Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mistletoe and wine

We had a lovely family day at mum and dad's, opening all our pressies, playing games (especially Kelly's new band equipment for the x-box! and stuffing ourselves silly. Dinner was really scrummy and tons of it. I think the table favours with the alphabet letters in them that I had made went down ok - the kids spent some time making rude words with the letters which wasnt the real intent but kept them happy.

Here is what I was lucky enought to get:

From n(if I get it mixed up then I apologise but then I am def. doddery LOL)

6 distress stickles
6 alcohol inks

Santuary smellies
some christmas cookie cutters
a funky pair of pink poker dot boot style slippers

Mum and Dad
A set of hair straighteners
Dawn French's book Hellow Fatty

Who's in the Bag game
PC game Barrow Hill
A cuttlebug embossing folder

More stuff to follow but have to go get some food ready for Laura and Wayne who are coming over this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oom pa pa oom pa pa

Yesterday I fgot an early morning emergency phone call from Mum. Today was the day they had told the butcher they would like to pick up the turkey (He is doing a rolled turkey breast for us all) but dad had been violently sick all night so she needed a lift to go collect it. Mind it wasnt a bad thing for me because it actually got me out of the house to post out the last of the christmas cards and get the last bits of shopping.

Then Laura came over to dye my hair (not so keen on this colour, its darker than I normally have but I am sure I will get used to it) and to have our Christmas bake in. Mind she had a streaming cold and was struggling so we only got half the normal amount cooked.

We had been tossing up whether to go to Canterbury Catherdrale of Howfield manor to sing carols. The Cathedral by far the better setting, was due to start at 7 but was on a first come first served basis and was bound to be crowded. It would mean arriving well before the doors opened at 6 and then standing in the cold, with no guarentee we would get in.

Howfield Manor, where Laura is having her wedding, would give us another opportunity to see how they ran events, and had the added advantage of a full brass band to sing to. The worry was that they may not have advertised it that well and we would be the only ones singing.

Both a bit of a gamble, in the end we opted for Howfield. We need not have worried about having to sing solo. There was standing room only!!Mind the band took up quite a bit of space with their brass instruments. There really is nothing like a brass band for playing Carols, and it was extreemly well organised. We even had some members of the Canterbury Choir there giving us a few tunes. We had mulled wine from the bar (wouldnt have got that at the catherdral!) and there was a raffle in aid of the Pilgrim's Hospice. Laura bought me a strip of tickets and I won, 3 bottles of locally produced apple juice (normal, spiced and mixed with raspberry) in a brilliant wine bottle baggie. Laura took the raspberry tinted one to test as she fancies the red for her wedding.

The only downside was that the room had not been decorated - the rest of the house had, and looked amazing, but not the conference room where we were so the 'christmassy atmosphere' was a bit lacking. Most of the folk there were going off for the £6 a head buffet in the other room so I think the better part of the decorating was in there. We had a good time though and will be attempting to get to a few more of the events the new owners have planned.

My secret santa bought to me ..

Day 6 A white signo pen
Day 7 Some Anita's ribbon
Day 8 Oops sorry santa, I forgot to write it down.
Day 9 7 Gypsies rub ons
Day 10 A whole bar of You to Me Belgium choc
Day 11 A catseye ink pad (warm red)
Day 12 some georgeous doodlebug striped grosgrain ribbon
Day 13 A packet of foam squares
Day 14
packet of BG swirly rub ons
Day 15
Three red crochet flowers - BG ones at that!
Day 16
A set of Scenic Route 'Jargon' alpha rub ons
Day 17 A
glittery silk butterfly
Day 18
Some PM chipboard winter/christmas bellies, all shabby and in blues and browns.
Day 19 S
ome iron-on s.e.i. art.
Day 20
A daisyd roll on stitch tape
Day 21
I got a matching tree decoration to the Joy one I got earlier.
Day 22
Dome cityscapes cotton art tabs in browns and blues
Day 23
More 7 gypsies stuff, some Memories stickers
Day 24 A lovely folk art wooden father christmas decoration.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The other half of the alphabet

Well there is no way I am going to get the pages done but for those of you who may still want them, here are the prompts for the rest of the pages in the Christmas alphabet journal:

M is for

Mince pies,
Mulled wine,
Midnight mass,

N is for

Nativity plays,
new year,
Naughty or nice,
North pole

O is for

Our visitors/guests/presents (bit of a cop out that one)
Opening presents
Over eating

P is for


Q is for

Queens speech


Quince (bush, jelly, fruit)
Quizzes (and other silly christmas games e.g charades)
Questions (in crackers)

Quality street chocs

R is for

Recycling (christmas cards,)

Reading (of christmas story),


Rudloph Radio times

S is for







Silent night,





T is for








Tiredness trips


Twelth night



Last few to come tomorrow!

