Christmas 2016 – looking back and looking forward…

Like many of you, for our family it has been a year of highs and lows. Sadly our family lost both my Dad and my Aunt and the world lost many great artists, so before we step into the new year take a minute to remember all those who touched our lives and who we loved.

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My Dad – Eric, on his 88th birthday this year, a man who will be remembered for his humour and ready smile and for the way he loved his family. Died 13th July 2016 and my Aunt in September.

As we all know – life goes on and so did we. There were still grandchildren to take to school, houses to renovate, allotments to tend and families to love and support. So what follows is a testament to the legacy that my Dad helped create – all our efforts and our family bonds that helped us through these last few months.

A big hurrah for Ikea! Despite making two large bookcases for the study space it became obvious that the Bloomfield-Shortle mania for books needed a bit more shelf space, so a contrasting insert was ordered from the Swedish giant and it now houses Chris’s Sci Fi collection. Along with this came a filing cabinet for all those papers that are contingent upon a modern life! More assembling for Chris …

Great! All done and …. not dusted yet but certainly getting cleaner and tidier.

Meanwhile, Christmas preparation was underway, with delicious Delia Smith vegetarian mincemeat made with Orange Liqueur. This year I made homemade Piccalilli (it always reminds me of Christmas time) and this rather tangy BBC Goodfood recipe was delicious, behind are the bottles for the Limoncello and Elderberry Vodka.

Having had the idea for a separate Music room for Chris which meant creating two new rooms on the ground floor and also making a hallway to run from the front porch to the back of the house, it was time to get started. Everyone had an opinion about the space but finally the decision was made to create two rooms – here goes! In the photo Chris is making customised shelves for all his precious vinyl, audio equipment, DVDs, Spanish paraphernalia and VHS tapes (yup, I know!)

Chris assures me that all these tools are completely necessary for the job – I have to agree when I see the finished article. Well done, Chris, it is not only fit for purpose but good looking too – not unlike my husband!

So, the great divide begins – the new Music room on one side and the first wall of the new hallway is put in place and insulated before being plasterboarded. Several electric sockets are in place and the new doorway is framed up.

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Time for some help – Madeleine becomes the ‘cable puller’ as Chris re-routes TV and Wi-fi cables. Looking good.

In the meantime, I run up some new curtains for the just about to be ‘walled’ sitting room and make some Christmas stockings, wreaths, Christmas bunting and cute ‘odds and ends’ Christmas trees ready for raising some money for a charity in December. Along with our neighbours we raised £60.00 for Hull Homeless and Rootless Project as well as having a very jolly afternoon of drinks and nibbles.

Hmmm, we still needed to knock through and create a doorway from the new hall in order to access the rear of the house, so Brother Sledge (the Sisters’ sibling) chipped, chiselled and drilled his way through the wall. He had to put in place two concrete lintels as two doorways were affected.

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Eh voila!

We were not to remain so chipper and upbeat for long as my Mum having just recovered from a very nasty cold and cough decided to go to see Matthew in his Cross Country Run at school on November 15th. All was going well until she stepped off the pavement opposite Prospect House and landed in the road face down. Fortunately a very nice man stopped and helped her to the house but that was when her luck ran out as she had broken both ankles and her knee, as well as bruising her nose and cutting her cheekbone. I would call that a full house! In less than two weeks it was Stir Up Sunday – a family tradition is to all stir the Christmas Pudding mix and make a wish – so here goes!

Well done family and three cheers for Great Grandmama!

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More progress on the Music Room. The chimney breast and alcove painted and the hideous wooden ‘shelf’ removed from above the fireplace. New photo frame all ready to hang and look – all the tools have been cleared away!

The Christmas cake had been made and was already marzipanned and ready for completion – Oh Starry Starry Night!

As if Christmas preparation, house renovation and parent home-care was not enough, Madeleine wanted to support the school’s Great Baysgarth Bake Off. So here are the young bakers, Madeleine and Joanna, busy making a Co-op recipe for a Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding Cake.

With the bake off in mind the girls then cleaned and ‘painted’ holly leaves with dark chocolate ready to decorate the top of the ‘pudding cake’ for a professional look.

The finished article – from ‘cake bomb’ to beautifully wrapped. As you can see, there are no chocolate holly leaves. It seems that the chocolate layer was too thin and it cracked easily, so Plan B was implemented – good old green sugar paste holly leaves. The girls achieved a very creditable second place – well done!

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Most of you will recognise these three little Christmas Cuties as I used this photo for our Christmas card this year. Santa “eat your heart out” – these are my helpers.

Madeleine was really keen to give her school friends a handmade Christmas present so she set to and made small ceramic robins and stars which she painted and threaded with shiny string. Another Tony Hart in the making, hey?

Whilst all the fancy make and bake was going on, Chris kept on working and here he is constructing the stud wall and drylining it ready for the new sitting room wall and the other side of the hall. I particularly love the modern ‘industrial’ light fitting – right on point!

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The work must go on despite the weather – note the rather inappropriate ‘sandal type’ footwear!

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Oh well done Chris. Almost finished – now only the floor to lay, the shelf to put in, the mirror to put up and the lights to fit and it’s done!!

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Happy birthday, Daisy. December the 10th and 5 years old. Apologies for the quality of the photo it really is my terrible mobile phone camera.

The weekend before Christmas is just the right time for the three old’uns to be out filling the ruts in the road and I notice that my neighbour, Ursula is just managing to slide by unnoticed! The ‘fill’ for the road was left over rubble from our renovation so it was an excellent way of levelling some potholes as well as getting rid of some ugly rubbish – also a good workout for the old blokes!

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Homemade preserves as gifts for our lovely neighbours.

And so to Christmas – some lovely photos from a great family Christmas shared with some lovely people.

A taste of our lovely family Christmas – James was busy taking photos so he is not in them! Heather and David joined us late on Boxing Day and the fun continued. Thank you all for such a brilliant week.

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Thank you for following my blog throughout the year, as you can see, we are still busy and there will be more next year. We would like to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous new year. All our love xxx

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.