All posts by shortfield9

We are recently retired teachers who have just taken on a new home in North Lincolnshire as a Green Renovation project...much more to follow

ADVENT -anniversaries,decorations,visitors, extras, Northernpowergrid, tables and trees

Yes, I know, it’s been a long time so sit tight ready to get engaged with the goings on at Green Lane; perhaps a cuppa (or something stronger!) might sustain you through the marathon that is both updating and December.

What a find! Whilst browsing in the local Hospice Shop I spotted a rather brilliant geometric fabric still on its cardboard pole. £2.00! Surely not! It was – wow! I had no idea what I would make with it but at that price I had to have it. Later I turned it into a Roman Blind for Chris’s Room, edging it with the remnants from two other projects both of which I had used in Chris’s room; so, wonderful coordinating. Chris was pleased with the results but he had no idea what I had lined up on my ‘list’ of things pre-Christmas.

Later in the month, I used the cardboard tube for the base of my garland decorations – waste not want not. Then recycled once the decorations came down.

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Little did I know that Chris also had plans of his own …

Having been inspired by the progress made as the downstairs started to look so much better and more finished, he decided to try his hand at plastering. The door that we had replaced in the kitchen had remained an eyesore for over a year but as can be seen it started to improve as Chris re-routed electric cables, put up new lights and plastered the window surrounds. I later painted it and it all looked great for Christmas. Thanks, Chris, job well done.

But this was just the start of his madly creative period – he then looked at my design ideas for my room and translated them into reality. I am REALLY thrilled with my almost finished room. It looks just as I imagined it. It is a light and calm room filled with photos and sentimental knick knacks.

Following this I took a quick look around the charity shops and found two rugs – one for Chris’s room and one for mine. Job almost done. I now have another purpose built shelf under my desk area for the printer and space for a basket holding files and stationery – perfect!

Well, you must be asking yourselves, what have you been up to since Chris seems to be doing so much. Glad you asked. I had been busy preparing for Christmas – making and sending Christmas cards, sewing, crocheting and knitting gifts and buying presents, as well as making Christmas puddings and cake – catch a taster from the following photos:

Yes – I know there are two tea cosy covers but when I had made one my sensible husband suggested that there might be further demand for said item so he advised that I made another one, which I did. The cake was decorated using my Mum’s original cake decorations from the 1960’s. I just had to use them all.

Well, is that all you did, I hear – no, on the second weekend of December my Mother was volunteered to help the grandchildren and me wrap and label all their presents that they had bought for family and friends.They had saved their pocket money, made lists of friends and a joint list for family and we hit the shopping heights at Skippingdale Retail Park which seemed to provide nearly all their requirements. Each grandchild had their own basket and I had three envelopes filled with their saved pocket money.

What a marathon – 6 hours of cutting, wrapping, sticking and writing. Thank heavens that Great Grandma was there …

Look at Madeleine’s gift bags already done and arranged on the window sill – still more to go though. Daisy wrote every single one of her gift labels but we did have to stop her writing her name in full – we felt that everyone already knew that it was Daisy Sullivan giving the gift (so no need for her surname, even if it was written in her best handwriting!) Matthew quietly got on even though we did have to do a bit of top up shopping in the Barton charity shops – Aunty Lucy was the lucky recipient of one such bargainacious find!

On the other hand I had to wrap all our presents on my own …

Not bad, now what’s next?

The first fortnight of December was quite full on as we celebrated Daisy’s 6th birthday on December 10th and Lucy had her first birthday celebration as part of our family on December 11th.

A perfect start to a great birthday. Birthday breakfast followed by a trip to Normanby Hall as a family for tea, feeding the reindeer and a visit to see Father Christmas.

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What a lovely day and we know that James organised lovely things for Lucy but perhaps not a trip to see Santa!

