Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Nifty Little Tomato Trick

I love tomatoes, I love growing them, and I love eating them.  To me, nothing tastes as good as a homegrown tomato, sliced, sprinkled with a little salt, between two slices of wholemeal bread.  I have my hanging basket of Tumbling Toms, which I do every year.  In my greenhouse I have three different varieties that I've never grown before, that I bought from a car boot sale when we were in Whittington.  I don't know what made me think about it, but I was thinking about suckers, which are the little shoots that come off the plant, between the stem and the leaves.  Opinion is divided but general consensus is that you should pull these off.  As I was reading up on it, I saw that you could grow a new tomato plant from the suckers.  Just stick them in a glass of water for about a week, and it grows roots.  Pot on.  Bingo!  As I was reading this article though, I saw another little trick.  Someone had grown a massive... bush is the best word I can use to describe it.  They'd put a plastic waste paper bin, with holes drilled in the bottom, and near the top, buried into the ground, with the top layer of holes just showing.  A couple of shovels of compost in the bin.  Around it, they planted four tomato plants, in a NSEW position.  Put canes and wire around to contain the plants.  Within a space of a month, it was just one big mass of tomatoes.  You pour the water into the centre 'well' and it waters above and below the soil.  Today Mr G had a crack at a slightly amended version today.

We didn't plant into the ground as our soil isn't that great, plus space is getting less and less in our garden!  We bought a big pot, a smaller pot and three well established tomato plants, as it was a slightly smaller space than if it was being planted directly into the soil.

Large pot filled with compost, and a smaller pot embedded in the middle

Tomato plants planted, spaced apart, and canes and wire added to secure the plants in place
Put in a sunny spot, see the water in the inner 'well'

So, that was today's gardening job, most other things having to go on hold for over a week because *someone* forgot to put the green bin out and it is rammed...  I can't wait to see if it works, the one I saw online was pretty impressive.  I'll update in a month.  Let's just hope the weather stays this good!  

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Summer Garden

What a glorious Sunday, 19 degrees!  The garden still needed a fair bit of work on it, after the rain we had recently, things just seem to have sprung up out of nowhere.  Which is ok if you're talking plants and flowers, but not so great when you're talking about the hedges in our back garden!

We also have this big spiky lethal plant that we wanted to get rid of.   The leaves are really sharp and it was growing really untidily, overshadowing all the other plants and flowers.  It was only small when we bought it and we planted it next to our palm tree.   Jesus H Christ on a bike.  Put it this way, it broke a prong of our fork and then the fork actually twisted while Mr G tried to get the roots out.   Still, it's done now.  Outside it's roasting hot and it smells of barbecue.  I hadn't paid any attention to the weather forecast for this Bank Holiday weekend, if I had I could have bought some baps and finger rolls and we could have had a barbie too.  Maybe tomorrow?

Here's some pictures of the garden, still a work in progress, as it is every year...

Open for business

I love these two bushes, when they bloom they're beautiful

Three weeks ago, these were tiny, tiny seedlings when I bought them in Whittington!

Caitlin ambled into the room with her iPhone and headphones in.  She of the purple hair and black lipstick and Bring me the Horizon and general adolescent misery.  That Caitlin.

Caitlin:  ♬ Bet on it, bet on it, bet on it, bet on it...♬
Me: ...
Caitlin:  Oh my God.  High School Musical.  I am the shittest emo in the world, aren't I?
Me:  Pretty much, yes.
Caitlin:  I can't remember simple math formulas but I can recite this whole movie word for word...

It's all good ;-)   Next jobs - weeding near the decking area and by the bottom shed, staining the decking, shed, summerhouse, trellis... meh.  We need to empty the large wooden planter Mr G made a few years ago as our passion flower has snuffed it, and something has done that, whether it's ants or woodlice or what remains to be seen.  We've got a honeysuckle and a clematis to grow up the trellis instead.  And I have found a really nifty little trick online to grow loads and loads of tomatoes, so I want to see what Mr G thinks when he gets home, as he loves creating things in the garden.  He's currently made up another excuse to leave the house drive his car.  Boys and their toys...

