Monday, 29 September 2014

September slips by

Well, I have about a month to catch up on! I can't remember what happened each individual day, and it has been so ordinary that it would bore everyone rigid, so I'll try and remember the interesting bits.
As we can no longer fit everyone round the table, and haven't enough chairs, Daughter and Son in Law came for Sunday lunch the week after Son and Daughter in Law, just to even things out.
The first week, we only had the children for one day, that was one of their Mum's special liaison or meetings day, it was the Tuesday. She was taking a couple of days off as Nathaniel was starting school. It doesn't seem possible, he was only 4 a couple of weeks before, but the local education authority, in their wisdom, decided there should only be one intake per year. Theoretically, he doesn't have to start, by law, till he is 5, but then he would miss out on reception entirely.
On that Tuesday husband laid out lots of track ready, so he and Nathaniel played trains for a while. Lydia went up for a nap, but Nat was so engrossed he didn't ask to come to the shops with me.
He was eased in gradually, at school, the first week, which was only 3 days, he finished at 12.30. the next week he stayed for lunch and was collected at 1.30, but since then it has been 3.15 pm. It is difficult to say how well he is settling, he still comments that 'Jack wasn't there', his little friend from nursery. He doesn't say a lot about school, but we have learned that if they are well behaved, their name sits under a sun. They also have rainbow, cloud and rain, and we hear that his name has mostly been under the sun, with a possible hiccup last week when he decided not to cooperate.
Childminding has been easier, we pick Lydia up at 11, on a Wednesday, after lunch she goes for a nap, then when husband picks Nat up from school, we take them back to their home, as Mummy is home at about 4.
Last week Lydia slept so long that husband walked up to collect Nat, and walked him home. I took Lydia home when she woke, and we arrived just after them. Thursdays are easier too, as we only have Nat for a few hours. Since Lydia swapped to an afternoon nap, I have been known to take a doze. We had to buy a new baby monitor as the parent unit in the old one was no longer charging. this one plays more tunes.
We got the air conditioning fixed at the beginning of the month, which sent up the amount for recent car repairs to around £700, ouch! I felt that if I sold my car then we could offset what we got for it against the car repair bills!
 After a couple of false starts, I managed to advertise my car in the local paper. They charge £25 for 3 weeks. I had a few phone calls the first week, and arranged for a young lad to come and see it. The ad was included in a few local papers, including Luton and even Milton Keynes.
My little Fiesta

When I got other calls, people wanted to come and see it before the time I had arranged with the young lad, but I explained that I wouldn't sell it till he had seen it as it would hardly be fair on him.
It paid off, he and his Mum came, he liked the car, and gave me the full asking price. One of the others had already indicated that they would make an offer.
I was so pleased, but not being used to selling cars, I forgot to get him to sign the transfer form, so we had a trip to Luton the next evening to get it done. The only drawback is that although I contacted our local paper, they didn't withdraw the ad, so we have had lots more calls. Amazingly, I got most of the car Insurance refunded, with no admin fee charged.
Husband recently obtained an adapter to fit one of his bigger lenses to my camera, so when I took pictures of the large September full moon, I got a rather good one.

Ordinary lens

special lens

Ethan has started walking properly, I was sent a video as proof, and he now has his first pair of proper shoes.
We had a lovely sunny Monday a couple of weeks ago, husband said it seemed a shame to waste it, so we went off to a garden centre, had lunch there, bought a few items to replant some of my pots which had got tatty, and a large pot of chrysanthemums, and then drove over to Wendover Woods. We found the free car park towards the back of the woods and set off for a walk. Most of it was downhill, which meant it was uphill on the way back. We came back up part of the Chiltern way, it was nice to get back up to the level bit.

