Friday 31 August 2012


Next week sees a huge change in the life of our house.  Sunday will see the last day that anywhere will be less than pristine.  Never again will someone say 'I can't find my ....'.  Unexpected visitors will be greeted by a neat, tidy, freshly cleaned house.  Cupboards will not overspill as you open the door.  Bathrooms will gleam.  Windows will sparkle, dirty dishes will no longer be seen on any work surface.  Limescale will not dare to lurk on shower screens and dust will not settle on coffee tables.  I know - who would have thought it?  And how will this miracle happen?  I have signed up for this
I saw it on Cate's blog and I thought that it may be what I need to kickstart a new routine.  I'm concentrating on the organise aspect of it, our house is clean enough, just sometimes a bit untidy in areas.  I'm not too good at throwing things away, my wardrobe has things in it that have not been worn for 5 years or so but I still keep them.  Just in case.  My sister has already mastered the knack of organised, but I was clearly at the back of that queue.  I was busy queuing in the line marked 'Keep everything, you never know when you might need it'.   My kitchen cupboards used to be orderly, but now I know I have various ingredients, but laying my hands on them is a totally different matter. 
Well - by the end of September that will all have changed.  I mean, I've told you all about my plans now haven't I?  So I've got to go through with it. 

Thursday 30 August 2012

Lost in Translation

Since Coco arrived here we've discovered that there are some words that you can't say out loud as they are interpreted by her in her own way.  We have taken to spelling some words out "I'm going to W.A.L.K to the shops, does anyone want anything?" So here is my translation guide:

How Coco understands various words:
Right = used at the beginning of a sentance means, 'Right, I've done the ironing, I'll just take Coco out for a walk'
Walk = 30 mins of uninterrupted running on grass across the cricket field, around the play fields and around the lake
Lead = I'm going on a walk
Out = I'm going out for a walk
Take = Someone's going to take me out for a walk
Whiz = A quick run around the garden in the dark for a last 'comfort break' before bedtime
Spit it out = chew whatever is in mouth and swallow - quickly
Come here - NOW! = Run around in circles like a mad thing until the humans go dizzy and give up the chase
Bed = Lovely soft places upstairs where I can cuddle up to the humans
Fake tan = something tasty to lick off her mummy's legs
Car = Get my harness out, I'm going out for a drive

Words/sentances Coco does not chooses not to understand:
Right (does not always precede the words 'I'll just take Coco out')
Get out of the flower bed
What are you eating?
Is that a snail in your mouth?
Spit it out
Come here - NOW!
Your bed is in the kitchen
Come downstairs
I'm just going out, I'll be back in an hour
I've just put fake tan on my legs, stay away from me until it dries

Poor old Cocopops has developed kennel cough and is feeling a bit sorry for herself.  On antibiotics for 5 days and can't go on energetic walks (try telling her that!).  But the good news for her is that the tablets have to be disguised in food and the best way to do that is in a lump of cheese.  Coco loves her cheese!  Every cloud really does have its silver lining!

Monday 27 August 2012

Hello Bank Holiday Monday

Hello Monday - I'd forgotten you were here until I saw other people's Hello Monday posts pop up in my blog lists!  This is what happens when we have a bank holiday.

Hello Monday - Later on we are popping over to the Red Cow Pub in Crishall for our son and girlfriend's farewell get together.  The original barbecue idea was cancelled on seeing the weather forecast!  Sophie's auntie owns the pup and is laying on food.  This also coincides with the pub's Beer Festival.  Husband very enthusiastic about attending!
Hello Monday - My daughter is helping host a baby shower today for her friend who is expecting a baby next month - she made these scrummy cake pops as part of the buffet. 

Hello Monday - This is the last full week of the summer holidays - where did the time go?
Hello Monday - I really need to get round to doing all those chores I said I was going to do during the long summer break.  Maybe I'll start tomorrow ...

Sunday 26 August 2012

North of the border

"It's so good to have you home again, we've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too mum, and by the way I'm going up to Scotland next week for four days."