If it has tyres/testicles - different this time around?

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll obviously know that this is true.  We need a new car.  We've needed a new car for a long time, a long long looooooooong time but instead, financially we only had the option of repairing our people carrier.  Hundreds can be begged, borrowed or saved.  Thousands?  Not so easy.  So - we finally find ourselves in a position to buy a new car.  I say new, I mean used, but new to us, and newer than our Estima, which is a 1993 import *shocked face*

We were due to travel to Deeside on Friday to see a Renault Grand Scenic.  Everything about it looked good on paper, the price, ridiculously low mileage, one owner.  The problem being, now that the DVLA have changed the car tax system, you can't buy a car with tax on it.  So we would have to change the tax at home, 'untax' and uninsure our car and get it off the road or scrapped, which means we would have to rely on other people to get us back there if we bought it, and possibly get our new car home.  Anyway.  Mr G had a little wobble just before leaving.  Two people who knew their stuff where cars were concerned had told him in the past about this specific issue these cars were notorious for.  So we did some further investigation online on that specific Renault.  I know if you took every bad review into account, you'd never buy anything or eat anything or go anywhere.  But when you see that multiple people are having the same problem with a car... you have to take it into account, so we decided not to go.  Very antsy, we looked locally online, and I found a nice car that was in our price bracket.  Only a few miles away.  I did the checks online and it looked promising, no major recalls or faults.  We went - it had been sold.  But as we'd driven in to the garage, Mr G had seen a silver grey Ford Mondeo, 57 plate.  As we went hunting for the car we liked, we passed it, and it was parked there, gleaming.  Only a couple of hundred pounds more than the car we were going to see.  Immaculate inside, outside, even under the bonnet was clean.  Huge boot, big enough to hide at least three bodies... hehe.  Fittings ready for our trailer (yay camping!).  I could see Mr G was interested in it, and I have to say, I was too, even though I'll only be a passenger.  It was mint, obviously looked after. It'll think so after a week with my children and a packed lunch when we're off to the rugby... The garage owner asked what we were doing with our car, to which we told him we were scrapping it.  It was a shame, it was a runner, potentially not long distance, but the sum of its parts was worth more than the whole.  The owner said he would give us the extended warranty (which cost £200 and we would have taken up anyway) in return for our car.  So that saved us the hassle of scrapping it.  He said we could wait for him to put a 12 month MOT on it, or wait until it was up in September and he'd do it then, so we have had a 'longer' MOT as well. 

We get home and we find that the insurance for the new car is over half the price that Mr G is paying for our Toyota.  Not just any insurance, but premium insurance with top notch breakdown cover and legal cover is over half the price that we're already paying.  And we pay for separate breakdown cover.  The car tax is £50 cheaper for the new car.  So, over the course of a year, we're £500 better off already.  And we found our insurance through CompareTheMarket who currently are giving away Meerkat Movies and a meerkat toy.  Win, win, bloody win, in my book. 

We picked our new car up yesterday and Mr G is doing everything within his power to be out driving in it.  It's sad to see our Estima go, because it's done well for us, camping trips, two holidays to Devon, numerous visits to Lancashire, lots of trips to Wrexham to watch Crusaders.  But the peace of mind we have now is worth the seats that we've lost.  My best friend is getting married in Norfolk in September, and there is no way on this planet that we could have risked travelling all that way in the Estima.  It's like a huge weight has been lifted from Mr G's shoulders, which is wonderful to see.  It's about time things went ok for him.  His health is improving all the time, this latest operation looks to have finally done the trick.  For the first time in many years we're looking forward to the summer months without the shadow of ill-health hanging over us.  Happy, happy days :-)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Another Fab Weekend

Despite the weather warnings, nothing really came of it apart from some drizzle, so on Saturday morning we made our way to Stuart Reardon's testimonial match in Queensway, Wrexham.  It was a nice day, and we parked up, paid our admission and stopped at the merchandise stall.  Three ladies manned the stall.  One says to me.

