Friday, 30 December 2011

Round up of 2011

If I didn't have this lovely blog and you'd have asked me what I remembered most from this year I would say: going to Scotland on holiday, having an operation to save my hearing, Chick turning 9 and meeting 'The Man'!! I think that's a pretty impressive year but looking back over the blog posts gives me a much better perspective and I love that it helps me not only remember but also to see how far I've travelled!!

Back in January I was brave enough to discuss 'The Fat of the Matter' and ask should I pay for any obesity related treatment that I may need in the future? My entry to 'The Gallery' was this fab Summer pic of my two favourite girls:

February had me breaking my heart and thinking about the 'Seventeen Years' since my Dad died. We also visited the London Baby Show courtesy of Dettol where my girl got some posing in:

In March I was determined to 'Enjoy the Small Things' as well as the fabulous English weather and my little Chick was The Cat in the Hat:

April had me discovering my creative side. Not only did we make our own Easter eggs but I also decorated my whole lounge for £30!!!

I may also have attended the MOST historic event of 2011, if not the Century so far:

Yes, I was there at Trafalgar Square for the wedding and in front of Buckingham Palace for the balcony wave!!! 

May saw me being a complete blogging slacker but I did manage to write a short story entitled 'The Child Who Never Sleeps'. I also thought  that having a trip on the London Eye was a brilliant idea......even though I'm scared of heights!!! This is me pretending all is ok when I was actually convinced that I might die:

June involved getting together with some of the most fabulous bloggers in the world (and Sarah Brown) at CyberMummy. I appear to have had a bit of a Royal year, so this is me and my gorgeous Sister-in-Law celebrating the Queen's (and my 35th) birthday:

 Ooooh in July I was having a bit of a mid-life crisis and told everyone what they could do with their opinions!!! I may have scared my family as it generated a lot of worried phone calls....whoops!! The photo kind of continues the mid-life crisis theme:

August saw my two year blogging anniversary and lots of lovely trips away, including one to Scotland:

World suicide prevention day in September saw me again trying to come to terms with the circumstances of my Dad's death but also as the school year starts my gorgeous girl  heading into Year 4 looking more and more grown up:

In October I tried Internet dating which didn't seem so great at the start but within 3 weeks I'd met 'the man' who is possibly the most gorgeous, genuine person I've ever met :-) Obviously we can't do October without celebrating Halloween:

November saw my beautiful Chick turn 9, shopping trips to Build-a-bear and John Lewis and also saw me rocking the sexy look for my dreaded ear operation:

Aaaah........December! The Christmas month and the slacking blogger month!! I may have had a Typically Me incident and Chick and I had a very funny discussion!! 'The Man', Chick and I started getting ready for Christmas:

We had a lovely Christmas at my Parents in Norfolk and I may have received the most lovely and thoughtful present in the world from 'the man':

'The Man' had the box handmade and although you can't see it very well, in the smallest box was the most beautiful love heart necklace. It's half silver, half gold and has two rows of diamonds through the centre. Awwww, what a sweetie! It must be love!!

A huge thank you for sticking with Adventures of an English Mum during 2011 and here's to a fabulous 2012 for all of us xx

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Seasons Greetings from our Family to yours

As usual I'm behind the times but we hope that you had a fabulous Christmas :-)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Typically Me!

I've been seeing 'The Man' for 10 weeks now and during that time I've mainly managed to hide what a complete f*ckwit I actually am....until last night!!!

I was having a quiet relaxing bath when Chick shouted up that there was someone at the door. Being the classy Mum that I am, I told her to open the letter box and see who it was and then report back to me before she opened the door. She shouts back up that it's 'The Man' and should she let him in!!???!!! Erm....yes babe, that would be a good idea!!

So 'The Man' comes up to say hello and we're just finishing being all steamy when Chick shouts up to us at the top of her voice that the sink was overflowing and the kitchen floor was flooded. Well I'm wondering WTF is going on and why she's left the tap on. So I come running down the stairs in just my towel and discover that she is quite right in her shouting and that the kitchen is like a paddling pool. To make things worse the taps are not running and the sink is spewing water everywhere!!!

I paddle across the kitchen floor to the sink and start yanking out all the crap from underneath to see that actually nothing is leaking at all. We (obviously when I say 'we' I mean 'the man'!!) finally figure out that the sink is blocked and that all the water from the washing machine is what is cascading so prettily from the kitchen sink.

