Friday, 30 June 2017

Photo 31

I bought cherries today and they are absolutely delicious. Amy loves them and now she's home all day that means double the dips into the bowl have taken place and there aren't nearly as many left as when I took the photo earlier. 

I love all fruit as long as it's sweet. I can't tolerate anything that's even in the slightest bit tart - as Thomas would say "it gets my juicy glands". So for me it has to be sweetness all the way. It can be quite disappointing to pop a handful of blueberries or strawberries into my mouth only to discover they're too tart for me to eat. 

Amy is the opposite - we really are poles apart in lots of things - she is not a lover of fruit that is overly sweet. 

I'm also a lazy fruit eater, the less effort required to get my 5 a day quota inside me the better. Apples would definitely be bottom of my fruit list, although if that's all we have I'm happy to eat them. 

I'm don't just like fresh fruit either. I can happily work my way through tins of the stuff and peaches are my favourite. 

And as I finish this post, life, as they say, is definitely not a bowl of cherries at this precise moment in time at Number 38. The blasted washing machine has got something stuck in the filter again so we need to fix that :(


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Photo 30

Today we have been grandparents for exactly one year. 

We haven't seen Sienna because even though it's Thursday Sophie has taken a day off work to be with her. I'm not sure if they are doing anything specific but if Matthew is involved he didn't seem to know anything about it when Mark rang him on Tuesday to ask him for something. He replied "yep, no problem, I'll drop it off when I bring Sienna on Thursday". When Mark told him Sienna wasn't coming because it's her birthday and Sophie was having a day off, his exact words were "oh, no".

They are having a family get together on Saturday so we'll be going to that although we'll be late arrivals as Amy doesn't finish work til 2pm. By the time she's got home, got changed it'll be 3pm before we arrive. But they're holding off on the cake and singing Happy Birthday until we get there. 

Sophie sent me the official cake smash photos and I thought you might like to see some. My favourite is the first one. She's crying and it reminds of that song "it's my party and I'll cry if I want to".  Mind you I think I would as well if I had a garden with ears on my head and cream smeared all over my feet! She's pretty darned cute though even if I do say so. 


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Photo 29

The decorator is booked in for next week. He's doing the dining room on Tuesday and Thomas' bedroom on Wednesday. 

I didn't think Thomas would mind what colour I chose for his room so when I asked him what he wanted I was expecting him to say he wasn't bothered. I was pretty shocked when he said purple. 

He's colour blind with red and green and I know a few colours look different shades to him, so I thought he might mean more of a bluey purple, but when I showed him the chart he pointed to the brightest purple on there, making my knees buckle ever so slightly.

It is definitely not something I would have chosen but it's his room so I'm happy-ish for him to have it - on one wall. Batman and The Joker have a lot to answer for.

The name of the colour made me smile. It's called Crown Jewels. While for some it might conjure up regal images of robes, crowns and amethysts, it brings something completely different to my mind and seems very appropriate for a boy's room don't you think :)

Brace yourselves friends, there's a bright colour coming up!


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Photo 28

I posted the ponchos and dresses today to Little Dresses For Africa UK - a new charity I stumbled across.  

I was only going to send the ponchos to them and the dresses to Dress A Girl Around the World but the lady who co-ordinates DAGAW is away for 2 months and has asked people to leave posting anything until September.

I don't like things hanging around so I sent everything off to the one charity. 

I really enjoy making the ponchos and it's a good way to use up bits of wool. I like them all but my favourite is the lemon and lime. 

Time to put the hook down now and pick up the needles again for another round of angels. 


Monday, 26 June 2017

Photo 27

I've been stripping wallpaper off today in the dining room. It wasn't that hard to do, there's only one wall and it came off really easy. We don't have a steam stripper so I just did it the way Dad used to. Hot soapy water, a paintbrush, splash it on, leave it for 5 mins then scrape it off. 

The only problem is behind the radiator. When the decorator papered for us last time he dropped a full length behind there and I'm struggling to get to it. It's a long radiator and there are 3 widths of wallpaper I need to remove. It should come off easily enough, but I need something long to get down the back.

