



I feel I am well on my way to building up a client base and have no doubts it will take me a while until I can dive deep into my venture and work with the dogs full time. I have a few more goals within my business to achieve as well so will keep you up to date.

In the mean time go follow my Instagram account totton_tails_trails for more pictures of my clients or even give my page a like on Facebook




I’m so excited to announce that my trip to Peru is booked!


I paid the deposits for Tim and I to travel from La Paz, Bolivia to Lima, Peru. Somewhere in the middle of it is the Inca Trail trek.

I did wonder as to whether this bucket list goal would be achievable but now that we have committed to paying the money, we have already spent our money more wisely and talked about where to save more. I’ve dreamt about going for so long and I know it is a popular travelling destination but I don’t care. I can say I’ve trekked to Machu Picchu with the sun rising on my face and maybe with a new llama friend named Augusto.

After much deliberation of whether we are fit enough to do the trek, we thought it would be the perfect goal for us to slim down (as well as the excuse of 2 weddings in 2019).

Any tips for the trek would be fabulous!


The countdown has begun……




Rome Top Tips

Rome Top Tips

If you had been reading a previous post (#17 Complete) here are my handy tips to travel Rome.


  1. Don’t book to go in the middle of August!
    Obviously we had a reason to be going on these dates but if you have no ties then go around May or September time. The temperatures are much cooler so more walking can be done in one day.
  2. If flying into Fiumicino Airport, grab the Leonardo Express train to Termini train station in the centre of Rome.
    Follow the signs in the airport, buy your ticket for 14euros and get it stamped. This is important.
    Image result for train ticket stamper rome
    Find one of these machines and pop it in. I have no idea what happens if you don’t stamp your ticket but better be safe than sorry. The train takes around 35 minutes and only stops at Termini. Plenty of luggage holders – although not stacked correctly by humans – and air conditioned carriages.
  3. Italian Metro
    Again very simple to use but its the tickets that I want to tell you about. You have a choice of many but we found that the 100 minute ticket for 1,50euros worked out the best. We did this because we would get the metro out to the furthest point and then walk back to our accommodation (ok we at least had this intention but the heat didn’t help). If you pay out for one of these tickets a day and you stay for a 4 day weekend you’d only spend 6euros. Its 7euros for a 24 hour ticket.
  4. Grab a free map
    This was our bible whilst sightseeing across the city. I got our free one from a guy in the train station terminal. He was rather helpful too. I did buy some maps for others and they cost 1euro each. But having this gives you an idea of how close everything is. A bit like London. You can take the underground from one place to another but you could walk it and see 3 other sights along your way. Don’t be afraid to deface it either. We had many lines, circles and crosses all over the place.
  5. Book Accommodation near a Metro
    This way it just seems so much easier going to and from places. See below the metro map.
    Image result for metro station map rome
  6. Coliseum Tickets
    So in my post about my holiday I mentioned about all the different companies offering you to skip the line and have a tour guide. These could cost 40euros per person. Whereas getting up early and queuing yourself could cost you 12euros per adult. The arena opens at 0830. I was queued out of the metal barriers at the end of the big noticeboard and it took me 20 minutes to get inside the stadium. We must have got there at 0815. If you want to commit and get first in line then you’ll be experiencing gladiator history in no time.
    Also note that the first Sunday of every month the Coliseum open up its doors for free. Tim and I checked out the queue for that on the Sunday and it did seem to be a little longer than normal.
  7. Da Vinci Museum
    Fee to enter was 11euros and to hire a headset was 3euros. You had to leave a 20euro deposit for the headset at the ticket office. The headsets are not necessary as many plaques with text in English are by every exhibit. Some of the exhibits are interactive so you can touch them and move them – so it would keep your kids interested for a while whilst you found out all the boring facts. Surprisingly there isn’t too much in the terms of souvenirs.
  8. Ice Bar 
    With our free map was an advert about the Ice Bar including an offer to get a second drink free. It does cost 15euros to enter which gets you a drink and the use of their coats. Once you come out of the bar you can not go back in. If you dress in long sleeved clothing and had jeans on (compared to my summer dress) you would be able to last in there for 2-3 drinks. In comparison to other ice bars I hear it is relatively small. But the range of cocktails was vast and very tasty. If you can afford to go or have never been before then pop on in.
  9. Baths of Caracalla
    It is just ruins at the end of the day but there are some nice grounds to go with it. If it were a much much cooler day then taking a picnic would have been a lovely idea (it was 4euros for one bottle of Fanta on the cart outside). This way you would have spent enough time to warrant the 8euro entrance fee. There was a big stage being built when we visited so if you researched into what shows they put on, you can always coincide with that.
  10. Gladiator School
    To book yourself onto this activity I went through Viator. The cost is around £50 per adult for a 2 hour session. Where it is based can be reached by taxi for convenience or it is a 1.5 mile walk south of the Coliseum. Fun for all the family. I would highly recommend. Also if you sign up to Viator’s emails they give you a discount for your order. I’ve let it run until after we got back from Rome and have unsubscribed.
  11. Vatican Tour
    Dark Rome is the company I booked this tour with. But the company itself was called City Wonders. Click on this link to see all their tours on offer https://citywonders.com/vatican-tours
    It is a little more expensive but to skip the long queues (potentially in the burning sun) is definitely worth it. The more in depth the tour is the more you’re likely to pay.
    Clothing wise, make sure you cover your shoulders and your knees!
  12. Castle St Angelo
    I pre-booked these tickets as well. It doesn’t take too long for tickets in the morning but by the time we finished our visit the queue was being monitored and reaching the bridge. The most expensive ticket is 14,50euros. Follow this link to find out more
  13. General Pointers
    Everything is in walking distance like London. You’ll be surprised by how much of the free activities you can see in a day.
    Beware of pickpockets on the Metro. Sometimes its just kids walking up and down the platform then not actually getting onto a train. There are also musicians playing and asking for money or just women and children beggars. Just wave them on.
    Around all of the main tourist attractions you’ll have people trying to sell you things like bracelets. They will ask you questions and be very complimentary towards you, just make sure you don’t accept anything from them. Tim jumped out of the way as guy said ‘catch’ when he threw a bracelet at him. Once you’ve got it, they expect you to pay whether you like it or not. The best line I had was ‘Are you from Africa?’ – yes I’m your white ass cousin. FUCK OFF. We even had the same man try it on with us for 3 days straight when we were getting on the Metro.
  14. Fountains
    Buy a thermos flask to take with you. Some of the fountains have drinkable water plus there are running taps around the city too. This saves you from buying water every few hours and downing it because its cold. This was a life saver whilst in the temperatures of 40+

