creating a simpler Christmas * days 1 and 2

This year I wil be creating a much simpler Christmas for those readers who are following along.

There will be simpler decorations, simpler food and a few simple activities and crafts.

As you will notice I missed starting yesterday but I am not fretting about that (much) and I am beginning today with a clean sheet of paper and time to gather my thoughts. It is exceptionally cold outdoors today and the areas of my garden that were tinged with frost earlier have surprisingly now thawed. Inside I can sit near the fire warm and snug and make a few plans – not the daily planned activities of last year; rather my run up to Christmas this year will just evolve like a mystery journey, even to me, over the next few days.

The whole point this year is to relax and enjoy the season.

Presently I am in recovery mode. We had another hectic weekend. Of course it wasn’t intended as hectic. Things just happen – well at least to me.

We drove up to North Yorkshire again on Saturday morning, making a flask of soup before we went; homemade tomato and a round of sandwiches. It was a pleasant, if not busy drive, but no hold ups. We pulled off the road at Boroughbridge and parked by the wier over the bridge whilst we ate.

After calling in at my daughter’s new house with our overnight bags we went up the A19 to Yarm to collect my mum. We had planned to have a toastie and hot chocolate for teatime in Costa at Northallerton and look around a few shops with mum until it was time to go to the talent show in my sister’s village nearby.

Our first unexpected problem was that Costa on the high street had a completely empty fridge – no food whatsoever. Not to worry I said they have another branch in Tesco. We returned to the car parked a few yards away just in time to see a lady reversing out of her parking spot and into the rear end of our car, but not in time to stop her before she drove away – either oblivious to what she had done or with the intention of ignoring it and DH who was running after her. She was too quick in her get away for us to get her number as it was quite dark and her plate very dirty. There is scraping on the rear end beyond the back door but luckily no dent.

A bit upset by this incident we managed to shrug it off so it didn’t spoil the day and drove round to the Costa at Tesco and yes glory be….there was food….but the coffee machine was out of order so no coffee or hot chocolate – we had to make do with tea.

After getting warm and fed we then drove to my sister’s village and settled ourselves down at one of the reserved tables in the village hall where my mum had a good view. The show was amateur but brilliant and my sister and her husband did a dance routine fom Laurel and Hardy and a spoof Red Barrows performance amongst a few other things. The whole village is great at coming together to put on these kind of events and even we are starting to feel like part of their community.

During the interval they served us with delicious hot pie and peas (we had a green ticket for the vegetarian option – cheese and onion pasties) and there was wine or soft drinks. I won a raffle prize that I passed onto my sister as it was some kind of cocktail maker and would be lost on me as I rarely drink.

All sounds fun so far but then during the second half the trouble started – two men came on and played Country and Western music and some of the audience got up and started line dancing – then another man joined in and they played ballards. We were all enjoying them but mum not so much and got fidgety, kept checking her watch every few seconds like she does when she is anxious and then moaning in a loud voice. She dislikes guitar music…….apparently (in all my life I never knew that) she didn’t know the songs (Achy Breaky Heart, Moondance and similar) and to put it plainly just wanted to go at this point as she felt they had played far too long by this time and was making quite a scene about it.

They were very good and we were all enjoying ourselves save my mother and I felt so bad having to cause a commotion trying to get her into her coat and walk out during their performance. It turns out they were only another song away from the end but mum being mum could not sit and be polite – age has turned her into a very demanding and self-centred old lady at times. It was one of those embarrassing moments when you wish the earth would swallow you up.

In the car she said she hoped she hadn’t stopped us from enjoying the evening but really she couldn’t have listened to that any longer!!! After taking my mum home we went back to stay with my daughter and on the Sunday we took her and the two girls down to Ikea in Leeds to look for a wardrobe for her new house. You can imagine the scenes at Ikea – an overload of people and queues that resembled a rugby scrum – but we managed to choose something that she will order online this week and have delivered. We are giving her some money towards them for her birthday and Christmas….and maybe next birthday and Christmas, depending on how much they turn out to be!

On the way home the fun started again -only 10 miles from my daughter’s house we pulled off the A1M at the Boroughbridge junction to fill up with petrol at Morrisons but just at this point something was obviously not right with the car. We initially though we had a flat tyre as the car was beginning to bump along quite badly and we were forced to stop on the roundabout bridge over the motorway. I got out of the car to look and realised the back end of the car was almost sitting on the ground.

