Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wales, a little bit wet and a tad windy.

On the Saturday morning, Daughter and I decided to go and do some shopping. Husband went for a bike ride, and Daughter's husband took the children to the beach for a while. It was quite windy, and the weather was nowhere near as warm as it had been. We had lunch back at the bungalow, jacket potatoes. The conservatory doubled as a dining room. We tended to use our computers in there,as husband plugged his mobile device in there, there was no wifi supplied.
Daughter and her husband went out with the children, my husband wanted to go to to Halfords in Rhyl. I had unpacked the mattress topper, only to discover that I had brought the one for the single bed, so it would not fit. I decided to walk into Prestatyn to see of I could find a mattress topper. However it was further than I thought. Husband had said he would pick me up later. A bus passed me, but I was on the wrong side of the road. My disc was playing up, and my hip, as the bed had been so hard. Eventually I limped into Prestatyn, crossed over the pedestrian railway bridge, and made my way to M&S. We have previously bought toppers in M&S, but I think that was Chester.
I went in and looked, then I asked, but they had none. There was a linen shop in the High Street, but their toppers were so thin, they would not have given any relief.  I went into the big Boots, and bought a couple of items, and printed out some photos of the children.
I suddenly remembered I had to get something for dinner, I went back in M&S, bought a duvet, with the intention of putting it under the sheet, but then decided an extra large sheet would go over it. We once stayed at a guest house, where the bed was hard, and ended up putting a duvet under the sheet, and taking it off and hiding it in the wardrobe every day, as they came to service the room.
As I browsed the food dept, I was out of ideas, but then thought a jar of sauce, some mince and pasta, and we have spag bol. Although I couldn't find spaghetti, just something similar with a hole down the middle.
I was glad to meet husband and go back to the bungalow. I read the Telegraph, but then had to start the meal as the children needed to eat early. It wasn't a bad meal, although Lydia ended up with an orange face, and the chair cover, which was white and navy stripes did suffer a bit. Fortunately I had brought a microfibre cloth with me and a quick wipe down helped no end.
I went over to visit my sister for a while, she didn't seem her usual self, not chatty and a bit distant, I invited her to the bungalow for tea the next day, and she said she would let me know.
There was a dishwasher in the bungalow, which our daughter took charge of, they were sleeping on the bed settee, in the sitting room, There was huge TV in there, also one on the wall in the main bedroom, and a small one in the twin room, which Daughter removed so that the children could not turn it on when they should have been sleeping. I had remade the bed, and lay on it watching TV, it seemed a tad more comfortable than it had been.
Sunday morning we were up quite early, as I went into the conservatory, I could hear the rain pelting down on the flat roof.  Husband checked our home monitors and said it was sunny at home. However the old saying 'rain before 7 clear before 11' proved true. I'd got dinner underway, and we left for church in Rhuddlan, as we drove over, we could see any orangey coloured cloud, which we drove through. it was sand, blowing off one of the fields, the soil can be very sandy up there.
The pastor was away, but there was another American preaching, he is doing church planting in Pen y Cae. and Rhosllanercrugog.
After the service we tried for a quick getaway, as our Son and his wife were coming over for lunch. We got back before they arrived, everything cooked quite well, we just about fitted 9 of us around the table. Husband found a high chair in the wardrobe for Ethan, and we used a bedroom chair and one garden chair..
I had done 2 small chickens, and I made 'Grandma's stuffing', roasties, carrots broccoli and peas. It all went down very well, I did cheat and use bought desserts, crumble, and a millionaire's cheesecake.
The family went out for a walk,and I relaxed, it was rather wet underfoot however, and quite windy, so they were not out for long. Ethan had great time running up and down with his older cousins. Sadly, when I sent my sister a text asking when I should pick her up, she replied that she was unwell and was going to bed.
We had tea relatively early, as the Cheshire family needed to drive back. They had come over in the Focus and it seemed strange to see it parked outside. We parted with an invitation to call in on the way home,and stay overnight if we wished.
On the Monday morning we were all up early, Son in law had to get the train to Euston., I offered him a lift but daughter had promised,and sure enough she got up in time to go. He arrived in London at 9.45 am, not bad. Late that morning we drove into Rhyl as daughter's car needed an MOT. Husband cycled into town to g to the barber's. The garage couldn't do the MOT till the next day, we drove into town, parked, and later met up with husband for lunch at our favourite cafe.
Later still, Daughter borrowed my bike and helmet,and went for a ride with her Dad. I didn't feel up to it as my back was sore. So I stayed with the children, then later popped round to my sister's. She had been to the Dr and the Dr she saw was a different one, and blamed her stomach problems on what he said was emphysema, she was also a bit depressed,. She visits so many older people and sick people, and people with problems, not to mention dealing with her own family probems. I said she should give herself a break, say 'No' more often and think of her own health for once.
On the Tuesday, the plan was to visit Llandudno, Daughter had to drop the car off and get the train, as we couldn't have fitted the car seats and Daughter in the car. We met up in Llandudno, and after looking in a few shops decided to go for lunch. It took awhile to contact husband, the signal was poor,and he didn't have the phone with him which I was trying to ring. Eventually, we bought soft drinks and sat outside the Cottage Loaf till he arrived.
We had a good lunch, plenty of it, but the kitchen got my order wrong at first, Id asked for beef on granary, and was presented with a full beef roast, which I had to send back, as I didn't fancy a full roast,and anyway hadn't paid for it.
I think that they got the coffees muddled, as mine was rather bitter and husband said his didn't taste as it should, I drank all of mine, big mistake as I was to discover later.  I didn't buy much in Llandudno, but did find a half price foam mattress topper, which did give me more relief than the duvet. Daughter took the children to the beach for a while, then had to get the train back before 4. It turned out that there were a few jobs needed on the car, so she was to take it in again the next day. Later we went for a bike ride to Splash Point, but I didn't want to go further as I had really bad nausea, so we turned back,and when we got to the bungalow, I had more bad nausea, and my heart rate shot up. Probably a combination of caffeine, and adrenaline, the caffeine usually takes a few hours to hit. Once I stopped panicking, the heart rate slowed down, but I didn't have another meal, husband and Daughter got their own meal, and I just had a banana before bed.
riding towards Splash Point

