Thursday, 31 July 2014

Liebster Blog Award


Hi!
I hope you're all enjoying the Summer? Thank you far all the comments and kind words after my down in the dumps posts recently - Gran continues to be the same, but I've managed to see and speak to her a few times.
 I disappeared for a while there but I'm back. Lots of things have got in the way of blogging but I failed to photograph most of them and if I just write about what's been happening
 it may turn into a very loooong post!
 
 
Anyway a little while ago Christina from A Colourful Life passed the Liebster Blog Award to me, thank you very much Christina, I'll do my best!
The Liebster Blog Award is a blogger- to- blogger nomination which promotes blogs with less than 200 followers. I know some people prefer to be award/list free, but I'm really happy to receive it.
It's also reminded me that I was passed The Sunshine Award by Tammy (who's blog link seems to be broken just now) a while back and although I produced the required post I didn't attach the award to my sidebar - I'll put that on my to-do list.
 
This task is as follows -
1) Write 11 random facts about myself
2) Answer Christina's 11 questions
3) Nominate 11 bloggers and ask them 11 questions
 
Gosh number 3 just ain't going to happen, Please take the baton if you feel you have time and would like to, I'd love to read your lists. I'll complete the task in bits , starting with my 11 random facts - this part seems easy!
 
Here goes..... (I did a random 10 list a while back so I'll apologise now if I'm repeating myself!)
 
1) I love live music, although don't go to as many concerts as I'd like. From one a couple of years ago I sent a text to Number 1 son saying "Mum's in the mosh pit" to which a fast reply came "how can that even be possible?"
 
2) I've always had long nails, even in school. I hated having them cut and they're as strong as, well, nails!
 
4) I wanted to be a make up artist for TV in London, but before I got the chance I met my husband and the rest is history.
 
5) I have a huge phobia of losing touch with people. I would write to someone I'd only sat next to on the bus if I could.
 
6) I love to swim, the only sport I'm really willing to do!
 
7) I absolutely do not understand the rules of cricket, despite sitting on the boundary for approximately 35 years! It doesn't help my addled brain that the rules are slightly different in every age group; and I have people IN every age group!
 
8) I'm a bit strange when it comes to hanging out my washing. I will not hang any underwear on the linen line, and socks can only hang if they're in pairs and all facing the same way. I once left my best friend alone in my house while I popped out for 10 minutes and returned to find she'd hung all my bras on the line!
 
9) I think I could easily live in a health spa!
 
10) Where I actually want to live is in a house not far from the beach, in more sunny climes.
 
11) My love of reading comes, I think, from an inspirational and very dramatic English teacher at High School; similarly my hatred of Maths comes from a very useless teacher at High School.
 
Not the most interesting of lists I'm afraid, I'll do the next part where I answer
Christina's questions as soon as I can.
 
We're in Lincolnshire tomorrow as Number 1 son has his debut in the Under 19's County Squad.
I have never been more terrified in my life!!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Life is a roller coaster, apparently!

It's been a funny week in this house, so many ups and downs that I'm starting to feel a little queasy; and I want to get off, please.

The two boys have both finished school for the summer break and are spending their days sleeping, when they're not playing or practising cricket. Little Miss is due to leave primary school on Wednesday but is a little under the weather and home with me today. High temperature and a sore throat, I think this is the first time this year she's been off poorly. I hope she doesn't have to miss the leavers assembly tomorrow and the disco on Wednesday, although after loving our village primary school and helping and volunteering to fund raise there over the past 17 years we have had to make a complaint about them in the last couple of weeks. I NEVER complain about school, I'm very laid back and tend to tell the kids to rise above issues and get over it. Maybe I've been too laid back in the past but once I get a bee in my bonnet (yes the wasps nest is still outside my bedroom door if you were wondering) I don't let it go. I have telephoned, written and emailed the head teacher and failed to get any response, so now I'm really cross! Only two more days to go, so I should try to keep calm!

Number 2 son, who captained his club Under 15's cricket team to a win in the Norfolk ECB cup (I think that was it's title, I pay very little attention!) took them to the next round and won again. They now have to go to a National finals day in Warwickshire next Monday. So that was a huge achievement and we all get a day out on a coach!! (that reminds me of coach trips to the seaside when I was a child with my two elderly Grandparents!)
Number 2, mid-bowl
But then I made yet another balls up at work and have spent the week worrying about the consequences! I was given a new job to do many months ago and have not really had any training so I keep making mistakes, and when I get things right I worry that they are actually wrong but no one is there to help. I'm not good at this anymore and actually want to leave and lock myself in the kitchen at home baking cakes!

