A Metamorphosis

Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016

The transformation is incredible.  I’ve been monitoring the slow process of the beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis for over a year now.

There’s been scaffolding to hold her up, polythene to sheet her down, reels of cabling to light her up, and countless ants in high-vis crawling all over her with heavy equipment at various stages of the painstaking operation to save this historic structure.

Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier and Pavilion in 1917
Cleethorpes Pier and Pavilion in 1917 (courtesy of an old postcard)
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016


Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Bar and Tea Rooms, Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016
Bar and Tea Rooms, Cleethorpes Pier 28th January 2016

The Pier, Cleethorpes, on Lincolnshire’s east coast, first opened on August Bank Holiday, 1873 after its build cost of £8,000 was financed by Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway (later LNER). Following additions, demolitions and fire damage, LNER sold The Pier to Cleethorpes Council in 1936.  Four years later, it was breached for defence purposes and the isolated seaward section was demolished after WWII, leaving The Pier measuring 335 feet instead of its original 1200 feet.

Between 1986 and 2010, The Pier changed ownership multiple times with several failed attempts at modernisation to change the venue from its original leisure venue to a nightclub. In 2010, The Pier closed and it looked like it would join the long list of piers in the UK to go to wrack and ruin.

In July 2013 it was purchased on a one year lease with an option to buy. The purchase of the building went ahead with financial support from the Regional Growth Fund, and plans to carefully restore the building and revive its traditional beauty with added mod cons were met positively by local people and businesses.

The refurbishment is finally complete and the doors re-opened to the public in August 2015 to showcase a fabulous restaurant, tea room and bar all within the one structure.  Weddings and business events are also catered for. The new owner’s vision is for it to remain open for decades to come and for The Pier to serve as a message to local residents that Cleethorpes and North East Lincolnshire is a region to be proud of.

Restoration of important heritage elements, including the three owls stained glass window on the front of the building, have been painstakingly undertaken alongside the addition of new features, such as floor to ceiling windows on one side of the building to capitalise on the dramatic views.  It is thought that each owl represents one of the three original Lincolnshire hamlets that combined to create Cleethorpes – Oole, Itterby and Thrunscoe.

The views are certainly dramatic; the coffee’s good too.  Sadly, the tide was out today when I visited.  More than anything though I’m hugely relieved that The Pier has been saved, refurbished and that it can once again be enjoyed by local people, day trippers and holiday visitors to this small traditional English seaside town.


Pastry-free Bacon, Leek and Sweet Potato Quiche

Crustless pastry-free quiche with salad or roasted vegetables
Crustless pastry-free quiche with salad or roasted vegetables

This pastry-free quiche is ideal for those watching their weight, or wanting to avoid starchy pastry, or for those who are coeliac and need to avoid gluten out of necessity.

It’s delicious served warm with a side of roasted mixed vegetables in the winter time; it’s tasty when served cold with a salad, and this pastry-free quiche also goes down great when scoffed on the hoof if you just need a quick bite of something wholesome and healthy.  The recipe is versatile too; I sometimes add sliced onion instead of leeks, or other vegetables depending on what’s in the fridge.

Ingredients –

4 slices of lean bacon (all fat removed) and chopped

1 medium sweet potato – peeled and chopped

2 leeks sliced

black pepper

400g fat free cottage cheese

4 eggs

112g grated cheddar cheese

Frylight or Pam spray

Method –

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F

Spray a frying pan over a medium high heat with some Frylight or Pam spray

Add the bacon and fry until golden

Add the leeks and sweet potato and a sprinkling of black pepper

Cook until softened (approx 5 mins)

Transfer mixture to a quiche dish, pre-sprayed with Frylight or Pam spray and spread out evenly

Add the eggs and cottage cheese to a blender

Blend until smooth and pour over the mixture in quiche dish

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top

Place in the oven and bake until mixture is set and golden on top – approx 35-40 mins

Allow to cool slightly in dish and then slice and serve

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award
Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you to Spence’s Girl for the Sunshine Blogger Award for Just Midlife.   I am properly chuffed to receive it.  Spence’s Girl blogs about food, travel, cats and many other subjects in a positive and enthusiastic way.

These were the 11 questions I was asked, so here goes –

What is a fun fact about you, never shared until now on your blog?  I love clothes, all sorts of clothes and have great fun matching and mixing things in my wardrobe.  Most of my clothing is second hand, which I think is really fun.  I love raking through dress agencies and vintage shops to find that special item that you’d never find in a mainstream clothing shop.  I’m the weirdo you see when you’re out and about wearing a heavy tweed jacket over a flimsy floaty dress whilst clomping about in sturdy country boots.

