sEAsons ~ celebrating Easter

Hi there – just dropping by to say I am still around but for some reason still very busy – this is not what I expected when I gave up working, I feel I am working twice as hard now as then.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter enjoying the glorious weather we couldn’t have timed our party better and of course it ended up as a real garden party (I needn’t have cleaned the living room quite so thoroughly after all!).Many of the plants had started to grow quickly in the warm sunshine  – we are usually quite late in this area being high up and I was willing my pretty Aquilegia plants, which have self seeded all over the garden, to open in time for the party….. but sadly they didn’t.  But no matter there were plenty of the bulbs and Primula still blooming and the blossom….hasn’t it just been delightful?

The party took some preparing in the end – for new readers this was a party for my son-in-law’s 40th birthday combined with an Easter party as it fell on Easter Sunday, we held it at my house because my daughter’s house is so much smaller.

We had Easter eggs and decorations amongst the party decor.  I spent some time covering polystyrene eggs with tissue paper which I hung from twiggy branches supported in a pot of sand hidden with a topping of moss, then added a few fluttery butterflies with my glue gun. I also had fun making these Easter food ‘flags’ to help guests identify the different sandwiches, salads and quiches. And of course we planned an Easter hunt around the garden for the children though the eggs had to be hidden well in the shade so they did not melt in the heat.

We had a day or two in the garden beforehand – setting out all the pots that had been in winter hibernation and adding a few inexpensive pansies and primulas for a touch of colour.

We removed the covers from our garden tables and chairs and brought out the large parasol, then hung out the white solar lanterns from my daughter’s wedding a few years ago – they had been stored in the loft and I was quite surprised they still worked. We also bought some Festoon lighting and DH made a great job of stringing it across the garden using the clothes prop and an old piece of aluminium tubing he found in the garage.At night it looked so magical……Our guests were handed nibbles and cocktails on arrival….. I had spent four days making a mountain of ice cubes in readiness – and ice-cold drinks were very much in demand.

The table was laden with food – sandwiches, mini wraps and four different salads all ordered from M&S by my daughter.   For the true meat eaters her MIL bought a selection of pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs from a local award-winning butchers and my contribution was some small quiches and of course the cake.

The cake was certainly one project too many – it nearly didn’t happen when twice the ready rolled icing stuck to the kitchen work top despite the oodles of icing sugar I had sifted beneath.  I am no cake decorator and it was very rushed so this is extremely wobbly and the icing a bit cracked in my desperation to get it onto the cake!   And exactly what is it you may ask……a circuit board of course – as son-in-law is an electrician come electrical engineer and is always playing about with circuit boards.  I had to have precise instruction for this from DH as I had no idea what I was doing.For desserts we kept it simple with profiteroles, a huge bowl of mixed berries with crushed meringue and double cream to make Eton mess and some tiny party cheesecakes and chocolate bites.

Although not everyone was very impressed!!!

….but all in all it was such a wonderful day.

And the best bit…..Libbie (Little L) had made me an Easter present from some DAS clay a beautiful little pink heart – of course I will treasure it.It has taken me a while to straighten the house up again after the party – putting dishes back and packing bits and pieces away – I am feeling quite exhausted now – I could barely drag myself to Yoga on Tuesday morning and somehow I need to gather up a little more energy to start on the Christening dress….we need to do a bit of fabric hunting in the next day or two and celebrate yet another birthday, but on a much smaller scale this time, before we can finally escape up to Scotland for a well earned rest.

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dEAr dairy ~ busy times

Welcome baby X  -isn’t he so cute.

I just thought I would drop by to introduce him and write a little update of the last few days (which are slowly turning into a bit of a blur for us due to our new circumstances and some unfortunate problems arising quicker than we can cope with them and even worse a total lack of sleep – and we are only the grandparents!)

