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.