Wednesday 31 December 2008


Well, we made it to the Lleyn Peninsula in Wales, and had the most fantastic Christmas. All the preperations had been done prior to our going, so all there was to do was unwind, and enoy ourselves. We had a walks to the nearest beach, which we had to ourselves, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed sploshing about in their wellies through the stream, the sea and generally exploring.

We had forays down the lanes and across the fields looking for wood for the fire, which brought out some primal instinct in us all, but especially the men! Hence Stuarts present of a firebowl and lighting steel!

Stuart and Luke decided one day to walk the 5 miles to his sisters house, and saw the sum total of 15 cars in all that time. I just wish I could have gone with them, but my pelvis still is not up to it. I'll have to save it for next time!

Stuart's sister and brother-in-law turned up with a couple of branches of scyamore and hawthorn painted white, which we were able to adorn with festive treats, and had pride of place in the lounge as our Christmas tree.

Evenings were spent with Grandma knitting jumpers for the boys (at a rate no-one could believe!), Nanny knitting a jacket for Sophie for when she is a little older, and the boys playing with toys that were at the cottage.

Christmas Day was lovely, the boys had their presents, as did everyone else, the food was prepared and cooked, and everyone ate heartily. The turkey was perfect, and from a local farm, but despite it being 21lbs there was not much left by the end of Boxing Day. We all descended on Stuart's sisters cottage on Boxing Day, after negotiating their drive way, which is a true test for any car! Needless to say, Stuart, the boys, Sophie and walked up it in Wellies and Sophie in the sling! Their house is as beautiful as ever, and I am so envious of the peace and solitude they have there. The night sky was truly wondorous that night, with no street lights to hinder our view, you could see stars that were so faint that they disappeared when you tried to look at them directly, it really was stunning.

We also went to their house a different route, taking us through Rhiw. I had never travelled this road, and was not prepared for the view as we went over the hill, it was breathtaking, with a view of Snowdonia, Hell's Mouth, Cardigan Bay. That has now become another place on our list of places we would consider moving to, if we could sort out the "work/money" problem! Everytime we visit the peninsula we go through in our mind how we could move there, exaccerbated by the fact the cottage we were staying in was up for sale. Perhaps a time will come, but we can always dream.

The feeling of coming home is never as happy as when returning from other trips out. Despite us living in a lovely community, with fantastic neighbours, friends etc, it is just not rural enough for us. I am sure our time will come...

Friday 19 December 2008

Best laid plans...

Well, despite all my plans to make many Christmas gifts, they have slowly been whittled down to just a few, due to time constraints, and a rather wakeful 3 month old! After two attempts at the honeycomb that had worked so well on Bonfire night, I resigned myself to filling the Christmas bags with shop bought sweets, although the temptation to find some "homemade" shop bought sweets and pass them off as mine, was rather high, it was also a victim of time, or lack of.

At least I have lots of ideas for projects to work on when time is less of an issue!

However, we can now all breathe a big sigh of relief that all Christmas plays, parties etc are finished with, and we now have 2 weeks together as a family, and we can start on the family traditions. Such as our trip on a steam train tomorrow, munching on roast chestnuts whilst waiting to see the man in red, and then returning on another train having waited by the roaring fire in the waiting room eating warm mince pies. This is the official start to Christmas in our family.

We are all looking forward to a peaceful, restful family Christmas, and I think Alec may be looking forward to spending a bit more time in his bed in the mornings, as am I!

Monday 1 December 2008

Good days

You know those days when things just fall into place? Today has been one of them. I'm not sure what I have done differently, but there seems to have been time. Plenty of it to go around. Luke was off school with a stinking headache. The parcels of Fairtrade orders arrived, and whilst he made some Christmas cards for his teachers (very nice they are too) I sorted out the orders, and Sophie slept.

I managed to get the washing on the line in the morning (has been unheard of recently!), packaged up the flowers and butterflies for the first consignment for GP mamas on the LETS scheme, got to the post office, picked the boys up, cooked tea, spent time doing homework with them, read bed-time stories, and even managed to squeeze a bit of housework in! All fantastic stuff, which is how it should be every day, and I think what makes today stand out is that this has not been how it has been of late. I like days like today, and whatever it has been that has made today happen, I am very grateful, and look forward to a few more like it.

