Saturday, 28 December 2013


Spoiler alert, this post contains references to Father Christmas which aren't suitable for young ears!!
Well that went fast didn't it? I hope Christmas in your house was a good one,
 it was quite a quiet one for us this year;
 I've enjoyed it but it did feel a little odd. It was the first year in a long time where no one believed in the magic of Father Christmas, no magic snow foot prints down the hallway, no glittery reindeer food on the drive, no carrot and mince pie in the hearth - we did however have to stay up til the wee hours to hang the stockings on the ends of beds long after the kids were supposed to be asleep.
 The boys always share a room on Christmas eve and there was some muffled sniggering as I sneaked in at gone 1am!
We had finished the food shop on the Sunday and got a bit of baking done - I'm not sure why I pack the freezer with so many goodies as we seem to live on chocolate,
 salted peanuts and cold turkey for days!
The freezer remains stuffed with home baked goodies so it will last a few weeks yet. There'll be some good packed lunches for school and work anyway. 
As I've always baked and home cooked a lot, my kids consider it a great treat to be able to choose shop made things as Christmas treats, which is why tonight we have one of those huge chocolate gateaux, full of cream and sponge, from Tesco!
You know the ones, they are huge, say they'll serve 18 (?) and cost about £2.99
(and yes taste of cotton wool and foam)!
In a slight break from family tradition we spent part of Christmas eve at hospital; nothing to worry about but the builder was diagnosed with a slipped disc a couple of weeks ago and had an assessment on the 24th. It seems the problem has been there a while and will probably need surgery at some point, possibly in 2014, the most memorable line from the appointment was -
 "why Mr Builder you have the reflexes of an 18 year old!"
 no, he will not let me forget that in a hurry!!
After that visit we sneaked off to a café for a quiet coffee and cake, very delicious and such a treat - Mr Builder doesn't often find himself in the city centre shopping! And then home for the usual family Christmas Eve visit to Holt - described better last year! We stayed and wandered around looking at the pretty lit up market town, then our usual stop for coffee and something at Byfords - I had the soup this year as I'd had one lot of coffee and cake that day.
Hot chocolate - huge cup!
 And then we made our way home to prepare the turkey which had been delivered earlier.
I seem to cook a little less each year, now it's just the 5 of us and not a whole host of family members (long story, family rift) the turkey is a lot smaller and it's mainly me eating the veg.
Anyway we gorged the night away on crisps and other junk and the 3 kids eventually went to bed. The deal was that Little Miss would be first up and was allowed to shake the boys awake, hopefully not at dawn! As it turned out she overslept and number 2 son staggered in around 9am - wow what a lie in!
 They always congregate in our bed to open stockings, everyone has one, mine was a little limp this year (not much fun doing your own!) and contained an orange some chocolate coins and a deodorant (well it was all I could find in the bathroom at 1am)
The kids had a little more success!
 Holiday sunglasses!
Can't think who Father Christmas aimed these at!
One of these etched glass hearts in each stocking except mine - no one loves me!
We did have a nice time though and it seems like we were all just a little bit spoiled, me included! After the birthday-which-must-never-again-be-mentioned I was given my own laptop, in red (my favourite colour). Strange as it may seem this is my first gadget! I only use the home desk top and my little phone for internet use, my phone isn't great either (neither is my eyesight on a tiny screen) which explains some of the gobbledy gook comments I occasionally leave on blogs!

I haven't yet managed to get everything I use on it yet so it's still sitting in it's case, I tried but the many fast and helpful hands reaching over my shoulders were confusing me! But it does look lovely and I know I'll use it plenty.
I've done one of my favourite things everyday over Christmas and that is set the dining table with lovely cutlery, china and crystal glasses - I'm like a kid playing at tea parties! If the truth be told the Christmas Day dinner table was set a week before Christmas and had to be dusted!

We've had a few family members over although one nephew is spending Christmas in Australia (and will probably emigrate there in the not too distant future). I always look forward to the sister-in-law visit and her very random gifts! The builders family are a little eccentric and although I love his sister dearly we never know what to expect! She doesn't have a lot of cash and enters lots of competitions the prizes of which she is only to happy to share - this year I struck lucky with a perfume gift set by Issey Miyake, the only draw back was I had to pose for a photo receiving it!! Oh well I'll smell good for most of 2014 at least!

The gifts purchased for number 2 son were not very well thought out though, given my past descriptions can you see anything wrong with the following items which we, for some unknown reason, decided to buy him -
A Soda Stream (providing unlimited fizzy, e number additive laden drinks)
A set of darts
Some indoor fireworks

Oh well I'll have unlimited tonic for my gin at least!!