It seems that having my boy home for more than two days at a time is going to be one of those rare occurrences from now on.
This week he signed the lease on a flat in Edinburgh and he will be moving up there while his girlfriend studies for her Masters degree at Edinburgh University.  It's long way from home ... 360 miles; that's six hours of driving, five hours of train journey or 40 minutes of flying depending on how you choose to get there.  I know which one gets my vote.  
I've only been there once but remember that it is a lovely city, with so much to see and do and I know that as long as he is with his girlfriend he doesn't mind where in the world he is.  But this is the end of an era and it feels very strange to know that when he packs up his bedroom this time, it isn't going to just be for a few months at uni or five weeks in Africa, this time it's for real. 
I'll leave you with a photo that he took in one of the villages he visited in Tanzania.  It was on the wall of a small  local business which employed disabled people to recycle glass and plastics to make original items of jewellery or household items such as pots and mirrors.  I think it's a great quote!

Thursday 23 August 2012

The hunt is over

I got me a bride!

16 bride P1030915 

I’ve known the family of this beautiful young lady for almost 26 years now.  Her eldest brother is the same age as my daughter and I met her mum through NCT classes back in 1986.  She is quite an amazingly talented musician, dancer and singer (don’t just take my word for it, check out this article) and a lovely, lovely girl.  She is especially lovely today, not just because she has that wonderful glow that happy brides have but she has made it possible for me to say “I have completed Rinda’s Scavenger Hunt”.  I have really enjoyed seeking out photos for this and even though he wouldn’t admit it, I think my husband quite enjoyed helping me find them while we were away.  However, the initial jumping for joy and punching the air in success has now faded and I’m left feeling a bit flat that it is over. 

Need to crack on and finish the mini album I’m putting these in but decisions, decisions, which photo should I use?


Wednesday 22 August 2012

Festival on Facebook

My daughter posted some new photos on Facebook yesterday.  My second thought was "They're nice photos" but my first thought was "Oh good, I've got some new photos to work with".  
Sketch 23 of my 28 days of sketches - done!  
My daughter's had a rough few months and is only gradually starting to get back to her normal self.  Her relationship broke up so she is living back home with us (which is why Coco is a permanent fixture now!) and it's been tough adjusting to things.  Hard to discover that the person you thought you would be spending the rest of your life with turns out not to be the person you thought he was.  But if there is a silver lining to be found, a couple of her close friends have found themselves in exactly the same boat this summer and there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.  Her friends have been amazing.  They have really rallied round and supported her in ways that parents can't.  They have made sure that there are things to do and places to go and she has not sat at home moping at weekends.  She's been to three music festivals, two of which were ankle deep in mud and the third glorious hot sunshine.  This layout celebrates just how important your close girlfriends are in your life.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Swinging for a scavenger

Guess what I found at the weekend?
A swing hanging off a tree branch - and I didn't have to sneak up steps to a terrace while the owner was elsewhere to photograph it!  Now I know that branch looks pretty spindly but I must point out that the swinger who uses this is just under two years old and the seat of the swing is maybe only 10" off the ground.
Now I just have a bride to find, but as my friend's daughter gets married this Thursday, I'm hoping that I will tick that last one off the list and finish off the mini book that documents this project.

Monday 20 August 2012

Hello Monday

Hello Monday - At 2pm this afternoon, we have a trip to the vets for (hopefully) stitch removal and saying goodbye to the Coco Cone

Hello Monday - This week I really ought to get back to a healthy eating regime.  I realised that I have strayed completely from the straight and narrow as I tucked into this when we went to friends for dinner Saturday night
Chocolate chip and salted caramel pavlova with whipped cream and a salted caramel sauce.  Delicious but very naughty!

Hello Monday - I have a rare shopping trip to Cambridge in the diary this week with my boy.  Looking for an interview suit (in anticipation of finishing his masters!) as he has lived the last four years in uni clothes which will not impress any prospective employers.

Hello Monday - Temperatures are predicted to be cooler this week.  Us Brits spend our lives moaning about the cold weather and then the minute we have a heat wave, we moan about that too!  

Hello Monday - The end of this week sees my daughter's 26th birthday.  Not sure if the requested chocolate birthday cake fits in with the healthy eating intention of earlier, but then again, I had heard that there are no calories in birthday cake.  That's true - right?

