Friday, 20 May 2016

Mary Poppins and the cake bowl

When Mark informed me that his brother and nephew would be visiting at 9am one Sunday morning, I nearly experienced a meltdown.
Notice the word 'nearly'. I am proud to report, I remembered in the nick of time, that I have turned over a new leaf.
Thus, I did not have a meltdown. Because I am trying my utter hardest not to have meltdowns and to be far more casual in my approach to life and visits.
Allow me to paint a clearer picture. It wasn't the thought of 9am that was disturbing me (my world begins at 5.45am week days and a little bit later at weekends) or the fact I think my brother-in-law and nephew are people who should be avoided whenever possible. No, the mere mention of Gary and Will does not mean I erupt in ugly boils and run, shrieking, "Please God, what have I done to deserve this!""
It's nothing half as dramatic as that.
I simply realised, if I want to move forward in this world, I have to stop pressurising myself in my quest for perfection.
Unless your name is Mary Poppins, she who is perfectly perfect in every way, the P word does not exist.
I have decided the P word was purely invented to make me feel inadequate. Especially when entertaining.
This is why I tried not to have a meltdown one particular Sunday morning. Brother-in-law and nephew wanted to visit on the exact same morning husband I were welcoming other friends to our home, for the very first time.
So what, you may say. And yes, you relaxed experts may well say that.
I am just not used to it.
However, Mark and I have promised this year to be more sociable for Tommy's sake and ours. Which is why I am the first to admit we are out of practice with guests and visits.
The last couple of times we entertained, I put too much worry and concern into the event.
Fast forward May 2016, we invited friends for lunch, accompanied with a play date for the kids. And I gave myself firm instructions to not stress over the house and food. Guests do not expect perfection. A great ambiance yes, a memorable time, I hope so. But not necessarily the P word.
Therefore, Gary and Will visited at 9am, just after Tommy and I had finished decorating cakes. The baking equipment was still unwashed and uncared for, but for once I actually wasn't bothered. It was a beautiful sunny morning and we sat in the garden eating cakes and drinking squash. That was for more important than cleaning messy bowls. Besides, preparation is the key, I'd made the pasta dish the night before. (I'm learning!)
It also dawned on me that Gary would not be offended if I chatted to him whilst chopping the salad and hoovering the tiles.
It was actually a very relaxing morning and I carried on this mood until our friends entered our home for lunch and play date.
I think, it's far more important that guests are welcomed to a house where the host is not anxious and agitated, over little things which do not really matter in the grand scheme of things. Such as, the fact I still had the cake mixing bowl in the sink.
Boy, have I come a long way in these matters. And it's so much more fun.

Tommy helping



Reminding myself to enjoy the preparation.



Cake time.


Squash time.



Play date.


Copycats.


Think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A whole new world

If you drove through my home village, you might be forgiven for dismissing it as a sleepy little dwelling, where nothing much happens.
Oh you may well admire the pretty cottages, picturesque duck pond, and charming cricket green, but really, secretly, you might be rather relived that you didn't live in such a place, as could it be slightly boring?
Yes you might write it off as one of those places where it would be fine to visit once in a while, but that's all.
I would like to say dear readers, please don't be so quick to judge, if that was indeed your reaction. Because things are not always as they first appear.
If you took your time to look closer, you will be surprised to see there is far more beyond the neat houses and hanging baskets.
There's a whole bunch of stuff just waiting to be discovered.
For instance, craft fairs in the village hall, with fresh produce from the local farm. Quiz nights in the historic pub, the one which is advertising their outside bar and barbecues for the summer. Hurray for the summer! I must also mention the garden centre, where you can sip tea among the flowers or catch a coach to a well organised event.
The park adjacent to the school is so well hidden that I stumbled across it after living in our cottage for almost a year. It's a lovely tree-lined park, with a kids playground, and goal posts and basketball court for the sporty kind.
There's a brilliant interior design shop (most of my home and garden nick nacks are purchased from this place), which is next to the furniture shop and dog grooming parlour, handy if you need a bedside cabinet and your dog trimmed, at exactly the same time.
There's a village shop and post office for all your essentials. I've stopped here a fair few times for Tommy's chocolate eggs and mummy and daddy's white wine, plus some healthy items too.
The cricket green not only caters for teams playing cricket, they also welcome friends to their club house and often hold beer festivals and family fun days.
Tucked behind the neat houses are many footpaths and rambling fields, these provided me with much joy during my maternity leave, when Tommy slept a lot whilst I tried to walk off the pregnancy pounds. I'm still trying to walk off the pregnancy pounds almost three years later, yet I still smile when I remember those sunny, peaceful days.
There's even a footpath to the forest, and if you are patient you will soon see the river where kids mess around with boats, and the field where you can grab an ice-cream and fly a kite.
Let's not also forget the hairdressers and beauty salon I visit not often enough, and look forward to my chats with Theresa and Ashley and whoever else happens to visit that day. For only last Saturday I was seated in the hairdressers, gulping my coffee (I was tired, I'm not used to sitting down and doing nothing) and discussing the May day fete. The park and village were in preparation and no-one (well all five of us in the salon) could believe that it actually wasn't raining.
"I'll be able to show off my new do, without it getting rained on, and enjoy the celebrations," said I.
Sleepy, boring village? Not us! You must be mistaking us for someone else. Or you really should pay more attention next time you drive through. For there's a whole new world, just itching to be discovered.

The day of the May day fete.





















Friday, 6 May 2016

I do believe in fairy tales

In a faraway land (about an hours drive from our home) lives a magical woodland, where fairies and elves dance. If you catch the steam train, you might be lucky enough to see them. If you look closely, you might also see Winnie the Pooh and teddy bears having a picnic.
If that isn't exciting enough, you can walk to another part of the ancient woodland, where fairies have built their houses. Please be careful, you mustn't touch their wings! But you can sprinkle fairy dust.
Trolls live under the bridge, but they're harmless really.
It's an enchanting place, where dreams can come true. All you have to do is...believe.
















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.