Monday, 29 February 2016

Tea Bags and Tug Boats

I went into Middleton this morning with Mum. It seems be coming an irregular regular thing, if you know what I mean. Neither of us really wanted anything, but it's good to have a mooch, a coffee and a natter with no men or children around. 

My niece isn't very well at the moment, she has pleurisy. I don't know if any of you have ever had it, but I have and it's agony. Typical of most mums with little ones she doesn't look after herself, especially on the food front, so Mum bought her a magazine which might inspire her to eat a bit better and I've sent her some teabags. A strange gift I know, but according to the box each bag has a yoga pose and an inspirational quote on it. I'm not expecting her to do the yoga but I'm hoping she enjoys the tea and the quotes. 
While we were in Middleton Mark was at a boating lake launching his boat, which as yet remains nameless. I'll have to rectify that soon, I like our things to have names! He went with his cousin Ken and they had a typical boys morning. I'm going with them next week to have a go, weather permitting, and on the way back we'll stop off and have a brew with Aunty Edith.
Tomorrow Mark has to go and do something in Winsford so I'm going with him and on the way back we'll stop at Lymm and have some lunch. I've never been before but it looks a pretty village with a canal that we can have a walk by. I'll take the camera and post some photos on Thursday.

Other plans this week include trying to find some summer clothes for the holiday, getting on with the jigsaw, flute and dancing. There's also a Robinwood presentation at Thomas' school tomorrow night where we'll have a chance to see footage and photos of what they all got up to in December which should be fun.

And that's about it for the next couple of days. See you on Thursday. 


Sunday, 28 February 2016

Concorde and a Small Blogging Change

We decided to go to Manchester Airport Viewing Area today or as it's now known, The Runway Visitor Park. Amy can hardly move after her ice skating session yesterday, so it was just me, Mark and Thomas.

The last time we went I think Thomas was about 2 years old. I spent most of my time chasing him around the grass and my memory isn't what it used to be so I can't recall if this was here or not, but it didn't ring any bells. 
It was absolutely packed. There were dedicated plane spotters with cameras, binoculars and airband radios, groups/clubs and families with children just enjoying a day out.
The viewing platforms are excellent for a bit of plane spotting. I knew our National Trust binoculars would come in handy one day.
It really is a fantastic place to watch the planes. You can see them taxi down the runway for take off.
And land back safely on terra firma, all within easy viewing distance.
There are also planes that you can go on to have a look around, which is interesting although I have to say they seemed a bit rickety compared to today's models and I was glad money was tight when I was a girl and we spent our holidays in the UK. 
Dad worked at Hawker Siddleley Aviation in Chadderton when I was little, I think in the design/technical department. In it's hey day the company employed around 11,000 people. Mark's Mum also worked there on the cleaning team and it's strange to think their paths may have crossed without them knowing it and that their children would end up getting married.
Reading this made me smile. Who needs a car when you can fly an aeroplane although I hope it was because he didn't bother taking his driving test rather than being unable to pass!
We decided to book ourselves on the Concorde Tour and while we were waiting Thomas went in the park and me and Mark sat in the Concorde Cafe warming up with a coffee and hot chocolate watching him.
At 1.30pm it was time for the tour. I don't say this very often because it doesn't really bother me, but several toddlers were also part of the group and they made it quite plain that they didn't want to stand or sit still, making it difficult to fully hear what was being said.  
Never mind, we got the gist and what we did hear was really interesting. 
Nearly every member of the Royal Family have flown on Concorde. It can fly from UK to USA in just over 3 hours. The luggage hold is very small so it was strictly one case per person and no, you couldn't pay excess (no good for the WAGS of today). The little tables were set with linen, silverware and cut crystal glasses for every meal. Every year they spent around £3,000 replacing 'souvenirs' people had taken off the flight with them. 
Compared to the £7,000 per ticket it cost when the plane was de-commissioned in 2003, our £5 ticket that we each had to buy was a snip - even with the screaming toddlers. So, we can now say we've been on Concorde, omitting the fact that it wasn't actually flying!

And just to let you all know, that I'm slowing down on the blogging front for a while. Rather than posting every day I've decided to have three dedicated blogging days, Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. I'm hoping you'll still visit to see what's going on here at Number 38 as there's always something or other to report. 


