Saturday, 29 September 2012

School on the Norfolk Broads

There are a few advantages to living where we do, on the Norfolk Broads. It's a lovely part of the world, quiet and peaceful all winter and a little busier during the summer season when lots of people from the UK or abroad holiday on cruisers.

We get the odd group of teenagers asking how to get to the "nightlife" and they're usually directed towards Norwich (probably take them the best part of a week to get there by boat but they're not to know that!) and stag and hen parties wearing the obligatory pirate outfits and captain hats!

We don't use the river very much or the broads, we may occasionally feed the ducks or find a quiet spot to sit in the sun but there has been one activity which has proved a great hit with Little Miss - after school sailing club. There can't be many schools (in the state sector) offering after school sailing.

 She attends the local village primary school, very tiny with only around 50 pupils. When number 1 son started there he was one of only 26 pupils! They were offered three sailing lessons by the village sailing club at a cost of £10, too good to miss we thought. The sessions were 2 hours long and they walked there from school.

Attempting a dry capsize

Climb over the side - she needed longer legs!


Stand on the centre board
and tumble back into the boat!
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, most of them got very wet doing the "dry capsize". But the rain stayed away for all 3 of the sessions and I'm thinking it won't be the last time she's in a sailing boat! I'm sure ordinary lessons won't be £10 for 6 hours!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A litle project

I don't often do crafty things so this will be a rare post from me
but I'm pleased with the results so thought I'd share them.
That and the fact that cricket matches have ended and we spent most of the weekend
at home DIY ing so there's not much else to tell!
We've had this little Lloyd Loom cabinet for a couple of years and I've been building up
 to giving it a makeover.

I didn't use anything special, I'm sure a spray gun would have been better but I used white undercoat put on with a thick brush and then an eggshell finish in antique white. I added a small faceted crystal knob as the original was missing. I like the plain & neutral look of it for the moment, most of the house is being repainted off-white after years of a riot of colour. (the previous bedroom was tangerine!)

I'm not certain where it will end up but I thought it may be useful next to the bath in our en-suite. Picture tall glass of wine and a good book.....

I really ought to "style" my photos better!
You can just make out the corner of my beloved claw footed bath on the picture. I have wanted one forever and when we originally renovated our dilapidated house my husband refused as he didn't want a cast iron bath; he thought it would be too cold! Bear in mind we were living in a caravan in the garden at the time and heat was something we were very short of!

Anyway we originally had an en-suite but around 8 years ago it was lost due to a bedroom being added to the back of the house. But as we already had planning permission for the extension on the side it was certain we'd eventually gain a new bedroom for ourselves with an en-suite. Over the years I had managed to pursuede the builder that a cast iron claw foot bath was really the only thing I ever wanted (stupidly he believed me!). Anyway a bath in good condition came up in London (just over 2 hours drive away) on ebay and I won it, can't remember what the price was in the end but not too expensive (if you don't count the day off work for 2 men and all the diesel there and back!). I loved it when it arrived although it was navy blue and gold, however the building work wasn't quite finished so we stood it in the garage where I'd go to admire it once in a while.

And as you may expect, there it stood for over 5 years, that's how quickly the extension got finished! It is now in situ, as is the basin and loo and looks gorgeous in it's new duck egg blue and on the stripped wood floor.

Just be careful if you pop round though please don't turn a tap on or use the loo, they've not been plumbed in yet!! Well you can't rush these things.....

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Trials and tribulations

I thought I may be short of things to write about now that the cricket has ended, well the season has ended but the cricket goes on...and on...and on!

This week has seen the start of the County Trials for both my boys. I find this harder than they do! They could have had a wonderful season, played superbly and then their selection for the County squad is based on a few sessions in the indoor nets. No outdoor fielding, no fitness tests, just batting and bowling in a school sports hall.

Number 2 son has played for the county for four years now and his elder brother has trialled every year before and after his brothers selection and has not yet been successful. I find it very difficult and am amazed that he wants to carry on with the trials. It is very definitely his descision and not ours, he does so want to be in the squad.

