Saturday, 30 April 2016

The one where we went to Hyde Hall

For centuries Hyde Hall was a working farm, with the surrounding area used as a dumping ground. In 1976 the Hyde Hall Gardens Trust was set up and in 1993 the house became the responsibility of the Royal Horticulture Society, having been bequeathed by the Trust to ensure its future survival.
In 2016, Mark and I booked the day off work and visited Hyde Hall with my mum, dad and Tommy, as part of my father's 82nd birthday present.

Oh we had a lovely day exploring the Hyde Hall houses, followed by the big barn for chocolate cake and banana milkshake. We hid in the rain shelter with giant flower pots, to escape the bursts of rain clouds. We browsed around the prettiest library ever, and all the stalls at the craft and design show (some people are so creative and clever). Tommy especially loved the duck pond and running around the stunning gardens, searching for bugs.


























Thursday, 21 April 2016

If I ruled the world

If I ruled the world, there would be some changes around here.
For starters, I would tackle war, poverty and famine.
Although I haven't quite worked out how I would solve these issues. It would be easier if I had magical powers and could vanish anything destructive and distressing.
Because in my ideal world, thanks to my super, magical wand (or whatever it was I could banish stuff with), there would be peace and harmony. Accompanied with plenty of money and food for everyone. Plus, no nasty, terminal illnesses.
If I may focus on something slightly easier than fixing world wide catastrophes, I would like to address a common complaint in my life and my peers - the weekend simply isn't long enough.
I'm talking about getting that work-life balance right, because quite frankly, for many of us, it doesn't seem as if we've quite got the hang of it.
Many of us, myself most definitely included, work our little socks off Monday to Friday, five whole days. Then we get to Saturday and we are knackered. All those early alarm calls, commuting and stressing, have taken their toll. Oh we love Saturdays but sometimes we are tired and there is much to do and people to see. Then there is Sunday, and as much as we try not to, work is creeping back into our minds, and we are very aware that we have to ensure all the washing and cleaning and preparing for another week is complete. Let's also not forget that sensible, early night, so we can be alert for Monday morning.
And repeat.
Sigh.
Put your hand up if you spend many a day fantasising about the weekend. As much as I hate to sound like I'm wishing my life away (I'm not by the way, I realise every day is a joy), my hand is firmly in the air. So where did it all go wrong?
Which brings me back to my original point, if I ruled the world, I would make Friday the official weekend.
That's right, we would have a three day weekend instead of two. I don't think that would be too damaging to the economy. And just think about all those huge benefits to our well-being!
An extra day to see our loved ones, paint our living room, recharge our batteries, and all those glorious bits in between.
Bliss.
We could stop feeling guilty about constantly waiting for the weekend/complaining it was too short. Although, the more cynical ones amongst us would probably still do that. You can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people some of the time, isn't that what they say?!
I for one would be very happy with an extra day to my weekend. For the record, I have discussed this with friends and colleagues and they also agree it would be preferable and beneficial. So there you go, it should be the case! It would be the case if I ruled the world.
Alas, I do not rule. So I'm afraid we only have a Saturday and a Sunday to class as our official weekend. But boy do I love them and cherish them, it's time to be with my friends and family.

I especially love Saturday afternoons in my friend's tea room. (Hopefully selling more of my homemade cards.) Followed by home sweet home.
Finishing with Sunday afternoon at my parent's house.

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And pappa never tires of reading Tommy a goodnight story.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Muddy puddles, tickle sticks and flower friends

I'll never forget the evening when husband and I were watching the reality television show, The Only Way is Essex (we're from Essex, we watch with curiosity and horror), and Chloe announced, "I hate the outdoors. I hate nature."
I was indignant. How could she protest against nature? Okay, I'm not the hardcore outdoorsy sort; battling through torrential rain and snow blizzard, to climb the tallest mountain and swim the deepest sea. But I do love fresh air, wild flowers and blue sky.
After this shocking broadcast, I was beside myself. I couldn't justify preferring sipping over priced cocktails, in a dim and noisy nightclub, to a stroll in a bluebell field, with picnic basket.
Dear readers, have you ever heard something that sticks in your mind, probably never to be forgotten ever again?
"I hate the outdoors. I hate nature," has stuck in my mind. For all the wrong reasons.
So many times since that fateful evening, sprawled on the sofa with husband, watching reality television, Chloe's words have come back to haunt me.
I could be watering my plants in the garden, investigating the forest behind our cottage, or admiring the local duck pond with Tommy, and I remember those cruel words!
Now spring has decided to join us, how could I hate being outdoors or begrudge mother nature?
To be fair, Chloe Sims was inappropriately dressed in high heels and tight clothes at the time of filming, which probably didn't help her mood.
Please note, at the time of photographing, all children and parents below, were dressed for the occasion. I can also confirm, no-one complained that we were surrounded by daisies, trees, water and ducks.


