Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Di Hickman Card.

Now that Christmas is over, I wanted to make cards for other events during the year, This is my card for my friend, who has been my friend since we were five, far more years than its safe to count anymore!!
This card uses Papermania and making memories paper, dovecraft brads, paperchase gems and offray ribbon. The black and white border has been done with sakura gel pens.
Have a look at the other cards on Di's blog!

2008 - Out with a BANG!!!!!!

Oh Dear Cyril is dead. This all started last week when poor Cyril was unsettled by Eunice (Are you reading this Eunice????) Poor Cyril was parked outside our house minding his own business when a 'visitor' reversed into him, we could tell he was unhappy, his rear panel was slightly dented and there was a crack in one of his lights. The whole experience was too much for him to cope with. Yesterday morning Tom was at work when he came across some black ice (it was around -4 at the time) Tom touched the brakes and Cyril glided into the back of a lorry.(Tom and the lorry driver were both perfectly okay) We feel that it was suicide, he felt unable to carry on with his cracked light panel. He had had a good innings, being fifteen years old.
So as we say farewell to Cyril and thank him for his years of long service we have to get used to our new car, Fanny, We were thinking about a new car (not that I am going to let Eunice the murderer know that!!!!) for a little while and had actually the day before Cyril died agreed to buy Fanny. We had to bring the purchase forward a little and met with the vendor in a lay by outside Leicester City Centre Mosque, (Thank You Ginger!!!) Fanny is now home and is settling in. I would like to wish all of our friends and neighbours a very Happy New Year, Just give us some warning if Eunice intends driving tonight!!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time Off.

I love this part of the holiday break, all the Christmas stuff done and dusted, not yet preparing for New Years eve celebrations, a bit of time for myself. Today is a day off from the Panto so don't even have that to worry about. Beth wants to go into town to spend some of her vouchers, so I'll drop her off with Laura later on.
Last night we went around for tea at Rod and Tina's, they came to the panto with us and we had the back two rows. We had decided that we would make as much noise as possible and join in, we cheered all the good guys and booed all the bad guys, we booed in a very loud and noticeable way, in fact we booed one character so much he had trouble getting his lines out!!! It was so funny. Then we decided to clap and sing and whistle!!! Afterwards we met in the bar for a drink and even booed the baddies when they came in !! Beth said that they could really hear us all. Trouble was the people in the front of the audience were a little older than us (seemed to be lots of nans and grandads) They were caught in the crossfire and didn't seem to know what was going on! Once they realised, they joined in as well.
Today I may actually go to the shops, I have decided that we could benefit from a bean bag pouffe for the living room, we could have done with a bit of extra seating over the Christmas and there are a few in the sales at the moment. So into the fray!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Christmas!!

Here are a few shots of our Christmas Day.
We had a good day, although Tom and I both have the dreaded cough that has kept us spluttering for most of the day. Beth got her much wanted red jeans, plus lots of other things she wanted. Carl got things he wanted including car mats, England shirt etc. I got some Nestabilities plus loads of other great stuff.

Red Jeans at Last!!!

Hunny Getting stuck into one of her parcels!

Mum and dad preparing to play!

A pair of Christmas Crackers??

Laura and Beth.

Beauty and the Beast (make your own minds up!!!)

Scotty McSpotty sporting his new Christmas Jumper!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Turn as Chaperone

Here we have The Blue Fairy, Jiminy Cricket and The Cat all made up and ready to go.

Beth dressed as a villager.

We were at the theatre nice and early for a sell out performance. The kids were all hyper at the though of Santa coming tonight !! The audience were brilliant joined in with all the jokes and seemed to have a good time.
Must go as I have to get ready for Father Christmas.

Di Hickman Blog Card.

I loved this design and I decided to do a little something different with it! Back in the summer I made some little beaded charms, you can use them on your mobile phone or on your scrap bags, anything really that you fancy a bit of bling on. So this time I covered the card with green pearl paper from Crafters companion, and patterned paper from paper mania, I cut out an oval using my creative memories cutters, I then punched a hole in the card on top of the oval and clipped the charm to it. I decorated the charm with a little bow. I am really pleased with how this has turned out and I think I will use the idea when I am gifting ear rings!!

