Wednesday 31 July 2019

Waffle on Wednesday

I usually try and join in with the Wednesday Medley hosted by Terri but today's topic didn't really grab me so you'll have to settle for some waffle.

I've had a fairly productive day - got all the washing done and most of it dried.  I also spent time with the gardner this morning.  One of my birthday presents (from hubby's family) included this bench:

I've also got vouchers to spend so yesterday hubby and I went shopping.  We picked up the little tables - have to have somewhere for my cup of tea and book!

 These two birds caught my eye so they found their way home with us.

I also got some more plants

We're gradually filling in all the gaps in the flower beds and the bees are loving my lavender.

I wanted to get some cushions for the bench but Hubby and I couldn't agree on a colour scheme.  It's great that he takes an interest in shopping for things for the home or garden but sometimes it gets a bit tricky.  I can't complain too much though because he also likes doing grocery shopping.

Now we just need some good weather again to be able to enjoy the bench.  It's been quite wet on and off but the garden needed the water and at least we haven't suffered like some areas where there has been a lot of flash flooding.

Tomorrow's looking dry at least so maybe I'll get some time outside.  I have new library books to read and no grandkids to worry about.  The to do list can wait!

Sunday 28 July 2019

Review: After the End

After the End After the End by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They're best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can't agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

I did enjoy this book but I've come to the conclusion I'm not a fan of "sliding door" novels. It's quite a poignant story which Mackintosh treats sensitively but that's not surprising having faced a similar trauma in real life.

Max & Pip are faced with a terrible dilemma over the future of their son. But they can't agree. The book explores what both outcomes might look like by switching between two points of view and different time frames. It's not particularly hard to keep track of both stories but I felt the best part of the book was the tension building lead up to the decision rather than what followed after.

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Friday 26 July 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 26/7/19

Well it's Friday again and time to count my blessings.  This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there to find out more and see who's taking part.  

Here are my five for this week:

1.  Cooling devices.  (Fans, air con in the car, cold showers etc.)  It has been unbearably hot this week and keeping cool has been a challenge.  It was so hot outside we were being advised to keep windows and curtains closed to stop the hot air from getting in and heating up the house even more!

2.  Rain.  Last night and today we have had rain (and thunderstorms) which have brought the temperatures down and saved me having to water the garden.  It is still hot but better.

3.  Good weather for our social club's annual garden party last Saturday.  It rained heavily on Friday night and even on Saturday morning but by the afternoon the rain had passed and we had a lovely afternoon.  The event includes a 3 course meal and this is eaten in the garden.  Not the day for rain!  Quite a few family members were there so it was lovely to see them.  Plus I won a raffle prize!

4.  Water fun with Nathan.  Both days I've been there this week we've spent some time on the patio once it was shady "watering" the plants.  Basically this involves a lot of water going everywhere but on the plants, including Nanny's feet in an effort to cool down.  

5.  Voice recordings on Whatsapp.  Nathan is not the best at going to bed and my daughter has to spend a lot of time with him while he settles and goes off to sleep.  This often involves chatting.  He's saying new words all the time and stringing them together.   She sent me several really cute recordings of him this week, including one discussing my wet feet!

It's been a hectic week as usual with grandsitting.  I'm preparing this post while babysitting Rory while his parents celebrate their 5th Wedding Anniversary.  It doesn't seem like 5 years ago we were over in Vermont for their wedding!  

Rory is much easier to get to bed.  I bathed him, read to him, gave him his bottle, cuddled him for a few minutes and then put him in his cot.  So far so good.  He didn't even stir when some very loud fireworks went off just now.  Hopefully he'll stay that way until his parents get home which shouldn't be too long now.

Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Wednesday Medley - 24/7/19

The Wednesday Medley is hosted by Terri over at Your Friend from Florida.
The questions usually start with the National Day and follow on from there. No rules and there is no obligation. Link up if you want to over at Terri's site and see who else is joining in the fun. 

The Medley this week is all about family.  Today is National Cousins Day and the 26th July is National Aunts & Uncles Day.  Here are Terri's questions and my responses:

1.  What can you tell us about your cousins, please, or someone who is close like a cousin?  
I have quite a few cousins but the one I'm closest to is Jill who is the same age as me (despite her trying to convince her grandchildren otherwise lol) and was the closest thing I've had to a sister.  We often spent time together during school holidays and are always in touch if only by telephone these days.

2.  Do you still see your cousins and will you contact them on National Cousins Day?  
I still see Jill and this year I will be holidaying with her, her sister Julie and our other cousin Pat.  I'm really looking forward to that.  Sadly we don't see each other as much as I'd like but distance plus our own family commitments make it tricky.  I probably won't contact any of them today as I was unaware that it was Cousins Day today!

