Saturday, 30 June 2018

June 2018

Well here we are, halfway though 2018 with the longest day of the year already behind us. Apart from a short lived thunderstorm I think I can only recall a couple of light showers this month and even they seemed to be over as soon as they'd started. 

The weather continues to be good and from the amount of back garden activity that's taking place around here everybody seems to be making the  most of it. I expect the firefighters on Saddleworth Moor are hoping for rain though. They've been waging war against fires up there since Sunday evening and the army are now helping out. We live 12 miles away and can smell the burning from here. Stand on the road just next to ours and you can see the smoke rising from the moors. Our windowsills and cars are covered in ash and at night we've had to close windows and doors. I dread to think what it must be like for residents much closer. Some have been evacuated but a lot are just having to deal with it.    
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Exams are over for Amy and it's just a case of waiting for the results. It's strange not to see her sat at the dining room table surrounded by pens, sticky notes, paper and text books. Instead she seems to be permanently glued to the sofa or her bed or out at parties.Which is fine. She's put a load of effort into studying so a little downtime is well deserved. She's also working some extra shifts at the shop so she's not really being as lazy as I make out although she does seem to spend a lot of time with her eyes closed. It was 4pm when I took this and she'd been asleep for 2 hours having only got up at 11am! 
Thomas only has another 3 weeks at school and then he'll be finishing for the summer holidays. Apart from a couple of blips at the beginning of the year which I completely expected, on the whole his first year has been OK. He won an afternoon on inflatables last week, he's off to Peveril Castle on Monday for a geography trip and he's chosen bowling for his end of year trip. There were 3 choices, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Chester Zoo and Bowling. There's also the choice to stay in school and do art/sport/films etc. He chose bowling because it's the shortest trip on offer! He doesn't have to be in school until 9.45am and is home by 2.45pm. The other trips are full days from 8am-5.30pm. 
I wasn't going to crochet or sew anything this month apart from the hearts until I found another bag of wool at the back of the wardrobe. I've never known wool last as long as mine does. I make loads of things but I can't for the life of me get rid of the damn stuff. Anyway, I hooked up a blanket in some pastel colours and I've started a 'man blanket' in a bid to use up the darker colours I have. I won't bother with anything else now until September when I have the house to myself again.
Aunty Edith came for a visit and is looking as well as ever. She's had her second cataract done and apart from struggling to hear she's in tip top condition and running on 100% original body parts. At just 10 weeks shy of her 95th birthday I think that's quite an achievement. There's 76 years between these two yet they always find something to talk about. 
When Mark was visiting Joan last week one of the carers asked him if he thought she'd like to have a go at pedalling a bike. Turns out she didn't mean a proper bike, just a small wheel thing they put on the floor to get the resident's legs moving. Which all sounds well and good, but Joan has been there for over 3 years and they know she can't move her legs because they have to lift her when they need to move her. Mark stopped pointing the obvious out to staff months ago, so he just said "if you want to give it a go that's fine". Of course it was a non starter. 

It was Sienna's 2nd birthday yesterday. There was no party this year as she wasn't too impressed with a houseful of people on her 1st birthday. Instead Matthew and Sophie took her to the zoo. She's had a doll's pram from us and some clothes. They're off to Majorca in a few weeks so Sophie asked for some dresses for her. June is a busy month for birthdays in our family. There's Mum, Mark, Matthew, my brother and Sienna. Before Tom passed away he was also on the June list.
I'm loving being in the kitchen at the moment but I'm having to limit the sweet bakes to once a week. One of the nicest things Amy said to me this month was, "the trouble is Mum you're such a good cook". I enjoy faffing around so anything that involves piping gets a big thumbs up from me which is why I made Viennese Whirls and chocolate eclairs. I've never made choux pastry before. I don't know why, it's so simple to do. The only thing was the bottoms stuck to the baking tray so I couldn't fill them with cream, I had to sandwich 2 together instead.
I also made a summer berry cake which Amy declared the best cake ever. She's already put an order in for her birthday. I really had forgotten how much I enjoy baking. 
We celebrated 23 years of marriage this month. As you know we're very hit and miss with anniversaries and this year was a definite miss. No cards, no flowers, no gifts, no meal out. I won't be so blase about it in a couple of years though when it's our Silver. Back in the day I thought people who celebrated silver anniversaries were 'old' so it's hard to believe I'm nearly there myself. 

