Saturday, 31 May 2014

It's My Birthday!

I've been blogging for exactly one year today, which means it's my birthday! At 47 years old I'm feeling quite young, because I actually thought I was 48. I really must find out which tablet is making me so dizzy lately although I'm pretty certain it's the statin.

Thomas bought me this lovely crystal angel from a crafts market while we were in Cirencester. Emerald is my birthstone and I love angels, so was thrilled with this.
 And Amy snuck out to buy me this diary I'd admired and a couple of books. I couldn't have chosen better myself and I shall be reading Sweet Temptation in a hot bubble bath tonight.

Mark bought me a new charm for my bracelet. Can you see the two little people? They represent my birth sign - Gemini and as an added bonus there is one boy and one girl, so it also reminds me of the children. I also have an afternoon tea at Nutters lined up for me which I'm really looking forward to.

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours at a local hotel with Mum, my sister-in-law and niece, drinking coffee, eating delicious carrot cake and catching up on all the latest. I was given a book, perfume, scarf and bottle of prosecco. I'm thrilled with everything I've received; I really am a lucky girl.
It's been a bit of a reflective day as well. When I look back over my posts they are a wonderful reminder of all the fun times we've had together and all the everyday stuff that just happens in life - mostly good, some not so good.

I think I've achieved what I set out to do with this project which was to create something that Mark, Amy & Thomas could look back on - just in case anything happened to me.  

Thankfully, all is well at the moment (touch wood), and the need to create so many 'hard copy' memories doesn't seem so imperative lately, hence the less frequent posts. I did mention to Mark and Amy that I might wind the whole blogging malarkey up now, but this was met with great protests. Apparently, they both enjoy reading it and remembering what we've been up to. 

So, I shall continue with my ramblings for a while longer. Today is yet another day that I'm grateful for and I'm once again feeling truly blessed.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Cirencester - Bibury

There's no such thing as a bad camera shot in Bibury. I find it hard to believe I lived here once. It really is a chocolate box village.
This little bridge takes us over the stream to the trout farm. I know I'm biased but my children are gorgeous!!
The weather hasn't been as kind to us as usual, but the sun popped out for this little jaunt.
This time I bought a big £5 tub of fish food thinking it would last us ages. Did it heck! After a lot of enthusiastic throwing by Thomas it had gone halfway round.
Unlike Amy, Mark hasn't quite perfected the natural pose yet.
A good photo opportunity. This tractor is in the play area. I wanted Thomas to sit in the seat but there were about 3 drops of water on it so he refused.
 A girl is never too old for messing around on monkey bars.
 Thomas being very adventurous climbing up one handed.
This tree was blown over in the storms over Valentines Weekend. It's landed right in the lake and can't be moved until June, which is when the lake is emptied of the fish. 
This family of swans glided right over to see us. Thomas stood on the bottom step to get a better look, until mother swan paddled over to him with a mean 'don't mess with my babies' look in her eye. He shot back up onto the path pretty quickly.
 There were 7 baby swans (or cygnets) altogether - so cute. 
No trip to Cirencester is complete without a trip to the trout farm. Feeding the fish is such a simple activity but one that we all really enjoy.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Cirencester Hare Festival

We've been hare spotting today. These sculptures are all around Cirencester and I think they are quite lovely.

This one is 'wearing' a baby pink jumper and stands outside our hotel.
 This rather grand looking Egyptian style one stands in the foyer of the church.
 This one is on display in a covered walkway full of shops
 And this one stands in the Woolmarket, wearing a handmade beaded shawl
According to the information leaflet there are around 50 hares dotted all over Cirencester. The aim is to spot each one and enter a prize draw. Several artists have designed them and a fair few have been sponsored by local celebrities, of which Cirencester has plenty. 

I've not researched it too much and there's no way I'm spending my holiday trying to find 50 hares, as beautiful as they are. We've seen a fair few though and it's lovely to walk into the the museum, art gallery, bookshop or cafe and bump into yet another one.

At the end of the exhibition they will go up for auction and I have to say I wouldn't mind owning one!


Monday, 26 May 2014

Busy Doing Nothing - Again!

Can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. Sometimes the days just fly by, although if you asked me what I'd been doing then 'busy doing nothing' would be a perfect description.

Thomas' teacher rang me last week to ask if I'd like to go with them on their summer trip. They're going to Knowsley Safari Park. I love Knowsley, we've been loads of times, so I jumped at the chance. Obviously, voluntary reading and library duties pay off at his new school!