We called our breakdown service and because we had the baby and Little L with us we did get priority but we still had to wait an hour. They would recover the car either to our daughter’s house up the road or back to ours. A minor problem was that all our bags and my medication was at my daughter’s and we needed to collect that first. Would the recovery vehicle please take my daughter and children home first and then take us home. No they could not. They could organise a taxi to take us to our daughter’s house and the recovery vehicle to take DH home with the car. It could not be recovered to a garage because it was Sunday and they are all closed.

There was no other option forthcoming – so we had to take the taxi on offer which would leave me stuck up in North Yorkshire and DH was taken first to Morley in Leeds then transferred onto a second recovery vehicle that took him home. Once at my daughter’s house I had to ask my son-in-law who lives near us in Huddersfield to drive up to collect me and our bags and bring me home. What a farce.

We now have an undriveable car on our drive and DH is trying to get someone to come and recover it to take it to a Citroen specialist to be fixed. It is the hydraulic suspension that has gone – it sounds like an expensive problem to me and will be more so if we have a bill for the second recovery to a garage.

So not only is the car being recovered but we are too! You will forgive me if I am not able to think about Christmas very much today but I am grateful that we are home safe and sound and warm. I might even speak to my mum later and be pleasant now I have had time to cool off from that little ordeal.

Keep safe and warm x

dear dairy :: more celebrations

Hello everyone, I thought I would be back sooner than this but I have had no time to even switch on the computer in the last week or so. I moved from the 1st birthday event to preparing for the christening, the Crisis Christmas coffee morning at my local church, and my daughter’s move to her new house. Phew!

After spending two years in the middle of nowhere, other than a few isolated farms in the distance, my daughter moved to a nearby tiny village with people and neighbours around her. We will all miss these stunning views she had from her house across the valley and over the resevoir but it really is far more covenient where she is now and for the first time little L will have playmates around. These might be my last pictures of Leighton resevoir – the reflection of the bridge in the water was just superb.

So the weekend before last saw me scrubbing out her new rental property ready for the move last Thursday and for most of that time I had my head in the oven – never have I seen one that was so bad on the inside – even a bottle full of cleaner could not shift the welded on grease and grime on the roof of the oven. After all that cleaning the oven does not appear to work and there is a missing rubber seal round the top oven door. So the appliance man has been called for by the landlord, but I have said to push for a new oven as I would condemn that one as not fit for purpose.

With our part in the move completed I turned my attention to creating something to sell at the Crisis coffee morning which took place last Saturday morning…the day before the christening. Time was quite tight with so much to do so it had to be something quick and easy and that I could make within an hour.

Remember the free pots I got from the lady in the village where our cottage is? I used six of these and a bag of 18 mixed tulip bulbs from Sainsbury’s for £3 to fill them. I stuffed each pot with a little crumpled newspaper and made up a cellophane bag (those that birthday cards are wrapped in) containing three bulbs – added a hand stamped label and nestled the pack of bulbs on the top……tied a piece of raffia around and …voila.

Most of last week was spent baking for the christening on Sunday. I made batches of fruit scones and cheese scones and three different quiches. Most of the other food was bought from M&S or local farm shops.

All was going well until we had a phone call from the vicar to say that the church boiler had broken down…is irreparable and warned us the church would be very cold during the christening and we might want to warn people to wrap up well.

It could only happen to us!!

And this was no understatement – it was freezing even though we were huddled together wearing thick coats, goves and scarfs (and in some cases with blankets over our knees and a hot water bottle for my poor mum). You could visibly see the congregation’s breath in the air as anyone spoke, and never have I seen steam coming off the water in the baptism font! A kettle of hot water had been added to warm it up a bit before ladelling over the baby’s head…..but little Freddie was so good and hardly flinched.

We had him wrapped up cosily in a warm shawl – here are the proud parents and Little L holding the baptism candle for her cousin.

The church ladies had baked our little party a few buns and made us a welcome cup of tea after the service which was such a nice guesture and helped to stave off the cold for a while. Once we were all in the heated village hall for the christening buffet we all began to thaw out a bit.

I was too busy on the day organising and laying out the food for our guests to take any photos of the hall with all the tables laid out – shame as it did look lovely – but I have a few pictures taken whilst I was making up the little jam jars of posies for the table settings and having a practice run at home the day before.

I used more of the ‘free’ pots for each of the five tables as centre pieces and filled them with dried hydrangea heads, carefully hiding the battery pack of the string of fairy lights in each pot.

We deliberately decided against the traditonal baby blue colours and instead chose muted autumnal heather colours of the dried hydrangeas. The posies of fresh flowers, hypericum berries, eucalyptus and thistle gave us the rich dark purple tones highlighted with a few cream roses and lisianthus.

