Saturday, 30 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, I hope everyone in the UK is enjoying this Spring weather (more snow!).
We'll be off on an Easter Egg hunt tomorrow at a friends house, I posted about this annual event last Easter,  here.
Sometimes the Egg Hunt is held in glorious sunshine with games after like British Bulldog or football and sometimes it's been blooming cold and we've huddled together with mugs of coffee; however if this weather continues we'll have our first snowy egg hunt - hopefully no white eggs! The eggs are so well hidden and sometimes unwrapped (and hidden in rabbit holes!)
 that I do wonder if some of the chocolate we find is left over from a previous year
 - health and safety have no place in this Easter Egg hunt! 
Hopefully this year they won't float some of the eggs in the river and encourage the children to jump in - it terrifies me!
I remember that we have had snow at Easter before in fact one year it snowed on the first cricket day of the season. The builder (then captain of the village side) took up his position on the wicket when the snow started; and it came down quite heavily. Picture several men, all in white, shivering on a field open to all the elements. After a few minutes the team decided this wasn't cricketing weather and left the pitch; all except the builder! He stood on the wicket watching what he considered a mutiny and shouted at them all to come back! The language wasn't repeatable but he stood there for some time, while everyone else warmed up in the pavilion. Such is the dedication of that man - although there is a history of insanity in his family.....
Anyway back to Easter, we had the usual rounds of events in Primary school, costing me a fortune! We took in chocolate eggs for the Easter raffle, then we purchased raffle tickets to try to win said eggs! We made an Easter bonnet for the competition and tried madly to win the "stars on the wall" race for end of term. Stars are given for good pieces of work and Little Miss is very competitive. She was pipped at the post last term so had worked feverishly this term doing extra homework and even taking in homemade biscuits for the teacher (some would say a bribe- I couldn't possibly comment!) Anyway this term she was again pipped at the post on the last day and came second, no tears though as second prize was chocolate and first was apparently "some rubbishy fashion design book" - girl after my own heart!
We made the bonnet and we were very pleased with ourselves - I would be lost without a stapler!

Whoever said less is more??
In other news this week I was lucky enough to have my face painted
the face paint makes me look like I've got wrinkles - which I haven't!
And I took a wander down into our village just as the sailing club seemed to have something going on. Lovely to watch for a few minutes while I enjoyed a take-away cappuccino on my own.
Just shows how blustery it was

We also had a feathered visitor to the garden, not unusual but I don't often have the camera handy. You will notice that the garden is a terrible mess, but this is the year we make a start..... apparently!
Gardening is a tricky subject in our house as the summers are so full of cricket and the grass grows to about a foot long as no one has any free time. Of course the cricket practice nets get tidied, swept and groomed to within an inch of their lives!!
Happy Easter everyone, hope it's full of chocolate (if that's your thing) but enjoy the long weekend whatever you may do.
I'll draw names out of the Easter hat tomorrow for the blog anniversary giveaway, it's going to be a book or two I think (I'm so disorganised it will be a surprise to me too). It's not too late to leave a comment if you want to be included and I'm happy to post to anywhere in the world - it's so nice to have met so many new friends!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Star spotting

I've said before that my knowledge of cricket is very sparse, despite attending village matches since I was 15! I say attending as usually my eyes are either shut or in a book, I almost never watch the match, I may appear to be watching but I've always had that ability to "zone out". And there's no telling what adventures I may be up to in my head!

However I thought my knowledge of "celebrity" was quite good, my head is full of Hello magazine moments - I may appear to be concentrating but more often than not my brain is in another world! Years ago I worked for the Civil Service and someone hung a Garfield poster above my desk saying something like "I'm in another world, but it's ok, they know me there!"

I think this is because I grew up as an only child (I do sometimes refer to my sister but she is technically my half sister and we grew up hundreds miles apart), My Mum worked full time and I spent most of my time with Grandparents. They were fabulous grandparents but quite elderly so I had fun times with my vivid imagination and lots of make-believe games and stories.