I was muttering about this to Mark and he went to the shed and appeared with a 1960's fish slice that belonged to his Mum and Dad. I have no idea why it's ended up down here or why Mark would know straightaway where it was - it's hardly heirloom material. In true Tom & Joan style it's been used until it's tissue paper thin.  Unfortunately, it was neither use nor ornament for the job in hand but Mark had done his bit and went back to the laptop pretty quickly.

I'm afraid my new paper is very similar to what I've removed. Yes, I've veered towards red again - I just can't help myself. I bought 3 rolls of lovely wallpaper that was white with a shiny flower embossed on it, but when I taped my tester piece up I hated it. It was too insipid, I need to be hit with a dose of colour. So I took it back,  swapped it and feel much happier with my second choice. 

I think we might be nipping to B&Q in a while for some paint for Thomas' room so I'm going to have a look and see if I can find something that will scrape behind the radiator, unless somebody reads this in the next half hour and can give me a brilliant tip on what to use :)


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Photo 26

This is about as exciting as it got at Number 38 today. A bit of baking. I made blueberry and chocolate cakes. Blueberry are Amy's favourite, I buy her one from Lidl every week, and Thomas loves chocolate. 

We were supposed to go strawberry picking but rain scuppered those plans. Actually it stopped mid afternoon but by then I was in the middle of cooking a roast chicken dinner and it was too late to set off. 

I know from visiting blogs some of you have also been baking this weekend. How about everybody else; have you made anything? 



Saturday, 24 June 2017

Photo 25

Amy is out in Manchester this evening. She's going for cocktails to celebrate her friend's birthday. I don't mind her having a drink, she's sensible, she doesn't really like it and I'm sure one will probably be enough for her, she may even opt for non-alcoholic.  I'm not worried about her being in Manchester, it's probably a lot safer than Middleton. Here you get all the local plonkers out looking for trouble.  

It reminds me of when I was 16 and with nothing much to do in Cirencester, meeting my mates in the local for a lager or pernod & black was normal. Back then of course there were no ID checks and a bit of extra eye shadow, rouge and lippy seemed to do the trick. 

If you went into town it was the same. As long as you looked old enough they served you. I can clearly remember a new pub opening and they put 2 bouncers on the door - I have no idea why - but that suddenly became the in place to be and if we got past those beefcakes we thought we were the cat's whiskers.

If you put your drink down on the bar the only worry you had was somebody drinking it, not spiking it and I would happily walk the mile or so home on my own never giving a thought that somebody might harm me. If I ever felt scared, it was because I'd watched a horror movie, (they really aren't my thing) and I'd go over the roundabout rather than under the subway.

I can't imagine how parents coped back then not being able to phone or facetime their offspring at the drop of a hat but they seemed a lot more laid back than they do today. I do remember the pub phones would sometimes ring and the landlord would yell out somebody's name who was wanted.

Ah, good times indeed and the pub was definitely a step up from passing cider around in a car park! 


Friday, 23 June 2017

Photo 24

I'm sorry but this is a moaning post, so if you don't fancy me wittering on about school, click off now. 

We received a letter from Thomas' High School yesterday saying that a Team Building Induction day has been organised during the last week of September at a cost of £35.

As usual, and this is really beginning to annoy me because whenever money is concerned it's always the same, if you are a pupil who meets the criteria you don't have to pay. I'm sorry, but I'm getting mightily fed up of this. The odd bit of money here and there is OK and I try not to think too much about who isn't having to cough up again, but asking for £35 to do a bit of building and archery when a good percentage of children won't be paying is taking the mickey.  

It's so the pupils can get to know each other. What a load of tosh. Many of them are going with friends from primary and those they don't know on the first day they probably will do by 25th September when this is taking place. 

So I've sent an e-mail to the school asking why they can't all just walk down to the local park where there's a big field and at a cost of £0.00 for everybody concerned do a bit of team building there.

For goodness sake, they're 11 years old. Who thinks up this c**p that costs some parents money. And it's not about not being able to afford it, it's about always having to pay. 