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Quiet Saturday

There's nothing much to report today.

Amy has been ice-skating with her friends and they're back here now waiting for a Dominos delivery.

Thomas has bought some sort of add on package for an Xbox game which has kept him busy.

Mum came down for a coffee. 

I've been to the post office, the chemist for my prescription and Sainsburys for a few bits.

And this photo pretty much sums up the rest of the day.
Hope you've all had a good Saturday.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Messages to Grandad

My friend is still off school with her bunion, or rather without her bunion, so she came up for coffee, a toasted teacake and a natter this morning. She only stayed for an hour, she had to get back for the gas man and I had to take Sparky and Wendy to be groomed, but it was nice to see her and it's surprising how much we can talk about in 60 minutes!

It's the first time Wendy has been to the groomers, her paws and behind her ears needed a good sorting out. Unlike Sparky's 'all off' remit, I told them to just trim Wendy. Her fur is lovely and she's a lady, so definitely wouldn't suit a short back and sides.
Pets At Home is on a retail park so while I was there I popped into Asda. Amy needed index cards, I needed some stationery, Mum asked me to look for a top she wanted and Thomas needed some new undies. Disappointingly I only managed to sort Thomas out. 

Amy's food tech exam went well. It's worth 30% in marks, the rest is made up of coursework and an exam. The traybake didn't make it home in one piece but it looks really good on the photo she took at school.

Next week she has her German oral so we're spending 20 minutes every night listening to her. She has to speak for at least 4 minutes on a number of subjects and can be asked questions about music, sport, leisure, school etc. She also has to introduce herself, describe a friend and somewhere in the 4 minutes ask the invigilator a couple of questions as part of a two way conversation. She's really not looking forward to this so I'm glad it'll be done and dusted and out of the way for her. 
And last night they wrote messages to Grandad on Amy's birthday balloons. Typically Thomas has made sure Grandad knows who he is by signing off as 'your grandson' and also a request that if he sees this can he send a message back. 
I'm a believer, so I'm on the look out for a white feather or some other sign Tom might deem appropriate. 


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Boys Toys and A Change of Plan

Flowers and a (close your eyes Rachel and Sadie), vanilla crown are as regular on Thursdays at Number 38 as night turning to day is. I've had a break from tulips for a couple of weeks, all that droopiness was too depressing, but they are back in my life now and I'm hoping this bunch behaves itself.
Tomorrow is the Great Middleton Bake Off at Amy's school. She had another go at piping meringue last night and did much better. Tonight she's trying lemon curd again. I'm surrounded by raspberries, lemons, eggs and enough sugar to make me think if we actually ate the traybake, dental work would be required for the next few years at least. 
Mark and Thomas have a new hobby. Of course with a new hobby goes having to buy a new whatever it is you're doing, which happens to be a boat. Actually, I'm quite looking forward to joining in with this and although I'm not sure Mark will relinquish the controls it'll be fun to get out in the fresh air and do a bit of dry land sailing.
Threading the bumper tyres (no idea what the technical term is but they're to stop the sides getting damaged), kept Mark quiet for a while although there was a fair bit of muttering under the breath going on. I'm hoping we can take it out this weekend, it's got lights, a horn and blows smoke from the funnel and all this appeals to my childish side in a big way. 
I rustled myself up an open egg sandwich for lunch. The weight loss isn't happening which is disappointing (and obviously nothing to do with the vanilla crowns) and the holiday looms ever closer. There's nothing remotely finesse about this lunch. The salad was left over from a couple of nights ago and the egg was just hacked into pieces.
Our dance instructor is in Las Vegas this week and there's no lesson tonight so we're off to see Mum instead.

And there's been a change of plan regarding World Book Day. Thomas announced this morning he doesn't want to dress up as Fantastic Mr Fox. He's discovered the delights of Charles Dickens this week and wants to go as the Artful Dodger. Before anybody thinks I have a child genius on my hands the books are from the school library and are a watered down version suitable to his age. 