I hope you're having a great time however you choose to spend it, and if I'm not back in the next few days I'll wish you a very Happy New Year. I look forward to spending a little more time with all those "pen friends" I feel I've made over the past 12 months.
All the best

Friday, 20 December 2013

The school Christmas play and some unexpected players

Last week amongst other things my Dad stayed with us for the whole week which was really nice; he visited us alone which meant we had some quality time together. Of course while he was here he had to attend the Primary School Christmas production - and what a production it always is!

I mentioned last year how inspired it always is, not your usual Nativity scene for us!
We have a tiny village primary school which in the 16 and a half years I've been there with one child or another has doubled in size to approximately 50 pupils, that's the whole school!

 However they hire the village hall for their annual production, written by a superb classroom assistant, as so many extended family members and villagers wish to attend! This year they had to extend it to 2 performances - and we have a very big village hall too!

We were not allowed to know what this years production was, only to send in some khaki clothes! It's usually based loosely around a subject they've been studying and I correctly guessed it would be World War 2.

I managed to forget my camera typically, we do have the official school dvd though. I took a few on my phone but it's not a great phone and the pics are quite blurry.

However what I hadn't expected was the appearance of Doctor Who and his TARDIS (yes they had actually made a TARDIS) who transported them back to war times! They were chased by a Dalek too - possibly not authentic WWII but they'll never forget the other facts I'm sure!

(Not very clear photos taken on a not very good phone!)

Little Miss appeared in various guises, a school teacher with big Harry Potter glasses,
and also as a Land Girl.
There was a scene featuring all the women's jobs in the war from nurses to mechanics - they entered stage left with a lot of hip wiggling,  to a loud rendition of "Here Come The Girls...."

Every time they entered the TARDIS to travel somewhere else the entire cast performed the Time Warp! (I did start to wiggle along to this as I'm a huge Rocky Horror fan)

At one point they travelled back to a school during an air raid and lo and behold, for the first time in as long as I can remember our school Christmas production featured some very unexpected guests, wait for it,.... Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the manger - that's a first!
 They had travelled back to a wartime school where the children's Nativity was interrupted by bombing! It may not be politically correct but it is a fact that it's very rare for a true nativity to feature in our school Christmas production.

In previous years Little Miss has been a Victorian maid (learning point - Victorians) and a gymnast (learning point - not quite sure!). Number 2 son was in his primary years a Huntsman (Snow White and the Huntsman) and a member of the Home Guard (2nd World War).

At the end of the production there is always a hamper raffle, it's a really good hamper too with donations from all parents (nearly all of them anyway!). I'd already bought the obligatory tickets sent home in the book bag but thought this year I would try to guarantee a win, so bought some more! Sadly my name was not drawn and another Mum staggered home carrying the enormous basket; it's possible I didn't win due to the fact Little Miss had forgotten to hand in the ticket stubs and money!!

After the raffle they decided to auction off the gingerbread house made by Little Miss and a couple of classmates - so we came home weighed down with gingerbread but also with a lot less money!!

The whole event was tinged with a little sadness as I know that, after roughly 16 years I will not be attending any more Nativity/Christmas productions; well not with my own children taking part anyway. The end of an era I think.
I am hoping to do a bit of a Christmassy post now the decorations are up and the children are off school but I also know that time is running out and I still have a lot to do!
I will say a very big Happy Christmas from me to you,
just in case I don't make it back to the keyboard.
With Love,

Friday, 13 December 2013

"That Boy" strikes again!