Been Busy

Well I have joined the rest of the country with a cough and general feelings of unwellness, so I am dosing myself up to get through the festivities!!
This morning I have made a walnut cake, two apple pies and two dozen fairy cakes, just need to ice them and do the vegetables for tomorrow.
This afternoon its my turn to help out at the panto which is where I think I got the cough from in the first place!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I've had a cuddle!

This afternoon I had a long cuddle with baby Olivia, she is beautiful, serene and very chilled. She has perfect little fingers, perfect little nails, perfect little hands. She has a beautiful dusting of dark straight hair, the most perfect eyelashes and cute nose. Her Mum is exhausted and her big sister is suffering from a virus and is miserable. Its going to be a long few weeks for them!!
I love having a baby in the street again!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Its Almost here.

I can hardly believe that Christmas is almost here, Its a strange thing but the whole country, maybe the whole of the commercial world are taken up with this obscene buying frenzy in the name Christmas and the coming of Jesus. I am sure its wasn't meant to be like this!! Don't get me wrong I do enjoy Christmas and the meeting up with friends and family. I like the sharing of meals and good times, but sometimes, possible due to my advancing years,I think they whole lot has got out of hand.
I always lust after a white Christmas, but I can barely remember us ever having one. It seems to snow here on the 30th of January and then that's it. I love doing all the Christmas things to ensure that everyone has a good time. In doing that I am usually knackered and fit to drop by the time it arrives.
So one year I would like to take myself off somewhere and enjoy a different Christmas where things are done for me. Perhaps that will happen when I have grandchildren and we are then invited to their house to celebrate and I can sit in the corner and get drunk!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The Pantomime is now well underway, with Beth having two performances today. Matinee and and evening performances. She is really enjoying it. We thought that we would have to collect her between shows, but luckily the people who are organising back stage have arranged for Fish and Chips in 'The green room' This means she will be able to stay there with her friends.
The production is an amateur one, but it has been organised and produced in a very professional way. The programme is fantastic, great quality and a bargain at £1.50. It easily equals the quality of those sold in West End Theatres for five or six times the price!!
Three down, only 16 to go!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Baby has Arrived!!!

We have a new baby in the street, our neighbour Emily gave birth to Olivia today, Mum and Baby doing well!! Congratulations to everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Roar of the Crowd, the smell of the Grease paint!

In the Dressing Room.

The stage from the back of the theatre, Beth sitting on the left.

Beth playing the Cat.

The Villagers Talking to Gepetto.

Last Night was dress rehearsal for the production of Pinocchio at the Barn Theatre. I stayed behind to help in the dressing room with the changes. I hadn't realised that Beth had three costume changes plus make up. Its a really labour intensive job. Most of the outfits were ready but there were a few running repairs made as we went along and Beth's skirt needed a zip fixed. A lot of the cast were suffering from sore throats and colds, so they need to rest their voices before they perform for real.
I was able to watch the show and apart from a few issues with the scene changes the actual acting went very well.
The theatre itself is very small and cosy so they don't use microphones, they all have to speak up to be heard. I sat at the back and it was perfectly clear!!
Last night there was also a professional photographer there and Beth was asked to do a Bio for the newspaper, so its all very exciting!
The only down side was that they didn't finish until 11pm and she was shattered this morning.

Di Hickman Card.

This weeks card was hard for me, I am uneasy with the design as its not something I would have chosen, I have done my best !! The pink paper is from Paper mania, the ribbon Offray, the stars from Casa in Belgium, white Sakura pen and a hand made little vellum envelope, I think it has turned out alright in the end!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Friends

We were shocked by the prawn cocktail.

Perhaps the chef had lost his knife??

I hate lettuce, I had pate!! Hurrah!!