The man asked me where the stopcock was. Me: I'm a girl, I don't know!! 

The man asked me where I keep my plunger. Me: I'm a girl I don't have one.

Me: erm.....maybe I'll put some clothes on and go ask a neighbour.

Him: hmmmmm, that might be an idea!

So we chuck loads of towels on the floor to soak it up and whilst I'm out trying to source a plunger 'the man' miraculously unlocks the sink! (hurrah for having a man around the house!!)

Him: I wonder what blocked it?

Me: *having a flashback*

Me: I think it may have been fat from the meal I cooked the other night.

Him: And you poured it down the sink??

Me: erm.......

Him....laughing his arse off at me whilst I try and mop a whole washing machine of water off of the floor!!!

And that my friends is a typical night in with me!!! God knows what the poor bloke sees in me :-)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Conversations with an 9 year old

Most nights when I've put Chick to bed, I jump in the bath and try and have a long hot soak and a quiet half an hour. A couple of nights ago whilst I was trying to do this, Chick got out of bed and came into the bathroom and we had this conversation:

Me: Why are you out of bed?

Chick: I have a question.

Me: Go on.

Chick: What a 'menage a trois'?

Me.....*thinking* F*ck, how do I answer that?? Quick, think of an answer!!!

Me: what context? Where have you heard it?

Chick: Wait a minute and I'll show you.

Me...... *thinking* WTF is she going to show me?

Chick: Look, it's in one of Katy Perry's songs.....shows me the song words.

Me..... *thinking* maybe that wasn't such a great birthday present, erm....still not sure what to say!

Me: I'm not sure Chick because it's something French (yes, I'm a cop out!!)

Chick: Maybe I'll ask the French teacher then?

Me: (looking aghast!) I'm not sure that's such a good idea hunny, some of Katy's lyrics are quite rude and the French teacher may not be able to tell you.

Chick: Ok, guess I'll find out when I'm older. Night, Mum.

Me: Night babe!


I must try thinking quicker when she asks me random questions like this!!!! Side note to self: Check the lyrics before she gets the CD!!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Christmas at John Lewis

You may remember that last year John Lewis invited me to Christmas in July and it was truly a fabulous thing! This year I was invited back again (yes, I can behave occasionally) but due to the usual work commitments, sadly couldn't make it. As the people that work for John Lewis are so lovely they invited me to have my own personal tour at my local store. Yesterday, I duly went and met the lovely Louise who is the Marketing Manager at the Nottingham store, who gave me a whistle stop tour. I could have actually spent all day there to be honest......

Obviously the first thing that we had to talk about was the John Lewis Christmas advert that everyone has been raving about on Twitter and in the press and I must admit that the first time I saw it there may have been tears *ahem*

If you haven't seen it....which rock have you been living under??? With it being the season to be jolly, Christmas was obviously our hot topic of conversation!! We started off with the trees and decorations:

What I really like about this years John Lewis Christmas campaign is that they seem to have gone back to basics.  Most of the in-store decorations were wooden or paper and very simple but effective. Of course there is still plenty of room for cosiness and colour too:

A brilliant new idea that they also have in-store is a picture/art gallery. I was amazed by how reasonably priced they were and also what a selection they had (*ahem* if 'the man' reads this he should take note of the shoe picture which would look so nice in my bedroom ;-) :

One of the other things that I wasn't aware of until yesterday is that John Lewis have specialists in a number of departments. The most obvious ones are probably the personal shoppers in Ladies wear who are just absolutely lovely and have so much knowledge about fashion and what looks good....they are in fact a bit like Gok!!!  

Also they have specialists in Home and in Nursery that you can make an appointment with and who can discuss what you may or may not need for an imminent arrival or can give you advice on what trends would suit your home and lifestyle.

Back to the Season of Goodwill and the number one recommended Christmas present is probably on the wish list of millions of people:

There are of course plenty of goodies in-store for the kids, my favourite of which was the Lego Sort and Store head. It not only stores Lego (as the name would suggest!!) but also sorts it by size and stores over 1,000 pieces!!! What a brilliant idea. I'm also a fan of the Sylvanian Families John Lewis store and spotted some cooking bits for Chick:

To top off my lovely visit, I received a fabulous goodies bag with some London Olympic 2012 goodies (John Lewis are one of the sponsors), two boxes of gorgeous chocolates (one by Hotel Chocolat that I've managed to nibble my way through today.....without sharing!!), a spaghetti measure and some lovely cashmere socks for 'the man's' stocking!!!