I think I left you all with the news that new baby X (still no name – no time for that) had arrived into our world and mum, dad and baby all seemed well and content.  I rushed out for a few little gifts to give to my daughter.  Buying blue is new to me – I had two girls, my cousins are girls, my sister had a girl, my SIL had two girls, one of whom has recently had a little girl and my younger daughter had two girls (Little L and Sweetie who you have met).  So having a little boy is quite a novelty and a bit of unknown territory too.  I am quickly getting used to thinking in terms of diggers rather than dolls and dinosaurs rather than fairies.

I found the little grey velour babygrow and the knitted fleece lined blanket in Primark – some of their baby clothes are quite good value.  The white one with blue teddy bears is from Mothercare.

All seemed well until the day after mum and baby arrived home then the problems surfaced.  I don’t wish to say too much here on my blog about the specific problems only that they would normally have been picked up at birth or during the hospital stay and been addressed before discharge – not major things but potentially serious if not dealt with quickly.  Now the problems are compounded due mainly to the many hospital visits in the last couple of days seeing a variety of specialist staff for further advice and treatment which has meant that baby has unavoidably been missing feeds whilst hanging around in busy corridors whilst waiting for one or both of them to be seen (all night, last night).  So now this has caused a problem in itself and baby X who was doing very well initially has not gained enough weight in the last day or so and feeding has to be every two hours now to catch up.

I am worried about my daughter as she is physically exhausted at the moment as well as emotionally drained and they are temporarily having to feed the baby by expressing her milk and giving it to the baby in a tiny cup so the whole process of feeding this way takes about two hours as it is not very easy to administer.

We have been helping out as much as we can with cooking and minding baby X whilst both mum and dad get some much-needed food and sleep (which was only a couple of hours at most between the previous three-hour feeds).

I am hoping things will start to settle down in a few days.  It has all been a bit of an ordeal which is a shame as the actual labour and birth went quite well.  Strangely enough my younger daughter who has recently had Sweetie had a totally different NHS experience in North Yorkshire where the midwives follow-up for about 6 days if needed after discharge whereas here in West Yorkshire it was one visit at home and a further hospital appointment 2 days later.  I suspect we have fewer resources living in a very overpopulated area but should it not be the case that the NHS deliver the same service everywhere?  Don’t get me wrong the midwives and other professionals have all been very good – but she has been passed around so many now with differing advice that she is feeling a little confused and everything is becoming such a blur to her because of the tiredness.  So I may be gone a few days until things calm down a bit.

Hope your weekend is a relaxing one.

Welcome to my new followers and welcome back to Lucinda – her blog is over at Lucinda Sans and well worth a read.

 

dEAr diary ~ a close run thing

When I said on my blog on Thursday that we had finished the decorating at my daughter’s house and the carpets had been fitted ‘just in time’ – I never realised how ‘just in time’ this was going to be.  Baby X arrived on the scene 9 days early this morning to surprise us all.  A beautiful baby boy as yet with no name.

So I am now a proud granny of 3 grandchildren and feeling a bit exhausted at the thought.  Mum, dad and baby doing well and all of them sleeping after an eventful night and soon I will be too as I have to be up and out tomorrow to take my car in for its first service at the garage and then we will be going on to Ikea in Sheffield to look at (and possibly buy) the units for the new pantry.

I am doubly excited tonight!

plEAsurable ~ wedding celebrations

What a gorgeous day it has been today (Wednesday) – sunny, dry and with a chill in the air –  it was identical weather on this same date November 14th ten years ago in 2008 for my younger daughter’s wedding day.

She married at St Mary’s Church just off the main square in the small market town of Masham, North Yorkshire.

This is me on the left with my mum and sister – all of us lookng a bit younger!

The wedding bouquets were made by a florist in a tiny shop in Bedale and were absolutely beautiful – deep, rich Autumn colours.To save on costs we added in a few bunches of our own courtesy of the cheap bouquets sold at the local Co-op the day before, together with a bunch of Hypericum and eucalyptus from our local market stall!  These were used to fill the jars we hung on the railings and Shepherd’s hooks in the Church grounds.Luckily my daughter wanted a home-made country look for her wedding so we were able to work to quite a tight budget.

