Thursday, 30 May 2013

What's in a name?

I thought of writing a post about names some weeks ago, in fact it was slightly prompted by the 100th post giveaway I did, which was won by Justine over at Down to Earth With a Bump.

After the giveaway I emailed her for an address and my email was promptly dumped into her Spam folder! I wonder why?

Well the thing I'd forgotten and the thing I'm unable to change given my very limited computer knowledge is the lead name of our email address. We only have one main family email, I monitor it all as my husband, the builder, has a much more limited (if that's even possible) knowledge interest than me. However when the email address was initially set up it seems to have been given my husband's full name, in capital letters (ie shouting!) and that name is not the best!
 He is the youngest of quite a few children and his Mum was best described as "alternative" or possibly "eccentric"! His brothers and sisters have reasonably normal names for that era,
Peter, Susan types of names.
Well apart from one of the girls, who seemingly has 2 very nice Christian names, until you hear the full story. The midwife suggested to my Mother in Law that she should consider maybe naming her new daughter after the month she was born in, June? My Mum in Law was not one to conform and didn't like to be told what to do at any time of her life so rejected this suggestion. However after giving it some thought she decided it wasn't a bad idea and gave her the middle name of May, she didn't like June!! So she is named after the month she wasn't born in!

However the youngest got a raw deal and ended up with two Christian names best suited to an old, bearded, wrinkled man! (he is turning into a wrinkled old man but that's not really the point!)

I really need to change our email moniker to something more suited (and less laughable) but despite trying, I can't!

So Justine had initially thought that my email was from someone "trying to sell her diamonds from Nairobi" or advising of the unclaimed millions held in a Hong Kong bank account!

At the time of the giveaway I did mention to the family who are now slightly aware I've been writing a blog, that I was sending a parcel to a reader; they immediately warned me not to do so! You should never contact strangers on the internet (my own words echoing there), "Stranger Danger" came the cry from my youngest!

However we eventually got over that and the giveaway gifts were duly posted. I did explain to Justine that I was in fact a lady somewhere in middle age and not a seedy old man with an old mans name; I trust she believed me - did you Justine?

Anyway it did get me thinking about names and how we choose them, all the thought that goes into finding the right name for your children, such a responsibility.
 How did you manage to get it right; or maybe you didn't get it right?
I distinctly remember the discussions with our eldest, I preferred the slightly more unusual names, the builder quite the opposite. However we went with my choice (quite rightly!) but only after he had said several times, in the hospital ward, and very loudly, in his best BBC TV presenters voice
"And now, walking out to the wicket at Lord's, to save the day for England is ........"
 As long as it sounded ok we could go with my choice!
For his middle name we were a bit stumped (he he Stumped, couldn't resist!) so, just for a giggle, we decided to ask the builders Mum what she thought. As I've said this choice wasn't to be taken too seriously. But she came up with a perfect name, a solid, old English name but still current; and it also happened to be the middle name of my darling Grandad.
 My Grandad never got to see me married or to meet my children but he was the mainstay of my childhood and is never far from my thoughts.
Anyway the two other children's names came more easily, especially our daughters which had been in the back of my mind for years.
However it has been pointed out that all of our children are named after something sporty, the eldest a Formula 1 racing team (2 racing teams actually), number 2 son is a boxer and Little Miss is after a cricket team (a country in reality).
I'd love to hear any of your name related stories......
ps  My camera remains lost so sadly no up to date photos, I considering getting a new one when payday arrives.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Renovation of a cottage kitchen.... twice!

I thought I'd do another renovation post, for two reasons really. One is that it's been quite an interesting journey we've been on, doing up our house over the course of 20 years, well maybe just I think it's been interesting (occasionally horrific but interesting none the less!)! And secondly because I've lost my camera! I have taken a few photos just lately when we've been out and about, lots of cricket has been played and a few other events to record too. However my camera has gone missing, I feel sure it's not far away but as it's not in it's usual place (my handbag) I'm a bit lost!

So renovation posts are easy as I've mainly recorded and photographed what we've done over the years, some photos I've scanned in from the album and some are already on the home computer.

Our kitchen has had three incarnations from where we began in 1992. We purchased the two adjoining cottages that year and one cottage was lived in by an old lady who believed it had a functional kitchen, I however felt it lacked a little something! You may agree....

