Happy Birthday, Alfred!

These are my grandparents – Alfred and Edna – on their wedding day in the 1940’s. Today marks what would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday. He was a true gentleman – kind, highly intelligent and enormously funny – and while he passed away in 1997 he remains as one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. I think about him regularly, and despite the fact that I have often conflicting spiritual beliefs I take comfort in the idea that he is watching over us all. 

Happy birthday Granddad xx 

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Travel and Money-Saving Tips When Visiting Dubrovnik

Planned and booked in advance, flights can be extremely cheap. We booked in November to travel in June with EasyJet, flying from London Luton to Dubrovnik for just £75 return. The flight from Luton took just under 2 1/2 hours.

By law, the relevant regulations of Croatia means that the provider of accommodation services in a hospitality facility is obliged to collect and record the personal data of each person using those accommodation services. Essentially, the place where you stay will take a note of your passport and travel details. You don’t have a choice in this. Continue reading

How to Do a Blogging Mid-Year Check-In

Simple Ideas for a Mid-Year Blogging Check-In

As July has seemingly appeared from nowhere it occurred to me yesterday that over half a year has slipped by.

I’ve never really focused on a mid-year check-in before. I actively track my stats, growth and client data every month in my Bullet Journal which allows me to see progress over a long period of time, but any goals and plans I usually set are long-term (often with a deadline of twelve months) and

At the point where I decided to take blogging more seriously I had two goals that were my sole focus: to replace my teaching job with my own social media business, and to hit a million views, and I worked incredibly hard to achieve them. Once I had done both, it was almost like the fire went out – I made the crucial mistake of not setting something meaningful to work on. Admittedly, I took my foot off the gas, sat back and coasted along because, quite frankly, it was easy to stay in my comfort zone and within the deliriously happy little bubble that I had built for The Bloke and I.

This year, things have felt a little different. I’ve been quite open about the fact that I have found the process of blogging more difficult and have made several attempts to intentionally regroup and rebuild to get back to the place I was in, but with little success. As bloggers, when stats and numbers become important and we find ourselves at the mercy of social media and search engine algorithms it has felt like a constant battle and frequent addition of new strategies to try and adapt to the changes that are regularly thrown at us, seemingly with little impact.

I set goals in January (as I always do each year), but while my brain felt that these goals were realistic and achievable, my motivation clearly wasn’t as enthusiastic. I’ve done well when working for others and my social media business continues to grow, but when examining my own 2019 plans from a mid-point perspective, I’m nowhere near where I wanted (or, indeed) expected to be because I don’t have the same passion for developing my own content and direction than I do for my clients, I’m easily distracted and I’m a terrible procrastinator.

So, what to do? An easy option would be to give up and start again next year, but I was reminded recently that there’s still six months of the year left. Surprisingly, this realisation has given me the jolt that I think I finally needed.

Want to Complete a Mid-Year Check-In?

Don’t get stuck in a cycle of criticising yourself unfairly or use it as an excuse to quit. This exercise is not for the purpose of admonishing yourself for perceived failure.

The key to a mid-year review is honesty. One of the phrases that I follow closely is something that my mother uses frequently: there’s the real truth, and the truth we want to believe because it feels better. Be brutally honest with what you have already achieved, and look closely at why you are or aren’t meeting your own expectations or the goals you have set yourself.

Simplify and streamline. I have lots of goals. Tons of them. While I think it’s a positive thing to have a variety of dreams to work towards, it isn’t realistic to do everything all at once. Make sure that your goals are relevant to your priorities and are motivational. I’ve re-examined and now set myself just one goal to work towards until the end of the year, and that will remain my sole focus.

Identify distractions and establish rewards. What became evidently clear when I was examining the last six months was that I had gone off in lots of different directions after becoming distracted with other things that had temporarily sparked my interest. Furthermore, I discovered that large amounts of my daily time was wasted by things that I do purely because I enjoy them – new TV shows, flat lays, trips out etc – rather than focusing on the things that I find difficult. Unfortunately, the things I find difficult are usually the things I need to do in order to progress, so I am going to start each day with doing the more challenging things first, and have put a reward system in place.

Remove the barriers. Where possible, get rid of the negative that is getting in your way, be it people, objects or personal thoughts and fears. I’ve been working on something for 18 months and this came to a halt a few months ago simply because of the fear of the response I may get from it, which has never happened before. I’ve spent the last few weeks removing everything that I deem to be toxic, and have incorporated my new direction to continue my project into my checklist for the month.

