Sunday 31 July 2011

Staycation Day 1

Thank you so much for your kinds thoughts and comments yesterday - I am really touched by everyone's good wishes.  We are going to try to make sure that we don't just fall into old routines this week, try to follow a holiday routine to some extent, outside of hospital visits of course.  As proof of that I have done nothing much more than sit in the garden in the sunshine reading one of the holiday books I had downloaded onto my Kindle.  With the sun shining, and a comfy chair it's almost as if I am on a terrace somewhere abroad.  I have even sunburnt my 'cleavage' which is par for the course for me on the first day of my holidays.  One of the hazards of being a voluptuous lady ;-)
Our son and his girlfriend very kindly cooked us dinner last night which was so kind as neither of us felt like eating much or indeed cooking.  So to come into the dining room and find a nice bottle of wine waiting and a home cooked thai curry on the table was just what we needed. 
Whilst my plan is to not get into the daily drudge of meals, I'm intending to cook the kind of food we would be enjoying overseas - lots of light meals, fish, salad etc.  However, my son made serious hints about how much he enjoys a nice slice of homemade cake to dip into.  Well not so much a hint, more of a 'can you cook one of your banana and walnut loaves Mum?' So that is my one concession to 'housework' today and whilst it is cooling from the oven I will share the recipe on that page of my blog which I started and then forgot to add to!  It's an old recipe from my husband's side of the family so bearing in mind the circumstances which find us in the UK and not Ibiza, kind of appropriate to share.  Be warned though, it's so old it is in pounds and ounces not grams!

Saturday 30 July 2011

A change of plan

Those of you who know me via Facebook will have seen that our plans for an 11 day relaxing holiday in Cala Llonga, Ibiza were cancelled in the early hours of this morning.  My father in law who is 87 has been in hospital for various age related illnesses in the last six months but has managed to bounce back from them.  His latest problem has been breathing related and on Wednesday he was stronger, with different medication and the doctors were talking about him coming home.  However, infection set in on Thursday morning and on Friday the doctor called my husband to say that she was very concerned about him and there was a serious infection that his frail old body was trying hard to fight.  My husband said we were due to leave for holiday at 4am this morning and what did she think we should do.  She indicated that he is not going to get better from this and it is just a matter of time, could be days, weeks or even months.
There was no way that my husband could have gone on holiday leaving that scenario behind him and so we cancelled the holiday and he will be on daily visiting duties instead.   
It's a tough thing, this has been a horrible year for us one way or another and we both badly needed a total break to rest, relax and soak up some sun but there will be other holidays.  My husband would never have forgiven himself if he wasn't around to offer his mother support at this very painful time. 
Putting up that August blog header was obviously tempting fate! 

Thursday 28 July 2011

Deliberate mistake

Have you spotted the deliberate mistake on my blog yet?  That's right, the header says August and it's still July.  No I'm not having a 'senior moment' - I do realise that we still have a couple of days left of July.  But I am going to be away from computer-land on 1 August and I figure that sooner is better than later, at least if I do it early at least it isn't likely to be forgotten! 
It seems that this week fate is out there trying desperately to disrupt my plans and my 'to do' list isn't getting any shorter; every time I am ready to tick something off something else gets added to the bottom.  In fact 'update blog header' wasn't even on my 'to do' list - it just suddenly sprang to mind!
I am firmly of the opinion that leaving children behind when you go away adds to the stress levels rather than reducing them, there is a lot of 'I hope he remembers to lock up properly when he goes out' and 'will he remember to turn the oven off after he finishes cooking dinner' because let's face it, boys are not the most reliable of species!  However, I can tell by the way he rolls his eyes to the ceiling when I ask him questions that he has heard all my instructions before and isn't keen to hear them again. 
Right - things to do, places to go and people to see.  Must step away from the computer - NOW!