I've had to ring Amy's school to speak to the Head of Maths. Long story short. One good maths teacher left. Other good maths teacher (Amy's) now split between 2 classes. Newly Qualified teacher brought in on supply to cover 2 out of 4 lessons. Kids messing around, teacher can't control them, Amy struggles with maths anyway, Amy's grade slipping. I was told the supply teacher won't be returning after half term - nothing to do with me by the way, she was leaving anyway.

We're going to Cirencester for a couple of days this week to see my sister. We don't stay with them, we book into a local hotel and dip in and out of all the goings on in her house as and when is appropriate. I'm really looking forward to seeing them all. There's been a new addition to the family since we were last there, a grandson who's now 6 months old. Can't wait to give him a squeeze. 

No trip is ever complete unless we go to Bibury to feed the fish at the trout farm and I think a trip to the local museum and a swim in the lake at the water park, followed by a picnic or BBQ might also be on the agenda. Cirencester itself, is lovely to walk around, lots of shops to mooch around and the church and the Abbey grounds are beautiful. I expect the visit will go far too quickly as usual. 

Hope you've all had a good Bank Holiday weekend. I'll post some photos over the weekend. 


Monday, 19 May 2014

Rainbow Cake and Cake Pops

Amy wanted to bake Sunday afternoon. She's a cracking little cake maker and is always happy to rustle up a Victoria sponge or some fairy cakes for me.

This week she wanted to put her skills to the test and make some cake pops and a rainbow cake, so I was duly sent out to buy the required utensils and ingredients.

First up were the cake pops. She decided to make a blue sponge for a change. I've never used a silicone mould before and the cake stuck slightly so I need to check if there's anything you need to do to prevent that from happening.
She'd googled how to make them and one tip was to dip the stick into chocolate first so that it 'glues' itself into place. After a few minutes you can cover them in chocolate.
I made her pose for a photo halfway through eating one!
Next was a rainbow cake. She divided the mixture into four and added red, blue, green and yellow food colouring.
Then layered it in the tin before drawing a skewer through it to mix it up a bit.
Concentrating hard on the task in hand! She bought this dress in Wales. She came out of the changing room and Thomas told her she looked like a Christmas Elf. I think she looks gorgeous!
Here's the finished product. It turned out exactly how she wanted and tastes delicious as usual.
 I love that she can just take herself into the kitchen and bake. It's a good skill to have and the cakes she make are lovely. 


Sunday, 18 May 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Homemade Lemonade

A sunny day calls for homemade lemonade. Amy is usually chief lemonade maker but she's growing up now and wanted to paint her nails instead.

So, after making his rainbow wrap at school yesterday, Thomas is now head grater at Number 38.

It's a simple recipe. 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, 3 lemons. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat. Grate the rind of the lemons, then cut them in half and squeeze out the juice. Add the juice and rind to the dissolved sugar water and then top up with 4 cups of cold water. Delicious. 

Head Grater
 No need for a lemon squeezer. The men of the house have enough muscle power to squeeze every drop out.
Measuring and pouring. Always the best bit.
We don't drink fizzy drinks very often. In fact a bottle of lemonade can be rolling around the fridge for 6 months. But this is lovely and I don't think it'll last very long.

The amount of sugar that goes in here means we don't have this very often which makes it even more of a treat.


PS. If anybody ever wonders why Thomas is always half naked in the photos he has a thing about clothes or rather not wearing them. He can just about get through a day in school uniform as long as every label has been cut out, but as soon as he gets home it's everything off and a pair of PJ bottoms on. Just thought I'd mention that! xx

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Jamie Oliver Food Revolution

We had a letter home from Thomas' school yesterday. His class are taking part in the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution day on Friday. Apparently, classes in schools all over the country will be going on-line and 'cooking with Jamie'.

They're going to be making rainbow salad wraps and as you can see there's quite a list of ingredients required. Thankfully they will all be provided by school,which is just as well as I'm sure if I had to buy all that it would cost a pretty penny.

The children do have to take in an apron and a box grater though. The grater worries me slightly. I'm happy to let Thomas grate under my supervision but I'm not sure how he'll get on in class trying to grate in sync with Jamie in a 30 minute time slot. Any hint of a countdown in Thomas' life and he goes to pieces, so I'm really hoping there isn't a continual reminder of how much time they've got left.

In all honesty there's no way Thomas is going to eat the wrap and the list of ingredients seems a bit OTT to me. 

