Sunday, 24 March 2013

I don't do Silent Sunday, sorry...

Mr G has been on top form this week.  If you're relatively new to the blog, let me explain that Mr G has a way of confusing words - utterly innocently.  If he was a computer, I'd be formatting him and replacing Windows 95 with Windows 7.  Something has corrupted in his head over the last couple of years.  It's like his inner Dictionary and Thesaurus only contain three pages.  And even they are wrong.

Mr G and Ryan watching some arty programme trying to figure out what the big floor picture was.

Ryan:  It's one of those Jack things.

Mr G:  What?

Ryan:  Like a Jack.  You know.  A King Clown.

Mr G:  *Guffaws and turns around to walk into kitchen*  A King Clown?  It's a JASPER you bloody idiot.

Me:  A wha'?  A 'Jasper'?

Mr G:  What are they?


Mr G:  *Doubled up laughing*  And there was me calling Ryan a 'bloody idiot'.

Mr G and myself lying in bed this morning.  Discussing his constipation, as you do.  Oh he'll love me, but this is too funny not to share.

Mr G:   I might have to take a little yellow pill.  I've not been in two days.

Me:  Hmmmm.  You took co-codamol yesterday for pain, probably that's what has done it.

Mr G:  I need to find some foilage.

Me:  WHY?  Are you crapping outdoors?

Mr G:  No!  In my diet!

Me:  *Puzzled*  *Penny drops*  And by foilage you mean fibre, I take it?  And even if you were right, it's FOLIAGE not FOILAGE.

*Both laughing til we cry*

Me:  Well, you could have some Fruit and Foilage for breakfast...

Mr G:  Thank God it wasn't down to me to compile dictionaries.  Shakespeare and Dickens would be screwed wouldn't they?

Me:  Yeah.  Can you imagine.  'Forsooth!  My court Jasper is truly the funniest'  Hahahahahaha.

Adam has found a new way to insult me.  Google Translate.  Type in the insults, hit the little audio button and I can smell like fishcake in many, many languages.  Languages I didn't know existed, even.  Although it has to be said, the well-spoken English guy saying 'You have got a flappy bum,' is marginally less offensive than Adam saying it.  At least Google dude doesn't exacerbate matters by laughing. 

And on that note...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Recipe - Fakeaway - Quick Tom Yum Soup and Salt and Pepper Prawns

Aarrrrggh!  My PC just BSOD on me mid blog-post.  It did restart, thankfully, but it's on it's way out definitely.    I'm going to have to be doing some serious data back-up today, before the whole thing gives up the ghost on me.  Everything is going wrong or breaking down...

I was going to post this last night but I was too full to move.  Two brand new dishes for me to make, and both an absolutely resounding success!   Here are the pictures of the finished results. As usual no points for presentation but they both tasted amazing!

Quick Tom Yum Soup

Salt and Pepper Prawns

The soup - I've been harbouring the paste in my spice cupboard since last year, and finally decided it was time to use it.  I've never had this soup before, but I'll definitely be having it again.  I imagine it's a very healthy soup as well?    I didn't use prawns in it this time, as although Mr G likes prawns, he only likes them in certain dishes, and I think he'd draw the line at soup.  From reading online I think the beauty of this soup is that you can chuck whatever you have in to it.  I don't think it would lose anything in taste by being a purely vegetarian soup either.

So - I sauteed a few chopped chicken breasts, then added celery, sliced mushrooms, quartered tomatoes and a tablespoon of minced garlic.  Added a litre of water, and four tablespoons of Tom Yum Paste.  The recipe dictated for two tablespoons of pepper - I added one.  It asked for 1 teaspoon of salt - I added a few grinds of sea salt.  I threw in a crumbled chicken stock cube and ½ teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning.  Brought to the boil and simmered for about 20 - 25 minutes.  Voila.

