Friday, 30 December 2016

Post Christmas round up

Have we all recovered?  All that shopping and wrapping and cooking and entertaining, all done and dusted for another year.
 
 
Is it Thursday or Friday?  I have totally lost track of days and times.  When you take away the structure of the days I seem to lose all direction!  Weekends merge into week days and here we are hurtling towards 2017 at breakneck speed.

It's been a bit of a year though hasn't it?  The number of celebrities that have passed seem to be increasing daily - and we have lost some great talent along the way.  On a personal level the changes our family have seen are crazy.  And 2017 looks like it's going to be eventful too with two weddings within 4 weeks of each other.  As soon as the sales have finished I will be in true Mother of the Bride/Groom shopping mode!

It was so much fun to have a baby in the house over Christmas.  He was determined to get as much wrapping paper in his mouth as possible and entertained us all with his cheeky smile and cute little ways.  His Uncle Jon is absolutely besotted with him and it was hard to prise him out of his arms - I suspect that once he is married, a little cousin could be on the cards before too long! 

I had the weirdest text message on Christmas day - from my dentist, reminding me that I was due a check up in January.  Well that took the shine off my enjoyment of the Quality Street I can tell you.  And he was determined I shouldn't forget, as I then got an email the following day - at which point I gave in and booked an appointment on line.  That seems to have shut him up, or maybe the auto-reminder service has been silenced by the booking software.

Once again I am ending the year by singlehandedly doing my best to rid the house of all chocolate before the healthy eating regime kicks in on Sunday.  Not to mention the dentist appointment on 9 January 😉 

I shall be popping round the blogosphere whenever I can but in the meantime wish everyone a peaceful, happy and healthy new year.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Memorandum Monday

I've seen and heard many a carol singer, and I've heard of the word 'wassaill' but up until this weekend I hadn't actually seen a 'waissaller'.  This has now changed as this weekend

I was serenaded by a group of wassailers for the first time.


Now, I'm not keen on being chosen from a crowd of people to have the chorus of a song sung to me.  I'm not one to seek to be the centre of attention (following an unforgettable moment when being captured by an Elvis lookalike many years ago) and this will teach me not to sit on the end seat of a table in a restaurant. 
 
But this was very festive and light hearted and the spotlight soon turned to someone else and it was a lovely unexpected start to a festive meal out with friends.  It did add to the atmosphere of the evening and after a swift gin and tonic I recovered from the embarrassment pretty quickly.  Why me?  Why do they always pick on me? 
 
So, I'm making slight, slow progress with arrangements for next weekend, and I know that once I finish work on Tuesday I will be able to get to grips with everything.  List making is happening with a vengeance here and I have to keep reminding myself that it is just for two days!  Last year I had 16 for dinner on Christmas day so in theory having only 7 this year should be half the stress ...
 
Time to pop over to Sian to see what she's been up to this weekend before Christmas.
 
 


Monday, 12 December 2016

Memorandum Monday

Well, Monday, you've sneaked back up on us again and just in time to join in with Sian's Memorandum Monday.  Do make sure you pop over there, especially if you're in the market for a traditional Christmas pudding recipe!

It's was the weekend before my husband's birthday (which is today!) and traditionally that is the weekend we put up our tree and decorate for Christmas.  So nothing new there. But ... I can share

Some new Christmas decorations!

I've been trying to incorporate copper into our colour schemes around the house and was happy to find a couple of new tree ornaments to sneak in amongst the existing ones.  The red glitter reindeer head was donated by our daughter as it doesn't go with her colour scheme this year.  I'm not 100% sure he goes with my tree either but he's hidden a little to the side and I think we'll let him stay.
 
The outside lights were replaced too - we'd had the originals for about 20 years so I reckon we've had our monies worth out of them.  Plus the fact that outside Christmas lights have definitely become more sophisticated over the years and everyone else has pretty small twinkly lights which made our chunky string of bulbs look very old fashioned.  Not wishing to bring the cul de sac into the bad taste books, we retired the old ones and bought some new beautiful small multi-coloured ones (which did not photograph well in the bottom left had picture of my collage).
 
The other new thing I did was
 
Buy a book from a new author
 
I've been following Julie Kirk's blog now for many a year and love her wit, her style of writing and her stories.  So when she published her first book (I say first because I am sure there will be more to come in the future!) I could not wait to buy a copy and am now hoping that she is already in the queue at the post office ready to send it off because I am longing to get my hands on it!
 
Is anyone out there calm and ready for Christmas festivities to begin?  Please say no because I hate to think I am the only one with a 'to do' list a mile long, nothing wrapped, still presents to buy and no cards written.  If anyone comes across one of Santa's elves with nothing to do, please send him round here - I could do with a bit of help. 
 
 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Memorandum Monday

Joining in once again with Sian's plan for sharing things we've learnt or done for the first time over the last weekend.

Well for starters, this is the first time

I've typed up a blog post with a baby on my lap

(And it's not the most comfortable of things I can assure you)

Young Leo is here for the day today while his Mummy and Daddy move house.  He was here yesterday too, with his mum popping back every couple of hours to escape the packing chaos feed him.  I had forgotten how totally time consuming a 3 month old baby can be!  And his Mummy and Daddy had slightly underestimated how time consuming packing up a house can me (of course the words 'I told you so' or 'maybe you should have started earlier' did not leave my lips'!)