A huge thank you to Louise and John Lewis for their hospitality.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Friday, 18 November 2011

It's D Day!!

So today is the day I have my operation and I don't mind telling you that I'm absolutely well as hungry and thirsty! As I type this I have another three hours until I have to even be at the hospital and I'm thinking that by then my throat will be so dry that I won't even be able to talk.

I'm also wondering at my wisdom of not letting 'The Man' come with me. Initially I thought that I would be able to handle it (after all I am forcing my Mum to come with me) but I desperately want him here to hold my hand and to keep me calm. 

This week I've had a raging ear infection and so had actually been quite calm about everything as I want the Op doing so that I can stop being ill constantly and so have been fine. Until I dropped Chick off at school this morning. She didn't want to let me go and I had a quick chat with the Teacher about why she may be unhappy today and that's when I felt my resolve to be brave begin to crumble!!!

I tired to go and do some Christmas shopping but as my brain isn't really with it that didn't work so well either so I came home. I now need to go and bathe in anti-MRSA lotion and finish packing my bag!! Gosh my life is so glamorous isn't it??? 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Marks & Spencer Christmas Hampers

*Guest Editorial

For all of its joys and festivity, the Christmas season can be a very hectic one that keeps everybody – and especially Mothers – very busy. Of course, there is much to enjoy during the holidays, and there is at some point time to sit back and relax. However, somebody has to make all of this popular, and while your children are perfectly happy believing that that somebody is jolly old St. Nick, you know that in reality much of the work falls on Mum. Between decorating the house, hosting guests, shopping for presents, and all of the other seasonal details, Mums have their hands full during the holidays – which is why it can be very nice to find a quick and convenient way to shop for gifts for people outside of your home. If you’re looking for something like this yourself, you may want to check out the wide selection of Christmas hampers offered at Marks & Spencer.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas hampers, they are essentially elaborate gift baskets that can be ordered during the holidays. At Marks & Spencer, these baskets can include any number of different types of items – for example, many include fine wines, a number include chocolate treats and desserts, and others have items like cheeses and crackers, or cooking ingredients inside them. Most of the items are geared toward food and drink, but there is certainly enough variety in the selections that you ought to be able to find something to suit just about any friend or family member, or group for that matter.

Besides providing you with nice gift options, the main benefit of Christmas hampers for a busy mother is that they provide a very quick and convenient shopping option. Picking out a hamper is quite simple, and once you have decided upon one you can simply order it sent directly to the recipient with whatever message you want attached. This completely takes away the whole process of combing through shops and packaging your own gifts, and could ultimately save you a lot of time.

In general, many people dislike the idea of taking shortcuts during the holiday season, as it may imply a certain lack of care toward whomever you are buying gifts for. However, with Christmas hampers, you can still be getting somebody a very thoughtful, and very nice present, while avoiding the hassles of mall shopping and gift-wrapping. If you feel a bit too busy this holiday season – or even if you’re simply looking for a unique new gift to give to somebody – this is definitely an option worth exploring.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Build-a-Bear Birthday Fun!!

As you can imagine, after the last 2 years of being Toyologists, Chick has more toys in her bedroom than the local Toys R Us!! On Monday it was Chick's 9th birthday and my one stipulation was that she wasn't allowed any more actual 'toys' for her birthday, so she decided that instead of having a birthday party we would head to Build-a-Bear with her two best friends.

Back at the start of September, a brand new Build-a-Bear opened in Leicester. We were invited to a special blogger day to check out the new store but as it was Chick's second day back at school we had to decline. However, as we are the luckiest people in the world, they agreed that we could have a belated visit on Saturday to coincide with Chick's birthday!! We had our very own Build-a-Bear guide called Alicia, who could not have been more helpful. She talked the girls through the process of making their bears, choosing their sounds and hearts and getting them stuffed with some time to read all about 'Bearisms':

Then it was time to pick an outfit....which took Chick about 3 hours! Choices, choices:

With Children-in-Need being this Friday, Build-a Bear have teamed up with them to offer some special Children in Need bears. Sooooo cute and a percentage from the sale of each bear goes directly to the charity:

