Boys, birthdays, bikes, bunting, Boughton and bowling

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin” (Listen with Mother circa 1956), well, to be more specific ‘I’ll continue where I left off’ (circa 2016)

The first three weeks of October were busy in a fun way as we had planned a family holiday in Boughton, Nottinghamshire for the half term holiday. As James and David had turned 30 on the 19th October we all agreed to make it a jolly birthday week! Well, any excuse!!

Just before this we had seen our friends Pete and Annie and found out that their son Robin was getting married in November so I went into wedding bunting mode, made it and I sent it off before we went away. Jo and Robin loved the bunting and I hope it made their wedding day a bit jollier and blingier!

Many congratulations and we wish Robin and Jo a long and happy married life together.

For some reason, probably charitable, James found himself volunteered to dress up in a bear suit for St Wilfrid’s (which is where he works). He insisted that he emerged from the furry carapace suited and booted and as suave as James Bond! You can judge for yourself.

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David arrived in Barton a couple of days before the holiday week and was able to visit his Grandma before she went to Harrogate and we all went off to Boughton, for our grand holiday. We booked this lovely house through Air BnB and it really was plenty big enough to accommodate us all.

Not only was the property lovely but the weather was mild and sunny, so we all enjoyed the lovely countryside and everyone could play outside.

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David getting into the holiday mood when he visited James in Hastings – a sort of pre-holiday training!

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We bought a bike from Renee and Jim that Chris is in the process of renovating for James as his bike was stolen. As you can see, Chris always uses the right tools for the job – in this case it is the garden picnic bench!

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Birthday bowling – Grandad got a strike on his one and only go and Daisy scored the highest points and it was her first time bowling!

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Whoopee! Birthday tea complete with party rings, jelly, birthday cake, candles, hats and party bags!! The wine was optional!

Hmmm, who knew that the grandchildren would like to play Monopoly! Of course Matthew is channeling Uncle David style with his stripped down apparel! Lots of games were provided in the house and everyone enjoyed Pigs in Pants and Rapidough as well as the Swingball outside in the garden.

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Tuesday was swimming day but due to only having one car on that day as Hannah had to return to Prospect House for the fuel delivery for the Bio-Mass Boiler, Daisy and I stayed at Boughton and did some cooking and decorating cakes. The rest of the family set off for the Leisure Centre – the swimming pool was a great success with flumes, hot tubs and diving. All the cakes were greatly appreciated on their return.

Wednesday was a great day out at Wollaton House near Nottingham itself. It had a great park, a large and exciting children’s play area and a museum and house tours. Of course we all had to eat so we enjoyed a late lunch here, too. The children all completed their museum quizzes and got a small gift – great!

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Daisy, the cheeky, wearing my specs!

Everyday the Swingball was in use with a variety of people – it was really popular and better still, no one was injured! Shoes off in the house – after one particularly wet walk it took some ingenuity to dry off the shoes but it was achieved. Finally, it has to asked why there was an electric lead threaded through the letterbox – well, the battery of the Honda decided to go flat so Thursday was a quiet day at home playing games, writing diaries and reading. I think we all needed it by then.At this point I must really thank our neighbour in Barton as we had all packed our gear and food into the Grampsmobile, everyone was belted up, hooray we are ready to go! Well, not quite as the battery had died. So, H to the rescue with his Defender and a set of jump leads – so off we went but this flatness was to be repeated later in the holiday – boo! The flat battery gave us all an excuse to do very little so a really good day spent chillin’!

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Saturday – and so home! Why the disappointed faces, then, David and Stephanie? Well we left Boughton at about 10.00 and decided we would have a great end of holiday breakfast at the Haybarn nearby but no! It was closed for holidays!! How ironic. Never mind we could make it to The Old Tile Works in Barton and have a scrummy breakfast there – we pulled in and parked at about  11.30 sauntered in and requested breakfast – ‘I’m sorry but we stop serving breakfast at 11.30’. We looked at our watches – 11.32! We looked appealing but all to no avail – how disappointing! So, these are our disappointed faces!!

