Thursday, 29 August 2013

Happy Birthday to me!....and what was your worst ever present?

Well yesterday was my birthday and as anyone who knows me will tell you
they never run very smoothly!
I've had a few corkers in the past, sometimes the day is celebrated and sometimes it passes in a blur of other family business (i.e. cricket business). Sadly my birthday lands at the most crucial time of the cricket season, when grudge matches are often played and when next years league positions can be decided.

I have had days when my birthday has clashed with a cricket match and therefore is largely forgotten.
There was the year in my early 20's when I turned up at the end of a match in the hope that we would at least be going out for a meal; and we did, in a way! The match had been crucial to that years league status apparently so there was a lengthy de-brief. It went on and on and on. Eventually we left for our meal about 10.30pm, and took 1 team member with us - there was a little more match play to discuss!

Another year the match was rained off halfway through, so I anticipated an evening out....however husband arrived home early, but with the entire team in tow!
I've had presents delivered to me in bed and then husband and 2 sons have had to leave for an early match before I finished opening them!

I have had a wonderfully diverse array of presents in the past, these range from opal earrings, 4 door handles, a diamond ring, a selection of things from late night Tesco (magazine, chocolate & flowers) and best of all a clipping from a newspaper advertising a trip to London with luxury hotel and West End show included, wonderful you're thinking.
But there was no trip, just the clipping, husband thought I could book it up if I fancied it!
I didn't bother!

Anyone who knows me can accurately choose a gift, I'm not difficult.
I like chocolates and flowers - flowers are always a winner.
I like meals out - which can range from a bacon butty at the local greasy spoon
 (one particularly hard-up birthday),  a cream tea in a little tea room to any sort of restaurant.

I would love, if finances permit, a night away in a hotel. I love any kind of relaxing beauty treatments from a foot rub to a full blown spa experience.
I like to relax, I like to read and I generally like to lay around.
Life is hectic and we always put ourselves under pressure to do more, enlarge the business, save more. We rarely sit back and enjoy life - and I like to sit down, or better still lay down!
In my younger days I have done the occasional scary daredevil activity from white water rafting (I will do almost anything if I'm in water) to swinging on a Tarzan rope across a river and then jumping in. I have enjoyed many a roller coaster although now even the little ones make me feel queasy! But I am far from an adrenaline junkie, very far from it!

As my birthday approaches I get nervous and worried, no one asks what I 'd like, they prefer to surprise me - and boy was I surprised this year - and not in a good way!

It started a little strangely with a card from number 1 son -
That final word is best said in a strong Norfolk accent!
It's a fairly accurate description of me if not  an accurate picture!
 I had a lovely card from number 2 son which he'd ordered online to include a photo of himself and the words "little monster".
Little Miss had made her own card which was gorgeous.
I had a packet of Thornton's fudge from number 1 son, as much of a surprise to him as it was to me - he'd clearly not seen it before I'd opened it!
And some of my favourite hand cream from Little Miss and Number 2 son.
 There were also flowers, a gorgeous bunch of sweet smelling Lilies.
and then the final "big" present, eager looks all around as I opened the envelope.....
Whatever possessed them? I have never had a desire (nor ever will have) to parachute anywhere, attached to anyone! All I could mutter was "Why?"
I am completely flabbergasted, there  are two things I've always said I would never do and they are bungee jump and parachute jump! What were they thinking?
My friend did one a year or so ago and assured me that the tandem partner was great, she had a tiny crush on "strap on Steve" - I believe that was his name!
The only answer I got from The Builder when I asked why was that he thinks I should challenge myself from time to time!
I looked around at their faces and without any hesitation I think I would consider myself challenged enough already!
So tell me, what was your worst/most memorable gift? Please tell me I'm not alone!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Festival Fun!

