Friday, 26 July 2013

Morning has broken

It would be fair to say, I have never been a morning person, and never thought I would ever be one of these morning people.
For various reasons to mankind, I’ve often struggled with the concept of getting out of bed.
When I think about these reasons, the words too cold/went to bed too late/had problems sleeping/can’t wake up/slight hangover, have always been high on my list of excuses.
I have spent years using and abusing these dilemmas. Years of rushing to the school gates, just as the bell was ringing, to signal the start of school. Followed by years of practically running to the train station, for my journey to the office, toast dangling from mouth and questioning why I can’t remove myself from my bed at a reasonable hour.
I must admit, the getting-up-at-the-last-possible-minute-lifestyle changed when I joined my current place of employment. It was a long commute and I wanted to make a good impression. So I actually set my alarm earlier than required, sneaked off to bed at normal o’clock, and rose with my alarm.
Finally, I’d cracked it!
I think it helped matters that I was leading a calmer existence. I was living back at my parent’s abode where it was no longer acceptable to be guzzling wine at a ridiculous hour with a houseful of friends.
However, I still did not particularly like mornings. The idea of being bright eyed and bubbly before 10am was alien to me. I was still kind of zombified. Dressing and eating took longer than necessary, and the thought of participating in conversation with anyone filled me with pure horror.
Then suddenly, my life and this aversion to mornings changed.
Or should I say, I fell pregnant and I became Mrs Sensible. Tiredness in the first 12 weeks kicked in, drinking was banned, and so I found myself retiring to bed earlier and earlier. Not only was I being responsible during the week, but my weekends changed me from a night owl, to can you believe I am actually saying this, a morning person.
Amazing what adequate sleep and clean living can accomplish!
I feel like a new person at the weekends, a much nicer and happier person. I no longer snooze, and snooze, until I run out of snoozing and excuses for not getting out of bed.
I wake up, I feel pretty good, and I want to get out of my bed. Yes, your eye sight has not failed you, I actually wrote that!
Okay, baby T is fond of pushing on my bladder and I have to dash to the loo, or he is pressing on a nerve and my leg is numb. So I figure I might as well get up and stay up.
The garden and the weather should also be held responsible for this personality transplant.
In the UK we are experiencing summer weather during the summer months. This is almost unheard of. We may see the sun’s rays peeking through in May, but the following months are usually grey and wet. Normally during summer holidays, Wimbledon tennis tournament and Glastonbury music festival, the weather is a wash out, worn with a light weight coat.
It’s finally a hot summer in England! It’s a pleasure to wake up with the sun streaming through the windows, to walk downstairs in our cottage and pull back the blinds. I potter around watering the flowers in the garden, and I often sit amongst the greenery with my breakfast, gazing at the scenery and smiling.
I’ve never had my own garden before, or ever contemplated eating breakfast outside, in the UK summer, in the morning!
Forgive me if I am waffling about liking mornings, but it’s quite an achievement for me.
And let’s face it, I need to make the most of this serenity before Baby T arrives.
Ask me if I like mornings when I’ve been up all night feeding, with my screaming son in my arms, probably with a little bit of his sick in my hair, and a slight glint of madness in eyes. I have been warned by friends and family that this is how it will be for a while.
Ask me if I like mornings then, as I’m wondering when I will ever have time to dress and feed myself, and I think you might know what my response will be!
Therefore, I shall cherish my new found love of these splendid mornings for as long as I possibly can.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Daisies, strawberries, and tennis racquets

