Thursday, March 01, 2018

Snowy days and time to blog

So once again I have been away from my blog for quite some time, despite wanting to get down to some serious regular posting. The reason is that I have been very poorly.

In a final bit of celebrating for our joint 60th's we had booked a fantastic trip to San Diago ending in a week in Las Vegas with Laura, Wayne and the boys. We arrived to find a fantastic villa complete with swimming pool, water fall, hot tub, mini golf, climbing wall, slides outdoor kitchen, telly and bbq!  I enjoyed it for four days before falling seriously ill and having to be blue lighted to the hospital. 

It turns out I had pancreatitis caused by gall stones blocking the pancreatic duct. The pancreatitis had attacked practically every bit of my body including my lungs and in total I spent 4 days in ICU, another 17 days in the hospital and had to have my gall bladder removed whilst in the USA (thank goodness for good travel insurance). It took a while to be allowed back to England and then it turns out I still have a very large cyst on my pancreas but the NHS moves very slowly and I am still waiting to hear about my referral and although I have managed 2 days back at work, am still in pain and not any where near recovered. 

So blogging has really been the last thing on my mind.

However with all the snow we are having at the moment there is little else to do than spend time in my craft room.  Kelly and I have been having mini crops together and joining in the virtual kits and classes run by ATDML. As we were unsure what the kits would be like we had contrived to do the classes sharing the kits but I think next month we are going to have whole kits to ourselves, as although we have managed, it has taken some thinking through and we have maybe lost a little in the attempt. 

Here are my efforts from both January and February. 

January class 2 Ann.

I didn't have a kit for this one so used whatever was to hand. Me at my husband's 25 year service award dinner.

January Class 3 Debbie Jewell. 

Because Kelly and I shared a kit it took some time to work out how to cut the paper so we both got enough each for the class. Unfortunately we didn't take into account the directionality of the print on the blue tree paper so I ended up doing my LO mirror image. I still like it though. 
My mum throwing snowballs at Laura and the dog after taking Laura to physio for her back injury (I bet a snowball fight really helped lol)

February Class 1 with Mel

 I loved both these classes, but again cutting the paper proved a challenge and because I wanted the flowers to show but discovered my triangles were cut back to front again the LO was mirror imaged. I also put my photo in the middle as I felt it caught the eye better there. I also threw in a few of my own chipboard letters and stickers.

My dad and Finley enjoying a joke together.
Finley playing cars, both photos taken during the time that he and his parents lived at our house.

February Class 2 Tricia 

I loved the look of both these classes,  but realise I do really dislike fussy cutting. Those swirly flowers took forever. All my LO's seem to be of Finley this time round but that is because I am working on my 2013 album before we were graced with Beckett so this time its a sleepy Finley and then a girly picture to fit in with the pink and flowers of my big girlie and a new born Finley. 

Not a class

This one isn't a class from ATDML but a pagemap sketch with some papers in my scraps drawer, and yes another Finley photo for that '13 album.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

August, holidays, airshow party and all that jazz.

Our summer did not seem to be as rammed packed with events and outings as usual but then I went to write this post and realised we had actually been quite busy.

Start of Martin's two week annual holiday

Yet again we were staying at home for this -  firstly we are off to the states for a big birthday celebration later in the year and secondly we wanted to see the South East (formally Herne Bay Air show.

We started with the boys staying for a sleep over and a meal out at the Rose in Bloom. Lovely pub grub meal spoilt only by the fact that most of the play equipment was broken leaving the boys with only the swing to play on (although they were quite facinated by the trains passing by) and Finley made a friend with the older girl playing there too.

Much of the first week was spent getting the house and garden ready for our 60th birthday garden bbq and party but we managed an 'adventure' with Laura, Wayne and the boys in a trip to Hastings. Worried about the poor weather we opted for the Sea Life centre there but as it turned out the weather was amazingly hot and sunny. After the sea life centre we had lunch (which again was tasty but took nearly an hour to get served) in a pub which had seating on the front pavement so we watched the world go by. Then we (stupidly?) took the boys on the peddelo swans!

We let the train take the strain back to the car park as some of us were wet from our boating experience and all had tired leggies.

As we still had some time left but had run out of change for the car park we took a slow drive back to Folkestone Lees where we found the most amazing playpark. 