I didn't put up much of a fight, (none at all actually), for several reasons. Firstly, I was beginning to get a bit worried about painting a foxy face on hime on the morning of world book day, especially as he doesn't get out of bed until 8am. Secondly I can't do face painting so that would have been a slight problem and thirdly, there's an Artful Dodger costume on Ebay for a pretty decent price. Plus he's been wanting a top hat for ages (don't ask me why) so it'll kill two birds with one stone as they say.

So, now that's sorted I'm feeling a lot happier but not as happy as I'll be when he's dressed up for the final time next year. 


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Getting ready for the hols

Amy is on a get fit mission for the holiday, so she dragged the treadmill in from the shed last night. She does loads of walking on a day and sometimes goes running with her friend but she wants to do a bit more exercise. It might inspire me to get on it now that it's back in the house, then again it might not!

Anyway, this is an action shot of her running and Thomas holding a packet of popcorn in front of her as incentive! I love this little room that we converted. It might be small but it's surprising what goes on in here. It's where Amy, Thomas and friends go to play Xbox or watch TV, it's my flute room, a dumping ground for crafty stuff, holding bay for Mark's photography equipment, the laundry room and now an exercise room. It's worth it's weight in gold and means the lounge stays clutter free. Looking at this photo it's my stuff that's making a mess so I need to tidy up.
I didn't need much from Bury today but I went to the indoor market and bought some bits from the haberdashery stall. Bargain of the day was found in TJ Hughes, a pair of plain pillowcases for £1. They're a decent quality as well and they had loads to choose from. I got lemon for more pencil bags.
My getting ready for the hols didn't involve any exercise at all. Instead I  bought some shoes and flip flops. I'm very much a creature of habit. I've bought these same shoes for the past 3 years but they are so comfy I couldn't be without them.
On the way back I posted the teddies and worked out that I could send 42 for same price it cost to post 7 so I'll build up a stash of them before the next parcel gets posted.

The maths tutor came tonight. It was histograms, graphs and angles this week. Touch wood Amy seems to have taken to his style of teaching and it seems to be sinking in. 

I had my flute lesson yesterday. I've missed a couple of weeks but I'm back in the swing now. My new note was 'middle D'. It's not easy and I had Mum crying with laughter yesterday at the faces I pulled trying to hit the note. Trouble is once she starts laughing I only have to look at her and I'm off as well. My niece earned her money yesterday just putting up with us two. 


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

New Brighton

Thomas asked for dessert after his toast this morning. I've never heard of dessert after breakfast and it  made me laugh. Thinking he might want an apple I said "OK, what do you want". "A packet of cheese & onion crisps" was the reply!

After dropping him off at school and coming home to do a quick tidy around we set off for our Tuesday jaunt. New Brighton was the destination this week. I've never been before, it was a recommendation by Aunty Edith, and to be honest when we arrived I wasn't too sure. In fact, like an ungrateful child, I actually had a bit of a whinge. The lighthouse is right up my street but I wasn't too keen on the rest of the view, although after a while I began to appreciate the different skyline and watching the cargo ships coming in and going out was actually very interesting. 
We'd parked right on the front and our first walk along the promenade was to the left of the car. This took us past Marine Point a lovely new leisure complex with lots of restaurants and cafes. Further down was the boating lake. There was nobody out sailing their boats today, but I have a feeling we'll be returning in the coming weeks and launching Thomas' new boat on it's first Number 38 voyage.
The sun was out and although it was a bit chilly we soon warmed up. I took this photo from behind the Welcome to New Brighton sign. There are 2 clowns built to give the impression that there is a shadow. My photography skills leave a lot to be desired and I've not really done it justice, but if you look at the left arm you might get the idea. 
We turned around at this point and headed back to where the car was for fish and chips. I'd have liked to have walked up to the church I spotted on the way back, but I know my limitations and the hill would have half killed me.
After our lunch, sat watching the boats, it was time for another walk, this time to the right. The promenade is all pedestrianised apart from a cycle lane marked by 2 white lines, which didn't register with us and I nearly came a cropper with a bike. The houses along here are lovely but the view is of the docks which wouldn't appeal to me. 
But this certainly did. A natural art structure that children (and adults of course), can go on and explore. 
Isn't it fantastic. I absolutely love things like this and wish Thomas had been with me so I could have gone on it without looking silly.
And just across from The Black Pearl you can see Liverpool.
We walked for ages making the most of the weather and the flat terrain. I enjoy walking when I'm out there doing it and there's nothing nicer than a walk by the sea to the sound of waves. 