Friday 28 November 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Things have been a little on the hectic side recently. I have had some coffee mornings to do, which whilst poorly attended, did generate quite a bit of trade, so there'll be a few more Fairtrade Christmas presents being given out this year, which can't be bad.

I have lots of crafting ahead of me, which I would normally enjoy, but Sophie seems to be sleeping far less now, so it's late at night I am trying to get things done, and I keep going cross-eyed with tiredness! I will have to reign in my ideas a bit and try to be a bit more realistic as to what I can achieve with four children!

We are all getting excited about spending some time in Wales with family over the Christmas period, it really will feel very Christmassy.

An unusual thing happened the other day. Luke came home from school and said that the deputy head had read out in assembly a poem by "Lily Usher" from Wales. And promptly read out a poem she had written about a Tsunami. Luke told his teacher that this was his cousin! What are the chances of that, Lily will be chuffed when we tell her.

The poem is this:

There came a wave like a great hand,
Grabbing everything on the land,
Its fingers of foam, circling round,
Uprooting trees, raising homes to the ground,
It aimed its fist at everything in sight,
Nothing could survive this dreadful might,
People ran in and out in time with the tide,
Nowhere to go and nowhere to hide,
The hand was born in the belly of the ocean,
Fed by plates creating the potion,
It grew in fury, it grew in power,
The anger to be unleashed within the hour,
No one new what was on the way,
People were working, children at play,
A shriek of surprise as somebody saw,
A huge wall of white horses galloping ashore,
The beasts dissolved under the heat,
Sweeping hundreds of thousands off their feet,
There was crashing and crunching and tearing apart,
Seeping its way into everyone’s heart,
Lives were lost, bodies found,
Brutally killed by a hungry hound,
When the punch came with the force of an army,
The few that survived understood the meaning of ‘Tsunami’

Well, Sophie is asleep, so I'd best get going and do some more "stuff"

Saturday 8 November 2008

Sad times and a little chaos!

I was not looking forward to 5th November. Why? Because it was a year since we lost our dear cat Hobbes. He was such a special little creature, who was so loving. There is a little ditto somewhere that says something along the lines of cats leaving paw prints on your heart forever. That certainly was Hobbes.

Another reason for not looking forward to the 5th was the date some dear friends were finding out if their unborn baby was indeed suffering with the fatal Edwards Syndrome. Unfortunately they had bad news. Such difficult decisions to make, and a life, not yet known, to mourn. It has generated so many mixed feelings, but the overwhelming one is of stunned sorrow, which no words can describe.

Turning back to the lives of the little ones. Luke had his long-awaited sleepover last night. Four of his mates from school, supposedly sleeping in his room. One lad managed to grab 4 hours (I think he must have brought sedatives with him :D The rest had no sleep!!! At 5am they were playing hide and seek, which sounded like a herd of elephants. I really don't know how they kept going, although Luke didn't quite, he is now soundly asleep on the sofa having fallen asleep in Sophie's playnest!!

Earlier this week I was supposed to be meeting with some e-friends from GP forum. But unfortunately Luke and Alec were both ill. I hope it all went well for those who were able to make it, and I will have to try and keep the boys healthy for the next meet-up. Their illness also scuppered my plans for getting some craft stuff together following the aborted attempt at the garden centre the other week. I guess that will now be a job for next week.

Having the boys at home was nice though, as I was able to spend a bit more time with them. Luke and I made some honeycomb (courtesy of Howie on GP forum), which is so easy, and delicious too. Luke and Alec were able to spend some time together too, which they don't tend to do normally, as Alec and Ethan are usually playmates.

Pretty much sums up this week, but one I would rather not repeat if it can be at all helped.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Power cuts and surprises

We had a 6 hour powercut today, which we were expecting, so were able to prepare for. The boys were not looking forward to it, but I secretly was hoping they would find new ways of playing, rather than turning to tv when they couldn't think of anything else to do. It worked out really well. They had some friends over this morning,and had the most enormous game of hide and seek for about an hour!

For lunch they had beans on toast, which meant toasting the bread over the gas hob. Not the most energy efficient ways of making toast, but interesting none the less. In fact the boys now want to get rid of the toaster and make toast on the gas hob every time! I on the other hand decided to have soup, which was fine until I came to blend it, and then realised I needed electricity for that. It just wasn't the same mashed with the potato masher!

This afternoon was spent playing chess and draughts by candle-light (as it went VERY dark), and playing outside with friends. I was hoping to get some reading done, but it was not to be.