Just remembered

that I have a blog and really should be keeping up with it.

I would say its all the hussle and bussle of getting ready for christmas but that would not be very true as I have done just about everything needed to be done apart from the baking which Laura and I are doing together tomorrow. I guess the real reason is that life is just not really exciting enuough at the mo. Although .....

Sunday I took a trip down to Margate to look in the Craft Central in Wyvale garden centre. I've not been there before, and now, on very short notice the whole company has shut down, so there were huge discounts to be had, so all those posting on UKS were saying. Armed with directions from multi-map off I went.

I was a bit nervous because in the past, any times in fact, when Kelly was a babe, I would pack her in the car, pick up my mum from work and go off to Ramsgate in search of the market. We would start our journey full of enthusiasm and a long shopping list, only to get lost on the isle of Thanet. Because once there, every single road seemed to be the same and there are an awful lot of roads over there. Eventually Kelly would be car sick and we would give up and come home. Why am I retelling all this? Because the Wyevale is built on the very site that the market used to stand on!! And once more I very nearly didnt find it, as my multi-map instructions were far from accurate, missing out the final turn off into the road where the shop is.

I am glad I did find it, because what a bargin I managed to nab. I had lost hope in getting my electronic die cutting machine, not being fussed on if it was a robo or a cricut, as my birthday money had fallen a long way short of even a second hand model, and with supply work short on the grounds bills are taking priority at the moment. But they were selling the ex-demo model for £75!!! Well over less than half price of a new one!

Today I have been playing with my trial copy of design studio and sure-cuts-a-lot and have made some funky named labels for the place settings I am doing for the christmas table. I need to save up now for the full software and for a new mat as the demo one is rather tired. But wow! What a bargin! One happy little bunny here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Journal L- m

L is for


Lists lists and more lists,


'Lords a leapin''

I have always loved lights, I think my earliest memory of looking at pretty lights was when I was probably about 2 or 3 years old, when we lived on the Isle of Sheppy but would go on the train to visit my Nan who lived in Rainham. Probably to detract me from being bored or to keep me from falling asleep on the way home mum would direct me to 'look at all the lights' out of the train window, and there would be all the houses lit up on a dark winter's evening, flashing past the train window.
Mum was always making up games to keep Kevin and I occupied when we were walking (did a lot of that when I was young) or in Dad's sidecar, and at Christmas one of the favourite ones was counting the Christmas trees.My brother would have one side of the road, and I the other and the competition was on to see who could count the most decorated and lit up trees on our way home. Display trees didnt count, they had to be in peoples homes and had to have lights on. We still play it now!
Of course when I was smaller, unlike now where Christmas lights are plentiful and cheap to buy, it was practically unheard of to have more than one string of fairy lights, and they were put away from year to year, bought out early in December, untangled and then ages were spent attempting to find the one blown bulb and then hunting high and low for a replacement. It drives Martin mad that I prefer to go through 240 light bulbs rather than spend £4.99 on a new set, or that I spend most of half a day after twelth night carefully slotting the lights into those little plastic packaging racks and storing them back in their boxes.
Fairy lights make Christmas for me, and although I dont like these houses that go over the top and anything goes however garish, I am a fan of simplicity. Which is why I was so dissappointed last year and this year saw me driving along our road punching the air in happiness. The bungalow at the end of the road had a large extension and at the end of it, they put out their christmas lights out. All white, icicle lights along the roof eaves and white reindeer pulling a sleigh on the flat roof above the door. It was simplicty, but beautiful. .They did the same display for 3 years and then the reindeer dissappeared. I was so sad, but then this week I passed and the reindeer were back!!! Silly but it really made me smile.

M is for

Mince pies,

Mulled wine,
Midnight mass,


Monday, December 15, 2008

Lots of crafting

Last minute Christmas card (there were more but the photo I took is blurred and they are all in envelopes now) :

Hero arts stamp and lots of Ranger distress ink, and stickles glitter

Free digi kit, quickcutz snowflake, nestabilities small scallop circles, more glitter.