This is the 3 of them on holiday last year.
L-R Jill, Pat & Julie

3.  Terri had a favorite aunt and uncle she will tell us about.  How about you? 
I think it's always a bit tricky picking out favourites in family.  Sadly I only have 1 Aunt left now.  I was closer to my Mum's family because we saw more of them, particularly when we were young and I have fond memories of family holidays with some of them.

4.  Did/does your family have reunions and can you tell us about them?  
Hubby is the eldest of 8 children so just getting all the siblings and partners together feels like organising a reunion at times and we often include all the youngsters as well.  We'll all be together in August for our annual week away in Kent.   With all the siblings, partners, their children & partners and now Grandkids the current family members total 63.

5.  If you have children, are they enjoying relationships with their cousins, aunts, uncles?  
Our kids have good relationships with their aunts and uncles - we've always got together regularly and now the cousins organise their own get togethers too.

6.  Tell us something random about your week so far.  
It is so hot here this week.  Yesterday Nick and I were looking after Nathan as usual and in an effort to keep cool we were playing with water on their patio.  I encouraged them to pour water over my bare feet.  Nathan thought it was very funny.
Our daughter sent us the cutest recording of her chatting with Nathan about it at bedtime.  He's using more and more words all the time now and stringing them together.  He was full of "Granga (Grandpa) feet wet" lol 

Friday 19 July 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 19/7/19

Well it's Friday again and time to count my blessings.  This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there to find out more and see who's taking part.
Once again I've missed a week!  But here are my five for this week:

1)  A weekend away with hubby - the birthday celebrations continue!  We went to Broadstairs in Kent from Friday to Sunday.  We enjoyed ambling around, eating and drinking!  Broadstairs is a lovely seaside town that hasn't yet been over commercialised.

 There were lots of seagulls of course, who are incredibly noisy and woke me up early each morning!

 Where Dickens stayed and wrote David Copperfield.

 Saturday night dinner - we found a nice Italian restaurant.

 and pudding!
Sunday morning breakfast.  On Saturday we'd had their Full English which was definitely full - fried egg, 2 sausages, bacon, fried pototoes, toast, mushrooms and beans.  We didn't have much lunch before we headed for dinner.

 We walked to the next town of Ramsgate on Saturday and passed this interesting looking house which had this view.
Friday had been lovely and sunny but the rest of the weekend was quite overcast but it was still warm.

2)  My daughter's ankle is improving and she has moved from this

to a rigid ankle support that she can wear with trainers and she's been allowed to drive so that's making life easier all round.

3)  An evening out with friends.  I met up with some old friends on Wednesday and it was lovely to have a catch up.

4)  Good NHS screening programmes.  I had my regular mammogram today and now I'm officially old I've received a bowel screening test to do.  Lovely!

5)  A day off!  The past couple of weeks have been really hectic and busy what with Grandsitting and other things going on.  Today was the first day in a while where I didn't have to be up early for anything and, apart from the mammogram, I could please myself.  I spent the morning finishing a book and this afternoon I went to the cemetery - today is the anniversary of my Dad's passing and I usually try and get to the cemetery as he and my Mum are listed in the book of remembrance.

I've probably posted this pic before but it's one of the last photos of us together before my Dad became ill.

I'm thankful to have had such wonderful parents.
Have a good weekend all.

Sunday 14 July 2019

Review: Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, helplessly clutching her cell phone—until she finally found a way to pour the emotions of that night into her art.

But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait—and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Nora Roberts always spins a good yarn and this is no exception. No real surprises along the way or with the ending but I still enjoyed it.

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Review: The Girl Before

The Girl Before The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive - and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.


Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant - and it does.


After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street, she is instantly drawn to the space - and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home's previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror as the girl before.

This is a very tense thriller with a few twists and turns. Some of the ideas are a bit far fetched and some characters not very likeable but I still wanted to see how it panned out.

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Wednesday 10 July 2019

Wednesday Medley -10/7/19

The Wednesday Medley is hosted by Terri over at Your Friend from Florida.
The questions usually start with the National Day and follow on from there. No rules and there is no obligation. Link up if you want to over at Terri's site and see who else is joining in the fun.


