Friday 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, it was nice knowing you

(Image courtesy of Google images!)
Oh my, it's almost here!  The end of another year.  It's funny how celebrating New Year changes as you get older and your circumstances change. 
Before we were married we would go to a party or a disco, then when we were newly weds we decided to do something different and booked in for a weekend at Langtry Manor in Bournemouth with our good friends Denise and Peter.  It was an amazing New Years Eve.  The hotel has such history, it was built in 1877 for King Edward VII for his mistress Lillie Langtry.
Then the children came along and we celebrated quietly at home, desperately trying to stay awake for Big Ben's chimes.  As the children got to school age I made friends with other mums and we gradually introduced the husbands and a new little social group evolved.  We would then take it in turns to host New Year's Eve and the adults would party downstairs and the kids would all be playing together upstairs - it worked well. 
Then the kids became teenagers and started making their own plans for NYE, one of the other couples separated, another had a late addition to their family and so for one reason or another - that routine stopped.
My husband was then introduced to the husband of another friend and he started playing badminton with him and another couple of guys and a new circle of friends evolved.  Fortunately, us wives already knew each other and got on well too.  We were invited to join them for their NYE and so another phase was entered!  We started actually going out for NYE again!  
My friend's daughter married a guy who manages a new Italian restaurant in town and although they are not offering an official 'party night' we are going there for a meal tonight.  They are designing a new menu for one night only and I have no idea what is on it, but I am sure it will be good. 
So - may I just wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year.  It's been great getting to know everyone in 2010 and I look forward to many more fascinating blog posts in 2011.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

And there it was gone ...

Digital Scrapbooking at
Scrapbooking Photo Tinks by
Got a lot of clearing up to do, got a lot of leftovers eating to do, got a lot of 'finding new places for new gifts' to do, got a lot of blog catching up to do ....
So in the mean time, a photo from Christmas Eve in Deb's World!

Friday 24 December 2010

He's on his way!

And at the time of checking this website here he was in New Zealand!  Anyone with little children might like to log onto that website nearer bedtime because when he's on his way - you better get to sleep as soon as you can!
All is calm, peaceful and under control in Deb's World today, the kids are visiting my in laws with my husband and I am left alone to do finishing touches and prepare tables etc.  Later on we will have a carrot peeling frenzy and anything else that can be done in advance.  Tonight we are visiting friends, the husband of which has just returned from a climbing expedition to Everest base camp so I suspect there will be many tales to be told.  Not my idea of a holiday ie no beach, no sun, no gourmet meals cooked for me and more to the point, no proper toilets or en suite facilities! 
So I wish you all a very happy Christmas, however you celebrate it and whoever you celebrate it with.  Take lots of photos to post in the new year, there must surely be some project we can all join in to share them.  Anybody any suggestions?!

Thursday 23 December 2010


Dashing through the snow
In a silver Mini car
O'er the ice we go
Sainsbury's not too far

Finished buying food
and gifts are nicely wrapped
Just a bit more cooking to do
and then I can collapse


Jingle Bells
Batman smells
Robin's flown away
The batmobile has lost one wheel
and can't go on it's way .....

It's either hysteria, too much Christmas spirt {hic} or reliving my son's silly versions of carols when he was little.  You decide ....