This was hot!  I love hot foods.  But my tasting as I was cooking this didn't betray how HOT the soup was going to be.  Unfortunately I've never tried this dish from a takeaway before, so I don't have anything to compare it to.  But it suited our spicy tastes down to the ground, and Mr G told me this was going to become a regular recipe for us.  Result!

The story behind the prawns.  We have, or rather had a Chinese and Cantonese takeaway in the town that we used regularly.  It was known affectionately as 'Ken's' after the owner as opposed to its proper name.  Ken had a dish on the menu 'Fried King Prawns with Chilli and Salt'.  It was absolutely lush.  I have spent hours and hours on the internet trying to find out how this dish was made.  It's a common dish in different restaurants and takeaways.  I've worked in a pub kitchen and I know that in a lot of catering trades shortcuts are used.  For example - our Steak and Ale pie filling was all homemade, but we used frozen, cut to size puff pastry lids.  Some of the bigger pub chains (that a family member worked for) - an awful lot more, pretty much everything was bought in frozen.  So - my advice is, when people knock themselves out trying to create an authentic Fakeaway - you phone your order in, and they say you can pick it up in 10 minutes.  You arrive, and it's ready for you.  Don't turn your nose up at the sauces in the ethnic grocers.  What do you think the takeaway is using, to have your Sweet and Sour Chicken, or Beef in Black Bean ready for you in 10 minutes??

This particular dish, contained huge King Prawns.  It was quite oily, so not very healthy, but this is the beauty of making it at home, you can make it so much healthier.  In the 'juice' was chillies, spring onion, and chopped onions.  The Prawns were either breaded or battered, but weren't crispy, due to being in this sauce.  The dish was spicy and very, very salty, but also Chinese-y.  What would I use?  Five Spice?  Szechuan Peppercorn?  I just didn't know, and I didn't want to ruin a dish by getting it wrong - I don't like to and simply can't afford to waste food.

So, while I was in Tesco the other day, pottering up and down the aisle that had spices and seasonings and other ethnic bits and bobs, I saw something new.  I was bouncing up and down that aisle when Mr G finally caught up with me. 

Hello?  Is it me you're looking for? 

Oh yes, it most definitely IS you I have been looking for!   I've been a Flava-it user for about 3 years now, maybe more.  I bought some to try when having a barbecue and looking for time-saving ways to flavour meat than having to marinate everything for hours before.   When I have a get together it's usually a big one, so I don't have the space to have tubs of meat everywhere.  I tried their 'Piri Piri' and 'Hot and Spicy' and 'Chinese' marinade powders and was so impressed with the ease, the speed and the taste, that I always have at least two of their varied range in my storecupboard.  This wasn't the first time I'd used their Coaters either, the Pepper Steak one is lovely, but I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to (beef) steak, I don't want the taste altered by coating nor sauces, so I used it on Pork Steaks.  I assume this Oriental Salt and Pepper is a relatively new one because I've never seen it anywhere before.  Put it this way, so impressed am I with my previous experience of their range of marinades and coatings that I bought four on the spot.  This was it, this had to be it.  I could feel it in me waters...

I was so nervous about this.  I was so close.  So, so close.  I walked into the kitchen, walked out again.  Made a coffee.  Drank a bottle of wine.  Went upstairs to check Twitter.  Checked my blog.  Checked my emails.  Went downstairs.  Dished up the soup.  Finished the soup.  And I was off.

I made a very small amount of a very basic coating batter, using self raising flour, vegetable oil and water.  I heated the oil in my mini fryer.  Sticking a fork in a King Prawn, I dunked it into a bowl of cornflour, then into the batter, then into the fryer.  I cooked three Prawns at a time, for about 1 - 2 minutes, until they were all battered.

The battered King Prawns

They looked so, so yummy, they nearly didn't make the final dish, but I was good and didn't steal one.  Honest.

I heated a little vegetable oil in my wok, and added three chopped chillies (two green and one red) and a chopped onion.  Don't chop the onion too fine, you want a bit of bite to it.  Unfortunately I'd forgot to buy Spring Onions.  Cook this out for about 1-2 minutes over a high heat.