My white twig:

I told of how when we were smaller mum would go out and get a twig, paint it white and hang bits on it? Martin and I went to the woods last week on the way back from dropping my car of at the garage for its annual service to look for pine cones and a suitable twig. You would think that in a whole wood full of twiggy type trees for copicing, there would be one twig that was somewhere near right? It took us ages to find one even half twiggy enough and we got very muddy into the bargin, to say nothing of freezing cold because neither of us had coats. We did see a couple of woodpeckers though which was a treat.

Anyway finally with our twig (and a couple of larger stand by branches) we came home and I painted and glittered it.

I also forgot to blog about our trip a week ago last sunday to buy a couple of Poinsettia plants. Every year a nursery out at Staple hold what is now called a poinsettia walk. We first went about 7 or 8 years ago, as it was quite a lovely event. You could walk round the whole nursery but the focus was on the greenhouses full of every posible variety of poinsettia.

The local lions sold gifts, food produce and run the refreshments, carols and christmas songs were played and lots of local people went, There was a great atmosphere.

Over the years though, the nursery has made it a more commercial rather than 'Christmas' event, put on more open days and in general it has not been as good. Last year we didnt bother to go, but the plants my mum got from Tesco didnt last anywhere near as long or look as good, so this year off we went again.

You couldnt fault the choice ....

or so it would seem.

These ones are all destined for decorations for Ford car show rooms or Saga offices. This is where the Lions held their refreshments in past years.

These are also all booked out to go to supermarkets and couldnt be bought by the general public.

The Lions were relegated to the greenhouse out the back and the gifts and such were for the profit of the nursery not the benifit of charity as they had been in the past.

This small greenhouse was where all the ones for sale were.

And there were no songs, no music, no atmosphere, just a commercial enterprise. So sad that it has become nothing more than a means to make money. I came home and got my plant in Morrison.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Its beginning to look a lot like..

Actually its been looking like Christmas in my house for two weeks now, but look I got a wiget christmas tree on my blog! Never had a wiget before, and I am so excited I managed to get it on correctly first time out!.

I usually go pretty overboard with decorations but this year I rather fancied a more homespun folk art type of affair and so things are a tad toned down (yeah I am getting older and am fed up with spending a week putting up the stuff from the 6 large boxes of decs and then another complete day packing away and tidying).

The biggest change is that we dont have a live tree this year, they were just getting far too expensive and worse were only lasting a short time before ending up as brown twigs standing in a heap of pine needles.

Being smaller, the fake one now gives me the option of sorting out all my decorations by colour and colour coding the tree as I need far fewer baubles to make a show.
Being short I struggle with ceiling chains, and these are becoming a rarity in the shops anyway, so since Martin has to put them up, and has been working really hard at the store this year, I decided not to bother with those either.

I've even gone minimalistic on the wrapping, but I did get out my ribbon shedding kit and spent quite a while on the decorations on them.

So having abandoned most of the traditional things I went the whole hog and did NOT put up all the old stuff - its still in the box!!
And you know? I'm not too dissappointed with the look? In fact I am quite happy with it, and far less exhausted so can actually enjoy them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Journal J - K

J is for

Joyeux noel

K is for:

Kris Kringle
Killjoys (Bah Humbug!)
Kith and kin (friends and family for the non-scotlanders! )
Kinks (as in strings of fairy lights just got out the attic)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas journal I

I knew it was worth doing the journal prompts and stories on here. I have had an email from my eldest reminding me that I didnt cut the eye holes in the Mr Blobby suit and so her sister fell over the coffee table at my mum's house when she tried it on. I didnt actually forget to cut the holes, I left them until the hood was on so that I could get them in the right place, but in her eagerness to rush upstairs and show her grandad what she looked like as Mr Blobby Laura didnt wait, and tried to walk with her eyes shut and her hands out in front of her. The coffee table was low down so she missed seeing it, although she didnt miss walking into it!

