Friday, 31 July 2015

Crocky Trail

Crocky Trail

Today we went to the Crocky Trail which is near Chester. We regularly make a trip in the holidays and usually take along someone else's child as the more friends, the more fun to be had.

It's hard to describe this place and each time we go something has been added or changed. You'll find nothing like it anywhere else. Basically it is the genius idea of a farmer who believes children need rough and tumble adventures in the freedom of outdoors. It appeals to all ages, (and dogs) who can try the variety of ex farm machinery games. Then there is the trail itself with the variety of rickety bridges, rope swings and obstacles alongside a stream. I've seen groups of teenagers whooping along absolutely caked in mud.

Recently they have introduced the dungeon and a small interactive film show for the more intrepid visitor. Trust me these are genuinely scary and don't take in a sensitive child or adult. They do an adult Halloween in October but I've not been brave enough for that one!

If you go, then pack a picnic, spare clothes which you can leave in your car and collect when/if needed. When you go around the trail do carry drinks as half way round your child will be red faced and thirsty. Do only wear old tatty clothes as everyone gets black and filthy and be prepared for bumps and bruises. Keep legs and elbows covered if you can.

This place comes highly recommended by us and in the years we've been going I've not had a single child come away unhappy. Usually they and their families become regulars too and the great thing is older children love it as well. Actually, usually as I'm driving out of the place the children fall asleep as they are absolutely worn out!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Musing and pottering

It's been a funny couple of days. I'm finding it strange not working at the moment, Odd how when I am there is so much I want to do but when I actually have some time I can't remember what it was.
The girls haven't wanted to do much really and apart from some games of badminton and chess with the youngest we've all pretty much done our own thing. What happened before the internet?

I've been time wasting on Mumsnet and browsing through the relationships section. Oh my there are some sad stories on there. Some are almost identical to my own so I can relate to them. It does make me cynical about marriage, which is a shame as I'm sure (am I?) that there must be some happy ones out there. Good luck to you if you are in one!

For some relief I turned to the wonderful thread on weird internet dating on the same page. Well I laughed until tears rolled down my face. Really? If only half of these are true I'm certainly not trying online dating. Some of the posters tell it really well and it does make for entertainment but away from it I find it all a little sad. Are men and women so very different? It would appear so from these threads...

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Gooseberry muffins

Well it's been another rainy day so a bit of baking was in order. Plus we were waiting for a delivery man and couldn't go out. First came the "Glut Pies" which were made in the muffin tin. Shortcrust pastry, blind baked for 10 minutes then filled with a mashed up mix of lightly fried courgette, carrot, spinach, garlic and potato. Added some grated cheese then popped back in the oven. They were yum but a bit spicy for the girls as I had used a chili that was lurking in the fridge.

Next came these beauties. "Glut Pies" used up some of the veg from the garden but what to do with 6 raspberries, 10 blackcurrants and a handful of dessert gooseberries? Muffins of course, why not?

Gooseberry muffins
8oz self raising flour
4oz butter
3 or 4oz sugar (depending on tartness of fruit add more if needed)
1 egg
splash of milk
gooseberries (and 6 raspberries and 10 blackcurrants!)

Cream butter and sugar together in bowl. Add beaten egg and flour gradually to mix. Use a splash of milk if needed then add fruit and mix until just combined. No need to overdo it.

Put into paper cases in your muffin tin and bake in hot oven 190 C. These took about 15 minutes but my oven only works on the top and is hotter at the back so your oven may do it in a shorter time.

These were lovely and it is taking all my will power not to pig out on them. As we also made jam tarts and chocolate cookies it has been a gluttonous day.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Odd jobs

Time off with the children is a wonderful experience and I am grateful for the opportunity. Many working parents must juggle childcare and work commitments throughout the long school holidays. We are mostly pottering and I'm getting some of those niggly jobs done. The photo above shows the chair revamped for the 10 year old. Like me she adores patchwork and colour and this is what she wanted her chair to look like.

Originally this was a battered old chair which was gifted to us. Hey we're not proud and could give it a new home. Firstly the wood was rubbed down with some fine sandpaper, cleaned and then painted a soft duck egg blue using the Dulux brand. I've tried cheaper paints but trust me in the end they are just not worth it, Often to get a good coverage a cheap paint needs extra coats which is time and labour and the finish is never as neat as with the more expensive types. My favourite is Crown simply because I've found it the most consistent for good results.

