Saturday, 27 September 2014

Will we have a hat trick?

Well Number 1 son was delivered to Uni on Tuesday, it was all very exciting and a little scary too.

We drove up in 3 hours (I'm thinking that's do-able in an emergency - or if I just need to give him a hug) and drove onto the campus and straight to the door of his halls. Outside the main block students were all about to help you unload and also had a DJ playing music outside the main building. As we stepped out of the car the loud rap music blared out "mothef***r, motherf***r" which was a little surprising and not ever so welcoming! It then segued nicely into "Walking on Sunshine" in an 80's disco kind of way - covering all tastes there.... all very bizarre!

His room is like a small cell with no room to swing a cat, luckily cats aren't allowed so that's not a problem! He has two huge notice boards on each side of the room which looked useful; until we saw the small sign saying you mustn't use sticky tape, pins or tac (blue or white) on these boards - maybe he'll have to go back to play group and use flour and water glue! Pretty handy notice boards then.......

 Poor quality photos taken on my poor quality phone, I forgot the camera!
And this photo and/or dress appears to make my body look like that of a middle aged 
round shaped lady! I'm also still trying to grow my hair into, well, something! 

We unpacked his stuff and realised how poorly equipped he actually was! As he's in catered halls we were told that all kitchen equipment is supplied (he's only catered Mon-Fri)  I don't know but 2 small saucepans and 1 frying pan just doesn 't seem enough for 4 people?? That was all the equipment there was, unles there's a huge stocked cupboard which we just couldn't find.
He'd also turfed out all the tins of baked beans which I'd boxed up for him before we left home as he thought I'd over done it - he then realised he'd only bought 1 tin with him - hopefully that'll keep him going til Christmas!

I made his bed, probably the only time it will ever actually be made, I stored the change of bed linen in the cupboard and warned him it had better be used!

We managed to slide his huge cricket bag under the desk to avoid it taking up the entire floor space and introduced ourselves to his neighbour. The lad in the next door room had a crate of Pot Noodles and a crate of beer - he was very well equipped!

Number 1 son got himself signed up for a few things and then we had a trip to Tesco for fresh supplies, he can only cook one pasta dish involving white wine and fresh cream, I imagine his shopping list will never include those 2 items again!

So we left him there late afternoon and he found out that night  that his cricket trial for the top flight uni cricketers (he's not top flight but it's worth a shot) was in the middle of Fresher's week - is that a deliberate move to test commitment?

We drove from Loughborough home via Norwich to catch the end of Little Miss's County cricket trial. As I said before a lot goes on in the County set up which doesn't seem quite right - money/name/school/business etc talks it seems. Anyway all the girls trialling had been told before the session started that they were all through to the next round! Hooray you might think, and we did indeed congratulate her and celebrate with a McFlurry. All I will add is that the first 2 trial sessions are free, if you go through to the next round the trials cost £50, and they all went through....make of that what you will; I'm saying no more!

So maybe all 3 of them will eventually pay ahem, I mean play for Norfolk?

Eating a McFlurry on the run for tea isn't exactly nutritious, not helped by the text from Number 1 son to say Uni food is fab, beef and mushroom stroganoff and key lime pie!

Anyway Number 2 son is also through to the next round of his trails at Under 17 level, there is a lot more I could say about this also (although he certainly deserves a place in the squad) but you never know who's reading the blog! I'm fairly sure if I spoke out too much it wouldn't help their cricket careers. A friends son, in a younger age group, is a superb bowler and his statistics for 2014 place him number 2 in the country (that's country not county) for his age; he's just been overlooked for the emerging players programme in Norfolk! Sums it all up really!!

Anyway we heard late last night that Number 1 son hasn't made it to the next round of trials at Uni (as expected) but now trials again at the next level down so there will be no let up in the amount of cricket played, maybe a little less driving about for us though! Well I say less driving, The Builder had to be talked out of driving back to Loughborough to watch Number 1's indoor practice session!!
I must say we've heard far more from him in the last few days than we did at home in the last few years; even a text at 10 to 5 this morning saying he was off to bed - obviously we didn't see it at that time!

