Saturday, 31 October 2015

Poorly Boy and Pumpkin Carving

Well, the enforced absence from blogging clearly isn't working because here I am again. In my defence I am strictly limiting my time on the laptop. Lord help me if I had any real vices as I obviously have no willpower whatsoever. 

Thomas is still not 100% and didn't show any interest at all in carving the pumpkin so me and Mark did it instead. Well, actually Mark did it and I was allowed to pass him the cocktail sticks. 
Amy aka Poison Ivy has gone to her Halloween party tonight. She's spent most of the day lounging around in her dressing gown in preparation of yet another late night although she has managed to titivate herself and paint her nails.
The kitchen fitters arrived this morning which is more than can be said of the kitchen. I don't suppose that's strictly fair, the units were delivered but the hob, cooker, oven hood, end panels and worktops weren't. Just a couple of bits and bobs missing then! Several phone calls later and they arrived in the afternoon.
Mum brought down a batch of homemade soup, carrot and parsnip. I've not had any for ages but now that the weather is getting colder a bowl of hot soup warms me up for the afternoon.

The pumpkin is now in the window lit up .... 
.... and the bucket of goodies are at hand for any trick or treaters. It can be very hit and miss around here at Halloween. This little lot could be gone in half an hour or I could be sat here next week chewing my way through them. 
If you are having or going to a Halloween party or celebrating the day in any other way, hope you have lots of fun.


Friday, 30 October 2015

Cold War Bunker and Radiation Sickness

Our mini break in York came to an end with a visit to the cold war bunker. If you ever visit York this should definitely be on your must do list. It's fascinating and informative and even though you can only look around on an official guided tour, something we don't generally do, I would highly recommend it. It's an odd little place, set in a cul-de-sac surrounded by modern flats and houses. Not at all where I expected to find it. I'd envisaged it being in the middle of a field or hidden away in some woods.
The tours last about 90 minutes and around 20 people are allowed in at a time. I thought we'd be the only ones there but actually we were the last 4 of our group, with other people already arriving for the next one. I didn't take any photos apart from this one, the nerve centre of the whole operation. The most fascinating thing for me was how low tech it all actually was. Pens, boards, paper, maps, pins and rulers seem to be all the tools you need to plot which areas are going to be affected by a nuclear fallout. 
We arrived home about 3pm and after collecting the dogs from the kennels my personal finale to our little break was meeting friends for a drink and a meal. As usual we had a cracking time and I drank 2 largish glasses of wine, which means being the lightweight that I am, that even though I wasn't drunk I was really tired and just needed to go to bed as soon as I got in.

Unfortunately, I came home to a ghostly looking Thomas, who'd been sick and was a little bit panicky because he thought he might have radiation sickness from being in the bunker bless him. Anyway, he decided throwing up should be a half hourly event until 5am this morning, when he finally went to sleep and I finally managed to get to bed. York seems like a distant memory already!

Today I have sluggishly worked my way though the washing and been shopping but painting the kitchen at Number 14 was definitely off the cards so Mark has done that instead. The kitchen arrives tomorrow so there will be big changes in here over the next week. I chose crushed almond but in all honesty I might as well have gone for magnolia. There's not much difference. 
I treated myself to a bit of creative therapy though and did my Halloween shelf. We popped to Sainsburys for a few bits before the trip and I spotted this tree which made its way into the trolley. At the time my head was full of packing, getting dogs to kennels, printing out Jorvik tickets and Premier Inn reference numbers, so it seemed easier to pick something off a shelf than make my own. I'll add a few more finishing touches tomorrow. 
I also popped in the black cat which Wendy has spent all day barking at. It's a complete madhouse here at times.

I thought we might have done a bit of pumpkin carving at some point but Thomas is still suffering the effects of radiation sickness and hasn't moved off the settee all day, so hopefully we'll do it tomorrow.  

I'm absolutely cream crackered now. I doubt I'll make it past 9pm and woe betide anybody who wakes me up before I've had at least 12 hours sleep. 

