Wednesday, 8 September 2010

To blog or not to....

I miss not blogging, but struggle to make the time. This year I have spent less of my free time in the garden, but have been busier. I have been sewing and crocheting and selling fabrics on ebay. I have also tentatively started to run and joined the new gym in town to work on this. There is a girl at work who will run with me and row on the machines too. We may even enter a race if I can persuade her. 5k would be a good target for us.
Currently we are harvesting tomatoes, lots of them, beefsteak, plum and cherry. The raspberries have been brilliant this year and there are lots frozen for the winter months and delicious winter puds. The potatoes were not good this year and so next season we will rest the bed and fertilize it well. We have cabbages and courgette to come and have probably had the last of the cucumbers.
Now that I work four days a week there will be more time.
I was feeling at a very loose end recently about making things, sewing and being creative. It struck me that I should work on my beautiful Hawaiian quilt which has been put away for many years. No starting anything new, I want to use my things and what could be better? So for the last few days I have been working on it bit by bit and accept that it will take many months of patience to finish, but am so happy to be quilting again.
On Saturday I went to Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, with three friends. We attended a Quilter' Guild exhibition which was breathtaking, but I did NOT have my camera with me. Fired by the show and the fact that I am a member of the Guild now, I have a little dream that my quilt might have a chance to be shown one day.
Finally, I am loving work. It looks as though I may get a full-time contract and that is very positive. It is intense busy work and the days can be long, but given that I have one day off mid week, it is bliss.

Monday, 16 August 2010

West Wittering


The annual Mums Camp took place two days before the girls were to fly to Japan. This year we were newly added to the throng and were thrilled to be going. (Me more than the girls...all that fresh air, camping, beaches etc sounded fantastic.) There were 6 mums, 12 girls 4 boys and 2 dogs....The weather was hot, but windy and on day one, we all braved the water. Food was cooked on disposable bbqs and then the mums had a few relaxing glasses of wine while the kids ran around/listened to music in their tents and behaved like children. Bliss. The inflatable bed John bought me lurched around under me all night, it was like wrestling with a walrus and being in a sleeping bag meant no balance, so it was touch and go that I did not land on the girls who were asleep either side of me.
Day two was equally sunny and the plan was to swim most of the day, play rounders and have fish and chips for tea. At about 2pm John rang as he had just collected the girls' tickets from the travel agent to discover their flight was at 2pm the next day...Ihas planned to collect them on the morning of the departure...just as well he did it for me....As we still had packing and last minute things to take care of, we decided to go home. It was a bit sad, but we had fish and chips at the restaurent in town as compensation and an amazingly stress free evening getting ready.

The girls left for their long flight on time and are in the last days of over three weeks with their Dad and grandparents in Yokohama.
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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer holiday for two - Northern Cyprus

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John and I went on holiday together to Northern Cyprus where it was hot. A heat wave in fact, the hottest temperature it has been there on record. It was 46.6 in the shade! It was, despite the heat, an idyllic island where the pace of life makes you feel as though you are really living. The heat means that things move more slowly, but the people had a lovely serene approach to life. It was wonderful to see the men sit under trees, play backgammon, talk and smoke. Women too, in the doorways of their homes, in their shops, sitting and waiting for life and customers to come to them. It was nice not to be harassed to buy all the time. It happened in the harbour where restaurants compete for custom, but a simple no thanks usually got the response of 'OK mate, maybe another time'.
Nicosia is the capital, the only divided capital city in the world. There is a 'green zone', a UN buffer zone between the two halves. Since the war in 1974, the Turks have owned the north and the Greeks the south.

We stayed near Bellapais where Lawrence Durrell lived and wrote his book 'Bitter Lemons'. His house is there on Bitter Lemon Street, painted a pale yellow; and the restaurant where he wrote much of the book, is there still. It is 'The Tree of Idleness' and is opposite the old Abbey, now used for music concerts for artists from around the world. We had two meals in the restaurant and Turkish coffee and baklava there on our last afternoon.

Click on the collage to see closer images of the visit. More later.

Monday, 31 May 2010

May Bank Holiday - 2

We visited East Grinstead and over a coffee planned the week. Hannah's friend Hugh wants to get together in London, so there was a bit of arranging to do. I then left them to potter and got on with some errands.

Adam played with his band at a street festival in Haywards Heath and John went to see them. John called me on his mobile so that I could hear them. It was mowtown and very good.

In the evening they all went roller skating and it was a huge hit. They started off creeping around the wall, but by the end of the session, were out on the floor, wobbly, but skating. After dinner they had a parfait making session which was noisy, but they are all getting on well and that is what it is all about.

One of the pictures here is of my lovely hostas, favourite of slugs, so they really suffer at times. I spend a few minutes each day picking the beasts off them, but will not use slug pellets. A trip to Starbucks the other day was lucky as we were able to nab a bag of coffee grounds and apparently slugs hate them. Time will tell.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

May Bank Holiday - installment 1

Holiday, such a great word. We collected Mika and Shizuka from the school yesterday afternoon and had a reasonably quiet journey home as shyness reigned. However, we then raced off to the shopping mall and I think that helped with some girlie bonding. They are both 17, but there does not seem to be too huge a difference between what they like and what our two like.
There is of course a lot of Japanese and we have all agreed that mealtimes will be for English. It is however, brilliant to be using it so much!!

