Monday, 31 December 2012

Kin collection....

Yesterday was the gathering of the tribe at my house.....
Have to say this isn't all of us, there could have been five more!

We did spread out a bit round the house after the secret santa. We got through a mountain of food and there still seemed to be a mountain of leftovers hahaha.
We all had a great day, I love it when we all get together.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Family gathering prep...

Now Christmas day and boxing day have been and gone and the fridge is still groaning it was time to sort the leftovers. Most years my family gathering is on the 27th so 'leftovers' is not usually a problem but this year they are all coming here on the 30th.

Well after all that food prep and cooking before I didn't really feel like lots of cooking afterwards too so I kept it really simple. The turkey got stripped down and the white meat got sliced for sandwiches the rest got boxed into meal portions for the freezer and the cooked veg got diced mixed and boxed in portions too. What I plan to do sometime in the future is to take a box of turkey and a box of veg mix with gravy and top with mash or pastry, voila!

There were lots of cold roast potatoes, which I grated and added a mixture of cheeses, seasoning, good squirt of ketchup, big teaspoon of mustard powder, a couple of beaten eggs and about a dozen cream crackers ground to a powder (not as stodgy as breadcrumbs). This lot was formed into about 30 little patties and frozen on trays then bagged.

On Sunday we are hosting my family gathering, not everyone can make it but there will be 32 of us this year with a good mix of adults and children! Daughter is coming today to sort out our contributions for the buffet table. I've already got lots in the fridge and freezer and of course the cheese and potato patties will go in the oven then go on the table too.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The post festive post....

Just wanted to share some photos I couldn't show earlier...

The girls made their secret santa presents.

I made decorative pockets to put money presents in.

Hallway hat hooks for our collection of santa hats.

O improvised with cushion earmuffs when his sister used her new snare drum.

Of course two days were spent preparing the one meal and we all ate too much. And another very merry Christmas day has come to an end which I've enjoyed and I think everyone else did too.

Hope you had a very merry Christmas day too.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Nothing here....

I'm wrapping stuff I can't mention and I've finished sewing stuff I can't show you and I've ticked off lists I dare not tell you about.

But I can show you a picture of my wonderful grandchildren decorating the tree and someone seems to be hiding a santa hat :-)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Early present....

You already know that we've been holding a monthly coffee morning here for our neighbours, well I can't believe that it has been going for almost a year, we thought about it in January and invites went through doors and everyone gathered on the first Monday of February and the first Monday of every month since.

Yesterday one of our neighbours rang the doorbell and gave me this lovely basket and some beers for Hubby and said it was from all the neighbours as they so appreciate us opening our home to them all. How lovely eh?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Taking stock....

I'm now getting to the point of needing to check through what I've got so far to see what is left to get. Christmas happens every year of course so it should all be routine and easy and mostly mine is but there is always the nagging doubt that I'm not going to get it all done in time.....of course I will and it's only the 9th of December so no need to panic yet anyway!

There are no decorations up yet as mine are always done by the grandchildren who are not free just yet, so we have that in our diaries for the 14th. We have artificial trees (yes plural, the big one in the lounge goes at the back of the house so I also like my little one in the dining room window so it shows at the front). The tinsel and baubles have been collected all our married life plus added to by children's and grandchildren's home made and gifts from friends, the memories and stories are always repeated as they are favourite bit :-)  So nothing new to buy there.

A couple of main presents are money by request so I've juggled my accounts to make sure there's sufficient in the one attached to the cheque book. Actually this then highlighted the fact that a matured bond went into an instant access account that doesn't appear to be as instant access as I thought, so a lot more juggling and an email to the bank than should have been necessary.

All my cards have been written and posted, just a few left on the hall shelf that need hand delivering. Nearly all my presents have been bought, just have two special people to buy for and I'm sincerely hoping for inspiration to guide me on what to get them because so far they are big fat question marks on my list!

Of course I can't just wrap now and plonk under the tree because there's no tree yet so I'm hiding stuff upstairs but even that has needed extra thought as the children really love playing hide and seek EVERYWHERE hahaha

Lastly will be the menus and shopping list. Although I have to confess to having bought my turkey already. I would like to order a fresh bird for delivery the day before but I know I'd stress about it not arriving so frozen compromise is worth it to this stress free cook.

Today I'm leisurely sewing festive packaging for the money presents.

Of course the most reassuring thing is knowing that everyone else is planning, shopping and stock taking too. How's your Christmas prep going?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Grumpy grandma.....

No not me, how could you think that?

Granddaughter R had her end of term performance for drama group and she had the lead role. She was a fed up older lady worried about having a lonely Christmas because her young family had just emigrated to Australia.  At the end of the play, with help from her friends she received a laptop and was able to skype her family and watch her grandchildren unwrap their presents :-)

The day before Daughter and I were sorting out her costume. She was told to "wear something suitable" and to her as both her grandmothers wear normal jeans and jumpers she couldn't cope with us dressing her up. We tried hard to explain that it's necessary to exaggerate when you're on stage, so she reluctantly put on the floppy skirt, my slippers, an apron and turban tied headscarf and of course the two rows of beads.....then came down and announced to her sister "just look what they've made me wear!"

Well as we took our seats in the audience her drama teacher whispered to Daughter "great costume". The performance was excellent, everyone spoke clearly and remembered all their words and R was brilliant with her tray and making lots of tea and showing all her changing moods.

I'm a very proud grandma :-)

Friday, 30 November 2012

So thoughtful......

When Daughter and children arrived yesterday O had a gift for me, a 200 piece jigsaw recommended for age 5-10. They went to friends the day before and when there was an offer of "we've had a bit of a clear out and would anyone like this jigsaw?"  out of a room full of people O said "I would like it for my Grandma, she loves jigsaws"! How special is this grandson of mine and how special he makes me feel :-)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Yucky and yummy .....

When Daughter came over on the big baking day along with the ingredients she brought came a large pot of natural yoghurt that she popped in my fridge with every intention of taking home, but she forgot and I didn't see her again before it ran out of date. Well I really do not like yoghurt in any disguise either fruity flavoured or otherwise,  however I also hate waste.

So I hunted out the old recipe my sister always used for yogurt cake. SisterM had loved it's simplicity of using the yoghurt pot as the unit of measure and throwing all the ingredients into the bowl then mix then bake. I'd flavoured this batch with lemon extract but almost anything works well. This large pot of yoghurt and just enough self raising flour in the cupboard made three cakes in 2lb loaf tins and an extra bit in a 1lb loaf tin.

Of course that's when Daughter popped in with O, she was very pleased it got used and not binned and the little cake was cut into four and eaten almost straight from the oven, yummy! One has been sliced for this afternoon when Son and Fiancee are coming and two were wrapped and put in the freezer.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Top Cashback

Top Cashback
OK just have to say that I've found this a great site for getting cashback when I'm ordering online anyway all year round, but especially now right?
So I clicked on the share button and hopefully you can see the link just in case you'd find it useful too.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Man on his knees and girls in the kitchen......

Stupid title I know, but some days it's just brain freeze :-)

Tuesday Hubby had to spend all day replacing the carpet in the downstairs loo. Confined space with awkward bits to cut around and ours has shelves too that always seemed to be just above where his head needed to be. But sore knees and aching back were all worth it for a fresh clean floor. Thank you Hubby.

Yesterday Daughter came with all three children needing to bath and bake. I'm always impressed how she can be in the kitchen and bathroom when needed. I decided to stay out of the way until called for help. E made triple batch cheese thins, some to eat now, some frozen as dough to be Christmas presents and some frozen to cook for their Christmas camp. R made double batch marble cookies, some for camp and some for a present and saved a few aside for now. O made cookies too and also chocolate pecan brownies, some for camp and some for daddy and he left some very squidgy middle bits for us to eat up here. Mmmmm the house smelt so yummy :-)


Monday, 19 November 2012

Ready meals...

When I was a busy working mum who hated fast food as much as I hated wasted food, I got into the habit of freezing leftovers or I specially cooked extras into single portion meals. This proved to be so useful when the children were young and needed their dinner long before Hubby got home, or in the teenagers stage when I never knew who was home when. And now even though I'm retired with supposedly all the time in the world, I still cook massive dishes of certain foods even when there are just two of us eating so the rest can be boxed and labelled for the freezer.

