Friday, August 19, 2011

Catch up 3 Phones and flowers

On Wednesday throughout the summer Martin plays in a golf competition which means that een if it is his day off we can never go out far. The wednesday of his holiday was no exception, but I was surprised when he said he wanted a trip into Canterbury.

Turns out he wanted to go into the 3G shop to find out if his phone contract was ready for an upgrade.
It was, and not only that they could give him a discount on his contract if he took out a second hand set for me.

Now upgrading me has always been a problem because I have always been on PAYG and typically last August I put £10 on it, I still have £3 on it!! Yeah I admit, I am billy-nomates. But I really did want to join the smartphone set and it wasnt hard to pursuade me that £25 a month for 2 Samsung galaxy mini's with god alone knows how many free minutes, texts and internet access was worth it.

Of course with Martin being computer illiterate and my last upgrade being just after the start of the millenium, using them was always going to be a steep learning curve, but Laura came over and got us started, and we have been playing with our new toys eversince.

The carpets were put down on thursday, I cant get over how quick the guys were, two carpets down in under an hour and a half!

Kelly's fish tank had arrived and needed transporting to her house, but with the riots at the weekend (did I mention them, well its all over the web. The little row of shops a the end of Kelly's road was torched) Olli who is in charge of co-ordinating Sainsbury's emergency peoples was on nights making it difficult to pick a day to take it up. However he had quickly been changed back to days when they discovered how much they missed his brilliance on days and we were invited up for dinner on Friday.

Since Kelly didnt get home until 7 we decided to take in a visit to RHS Wisley for the day and then back track to Croydon afterwards.
It had taken us the best part of the the morning to make all these decisions, and to pack a picnic (we remembered from Harlow Carr just how hard getting food and drink in their gardens was) and to get there.

It was so worth it though.
As you walk in, you are greeted to a wonderfully preserved Tudor house (used as offices now) and a beautiful formal water feature with borders stuffed to the brim with summer flowers.

The place is huge, we picniced on the huge lawn, and then we wandered around all the various sections for 5 and a half hours and still only saw a portion of each part of the garden. There was a large proportion of mums pushing strollers visiting the gardens, and I have to say that considering the problems at the weekend with unruly children and teens terrorising the country, it restored our faith to see just how brilliantly well behaved every single child in the park was. The lake was full of ghost carp and huge golfish. I have seen big kio carp before but its the first time ever I have seen them actually attacking the ducks to get to the food.

The greenhouse was vast and housed a temperate zone, a dry zone and my favourites, a large variety of hibiscous.

Then there was the rockery garden, the rose garden that extended for as far as the eye coould see, the veggie garden (we whipped round that quick as it looked like rain) the alphine greenhouses ..... the list goes on and on.

Finally exhausted with our little leggies unable to walk anymore, we braved the M25 in rush hour back to Kelly's for our dinner.

She had decided on a takeaway dinner from the local harvester, and the good news was that Ollie was going to be home in time to join us. Our plans were foiled though when the Harvester staff informed us they were not doing take-outs as they didnt have any take-out boxes!! Poor Kez had to scrabble about in the fridge and make us a delish meal from nothing. Good ol' Kezzy!

And she was pleased with her fish tank, we were pleased with our day out!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Catch up 2, A day trip to spend money.

Brighton beach

I spent yesterday giving the hall and stairs a coat of paint. This is not an easy task for a 5ft nothing person, and there is still a small patch where the full drop on the staircase is that will need Martin's longer arms and legs to reach, but I am pleased with the results. I slightly lighter shade (almond white instead of peach white) makes it brighter and a darn sight more clean looking (it was last painted in 2005)

So back to my blogging catch up.

On the second week of Martin's holiday I had thought we could throw the list of jobs aside and go out for days, but before I knew it, I was booked to accompany Finley and Laura on their first visit to the Healthvisitor's clinic, we needed to stay in for a delivery of a fish tank (for Kelly's birthday present from Ollie) and we had another day to stay in when the carpets were to be fitted. Adding in the afternoon of golf that Martin regularly plays on Wednesday afternoons through the summer it didnt leave that much time for long days out. I had asked to go to Brighton though, because even though its only an hour and three quarters journey away I had never actually been. I lie, I had been once with Mum and Dad, but he had been unable to find a parking place so he had turned round and come home again.

Veiw of Brighton pier as we went to park

We didnt set out that early on the Monday morning so it was getting on for mid day by the time we arrived at the sea front. We think we might have made a mistake in our choice of parking because we didnt discover until we got into the multistory that they were charging £2.50 an hour and that the car park belonged to a hotel (which was probably why they were able to charge so much) but we were already in so would have had to pay the first hour even if we had driven straight out. It was close to the Pier and the Lanes though.

Its been a while since we had been out doing the day at the beach thing, you kind of take it for granted when the sea front is 3 mins walk from your front door, but we were stunned by the price of ice-creams (£1.85 for a cone) doughnuts (£12.50 for 12) and didnt even go there with the prices of candy floss, chips, and other beachy fare.

Entrance to the pier

The walk along the pier was lovely but soooo expensive if you wanted to eat or go on any rides. I dont know how families with children manage?

