Saturday, 24 August 2013

More Knebworth august 6th

Actually I got into a muddle whilst uploading pictures of our Daughter's Birthday, some were left out, so here are some more:


ree sculpture of muses seen from maze
Daughter in maze

Another tree sculpture

figures on the roof

Lydia with Grandad

the two cakes

candle time

Birthday, baking, bouncy castle and busyness

So, still 2 weeks behind! On the Sunday when the family came we had quite a good day, except for no one being able to take a decent nap, apart from Lydia, and delayed naps leading to no one being ready enough to go to the evening service, so we had tea together, lots of nibbly bits from M&S, their feta and pepper in rolled up filo being especially tasty. I think Daughter enjoyed the break from cooking and 2 extra pairs of hands to help cope with lively children. Son in law's attempts at a nap were disturbed by his son insisting on going up to the spare room and chatting.
On the Monday, I walked into town to buy a Birthday card and a cake for our Daughter, her husband had said he would try and make a cake, but I thought, if he didn't get around to it....
Tuesday was our Daughter's birthday. We went up there, taking the cake and her present, a book, The Blue Door Venture, another in the series by Pamela Brown, which I had loved as a child, with a few bank notes interspersed in the pages for her to spend on something she likes. Son in law had made a cake a lovely chocolate cake with a ganache filling and topping; for the uninitiated ganache is pure chocolate mixed with cream! It was decidedly better than Nat's attempts at baking! (and it put the M&S offering n the shade!)

We were all ready to go out, but there was still the question, where to? I had looked up places to visit in Hertfordshire, and one that came up was Knebworth. A stately home and gardens, with a children's play area. I mentioned this,and apparently daughter had also looked at it, so Knebworth it was.
We piled into our respective cars and headed off for Knebworth. On our arrival we parked near the play area and decided to walk up to the house, quite an uphill hike. Nathaniel is at the awkward stage when he quite often doesn't know what he wants, so after a while of walking he began to be awkward,and one minute it was,'Want to ride in the buggy', immediately followed by, 'No buggy want to walk'. this rather slowed some of us down, but eventually we reached the House and the barns where the cafe was.
We were going to bring a picnic, but son in law's purchased picnic offerings had been  deemed unsuitable, and we were pleased to see that the cafe did a lovely variety of food. After our meal, we browsed the gift shop, then walked through to the gardens, and the dinosaur trail. We found the maze first, and all managed to find our way around it, Nat running excitedly with some older children, he obviously couldn't read the 'no running' signs. Then we did the dinosaur trail, but didn't feel we had enough energy for the woodland trail too.
Back in the gardens, daughter taught Nat the joys of rolling down slopes.  I went looking for husband who seemed to have disappeared, then I found a gap in an ornamental hedge, which led to another garden, then another. I felt a bit like Alice going after the white rabbit, but eventually I caught a glimpse of husband at the end of a fourth or fifth garden, and caught up with him. We both said how amazing it all was.
We found the family,and began the walk downhill to the play area. Nat was a bit young for Fort Knebworth, but there was lots more to play on. I was casting envious glances at the zip wires. Later I saw 2 mums, probably in their 40s having a go. Wish I'd had the courage! We sat with drinks in the under cover picnic area, then later had an ice cream. We also watched Nathaniel bouncing like a kangaroo on the bouncy castle.