"Look!  Bargain.  Mug, keyring and pen.  £2 for all three!"

Ooooh, I think.  Yes please.  The mug states 'Have a brew with Stu."  Adorned with pictures of him topless.  Yes please, I think, while wondering what happens to his shorts when hot liquid is in the mug.  Or, if I turned the pen upside down... I digress...

"Wouldn't you like to have a brew with Stu?" she asked me.

"Would I!  I'd have more than a brew with him." I replied.  And then I think... shite.  "Oh my God, none of you are married to him, are you?"

"Yes, her." said the lady I'd been speaking to, and there turned around a slight, slim and very beautiful young woman.  Naturally.  Mr G pointed out that he couldn't take me anywhere.  I apologised profusely and she laughed and said it was ok.  So, that's twice now I have managed to embarrass myself in front of the players' family members by being a lecherous old trollop.  I must now learn my lesson, and stop doing this.  I won't, by the way... they always come in threes.

As we approached the steps to our seats, there he was, stood in front of us, like a God... ok, ok, I'll stop.  Caitlin started giggling and told me to go and ask if I could have a selfie.  I cringed and walked to my seat, while she went and asked him for a selfie.  The cow.   Mr G bought me his calendar, which could fall under the remit of 'artistic' hehehehe.  It was really fun watching the match, the players were obviously enjoying themselves - with no pressure on them, it was nice to see them smiling.  After taking a hammering in the first half, West Bowling nicked Stu and some of the Crusaders, and even the match officials were joining in, kicking the ball back into play.  Even the manager Muzza played, fair play to him, he was having a real go, and looked knackered after.  Mr G told him that Wigan had been on the phone to see if he could get up to Newcastle for the Magic Weekend, to which Muzza replied that he'd be watching that one from the couch.

A few words for the crowd after the match

No sooner as we'd arrived home, picked up Dan from his Halls on the way, stuck a couple of pizzas in the oven, and we had to start getting ready for our fancy dress disco.  Two hours and counting.  And this was the finished effect.

Young Kenny and Kenneth du Beke

My outfit was finished off with a checked lumberjack style shirt borrowed from my friend Denise.  I can't believe I had to wear a City shirt.  But I'm pleased to say that Mr G won first prize in the fancy dress!  Well deserved too, he looked absolutely brilliant.  My costume was a bit off-beat, if you weren't a Phoenix Nights fan, you wouldn't know who I was.  Benidorm is a more popular programme.  Still - it was nice to go out one night and not worry about my hair, my make up, whether my bum looked big in what I was wearing (answer - yes).  It was a brilliant night, hopefully raised money for a good cause, and I was so proud of my husband who looked spot on.  I bet we looked a sight on the dancefloor :-)

On the Sunday my little nieces were in the Carnival Crowning ceremony, as they were Rosebud Queen and attendant, and they both looked absolutely beautiful (it's the genes).  The actual Carnival is this Saturday, so I hope this lovely weather holds for them.  The children have just sprung it on me that it's half term and they're off school next week.  This cannot be right, didn't they just go back to school?  Dan has one more exam left and he'll be moving back home for the summer at the start of June.  So that's my food bill going up considerably because can that boy man eat!   I have to sort his bedroom out which has become the official home of my ironing pile(s), the camp bed, and all manner of unhomed junk.  Le joys... Still, it means Summer is upon us, barbecues, socialising with good friends, camping, sunshine, days out, love it!

Friday, 20 May 2016

A Mixed Bag

We had a great night last Saturday, although everyone was disjointed between the shed and the house, and guess where I spent most of the night?  Yes.  You will always find her in the kitchen at parties... All the food went, no waste - which I like to see.  I woke up to a destroyed kitchen as usual, it took me two hours to clean it up *sad face*.  But, for a wonder, I had no hangover.  Which was nice.  And rare.  Apparently about three pints of Pimms with Jager Bomb chasers suits me.  Who knew?  Took me until 40 to find that one out?  You live and learn...

