A Weekend in Manchester and Some Personal Time

It’s been a while since I blogged without purpose. I’ve missed it – the act of writing has always been therapeutic. On a personal level I’ve been busier than ever – I’ve met a whole bunch of brilliant people and my workload has reached capacity, which is amazing, but the downside of this is there’s little time for doing nothing.

I received a message from my friends from 6th form to meet up for a meal in Manchester – we have known each other for over twenty years and have stayed in contact, meeting up every so often to catch up. They’re a great group of women – all are doing well for themselves with families and jobs, and I love the fact that even though I don’t see or speak to them for months at a time, we slip back into conversation as though I had seen them yesterday.

I decided to make an extended trip out of it and booked myself into a hotel room for the night. To my recollection there has only been a single time I’ve done that during the time The Bloke and I have been together (which was when he had a minor heart operation) so the concept was somewhat of a novelty, despite the fact that The Bloke is more than supportive of any time I want to myself. Continue reading

40 Before 40: The Bucket List

40 Before 40 The Bucket List

When I first left my job to become self-employed I created a Bucket List. Some of it consisted of small goals that were designed to push myself forward in my new career path, while others were seemingly far more outrageous and frivolous at the time, being included in a ‘pipe dream’ section at the end.

Rather unexpectedly I managed to complete the entire list, with the final item being ticked off after I had the chance to meet Dolph Lundgren – my ultimate celebrity crush of 30+ years – in December 2017. However, since then I haven’t really focused on major goals, instead choosing to go from day to day with little direction other than getting through the month ahead.

In November I turned 38 and so I decided that I would create a 40 Before 40 Bucket List – 40 things to see, do and achieve before I turn 40 years old – in which I have just under two years to complete. I’ve seen quite a few of them online and after a period of time of feeling like I have little direction this seemed like the perfect solution: acknowledge what I want to do… and do it. By putting it in a public forum I am making myself accountable to not only myself, but for those who read and follow Suzie Speaks regularly. Continue reading

2019: A Year in Review

As I was creating my Bullet Journal spreads at the beginning of the year I decided to incorporate a Memories and Highlights page, not only to keep track of all the positive things that I experienced, but also to serve as a gratitude list. I have diligently filled it in all year.

It turned out to be invaluable. I haven’t particularly felt like I have enjoyed this year very much and my mental health has been low at times, but being able to look at an entire page of experiences, events and things that have brought joy to my daily life has successfully served as a reminder of how much fun I’ve had and how lucky I am. Granted, there have been a few things personally and professionally that haven’t been pleasant, but these have been far outweighed by the positive.

Here are just some of the fantastic things that have happened in 2019… Continue reading

Christmas Silliness at the German Market

The German Christmas Market arrived back in Birmingham a few weeks ago. Over the years it has become a source of debate among the locals (of which, after nearly 20 years of living in the city I now consider myself to be a part of). Like Marmite it is both loved and loathed in equal measure, with the call for the now duplicated stalls to be replaced by some of the many incredible independents that the city has.

I’ve never been one to stand around in the crowd to drink Gluwein, but I do try and visit at least once a year. I like the atmosphere, the lights and – of course – a rather massive German sausage followed by chocolate and banana crepe and some of those yummy mallow chocolate-covered things. And poffertjies. And large slabs of garlic bread that creates breath so potent that it could kill a vampire at one hundred metres. Continue reading

A Weekend in London Part 2

Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (3)

It was my birthday last week and my sister, her boyfriend and The Bloke took me to London for the weekend to celebrate. On the first day The Bloke and I explored Westminster Abbey and the Great Hall at the Natural History Museum, followed by a Wagamama.

The focus of the trip was the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. Our tickets were booked for 10.00am, and so we joined the queue in the rain a few minutes before.

I’ve always been interested in Egyptian ancient history and culture, so this collection of items was a real privilege to be able to see in person, 100 years after their discovery by Howard Carter. Continue reading

A Birthday Weekend in London: Part 1

It’s my birthday soon and my sister, her boyfriend and The Bloke took me to London for the weekend to celebrate. 

The focus of the trip was initially the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. We ended up planning a long weekend around it, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday, with the plan to find other interesting things to do while we were there. 

