Friday 31 July 2015

Scavenger update

Oh my goodness, we are well into the Scavenger Hunt now and it's time for a catch up of the photos we have found so far.  I am really hoping that my forthcoming trip to Italy will fill in the gaps of the more difficult to find items. I'm hoping that I may also find some replacements for some I'm not totally happy with.
A cellular tower, a metal bridge, people wearing matching outfits and an overloaded vehicle.
A panoramic view from somewhere high in the air and people plugged into social media.  My previous ones can be found here.
Now, I need to explain about the panorama one, there is actually more of that photo but it didn't fit into that template so it doesn't do it justice! It was taken at a high point of countryside near where I live and the views go on for miles. You don't really get the feeling for how high up we were - all I can say is that the little boy on his bike had to wait a long while for his family to catch him up that steep hill! I'm hoping I can replace this one, but I have a phobia of lifts so the chance of a rooftop view isn't going to happen. I'm hoping to find a nice hilltop somewhere where I can take a better (Italian) view, or maybe a shot from an aircraft! You can't get more high up in the air than that can you?
So I'm two thirds through - and really looking forward to clicking through the linky to see what everyone else has found.  I've loved checking the hashtag on Instagram to see the pictures and it always amazes me how different people can interpret the same category.  It's also interesting to see that something that is easy to find on one country is difficult to locate in another.  That's the fun of the hunt!  I also love the idea that all over the world, people are anxiously seeking out a flag pole with at least 3 flags flying from it.  Such a fun project that links so many people. 
Head on over to Rinda's blog later today to check out that linky!
I'm also at that point that is longing to tick the last one off the list but I know that the feeling of accomplishment will be swiftly followed by 'oh no, that's it until next year.'

Monday 27 July 2015

Me on the first Monday of the school holidays

When you have a terrible fear of dentists, and the thought of just a check up gives you sleepless nights in the week leading up to an appointment, what's the worst feeling you could have all weekend? Toothache. I woke up on Saturday with a little niggle of sensitivity, and by mid morning was googling 'home treatments for toothache'. Despite salt water washes and covering teeth with toothpaste for sensitive teeth, by Sunday I realised I would have to start Monday by 'biting the bullet' (ironic turn of phrase) and trying to get an emergency appointment. I don't like going twice a year so to have to add an extra visit, which would clearly end in fear and pain, was not appealing.  I tried to convince myself it could be sinus related so considered the possibility of a doctor's appointment too.  One way or another I need to get this sorted before my holiday!
So this is how Me on Monday looks

How cruel to have a cafe advertising Milky Way chocolate milkshakes right next door to the dentist!
Anyway after a thorough investigation, blasts of cold air to find the sensitive tooth, a deep X-ray and general poke around, the diagnosis was porous enamel. So with a covering of sealant over it, I skipped happily out the door.  I was imagining far, far worse so to come out with just a bill for £17 was a huge relief.  Unfortunately I was to have no food and drink for two hours so I wasn't able to slink in next door and celebrate with a milkshake.

I've also been with Coco to Pets at Home to choose some pick and mix treats and buy a 10m training lead.  She's been a bit of a pickle off lead recently and there's a stretch of woodland near our park which is obviously full of rabbits.  You can see her stop, nose up in the air, whiskers a-twitching, front paw up in the classic hunting pose and she's off.  There's been a lot of calling, whistling and recall button clicking before she returns covered in twigs and mud. So, no more off lead in that area until bunny season is over again. Our neighbour's dog was gone 45 mins in that area last week and returned bruised and bloodied so I think the bunnies are fighting back! I reckon 10 metres of freedom is plenty for her to have a good run round without the stress of losing her.
Once again we had all four seasons in one weekend here. We had so much rain on Friday that parts of the town were submerged. Whenever this happens the local papers always get a picture of a car up to its wheel arches in flooding, why do they try and get through? Crazy.  Then Saturday was nice, then it all returned again yesterday.  Our daughter went to see the Anniversary games at the Olympic Park on Saturday and had a fab time. It's one of those places that is on my list of wanting to go. It's so close, there really is no excuse.
So, how's your Monday shaping up? I'm giving a big wave to Sian to say welcome back and thanks for suggesting we all share our Mondays.