Looking forward to this weekend now, and we potentially have a really busy Saturday ahead of us.
Firstly, it's Stuart Reardon's testimonial match in Queensway, Wrexham tomorrow.  He is a little bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. He's very pleasant to look at, and I'm not usually that shallow, to be honest.  I am the woman whose other celeb crushes include Johnny Vegas and Michael van Gerwen, after all?

Ooooh 'ello...

That's an all day event with young kids from the local area playing before Cru take on his old amateur team West Bowling, beer festival (!) and food.  He's donating 15% of the gate to the Supporters Trust, fair play.  I hope he has a good turnout.   The reason I say 'potentially' a busy weekend, is that the weather is supposed to be awful.  Mr G read somewhere that the winds were going to be 50 mph, and it's promising rain all day.  Not only do I not like the thought of him driving miles with our children in that weather, but it could even be postponed.  I'm going to have to keep an eye on Twitter in case there's a last minute cancellation.  Lesson learned there, after the start of the season!

No sooner than we'll get home, we have to almost immediately get ready for a fancy dress disco and hog roast (nom) at the Yacht Club in Beaumaris in aid of my daughter's old Brownie troop.  The theme this time was pop stars, tv stars or film stars.  Mr G's choice was very inspired.  He's going as Kenneth du Beke, the camp hairdresser from 'Benidorm', and me...? I am going as Young Kenny from 'Phoenix Nights'.  You remember, he of the tiger face paint?  I have to wear a Manchester City shirt!  (Which I am going to ceremonially burn in the firepit on Sunday morning #GGMU #MUFC).  Mr G had a trial run tonight, without the bronzer and eyeliner though, and he looks fab.  Photographs will be posted on Sunday morning ;-)

Then on the Sunday, my little nieces are Queen and attendant in the Carnival Crowning ceremony and my daughter is taking part in the majorettes for the third year.  So, all in all, it has the potential to be a busy but fun weekend again :-)

Mr G has had a relatively quiet, gobshite-free week.  Except for this one.

Me:  What do you want as a side with your burger tonight?
Mr G:  Hmmmm.  Have we got any of those wedges that we had Saturday night?
Me:  No.
Mr G: What about some prickly fries?
Me:  Pardon?
Mr G:  Shut up.  They're not called that...
Me: ...
Mr G:  What do I mean.  Those chips that are like... *makes spiral shapes in the air*
Me:  Curly fries?

Tee hee...

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Recipe - No Bake Oreo Cheesecake and Eurovision/40th Birthday night

Well, as I type this, the pork is cooked and sliced.  There's an Oreo Cheesecake chilling in the fridge, a chocolate cake made and a Sticky Toffee Pudding and toffee sauce made.  Stuffing is made and apple sauce decanted.  Bowl of couscous made.  Spicy potato wedges and hot and spicy onion rings ready to be put in when people arrive.  Nibbles and nuts to snack on.  Fruit is sliced ready for Pimms o'clock.  Beer is chilling.  D made homemade potato salad and coleslaw and H is bringing a salad.  All I need to do is to slice the baps ready, put some butter in a little dish...  print out score sheets for my Eurovision guests (DON'T judge me...)  Then it's just a case of making myself beautiful.  So, if anyone has a time machine to transport me back to 1992/3, that would be great, thanks...?  Lol.  

Oreo Cheesecake

I made this loosely based on Iced Jems fab Creme Egg cheesecake.  Because it's not a chocolate based mixture which is what I tend to make all my no-bake cheesecakes with, I like her combination of cream, sour cream, cheese and icing sugar.  I haven't used the exact quantities that she did, as I was only making a small-ish cheesecake.  