'prehistoric' creatures

rolling down slopes

hidden garden

Birthday girl


Knebworth house

Centre of the maze

The family

One of the many tree sculptures

 sitting on a crocodile

scarey dinosaur

Daughter's plan was to go to a Pizza place, which also did salads,but she decided it was too early. So we went back to her home with the intention of going to the local pizza place later. Unfortunately Nathaniel fell into a deep sleep in the car in the way home, he was put to bed, but later couldn't wake up, so we had the birthday candles, and ordered a takeaway from the pizza place. They only did one salad, and there were dough sticks with it so it wasn't ideal, I just didn't eat much of them.
We had  a bit of cake for afters, then came home, Nathaniel slumbered on.
On the Wednesday I overslept, so skipped my WW meeting, I did the usual Sainsbury's run, then later that day caled in on Daughter. apparently Nathaniel had awoken at midnight, and his daddy had given him some food as he hadn't eaten since lunch.
On that Thursday I hired a carpet cleaner, I'd been promising myself that I would clean the carpets for a couple of years. It was a rug doctor, and I'd forgotten how heavy they are to use. I did the sitting room in the morning, the later did the hall. Friday I hoicked it up then stairs, did the landing and the visible bits of the carpet on our room, then came down the stairs with it. It was hot heavy work. you wouldn't believe the colour of the water which came out. Later, I went over the heavy traffic area in the sitting room and was quite pleased with the results.
So Saturday we had to return the carpet cleaner, then into town for our usual Saturday shopping trip.
Sunday was  a fairly normal Sunday. On The Monday we went up to Daughter's and helped her get ready for a trip to the big garden centre, where we had lunch. There were not many plants, I was looking for something to fill gaps in my front garden pots. We still managed to spend too much, we bpught a rather nice 'double shepherd's crook' for holding hanging baskets, bird feeders etc Husband commented that the garden is now is full that the only way is up!
On the Tuesday I set of to buy a couple of things in Sainsbo's, saying as I left, 'I won't be long'. Ha! it was one of these days when I bumped into 3 different people whom I haven't seen in ages. The first whom I have known since our Daughters were at school together had been very poorly, having had a brain tumour then a stroke. We shared an office for a while when I worked at the hospital.
The rest of last week wasn't exciting, I spent time in the loft looking for something which I must have thrown away, discovering other things which  had thought I'd thrown away. I say in the loft, but I was actually perched on the ladder twisting round. I found the storage from some old bedding had split, so I ended up washing 2 double blankets, I single duvet, and an old bright orange 'eiderdown' bedcover. I definitely need to start a new charity shop bag. We visited 2 more local garden centres, where I found reduced bedding plants,and dahlias,and husband found the stuff he needs to keep the water in the water feature unsullied. I also began to cut back the raspberries. As we walked into town on that Sasturday, I started to get back pain. My disc was playing up, probably I've been overdoing things again, humping carpet cleaners up the stairs, and twisting round on the loft ladder.
I really do need to learn to ask for help sometimes. There I'm almost up to the beginning of this week.
fuchsia hanging basket

back garden border

water feature

New dahlia

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Keeping a watch on prices

Well, I'm still a fortnight behind, so had better press on. A short while ago, my Rotary watch stopped. I had been anticipating this as I had been getting signs that the battery was running down. I had taken it in to a town centre chain jeweller where I often get new batteries, but after leaving it there for 20 minutes went back to be told it wasn't the battery, they had tried anew one and it still didn't work. I would need to get it serviced which would cost about £80. Having found watch straps much cheaper online, I decided to check the internet.
Roatary would do a service, much cheaper but I also found somewhere in Tring, which did Rotary servicing, so on Monday29th, we decided to go there after lunch. We found the place fairly easily, I had rung in the morning, and been quoted £42.50, quite a difference. I explained the situation, and the symptoms, and the lady said, 'Would you mind if we just checked the battery, just give me 5 minutes'.  I was very pleased when she came back and said it was the battery, and was just a few pounds. She said they jeweller's assistant may have put the battery in upside down! We thanked her, and decided to go off for a walk around Tring town centre, it was a showery day, so we didn't mind being in and out of shops. There are still some old fashioned hardware shops there,and they don't seem to mind browsers, and we bought a couple of small items. During one particularly heavy shower, we went into a charity shop. Almost immediately I spotted a children's book high on a shelf and the title rang a bell. I got it down and opened it, and yes, it was my much mourned Treasury, which at sometime been thrown away, probably when we moved from Birmingham to North Wales. I recognised some of the stories straight away, so of course I had to have it. Despite its age it is in quite good condition (a bit like me), and I have enjoyed re-reading the non PC stories from my childhood.