sun on the trees at Wendover

Sun through the trees

the path

The Chiltern way
We are still having to pay the rental on my garage, as we have things stored in there. Husband was able to get at our Son's old bike, and has been working on it. He had to buy a new wheel as the other one got a bit bent by being reversed into too often. He was hoping to do the bike up to use as our Son doesn't want it. I must admit when we went into Halford's, I was looking at the 'proper' ladies' bikes, with the old Sturmey Archer gears, and wondering if I had found something to spend my left over Birthday money on. I'm still pondering and looking. We have discovered that you no longer need a permit to cycle along the canal bank, and there is also a disused railway line for cycling.
It's been a month for things going wrong and needing replacing. Husband's coffee machine got a crack in the glass jug, so he was nervous about using it. He managed to find a very reasonably priced replacement, which takes less room on the working surface. I ordered a new gasket for my pressure cooker, but it still didn't work properly. I reckon it's been put on without water in it once too often. A trip to Watford didn't reveal anything better, they were £59 in Argos, but only £50 on Amazon, so guess who got my business?
I was doing some shredding one day, and the shredder seized up. I took it apart and poked all the bits out, dusted the dust out, and put it back together. It still didn't work, so we decided it didn't owe us anything, and went to Staples and bought another which is better, as it cuts across. It was our second visit to Staples, as, fed up with overflowing toys, we had bough two huge boxes to contain them.
We had a trip to the dump where we deposited the old pressure cooker, bent bike wheel, old shredder and old coffee machine. On the way we also dropped off  a  bag at the charity shop. Decluttering is such a slow business in our house.
Our friend C came home from hospital, but I still haven't managed to visit her, every time I ring no one answers, so we reckon her husband had been out, and she can't get to the phone. She has a bed downstairs at present. I may just call in one day, and see if she is up to visitors.
If you can remember, back in June when we had our awful week, the chap from the water board ripped out our plinth from under the sink. Ever since then, if I have dropped anything, it has rolled under the sink, so I decided it was time to seriously look for new plinth. I decided to go for real beech, and found a company in Birmingham, which supplies different widths, and will actually supply it varnished. When it arrived it was a very long parcel, and had to be laid along the edge of the stairs as there was nowhere else to put it. I had to persuade Nathaniel that, no, it wasn't a slide, and no, it wouldn't be good to use it as one. So last Monday, we took stuff out of the back porch to reach husband's workmate, he got out his circular saw, and we managed to fit most of it, except 2 bits which need shaping round skirting. It looks quite good even if I did miscalculate the width slightly, It was good to bin the old disintegrating chipboard interior stuff too.
I saw an advertisement in the newspaper, which said that I was now eligible for a shingles jab, so I called in at the surgery, to find out if they would be sending for people. I was told 'no', so I made an appointment, and had it done last Monday, the nurse offered me the flu jab as well, but I didn't fancy 2 in one day. Just as well,as I have had a really sore swollen arm. The jab itself wasn't bad, but can cause sore arm, headache and fever.
I didn't sleep too well last week. When it got too cold for a sheet and bedspread, I thought we would try a 4.5 tog duvet, it was fine at first, but last week I felt cold. So I swapped the duvet for our normal 10.5 tog,and then it got warmer, so we couldn't win. At least we could kick the thicker one off, which is easier than hunting for something to pile on top in the middle of the night. All in all September had been a very warm sunny month, but the evenings are much cooler, especially since the Equinox. Yesterday it was so warm that we had our Sunday roast at the garden table. We would normally have visited Mum in law this month, but our Daughter expressed a wish to visit, so not wishing to give Mum in law more work changing beds etc,  we skipped this month and our Daughter went this last weekend, Grandma was delighted to have a visit from the great grandchildren.
Meanwhile, if you are enjoying a heatwave, I have to confess that you probably have me to blame. Whilst there was a nip in the air, I decided to put away most of the summer skirts,and get out, and sort through the Autumn and winter stuff. This is guaranteed to make the weather change, hey ho!
I almost forgot to mention, we had a butterfly came indoors on day and it landed on the voile curtain, I believe it was a comma.