Monday 25 July 2011


The date of my holiday is drawing closer and I'm at the stage of putting clothes onto the spare bed so they are unworn and ready to be packed.  Magazines and tv programmes are telling us all about the 'capsule wardrobe' that we should aim for when packing for holidays but I know for me, it just won't work.  Even at my exercise class last week the instructor gave us a pep-talk about holidays and packing was mentioned.  'Three pairs of shoes should suffice.  Flip flops, comfortable shoes to walk in and a pair of evening sandals.'  Three?  Only three?  I don't think so.  Some of my evening clothes need high heels and some need flats.  Some need fancy shoes and some need plain.  Some need white, some need coloured {you see where this is going don't you?}
'Take one pair of trousers that you can team up with several different tops.'  Well we all know what would happen if I took that advice.  First night out I would spill red wine down said trousers and drip chocolate sauce on them and that would mean that I couldn't wear them again. 
So the pile of clothes is growing (not to mention the amount of shoes) and I suspect I may have to be ruthless nearer the time.  Last year I bought a new dress at the beginning of summer and put it away ready for my holiday.  I found it at the beginning of this summer.  Still with labels intact and never been worn.  It had slipped off the hanger and fallen onto the shelf below where it had been hidden.  It was the first thing that made it into the spare room this year! 
Still the fact that I've started putting things away make it feel like it is getting closer, now if only I can convince the husband that he needs only a capsule wardrobe, then there will be more room in the suitcase for my things ;-)

Sunday 24 July 2011

Another one for the hunt!

Ok, I'm definitely in for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt as now I've looked at the list properly I reckon that there are quite a few that I can cover.  A quick Sunday morning walk around the lake led me to my next photo opportunity.  My country's flag.
There is an expression over here 'getting your knickers in a twist'.  And some people may get that way by me posting a picture of a the flag of St George rather than the more traditional Union Jack.  In fact some people will get their knickers in a twist by me calling it the Union Jack rather than the Union Flag.  Us Brits can get quite pedantic about matters of our heritage ;-)  The Union Jack/Flag is the combined flags of the United Kingdom and represents Great Britain.  Getting it flying the right way up is a big deal and shame on the person who flies it upside down as to fly it the other way up is a sign of distress.  So to be on the safe side, I have chosen the flag of St George because although to all intents and purposes I am a British citizen I was born and bred in England and that is the English flag.  The building in front of it is the Barnabas Centre which has been around since the 1830s so I'm guessing that if there is a right or wrong way to fly the George Cross, they will have it flying correctly! 
I'd never noticed the flag before so I guess that another benefit of joining in this hunt is opening my eyes to things I would normally not notice or maybe just take for granted.  That Rinda has some great ideas doesn't she?!

Saturday 23 July 2011


I've been toying with the idea of joining in Rinda's scavenger hunt ever since she first mentioned it, but you know how it is: "I'll never find even half of those" says one half of your brain and the other, more optimistic soul says "Well, you could at least try".  I was chatting to the husband about it the other day and read out the list of things to find.  He agreed with the pessimistic side of me "You won't be able to find many of those" he said.  And so I put the idea on the back burner.  Didn't turn off the heat completely, just left the idea simmering away.
Fast forward to Tuesday and we are up in Sheffield.  The sun is shining and we have half an hour to while away before the graduation ceremony.  So we went for a walk to a nearby park, son resplendant in his ceremonial robes and us glowing in the warm pride of seeing him all grown up and about to have his success recognised.  Despite travelling to that area for the last seven years, we've never actually spent much time exploring the city.  Those of you with uni age 'kids' will know that once you have served your purpose of transporting the little darlings to their new homes, helped them unpack their worldly goods, paid for a month's shopping, filled up their kitchen with food and drink and taken them out for lunch, you are soon sent on your way back down the motorway with a tear in your eye, a silent car and an empty back seat and boot.  No time for seeing a bit more of the area.
So we found ourselves in Weston Park, a beautiful area and I grabbed the opportunity to take a few more pictures.  "It's a shame you aren't doing that scavenger hunt" says the husband.  "Look at the lovely wooden bridge":
Five minutes later, "I know what, let's go and take some photos down by the museum"

"Hey mum, see that big glass building over there?  That's where I spent most of this last semester.  It's the main university library"
 Hang on a minute ... Rinda - is it too late to join in?

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Farewell to Sheffield

Yesterday was our son's graduation and how we enjoyed being proud parents
And so he went from Graduand to Graduate
We had a really lovely day, and despite dreadful weather forecasts, the sun shone and the weather was warm.  A lovely day all round.  And so it marked the end of seven years of the 150 mile trek up the A1 to Sheffield - our daughter went to university there too and no sooner had she graduated than her brother started his degree course.  The end of a big chapter in our family lives.
You would think that after 6 years at primary school, and 7 at secondary school, then 3 at university - he may have had enough of being in education.  But no, he is in the process of signing up for his Masters degree in African Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies which is part of the University of London.  At least that is a little closer to home!
I think it's somewhat inevitable that you are going to be seeing a few more of these photos in scrapbook pages to come.

