Monday, 29 December 2014


Today, the slobbing around officially ended and I was back in my routine of getting up and dressed at a decent hour ready to start the day. 

We've not had any snow here but it is frosty and foggy. I'm a bit disappointed as I love snow, as long as I don't have to go out in it. My winter pansies are looking a bit sorry for themselves all iced up in their tub.
One of the things on my 'to do' list was to transfer all birthdays and appointments over to my new calendar. I love a new calendar. A whole, shiny new year ahead of us with nothing planned as yet. The only downside is these years seem to be passing quicker than ever lately, a sure sign of getting older!
Housework is still very limited, but my days of not doing much are numbered now as the decorations will come down on New Years Day. Mark on the other hand has been doing a bit of DIY. We have a draught coming through the kitchen window and the beginnings of a damp patch, so he's raked all the old sealant out and re-done it.
We went into Middleton and did some banking and some bits and pieces of shopping. I also bought some silly string, party poppers and some cheap plonk for New Years Eve. Notice the different coloured lids. Which silly string belongs to who is very important to Thomas. 
Mark's dad isn't well again. He's got another bad chest and cold. He didn't even come down for his tea on Boxing Day. He rang an hour before to say he wasn't feeling up to it, so we plated him up some food and sent Amy up with it for him. 

We paid our usual Monday evening visit to Joan and she's looking fine as usual. In the New Year we have to find a permanent home for her to move into. I'm not sure that will be as easy as it sounds. Mark has rung 6 local ones already over the past couple of weeks and they're either full or unable to take her because of her care needs.

There's always something to sort out isn't there?


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Taking It Easy

Today has been a mooching around the house kind of day. I've got to admit I didn't realise it was Sunday but even if I had I wouldn't have been cooking a roast dinner, so didn't feel too bad for the family. Instead we've picked at leftovers and munched our way through mince pies, Christmas cake, chocolate and of course my trifle.

I love a couple of non-structured days but tomorrow I know I will be ready to get back into some sort of routine, which will include the basics such as getting dressed and going out for some fresh air!

But today, we are still very much in holiday mode. We've spent the day playing scrabble, kerplunk, UNO and painting some models that Thomas has made.

Amy has been digesting Manga art tips and putting her skills into practice. There have been a couple of artistic temperament outbursts, but on the whole she's producing some really lovely work.

I tried to make a robot with Thomas but after 10 frustrating minutes my patience was wafer thin and Thomas was bored with the lack of progress, so we gave up and put it back in the box. This is definitely a father and son job.

There has been a teeny weeny bit of tidying up and a small pile of washing and ironing done, but apart from that I'm not feeling inspired to clean around all the decorations and bits and pieces that come with Christmas.

I have my notebook to hand and already there is a fair list of things to do on it such as banking, the tip, and a draught sealing job on one of the windows. 

Truth be told, I'm quite looking forward to getting back into the swing of everyday life.


Saturday, 27 December 2014

It's Over

Well, that's it for another year. I'm glad I'm not one of those people who spends months planning for the occasion as it really is over in the blink of an eye. To be honest after Boxing Day I'm ready to get back to normal and could quite easily take the tree and decorations down, but we always leave them up until New Years Day.

I did de-Christmas my dining room this morning though and removed the two Santa hats I'd hung on the picture! I also emptied the display cabinet of all the tags, ribbons, wrapping paper etc. that I'd just shoved in there over the past couple of weeks because I'd no idea where else to put it all.
 We had no plans and no visitors today so I made the most of it and relaxed in my PJ's. I've watched a bit of TV and read some of my book that the children bought me for Christmas. 

I've also added my new charm to my bracelet, (I choose a puppy in honour of Wendy's arrival into the family), and then I indulged in an afternoon tipple of Baileys on ice and a bowl of trifle. After all, it would be rude not to really.
I'm wanting to make the most of the next few days as Mark's Dad had a phone call from the Doctor on Christmas Eve asking him to go for a CT scan on New Years Eve. He's had a bad chest for 6 months now and antibiotics haven't done anything. Over the past 2 months he's had 3 chest x-rays and now he needs a scan. What with all the sorting out we've had to do for Mark's mum with meetings, telephone calls, visits etc. we could really do with it not being anything too sinister. Thankfully, he has an appointment with the consultant straight after the scan so at least we won't have to wait for the results.

Anyway, positive thinking and all that. But just in case, I'm trying to keep things simple and easy for us all over the next few days, both physically and mentally.


Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Day

By 12 midnight on Christmas Eve everybody was in bed and more importantly asleep, apart from Amy, which meant the presents and stockings could be put out. This year Amy helped with the footprints and reindeer hooves, but she has yet to master the skill fully as there are a few obvious hand prints there.