There have been a few more treats this month, a much needed pencil case for my 'special' pens, a new book which I'd made a note to buy several months ago but promptly forgot about and some Epsom salts which I've never used before but apparently they are good for drawing toxins from the body. Not sure whether I'm now toxin free but my skin definitely feels as though I've had some sort of spa treatment.
I've re-subscribed to PRIMA, and Mark bought me a Traveller's Notebook. Mum bought Amy one for her 18th and the feel of the soft leather is lovely. I'd never have spent money on one myself so was thrilled when Mark treated me. All I had to do was choose the colour and the inserts. It's one of those things that you either get or don't. There's nothing pretty or frilly about them but they're just so nice from a tactile point of view.
The garden is very odd this year. My bedding plants are fine but so far the clematis has only had one flower on it and although the rose bush has grown there's not a bud to be seen. I picked my first small posy this week. I don't have an abundance of flowers so can only afford to do this 2 or 3 times a year which makes each posy extra special. United Utilities have asked that in order to avoid a hosepipe ban, people don't use their hosepipes. My brain can't quite compute that but I do like to do my bit for the environment so I'm now using the water we usually just run down the sink until it's cold/hot enough for the tubs. 
We've been to the van as usual and on one of the weekends we visited Stanley Park and hired a pedalo. I'm all for equality but still like to be treated like a lady so was happy to sit in the back while the men did the hard work. 
And that's June. It's been a slow chilled month and apart from birthdays and anniversaries nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I'm making a small change regarding blogging for the next few months. I'm having a break from here but will be posting on Snapshots of Number 38 if anybody wants to take a look. I post quite often but there are no comments on although I'll still see any that are left on here.

Hope your June has been a good one and that July brings more good weather for us all but only after a big downpour to put the fires out on the moors :)  xx

Thursday, 31 May 2018

May 2018

So, here I am again. Already at the end of May which has finished a lot warmer than it started. And today is a special day to be blogging because I turned 51. Long time readers may remember the awful Tesco birthday cake Mark bought me a couple of years ago, which is one of the reasons I decided to make my own this year. It's lemon and elderflower, inspired by my discovery of an elderflower bush on the lane behind the caravan site and also the Royal Wedding - after all, if it's good enough for the Duchess of Sussex it's good enough for me. It's a bit OTT isn't it but now I'm over half a century old I've decided I officially don't care what people think ;)
I've had lots of lovely presents and cards. Thomas bought me a gift card for The Works and I received a very special gift from Amy. She's booked tickets for me and her to go and see Kinky Boots at The Opera House in November which I'm really looking forward to. Another favourite this year was a Mason Cash mixing bowl and some other kitchen paraphernalia from Mum. I've re-discovered my love of spending time in the kitchen so this is very appropriate and the first thing I used it for was my birthday cake. 
Among other treats Mark took me to the casino and although I invited Lady Luck she had a better offer as usual and I lost the £20 which is the limit I make Mark impose on me. Never mind, for that I got a good 90 minutes entertainment and suspect I went home a lot happier than the only other player on the table who managed to lose nearly £500 in the same amount of time and was still buying chips as we left!
Reflecting on the past year it's been a pretty good one especially lately, where for the first time in a long time, the days and weeks seem to be moving at a more leisurely pace. I think the main reason is family life is less frenetic and that's probably down to Thomas being in High School. Basically he goes and he comes home. There is nothing more requested of him and even less requested of parents. It's such a change from primary where I seemed to lurch from week to week trying to keep up with everything that was going on. 
Looking back at my posts since Christmas it's obvious I'm a routine blogger. I talk about the family, show what I've been making or baking, share a few snaps from our weekends away and add anything else on that I can think of. It's hardly riveting stuff but I love the simplicity of it all. It's just about life ticking over. 

