Friday, November 30, 2012

Its beginning to feel a bit like Christmas.....

It has been quite an interesting week, I have been rushed off my feet all day at work, popped into home collected Tom and over to hospital to visit Mum, it has meant not getting home until nearly 8pm each night, then having a bite to eat and sitting down to watch I'm a celebrity.
Last weekend we went to the school Christmas Fair and Bobbie made this lovely snowman. It got me thinking that I should get my finger out and get preparations underway.

So I have wrapped all the presents that  have bought to date (and that not far off of all of them!!) I don't have much storage so I have had to box them up and put them under the stairs in the living room. I have some more to do, but I think I have made a real dent in it.

While watching I'm a celebrity I have been gainfully employed writing all my cards, I still have a few more to do, but after the past three years ending with me accompanying one or other of my parents in casualty, I thought it would be good to be ready early. I plan to go to Stevenage on Sunday and finish up the last few bits of shopping. Then I am going to make my food shopping list and finally get my cherry suitcase out in preparation for my girls weekend in Hamburg.

I have been keeping an eye on the weather in Germany and its looking like its going to be very cold, I hope we get a touch of snow to make it feel super Christmassy, fingers crossed. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

On My Bike.........

Well after my disastrous return to cycling, I decided that the next attempt should be more joined up and thought about!! We went out to the local bridle way known locally as 'Poo Alley' that was an incentive in itself not to fall off the bike!! Tom was ready with his trusty spanners so that he could adjust my saddle and I could cycle off into the unknown.  My problem is that as a 'youth' I rode my bike mounted and dismounted favouring my right leg, now that is my dodgy leg its not quite as easy to do. In the end I found that I could get my right leg over to get on, but I couldn't step through the middle, so the saddle had to be fairly low to enable me to do that. I finally sorted that out and got on and started pedalling AND managed to stay upright!!!

It was great to be back and having a go. I am going to build up slowly. I decided to use an app called Endomondo which I have on my phone, it tracks your route and tells you how far you have travelled and how many calories you have used. In the end I went down Poo Alley nearly to the road and then turned left. I cycled up to the traffic lights on the main road and then turned around and came back. On this journey I discovered that my bike has gears!!! I had no idea, but that makes my £20 even more of a bargain!!
So I did countless trips in Poo Alley just to make sure I could stay on, then the longer return trip, I think I have found my cycling legs again!!!  The round trip was 3/4 of a mile and I really enjoyed the wind in my face!! My hip wondered what had hit it, but  am hoping the extra movement will strengthen it and will be for the best. Lets see if I can still walk in the morning!!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sweet Sixteen!!!

Yesterday Beth turned 16!  The last in my run of birthdays and just a month to Christmas. 
She wanted some make up and make up brushes, she  also received money, itunes vouchers, nail varnish and cd's.

She had a good day, we went to Panshanger school to help at the Christmas fair, we have been going for years and years it feels like to start of the Christmas preparations once we have been there!

Beth wanted a cake to represent her lifesaving job, so Nicky make her a pool cake complete with swimmers and a replica of Beth as a life guard!!!

Last night she went out with her friends for a Chinese meal and a film afterwards. All in all a very good day!

Check out Beths Tenth Birthday, how things have changed!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I can Crochet!!!

I can knit, but I have never been able to crochet, so I have had a few lessons from my friend at work and surprise surprise, I can now crochet. I am amazed!! In fact I can crochet while watching telly, I am so pleased that at my late age I have cracked the technique and have joined the crochet club!
So what to do with it?? This square is now twice as big and I have had to go and buy more wool. It grows really fast. I am excited!!!

Today it has been awful, pouring with rain, blowing a gale and generally horrible. It was so dark at 2.30pm that all the street lights came on. That's what I hate about the winter.

The one thing I like about winter is that we get to watch I'm a Celebrity get me out of here!! Its a brilliant show, you get to watch semi famous people fall out with each other, eat awful food and generally live a very uncomfortable life while starving hungry, whats not to like???