Martin watching the rides

Fish and chips eaten in the fish restaurant was £9.50 each so we walked back down the pier and crossed the road to Harry Ramsdens.

Fed up with the wind, we took our fish meal across to the little park and sat on the grass watching the dolphin water fountain and ate while fending off sea gulls. We enjoyed that, it was quite peaceful and gave us time to collect our thoughts and decide where to go next.

Dolphin waterfall, very refreshing if you get caught downwind in the spray.

We walked up to Brighton Palace, and then all round it because there is no gate in at the front.

In front of Brighton Palace

It has a really nice garden if you ignore the drunks hidden in the bushes, but there was nothing to tell us either the price of entering the Palace or what we were likely to see if we went in. We didnt bother with the inside and just enjoyed the architecture from the outside.

I had downloaded a tour of the Lanes at home but had left it in the car. It was a document produced by the Tourist Information so we went in there next to grab another copy. I was stunned when they charged us 50p for it, when it had been a free download. Mmm expensive paper and printing ink I suspect. Anyway we set off to follow the pathway that was supposed to show us the best of the places in the Lanes area.

I was expecting lots of second hand, antique and shabby chic crafty type shops. I was so disappointed. What we got, between all the coffee shops and cafes was shop after shop after shop of jewelery shops. I think we pasted only 1 crafty type shop and I also have to say I suspect the TI route took us away from the shops and concentrated more on the arcitecture of some pretty poorly designed buildings.

We had had enough. We concluded that we didnt really like Brighton much, it was expensive, the beach wasnt up to much and it wasnt even that interesting. We redeemed our car (£7.50 in fees by now), looked at the sorry state of our wallets, and headed off to take the long coast road route home.

As we were going along we managed to get behind an open top tour bus. Martin was amused by the advert on the back of it considering its destination, and thought hop on, hop off wasnt really a good choice of slogan.

I had never been to Beachyhead so we followed the bus as it took its detour. It was beautiful countryside and I really would have loved to go see the cliffs (even though the heights terrify me, but I am guessing that Sussex council must think they need to fleece every visitor for as much as they can because once again they charged a high toll just to park in a layby!!!

The detour took over an hour, and with the coast route being so long it took us nearly 4 hours to get home. We did have a good day out but have come to the conclusion it is no wonder most people go off to Spain and such for their holidays. This country is just far too expensive to enjoy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 weeks worth to catch up - part 1

I have a long list of craft stuff I want to share, but I am going to do that in a seperate post as I need to dredge my memory first to get down all the things we have been up to in the last few weeks.

Aside from the big news of our Finley's arrival the other important thing that has happened is that my long term assignment as Children's centre teacher may have come to an end or at the very least my hours will be cut from 4 days to 2.5 days a week. Although I hated the travelling I did enjoy many aspects of the job and the people I worked with are amongst the best. I wont know until September if I still have hours but fingers crossed that I do.

Anyway summer holidays are in full swing now and jobs are not something I am thinking of until term starts. As usual with most teachers, the first week of my summer was spent doing all the house type stuff I have not been able to do while working. The house was unbelievably dirty so a solid week of washing down shelves, sorting out drawers, cutting down overgrown shrubs in the garden, ensued (as well as a couple of visits to see my grandson.)

For the past two weeks Martin has been on his annual summer leave too. We hadnt planned to go away this year as I wanted to stay close for Laura in her early weeks as a new mum, not that there has been any need as she is being a terrific mummy and is coping well.

we decided on the spur of the moment because the weather was so lovely we starting with a BBQ for our new addition and parents, Of course this meant we had to rush out to find BBQ food and although we had fancied fish, neither Morrisons, Tesco or even Whitstable harbour had any sardines left, so it was back to the old staples of sausages, burgers and chicken.

Finley watches the bbq, one day this will be his job!

Not impressed he takes a while to settle (and a lot of cuddles into the bargin, result for nan!)

There was a whole long list of little jobs that Martin needed to do during his hols, and our first task was a trip to Ikea to buy a cot and other goodies to finish some of these jobs. Martin doesnt mind too much as he gets to have the cheapo Ikea breakfast. We spent a fair amount of money on a new cot and mattress for the nursery, cushions, lights and other bits and pieces. I wasnt impressed that the woman in the fabric department was getting an earbashing as we walked through. Turns out she had been letting the department run down and was not very well stocked up. This meant I could not get the fabric I needed to finish off the conservatory as I needed matching plain stuff to cover the cushions with.

We finished the day off in TGI Friday, stuffing ourselves silly with the two course meal deal. I munched my way through a whole huge rib much to Martin's surprise. We then came home and put the nursery together. Photo's to come when I do my crafting post.

Our next outing inbetween doing jobs on the list was to go out and order new carpets for both the lounge and our bedroom, as both of them were filthy and on the verge of falling to bits. Martin was given the job of measuring up while I searched on the interwebby for best places to go. Sure there was a reasonable choice of shops at Westward Cross for carpet buying, we arrived, only for us to discover Martin had made a mistake in writing down his measurements. I wasnt prepared to run the risk of getting the wrong size of carpet as this could be an expensive mistake. Not only that we could only find one of the shops listed on the www. so we soon returned home to do some remeasuring.

