Friday, 23 November 2012


I'm having trouble with reaching 100% capacity for my photos. It happened once before but I just deleted lots of photos! I downloaded photobucket earlier to have a go with that- but it keeps getting an error message importing photos from my facebook page. So not entirely sure why and need to look at that when I haven't got a screaming banshee howling in my ear. Em is not a happy bunny at the moment. We've ordered a sims 3 game for Christmas and she's stalking the postman. I ordered a duplicate game which hasn't helped matters much.

Amy has taken an interest in baking- and plans to make biscuits or cakes every week with Emma. It's the first time she's EVER shown an interest in involving Emma with everything- so needs encouraging. SHe's bought the entire bakery aisle in Tescos and has emptied one of my cupboards to fill with baking things. Last night she had a go at her first mince pies

It's been a much better day today than yesterday. Yesterday we had gales and one of the fence panels is down - so we can't let Holly out unaccompanied- and she's not keen on being observed!! Mum had to rescue some gnomes that fell off one of the stalls in the christmas market- and the stall holder didn't even say thanks!

It has been lovely borrowing a company car for the last few weeks. Not exactly sure why Guy has it- but it is nice and cosy on winter mornings. Last night it had to stay at work because someone needed to use it for company business. That's the way they use their company cars- the senior management have company cars- but if it's needed for company business whoever needs it takes the car. Anyway this morning it was really frosty and I was yearning for those heated car seats (how quickly you can get used to luxury)! We were in our (much older) car - and we were able to see the silver lining- as it has a heated front windscreen and it cleared much quicker than the newer one. So ready to go a lot quicker!!!!!!! Guy does like our car- although it's old it's a high end of it's year and lovely to drive. He keeps criticising little things about the newer posher car- as if to justify us having an older car!!!!!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Free Choice

One of Emma's countdown calendars- it's getting closer today so it doesn't seem so strange to be having to talk about it every morning. We have it every day for a few months. She's also keen to remind us what 'traditions' we've got to make sure are ready. She wants the same people to visit and the same food to be served. We have to drive the same route- EVERYTHING has to be the same!

I was really pleased with myself yesterday. My mum has wanted a Christmas tree that's like a proper 'branch' tree - with little petal lights on. We've seen them on sale for over 100 pound at the cheapest. I had a sale leaflet with a 6ft one for sale for 27 pound. We always try to buy something as a thank you for having us over Christmas- and I'm hoping this will be a nice version of what she wants.

My book club had a lovely selection of Christmassy books- so I'm all ready to get into the festive spirit now.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


There could only be one subject for playful. I did try to get her playing- but she was just a whirl flying past. Amy and I went christmas shopping this morning round the cheapy shops for filler ideas. We bought Holly a few new toys- unfortunately she was in the car when we met Guy and she KNEW that there were new toys. If bombs were made of dog toy material - Holly would be their 'ACE' dog. She'd smell it a mile off. So she had her face between the seats from the boot area looking all excited. Then she pranced down the garden path and up to the kitchen counters. So she had to have one of her new toys. Normally I try to buy her stuff when I meet my mum and she takes it back to her house. Holly goes totally bananas over a new toy smell. One year she opened ALL the presents under the tree looking to see if any of the others were ineresting or edible. She is like a bottle of pop over Christmas and holidays. She gets so excited. I did a pet scrapbook challenge where you had to put what your pets theme tune would be. Hers would be 'Don't stop me now because I'm having such a good time'- with the line I'm about to explode!
The only way I could get her photo was to ask her to go to her bed. We have finally got Holly back to normal after the fireworks- although she's still not happy to go outside. The other day the refuse collectors were throwing the bin bags in peoples front gardens and as soon as she heard those landing we had to head back home.

This is the first time I've remembered to take the fence in the daylight. The fuschia is still flowering like mad. It's been out almost constantly this year.

Books- I tend to use my kindle most of the time now. But Costco had a lovely Christnas collection that is being split up to go with people's pressies this year. Holly always buys everyone a book for Christmas- so 3 of us will be having one of these!

I found some really cute little christmas tins in Home Bargains today- they were less than 50p. They only had 3- but I thought I could make a little winter survival tin- with lipsil, tissues- and then drawing a blank- but looking for a jokey sort of idea! Then I decided they would look cute on the table as the table pressies. We usually make something to hold xmas chocs and a lottery ticket for my mum. So I am now on the lookout for more. It's the first time I've ever been in there. We got matching baubles- which we will fill with choccies.

I went looking for stocking filler pressie ideas for my mum and managed to get bags of stuff without much for her!!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012



 I met my mum today and we had a wander around the German Christmas market. I love walking around before it gets too busy. We had lunch- fried mushrooms and potato with garlic sauce. Absolutely delicious!

It feels uplifting when the market arrives- everyone is happy, it's really pretty and it means that Christmas is on it's way.