Friday 17 August 2012

Height of Summer

Despite the fact that it seems I am probably the smallest blogger in the world, I am joining in with Julie's Height of Summer project.  You can find out about it here
I could just say that I am 'shoulder height' as that's where I seem to come to when standing next to normal sized people

Shortest person on the God-parent list (well apart from Baby Sophie of course)

Shorter than my baby boy
Just the right height to rest my head on Tom Selleck's shoulder {sigh}
(There are some benefits then!)
I was the shortest girl in the class at school, even sitting down I’m still only shoulder height
height 4
Even when wearing heels, still shoulder height

Only way I can be the same height as everyone else is to stand on a step.

So come on then, at 5’1” – am I really the shortest one in the group?

Thursday 16 August 2012


I thought it was about time that I made a layout with the photos taken around the time of the jubilee, because if I don't do it now, they will languish on the hard drive of the computer never to see the light of day.  Seemed a good opportunity to do sketch 15 of my 28 Days of Sketches!
We had gone to our friend's for dinner and hadn't realised that she was going to have a red white and blue theme to the evening.  Well, apart from the paella (they cook the most amazing paella and it's now the official start to summer when we are invited round for paella night!).  Her desserts are fantastic and she had made a red white and blue panacotta with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and a pavlova with the same fruits.  Thankfully I was wearing a loose fitting dress so was able to totally indulge in a 'little bit of everything'!  Even her flowers were red and white peonies in a blue vase - very co-ordinated.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Monday 13 August 2012

Hello Monday - A Dog's Tale

Hello Monday - I'll be doing a lot of this, this week
Hello Monday - I'm going back to the vets today and I hope he says my plastic cone can come off because I am really fed up with it.  Although I think they originally said 10 days.  Dog's can't count, are we up to ten yet?
Hello Monday - One of my family has gone up to Edinburgh for a few days to look for a flat.  I think this means that Uncle Jon might be moving away.
Hello Monday - I'm really missing my walks over the park, it's not the same just walking in the garden AND they make me keep my lead on so I can't dig up the flower beds.  I'm going to look for a way to slip out there on my own.
Hello Monday - I've been having lovely scrambled egg, chicken, rice and pasta for my dinners, it's lovely being spoilt but I think I heard Mummy saying that I was 'back on the normal food' from today.  'Normal food?' Not sure I'm happy about that.
Hello Monday - The family have put up my old cage/crate in the kitchen and they are making me sleep in there when they all go up to bed or go out because apparently I get into mischief if I'm allowed to roam around on my own.  Mischief?  Me?  Never.  There's not much room in it, I much prefer to stretch my legs out in the bean bag in the lounge.

Sunday 12 August 2012

A cat on the hat

We popped into Cambridge today on a shopping mission (daughter's birthday in under 2 weeks!) and came across this new sculpture near the market place
I couldn't work out what it was at first but the mice running round the edge of a top hat reminded me of a busker who used to always be around the Lion Yard area.  When we got home I 'googled' it and found that it was a memorial to him, he was a great eccentric and raised over £125,000 for charity yet died penniless a few years ago.  He was quite a character, and would be dressed in strange military costumes with a very long white straggly beard.  He had various musical instruments and was often accompanied by random animals, including mice in his hat!  
Today I took a break from the sketches and made a layout using a kit from a crop day that I was unable to attend
And now ... I'm off to sit down and watch the closing ceremony for the Olympics London 2012.  If it's anything like the opening ceremony, we're in for a treat!

Saturday 11 August 2012

Kissing point

Apparently, when the Olympic flame is passed from one person to another as it goes around the country, the point at which the torches meet and the flame is transferred is called the Kissing Point.  When the flame came through our town we happened to be very close to where a handover was planned.  Total coincidence, but how lucky!  So for sketch 21 of the 28 Days of Sketches, I used some of my torch photos:

Update on Coco: She's got a bit more energy about herself today and it's now a matter of trying to keep her from jumping up and stretching too much.  Not easy when she is possibly the nosiest dog in town and is constantly by your side, standing on her back legs trying to be involved in whatever is going on!  I think this may become more of an issue as the week goes on.  She's not impressed by having to be on her lead when in the garden - no digging holes in the flower beds or rummaging around in the borders.  And she's especially not impressed with her cone ...
 Only 9 days to go until it can come off sweetie ....

