Monday, 12 October 2015

Me on a mid October Monday

I decided back in the summer that I was going to make my sister a quilt as her Christmas present.  Having bought fabric quite a while ago I decided on Saturday that it was finally time to take scissors to it and get sewing, because the longer I left it, the more likely it was that I'd never get round to doing it.
It felt good to have all the sewing equipment out again, although it naturally led to dinner being later than planned as time just flies when that sewing machine comes out! 
My son offered to take his girlfriend's brother to look round the University of the South Bank on Saturday as he'll be applying to UCAS very soon.  Now, we knew that our surname Keyworth is also a place in Nottingham, but we didn't realise quite how famous we were in London too.  Not only is there a Keyworth Centre at the University but in order to get there you have to travel down here ... 

Mary Poppins may have had 'raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens' but I also had a few of my favourite things going on Sunday morning.  Rediscovering my old faithful Simply Red Albums (yes I still remember ALL the words); Singing along to ALL the songs at the top of my voice {remind me never to apply for Britain's Got Talent} as I had the house to myself for a couple of hours; turning the blackberries we picked last week into a blackberry and apply crumble for lunch and getting a few more of those quilt blocks made

So where does that leave Me on Monday?  Well I'm waving frantically to Sian, who organised this meme and also taking advantage of the sunshine and taking the dog and the husband for a walk around the fields in the town where I grew up.  I mistakenly thought it might be muddy so was dressed in wellies which seriously hampered me in keeping up with them.  Once that dog gets the smell of rabbits in her nostrils, nothing will hold her back!
Before escaping to the great outdoors I had already worked my half day today.  Had a cheeky little smile to myself as I realised the importance of naming Excel spreadsheets appropriately.  Remember those aptitude tests from last week?  Well they happened on Saturday so this morning was spent co-ordinating all the results.  There were several parts to the sports tests: endurance, balance, speed, agility with large balls, accuracy with small balls etc.  I decided to name the sheets according to the teacher who had been responsible for scoring them, followed by a short term for the section of the test.  I was fine with 'Melanie - Balance', and 'Zoe - Endurance' but when I got to 'Richard - Small Balls' I had a little smirk and realised that this is how nicknames get started!  I'll never look at him in the same way again ;-)
Thank goodness I can pull myself together to find the new edition of my Quilting magazine had been delivered, perfect timing for a sit down and a cup of tea. Hope your Monday is equally relaxing! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Me on an October Monday

The dynamics of the home changed this weekend. Our son came back for the weekend. He took over the remote control, politics was discussed, football scores were under discussion and rugby was watched.  The less we say about the last one there the better ...
Strictly Come Dancing was recorded to be enjoyed at a later time when conversation about the new leader of the Labour Party and the worth of the footballer who scored five goals in 20 minutes is over. It's amazing how different things are by adding one 25 year old male back into the fold. I think my husband relishes these changes in conversation subjects and I love hearing them discussing things that I either know little about, or don't enjoy discussing.  I was happy to listen to their chat in the background while I made a big batch of chilli con carne and jacket potatoes, and wait for our daughter and her boyfriend to arrive to complete the family reunion

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and a long dog walk turned into a fruit picking event.

Blackberries harvested and sloes picked ready to make the annual sloe gin.  We hadn't gone prepared with containers but ever the resourceful family, fortunately each of us found spare poo bags (clean and unused) in our pockets which were soon used to carry our goodies home.  An unexpected benefit of being a dog owner. We must have made a strange sight on the way home though, each of us carrying a couple of full bags - the neighbours must think the dog has some odd and unpleasant digestive trouble!
It's a busy week for me at work, so Me on Monday saw me at my desk drowning in a sea of letters and excel spreadsheets.  Ours is a very popular school so people are desperate to get their daughters admitted.  Each year we have an intake of 160 and we offer 10% of places to those who gain the highest scores in musical and/or sport aptitude tests.  That's 16 places in total - 8 for music and 8 for sport.  But I've had 248 applicants to take the tests!  Some take one, some the other and some take both.  Plus I have to find out if they've applied to any of the other local schools who do the same tests so we can make sure they are only entered once.  It's a logistical nightmare but I think we're almost there ...

