Busy, busy, busy

This week has been crazy busy and I’d promised a little too much for the weekend, so no relaxing.

Work has been bonkers, including a few extra hours. It was back to school this week so early mornings for a grumpy, tired boy. At least he’s getting back into routine.

Also I promised to take him shopping, with his birthday money. Now I’m not a shopper, in fact, I think I’m the only person in the family who finds the thought of wandering around shops boring, especially window shopping. Oscar had dragged me round the shops a few weeks ago to check out things he might like and had written a list. Once his money was in and tallied he narrowed down the important things he wanted. So Saturday morning off we went to shop ’til he dropped. It was a successful visit, he got most of the things from his list, with a few discounts and some money left over. He also learnt the value of money by having to prioritise which items were important to him and deciding to go with a cheaper option to get other things or an expensive item but at the expense of something else. I know that by handing over his own cash means he will look after the items he has chosen.

One other thing I accomplished this weekend was sorting out a phone upgrade for myself and a transfer for Oscar. Although with limited time I decided to do it myself at home, the phone part was easy however re-logging into apps was a nightmare, especially as I had to do it for both of us ! (and one reason this is late being uploaded)

I had a quick couple of visits and harvests this week, and I made a leek and potato soup and filled the freezer with lots of tomatoes and french beans. The pumpkins are starting to turn orange finally. I also took a huge bag of pears into work, much to the delight of my colleagues.

I promised (before the birthday shopping event was planned) we would make a pineapple upside down cake, I tried to put him off whilst I sorted the phones out, but no ! So while the soup was simmering, I put the oven on and got everything out. Oscar weighed, measured, mixed and followed step by step the recipe. It turned out pretty well.

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Another busy week lies ahead, but the next weekend doesn’t have a lot of plans, however the allotment needs a ton of work so weather depending, the weekend will include some hard work.

 

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How did that happen ?

This week I became the proud owner of a teenager ! I’m sure it was only last week I was bringing home a tiny, but very noisy, bundle of joy. I blinked and he became a teenager…

He has been away with his dad for the last couple of weeks so I was looking forward to seeing him but wondering if I was going to get a hormonal, grumpy person back again. However, apart from growing a bunch, he’s still my lovely sweet boy.

For the last few months he’s been saving his money to buy a couple of ‘expensive’ items he wanted. So for his birthday he asked everybody for money to put toward them. And he did pretty well. One thing he didn’t know was that we had organised a holiday to Portugal for him, me and grandma. When I told him we are going to Portugal he assumed it was just the two of us, so I said ‘you have enough money to pay for grandma and still buy your new trainers’ (he doesn’t really) and he went and asked her if she’d like to come with us, which was when we told him she is already coming. Such a sweetie.

When we get home, from our next adventure, we will have a shopping trip where he can spend as much time as he needs, try on all the clothes and shoes he wants and hopefully come home with all the new things and some change (fingers crossed).

I’m leaving my allotment in the capable hands of two fellow plot neighbours, however the weather being as horrible as it has been I’ve asked them to only look after the greenhouse and the weeds can look after themselves !

 

A cheeky weekend away

A few weeks ago we noticed an advert in the newspaper for a weekend break, which included a visit to the RHS flower show at Chatsworth. It was a really good deal, so we phoned up expecting it to be fully booked but no, they had a few spaces remaining. Oscar was all set to be away for the weekend too so it fell perfectly for us.

Early on Saturday morning we arrived at the coach stop to be greeted by a very funny driver and a lovely, comfortable coach. After a couple of stops to collect more people we were  on our way. The weather wasn’t the best, cloudy and drizzly most of the time travelling, however by the time we arrived at our scheduled visit, Stratford-upon-Avon it had stopped and the sun was trying to make an appearance. We had four hours to explore, so first we had a walk around the historic streets.

After our stroll we took a cruise along the River Avon, it was sunny and warm. We were given a map and audio guide to hear more information on the sights along the way.

Then it was back onto the coach for a short trip to the hotel for the evening, Jury’s Inn near Leicester. We were being housed in B wing, we all pointed out it sounded like prison, and judging by the look the staff gave us it wasn’t the first time they had heard this ! The room was not prison like, it was huge, we had a double bed each.

The evening meal was decent, the beds very comfortable and breakfast was lovely. Then back onto the coach for a 9am departure. Stephen, the driver, was excellent and we arrived at Chartsworth house at 10.25, five minutes early.

And then the fun and excitement began…

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We walked round all the stalls, chatting to people and getting ideas for things to make and do.

Then onto the floral marquee to find new favourites and pick up some plants and seeds to bring home. The scent in this tent was amazing, and without being there you can’t really explain it. heady, at times overwhelming, sometimes subtle. The thing that struck me most was being able to pick out the different scents from different flowers. The colours and blooms were stunning, and I took lots of photos of plant labels and have copied them into my allotment book with descriptions of the type, height and spread of each plant.

We had a look around the beekeepers tent and then sat down near the river for a glass of Pimms and listen to the band playing on the field.