Anyway, a few years ago the we were told of a fundraising dinner being held to add funds to Norfolk Youth Cricket and we booked two tickets. I was so excited as this is the type of thing we never, ever do.
In fact it was only the second time I'd ever seen the builder in a dinner suit!
We arranged to stay over at a B & B nearby and arrived after lunch,
after a restful few minutes in our room the builder realised that the suit carrier he'd grabbed from the back of the wardrobe contained only a jacket!!
 He drove home and back at the speed of light to pick up his trousers and we eventually made our way to the dinner.

As there was wine matched to each course of the meal (included in the set price) and as I very rarely drink - one glass is likely see me laughing at my own jokes very loudly and then sliding off my chair very gracefully ( I think I do it gracefully); I decided to acclimatise myself and have a couple of glasses of wine each evening for a couple of weeks before the dinner. It did help although at one point during the meal I had 4 full glasses lined up on the table waiting for me!

Anyway the builder was excited as three professional cricketers were going to be there and they would do an after dinner speech and also answer questions. He explained that Alastair Cook would be the main speaker and he was likely to be the England Cricket team's next captain. (Which he is)

The boys had primed their Dad with lots of questions on how to make a career out of cricket, they would have loved to have been there themselves - I'm sure they thought it was wasted on their Mum!

 It wasn't a huge do and everyone was seated at smallish tables in the dining room. I loved the food and wine, and then they announced that the cricketers would make their way to the front of the room for speeches and the question and answer session. I had zoned out many times during the evening when table talk had turned to cricket but I thought I should pay attention to the speeches;
or at least look interested.
At that point the man on the table behind us and who had been sitting back to back with me all evening started to get up to leave. I nudged the builder and whispered (a drunken whisper probably equivalent to a bellow) "how rude, doesn't he know they're about to make the speeches?" to which he replied, with a withering look, " he does......, and he's Alastair Cook!"

Later in the evening everyone was mingling and we were able to have a chat with 2 of the cricketers, Alastair Cook and Will Jefferson. The builder explained that we had two very keen cricketing boys and asked for tips and hints, they were really lovely and took lots of time to ask about the boys. We also explained that number 2 son had recently acquired a new bat which he was in love with. In fact we said, he sleeps with it in his bed every night, "I imagine you both did that sort of thing too didn't you?" the builder laughed - to which they both replied, one after the other, with very blank and slightly bemused faces " no, I never did anything like that!".
An awkward silence followed!!

Spot the cricketer!
If you haven't already please leave a comment on the previous post for an anniversary giveaway, sadly it will be very slightly cricket related but don't let that put you off - it is a tenuous link!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

1st Anniversary Giveaway!

Today is the 1st anniversary of starting this blog, the anniversary of my 1st post - not much of a post I have to admit!
I had been reading lots of blogs on a regular basis for years and thought it might be a bit of fun to join in, I wanted to join the party! But I hadn't really grasped, how could I have, how much of a community you all are. I was warmly welcomed and hadn't expected to feel as excited as I did when I had my first comment - that was from Sarah who was so welcoming and has also stuck with me for the whole year! Sarah takes the most beautiful photographs, I always look forward to a new, picture full, post from her
I've not always been sure what to blog about; I've bounced between a hectic family life involving plenty of sport to house renovations, holidays, Christmas and birthdays. I'm not sure if anything I've written has ever been riveting but it's been lovely to meet so many new people all over the world who have become friends, albeit in the virtual world.
One of the nicest things I remember from the past year is that some people worried about us when we were on holiday and suffering a direct hit from the hurricane - I was really touched.
After starting to blog in secret (fear of being laughed at!) I did vaguely mention to my family whilst on that very holiday that I might start to blog (only 7 months after I had actually started), I've been careful not to say too much about it I don't want them to know everything I write about - I may want to moan about them!
So we're about to start on our Summer cricket schedule, fixtures are coming in left, right and centre from school, club and the County team - I'm already confused as I managed to write all of May's fixtures on the calendar for March!
Thank you for joining me and thank you for all the lovely comments that have been left for me during the year.
I really didn't think I'd do more than 1 or 2 posts before giving up but here we are and by way of celebrating this anniversary I'd like to host a giveaway - I always love to enter these so thought I'd do my own!
So please leave a comment and I'll draw all the names from a hat (or gingerbread man balaclava!) in a couple of weeks. I'm not entirely sure what I'm giving away yet (am I supposed to say what it is now??) but I'm thinking something booky - I know of 2 with a vague cricket connection so maybe that.  And maybe something local.....

