Saturday 30 November 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 29/11/19

Well I'm giving in and posting a winter picture this week - this morning it was really frosty!

Once again I'm a day late but it's been busy this week.  Taking a breath and looking back on things to be grateful for is what this meme is all about though.  Pop over here to see other participants.

Here goes:

1)  A successful shopping outing on Saturday.  I left some birthday shopping until the last minute and my local Westfield was BUSY.  Once again I omitted to check if there was a football game on at the stadium which is part of the same complex.  DUH. 

2)  A trip to Nottingham to catch up with these 3

These lovely pics were taken at the wedding of my DIL's sister but we were in Nottingham to celebrate Amy's 30th birthday.  Her parents had organised a surprise get together at their house for her.  It was a long day for us and we probably spent more time travelling than we did with them but I'm glad we went.  I know they appreciated it and of course we love catching up with Noah.

3)  Coping with 3 early starts this week.  I had my usual 2 days with Rory, which require an early start but I also did another morning where I had to be there even earlier to take over from Mummy when she went off to work and then drop Rory off to nursery. (Daddy had been away overnight.)  I was also fortunate with the weather again.  We had quite a few showers this week but there were enough dry spells to get Rory out in the buggy. I love my days with him but they are long and tiring.  Needless to say on the very early morning I went home and didn't do much for the rest of the day lol!

It's no hardship getting him to eat though! lol

4)  Grandparents tea at Nathan's nursery.  We were able to go with Nathan to his nursery and have tea on Friday.  He was so excited about it.  It was nice to see where he goes.  The staff were all very welcoming and friendly and of course we got to spend time with Nathan.  We stayed for dinner with his Mummies too so a lovely afternoon.

He especially loves spending time with his Grandpa.

5)  Finding things!  I am pretty obsessive about keeping track of things like socks.  It really frustrates me when I end up with an odd one.  That happened earlier this week.  One of my socks went missing and I searched high and low.  In the end I gave up hoping it would turn up eventually.  Yesterday when I was taking some clothes off the airer what did I find?  Yep the errant sock.  Sometimes it's little things like that I'm grateful for.  I like things to be ordered.

Hope you're all having a good weekend.  I've just enjoyed watching Strictly Come Dancing while I was preparing this post.

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Review: The Flower Girls

The Flower Girls The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again..

This was a creepy, unsettling read. The subject matter, (the killing of a child) is dark and although I thought the ending was going to be predictable, and in a way it was, there was also an unexpected twist that I didn't see coming.

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Saturday 23 November 2019

Friday's Fave Five - on Saturday! 23/11/19

Yes we still have some leaves on the trees and lots on the ground - I'm being very careful when out walking because when it gets damp those leaves can be slippery!  Anyway I'm a day late but better late than never when looking back over the week and finding things to be grateful for.

This meme is hosted by Susanne over at "Living to Tell the Story".  Pop over there to see who else is taking part.

Here are mine:

1)  It's been another reasonably quiet week so lots of time to catch up on reading and TV.

2)  Lunch with my best friend and our hubbies.  This was a belated birthday treat from them to me.  My birthday was back in June but what with holidays and just life in general, we hadn't got around to tying down a date for this until now.  So on Tuesday we met up at a local Greek restaurant that we both like and had a long, leisurely lunch.  Good food, good company.  What more do you need?

3)  Being able to deal with unexpected expenses.  Our car went to the garage this week - the parking sensors had developed a fault.  Of course there's usually something else that gets picked up on the health check, like a couple of light bulbs (that I did know about) and a tyre (that I didn't!).  However the car is now back with us and all sorted.  The bill was more than I expected but I am just grateful that we're able to deal with things like this and not have to worry.  

4)  I've started to get ready for Christmas.  This might not sound huge but it is to me.  When I was working, and in particular when my Mum was still alive but in the latter stages of Alzheimer's, Christmas was just a huge stress for me.  I always enjoyed the actual Christmas time but the lead up would drive me nuts.  Since I've not been working, and Mum is no longer with us, I've gradually become more relaxed about the whole thing and try to not leave everything till the last minute.  (I know some of you may have been planning for far longer than this but trust me this is good for me!)

5)  An evening with friends.  Yesterday I got together with 3 former work colleagues at one of their houses.  We usually meet at a pub or restaurant but one of them invited us to her home.  We had a yummy Indian takeaway, wine and lots of conversation.  It was good to catch up!  (But getting home VERY late meant I didn't get this post done yesterday.)