But we did have the cricket club boat trip and that was a bit of fun on a very warm evening. The whole family went but, much to their embarrassment, I decided to drink a whole bottle of wine and giggle a lot. The stress of the week finally got to me, and I don't normally drink at all!


 Some of the lovely riverside houses, you can see what they're watching on TV from the boat!

Some of the photos got decidedly wobbly after this!

On the river we passed St. Benet's Abbey, a very picturesque spot with lots of history attached.




Although not much remains this was apparently the only Abbey not closed down by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries 



The history of the Abbey goes back much further than that and attracts many visitors. 
You get a very good view from the river and there were walkers around it that evening too.
 The wildlife is suburb around these fields too.

But then my Dad arrived for a brief visit from Wales, my Gran, his Mum, who you may remember from previous posts has now become quite frail, over the past 12 months. She left her home in Devon and moved into a care home in Suffolk, to be nearer to family as none of us lived anywhere near her in Devon.
Since she's been in the home and had no responsibility and no work to do, she seems to have gone down hill, I guess it's not surprising she is, after all, 94. But it is surprising to those who know her, and upsetting.
Anyway she had been taken into hospital with one or two issues, which in itself confused her enormously. Dad arrived to stay with us and visit her daily, although being in Ipswich hospital she was a good hour and a half from us. He visited her 4 days on the trot and I went with him twice, 
each day the hospital advised she would be discharged and each day they changed their minds! 

On Saturday we visited and she seemed so much better, she even made a speech to thank everyone for their help and support! We waved her off in the ambulance as she was discharged and being taken back to the care home, we watched her leave as she waved and blew kisses to us.
 After a two hour journey where we got stuck some way behind an accident, we were 20 minutes from home when we received a call to say the ambulance had turned around and taken her
 back to hospital as she wasn't well again, with what we do not know!
So poor Gran is back in hospital until maybe later today or tomorrow, or maybe longer I suppose.
I'll try to visit again this week, either the hospital or the home, but I wish she was her old fun loving self again.

taken in 2005
So it's been an uppy downy kind of week or so. 
And I'm a bit tired. 
If you need me I'll be under the kitchen table rocking backwards and forwards!!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

It's all growing over here!

I'll try to do a garden update as I'm quite please with the vegetable growing, however the weeds are growing faster than I can pull them out so parts of the garden are disappointing right now.

The few things I planted in the old bath tub haven't done so well. I usually fill this up with salad leaves but this year tried some beetroot and parsnips; they don't seem to like growing in a tub though.

 
The lettuce isn't as good as in previous years either, maybe it's the soil I used?
The tomatoes have been doing fine although they are so big now I don't think the grow bag is big enough to contain them, looks like lots of little fruits appearing though so fingers crossed
they'll survive long enough to go red.
The strawberries appear to be loving their grow bag and are covered in lush green leaves,
sadly not one single fruit though!
 
Anyway the little plot I dug for myself is doing rather better.
I had also planted some of the beetroot in here and it's grown fabulously, really huge. So with that in mind I dug another foot of garden and transplanted some of the beetroot and parsnips from the old bath tub and put them into the plot - they seem to like the move.
 
So somewhere behind the re-growing bonfire which is certainly an eyesore....

 you find some goodies!



 
The weeny carrots have been perfect for eating raw in packed lunches, and they were very tasty!
The beetroot I roasted with olive oil and sea salt, my favourite! However The Builder tells me he prefers it pickled so that's my next job, hope they don't all complain about the stinky house!
I will enjoy more roasted beetroot myself and will next time make a mental note to try not to rush off to A & E the following day after a look into the toilet! I am prone to diagnosing myself with deadly diseases and was almost on the phone to the NHS helpline before it dawned on me what beetroot can do to a body overnight!
 
