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Happy Friday 12.02.16

Well, we reach the end of another nice week, so here’s a little round up of some of the things that have made me smile over the past few days:

Salad

  1. A variety of food! This seems like such a simple thing, but it is one that most of us in this country take for granted. At the moment, I’m trying to eat healthily during the week, so I loved the lentil-based salad I had on Friday, but then weekends are for some treats! Chocolate brioche for breakfast anyone?

Brioche

2. G has developed a sudden interest in baking this week, and has made two cakes over the past few days – the chocolate chip one below at the weekend, then a red velvet one on Tuesday – and they have been enjoyed by all!

Cake

3. I had a lovely day out in London on Sunday, which was a real treat. Since my friend returned to the UK last year after several years of living in Europe, we had been talking of meeting up in the capital for the day, but the occasion of her birthday prompted us into action! We had such a lovely day – my trains were on time, so we met up as planned, and filled the day by sitting in cafes drinking tea and catching up, with a great theatre trip in the middle. As it turned out to be so easy to meet up, I’m sure that we’ll be doing it again!

Station

4. As I mentioned, we went to the theatre in the afternoon, at Kings Cross Theatre, to see The Railway Children (http://railwaychildrenlondon.com/). It was a fantastic production, so cleverly and uniquely performed and directed, with fabulous performances from each and every one of the cast – including the real steam train, which was very impressive! A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, without a doubt!

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5. So, bizarre as this may sound, another thing that has made me happy this week is cancelling our summer holiday! We had booked to stay in a beautiful, luxurious gite in the south of France in July, but, for a number of reasons (mainly the costs, which were adding up with expensive flights, car hire, food, etc., and the situation of being left with no one to look after the dogs after we were very badly let down by our dog-sitters), we just didn’t feel as good about it as we should have done, so decided to cancel it. Strangely, when I then went to remove it from our online calendars, which we use for everything we have planned, I spotted that I hadn’t even put it in the calendar, which maybe says a lot? Anyway, as soon as we had made the decision, and also decided that we would go to our beloved Norfolk instead, I felt so much happier!

6. The added bonus of cancelling our holiday to France means that we can now go to Carfest! Well, D and I can go, as the children will be in France staying with their exchange family, but again, this seems a little like fate, as D had bought the tickets for Carfest North after not being able to buy any for Carfest South, where we have been for the past four years, not realising that we would be in France that weekend. Hurrah!

7. An amazing thing that happened this week, which has made me so happy, is that I have re-established contact with an old university friend, whom I haven’t seen for about 9 years and who is now based, with her beautiful family, in South Sudan. I was so pleased to find her via her blog, which I used to contact her, and then received the most lovely email back. It’s so good to find someone from your past again, isn’t it? And I will make sure we don’t lose touch this time!

8. I know that this one features every now and then, but you can’t beat finding a good book to raise your spirits, and I have read two this week (largely thanks to my train journeys to and from London!). The first, which I read for my book club, was The Tea Planter’s Wife, by Dinah Jefferies, which I really loved. The descriptive writing in it was so vivid, and I found the story was certainly intriguing enough to make me want to read more – and I didn’t at all predict the ending, unlike some members of my book club! Secondly, I am reading The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne. I have not quite finished this but am enjoying it so much- it’s definitely one of the most unputdownable books I’ve read in a long time! The intrigue and cliffhangers at the end of almost every chapter are fantastic, and I can’t wait to find out the ending.

9. My de-cluttering continues, so I was very pleased to take 12 bags of clothes, shoes and bags to the recycling centre yesterday. It’s so great to feel that everything is now so much more organised. I still have some areas to tackle, but I’m getting there. (If anyone knows of any school/organisation/family that would benefit from a carrier bag  of pencil crayons, felt tips, pens and pencils, please do let me know though, as I don’t want to just throw them away.)

10. Last but not least, the children finish for half term today, which is lovely. It’s only been a very short half term, but we are all looking forward to B coming home today and us having a nice week together.

Have a great weekend  everyone!

Happy Friday 06.11.15

Well, we are now firmly in November, and what a foggy, wet start to the month we’ve had. Let’s hope that we see a return to the beautiful autumnal weather we had been experiencing until recently. Anyway, let’s get to this week’s happy things!

1. D and I had a very rare night out last Friday, enjoying a gift we were given last Christmas – an introduction to wine tasting evening! Never having done anything like this before, we didn’t really know what to expect, but we had such a good time. It was a pretty relaxed affair, with a very mixed group of 17 tasters, led by a great expert called Debbie. She was incredibly informative, pitching the level of detail and information at just the right level, and providing a good range of six very different wines, three white and three red, for us to taste (along with a nice selection of bread, cheese and chorizo!). We came away feeling a lot more knowledgeable, at the very least about the differences between old and new world wines.

Wine

2. As we were out in Derby (and had paid for a taxi!), we decided to make the most of it and head off for another drink somewhere. However, it was Friday night, so most of the places we walked past were very busy and noisy – not really our cup of tea – but we then stumbled upon Quad, where we could see the bar looked pretty calm and quiet, so headed in there. Just inside the door, however, we spied a sign for a cocktail bar on the top floor, so made our way up there. It was a pop-up bar, there for the screening of Spectre, and was run by two lovely guys from the Rested Cocktail Company. This was far more “us” – apart from the barmen, we were the only ones there, so we had a couple of cocktails (gin martini for me!) and a nice, quiet chat – lovely!

3. Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day, weather-wise, so we headed out in the afternoon for a lovely family walk to Calke Abbey. The views around the Abbey and Staunton Harold reservoir are stunning, so it is a lovely place to walk, and was made even more special by the sight of the majestic red deer. It was a truly lovely family afternoon.

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Family Deer

4. One of the other highlights from the weekend was playing games with B. He has always loved playing board games, and it is always such a nice thing to do with him.

5. So- very simple things – one of the highlights of this week is that it is now November! Yay! Of course, that means that it is Christmas NEXT MONTH, which is so exciting!

6. Sunday saw me heading up the M6 in the fog to deliver B back to school, which, in itself, is not a particularly happy thing, but the fact that he was fine about going back made us all very relieved and thankful.

7. So Monday wasn’t so happy when I returned home from work to find out that we’d had an attempted break-in. However, I am truly grateful for both the response of the police (who sent Scenes of Crime out straightaway; an officer visited the next day to look around and talk to the neighbours; I was contacted by Victim Support and then visited by the Crime Prevention Team who put window alarms on all our downstairs windows and offered advice) and by our insurance company, who had someone out to secure the property very quickly and then sent the assessor round just two days later. We feel incredibly lucky that it was no worse and that we have received so much subsequent support.

8. Our treat on Tuesday night was trying a new drink which had been given to us by a colleague at work –  Fentiman and Bloom Gin. One was simple gin and tonic, and the other gin with rose lemonade, which was particularly good.

Gin

9. Obviously one which happens very regularly, but getting into a bed with freshly laundered sheets and bedding this week – just heaven!

10. The final one for this week is the fact that G is enjoying attending Army Cadets so much. She really looks forward to the two sessions each week, and is particularly  excited now, as her uniform has arrived, which she has been waiting for, so she is looking forward to wearing it to sell poppies on Saturday.

cadet

So, that was my week in a nutshell. What has made you happy this week?

 

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!

FD

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.

Lasagne

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!

Lottie

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 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!

HH1 HH2 HH3

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.

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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?

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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.

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TD2 TD4

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.

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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.

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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!