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.