All I bought today though- was my own present off my mum and dad. I bought a big bottle of my favourite perfume from Boots. They had a promotion on for 12 pound of points if you spent 50 pound. So I am building up my points to get another bottle of perfume. When the girls were little we used to buy all the toiletries and things from Boots and every year I'd have a bottle of perfume with my points!! I haven't had my perfume for a while- using cheaper options. A few weeks ago I tried the tester bottle and that was fatal because I had to have a bottle then! So I didn't manage to buy anyone elses present! I did buy a couple of stocking fillers for everyone.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


A great theme for us today- we actually managed to get to the open day of Guy's grandma's old house. It was wonderful to walk around and see what the new owners had done and what they'd changed and what had remained the same. Most of the inside of the house was visually stunning. Whether we'd have chosen what they'd chosen is a different matter. They had tartan carpet on the sweeping staircase- which didn't give the old house feel. The new bathroom was gorgeous. THe cellar looked like an old fashioned pub- it had working beer pumps and lots of 'drinking' displays, a snooker table and a snug area. It would be perfect in a small hotel. Not something I'd have chosen for me- but obviously the owners taste- even the log cabin had a billiard table in it. Guy was walking round- and a couple of elderly gentlemen were there to look at the architects work. One lived in another house by the architect and the other had travelled quite a distance just to see his work. One of the gentleman used to go to Guy's grandpa as his gp 50 years ago!

This really is my 'dream' home and a trip of great nostalgia for Guy today. This is the back view of the house and I remember sitting out here when visiting Grandma in the summer.

They have done a huge raised decking area outside the back of the house which I actually think takes away part of the garden's charm. We said that if we ever won the lottery that the decking would be removed- apart from maybe the one side. They had one area with picnic benches, comfy garden chairs, benches etc- which I would maybe keep!!!!!! But the more formal area has a covered table to eat outside and then a vast area of unused decking- that used to be gently sloping, tiered garden slopes with weathered stone steps.

This is the log cabin which will be my craft room!!!!!!!!! Lottery win permitting tonight!

Cellar- as the games room/bar/snug
One of the ensuites.

\The coach house.
Anyway- that was our trip down memory lane today. Guy's mum and his sister also managed to get over there before the viewing ended and thought exactly the same about the new decking area!
My other photo is suitable for thoughtful. We also went to view a college today. When I spoke to the dean I got a very positive feel about the place- even though it is currently subscribed and has a waiting list. She told me that they were looking at opening another placement. The college was dreamed and put into being by 2 parents who wanted a suitable place for their children. As such it is not a council run college. It is based in a rennovated farm house and if I could have pictured somewhere perfect in my mind for Emma to go- this is it. It's in a rural setting - the college is opposite fields with horses in. The staff were all pleasant and eager to speak to us. We were encouraged to see the young adults there- even the ones with 'challenging' behaviour- so we could judge whether this would be a fit for Emma. They also keep them until they are 25- which is unfortunately part of the problem. Once they get a place they aren't going to give it up. They only have 24 students.
She told us honestly that there probably wasn't much chance of us getting a place there- but we put her on their waiting list. If the new building is up and running by September Emma is no 8 on the waiting list- and as such would be guaranteed a place there. But she also told me if it was her child- she wouldn't keep her at home waiting for this placement to be available. But if she's in another place she'd be less likely to get a place here. We have to put it as first choice even though there is a chance we won't get a place. It is exactly what I want for Emma. It's given me a lot to think about- especially about the fight we'll have ahead to put Emma's case that she needs such a placement and about whether I keep her out of education until this place becomes available- or run the risk we settle for second best and then can't get her moved.!
Guy even knew one of the teaching assistants - he used to belong to the swimming club Amy swam at. He's always said that if he could think of anyone perfect for this work it would be this lad.
We now need to think of the best way to ensure that we get this place for Emma. It might even be against the connexions ladies advice. I've got to go and see the other specialist colleges and the other 'mainstream' colleges with units- just so I have seen and made a decision on them all.
Guy and I had a lovely evening out last night aswell. We went to an Italian restaurant called Pinnochio with a Groupon voucher and the food was delicious. I wasn't very adventurous but so glad I had my choices- stuffed mushrooms and lasagne. The lasagne was like nothing I'd ever tasted before! We finished off the evening by going to see the new James Bond film- Skyfall. I'm not a particular James Bond fan- but did really enjoy this one.

Monday, 12 November 2012


We don't normally have Tropicana- but it is really lovely and refreshing to drink in the morning.

This was my initial thought today- and had to go and buy them just for the photo!!!! But it can also serve for Memories. They used to be my favourite childhood sweets and I've seen a lovely yellow mug that might have to come and join us at Christmas.

I've got to go back into work again tomorrow to take MORE tests and get signed off on opening accounts again. I haven't been paid for any of the overtime I've done recently- but making sure I claim anything else I do. They only pay us until 3.30 and I wasn't out until nearly 4 this Saturday. I need them to decide what they want to do with my contract. I was told I hadn't worked enough hours last year- which is why I haven't claimed even though they wrote it off. My sales targets go up if I claim overtime aswell- even if I was training and not on the counter! They changed the contract I initially agreed and the hours on the new contract are almost impossible to figure out. My new boss thought I was entitled to MORE holiday than I've claimed before because of my length of service

I spoke to the specialist college this afternoon and have an appointment on Wednesday. It sounds perfect for Emma- unfortunately the intake they tookin Sept are at full capacity until they leave in 3 years. So it's probably unlikely that they actually will place her. But they also are looking at getting a new venue- so I think I need to go and get my heart set on it and then hope it works out. I have phoned round a few more colleges to go and see them. I need one with a smaller campus that provides more supported learning. It is still churning me up inside. It's like filling out the disability forms again. The lady was asking about her behaviour and I was there making excuses and she said that if we get a social worker referral I have to again put a worse case scenario before them in order that the LEA will provide enough funding to pay for the extra hours. They only provide a certain amount of hours.

