Friday, 27 June 2008

Pastures New

Gosh what a week. It's sped by with a mixture of sleepless nights, comedy night preparations, sickness bugs and A NEW JOB!

I'm still in shock to be honest. My application was a bit of a "give it a whirl" thing and blimey I've gone and got the post! I'll be very sad to leave the lovely team I work with and I'll miss the work too because the countryside is so close to my heart and this job is quite different. But it means I'll be working much closer to home, no more 80 mile round trips to the office, three times a week, and instead I'll be round the corner from my mum-in-laws, in a nice little market town.

I'm feeling a bit over-whelmed and daunted by the size of the task and I keep having wobbles that it's all beyond me. But it really is time for a change and this could be the beginning of bigger and better things for all of us.
So, no more leaving for work at 7.15am and getting home just as the boys are going to bed and time for fun like this before they do. More time for Woody to concentrate on his writing and comedy dreams and a few more pennies in the pot to keep the wolf from the door and buy fabulous treats like these...

Do you think my vintage pillowcase obsession is going a bit far? I've realised I'm not the only one with this affliction in the blogging world, its massively addictive isn't it! This is the third pair I've bought in as many weeks. Aren't they just lovely, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for some candy striped ones for ages but no joy so bought a brushed cotton pair from ebay - then saw these the very next day! Oh well, the whole lot only cost £2.50 so hardly outrageous. The brushed cotton pair will be cosier for winter and the frilly ones are already making our bed more summery.
So that's where I've been this week. Sorry for getting a bit behind with replies and catching up with everyone but as soon as my head stops spinning I'll be back up to speed. Blimey, I need a sit down!

Friday, 20 June 2008

A Room With a View

Before I get going thank, thank, thank you to everyone who left a comment on my birthday party post. I can't tell you how smashing it feels to hear from so many like-minded souls and not feel like my ideas are a bit too old-fashioned or dull anymore. The ideas and advice you've all so kindly given has set my mind racing off with all sorts of plans and the birthday-boy-to-be has been consulted.
All on his own he's come up with two brilliant themes, but can't decide which one he likes best yet, either Jungles or Knights & Castles, which is looking like the front runner at present. Phew, I knew that medieval history degree would come in handy one day! Thank you for everyone's very generous support and I wish I could send you all each a beautiful posy like this lovely one from the WI market. The honeysuckle and roses smell divine - hope you enjoy it!
I've been tagged by the lovely Fairy Glade to show the view from the kitchen window (great idea for a tag) and this is it. Mostly I'm looking at various bits of plastic and drying washing but my view is also full of flowers and the wonderful rolling countryside beyond.
The mowed field opposite is a delight for the boys, for two days it's been busy with tractors, new-fangled bailing machines with a whizzy plastic wrapping thingy and trailers loading it all back to the barn. I adore our view and the huge bonus is that when we have visitors there's usually a scrum over who gets to wash up and enjoy the view!

My sources of vintage finds seem to have dried up lately and I've not come across any treasures for a while. Oh well, perhaps I'm due for a bargain haul around the corner. I did find this lovely straw hat though in a charity shop. I do love a hat, woolly in the winter, straw in the summer, especially in the sun because I can't bear the heat. It's a bit of a struggle to find one that fits though because I have rather a long bonce, hoods never keep my face dry in the rain and hats rarely fit. So imagine my delight when this pretty thing was a perfect fit.
I took off a rather nasty bunch of green feathers and a straw flower and replaced them with some vintage lace and a silk rose I've had stashed away for a while. I'm quite pleased with the result - just need some balmy summer weather to float around wearing it in now!
Edited the next day to say: What a plank! I am, of course, supposed to tag other lovely bloggers having being tagged myself. So, hoping they'd like to take part, I tag these delightful ladies to see the view from their kitchen windows:

Monday, 16 June 2008

Party trauma

I am having a crisis - of the birthday party kind. When I was little we had parties in the garden, played hilarious games, ate enormous amounts of jelly and had a fabulous time. I can still remember balmy afternoons under the trees in sun dresses, messing about in water and racing around until the sun finally sank behind the house.
I'd always imagined this is what we'd organise for the little Woodmouses but now I'm not so sure. Since beginning school B has been to quite a few parties and I've begun to that my idea of the perfect celebration for a 5 year old is a bit stuck in the 70s. I can't believe the difference and I'm beginning to quake!