Our Christmas Day started at 6.20am. We've had much earlier ones in the past, so this was quite a decent hour for us.

Some things appear every year without fail, such as a selection box
 And chocolate coins
Other things are still a surprise like much wanted games for the DS.

Santa left a letter for Thomas this year explaining that a lot of children had asked for X-Box One's so not everybody had been able to have one. However, if he went in the room next door he'd find a special surprise. Yes, you've guessed it. Santa was very organised this year and he'd set it up and even downloaded the game Thomas wanted. This picture tickles me. When Thomas is concentrating really hard he sticks his tongue out.

By 7.15am, most presents had been opened and stockings had been emptied.
Unfortunately, by mid-afternoon some very HUMBUG people had hacked into Microsoft and taken down the x-box one thingy (I'm not really sure of the technicalities). What I do know is that it left thousands of children unable to play with their Christmas presents.

Although there was a bit of moaning from Thomas he quickly got over it and we had a fun hour playing some games he also got. Anyone remember Kerplunk. We had a real laugh playing this, mostly because I was really rubbish and kept getting all the marbles.

There are no foodie pictures because I was too busy getting it onto the table and eating it, but I did manage to take a quick photo of our Christmas cake before cutting into it. 
 Today, Aunty Edith, Ken and Tom are coming for tea. It will seem strange without Joan here and we did consider bringing her home for the day. However, the staff said that she is really settled where she is, which is true, and it would probably upset her having to leave us and go back to them. So we've taken their comments on board and have left her where she now thinks she lives. We went to see her Christmas Eve with the children, Tom went for his Christmas dinner with her yesterday and Matthew and his girlfriend are visiting her today. So at some point, we've all seen her which is nice.

I hope everybody who pops into Number 38 had a lovely Christmas Day and that you are also enjoying your Boxing Day.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Nearly there

Well, to sum up the concert in a few words. Amazing, Fun, Emotional and Absolutely Flipping Fantastic. It wasn't at all what I expected and I can highly recommend a date with Andre - he does not disappoint. I clapped, swayed, sang, waved my arms around, laughed and cried. It was a night that I will always remember.

Last night we went to The Lowry for our annual Christmas drink with my sister. It's always lovely to catch up with her as we only see each other 2 or 3 times a year. It's actually been quite a busy December for me this year, meeting up with friends, meals out, concerts and family visits. All very enjoyable and fun.

I feel like I'm on the home run now regarding Christmas. I've just got to get Amy to ice the cake tomorrow while I make a few mince pies, then in the afternoon we are off to see Nativity 3. Mum is coming with us and then staying over so she can wake up with us on Christmas Day which we are all looking forward to.

I've done all my food shopping and think I've got everything we need. We don't go overboard, and anything that I've forgotten we will just have to do without. For us Christmas lasts 3 days - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, then it's all back to normal.

I'm now sat here watching TV dipping into my annual box of Turkish delight and I'm already way past my 3 pieces that I said I would allow myself! Foodie treats are hard to come by now when everything can be bought all year round, but I still have 2 things which I keep specifically for Christmas. One is turkish delight and the other is home-made trifle. I absolutely love trifle but nobody else does apart from Mark's cousin Ken. So I make one every Christmas for me and him. He always takes some home with him and the rest is kept in the fridge for me to indulge in. Deeelicious!

Amy and Thomas are really looking forward to Christmas. Thomas is on pins wondering if Santa will bring him an Xbox One and Amy has asked for some Manga art books which she can't wait to get her hands on. It's been a while since I've seen them so excited and it's all adding to the festive spirit. 

Only 2 more sleeps to go!


Sunday, 21 December 2014

I've got a date

I started the day with a bit of cleaning. A quick wipe over of the glass tables, a freshening of the carpet and a bit of drying folded up soon eliminated any guilty feelings about going out to enjoy myself tonight while the family stay at home.
It was a cheats Sunday Lunch today. But everybody seemed more than happy with sausages instead of roast beef.
A continuous battle with rising BMI dictates that there are no longer any LBD's hanging in the wardrobe. I do have a lovely floaty butterfly top though which covers a multitude of sins and is now my faithful 'going out' outfit.
I'm having a sleepover at Mums. It will be easier and cheaper for us both to head back to hers after the concert.

Can't wait to see my sister. This was taken 20 years ago on our wedding day. It's really blurred but it's the only photo I could find of her.
And finally, here's my date. Andre, I really hope you don't let me down. 