As part of my attempt to get a little fitter I have bought myself a bike,I have been looking for a while, I wanted a Dutch style bike or a town bike (both similar and look a bit like bikes that Miss Marple might ride) So having looked for a while I finally found one on Gum tree  not too far away (Hitchin) and for a bargain £20!! Its a lovely metallic purple with white walled tyre, its ancient but its just what I had been looking for. We picked it up on Monday afternoon and I wanted to get it home and give it a go. In my head I was still 15 and able to ride around with no problems  in fact Madeline and I used to ride all over the place when we were living in Bedmond, what I had failed to take into consideration was that when I was 15 it was 37 long years ago and although my brain remembered cycling as an easy activity in real life it wasn't so straight forward. So we blew up the tyres and I was keen to try it out. I got me leg over (oo err missus) and got my feet on the pedals, it was then I realised that the saddle was too high and it was a bit of a reach to actually sit down. Well as I was on I decided to keep pedaling and headed off down the footpath in our little close.  I was quite pleased with myself, navigated around a tree and headed back to where Tom was locking up the car. I braked gently and stopped on the grass in front of the house. At this point I thought that the old adage about never forgetting about how to ride a bike was true. Very quickly I realised that I needed to get off of the bike, so I tried to get off the saddle (which was just about impossible) I was wearing a skirt which got stuck on the saddle, so I ended up hopping around on my left leg trying to hold the bike and free my skirt, when it quickly became clear that the only place I was going to end up was on the ground, so I fell on my backside in the mud!!! You know how it is when you take a tumble, I checked to make sure I wasn't injured, and then started to get up at precisely the same time as a group of laughing teenagers came around the corner, the look on their faces was a picture, strange middle aged woman 'crawling' on the wet grass/mud looking at a bike!!! They just ran away leaving Tom to try and assist me off of the ground!!
It hasn't put me off although my hip is even more dodgy this week, I will give it another go with a lower saddle and better weather, once I have mastered it, I am planning a trip out with my friend Jane who assures me she knows the way to a pub, which is a great incentive to become a cyclist again!!!!

Roll on summer time!!!

How Can I tell its nearly Christmas?????

Well its easy, someone ends up in hospital again. This time its Mum, she has been unwell over the past few days and yesterday was in a huge amount of pain with her knee, the GP thought she may have an infection in the joint so she was started on anti-biotics, but late yesterday afternoon was very unwell, very feverish and rambling not making any sense. It was a very busy night so we had a few hours to wait for an ambulance but eventually got into the Lister at 9.30pm.
They started IV antibiotics straight away and when I left at 1.30am they were trying to find a bed.. This morning she is in the clinical decision unit, still waiting for a bed but they said she was 'comfortable' (which I am sure she isn't!!) Looks like a few days or more up and down to Stevenage again. 
Apart from that I am getting started on my preparations for my trip to Germany which is fast approaching, after a big bit of good news yesterday I am looking forward to it even more now !!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Well and Truly Autumn!

This morning Tom and I took a walk around to see Mum and Dad, the last tree in the road was finally shedding its leaves. It looks stunning bright yellows leaves. It lights up in the autumn sun. It made me think about what it was, I have never considered what it might be. So tonight I looked it up and I now know we have a Sycamore tree!!

Hunny loves running around in the leaves!
The tree closest to our house is a flowering cherry with beautiful double pink blooms in the spring.

On the corner of the road is a hedge and every year this clematis blooms, it starts late and ends even later!!
So as I was on a roll, I looked that up as well and I have discovered that this is called  clematis cirrhosa, a variety called freckles. It flowers all through the winter and is very delicate !

On the other side of the road there are some trees that are stacked with red berries, they have more berries this year that I have seen before, I think that means we are in for a tough winter!!! Another look on google identifies this tree as a Hawthorne. I hadn't realised how ignorant I am of our local trees and countryside, when I was in primary school I was very knowledgeable, I used to press wild flowers and kept them in a scrapbook, I knew all the names and where you could find them. I seem to have forgotten so much, must be my age!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Samaritans Purse Christmas Shoebox Appeal.

