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!).