Goodnight one and all.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015


We've all just eaten breakfast and have come back to the room for half an hour before we get a taxi into York to Jorvik, so I thought I'd take this time to show you a little bit of York. 

We arrived yesterday and after a pub lunch off into York we went. We were dropped off outside M&S and within a couple of minutes we'd walked down a narrow alleyway and stumbled across Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Gate one of the smallest, if not the smallest street in York. As well as the name I love the fact that the number is 11/2.
Then we had a walk up The Shambles. This is a really narrow street filled with lots of little shops and cafes. Mentioned in the Doomsday book most of the buildings date from the 13th/14th century. There's even a shrine in one of the houses to a Margaret Clitheroe, harbourer of Catholic priests, until she was sentenced to death by crushing on Good Friday 1586. 

York is a really busy place but the atmosphere is very relaxed. 

No rushing from A to B, most people seem content to meander around going about their business, stopping every now and then to watch the street performers.

There's even time to stop and stroke an alpaca or two, as you do in York!

And then of course, there's York Minster. There are no words that would really do justice to this magnificent building so here's a picture to feast your eyes on. There was a queue to go inside and nobody, (apart from me), really wanted to anyway.

So instead we climbed the steps and walked around the city wall.

Then it was back through the centre where Amy did some clothes shopping and Thomas bought himself a ukulele, something he's been wanting for a while now. Bet the Premier Inn residents love us!
Waiting for the taxi to pick us up it struck me how funny England can be. I took this photo stood on the steps of M&S looking at an historic house which was possibly built in the 15th Century which has a Greggs and a BetFred next to it. 
You can't help but love our eccentricity. Only in the UK. 


Saturday, 24 October 2015

Weaning myself off blogging

So, I've been thinking about weaning myself off blogging for a while now. As much as I love coming on here and writing about the bits and bobs I've done on a day or the things that are happening to us as a family, the need to record everything on a daily basis doesn't seem as important as it did when I first started doing this.

I'm not quite ready to give up totally though. The reason I started to blog was so that we could look back at what we'd done and where we'd been and I want to continue being able to do that. Mostly it was so that Amy and Thomas would have something to 'remind them' in case I had another dreaded HA and the outcome wasn't as good.

But these days, even though I personally love posting pictures and snippets about them both, Amy isn't keen on having her photo taken anymore and Thomas can't be bothered to stand still for me. Which is a shame really as it's looking back at photos of them both and what they're doing that makes my blog for me.

So, I've decided I'm going to try blogging just a couple of times a week and see if I get withdrawal symptoms or not. I'm thinking of a mid-week and weekend round up with the odd major event like a birthday, Christmas etc. thrown in. But nothing will be set in stone.

I think it will be hard for me but I'm going to try and use the time I would spend on here doing a job or two that I'm usually happy to leave. Things like sorting out the depths of the wardrobe, organising paperwork, you know the boring things that blogging always wins over. 

I do think I'm a little bit addicted to coming on here so this will be a big test for me. Let's see if I can stick to my guns or not. 


Friday, 23 October 2015

The lady is done!

Today I actually remembered to ring for the results of the blood tests I had done a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my liver, kidneys and thyroid are all still behaving themselves and my cholesterol level came in at an acceptable 3.7.

I went to BHS to change my bag and also ordered a new coat while I was there. A big puffy one with a hood that will keep me toasty warm while I'm stood in the playground waiting for Thomas to come out then go back in again because he's forgotten something! I also bought a new purse from Primarni as the one I've got is too big for the new bag. Well that's my excuse anyway. 
Thomas has been asking for a balaclava for a while and I was going to knit one, but I saw this on the market for £3 and it didn't seem worth me buying the wool, the needles and him having to wait for me to do it. He says it's a bit itchy - I knew he wouldn't like wearing one - but from what I've seen so far he wants to use it to play at being a 'robber' than as a hat to keep him warm. The thing is though it's still a balaclava so......Liz at lovethosecupcakes, you need to buy those red boots now :) 
Throughout the week I've been doing a bit of jigsaw here and there. In the words of the big red and blue superstore "every little helps" and I got there eventually. It was a bit heavy going but I didn't even contemplate doing what Mark suggested - "just stick them anywhere and take a photo, nobody will be able to tell". He obviously doesn't get the complete satisfaction of finishing a jigsaw and the pieces all being in the right place!
We were supposed to be painting the kitchen this weekend at Number 14. I know I said we didn't have to do anything else but the timing of the plasterer, the decorator going on holiday and the kitchen delivery date means we have to do it ourselves. The problem is the plaster isn't quite dry enough yet so we've got the weekend to ourselves which I'm very happy about. 