On Thursday 14th December Chris and I celebrated 39 years together – I know, where does the time go? Also, Northernpowergrid turned up as scheduled, to remove the redundant electricity pole outside our driveway. This was the final part of a request I made when we first moved in – so, only three years. Worth the wait though. Everyone was efficient and the pole was removed quickly – it just took another week for the hole to be filled in. Oh well!

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Of course Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree, or two, or three – oh heck four! It started as it always does with my usual refrain, “Chris, I’ve had an idea …” so, the pallet that had been part of our cast iron radiator delivery was cut up into tree shapes ready for painting and using in the gardens. Chris really is getting great use out of his reciprocal saw …

… as if this was not enough I had also asked him to construct a Christmas tree shaped log-store from the leftover lap-edge fencing. I think he enjoys the challenge.

I think you’ll agree that they really added something to our garden.

Usually being the person who arranges and organises things I was completely unprepared for what occured on my birthday – Thursday 21st December rolled around, James and Lucy had arrived on the 20th and we were all starting to get into the swing of things; David and Heather were due later on so all was going to plan. Hannah had asked if she and the children could come over for breakfast – of course, we were delighted. I was amazed and thrilled when my sister Suzanne and my niece Samantha turned up from Harrogate with bubbly, salmon, caviar, bagels and cake! What a beautiful and loving surprise. Thank you so much. We were all having such a great time that no one took any photos so you will just have to imagine how lovely it was. It doesn’t hurt to say thank you again though, so a very big loving thank you.

Just before this I had ‘another idea’ which my lovely husband undertook with a great deal of faith. Apart from wooden trees I persuaded him to make a new table to accommodate all of the visitors we were expecting over the Christmas period – to increase the imperative, I donated our dining table to the local British Red Cross shop which is where I had bought it from three years previously! So, look what my clever husband made:

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Yes! I know! It is brilliant!

And look at how well it fits the dining space and that it will seat eight people comfortably and ten if needed. Just what I wanted – a table fit for purpose. Hairpin legs bought online and scaffolding boards from B&Q. Excellent.

The cheery Christmas vibe is definitely apparent now – decorations up in the dining room and in the front and back gardens, lights twinkling and of course the real Christmas tree (number 4).

In the front room I put up my LED tree with the jolly Santas and delicate Angels as well as the polar bear ornaments for the grandchildren.

Like us the ‘children’ had been busy decorating their homes, creating DIY Advent calendars, making unusual Christmas trees and making festive goodies to give as gifts or to share throughout the Yuletide. All were a great and delicious success.

The granddaughters not to be left out had decorated and labelled a dozen little cress heads. Over a period of time Chris and I had collected egg shells in preparation for Daisy to grow mustard and cress in them; about ten days before Christmas she seeded the eggshells stuffed with damp cotton wool and watered them regularly until they had all grown a fine ‘mop of green hair’. Hannah suggested that they make place names out of them. Carefully the girls illustrated and coloured and labelled each ‘hairy egg’ – fantastic and what a great addition to the Christmas table. Well done, girls, I can’t wait to see what you do for next Christmas.

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I think they tailored each one to suit the recipient!

By the afternoon of the 21st December the family had all arrived – from Hastings in East Sussex and from Edinburgh, Scotland and how delighted we were to see them. Did they come for a free ride and a laze about? Certainly not. They had planned to take over Christmas and make it a culinary delight and a hands on cooking experience for all. It truly was a brilliant and wonderful Christmas – beautiful people, wonderful food, great games, lots of loving and sharing. Yet another big thank you these wonderful people for making Christmas exactly what it should be – magical xxx

No mistletoe necessary!

Christmas dinner which we had at Prospect House with Hannah, Matt and family was superb. The food looked beautiful and almost jewelled and it tasted divine; what a menu and what a great team of cooks working together. Who can forget the garlic /lemon prepared Turkey, the delicious stuffings, vegan offerings, pickled red cabbage, the gravies, sauces, custards and special Islay Marmalade Pudding! Phew! What a blowout!