Friday 24 July 2015

Two days of the holidays in

And I've already spent a lot of money.  Money well spent though I believe.  You see it's our 35th wedding anniversary this year and we've been talking about going away for a long weekend for a while.  We've also been talking about visiting Lisbon for a while.  So let's just say it's great when a plan comes together. 
I'm sharing another scavenger hunt photo: the one that shows people plugged into social media.  Here's my daughter and her partner; with her watching 'Love Island' on her ipad and him checking instagram:

I'm hoping that I will be able to get the majority of the outstanding ones when we go away.  England really isn't that much of a flag flying country and the chance of getting three on a flagpole is not going to be easy I fear.  I'm hoping that Italy will be more patriotic!  My husband's already talking about getting a local bus to Lucca and Pisa so I'm cautiously optimistic about a ticket office being ticked off the list too.  Fancy door knockers?  Old Italian towns must be full to overflowing of those surely? 

The good news is that my toe is getting better (those of a delicate disposition or foot phobia should look away now)
Still pretty bruised but I can now get a sandal on without crying out in pain and I can move my toe again.  So I think the initial diagnosis of broken toe may have been a bit over the top but badly bruised seems to be accurate.  Will it be fully healed by the time I get on a plane ... watch this space and keep your fingers (and toes) crossed for me.  It's got time to heal, provided I don't do anything else stupid.  Maybe I should wear protective footwear for the next week or so - just in case! 

Monday 20 July 2015

Me on Monday - the one that involves an ice pack

Even though she isn't around to wave back, I'm giving a big Monday wave to Sian just to let her know that we are keeping Me on Monday going in her absence.
My Monday started off well, even though I found myself in a dilemma.  Actually I found myself in the middle of the Aged 9 - 12 section of Waterstones trying to choose a book for my nephew's daughter's birthday.   
I didn't actually buy this one because although it ticked a few of the boxes for a fashion conscious 9 year old, I thought it was a little bit too 'grown up' for her.  However, by the time I had found one that I thought was right, more people had arrived and the opportunity for doing a 'selfie' had passed.  Of course I couldn't leave Waterstones without a couple of books for myself, I mean come one, there was an omen as soon as I walked in.  A huge sign saying 'buy one get one half price'.  Oh, go on then.
So it was going well at that point.  Holiday books sorted, birthday present sorted, I'd browsed round the Next sale and come out empty handed, and I headed into Sainsburys to get some food for the next few days.  Paid for my shopping, went out the shop, down the travelator to the car park level, through the sliding doors ... when suddenly the trolley wheel got caught on the small ramp that covers the join where the stair well ends and the car park begins.  The trolley came to an abrupt halt and my foot kept moving forwards.  Ouch!  I caught my little toe on the metal of the wheel and boy did it hurt.  But you know how when something like that happens and you find yourself thinking oh my goodness that is agony but I have to keep walking as if nothing has happened?  So whilst I wanted to shout out 'my toe, my toe, I think I've broken my toe' I bravely limped my way back to the car. 
You know in cartoons when someone hurts themselves and that part of their body swells to 10 times its normal size, turns bright red and throbs?  Well that is what it felt like driving home.  In fact it was a bit disappointing to see when I got home and took my shoe off, as it just looked a bit puffy and bright red.  In fact in this photo, you can't even really see any difference

But after resting it on an ice block for half an hour the bruising has really come out and the toe is twice its normal size and absolutely black with bruising underneath.  There's not much sympathy coming my way from Coco.
Did you have a good weekend?  The weather here was better than forecast which is always a bonus.  The weekend started on Friday with an Indian meal with friends to celebrate one of our group taking early retirement.  Although I've seen the list of jobs his wife has in store for him and he may be begging to go back to work when he realises it's not going to be all reading the newspapers and overdosing on Sky Sports.
Working in a school, I never seem to get my brain into holiday mode until we've actually broken up and every year I find myself in a flat panic because I've left everything to the last minute.  Aha!  Not this year!  On Saturday I started on my lists.  Oh there are many, many lists involved in going away so it was a good time to start.  We're flying with Ryanair so I went online and did my checking in, even printed off my boarding passes.  Must remember to keep them somewhere safe and not forget to take them to the airport with us.  I even ordered my currency.  Sainsburys were doing a good rate and if you link your nectar card you get a preferential rate AND nectar points for the purchase.  Result!  Then it was time to start the packing list.  Now all I need to do is remember where I've put the beach wear from last year so that I can make sure it all still fits!
Yesterday was a relaxing day, in fact I don't really have much to show for the day!  Which, I guess is what Sundays are all about.
Hope you are having a good Monday - I only have 2 more days to work and then I'm free until September 1st - Oh the joys of working in a school!


