Sunday, 20 May 2018

Celebrations

I bet I wasn't the only one who spent their Saturday evening in glorious sunshine wearing a Queen Elizabeth II face mask.



It was lovely to watch two people who are obviously so much in love with one another make their vows in such a magnificent venue.  Windsor looked spectacular and the atmosphere there was overwhelmingly happy.  The mix of traditional with modern, British with American was so well done.  Whatever your opinion of the Royal Family, I think that it really was a fabulous day - and a great excuse to open a bottle of bubbly and celebrate!

It really does make me wish that I could lip read when I watch an occasion like that on the tv, I know some media have tried to guess what Harry was saying to Meghan at the altar and my money's on 'You look amazing'.  I think, and hope, that this marriage will be one which breathes new life into the monarchy; you've chosen well Harry.  

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Pick yourself up and dust yourself down ...

... and start all over again.  π„žπŸŽΆπŸŽΆ  That's what the song says isn't it?

There's a quality that we do our best to encourage at the school in which I work.  It has nothing to do with qualifications or talent.  You can have bucket-loads of those but without this missing quality you won't necessarily reach your optimum performance.  It's a huge part of our school ethos 

Resilience

The capacity to recover from difficulties.  Because no one ever floated through life on a series of wonderful things happening and things just falling into place.  Contrary to youthful popular belief, life is not just what you see on Instagram.  For every up there is a down.  It's how we deal with things when the carpet has been pulled from under our feet that is important.  We have many inspirational quotes around the school from the likes of Einstein and Nelson Mandela like 'do not judge me by success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got up again' - 'If plans a & b didn't work, there are still another 24 letters in the alphabet' and 'if you ever judged a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid' or 'a person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new'.  

It's such an important thing to have.  To teach someone that 'yes that did happen, but we can't turn back the clock, we can't change what happened, we've got to draw a line under it, learn from it and find out how to move on'.

And a prime example of this happened on Saturday night.  I'm not a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest but my friend's daughter was the UK representative so of course I had to watch.  I could not believe my eyes when mid way through her performance, a guy jumped on stage, ripped the microphone out of her hand and shouted protests before security marched him away.  Now, Susanna (Surie) is an alumni of our school and she obviously listened to all that resilience talk in lessons as she demonstrated the most amazing resilience.  She barely missed a beat, she turned away, drew a deep breath, took the replacement microphone that was handed to her and got right back into the song.  She must have been shaken and shocked but talk about 'Keep calm and carry on' - she fiercely sang out as loud and proud as ever.  

Of course we didn't win, the voting is a bit too political for the best song or singer to come first nowadays, but there's no doubt who was the most resilient person out there on that stage.  She may not have won the contest, but she sure won the admiration of thousands of people by the way she reacted.  

Monday, 7 May 2018

Me on a Bank Holiday Monday

You know how us Brits love to talk about the weather, well this May Bank Holiday Monday has given us something good to say


Rumour has it that this could be the warmest early May Bank Holiday Monday on record!  Whilst it would have been nice to spend it by a beach, the thought of getting in a car and possibly sitting in miles of tailbacks along with everyone else who fancied being by the seaside was enough to make us stay at home.  With the sun shining it was lovely to be out in the garden tidying up before we added some summer plants.


See that long green pole in the centre of the photo?  It's my husband's favourite ever supermarket purchase.  A couple of years ago he went to Aldi to buy some vegetables and came home with an extendable tree lopper with saw - at the bargain price of £8.99.  It's seen a lot of use since then and it was out in action again today.  While he was busy with that I decided to tackle the ivy which is steadily taking over our walls and fences.  If I had a pound for every metre of ivy I cut down today I'd be a very wealthy lady!  There's a definite improvement but still more to come down.  We had to stop after we had filled the whole brown rubbish bin plus two large garden sacks.

It's fair to say we had earned a well deserved lunch in the garden with a glass of chilled white wine.

Did you have a busy or relaxed Monday?

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A sentence a day for April

Joining in again with Leslie to document my month in just one sentence a day (not always as easy as you may think πŸ€”) I know I'm a little early for the official link up, but it's my day for having our grandson and he's just fallen asleep for his afternoon nap so I'm taking advantage of a little time to myself.
✻✻✻✻✻

Day 1: Easter Sunday which also happened to be April Fool's Day which summed up quite nicely what a fool I was to think that I could stick to Slimming World healthy eating when presented with a couple of large Easter eggs.  {I figure that I'm going to eat the chocolate anyway so does it matter if I eat in in a few large quantities or a little bit every day for a week?}

Day 2: Step away from the chocolate - ignore the chocolate - you do not need to eat the chocolate - if only I could listen to those voices and not the one that says 'Go on, you know you want to ...'