Despite it being half way through January we want to wish you all a very wonderful 2018.

Part II – Foreign Fields, Fencing, Fruitfulness, Fixing, Flowering – and finally the FWord!

Foreign Fields – I am sure that all of you will have noticed that these photos do NOT show foreign fields but they do show Madeleine doing research and work on her diary following a school trip to Boppard in Germany. Foreign Fields to follow….

Ja, das ist wunderbar

I hope you spotted the ‘foreign field’ which fascinated Madeleine because it was so neat.

Some of Madeleine’s favourite places – The Schokolade Museum Lindt! Of course!

Meanwhile back in Barton upon Humber Chris had taken up fencing – no, not swordplay. Less like Errol Flynn and more like Donald Trump – putting up fencing!


Down with the old and up with the new but first of all he had to hack down all the small trees and bushes that were rampaging either side of the original fence.

Great job, Chris.

We kept the old fence in place until the new one was up in order to preserve our privacy and the security of our garden as the pathway outside is well used.

The old fence panels have been recycled (after I stripped them of the ivy) and they are now part of Wes and Rosa’s garden and will also be used in Hannah’s garden at Prospect House – just another job, Chris, don’t hang about, darling.

As you can see, I not only stripped off the ivy, leaving a really good fence panel ready to be re-used but I have also been painting the fence. I kept wishing I was Tom Sawyer and that I could fob the job off onto someone else – any volunteers? We have the other side to do as well!

Aah, what is this? Well, it’s a delivery by James from Barton Builders of slate chippings – a tonne of them. So, many chips off the old block! My latest idea for garden beautification and yet another job for Chris …

To be fair I had dug over, weeded and de-rooted (is there such a term?) the patch of earth in front of the new fence panels in preparation for Operation Slate.

Chris custom made edging and posts before putting down the plastic weed suppressant ready for shovelling in a tonne of slate chippings. So good for his core strength.

Notice the little ramp that Chris created in order to run the wheelbarrow over before tipping it onto the prepared area. Starting to look really good. I had already painted the garden picnic bench to contrast strongly with the pale colour on the fence.

This rather old but very serviceable wooden bookshelf was being thrown out by my Mum’s neighbour, Harold, so we took it off his hands and I painted it to match the picnic bench. I have now filled the shelves with herbs and lots of pots of wild strawberries ready to plant outside the fence to add to the greenery beside the public pathway.


More recycled stuff to paint up and add to the garden. Madeleine busy finishing a House banner for school Sports Day – Go Ancholme House!

Festivities – Madeleine’s 13th birthday – a teenager! Birthday tea with the family.

Frozen – Summer is finally here and so are the lollies. Very lovely watermelon ones from the Co-op. Chris behaving as usual!

Flowers, Food and Friendly Folk. Despite editing and producing and distributing The Barton Allotment Society Newsletter we almost missed the date but here are just a few of the photos from a lovely afternoon spent with some really lovely people  Barton Allotment

As summer continues it becomes clear that we need a gazebo, obviously Daisy is on hand to help Grandad.


Paddling pool out and granddaughter wet.

Flowering – the garden is starting to look like a lush paradise. The new fence with its beautiful seaside blue shade of paint really sets off the greenery. How lucky are we.

Remember those strawberries? Well Daisy as usual wanted to help so here she is squashing the strawberries in the Maslin pan in preparation for starting off the jam.IMG_20170628_133011

So, Strawberry Jam made – two jars already consumed (one of those with lovely scones and clotted cream), one given to Great Grandma, one jar to Heather and David – leaving six jars and a lone jar of Redcurrant Jelly (currants courtesy of Ursula our next door but two neighbour).

Fair weather temporarily in abeyance – just as well for us as all five of our water butts were pretty empty. They are now full along with various containers – in total over 500 litres. Water conservation in extremis! So good for the garden as you can see in the following photographs.