Wednesday 22 December 2010

A fine line

When you take your average mum at this time of year you will find that there is a very fine line between quiet busy-ness and silent hysteria.  We're up to our neck in cooking, preparing the house for guests, shopping, wrapping - not to mention the mundane washing, ironing, and feeding the family in the days leading up to the big event.
I was bordering on the latter yesterday but now my presents are wrapped and labelled, the cake is iced, there is sufficient food for Christmas Day and if I were to slip on the ice and be confined to the sofa being fed peeled grapes by Dr McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) himself, Christmas would happen.
The husband's contribution to the festivities has consisted of 3 hours of shopping in Cambridge where he bought his parent's presents and a couple of little stocking fillers for the kids.  He has written 12 cards for his family members (after I had bought them, printed off the address labels and stuck on stamps).  That's it.  So this morning when he enquired as to my activities today - cook cherry ring cake, make chocolate biscuit cake, go to Sainsburys for last minute veggies, get all washing and ironing up to date, take my friend to her physio apt (she has trapped a nerve in her spine and is walking hobbling around like an 80 year old), pick her up, cook dinner, deliver gifts and cards to my nephew, then deliver gifts to my niece ........ he then said
"do you think you could wrap up Mum & Dad's presents for me - I'm running out of time"
If a middle aged wife should fall in a frenzied heap and no one is around to see, would it make a sound?
Yes it would, it would be a muffled growliness interspersed with hysterical laughter!

On a lighter note, I made a few of these gorgeous triangular boxes that Mel  recently showed in a tutorial - they are so cute - well worth the time making them!  If you look carefully you will see a tiny silver bell in amongst the ribbon, my signature note for all special presents this year!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Stress levels rising

I had plans for today.  Pop into town to get a bit more food shopping from Waitrose, 12 noon go to the salon for my Shellac manicure (the most amazing manicure ever, the last one lasted 4 weeks and had only just started to chip then) come home, ice cake and wrap presents.
The son asked if he could use a bit of paper and tags to wrap presents for his girlfriend's family.  I said yes.  So he has picked the nicest paper that I had, you know, the stuff I was saving for 'special' presents, used up all the co ordinating labels and left me with about 3" of sellotape.  I just looked out the window and it is snowing - again - and I don't think I can be bothered to put on boots, coat, gloves and get in the car just to get sellotape.  But I do want to get these gifts wrapped .....
I came home from Waitrose with an £80 bill, how did that happen?  The same way the food levels in the fridge are dropping since the son returned home.  I had forgotten how hungry boys can get and how often they need to eat! 
So, having typed this post and drunk a cup of tea and revived my sugar levels with a slice of birthday cake left from my nephew's wife's party on Sunday, I think I am going to brave the elements and get some more tape.  If I get these gifts wrapped that will be another tick on the list done and it's a time consuming job too.  Then tomorrow I can deliver them/hide them/put them in a santa sack {delete as appropriate} and move onto icing that cake. 
Seems that for every one item I cross off that list, another two take it's place.  Ho Ho Ho.

Monday 20 December 2010

Christmas Club - The Chinese Bracelet

Forgive me, it's Christmas and I am running very behind schedule!  Firstly, thanks to all the kind comments about the book, I just wish we had touchy feely blog posts as you would have been able to feel how soft the leather was on that book spine .....  I digress ...

The Chinese Bracelet Christmas.

When my daughter was young, she was obsessed by people who had a foreign accent and loved to try and copy them.  There was a memorable phase in her life where she was equally obsessed with 'Neighbours' and 'Flying Doctors' (or Flying Gockers as she called them).  She would allocate everyone characters and we had to talk like that for a whole dinner time, my mum used to find this hysterical and was often pulled up on her impersonation of Helen Daniels 'It isn't that funny Nan, just talk like her, try it again'.  And of course The Husband was totally bemused and could only say 'G'day Auntie Madge'.
About this time, the daughter was at play school (about 4 years old) and came home one day totally excited about a new girl who had started.  The girl was called Sylvie-Ann and she was Chinese.  (You can see what is coming here can't you?)  Not only that, but she didn't know many English words, so we now had a whole new made up language to practise over dinner.  But best of all was Sylvie-Ann's bracelet.  The daughter was obsessed with all things Sylvie-Ann, and she had a lovely silver charm bracelet.  All I heard about was Sylvie-Ann's bracelet and how the daughter was going to ask Father Christmas for one exactly the same.  Now, F. C's chief elf was slightly concerned about this request and needed more details.  'I don't need to tell you what it looks like Mum, I've drawn a picture of it in the letter to Father Christmas that we made at play school today and Miss has sent them off for us'.  I considered the possibility of inviting Sylvie-Ann for tea but as her mum spoke even less English than she did, I didn't think this was an option.  It was getting closer to Christmas and I still hadn't seen this bracelet.  I tried scouring the crowds of 4 year olds coming out of playschool to catch sight of the bracelet, but it was winter and all arms and wrists were covered up with winter coats and gloves.
Then we had a morning where mums could go in and watch a little play and I realised this was my only chance.  I was dragged across the classroom to a rather bewildered little Chinese girl who had her wrist grabbed by the daughter and the bracelet in all it's glory was revealed.  It was lovely.  Clearly not from England.  Delicate silver links had wonderful chinese symbols hanging from them.  There were little animal charms including beautiful tiny elephants.
Now Santa's elf did her best and on Christmas morning, a little silver charm bracelet was unwrapped.  There were no chinese symbols and certainly no elephants but there was a ballerina, a ballet shoe, a rabbit, and a letter 'R' - all things appropriate to the daughter.  The husband and I held our breath ... she loved it!  It was not only as good as Sylvie-Ann's it was better - phew!  Every photo taken that Christmas day has the daughter proudly displaying her wrist - which has led to some strangely posed pictures.  I really must get round to scanning them into the computer!