This weekend these home cooked ready meals were a perfect solution again. On Saturday Daughter was going to a party with the girls and O was having a special daddy day with M, however, E and O needed to sleep here at my house because R had another dancing competition on Sunday that was a really early start and M was working so he couldn't have the children.

So the plan was M and O coming here late afternoon having had a big cooked lunch. Daughter would come here after the party (which didn't start till 4pm and was an hours drive away). Hubby was also out all afternoon doing charity collections at a local supermarket. So planning a meal was tricky, so I didn't even try lol. Turned out I fed three adults and a three year old with three shepherd's pies, microwave thawed then popped into the oven to crisp up the potatoes on top.

M took O up to bed and altho we heard a bit of story telling it went quiet for so long we realised they must have both been fast asleep. Daughter arrived just after 10pm and swapped E for M and went straight home. E was very soon in bed, she had promised O she would sleep with him in the double bed, but when we went up he was sprawled out over the middle of the bed and on top of the duvet so that took a bit of rearranging but finally both snuggled comfortably.

O woke at about 5am a bit upset because he'd forgotten where he was so I carried him into our bed and altho neither he or I actually got any more sleep he did settle for a good hour so we came down just after 6pm. Breakfast, tv and amusing ourselves went on for three hours before hubby and E got up. Hubby spent quite some time outside with O, E spent the afternoon at a local event with a friend, thanks to her friend's parents for providing the transport. Daughter thought they would be back late afternoon but a few text during the day let me know it was going to be nearer 7pm.

Then once again it was dinner out of the freezer come lots of little boxes.
E chose a vegetable casserole, hubby took the bbq chicken dinner and O and I shared a tuna pasta. Ping ping ping of the microwave and as we all sat with hot dinners Daughter and R arrived who instantly chose another tuna pasta and a shepherd's pie ping ping.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Through a tear....

I'm sitting on my sofa watching Children in Need and I can't stop counting my blessings, for the two wonderful and healthy children we have and more blessings with our beautiful grandchildren. No serious illness, no war zone, no poverty, no bullying or abuse!!!
As a family we are so lucky :)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

No vote.....

I'm really cross at having to admit that I won't be using my right to vote today :-(
Ever since I've been a voting adult I've voted unless I just wasn't in the right place at the right time. I'm not very knowledgeable of anything political, however, I do try to read each candidate's leaflet and discuss with Hubby his views and if I don't have a strong opinion I'll vote his way so at least my vote doesn't cancel his out.

Well today we have the cards for Election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk Police area. However, we have had no information about what this new post is, what it entails, what are the benefits or even who the candidates I'm not voting.

My apologies to the Pankhurst ladies and all the other sufragetes.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Plugged in and switched on.....

I really do love today's technology, for my own personal paperless (well greatly reduced) use and for social networking. For my age group I'm still impressed with myself for how I eagerly want to get stuck into each new bit of kit or software. I still don't like online games against the clock though!

Hubby and both of our children are very techy so it goes without saying that our grandchildren are too. As home educated children they use lots of the online resources, even the three year old knows his way around his favourite interactive sites and ipad games. Thankfully they all spend a lot of time away from a screen too.

Today while R was at her drum lesson and O had granddad outside with waterbombs E was using the laptop to chat to friends on Skype.  Now most of their friends (none of which live locally) use private chat groups, they often post what they have been doing to pass on good ideas, and of course it's getting easier for them to discuss and plan future projects they want to do together.

As for me I made bread, chollah, and O helped me shape rolls for lunch, plus a few emails to sort out where my friends and I are eating out tonight.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sorry for the rubbish.....

Been over a week since I last wrote mainly because life goes on in a normal sort of way (well my normal) and it would read a bit boring if I just repeated myself over and over........however, I've just discovered while trying to find the dates we went to Portugal (Hubby thought he could make a claim for our delayed flight but turns out he can't ) that my google calendar doesn't hold onto past entries. Never really noticed before as I've always scribbled in a diary, but the more I blog the less I scribble.

So I'll apologise now that this may get a bit like reading repetitive rubbish, but it's my rubbish that I want to remember, sorry.

So November so far...
1st - My normal art night. We were a bit worried that Joan wasn’t there for the second time, she is quite elderly so it may just be the cold weather putting her off, hopefully Sue will call round to check she isn't unwell. After art it was onto the truck stop as usual for live music and a little dancing. FriendM has a secret admirer, someone at the truck stop who has sent her flowers and paid for wine to be left for her behind the bar. Even though this admirer hasn’t contacted her face to face some others at the bar have told her who it is, but she's still none the wiser. Actually she's in a relationship anyway so not interested but it's a great source of conversation, speculation and hilarity.

2nd - Son came over and with Hubby and a hired van moved some of the stuff we had stored for him plus some furniture stored at his fiancé's parents to their home. This meant travelling from Colchester to Ipswich back to Colchester onto Wiltshire (to unload) then back to Ipswich and finally to Colchester all in a day.

3rd - Early visit from son to take the van back, a coffee and chat then he was gone. Lovely to see him but sadly his fiancĂ©'s dad has terminal cancer of the esophagus so we talked a lot about that. Hubby and I took the paintings from myself and three others from my art group to be exhibited. That evening Hubby and I went next door to share a chinese takeaway with FriendsP&A, our first meal together since A fell and broke his pelvis 2 months ago. P&A insisted on paying as a thank you for our help (mostly Hubby) so thank you very much P&A.

4th - lovely day with Daughter and children here for a Sunday roast, yummy.

5th - Our monthly coffee morning, think there were 11 of us which included NeighbourA when hubby brought him round in a wheechair which was a bit tricky but worth it. Of course it was Guy Fawkes but we didn't go out that evening just caught glimpses of some very local fireworks.

6th - Hubby had gone to a friends to help him remove some trees and bushes so I had my lovely grandchildren all to myself while Daughter had to be elsewhere for a few hours. All four of us had fun playing with words. I discovered later that what we were doing was called "acrostic".

7th - Can't remember what happened during the day so guess it was nothing exciting. The evening was a pub meal with my usual Wednesday night gang of friends.

8th - We were asked to babysit the children as Daughter and M had been invited out for a social get together with Daughter's dance group, however, the children asked if they could sleepover here instead of me going there. All fine and beds made ready and dinner cooked when they arrived, only problem was O was asleep in the car and Daughter said he had been asleep for quite a while. So we had a slightly difficult dinner time and a long evening with lots of stories in bed for him then he was up again and the girls went up before him. Eventually he fell asleep after taking himself to bed curled up with R in the double bed at 11:30pm.

9th - We got up to find R and O snuggled under a blanket on the sofa watching TV. They had been up since 5:45am. Thank you R. Daughter came later armed with food to cook for us as a thank you. Actually with such a tired O her cooking didn't all go according to plan but we did end up with a lovely dinner so well done to her!

10th - Came and went with just us two. Washing done and windows cleaned and my full kitchen windowsill of jugs all washed.

And that brings me to today. While Hubby was out with a huge crowd of bikers riding to Duxford for the Rememberance Day Service, I did some catching up with blog reading, repotted a plant and cleaned up my mess (doesn't soil spread a lot?), vacuumed downstairs and wrote out the birthday cards needed for the next few weeks, I fixed a bracelet for Daughter and made Hubby lunch when he got back frozen, then wrote this blog! Late this afternoon we went off to Woodbridge to collect our paintings, none sold, shame.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Halloween for us took much the same format as it's always done, I really like building up traditions that the children will remember. We are happy giving out sweets to those that knock trick-or-treating but I've never let my children go and we don't let the grandchildren go either. So we have always done the pumpkin lanterns and decorated the table for a themed dinner then out in the dark with torches because we are so lucky to be right under the witches flight path and on a windy night their party goodies sometimes gets blown off the back of broomsticks right into our garden :-)

Dinner this year was swamp and seaweed with bones on the side (forgot to take a photo), washed down with magic potion that came out of the bottle fizzy and clear but poured into the glasses blue or red or yellow or green. Dessert was eyeballs and worms, slime tarts and white mice and some very odd mutant spiders!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Rained off, rained on and scared....

