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!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Neglected blogging

I don't know if it's because I've jotting down what I'm doing every day in a draft blog post to post at the end of the month or some other such excuse but I haven't done a normal blog post in a while.  Now I've started this one, I'm struggling for what subject to write about, if I were Coco, this would be me, staring out the window hoping that inspiration will come and find me...

Last week of the Easter school holidays here and I'm trying to get organised for our weekend away.  This happens every time I go away.  I have plenty of time to get organised and then leave everything until the last minute.  The weather forecast out there is a bit mixed so I'm in a clothing dilemma especially as we are going 'hand luggage only' so I've got to organise what fashion magazines call 'a capsule wardrobe'.  Or put some of my clothes in my husband's bag ... 😉

My current problem is finding a pair of shoes I can wear in the evening, that are smart enough to look good with a dress, yet low heeled and comfortable enough in case we have to walk a fair distance from our hotel to a restaurant on what may be cobbled streets (a few of my smart shoes are only comfortable enough to walk from car park to restaurant!) and can't be made of fabric or suede in case it's raining.  These shoes do not exist in my wardrobe, compromises will have to be made ... {or some last minute shopping}

I'm having my final birthday treat today - the people I work with bought me a voucher for a local restaurant which has a lovely Sunday lunch menu.  I am so looking forward to not cooking today!  This restaurant used to run cookery classes and I used to go there once a month to watch the chef make three or four dishes on a certain theme, then sample them, along with suggested wines.  I would come home on a Thursday night, slightly merry, full of good food and recipes to try out at home.  So I know the food will be great quality and such a treat to not be the one in the kitchen cooking.

Our son flew out to Copenhagen on Friday to visit a friend he met at uni and he's flying back into Stansted later tonight so we have him staying over.  His flight gets in at 11.35 pm - do you think he'll be able to come in at midnight quietly and not wake us up?  No, neither do I! There'll be the slam of a taxi door, a fumble to get the key in the lock, the front door will open and close noisily, Coco will be in guard dog mode and will run up and down stairs to let us know someone's come in and we'll all be wide awake.  Maybe I'd better have a post-lunch Sunday afternoon nap 😴

Have a good Sunday!

Monday, 2 April 2018

A sentence a day for March

It was a big month over here this month.  There was a BIG birthday.  In fact half way through the month I tipped over from one decade to the next!  But let's not dwell on  that, let's get cracking with the fab idea over on Leslie's blog to make a note of a sentence a day. (I think I'm early for the link up!)


Day 1: No matter how cold it is, how icy the paths are or how low the temperatures are, Coco the wonder-dog likes to check that everything is ok in the park behind where we live.

Day 2: Had a meeting with my line manager to discuss the date that I will be leaving - it's all getting real now!

Day 3: We have the family coming over tomorrow to celebrate our son's 28th birthday so I was busy baking cakes - the traditional 'Cadbury finger biscuits round the outside with your favourite sweets on top' that everyone has to have, and a special egg and dairy free one so our grandson can join in the celebrations (not sure he will eat a whole cake to himself though!)

Day 4:  We went on a long dog walk before all the family arrived for Jon's birthday celebrations - either the ducks have learnt to walk on water, or the lake is still very frozen.

Day 5: Twenty eight years ago, we dropped my daughter at my mum's and my husband drove me to the hospital where I was booked in for a planned C Section for the birth of our second child; Jonathan arrived that afternoon and there hasn't been a dull moment since!  (How can my youngest possibly be 28?!!!)

Day 6: At work today I was working on the school's Award Evening which will take place after I leave - it seems so weird (and a little sad) to start a big project knowing that I won't be in the office to see it through to fruition.

Day 7: It's my day for having Leo all day so we headed off to a playgroup to while away an hour or so this morning - with the nice added benefit of wearing him out to help with a well needed after lunch nap - however when we got back home I discovered that he had craftily sneaked a toy out with him and hidden it in his pocket, are we helping to raise a kleptomaniac?

Day 8: A full on day at work followed by an hour of Fitsteps meant it was early to bed and a sound night's sleep.