Sunday 17 July 2011

A very British afternoon

When you think of things that typify Britain, what do you think of?  Rain? Stately homes? Cups of tea?  Cucumber sandwiches?  Well I had all those boxes ticked this afternoon!  One of my work colleagues is retiring on Friday after 22 years working at the school.  She is an absolutely lovely lady and we will miss her so much.  She puts us all to shame with her hectic social life and her elegance and style is legendary around the office.  She never wears an outfit which isn't perfectly colour co-ordinated with the ideal matching jewellry and I cannot imagine her without her hair perfectly styled and make up 'just so'.  I see her sometimes at an exercise class and this lady can even make gym trousers and a vest top look classy! 
So when it came to planning an office 'do' for her retirement we tried hard to find something elegant and stylish that would suit her personality.  We decided to treat her to a proper posh afternoon tea at a nearby hotel.  It was an absolutely lovely afternoon (apart from the weather which ranged from dry but overcast with thunder in the distance, to heavy rain) and we had a wonderful spread of cakes and sandwiches in a beautiful room which was wood panelled with ornate mother of pearl inlay patterns around the whole room. 
I'm kind of thinking it would be nice to spend all Sundays like that!

Saturday 16 July 2011

There was a slight delay

... but I finally finished the other layout that I started at the crop last weekend.  It's a perfect day for scrapbooking today, despite the fact that it is mid-July, the temperature has dropped, it's pouring with rain and really windy.  It's 3 in the afternoon and I am seriously thinking about putting some lights on as it is so dark outside.  What a perfect excuse for staying in and getting the glitter and glue out!  
This layout was one that Karen Moss designed for the ATDML cyber crop a few weekends ago.  I wasn't able to join in on the actual weekend, but printed off a few of my favourite pages to work on when I had the chance.  I've had this photo of my Mum and Dad in an envelope in my crop bag for ages now, it was taken around the time of my Dad's 70th birthday, about 5 months before he died so it holds special memories.  it's nice to finally have it on a page to go in the album.
I've just had my Sarah's Cards kit delivered and it is just so beautiful. Check it out here!  The photo doesn't do it justice, the paper with the little birds on is textured and the little birds are raised up and glossy - so pretty.  And the little pennants on the tiny sticks ... am slightly worried that I love it all so much I won't want to cut it up and use it!  
We have suddenly remembered that we have a party to go to this evening.  We were invited about 6 months ago and although it was put in the diary, about 2 months ago they changed the date and we forgot to alter the diary.  I was still thinking it was next weekend.  We were just sitting in the conservatory and my husband suddenly had a 'light bulb' moment when he said "I think tonight is the night of the party" so instead of that quiet night in, settled on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a film, we have to brave the elements, find our way to somewhere in the middle of the countryside where we haven't been before and be sociable.  I know we will enjoy it when we get there but at the moment, it's hard to get the enthusiasm!

Tuesday 12 July 2011

4x6 Photo love with 6 photos

When I saw Shimelle's design for this month's photo love I thought I had come unstuck.  I had lovingly chosen 6 photos especially with this in mind, all taken the Sunday of the joint celebrations for my sister's 40th wedding anniversary and my god daughter's christening.  Can you imagine how my heart sank when I saw the design was for six portrait pictures when mine were landscape?  I heard a little voice in my head saying 'Go on, freestyle it, you know you want to ...' and next thing I knew I was at the Eclectic crop, with papers on the desk and photos in place.
Bearing in mind it should have been a row of portrait pictures, I think the alternative came out ok.  I like the blocky feel to the pages.

Monday 11 July 2011

Missing out

Someone wasn’t very happy about being told he wasn’t joining me for the crop yesterday.

P1020630But I told him that no one likes a sulky penguin who sits in the corner scowling and maybe next time he can join us, so long as he doesn’t cause the commotion he caused last month.  He maintains that the kidnapping was not his fault and he will give Eileen a wide berth next time they meet.   He wasn’t the only one missing, Denise was sunning herself on the Algarve so wasn’t there either.  Fortunately Karen had over-catered on the cupcakes …

Flavour of the month was raspberry!