July 10th of each year celebrates National Clerihew Day in the United States.  Edmund Clerihew Bentley created the whimsical, four-line biographical poem.
An English novelist and humorist, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875 – March 30, 1956), was a 16-year-old student when he thought up the lines for his first ever clerihew.
Sir Humphry Davy Abominated gravy. He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium
As with most poetry, the Clerihew is defined by a set of rules. It must contain four lines, rhyming couplets of AA/BB, a person’s name in the first line, say something about that person and it should be humorous. It is meant to be a funny poem, of course.
1.  Try your hand at a Clerihew poem or two or three!  
There was a little boy called Nathan
Who had a favourite television station
It's called CBeebies and it's lots of fun
And it shuts down each day when bedtime has come

There was a young boy called Rory
Who thankfully is always hunky dunky
He smiles and giggles and cuddles his Mum
And when Nanny Grandsits we have such fun

There once was a boy called Noah
Who likes to take things slower
His nature is sunny and he finds things funny
But his favourite thing is to cuddle his Mummy

There once was a woman called Wendy
Who when she was young was quite bendy
But now that she's older and time's flying past
She's cross because her suppleness didn't last
2.  Tell us something about your week so far.
I am having a hectic week.  Because my daughter cannot get about easily due to her injured ankle and my daughter-in-law is self-employed so can't afford to take time off work I've doing an extra day with Nathan this week which means 4 days of Grandsitting altogether.  
I am tired!  And I still have tomorrow to get through.  But then hubby are away for the weekend - just the two of us.  Can't wait!

Sunday 7 July 2019

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon!

Well I am definitely having a lazy day today.  I started to write the title thinking well it's almost afternoon only to notice it already was!

We were babysitting Nathan last night.  He was quite good for us considering he is being very clingy to his Mummies at the moment, especially my daughter.  I think he is picking up on the vibes re moving house.  It's a stressful time for them.  Added to that my daughter cannot pick him up and carry him as much at the moment because of her ankle injury so that isn't helping.

However he didn't cry too much when they left (for an anniversary party) and he let us bath him.  Then Grandpa read him some stories and then Nanny lay with him while he went to sleep.  That took quite a LONG time.  He doesn't put himself to sleep very quickly but we got there eventually.

He slept for several hours but then stirred and realised Mummy wasn't there.  He was happy to accept Nanny as a substitute but he slept very lightly after that and everytime I tried to ease myself away his hand would reach out or he'd lift his head and cry so I just gave in and stayed put until his Mummies came home.

Sooo it was a late night for us (early morning actually) so today is going to be very lazy.  Need to recharge the batteries ready for Rory tomorrow.  He is almost walking.  He can stand up from the floor now without holding on to anything so it won't be long before those first steps.  You might think I'll have my work cut out keeping up with him then but actually he can crawl REALLY FAST! Keeping up with him is already a challenge.

This was him standing up while we were away last weekend.  He was very pleased with himself before he fell over.

It's much cooler here today which is nice and it rained overnight so that saved me worrying about watering the garden.  I'm trying to keep the garden watered to keep it looking good, especially the new plants and window boxes but when overnight rain does the job for me I'm not complaining.

I've been trying to plan out the week ahead, particularly meals.  We're back to a Hello Fresh delivery this week so that takes care of a 3 dinners but I still have to think about today and one other meal during the week.  I've also got a supermarket shop being delivered tomorrow so I need to tweak that order a bit but I'm feeling very organised!  It probably won't last but it feels good right now.

Now I'm off to catch up on some TV!

Saturday 6 July 2019

Review: The Loney

The Loney The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two brothers. One mute, the other his life long protector.

Year after year, their family visits the same sacred shrine on a desolate strip of coastline known as the Loney, in desparate hope of a cure.

In the long hours of waiting, the boys are left alone. They cannot resist the causeway revealed with every turn of the treacherous tide, the old house they glimpse at its end...

Many years on, Hanny is a grown man no longer in need of his brother's care.

But then the child's body is found.
And the Loney always gives up its secrets, in the end.

This was a challenge read for me - something I wouldn't normally choose but read anyway. Often passed on from my husband as was the case with this book.

It was hard work. I can see why it's a prize winner. It's well written, characters are developed, things seem well researched and it's very atmospheric. There is a lot of emphasis on Catholicism so it won't be to everyone's taste's slow!

Too slow for me. I nearly gave up half way through but I hate doing that. I persevered but I didn't find the conclusion that satisfactory.

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Friday 5 July 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 5/7/19

Well it's Friday again and time to count my blessings.  This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there to find out more and see who's taking part.

I missed last week but I had a good excuse - I was:

1)  Celebrating my birthday!  I wrote about it here (Part 1) and here (Part 2) 
      (A lovely meal out with hubby and a weekend away with all the kids and Grandkids)

2)  Being a flexible driver.  My daughter has badly sprained her ankle so I had to drive her car last weekend.  Fortunately it's an automatic so it's quite easy to drive.