Day 9: Finding it hard to travel light for my Mother's Day/Birthday treat of a spa break on Sunday with my daughter, it's only an overnight stay and we'll be spending most of our time wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe so why is my list of things to pack getting so long?

Day 10: We are looking after a neighbour's cat while they are on holiday this week which makes me nervous as the cat is about 17 I think and not looking as well as she did last time we had care of her; looking after other people's pets is quite stressful.

Day 11:  Trip to Lifehouse Spa with Rachel where I had my first hot stone massage - I don't think I've ever felt so relaxed.

Day 12:  After a blissful night's sleep, I was treated to a luxury manicure before I was reluctantly taken home.

Day 13: My last day of being in my 50s - I am surely too young to be this old!

Day 14: The balloon says it all ...

Day 15: A poorly Leo came to visit in the afternoon, he's caught a virus and he'd been miserable all day - his mum thought a trip to Nanny's might cheer him up, I think it worked!

Day 16: My friend Sally, who has recently joined the Grandmother club (Glam-mothers?) visited with her daughter and her baby in the afternoon and we introduced her to Leo who is clearly destined to be perfect husband material.

Day 17: My son and daughter in law came for the weekend and combined their trip with some house viewings in Saffron Walden which is about half an hour away - am trying hard to contain my excitement at the prospect of them moving out of London and back to a more local place.

Day 18: We took 17 members of family out for lunch to celebrate us both having our 60th birthdays - Rachel had made a fabulous cake {good job I took a photo of it before everyone came back to ours after the meal as it didn't last long once we finished singing 'happy birthday'}

Day 19: In an effort to revamp my wardrobe I've bought some chunky soled trainers - I was wondering if they suited me when my daughter arrived and her first reaction was 'Mum, I love those shoes' so it looks like they're keepers.

Day 20: I handed in my notice at work!  👏

Day 21: My day for looking after Leo - he certainly knows how to keep me on my toes.

Day 22: Fitsteps class in the evening but the air-conditioning wasn't working in the hall we use, I think it's true to say we all left a lot hotter and sweatier than when we arrived.

Day 23: Invited to a neighbours for tea and a chat in the afternoon, they went to Bologna last year so she's given us plenty of ideas for things to do when we are there in a couple of weeks time.

Day 24: Jumped on scales and quickly jumped off again - time to get back to Slimming World frame of mind - all those celebration meals out, chocolates and cake have taken their toll!

Day 25: We put our clocks forward an hour as the start of British summertime but I think someone needs to tell the weather that it needs to leave Winter behind - although it wasn't snowing/hailing/raining like it was last Sunday, it certainly wasn't very summery out there on our Sunday morning dog walk.

Day 26: A change of routine this week as my grandson's childminder is on holiday, I decided he may be old enough to 'help' with some cooking - cheese scones - luckily we have a dog who is willing to clean up any ingredients that fall on the floor 🐶

Day 27: After only 4 days of eating in a Slimming World friendly way I am already having withdrawal symptoms for biscuits - I hadn't realised how often I dip into the biscuit tin while waiting for the kettle to boil for a cup of tea!

Day 28: Babysitting day again and it was absolutely pouring down with rain so all those lovely dog walks in the fresh air that we normally have didn't happen, instead we did some baking.

Day 29: School breaks up for the Easter holidays today so we closed early at 1.30pm; staff are just as happy as the students are - 2 weeks off work!

Day 30: Woken early today as our son and wife were staying over before they left for a weekend at her Grandparents house in France for the weekend; they had an early Eurotunnel booking and left here at 4am! (Why does a front door opening and closing sound so loud in the early hours?)

Day 31: I'm congratulating myself on keeping up with this post - the secret really is to not let yourself get behind.

March certainly was eventful, I wonder what April has in store?

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

It's hard work being good

About 4 years ago I joined Slimming World.  I wasn't massively overweight, but I needed to lose a bit of weight to feel comfortable in my clothes - I refused to start buying a larger size!  At SW they tell you to initially aim to lose 10% of your body weight and I was given a target of 13lb to lose.  I did it and kept it off until about 6 months ago.  Gradually, it has been sneaking back on.  After both weddings last year I guess I got back into bad habits and I've now put back nine of those little pounds.  