Saturday 18 December 2010

♥The Book ♥

 After 4 intense classes, 4 hours of folding,cutting, glueing, sewing and pressing , drum roll please ....

Ladies, I would like to introduce you to 'The Book'

 Please note the carefully folded sections which have been lovingly sewn together. 
 May I draw your attention to the exquisite silk 'head band' keeping it all neat and tidy.
 Hey there 'The Book' - are you ready for your close up?

Hold the front page!

I so enjoyed making this, and I am trying to get the teacher to run the class again so I can maybe make a couple of smaller books that I might feel able to pass onto someone else. 
Would make a good give-away right?!  However, this little baby is staying right with it's Mama!

Friday 17 December 2010

The new guy at work

The lady I work with in the exams office thought I needed cheering up so she brought her puppy into work today.  Look how gorgeous he is!  His name is Alfie and he is a 'Westiepoo', a cross between a Westie and a poodle.  He is so gorgeous.  Mean old Sheila said I had to give him back though and wouldn't let me take him home.  Spoilsport.
If you look to the left of the photo you will see that Brad Pitt is looking rather concerned that he may have a rival for my affection.  Sorry to disappoint you Brad, but this little guy is rather special.

Last day of school today for me.  And you know what is the best thing about the last day of school? 
It's the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL .........

Thursday 16 December 2010

An unexpected benefit of Facebook

Between the hours of 11pm Tuesday and 1pm Wednesday I had a particularly stressful time. 
My daughter had gone for a drink with friends at the local pub and returned home in a very bad way.  Not drunk - absolutely manic and out of control.  It would appear someone had spiked her drink.  She had walked home with a friend and been absolutely fine, but 10 mins inside the house and she was totally wild.  So very, very scary to witness. 
Wednesday lunchtime I had a phone call from my son.  Absolutely distraught.  He had received an email from the university to say that they suspected him of plagiarism in 2 essays he had just handed in.  He literally could not talk coherently.  All I heard was snatches of comments like 'this is so serious' 'they could kick me out'  'I could have wasted 3 years of hard work'  and most importantly 'I haven't done anything wrong'.  He had a meeting on 21 January.  Clearly he could not wait that long.  He rang and pestered and someone took pity on this poor emotional boy and he saw the Director of Politics.  Where it quickly became evident that the problem was that he had referenced some quotes incorrectly.  They discussed his options as he had made a mistake - ignorance is no defence!  A mistake that he will not make again I hasten to add!  So he has to lose some points but in consideration of the other possibilities ie not getting any marks for either essay were far worse.  A harsh lesson to learn.
I had posted status reports on Facebook that eluded to trouble but I didn't think that either offspring would want their troubles publicised by their mum so kept things brief.  I have been totally stunned by the amount of comments, calls, texts and kind words of concern that this has generated - and although my husband sometimes makes scathing comments when I say something about someone on Facebook, like 'is it a real friend or a Facebook friend' - I have to say that my Facebook friends have shown such concern, it's really touching.
So please excuse my absence this week, it's not been the best week of my year!