Today has been productive and I'm looking forward to tomorrow - hopefully will be on time next Friday to reveal more on that.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend all.

(Yes I did just do a post without mentioning any of the Grandkids! But can't resist posting this pic of Rory - he was at a birthday party of one of his nursery friends today - I'm assuming he didn't want to take the hat off lol) 

Thursday 21 November 2019

Waffle or Twaddle on Thursday

I was determined to do at least one blog this week that wasn't related to a meme or a book review.  I looked at my stats and realised that this months were down on last.  I've clocked up 13 posts so far, this will be #14 (assuming it gets finished and posted) but they are mostly memes or book reviews. I've been doing lots of reading this month.  It sometimes feels like a guilty pleasure.

As does sitting for several (ok many) hours today watching The Crown.  I've justified it to myself by also ticking off the following today:
  • Car delivered to the garage to get a couple of things checked out
  • New rose bush planted
  • Washing done and dried (or at least drying)
The car has parking sensors that, usually, prevent me from hitting anything when I'm parking.  Recently thay had developed a fault.  Instead of giving a series of beeps everytime I put the car in reverse it just started screeching at me.  It made me realise how dependant I'd become on them though.  Anyway hopefully by tomorrow the car will be fixed and I won't be (gently) bumping into anything.

Regular readers will know that we planted 2 new rose bushes earlier this year.  I do love roses.  Well one bush has thrived, the other did not.  Fortunately the company I purchased them from offer a guarantee and they lived up to it.  I e-mailed them last Thursday with photos of the two bushes.  I had a reply within a day to say that a replacement would be despatched and it arrived on Tuesday.  I call that good service.

As for getting the washing done, that's hardly a challenge with an automatic washing machine and a tumble dryer.

I have done a few other things this week - ordered Christmas cards, which arrived today.  I like to support the Alzheimer's Society so I often get cards from them.  Part of me wants to move towards sending e-cards but part of me worries about charities losing an important source of income.  There are also quite a few people on my card list that I know I couldn't send e-cards too.  Many are older friends, or former work colleagues and at this time of year I always fear that a Christmas card might herald the news that someone has passed away.  But that's human nature.

I'd also ordered personalised baubles for the little ones.  They arrived today.  So another thing ticked off my list.  Of course the to do list never seems to shrink.  It just keeps rolling over.  But that's because there are always things to do, even if you are retired and make time to watch TV and read books! Oh and Grandsit and waffle of course.

Review: The Doll's House

The Doll's House The Doll's House by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young woman wakes up in a cold, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there or who her kidnapper is. So begins her terrible nightmare.

Nearby, the body of another young woman is discovered buried on a remote beach. But the dead girl was never reported missing - her estranged family having received regular texts from her over the years. Someone has been keeping her alive from beyond the grave.

For Detective Inspector Helen Grace it's chilling evidence that she's searching for a monster who is not just twisted but also clever and resourceful - a predator who's killed before.

And as Helen struggles to understand the killer's motivation, she begins to realize that she's in a desperate race against time . . .

I'm really enjoying this series. This was another page turner with a few red herrings along the way that built to a satisfying ending.

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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Review: Pop Goes the Weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel Pop Goes the Weasel by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The body of a middle-aged man is discovered in Southampton's red-light district - horrifically mutilated, with his heart removed.

Hours later - and barely cold - the heart arrives with his wife and children by courier.

A pattern emerges when another male victim is found dead and eviscerated, his heart delivered soon afterwards.

The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse; revenge against the men who lead sordid double lives visiting prostitutes. For Grace, only one thing is certain: there's a vicious serial-killer at large who must be halted at all costs . . .

The subject matter is pretty grim but Arlidge has developed the main characters in this series well. It's another page turner with twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed it.

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Review: Eeny Meeny

Eeny Meeny Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it.

Days later, another desperate escapee is found - and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors - living calling cards - who hold the key to the case.

And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die

I've read a couple of later books in this series so it was good to see how it started. It's a gritty thriller, not for the faint hearted. The premise (2 captives being given the choice of who lives and who dies) is not new but it's done well and I didn't want to put the book down to see how it ended.

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Saturday 16 November 2019

Review: The Christmas Party

The Christmas Party The Christmas Party by Karen Swan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible - made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?

A lovely feel good festive read. Just what you need when the nights have drawn in and Christmas is coming.

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Friday 15 November 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 15/11/19

It's Friday so it's time to share 5 things I'm grateful for this week. This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there for more details and to see who else is taking part.
I'm still using the autumn picture as our trees haven't completely shed their leaves yet but it has definitely been colder this week.  It's been a quiet week but here are my 5:

Fresh flowers in the house.  I do like to have flowers even if I buy them for myself.  

