Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!!!!

We have reached that time again when we are staring the New Year in the face and reviewing the year that is nearly over. I have much to be grateful for and lots to look forward to. I think on balance 2012 has had more good times than bad!

We started 2012 with our usual hospital in patient stay, Dad had an operation on a blocked bowel  and ended up in the Lister Hospital. We were lucky to avoid more unplanned hospital trips right up until Mum went in in November, so that counts as a good year.

We had a lovely cruise with Madeline, John,Tina, Rod and Bobbie back in May. Great trip with great friends.

Love this photo, Rod looking excited and John looking 'underwhelmed'!!!!

Over the spring and summer I was able to spruce up the conservatory and invested in a pretty dresser and had an armchair converted to make myself a comfortable work space. All I need now is a way of keeping things warm enough to work in and I'll be happy!!

We were able to finally replace the banisters in the living room. We have lived her for 25 years and I have never liked the banisters,(dark brown 'planks') but they were perfectly serviceable so it never seemed to be something we could afford to change on a whim. Finally we had enough money to get them changed and I am so pleased that we have had them done. It has lifted the room and it seems much brighter now. 

My jewelry making and bead making has been going from strength to strength, I have taken quite a few classes with my friend Debbie. (silver work, glass fusing and a combination bead making and jewelry making class) We bought ourselves a 'market barrow' and set up at a fair and sold our wares. We are hoping to be able to progress that avenue next year looking at specialist beads. Watch out for some exciting news in the new year from us!!

Carl graduated from Middlesex University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. We are very proud of  him and were thrilled when he found himself a job as a NQT at a local school. 

This year was also the Olympics year. London was hosting and there were loads and loads of things going on all over the country. The torch came through WGC so Karen and I went into town to see the torch arrive. It was a lovely day, which finished with a good downpour which soaked us all!!

This chap was on a bill board at Heathrow Airport.

Despite trying to buy tickets for ANY Olympic event we were unsuccessful. So we decided in the end to go up to London and see if we could get a spot to view the men's Triathlon. We travelled up by train and joined the crowds of people at Hyde park corner jostling for a place. We were able to find a spot and we stood and waited for the cyclist to ride by. I took loads of photos, but I am pleased with this one of the eventual first and second placed athletes, the Brownlee brothers. It was a great experience that I thoroughly enjoyed!

We spent our main summer holiday in Ireland, which was a country of big contrasts, the North was full of place names that I remember from my teenage years and not for very good reasons. It was good to see the Giants Causeway and the Titanic exhibition. The second part of the holiday was spent in the south and that was a complete change. I enjoyed the scenery, but the roads were something else!!!

For Beth this was the year where she had knee problems, she hurt her knee during a trampolining exam at school and that ended up in many trips to the hospital, knee supports and braces and the eventual decision not to do sports at school for the foreseeable future or until the knee is strong enough to deal with the stresses and strains of sports.

Right at the beginning of the year Laura finally found a one bedroom flat that she liked and was eligible to move into from the council list. It was not very nice inside and needed completely painting, every single room. So with Help from Tom, Beth, Emma and Dan it was spruced up and she moved in....

For me the biggest news of the year is that I have managed to lose some weight. I have lost 8 1/2 stones since January, I can't believe the change in me. I wanted to lose weight as my hip has been very painful and I would have no chance of an operation without losing the weight. So no time like the present!!!

So this was me on my birthday in February.

This is me last week!
I have had loads of support from my friends and family and I am looking forward to continuing this journey in the new year. 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Fast Heading into New Year.

Well good news first, we have managed to avoid a trip to A and E on Boxing day, so that is a huge improvement. Long may it last!!
We went around to see Mum and Dad for tea on Boxing day, played cards for a bit and left once the carer turned up to get Mum off to bed!!

Here we are in full gambling mode...

Sadly not too much of the money was coming our way, we think that Mum was relying heavily on her deafness and dodgy sight to 'accidentally' play wrong cards, something we didn't catch onto until quite late on in the evening!!!!

Not to worry, it was all part of the fun!!

We were only left with a few pennies!!!
Well it was bound to happen we couldn't escape a Christmas without some sort of illness, today both Tom and I have come down with a mega sore throat and we both feel generally rubbish. So its dosing ourselves up and trying to keep warm. It always happens at Christmas. 
Happy New Year, can't wait for 2013, I am hoping for big things !!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Christmas!!!!