However, the real first thing for the weekend was that we have

Booked a holiday for somewhere we have never been before

We've been trying hard to decide where to go next year - we totally love Italy and have a stack of brochures but we've been to several places in Italy now and our wish list of areas to visit has got smaller and smaller.  I'm not a great one for going back to the same place, no matter how much I loved it - I prefer to keep a happy memory and not risk a 'it's not as good as last year' comparison.

So we started looking a little further afield, somewhere near to Italy with Italian influences but somewhere we haven't been before.

So we investigated Croatia.  Everyone we know who has been there has said how lovely it is and so we've taken the plunge and booked a week at the end of May/beginning of June.  You can see that already the brochure is looking like it's been used for a lot of research!  (You may also notice a small person photobombing in the background.  We have his play mat inside a travel cot to keep Coco well away from him when he's here!) The hotel looks lovely and has good reviews and we're both looking forward to it.

Short and sweet today, a bit like my guest, hope everyone else has had a good weekend, I look forward to clicking on some links over at Sian's to read what you've all been up to.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Memorandum Monday

I've just popped over to Sian's to see what she was up to over the weekend to report back on for Memorandum Monday. To quote a very old joke, she's spent the time watching men in shorts play with their odd shaped balls ...
 
We however, have had a much more sedate time of it, in a tenuous link to that old TV show The Generation Game.  No Larry Grayson innuendo or a conveyor belt in sight for us though.  This was the weekend that, for the first time, we ...
 
... had four generations of family around the table for Sunday lunch.
 
With an ages ranging from 89 and 10 months to 12 weeks and 6 days.  I would show you a group shot of us in all our glory but the cute one was hogging the limelight.


 
I suspect he may be enjoying being the centre of attention!  Needless to say, a certain small white fluffy dog is feeling a little bit as if her place as 'leader of the pack' has been taken.  A tiny bit of attention seeking has been going on - I'll say no more!

 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Memorandum Monday

The one in which I realise that the lines, dark rings under my eyes and wrinkles are not the result of some nasty photo filter.

I'm not a great one for selfies.  I blame it on short arms and the inability to know where on the phone I'm supposed to be looking while trying to press the photo taking button before I blink.  But my friend Denise introduced me to Snapchat as a bit of fun and we randomly send each other funny photos ofourselves now and again.  You can add all manner of weird and wonderful filters to your photo, flower crowns, vampire teeth, rabbit ears, silly hairstyles - you name it, it's on there.  But I noticed that no matter what silly filter I added, I couldn't help but see the sad state of affairs that my skin had fallen into.

We went out to dinner with friends last weekend and it came up in conversation that my friend has a salon treatment nearly every two weeks.  No wonder her skin looks so good!  It helps that her sister owns her own salon so she doesn't have to pay the full price, but she was surprised to hear that I never go anywhere to have a professional facial.  So I decided to address this and popped into a local salon when I was in town to book an appointment.  The lady on reception looked at me and asked what kind of facial I wanted as she flicked through their brochure.  I was expecting her to diplomatically suggest one for dry skin but oh no, she turned straight to the page on anti-ageing treatments.  I've never felt more in need of a bit of pampering! 

So this week I had my first anti-ageing and rejuvenating facial. 

It seemed a bit extravagant but oh my goodness, after I had spent an hour in that spa treatment room  having all manner of creamy goodness massaged into my skin I felt amazing.  It was the best money I spent all week.  The products were by a company called 'comfort zone' and I've been sent home with various free samples to use.  I'd never heard of them before but I'm a convert.  My skin, even after one treatment and 2 days of using the products at home, feels so much nicer and I'm already on the point of booking myself in for another facial pre-Christmas.

But I'm not the only one trying something new this weekend.  Oh no.  My husband has gone above and beyond the call of duty to join in with  Sian's idea of sharing something new on a Monday.  Unlike my spa treatment, it's not a very glamorous subject but one I think is still worthy of sharing.
 
For years now I've been complaining about his snoring.  Now, I know that it's quite a common theme between couples of a certain age, but this snoring had been getting worse and he had started to hold his breath in his sleep too.  So he reluctantly made a doctor's appointment, just to shut me up for once and for all.  We live fairly close to a Sleep Disorder Clinic at Papworth Hospital and he was referred there for tests.  He had to use two different monitors while sleeping at home and went back on Friday to get the results.  It turns out that on the night he was tested, at one point he actually stopped breathing for 17 times in one hour.  Now, that's not good is it?  It wasn't the first time I've been tempted to say 'I told you so' but it certainly was the time I felt most justified in saying it out loud!
 
There are no lifestyle changes that he can make; he's not overweight, he doesn't smoke and is not a heavy drinker so the first thing they will try is for him to have CPAP therapy which is basically a small mask to cover the mouth which continuously pumps air while he sleeps.  So this weekend he tried it for the first time.  All I'm saying is, it isn't silent but a heck of a lot quieter than the snoring was!  However, there is a serious message here too, there's fine line between annoying, noisy snoring and sleep apnoea.  We honestly did not realise how bad his sleeping was or the implications of not treating it - so if you suspect that someone you know (or maybe even you yourself!) may be at risk, it's easy to check out and could drastically improve their health.
 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Memorandum Monday - the Festive edition

Every Monday Sian asks us to put our thinking caps on and blog about something we've learned or done for the first time over the weekend.  Sometimes that is easier than others, and this is an easy week, because this weekend
 
I bought my very first Christmas jumper
 
I know.  I must be the only person who did not own a Christmas jumper.  It's become a bit of a school tradition now to have a Christmas jumper day at the end of the Autumn term and every previous year I have worn a 'home styled' jumper - an old red jumper of Rachel's that we customised with a pair of reindeer shaped mittens.  This year I decided that the time had come to jump on the jumper bandwagon and buy a 'proper' one.  I didn't want to spend much on it because let's be honest - it's not going to be worn much.
 
