Sunday, 7 December 2014

Getting into the Christmas Spirit... Finally!

I often complain that time passes so quickly, but no more so than now, looking at my dashboard, seeing two unfinished posts languishing in 'Drafts'.  One stating '100 days til Christmas' and its successor entitled '50 days til Christmas' gives me an indicator as to how busy I've been the last few months.  Now, it's 18 days away.  Oh bugger.  And breathe...

The Christmas tree and decorations are up.  The children did the tree themselves this year and they made a great job of it.  Normally Mr G and I have to... titivate it a bit.  Our new tree topper, a cheeky little fairy called Violetta, handmade by our uber talented friend Helen.   My friends and I have a swap system in place at Christmas, and in return for my Christmas pudding I receive all manner of lovely bits, decorations, floral arrangements, pickles and sweets, even tubs of chocolates from those who don't have a 'craft'.  I love it! 


Hard work this tree decorating supervising lark...

Poor Mr G's health is still iffy.  The phantom gallbladder, after ultrasound and a full body scan remains a mystery, so on the 15th of December he has a pre op. Yes, they're going in!
On Wednesday we return to Wrexham Maelor. Back in June, the consultant referred him for physio and if that didn't work then in December at his next check up, he would go back on the list for another ankle reconstruction. He had one or two physio sessions... and they signed him off, as it was apparent it wouldn't work. So. Yes, they're going in there too!
Last month, Mr G and I went on a bit of a mad one and with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom, we redecorated the entire house... and re floored it. As you do. And, while laying the flooring in Cait's room, he hurt his knee. It was thought to be ligament damage. But now it appears he has torn the cartilage in his knee and yes, you've guessed it, they're going in!  Poor man doesn't know where to hurt first, I really feel for him.

So 2015 is going to be a gruelling one for my brave hubby.  I'll have to dust down my Nurse Gladys Emmanuel costume and work on my bedside manner. We're just hoping that the pre op next week won't give him a date pre New Year.  It is unlikely but we're worried that a lot of people will refuse operations around the festive period, effectively bumping him UP the list? 

On Wednesday we'll set off early to Wrexham and make a day of it, do some Christmas shopping and grab some lunch before his appointment later in the afternoon. Then, that evening, I am out for Christmas dinner with the women in my family, a long standing tradition.  This year we welcome a newbie into our fold, my brother's girlfriend.  God. Help. Her.

The Coca Cola truck came to Caernarfon this year, which apparently means Christmas is coming. No. Incorrect. The YODEL truck coming to Menai Bridge yesterday with this means Christmas is coming.

Come to Mama...

We bought our massive turkey, and a huge joint of ham that will have to be cut in two, so I'm spending time looking through magazines and websites for inspiration.  The last time I cooked ham I did it in Coca Cola, and that was a hit.  I may do one piece traditionally, cloves and sticky stuff, and one with a twist.  Watch this space!

To round off my post, yesterday afternoon we went down to Waitose, who were having a bit of a 'do' for their customers.  We all got our Christmas jumpers on (don't judge me!).  The branch choir sang carols in the foyer.

The award winning Waitrose choir

Adam and Mr G meet Olaf (Mr G's hero)

Sampling the mulled wine

'Have you been good this year?'  Erm...

There was all manner of food to sample; chutneys, party food, chocolates, mince pies, cheeses, Christmas cake, nuts and dried fruits, and of course mulled wine!  On hand for the children were Santa and his elf and Olaf from Frozen.  A massive Olaf too!  The Christmas cake was so good that I bought one, and that will save me making one this year as... 18 days people, 18 days.  The mulled wine was the best I have ever tasted, be it bought, or made, and was a snip at £3.99 a bottle.  As we left, Menai Bridge Band were outside playing carols.  All in all it was a lovely afternoon and it finally got me into the spirit.  Better late than never! 

