Very overdue update!

Well hello there!

It's been a very long time since I've written any posts and I'm not really sure why I stopped! So here I am, dipping my toes back into the water so to speak.

I thought I would do a little update about things and I will try to post more often again as I always found it such a good outlet and very cathartic.

So my not so little girl is almost 10. Double figures. How did that happen?! It feels like I blinked and suddenly I have this grown up person who was once my tiny baby. She will always be my baby though and she knows it (even if it does make her cringe)!!  She has grown up so much and she's still a kind, caring and hilariously funny girl.  She has me in hysterics laughing most days and as she always has been, she's the best medicine!

She plays for a girls' football team now and I am so proud of her. She loves it and they are doing really well but she's also made a new group of friends so that's a nice bonus.

We are so close and although my health is still the same (i.e rubbish!!), we love spending time together chilling, crafting or playing games. Uno brings out both our sneaky sides and I take no prisoners!! Some may say she gets her competitiveness from me ;-)

She loves lego and likes it when I find the pieces she needs next, although she flies through building them and doesn't really need my help!

She loves reading. She is a total bookworm. I never thought she would be as she never seemed too keen but I'm so glad that changed. I have also got back into reading after many years of not doing so I think she's inspired me!

Over the last year we managed to do some really good stuff which makes me happy to think about.  There were actually lots of highlights so I'll pick out a few!

In March 2018 we had our second trip to Disneyland Paris for little Miss' 9th birthday.  We had totally caught the Disney bug on our previous trip so booked again and it was amazing. Pure magic!

In May it was my 40th birthday and we went on holiday to my favourite place, Puerto Pollensa in Majorca, having booked a year prior.  Turning 40 was a big thing for me and I felt a bit weird about it in the lead up (especially considering I feel more like 20 and act more like 16!!!) however it was a perfect way to spend a special birthday. Some lovely memories.

My sister also threw me an afternoon tea with some of my favourite people.  Sadly some of my friends who are dotted all over the place couldn't make it but they were there in thought :-)

In the Summer we had work done on the house which was a lot of stress and mess, but it has made such a big difference so was definitely worth it. Decluttering has been a priority and for someone who doesn't like getting rid of stuff, I have done well being ruthless! Storage baskets are my new best friend and I'm all about organising drawers into sections.  There's something therapeutic about seeing everything all tidy isn't there?!

My health is still the same and most days are either bad or worse! I have to keep plodding and do what I can.  Resting lots is still a necessity and moving to Spain is my next plan. Joking! (But I would love to!).

I pick and choose when to do stuff worth using my very limited energy on. If it's worth the payback for several days of hell after, I do it. If not, I don't! I have learnt over the years to be more assertive and not be afraid of saying no. Saying yes more (as I did a whole previous post on HERE) is important too, but we should never feel pressured or obliged to do stuff if it's not beneficial and especially not if it will be detrimental to our health.

Anyway I think that's quite enough for now.  I had forgotten how much I talk when I get started!

If there's anything you'd like me to write about please feel free to contact me.  Thank you for reading and I look forward to getting back into it.

Stay sparkly,
Ali xx


Comfy jumpers and fairy lights

Everyone keeps saying I've been quiet lately, which I guess I have a bit but not intentionally!  I think this time of year just makes you want to hibernate and wrap yourself up in blankets.  Hot chocolate has never tasted so good and big chunky socks are the best thing ever.

I hate Winter.  I hate being cold.  Who actually embraces it?

Roll on Summer I say!

I do love snuggling up and lighting lots of candles as well as fairy lights galore twinkling - is there anything prettier?  Playing games with my girlie or watching festive films is nice (Smiling's my favourite!!), but I will never be a Winter person.  Snow is rubbish despite it being pretty to look at. I am in the house a lot as it is, so when snow appears I am even less inclined to leave it!!  I guess that's one of the good things about being ill and not having to worry about going out when the weather turns bad.  I wouldn't fancy attempting to drive my scooter across the ice either although it could be fun....

