Monthly Archives: September 2015

Happy Friday 25.09.15


Avocado Berries Dogs WoodSeptember has been a funny old month – unlike the rest of the year, it seems to have gone quite slowly. I’m not sure of the reason for this – maybe it’s something to do with us all getting used to B being away – but we are nearly at the end, and October, a month which for us is crazily busy with birthdays, is very much in sight.

So, here are some of the little things which have made me happy this week:

1. I eventually got around to making avocado toast for breakfast last Saturday, and it was delicious. I have been meaning to do this for months and fortunately was not disappointed. I added cherry tomatoes and fresh basil to it, and it went down very well with both me and D.

2. We went to Derby Theatre last Saturday to watch an amazing production of Brassed Off. I have seen some fantastic, and very varied, productions at this theatre over the past few years, but I have never seen the entire audience giving a standing ovation before, but this was so well-deserved. The performances were all absolutely fantastic – both the acting and the brass playing. On reading about it when I returned home, I discovered that some of the main parts were played by actors with relatively little experience, which was a shock to me, as they were all outstanding. They could take this production on a national tour very easily, it was so fantastic – I, for one, would most certainly go to watch it again!

3. Sunday, in many ways, was a complete write off for me, as I became unwell during Saturday night with a stomach bug, so spent all of the day in bed or under a blanket on the sofa, feeling completely wiped out. However, one good thing that came of this was that it gave me time to read my book for Book Club which I went to on Wednesday, and, as I had not previously started the book, I really needed that time!

4. I finally placed my Snapfish order for our holiday photos this week, which, again, I’ve been intending to do for weeks. In the end, it was a pleasant evening of looking back through all the photos we had taken in Grenada, which is never a chore and brought back some lovely memories, so I’m now looking forward to them being delivered, so that I can decide which ones to frame and which ones to put in the waiting album.

5. I ordered my dress for my niece’s wedding (which is NEXT WEEK! – how exciting!) this week and it arrived two days later. I am very happy with it – thank goodness – so can now relax knowing that my outfit is ready (well, when the handbag and fascinator arrive!). Just G to kit out now!

6. Signs of autumn have made me happy this week. Much as I do love summer more now than ever before ( I was always a most definite winter-lover, but now like summer just as much), I still enjoy to see and feel the changes of the different seasons. The chilly mornings, the changes in the leaves and trees, and the final blackberries have all brought a smile to my face these past few days.

7. One of the things that we love about where we live is the fact that we can walk through a gate at the bottom of the garden onto a lovely park. This is a very well used space, which is great to see, and it is also fantastically maintained, so although we most definitely live “in the suburbs”, it really does feel like our little piece of countryside, literally on our doorstep, which is so wonderful for walking the dogs.

8. Talking of which, seeing them chasing each other around madly on their time off their leads on our walks this week has made me smile – the little ones have so much fun together, and burn off loads of energy, which is always good.

9. A nice surprise came in the post on Wednesday, when we found out that B had won the Year 7 Reading Prize at his old school, which he left in July. They had held their Speech Day and Prize Giving last week, when it would have been presented had he still been there, but we knew nothing about it, so it was a lovely surprise to receive – and to tell him about. What a star!

10. Again, swimming features this week, as I continue to love getting back into it. My aim is to do 250 lengths per week, but I only managed to go for the first time this week on Thursday, so I have to make two more trips over the weekend – I completed 100 on Thursday, so I’ve made a good start though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Happy Friday 18.09.15

Another week gone, and it is definitely feeling more autumnal – we are now looking forward to it being chilly enough for us to justify lighting the woodburner, which we’ve missed for the past six months. I don’t think it will be long – the evenings are certainly feeling a lot cooler!

Anyway, here are the highlights of my week:

1. After absolutely dreading driving up and down the M6 on a Friday to collect B last week, I was so happy to find that it was clear both ways. It was a little busy to start with on the way up, but then cleared, and was great for the rest of the way, meaning that we arrived back home far earlier than I had envisaged  – a great start to the weekend.

2. Obviously having B at home for the weekend was just lovely. He filled me in on his first nine days on the journey home, so I eventually felt that I knew what he’d been up to and how he was settling in. Apparently very well, thank goodness, as he was very excited to be going back on Sunday after a great family weekend.

3. One of the highlights of our weekend was a meal out at Turtle Bay, a Caribbean restaurant which recently opened in Derby. Until then , our closest Turtle Bay was in Nottingham, and we hadn’t got around to visiting it, but I was thrilled to find one right here. The meal was delicious (although a little too spicy for G and B), the 2-4-1 cocktails very good, and the service was spot on. We’ll definitely be returning – but probably without the children next time!


4. Following our meal out, we spent the rest of the evening out by the firepit – it was so nice to be able to do this all together again, without B missing.