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We saw my Mother when we returned from Boughton – since then I am sorry to say, she has had a bad fall in the street near her home and has her right leg in plaster as she fractured her knee and broke her ankle! The other ankle is strapped as it has a hairline fracture. Poor Mummy – she is home though and dealing with everything in her usual indomitable way. We all wish you well, Mummy. BIG thanks to Chris, who as usual, is being his calm and capable and compassionate self x

 

October – on being productive

October rolled around and it was glorious; the sun shone, the autumn trees shook out their gold, auburn and burnished tresses and we were in celebratory mood but first ….

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– a big congratulations to Renee and Jim who climbed over the O2 building! Apparently Renee thought it was a good way to celebrate Jim’s 70th birthday!

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Jim – yes, that’s him in the photo above, created this beautiful number plaque for the front of our house. This was a really appropriate gift as we were about to get some serious lumberjacking done in our back garden, but more of that later.

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Beautiful roast vegetables and soup from our harvest of squash and Crab Apple jelly from our Crab Apple tree (year 2).

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Due to climate change or just the cycle of weather, October was a brilliant month for foraging – not that we had far to go to gather these beautiful, plump elderberries or the rosehips. As you can see I made 5 litres of elderberry vodka and I am still waiting to see if the rosehips really do turn into useful Rosehip Syrup! I’ll let you know on that one.

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The above photos were taken just days before the ‘lumberjacks’ arrived. As you can see, the garden was full of large Leylandii along the fence boundary and then six other evergreens of different genus in the centre of the garden as well as an enormous but very beautiful birch tree (the roots were starting to come out of the ground and had spread from one side of the lawn to the other). It was with a lot of soul searching that we finally decided that they would have to go. We got a great firm called North Lincolnshire Tree Services to undertake the job …

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OMG! These vehicles thundered up our small lane on the 4th October. Chippers, shredders and all kinds of ‘mean, nasty, implements’ – and this was just the start.

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Even more equipment arrived in our back garden in a matter of moments and very soon trees were being felled, branches lopped and brush chipped and shredded … very soon our garden looked like this …

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One fence revealed and it was only just lunchtime!

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Oh yes, that is a man, with a chainsaw, at the top of the birch tree. I would just like to say that my husband (the eternal boyscout and optimist had suggested that “yes, I can do that. It will save us money!”) How glad I am that we paid the money to get this done, quickly, professionally and safely and with one husband still intact.

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The final job was to drill out the stumps – more scary and loud machinery but all done and dusted in record time. Two days, nine Leylandii, six evergreens, one huge birch tree all removed, cut into lengths and all the detritus removed, all stumps drilled out and three huge bags of chippings left for us to use at the allotment! Well worth the money and for the lack of stress!

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Piles of logs around the garden. What to do with them now?

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… obviously the solution is to extend the woodshed. We used the last of the pallets in the garden to add to our original pallet woodstore from last year. Now to cut up and store the logs that came from the felled trees.

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Hurray! One ten ton pneumatic log splitter being constructed by Mr Fixit!

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It works! Chris was so desperate to use it that despite the rain he was out in the garden trying it out – in fact he was so excited that he put on Mathew’s hat!! Balances on his head like a ‘mattress on a bottle of wine’ according to the wonderful Mr Dylan Thomas! The log splitter works like dream – easy to use.

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See – even the grandchildren could use it!!

The weekend before, my Mum had bought us our Christmas present – a lorry load of logs for our woodburner. This lot, below, had to be wheelbarrowed into the garden by Chris and then stacked by me!

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All done and ready for the extension to be built on ready for the logs from our trees. The skeletal endpieces can be seen on the far right hand side of the woodstore already.

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Look who we found in the corner of our woodstore – Mr Toad.

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Lots of willing help from Matthew and Daisy with exhortations from me ‘not to get their school uniform dirty’ – oh well!

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Now, to tackle the Utility Room – first order your Ikea cabinets and then dismantle and re-locate old Ikea cabinets to Grandad’s Shed – to store MORE useful stuff!

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Easy peasy – assemble and then attach to the wall. All done and dusted in one day. Thanks Chris.

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To finish off a lovely Pulleymaid for the washing – it has already proved to be most useful and it keeps the drying in the utility room.

What a busy month and we’re not finished yet – wait for the birthday and holiday blog post, coming soon to a PC near you!!