No reason for these photos except I really like them and I really love the subjects x



Family pride here. As you may know, Heather Parry (David’s partner) is a recognised and already published writer and here is her latest offering. Well done, Heather. To contact 404INK:

CONTACT 404 ink    Facebook 404INK

Or follow Heather on:


Many thanks for reading the latest post. I hope you enjoyed it and if you did please comment – I like to get the feedback.

Family Fun, Furnishings, Foreign Fields, Fencing, Fixing, Flowering and Fruitfulness – phew! Part I

Family Fun – well, we had to start off in May with a fun event at The People’s Theatre in Scunthorpe. It was a great show and we did not ‘dribble on the dragon’. Much to Matthew and Daisy’s delight Grandad was  looking in quite the wrong direction when approached by one of the main characters! Paying close attention – as usual!

Family Fun has always got to include getting wet – and since we had managed not to ‘dampen the dragon’ instead we decided to ‘dunk the grandchildren’. Well done Grandad for heaving all the warm water up the garden from the kitchen.

Furnishings – first take the large bolster from an old futon bed and a charity find curtain and then make them into a slimmer and longer bolster cushion for the back of Hannah’s settee (that has a low back; so uncomfortable for the neck)


Assemble all tools – insides of old bolster, large kitchen knife, extra wadding and fine fabric to encase modified bolster cushion. So professional!

Recycling the zip from the old futon bolster and the piping from the old sofa bed (shown in all its recovered glory later on in the blog), I made up the cover for the new bolster.

Job done – looking pretty nice and I was very pleased to have modified each end with the hem edging from the old curtain and just enough left over to make a fab cushion cover to help pull the whole look together when it goes into Hannah’s front room.

Very on trend – very contemporary.

More Furnishing Firsts – take a charity shop tub chair from IKEA and recover it in stretchy denim to enhance Chris’s Music Room.

Couldn’t resist recovering a cushion with some brilliant Orla Kiely fabric! I hope Chris appreciates the aesthetics!!


Fields! Well not exactly a field as this is our allotment near the Humber Bridge. This is now much greener – especially the weeds!!


Fruitfulness This is the start of the Strawberry crop and the development of the Raspberries. Thanks go to David for ‘helping’ to prune these earlier this year!


Scrumptious strawberries – now what to do with them? What about making them into jam ready for a few entries into the Barton Allotment Show in July – good idea, Stephanie.


“A few more strawberries from the garden, Gran” “Thanks, Daisy, just what I needed!”

The first quarter – or a round up of the last months!

Crikey, doesn’t time fly? So, this is a round up of the last four months since I posted on the blog and potentially the start of a more regular update …. oh well, we can but hope! This will involve lots of family events and a sort of ‘off piste’ reporting on work undertaken at Prospect House (our daughter’s ‘family’ home in Goxhill), trips, projects, hobbies and celebrations. So here goes.

JANUARY: Well, it snowed but not for long and not very much but it did look pretty so we had to take photographs.

Snow obviously requires the necessity of woollen accessories, so hats for all and scarves also but much later on … for the moment it meant a ‘Brownie Hat’ plus bobble for Heather based on the original pattern for Brownie hats in the 1960’s and a slightly smaller version for Matthew.

Chris’s ‘music room come man cave’ is now pretty much finished so I just felt it was right to show his new room in all its pristine glory before he actually started to use it. As can be seen it is clean and tidy but I fear it will not remain like this for long. The obligatory jar of Liquorice Allsorts takes pride of place above his LP collection (in case of extreme low blood sugar, you understand).


I am really pleased with these new kitchen lights that have replaced the bargainacious £4.50 find from the local charity shop. These were also a bargain having been reduced from £140.00 to £54.00 on Wayfair – an online shop that has some very reasonably priced homeware. Of course, waste not want not means that Hannah has now got the charity shop lights at Prospect House – and yes, of course, Dad fitted them.