Number 1 son is away this weekend at Reading Festival, the first time he's been away with friends apart from organised school/college trips. He's a sensible boy although slightly empty-headed at times - for example the college trip he went on to Brussels a short while ago which I described here.
He's never been to a festival before and as a family we never go camping so it was a steep learning curve - added to that he didn't want to take anything which was deemed to be "un-cool",
 like a waterproof!
Camping isn't the type of holiday I've ever wanted to try, partly because due to the family's cricket commitments the optimum holiday time for us is January/February. Much as I like the scenery of the great British outdoors in say Derbyshire or even on our own Norfolk coast it wouldn't be ideal camping weather in January!
Anyway we packed him off on the coach last Thursday with a tent (borrowed and possibly not waterproof!) a sleeping bag, shorts and t-shirts as it was going to be hot - he refused to consider the possibility of rain, and some biscuits!
I requested 1 text a day, if it failed to arrive I promised I would start to phone all of his friends before I called the police! The texts have arrived, very brief ones saying "all is ok, I need a shower"!
He did cause some amusement at the cricket club by texting a team mate, at 3am on Saturday morning, to ask how the match was going! The reply he got was something along the lines of "I'll let you know once the match has started; in roughly 10 hours time!"
 They all had a giggle and assumed he may have had a half of lager - it is possible of course that he'd managed to get a drink on his very limited funds but I do know my son - he never knows what day of the week it is, his head is permanently in the clouds!
We're expecting him home later today (Monday), we have to pick him up at 3pm in Norwich; well I say expecting him home, he may not arrive despite the fact I booked him on that particular bus.
The last thing he said to his Dad as he dropped him off last week was "see you on Thursday".....

Monday, 19 August 2013

A bit on the side in the bedroom!

Now that title got your attention didn't it!! Go on admit it, you thought my blog
had changed direction didn't you??
Ha ha, no sorry to disappoint, this is going to be a housey post.
I thought just lately my posts had been a little miserable and moany so I promise to be more upbeat in future - around here I don't have that "time of the month" I have that time of the year!
 (roughly April to the end of August)
I have been thinking for a while about those little arrangements we have around the house, you know the little clusters of photographs grouped together, the little groups of interesting objects d'art - a vignette if you will. I got to thinking after reading Mel's post here. Mel writes a wonderful blog about family life (and more) in Tasmania.
I used to spend hours arranging little things on the mantelpiece or dressing table, but that was pre-children.
We then progressed to moving all breakables out of reach (or on many occasions actually breaking them, just to save moving them!)
Out tasteful artwork was replaced with those pre school paintings you stick to the wall and admire, only to be told it's a picture of you and it's upside down!
This then made way for the massive amounts of school letters, timetables and important info which you pin to the wall or stand on the mantelpiece in the vain hope that this will help you remember said important date - it doesn't appear to be helping!
But after reading Mel's post I took a fresh look around and, although a bit disappointed that I seem to have lost all knowledge of interior design we do still have a couple of little "vignettes".
My favourite is on my bedside cabinet, it always makes me smile. It's only a really small collection but because it's in our bedroom it doesn't take a battering from the kids!
The cabinet I love; I spent an age looking for something that size and shape but had no luck. Then I realised we had the very thing in the garage, a set of three items from a house clearance which I'd bought on impulse for about £50.
They were mahogany and although lovely they just didn't fit with the style of our house.
A quick sand down and after undercoat I used some Dulux antique white satin finish (or maybe eggshell finish - are they the same??)
And I love the end result it's the perfect size and shape and holds plenty too. I say perfect but it's probably not quite that - I do get a crick in my neck trying to see the digits on the clock and I can't reach the lamp switch unless I get out of bed! But I love it all the same.
I like to have a few unread books from my must-read list on there as well as a little china ornament of my dear Grandmothers.
The little vignette I'm thinking of is this....
not the clearest photo I'm afraid!