The cricket season should have finished, and I thought maybe a little DIY and gardening could be on the cards, sadly The Builder is currently up at the pitch tending to the grass and anything else which needs doing before Winter - bug**r the grass at home then!

We do have a night out planned though, a trip the the theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my very favourite books. I've read it several times and seen it at the theatre once before, it was the best thing play I've ever seen - I hope this production is as good. 
And I hope The Builder doesn't nod off!

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!


Friday, 19 September 2014

And breath......(and sniffle!)

So we've reached the end of the summer, and the end of the cricket season, at last. We have one more match at the weekend, and this is not a competitive match. The whole family will play (except me, obviously!) as it's a memorial match and the opposition are the family and friends of a young player who sadly lost his life in an accident some years ago. It's not a sad day, it's a day for memories and seeing old friends and enjoying a few beers, a barbecue and some fun together.

But of course it never really ends, the indoor net sessions have already started and the trials for County Cricket start this week. I thought the pressure would be off this year as Number 1 son will be away at Uni (gulp) when his age group trial and Number 2 son is now at the age where (in Norfolk) they don't have a County team - something to do with it being exam year I think. However Number 2 went off on Wednesday to launch an assault on the under 17's and, would you believe it, Little Miss went last night to trial for the girls Under 13's! She's not very good (or that interested if truth be told) but she doesn't like to be left out and there are very few girls playing cricket, so you never know!

I have failed miserably to keep on top of the garden, as I have every other year before this one! I harvested all the remaining carrots, the parsnips seem to be all leaves and not much else, the beetroot has been pickled and I've had quite a few tomatoes - despite the tiny grow bags and pots and lack of canes.

I'm extremely happy to be eating a few home grown potatoes...especially as I didn't plant any!
We are having a good harvest of fruit, mainly because little effort is required. The pear & almond tarts have gone down a treat, I'll stash a few in the freezer - I love a good tart/cake/pudding/pastry!

The weeding has completely lost me and there's a lot of work needs doing, The Builder should be available to help (and maybe fix that broken window which he "strimmed" earlier in the year and which remains shattered) I may try to tidy it up before winter know....I've lost momentum!

I've also lost momentum in blogging, both writing and reading - too much on my mind it seems. The start of High School for Little Miss has gone as smoothly as it could,
 and the move to university for Number 1 happens next Tuesday. 
I am, at the moment swaying between excitement for him and a wobbly lip
 at the thought of leaving him there! 
I may book a weekend away for The Builder and I, and it may or may not be in the direction of Loughborough! 
I've told Number 1 that I'm planning to visit him every weekend, just so he doesn't get lonely.....he gives me an odd look which says a tiny percentage of him thinks I just might!
 I have packed umpteen tins of baked beans and a frying pan, not sure if he needs much else?
 I've bought him a new duvet and lovely bed linen - he thought I'd gone mad! 
Wish me luck, I'll have a handbag full of tissues!

And Number 2 son, ah what can I say? He remains the same, arguing with me at every opportunity, as I said before, I really must "stop being such an idiot"...apparently!
 This year will be full of exams for him so I'll be investing in a hard hat!

We finished the "big job" which The Builder has been on all Summer and which has caused us a good deal of worry and stress, I had hoped to start spending the profit on my hidden "must do" list but unfortunately funds don't stretch to even half way down the list. We can invest in a new boiler and some garden fencing, essential but not really what I had in mind - I actually wanted a carpet, the outside of the house painted and some pretty new china - we're lucky Number 1 is leaving as we don't have enough plates to eat together any more!

We've also had an issue with a neighbour which has been rumbling for several years. It's really got to me now and, as is always the case, the person who shouts the loudest gets heard - I must remember to shout louder in future! As The Builder says it's very difficult to reason with an unreasonable person!

But in amongst all of the above there have been some lovely moments to brighten my days, emails from fellow bloggers always put a smile on my face and there are many of you out there who I'd love to have a night out on the tiles with. I received a card from Tammy, .....just because; and a gift from Kylie which put a smile on several faces!
 If you don't really understand cricket just enlarge the tea towel and read the print, it'll all become clear!!

