Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Missed it!

I saw yesterday that we were approaching half a million page views and I had planned today to keep an eye on it, and have a wee jig around the room when it clicked over - but I forgot all about it with everything else on the agenda today!  I have just noticed that the counter is at 500,178 - which I am pretty chuffed about. I had no idea back in 2008 that I would still be chuntering away here in 2015, and that you would all be reading - thank you!

I've had one heck of a busy day but it has been great - new job will be a challenge, which I am ready for and looking forward to engaging in, and the team I am going to be working with are just lovely people.  Ready for bed now though - ready to do it all again tomorrow.......

Monday, 31 August 2015

And that was that

Summer's over in my mind as September is here in the morning, and my birthday month is [in my mind, anyway] autumnal, sunny and bright but fresh and a wee bit windy, leaves on the ground, conkers to collect soon, a sharpness in the air, and the smell of woodsmoke from the fires on the chillier evenings. The nights are drawing in, and the clock change is on the horizon. Harvest festivals abound.

Image result for September
(image from kardsunlimited.com)

August has been a busy time but we are ending it in a good way. The EF [Education First] girls are happy with their lot here: having heard dire stories of other host families, they are of the opinion that they have fallen on their feet. What they will make of the school will be another thing, but we are welcoming them, and enjoying their company. In a strange way, they make us better versions of ourselves, and that is good.  We have enjoyed long talks over dinner the last two evenings, and they have kept my girls off their laptops for hours, as they have been chatting away and exchanging stories, comparing lives and prices in their home countries - we are fast learning that Denmark is a very expensive place to live and they pay 50% income taxes!  I think the Danish girl is going to need another suitcase to take all her loot home with her as she wants to make the most of the good prices here - and her mum would like some golden syrup for her baking as it is hard to get hold of over there, she says!

Image result for golden syrup
(image from theguardian.com)

August has been wet, and the grass has grown like mad - my dad has finally rung up today and said that he knows that there is a petrol mower at UJ's house that was his [my dad's], and he will see if he can get it working for me - hooray!  It will beat all the huffing and puffing with the poor little electric one that I have at the moment.

Finances always take a hit in the summer, and I have just paid £180 odd to BT for my annual line rental so that is another stone in the road - but at least it is paid for another year.  And it saves a bit.  I was too late on Saturday to share that the Lidl voucher was in the newspapers, or at least the ones which carry the Lidl News supplement.  I didn't read the paper and find it until Sunday!  There was £5 off when you spend £40 - BUT when I went in to spend mine today, I noticed that there are heaps of the little pamphlet as you exit the store, so perhaps you can pick one up if it would be helpful to you - it is valid until the 6th September.  I shall be back on the wagon, tracking spending like a hawk, and making every penny count. I hope to be able to make some serious savings this month, although I don't get the girls' food allowance paid until the very beginning of October, so it is paid in arrears.

New job starts tomorrow - thanks for your good wishes - I shall report back!  Thank you xx

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Creativity class

The YFG has been a busy bee this last week and as well as attending her interview on Thursday, she has completely redecorated the cloakroom [below] and been a huge help in the preparations for the EF girls' arrival.  The cloakroom had been a shade of green for many years and the skirting boards were in dire need of a lick of paint, so she did it. Just like that, and all by herself. 

We had the family who took her on holiday round to dinner on Friday night, and she wanted prawn cocktails, so she made them.  I thought she did rather well with those. They became a personal favourite of hers from all the cruising with Grandad - I think she had them every night on the last cruise!

And the mum came back this afternoon to say that her husband had been inspired [or shamed!] by the YFG's hard work, and had started his own programme of re-decorations.......

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Safely here

The two EF girls have safely arrived and are tucked up in bed!  They are shattered from a very long day, as they left Winchester at 7.30 am this morning and have been busily settling in, chatting and meeting new folk all day - they are doing very well.

The one we thought would be quiet is the more talkative, and the one which had appeared more outgoing is the quieter one at the moment - although we have had the violin played for 90 minutes this afternoon......it got better when she had finished the scales and actually played some pieces. She has an audition on Saturday, so she'll be practicing quite a lot this week, I think.

I've been taking photos of things to share with you over the last couple of days, but haven't got the photos on the laptop, so I may do that tomorrow afternoon.  Bed now, as I am off preaching in the morning xx

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Been a bit busy...again!

This feels like the last week of summer as we head back to school next week - that always seems to mark the beginning of autumn for me, whether it really is or not!  It is the last week where we are just the three of us, and then the dynamics are going to change again with the addition of the EF girls and the loss of the EFG back to Aberdeen at the end of next week.  It all feels like a bit of a whirlpool at the moment!

Monday was the trip to Thetford, and then I worked most of Tuesday on the phone whilst the EFG went for her last food bank volunteering session and the YFG was painting, and then we went out when the EFG got home. 