The fruit trees have been enjoying the rain, we have a great harvest this year, something we haven't had for the past few summers.
plums


apricots - the first lot after a massive harvest 5 years ago
conference pears



Bramley Apples

 
But also the lawn, or should I say patch of clover and weeds! There has been no time to cut the grass for weeks, every spare moment and spare person has been needed to help The Builder - Number 1 son tried his hand at most things; I say hand - only one hand was available at anytime as the other was gripping his mobile phone. No doubt tweeting his hard work!
An un-mown meadow!
I'm moving the guinea pig run everyday in the hope that they can eat enough grass to save us mowing it - maybe I'm confusing them with a goat?
 
And talking of growing, Little Miss complained some time ago that I always have a "boys haircut", she can't remember me with long hair.
 
I have difficult to manage hair, a tendency to frizz in hot sticky weather (and see previous post for the details of this tropical weather hovering around me) It is dyed so that doesn't help the condition so short is best for me.
 
It's had many incarnations over the years

Ears not suitable for short hair!

 





 
 
But on her insistence I'm trying to grow it, into what I do not know.

Some styles were ok, some erm...not so good!

Why, when I have frizzy hair, did I think a perm and red dye was suitable for a very hot holiday?
The only consistent thing in my almost 49 years is that I struggle to make it do what I want it to - short is still the easiest I think.
 Husband suggested this morning it looked like a mop!

Is it really that bad?

Gosh I've just realised that after hardly ever posting a photo of myself I've just given you hundreds to peruse... I hope you're suitable amused!

Monday, 7 July 2014

When it all gets too much!

Both the Builder and I have been a bit worn out lately, him working very hard to get a project finished to enable the payment to be released and me just generally dashing about.
I've been trying to attend everything at school, usually late for most things but I'm trying!
I'm also trying to work a few extra hours, not because I want to but because they pay me - actually what I want to do all day is stay at home and decorate, clean and garden (generally faff about as The Builder would say) - I'm a bit boring that way!

The builder has not been sleeping well partly to do with his "ladies hips" (see earlier post) and partly to do with the worry over his work. I'm not sleeping too well either, and that's due to these incredibly hot, sticky, tropical nights we're having in the East of England, sweltering aren't they?
What did you say? They're not hot?
Is it just this house then?
It can't just be me surely, as I approach 50....??

Anyway the cricket schedule has been going at full pelt and it's hard to keep up, it should slow down slightly now as the school matches have finished. But as Number 2 son's team have won the County Cup and now go through to the Regional rounds I see more cricket and travelling ahead.

The inclement weather hasn't helped, matches are on, then off, then on again, then off again, then re-scheduled for another day! The wet ground is great for cricket kit, you know they play in white? Who's idea was that? Boys; dressed in white; running around on a muddy waterlogged field; skidding on their knees to catch a ball. This is what you get....
(You get muddy whites, not a wonky photo!) imagine this times 4, 3-4 days a week!
Most Mondays my washing line looks like this, I think I've used this photo before, it's not recent and I can't for the life of me think why I'd have a photo of my washing line saved on the computer 
if it wasn't for the blog!
Excuse the sorry state of the garden and the fence, I'd like to say it's being replaced soon, it's on the list but,
well, you know the story!
Well we try to keep up with life but sometimes, when there's an evening with no cricket (was there such an evening? Really?), and we sit in front of the TV for 5 minutes. We mean to have a chat, maybe a glass of something, once the kids are in bed or at least in their rooms. But more often than not it doesn't work out like that. One evening last week I woke up on the sofa, at 10pm, (I may or may not have been dribbling a little!). The Builder was snoring away on the other sofa and on my lap was a note....

Bless her little cotton socks!

Poor kids having such old, infirm parents (one of whom is hot, very, very hot!)!

Jay
xx

Friday, 4 July 2014

Visitors, Travellers and Jam

The latest news on the unwelcome visitors is that, well, they're still lingering unfortunately! The stingy, buzzy variety are sealed in the loft (and very possibly sealed into their nest) by a Heath Robinson cure, as usual. It may only be a temporary fix but when we have more time and money (when??) they will be dealt with more adequately, if in fact they're still alive.

As for the furry visitors outside, they're a little more tricky to deal with it seems; they're enjoying their stay with us far too much. They seem to like me in particular, that's the impression they give when they stare at me directly in the eyes for several minutes before slowly wandering off! We have a bait box and poison in position and I'm no longer feeding the birds. However there is a lot of seed on the ground mixed in with the soil and ivy so there's still a feast for them. They're cheeky little bu**ers though, I went to check the poison a couple of days ago only to find one sitting on top of it nibbling seed, and another leapt from the brick wall and just missed my head (well it felt like it just missed me, was probably a few feet away!) where it had climbed to check the bird feeder! There is now food and poison in every little nook and cranny, hopefully out of reach of the birds and neighbouring cat.