On the work front. The job is very interesting but the volume of work is huge. I have yet to take on two of the major parts of the job, scheduling the operations waiting list and monitoring the outpatients clinics and am aware that there is not enough time in one week to do all aspects. Since joining, everyone, including management and my consultant have said it is a two person job. Having said that, the previous secretary came for a visit this week. She had a break down and is off on sick leave on medication. She did say though, that she wants to come back in about two weeks. I had mixed feelings as I am keen on part time work, but she indicated that she would only need an assistant and that it was her decision about what parts of the job she would keep and what she would hand over. Odd.
It turned out though that both my team leader and my consultant want to keep me. Good for the ego and the bank balance, but I have been thinking long and hard and will be honest with them both.

I would be more than happy to be part of a two man team as I can see how one could be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work. I really want a small amount of breathing space in my life at present. Full time work like this is a buzz, but it takes a while to settle when I get home and I need my energy for the family and for myself so that I can enjoy life, not live to work.

All of this seems pretty obvious, but like many people, I have a tendency to take on too much and end up feeling wretched. This is the perfect chance to start the way I want to continue and maybe we can all be happy?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Things going on recently


Adam in concert, the girls in Yo! Sushi, Camden angel, gardens at Penhurst, Zoe and Francoise, iris in the garden, things on Bosley...Hannah's birthday cake...a few months late. Em and Emma, naughty cake in Lewes, Hannah's big shoe bag and with hair extensions.
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Bleary eyed

Writing a blog entry at 3 am! I miss the blogging, have loads of photos to put up and plan to do something about it over the weekend!
John is in Whitley Bay with his parents this weekend and Adam is away most of most weekends, so in theory, with fewer in the house there is more time to blog!
The weather has been hot and sunny, so the garden will need attention, we have two Japanese students arriving next Saturday, so the house definately needs attention, but watch this space for some pictures.

Sunday, 9 May 2010


Not having to work on Saturdays is great! John and I had a little potter in Godstone, then lunch in a pub and a trip to a garden centre where we went a bit mad...He was in London today catching up with a friend from Singapore, so Em and I went to a boot fair, where I got a big planter for the cucumbers and a tea towel..I am a sucker for linen! We then did a grocery shop and I finally got to plant some things out. I made a 'hot house' for the tomatoes, planted lettuce, iceberg and various other leaves, peppers and some flowers. I also put a spirea in a pot at the front door. The Japanese name is Snow Willow, (yuki yanagi) very pretty and apt, with its drooping branches full of white flowers. There is still so much to do, but at least it was a start today.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

one week

It is one week later and the work is intense and never ending. The learning curve is very steep. In my heart of hearts I did not want full time work and so I do this as well as I can, but feel as if I am counting the days until the old secretary returns in about a month (if she returns...)

The bit I love is the people bit. Everyone that comes across my desk is facing the worrying news that they MIGHT have a form of cancer. I speak to family and to patients. I am very much in awe of the men and women who treat them all.

Walking in to work today even though I have a lovely bright green nissan micra on the driveway. Very old, but such a delight to drive....we call it the frog!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The first training session at the hospital went well and tomorrow I will meet the consultant. He deals with skin cancers and I was warned that it can be quite 'heavy'.
I still feel happy to be given this chance and look forward to the challenge.
I have had a lovely few days with Em after school, Hannah has been revising for exams and riding her bike with her friends, so not so bothered about having mum to hang out with. Although she does like to know when I will be at home she says!
I miss not being here when the girls come home and the only regret about leaping into full time work again is the time one has to forfeit with family and home.
Tonight Celia came over and she kindly pinned the hem on my new trousers for me to sew up. How many years has it been since any of you have stood on a chair while someone pinned a hem? I felt like a child!
Emily finished a scarf for her grandfather who will be 80 next month and Celia helped her make a tassel for each end. She was thrilled and it looks brilliant.
John is coming home tomorrow and I will be glad to have him here. I am great on my own and have had years of practise, but it is nice to be part of a team.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Fates have their own agenda

At lunch time on Friday, just after posting the last entry, I received a phone call from the hospital asking me to take up a full time position as a Medical Secretary to one of the plastic surgery consultants on MONDAY!! It is full time for 4 months but may go on!!!
Talk about not seeing that one coming. I have agreed but managed to get a week's breathing space and to arrange some training beforehand...another sharp learning curve looms.

Work ended as usual with no fanfare, thankfully, and just after arriving home Francois and Zoe arrived.
We have been having a great time, yesterday we went to Dorking to see The Quilt Room and to potter. There are some good antique shops in the town and we enjoyed roaming around in the sun. Then we came home via Haskins garden center, where we spent hours (really) looking at and for plants, had a coffee break and I stocked up on compost! These two are heading back to Belgium with a car load of plants...
We had a great meal, prepared by John, when we got home then headed to a pub for a drink and a yarn. It was a good night!

Today it is Lewes and the Firle Garden Show. More later!

Friday, 23 April 2010

On Hold

I am afraid that the blog/crochet etc has been neglected as the drama of the sale of the office twists and turns before our eyes. Many, many tears all week.(Not mine...I am smiling). The place is fraught with tensions as we sit and wait to see if it will actually happen. It was supposed to take place today (Friday) but has been postponed. This is my last day in the office, my other colleagues have gone and I am very happy to be leaving.
There is so much to do and so much to look forward to.

Francoise and Zoe arrive from Belgium tonight for three days of garden shopping!! Yippee, excuses to go to garden shows, garden centres and even the church plant fair.

We had a visit from the PA to the Head of Rikkyo School yesterday to see if we are the right sort of people to take some of their students in the May hols and YES, we are! Very pleased about it. But it could be a challenge for John having four Japanese teenage girls in the house.