I think that’s all the serious stuff I have to share with you. If you are interested in finding out how my trip went then check out #17 Complete.

#17 Complete

#17 Complete

I’m very happy to tick another goal off of my bucket list!

At the beginning of August I set off to Italy with Tim to do a weeks sightseeing in Rome! Normally we wouldn’t have gone in the middle of the school break but our friend started a cycle challenge called Rome 2 Home and thought it would be a great opportunity to see him off.

His challenge is to cycle from Rome all the way back to Southampton, UK. Approximately over 1,400 miles over 14 days. He is doing this with one other bloke raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity. To find out more about his challenge read my other blog post Rome 2 Home.

So Tim and I left Britain with blistering rain – typical when I didn’t take a jumper or coat – and landed in the heat of Italy. This year we had our first Airbnb experience. For those of you who don’t know, Airbnb is a website that loads up peoples rooms / homes / caravans etc. to rent for a holiday across the globe. It can turn out cheaper than many hotels plus self catering can also help save the pennies. Visit their website here

So after meeting our host to explain house rules and to hand over keys we rushed back out to take a picture of the Coliseum.

Image may contain: night and outdoor

I was very impressed by how close we actually were to this monument. But also happy to sleep so the next day would come even quicker.

The next morning we were in touch with our friends to plan to meet up. They offered us to go over to their camping village to use their pool. Thank fuck! As it was the bastard heat wave that’s been all over the news recently!