‘Oh those summer days – had us a blast’

I realise that it has been almost three months since I updated you all on the many and various goings on at 9 Green Lane, so hang onto your hats as I whirl through the last twelve weeks …

 

We are delighted that David is now going out with Heather (welcome to the madhouse that is the Shortle-Bloomfield Family!) and what better way to celebrate than with some splendid home baking and even more fabulous decorating! Heather is a bit of a dab hand at the cookery stuff and together with Daisy and Madeleine created delicious ‘cake’ burgers whilst Matthew ably assisted in the making of a yummy loaf cake. Well done people! I am not sure what David did – the washing up perhaps?

Meanwhile the productivity of the allotment was being turned into Christmas fare. Our favourite Lakeland recipe for Rhubarb and Orange Marmalade led the charge with various alcohol based infusions following closely behind.

Whoopee! Loads of fun throughout the holidays – first with David and Heather, then with Uncle David, then with the Grandparents in Whitby, Dalby Forest, Wharram Percy and Sandsend.

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Treasure from the beach – to add to the ‘treasure’ collected by our brood and their friends over the past three decades; now where can I put these?

Catching up with chums – always great fun. We laughed such a lot and long may it continue. Here we are in Hull with Pete and Annie and of course bottom right a fitting tribute to a dear friend from the good old days at Lavender Hill School – How are you, Mr Nazar?

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Just in case anyone was bored, Grandad bought a swing set for the grandchildren and although it was used as a swing from time to time it has also been a space ship, part of a wigwam and circus bars – of course!

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More links with lovely friends – Chris and Rick became grandparents this year to the lovely James and here he is with his Daddy, Mael, who we have known since he was the same size as James. What a lucky little boy and what a lucky family. Congratulations.

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September! Start of the autumn term for the sproglets. Don’t they all look smart and ‘raring to go’? We are thrilled to tell you that they are all doing really well at school – Madeleine is now Form Captain, Matthew is in the Cross Country event and Daisy is – well, being Daisy, super smart as usual.

As we had such a great time in Whitby with the grandchildren during the school summer holiday Chris and I decided to return there for a long weekend. We did a bit of a tour by first visiting Flamborough Head with the historic chalk tower and then stopping for fish and chips in Filey before arriving in Whitby at a really beautiful air bnb place run by the lovely Marie Louise. We had a great time and will definitely return, hopefully soon.

Next it was time for Matthew to take a trip. He was off on school journey to Robin’s Wood Adventure Centre. A few nerves and a few tears were all part of the farewell but on his return (with all his stuff accounted for! Well done, Matthew), he was over the moon and had experienced lots of exciting and ‘dangerous’ activities – and survived to tell the tale! He has his achievement certificate proudly framed and hanging on his bedroom wall.

On the 30th September I hosted a MacMillan event but instead of a Coffee Morning I decided to make it a Cream Tea Afternoon. My new friend and neighbour Rosa, cooked some beautiful Devon Scones, a Victoria Sponge and a scrumptious Chocolate Cake. Ursula also a new friend and neighbour cooked Welsh Cakes and provided proper Welsh butter to go with them – we were really spoilt and not only ate our fill but had a jolly afternoon. We raised £150.00 in total (factoring in Gift Aid) and this was divided between MacMillan’s and Alzheimer’s Research UK (in memory of my Father who died in July this year). Thank you for all your support to my friends and neighbours who attended.

So, not much done in terms of house renovation but definitely a settling in to our new home, establishing new friendships, enjoying the countryside around us and loving our family.

Friends, Family and Finishing Things!

I seem to have become fixated on letter titles – the penultimate blog was based around Bs and this one – yes, you’ve guessed it around the letter F. In 2001 when we moved to Bexhill in East Sussex with our family we bought a house that could accommodate all the visitors from our time living in London and around – this did not happen as friends became embroiled in bringing up teenagers, making homes and careers. So imagine our surprise and delight to find that despite having moved to a place that none of our friends knew about previously we have had a very welcome stream of visitors, up here, next to the mighty Humber. The advent of friends arriving (and staying!) certainly put purpose into our activities and so lots of finishing off was at least started (if not entirely finished!!).