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Dress up days

I'm a bit late with this post I know, World Book Day was last week, but it got me thinking about all the outfits I seem to have to put together. I've said before I'm not a very crafty person (not in the sticking and glueing sense of the word anyway!) but I have tried hard when the children have come home needing a costume for book day/valentine party/nativity play/themed party 
- usually at short notice.

I can have some great ideas but assembling said costume leaves me lacking a little something!

World book days in past years have seen me put together Mr Bump (only required a lot of bandages), a Twit, a pirate (complete with parrot stitched to the shoulder - thank you McDonald Happy Meal toys!) and many more.

Nativity plays have seen me staple a child into a shepherd outfit, with obligatory tea towel, a Victorian maid (prompting teacher to send a message home that she may be able to find something more suitable!) and a gymnast (in the nativity??!)

I have created a King & Queen of Hearts (with jam tarts) and cupid (son dressed in a sheet, too embarrassed to go to school!) for a Valentine disco.

We made a lion costume and strongman for a circus themed party - both boys stapled into costumes again!

But I feel we surpassed ourselves for this years World Book Day costume -
can you tell what it is yet?? (In a Rolf Harris stylee voice)
note the photo copied bank notes - this is illegal apparently!

No it's not The Little Gingerbread Man, nor a Gingerbread Zombie as some of the reception children shouted as they ran away screaming!
She wouldn't wear the balaclava that came with it (thank you ebay)
as she thought it looked scary -
hmmm only slightly less scary than the face paint!!
Guess again....
She is in fact Alan Taylor of course! Alan Taylor the biscuit billionaire from the Mister Gum books by Andy Stanton. And she was very happy that very-best-friend-George went as Mr Gum!
We're reading one of the books at the moment and son number 2 enjoyed it a couple of years ago too. It always makes me giggle as we had a slightly flashy Insurance salesman
called Alan Taylor some years ago.
The photo also puts me in mind of this character from The League of Gentlemen

All this talk of dressing up reminded me of a fancy dress outfit I hired many years ago, I went to the hire shop unsure what to get; it was the mid 1980's and I was sporting some big curly red hair at the time. The shop owner said he had the perfect costume for me; he knew it was the one for me when I walked through the door apparently. I was flattered when he held up the white and green "wench" dress, I quite liked it. But who is the character, who did I remind him of I asked. "Moll Flanders" he replied, "she was an old trollop...."

A vision in green satin, with matching eye shadow!

But Friday is Red Nose Day so it's dress up again at Primary School, luckily it's pirates and fairy day; Little Miss with her aversion to all things pink and glittery is going as a pirate (luckily we still have the costume) and her very-best-friend-George is going as a fairy!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Cricketer from Overseas 2013

Some of you may remember this post from the beginning of my blog, almost a year ago, about the arrival of our summer lodger. Well it's that time of year again and meetings have been held to discuss this years guest overseas player. Generally the emails flying about bypass me (even though I hold the family email account) as I may have a meltdown. Last years scene was not a pretty one and I hope I won't repeat it. So I've been a little apprehensive to say the least.

The garage/penthouse suite is full of junk, bags of cement, Christmas decs, bikes and more junk so is no where near habitable.

This weeks meeting advised all the players that the overseas cricketer for the 2013 season is on his way from New Zealand (which hopefully means I don't have to hunt down a halal butcher this year!), and as he's a high profile ex-international (apparently?) he requires more of a place to stay than a chilly outhouse.

Hooray, we have a year off - no rent free tenant to join our crickety house!

Husband has had 2 sleepless nights this week, "Are you worried about business" I asked, "is it finance that's keeping you awake?" - All the usual worries we have from week to week. But no, far from it.

He is apparently excited at the prospect of his sons bowling to an ex NZ wicket keeper. He demostrated how it may look, using the kitchen as a representation of the pitch. Me in the place of the batsman (I think I was meant to be the batsman) I had to stand still and imagine where the ball may land and picture the scene.

Then imagine the cheers when a member of the opposition is out, the score board will read " bowled number 1 son, caught NZ wicky" Apparently that's good...............