Let's start with the family this time. Amy's exams are on the horizon - the first is on 4th June.  There have been a few wobbles and self-doubt about her ability and direction in life, but I think that's to be expected. She's worked so hard over the past 2 years that regardless of her results we know she couldn't have put any more effort in. When we're at the van she likes to wind down by inviting some friends to stay over. Just like her, it's all good fun but very low key, pizza, wine and a few sessions with Netflix. 
Last night she went to see Ru Paul's Werq The World in Manchester then out for drinks afterwards with her friend. She rolled in at 2.30am after texting me as instructed at various points throughout the night. "text me when you're in the theatre, text me when you're out of the theatre, text me when you're at the club, text me when you're in the taxi on the way home". Poor girl, I bet it was like having me there with her but she did as I asked which made for a more relaxed night than me sat here wondering if she was OK. She also added one on at the end and texted me to say she was in bed! Cheeky madam. She managed to drag herself out of her pit this morning to wish me happy birthday before slinking back off upstairs.  
Thomas seems to be growing daily and it won't be long before he's as tall as me. He's getting pretty strong as well. One of the benefits of living with a young man is definitely being able to call on their muscles when Dad isn't around. He wouldn't thank me for telling you this, but as big and strong as he is, he still enjoys a hug and I hope he always will. 
Sienna is doing really well and as Mum would say there's a bit of meat on her bones now. She's even got chubby cheeks. She never stops moving and she never stops chattering away to herself. Mark says she's a typical woman. 
For various reasons we had to miss out on 2 weekends at the van this month and we weren't able to stay for the whole of half term but that's OK. Knowing it's there waiting for us makes missed weekends easier to bear. Our trips are pretty standard so just a few snaps to give an idea of a typical weekend. 

Out and About - Lowther Park, Caravan Site, Beach. 
Eating - ranges from healthy to the not so healthy but very tasty!
Fun time - swingball, tennis and baseball - it all starts with laughs but quickly becomes competitive. Me and Thomas have a swing ball rally record of 480 to beat before summer ends. 
 Downtime - I find every minute of being at the van totally relaxing and whatever the weather the crochet or a book are never far away.
Trips - we don't usually visit anywhere as such but this time we went to Lytham Hall. There are tours of the house, but I'm saving that for summer along with a visit to the tea rooms. They do outside theatre as well but Thomas won't come because he doesn't like bees. In fact whenever we're out walking in anything remotely country-fied he's like Jack Douglas from the Carry On films with his arms flailing around like a mad man. 
The first photo shows the courtyard area where you can take your morning coffee or afternoon tea. We had a walk through the small vegetable garden and then around the grounds and through the woods. I had to zoom in for the lake shot as they'd cordoned it off because a heron is nesting there. 
There was also a  fair near us that we went to. Not that any of us are fans of rides apart from Amy and she wasn't with us, but Thomas likes the side stalls. He had a go on the shooting range, tried to throw a couple of ping pong balls into jars and then he hooked a duck where he only went and won a goldfish. When I looked at Mark he said "no bloody way is a goldfish coming home with us", so he had to settle for a fidget spinner instead lol. 
This month I've been baking brownies, bread and meringues. The meringue is looking a bit sorry for itself because it was left out overnight when we had family round for a meal and I was too tired to tidy up before I went to bed. I forgot to take a photo of the bread but I use a seeded mix which is delicious.
And although this can't be classed as anything more than splitting a vanilla pod and pouring vodka over it, I've made my own vanilla essence. If anybody is interested it's 2oz vodka to 1 vanilla bean. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for a couple of weeks before using and give it the occasional shake. It smells wonderful and according to the experts lasts for years. 
I've also made lap quilts for Manchester Royal's palliative care ward. I find quilting a really messy job and have to be in the mood for it so while the machine is out I tend to make 2 or 3. Then I get fed up of the mess and the machine goes away for a few weeks. I suppose this is really mock quilting because I don't actually do the quilting bit. I just attach a fleece backing and go round the border a couple of times to secure it but they're still snuggly and warm and they fold up easier too.
This one is for a man. I find making for men quite hard and I'm not totally sure I've pulled it off but hopefully it'll keep the chill of somebody. 
Treats, like most months, are really just bits and pieces but they make me feel like I've splurged on myself. A bottle of Pimm's, a hand painted pasta dish and a new nail polish.
More books, a box of delicious berry herbal teabags and a candle which is so strong it makes me cough. I've only lit it once and can't bring myself to light it again, but the tin is pretty. 
I can't get enough lisianthus at the moment and roses are always a favourite. These orange and lemon ones were from my brother's OH when they came round for the meal. 
The herbs in the kitchen are coming along nicely and I've planted the pots up in the garden. The splash of colour I see when looking out of the kitchen window is lovely although what isn't as nice is a squirrel that keeps digging in them and uprooting my flowers. Chili flakes sprinkled on top of the soil seems to be the answer.  
And that's about it for May. I need to catch up with what everybody is up to so will be visiting blogs over the next couple of days. 

Before I sign off though I can't leave without acknowledging that this month has been a particularly sad one for many people. In blogland there has been the sad news of Sue's husband Col passing away and in my own little part of the land it was the one year anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing. Words are hard to come by but I hope some comfort can be taken from knowing they're all in our thoughts. 

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