We made the confetti from a mix of honesty seed pods, hydrangea petals and pressed montbretia petals, this gave us the vibrant oranges and the honesty is so light it makes wonderful confetti.  The mixture was then put into cellophane bags (collected from those used to package birthday cards) and decorated with a natural raffia bow.We used a professional photographer that was both fun and willing to take a mix of formal and more informal shots.  He certainly kept all our guests entertained with his humour and he took us all for a wander around Masham capturing some very unusual scenes – these are two of my favourite – in the telephone box on the left and outside the Bah Humbugs shop.The reception was held in the local town hall and once the formal pictures had been taken outside the church we all walked round in procession to the venue led by the bride and groom – no need to hire any cars.  Local friends, neighbours and shopkeepers from Masham came out to cheer the happy couple.As the town hall is not considered a normal wedding venue these days we had to hire in tables and white linen cloths from a local caterers and we added the plain orange napkins.  The chairs were supplied with the room but were rather shabby so one of biggest expenses was the hire of the Lycra chair covers and organza bows but this made all the difference to the room and the locals said they had never seen the town hall looking so good!

We had to lay all this out ourselves the evening before the wedding – we had loads of helpers and whilst we were busy moving and laying and tying and draping the local amateur dramatics society were rehearsing their muder mystery play on the stage.  It was a bit bizarre!

The centre pieces we made ourselves too – we bought some inexpensive large hurricane vases from Ikea and filled them with tiny dried pumpkins and a pillar candle.  Around the base we placed a ring of twigs picked up on a few country walks then soaked and twisted into shape.The favours were in plain calico bags decorated with pine cones and dried ferns with hand written craft labels.For the pew ends we bought rustic twig hearts and added a natural raffia bow.We had a wonderful and fun day finishing with a rousing Ceilidh with music by The Applejacks.

This weekend the whole family will be gathering for a celebration to mark both their tenth wedding anniversary and the birth of their second daughter.  We are a family blessed.

 

 

dEAr diary ~ family celebrations

She has finally arrived, Saturday 10th November at 4.30am in the morning – a beautiful healthy baby girl – the new addition to our family.  Weighing in at 6lb 14 ounces, after another difficult labour, but both mum and baby sleeping  it off (and dad too!).  And granny and granddad for that matter!!

DH and I are back home now to give them some time to themselves for a few days.  Little L is overjoyed with her new baby sister – her chosen name was Sweetie – not the name mum and dad have called her but I think it is a suitable name for my blog.

So Little L and Sweetie it is.

dEAr diary ~ overcome by tiredness

I am sitting on my daughter’s spare room bed at 9.30 at night still waiting for Little L to drift off to sleep in the next room.  At the moment it doesn’t seem very likely that she is going to be asleep this side of midnight!  We are still waiting for news of the new baby which should be anytime in the next few hours as mum was induced earlier.

I am absolutely shattered – we spent part of the morning packing (we always seem to be packing to go somewhere), then the drive up here to North Yorkshire in time for Little L’s school assembly at 3pm for the parents (and grandparent) where the older children had planned a little remembrance service, then cooking tea in a strange kitchen – strange in the fact that I am never very sure where everything is kept, like the scissors or the tin foil.  I must have opened every cupboard and drawer by now.

I think perhaps we made the wrong decision in looking after Little L at her home rather than pick her up from school and take her back to ours for the weekend but we didn’t want her to miss her ballet lesson tomorrow.  Now I am wondering if we will all be up in time to get to the ballet lesson.

Going back to the remembrance service – the children in years 3 and 4 had been learning about life in the trenches for the troops fighting the war and how difficult life was for them.  They were then asked to write a letter to someone who was a friend telling of the awful time they were having and of the reality as often the soldiers wrote letters to their families but didn’t mention the horror of the war so as not to worry or upset them.  Each child read out their letter – it was quite moving and I wondered myself how these brave men endured such hardship, being continuously cold, wet and covered in lice and sores from the Trench foot.