The funding for disability and education is a joke. If all the families coping with a disabled child decided that they just could not cope and that child had to be placed into residential care- it would cost an absolute fortune- but they don't put any funding into helping those families cope with sometimes very stressful situations. I really do not know what will happen with Emma if we don't find the right placement. I asked the connexions adviser today- and she said it would be possible for me to pull Emma out and then look at supported training venues.

But talking to the lady at this college- she was interested in Emma's disability and said she would be reassessed and there are devices that could be purchased for her- that would speak for her. I have bashed my head repeatedly against a brick wall to get Emma further speech therapy provision where she is- but because she is selective mute they refuse to provide further support. A speech and language therapist is supposed to provide communication support aswell- it is SOOOO frustrating to know that she needs more help but they won't fund it. I fought to get her more speech therapy- the provision is rubbish. The education pay for speech therapy provision- but that doesn't cover sickness cover. So if a speech therapist goes off sick or has a baby- there is no cover. Emma had a brilliant speech therapist at primary school- but she had 3 babies in 3 1/2 years- so she wasn't actually in school for that long with her maternity leave. I know it's wrong- but every time I got to see her and I could see she was having another little baby I'd be disappointed- rather than really happy for her!!!!!

But it just goes to show that if you happen to be in the right place at the right time- the support IS out there. You just need to know who you have to fight to get it. It really upsets me that in one short conversation with the college head/dean- I've learnt more about what Emma should have had been entitled to as a right as I have trying to sort it out from within the confines of a 'special school'. I feel like I've let Emma down.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Emma is Christmas obsessed. She always has been (probably gets it from her mum). We were lucky that we got to keep the 'magic' of christmas alive for a lot longer than many children. Even when dh decided that it was time for her to know- she still refused to completely give up her belief!!! She's autistic- so routines are important to her. So Christmas Eve has to follow a set routine- we have to eat exactly the same things, hopefully have the same people over to visit, drive the same route over to my parents where we have to have a Chinese meal and a carrot cake from Costco.

This morning when we were getting her magazines they had the xmassy chocolates on offer- so I had to get some to help Santa along. I was pondering on the change in Christmasses when they were tiny. I remember Emma opening her stocking and carrying a tiny pair of socks around with her. We bought loads of pretty and cute things- but the socks were what caught her attention. Another year Amy wanted a yoyo for Christmas. That's ALL she asked for and even the department Santa said he was sure we could get something a bit bigger for her! It was the yoyo that she carried round with her.

I've been buying some stocking fillers as I go along- and thought I'd use it as the photo of the day as I'd just bought the choccies. It's interesting to see how the items change as they get older. Now we have to get things that they will use or need- because they think stockings are a bit childish. But Emma still sees that as a highlight. I also saw it as a highlight when Santa delivered a stocking for Guy and I a few yea- the thrill of opening one was STILL there. It's now a new tradition that everyone receives one and the fun is in getting things that they will use mixed with some fresh Christmas magic.

It's only 46 sleeps now- we've been on Christmas countdown since September with Emma. The first thing we used to do with a new calendar was add the counted back days from Christmas- so that we'd be able to answer her. She has a countdown ornament permanently in her room- it can only cope from 99 days though!

I'm off to Costco for lunch in a moment- and will enjoy looking at all their goodies afterwards!

Thursday, 8 November 2012


I've started having a new collection of Baking books delivered. Now we're up to issue 4 and I haven't actually cooked anything from one of them yet! Must put that right soon! The latest copies came with a dotty apron which would have been perfect the other day!

We recently had a conversation on facebook about comfort foods and Kathi said she loved rice pudding. Rice pudding is one of the things that I can't face- and I remember that one of my friends at school had to be my official rice pudding eater. We weren't allowed to leave any food. That friend posted back to say that I wasn't so keen to have an official eater for chocolate concrete with pink custard. Then this week a Birmingham poster posted a photo of chocolate concrete and my friend posted the recipe. Soooooo- think we'll try that this week!

8oz plain flour; 2 oz cocoa (can use flavoured chocolate drink); 4oz sugar; 4oz melted butter.................mix all dry ingredients then add melted butter and mix. Put into a greased 7" tin and cook on gas 3 for approx 45 mins. Dead easy.