However, Stuart has made my day, month and year, by asking me if I would like some chickens for Christmas. I am so excited, and am looking forward to this new adventure, and learning all about chickens, as well as teaching the children all about them as well.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Too many people, too much stress!

Mum decided to take us out to a local garden centre, as they were doing pumpkin carving there, and she wanted to treat the children. My goodness me, I have never seen so many people at a garden centre, it was heaving! Admittedly it is the gardening world's version of T***o's, but even still, this was ridiculous.

After an hour of queueing we had our carved pumpkins. And the boys were getting hungry, so Mum said she would treat us to lunch. That took another hour (mainly queueing!). By this point Sophie had definitely had enough, and would not be consoled (very unusual for her), so we called it quits. My plans for getting some festive fabric, more wool, some googly eyes for Luke's pom-pom spider, as well as some onion sets and broad bean seeds went completely out of the window. I think I have learned my lesson, and I'll look for these things in independent outlets, where there is no where near as much stress involved! And we are definitely growing pumpkins on the allotment next year, as £4 a pumpkin is a bit steep!

However, one thing that made me laugh was a woman stopped us to ask if Sophie was a little boy (she was in the sling wearing a bright blue jumper), I replied that she was in fact a girl, so this woman then turns to Luke and says "so you must be the big sister!" Poor woman, having to have her assumptions about gender dispelled within 30 seconds!

Another bonus is the boys love their pumkins, and have been carrying them around the house, and using the playnest as a boat for them!

Friday 24 October 2008

Plans for Christmas

I can't believe we are already thinking about Christmas. I am just starting on my list if things to make for people, with some french knitting to make a mobile of flowers and butterflies for Sophie. Also going to be making a couple of sets of bean bags, along with a special bag for Ethan who likes to fill bags with "special" things. For years I have been collecting corks from wine bottles in order to make either a notice board or some heatproof mats, I think the time is now here for me to be making these!

I'm hoping that I will get all of this done, along with the quince jam (which is doing as I type!) and a few coffee mornings etc to sell fairtrade products. What a busy time!

The boys break up from school today, and are in desperate need of half term. I think they find there are just too many things they want to do in too short a time (just like their parents!) so to have a week to do exactly what they want will be much appreciated by all. Hopefully we will fit in a trip to the allotment, along with some pumpkin carving!

Speaking of the allotment, it looks like we have a fantastic crop of parsnips. The foliage had been looking very good, but I had been warned by a fellow allotment holder that the foliage does not necessarily indicate how the root is doing. However, on digging up three parsnips we have some enormous specimens (not particularly pretty ones, as they have forked, but massive none the less!) Just got to convince the boys that they like parsnips! Perhaps some parsnip crisps will do the job!

Friday 17 October 2008

Making clothes more interesting

For quite a while now I had been meaning to try my hand at tie-dying. I meant to do it as an activity with the boys during the summer holidays, but they were always too busy playing with their friends. So I decided to do it as an activity for me. I had kept one of Luke's old school polo shirts, and had some white babygro's given to me for Sophie.

It was lovely unfurling the clothes once they had finished dyeing, and to see what effect I had created. We now have some fantastic tie-dyed clothes, and a friend has asked me to do some as a gift for someone she knows. I can see this becoming rather addictive, and any plain bit of material had better watch out! Luke was rather disappointed that I had not waited for him, so we now have to keep a look out for some clothes for him to have a go at too!

Wednesday 15 October 2008

A trip out

Along with my Mum and Sophie we went on a trip to Birmingham today. My aim was to pay a visit to my favourite shop (Shared Earth) to perhaps do a little Christmas shopping, and to find some birthday presents for Alec to take to parties he has been invited to. It certainly lived up to my hopes, and it also encouraged my dream to possibly, one day open my own Fairtrade shop but with the addition of a Fairtrade Cafe on the premises as well.

A great find amongst the little farmers market that was also being held today was a bag of quinces. Added to my own harvest I am looking forward to making jars of rosy pink quince jam. The kitchen is currently smelling of the sweet ripe aroma of these lovely, often neglected fruit.

We also found some honey comb, which I indulged in so that the boys could taste what it was like. This consolidated some questions Luke had following a viewing of Bear Grylls on tv the other night!


I have eventually taken the plunge and set up a blog, following the inspiration I found from other people's blogs I hope to share a little about our life and experiences, and have some record for us all to look back on.