06.09

Cider-with-Rosie-Jetskiing-1

After we’d stopped to refuel at The Breakfast Club (and agreeing that yep, the food there most definitely lives up to the hype), Mum and I hopped onto the little train that runs along the sea front, and headed East from the pier towards the marina.

Comfortably full from lunch, we trundled slowly along the beach on the tiny train, working up more than a few butterflies in our stomachs thinking about the next activity on our agenda for the day…

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…J E T   S K I I N G !

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Our slot on the skis was booked for 4pm, and we were equal parts nervous and excited. Neither Mum or I had ever done anything like jet skiing before, and I had visions of us being so appalling at it we’d end up crashing into a passing boat or falling off our skis or something else equally ridiculous!

A worrier, me? How dare you. ;)

We met Steve, our instructor and the owner of Brighton Jet Ski Tours (who I’d booked our experience with), on one of the jetties, eagerly donned wetsuits, and then took our places on a couple of jet skis.

After a quick lesson in how to work them, we carefully negotiated our way one by one out of their little docking points, and began cruise slowly out of the marina.

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I’d expected that perhaps we’d have to be given lots of lessons about how to ride the skis once we were out on the water, and that Steve would stick pretty close by us to monitor how we were getting on, but in fact, just as soon as we were clear of the land, we were off!

Steve and my Mum were up ahead of me flying so fast it was all I could do to keep up with them both (my Mum’s got this thing about speed!), and the adrenaline that rushed through me the second I opened up the throttle and began to speed faster and faster across the open ocean…well. I can barely explain it!

(We’re switching to iPhone shots from now on- I had it strung round my neck in one of those little cheapo waterproof bag cases. A true lifesaver- at the speeds we were doing, I’d have lost it over the side for sure otherwise!)

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The water was still as could be, and the faster we went on our skis the more it felt as though we were skimming just above the surface of the water, barely touching it at all.

I kept finding myself laughing out loud as we raced faster and faster towards the horizon, and had these bursts of pride watching my Mum flying in circles around my jet ski looking more vibrant and joyful than I think I’ve ever seen her.

It was the *most* fun!

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After a good 10 minutes or so of racing along at speeds of 40 miles per hour, we paused to catch our breath.

Mum and I were in mid-flow discussing the feasibility of us buying our very own family jet ski (not feasible, as it turns out…), when Steve interrupted us to shout the most magical two word sentence I’ve ever heard in my life.

‘Look, DOLPHINS!’

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A pod was a little way away from us following along in the stream of a boat, playing and dancing and cresting out of the water every few metres or so.

We watched them, mesmerised, as the group danced along beneath the still water and the mothers led their tiny calves up to the surface for air.

The experience of watching them from a distance was more than wonderful enough, and yet our luck was to double, treble, quadruple!- because about twenty minutes later, we found ourselves with a second pod swimming all around our jet skis!

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At times they were close enough that we could’ve reached out and stroked their sleek grey backs (we didn’t, of course!), and they kept pace with us as we floated slowly along on the water.

It truly was the most breath-taking experience of our lives- having these beautiful, powerful creatures gliding along next to and beneath us, watching them leaping clear of the water, and knowing that the experience we were having was a real once in a lifetime encounter with truly wild and free animals.

I’ve been obsessed with sea life for as long as I can remember (I wanted to be a marine biologist for a long time, but had to let go of the idea when I realised I lacked a vital aptitude for science ;) and so getting to be so close to dolphins in the wild was pretty much a dream come true.

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This little video snippet does the experience more justice than I could do in a thousand words!…

{Dolphins in Brighton! from Rosie Chappel on Vimeo}

And with that, our time out on the water had to come to an end.

I could happily have stayed out there all evening, watching the dolphins play and the sun dip lower and lower in the sky. In fact, Steve told us that he was going to head back out again right after we’d said (a somewhat reluctant!) goodbye and thanked him for an incredible afternoon.

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Mum and I hopped back into our ride, put the music up loud, and drove back home towards the setting sun.

And given how many times since we’ve turned to one another and said ‘Wasn’t that just the best experience ever?’, I don’t think it’s a day we’ll be forgetting any time soon.

~ ~ ~

 ~ This post was sponsored by Vauxhall, as part of their #ThisGranCan campaign and in celebration the relaunch of the VIVA. Both Mum and I were so impressed with how light and easy to handle the car was- in fact, I was quite sad to say goodbye to it when the time came! ~

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03.09

Vauxhall-road-trip-Cider-with-Rosie

Do you know what I’ve always admired most about my Mum? Hands down, it’s her joie de vivre.

