Wednesday, 28 January 2015

January Jottings

A day or so after Mum in law had gone home, I started getting cold symptoms. I probably picked up something form the grandchildren. We didn't do anything much on New Year's eve, I was late to bed because of the fireworks, but even they finished earlier than usual.
On new Year's Day someone from the church organised a walk but I was in no fit state to go. Husband went on his own. I developed a real hacking cough,and was feeling really rough.
I couldn't sleep through coughing, and one night came down and did all the puzzles in the newspaper, till eventually the coughing subsided, and I returned to bed at 4 am.
The weather has been variable, very cold, then very wet, or occasionally a bit milder. We've had some lovely sunny days, a couple of brief snow showers but nothing much.
I have concentrated on walking rather than bike riding, having been out a couple of times only since Christmas. Although we have ventured further than before. Husband has been out twice without me. The first time was when  had to go up to the post office to check the size of our Son's Birthday card. It began to rain as I started the walk, then got heavier, the rain was at my back. I did toy with the idea of getting the bus back down, but then it stopped. When I eventually got home, I was greeted by a very wet husband, who had started his bike ride before the rain came. We both had to change onto dry trousers,and my shoes took 3 days to dry.
Frozen canal, on a bike ride
'heron' looking as if it has been carved from tree
heron on canal bank

Real heron on tree, the other was a decoy! Some deterrent!

Our Son spent his Birthday this year visiting his Grandma, whom he hadn't seen for a while. I had given him his present a couple of weeks before.  Grandma was enchanted with Ethan, last time she saw him he wasn't walking.
It was on our Son's Birthday that I developed a sore throat and started  explosive sneezing. I had read an article called 'Whatever happened to the sick bed', which extolled the virtues of resting rather than soldiering on. I decided to put it into practice, no one would have wanted me in church with my noisy sneezes, and nose blowing, so I stayed put. This cold, coming on the heels of the hacking cough, somewhat poleaxed me anyway. I did try to get out for short walks whilst it was at it's worst, but my legs told me when I'd had enough. The night time coughing started again, but has now abated. I'm at the stuffed up, hoarse stage, now, and out and about, but husband now is in the full blown stage, so he stayed home this last Sunday. One of the ladies at church commented that we were rather like the old fashioned weather people, when one is out the other is in!
I forgot to mention that I got a letter dated 27th December, to say that the lady we used to visit in Chester, Ruby, had gone to be with the Lord in the early hours, she was 94, had had lots of falls and used to say she thought that God had forgotten her. She has now got her wish, and has joined her husband. the funeral was to be a private family one, so I didn't have to worry about taking my germs to others.
They were very good to me when we were in the church at Chester, as I was involved with Covenanters after the morning service, they had me at their home for lunch every Sunday, unless they were away. They also had many students there too, I have many happy memories of those days.

I've had difficulty in buying 1 litre bottles of thin bleach lately, the 2 litre bottles don't fit in my cupboard, and with little people around it can be hazardous to leave them in a corner. We had a trip to Berkhamsted, as I saw that Waitrose still did them, but the shelf was empty. Last Saturday, I ventured to the St Albans store, Eureka! I bought 3 bottles, 2 of which I will store in the spare garage. Having also bought my favourite yoghurts there, I parked in a long layby, ate my sandwich,and then decided to walk across the park into St Albans. I slipped on mud twice, but then managed to get into a good stride. Across the park, popped into the cafe, too long a queue for coffee, so pressed on. However having walked round the lake, and started up the hill to the Abbey, my legs began to object. I reflected I had no money spare to spend, so who needed the shops?
 I turned around, back into the park, round the rest of the lake, then up and across back to the car. It was sunny but bitterly cold, so I blew some cobwebs away. I worked out I had been walking for an hour, so drove home. I had a cup of coffee at home.

The park

I was about to doze off after a cup of coffee, when husband arrived home from his walk into town.
Earlier this month, I was cleaning  a bit of mould from the window frame in our bedroom and I notice that abit of the woodchip paper was torn, I've always undestood it was hard to remove, so though I'd just take it off round the window, ha! Once I started I couldn't stop, so now need to remove all the paper and redecorate. The room has so much furniture that we may have to move into a B&B  whist we repaint, happy days!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Christmas capers.

The next day, after our visit to Waddeson, my husband made the journey to the South Coast to collect his Mum for Christmas.  I finished off making up the spare bed as a single, then I got the bus into town, didn't feel  too much like walking. I went to M&S, spent a small fortune, then got the bus back up the hill. I struggled a bit with 3 heavy bags. I got a casserole going later, and they arrived back just before 5 pm. Mum in law slept quite well on her first night here, which was good.
The next day being Sunday, we took her to church in the morning. Everyone fell asleep in the afternoon, later, as we were trying to get ready for the carol service, Mum in Law felt she was holding us up, so she decided not to come. She normally only goes once on a Sunday these days. It was a good service, taken by the Son of a former pastor of the church. He was very good, the church was reasonably full. In the  morning service, one of the Mums from our former parent and toddler group was there with her husband and family. It was good to have renewed contact.
When we arrived home, husband found one of Mum in Law's favourite Canadian speakers on iplayer, so she was able to listen to that.