Friday 10 August 2012

Poorly pup

Quick update on Coco.
She had her op this morning and is now home sporting a rather trendy cone collar. Currently lazing in bed, sighing in a pathetic manner, watching BMX riding on the Olympics!

Thursday 9 August 2012

Teacher's Pets

Can't believe my boy's been back from Africa for a week now.  Not only that, but he's been back a week and I've not done a layout about it!  Well, let's put that right now ...
{Kimandolu is the name of the Lutheran school he taught in}

This also uses up one of my 28 Days of Sketches too - this is number 12.  I like the fact that you can use 3 smaller photos to tell a bit more of a story.  He was a volunteer teacher in a primary school teaching ages 5 - 9 and had a great time.  He gets on very well with little children and I knew that he would enjoy that part of his trip.  The children in Tanzania are taught in English from day one, and so that wasn't a problem for him.  But what they didn't know was that he actually speaks Swahili too.  So he didn't speak in their language until they tried playing up and then took them totally by surprise when he told them to 'sit down, calm down and behave' in Swahili.  It worked a treat!   
My plan for today is to do another one of the 28 Days of Sketches using photos that I took when the Olympic torch came through our town.  It's so good to have the long summer holidays when you have a lot of scrapbooking to catch up on!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

A close shave

Oh dear.  Poor Coco.  She did have a lovely time with the Mucky Pups lady but she certainly came out a very different dog to how she went in.  She is an absolute terror when it comes to being brushed at home, and no matter how much we try, she will not let us groom her properly.  When you consider how fluffy a dog she was is, there is was a lot of hair to brush.  Her back legs had become pretty matted and there was no way the groomer could untangle them so they had to be shaved.  And you can't have long fur on your back and shaved legs without becoming the laughing stock of the puppy neighbourhood so she has had a 'short back and sides'.  The only things that stayed the same were her head and tail.  She looks so different but we know it will grown back and from now on there WILL be daily brushing, we've had lessons from the Mucky Pups lady on how to deal with her.  I suspect that many gravy bone biscuits will be consumed in the form of bribery!  
I've printed off some photos from J's travels in Africa to put into another sketch and hope to do that today.  I have also registered for the Big Idea Festival over at Big Picture Classes.  Has anyone else registered for it? it's free so I figured I had nothing to lose but plenty to gain for signing up!  I've also started sticking my Scavenger Hunt photos in their mini album with a noticeable gap where I am waiting for my friend's daughter to get married later this month.  I think it's fair to say that I am using my 6 week summer holiday productively so far ;-)

Tuesday 7 August 2012

On a roll

Yesterday I started working on sketch 18 from the Big Picture Classes prompt.  It appealed to me because it's a bit different.  I'm quite liking working with more than one photo, but with the photos in smaller sizes.  It would appear that I am also in a bit of a red phase which is a bit weird as it's not my favourite colour!  

It's going to be a funny old week for the canine member of the family.  There's good news - the dog groomer is coming today.  She absolutely loves the 'Mucky Pups' lady.  It's a mobile grooming salon and this scruffy little dog who squirms and whinges and refuses to let us anywhere near her with a comb or brush, becomes a calm, brush happy puppy who just stands on the table without a murmer and doesn't even need to have a lead on to keep her up there. She emerges two hours later as a sweet smelling, soft ball of fluff that wouldn't look out of place in a Crufts line up.  But then there is bad news - on Friday she is going to the vets to have 'the operation'.  Every time we look at her we think 'if only you knew ...' and I suspect that having a plastic cone around her head is not going to go down very well.  However, the photo opportunities will be too much to resist ...