I is for:


Incidents, we have had a few.
There was the year the boys persuaded June to join them down the pub instead of staying in to watch over the Christmas lunch cooking. They managed to hit the jackpot on the one armed bandit so by the time I turned up to spend Christmas tea time with them, they were all somewhat drunk, dinner was just that minute being served, and June, slightly under the weather, had to spend the rest of the day laying on her bed.
The Christmas morning we spent cuddling my dog waiting for the vet to come and give her a gold injection for her arthritus.
The Christmas afternoon after I had a huge row with my dad, when my mum actually sent Martin back home as he arrived at the door for his tea and presents because she had grounded me.
Or even the year we nearly had no lunch because Martin (who traditionally cooks Christmas lunch since I do every other part of Christmas) had spent the entire morning trying to get the wheel nuts off some old dear's car. She had got a punture driving out of her driveway and my hero went to the rescue.

Alternative Tim's tags

I have much admired the tags Tim Holtz hash been showcasing his techniques on, both thishe Christmas and this, but I have very very limited 'Sir Tim' supplies and at this time of year little hope of affording all that would be needed to update my 5 distress inkpads and bottle of glossy accents to acheive his 'look'. OK I lie, I also have one large tub of UTEE, a bottle of crackle accents and 2 small much used squares of 'wet and dry' foam, but I still dont think that is going to cut it?

I am pleased that lots of the techniques he is showing this year can be achieved (although not on such a great scale) using alternative products. For instance, the first tag uses a Ranger mask which I did attempt by cutting a post-it note to use as a mask. The result would have worked if I had thought a little more about the scale of my mask and cut it a little smaller, but at least I could join in and play.

My best achievement though is this card.

It uses tag 7 as its inspiration.

I started by using my culozzle and circle template to make the snowman out of chipboard. linking three different sizez of circles together. I mixed some white acylic paint (Reeves) and equal parts of Ranger crackle accents, I covered the snowman in a thick layer. Heating it with my heat gun caused it to bubble and blister so I put it to one side to dry and then coated it with more crackle accents.

I followed Tim's instructions to make the rest although obviously cutting out of chipboad and not grungeboard. The hat is sponged with versimark black ink as I dont have a black distress ink.

I also followed Tim's guide on the background, its a reddy wintery sunset colour as I only have red and brown hues in my repetoir and the snowflakes are a Anita's stamp.

The SNOW word, I used Heidi Swapp chipboard lemonade, these were white so I gently peeled off the white layer, inked with Fired Brick dress ink and then embossed with Stampin' stuff Red Dragon embossing powder which is a glitter powder. The snow, rather than mix up Tim's recipe I actually had. I think it came from Baker Ross - I have had it many years.

There are a few other techniques I think I can reproduce from my existing supplies - watch this space.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Journal G-H

The brilliant thing about this journal is that it is dip in, dip out and ongoing so there is no presure to keep up on a daily basis. In fact there are still some holes in mine even though I thought I did pretty well last year. So even if you haven't started yet, there is still time to do just a few of the letters and worry about the gaps next year :)

G is for:

Greenery (but remember we still have holly and tree to come)

Last years entry for me was 'gifts' I mentioned in passing The Big Red Fun Bus in A's journalling, here is the story in full.

I think the Big Red Fun Bus was probably the start of those years in the '80's when suddenly demand outweighed supply and toys became harder to track down. We did our best, Dad queuing before work for a Tamagotchi, pogs sent over from America and of course the BUS.
Mum and I went to Bromley South on the train to get all our gifts that year. I had been looking for the bus since Laura had wanted one when it was first advertised back in November but with no luck. So when we say it in the very last department store we went in, I just had to get it then. Can you imagine, this thing in its box was huge, plus mum had seen some cheap net curtains and decided to buy a house worth of them which we also had to carry back on the train along with all our other purchases. The other passengers weren't too pleased I can tell you but the look on Laura's face when she got her Christmas gift was priceless.

H is for



Hearth is in there because I want to do a page on my fireplace decorated for Christmas!

I am discovering there are heaps of things I should have taken pictures of through the years and am so sad that I didnt. I couldnt find one single photo of a christmas cake yesterday - 50 years of cakes and not 1 photo!!!
I actually went for Holy last year as I had already done c three times and wanted to write about singing Carols round the Christmas tree so it was entitiled Holy, Holy, Holy as in the song.

