Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Christmas Day - over now, but here's my annual photo-by-the-tree. Adrienne insisted on opening her present before I took the photo. She had the clothes she has on and wouldn't get dressed before opening her present either. Switchfoot clothes all the way from America. Then the other two had to open their presents too or it wouldn't be fair. Those were the only presents we let them open before lunch. Everything else waited till the afternoon.

Mum, Dad, Beth, Andrew and Francis came in too so it was mad here for a while. We just about had time to clear up the carnage and have a bite to eat before we all had to settle down in front of Dr Who. Only a week to go and then no more David Tennent. I think I might cry!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Motorway Hell

From Hampton Court to the M3 there were no worries. Then we hit the motorway and it was hell. The sleet turned to snow and it came down fast! Before long this was our only view - millions of cars going nowhere. From Sunbury to the A303 is 37 miles. It took us 4 and 1/2 hours!!!!
Ocassionally the cars moved a bit faster than 2 miles an hour - but not for very long.

Once we got past Basingstoke it all became a bit clearer. This was the scene in the car park of the first services we found on the A303. We bought a basket of food in the M&S Simply Food store, Carl went off to pay while we girls got in the queue for the loo. (One of us had already been in a bottle in the car - bet you can guess who!) The wait was made a bit more exciting when Hermione Norris came out of the loo about five people ahead of us. Caitlin didn't realise who she was until she'd gone past, but she was impressed nevertheless - she loves 'Spooks'.
We finally got home at 12.20, eight and a half hours after we'd started our journey.

London Weekend

The weekend started with such promise. We left home in no particular hurry and reached Kingston by 2.00, we had some late lunch and found the Travelodge just round the corner from the famous falling telephone boxes. I love this photo, Ellie looks like she might have knocked them over herself!
Once we'd settled into our room we made our way into town. I made us all get off the tube at Oxford Circus so we could see the lights. So we had a bit of a mad trek down to the Arts Theatre near Leicester Square, but we made it in time to see the show, "A Christmas Carol - The Musical". We had great seats, in what is only a tiny theatre, sixth row back in the stalls and right in the middle of the row. The kids loved it. It was on early and so finished by 7.40. We had a late tea in Pizza Express, then walked, slowly this time, down to Piccadilly. We looked at all the lights (Ellie wondered how London could afford it), saw Eros, then caught the tube and train back to Kingston.

The next day they all decided they wanted to go shopping, especially when I told them I'd take them to Hamley's, a shop with six whole floors of toys. They loved it (although Adrienne was disappointed in the gadget floor.) On the fifth floor is a corner devoted to film memorabilia, mostly Harry Potter. There are cupboards full of wands. Caitlin fell in love with a Time Turner, so I let her have it on the understanding that she paid for it out of her savings. I put my foot down however, when Ellie said she wanted a Marauder's Map. £30 for a bit of paper is just too much!
Then came the decision as to what to do next - London Dungeons, or Hampton Court Maze and Ice Skating. They chose the latter. This is where it all started to go horribly wrong...
We miss our train by about 30 seconds. The next one was delayed. By the time we got back to Kingston it had started to rain. By the time we got to Hampton Court it was sleeting. The ice skating was outdoors and the rink looked more like a lake. We decided to go home...

Friday, 20 November 2009

India Day

Hooray! Another dressing up day at school. I love dressing up days. Yesterday we had a celebration of Indian culture day as part of our topic on India. So here are Ellie and I in our Indian clothes. This was before we got to school, naturally (those of you who know me will recognise my untidy front room.) When we got in I headed straight for the loos, along with all the other female members of staff, to join the queue to have my sari put on properly by Stenita, our Indian dancer-in-residence. I hadn't done too bad a job, I just got the pleats on the skirt on the wrong side. Stenita was not convinced about the t-shirt I'd put on underneath the blouse to cover my belly though!
This is me in my evening wear. We all went back in to school in the evening so the children in Years 5 and 6 could perform their dances and the play for their parents. I wrote the play so I figured I needed a new outfit for the premier of my work. I'm sure JK Rowling doesn't attend the opening of the Harry Potter films in something she wore earlier that day.

This is Stenita doing her thing. She was the grand finale of the evening. Well worth waiting for.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Meccano Making

We had a quiet weekend where, just for once, no one had anything to do or anywhere to go to, so Ellie decided it was time she built the Meccano bike Father Christmas gave her last year. She loved it. She has now added Meccano to her Christmas list for this year, along with plasticine. I wonder if anyone can guess where she's getting her inspiration from?