Later we called in to see Daughter, who has been feeling a bit low lately. I can well remember the days when I had a lively toddler, and another on the go and into everything. Daughter was glad to see us, and we played with the children for a while. Nathaniel chatters away, I can't always understand him, but I can remember a friend once saying to me, 'You will them to talk, then occasionally you just wish they would shut up.'
Lydia has been concentrating so much on her mobility, she can now climb stairs, that she has only just bothered to say 'Dadada' and 'bababa'. Previously if we tried to prompt her we would just get a huge gummy grin. Now however there seems to be a tooth coming, she has also learned to wave.
On the Tuesday I rang my insurance company, and complained about the difference in quotes. I was told they could honour the quote I got on the comparison website, so please, if you have been with a company for a while, get a comparison check when you get your renewal documents. It could save you a couple of hundred pounds. I popped up to see Daughter again, it was a better day.
Butter wouldn't melt

They are so alike

stairs here I come

Wednesday I went to weightwatchers, hadn't been for weeks, but I'd only gained half a pound. I have been struggling lately, as I'm still not getting enough sleep, and when my energy dips I hit the carbs. Not good I know. I had to leave early to take my car in Fords had rung me about the MOT,and I told them that I was dissatisfied with them, as they had put some things as advisories, and when I got them checked at Discount tyres, was told they didn't need doing. So  I took it to the local MOT centre, and walked home from there. I took the Focus to Sainsbury's, and whilst there got a call to say one of those jobs did need doing. Confused, I said ok go ahead. Husband had gone out for a walk, and he appeared at the checkout just as I was paying, he had hoped to arrive in time to help me pack, he had seen the car on the car park.
After lunch I drove to the wedding photographer's in Harpenden, then to Daughter's as one of the photo's was for her. Whilst there I got a call to say my car was ready. The job hadn't needed doing, the part hadn't quite been fitted straight, so they had straightened it out a bit. Problem was I now had 2 cars, so tried to persuade husband to come up and collect his, he did set off walking for a bit then it rained so I had to collect him, then he came in for a while to Daughter's, then we both set off in our our respective cars for home.
Thursday was quiet, I caught up on my blog, then went into town to buy a card and a box of chocolates for a birthday.
I had been invited to a Birthday breakfast for J, by the lady who cares for her. J has dreadful memory problems, and Friday morning I managed to find her flat. I didn't know most people there, and by the time I had reminded J who I was she had probably forgotten again. She had 5 children, one is in New Zealand, one in France, I'm not sure where M is, her son is fairly local,and the youngest one sadly died. We had nice time chatting then eating, then played pass the parcel. J won the game, then wanted to know why she had got the present,and when told asked if we were still playing. I took my leave, as she was being taken out for lunch. I thanked her carer who does an amazing unpaid job.  J is on the waiting list for sheltered accommodation but I think she needs more of a care home, as she forgets to eat.
Birthday girl

Later that day as we ate our mackerel.husband felt acutely unwell, and was unable to continue. I guess that's mackerel off the menu for a while.
Saturday  I went shopping on my own walking into town husband still felt ropey. I had bought rather a large leg of lamb which was reduced, so had invited the family for Sunday Lunch, the first time since my operation that I have cooked for more than just the 2 of us. The local bus company have totally messed up- the buses. rearranged the timetable, so not as many buses go up our hill, but  managed to find one that did. reading the timetable there are about 2 that go the other way to one that goes our way, it's totally mind boggling.
Nat enjoys relaxing  in the garden