Monday 6 August 2012

Back in the saddle

The scrapbooking saddle that is, nothing to do with horseriding/cycling/anything vaguely sporting!  Although speaking of sporting - isn't it amazing how often we are hearing the National Anthem as our sportsmen and women go onto the medals podium?  I'm not normally 'into' the Olympics but this year I've been hooked.  Maybe because we are the host nation, or maybe because a few of the venues are close to where I live.  Either way, I'm supremely proud of Team GB and so happy that their years of dedication to their sports is finally paying off. 
I digress.  On Saturday it was the monthly Eclectic Keepsakes crop, and I finally got round to doing some cutting and sticking after weeks of inactivity.  Looking at the photo on the EK blog it would appear that I am a stand-up scrapper, and I'm not quite sure what is going on at the opposite side of the table but I can clearly see someone with both hands in the air in an 'I surrender' pose!  Important first things first, I am happy to report that the Key Lime Cupcakes were delicious.  So, onto the scrappy business.   I signed up for the 28 Days of Sketches (round 2) class over at Big Picture Classes. and have been receiving a sketch on a daily basis for the last 18 days.  How many sketches have made it into actual layouts in those 18 days?  None.  So there was no problem in wondering what I was going to be doing for the first half of the day where we are left to our own devices.

 Two down, sixteen to go!  But yesterday's was a fab one and very different so I may have to put numbers 3 to 17 on hold and dive straight into number 18 because I'm itching to have a go at it!  {Talking of itchy fingers, can you see Sandie from Ithcifingers Blog in the EK blog photo?  She's in the white t shirt at the front!}
So after we'd all had a good gossip, caught up on all the news, shuffled cardstock and paper about and got covered in glue, eaten our lunch, drunk lots of tea, and wiped cupcake crumbs from our lips it was time to get down to the class that Karen had designed.
She's a talented lady isn't she?  I love the colours on the papers (7 Gypsies Trousseau which can be found here)  and well, just about everything about it!
So there you go.  Looking for layouts on my blog is a bit like the English proverb about waiting for a bus.  You wait for ages and then three come along at once!

Sunday 5 August 2012

Storytelling Sunday - Fantastic Friendship

It's time for Storytelling Sunday over at High in the Sky!  Normally we try to have a photo to go with our stories, but by the time you finish reading mine, you will realise why there is no photo to share!  
Have I ever told you about Zolly Watson?  When I was little she was my best friend.  We played together almost every day.  We both loved a glass of Lucozade, drunk out of a plastic beaker with a straw built into the side.  Mine was yellow, hers was blue.  We both loved chocolate biscuits, and when I went round to where she lived, I would fill a small flask with Lucozade and put a few biscuits in some foil, load it into the little saddle bag on the back of my bike and cycle round to Zolly's.  
Sometimes I'd take my Sindy doll round there because although Zolly loved to play with Sindy as much as I did, she didn't have a doll of her own.  If I was very lucky, my mum would take me to the Women's Institute shop where you could buy hand knitted clothes for Sindy so she could have a new outfit.  Zolly and I would spend hours dressing Sindy in different outfits.
It wasn't far from my house to Zolly's - if I looked out of the dining room window carefully I could almost see in her window.  And although I was only about five, mum was quite happy for me to cycle round there on my own.  You see, my sister was eight years older than me and she didn't want to play with some little kid when she was already a sophisticated teenager, and there were no other children of my age near to where I lived so it was inevitable that me and Zolly would become such firm friends.  
My sister didn't quite know what to make of Zolly, even though they never met, she thought it was an odd friendship.  In fact no one other than me ever met Zolly, because apparently she only existed in my imagination.  Her house was the Wendy house in our back garden, and I can still remember cycling round the lawn to get there, unlocking the door and stepping inside where our chairs were waiting, and a table for the drinks and biscuits to be put on.  Mum and Dad had helped me build various bits of make believe furniture for Sindy in true Blue Peter fashion and that was all set up in there too.
But then the summer came and we packed up to go on our two week Summer holiday to Cornwall.  Zolly stayed at home, while I enjoyed a fortnight of sandcastles, paddling in the sea, ice cream cones, and begging to be allowed to go in amusement arcades.  The weird thing was that when we came back, Zolly had gone.  I don't remember being upset, and I don't know how I knew - but she just wasn't there any more.  I guess I had grown up that little bit and was off to school where I would go on to meet lots of new - real - friends.  But whenever I hear people talking about imaginary friends, I always think of Zolly Watson.  (Where on earth did I come up with a name like that?!  I've never heard of anyone called Zolly and knew no one with the surname Watson either)

