Sunday, 1 February 2015

Snow Days and Snowdrops

On Thursday morning it snowed round here.  My husband's school had sensibly had an emergency meeting on Wednesday and, being positioned up in the hills and prone to snowfall, they decided to close for Thursday, hence he had a snow day. (I made sure he had a list.  You know, clean the bathrooms, hoover the house, make the dinner,....)

At my school the snow started at 8am and seemed to come as a complete surprise to everyone (even thought the Met Office had forecasted it precisely) so there was chaos as staff couldn't get in, pupils couldn't get in, parents kept turning up during the day to take their children home early, sixth formers decided to go home without permision, etc.  My lessons were in disarray - in one lesson I had one pupil - they got private tuition!

However, the snow was very popular with daughter who, the minute she got home, rushed out with daddy to make Winston:

(Named after Churchill; it's hard to see in the photo, but he does have a cigar and is making a "V"sign - how our children grow up!)

Then yesterday, instead of going to the beach as we had planned (yes, really, we were going to go to Crosby to see the Gormley installation) we just went back to Dunham Massey to see the snowdrops:

 (Dunham was listed in this month's Countryfile magazine as one of the top 10 Winter Gardens in Britain!)
Of course, we took the opportunity to play in the snow as well:

Friday, 30 January 2015

New Year Resolutions

I know it seems a bit late to be talking about New Year Resolutions, but as I've only just come back to my blog, I'm doing it now.

This year my New Year Resolution fits with the mindfulness that I'm trying to embrace in my life to reduce stress and anxiety, so not only will it benefit my body, it should benefit my mind as well.

I've decided to do something which I've known for a long time is good for me, but I didn't really make the effort.

Every week I am going for a walk!

Sounds simple, I know, but actually getting out, whatever the weather, for just 30 minutes of daylight and fresh air is something I just didn't manage before. There was always an excuse.  Something else to do, daughter reluctant to be dragged out, too cold, too wet, too difficult.

So, since Jan 1st I have been for a walk every weekend.  I've been to some local gardens (dragging daughter 10 feet behind me), I've been to Dunham Massey Park (bribed daughter with chocolate cake in cafe at end), I've been to Lyme Park with friends and best of all, I can fit in a 30 minute walk whilst daughter is at Pony Club on Sundays.

It really seems to work.  A bit of daylight, the wind (and sometimes rain) on my face reconnects me with the world and puts problems in perspective.  Hopefully, as the weather improves I'll be able to do more and will reap even more benefits.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Christmas Cake

Following a request to post a picture of my latest Christmas cake, I will oblige.  However, the Christmas cake seems to have taken second place to the Gingerbread House now in the Working Mum house.

In fact, this Christmas I spent about an hour quickly decorating my cake before dashing out to sing at The Bridgewater Hall whilst daughter and I spent two days making the Gingerbread House.  So I will post both.

The Christmas Cake was hastily decorated with baubles on ribbons:

I'm sure that more time I would have done better; there's too much red.  I think all gold ribbons and baubles in different colours decorated with royal icing would have been better.

On the other hand, the Gingerbread House was a confection of chocolate buttons, jelly tots, smarties and glacier fruit stained glass windows:

I think the Gingerbread House wins!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Stamford Military Hospital

As part of the National Trust's World War I commemorations, Dunham Massey Hall has been transformed into its former use during the war as Stamford Military Hospital. 

As we are NT members we've visited a few times and daughter and I went again on Saturday for a walk around the gardens and park.  Here are the two garden sculptures dedicated to the soldiers that passed through Dunham:

Each block represents one of the 282 soldiers that came to Dunham and features each soldier's admission number.

Each leaf represents one of the regiments whose soldiers came to Dunham, and a poem written by a soldier of that regiment whilst convalescing there.

The hall is currently closed but will open again on Valentine's Day.  If you're in the area it's worth a visit, and not just for adults.  I've been surprised at how interested daughter has been in the whole exhibition, the questions she has asked and how much she has learned about that time and the soldiers and nurses involved.  It won't be there forever, they'll be turning it back to Dunham Massey Hall, so don't miss it!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hello again

It's me. 

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Working Mum.

It's been a while, I know

In fact it's been six months.

A lot has happened in six months, but I'm still here.  Still working and slightly less "on the verge" than I was last June.  Mindfulness seems to be helping with the stress at work, Manchester Chorale is still keeping me sane and hubby has been given more time at work to do his job and has stopped working Saturdays, so all in all life is improving.

In fact, Saturdays are no longer a day to be dreaded; trying to get daughter to do homework, music theory, piano practice and clarinet practice, but now a day for more "Family Days Out".

Providing that City aren't playing, we plan and arrange a family day out.  We even put it on the kitchen calendar so nothing can override it.

So far we've been to Norton Priory:

Erddig for the Apple Festival:
(here's daughter trying to shoot an apple)

Manchester Museum, Imperial War Museum North, Lyme Park, Speke Hall and Rufford Old Hall.

