Saturday, 24 June 2017

Who brought the Gruffalo?

The first barbecue of the year.
What a momentous occasion.
According to my life, it signifies the summer has officially arrived. For it is finally considered warm enough to dine in the garden.
I love lunching in outdoor space, as long as those pesky flies and naughty wasps leave me alone. I now come aided with (hearts and ladybirds) food covers, so that's one less world wide problem to worry about.
Arh the smell of burgers burning and the sting of smoke in the eyes, you can't beat it. With a cold beer or glass of wine to hand.
If you're lucky, there won't be a single drop of rain. No dashing indoors, or erecting umbrellas, or soggy paper plates. The absence of these are the best barbecues.
If you're really lucky, the weather forecast will predict your local area to remain dry with sunny periods. And it will be correct!
Side salads have never tasted so good, the abundant choice of sauces will blow your mind.
Trifle in a polka dot bowl and strawberries and cream in teacups, resting on a gingham tablecloth.
But don't forget your factor fifteen, if that orange thing is shining bright. Or you will regret it in the morning. That tell tale sign of a pink to red glowing skin will advertise the fact you happily removed your cardigan/v-neck jumper/light weight jacket.
If your al fresco experience fell on a Sunday, you could return to the office on a Monday with a hint of garlic and alcohol on your breath, back in your cardigan/v-neck jumper/light weight jacket. Umbrella just in case. Wondering if you imagined that sweaty, gluttonous, slice of heaven.
The great British barbie.
Music is optional, laughter is vital.
Sharing the experience with friends is preferable.
As are silly faces and a Gruffalo.

Preparation. Summer fruit and orange and mango through a straw.

Playing nicely before the food was ready.

Lost in their own imagination.

When you're trying to eat your lunch and some crazy kid keeps pulling silly faces.

Silly faces lunch, part two.

Who brought the Gruffalo?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Not quite Christopher Columbus

Approximately two years ago, I discovered Blackmore.
Okay, it isn't quite on the same par as Christopher Columbus discovering America.
Yet I was pretty pleased when I stumbled across the quintessential village that is Blackmore.
I couldn't love the village I currently live in any more, unless it was called Blackmore.
This is not because I imagine I am so superior I'm entitled to change village names. Nor do I think it would be best for everyone if the place I call home, is suddenly called Blackmore.
The reason being, Blackmore is a neighbouring village, and it's a beauty.
I'm thinking one day we might actually live there. Presently it's too far from my parent's house, and neither of them are keen on driving these days. Plus, we are hoping Tommy will attend the village school which is about two minutes from our cottage. And property for sale in Blackmore is few and far between, in a very high price bracket.
Besides, I love where we live. There are many advantages and we are perfectly happy thank you. I would even go as far as to say, I feel lucky to live in such a place. It's the type of area where strangers actually say hello to each other.
You can keep your busy towns, these are beneficial for shopping, I'll stick to the village life if it's all the same to you.
Maybe one day circumstances and finances will change and Blackmore will be an achievable option. You never really know what's around the corner, do you? Sometimes stuff changes beyond your control. Or a decision is made over something you have often thought about, but not sure if it was ever possible.
And we can always visit Blackmore whenever we fancy. It's a short car journey away, with delightful tearooms, antique shops, and the all important village green.
The green which hosts village fairs, great fun for all the family.

Blackmore tearoom and antique centre.

The village church. Very Midsomer Murders. Without the murders, hopefully.

Candyfloss and cold drinks at the village fair.

The longest lolly ever.

Choosing cake.

Lucky dip.

Chasing bubbles.

A bicycle made for six.

Homeward bound. What a splendid day.

Friday, 16 June 2017

More cheesy than a packet of cheese quavers

I've dated various, unsuitable, characters in my past.
But I don't wish to personally dwell on them too much.
"You've got to find someone with the same values and upbringing," my mother used to tell me.
Oh she must have frequently felt exasperated by my choices, and concerned about my future. I expect I gave her many a sleepless night.
Sorry mum.
Until I met Mark and it all clicked into place.
And my mother was right. (They often are, aren't they.) It's so important to hold the same values, and (preferably in my case) experience similarities with upbringing.
Our pasts mold us, our aspirations motivate us. And if they clash, conflict and divide, well it can be game over. With a bunch of stress and heartache along the way.
I feel as if I've finally found my tribe.
Mark and his family are the mirror images of my own. And it's a breath of fresh air, as it hasn't always been this way.
Stories of mark's childhood often remind me of my own. His parents and brother I can totally relate to, and I love the fact he too is close to his cousins, aunts and uncles, not only in bonding but in distance.
Mark's cousin's daughter married her significant one a couple of weeks ago.
We had both looked forward to the occasion. Knowing it would be another momentous day, with family, champagne, cake, and a new outfit.
Mark and I even booked ourselves into a hotel to vacate to, after the fish and chips and chardonnay.