Must go now I need some sleep myself.

 

dEAr diary ~ mEAndering and rEAsoning

Life has been busy recently but today, right now, is the start of my new journey.  We have a bit of a gap this week between our commitments and obligations – paid work is behind me, at least for the moment,  though I haven’t as yet ruled it out altogether and I just need some me time, time to think or rethink my life, time to ponder and reflect.

We had a lovely few days in Yarm with my mum and we took her to see Mount Grace Priory which is nearby.  If you are ever in the area then do go and see it – I found it a fascinating place.  Most of the priory is in ruins but they have reconstructed one of the 25 monk’s cells to look around, however, don’t be misled by the term ‘cell’ as they are more like small houses which served as a private monastery for each monk – 3 rooms downstairs; living room, study and bedroom with a private chapel and a large work room upstairs for spinning and weaving. Outside each house had a walled garden to grow herbs and vegetables and a covered walkway to the latrine as well as a private cloister for meditation. I imagine they were pretty comfortable living here.

The Carthusian Order is a solitary order and the Monk’s spent many hours each day in prayer and meditation with vegetarian meals being brought to them and left in the little hatch to the side of each doorway.  Only on a Sunday did they socialise and pray together.

I was quite taken by the peacefulness and simplicity of the place – set in beautiful surroundings and everything in the house made of natural materials (no plastics to be seen) which gives it a very earthy, solid quality that feels timeless and you are left in no doubt that as it has been there for many centuries already quietly following one season after another, it would still be the same many more centuries ahead.

Compare this with my lifestyle at the moment and my own abode – I have to confess I am in catch up mode, as my house is basically a mess added to which I have no idea on our financial situation, our diet is not as healthy as it should be and I am desperate for sleep and rest as well as exercise.  I feel like I have just completed a marathon in the last three weeks and my lack of posts and comments are proof of just how busy I have been.

After leaving mum we collected Little L on the way home to stay with us for a few days.  Each day we packed a picnic and set off for an adventure.  We didn’t have to go far – a few swings, a river to paddle in and ducks to watch and this is more than enough to keep a 4-year-old content.  On the final day we baked buns and made jellies with custard topping all decorated liberally with sprinkles.

After taking Little L back to her mum we came home and just flopped on the sofa and watched TV too exhausted to move!   It has been a long and tiring few weeks and I have been yearning for a few days rest and time to gather my thoughts.  I desperately need to change all this busyness for a calmer, simpler lifestyle but with so many conflicting demands I know it won’t be easy.

I don’t doubt there are many of you reading this that can identify with my plight – ‘not enough hours in the day’ syndrome.  My challenge now is to turn this around one day at a time and get my house in order.

To help me capture my random thoughts and tasks I bought some of those coloured index cards, from a well-known store, each of the four colours representing a major area of my life.

I have chosen pink for Health, yellow for the Home, blue for Finances and green for Self, Lifestyle, Hobbies and Socialising.

I have made a start giving each card within the category a sub-heading such as meal planning, skin care, exercise or decluttering and these will be the areas to focus on at some time as I get to them.  This may all seem a bit drastic but for me having the cards is a bit of a prompt and I like to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper so I can see clearly what I need to do;  declutter, clean and maintain – with what I would like to do; sketching, gardening , healthier lifestyle.

It is all a question of balancing.  At this present time my life feels very unbalanced and reactive as different situations present themselves.  I am struggling with minor health issues that I want to address to prevent them turning into anything more major and I often feel daunted by the amount of tasks and maintenance that needs to be done.

I have until the weekend to make a start before we have my mum for a visit over the bank holiday and possibly followed by Little L again.  So next week will be a slight interruption to my plans but come September my time will be my own once again.

One of my first tasks is to go through my kitchen cupboards and check for food going out of date and restocking.  I am not sure what I will find lurking at the back.

Have a lovely day – back tomorrow x

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ leaving…tears and treats

How did last week slip by so quickly?  What a whirlwind it has been here.