Lydia on the go as always

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Off on our travels again

A week last  Sunday, we had someone preaching who has quite a lot of contact with Jewish people, it was interesting to hear how he has opportunities to speak of the gospel. Otherwise  it was a fairly lazy day. We had a few spots of rain too. In the Monday husband went into town to the hospital, as they have started routine scanning in men of a certain age, for what is known as triple A, abdominal aortic aneurism. It can be a silent killer, not everyone has symptoms and sometimes it is picked up when men or even women are being scanned for something else.
I went into town with him as I needed to go to couple of shops. We parked in Asda, as it's cheaper than the hospital. It was another hot day, and husband was hoping that the scanning gel would be cold, but it wasn't. He rang me when it was over, it had hurt a little as they had had difficulty finding the aorta, 'due to intestinal gas', but they said his aorta was normal size.
We met up and went round Asda, picking up a few bits that we can't get elsewhere, and spending enough to get a refund on our parking ticket, then we came home. Tuesday, first thing I had to take my car in to have some corrosion dealt with, it wasn't too far, so  had a pleasant walk back. Later I had an appointment at the building society, as I had been trying without success to upgrade our current account online, to one which pays interest. I was busy upstairs when the phone rang, and the guy was asking if I could go in earlier, as he had to rush off home. So I went in,and he went through all the rigmarole, only to tell me that he couldn't do it without both signatures.
Home again, and later I managed to update the account online. I think I must have accidentally pressed the 'new account' button last time, rather than the upgrade button. I also got my car insurance which had gone up yet again. I determined to go online and check out  a comparison before I said 'Oh yes', to the quote.
On the Wednesday we packed and set off later than we should have done to visit Mum in Law. It is 8 weeks since we had been, she had said it was ok, as long as I helped with the cooking. Fair enough, she has never wanted help before. We stopped at our usual place for lunch and arrived at about 2.30. later we went for a walk into the village, as husband had forgotten to bring his usual green tea and coffee supplies.
Mum In law said she had had an offer of help with her housework, and had decided to take up the offer, she said she was not managing as well as she did. I went to make a cup of tea, and got some milk out of the fridge. She doesn't use milk, but sometimes keeps some in the freezer for when we go. My first thought as I got the plastic bottle out was 'Oh dear, this hasn't defrosted well', so I shook it up, and as I opened it the realisation dawned that it was the milk we had had accidentally left behind 8 weeks ago. Mum in Law said, ' Oh dear, I'm not managing, I forgot to buy milk'. Husband rushed back into the village, to get milk, and I asked her if she was coping with living alone. She said 'Well I will when I get help with the housework'. She said she doesn't want to go into a home, and nor do we want her to, but we cannot do anything unless she decides for herself. Ideally we would like her to come back here, but that would be quite an upheaval, so those of my readers who pray, I covet your prayers for wisdom.
Her oven is not good, but I managed the meat, and she peeled the veg, and I used her pressure cooker. I know it's not easy for any woman to hand over her kitchen to someone else. Husband did the washing up, and we went to bed, her bungalow bedroom is cooler than ours, so we managed a reasonable night.
The next day we were up early, but still didn't set off out very early. She was hoping her gardener would come. It started off as a dull day, bit brightened up later. We took a wrong turning, and ended up going to the garden centre first, where she had vouchers to spend. I found a 'slug bell', which is rather pretty, and less hazardous to kids and dog than my usual liberal scatterings. Then we drove into Eastbourne, had lunch in C&H fabrics, I bought more wool, then we went in a few shops. I would have liked a skirt from M&S which had been reduced online, but my size out of stock; in the store, all the summer stock had gone, and the autumn and winter stuff was in. I do not appreciate this in a heatwave in July! I also needed a new bag, as the lining had split in mine,and the stitching was coming undone, but nothing I liked at a price I liked. One was £79, and when I looked inside, it wasn't finished properly, so I told the manageress.
Interesting clouds over Little Common

Mum in law

Later we took Mum in Law to her favourite supermarket. I was excused at first, as I thought there was a Hobbycraft  nearby,but when I got there, they were just filling shelves, and it hadn't even started trading. I went back, and took over the trolley pushing, as husband wanted to escape to Homebase. Whe he returned, in time to help pack the shopping, he said the water feature we bought had been reduced even further. It s solar powered, so doesn't keep going all night.
Back to the bungalow, Mum in law was quite tired, I helped with the meal again, and managed to get the pork steaks just right.  We tried to get sunset pics at the local beach, but we were in the wrong place. We had a reasonably early night, and again slept fairly well. During the day I had run a 'compare the market' check, and found that I could get my insurance a lot cheaper, even my insurer was offering me fully comp for £126 less! So if you have been with the same insurer for a while it's worth doing a check.
Sunset reflected in clouds