Husband stopped for a photo

Looking back towards Prestatyn
On the way back

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Whoever said 'it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive' was wrong!

By the Sunday husband couldn't stop sneezing, so I went to church alone in the morning. I had a bit of difficulty getting in the garage to get the new car. The shelves at the side made it so difficult, I got stuck, the shelves must go!
There were plenty of parking spaces, so I didn't have any problems. It was Easter Sunday, and we had 'up from the grave He arose' in the morning which is one of husband's favourites. As I drove home I suddenly heard a little tune played, and the petrol symbol came on. I wasn't too worried, as the car has an eco engine, quite small for the size of car, this means that the road tax is a mere £30 per year. In the afternoon we went up to our Daughter's home for tea, but didn't make to to the evening service My cold sore, obviously didn't like being thwarted, so decided to break out on my top lip, making my mouth twice as sore. Husband continued to sniff and sneeze.
On the Monday we decided to try a bike ride, as he was feeling a little better, however as we set off down the road, my bike felt strange, I stopped to check but all seemed fine. As I reached the corner, I stopped again, all was not fine, I had a puncture. So we walked back, and husband took the wheel off my bike and repaired the puncture. I pottered about in the garden a bit, weeding and pulling up those annoying Spanish bluebells, which we accidentally planted years ago. By the time husband  had finished my bike,it was too late to do anything really, I had been out for a walk and got the paper. Bank holidays don't mean much when you are retired.
However the next day, I checked out my bike,and the tyre was fine, so we rode towards Watford again, as far as the lock past the M25.  Around 7.3 miles there and back, it was a beautiful day.
The (inhabited) lock cottage 
West coast mainline Virgin train