You may remember a previous post in the summer when I described a few of the problems we have with a very argumentative middle child. Well a week or so again he really made me laugh with his latest protestations! Well I say laugh, it was a few hours later I laughed,
 at the time I had steam coming out of my ears!
We were discussing Biology at the tea table, now his brother got an A at GCSE and is now in his second year of A level and I studied Biology almost to A level and do take a keen interest in the body and it's ailments (some may call me a hypochondriac but I couldn't possibly comment!)
We were discussing the skeleton and he mentioned the bones in the body, in particular the leg. Now this is a boy who is never ever wrong and whilst he is super intelligent the rest of us (and you too most probably) are very, very stupid!
He told us he had to learn the names of the bones and was already fluent in leg - the tibia and fibia are the calf bones. Now we were quick to correct this as obviously his minor error was apparent - "tibia and fibula you surely mean?" Well stand back for the explosion!
No we were wrong and we could confirm this on Wikipedia and by emailing the Biology teacher - the bones in the calf had recently been re-named and we are all wrong and he is right!!
Now I'm not sure what you would do but I'm not good at backing down so a heated argument ensued - I stopped short of emailing the teacher for fear of making myself look stupid!
 I asked The Builder why we have such a difficult and pig headed child who never thinks he's wrong - his response was
 "what do you expect when he has 2 parents who never think they're wrong!"
 He can't possibly mean me......
Anyway the second instance which happened this week really did make me giggle and I didn't argue too much! We were discussing the film Nativity 2, Danger in the Manger starring David Tennant. It was at the cinema last Christmas and Little Miss and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon once school had broken up watching this deliciously far fetched festive treat.
I mentioned that it was out on dvd and I'd love to see it again this Christmas. Now the film is called Nativity ", I'm just repeating that as the clue is in the name. Number 2 son argued that it couldn't possibly be on dvd yet as it had only been at the cinema 6 months ago -
 "No" I replied, "obviously it was out at Christmas, it's called Nativity, about the nativity,
 you know Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus?"
But apparently not, according to the oracle (aka number 2) The film NATIVITY 2 was released in June......... well what can you say to that??

Sunday, 8 December 2013

What's happening in our neck of the woods.

The East Coast has taken a bit of a battering this past week, we haven't suffered here apart from a few things blown over in the garden. My boss at work had his neighbours shed picked up by a huge gust which then flew into his garden smashing the (brand new) fence and landing on the rabbit hutch - the rabbit was unhurt luckily!

The pictures on the news of the huge waves and the resulting flooding are terrifying though.
These are pictures taken in Cromer, the pier has almost disappeared under the waves!

 The resulting devastation
Photos from the Daily Mail website
Houses have been taken by the sea in some areas and many people were evacuated into safe schools and community buildings.
 I can't imagine how awful that must have been and how frightening.
But onto other things, our trip to the theatre in the last post was "interesting", quite an odd play with very little to do with cricket. Only 2 actors took on all the characters and exited the stage only to return wearing a different coat and hat to play the next part - quite confusing! We had driven a 50 mile round trip to drop all the children at their respective sleepovers (eldest was left in the city centre with a friend to get a bus to his destination -
not a great idea when you have a brain the size of a pea!).
After a busy week at work where the builder had worn himself to a frazzle he proceeded to nod off several times during the performance which was over 2 1/2 hours long. I nudged him frequently as I had visions of him falling over the seat in front and down onto the stage! The seating has an unusual arrangement on benches lining the barn whilst the performance is in the centre area.
The play itself revolved around 2 couples having affairs with each other and the resulting fallout!
However we would go again as it was a very atmospheric theatre!
Number 1 son appeared home the next day with tales of a broken down bus, an extortionate taxi fare, no credit on his pay-as-you-go mobile phone and no charge on his friends phone! An hours walk as they hadn't got the address of the friend they were due to visit..... a huge learning experience I feel!
The builder is away this weekend with friends on a music weekend - well I say music but have a feeling this will be dulled by quantities of alcohol!
I have been a Billy-no-mates and attended my works Christmas do without a plus one!
And last night I had a long awaited trip to the Theatre Royal with friends to see
 Jason Donovan in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Oh and what a night it was, one of the best shows I've seen in a long time! We all loved it, the costumes, the music (proper sing-along) and the whole show and cast were superb. Sadly although we had booked it months ago we only managed  seats upstairs near the back so next time (and surely there will be a next time) we will be front row!
Have you seen it?
Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, it was as camp as can be, but we loved every moment.
All has been trimmed up at home and there is an abundance of twinkly lights every where, as the builder is away I decided I could cope with tree purchasing etc, it may be wonky and could fall down at any moment but no one better complain! We just have a few outdoor lights still to go up but as all our ladders appear to be on other jobs (never any useful tools at home! and I include the Builder in that description) - the kids declined my suggestion that we pile some chairs on boxes and they stand on each others shoulders to reach the roof.....
My Dad arrives tomorrow for his annual visit (he didn't make it last year so this is the 1st time in 2 years he's been here) He'll arrive mid school Christmas activities so will have to be prepared to eat on the run and attend a carol service, ballet and possibly gymnastics!
Oh well it'll be a busy week! Have a good one yourselves - I am reading a few blogs but as it's usually on my phone I'm struggling to comment, and if I do manage a comment the predictive text usually makes it gobbldy gook!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Do they mean us?