3)  Good weather.  It's been very warm and sunny this week - it really feels like summer.  I hope it lasts for a while.

4)  Free travel.  Thanks to my big O birthday I now get free travel on London buses and trains.  This means I don't feel guilty at getting the bus for just one stop when at my daughter's.  Getting to her local shops involves going up a very steep hill.  Hard work when pushing Nathan in his buggy.  A lot easier to jump on the bus at the end of her road and ride up.  Of course coming down is much easier ;)

5)  Being retired.  I think I might be busy over the next few weeks - my daughter has actually torn the ligament in her ankle so it's going to take a while to heal and I'm sure she'll  appreciate some extra help which of course I'm happy to give.  I wouldn't be able to do that if I was still working.
Apparently she was given the choice of one of these or a plaster cast!

Have a good weekend all and belated Happy 4th July to my American friends.


Birthday celebrations - Part 2

The 2nd part of my birthday celebrations involved spending the weekend with all my favourite people - hubby, our 3 kids, their partners and of course the 3 Grandsons.

We rented a lovely house in a place called Wells next the Sea which is on the north coast of Norfolk. It was really spacious with big rooms, plenty of bathrooms and a big garden for Nathan to run around in!

We arrived quite late on Friday due to people working. We also had to deal with my daughter spraining her ankle the night before so Nick took our car and brought Rory and his Mummy and Daddy while I drove Nathan & his Mummies in their car. We had fish & chips for dinner.

On Saturday we had a good English breakfast, which set us up for a walk down to the town centre. We were aiming for the beach but is was TOO hot. Especially for young children. We returned to the house for afternoon tea with lots of cake.

And there was also a very large chocolate birthday cake!

We had a lazy start on the Sunday and after lunch and naps for the babies we did make it to the beach!

We'd lost Mike & Liz by that point - they'd gone home to watch a baseball game. (The Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees at the Olympic stadium and they had tickets.)

Rory stayed with us. He was really good - he went to bed without much crying. He stirred at 3 am but I was able to get him back to sleep quite quickly but he was up for the day at 5.30 am!

It wasn't long before we both needed an early nap.

We had to vacate the house by 10 am on the Monday and because of the travelling logistics and picking up the cat again we didn't hang around.

It was lovely to have all the family together and the kids were really good at not letting me do any cooking or clearing up. It was still full on though with the 3 little ones, especially as we had Rory overnight for the first time.

Nick and I wisely decided that a quiet weekend away on our own would be a good idea so we'll be carrying on celebrating in a couple of weeks time!

I also have a couple of outings to look forward to with my boys and Rebecca & Vicky got me an album of all the lovely photos we had taken a few weeks ago.

I'm a very lucky Mummy/Grandmummy!

Birthday celebrations - Part 1

Well I've had a good time celebrating my birthday.

On the actual day (last Wednesday) I had a visit from my best friend and then in the evening hubby and I went for a lovely meal at Galvin's La Chapelle which is a French Michelin starred restaurant. We opted for the 7 course tasting menu which was quite adventurous for me.

Course 1 - Lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais & pea shoots - Delicious!

Course 2 - Pressed terrine of rabbit, ham hock & foie gras, apricot & pickled mushrooms - Tasty! 

Course 3 - Risotto of courgette & basil - melt in the mouth 

Course 4 - Grilled Cornish John Dory, celeriac & wasabi, apple consomme, razor clam & hazelnut

This was my least favourite course, the fish was a bit plain & boring.

Course 5 - Tagine of Bresse pigeon, couscous, confit lemon & harissa sauce

This was a first for me (pigeon) but I enjoyed it. Not my favourite thing but it was very tasty.

Course 6 - Saint-Marcellin, walnut & raisin croute & pickled walnut
Soft cheese is not my favourite but the extras made it special.

Course 7 - Apple tarte Tatin & Normandy Creme Fraiche

With an added extra just for me!

The dessert was lovely but I needed more chocolate!

The lighting didn't make for a good photo of the two of us but you can see that we also enjoyed some wine although we didn't opt for the wine pairing menu - I needed to be able to make it home on public transport.

It was a delicious meal and because the courses weren't huge I managed to get through most of it without feeling uncomfortably full. I was also pleased to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried different things.

I think my favourite course was the first one, followed closely by the risotto.

I'm also impressed with myself for getting a photo of every course!

I'll leave the rest of the celebrations for another post!