Then add the battered prawns to the wok.  Cook, stirring, shaking, however you use a wok - I'm a stirrer - for about 2 more minutes.

Stirred, not shaken

This next part went a bit wrong, I shook some of the Flava-it onto the prawns and stirred.  Having not used this particular one before, and the dish not being very large, I didn't want to overdo it, especially with it being a very salty coating.  My Mother's words ringing in my ears 'You can always add salt but you can't take it away!'   I tried it and I hadn't put enough in.  So I sprinkled a bit more.  Tried an onion, and it was fine.  But by this time, the batter of a few prawns was just starting to stick to the wok and pull away from the prawns.  So - next time I make the dish, I'll use the Flava-it before I add the Prawns.  Trial and error, isn't it?  As you know by now, my presentation and photography are crap, but hopefully my recipes make up for in taste, what they lack in everything else!

You can see a few of the prawns have no coating at this point

Mr G loved this dish.  I loved this dish.  Was it exactly the same as the takeaway?  No.  Was it close?  Yes.  Is there scope for improvement?  Probably, if I thought long and hard enough about it.  If I was craving this dish from the takeaway, would it satisfy those cravings?  Yes.  So, all in all a very successful evenings cooking, with two lovely, flavoursome new dishes to add to my Fakeaway series!  Thanks, in a major part to Flava-it!

(* Disclaimer - This isn't a post sponsored by Flava-it, although it may look that way.  If I recommend a product, it's because I like it, not because I feel obliged to.  Flava-it are, of course, welcome to send me kilos and kilos of Flava-it for being so nice and complimentary about their amazing product!  Which is called Flava-it.  Did I mention it was amazing?)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

My unblogged week in a nutshell

What's occurring?  Everyone seems to be on a real downer lately!  That's worldwide, online, real life, you name it, life is sucking at the moment for a lot of people.   For me, personally, I'm comparing my life to putting a ponytail in layered hair.  Trying to gather all the strands and tendrils up and keeping them tightly in one place.  Once the band is in place, you see a piece that was too short to fit in.  And that is your ponytail's undoing, gradually, as the day goes by.   I'm trying to get everything working as it should, in tandem, in harmony, and it only takes that one stubborn too-short piece of hair to throw everything off kilter.   Trying to juggle motherhood, wifehood, housework AND try and salvage some sort of life for myself into the equation?  Which for me comes under the remit of blogging, cooking and comping... not the world's most exciting combination of pastimes, hardly bungee jumping or rock climbing but it does me.  When I get the time.   I like to blog hop and every week I vow to make the time to do it, but it passes me by...

I forgot to post this last week, Adam and I spent the afternoon in the kitchen on Mother's Day, we made the Pizza pies again, but also Bacon and Cheese Turnovers, which went down really well!   Adam was a little star and they tasted absolutely amazing. 


I thought it funny this week that a lot of people were adding me on Bloglovin' - something I'd set up months ago but never used.  Seemingly Google Reader is closing down - something which isn't going to impact all that much on me as I never used it due to lack of time.  There are blogs I visit regularly because they make me laugh until I pee, some I visit when I get an email from them, some that I love and shamefully forget due to lack of time (see above).   Rumour has it GFC will also be done away with - I really hope not.  I don't 'get' Google+.  Anyhoo, I checked out Bloglovin' and I find it a lot easier on the eye than Google Reader, and I have been able to check up on some great blogs.  I've missed out on hundreds of posts and will get round to looking at most of them soon.  So - shameless plug - if you'd like to add me on Bloglovin' - hit it :-)

Follow on Bloglovin

Hopefully later I'll have some recipe posts for you, but in the meantime a recap of my week.  The plumber finally fixed the leak 2 days later.  I didn't have a dry teatowel left in the house.  It took him about 10 seconds.  So I had to wait 2 days, because...?  Answers on a postcard.

