Wednesday, 31 August 2011


A day of lists:

Make up beds for our wonderful girls and their granny who are heading back from Japan on Friday - this is currently a WIP, as the boys have not removed their painting kit from Em's room and her furniture is all over the place and the mattress covers for Han-solo are still damp.

Post ebay items

Ironing (she slumps sobbing to her knees....the pile is so BIG)- It is a lot smaller now, but there is a basket lurking under the stairs as I write this...

Some baking maybe.....? Not today chubby!

Some culling of things

Some watering of listless plants and pruning of sickly roses
Maybe it will rain later?

Cleaning - gotta be done - sparkling bathroom.

and in all of this some time to CROCHET - if one square counts?

and to nap.

Oh, and time to read all my favourite blogs and get inspired.

I also cooked, walked to the shops, posted a pile of clothes to my dearest friend's Boos in Japan, went to the veg stall and took a pile of stuff to the charity shop.

Now relaxing with a decaf coffee and about to go and watch the next half of The Great British Bake Off...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Back from the Borders

We got as far as Keilder in our travels this weekend. Border country, home of the Reivers, a lawless lot of cattle rustlers, raiders and thieves. Both Big J and I descend from these people! What can I say?

I did a bit of raiding in the local charity shops and came away with a pretty good haul, some clothes and some things for the house. We now have a very TIDY telephone area. It's looking good.

We also visited Bellingham where we stayed with friends and visited the show. No witch, alas, and in fact, the livestock consisted of four chickens, two ducks, three doves and two ferrets! Not a pig, cow or sheep to be seen. Many, many border terriers though, and it was a good day out for dogs and all.
I felt very Kirsty Allsop in my purple Hunters, green coat (it was cold) and with my shopping basket.
We had two nights with Big J's mum - who is amazing considering her recent loss, and enjoyed a few walks along the beach at Whitley Bay. Very blustery, but it is a lovely area.

GREATLY inspired by the beautiful home we stayed in in Bellingham, Big J and I had "a talk" and now it is time to get out the paint swatches and fabric samples to redecorate our room and the best bit.... get rid of the nasty, nasty carpet, which was WHITE and is now GREYISH, and covered in odd marks. (We inherited the carpet, just for the record, although we might have added one or two little marks to it...).

This is a big challenge for moi, as I lack that ability that some folk have to turn a cave like space with books spilling over the floor, shoes - yes I do have a lot of shoes - and the blue basket with all the socks that do not have homes, into a "restful retreat for me and my man"... watch this space.

And finally, I crocheted on the train up to Newcastle, and in the car and those little squares are all nearly done.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

All by myself......

All by myself
Don't wanna be
All by myself
Anymore for a little while

Been feeling like belting out this old number because I am

all by myself......wooooah wooooo woooo

apart from Bosley

and I do like to be by myself sometimes.

Although I have just spoken to Big J and have had Dawn here doing my hair.... which looks lovely. Pity I have to lie on it all night and make it look weird.

And anyway, I have to pack for my trip on a Virgin train to Newcastle tomorrow. Love long distance trains and travelling.

Wellies (aubergine coloured Hunters, my pride and joy) and walking boots are in the car with Big J who is up North already, and we are going to the Bellingham Show to see the country fair witch - this sounds exciting. Will she be paraded around and pelted with veg?
Here is the blurb from one of the sites on Google:

"Come and make our 2011 Show a really special occasion. There will be events for all the family to take part in. Of course we will have our traditional attractions within the country fair witch include sheep, hounds, terriers etc and on the main show field the horse and pony events together with a large number of trade stands and not forgetting the live music with plays in the beer tent."

It gave me a little thrill.

On a crochet note, the remaining squares that have been frogged are coming with me too. The blanket is slowly taking shape. SLOWLY.

Have a fun weekend people.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Flip flops and fine dining

While walking around Hyde Park the heel of my shoe fell off, so I borrowed flip flops from new mum to wear for the rest of the day. Already chuffed to bits by little Ava, Big J and I set off for St Paul's Cathedral , the iconic domed building that says LONDON! A first visit for me, and although it was too late to go into the Whispering Gallery, it was still exciting.
In the sunshine the building is stunning...
We then walked along the South Bank and saw this sulky straw fox up above us
Isn't it great? although his nose is a bit grotty now.
By the time the sun was low in the sky we had had enough of schlepping and it was time to eat.
We ended up in Simpsons-in-the-Strand, in flip flops and sneakers dining on oysters and beef Wellington. What a treat. Chandeliers, waiters in coat tails, silver service and outstanding food. You may be thinking the place has gone to the dogs, letting in the hoi poloi, but we did ask about our dress and were told that we were fine!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Introducing Ava Eloise