Sunday 12 December 2010

Christmas Club Sunday

The year was 1973.  It was December.  I was in the fifth year at school, still having a bit of a crush on David Cassidy, not to mention David Essex and begging my mum to let me have a pair of platform boots to wear for school.  Of course they fitted into the school uniform criteria!  On the whole, I loved my school days, I had a close group of friends to go around with and we were footloose and fancy free. 
It was only a matter of months until we took our O levels and moved up to the Sixth Form where, and this was the main reason for staying on at school, all the gorgeous guys were.  Oh how we giggled and hung around the edges of the rugby pitch to cheer them on in matches {I didn't understand the rules at all}.  How we spent hours perfecting that layered shaggy hair cut, with the top very short and the rest about shoulder length.  Saturdays were spent walking through the Town Park to the town where we would spend hours going through the racks of Chelsea Girl, trying clothes on that we had no intention of buying. 
I can really remember the fact that on the day we had Christmas Dinner at school the 5th formers were allowed to have lunch with the Sixth Form (be still my beating heart) as there were too many people having lunch that day for us to sit in with the rest of the school.  And of course we were far too mature to be mixing with those youngsters! 
In the 6th form block there were two levels, the upper one was closed off by concertina style doors and the lunch was in the lower area.  That day we had really gone to town with our Miners eyeshadow and Rimmell lipstick.  Our skirts were hitched up to an appropriate height, and we were being as 'cool' as we possibly could be.  We collected our Christmas dinner and toyed with it as we waited for the 6th formers to arrive.  All of a sudden, the concertina doors opened and all the sixth formers were standing there.  They paused while someone put some new single on the record player.   The volume was turned up to maximum and those ear shattering words of Noddy Holder's reverberated around the room, 'IT'S CHRISTMAS .....' and that is where I was when I first heard that song 37 years ago.  Who'd have believed Slade's Greatest Hit would still be playing all these years later.  Do you remember where you were when you first heard it?

Wednesday 8 December 2010

It's a learning curve

It wasn't until I started this new post that I realise that Sunday's Cristmas blog post was my 500th.  That's a lot of ramblings from my part of the world!
Has anyone else noticed how quickly time is marching on as the big day gets closer?  I was so organised (or so I thought) and now I'm finding myself making lists and not getting much crossed off.  Going to work is a bit of a stumbling block and now we have only 7 school days left until we break up and still so much to do, it's manic!
Part of my performance management review said that for CPD I had to learn Photoshop.  I've been badgering the person who is the only one with Photoshop on her computer ever since and last week she finally cracked and said that yes it was time for me to have my lessons - big happy dance around the office!  She had a project that needed doing and said I could help.  I had wheeled my chair down the corridor and was sitting next to her before she had time to put down the phone.  We had to design a poster for the upcoming Christmas Concert and also make tickets.  It was GREAT!  finding an image and then manipulating it, adding layers, changing fonts, the time flew until the phone rang and someone from the main office asked 'Is Deb still down there with you?  She's been gone ages'  Ages?  I don't call an hour and a half ages ....  It was such fun and I loved doing it.
Then last night was the final night of our book binding class.  The books are finished {sigh} we left them in the press overnight and the teacher is going to be presenting us with them at the end of school next Friday when all the staff get together for mulled wine and mince pies after the students have gone home.  I wonder if she has arranged for the local news team to come and cover the story ........
So it's been a busy time of learning new things and I have loved it.  And it just goes to show that the old saying isn't true - you can teach an old dog new tricks ;-)

Sunday 5 December 2010

Christmas Club

I missed the first of the Christmas Sunday posts due to me being totally disorganised in the lead up to my trip to Germany and not scheduling a post - but am back on track today!