Image result for italy heatwave 2017

After a quick walk around our local area and some food shopping for the apartment we shot over to Roma Camping Village. We had to take the metro and then a taxi but it was well worth it to get ourselves in the pool for 4 hours. Some of you may know that I don’t do well in heat. Like at all. So this was my worst nightmare! Having to have sun cream on for a start – I hate my skin being sticky – plus just sweating from skin pores I didn’t even know existed, I was rather dazed when we finally made it there.
We had taken our Go Pro (definitely an impulse buy around Black Friday) and this would be the first time we had actually used it. But I can safely say it turned out to be rather handy in the water. After showers, beer and pizza it was time for us to head back into the city for some sleep.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, swimming, pool and outdoor

Friday 4th August saw all 10 of us venture around Rome doing as many free touristy sights possible. IN 44 DEGREE HEAT!!!!!! Celsius by the way – us Brits work in Celsius. Please see photographic evidence below…….

Image may contain: outdoor

We started off at the Coliseum to get photos for the Rome 2 Home families wearing their supporting polo shirts (us included). I was glad for a light colour in the heat but by 10am and maybe 10 minutes of standing, my shirt was drenched in sweat. The fact I could see many other people with their clothing items in the same state as mine made me feel much better. We then mooched on to the Roman Forum, Alter of the Fatherland, Trajan’s Column, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.  With many stops for water, ice cream, lunch, slushies and crisps.

We had four children with us who were becoming tired, irritable and generally not coping with the heat. I nearly joined in with Charlie when he cried as he was just so hot! I didn’t blame him for his little meltdown at all. But as a group of 10 you seemed to spur each other on to the next corner or monument. We parted ways at the Spanish Steps as I had hit a wall with walking and the heat plus the Rome 2 Home families were planning on heading back to their pool (bastards) as well. A quick metro ride back to our apartment and I could have hugged the air con unit for being a life saver. A home cooked meal of BBQ chicken with some kind of melon risotto (it was in Italian so who knew what it was) a few good luck messages to the families with the cycle ride and a power cut later, took us to the end of day 2.

Saturday’s temperatures were just as high as the previous days and we were planning to do more touristy things! How British! So by 8am Tim and I were out the door and queuing to go in to see around the Coliseum. You have everyone walking up to you and asking if ‘you speak English?’ or ‘are you going to the Coliseum today?’ IGNORE THE BASTARDS. These guys are selling tickets for other tour companies to show you around the stadium for a more expensive price and the all important queue jump. Just try and not swear or punch them like I really wanted to. You also have men shoving bottles of cold water in your face too. Good if you’re in desperate need of something but there are many other ways around it. Please see my Rome Top Tips entry to find out details.

We got into the Coliseum within 20 minutes. This was through security checks – please don’t be like the guy at the airport who has to unpack their WHOLE BASTARD bag to get their laptop out and then walks through to still set the alarms off because they forgot to take their belt off – Jeez! Take the least amount of stuff as possible. We wanted to originally do the third level tour and the underground tour. But the first available time was midday. This was going to break up our day and our plans so we decided just a normal ticket would suffice.


We managed to get a lot of photos of the arena and there are plaques that you can read for snippets of information. As I was still adjusting to the hottest temperatures of the year my mind was not in the mood for reading. However everyone knows what happened here though so I felt paying a tour guide to tell me specific numbers of gladiators who won or died here was a little unnecessary. Call me cynical but I can also Google it for my scrapbook.

On to the Roman Forum next! The ticket they give you will make the turnstiles unlock for the amount of people in your party. So I wasn’t quick enough to get through the second turnstile from our ticket being scanned and ended up with the turnstile spearing into my thigh. There are many ruins in this area from different buildings for different people blah blah blah. Again I was hot and didn’t want to read many signs. We got ourselves to the top of Palantine Hill where there are beautiful views over Rome. I then shot a video of me doing my tae kwon do pattern on top of the hill with the Coliseum in the background. I did this because my instructor shot a video of him and his daughter doing some set sparring whilst away for a weekend in Devon. So I thought I’d join in and practise whilst in Rome and share with my club. I could have done it with more power but again to pass out in this heat it just wasn’t worth it.

Next stop was Altar of the Fatherland again but this time to go inside and explore. This parliament building took me by surprise. I didn’t know what it was before going but seeing it in person it was beautiful. Clean, crisp shapes and many statue to impress. We got to take the lift to the top and again see more views over the lovely City of Rome.