Sunday, 28 September 2014


Oh dear I must be about 3 weeks behind again. The day after my brief illness, I didn't go to church as I feel slightly wobbly, and didn't want a repeat performance of the time when I almost fainted. I pottered around getting lunch ready, and I managed to eat a fairly decent lunch. later that afternoon we went to our Daughter's home, as it was Nathaniel's 4th Birthday, where has the time gone?
The family had been to the transport museum on the Saturday, in Covent garden. the weather hadn't been suitable for the planned zoo trip. Soon Nathaniel was eagerly opening his present from us, which was junior Lego, the knight's castle to be precise. There didn't seem too be much to the castle, but there were lots of other bricks in the box to play with and build things with. Our Daughter had made a rather super rocket cake, and after a lovely tea, we watched as Nat blew out the candles,and sang happy Birthday to him. Lydia has learnt the words, and can be heard at odd times singing it, along with twinkle twinkle and row row row the boat.

We had arranged to visit my sister in Birmingham on the Tuesday, we haven't seen her for a while. we didn't set off as early as I had planned, but we decided to use the M40. It takes a while to get to the M40, but once we were on it we had a fairly good run. We stopped to buy coffee at the services, but didn't hang around. We arrived at around lunch time, but didn't eat straight away, as we were waiting for my nieces to arrive. We were chatting, the girls arrived, sister was making sandwiches, when suddenly husband went very quiet, and disappeared to the bathroom. When he came down, he sat quietly, then said he felt unwell, and hot, and he looked positively grey. He disappeared again, and it soon became apparent that he was quite unwell with some sort of gastroenteritis.
I won't go into detail, but to cut a long story short, he didn't eat any lunch, we left earlier than planned, and I had to drive home. He had been fine in the morning.
He went off upstairs whilst I got a meal for myself. The next morning he was wobbly, but managed toast later. Thankfully we were not childminding that week, our Daughter was taking days off to take the children to a holiday bible club at their church. I did the shopping, and was doing various things to my car, to get it ready to sell. I had been meaning to sell it for over a year, it had done so little mileage in the last year, and it was becoming expensive keeping two cars on the road. The Focus had been costing a fortune in repairs lately. It was before the trip to Brum that we noticed the leak on the power steering had got worse, so on that Thursday morning I took it in to a recommended garage, and had a nice walk back into town. They had to order parts for it, so I didn't take husband to collect it till the Friday. As he drove it home, he realised the air con wasn't working properly.
I managed to fit in a visit to our friend C, in Watford hospital, she had made a remarkable recovery, and was hoping to go home within 2 days.
Sadly my sister was also ill, a couple of days later, then her husband was ill on the Saturday, but hos symptoms were more like mine. Some weird virus I guess, which attacks in different ways.
I had spent time reorganising the guest bedroom, getting the bed made up into a double, and at about 8 pm that  Friday evening our son, his wife baby and dog all arrived. It was going to be Ethan's Birthday on the Tuesday, so we were going to have a tea party for him on the Saturday. I had a made a cake in the rough shape of a number 1. I had found some teddy bear cutters in Dunelm, and unable to mix  a decent brown colour, decorated it with blue teddies. Little did I know that he has a blue teddy.
On the Saturdy morning our Son had this mad idea that we should all go out for lunch, he chose a venue, then went off to buy something.
Eventually we found the venue, Daughter and family arrived,and we all found something we liked on the menu. The lunches were quite substantial, so we decided tea would be quite late. We nipped home, picked up various things, then we all congregated at our Daughter's home, where Ethan was helped to open his presents from the family, a Fisher Price garage from us, and building blocks from Daughter and family.
Quite a while later, Daughter allowed me free range of her kitchen, where I boiled eggs, made up rolls, wraps, etc and put them on plates, there were pringles too,and cherry tomatoes. We had a Birthday tea, and then Ethan, quite bewildered, was presented with his first Birthday cake, complete with candle. He reached out, not to touch the candle but to pat the cake!  Soon it was time for the little ones to be got ready for bed, so we came home, and Ethan had his bedtime routine.We didn't hear him during the night, but I believe he awoke early, then slept, then woke again, this happened a couple of times.