I also saw a competition to win this on facebook- and for some reason it really appealed to me and made me want to try to make one. One of my friends has offered me a wire wreath. I have some wired ribbon from Costco already- I quite like this gingerbread version- but I have plenty of unused christmas ornaments that I was thinking of throwing out this year when the decorations come down. I might see if I have anything colour themed that I could try to make something similar!! I even went to the site to see how much they are - but at  $200 I don't think we'll be ordering one. They have lots of different ones- but I think we have some teddies dressed in ice blue- so mine  might be ice blue!!!! If it doesn't make this year- maybe next!!!!!!!!
I forgot to update how Guy got on at the hospital. He hasn't got a fracture- he's severely bruised the muscles around the bone in his lower leg. He should take a week off and completely rest- but it will probably take 6 weeks to heal completely. The examinations and x rays have made the pain worse at the moment. But I'm glad he went to get it xrayed just to rule out a hidden fracture. But he won't be taking a week off- as he's stressed enough about keeping on top of the work as it is. The director at work is off for a week and they haven't asked for the company car back yet- so we've got it for at least another week. There was talk that they might not send this one back- keep it for when the next person entitled to a car changes his. It is a complete novelty for us to have a newish car- at least for a while! Our neighbour thought it belonged to someone else and had been parking right up it's bumper thinking someone was parking near his house. We have another long term parked car outside our house and now having 2 cars to park- means one has to go across the road.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Holly has agreed to be the living 'creature' for today!!!!!!!!!!! This is actually from last night. This is firework mode. She has been worse this year than she's ever been. This is her cuddle t shirt which usually manages to calm her enough to sit with one of us. But she's been twirling round not knowing what to do with herself. When the huge fireworks go off- she bolts and tries to find the smallest dark space she can. She's discovered that she can commando crawl under Amy's bed. She finds it more difficult to get back out again. She has also started sleeping on our bed. This has undone 12 years of great training. She has never been an upstairs dog. She does excitedly dash upstairs sometimes- but she's always known to stay downstairs.

In some ways it's lovely to see her happy face as soon as you wake up. BUT she sleeps horizontally on my side of the bed- so I can't lie down! She also hogs the covers!!!! I do want to keep her sleeping downstairs as we have enough hair everywhere downstairs! But she has been so distressed for the past couple of weeks that we can't get her downstairs. Hopefully everyone has run out of fireworks- so she'll have a peaceful evening tonight.

Guy's grandma used to live in a beautiuful house in a Village Trust area. It was also a doctors surgery- as his grandpa was the local gp when they first lived there. If I could have won the lottery when they sold up to go into a sheltered retirement appartment complex I would have bought it in an instant. It's my idea of a dream home. It has a seperate garage block that they did want to turn into a sort of 'granny flat'- but the village trust refused permission. They aren't allowed to chop trees or anything without permission. It had tiered gardens going down old weathered steps. At the bottom they'd had tennis courts when they played. His aunt had a 'deb' party in the cellar and it had servants bath area in the attic which had really cute staircase leading up to them. It was like a home in the Narnia books- an ideal place for little children to explore. You could imagine it having the magical wardrobe in one of the spare room. It has a huge sweeping staircase which you can just imagine a bride coming down.It had a huge hallway and at Christmas she had a huge Christmas tree in the open stair space. Our children were invited over occasionally when the Portugese cousins were over and it was lovely to watch them run around the grounds as if they were in a park. We also have lovely photos of them around a piano at Christmas.

To be honest an invitation from 'GRANDMA' used to worry me sick. She did formal dinners with hundreds of knives and forks and things I'd never eaten before. Grandma was very 'upper class' and I was a bit overawed by her. She's also hyper critical of her 'favourites' partners- so it was a bit scary thinking you were being judged and found wanting. Guy did used to be one of her faves- but we were always judged favourably- at least to our faces. I think hand written thank you letters and pressies went a long way there.

The people who bought it own several houses on the street which are retirement/care homes. They bought his grandma's to live in. It's now up for sale again- and it has an open viewing between 12-2pm today. I would LOVE to go and see what they've done to it. Previously it was a bit of a time warp- which in some ways was part of it's attraction! But it could be a stunning house. BUT it's far enough away that I can't really risk going. If my sil was going to get there for 12 I would have tagged along. But if we were still there at 2 I'd be in a panic  I wasn't going to get back for Em. There was also a huge fire in the area this morning that has closed roads. So although it's where I would love to be today- I won't be going. Tina is going and I did have an invitation to tag along. I hope she lets us know what it was like.

My dad had an eye appointment this week- he's now partially sighted. The consultant said that the damage done to one eye with the laser treatment he had to have for his eye condition has scarred the eye- so nothing can be done there. But his 'better' eye has a cataract that he could remove. He thinks he could improve his sight which would make reading easier- but there is also the risk it could turn him completely blind. His brother was blind in his later years. It's a big decision and I think with his other health issues the risk of going blind might be too great to risk. He trips and falls a lot now- and if he couldn't see at all that would be a worse problem. He has another leg ulcer from a fall not healing- so he can't have his knee replacement until that heals. I just wish I could take all his health problems away so that they could enjoy getting out and about- or just stopping in and enjoying his reading.

Guy's also going to the doctors about his knee today. Something fell on it at work and he thought he'd bruised it- but it's not healing or easing. So he is going to get it checked. Hope that's something easilyt treatable.

Update- the doctor thinks Guy's knee is a muscular problem and he could do with a week off to rest it completely. But he can't rule out a fracture- so he's going to pop to A&E for an xray. He asked for a half day off- and we popped to see his grandmas house only to find out it's  not until next week!!!!!! But we could see some work they'd done in the garden- and the lady kindly gave us a brochure- which is amazing. Unfortunately it won't photograph well- but just adding a couple of photos so you have an idea why it's my dream home. It's grade 2 listed apparently. It now has a full snooker table in the appointed games room/bar- which was the cellar.