So Mum, if you're reading this, put your comfy shoes on. A trip to Housing Units for coffee and a look around is on the cards tomorrow afternoon. 


Thursday, 22 October 2015

College Open Evening

No flowers from Lidl today. I've still got roses from 2 weeks ago and Chrysanthemums from last week. Instead the buy of the week was this make your own gingerbread house. I thought Amy and Thomas could make it together in the Christmas hols. 
We took Amy to a college open evening tonight. This is the college she really wants to go to in Manchester that offers the all important Creative Writing A Level she's desperate to do. The atmosphere was really good and the fact that it's in the city centre and surrounded by University buildings means there's a definite student feel to the place. We have lots of modern colleges in Greater Manchester but the city centre campus buildings are still mainly red brick. She really liked it and is definitely going to apply.
And it was Thomas' Halloween party at school tonight. Typical isn't it having two events on the same evening. We had to enlist Mum to help out and take Thomas to school as timings meant his party started slap bang in the middle of Amy's open evening. He didn't want to dress up fully but took a liking to this mask and chain saw.
The boys really enjoyed the footie last night. Mark said Thomas had a great time and of course the evening couldn't have ended better. City scored the winning goal in the first 2 minutes of extra time. They didn't get in til gone 11pm and Thomas was so hyped up he didn't get to sleep til nearly midnight. But, I'll give him his due, he was up, dressed and ready for school this morning with no moaning. 

An early night is definitely on the cards tonight though - for all of us. 


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Bury, Bag and a Blue Beanie

It's been wet, windy and miserable here today but we've still been to Bury and done a bit of shopping. My breakfast at the cafe today was a latte with 2 very butter laden toasted crumpets. Delicious.

A sure sign the colder weather is here is when I have to stock up on lip balm for Thomas. He suffers with chapped lips and ends up with a big red patch all around his mouth if we don't nip it in the bud. Only trouble is once he starts putting it on he can't seem to stop as you can see. He's posing in his new MCFC beanie here all ready for the match tonight.

Amy spent a good 10 minutes in front of the lounge mirror last night sticking sellotape across her nose and chin then ripping it off to cleanse her pores. I remember doing this myself as a teenager. Some things never change do they. Ripping it off didn't seem to bother her, although I winced every time she did it, so I've bought her some proper strips to use.  

I didn't buy any books from The Works today as I've still got a couple to read. Instead I bought a calendar. I love these family calendars where everybody has a section to write in what they're doing.
Walking through BHS I spotted this handbag and decided it needed to come straight home with me so that I could take it to visit York next week. Isn't it cute.
So cute in fact that through ooohing and aaahing over the 'face' I didn't notice the fact that the strap hadn't been sewn properly. Customer services have put another one away for me and I'm taking this one back on Friday. I hate having to return things. It's such a waste of time.
And here's my little Halloween project. I'm going to decorate a Halloween tree this year (an idea pinched from Sadie over at Life in the English Rain), and these ghost leaves seemed appropriate to hang on. A silly half hour spent painting and drawing faces but it was light relief from the heavy going projects we've been doing at Number 14.
And that has been Wednesday. Pretty much back to how it used to be.

Tonight a bit of jigsaw, some TV and a chapter or two of my book will finish the day off nicely while I wait for the boys to come home. The match is on TV so I'll put it on after I've watched Homes for Veterans. I might even catch a glimpse of them (not very likely). 