Well Christmas has nearly gone, but we have had a great time so far. This afternoon we are having tea at Mum and Dads, which will be nice. I was very lucky with my gifts this year. Laura bought me a 'Storm Glass'  I had been after one of those for a while but they have always been quite expensive. Its a barometer which indicates what the weather will be like in the coming days. It has some sort of crystals in the bottom (the fuzzy white stuff you can see in the tube above) When I set it up yesterday you couldn't see the crystals at all, they were hidden in the wooden base. I had to prime the tube by shaking it and warming it with a hair dryer. Once it settled it indicated rain, its still indicating rain and I think it will for a good long time yet!!!

I like a bit of weather info, I have had a weather 'thingy' for some while when all of a sudden it gave up the ghost and started to predict all sorts of erratic weather, the little man was wearing swimming trunks (indicating hot weather) while the back ground was showing snow flakes!! It was clear that something was not well. No amount of fiddling made any difference  so I asked for a new one for Christmas, Carl got me this one, which works beautifully!!!

As I make jewellery I seem to have quite a lot of it. Beth bought me this lovely mannequin to hang my bits and pieces on. Its very pretty.

A gift from another friend, perfect for my dresser. These are only a few of the things that I have received. Thank you to all my family and friends !!!

Finally you can't beat a hand made original, beautiful painting from my God daughter Emma, she is very talented at painting and I love this picture!!!

Onto Christmas dinner, the turkey was quite a big one, so I got up at 7.30 to get it in the oven, we had been out the night before so I hadn't got around to doing much else so I had to make an apple pie and prepare all the veg. We finally sat down to dinner around 1.45pm a bit later than planned!!!

We we totally staff afterwards and didn't have supper until around 9.30pm!!! We popped around to see Mum and Dad and will be going back there for tea today.
Roll on New Year!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nearly There....

Only one day of work left until the celebrations begin. I have just about done everything. Today I needed to buy cooking apples for my Christmas day pie. I had tried at Tesco's, Morison's, Aldi and Lidls, but they had all sold out.So today I called into the local green grocers on the way to collect the turkey. He had only just opened and he said I was the third person after cooking apples this morning. He said he sold out yesterday afternoon, when a local hotel bought up his entire stock. He is sure that some famous chef on the telly has used Apples to do something trendy with, causing a last minute rush of panic apple buying. So all our plans of not having to shop tomorrow were very nearly scuppered, that is until we decided to go to church this evening. Last year we went to Midnight Mass , I say went to midnight mass, we actually went to several, but didn't manage to get a seat at any of them, we did a church crawl that left us feeling unsatisfied.  So this year we decided to go to Sunday night evening mass, beating the rush. We went to Holy Family which is opposite Shoplands parade, so with the best of divine intervention after church  we noticed that Co-op was open so we popped in and found - COOKING APPLES!!!!! What a result, Tom can have a lie in in the morning and not fight his way around the shops! I can make my apple pie after I get home from work - Perfect!!!!

Beth has been helping and has already baked up a couple of batches of fairy cakes. (They are British fairy cakes and not American Cup Cakes) They look and taste lovely!!

Earlier in the week my friend Madeline bought me a lovely bouquet of my favourite orange roses. These are really beautiful. They haven't wilted or given up the ghost they are strong and smell divine. I don't know where they came from, but they are a really good buy. Thank you Madeline!

Both Madeline and I bought ourselves these pretty little Christmas trees when we were in Germany. You light a tea light in the bottom and the heat spins the tree around. You have to be very precise about where you put the tea light to make it work, but its very pretty. :)

Finally I have solved a problem that has worried me since I came back from Ireland way back in the summer. While out there I came across a delicious drink, Bulmers Light cider. It has only got 92 calories in a tin and its really delicious. I invested in a few to bring home with me. I have now run out and started to look around our shops to restock my supply. I haven't been able to find Bulmers Light anywhere, I was getting desperate  I even considered making a return trip to Ireland (that's true desperation!!!) When I decided on a Google search - Success I have found that all the big supermarkets sell it BUT its called Magners over here!!! Why??? We have Bulmers Cider (or perhaps we had Bulmers Cider) Anyway it doesn't matter I will invest in some Magners Light - Amber nectar - Lovely!!!!