I am now Company Secretary of John Rutherford Consulting Ltd...and we exchange on the flat in Whitley Bay today so, lots and lots of good things.

To top it off we have had sunshine for weeks. The cherry tree is in full bloom, and England is beautiful.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A Little Pilgrimage

One of my long time dreams was to show Hannah and Emily where I grew up. Not easy as that included Nigeria and PNG, but we did have a house in Ireland and I did go to school there, and as that is where I come from, it was a thrill to be able to do that part of it.
When my parents were in Nigeria they came home in the UK summer every year and the holiday was timed in such a way that we were often sent to the local primary school for a few weeks. It was a two classroom school with grade 1 to 4 in one room and 5 and 6 in another! The playground was tarmac and it over looked the sea at the front and a golf course at the back.
I loved it. Once we all peered over the wall to see a seal wallowing in the shallows. Another time a classmate rode his horse to school, but was turned away at the gate by horrified teachers! He rode it home then walked all the way back.....
To see this little Mecca of mine, we drove from Newcastle to Portaferry and caught the boat over to Strangford. We then drove up the outside of the Strangford Peninsula to Cloughey...home of seals and small girls and small schools! It was in some ways so unchanged it was a shock. But once that had sunk in it was just such a happy reunion. We walked in the dunes and hid from John in the long grass! Went down to the beach and threw stones into the water and it was pure joy to find that some things stay the same. And even better that I could share it with the ones I love.

Monday, 12 April 2010


It was wonderful. It is without doubt a beautiful country. We were lucky in that we were in the Kingdom of Mourne, where the Mourne mountians rise from the sea. My aunt let us use her bungalow in Newcastle and from there we did a lot.

The trip took 14 hours. We left home at about 6:00 and drove to Holyhead in Wales, caught the ferry to Dublin and drove from there to Kilkeel, right at the foot of the Mournes. We dropped in to see my aunt and uncle, it has been many years since I have seen them and of course a first for John and the girls. The house they live in is lovely and they have been there nearly 50 years, so it is a house I have known all my life.
They are very kind, energetic, generous and enthusiatic people and John and the girls were wowed by the reception. Then my cousin and her husband arrived and they all swept us up to Newcastle along with a pot of hot vegetable soup. The bungalow they lent us was really beautifully fitted out with a working fireplace and a view up the mountains behind.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Best cure for anxiety

After posting the blog on Sunday I decided to take matters about the angst into my own hands. It is not good to feel unsettled and powerless at the same time. So, I did some serious deep breathing, some calming thinking and then headed out into the garden with John. It was lovely and warm, bumble bees were waking up and creeping out of bed and everything has little buds on it.
We planted some potatoes, this year they are Maris Peer and Wilja. I also started work on the front bed, which is already looking nicer.
On the whole the weekend was great. It was quiet and we were at home and it seems like a long time since we have been able to potter.
John and I went to see "I Love You Phillip Morris" as well, and really enjoyed it.

The hospital has written to say that they are offering me a job in the Admin Bank, great news, so after Easter, when I know more about what is going on here, I can make a decision.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

sunday morning angst

My colleague and I have discovered that the owner of the company where we work has agreed to sell it to a large chain in the same industry. It has been an unsettling time as we have not yet been told that in less than two weeks the company will be owned by someone else. My boss is an odd woman at the best of times, but it is amazing to watch her prepare information about the company and take phone calls outside on the pavement and NOT tell her two staff of her plans. It is made harder by the fact that two years ago she agreed to sell it to my colleague and has always promised her first refusal if it were to be sold in the future. How did we find out? Mostly by surmising, but also by the fact that when the temp came into the office last week to work at the boss's desk, she found an open letter to the buyer up on the screen!!
I am feeling a bit shaky. I have long hoped that my colleague would buy the shop and I would continue to work for her. I like the business, despite the crabby people we occasionally have to deal with.
However, to add to the drama, I had a job interview at the Queen Victoria Hospital at the end of the week. Mainly for the Admin job bank, so this means fill-in jobs on an on call basis. There is though, a job going in Admissions that the head of the department wants to up-grade to full time and she talked me through that as well. I will have an answer from the hospital after the trip to Ireland.
This trip is looming as a real oasis in a rocky period. Being jobless short term if it comes to that is fine. Working part time is fine. Gillian has plans to set up alone and take me on part time as well, so who knows. What I do not like is knowing what I know and waiting for someone for whom I have worked hard and trusted to simply tell me the truth.

Friday, 26 March 2010


Andrea left on Thursday and it was sad to see her go. She and Hannah spent the day in London on Wednesday with the other exchange students and had a good, but tiring day. It gave me a nice warm glow to think that we were able to have someone here, someone new, from a different country and to be part of her experience away from home.
Now that she has gone I really want to settle and look forward to IRELAND which is only days away.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Culture vs shopping

Dreadful weather on Saturday, but we took Andrea to Wickenden's (which is due to close in September)...(see the face book link here, to East Court to see the Meridian Line and then to Crawley to shop. This was a good move, the Norwegian girls had done their homework on line and had identified certain items in certain shops and off they went!!
The verdict was that Primark was like Heaven!!
Bowling followed and then a quiet evening at home.
Sunday dawned grey, but turned into a brilliant day. We were to take the train to Brighton, but good old British rail was not running trains to the coast, only buses. I took 7 girls on the bus with me and we joined two more at the beach.
Here is the parental comment. Two of the girls did not appear to be all that happy. They were with their homestay family and I offered to take the lot all around the lanes etc. I asked one if she would like to come shopping with us and she said "No". The other one did not speak, but came with us. In the end I had 9 girls, three Norwegians, Hannah and two classmates and Em and a classmate and her sister. It was hard going with no one wanting to sit near each other at lunch. I would not allow it. I pointed out to the English hosts that it was their responsibility to look after their guests and when I got a moan about them not being sociable, I pointed out firmly that it didn't give the hosts the right to behave the same way!!!
After lunch I let them break off into 3 groups and then all of us could potter around at leisure.
The day ended with a fun bus ride home and I think everyone had a good time in the end.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Homestay bits and bobs