I hope City score, firstly because they need to win the game to go through to the next round and secondly, so that Thomas experiences the atmosphere of the crowd going wild over a goal.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Halloween and Christmas

This arrived today. It's for Amy at Christmas. She loves writing and is always on her computer typing away or jotting something down in a notebook. Recently she's started posting her stories on line where other people can leave feedback which she's finding helpful. One of the reasons she wants to go to college in Manchester is that it offers an A level in Creative Writing. I'm all for her doing this. If you have to spend 2 years in further education I believe you should do something you enjoy. Other subjects she's thinking of taking are English Language/Literature, History and Psychology. But writing is what she wants to do most of all.
I bobbed into Middleton and picked up a few bits and pieces and these Halloween decorations. We don't usually do more than carve a pumpkin or two at Number 38 but this year I'll be decorating my shelf. Not until we get back from York though.
This is the beginning of a bit of Halloween crafting. Any guesses? It's a really simple idea and I'll post a pic of the finished thing tomorrow. 
 The fireplace was delivered today for Number 14. Mark met the tenants and their little one yesterday. They wanted to go in to measure up for curtains. He said they seemed a lovely couple, very polite and over the moon that they were going to be moving in. And they couldn't stop thanking him enough for 'choosing' them. Which makes all the effort we've gone to worthwhile. Lots of people have said we've gone over the top with what we've done, but our thinking was always that if somebody is going to pay the market rental rate then the least we can do is make the house nice for them so they enjoy living there. 

Possibly, (definitely), not the best 'financial' thinking, but personally we think it's the right thing to do.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Plaster and Pig Hearts

Monday again. And the last week of school before half term. Surely, there's got to be a way of making this world slow down just a little bit.

I got dressed today! Reluctantly, I admit. I do love my comfy PJ's. 

Anyway, I had a walk up to Number 14 to see what had been done over the weekend. Oh my goodness. Who'd have thought smooth walls could make me so happy. I'm over the moon with how the kitchen looks already and it's only been plastered. What a difference 2 days can make. 
Mind you, there has been blood, sweat and tears put into this room so it's about time a smile or two was added.
Things must be slowly getting back to normal because the jigsaw is back on the table. Yesterday I managed to fit 8 pieces. Today I've done about 30. I can't honestly say it's enjoyable but it has become a challenge and I will not be defeated.
Thomas needs to take a pair of old trousers and a t-shirt into school tomorrow that are OK to cut up. It's something to do with making a scarecrow and Jack and the Beanstalk. I couldn't really make head nor tail of what he was saying, but once again not much notice given to provide something for school. 

He's also brought a book home from the school library called Pig Heart Boy. The title pretty much sums it up. A 13 year old boy needs a transplant and is given a pig's heart. All sounds a bit deep to me but it is aimed at 8-12 year olds. 

I'm sure I was reading much more genteel books when I was his age, Heidi and Little House on the Praire spring to mind. But it's probably right up his street and at least he's reading, so that can only be a good thing. 


Sunday, 18 October 2015

Haves and Have Nots

I've gone all Biblical today and taken Sunday as a day of rest literally.

Which means I have 

* stayed in my PJ's all day. 

* just about managed to drag myself into the kitchen to rustle up a Full English for everybody

* done a little bit of the jigsaw - 8 pieces in an hour to be precise (soul destroying)

watched a film called Kajaki which is based on a true story about the British Army's 3rd Battalion in Afghanistan. It's one of the most distressing films I've seen in a long time and it had me shouting out "No, no, no, not again". I don't often recommend a film, but it really is one to watch.

* finished my book, Ove.

And I haven't: 

* Wandered up the street to Number 14.

* Cooked Sunday lunch

* Done any housework

* Moved off the couch very much apart from to let the dogs out, brew up and go to the loo

* Felt guilty about doing sweet fanny adams all day

Whether your Sunday has been busy or not, I hope you've all had a good one. 