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Lastly we wandered around the show gardens, they are a lot smaller than I expected, however it’s good to see what can be achieved in such a small space, as most people don’t have huge gardens and some of the ideas can easily be used on the allotment too.

I had a chat with some vegetable growers and after tasting a couple of things and seeing some interesting plants I came home with only two packets of seeds.

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I’ve already sown a couple of these and am excited to see what happens.

Holidays !

We have just had a lovely two week break on the island of Fuerteventura. It was wonderful to spend a couple of weeks without alarm clocks, school, work and to do as we pleased.

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The weather was warm, around 23 degrees most days, down to 14 in the evenings. The locals walked round in jumpers and coats, whilst we wore swimwear, t-shirts and shorts.

The hotel was in a quieter resort and was a sport hotel, which was fantastic for Oscar as the pool was cold so he still had plenty to keep him entertained. We had tennis, badminton, squash and basketball courts, a football pitch, and table tennis. So plenty to keep him busy and active, whilst I could lie on my lounger reading plenty of books. Perfect.

A five minute walk down a small hill took us onto a prom and a twenty minute walk to the local town (the hotel provided a free shuttle bus), we loved this walk as it was very open stony land, full of chipmunks and tiny lizards. We started taking an apple from breakfast and feeding it to them.

We booked a couple of trips to break up the holiday and see more of our island and took a day trip over to the neighbouring island, Lanzarote. This island was very different, even though it was only a half hour boat trip away. The boat was glass-bottomed and Oscar loved watching the fish swimming around it, until we started sailing when the waves started making him feel a little sea sick so we moved to the upper deck and he was fine. Lanzarote is also a volcanic land, but this one is still active and we had a tour of it and the national park created after the last eruption. It was amazing to feel how hot the floor was, and they have created a cafe and use the heat from it to cook the food, like a giant barbecue. The beaches here where very different, black sand from the volcanic rock and popcorn stones from coral.

We also had a jeep tour of Fuerteventura, it was very bumpy and lots of fun. The guide was hilarious and very knowledgeable.

In the evenings after dinner, Oscar played football until sunset, then he joined me on the bar and we played cards and pool.

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It was lovely to get away, catch up on some reading and sleep, have lots of quality time.

 

Why ?

Why do I blog ?

It started a few years ago during a quiet spell in work, we were talking about our ages and things we wish we’d done by ‘now’ and it led to the 50 things list.

One of the things on the list was to start a blog, the original idea was that I would write about the challenges and the fun we had along the way, what I never expected was that life would throw some very difficult challenges my way, and that blogging would be one of the hardest things to do.

When I first started out it was easy, lots to write about, lots of ideas, but then life closed in and writing about it was really tough, so I found myself not doing it. However now, I’m in a better place, emotionally, and am enjoying setting myself time and routine to write about ‘me’ again.

Unfortunately the list was put on hold the last year or so, whilst I was looking for regular employment and concentrating on a stable family, and emotional life. Time is passing quite quickly so with only a few years left before the big 50 hits it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the remaining ‘to do’ and have started making plans for some eventful experiences this year, although looking at the list I’m pretty certain some of these will never be done, so do I change the list, or leave them blank and unfinished ? and if I change them, what would I change them to ? Some of the challenges are very singular and I’d like, if possible, to make them a little more family based.

What do you think ? To change or stick ? Do I write a new list based on current circumstances, or wait until after the big birthday and start a new list ? Too many decisions… please help !

 

A day at the opera

I’ve always loved the ballet, the music, dance, grace and beauty but recently I’ve been seeing adverts and posters for opera performances, so for my birthday last year I was given tickets to see a filmed, live performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly from Glyndebourne.

We arrived at the beautiful Liverpool Philharmonic, and was greeted with a cold glass of Prosecco and  shown to our seats. The performance began, and from the opening of the first act to the interval everyone was mesmerised.

The costumes, stage settings, music and singing were beautiful. It was simply stunning. The performers were perfectly cast, Lieutenant Pinkerton had a very American soldier look, the marriage broker was very slimey, Cio-Cio San, the Geisha (Butterfly) had so much emotion, it was wonderful. Although I’ve never seen either this or Miss Saigon before I was aware of the story, and whilst it was sung in traditional Italian we did have the benefit of English subtitles.

During the interval we had a choice of a staying and having the full Glyndebourne experience with an indoor picnic or could venture out. We chose to pop across the road to an Italian restaurant and had an Italian Antipasto and Arrabbiata prawns with flat bread. It was delicious.

Then back for Acts 2 and 3, again the acting, singing and emotion was breathtaking. The lady next to me didn’t know the story and was very grateful when I handed her a tissue near the end. The experience was something I am looking forward to repeating, and will try at some point this year to see a live performance.

I would say, for anyone unsure about ballet, opera or even classic theatre the live screenings are a great introduction, especially for children. You get a look backstage, some insight into the production, cast, characters and story line.