Butterflies on my tree made from feathers, very delicate

I was really ahead of myself with the shopping and gift wrapping, I manged to pop out most days even if it was just to collect the newspaper. On the Monday afternoon we took Mum in Law to our Daughter's home where there were 2 very excited children, Nathaniel being the more excited of the 2. On the afternoon of the 23rd we had to go and collect Nathaniel's Christmas present from where we had ordered it. We had bought him a bicycle with stabilisers. We put it in our spare garage till Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve I popped into Sainsbo's for some last minute stuff, fresh veg salad and cream. It was a lot quieter than it had been.
I was so organised this year that even all the Christmas cards were hung before Christmas day.  It took forever  to burn down the last day of our advent candles. I was busy in the kitchen sorting things out, and almost forgot the Carols from Kings, which I traditionally listen too whilst making mince pies. This year however I had been asked to do a pavlova, for Christmas day tea. I heard less than half of the carols, but that service for me marks the start of Christmas.
There was a bit of a hitch when Mum in Law started pressing the buttons on my timer, as she objected to it beeping, so I wasn't sure how long the pavlova had cooked. I took it out and later as it had cooled, tried to transfer to to a metal serving tray, only to discover it was still uncooked underneath, so I had to chance putting it back in the oven on the stainless steel tray. It did eventually cook, and when filled with cream and raspberries looked rather good.

Burning the last of the advent candle, 4th from left front row
I cooked a small gammon joint as is traditional in our house on Christmas Eve, I also put a Turkey Crown in to roast, as we were going to Daughter's on Christmas Day, but would need something for Boxing day. Then after dinner I popped up the hill with a couple of stockings, and some goody bags for the grown ups. Our daughter had a church friend staying, whose parents live in Kenya, she wasn't able to fly home this year. We chatted for a while, the children had gone to bed quietly for once. I came back home chatted some more, then made up a couple more stockings for our house.
I was up relatively early on Christmas day. I didn't have any cooking to do, but we opened stockings, husband had put a couple of things in mine, including a very pretty acrylic fawn, which was designed by the lady who had designed the beautiful red glass candle sticks I had bought at Waddesdon. Church was at 10.00 am, a relatively short service, then we went home for a coffee and a biscuit.
We loaded the bike into a very large plastic bag, put it and the other gifts into the car, then the Christmas cake and pavlova, I had found a plastic box to put that in.
We arrived at Daughter's a few minutes before they did, and didn't have a key. Their church service was half an hour later than ours, and their church is about 7 miles away. Eventually we were indoors the presents, except the bike, were piled under the tree, and Nathaniel walked past the bike  several times without even noticing the strange shaped package.
We had a lovely dinner, Daughter did well.  Then there was nut free Christmas pud, with cream, clotted cream, brandy butter or ice cream, and a lovely chocolate torte. I must confess to having some of both. Lunch over, we retired to the sitting room for coffee,  chocolate mints, and present unwrapping. This took ages, as we seemed to do one at a time, and each had to be admired. Lydia loved the new doll's cot and doll, and eventually someone drew attention to the big plastic bag, and got Nathaniel to open it. he seemed very pleased with it, he'd had Buzz Lightyear and Woody from his Mum and Dad, Lydia had a coupe buggy toy from them, and when she wasn't in it Nat was. It had got too dark to take them to the park, so they went out for our usual Christmas Day walk, which involves stomping round pavements, admiring other people's Christmas lights. I stayed in for once and tried to doze.
Mum in law had a large display calculator from us and a text-a-day calendar, chocolates, and her asked for donation to the Barnabas fund from Daughter, and a  Photobox calendar from our Son and his wife. We all seemed to get what we wanted, and Daughter's friend was not forgotten.
Later we had a really good tea, with lots of nibbles, salads, pavlova, cake etc and everyone was feeling quite full. We skyped our Son and his wife,and saw Ethan waving around the contents of his stocking. He opened up the Duplo train later.