Having completed (well almost) the ‘music room’ better known as Grandad’s Room and put in the dividing corridor Chris was now free to finish off the side wall created by the corridor, in the sitting room. We had decided to utilise the stepped in spaces left by the original glass door panels as two alcoves to house CDs and to create a feature in what would otherwise be a fairly boxy space.

We were both very pleased with the overall effect and the use of space to store part of our music collection and it has turned a blank area into a much more interesting feature.


Finally, we decided to clad this wall as this is a ‘feature theme’ throughout the house and we have painted it pale grey – it looks very nice.

Please notice very tasteful painting of ‘Mackerel’ by Meg which beautifully coordinates with our colour scheme – well done, Meg.


Much to my great surprise and even greater pleasure was the effect of the re-covered sofa. I had ordered a ‘stretch to fit’ cover for the rather shabby orange sofa we had bought in the British Red Cross Charity shop in Barton as a way of quickly upstyling it but when it arrived I was not immediately impressed – this response was to be completely reversed once I had fitted it onto the old sofa. If not exactly WOW it was now much better looking and with the newly re-covered cushions that I had run up the sitting room was starting to have a much more unified look.


Of course I was still busily knitting hats – here’s one for Madeleine and behind me is a pile of fabric waiting to be made up into a variety of new things. Note to self: ‘make sure they don’t just join all the other projects you had in mind but didn’t manage to get around to’. Further note to self: ‘check on stash of fabric currently residing in not just one but two ottomans upstairs!’ Sigh.


Chris, meanwhile, had gone into the shoe-mending business; gluing Madeleine’s boot sole and of course jamming it into the drawer in order to hold the two areas together whilst the glue set! Smart, versatile and inventive, that’s Grandad for you!

At the start of the month I belatedly took cuttings from the Mulberry tree at Prospect House and with fingers crossed (hard when you are planting out) I prepared and potted 36 cuttings. Much to my surprise and great pleasure the cuttings seem to have taken and we have given some to Renee and Jim, Peter and Annie, Wes and Rosa and their son Andy and as you can see we still have plenty left….


I knitted several cushion covers and made them up using fabric from old skirts donated by my Mother.


As you all know, my Mother broke her legs in November and she has made magnificent progress since then and she is getting much better. She only had two hospital appointments this month – now only one cast (much shorter than the previous one) and a knee brace! She is making tremendous progress and is increasingly independent – well done, Mummy, we are really proud of you.

Well, that was the best part of January

FEBRUARY: Cold and wet weather so just the right time for NorthernPowergrid to start work on re-laying the electricity cables in preparation for removing the pole outside our house that impedes access to our ‘driveway’. You may remember that we had made the application to have the pole removed nearly two years ago and as you can see from the photo below it is in an inconvenient place.

I must remember to go out in disguise just in case the neighbours decide to turn violent – and who could blame them; traffic hold ups, debris, filth and inaccessible pavements as well as the weather to contend with, perhaps I’d best leave the country.

Not only was this totally disruptive but also very noisy – oh joy!

Inside all was progressing smoothly. Chris had to fit a new ceiling light in the bathroom. I had already found a bargain light fitting at a car boot sale in Kent the previous September for £3.00 and all that had to be done was to fit it – right? Wrong!

First off Chris had to go into the en-suite shower room and crawl through an attic access that was designed for one of slightly slenderer proportions than my rather cuddly husband, drill a hole into the ceiling of the main bathroom in order to site the cable for the new fitting as there was no previous fitting in that area. Whilst he was up there he had to squeeze himself under the horizontal roof braces in order to rewire the pull switch so that it connected to the new main light. I was suitably subdued as I had blithely suggested the work, in the first place!


Hmmmm, quite a small space !

First Heather, then David. Everyone has to have a scarf and hat – it gets cold in Edinburgh. Rockin’ that combo, David.