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Good start Chris but I feel sure that the shower needs a little something else! Look at that lovely tiling!

Great! This is at last looking like the en-suite we had planned – well at least the essential element is in place.

Hooray – a sink and unit, a shower and enclosure, a toilet and towel rail. Of course you can’t see the underfloor heating but it is there and ready to go – lucky visitors.

This really is a bit of finishing off – thanks to a lucky find at B&Q Chris was able to finish the bare walls above the tiling with pale grey wall cladding and then replace the extractor (unfortunately not yet linked to the electricity so yet another job to finish). On the aesthetic front though, I think you’d agree that everything is certainly coming together.

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To be sure these two were not part of the June, July or August visitors but they were among the very first and besides it is such a jolly photo that I had to include it. So, welcome, Renee and Jim, dear friends and allies in all things house building!

Just after my Dad had gone into Crosshills in June, for respite we were visited by the lovely Dan, Nic and delightful Marleigh as they had been to see Gramps during that morning. Notice how Dan easily fitted the chair his Mum had given to me to renovate (and no, you can’t have it back now, Dan). Marleigh was well at home and happily investigated the designated children’s bedroom in our house. What a lovely and loving family we have.

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Ah, Chris and Rick our first visitors in July (photo taken at their lovely son, Huw’s wedding in October last year but they are shy creatures and hard to snap in any circumstances). They were both on a kind of Elizabethan Processional around the country visiting relatives and friends around the Isles of Albion and so arrived on Tuesday 12th July. We were delighted that they would be the first guests to use our new guest room and en-suite and very fitting as they have been friends of Chris for over 40 years and with me for a mere 38! What a lovely evening we had. The following morning we all had to deal with the sad news of my Dad’s death earlier that morning. Chris and Rick we would both like to say a very big thank you for the love and tender support you offered us on that morning. Thank you.

 

Following very quickly on the heels of Chris and Rick were our friends from Spain, Lola and Ed with their friend Vickie and her son Felipe from Argentina. Chris felt it was a good idea not to cancel their visit planned for the Friday 15th July and as it turned out it was brilliant. Chris told them about my Dad’s death and they immediately offered to change plans but as we had just learnt from my Father’s sudden death it is always better to seize the moment and so we did. Friends are truly the family that we can choose and we were so blessed with the friends who lightened our lives that week.

 

By Monday 18th July we had more finishing schedules to meet. Madeleine had been busy designing and working on a Geography project for school so with Grandad’s help she was able to realise her plans and in the process learnt how to use a variety of tools! I did stop Chris from letting her use the chop saw!

Madeleine’s completed project to show the way climate change effects the sea levels. One book end shows a beach in 2016 and the other acting as a timeline shows the same beach in a 100 years time. Notice the sea level on the right hand one has come up much higher and the beach is now dirty and brown rather than golden. She also made some mock books with titles and authors to do with climate change – very nice and finished!

 

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Thank you to Peter for his thoughtful gift of flowers for both my Mother and for me on the death of my Father; these were especially thoughtful as it was also the first anniversary of Pat’s death. The flowers and the sentiments were greatly appreciated, Peter.

 

So, talk about finishing – at last it was the finish of the school term and on the first day of the holidays we went off to Baysgarth Park. Madeleine’s first year at Baysgarth School, Year 7, had been completed successfully as had Matthew’s Year 4 and he had made all his targets – well done, darling boy. Daisy was finishing pre-school and will be starting ‘big school’ in September.

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So? What a finish. The last of our visitors were the Saunders and Chris just could not resist this cheeky road sign to indicate their visit – just as well, since sightings of the lesser spotted (quite literally) Saunders’ is a rare event so I am sorry folks but no photos of our final visitors with whom we spent a really great weekend full of laughter and eventually aching ribs!

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So, my final entry goes to my Father,

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Funeral was held on 1st August 2016

July 2016 – In Memoriam

Two years ago on the 27th July 2014, Chris’s brother, David Shortle died. This was a sad time for the family. David had been severely crippled with arthritis for most of his adult life but despite this he determinedly managed to live independently until the last, with the love and devotion of his younger brother, Peter and his partner, Pat and the unflagging friendship and aid of his friend, Keith Moon.