Here she is. Very pretty and tiny. Big J and I were smitten, completely. Mum and Dad are doing brilliantly and it was wonderful to spend time with all three of them. Brother, Big J and I took her for a walk in Hyde Park, only four days old...very young for the Koen Debut (Park debut)....a significant event in the life of a baby in Japan!! A coming out - not of the kinky kind - a first public appearance in fact. Ava is already showing tendencies of being an outdoorsy lass. Barely a peep the whole walk! See below:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

She's here....

Nothing like the arrival of a new baby to distract one from a long list of
'Things that have to be done on my precious day off because I am too lazy have no time to do them on other days of the week' (Thank you baby!)
She arrived last night, she, mum and dad are doing well and are all probably as shell-shocked as each other. The news from London sent the phones around the world aringing with the news. When I heard the phone ring here I was working on the blankie and now I must really get my act together for her, otherwise she'll be at uni by the time it's finished.
As yet nameless, there is no option but to refer to the little one as she and her!!
I am so happy I could cry (and I did....)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A wake up at the boot fair

Big J and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (II) last night, after some yummy tapas in our local Spanish eatery. Good film, good food and a lovely night out.

This morning I was up with the birds to go to the boot fair again. Apart from the fact that I love, love, love to browse, I love a bargain and sometimes the things I buy end up on ebay. Not always though, but I do try not to add to the clutter at home. However, bootfairs and just about any other type of shopping can create great angst. Do I need it? Will I use it? Is there anywhere to put it? Is it worth it? etc.

Today's haul was small, and pleasing, but the battery has gone on the camera so pics will have to wait.

One thing that did strike me though and this is where the angst bit comes in. There were so many people selling of piles and piles of things that probably at one time were bought with plans, hopes, dreams, etc and there it all was in a heap on a mat on the grass. Loads of money has been spent, (not my business or for me to judge) but now the items now have virtually no value, only the price that a boot fair buyer will pay. It makes me sad that it is a human characteristic to want to acquire and that we literally pay the asking price for much in our lives we could live without and really, has little value. (Not discounting emotional value here...). I don't want to rant, or sound like a nutter, but it takes me back to times when we seemed to value things better, or did we?, was it just that there was less to have? Having said all that, I got home to find a lovely catalogue in the Sunday paper and thought to myself, 'mmmm, that looks nice'....!! Woops!
Anyway, something kicked in, because I tackled the garage. This featured in the link in 2007. Today I sorted through a load of things that had been earmarked 'BOOT FAIR' (like, when is that going to happen?), and took it to the Red Cross. Then Big J joined me and we sorted through even more. I am proud to say that the very last Crown removal box was disposed off and we have pared down considerably. Big J swept the garage clean of dust and cobwebs and my heart feels a little lighter. Really.

Long has it been my dream to USE my possessions, and to have only those things we need. If I am honest, there is fat chance, but today I feel great.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Small town

This frilly beauty is the first rose from the bush since we planted it earlier this year. It smells amazing, and I had to bring it in as it was drooping so low that we could not see it behind other plants. It looks lovely with the hydrangea in my Chinese oil pot.
This morning Big J and I walked into town to get our fruit and veg from the stall in the walkway. It is a bit of a routine. The produce is excellent and it was a little reminiscent of Spain, well....especially as we had our Spanish shopping basket with us!! I like to buy fresh food when possible. I also like to walk to the shops and am trying to wean myself from hopping in the car at the drop of a hat.
Town means more to me now. I used to work on the old High Steet,

famous for its Tudor buildings, but it was all a bit cold. Now, a trip to town usually always results in meeting someone I know. It is really nice to feel part of life here. I never thought I would feel this way, but a place becomes something special because of the people in it. Big J and I talked about it. This afternoon he is off to watch the England v Wales game at the rugby club with a neighour. It is a good life.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Green curtains