2)  2 good days with Rory.  He is generally easy to look after but it certainly helps if the weather is dry enough to get out which is was.  On Monday we took him to one of my sister-in-laws for a bit and he was on really good form.

3)  Noah is taking steps.  It's hard not to compare Noah and Rory as there is only 2 weeks between them and I know it's been hard waiting for these first steps when Rory has been walking for what seems like ages now but of course they all develop at different rates.

4)  A colour and hair cut.  Always sure to make me feel better.

5)  Time to sit and read.  A guilty pleasure which I indulged in today.

And a bonus one - I'm grateful for our national health service.  All my blood tests came back fine which was a relief but my blood pressure is still too high so my GP has added in another medication.  I'm glad I don't have to jump through insurance hoops to get this sorted and one bonus of turning 60 is that I don't have to pay for prescriptions any more.  

We have a fairly quiet weekend which I'm also thankful for.  Hope yours is a good one!

Thursday 14 November 2019

Waffle on Thursday - 14/11/19

Life can be strange at times.  

My daughter bought me this book a while ago.  I probably should look at it more considering I'm often a glass half empty kind of person.

I decided to look at it Tuesday night and this was the page I opened.  (I tend to open it at random pages rather than read it from start to finish.)

It has some odd things in it although some of them would make me happy but one of those would have had me confused (Sadie Hawkins dances) if it wasn't for one of the questions in this week's Wednesday Medley which I'd just done and scheduled to post the next day!

"Sadie Hawkins' Day. Also known as Turn-About Day. On this date in Dogpatch, Judge Hawkins declared a race between the town's eligible bachelors and the spinsters (including his daughter, Sadie) with the prize being matrimony. Nowadays celebrated as a day on which the girl asks the boy to the big sock hop."

Being in the UK I had never heard of such a thing.  The only "Turn-About Day" I was aware of was leap day - 29th February.  You live and learn!

Here's something that makes me happy:

Not sure how impressed he is with his new hat!  He managed to lose his other one while his Mummy had him out at the shops at the weekend.

And how cute is this?

Wedding guest Noah

And this:

Pirate Nathan

I'm blessed.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Wednesday Medley - 13/11/19
If you would like to join in with the Medley click on the picture above.

1. Sadie Hawkins' Day. Also known as Turn-About Day. On this date in Dogpatch, Judge Hawkins declared a race between the town's eligible bachelors and the spinsters (including his daughter, Sadie) with the prize being matrimony. Nowadays celebrated as a day on which the girl asks the boy to the big sock hop.
For those of us who are single: Any special plans? Is a restraining order and a monitoring anklet hampering you from finding true love? N/A - been happily married for 35 years.
For those of us who are in a relationship: Do you have any words of encouragement for the single ladies? Advice on removing a monitoring anklet?

I think love comes when you least expect it so maybe don't try to hard to find it. 
2. Today is Indian Pudding Day. Colonists to America substituted cornmeal which they called "Indian flour" in their recipes for hasty pudding. Indian pudding fell out of favor in the late nineteenth century with its long cooking time.
Are you a crock pot, electric / gas range, microwave cook? Or do you go to restaurants or order take-out / delivery? 
All of the above (except electric cooker - ours is all gas) - we both cook but we do like to eat out occasionally and we like take out/delivery if we're feeling lazy.  Not keen on fast food though although an occasional burger has been known to be consumed! 
Bonus question: Vanilla ice cream is listed as an optional topping. Is it really optional?
Depends on the dessert and if custard or cream are also available. 
3. National Education Support Professionals Day recognizes the unsung school heroines: Bus drivers, cafeteria ladies, secretaries, crossing guards, custodial workers...
Anyone special to whom you want to give a shout out?
I think they all need to be acknowledged.

4. Dear Santa Letter Week. Remember writing to Santa Claus for a doll or a book or credits to Google Play to download MP3 songs and apps to your smartphone?
Now we are adults and understand the true meaning of Christmas. What did you wish for when you were little? Did you sit on Santa's lap at the department store for a photograph? What do the little ones in your life ask Santa to bring?

I don't remember too much about when I was little but mine usually wanted whatever was the latest craze at the time. 
5. Happy 20th Birthday, Lando Norris! Lando is a Formula 1 race car driver.

Who took you out on the road when you were learning to drive? Did your road test with the examiner go smoothly? What was your first destination driving solo?