Looking bewildered 

enjoying cake

Lydia and mummy 

The family went off for their morning service, we went to our church. then home to roast pork and all the trimmings, followed by blackberry and apple crumble.  I rarely do puds these days, but it seemed ncie and seasonal.I asked Son if they had prayed for C in the service,and he said, 'Yes, they mentioned she has to have an operation'. I thought that was odd,as she had been looking forward to coming home, but obviously they had decided otherwise.  Then son and Daughter in law took Tom for a walk, and left Ethan with us as he doesn't see enough of us to get used to us. He was fine, playing with the toys I keep for the other 2. Not long after they got back from the walk, they packed up the car, and headed for home. We both fell asleep, tired out after a lovely family weekend.
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to upload this, but I mislaid my camera cable connecter

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Another day out

Well, the week after our visit to Cheshire, things did not really go according to plan.  The family, one by one, were smitten with a tummy bug. We were not keen to look after them, so daughter and husband juggled their days off, and all managed to survive. For us the week seemed longer than usual. We pottered in the garden tidying, we walked to places, and I got a second dress cut out and completed most of the sewing. I still haven't finished the first dress, but it does need some adjustment, and the second sleeve sewn in. I'm still struggling to lose the holiday weight gain, so it doesn't quite fit as it should.
The second dress I used a 'perfect fit' type pattern, the top actually has different pieces to cut according to bra size. I worked out how to do a basting stitch on the machine, so I put it together and checked the fit before I sewed it. However I had a bit off difficulty with the zip, so have to redo that at some stage.
On the Sunday we had a visit from a retired pastor, who we have known for a few years, he preached 2 very good sermons on revival.
I think it was that week that we heard my dear friend C had been taken into hospital seriously ill, with no visitors except family allowed. I duly set about notifying friends who didn't know, and asked for prayer for her.
The Monday was spent in the usual way, walking to our local Sainsbo's and doing a bit of shopping, then trying to catch up on other jobs, I cleared off the sideboard and polished it, and tried to find homes for the bits that have accumulated there. Since I have been sewing again, it has rather got out of hand, cotton reels, scissors, pins etc, and material scraps, I still haven't solved the sewing box problem, the new one is too small to take everything, so I haven't yet got rid of the old one.
On the Tuesday, we walked down to get the paper together, and decided to come the long route back along the canal bank. The local council had nurseries there, but they have been taken over by a group which provides employment for people with learning disabilities. My ex colleague's son who has Down's works for them. They were advertising  home grown veg, and a coffee shop, so we wandered along there, and looked around the shop,and had a coffee. Husband was delighted to find an orange potentilla to add to his collection. There is now a gate onto the canal bank, so it was a slightly shorter route home.
Wednesday was my usual trolley dash round the supermarket, then to Daughter's, a wait for Lydia to wake from her nap, then bringing them home here giving them lunch. Afterwards they played indoors and made a fair old mess. The weather had gone a lot colder and much more unpredictable, so outdoor time was far more limited. I had started wearing trousers for the first time in weeks.
On the Thursday we brought them here for a short while, whilst I gathered stuff together for a trip out. I decided on an insulated bag with ice packs for the lunch, Everything else went into a pack. Eventually we set off for Bekonscot, the oldest model village in the world.  We had trouble parking at first, but drove around the block, and found the car park full sign had been removed. It wasn't terribly expensive to get in, we were not charged for Lydia. It was a tad chilly, so we headed for one of the picnic shelters, this one resembled a greenhouse, but there were brick walls to about waist height. During lunch Husband had to make a quick dash for the toilets with Nathaniel, but soon lunch was over and we were heading round the village. Lydia was in my lightweight buggy but didn't seem over happy. Nathaniel was very excited about all the trains which criss cross the area. Eventually we reached the large picnic area, with a fairly new cafe, and an ice cream shop. We ate our ice creams without incident, I got 2 coffees from the cafe, as we fancied a hot drink. Husband went off to the gents' and then I realised why Nat's feet looked odd, he had his sandals on the wrong feet. I put them right, then he sneakily  let Lydia out of the buggy, and I had to dive off after her, the buggy which had my pack on the handle,  promptly toppled over.
I scolded Nat, replaced Lydia in the buggy, where she sat kicking out, until my coffee toppled over and drenched my trousers and cardigan, she also yelled because a tiny drop of coffee  had landed on her. Husband arrived back amidst the chaos, and took Nathaniel into the play area. I confined Lydia to the small slide, as there were lots of big children hurtling around, she was distinctly unimpressed, so I took her to where the small rides were and paid for her to sit in a Bob the builder truck which moved up and down.
Eventually, husband had had enough of trying to catch up with Nat, so we moved on, and I helped Nat with a game which involved squirting water at various things. Grandad said Lydia could walk, but we had taken a wrong turning, and as we found ourselves on the path going out, we had to come back in, and start again, but Lydia didn't mind as she had a better view. Nat also enjoyed looking at the trains again. we found the right path and continued round the bits we had missed. There was a small train ride near the entrance which only cost £1, so we parked the buggy, sat astride the seats, holding on the the children and off we went. After the ride, just as we went into the gift shop it began to pour with rain, suddenly the gift shop was full off people sheltering from the rain. As it is in an old railway carriage, there wasn't much room to move. We bought the children something small each,and by the time we left it was hardly raining at all. We asked Nat if he needed the toilet, he said 'No', so we crossed back to the car park.