Christmas Journal D-F

D is for:


Deck the hall,
Dressing up

One of the reasons I learnt to sew was because it was way cheaper to make the girls dresses when they were younger than it was to buy them and with only one salary supporting all four of us, every penny saved counted. So it was no surprise that I soon started making dressing up outfits for their Christmas stockings as well. Mind you it wasnt all monitary reasoning. The first time dressing up gear made it to the stockings was when Kelly wanted a fairy costume. Unlike now when you can buy umpteen Walt Disney Bella or Cinderalla ballgowns for kids, or any mannor of leaotards with beautiful tutu's and angel wings attached, back in the mid eighties, children's fairy costumes were very hard to find. I searched high and low before ending up night after night surrounded in a pile of cheap net, sequins and elestic.

After that they became pirates, witches (complete with horrible warty black fingers with long green nails) nurses, and a whole host of other characters, and I got pretty good at raiding charity shops for stuff to convert into outfits. The two outstanding years when Santa excelled though was one, the Mr Blobby outfit, made from an old pink dressing gown, with large felt spots glued onto it, and which came complete with a full 'head' that the poor girls had to put over themselves completely, and even better, two, the Turtles-in-a-half-shell outfit. The pattern was in a woman's own mag, and a complete shell was made and stuffed and then somehow had to be tied onto the girls backs. I'm not sure the girls were that impressed as they didnt have them on for very long (mind they could just have been very uncomfortable LOL) but the one year Santa didn't include a dressing up costume caused quite a few moans and complaints so the following year it was back to the sewing machine for this elf..

E is for:

Eve (christmas)

I have actually managed quite a few photos over the years of us eating our christmas dinner, dad always wanted one to send to his brother in Aussie land and it was about the one time we were all sat in one place on the day. Last year I also thought to take a photo of the spread for boxing day. So there are a few ideas to be going on with - but what about a list of those fav. christmas films you enjoy, or an inventory of your day, a review of fine wines you will be offering at the table this year. a recipe or two? Or what is the thing you enjoy most about the day, the run up, the season?

Last year I journalled about entertainment. TV is banned at Christmas so we try to make sure we get a now board game each year to play after tea. Mind you its getting harder and harder to find one we don't already have, can play with dad (with him being deaf and all) or that Ollie doesn't win hands down. Oh and that doesn't have complicated rules that only I understand as I tend to end up in tears if the others dont play fair!

F is for:

Father christmas,

This year when I manage to catch some time, I am going to do a page on all the tradition food we seem to have. There are certain foodstuffs that are not necessarily traditional but that I always have to buy for the christmas season (and I am very upset that I cant find any cheesy footballs this year).

One of my past entries is Family for Christmas - Christmas day, family day and down to my mum and dad's house. The girls prefer to go there b ecause the house is bigger with a 20 ft long lounge so lots of spreading out space. Kelly's fiance joins us although the pair have to go visit his Nan in the morning, although this year (2005) they are only coming round to open presents as they are going to Ollie's sister for a big family thing there. And Laura's going to Wayne's straight after lunch so .....
Boxing Day is usually the day we go visit our bessie friends but this year (2005) all the family are coming to me to make up for lack of Christmas day visiting.

Christmas A-ZJournal

Last year I gave prompts to all the Pad girls for an A-Z Christmas journal. It seemed to prove quite popular and I wanted to repeat it on my blog this year. Unfortunately I cant find where I have saved it (I have a ton of backup discs) but Izzy managed to find her saved prompts on a Word doc, and sent them back to me. Se hadnt saved all of the anectdotes I had added as part of my journalling, but then I thought, well thats ok because I can simply add to my own album.

Since this is the third year of journalling Christmas it is beginning to build into quite a good record of our families Christmas. So I am now trying to redo all the pages, keeping the design but using just one range of paper (Basic Grey as each year their papers are similar) to make a more cohesive album.

Although it is nearly half way to Christmas I have decided to put my prompts on my blog incase anyone else starting late wants to play too.

A is for:-

Advent calander
Advent swap!

Last year I chose Angel and wrote all about the old plastic doll wrapped in a crepe paper skirt held on by an elastic band. The year before I wrote about our special advent calender that holds slots for little pictures that build up into a full santa workshop scene, that I have had to remake for both my DD's so they can take them off to their new homes/lives but continue the traditions. My A-Z of Christmas is beginning to build up into quite a collection of christmas stories (Hey look who's just finished Jessica's Stories in Hand class LOL)

Anyway this year I have decided to go with Availability. Across the years, possibly more so since the early 80's, there has always been that one christmas toy that all the kids have wanted. I have quite a few interesting tales of poor DH queueing (well I wasnt getting up to stand out in the cold.) The 5.30 am scramble for tamagotchas (and we needed two!), the search for a Big Red Fun Bus that took us to Croydon and had to be lugged back on the train, The Turtles in a half shell anything year when I told my two they were common and everyone wanted that so be different and think of something else (can you beleive they fell for it?) But I think my favourite story is the one from my own childhood.

