Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Heading for New Year....

I have been going through my photos and I have realised that I haven't taken that many for Christmas morning, I think its to do with the fact that my camera has broken (the battery flap has given up the ghost) I really need to get a new one, but I can't make up my mind what I want as of yet!
Beth had been after an ipod touch so she was really excited when she opened the present and found the desired item!! On speaking to people it seems to have been the must have item of the year, I expect Apple have made a fortune!!
Today I am back to work, where have the 4 days gone?? Looking forward to new years eve and the start of a brand new year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Moving on.

I can't believe how quickly the time flies, Christmas has gone in a flash, all those weeks and sometimes months of preparation gone in a flash. We have had a nice time, Christmas dinner at home with mum and dad and the children. A few games of cards, resulting in the loss of around 14p!!! Yesterday we spent boxing day at mum and dads, a nice lunch of cold meat and mashed potatoes, yum!!
Finally today I got around to clearing up the house and putting the gifts away, I have rediscovered my carpet in the living room. I have also taken a look around a few online sales and treated myself to a couple of bits and pieces. That has kick started my crafting and I have made a few 'thank you' cards. Tomorrow I might even risk a trip around the 'real' shops!!!
Happy New Year !!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Christmas.

It was the night before Christmas and we had visitors!! The Reeves were in town and spent the evening with us! It is quite amazing to think that it barely seems five minutes since Emma, Stuart and Laura were babies. Christmas eve was spent at one or other of our houses. The toddlers used to get so excited so we had to resort to Rod going outside and ringing some jingle bells. The kids then shot upstairs got into our bed and snuggled down , just in case Santa might be tempted to pass them by.
So time has moved on 23 years, same cast of people, with the welcome addition of baby Bobbie, who is nine months old, just a little too young to understand fully what is going on!

Beth has a real knack with the little ones, so she came into her own, entertaining Bobbie, who was as good as gold. She spent the whole evening being passed from one to another without as much a s a whine or a moan!

Hunny has a new bed which she has taken to straight away. She wasn't even bothered when Bobbie got up close to her!

Hunny was not going to move, whatever!

Christmas morning this year was very laid back, no one wanted to get up, there wasn't that frantic get up out of bed you have with little children, none the less we had fun opening our presents and getting the dinner ready.
For the first time ever I mislaid a present, I am missing one that I wrapped for mum, the only thing I can think of is that I have accidentally put it in a carrier bag and given it to someone else, so if you have a stray present that you don't recognise, from our house, let me know!!!
Today we are off to Mum and Dads for lunch and to play a few games of cards!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One More Sleep!

Beth has been busy baking all week, she has made several batches of shortbread , loads of fairy cakes and a fruit cake. The mixture for the shortbread was very soft, so it meant that she made some very unusual shapes, that didn't matter because they taste brilliant!!

I am at work today but I think everything is just about ready, we have friends around this evening so I have all the food sorted for that ready to cook when I get home. Dad is doing the turkey for tomorrow and I am doing the rest, all that is ready as well. I have left instructions for the delivery of the last couple of lots of presents and for someone to clean the bathroom, then we will be set.
Yesterday I had lunch at my friend from works house. It was lovely, we exchanged presents and my friend Steph made me an emergency car repair kit, she gave me a tool box containing engine oil a funnel, a poncho (for bad weather) and a bottle of coke to extinguish any fires!!! Best of all she gave me a Kath Kitson mug, I know how hard that was for her as she can't see the point of her designs AND she got it from John Lewis, a shop which we only ever walk through and never buy from!!
So off to work and then a few days off, Hurrah!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Snowman!!

Today we have struggled to get into work, the problem is that we have to use an underground car park and the slope is lethal, no grit so all the cars just slide down which is a problem as the area concerned is so narrow.
Today we took a walk into town, at last there was a crew of men clearing the snow off of the footpaths, but we were amused to spot this chap taking a well earned break on one of the benches ! The snow was perfect for this sort of construction, wet and once stuck together it has turned into a really solid ice man!!
The snow has thawed a bit tonight, but already its freezing again so it will be dangerous as all the water will turn to black ice. Take care out there!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Handmade Decorations.

Every year when we decorate the tree we get out the collection of decorations from the loft and they bring back memories of previous Christmas holidays and trips where we have bought decorations as a memento of that time. Over the years our tastes have changed but the decorations all seem to sit together well. Every year we add at least one new decoration to the tree and we have to sometimes swap them for those that have become tatty!
This year the first decoration is one I received in a swap, a beautiful hand made heart with a cute picture of a birdie, Thank you to Heather (cutnpaste) who sent me that.