Day 3: Babysitting Leo day - he is obsessed with writing and drawing and sadly I don't have any drawing talent - there is little difference between my dogs, horses or dinosaurs!

Day 4: I've been moaning about being bored with my hairstyle for ages so I took the plunge today and had lots of layers cut into it and about 4" cut off the sides 



Day 5: Met up with a couple of old schoolfriends for dinner this evening - we've been friends for about 48 years and still meet up regularly and never run out of things to talk about!

Day 6: Our son stayed over last night as he wanted to use the Mum and Dad taxi service for an early morning check in at Stansted airport for his weekend in Copenhagen - we do have our uses.

Day 7: After a morning of mundane weekly shopping routine, my husband finally got to try out his new toy - a patio power cleaner - I had forgotten how many subtle colours there were in the patio stones underneath a winter's worth of grime. While he's busy out there I must put a bottle of wine in the fridge for later, he'll have earnt his relaxation time tonight!

Day 8: When it was my birthday, my workmates gave me a voucher for the nicest restaurant that we have in town so we took advantage of someone else cooking dinner for us and it was absolutely delicious!

Day 9: Starting to think about the clothes I need to pack for our weekend away at the end of the week but a mixed weather forecast is giving me clothing dilemmas, if only we weren't travelling hand luggage only.

Day 10: Treated myself to a manicure - at least I'll have nice nails even if I don't have the right clothes for the weather in northern Italy!

Day 11: Paul volunteers one day each month over at the local country park so today I had Leo all by myself, that boy has got far more energy than me - but then again he is a whole let younger.

Day 12: Suitcase open and clothes packed; I realised my holiday wardrobe needs updating, maybe a little shopping in Italy will be needed (well if the weather report says rain from time to time, where better to shelter than in a shop?).

Day 13: Alarm on early for the taxi ride to Stansted, breakfast in the UK, lunch in Italy.

Day 14: According to my phone, I clocked up 27,000 steps today!




Day 15: Sightseeing, food, drink, more walking, more food, more drink etc etc


Day 16: Our last day in Bologna, time to make the most of that Italian sunshine and fill up on their amazing gelato.

Day 17: Back to work - so painful after a lovely long weekend away.

Day 18: Sun is shining, Leo is here for the day full of mischief.

Day 19: Today they have drafted the advert for my job - I wonder how many people will apply for it - part time jobs in schools are always in demand.

Day 20: Friday night meal out at our favourite Turkish restaurant with a couple we have been friends with for about 40 years - great food and great company.

Day 21: Charity quiz evening in support of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) - we came a respectable 5th.

Day 22: Watching the London Marathon as my line manager is taking part and we have lived through her training schedule ever since she found she had a place - she finished in just under 4h 30m, and on the hottest London marathon on record.

Day 23: Went into town on the hunt for some comfortable summer sandals, returned home empty handed and disappointed.

Day 24: In one month's time this will be my penultimate day in the office - forever!

Day 25: Took Leo into work for show him off to my workmates, he had a lovely time especially when Lucy let him play with all the buttons on the photocopier.

Day 26: Ashamed to say I didn't go to my Fitsteps class tonight as when I got home from work I had a strange pain in my knee and didn't want to injure myself, however it may have been my imagination as when the evening progressed, the pain disappeared - oops!

Day 27: Busy day at work trying to get as much work as I can done before I leave - currently working on jobs I normally don't do until June.

Day 28: All the family will be here for lunch tomorrow so a busy day preparing as much food as I can in advance - I want to be able to enjoy their company and not be the one stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is in the lounge catching up on people's news.

Day 29: I love having all the family around the table for Sunday lunch, of course the littlest one is the centre of attention and oh how he loves an audience!

Day 30: Took Leo to his 'Tiny Tempo' class where we danced and sang and played musical instruments, I'd forgotten how noisy a hall full of toddlers can be.

And that was April!  


Monday, 30 April 2018

Me on Monday

Today I spent my morning at the local rugby club.  

Has she taken up a new hobby?  I hear you ask.  

Let's look at the evidence - do I like being outside in all weathers? No. Do I enjoy getting muddy? No. Do I ever run around a field for 80 mins? No.  So no, I am not a newbie member of the actual rugby club.

My voyage into the club was to take my grandson to a music and movement class that is held in their hall - 'Tiny Tempo'.  R needed to go somewhere this morning and the weather was absolutely foul so as I had no plans I offered to take him to his class while she ran her errands in the wind and rain; so much quicker if you don't have to take a toddler out with you.