Whilst doing my weekly shop in that classy well known boutique, 'Tesco', I saw this jumper and after a lot of deliberating, brought it home with me.  It lovely and soft, and lightweight and I do think the little characters are kind of cute so I feel like I've finally embraced the craze.  Which means that next year there'll be a new 'thing' and Christmas jumpers will be so last year.
 
Update on last week's post where we thought we had found 'the dress'. 
 
I'm a firm believer that before you buy something expensive or arrange for something expensive to be done, you need to try three places.  So, last week we went to two bridal shops - one dress was shortlisted but when we got home, Rachel just had the tiniest of reservations.  It was stunning, it made us all go 'wow' and it brought a tear to my eye.  But it was very unusual and that was her concern, was it too unusual?  It's going to be the most expensive dress she ever buys  I ever buy her, so she's got to be 100%.  So she made an appointment to view some dresses at a very small local shop in town.  The owner told her to look at the website before she came and give her an idea of designers and styles that she liked.  Rachel was slightly underwhelmed by the dresses on the website and didn't hold out much hope that it would be a successful mission and was already looking to visit somewhere further afield next week.
 
After a brief chat about likes and dislikes, asking Rachel to stand up and turn this way and that, putting her hair up and then letting it down, the owner flicked through the dresses on the rails (quite different to the other shops where we were left to our own devices to pick and choose).  After a lot of swishing of hangers and umming and ahhing she gathered about 5 dresses that she thought were right.  We were ushered through to the back, Rachel was taken into a large changing room behind a crushed red velvet curtain and after a few minutes the curtain flicked back and ... WOW.  Oh my goodness, that lady knew exactly what was needed.  The first dress just fitted and suited her perfectly and whilst still the same silhouette as last weeks, was just so classy and the fabric just hung so beautifully.  It's unusual without being too quirky and despite trying on the other dresses, we all knew that the first one was THE one. 
 
So maybe that's another new thing I learned this weekend, that sometimes other people seeing you for the first time know better than yourself what is right and what will suit you.  I must be honest and say that I've felt for a while that I want to change my style a bit but it's hard when you keep getting drawn back to 'safe territory'. (This in no way relates to my Christmas Jumper purchase!)  So I'm now thinking that when it comes to Mother of the Bride shopping, I may actually try going somewhere that has a personal shopper service.  Just to see what someone else thinks will suit me.  Because I know that I will keep returning to styles and colours that I already have.  I don't have to take their advice but it would be interesting to see what they say.  Has anyone else out there used that kind of service? 
 
 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Memorandum Monday

I'm thinking that I may need to be asking advice on the best waterproof mascara people recommend following this weekend's 'first' that I'm talking about in this week's Memorandum Monday.   (As instigated by Sian over at High in the Sky. )  Because this weekend was the one in which
 
 I went shopping for wedding dresses for the first time with my daughter and her bridesmaids. 
 
Emotional? I had no idea just how emotional I would feel.

My friend's daughter does modelling for a wedding shop at wedding fairs and I can imagine that seeing her walking down the catwalk in wedding dresses may have taken away that moment when you first see your daughter as a bride.  Because I can tell you now, that there is an absolutely breathtaking moment when your daughter comes out of the fitting room wearing something that makes everyone hold their breathe and say 'wow'.  The look of happiness on her face as she turns to see herself in the mirror and says 'I love it'. The proud tears of joy that appear from nowhere and cause the chief bridesmaid to ask 'has anyone got any tissues?'

Would you like to see the dress? Only teasing.  Oh come on, do you really think I can share that? All I can share is a few close ups of features of some of the dresses she tried on.  (The chosen one may or may not be included in the collage!)  She tried several different styles to see what suited her and what didn't. Some were absolutely beautiful dresses, just not for her.  Simple styles, classic styles, hooped  skirts, long trains. There was netting and beading, and satin and lace, boning and ribbons and veils and embroidery. It was like being backstage in the wardrobe department at Strictly come dancing! 
All I can tell you is that it is unusual and she looked radiant in it.  And it's bringing a tear to my eye just writing about it, so If anyone CAN recommend me a totally tear-proof mascara between now and July, I'd love to hear from you! 

Monday, 31 October 2016

Memorandum Monday

Don't come too close fellow bloggers, there's germs aplenty over in Deb's World today.  But nothing to stop me joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday.  Let's just say that my husband is enjoying the side effects of me having laryngitis this weekend i.e. peace and quiet.

Last week I was at the beginning of revamping my son's bedroom.  Which, as requested, I am most definitely not turning into a craft room {ahem}  When I left you  I think I had just realised that the tin of paint left over from the dining room was not going to be enough to cover over that hideous dark royal blue endurance paint and had gone to Homebase to have some Dulux paint colour matched. 