After what seemed like many, many hours (probably to poor Alicia too!!) the girls were finally satisfied with their choices:

Very big happy smiles from them all, as you can see. A huge thank you to Alicia for being our own personal guide and to Shannon for setting up a brilliant afternoon. My little birthday Chick was an extremely happy girl :-)

*Disclosure - Build-a-Bear let Chick choose and keep a bear and outfit.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Famous last words

Today is the start of Chick's birthday week (mah baybee will be 9 on Monday *sob*!!) and the fair is in town. Tonight we went for a look around  and to check out which rides are here this year so that she could plan her birthday night out with her Dad tomorrow. After she was done looking around we had this conversation:

Chick: Mum can I please try and win a cuddly toy?

Me: No they are monstrous, a waste of money and you will never win!!

Chick: Pllllleeeeaaasssseeee Mum, I won't ask for ANYTHING else. 

*lots of begging and pleading*

Me: No

Chick: But it is almost my birthday. Pllllleeeeaaasssseeee Mum.

Me: Fine but it's a waste of money and you will never win!! You may as well just throw your money down the drain!


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On hospital appointments and being stone deaf!

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a problem with my ears and hearing. Some of my first memories from school are trying to avoid having the dreaded hearing test. Sitting in the office of the Headmistress, Sister Mary David (once they’d caught me) and trying to outwit the beeps from the test and not cry at the ridiculously heavy headphones!!! Then once they had discovered that I actually couldn’t hear, being banned from swimming with the rest of the school as I wasn’t allowed to get my ears wet after having grommets.

This was then repeated when I was eleven as I started having the same problems all over again, which I’d completely forgotten about but the hospital still have my notes from then so I guess it must be true!!! Over the last couple of years I’ve had repeated ear infections but until recently hadn’t been infection free for long enough to have the dreaded hearing test.  I’ve recently had this and as expected my hearing is terrible!! I can hear conversations on a one-to-one basis but I struggle in a crowd, when listening to the TV and if I'm walking along the street all I can hear is the traffic!

On our third date (yes, I’m aware that I’m a romantic soul!!) ‘The Man’ came with me to see the Specialist who told me that I my eardrums have collapsed and I need bilateral (in both ears) grommets and a biopsy on a mass at the back of my nose. Fun times, huh?!?! Bet you wish you were dating me.......

Today I’ve been for my pre-op check up which I naively assumed would take about half an hour but actually turned into a 4 hour check up!!!! I’m grateful for the NHS but I can’t honestly say I wasn’t cursing it after being sat in a waiting room for no good reason for 90 minutes!!  So it turns out that the pre-op involves being tested for all kinds of random crap including MRSA and being pregnant......none of which I found out if I have or not! (sidenote: am definitely NOT pregnant Mum, don’t worry!!!!)

My operation is set for next Friday and if I’m honest I’m absolutely petrified. I’m making my poor Mum drive over from Norfolk to hold my hand and make sure that I don’t die.......quite how she has the power to prevent this from happening I’m not entirely sure but I’ll feel much better if she is close by to hold my hand and/or my sick bucket ;-) (Again......hanging out with me is FANTABULOUS!!) 

I’m hoping that they will let me out on the same day but it depends on how things go so keep your fingers crossed for me!!! I’ll make sure to take pictures of me looking sexy in my hospital gown and slippers.......

Monday, 7 November 2011

Interview with Susan Lewis

You all know that I love a good book so when I was asked if I wanted a preview copy of Susan Lewis’ new book ‘One Day at a Time’ I obviously said yes!! I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Susan but I’m pretty sure that you will have seen one of her 25 odd best sellers on the shelves of most book stores and supermarkets.

Susan’s latest book, One Day at a Time, which is released this Thursday, 10th November is a memoir of Susan’s childhood and describes the heartbreak of her losing her Mother (review to follow). In the run up to the book being released I was lucky enough to chat with Susan about the book and to ask her a few writer type questions!!!

The second part of your memoir, One Day at a Time, is due for release in November. Was it a difficult or emotional book to write?
It was both very difficult and incredibly emotional mainly because of how hard it was for my father back then.  Trying to cope with a troubled (nightmarish, totally out of control, but bereaved) teenager, while still grieving for the wife he loved so much must have been hell. Reading through his old diaries and his descriptions of loneliness while I was pulling the book together was absolutely heartbreaking.  Fortunately there were some lovely witty entries too, and his usual ramblings about class, communism, literature, and anything else on his mind that day.

