Saturday, 27 April 2013

The weeks roll around

I really must start writing things down, because I'm finding it hard to remember what happened last week.  On the Sunday we had a preacher who is well known to us, we were in the same church when we first moved here until he left to take up a pastorate in Kent. It was lovely to see him  and his wife and renew fellowship and catch up on the news.
The washing machine springs arrived on Tuesday so Husband took the top off the machine again, he needed my help to pull the ballast across, and using a wire coat hanger he managed to fit the spring in place. He decided not to replace the other spring. I got on with the backlog of washing, but later we had fun and games when the machine started to leak. Water was gushing out through the powder drawer, so I googled that and as I thought, they suggested there may be a blockage.
Husband has cleared some gunk out, so hopefully that has fixed it, although there is still water on the floor at times. We had a whole piled of soggy towels we had used to mop up when the machine was leaking, husband suggested I washed those to test the machine, but then realised we would need them to be there if the machine leaked badly.
I took a huge pile of ironing to be done, I'm still not doing too much myself, I do vacuum, carefully. We called in on our  Daughter one day, we walked into town another day, and husband has spent time working in the garden. I have been pulling up those wretched Spanish bluebells again, but there seem to be fewer. The problem is though, that they spread under next door's Leylandii, and they could quite easily spread back into our garden.

We are enjoying the Spring weather and the lighter evenings. I'm still not the best of sleepers, but am trying to get to bed earlier. We finished watching my 2 boxed sets of Marple, I do think that Julia Mackenzie makes a good Jane Marple.We still watch the odd programme on iplayer too.
Last week I had a good loss at WW for a change. Parent and toddlers started up again, not too many there, but opportunities to chat to Mums.
Womens hour was taken by our friends the Snuggs from Dunstable. Their son work for 'Caring for Life', a charity based in Leeds, it's always a bit heart wrenching to watch the videos of how people have gone from being homeless and destitute, to reagrding the others in their shared home as family. some find Jesus too and are baptised. Most work on the farm or in the cafe and learn to cater, some work in the meat department too, it gives them a sense of pride and purpose, and a prospecet of finding work later outside the organisation., if you want to look them up.
On the Friday we decided to go over to Tring, husband lived there for 5 years until we married, and his parents moved from there to the South Coast 11 or so years ago. We wandered around the High Street looking in various shops. Tring is classed as a small market town, There is a beautiful old hotel there which doesn't seem to be as well used as it once was, it's decline was probably accelerated by the opening of the bypass. Sadly there are plans afoot to turn it into flats for the over 55s, with a ground floor restaurant. We once went there for a Birthday meal, it was a Monday and not many people were there. I remember that the butter was carved into the shape of roses. Last time I attempted to book there I was told that the restaurant was closed. The owners own another hotel nearby where we had our in laws 60th anniversary. I'm not sure if they are developing the Tring one or are selling it. Tring is about the only place I know which has 2 old fashioned hardware shops where you can buy loose nails and screws etc., although one of them is half the size it used to be. We had lunch in Costa. By the time we gt to the market the few stalls were packing up, we spotted the auction rooms but decided not to go in, as husband said, 'We don't have room for anything else' He's learning! We stocked up for the weekend in the M&S simply food.
 Saturday we spent time working in the house and garden, with a quick trip for some shopping locally. We had an early meal then headed off for Daughter's as they were off out to celebrate a friend's birthday. Nathaniel was excited to see us and spent time haring around using up energy, I didn't mind, once I took him up for getting ready for bed he went quite willingly, and we didn't hear a peep from him. The we spent time enjoying being with Lydia before I gave her some formula milk the got her ready for bed. She too went down quietly, so we relaxed with newspaper/crossword,and laptops till the parents returned, not too late thankfully. I'm getting used to having husband around, but never seem to know what day it is, I still look at the clock at 5.30pm thinking he'll be home in about 10 minutes. Doh!