After a cool down back at the apartment for lunch and a nap – yes I’m still like a toddler. We caught the Metro up to visit the Piazza del Popolo. One of the many scenes from the film Angels & Demons.

A quick de-tour to see what the River Tiber was like and back into the bustle of Roman streets to the Spanish Steps. This time we climbed them to the top and visited the church.


A walk off to the right of the church took us to see Bernini’s triton fountain and then onto the Four Fountains (each at a corner of a crossroad junction) where Tim and I hid in the shade and dipped our wrists into the water to help cool off. Water may have gone over our heads and across the backs of our necks too. I tell you it was necessary.

By walking through the streets you see many different sized shops selling a variety of produce. By chance we found a cheaper area of the city. Water was 50cents per bottle rather than 2 euros! So coming across a supermarket meant we did a bit more shopping for the apartment for more homemade dinners. Plus we were drinking twice as much as normal too so juice and fizzy were already running low. We took our shopping to the Piazza della Repubblica to see the Naiadi fountain where we spotted this church.


The Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli de Martiri. Or as I like to call it the church with the BIG ASS NAME.

It looks like nothing but we thought as we were here, tick it off the list of things we’ve seen. Inside was HUGE. It took me by surprise. There was a massive domed atrium first then it went into the cross shaped church. You could have fit tens of thousands of people in there. Just look at how big the organ has to be for people to hear the tune to the hymn they would sing on a Sunday.

I also spotted this man above drawing one of the statues – rather well I may add. I wanted to talk to him and tell him his work was great but my confidence got the better of me and plus the language barrier. In my head I was imaging a Humans of New York Instagram moment. But boy am I glad to have been intrigued by this church. Another quick metro back to put our groceries away, another meal in and a few games of travel Connect 4 whilst watching a film in Italian, our Saturday came to an end.

Sunday bought us more sunshine so we opted for shade. We took to exploring the Villa Borghese park. We never actually made it to the villa itself – whoops. Walking through the tree lined paths we found the National Gallery of Modern & Contemporary Art and Villa Giulia. We then came across a lake known as the Laghetto where you could row boats. I jumped at the chance!


I don’t think Tim liked that the man had to steer the boat but I definitely didn’t make too much effort to swap with him. Within the water are turtles who get fed by locals and tourists plus some seagulls. Another Go Pro opportunity here so I videoed our adventure around the Temple of Aesculapius and even dipped the camera underwater to see what was there. I still haven’t checked out that footage yet! You pay for a 20 minute stint. It doesn’t take you that long to circumnavigate the lake. Unless you suck at rowing. I’m sure if there were queues of people waiting then they would call you back to shore but today the staff didn’t really seem to mind.

After that we headed back to Piazza del Popolo, went into the church and visited the Leonardo Da Vinci Musuem. What a clever man! He managed to be so many things in one lifetime—painter, engineer, architect and scientist. Back in the 1400’s! These days kids get medals for taking part in things. This was the first time where Tim and I paid for headsets. It meant I didn’t have to concentrate on reading plus I didn’t know too much about the man. It turns out he has over 6,000 pages of work (known as codices) all in his own mirror script. He also dissected humans (once passed away) to make detailed drawings of the human body. To the church this practise of dissembling the human body were seen to be a sin. But without this man we would be living a different life now hundreds of years on.

Pizza stop for lunch with the view of the Piazza before heading over the river Tiber. We came across another beautiful church – Scared Heart of Suffrage. With its high gothic nature I naturally wanted to go inside and explore more. However due to it being a Sunday, it was all locked up. So we moved swiftly onto the Palace of Justice.

This was magnificent. Just the detailing of the sculptures, the symmetry of everything and the grandeur place of where it stood at the mouth of a bridge was great. Next was Piazza Navona; another place featured in the film Angels and Demons, plus the famous Fiumi fountain.

As you can see from the pictures above, the piazza looks almost deserted. This is only because everyone was taking shelter in the shade. I was hot and bothered by this point again so my enthusiasm to get different pictures was rather low due to having to stand out in the sun. Tim and I discussed that we shall catch a taxi back again sometime soon. Before finding the taxi rank we visited another church (mostly because I knew it would be cool inside) and found the ‘City of Cats’ but I think it was even too hot for the cats as I never caught a glimpse of any.