In my defence, we've had a lot of celebrations with the two weddings and with both of us having our 'big' birthdays, a couple of long weekends away, Christmas - all great excuses for cake, rich food and the odd glass or two of wine.  Well, maybe more than just the odd glass!  

It has to stop.  I need to get back on track.  Slimming world is so easy to do and it really is just common sense and changing the way in which you cook.  My main problem is the snacking.  I find it hard to sit and watch things like Bake Off with just a cup of coffee without a biscuit to keep it company.

But when I set my mind to something, I do try my utmost to do it - despite friends trying to sabotage my efforts.  We've been invited to friends for a takeaway Indian meal at the end of the week, obviously it's Good Friday (Hot cross buns), Easter Sunday (chocolate eggs) and then a belated birthday meal out at a local Italian restaurant next Thursday.  Boy have I got to be strong willed! 

Anyone else feeling like they need to spring clean their diet before we have to bare a bit more flesh in summer clothes?  {Please tell me it isn't just me ...}

Monday, 19 March 2018

A plausible excuse

You know how it is when the universe tries to tell you something?  You don't always see the signs but the clues are definitely there.  This can also be known as 'trying to justify buying new clothes'.

Last week we had one of those charity bags put through our door, collecting clothes for the NSPCC charity.  This was fantastic timing as I am planning to go through my wardrobe and get rid of those clothes I only ever wear for work.  But you know how it is when you weed things out of your wardrobe and the wardrobe suddenly looks a bit empty and there are hangers hanging around with nothing on them?  They look so sad.  They clearly need something new to wear (and so do I).  

I first noticed a fab, bright, cheerful colour combination on Jodie's blog.  I have a lovely pair of crop trousers in a fun, bright tone of green and loved how she had styled the same colour in a cardigan with pink.  Clearly my crops were never going to look as good combined with a boring neutral shade, they needed something to cheer them up.

So the universe sent me another clue.  A 15% voucher to be used in White Stuff.  I do like their clothing but usually only shop there when there is a sale or a money off offer.  You see where this is going don't you?  

Jodie had also done another blog post on footwear, which got me thinking about what I would be taking for our forthcoming trip to Bologna.  We're going with another couple and my friend is quite fashion conscious and I realised that my trusty Sketcher trainers possibly weren't going to be up to any photo opportunities.  

A quick trip into town this morning has resolved both issues

I love the coral pink of the top, I can see me getting a lot of use out of it and the trainers are so different to any other footwear I have.  In fact my daughter popped round unexpectedly when I was trying them on and her opening greeting was 'Mum, I love those shoes!' so they are definitely keepers - plus they have an inch platform spongy sole so I am taller when I wear them!

Has the universe spoken to you recently?  Keep listening!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Over the hill

Am happy to report that tipping over from my 50s to my 60s has been fantastic.  I've been wined and dined, pampered and spoilt.  If this is what 60 feels like - bring it on!

Monday, 12 March 2018


Well, what a difference between the me that wrote the last post and the me writing this one.  The unexpected spa break which was a combined Mother's Day and early birthday treat, was absolutely what I needed to shake me out of my low mood and I've returned feeling much more like my old self.  Actually a more relaxed and pampered, better version of that old self.

A glass of prosecco on arrival will always set the scene for a relaxing time.  Then up to our room to change into our towelling robes to have a blissful hot stone massage.  Oh wow.  Amazing, don't think I've ever felt so relaxed.  Then suddenly it's time to get dressed for dinner

We arrived a little early to the restaurant so killed some time enjoying a lovely G&T in the bar

The food was amazing - absolutely delicious and after dinner we both went up to our room and I don't think I've slept so soundly for ages.

Before we went down for breakfast she handed me a card which was an early birthday card from my son saying that as his birthday treat for me he had paid for me to have a luxury manicure.  