Friday, 19 April 2013

A quiet week, perhaps

Well last week was quieter. Husband got busy on Monday morning, he took everything off the patio, cleaned it and washed it all down with Jeyes fluid. it  took a while to dry off so not everything was put back straight away.
Tuesday I had 2 appointments, one with the physio at 2.30 pm, and one with the consultant at 6 pm. in between I drove over to St Albans, wandered round the shops, stocked up on M&S guilt free snacks, and had a cuppa in their cafe. Mindful of the rush hour I left quite early to drive back, arrived too early, so had a walk around the shops in Harpenden before driving back to the hospital. Parking was a bit easier, I was still quite early. In reception I met a couple who I know from the church in St Albans, then I saw another person I know from our town. Private medicine seems to be becoming quite popular, there was a sudden influx of people at around 6 pm, presumably folk who had just come from work. I forgot to say that my physio was very pleased with me, likewise the consultant. I have another physio appointment in 2 weeks, and if I can reach my hand further up my back, then I will be discharged. I have a red band to use for strengthening when the yellow one becomes too easy. The consultant only wanted to see me if I am in pain in a couple of months. All in all good result. At Weightwatchers I had gained, which is to be expected after last week. I seem to be spending less at Sansbury's, which can only be a good thing.
I was a bit cross at getting both electricity and gas bills estimated, as my electricity meter is on the outside wall. We had 2 minor disasters, a  metal skewer became wedged in a kitchen drawer. preventing me from opening it. In my efforts to dislodge it, I managed to pull the front off the drawer, so that meant a trip to Homebase to buy corner brackets.
I think it was Thursday when I came home to hear the washing machine making a horrible noise, I could hear it as I stood at the front door. When I got in husband was valiantly trying to hold it to stop it from banging into the cupboard next to it, as it rocked violently to and fro. I pushed the stop button, and it shuddered to a halt. The lock light stayed on and I was unable to open it for a while, then I manged to take half the towels out,and tried to rinse and spin it in two halves. It still made a lot of noise, and rocked, so I was unable to spin it all. I manged a cooler wash, but that didn't rinse too well, so I was left with a rather soggy pile of washing.
Later that day I walked down for my repeat blood test, arriving at about 3.45 pm to find no one else waiting,so I was in and out in no time.
 Glumly, I looked up washing machines online. Call me awkward if you wish, but I still want a hot and cold fill machine. The new cold fill are ok if you use biological powder, which I don't, or if you don't do many hot washes. Also I have a hot water tank, and it seems a bit pointless to have a boiler heating a tank, then  a washing machine heating cold water. The only ones available are a reasonably priced one from a company, of whom I have never heard, and two others costing in the region of a thousand pounds.
I tried a small wash the next day, but water came rushing out form under the machine. I immediately stopped it and drained it. The weather wasn't good for drying, and the washing was still soggy, so I rang Daughter, who was coming home that day with the family from New Word Alive, and got permission to go to her home and use her machine just to spin the stuff drier. Later it did get hung on the line, but then had to be finished on the radiators. Husband, seeing how frustrated I was promised he would have a look at the machine.
As I went out on Saturday morning, I reminded him of this, so he pulled the machine out, and began to take the top off. We had decided not to go into town to avoid spending too much, so I got a few things locally. When I got back husband showed me the problem. The bit of ballast which sits on top of the drum was askew, as a spring had broken. The drum had knocked a hose off as it spun awkwardly, which had caused the leak. The failure of the machine to open may have been because the circuit board had had a good shaking. I went online found a stockist and ordered two new springs, and attachments.
Later that we walked, through pouring rain, up to see Daughter, as we had found some rather splendid Thomas the tank engine T shirts for Nat. Daughter had a tummy bug and felt unwell, so she was curled up on the sofa. Nat was pleased with the T shirts.  Daughter's husband went to do the shopping, and a bit later I took Lydia up for a nappy change. Nathaniel followed me. He chatted away whilst I did the nappy, Lydia kicked with such exuberance that every time I got one leg in her tights it came out again. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands, and Lydia drummed her heels on the floor, where I had placed her, delighted with the resultant noise.
As we left the bathroom, I called to Nathaniel to come down. it was a bit hairy for me, having to hold Lydia on my left shoulder, as the handrail is that side, but I didn't think that my right shoulder was up to it. As I sat down, I again called Nathaniel to come down. suddenly his excited chatter stopped and we saw him somersaulting down the stairs, literally head over heels, bang as he hit the bottom few stairs, then crash as he hit the bit where they turn. Daughter was instantly awake, out into the hall and gathering up her screaming crying toddler. I remembered what someone once told me, that it is better for them to cry than be silent, I told Daughter this, Nathaniel said his bottom hurt, obviously where he had landed on the stairs. I said it was best to get him checked over, so when his poor Dad arrived home, he had to unpack the shopping and then bundle both children into the car. We couldn't help, having walked up, and Daughter by this time was shivering. Apparently Nat had been trying to carry toys in both hands and must have slipped.
For once I was unable to rotate this

Nat before his fall
We came home and I started to make minced beef curry, phoned my sister, then phoned to check on Nat. He had been checked over at the urgent care centre, they thought he would be ok, no bruises. Just the usual advice to keep an eye out for signs  of concussion etc. Praise God our hasty arrow prayers had been answered. Nat apparently has resorted to his old method of coming down the stairs backwards on his tummy. Did I say it was a quiet week? Hmmm! maybe not after all.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Eating out and travelling around