Time is flying at the moment and although I have written several posts in my head they never seem to make it onto the keyboard.
But I thought you may enjoy a giggle at our expense!
Sunday is the builder's birthday and we received a call from his sister this week to say she'd booked us an evening out; and it's tonight.
We have tickets waiting at the box office of a small local theatre, she thought the play which is on at the moment suited us perfectly.......follow the link

A journey through cricket/marital discontent???? Does she mean us?!!!
After delivering various kids to various places we are looking forward to a nice evening out, and all 3 of the children are sleeping out so BONUS!!!!!
Have a great weekend.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Ooh where to start?

Hello, I've got behind again! Where exactly has November gone? I was worrying this week as there seems to be a lot of month left at the end of my money! But then I was reminded that it's pretty much the end of the month, how on earth did that happen?

There is so much to catch up on, I've missed reading all the blogs I follow and definitely haven't found time to blog hop around and discover any new ones. I had so much I wanted to blog about but it's old news now really.

I'll do a recap - for my own benefit as much as anything - I seem to have a very foggy brain these days!

Firstly I mentioned how nervous I was about doing the talk for the local Rotary Club but never said how it went. I think it was ok, the feedback was fine afterwards but it could have been out of sympathy as I started my speech with a lot of " I've never done this before...." "Please bear with me..." "I'm no expert on the subject..."
Anyway they were a friendly bunch and only teased me once when I pointed out Gambia on a map of Africa. As it's so small someone was surprised and said "Really?" not really meaning to question me but due to my lack of confidence I then became very unsure and stumbled along muttering "Well I think that's where it is....!" Obviously I DO know where the country I was booked to talk about  is but I think as soon as any questions were asked I went into frightened rabbit mode! I don't think I'll be volunteering to do it again though, despite the free meal!

I also took myself off on a trip to Exeter in Devon to visit my Gran. I did her a disservice in the previous post; she's 93 not 94! I had a hellish trip due to problems on the M25. I'd been told to avoid it but I think I stuck my fingers in my ears and hoped for the best. Sadly the best did not happen! As I approached the M25 lots of flashing signs told me it was closed for a stretch, after sitting in traffic for a while I cleverly asked the SatNav to re-route me avoiding the M25! What I didn't realise was that as I was so close to London it re-routed me right through the middle of the city! Terrified does not come near, that and the need for the loo added to my discomfort! If I could have ditched the car and run off into the distance I would have done, as it was my position in the middle lane on the extremely busy north circular made a getaway difficult!

I eventually walked through Gran's door after driving (or sitting in traffic) 9 hours later. Never let it be said that I was defeated by a simple 6 hour journey!!

Gran lives in a little terrace up a steep hill, no wonder she's kept so fit! The house hasn't changed a great deal since she bought it nearly 70 years ago!

It was a nice visit but sad in some ways as Gran isn't as sprightly as she was, she was a little forgetful and not as able to walk as she was. That may sound obvious but in her late 80's she could walk for miles and wear me out! We managed a couple of trips to see the sea and a couple of meals - despite losing ourselves trying to get from her house to the local pub/restaurant (too much chatter may have been to blame, I couldn't possibly say).

A trip to Exmouth where we admired the view from a little café.
You can just see Gran in the café window
I also managed to cut Gran's hair, not exactly a re-style but I did my best. In her younger days she owned a hairdressing salon and Grandad owned the barber's next door. After he died she ran both for a while before retiring.
When I first left school I trained as a beauty therapist and somewhere along the way she had confused the two. She asked if I'd give her a trim and I did explain that I wasn't a hairdresser and could take her to a salon but no she was insistent I did it. Several times she laughed and said
 I probably didn't have many clients these days did I?
Erm,  that would be none!
I ended up agreeing that I was in fact a hairdresser as I didn't want to correct her any more! I did my best but was a little stumped when she asked for a layered bob! I just used a ruler and cut straight across the back - that's about right isn't it?? 
It was over far too quickly and I was sad to leave her all alone, no family live anywhere near so it's not often she has a guest to stay. She does have friends though and she tries to get out and about.
Little Miss also had a gymnastics competition a couple of weeks back where she won a gold medal for her floor routine. That takes us through to a regional competition on Sunday. We're very proud of her but the 90 minute drive for a 3 minute routine isn't something I'm looking forward to but hey ho, grin and bear it!!
I have been without internet for nearly a week due to a new suppliers incompetence (boy did I lose my temper!) and then our email account was hacked for the second time this year! This time I was recommending all my contacts try a weight loss supplement, a little better than my letter begging for money I suppose! A couple of slightly larger friends took offence at this most recent mail though!! As if I'd really send that!
I will try to catch up with everyone's blogs once again over the weekend, I'm missing it!
Have a great weekend, try to stay warm if you're in the UK.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Sunshine Award