Everyone who was anyone was getting Trolls (the first time round, the original ones). Along with Gonks, each month a different troll character was released. My cousin (who got everything new going as soon as it hit the shops) had every one. I just wanted one, but I knew they were too expensive for my parents to buy me one. On christmas morning however I woke up to not one but 5 tiny tiny little trolls. Ok they were made in tiwain knock offs and even more dissappointing they had no hair. But my mum sat and (now dont laugh) cut the feathers off the dog's tail and used the dog hair to dress up my tiny trolls. I knew my mum could see my dissappoinment at not getting a real troll, although she had tried her best on her budget. Fast forward 25 years to another christmas and there was an extra present on my pile. Yes,m 3 original trolls. Mum had seen them in a boot fair and remembering how sad I had been all those years back had bought them for me and wrapped them up.

B is for:

Buying presents,
Brussel sprouts,
Branch (see why below)
(and in our house) Box, because we always 'get christmas out the box' when we get our decs out the attic.

Last year I wrote about the special bauble I put on the tree to remember my brother who is no longer with us.

I want to revive an old tradition that used to happen in my house when we were children. Nowadays you can actually see white branches for sale in the shops but one of our traditions was to go out in the fields and scrubby tree land around my house and find a reasonable branch or set of twigs. When we got them home we would help to 'paint' them white (usually with the stuff that came in a tube for cleaning white pumps) and then we would stand it in a milk bottle and decorate it with either sweets from the quality street tin or with home made silver foil bells, and a few left over baubles from the tree. It would then stand in our window or on the kitchen sill.

I thought as a child that this was something every one did to decorate their home but I havent managed to find anything else about doing this on the net or in any christmas book so it would be interesting to know if anyone else did this.

C is for:

Christmas cake,
Cranberry sauce,

So far my journal covers cakes, cards and christingle but can't understand why I haven't gone for chocolate yet.
We always had a tin of Roses whilst DH's family always had a tin of Quality street. Now mum and I wait until the 2 for one deal comes along and then have half a tin of each. DH's mum always had a chocolate orange, while DH always has walnut wips (milk choc vanilla - and boy are they becoming hard to find). The girls always buy DH a toberone. Oh and the year Santa bought the Roundtree choc selection box instead of the Cadbury ones caused both girls to complain very strongly insisting that Santa only deals in Cadbury!

On the

6th day of christmas my Secret Santa sent to me a white gel pen
7th day of christmas my Secret Santa sent to me two reels of christmas ribbon
8th day of christmas my Secret Santa sent to me a wooden heart to decorate and alter
9th day of christmas my Secret Santa sent to me Some 7 Gypsies rub ons.
10th day of christmas my Secret Santa sent to me a whole bar of Me to You Belguim chocolate.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

What the Dickens?

Sorry still no crafty stuff to share - I havent had time to do much unless you count attempting to change the date on 30 odd Save the Date cards now that Wayne and Laura have reset the wedding venue and date.

But lots has been happening anyway.

Eversince the girls were babies, mum and I have have had a day out on our own Christmas shopping. When small, we left dad with the kids for the day, and would go to some town that we never usually shopped in, have coffee and lunch out, lots of girlie chat, and get most if not all of our christmas presents together.

This year, we have managed to get all but a few oddments online, (good old Amazon and play) so it didnt look like we would get our day out. With all the pressure of shopping out the way I wanted to enjoy all the christmas and seasonal events though.

Living in South East Kent part of its call to fame is that Charles Dicken's was born, wrote and set most of his books in the local area, and to celebrate one of the christmas events is a full Dicken's day festival held in Rochester. Martin and I took the girls once but it was soooo very crowded, along very narrow streets, plus the snow machine had broken down and we were too little to see anything, so Martin was reluctant to go again. This year I was determined though, even though I couldnt persuade anyone else other than mum to come too.