In between chatting, drinking mugs of tea and coffee and eating cake, I managed to get quite a lot done, including my 6 picture layout for Shimelle’s 4x6 Photo Love which I shall share tomorrow.  For today though, a layout to remember our day fruit picking!

P1020642 I guess it could be said that with the cupcakes and the theme of the page, reading this blog post could count as two of your ‘five a day’!

Sunday 10 July 2011

10 on the 10th - July

10 things I'd rather be doing instead of tackling a huge pile of ironing
  1. Going to a crop.  If you want an example of what a good crop should be, head over to Eclectic Keepsakes and have a little look.  Lovely people, light and airy cropping room, a new project every month and cupcakes.  What's not to like?
  2. Checking out other people's blogs.  Honestly, this could delay turning that iron on for hours - my favourites are on the side bar here but I often click away on links that other people have shown and next thing I hear is 'What time did you say dinner was going to be?' and I find an hour has passed.
  3. Catching up on episodes of CSI:NY that I have recorded.  I love that programme!
  4. Eating cupcakes and muffins.  Look at these lovelies .....
  5. Checking out the hotel I'm going to for my summer holiday - if I close my eyes, I'm almost there ....
  6. Loading books onto my Kindle ready for my holiday
  7. I love cooking so I'm often looking for new recipes, checking out the obvious ones, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Delia Smith etc but I love to try out new ones.  Yesterday my friend Jane told me about Ottolenghi so I will be checking that out.
  8. I hate ironing so much I may even prefer to be at work .  Well, maybe .......
  9. Scrapbooking - obviously!
  10. Checking out the latest class being organised by Shimelle !

Sunday 3 July 2011

Storytelling Sunday - What's the first thing you do on holiday?

When I left school I went to work for a holiday Tour Operator.  We sold villa and apartment holidays and then merged with another company to offer hotels and long haul holidays too.  I worked in several departments gradually working my way to the Passenger Relations department which is a posh way of saying 'Complaints'.
Some of the stories we heard made us laugh, some were people just trying to get some money back but every now and again we had a letter which made us genuinely feel so very, very sorry for the holidaymakers. 
Most holiday companies don't offer holidays to Greece in the Winter, the weather is too unpredictable and the properties not really suitable for winter weather.  Our Greek season used to start mid-April when it was warmer but the holidays then were much cheaper as a lot of tavernas and shops in the resorts didn't really open until after Easter.  So anyway.  We had this family who went out to one of the Greek Islands at the beginning of the season.  The representative out there asked the maids to go to the villa and open all the windows and doors while she prepared it for the visitors as it hadn't been used since October and was a bit stuffy and cold. 
The family arrived and were shown into the villa.  They were happy with it, although one of the bedrooms still seemed a bit 'stale'.  The rep said she would ask the maid to completely clean that room again the next day and again leave the windows open to air it in the sunshine.  It was only a small single room being used by their young son, it should soon be fresh again.
But when the rep returned the next day, the parents weren't happy.  If anything, the room seemed worse and although the rep tried to keep a professional face, she admitted that there was a strange smell in the room.  Extra air fresheners were left in there to try and mask the odour. 
The following day the family were really upset, the son was now refusing to sleep in the room and although the rest of the villa was warm and fresh, that one particular room was getting worse.  The maid was sent back to thoroughly spring clean the room, top to bottom.  Which was when the cause of the smell was revealed.  Those of a delicate disposition or ever planning to go to Spetsai early in the season should look away now.
When the maid stripped the bed - she discovered .... a decomposing tree rat trapped in between the sheets at the bottom of the bed.  Can you imagine????? Obviously as the little boy only had little legs, he had not discovered what was lurking down there.  The maid rang the rep who kept the family well away while the 'visitor' was disposed of.  It must have crept in when the maid went in to make up the beds before their arrival and left the windows open to air the villa.  The tree rat found a nice snug bed to settle down to go to sleep in, got trapped, died and .......caused a very nasty smell!  The family assumed that the fact that the smell disappeared after that day was due to the thorough cleaning that the maid did, but we knew better.
Which is why - the very first thing I do whenever I go on holiday is to strip the bed down completely - even if it is a 4* hotel - just in case!  And having read my story, I wonder if you will too?