Saturday 4 August 2012

Scavenging in Portugal

I knew that there were some great opportunities to fill in some of my scavenger hunt gaps while we were on holiday but when I got over there, I thought it may be fun to see how many of the ones I had already found in Britain could also be found in the Algarve and do a duplicate set.  So when Rinda suggested doing a mid-way link up, it seemed an excellent opportunity to show you my Portuguese version.  I didn’t get them all over there – partly because I stupidly forgot to take the list with me, and had only remembered the ones I still had missing!
So without further ado – drum roll please – Scavenger Hunt – Portuguese Style.
A 22 heart shaped stone
Whilst on a walk one morning I happened to look down and see a heart shaped stone – which will come in nicely in case I need to substitute it for one category I can’t find!
 A 1 pier 
Now, I’m not sure if this qualifies as a pier but it’s the closest thing I’ve found so far!  I checked the definition of pier and it says - A platform used as a landing stage for boats, so I think I'm safe.
This is definitely a clothesline though!
A 2  A clothesline
And this is the mosaic border that ran along the edge of the swimming pool
 A 3 a border
Nice colourful sarongs for sale by the roadside on the way to the beach
A 4 roadside stall
The train network isn’t too high-tech out in this part of Portugal.  This is the end of the line.  Literally!
A 5 train
This historical landmark has some unpleasant associations unfortunately.  This is the old Slave Market.  Back in the 1440s the first ships went across to Africa from the port of Lagos, bringing back commodities to be sold at market.  Things such as gold, chilli pepper, birds, ivory and sadly, African people to be sold as slaves.
A 6 historic landmark
Walking around the streets of Lagos, it’s not difficult to come across buskers playing musical instruments which adds a great atmosphere – these guys were pretty talented!
A 7 person musical
A fountain! 
A 9 fountain
I came across this statue of a horse on the outskirts of the town we were staying in, and then when we went into Lagos for the day, I also found a horse on a carousel – can’t decide which one I prefer!
 A 10 a horse A 10 a horse 2
Shadows from the pots on the terrace at my sister’s house
A 11 Shadow
A trail leading up to the obelisk at Praia da Luz.  This was taken with a zoom lens from the terrace of the house.  I’m not sure what the obelisk was built for, and I have only ever trekked up there once as it’s a pretty steep climb, especially in the heat! 
 A 12 a trail
After dinner one evening, we walked along the promenade beside the beach and came across these two girls (and their dog) playing on the beach with a ball.
A 14 Person playing ball
Now this next one is stretching the boundaries a little.  While we were away, the Olympic games started in London and we watched the opening ceremony on the tv,  this is my take on a picture of someone dancing!
 A 15 person dancing
The church in Praia da Luz is really distinctive and the inside of it is really ornate.  I think it originally dates back to the early 1500s, but has been damaged in earthquakes and storms over the centuries.
 A 17 Church
The Algarve is full to bursting with outdoor stairways but the one I have chosen is the stairway that leads from a balcony at the house up to the roof terrace with a typical Portuguese chimney at the top.
A 19 outdoor stairway
This next one almost got me into trouble.  I looked across the terrace one day and noticed that in one of the other town houses, they had a hammock!  Whilst it isn’t hanging from a tree, it is hanging from a beam of wood and wood comes from trees so that counts, doesn’t it?  Anyhow, I had to sneak up a flight of steps and peer over the terrace wall in the hope that there was no one sunbathing up there!  Which is why the photo isn’t well composed, and has edges of barbecues, rubber rings and drying washing in it too.  I had visions of a window opening and someone asking why I was photographing their terrace!
A 20 hammock
And the last one that I got was a picture of me standing with something that symbolizes my nation.  Afternoon tea with scones, jam and clotted cream – what could be more British?
A 21 me with something british
So now I have to make some decisions, as some of these are duplicates of those I’ve found in Britain but I am positive that a fair few of these will make it into my final 21.  I still have one to find.  A bride. As my friend's daughter gets married on 23 August I'm quietly confident that I should be able to wait outside the church for when she arrives and get the last photo.   I really, really enjoy this project and love that Rinda has got so many people interested from all over the world.  And it’s great to see how different nations provide such diverse takes on the same category. Can't wait to browse around and see how everyone else is doing!  Why not pop over to Rinda's link up and join in the hunt!