Our Norwegian homestay student is lovely. She is called Andrea and she is 14. Right between the girls in age, interested in the same music, TV and books and a friendly cheerful girl.
On her first night here we went to see Hannah in the Whisps Concert at Worth Abbey. Five schools, Worth, Hazelwick, Imberhorne (that's us!) St Pauls and Sackville get together annually and their orchestras play together, then each school performs. The Church was huge and the acoustics stunning. They played The Big Country by Jerome Moross and it was great. The rest of the evening was brilliant too, with incredible performances of songs from Les Miserables by St Paul's school students who were as good if not better than anyone we have heard sing to date.
Hannah enjoyed the experience, meeting new friends, working together and all eating a meal together before the show.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Anniversary and more

The 18th of March was our third anniversary in England. We left Hong Kong on 17th and flew into snow and daffodils.
It was my half day off that day, and after work I raced home, threw on a dress and hopped on a train to Victoria station. There I met up with a very dear friend called Victoria...and we spent a frantic 90 minutes bringing each other up to date on news. She works in the Antarctic in the British winter and only flies back for short bursts throughout the year. We are very good at talking very quickly so that nothing is left out! After that I caught the tube to Westminster and met John. We went to a reception at the Foreign Office for recent retirees. The Foreign Office is a grand old building with coloured tiles and painted walls and it was real treat to be in there, especially as it was a farewell to John and his colleagues and we are not likely to be going back. Drinks and canapes, lots of new people to meet and some I already knew. Very nice evening. We split a ham and cheese baguette on the way home and it was not a late night.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Had a call from the Japanese boarding school today to let us know that they will be coming to 'vet' us next month. We have to show where the students will be sleeping and be interviewed and briefed about care.
I am a bit nervous! I do want it to work out for everyone, especially the girls concerned, ours and the two from the school.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Warm Sun

The last few days have been warmish...with sun. I went home for lunch today and John and I actually put the washing out on the line. Bosley was out rolling in the flower beds and it was so lovely I did not want to come back into the office...
I have some seed potatoes to chit and some bulbs to plant and am going to reorganise the flower bed at the front of the house this year. I like big showy plants like acanthus, but they were a bit too big for the space available last year. I think I want intense bursts of colour in clumps this looks good in my head, wonder how it will be in real life?

Monday, 15 March 2010

Survey results

We got the survey results back on the flat and it is ok. Not 100%, but then we did not think it would be. The outbuildings (sheds!) need some work, which we could see. The ceilings will need some work in the future, replacing maybe? and we need to ventilate it a bit better below ground level. I am still sure we can do all this and get a return, but will need to sit down with John and talk it through. One thing that surprised me is that it dates from the 1900's. So it is a Victorian conversion.
If the decision is not to go for it, I would be pretty ok about it as it is not for us to live in. But at the same time, I like the place. The only hassle is starting to look again. Not so easy from 350 miles away!
Mother's Day. Have never been a big fan as I think we love each other every day. However, the girls got me a lovely card and Sarah Water's latest novel so I was very spoilt. We went to T'Wells to shop and John worked in the garden. On the way home we bought him some snowdrops, galanthus elwesii and the galanthus nivalis. They look lovely.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Hectoring and Bullying

The letting industry is a service industry and that means being of service. It also sadly means being on the sharp end of many a tongue when people are not happy.
This is fine, it is part of the deal. But some people can try the patience of a saint with their demands, boorishness, arrogance and criticisms. One such delightful customer does not live in the country so we communicate by phone sometimes and email a lot. He is nothing but rude and bossy. I have just managed to get a legal case against him dismissed and today's email was to tell me that he WILL NOT accept the payment of utility bills while the house is empty. What does one say? The house was cleaned between tenancies, water was used, he pays. He is going to SORT THIS OUT when he gets back to England. The amount of time I spend calling the water board, appealing, writing letters and reporting back to him costs me and the company FAR more than the bill itself. Wouldn't it be say...take a hike mate!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Japanese summer

The girls' father has written saying he would like to fly them home for a few weeks over the summer. They will be delighted. They miss Japan and look forward to their visits. Their grandfather is turning 80 this year and he in particular wants to see them.
It saddens me that the girls live so far from their dad and grandparents now, but at least they do get to spend some time together.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Productive tortoise

How do some people do it? I am still getting up early to work on my crochet but have not listed anything since last week because I haven't finished anything!! I have got a few bits ready to sew and a piece of cake that needs decorating, so it can be listed soon, but despite efforts I am far from prolific. But I am not going to give up. I will be like the choice really.
The other big hassle is that the ideas come from my head (arguably a good thing). At first I looked for patterns to work from, but can no longer follow a pattern as I always end up working my own ideas. The down side is that being a newbie to the art, my technical level is a bit limited!
Ho Hum. Not really a big issue, but I am chomping at the bit here!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