Phew, never before in the history of my life has one afternoon consisted of so much preparing and organising.
We invited hubby’s family to lunch. The occassion being welcome to our new home/it’s summer let’s have a barbecue. Naturally, I wanted everything to be perfect.
Invites were sent via Facebook (with map to our house and parking facilities) and word of mouth.
Next, I planned the menu by trailing through barbecue ideas online, and al fresco dining.
I then remembered that al fresco means flies, and wasps, and I rather dislike the thought of either creature landing on my food. So I purchased ladybird decorated food covers, and daisy and strawberry themed food covers. I’m a sucker for things looking pretty.
Whilst considering the amount of people invited, it became apparent we did not have enough chairs, plates, glasses and cutlery. It would not be considered polite to expect guests to stand, or eat with their fingers. Therefore, operation chairs and eating/drinking equipment began.
The previous tenants at our cottage left behind 3 tatty stools. After staring at stools and wondering what to do with them, I realised painting them white would inject a new lease of life. And 3 more seats for our guests. Actually, I delegated this task to Mark, after he questioned whether paint fumes and pregnancy should mix. He painted them in the garden, the weekend before the afternoon, and I also asked nicely if he would mind painting the bedroom furniture white too. Luckily he didn’t mind, if I supplied him with beer and Madness songs on the iPad. Deal.
I also scouted my parent’s house for suitable seating. Here I found a lovely green wicker chair, which parent’s have now passed onto me, as I kept mentioning how much I liked it. My mum also very kindly painted another wicker chair white, for our nursery, and for another family member’s bottom to sit on.
The seating problem became more or less solved with these extra additions and a text from Mark’s cousin. She reminded me the Wimbledon final would be shown during our family lunch, and as it looked likely a British Andy Murry would be competing, could we possibly have it on in the background? The answer was a definite yes, as it meant tennis fans could sit in the lounge by the TV. Hey presto, everyone has a seat!
Pink plastic cutlery, rose patterned paper plates with matching napkins and bowls, were ordered online to avoid messy finger and lap eating.
I even purchased brightly coloured plastic cups, to prevent my pink glasses from smashing (I am always paranoid about this) and so our thirsty guests could each have a drink. See how thoughtful I am!
Polka dot bunting for our wooden area in the garden was something I’ve had my eye on for a while, and now I had the best excuse to buy it. See, I really like things to look pretty.
The garden centre, walking distance from our cottage, provided me with tubs and white, pink and purple flowers (no idea of their names, I just liked the colour) to liven up our decking area.
Okay, now it was time to spend money on the food and drink, before I cleaned out my bank account and we all had to drink tap water and eat fresh air.
A trip to the supermarket, accompanied with a very long list, was required. With a detour to Argos for light bulbs and a doorbell. We’d actually not had a working doorbell for 3 months, but this was essential for hearing our guests.
The day before the event I weeded the garden, disposed of fallen leaves, and rubbed marks off walls with a very handy magic marker for such matters, and retired to bed at a sensible early hour.
On the day of the event, after dreaming about disastrous food and drink, I awoke very early and practically jumped out of bed, shouting, “I have so much to do!”
First job was to bake cakes and this was when the first catastrophe struck. Well, it wasn’t really a catastrophe, I’d unknowingly run out of caster sugar so I sent Mark to the supermarket to buy some. Unfortunately he was too early for the supermarket, he had to wander around the streets waiting for it to open, whilst I kept looking at the clock and muttering, “Where is he?”
During his long absence I decided not to waste any further time and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and prepared the salad. Pots of coleslaw and beetroot were opened and emptied into my baskets. Onions were chopped and cheese was grated.
Finally, a hungry and sweaty hubby returned with caster sugar!
Cakes were baked and decorated, potatoes were boiled, rice was cooked, rolls were buttered, crisps removed from packets, breaded turkey unfrozen.
All food was prepared whilst barking out orders to Mark re hovering and cleaning bathroom, and I also swept, cleaned windows, wiped surfaces with disinfectant, and arranged seating and cushions in garden.
Dear readers, by the time everyone arrived, I was shattered. And very hot. It was the hottest day of the year so far, the temperature was sweltering. Us Brits are experiencing a heat wave. And we are not used to it.
After oven on for 3 hours, and bending with pregnancy bump and dodgy leg and swollen feet and ankles, all I wanted to do when they arrived was lay in a cold bath and not think about all the food and drink that I was fed up with looking at.
Of course, I was not unsociable and I did not disappear into a cold bath, I was the perfect host. At least I like to think I tried my best under the circumstances. It was lovely to see everyone, and they all came bearing gifts of flowers, chocolates, fruit cake, etc, whilst remarking how hot it was.
Plus, Andy Murray won the final of Wimbledon. The first British winner since Fred Perry some 77 years ago. Not that I care much for tennis, but I am a little patriotic about these things. It was also nice to stay out of the heat and watch some of the celebrating in the cool lounge.
So all in all, not a bad day. Although I’m not quite sure if I will be in a hurry to entertain for 19 people again for a very long time.
At least not during a heat wave and nearly 7 months pregnant.