The lock

Someone at the trout lake has a sense of humour

On the Wednesday I didn't have much shopping to do. We had to collect both children,as the schools had finished for Easter. They played quite happily together, gave orders to what they wanted for lunch, but got what they were given!
Some time that week, we decided that instead of having the hassle of selling our old Focus, we would give it to our Son, as he hadn't had much joy with one he had bought second hand. I really don't enjoy selling cars I hate it when people try to knock the price down, although the Lord was good to me and answered prayer when I sold the Fiesta and I got the asking price.
So on the Thursday we had both children again, they were not too much trouble, and it was a little warmer, so they played in the garden for a while. Husband has reassembled the water feature now that the risk of frost is low, poor Nathaniel, he just cannot resist sticking his fingers in it. Later after we had taken them home, whilst waiting for the oven to get hot, and the food to cook, I rushed around with the vacuum cleaner, then mopped the kitchen floor, to try and save time for the next day. We also got the cases down and began to pack. We had booked a bungalow in Prestatyn, from Friday to Friday, as the bungalow we used to go to in Kinmel bay is no longer in the brochure. Our Daughter decided to come with us as the children were still on holiday, for various reasons they were  not going to Word Alive this year.
Despite my having done the cleaning the night before, we were still not very early in setting off, Husband had to find room for everything in the new car, fit the tow bar, fit the bike rack,and the bikes. When I was packing the cool bag I noticed that the fridge was not draining properly, so had ago at that, then I took most of the shelves out and washed them and got rid of any veg past its best. When fridges didn't defrost themselves, I'm sure I cleaned mine more often,
Eventually nearly everything was packed, and I suggested that I went ahead in the Focus as I had to call in at the petrol station to fill her up. We agreed we would meet up at Watford gap. It was 12 noon as I pulled away from the petrol station, traffic was flowing fairly well, but once I got to Northamptonshire, the roadworks which had slowed us down a bit on our way to the Lakes were still there. I was very conscious of the need to drive carefully, with only third party fire and theft cover.  I arrived at Watford gap at just after one, and had quite a wait for husband. he had been driving extra carefully too as it was his first time with the bike rack.
We had lunch in Costa, I had already bought the Telegraph, then we had a discussion on whether to go straight up the M6, or use the toll road. The general consensus was to use it as it was Friday,and those with an early Easter break were obviously returning home. We pressed on separately, saying we would meet up at our son's home.
however as I drove up the toll road, I felt rather sleepy. Remembering how easily I can fall asleep at home in the afternoon, I thought maybe I should stop and get a drink. Unfortunately I decided against stopping at Norton Canes, had I done so, I things may have turned out differently. As It was I decided to stop at Stafford. the traffic was quite heavy and slow, I didn't have traffic alert on, and I had no satnav, or even an atlas. So I stopped bought an iced tea, and a Mars bar, used the ladies room, started to drink the iced tea, and scoffed the Mars bar. I also bough t a road atlas. I didn't see any screens around about the state of the motorway. Feeling a little less sleepy, I pressed on, I soon found I was in very slow moving traffic, then suddenly the North bound carriageway came to a complete halt. Eventually everyone switched their engines off, the sign on the gantry still flashed 40, and the only thing moving was motor cyclists.
I rang husband, he has a hands free, so was able to answer. He had heard of the junction closure at 16,  on traffic alert, and had gone off at jnct 14, trying to find his way through heavy traffic. I contacted our Son, he discovered that there had been a 6 car and one van pile up at jnct 16,and at first advised me to go off at 15, and make my way there. Nothing moved still, I'm not sure how long we sat there but it was a baking hot day, people were getting out of their cars to walk around, some climbing the embankment to relieve themselves, all just waiting, and hoping, and in my case praying. I watched the lady in front get out a porta potti, sit one child on it, then a mat on the tarmac and she changed the other child's nappy. Eventually, husband had arrived at Son's, I got a call to say that the junction had reopened, and traffic should be normal by 8 pm! A lens dropped out of my driving glasses, I was rummaging around, out of the car, trying to find it, when someone behind me shouted 'We are moving', I stood up and he said, 'well we will be soon'. I got back in the car, and in a few minutes we were off, slow at first then picking up speed, then slow again. I carried on past the next junction, as I desperately needed a comfort stop, so I stopped at Keele for just long enough. I had managed to find the missing lens, and wriggled it out and back into my glasses. I passed a couple of stationary cars at jnct 16 one had no front. I felt sorry for those involved in the accident, once I had started off again, I had switched to radio 4 which has traffic alert. Off at jnct 17, I took the wrong road through Sandbach,and went a very roundabout way. Then I recognised a landmark, did a U turn and found our Son's road. As I pulled up outside their house, I couldn't see the CMax,and thought husband had gone without me, but he hadn't. I got tea and sympathy from Daughter in Law, and fuss from the dog Tom, Ethan however was in bed. We completed the transfer forms for the Focus, chatted for a while and I relaxed a bit. I had taken 7 hours for what should have been a 3 hour journey!
We said our goodbyes and thanks,and I settled into the passenger seat for an uneventful drive to Prestatyn. We arrived at about 9 pm, Daughter had arrived much earlier, found the key, and had shopped for pizzas and salad for when we arrived. As we unloaded the car, her husband arrived, he had got the train from Euston, and was just staying for the weekend, as he didn't have much leave left. Sadly, when I got to bed, it was a firm based bed, and I didn't sleep too well. The children were up fairly early the next morning, so no lie ins for us.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Where would we be without the car?