I'll have to try to contain my excitement and concentrate on something more important, like ironing!

At least this year if anyone asks what we have in the garage I won't have to say
" a strapping 22 year old young man from Australia/New Zealand/South Africa" and watch their faces blanch ever so slightly,  and back away from me nervously!

In other news Number 1 son turned 17 yesterday, but as it was a college day it wasn't the most exciting of days for him! He did get woken by myself and the builder doing our best (but somewhat squeaky) rendition of "Happy Birthday to you". Both of us wearing fluffy dressing gowns - not a pretty sight! This year he asked for a gym membership which if he uses as much as the racing road bike we bought him for his 16th  will cost roughly £100 per session!

And today my car is in the garage for repair, apparently turning the radio up to full volume hadn't actually cured the clunk/grind/squeak/scrape noise it was making.

So it's all happening here, hope everyone else is having a less expensive week!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A book review, or two

I've been meaning to do a book review for ages but other things seem to get in the way. I'm not sure if anyone is interested in my opinion but I know I love to read reviews on other blogs
and note down any recommended reads.
 I absolutely love reading and can get quite panicked if I have nothing on the go;
I often have two books on the go at the same time. The builder did complain when he saw me get four books out of my bag on last years holiday (he doesn't read)
but he didn't know I had two more in my suitcase!

Around 10 years ago I started a reading group with friends which has, over the years, changed a lot and only 2 of the original members remain, me being one of them. We usually have 10 members and we meet at each others houses once a month for 10 months of the year. (Always with lots of nibbles, cakes and wine!) It's roughly once a month but we have a longer break in the school summer holidays (August ish) due to family commitments and then over Christmas we have our annual "Do".
 At the Christmas meal we don't review November's book (that could be due to the quantities of wine ordered but I couldn't possibly confirm that rumour), we leave that until January and to avoid anyone feeling under pressure to read a set book over the Christmas break we have a lucky dip bag. Everyone has to buy a book up to the value of £7 and wrap it in brown paper and place it in the sack. We then all choose one, read out the blurb and try to guess who bought it. It's just a bit of fun and we have, over a long period of time, built up a library of lucky dip books which anyone is able to take at any time. We call our reading group "the support group" as over the years we've all had our troubles, they could be financial, house sales and moves, depression, problem children, problem husbands etc and sometimes we find the meeting is almost over and we haven't even started to discuss the book!

They're a great bunch of ladies, all very different and most with strong opinions - the makings of a good discussion group.

But I've gone of at a tangent.... back to our latest read...
I'd never heard of the author or the book.
I was going to review this after our meeting but the date keeps being postponed so you're just going to have my opinion!
I really enjoyed it, an easy read from the point of view of how it was written although not so easy given the content.
It's about a family who have to cope with the murder of their 15 year old son in 1980's Oregon. The circumstances of his death don't seem to be in any doubt and the book mainly deals with how the family, Mum, Dad and Sister, cope with the loss. Life obviously completely changes for all of them and the paths they take change from that day on. You get to see inside Mum's mind quite a lot and that can be upsetting.
However without wishing to spoil the story, the end is slightly unexpected
although certainly believable.
I really enjoyed the book, although enjoyed is probably not the right word. I know a couple of members of our group will have struggled to get through it just because of the subject matter.
But I can recommend it as a well written book that really makes you think.
And I've also just finished this
Which was my book from the Christmas lucky dip bag.
I'd not heard of it but it is apparently now a film, nor had I read any books by Douglas Kennedy.
It was a strange, dark tale based mainly in Paris. I quite enjoyed it although in places it was a bit gory, I don't usually mind a bit of gore! The story was quite odd and covered things I know very little about, however all of a sudden it felt like the author needed to end the story, maybe he was nearing his quota of pages for the novel? And it ended on a very weird note, something completely fantastical and impossible (as far as I'm concerned anyway).
And it spoilt the book for me, not one I'll be recommending.
It doesn't get the best of reviews on Amazon either so it's not just me! I'm not sure about watching the film, it may translate to film ok, so I'm not ruling it out completely.
Is a book review an interesting enough post do you think?
 It would be for me if I was the reader but what do you think?