It's not that things are competitive but more that my ideas are a bit old fashioned. It seems the only option today is to hire the village hall, book some entertainment (Pirate Pete, a clown complete with circus skills workshop, disco with lighting deck, bouncy castle etc, etc) I'm not sure we're up to this and more to the point could afford it.

On the whole B has really enjoyed them but he does have a slight hearing problem that means the noise can overwhelm and hurt his ears quite a bit so that's a worry. He does loves to dance though, is thrilled with a balloon animal and as long has he can jump about a bit is very happy.

So now the hugely important occasion of B's 5th birthday is rapidly homing into view and we have nothing planned yet and I am dithering over what to do. Well I say nothing, but actually in my head it's already there - a sunny day in the garden, a few happy friends, gingham tablecloths, bunting, pin the tail on the donkey, musical statues etc, etc. But is that just what I'd like to do - do little ones thesedays enjoy that sort of thing?

We've got this lovely Shirley Hughes book where Alfie goes to smashing party in a garden with bubbles and games, all the usual trimmings, and B loves it so I think he'd probably enjoy one like this too.
For some reason though I feel really nervous about being a bit retro and doing a homespun version. Usually I wouldn't mind but B really has definitely enjoyed these big parties (apart from the noise) and I can see the attraction of doing it all away from home; although home is definitely where our little family's, and especially B's, hearts are.

But am I being bonkers? We can't possibly invite the whole class around but even so, what will I do with eight or so 5 year olds if it rains? Is this the reason the village hall is booked up solidly all summer because there's just too much to do for parties thesedays to have them at home?

And then there's the money? Like pretty much everyone else we're finding things very tight and the cost of halls and entertainers is huge. Then where do you go from 5? Do you have to up the ante every year so that by the time they're 10 you're hiring out the Millennium Wheel?! Sorry, so many questions but I feel a bit like I can't keep up.
Oh.... what would all my lovely blogging friends do? I'd love to know what type of parties you've had and any tips or advice about what's worked, food ideas, party games would be ever so much appreciated!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Flower Power

Anyone reading this blog must have realised by now that I'm rather flower mad and one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is discovering other people's joy in all things floral, from the garden to curtains, to books and embroidery.
Every morning we walk along a lovely little path, in-between the fields, from the modern part of the village down to B's school in the older heart and is one of my places of floral heaven.
View from the path across the meadow that's just been cut for silage and smells fantastic!
Early in the summer the crowded hedgerows were bursting with forget-me-nots and primrose and we could see the rosettes of foxglove leaves beginning to mass underneath them. After being away for a week I couldn't believe the sight that greeted us on our first walk this week. Purple spires fill the lane and as just glorious.
All week I've been inspired by them and finally got around to making some floral cushion covers for my beautiful but still to be revamped vintage sofa (one day, one day...)
My favourite is the Cath Kidston Posy version which reminds me so much of prints my Grandma had. I'm keeping my eye out for a couple of bargain metres of this for some curtains to cover the washing machine in the kitchen but it's hard to come by.

And joy of joys, this month's CL is full of flowers and country weddings too - perfect weekend reading if you ask me.
Along with this.
The pictures in this wonderful Ladybird book are where I first learnt about garden blooms with my mum. Our copy was chucked out years ago when Dad had had enough of the bags of books in the attic that threatened to bring down the ceiling on us and I don't think I realised then what it meant to me. Thankfully it was really easy to track down a copy on the internet for less than the price of a WI plant and I'm enjoying having it again so much. The lupin print on the cover is my absolute favourite.
Ladybird pictures have coloured so many of my childhood memories and looking back I can see how much they taught me, everything from idenitfying sea shells to trees, the seasons and wildlife. How fantastic then that Ladybird are now selling prints of these beautiful drawings online from most of the original sries, including the Peter and Jane books.
Oh blimey, a whole new vintage obsesssion blooms!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Why are holidays so tiring?

Is it just me who seems to be busier than ever on holiday? We're home, relaxed, whacked, buried under washing and absolutely reeking of chlorine!