We were booked into a Premier Inn Hub hotel near Westminster Abbey, which is something that we haven’t tried before. We’ve always been fans of Premier Inn hotels, but after an unpleasant stay in the Tower Hill branch earlier in the year (mouldy bathroom, no TV signal etc) and the ever-increasing prices that are now becoming out of our budget we opted for the much cheaper option of the Hub.  Continue reading

A Few Days in Bolton

Bolton Albert Halls

I’ve been up north over the last few days with the family as mum had an operation – nothing major thank goodness, but she needed someone to stay post-recovery in case of an emergency and to walk the dog. Thankfully, everything has gone well and while she is going to have to take it easy and be monitored over the next few weeks, her immediate post-op results were good and she didn’t experience the problems that we expected as she has a history of bad reactions to anaesthetic.

While I was there I had the opportunity to see my niece – who I labelled The Squidge when she was born due to her immense squidginess. The Squidge is no longer a squidge – at almost three years old she has turned into a beautiful little girl with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes who already knows her own mind, loves Pepper Pig and was happily showing us her dance steps that she has learned at the class that she goes to and the sign language that she has been taught at nursery. I remember being amazed when The Squidge could sit upright and feed herself, and now that she is a walking, talking little human who can count and who says please and thank you and puts her hand over her mouth when she coughs it was all I could do not to proclaim her a genius and suggest a membership to Mensa. Continue reading

Visiting Guy’s Cliffe House: A Hidden Gem in Warwick

Visiting Guy's Cliffe House in Warwick

The Bloke and I recently had a rare opportunity to explore Guy’s Cliffe House in Warwick. It is rarely available to public viewing, so when we saw that it was open for its Heritage Open Day (and on a stunningly beautiful day) we were really excited about it.

Guy’s Cliffe House is a Grade II listed building that stands on an artificially levelled terrace above a north-facing cliff. At the present most of the house is in ruins and unsuitable to walk through, with only the Grade II listed chapel and service quarters in use.

From humble beginnings as a secluded place of worship in the 5th century, the house has grown and changed with numerous additions in different styles. Sir Guy of Warwick reputably died in ‘Guy’s Cave’ in 970AD,’ and King Henry V ordered the establishment of a chapel in the 15th century. It has been owned by Plantation Owner Samuel Greatheed – Member of Parliament for Coventry – and later by the Heber-Percy family, it was used as a Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in the First World War and  as a Boys Home by the Waifs and Strays Society during the Second World War… It is currently owned by the Freemasons and preserved by the Friends of Guy’s Cliffe Society. Continue reading

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Visiting the Coronation Street Tour

Where do you take a Canadian Coronation Street fan when she visits for a few days?

The Coronation Street Set Tour at Media City in Salford.

Obviously.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not a fan of the show, but Elena Peters is. However, the show has always been a huge part of northern identity, and being from the north has always been something I’m incredibly proud of, and she’s always asking me to send pictures whenever I go to Manchester. Before the set was moved to Media City it was situated at Granada Studios in the centre of Manchester and I remember doing the tour then with my family, so I was interested to see how it now looked in a new location, and I was excited to see Elena’s reaction when she saw the set for the first time.

The Coronation Street Tour is a guided tour of the outdoor working set. Tickets are only available at weekends for a limited time and need to be booked in advance. Continue reading

Theatre, Abstract Art and a Hidden Gem

I often equate a lot of the experiences and opportunities that The Bloke and I have to  being at a bus stop… you wait for ages and then three buses all turn up at the same time.

The latter half of last week was exactly that.

On Wednesday we went to see the fabulous 9 to 5 musical at the Alexandra Theatre. What I didn’t include in my review was that we also went to the after party, during which we had the opportunity to meet the cast. I managed to have a little chat with Louise Redknapp, who was lovely and utterly stunning in person (and she hasn’t aged since the 90’s), and get a quick pic with Amber Davis. It was a weird experience – I knew that the show was coming up so I made The Bloke watch the season of Love Island that she was on so he knew who she was, but she looked completely different in person. I’m awkward at the best of times, but when you’re surrounded by incredibly talented individuals that you’ve just seen perform on stage is a little intimidating!  Continue reading