As yet I've not received a reply and because I don't want a photo of my angry face on here today's photo is a random one of Thomas blowing bubbles.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Photo 23

It's rained today, the fine drizzle kind. It doesn't seem to have cleared the air though and it's what I call jungle weather. Not that I've ever been in a jungle but I imagine this is what it feels like. 

There have still been bright spots though -  weather wise and during the day in general. 

Little Miss Sienna, grown up enough now to sit in the trolley while we shop. She's probably been able to do this for weeks, but Granny and Grandpa only had the lightbulb moment today. 
My Rose! I am ridiculously happy that this has flowered and the colour is gorgeous. 
And a rather bright poncho has been finished. I just need to add a tassel.  
Hope you've all had a bright and cheerful day. 


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Photo 22

Sometimes plans, ideas and life are just a process of elimination and we've certainly found this today with Amy applying for university.

She's been advised by college to apply to several so she has the chance of more offers. And so the process began.

She definitely wants to move away from Greater Manchester so already some have been written off by her determination to do this. 

Then there's the question of courses. I assumed they would all offer the 'basic' English, Maths, Sciences, but I was wrong, so a few more have been crossed off the list.

Distance is a factor - she wants to move away but not to the other end of the country, so everything south of Bristol and north of Cumbria has been eliminated.

Then you get into the realms of grades. The top ones require 3 A's regardless of what you want to study, while lower down the ranks, grades of ABB, BBB or BBC are accepted. She's a predicted A student in English Lit and Creative Writing but teeters on the A/B in psychology leaning more towards the B, so to save herself the stress and worry a few more have had a cross put against them.

According to UniRank there are 152 universities in the UK. After we've taken everything into account I think Amy is now looking at around 6 of them! 

If I understand correctly it will cost around £9,250 per year for 3 years and she should get a student loan to cover this. I've no idea what this actually pays for as I haven't delved that far yet but I sincerely hope some of it is accommodation!

According to the information I've read the loan is only paid back when you've graduated and are earning £21,000 per annum. A £21k wage would mean you pay back £26 per month. If you've not paid back the loan after 30 years it's written off. 

I didn't go to university, circumstances led me down a different route, but I suppose I'm very old school about them. I basically tend to think the degree needs to be worth getting into debt for. Otherwise I strongly veer towards apprenticeships and think there should be more of these on offer. 

I don't want to get into whether university should be free or not, but I would just say I'm grateful education is gratis for all our children up to the age of 18. At the moment we find ourselves in a 'not free' era where uni is concerned but when paying it back gets broken down, it doesn't actually seem that bad. 

Yes, it would be a lot better not to have to pay back any loan but if it's enabled you to get a decent job that pays well then surely it's worth it. 

I know a few people from abroad read my blog and I'd be interested to see how our costs at degree level compares and whether you think yours and ours is value for money or not. 

If anybody has or has had a child in Uni where they've had to pay fees, I'd be really interested to hear whether you think it was worth it or not and also any other basic information you might be able to help with, such as hidden costs. 

Amy, the possible uni one, who really prefers to do an apprenticeship but doesn't know 
how she could do this as she wants to study English Literature. 



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Photo 21

I got the sewing machine out again this morning and made two dresses with the butterfly t-shirts. For the skirts I bought a set of plain pillowcases from Wilko and I'm really pleased with how they've matched up. I might pop into Primark tomorrow for a couple more tops. 

So far each dress is working out between £2.00 and £2.50 to make which I think is really good. I watched a real time video on youtube and the woman sewed her t-shirt dress up in just under 20 minutes but I'm no professional and as easy as they are they can take me a couple of hours - although there's a lot of stopping and starting to do other things as well. But equate those 2 hours to the money spent and it's a nice little hobby for the cost. 

I'm thinking I might get Mark to take me to Abakhan next week to pick up some patterned material but I'm not sure. It's a real faff parking in Manchester these days and all he can do is drop me then hang around in the car in case a traffic warden appears. I always feel under pressure to be quick and as you know that's not as easy as it sounds in a fabric or wool shop! There's a stall on Bury market which I'll try tomorrow but he doesn't have anything priced up which I don't like. I think he just makes it up as he goes along and some of his stuff seems ridiculously expensive.

I just need to add a pocket to the the dresses and they'll be finished. Personally I think they look better without but the little girls like pockets so pockets they will get. 