It was quite a busy week the week before last, we went out for a family lunch on Easter Monday, to the hotel where our Daughter had her wedding reception. There were 2 menus, a lunch menu, and an a la carte. Everyone ended up choosing from the a la carte, some had starters some didn't. Nathaniel had a children's meal of chicken goujons and chips. Lydia sat in a high chair with a rolled up blanket behind her, and she obligingly fell asleep.
I had scallops for starters , and husband and I had seabass on ratatouille, for our main course. There was a posh steak and chips, the chip were called pont neuf, and were served in a neat little stack. Three people chose that. Nathaniel's meal was served with his own little jar of tomato ketchup, and the staff didn't seem to mind that he smeared some on the pristine white table cloth. Nor did they comment on him running his train along the table whilst he waited to be served.
Son In Law took him out into the grounds for a run round, we couldn't stay for dessert, as the Cheshire contingent had to be back, our Son was doing something at the church building that evening.
So we paid the bill, and went outside only to discover that Son in law and Nathaniel were at the far end of the lake, so frantic waving and calling went on.
We came home, got out the cake and lit the candles, Nathaniel was fascinated, and now if the word Birthday is mentioned he says, 'Grandad, cake'. We cut a wodge for Son and his wife to take with them, then they packed their car. Unfortunately, their estate was off the road, and as they had collected something rather big from Daughter's, Tom was squashed into a tiny space in the back. We waved them off and then came back indoors for cake and coffee in lieu of dessert.

The Cake

Nathaniel is fascinated as Grandad blows out his candles
The rest of the family stayed a while chatting, then went home. We had a fairly light tea, then did some packing, then watched something which didn't require too much thought on iplayer.
On Tuesday, husband's actual birthday, after he had opened his cards and presents, we packed up the car and set off for his Mum's home. We stopped for a quick lunch at Pease Pottage, and arrived at around 2 pm. We had been going to stay for 2 nights, but as she had been unwell we decided to just stay one night. We didn't want to give her a lot of work to do. We hadn't been down since New Year, my operation rather got in the way, but she had had a visit from our Daughter and family. I'm sure the great grandchildren are much more interesting than us. We took her a large slice of the chocolate cake to nibble on when she felt like it.
We went out for Birthday meal number 2 to the Eastbourne Hydro. It was quite quiet in the Crystal restaurant, so we had the full attention of the staff. Mum and I had lovely refreshing starter, peppered pineapple with a filo pastry basket with melon and crab apple. Husband had scallops. Then Mum and husband chose whole Lemon sole, and I had lamb, with another filo basket containing ratatouille. There were sides of veg too, all very yummy. Husband chose lemon sponge with syrup sauce and ice cream, I chose baked Alaska, and Mum in Law who is trying to avoid milk was offered a fruit salad, not on the menu,and a complimentary bit of the sponge pudding to try. Coffee for us, and the mischievous waitress put a pile of choc mints on the table. Mum in Law can't drink black coffee, but after a consultation about all the teas on the menu, they compromised and gave her apple juice with added hot water. They were so accommodating.
Back at the bungalow, I caught up on the newspaper and then got to bed earlier than usual. with a little help from co codamol I managed to get a reasonable night. The next morning was very lazy, just catching up on things. I suggested a walk into the village, and Mum in Law said that she had heard very good reports of a tearoom in the village, so we strolled down there for lunch. There was a biting wind as we walked back, and few stray snowflakes. In view of the rush hour we had wanted to leave at around 2, but were about half an hour late setting off. We stopped briefly at the services,and bought takeaway drinks. We were doing reasonably well, but about half an hour from home, we were really slowed down, crawling along for quite a few miles. There had been an accident on the M25. Fortunately it was not too serious, but a shunt involving 4 cars. We finally made it home just before 6 pm.
Thursday was a fairly normal day, I did the weekly shopping, it was nice to have a day to recover a bit. Friday was the day of my cousins funeral, I wore my black boots for the first time this winter. we set off at 9.30, stopping at Watford gap for a coffee. We arrived quite early, there was still snow piled high, round the grounds of the cemetery/crematorium. We found the right chapel, and waited in the entrance hall. gradually other family members arrived, my sister from Birmingham came with her Daughter. We got chatting to other family members, then the funeral party arrived. My cousin was not a religious person, so there were no hymns. There was prerecorded music which she had enjoyed whilst she was alive, the family had briefed the vicar about her life, so he was able to speak about her. There were poems read, but in contrast to the funerals of fellow believers, there was an overall sadness, no sense of a life lived for Christ, or a sense of victory over sin and the grave. The vicar did a remarkable job considering he didn't even know her. We filed out to a song by by someone called Andrea Bocelli.
Afterwards we went to a big hotel near junction 10 of the M6, for a buffet lunch. It was where my cousin had spent her 50th Birthday. It was good to catch up on all the family members again, we usually only meet at funerals these days, but the older generation keep pledging to meet up. We are all so scattered these days, but my eldest cousin's Daughter lives in the peak District, and her Son has got a headship at a primary school also in Derbyshire, so at least they will be close,and the Son will be nearer to his aging parents. We left at about 3 pm, stopped for a drink at Watford gap, and were not too badly affected by the rush hour. I promised husband that the second week of his retirement would be less rushed than the first.
Saturday was a slow day, we went to Berkhamsted as there was something I wanted to buy there. I can't quite recall what it was, I was distracted when we got out of the car, we walked up through the garden centre, and later went into different shops. As I paid for the newspaper, I suddenly realised, with horror, that I had forgotten to pay at the pay and display machine. I quickly rang husband, he was even further away, so I hot footed it back to the car park, Phew, no warden around, no penalty notice on car. I put in more than I needed to, to make up for the time we had been there. In our town we usually pay after shopping in the main car parks.
Husband joined me in Waitrose for lunch, and afterwards we spent far too much money. It wasn't my day on Saturday, and as I prepared the chilli, I burnt one lot of onion, cooked some more, then threw the wrong lot away. I cooked more, then realised as the chilli was in the pressure cooker, that the kidney beans and onion were still sitting on the working surface. I blamed it on the fact that I'm still not sleeping well. I long to be able to sleep on my operated side, but it's still too uncomfortable. Will catch up on last week later.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Another birthday, and another Easter