The effect was just what we wanted and the warm glow from the candle votives and dotted fairy lights surrounding each centre piece really gave the whole room a lovely cosy autumn feel.

Everyone enjoyed the day – it is always lovely when all the family from both sides can come together for a catch up – we even had a cousin come all the way from Somerset.

So now it is time for a rest for a day or two and get my house back in order – then it is back up to North Yorkshire again next weekend to my sister’s to attend the talent show in her local village hall. My sister is taking part with her ‘secret’ talent but has also volunteered to replace a person who cannot make it – she is not sure what this person’s talent is yet but I hope that person is not the knife thrower….even worse…. the knife thrower’s assistant!!!

I have a lot of catching up to do in blogland as I have no idea what all of you have been up to – normal commenting from me should be resuming shortly!

Have a lovely week and welcome to my new followers. x

dear diary :: a day of disasters and delights

Back home again – for how long…… that is debatable. How did my weekend go and the birthday celebration – well have you ever laughed until you cried – that just about sums up the weekend.

Saturday started well, we were up, packed the car and collected my niece from Sheffield – so far so good. We made good time up to North Yorkshire despite the hold up for the A1M accident.

We had arranged to meet my sister in Bedale in the local hardware store House and Home to hand over my niece and her luggage and so I could buy a silver cake board to put the birthday cake on when it was finished and I was also in charge of buying a first birthday helium balloon.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon all five of us were stood around in the baking section of House and Home debating which size board would better fit my cake. ‘No problem’ said my sister, ‘you can check the size of the cake board against the size of the cake in the car’. It was only then that it fully dawned on me that the cake was not actually in our cool bag in the car but still in the freezer at home together with the nutloaf! Whoops!!

The thought of the cake being 90 miles away was a bit of a ‘Home Alone’ moment and we all burst out laughing and laughed so much tears rolled down our cheeks. The shopkeeper and shoppers must have thought us all potty.

So the next half hour was spent going over the options….too far to go back and get it………we could make another cake either at my daughter’s house or my sister’s house but it would take time and it was getting late………..we could buy one ready decorated……….we could try and buy a plain cake to decorate ourselves.

So across the road to the Co-op we all trouped and carried on the discussion in the cake aisle.

At this point I thought I had better phone my daughter and tell her the bad news. As soon as she answered the phone my sister and I got the giggles again and I couldn’t quite relate the problem in any coherent way – my daughter presumed I had inhaled the helium!!

In the end we managed to get a cake from Sainsbury’s (a life saver) in a similar style to the one I had planned. Only the top was decorated with buttercream and sprinkles but the sides were bare. So I set too and made more buttercream for the sides and added more sprinkles. I don’t think you can see the join!

It nicely fit onto the cake stand I found in John Lewis for £12 and we no longer needed to use a cake board as the bought cake came on one. This is the finished result.

But the disasters didn’t stop there because next day, Sunday – the day of the family get together – we arrived at the venue just at the same time as I received a text from my sister to say she was really ill and wouldn’t make it and a phone call from my brother to say he was lost! Sat nav had taken him down a track somewhere to nowhere and he had to do a 38 point turn to get back out.

Eventually, my brother found the place and we all came together, bar my sister, and had a lovely lunch and afternoon. Even my mum was well enough to come which was lovely. Little L had decorated a place card for everyone with stamps and glitter – granny had a great time helping too. In true style Sweetie slept through most of her party but loved the cake and had a great time with little Freddie playing pass the balloon.

The term never again springs to mind. I think a combination of having too much on the go all the time and two events close together to sort out has caused a bit of overload on my memory!

On the plus side we now have a spare cake in the freezer for the christening tea on the weekend after next.

Have a lovely day. x

dear diary :: rain, rain, go away

Honesty

As a few people are joining in with ‘white month’ theme – here is my contribution of the beautiful white honesty in our garden…actually this was last years as it is biennial but I so love the picture I thought it deserved another airing.

Of course it was always going to rain in buckets yesterday as I had a hair appointment booked for the afternoon – I looked like a drowned rat when I got to the hairdressers and then again after I left and reached the car park, so much for the new hairdo – but at least my hair is cut into something resembling a style now – not much different to normal, a little shorter but far easier to manage. I would take a picture but I am still drying out!

Yesterday morning elder daughter arrived again with little Freddie – it was beginning to feel a little like ground hog day that I keep on reliving. DH stayed home and amused little Freddie whilst we went down to see the florist and order a few stems of the hypericum berries, eucalyptus, thistle and a deep purple lisianthus. We will eek these out with a cheaper bunch of cream flowers; roses maybe or chrysanthemums and alstroemeria from the supermarket. The lady who runs the shop is always so helpful especially when you are working to a budget. I can collect them on the Friday before the christening to make up the posies for the Sunday so the flowers will have nicely opened by then.