In the meantime I was also engaged in re-covering the settee from Prospect House. Always thrifty, I unpicked and re-used the piping and zips! I also used two old thin duvets that had been washed in order to add some plumpciousness to the rather bedraggled seat cushions and the back cushion was made up from the mattress part of a futon bed and the rest of the duvet! I had bought the fabric from a great new shop near Uckfield called Expectations. I really recommend it – great service and even greater selection.

The end product – complete with same coloured antimacassars (that’s not a word you see often). This was ready in time for my Mum’s birthday bash on March 12th!

I wasn’t the only one going upholstery mad. Heather (girlfriend of our son David) was busy learning a few skills herself. Well done, darling girl, only another three to go! It looks great and a really zingy colour.

Of course, more knitting was being done. A scarf for James and yes, you guessed it, all yarn was purchased from charity shops, unfortunately not quite enough for a hat as well though.

Heather has a great passion for bread and here are just some of her wonderful offerings.

In the spirit of competition I also made a quite large French Apple Tart – all the adults loved it but the grandchildren were not sure! What’s not to like? Too much fruit?

Chris has numerous skills but this one took the biscuit. Long distance DIY mending advice on how to ‘get your washing machine to work’. James (our other son), lives in Hastings and true to his thrifty upbringing was delighted to be offered a free washing machine which his dear friend Pasquale picked up for him and helped him get up two flights of stairs to his flat – the only trouble was that it didn’t seem to want to work. So, long distance Dad did what all Dads do – helped out. After the ‘operation’ we are delighted to say that the patient is now fully recovered and washing everything to perfection. Well done, Dad. Well done, James and thank you Pas.

Spring is on its way. Everywhere there are snowdrops, crocuses, blossom and daffodils – (these ones came from our allotment) lovely.

So, also time for a new image I think.


…. and a new skill.

Our friend, Jim Clements who makes these delightful little figures, runs a woodcraft stall under the name of Hallsgate Wood. He owns a 5 acre wood near Elham in Kent and is a woodsman through and through and constantly creating new and unusual objects. These little guys were being made ready for Christmas this year – Jim has made lots of the Father Christmas figures. My attempt at a spin on this was the rather overly painted ‘King’ but Jim has taken the idea and is creating more little figures with much better results. I particularly love the humorous details like the pink feet of the shepherd!

Speaking of creating – below we have the first ‘picture’ of the latest creation in the Sidwell/Bloomfield Clan. A baby brother for Marleigh, due in the summer. Good luck, Nic and keep well.


MARCH: Another busy month but one full of surprises and celebrations

As you can see The Barton Allotment Society has come into focus on our blog and into our lives too not only through our two half plots but as Chris has been co-opted onto the committee in order to create and run the Allotment website. Congratulations, Chris.

The first two weeks of March were busy for my Mum who was liberated from her plaster cast but then had the first of her cataract operations – on the day before her birthday! We were already planning a family get together so we hoped all would be well for her birthday surprise. The Clan converged from the far south, the Humberside, from parts of North Yorkshire and the granite heights of Edinburgh and they were prepared to party like someone was 88!

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Everyone had a brilliant time and Mummy was totally surprised and delighted to have us all there, sharing her lovely day.

Not long after the birthday bash we were invited for a relaxing weekend in Edinburgh with David and Heather but ….. before we were due to arrive ‘could we make a magazine rack?’ Of course! No problems! What else are we doing three days prior to setting off? So, here was our effort from photos sent to us most helpfully by David and Heather. Actually it looked really very nice when it was put up on that following weekend. You never know what you can do until you try.


Matthew (our lovely grandson) has so far been awarded three walk to school badges under the scheme called ‘Park and Stride’ to encourage children to walk to school – easy for Matthew as he always walks to school. Well done, Matthew.. these have now been followed by a further three badges for three more weeks completed. Grandad always keeps an eye out for Matthew as he crosses the road solo and he is excellent and careful every day.