Primark have done some really cosy Disney jumpers and I *may* have four of them... they are so comfy and soft and I don't want to take them off ever!!  So I guess that's one positive about this time of year.  I even bought a thermal top as I am always cold which amuses me a lot!

We went to Haworth at the weekend to see my friend and it's absolutely gorgeous there.  It turned dark whilst we were sat in a cafe and when we came out it looked beautiful all lit up.  It felt like being in a Victorian Christmas card and despite me now suffering for it, it was absolutely worth it.

I shall try to get some motivation back to write and be a bit more present but for now I intend on watching Elf about 55 times whilst drinking yet more hot chocolate! :-D



Disney is my happy place!

I've not written anything for ages as it took me a while to get over the Disney trip! (See my previous post here all about it).  To be honest I've not really felt motivated to write but something I have realised since coming back is that Disneyland is most definitely my happy place.

My poor health is apparent all the time and I can't get away from permanently feeling rubbish. Alongside that usually comes feeling sad and the whole missing out on life thing, however I have noticed that despite having lots of not so nice stuff going on, generally I've been much happier. If I need to daydream and take myself somewhere away from it all in my mind, I think of Disney.

It's funny how one place can have such an impact and I really do feel like it's the happiest place in the world.

Disney magic really does exist!

Before we went I saw people talking about it in the same way and having experienced it, I now totally understand. I can't recommend it enough.  I also can't get enough of Disney movies, merch, vlogs etc etc.  You name it, if it's Disney I'm on to it!

I constantly want to be back there, to escape from reality and to be caught up in the bubble. Until then, I will continue to watch, purchase and dream of everything Disney!

Oh and isn't my new Donald plush cute! He's my favourite but sshhhh don't tell Mickey :-)



Disneyland Paris August 2017. M.E and mobility scooter!

Well where do I start?!  We had our holiday to Disneyland Paris booked for 10 months before it was finally time to go.  I had experienced various wobbles about going and my initial instinct had been that there was no way with my illness and how I am that I would cope. However, after lots of information, advice and support from some fantastic people, I felt as prepared as I could be and off we went.

It was the first time I would be travelling with my mobility scooter so I was a little bit anxious about how it would go.  We flew with Jet2 and they require you to provide some information regarding the scooter beforehand.  Just basics like size and weight of it and they need details of the battery.  Mine is dry cell but if it's lithium it can be more complicated.  I had been suffering with anxiety about flying prior to travelling and again after advice and support, I put the techniques into place. My favourite one being if any thoughts pop into your head, tell them where to go!! My hubby's cousin also gave me some homeopathic remedies which seemed to help.  I actually watched the plane take off for the first time in forever (accidental Disney quote there!) and didn't have to squeeze anyone's hand either.  Unheard of with me!!!

The flight was only an hour so once we were up it was time to come down again.  All was good until there was some conflicting advice from the crew and the airport staff about whether I should stay on the plane to wait for my scooter (which is what I had told them I needed and I was ensured would happen) or get off and go into the terminal on the bus and they would put the scooter on the bus with me. That didn't happen and we ended up being sent on the bus but stuck in the terminal with no-one who understood what I was saying and no sign of the scooter. I got really upset and into a panic but eventually they brought the scooter and we could go. It had taken so long that ours was the only luggage still on the belt!!

We had booked transfers with Ezyshuttle who had been recommended and they were great. A nice "James Bond car" (according to my daughter) was waiting for us and the driver was lovely.  Really recommend them. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Disneyland, passing some pretty French houses on the way.

We were staying at the Sequoia Lodge hotel which has a Bambi theme.  We arrived and I don't think I (we!) could have been any more excited!!

We had booked the Golden Forest club level which has a private room for check in.  We were given all the information, park tickets and some pixie dust (random acts of kindness, my favourite!) in the form of some 25th anniversary badges. With Golden Forest you also get a lounge where a full buffet breakfast is served and the same lounge is used for snacks at a set time in the afternoon as well as unlimited free drinks up until 10pm. That means you can take bottles of water or cans of pop to your room and put in the fridge for the next day.  It's worth doing Golden Forest purely for that as it saves a fortune. You also get a fastpass per person per day, which can be used on certain rides.  Good for the others as I don't do big rides so they had to queue without me! Fastpasses meant they could get on quickly though and if you don't use them a certain day, the hotel will change them to use the following day.