Once back at home I did a little mise en place – chopping veg, making the breadcrumbs and grinding the nuts for the nutloaf so that DH could cook and assemble it as per instructions whilst I was out at the hairdressers – it is now in the freezer. That was excellent team work – he also made some more leek and potato soup with the left over veg and halloumi bake for tea whilst I managed to sew up the raglan part of the jumper. He then spent the rest of the evening recovering.

Not a lot happened in the pantry yesterday. DH had to have a trip to the other side of town for low tack masking tape – not easy stuff to find – some of it is rubbish and still sticks like glue and fetches the fresh paint off when you remove it so it was worth going further afield to get the better one.

Today we are aiming to go to Sheffield, weather and flooding allowing – they have had it bad again and I heard some people got stuck in the Meadowhall shopping mall. I need to sort out Sweetie’s birthday present and card – I never intended to leave it to the last minute but it has ended up with Friday being the only free day this week. I have to try and give equal amount of time to my two daughters so that both the events they are planning get sorted; so today I won’t be seeing little Freddie and will be turning my attentions to little Sweetie and her birthday on Sunday. I still need to squeeze in some time to mix the buttercream for the cake ready to take with me.

Phew a granny’s life is never done!!

My mum had a better day yesterday thank you – woke up fine then went off colour again mid morning but OK when I rang in the evening – but still no bloods taken – maybe today. My sister is going in daily and cooking a meal for her – in return we are collecting her daughter (my neice) from Sheffield uni on Saturday and taking her with us up to North Yorkshire to save my sister the journey. It will mean an extra hour or so onto our journey but it is the least we can do to help out.

If the rain continues we may have to hire a canoe!

This may be my last post for a few days while we are away – it gets tricky to do very much when we are staying at my daughter’s house. So have a lovely weekend everyone and I’ll update you when we are back if I don’t get to pop in before that. Stay warm x

dear diary :: party ideas on a budget

Yesterday was just a little too intense for my liking – I didn’t really have a minute to myself other than getting washed, dressed and eating breakfast and doing a couple of housekeeping tasks before my daughter and little Freddie arrived.

There are no photos today either…no time and nothing much to take other than a list of plans…but I think we have all the arrangements for the christening and the party afterwards underway now and every base covered. When I had my daughters christened it was a much simpler affair – I booked the church, made the cake, used the family christening gown and we had a few homemade sandwiches afterwards and a cup of tea at my mum’s house – we only had brothers, sisters, grandparents and great grandparents, so fewer people to cater for.

We have invited the wider family to this do – aunts and cousins and a few friends and surprisingly all have said yes even though they live quite a distance away. I think some of them are making it a nice weekend away. It will be lovely to see them all as very often these days it is only at weddings and funerals that we all get together.

It should be a lovely day too – but I like to keep a balance with these events between nice ideas and cost – with the arrival of Pinterest all these events like weddings, anniversaries, baby showers and christenings, can be as elaborate as you can dream up – it must be a generation thing; but the dreams can easily turn into nightmares and I feel like I might be the voice reigning things in all the time – not that I am trying to spoil the party just making sure the plans are achievable without being overstretched, overstressed and over budget.

Being creative on a low budget is something I have done all my life and one of my tasks today is to visit the florist in the village – I volunteered to arrange a few flowers for the tables which we are covering with some old white cotton sheets passed down from my grandmother (my mum’s idea as they did this for her wedding reception in 1947!) Without giving too much away on here I am looking to order a few stems of eucalyptus and hypericum berries to add to some cheaper supermarket flowers and make little jam jar posies for the table centres. I am already drying some hydrangea heads to put in the larger glass Ikea vases I saved from my daughter’s wedding.

My daughter and I also bought a cake stand each – we couldn’t track down the £4.99 ones from B&M so found some rather nice two tier china ones in Dunelm which have a pretty pattern round the edge and have been reduced to £7 – perfect to serve our afternoon tea on.

We will also be able to reuse some of the miles of bunting I made for her wedding to decorate the village hall and we have plenty of fairy lights and candles from the same event to add some ‘glow’ – it is good that we can reuse a lot of the things we had at the wedding – I knew, given time, they would come in handy!

The christening gown has been a bit of a problem – my daughter wants a very traditonal gown but little Freddie is now 9 months old and the family gown too small – or he too big. Sweetie’s gown from her christening in May is too flouncy so a new one must be found as I won’t have time to make one.