A little while ago the lovely Tammy over at My Journey nominated me for the Sunshine Award.
The sunshine award is an award given to those who inspire us
and bring sunshine into our lives.
I was really touched as I've never had anything like this before, the idea is to answer 10 of Tammy's questions and then set 10 of your own and nominate fellow bloggers. I'm not sure that I ever inspire anyone but I hope I may have made you smile from time to time!
Tammy's questions, and my answers are here, it's taken me a while to think about them and then several days weeks to actually write it all down!
1) Why do you blog?
I think it's because I used to read so many blogs and found lots of people I thought I'd really get on well with, and I wanted to join in! It seemed a bit like having a pen friend abroad in school days, exciting to find out what they'd been up to. I feel I've made friends, albeit virtually, with lots of new people all over the world - I'd never have met them without blogland.
2) Why do you follow the blogs you follow?
Probably for the reasons above, people I think I'd get on well with in real life, people who make me laugh and sometimes inspire me. I seem to be drawn to people who write about themselves and their family life.
3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a tricky one as the goalposts constantly move! I'll be 53 in 5 years time and in the dim and distant past we thought we'd be retired to "a place in the sun" by then; however life kind of got in the way. Children came along, all those years ago we thought we wouldn't have any, then maybe just one small one - heaven knows where the other two came from! So in 5 years time I expect to be still here with probably only a 15 year old at home, an 18 year old on his way to Uni (maybe?) and a 22 year old doing something that makes him happy, I hope!

4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Maybe back on track with the original plan? Living part of the year in sunnier climes and hopefully both of us retired. I hope the children are settled and happy, it's such a worry about where they'll end up and what they'll do.

5) If you could relive one day would you?
I don't really have any regrets, well not major ones anyway! I would have liked to have had more fun as a teenager, I was very sensible and cautious! I wish I'd have enjoyed my babies more, I was so incompetent and unconfident as a new mother I struggled to enjoy it. I'd also like to see my maternal grandparents one more time too, and introduce them to the great-grandchildren they never met.

6) What thoughts pop up when I say America?
I found this the hardest to answer. One word that popped up first though was "patriotic" something we're not so big on over here in the UK.

7) City/Country/Mountains/Beach, where do you prefer to live?
Another tough one, my first thought was beach, but I'm thinking of a beach somewhere sunny. I don't like to be cold. However where I live now I have the best of 2 worlds, maybe even 3, we live in the countryside, near famous rivers and quaint little English villages but we're only around 7 miles from the beach, and a pretty one at that. We're not far from the City of Norwich either, with it's lovely cathedrals and university - "a fine city" If I had to choose one place though it would probably be a beach front cottage on a sunny shore somewhere.

8) Do you have a bucket list?
No not really, other than to live in a beach front cottage...... you get the idea!
I would have liked to have travelled more and hope to do a lot of it in the future, there are so many places to see.

9) If you could do any job what would it be?
This I really can't answer, I have no idea at all! Can I be a professional "lady who lunches"? That sounds so shallow! I guess I would have liked to have done a job that was more worthwhile, and really "made a difference".

10) What is your most favourite way to relax?
Well basically I'm lazy, I like to lie down and read, maybe read in a hot bath (I do that every night - not so relaxing when there are two boys fighting outside the door). I like to relax (with a book) on holiday, or if money is no restriction I'd have a weekly massage!

So that's a bit about me, I'm basically lazy at heart (and I moan about my lazy 17 year old!!, if only he knew) There are no very deep answers but hopefully I don't seem too shallow, maybe I am??

Now for my questions, and my nominees. However I do like to read these lists but I do appreciate how long they can take so please feel free to add yourself to the list of bloggers taking part or remove yourself if it's you'd rather not take part. Please let me know if you add yourself and join in, I'm nosy like that!

My questions for you are....

1) Where do you call home? Is it where you live now, where you once lived or a place you would like to call home in the future?

2) What did you want to be "when you grew up" or are you not grown up yet?

3) Do you have a secret talent or a party piece?

4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? ( a copied question from Tammy)

5) Do you have a "claim to fame"?

6) Any regrets, however small?

7) Is there a band or singer you wish you'd had the chance to see live? Or may see in the future? Or is live music not for you?

8) School, loved it or hated it? Or should have paid more attention at the time?!

9) Favourite season? And tell me what that season is like if you're not in the UK.

10) Did you really have the time to answer all those questions, do you have time on your hands or are you up to your neck?

And I'm sending the sunshine award to the following, who's blogs I've followed for a while. As I said feel free to pass if you are a snowed under type of gal!