Mr G hasn't been feeling very well, he's been having bad headaches and finally went to visit the Doctor.  I had thought they'd sounded like migraines, but from my previous experience of them, there was a brief respite from migraine.  This was permanent.  The Doctor had the nurse take blood, made an appointment to see someone at the hospital (Ladies!  Are your men like this?  See WHO at the hospital?  Brain surgeon?  Cleaner?  Midwife?  Who?  Whaddaya mean you 'didn't ask'!  Didn't LISTEN more like... pffffffffft) and sent him back with migraine tablets and Valium.  They gave Mr G... Valium.  Regular readers, are you getting the enormity of this?  Mr G.  Valium.  Oh, the smile that spread over my face...  However my husband didn't understand Valium.

Mr G:   Can I take one now?

Me:  If you want to sleep at 11.30 am, and not be able to drive again today, sure.

Mr G:  Will they make me sleepy?

Me:  Are you kidding me?

Mr G:  I thought Valium made people hyper?

Me:  So the logic in giving Valium to people before minor surgery and going on aeroplanes would therefore be... what?

The Valium isn't working on Mr G.  Of course it isn't, that would be too good to be true, wouldn't it?  So he's up and down all night.  He woke me up last night - get this - getting UP to go downstairs so... he wouldn't disturb me.

Me:  *Through gritted teeth*  If you'd stayed where you bloody were you wouldn't have disturbed me.

Still, I got to lie like Patrick Star for a couple of hours.  I hope he had to use a shoehorn to get back into bed.

The Mishaps of Mr G weren't stopped in their tracks by bad headaches.  Oh no.  He had his very own DYAC moment, when sending his new mobile phone number by text.

Mr G:  Oh no...

Me:  What?

Mr G:  This...

Me:  Who did you send that to?

Mr G:  Everyone...

After three... one, two, hahahahahahahahahahahahahah.  Although, that makes me... Mrs Grumpy...

Beware what you put on Twitter.  You know, those heat of the moment mini confessions between large magazine companies and you - where you think your tweet will get swallowed up in the thousands of responses, and they won't reply.  But then, they retweet it to 69,652 followers?  AND then they put your confession up on a web page?  Thanks Marie Claire - that was between US.  I thought I could trust you.  Seemingly not.

Don't think bad of me.  At least it's not Pete Doherty.  That IS bad.

What can I say?   I have a penchant for overweight, drunk men who spend their time talking to stuffed monkeys?  Would that cut it?

I'll see you later hopefully, with some new additions to the 'Chinese Fakeaway' series of posts!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

It never rains...

Ok, it does actually, I live in Wales.  They say things come in threes... well I must be going for a multiple of then.  The huge gas and electricity bill... the car failing its MOT (but passing after a job done, costing double what we'd hoped)... it looks like the power steering pump is on its way out as well.  Last night and this morning, my kitchen floor was sodden.  We thought the washing machine had packed in - further investigation, the sink cupboard was flooded, and it's a leaking pipe in there.  Waiting for the plumber to call now.  Within 24 hours, said the lady in the Maintenance Department.  Then my Kindle decides to pack up on me - so there's my sanity gone.   Small mercies is - that it isn't the washing machine, that would have been a major disaster for a family of six!

Life seems to go in extremes for me.  Extremely amazing and extremely disasterous.  No happy-medium - which I'd settle for sometimes!  Especially when I'm skint and things are packing up around me!  Ah well, happy, positive thoughts for the rest of today.  Nothing else can go wrong... can it?

Don't answer that.  Await my answer in my next post...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Happy Mothers Day

Not a happy day for everyone, so sending love to everyone missing somebody today


I hope everyone is having a nice and relaxing day!  My day has been surreal, to say the least.  If you remember my post earlier this week... and by 'post' I mean 'rant'...