Plus a hairdresser's appointment on their wedding day, for a hair up and down. I have never done this before, sat in a salon whilst my hair was styled for a big day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our room for the night.

Quintessential English church, the bride and her father. Otherwise known as Mark's cousin's daughter and husband.


Beautiful venue and grounds. Tommy made friends.

Lawn games.


Secret doors. Well they weren't that secret but I told Tommy they were secret gardens with adventures to be discovered. Just look at him run.

Pondering about life.

The three of us.

Dessert. Delicious.

Top table.

Mark and I messing about in hotel room.

Cheesy, I know. But I'm glad I found him. Finally.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The school summer fete

"Stop the car!" I almost screamed at Mark.
He couldn't stop the car, it would have been unsafe to do so. But he promised me he would slow down next time he passed the sign, to enable us to read its announcement.
It looked familiar, the sign I mean. Thus, I was sure it was the official signage for the school summer fete.
Oh I do love a summer fete. Particularly one which is held at the village school, approximately two minutes from our home and hopefully the school Tommy will be attending next year. (Yikes, next year! Hey, that's a whole blog post of its own!)
Such simple, old fashioned fun, the summer fete. As the years stretch by, I realise that I am a simple, old fashioned girl. So this sort of day out suits me just fine. It's one where I can encourage Tommy to enjoy the simple things in life, such as ball games, balloon chasing and making stuff.
It also doesn't have to cost a fortune, you can't begrudge a 50p entrance fee, then it's up to you how you monitor your spending with fete stalls and ice-cream vans.
This year I invited my friend Eve and her daughter Faith to the occasion. I thought it would be nice for Tommy to have a play mate, and of course for me to catch up with a dear friend.

Faith and Tommy. Forever friends.

Ice lollies and balloons- they couldn't be happier.

Checking out his wheels.

Wearing mummies big glasses.

Making magic wands.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Bubble wrap

I would like to absorb Tommy in bubble wrap, secure him in protective armour, and be able to always monitor him, where ever I may be.
In theory this is a good idea, but in practice it just ain't possible.
Instead, I will forever strive my uttermost hardest to keep him safe. I hope I succeed in creating a loving environment, one where he feels content in his surroundings, excited by his discoveries, and optimistic with his future.
And I pray that for a long, long, time he does not hear or acknowledge the word, terrorism.
I recall watching Back to the Future, in 1985, at the tender age of twelve, and for first time ever I was introduced to that word.
Bewildered by its meaning, I asked my mother to enlighten me. After she had tried her best to explain, I still didn't totally get it. How lucky was I.
Fast forward to 2017 and that word is oh too familiar.
Devastatingly so in Manchester, almost two weeks ago, on Monday May 22nd. I awoke the next day to the appalling, sickening news, of another terrorist attack.
This time, targeting and destroying innocent and vulnerable children. And parents collecting their children from the pop concert of the teen idol, Ariana Grande.
As a decent human being (and mother), I can not begin to imagine or comprehend how another human being could inflict such devastation and pure evil.
After such harrowing news, I know the majority of Manchester, England, the world, hugged our loved ones tighter, appreciated our life more.
Because we have to remember for every messed up soul there are hundreds, thousands, millions of stronger, brighter, kinder, happier ones.
Always look for the good in people, the good in the world, I am a firm believer in this.
After the tragic consequences in Manchester two weeks ago, the local community flocked to offer free taxis, accommodation, food, love, support.
We have to keep remembering this, doing this, and concentrating on this.
Terrorists want hate and division. We must unite with love and compassion.
Peace and love to you all.