We all have them, big and small. One of mine is to have a property portfolio! Reality, we have a mortgage, although, by Easter, we may own a two bedroom flat in North Shields! John and I saw two and chose one that we think we can rent out quickly. It needs very little doing to it (the survey has not been done yet though) and is likely to have reasonable resale potential...pending market developments etc etc etc! It is all a risk, but exciting.
The trip up North was busy, apart from house-hunting, we went to lunch with John's parents and then a drive to St Mary's Lighthouse where we had an icecream. The weather was so cold I could barely open my mouth to eat it!
Unfortunately we could not catch up with friends Chris and Judy as Judy was ill, but John and I caught the Metro to Newcastle, which is a lovely town. We had lunch, he bought me a beautiful piece of antique jewellry and then he headed off to watch Newcastle United play at St James Park. (They won 6-1!!). I browsed through the shops and had a great time.
John's sister is in real estate, and it was through her we got our wonderful flat, so we celebrated with her, her husband and J's parents. Champagne all round.
The sun was shining on Sunday and I wanted to stay and do a walk somewhere in the area, but we had a 5 hour drive to do to get home to our girls and Adam. A good weekend.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Away Days

John and I head up north to see his parents around lunch time tomorrow. Adam is in charge on Thursday night and there is excitement as the local Pizza House, a hot favourite with our lot, has now got a DELIVERY service which they plan to test!!
For the rest of the weekend, my brother and his girlfriend are due...they are on holiday at present so let's hope they have not forgotten.
I am not good at leaving my children full stop. Separation anxiety is the name for it, and anxious I get. They of course do not get anything other than excited!
We plan to see family, see some friends, and to look at two properties as we are in the market for an investment. More on this later...big steps for us and we have long been used to getting by and we budget and save. If it works out, it will be nice.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Norwegian Connection

A Norwegian high school student is coming to stay with us for a few days this month.
It is all fairly short notice,and was only confirmed today, but is part of an cultural exchange between the school and its counter-part in Norway. It means Hannah gets to go to Norway next year. LUCKY GIRL...wish it was me!
We are still waiting for details, but I am looking forward to it. We had such a lovely girl from Holland stay last year, and we have two Japanese students due at the end of May. United Nations in the 'burbs!

Monday, 1 March 2010

New Tack

Lots of good food this weekend... We had dinner with friends in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, in a pub called The George. Drinks at their house before that and it was a great evening. Stormy weather was forecast, but it held off till Sunday morning. John and I ventured up to Croydon where we popped in to Wing Yip for a few goodies from the bakery. Curry bread, red bean cake, steamed pork buns and a sesame and coconut ball....the pork buns and curry bread made for two very happy girls. Then we had lunch at An Nam, the Vietnamese restaurant in the complex. Fabulous food, and lots of it, so much that we had to ask for doggy bags.
We dropped into Furniture Village to see John's sister and collect two bags of hand me downs from her daughter and again trailed around looking for sofas and not finding anything that we both like!!
We did both agree though, that we do not utilise our time as well as we could, so from this morning we have decided to get up an hour earlier every day, for me to crochet and to listen to the news in Japanese and for John to walk to the newsagents for the paper and to watch the business news.
I got one of my projects finished and it will be on the Flickr Photostream later in the day.
Finally, the weather is glorious this morning.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


There are times when a rejection letter gets tossed aside with nary a care and times when the 'not this time' sits heavy in the air for an hour or two.
The latter this morning. Another no to a job application. Not the end of the world...after all I do have a job. I think it is a combination of things. The 'no' I can live with, but I am increasingly more frustrated that I am not able to make more of my creations and write more patterns for crochet. If I am honest, I am not making more time for this so maybe it is time to start being ruthless? I am saving up to have a web site designed for me. Sounds extravagent, but I want to sell the things, the patterns and other stuff and think a web site will help. Who knows.
I worked on something new this week and should get it up on Flickr over the weekend.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Emerald Isle

I was born in Ireland, but have not visited since 1990.....until this year. John, the girls and I are off for a week at Easter to see the old country, to visit some of the places I remember from my childhood and to see some family. We will be sailing into Dublin, staying in Newcastle and I hope, covering some ground. I also want to climb Sleive Donard - Northern Ireland's highest mountain at 850m!!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Crashing Start

John and Adam went and collected Adam's new (to him) car on Friday. A red Fiat Punto in great condition. John took me for a spin to Lingfield in it on Friday night. Fun thing, but would not like to do a long distance drive in it.
The sad part of this story is that before Adam even got into the car for the first time on Sunday afternoon, a neighbour came out of her house to say that she had reversed into in and dented the front bumper and cracked a light. It was a big shock, and it will be repaired, but poor lad was upset.

Other news is that Alice in Wonderland ended with standing ovations and the girls are now talking about auditioning for next year's show, even though they don't know what it is yet.

Finally, we are planning a trip to Ireland. More later!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Musical Debut

Tonight is the first night of the musical Alice in Wonderland at Chequer Mead with Hannah in the role as the punk card and Emily, the bear. (Yes, bear, this is an extra special version of the story). They have worked hard to learn their songs and dances and last night came home with remnants of make-up on from the first on-stage run through. They have a list of things to buy and take with them today, hair nets, hair pins, make-up wipes etc. John is in charge as I am at work till 1pm. He is coping with all the girly stuff very well and has been sending them off to rehearsals with great packs of healthy food to keep them going.
Sadly, rumour has it that sales of tickets are low, but I am sure the weekend performances will have good turnouts.
We are going to get them a bouquet of flowers each. We want them to feel like stars.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Sisterly greetings

My youngest sister lives in Darwin, NT, outback Australia. It is a pretty coastal town and she lives across the vast harbour in a smaller quieter settlement. She commutes to town by ferry.
She sent an email with photos and I thought they would be of her sons. But as you can see here, this one is of a huge saltwater crocodile being fed by boys at one of the stations in the Territory.
Crocodiles get to be this size as there are no natural predators, (except when they are eggs and small enough for birds, pigs, dingos as well as fish and other crocs to take them). Over a certain size it gets harder. Hunting them is banned as they were once hunted to near extinction. Now there is talk of introducing game hunting and or a cull.
They have always caused a tiny element of terror in me. They can jump almost as high as their body length, can out run a man, stay underwater for 30 mins and swim extremely fast. No getting away!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Insects standing?