Saturday we'd arranged for me to go with Daughter to Cambridge for the Festival of Ideas. Daughter was a participant with the Tudor musicians and dancers. R and E were being Tudors too and M had said he would have O at home as he would have D as well, however, he then had to work so I said I'd go with and while the Tudors were entertaining for 2 hours in the afternoon I'd hopefully find enough to entertain O and D. We woke that morning to yukky weather, rainy, cold and grey and as the morning progressed it got worse and we even saw some hail. So after a few text and phone calls between Daughter and I we decided that she will go (she won't let people down) and I'd childcare at home in the warm and dry. Hubby was out for the day and not surprisingly the girls wanted to stay here too so it was me and four children. At the last moment it turns out M wasn't working so he came too. I had thought of a few fun things to entertain but it seemed that all the 3 older children wanted to do was be on the computers upstairs with M on his too. O was downstairs with me but I couldn't get him off daddy's ipad playing his games. So I did little more than catering and waiting in case they wanted something.

Saturday ended with some conflict and upset and E asked to sleep over so her and I could do something on Sunday together. So after we were up, washed, dressed and had breakfast we headed out. Unfortunately we were restricted on time as I had a supermarket delivery booked for early afternoon. I had found online that there was a small craft market on for a few hours and it was right near the huge new Next store that E was keen to have a look around. But first we needed to blow some cobwebs away by an outside walk and we decided on the prom at Felixstowe (anywhere that was woods or fields would be far too muddy after all yesterday's rain). We set off with it a bit chilly and a breeze and a little sunshine too.....sunshine didn't even last the 20 minute journey and we parked with the wipers going! We decided to still get out and have a walk and got back to the car just over half an hour later quite chilly and soggy, but rosy cheeked and glad we had. Then to the craft market of only about 8 or 9 stalls and very few customers so we felt sorry for them and spent some money with two of the sellers. Then into Next where E took the lead and inspected everything (she really loves shopping) while I followed. We confirmed how much clothing allowance she had left and she chose four items to try on and bought two of them. I love that this 10 year old knows her own mind, knows what she likes and what suits her, can budget and even considers value for money <proud grandma moment>! We got home and finished our late lunch just in time as my shopping arrived, so together we put it all away. When Daughter and R arrived on their way home from R's dancing competition we were told that R had done really well and with a new partner. They had done about 6 different dances and reached 5th in one dance and 6th in another (I think) <another proud grandma moment>.

Monday Daughter, R, E, O and I went to Hollow Tree Farm and met Daughter's friend and her little boy there too. Every year they decorate up the farm and lay on some extra activities all Halloween based. It's a lot of fun and a great day with the bonus of sunshine keeping us warm. The girls wanted to move a lot faster than the little boys so I went ahead with them and as the farm isn't huge we all met up various times. The girls and I did our final lap and decided we'd finished so out of the gate across the car park and then I text Daughter to say we were waiting for them in the cafe....that's when she rang me to say they had lost O so the three of us got permission to go back in and join the search. We knew he couldn't be far and the whole place was full of parents with young children so if he was crying and alone someone would intervene but it's sooooo scary to not have sight of your three year old and we were all relieved when he was found right the other side of the farm and mother and sobbing son were reunited. Turns out he wasn't sobbing because he'd been lost as he knew exactly where he was and were he was going...he was sobbing because he'd been found and brought back as he'd wanted to catch up with grandma!!!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Winter draws on...

That title is another of my mum's little sayings that always made us giggle, but I don't think anyone these days would call knickers 'drawers' so maybe nobody would get the pun. But it makes me think of mum and smile so that's all that matters really :)

The last few days have been all fog and drizzle and although not cold yet it definitely feels like winter is on the way and I need to think of indoors, snuggle down, fun things to do both for me and for when the children are here and getting a bit shut-in crazy.

Nothing knitting or sewing just now, so need a new project?
Got loads of books waiting to be read at times when I'm sitting all alone (and hubby doesn't come in and put the TV on).
I've got a scrap-collage rainbow box half done, to be getting on with too.

For screen time if I have a child on one-to-one, maybe I'll have a look through BBC Bitesize with them.
I've also started a monthly ideas and challenge list that we can all take part in. I've done it in a sort of lap-book folder style, with a top sheet that can list what we have done and has space underneath to stick photo evidence or more detail.

There is usually a reasonable amount of baking done so hopefully my freezer will benefit and if it's not a wet winter there will still be lots of outdoor days.

Meanwhile there will be Christmas to plan for but first I've a Halloween menu to come up with.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Excuse me for butting in....

Sometimes when I'm reading blogs I'm never sure if it's polite or not to comment. Of course there are the few blogs of people I know well and that's just like having a conversation with them...but then there are the blogs you have picked up along the way and then I can feel like the lonely person at a party, eavesdropping on a group having a great chat and should I or shouldn't I push myself forward to join in?

Strangers can be friends we haven't met yet, so they say! And of course if you've written words that are published in a public domain then you obviously want readers and responses, right? So I have and the authors always seemed pleased that I have. But what about friends of my friends, would they feel I was muscling in on their friendships? Oh the moral dilemmas!!! Guess I'm making far too much of this eh?

So for me this space is often just a diary so I remember, sometimes it's more like a letter to a friend but always it hopes to welcome you when you pop in and say hello.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Time flies.....

It's true that time is so relative to what and how we feel about our actions. This week I met up with my old work friends and still find it hard to believe that I took forced redundancy three and a half years ago, although it usually feels like I've been a lady of leisure all my life as I love this lifestyle and can barely remember the daily ritual of alarm clocks and office routines.

There's an art exhibition coming up and stuck for ideas of something new to put in I decided to unframe a previous pastel and improve it. I used to sign my paintings with my initials and year, and this one is 19 years old, that surprised me, hopefully I've improved my techniques since then and improved it to something others will enjoy and may even purchase ;-)

I'm now thinking about printing up a monthly "challenge" chart for me, the children and anyone else that may want to join in. Sometimes I feel like time has disappeared and what have I achieved, so I think I'll list things to give me/us a nudge. When I've thought it through a little more and come up with a plan I'll blog this space!

And yesterday was finally to the dental appointment I've waited a month for, how long that month has seemed, painful tooth and two lots of antibiotics needed and now the tooth is out. Let's hope the healing time just whizzes by.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Under attack....

Had a day out with Daughter and O on Friday after dropping the girls off at a 5 hour big science workshop, it was too far to drive home and back again.

The weather was not good for any outdoor pursuits, it had been raining for at least 12 hours and many places would be really muddy. So we headed into Woodbridge. After a little mooch we stopped for a coffee. O just loves his 'baby chino' and also chose a huge slice of chocolate cake!  I said I would share it with him but he was not giving any of it up without a fight. Small note here of gratitude that Daughter had wet wipes in her bag as I was sitting next to flying chocolate cake wearing a bright yellow mac, should have known better eh?

After coffee we did more mooching, shoe shop where O nearly got some new boots but he didn't want them as they were not brightly coloured, book shop where O bought a book, charity shop and a lot of window shopping too. Then all of a sudden Daughter felt unwell, she looked exhausted and said she could just lie on the pavement and go to sleep  :-(
We decided to stop for lunch. Daughter could barely eat half of her sandwich and of course O was still full from his cake and totally entertained by his new book so he ate little, I ate all mine but felt I had to apologise to the waitress when I paid in case they thought there was something wrong with the food.

We headed straight back to the car and left Daughter there to hopefully have a sleep while O and I spent an hour in the nearby park. At the end of the carpark near the park gate there is a paneled wall that has been painted on, must have been a mural painting project of some time ago as lots of the paint is now flaking but we both enjoyed looking at it all on the way in and out of the park.

Couldn't leave Daughter any longer as we had to collect the girls, so we went back to the car with O taking a lovely golden leaf as a present for mummy. Collected the girls then dropped E at choir on our way back.  Daughter went straight home to bed and hubby then took over E's transport needs for the evening.

Saturday lunchtime I suddenly started to feel unwell, my stomach wouldn't stop gurgling and rumbling and I couldn't eat anything. I had the total shivers and ended up under a pile of blankets. Headache and my legs were has someone declared germ warfare? Hope you are fighting fit.....but best stay on guard!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Grape success.....