It was a little dark with the small window, one very tiny centre light and very low ceiling, but it did come complete with calor gas cooker circa 1920 I think! I didn't use any of the cupboards for fear of what may be lurking in them and we lived out of boxes and bags until planning was agreed. I've already mentioned the ancient water system here.
The kitchen in the second cottage which had been derelict for some time, looked like this...
Don't you just love the wallpaper?!
Believe it or not behind the wallpaper was a large copper over what would have been a fire and an old bread oven (sadly rusted to nearly nothing) complete with rusty baking tins!
We soon stripped the rooms out whilst living in a caravan in the garden - that's another tale!

The kitchen was to be built at the back of the house so was actually a new bit added on, it seemed so huge after 18 months in a caravan.

We were soon nearing the end, and Christmas was fast approaching, from the outside it looked like this with the roof on and all watertight.

 I dreamt of a rustic pine (with an orange hue!) kitchen very similar to the one I regularly drooled over in John Lewis at the time. It would cost approximately £10,000.00 (and this was in 1992) for the units I wanted, sadly our budget was nearer £10.00! Anyway I took the brochure (without the price list) to a local pine shop and asked if they could replicate it in anyway. They ummed and ahhed before telling me it wouldn't be cheap....did I realise I'd be looking at over £1000.00 for that kind of thing? After spluttering slightly and despite it still being over our budget I ordered it!

It took weeks to be finished and there was a slight hiccup along the way when the police were called..... I had arranged to pop into the pine shop on the day of delivery and get a lift home in their van, to show them the way. The builder was aware of this but it was in the days before we all carried mobile 'phones.
The pine shop owner was a bit of a wheeler dealer and as it turned out the kitchen wasn't quite ready. I waited in the shop for hours and hours while they trimmed and waxed the units. They were all handmade in large pieces of individual furniture.
 Anyway we hit the road to home quite late and arrived to find the builder in rather a panic having just got off  the 'phone from the police reporting me missing possibly kidnapped by a Arthur Daley/ Del Boy Trotter type character!

However after that slight kerfuffle the kitchen was all I'd dreamed of, we had to make do with some old plywood for worktops until another months pay hit the bank but we loved it!

It was all late 1980's/early 1990's bright colours and fancy swag and tail curtains.

 I loved it, but over the years it's taken it's fair share of knocks. As I designed the units myself (based on John Lewis' brochure) it didn't work brilliantly; although it looked pretty. We had lots of display cabinets to show beautiful china and ornaments. However there was a distinct lack of storage space for the baked beans - unless you have them on display?!
As it had been made by a furniture shop it didn't have the sturdy hinges and catches which would be more suited to doors and drawers which are in constant use. I had really set my heart on wooden worktops but they were beyond our means, except for a tiny bit used as a draining board.
 Laminate "wood look" worktops were fitted but I never really liked them.

The floor has Norfolk Pamments laid which were taken up from the rest of the house, cleaned by hand (took ages) and re-laid in the kitchen. The left over pamments were stored away safely (ie in a bed of nettles behind the house) and were actually used last year in our more recent extension. They make a very forgiving surface, they are a mottled brick colour and don't show the stains and spills. They are porous when not sealed but do hold the heat well and can be quite warm to bare feet.

Anyway the years went on, a couple of doors fell off and were re-attached as a temporary measure
(ie lasted another 10 years) The kids swung on the doors and slammed the drawers until 2 had chunks of wood missing!
 And in all that time the builder thought they just needed a "little touching up" here and there!

Well after much pestering we eventually dismantled the old pine units and sold them on ebay! Someone came over from France to collect them....weird!
And gradually the new kitchen took shape, it's more calming in cream and French grey. White walls and a wooden blind at the window - we still need something on the white walls like a picture of some sort, I'll know the right one when I see it.

Sorry it's a bit dark, I needed an extra pic & had to use my phone.

The tiles behind the cooker are off white and the worktops are iroko wood - I waited 20 years to get the ones I wanted and I love them!

The other end has French doors at the moment looking out onto some crumbling concrete - we had planned, some years ago to add a conservatory/orangery but this hasn't happened....yet!
There are actually NEVER flowers on this table, just for the photo - I should get a job as a stylist!

 I am  (or should I say we are?) really happy with the new kitchen,
it suits life as a family when we need easy access to more baked beans than crystal wine glasses....sadly!!

Have a good week all!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Today's post is brought to you by the letter.......

(do you remember Sesame Street.....?)
 then read on......