Our tiny cherry came into flower again
Oh dear, lagging behind again! On Monday 30th, I was due at the osteopath,as usual he greeted me with one of his jokes, but now I can't remember it. He seemed to think that I would be ok for another 6 months, so I popped into the local Sainsbury's for a few bits and pieces. I had originally suggested to husband that we should go looking at cars immediately after my appointment, but for some reason which escapes me he had decided not to accompany me, so basically, I had to go back home and then we drove to our local Ford dealers.
I have moaned a lot about Fords in the past, mainly their service department. We had thought about changing to a Nissan Qashqai, but our nearest dealer is over 7 miles away, not near a town centre,and we were not sure whether the car would fit our garage. This is a bone of contention where we live, there are 12 houses, the garages are in a separate block, and there is parking for about 5 cars, which was originally meant for visitors.  There is also a small area in front of the rear 4 terraced houses. As most of the residents do not use their garages,and some have at least 2 cars, one neighbour with one child to transport has recently bought a huge 4 wheel drive, and her husband swapped his Focus for large saloon, some even park in front of the garages, despite being asked not to which causes problems
Anyway, husband had looked at cars when he took our Focus for a service, and was quite keen for another look. We have been trying to decide for 2 years, so we felt it was time. The young salesman saw us looking, recognised husband and came over. To cut along story short, we  test drove a Focus Cmax,  We were even allowed, under the salesman's supervision to take it to our home and try it in the garage. The verdict was that if the garage was tidied a bit it would fit.
However neither of us fancied a bronze car, so the salesman checked what else was on offer. That day, a black Cmax titanium had come in, just over 12 months old, less than 5,000 mileage. We had a look, sat in it, it felt quite comfy, and the car is higher, so I don't have difficulty getting in and out. I really seem to have stiffened up.
We decided that we would buy it, and asked for a removable towbar to be fitted, with a view to using a cycle rack. I the end we were there quite some time, and were quite late having lunch when we got home. I still wasn't feeling wonderful from the cold which I had, the cold sore had worsened,and as I my zovirax was out of date, I had to use tea tree oil, this seemed to dry it up quite quickly.
I didn't do an awful lot on the Tuesday, and on the Wednesday and Thursday we were childminding.Thursday was also husband's Birthday, and he chose to spend the morning making suet crust pastry,and some meat puddings. I took Lydia out in the buggy, leaving him to it. As we were spending so much money on the car, we didn't go out. Not easy anyway when we hand over the children at 6 pm, and spend time chatting about their day, and Daughter's day. So I did a special steak meal, and bought a nice dessert.
The Friday was Good Friday, and we had a church service at 10.00 am, then hot cross buns. I do wish that the supermarkets wouldn't sell them all year round, that doesn't make them special. Although, pedant that I am I only ever eat them at Easter. It rained so there was no prospect of a bike ride, husband was alos showing the firts signs of having caught my cold.
On the Saturday we were due to pick up the car at 12 noon, so went out very early for once to do the weekend shopping. We signed up for a deal which gives us an extended warranty, and by the time all of the paperwork was complete, it was quite late. I brought the Focus home, we had changed the insurance on that, to third party fire and theft, and were intending to have the bodywork attended to then sell it. Dealers never offer a lot in part exchange,and we could get 3 times as much for a private sale.
The new car pictured outside a different house
Lunch was pretty late again, and afterwards we went to our local motor supplies place to buy the necessary equipment for transporting bikes. There is so much on the new car to get used to, lots of electronics, park pilot, park assist, individual climate control, the radio controls are different etc etc. I can see it will take some getting used to. I did drive it up to Daughter's to give them some special Easter treats,and we were given an egg each too. However husband put it in the garage for me.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Biking, Birthday and Bexhill