300g Original Oreo Biscuits (leave the cream inside)
90g butter, melted

284 ml carton Elmlea Double Cream
360g (2 smaller tubs) Philadelphia full fat cream cheese
300 ml carton Soured Cream
200g Icing sugar
3 packs of Cadbury's Mini Oreo Eggs, carefully halved along the 'seam'
2 bags of Mini Oreo biscuits

My (half) able assistant Adam helped me in the kitchen, as best he could with one arm in plaster!  

Blitz the large Oreos in a food processor, and when they're like breadcrumbs, pour in the butter and blast again.  Press this base into a greased and lined tin.

Whisk the cream in a jug.  In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese, sour cream and icing sugar until combined.  Fold in the cream.

Gently stir in about 2/3 of the halved mini eggs.  Spoon the mixture onto the cheesecake base.

Then decorate the top of the cheesecake with the remaining halved eggs and mini oreo cookies.  Voila!  So simple, took us about half an hour from start to refrigeration.

Adam then decided he'd like to make a cake to go with their ice cream for dessert.  The children aren't so keen on cheesecake, but they always seem to home in on it and waste it.  And I'm sure you'll agree, that above cheesecake is too good to be binned!  He said he wanted to make a sponge with cream in the middle.  No jam, as he's not a fan.  And could he put Oreos on top, but no cream... it didn't sound very appetising to be honest.  And nothing that would go with ice cream, anyway.  So we had a think about it and decided that (slightly warmed) chocolate cake would be nice with ice cream.  And then I realised that if we sandwiched the cakes with vanilla cream rather than chocolate, it would look like a giant Oreo!  As he didn't want to put anything on top, he asked if he could crush up some of the remaining mini Oreos and scatter them over the vanilla cream centre before topping with the final layer.  I thought that would be a fantastic idea.  I'm looking forward to a small slice later.   I used the Mary Berry chocolate cake from BBC Food (click here) - so simple, everything all in one mixing bowl, less washing up.  

Adam's Oreo Cake

Looks pretty decent, doesn't it?  Fair play to him.  Looks like he many have inherited his mum's love of baking.

The sticky toffee pudding is the standard recipe, I'm sure it's posted here somewhere on the blog.  I wasn't going to make one but it's one of my trademark puddings and someone would be disappointed if I hadn't made it.

I know it looks flat... but it's not.

It's an absolutely glorious day here today, there isn't a cloud in the sky.  Slightly breezy, but hey, considering it was hailstoning two weeks ago, I can hardly complain.  Really looking forward to tonight now :-)  The garden looks half decent, the shed pub is looking spot on, complete now with another bargain we had last weekend that I forgot to report.  We'd bought a dart board from Aldi, heavily reduced.  But Mr G didn't trust me not to damage the walls around the board, so he said he would make a case, or buy one.  Well, to quote Mr G... HOW MUCH!  How bloody much!  So, when we were in Wrexham last Saturday, there's a massive local hospice charity shop there, which has always been closed when we're there on a Sunday.  We ambled around, and when we got to the windows, we saw a Phil Taylor Dart board and case.  The only thing missing were the darts, which we already had.  Mr G went out to see how much it was, a tenner!  They retail at between £30 and £40, so we had a real bargain, and gave to a worthy cause at the same time.  That's been put up, and after I had a dart bounce out of the board into the vinyl flooring and Mr G shouted at me :-(  I bought a long black runner type rug to put on the floor and act as an unofficial 'oche'.  If he shouts at me again, I'll make sure the next one goes in his head.  Just call me Michelle van Grundy... ♬ White Stripes - Seven Nation Army ♬

Everyone is due around 7.30 pm, so I may tootle off for a quick game of darts :-)

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

What the... what??

We won't let a little thing like a birthday get in the way of the crap that tumbles from the mouths of my family.  Me included...

Me:  Ryan, do you want your toast cutting?
Ryan:  Yes please.
Me:  How?  Squares or triangles?
Ryan:  Triangles please.
Me:  There you go.
Ryan:  *walks away*  I love Illuminati toast...

Er... what?

Adam:  Dad, can you wash my scarf?  It's in my school bag and it's got pencil crumbs on it...
Mr G:  What are pencil crumbs??
Adam:  The bits that come when you sharpen a pencil?