To say I feel pampered, relaxed and very, very lucky to have such thoughtful and generous children is the understatement of the year.  The last few days of my 50s have been pretty special.   60?  Bring it on!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Counting down the days

I've found myself in an odd kind of mood this week - I don't know what it is, the final remnants of this stupid cold virus that is being stubbornly slow to go completely or could it possibly the thought that this is my last week of being in my 50s 😱. Or maybe just a combination of a lot of things - the cold weather isn't helping and I am finding myself longing for spring to really start.  

It's lucky I finished my 'tipsy tumbler' quilt 

As I've been spending my evenings curled up beneath it!  Oh for lighter evenings and warmer temperatures. 

A friend of mine's husband has just been told that he has a serious cardiac issue and she sent me a message which included these words, which I cannot get out of my mind.

"The future isn't going to be the one I thought we would be having ..." 

and I think that has really resonated with me.  That I must stop procrastinating and hibernating until the sun reappears.  So with that in mind I plan to finally write that resignation letter and get a firm date to leave work - forever.  At my advanced age you may be surprised to hear that I've never resigned before - my first job I went on maternity leave and never went back, then I had a very long time at home being a stay at home mum, then my next job I was made redundant and now this job where I have been for almost 17 years.  I shall need to google suitable wording!

I have something rather special to look forward to on Sunday.  My daughter has arranged, as a combined Mother's Day and birthday present, for us to go to a spa for a couple of days.  So thoughtful of her and it will be lovely to spend some time with her - just the two of us.  She will have her Mother's Day with Leo right up until about 3pm, then we will drive up to the spa hotel and stay overnight.  But I only have a couple of days now to get swimsuit ready - it's unlikely that I will be able to do much about that in such a short space of time!  Thank goodness for those thick fluffy dressing gowns they provide for you.  They will hide a multitude of sins.   I'm hoping a nice break away in calm, relaxing surroundings will be the mood boost I am looking for.  A little bit of pampering will be the best prescription for the Winter blues.  

Friday, 2 March 2018

February Part two

Joining in with Leslie and following on from my previous post, which you can see here,  trying to condense a whole day into one sentence - here comes the 2nd part of February


Day 11: A lazy Sunday afternoon,

followed by our grandson sleeping over (You can tell by the relaxed, carefree look on her face that Coco was blissfully unaware that our little whirlwind Leo was on his way).

Day 12: Took advantage of a lunchtime offer of buy one, get one free at a local restaurant - lemon, pine nut and caper pasta at Col's Kitchen was absolutely delicious! 🍝

Day 13: Poor little Leo was decidedly under the weather when we were childminding him today and a visit to the doctors later in the afternoon confirmed an ear infection

Day 14: Feeling all the love for Coco after her trip to the groomers on Valentines day

Day 15: Oh no, seems that grandson of ours has been sharing his germs

Day 16: Need to power through this virus as we've got guests for dinner tomorrow night

Day 17: Fridge full of food, house thoroughly cleaned, wine chilling - ready for our guests and our meal

Day 18: Oh no, husband has succumbed to the bug, I was tempted to buy him a bottle of this

Day 19: Am becoming quite conversant in the sport of curling (too much armchair TV time with this virus)

Day 20: Back to work, trying not to spread my germs around the office too much 😷

Day 21: My day for looking after our grandson - he seems to have bounced back much quicker than we have!

Day 22: An hour of Fitsteps almost killed me, but I managed to stay the course - absolutely love the Charleston routine we do to 'Bills'.

Day 23: A subdued day in the office as there was a memorial service the celebrate the all too short life of the young 16 year old student who died from a brain tumour a couple of weeks ago.

Day 24: My favourite place to go shopping is Cambridge, and when we go there, my favourite place for lunch is here

Day 25: We had our little grandson over to stay the night while his mummy and daddy went out for the evening.  

Day 26: They've been forecasting a storm called 'The Beast from the East' for a couple of days now and temperatures dropped this morning quite dramatically before the first few flurries of snow - I think it's definitely on its way

Day 27: He's only 18 months old, but already our grandson has more artistic talent than me

This masterpiece is entitled 'snow'

Day 28: OK, so they were right about the snow - it hit us today

Could I manage to sum up my month in less than ten words?  Yes I think I could

I honestly can't remember ever feeling this cold before!