The bank holiday weekend was a busy one for us, as was the last week too. I guess this is our busiest time of year, the cricket is in full flow and from now until July the school matches for Number 2 son are added into the mix.

On Saturday Number 1 son played for the club 1st team locally and I was on taxi duty, Number 2 son and The Builder were in the 2nd team playing away....somewhere in Norfolk (I feel sure they told me where....)

But our village also hosted a boat show; I don't have a huge interest in boats or sailing despite living a stone's throw from a huge network of rivers and lakes (The Norfolk Broads). However it was billed as a huge event for our little village and the weather was very kind.

Little Miss cycled and I walked to the village green (she was on a promise of a chocolate ice-cream) and I had seen the signs for the paella party! The paella was good, not very warm, but tasty and prepared on the spot by our local deli - a super place for cream teas and plenty of other goodies.

Sadly the ice-cream shop had sold out of chocolate so cue one very miserable face and some dragging of feet!
Anyway we finished the day baking and planting a few garden pots, so it ended ok.

Sunday dawned and what a beautiful sunny day it promised to be - my flip flops made their first outing of the year. All 3 men were playing at the club so no transport was needed but we did agree to go and watch. We arrived at the ground just in time for the lunch leftovers, accidentally of course!
 I we managed to help clear away the quiche, new potatoes, salad, French bread, apple cobbler, cheesecake.... sadly I missed the cricket as I was busy filling my face! - Just helping out you understand!
A rare photo, no one's fighting!
As it was a more important match than usual a fabulous spread was provided which included a lunch and a tea, unfortunately the team didn't do very well and the match ended earlier than expected so tea was served an hour after lunch! They needed my help to clear it away again, happy to oblige!
We also got to meet this years overseas player/coach who is here from New Zealand for the season, with his young family, Little Miss was very taken with his 2 son's and is volunteer babysitter for the summer!

As Monday was a bank holiday and no cricket was planned (unusually) we decided on an impromptu barbecue and threw a few invites out to friends. It was a lovely warm day and was so good to see the kids, or more accurately the boys, not glued to a handset or screen! Cricket and table tennis was played in the garden and we had such a good time with friends,
a fair amount of wine was consumed also!
We used to have regular dinner parties with some of the friends but these have dwindled to nothing over the past couple of years; however we started to reminisce! We once held a dinner party themed on "1979", everyone had to arrived dressed accordingly for the evening, we had punks, a glamrocker, Mrs Thatcher and Margot & Gerry Leadbetter (the Good Life). They arrived to enjoy nibbles such as Twiglets, cheesy balls and Primula cheese artistically squirted onto celery (remember??). And drank a little Sherry to start. We dined on Prawn cocktail, steak Diane (with onion rings & chips) and Black Forest gateaux or arctic roll for dessert.
We enjoyed a 70's soundtrack for the evening whilst drinking Babycham, Cherry B (Calpol taste a like, who knew?) and Liebfraumilch and bitter for the men!

We had the best time and we're well overdue for another, but what theme? We decided on a letter of the alphabet, can you tell we were getting through the wine at a rate of knots by now?
 After a lot of research it seems that C is the best option so we will dine on - hors d'houvres of caviar on crisps (obviously ready salted, anything else would be silly!), starter of crab and cockle cocktail followed by chicken or chickpea curry. This is served with carrots, cabbage and coleslaw, and a sumptuous dessert of cherry crumble and custard or cream. All washed down with cranberry cocktails and cobra lager and ending with cheese and crackers, coffee or cappuchino. It's sounding good I know.....
We will be wearing corsets, cricket whites and crocs - sounding less good now hey?
The soundtrack will consist of The Cure, The Clash and mellow sounds later with The Commodores!

Our W evening may not be so good though, hors d'houvres are wasabi peas and Wotsits followed by a starter winkles and welks on a bed of watercress? Weiner schnitzel with wantons  followed by wagon wheels and (Mr) Whippy ice-cream , all washed down with whiskey and water or a woo woo. Maybe that's not your kind of evening but we were a little tipsy by then!
We would be wearing windcheaters and waders and maybe a wig.

But I'm sure you won't want to join us for the letter J, I may be wrong but all we could come up with hors d'houvres of Jaffa cakes a pudding of jelly all served whilst wearing a jumper, jockstrap or a jumpsuit!

No you're right, give that evening a miss!

Anyone want to join us, go on pick a letter......