Watching an episode of Ninjago, where one character threw his brother into a portal.
Adam:  That's not nice, is it?   Throwing your brother into a portal?
Me:  Well, depends which brother you mean, doesn't it?
Adam:  *pauses*  If you threw Dave (my brother) into a portal, would his head get stuck?

Adam trying to grasp the concept of why I had so much cash and gifts on my birthday.  I tried in vain to explain a 'special' birthday... and got a bit exasperated.
Adam:  So, is ten a special birthday?
Me:  They're all special, Adam, but some are traditionally more special than others.  Eighteen, twenty one, forty...
Adam:  So you're saying my birthday isn't special.
Me:  Adam, look.  The first time you're going to see anything like this, is when you're eighteen.
Adam:  Hmmmmph. Great.  So I'm going to get a cat and a candle... can't wait...

Relaxing in Ye Olde Boote Inn last Friday evening, totally chilled, really nice atmosphere...
Me:  Really nice, this.  
Mr G:  Relaxing.  No rowdiness at all.
Me: *jokingly*  We're amongst a better class of people, darling.
Mr G:  Yes.  The English...

Bloody cheek...

Looking at the birthday bunting strung up at the window, he says...
Mr G:  You can make 'Hell Mice' out of your name...

Telling Mr G where to put a loose carrier bag...
Me:  Put it on top of the helicopter... (washing machine...!)

Mr G stumbling in the dark next to our bed.
Mr G:  Bloody hell, I nearly fell over your lawnmower then!  (Hairdryer...)

Mr G assembling some very tacky fluttering garden ornaments.  They're crap, but the birds are decimating our baskets to take the matting for their nests, and they're a good deterrent.
Mr G:  Oooooooh it's a dandelion this time, not a butterfly.
Me:  It's a what?
Mr G: A dragonfly.
Me:  You said dandelion.
Mr G:  No I didn't, you're listening things.

Again... what?  :-)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Spoiled Rotten...

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness of all my family and friends, for their cards, good wishes and amazing gifts that I've received today.  The day started off when Mr G woke me up before five, wished me a Happy Birthday and then told me that his 'mouth was as dry as Ghandi's flip flop'... (?) so I offered to go get him a drink.  He followed me down, so it looked like we were awake.  He and the children had decorated the room last night when I'd gone up to bed early.

When the children finally woke up I opened my cards and gifts that I'd amassed already.  I had money and one of my favourite perfumes from them.  When I came down from my shower, I opened the blinds in the hallway to see that my Mum and charming cousin (Netty!) had postered my house.  My car.  Oh, and every lamppost and bus stop from here back down to their street?   

Ding Dong!  The Witch is... 40?

When the children were off to school, I needed to go into town but Mr G was trying to head me off at the pass... and a little later, two massive - and I mean massive - bouquets of flowers were delivered.  One from him and the children, and the other from my sister in law and brother in law.  Mr G looked absolutely shocked at the size of them.  Not as shocked as he was later when he realised we had literally nowhere to put them!

Flowers from my sister in law

Flowers from Mr G

I had a lovely card in the post from my lovely friend Lisa and her crew.  Then Mum and Dad and my brother came up with my gifts, I had money and a lovely gift hamper full of all manner of stuff from them, chocolates, candles, a scarf, a new purse, make up, nail varnish... it was crammed full.  And they had bought me a birthday cake :-)

Birthday cake

Hamper of goodies

Then my poster-bombing cousin Netty came up laden with lovely goodies for me, including Prosecco, Yankee candles and a really thoughtful gift of a jar that she had 'blinged' up and filled with all the sweets that she remembered that I liked from years back when we worked in my Mum's shop.  Choc nibbles!  Which apparently, nearly didn't make it into the jar, and chocolate raisins, which is a story for another day.  Rhiannon... I had a lovely charm bracelet with a 40 on it from my lovely little nieces too.