Monday, 26 February 2018

The Beast from the East

Apparently we are about to be hit by some VERY cold weather.  

The weather reports are full of it.  The more sensationalist newspapers are using it for their headlines (if you read some of them, you'd probably doubt you'll live to see the end of the week).  Our railway line has already decided to stop services at 10pm tonight and the first train out tomorrow will be 6am.

We've had a bit of snow - but just a bit.  And when you leave the house you can feel that the wind has a real bite to it.  Gritters are out on the roads already and it's not even 5pm yet.  I just checked my work email from home as I don't work Mondays and they are telling staff to check emails before leaving home to make sure the school will be open.  

Now if I look outside I see this

Not much snow to talk of eh?  And it seems hard to believe that road and rail is going to be hit dramatically in the next 12 hours.

But if we are feeling chilly at the moment, you have to feel a bit sorry for some visitors we have in school at the moment.  We have a partner school in Uganda and every year 2 or 3 teachers come over to see how things are in the UK and to meet the people who fundraise on their behalf.  They have never known temperatures so low.  'Low' for them is about 12 degrees Celsius and we have been in minus figures most of today with a low of -6 predicted tomorrow.  Apparently they are really struggling to keep warm at night, going to bed wearing nightclothes, dressing gowns, wrapped in a duvet and then a blanket over the top with hot wheat bags and hot water bottles.  I bet they can't wait to get home and feel warm again!

So, do you think I'll get a 'snow day' tomorrow?  Will we wake up to drifts of snow and ice on windscreens?  Will Coco get a normal half hour long dog walk in the morning?  Watch this space ...

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Seven words I never expected to hear myself say

I just watched a brilliant curling competition.

Not a sentence I would ever have expected to utter.  And certainly not the one my husband expected me to say when he came downstairs this morning.  You see, this virus has reared its ugly head again and I'd woken early - unable to breathe and with such a dry mouth that I gave up on getting back to sleep in bed and went downstairs.  Did that good old British thing that is guaranteed to make you feel better (made a cup of tea), snuggled under a quilt on the sofa, and switched the tv on.  There's not much on tv early on a Sunday normally but it's Winter Olympics time and it's on one channel or another at any time of day.  I'm not a huge Olympics fan but when you're under the weather you find yourself watching all kinds of stuff you wouldn't normally watch - often because you simply don't have the energy to find the remote control to change channels.  

Well the women's curling competition was on and it was England v Sweden.  It was so close and it was all down to the last throw for each country.  Eve Muirhead took up her position, slid with the stone to the 'hogline' ... let go ... the stone started to travel along the ice ... and a red light shone to indicate a false throw.  Was it a malfunction in the stone?  Had she accidentally touched the handle after she'd let go?  Everyone looked shocked.  The official checked the stone over, walked to the start and slid it over the hogline.  Green lights.  Stone deemed to be functioning perfectly.  A no throw was decided, Sweden took their place and went on to win the last point. What a way to lose.  So sad.  When they showed the throw in slow motion, it seemed to flash green and then red, which may have meant a malfunction but we'll never know.  See what you think here.

Are you watching any of the Olympics?  I'm in total awe of what those skiers are able to achieve.  I've never been on a pair of skis in my life - even though we did have an artificial ski slope in the town in which I grew up - but I just know I wouldn't be very good at keeping upright.  And don't even get me started on the skeleton event.  Who on earth first decided it would be a good idea to launch themselves on a thin sledge and hurtle down an ice tunnel face down at 80 miles an hour?  How scary must that be?  

Well, time for another paracetamol, and time to return to being an armchair athlete again!

⛷ 🎿 ⛷

Sunday, 11 February 2018

February - a sentence a day

Lesley has shared a post on her blog here, detailing her month in the form of one sentence a day.  I have every good intention of joining in, but may have to break it down into smaller groups rather than 28 sentences at the end!  It makes me realise how much I waffle on, it's hard to get the day down in just one sentence.  Here's my February in sentences so far:


Day 1:Local social media is saturated by tales of traffic jams and the town being gridlocked - a quick look on the council's roadwork website may explain why.

