Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A present for me by me.......

I needed a foot stool that's not as high as the one that came with the lounge furniture and I've looked around for a while now but our suite is very dark navy leather but you'd only really realise it's navy if you try to put black next to it.....seems navy isn't a fashionable colour right now as I've seen almost every other colour in various fabrics that won't go, so I decided I'd have to make my own.

The last time it was mentioned I was out shopping with Daughter and E in a shop that had unsuitable ones,  and I thought just in case they decided to hunt something down or make as my Christmas present I'd better wait. They didn't and I got lots and lots of other lovely stuff (I'm so lucky).

Boxing day I made a start with a pair of jeans that didn't fit anymore and repurposed three large cushions that were just being ornamental on an upstairs spare bed. Because I was using ready made cushion shapes and not just stuffing a box all three sides of the base had to be hand sewn which took some time and pliers for the tough denim bits that the needle (and my fingers) struggled with.

I'm really pleased with my new pouffe, and it has pockets hahaha

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas 2015......

The day before (known as Christmas Eve to most people but this one didn't involve E) and Daughter invited us to join them at Suffolk Food Hall for hot drinks and cake. When we got there O was already bouncing on the outdoor bouncy pillow thing

But it was too chilly for us all to stay outside for long so inside and a mix of teas, latte, hot chocolate and a milkshake plus cakes and although it was really busy there we got seats yaay. Afterwards O very quickly got bored of looking round the gifty/crafty/household stuff and dragged Granddad outside for more bouncing while Daughter, R and I did the farm food shop and I got some focaccia and another gift Hubby chose for himself. All back to our house and eventually we got tomorrow's veg prepped

Christmas Day and my one and only Christmas LP has to play as it has done every Christmas morning for as long as we've been married, even though we now have long gone past records, cassettes and even CDs and Hubby likes using his digital download on a memory stick. ...but he willingly rearranges all the entertainment equipment wiring so our record deck can come through the speakers this one morning every year!

I'm sure the rest of our Christmas day is much the same as almost everyone else's so I won't need to repeat all that just be pleased to know that Daughter&co all came, dinner was delicious (everyone said so) and everyone loved all their gifts. Daughter hand stitched this one for Hubby and I and it made me cry a little

We played a game and I won even though I didn't understand (and still don't) how to play! Quite a while after they went home Hubby and I had our Christmas pudding as we were all too full to have dessert after starter and main course.

Boxing Day and I spent all morning rearranging food so the huge amount of leftovers were frozen in suitable ways. The afternoon I managed to do some crafting.

Sunday Daughter came over so O could have a bath, then she "nipped" out with Hubby to buy a microwave, O and I played games. About an hour later Daughter text to say now heading back but they didn't actually arrive here for another hour as her girls had messaged to say could they have a lift into town so she'd done lots of driving and collecting and dropping off. While she was here she got a message from some second cousins saying they were now hoping to come to our family day here when Daughter and O went home I shot out to buy three more gifts as they hadn't been included in the secret Santa list. I'd just finished wrapping the extra gifts when I get another message to say that actually they can't come!!! So some housework, furniture rearranging for tomorrow and a lovely long phone call from our Son and I never got back to my crafting at all.

Bank Holiday Monday (as Boxing Day was a Saturday) and this is my whole family day. If you follow my ramblings you'll know we do this every year and more recent years it's been held here. There were 28 of us this time (2 who never come, 2 too unwell to come and 4 children who couldn't come for various reasons) so a lovely noisy full house.

This isn't everyone as some are just never in the right place when I snap! Everyone contributes to the buffet table and as usual the table was heaving! My children, a sibling, an in-law, nieces, nephews,  great nephew, great nieces and lots of their partners......My lovely lovely family :)

Friday, 18 December 2015

It's party time, refined and raucous..........

FriendN had been planning celebrating her 60th for some time and held a ladies only afternoon tea for about 65 of her relations and friends
Scones with cream and jam came round too and the tea pots were constantly being refilled. She'd been collecting all the fancy china from charity shops. It was so lovely. Everyone having a good chat and as well as friends I do keep in touch with there were friends there from over 30 years ago, so a great time for catchups too. Some of our men had gone together to 10 pin bowling and we all met back at friendN's house and eventually left giving their eldest a lift home as he lives right near us so saved him needing a lift to the station and a train and walk home. 

I've had lunch out this week with two ladies I've known for 25 years, we met when one was a student with me for art A-level, and the other was our teacher. Over the years we've lost touch with the other students but the three of us have always managed our pre-Christmas get together. 

Another evening out for a full Christmas dinner at a lovely hotel. We were quite noisy hahaha. A waiter took this photo just before we left

Our last art group meeting this week and we all took nibbles in to share, and cards to swap, and one lady always makes a gift to hang on our tree, this year's was a small rosemary circle tied with red ribbon. 

