Friday, 26 September 2014

More happies on a Friday

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on my last post. I’m so pleased to be a part of the ‘precious things’ collaboration that Sarah devised.

It’s been a busy week. I’ve been struggling to fight off a cold which seems to have burnt itself out without too much paracetamol or sniffing. So, BigR’s first full week at school was tiring for me as well as her! Trying to remember what day library books get taken in, to tick off her dinner choice in the morning and also to get to grips with phonics. How anyone learns to read is beyond me. It’s really hard! It’s here I could go all education research-y and talk about unconscious incompetence but I won’t! Safe to say I think I’m more traumatised by the whole thing than BigR who is just keen to talk about obscure rhyming words (no more show and go, it’s flair and ├ęclair!!). We’ve also had the first head lice letter through the magic portal. The ABO and I are now constantly itchy even with the lack of lice...for now. Any tips on dealing with it for an under 2 year old? Even the combs have age restrictions on them!!!

I picked some blueberries off the bush in the garden and made a cake. It’s my fail safe recipe from here.
The blueberries were really delicious. Very sweet and certainly benefitting from a few extra weeks to ripen after first turning that deep blue-purple. The cake was good too and gone in a flash.

Last Sunday the girls and I went to Harlow Carr to collect fallen leaves and have a walk. It was mild when we left home, although I took jumpers and coats for the girls, I forgot mine. It was cool in the shade and I was really pleased from a brisk walk when we were in the cover of trees. It was so good to see their Autumnal planting, there was so much colour and so many flowers. BigR loved hiding under the ‘umbrellas’ as she calls them – to me they seem to be leftover from prehistoric times.

We love to see the kitchen garden and there was a vast field of pumpkins and different gourds.

I loved the dahlias. BigR loved the gentian (Elsa flowers!). LittleR loved it all.

We’ve been decorating and finally the hallway is finished. The woodwork is painted and more importantly dry! It was a stress keeping our two girls away from the doors whilst they were drying! Now we’re trying life without a stair gate...although it might go back on upstairs just for peace of mind...

I love how light and fresh it feels, what a difference having colour on the walls makes. It really highlights the picture we bought in Cornwall (not shown in the photo, the picture at the top of the stairs is by an unknown (to us - there's no name!) Leeds artist). It's given it a new lease of life. After school this afternoon we went to get some photos of the girls printed to go along the stairs, we’ve had them portrait this time rather than landscape, and again, it looks really different.

It’s been a good week.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Precious things

I’m delighted and really exited to have been asked by Sarah at Mitenska to become part of this blogging collaboration. Sarah asked what are our precious things? What would we save from a burning building? It’s really made me think about the things I have and what I would miss. Perhaps things I see and use every day and yet don’t always register.

This small postcard sized ink drawing in its dusty (and cheap) frame is my first item. It sits amongst the toys on our living room fireplace. It was one of many pictures that sat on the hearth, initially to cover the horrendous fireplace (we changed that) but we’re now down to two. It’s an ink drawing street in Monmartre at night with the Sacre Coeur in the background. I bought this in 1998 when I went to a conference in Paris.
This was a significant trip for me, although at the time it didn’t feel like it. It was the first time I’d travelled alone. It was the first time I explored a city alone and entirely able to do as I pleased. It was the first time I’d had to present and defend my work to a (pretty big – eek) audience. I walked and walked and walked and walked. Along the Seine. Through Monmartre. Around La Defense. I went to the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay. I ate steak and chips alone in a restaurant served by a surly Parisian waiter. It wasn’t the romantic trip lots of people have to Paris. It was an international conference on obesity and my head was full of genetics and the work presented there was a chapter in my thesis. It was when I felt like a real academic. When I felt that I was contributing to the world and I wanted to remember this. I looked at the pictures the artists had on display on the streets, thinking I’d like to take a little piece of this with me. It took me ages to decide which to have. Something about this one, drawn and coloured on a piece of brown paper, spoke to me. Now it reminds me of a time when my work was most important, when the Rs weren’t even considered and when I was building up to be who I am now.

Joining in with
Sarah at Mitenska
Leanne at Today’s Stuff

You’ll find their Precious Things there.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Friday happies on a Friday

I can hardly believe it is Friday already this week. The time (especially as I’ve been off work) has just been zipping by. It’s been a couple of weeks of change not only in the season, there’s definitely more than a sniff of autumn in the air but also changes for us. BigR started school and turned 5. I survived a children’s party and the immense pressure of pass the parcel (who knew it was sooooo stressful? Making sure every child had a turn, making sure it wasn’t my child that ‘won’ the big prize – or maybe that’s just me?!). I also survived another bout of sickness which led to an extra couple of days off work for me to care for LittleR (she was fine but there was a 48 hour exclusion period after illness so she couldn’t go to nursery!). We’ve been switching things round at home too. Clearing a few things out – this time of year really appeals to my getting organised side. We’ve changed BigRs room a little bit by giving her a big girl bed and some new wardrobes now the old furniture doesn’t fit in the room (they’re still to be delivered and then built!). We’ve made upstairs a bit more play friendly by moving some toys into LittleRs room so it’s more of a play room for the girls too. I’m feeling exceptionally smug about my pinterest find for Barbie type’s stopped me stepping on them. Of course, it could be they just have too many toys....