Justine at Down to Earth with a Bump
Sarah at Down by the Sea
Jody at About Last Weekend
Penny at The Hen House
Mel at Coal Valley View
Lisa at Jumble and Jelly
Curry Queen at Every Silver Lining

The list isn't really complete, there are so many people I follow and would like to know more about, however these are a few that sprung to mind first, there are many others I'm sure!

I will be back soon to do a bit of a catch up post, there are so many things I had intended to mention, work, again, my trip to see Gran, the fundraiser for Gambia and what the kids are up to;
I'll be back soon, have a brilliant weekend whatever you're doing.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

At Least I'm Well Preserved!

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago but didn't have chance to finish it, I'm still struggling to find time to blog; I am trying to keep up to date with reading everyone else's blogs though - I mean everyone that I follow, not absolutely everyone's on the net!!

I'm still working a lot more hours and worrying about the job for all the hours I'm not actually in the office too. The extra pay will be good though so that's keeping ,me focussed! I know the Builder feels very under pressure to be the breadwinner and as he gets older the job seems to get a lot harder, he's so full of aches and pains these days - a result of many years manual hard work and playing sport even harder!
 I did find a little time for some Autumn preserving - I love making jam and chutneys, especially as the days are getting cold and wet outside. My lovely sister in law bought me all the preserving equipment for my birthday some years ago; as I've explained before my birthdays are notoriously bad! And that year was no exception, I'd arrived home alone after a shopping trip to find my sis in law had let herself into our house (we're so very burglar proof!!) while I was out and had left spread all over the kitchen table everything I would need to make jams and preserves! It was one of the best presents I've ever had and such a lovely surprise - I love my sis in law dearly but she can be as random as my husband, gifts can range from something quite odd which she'd previously won in a competition to a meal for two, babysitter included, at a lovely restaurant.
A lady at work had offered me some home grown, very sour, grapes for jam, I happily accepted the offer and she brought them into work - however there were a few more than I'd expected!
There were two of these tubs!
This year on a wet and windy Sunday I decided it was time to make and put away some chutney for Christmas, out came the books, out came the pan and I decided on some Apple and walnut chutney - mainly for the Builder as I can't bear nuts of any kind. And also time to do something with the 2 tons of grapes which were starting to look a little sad.
First I picked the grapes from the stalks, weighed them and bubbled them up in my pan with some sugar; they were very "tart" grapes.
 They started to turn an amber colour which is so attractive.
Then unfortunately I had to push the gloopy liquid through a sieve as there were lots of pips. I'm sure there must be a proper gadget for this job, sadly not a gadget I own.

Then it was time to pot it into warm jars, I love this bit - I come over all housewifey
and feel productive!

I love them on the windowsill with the sun shining through, the finished jam is a lovely colour
 and the taste is a little like marmalade.
The chutney was finished too (complaints from the kids that the kitchen and in fact
the whole house smells "disgusting"!)
At the same time a little chef was at work on the other side of the kitchen.

It was as I was clearing everything away that I came across all the jam and chutney I made this time last year (and some from the year before)!!
I should add that although I love to make it not really anyone in the house like to eat it!!
Oh well, the charity fair is next week, we'll have to have a preserves stall!
"See" you all soon, and Tammy I'm still working on those questions!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Favourite Corners of My Home

Happy Halloween, I hope you've had a fun day whatever you may think of celebrating Halloween - it's not everyone's cup of tea I know.
I thought I'd do a bit of a "filling in time" post as I don't have much time just now. And favourite corners of my home was a series of posts I used to love when I first started to follow a few blogs, a long time before I had my own, they appeal to my nosy streak! I haven't seen any of these posts in ages, maybe I'm just missing them!
Thank you for all the supportive comments about work, I very much appreciated your kind words.. Last week was horrific, I think I've turned into my Grandma (the builder always said I would) as I try very hard to find things to worry about! I made so many mistakes last week and the implications were not great but I think by Tuesday this week they were all put right, at least I hope they were! I took half the week off as I hadn't spent any time at home or with the kids, I'd also panicked so much I became very disorganised and therefore by Friday the amount of oven chips we'd had for tea was becoming ridiculous!
So I'm taking myself on a little trip tomorrow, to spend a few days with Gran in Exeter, you may remember my very sprightly 94 year old Gran from a previous post. She's still very lively but not up to flying to Norwich any more to visit us, it's tricky finding the time to go to Devon as it's probably going to be a 6 hour drive so I have to stay over. I'm thinking I'll drive home Monday, having spent Saturday & Sunday with her - chatting until I lose my voice in all probability!
Anyway back to the corners of my home - it was fun taking the photo's and made me realise, despite all my moaning to the builder, there are bits of my home I quite like! Don't tell him I said that though 'cos I'm hoping we finish building it sometime soon - it's taken 20 years up to now and we've not finished it yet!