Polka dot bunting.

Blooming tubs.


Al Fresco.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Apply within

The voice at the other end of the telephone laughed.
I politely laughed back.
We said our goodbyes and I replaced the handset on the telephone, his laughter still ringing in my ears.
He had not just hit a raw nerve with his laughter and words, he’d crashed into it, 100 miles an hour, with a fantastically hard and loud, wallop!
How’s that for impact?
Of course he was only joking.
But many a true word can be said in jest.
I glanced at the CV’s on my desk, which he was referring to.
Okay, time to lighten up.
Time to make a sensible and intelligent decision based on the facts and my professional opinion.
I’m recruiting for my maternity cover.
I must find a replacement for the 9 months I’ll be missing from my desk and up to my eyes in nappies and bottles.
It’s an important task.
I want the hand over process to be as smooth as possible.
I will be training the successful candidate before I waddle off into the sunset.
But printing and publishing experience are essential.
It would not be ideal for my replacement to make costly mistakes, and then blame their lack of knowledge or training.
Returning to work will be hard enough. Financially it’s a must, so it’s imperative I don’t come back to chaos and mayhem.
I am very particular about my responsibilities.
I take great pride in my spread sheets and organisation.
And the thought of someone messing my methodical work load makes me feel quite queasy.
So they must be experienced and organised.
They must also be an excellent communicator with internal departments and external suppliers.
A proven track record in budgets and tenders is key, problem solving skills and able to work on their own initiative is imperative.
And then I remembered the laughter from earlier, and my suppliers words came back to haunt me.
“You don’t want someone too good Nikki. They might be better than you, and you won't have a job to come back to!”
Ha, ha!
Imagine that?
I eyed certain CV’s with great suspicion.
There were degrees.
Fluent languages speakers.
Confidence in bringing new ideas and creativity to the work place.
Are these the kind of individuals who will take over, belittle and undo all my hard work, and boss me around when I return?
Surely I’m being paranoid.
My supplier was only teasing after all.
Wasn’t he?
Damn you and your laughter!
I must be responsible and employ the right person.
I should be confident in my achievements and recognition.
Yes, of course he was pulling my leg, they won’t be better than me.
Will they?
I’ll let you know how the interviews proceed.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The last one

Our last holiday as just the two of us is over.
Next time we'll be packing for and catering for another.
No more relaxing on sun loungers and partying at bars (not that I've been partying whilst pregnant).
It will be family orientated holidays from now on.
But first, let me show you our last one.

My sister-in-law's parent's Spanish villa was our home for a week.

Mark and nephew on the balcony.

The balcony with the harbour view. It's big enough for a barbeque which was one night's entertainment before playing cards.

The villa pool. For chilling and reading by.

Walking into town.

Many a morning was spent shopping.

Some stunning handmade crafts.

Now I love cheese, but this cheese stall stank!

For the sweet toothed customer.

Nice view whilst eating breakfast.

The best way to eat scrambled eggs is when looking at the sea.

The view again.

Lunch consisted of dipping doughnuts into hot chocolate. My kind of lunch!

We dined out a Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Italian. The only restuarant we didn't visit was Spanish. Funny that.

Steak on a sword.

Cocktails for Mark. Banana milkshake for Nikki.

Strolling around the town.

The castle ruin.

Sand castles.

I love beach huts.

As you can see.

I really like beach huts.

No life guard today.

And that, dear readers, was our last holiday as just the two of us for a long time.
Well, apart from my brother and sister-in-law, and nephew, holidaying with us!