I proclaimed my love to the air con unit once again, rehydrated, ate some snacks, had a nap, showered and started to feel normal once again. On our free map from a stranger by the train station, there was an advert for the Ice Bar. Tim and I had never been to one and we were a minutes walk away so we thought why not. Going from +40 degree heat to -15 was bliss to start with. Even with the coats provided, after about 20 minutes I was cold (not that I wanted to admit it). Obviously everything is made out of ice – Tim had to touch a wall just to be sure. The sculptures in there were great and the barman very friendly and good banter. After many photos and finishing off our drinks we went for dinner.

Last year whilst driving around France myself and Tim decided to have a posh romantic evening out in Monaco. I got all dressed up in a black dress with heels and found ourselves sitting in a restaurant with views of the open ocean. Again we had problems with our French and couldn’t really understand the menu. I ordered steak tartare and Tim some fish. I thought it a little weird that I wasn’t asked how I liked my steak cooked. Low and behold it was raw minced meat. I had mistaken steak tartare with steak Rossini (steak with pate) so it was safe to say I didn’t eat too much of it and had to lie to the waiter that I was full up when ask what was wrong. So that night ended up with me walking home barefoot and grabbing a takeaway pizza to eat in my hotel bed.

Sorry I digress, the point to that story is that we don’t do posh. Its just not in our nature. We decided as we had showered and dressed up that tonight would be a good night to eat out. Conveniently the restaurant opposite the Ice Bar had plenty of tables.  We sat down and looked through the menu. I think Italian is possibly the best cuisine for me as I like the most variety in this category (no steak tartare in sight). This time is was Tim that was turning his nose up at things and ended up ordering a burger. *insert monkey see no evil emoticon here*
I ordered the traditional suppli (rice ball stuffed with tomato sauce) for starter (which Tim then ate half of!!!!) and then a duck gnocchi for main. It was delicious. All the other couples were there ordering wine and looking romantically at each other whereas we were there taking pictures like this……..


After a good nights sleep we set off walking towards our gladiator school lesson! We chose a path through some shaded gardens south of the Coliseum. We found two more churches on our way – one we didn’t enter due to lots of singing – knowing our luck we would have just ruined a wedding or something. We eventually made it to the ruined Baths of Caracalla. This place was mostly deserted due to the raging heat but anyone who were there were scurrying towards the next bit of shade as quick as they could.  I enjoyed the grandeur of these ruins. The original mosaic floor was nice and you had diagrams showing you where some original rooms were. I was just wishing that they would fill with cool water at any second. Alas I left dry and sweaty.


Next a shaded walk to Piramide and Porta San Paolo, mostly for pictures as our time to get to our gladiator lesson crept closer. A short taxi ride away and we ad made it. Some plonker *points finger at herself* booked the lesson at 1pm. When the sun is at its most hottest. Even our instructor said that we must be mad. In my defence how was I supposed to know that it was going to be hotter than hell when I booked this activity? Plus I was thinking we would want a lie in on holiday so not to book the activities too early. Never mind. We ate some lunch and tried to hydrate whilst waiting for more people to join us. No one came. Mostly backing up my silly decision but it did mean that we had our instructor all to ourselves.

First off was the Roman Gladiator Museum. This was just some outhouses put together with lots of memorabilia that I presume the family / staff had collected. Our bloke knew his stuff. I was hooked. He was engaging, told jokes and even allowed us to try on old helmets…..

Next was learning how to fight. Well after the warm up! Safe to say I didn’t need to do it too many times as I was already rather warm. We were given wooden swords and he took us through defensive skills step by step. I felt rather natural due to my martial arts experience. He would show us counterattacks if we did it wrong which I found rather funny – due to the sound effects he put with them. However even at tae kwon do I laugh every time I spar and get hit. I need to teach myself to become more serious. He left us to practise on each other for a while so we set up our Go Pro to catch some of our moves. See results below.

It then turned into point scoring.  Naturally our competitive sides came out and a few hits may have been illegal. We had been given softer swords and shields by this point though. I tried my best but Tim won. We got our certificates which I will treasure forever. I had a blast.