Early riser or night owl?  Definitely early riser.  I’m up before 6 most mornings.  And usually in bed by 9.30.   Well, you can’t burn the candle at both ends, can you?

Glass half-empty or half-full?  My whole life I’ve followed the half-full approach – it’s sort of intrinsically built into me I think.  I reckon I’d be miserable if I was to live my life in half-empty mode.

Who is your favourite author?  Hard one this … I read a lot.  After a lot of deliberation I will say Margaret Atwood.  A hugely entertaining lady, here are a few of her quotes just for good measure –

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

What inspires you?  People who have achieved something special, particularly when their achievements benefit other human beings.

Favourite vacation spot?   If abroad – the Greek islands for sure; I love Corfu.  If at home it would have to be Cornwall – it’s such a beautiful part of the world with its craggy cliffs, lovely beaches and delightful towns and villages.

Peanut butter – crunchy or smooth?  Crunchy – at least it’s interesting that way!

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?  To relax a little more and not worry when things go wrong.  I’ve learned over the years when I’ve found myself in very difficult or dire situations to ask myself a straight up back to basics question – “Is this going to kill me?”  And in every instance, for me at least, the answer has been, “No, this is not going to kill me”.  And I’ve learned that things have a way of working out in time.

Sunrise or sunset?  Well, I adore both, and being a keen taker of pictures, it’s very hard to choose.  I’d have to say sunrise if I had to pick one, as it is the start of each new day, and each one gives us a fresh page and an opportunity to live the following few hours in the best way possible.

Are you a multi-tasker, procrastinator or laser focused?  It depends what it is I’m doing.  Running a business means I have to be focused, and I have to multi-task, to make sure everything gets done.  However, when it comes to family matters, I really can be a procrastinator, and I think it’s because I really, really want to get it right and I worry that I may not, even though my girls are grown up now and the pressure’s off somewhat.  And there are no pre-set rules; as a parent you make up the rules as you go along, and hope you’ve got it right.  I find it harder to make decisions when they affect the people I love.  When it’s work I just crack on, head down, tail up.

What was the last great movie you’ve seen?  Because I read a lot, I spend very little time watching TV or films.  However, Mr Midlife and I did go to a very old traditional cinema to see a Russell Crowe film a while back – The Water Diviner, an Australian historical fictional war drama which I very much enjoyed.

These are the Sunshine Blogger Award rules:

Thank the person who nominated you

Answer the 11 questions you’ve been asked

Nominate 11 other bloggers, making sure to let each one know that they are nominated

Ask the nominees 11 questions

My 11 Nominees are –

https://craftedincarhartt.wordpress.com/  is all about hardworking women who do amazing things.   I’m a big fan of this website. And the photography is excellent too.  The latest post has the tags – feminism, fashion, girl power, nature, photography amongst others … no matter your age, you really should take a look at this site.  In today’s media, it’s hard to find the right females to look up to – but look no further, here are the women we should celebrate – those who are carving, painting, sawing, welding, planing and building.  It’s a breath of fresh air.

joyofspanishcooking.com  Ivette lives in Maryland, she has 20” of snow currently, and she cooks fantastic Spanish food that makes you think of a warmer climate.

http://wendysharesathought.com/   –  Cultivating Gratitude, and Developing Joy. – Kindness for Kindness sake is Wendy’s latest post – all about meeting kind people whilst travelling.

http://fraeuleinella.com/  –  For all of us with a sweet tooth this is the absolute blog to be looking at and following.

http://poppiesandpopcorn.com/  –  Curiosity, love of the absurd, and the joy of travelling are some of the similar characteristics that make Joyce and Diane such good friends and their blog so enjoyable – check it out…

http://theroadtripcowgirl.com/  –  The name for this blog came from Dana’s love for the desert, chasing the sun and a good road trip.   It focuses on road trip stories from across Canada and the U.S. to inspire you to hit the road.  And with the great photography it certainly does inspire …

https://yourdaughtersbookshelf.wordpress.com/ –  Stefanie, a mother of three and former public relations hack, who loves to read and write, started out blogging just wanting to know what her children were reading and it has turned into a full blown obsession with the genres of Young Adult and pre-teen fiction.  Very interesting …

http://doodlemum.com/  –  Angie Stevens is a grown up of forty two years old and her blog is mostly drawn.  It is a clever, artistic, entertaining and hugely amusing visual representation of her life.

https://cultivatingtime.wordpress.com/  –  Debra says – I have always been passionate about well-being but somehow I don’t always manage to turn my passion into a lived reality. Everyday life seems to get in the way of the stuff that I think makes for a contented life. This blog is about making space for some of those things.

https://4wallsnaroof.wordpress.com/  –  The View From The Porch – If you take the time to look around, life can be pretty amazing.  I agree with Nancy – check this one out …

http://www.justmeplease.com/  –  This blog features the adventures and advice of a solo traveller who thinks that the world is too wonderful to leave unexplored, and she’s correct of course …

And here are your 11 questions –

What’s your favourite comedy movie?