Monday, 9 November 2009


We have had a Bonfire night marathon this weekend. On Thursday Carl took the children to Claires for fireworks, on Friday we went to Mum and Dads, and on Saturday Julie and Ken came round to our house for more fireworks. So for three nights in a row we have been looking towards the heavens as illustrated in the photo above. It's a wonder we haven't all got neck ache!

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Here we all are at the start of the Halloween party we went to last night at Sam's house. From left to right you have: Corpse Bride, Cat Woman, Devil, Ring Wraith, Gothic Fairy! The flash seems to have whited out a lot of my make up, cos I was very blue. By the end of the evening I had consumed a lot of green punch so this morning I was very green also, but have sinced showered and am now feeling relatively normal again.

The girls had fun, and it stopped them Trick or Treating, which I do not entirely approve of as it leads to excessive consumption of sugar and therefore hyperactive behaviour. However, they had more than their fair share of sweets at the party anyway. It kept them going until nearly midnight, when we walked home, and then they had a nice long lie in this morning.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ellie's Birthday Party

Today Ellie had her first birthday party at home since before she started school (we normally go somewhere you can just leave the mess for someone else to worry about). I survived the two hours by confining them to the playroom and conservatory. A plan that worked quite well. It was a Halloween themed party as you can no doubt tell. All Ellie's idea. She had a lovely time - which makes it all worth while - and most of my house is still tidy - which it almost never is - so maybe we'll do this again next year!

Friday, 18 September 2009

All the Fun of the Fair!

We did the Fair this evening. Now I know summer is definately over. It was a nice night, not many people there, although it seemed to be filling up a bit more as we left. Ellie wandered round with us, thinking carefully about which rides to go on. She like Bounce and the Big Wheel. We talked her out of Freddies Revenge. Her last ride was Energizer which she said she was not going to go on again until she was much bigger!

I did the Ghost Train with her. Its the only ride I go on. I screamed all the way round (just to get her in the mood, you understand). I'm not sure what she found worse - the men jumping out at her or my screaming!

This year we let Caitlin go round with her friends without us. We met her at the Leisure Centre when it was time to go home and found her with her arm in a sling. She got it squished on a ride (the same one that Ellie doesn't want to go on again), and Hannah's mum had whisked her off to the St John's Ambulence people. Fortunately it's not her writing hand. That didn't stop the goldfish guy feeling sorry for her and letting her have a fish even when she missed a card with a dart. How long before it's dead? Anyone want to take a bet?

Tour of Britain

This was my view of the Tour of Britain yesterday as it came through Barnstaple. We waited ages, having rushed down because we were told they were ahead of schedule, then they came through when we expected anyway. It was a blink and you miss it affair.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Adrienne at College

Adrienne got up at the crack of dawn today to do hair and make-up before she went off to her first day of college. This was just a Taster Day, but she's met all her teachers (which are now to be addressed by their first names), found out a bit about her lessons, and is ready to start for real on Monday. She a bit further than the end of the road before she realised she'd forgotten her exam results sheet and had to phone me up! I hope this doesn't set the tone for the next two years.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Blackberry Picking

I made the most of possibly the last (only) day of summer this August by ignoring the housework and sitting in the garden. Then Jo came round and we took Ellie and Kia blackberry picking. That's a proper traditional end of summer activity, the sort of thing real children did years ago, before they invented computers and DVDs. It was wonderful in the sunshine.
We walked right down the lane until we reached the back of the cricket club. Of course we were the wrong side to get in, but it was lovely catching glimpses of the cricketers in their whites, against emerald green grass and blue skies. If it's nice next Saturday we are going to walk the other way, with purses, and sit and watch the game with an ice cold beer. It's going to rain for the next five days though so I don't hold out much hope.
Ellie has so far refused to eat even one blackberry, but she had a great time picking them - fighting with the brambles and the stinging nettles.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Exam Success!

Adrienne went off to school yesterday morning all nervous. She met her friends at 11.00 and didn't come home til 11.40 to tell me what she got. She was smiling. She got a B in Maths and English Lit, 6 Cs, and a D for French. The latter she was a bit miffed about, but it doesn't matter cos she got enough to go to North Devon College to do her A levels. And she got more Bs than me when I was at school, so that makes her the cleverest in the family, doesn't it?

Monday, 24 August 2009

James May and the Tarka-Hornby Train

Today was the day James May had chosen to try and break the world record for the longest model railway with a Hornby train track running from Barnstaple to Bideford along the Tarka Trail - 10 miles. Adrienne managed to get onto a team and reported to Barnstaple train station at 7.30 this morning. It chucked it down with rain until about 10.30, then turned into drizzle on and off for about another hour. They carried on regardless! Caitlin, Ellie and I got there during the last downpour, which lasted only about five minutes, then the sun came out. We found Adrienne under the road bridge just outside the station having laid her 100 metre track and been up and down the Trail helping others. So this was the only photo I got of her involvement in the attempt.

