Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Is it really the last day of August? Exam results, college enrolment day and new school uniform hanging neatly in Thomas' wardrobe is a sure sign those lazy hazy summer days are all but over for another year.

So, what's been happening at Number 38 over the past few days.

Well, Amy's GCSE results came though. She did really well with A*, A and B grades, but in all honesty the maths grade totally outshone all the others because she got her much coveted C, which means that she never has to do a maths exam again. YIPEE! I don't know who was happier, her or me.

She'd chosen to have her results e-mailed to her and after a fraught morning they finally came through early afternoon. Within half an hour of receiving them she'd been up to her bedroom and gathered up all the maths paperwork she could find read to throw in the bin.
She enrolled at Manchester College yesterday and now embarks on 2 years of A Levels in English Lit, Psychology and Creative Writing. Tomorrow we're going out for a meal to celebrate her success.

We managed to sneak in another break at the van for a few days. We went last Friday and came home yesterday. It started fine with our usual swingball and connect 4 challenges.
Then it all went a bit skew whiff. We bought Thomas a scooter and within 15 minutes he'd fallen off it, twisting his ankle. An hour later when he still couldn't put his foot on the floor we made our way to A&E. Thankfully, after an X-ray the verdict was a bad sprain. As he was struggling to put any weight on it this meant we were pretty much based at the caravan for the final 2 days. We're pretty hard core at Number 38 though and not being able to walk is a minor issue, so we converted the back of the van into a 'sick bay' and turned the TV around for him to watch. 

Then me and Mark set ourselves up outside and watched the world go by over tea and cake. He's still struggling a little bit when he walks but it's getting better every day.
I'm not sure whether he'll look back on the summer of 2016 and think "ooh, I remember all those lovely days we spent at the van" or whether it will be more along the lines of "flipping heck Mum, do you remember the summer of 2016 when you kept dragging me off the Xbox to go to the van and I ended up in A&E again".

On the crafting front ponchos have been washed, buttons sewn on and they've been sent off. 
I also crocheted a twiddle muff which is a double thickness muff with buttons, ribbon and beads sewn on the inside and outside. 
They're given to Alzheimer sufferers so they have something to fiddle with, giving their hands and minds something to focus on. I sent this off to Knit for  Peace but when you type twiddle muff in the search engine it's surprising how many hospitals use them.
I did plain crocheting on the inside but for a bit of extra texture I crocheted bobbles on the outside.
My hands aren't used to being idle and after a couple of days off I was itching to get something on the hook again. We managed a trip to Cleveleys before Thomas sprained his ankle where I bought some wool including a lovely ball of multi-coloured yarn.
I decided to crochet a little top. I made it up as I went along but it's basically 2 blocks of crochet, then the sleeves are picked up and blocked and a scallop edging was added for a finishing touch. I think it looks quite cute. Mark says it reminds him of Noel Edmonds and Swap Shop and he's suggested I crochet a pink Mr Blobby one to go with it. Cheeky bugger. 
We also had a walk around the garden centre just down the lane and  I've decided Budleia is definitely on my list of plants to buy next year. No shortage of butterflies or bees over on the Fylde coast. This buddleja davidii 'White Profusion' was covered in them.
I've also taken to my books again and have read 2 since my last blog post.

On the house front, I've been keeping to my daily rota when I've been here. There are no more breaks on the horizon now until the end of September and with Thomas back at school on Monday my routine should be easy enough to keep to from now on. I've decided to do regular clear outs for the charity shop and this is the first haul. I think it will be mostly books and clothes I donate and I don't expect I'll have something every week but I'm aiming for regular drop offs rather than letting stuff build up.
I fear I may have tempted fate with my last post. I needed to have some blood tests done last week and unusually the Doc rang me with the results. Apparently my cholesterol, liver, thyroid, sugars etc are OK but my kidneys seem to be misbehaving. I have to go and see him next week where hopefully the first thing they might do is change some tablets around. We'll see. I refuse to google anything to do with it. Ignorance is bliss.  

And apart from that all is well at Number 38. I have a lot of catching up with blogs to do again so I'll be popping by to say hello to you all over the next couple of days. 

Thank you for all your comments. I haven't really been on here very much which is why I've not replied but I will be popping on now and then so if you want a 'chat' drop me a line :) 

Until the 30th September......


