Thursday, 26 May 2016

A pinch of imagination and a splash of sunshine

Well that's the football season over with.
Oh apart from the European Championship, but I don't mind that so much as it's only once every four years, plus it's a good excuse to meet friends and be patriotic.
I love an excuse for a get together, preferably one where we can barbecue, then all shout and cheer at the telly. No I don't mind European Championships and even World Cups, especially if England actually haven't been knocked out.
The season I'm referring to is the September to May months where I loose my husband and car every Saturday. Mark is football mad, plays in a local team on these Saturday afternoons, then watches every match possible on the big screen. Therefore Tommy and I amuse ourselves on Saturdays, thank you very much.
But now it's over and I have reclaimed my husband and car! Which means we are a (mobile) family again ALL weekend, with a whole bunch of stuff to delve into.
As long as we remember not to spend too much money. Because outings these days can cost a small fortune and alas we do not hold a never ending supply of money.
Although I've always believed, with a pinch of imagination, and hopefully a splash of sunshine, you don't necessarily have to spend big to have lots of fun. Some of the best pleasures in life are free.
I think we proved this fact last Saturday when myself, Mark and Tommy, took a trip to the footpath down the road, the one which leads to the forest.
It was time to see what mysteries and adventures we could unravel. And it didn't cost a thing, except the £2 for Tommy's ice-cream at the bottom of the forest.
Now you can't begrudge a kid a £2 ice-cream, can you?

The path to mysteries.


Collecting flower fairies and making wishes.


On the look out for forest dragons.


I wonder if pixies live in this tree?


Time to rest.


My boys.


Searching for ducks.


Collecting stones.


Pretending to be a giant.


Buttercups.


Races.


Ice-cream time.

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.