We've finally been talked into joining Sky, the lure of all 7 Sky Sports channels, and all the childrens channels, unlimited broadband and unlimited calls at a cost of about £100 a quarter less than we're paying BT now for a lot less service clinched the deal.  They claim the transfer will be seamless, and that I won't be left without internet access, but those may well be famous last words.  If you don't see me?   Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Now, where's that corkscrew...

M x

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Last Days of Summer

Dan started college in Bangor on Monday on his Electronics course.  The boys went back to school on Tuesday and Cait started Year 8 today (that's Form 2 to me!) thanks to a well-scheduled INSET day.  And I must say I'm a little bit meh about it, I could have done with a few extra weeks with the children if I'm honest?  Is it just me, because when I was a child, the summer holiday seemed to last forever?  Too long?  Come the last fortnight I was praying for time to hurry by, so I could go back to school just for something stimulating to do.   Now I'm a parent, it goes by so quickly.  The house was soooooo quiet at 9 am this morning, all you could hear was the clock ticking!

Mr G is in hospital... but it's an appointment.  He saw his consultant a fortnight ago, and he apologised for the fact that Mr G was still in pain (fair play) and said that he wanted him to have an MRI scan as there may be stones in the bile duct... *sigh*.   So he's there now waiting to be scanned.  His parting words were - 'Do you want to put my ring on your finger?'  and I turned into Beavis and Butthead.  On the plus side, we only had to call an ambulance once this summer holiday so...

We managed a grand total of one camping trip.  But it was a goodie, I do have to say!  I mentioned in my last post that there was a site I had fancied in Corwen, but when we phoned to book, it was full.  We had every bit of camping gear out ready, packed, and nowhere to go.  So Mr G and I both went on UK Campsite, searching through the different counties in Wales.  But I had my heart set on that particular area.  And I found a site in Llangollen, I'd never heard of it or come across it before.  We phoned up and they had space so we booked for five nights.  It looked really pretty, Abbey Farm, with a shop and restaurant, and the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey were on site too.

Standard.  Even when I camp, I get a kitchen!

The little on site restaurant

The Reception and very well stocked shop

Valle Crucis ruins

On the Thursday we went into Wrexham, I had pre-booked tickets for us to go and watch 'Frozen' at the cinema.  Sing a long.  Yes.  Sing a long... ♫ Do you want to build a Snowman? ♫   Although Mr G and I were both dreading it, we both really enjoyed the film.  And he admitted to belting out 'Let it Go'.  The sad case that he is.  We went around the shops, Cait hit Primarni, and Adam decided that he wants us to move to Wrexham.  Because he walked past three different Greggs shops in the space of five minutes. 

The Mother Ship calling Adam home...

That's him sold.  Doesn't take much.  Literally a whiff of a Greggs sausage roll and he's anyone's... #pastrywhore.  They've also got a Nando's, so that's me and Cait going with him. 

♫ Do you want to eat a Pastie?  Doesn't have to be a Pastie ♫

On the Friday morning we went to Plas Newydd, which I remembered had been featured on an episode of 'Most Haunted' a few years ago.  Ryan had already seen the episode, Cait watched it on Youtube before going but quite sensibly we didn't tell Adam.  Or he'd have been in the car for the duration.  The home of the Ladies of Llangollen, quite a bit of activity had been documented there.   Inside the house was beautiful, with intricate wood carvings.  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photographs inside.  

Plas Newydd

"A heavenly evening - Blue sky with patches of Cloud scattered over. My beloved and I went to the shrubbery, spent the Evening there, brought our books. Planted out our hundred carnations."

Carving on the front of the house

The back of the house

We had a walk around the lovely grounds, and then as the heavens opened, we made a mad dash for the little cafe to get a homemade scone with jam and cream.  Naughty but very nice indeed. 


Friday afternoon, I had pre-booked us on the two hour horse-drawn boat trip down the canal.  It took us from the centre of Llangollen to the Horseshoe Falls and then back.  We had a twenty minute stop there, before we made our way back.   It was really relaxing and peaceful.  

