Monday 26 February 2024

Me on Monday 26 February

 It's all back to normal this week with half term being over and childcare back to its usual (shorter!) hours.

So tell me, did you start today with breakfast cereal?  I ask because today's historical info is that this is the day in 1852 that John Harvey Kellogg was born.  Little did they know how his humble cornflake would change the breakfasts of so many generations! My cereal of choice this morning was a bowl of his company's Fruit'n Fibre, with a generous helping of sliced banana on the top.  

Was last week good for you?  I started mine with meeting up with my friend which was lovely.  Then a whole day of Leo and Rosie where we enjoyed making things with some air dry clay and they then had great fun constructing a den out of four dining chairs, every cushion we possess and all my crochet blankets.  It kept them quiet for ages 😀

I managed to get a bit of crochet done this week while binge watching One Day on Netflix.  I had already read the book so was prepared for how it ended, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We finally sat down and browsed the Airbnb site to find somewhere to go in this country with Coco in May, so if anyone reading this knows the Whitstable area in Kent, let me know any places we should visit while we are there!  

So how is this week looking?  Well later today we are planning a trip to a gallery near us where Paul's art teacher has a painting in an exhibition.  Then not too many plans for the rest of the week other than meeting up with some people I used to work with for lunch on Thursday.  I will have done my Zumba class earlier in the morning so won't feel guilty if I succumb to a dessert!

February seems to have gone in a flash and March is just around the corner now - spring is on its way! Have a good week x

Friday 23 February 2024

What I've been reading in February

Both books this month were recommended by Gail at  Is this mutton?

First up, The Secret Pianist by Andie Newton

This is set in the French town of Boulogne sur Mer during the time of the German occupation.  A British RAF plane comes under fire while flying over the town and forced to abandon its cargo of spy messenger carrier pigeons.  One of the birds is found by Martine, one of three sisters living in the town.  She is excited about the opportunity to feed information back to the English but her sisters Gaby and Simone are hesitant to draw attention to themselves.  

Gaby comes to the attention of a German Commandant who orders her to teach his daughter to play the piano.  When their neighbours discover this, they are tarnished with the 'bad French' reputation for supposedly assisting the Germans.  Martine convinces her sisters that they must take advantage of having a means to give information to the British to locate German U boat pens.  They find a way to disguise messages on sheets of piano music and release the bird at the dead of night.  But have they been successful in their plan to help the resistance or put themselves into greater danger?

I really enjoyed this book.  It was well written and I have a vivid picture of the sisters in my mind as I read the story.  You find yourself emotionally involved in their plight and the narrative really takes you to occupied France and the difficulties for the people living in the small towns.


The next book was very different, My Sister's Baby by Louise Guy

This is the story of three sisters. Mandy suffered learning difficulties following a childhood illness which meant that her parents had to pay her far more attention growing up which has led to a strong feeling of resentment from her sister Toni.  Liv found herself in a life threatening accident which resulted in the need for a kidney transplant. Her sister Toni was the only member of the family to be a suitable match and she did not hesitate to be her sister's donor.

Toni and her husband have been unsuccessful in having children despite rounds of IVF and Liv would give anything to be able to help her sister just as she had helped her when she needed a kidney.  So when Liv finds herself in a situation where she could help Toni fulfil her dream of becoming a mother, she breaks all the rules and decides to offer Toni a baby to adopt.  The baby is born at home with the help of a doula to avoid questions in a hospital and in order to make it look as if baby Ruby is Toni's actual baby, she falsifies the birth certificate by entering the wrong names of the birth mother and father.  

Things then start to go wrong, Toni is not finding motherhood as fulfilling as she expected, she is constantly worried that Liv will change her mind and ask for the baby back.  Not only that but she finds it hard to bond with the baby and cannot wait to return to work.  Not long after, the secret of what Liv has done is discovered and Liv finds herself being blackmailed.  She can't tell the police as that would mean admitting the fraud she has committed.  

I have to be honest and say that I figured out the story behind Ruby's birth before it was revealed but it didn't stop me enjoying the book!  My heart went out to Mandy who is aware that she is seen by some to be a burden and how her sister Toni dislikes her.  I didn't like Toni especially regarding her treatment of Mandy and how she quickly decides that after all these years of being desperate for a baby, motherhood is not for her after all.  Her lies to her family and husband trip off her tongue too easily.

I enjoyed both books, thanks to Gail for the recommendations!


Monday 19 February 2024

Me on Monday 19 February

 Hello to the start of a new week!

How can a TV show help name your baby?  It was this day in 1985 that the first episode of the TV soap 'Eastenders' aired.  Little did we know that this programme would influence the name that we gave our daughter when I fell pregnant at the end of that year.  We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl so struggled to find two names that we both liked.  For a girl we narrowed it down to two, Michelle or Rachel.  But as Eastenders became increasingly popular, the character of Michelle Fowler became so well known and we realised that our baby would quite possibly be referred to as 'Shell' or 'Meesh'.  Said in a cockney accent!  Which is why she was named Rachel instead. Of course that became 'Raych' as she got older, why do people always have to shorten names?  