We had an accessible room which was two interconnecting rooms. One with two double beds and the other a single bed and a bunk. There is a wet room as well as a bathroom with a shower over the bath. We had a lakeside view room and being on 7th floor, the view was fantastic!

It takes around 10/15 minutes walk to get from the hotel to the park depending on how fast you go. I often had my scooter on full speed but would have liked to go faster!! It's a lovely walk around the lake.

The Sequoia Lodge hotel is set in Woodland and birdsong music is played outside, which makes it feel really relaxed.  Also the reception level is actually on the 2nd floor but you can walk out of the main entrance doors at the front and follow the path round to the left which takes you to the lake. This means you can avoid having to use the other smaller lift from level 2 to ground and it doesn't take long at all.

One of the things you can get if you have a disability is a Green Pass which enables you to access both rides and meet & greets without the need to wait in the normal queue. It allows up to 4 people with you (other than at Illuminations the light and fireworks show, where you can have 2 people). There are various boxes on the pass and it depends on your disability as to which one gets ticked. Mine was being unable to stand or walk for long. We mainly used the exit of rides where a Cast Member would be and would help you on.

For meets with characters they have a certain amount of spaces and when they are gone they are gone, so you need to arrive early enough to either wait a short while or return at the time given. You go to City Hall in the main park to get the pass and can also use the Donald Duck desk in the studios I think. My Blue Badge (European Parking badge) was sufficient evidence but I know there are different things that will be accepted so it's worth having a look on the website for the information.  Link to website.

I couldn't have managed without the green pass.  Those of you who know me, or who understand what M.E is like, know how exhausted/disorientated I get and how fast, so not having to queue was so helpful. I was shattered enough as it was!!

We had a reservation the first night at the Hunters Grill buffet restaurant in the hotel (which was fab) so decided to wait until the next day to go into the parks properly.  There are a couple of security points as you go into the park/studios and you walk through the Disney Village which has various shops and food places.

It's so exciting as you get to the park entrance and once you go through the ticket machine you are there!  Apparently there is a disabled entrance to the very left but we didn't know about this although the queue moved fast so it wasn't a problem. You see Main Street in front of you and the castle right at the end. There is music playing and it's just magical.

The one thing we (well me and little Miss!) wanted to do on the first morning was meet Minnie.  We had worn our blue dresses with stars (obviously not hubby haha but my mum in law had joined in too!) for Disney's 25th anniversary theme to match the character's outfits. We found the Cast Member and there were only 2 families in front of us so we were told to wait and it was no time at all. Minnie was lovely and really liked what we were wearing!  So glad we met her, she's a babe.

We also had a Photopass which we had added to our booking before we went as it is a bit cheaper doing that than buying it there.  There are Photopass photographers at certain meets, on a selection of rides and a few in the park which we never saw unfortunately.  Once your photos have been taken they get added to your photos via the app each day and then once home you can print or whatever else you want to do with them.

After that it was time to explore and head to the castle which is just beautiful.  There is also a dragon under it which a lot of people don't seem to know about.

We did some rides and found the system with the Green Pass worked well.  I had a big list of tips and suggestions, including quieter places where I could sit and chill.  I had picked up these from various blogs, YouTube videos and from Disneyland Paris pages online.  My favourite one is Daniel Potter's Disneyland Paris advice on Facebook, which is a really lovely group and has so much fab information. I had bought some group badges from them before going and we actually got them in person from Daniel who was there with his lovely family at the same time! Funnily enough I recognised a few others from the group who were also there so we had a chat which was nice.

We had a meal booked at the Auberge de Cendrillon which is lunch with the Princesses at the Cinderella restaurant.  At the back of it is Cinderella's carriage which is gorgeous.

You are guaranteed four princesses and often two of the mice but sometimes Mickey or Minnie make an appearance. We had Snow White, Rapunzel, Ariel and Cinderella with her mice Suzy and Perla.