In the old Japanese lunar calendar there are some lovely dates. One is called Standing Insects. Early in the year, as the soil warms, insects begin to move about. As we just had Setsubun.... the beginning of the Spring...we threw peanuts out into the garden along with all the bad luck and chucked a few back in with some good luck, for a good year...there is bound to be the odd insect stirring!
Me too, my gardening bug is stirring as well. Despite the flurry of snow we had last night, it is clear that things are happening out there.
Daffodils and crocii shoots, buds on the hydrangea and other plants. It makes me want to start digging. I have my eye on some seed potatoes and need to cut back the Autumn Bliss raspberries. These are amazing things, we had so much fruit from 4 skinny canes last year. There are still berries in the freezer.
Longer days and more digging time, What will happen to the amigurumi and quilting?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Great News

John set up his own limited company last week and yesterday landed his first consultancy job. This is very exciting news for all of us. Making the decision to leave a life time job to go it alone is a big one. Both of us felt it was right, but one does have to have nerves of steel and a lot of determination to get out there and market oneself. Well done dear!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Smelling the roses

Feeling a little flat today. Like a balloon that has lost some air. It was a common feeling before the diagnosis and even though I think the medication is really helping, some days just take more energy to get through! I am not wearing the hoodie of gloom though. My mood is fine, I just want to be at home resting.
All my life I have been told that I need to slow down. Parents, friends, colleagues, John even, think I race around and would benefit from dropping a gear or two. In some ironic way, my body has put its foot down and just will not let me get as crazy as I used to! (Well, I am still fired up all the time, just not as quick!!)
In some way I quite like that I feel slower. I notice more and fret less. I love my life more and get so much pleasure from the girls and Adam, not to mention John.
It can't be a bad thing to learn to slow down and take more care and to live a more in tuned life.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Hoodie of Gloom

The Hoodie of Gloom is worn a lot at our place at present, mostly by our youngest. She is often tired, down, apathetic and overwhelmed by tasks like tidying her room, (the mess has to be seen to be believed), practising the clarinet, or even calling up a friend to hang out with.
My take is that she is a teen, a girl and moody and I do all I can to reveal the child of joy that lurks under the hoodie.
John has been getting worried though and today we called the school to see if they could give some advice, and maybe even get the counsellor to talk to her. The head of year says that it sounds like a teen thing, but she will put feelers out and do what she can to find out if all is well so that we can take it from there.
I still like to think she is a teen and that her life is full of angst that is big and scary and relevant to her and hope that she will find the inner strength and confidence to put it into perspective and realise how lovely she is and that life too is not that bad.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

craft bee

Celia came last night for our Wednesday night session and everyone got into it.
She is knitting clothes for a doll, little red leggings, which are very sweet. Em decided to make a mouse with blue and brown felt and Hannah revealed that she is working on a cushion cover at school with a complex design based on the frog in the film Spirited Away. She drew a picture of what it looks like and between her and Celia, they worked out how she could embellish it. This meant raiding my box of Japanese fabrics that I love so much and never use. She has found two pieces to add to the cushion. Can't wait to see it.
I started work on crocheting PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS, lovely orange ones from Sainsbury's! I am making a shopping bag...anyway, it is interesting doing something with a thick hook and with a texture that is new. I am convinced it will work but at this early stage it looks like a tacky place mat!
On a more humble note, while researching how to do this I found a video on the 'Net about a group of women in Africa who make bags the same way. They were poking through their local rubbish for filthy old bags and even scraps of plastic. They took them back to the village, washed and dried them on a line and then made some wonderful totes, bags and purses with beautiful designs. Since seeing that one I have seen a lot more about communities who recycle waste to make the most beautiful, practical items.
Humbling indeed and a lesson to be learnt.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Awe and admiration

Amigurumi are fine for what they are, and are fun to make, but I only want to make them to sell, give away or as a teaching aid if ever someone wants me to teach them how! I would not want my house full of the things. Crochet too still has the tendancy to make me think of doilies. In my research (pouring over images on Flickr and reading craft blogs...i.e. hours on the 'Net) I sometimes come across blogs that blow me away.
My favourite one is Dragonfly, see the list of blogs I follow. It is beautiful to look at and the author comes across as someone I would like to know. It is odd reading a stranger's blog, but then again, they are out there to be read. Yesterday I found another one called Gooseflesh The range of her work is astounding, and the colours give me thrills! Have a look and see. One thing about her photos, before I discovered that she is based in Sydney, is the light in them. I kept looking at them, thinking she was an American artist, but the flora and even the fauna (a brahmin bull?) were so AUSTRALIA. And on her profile it says she is from Sydney. I was pleased. I love the light in Australia, and maintain it is like nowhere else. My sister is a landscape artist, based there and she agrees.
Enjoy these two blogs. I do. Just wish mine was as inspiring. That sets me a challenge.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Less TV although not none!