I have to say that the matching was pretty good, the Dulux wall is on the opposite side to the one which was covered with two coats of Farrow and Ball so you don't see them next to each other.  But, whilst we are really pleased with the finished room, my husband still maintains that the F and B paint is superior to a colour matched Dulux one and 'well worth the extra money'.  It's definitely a thicker consistency and the coverage is better so less hard work getting a good end result.  So that's my product comparison done and dusted! 


I keep going in there to look at it as it looks so much better than before.  In an effort to totally overhaul the room we decided to dismantle the old dark wood chest of drawers that were in there and replace them with some of the Kallax cube storage from Ikea.  Hadn't been to Ikea since J went to uni so that was 8 years ago.  We started off with the 'oh look at that, we could do with one of those' impulse buys, working our way round, and round, and round.  We had also gone to buy a picture ledge to go in the newly decorated dining room - I am happy to say that this is now a finished project! 

Why is it though that whenever I do go to Ikea, what I am looking for is always at the end of the building and I've clocked up 10,000 steps trying to locate it?
Anyhow, mission accomplished, we returned home and spent the afternoon building units and finding homes for the things which are going to be stored in it. 

Totally not going to be craft related things though if anyone asks.  Never.  Absolutely not.

However, buying something new in Ikea wasn't my main subject matter for this Monday.  Now, it's Halloween tonight so it's only right I come up with something a bit scary.  I have something to share which may be horrifying to some of you scrapbookers out there.  Sit down if you are easily upset. 

This weekend I have thrown away the vast majority of my scrapbooking papers. 

OK, I'll give you a moment to gather your thoughts.  Truth is, I haven't scrapbooked for many a month.  In fact those months have spread to at least a couple of years.  Whilst I still enjoy looking at other's work and love looking at the albums I have made I just don't feel the urge to scrapbook any more.  Maybe it's to do with the empty-nest syndrome, I don't have so many people to take pictures of to make into pages and there's only so many cute dog pages you can make.  Yes I know we have an adorable grandson to fill a dozen books already but in reality I'm just as happy making online photo books to display photos.  We've done them for the last four holidays we had and keep them on the coffee table and I look at those far more than I do my scrapbooks.

So here's my first for the week -

This is the first time that my scrapbooking tote bag has been neat and tidy since I first bought it. 

I have put a selection of papers and thickers together to give to a lady at work who has a young daughter who enjoys making things so I know it will be going to a good home.  But boy had I held onto some stuff that was never going to be used!  Little scraps of scraps, too tiny to do anything constructive with.

off to a new home
I've held onto whole sheets of letters and numbers, and buttons and pearls and glitter glue etc as I do still enjoy making personalised gift tags and the odd card but on the whole, all my scrapbooking 'stuff' like punches and stamps and the like now fits into one square 20" x 20" holdall.  Which definitely won't be stored in that spare bedroom we've just decorated.  Absolutely not. 

Just like those drawer inserts in that new white furniture won't be filled with balls of wool and fat quarters of patchwork fabric.  As if. Oh wait a moment.  Too late.   

 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Memorandum Monday

It's the first day of the half term holidays over here in Deb's World and a busy day it's been too.  But never to busy to join in with Sian's Memorandum Monday.
 
But before I tell you the new thing I tried today, we need to first set the scene.  Let me take you back to the summer of 2007.  It wasn't a good summer for my son, in fact it was a summer he's probably pushed to the back of his mind.  AS exams had been taken, results would be arriving at the end of the summer holidays.  His first serious girlfriend had broken up with him and he failed his driving test.  Things were looking very bleak. 
In an effort to cheer himself up and make some changes, he asked if he could decorate his bedroom.  After a week of being totally despondent and just sitting around moping, we were happy to let him choose his own colour scheme and do his first bit of decorating, a nice project to do over the summer and keep him busy.  He went off to Homebase and came home with two tins of paint.  One a neutral cream and one blue.  One dark blue.  Very dark blue.  Endurance paint - with a shiny surface which you could scrub ('they didn't do it in any other finish and I liked the colour')  I loathed it.  But he loved it and he had such enthusiasm I didn't like to suggest maybe we return it for another colour. 
 
The plan was for friends to come and help him and to give them their credit, they rallied round, painted a first coat on all walls then went off with him to Subway for lunch and never returned.
 
While they were gone I looked at the patchy cream walls and quickly ran another coat over those.  Jon returned for dinner, declared himself thrilled with the lighter walls ( I kept the information about their 2nd coat to myself) and promised to finish off the darker ones the next day. 
 
Which he did.  Well, he did one of them but it's not so much fun without your mates to help out and then someone rang and asked if he wanted to go into town and ... you can guess the rest.  I finished off the 4th wall, put the furniture back and it's stayed that way ever since. 
 
Time came and went and so did he.  Three years in Sheffield at Uni, home for a year then off to Edinburgh for two years, home for six months then setting up home in London 18 months ago.  He's always joked that I was not to turn his room into a craft room or rent it out to a lodger as you never know when he might want to come back. 
 
Every time I go into that room (which is gradually turning into a room in which I store my craft equipment, which is not the same as turning it into a craft room is it?) I look at those dark walls and reach for the paint charts.  I said to him at the weekend 'You're getting married next year, you're living in London, you are clearly not coming back here to live, I'm going to decorate your room in half term', he smiled, gave me a big grin and said 'ok then, just don't make it pink'.
 