I'm not really into celebrity chefs. I'd be more impressed if the school cook went into the classroom to show them how to make something.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I'll be stocking up on the plasters and bracing myself for the fall out of the clock ticking.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Library - Walk of Shame

I had to do the walk of shame into the library today. At the weekend I found some books in Amy's wardrobe that had been taken out last August! Thankfully they were on her card so there wasn't a charge and the librarian was very nice about it. 
 There was actually one still outstanding so when I got home I had to have another rummage around until I found it.

It's been a bit of a library week actually. Thomas' teacher has asked if I could spare one afternoon a week to take her class to the school library.

In preparation for my first visit I've made some bookmarks. Thomas has told me they have to use a post-it note to mark their page, so I though a nice colourful bookmark might appeal to them. I managed to fit each design onto one A4 sheet and whilst at the library took 6 colour copies. Total cost £1.80 which I didn't think was bad. I laminated and cut them myself.

 According to the teacher there's not enough time for the children to spend in the library. It's a case of in and out as quickly as possible which often means they aren't choosing the books they really want.

The idea is that I'll take 4 or 5 children down at a time and help them choose a book that isn't too hard or too easy and more importantly that they actually want to read.

I'm really looking forward to doing it. I think I've said before my idea of heaven is being locked in a library. I have to say though it was on my own and not with a group of 7 & 8 year olds. 


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Laughter - The Best Medicine

I've not done much the past couple of days. My back is still causing me some trouble and yesterday I gave in and rang the Doctor for some decent painkillers. I'm OK sat down but standing up and walking around absolutely kills me. The way I'm walking is also making my hips, shoulders and stomach muscles hurt. It's been nearly a week now since it started and hopefully from past experience I should be OK in a couple of days. What I am determined to do when I'm back to normal is some back strengthening exercises.

I have a basket full of wool, my watercolours, baking stuff, a stack of books to read and a couple of household projects to do, but I don't seem to be in the mood for settling down to anything at the moment. Even the couple of dramas I watch on TV are beginning to irritate me. I'm hoping this can't be bothered attitude is all down to the pain. I hate this feeling of not wanting to do anything, it's just not me.

Mark's Dad had me laughing this morning though. Mark's mum wanted a bowl of soup and a kitkat for lunch yesterday. He put both down in front of her and then popped back to the kitchen for something. When he returned there she was dipping the kitkat in the tomato soup. Afterwards she said, "mmm that was lovely". 

Bless her. 


Monday, 5 May 2014

Incy Wincy Spider

Mark called me to the shed on Saturday and pointed to the roof. "What is it" I asked. "Baby spiders" he said. "Every black dot is a baby spider". And true enough when I looked closely every black dot was moving. The photo shows about one third of the spiders.
And as we spoke some were already abseiling from the roof and landing on Amy's old dolls house.
I'm not frightened of spiders. I've held a tarantula a couple of times. But I don't want hundreds of spiders living in my shed.

So Mark gently scooped them and their web onto a cloth and laid it in the garden so they could crawl away.

It was quite fascinating to see.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Friday, 2 May 2014

Family Friday

It was Family Friday at school this morning. The 'task' today was dictation. At the mention of this Mark quietly slunk off to a corner of the classroom. I, on the other hand, got a full 5 ticks. Apparently the new curriculum states that you can no longer say speech marks. Instead they are to be referred to in their correct term as inverted commas. It felt like the history of education was being re-written.

The children are learning about Africa and have been issued a creative project for homework. They can choose anything they want relating to Africa and either make a model, information book, flag, poster, mask etc. Thomas is very much into swords and shields and is forever waving his around the house making swishing noises, so I'm going to suggest making a Masai Warrior shield. He can be very determined in what he wants to do though, so not sure if he will go along with this.

Amy's glasses are still a source of entertainment. She came home yesterday and this is how the conversation went.

Me: "Good day at school Amy?"
Amy: "Yeah, my German teacher wanted to try my glasses on today."
Me: "Why did she want to do that. What did she look like in them?"
Amy: "My German teacher is a man, Mum, but I think he might be gay."
Me: Actually, I couldn't think of anything to say!

We went to Lidl this morning and along with our usual shop popped in some rose wine - it is Bank Holiday weekend after all. I walked around like a little old lady. I've hurt my back again through leaning over the children listening to them read. Some of them are so quiet I can hardly hear them. I think I'll have to go armed with a cushion and an ear trumpet next week.