Monthly Archives: August 2015

Happy Friday 28.08.15

Well, some weeks,  it is definitely easier to come up with my top ten highlights than others, and this week has been particularly easy, as it’s been full of fun times! As the summer holidays are nearing their end, we have been trying to make the most of every day – as you can see!

1. We had a fabulous couple of days in Norfolk last weekend, with the most amazing weather, which only broke as we were packing the car up to leave. The first highlight was a trip to Holkham Hall, with a jaunt out on a rowing boat. This was great fun and very relaxing  – for all of us apart from Dan, who had to do the rowing. It wasn’t so bad going down the lake, but coming back up, into a very strong head wind, was quite an ordeal. I think that he definitely felt that he’d had a workout after that!


2. We then visited Burnham Overy Staithe harbour, which is one of my favourite spots of all. You have to wade across a channel of water to get to the beach-area, so you have to be aware of tide times, but it’s so lovely – a great place to sit, play on the sand or in the water, watch the world (and their super-cute dogs!) go by, and pick samphire, which we then had for our evening meal with seabass and new potatoes – delicious.


3. We took the dogs for a long walk (and swim!) on Brancaster beach on Sunday, and it was looking particularly beautiful – don’t you think?


4. We then treated ourselves to lunch out at Thornham Deli -although I was a little disappointed with my choice, everyone else’s was good, and we had a lovely time.



5. For pudding, we decided that ice creams were in order, so we went to nearby Drove Orchards, where we bought huge cones – and here I was very pleased with my choices of coconut, and rum and raisin.


6. My great friend, Hettie, and her children popped round on Monday – with homemade biscuits! It was lovely to see them – I had a good catch up with Hettie, whilst G and B entertained her little ones with colouring and the marble run, which proved very popular.

7. Tuesday turned out to be a day of two halves – a productive morning, getting Lottie’s vaccinations up to date and the last things Ben needs for school bought, followed by a relaxing afternoon at the cinema – a nice mix.

8. We had a really lovely day out on Wednesday to Ilam Park with my good university friend, Abi, her husband and two boys. We had, ridiculously, not been to Ilam before, despite it being only 40 minutes from home, and it is absolutely stunning. We had a picnic by the river, then went on a lovely three mile walk, before visiting the tea rooms – ice creams for the children and pots of Earl Grey for the adults. It was so nice to see them all, and have a really good catch up, especially in such beautiful surroundings.

Ilam1 Ilam3 Ilam4 Ilam2

9. In between all of these trips, we have been getting organised for B going away next week. I have done most of the huge amount of clothes labelling which is needed, and we have all his kit either packed in a large container or waiting to be ticked off the list – we are getting there!

10. It has been a week of catching up with people, as last night, I met up with another close university friend, Tracy, for a meal and a very long overdue chat. It was really lovely to see her and catch each other up on our news – so it was quite a late night!

We are now all very excited about our trip this weekend to CarFest South. It is our fourth time there, and we have had a fantastic few days there each year, so can’t wait for the fun to begin!

Happy Friday 21.08.15

Wow – it’s Friday again already – that means it’s six weeks since the children finished school for the summer holidays and only one and a half until they’re back – it’s going far too quickly. With this in mind, we are definitely trying to make the most of our time together, so here are the highlights from the past week:

1. One that I forgot to mention from last week was the beautiful sunset that D and I enjoyed whilst we were in Norfolk. We sat in the back garden, overlooking the dense cornfield, glass of wine in hand, just watching the sun set. It actually went down pretty quickly – not as dramatically as a Caribbean sunset, but quicker than we expected nonetheless – and it was absolutely stunning. We are going again this weekend, so I’m hoping that we can repeat the experience.

Sunset1 Sunset2

2. We had a great family swimming trip on Saturday, with the complete luxury of having the pool to ourselves for most of the time. It just happened to be lunchtime when we had finished so we decided to eat in the restaurant there too – I opted for the burger which went down very well!


3. We enjoyed cooking together on Sunday, making pork with apples and tarragon. It was absolutely delicious – and all the better for having all made it together.

4. The children and I had a fun trip to Markeaton Park in Derby on Monday, with a jaunt on a pedalo followed by ice creams. It is so long since I’ve been on a pedalo that I’d quite forgotten the hard work involved, but it was great fun and involved lots of laughter – especially when B, who was steering, thought that it was hilarious to steer me into the overhanging trees!


Duck Flowers

5. We are very lucky, being close to Derby, that we have so many lovely parks around, so on Tuesday we tried out a different one – Darley Park. This had been recommended to us a couple of weeks ago and it is absolutely lovely. It is a large, popular but peaceful park, with the River Derwent flowing through, providing a natural path to follow. So we had a lovely walk with the dogs, followed by yet more ice creams, of course.