Then last October daughter joined The Pony Club:

...... which may sound like an extra job for me, but........

.......... while she's busy mucking out, grooming and doing badges, I can go for a walk round the park and then call in the stables cafe for a cup of tea, sit on a comfy sofa and read my book!  Bliss!

 And now, with renewed optimism, I feel the need to blog again.

I think I'm back.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Sneaky Sweets

Our local greengrocer also sells old fashioned sweets by the quarter at a very reasonable 70p, so sometimes Izzy takes her pocket money and buys some.

On Saturday I told her that we needed to go to the greengrocers so she needed to hurry up and get dressed.

A few mintues later she appeared wearing her City shirt.

"Odd", I thought, "City aren't playing today"

and we set off.

When we got to the greengrocer's I realised that the owner is a City fan himself, and what did he say when weighing out Izzy's sweets?

"While you're a City fan, you can have a few extra"

and added a few more to the scales free of charge.

She's all there with her cough drops my daughter!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Cake Catastrophe

Tomorrow is my mum's 65th birthday.

My dad decided that we would have a family barbecue to celebrate.

I offered to make a cake, but dad said he would order a professional one because I'm so busy.

 So three weeks ago he ordered one.

On Monday of this week the cake lady still hadn't got back to him with any designs.

On Tuesday she still hadn't.

At this point my dad was really worried there would be no cake.

"Just leave a message cancelling the cake, dad", I said, "and I'll make one."

So dad cancelled the cake.

Not only that, he then went to a sugarcraft shop and bought what he thought I needed.............

................ to create the orginal cake he wanted.

I was just going to do a white cake with butterflies and flowers.

Oh no, my dad wants an atlas cake surrounded by edible pictures of places mum has been to.

A cake that a professional cake maker could make.

Not a working mum.

Oh, and it has to be big enough to feed 50 people.

He dropped the stuff at my house, along with butter, sugar and eggs and left me to it.


So I snuck out of work yesterday to go to my favourite sugarcraft shop to buy what I really needed and to get some much needed advice from the owner.

So, after six hours over three evenings, this is what I've done:

 He'd better be impressed!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Competitive Dad

Whilst at Centre Parcs we played some family games like Ludo, Cards, Mini Golf and Ten Pin Bowling.  As usual hubby played agressively and won all the time. 

He always wins.  

Every time.

(As an aside, I don't have a competitive bone in my body when it comes to sports or games.  I just don't care.  We had to stop playing badminton together years ago after hubby started to smash the shuttlecock at my body in frustration when I didn't care if I hit it back.  I kid you not.)

So, when we had played our first game of Bowling (and he had won) I said to him, "Let Izzy win the next one"

"Why?" he asked, incredulously.

"Because you always win.  It doesn't bother me, but for her it's very demoralising.  She always loses. She's only 10, let her win for once."

So he picked up his ball, bowled and picked off one pin on the left hand side.


Then he picked up his second ball and ..............

............ smashed the other nine.


Izzy got up to bowl in a deep depression.

Hubby sat down next to me.

"What happened?" I asked, "I thought you were going to let her win".

"I couldn't, " he said, "I just couldn't.  My competitve gene kicked in."

Good grief!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Evil Parents

We've just returned from "Butlins for the Middle Classes", sorry, Centre Parcs, which I booked for the Bank Holiday Weekend instead of going to Rome (see earlier post, I won't go on about it).

We didn't tell daughter that we had booked Centre Parcs, we just told her we were going to the Lake District.

She spent most of last week moaning that she would be dragged up mountains and have to walk all day every day.

She didn't suspect a thing.

Even when we loaded the bikes onto the car.

After turning off the M6 away from the Lake District along the A66 she still didn't suspect.

As we turned into the Centre Parc entrance she said,

"Ooo, Centre Parcs"

closely followed by,

"Oh, but we're not going there"

"Are we not?"  asked hubby.

"We've just turned into the entrance", I said.

After bouncing up and down in the back of the seat, she finally said,

"You two are evil ........................... but epic!"

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mindfulness - Part 2

Now, when I was nearly half way through the Mindfulness course, I started to have difficulties. 

You see, I don't easily take things on faith, I need to know how and why they work (witness my A Level in Physics).  I couldn't believe in mindfulness unless I knew why it works.

I needed to know the science bit.

The neuroscience bit.

Luckily, at about that time I heard an interview with Ruby Wax on the radio.

She had the same questions that I had, but, as she herself says, she has the drive of a rottweiler, so she went in search of Professor Mark Williams, found him and enrolled on a Masters Degree in MCBT at Oxford University with the Professor himself.  She's now written a book about the brain stuff that I wanted to know, so I don't need to do the MSc to find out.

I just got her book:

and things started to make sense.

I know now how and why mindfulness works.

If you want a quicker version (about half an hour) which explains the neuroscience, in layman's terms with a sense of humour, watch this: