Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter time and beyond

A slightly late Happy Easter to all, we've had some pretty good weather for it in our neck of the woods, I hope you have too.

The school holidays seem to have flown by in a flurry of activities and sadly work too, and Number 1 son went back to college today and should start the final countdown to his A levels, Little Miss is back to school tomorrow and Number 2 son doesn't go back until next Monday - just to add to my state of confusion!

Everyone has enjoyed the break though, all except The Builder who I've just realised has been to work every day for two weeks straight, not all day every day but for a part of it at least - I think he needs a rest!

Easter was a little different for us this year as, for a good many years we've been invited to join the Easter Egg hunt at a friends house in the village, I've mentioned it before, it's enormous and slightly "different". Most of the family are as mad as a box of frogs and you never know what to expect, one year at least two chocolate eggs were put in a rowing boat and pushed out into the river - only to be reached by a good swimmer!! And Easter isn't always warm as you know! However this year when I was forced to enquire (forced by 3 very persistent voices) I was told there would be no hunt this year - shock, horror and massive disappointment to the three hunters who had hoped to return home with the usual mountain of chocolate and slip into a sugar induced coma for the rest of the day. Added to that not one member of the extended family gave the kids any Easter eggs this year, I'm not quite sure what happened but only my Mum gave then some mini eggs, obviously the Easter bunny had left a little something outside their doors but there was a definite air of despondence all around.

On Easter Sunday, after a very yummy roast the Builder and I went for a long walk, it was a lovely evening but I only had my little camera and the pictures don't do the scenery justice. (and can't you tell I'm getting a bit carried away with this photo collage thing?!)
We saw a swan nesting and watched the sun go down over the marshes.
On Easter Monday the Builder went on a scavenger hunt of his own and came back from Tesco with bags full of half price chocolate eggs, we needed to devise our own hunt for the first time ever!
The kids were dispatched to the cricket pitch for the annual spring clean and spruce up
while we hid the eggs. We tried to be inventive in view of what they'd had in previous years, sadly we have no boating lake or river running through our back garden!
We did our best and at one point decided to put a couple of eggs in the old pigeon's nest high up in the holly tree, it transpired that the nest is back in use and was already full of pigeon eggs! The Builder almost fell off his ladder as mummy pigeon flapped away in a hurry!

 It was a fun afternoon, I think they enjoyed it anyway; and maybe it's better to do our
own hunt instead of relying on the madhouse down the road
(they once hid miniature bottle of whiskey with the eggs, and the average age of the hunters was around 11!!)
And just to end on a very Spring like view which I'm enjoying at the moment,
£2 for 3 big bunches on the market.


I've really loved reading everyone else's Easter posts, I've not had much chance to comment
on every one but I'm still there, lurking about!
Have a good week.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Overseas Cricketer, 2014 edition

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will possibly remember my issues with overseas cricketers coming to stay for the summer season. I did mention it here, many moons ago when I first started this blog, I know I've mentioned it since then too. Probably around March/April time every year in fact!.

Just to recap, the boys (and by boys I'm including the Builder) belong to a local club who, for a few years now, have made room for an overseas player to join the club for the summer. Did you know that you can buy a young, athletic, foreigner on the internet? Depending on how prestigious (wealthy) your club is and how skilled the overseas player is you can offer them money to play/coach, cost of their flights, a house or place to stay and a vehicle. In the past our club has been able to offer, flights partially paid for, a room to live in above the local pub (or our penthouse suite garage) and a bike or for the elite player an old banger with it's own set of jump leads!

I mentioned before how our garage was built and fitted out as a bachelor pad (should I say cricketer pad?) at great haste and with a great many helping hands one year, and all work on the completion of our house extension halted. Which I was told at the time was to make a great party room for the boys, however one week later a young Australian moved in for 4 months! - And the house still remains unfinished several years later!

I have stamped my feet, had tantrums and shouted in true only-child style and for a year the garage remained empty, well not exactly empty it's now full of old bikes, boxes of books and junk in general - up to the ceiling! - the house still remains unfinished but that's a whole other story!

I was told a couple of weeks ago that the overseas player for this year was due to arrive, he was picked up from Heathrow yesterday I believe. No one has made any attempt to clear the penthouse garage and I'm told he's been offered a room with a family nearby (club members) for the first month. Hang on, did they say for the first month only? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I guess I'm about to be sweet talked for 4 weeks aren't I?

Apparently this young man from New Zealand is only slightly older than Number 1 son, and is here more to travel and experience England rather than being a top flight cricketer, we're off to meet him later today, I promise to stand firm and not offer him a place to stay - wish me luck.

On the plus side and at risk of showing my age I understand his surname is Cassidy, do you think he's related to David Cassidy?? In that instance I could change my mind!
I was obviously just a baby when he topped the charts!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

My Skydiving Experience

Some of you may remember my birthday gift last year, which in the history of unwelcome and unsuitable gifts had to win first prize. It was a very upsetting time and was actually a worse (although far more expensive) gift than the 4 door handles the Builder once bought me or the hand made chandelier, seen hanging in this post, here, that he collected on my birthday and handed to me
 but which I had actually chosen and ordered some months
 before as a Mother's Day gift!
But when all said and done I really do not like to waste money or any waste come to that; I am the person raiding the "just past their sell by date and reduced to 10p" shelf at the supermarket and then spend days wondering what to do with an overripe banana and some trout! So we decided to book the skydive for a couple of weekends ago. Actually this was the second attempt as we spent a couple of hours at the airfield the week before but the wind was too fierce for the plane to take off. The day dawned and it as very calm and the sky was blue, off we set, all except number 2 son who couldn't get out of bed early enough!