We walked on down towards Fremington Quay and passed James May coming back the other way. This is him with a 'Why-is-that-stupid-woman-pointing-a-camera' look on his face.

Along the way there were lots of camera crews testing the track and filming fake-cut-in bits for the TV show. There were also lots of gaps in the track which was a bit worrying but a nice scout man told me there was a technical crew coming along cutting bits of track to fit in the gaps, which were inevitable when you had lots of teams of people starting and finishing thier bits in different places.

When we got to Fremington Quay it was 1.30 and time for lunch. They were due to set the first train off at 1.00, which, travelling at 3mph, should have reached us by 2.00. So we waited... and waited... and waited.

My friend Julie, arrived and the girls were distracted by playing with the dog, taking him for walking and accidentally feeding him ice cream. Every now and then some one from the TV company would come along and say things like, 'It'll be here in 30 mins' or 'Its only 10 mins away' Ha! Then we heard stories like: the power pack blew up, someone stole some of the track, the train broke.

Eventually James May appeared on his bike, then disappeared again behind the bike shed! What was that all about? The crowd moved onto the grass verge next to the concrete bit of the Tarka Trail and settled down to wait some more. James reappeared.

He looked... We looked... Surely its got to be here in a minute?

YES!!! There it is, at 6.30 in the evening, tiny little train chugging along its tiny little track. I have no idea if it made it all the way to Bideford. We went home shortly after this, but for all I know, its going still!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Murder Mystery

Adrienne's long overdue birthday party is still in progress as I type, but I've finished slaving in the kitchen now and am typing this for a bit of light relief! Feeding eight sixteen year olds is bad enough, but trying to subtly guide them through a murder mystery night from a distance without looking like an overbearing mother is quite a task. Still, this is what she wanted to do. I think they did OK. They got a bit confused in the middle but then so did me and my friends when we did it last month (of course our confusion had more to do with alcohol than anything else, I'm sure!) Adrienne and her friends do not have that excuse. So, here they are, still trying to work out which one of them is a murderer. There are a few more photos but Adrienne has the camera with those on in the room with her and I dare not go back in! I'm sure they'll be all over facebook by lunchtime tomorrow though.


Yesterday we went down to Claire's for a party in honour of the arrival of Noah. He was two weeks old, but this photo was one that Carl took when he was only three days old. I took my camera to the party yesterday but was so busy talking and eating all the yummy food that I forgot to take any photos! How does Claire manage to run a house of six children (accepted the oldest two are not children any more) with a two week old baby and still find time to cook?!!!

Ah, but isn't he cute??

Friday, 31 July 2009


Here are some of our photos of our holiday in Spain. It was great to get some sunshine. And it was very, very hot while we were there. We had to go without Carl because he couldn't get time off work, but they did let him come out for the last three days, so that was better than nothing.

This is Adrienne on her birthday. I wanted to go for a nice meal and we ended up in an Italian. She polished off the whole of that pizza!

She also spent most of the ten days under an umbrella with her jumper on!

Caitlin and Ellie liked it in the pool. Ellie in particular spent more time in the water than out of it.

They also liked body-boarding. although I suspect they will go off the idea after experiencing it in British waters.

We spent one day in Aqualandia, a water park in Benidorm, and one day at Rio Safari, Elche. There were lots of animals to feed. They liked the limas best, Ellie wasn't quite so sure about the goats.
We're back in rainy old England now and my tan is fading already! Not much chance of topping it up either - so much for a barbeque summer.

Pilton Green Man Festival

Ellie danced in the Green Man Day Pagent on Saturday 18th. There are two performances, 12.00 and 3.00. This is the only photograph Carl managed to get of her! Straight after the second performance we all piled in the car and headed off for Newquay airport. It was a busy day.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Race For Life

Yesterday me, Adrienne and Caitlin did Race For Life. This must be the fifth year we've done it. I'm not bothering next year, it costs way too much to enter, and by now everyone is fed up of sponsoring us. Adrienne went off with her friend and did it in 37 mins. Caitlin met a friend and her mum when we got there and we all started together. We managed to get ourselves in the Runners lane by mistake, but that turned out to be a good thing because we got to start early and everyone walks the first bit anyway cos it's such a crush. Then when there was room I managed to get conned into jogging for a bit. Well I didn't keep that up and let them go at 1km. Caitlin finished in 38mins. I did it in 43 mins, which is a record for me! Today my legs are killing me - I knew jogging was bad for your health.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Ashes Day 4 - Cardiff