We had to go to see my dad and MB - she has finally got the cast off her arm and the boot off her leg, so she is happier, although there is restricted movement in her arm and it is very swollen still. We spent about 90 minutes there, and then moved on to UJ's house: he is on holiday this week and my sister and I arranged to do his watering in his greenhouse between us. Tuesday was my turn.  The girls fell in love with a beautiful tortoiseshell cat which was having a snooze in the greenhouse when we got there and apparently lives a few doors down the road - there was talk of cat-napping which I had to put a stop to!!  I picked some Victoria plums off his three big old trees which are laden with plums this year - but no adventures with a ladder this time after I nearly fell off last year.

After that, we continued our circuitous route and called in on step-son and his partner. He is glad to be home from prison but tethered to the house between 7pm and 7am by the tag on his leg - it did mean though that we could turn up there at 7.10pm and be sure that he would be in! I took him some tomatoes and runner beans and a courgette from our garden as well as a bowl of UJ's plums. He was grateful and loves fresh food like that - he does all the cooking!  We stayed there for about an hour and finally got home here at about 8.40pm. It was quite a trip but we got it all done.

Yesterday I had a phone marathon session whilst the girls went off late in the morning. They had a bit of shopping to do, and they wanted to have a recce of John Lewis, where the YFG has a job interview this afternoon - they had to find the partners' entrance where she is to report, and also to check out the cafeteria, which is where the job is located. After a slice of carrot and pecan cake there, they were home just after 5pm.

Any spare moments I have had this week have been spent knitting bunting for the EFG's room at uni as she decided she wanted some to put up there. I have so far "bunted" four pieces for her, and think I might manage a couple more before she goes back - one flew off the needles last night whilst I was watching the second of the "Britain's Secret Spending" programmes.  It was poignant that the very rich chap Anne Robinson interviewed often feels very sad, and has problems that money just can't solve.  I just cannot imagine having £90m to spend on a home!

Today I have the final couple of hours work for the week to do on the phone, and some stuff to do in the EF girls' room [I think photos will be in order when it is done!] but we have to do some shopping tomorrow as we need lampshades for the donated bedside lights that we were given: unfortunately they came from a smokers' home and the lampshades were smelly, but the bases are fine as they are ceramic.  

All afternoon I shall be keeping my fingers crossed for the YFG at her interview!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bit of a blur

The girls had an amazing time on Friday in London, and came home buzzing with excitement about the musical and their trip.  It all made for a very late night, though, and it was nearly 11am when we surfaced on Saturday - we had had a busy week, topped off by the trip, so it was no wonder that we were shattered.  The weather didn't help - very warm and muggy here, and not the sort of weather that inspires one into much action, I am afraid. I managed to cut about half the grass yesterday before I collapsed in a heap and needed lots of very cold drink to revive me enough to some more. There are still two lawns to go but rain has stopped play at the moment.

Image result for high lodge thetford
(image from forestry.gov.uk)

Today the YFG and her friend have been to GoApe at Thetford Forest. The EFG and I were there too, but we were knitting in the car, and having the occasional mooch between the downpours, rather than getting drenched 40 feet up under the canopy of trees, harnessed to a safety wire [most of the time, although I am told there was a panic when they realised that the friend was not attached at one point] and doing Tarzan swings and zipwires.  I like solid ground too much to do all that.......scaredy cat, I know!  Typically, you might guess that there was a discount involved - as the YFG and her friend have both done the Duke of Edinburgh award, they were able to use their DofE cards to score a few pounds off their tickets!  Shame that we couldn't have foreseen the weather when we booked it.

The landscape of The Brecks is quite different from the Fens, and it was a change to have alternative scenery for the drive over to Forest Lodge.  The Scots pine trees are everywhere, and make quite a contrast with the almost treeless [in some places] Fenland landscape.  Our days out are nearly at an end as the YFG starts back for Sixth form next week and the EFG returns to Aberdeen a week on Saturday.....we reflected whilst we were chatting this afternoon that they have had a good summer of days out and trips, as well as their weeks away here and there.  The family which took the YFG away to Northumberland are coming round to dinner on Friday evening and the EF girls will arrive Saturday morning, so the YFG and I are full steam ahead on their room this week, hoping to have it finished by Thursday night so that we can go shopping for something nice for dinner on Friday!  That invitation was a bit spur of the moment and not in the menu plan......spontaneity is fun occasionally.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Kinky Boots

I'm sure that title will do wonders for the hit counter!

The girls have just sent me this photo from their seats in the Adelphi Theatre tonight as they wait for the start of the premiere night of the new Kinky Boots musical to begin.

The story is set in a Northamptonshire shoe factory, and we have watched the film numerous times!  The FH grew up in Northamptonshire and was always pleased when he found some real Northampton shoes in the charity shops as he knew that they were well made.  The film is brilliant, and I hope that the musical is as good.  This is their birthday treat. 

Here are some links to tell you more about the story. The musical. And the film.

(image from amazon.co.uk)