Sunday, 21 August 2016

It's Not Goodbye, It's Just Au Revoir

One thing the lack of Wifi on holiday made me think about was the amount of time I spend blogging every day.

I know the odd few lines of text and a photo here and there don’t look much but it’s surprising how much time it can take up some days. Time that lately I’ve wanted to channel into other things – even if that’s just sitting and staring into space.

I started the blog back in 2013, 5 months after my heart attack. It was to be a diary of what we got up to as a family with the idea being Amy and Thomas would have something to look back on when I’d pegged out by the end of that year, (there were many dark days in 2013 regarding my impending death). Truth was I'd convinced myself I would probably have another HA and wouldn’t be around to see in 2014, so I crammed as many things in for us to do as a family given the constraints of health, school terms, finance etc. and there always seemed something to write about.

Nearly 4 years later and thankfully I’m still here, living a sometimes exciting but mainly normal life of a wife and mother who just potters around doing her thing as and when the mood takes her.

So, while on holiday I made a decision. Not to stop blogging entirely but to cut down - a lot. In future I’m going to post about what’s been happening at Number 38 just once a month – on the last day.

The reason I’m writing this is because so many of you stop by every day, that to just disappear with no word would be extremely rude of me. 

I really hope you’ll still pop by to see what we’ve been up to and to have a ‘chat’ as generally our conversations are way more interesting, funny and inspiring than the post they stem from.

My lack of blogging certainly won’t mean lack of reading though and I’ll still be keeping in touch with you all through your blogs.

And so, as the title says it’s not Goodbye, it’s just Au Revoir…… until 31st August.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

A week on the Emerald Isle

After a lovely week in Ireland, we're back home at Number 38.

This was our home for the week and very comfortable it was too. Although the lack of wifi meant no blogging, I typed up our daily activities and just slotted in the photos back home.
There were 3 bedrooms each with a balcony and this was the view from ours. 
The deer on the island were very obliging and would wander along the grass by the lodge regularly so we could see them.
To get to the island we had to cross the river on the Mary Fitzgerald ferry.
And we were lucky enough to see 2 weddings at the castle while we were there. 
 Most of the land is given over to the 18 hole golf course but behind the scenes where nobody ventures very much there are several dilapidated buildings which we were drawn to.
There's no information about these to be found which is a shame as I find this sort of thing fascinating; wondering who lived here and what the buildings were used for.
We always try to do something every day while we're away and on Sunday Amy and Thomas had a falconry experience. 

John brought 2 birds along with him. Roger the Hawk is 2 years old and he was a little bit naughty as he caught a mouse in the woods which meant he lost a little bit of interest in the bits of chicken John placed on Thomas' arm.  But he did fly in several times so Thomas was more than happy.

This was the first flight. Absolutely love the Irish accent!

And we also met Maggie who is only 9 weeks old and still very much in training. She won't grow any bigger than this and she was a real cutie pie - even I stroked her.

Monday's trip was a visit to a nearby cove where we all had a paddle.
Tuesday was a visit to Waterford Crystal. It was fascinating to watch the craftsmen at work. One glass blower we spoke to has worked there since 1969.
This is called the apprentice bowl. An apprenticeship lasts 5 years and if at the end of his time the apprentice can't cut a bowl using all the skills required then he's out of a job.
On Wednesday we had a trip out to New Ross to visit the SS Dunbrody, better known as the famine emigration ship that sailed to America. 
The history behind the emigration was fascinating and very sad. It all stemmed from the potato famine in 1845-52 when an estimated 2 million people starved to death and another 1 million emigrated. It took them 6 weeks to sail to America in wretched conditions and if half of the 300 passengers made it they were lucky. At the time of the potato famine Ireland had a population of around 8 million people, but after so many deaths and people emigrating the population never recovered to anywhere near this number and today stands at only 4.6 million.
Thursday we had another trip out to a local beach and then went into Waterford which is very much Viking orientated.
In between our outings we went for walks around the island, stopping off for some of the black stuff at the golf club house. The only downside was we never did spot Eliza the fairy no matter how much Guinness was consumed!
And Mark and I may even have had the odd evening at the Castle with a G&T although we never did venture into the rather exquisite dining room.