I also unexpectedly received a couple of vouchers, one for coffee and cake for two (I love cake, did I mention that?) and the other for a spa day, a gift from our Kiwi cricketer who has now moved out of the garage and is on his way home - he's already asked if we'll have him back next year. 
Would it be rude to say "yes only if I can have another spa day voucher!?

So I will be back soon, we're trying to slow down and enjoy life a bit more, I went for a massage yesterday (it was free - I love a freebie almost as much as I love a good cake!)  
and have lined up a few theatre nights out in Norwich. 
The Builder has agreed to come with me to see To Kill A Mockingbird - one of my favourites and the weird lady from cricket is coming with me to see Lord Of The Flies, the Matthew Bourne version - so that'll be interesting and I'm sure very entertaining!

See you all soon

Monday, 8 September 2014

Summer Celebration

I thought I'd do a few mini roundups of our Summer, although we didn't seem to do much this year. The boy's cricket, work and The Builder's slipped disc and arthritic hip problems managed to take up far more of the school holidays than expected. And now 2 are back at school and Number 1 son is preparing for university. Well actually he's out with friends and sleeping mainly, if he were any more laid back he'd be unconscious!

The run up to A Level results day was a little stressful, he'd finished the exams some time ago and didn't feel they'd gone very well, as time went on he convinced us he'd probably failed! 
His first choice of university was Loughborough, mainly for it's sporting reputation. I have to say on visiting the campus on open day the sports facilities were jaw droppingly impressive - and that's coming from a very non-sportswoman. They have an Olympic pool, football pitches, several gyms, athletic track and, most importantly it's the home of the ECB National Academy (England Cricket Board), as well as having a superb cricket pitch in the middle of the campus.

However we discounted this option early on in view of his anticipated results. His insurance choice was a bit of a random, spur of the moment decision and he regretted it. The day before results day he decided to reject the second choice of Uni - the call came "how do I do that Mum?" I Googled and found that you can withdraw from a choice up to 7 days before results day; this was roughly 7 hours before! The boy who has done virtually nothing for 6 weeks decided, the night before, he wants to change his choice! 

He was in a huge panic and almost in tears so we wrote down a very long plan of action for the following morning which involved phoning other universities (lists of names, courses and telephone numbers) to ask (beg, plead) if they'd consider him, names and numbers of colleges to ask if he could re-take the failed exams, right through to looking for a job! We both had a sleepless night and I was staring, bleary eyed, at the UCAS website from 6am - 
it was due to go live at 8am. 
The Builder had to leave for cricket in some far off county at 6.45am so wasn't around. 
At 7.30 the site changed and we both stared at the screen and a shaky hand pressed the "enter" button.We both stared with puzzled faces as it flashed up "you are accepted at your first choice of university,Loughborough" - what does that actually say and what does it actually mean?? we both peered at the screen for minutes and I may have been staring through teary eyes!

He phoned The Builder immediately in his usual laid back, dead pan voice to tell him the news - we just heard a roar at the other end! The Builder has said he would give anything to have had the opportunity to go to a place like Loughborough - if he didn't have to do any writing!

So we went to pick up his results sheet from college with a happy heart and I treated him to coffee and cake in John Lewis (oh I know it was a treat for me mainly!) He then went off to celebrate as all bar 1 of his mates had got into the places they wanted to, we saw very little of him that night although his Twitter account was a little "slurry"! The next day he resumed his laid back, can't get out of bed mode and managed to miss his slot for accommodation! He's got the complete opposite to what he wanted - although I'm happy that he's in a catered hall. He wanted self-catered as it would give him more beer money - how much could a weekly shop cost??
 More than £10?? (he's in for a shock I know)

He then also managed to miss the time slot for accommodation swaps, so he isn't moving. I hope he finds some get-up-and-go before he leaves home on the 23rd.

We are very proud of him and I'm going to miss him terribly!

The only photo from our celebration meal out!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Our Trip to London

It's been a busy summer and I've not been near a computer very often so not only am I very behind on writing this here blog I'm also missing so many of my friends posts too. Now it's just about school time I'm going to try to get into more of a routine, I want to carry on blogging, I'm really getting so much pleasure from all the new friends I've made this year but sometimes, you know, life just get's in the way. There have been lots of happenings, too numerous to mention all. Suffice to say we had a worrying 10 days in August awaiting A Level results, a GCSE result and the ballet grade 3 results - all went well, but that's another story!