So in no particular order and joining in with Gillian, here are my happies.

The garden
I’ve been loving being outside. The ABO has been on lates so I’ve been doing the school pick up (still not quite used to that) and we’ve been having an hour in the garden before tea. It’s really helped to ensure a good night’s sleep for everyone! LittleR cannot get enough of being outside. Someone just has to mention the word garden and she’s off to get her shoes. She really cannot get enough of it.

We seem to have quite a few sunflower buds appearing. I thought they’d flower a lot earlier who knew they’d be perfect in September?

 I’m enjoying the second flurry of flowers my clematis are having. The deep red one was bought as it has the same name as LittleR (there’s also a heuchera in the garden with BigR’s name - no one is left out) and the purple one appeared in a flower pot of sweet peas my Dad gave me a few years ago. Can you see the green beetle in the purple one? I wonder if he thought he was shielded by the flower centre? Not sure what he is or if he’s a danger to my clematis but I was struck at the colour contrast.

We’ve had great success with our blueberries. I was a little bit quick off the mark and offered one to BigR about 3 weeks ago which she declared disgusting. An extra few weeks of ripening and they are delicious.

I’m also very pleased with the success of our pepper. It’s not very big but is turning a beautiful red colour. I wonder when it’ll be best to pick?

BigR is loving school. She didn’t cry. I didn’t cry. I ate biscuits and wondered about the house being quiet.
One thing I am amused by is the magic portal of the school bag. BigR comes home and messages are imparted via the magic portal. I am amazed by the sheer number of letters she has had already. Also, it has magical properties. She brings home a wonderful creation (or some tat – for example she may have brought home a 12 egg egg box filled with pom poms and wool cuttings and still wet pva glue) which we consider as decoration in various places in the house before LittleR grabs it and attempts to inhale the contents thereby it makes its way back into the magic portal not to be seen again.
We live opposite her school. This is good for a whole number of reasons. However one downside was realised today. The ABO was sorting something in his car boot and she was outside (in a lesson) which resulted in lots of shouting ‘Hello Daddy!!’. We joked that she’d be asking where we were if the car was not on the drive when she was at school!!

BigR was 5 on Monday. Five. Five. How did that happen?
We all survived the party and the present opening and all the grandparents visiting before school in the afternoon. She had a fabulous time. She loved her ‘Frozen’ party and her ‘Elsa cake’ (which even though I say so myself, was delicious, and yes I had the final slice!).

Elsa barely leaves her side now.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The year in books - September

Well August came and went in what seemed to be a flash. With that went my reading too. I seem to have fallen off the reading horse. No books finished at all in August (unless you count hundreds and hundreds of children’s Oh OK).

Well a fresh new start for September. I’ve already said how much I love this time of year. This September I will be reading the new Ann Cleeves novel in the ‘Shetland’ series 'Thin Air' (which is published tomorrow) and also finishing the Elizabeth Jane Howard novel (it’s good so I don’t know what happened to me!) I started in August.

Once again joining in with Laura and the Year in Books.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


I love this time of year. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils (yes that was a “You’ve Got Mail” quote). I really get the New Year feeling, must be the academic in me never letting go of the start of the school term! It’s been a part of my life for 36 years! And’s going to be part of BigR’s life. Today is BigR’s last day at nursery and tomorrow afternoon she goes to school for the first time. By rights I should be at work but I’m at home as LittleR was unwell yesterday. Still the illness only last 8 hours and she was wolfing down food yesterday afternoon. Back to normal (but obeying the 48 hours illness rule).

Big R is ready for school. More than ready. She’s 5 in less than a week but...all of a sudden I am not. I think I’m mourning the loss of our flexibility more than anything. Wondering if she'll be OK (I know she will). Still I guess it’s a big change for us all. And she can’t wait to be able to read herself. So today I had a moment of what it’ll be like when the ABO is on earlies and BigR is at school. I spent the morning with LittleR and we did ‘jobs’. She’s good company! Loves pointing out babies – ‘Baby! Shhhh’ and anything emblazoned with ‘Minnie’, ‘Kitty’ or ‘Peppa’.

We went to Ikea to get a few organising bits and a chair for LittleR to (hopefully) stop the squabbling over who gets to sit on the chair. I love this time of year to clear stuff out and get stuff done. So with that in mind, I treated myself to a new notebook and some paper tapes there too (it would’ve been rude not to) but managed not to overdo it too much! We had a coffee (me) and some cucumber snacks and animal biscuits (LittleR, oh OK and me) Then, we stopped off to get some new bedding for BigR’s big girl bed.

Now LittleR is napping and when I’ve finished this I’m going to do some of the necessary domestic jobs (clear away lunch, hang out the washing, tidy up the toys again)...and arrange my dishwasher tablets into their new container. That really pleases me.