So last Monday was my Birthday. It was better than last year in that I didn't get any presents stolen. I had lots of cards, a few cheques, a DVD and 3 CDs, Only Boys Aloud, The Fisherman's Friends, and the Hobbit soundtrack. Husband had the day off and we decided to go to Milton Keynes where there is a huge shopping centre. Our Daughter has suddenly discovered that making her own clothes is cheaper, and has borrowed my sewing machine. She is so hooked, that I cannot see me ever getting my machine back, and as I've had it since we married, I thought it might be nice to look at what was available now. I have one or two unfinished garments, and a pattern and material unused.
We went into John Lewis, and realised that the store had had a complete revamp since my last visit. haberdashery was nowhere to be seen on the ground floor. We wandered through and managed to find a store guide, Phew! They had moved hab to the second floor. I know that a few stores got rid of their material sections, including Watford, but this recession has gone on for so long that people are rediscovering the delights of making clothes for a fraction of the cost, plus the fact that one can have something that no one else is wearing.
We went up the escalator, and found the sewing machines, I was feeling a bit out of my depth. There were machines ranging in price up to over £900. An assistant came along and helped me, she showed me the difference in machines  in my price range, and eventually I settled on a Janome which has 50 different stitches. Scarey! We paid for it and arranged for it to go to the collecting bay. Then we went to the Place to Eat, which is now on the second floor, the old one is still at the front of the store, but is now more of a coffee and cake place. I had a feta salad, and husband had a prawn baguette.
Then we began a tour of the shopping centre, Husband was amazed that I walked past Lakeland without going in. We went into Smith's for papers, and discovered one had sold out, but they had Shirley Hughes books, 3 for the price of 2, so we bought Dogger, Alfie Gets in first, and one I hadn't seen before Alfie and the Big Boys, which apparently deals with going to nursery, and as a certain young man is coming up to 3, seems appropriate. I went in M&S and had a browse but decided I didn't really need a new summer skirt, I found the other newspaper there too.
We didn't go down to the newer part, husband went in a phone shop,but after that we walked back down the other side of the rectangle of shops, found the car,  then drove to the John Lewis collection point and collected the sewing machine.