You’ve lived in some exciting places. What’s your favourite story from your time in Hollywood? 
That has to be the time that my dog, Casanova (the great seducer of the canine world) became a little confused and broke into George Clooney’s garden to go after George’s pot-bellied pig.  Unfortunately – or fortunately - the gorgeous man wasn’t at home at the time, but I did see him at a premiere a few days later when I apologized.  He was very amused, having not heard anything about it until then, and he assured me there wouldn’t be any paternity suits.

How did you become a writer?  
I started out in TV production and was very interested in becoming a producer.  When I asked the controller of drama at Thames TV for his he suggested I write.  And so I managed to write my way out of television into publishing. 

Which book was the hardest to finish and why? 
To be honest I haven’t found any of them particularly hard to finish.  Sometimes there’s a problem in the middle when I fear I’ve lost the plot, so to speak.  Then I have to go back to the beginning and work it all over again.

Which is your favourite book?
 I have a few favourites – A French Affair and Darkest Longings because they’re set in France; Missing, The Choice and Stolen because of how well they’ve connected with readers.  And of course Just One More Day and One Day at a Time because they’re about my mum and dad. 
How do you deal with writers block? 
I take a break, sometimes for a day or two, in order to recharge.  Thankfully I usually find that works. 

Do you have a special writing area where you get into the zone or can you write anywhere? 
I absolutely have to write in my study at home.  If I’m anywhere else I simply make notes. 

                Has your writing changed over the years? 
It’s probably changed quite a lot considering how long I’ve been doing it, hopefully for the better!!  The stories themselves have certainly changed, but that’s probably because I’m so much older.  Having said that, my characters are still quite young with the exception of those in Forgotten as the kind of story it is would only work with older characters.

                Who do you write for? 
I think my books are mainly for those who enjoy a good escapist read, but want more depth than fluff.  I almost always add a twist that of plays havoc with the emotions.

I am lucky enough to have four copies of One Day at a Time to give away so check my review blog tomorrow to find out how to enter :-) Should you want to find out more about Susan in the meantime you can check out her Facebook or web page.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Why don't relationships have an idiots guide????

I’m really wasn’t sure as to whether or not to actually publish this post but the trouble is that if I don’t get some of my thoughts out of my system I may well actually explode!!!

Yesterday ‘The Man’ and I had our first argument which was all over something completely ridiculous, although I feel like we both have a point. It’s been a long long time since I was in a relationship and ‘The Man’ is starting again after a decade so I guess it will be weird for both of us to get used to being in a ‘new’ relationship again.

What I don’t know is the easiest way to get through the minefield. When I was (being forced into) setting my Internet Dating profile up on line there were certain things I knew I wanted from a man. The absolute certainties for me were that he needed to:

a)      Already have kids

b)      Not have any huge desire to get married

c)       Have a good work ethic

All of which ‘The Man’ has and, as at our age everyone comes with baggage, I thought that I was prepared for that and the compromise that comes with it. What I wasn’t prepared for was actually how black and white my feelings are on some things.

I feel like I need to set out a ‘relationship rules’ guideline or something seeing as these things don’t come with a useful manual!!!!!  I’m obviously NOT actually going to say this to him but so far my ideals would be:

-          -  He has to text me at least once in the working day! Preferably before lunch. I don’t care what the text says but I want him to want to contact me. I know it’s such a ridiculous thing but if I don’t hear from him I presume that he either doesn’t want me and has gone off me or has crashed his car on the way to work etc.....see previous post about being a girl!! I then spend the whole day on the emotional rollercoaster and not actually doing anything!!!! (side note: must buy the work colleagues some chocolates to apologise for being crap and completely unproductive for the last three weeks!!)

-          - See me twice a week. I don’t care which days/nights/times and it doesn’t have to be set in stone but surely at this point in the relationship he should want to hang out with me, no matter how shit the day at work has been or how tired he is???

-          - Make an effort..... i.e. text me and tell me I’m beautiful, turn up unexpectedly, send me flowers, call me at lunchtime for no reason, make me giggle constantly.....

-          - He has to be honest. Now I’m completely aware that this is a double edged sword and so far he has a 100% record on this. The problem is of course that the truth hurts like a bitch and I don’t always want to hear it. With the experience of many years of crap men however, I would still much prefer that him tell me he’s having a crap day and doesn’t want to see me........ (most of the time anyway!!)