I've spent the whole week watching the weather forecast convinced that all we were going to see today was an empty field and lots of rain, but luck was on our side - for a small time at least. We whizzed up to Cardiff first thing this morning and the worst traffic we faced was on the link road, the sailed into the IKEA car park and there were loads of spaces! That almost never happens when you actually want to go shopping there. We travelled to the grounds on the bus, found out tickets easily, and headed for the gates, and security. The b******ds confiscated my beer! They let you into Lords with beer; what's wrong with the Welsh!? AND they took away my Dalek bottle opener. What did they think I was going to do with that? It only says 'Exterminate', it doesn't actually do it!
Anyway. We saw four hours of cricket before the rain set in. England bowlers did their best to get an Aussie wicket. It just wasn't enough. And why Ponting waited so long before declaring goodness only knows. Still, the trumpeter was good. Carl managed to be in the loo when the first England wicket went down, and on the stairs up to our place in the Gods as the second one went. We hung about in the rain for an hour looking at the scene below before giving up and going home. Our seats were a bit undercover so that was lucky. All in all, it was a good day out. And now I can finally say, after years of trying, I got to watch an Ashes game.

P.S. I got the Dalek back on the way out.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ballet Open Week

This week is the last week of ballet before the Summer holidays (hooray!) so it's also been Open Week (boo!) - which mean's I've had to sit through several hours of lessons to watch how my children have been getting along. Well it wasn't that bad really. Most of their lessons are tomorrow and I won't be here (more of that in a later post), and one or two other lessons I managed to avoid. It will be of no surprise to any one, for example, that Adrienne told me not to come and see her. (I hope she wasn't expecting me to argue with her!)

Monday, 6 July 2009

Adrienne the Artist

We popped out to Broomhill on Sunday to see Adrienne's art work displayed. All the Year 11 Art and Design GCSE students had one piece on display. Adrienne didn't want us to go, but we did. Then she didn't want her photo taken. The only way I could get her to let me was to say I wouldn't put it up on my blog! Oops, I lied. What a terrible mother I am!!!

Guitar Concert

Ellie played in her first guitar concert on Saturday night. This was the best view I got of her. Once the concert started some girl with stupid blonde frizzy hair sat down in the front row and after that all I could see was the top of Ellie's head. Kingsley College's auditorium has to be the worst designed auditorium ever. Still, she played well. She was possibly the youngest child there, and has only been learning since September.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Battle of Hastings

Ellie had to go to school dressed as a Norman soldier this week. They were re-enacting the Battle of Hastings. 250 children whipped into a frenzy and let loose on the school field! Despite the many that were killed on the battlefield, no one actually died and there wasn't even one real injury. Amazing!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Silver Medalist

Ellie competed in her first outdoor track medals events today. She did 75m sprint, long jump and turbo javelin and came second in the javelin in the Under10s group. Not bad for a first go, especially considering the girl who won is 11 months older than her. (There were six children competing - third place had gone home before the medal ceremony, probably due to the crappy weather!) She was so pleased she would have worn her medal to bed if I hadn't stopped her.

Bird Rescuing

So there I was this afternoon, sitting peacefully reading my book, when - BANG - something hits my front room window. There were no kids outside, so I got up to look and there, on the ground, was a tiny bird, looking all dazed. Silly thing had flown into my window. I went outside and the poor birdie was so confused he let me pick him up. I brought him inside and sent Caitlin for a box. We popped him inside and left him for a while. Not long, but long enough for Caitlin to name him Ronald and make a sign warning the others, should they come back, to keep quiet and not disturb him. She took the box into the playroom and watched it while she was at the computer. Then about ten minutes later she came to let me know he was OK. He'd been flying. So she took him outside again and he flew off into the trees. That's our good deed for the day.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Caitlin's Birthday Party

Today was fun. Despite telling Caitlin that we weren't doing birthday parties any more now she is at Secondary School she managed to turn todays BBQ into a full blown party by inviting 6 people instead of the 4 she was told. So Carl did his thing with the cooking, I prepared all the rest of the food, then we just let them entertain themselves. There was loud music, which I am sure annoyed the neighbours, and which would have been mostly Mylie Cyrus (and therefore would have annoyed me) had I not put my foot down and put together my own playlist from chart songs I actually like. There were a few concessions - I have to confess to actually liking 'The Climb'.
Then Jo came round with her face paints. "They're twelve," I'd said earlier in the week. "They might think they're a bit old for face paints." How wrong was I!!!!