We had a half board meal plan - the meal plans really confused me at first but once you get your head around it it's quite easy to understand. Basically we got one voucher per person per night which covers you for a 3 course set menu including a soft drink, which is usually a higher value than the voucher. Sequoia Lodge is a Plus level hotel therefore you can eat at any of the restaurants under Plus plan for no extra money. If you wanted to eat at one of the Premium places then you pay a top up which is what we had to do at the Auberge.  It is expensive but absolutely worth it for the interaction you get with the characters!  The food was lovely too.

It was really nice having a proper break during the day and we did the same the following day at the Ratatouille themed restaurant Bistro Chez Remy. We loved it here and the food was again brilliant.

I really recommend a sit down lunch somewhere as it really does help you recharge a bit.  There are lots of counter service/fast food places as well as proper restaurants so it depends what you want but if we go again we will definitely get another food plan.  Half board was enough for us though and I think full board would have been too much as I would have felt like we were spending too much time sitting and eating! I also couldn't have handled another restaurant as by afternoon I was flagging and ready for a nap but some people love having two sit down meals each day.  It all depends what suits you.

The character meet & greets were brilliant and we didn't have time for them all sadly, but we managed to meet loads still including the main man Mickey, Village Belle, Alice, Chip n Dale, Mary Poppins & her 2 penguins, Merida, Aladdin, Jasmine and The Genie.

I really wanted to meet Moana as I was Disneybounding as her and little Miss was bouding as Pua!  Anyone unfamiliar with bounding, it is where you dress inspired by the character and in the same colours as them but it's not fancy dress. Adults aren't allowed into the parks in fancy dress either.

We were lucky in that we were in the queue for the Studios opening and when we got to where Moana does her meet, we were given a time for about 20 minutes later to come back. She was so nice and loved our outfits!  I didn't realise until we got home that she had written "To Moana" in my autograph book and "To Pua" in my daughter's book!!

After that we explored the Studios but it was 33 degree heat and pretty unbearable so we did as many indoor things as we could.  We eventually gave up and headed back to the hotel for a rest!

The shows are amazing at Disney and the Mickey and the Magician show felt like we were watching something on the West End. We also saw the Forest of Enchantment show on the last day before we had to leave and it was brilliant. That has now finished and it won't be returning which is a shame.

All the details around Disney are gorgeous.  I could just sit and look at everything for hours. You always see new stuff and it just takes my breath away how pretty it all is.

The parade happens every day at 5.30pm and we went to the Disabled area at the entrance to the It's a Small World ride. My little girl dressed as the Queen of Hearts and had some good interaction from characters. Alice bowed to her when she saw her!!  We loved all the floats and the dancing.  Such talent!

Illuminations is the lights and firework show and as we were there in the Summer, it didn't start until 11pm. We had all had a rest for a few hours in the afternoon so went back to the parks late evening and did some rides before getting a spot in the disabled area.  It was packed a long time before it started and such a long wait but was well worth it. I found it quite emotional and at one point I cried. I had my girlie sat on the scooter with me and thought she said "I'm crying", so I told her I was too but she said "no, I'm tired!!!"  Bless her, it was pretty late!  Mickey was waving at everyone as we left the park too which was nice.

I could say so much more about it all but I am aware I have already written a LOT so I think I will end it here and perhaps do another post with more photos in soon.

I am still in the Disney bubble despite still recovering and I am definitely not feeling as sad as I usually am when the M.E is bad!! It's keeping me smiling that's for sure.

If anyone has any questions then please do not hesitate to ask as I've probably missed loads out.  If you are thinking of going but are apprehensive then I totally understand.  I coped a lot better than I expected and I want to go back already!  There is no reason why you can't go to Disney if you have M.E or any other (chronic) illness.  There are good systems in place and all the Cast Members (we found) are lovely and really helpful. I charged my scooter overnight each day and it did me proud!!

I loved it there so much and would happily move in to the castle and stay amongst the magic.  They say Disney is the happiest place in the world and I have to agree.


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