On a brighter note Number 1 son eventually (3 days after he left) contacted us from Corfu and is having a great time, he seems to go between having a great time and feeling a little ill - we don't know why!!
He's due home later today and we're looking forward to seeing him enormously.
The Builder is worried he won't be fit for tomorrow's match, can't say it's bothering me too much.

Number 2 son technically finishes school for his Summer break today, I say technically as he has a weeks work experience next week. Due to his extreme shyness (outside of the home) and his extreme bolshiness (inside of the home) he was refusing to go for work experience for a while. He hates things changing to an extreme but we eventually settled on him spending the week at his old primary school up the road.
 Familiar surroundings and some of the staff are the same, and it's an environment he feels safe and happy in - not that he's ever wanted to actually work as a teacher. He'll work 4 days there as on the 5th he has a county cricket match and that takes precedence; apparently. His sister is non too pleased at the possibility of him helping out in her class, or bossing her about as she puts it.

Today was Little Miss's school sports day, the last one I'll ever attend most probably. I started attending sports day when Number 1 son was a toddler, I don't think I've ever missed one either - that's a lot of time spent avoiding the Mother's race! You don't get to watch at the high school sports day, well so my children tell me. So another "end of an era" has dawned; there are a few more to come in the next couple of weeks before my baby leaves and has to don a high school blazer (if they make one small enough - she's a little tiddler).

I am still building up to a garden update, I promise to do it soon, I've taken photos but not got myself and the pictures organised. It's not worthy of a big build up I'm afraid, the weeds are growing too fast and I can't keep up with the watering. It's a busy time of year (gardening aside) and some of the jobs I started show no signs of ever being finished. I did however manage to pick my blackcurrants,
the birds made off with all the cherries and redcurrants....again!
One year I'll beat the birds to them!


I love jam and chutney making, we have cupboards full of the stuff, no one really eats it!

So the cricketers tomorrow will have a treat for tea, a cream tea with home grown and home made blackcurrant jam - hope they appreciate it!

We're having a lot of sunshine here in this part of the UK, and I'm certainly enjoying it. I hope we have a sunny weekend, there's cricket and ballet for us over the weekend, but only Little Miss has school on Monday the other 2 have finished for the Summer break, sadly I still have to go to work!

Enjoy the weekend whatever you do and wherever you are.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A ps to the last post, and other news

Would you believe that only 20 minutes after I pressed publish on the last post about our visitors we discovered this.......

 
It's hard to see I know, the little blighters were fast! But it appears we have a wasps nest in the attic, an inaccessible part of the attic too! They had nibbled a tiny hole through the plasterboard which, after we poked it to see what the noise was, became a larger hole. Right outside our bedroom door!
The Builder has filled the hole so we are safe, for the moment.
We now have to decide what to do next.
Pest control will be needed, for this and our other furry friends, but we'll probably have to take the ceiling down, and, given past experiences it's unlikely to be put back up very quickly - especially as it's the cricket season!
 
Also with the birds coming down the chimney, lots of people suggested a cowl on the top. Obviously we need to do this but it's so strange that after living here for 20 years it's only last summer and this one that we've had any problems - very odd!
 
In other news we had a birthday boy a week ago; Number 2 son turned 15. The birthday was on a Saturday so it was cricket for all. Sadly all 3 men were playing in different parts of the county so we didn't all get together until 9pm. Such a shame and I feel that he has so much less fuss made of him than the other two, but I do know that the only thing he wants to do, 7 days a week if possible, is play cricket. For gifts we struggled as he has everything he wants/needs (cricket kit) so he got his second  two favourite things in life (which we always live to regret)
 flavours for his Soda Stream (unlimited fizzy)
and a bucket of sweets (unlimited sugar)
 
I wrote a post about Number 2 Son a while back, a post I often look up and read again.
He can be a difficult little chap (no longer little though). And he has me raging, crying, shouting and every reaction in between on many an occasion so he doesn't make for an easy life. However he is apparently a little darling with everyone outside of the home so it's not all bad. He's away this weekend on a school mini cricket tour to Bath and Reading (quite a journey from here), he packed his own bag as he's not speaking to either myself or The Builder - we're not really sure why. He'll no doubt be on tour without a toothbrush, shoes or pants!
 
