Friday, 29 October 2010

Chester, Half Term and My Mum

PART ONE - written on Friday morning

Hello, where has this week gone to? It's flown by in a bit of a haze to be honest, I need to apply the brakes and slow things down just so I have the chance to catch up a bit!

Our Chester trip has been and gone and on the whole we had a good time. We had a few problems with the guest house which did, if I'm honest, annoy me somewhat. I booked it rather hurriedly back in the Summer and I now wish I had taken a bit more time selecting our accommodation. The guest house was very cold, they opted to turn off the heating at 8pm regardless of the outside temperature and we also had problems with our en-suite stinking of cigarettes. Apparently the smell comes in through the venting from the next door guest house. It was over powering and once the smell of cigarettes got up your nose that was all you could smell. We did move room on the second night and it was better but we then had problems with the shower either running freezing cold or scolding hot!

Chester itself was very pretty and had some fabulous old buildings and very good shops! We spent the Sunday afternoon mooching round and took an open top bus tour of the City which was very interesting. I stupidly left my camera back at the guest house thinking I would get another chance to take some photographs but we didn't have time to go back into Chester, so no pictures of the City I'm afraid.

Monday was spent at Chester zoo which was fab. Its a really big zoo and well worth a visit. It was a very cold morning so we wrapped up well and made sure we spent lots of time inside as well as out. The butterfly house was toasty warm and the monkeys were hilarious to watch, particularly the orangutans. We spent ages watching them swing on their ropes, there was one who liked to swing upside down and one with a wicked set of dreadlocks going on! Here are a few pics from the zoo.

Spot the two little monkeys swinging from the bars!

Here is one of my favourite animals. I love giraffes and could watch them for hours. They seem so gentle and elegant despite their enormous size.

Tuesday was very wet so we spent the morning looking around the Cheshire Oaks outlet village, which was rather boring if I'm honest. I'm not a fan of designer outlet centres as I find the shops full of last seasons stock and a bit of a waste of time really. After a quick look round we decided to go and have a game of bowling before we headed home. The kids enjoyed it but it's not really my thing. I hate the noise in these bowling places and all the arcade games. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a kill joy really! It was lovely to come home to a nice warm and cosy house.

The past few days has been spent catching up with friends, a football day for Alex and yesterday we had our Halloween tea which was good fun. I finally made my ginger cake with lemon icing ala Delia and it was fab. So much nicer than my last effort. Here are a few Halloween pictures to amuse you.

My quickly and rather badly carve pumpkin. I hope it lasts until Sunday!

My attempt at scary Halloween fairy cakes.

Spot the lovely new mixer, it was used to knock up the cakes and to make my ginger and lemon cake.
A rather rubbish photo of said cake. It looked so much better in real life once it was cut into squares and it tasted really good and yes, the icing was supposed to be dripping of the edges!

I haven't posted a picture of the fatty ginger puss for a while, so here she is lounging on the work top as normal (not very hygienic I know).

PART TWO - written on Friday evening

Today we are supposed to be going to the local farm to meet up with some more friends but I had a phone call this morning to say my mum is very ill. My Friend kindly took the children to the farm as arranged and I went over to see my mum with my sister. She is in a nursing home and is very poorly and frail. I'm really not sure that she will make it through, she has a chronic chest infection . They are dosing her with antibiotics and trying to make her comfortable but I fear for the worst. The doctor suggested that due to her age, and the severity of the infection we sign a "no to CPR resuscitation" form.

I have had an estranged relationship with my mum over the years, she walked out on us (my dad, two sisters and brother) when I was 14 and contact over the years has been rather limited to a couple of visits each year and a handful of phone calls. My mum suffers from Manic Depression as does my sister, and it is really hard at times to equate the feelings I still carry from childhood of a mum who was very unpredictable and at times very mentally unwell to this very frail old lady. As an adult I now understand her illness fully and can understand why she behaved as she did but it doesn't remove the feelings or some of the not nice memories that I still carry from childhood.
I think my main feeling is just one of utter sadness, my mums life has not been a happy one, her illness prevented her from being a good mum and as a result she choose to walk away from her family, which as a mother I now realise must have been an incredibly hard thing for her to do. At the time this was such a relief as life became very stable and probably for the first time in years became really happy and relatively worry free. My dad did a fantastic job of raising us. I still have feelings of guilt over the utter relief I felt when she did finally leave for good.
I feel so angry that this destructive illness has deprived me of a mum and deprived my mum of a normal happy family life.
I just needed to get this off my chest to record how I feel today. The first part of my post was typed this morning before the phone call and is all normal and cheery. I just felt that I couldn't end this post without mentioning my mum.
I really hope that she recovers enough to be able to regain some quality of life or if that isn't possible then she doesn't suffer unnecessarily.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Half Term Happiness

No school for a whole week and two days and I must admit we are all rather happy about this. I especially love October half term, it tends to be filled with lazy days interspersed with a few trips out and meeting up with friends.