David at Harper Road

The following year on the 19th July 2015 Peter’s partner Pat of almost 40 years died tragically in hospital.  Pat was a warm and generous person who loved her family very much and is still deeply missed.

Pat and Peter Christmas 1979 at Oberstein Road, Battersea. The first 'family' Christmas for us and a one year anniversary for us all - Chris and I one year going out and the first year of knowing Pat and Peter. My new family.
This is a lovely photograph of Pat and Peter Christmas 1979 at Oberstein Road, Battersea. The first ‘family’ Christmas for us and a one year anniversary for us all – Chris and I one year going out and the first year of knowing Pat and Peter. My new family.

July has been a month of tremendous loss in our families, so it was with great sadness that we added my Father’s death on the 13th July 2016. We miss him greatly.

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One of the last family events was to celebrate my Dad’s birthday on the 19th May 2016 when he reached 88 years old. We had a really wonderful afternoon, filled with love, laughter, cake, candles and cards. Daddy was always at his best in a social gathering, often recounting stories of his misspent youth or escapades in the RAF but always smiling and full of fun. He loved us all very much and he took great pleasure in spending time with his family and friends and it is so wonderful to look back on this occasion and see just how much he enjoyed it.

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Seven weeks before he died, Daddy went to Crosshills Care Home as part of a respite package and as with every place he went, he was soon cracking jokes and filling the place with smiles and laughter and was a popular member of that small community. In those last few weeks Pamela, his wife, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all visited and the photo above is a clear indication of the love and happiness that surrounded him. The family held a small but intimate funeral service for him on Monday 1st August 2016.

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Eric John Bloomfield 19.05.1928 to 13.07.2016

Dear Daddy, Gramps, Great Grandpapa, we miss you and we remember you with tears and smiles.

Bathrooms (bodging), Birthdays, Baking, B&Bs and Blooms

Apologies – it has been an age since I wrote anything for the blog. So, hopefully, this post will update all the action for the last two months. Hang on to your hats for a swift passage through these last few hectic weeks!

So, we’ll start “at the very beginning, a very good place to start ..” but in fact joining up with the last post where we left James and Mariery ensconced in their new home together in Hastings. Following this the final member of the Panamanian club returned to the UK and christened James and Mariery’s flat with its first visitor! Chris and I followed down to Winchelsea for a long weekend with Madeleine and Matthew – great larks, lots of laughs, sentimental walks, beach-combing and family bonding.

We all met up at The De La Warr Pavilion – everyone on time! We had lots of chats and catch up over delicious coffees, David and James caught up with some friends and a good time was had by all.

Battle Great Woods was a sentimental day out – long walks between the towering trees and through the bluebell carpets and into shaded woodland bedecked with Wood Anemones and Celandine. The grandchildren made stick shelters ably assisted by Grandad and swung dangerously and delightedly high on rope swings.

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Boys on the way back home after a lovely Bank Holiday weekend away.

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Girls on the way back home after a wonderful weekend away – everyone looks tired!

Back home the garden has been quietly breaking into bloom – so delicate and so beautiful.

However, we have also been doing some seeding and sprouting ourselves; here we have the courgettes ready for the allotment, the surprising walnut tree that I planted after a cheeky squirrel deposited it on our patio and even more surprising, an amazing avocado plant that I grew from the stone. I have never been able to grow one to this size before …

So, May continues and Madeleine had been revising ratios in Maths at school and decided to not only complete the ‘recipe ratio’ worksheet but also cook the cakes and explore just how much Maths was involved in cooking. Don’t you think the little gingerbread cupcakes are adorable? The cupcakes were also gingery, really delicious.

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As if it isn’t bad enough that your grandparents and Mum are teachers now your Uncle has to get in on the act. Both ‘boys’ enjoying a good story before Matthew goes off to school and Uncle David sweats it out in the gym (too much brain work not good for PTs!

We’ve done B for Battle Great Woods, B for baking, B for boys, B for books, B for blooms now it is B for buttering (and B for bread, of course). Daisy (the youngest granddaughter) is always keen to help, especially as it is Gramps’s birthday (see, another B).