She has this incredible, unending appetite for life that seems never to diminish, but instead to grow as the years go by.

I’m sure I’ve told you before about how the dynamic between us has always been the total opposite of that of the typical Mother-Daughter relationship, in that my Mum is by far in a way the more adventurous and outgoing of the two of us.

She spent her younger years travelling the world on the QEII (the biggest cruise liner in existence, at the time!), booked herself onto a trip to Ghana a couple of years after hitting the big Five-Oh, and barely a week goes by where she’s not signing up for some new short course at the local adult education centre, or zipping off to visit friends in far flung corners of the UK.

Meanwhile, I’m more likely to be found researching recipes for the perfect winter chutney, or rereading my favourite books (Little Women, anyone?), or telling anyone who’ll listen how elated I am that I’ve managed to keep my tubs of herbs growing happily for almost an entire season now.

I mean, if you ever want advice on how to grow older with style and grace and exuberance, you’ll just have to ask my Mum!

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A couple of weeks ago, Vauxhall dropped me an email asking if I knew of anyone over the age of 50 who happened to embody the spirit of their ‘#ThisGranCan’ campaign. The campaign, as I was to find out, is a celebration of the adventurous spirit and ‘can-do’ mindset that many women over the age of 50 have, and is coinciding with the launch of the VIVA, their newest and nippiest little car (the first model launched over 50 years ago!) And you know, as it happens, I *did* know someone who fit the bill just beautifully!

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Which is how it came to be that, a couple of Fridays ago, my Mum and I were seated comfortably in the smart leather seats of a shiny grey Vauxhall VIVA, shooting down the M3 singing loudly and poorly along to my wedding playlist! And I’ll tell you for starters, that car won major bonus points with me for its swish USB connector alone…looking at you Fiat 500 with your stupid non-functioning media system.

We left bright and early for Brighton that morning, keeping our fingers crossed for a day of good weather to go along with the adventures we had planned. I’d been given strict instructions by Vauxhall to let my Mum take the reigns when it came to selecting our activities for the day, and given that my usual idea of a good time pretty much just involves eating, pottering, and taking photos, it was probably a sensible plan to put our Day Of Fun in the hands of one Ms Dianne B! ;)

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First on the agenda? Why, a trip to the pier, of course!

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^^ Oh Brighton and your beautiful pastel paintwork. You stole my heart! ^^

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If you can believe it, despite living a mere hour or so’s drive from Brighton almost my entire life, I’d never actually been before. Sacrilege, right?

We decided that our first port of call should be a visit to one of the vendors of hot sugary carbs that are scattered at handy intervals along the pier. Mum went classy (-ish, this is Brighton pier we’re talking about!) with a crepe, whilst I bagged myself some doughnuts with Nutella dipping sauce (did you see that coming? I’m as predictable as there being rain on Bank Holidays in the UK). The crepe was good, but the doughnuts, if you ask me, were best. But then again, anything with Nutella was bound to be, wasn’t it?

Once we’d eaten our fill and left ourselves feeling a little sick from all that sugar (though I’m lying when I say ‘ourselves’ here, since really it was only me…), what better to do next than hit the rides?

To the carousel!

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N E V E R   T O O   O L D   F O R   T H E   C A R O U S E L . . .

Friends, the carousel is just as much fun at the ages of 20-something and 50-something as it was when you were a tot. The tinny music, the wind in your hair, the view from the brightly coloured horses that always zip round faster than it looked like they would from the sidelines- it felt like the clock had rolled back!

A little sidenote here, but I’ll treasure that snap of my Mum up there forever! I just love it so very much. (And for goodness SAKE please let me have inherited her beautiful skin!)

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What I wore :: Skirt || Top || Flipflops

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Our morning went by in several goes on the carousel, one trip down the Helter Skelter, and a myriad of turns taken on the arcade games right at the end the pier. My especial favourites were the basketball throwing and air hockey games, though no fluffy unicorns were won on any of our goes, which was maybe the biggest disappointment of my adult life to date…;)

What came next in the day though, after we’d paused for a little lunch at The Breakfast Club in the Lanes, turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences either of us had ever had in our lifetimes.

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But for those adventure stories? You’ll have to come back on Sunday…

~ This post, and our day down in Brighton, was sponsored by Vauxhall. Watch the ‘This Gran Can film here, & find out more about the VIVA here! ~

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14.06

Cider-with-Rosie-summer-dress

It wouldn’t be summer if I didn’t dedicate a post to the garden at my Mum’s now, would it?