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Coffee, Cake and Chanting

Mum came down as usual for coffee and brought Nephew with her so he could do some more lifting for us. Then Aunty Edith rang to say she would be popping in to see us after she'd visited Joan. With no time to make a cake I nipped down to the bakers and bought one instead. 
The footie tickets came this morning much to Thomas' excitement. Their arrival brought on a bout of football chants at Number 38, including some rather naughty ones that Mark used to sing when he was younger. Anyway, Thomas has been practising 'Blue Moon' this afternoon. This is his standard photo pose at the moment. Every time I pick the camera up he cheers and punches the air!
Amy slept out last night and has been shopping in Manchester today with friends. It's good to know she's capable of getting there and back and is familiar with the place as the college she wants to go to is in the centre of the city so it's one less worry for her and us; if she goes there of course.

Tonight we're having an Indian and a film, San Andreas, which will be right up Thomas' street (the film that is, definitely not the Indian), he's on his favourite chicken nuggets and chips. 

Enjoy your Saturday evening. 


Friday, 16 October 2015

Poison Ivy

I very reluctantly dragged myself up to Number 14 today and painted the rest of the spindles. My work up there is now officially done.

Then I came home and did a load of ironing. Another job I had to psych myself up for.

Matthew text Mark to see if him and Thomas wanted to go and watch the City vs. Sevilla match on Wednesday. Then he text me to ask me to book the tickets! I spent 40 minutes messing about with stands, levels, family ends, south ends and goal views. Then when I'd got my head around all that I had to find 3 seats together. No wonder he passed that one on to me. It was a nightmare. Anyway, it's Thomas' first ever footie match and he's really excited about going.

And Amy's Halloween costume arrived. She just needs to decide whether to buy green tights and which shoes to wear.
Then put her big coat on and take her Dad with her! 


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Nearly done

I bought another treat bought for the Christmas Box this morning. Christmas has definitely arrived at Number 38 when I've got a piece of this in one hand and the Radio Times in the other. A few weeks to wait yet though - 10 exactly to Christmas Eve. 
I've spent an hour working the old grey matter this afternoon doing a codeword, a crossword and the easy suduko. Notice I typed easy. Suduko is not my thing and I'm not sure that I'll ever work my way up to the harder one that's in the magazine. For anybody who does them, is there a method or is it pot luck where you put the numbers?
After my mental workout I replenished my dried up brain with some juicy pieces of watermelon. Delicious. 
I've also finished painting the concrete. It got two coats and it looks much better than before. I'm going to ask Nephew if he will go behind the shed and paint that bit. My back is beyond bending any more. Mark's right though, Tom would be turning in his grave. He absolutely hated green so he wouldn't be best pleased about this colour or the newly painted shed. It's our revenge for all his layering up of wallpaper and floor tiles!
We've pretty much done what we need to at Number 14 which I'm glad about as motivation is running out. The only thing keeping us going is Tom wanted to keep the house if possible and that Joan will benefit from it being rented out. And of course, there's no point denying it will be ours one day.  

The rest of the jobs are now down to the experts, so next week I'm hoping to get the jigsaw out and work up a few granny squares. Both projects have been very much neglected recently. But everything should be settling back down to normal now. 

Or as normal as things are at Number 38. 


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Birds and Bakes

The decorator has finished at Number 14 for the time being. He'll have to come back to do the dining room and kitchen but not until after half term. He came down this afternoon and did our stairs and landing. Just need to order some carpet now. This is by far the most patterned paper I've ever chosen in my life and even though it reminds me of something my nanna would have had I really like it.
Amy has been baking at school today. She has to make a tray bake for her GCSE exam so over the next few months I think we'll be seeing a lot of these. She made a 3 layered one, Victoria sponge, creme pat, and raspberry jam, all made from scratch. It's enough to get the grade she wants but she'd like to add another layer. She isn't sure what though. Any ideas are more than welcome.
Tonight was parent's evening for Thomas. We get allocated 5 minutes but his teacher obviously pays no heed to time limits as she was running 20 minutes late and spent nearly 20 minutes with us. We didn't really have much to say or ask but she's very thorough which I like. I've sat in a parent's evening at Thomas' last school with an alarm clock on countdown, which is the most off putting thing ever. Anyway, Thomas is doing very well and there are no causes for concern which is good to hear.