5. I’ve enjoyed trying out some new recipes this week, mainly from Jamie Oliver’s new Superfoods book. The fruit pocket eggy bread was delicious for breakfast at the weekend, and the Vegeree was pretty good too, but my favourite was the Super Squash Lasagne – very tasty and enough left over for another day.


6. I have started swimming again in the past couple of weeks and am loving it. This week, I have managed to go three times, and have completed 230 lengths, which I’m pretty happy about. I especially like it when I have the whole pool to myself, as I did yesterday.

7. Following two of my swims, I have spent time in the outdoor hot tub, which is amazing. Even when it was drizzling slightly on Tuesday, it was still lovely – so relaxing and luxurious. Love it!

8.Fortunately, B took on board our chats with him last weekend about his lack of communication during his first nine days away, and our resulting frustrations, and has consequently called or texted every evening, which is a huge improvement, and makes us all very happy.

9. Books have definitely been the highlight of this week as well. I am reading a fantastic book on my Kindle at the moment, which was a free loan for the month, and then I also had a trip to the library on Tuesday to stock up with a selection of others to look forward to – libraries are the best!

10. I have had a couple of gardening sessions this week, which have been very satisfying. I am basically cutting lots of plants and bushes back in preparation for autumn and winter – I do get a little carried away when I get a pair of secateurs in my hand, but hopefully I haven’t chopped back anything I shouldn’t!


We have a nice weekend planned, with a theatre trip on Saturday to look forward to, followed by more working in the garden on Sunday, weather permitting. Hope you all have a good one :)

Happy Friday 11.09.15

Candle Dec Prosecco Tea

Well, the first full week back in the usual work/school routine is coming to a close, and it’s all been pretty good. It’s amazing how quickly we all become accustomed to the changes – early mornings, packed lunches, and, for us this time, Ben being away. We have all missed him, and he us, I think, but it has all gone far more smoothly than I thought that it might. We are seeing him this weekend as well, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

In the meantime, here are some of the highlights from the past week:

1. My niece’s hen party last weekend in Chesterfield. This was just for the girls in the family, and it was lovely to all get together, as it doesn’t happen all too often. We had a very civilised afternoon tea (with Prosecco!) followed by a meal out in the evening in Bakewell, where my niece now lives. I’d forgotten just how lovely Bakewell is – G thought that it looked just like a “model town”. G and I then stayed overnight, heading back home on Sunday morning – a lovely little jaunt out for us both!

2. The location for our afternoon tea in Chesterfield was the H&F Vintage Tea Rooms, which is an absolutely gorgeous place. The vintage décor is fabulous, and means that there’s lots to look at. It was very busy, but we had a large table reserved towards the back of the room, which was ideal. The food and drinks were lovely, and the staff (dressed very appropriately in vintage outfits) very friendly and helpful – especially the very kind waiter who took our photos!

3. We had a great fire pit evening on Sunday, after a few weeks of not having one for a variety of reasons – being away, inappropriate weather, etc. It was lovely to get out there again – it’s just so relaxing, with the fire to keep you warm, candles and fairy lights to combat the dark and a tasty gin and tonic to enjoy.

4. We had a picnic tea out in the garden last weekend, which was so nice. We had been thinking of going to the classical music concert in Darley Park, so I had bought some picnic food in readiness for that, but we decided that we were just too tired, and would prefer to stay at home and eat in the garden instead. Later in the evening, we could hear the music and fireworks anyway, so all was not lost.

5. After having very little communication from B, we received a call from his housemaster on Monday, which was very reassuring. He was able to put our minds at rest by telling us that B had settled very well and seemed happy and to be getting on with everything well, which was exactly what we needed to hear.

6. One little thing that’s made me happy this week is the new nail varnish that  G and I chose when we had to get some change for the car park last weekend. It’s Rimmel/Rita Ora’s Go Wild-er-ness and is such a lovely shade of lilac – love it!

7. For some reason, we seem to have had some very relaxing evenings this week. We seem to have been able to keep on top of everything more easily, so have had time to listen to music, read, and watch a little TV at the end of the days, which has felt like a real treat.

8. My new Dublin River boots arrived last weekend, and I love them! They’ve had a few dog-walking outings already, of course, and they’re great – as long as you wear thick socks with them, which I found out to my cost one day!

9. One of the other things that I’ve been able to do this week is spend a little more time than usual playing the piano, which always feels like quite a luxury, so I’ve really enjoyed that.

10. Last night was G’s speech night at school, which is always a lovely evening. It is so good to see the whole school together, celebrating everyone’s achievements, and there’s always a great speaker, providing further inspiration for the girls. I always love going to anything associated with G’s school, as I’m just so happy that she loves it so much.