Would you rather live in the city or the woods?

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up?

Which animal best represents you and why?

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?

If you could take only three items to a desert island, what would they be?

What book has influenced you most?

If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?

How would your best friends describe you?

What is your favourite music album?

If you could have one superpower what would it be and how would you use it?


Have Wheels Will Travel

Weekends are all about fresh air, and walking in the woods is a family favourite.  The adults get to stretch their legs and breathe deep, whilst the children among us potter about filling our pockets with pine cones and interesting bits of wood so we can play poo sticks once we reach the stream and the bridge.  And our crazy spaniel needs no encouragement to get completely blathered in mud.

Yesterday was different in that there were only two of us, and the small person insisted on taking her bike.  Which meant walking a different track altogether, as tree stumps and stabilisers do not marry well.  Once she had found her wheels, there was no stopping her.  Through potholes and puddles she went, mud splashing up behind her, splattering her coat and hair.

My granddaughter’s active imagination meant she was pedalling furiously, escaping monsters and chasing wild animals through the trees.  And I had to run just to keep up and to haul her out of the deepest holes.  Leisurely it was not.  We came home rosy cheeked and very warm. Those stabilisers are coming off this week.

How Bizarre

You’ve got to love this odd story spotted online this morning – Spanish town celebrates bizarre, turnip-throwing festival.  Hundreds of people have been running through the streets of a tiny town in south western Spain, chasing a fancy-dressed, beast-like figure.  A local volunteer dressed in a costume of multi-coloured ribbons and a protective devil-like mask with horns, charged through the streets beating a drum, whilst spectators pelted turnips at him.  Local farmers supplied 18 tons of turnips for this annual event called “Jarramplas” which takes place in Piornal.  Its origins are questionable, however, the local tourist office says that the “Jarramplas” figure represents a cattle thief, whilst other residents say the festival has religious roots.  Wednesday’s event concluded with musical and gastronomic celebrations.

The idea of having a festival like this during January strikes me as a brilliant idea – it would be something to look forward to during the dark winter days, as January is the bleakest month in my view.  Not only that, this event involves plenty of physical exercise, specifically running and throwing.  Again, all good for an outdoor winter festival on what could easily be a bitterly cold day.  And the fact that this celebration concludes with music, food and drink makes it an absolute winner.  What better way to end a winter’s day spent outdoors than stuffing one’s face with hot, delicious food whilst tapping one’s toes to some great tunes?

The more I think about it, the more I reckon it would be an excellent January calendar date to implement in my native Lincolnshire.  It’s a very quiet month socially, and the weather here can be either freezing or pouring with rain.  And we’ve got mountains of turnips, sugar beet and huge spuds heaped up in fields all around the county, just waiting to be hurled at some bloke dressed up in outlandish gear.

We’d obviously have to re-name this festival.  Historically, there have always been cattle thieves in the British countryside.  Nowadays they steal sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, agricultural machinery; anything that can be moved or lifted in fact.  It might be an idea to make good use of some of the currently convicted perpetrators; one criminal could be selected at random each year to do the dressing up and the running.  Of course he would also be the one to take the vegetable beating.  Perhaps it would serve as a deterrent to future potential countryside pillagers, especially if the event were to be promoted as such.  I’m thinking maybe “Rustler Rapping” or “Rural Head-Rolling Day”.  I can see it now.  What fun.

APTOPIX Spain Jarramplas Festival
Throwing turnips at the Jarramplas Festival, Spain, January 2016

(Original story and image courtesy of Yahoo News)

I‘m Just Calling To Say…

“I’m just calling to say I’m feeling very happy.  And I wanted to thank you for sending me to dance classes when I was little.”

These were the first words I heard when I answered my younger daughter’s phone call.  I’m always happy to hear her voice of course; even more so when she’s so full of joy and obviously loving her life.

Prior to Christmas she had resolved to find a dance studio and sign up for classes for fun and to meet new people.  Last night her brand new tap shoes, which were a special Christmas gift, had their first formal outing.

She had just finished an adults’ tap dancing class in London when I spoke to her, and she was walking briskly in the cold night air to catch a train home to her apartment.  I could hear the smile in her voice.  And that made me smile too.

I’m so grateful that my daughter thought to call me at that very moment.  She wasn’t purposely aiming to make my day, but she did.

Tap dancing daughter and granddaughter
My tap dancing daughter and granddaughter giving it rock all on our wooden floors at Christmas time