My mum loved Christmas and did everything possible to ensure that our Christmases were happy and memorable.  It was her favourite time of year and she loved to cook and entertain and find the perfect gift.  It was a cruel twist of fate that she passed away the week before Christmas in 1997, but even though she was so ill leading up to then, she still had all her presents wrapped and labels written.
She was a great crossword puzzler, she always did a crossword every day and her ability to decipher anagrams and cryptic clues was legendary.  So when she did the labels for her Christmas presents, they always gave a slight hint as to what was inside.  Some were more cryptic than others and even once you had opened the present, you still weren't clear what the tag was all about!  This is a tradition that I have carried on with my family, sometimes the clues are better than others and sometimes there is much groaning when they realise the hint I was trying to give. But oh does it make Christmas wrapping take a long time,  trying to think of something witty or puzzling to put on the tag.  Clues like 'I hope you think this present is out of this world' went on the bottle of 'Alien' perfume that I wrapped for my daughter yesterday.  You get the idea?!!

Friday 3 December 2010

If you want to get ahead ...

Get a hat!

It gets pretty busy at the Christmas markets, and it seems that people who travel in larger groups have found cute ways of finding each other in the crowds!  I particularly like the Father Christmas going down the chimney hats.
So, tonight is the Christmas 'Do' at work.  We are going to the members cocktail bar of a local restaurant for a hot buffet meal and a 70s disco.  It should be fun and I look forward to trying a few new cocktails!  Thankfully it's Friday night so no school tomorrow.  The Christmas crop I was supposed to be going to tomorrow has had to be cancelled :-( the weather in that area has been awful which is such a shame. 
However, the weather up in Sheffield is even worse than here.  My son just rang and said that the snow is up to the top of the tyres on his car!  They walked to uni yesterday and by the time they came home their jeans were wet up to their knees - he says he has never seen snow like it.  It was pretty to start with but after a few days the novelty wears off.  My daughter stayed overnight at a friend's house on Wednesday and it snowed so much in the night that although the main roads were gritted and ok to drive on, she couldn't get off the drive to get onto the road, it took 3 guys to push her onto the road.  And she only has a little Mini!
Still, there is nothing us Brits like more than a good old moan about the weather - too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry .... always a good conversation starter 'So, what is the weather like where you live?' ....

Wednesday 1 December 2010

In need of TLC

I've been to the dentist today.  I don't like going to the dentist at the best of times but when I went for my check up last time, something showed up on the xray that needed attention.  To say I was apprehensive is an understatement, this is a new dentist (my previous one has been struck off for 9 months as he was found guilty of malpractice but that is another story) so he was an unknown quantity.  He was very kind, and very sympathetic to me owning up to my fear, but work needed doing and no amount of pathetic sad eyed looks and trembling lips was going to stop him revving up the drill, blinding me with that overhead light and rolling up his sleeves to get stuck in.  I heard the snap of the latex gloves as he prepared the tray of torture  implements  dental equipment.  Half a terrifying hour later and I was back in the car, with the left side of my face numb and a look of startled terrror still in my eyes.
Then I went into town to pick up my new glasses.  I am now so incredibly old that I need varifocals - oh the shame.  I had been forever putting my glasses on and off in shops that I had to admit defeat and get some new lenses.  I don't need to wear them all the time but I feel like I'm heading in that direction.  These are taking a little bit of getting used to and I am spending much time doing sweeping glances to find the right focal spot for whatever I am doing.
Having picked up the new glasses, I headed off to the local electrical shop as the microwave gave one last gasp and died last night.  To be honest, in microwave years it's probably as old as me so we have had our monies worth out of it.  So I'm in the shop, face numb (probably dribbling), trying to adjust my new glasses so I could see the 'chip and pin' machine to pay for it, what a state.

So to get myself into a more serene state of mind, let me share a few pictures of the stained glass windows in Cologne cathedral with you -
Stained glass windows - Cologne Cathedral