We have two grape vines in our garden, they are both dessert grapes one white and one black. They always produce lots of fruit that taste delicious, unfortunately for those of us totally spoilt by supermarket big fat juicy seedless varieties my homegrown seem so tiny and so full of seeds that they are a real bother to cook with and far too many to eat so most years they get given away.

This year after talking to a neighbour who makes grape jelly in her pressure cooker every year I had another go. My neighbour said she hates the very labour intensive prep of picking the grapes off the stalks so she does just a small amount at a time as they ripen then freezes them ready for when needed. What a great idea, so that's what I did. Freezing also kills off any little bugs I hadn't noticed so felt happier doing it that way too.....or is that just spider cryogenics!!!

I used 2kilo of fruit, half and half black and white grapes plus added a couple of apples for the extra pectin. Straining the pulp down to the clear liquid was a very sticky and messy process and I seemed to use every utensil in my kitchen - got it sorted eventually so will be much easier next time.

And eventually 2 pints of clear juice produced 6 full jars of jelly and a good third in a jar for sampling.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Hunting the house.......

I know it's only a bit of paper but losing anything I know I had is always so much bigger!
I used to be so organised and so meticulous about storing stuff, admittedly storing far too much stuff as I'm a total hoarder. However if you wanted something I would always know if I had it or not and exactly where it was!  Seems not any more!

Last year our art group was invited to join a local exhibition. I was the organisers point of contact and was sent all the relevant paperwork by email. I printed and copied enough for all our members and spares and added a covering letter offering to submit our forms and payments together and to get all our paintings checked in and out at the appropriate times. I listed everything they need to do like labelling and wrapping.........and mostly it all worked just fine.

This year it's happening again and the organisers haven't left me much time to sort out my members so the easiest for me would be to adjust the dates on last year's letter but could I find it, no I could not. I hunted on every computer and memory stick, I'd typed it out so why wasn't it saved somewhere?  I hunted through all my bags and boxes that I would use for art looking for the spare paper copies which would also save me lots of printer ink as most of the pages are the same......but couldn't find them either.

So with little time left I typed up another covering letter and decided I needed 20 copies of it and each of the three pages I had on the email. That entailed using a combination of the three rescued and repaired printers, the running out of ink on the easiest one (almost having to empty the cupboard to discover no spare black cartridge), the running out of paper on the one on the shelf high enough for me to need the toddler step out of the bathroom, and having to wait for hubby to get home to sort out the settings on the third because that's on a shelf too high for me even with the step, and finally needing to use the scanner too. I'm so glad I don't work in an office anymore!

Handed out the forms Thursday evening and now fingers crossed it all goes to plan and someone sells something.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wrong year for the plague....

Poor Daughter wanted a fun five days as a tudor playing her new Rauchefife and eating pottage, however, various unwell people have changed plans for her and us. Firstly R was unwell so stayed behind, then O was unwell so Daughter brought him home Saturday stayed the night then she went back early morning leaving O behind, R had also decided not to go at all, with us sharing the children's entertainment with M.

Yesterday we held our monthly coffee morning. I love it that our neighbours are enjoying the chat and keep coming. There were 10 of us round the table this time. One couple were just back from a Canadian holiday, there was sharing of hats and scarf patterns for putting into charity boxes, and a quick lesson on jam making for the tiny grapes we get on the vine in our garden, and everyone wanted an update on A next door who has broken his pelvis and is housebound for the next couple of months.

Unfortunately for M he had been unwell overnight and got a doctor's appointment for early afternoon, so after our coffee morning guests had gone we collected the children and brought them back here. Having finally got O's tudor coat dry after dinner hubby reunited him with his mum at Kentwell (did I mention it's an hours drive from here) and R decided to sleep here instead of going home. Such a shame there was nothing good on tv for our evening relax and R didn't want to play a game so we watched her choice which was Sponge Bob x1, Finneas and Ferb x2 and Simpsons x2   :{

I was first up this morning but not till 8:30am and there was already a txt on my phone from Daughter saying that O had the runs and she would need to bring him home. Camping at Kentwell is definitely not the place to be with an unwell three year old :( So Daughter with O arrived here and together with R Hubby and me we had breakfast and following many games later by lunch. O was really pleased to have R to play with and did some pool playing and den building together, he also got granddad tennis playing and got me setting up and packing away his painting session and boardgame playing. Daughter headed back to Kentwell disappointed to have missed a whole day and back to E who is loving it there, and as M is still unwell both children are sleeping here, this is the first time for O. He's asleep now after a long story downstairs from granddad and another story from me upstairs........keeping everything crossed!!!

There is no record of a plague in East Anglia during 1556 but without being able to run home to the warm and dry and modern medicine you can understand how they would have suffered and spread germs.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Weekend one-to-ones......

Thought we were having a 'just us' weekend as Daughter and children were off to Kentwell Hall to be Tudors from Friday afternoon till next Wednesday, however as with all best plans there are hiccups. Poor R was unwell on Thursday and even after a really good night's sleep she was too wobbly to join in their busy morning on Friday or head to Kentwell and set up camp with the rest, so she came here.

It's always special to have a child on their own for a while and thankfully R was well enough to want to do something. When she arrived she noticed near the front door a grasshopper/cricket so I passed her my camera and she selected macro setting and got a great photograph despite the sun being on the screen so she had no idea what was exactly in front of the lens.

We printed it and put it into her folder then googled (and giggled) and discovered it was a grasshopper, because crickets are nocturnal and have very long antenna. We found out lots about the grasshopper and R wrote some bits onto our fact-finding / things-to-think-about sheet.

She spent some time upstairs with granddad, each on a computer and then she came outside with me to harvest some of our grapes. When I was sitting preparing the grapes for the freezer R had an urge to test out smells by gathering flowers and herbs and crushing them in the pessle and morter and regularly sticking it up my nose for my opinion. Really interesting to discover that cow parsley flowers really sweetened the mix and both sage and mint will overpower quite easily.

I often think some of her wobblyness is due to not eating, drinking or sleeping enough. She loves lots of foods but finds eating any quantity difficult, so because lunch was healthy but small with a lack of carbs we decided to make a honey cake and had that just before taking her home to have dinner with M and D.

As she now felt so much better the plan was to collect her at 8:45am Saturday and take her to her drama group while Hubby stayed to drastically cut back their front garden hedge. We were all done by 11:30am so left M to give Rand D lunch and dinner and afternoon entertainment and Hubby and I went home promising to come back at 5pm to take R to Kentwell.

About 4:30pm Daughter rang to say don't come here as we are coming home because O has been sick twice! Hardest thing for Daughter was E didn't want to come home and was more than happy to sleep in the camper on her own, at least there were friends camping very near that were glad to look out for E overnight.

Sunday and thankfully O is fine. Daughter said they have changed the water at Kentwell to coming out of a bore hole and O drank a little before they found the bottled water saved specially for the children. So Daughter needed to get straight back but O had been sick on his tudor coat which she had washed and was now soaking wet and M can manage D and R and still get some work done but can't do the same with O so we have him for the day and if we can get his coat dry take him to Kentwell after 5:30pm or home if it's still wet. The coat is made of pure wool with a linen lining so really holds the wet but we dare not tumble dry in case it shrinks! So while it hangs off the curtain rail by the sunny open window and then moved to the bathroom radiator once the heating came on, we played.

Seems to have become a bit of a habit here that O wants to wear my makeup, well today he decided to do his own.

Lots of different games were brought out and played with and a game of pool with granddad, balloon playing a bit of tv and making his own marble run. Somehow we managed to fit in breakfast, lunch, cake and dinner.

Took him home at 6pm and hopefully his coat, now taking prime spread out space in the airing cupboard, will be dry so we can return him to 1556 tomorrow evening.

Our monthly coffee morning tomorrow so this evening I'm not getting off the sofa, need to get my energy back :)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Tudor hats...

As I've mentioned before Daughter and her children have time travelled back to 1556 for Tudor reenactment in the summer and they are going back again for Michealmas (sp?). She has been sewing for ever creating authentic outfits for them all. And now of course the weather is so much cooler than the summer so Daughter is sewing yet more layers for them.