We checked in at the drop site and had to listen to the instructors safety talk. It didn't settle my nerves to see the sign on the door saying "Skydiving can result in serious injury or death" - because that's exactly what was going through my mind!
There were a few of these around too!
Harnessed up and ready for take off

The Leap!

Soft landing
..it helps to have padding on your bum!

Oh come on, you didn't really think I did it did you?!

Another collage of pictures, I'll give myself another pat on the back!

I'm not completely mad....well maybe just bit!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Mother's Day, Gran and other family matters

Thank you for all your lovely comments on the previous post; and all those comments on previous posts in fact - I really should say how grateful I am that so many people bother to say hello, you always make me smile!

I did mention in the previous post that the kitchen was a sticky mess on Mother's day - Little Miss had decided to bake me a cake, all on her own. She followed the recipe for a delicious chocolate brownie traybake, however after forgetting the baking powder it was a little more like a big biscuit - a very chocolatey one so it was all good. She had wanted to ice "Mum" on the top but was unable to find out how to make butter icing -
her two brothers were as much help as any teenage boy can be, that is to say no help at all!
So she guessed and got a bowl of icing sugar and added milk, then poured the very watery liquid into an icing bag, and watched it all run out the other end.
She also added most of a bottle of red food colouring so we had a very sticky kitchen, my slippers still stick to the floor in a couple of spots!
Anyway it was definitely the thought that counts, no one has made a cake just for me in a very long time. (And I have eaten most of it anyway!)

Sticky, flat, chocolate brownie
This seems to have brought on some competitive cake baking between the two youngest children (the oldest is too lazy/sleepy/teenagerish to join in). The result is far too many sticky chocolate cakes in the house and my waistband busting! 
On Mother's Day itself the Builder and I went for a very long walk across
 the marshes and down a few country lanes (the kids were still only half awake and really
didn't want to dress/speak/walk/move).
 We went for over 2 hours and chatted as we went, I love mornings like that.
 I forgot to take my camera or phone so didn't get to snap anything, the scenery is so pretty especially at this time of year and we saw quite a big grass snake slither across the path about a foot in front of us. We also ended up at the Deli/coffee shop in the village (one of my favourite places) for coffee and cake, I had an elderflower cocktail (non alcoholic) as
I'm trying hard to cut right down on my coffee and tea intake.
I also had a couple of lovely cards, number 2 son did a Moonpig type card on his own, Little Miss had made a lovely one at school and number 1 son, well he thought someone else would have bought a card for him to write in so there wasn't one!
she knows me so well!
I also had some lovely gifts, some cosy slippers and a couple of books which had been on my Amazon wishlist. So it was a good day all round, then as the weather was so good we barbecued for tea, no cooking for me!!

You may remember my Gran, 93 years young (94 on Easter Monday) I've mentioned her before here and here and a few other times as well. As I touched on in my post from last October she was becoming a little more frail and living on her own was a worry for everyone, especially as all her family are over a 5 hour drive away. During the winter she managed to fall down the stairs twice, no bones broken but a night in the hospital for cuts and bruises and it became apparent that she may not be looking after herself as well as she used to. I guess this assumption isn't rocket science given her age but very sad none the less. A hurried decision was made a few weeks ago by my Dad and his sister to move gran to a care home nearer to family. Gran in her usual upbeat frame of mind was happy with the decision and is now in a place in Suffolk, our neighbouring county. It'll take me around an hour and a half to get there, but only 40 mins from number 2 sons school if I'm out that way for a school event (ie cricket match). A lot less than the 6 hour drive to her home in Exeter, which means I can see her more often. I visited her last week and she was her usual smiley self, although a little confused about where she was. It's her birthday next week so I'm trying to create a collage of photos of her with us over the years, and being the complete opposite of crafty it will involve mainly some sellotape and a shop bought frame!

As the Easter holidays are here at last I had hoped for a little "spare time" that rare thing which is always hard to find. I had planned to go to work 2 days each week, but as usual my plans were scuppered at the last minute. Today was my day at work but the Builder in his wisdom decided yesterday to take the boys & himself (aka my babysitters) to a cricket match in Surrey!
On top of that my Dad sent a brief message yesterday afternoon to say
 "coming for a visit tomorrow, staying one night" Who was coming with him is usually a surprise, and when they arrive is pot luck too! I don't see him that often but now Gran is nearby it may be more frequent in the future. Day off work for me then & a re-arranging of my schedule for the week.
He arrived after 10am (he has been known to arrive at 7am or earlier) with Step-Mum in tow.
 I have a strange relationship with them, we do get on quite well but, without going into details
(I don't really want to put my dysfunctional family out there on the web!), I didn't see him for over 18 years during my childhood and kept in touch with him by the occasional Christmas card and by always keeping in touch with my Gran (his Mum) - sometimes you can't easily bridge a gap like that.

Anyway they're here today and tomorrow they will leave after breakfast to visit Gran then go home straight from there, we'll enjoy their company while we can.

Well I'll go and spend a little more time with them and also with the giant chocolate cake
 baked by Little Miss this afternoon,
 I'll be back soon with tales involving an aeroplane and a parachute.
See you all soon, have a good week.