Three wicker hearts, a small heart made of cranberries and a tiny heart given to me by a friend which says " we deserve the best of everything, and then a little extra". And just seen on the left are the sugar flowers which were on the top of our wedding cake!
A sign which hangs near the back door, just to remind us!

A picture I brought back from Austria when I was about 14, again just to remind us!

A small group of some of my unusual bottles dug up from the garden, and a sign saying our home is full  of hopes and dreams. Obviously we didn't dig up the full beer bottles, shame!

A cartoon painting bought from a fair many years ago, of a cricketer.
I love these photos of the kids taken on the beach in winter a couple of years ago,
 I framed them for the Builder for his birthday.

A poster advertising our house for sale in 1874, luckily it came with its own faggot shed!!
A pretty corner of Little Miss's room, although she now hates all things pink!

And finally a bucket of balls, all manner of balls and cricket equipment. Collected from all around the house (number 2 son's bed quite often) and garden, and yes I'm the only one who gathers them together in the bucket!
On a completely different note, I've been nominated for a Sunshine Award by
 lovely Tammy at My Journey. The first thing I've ever been nominated for and it's quite exciting!
 I will give her questions some thought and think up some of my own and then post them,
it may be a little while!
Hope you've had a good week and have a great weekend.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Recapturing My Youth

Just to clarify, the title of this post is Recapturing MY Youth, not Capturing A Youth
 as a friend on facebook first thought!
I'm struggling to post anything and haven't managed to keep track of anyone else's blogs just lately, I've had a hellish couple of weeks at work and am completely done in. I was asked to train for a slightly different job a few weeks back to help out the lady who does this particular job in my office. Not a job I had any clue how to do but thought that, now the kids are getting older, I should work a bit more and hopefully earn a bit more.
Up to then I was doing very few hours a week and getting paid roughly 3 peanuts for it!
So I agreed to take on 2 little clients under the guidance of the existing lady.... only to find after a couple of weeks she needed to go on sick leave for a couple of months and her whole job was divided between me, a manager and another trainee! Added to that the following week my boss bought out a small local business and gained me 10 new clients. I still have no clue what I'm doing and have made more cock-up's than I dare admit to! I'm waking up in the night with near panic attacks wondering if I "ticked that box" or was the answer "5 or 7". Anyway the upshot is I feel so incompetent right now I can barely think straight; not helped by the fact that the other trainee lady seems to grasp it all after only 2 weeks of doing the job! I'd like to say it's an age thing but we're the same age!
Anyway last night was a much needed night off as I had 2 tickets for a concert. I love live music (the builder not so much) but have huge regrets of not seeing many bands when I was a teenager. Lots of reasons for that, I wasn't usually allowed to go although I had a very inconsistent Mum so there was a period of a few months when I saw lots of bands at the local university. I also never had any money and no like minded friends to go with, crippling shyness meant I wouldn't go alone.
As I've got older I've tried to make a point of seeing as many concerts as I can, of the bands I like - old and new. I've travelled a few miles occasionally - like seeing The Scissor Sisters in Brighton (where else) and U2 in Dublin (a highlight).
Last year I noticed a new band I really like had a gig nearby, an outdoor venue in the forest. I knew number 1 son liked them so the conversation went like this -

"Number 1 you like band A, don't you?"
"Yes I do Mum, very much"
"They're playing nearby, in the Summer"
"Oh that's great, I'd love to see them"
"I'm booking tickets, would you like one?"
"Yes please Mum, who's going?"
"Me and possibly Dad, do you want to come?"

It was a fab evening and The Builder did come with me although we weren't always together as I squeezed to the front and he hung around at the back. It prompted a classic text from me to Number 1 son saying simply "Mum's in the mosh pit!" to which the reply came
"How can that even be possible?"
I've tried to see some of the bands I missed the first time around, if they're still together and still alive! They always look so old (unlike myself!) and the audience provide endless entertainment too, slightly elderly men trying to create a Mohican with a lot less hair than they used to have!
But last night The Builder and I had tickets to relive our youth, just for one evening. It took a bit of juggling as the boys were at indoor cricket and we had no babysitter for Little Miss, but after using 2 cars, driving several miles and various drop offs we managed to get to the university in time to see The Boomtown Rats! Oh such a great evening, I really relaxed and shouted, and jumped around, legs not quite managing to pogo but I bounced a little!
And Bob Geldof did an excellent job despite looking like Mick Jagger's elderly Grandad in his (fake) snakeskin suit! And I for one thought I was 18 again, just for a moment when they played Rat Trap.
It was fun though, and it's surprising how many words I can remember from the late 1970's. Apparently they last gigged there 30 years ago - that's the gig I missed!
So after such a good start I'm hoping for a weekend filled with a bit less panic about work, I will endeavour to catch up on reading blogs as soon as possible.
 Have a great weekend!