Daisy is duly consulted about who should blow out the candles and she thinks it really should be Gramps who does the honours. One, two, three, blow …. not only extinguishing the candles but also blowing white chocolate flakes over the table! Great effort, Gramps! B for birthday and B for Mary Berry Very Chocolatey Cake.P1170433

Happy 88th Birthday, Daddy. Congratulations Mummy and Daddy on your 65th Wedding Anniversary. Looking good you two x

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Here are just some of the lovely things that go on in our garden in Barton upon Humber – fun things, relaxing things and growing things. P1170364

Just another thing that happens in our garden – Matthew and Grandad putting together the new garden bench – yup, another B.P1170360

Someone else has been busy building in our garden – behind the water butt and on top of the wood from the house renovation a pair of blackbirds have built a cosy nest.

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In the half term holidays at the start of June we had a few days away in Pevensey – we took down more stuff for Mariery and James (I am not sure where they are going to put it!) and we stayed in a really lovely B&B called The Limes – well worth a visit. Whilst we were down near Hastings we stayed with Barbara and celebrated her birthday along with lots of really lovely friends. Happy Birthday Barbara – more Bs.

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So we happily set sail into June with lots of birthdays (more Bs), first was Barbara’s on June 2nd, Suzanne’s on June 6th and then Madeleine’s on June 13th – due to her birthday falling not only on a school day but also a Monday the celebrations started on Friday 10th June (trying to outdo the Queen in terms of birthday events I think) with a sleepover and a Totoro cake commissioned by the Birthday Girl herself. The guests all decorated yet more cakes which can be seen in the tin – well done all you creative souls. This was followed by a sleepover with us and a visit to see Gramps at Crosshills ( a lovely photo to follow). On Monday morning before going to school a birthday croissant was an absolute must and finally we wrapped up the day with birthday tea with Grandma and the family – of course more cake was needed so Victoria Sponge a la Mary Berry was the crowning glory. Felt fairly baked out after that!Crosshills

June 12th 2016. Beautiful – the joy of families.

Well this is the B for Bathroom as in tiling the bathroom and also I am ashamed to confess my B for bodging – please note the judicious use of a toothbrush to hold the tiles in place. Chris was delighted – he has won at last and got me to use a bodge. I hang my head in shame! Psssst but it worked.

Chris had a really great idea about our friend, Heather Parry who has recently won an award as a promising young writer – Well done, Heather! To celebrate this Chris made a lovely Blue Plaque for her – tee hee, very naughty! Even funnier was the number of people that stopped to read it …

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In  between visiting us and dropping David off, Heather also attended a Hindu wedding before finally disappearing with our youngest son to sunny Edinburgh.

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B for boxes – after staying for a few days Heather and David took with them lots of frozen produce from the garden and the allotment so Chris being the inventive little person he is made them a cool box lined with wall insulation! B for garden bounty.

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On June 18th Matthew had his 9th birthday at Legoland so I made a picnic hamper filled with party goodies including these little cupcakes so that they could celebrate ‘al fresco’ in Windsor. More Bs – birthday buns!! He has had such fun this month as he not only turned 9 but he got his dojo at school for great reading and he has been looking after our neighbour, Ursula’s chickens and proudly bearing home the eggs they have laid. Well done Matthew.

Back to bathrooms – well, technically an en suite but it did not start with B! Chris has installed all the electrics and the grid for the underfloor heating – lucky visitors.

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I just thought I would end with this lovely photo of my Mum and Dad – we love you.

Panama to Hastings – the true and unexpurgated story!

Well, it hardly seems like any time at all since we were picking up James and Mariery from Terminal 2,  Heathrow (well, to be honest only Chris was doing this as I was holding the ‘family fort’ in Barton). So some five weeks later and another 610 mile round trip completed in 36 hours an average of 13.20 miles per hour (almost as fast as London Marathon Winner, Eliud Kipchoge!) Do we get a medal? I expect we deserve one. So, without further digression I shall begin the graphic story of Bodgett and Shifter or as we are known locally Wheels’R’Us.

Essential items to move

As my Mother is wont to remark, “You’ve got to have a list” and as you can see each person’s perspective on what should be taken as an essential item in the  first move proved to be quite variable. I have to add that Mariery’s list also contained ‘various yarns, multi-coloured’ and crochet hooks! Mine additionally had kitchen and toilet rolls!!!