There was one particularly difficult year which I'll never forget.

The two age groups handled the selection process very differently and number 1 son's trials had ended and we were to be informed by letter of the outcome. Number 2 son's coaches decided to choose the squad and tell the boys face to face on the day of their final session. You can guess what happened, unfortunately I didn't forsee it. Number 1 son arrived home from school to find a letter waiting, he had done particularly well that year but was up against some very good cricketers. He opened the letter to find he'd been unsuccessful, and then within an hour we had to be at number 2 son's trial where he was told he'd been selected.

We didn't know whether to celebrate or comiserate. To give him his due number 1 son was and always has been very proud and supportive of his younger brother, but it was so hard. I think I shed a few tears at the time.

And every year we go through it again. Number 1 son unsuccessful and number 2 selected. Number 1 son is a talented sportsman but doesn't have that self belief or the drive and motivation. Number 2 has drive and motivation by the bucket load!

So the trials started this week, I'm not sure when they'll end as there are stages and if you get put through to all of them it could end as late as March 2013! Oh dear I'll be a nervous wreck by then!

I'll keep everything crossed but I do expect the same outcome as in previous years I'm afraid.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Perfect Cricket Tea

We are fast approaching the end of our cricket season, one weekend to go and then maybe a few odd matches to catch up after the very wet start to the season. Practice finished this week, they played until it was pitch dark and that's when you notice that summer has ended!

 Both boys do winter indoor practice every week and the County trials will start later this month so there's not really any respite! Our weekends, however will be a lot more relaxed as only number 2 son plays rugby and he only does that on occasional Saturdays for the school.

Maybe the renovation work on the house will pick up pace again, or am I hoping in vain? Things have been going very slowly through the summer, the laundry room is still a bare shell, plastered and with a new clay pamment floor but my tumble drier and sink are still lining the hallway. The washing machine bounces around in the middle of the room when on full spin and is waiting to be relocated. The extension we built 7 years ago remains unfinished but the end, I think, is in sight. I'm hopeful that we'll have usable rooms by Christmas - this is the drawback of being married to the builder (although he is cheap!)

Another delay is due to the arrival of a new toy - I stupidly opened an email from a fellow cricketer which offered a table tennis table free to a good home. I had obviously lost my mind when I read said email out loud to the rest of the family! Oh yes we really need one/always wanted one/definitely have space for one etc etc. So it arrived, was assembled in the garden and now tournaments take up all their "spare" time -  even the South African who lives in our garage has been forced to play! The cricketer in the garage only moved in a few weeks ago, I managed to put it off for most of the season and he leaves this week so it wasn't so bad - what else would we use the garage for? A car? Now that would be ridiculous!

But I digress. The last weekend was a full crickety one, Saturday was the usual match for the boys and I went shopping (ie out for coffee & cake) with Little Miss. But Sunday saw us attend a school match with number 2 son, luckily held locally for us. They won magnificently and the club provided bacon rolls cooked on the barbecue - so I was glad I went!

Straight from there we went to the second match of the day, sadly missing the round England cycle race which went right past our house. This was a special memorial match and is played in a very friendly atmosphere at the end of every season. Players on both sides look forward to seeing each other and having a fun, family day as well as enjoying a "proper" cricket tea.

Now a proper cricket tea can be a wonderful sight, and I've partaken of (and made) many. A huge teapot is a definite requirement, a la Alice in Wonderland!

And a selection of sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, fairy cakes, and of course the obligatory victoria sponge cake. Some tea ladies produce home made quiches, sausage rolls, fresh cream cakes and send the teams out for the second innings weighed down with homemade goodies. Sunday's tea was particularly good

Sorry it was difficult to take many photos of the food without everyone thinking I'd gone mad
 (or madder!!)

It was a lovely day, in glorious sunshine and everyone got a chance to play....