Shows the 'coach house' which is apparently what the garage is called- was built after the main house. It even names the architect!

Bad photo of the 'drawing room' which is where the piano used to be. Looks a lot brighter than grandma's day!

It has a 30ftx17ft log cabin in the garden (almost the ground floor area of my house!). The top area has been decked and it also has summer houses etc. The log cabin can be my craft room!!!!. Only now it would require a lottery win to buy it!!!!!!! Must buy a ticket this weekend! Good job we've still got Guy's car from the company- so we didn't look too out of place in the drive! We both wore our posh black coats! He looks quite posh in his!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Dotty- this is my 'to do' notebook. It has various lists- things that need to be done that day, books I've seen mentioned that have to join my tbr list, xmas present list (i know!), the food I've managed to grab off my mum's xmas day shopping list. Yes my mum is a master list maker- which is where I got it from. She tends to buy for xmas as she goes along- so in order to stop her paying for everything I've had to cross half of her list off and put it on a list I'll be able to find when I get round to buying it! I have 'best' notebooks- but then one like this one that I don't mind writing lists in that can be crossed out as they are done. It's time for a new notebook for next year.
I'm already writing lists for the bits and pieces I have for the stockings. The girls have to have the same- as they all wake up in the same house and Santa can't be more generous to one! My sister and I also fill a stocking for my mum and dad and we need lists so that we don't buy the same things.

Bright- my toiletry bag is still hanging in the bathroom. Reminder to self- it really needs to be put away!!!!!!!

Paper- this could have been any of the vast scrapbooking store I have- but this is a selection of my favourite cookery books on the bookshelf.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


I've had to resort to another old photo for 'group'. My favourite type of group-meerkats!

Things have been hectic- dashing around getting nowhere fast.

Guy was supposed to do two college open days today. I got Emma ready before I left for work. Left the addresses and paperwork ready for them with postcodes. THey managed to miss the time on the first one- why they weren't there for 10 I have no idea. How did he think they'd fit 2 in unless they arrived when they were supposed to. then he didn't hvae a satnav with him- so they couldn't find the 2nd college.

I was so annoyed when I got back. We only have one car- the open days are on Saturdays when I have to work. I thought I'd left PRECISE instructions of what they had to do.

I have to provide evidence that we have visited, we have to get one college to assess her to 'admit' they can't meet her needs- so that they are more likely to get a funded placement somewhere. The whole thing sends me into a tizzy of panic. Then they don't even go to the first ones.

He's got no holiday left- so he won't be any help visiting, asking questions and helping me. The whole issue really panics me. I don't know what will happen to her if I can't get a good placement. I can't see her ever being able to work independantly and in turn that really means that I'll never be able to get full time work. They are talking about stopping dla and replacing it with another benefit. DLA wouldn't be enough for Emma to live on.

When we got back today- Holly had managed to get herself trapped in the toilet and then was rushing around in a mad panic because of the fireworks. She has her t shirt on now- and we've had to make her a tent to hide in. She managed to drop off to sleep and was snoring. She feels secure if she's in something dark where the fireworks can't find her. She is really fretting this year.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


Work was hectic today- the christmas shopping rush has definately already started in Birmingham.

The heating at work is still broken- so they have industrial heaters trying to keep the place bearable. But with automatic doors- anyone approaching make them fly open. They were queueing round the block for Waterstone next door- to get a wrist band to come and queue again on Thursday to meet Olly Murs at a book signing. The temperatures dropped below freezing overnight - they were there with deckchairs, fleecy blankets and hats- but they must have been freezing. That's dedication for you. One customer came in and said that she and her daughter had the last 2 tickets to queue to get the wristbands! The girls behind them were still queueing on the off chance that they might change their mind.

Guy has been lent a company car to play with this weekend because they made the finance director redundant yesterday! Boys and their toys. I must admit it was lovely this morning- as it has heated seats. I've never been in a car with those this morning- and it was nice and toasty. Can see the attraction of that feature- if we ever manage to upgrade our elderly version. He's already said that we must go somewhere tomorrow in it. I do fancy going somewhere to try and capture some autumn colours before the leaves all completely drop.

I saw the word this morning- and wasn't sure what to take. Then on the way home from work we popped into Costco to get Holly some food. We have to have a little wander round- because there's always something interesting especially when they have their christmas stock in. I walked round and spotted these 'crooked' teapots!!!!!!!! I might even be able to pour a cup without spilling any using one of these!!

Friday, 26 October 2012


We don't have much orange around the house- even though it's a lovely warming colour! My mum used to have a BRIGHT orange spare room- and ever since then it's a colour I tend to shy away from! BriNylon bedspread and everything! It's not even one of her favourite colours.

A house around here has painted the exterior (pebbledash- so entire frontage) a dark peach colour- but she also has orange stiped nets- so I guess it's one of her favourite colours.


Anyway- had this tasty 'satsuma' with my lunch. Costco do amazing fruit- so we tend to buy these in a small box!

The Halloween bucket is ready for next week to give the sweets out to trick or treaters. I made special trick or treat bags last year- but this will just be filled with packs of chocolate buttons (from Cadburys trip earlier this month!) and sweets.