Next the 10 year old wanted the seat cover changed from the dull beige of the original. It was in good condition so I sewed the patchwork directly onto it by hand. Luckily for us we had acquired a pretty patchwork skirt in a charity shop and simply used this. It has also been used as a lampshade cover, again simply sewing it onto an original cover. I think it works well and looks feminine and the 10 year old is very happy. She has decided she now wants patchwork curtains but we'll have to find some other material for them at a later date.

Oh, she has a thing about owls...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Rainy Sunday

Rain. rain and yet more rain on this Sunday but luckily we had things planned. First we went to a photo shoot no less which was a Christmas present form my lovely brother. After some awkwardness and quite a lot of acting because the girls had to pretend to like each other, the photographer was done. Next was a trip to Starbucks as the 11 year old thinks this is a cool place to be seen. Afterwards we went to the cinema and saw "Inside Out" which was an unusual film but we all laughed so I think it was a success.

Home, and the 11 year old disappeared to her bedroom and technology and the 10 year old pinched the laptop so I got the sewing machine out and attempted to fix it. Oh Yeah! Did it and made a pillow case with some material I've had for ages. I like my home made pillow cases. :0)

So easy to make and plenty of tutorials on the internet although just use one you have as a rough guide, cut out material, with seam allowances, make one side longer for the envelope that is tucked inside, hem both short ends, fold over the envelope part (I like to make mine quite long) and sew up the two sides and the bottom. That more or less is it and it is so easy to do I don't think I will ever buy any again.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Another ghostly event

Look at these beauties picked today. I'm so glad we planted young fruit trees in the garden as it is paying off this year. These have already found a home in one of the demijohns along with some sugar and a bottle of brandy from Lidl. I don't particularly like brandy but we'll see what cherry brandy is like and it will make nice Christmas presents hopefully. The trying something new everyday is going quite well although it has mostly involved homemade brewing and recipes. I did sell my wedding ring in a pawn shop last week which was definitely a first time thing. I got £32 for it and the girls split the money and spent it in Claires Accesories on girly fripperies.

I mentioned seeing Mr Bartlett, my resident ghost, in yesterday's post. Well he was not the first time I've seen one. When I was 18, my grandmother on my mother's side died and we were all very upset. Three days later, I was playing my piano and having a little private cry when suddenly she was there stood besides me. It was midday and she was smiling at me, a beautiful wide smile. Her hair was in soft dark grey curls, she was wearing a yellowish cardigan and dark trousers. She told me not to be upset as she was fine and so happy and there was nothing to worry about. I didn't hear the words but they came as the clearest thoughts. I went and told my Mum and I didn't cry anymore for my grandmother. I smile when I think of her and am so grateful she took the time to come back.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Bumps in the night

I wish I had her energy! Today has been rainy and glum so a wall has been repainted white, an oak beam has been sealed and varnished and another beam is being stripped of old manky paint, years old with lots of bumpy dust bits stuck underneath the paint. I think preparation was not something this little old home ever saw much of. According to Jim. my neighbour, who popped over earlier with two gorgeous mini cupcakes for the girls. there has been a history of interesting tenants.

 The one before last used to display a 10 foot high inflatable Elvis in the garden frightening many an unsuspecting driver. This guy also was a bit of a rogue and fell out with many people including his landlord. His revenge as he was evicted was to leave a Shetland pony and a large dog in the house whilst he was away wheeling and dealing. There are still teeth marks in two of the doors today.

When this cottage first came on the market I missed it as I wasn't quite ready to purchase. My funds were limited and I was beginning to despair of finding anything I liked. Then this one came back on as the first buyer mysteriously disappeared. I went along and instantly fell in love. It was in dire need of modernisation but with every step I took I knew it was the home for us. Even the bedrooms were all an equal size not like the modern homes where bedroom 3 is the size of a coffin. It took 7 months because the Co-op were the sellers and they would not accept offers but made everyone put in a sealed bid and a written statement of personal circumstances. Each stage went through several board meetings and I knew when we were in the last three that our luck might finally be in. It was and I still love this place and most visitors comment on the feel of it. In spite of it's age I don't think it is haunted, certainly not by an unhappy spirit.