Get yourself an accountability buddy. I have two, and I check in with them almost daily. They call me out on any nonsense or excuses I have, offer advice and ideas and are my biggest cheerleaders.

From this point, keep going every single day. Whether it is half-an-hour or half-a-day you have in which to work on something, sit down and do as much as you can. Every little point is a step forwards.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and you can also find me on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaksand my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

Things to See and Do in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Things to See and Do in Dubrovnik 3

In June I was lucky enough to travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the first time. As a huge Game of Thrones fan I had been eager to visit for a while, but nothing prepared me for how spectacularly beautiful it was. Steeped in history, clean, safe and with population of friendly and lovely people, it’s an absolute must-see.

While isn’t possible to see everything in just a single trip, here are a few highlights that may help when planning a future vacation of your own.

Explore Old Town. Renowned for being one of the most beautifully preserved medieval cities in the world, Old Town in Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After undergoing huge renovations to restore it to its original magnificence following the civil war of the 1990’s, the city is a traffic free zone, impressively clean and an absolutely stunning place to see. With historical sights including palaces, churches, palaces and museums, the city also has a wide variety of markets, cafes, bars and restaurants serving local and international cuisine. If possible, try and visit both Old Town during the day and again at night. Many places have late opening times during the tourist season, and it is a spectacular atmosphere in the glorious sunshine and when lit up at night. For the best of both, time your visit a few hours before sunset – you won’t be disappointed!

Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik

The roofs of Old Town

Enter through Pile Gate: The beautiful stone bridge leads into the west side of Old Town and down the steps into the Stradun, the main promenade of Old Town. (It’s worth noting that there is also a ramp at the section, making it accessible for wheelchair users). During busier times of the year, this area is divided into two sections in which visitors walk on the right. Click on the images for the full view:

Sit by the Large Onofrio’s Fountain. This fountain is situated in between Pile gate and Stradun. Embellished by 16 stone masks and containing 16 water taps, it was designed and constructed by Italian architect Onofrio di Giordano della Cava. During hot weather, it’s a brilliant place to sit and cool down.

The Stradun in Old Town Dubrovnik

The Stradun in Old Town Dubrovnik

Walk down Stradun. Completely pedestrianised, Stradun is the main street in Old Town, stretching from Pile Gate to the Old Town port. It was once a channel that separated the small island from which Dubrovnik was built on from the mainland, but was filled and now acts as the main promenade and all routes around Old Town lead to this area. Filled with cafes, stores and restaurants and an absolutely beautiful place to walk down later at night as the sun is setting. Be aware that the prices of things will be more expensive along here, and during the main tourist seasons it will be filled with people.

Walk the Walls of Dubrovnik. Open from 8.00am until 7.30pm every day, the Walls of Dubrovnik (Murrales de Dubrovnik) are one of the most spectacular ways to see Old Town and beyond, offering stunning views of the  terracotta roofs, Fort Lovrijenac, neighbouring islands and Adriatic Sea. They are considered to be one of the greatest fortifications of the Middle Ages, and cost 200kn (about £24) to visit. It is worth noting that during the intense heat of summer there is very little shade, so ensure that you are well hydrated. For more information, visit here. 

Admire The Old Pharmacy and Cloisters at the Franciscan Monastery. Open every day from 9.00am – 6.00pm, the Old Pharmacy is one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe and is still in use today. The magnificent 14th-century cloisters can be found next to it, consisting of rows of elegant double-pillared columns encircling the Monastery’s inner courtyard. It costs just 5 kuna to enter and tickets can be purchased on the day. Click on the images for the full view:

Walk up the Jesuit Stairs. Any Game of Thrones fan will know the significance of this and expect to hear the word ‘shame’ spoken by tourists at least ten times during your visit. These beautiful baroque stairs can be found next to the Gundulićeva Poljana in Old Town and lead up to the 17th-century Jesuit College and Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Explore Fort Lovrijenac and Dubrovnik West Harbour. The fort was built about 1000 years ago in an effort to protect the city from potential Venetian invaders. Like many areas of Dubrovnik, expect lots of steps to access the building, as it sits about 120 ft. above the water. Entrance to the Fort is 50 kn, but if you have purchased a ticket to walk the Walls of Dubrovnik, entrance is free – just keep the ticket from the Wall and show it upon entrance to the Fort. It offers spectacular views of Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, and is the setting of numerous scenes from Game of Thrones. The West Harbour below has stunning clear waters and is also a beautiful place to see the Fort.