We called in on Daughter on the way home, she had been going to pop around to us, but it was easier for us to call there as she has two little ones to wrap up and bundle into the car. We gave her the books, she gave me my presents, and she was pleased. Dogger has always been a favourite of hers.
In the evening we had booked a table at the place where we had Sunday lunch on my Birthday last year. It being a Monday some restaurants were closed, but they have a lodge, so there were a few business men, there and a few other diners. For starters I had fan of melon, Iberico ham with herb salad, husband had bubble and squeak cake, bacon and poached egg. We both had the sea bass with ratatouille, prawn and caper butter, and a shared dish of veg.
For dessert I had Grand Marnier creme brulee, with a white choc and cranberry cookie, and husband had Amaretti choc torte Swiss choc ice cream, and choc sauce. After coffee which was served with petit fours, we felt well and truly stuffed. I drove home as husband had had a glass of wine.
As I walked in the back door husband told me he had taken a call from my sister to say that my cousin had died. I'd only been 'talking by text' to her sister at 6.30, with no indication of anything, but they had all been summoned to her bedside and she had gone peacefully just after 8 pm. We had a total of 11 missed calls on the answering machine from sister. I hadn't taken  my mobile with me, but she had rung that once too.
In Contrast Tuesday was boring,  I got husband's car insurance sorted, my usual walk  in freezing temperatures, my exercises, and not much else worth recording. Late Birthday cards continued to arrive.
 On Wednesday I decided to skip Weightwatcher's but didn't manage to get to Sainsbo's any earlier as I was trying to pay things online, and one payment kept stalling, so I had to search out a phone number, then hold on and press various buttons before speaking to a human who took details over the phone. Sainsbury's was extra busy, due to the upcoming  Easter weekend. I dashed home, unpacked the cold stuff, and after a quick bowl of soup went to Parent and Toddler's. There were not many there, perhaps they had misunderstood when we were open, so lots of tots missed out on chocolate eggs.
I had had to change my physio appointment as they were too close together and all that was available was 8 am on Thursday, so I was up early, left home at 7.15, anticipating heavy traffic and arrived at 7.35 am. I had a coffee from the machine, but it was slow and I pulled it out before the milk came then had to shove it back, so it ended up almost black. I was given 2 new exercises, and a band, we are now into strengthening exercises. The official advice (health and safety) is to wear goggles as I have to put one end of the band under my foot, and it might ping up and hit me in the eye!!!!!
I vacuumed upstairs for the first time in many weeks, I still have to be careful and mainly use my left arm. I called in on Daughter in the afternoon to take something, then got home in time for husband's arrival home. He came in with a large bunch of flowers for me, from his colleagues. He joked that they were sympathy flowers, he also brought in an assortment of stuff he has accumulated over the 9 years he has worked there, to add to the piles that we need to sort out. He still maintains that he is not retired yet, that it's not his Birthday till Tuesday, so he doesn't retire till Easter Monday.
my 'Sympathy' flowers

On Friday we had a Good Friday service at 10 am. I spent part of the day making up the bed in the front bedroom. Daughter and her husband took the children with uni friends and their little boy to the Buckinghamshire Railway centre at Quainton, as they had a visit from Thomas the Tank engine. There were 2 very excited boys.
On Saturday we were quite late leaving for town, I'm not sure why, we spent far too much money n M&S. They had run out of Easter cakes so I had to make do with a chocolate fudge cake, and the only chocolate Birthday cake they had was a party  size, so that had to be the one. Our Son and Daughter in law arrived at around 3.30 pm, with Tom, and later they went out to a friend's house for a meal, leaving Tom with us as the friend had cats. I phoned my sister, then made bolognese.
On Sunday we had a visiting speaker, the last time he came was 2 days after my op, and  had felt dreadful after yawning all through his sermon. This time I didn't yawn, but he did lose me after a while. Everyone seems to finish dead on 12 these days, no more 45 minute sermons to enjoy. Then home to pick up some stuff. When our Son and his wife got back here, they collected Tom, and we all went up to Daughter's, as I didn't feel I could cope yet with entertaining so many. They had invited a friend too, so it was merry chaos, Nathaniel haring around, shrieking after Tom, tripping over feet and falling over, Lydia watching her brother admiringly. Dinner was lovely, roast beef,Yorkshires, roasties and all the trimmings. Then white choc mousse or a choc roulade I had picked up in M&S. I tried to doze off after but didn't really succeed, I'm still not sleeping properly. We didn't think we could concentrate on the evening service, but Son and Daughter in law went off to theirs, leaving Tom with us. Daughter had bought loads of food, so we had a late tea, suddenly there was tap on the window, the others had come home, found we were still out, so came to join us. Daughter had decorated the choc fudge cake with eggs and a chick, so we had an Easter cake after all. We came home to phone Mum in Law, and the others came home later. Will write about Easter Monday later.
Easter Fun, Lydia
Easter fun, Tom

Daughter in Law , Nathaniel and friend

Daughter in law, son in Law and Lydia

Son and daughter
Oh my ears and whiskers I'm late!