 One place I lived in had a very cross ghost. I saw him standing at the end of my bed glaring at me. He was so put out with me being there. He was short, brown eyed, dumpy and dressed in brown tweeds and wore a cap. I still remember it well although in sheer fright I pulled the duvet over my head and must have fallen asleep eventually, I moved my bed the next morning into another room and moved out shortly afterwards. The girl who moved in after me was a policewoman and she only managed a month. I wonder if he is still there! If you sat downstairs sometimes you would hear his footsteps in the room above you even during the daytime. That was a little cottage in Devon just down the hill from the Lympstone Royal Marine training camp,

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Paint and punches

The 10 year old has chosen her colours along with a homemade patchwork cover for her seat. I think it reflects her very well. She loves to live in colourful chaos and a tidy room makes her feel uncomfortable and sad. She is one of those people who likes to spread her things out everywhere.
The 11 year old is the opposite and cannot bear untidiness although she does not ever offer to clean up so as you can imagine there are many clashes between these two.

I hope as they get older they may become friends but seriously have my doubts. After all why do we expect siblings to get along? They can be so different and there is always an undercurrent of rivalry no matter how fair the parent strives to be. I am often accused of preferring one daughter to the other which is untrue but I can see why she might believe it so. I am sometimes too quick to assume the eldest has punched her sister without provocation and I know that this is not always the case. Sometimes I read or hear other parents talking about how well their children get along and how they never argue or fight but sweetly share everything. Do you know what? I'll whisper it in your ear, just between us, I don't believe them...

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sweetness and gin

Well we have bottled up the strawberry gin and it is sweet and tasty. Perhaps a little on the sweet side but we will let it stand for a few months and have some more sips. When I say we, I mean me of course although I know the 11 year old would like some!

Jim is telling me to pickle my beetroot and let my courgettes become marrows to make wine. He wants to come damson picking with us in the autumn and make more wine. His wife says it is like a brewery in her house. Whenever she opens a cupboard door or the airing cupboard there is a demijohn or a jar or something gurgling away. Jim blames me, saying  I have started him off again on an old hobby. Either way I think we must seem like a pair of alcoholics. I have the best neighbours,

I'm still cogitating over yesterdays events with the angry lady trying to get credit out of my brother. I feel a little sad and wonder why it is people do seem to think they can take advantage of us as a family. The 11 year old is Miss Feisty Pants so I know she will probably be smart enough to do well in life but the 10 year old has victim written all over her. She is just so nice. So gentle and sensitive and generous. She reminds me of my Mum. I wish they were both tougher with some of the folk who take advantage of their kind natures. It's a worry isn't it seeing those you love most getting hurt.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Chess moves

I'm playing chess, without my queen, against my youngest daughter who intends to compete in next terms Chess club at school. When she has beaten me three times in a row I'll reintroduce the most powerful piece on my team. Strange isn't it, that in such an ancient game, the King is weak and needs protecting and the true power lies with the queen.

If life is like chess then today I sacrificed a pawn. Those are the small guys, the cannon fodder if you like. A mum I chat to sometimes and whose daughter is friends with my youngest is no longer speaking to me and therefore preventing her daughter from associating with mine. I find this sad, and rather immature of the lady, but luckily my daughter does not seem overly concerned. My crime is to be related to a garage owner. The lady in the story, I cannot really call her a heroine, has recently become unhappy with service at another garage, one whose owners we know rather well. She organised for her vehicle to be towed from them to my brother's garage and lied to the first owner about the price my brother would charge her as she and I were friends. Naturally the owner rang my brother who knew nothing about this lady or her vehicle nor had he given a quote for the work involved.

Now this would not necessarily have been a problem, however the work was done and the lady turned up to collect the repaired vehicle and asked how much she could pay off the debt weekly. The bill was over £500. I was not there but my brother, having been warned this lady still owed money to the first garage refused her credit as 1) he does not know her and 2) he is not a bank, so he refused to let her drive off without paying in full. She did so but is now saying she has been totally humiliated and does not want me or my daughter in her life. As I also know both she and her husband work, have only one child and like to spend heavily on drink, fast food restaurants and good times I think she is being unfair. Her daughter came with us to Harry Potter World, (I bought the tickets and paid for everything as my daughter's birthday treat) and this child had brought £50 to spend in the gift shop which I thought was unbelievably extortionate and she still tried to ask me to buy things for her on top of this.