Fort Lovrijenac and Dubrovnik West Harbour

Fort Lovrijenac and Dubrovnik West Harbour

Book a Game of Thrones Tour. As the home of Kings Landing, Dubrovnik has numerous filming locations that can be easily accessed on foot. Our tour guide had worked on Game of Thrones from Seasons 2-8 and was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the show (and indeed the film industry in the city), explaining how even short scenes are put together using different locations in the same buildings.

Watch the sunset from Park Gradac. Just a ten minute walk from Old Town and offering amazing views of the Walls, Fort Lovrijenac and the Adriatic Sea, Parc Gradac a very quiet area, populated seemingly only by locals walking their dogs and a lovely escape from the busy Old Town areas (and its particularly stunning at sunset). For Game of Thrones fans, it served as the location of Joffrey’s death at the Purple Wedding.

 

Relax at Gruž Port. This is located about 3km west from Old Town, and is one of the main entrances to Dubrovnik for tourists as the main ferry and cruise ports and bus station are situated here. With lots of shops, cafes, information offices and small parks to explore, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day relaxing or indulging in some retail therapy. To get to Old Town from Gruž, take the number 1 or 3 bus – it takes approximately 10 minutes.

Take the Cable Car up to Mount Srd. For panoramic views of Old Town and beyond, the five-minute journey in the orange cable car whisks visitors up to Mount Srd. It’s not particularly cheap, costing about 170kn for a round trip adult ticket, but well worth it from all the positive reviews! Note: This attraction was closed when I visited, but I wanted to include this for future visitors…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and you can also find me on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

Suzie Does Aerobics…

I think I may have done something that I may possibly regret in the immediate future…

I’ve signed up for a low impact aerobics class.

Oh dear.

My weight has been a source of frustration for years. In my youth I exercised almost every day – I swam for a club, played on badminton teams, reached my brown belt in karate – and as a result I was strong, slim and could eat and wear whatever I wanted with little thought. Continue reading

Tales from Behind the Bar…

Warning: NSFW.

Of all of the jobs I’ve held over the years, one of my favourites was working behind the bar in different pubs and nightclubs. Of course, any job that involves dealing with the British public (particularly when alcohol is involved) is always challenging, but despite it being a physically and mentally exhausting, I absolutely loved it. I loved the staff, the interaction with the customers, the music, the atmosphere, the DJ’s – on a good night it was almost like being paid for a night out with my favourite people.

After a few years I found that the same characters appeared in every establishment: Continue reading

Kylie Minogue and a Brand New Month

Last night I watched the Kylie Minogue set at Glastonbury on TV. I love music – my degree is in the subject – and it has been one of the biggest influences throughout most of my life, but while I’ve been to see plenty of my favourite bands live in concert, I’m not a fan of festivals and generally don’t watch them.

However, I’ve got a soft spot for Kylie. I adored her as Charlene in Neighbours in the late 80’s, absolutely wetting myself with excitement when Charlene married Jason Donovan’s ‘Scott.’ So much so, in fact, that I wanted to walk down the aisle to the song that was used during the wedding scene – ‘Suddenly’ by Angry Anderson – when The Bloke and I were planning our wedding a few years ago. He wasn’t impressed with the idea, but it still remains one of my favourite songs. Continue reading

The Boy is Back

The cat looks rather handsome with his yellow and pink piggy bandage

Two weeks: 

  • Three long distance train journeys, 
  • Two flights, 
  • One long distance coach trip, 
  • Six taxi journeys 
  • Eight tube rides, 
  • Climbed at least 1000 steps,
  • Walked eight miles in one day,
  • A holiday in Dubrovnik 
  • A weekend in London,
  • A trip to IKEA,
  • Half a Sixpence at the Alexandra Theatre,
  • A visit to Martineau Gardens,
  • Two vets and a forty-eight hour stay for the cat at the veterinary hospital,
  • A follow-up consult at the doctors.

Continue reading

A Difficult Day

Looking a bit special

Yesterday sucked. 

I’ve noticed that the cat hasn’t seemed himself over the last few days, particularly in the fact that he’s been drinking more than usual, so when he suddenly developed a weakness in his back legs we booked him into the vets. I was worried that he had developed diabetes – his sister had Type 1 which we treated for years with twice daily injections – so I also requested he have his bloods tested as an extra precaution.  Continue reading

Half a Sixpence at the Alexandra Theatre

Flash, Bang, Wallop! 

The Bloke and I were invited to see the BMOS Musical Theatre Company performance of Half a Sixpence at The Alexandra Theatre this week. 

A much-loved musical comedy based on the novel Kipps by H.G. Wells, Half a Sixpence tells the story of how suddenly inheriting a fortune can confuse everything you thought you knew about life.  Continue reading