This year we were in Brugge and my friend Madeline bought me this cute birdie from a really gorgeous shop that we found. We really could have stayed there for hours but it was packed with shoppers and when its like that I simply can't be bothered to fight my way though the crowds.I decided to wait outside, but Maddy bought this little birdie out for me!!

This is from Christmas past, a little wooden tree covered in red and green glitter from when Carl was at nursery, so its around 15 years old!

This is a jingle bell from France, this also has a story to tell. We stopped off at a hypermarket called Auchan, they had a nice Christmas department and Maddy and I spotted these lovely bells, only problem was the basket that they were in was empty, so we managed to find one with the price on and took six others from the beautifully decorated tree on display. There was a sign asking you not to remove the display items, but we were going to plead ignorance if anyone said anything, it was in French after all!!
Still got a good covering of snow the outside temperature is -3 and its nearly 11am!! we might yet get our white Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow has arrived!!!

It started last night, the roaring wind and the driving snow. Carl had a works do, so I volunteered to take him there on the understanding that he would try and get a lift back. While he was out, it started to snow, snow very hard! Carl called to say he couldn't get a lift back so I made a journey out to collect him. It was only 5 miles away, but it took me an hour, the roads were terrible, icy and very slippery. A car in front of me came up to some traffic lights, travelling faster than was safe. He touched the brakes and spun the car completely around so he was facing me, that was scary !! By the time I collected him from his 'do' it was blizzard conditions. On the way back we saw a very strange sight, green lightening followed by rumbles of thunder. I have never experienced anything like it . I hope it wasn't an explosion in a fireworks factory!!

When we got up this morning there was a very good covering of snow, but it was a beautiful bright blue crisp morning, so we called around to Mum and Dads to clear a path down to the chicken house for them. Once we had cleared the path, we let the chickens out, they came down to eat their breakfast and then disappeared back into their little warm house!!

Beth got up and came with us, she was very interested in the snow and snow balls, although she soon come to the conclusion that it was the wrong kind of snow, it wouldn't stick together!! She was pleased because school was called off, so nothing now until next year!!

On the way back home we spotted this little blackbird, he was hopping around puffing up his feathers to keep warm. He even posed for me on a garden fence!!
I went into work, but couldn't park the car as we have an underground car park that was impossible to get into or out of!! I had a short day and ended up doing some food shopping!!
This afternoon it started to snow again and the forecast for tonight is heavy snow, could be an interesting weekend!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Out and About in Ypres.

We spotted these lovely horses pulling their carriages around Ypres. We decided that we would take a trip but it wasn't easy to decide where they were going to stop, it seemed a bit hit and miss. So we eventually located a place in the square and hung around until the carriages appeared. Unfortunately Sandra could not resist the lure of the bright lights and the chance of a look around a shop or two, so we missed the first one that pulled up. (we could have got on and left her abandoned and we did give it some thought before deciding that wasn't very charitable!!)

We eventually managed to get on board and sat right at the front with a horses bum view of the journey!! The town is so pretty and they put an enormous amount of effort into the decorations.

Sandra and Madeline settling down for the trip.

Me and Sue trying to stay warm and dry!
The best thing about the trip was that it was free, you don't often get something for nothing anymore.

It was a really miserable day weather wise, so we found ourselves another coffee shop and went in for another hot chocolate!! The view from the coffee bar was pure chocolate box at Christmas!!

Now Christmas is nearing the weather forecast is saying that we may well get a little sprinkling of snow in the next few days. It would be nice to have a white Christmas for the first time in absolutely ages, fingers crossed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Fun.

I can't believe that its a week ago since we were in Ypres and dodging the showers ! There were these beautiful Christmas trees all in a nice line in the main street, we couldn't resist a peeping out shot!!

There were a fair few market stalls in cute wooden huts, which was just as well because with regular stalls, the stall holders would have got soaked!

Madeline with her purchases.

The shops were beautiful, lots of specialist sweetie shops all brightly lit and very inviting!

Sandra and Sue found a stall with some pretty decorations, Sandra then went on to chat up the poor bloke who was trying to sell his goods to her!!

We were in Ypres when Sandra discovered that she could take photos with her phone, it was a revelation and from that point of she was shooting everything! This made me laugh, she was trying her hand at night shots on her phone, not the easiest of subject with a proper camera!!
How about this for 'Fairytale' Christmas? a mixture of story book and Chitti Chitti Bang Bang, with a dash of navy blue sky and a chilly wind. Perfect. I love this photo !!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Around Europe in Food and Drink!