We are going away to Chester on Sunday for a few days. We plan to visit the zoo and just generally see what Chester has to offer. It's supposed to be good for shopping, so fingers crossed. I hope the weather warms up a bit, it was -2 degrees here this morning (Friday). Scarves, hats, gloves and winter woollies have all been retrieved from the loft and so for once we were actually prepared for this cold snap.

I enjoyed my school trip to Hampton Court last Friday. It was a bit of a whistle stop tour, due to the restriction of being back at school by 3.20pm. The children on the whole were well behaved if not a little boisterous at times. I was very glad of a sit down and a very peaceful cup of tea when I got back to school! Hampton Court's education department arranged a talk for the children by a lady called Sally who was dressed up in Tudor costume. She was brilliant and really acted the part of a Tudor lady in waiting. She explained all about King Henry's court and how people would very easily fall out of his favour. She lined the children up in order of importance depending of the job that they carried out at court. The children though it hilarious that King Henry ranked his dogs and horses way above the majority of his staff! I do find the Tudors fascinating and have loved reading several of Philippa Gregory's Tudor based novels.

Daisy took these pictures and wanted to share them with you.

Inside Hampton Court's main courtyard.

The fountain set in the centre of Hampton Court.

The stained glass window in the Great Hall. I am definitely going back to Hampton Court and there was so much we didn't get to see and the gardens looked absolutely spectacular.

I have been busy making for my advent swap partner Pene and also crocheting my ripple blanket. Progress has been steady on both. I wish I had a bit more time for crafting and some days I feel so bogged down with the hum drum things of everyday life. I wish I had a cleaning and ironing lady who would pop in and "do" and I would take myself off to my imaginary craft room and potter and make for a few hours each day. Oh how reality is so very different!

We are planning a little Halloween tea on Thursday which my two are very much looking forward to. Julia's girls are coming over for some Halloween fun and food. I have gone a little mad this year and bought a little string of Halloween pumpkin lights, some Halloween window gel pumpkins, Halloween cake cases and toppers and lots of sweeties for trick and treater's, oh and of course a pumpkin ready to be carved. I fear I am turning into an American! I do love the way the Americans embrace Halloween and treat it as a real family fun occasion. Us Brits are real bah humbugs when it comes to Halloween (well some of us). I have no problem with kids dressed up in costumes knocking on the door asking for a sweetie or two. I do have a bit of a problem with 16 year old thugs wearing really scary masks knocking on the door and asking for money though! Lets hope with have lots of the former and none of the latter.

I have been obsessing over ginger cake lately and have been on a bit of a mission to find a recipe that in my very small mind ticks all the boxes. I tried the ginger cake recipe listed on The Pink Whisks blog but I found it too treacly and not nearly gingery enough. I am going to have a go at Delia's ginger cake with lemon icing. The only problem is that it includes a tablespoon of ground almonds. Both the little ones have a nut allergy so I need to leave out the almonds. Anyone got any great ideas on what I could use instead or has the perfect ginger cake recipe?

Well I will love you and leave you, we need to be up early tomorrow and plan to leave around 9am for our three and half hour drive up to Chester. All I can say is thank goodness for portable DVD players and DSI's - what did we do without them.

Enjoy half term.


Monday, 11 October 2010

Stitching and Knitting Show

Good evening, sorry it's been a while, it has been a very busy week!

We have been looking at secondary schools this past few weeks and it has taken up a huge amount of time. The last school open evening is on Thursday and if I am totally honest, I'm rather glad. We can get back to some sense of normality in the evenings. It's lovely looking around the schools but these evenings turn into rather dragged out affairs which involve getting home late with hungry hyper kids who then need to be calmed down enough for them to finally get to bed. School open evenings also mean very little evening crocheting time for me!