So a pawn has gone out of our lives. I told the lady, life is too short for grudges and I thought we should show our girls how relationships can work through difficulties and how the important thing was the possible impact on the girls' happiness. She was having none of it and so my daughter knows she is excluded from this particular friendship. Oh dear. What would you have done?

Monday, 20 July 2015


This book was bought on impulse as I had a rare chance to pass by Waterstones on Thursday evening after dropping off the 10 year old with friends at an Italian restaurant and on route to rejoin the 11 year old and her friends at Pizza Express. 5 minutes of pure bliss, a sneaky browse by myself and a chance to look through the books I like rather than the children section. There is something about the smell and feel of a new book, the excitement of all those unexplored ideas and stories waiting to be discovered. I was short of time, bought one book and as I was paying saw this one on the counter. Half price the lovely assistant said helpfully and we only put special books on show, new ones with good reviews. So I added it and rushed off.

I started it last night and finished it this morning and have passed it onto my Mum who is a voracious reader. It is beautifully expressive, well written and flows so well I just wanted to keep going. The author is a Doctor and his thoughtfulness, intelligence and compassion shine through his words. It was not the book I was expecting and it makes for uncomfortable reading. He describes the deaths and ending of life of some of his patients and his own family. His contention is Medicine is missing a vital part in the success of extending life by not necessarily adding to the quality of our final years. He also describes pioneers seeking to rectify some of the horrors and the benefits of hospice care.

The subject matter is almost unbearable as it confronts our own deaths to come and those of our loved ones. It is so poignant and I almost wish I had not read it but I am so glad I did. I now have to be clear sighted about what I want in my life, my ambitions, the way I interact with my family and loved ones and to stop wasting time on the trivial unimportant details. It is a sharp reminder to analyse what matters and exactly what is quality of life right now and what compromises I will make now and in the future. This is a life changing read and an unforgettable book.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Absences and leavers

 Dear all, sorry for not posting the last three nights. We had social events which is a major novelty for me at least! Some of the year 6 leavers organised a meal for the girls and their mums on Thursday which was lovely. Seeing all the children dressed up and seated at their own table was beautiful except they don't look so young any more. Still the grown up veneer slipped when during courses they nipped outside into the gardens for an impromptu game of tag.

Friday I was invited to a grown up drinks party by a lady from school. The children had their own thing going on in the basement with PlayStation set ups and a games room with loads of snacks. The conversation was interesting, varied and I enjoyed myself although normally a room full of strangers making small talk is enough to have me running for the hills. I wish I was the gregarious type.

Do you like the home grown vegetables? Excuse the smudge of a fingerprint on the camera. They tasted delicious and I know people bang on about how there is nothing like fresh produce picked and on the plate within 20 minutes but it is really true. They taste so different.

Enjoy your Sunday whatever you have planned. X

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Tears of a Teacher

Today was "Leavers Assembly" for the Year 6. It was funny, alright, imaginative and poignant depending on the children involved. The quieter individuals surprised the parental audience with some beautifully performed sketches quite surpassing the usual group of "in your face" pupils. It must have been good as the wonderful Head Teacher started crying (he's 6 foot 4 and built like a rugby player) which made several parents become watery eyed and some of the children then sobbed. Mine performed a Miranda sketch which was a first for the school and a quiet boy stole the show singing like an angel whilst performing the cup song.

Thinking that was quite enough emotion for one day and then heading for the special meeting called by the new Secondary School I witnessed another Headteacher burst into tears. His were ones of frustration, shame and real upset at his school going into special measures. I'm still not sure what to think of him, he talks too much and his answers are not clear but then he is under tremendous pressure. They did claim Ofsted had been too harsh but they would say that. On the positive note the new Chair of Governors seems very alert and competent. I liked him and got the chance for a private chat afterwards and I believe he may prove to be a big part in turning things around for the school. We'll see. In the meantime the 11 year old is now crying and saying she doesn't want to go to a new school, it's too hard and why can't she stay at home and I teach her? Oh dear it's going to be a long summer holiday...

PS mine are the blondes on the left. I think they are really pretty!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Silent Brass

This instrument was once my most treasured possession and I used to practice an hour a day and attend Band practice twice a week. I had a lot of fun and a lot of upset too. The competitive side of Brass Band contesting is addictive, exhilarating and highly stressful depending on your personality. I was the nervous type cast against my introverted nature and had to perform solos at concerts and sometimes in contest pieces. I always did it but ended up taking beta blockers on the day of the performance so I got through it. I wasn't alone as many players do. What a silly hobby eh?