 
And Number 1 son had his Sixth Form leaving dinner on Thursday evening after which he was going straight to Gatwick airport with friends for a week in Kavos (yes I know, I know!) 
He organised most of the things he needed about an hour before he left and until I enquired about what he was taking, he'd packed 1 pair of shorts and 1 pair of swimming trunks -
"will I need more than that" he said!
He'd also booked the transfer taxi from airport to hotel and back again on the wrong dates
- and on a different coach than his friends!
We're assuming he's got there safely as the last we heard was a text saying "now on the way to Gatwick" I'm keeping everything crossed, he's probably lost his 'phone!
 
 
The only photo I have of him all spruced up in a new suit, he was about 4 inches shorter at the last prom 2 years ago! I got him to stand in many places but we just don't have a nice backdrop anywhere, so the overgrown garden it was.
 
Talking of the garden, I will do an update soon, it's looking very green!
 
I must go now, I've spent 2 days baking and making today's cricket tea; they've just called the match off due to a waterlogged pitch! If I start eating now I should have got through the cakes by bedtime! On the plus side, both boys are away and The Builder's match is off, a day out maybe?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Visitors, some welcome, some not so much!

We've had a few visitors in the last week or so, all of them have taken me by surprise,
not always in a good way!
 
We've had so many birds fall down the sitting room chimney it's like they're (or rather their poo is) part of the furniture! Pretty much every other day I come downstairs to either a baby starling flapping round the room or fluttering away inside the woodburner. And may I say what a mess they make flapping into the walls and windows with their sooty wings!
Every morning I now check the room for new arrivals and chase them to an open window before I even put the kettle on!
 
And this morning, as I made my way down listening out for a flippety flap sound I spotted a pair of shoes by the front door which I didn't recognise, presumably not from a bird (feathered or otherwise!!). I looked around and found an unexpected teenager asleep on a very small sofa, sort of scrunched up ball like! It seems Number 1 son had arrived home in the early hours with a friend in tow. Now in our sitting room we have two large 3-4 seater sofas, we also have a large pouffe which turns into a single bed and Number 1 son has 2 beds in his bedroom. So where did the extra teenager sleep? On the tiny sofa, barely bigger than an armchair in the tiny room with the (still) broken window! When I asked why, apparently number 1 son couldn't think of anywhere else for him to sleep!! Is this the boy who hopes to go to University in the Autumn? Worse than that is this the boy who hopes to make it to Kavos all in one piece later tonight (and home again a week later we hope). Where did he leave his brain? answers on a postcard......
 
But our final visitors have got me a little worried! We have a little courtyard round the back of our house which backs onto a brick outhouse belonging to the neighbours. This is where I feed the birds regularly, well I put seed out for the whole of April, May and June then generally forget until the next April, but I try. We get a lovely selection of pretty birds which I can watch from Little Miss's window or the conservatory.
 
This is the view from Little Miss's room, not very tidy but I quite like it, makes me think of a walled garden, the wall isn't actually ours, the weeds however, are.

 








 But a couple of nights ago as I was pulling the blind, Little Miss and I noticed what we at first thought was a family of squirrels eating the seed and nuts which had spilled onto the floor. Hugely fat, furry and , at first glimpse, cuddly! But on closer inspection, not quite so cuddly!





 Great big, fat rats, several of them.


Are you, like me of the generation who went to bed reading The Rats by James Herbert? I'm just a tad scared! I do find them fascinating and sat watching them for ages, I think there's a whole family living in the brick outhouse, and they didn't seem too scared of me either.
Not really sure what to do, I guess I stop putting bird food out for a start, I don't like the idea of poison. Someone suggested shooting them but as we don't have a gun it's not so easy, I've got a water pistol but that may not have the same effect!
 
Sorry to leave you with those lovely pictures to think about!
 
Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous post, we'll probably stay in a Travelodge in London but any other suggestions are still welcome, I won't be booking until payday!!
 
Apparently I have to do this to claim my blog?? Don't really understand but I'm doing what I'm told.

See you soon
Jay
x