Day 2: You know you're not looking your best when your daughter turns up unexpectedly with her hairdressing kit and offers to give you a cut and colour.

Day 3: Woke up with a sore throat and the chills which gives me the perfect excuse to have a day sewing and binge watching my box set of season 13 Greys Anatomy.
Day4:  Daughter and her family came for the afternoon so my husband (Tottenham supporter) and son in law (Liverpool supporter) could watch the Tottenham v Liverpool game together; a 2:2 result meant there were no awkward silences when the final whistle blew.

Day 5:  I discovered {what I probably knew already} that it is impossible to go to Hobbycraft and only come home with the one item I went in for.  😝

Day 6: One of my workmates has written a play which was being performed at our local theatre so we had a 'works outing' in the evening to support her. 👏

Day 7: Dinner out with some ex-workmates - amazing I got there really as the pub was in a tiny remote village with no street lights and I have no sense of direction (or satnav)!

Day 8:  I try to kid myself I'm reasonably fit but three dances in at my Fitsteps class, I realise I'm not.  

Day 9:  Four friends sharing a bottle or two of wine - next thing you know we've booked a weekend away to Bologna!

Day 10: I always have intentions to try something new when we go to our favourite local Turkish restaurant but as soon as the waitress comes to take our order I hear myself ordering what I always order - sigara borek to start and chicken shish for main - Yum!

Friday, 9 February 2018

She did it!

My friend's daughter is going to be representing the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon!

Well done SuRie!

Monday, 5 February 2018

Famous friends

Those who know me in 'real life' will know that whilst I don't live in a huge town, I live in an area which produces some pretty successful singers.  I'm sure even those who only know me through my blog will have heard of our most famous one - Sam Smith.

So I would like to introduce you today to someone who I have known since the day she was born; I have been friends with her mum since we met at NCT classes after the birth of our first children.  This young lady has been tipped for success since she was very young.  She has a true passion for music and dance, was the star pupil at the local dance school, and the lead voice in local choirs.  At the age of 16 she performed as Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables.  

Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music, she's been singing, performing and writing her own music but this year she has a new challenge in mind.  She's one of the potential contestants for Britain in Eurovision.  Now I'm not a huge Eurovision fan but I shall certainly be watching the BBC show on Wednesday where voting will begin for the public to choose our representative.  I think you can probably guess who will be getting my vote!  

But don't take my word for how beautiful her voice is, check it out in the following link:

And if you like what you hear, please vote for SuRie on Wednesday!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Countdown has begun

I did something on Monday that I haven't done for 26 years.  Hmm, whatever could that be?

Before you start reaching your own conclusions I'll tell you.  But if you are my line manager at work, please look away now.  

I booked a holiday - in term time.  Which means that now I have to resign! 😱. Because they give us 11 weeks holiday a year it means the school absolutely refuses to let you have any time off during term.  No swapping one week of the summer holidays for another one in the term.  The rules are there and there is no room for compromise.  Obviously when Rachel  and Jon started primary school we were restricted to school holidays and then I went to work at a school and even when both 'kids' were grown up, I was the reason why we couldn't book anything when it was cheaper and less crowded.  

So, I now have a deadline - we go at the beginning of July so I have to resign by beginning of June at the latest.  Eek!  It's all becoming more real.  We will be going to Lake Garda in Italy and whilst we have been there before and I have a belief that you shouldn't return to the same place twice, we are going to the other side of the lake to where we went last time.  We will be staying at Desenzano del Garda.  It looks lovely and gives Paul ample opportunity for practising that Italian again.  It will also give me ample opportunity to remember how lovely it is to drink prosecco with every meal, (yes, they even offer it at breakfast) and eat my own body weight in pasta.  Which means my body weight will probably have doubled by the time we get home.