Now it just so happens that we had half a tin of the paint left over from the dining room and it would be a shame to throw it away so ...
 

Before
During
Only problem was, there wasn't enough paint left in the tin.  That blue?  Horrendously difficult to cover up.  The word 'patchy' doesn't even come close.  After half a wall it was blatantly obvious that one cover up coat was never going to be sufficient.  But Farrow and Ball paint doesn't come cheap and doesn't some in small tins.  I didn't want to spend out on another 2.5 litres when I only needed 1 litre at the most so I tried something new.  Well it was Memorandum Monday after all, I needed to try something I hadn't done before so
 
I had some Dulux paint colour matched to copy the colour from the F&B colour chart.
 
 
 
It was all very high tech with scanners to copy the colour from the paint chart and squirts of various shots of colours added to the base, seal the tin, give it a good old shake and voila we had a cheap copy of an expensive paint.  It will be interesting to see how it compares when we come to put it on the wall tomorrow.  Watch this space.

Have you tried anything new in the last week?  Why not pop over to Sian's and share it with all the Memo Makers?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Memorandum Monday - the circus edition

It's been a bizarre old week.
If someone had told me that one day I would be helping distribute a memo to be read out to all students in our school that included the words

'can reassure you that no clowns have been seen on, or around, the school premises'

I would not have believed them.  In fact that is something new that I had to do since last meeting for Memorandum Monday (as organised by the lovely Sian over at From High in the Sky). 

It was also the first time that an email was sent to all parents which ended with a comment from the local police:

They recommend that if anyone sees any clowns they should call 999 immediately.
  
Out of context, and if you hadn't heard about this latest craze on the news, these communications seem very peculiar but oh yes, our town is - along with many others - plagued by rumour and speculation that we are about to be ... visited by clowns.  I hope they know that if they come in their tiny yellow and red cars with the doors that fall off they will have to arrive at our school after 10am because before then they won't be able to park in the road because of local parking restrictions. 

There was a false alarm at breaktime on Friday and about 150 girls ran screaming through reception and down the front path because someone 'thought they had seen a clown'.  150 over excited, high pitched screaming girls.  I can still hear it ringing in my ears!  Hence the memo.  Because some of the younger girls are genuinely scared.  Some honestly believe that something bad and scary is going to happen.  People I work with who have younger children are having to comfort and reassure them and calm them down as they wake from scary clown filled dreams.  We are living in strange times.

Now for my other 'first'  - and I know I'm late to the party with this one, but this weekend I

received my first new £5 note

It feels very weird, like it's made of plastic but I think I do prefer it to the scrumpled up, torn and tatty old ones that I've been getting in my change, and it does feel like it will survive a quick washing machine adventure without needing to be pieced back together as it dries out. 


You can almost sense Winston's disapproving 'I won't take any nonsense from people dressed up as clowns.' look.

So that's my firsts for this week, head on over to Sian's to see what everyone else has been doing.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Memorandum Monday

It's kind of appropriate that my subject for this week's Memorandum Monday is actually something I learnt about from Sian's own blog.

In fact sometimes I look upon Sian as my own personal search engine - far more appropriate than Google, she shares the same interests as me and knows exactly what I might find interesting.  In fact, Google only knows what I want to find out about when I mention it, Sian predicts what I might like to have a look at before I've even realised what it is I might need to know!

This week's discovery started a few weeks ago - from a casual,

 'how long ago did we last decorate the dining room?' enquiry

 - a little devious picking at a wallpaper seam -

'it must be a while, look it's starting to peel away from the wall' {ahem}. ' It's a bit old fashioned now, wouldn't it be nice to spruce it up a bit?'  After all, there are still so many Farrow and Ball paint colours we haven't used yet. 

Fast forward a few weeks, wallpaper is stripped, new lining paper put up, paint colour chosen for the 'feature wall' (Oval Office Blue - how appropriate given that the news is all about the forthcoming US elections) and talk turns to what we will put up on the wall to complete the new look.

I had already had my eye on, and had subsequently bought, a lovely carved wood panel from Nordic House, but before you click on the link, I must warn you that you will find a lot of totally irresistible things there, and I accept no responsibility for any on line purchases you may make ...
 
This is still nothing to do with what I did for the first time this week by the way.  Just laying the foundation for the story.  Apparently, I do this a lot.  Or so the family say.  'Just get on with the story Mum' is an expression often heard.
 
So anyway, as often happens when decorating takes places in one room of the house, it has a knock on effect on other things.  Whilst contemplating what to put on the blue wall, my husband said 'it would be nice to get a collage of lots of random photos that we could put in a simple frame, something reasonably priced that we could renew every now and again.'
 
A memory stirred, a light bulb went on in my mind - I've seen a link to somewhere that prints reasonably priced posters of collages of photos ... where would it be ... what was it called ... ???
 
I headed off to check the instagram/Facebook/blog pages of my fountain of knowledge - and sure enough, found a post from Sian about an app that is easy to use, easy to upload photos from your phone, not too expensive, post and packing free, and good quality.
 
May I introduce you to Sticky9  ...
 

(It only looks an odd shape as I've just taken it out of the cardboard tubing and it's still got a bit of a curl going on but once it's in a frame it's going to look fab!)
 