I had lessons from a driving school although my Dad did take me out a couple of times.  He also accompanied me on my first drive of my new car - a Ford Anglia that required double declutching as there was no synchromesh on 1st gear.  How many of you know what that means? lol  
I've been driving since I was 17 (passed 1st time) and have no idea where my first solo destination was. 
Bonus question: Ever dream of driving a race car? Or a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500® with the Predator 5.2L 32 valve V-8 DOHC engine capable of producing 760 hp and 625 ft / lb of torque?
Nope, never been a fan of flash cars.  It just needs to be able to get me from A to B and carry all the stuff I need to get there. 
6. Please share with us something interesting about your week.

We had to pay a return visit to hubby's sister on Monday as he had left his phone there last Friday.  On the way out I nearly left without mine!  I don't think I shall hear the last of that for a while after criticising him for being so careless lol.

Saturday 9 November 2019

19 in 19 - October update

Well at least I'm only a week behind on doing an update this month!
Not that there is a great deal to report, but here goes:

1. Be more organised, plan ahead and waste less time

October wasn't the best month for this.  I had some sort of virus for several weeks.  I went from having an irritating tickly cough to the opposite where I was coughing up stuff.  I'll say no more.
2. Work on the garden
I got the grass cut at some point and have bought some bulbs to plant but the weather has not been great.  Thankfully at this time of year there isn't too much to be done.

3. Plan a lunch date/date night with Nick once a month (theatre/cinema/meal/outing)
Well we did eat out last weekend but it was very much a spur of the moment thing and the food at one of our local pubs was not great.

4. Eat at 6 new-to-me restaurants
We didn't manage anywhere new this month.  I need to check how many I need to do before Christmas to complete this one.

5. Complete the A – Z blogging challenge

6. Family weekend away for my birthday - in June
It was lovely! Read about it here.

7. Look after my health – eat well, sleep well, play well
As mentioned above not the best month healthwise but all my blood tests came back ok.  Just keeping an eye on my blood pressure right now.  Really don't want to have to mess around with new medication.

8. Visit my brother
Well he didn't make it to my cousin's party so still a fail on this one.

9. Visit the beach

10. Complete my reading challenge (52 books for the year) 

I'm still excelling on this one.  Currently on about to start book #64.  As always, details and reviews can be found on my Goodreads site.  (Or you can use the tag book review to find them here on the blog.)

11. Keep a journal

A slight improvement here and I've been trying to do a gratitude thought each day, not always successfully.

12. Blog at least once per week (plus regular memes)
October figures were up!

13. Organise/Take more photos
This was a fail this month.

14. Update my clothes/accessories/make up etc regularly 

As I said last month this is not a good target.  I know that some of you will be putting away summer clothes and bringing out winter ones.  My clothes just stay out all year round - you never know what weather to expect here!

15. Do more crafting – move the sewing machine!
Does making up a birthday hamper for my DIL count as crafting?  I'm going to say yes!

16. Try out a new recipe or do a bake each week
What was I thinking with this one?

17. Visit/see Grandson Noah every month
We had a visit from Noah in October and we actually babysat him and Rory together.  That was an experience (read about it here).  If anyone expresses a wish for twins tell them no! lol.  We're going to see them briefly this weekend and we have a trip to Nottingham planned before the end of the month.

18. Make progress on the house plan
What with not feeling great and helping the girls move this is still very much on the back burner.

19. Lose 19 pounds
I think this one should have been "Do not gain any weight" and then I could say I'm on track!

Doing these updates is a bit depressing as I'm not hitting many targets but as I reflected last month that's partly because the targets weren't great to start with.  I'll definitely be trying to make next year's targets more sensible.  I'm definitely not giving up on the whole idea though.  Plus I even had an idea for next year's A-Z challenge so that's a positive thought to end on.

#SoCS - 9/11/19

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “ght.” Find a word that contains the letters “ght” in that order, and use it any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use three or more different words containing those letters. Have fun!

#SoCS is hosted by Linda G. Hill - check out her site here for details and participants. 

Right, time is tight so I'll try with all my might to get this post done, hopefully without a fight.  No selfies today, don't want to give you a fright.  It's still light but night is on the way.  If the sky is clear I may be able to see the stars shine bright.

Ok enough with this slight attempt to use as many ght words as I could.  I managed eight,  oops make that nine!


Friday 8 November 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 8/11/19

It's Friday so it's time to share 5 things I'm grateful for this week. This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there for more details and to see who else is taking part.