We went to see Madagascar three yesterday- and the cinema was freezing cold and the temperature had dropped outside when we came out- it was really bitter. Weather reports vary from us having sun- to experiencing wintry frosts- so not sure what to expect.

I was absolutely horrified to hear that the zoo we recently visited had had to sack three of the elephant keepers for cruelty. I had to read more about the story- and they had been beating the elephant we saw with bamboo canes. Now when I stood there enthralled- they were training them with bamboo canes with rubber on the end. They said that the elephant had learnt to put their foot up on the pen in 4 days. When I read the article- it suggested that the 3 men had been dismissed in September- which would actually tie in- with new keepers training them in the last 4 days. So I don't think that the keepers we saw were the ones that were sacked. The vet there was saying that she was delighted that they'd learned so quickly so that she could inspect their feet for treatment.

Part of the reason that I have mixed feelings about zoos is because of stories like this- and I know when we went there I was actually impressed to see great relationships between the keepers and the animals that I saw together. Especially the lad with the llamas! The reader comments saddened me suggesting that the zoo wasn't a great place to visit. They had recently moved the giraffes and the explanation was that they weren't happy with the enclosure- even though it still met current zoo specifi3cations-  they wanted better conditions for their giraffes. Some parts of the zoo probably are  a little outdated now- I'd guess it was a 60's design- but the newer enclosures were more the sort of 'wild' design I prefer to see.

They are planning on bringing in big cats- so will be interesting to see what they have planned for them. I have to admit that I have big reservations about big cats in captivity. Our local safari park has healthy looking cats- so I don't mind to see them there- but I hate to see caged cats pacing up and down all day.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

B/W Free Choice

I've fallen by the wayside again lately- just seems so much to do around here! The girls are on half term which usually means clearout sessions. I've been really brave and parcelled up another couple of boxes for the charity shops. We are now down to the books I think I WILL read one day. I have enough on my kindle to last about 4 years- so I need to be more ruthless. I still use the library for recent releases and biographies. But since I joined the ebook club - I have bought bundles of books and can now choose 4 books a month- and that will probably keep me in reading for the whole year without any extra books!!!

Next step is to try and prune some of my crafting supplies. I haven't crafted in so long. Last night a friend and I challenged each other to complete some sort of Christmas album this year- either December Daily or Shimelles Prompts. I usually get to Dec 17th with Shimelles prompts. Anyway I decided a  page for the worst present you ever received- but because hers came from her inlaws- she's doing the best pressie! The idea came from the Jenny Colgan competition on the Tescos book blog. You can try to win a Tiffany bracelet by telling them about your worst present.
Mine remains a green crochet poodle door stop from my great Aunt Bet- and I've always meant to do a scrapbook page for it. I found some images online and even a pattern to knit one. This version is a cuter version of mine- mine was more a charity shop lime green crochet version and definately NOT cute for a 12 year old. Up until that age I had a Rupert Annual every year- I really wish I'd kept those because they are worth a fortune now.
My great Aunt Bet was a wonderful woman. She married and lost her husband fairly young- but they lived in America for a while. When she got back- she was volunteered to look after the mum because she was on her own- which she did for the next however many years. She worked in a charity shop until her 80's , fell and broke her hip and unfortunately had to go into residential care then. Whilst she was there- she was always in the kitchen peeling potatoes and making tea for the poor old dears!!!!!!
But everyone had a present every year- either recycled from something she'd received or from the charity shop. I don't remember most of the presents I had when I was young- but we tend to remember hers! There was a light hearted competition to see who won the Aunty Bet competition each year. My poodle won that year. But you know what- I now wish I still had that poodle and I am soooooo tempted to ask my mum to knit me one for the memories!!!!!!
I also had a chat online with Michelle last night- as I've just discovered Pinterest and have pinned a few things to try or drool over. We've challenged each other to complete something off the boards! She's challenged me to make the apple cake and she's making teriaki chicken!
One of my best friends was in touch this morning. Her daughter has just left university. She's only had a couple of weeks of lectures- but has a close boyfriend and think she missed him too much. She wasn't settling, was really down and wasn't happy.
Right back into a bit more decluttering!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Cement- now this is going to be a really tenuous link and if I find a photo of cement that truly fits the theme today- I'll come back and add it!!!!! But can't think of anything for cement. We did borrow next doors cement mixer years ago- but don't think he'd agree to trundle that round just so I can take a photo- and not sure where the photos are that we DID take when we borrowed it! My dad built us a wall- and the girls were allowed to lay foundation stones- so they weren't THAT boring!!!!!

My dad used to be a builder, then a site foreman and he ended his working days in charge of the apprentices training schedules. He trained as a bricklayer and taught bricklaying to other soldiers when he was doing his National Service. The officers would use the squaddies to build certain things that were needed rather than employ people!  He has a leather photo album from that time of 'bricklaying' photos with photo corners and writing- the first 'scrapbook' I probably ever saw.

He also used to lecture on 'cement' at the local college. It must have been a fascinating subject(???!!!!) - but there is a lot more to a bag of cement than you might first think!!!!!!!