I had a lovely day out on Friday with my good friend Julia at the Stitching and Knitting show at Alexandra Palace.

We caught the train up to London and the tube to Wood Green station. We then caught the courtesy coach up the hill (along with hundreds of other women) to the grand Alexandra Palace.

I imagine in its hay day Alexandra Palace was very grand. It still had a very grand hall and beautiful stained glass windows.

The show was well worth a visit. We spent the morning browsing around the main hall, which was the main shopping arena for the show. I managed a few purchases, well quite a few actually. I invested in some gorgeous Debbie Bliss yarn for my next crochet project (not sure what that is yet!), bought some yarn for Daisy for her next little crochet adventure (she is going great guns on her granny square blanket). I also bought some fabric and some felt for some Christmas projects I have planned (these are top secret as they will form part of my advent swap).

I did feel a bit like a kid in a sweet shop, there was lots of lovely fabric and yarn to choose from. The show was fairly diverse and covered all sorts of crafts. Lots of stalls for quilting, jewellery making, beading. I managed to buy some decopatch paper which is almost impossible to come by unless you order online. I bought some MDF letters a while ago, planning to decopatch them but have not found anywhere locally that sells the pretty patterned tissue paper. I'm not keen ordering on-line as I like to see it in the flesh so to speak. We have made a start on decopatching our letters. Alex is doing a union jack/London inspired letter A, Daisy has chosen three different patterned tissue to decorate her letter D and I was left with the letter M (our surname initial) to decopatch in a swirly gold tissue. I will post a picture when they are finished.

Apart from shopping at the Show there was also some great exhibits. After our lovely lunch of tasty pumpkin and sweet potato soup and a sandwich, we headed to look around the exhibits. I only had my Iphone with me but did manage a few pics.

I loved this embroidered piece, lets just say that a lot of the ladies at the show where over a certain age!

A lot of the exhibitors would not allow their work photographed. However, the creator of these mini master pieces didn't seem to mind photographs being taken. There were about 8 miniature hats all mad from fabric but made to look like mini gastronomic feasts.

A summer pudding!

Summer berries on a fabric meringue nest.

A satin prawn made from ribbons sat on a bed of swirly salad leaves.
We left the show at 3pm and decided to whizz over to Liberty's for a mooch around and a much needed cup of tea and cake (or course).
Liberty's was as gorgeous as ever. We headed straight up to the fabrics and oohed and aahed over the gorgeous racks. We both fell in love with some Liberty print silks, only £35 per meter! I did manage a half a metre of some Christmas print fabrics which I plan to turn into some Christmas bunting very soon.
We headed into the little tea room styled cafe it was sort of retro with a modern twist if that makes any sense. We ordered two pots of tea and a couple of slices of cake. The tea was real loose leaf tea and tasted wonderful and the cake, mine was a ginger loaf slice, Julia's a lemon loaf was equally gorgeous. We made sure we drank every last drop of the tea. It was pricey but much needed after our busy day. We finally headed home on the train very tired but happy after our lovely day out.
Saturday was also manic as we had the school ball in the evening to look forward to. As ever I was very unprepared and left it until Saturday afternoon to go looking for some new makeup and a wrap/shawl type affair to go with my dress. Luckily I found the perfect wrap (well its a scarf actually) in White Stuff and then had my makeup selected by two very camp but very knowing guys in Space NK. They knew exactly what colour lippy would go with my dark purple dress and managed to sell me a co-ordinating mascara and eye shadows. I left the shop with my little bag of goodies and my purse much lighter.
The ball was a great success, I think a good time was had by all. I consumed a fair amount of wine but didn't get outrageously drunk and felt fairly good the next day. Mr P and I had a lovely long lie-in the next morning (the little ones were shipped off to the in-laws overnight) and enjoyed a gorgeous fry up which is just the job after a fairly heavy night out! I fear some of my friends didn't get off so lightly. One lady turned up at school this morning with her shoulder all strapped up, she has a dislodged shoulder joint! She managed to fall out of the of the minibus when she was being dropped off!
I am helping on a school trip on Friday with Daisy's class. We are off to Hampton Court, which should be great. I haven't been for years.
Off to knitting and crochet group tomorrow which is always a really pleasant evening.
Well I will love you and leave you, still feeling whacked from the weekend. I feel the need to do a couple of rows of ripple before I turn out the lights.
Till next time.
Alison xx