I love the fact that it's full of memories and informal shots and things that make our family who we are (No prizes for guess who the mojito, the sloe gin or the Portuguese custard tart refer to)  There's memories of two engagements and a baby, holidays and a certain furry person who owns us.  I love it and can't wait to get it in a frame and up in the Oval Office Dining Room.

Many thanks to Sian for the inspiration - now what next do you have in store for me?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Memorandum Monday - the 'it's too early' edition

Hands up anyone who is thinking about putting up their Christmas tree anytime soon.  Not many eh? 
 
So in joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday this week I'm sharing two firsts that I've experienced today -
 
The first Christmas department that I've seen this year - on, yes, the 3rd October.  Is it me or does that seem just a little bit too early?  And yet ... I did head over there to have a look (strictly in the interests of taking a photo for Memorandum Monday of course) and my walking speed definitely slowed as I passed the copper coloured baubles.  But my resolve did not weaken and I did not buy any.  Even though some of them were absolutely beautiful.  I wasn't tempted at all.  Not one little bit.  OK, yes I was, right up until the moment my husband found me and tutted about 'can't believe people can even think of buying Christmas decorations yet' ...
 
This was a first within a first, as it was also my first visit to see the new shopping centre that has opened up in Chelmsford.  I had a voucher from John Lewis offering me free tea and cake in their new store, and an invitation from White Stuff offering a discount and it seemed like the stars were aligning to say I needed to go and see what it was like.  So to make up for posting a totally unseasonable photo at the beginning of this, let me share the view from outside John Lewis, showing the River Chelmer on a gloriously sunny October afternoon.

It seems crazy that this morning some people I work with woke to a thin layer of frost on their car windscreens and this afternoon, people were sitting outside restaurants in the sunshine.  Only in England eh?
 



Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Memorandum Monday

I have been joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday since she first thought of the idea and I love trying to think of things that I've learnt for the first time or tried for the first time over the weekend.  So how has it suddenly become Wednesday and I haven't posted anything this week?  When did life get so busy that I couldn't find a few minutes to sit at a computer and type a few observations?

Around about 29 August 2016. That's the exact date.

Now I'm not one to blame someone who is too small and too inarticulate to defend himself but that young man who arrived on that date has somehow not only managed to take over his mum and dad's days, but a whole lot of other peoples too.  Some aren't complaining at all; the smallest, furriest member of the family loves the fact that Leo is looking for someone to accompany him on an afternoon walk in the Autumn sunshine.  Every day. 

I could come up with all manner of new things that he's done every weekend, but this isn't his blog and I can't steal his ideas.

Last week I mentioned how chaotic my week started and how restorative a walk in the countryside can be.  This week I could tell you that at the weekend - for the first time ever - I was hit on the head whilst walking by a falling conker and we reminisced how this too was a sign of the times.  When the children were younger conkers didn't have time to mature enough to fall from a tree naturally, all manner of shaking branches and throwing of sticks would have meant that we would return home with a bag full of shiny brown conkers, ready to have a hole punched through them, a sturdy piece of string attached and conker matches be held.  Of course, nowadays, health and safety dictates that this is a dangerous sport, no taking your best, hardest, champion conker to school to prepare for battle in the playground at break time and that simple pleasure is now consigned to the memory.

The arrival of my favourite magazine this morning provided the subject for this week's post - I love The Simple Things magazine, and a cup of coffee and a seat in the sunshine in the conservatory are the perfect accompaniments to an hour or so of reading of the simple pleasures in life and the perfect antidote to a hectic week. 

 
So that's my lesson for the week, sometimes we need to take time out and enjoy the simple things that we take for granted.  Time to recharge those batteries, rest and regroup to get energy for the next adventure that life throws at us.
 
 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Memorandums

Monday, Monday, Monday.  How could one day pass so quickly?  Here I am, almost too late to join in Sian's Memorandum Monday.

I should have guessed it was going to be a frantic day when an epic SatNav fail affected my journey into work.  Not my mistaken turning, but one which caused a few problems.  You see, my very short journey to work takes me down a very narrow road which has the rather attractive name of 'Pig Lane'.  I always thought it might be because it is in the middle of farm land, maybe originally a pig farm?  Apparently during the war it was known as Pudding Lane.  There is a large manor set back from the road which was used as a maternity hospital, in particular single mother evacuees from London.  The girls would come to stay in a house in the centre of town, and then when the birth was imminent they would be moved to the manor house and the road which they travelled down got the nickname Pudding Lane as a play on the words 'in the pudding club'.  I digress.  This road is narrow, single track in some places and delays can be frequent when a large Range Rover comes head to head with another.  So imagine the chaos this morning when
 a Stansted airport park and ride double 'bendy' bus went down there.  It must have been a new driver who did not know the area and was following the 'shortest possible route' to Stansted on a sat nav.  How he ended up there, I have no idead.  For a start the park and ride is nowhere near Pig Lane, and it certainly isn't the main route through to the airport! 

So I sneaked into the office dead on 8.30 and tried to slip unnoticed into my chair.  'Aha, you're here' says the Head's PA, I know you've only just got here but could I have a word?'  As I searched my mind for anything dreadful I might have done, I couldn't find anything in my guilty conscience.  However it appeared that my plans for the morning were well and truly scuppered as our receptionist had resigned and left without working any notice.  Which naturally led to much speculation in the office for the rest of the morning.  Had anyone noticed she was unhappy?  Had she mentioned to anyone she was thinking about leaving?  No to all.  But it left us with a busy reception to man between us and consequently I got none of my own work done at all.   