With all this planning and discussion going on DH just quietly escaped to the pantry and finished the final coat on the walls. I think he has only to put a coat, maybe two, of All White eggshell on the woodwork and then we will be onto making up the units. At last.

Thank you for all the well wishes for my mum. I would pass them on to her but there is little chance she would know what a blogger is! She seems to feel better towards the end of the day but then wakes up again in the same state where she feels quite unwell. No one came yesterday to take the blood so we are told it will might be today.

My sister bless her is holding the fort up there until I can get up to ease the load. We both seem to be of the ‘sandwich’ generation…. spreading our time between old and young, trapped in the middle – only I feel we are more like a cheese toastie….often on melt down.

I am hoping mum feels a bit better today. Until we know the cause nothing can be done and I know she is feeling very anxious not knowing what is wrong. But knowing mum she will be determined to make our little family gathering on Sunday for Sweetie’s 1st birthday – she won’t want to miss out.

This morning I have to weigh and chop all the ingredients for a nut loaf to take with us when we go up to North Yorkshire at the weekend to stay with my younger daughter. DH will take over, mix it together and cook it when he has finished the painting whilst I go to the hairdressers and relax for an hour or two this afternoon….bliss….then on to the florist in the village.

Did I mention the tablemats did not materialise? – they are waiting for another day – maybe tomorrow will be less hectic!

pleasurable :: some good moments amongst the bad

Thank you for the wonderful supportive comments to my last post – as Sybil Witters On would say – ‘you are all awesome’ and I can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear from you all. I know there are plenty of readers that are also going through some difficult times and blogland is certainly a very supportive community.

It has not been all doom and gloom here – there have been highlights and it has been helpful to me in preparing this post to see that amongst the bleakest of days there has been some bright spots – so this is a quick round up of my last few weeks.

We have been harvesting the ‘fruits’ of our labours with salad freshly picked from the two wooden tubs I planted earlier this year. The land cress and radishes have been particularly good.

On the morning of my birthday I baked a batch of mini cheese scones and then some fruit ones. I had just enough flour to make a Victoria sandwich cake that I filled with fresh cream and strawberries. I usually have friends and family dropping by during the day and like to have something to offer them with a drink.

We were still munching late into the evening when the last of our friends came round, luckily there was just enough left over for the Aussie cousin when he arrived next day.

Not knowing him very well, but hearing that he liked gardens, we decided to have a trip down into Derbyshire to visit the Winster Open Gardens. Winster is one of the oldest and most historic villages in the Peak district, full of quaint cottages and beautiful well kept gardens – the pub itself dates back to 1472 – so we thought it would be of interest to an Aussie who would not see anything quite like this in Australia.

It was one of those really hot days that we had (if you can remeber them before all the rain) and I was just coming down with a nasty chest virus but felt I had to soldier on to entertain our guest so I felt a little disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm he showed for anything we saw. However, DH and I enjoyed ourselves – especially the cream teas and Morris Dancers and we saw some very impressive gardens and delightful little corners.

I was in bed after this for a few days and DH had to entertain the Aussie by himself – I did feel a bit bad about it but not as bad as the virus was makng me feel!

It took a while for me to get back on my feet so Little L’s visit had to be postponed for a few days. It was still the hot weather when she came and we decided to take her out to a nearby village of Marsden to Tunnel End for a trip on the canal shuttle and a picnic.

We walked along the canal from Marsden until we reached Tunnel End and the little cafe. At this point the canal disappears into the hillside to reappear in Diggle over the hill – the tunnel is 3.5 miles long and takes 2 hours to travel through by canal boat. There is only just enough room for a single boat in the tunnel and it is quite dark and cold – I believe that to get the original horse drawn boats through the tunnel at one time you had to walk it through using your feet against the sides of the tunnel. Goodness knows what they did with the horse!

I know I would feel rather claustrophobic going through there and I am not sure Little L would have liked it so after our picnic we opted for the little shuttle instead that took us back down the canal to where we had parked at the station in Marsden.

Then we walked down to the village for a homemade ice cream. Marsden is a large bustling village sitting at the head of the Colne Valley with plenty of local independant shops, a small Co-op, and a few cafes and bars…and its own micro brewery and pub. It is nestled into the moors that stretch over to Greater Manchester and was once an important place for the woollen industry and dominated by the vast stately mills. Some of the cottages are quite old dating back to 1610 and, a new discovery to me, they still have the old village stocks – apparently last used in 1821!.