Just as Grandad was about to strap him in the car, he changed his mind, so I had a quick dash to the nearby supermarket, with him, fortunately the toilets were just inside in the entrance, so we didn't have to buy. There were more showers on the way home. I popped into our house for something, then we took them back home.
On the Friday, we had a slow start but late in the afternoon we went over to  Watford for the nearest Toys r us, a s we had 2 important Birthdays coming up.
On the Saturday, I woke up feeling quite strange. I felt bloated and nauseous. wasn't sure I could get to town, but I knew we had enough fruit and veg to cover the weekend. I wasn't sure what was wrong, was it the bean salad I had eaten, or was it something I had picked up? I managed a small piece of toast for breakfast. Later I felt hot and very drowsy, husband went off to town to get some things, I slept on the sofa. In fact I dozed on and off for most of the day. I managed another bit of toast at lunchtime, then in the evening husband decided to cook  a ready meal he had in the freezer, so he closed the kitchen door, so I wouldn't get the smell. Later I managed a third piece of toast,and a few mouthfuls of a
cup a soup. I didn't think that I would sleep well, but did, feeling a bit wobbly when I got up on the Sunday.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Out and about.

Things were a bit different the following Monday, we had the children for the day. Our Daughter is now doing a job share, so she had to liaise with the person sharing. It was a nice day, so we had the new paddling pool out. The children played quite happily in it, although they do tend to try and fish out odd bits of grass which they have accidentally taken in on their feet.
The Tuesday was a slow day, mainly just a trip into town to sort out the transfer of money from one account to another. We had been watching the weather forecast carefully as it was going to be our Daughter's Birthday on the Wednesday. Her husband couldn't have the day off, so she roped in Mum and Dad. The forecast changed over a couple of days from absolutely awful and wet all day, to, well yes, it will brighten up a bit later.
She wanted a trip to the seaside, and not Walton or Clacton, but somewhere new. So she chose Leigh on Sea. We arrived at her home at the prearranged time, but were a little bit late setting off, as the children had been dawdling. Once on our way however, we had a fairly decent run along the M25, husband stopping once for petrol, and Daughter to chastise Lydia and reinsert her arms into her babyseat belt.
We found Leigh on Sea and somewhere to park. At first look it all seemed to be mudflats, with a view of the power station on Grain Island.  The tide was nowhere to be seen.
In our quest for lunch we pottered along a quaint little old High Street,and soon found a little tea garden which did excellent lunches. We had given our drinks orders when we realised it was cash only. We discovered later that a whip round would have raised enough cash, but Daughter had gone off to the cash machine in the local pub, where she had to pay for the privilege of withdrawing her own money. That does make me cross.
Lunch over and we continued our pottering, including a interesting arty crafty shop, which actually has a Southend Pier Tram carriage in the middle of the floor. Eventually the road petered out, and we came across a small beach, lovely yellow sand, and a barrier between two groynes, which created a natural sea washed paddling pool. There was a shower to wash off the sand, and the mud which most of the older children around seemed to get covered in the minute that they explored further afield. There were also public toilets. We found a seat, which turned out to be a real suntrap as the clouds cleared and we had a reminder of the heatwave. Southend pier could be seen in the distance.
The children played in the sand, and paddled, and I was pleased to notice that the small beach had a seaside award. It really felt hot as we sat there, and we watched container ships in the  channel in the estuary, going in and out of Tilbury. Eventually Daughter decided to move on, so we bought ice creams and enjoyed those, then crossed the bridge over the railway line. We found the main shopping area,and had a good browse.