Darley 2 Darley

6. The blackberries out on the field behind our house have made me very happy this week! Quite a lot of them are now ripe and are truly delicious – and the good thing is that there are still plenty which are no where near ready to eat, so they should keep us going for a few weeks!

7. We had a lovely trip to Carsington Water on Wednesday, which was special for two reasons. First, I had (ridiculously!) never been before – the children have both been with school – and it is a great place to visit. There are plenty of places to walk, the scenery is beautiful, there are playgounds, etc. etc. Secondly, however, and more importantly, we met my school friend, Sara, there, as she was staying nearby with her family. I haven’t seen her in over a year, and she hadn’t met G and B before, so it was really lovely to have a walk, picnic and catch up with her – and her gorgeous youngest daughter and her dog, of course! It was a great few hours – and we were even lucky enough to just get home before the rain began.


8. G and I had a “girls night” on Wednesday, which was so nice – and very relaxing! It involved spending the evening in her room, with her scented candles smelling amazing, watching re-runs of her favourite TV shows on her computer.

9. As we’ve had so many trips and days out this holiday, we decided to stay in on Thursday and had an afternoon of board games – with special drinks and snacks, of course! I’m so pleased that both children still enjoy afternoons like this.

10. One more positive thing this week is that B seems to be getting quite excited about his new school. As it is now only 12 days until he goes, this is really good news! He has been full of questions and curiosity about what it will be like, all in a very positive way, which is great, as it is going to be such a huge change for us all.

So, as I said, we have a lovely family weekend in Norfolk planned, which will involve spending plenty of time on beaches, walking, collecting samphire – all the usual. I’m just hoping that the weather forecast is right!

Happy Friday 14.08.15

Well, I’m not sure where the past nine days, since our French exchange children arrived, have gone. As we said goodbye to them yesterday, it was very strange to think that the time had passed so rapidly, but they seemed to have been a part of our family for a long time, which was lovely.

Here are the highlights of the past week anyway:

1. The tie dye activity we did one evening with the four children. This was incredibly messy, with the dye getting literally everywhere as they dyed t-shirts, pillow cases and canvas bags, but it was also such fun. They all seemed to enjoy it and were pleased with their efforts, and it was great to see them all wearing their t-shirts together the next day (and all the mess was very easily wiped up!).


2. We had a lovely few days in Norfolk, which started off with a great trip to Brancaster beach on our first afternoon. The puppies had a good swim in the sea, and we then walked along to see if the seals were there, and they certainly were – in force! We couldn’t go as close as normal, as they are currently breeding there and have babies, but we could get close enough to see them all basking on the sand very clearly – an amazing sight, as always.


3. It wasn’t just the dogs in the sea the next day, as the weather was glorious, so all the children went in for a proper swim. I’m not sure that you would have got me in there, but they seemed to love it and have lots of fun.

4. We had a lovely walk around the lake at Holkham Hall on Sunday, which we always love to do. The weather was beautiful, so everywhere looked stunning.

Children_log Lake

5. We had another fun day on Monday when I took all the children swimming and then bowling. The bowling was in a very “quaint” establishment, but it did the job and kept the children entertained.

6. A trip to Sandringham. Shockingly, we have only visited Sandringham once, and that was just for a walk, so we haven’t ventured into the house before, but I thought that this would be a good place to take our French visitors. We were very lucky in that, when we went in and I asked for a French translation of the guidebook, the lady serving asked if I’d like her to talk to the exchange children, to tell them about the rooms we would visit, as she was the French-speaking guide. What luck! She gave them a good overview of what to look out for, which was great – I understood everything that she was saying but there’s no way that I could have explained it all myself, so it was a very successful trip.


Buddha Statue

7. We did one of our favourite walks on Wednesday, from Holkham along to the beach, past the brightly-coloured beach huts, to Wells-Next-The-Sea and then back through the pine woods. Again the weather was beautiful, so it was so lovely.

8. It was nice to get home again on Wednesday evening to see D. He’d been with us until (very early!) Tuesday morning, but it was still good for us all to be back together – and to celebrate with a mojito!

9. Watching the meteor shower. We all had a quick trip outside at about 10.30pm to see what we could spot, and were lucky enough to see at least four shooting stars each. The children chose to lie on the trampoline for the best vantage point, and we learnt that it is a French custom to make a wish whenever you see one.