Mothers Day - to me - isn't about expensive gifts, or material possessions, or lining someone elses pocket with hiked up prices.  It's the money can't buy things.   The beautiful artistic cards that the kids bring home from school.   I woke up to find my daughter (aged 10) in the kitchen, drying the few dishes I'd left draining last night.  She told me that today, she was Mum.  I was to blog, enter competitions, read my Kindle - anything - but not to do any housework.  She then made cereal and toast for her three brothers, father and herself, and washed, dried and kept those dishes too.  Took a pile of clothes up from the stairs and kept them.  Mr G got out the iron and put Magic FM on and started tackling the (I am not joking) now 5 foot ironing pile.   All I have had to do this morning is make a coffee, and make and decorate some cupcakes that I've bought pretty boxes for as a gift for my Mum, who we will go and see in a bit.

Adam's card

Ryan's card

Cait's card

I had to clean my WHOLE kitchen while 'Temporary Mum' wasn't watching!

I'm going to (by choice) spend some of the day cooking - because I want to, not because I'm obliged to.  Mr G asked me what I wanted him to cook for me, but I fancied making the Mini Pizza Pies again (details of how to find the recipe again here) and possibly some Bacon and Cheese turnovers.   I want to watch United THRASH Chelsea (please, please, please), veg on the couch with my Kindle (I'm currently reading Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series and really into it!) and I may have a glass (snort) of wine.   That's what Mothers Day means to me, having a break from the old routine, and spending the spare time doing what I love, and most of all spending time with my family.

Mum's plant and homemade cupcakes

I love my family so much, and especially, thank you to my mini-me, Caitlin

God love him...

And it's snowing!  Perfect!   How are you spending your day?  What does it mean to you?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Anyone for a bit of Deano?

Uh oh.  Mum found out how to upload videos to Youtube and share them on her blog... mwahahahaha!   After hours of frustration with Windows Movie Maker that kept crashing when I wanted to trim merely a few seconds off the clip (a known bug on XP apparently - yes, I still use XP, yes, I know - I know...) and Nero doing the self same thing, I wasn't to be defeated.  I got there in the end.   This is one of my favourite little snippets from over the years.  My youngest son Adam (aka Laary, aka Tuna, aka Asda - all stories for another time) absolutely loves Dean Martin's 'Volare' and has done from being a tiny baby.  I think he thought it was about him - 'Oh Laary' :-)  He wanted to sing it on karaoke but wouldn't do it alone, so his big sister said she would help out.  I think it's cute but then I'm biased.  

Today was meant to be the evening of my Smooth Starlight Supper to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.  Unfortunately, for the bulk of my guests this date, coupled with my appalling timing in letting people know about it, meant that I would have only had between 4 - 6 guests.  I know the point wasn't that I raised millions for them, but still, I wanted to raise a decent amount for them too.  So, Mr G and I spoke about it and decided to postpone it.  As he pointed out, they accept donations any time of the year, and perhaps when the weather gets warmer, and the evenings get lighter, we could hold something that was indoor and outdoor, so we could raise the capacity of people invited and hopefully raise them a nice tidy sum of money.  That sounded like a better idea in the long run than my going to a huge effort and raising very little.  

It's Mothering Sunday here in the UK tomorrow, and I should be in the kitchen baking...  Mr G has - true to form - bought my Mum the most sickliest sweet card you have ever seen, and will soon be scouring the internet for a poem to finish it off.  I want to make Mum some cupcakes to go with her potted plant and I quite fancied making a Snickers Cheesecake too.  Looking at the time, I'd better get a move on!  Will post results later...

Friday, 8 March 2013

It really comes to something when...

... I'm the sanest person in this household.   Mr G?   That man comes out with some bizarre stuff, on a daily basis.  It's getting bad.  Between you and me, I'm sure he's losing the plot.

In the car, driving to the supermarket, and we're listening to a Four Tops CD on the stereo.  My favourite song of theirs comes on, 'Walk Away Renée'.  If you're not familiar with it, it's quite a sad, heart-wrenching song.  So I turn up the volume a little, and start belting it out.