So what do you think? Am I asking/expecting too much at this stage of the relationship? What are your ground rules or ideals and when did you spell them out in your relationship?? As always, I look forward to hearing your opinion and keeping me sane J

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Half Term Fun

- Please ignore the shoddy camera work in this camera died and I'm having to make do with my phone! :'-(  Am hoping that Santa will bring me a new one!! 

The end of half term week found us at my Mum's in Norfolk. We decided to have a change of scenery and do something fun and so my Mum and Chick thought that bowling would be a nice idea.  I haven't been bowling for many years but was up for having a go. It's amusing just how competitive we are as a family......although not sure why my Mum and I bother as it turns out that we are absolutely terrible bowlers and needless to say we both lost!!! 

I love watching the family together, my Mum and Chick are like two peas in a pod and it blows my mind to see just how alike they are. Throw in some sexy bowling shoes, lots if whooping and high fiving and my heart just soars:

We were so loud that we scared everyone else away and pretty much had the place to ourselves.......even better for victory dances when getting a strike!! I was also tempted to steal the sexy shoes, probably some of the comfiest shoes I've ever worn!!!

Later that evening, a family decision was taken to not go to the pub (our usual habit on a Friday night!!) but to grab some fish and chips on the sea front and then to stay home and just hang out together. Mum, Chick and I all got into bed together, ate biscuits and sang along very badly with The Sound of Music:

It may not sound like a very Rock 'n' Roll Friday night but we had such a giggle. Try singing along in your loudest voice to this and see if it makes you smile......................

Yesterday we came back to attend the wedding of my oldest friend Mandi. She looked absolutely stunning (to be honest you could put her in a paper bag and she'd look amazing!!) and we had a lovely night. I may be regretting the last few Jack Daniels today but it was lovely to see her so happy.....and dancing like a loon:

What a lovely end to a fabulous week :-)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Happy Days in Derbyshire......

This week, Chick and I have been off on half term and for some bizarre reason we seem to be the only schools in the Country that are!! Today we were supposed to be going to visit my Mum but due to their B&B being so popular they couldn't fit us in so we have to wait until tomorrow. We therefore had an unexpected day to do something with and decide on an impromptu trip to some of my favourite places in Derbyshire.

Firstly we went to Matlock Bath to enjoy the Autumn sunshine and eat fish 'n' chips by the river. We then meandered to Bakewell to buy a pudding and walk along the river. The weather took a turn for the worse and it was f-f-f-f-f-f-f-freezing:

I was going to write a long post about Bakewell and Chatsworth and then remembered that I'd written one over at Smitten by Britain last year that I couldn't better so here goes..............

Bakewell is a lovely village set in the Heart of the Peak District National Park, a beautiful place in Derbyshire and dating back to the Saxon times. The Church dates back to 920 a.d although much of the ‘modern’ building dates from the 13th Century!
Jane Austen is rumoured to have stayed in The Rutland Arms hotel which is still standing today and is mentioned in Pride & Prejudice where Elizabeth meets the Darcy’s and Mr.Bingley. Their greatest claim to fame though is that their Chef in 1859 invented the great Bakewell pudding by mistake. Plenty of shops in the Town sell the puddings, all claiming to have the ‘original’ recipe!
Just 4 miles away from Bakewell, is one of my favourite places, not just in the East Midlands but in the whole of England. From the main road you take a sharp right and drive a mile or so and when you reach the peak of the hill laid out before you is this sight which always makes my heart soar:
This is Chatsworth House which I believe is one of the most beautiful of all the stately homes in the UK. Some of you may recognise it from blockbusters like Pride & Prejudice and The Duchees but the house dates back to the Saxon times. Building on the current house was started by Bess of Hardwick in 1553 and it’s now owned by the 12th Duke of Devonshire, son of one of the Mitford Sisters.
It’s hard for me to know where to start with telling you what I love most about Chatsworth and what makes it so amazing for me! I don’t know if it’s that it awesome in every Season. In the Summertime the gardens are just out of this world and you could spend a whole day exploring and enjoying and discovering new things. There are gardens designed by Capability Brown or maybe the Arboretum that has some of the oldest specimens of Giant Seqouia in the UK. They have Fountains that were made especially for the proposed visit of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and a Maze. My favourite of all the things in the gardens is the Cascade Fountain:
It’s so impressive from every angle and has 24 cut steps, each slightly different and with a variety of textures so that each gives a different sound when water runs over and down them.
I love the house as well but my favourite time to visit is at Christmas. The decorations and trees are awesome and the atmosphere is just sooooo lovely! It has 126 rooms most of which aren’t seen by the public but you would never know that and there isn’t a particular style to the house. It’s a little bit mis-matched and I think that’s part of what endears me to it! They also have a River running through the front garden:
If you are ever in the UK long enough to make it out of London you should head up to the Peak District and explore. Not only to see Bakewell and Chatsworth but for the walking, spa breaks and history