Tonight I went out for the Annual Girls night out, one of many that I go on around the Christmas season. Its usually a very happy event (or several events) and tonight was no different. I went with Maddy, Sandra and Sue. Maddy I have grown up with and has been a part of my life through thick and thin since I was 5. I can't remember a time without her, we have been through so much together. I don't need to talk to her to know what she is thinking and the same goes for her.We booked our table at the pub last month and the miserable manager was at great pains to tell us that he would not be providing us with any festive items, no crackers, no party popper, he would provide the food alone. I just knew what Maddy would do and she didn't disappoint me. She came armed with a rocking Santa for the table, plus crackers and baubles, we had our own festivities much to the amusement of the other diners!! She is all you can ask for in a friend someone who is always there even if we don't talk every day or even every week.
Sandra went to secondary school with Madeline and Sue was originally her friend, but is now my friend too. These friends are from the early years of my life and have endured.
Next I have my local friends, Karen over the road who I can see virtually every day but often don't get a chance to speak to, chatting after a break we can just pick up from where we finished even if that was weeks or months ago. Sue who has children the same age as Laura and Carl who I keep in contact with, along with Jenny, Maxine, Lorraine, Michelle and Julia, all girls I call school mum friends.
Fran who now lives away in Suffolk, I still love to chat to Fran and her family although distance has made that less regular, she is still up there as one of my all time favourites!!
Tina who I have known for 25 years, who gave me a shocking insight into looking after babies, when she contracted meningitis when her twins were 6 weeks old. She was so sick that she ended up in hospital and I got baby sitting duty for an extended period, having had nothing what so ever to do with tiny babies before then. Those babies are now 25 and Emma is my God Daughter who is in turn expecting her first baby in March next year.
I have my new friends Dina and her family who are great fun and who are always game for a laugh. Wendy who has been through hell and has still come out smiling and willing to start over again, no matter how many knocks she has taken. Scrapping friends like Jaffne, Ginger, Shirleen and Sue D. New friends like Debbie who have added so much to our lives.
So without wanting to sound too slushy I have had a fun evening and I have looked back at fun Christmas times in the distant past and I count my blessings and hope for many more to come.

Well it was original!!!

Today I was up bright and early to take dad into hospital to have his hip replacement op. You know how it is you get yourself worked up, him worrying about it and me worrying that I would oversleep and miss the 7am slot.
Anyway we got there in plenty of time, we were shown to his bed in a ward with 5 other guys, I settled him in filled out the paper work and made sure all was well. Being an ace 'earwigger' I heard one of the nurses talking to another nurse, saying that there were no beds in the High Dependency Unit. I knew then that it was unlikely that he would have his operation. On the way out I chatted to the nurse and she confirmed the bed situation and said that Dad wasn't even down for a bed in HDU, which I knew he should have been, so that made him second for the non existent bed!!!
Sure enough 10am came and the surgeon came around and said that they couldn't do the op due to the lack of beds, and then the best reason of all time, 'your replacement part is stuck in Leeds' (just the odd 175 miles away!!) So he will be re booked and they will try again in January. That gives them one last chance before they have to do the op come hell or high water!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas has arrived!!

Today Christmas has arrived in this household. It seems to have been a bit of a slog this year with so much else going on, but finally we are sorted. This morning I dropped Beth off at practice and headed for the garden centre to look for a tree. I was shocked at the price, last year we paid £20 for a 'real' tree, which I love to have. I was shocked to find the cheapest tree, was now £24 and it was only 3ft tall. Not a nice 3ft either, one of those 18 inches of tree and 18 inches of one single pointed bare branch. The next price bracket was £29. I decided that it was far too much to pay and set off in search of a fake tree.
I struck lucky because B and Q had got all of theirs in a sale, I eventually settled on this one above which was reduced from £49 to a bargain £6.48! Its described as a 6ft 6ins slim Aspen Pine and it fits the gap perfectly!!!
When I was living at home we always used to wait until December the 14th before putting up the tree, the 14th was my sister Val's birthday, and it was only fair that she celebrated that before the decorations came along. I can hardly believe that it will be 10 years next March since she passed away, we think of her all time and specially on her Birthday!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Walls to you!!!!