Thursday evening we were informed it was doubtful our ferry for returning home on Saturday would be sailing because of the predicted gale force winds, and we were advised to change sailing times if we could. There wasn't a lot of choice so we went for a sailing Friday morning, returning home last night. When we went to settle our bill at the castle we told them we were leaving due to the ferry, (I didn't want them to think we weren't happy), and they just knocked the cost of the last night off the bill which was really good of them.

All in all we had a really relaxing break. Ireland is a beautiful country, the pace of life is slower than what we're used to, the people are really friendly and once again the weather was kind to us.  

It's always good to be home but I'm sure one day we'll return to The Emerald Isle. 


Sunday, 14 August 2016

We're Here

So, here we are on the island in Ireland. Wifi isn't up to much so to avoid my annoyance levels rising, this will be my one and only post while we're here. 

Our lodge is very nice. Great views and we've seen 2 groups of deer only a few feet away from us already. The castle looks lovely but apart from checking in we've not been able to go in yet as there was a wedding yesterday and a private function again today. The rest of the week we can go in whenever we want.

This morning Amy and Thomas did falcony which was fun and interesting for all of us.

There's a park with a zip wire which Thomas spends ages whizzing down. I don't think I've ever seen him with dirty trousers, grubby hands and a hot dusty face before. It's lovely.

We've just got back from a 2 hour walk around the island. Not right the way round though, it doesn't seem possible to do that, but far enough.

There's not much chance of any photos being uploaded either, so I'll have to save them for when I get home.

Until then.... 


Thursday, 11 August 2016

Poncho and Holiday Preview

It's not been a good day for Thomas today. Not only did he have to go to the barbers he also had to go shopping tonight for a new school coat. But, as compensation for the trauma we bought him new PJ bottoms to add to his stash.

I've done all my ironing and surprisingly just one load of washing for the holidays. Probably because the offspring haven't really been dressed all week. 

While I was at the van I started another pastel poncho because they were the only colours I had with me. In between crocheting up the colourful one I've managed to finish it off.
I'm quite pleased with my fancy pants border. The colourful one will come with me to Ireland and by the time I get back I expect it will be finished.
I'm also planning on taking the laptop but just in case there are any problems here's where we are going.

We'll be staying on Little Island or Waterford Island as it's become known at Number 38 and the only way on and off is by a ferry which should be fun. For some reason I can't load a photo of the island but it's not very big.

This is the castle on the island. You can stay her but we opted for the self-catering lodges which suit us better. It's open to everybody though, apart from the Saturday we arrive as there's a wedding on. We'll be settling in that day anyway and there'll be plenty of time to visit in the week.

One of these 3 bed lodges will be our home for the next week.

We've booked a falconry lesson for Thomas and Amy and Mark has clay pigeon shooting on his agenda. There is also a golf course, tennis courts, croquet lawn and a little beach so maybe a paddle will be in order for us.

Not sure I'll be posting tomorrow so if not, hopefully we'll be able to meet up over a Guinness very soon. 



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Doing what we fancy

It's been very much a day of doing what we all want here at Number 38.

Mark has a new boat that he's been tinkering with and took out to sail on the lake this evening.
I have new books and have spent the day reading and crocheting.
Amy is teaching herself to play the ukulele. 
Thomas has been reading a minecraft book and gadgeting as he does.
So, nothing exciting here today, but 4 happy Number 38-ers. 


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

No night feeds for me tonight

First job today was to take Wendy to the vet for her boosters. I asked the vet to look in her ears while I was there. No particular reason I just though I might as well as they looked a bit waxy. According to the vet they just needed a clean so she said she'd prescribe some drops to help break the wax down. In between leaving her room and walking next door to pay the bill Wendy had suddenly developed inflammation of the ear and as well as the drops there was also a bottle of antibiotics waiting to be paid for!

After I'd dropped her home I headed out to do a quick shop. I'm trying to get the balance right this week with food. We've not much in but I don't want to overbuy as we're off to Ireland on Saturday. For a change I did a Tesco shop and picked up these individual treats that we enjoy. Yoghurt for me, trifles for Mark, pringles for Amy and chocolate swiss rolls for Thomas. We're easily pleased. 
By 11.30am the dog was sorted, the shopping was put away and my purse was £116 lighter!