1)  We still have autumn leaves. And enough dry weather this week to walk in the park with Grandson Rory. The leaves are dropping fast now and it's been much colder this week but we've also had some sunshine.

2)  Free soft play area at the local mall. Rory had a great time just running, and running and running!

And playing peek a boo! He was so tired and half asleep by the time we got back to the flat. I managed to get him out of his buggy and all his outer clothes and here:


without waking him up.

3) Dinner with my son. Rory's Mummy was out on Monday evening so I had to wait for his Daddy to get home and as my hubby was out too I cooked dinner there for Michael and me. It was nice to have time for a chat rather than just a handover of Rory and getting off home.
4) The girls are settling in and I've returned the cat. I popped her back on Tuesday and we were able to go back to their old place and finalise a few things (they weren't handing back the keys until today). Nathan loves his new house especially having a garden he can play in.

5)  A catch up with my best friend.  We haven't seen each other for weeks so it was good to be able to go round for a cup of tea. (or two!)   

So another busy week but today I've been able to catch up on chores at home.  Boring things like laundry and changing beds - we've decided we need our warmer duvet on now, plus Noah and his parents will be here tomorrow with their dogs.  Just as well the cat has gone home!  Noah took his first steps this week which I think is a relief all round.  It's lovely that the the Grandsons are all close in age but it does make it hard not to make comparisons sometimes.  (Rory who is a month younger has been walking for ages.)  Although of course you have to be careful what you wish for - it was a lot easier looking after them when they stayed put!

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Review: No Place to Hide

No Place to Hide No Place to Hide by Susan Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why has Justine Cantrell suddenly changed her name, abandoned the husband and family she loves and a successful business to start a new life in a place many thousands of miles away?

There isn't a man involved, but there is a terrible secret that she must hide from her new friends and neighbours as securely as she needs to hide herself from those she's left behind.

I've read a few books by Susan Lewis now and she doesn't disappoint. She can definitely spin a good yarn. This one is a bit dark in places but it didn't put me off. It switches between past and present but it's not too hard to follow. 

The mystery of why Justine Cantrell has moved across the pond, taking her young daughter with her but leaving her family behind is eventually revealed and it is shocking. What's perhaps more shocking is why her husband is still in England.

Would I have done the same in the circumstances? I'm not sure. But this is fiction so it doesn't matter.

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Sunday 3 November 2019

Review: Did You See Melody?

Did You See Melody? Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can't afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied - by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist - but Cara's fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can't possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn't know what to trust: everything she's read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

Judging by the reviews on Goodreads this is a bit of a Marmite book. You either love it or hate. I enjoyed it although the overworked description of the spa resort at the beginning of the book was a challenge to get through.

It's told in the present but there are flashbacks in the form of written testimony that reveal the details of how Melody went missing and how her parents were subsequently charged and found guilty of her murder, even though her body was never found.

The uncovering of the mystery is a bit far fetched at times but there is a plot and there are twists. It kept me engaged and there is a sinister revelation at the end that will get you thinking.

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Friday 1 November 2019

Friday's Fave Five - 1/11/19

It's Friday so it's time to share 5 things I'm grateful for this week. This meme is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story. Pop over there for more details and to see who else is taking part.

1.  It's been a pretty hectic week so I'm grateful for eating out with hubby tonight - nothing special just a pub meal which actually wasn't that great but I didn't have to cook it and now I'm chilling on the sofa.

2.  Good weather on the days I had Rory this week.  A bit blustery and chilly but we were able to get out to the shops and the park.  It's great to be able to break the day up and he loves to see the ducks in the park.

A cat in the house, but only temporarily while the girls move house.  We decided that it would be a bit stressful for her to be in the house during the packing up and then moving into a chaotic new house while it's being unpacked.

4)  The girls have moved!  Today!  It's a temporary move to another rental but it's just up the road from where they were so Nathan will stay at his nursery.  Hopefully they will now have some breathing space to sort themselves out and be able to buy a house nearer to us eventually.  So today has been very tiring - I was there quite early to help out and hardly sat down at all during the day.  They did have a removal company move them thankfully - they have a lot of stuff!  That was why hubby and I ate out tonight.   We'll both be going over tomorrow to help with more unpacking.  But Sunday will definitely be a day of rest.

5)  Audio messages with Nathan.  We did a few this week.  It's a great way of keeping in touch.  He was asking about Lady the cat and I sent him some pictures and a message about how she was doing.  He is becoming a real little chatterbox.

So that was my week.  Have a good weekend.