Venice in a day....

I’ve had an awful lot of people say how fancy it is to go to Venice for lunch. I can assure you I am nowhere near fancy, if I can do it anyone can.

So I’m willing to share my step by step guide to Venice in a day to dispel any myths that you have to be fancy to do something that seems it.

First go on to the Ryanair website and look for the cheapest return flights you can get. My cheapest so far have been £25 return (ironically, a train ticket from my closest station, Braintree to London is £37 return, seriously ridiculous, I live 55 minutes from London by train).

If you can get dropped off and picked up from the airport you’re quids in, because this country is so arse upwards that getting to the airport or parking there is more expensive than the flights in a lot of cases.

Step 1, board the plane and fly out.

Step 1, board the plane and fly out.

Step 2, buy ticket for the bus transfer to Venice, €15 return.

Step 2, buy ticket for the bus transfer to Venice, €15 return.

Step 3, find bus stop, bus number 5 goes to Venice.

Step 3, find bus stop, bus number 5 goes to Venice.

IMPORTANT NOTICE;

Now this bit is very important, once you have purchased your bus ticket, make sure you tap in on the bus. We/I made a costly error this time on the bus, which saw us fined €50 EACH for not tapping in our bus tickets. We had bought the right ticket and paid the right price, we hadn’t even pulled out of the grounds of the airport, but we just didn’t know you had to tap in on the bus, we were caught by a ticket inspector. As in any country ignorance is no defence in law. So we miserably paid the fine. Lesson learned.

As it was my error I later treated Kim to a gondola ride. I had been to Venice before and hadn’t tapped in on any bus trips, luckily on those occasions there hadn’t a been ticket inspector on there.

A fine couldn’t dampen my spirits and I was still as excited to get to Venice itself. I think it’s the most enchanting place I’ve ever been. Yes, Rome is spectacular but this place just captures your heart.

It’s a deeply weird concept. There was and still is all this land on the mainland and yet they chose to build a city on water. I mean talk about making life difficult for yourself. :)

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The city is accessed by a bridge, and once you’re over that bridge you’re in a completely different land, a land of no vehicles, a land of canals, narrow streets, alleyways and spectacular architecture.

I love it!

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The weather wasn’t too promising, that said it was far better than the forecast given, it was meant to be rain and thunder and lightening storms all day. But it was fine and dry to begin with, but just a bit overcast. So we decided to do our Gondola ride straight away, which was a bit of luck because the heavens opened later.

A Gondola ride is a flat fee of €80 for up to 6 people. I preferred it just being the two of us really. It was so peaceful and his route was absolutely incredible.

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Venice itself is heaving with tourists, us two amongst them. It’s not a vital part of the trip of course, but on a Gondola you’ll see a different side of the city, a calm, peaceful side that you don’t get on dry land. Yes, €80 is an extravagance but a worthwhile one I believe.

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The food in Venice, as with anywhere in the world can be hit and miss. Kim and I only had wonderful experiences, this cheese board was possibly the best I’ve ever had in my life, I can prove it too. I don’t eat blue cheese, my palette is very childish, like I said in the beginning of this blog I’m not fancy (I just choose to dress nicely and people assume I’m fancy all over, it’s literally a classic case of smoke and mirrors).

So the cheese board arrives (we had it as a starter instead of at the end of the meal, it really works well as a starter, I might start doing it that way too!).

I ate all the cheese, blue included, and get this…drizzled in honey blue cheese is heavenly. Yes, I’m probably late to the party on that one but it was a startlingly good revelation.

We followed it up with a pizza, which was delicious. (be warned some of the restaurants are rubbish, my son and daughter in law went for the day on Saturday just gone, they ordered a pasta ragu with meat and a dairy free pizza with goats cheese. What was served up was a pasta carbonara and an obviously normal shop bought cheese pizza that had had the cheese scraped off, and it wasn’t even a good attempt at that, as there was still cheese bits on it! They called the waiter over and told him they’d pay for their drinks but they weren’t going to touch or pay for the food. They found another restaurant, there’s hundreds to choose from so they just got unlucky first time round. They found somewhere new and had an incredible meal for a reasonable price).

A partially flooded St. Mark's Square.

A partially flooded St. Mark's Square.

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Venice, being built on water is prone to flooding, so they have devised this ingenious solution…how they get away with this stuff health and safety wise I will never know, it’s literally just large scaffold boards placed, not fixed, placed on a metal frame. It works a treat of course but you wouldn’t find that anywhere in the U.K. ;)

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Top from Karl Lagerfeld, Leggings from Topshop, Boots from Barbour.

Top from Karl Lagerfeld, Leggings from Topshop, Boots from Barbour.

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Not everything has to cost a fortune in Venice, the church above was €1 to go in, and it was spectacular! Look at those spiral pillars. :o

We went in another church, which was just as beautiful and that one was free. We lit a candle each. I light a candle for my cousin Anita everywhere I go, my Ben knows how important she was to me and has started lighting candles for me for her when he visits churches too.