Me:  Just walk away Renée... You won't see me follow you back home.  The empty sidewalks on my block...

Mr G:  *Interrupts*  What did he sing then?  After 'Just walk away Renée'?

Me:   You won't see me follow you back home?

Mr G:  Oh.  That's what it was.  I've been singing the wrong words then, for years.

Me:  Well, as far as I'm concerned it's pretty obvious what he's singing.  *Pause*   Why?  What did you think he was singing?

Mr G:  *Shakes head*

Me:  Go on.  I won't laugh...

Mr G:  Just walk away Renée... You won't see me Zabadoobadoh...

Now, I've had four children.  And let me tell you, after 9 months of pregnancy - pelvic floor exercises weren't high on my list of things to do.  Alcohol was.  If they'd been called 'pelvic floor pastries' or 'pelvic floor cheesecake', I may have been more inclined.  Twas the inclusion of the word 'exercise' that alienated them for me.  My midwife's warning that I'd end up 'leaking like an 80 year old woman' whenever I sneezed, coughed, laughed or farted was no false prophecy.  And when your husband comes out with the word 'zabadoobadoh' - attributing it to the great Levi Stubbs?   I think I did all four simultaneously.  Then wet myself.

Because it's not always about the 'nice' things

I missed last week due to being completely frazzled trying to pack six of us for our weekend away with the folks, so back on track, and linking up with for 'Why I Love My Husband - The Never-ending list'.

Some of you may have seen that I was pretty down at heart yesterday, if you missed me wallowing in self-pity you can catch it here.  I hadn't said anything much to Mr G.  I hadn't told him I'd posted on my blog about it - he does pretty much need prompting to read it, so much for solidarity... ;-)   But he had seen the mess with his own eyes.  I wear my heart on my sleeve for him, not for everyone, but always for him, so he could see I was hurt and upset, and very defeated.   And when the kids came home...

36.  He called them all into the living room, and they were all very firmly put in their places.  He pointed out everything that I did for everyone in the family, including him.  That I had looked after everyone pretty much single-handedly after the series of operations he's had the last three years, and that I deserved better than how I was being treated.   Some tears, a lot of very sheepish looks.  The sermon lasted about 15 minutes, when he dismissed them back to their rooms.  He walked into the kitchen, hugged me and asked me to move out of the way so he could make me a coffee.

If I had been left to confront the kids, it would have gone one of two ways.  Me screeching like a banshee at them - which doesn't work, all kids hear is screeching, not what you're saying to them.  Or I'd have probably broke down in tears.  Which is the most likely.  Mr G taking over, and doing something I really didn't want to face, completely unprompted, because he could see how much it was upsetting me.  Because he could see the injustice in how I was being treated.  I love this man, so, so much.  It's not all fun and games and laughter, sometimes there are days like this, and he still didn't disappoint.

And the bedrooms were all spotless, by 5pm.

*Aaaaargh - just seen that the link up has changed to Mondays - ah well, one less job for next week!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Not 'quite' right pictures: Revisited

Right - I suppose I should apologise for this post - it's a repost, is that what it's called?  But I'm not going to apologise for the simple reason, that my most popular posts are knocking on 300 views, and even some of the dire ones are at 50 views.  The four posts I'm going to consolidate into this one - only have 25 views.  Between them!  They were posted at a time that I wasn't blogging seriously, and I think I only had one follower at the time.  And that was me.  If you have actually looked through the posts though - I'm going to kick off the post with two new photos for you.

This weekend - in Llangollen... 'Here, Shell.  Do you want me to buy this T shirt for you?'

How about... no?

I wonder what this person had done to deserve what appeared to be a doughnut shoved under the back wiper of their car?

50 shades of... toast, maybe?  I dunno!

You can get an ointment for that...

Mr G liked nothing better than wandering through Her Ladyship's Gardens

Which I won't be buying!

I've encountered a few in my time, yes...

...of the Crocodile enclosure. 