Recently she discovered that as wool would have been readily available with spinners and knitters it was a known method of making hats to knit them then felt them with hot washing, soap and lots of agitation.  Daughter doesn't like knitting so I helped. We created 4 hats of various sizes and the slightly different wools felted to different degrees.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ouch ouch ouch.....

I've got toothache :-(
Had it since Saturday but not bad enough then to bother doing anything about it. Got worse Sunday but of course the dentist doesn't open on Sundays and not severe enough to warrant A&E. Monday I had a day of events I couldn't really change but rang the dentist to make an appointment for Tuesday, however, they will only give out emergency appointments on the day so had to ring 8:30am Tuesday and eventually got an appointment for 3:30pm with a different dentist (my one was off sick).

I told him there was a hole in a bottom tooth but I was getting pain both top and bottom gum/jaw line with it being most painful at the top, he said that was normal for nerve pain. He put a temporary filling in the hole and said he would leave a note for my dentist to sort it all out at my next appointment (already booked for about 6 weeks time).

All well and good I thought but the pain never eased up and even now, a full 24 hours later and it still hurts enough to need regular paracetamol. :-(

So do I ignore it for a day or two, hoping it will go because it now has a filling in?
Or do I make another appointment for the stand-in dentist to take another look?
Or do I wait until my dentist is back then get her to see me as an emergency appointment?
Or should I bulk buy paracetamol and wait till my next booked appointment?
I suppose it will depend on the level of pain, because as much as I really hate dental treatment I hate pain more!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Did I miss you.......

Hubby left on Wednesday 5th for a weeks holiday with a friend, in Spain.
There are four friends from school days that lost touch and now meet up regularly again. They all used to be into aircraft spotting in a big way, yes real anoraks (giggle if you want I always did). Not so unusual in fact as they were West London boys living right near Heathrow airport.

This holiday was planned for the four of them mainly to give the one that had been unemployed for a very long time a holiday. Hubby had rented the villa we went to last year as it's quite near Murcia airport which is both military and civilian. Although he did say he wasn't planning on spending much time playing with planes!

By the time of booking one friend dropped out as he said he couldn't get the time off work, but we really think his wife wouldn't let him go. All booked and flights paid for the three of them when the job-seekers guy finally gets a job and they won't honour his holiday! So just the two of them went!

Thursday  - He didn't leave home till 2pm and I'd already had offers from friends to join them in this that and the other so I won't get lonely but I was really looking forward to having the house to myself and doing as I pleased. Fed the fish (big responsibility as he loves his pond). Out that evening anyway at our regular art group followed by a late night with live music at the truck stop.

Friday - Fed the fish. Daughter came over with the children. They should have gone to a HomeEd group but when R said she didn't want to go could she come to grandma's it sort of snowballed till none of them wanted to go. The theme at the group had been storytelling so we did that here instead. We made four little books and we each drew the front cover then passed it round so the next person wrote something to go with the picture then draw the next picture and pass it on. About 12 pages to each book. We then had great fun reading the books out loud. Later the children set up a nightime camping scene in the bedroom complete with moon and stars. We had a dinner of pasta with a chicken and bacon sauce I'd previously made and frozen for just this sort of  'I need a dinner quick' occasion. Fed the fish.  In the evening I was on taxi duty to collect E from percussion class and take her to trampoline training.

Saturday - Got a call from hubby on Skype which was lovely. Bit of housework, bit of gardening, feeding the fish twice, daughter with two children stopped by for lunch then left to collect third child, made and covered a box to keep CDs in, and an evening with O while the others went out for dinner with friends (too late to expect a three year old to wait for his dinner). Also had an offer from next door that if I get scared or lonely to knock anytime :-)

Sunday - Fed the fish and stood for ages watching them splash about chasing the food, lots of baby fish in there too. Had a Skype chat with hubby. Enjoyed a really long shower. Had a nostalgic read through some old diaries. Sat outside in the sun (think it's about 25C). Then just to break the rhythm a bit I popped down to Asda and spent far too long just mooching round the clothes and household stuff then bought the few bits I needed along with a few extras then home....seems I only have my pace set to slow today.  However I'd just pulled into my garage when daughter rang my mobile to say E had fallen off her bike and couldn't ride home so they were stuck at the station with two bikes and could I come rescue them please, lucky I hadn't turned the engine off eh? Round trip then home again, much to the confusion of my neighbour, and thankfully my frozen shopping still felt frozen! Car temperature gauge read 31C. No other dramas so a quiet night in with the tele.

Monday - An exhausting day with daughter and children, there was some happy play but mostly it was a lot of throwing stuff around especially a full mug of hot chocolate, then a lot of running through the dinning room while I'm trying to mop it all up, then a slip on wet floor making both adults think that a child may need A&E fortunately it seemed better really quickly. Poor daughter was doing so much cooking as O had bought green bananas and cooking apples but wanted to cook them separately (he actually wanted mummy to cook and provided very little help. She'd bought bacon and rolls for lunch but one girl is veggy and the other insisted on having tuna and cheese instead. Dinner was a bit hotch-potch too as it wasn't planned for and my freezer was limited and uninspiring and made doubly difficult by a child's full on sobbing tantrum because daughter had said she was not getting a dog! Hope daughter can get over her tired and grumpy to enjoy her evening out.

Tuesday - A much quieter day all round, fish feeding, talking to hubby on Skype, emptying the bins around the house and putting the wheelie bins down the road and lots of ironing but quite a bit of tea drinking and reading too :o) Out in the evening with the Tuesday Girls.

Wednesday - A cold and rainy day here, while hubby on Skype gloated that they went out to an old airfield in the morning and to the beach to see the mud bathers but it was far too hot for sightseeing so they were just lazing by the pool at the villa! Meanwhile I fed fish ad cleared the ironing and cleaned some windows. Nice evening out with friends too.

Thursday - Last night of having the bed to myself, I was getting quite used to sprawling :o)
But also have a little list of jobs waiting for hubby's return :o)
Fish feeding and there are two hugely pregnant fish that must be about ready to fill the pond with more babies. Didn't do much this morning then popped over to Daughter's for lunch. Made a nice change going over there and spending  the afternoon playing with the children. Hubby has just text to say he's landed and waiting for their luggage so should be home about 10pm-ish. yes I was busy and also enjoyed lots of pleasing myself but I did miss you!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My way (#9)...

Over the years I seem to have developed some very definite ways of doing things and usually it's for a very good reason, so I thought I'd share. 

I've just finished a huge pile of ironing and was left with a blouse that always falls off clothes hangers and of course I didn't have a spare hanger that has the not slip ends so I wrapped a rubber band around each end and that did the trick. I've done it this way for years and the only thing to watch out for is after quite some time the rubber bands perish and need replacing, but even then they have never left a mark on my clothes.

What's your way?

Monday, 3 September 2012

It takes two.....

Yes it takes two grandparents to keep a three year old amused and entertained for the day. Sunday O was here with us from 8:30am to 4:30pm. We did another breakfast while playing on the floor with the 7in1 pool table/basketball /golf/football /etc set so little balls flying everywhere.  We did some gardening and watering which came to an abrupt end when he remembered that he really needed to make a banana cake then thoroughly lick every bowl and spoon and whisk clean (they were clean he wasn't) which was immediately followed by another session in the garden so all manor of garden dirt could embed itself onto his bakers sticky limbs.

So that’s when we moved swiftly into the bathroom and into the bath. He found a disposable plastic glove (used to keep them handy for hair dyes) and played with that for ages, getting me to hold it open while he filled it up then squeezed it out. I managed to put a whole or two in it without him noticing and the subsequent leakage caused great amusement.  Eventually it was scrubbing, hairwashing, out, drying and dressing. O wanted to dry his own hair in my room with my hairdryer that has the rotating brush then ended his beauty treatment with needing my makeup on!

All this and it was only lunchtime :-)

The afternoon continued after sandwiches and the freshly baked banana cake (good but it had forgotten to rise so a bit heavy). He then wanted a creative interlude with gluing pictures to decorate a box, followed by painting, but only in yellow, and potato printing and folding and squelching......well he'd been clean for a little while! Then enough creativity and granddad was dragged outside to play tennis then inside for a game of pool, then outside again for more tennis!