So a bit more organised I downloaded the program of the day's events and off we set. Wanting to get just one or two more presents we decided to stop in Chatham rather than Rochester and walk from there - I used to go to school in Chatham and we walked to Rochester cathedral for our Carol concert so I was sure I remembered it as not very far. We managed to park next to the pentagon shopping centre, and the only blip was that we fed enough money into the parking machine for five hours only to recieve a ticket for 1 hour. It cost a bit more for another ticket but with that sorted, and our Chatham shopping done we set off for the festival.

It was further than I remembered, maybe because we hadnt been able to park nearer (free bays having been changed to permits only) or maybe because I was remembering the distance through many years but despite that the weather was crisp and sunny, mum and I laughed as we walked and soon arrived. We headed off to find somewhere to eat. There were lots of street vendors selling soup, hotdogs, and burgers, even one doing noodles and chinese but we wanted our traditional meal out. Trouble was everywhere was full to capacity. We managed to get into the Gordan Hotel though were we enjoyed a full roast dinner and blackberry jam sponge with custard. It took a while as the kitchen originally lost our order but it was very yummy.

We then spend a few hours wandering in and out of the craft and antique shops that abound in Rochester, listened to the hand bell ringers, sang with the chimney sweeps and then stood in the crowd to watch the lamplight procession of those dressed in full Dicken's costumes, Mr Bumble, Christmas past and present, dog catchers, lamplighters, rich gentlemen and fine ladies. There was a very large crowd huddled together in the narrow highstreet, but there was a huge comeraderie, and we all chatted and joked to complete strangers as we waited.

The stewards handed out carol sheets and then the crowd surged towards the catherdral where the Carol singing took place. The snow machine threw mock blizzards at us, the lights sparkled, huge screens also showed up the words to the songs. The 'Dicken's characters' led us in the singing and took the descant parts. It was really wonderful .... except by this time poor mum, who suffers from poor circulation in her legs, was in some discomfort from cramp/pins and needles and needed to sit down. So we had to leave before the end, and caught the bus back to the car.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent swap

I thought I was so organised and ready for fact 3 weeks with no work had given me time to get everything done and down to a fine art. BUT then, just when I wanted to put the decs up, and finish the last bit of christmas gift shopping, I get not one but three days of work on the trot. And while I am not complaining, since I do enjoy teaching, and the money is pretty useful at this time of year, it has rather messed up my preparation.

So I still have to go get all my stuff ready for both the stocking swap and the christmas scrapkit swap running on the pad. And I also realised I have not been recording what my wonderful Santa in the Pad advent swap has been giving me.


Day One a set of thickers
Day Two a tube of gormet jelly beans
Day Three a tube of blue buttons by papermania
Day Four a gold 'joy' christmas decoration
Day Five some studio g stamps

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

So much to blog and

so little time.

Just as I want to get my christmas decorations up, finish off my cards, wrap my presents and buy those last few gifts, after 3 weeks of no work, I finally get some! Today I had planned to give Martin heaps of jobs on his day off, and I was off out with mum and dad to the pointsettia walk at the nursery at Staple, on to the farm shop to get our christmas winter veg, and then to Westward cross to nab those last few things on my present list. Not to be as I got a last minute supply teacher request.

I have got quite a bit done already though, most of the decorations are up, despite being ill asleep in bed all of sunday. And all but a few things have been bought and wrapped already. My cards are all but made, addressed and ready to be posted.

A good thing really as wedding plans are also creating a list of things to do. Laura and Wayne have spent two weeks searching for and buying Laura a new car, that turned up on Friday so with that out of the way, they set to getting the problem of the venue sorted out. We took a trip out to the re-opened Howfield Manor, a place I had taken Laura to way back when we first started looking, only to be dissappointed as it had gone into the hands of the recievers. Apparently they re-opened in January though but had not really advertised, so we were lucky to discover a small advert for christmas parties which got us back over there.

Both Wayneand Laura love it. The only trouble is that their date is already booked, but they are so in love with the place that they have talked to the vicor and moved the date of the wedding back a week. Goodie more time to diet!

So with that sorted Laura then wanted to go to the local wedding shop to look at gowns as they were having a sale. Not to give too much away but she got a beautiful dress for a bargin price, and there is no worry about having to wait for it to be made in time as it is already there and just needing a few slight alterations.

That leaves shoes, veil, jewelry, mens suits, bridesmaid dresses, cars, cake, flowers, presents, honeymoon, my outfit ......... oh heck!

Kelly took another exam and feels she has done well but wont know until february. She has another exam next week.