Can you believe rainy Manchester made it in the top 10 hottest places yesterday. Apparently it's not been as hot today but you wouldn't know it. The water in the paddling pool is warm after being out there for a couple of days and me and Amy keep standing in it to cool our tootsies off. 

Stay cool my friends :) 



Monday, 19 June 2017

Photo 20

Another hot day! I've had all the windows and doors open and there's a fan whirring around in the lounge to keep me cool. Amy and Thomas' bedrooms were stifling last night because the sun is on them all day, so I went to Argos to buy 2 more for their rooms.

When I handed the sales assistant the code, she took one look and said "a fan", which made me laugh. I bet she's keyed that number in a fair few times over the weekend. I managed to bag the last one and found the other in Wilko so the bedrooms are a lot cooler now. 

The garden is suddenly full of flowers and colour so I decided I'd gather myself a little posy for the table. 

I would love to have a garden where I could take a basket and stroll around snipping flowers off here and there for the house while wearing a big straw hat, but I don't. It doesn't stop me though and even a small posy makes me happy. I can't do it very often or the garden would be bare but when my sweet peas blossom I'll be in my element because I can snip away quite happily every day. 

So, another question. Do you have gardens and do you cut flowers to bring into the house? Or are you more a grow your own food type of gardener?

Hope you're enjoying the weather and managing to keep cool. 





Sunday, 18 June 2017

Photo 19

Oh My Goodness! It has been HOT today. Even the 3/4 trousers I pull out of the wardrobe to acknowledge summer has arrived have been replaced by shorts.

We had loosely discussed going out for the day - I fancied seeing some countryside after looking at the photos Rachel and Jules posted on Instagram, but we both decided sitting in the car, possibly in traffic queues, would be a waste of a lovely day, so we stayed put.

I got the paddling pool out yesterday. I wasn't sure if anybody would get in it, but who can resist a bit of splashing about whatever age you are. 

Amy and Thomas spent the first 15 minutes bickering - Thomas wanted to splash Amy, Amy didn't want him to,  so I gave them half a pool each! It wasn't long before Amy got into the swing of things and her glasses came off - a sure sign she was about to give Thomas as good as she was getting. 

Then they played forfeits, where one had to sit on a chair and answer questions about the other. Get it wrong and you got a bowl of water poured over you. As well as being funny it was really interesting to hear just how much they actually know about each other. Questions ranged from favourite colour, food, pokemon characters, friends and special dates to the more bizarre just so they could tip water over each other.

Amy eventually got out and left Thomas playing a game of trying to throw the bowl up and get it to land on his head. He must have spent a good hour doing this. Funny what keeps them entertained isn't it. 

I got up this morning and they were already back in it. In the afternoon I dipped my toes in. It was so warm that I couldn't resist lying down in it to cool off. Lovely and much better than sitting in a hot car. 

Hope you've all enjoyed your Sunday. xx 



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Photo 18

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary. According to the anniversary list that means copper. As the only copper things that spring to mind are saucepans and pipes I'm glad we don't tend to bother with presents. We haven't even bothered with cards this year. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. I could say that we don't need cards and presents because we say 'I love you' to each other every day, but that would just be a big fat lie!

We are, I suspect, a typical married couple who've known each other for 25 years. We bicker, argue, have very different points of view on a lot of things and the sun usually goes down on our arguments before they've been resolved -  we tend to make up in the morning over a brew.

But having said all that I wouldn't change Mark for the world and I hope he feels the same about me. 

We've decided to acknowledge the day by going out for a curry tonight minus the children which I'm looking forward to, mainly because it means I don't have to cook.

I'm sure there's plenty of you out there who have been married or with your partners for a lot longer than Mark and I have been together and I'm being unashamedly nosy now by asking how long?


Friday, 16 June 2017

Photo 17

I'm crocheting a poncho. I stumbled across a charity that wants them and I couldn't resist. I really enjoyed making Sienna's and they are so easy to do but one poncho is more than enough for a little girl who has the wardrobe of a super model.