Three years ago the children and I moved back to my home county of Shropshire for the support of family and I haven't played the flugel since. Now I don't miss it or indeed have the time but for sentimental reasons, I suppose, I've kept the instrument just in case. Well no longer. Decision made and Ebayland here it comes. My other instrument went last year and a fine cornet player off to the Royal School of Music bought it. He was a far better player than I ever was and it was lovely to hear the sound he made. Hopefully this one will also be enjoyed again rather than stored on a cupboard under the stairs.

Do you hang onto things long past their usefulness to you?

Monday, 13 July 2015

I want a Wizard

To be honest I'm in need of a good wizard at the moment. All three of us don't feel that well and at the moment there is quite a lot of stress flying around in our lives. It would be just lovely to have Professor Snape here and on our side, Ah well...

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Summer painting

Today was beautiful but apart from picking some courgettes, beetroot and a bunch of sweet peas for Jim and Brenda I didn't get to spend any time in the garden. No, the 10 year old wanted her bedroom painted and well. a promise is a promise so I set too. Luckily as it was only painted last year after the speediest renovations possible before we moved in, the walls didn't need too much attention or filler. There has been some movement and a few cracks but very minor. So the first wall was blue. The next was green and we linked it by painting the join as a jigsaw shape. It worked quite well. The last wall is pink but I didn't finish as I needed a new clean roller head so only had a little brush which takes ages. I offered the 10 year old my bedroom but she has happily gone to sleep with her bed in the middle of the room and no curtains. She has announced she wants patchwork curtains now. Last year we made 2 hexagon patched cushions out of their old outgrown clothes and she loves the higgledy piggledy look. So do I. We spotted an amazing patchwork sofa in the Range of all places on Saturday and both fell in love with it. Out of our price range though so our comfortable shabby second hand one will be staying for a long while yet. Perhaps we may decorate it...

The 11 year old just made me laugh. She announced she wants her own blog and is going to to an advice column for teenagers!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Colour craziness

So the 10 year old has decided it is time to decorate her bedroom in her own style. The pottery above, painted by her, gives you a fair idea of her choice of colour mixes. This child is always decorating her room by scattering every piece of jewelry she owns on every available surface. She does not feel comfortable with a minimalist room and needs stuff all around her. Sometimes I cannot bear to go into her room because it is so cluttered but any tidying up sessions are speedily reversed so I tend to use avoidance tactics.

Anyway she has chosen to do three walls in colour, easy peasy green, palm springs blue and cherry lush pink. Heaven knows what it will look like but I trust her judgement as she seems to have the knack of pulling diverse things together in an artistic individual way. I'm useless so I ask her advice sometimes. I have no idea about fashion or style and readily admit to no interest either. I watched a TED talk recently and the guy on it said "don't follow fashion...because you can never catch are always following..." I like that.

Friday, 10 July 2015

A school in trouble

Oh the dilemma. What do I do? Last night the 11 year old worked herself up into dramatic tears worrying about the bus journey to the school she is due to attend in September. She successfully negotiated 3 days of bus catching during Transition week so I know she can do it. She does not like the other children on the bus so of course now hates the school. Some of this is probably partly the emotions most Year 6 children feel at the end of their time at Primary School.

She cannot go to a school in our local nearest town with all her classmates because our home falls into another local authority area and she must travel 8 miles in the other direction. I went through the school appeal system but there were too many others doing the same and we did not stand a chance. This is not necessarily a real problem with friendship groups as she has not bonded with anyone in particular at her current school although she did in her previous one.

The problem now is the new school has been put into special measures this week. It's last Ofsted was good but now it is in real trouble in all four areas of inspection. There is an emergency meeting for all new parents next week at the school presumably to reassure us all that action will be taken to resolve the identified weaknesses. The Chair of Governors has been replaced already. In December the school is moving into a beautiful £18,000,000 new building.