So what have I learnt today?  After a morning of frustrating commutes and unexpected workloads, the perfect antidote is a family afternoon walk in the countryside with a dog on one side and a baby on the other.  And the first true signs of Autumn, fallen leaves and shiny conkers. 


I hope everyone else had a slightly better start to their day! 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Memorandum Monday -

Just sneaking in before the end of Monday so I can officially join in with Sian's Memo Makers.

There's a certain member of our family who's experienced a whole load of new things today and I've been lucky enough to share some of them with him.

Today was the first day that Leo's daddy wasn't there to spend all day with him.  The nasty people at Leo's dad's workplace said that his two weeks paternity leave was up and they wanted him back at work.  All day.  What a cheek!  How lucky then that I finished work at 12.30 and was able to pop round and spend the afternoon with him :-)

It was the first time that Leo's mum had taken him out in the car without his daddy.  Daddy normally does all the heavy lifting, getting the car seat into the car, folding up the pram frame and putting it in the boot of the car.  So it fell to me to try and 'help'  - at which point I realised that things have moved on somewhat since I last went out with a newborn.  26 years ago to be precise!  Baby seats are heavy.  REALLY heavy - and then you've got to fix it into the Isofix fitting, line it up properly and wait until the lights stop flashing to confirm it's in properly.  OK, I have to be honest, Leo's mum had to do that bit as there's quite a knack to it.  When I think back to bringing Rachel home 30 years ago, we simply put her in a carry cot, put that on the back seat and put a seat belt over it.  Looking back, it may not have been as safe as we thought it was then!
So whilst she was doing that, it fell to me to fold up the frame to put in the boot of the car.  Oh yes.  That sounds simple doesn't it?  My goodness I made a mess of that. But it was my first time after all.  Line this wheel up there, put on the brake, press that handle in, then push the handle down, pull on that strap, give it a shake, fold it up and voila! The 'voila' stage took a little while to accomplish.
So we set off for Leo and his mum to pop into the doctor's for a check over and then we headed out for the main event ...
Leo's first trip to a supermarket
Does a Monday get any more exciting than that?
So here's the photo to prove it.
If you see him, don't expect him to remember much about it, he slept through the whole thing.  And then we got home, he woke up, had his afternoon tea/milk and went straight back to sleep.  Which kind of makes me think that's he's used up his quota of being quiet and sleepy for the day, and that his mum and dad may be in for a disturbed evening!
 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Memorandum Monday - the 2 days late edition

 Belatedly joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday gang.  {hangs head in shame}  Could I call my entry 'What I learnt Wednesday'?  Whatever happened to Monday? What with going back to work and all those Grandmotherly emotions going on, the days are flying by. 

So what have I learnt since we last met?  Well, let me see ...

  • That after 6 weeks on school holiday I had managed to forget every log in password to every website/database/software programme that I needed to do my job.  Those combinations of upper case - lower case - numbers - exclamation marks - dollar signs that tripped so easily from my fingertips in July refused to come to mind in September.  Until I remembered that when I had been given my new academic planner at end of term, I had sensibly written them all down on a random page (top secret info you know, don't write it down, don't share it with anyone - don't tell anyone what I've done!)

  • I've learnt how to use a franking machine.  And whereas using a hand stamp to number and date every application form that comes in satisfies my inner librarian, the franking machine takes me back to happy days as a child playing with a toy post office, a plastic contraption which folded out to make a pretend counter, miniature envelopes and stamps ... (anyone else have one of them?) I'm sure the novelty will wear off long before the finance office have sorted out their back log of work and take the job back from the secretaries' office.

  • I've learnt that six weeks at home, with no holiday in the middle of it, plus the start of the Great British Bake Off, results in many new cake recipes being tried which in turn results in all my work trousers having 'shrunk' since I last wore them. 
Sorry to be late to the party this week - now off to play catch up and see what everyone else has been learning!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Memorandum Bank Holiday Monday

Short but sweet this week
Guess who became a grandmother this morning?
Linking in with Sian's Memorandum Monday

Monday, 22 August 2016

Memorandum Monday

Giving up a big wave to Sian and the rest of the Mondayers!

It's been a big weekend over here, it's Rachel's 30th on Wednesday and so we had an early family celebration (her due date and my due date 30 years ago are identical and I'm just assuming that Bingle will arrive early too and I didn't want her birthday celebrations to be overshadowed by anyone else's birthday or to have to take place in the labour ward)

Talk naturally turned to how I felt/looked at this point and I went through the family photo albums and found a photo of me taken on almost exactly the same day 30 years ago, sitting in the lounge at an open window in a rocking chair - which was my son's cue to go outside with the camera and take a photo within a photo, recreating the pose.

 
So what have a I learnt this week to share with Sian's Memorandum Monday project?
 
Turns out I am quite the sporting expert after all
 
Oh yes, that girl who was the last one dawdling out the changing rooms at the beginning of PE lessons yet the first one back at the end, the one who was the fastest in and out of the communal showers and managed the whole manoeuvre with barely a drop of water on their skin, the one whose least favourite subject at school was the dreaded games lesson - has, over the course of the last two weeks, become almost an Olympic judge.
 