I forgot to mention that as we walked into town, a week last Saturday, I saw a notice on my hairdressers window which read 'Closing Down'. I popped in and asked why, and was told the landlord had put the rent up so much that they could no longer afford it. It isn't a town centre shop, so you would expect it to be cheaper. Actually when I was browsing property for sale a couple of months ago, I had come across an ad which appeared to be the salon up for sale. I suppose they didn't tell clients, as they would have lost custom. One lady is moving to the salon where she used to work, from where she was made redundant without notice 15 months ago, it is reopening.  The owner doesn't seem to have any plans, and the other lady has her Mum living with her, her Mum has dementia. So I now need to look for a cheap and cheerful hairdresser, who doesn't mind doing dry cuts, as with my back problems I prefer not to use the 'backwash'.
On Monday of last week, we went out for a bike ride again. This time we went South again, and made it to the M25 flyover, the path on the bank near there has been restored and it was quite a smooth ride. By the time we had got home we had done 7 miles, and were quite pleased with ourselves.
M25 flyover

From underneath

Blossom near lock
On the Tuesday we decided to go to Stowe. This was part of my Birthday treat but as we child mind on a Wednesday, we had to go a day early.
Goodness knows what the satnav was doing, it sent us on a really  complicated route. We went through a housing estate at one point! We arrived at lunchtime, and as the entrance is through the 'New Inn', where the N T have their shop and cafe etc, we decided to have lunch there and then, and explore the grounds afterwards. I had a jacket potato, and husband had a pork one pot, which was a cross between a soup and a stew.
We had a look around the shop, then explored the old buildings. The New Inn was built for visitors the the park, and it was said that often people had to share a bed with complete strangers, and bugs too.
We decided to walk to the park entrance, it is all very impressive, Stowe was built to rival Buckingham palace, all around the grounds are 'temples'. We saw many, but will probably have to go again. We went into the house, which is now a school, but certain rooms are opened by the trust, and the guided tours help maintain the lovely old building. Afterwards, we walked back the shortest route across the park and got a lift on the 'buggy', as my back wasn't so good through all the walking. Thankfully the satnav gave us a sensible direct route home.
magnificent archway