So that’s it from me for this week. I hope that you’ve all had a good week and have an even better weekend.

Happy Friday 04.09.15

September already? How did that happen? I guess it was something to do with the busy summer we had – it’s definitely up there as one of our best. The combination of our holiday in paradise, the success of the French exchange, weekends in Norfolk and at Carfest, along with plenty of day trips, relaxing time at home and catching up with lots of friends, has made this summer so special, and one that we will remember for a long time.

Here are some of the highlights of the final week of the holiday:

1. We spent last weekend, as we have done for the past four years, at Chris Evans’ CarFest South festival. If you don’t know about this, it is a fabulous, family-friendly festival based around food, cars and music, with all proceeds going to Children in Need. It is held in the beautiful Hampshire countryside, at Jody Scheckter’s Laverstoke Park Farm, and we always have the most amazing time – so the pressure is always on D to try to buy the tickets for the next one as soon as they go on sale, as it generally sells out within 15 minutes! We had as great a time as ever this year, so there’s no let up for him!

Bigwheel Carousel

Helter Tank

2. We have tried various accommodation experiences during our four visits to CarFest. The first year we camped, the second we glamped, and last year and also this, we stayed in a nearby hotel. This is definitely my preferred option! This year, we stayed in a hotel in Basingstoke, which fitted the bill perfectly – it was an easy 20 minute drive from the festival site, was clean and comfortable, and had extremely friendly staff – all good!


3. As I said, one of the main aspects of the festival is the food. There is a Best of British marquee, which contains lots of stalls selling homemade produce, and has different demonstrations going on, whilst a lot of the site is taken up with stalls selling all sorts of food to keep you going throughout the weekend. You can get anything from pie and chips to curries, from burritos to churros, from Thai food to paella, etc., etc. – the choice is huge. My selections this year were a duck wrap on Friday, followed by pie and chips on Saturday, then roast chicken and potatoes on the final night. And we may have sampled a cheeky bag of gourmet popcorn at some point!

Food Sign


4. As well as the food, there are obviously drinks, and our favourite this year, making an appearance for the first time, was the Fever Tree Gin and Tonic stall. It did prove so popular that it constantly had a long queue (I did feel a little sorry for the Pimms stall next door, which was virtually empty for the whole weekend!), but it was worth queuing up for! My favourite drink was rhubarb gin with Fever Tree ginger beer – absolutely delicious.

Fever FT

5. The music was great again this year. Obviously we know some of the bands/artists better than others, but amongst our favourites this year were Sophie Ellis Bextor, The Feeling, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Bellowhead, and of course, the final two hours were absolutely amazing, with Take That, followed by a performance by Lord of the Dance, ending with a huge firework display. Just brilliant!



6. The final aspect of the festival, which is clear from the name, is the cars. There are car displays all around the site, ranging from stalls from manufacturers to old vehicles in the Vintage Village area, and then with some incredible cars to see both in the paddock and on the hill climb – classic racing cars, stunt cars, Chris Evans’ Dirty Dozen, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc. I’m not overly interested in cars as a rule, but I love to see them here, especially in action on the hill climb.

Car Cars Policecar

7. One of the things that makes such a huge amount of difference to a weekend like this is the weather, and we were incredibly lucky. There was some rain for an hour or so on the Saturday evening, but we had fortunately positioned ourselves under a shelter, so were fine and dandy, and then there was a brief shower on the Sunday evening, but, by the time we had got our coats and waterproof trousers on, it had stopped! It could have been very different, both during the day and the evenings, and we were very aware of this as it rained all the way home on Monday!


Haybale Phone Villagesign

8. We were lucky enough to be able to fit in one more swimming trip on Tuesday, amongst the chores of collecting new glasses for B, having his back-to-school haircut and packing, which was really nice. We took one of G’s friends and her sister, and they all had fun together.

9. Wednesday was the day we had been dreading for a while – taking B to his new school, where he is now boarding. However, the day went very smoothly and quickly, and there were no protracted, emotional goodbyes! B being B, he said goodbye with plenty of hugs, then just ran back into the building, so we didn’t have the time or opportunity to  get upset, which was a really good thing. We could have stood there hugging and crying, but it would have made us all feel so much worse, so the way it went was probably perfect. It would be good if he communicated with us to let us know how he’s getting on though!

10. So now it’s back to the routine of a new school year – obviously it’s a little different with B being away, but G was back at school on Thursday too, so it was a return to early mornings, school, work, back to walk the dogs before the afternoon school run, and straight back to piano lessons. Even though we have had an amazing summer, I do always quite like getting back to normal and having our routines, so it’s no bad thing.

So G and I have my niece’s hen party to look forward to this weekend, which should be lovely. I hope that you all have a great couple of days.