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Rio Screening at London Zoo

Last Saturday we were invited to watch a special preview of Rio at London Zoo before it's released on DVD. The blurb about the film is described as:  From the makers of ICE AGE comes a high-flying animated comedy for the whole family. Blu is an exotic pet bird who believes he's the last of his kind. But when his owner learns about Jewel, Blu's female counterpart in Rio de Janeiro, they set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Even though he's never learned to fly, Blu befriends a group of wise-cracking city birds who help him find the courage to spread his wings and follow his destiny! It’s a lovely family film although the ‘bad bird’ is really quite scary!!!!

The DVD also lets you download 15 bonus levels of Angry Birds which are not available any where else.

We watched the film with some other lovely Mummy bloggers, where there was lovely food, face painting and free cuddly toys:

After the film we got to meet our very own Macaw:

Then we had some spare time to hit the zoo. The things that Chick wanted to see most were the chimps and she even wore a themed top:

And the Giraffes......such lovely, graceful animals....unlike myself and Chick. She also made friends with Kyd, Alice’s son and we spent a couple of hours chatting and wondering around the zoo together:

All in all a fabulous day.  Rio is released on DVD on the 24th of October. Fancy joining in the fun before then?? You can play the Monkey vs Birds game or Rio in a row :-)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Time to say goodbye......

When I first started at my current job 5 years ago and I was the new girl, there was a man who started just after me (who we shall call the Organ Grinder) and we rapidly became good friends. I find our relationship very hard to quantify or put into a box without going into lengthy descriptions but if I were to describe it on Faceboook I guess I would go with ‘It’s Complicated’!!!

A few weeks ago nearing the 5 year point of us knowing each other he told me that he was leaving. I’m really pleased for him as he has bagged a better job with less hours, more money and which is closer to home.  It’s only really hit me in the last few days that I actually won’t see him every day and I won’t have my rock at work. My emotions have been all over the place this last week what with meeting ‘The Man’ and saying goodbye to the Organ Grinder but actually one wouldn’t have worked without the other.

The Organ Grinder probably doesn’t realise this but he has taught me many lessons both about myself and about being in a relationship. The main one being that it’s ok to be exactly yourself. Before I met the Organ Grinder I’d always tried to be whatever the other person wanted me to be but he only ever wanted me to be me......even with all the crazy!!

I find it really hard to let people into my head and through my barriers but some days I felt like he could read my mind. It takes a lot of getting used to, to let people get to know you well but I think we got there eventually. The thing that our relationship was built on was honesty. Even if we didn’t like what we were telling each other at least it was the truth.

The other thing that he taught me is that it’s fine to disagree. It doesn’t have to dissolve into a big argument or a screaming match and you can then let these things go. I’ve also learned that sometimes I need telling that I’m out of line and that I need to wind my neck in (but let’s not share that one with anyone else!!) This also doesn’t mean that I’m no longer loved or is any major problem, I just need to shut up occasionally and/or stop being ridiculous!

Mentally I’ve been trying to prepare myself for the fact that he will no longer be around for the past few weeks. We were never ‘together’ as it were but telling him about ‘The Man’ was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time. After I’d severed what feels like that final link, I cried on and off for the rest of the day.

And now I guess we’re done.... We are both moving forwwards. Me with ‘The Man’ and the Organ Grinder with his new job and colleagues and work I’m crying like a girl again....

What I was trying to say to him (really ineffectively) with this post is that he has meant the world to me over the last 5 years and without having met him, I wouldn’t be the same person that I am now. I also need to say a massive thank you for all of the lessons learnt as above and for giving me the courage to move into my new relationship as myself. He will never know how much that means to me xxx