Happy Christmas to you all 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Out in Hamburg.

It was bitterly cold, so cold that the river was mostly frozen. We had a walk over one of the bridges and decided to take a break at a traditional German restaurant. It was lovely and warm in there and the food smelled delicious. We were give a menu and it announced that it was 'curly kale' season!!! We just wanted a snack so we had a few dishes between us, thick soups and a baked cheese with deep fried curly kale!! It was delicious. Best of all it was warm in the restaurant and that was essential!!!

I need to crop this photo to get rid of the street sign on the right, but we finally found a man who was carrying his own camera, so I thought he must at least be able to take a few photos!! this is one of the best ones of us in front of the town hall.

Another view from the bridge near the restaurant.

The street above had lots of expensive shops, the sign is not too difficult this time, it translate to New Wall!!!

The sign at the entrance to one of the markets, google translate says its Weiber Magic!!! If you look carefully you can see that someone has thrown a pair of trainers over the first 'E' !!!

This tree was spectacular, thousands of lights!

This is one of those traditional 'thingies' you see in tradition German markets, I have no idea what they are called but they are very pretty and I bought a mini candle version back with me!!

We have all just about recovered so I am starting to think of our next destination, Germany again? Austria? France, perhaps Italy, who knows!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Welcome to the Parade!!!

Last Saturday afternoon I was living it up in Hamburg, the whole city went Christmas mad!
There was a Christmas Parade through the main street, with dancing gingerbread men and candy canes.

All the floats had snow machines, we were right in the firing line of this one, it was a blizzard of soap suds!!

I was concerned about this float the creatures were reindeer , but the definitely had the look of chickens about them !!!

These angels and father Christmas' were all wrapped up well, had their thermals on underneath !!!

After the parade we joined the crowds walking down to the massive market outside the town hall, it soon became clear that we had made a bit of tactical error, seems the rest of the spectators had the same idea, so we ended up more squashed than a crowd exiting Wembley Stadium, we found ourselves shuffling along between the market stalls not able to see anything or stop!!! Worse than that the heat from the stalls and the crowds was making the snow on the roofs of the stalls melt and we kept getting doused with avalanches of wet sloppy snow. It wasn't long after that we decided to head for the 5th bar of the day to thaw out and get warm!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Food, Food and more Food.

The Christmas markets seemed to consist of lots of food stalls, from the sweet gingerbread ones, right through to a stall doing steak sandwiches and all things in between. The aroma of food was overwhelming and it was hard to stop your mouth watering, add to that the Mulled wine stalls, coffee shops and the everyday bars we were spoilt for choice!

There were wares of every sort, this stall was selling very reasonably priced olive wood tree decoration plus a selection of beeswax candles.

More gingerbread, what surprised me about these was the weight, I was expecting rather hefty gingerbread biscuits, the ones you buy locally in Simmonds weigh a ton, I was expecting the same, but these were as light as a feather, it was almost as if the gingerbread was whipped . They were still crisp and lovely though.

One stall was selling these beautiful birds houses, I wish I had bought one, I think perhaps one on its own might have been lonely and not so attractive as this whole town of houses!! 

These chocolate covered fruits were a real find, the chocolate was delicious and it was three of my five a day, banana, strawberry AND cocoa Beans!!!

On the same stall were toffee covered apples and skewers of toffee covered grapes, the chocolate apples looked pretty good as well. The funniest thing that we saw, (and bought) was marzipan potatoes...

They looked so realistic that I took a couple home for Tom as a gift!!!!! I hope that Sue went through with her plan to serve them to her hubby the following night with his dinner!!!

On the evening of the second day we were walking back to the hotel after dinner when we were messing around taking photos in the snow, it wasn't really that picturesque, outside a shell service station!! anyway I took a few of the others and they took some with me included, when this guy who was filling his Taxi with fuel in the service station, with several passengers on board, ran over and offered to take a picture with all of us together, He took the above photo handed the camera back and went on his way!!!! I have no idea how he managed it, my camera was on automatic and takes a good photo no matter what!!! Still it was the thought that counts!!