Inside New Inn

Old Kitchen

First Impressions
 Palladian Bridge
Gothic Temple, now available for renting
Memorial obelisk for explorer

beautiful ornate ceiling

On the Wednesday, after opening my cards,and a couple of gifts, I went to the supermarket and stocked up, then we collected Lydia. I tried many times to phone somewhere in a nearby village to book a meal out, but the phone was engaged all the time. Lydia had a nap, in fact she was closing her eyes during lunch.
Eventually, I gave up and phoned the place where we often go for Birthday meals.
They had a table, so I booked. when we took the children home, I received presents and cards from our daughter and the children. She had also baked some cakes, and decorated them with smarties, some of which spelled Nanny, so I had to blow out candles. Later we went for our meal. Husband had salmon rilletes for starters, I had deep fried goats cheese in crumb, we had stone bass, which I didn't know till then existed, it is apparently fresh water bass. Then husband had sticky toffee pudding,and I had raspberry creme brulee. The service was really good. We decided to skip coffee, and went home.
On the Thursday we were childminding again. No real problems, I popped out and left Lydia playing, whilst her Grandad looked after her. Easier than cooping her up in the buggy.
On the Friday we packed, tidied the house and went off to visit Mum in Law. We didn't start very early, but the traffic wasn't too bad on the M25, the way that we were going. The traffic on the other carriage way was horrendous. I suddenly realised that some schools will have broken up for the Easter Holidays, so that could have been part of the reason. We arrived at around 4 pm, and later went for a walk around the village to stretch our legs. I had taken food with me, but Mum in Law had had her main meal earlier, so she had something else, and put her portion in the freezer.
We got to bed fairly late, but I managed a reasonable night, once I had untucked the top sheet which she uses under the duvet cover to save washing it.  It was so tightly tucked that I couldn't move.
The next day, we didn't have our customary walk round the village, but Mum in law wanted something in Eastbourne, so we went there. We had lunch in C&H again, I had chicken and bacon salad, and the other 2 had jacket potatoes.
It was very windy in Eastbourne, we didn't visit too many shops, husband went off and did his own thing, we found what we wanted, but didn't spend a lot. When husband rejoined us, he was happy that he had found a Dr Who mug, reduced in Lakeland. They didn't have any at the HQ in Windermere, but I did suggest he tried the Eastbourns shop, just in case. We had parked in a different car park, further to walk, but we did manage to find it again.
We drove back through Pevensey, and once back, had a cuppa, read newspapers, used the internet, then Mum in law prepared veg, and I reheated the stuffed chicken breasts which I had brought I had cooked them at home, so it was easy just to microwave them. We had a quiet evening mostly spent chatting, and tried to get to bed earlier, as it was the weekend when daylight saving begins and we didn't want to be late for church the next day.
The next morning, I appeared to be the first up, but the kitchen light was on,so I assumed that she had been about. Just after 8 I tapped on her door to tell her the time, as her service starts at 9.30, and she answered and said she wasn't going to church, as she had had a bad night.
I sat in my dressing gown, whilst husband had a shower, and attempted to do a crossword after breakfast. Then I wandered off to the ensuite, to have a shower, but just after I had washed my hair, the water went really cold. I jumped around and barely got all of the body wash off. Brr! after drying myself, I wrapped up in my dressing gown again, brushed my hair into shape, and went and sat in the living room to warm up.
Mum in law appeared after a while, and I said my shower had been cold, 'Oh Dear',she said, 'I thought you'd had your shower'. Apparently she had run a bath,and used all the hot water. There are advantages to electric showers that don't run off the hot water tank! I looked at the clock a while  later, and thought, 'I've got plenty of time', but I'll just go and get dressed'. As I put my watch on, I realised that it was almost eleven o'clock; the sitting room clock had not been put forward, I alerted husband, but it takes 10 minutes to drive to the church which we go to, so we would have been horribly late. So no one went to church that morning.
I tang the local pub/restaurant. and asked if we could go for lunch half an hour earlier. It was extremely windy still, so we drove down. There has been a slight rearrangement, so that the chef can easily get in the kitchen from the carvery. Husband had pork, we had lamb,and for desserts husband and I had Eton mess, which was beautifully presented. Mum In law had a brownie with ice cream.
We had coffee back at the bungalow, then began gathering stuff together for the journey home. we couldn't stay another night, as I had an appointment with my Osteopath, and didn't want to change it.
we left at around 4 pm, had a fairly good run, with a stop at Pease Pottage,and arrived home at about 7.15 pm, it was good to travel in the light. Nice to sleep in our own bed again.