Actually, I'm not sure I should be making this as I already have some projects on the go which I could be getting on with, but today I want to make ponchos and have even chosen the colours for the next one. I seem to have fallen into a habit of having several things on the go at once. I was never like this in my younger days. Back then, I would start something and finish it before moving on to something else, but these days, I seem to dip in and out of things on a daily basis. 

In a couple of weeks having so many unfinished things will start to get on my nerves and I will make a concerted effort to finish everything, parcel it up and send it of to the relevant people.

Then I will tell myself that's it for a while. I will be fed up of seeing balls of wool on the coffee table and fabric stacked on the shelf. I will be glad I don't have to look for my crochet hook or the sewing needle (both are always found in between the sofa cushions), and I will be determined that no more projects will be started for a good few weeks, instead my energies will be focused on the house and the garden. 

Of course, the house and garden don't stand a chance when competing with wool and fabric so it won't be long before I'm picking up my crochet hook, knitting needles or getting the sewing machine out again. And the cycle will re-start. Variety is the spice of life as they say.

Are you a starter and finisher or do you have several things on the go at once?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Photo 16

Sienna arrived bright and early this morning. Mark is the early bird in this house so he receives her ladyship then they both come upstairs to wake Granny up. It's rather lovely to open my eyes to a smiling baby who's already dressed and being held by somebody else. I wave from my bed, get a big toothy grin for my efforts, then haul myself out of my pit to begin the day. By 8.30am she's generally got a couple of episodes of Teletubbies or In the Night Garden under her belt and has eaten her cereal and fruit for breakfast. 

The plan today was to go shopping, then take her to the park to feed the ducks but she had a sleep between 9am-10am so shopping was done later than usual and by the time it had been put away it was her lunchtime. Then she slept for 2 hours which was lovely but it meant there was no time to get to the park and back before picking Thomas up. 

I've no idea how I used to fit play centres, walks, parks, visits etc in when Amy was little but I did. Maybe I was a lot quicker at doing things back then and I know for sure I was definitely fitter. I suspect it was more to do with the fact she would mither so much to do things it was easier to just do them rather than listen to her go on. She was definitely a live wire when she was a toddler so when Thomas hit that stage and would only go out under duress it was a bit of a shock, but if I'm honest a big relief as well 

Anyway, Sienna has been a joy to have today, which isn't the case every week I can tell you. I'm hoping the weather is nice again next week and I'm going to try and re-arrange the day a little bit so we can get out to the park, as long as she doesn't sleep and eat the day away. 

Edited to add: it looks like we've given her a dirty mop head to cuddle, but it's a sheep and she takes it everywhere with her. It's bedraggled, full of holes and has had the legs sewn back on more times than I can remember, but she loves it. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Photo 15

Although I don't have specific washing/ironing/housework days, I am a creature of habit and my week definitely has a routine to it. 

Monday is generally housework although this is not set in stone, Tuesday is my day where I try not to plan anything, Wednesday there is a trip to Bury, Thursday is the weekly shop and Sienna, Friday more often than not is Middleton with Mum to stock up on a few bits and Saturday and Sunday are whatever comes along. 

I like routine but sometimes doing things on specific days means the week seems to fly by and I find myself in Bury or Lidl or Middleton again before I know it. 

Anyway, it's Wednesday so today was Bury. I didn't need much this week. A few t-shirts for some more dresses, a little trimming which I thought would look nice and some bits and pieces from the £1 shop. I popped into The Works but nothing took my fancy. 

I also bought some bug spray - my poor rose is covered in greenfly and blackfly. After blitzing the little blighters and hanging some washing out I spent a little time fixing the trim around the neck of the dress just to pretty it up a little bit.  

Before I know it, it's 3pm and Thomas time and from then on my routine is very much entrenched in food and kitchen duties. Do you have a strict routine or do you take each day as it comes? 



Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Photo 14

Yesterday we had a massive sort out and tidy of the Xbox room. It helped that Mark was here because quite a bit of stuff in there belongs to him and if he's not around to ask whether he still needs it I end up putting most of it back. 

We managed to fill 3 bags with rubbish and 2 bags for the charity shop.