Monday, 14 October 2013

What a difference a week makes!

Well I think Autumn has definitely arrived this week, what's it been like for you? On the East coast of England we've taken a bit of a battering this week. And the fires have been lit and blankets tucked around knees in the evening.

Last weekend however it was Summer again. Little Miss had her Big Show at the theatre and we had to deliver her to the stage door at 10am and collect her at 9.30pm; a really long day especially for the little dancers - some were as young as 3.

We'd agreed that Little Miss and I would be dropped off in Norwich for 10am and then I'd hang around the city (read that as grab several coffees and a newspaper) while the others went home for a few hours.

I'm always envious when I see that friends have enjoyed a lazy day drinking coffee and generally watching the world go by in a beautiful city like Cambridge, Bath or Chester. I'd love to spend a day in any of those places but sometimes we just don't have time to appreciate the place we live in. And I have to say after living here for around 35 years I had never really realised what a beautiful city Norwich is. I did notice a few new (to me) places when we did our gorilla hunt in the Summer.

Sorry to repeat some of the photos but I took so much more notice of the city as
we strolled around that day. All the photos above are in the city centre.

 And I always knew the Norwich Cathedrals (there are 2 in the city centre) were very picturesque however I never realised what a relaxed and happening place it could be.

After I dropped Little Miss off I considered doing some Christmas shopping but soon realised I was likely to be carrying the bags for several hours, so instead decided to enjoy a coffee and breakfast pastry. I watched the city come to life as the shoppers arrived, the pavement cafes filled up with people enjoying the sunshine, the Sunday papers and good coffee. I read my book (this months reading group choice - not enjoying it and about to give up on it!), drank 3 coffees and enjoyed the view, unfortunately I had great ideas of taking some artistic photos but
a) I'm not at all artistic and b) I forgot!
Theatre Royal, Norwich

City Hall

These are all I managed but it was a beautiful day to enjoy a quiet coffee outside knowing I didn't have to dash of anywhere, in fact I couldn't dash off anywhere!
It really is a vibrant city and had quite a different feel on a Sunday when people were enjoying the sun and not running in and out of shops in their lunchbreak.
Although we had tickets for the evening performance of the show I bought a cheap matinee ticket just for myself, and watched the 2.30pm show from upstairs in my "restricted view" seat. I was in awe of anyone daring to get up on that stage!

The show itself was themed on famous musicals and we saw the dancers performing to songs from Cabaret, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Moulin Rouge, 101 Dalmatians and Shrek to name just a few. Performing at The Theatre Royal is a big deal as far as I'm concerned but the little dancers were just perfect and it was a stunning show! The group who got the biggest cheer (and the biggest aaahhhh!) were the tiny dalmatians, all aged around 3, wagging their tails and trooping onto the stage one behind the other.
Little Miss performed in 2 dances both from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I was so proud as she led her troop on and cartwheeled across the stage. She only attends a local ballet school in the village church hall but so much work went into this production I'm overwhelmed and very grateful she had the opportunity.

Taking their bow, in an outfit I'd give my eye teeth to wear
grabbing a pizza between performances, in full make up, as you do!

We finished last weekend very tired but on a high; sadly this weekend looked more like winter! Gale force wind did this to the garden...
Windfall apples everywhere!

 The trampoline has been up for nearly 10 years but it seems a big gust took it up in the air, the legs fell off (surprising as I thought they were fixed together with rust!) and it landed back down - luckily undamaged - still several more years in it yet.
The guinea pig house was flattened too although luckily they had been decamped to their indoor accommodation the night before.

The view from indoors all weekend was like this...
 Not a very good photo but it was dark and wet all day, really miserable! And to think last Sunday I was enjoying the sunshine at a pavement café!

I hope you're all snuggled up away from the cold, I think most of the country has had a wet and windy weekend.
And thank you to everyone for the advice on my little talk to the Rotary Club, it's tonight! Apparently only about 12 people (I'm such a wimp!) With the aid of a teenage boy I have a small powerpoint presentation of photos to take, I hope someone knows what to do with the memory stick when I get there! (no suggestions please!)
Have a great week wherever you are.