Friday, 19 December 2014

Rita and Andre

There is great excitement at Number 38 today. School has finished and there are no more early get ups for 16 days. To add a little bit of festiveness to the house for when Amy and Thomas got in, I put on some music, put out some chocolate treats and placed a few adult presents under the tree. I also introduced our new addition to the family. Meet Rita the Reindeer. Someone connected to the home where Mark's mum is sells them and I just couldn't resist. 
 This is the exactly the sort of thing I love about Christmas. Thomas has been busy at school and he's made us a calendar, a Christmas card and a bauble decoration for the tree. The simplicity of it all is years old and it brought a tear to my eye.  
I bought my annual TV Times today and literally squealed when I saw 'Call the Midwife' will be on TV on Christmas Day. I love this programme so much and could listen to Vanessa Redgrave's voice all day long. It's just so soothing. As an added bonus 'Last Tango in Halifax' is also on. It just gets better and better.
My sister rang last night. She's booked tickets to see Andre Rieu in Manchester on Sunday. Her and her husband are taking Mum for her Christmas present and my nephew was also supposed to be going. But he wants to go to a party instead, so she asked me if I'd like to go. I'm not really sure it's my thing but as she said, it will be an experience. She took me to see Madame Butterfly a couple of years ago. It was the first opera I'd ever been to and I don't think I would go to another, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy the evening. 

And that's what life is all about isn't it - experiencing different things and keeping an open mind.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Three Things About Quilting

Three things I don't like about quilting: the mess of cotton and bits of material all over the place; the ironing board having to be out; the fact that nobody has yet invented a never ending spool of thread.
 Three things I really like about quilting: I'm not bad at it; the terminology - I love saying stitching in the ditch; my rotary cutter - using it is on a par with being allowed to light a match for the first time - the potential danger has become quite thrilling.

Three things I've learnt about myself while quilting: I have hidden addict tendencies - I'm already itching to start another; I have more patience than I thought I did; I'd be quite happy to let the family live off bread and jam in order to complete a block. 
Three things I still need to do: add a border; choose some backing material; sew it all together. 


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Just when I thought it was over

I finished buying my Christmas presents and stocking fillers a few days ago and I've been sitting here smugly thinking, no more shopping, no more queueing and no more wrapping. 

Until Amy announced last night that she needed a present for a secret santa her class were doing and two presents for her friends and would I please just pop into town to get them for her. This was quickly followed by a request from Thomas for a present for his teacher and teaching assistants. 

So, after reading at school this morning I popped into Middleton and picked up some chocolate for the secret santa, two Charlie gift sets for the girls and wine and chocolates for the teachers. 

The driveway finally got done today. I woke up at 7am to knocking on the door and when I looked out of the window there was a big cement mixer pouring out concrete. It was still pretty dark outside but it didn't deter them from making a start.
 Throughout the day they've barrowed, poured and skimmed.
 Thrown some sort of dye all over the place.
Imprinted the pattern, which involves standing and stamping on little blocks of rubber moulding 
Working from one end of the drive to the other as though they were part of a Riverdance troupe
 It was all a bit manly for me, so I took myself into the kitchen where I got in touch with my feminine side and made a batch of fairy cakes.

Only to emerge to find that they'd finished for the day and covered the driveway to protect it from heavy rain. So I have missed the finished product and will have to wait until they return on Thursday for the grand unveiling.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Claim to Fame

We're going to see Nativity 3 on Christmas Eve, as long as I can book tickets that is. We have a little bit of a 'claim to fame' going on with this film. One of the children in it was in Thomas' class at his old school although the family moved back to their home town a few months before Thomas left. She was a lovely little girl and always had a smile on her face when she came to the office. Her mother was a different matter though. Talk about Pushy Parent. She complained about anything and everything and actually came in to make a complaint that her daughter hadn't been given the star role in the KS1 Nativity. What parent does that? Anyway we're looking forward to seeing Taliyah in action next week. She's the first little girl on the left with her arms folded. I can't wait to see her in the film. She looks a right little madam in this shot.

I'm on a bit of a pre-countdown, countdown this week. Only 4 more school drop offs, only 4 more pick ups, only 4 more packed lunches to make, only 4 more daily spelling tests and only 4 more reading records to fill in. YIPEE!  Then the real countdown can begin.

We are well and truly on our way now. Half the advent calendar chocolates have gone and my candle is certainly nearing the end of its life.
Thomas has said he doesn't want to go to a grotto this year. Me and Amy are not happy bunnies. We wanted to go to the Snowman and Snowdog one at the Trafford Centre. We're working on him, but I don't think he'll change his mind. We really do need a token child though and I'm wondering if it would be lacking in Christmas spirit if we forced him to come with us!


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Goodbye Ginny

A strange and sad thing happened in the night. Ginny the hamster did return to her cage. We found her this morning curled up snuggly in her bed. Sadly, she had died. Thomas was distraught. He wanted to hold her for one last time, so we wrapped her in a pink flannel for him, then Amy found a little pink box with love hearts on which we put her in. After saying our final goodbyes to her Mark dug a hole in the back garden and we buried her. 