On our second attempt we stopped off to visit Laura and Finley, and to find out where they bought their carpets from. Really fed up with the whole adventure we decided to just look around Hernebay to see what was on offer there. On only our second shop we found just what we wanted, at a price we were willing to spend, and not only that fitting was free. A really lovely man served us, and pretty soon we were all set for new carpets to be laid the following Thursday.

Wayne and Finley

I was a bit concerned that now Wayne's paternaty leave had finished, Laura wasnt getting out and about so we offered to take her and little Finley out with us to buy restocks for my fish pond, the local seagull contingent having taken most of mine for their lunch boxes. Dad had recommended a place near Sandwich so off we set. I have to say Finn wasnt that fussed, sleeping through all the sights, which in a way was a good thing. This fish centre was so run down since the last time we had visited (admittedly when the girls were a lot younger) that I couldnt believe it was the same place. What had been a whole garden of beautifully stocked ponds to wander around and enjoy was now reduced to 3 ponds, one so overgrown you could only see a small part of it, and the other two so green and full of terrapins that it was acutally unpleasant to walk around them. We also saw some lemurs locked int a shed (Martin said they could get out round the other side but I wasnt convinced) and I am sure they really needed reporting for the conditions the animals were being kept. Not only that they didnt have any fish!

Glad to get away we instead drove into Sandwich, parked up the car and took Finley for his first cup of tea and sandwich in a cafe. He was so good, and even though it was feeding time, he didnt make too much of a fuss, and certainly didnt upset any of the other customers.

Finley enjoys his first cafe lunch.

We later sat in the park eating ice cream one handed as Laura finished feeding Finley.

Watching the world go by from the buggy (Sandwich park at 23 days old)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Finley firsts

First cuddle with Aunty Kelly

First hand hold with nana. Tiny tiny fingers.

3 generations together.

Photos all taken in Finley's first week with us all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Welcome baby Finley

The most important catch up and news to go on my blog. The arrival of my very first grandson, and congratulations to Wayne and Laura.

7lbs 3 oz

I had a phone call from Wayne at around half 4 on Thursday to say that Laura had gone into labour. Reading between the lines I kinda guessed she wanted me to be there so I hopped in the car down to Ramsgate, I stayed until gone 8 pm, and all the time Laura was having contractions every three minutes, so I was more than expecting a night time phone call to say the baby had been born.

No, we had an undisturbed nights sleep so at work the next morning I was a bit aggitated that I hadn't heard anything. Finally the nursery ma
nager persuaded me to text Wayne and find out if there was any news. He immediately texted back to say they were only just taking her into the labour ward.

On tender hooks all morning, I drove the mum's at the toddler group crazy pacing round with my mobile in hand, and when a text came through just before 12am a collective breath was held as they all waited to find out what she had had, and how the new mum was. Out of luck, it was only a progress report and she was still in labour

Obviously it was going to be a long haul. Another update from from Wayne around 4 oclock, still not ready to arrive yet.

Finally at 8.10 pm Friday night, the text we had all been waiting for, after around 32 hours labour Laura had finally given birth to a little boy.

I knew visiting wasnt until 4 oclock on the Saturday and I knew Laura had no intentions of staying in, so I held my patience to meet the little lad sometime in the afternoon. Yet again circumstances dictated different. A conversation with Wayne and it seemed our new youngster was being a tad fussy as a feeder and until he had had a full meal the hospital were not disch
arging him, so instead another phone call and I was off to Ramesgate again to finally meet the new addition to the family. As I parked up I realised I was driving virtually on empty. Those who know me, know I dont do petrol so this was going to proove a bit of a problem, but I was too excited to worry about that.

Laura looked amazing for someone who had just been through such a long labour, but having established that she was fine it was time for a hug with the babe. She was trying to feed him, but although he latched on fine, he just refused to suck. Mmmm, I remember a similar problem with a small one of mine!!!

Laura and Finley both looking amazing after their ordeal.

Eventually with the use of some expressed milk, some formula and both a cup and a bottle plus a student nurse, we managed to top up the child's reserves, and then Laura was desperate to go home. Finally, first feed

The hospital on the other hand had other ideas, they said they couldn't stop her from discharging but they were not happy that he hadnt established feeding and wanted her to stay over for the night. Yet the hospital staff were run off their feet (more from lack of staff rather than lots of mummies and babies) and calling for a nurse could take over half an hour for a response. None of us could see how staying in was going to be of any practical use, and it was only stressing both Laura and the baby. Eventually we did leave but not without an emergency run to Tesco to buy formula (and petrol), a whole heck of waiting about, a bit of form filling and a promise from me to stay over the night with Wayne and Laura as moral support.

The waiting to go home had been broken up in the afternoon by a visit from Wayne's mum and dad, and since it was so late when we finally got out the hospital (half 11!!) Grandad Martin met his grandson at home, having been dragged out of bed to come over LOL

Grandad Martin getting his first hold

Welcome to the family little baby George