Our boat coming to pick us up

Mr G and Ryan

Cait and Adam

Horseshoe Falls

Our horse, leading us back along the canal

Mr G had booked us into the little Bistro on site that evening, and we had a lovely meal there;  Mr G and I opted for the Lamb Shank, Cait had the Cod, which was so huge that I nearly cried and sent my Lamb back. It was a bit pricier than the places we usually eat, but it was a one off, it was our only 'holiday' this year, so we decided to treat ourselves. 

Caitlin lured by the promise of free wifi and fresh fish.  Shell lured by the Merlot...

Just realised Ryan had his hood on, indoor and out, for the entire duration of the break

Look at the bloody size of that!

After we'd eaten, the kids rushed off back to the park and their new friends, and Mr G and I had a good half hour together in peace, having a drink.  Which was nice.  Once he'd stopped taking weird photographs of himself with my Photobooth app.  I'm not even joking.  One of the pictures looks like he has what can only be described as a vagina, on his face.  That's what happens when you mirror my husband's face, apparently.  I'm not sure whether to put it in my 'Not Quite Right' section of photographs, it's a corker, but it looks like a fadge.  I don't know how I can better describe it.

Saturday morning was spent just having a mooch around the shops in Llangollen.  We found a church that was having a book sale, and seeing as the battery on my iPad had long since fizzled out, I bought some paperbacks, and a couple of bottles of wine, and we headed back to the site to chill out for the rest of the day.   It had been so long since I'd read a proper book.

Sunday, we headed to Oswestry, to Park Hall Farm.  This was a lovely day out for the family, we all enjoyed ourselves.  Petting and feeding the animals, pig racing (mine won!), a maize maze, tractor rides, brilliant indoor and outdoor play areas, a military museum, hall of mirrors... all sorts of fun activities and exhibits kept us amused all day. 

My winning pig


We headed back to camp for a quick change before going to our favourite local pub, The Berwyn Arms for our tea.

Monday morning, we had the enjoyable task of packing and taking the tent down in the rain and fog.   It had just rained non stop since about 8pm the night before.  We were soggy, miserable, cold and very hungry by the time we arrived home! 

So... September!  Ryan and Dan have their birthdays, and on the 21st, Mr G and I are Manchester bound to go and see The Pierces in concert!   Eeeek!   If that wasn't exciting enough (well, it is for me, most people don't know who they are... including Mr G...) we have booked a hotel for the night too, so we don't have to travel home at stupid o'clock and then get up with the children for school the next day.  Woop!  Thanks Mum! 


And finally, we've ordered a new mattress.  An orthopaedic one, with 5 five star reviews, all of which claim to have helped the purchaser's (or their spouses) back problems.  8 more sleeps!  Feeling very optimistic about it :-)  Could this be the end of my back pain?  I really hope so!

M x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Back to Nature

We've done some faffing about this school holiday.  It has flown ridiculously quickly.  We had decided after last years break in Devon that we'd forego a summer holiday this year and save to get bits on the house and garden done.  In the year since then we decorated the living room, hall, replaced our broken washer and got the summerhouse.  The intention was lots of camping this holiday, but between Mr G being ill, paying too much heed to weather forecasts, physio appointments, commitments at home - life, basically, we find ourselves two weeks before the start of the new school year and the only camping we've done is in the summerhouse.  Grrrr!  So we are biting the bullet and going next week at some point.  No matter what the weather.  Sadly Dan doesn't want to come with us, the end of an era!  But he is nearly 19 and he wants to spend this time with his group of friends before they all scatter to Uni in different parts of the UK, so I understand.  Plus it's nice not to have to leave the house empty.  