There's nothing very much at New Brighton, it's a very understated seaside destination with a small funfair, a couple of arcades and 2 or 3 fish and chip shops. But it is spotlessly clean, has massive areas of grass and a brilliant crazy golf course as well as a lovely theatre, (I popped in to use their facilities).  

So, would I go back. Well after my initial disappointment at the industrial view, yes I most definitely would. There was something quite charming about the place. 

And my lesson of the day - first impressions aren't always right. 


Monday, 22 February 2016

Budgeting, Book Day, Bits & Bobs

This is Amy's piggy bank after her birthday. Lucky, lucky girl. Now that she's 16 we thought it would be a good time for her to start learning how to properly manage money and budget for things. 
So, we've decided that from now on she'll get part of her child benefit. For any readers who don't live in the UK parents can claim child benefit for every child they have. The first child receives £20.70 per week up to the age of 20 (as long as they are in approved education), and every subsequent child gets £13.70 per week. 

Anyway, back to Amy. We're going to give her £60 of the child allowance and from that she has to buy clothes, shoes, haircuts, make-up, magazines, in fact pretty much anything she wants. The exception to this is school wear, but considering she leaves in about 4 months, I can't see me buying anything else for her. 

I think it'll be a good lesson for her in the value of money. She's also been 'advised' that after her exams she should look for a Saturday job. To be fair she does want a job, it's me that wants her to wait until after the exams, so I don't think that will be a problem. Her first spend comes this Thursday. She's booked a hair appointment and although she only ever has it washed and cut that will be 25% of her allowance gone already. 

Today, I've had a quick tidy around the house, for once there wasn't much mess made over the holidays. I think my big clear out in January has paid off as the house has stayed so much tidier since.

Then this afternoon I cut some more pencil bags, ready to sew. Annoyingly I forgot to iron the seams in so had to un-iron the fold downs and start over.
I've used red with some blue bias binding I had so these could be for boys or girls. I want to get these finished this week and in the post.
And this little lot will be going off on their travels as well. Then I'll have to find myself something else to do in March. 
Thomas came home with a note of what's happening at school between now and Easter. The dreaded World Book Day is 3rd March which gives me 9 days to come up with something. I'm thinking Fantastic Mr Fox and Thomas seems OK with this. 

And before you all run to the hills, I promise faithfully not to moan once about having to make this costume!


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Are you an In or Out?

I'm an 'inny'. But this isn't a political post. This morning I sat and watched the in/out malarkey unfold on TV. Every time somebody asked "are you in or out?" I thought of belly buttons. I can't help it, they just spring to mind. After 20 minutes, the news was starting to repeat itself so me and my 'inny' got dressed and popped into Middleton for some bits. 

Top of the list were Thomas' foods of the month. Cheese and onion crisps, rich tea biscuits and apples. He's also started drinking a glass of milk every day and I wonder, could this be the turning point where food is concerned. I don't hold out much hope, but we'll see. 

There is another teddy on the needles, I was going to get the ones already made in the post on Monday, but I've still got pencil bags to fill so I might as well knit another one while I'm looking for stationery. Lime green and lemon is one of my favourite colour combinations. Back in the 90's we had a lime green bedroom carpet, (I kid ye not),  and lemon walls, which I absolutely loved. I think it might have been inspired by a 'Changing Rooms' makeover. Do you remember that programme?
This afternoon I threw Amy's tray bake away, made a Victoria sponge and we had a quick version of afternoon tea while watching Mr Selfridge on catch up TV. We usually have a takeaway Saturday evening but get hungry late afternoon and start picking at bits, mainly chocolate and biscuits, so this seemed a better option to tide us over.
Amy has gone out with her friends for a meal to celebrate her birthday. These are different friends than the ones she used to hang around with. There was a major fall out with adopted daughter just before Christmas - not sure I ever mentioned that - and although they are back on speaking terms they don't meet up with each other any more. Anyway, hair needed to be curly tonight so she had me twisting and rolling and pinning. Not the best job, but it gave the desired tousled look she was after.
I dropped her off at her friends with overnight bag in one hand and converse in the other. No doubt we won't see her now until tomorrow afternoon.