Tonight I'm meeting up with another old friend. Because I booked our table in September for their "festive fare" we get 30% discount - yippeee

Tomorrow night BfriendM is hosting a Christmas dinner for our usual crowd so I've made my famous cheesecake for dessert as I've promised her partner another baked cheesecake as he says mine beat any he's ever had! Bless him, flattery always goes a long way :-)

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Theatre: Holy Mackerel........

It's already been a busy Monday (forgot this was sitting in draft) with Coffee Morning for our neighbours in the morning then a quick turn around so neighbourC and I could spend the afternoon having our nails done, my poor nail technician had a hard job getting all that glitter varnish off. A brief gap between then dinner and then I'm out again!

OK Christmas can begin now as we have been to the Eastern Angles "panto", Holy Mackerel, which is usually the first festive thing I do (although we did have our first Christmas dinner last Friday)

Five actors who could sing and act and play musical far so good,
a story based on truth of how the East Anglian fishermen caused riots in a religious Cornwall by fishing on a Sunday.....still good,
some very funny innuendos.....that's good too.

The script was very repetitive to the point of being boring.....not good,
the seats were sooo uncomfortable.....more not good,
the story ended a good ten minutes earlier than we were allowed to leave because they dragged it out with a pointless finale......worse than not good.

But all that being said, I do love a night at the theatre with friends.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A wonderful wedding......

Sunday 6 December and one of my oldest friends (she's not old but we have been friends for almost ever) celebrated the wedding of her first son and we were invited to celebrate with them. About 12 years ago we all celebrated the wedding of her second son and I haven't met up with her family and mutual friends since then (although we do keep up with some news on facebook).

Hubby and I left home at noon looking like this

And drove to Maida Vale in London and managed to park (at about 2:30pm) on the road right near the oldest surviving synagogue in the UK, Bevis Marks, where the wedding ceremony was taking place at 3pm. Men and women sit separately and as I was saying my hellos to the few people I know I was hoping Hubby was ok as he knows a lot less people here than I do.

The Bima (raised central platform) had its columns packed with white flowers and the chuppah (canopy) was white lace
which looked beautiful against all the dark wood, unfortunately I was three rows back and behind a pillar so a very restricted view. I've saved all the photos that have popped up on facebook as I was never in the right position to get good photos myself (love social media).

From there we drove to Park Lane for the reception, and gave two of friendH's Israeli relations a lift too. As The Four Seasons Hotel is right near the Winter Wonderland now open over Christmas the whole area was really busy so Hubby dropped the three of us outside the hotel and went off to find somewhere to park the car.

I was greeted in the foyer by the groom who after a big hug introduced me to his bride "this is my mum's best friend, Aunty Beryl, and we all love her" how wonderful is that! His bride kissed me and said "I'm so pleased you are now my Aunty Beryl", made me smile.

Up to the first reception area on the first floor where filled champagne glasses were laid out, each one had a card disc with our names and table number. I just started sipping when Hubby arrived having parked in the Hilton underground car park nearby. We moved into another large reception room and stood chatting with more old friends for drinks and some exceptional hors d’Ĺ“uvre.

Into the ballroom and we found our places at large round tables of 12.
The menu to come was

We started with dancing and speeches, and there was lots more of that between each course. Dessert was proceeded by an amazing violinist who was followed by staff holding each dessert with its own firework

truly spectacular!

We knew six of our table companions (the groom's family) and it was really interesting getting to know the other four. My new shoes had been quite comfortable all day, however my feet are prone to swelling so just before dessert (thankfully the car was close enough) Hubby got my flat shoes for me to do a swap under the table ahhhhh!

Then aware of our long drive home we said our goodbyes to those we could find (very crowded) about 11pm-ish and had a lovely drive through the West End and South Bank (due to road works diversion) looking at all the pretty Christmas lights and got home at 1am. We'd had a wonderful day. Muzel Tov to the Bride and Groom.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

No time for jetlag! .......

As you know we landed early hours Wednesday and straight to bed, up about 11am-ish I think. I managed to unpack everything and get a wash on. That evening I ate out in Felixstowe as usual, actually not totally as usual because they have refurbished our pub, no longer have a large round table and put the prices up but we'll still go there! Hubby was out bowling as he usually does on a Wednesday too.

Thursday was also a usual night out for me but not our usual art night as we had a demonstration of water colour techniques of how to paint water by the very clever Claudia Myatt. FriendDJ hasn't been too well recently but he wanted to make it to art so I picked him up and he loved the demo but needed to go home straight afterwards. FriendM and I then went on to Olive's Bar and met the others there for drinks and live music. We don't get there till after 10pm so another very late night.

