Sunday, 14 August 2011

3. Watch Wales play at the Millennium Stadium

This has been on My To Do List for a several years and finally this weekend the ambition was realised.

A couple of months ago I bought two tickets and ever since have been thinking of time as before/after I go to Cardiff, if that makes sense - I must get my hair cut before I go to Cardiff, I must loose 10lbs in weight after I come back from Cardiff that type of thing.

With tickets purchased, my friend booked transport on the coach and the B & B. Then last week the riots kicked off in London and I was worried about going; I actually lay in bed on Tuesday night thinking I would have to cancel and almost cried myself to sleep. But of course common sense prevailed and by Thursday my bag was packed, tickets safely tucked away, ready for an early start on Friday morning.

We arrived in Cardiff early afternoon and after booking in to the B & B (just across the river from the stadium) we went off for lunch and an exploratory tour of Cardiff. We found it lively and friendly, everybody looking forward to the match the following day. For the benefit of overseas readers Rugby is the Welsh national sport, the team they love to play against (and win) more than other is England so the day before a "Game" rugby is the only thing on everyones mind. They don't ask if you've come into Cardiff to watch it - they know that's why you're there.

On Saturday morning we wondered along to Cardiff castle to kill a couple of hours (that's the stadium on my right in the background) and then it was time to get ready and head off for the 5 minute walk across the Taff to the stadium ...

One of the great things about a trip to the Millennium Stadium is the singing of the Welsh National anthem before the match - not for patriotic bull but for the sheer enjoyment of being there listening to 50,000 odd people belting it out (I'll allow that the English supporters didn't join in) If you've clicked on the link I'm a little tiny red dot somewhere to the top left of the picture, past the goal posts, in the first sweep around the stadium. It was such an exhilarating moment standing singing the anthem before a match.

I'll now be perfectly honest the first half of the match was certainly not the most exciting I have ever watched - at half time the score was 6-6 and all of those points had been penalty kicks (yawn). But it was a game of two halves (as the commentators love to say) and the second half had the crowd on its feet roaring a couple of times ... the loudest and longest when James Hook scored the only try of the match when Wales were a man down. Final score Wales 19 England 9! (The Cheshire Cat grin says it all doesn't it?) Although my friend was supporting the other side he couldn't help but be impressed with the atmosphere and only shrugged good naturedly when the ribbing started!

After the match we went off for dinner at an Italian restaurant and had one drink in an over-crowded bar before heading back to the B & B. Cardiff was heaving after the match and I would be surprised if there was a drop left to drink in the town this morning - the singing and partying went on for hours. A great end to a horribly traumatic week.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

4. Re-enact this advert - 22nd January 2011

When I first wrote the Things To Do List I put this on it because I just thought it looked fun - anyone can run nude into the sea on a sunny summers day - but mid winter in the UK? That was going to be the challenge, and finding someone nutty enough to do it with me!

Actually I found someone nutty enough pretty quickly (no offense Pat), the first time I mentioned it was on my List (and co-incidentally the first time I met her) Pat piped up that she would love to do it too. So a plan was hatched ... we both live in the South East of England but not on the coast (and not near each other) but we found the perfect spot - well it looked perfect in the photos on the Internet - on a secluded nudist beach between Margate and Broadstairs. We decided to opt for a nudist beach because being more mature ladies we didn't want to offend the general public, we also decided against the more famous nudist beaches in Brighton because those beaches are all shingle and you can't run barefoot across shingle!

So the bones of the plan were laid and now we had to fix on a date - this was alot more difficult than we imagined as we just never seemed to available at the same time and it had to be done in the winter. Finally we found a weekend that suited us both.

My youngest sister volunteered to drive us down and act as the official photographer - we both wanted evidence that we had really done it - and in a moment of common sense we knew that someone else ought to be with us in case of injury. We set off early on Saturday morning, giggling and chattering like excited school girls - the fog, rain and wind on the motorway did nothing to dampen our spirits. When we finally reached the beach we sat staring at the grey sea, white waves splashing against the shore - our hearts sank slightly, the tide was much further in then we had thought it would be - no time for a leisurely stroll and quick going over how we were actually going to preform the re-enactment. As Pat and I walked nervously down my sister wrapped her sheepskin coat more tightly around herself. Pats normally immaculate hair will give you an indication of how windy it was!

Once on the beach we wasted no time on false modesty - we stripped off and ran straight in ... the full force of the icy cold water hit us taking our breath away; I reached the water first but Pats shouts and laughter encouraged me to run in further and further - it was absolutely amazing. We splashed about for about a minute and then dashed out again ... in those conditions a minute was a long long time! We ran laughing up the beach and grabbed our quilts and blankets - a man walking past with his Jack Russell laughed at us and with fore finger tapping his forehead and then making large cirlces he indicated what he thought! He asked jokingly what it was like (not sure if he meant in the sea or being mad).

My sister showed us the photographs she had taken and decided that because we had entered separately we were too far apart in the photographs (she thought) and said we ought to do it again! Pat and I stared at each other - laughed (hysteria setting in?) and after a quick "Well we've come all this way" threw down our coverings and holding hands ran back in! The water the second time was as cold as the first time and this time I was alot more conscious that hypothermia sets in very quickly ... I only stayed in a for a few moments before I raced back up the beach. Pat stayed in for longer and I was anxious, but when she came running out she was absolutely fine! Our bodies tingled with the cold and the adrenalin rush - we quickly dried and dressed (I mean really quickly) buzzing. An elderly man walking his two dogs, (dressed from head to toe in Hi-vis wet weather gear) walked past "Ladies if you had stayed in the dogs would have come and joined you" he joked "Come to think of it, pre-arthritis days I would have too. Its exhilarating isn't it? I used to do that all the time when I lived in Wales..."

It was exhilarating ... I wouldn't want to do it every day but Pat is talking about making it an annual event and I'm up for that ...