I brought my own toilet paper too.  Pah.

Yes.  Yes he is.

No, you may not throw that pot while I pee!

He's his Dad's son, alright.

Hot pasties made in Cornwall!  We were in Devon though...

I bet this number plate is worth a fortune!

Big Baps in Paignton, Devon

Also known as - my family

Ahhhhhhhh Sodit...

And the secret to your smooth taste... actually, I don't want to know.



Pleased to see me?

The above photo - a) I didn't notice it while taking the picture; b) I still didn't notice it when I looked through them on the computer; c) I still hadn't noticed it while I selected it as one of the photos to upload to be printed; d) I didn't notice it while browsing through the printed photographs and oh yes - e) I definitely still hadn't realised when I packed it off to school with my then 5 year old when it was his turn to show something to his class.  He showed them something, that's for sure!  *Cringe*

I doubt it will be too long before the next opportunity presents itself for me to snap a picture of, such is my random life ;-)

Back to reality...

What a lovely weekend away!  It was my Mum's 60th birthday and my troops accompanied her, my father and my brother away for the weekend to The Old Corn Mill, in a little village called Cynwyd, near Corwen.  This is also where we spent Mr G's 50th birthday last year and we all fell completely head over heels in love with the place.  Mum had decided she didn't want a party this time, having had one for her 40th, 50th and various anniversaries in between.  She wanted to just get away from it all, and celebrate her birthday in peace.  We knew the perfect place!

Mum's birthday cake - I can't take the credit for this one though!

We were due to pick up the keys at 4pm, so we left home at 12.15pm and drove to The Berwyn Arms, a little pub/restaurant in Glyndyfrdwy, which is between Corwen and Llangollen.  We thought it would make more sense to have the birthday meal in the day so we would be able to unpack and relax at 'home' with a couple of drinks in the night time, as we had two drivers in the party.  We had an amazing meal in The Berwyn - it's the sort of pub that everyone wishes was their 'local' and so we booked again for Sunday lunch.  The food is spot on, and the staff are all ever so friendly, nothing is too much trouble for them.  The kids had some time in the soft play area (after their ice creams!).

The Berwyn Arms in Glyndyfrdwy
My lot, waiting patiently for their grub

We arrived at The Corn Mill a little after 4pm, and Nan - the owner - had kindly lit a fire in the woodburning stove, and put a banner and balloons up, and left my mother a bottle of wine, chocolate and Welsh cakes, which was a really nice touch.

The Corn Mill from the rear

We quickly unpacked all our bits and bobs, shoved our food in the fridge, and opened a few bottles of wine.  We all gathered round whilst Mum opened all her cards and presents - she'd shown amazing restraint, waiting until the evening of her birthday to open it all!  In a couple of hours we were all feeling a bit peckish and so we made a little buffet up, Mum had baked a huge ham, we'd bought fresh rolls, sausage rolls, pork pies, crisps and other nibbles.  Mum made us all glasses of Pimms and we all sat around the huge table with our buffet.

Mum making a start on all her goodies!

On the Saturday we had brunch in the Mill, and then went into Llangollen for a mooch around.  Steve managed to find a 'Not quite right' photo opportunity there too, which I will put into another blog post - honestly, I can't take him ANYWHERE!  We had a coffee and cake in a nice little Café and then we went home.  I'd made and frozen a huge Chicken Tikka Masala earlier in the week for the occasion, so we had that with rice, naan bread and poppadoms, and a slice of Mum's birthday cake.  Then - we all had a game of the board game LOGO, which was great fun.  