I know during the days there has been lots of laundry processing and coffee breaks with neighbours, having to rescue my nails that hadn't been done for a month and disguise the growth gap which I could thankfully do with glitter varnish as it's party season (think it worked quite well)
and other stuff I can't really remember now, oh we did some gardening too and during the day Friday we had O while Daughter did the four hour round trip to collect R who had been with her dad for the week having an early Christmas, E and O had been with Daughter at their HE Christmas camp till Thursday night so that's why we hadn't seen them till Friday. When she got back it was a quick cup of tea catchup then wave them off so we could get ready for another night out. This was my x-work team Christmas dinner

I love it that we all still meet up even though we stopped working together more than six years ago.

Saturday morning Daughter was picking me up to take R to drama and so together with O we could be in the audience for the end of term performance. Unfortunately R was feeling quite unwell and tearful, so in the end we gave her paracetamol, left O with Hubby and the three of us drove to drama, she didn't feel any better when we got there so Daughter went in to explain and leave her costume there for the understudy. We actually came home and left R on the sofa under a blanket and took O out to see the local church Crib Festival (we all loved it, hope it becomes an annual event)

See we haven't stopped, so busy in fact that we are struggling to find any time to catchup with recorded tv programmes and we are running out of sky-planner space hahaha. 

It didn't stop there, as Sunday was a very big wedding day in London but that will get a post of its own. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Florida holiday, week 2, November 2015.....

Monday 23rd - quite chilly today although we stayed in reading and relaxing till mid-afternoon,

then went to the cinema for "Love The Coopers", very American Christmas story of a dysfunctional family that all ends happy ever after. Have to say the cinema seats were extra comfy! We then went to dinner at TooJays, my special burger was definitely special.

Tuesday 24th - after breakfast we had a lovely walk to the Eisenhower recreation area then played Shuffleboard

it was good fun, especially as Hubby and I won, although we later found out that we'd been playing it all wrong hahaha. Our men had booked an afternoon of golf so they dropped us in Brownwood square first for a mooch around the shops and a coffee. We moved out to the square when the live music started and I got friendly with a cowboy!
When a few people started line dancing friendL and I joined in, she's done the "Electric Slide" lots but my first time so I was grateful to have her to copy. We'd arranged to meet the men at Cody's for dinner and we got there first, but they arrived and said they'd got there first couldn't see us so left to look round the square then came back, although I'm sure we'd been there all the time, dunno how we missed each other! Mmmmmm bbq ribs and live music by Mark Seymour (brilliant singer) and lots more dancing, fast, slow and more Electric Slide (I'm an expert now).

Wednesday 25th - friendK had to spend a huge amount of time on a help line sorting out a bill for their UK mobile, and Hubby spent some time sorting out their laptop and friendL took the opportunity to do some of her ironing and I got to read lots of my book! We went out at 4pm into Sumta town square (about half hour away by cart). We left our men guarding four chairs while we popped to a couple of shops and bought a picture frame. When we joined the men the act was in full swing up on the stage, tonight it was Scooter a mad DJ.

Photo is a bit dark, actually not a good night for photos as this is the next selfie I took of us watching
...far too serious when we were really laughing all the time but the best one was too shakey because we were laughing and then the rest of the time we were up dancing! We went off to dinner at the Lighthouse Point and all had great fish meals, and we got back to the square for the last hour of Scooter and a bumpy ride home in the back of the golf cart. Great fun.

Thursday 26th - Today is Thanksgiving here in the US and I'd made this card for our lovely hosts

We went to the Evans Prairie Country Club for their Thanksgiving buffet lunch. Lots of great food and we all came away stuffed. It was a traditional turkey dinner and I tried the green bean casserole, grits stuffing and corn succotash......all good and fun to try new things. Hot again today at 26°C / 79°F. Spent the afternoon watching tv just like Christmas day but hotter! Birdcage a film starring Robin Williams is hilarious and a must see, I'll say no more hahaha.

Friday 27th - the men went off early for a round of golf, Hubby rarely plays but says K is a good coach so he enjoys it without doing anything awful. They got back quicker than expected so we planned to head off in the car to Crystal Springs in Citrus County. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday and it's retail sales in a big way and everyone goes mad, so we were definitely avoiding shops. On our way there we stopped at a beautiful beach,  Island Fort Gulf Beach
Crystal Springs is famous for manatee sightings. The website mentioned boat trips, talks, viewing points, snorkeling trips etc. It was about an hour drive and we pulled into one marina and could see the one we wanted across the water so we drove out and round and still in the wrong place, then our pilot and co-pilot saw a sign for Three Sisters Springs which they'd seen on the website so we headed for that which took us miles out so turn around and miles back and stopped at another car park by an information office where they told us to go back to the main road and find the big information centre to buy tickets for the trolly bus as there was no car access anyway! Very bad signage! We were hungry so drove into Crystal historic district to eat (we were all very hungry by this point) then a quick mooch round the gift shops while we waited for the next trolly bus (too expensive to buy anything but a very pretty place)

We caught the trolly bus, had a walk along the boardwalk admiring the lakes and natural springs, spoke to the guides and learnt lots. .......but not a manatee in sight!