We all went to see Matthew’s play at school called ‘Super Stan’. It was great fun and all of the children were great. A big thank you to Auntie Samantha for once again providing costume – this time, a bright orange tutu (Matthew looked adorable in it).

Having some spare fabric left over from the settee I covered for Prospect House I set to and re-covered the very large footstool as well. It turned out fine. The two cushions were a bit of fun as I had bought two sets of tea towels (from a charity shop) and I recovered some cushions for the kitchen bench – it worked quite well, I think.

Have a look at the Prospect House settee now resplendent with revamped coordinated cushions. Not exactly Homes and Gardens more like Habitat circa 1968. Great retro look with the Orla Kiely fabric from Dunelm.

Of course I can’t leave out the piano stool – ‘Not too matchy, Mum’ was the request from Hannah. I hope this will do…

Of course all these make and do projects took some time but with the breathtaking wonderflness of nature the garden has pretty much got on with growing beautifully and with only a small amount of effort from us. Thank you to Heather and David for giving us the little greenhouse – it is doing a great job.

Thanks to Pete and Annie for the Mahonia cuttings. I am collecting cuttings, plants and bulbs from friends, family and neighbours in order to create a really loving garden. The Mahonia cuttings seem to be doing well and I am using the plastic bag as a form of shelter and warming zone (no, not because I was too lazy to take it off). The Contorted Willow were a fortuitous happenstance from last Easter and I have promised these to Pete and Annie for their ‘garden’ – well more the size of a small park really, so they will have space for these.

On the family front we would like to wish all the best of luck and our heartiest congratulations to Hannah and David who both got jobs in March. Well done, you both deserve this.

Well, that pretty much finishes March – but more to come so keep reading on for the joys of April and Easter……

APRIL: The promise of Spring has been realised in the spate of lovely weather, the busyness of birds nesting, the blooming of bulbs, the blossoming of trees and the joy of Easter.

Despite having to accommodate an increasing complexity of family commitments and geographical necessities we managed to fit in Easter lunch and an Easter Egg Hunt.

Thank you, Madeleine, for the lovely Easter wreath – I will definitely give it to Grandmama when she gets back from Harrogate. On the table in the photo below you can see just some of the tokens and markers ready for the Easter Egg Hunt …

… unfortunately, this was the one day that had been wet so the hunt for eggs and clues was conducted indoors and everyone eventually found all their tokens (thanks Matt for some judicious rearranging!)

Easter wasn’t over yet for the youngsters as David and Heather had invited them to Edinburgh for a jolly time, seeing the sights, walking, playing, cooking, eating doughnuts and generally having a whoop diddley time! Thank you Uncle David and Auntie Heather, we appreciated the break and the kids loved the holiday. Highlights would definitely include breakfasts, open top sightseeing tours, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle – way to go guys!


Apart from being a recognised and rewarded upcoming new writer, Heather is now increasing her skill set by learning to crochet. Excellent – we look forward to many interesting crocheted things!! Of course with all writers it is the subtext that you have to be wary of and in looking at the photo Heather sent me I noticed the title of the book she was reading …. a message? A warning? A celebration? Who knows.


Finally, I had to give a plug to my lovely husband. Having seen our friends’ new kitchen (super lovely) and noticed their very stylish and useful sockets I was in total envy mode; so my lovely husband fitted this in the kitchen for me! Many, many thanks, Chris and yes, Madeleine he did remember the flowers, the chocolates (yummy Thornton selection box) and the tinfoil!!

Our next projects involve finishing off lots of little jobs in the rooms that we have renovated and also concentrating on the garden – new fences, painting and renovating garden furniture, growing lots of lovely fruits and vegetables. So look out for the next blogs and many thanks for patiently wading through this mega-post!

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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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


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!!


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!


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.

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.


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.


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


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!

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!


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.


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!


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’!


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!!


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