I was, of course, the oldest adult there but children's nursery rhymes have stayed the same over the years and I don't think I embarrassed Leo too much - as he has very limited vocabulary still, we'll never know!  We sang, we danced, we went on a bear hunt and we played instruments.  I had forgotten how noisy it can be when 15 toddlers have an assortment of drums (Leo's favourite), tambourines and maracas and all play them at the same time.  We were both exhausted by the end of the session and one of us is having a lovely afternoon nap to recover.  Spoiler alert - it isn't me.

πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘πŸ‘‘

Has anyone out there seen The Crown on Netflix?  I've just discovered it and am hooked.  I have honestly learnt so much about our history from it - I hope they've followed the facts rather than fiction or I'm being quite misled!  I'm having to ration myself to one episode a day because I could easily binge watch it and I think I'm near the end of the series as it is now 1958 (year I was born) and I don't know how much further it goes.  I'm certainly seeing our Queen and Phillip in a new light.

Only 14 more working days for me - I may have to find a new boxset to get involved in ready for all this extra time I will have!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Where did that week go?

I used to be such a reliable blogger and am trying to figure out where I lost my routine.  I used to join in with other blogger's memes such as 'Simply a Moment', 'Me on Monday' and 'One photo and twenty words' but I've definitely fallen by the wayside.

So let me correct that by explaining what I've been doing this afternoon:

(One picture)

Homemade vanilla fudge is so absolutely delicious it is well worth the twenty minutes stirring that you have to do!

(Twenty words)

This is the best fudge recipe I have found.  Forget 'easy' fudge.  Forget 'quick' fudge.  If you want fabulous fudge you have to put in a little bit of 'elbow grease'. Do you want the recipe?  It's so old, the measurements are still in old fashioned imperial not metric.

1lb granulated sugar
1 tin condensed milk
1/2 lb unsalted butter 
2 dessertspoons milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Grease a tin that is about 10" x 8" and leave it in the fridge to keep chilled

Melt butter
Stir in all other ingredients

Bring to boil and then stir for 20 minutes.  Don't leave it or it will catch on the bottom of the pan and you'll end up with little bits of burnt sugar in the mix (there speaks the voice of experience!). After 20 mins, your arm will be aching but you'll have used up enough calories to eat a square of it later.  πŸ˜†
Get tin out of fridge and pour the mixture into the tin and then - this is a crucial bit - pour it back into the pan.  I know it seems a faff but there is something about the hot mixture cooling down quickly and then reboiling that give the fudge a wonderful texture.
  
Health & Safety message - boiling fudge mixture is so very hot, be very careful in the pouring back and forth, do not let it splash on skin (again, the voice of experience!)

Reboil the mixture - still stirring - for about 3 more mins then pour back into tin.  Leave to cool a little until you can mark up squares with a knife and then chill in fridge until properly set.  

Have a fabulous weekend!  And let me know if you decide to try the fudge - trust me, once you've made it you will never want supermarket fudge again.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Travels to Italy

The final part of my birthday celebrations took place this weekend - we went on a four day trip to Bologna with friends.  I didn't know too much about the area before we left, other than the fact that their ragu sauce is famous (although the bolognese people will never eat it with spaghetti, that's for the southern Italians, in Bologna it is always served with tagliatelle).  

I can tell you that you will never go hungry in Bologna.  I had the best lasagne that I have ever tasted there and will be completely re thinking how I make it at home, less meat, more pasta and double the cheese!  The local wine is Sangiovese so a litre of house wine costs about 8 euros and is absolutely superb.  The Italians do simple food, but oh so deliciously.  One lunchtime, not feeling particularly hungry, we decided to share a meat and cheese platter that should have been for 2 between the 4 of us, with a small bruschetta to go with it.  This is what turned up


After a long day walking around town on Saturday, we stopped at about 6pm for a small prosecco to revive us for the walk back to the hotel.  We did not order food, but with our drinks came a 'small' complimentary plate of appetisers, a bowl of crisps, olives and nuts.


But it wasn't all eating and drinking (honest) we also did a lot of sightseeing.  We got a taxi up to the sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca.  It is high up and has one of the longest covered porticos in the world leading from the town to the church.  We had been advised to drive up and then walk back, not the other way round which was good advice as the walk back into town is a steep two and a half miles!




Something a little different - we also went to the Teatro Anatomico where corpses were first dissected for scientific study


A couple of little gruesome wooden carvings of skinless figurines are beside the chair where a priest would keep an eye on the proceedings to ensure nothing became 'spiritually compromised'.  Hard to believe that this was the first place where they realised that you could learn so much about the human body that way.

On a much lighter note - no wonder the Italians have a reputation for being stylish, there is no lack of high quality clothes, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Armani ... my husband seemed keen to rush me through that shopping area!

We had a fab weekend, it's just hard to get back into work mode now!