And of course we had the continuous stream of 'why' questions which I just love about little ones punctuated by lots of cuddles which I love even more. Thanks O come again soon!  <3

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New Costly Plot.....

Last night I headed into our town centre to meet friends and have a meal in a lovely restaurant.  Parking in town is expensive at the best of times, however there is a small car park near the restaurant that is free after 8pm so that's where I was heading.

Totally scuppered by gas main repairs which had closed some roads, reduced others to access only or made others part of a one way diversion! So having driven around all manor of routes and now being a bit late I was forced to use the NCP which has to be paid for 'At all times'.

So in a massive car park I left my car with only about half a dozen others. Alongside the ticket machine were notices of how to pay with your phone your credit card or even online but I wanted a ticket and the machine wouldn't take my money! There were two women chatting nearby so I called across to ask them if they knew how the machine worked and one of them came over to help. She said I had to put my registration number in before it would take money but as she didn't have her glasses on I would have to read the instructions.

It said - no need to display ticket as machine has all details
I believed it
It said - press orange button then key in last three letters of your registration number
I did
It said - insert coins to the value of parking time required
I inserted £3.40 for 2 hours from 20:06 as that was all the change I had
It said - press green button for ticket
I did and it didn't!!!
Read through it all again and kept pressing green button but no bit of paper was ejected and the helpful woman had already left me, so I just headed off to meet my friends assuming the car park attendant who may or may not come round will be electronically connected to the ticket machine and all my details.

Some time later (ok more than 2 hours) I was escorted back to my car where my friends and I discovered the dreaded plastic bag stuck to my windscreen. I made light of it to my friends and sent them on their way. I was convinced I'd have to pay a fine as the attendant must have been round after my fee had run out, however,  when I got home I read it and was first shocked to read it was £100 or £50 if paid within 14 days but then really pleased to read that my car was first sighted at 21:33 and the NCP Contravention Charge was issued at 21:44 so I was well within my paid for time!

Today I filled in their online appeal form.......fingers crossed eh?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Reflections with a chicken....

I have a little chicken
That sits up on the shelf
And everytime I look at it
I think about myself

It isn't old, it's very new
But somehow it reflects
The who I was and now am
And what may happen next

I have a little chicken
My sister has its twin
Our Portugal reminder
When sharing our sadness within

The Algarve symbol was chosen
Just something to hold in the palm
Precious much more than its value
As it links our hearts with its charm

I hope our eldest sister
Looks down on us to see
Three sisters staying close
When four there really should be

Life goes on of course
Our path not always our picking
But my now is a bit better cos
I have a little chicken!

...actually it sits on the microwave but that is so hard to rhyme to!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Not quite right....

Think I've mentioned before that Hubby and I often have very different opinions on what we need or how to furnish our home, well today was another example.

For the last five or six years I've put up with a very large silver and glass spaceage tv stand in the lounge. I'd have preferred a piece of furniture, pine to match what we already have.  Well Hubby has recently bought a new TV without any discussion,  when in fact there didn't really appear to be any obvious need for a new one and of course finding a good place to put the discarded one wasn't easy and they certainly are not worth trying to sell secondhand. So I'm putting it down to him feeling guilty when he suddenly announced he was measuring up to have a pine unit made.

My specific requests were...
The shelving must be adjustable "as you are always replacing the equipment."
The width and depth must be bigger than the largest bit of kit we already have "as you are always replacing the equipment."
The colour must match the unit that is behind it as that's what it will sit nearest to.
I would like it big enough to hide most of the cables and wires that spaghetti behind tv/sky box/dvd/wii/etc.

Well Hubby did lots of measurements and scribbles on sketches and took photos of existing furniture and even took a drawer in for them to match to. However,  it arrived today (and it wasn't cheap) and to me it's the wrong shape, too shallow, too narrow and too dark!!!!!!! No part of it is wide enough to take the wii fit plate so that is shoved underneath and one of the dvd players is hanging over the front edge and Hubby has had to drill a whole in it as he'd designed a gap in the centre back for plugs to go through but didn't allow a gap for the things at the side.

Well it's lucky for him I'm not cross, it's only a lump of wood after all and to me it still looks better than what was there before!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Sympathies and celebrations.....

8th August 2012 - Was my sisterM's funeral. So very sad, however, so very calm at the same time. She had organised it all herself. As we are Jewish our funerals need to happen as soon as possible so we were relieved that it could happen just 60 hours after she died. The retired Rabbi that she'd already asked was available and her plot was booked in the very newly consecrated woodland area. SisterM had even written her own eulogy outlining how grateful and honoured she had felt for the life she had lived and she had included thank-yous and humour!  Love you sis, really miss you!
BilA had said there would only be the one night shiver (mourning and prayers) and he insisted that hubby and I together with sisterS and bilK were to go on holiday as booked and not cancel or even postpone flights. With heavy hearts we said our goodbyes and got home just before 11pm :o(

9th - 16th August 2012 - Portugal holiday
2am the alarm went off and although hubby and I got up, ready and out I'm sure it was all done in my sleep!  We met sisterS and bilK at the Gatwick check-in desk at 4am and our holiday started.

At the end of the holiday we all agreed it had been brilliant and we must holiday together again......Sorry I jumped right to the end without saying that transport wise it was easy getting there, a bit of a delay on the flight home, we used the local tourist train

and hired a car for three days (phew so grateful for the air-con). Temperatures were around 30-36C and reached 38C a few times so all air-con gratefully received!

Our spacious self catering apartments were in the Vila Petra hotel in Albufeira and we took full advantage of the facilities and restaurants and bars there as well as finding great places to eat on The Strip including the very traditional Cataplana, twice in fact, I shared a chicken one with sisterS and a seafood one with bilK, on different days of course as they are very filling and very yummy! BilK with his assistant sisterS on toast and tea, cooked us breakfast twice too in their apartment and afternoon tea and cake was usually in ours. Actually this started because I had a birthday and was totally surprised by a fabulous celebration cake being presented to me courtesy of the hotel,  how lovely eh? So started our tea and cake break :o)

We got out and about every day bar lazy Sunday. We did a lot of walking and the route to the nearest beach was known locally as "cardiac hill" which thankfully we all managed (slowly). We visited Portimao and ate grilled sardines on the harbour overlooking the marina. We had a very long walk round the fort at Segras which was really interesting but would have been better for me if there had been a few shady places. Within the fort there seemed to be a special art exhibition and dotted around were a collection of very large sculptures of very curvy and very colourfully shiny nude women reclining on plinths, no we didn't believe what we were seeing either!

Other places included Lagos (pronounced Lahgosh apparently) and Vilamoura and we all really liked the Old Town Albufeira.

We found a lot to laugh about. Not totally sure how it started but the main joke was ice-cream being called "licky-licky" and our requests for licky-licky were frequent then it progressed to a difficulty becoming "tricky-tricky", fingers "sticky-sticky", cameras "clicky-clicky" get the gist?

So we all had a great time but most importantly of all was having plenty of time to talk about sisterM and how we're feeling without having to put on a brave face for anyone. It was a good place to heal a little and return stronger to help each other heal too.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lost and found....

I'm the middle child of five, four sisters and one brother.
Yesterday 5th August 2012 at 10:30pm I lost my big SisterM. Not misplaced of course but she lost her two year battle with ovarian cancer.  She had been the most determined fighter I'd ever known. I don't need to go into the details of the various treatments, we all know just how horrid they are, but she rarely complained. So many hospital visits, expensive car parking or even more expensive taxis when she didn't feel well enough to drive. When they stopped the chemo and her hair grew back she had to donate her costly wig and hats to other cancer patients. Calmly researching her possible future needs like a wheelchair and stairlift and accepting each new challenge with such a positive attitude that many said she was an inspiration to others, but we knew she was mainly trying to make this horrid situation easier for her husband, three children, 10 grandchildren, four siblings and our families and everyone else she had contact with. She had been a very respected magistrate for nearly two decades and having to give that up just a few months ago was harder for her than almost anything else.