Of course if you’re going to have drinks in St. Mark’s Square then expect to pay top dollar, a cup of tea or a can of Coke at one of the cafes there was €15! We sat down, looked at the menu, got up and left. I have no problem with leaving an overpriced restaurant.

We went to a cafe about a 30 second walk away from the very overpriced ones. we had a small pot of tea in Cafe Ghioggia which cost €9, yes, still on the pricey side but you’re paying for the view and live band, and besides it was still €6 cheaper than other restaurants on the main part of St. Mark’s Square, it pays to shop around and read the menu.

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I love visiting Venice, I’d love to stay for a weekend with Chris but he doesn’t fancy it. I feel so confident now with having been twice before for the day that I’d happily go back by myself if I fancy a bit of culture and pasta.

This was meant to be one of those food blogger/ instagram photos but we both ploughed through it before we remembered to take a photo of it. Hahahahaha

This was meant to be one of those food blogger/ instagram photos but we both ploughed through it before we remembered to take a photo of it. Hahahahaha

Before we headed off back to the airport we decided to have a little dinner stop. This time we were in the mood for pasta.

Vegetarian for me, meat for Kim, heaven on a plate all round, plus a drink each which came to €26 for the lot…compare that to two cups of tea on St. Mark’s Square, which would have come to €30!

My advice for an easy exit of Venice is to drop a pin in maps when you’re at the bus stop when you first arrive at the city. That way you’ll have no trouble getting back there in the evening, Venice is beautiful but a lot of the streets and alleyways look the same so a point of reference to get back to is kind of vital.

You need bus number 5 again to get back to the airport. At bus stop A1.  They seem pretty regular so no worries about getting back, it takes 25/30 minutes on the bus, so leave enough time for that.  The airport is fairly well appointed, but I go upstairs to the cafe there.  All in all yet another fantastic trip, even if it is only for the day. I know Kim loved it too and is keen to go back with her husband.

You need bus number 5 again to get back to the airport. At bus stop A1.

They seem pretty regular so no worries about getting back, it takes 25/30 minutes on the bus, so leave enough time for that.

The airport is fairly well appointed, but I go upstairs to the cafe there.

All in all yet another fantastic trip, even if it is only for the day. I know Kim loved it too and is keen to go back with her husband.

It was a busy week really, Venice Wednesday, London Friday, Spain next week, such an international jet setter. Hahahahaha

On Friday I headed to London to the Barbican to The Big Bowel Event held by Bowel and Cancer Research.

I volunteer for this charity, for obvious reasons it’s close to my heart.

I’m truly grateful that I survived something so awful but for me I need to make my survival mean something. So many people I know, far better people than me have died of this rotten bastard disease that I have to make me still being here count for something.

Volunteering certainly helps me feel I’m doing some good. I’m not selfless, I’m merely attempting to heal the guilt that can come with survival.

The Big Bowel Event is a wonderful opportunity to bring the scientists and genius researchers together with the public/patients who will one day benefit from the innovations and developments made.

A project can only really have value if it’s been tried and tested by the people in the know (us, the users of colostomies and other stomas etc).

It was a fantastic day. Very enlightening.

The beginning of the day is quick fire lectures from said scientists and professors. It’s the perfect amount of time because it means these wonderful super brained people have to cut down their talks into brief but informative chunks for Joe public.

Then after lunch, which was delicious by the way, I thought it was going to be a dried up, curling at the edges sandwich, when in fact we were served beef or sea bass with veg and wedges. I was perfectly happy, much like my dog I’m very food oriented…it makes us easy to house train for starters! Hahahahaha.

After lunch I chose to go to the round table that had caught my eye during the presentations section in the morning, “Exercise and stomas, with hernia or hernia risk management”.

This subject is very important to me, I got a hernia on the site of one of my drain bags, long story short, I haemorrhaged during my op, lost 8 or 9 pints of blood, I had to have a transfusion and a drain bag to drain out my escaped blood.

Sounds all very dramatic but let’s face it I was blissfully unaware of most the drama as I was under anaesthetic at the time, in fact I only found out about the need for a transfusion during the op a couple of months ago, it really does cut down the risk of PTSD if you’re asleep for the big event. I knew I was unwell of course, I’m not daft, but I hadn’t taken into account of how unwell I had been.

On so many levels I count myself as an extremely lucky gal!

Anyway, I ended up with a hernia on that drain site 6 weeks after my op. My surgeon said at my 6 week check that I was fine and could go and do what I want…I went straight home to get stuck in to getting back to normal when I picked up a basket of wet washing and heard and felt all at the same time my intestine pop through the poorly stitched drain hole! Buggeration or words to that effect!!

I have chosen to live with and manage my hernia myself…I never intend to have surgery ever again. So I manage it at home the best I can.

The management of my particular hernia comes at a cost. It hates exercise!! It hates a lot of things, standing for prolonged periods, walking for prolonged periods, fizzy drinks, but mostly it hates exercise with a passion. I’ve tried most things in the name of trying to be fit and healthy. But it just swells it up and gets really very angry.