Friday, 26 May 2017

I'm going for a run

"I'm going for a run."
I love saying that.
Basically, because I've always wanted to be one of those people who say they are going for a run, but never thought I would be one of those people, as I actually don't like running.
I'm rubbish at it.
Until I realised you don't really have to run, so to speak. It's perfectly acceptable to power walk or jog, this is still considered exercise.
I am in need of exercise, big time. I visit the gym in my lunch hour, when I'm in the office. But I'm only in the office three days a week, and on some of these days pesky people slip lunch time meetings into the diary.
Therefore, sometimes gym sessions are not enough. I'm loath to admit it, yet I have to - I'm a little bit fat again.
Also, I owe it to Tommy to be the fittest version of myself possible.
The nice weather helps with this running lark.
Recently, it's almost stopped raining and that big orange thing in the sky has remembered to shine again. Perfect weather for me to walk to the bottom of the garden, open the gate, then walk along the alley into our local park. This can be done whilst Mark and Tommy enjoy bath time.
I can squeeze the last drop of sunshine into my day. The park is an adequate size to run/jog/power walk around three laps, whilst nodding hello to the dog walkers and other people trying to get fit. There is gym equipment, next to the basketball court, and I have even been known to use the cross trainer, once.
It is usually alive with kids playing football and kids riding their bikes. Kids also wishing to make their day last as long as possible, at least until they have to go home to eat their fish fingers and work out their sums.
And I get some 'me' time, before I read Tommy his bedtime story. I plan picnics in the wood (spied a great picnic spot whilst running), and take in all the wonders of nature, in between dodging footballs, and hoping I don't look more than a little bit fat in my pink top.
So, dear readers, it is that time again. I have been working from home today and prepared the posh fish and chips for dinner (mackerel, with sweet potato wedges and salad - got to eat stuff like this now I am a little bit fat again). Mark is off to bath Tommy, I'm going for a run!
Or power walk or jog, it's better than nothing though, would you not agree.
Until the next one.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Those who don't believe in magic, will never find it

On some days, I chase giant friendly monsters, with bubble swords, or pretend spider webs.
On other days, I will eat plastic cakes, whilst sipping magic tea from blue and white spotted cups, surrounded by tigers and bears.
Then there are the days I fight fires and transform robots into lorries, after locking bad guys in lifts.
Or I just simply watch.
Either way, I could't be happier.
What a wonderful thing an imagination is.
I certainly encourage Tommy to use his, and if you don't mind me saying, I think he has a good teacher. For I have always experienced a weird and wonderful imagination.
And it sure beats working.

Teddy bear's tea party, with special guests.

This way to the chocolate froggies shop.

Massive fire station for Spider-Man, with a bed on the roof.

Chocolate ice-cream with rainbow drops from the ice-cream man please!

Fixing stuff in his playhouse.

Collecting sticks for magic wands.

Fighting fires. Look out for the traffic!

The big red fire truck, off to rescue the toys.

Spider-Man Tommy, before shooting his web at me and catching giant monsters.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The universe verses me

I think it should be compulsory, that on your birthday you are not expected to attend the classroom or the office.
Your birthday should always be sacred, an extra day's holiday from the government.
If, for some reason, you had to attend school or work on this day, for example there was an exam or a highly critical meeting, you would be allowed to arrange another day to be absent, to compensate. But if your headmaster or manager insisted you were present on your birthday, or placed any pressure on you whatsoever, they would in fact be breaking the law.
You would be correct in thinking that I have thought about this. Quite a lot.
Yes I often fantasise with regards to laws and regulations, if I should happen to be placed in charge of this country, the world, or the universe.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it, I have no authority at all, so you are expected to be in the classroom or office on your birthday.
Alas, it would be frowned upon to book one's birthday off at school age (I was lucky, my birthday always fell in half term). But it's nice to know there is annual leave (schedules and allowance permitting) to book one's birthday off when one reaches employment age. Or to book one's parent's birthday, to be available for outings and treats.
I booked the day off for my dad's birthday last week. We also celebrated my mum's birthday, even though her birthday was in December. Allow me to explain.
I had promised to take her to Audley End House and Gardens, and for this we wanted to wait until the gardens reopened in the month of April. There is a method in my madness.

Allow the birthday treats to commence. (In other words, see my pics below!)

Audley End, one of the greatest houses of early 17th-century England. And the little piece of history for you - in about 1605–14 Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, took an earlier house created by his grandfather Lord Audley on the site of Walden Abbey, and rebuilt it on the scale of a royal palace. Robert Adam transformed this house for Sir John Griffin Griffin in the 1760s, while Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown remodelled the grounds, to create one of England's finest landscape gardens.
I can confirm, the landscape is glorious.

What a truly magnificent building, steeped in history, surrounded in a serene setting.
Audley End House and Gardens, I salute you.

Next stop, Museum of Power.
Housed in a former water Pumping Station, the museum contains a fascinating collection, from a working overhead machine to a petrol iron.
Not quite on the scale of Audley End, but a grand building nevertheless, with a charming backdrop of trees, plants and bridges. Some interesting stuff for the kids too, we had to find the robots to obtain a prize, and lots of buttons to press and toys to play with. Plus, the best strawberry milkshake ever.