We have all been torn over where to go.  We love Forest Holidays in Beddgelert and Snowdonia Parc in Waunfawr.  Beddgelert is great for kids but lethal with midges.  Waunfawr has a brewery, a brewery!  Gorgeous real ales.  A pub that does food.  But I've been dying to try a campsite in Corwen, very near to The Old Corn Mill, where we stayed for Mr G's 50th and Mum's 60th.  I love the Llangollen/Corwen area, I think it's beautiful.  We know of several places to go for a good meal at the latter end of the week, when I'm sick of tinned food and bacon!  Mr G fancies the horse drawn boat trip on the canal.  Wrexham isn't too far away, and I believe they have a Primark, which has piqued Cait's interest and wallet, what with having her birthday money to spend!  But the most important thing is just relaxation.  Ipad full of tunes, kindle app full of books, camping chair, box of wine, marshmallows ready to toast and the coffin full of ready prepped food!  I've already made and frozen some lovely casseroles and chillies in takeaway cartons.  Love being organised!   Fry ups in the morning, with coffee in a travel mug... Always tastes like the best coffee in the world!  

So we start the packing later.  Everything is pretty much in one place so it's not going to be too bad... That's what she said... Really excited and more than ready to recharge my batteries, ready for the new school year!  

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Three Positives - Day Two

And yes, you may well see that I missed a day.  Not through my usual scatterbrainedness either.  A day of constant pain, and two hours sleep, and it's hard to grind the positives.  I've left that typo in because it made me chuckle.  I love you autocorrect.

1.  Slow release Tramadol.
Could this finally be the drug to manage my pain?   Yes, I've been giggly and happy and less ratty and tense than usual... This is a bad thing?  

2.  Day out in Llandudno.
My troops, Mum and Dad, brother and girlfriend and Emma went to Llandudno for the day.  We all had a lovely lunch in the Queens Hotel, before descending on the pier.  Mr G had a reading with a medium - very insightful, before we headed to check out the natural remedies in the Llandudno Emporium kiosk.   We now have oils... 

3.  New Cat.
Mr G bought me a new Maneki Neko :-).  A stalker version of one I gave already :-)

Laughing so much.   A smaller version of one I have already!

M x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Three Positives - Day One

I've been tagged three times now to do the social media 'Three Positives' challenge, so thought I'd best pull my finger out and start.  These are for yesterday.

1.  Finding Sam
I lived alone in Manchester from the age of 16.  I only knew one person there, a good friend from school who had left that summer to go and live with her father.  I remember meeting her father, Sam, and feeling at home.  He was a softly spoken man, a true gentleman, originally from the West Indies.  He took me under his wing, he looked out for me, he made sure I never went without.  And what a cook!  My first introduction to Hot Pepper Sauce.  He wasn't only a father figure to me, he was a good friend to me too in his own right.  I probably spent more time with him than I did with his daughter.   I lost touch with them both in the mid 90's, but found my friend recently on Facebook.  I had asked several times about her father but that question was never answered.  I didn't want to push the issue because - they may have been estranged.  Or ever worse, he may have passed away.   I thought about him often.  My friend recently had a baby, so I sent a message of congratulations.  She sent me a message to say her Dad often asked about me over the years, but had only been talking about me the other day.  I was partly gutted and partly ecstatic to find out that he still lived in the same house.  Gutted for the wasted years but thrilled that I could get in touch with him.   So I have handwritten a letter to him, and in this letter I have thanked him for his support and friendship all those years ago.  I doubt I expressed my gratitude to him at the time, being a selfish teen, but as an adult I realise that my life would have been a lot darker without him in it.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to tell him this.  This particular chapter of my life housed three regrets.  Three special people lost from my life.  One friendship is beyond redemption on both her and my part.  The second... I tried last year to put right but I made things much worse.  Sometimes doing what you think is the right thing for someone else, is the wrong thing to do for yourself.   Some hurts will never heal.   And then Sam, a genuine 'losing touch'.  Lives drifting in different directions.  And he still thought about me too.  That made my day, week, month and year.   I hope to meet up with my friend and her daughter soon, and it would be lovely if Sam could be a part of that too :-)

2.  Adam's Birthday
Adam turned 8.  My 'baby'.  I asked him if he was still my baby boy, and he said yes.  I asked him why and he said this...