It is only small but consists of a photo of the boys in the days when they hugged and kissed each other and smiled a lot and a tiny picture of Little Miss with a big beaming smile and clutching her first ever ballet certificate. And a straw wedding hat of mine - which comes with a story - you guessed there'd be a story behind this didn't you?
I love that hat and it was bought around 11 years ago to go to my husband's, nephew's wedding.
As most weddings are in the summer and this was, if I remember correctly, in August we have a problem. The builder will not miss a cricket match for anything or anyone!
I spent several years going to things alone but no one understands his commitment to the sport so quite often took offence that my RSVP said I'd love to attend but he would not.
They take it as a personal insult when he puts a match higher up his list of priorities than the most-important-day-of their-lives!
I then spent a few years refusing all invites during the summer as I got fed up with turning up and attaching myself to other couples I knew a la gooseberry!
I don't much like it but now I attend, although wedding invites are few and far between these days, when I feel like it and it's easier now I can be accompanied by children.
The most recent event was my best friends 50th birthday party which I went to alone and The Builder joined me there later, just before it finished!
Anyway back to the story of the hat.
I was very pregnant at the time, although it was August and Little Miss wasn't due until January I was still the size of a baby elephant (actually cross out the baby). I was huge in the tummy department but trundled along with two little boys and enjoyed a very glamorous wedding at the church.
I had borrowed a lovely wrap around silk dress by Nicole Farhi from a friend. The friend had come to my rescue with a variety of loose fitting dresses (not maternity) to try on, as I struggled to wrap it round my great girth she quietly mused that the last time she'd worn it she'd had a smoochy dance with
a very famous English film star!!
"What"!! I said - I never knew she had connections to that Hello magazine world where
 a good part of my brain lives!
Anyway I proceeded to interrogate her for details and she left looking a little shell shocked but leaving me with the dress and the line
 "oh this old dress? last time this was worn it was to dance with .....!"
 No mention that I wasn't inside the dress at the time it of course!

Anyway at the end of a lovely wedding ceremony we all gathered in the churchyard for the obligatory photographs. Various family members stepped forward when summoned by the photographer. I waited until he asked for the Groom's Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Over I went with my huge tummy and two small boys and took my place amongst the others at the side of the Groom. The photographer looked up at the family group; then looked through his viewfinder and looked around the churchyard. He seemed to be looking for someone.
I encouraged the boys to show us their biggest smiles,
while the photographer looked around again.
There seemed to be a problem.
And then he spoke, he spoke directly to me. "Are we waiting for someone? Do you have a partner?"
I stuttered a bit and replied "No", whilst turning the same colour as an over ripe tomato.
The photographer then very pointedly looked at my face, then my bump and the two boys then back at my face. Then he took the photo but I swear I heard him "Tut tut"
It was difficult to hear over the sniggers coming from the other members of my husband's family though!

Seeing the hat does make me giggle though!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Catching up, and a spot of gorilla hunting!

Well how is your summer going? Enjoying some good weather I hope.

I have been trying to keep up with everyone else's blogs, I've just not blogged much myself. I have had a bit of time - I'm just lacking a bit of motivation - feeling a bit down in the dumps I suppose.

Life has been busy and it's the time of year when my nerves are a little tattered and I've had my fill of cricket! August is a tricky month as I'm trying to balance some fun stuff for the kids (without spending the earth) but also trying to keep up with all the cricket fixtures.

Number 2 son had a match in Essex this week and for the first time in a long while I gave it a miss. I touched on some of the difficulties we/I have with number 2 son here, and those difficulties are not always easy to deal with - I've reached my tolerance limit right now and one more false move on his part and I WILL EXPLODE!

So while he went to Essex with The Builder I went out for a more relaxing day with Little Miss, we continued our Go Go Gorilla hunt around Norwich. I say a more relaxing day but we actually went on a route march for 4 hours only stopping once for the obligatory coffee and cake. The waiter in the coffee shop nearly took the brunt of my current mood when he almost refused us a table (while maintaining a sneery smile) as we didn't want a full "afternoon tea". After a little discussion he asked if we "really wanted to sit in the formal tea room" to which I replied that "we really did"!

Anyway onward and upward we ticked off most of the remaining Gorillas and only have about 5 left to do on the outskirts of the city - a huge walk still to do I'm thinking. These are the highlights....
Norwich Cathedral Gardens

Inside Norwich Train Station - after we'd searched the carpark for half an hour!

King Kong outside the Cinema

Alice in Wonderland

 A lovely riverside walk in the city centre - something we'd not done before
 It truly is "A Fine City"

And in amongst all the cricket we've had exam results for number 1 son
 - not the greatest and a little bit of upset to console.
We've had a major argument with a neighbour (it's been bubbling for many years...) to do with cricket balls being hit over into his garden - that's a story all on it's own but probably not one to publish!

We did a bit of this
And boy did we pick! Heaps and heaps of strawberries, delicious big red juicy ones too.
So we spent the afternoon making smoothies - the boys were at cricket so didn't get so much as  a sniff of our delicious juice!

I've started my holiday diet, we don't go away until February but I'm allowing for all the failures I'll have in between - it's going well up to now (week 2).