After such a happy start to the week, it ended at a dreadful low point.  We had some tragically sad news about one of our students and whilst it was not unexpected, it still shook the whole school community to the core.  I think all staff went home and hugged their children a little tighter than normal that night.  I know it sounds trite but it really does make you realise that nothing can be taken for granted and we really should not put off anything that we want to do.  So here's even more reasons for resigning and having time to go places and do things I've been talking about for ages.  I just need to get the courage up to start that conversation with my line manager ... 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Here comes the weekend

One huge bonus of having friends over on a Friday night is that the house is all clean and tidy for the weekend.  We totally blitzed the housework when I got back from work at lunchtime so we have no chores to do all weekend - yay!  Our friends were originally coming over for drinks but a wave of laziness swept over me and I asked them if they would prefer to come over earlier and we'd get a takeaway instead.

No hesitation whatsoever - I guess they didn't fancy cooking either.  We are spoilt for choice with good takeaways here - we're not the only ones - one of our local restaurants is always posting Instagram pictures of when Rod Stewart goes in there.  So I suppose him and Penny don't always feel like cooking on a Friday night either.  Celebrities are no different from us ordinary folk!

The random quilt is taking shape

Since this photo was taken I've actually sewn the 5 squares for each row together so today I'm planning to sew the rows together and then I can decide on fabrics for the edging, backing and binding.  I sense a little time spent browsing fabric websites over the next day or two.

We'll be browsing travel websites too, as last night we planned a long weekend away with our friends - after a bottle or two of wine, we've decided on Bologna in Italy.  Watch this space!  Time for my husband to put his Italian lessons into practice.

I need to do some meal planning for the next few days - we have no visitors at all this weekend so we can have what we want - I'm planning on trying a dessert recipe that a workmate gave me for Raspberry and Almond Torte - it was delicious when she made it, I'm hoping I can match her high standards ... remind me again, was it me who said she had to eat more healthily in the New Year?  Oops!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Random thoughts

But actually, it would seem that I'm not so good at 'random' as I thought.  

I've been given the incentive to get the creative mojo back as the Art department at the school in which I work have introduced a Thursday afternoon 'Arty Party' for staff after the students have gone home at 3.40pm.  You can go along and do anything creative that you want, use their equipment and make things.  Anything you want.  So I've got to grips with my 'Tipsy Tumbler' quilt and used my time to square up the few blocks that I'd made.

This afternoon I threaded up my sewing machine and got to work making some more blocks so that I could start laying out the rows. 

In a random pattern.  Random.  Should be easy - right?  No pattern to follow, just lay them down.  

So why do I want to find a way of having one of each base colour in each row.  A straight one in the middle of one pointing to the left and one to the right.  It's taking everything I've got to not worry if I have two of the same colour next to each other.  (That's not going to happen, I know that for sure). I didn't realise that I was so bothered about things being equal.  But it's a good way to spend a dreary afternoon, I think it's going to be a very quick dog walk today, not that she cares if it's raining or not!

We have no plans for tonight which is kind of nice.  I feel like just cooking a nice meal, opening a bottle of wine and seeing if there's a film we can watch on the tv.  We went to the cinema on Thursday and saw 'Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri'.  I'd read great reviews about it but it wasn't as great as I was expecting - it reminded me of 'Fargo'.  I think I'd set my expectations too high!  However, we did see the trailer for the new Tom Hanks film with Meryl Streep - The Post and both agreed that we'd like to see that next time.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Relaxing can be very exhausting!

There's been a bit of a delay in writing a post but we've just returned from a long weekend relaxing in the middle of Woburn Forest.  It wasn't our first visit to a Centre Parcs resort but it had been a while since we last went - about 17 years I think!  It has also been a while since we had a family holiday, last time we had two teenagers with us, now those teenagers are both married.  It was absolutely wonderful to spend four days with them and their 'other halves' not to mention our grandson and the dog.

I think it's a good sign that we all came home exhausted - there were lots of walks

 Some of us got messy in the craft den

There was swimming for some, relaxing rides in a rubber ring going round the lazy river for others, and the braver ones amongst us went down the wild water rapids - best done at night apparently when the ride takes you out of the pool area into the cold open air and then bursting back inside again.  I offered to babysit while they did that one!