Adam:  Because I'm a boy, I'm the youngest and you gave birth to me


I didn't get a chance to make a cake this year, what with the weekend's road trip and subsequent pain, so told him he could choose any cake in Tesco.  He chose that.  The cake is only about a centimetre thick... But kids and their Haribo!   He had over £100 in money, and has already invested in one of those fish things, and a pair of much coveted Stompeez slippers.  The rest, I am informed, is being spent on dinosaurs.  Because what this house needs is more dinosaurs.   Thanks to all my friends and family for their cards and gifts :-)

3.  Healthy food
I've been feeling a bit bleugh after these last few weeks, what with visitors, entertaining, days out, meals out, grabbing food on the hop.  I definitely see a connection between diet and my energy levels.  So from yesterday it's back on the salad, wholemeal pasta, bread, wraps etc and fresh fruit.   My mum is taking 11 of us out for a meal on Thursday, let's see if my resolve holds!  (It won't, I can tell you now, it will be fresh battered cod and chips...). But if it's only once in a while, it's ok.  

That's my three positives for Monday.  I have a sneaking suspicion that one of today's is going to be pain relief!  Ouch :-(

M x

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Lewis

It's Sunday morning, and I am sat in my hotel room in the Premier Inn, Wrexham after a wonderful night's sleep.  Whether it was the bed, or the wine consumed last night remains to be seen, but either way, that mattress is coming home in my suitcase!  

We had a lovely, lovely day yesterday.  The weather, at home, in Oswestry and in Wrexham was perfect (until about 10pm when we had to take snoozy kids off to bed).  It looks like another glorious day today as well.  

Here are some pictures of the day... Including the dead bird on my head.  

Caitlin all ready to go, the boys and Mr G travelled in t shirts and got changed in the car park as it was HOT!

Pre wedding selfie.  See what I mean about the fascinator?  I look demented!

Waiting for the bride to arrive, while the groom paces nervously.  

Mum and Adam, who manages to look cheeky in every photo we take of him!

The ceremony was delayed as the bride's car had broke down.  The registrar had shut the main doors to the room so Nigel didn't see Stephanie... And we were all dying a death in there.   She told us later shed'd had to help push the wedding car.  What a girl!  Anyway, she made it and they're now husband and wife finally!


I want some of that...


A quick Diet Coke in the pub next door before we made our way to Wrexham to check in and have a quick wash and change...

Our lovely, comfy, inviting bed... But first, partay!

Llay Miners Welfare, where the reception was held, as it came into view, Mum said 'Look at that building, isn't it lovely?'  I told her that's where we were bound.  

The reception room was big, a lovely size for a party.  If I lived locally it's definitely somewhere I would use for a big party.  Drinks prices were reasonable too, soft drinks for 5 and a small red wine for me was around the £8 mark.  The tables had been dressed lovely with helium balloons, sweets and lovely wedding favours.

These scrolls were in pretty little voile bags with sugared almonds, little gems and a small butterly shaped mirror inscribed with the wedding details.  Lovely keepsake of the day!

Cait photobombed us...

Bride and Groom's first dance to 'Wonderwall'.

The DJ for the night has to be applauded too.  Not only did he play a fantastic mix of music, Motown, Indie, 80s, to present day, but all night he was taking photos from his podium but he walked round too table to table taking pictures and updated the big screen up on stage with photos of all the guests.  I hope that Steph has copies of them because there were some good ones of my lot.  

Too soon it was time to go back to the hotel, it had been a long day for everyone.  We went outside to find pouring rain, which was a bit of a relief after these last few days of incessant heat and humidity.  

A welcome sight...

That was our day, in a nutshell.  Now, we're going down for a coffee, and come back and pack our bag, then off home via Corwen and lunch at The Berwyn Arms, to celebrate Adam's birthday and round off a lovely weekend!