He's been in charge of various concrete car parks built around the area- the really ugly ones!!!!! But architecture has come on a long way since the late 60's and 70's when concrete  really was the buzz word!

He does tell stories of his days before Health and Safety was the 'watch word'. They used to climb up the huge cranes and across the arm to the 'bucket'. They also used to walk along the scaffolding - something that would have me clinging to the first one for dear life. I don't know whether my fear of falling has a foundation in listening to all these stories as a child!!

Anyway- this is a photo of my mum and dad - reposing for some Golden Wedding photos using the special glasses they had- and the balloons! Mum loves balloons!

One side of the all my dad built for us. I don't use our front door at all- so hadn't realised how much garden work is needed!!!!!!!!!! So need to do a little bit every day from now on!!! Both sides used to have walls that joined onto ours- but unfortunately there were vandals who knocked down the garden walls in the area- so ours is now just a frontage!!!!! I hope they keep their vandal hands off it- it's the last thing my dad ever built. I think the problems he has with his hands- could have something to do with all the years of 'cutting' bricks to size by hand.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Another one from yesterday- as they are more picturesque than the ones at home.
I've been at work today and it was one of the line managers last day- so quite sad. They do move them around- so she could be back at some point. They are very short at work at the moment- which is why I'm doing some extra hours. I can't work as late as they need me to- but they had to recruit in from other branches today to keep the counter staffed! We've got 2 new starters to replace staff who've got new jobs- but it takes time to recruit and train them. They aren't allowed on the counter until they've done all the training and been on a course. Then they need to be trained on the till- which the customers don't like. We are going to have a very busy lead up to Christmas.

We;ve just watched Battersea and they said that a 12 year old dog is the equivalent of 84. It made us smile to think of an 84 year old racing round the park like Holly does! She is supposed to be taking a sedate lifestyle now- but I don't think we will ever change her. She loves to run and jump and chase and swim. I think it would be more cruel to stop her enjoying herself- than trying to keep her legs protected. But it's hard to know what we ought to do. She's definately not in pain or struggling since she started on her medication- but to improve her condition she is supposed to be taking 10 minute walks. If she's off the lead- you can't stop her chasing around or finding some water to jump in. She wants to play all day- she brings toys to you where ever you are in the house or garden. She thinks that is all everyone wants to do. It's who Holly is- so is Holly right- or is the vet!

Sunday, 14 October 2012


We had a lovely day in Stratford Upon Avon today. A while ago we bought a groupon offer to go and visit the Shakespeare properties and the offer ran out next weekend- so we made the most of the good weather. We found out that the ticket means we can go back as many times as we want for the next 12 months. We will go and see Anne Hathaways cottage and Mary Ardens house on another day. We will probably visit the ones we saw today in the Spring or Summer to take photos in the garden, This one is Hams Hall- a mansion house. At the moment the top structure of the house is having to be supported by metal joists as all the woodwork on it needs to be treated or replaced.

This one is the street outside- all the streets in Stratford are wonderful.

One of the scculptures in the garden

Nash House/New Place. They are carrying out an archaelogical dig here and the archaeologist was an inspirational speaker. I love to see people who love their job. She was describing what they've found there- and that Birmingham Uni confirmed that they had discovered soil samples from an iron age settlement, They are digging in the spot where Shakespeares house once stood. The man who bought the property became sick of people knocking on the door and the government demanding that he pay a full tax on a property he only lived in for a  small part of the year- that he demolished the house! There is a mulberry tree in the garden that comes from a cutting of trees that once stood in the same grounds. The same man cut that down aswell. The archaeologists want to chop the tree down - so that they can dig around where it stands- but there is resistance and they've lost 2 appeals!

One of the water features by the River Avon. We had a lovely cup of coffee overlooking the river this morning- enjoying the sunshine.
I've wanted to see a gold post box ever since the first one was painted. Today- by chance we came across TWO! I don't know which athlete lives in Stratford- but I will look it up.

This is one of those living statues. Only this one walked around terrifying some of the female photographers who tried to take his photo!!!! He looks like the ghost of Shakespeare.

Shakespeares Birthplace- we saw the actual room where they presume Shakespeare was born. The property was originally a row of terraced houses- that they bought as their wealth grew. Inside there is a set of stairs that come from outside- and visitors used to be charged a penny to come up and see the room during his lifetime- and he'd go to collect his jar of pennies once a week!

Shakespeare Aloud! They performed sonnets and posed for photos with tourists.

We had a great day- enjoying the sunshine and a couple of coffee houses/cafes for Guy. He gets more like his dad every day!

Friday, 12 October 2012


Hardwick Hall
  We had a lovely weekend visiting some old properties in Derbyshire.Old houses have always fascinated me. I could do with being a lottery winner- as I would love a nice sprawling house somewhere in the countryside. Obviously nothing on this scale- but somewhere with spare rooms for my books and scrapbooking stuff!

One of Amy's friends is studying architecture at Uni- and they had to spend 600 pound on the arty stuff she needs for the course.

Amy is really feeling the loss of Uni this year. Her friend is having a tough time settling- and I met my best friend today and her daughter is also struggling with the start of term somewhere away from home. She's missing her boyfriend terribly- and he's already been down to stay with her for a few days.