The stone maze

The climbing frame

As much sand as Beckett could possibly want.
On the 12th it was the big party day. Kelly and Laura had been put in charge of decorations so there were lanterns, helium balloons )and apparently bunting which they forgot to put up). It all looked very festive. There was way too much food and plenty of drink. The boy's bouncy castle was put up by the hot tub and chairs were dragged from every room into the garden. The weather even stayed sunny and warm so we could all stay outside.  
Sadly there were many friends and family who could not join us but there were still plenty who did manage to come and it was fantastic to catch up with people from our past we had not seen in many years, to touch base with my cousins and to get to know the neighbors a little better. Everybody seemed to have a good time. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

One week down

The first week of the summer holidays seems to have flown by. I am having a hard time keeping a grip on what I have been up to. Now Laura and family live so much nearer they seem to be popping in and out or we are over there and its hard to not get the days mixed up.

As well as our trip to Wingham Wild Life we took the boys to the Fun in the Park Day. Originally this formed part of the Herne Bay Festival and was really a stage for the annual dog show, then a problem with dates meant that a few years ago it became an event in its own right. The first year we went, we had only just moved in so we strolled down with our little 2 year old Finley and had quite a good time as he climbed on the fire engine and enjoyed the hook a duck.This year we again went down the hill with high hopes of a good time.

The kids were enthralled by the sight of the Vintage Cars and the bouncing castle as we entered the park and looked down the hill. They became less enchanted when they came to realise they were not allowed to touch the gleaming polished-to-a-mirror finish cars or tractors and quickly turned away to look for more exciting interactive fun.

They wanted to go on the bouncy castle but since we had only bought about £15 with us we said they must look first and then choose the one thing they wanted to go on. Then we walked to the other end, glancing at the stalls. 

There wasn't much to excite the boys, most seemed to be promoting something and so only had leaflets to hand out, or were selling stuff like books or jewellery. Finally at the top end of the park was something for children,  no not the play park that Beckett wanted to go in, but a long queue for free face painting (too long they wouldnt have the patience to wait) and Pip the magician. At first Beckett wanted to stay and watch and Finley didn't. Then Finley sat and watched for a while but Beckett wanted to see some more stalls. I took Beckett, Laura sat with Finley. 

Beckett and I passed a 'throw the tennis ball into rubber bucket' stall, a bread and cake stall, a biscuit stall, another jewellery stall, a hook-the-duck stall, another biscuit stall, the beer tent, the brass band. He cried, we walked back.  It seemed the boys were right, the main choice was the bouncy castle. So that's where we went.

Enjoying  themselves whilst it lasted.

There were already 5 children on the bouncy castle but no one queuing so the boys had their shoes off and were on before we even got our purses open. £1.50 a go, reasonable I thought .... until I discovered they only got 3 mins for that price. And despite the fact that one of the bigger boys bumped heads with Beckett and left him in tears for some of that time, and the fact that unlike the others it took him twice as long to get back on his feet after being bounced over him being so little and all, and the fact that there were no more customers waiting for a go, the woman timed them all on her phone and made them all get off on the dot of 3 mins. I know they have to make their money back to cover costs but throwing them all off didn't get her any more customers and I wasn't the only person disgruntled by her attitude especially since there was nothing signed to tell us how long they would get.  There were tears from several of the children.

We relented and said they could have a go on something else (we were hard pushed to find anything though). Finley wanted a balloon. Both the hook-a-duck and the throw-a-dart stalls were giving away balloons just for having a go. We lined up. We asked the price. £3 a go!! Okay maybe I am out of touch but £3 to hook a duck with plastic 50p toy prizes? Admittedly the dart stall was giving balloons with teddies inside away but .......

We went to the white elephant stall where Finley was happy with his £3 Lego action figure and Beckett was happy with his £1 teddy. 

We went to the play-park!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Start of the summer holidays.

The holidays have started (not that I have noticed since I have had no work all term) and typical the weather has closed in after all that hot sunny heatwave throughout June. I knew it would the moment we went out and bought a 3.5m banana parasol to put over the new patio furniture. Oh well.

Its not stopped us from being outside though. 
So far I have managed to walk up to Laura and Wayne's new house without getting caught in the rain, and on Tuesday Martin finished the final part of the new patio and dug out and laid the block standing for the refuse bins. The sun has not been good enough to dry off the very wet bag of kiln dried sand needed to fill in the gaps so that still has to be completed, plus I have a (very large yet useless for the job) whacker plate machine sitting on the lawn but I am very pleased with his efforts.