Remember those blue skies and sunny days we had last week?  The bright but warm autumnal feel to the air?  Well it's gone.  We woke up to drizzle this morning, which turned to heavier rain and I've nudged the temperature up on the heating thermostat.  Lunch was a warming leek and potato soup and a hunk of bread, whilst reading a magazine. 
Now I've warmed up a bit I'm giving up a wave to SianWhy not pop over to her blog and see what she is up to today!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My reading habits

One of my favourite blogs to read is Julie's.  Her sense of humour and style of writing always makes me smile and I love to see when her updated blog post shows up in my reading panel. Do you read her blog?  If not, then you are missing a treat, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  She's one of those bloggers that I think would be really fun to meet.  Although she doesn't like dogs so I don't think there's any point inviting her round any time soon!  She recently wrote a post here about books and suggested people join in with the theme so without further ado, I'm going to jump right in.  Even though I do only have two photos of me reading and both times I'm not alone!  (Look away now Julie, both involve my four legged friend)

Q: Do you have a certain place at home to read?
Now, it may seem a little odd to sit in a dog's bed and read a book and I promise you that isn't my 'certain place'.  We have a new librarian at work and she had a idea for a competition where students had their photo taken of them reading in an unusual place.  As always she also wanted staff to join in too.  The winning entries included a girl in a wheelie bin and one half way up a climbing wall in the gym.  Mine was very tame in comparison!
So in reality, my favourite reading place in the evening is in bed.  No matter what time I go to bed I have to have a short while reading a chapter (or two) of my book.   Daytime reading is best carried out in the conservatory, curled up in the armchair with the sun coming in through the windows.   Another favourite place is laying on a sun lounger on a beach or by a pool.  Accompanied by frequent offers of drinks and snacks of course.
Q: Reading at home or everywhere?
Everywhere.  If ever I have an appointment at the doctors, opticians or whatever I cannot just sit and wait.  I have to have something to read.  And isn't it always the way that your name is called just as you are getting to a good bit?
There's always the dilemma of how much reading material to take on holiday.  I usually take a couple of proper paper books and then download a few onto my Kindle.  I couldn't rely on just the Kindle because what would happen if the battery charger broke and I was half way through a book?  Can you imagine - thousands of miles from home and nothing to read? Also, picture this.  We're sitting on the plane, having just taken off from Stansted to go to Lisbon.  I get out my book, husband gets out his kindle.  'Oh dear' he says and shows me the message that tells him that the battery life is almost zero and to plug into a power source immediately.  'I knew there was something else I was going to charge up before we came away.  I don't suppose you brought the charger lead with you did you?' No I didn't, because I was taking a book, and they don't need charging.  Reading material for husband is now a tourist guide to the city and the in flight magazine advertising Pringles and cheese baguettes. 
Q: Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?
I'm not a great listener of music to be honest, apart from the daily commute to work when I am the karaoke queen of sing a long and there's nothing very musical about that I can assure you!  Despite being a woman and therefore a ninja multi-tasker, I can't watch TV and read at the same time, unless it's dipping into a new recipe book which doesn't involve total concentration.

Q: Do you eat or drink while reading?
I certainly do.  It's thirsty work and a drink's too wet without something foody to go with it.
Q: Reading aloud or silently in your head?
Silently in my head.  Although I have to confess that sometimes I do feel the need to share a particularly interesting or amusing passage.  Whether anyone wants
 to hear it or not.
Q: One book at a time or several at once?
One at a time.  I get so engrossed in books that I can't share the emotion around. 

Q: Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or number of pages?
There has to be a proper stopping point.  "Just to the end of the next paragraph/chapter" is the answer to many a late night 'how much longer are you going to need that bedside light on for?' question.  And if I'm reading in the waiting room at the doctor's surgery, it is very inconvenient if they call my name at an inopportune moment.

Q: Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Bookmark for a book of fiction but my recipe books are full of random bits of paper.  Which fall out and then I can't find where they were so it's not the best way of marking a page!  I did make a batch of origami book marks that Julie showed on her blog once but they seem to have been used up marking important recipes.  I need to make more!

Q: Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?
I can't believe you would even ask that question.  Never would I read ahead!  Skip pages?  I stopped doing that after I left school!  Actually when we were reading Nostromo by Joseph Conrad I skipped most of the book and just read the revision notes.  And still I passed the exam so is there a moral to this story? 
Q: Do you ever write in books?
Absolutely not! I hope our Librarian isn't reading these questions, she'll need a lie down and a glass of brandy if she finds out there are people out there who write in their books.

In a reading related post I think it's appropriate to share how much I've learned by the experience of my friend who has recently left work to become a full time author.  She's just finished her 3rd book and is researching plots for her 4th.  You wouldn't believe what goes on behind the scenes between the author finishing the last sentence and the publisher going to press.  It's absolutely fascinating to hear about the process from the other side of the book cover.  I also get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from seeing her work in a book shop, I can't begin to imagine how happy it makes her!  In fact, once when delayed at Gatwick she saw her book on sale in WHSmith and spoke to the manager of the outlet who then proceeded to arrange an impromptu book signing.  How brilliant is that?! 
So those are my answers.  Are you a book reader?  Why not join in and show us
your answers too. 