Centre Parcs was fabulous, but we've never crammed so much into four days. To be honest we surprised ourselves by how much we enjoyed everything. It's not often that you get to experience things operating just exactly as they're promised is it and I think that unnerved us a bit at first.
The whole place is pristine, everything you could think of, from a clean, soft beach to play on, to continental-style dining on a warm summer's evening (even though there was a thunderstorm outside) was arranged to perfection. A bit odd at first but it was great to let someone else be in control of everything for once and just relax. And we were so lucky to have a free trip - Woody now has to write a double page newspaper spread on it but it was well worth it and we all had such a great time.
I did mean to post the meme I'd been tagged with before I went but better late than never I guess.

1) What were you doing ten years ago? Working in the press & marketing department at the Tower of London, living on my own in a small flat and trying very hard to be grown up about it all and not miss home too much. In reality I was a bit rubbish at that bit and never really settled into being a city girl and came back up north after 18mths.

2) 5 things on your to-do list today?
Write a new to-do list!
Weed the patio - boring, but managed that with help from B and have a good look around the garden.
Visit the model railway show - my boys love it and I do like to imagine myself wandering around the vintage 40s scenes!
Get more holiday washing done - sort of one the way.
See if our housemartins have finished their nest yet - almost, yippee!

3) 5 Snacks you enjoy? Hope this means treats too!
Mint chocolates
French bread
Golden raisins
Fine green beans
A nice slice of hot buttered toast!
4) Things I would do if i was a billionaire?
Support my favourite charity's more.
Buy an old house with an old garden and potter endlessly - and perhaps a holiday cottage in Cornwall too.
Start a really fabulous eiderdown collection - being able to afford them!
Treat the family lots.
I heard this today - Happiness is to enjoy the accumulation of the simple things in life - sounds like perfection to me so I'd carry on doing it.
5) Places I've lived
Staffordshire Moorlands
West London
South East London (cosmopolitan or what!)

I'm very behind the times on this one so I won't pass it on because I'm pretty sure everyone has had it. But if anyone does fancy having a go this is an open invitation from me.

Thanks for all the lovely holiday wishes, they worked a treat.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Off on our hols - well sort of

(This scene makes my heart sing even on yet another wet, dreary day)

To Centre Parcs - for free! My genius husband has organised us a four night stay as a press trip which means we get to try out lots of fabulous treats including dinner in the evening, a visit and treatment at the spa and what looks like some great activities for the boys too. Not our usual sort of holiday but we've heard pretty good reports and as it's not costing us a penny, I'm all for it!

We've been having a bit of a holiday wrestle with oursleves all day today about another press trip, to my favourite place in the world - Port Isaac. We'd been offered a week in a lovely cottage, a stone's throw from the harbour and really close to where we stayed last year but you've guessed it - yes, all this sounds far too good to be true. The week we were offered was the first in September, just when B goes back to school and moves up into a new class for the first time.

(Little A's first ever afternoon on the beach last year, two minutes later he was eating it!)

As much as we've tried to convince oursleves that we'd all get so much out of it, you know when you something's just wrong don't you. B comes first and he's a sensitive litte chap. Neither of us could bear the idea of him going back to school a week late and missing out on that important getting back together time, starting a new year and learning a whole new routine. Our school is very understanding about holidays, the expense and the importance of family time and another week in the year we might really have considered going but the timing is all wrong.

Part of me's wondering if I'm over analysing the whole thing but if I truly thought it was right we'd have booked it without a second thought so, decision made - but I'm a bit miserable. Oh it'll always be there won't it and now I'm back on a mission, having a crafty think of how we can still wangle a bargain week at the seaside, rock-pooling, jumping waves and cooking mackerel on the beach.

Back to our exciting trip tomorrow though. Various things are being chucked into bags as we speak, I still haven't cleared out the car and my Cath Kidston washbag is looking a bit empty but instead of finish the packing I thought I'd do some proper prioritising and share a couple of pictures of my finds this week It's been a week for pictures and this is my favourite.

Oh yes the Cornwall obsession continues! I spied this Vernon Ward print from the other side of the Collector's Market and knew I just had to have it. It's of Newlyn harbour and the light is just wonderful.

This little vintage cross-stitch was in the bottom of a box of junk and even though the frame isn't quite right for 45p I'm sure I can live with it for while.

Have a lovely week, I'll catch-up with everyone's news just as soon as I've banged the last water from the splash pools out of my ears next weekend!