We have still been having fun with the boys too. Yesterday they took me to Wingham Wild Life park (we all have yearly passes) and we had a lovely time looking at animals - they always like to drag Nana through the reptile house as they know those are my least fav creatures,  digging in the sand for dinosaur bones, climbing in the soft play house (a chance for the grown ups to have a quick coffee) and chasing each other up and down the sand hills. We were also fascinated to see the penguin keeper salting the water for her charges comfort. 

 The sand hills are always a popular play area.

Fascinated and maybe a little nervous of the butterfly on mummy's finger.

Laura and I are also finally finding time to get to grips with our holiday together later in the year. We had already booked a pretty decent villa earlier, panicked that all the good places would be booked up. Although it was a large place with plenty of outdoor space, it was a bit of a car journey every time you needed a pint of milk, and the pool was not gated which with our little terror was a worrying thought. We had a full refund on cancellation clause so we were still vaguely looking, but finally, throwing a little more cash at the problem we have now booked a huge place right in the centre of all the activity, a mile from the beach, with its own pool and hot tub (gated) climbing apparatus and wall for the boys) its own putting pitch, bar, and outside kitchen/bbq/firepit with tv! Now we can start to look at all the other little bits and pieces we need (car hire, transfers, hotel accommodation for the final four nights before we fly home). We are getting excited.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The rest of half term.

So what else did we get up to over the rest of the week that Martin had off? Well we actually managed to pack quite a bit in.

After his usual round of sunday morning golf, Martin and I were going to have a chillaxing afternoon, but the kids phoned to say they were coming up for a cup of tea. Next thing we know we were scrabbling around in the freezer to find food for the bbq! We ate so late that the boys ended up staying for a sleepover. 

We wanted to start tackling our list of jobs but we found we couldnt even start them before clearing out the shed as we couldn't find any of the tools we needed amongst the tangle. The boys had a great time as we tried to keep them amused with footballs and tents at the same time as sorting rubbish from good.

Once the boys had gone home and we had put everything back tidily, Martin had several trips to the tip to get rid of all the unwanted shed stuff and accumulated junk from the attic. 

The main job we wanted to tackle was to finally properly lay the patio outside the back of the lounge. When we moved in the man selling the house had bought lots of block paving bricks to redo the hard standing for the cars. We had used most of them instead to create a patio on the left hand side of the garden, but we still had quite a number left over.  In removing the decaying decking we had discovered quite a bit of concrete under it, and although we had removed most of it and grassed over, there was still a substantial bit on the right hand side of the garden. We had taken out the built in cupboard in the conservatory to allow access into the garden (who makes a built in cupboard across a conservatory door?) and had temporally put the blocks on top of the concrete but this all needed properly laying. We were also short several bricks to cover the whole area, so it was a trip to travis-perkins to order some more.  
We took the opportunity to also stock up on our weekly groceries before taking ourselves off to the cinema to watch Johnny Depp's next Pirates of the Caribbean adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Martin set to laying the bricks we did have while I spent the day in my craft room sewing up a storm and researching where we were going to go for our Finley and Beckett adventure the next day.

Finley had asked for another garden/picnic adventure and I had toyed with the idea of Hole Place until I discovered they had no picnic areas or facilities. At the last moment I opted for Riverhill Himalayan Gardens. It was a great choice. Lots for the boys to do and plenty of walking and exercise for the grown ups. Little in the way of formal gardens but a wonderful day out all the same.

First stop the maze.

Then some tree trunk climbing. You could go into the woods and make your own dens if you wanted too. The boys next choice was the play park though.

Laura did have to use her teacher voice at some particularly obnoxious boys who kept bloking the tunnel slide by climbing up from the bottom instead of using the ladder.

Of course the whole point of the exercise is the picnic. Finley decided he wanted to go 'up' for this, and although it was rather a steep bit of a walk it was worth the effort as the north downs suddenly blossomed out in front of us. 


Sorry not the best photo but I was too busy enjoying to snap. 
There was still plenty to fill our afternoon too. 
Wandering paths through the woods to explore, 

The hidden boat swing

The formal garden
 Complete with water feature

And a stick making craft activity which I think Laura got most out of since she made a hedgehog, and a stick..lady. 