On the Sunday we had an easy morning, I had a sit down with a coffee and read my Kindle, and then we went back to The Berwyn Arms for our Sunday dinner.  Four of our party went for the roast dinner, which was huge and looked amazing.  The only complaint we had (which, if it's remedied immediately by staff and without grumbling - is it still a complaint?)  One of the vegetables was Cauliflower cheese.  Three of the four who ordered the roast dinners - don't eat cheese.  It had tainted everything, was in the gravy etc.  It's not something I would personally put with a roast dinner, specifically gravy, but I'm no expert.  I also don't like cheese.  We asked the waitress if we could have clean plates just to move the food off, and they insisted on taking the plates back to the kitchen and giving us three new dinners.  Which was awfully decent of them and ensured that our meal wasn't spoiled.   I really wish The Berwyn Arms was closer to home than the 50 miles away it is - we'd be spending a lot more time there!  After a hearty dessert and the kids letting off some steam again in the play area, we went home.  As we had to leave early on the Monday, due to other commitments, we packed what we could and pottered around, nobody was really hungry so we made some sandwiches and plated the leftover food and had another buffet tea.  

From the moment I went into our bedroom on arrival, I opened the small window next to the bed, as I wanted to hear the sounds of the waterfalls and streams at night.  I actually listen to this sort of stuff on my MP3 player to help me drift off to sleep when at home, so I certainly wasn't going to keep the sound shut off when I had it outside for real!  On the Monday morning, I was awake before everyone else, and I sat outside with a coffee just listening to the water and birdsong, the sky was blue and the sun was shining, and it was just perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  One of those rare moments where everything is ok with the world.  No rushing around, no cajoling children, no stress, no dishwashing, no making lunches.  Just peace.

This is a little video I took around the back of the Mill that morning.

Then, after my peace was shattered, and everyone had been fed breakfast, it was time to pack the car, and double and triple check every room, before we started on our journey back home, and back to the old routine. I don't think anyone wanted to leave, I think I could have stayed there forever to be honest!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Happy St. David's Day and Happy Birthday Mum!

What a week.  I've been permanently frazzled.  Permanently.  It doesn't end here though, I won't be blogging again now until Monday so I thought I'd better show my face, and check in with random facts/minor annoyances/embarrassments of the week.

Today it's St. David's Day, our national day, and an opportunity - if desired - to dress our children up to look like, erm... just go to Google, hit images, and type in Welsh lady costume.  Yeah.  Like that.  *Shudders*.

It's also my Mum's 60th birthday today!  The cake has been collected, I'm brandishing banners, balloons, helium balloons, presents and cards.  The festivities kick off today with a meal out for the family, my lot, Mum and Dad, and my brother.

So - this week:

I blistered my fingers.  Sharpening a tub (massive empty Celebrations tub) full of colouring pencils.  How hardcore am I?  How rock n roll is this woman's life?

Daniel has had a haircut.  Up to him starting 6th form I would always insist on him cutting it and looking tidy.  Now he's 17, nearly 18 I have to let him find his feet.  And this entails him having a hairstyle that makes him look like Sideshow Bob.  Mum told him firmly that he wasn't ruining her photos with a head like that, so last night he had it thinned out a bit.  Now he has a curly mullet.  Much better.

Rastamouse.  For those not familiar with it, this is a CBeebies programme, Rastamouse and his gang of little mice have a reggae group 'Da Easy Crew' and also solve mysteries.  The mice speak with a patois.  And so...

Cait:  Mum?  What does 'irie' mean?

Me:  Well, it sort of means 'alright' or 'ok'.  It's a positive term.

Ryan:  *Looking at me in awe*  Mum!  Can you speak 'mouse'?

Me:  Erm...

and then...

Talking about old age with Mr G. 

Mr G:  Shell, if I ever get to the stage that I'm crapping myself and peeing myself.  Euthanasia.

Me:  Ok.

Mr G.  Although... *Looks at me*  Best not, or we'd have killed you off two years ago, wouldn't we?


and then...

Walking through town to take the kids for their eye tests at the Opticians and Adam decides that he's going to sing at the top of his voice.  Fine if it was 'Twinkle twinkle little star' or even 'Gangnam Style'.  No.  This is Adam we're talking about.  Adam was singing:

'Mum smells badder than fishcakes'.

On that note...