We moved into that house when I was 17. Jason and I drank tea in the kitchen there after our first date (to a local Italian restaurant, he ate risotto and pannacotta, I ate salad because I was 18 and felt that was what I should do on a date, HA!), an acceptance letter from the dance school I’d trained my way towards for a decade came tumbling through that letterbox (I got halfway through reading the first sentence of said letter, then promptly burst into tears and screamed myself hoarse in joy!) and some of our most treasured family memories took place within those four walls.

And yet, despite how special the house itself is, it’s the garden at Mum’s I love the most of all. I love the sunken patio and how the garden itself slopes up and away from the house. I love the fact that, when the grass is long, you can see the track the cats follow as they cut a path up the garden. I love the twisted lilac tree branches that bloom for the briefest moment each spring, and the shushing noise the big tree makes in the wind. And mostly, I love the silly, insignificant memories attached to that beautiful outdoor space- like the time I hung tealights from branches when my Mum, Grandma and I sat out late one summer evening, and peace turned to drama when a tealight set fire to the bay tree, and the competition we all once had of who could spit cherry pips farthest down the length of the garden. The many, many glasses of Pimms drunk, and parties held, and meals eaten al fresco.

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We gathered in the garden last Sunday evening for dinner. My sister is busy revising for her final few GCSEs and stressed beyond belief, so we left her to her frantic highlighting and scribbling and paperwork-shuffling and sat outside drinking cider instead. Mum cooked duck with bay leaves and juniper and roasted new potatoes and threw together a couple of different salads, whilst I pottered around twirling in my dress (it begs to be twirled in, what can I say!) and taking photos of bees and things.

Then, as if the evening couldn’t get any more perfect, a cheese board was produced as if by magic after we’d finished our duck, featuring a wedge of brie so runny and ripe it looked as though it’d spend the afternoon in a sauna. It was heaven.

Here’s to another hazy summer spent making memories in the most perfect little garden that ever was

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What I’m wearing :: Dress – H&M {sold out now, but if you like the shape of this one you’ll absolutely love *this one*, and also *this* and *this*!}
Hat - Topshop
Necklace – Monica Vinader.

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14.01

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Last week, my little Mum and I took an impromptu afternoon trip in to Richmond, for a little midweek sale shopping and a date with Whole Foods. (Sidetone: I don’t think I *ever* go to Richmond without it being totally impromptu and off the cuff! What’s going on with that?!) Even though, as I said last week, my only resolution for this year is to go gentler on myself and not to makes any great changes to my diet or get healthier or anything of that sort, there’s still something about January that always makes me want to eat lighter, more organic foods. Maybe all those ’10 healthy meals to make this January!’ articles I read on Buzzfeed at 1am when I can’t sleep are being osmosed into my psyche! ;)

We wandered across the green (stopping to admire the few remaining Christmas trees and wreaths brightening up the beautiful houses that line the edges of the park), before swinging by Anthropologie for a quick check in on the sale. I tried on some 15-odd dresses, all of which looked glorious on the hanger but horrendous on me (why does this happen? I always feel so duped!) before heading over to Whole Foods for lunch. And I know I’ve mentioned it on the blog already once or twice, but that salad bar? It’s magic. Top tips of what to pick out? The black olives (so salty, so great), the pickled beetroot (just be sure not to spill any down your top), the super creamy feta, and the aubergine from the hot food counter, that comes marinated and cooked in some sort of sweet and spicy sauce that tastes like total heaven.

After lunch we went on a mad dash round the grocery aisles (a mad dash because we were keen not to get caught in rush hour traffic), and bought up one of pretty much everything in the shop. Like sugar snap pea crisps (the caesar flavour is the best!), spelt crisp breads with pumpkin and cheese, chia seeds (I’m finding them pretty repulsive so far, I can’t tell a lie…), freshly ground peanut butter, and some flavoured matcha iced tea. It’s a total feast for the eyes, Whole Foods, don’t you think? We stayed in there for almost two hours- wondering how on earth quinoa flakes can be so incredibly expensive, weighing up the merits of one almond milk over another, sniffing the ripest and mouldiest cheeses, and debating whether or not to try a matcha cupcake.

And my Mum and I played our favourite game the whole day, which is to make dream-plans about where we each might live in the future and the houses we might buy, and what fun it’ll be when she can retire and we can have more time for days like this one. And more time for my Mum to play photographer’s assistant to me, which I know she’s secretly the most excited about ;)

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What I wore :: Jacket (similar) || Jumper || Shirt || Jeans || Loafers (originally from Boden, identical HERE)

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Posted in DAY TRIPS, FOOD, MUM, RICHMOND

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