As if our day had not been full enough, we had agreed to meet Wayne who had stayed home for a parcel delivery, and go out for a pub meal with the boys. Randomly Laura chose the Royal Oak at Nonington. The weather was still beautiful and so we sat in the huge garden while the boys climbed on the climbing frame and just generally had a brilliant time. The offical time for food was after 6 and since we had forgotten to check this, we turned up a full 2 hours too early! The landlord was fantastic though and agreed to cook ours a tad early as the boys were getting hungry. And tasty food it was too!

We had to stay in for the block paving bricks to be delivered, so we pootled about and once they did arrive Martin started to lay them.  We were pleasantly surprised when two little boys heads appeared round the garden gate. Before long more fun was being had by all, a lot of water followed by home made pizza teas.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Chelsea - flowers and gardens and all that stuff.

This week has been a busy week. Martin has had a weeks holiday and we have been having lots of fun but at the same time working pretty hard on catching up with all the maintenance house type jobs. But we started the week with a treat I had been looking forward to for some pretty long years - a visit to the Chelsea flower show.

One of the main reasons I joined the RHS (alongside cheap or free entry into gardens) was to get tickets to the Chelsea Flower show. Wayne had bought his mum tickets many years ago for a birthday gift but she hadn't

wanted to go or had been ill or something so he very generously gifted them to us, and we had a brilliant day out. Since then I had been hankering to go back. Finally this was the year.
Sadly for me I chose the year that many gardens had withdrawn through lack of sponsorship but at the time of booking the tickets I wasn't to know that. We had tried to book for the Thursday but all RHS tickets (not public) were sold out so we settled for the Friday - yes as it turned out the hottest day of the year so far, but again I wasn't to know that either.

We packed a huge picnic and set out full of enthusiasm expecting to have another brilliant time. I have to point out that I don't do heat very well and was already flagging by the time we got to Sloan square. We had to walk from there as the local bus service had been suspended for the day. I was surprised that although there was a noticeable increase of police presence as we walked along, once there security (in view of recent events) was not that fierce. Martin was jokingly asked if our picnic knives were for our picnic but that was it.

Unlike the first time we had visited, the trade stalls were all over the place where as before they had been more confined to one trading street.  Alongside the fact of the reduced number of gardens and the increase in plot size for the traders, and the fact that many traders had decorated their trade stalls to look like gardens it became difficult to actually find the designed gardens.

 We wanted to buy this but didnt have enough cash, they didnt do credit card and neither did they do shipping. Plus we didnt want to carry it around all day. 

None of the eight show gardens inspired us in the least. There seemed to be a perchance for 'weeds' as they all tried to show us how to encourage green into grey Britain.  

On our previous trip and to garden shows and visits to RHS gardens, the viewing gardeners had been very polite but all we seemed to meet were rude and ill mannered impatient members of the public who pushed and shoved to get where they wanted with no thought for any one else. Poor Martin never got to the front to see even one of the gardens. Maybe it was the hot weather but this was not something I had encountered before and I found it very off putting. 

After only an hour we were ready for lunch but finding a shady spot was really hard. Every bit of dim lit space seemed to be taken. Finally we found a small spot behind one of the trading sheds, not a picturesque  place but as least cool.  

Back to the fray and I really wanted to see the much publicised Radio 2 gardens. These were at the other end of the show (well they would be wouldn't they?) and by the time we got to them we were very hot and sweaty.  They were a total disappointment. They had seemed huge on the TV but were not much bigger than the Artisan gardens (which were tiny). Not only that the gap to look into them was no bigger than the average 5 bar gate with 40 or so people trying to squeeze into the space to view them.  And to my mind they honestly were not worth viewing. I have seen better simply walking along our road - which is saying something as they are all old age pensioners who do not garden round near us! 

Mary Berry's edible garden.  I found it very messy and difficult to understand all the vegetables ripe at the same time. I grew up in a time when the whole of the back yard was usually given up to veggies and it always looked far neater and interesting than this.

The sound garden.An interesting concept, speakers under the water made different ripples in the tank depending on the frequency.  Trouble was I had expected sound in the garden. It was silent. I also think 'garden' was pushing it.

 This was the biggest disappointment.Sarah Raven's cut flower garden ... except where were the flowers?  Sarah was actually working in the garden when I got to the front, but came out to go off someplace. She was waylaid by some woman and although she was not actually rude to the lady praising her books, it was obvious she didn't want to stop and talk to the public. 