And as much as I hinted at being invited out with the girls she was having none of it. Can't for the life of me think why!


Friday, 19 February 2016

Tray Bake Trial Run

The meal last night was lovely. Although Matthew pops in to see us every now and then we've not seen Sophie since before Christmas so it was nice to catch up with her. She has the neatest tiniest bump I've ever seen, unlike me, who looked like a whale at 3 months in both pregnancies. They bought Amy a lovely pen which is very apt as she's always writing something or other .
Amy does her food tech practical exam next week - the real thing - so today she did a trial run of her tray bake. She's a bit of a messy worker with no concept of tidying up as she goes along. They get marks for putting their hair up and washing their hands so I'm sure there'll be marks for wiping and clearing as you go, although Amy assured me there isn't and she'd tidy up at the end.
They have 5 hours to do their bake and she had the sponge, jam and creme pat done and dusted in the first 90 minutes. The lemon curd gave her a bit of trouble but she cracked it in the end and although her meringues tasted lovely she needs to work on her piping skills and try and get them a similar size.
They've been told marks are based on skills used and the difficulty level of making each thing, with not much emphasis on taste. Which is probably a bonus. Not that there's anything wrong with what she's made, in fact individually it all tasted delicious, but the lemon curd and jam combination was a bit sickly.
At least it will be one exam out of the way. And I think this will be her one and only trial run thank goodness because my kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it when she'd finished. The plus side is, if it all goes to plan on the day, she'll have plenty of time to wash up.  

In between popping in and out of the kitchen to see what's been happening I've done another teddy face and made up 10 pencil cases.
Tomorrow I'll pop into Middleton to see if I can find some more stationery. There seems to be a shortage in Middleton and Bury of small rulers, pencil sharpeners and notebooks so I'm not sure if it will be a successful shopping trip or not; I can but try.


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Sweet Sixteen

As of 7.13pm Amy was sixteen years old. How she's gone from being a doll like 5lb 6oz bundle to a 5'4" 16 year old who can make me laugh or annoy me in a split second is beyond me. And how I've gone from being in my early 30's to my late 40's so quickly is quite scary. What's even scarier is when Thomas is 16, I'll be 54! Anyway, moving on quickly. 
Today there were balloons
Cake with sparklers 
Cake for breakfast
And half eaten cake with the remaining sparklers lit when Aunty Edith came.

There was a visit from Grandma and lots of cards, gifts and money. 
And tonight there was a meal in Manchester with Matthew and Sophie. She's doing her own thing with friends on Saturday and although we offered to take her friends out with us, she just wanted a family meal. 

I went down memory lane for 10 minutes and got her baby box out. The lemon outfit is what she came home from hospital in and the little shoes were the first pair she had when she was about 6 months old
There are scan pictures (quite a few as I had a scan every few weeks), her birth tag, name tag, a ribbon and flower from her christening cake and the thread I was stitched up with after the section! All these things I can remember as clearly as though I'd given birth to her today.
I also came across an English book from when she was 6. Always brought up to tell the truth I love how she says school is 'a bring place' (boring place)! I think she ran out of time because knowing Amy she was about to write.... do this, do that.
And I love this little photograph album. It's full of the sweetest pictures of her (biased I know), from when she was about 3 years old.
Last night we got her to check what she can legally do now that she's 16. Here goes. She can buy a lottery ticket, ride a moped, get married with our permission, leave home, although she was quick to point out we can't throw her out. 

She can consent to her own medical and dental procedures, have sex, join the armed forces (with consent), earn minimum wage, buy premium bonds, invest in a cash ISA, order her own passport, drink alcohol in a pub with a meal but not buy the drink herself.

Quite randomly she can also fly a glider. Which is nearly as random as me keeping my C-section suture thread. And which, being the nosey parker I am, makes me want to know if there's anything you've kept as a memory that might seem quite strange to other people.