Last night after dinner I sat in the kitchen and assembled some of the amigurumi. A rabbit (ugly thing), a bee...(very nice) and a penguin which was a disaster and which I unpicked. Oh, and a cup cake too.
I was determined to do something with my time and not waste it in front of the box. Good call as Em stayed with me the entire time and we played with Bosley and had a good evening.
I am still bursting with ideas and must just get on and do them, so less TV if not none. (I sat and watched The Wire with Adam and John that show, but felt as if I deserved it).
The images are on Flickr and I was pleased to see that there were 2 views on two of the animals. No comments, but it is a start.
Tonight is trampoline...I am loving this.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

One down, 11 to go

The end of January. We went to friend's for dinner last night. Delicious meal and good fun. They have two daughters the same age as ours, at school together, so it was noisy.
John and I loved that the meal was all done as we had spent the afternoon moving the furniture in the dining room to create a better working area for John. This was not a stress free activity as we see everything from very different angles.
It was a late drive home under the full moon and absolutely freezing.
This morning we set off for Oxford at about 10:00 and met up there with ex-HK friends for lunch at the White Hart in Fyfield. Great food, good natured staff and lots of laughs.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Hard habit to break

In the book by Duncan Bannantyne about starting a business, he recommended getting rid of the TV. His reason is simple. It wastes time. He claims he meets so many people who want to change their lives and who say they have no time. He then says if he asks the same people what they watched on TV last night, they can list the programs!! Had they not watched all that TV, there would have been more time.
I KNOW the man is right. I loved my first share flat when we had no TV. We talked and made things and it was great. Then the TV came and the relationships were put on hold. (I must point out here that I was agin the TV!)
I am guilty of the same. I sit at work feeling frustrated that I am not getting on with my projects and vow to do something when I get home. Then last night was a prime example of time wasting.
I cooked a great meal for John and I when I got home. Liver, red onions and gravy. Chorizo tossed in spinach, mushrooms, peas and we had left over mash!
Then we ate it in front of the TV (normally a family no no) and watched the box till 11. All the time my little crochet project was at my feet being ignored. No wonder I don't get things done.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


To celebrate, the girls and I made Lamingtons.....lots of phaffing around, but it was so worth it.
Today we all brought them to work/school to show off the Aussie delicacy. If anyone wants a good recipe, try Stephanie Alexander's.

As I am about to eat cake, it brings me to the boring topic of weight and my lament that I am tubbier than I have ever been (except when pregnant).
But the news is not all bad. My doctor phoned with the results of some tests and I have hypothyroidism. OK so not fab news, but treatable and it explains why I have been feeling so off for so long.

Ho hum - pills to take forever, but maybe I can lose some weight after all..

Monday, 25 January 2010

Dragging my feet

For some time I have wanted a new job. There is too much aggro in this one. But boy do I drag my feet. Then I get fed up when I do apply for something and do not even get a response. (Still waiting to hear from my most recent target!!)
The lastest is another admin job requiring a typing speed pf 60 wpm, minimum. I can manage about 45, BUT, I can do everything else they want and more. Why then do I not just write the cover letter instead of this blog and get my application out there? Is it a case of the devil I know?
Truth be told, it is hard work to sell oneself in a cover letter...they see that and the CV, but it is also easier not to and to tell myself my age is against me, or my experience etc.
By the end of today I need to have a letter in draft form That is my goal!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Something gave

This morning it struck me that it was time to face the grim truth that I am not going to wear my skinny jeans has been a long time coming, an unwelcome thought that I avoided as best as I could for some years now. The fact is that not only were they skinny jeans for the skinny version of me, but the skinny me was so thin because of extreme stress. As marriage one unravelled, I seemed to get smaller and smaller. It was great being thin, but to be so small again would mean a repeat of the level of anxiety that pared me down and or starvation and both would be unbearable.
I decided the best thing to do was to go and buy myself a pair of decent jeans that fit the me now and say goodbye to the pair that fit the me then. I did it and am not thrilled, but realise that at least they fit, are comfy and that finally I have jeans to hang out in.
I had my hair cut today as well. It is lovely; and Dawn, my hairdresser has done a brilliant job again. While waiting for the colour to absorb I read a magazine that advised exactly what I had done. Accept the new size of me and get rid of the stuff that does not fit and makes me feel large.
I then read about DE-CLUTTERING...this is my dream. To get rid of THINGS. So I got home and emptied the wardrobe, bagged up half the stuff (it went to the charity shop, I did not even hang onto it for a boot sale) and dumped the things that are worn out, or too ugly to wear. It felt good, but the fact that all that labour made such a little dent in the clutter mountain was a trying to see it as positive. It can all be done.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


It has been some time since I have felt myself. Being ill at the beginning of the month took its toll. Since then things have just not been right!
My doctor made me laugh when she said it might just be my age and the fact that I am a full time working mother! However, I am at the stage where I want to know if things are in perfect working order and if they are not, what can be done about it.
I have been walking to and from work most days and walking at lunch time. The truth is I want to shift some of this middle aged spread that has settled itself so comfortably on my frame....wonder how it got there? With the extra bulk it is probably only natural that one feels less like oneself. I like the fact that I eat healthy food and exercise, but am not so happy that my body is misbehaving. Let's just hope it is my age!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Dogs decide

I took someone to see a tiny furnished annexe on Saturday. He has two female Jack Russell dogs (one with some Dalmation in it, so it was spotty). The owner of the annexe also has a Jack Russell, a male called Patch. The idea of the viewing was to see the flat (about 2 minutes) and to see if the dogs all got along (about 20 minutes)! Patch was not too sure at first, but it was not long before there were some attempts at running and playing together. I am not sure if the man will take the flat, nor if the landlords want him, but all agreed that the dogs would be happy if it goes ahead!