Add caption

Over the bungalow
Friday morning we helped Mum In Law trim the tops of the forsythia hedge which helps give her some privacy. I stood on a platform to do it. before that however we had to search the shed and the garage for the charger for the hedge trimmer. Later it was found indoors! Next time we go, we must help her sort some stuff which needs to be taken to the dump, she cannot get there alone. I also offered to go down and help finish papering the hall, a job which was started over 4 years ago, but she said she thinks she will be able to manage it once she has some help with the housework. At getting on for 90, I don't think she should even try. We had another walk round the village, Mum in Law didn't come she was complaining that we had walked her too far the previous day. We took a different route back, and managed to pick up some stray bits of hedge trimmings, so that the big man with the big dog wouldn't turn up on her doorstep and complain. When we packed, husband couldn't close his case, as the lock had jammed. So we were later than planned setting off, and stopped for lunch at a very busy services. It was slow up to and including the M25, as it was the busiest weekend of the year, the start of the school holidays.
We had a lovely fish pie, which we had bought at the M&S at the services, then reasonably early to bed. Saturday, I colleted my car, they had done beautiful job on it,and really cleaned it up for me. I had to call and collect aparcel, some metallic shoe polish I had found online, which was a perfect match for my sale price Van Dals, which we slightly scuffed. We went into town and decided on a M&S mel for 2 for £10, more fish, but hey they say it's good for the brain.
That evening we had a torrential downpour, it came down so heavily that the road at the front of our house became a river. The problem is that the council don't clean the streets as often as they should, and debris clogs up the drain covers.
Our road transformed into a river

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Trying to get the whole picture