Talking to Mr Gladiator man (I never caught his name) we found out that the premises that they have is rented. The local council are not interested in teaching this history to their children and nor do they want to fund it. He also organises proper staged fights in the Roman Forum every year with thousands of people participating and watching. He encouraged us to go, which I would if we could. He also told us about the after school clubs he does with kids who train the old techniques and they get given old style armour too. I thoroughly enjoyed his company, knowledge and laughter. I would highly recommend to all age ranges to check it out.

**Don’t forget to read through my Rome Top Tips to find out more**

A walk back to the apartment through the Aurelian walls and past the Coliseum meant it was time to cool off and chill out for the rest of the day. We had a home cooked meal and an early night ready for the last adventure tomorrow.

0545 wake up call this morning. Safe to say we had gotten used to naturally waking up this week. But we had a tour booked in Vatican City of the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and the underground Crypts at 0720. Once we had found our meeting point, been given stickers and headsets (to amplify our guides voice) we queued to get into the smallest country in the world. There are lots of turnstiles and security to go through – so again don’t be annoying and bring everything with you there’s no need. We walk up some steps and out into a courtyard where you have a view of St Peter’s dome.


Our guide (whose name I cant remember – I need to work on this skill) was telling us all about Michelangelo and his works. Also a leaflet we were given showed the breakdown of each segment of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and the wall with his painting of the Last Judgement. I found it rather interesting as I knew nothing about the Vatican, only snippets like the white smoke to elect a Pope and watching Angels and Demons.  We then moved on to a whistle stop tour of the Vatican Museum Halls. We saw the gallery of tapestries and the hall of maps. These in itself were impressive, the ceiling designs, the original tapestries and the paintings of the maps themselves.

Following our guide down and around some steps we entered the Sistine Chapel, the piece de resistance, through the door of hell of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement wall. HOLY COW. What a place! I think my neck ached from looking up so much. I can see why millions of people visit this every year. Its definitely worth seeing once in your lifetime.
Image result for wall paintings in sistine chapel

Image result for sistine chapel ceiling

I have used pictures off the internet here because you aren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the chapel. In the museums beforehand you could but with no flash so the paintings and tapestries were not ruined. I did sneakily take some using the forwarded facing camera and pointed it upwards but the quality isn’t that great.

I took a religion quiz the other day. Possibly not the most legitimate way of finding out what category I am under the religion umbrella but my result was pretty accurate. I am an agnostic atheist. The definition from Wikipedia is as follows;

Agnostic atheism is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism.

Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

The agnostic atheist may be contrasted with the agnostic theist, who believes that one or more deities exist but claims that the existence or nonexistence of such is unknown or cannot be known.

So I believe there could be some ultimate being but I need proof plus I don’t think the world was made in 7 days I believe more in Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. I know religion is the probably the worst subject to talk about along with politics but I ask people not to judge.

BUT being in that small chapel just sitting and looking at all the stories on every inch of the walls and ceiling its hard to not re-think. Due to its beauty I think it engulfs people into their own belief system especially because of the silence, I feel it adds to the experience. I think if I was younger, brought up in a very religious Roman Catholic family that attended church and I was questioning my belief, this would seal it.

After our allotted time in the chapel our tour group split. Some went off to do the rest of the museum rooms within the Vatican and others moved on to St Peter’s Basilica. We were part of the latter group. We walked down the same staircase as the Pope does through to a courtyard. Our tour guide stopped us and she talked now about the history of St Peter’s. Catholic tradition states that the church is the burial site of St Peter, one of Christ’s Apostles and also the first Pope. This church is also the biggest in the world! Second largest is St Paul’s Cathedral in London. We made our way around to the entrance after being told flashes on cameras were allowed again and that only priests can talk within the church. I think this is due to how early we entered our tour. Once normal entrances open is when tour guides can talk and give facts. Again my neck hurt from looking skywards so much. There is just minute details everywhere you look. First item of interest is the sculpture of Pieta, it depicts the body of Jesus on his mother Mary’s lap after the crucifixion.  It is the only thing that Michelangelo signed. Due to a man attacking the statue with a hammer in the 1970s was it then placed behind bullet proof glass. There is a bronze statue of St Peter himself but his feet have been worn down. This is due to pilgrim’s kissing or rubbing his feet for protection.  