While I was tidying my shelves I touched the fabric box and suddenly had a hankering to do a bit of sewing again. So today, I decided to make a dress. Dress A Girl prefer t-shirt dresses these days, something I've never made before but I thought I'd give it a go. 

While I was in the charity shop I bought a quilt cover that I thought would look nice made into dresses. Then I popped into Peacocks for a white t-shirt. I came home and spent a nice hour making a fairly easy dress which hopefully will bring a smile to a little girl somewhere in the world. 

So today, it feels like everybody is a winner. The YMCA got some things to sell and £1.99 in their till. Peacocks made a sale. I got to do something I enjoy and a little girl will receive a dress in the not too distant future. 

Happy Days.



Monday, 12 June 2017

Photo 13

Today has been dry but windy and I've managed to get 3 loads of washing on the line. No idea where it's all come from as the basket was empty on Friday but I suspect Amy cleaning her room has something to do with it. 

Her floor was ankle deep in clothes and I told her that in future there'll be a weekly room inspection every Sunday. If I can put one foot in front of the other without standing on anything she passes and gets her allowance. If not she can kiss goodbye to it.

I can't possibly show you a photo of what it was like before I read her the riot act and to be honest apart from the floor being cleared it's not really that much better even now, but I managed to find a couple of nice little corners in there.

She always been a cuddly toy girl and likes to light a candle every now and then so I've focused on these better aspects of her pig sty! 

I am not past naming and shaming though so next week there might be some less savoury photos on here!


Sunday, 11 June 2017

June Week 2 - Photo .12

Photo 12 - my healthy breakfast of yoghurt, strawberries and blueberries. This week has been a get up and go kind of week energy wise and I've been paying more attention to what I've been fuelling up on. It won't last, it never does, as you'll see further down, but all I can do is embrace the energy and the healthy eating while I can. 
So, what's been happening this week. 

Well, as you probably know there was a bit of slime making going on in the kitchen. I think Thomas got cold feet about taking it in though in case he was caught with the contraband so after all that mess it stayed wrapped on the windowsill for 3 days until I binned it. At least he had fun making it. 
I got another Works voucher for my birthday which I love receiving and bought a new book. It's full of handy little tips which I expect we all know but it's a good book to pick up and flick through.
A surprise parcel arrived in the post - they really are the nicest ones aren't they.  This was sent by the lovely Liz at lovethosecupcakes. She probably won't remember but not long after the HA I posted something about it always being on my mind and she wrote a comment that helped me deal with it more positively. You really should visit her blog if you haven't done. She posts lovely photos and goes off on the most exciting adventures for her holidays. I feel truly blessed that I've made so many lovely friends in bloggy world. 
It was Mark's birthday yesterday. He spent the day in Manchester drinking real ale under the guise of attending a watch meeting. The meetings often happen around his birthday so it was an added bonus it was on the actual date. We're not precious about things like that. Sometimes we make plans and celebrate, sometimes birthdays just come and go quietly - unlike Mark who made a noisy entrance last night staggeringly drunk!

On Friday just after school pick up there was a break in the wet weather and the sun popped out, so I quickly took myself out in the garden for an hour to do some more crochet. 
The granny square blanket is growing nicely.
The jigsaw has been finished, photographed, added to my jigsaw page, broken up and put back in the box. It will go in the charity pile now. Once I've done something I rarely go back and do it again. I generally don't re-read books, re-do jigsaws or re-watch films, although I did put Braveheart on yesterday but I was crocheting and getting up and down pottering around while it was on. 
Matthew and Sophie popped round earlier on. They'd taken Sienna to a cake smash photo shoot. I'd never heard of them but apparently they're the in thing at the moment. Basically you put a big cake in front of baby and let them do their thing while photos are taken. It's usually done to celebrate their 1st birthday. Cute but messy and it seems like a waste of a good cake to me! This is a photo off the internet to give you an idea. 

Related image
I've made my own cakes this afternoon. No smashing these though. Every crumb will be eaten. 
Parklife is on at Heaton Park this weekend and we can hear the music even with the doors shut. Amy said they did a roaring trade in wellies yesterday and had sold out by lunchtime. It's all good fun if that's your thing.  

Hope you've had a lovely weekend.