It's half term this week so our routines are altered.  We'll have Leo and Rosie all day on Tuesday but won't have Olive or Max as their aunty from Brooklyn, New York is over for a week and they'll be spending time with her.  

We had a momentous event at the end of last week.  We went to Cambridge and when we got to the 'Park and Ride', Paul was able to use his bus pass for the first time!  What a novelty.  It was a lovely sunny day in Cambridge, while Paul was browsing book shops and artists suppliers I happily browsed the shops and managed to find a couple of things for him to give me for my birthday.  Then lunch at our favourite Aromi Sicilian restaurant.  A nice way to spend a Friday.

It's all about the Italian restaurants this week as we met up with my sister and cousin at a 'new to us' Italian in a village midway between where we all live.  It was so delicious and rightly deserves all the great reviews it gets from people who live in that area.  So I ended the week with food, and I'm starting this one with food. I'm meeting up with a friend I met at my first job back in 1976 - my waistline needs me to stop organising social events which involve eating and drinking!

Monday 12 February 2024

Me on Monday 12 February

 Does everyone have their eggs, flour and milk ready for Shrove Tuesday/pancake day tomorrow?  How do you like your pancakes?  Small and chunky like American pancakes, or thin and delicate like a French crepe?  What about toppings - do you drizzle with honey and sprinkle blueberries and sliced strawberries on them, or a more traditional lemon juice and a sprinkle of caster sugar?  We have Leo and Rosie here on a Tuesday and they have already put in their requests for American style with honey or Nutella on them.  I will have my lemon and caster sugar ready for my thinner version!

I need to have a week of eating less after last week which included two lunches out and friends over for Sunday lunch yesterday.  However we will be ending the week with dinner out with my sister and cousin to a new to us Italian restaurant but maybe 6 good days out of 7 will be fine!

We had absolutely torrential rain here last week, the water on the lake rose really high and there were several pockets of flooding on the roads nearby.  It was a good excuse to stay indoors and get my jigsaw finished - gosh it was a tough one.

Not to mention my crochet coming along nicely, I'm definitely enjoying this one and intending to slowly enjoy each new part rather than impatient to get on with the next part.  I'm dreadful at rushing through things to move on so am really having to restrain myself to just do a little bit every day and not even look at what the next square is all about.  I'm only printing the pattern instructions as I need them instead of downloading them all en masse.  

Random piece of information this week is that it is Darwin Day.  I'm not sure it's something I will be celebrating and we didn't get round to organising an oriental meal for Chinese New Year this year either.   However, Pancake Day will always be celebrated here!  Have a good week x

Monday 5 February 2024

Me on Monday 5 February

Although we have lots of daffodil leaves peeking through the ground, there is just one solitary flower standing sentry in the front garden.  Come on sunshine, let's see if we can entice a few more to open up and show off their petals!

 After a full on week of helping out here, there and everywhere, it was nice to have a weekend with very little on the calendar.  Just a meal out as a belated birthday celebrations for my friend whose birthday is Christmas Day and for Paul whose birthday was on 12 December.  As December is always super busy they decided to celebrate at the beginning of the year when things are somewhat quieter.  

It was nice to catch up on doing some baking and a few more rounds of my crochet this weekend - square number two is now complete!  I'm trying to pace myself more with this blanket.  Normally I start and then can't wait to have it finished but I'm going to take my time over this one and enjoy the process more than just wanting to see what the end result is!

So today sees me meeting up with my friend Sally.  We were really close friends after meeting back in 1986 when we were both expecting our first babies and that friendship has continued despite her moving away when her husband changed jobs.  Not too far that we couldn't still meet up but too far for a couple of hours to just have a cup of coffee.  Now she has retired too we have picked a point half way between our homes and will be meeting for lunch and I can't wait!  I haven't seen her in person for almost a year so we have much news to share and lots of grandchildren photos to share.

I shall be ending the week as I start it with lunch with a friend that I go to Zumba with.  Although we see each other every Thursday, there isn't time for a proper chat before or after class so we plan to have a nice leisurely lunch putting the world to rights.

Without giving the impression I do nothing but eat and drink, we also have friends coming for Sunday lunch next weekend so I really need to think about what I will be cooking. That's not a chore though, I enjoy looking through cookery books.

Nearly forgot my random piece of information; it was this day in 1924 that the Greenwich Time Signal (six short 'pips' to mark the start of the hour) was introduced. I feel that in honour of this, I should schedule this post to go live exactly on the hour of 8.00 am!

Is spring starting to come into sight where you live?  I think it is gradually creeping closer here, thank goodness.