 Today I checked our position on the waiting lists for the schools we appealed for; still 13th place for the top 2 so no chance. I rang a private all girls school in desperation. Did they have an available bursary? Unlikely but they are going to check for me and have invited us to go and sit the entrance exam next week and to go and meet them. I got home to find the admission people have offered us a place at the 3rd school we looked at but turned down previously as it will be a nightmare to get to because of the daily traffic jams. The nearest town is small and this school is the other side of it from us. However it is a good school, overcrowded but most of her classmates will attend there. She didn't want to go there and tonight when I told her said she would think about it.

What do I do? I spoke to the deputy Head teacher at her current school and she said special measures can be a positive thing as external help and funding are poured in and things are closely monitored. She also said my daughter will do well where ever she goes which was nice to hear. Oh dear oh dear...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Cherry Ripe and Rudeness

This is our version of "summertime cherry-basil bruschetta" from the wonderful The Oh She Glows Cookbook. (Beware imitations - notsodeliciouslyyouknowwho). This was not something we have ever tried before but there were cherries on the tree, strawberries, basil and mint in the garden and a baguette from Lidl in the kitchen. It was very nice. You marinate the fruit, herbs and a chopped red onion in balsamic vinegar for 15 minutes. Slice the bread on an angle and cook it for 10 minutes in a very hot oven until golden. Spread on the marinade and enjoy. Easy peasy although a little too new and radical for the resident fusspots. So far every recipe from the book has worked very well. Loud applause for Angela Liddon please.

I've been thinking  a lot about introducing a daily new experience or change into my life. It is so easy to become repetitive, days melting into weeks and before you know it life is nearly over.

 Today at work a customer was unnecessarily rude and grumpy. He is known for it but it does make me wonder why people have to be ill tempered and nasty. It is like online trolling. Why do some people feel the need to make spiteful comments? Surely life is far too precious to waste in this way? Yesterday I unexpectedly met a woman whom I went to school with and although we have both gone on to experience much in our lives, our conversation mostly revolved around memories of a very spiteful teacher. Miss C. was an ex-nun and was vicious, mean and jealous of the young girls. She was also rubbish at teaching, perhaps because we all hated her. Yet one of my most fond memories is of the history teacher in my first year who left me with a life long enjoyment of the subject which even the evil one could not completely destroy. Miss Digby, if only all teachers were like you the world would be a happier place...

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Out with the old

Today I've been thinking about trying something new as day 3 of my new resolution dawns. I got to drive a Volkswagen Beetle car which was fun and not something I've done before but it seemed a little lame.  I drive all the time and am really not into cars. As long as I can get in and the thing starts well the rest doesn't matter to me. My only preference is a small vehicle as they are easier to park. (Why doesn't someone invent wheels that turn sideways?)

So why the picture of an old woodburner? Well my lovely Mum (who spoils me) treated us to a new one a couple of months ago. She was worried because the old one is badly cracked on the top. We went to Ludlow in Shropshire and wandered around the beautiful Dinham house and chose one of the locally made burners.   Unfortunately because there already was an old second hand burner installed only last year, their fitters would not do the new one without putting in everything fresh. Not much point as all the flue was new. The very nice salesman said it was an easy job to change the burners over and I would be able to do it.

 Right. These are VERY heavy. So I've been waiting for someone to come and help. It's not going to happen is it! So tonight I did get the old one out all by myself using leverage and luck. That is something I've definitely not done before. I've painted the fireplace while it is empty so that's a good reason not to try and wrestle the new one in place. Maybe tomorrow but looking at the weeds in the path I think there is yet another job lined up...

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Happy Day

Go-carting is on the list for something new by request from the 10 year old who has done it a few times already. Her sister and I have not so no doubt we will be whooped by little Miss Speedy. I'll save up and we will have a go in the Summer holidays. We don't have any holiday booked as finances are a little elastic (made to stretch but liable to snap if pulled too hard). We will have odd days here and there and fill our time quite happily.

The new thing for today was quite lame. I cooked a Thai curry for tea which was fine but not exceptional and we probably won't bother again. This is more a reflection on my catering skill than Thai food by the way

Today has been a good day. The school reports are out and forgive the crowing but both girls had amazing ones full of "delight"..."pleasure to teach"..."outstanding"..."well done"..."exceptional talent"...  Wow I'm so pleased for both of them. They do work hard and deserve their moments of glory. Toy Chica, the yellow doll won her owner 3 A*s and pride of place in the year six open evening and luckily the year five display featured a papier mache Spitfire (of all things!) made earlier this year as part of a World War 2 project by the 10 year old.