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Thanks for the comment. Odd question, but who are you? Am I thinking you might be a Hanshin Tiger's fan?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Disturbing email

I received an email this morning which really disturbed me. It was about the boys who murdered James Bulger, the little boy who was taken from his mother in a shopping centre. Nothing justifies what they did, but this email asked me to sign my name to a petition preventing the culprits from being moved to Australia and being give life time anonymity. It came from someone I know, someone I have done quite a lot for over the years and I think what disturbed me is that without any thought to how I might feel about such a contentious issue, or how much I even knew about the facts (other than the 'facts' presented in the email), she assumed that I would sign the thing and pass it on.
Child abuse by anyone, adult or child is something I feel strongly about. If it were my child that died, who know what I would feel? Perpetrators should be punished, but something about this email smacked of the braying mob, of vigilantes who want someone to harass and who see themselves as right and possibly even righteous. All it did was repel me. They have not helped their cause, with me anyway.
There is a place for debate about what happens to those who have served their time and need to be moved back into society. It is not in large lettered, self important emails sent to 'friends'.
On a daily basis atrocities occur. I do not want to bury my head in the sand about them, but cannot see that this type of movement does anything to change or improve society.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

More of the same

8 days of snow. Hannah made it to school this morning only to be sent home! Em was due to leave as there was a delayed start, so she is now in the garden, playing.
An articulated lorry has slid off to the right of road at the top intersection in town and is resting agains the railings! My doctor has cancelled my appointment and so far I am the only one who has made it into work.
John fortunately has a teleconference from home this morning and does not have to be anywhere, other than at his computer and Adam, who left early to catch the bus to college, was spotted, the lone passenger on the bus coming back from college by me on the way to work!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Young Lady

Hannah is 15 today. She came in to see us this morning and I thought how beautiful she is! Full of youth and excitement. I was very proud and happy.
She went off sledging again with her friends, but tonight we will have her choice of meal and a special dessert. She is missing her day in London today with her friends, eating sushi and going to Camden Market. We have postponed that outing for a fortnight.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Snow Bunnies

I am out of bed ...yippee. It is so good to be dressed and up and being normal-ish again.
The snow still lies thick and falls intermittently, the wind is up, the country is paralysed if you believe the news...but it is beautiful. School and college have been cancelled for the last 3 days, fine as long as you are not doing GCSEs or A levels. I think my office has been closed for that long as well. No one answered when I rang this morning, at least.
The girls have been out in the snow everyday and it is great to see these teenage girls, being girls. Falling about in snow, sledging, snowballing and for hours on end.
Photos of both of mine, some friends and the snow bunny in our did not last long as someone used his head as a large snowball.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Bed and bug ridden

I have had a day in bed, the second working day of the year and finally both Adam and I succumbed to the dreaded bug that J has had for weeks. It was frustrating but useful. I get so bored being ill and fed up that I can't DO anything. So today, between naps I read most of Duncan Bannatyne's book Wake up and Change your Life. A book for those who want to start a those sort of books and get such a kick out of reading them. Gets my head buzzing. I also started a penguin and a pig for the menagerie of amigurumi and wrote out my first pattern.
Annoyingly the Japanese computer seems to have a worm and it is useless. I need to get a new one, a second hand one even, but we need a Japanese computer for the girls and for me to do research on. And to write patterns on!
I am off back to bed soon but will no doubt toss and turn all night with all this energy.
More snow expected overnight and there is talk the schools may close. The BBC local forecast was for light snow in this area. No sign of it yet.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sunny Sunday

I have a bit of a gloomy pit in the gut about having to go to work tomorrow! It has been such a great holiday season. All that time for family and walking and crochet and relaxing. Still, plans are afoot to get out of the rut this year.
This is the today's animal, a little duckling. My head is still full of lots of other things to do. I must get off the computer and do them! The internet has to be life's second biggest distraction after TV, although TV I can live without.
I plan a walk past Mt Noddy today...not a mountain but a hill; it is a good course though.
John is STILL battling with his cold three weeks after it got here and sounds worse than ever. He will not be joining me.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

John celebrates his birthday today. We had a great morning talking to friends in Australia on Skype. Adam then made John a huge full monty breakfast, soon to be a thing of the the past, as they both go onto healthier diets and exercise regimes next week...will I join them?
I walked to the rugby club this afternoon up hill and down dale as my effort to get fitter. Met up with John, Adam, his friend and his friend's father for the last part of the last half of the game. Then a beer in the club house!
The breakfast shot is here:

Friday, 1 January 2010


Happy New Year to all. Hope you were able to celebrate in the way that you liked. We had a quiet evening (after a long day shopping in London), with my brother, his girlfriend and the girls. We watched Shakespeare in Love, SUCH a good film even after more than four veiwings, and then watched the countdown in London with the fireworks at the London Eye. So very glad we were all here snug and warm.
Our day in London was a date for John and I and we shopped for clothes. It was not as crowded as we expected and we took lots of detours and back streets to cover the areas we wanted to see. We went to Liberty's of London, which is one of my all time favourite shops and I got inspired to make things again this year.
We ate in the Tokyo Diner, just love it in there and love it that I can talk to the staff and use Japanese.
This morning there is a rugby DVD on, John's early birthday present, so I excused myself and made this little bloke. He is about the size of an egg and his partner is half done already...I am making two of each of my critters.