As my big sister things weren't always plain sailing of course, her diplomatic side meant we all discussed various things but she was only truly happy when we ultimately did it her way! We were possibly the closest siblings out of the five of us, she was the most supportive when I was being rebellious and hubby and I often had holidays with her and her hubby with our children when they were young and just as four adults when our families were independent,  even this year we had our great trip to Florida and our day trip to Hever Castle was just weeks ago.

The end was quite sudden really, she had fought so hard and finally she lost the energy to fight. She was in the hospice, she didn't want to die at home, she had her reasons and organized everything including her funeral preferences. The funeral is the day after tomorrow, Wednesday and the retired Rabbi she specifically asked to conduct the service came to see us today and he was not surprised when we handed him the sealed envelope containing the eulogy SisterM had written herself and none of us have seen....she has to have the last word!

Of course she's not lost at all, you'll find SisterM in our hearts!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Strangely addictive....

I have no real interest in sport although it's often on TV in front of me as Hubby is a huge fan of almost every sport, however, the London 2012 Olympics is finally up and running and normally other years I have to watch the opening and closing ceremonies but can happily take myself elsewhere or read or book during the weeks inbetween. This year I watched all three and a half hours of the opening ceremony, without moving off the sofa, ending at I have it recorded from another channel in case they had different camera angles. I loved it all. I'm also amazed at what they have achieved by building the Olympic Park in Stratford as I grew up in the East End, walking distance from where the park now is and that area definitely needed lots of help and it certainly got its regeneration! And even though it's only the third day I've watched loads of the sports, not the whole time of course, but loads by my standards.
Hope you're enjoying it or avoiding it as is your choice.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunny days and starry nights, at last.....

Here's a quick catch-up while I pop in from the garden to cool off a bit - didn't think I'd be saying that at all this summer, so that's good.
Bad, is that my ankles don't like the heat much and looking down at them makes me feel very old (which I'm not).

Good, that our son came to visit last Thursday.
Bad, is that he is suffering from acute asthma and nothing seems to be curing or even stabilising it. Such a worry!

Good, that I went for my bi-annual visit to special-friendH on Friday and slept over.
Bad, that the weather and traffic made it an horrendous journey (about 60miles away).
Good, that we had loads to chat about.
Bad, that it was a 3:30am bedtime and I had to leave by 11am.

Good, that Saturday was an easy journey home and straight out to Music-On-The-Green, a local summer fair where we help host the art and craft exhibition.
Bad, that none of our group sold a painting, although I did sell some of my crafts, so that's good.

Good, that Daughter and children are camping this week and that the weather is nice for them.
Only bad thing really is that I miss them.

Good, that Hubby went to Daughter's and fixed her washing machine and mowed her lawn front and back.
Bad, that he brought home three bags of washing for me to get done while they are away. is good :o)

These are the paintings I displayed and my crafts....


Saturday, 14 July 2012

The art of speaking 'hairdresser'.....

Why do I find it so hard to speak to a hairdresser, to tell them what I want and for them to understand and actually end up with the hair on my head resembling the image I started with in my mind?

This time I had wanted to copy the hairstyle of actress Tamsin Greig so I found a photo and printed it out to take with me, although it was unfortunate that the printer was either out of an ink colour of two or needed a good head/nozzle clean so the photo was a bit rubbish but, I thought, still showed the length and style.

The place I go to is local and easy to walk in and not have to wait too long without an appointment (usually). I'm really not the sort to have hair done every 6 weeks regularly, so I never book in advance, it has usually got to the stage of me not being able to do a thing with my hair and getting cross with it so it has to be done and done now!

This time they gave me a newly qualified young stylist as she said she was good with perms and loved cutting short........that's what I wanted and thought a very young stylist would be eager for a modern cut!
Well the perming went really well, she was incredibly slow but so precise and the rollers were actually secure  and comfortable on my head. After all the lotions, lots of rinsing and neutralisers followed by lots of rinsing and washing, rinsing and conditioning and yet more rinsing we were ready for the cutting. I had told her I wanted the whole of the back very short so I could just leave it as messy curls and the front longer so I could dry it straight. I think I told her to take a bit more off at the back at least three times but she was taking off such a small amount each time it didn't really make any difference and I was finding it embarrassing to keep asking so I gave up. Then she started blow drying it all out into what looked to me like a middle-aged woman's old-fashioned set, at this point I was quite vocal saying again how I wanted it just left as tight curls at the back and she assured me that she needed to dry it this way just to check on the cut......but she left me like that and said it was done and would I like hairspray!

I paid and went home to be greeted at the door by Hubby and Daughter. I walked straight past them and upstairs to rewash my hair and dry it my way! Thankfully the good perm and almost good cut meant I got 'almost' what I had in mind. Perhaps next time I'll find a different way to explain what I mean, wish me luck.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Castles, Tudors, friends and relations....

Make a coffee first this is a long one  :o)

Friday 6th - Hubby and I had planned a day out with SisterM and her hubby. Sadly SisterM's cancer is progressing and she is now feeling a bit too weak in the legs for much walking around so we borrowed a wheelchair from our local Community Charity Shop. The weather was not good so there was no rush but hubby had assured me it was going to clear later and if we headed into Kent we had a better chance of staying shower free, so that's what we did, choosing Hever Castle as our destination. Still raining when we got there so had a lovely pub lunch first then as forecast the sun came out, the puddles dried and we had a really lovely afternoon in the castle and the gardens and even sat outside for afternoon tea. Got them home and didn't even stay for a cuppa as Friday evening traffic is always terrible coming east. We all really enjoyed the day.

Saturday 7th - When FriendsL&K wanted to arrange a day to meet up I told them of our plans to visit Kentwell Hall for the Tudor re-enactment and they jumped at the chance to join us there. We picked up M and D at 10am then met our friends in the carpark at Kentwell at 11am. Hubby changed up some money to Tudor groats and pennies so we could buy things inside then we walked through the time tunnel into 1556. I've been there a few times now and still totally amazed at being immersed in living history with every resident  having so much knowledge to pass on, we talked at length to the washer women and the alchemists and the woodchoper and watched the players rehearse which was so funny. We stopped in the alehouse so the men could have some ale and of the games drawn on the table I played Nine Men's Morris and Horseshoe losing both games to a Tudor maid expert. We ate in the modern cafe but sampled Tudor marshpane, biscots, sweetmeats and men-of-ginger. O had been a Tudor all week but had missed his dad so changed back to modern clothes to be with his dad and come home with us, this also meant that Daughter, R and E could really enjoy the last night party and pack up their camper without the help of a 3 year old. It was so hard to be there and not hug my daughter and grandchildren as they had to stay in character which they all did really well. Again another dry day for us thankfully. The day ended with the fair which was brilliant. D won a candle on the hoopla stall, lots of Tudor children took part in the play dressing up as chickens (ours included). There was wrestling for the boys and 'arse pushing' for the maids and musicians and dancers too (including daughter) while the gentry walked around admiring the show.
When a very tired O flopped on granddad's shoulder we decided it was time to leave. We dropped off M, D and O at their house and went home to meet again with FriendsL&K who were staying the night. After a very much needed cup of tea we relaxed a bit then out to the pub for dinner. Late(ish) to bed and so lovely to have plenty of time for a good catch-up chat.

Sunday 8th - Up for breakfast but no-one was rushing although they had to get away before lunchtime. Very soon after Hubby's brother M and his partnerJ arrived bringing back hubby's laptop that they had borrowed and telling us all about their planned house move. Out to the pub for Sunday lunch which was yummy and all the nicer when bilM paid the whole bill, thank you :o)
They left quite early and hubby didn't have bowling for a change on a Sunday which was lucky as Daughter turned up about 8pm still costumed and with the girls all looking really tired, wanting help with the trailer camper to leave here before they could head home.

Monday 9th - Daughter arrived with the children to open up the camper and clean it and dry it out and to scrub all the children and their very muddy Tudor shoes. Unfortunately she is now full of cold and aches and pains and is very tired, not surprising after working hard all week and being out and camping in some horrid weather for 9 days. Slow going but all achieved. I fed them all both lunch (bacon butties) and dinner (lasagne)...definitely not potage!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lifeguards then kirtles...