Today Beth and I finally delivered our Shoe boxes to the toyshop in town. Every year for as long as I can remember we have packed up one or two boxes and dropped them off at the collection point.
Last years boxes ended up in Swaziland!! I was quite surprised that they went to Africa as most of the recipient countries are in Northern Europe, so we pack cold weather 'stuff'.

This year we started early, we went to Poundland and Home Bargains direct in Stevenage and stocked up on the essentials. They suggest soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, woolly hat, gloves and scarf, some sweeties, and then some age appropriate toys. We made up a boy and girl box so we added a mini train set, some toy cars, a kaleidoscope, a teddy, socks, a toy doll, colouring books, note books, pens, pencils, felt pens, Slinky's and some hair bits. Its a real boon to be able to buy the stuff from shops like poundland as they are very good value for money and you can get a great variety of things into the boxes!

We have made boxes for 4-9 year olds and we have again paid on line, which means that we will hear where the boxes end up. Its a great thing to do and I know that they are appreciated by the children who get them.

Have a look HERE its not too late to join in.

This has been quite a week lots going on, the election of the Police Commissioner happened and we now know that we have a commissioner who favours outsourcing the work of Police Staff, I think our future is looking very uncertain. Best I get my finger out and see if there is anything else that I want to do!!!
Have a good weekend. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Election of Police and Crime Commisioners

Next week the country will go to the Polls to vote in the new Police and Crime Commissioner. This is a brand new role which will be able to hire and fire the Chief Constable and will be responsible for the direction of policing over the whole of the County. This is not a small job and carries a huge amount of responsibility

Also tied up in this election is the current budget situation for our County. Herts Constabulary have to save 36 million pounds over the next few years while still delivering a first class service.
In an effort to do this the force has collaborated with other surrounding forces to reduce the cost of service delivery while maintaining the excellent service.

Police Officers are only part of the story, to enable Police Officers to do their job they are supported by Police Staff. Police Staff work in all aspects of Police work. Did you know that Police staff carry out all of the following roles ;-

Scenes of Crime Officer.
Case Workers.
Police Community Support Officers.
999 call takers
Crime Recorders.
Driving Instructors.
Police Trainers.
Crime Analysts
Inteligence operators.
Central Ticket Office.
Firearms Licencing Officers
Detention Officers
Front Desk Officers

These roles are the tip of the iceberg and if those jobs are not carried out the idea of putting more Police Officers on the street fades into the distance. If these jobs are not carried out by Police staff then who will do those jobs? Some jobs used to be carried out by warranted Police Officers, so a reduction in Police staff could lead to a reduction of visible Police Officers.

So what does the election of the new Commissioner have to do with all of this??
Herts, Beds and Cambs Police have announced that they intend to save the required money by outsourcing some of the above functions to security firm G4S. This would mean that the loyal police staff who have worked so hard to make Herts Constabulary one of the top performing forces in the country will work for the firm who were unable to deliver at the Olympic games! This is causing a huge amount of unrest within the staff who are worried about their future. 

What can you do?? Well inform yourself about what the four candidates are saying that they will do if they get the job. Keeping jobs in the public sector is the best way forward, again this week G4S have failed in the running of prisons in Yorkshire. They have been stopped in their attempt to take over the running of more prisons. Is it really safe to leave your Police Service in their hands???

Please use your vote, 
with an expected low turn out, every vote counts.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Fireworks!!!!

Last weekend finished with a bang when we set off some fireworks. The poor dog was not impressed, in fact she had a terrible day if you include the visit to the vets for her booster jab!!
As the week has gone on she seems to have become used to the noisy fireworks but by next year she will be back to her usual scary self!!