The girls tell me that their granny is growing green curtains outside the windows of the bedroom and living room in Yokohama. They are a combination of goya and morning glory. Goya is a bitter gourd, it looks like a knobbly cucumber and it IS very bitter. Both it and the morning glory are climbers and are trained up a trellis to provide shade and to keep the indoor temperature down. Since the tsunami there have been rotating power cuts to save energy and people are being encouraged not to use their air conditioners as much and at a higher temperature.
Another benefit is, if so inclined, one can pick the goya and cook them. A traditional Okinawan food, they are supposed to be ideal to eat in hot weather. I have to admit, try as I might, it was pretty impossible to acquire a taste for them. Regardless, having a soft green curtain outside the window is a lovely idea, don't you think?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Breathing in

It was obvious that the baby blanket had to be redone, despite me saying it was not going to be. The contrast between the two creams, although indiscernable in some light, was naggingly clear to me. With recent events, crochet has been on the back burner a bit, until now.
Despite working extra hours all week to catch up on a huge backlog (getting paid for it this time yippeee), it is QUIET in the house. Only me and Big J and he is not around much. Cooking for two, washing for two, me and Bosley hanging out. It is a like being on hols.
So out came the squares and I am slowly unpicking the wrong cream, crocheting up the right cream, blocking them and putting them together. It is strangely satisfying to be doing it properly.
This is my basket of homework....
and this is a strip being fixed
Off now to sit on the patio for an hour and work.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The rest of the week

Spain came to an end and here are some of the last shots. A house I found for sale...a wonderful window, a church bell and my loved ones...
Just after we got home and Big J departed for Whitley Bay, the girls and I went to Bedfordshire to see my BFF, Colette and her two beautiful daughters who are here from Japan for the summer hols. It was quite a reunion for our respective girls. It is some years since they have seen each other. They slept in a tent in Colette's sister's garden and re-bonded! Despite a heavy shower while the tent was being put up, they had a dry night.
It was so good to see Colette and to TALK to her. I wish we had more time.
Girls in the tent!
Then we had this:

My brother married the dearest girl and baby is due in two weeks. What a day, what a week. Tears of sorrow and of joy.

Tonight Big J gets home, finally. It will be good to have him back.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

in the last week.....cont

There was dancing in the street. Part of the local music festival, and people love to dance.
We took a day trip to Barcelona, where the boys headed off to see FC Barcelona's stadium and the girls went to Sagrada Familia. Most of the photos are on Em's camera of the latter, but these few shots might give an idea of the scale of the place. We loved it.
A stroll along La Rambla and a visit to Mercat de Sant Josep, the awesome food market. I bought fresh dates and Big J got slices of watermelon. Had we lived closer, we may have gone mad!
The hamburger in the photo is a cake, as is the daisy cake. Mosaic is so Mediterranean and this pillar is inside the market place.

In the last week.....continued

We ate wonderful, fresh seafood....

and visited the food markets in Parafrugell and Barcelona. A feast for the senses.

Neighbouring Pals is a beautiful old town where Big J and I pottered for an afternoon.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

In the last week

Much has happened and I do not want to let it all slip away.

We were in Begur in Spain (Catalonia) last week. It was beautiful.

The clock tower on the church is in the plaza where markets and concerts are held and where we often found ourselves in the evening with a drink and some tapas. This photo was taken from the castle.

It is an old town with a castle ruin above it on a hill. A lovely jumble of narrow streets and colourful houses.

A heavenly, quiet beach, with deep clear water and walls from which to plunge into the depths. Demonstrated here by some local kids....Hannah and I bravely did it as well, from a lower wall, but it was still brilliant fun.

There is more to come, pop in again!

Friday, 5 August 2011

A shared goodbye

I drove the girls to Heathrow this morning. They were so upbeat and excited. They also insisted on doing everything themselves, they did not want help to check in. They know the drill.
On the road we thought of Big J, Nancy and A, who were also saying goodbye, to Ivan. We would have liked to be there too.
As the girls disappeared passed security, I and another mum, who was saying goodbye to her daughter, stood side by side. We found out that our girls are away for a month and they are all heading East. We agreed we hate to say goodbye and that we worry. We shared a mum moment.

Monday, 1 August 2011


We have had a lovely, lovely time in the Costa Brava. Five of us, family, loads of silly jokes, swimming, good food, really chilling out and loving being away from the daily grind. All our phones were off and sadly, this meant that we did not pick up the message to call home urgently. While we were away, Big J`s dad, Ivan, passed away. He was large and colourful and funny, and so accepting of J`s new family. J is at home now, with his mum and sisters. This week he will be looking after them and I will be here looking after the girls and A if he is around and needs it. My little brother marries on Wednesday, so we will celebrate with him and Kris. On Friday, we will remember Ivan and the girls will fly to Japan.