Yesterday at work it started off really icy , black ice, white ice, snow a little tiny bit, it was pretty chilly. Just outside my office is a brick wall which is covered in loads of little mounds of moss. It looked particularly pretty with a very slight dusting of snow.
I am glad it is the weekend its been a very long and miserable week work wise, I am only in for as long as it takes to cook something for someone and then its off out again to panto practice, guides, swimming, shopping a never ending list of things for everyone else!! I though today would be a break, but no Beth had to be in town to hand out flyer's for the panto dressed up in her Cat outfit. 9am start, 9am on a Saturday!!!! Its been pouring with rain all night and all day so there is loads of water lying everywhere. So we dropped her off, popped into town to pick up a last minute present and to buy some more wrapping paper, we got drenched. We had just got back to see mum and dad when she phoned for us to collect her!!!
Next she decides that she would like to make a Victoria sandwich for the practice tomorrow, so we went shopping for the ingredients, then she has pestered me silly to make it. I swear one of these days I will have nothing to do, but by then I will be about 105 years old !!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Di Hickman Blog - Jingle Bells!

Another nice simple design from Di Hickman!!
All papers are from Papermill, the snowflake embellishments are from a reel of snowflakes that I bought from Casa in Belgium (Always on the look out for bits to use in my crafting!!)The jingle bells sticker is from QVC, ribbon from Offray and the charm is one of those wine glass charm thingies!!
Take a look at Di's blog for all the other interpretations!!

It has been a long week

On the one hand it has flown by on the other it has dragged. Work is absolutely awful at the moment with the threat of redundancy hanging over lots of people which in turn quite rightly makes them twitchy and worried about their future, so they take it out on the people who are trying to help them work their way through it all. This has an effect on those people and so we go around. Last night I didn't finish work until 9pm which was great after an 8am start.
I am so pleased that I have got a shopping delivery slot, all I have to remember now is to update my shopping list or Christmas will consist of two packs of cheese and a bag of sausage rolls!!

I have managed a pretty amazing thing though, I have managed to keep alive all year a potted Azalea. Its been sat on my windowsill in the conservatory through all the hot weather, it has dropped all of its leaves on a couple of occasions, after I forgot to water it. It has then revived itself. This morning it has burst into flower and I am amazed that it has thrived basically on neglect from last Christmas!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

False Alarm!!!

My neighbours absence was caused by the breakdown of the central heating boiler, she is fine all ready for the kick off, so still waiting!!

My Cards in Preparation

I finally got my hands on a Swiss Dots embossing folder which is great and I am using it for everything at the moment, So here is the Boy and Girl version. The spotty paper is from Papermania, The ricrac is from wait for it, Ikea!! On the Girl card I made the little pearly thingy out of wire and alphabet beads, more embossing and the same spotty paper.
Fingers crossed for some news today!!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I wonder??????

If my next door neighbour has had her baby??? The signs are good, they left the house in the early hours of the morning, There has been nobody at home all day (and they have a toddler, so they are usually home by now) One Car is missing. The baby is due on the 10th so its near enough!! Fingers crossed that they now have a new baby!!
This afternoon I have made a couple to cards, one boy and one girl to cover every eventuality!! (although my prediction is that it'll be a little boy) Its really exciting.

Cold and Frosty Morning

This morning I got up to a very cold and frosty morning. The cars are under thick ice and everything looks very pretty. I checked the temperature and it was -3c and it was 8.20!! When I went to get the milk in I snapped these two shots literally minutes apart looking across the road towards the woods. I love the colours and I am amazed that they are so different given that they were taken virtually at the same time.
The rising sun has a dramatic effect on the frost and although you can't see it too clearly in the photos, the roofs of the houses seem to be steaming! In the back garden the birds seem to have finally found our bird feeders and in the last couple of days the nuts have halved in quantity, I will have to top them up!
Last night I wrote the last of my Christmas cards, I have around 6 special ones left to make and then I can say I am done. Have a nice week.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Busy week

The time seems to be flying by and we are heading at break neck speed into Christmas. I sat up a couple of nights ago with my finger poised on the enter key in an effort get get myself a Tesco Delivery slot on the 23rd of December. The second my PC time said 12 I hit the button only to find every single slot for the day had been sold out!! There must have been hundreds of us sitting there with fingers poised! I have decided to stick with the slot I had snagged for the 22nd.