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Hmmm, well our little garden pest may have been a tad testy but to be sure we did manage to squeeze in as much as was humanly possible into what is as yet, not designated as a pantechnicon of any type or variety, a 1999, Honda Civic Saloon affectionately named The Grampsmobile. Needless to say, being the ace packers that we are and also stupidly optimistic Chris and James managed to squeeze into every corner of the boot and lash onto the sagging roofbars a fair quantity of stuff. We were all mightily proud of ourselves and not a little bit smug when we contemplated our handiwork.

loading the car in Barton 2

Fortunately, my Dad, previous proud (and meticulous) owner of now re-named Grampsmobile was not on hand to witness the sacrilege meted out to his beloved and prized conveyance. Sorry Dad. As Chris’s drawing shows, quite graphically, the poor little Civic was fairly crushed beneath its weighty cargo – and none of us had even got in yet (with extra vital stuff). Gingerly, Chris embarked, fired up the trusty 4 cylinders and with very little resistance the ‘wagons rolled’ and the Oregon wagon train bumped up the unmade road that it is our privilege to live on.  In deference to the undercarriage of the trusty Civic the rest of us walked up to the end of the road before clambering in with bags of food, duvets, jackets and laptops – we all cheered as we crept onto the Barrow Road – we were off!

unloading at Pas and Jen's

First stop Hastings! Not bad time at all as we arrived at Pas and Jen’s home in less than five and a half hours – Leg 1 completed; James and Mariery’s friends (well, they were before we all arrived) had volunteered to let us drop off the first cargo at their home in Hastings. As anyone who has visited the beautiful seaside town of Hastings will know – it is not renowned for its verisimilitude to a tray, or in fact, to any other surface of general flatness and it is fair to say that Pas and Jen’s house has a fair degree of gradient as part of its charm. So on arriving with the overly-laden Grampsmobile we were confronted with what I can only describe as the foothills of the Himalayas – on looking around it was painfully obvious that there were no friendly Sherpas available and we could hardly rope in the bunch of musicians casually parked on their gear next door who watched with not a little amusement, our frantic and puffing exertions as we gradually unloaded the Civic. After a warming and welcome cuppa, we said our farewells to the youngsters and set off on Leg 2. Ashford here we come!

Chris’s brother Peter was pleased to see us and after a whole day of travelling we were even more delighted to see him. We spent a jolly evening being wined and dined (thanks, Pete) – homemade Chicken Chausseur (Indian style) and wine and whiskey to wash it down!

Dinner at Peter's

Of course we were all in reminiscence mode especially as Peter had recently purchased a copy of what Chris kindly described as a B movie (well this might have been a rather generous estimation alphabetically, on his part!) so, we settled down to watch ‘The cars that ate Paris’ – yup, I kid you not, there really is a film called ‘The cars that ate Paris’ ( I had to write it twice as it seems so unreal.) We of course did not show this to the trusty Grampsmobile parked outside as the unsettling dismantling of various automotives might have been too much to bear after the humiliation of being a pack mule! We all went to bed relatively early as Chris and I had another ‘delivery’ day on the Sunday and a rather tight schedule to complete if we were to get home at a reasonable hour plus it was fairly chilly in Ashford as Peter had no heating ….

The cold

Although this was a family visit it was also part of the Round Robin (why is it called that?) to collect household accoutrements that had been offered by people so Peter had donated a great microwave/convection oven to James and Mariery which was duly popped into the now empty boot of the Grampsmobile. Thanks Uncle Peter.

Beatles books and Microwave

 

……..  as well as a set of books (yes, just what we needed), then we set off for Elham in North Kent to see Renee and Jim and to collect more free things that had already found their way to Jim’s ‘shed’ via Mitcham, Carshalton and Sutton. Thanks to Rita for sofa and sundries and Simon for the bookcase and potentially other redundant homewares. The car and boot were not to remain unsullied for too long ….

loading at Elham

Oh no! Oh yes! Not only did we have to perch a kindly donated sofa bed on the roof rack but also another kind donation of a bookcase – fortunately we had purchased some fluorescent orange ratchet straps from Lidl and so these were used to great effect to lash down the re-cycled, secondhand furnishings; Baden-Powell would have been delighted. Following which we had a great brunch with Renee and Jim, Jen, Andy and Jossie before we loaded up with more useful stuff that Renee had found: curtains, cushions, throws and two plants(???) and off we set on Leg 3 of what we liked to call ‘Suitcase and Ladders’ – a game the whole family can play!