Very aware of the rush hour traffic, we decided to leave, but not in convoy. We nipped home and picked up a couple of items, the drove up to our daughter's home for a Birthday tea. Her husband had bought her a princess castle cake, and we had the traditional singing and candle blowing out. The children were being coaxed upstairs for their bedtime routine, so we didn't stay too long.
The Thursday was spent catching up and sorting, and a little bit of packing, then on the Friday we headed off for Cheshire to our Son's home. We hadn't seen them since the 90th Birthday celebrations. Unfortunately we didn't start early enough,and crawled through congestion after congestion. The fastest bit of the journey was the M6 toll, then we crawled some more.
We arrived at around 5.30 pm, before our Son got home, and started getting to know Ethan again. He is very wary of us at first, still needs Mum and Dad above all others. Tom was pleased to see us too. Our Son arrived home, and got stuck into preparing dinner, and told us how the training was going. After dinner, we chatted for a while, then retired for the night. They go to bed rather early, but as Ethan isn't too keen on sleep, they need to get as much as they can when they can. An early night didn't do us a lot of harm anyway.
On the Saturday I went or with Daughter in law and the dog to a cash machine and to buy the paper. Later we debated where to go and decided on Tatton park.  I hadn't been there for years. My last visit was as part of an outreach team helping a friend with his Mustard Seed tent. He was a horticulturalist, and had the idea of giving away packets of mustard seed with verses from the bible on it; Matthew 13 v 31-32. It was the occasion of the Cheshire show, there was also a video playing of the testimonies of various church members, along with tracts,  booklets and bibles.
 This time we had lunch sitting in the courtyard as Tom was with us, I was pleased to find that they did a reasonably priced crab salad, but then spoilt it all by having a triple chocolate dessert. We made up for it after by going for along walk in the Park. We will have to go back some time, as we would like to see the hall. Apparently it still has the servant's quarters, husband had been reading books on what life was like for below stairs staff, ever since Downton first aired. There is a parking charge at Tatton, even for N T members. Tom didn't show any interest in the many deer, or even the sheep, which probably explains why he wasn't too good as a sheepdog. He ran for his ball, and even swam in the lake  to retrieve it a few times.
After quite along walk we visited then shops and then had an ice cream. Back at their home we had a meal, then  daughter in law put Ethan to bed, and relaxed upstairs, husband and son watched a film which they both describe as dreadful, and I put my headphones on and watched something live, but on my laptop. they have a TV licence,so I was legit.
On the Sunday morning we went with them to their church, but sadly didn't sing much, as we didn't know the modern songs, then they had a lovely hymn to a new tune which we didn't know. Their newish pastor preached a good sermon, and we knew the last hymn, and the tune, so sang with gusto. Unfortunately they have an over head projector, but the person in front of me was taller, so I spent a lot of time trying to peer round her to read words. Give me a hymnbook anyday.
After a lovely lunch it was time to pack up and say our goodbyes, Ethan had begun to get used to us and now it was time to leave. We used the M6 toll road, and had a reasonable journey home.