And one bit of good news after all the courtesy car mishaps, I received this from the insurance company........

Now that is an apology I'm happy with!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

That car was doomed I tell you....doomed!

I appreciate that some of the problems which happened during my week with the miniature car may not have been the car's fault - there may or may not have been some human error involved - that human may or may not have been me, but here is the rest of the tale.....

So I left you with our 2 night stay at the Premier Inn, not so bad for the 3 of're very definitely on holiday when you're in a hotel, any kind of hotel, in any place, even if you have to watch some cricket - it's a holiday in my book!

I'd exchanged some Tesco vouchers for a local pub restaurant and we had a huge amount to spend (thanks for the triple value Mr Tesco!) so we ate well for both nights and on the last morning there were just 2 of us in the room as number 1 son had stayed over at the boarding school with his Dad as they'd had an evening a cricket match!

Little Miss and I packed our bags, enjoyed a good breakfast - kids eat free so stuff as much in as you can, fill your pockets if possible!

We loaded the car and headed to the school for the first match of the final day.
Not a difficult manoeuvre, the car park was next to the pitch our team were playing on. I unloaded the car - chairs, food, drinks, kitchen sink came out of the miniature car with teeny tiny boot (trunk). And we set up camp on the boundary (Boundary - see I do know some cricket terminology!)

After about an hour I needed to collect something from the car, but could I find the key? No sign of the car key, bags were turned out, contents strewn on the floor, steps to the car park were retraced, children were interrogated!

I then had the humiliating task of asking the other parents, who at the best of times I find intimidating! You have the stylish "Boden-esque" mum's, the business men "old school tie" dad's and lots of networking being done and generally being very ambitious on behalf of their children. Not really my kind of thing!

I always seem to do something stupid, or say the wrong thing so the fact that I'd lost the car key didn't appear to surprise anyone! Eventually I realised that if we were ever to make it home I would need to call the garage and "fess up" - after I'd shouted at them, several times a few days before. I called and explained that I had accidently mislaid the key,
 "no problem madam we'll drive a spare out to you, are you at home?" Oh dear!
 " no actually I'm just outside Birmingham, approximately 200 miles from you"
 - mumbles, possibly some swearing on the other end of the line.
She couldn't help other than to advise I phoned the RAC & pretended I'd locked the key in the boot - this apparently gets the best response! I duly called them and they said they'd put me on their list and be with me within 3 hours!
 Oh crikey, 3 hours? I got the withering look from the builder as usual.
 Other parents smiled and tried to be sympathetic while implying they'd never done such a thing themselves.
Over an hour later I was still really upset and frantic with worry about possible tellings off and charges from the RAC. They'd also told me that if the key wasn't in the car (I was sure it wasn't) they'd take us all home on the back of a low loader truck - oh the humiliation, not to mention the length of time the journey would take on a pick up truck!
So what happened after an hour?
 The builder found the key in his pocket, of course he denies 100% actually putting it there himself! Livid is not the word!
So we got home safely and all in one piece in the teeny tiny car, having put over 1000 miles on it in the short time it lived with us.
But the next day, it's last day with us, Little Miss and I decided to take the car to visit a local festival while the boys were at cricket.
Off we went on a hot and sunny Sunday, parked in the car park/farmers field and had a great day out. There was entertainment, things to make and do, as well as lots of craft stalls and tents.

Glitter tattoo - which appears to have been photographed 47 times - not by me!

Why hoola hoop with one hoop when you can hoola hoop with three?

And when it was time to leave we were exhausted,
so we staggered back to the field to car!

We walked and walked until our legs were aching, many people left but there was no sign of our little car. I had no idea what to do next, but after an hour of pacing up and down
(yes it actually was 1 hour)
 a nearly empty car park we admitted defeat and decided to re trace our steps back to the festival field to report it stolen.
We thought it a little strange that anyone would steal a teeny tiny car when there were some fabulous cars all around but who knows how a thief's mind works?
 I was already thinking about the call to the garage to say I'd found the key, but sadly lost the car!

As luck would have it on the walk back we bumped into some friends and had a little chat, then they asked WHICH car park we were in?? There were two identical fields for parking.... who knew??
I admitted nothing to no one - so please don't tell!