With no Bake Off or Dr Foster to watch tonight I'm feeling at a bit of a loose end. I'm going to watch Homes for Veterans though and see if Wills and Harry are as good as I am at DIY. 

Then I might retire early to bed with my book. Poor Ove, he's 59, his wife died 6 months ago and he's been made redundant. He's tried to commit suicide 3 days on the run so he can be with her, but keeps getting interrupted at the crucial moment. It sounds a bit of a depressive read but it's actually very good. 

Spurred on by Rachelradiostar to paint the concrete I went out and bought some paint today. The bit I've done so far looks really good so I'll be posting yet another photo tomorrow. Truthfully, I'm beginning to bore myself now with all these DIY photos, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Hells Kitchen

a.k.a. The kitchen at Number 14. 

The plasterer is coming on Saturday. Which means it was a case of having to make a start on the kitchen yesterday. I had a bit of a brainwave about the floor tiles - using the steam stripper to see if it would melt the glue. I'm glad I'm not just a pretty face because it worked, although a bit of muscle behind the chisel and hammer was still needed. But we got them all off in the end.
Then it was time to move onto the wallpaper. Not too hard, but definitely time consuming and tedious. The steam stripper is good but it can't get through all the layers in one go, so it's like stripping a room 3 times over. We've spent hours doing this already and there's still more to do. And there was one wallpaper that went all stretchy, a little bit like chewing gum and was a pain to get off. There was some huffing and puffing at that point I can tell you.

I've also painted 31 spindles over the past few days in fits and starts and I still have another 14 to go. I'm secretly hoping it will rain tomorrow so I have a legitimate excuse not to finish them off. More gravel is arriving on Friday and I'm toying with the idea of painting the concrete slabs. I've seen them on a house near us and they look pretty good. 
Another project has also been finished today. This one was much more fun to do, mainly because Thomas did most of it. The dragon's nest is now ready to be taken into school tomorrow.
Wish the kitchen was this easy and as enjoyable.


Monday, 12 October 2015

The Lights

I was thinking on the way to Blackpool last night that when we were little if Mum and Dad said "we're going to see the lights" we knew exactly what they meant. The words Blackpool or Illuminations didn't have to be spoken for us to know where we were heading. 

If I thought that going to Blackpool on a Sunday evening would mean it wouldn't be as busy then I was wrong. It was absolutely packed. 

We usually park at Bispham and have fish and chips but no spaces and queues out of the restaurant door meant we carried on to Cleveleys this time. It was a bit emotional actually, the last time we were here was only 4 months ago and Tom was with us.

Anyway, we found a lovely fish & chip shop which was fairly busy with lots of the older generation. All was going well, until I made a passing comment to Thomas that his voice was getting deeper. Quite matter of factly and fairly loudly he announced "it's called puberty Mum". Thankfully, we'd pretty much finished our meal so left soon afterwards for the arcade.

Thomas loves these ticket machines and managed to win 202 of them which meant he got to choose something from the prize shelf.
While Amy went for something that involved more skill
And they both like the shooting games
Then it was down the front to see the lights. The displays at Bispham end are the best in my opinion and Alice is a favourite of mine and Amy's.
There's a stretch where there's not much to see so we nip round the back streets and come out by the Tower. We stopped for a while in front of this poppy where different faces are shown in the middle of the flower. I've no idea if they are random soldiers who died in the war or if they are connected to Blackpool in some way, but it's a lovely tribute. 
I took loads of photos, but hardly any were coming out properly, so I decided to just sit back and enjoy the ride. 
By 10.30pm we were back home and tucked up in bed. And because it was no later than when we usually settle down, we were all up bright and breezy as usual this morning and ready to face the day.

A day of tile lifting, wallpaper stripping and spindle painting. But more of that tomorrow.