My fawn sits amongst the candles
My tree

I forgot my camera on Christmas Day, so don't have many pictures, just one or two on my phone. The children were taken to be got ready for bed, it was late, so we said our goodbyes and came home. Boxing day was much quieter, I nipped out for the paper,and couldn't believe how many people were in Sainsbury's. I think shopping must be the new religion.
We caught up on some things on iplayer, but generally had a lazy time. Boxing Day meal was cold cuts, and wedges and veg. I opened a Christmas pud I had bought which actually had a chocolate sauce.   At teatime I opened a tin of salmon for a change, there was salad, cheeses left over meat,etc On the Saturday we stocked up on fresh veg, on the Sunday church in the morning, then back to our Daughter's after lunch, (roast lamb), and another hearty tea, to finish off some of the mountains of food our Daughter had brought.
Mum in law doesn't seem to like to stay away too long these days, so husband took her back home on the Monday. At one time  would have gone with him and stayed, but I hadn't been sleeping too well, and I wouldn't have slept there. Husband  came back the same day. It's amazing how quickly Christmas passes.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

December digressions

Yes, I'm still here, I do apologise for the lack of blogging, but December is always a busy month even when I'm not childminding, in addition to the shopping, I also write over 60 cards, put together a newsletter and accompanying photosheet, then print out getting on for 40 copies.
So, what have we been up to? Well the first week we managed 1 bike ride. We went  along the canal bank, so far then rode back to Sainsbury's where I collected the newspaper.
jacket makes me look larger than ever

Husband concentrating

I had ordered a toy cot online, which arrived damaged, on the Monday. The outer box was fine, but the inner box was damaged on the corner.When I opened the inner box I could see that bits of the wood were split,and the joints were coming apart, I alerted Amazon, and they were very good and sent me a returns form straight away. So I had a trip up the hill to our nearest Post Office, to return the parcel. The replacement,  a different style, arrived the very next day. How is that for service? This one was fine, and husband put it together for me. The weather was pretty awful, wet and windy, but we drove over to the garden centre on the bypass, had lunch there, and then I found some plants for the bed which didn't have much colour in it, a hanging basket for the back garden, and a pre planted pot for the front, to replace the chrysanthemums which had died. I also bought a large cone of lavender to put in Mum In laws stocking.
garden centre grotto

 Won't rotate

Winter hanging basket


Winter arrangement
Th following Monday, we went back to the dentist, me for a second filling, and husband for a filling and a crown prep. That afternoon, we went out on our bikes and rode a little further than last week. On the Tuesday morning, we had another ride, this time south, but the puddles were so big and the bank so bumpy, that I preferred to come back by road. We did about 100 yards on the main road,and I tried not to panic whilst being overtaken by a recovery truck, but soon we turned off through one of the newer estates, onto quiet roads, then onto the next estate, which brought us out near the canal bank near where we live, so back onto the side road, then walked through the gap, then rode home.Nothing was behind me, so I managed a good right turn into the road where our rented garage is.That afternoon, we walked into town, so we really felt fit that day.
Nathaniel was unwell, so we had both of the children on the Wednesday. Then on the Thursday, I took Lydia into town. We both bought lightweight jackets that week, as husband has no mudguards,and his fleece was getting muddy, I thought it would be an extra layer as it can get quite cold. Our final ride that week was on the Friday.
The next week, on the Monday, I had to go to Watford to get some Christmas bits, husband went for  a ride without me. I'm not sure whether that was the week that we went to the primary school to wastch the nativity. Nathaniel was a soldier. The headmaster is a great believer in the traditional Nativity, which is good. I managed one ride later that day. In the evening I did Lydia's bedtime routine, and put her to bed whilst Mummy and Daddy attended a performance.

Our Son and his wife came  for a weekend, during which they had their annual Christmas trip to London with family and friends, so we took Tom out over the railway and across the golf course. we noticed a big difference as all the leaves have now gone. It was son in Law's Birthday on the Sunday, and the plan was for us all to go for Sunday lunch, but Nathaniel was ill, and they had to cancel. I didn't have time to defrost the beef, so the other 5 of us went. The meal was late so we were coerced into having a sharing starter, which was expensive, and wasteful, as there was not enough bread, and they charge for extra. The main meal was nothing special, with hard roast potatoes, oversalted gravy, and indifferent veg. the whole thing was overpriced, and a disappointment, as we always had good meals there in the past. We skipped dessert, as our family had to get back to Cheshire, so once they had squeezed the Christmas presents in the car, they were off. They had joked about not having room for Tom, and leaving him behind! Then I reviewed the meal on the company website, and then on trip advisor.
The leaves have gone

husband with Tom
Frost on the retail park roofs
We had both of the children on the Wednesday, as Nathaniel, had been unwell again, but Lydia had a nap, so it was easier. Then on Thursday, just Lydia, whom we took into town in the buggy. Husband picked Nathaniel up after school. For a treat for ourselves, we went to the Winter lights and Legends at Waddesdon Manor, on the Friday, had lunch there, and later whilst we waited for the out door lights switch on, hot chocolate and a mince pie.  We ended our first year of National Trust membership right where we began it.
Waddesdon lights