You can see the orange glow from the Dove of the Holy Spirit at the back of the basilica. Due to it still be early, other barriers had been put up for tourists to not go too near as nuns and clergymen were still praying. St Peter’s Baldachin is a very prominent feature this is over the top of the Apostles’ tomb. We spotted our guide and she told us why we could now use our flashes on cameras – all the paintings were mosaics. You had to look really closely but you could see the teeny tiny squares composing the full portraits. We then descended down into the crypts underneath the church floor. This is where many pope’s tombs are kept. For protection St Peter’s is kept away from tourists with bullet proof glass and strictly no pictures in this part whatsoever. We were directed to the front of the church with the view of St Peter’s Square where our tour came to an end. All done by 0930.


The square is huge. Plus directly in the sun. The queues for normal entry was miles long and all those poor buggers didn’t have any shade. I was glad to have spent that extra money on this excursion. A pit stop to buy some postcards and stamps for my scrapbook then we headed towards the obelisk to see the wind rose – another recognisable item from Angels and Demons. We left Vatican country and heading back into Rome towards the castle.


Tim and I love a castle. This one hasn’t got many fancy turrets but what you pay for was well worth the visit. There is a kind of one way system which takes you up the castle and exploring different floors until you reach the roof. Again spectacular views of the city – just so darn hot in the direct sun! You then work your way down to an air conditioned museum. Definitely took the edge off. You exit the castle to the side of the main entrance over looking the bridge of angels. So we headed back over to look at the bridge and to take plenty of photos.

Everywhere I travel to I get a tattoo to commemorate the trip. I’ve got about a three quarter sleeve. I kind of cheated and researched what to have before I went over there –  you know to definitely say I’ve seen it. One of the Angels is my next idea. I already have a St Christopher on my shoulder and I didn’t want to be too predictable and have the Coliseum. However a fountain on the outside of the Altar of the Fatherland is appealing to me now too. Help me decide!!!

Anyway after seeing the bridge of Angels I was done. I had had enough with the sun and wanted to sit down. Tim agreed so we shot back to our apartment before midday. We grabbed some refreshments to rehydrate and told ourselves we would wait a little while until we went out for some lunch. We discussed how bad we were getting everyday regarding our tolerance to the heat. It must have been really draining us. Next thing I know I’m running to the toilet to bring up my cool drink I had just inhaled. Oh Joy. So that meant I spent the next hour in bed trying to recover and making sure I could keep food or drink down. After some salted crisps making me feel better we headed out for our last lunch. We only walked 500 yards. I think we were determined to spend the least amount of time out as possible.  We hurried back and stayed out of the sun until 1800. Thinking it would be cooler (more fool us) we headed out for an evening stroll to the Capitoline Museum and across Tiber Island. A drink and small ice cream stop later, we made it to our desired restaurant, an American Diner. Yes look how cultural we were being! I didn’t care I had a great steak with jacket potato and I was fully satisfied afterwards. *burps*

Wednesday came and it meant we were heading home.

I felt relieved to be leaving the heat but not the City. It is very quirky and had plenty on offer to see. If I ever go back it would only be for a couple of days just to relive the ambiance.

Don’t forget to check my Rome Top Tips for more detailed information on activities.



#18 Complete

#18 Complete

This morning I decided to make a Kiva loan. I’ve just been paid and was feeling generous.

A quick run through of a Kiva loan is you can lend people money for different projects across the world. Once they reach their target they then have a time length to pay back the money you lent them. I can then decide to transfer my money back out into my own account or reinvest it.

I have helped Zakayo from Molo, Kenya to purchase a water tank and water pipes for his farm. Read more of his story here: https://www.kiva.org/lend/1323318
The reason for sponsoring Zakayo was pretty simple. He only needed $50 to go. So I have been able to complete his loan which makes me feel rather happy.

I now have a portfolio on the Kiva website. It keeps track of who you’ve lent money to. There are 78 different countries I could help. So my aim is to pick a loan from each of these countries before I withdraw my money. This may take a while but I now know directly who my money is helping.

I’m giving myself a pat on the back for doing a good deed.

To find out more information on giving a Kiva loan yourself follow this link: https://www.kiva.org/