The Marsden Mechanics Hall is central to the village – looking as grand as any town hall and home to many events and activities it is the hub of the village, in fact we have been to a weddding reception here.

The River Colne flows through the centre of the village with a spectacular waterfall that has glints of gold like tinsel on a sunny day as it crashes over the weir.

We had plenty of trips to the park before Little L went home for her birthday and a party with her friends from school. She had decided on a local soft play centre as a venue and we went along to help. I was not prepared – the sheer volume of noise in these places is ear shattering and if you didn’t suffer with tinnitus before you arrive you certainly will when you leave! But a good day was had by all and then it was time for a visit to my mum’s.

We took her out to Saltburn on the Saturday and then Eggleston Hall on the Sunday – still enjoying that long spell of warm weather.

Eggleston Hall gardens are a real treasure – having mum with us now limits the amount of photos I can take whilst holding on to her. There is a nursery attached to the gardens with the most wonderful stock of plants if you have the time to browse. Sadly the browsing days are over now for mum but she did find a nearby bench to sit on whilst we had a quick wander round.

We so enjoyed Saltburn that we took Little L there the following weekend. The weather was not as good but it didn’t spoil her absolute pleasure playing on the beach.

This coming week we are having Little L to stay again but this time Sweetie and mum are coming too for a few days. That is if the car gets sorted as we are going to be fetching them. We suddenly had one of those engine warning lights appear at the weekend so the garage will be having a look today to see why. I have a feeling this could be another expense we don’t need at the moment.

I hope you have all had an enjoyable summer – I am trying to catch up with all the news. Going up and down to North Yorkshire and looking after the Aussie and the grandchildren has left little time for anything else this summer. At least the virus has gone and I am feeling a lot more human now. Whilst we have had a run of bad weather I have been having quite a tidying session in the house and crossing a few jobs off the list.

Today I am going to make some nutloaf and plan a few days meals ready for our next visitors. My washing and ironing is completely up to date for once and yesterday I managed a few hours in the garden removing what seemed like a thousand self seeded Aquilegia plants from the front borders.

Have a good day – back soon x

dear diary :: rest and restore

Oooops….how did so much time pass by since my last post – it has been more than busy here since our return from Scotland at the beginning of May, a bit of a roller coaster, and I am feeling rather fraught and fed up at the moment. Mum has been on another visit and they don’t get any easier. By the end of the last day, as lovely as it is to see her, she is such high maintenance now and has me in such a tizzy. I certainly needed my calming yoga class this morning. She is steadily going downhill, no major or serious illness more an accumulation of niggly complaints that are limiting her mobility and confidence; she is constantly anxious about her deteriorating condition which is making her frustrated and a bit demanding. She would like things to be as they were when she was young and fit and well – sadly her body and mind will never return to that….. but that is true for all of us as we age, and she is both in denial and expectant that the doctor is going to hand her some magic pill to restore her to her old self…….and that is not going to happen. In fact the more tablets she takes the more problems are occurring because of the side effects. It feels like we are fire fighting added to which her daily diet of sausage rolls, mini cheddar crackers and Magnum lollies in place of a good balanced meal is not helping but she wouldn’t agree! Still at 93 does it really matter if she is enjoying them.

Yesterday we took her back home to North Yorkshire and on the way we stopped in Thirsk for lunch. It was beyond busy with the bank holiday visitors and the outdoor market taking up most of the parking places near to the shops and cafes. With no disabled spots available mum had to hobble along the bumpy cobbles with her bad knee (it was actually her good knee until she managed to twist it badly on Wednesday and is now back to a pronounced limp). After lunch she insisted on walking to Boots as she had her mind fixed on getting some Ibuprofen to help with the inflammation on her knee. When the pharmacist knew she took blood pressure tablets she advised against taking the Ibuprofen tablets but suggested continuing with the Ibuprofen gel the doctor had prescribed as it is more localised (taking tablets can cause kidney failure in people with high blood pressure). Mum reluctantly put the tablets back. Later on though whilst shopping in Sainsbury’s in Northallerton I discovered she had sneaked a packet into her trolley! What can I do? She is determined to take them and ignore the advice. She is looking for a quick fix. Aren’t we all!

The Christening of Sweetie took place on the Sunday before last at the little church in Healey, North Yorkshire; a beautiful church in a beautiful village setting and at the moment one of the churches taking part in the Art Installations Trail around the Masham area – for anyone interested see the link here.