....even if the shoes aren't quite the right attire!

Little Miss being directed into her fielding position by her brother

It was lovely to see all the families (plus dogs) having fun in the sun


And all this was followed by a barbecue until sunset.
I have experienced, and eaten my way through several hundred cricket tea's over the years some fabulous ones made voluntarily by elderly village ladies and some dreadful ones; but I have to say the very best one ever was provided by some eccentric friends who created a cricket pitch in a field and invited us all for a match. I sat on a rickety bench next to a lady (yes and actual Lady as in her ladyship!) in the middle of the field. We'd been told all refreshments would be provided and I at least was not disappointed. At tea time it arrived, on the table in the marquee, a french stick, two tomatoes, and several crates of very good wine!! As far as I'm concerned the perfect way to "enjoy" the match - of course I remember very little about it!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The end of the holidays

So the end of the summer holidays has arrived, I feel like I've only just got into the swing of things! The first few weeks were taken up by cricket, which meant the whole family had to travel many miles to play or support. The final weeks have slowed down a bit and we've managed a few days out, as well as lucky number 2 son managing a week in Spain! He arrived home in the early hours of this morning, we have all missed him loads. He's texted us and we've spoken to him on the 'phone several times but it's good to have him back, 7 days can seem like a long time.

The house has however, been much quieter without him. Sometimes that's been a good thing. He can be a bundle of trouble sometimes - is it a middle child thing. What if we had 4 children? Would we have 2 middle children? Or none?!

Number 1 son son started sixth form college today; late yesterday afternoon he thought he might start to gather some things together for the morning! Maybe a little late to give it any thought?! He's travelling on the bus with a girl down the road, a friend since nursery who is going to the same college. As he says, it will save him having to remember where the college is in relation to the bus stop!!

Little Miss will go back to school tomorrow and at about 4pm today we managed to get new school shoes  - that's the only bit of uniform we're missing..... and I wonder why number 1 son leaves everything to the last minute!

On Sunday we took another trip to London. We don't go that often but the builder and had been offered 2 tickets to the cricket at Lords, England vs South Africa (I think!). As they had never seen a match at Lords and as there were only 2 of them he was keen to take them. We decided to use the Olympic park and ride buses again as they seemed quick and economical - obviously designed for the Olympics though and we had a bit of trouble getting on and off the bus as all the volunteers kept trying to guide us into Olympic Park and were a bit baffled as to why we were heading in the opposite direction!

Little Miss and I hopped on a tube and pointed the boys in the direction of Lords; we decided to see some sights - mainly based around some good coffee shops and places that are free to view!

We enjoyed looking for the Olympic mascot statues dotted around
The Abbey wasn't open for us to look around as Sunday is for worship only.
We enjoyed looking at some of the more refined Olympic statues

We also did a mini Thames river cruise, just half an hour from the Eye to The Tower of London
and only £9 for the 2 of us.
 Before getting on the boat we stopped for coffee and a Slush drink for Little Miss. I had a large cookie with my coffee, I asked if there were any nuts in it and was told no it was white choc chip (my favourite). I'm not allergic to nuts I just can't stand them. Anyone 1 bite told me it was full of hazel nuts so I took it back to the counter - customer service was sadly lacking; I was told nothing they stocked was free of nuts! Not even the cheese sandwich? No apparently. But the assistant did offer to change it for a gluten free brownie?? Any logic in that??
The river cruise was great though and a lovely calm way of seeing a few famous sights.
St Paul's Cathedral on the skyline

Tower Bridge
The Shard


Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Tower of London
We had a lovely day out and even popped in to Fortnum & Mason before hopping on the tube and sampled the free fudge on the counter!

And we happened upon a street circus in Piccadilly Circus, we sauntered by a saw a few acts performing in sectioned off parts of the street. All for free too - you may have noticed I like a freebie!

So then we headed home to get prepared for a new chapter in their school lives, all four of us tired and at least 2 of us with very sore feet!