Monday, 28 September 2015

Me on the last Monday in September

What a glorious weekend! It was a Saturday of sunshine and sand, sequins and sparkle.
We always try to get a trip to Frinton on the calendar every year and we knew that time was running out before Autumn well and truly kicked in.  I've been watching the time of the tides and the weather forecasts and finally they matched up so we dusted off the picnic blanket, filled up the cool box with sandwiches and cake and headed off for the coast.  Coco, ever the overexcited dog, sensed that something was afoot.  She saw bags being packed, she saw people getting ready to go out and you could see her thinking 'uh oh, they're off without me' so when we got her car harness out of the drawer and clipped her lead onto it she was beside herself with joy.  Only she wasn't expecting to go in the car, she thought we were off for a long walk so we had pathetic crying and moaning going on in the back seat for about a third of the journey. After she realised that all that fuss was making no difference, she gave up and went to sleep. 
After a lovely day in the sun, playing on the beach, picnic on the green, a trip to the ice cream shop and it was time to go home ... in time for the return of Saturday night Strictly Come Dancing!  They seem to have a better bunch this year, although there was a bit of 'Dad dancing' from one of the contestants, and a new professional dancer who was very easy on the eye! Ah, the first sign of Autumn, Saturday night Strictly!  And please could no one mention the rugby?  Oh dear.  And the next game which is a crucial one is against Australia - the team I got in the sweepstake at work - talk about divided loyalties.

Sunday was a day of 'could this be the last time we cut the lawn?' although I'm pretty sure we said that last week too.  Roast lamb for lunch with plum crumble for dessert.  There is something very comforting about the foods in season this time of year.

So - Me on Monday.  Well this Monday finds me at home for a change.  I've swapped my working days because I have to go on a training course on my usual day off.  Although it's lovely to be home this morning, I know that come Wednesday I'll be moaning about not having a day off mid week. Am I having a fun and exciting time on my unexpected day off?  Am I heck, I'm hoovering ...

Hope you are having more fun where you are! 
Giving up a wave to Sian, the instigator of Me on Monday.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Scavenger Hunt - the elusive flag pole and the end of the hunt

Do you know how you can tell that Summer is officially over?  Not by a change in the weather, not by the fact that it gets dark earlier in the evenings, not even by looking at the calendar.  It's when you know that the deadline for the Scavenger Hunt photos is here.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you need to hurry along over the Rinda's blog to find out all about it so that you have your camera prepped and ready to go in June next year.

Every year when Rinda publishes the list for the Scavenger Hunt photos I'm sure I'm not the only one who quickly scans through it and mentally thinks of the ones that I know I can easily find close to home, those that I will have to go further afield for and the one that you know is going to cause you trouble.  The first one I knew would be impossible was the unicycle - although I have since found out that the son of a friend has one and can do various tricks on it.   The next one I wondered about was a juggler, and then as if the fates knew of my dilemma - a new teacher started at school, one whose previous job was teaching circus performers' children in an Australian Circus.  Of course he had picked up some circus skills along the way - he is a mega super star hula hooper (don't take my word for it, check out this video)  and ... ta dah ... juggling. This year I was concerned about the 3 flags or more on a flag pole.  We're not really a flag waving kind of country, and even when we do fly a flag, you will only find one per pole.  We need to follow the lead of other countries - Italy for example.  Oh how excited I was to see hundreds of flags lining the beach front. 
15 - A flag pole with at least three flags on it
As we sat in the taxi from the airport to our hotel all I kept saying was 'Paul, look at all those flags!'  the driver must have thought I was crazy, we passed mountains, we drove alongside the sea, we drove through quaint villages, but the thing that impressed me most was the flags!
16 - A panoramic view - taken from high in the air

We knew there was a famous tower in Lucca.  What we didn't know was how high it was.  So I had taken a photo out the window of the aircraft in case I wasn't able to climb the tower.  I asked the ticket seller how high it was - 45 metres.  It looked pretty high.  How long does it take to climb - about 8 minutes.  Which seemed a long time but I figured even if I didn't make it to the top I could take a photo from a window on the way.  So we started to climb.  And climb.  And climb. And wow was I pleased I did it, just look at that view!  The tower is famous as it has trees growing out of the top of it.