Work has been a nightmare, so much going on that I just don't know where I am going next. Today we have been all over the place and next looks like it may be more of the same with the addition of Christmas functions in the evenings. I am so glad that I have a few days off over the Christmas to chill out.

The house is a tip and there is 'stuff' all over the place, so i will have to try and sort that out tomorrow, I have decided that I hate shopping so I don't really want to join in the throng of people all battling around the shops. I really want to go to Poundland to get some decorations for the office (because both poundland and I are 'cheap')

I have been spoilt by some online friends who I have entered into an Advent swap with. So since the beginning of the month I have had a cute little parcel to open, its a four way swap so we have decided to split it so that we all send parcels to each other. Its really great to open my own personal advent calendar every morning!!!!

So I hope you all have a great weekend and that you don't work too hard!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Di Hickmans Blog - Holiday!

Here is this weeks card following a sketch on Di Hickmans blog. I really love working from a sketch, it makes it so easy!! This card uses paper from Papermill and crafters companion, the scalloped edges were embossed using my Cuttlebug embossing folders. The stars are by Dovecraft. The sentiment is from a pack I got off of QVC a fair while ago!!.
I am a simple soul and much prefer the clean and simple style.
Pop over to Di's Blog and take a look at all the other cards!

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Bit Of WGC History (or the battle of the shopping malls!!)

The Howard Centre

The Galleria.

In my previous posts I have explained how my local council is responsible for two towns, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, along with several smaller villages . Hatfield has always considered itself to be the poor neighbour, its been the industrial town of the two responsible for the development of the Comet aircraft and the British Aerospace 146.
My story involves the controversy surrounding the construction of two shopping centres, The Howard centre in WGC and the Galleria in Hatfield.

Back in the late 1980's the council were anxious to redevelop part of town centre in WGC, they wanted a new railway and bus station and a few more shops wouldn't go amiss, so they entered into negotiations with the biggest construction business in the UK at the time, Slough Estates.
While negotiating a deal to provide all the things mentioned above for WGC, they were also dealing with a rival firm, The Carroll Group to provide a shopping centre in nearby Hatfield.
Because of the close proximity of the towns, Slough estates negotiated a Tenant Mix agreement (TMA) with the council. This was to enable both centres to attract different types of shops and restaurants.The Howard centre was to have traditional High street shops and restaurants and the Galleria was to be geared more to entertainment, restaurants, cinemas and outlet shops.

The council was keen to have both developments the site of the proposed Galleria was on top of a tunnel which had been constructed to take the A1M underground and the area on top was perfect for shops. The Howard centre addressed the station problems. Slough Estates were playing hardball and wouldn't agree to the development until the council signed the TMA, this they did. Both sites went ahead and eventually opened at almost the same time in 1990/1. It was at this point that it came to light that the council had been doing a bit of underhand dealing and while agreeing the TMA with Slough they agreed the exact opposite with the Carroll group. This resulted in Slough taking the council to the High court for damages.

Slough won and was awarded 48 million in damages!! The chances of the council being able to pay that was remote, there were limits as to what could be paid from the public purse, and the council only held reserves of 2 million pounds. So Slough Estates won a moral victory and few a few years we suffered the reduction in events such as fireworks.

Incidentally both places are now thriving shopping centres and The Howard centre DOES have more traditional shops and The Galleria is an outlet centre!!

Update ...... I have done a little more digging to try and find out exactly what money changed hands in the end. It seems that prior to the court case the council were offered an out of court settlement for 16 million pounds but shose to ignore it. They didn't pay all the money awarded but they did pay a huge chunk of it and they way they managed it was to use reserves and to 'sell' all their stock of council houses to a housing association releasing capital. They were limited to only using 25% of that money raised, by government legislation. They eventually settled with Slough Estates for 29 million pounds.