There was crazy golf

 More long walks with twinkly lights decorating the trees that lined the path back to the lodge

Football games to be watched on the big screen while playing pool in the Sports Bar (happy men in the party - my husband and son are Tottenham Hotspur supporters and my son in law supports Liverpool and both teams won over the weekend) and ten pin bowling to be played.

All in all a fabulously successful weekend, but we're going to need a few days to get over it!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Quick project

I've been itching to get back into sewing since Christmas and today was my first chance to dust off the sewing machine, cut up some fabric and make something.

But first I had to do a half day at work and then come home and dismantle Christmas!  It's always a bit sad to un-decorate the tree and pack everything up but it is kind of nice to give the carpet a good vacuum where the tree has been, put the furniture back where it belongs and dust up all the glitter that's fallen off cards and decorations.

I'm still waiting for the tumbler template to arrive for me to get going on my quilt but I came across a pattern for a quick tote bag here and I decided to give it a go.  It really did live up to it's description of being quick to make and here's the proof

I'm pleased with how it turned out and I think I will have a go at making it in a larger size.  Now we have to pay to be given a plastic bag in the shops I seem to be starting a collection of re-usable bags - although I am prone to leaving them either at home or in the car!  But this one is a perfect size for when you just have a few things and is easily made from a fat quarter of fabric.  If you have an hour to spare and a bit of fabric - why not give it a go too!

Our Art faculty at the school where I work is starting a new after school project too, an 'Arty Party' for staff to go and spend an hour after school finishes on a Thursday.  Any kind of creative project can be worked on and I think I'm going to join in when it starts.  Last time I did anything like that was when they did book binding lessons and it was really good fun.  I am sure I will be able to find something to take with me to work on!

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Starting off with good intentions

2017 was one heck of a year for us.  So much going on, and so many distractions.  If things go to plan, 2018 is going to see some changes.  I'm going to be 60 in March 😳 and I've said all along that I plan to give up work this year.  Clearly I need to decide when to actually go! I've worked at the school since 2001 and it will be very strange to leave but I honestly feel the time is right.  I only work part time so it will be less of a shock to the system than it would be if I worked 5 days a week.  Everyone keeps saying to me 'so when are you going to resign?' and I've been unable to actually choose a time.  But the weird thing is that I woke on New Year's Eve with a clear thought in my mind.  Something somewhere in the universe was telling me that I should go in May.  I can't explain how it was, but I woke up knowing that May half term is when I will leave.  Now I have that thought in my mind, I feel strangely confident that it's the right decision.  

So how will I fill my time?  I don't want to find myself just frittering my days away, I need some structure to my week and I am worried that I will miss learning new things and meeting new people.  Obviously we will continue to look after Leo one day a week but I want to get back into doing more creative things.

My son and daughter in law bought me a set of patchwork charm squares and a book on quilting for Christmas and that has spurred me into action! 

I thought it would be nice to make a quilt where the charm squares they bought me are the major focus and have found a fun quilt called 'Tipsy Tumblers' on the Missouri Quilt company channel on Youtube.  So I've ordered myself some background fabric and a tumbler template and can't wait to get the sewing machine out again.

The other thing that I fancy trying, and this is something I have never done before, is some kind of ceramic painting or pottery.  Again, the universe seemed to be reading my mind and when browsing Facebook the other day a sponsored advert came up for a local pottery class.  It's as if it were meant to be!

My next project is to find a location for a long weekend away with some friends to celebrate the BIG birthday.  We used to go away with them for a few days every year, quite often to a Christmas market somewhere in Europe but got out of the habit a couple of years ago.  They'll be on holiday for my actual birthday so we're going to postpone our celebration with them.  Two locations are currently on the consideration list - 1. Ghent in Belgium.  Which is easy to get to as we can get the Eurostar to Brussels and then an onward train to Ghent. and 2. Bologna in Italy.  Again, easy to get to as Stansted Airport is about 10 minutes drive from us and a couple of budget airlines fly to Bologna.  Two very different places, I wonder which one we'll choose - Belgian chocolate and beer versus pasta and prosecco ...