Oh dear, sometimes I wonder if I will ever catch up on this blog. Monday the 15th of this month was a busy day. I had my 6 monthly appointment with my osteopath at 11.00 am, then after a quick lunch we went over to our old church in St Albans for yet another funeral. C had been diagnose with breast cancer a while ago, she had been treated, but the cancer had returned. After more treatment, she seemed to be doing fine, but then suddenly collapsed from a pulmonary embolism, she was rushed to hospital, but sadly did not survive, she was only 50. Being Christians does help in a situation like this, because we can see God's hand in it, although we may not understand it.
Her husband and 2 boys, the elder only 22, put out a statement that they believed that by her sudden passing, she had been spared further suffering. Pray for T, J and J. They will miss her so very much. The thanksgiving service was a testament to a life lived for Christ, and people spoke of her as a lovely friend and Christian. I knew her from being in the same area fellowship group and the coffee mornings we had. Husband was  with her husband on the sound system rota, we still fondly remember the last minute calls asking if husband could fill in for him. It was a good service, but the music is far too loud, and we were sitting upstairs.
We didn't go to the commital, but caught up with a few friends Then we headed for Watford. Husband was a bit uncomfortable in his suit so left the jacket in the car, it was still so very hot. We discovered that J L have opened a mini Waitrose in their store, so we popped in to buy bottles of water.
Unfortunately, my HP camera had been refusing to work lately, it was emitting a horrible buzzing noise. I checked online to see about servicing it, but that would have been almost as expensive as the original cost, so I had been looking online for something similar. The staff in JL camera dept were very busy, and so we went off to the local specialist camera shop. I described what I was looking for, a compact digital with a viewfinder. They only had one in stock, which I found a bit too small, the reaction was 'Oh well that's the way that they are going'. No 'well we will see what we can find and order in', they attitude was more like, 'If you don't like what we've got-tough'.
We made our way back to J L, and I went in Lakeland, they had some Dr Who stuff, and I decided that one of the mugs was a must for Son in Law. In J L the chap on the camera counter was very helpful, he knew the type of camera I wanted, which had recently been discontinued, looked it up, checked if they had any stock, and gave me the model number, so that I could track it down. So very helpful.
So we came home via Daughter's, she was pleased to see us as usual, we gave her the mug, and she said she might swipe it herself. I reminded her that we had an appointment the next day, and said what time I would be round to her house. We had a cuppa, the came home. Later I looked up the camera on the internet, found there was an even better model, and paid for express delivery.
Tuesday, Daughter and I went to visit her wedding photographer, we had to take both of the children, and Nat had fallen asleep in the car. We transferred them to the double buggy, but couldn't get it in the door, so we had to find a shady spot to park Nat, as it was another scorching hot day. One of my photos had got water in the frame and spoiled and there were other copies we wanted too. However it wasn't easy looking at them in a small space, so we ordered and paid for some and the photographer said he would look into putting them on a disc for us.
Daughter wanted to go shopping, so I phoned husband and said I would go with her, to give her some help, it was lovely being in the air conditioned store, especially by the fridges and freezers! I pushed the trolley, and she picked the stuff, then as she had to go and change something, I loaded it all on to the conveyor belt, and she packed it. Home again and I helped her carry it all in, and the babes, then came home to a husband who was too hot for anything.
Wednesday we got a message to say that the camera would be delivered. I skipped weight watchers, husband stayed home whilst I did our supermarket shopping, more blissful wandering in air conditioned aisles. No sign of a delivery when I reached home, then  got a message to say expect delivery between 19.00 and 20.00 which seemed a tad late.
8 pm and no delivery, I was so cross! Husband checked online,and we discovered that the driver had claimed no one was in, he has left a card, and had reported back to the depot at 19.59. The first was wrong, after checking with the neighbours,and my front door, no card had been left, no one was answering phones at the depot. I rearranged the delivery online, the next morning phoned to complain. I told the chap in the depot what had happened, he said he couldn't understand why we had been allocated such a late slot, when I pointed out that the journey from here to the depot was at the very shortest 56 minutes, he agreed that the driver hadn't tried to deliver, but said it was definitely out for delivery that day.
I went out for my usual walk to the shops, we had been given a delivery slot between 12 and 1pm. At sometime after 12, the camera was delivered by a delightful man who admired my front garden and said how lovely it smelled. Husband was quite impressed with my camera choice, and it slips easily into my bag, so I will be ready for photo opportunities. I was able to take it to to the women's hour lunch held at someone's home. another lovely house for me to  admire. The lady even has a hobbies room how cool is that? Later that day, I got a call from Daughter. they weren't sleeping well, because of the heat, so when the children  were both fast asleep, she decided to take a nap for herself, she was woken by an apparition, a little boy covered in what at first appeared to be paint, but then she discovered was food colouring.

some of the ladies who lunched, and the garden
In her tiredness, she had forgotten to check that the landing stair gate was secure, and Nathaniel had woken, gone downstairs and got into the baking cupboard. Flour, brown sugar, biscuit moulds and food colourings had been liberally scattered over the kitchen floor,and there was an interesting new pattern on her beige sitting room carpet. She had scrubbed Nat clean, and he had promptly fallen fast asleep, exhausted by his artistic efforts. she wanted to know if he could have come to harm from anything. he had admitted to eating 'sand', (brown sugar). I said that the alcohol in the colourings was minimal, and the only real problem was if he had got flour on his lungs. He didn't appear wheezy, so that seemed ok. Fortunately his Dad was home in time to help clear up.
The next day, I answered the bell,and a delivery driver was just about to drive off, he said 'I've left you flowers',and sure enough there was a huge box. A lovely bouquet, sent from Interlink Express by way of an apology for the failed delivery.
Nathaniels' cake making efforts

The bouquet, fully open
We did most of our shopping that day too, so when the call came on the Saturday, asking if we could mind the little ones whilst the parents hired a carpet cleaner, we said 'ok', as we had sometime to spare. I gave Lydia some lunch, we played with them and later took them to the park. Apparently, the carpet came up quite well, happy days!
Lydia enjoys lunch
Lydia asleep in the park
Fearless Nathaniel climbs the slide (he's not even 3 yet!)