We took another drinks break. Opting for a half pint from the bar as all our picnic drinks had been warmed up in the 30 degree heat, we tried to find some shade and a seat at the band stand. On our previous visit we had been treated to a rag band and then a jazz band. This time it was an opera singer who was promising us 2 whole (boring) hours of opera and musical songs. She was very good but 
rather a narrow genre for such a big crowd?

 We had to sit in full sun too as there was no shady spots available. NB I did love her gown.

Our final stop was the Pavillion. I had been looking forward to this part best. Sadly it was so humid inside the tent that after only half an hour we had to make our way outside again. It would also seem that all the wonderful displays made from flowers were a thing of the past and it was straightforward tables of samples of flowers/plants lined up. 

Fed up by only 2 oclock we made our way home. I doubt we will be going again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Start of the celebrations.

As part of starting to celebrate that both Martin and I will reach our 60th year this year, we went with all the family for a meal at the beautiful old pub in the woods, The Rose and Crown. 

Before the family arrived, and since Martin was still having his round of golf before joining us, Laura Wayne and I took the boys up into the woods for a bit of a walk first. They both had a fab time climbing hills covered in roots, shuffling along huge fallen tree trunks and even stepping up into the wide branches of an accommodating low slung tree.

Although the service in the pub was a tad slow the meal was very tasty and there was plenty of food. A great start to all to come.


We continued to celebrate Martin's birthday with an overnight stay in London. We chose the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Covent Garden and Kinky Boots from a deal on Groupon. 

Not having used Groupon before we were unsure of how or even if it would work but we had a great experience. We included train travel in the deal so we wouldn't have to worry about parking, our upward journey covered by the high speed rail due to engineering works. We arrived in good shape (even though we had forgotten to bring our Oyster cards) thanks to Laura giving us a ride to the station, and had soon covered the underground transfers and walk to our hotel. Situated between the Strand and Covent Garden the hotel was although a little tired, very comfortable and the staff very pleasant.

After dumping our luggage we decided to walk back to Covent Garden but found (as usual) little going on there and continued walking to the Adelphie theatre to find out where it was for later. As we were standing outside a political protest march organised by the trade unions passed us so we spent some time watching and waiting to be able to cross the road. A little unexpected show for us while we were there. 

We treated ourselves to a meal in TGI Friday (our fav. place to go when in London as we don't have one near us and got the taste when we were in Florida) before wandering over the river and checking out the London Eye as we had booked to have a ride on it the following day. We also  finally find where all the eating places are (in the past I had bemoaned the lack of restaurants around theatre-land). We had always headed to Leicester square and made our way to Covent Garden but it seems all the eateries are on the other side where we had never walked before. Now we know and will be having lots of gastronomic choices next time we are up. I was a bit disappointed that there didn't seem to be anything going on to celebrate May Day. I had thought the place would be full of morris men and may fairs but it may as well not have been a bank holiday. Oh well.

We had no idea what Kinky Boots was about having chosen a musical at random, but it was really good, some fantastic singing and we had a wonderful evening. 

After a Full English the next morning at the hotel, we followed up with a stroll through the sunshine, over Waterloo Bridge back to the London Eye. We walked along the river for a bit and had a drink in a pop up open theatre/bar. 

It was only when we joined the queue for the London Eye that Martin spotted we had booked the tickets for the previous day. I had bought them on the 2for1 railway deal online and had had trouble with the site timing out. At one time I had spotted it had changed our booking time but did not notice it had changed my chosen booking date!!! Martin, who had not been on the Eye before and was looking forward to it, decided we would stay in line and bluff our way on.  Surprisingly our tickets scanned, no one noticed the date and they didn't even check we had rail tickets to confirm the 2for1 deal. So Martin got his ride 

and really enjoyed the views. 

Our trip did not finish there though as we had decided to pop over to Camden Market for a look around there. The contrast between Camden (North London) and the West End was very noticeable and from quiet strolls along the river bank to the vibrant and colourful Camden High Street was an exciting shock to the system. I was fasinated by the decorated shops. 

The market was huge and like a rabbit warren, we aimlessly wandered up and down various alleyways, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells. Although we had hoped to find a watch for Martin we eventually only ended up buying a new hat for me! 

I reckon we walked around 8 miles in the two days so exhausted but having had a really good time, we returned home. More celebrations to come.