I have to say how proud I am of our very clever and dedicated Daughter, for someone who always disliked sewing she has made herself and three children authentic Tudor clothing, all hand stitched, which includes 2 shifts each, kirtles for mother and daughters, cote for a boy, jackets, detachable sleeves, under kirtles, aprons, head rails, coifs, biggins and hats plus bags and pockets and pouches. She has also purchased Tudor shoes and hose/stockings, bowls, spoons and cups that they have to carry around with them and bought herself a recorder suitable for that era as she is spending the week as a 'player'. They have also had to attend at least 3 open days and learn 'Tudor Speak'......and then finally last Friday evening they took up residence at Kentwell Hall to be Tudors for 9 days (camping in the grounds)!

Of course with the children always being so busy with their extra activities, there had to be a clash and it was last weekend for E. While her family drove off to the year 1556, E had to stay very firmly in 2012 with us as she had a special day of her own on Sunday. Before then she did the usual trampoline sessions on Friday night and Saturday lunchtime then on Sunday as part of the County Music School she took part in a whole music day held at the Suffolk Show Ground / Trinity Park. She had to arrive at 9am for rehearsals then put on a concert at 10:30am involving 5 different county bands, which hubby and I had tickets for and enjoyed. Then it was a picnic lunch and BBQ and then hubby and I left and E stayed.

We returned about 5:30pm for the concert that was starting at 6pm and got really good seats. We then heard how about 20 members of the Band of the Lifeguards of the Royal Army had been there rehearsing with our young musicians all afternoon and taught them 4 new pieces of music. The concert included the Lifeguard's conductors and trumpeters and band members all in their very ornate (and warm) uniforms, together with more than 200 of our County music musicians (that included E on percussion) and they all played exceptionally well. It was brilliant. E was exhausted but euphoric :o)

Add to that my rushing off to spend Friday evening with SisterM and having to shop on Saturday with E for some suitable concert shoes and then getting up really early Monday morning to help E into her Tudor clothing and get her to Kentwell Hall at 8am to join up with mum and siblings. I didn't / couldn't do much else for the rest of Monday!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hmm new, old or both?...

I'm still here but I've recently bought myself a Blackberry Playbook tablet so I've been playing with that instead of using this laptop and because the touch-screen keyboard will take some getting used to for me to use with long nails I've not felt inclined to blog - but now the laptop is charged up so I can decide what I do on which bit of kit, so blogging on the laptop.

I'd had to leave the laptop for a while as the power lead had given up and as it has got slower and slower it uses up a lot of charge doing not much at all...very frustrating. The new power lead arrived and it got fully charged so now I can be selective and do things like blogging and uploading photos to flickr etc PLUS we are getting the new BT Infinity broadband installed next week so fingers crossed on-line frustration may be a thing of the past :o)

Doesn't mean to say my life will be more exciting or I will blog more poetically, but hey you can't have everything!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Un joli vacance .....

We've just got home from a four day holiday in France with our neighbour-friendsP&A. This one was all Hubby's idea as he wanted to see the tallest viaduct in the world at Millau in Southern France

We set off very early Sunday morning and got back very late Wednesday. Used the Eurotunnel train both ways and drove a total of about 1,600 a lot of time in the car! Both men shared the driving with Hubby doing most of it (his car). Our 3 different hotels were all 2-star but lovely although we all lamented the missing tea/coffee making facilities in the room that a better hotel would have provided but we survived! They did all provide free wifi which was very useful and a good selection of continental breakfasts which we took total advantage of  :o)

Hotel stops were at Bourges, Millau and Chalon-Sur-Saone and we did other stops for meal and comfort breaks although most of them were main road services. Our furthest south was to the beach was at Palavas where unfortunately I took a tumble (probably shocked at finally being in warm sunshine) thankfully my fall was broken by a couple of those beautiful Mediterranean palm trees, you know the ones with the big prickly pineapple looking I was grazed and perforated and bleeding from hands and arms, but the worst was the crack I took to my knee cap ouch ouch ouch (have to confess to saying a lot worse at the time)! So while I'm remembering the bad things and getting your sympathy I'll also mention that Hubby started the journey with a bit of a sore throat and ended it with a full blown head cold, he also dropped his phone and broke the screen and I also managed to break a shard of tooth  :o(

OK moan over and back to the good bits....we bought lots of nougat as we stopped in Montpelier as it's very near to Montelimar which is famous for it (and I love the stuff) and we bought lots of mustards as presents when we stopped in Dijon. We found some good restaurants too. Food makes all things pleasant eh?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Our 3-day celebration event in 5-days...

Friday - Daughter was here and shopping and here again and lots of prep was done for the party tomorrow. So much food flying around but unfortunately so much of it has to be done fresh tomorrow. Also Daughter's bell tent up as a children's tent (although I think it's only girls invited in) and Daughter's camper set up for a family of 6 that can't bring their own.

Saturday - Today was the 'friends' celebration of R & E's 10th birthday and the girls' special request was to have a camping garden being a lot bigger than their's was the obvious venue! We were all busy from quite early, with R, E and O beautifully decorating my house with long long runs of home made paper chain and ribbons. Their first guests to arrive (just after 11am) were a family of 4 and they very quickly had their tent pitched. After that there was a steady arrival of families throughout the day. I'm guessing in total we had about 40 people here (including some that didn't stay over), bringing food for the heaving buffet table. There were 8 visiting cars on the drive I think and 7 tents and the camper! M had made the most fantastic 7 layered rainbow birthday cake

and Daughter had made a long run of plain bunting for everyone to decorate with pens, hopefully adding their names as a keepsake of who came to their party this year. Well into the evening lots of the campers huddled round the portable fire pit toasting marshmallows coming in about 10pm-ish when it got far too cold for them (actually had been far too cold for me all along). I said good night well after midnight leaving about 6 adults still chatting.

Sunday - Noisy chaos for breakfast and bathrooms and making packed lunches was ongoing for a couple of hours really, then everyone left all heading to the Medieval Oyster Fayre in Colchester. The weather was not good at all, it was very wet and obviously was going to stay that way all day, (I decided not to go because of the weather) so there was lots of deciding about who was going to go in Tudor costume and who wasn't. Most had planned to and had it all with them but in the end the adults didn't and 6 children did (including my 3).

Authentic Tudor crisp packet of course :o)
Hubby and I took advantage of the empty house to have a major tidy up and then they all filtered back gradually in cold and wet states. Chilli had been bubbling away in three slow cookers all day (1meat, 1veg and 1veg no mushrooms) then I cooked up a load of rice and Daughter then served dinner with tortilla chips and grated cheese, yummy, in about 3 or 4 sittings. We even had extra guests for dinner. About 10pm one family packed their tent and headed home and all the rest stayed. I was the last to bed and started getting breakfast things ready on the table at 1am....unfortunately for me I opened the fridge door and a plastic pot of hummus and another of spicy tomato relish stuff hit the floor and exploded everywhere, all up my trouser legs and right across the floor, so not the end of the day I had hoped for and a much later night than I should have had  :o(

Bank Holiday Monday - And another breakfast and bathroom scrummage. All the drivers were asked to have their cars off of the drive by mid-morning as we were setting up for our Jubilee Street Party. Some of the campers took this as a time to pack up and leave anyway and also some were happy to move their cars and stay for the street party too :o)

There were lots more people arrived after this photo but Hubby had hung out of our bedroom window specially to take this so I had to show it, didn't I? Lovely to have lots of our neighbours together. We started at 1pm and about 20 of us moved inside at 7:30pm to watch the Jubilee Concert live outside Buckingham Palace on our TV.

Bank Holiday Tuesday - Was a major clearing up day. Daughter came over and collected all her stuff together with a heap left behind by her guests posting a lost and found message to them all. Too wet for her to sort out the tent, gazebo or camper so they will have to wait for another day. I collected all the stuff left behind by the neighbours and it's in a huge box by the front door for collection. Food that wasn't thrown out is boxed (mostly cake) or fridged (mostly salads) or frozen (french sticks I've made into garlic bread).

All great fun and lots of people told us what a great time they had. Of course the clearing up and getting our house back to normal could take some time yet! I'm exhausted but so pleased we did it :o)