17 - at least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms

A five a side football tournament at the nearby football pitch came up trumps here.  I love the way these two are so engrossed in their conversation.

18 - an overloaded truck, car, bicycle or other vehicle

It's not often I volunteer to go with Paul when he takes rubbish to the tip but I'm pleased I went on this occasion as I think this guy had a lot of stuff to get rid of.

19 - a ticket booth

Beaches in Italy are privately owned so to use the facilities like deckchairs and parasols you have to buy a ticket.  Which was very fortunate for me as it provided me with a choice for ticket booths.

20 - A natural body of water

The lake over our local park is such a tranquil place.  It's a favourite dog walking venue - although I'm not sure that the fishermen always approve of the presence of over-excited dogs running around chasing ducks and scaring away the fish!  Even though I could have chosen many a picture of the Mediterranean, I decided to use this one for the hunt.

Which just leaves me with the final photo. The one of me holding a sign. (Sitting in my rocking chair which I was keeping in reserve in case I needed it as an alternative for an elusive item.)
And so the hunt ends again for another year so a big thank you to Rinda for organising it, the search for photos really adds to the fun of our holidays.  Same time, same place, next year?  I do hope so!
My other photos can be found in earlier blog posts.  If you fancy a look I'd love to see you here and here.  But most of all I'd love to know if you've joined in already and if not - I need your promise that you will consider joining in next year. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Me on Monday


I'm giving a quiet little wave to Sian today.  Shh, let's try and be as quiet as we can as they may be nursing a few Guinness headaches after that 50 - 7 Rugby World Cup win over Canada  at the weekend ;-)
As I sit here in the study typing this post all I can hear is the rain hitting the window.  How can weather change so quickly?  We had a weekend of last bits of sunshine, morning coffee in the garden 

Dogs getting stuck in places they had no right to be
That barricade is there for a reason Coco!
We even had apples falling out of the sky!  A sudden 'bump' and there in the middle of the lawn was an apple, a bird must have (ambitiously) tried to fly with an apple in its beak and dropped it mid flight.  It certainly made us jump!
In the evening, an Indian take always with friends. A mojito while we are waiting for it to be delivered? Don't mind if I do
I like the way the cocktail stirrer was a muscular man - in honour of the rugby!
And today

I've got home from work and someone can't understand why we aren't heading off on a walk.  Those puddles are a bit of a clue!

Time for a bit of blogging with a coffee and a Florentine - fantastic!  And before anyone wonders if that means I've fallen off the Slimming World wagon I  am happy to report that they only count as 5 syns!  So in theory, as I'm allowed up to 15 syns a day I could have three ...

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Looking back at Lisbon

As I pack away my summer clothes for another year and as I wait patiently (OK, not so patiently - I'm practically lying in wait for the postman each day) for the photo book of our trip to arrive I thought I'd share a few photo collages to give you a taste of the city of Lisbon.
The city is hilly - those roads are STEEP!  There are steps up from one level to another as you can see in the top right picture, thank goodness that the steepest ones have the old funicular railways to get you from top to bottom.  The other old form of transport is the tram as you can see in the centre photo on the left.  I thought maybe having my photo taken next to a statue of a lottery vendor might bring me luck in the National Lottery that night; it didn't work.  Being a total Brit, after all that walking it was time for a reviving, refreshing cuppa in a pretty sun lit square! 
The views from the tower in the top left column were amazing and well worth the trip up there.  The rest of the photos in this collage were taken in the Belem district, which is where the famous Pastel de Nata originated.  Of course we had to try one while we were there.  Actually, we tried them in all manner of places during that weekend, but the ones we had here in a cafĂ© overlooking the river were the best of the bunch!  The main monument there is to commemorate the explorers that left Portugal to find foreign lands.  Next to it is a memorial to all the soldiers that have died in wars.  The triangular brickwork in the centre has a flame burning all the time.  It was a very touching, and beautiful memorial. 
I just love a good sunset picture when we go on holiday, and this top left one is one of my favourite pictures of the trip.  As you can see there is much street art, fountains and fiesta decorations - every street has something to look at.
So I guess that is the last time I shall be seeing blue skies or feeling the sun on my skin until next year!  It was a brilliant end to the summer and I can't wait for that book to arrive so I can browse through the pages whenever I want.  Although it's good to have all your photos stored on your computer, you don't browse through them like you do a photo album and I always have this terrible 'what would we do if the computer lost them all?' thoughts - hence the need to make a photo book on our return from holidays!  Does anyone else out there make photo books?  If so, which company do you use?  We've always used Photobox which I'm pleased with but I'm always open to suggestions of better places to try!