Monday, 29 August 2016

Hello again Clacton Pier

As I looked up at the huge yellow letters against the bright blue sky, nostalgia flooded through me.
I calculated it was approximately thirty four years since I'd last seen this stretch of the Essex coast.
A young girl, with long brown hair and freckles, and a fascination with roller coasters. Running around screaming in anticipation, impatiently queuing for pink candyfloss.
That was me.
Fast forward, quite a few years, now with husband and child.
Not so young girl, with long bleached hair, fine lines replace freckles, petrified of roller coasters. Running around fretting after my boy, impatiently queuing for kiddies buses.
That's me now.
Wow, so much has changed since those innocent, Clacton Pier, carefree days.
I've changed, my family has changed, the world has changed.
Some things have been marvelous, other things not so.
But it's inevitable, isn't it. Time proves nothing ever stays the same, yet sometimes it definitely remains still.
I couldn't help reminiscing, and smiling, as I ordered ice-creams for the beach, bank holiday weekend 2016.
Strawberry and vanilla, dripping, with chocolate flake and soggy wafer.
Sun streaming through the broken clouds, fine sand in between our delicate toes.
Dipping leather sandals in the frothy sea, collecting pebbles on our way.
Laughing, enjoying, being.
Love our life.
And let's not forget the nostalgia. Because I think it's here to stay.

Back again!

All the fun of the fair

I recognise that bus driver.

There he is again, driving to London this time.

Nice walk along the pier.

Aquarium. Tommy was very excited looking at the fish.

Back to the beach.

Fascinated with the sand and pebbles.

Me and my shadow.

Collecting pebbles to make pretty pictures.

Love this boy.

Sort of smiling at the camera. He is definitely not one for posing, when I point a camera at him he usually runs away or looks away!

Beach bar, Bottled water for three please.

Nice back drop.

Maybe see you in another thirty four years, Clacton Pier?!
Now there's a thought.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

I am summer (2016)

I am summer.
Come dance with me in the meadow,
Buttercups and daisy chain.
Lay beside me in the sunshine,
Dream away the clouds and rain.
Blow fairy dust in the blue sky,
Wish upon a blazing flame.
Sprinkle adventure in the moonlight,
Long, hazy days are here again.

Chasing butterflies (dressed as Spider-Man)

Daddy's shoulders

Hide and seek

Lawn games

Feeding ducks

Sparkly windmill

New playhouse

Strawberry lollys

Family birthday

Barbecued food

Lunch time

Hello Noddy

Beach slide

Bike ride

Cricket green

King of the castle

Taking photographs

Drinks with friends

I am summer (2016)

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The dinner party

I imagine that you would be rather relieved to hear the following situations did not occur after inviting our guests to a dinner party:
We (as in, Mark and I) did not lock our guests in our house, and place shutters on the windows, so they could not see or escape to the outside world.
The guy in the corner, who no one had ever met before, was not revealed as the man who actually did kill his wife.
We did not succumb our guests to a real life video of a woman's last dying breath.
Discussions were not held over a weird cult, with the intention of enticing our friends to become a member.
We did not poison anyone.
Or run after them with a very long knife.
I expect that you are now querying as to why these situations would be something I am mindful of at a dinner party.
It's because Mark and I watched a slightly odd (but very good never the less) film where these things featured in the plot. I quite like slight oddness, so I enjoyed the film and turned around to Mark and said, "We should have a dinner party!"
I was not hoping to copy the style of the film, merely the occasion, thus I set about inviting a small gathering to our humble abode.
We began, fairly early, with Prosecco and nibbles in the garden, making the most of the warm evening and the fact we have a very large outside seating area. Although I managed to spill a tonne of olive oil over the kitchen floor, which meant I was slipping all over the place until Mark had the bright idea of throwing sand on the floor to cancel out the oiliness. "Please mind the sand!" is probably not the greeting my guests were expecting.
However, I think you'll agree, it was nice that I did not lock my guests in the house and hide the world from them at this point.
And at this point, Tommy was still awake, in his dinosaur pajamas, yet I bribed him with smarties and Sean the Sheep, when it was time to gather around the dining area table, therefore allowing me to concentrate on our guests.
Without a whiff of a murdering stranger lurking in the corner.
First course was beef and halloumi on skewers, delicately placed on wooden board with lemon slices, flat bread, olives, tzatziki and hummus. I had decided on a Greek theme, if you hadn't realised. I am partial to a theme.
Not on the menu were any disturbing screenings of dying people, only good old fashioned food and laughter.
Next course was chicken, marinated in herbs and spices, with garlic potatoes, peppers and onions, accompanied with Greek salad and rice. They were all presented in an array of brightly coloured bowls to please help yourself to.
I realised, one day, that I am often better at presenting the food than cooking it, so I now play to my strength and excuse my weakness. With regards to this dinner party, I had lots of fun planning the overall look, whilst playing it pretty safe with the food, which was devoured during non discussions of weird cults.
Third course was chocolate mousse with strawberries and mints, a Jamie Oliver recipe that I was nervous about but pleased to report succeeded at. Allow me to explain that I trust Jamie completely, just not my methods.
Past experiences remind me that I once used lard instead of butter for apple crumble (it doesn't work), my cheesecake once collapsed and leaked all over the work surfaces, much to my horror and my guests (still not quite sure why), and how could I forget my first attempt at 'easy chocolate mousse' which was more 'easy chocolate water' due to measuring the ingredients incorrectly.
Last but not least, I compiled a cheese board, full of smelly cheese, biscuits, fruit and chutneys.
Without a side helping of poison or a long knife to chase my guests with.
See how fortunate my friends were, that there was an absence of inappropriate behavior and everyone left in one, drunken, piece.
Oh did I say there was no inappropriate behaviour?
I mean apart from the rude word that someone wrote on my chalkboard. I discovered it the next morning, but I blame that on the after dinner cocktails and thank my lucky stars that Tommy can not read.

Waiting for their arrival. Took me ages to light all the candles.

My motivational board, with fairy lights.

Chocolate mousse that was not a disaster.

Cheese board.

Big thumbs up to a good night. That's me in the middle, and I think that's my thumb.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

With love from Cornwall

The boys are back in town!

It's tradition to spend the first night at The Mermaid. A cosy restaurant where we always order a decent steak. We brought iPads with cartoons on for the boys.

First day at the beach.

As you can see, this is the year that Tommy loves Spider-Man.

Tommy and his big cousin.

Burying his legs, he thought it was very funny.

Throwing stones.

Collecting water for the sandcastle moats.

The beach at the other side of St Ives, a bit busier but very pretty.

Back to Padstow for the day. Lovely town, with harbour.

And back to this quaint village for lunch, with charming views of the countryside.

We always spend some time in Falmouth, looking at the boats and shops.

Every year we try and go somewhere we have never ventured to before. This year it was an adorable village, St Justs. Tommy wanted to wear his Spider-Man outfit, again. We browsed around antique shops and gift shops and admired the pretty church.

Tommy loved the fact there was a piano in the market square. I have no idea why it was there.

We also visited the farm. We hadn't been here before and it was a pleasant outing. Albeit smelly.

We stopped at Mark's mum's memorial bench a couple of times. It's normal procedure to take a photograph, or two.

And on the last night we always dine at the beach cafe, with a huge window overlooking the sea. And cars and iPad for the kids.

The last ice-creams of the holiday. We had to protect the boys from the greedy seagulls!

See you next year, St Ives. Look after yourself for us!