Off for an adventure in the forest. Followed by, the duck pond with friend.











Saturday, 9 April 2016

Daddy's car's broken

Who remembers their first word?
The first word ever uttered in your life.
No wait, you probably don't actually remember it. You were most likely to have been told an endearing story regarding your first word. Probably by a parent with a very good memory.
My mum can't remember mine, I guess it was forty odd years ago. It may have been, "Daddy!" or, "Mummy!" as apparently there are the two most common first words. Hardly surprising really. Daddy is easier for young vocal chords to pronounce than mummy, but I expect these words are often repeated by keen parents, waiting in eager anticipation to hear their little darling say their name.
My friend's first word, and I did laugh when she informed me of this, was, "More!" She always has been a girl who knows what she wants from life.
Tommy's first word was, "Car!" He loves cars. He loves anything with wheels. Especially fire engines. As much as we wanted him to say mummy or daddy, we were over the moon when one day he said as clear as sparkling crystal, "Car!"
And so it began. The talking.
There are many exiting stages of children's development. I remember literally squealing with delight, and Tommy's amazed face, when he realised he could walk by himself. It was also fun watching him eat solid food for the first time and clearly enjoying himself. And talking. I love hearing his little voice.
He says many words now to accompany car. The words aren't always clear and sometimes he is merely copying what you have said, in a parrot like fashion. But I am often surprised at how his brain is making sense of the world and forming proper sentences.
I was very happy the day Tommy announced, "Daddy's car's broken." Not because I was happy that we would have a nice big bill to pay, but because he was progressing from one word announcements. And he understood his environment.
I think these three words will always stick in my mind, it was the start of another era.
Now he won't stop babbling away. His reports from nursery are often stating how vocal he has been. They've even moved him upstairs with some of the older kids, for further stimulation.
Incidentally, our car has now been fixed. It no longer has to be started with a knife. Which wasn't ideal. We've had to swallow a hefty bill to fix the electronic key.
Knives are now used in the normal manner and Tommy loves reminding us of this.
"Daddy's car's not broken."
Isn't life great.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

And then it was Easter

We were discussing Easter in the staff canteen.
"It's like Christmas but without all the pressure," said one colleague.
"I've upgraded it to my second favourite time of the year, Wimbledon being my first," said another colleague.
"To me it means, daffodils, mini eggs and four whole days off work, love it," said I.
"How was your Easter egg hunt?" another colleague asked me.
"Oh let me tell you all about it!"
So I did, and showed the following pictures from my iPhone.

This year, Good Friday was very good indeed. I invited family for afternoon tea and an Easter egg hunt, and the sun shined down kindly on us all.

Tommy was a very lucky boy. Family bought him chocolate fire engines, a bunny with his name on, and a noisy chic, to name just a special few.


We bought him a Peter Rabbit game because we knew he'd receive a tonne of chocolate!



Lucky me got this marvelous homemade card from Tommy and beautiful flowers from my father-in-law.


One of my afternoon tea tiers for the family.


Chocolate eggs hidden in our garden.


Tommy and Will searching for them.






I made chocolate nests, as you can see, Tommy enjoyed them.



Easter Sunday we were invited to my sister-in-laws for a roast dinner and egg and spoon races. Loved her table setting and Easter tree.




Table for two please.


I can confirm the chocolate cheese cake eggs were delicious.



Fireman Sam book from grandad was a big hit.



Easter was a very happy occasion. I'm still rationing Tommy's chocolate supply, but he keeps finding it!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Fishes and horses

I am very excited.
Why is this, you may well ask.
Well, allow me to cure your curiosity.
Something has happened to the weather. Minimal changes at first. Now definitely more noticeable.
Twice a year the seasons ignite my passion - the first signs of Spring and the Christmas countdown. Both have the ability to leave me grinning like a loony.
Dear readers, it is with enormous pleasure I have noticed Spring has finally arrived. My house is alive with yellow daffodils, my garden is sprinkled with lavender blooms. The clocks went back last night, and we've missed an hours sleep - for much happiness you have to make a little sacrifice.
But hey, I no longer lay in these days, so I'm typing away in bed whilst husband and son snore away. After this post I'll water my lavender blooms and I may even eat my cereal in the garden. Get me! Special K alfresco style! (Maybe with cardigan or demim jacket, let's not get too carried away, this is England after all.)
Before I fill this blog with colours and Easter, let's remember grayer and colder times. You served your purpose darker weather, now it is time to hold our heads higher and wear our clothes lighter.
So long winter, thanks for Christmas, your time is officially over, make way for Spring please.

Winter meant inside activities, such as Sea Life. Tommy loved the fishes.




A brisk walk along Southend beach. Before chips and hot chocolate.



We also wrapped up warm for father-in-law's birthday, at the races. Tommy loved watching the horses with his cousin.


The terrible twosome.


Lost in thought. Probably fie engines and chocolate.


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