We decided while we were away to do as little cooking as possible, this we managed, we in fact did NO cooking what so ever!!We thought it was only right that we sampled the local fare, food and drink , to get into the full spirit of Christmas and of our holiday. There were plenty of bars and bistros, all serving a huge variety of food and drink and not a burger in sight!!

Here we are outside a very nice Brasserie, where we had just had lunch of Palma ham with melon followed by Belgium Brown beef stew in beer. It was really Delicious and filling. I was driving so I stuck to fizzy water, Sandra and Sue had a beer, which made them both rosy faced and giggly, seems that Belgium beer is far stronger than ours!!
My fizzy water came in a very nice bottle, it looked like a bottle of fine wine!

It was very busy in Bruges so we had to pace ourselves and we stopped a couple of times to try out a few hot chocolates!

When we got back to Sunparks we went to the bar for a cocktail. They were making a big issue of serving cocktails, but in the end they were a bit of a cop out. We ordered four and were disappointed when all the bar man did was set up 4 glasses with ice and then opened some pre mixed bottles. Mine was OK, but Sue was convinced hers was off and that they were trying to kill her. It did have a strange smell, but I put that down to the closeness of Sandra's feet!
Another hot chocolate and another cafe!!!
Belgium is famous for waffles, not sure why and it didn't seem to matter what you ordered they always gave you what they wanted to!. We definitely ordered waffles with cream and chocolate and what we got was waffles with ice cream. It was too hard to argue!
In the evenings our catering ran to the above pictured buffet!! Sandra ate a jar of pickled onions in one go, (all bar 5) we managed to take with us 6 boxes of exactly the same flavour pringles!! We did supplement the buffet with real food such as french pate and a selection of french cheeses, but there is something very nice about french bread with jam!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Home again.

I am just back from a very good weekend in Belgium and France. I travelled with some friends to stay in Sun Parks near the coast near to Dunkirk. We had a fabulous crossing, hard to believe that it was December. It was a sunny crisp day and the sea was calm, a very pleasant journey. I shouldn't have been surprised, but there were far fewer people on board compared to the summer. We had a choice of seating and parking the car was easy there were only about a dozen cars on the deck, Most of the passengers were lorry drivers!

In this picture you can just about make out the disappearing White Cliffs of Dover on the horizon.

Madeline, Sandra and Sue had not been on a ferry for a few years and they were impressed with how smooth things were, the seating was great, the shop was even better and I managed to get a few Christmas presents.
The plan for the weekend was fairly easy, when we arrived we stopped off at a hypermarket in Dunkirk. It was a massive Auchan, very organised you could pay in Euros or pounds!! They had loads of Christmas bits and pieces and we took the chance to stock up on food essentials (although we had bought a fair bit with us!!)
We finally arrived at Sunparks around 4pm. We went to a lovely Sunparks in kempense Meren last year, this one was completely different, it was on a main road, which was a bit of a shock as I always associate that kind of park with woodland. (its fairly similar to Centre Parcs) We got off on a bad foot as the signs weren't clear, we were looking for a check in described as a drive through, after driving all over the place we realised that this had changed and we had to find the reception. They forgot to mention that they only do a drive through in peak season!!
We went in and found the place to be deserted! The receptionist gave us our keys and we went down to villa 110. It was basic, but we had problems with the heating (temperamental!) we had missing curtains on the stairs and in the bathroom, so we ended up having to make do with t towels and scarfs!!
On the plus side the beds were fantastically comfortable!! I'll be back with more photos later in the week.!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

I am sailing !!!

We are at sea and it's dead calm and sunny I can't believe it !!! The others are off stuffing their faces on a full English I am saving myself !!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Two More Sleeps

Then we will be off to 'The continent' sounds posh, we are heading for Dover and taking the ferry to Dunkirk. I have my fingers crossed that we have a peaceful crossing with a beautiful calm sea with not a breath of wind.
The plan is to leave here around 6.30am, to allow for the M25 rush hour car park. Our crossing is at 10 but we have to be there an hour before. So then a calm crossing to Dunkirk, where we will hopefully drive to the huge hypermarket just outside Dunkirk. Here we plan to buy supplies and lunch, We are staying at a Sunparks complex near Dunkirk. The whole weekend has worked out at around £100 each including the return ferry crossing, the accommodation and petrol.
On Saturday we are going into Bruges to the Christmas market which is held in the grote markt. Bruges is a pretty city surrounded by canals, with cobbled streets and horse and traps. I want it to snow on Saturday and lie long enough for some photos and then disappear straight away afterwards!!
Sunday is undecided at the moment, a nice chill out day perhaps. Monday we will head back in the afternoon. I am looking forward to it!!!