Saturday 18 July 2015

Summer of Colour The final week

The last Summer of Colour week!  These weeks have flown by and I've really enjoyed participating in this series. Some lovely bright colours to mix this week:

So, without further ado, the final mandala of the series:
I know you must be fed up hearing from me about how relaxing it is to draw these mandalas but I'll say it one more time - you just get so absorbed in chasing your pattern around the circle!  I thought I would try and multi-task by starting this one off while watching an episode of Nashville (any other Nashville fans out there?  Wow, what an episode this week!) and I had to rewind the recording and start all over again because (spoiler alert if you haven't seen it) one minute the main character was all lovely-dovey and trying on her wedding dress and the next time I looked up she was in a car taking off her engagement ring and driving away while her husband-to-be destroyed the chairs which were all lined up ready for the ceremony.  Clearly I had missed something rather huge in the storyline while drawing around swirls with my gold pen.  (Which I love and may try and find a way to use every single day)
It's going to be a funny old week at work this week.  Our school breaks up on Wednesday - hooray! - but it will be the last day of work for my closest colleague.  She will have been there 20 years and is about the only person in my office who's been there longer than me.  She's an author and is leaving so that she can write full time.  It's going to be so weird without her sitting at the desk next to mine.  I predict tears at some point on Wednesday.  Probably at several points on Wednesday actually.  Must remember to take a box of tissues with me.  But, on a brighter note - no more work until September 1st for me after that!  Oh the joys of working in a school.  I wonder how many mandalas I can draw in six weeks ... 

Monday 13 July 2015

Me on a Mary Berry inspired Monday

Remember when phones simply made calls and sent texts? A full battery would last a week and the phone fitted into the smallest of pockets.  Well it was a 'back to old school' day on Saturday.
My son had a pretty unpleasant experience on Wednesday last week.  Whilst standing at a pedestrian crossing on his way home at night with his phone in his hand, a moped driver went past and swiped it out of his hand.  A not very old iphone 6.  Gone in the blink of an eye.  Somewhat in shock, he continued home, reported it stolen and tried to get his head round what had just happened!  I'm not quite sure what benefit this kind of theft has as once a phone is reported stolen nowadays, it's pretty much useless as once the number has been blocked and the IMEI number reported, you can't ever unlock it.  But of course the process of insurance takes its time and he had to wait 3 days for a police officer to come and take his statement, then they had to type up the report, then send him a copy  ... meanwhile he was without a phone.  Being a mum with a nervous disposition I didn't like to think of him living in North London without any means of communication especially as he is prone to travelling on buses and walking home late at night so when he popped home at the weekend to go to a friend's barbecue, I bought him a very basic phone just so that he could be contacted, or make contact, in an emergency.  Guess how much it cost me?  A brand new phone with a month of unlimited texts and 250 minutes of talk time.  £15 all in.  What a bargain!

The new kitchen hosted another dinner for friends in the evening.  Our daughter and her partner popped round to make us some pre-dinner mojitos because James makes rather brilliant cocktails and let's just say that they made more mess making drinks than I did making a 3 course dinner!  People do not seem to understand the new kitchen rules!

Sunday saw our dinner plans change several times.  First I was cooking for just 3: my husband, his mum and me.  Then Jon said he may still be here but not his girlfriend as she was popping over to see her dad. Up to 4. Then she wasn't going to go to her dad's so the number went up to 5.  Then Rachel said she'd like to come over with James as Jon was here.  Now up to 7 and I'm seriously thinking that the joint of lamb is going to be nowhere near big enough.  Then Paul's mum rang and said she wasn't feeling well so she wouldn't come.  Down to 6.  Then Jon and Sophie decided that they would see Soph's dad for coffee and go home from there.  Down to 4. Which is where it stayed.  Panic averted and plenty of lamb for everyone!
Wimbledon Mens' Final game in the afternoon.  There was a short rain break which I took advantage of to make up a batch of Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Cakes.  Oh my - every recipe in this new book of hers is a winner!  However, it is a traybake cake and cuts into about 20 squares so I thought I'd pack some up to take into work today to make my fellow secretaries happy.  Which is why this is Me on Monday - packing up cake to take into work.

Let's just say that there were a lot of smiling faces in the office at coffee time this morning.

Giving a big old wave to Sian, although I'm not sure she'll see it as she's off on an adventure. I'm waving anyway - are you? 