Tonight's entertainment was Rocky and the Rollers in the Brownwood Paddock Square and when we arrived it was already packed (holiday Friday night and residents have family and guests obviously)

We went to eat in Cody's again as they had live music too, I just had to have the ribs again and there was room enough to dance before the night ended.

Saturday 28th - this morning we walked around the farmers market

We had a coffee stop with cheesecake and apple pie. .....but I chose this

Then we went to play Bocci

When we got back we met the lovely neighbours that live opposite and while we were chatting they invited friendsL&K with their daughter who is visiting soon to join them for Christmas dinner, what a special community they have here, I'm so pleased for L&K. So many houses here are starting to put up their Christmas decorations so our first stop this afternoon was Walmart for friendsL&K to buy some outside bling and Hubby and I had a good wander and bought a few bits. We then went to Eaton's Beach

We were there especially for the restaurant and on K's recommendation I had fried green tomatoes as a starter followed by shrimp and grits for main course, both new to me and both really really good! TV before bed was actually a two hour drama on National Geographic called Saints and Strangers about how the English Pilgrims invaded and settled in America and their problems with the Native Indians and disease and starvation etc.

Sunday 29th - our last full day here! Lazy morning and after lunch we went to look at the new nature reserve

Then to Bonifay Country Club for coffee and key lime pie mmmmm! We had to hang around for our 6:30pm online check in for our flights tomorrow, then out in the golf cart

We ride "shotgun" at the back, (altho that pic was taken during the day not at night of course) for a lovely Italian meal. On the way home we drove around to see all the Christmas decorations going up, Hubby loved this biking Santa
We finished the evening by watching the second part of the pilgrims drama. It was gripping stuff.

Monday 30th - you know how you never want a great holiday to end. .......well we now have an extra 12 hours as Hubby checked his phone first thing to discover our flight home at 6:15pm had been cancelled! After logging in on K's laptop and making phone calls we are now booked on the 6:15am flight Orlando to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Heathrow, then bus Heathrow to Gatwick where our car is! So we made the most of our extra day by first going shopping for all the extension cables they need for all the Christmas lights, then we went for brunch and came back for the men to get all the glitz fixed and lit, looks very pretty

When it was dark we had a lighting up ceremony. We spent a while outside chatting to neighbours and admiring our lights and theirs, and came in when we realised that we were all getting bitten! I've now three more bites one of which is getting quite large on my forehead. Out again in the car, and we ate quite late at Gaitors then walked to the square to catch the last 10 mins of the country and western trio, and we were introduced to another friend of theirs. All packed and ready so watched rubbish on tv and golf (when Hubby and L both went for naps) where I got some interesting explanations by K of what's going on, all really just wasting time!

Tuesday 1st December - we said our goodbyes and left our wonderful hosts at 2am, I'd already given them their Christmas card and we've brought some of theirs in a large envelope to post for them in England. Then to Orlando Airport and the first hurdle as we couldn't just park the car and plonk the paperwork on the desk as we needed to pay for the extra day and fuel (we'd missed the fill-up place) and we had to get a receipt so we had to wait a while. ........then with a little time to spare we stopped for tea and a toasted bagel. hassle flight Orlando to Philadelphia. ......just 20 mins from getting off that plane to the boarding gate of our next flight and it was a very fast walk from one end of the airport to the other (should have worn a pedometer and reported the result to friendL haha), there were a few people at the gate who also should have been on our original cancelled flight and they were "furious" and "so angry" and Hubby said "well they wouldn't cancel without good reason, and I'd rather not be on a plane with technical faults, would you?" they shrugged and moved on to moan to someone else!........Philadelphia to Heathrow and the plane was half empty so we could spread over three seats and the seats had more leg room anyway so we were quite comfortable apart from the whole cabin temperature being quite chilly so I was under blankets all the time. The food was really good too. We landed about 10:30pm (back on UK time now) but of course we are still in the wrong rather than waiting around for the airport shuttle bus we jumped into a taxi who agreed a fixed price of £100 (meter would have clocked up £140) we asked for a receipt to add to the claim. Lots of road works made him do a longer diversion and then obviously he couldn't go into the long stay carpark so he had to take us to the terminal........for us to go inside then out the right door to catch the bus to our car. As we'd overstayed we couldn't drive straight out as we had to go into the office and pay extra and get another receipt of course.........then the drive home with more roadworks and diversions.

Wednesday 2nd December - finally walked through our front door at 2:15am and so grateful that our lovely neighbourA had put our heating on. Quick message to friendsL&K to say we are home but not to anyone else as they would all be asleep and very soon after so were we! Very sweet dreams of our lovely Florida Villages holiday.