10. The French exchange has gone so well – better than we even hoped. Not knowing the children or the family, we didn’t know if they would get on well or not, or if they’d enjoy doing similar things, etc., but they all got on famously together. The house has been absolutely full of fun and laughter for the past week, so they are now all looking forward to when G and B make their visit next year. They are such lovely children – so polite and helpful and fun-loving, that it has been a complete joy to have them stay with us – and a great excuse for lots of fun trips out!

So we are now looking forward to a nice quiet, family weekend. I would guess that a trip to the gym/swimming pool and a picnic/walk will feature, but that is as far as the planning has got. Oh, and giving my brain a rest from all the translation I have done in the past nine days!

Happy Friday 07.08.15

Wow – after a nice quiet weekend, it’s turned out to be a pretty busy week – but all in a good way! And we can certainly say that we are enjoying the summer holidays! Here are some of the highlights from the past seven days:

1. Possibly the best part of our weekend was our trip to Elvaston Castle Country Park on Sunday. It’s quite ridiculous that I have only visited this once, and that was only for a food fayre over a year ago, but it appeared in a list of local woodland that I researched after G asked if we could go to a wood, so off we went. We started the trip off with a lovely picnic (of course – I absolutely love picnics!) of sandwiches, watermelon and freshly baked peanut butter and chocolate chunk cookies, which we then followed by a walk around two separate parts of the park. It really is a lovely place to spend some time, with plenty of space to walk the dogs, interesting areas for the children to explore and nice scenery along the way – a very successful trip.


All_Elv Ben_Elv G_Elv GBElv


2. Our wedding anniversary, which D and I celebrated on Monday. It’s very difficult to believe that it’s 19 years since that amazing day, but I still feel so blessed that we found each other so early in life, at the ages of 17 and 18 respectively, and that we got married as soon as we could after university. We had a very special evening, exchanging our presents, having a lovely meal, and making and drinking our new favourite drink of mojitos. We are definitely on the same wavelength – I had bought the ingredients for making them, whilst D had bought me a mojito-making kit as part of my present, and we then both bought the same cheese to eat after our meal – what a team!

Mojitos Wed

3. Getting my work done. It is always a challenge during the school holidays to fit in the work that I have to do around spending time and days out with the children, but I have had two good sessions this week, which has allowed me to catch up fully after our holiday.

4. One of our great discoveries for a summer holiday activity this week has been swimming. We went along to the local pool to begin with, but found that it was full, and they couldn’t guarantee that we would get in at all during the session, so we then went on to the gym where we are members but very rarely go, and certainly not to swim – for some unknown reason! However, it was fabulous – G and B went in the water, whilst I stayed on the poolside, on a lounger, reading my book and watching them. It really felt like we were still on holiday, which is definitely a feeling that I wish to prolong, so there will be plenty more visits!


5. Tuesday saw the arrival of our two French exchange children, who are the same ages as G and B, and who are with us for nine days. We were all a little apprehensive about meeting them and having them to stay, as we had never met them, and had no clue as to their English proficiency, but they are absolutely lovely. They are great children, get on well with G and B, and are trying hard with their English – a real success, three days in!

6. Out trip to West Midlands Safari Park. I could say that this brought back many memories, as this is the safari park that I used to visit as a child when I lived in Worcester, but I have to say that it wasn’t at all familiar. However, it was a great day out, and a good ice breaker for the children and their French counterparts. It took a while to get there because of traffic and it was busy inside the park, but it was great to see the variety of animals up so close – rhinos, deer, antelopes, two types of tiger and lion, giraffes, wild dogs, lions, zebras, camels, etc. We will definitely be using our return free ticket, so that D can come too.

Antelope Deer Elephants Giraffe Rhino Zebra

7. Successful swimming and shopping trips on Thursday for all the children. They are getting on very well together, and it’s great to see them managing to communicate and have fun.

8. Simple pleasures for the children, including playing hide and seek in a fantastic area of Elvaston Country Park (which we visited again on Thursday!) which was just made for such a game. It’s so nice to see 14 and 12 year olds still loving the challenge of the game, aided by walkie talkies, and surpassing any language barriers along the way.

9. The French boy who is with us made my day yesterday when he told me that my French is very good. I did spend 9 months living in France, but that was 20 years ago and I have not really used it since, so I didn’t have much confidence in it, but it was very nice of him to say so (and to say that it was the truth!). To be honest, I have really enjoyed speaking it again, and it has really helped this week, as neither G and B’s French nor our guests’ English can cope with everything just yet.

10. The prospect of a few days in Norfolk – we haven’t been for over three months, which is crazy, so we are really looking forward to it, and to being able to introduce the French children to the amazing beaches, the beautiful countryside, and one of the Queen’s residences along the way!

I hope that you all have a great weekend!