All this happiness made me think. If I am the opposite of depressed does this mean I'm pressed? If pressed means squashed or flattened surely de-pressed should mean not flattened but buoyant? So in this case wouldn't it mean happy? (Sorry - too much time spent with young inquisitive minds!).

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Strawberry Gin

The 10 year old has been asking to go strawberry picking for a few weeks so today we visited a local farm near our home. It was small but the fruit and vegetables were beautiful. We were given our punnets and happily spent an hour filling them with only a few being munched as we worked.
We picked too many but that's fine as we are going to try strawberry gin as the damson variety is so tasty. None of us are big jam lovers.

2lb of strawberries
2lb of sugar
1 bottle of gin 70cl.

Hulled the strawberries and had to chop them to fit into the narrow mouth of the demijohn. All ingredients placed inside, a rubber stop in the top and a good shake. Let's see what happens.

I took a big bowl of strawberries and a bottle of damson gin across the road to Jim and Brenda. Hopefully they will enjoy them as I know Jim will tell me exactly what he thinks! Jim has made gallons of wine and beer throughout the years and has some old recipe books. He suggests I try parsnip wine next as it is easy and quick.

I've promised myself to try something new everyday even if it is a tiny change. Blogging is like a public promise so now it is in words I'll have to follow through. Day 1 - Strawberry Gin making.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gin and talk in the park

Excuse the blurry photograph but we bottled some of the damson gin that has been quietly brewing in the under stairs cupboard. It tastes beautiful but I'm thinking it must be pretty potent because I've sipped a small glass and can definitely feel the effects already! I'll give Jim, my neighbour, a bottle tomorrow and see what he and Brenda think of it.

Today was mostly spend ferrying the 10 year old to dance class then a party. Afterwards some of us headed to the Quarry in Shrewsbury where there is a play park. I listened to a dear friend opening up about her past marriage. I'm glad she talked. She suffered years of emotional abuse and trauma and three years on is still coming to terms with things. I wish there was a way of connecting with young girls to say "no, it is not your fault, it is not you but please leave anyone who treats you badly". If I can leave my girls with just one thing, it will be to value themselves and so never be in a position to put up with any kind of abuse.

What is the one thing you would pass on to your child?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Solar farm in my backyard?

My neighbour came over for a cup of tea tonight as he hadn't seen us all week and later I returned to his house with him for more chat with him and his wife. They are perturbed by a local plan for a solar farm in our village and are speculating that it is to be built in the field next to my home. This is our current view. They wanted to know my opinion which was difficult as I haven't seen the plans so don't know where it is proposed to build.

I respect and am fond of my neighbours but they do get excited by village gossip. Last time they were all speculating that there were 200 new houses going to be built on this field and the access lane was the one by me that leads to our house and one either side of us. Luckily I was able to point out that I actually own this small lane so that rumour was not true!

There is a new solar farm just outside Shrewsbury and it is invisible to the town and not close to any residential homes. I don't believe planners would site another one so close to homes especially as there are three other fields further away shielded by woodland and away from the few houses that make up this little village. Personally I'm in favour as solar has to be the way to go but hopefully it will be sited in the far away fields. We'll see...

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Toy Chica fnaf

Well this is the reason I didn't post last night.  Toy Chica was ready to go, then the 11 year old changed her mind and wanted rigid legs and decided she was not smooth enough. Oh we had tears and much wailing. How she was going to fail, end up on the red traffic light and generally be a complete loser for the rest of her life.

At 9pm I insisted she went to bed and promised I would finish it. I did toy with being a firm parent and sanctimoniously preach about how less time on the play station and more on her homework might have been a good idea. I thought about it. Whether it was a lesson she needed. But she was so upset and I hope (although doubt) next time will be different. Why did I help? Because I love her and because she is like me. I finished a degree (hons) with the Open University last year and I think that bar one, all assignments were submitted during the very last minutes. The final one I worked right through the night and sent it at 5am. Sadly the 11 year old has inherited the last minute dot com gene. I'm not proud but there you have it, like mother like daughter.

This morning there were happy smiles and lots of decorating going on. The doll is so wet with paint and varnish she cannot be moved and I dare not clean up the mess around her just in case she gets knocked. Hopefully she will have dried out enough to make her debut at school tomorrow. If anything falls off during transit I think the 11 year old will faint!