This was taken last year when we'd just got her. She was a cute little thing and although we will all miss her, we won't be replacing her. In the past we've had fish, guinea pigs, a rabbit and hamsters but I think our era of little pets has come to an end now.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

We're going on a Hamster Hunt

The hamster has escaped from her cage again. I've no idea how long she's been gone. Sparky and Wendy are in the dog house because one of them has nosed open the latch on her sleeping quarters and she has taken full advantage of this misdemeanour and done a runner. We've been on our hands and knees on and off all day looking under beds and in corners but as yet no luck. I've put a couple of raisins in her cage and left the door open so tomorrow if they've gone, I know she's been back and is still alive and kicking somewhere.
 It's foggy and damp where we are today. Thankfully, after a week of having to go out every day to do something or other, there was nothing on the agenda today, so I was quite happy just mooching around the house. In between hamster hunting and all the usual mundane household jobs, I joined my quilt up and trimmed it, did a bit of reading, watched a bit of TV and treated myself to a Baileys coffee. I really like this single/double measure, although Mark prefers his hand/eye co-ordination method.

I've also finally got round to making our Christmas donation to the Salvation Army. It's an easy enough job as it can be done on-line, but it's been on my to-do list for a couple of weeks now. I think my New Year's Resolution will be to stop procrastinating. Sometimes when I've got all day to do things in, nothing gets done at all. There is always the excuse of "oh, I can do that tomorrow". 
I've just been on Amazon and ordered some batting/wadding then I went over to Argos to order some heated rollers for Amy. She went to her friends last night before we went out and she did Amy's hair and make-up for her. She looked lovely and has decided she'd like some rollers for Christmas from Grandma. 


Friday, 12 December 2014

Friday bits & pieces

Somebody seems to have been doing a rain dance in Middleton and we haven't made any progress with the driveway as yet. I'm that used to having the plank there that I've gone from teetering up it like a drunk giraffe to skipping up it, sometimes with shopping bags in both hands. I could definitely give Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci a run for their money.
I bought my turkey today. We don't have a 'proper' turkey, nobody really likes messing with the bones, so I just bought breast. Well actually I bought 3. We have Mum and Matthew with us for lunch on Christmas Day and then Mark's side of the family are coming on Boxing Day. We also like to have a little bit left over for a sandwich but not too much. I had a voucher for £6 off a £30 shop so as well as the turkey I bought some dog food and some other bits and bobs. The dog food was reduced from £6.50 to £5.20, so all in all I didn't do too badly.Aunty Edith gave us all some money last weekend for Christmas. I've treated myself to some Baileys and some perfume from Lidl and I still have a little bit left over. I love perfume, I wear it every day, but no matter how much or little I pay for it, it always seems to wear off quite quickly. Suddenly is apparently comparable to Chanel, so I shall see how I get on with it.

Amy has had a clear out of her books so I took these to Mum's last night to pass on to my niece. She found it quite difficult to part with them but she needed the shelf space. I think the only reason she's let them go is that they're still in the family.
We're all off out for an Indian tonight with Matthew and his girlfriend which we're really looking forward to. It's only a small restaurant, not much bigger than our lounge but the food is delicious. Thomas is coming on the condition that afterwards they will come back and play UNO with him. I have red and white wine on hand as an added incentive!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

My secret vice

I don't really have any to be honest. What I do have though is a love of art. Art is a very personal thing and generally I can tell people just don't get what I see in most things I buy. I have no 'theme' as such, I like what I like and if there is money in the bank, I buy it. I can go for years without seeing anything that takes my fancy to buying 2 or 3 pieces a year.

My most recent acquisition was this which Mark bought for me a couple of months ago.
And my newest addition is going to be a piece which Josie Russell has agreed to do for me. She uses bits of material and embroidery skills to produce some fantastic work. This elephant is one of my favourites and I'm sure it will end up living at Number 38 at some point.
In the meantime, I've asked her to do a picture of this lighthouse on Talacre beach. I have loads of happy memories of holidays in Talacre with Mark, Amy & Thomas, and after my heart attack this is where we went for our first break. It's hard to explain but that long weekend was a massive step to helping me overcome so many fears about being so far away from home. Anyway, she has agreed to produce a piece of work for me, although I won't be getting it until next year as she is too busy at the moment.
I don't know if her name rings a bell but she was the little girl who survived the awful hammer attack in which her mum and sister were killed. I look at her pictures and see survival, determination and courage in every stitch.

She really does produce some beautiful work and I recommend having a browse around her website.

In the meantime I have picked out my wall space and can't wait for my lighthouse to arrive in the New Year.