So in a way I'm glad Amy didn't go this year- as I think she'd have felt the same way. She's still struggling with her confidence issues and other issues at school. Something happened last week that I thought we should have gone into school about- but she was insistent that we didn't go in and that we would make matters worse. Whether she exagerated the issue or she really didn't want us wading in- I guess we'll never know. It's hard to know when you need them to stand on their own two feet- and when you still need to deal with issues, even though they are adult now. I wish she could find a bit of happiness- we can't seem to suggest anything to cheer her up at all.

Although I might just have found the answer today- I've been to the Cadburys staff shop with my friend. They sell discounted chocolate, Easter Eggs, promotional choccies (Olympic stuff this time), bags of flake pieces etc and stuff like Tassimo coffee pods, crisps etc. I bought Guy his mints and liquiorice allsorts that he keeps in his car, an Olympic mug with choccies for me (25p!)
Now if coming home to this little box full of calories doesn't make her smile!!!!!!!!! I've actually thought ahead and bought some mini bags of buttons, crunchies, Time Outs etc- for our Halloween Trick or Treaters- because I spent a fortune last year- and we almost ran out! So we have to keep this lot safe until the end of October. I have a feeling that the Cadbury's cream eggs might not make it that long- and I had a bag of Mini Cheddars for my lunch!
I've also just had a voucher for the ebook club I belong to- for one of my friends joining up. So I can pick another 5 books for my kindle- so a great day today. Choccies and books!!!! There are a few books that I have my eye on. I'm reading Summer with my Sister at the moment- and I've read a few 5* books this year.

Monday, 8 October 2012


Overgrown- Around Hanbury Hall in Derbyshire. It was an absolutely beautiful property. I love this look around old houses.
Guy and I went away for the weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary- 22 years. We've done this for the last 3 years running now- and it is a lovely break for us to spend a weekend together. We love Derbyshire and have returned every year. Premier Inn had a sale and we managed to get the room for 19 pound a night.
We also went to Hardwick Hall - which is a National Trust property. These ladies were wandering around the house and gardens whilst we were there- and they really added to the atmosphere! They kindly posed for us. It's the first time we've used our National Trust membership in ages- we really need to start using it more. We both love photography and old houses!

                                                       Hardwick Hall- a stunning property.
 This was the hotel we stayed in- The Oast House. The rooms are pretty much standard in a Premier Inn- but it was a lovely base for us to travel around from. The staff were all marvelous- from the receptionists, the housekeeping staff to the waitresses in the pub attached. They could not do enough for you. We booked a meal deal for the second night- which was very tasty!!!! We saw a lot of people from the properties we'd visited that day- obviously similar minded people!!! I managed to fall over in the car park of the first property and ended up with clay all down one trouser leg!!!! I hurt one knee and the other foot- and looked a right sight! Only me!!!
We looked at loads of leaflets whilst we were there - to decide what to see on the Sunday. I did want to walk around Dovedale- but due to hurting myself, a nice long walk wasn't really on the menu!!! So we need to leave that for another day!
I think we were 'housed' out- so fancied something outside. We decided to go to Twycross Zoo- which is on the way home anyway. I haven't been since the girls were tiny. We both love animals - and not really sure about zoos. Although a great zoo does so much conservation work! Anyway- we got there just after they opened and were one of the last people to leave!!!!!! We were like kids walking around! We saw so many wonderful things- by being in the right place at the right time. I love penguins, meerkats and elephants-so I will get sidetracked and spend ages just watching them.

We were very lucky to see them feeding the elephants- and discovered that they were feeding them to get them all into seperate pens for medical attention. They have been training the elephants for 4 days to put their foot up on the pen platform when asked- so that the vet can inspect and treat them easily. They tap the foot with a little rubber ended cane- they tickle the skin for them which they love. At the same time they are keeping the trunk busy and away from the vet- by eating a constant stream of tasty treats- fruit and bread. I was absolutely enthralled. The elephants want to please the keepers- so they are trying to pop their foot on the platform window all the time. One of the elephants has arthritis and the vet has to scrub the foot and take photos to check progress with the treatment. She was thrilled that the elephants had picked this up so quickly- so that she can get more involved with them.They can also be trained to put their ear through the higher slot- so that they can have blood taken. Just listening to the vet and keepers - you can tell how much they love the animals. What a wonderful job.

We also saw the keeper clearing out the llama's enclosure and he kept hugging Woody- the one llama. The llama kept going up to him for a kiss. We also saw one of the orangutans with a huge bottle of water and a blue plastic cup. He was drinking from the cup- and then tipping it upside down when he'd finished, swilling it round and then pouring himself another cup very carefully. He was soooo clever. We watched him for ages. He kept looking out at us- showing us his treasured cup. Then when he'd had enough he threw his bottle of water into the straw- but kept his treasured cup with him. One of the chimps also had a dvd as HIS prized possession. He was cuddling it up to himself- with the title showing. He loves watching Coast apparently!!!!!! Then he looked at himself in the back of the disc.
We had a really busy weekend- but it was lovely to be able to spend some time together and visit some lovely places without the girls moaning about being bored! It really does us good to have a little break- so thanks to my parents for having the girls. (Emma really- Amy could have spent the weekend quite happily at home!).