The only things that it’s just about tolerates is swimming (but yuk, I hate getting wet unless it’s in the hot tub just outside my back door for a quick bag change after) and cycling (not something I could do straight away after my surgery, as I had my anus sewn up during my colostomy op, my colostomy is permanent, therefore my anus and rectum were surplus to requirements. I can assure you it took a long time before I could sit on anything comfortably let alone a saddle).

So I ride now, not massive distances, I’m not interested in endurance sports, I just want to burn off a few calories and keep my ticker in good shape.

So I was very interested in the research into specialist exercises for ostomites.

It’s still in its research stage, but they did say planking is a no no (something I didn’t know and I did attempt during yoga and Pilates, which didn’t end well).

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With part of the PPI steering group I’m a member of for Bowel and cancer research. It’s back up to London for a meeting for that on Monday.

With part of the PPI steering group I’m a member of for Bowel and cancer research. It’s back up to London for a meeting for that on Monday.

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I met such wonderful people. This may seem weird but I don’t know many people with stomas, not everyone there had a stoma of course but it was nice to chat with those that do.

I had a mini round table session with two young women from a company called Ostique, who blew my mind, they are in the development stage of system for ostomy users which will revolutionise swimming, beaching in general and intimate moments (if you get my drift). These are two very smart women, I really want them to be a success because I really want their product!

Watch this space, these ladies are going to change our lives. xx

I had such a great day, I was buzzing when I came home.

I can assure you by Saturday I needed the lie in, I usually have one anyway but I actually needed this one. Hahahahaha

Chris and I decided to pop out for a bit to make the most of our Saturday, so after an incredible cooked breakfast at a local pub (totally recommend the brekkie at The Castle pub in Great Leigh’s), we headed over to Suffolk to Framlingham Castle, I can’t think of many better ways to spend a weekend than traipsing round a historic site…oh who am I kidding, I’m mainly in it for the cake at the end! ;)

Top from Next, Joggers from Topshop, Shoes from LV, Gilet from Moncler.

Top from Next, Joggers from Topshop, Shoes from LV, Gilet from Moncler.

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(Just as an extra snippet of info, if the medieval period and tudors were not interesting enough for you;

The castle which inspired one of Ed Sheeran's big hits of 2017 has seen a boost in visitor numbers as a result.

The singer's Castle on the Hill features lyrical references to Framlingham Castle in the Suffolk town where he grew up).

I’m ready and looking forward to another great week ahead. xx

If you are interested in getting involved in the future then visit bowel and cancer research, find them online, on Twitter and Instagram.

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Yesterday was World Ostomy Day.

Most people with a stoma will say it saved their life. It’s not like they plumb them in for the fun of it so yes, it saved my life, thankfully and wonderfully.

It was a case of have cancer and die or swap a cancery colon for a bag. Strangely enough it was a no brainer, there wasn’t a deliberation of should I ? shouldn’t I.

It was die or don’t die. It’s not even a decision to be made, it’s just a procedure to follow.

I’m so grateful that I was able to survive, but more than that I have gone on to thrive, not just endure or exist - I’m thriving, I’m loving life and living it to the full, day trips to Venice are exhibit A! Hahahahaha

I was symptomatic of bowel cancer for a very very long time before I was finally diagnosed. In that time I had my fair share of accidents, and no I don’t mean stubbing ones toe type. I mean the cold sweat of passing wind, not knowing I was going to go to the toilet type.

I can assure you, I prefer my bag compared to the horrendous experiences I had pre bag.

I don’t miss having to stay near the toilet. I don’t miss the horror of not getting there in time.

I love the fact that no matter what my bowels are up to for the day I’m bagged and good to go.

I am more body confident now than I was when I was six and a half stone, starving myself into acceptability as a teen.

I am ginormous now, my teenage self would throw forty fits looking at this body. But I feel amazing about my shell.

It’s birthed two glorious children. It’s survived stage 3 cancer, and it holds all my organs in place to perfection.

I will state this again, no it’s not the best body in the world, I’ll leave that to the Kendal Jenner’s of the world, but mine is the best body I’ve got, and rather than waste my time fretting about what it looks like I’m going to continue to love what it enables me to do!

Which by the way is everything and anything I choose. There are no restrictions in the beautiful bagged life, any restrictions I hit are ones I’ve put on myself.

For example you won’t find me sky diving with my bag…but in fairness you wouldn’t have found me doing that before either. Hahahahaha

Whether you want to wear a bikini on the beach or not isn’t the point. The point is you have the choice. I’m very body positive or at the very least body neutral.  I will happily stroll about the beach on a sunny day with all my flab and bag on show.  For one reason, my bag is the very reason I’m alive to enjoy the sunshine on the beach. I’m hardly going to be ashamed or embarrassed about my life line.

Whether you want to wear a bikini on the beach or not isn’t the point. The point is you have the choice. I’m very body positive or at the very least body neutral.

I will happily stroll about the beach on a sunny day with all my flab and bag on show.

For one reason, my bag is the very reason I’m alive to enjoy the sunshine on the beach. I’m hardly going to be ashamed or embarrassed about my life line.

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My bag has allowed me to travel all over the world. I have been able to do that solely because I feel confident to travel.

My bag has given the world to me, one country at at a time.