The clematis is flowering for a second time. There are a couple of flowers and I've got twice as many buds as last time, we just need a bit of sun to entice them to open.
There is another poncho on the hook. This one is more colourful and along the lines of blankets that I've made in the past; no pattern as such and any colour goes! Poncho making is definitely good for stash busting.
Amy has been to the cinema this afternoon with some friends and I'm hoping to have my own film night a little later on with Eddie the Eagle. 

We don't have Sienna tonight as she's been to the Doctors today. She's suffering from reflux so she's been given some baby gaviscon. Mum and Dad are shattered. Hopefully we'll see her before we go away.


Monday, 8 August 2016

Project Poncho

Sometimes an idea just pops in my head and I think, I'll have a go at that, which is basically what happened with the poncho. 

There are loads of poncho patterns out there but after trying and failing several times to follow a 'basic crochet pattern for beginners' I gave up. I can crochet row after row no problem, but crocheting round and round completely foxed me. Then quite by chance I came across a picture of how to join a poncho together, which basically showed two rectangles folded in a certain way.

After making a template out of grease proof paper and folding it as directed, I didn't see any reason why it wouldn't work and set to.

Going off the template I cast on 30 stitches and worked 40 rows of half double crochet. Then I did exactly the same again, ending up with 2 rectangles. The colours were done in the same order, I've just photographed one of the rectangles upside down. 
The magic bit then comes with the joining and folding. First you join the 2 pieces together to make an 'L' shape.
Then you fold the bottom over to the edge of the other rectangle. There's nothing to sew here, it's just so you can line the next part up.
Which is bringing down the top to meet the edge of the folded over piece. This seam needs to be sewn. 
Give it a little turn and hey presto it's looking like a poncho.
I usually crochet my ends in as I go, no idea why I didn't do that this time, but sewing them in took ages and was very tedious. After I'd done that boring job, I crocheted a border around the neck and a scallop border around the edges, to end up with this.
There's plenty of give at the opening and it would easily go over a child's head. At a guess I'd say it would be suitable for a 2 year old. It just needs a wash and a light press and it's done.

Have to say I'm rather proud of this, so much so that there's another one on the go already. 


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Home again

Yesterday we had a walk down the road to the pub for lunch and spent quite a while playing Irish Snap - a game that Thomas taught me.
They might only be weeds but they're still pretty and filled the hedgerows with colour.
Today, we paid an extra £5 to stay on site until 5pm instead of having to leave at noon. Worth every penny for the extra time and the leisurely pack up.

Plus it meant we could go out for a couple of hours to Blakemere Craft Centre, a collection of little shops; antiques, tea rooms, sweet shop etc. I didn't buy anything but it was nice to have a wander around.
We didn't put our awning up this time but a lady arrived on Friday with her 4 children aged 8 and under, the 8 year old being quite a handful. She'd only picked the van up that day and she'd also bought an awning.  All credit to her for towing and setting up by herself, but the awning was obviously too much for her so Mark put it up. That was after sorting out her electrics that weren't working! He's a good man.

The first load of washing is in and thanks to Amy I've come home to a pile of ironing done. What a star she is. 

I'm hoping to post my poncho creation tomorrow. See you then. 


Friday, 5 August 2016

Boat Lift and Poncho

A beautiful day here in Cheshire with lots of sunshine and blue skies. We've been very lucky that our time in the van always seems to be accompanied by good weather.

This morning we mooched around the site and played more baseball. I am shockingly unfit, I cannot run to save my life and I'm puffing and panting after 5 minutes. Mind you I don't have to do that much running really because somehow it's always Thomas' turn to bat.

Then this afternoon we had a drive out to the Anderton Boat Lift. I have no idea about the technical side of this although it was explained but basically (and this is very much in layman's terms), you get in a barge, sail around the corner, enter a holding bay thing and then the you're lifted up from the River Weaver at the bottom to the Trent and Mersey canal at the top as another boat comes down. Not being technically minded at all it amazes me how people came up with these ideas and actually built things like this all those years ago. 
After the boat lift we headed back to the van for more baseball and chilling out time to find this superdooper Airstream van was parked up just behind us. Isn't she lovely. Not sure I'd like the job of keeping her so shiny though.
I've managed to do loads of crochet and am so excited because the poncho has actually worked. I can't believe how simple it is to make one just by crocheting 2 rectangles, but uploading photos takes so long I'm afraid it'll have to wait until I get home. 
And that's it for today. We're having a very laid back break this time which is fine by me.