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Summer of Colour Week five

Look how beautiful the colour combination chosen for the Summer of Colour is this week. 
So my personal challenge this week was to be less fussy and not to have a circular edge to my mandala.   Boy, it took every bit of restraint not to join those up those outside points! 
If joining in this project has taught me one thing, it's the calming effect of drawing one of these!  Time just goes and you're so totally absorbed in following your design around the sections of the circle.  It is so relaxing.  Of course, the first thing I see when I look at the photo I took is the fact that I seem to be unable to actually centre the circle into the middle of the paper!
There are some crazily clever people taking part in this challenge and my drawings are so simplistic in comparison - please do pop over there and click on some links and prepare to be amazed at some of the work that people are doing.  The word 'inspirational' doesn't even come close. 
I'm in the process of poem writing today.  My work colleague is leaving to be a full time author and historically, she will always write a poem for people who leave the office.  So I volunteered to write one for her.  'How hard can it be?'  I wondered.  Hard.  Really hard!  So I finished my first draft of it and asked my husband to listen while I read it out to him to see how it sounded and whether I had got the rhythm of the lines right.  It was hard to tell at the end as I found I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye and I could barely read the lines out.  That's good in a farewell poem - right?!  Back to the drawing board ...

Monday 6 July 2015

Me on the first Monday in July

Would anyone mind if we put the weekend on ‘rewind’?  It went by in a flash (in more ways than one) and I think I could do with few more weekend hours.
It was a weekend of sunshine and showers horrendously loud and bright thunderstorms and torrential rain. As often happens here, the temperatures get higher and higher and end with a storm.  At just after midnight on Saturday morning I was woken by a bright flash of lightening which was followed almost immediately by a clap of thunder, which was then followed by the sound of a dog frantically trying to claw her way out of the kitchen to get upstairs and protect her family.  {She takes her job as family safety officer very seriously.  She wasn’t scared for herself of course, it was her humans that she needed to check up on.} I knew that she would be terrified so ran downstairs, opened the kitchen door and she flew past me taking the stairs two at a time until she was safely in our bedroom.  I dragged her bed upstairs, put it on the floor of our bedroom and we all tried to settle back down to sleep.  After about half an hour the storm gradually subsided and we went back to sleep … until 2.30am when it returned with a vengeance! 
Saturday saw me preparing for friends to come over for dinner in the evening.  My first proper meal for guests in the new kitchen.  I’ve never been so tidy or so organised!  I cooked as much as I could in advance and I have to recommend the dessert that I made, Lemon Meringue Pie that Mary Berry demonstrated in her recent series.  O.M.G.  Seriously good and seriously easy.  The weather was lovely and we were able to sit outside after dinner until it got quite dark and someone mentioned something like ‘is that a bat flying around your tree?’  Because honestly, that is a sentence that never fails to make me dash back inside! 
Sunday was a real mix of weather and we got drenched taking Coco out in the morning.  If we’d waited a couple of hours we would have saved ourselves a lot of drying off time.  I was so tired after disturbed sleep on Friday night and then a late night on Saturday I have to ashamedly admit to a post-dinner nap.  Oh that lovely feeling of having had your Sunday lunch, with a mojito to go with it, sun shining in through the patio doors, feet up, lots of cushions, ‘I’ll just close my eyes for a moment …’ ‘Oops, now it’s mid afternoon and I still haven’t loaded the dishwasher.’Not too many more Mondays at work left this academic year Smile,three to be exact which is a great thought until I think about all the work I need to get done before the end of term.  I know people think that school secretaries have an easy life (we don’t) and how lovely it must be to get the long summer holidays and still be paid (it really is) but we do in effect have to fit 6 weeks work into the last week of term so we can hit the ground running when we return in September. You still don’t feel sorry for me do you?  You’re still thinking of not working for six weeks and still getting paid aren’t you?  You’ll just have to take my word for it – the next few weeks are going to be manic!
So what am I doing this Monday?
Today should have been the day the new blinds went up in the kitchen. As you can see, there were some blinds that went up. However it is a large bay window and although the two side blinds went in perfectly, the large one that goes across the front was sent 8cm wider than the measurements! It's so frustrating, as I was hoping this would have been ticked off the 'things left to do' list today. Anyway, it means I can stand at the window and give a big wave to Sian before I pop over there to see what she's up to this Monday.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Summer of Colour Week four

As the temperature went soaring into the 30s here in the UK, it was appropriate for the colour combination to have a hot feel to it! 2 red plus a metallic 
Was hard to find a metallic coloured plant in the garden but then I remembered this ornamental thistle that (with a bit of imagination) has silver tones!
How lucky I had my trusty silver pen to put to good use this week
I seem to be stuck in a groove of keeping the outer edge of the mandalas circular, so next week I have every intention of softening the shape with a more random design. Watch this space!
Its forecast to be the hottest day of the year here today and we have a wedding to go to later. The catering is being done by the Aussie Barbecue Company and I have high hopes for a rather delicious hog roast or similar in the grounds of the reception venue. Plus of course a glass or two of something chilled to toast the happy couple!