It was a gloriously sunny day and the vicar, who was on TV last week and married my daughter in 2008, delivered a very memorable address during the service reminding us that whatever shape, colour or creed we are all unique and handed ‘mum’ a picture of a Zebra as a reminder for Sweetie when she is older (each Zebra’s stripes are unique to them). We sang the hymn with gusto…….well the vicars wife did….’One more step along the way we go’ and then Sweetie was doused with the baptism water…..Sweetie did not take kindly to this.

Making the dress was a labour of love – a joy to make but I am not sure it was my best work – I found my eyes are not as sharp now for such intense sewing and wearing reading glasses all the time is a bit cumbersome and gave me eye strain. Added to which I spent so much time looking down that by the time the dress was finished my neck and shouders had become so tense I was quite dizzy moving my head.

We had a change of mind about the fabric and in the end we used some leftover ivory silk from my daughter’s bridesmaid dresses and Nottingham tulle lace left over from when I made wedding dresses.

If nothing else making this dress helped me to see that there is no way I could do this kind of intense sewing now – any ideas I have had recently about starting another business in this line are firmly quashed. As much as I love to sew and make things my life has moved on now, I am older and slower, and I must move on with it and accept that any sewing I do will be as a hobby….for pleasure only and something not time limited. Although I enjoyed making the dress nothing else got done and I feel like I am back to square one with the house. You should see it now (well no you shouldn’t it is an absolute tip). I have washing and ironing to catch up with, phone calls to make, general cleaning, gardening and it is now time for a visit to Scotland again.

During all the must do’s we have managed a few days out and about – this is the best time of year to look around other gardens. We spent a lovely day walking around the hidden gardens of Little Ouseburn, near York – some of the participants have been opening up their gardens for many years now and it is interesting to see how they have developed and changed over time.

Little Ouseburn Gardens

After my Yoga class last Tuesday we had a trip out to York Gate gardens in Leeds – one of my favourite small gardens now in the care of the charity Perennial and their many volunteers.

I am in need of rest and restoration at the moment – a few days relaxing and time to think about the days ahead and what I might plan to do during June. You may have noticed my lack of comments recently – I have been reading along with my favourite blogs as much as I can and I hope normal service will resume soon.

sEAsons ~ celebrating Easter

Hi there – just dropping by to say I am still around but for some reason still very busy – this is not what I expected when I gave up working, I feel I am working twice as hard now as then.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter enjoying the glorious weather we couldn’t have timed our party better and of course it ended up as a real garden party (I needn’t have cleaned the living room quite so thoroughly after all!).Many of the plants had started to grow quickly in the warm sunshine  – we are usually quite late in this area being high up and I was willing my pretty Aquilegia plants, which have self seeded all over the garden, to open in time for the party….. but sadly they didn’t.  But no matter there were plenty of the bulbs and Primula still blooming and the blossom….hasn’t it just been delightful?

The party took some preparing in the end – for new readers this was a party for my son-in-law’s 40th birthday combined with an Easter party as it fell on Easter Sunday, we held it at my house because my daughter’s house is so much smaller.

We had Easter eggs and decorations amongst the party decor.  I spent some time covering polystyrene eggs with tissue paper which I hung from twiggy branches supported in a pot of sand hidden with a topping of moss, then added a few fluttery butterflies with my glue gun. I also had fun making these Easter food ‘flags’ to help guests identify the different sandwiches, salads and quiches. And of course we planned an Easter hunt around the garden for the children though the eggs had to be hidden well in the shade so they did not melt in the heat.

We had a day or two in the garden beforehand – setting out all the pots that had been in winter hibernation and adding a few inexpensive pansies and primulas for a touch of colour.

We removed the covers from our garden tables and chairs and brought out the large parasol, then hung out the white solar lanterns from my daughter’s wedding a few years ago – they had been stored in the loft and I was quite surprised they still worked. We also bought some Festoon lighting and DH made a great job of stringing it across the garden using the clothes prop and an old piece of aluminium tubing he found in the garage.At night it looked so magical……Our guests were handed nibbles and cocktails on arrival….. I had spent four days making a mountain of ice cubes in readiness – and ice-cold drinks were very much in demand.

The table was laden with food – sandwiches, mini wraps and four different salads all ordered from M&S by my daughter.   For the true meat eaters her MIL bought a selection of pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs from a local award-winning butchers and my contribution was some small quiches and of course the cake.

The cake was certainly one project too many – it nearly didn’t happen when twice the ready rolled icing stuck to the kitchen work top despite the oodles of icing sugar I had sifted beneath.  I am no cake decorator and it was very rushed so this is extremely wobbly and the icing a bit cracked in my desperation to get it onto the cake!   And exactly what is it you may ask……a circuit board of course – as son-in-law is an electrician come electrical engineer and is always playing about with circuit boards.  I had to have precise instruction for this from DH as I had no idea what I was doing.For desserts we kept it simple with profiteroles, a huge bowl of mixed berries with crushed meringue and double cream to make Eton mess and some tiny party cheesecakes and chocolate bites.