You may remember some time back I asked for advice about hotels for a trip to London I was planning. Well I booked the train tickets when they were cheap, I really wanted to book something for the weekend right next to my birthday, to avoid previous disasters and miserable days! I had planned on booking a Travelodge or similar and the Bethnal Green one was recommended but I kept waiting for one more pay day and the prices seemed to be creeping up! Eventually I tried to book and discovered something you may think is obvious but what hadn't occurred to me - the prices are a lot more for a Saturday night than a Friday! But after some searching and Googling I took a gamble and booked a "secret hotel" on I discovered that if you Google around enough you can find out actually which hotel is listed; so I plunged in and booked.

Turns out we did quite well, a hotel called The Grange St Paul's, opposite St Paul's Cathedral. Little Miss was over the moon as it had a swimming pool and our room had robes and slippers! We got about £50 off the hotel's website offer which was discounted from their normal price.

Straight off our train we headed to Ripley's Believe It Or Not, we had pre-paid tickets bought with Tesco vouchers, in fact all our food and two of the trips were courtesy of Tesco. Ripley's was actually better than we'd expected (especially as we weren't paying full price!) The top right of the collage is a knitted Ferrari! I thought of the many knitty/crochet-y bloggers when I saw this.

Centre is the hotel, bottom left is the glass bridge overlooking the lounge and breakfast area (we couldn't afford to eat there) and finally is how I spent the first evening, my new book and fizzy wine - nothing better than that!

On the Saturday morning we were meeting an Aussie friend who has just started a 2 year contract teaching in London, this was her first weekend in the capital, we had met her 4 years ago when her then boyfriend was that years "man in our garage" (overseas cricketer in the self contained flat before anyone calls the police!)We caught up on everyone's news then spent a couple of hours browsing the 5 floors of Hamley's toy shop - top of Little Miss's to-do list.
Bottom right of the collage is Little Miss's nails painted by a Hamley's demonstrator, 
a strawberry and a Minion were her favourites.

Saturday afternoon we made our way over to The Cambridge Theatre to see Matilda, I don't know who was more excited (actually I do, it was me!)
We had front row seats, a bit of a crick in the neck but a wonderful view of everything. The show was amazing but what Little Miss didn't know until the intermission was that Mrs Wormwood (Matilda's Mum) was meeting us after the show to show us around backstage! 
This had been arranged by her ballet teacher who used to work in West End shows.
We also got to the stage door in time to see the cast do their ice-bucket challenge!
I can highly recommend Matilda, it was a superb show, the whole cast were wonderful. 
Mrs Wormwood also kept our programme and posted it on to us signed by the cast, 
I'm still excited by the whole experience, Little Miss is over it already!

Saturday evening we ate out (Thank God for Tesco vouchers) and then had a swim, once back in our room I was sound asleep and Little Miss had to turn off the TV and lights!
On Sunday we had another swim before we checked out, ate a huge breakfast at the restaurant next door and went for a tour of The Tower of London, I think I saw the Crown Jewels once on a school trip but I don't remember ever looking around the Tower. We had exchanged more Tesco vouchers to get in and spent as long as we could before the train home looking around, there was so much more to see than I realised, it helped that we had a lovely sunny day for it.
 The ceramic poppies were an amazing and very moving sight.
 They were still being planted by volunteers.
Our Beefeater was a very good tour guide, as I'm sure they all are. We learnt a lot, he was an ex-army officer and had, at one time, guarded Rudolf Hess when he was brought to England. 
And from the Tower we made our way home, after 2 ice creams for £5 - the most expensive thing we ate all weekend I think! We missed our connecting train from Norwich but a kind Sister-in-Law picked us up (the boys were at cricket and couldn't possibly be disturbed)

So all in all a very jam-packed weekend, lots of giggles and memories made. We will definitely be repeating the experience.

I'll be back soon, enjoy your weekend where ever you are.