Then my friend Denise and Beth came up and I had more money and a smashing blingy necklace from Beth, who every birthday without fail manages to get me something amazing in the costume jewellery department, because she knows I have no time for real stuff (I know, right?  I'm a cheap date, what can I say).

Mr G picked Dan up from his halls, and Dan had bought me a new Maneki Neko for my collection.  Mr G set about putting my bouquets into vases...


No end to this man's talents

A quick tidy up and shoving the children in the shower and then it was time to go out for a family meal, my lot, my parents and my brother.  We went up to the Four Crosses and I had cod, chips and mushy peas (I know, I know, but I had been adventurous last weekend...).  Came home to find my friend H had delivered me a beautiful orchid and card while I was out.

I had so many wonderful cards and gifts, that I don't even know where to begin listing them all.  Here's a picture of my haul...

So, a huge thank you to all my lovely friends and family for their kindness, generosity and love shown to me.  On Saturday, we'll celebrate in true Frazzled Shell fashion with *drum roll* - Eurovision on Saturday!  Score cards, mucho alcohol, Mr G's hot roast pork, stuffing and apple sauce rolls and I'm making an Oreo Cheesecake (oooooooh!).  How dreadfully civilised my 40th celebrations have been/will be.

Yeah, ask me about that on Sunday morning, m'kay? ;-)

Birthday Weekend Away - Part Five

I'd booked us into 'THE Chinese Buffet' in Wrexham for 3.30, and after eating our breakfast before 8 am that morning, I was ready to chew my arm off.  I'd never eaten at one of these chain type places before, when I've had a Chinese Buffet, it's always been in a little independent restaurant.

We were given the walk around and shown where everything was.  There was such a vast array of food, and only a percentage of what is available in the evenings.  I tried Char Sui Pork, Kung Po Chicken, Egg Fried Rice, Mixed Veg Rice, and what I now perceive to be 'the future' - Chicken Toast.  Chicken.  Toast.  That was my 'garlic bread' moment there.  It shouldn't work, but it did.  Then, saying that, prawn toast shouldn't really work, should it?  I then tried some Mongolian Chicken, and Shanghai Beef.  

There was also an impressive range of desserts.  Mr G had spotted some people walking around with ice cream cones, so that's what he made himself.  I went for the chocolate cake with cream.

After eating we slowly ambled back to the train station to our car, and headed back to the hotel for a shower and to get ready.  We went to The White Lion, only intending to stay for one.  We sat in the beer garden and the moment we plonked our bums down on the benches, the first drop of rain hit our heads. 

We went back inside to the little bar and ended up spending the night drinking with some really lovely and very amusing locals, we were made to feel very welcome.  I was on a local Offa's Pride beer all night. Within minutes of sitting down, the heavens opened and we were treated to a thunder and lightning storm.

The next morning, we packed our bits and bobs and went to have our breakfast.  We noticed there was a little car boot sale setting up in the car park of the Castle, so we asked Debbie if it was ok to leave our car parked up while we had a look around.  Mr G found two Bell's Whisky bells for his pub, a little miner's lamp, and I had some tomato plants, some of which the varieties I'd never seen before.  We had another walk around the Castle grounds, visited the bookshop and gift shop.

Daniel O'Donnell

The picture of Mr G above really made me giggle.  It looks like he's missing a sheepdog, and about to start breaking into a song a la Daniel O'Donnell...

Mr G...

After we'd finished in Whittington, we made for Wrexham... and encountered the biggest car boot sale on the way in a place called Halton, that we'd ever seen in our lives.  We spent about an hour and a half there, and we had to leave in order to get to The Racecourse for 1.15 pm.  Mr G found so many shed pub bits, and he was muttering 'Stop me buying things' intermittently.

When we arrived at The Racecourse, we were shown up to the suite where we were having our food. 