When I discovered that the Olympics was taking over the TV for the whole two weeks, I was not impressed but over the course of time I've found it far more interesting that I imagined.  Not all sports, but the ones I enjoyed, I really enjoyed.  There were thrills (Ladies hockey, who knew it could be so exciting?) spills (Mo Farah falling over and still getting up to win the race) and heartbreak (Tom Daley, how could it go so wrong in the semi finals and that poor guy who lost the gold medal in the last half a second of the Taiquando). 
 
I realised that I was probably overestimating my knowledge when my husband gave me a quizzical look as I passed comment during the diving on the sharp entry into the water after a 4 turned half pike with a twist.  Baring in mind that I only learnt to swim when I was 30, don't like being out of my depth and am a founder member of the 'heads up' brigade (those of us who don't like water on our face or wet hair while swimming) I am hardly qualified to criticise.  
 
And despite the fact that the Lee Valley White Water Park where our canoeists trained (I became quite a good judge of their slalom too) is less than 20 miles away, I don't think there is any chance that I am likely to suggest we spend a day on the training course any time soon. 
 
 
 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Memorandum Monday

As I know that Sian is safely out of the country, I'm going with something pretty controversial this week for Memorandum Monday.
 
Are you a stamper or a saviour?

This is an interesting take on something I learnt this weekend which was

(look away now, those of you with a nervous disposition ...)

Spiders have the ability to grow back their legs if they get injured.

Oh yes.  You read that correctly.  They can grow back body parts.   And how did I learn this?  Well.  Our house seems to have dozens of those spindly legged, skinny spiders in it at the moment.  Perfectly harmless, but make lots of webs everywhere which makes it look as if I don't dust very often.  {ahem}  I have no issue with these, I mean, I'm not keen to adopt them as pets and I certainly don't let them stay in the house once I've found them, but I can quite happily easily grab a duster, pick them up and throw them out of the window.

But one evening I was sitting in bed reading my book while P was downstairs locking up the house (this has to be his job because if I do it, the minute I get into bed my mind immediately doubts that I have indeed locked the back door/closed the windows in the lounge/checked the oven is turned off) when out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement.  A scuttle of something black, appearing from the door of our en suite.  It was a pretty impressive size, had a large plump body, definitely had 8 legs and looked at me with a cocky 'catch me if you can' glance. 

Now, I don't like spiders.  I know the ones we get in this country don't do you any harm so I would certainly never kill one intentionally.  My default reaction to seeing a 'proper' spider is to grab a glass, sneak up on the unwelcome critter, turn the glass upside down and cover it so it is held captive until the cavalry arrive to eject it safely from the house.  P has no qualms about picking up spiders of any size, just cups his hand over it and picks it up while I stand by an open window or door screaming 'quick, quick, close the window/door before it has the chance to run back in.' 

By now the big, black, hairy spider has run the length of the bedroom and taken sanctuary in a corner - I am screaming for back up as the only glass in the room is woefully inadequate to cover this monster.  P appears with the resigned look of someone who has been called on to get rid of a large spider before only to find it is about the size of a 10p piece, but when he sees it, even he admits that it's larger than your average spider.  The spider, looking at P and knowing he has met his match, makes a bid for freedom, back across the bedroom towards the en suite.  (The window of which has now been opened in readiness for the ejection of the spider) I'm now standing on the bed and the dog has appeared wondering what the commotion is and perhaps she can help.  P makes a grab for the spider, grips it between his thumb and forefinger at which point the spider makes a final bid for freedom and leaves P holding just 2 legs!  Not one to be beaten by a 6 legged creature, (which has now slowed down considerably) P makes another grab, catches it and throws it out the window. At which point I bemoan the fact that the poor little thing  (yes, once it is safely out the house I can feel sorry for it) only has 6 legs and won't last long in the big, bad outside world when P says

 'don't worry, it'll just grown some new ones' 
 
WHAT? 
A quick internet search confirmed it. Spiders can grown back legs that they lose.  Who knew?

Oh by the way, you know that story about the average person accidentally eating up to 4 spiders in their lifetime while they are asleep?  Just a myth apparently.  However, I'm still not knowingly going to share my bedroom with one - just in case!

 So there you go.  In this house we would never stamp on a spider, we're definitely saviours.  Which are you?  Stamper or Saviour? 




Monday, 8 August 2016

Memorandum Monday

It wasn't hard to find something new that I hadn't done before this weekend.  My God-daughter got married and it was the first time that I had ...

... been to a wedding reception in a Tipi!

It was such a lovely venue, and gave a real 'festival' feel to the afternoon.  After the meal people were just sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, playing giant Jenga, croquet, trying their luck at a coconut shy or just chatting with a glass of something chilled.  The bridal car was a little out of the ordinary too


So was the catering - absolutely delicious pies.  It may sound unusual but it went down a treat!  (I can personally vouch for the chicken, ham hock, leek and cheddar)


The bride's brother is co-owner of a local handmade ice cream company so you can guess what dessert was!  I was especially happy to see their stand as it meant I was able to find a better photo of a bike for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt :-)


It was a really lovely day, the setting and the atmosphere was just perfect - not to mention the weather. 'Happy is the bride that the sun shines on'!

Joining in with Sian's Memorandum Monday theme.

{For those who sent kind wishes last week - baby update - 36 weeks now and no hospital dashes last week.  Phew!}