Although not everyone was very impressed!!!

….but all in all it was such a wonderful day.

And the best bit…..Libbie (Little L) had made me an Easter present from some DAS clay a beautiful little pink heart – of course I will treasure it.It has taken me a while to straighten the house up again after the party – putting dishes back and packing bits and pieces away – I am feeling quite exhausted now – I could barely drag myself to Yoga on Tuesday morning and somehow I need to gather up a little more energy to start on the Christening dress….we need to do a bit of fabric hunting in the next day or two and celebrate yet another birthday, but on a much smaller scale this time, before we can finally escape up to Scotland for a well earned rest.

dEAr diary ~ in preparation for the party

Yesterday we had a trip up to North Yorkshire to see my mum.  We took her out for lunch at a large garden centre near Northallerton, mainly to be undercover and avoid the biting cold weather.  The queue in the restaurant was long because of the school holidays and the staff had been taken unawares so there was a 30 minute delay for food orders.  Luckily we were not in any rush and didn’t mind the wait – it gave us a chance for a good chat.  Mum and DH had cheese and chutney sandwiches which were rather like doorstops and I chose a jacket potato – all came with coleslaw and salad but like many places these days the portions are very large – too large in my mind and not helping the obesity problem and we end up paying for a proportion of the food we cannot eat – I do wish these places would offer a smaller sized portion.

Afterwards we had a wander around the ‘shop’ part, they sell decorative homewares, gifts, clothes and crafts as well as gardening products – a bit of a mini shopping centre.  It was too cold to take mum outside and look at the plants so we  moved on to Northallerton town centre.  I love this market town – it has a good balance of independents and chains and you can find most things here.  We ended up as we always do in Boyes for a mooch around while mum stocked up on a few heavy items like washing powder.  We had to go and warm up again in a nearby Costa before taking her back home.  She was so grateful that we had taken the trouble to drive up and take her out for an hour or two as my sister is away at the moment – it is a costly hour or two though when you add both the fuel and eating out costs but well worth it to see the smile on her face.

Today I felt quite drained from the car journey and a little stiff so I decided to take it easy and sit and make a list of what I need to do this week for the 40th birthday party preparations.  There is a bit of cleaning to do, a bit more tidying in the garden and a bit of this and that to decorate the place.

Did I mention I am also going to attempt to make the celebration cake – if my oven doesn’t work then I will have to put the cake mixture in the car and drive round to my daughter’s house to use hers.   DH thinks the problem with the oven might be a faulty element that surrounds the fan at the back of the oven.  If we could fix this it would make meal planning and baking the birthday cake so much easier.  He managed to buy an element and tomorrow he will have a go at replacing it.

Fingers crossed.

After all the listing and planning we went to town this afternoon to do our weekly shop and had a go at the self scanning system, new to Sainsbury’s – it was slow especially as I kept forgetting to pass the items over to DH to scan before putting them into the trolley.  I think it will get quicker as we train ourselves to the new process.

On the way to town we had a detour down a country lane to some nearby woodland so I could get a small branch for my Easter display that will hold the eggs I have decorated.  I will post a picture once I have something assembled.

I thought some outdoor Festoon lighting might be nice for the party – a bit of an investment perhaps as it is not very cheap – we cannot decide between some from IKEA that we saw on display or the cheaper ones in Dunelm which are in a sealed package so I cannot see the quality but they are a little bit longer.

Decisions, decisions.

Tomorrow is Yoga again – maybe it will iron out some of my tight muscles.  If the oven is fixed I will bake the cakes – if not it will be the garden tasks as my daughter is out for the day.

A day of plentiful planning and skillful scanning. x

dEAr diary ~ a close run thing

When I said on my blog on Thursday that we had finished the decorating at my daughter’s house and the carpets had been fitted ‘just in time’ – I never realised how ‘just in time’ this was going to be.  Baby X arrived on the scene 9 days early this morning to surprise us all.  A beautiful baby boy as yet with no name.

So I am now a proud granny of 3 grandchildren and feeling a bit exhausted at the thought.  Mum, dad and baby doing well and all of them sleeping after an eventful night and soon I will be too as I have to be up and out tomorrow to take my car in for its first service at the garage and then we will be going on to Ikea in Sheffield to look at (and possibly buy) the units for the new pantry.

I am doubly excited tonight!