They even lay on eye candy for me... #reardon #testimonial #hintsatmrg

Lovely Sunday Lunch

Anthony Murray giving a pre-match speech

We were almost instantly served our roast beef dinner.  The roast beef was so thick and was cooked perfectly.  The Manager 'Muzza' came in to give a pre-match speech, he seemed really, really lovely.  Then Ryan, the new general Manager came in with a surprise that he had helped Mr G with, he'd taken a birthday card to the dressing room just before kick off and got all the team and staff to sign it for me!  I was speechless and completely made up!

My card signed by the Crusaders :-)

Soon it was time to go down to our seats, and - there was almost a different atmosphere about the place.  Whether it was that the sun was shining, I don't know, but there was an air of confidence, in not only the team, but the fans too.  We were treated to a fantastic game of rugby, Cru were brilliant.  The fans were noisy, and I was jumping up and down and screaming.  The icing on the cake was the final score - the first home league win of the season - 40 - 18.  They even scored 40 points for me, how amazing ;-)

Rapturous standing ovation for the lads

Full time Cru - 40 Oxford - 18

I can't put into words how amazing this weekend was, from the moment we left the house on Friday until we got home on Sunday evening.  There will always be a low point of any trip away, some minor detail or blemish or something.  But Mr G and I were just constantly looking at each other saying 'Well, all we need is that this meal be nice' and 'All we need now is for a home win...'.  Just waiting for something to complain about.  Nada.  Absolutely everything, the weather (24 degrees on Sunday!), the people we met, the accommodation, the beers, the food, the bits we found at the car boot sales, the rugby, the surprises - everything not only met, but exceeded our expectations.  I want life to be like that, always.

So I would like to say a huge thank you to Mary and Alexander, who were the catalyst behind this amazing weekend with their wonderful and generous gift.  You couldn't have chosen a more perfect place for us.  You're the best friend ever.  Love you lots.  Thank you to Mum and Dad for looking after the minions this weekend, without you, we wouldn't have been able to have such quality 'us' time together.  Thank you to Ryan and the Crusaders lads for making my day.  And last but by no means least, thank you to my wonderful amazing husband, the love of my life and my soulmate, for sharing this weekend with me, and indulging me completely in everything that I wanted to do.  I hope you had as much fun as I did, even if you did have to spend it with one of the 'marauding Welsh'... (that's a story for the next post, readers... lol).

Birthday Weekend Away - Part Four

We arrived in Wrexham and parked in the station car park, and walked down to St Mary's Cathedral Church.  I hadn't realised that this was the church that we walked past most Sundays when we go to watch Cru.  We went in, but there was a lot of kerfuffle going on at the front, women decorating seats with flowers and ribbons, so we thought that maybe there was a wedding imminent.  We had a brief look around and then we went on our way.  I didn't take any photos inside here.

St Mary's Church

We then walked down the main street and hit Primarni, which it has to be said is a living nightmare on a Saturday - anywhere in the UK.  Mr G wanted to find a neon coloured vest for a fancy dress do in two weeks time.  When you want plain white/grey/black/navy vests for a man you won't find anything but pink/green/orange/yellow coloured ones.  This year apparently neon isn't in.  Ho hum.  It was boiling hot and the queues were snaking into the store.  We did a bit more shopping and then went down to St Giles Church, the one I had really been looking forward to.

The approach to St Giles Church

St Giles was also buzzing full of busy looking women.  After ascertaining that we could take photographs inside we walked around. 

The ceiling was full of Angels, with one red devil

"Christ teaching by the lakeside" 1903

"St David and The Royal Welsh Fusiliers" 1989

St Giles truly was a beautiful church - albeit not as peaceful as I'd expected.  Out of the three though, my favourite was All Saints in Gresford.  That was so tranquil and beautiful, that had the wow factor from the moment I walked in the door.  The moment we parked up and stopped the car, the bells starting ringing to signal 10 o'clock, right on cue.

Elihu Yale's tomb

Elihu Yale's tomb

This concluded my 'Church geek' 'Seven Wonders' part of my birthday weekend.  Wrexham Steeple, Llangollen Bridge, Gresford Bells and St Winefride's Well - done :-)