I have had a busy week, a couple of courses out of the county, one in Cambridge at the Anglia Ruskin University. That was hard to find and even harder to find a parking space. The following day I was in London at Kings Cross which was easier to find, but the trains were all over the place. There had been a break down in Huntingdon and somehow that managed to effect trains in and out of London, so I waited on the platform with Hundreds of other people and when the train turned up it was standing only all the way to Kings Cross!! Once I had arrived it was a 10 minute walk to the venue, which took me twenty minutes as a had no idea where I was going!!
I had a very good day, the course was interesting and  can see that it would be something I would be interested in doing in the future. I'll have to wait and see if the chance comes up!

Madeline bought me these beautiful orange roses, they have lasted the whole week and now they are out they are stunning. Orange roses are the best!!

This morning it has been very wet and miserable weather, we popped around to see Mum and Dad and on the way back I noticed these hardly little flowers by my front door. There are quite a few of them braving the cold. I expect they will be OK until we get a hard frost. 

This weekend seems to be the weekend for all the TV adverts for Christmas to hit the screens. Some of them are great, I oddly like the Iceland one, a Willy Wonka homage!!! On the plus side its beginning to feel a  lot like Christmas. Can't wait until I go on the 'girls' trip to Hamburg. We have done many Christmas Markets, but this will be the first real German market in Germany.
Check it out here .

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Happy Late Halloween!!

Last night we had a late Halloween party, Madeline and Grace came over and we all got dressed up!!
Grace came dressed as a Zombie Bride.......

I dressed up as a witch, (mainly because I am nearly a full witch without too much effort required on my part!) I did push the boat out and bought orange and black stripey socks and a matching witches hat!!

Carl dressed as a Sim (you can see his life diamond above his head) He also re-enacted his fall and cut eye where he ended up in hospital !!(Nice!!)

Madeline's outfit was brilliant, she came as a crazed cat with a very realistic axe it its head!

Beth was a zombie Burlesque dancer complete with realistic bloody cuts (yuk)

Tom was dressed as Super Mario, with a bit of a green tinge and thanks to Beth he was rocking a Hitler tash and eyebrows!!! 
We had a great evening with fireworks to round it off. We had a narrow escape when one of the big shot fireworks which was secured in a bucket of earth, decided to  flip over and started to shoot fire balls towards us, we had to make a swift run into the house to avoid injury and disaster.
I really love Halloween, one of the best celebrations of the year!!!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A Few Days Away.

Half term is upon us and we decided to have a few days away, we were lucky enough to be able to use a chalet in Caister owned by our friends. It made a nice break away from work and school.
We managed to meet up with some friends while we were away and had a night at the dogs. Better than that we had an afternoon in the club on the site watching 'world class wrestling'

Well its a long time since I was at Watford Town Hall watching the wrestling, but this was brilliant, they came on wound up the audience and then put on a great synchronised display of wrestling!!! It was a great spectator sport, we watched the audience as much as we watched the wrestlers. On the other side of the room was  a 'lady' who was getting really stuck in, she was screaming and shouting at the wrestlers, while holding her baby under her arm!!! 
After the three bouts there was a chance to have photos taken, so posing with Beth is the masked Alex and Pretty Boy Joey (he was rather easy on the eye despite wearing Budgie Smugglers!!)

I love Halloween, because we were deep in the countryside we were able to buy these two beauties for 90p each!! Beth carved them and we went all high tech, using battery tea lights to illuminate them. The tea lights were a bargain, three for a pound at Poundland. We had them on three evenings and then overnight last night and they are still going strong!!

We are looking forward to the weekend when we have the chance of dressing up and celebrating with Madeline, John and Grace. I have my witches outfit all sorted!!!

So now thoughts are turning to Christmas, I was reading one of my craft magazines when I spotted this scooter, its something that I want, I don't need it but I would really like it. The next problem is Kirsty Allsop is on it, so even if I could get one it would no doubt be really expensive, I'll have to keep my eye open for a reasonable priced large wheeled scooter not being ridden by Kirsty Allsop!!