Unfortunately Tuesday, not only my wedding anniversary day but my last day at work, started with a bit of a stand-off with the new lady – I was playing it cool, polite but not overly friendly (quite unlike me).  It was our first encounter since our difficult day last Wednesday and I was adamant she was not going to spoil my final few hours at work.  Not much had changed in her attitude but she got the message that I wasn’t going to pander to her whims on my last day when I threatened to put all of my reference files in the shredding bag if she felt I was wasting my time checking they were all updated to pass on to her – though as she already knows everything she shouldn’t need them!  Standing my ground seemed to make her more amenable for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon I was suddenly called to the training room for a meeting which  ‘surprise’ turned out to be a buffet spread laid out with Prosecco, party food and cupcakes and attended by all the staff and directors.  There were speeches and presentations, more bouquets, gifts and wonderful words of thanks and appreciation for my hard work over the last 18, almost 19 years.  So my house is full of beautiful flowers once again and my birthday cards had to move over to make room for my leaving and wedding anniversary cards.

I was really touched – it was certainly a good send off – quite unexpected and lots of goodbyes, with promises to keep in touch and a few tears.

Then after an emotional day it was back home to collapse.

Early on Wednesday morning we set off for Pateley Bridge and Studfold Park with fairy wings and birthday presents on the back seat and a picnic in the cool bag ready to celebrate Little L’s 4th birthday.

The only route for us was 2 hours on busy (A) roads through Bradford and Otley and then along some winding (B) roads but it was a pleasant enough run through the countryside – places I had not been before.  We all met in the car park at about 11am – the weather was very warm but luckily it stayed mainly overcast so we didn’t get burnt as we were hunting for the fairies.

Both Little L and her friend were far too excited to eat much of their lunch and only managed half the ice cream cone and a lick at the cream frosting flowers on the birthday cake.

Her main birthday present was a balance bike but she wouldn’t ride it until she was kitted out with the full helmet, elbow and knee pads.  Luckily the postman came with them during the afternoon and then she decided to keep them on until bedtime!

We had bought her a camera that takes real pictures and selfies which you can add cartoon features to.  I had as much fun with it as Little L and would add it to my Christmas list if I could!

After a lovely day playing it was then back home to collapse.

On Thursday morning up bright and early again it was all hands to the deck once more at my elder daughter’s house – DH sorting out new banister rails on the landing and me back on the gravel patch.

By Saturday with a bit of help from the men to lift some very heavy paving stones which formed a pathway and edging we finally laid the gravel.  Our daughter then added the finishing touches of the table, chairs and pots of plants to form a seating area.  It looked really good but I forgot to take the all-important picture – I will take one and post it soon.

After 3 days hard graft it was back home to collapse.

On Sunday morning DH and I rushed around packing clothes, food and tools for our trip to the cottage in Scotland.  We finally managed to get away at lunchtime and arrived at the cottage about 8pm to then unload everything again and finally fall into bed.

After a hectic few days we must have been so tired that we slept for 10 hours solid but at least now we are here our time is our own and we can go at our own pace for a few days until Thursday when our commitments begin again.

I love exploring the garden when we haven’t been for a while – so many changes and so many different plants in flower.  Our Bramley apple tree is full of apples – it must be a good year – each morning I am gathering up the windfalls, before we leave I daresay DH will give the tree a good shake.  I will have to give most of them away as our freezer is still full of apples from last year.   

The cottage garden has lost a lot of its summer colour due to the hot weather  – many of the flowers have had a shorter flowering period with the intense heat and lack of water but the Buddleias on the woodland walk are weeping with the weight of the blossoms this year and they are full of butterflies.

The Hydrangeas are also out in full bloom now – the one above was my dads, I have no idea what it is called but it is a beautiful shade of coral pink around the edges of the petals which fade slightly as they open.

The Rosa Rugosa hedge down the lane has huge hips forming already and the Agapanthus are just loving this sun.