Leg 3 did not involve going straight to Hastings, do not pass go, do not collect £200.00 (oops, not only mixed my metaphors but also my games!). To recap, James and Mariery were at the time at which we were leaving Elham meeting the landlord/lady of the flat they were about to move into, which is unfurnished, and which required a bed and fridge! I had already reserved a new mattress from The Original Factory Shop in Bexhill and I had also found a small fridge freezer for sale in Bexhill on Gumtree. All Chris and I had to do was to set off to purchase these items and pack them into the long-suffering Grampsmobile – job done, then! First stop – The Factory Shop.

Loading the matress and duvet

Hmmm, not quite so much of a bargain as I had anticipated as they could only take one of my vouchers for the mattress and duvet (do not worry gentle reader, I will be writing to Head Office and requesting some sort of recompense). Outside we parked in the loading only bay (well, we were only loading after all) and packed in these items before heading to the Co-op for a few items of shopping for Mariery and James. I must admit it was starting to get a bit of a tight squeeze at this point and we still had the fridge freezer to get into the boot of the car! Oh well, never say never!

 

James had arranged with the Gumtree seller (no, he was not selling gum trees) that ‘his parents’ would collect the fridge/freezer at about 4pm – so, all to the good we set off from the centre of Bexhill at about 3.55pm and arrived almost to the minute. Now that is what I call planning! The seller was most helpful and he wheeled the fridge out of his garage on a trolley and even helped us put it in the back of the car – no problem! We-eeeell, sort of no problem! The fridge/freezer went in easily as long as we pushed Chris’s seat forward ….. but what were we going to do with all the stuff we had taken out in order to get the aforementioned white good in?

 

packing the freezer 1

packing the freezer 2

packing the freezer 3

Carefully and slowly we set off on Leg 4 – the final push! So, Hastings here we come for the final unload. The weather forecast had predicted cold winds and intermittent rain – oh good, that will keep people off the streets and aid the unpacking process! Not so! The weather was fairly balmy and bright which meant that as we turned into the street in front of the flat there were people everywhere and not a parking space in sight as well as wall to wall double yellow lines – oh no! Chris with his usual calm headed up a side street to find a place to stop but a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole, the roads became smaller and smaller, and tighter and tighter and further to that we were now heading a slow stream of traffic as it followed us slowly (tortuously slowly) through Old Town Hastings. Finally Chris discovered a way onto the sea front and once again we approached the street where the flat is located – “There” I yelled. “Over there!” gesticulating in a wild and dangerous fashion in front of Chris’s nose to indicate a parking space (well, strictly NOT a parking space but a loading bay – well we were UNloading so I felt that sort of counted, besides I was not to gainsayed I was a woman on a mission).

Parking the car

In an inverted form of the TARDIS – (getting something big into a small space) – Chris squeezed the car with its load into the loading space between two cars that quite obviously were parked illegally (after all couldn’t they read the sign?) and thankfully we heaved a sigh of relief. James appeared and the unloading commenced …

Sofa and door problem

… of course, it couldn’t be that easy! The doorway was the least of the problems as we found out when it came to getting the fridge/freezer into the flat.

sofa upstairs

…. got to hand it to my family they are definitely triers and sometimes achievers and in this instance both! One very narrow door and two sets of narrow and steep stairs later the fridge/freezer found its new home. We were ably assisted in this venture by Junior a neighbour who introduced himself outside and asked if he could help. Lucky man got to help carry the fridge/freezer up stairs!

James and Mariery seemed delighted with their new flat and we were delighted that they seemed settled. Good luck guys in your new home and your new life xxxxx

Chris and I set off at 5.53pm with an empty car but full hearts, home by 10.23pm and in bed not long after – bliss.