There is plenty to do here – weeding, pruning and tidying but only one day left so I need to prioritise.  On our next visit which will be longer maybe 2 or 3 weeks we should have time to make more of an impact. Going to Italy this year certainly put us behind with the general maintenance.

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer – I have a bit of catching up to do with my favourite blogs.

Back soon x

plEAsurable ~ a wonderful day

Happy Birthday

What a lovely day today – the sun was streaming through the window when I woke and DH greeted me with a card and after breakfast he produced a tiny chocolate cake (from Morrisons) with 2 pink plastic ballerinas and a candle on top (from the cake decorating container in the cupboard) and then sang happy birthday!

After the last few intense days I felt much more relaxed today and who wouldn’t with all the attention I have been given.

During the morning I opened all the gifts given to me by friends and colleagues at work and then my eldest daughter arrived with more flowers, a book token (much appreciated) a very posh box of biscuits (chocolate and hazelnut) and a card.

My house now looks and smells like a florists – these sunflowers are a real treat – a bit difficult to arrange in the vase – but you can’t help but smile at them.

The postman arrived later with more cards – isn’t it exciting these days to have a handwritten envelope drop through the letterbox with a real stamp on it rather than the typed cellophane windows style that are stamped with Mailsort!

Whilst it was still partly shaded I tidied up in the back garden removing dead leaves from the lawn, deadheading the flowers in the pots and sweeping the patio. Some of the flowers are starting to fill out again now after they were severely caught by the sun whilst we were in Scotland and dried out.

After a sandwich lunch with my daughter I had visits from my Russian sister-in-law and one of my best friends.

This is just one of the lovely gifts I received – it is a hard bound colouring book called The Flower Year, which has beautiful illustrations month by month.  I can’t wait to get started.

I just had chance to make a quick tea for us –  a mixed warm salad with new potatoes, green beans, button mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes and those tiny party Quorn cocktail sausages before more visitors arrived.

My brother called round and another best friend and together we had a catch up and devoured the chocolate cake.

I have such wonderful friends and family – I am certainly a happy bunny tonight. x

 

dEAr diary ~ just pondering on life

Sometimes you have days where you feel ‘off’ for no particular reason that you can put your finger on – today was one of them.

Perhaps it is the hot weather – this sticky and uncomfortable state making me feel constantly headachy and lethargic or maybe it is being in this place of temporary suspension waiting for the ending of one chapter but not able to begin the next.

My replacement started at work yesterday and there is a lot to show her so it is quite exhausting – but she is very nice and had I been staying on I am sure we would have got along just fine.

I am also aware that coming up soon on the calendar are a few ‘memorable’ dates – each one of them evidence that life speeds ahead whether or not you are enjoying it, doing what you want to do or otherwise.

  • July 19th – my 64th birthday – yikes really?

  • July 30th – my eldest daughters 2nd wedding anniversary – already?
  • July 31st – our 42nd wedding anniversary and the day I leave my job

  • August 1st – Little L (my granddaughter’s) 4th birthday – growing up fast now.

  • August 16th – this would have been my mum and dad’s 70th wedding anniversary if dad had still been alive but we will still mark the occasion with my mum in some way.

A lot of celebrations, maybe commiseration, a lot of memories, a lot of years and it does leave you wondering where did all that time go – have we become what we wanted or hoped to be?

As I am about to venture into this unknown territory soon of being job less (through choice) am I going to cope but more worrying am I going to fulfil all those things I once dreamed of doing.  If I have things still left to do then I need to get on with them quickly as I have more life behind me now than in front.

I have been so busy recently that I have not given much thought to what I will do,  less so to the financial implications of living on one state pension and our savings until I can claim my own in 2 years’ time.

Already our time is being booked out to helping:- decorating for our elder daughter, child minding our granddaughter for our younger daughter during the summer holidays and also granny minding for my mum whilst my sister is away.  We have also booked the man to come to sort out the rendering of the upper part of our house.

Looks like it will be September then before we can draw breath!  This doesn’t sound like a ‘retirement’ to me.