Friday, 24 December 2010

Exmoor In The Snow

Here are the Betazoids, at the very beginning of our walk over the snow laden hills of Exmoor. The first Christmas Eve walk we've ever done in snow. It was all very exciting, and even the dog ran round like a mad thing to start with.
Walking through the woods was beautiful, if hard going on the up hill stretch. Coming down to the stream on the other side wasn't too much of a challenge. There were some very handy logs where the kids could pose for photos.

Then we had to go through fields where no humans had trod since the snow fell. The snow was up to the top of our wellies. It was a very long way up. Even the dog slowed down - eventually!

Finally we made it to the pole - the wooden one with the yellow top (Caitlin is leaning against it.) But our disappointment was almost as great as Scott's moments later. Not that anyone had been there before us, but that there was another one, on the top of the next rise. And then yet more walking, through virgin snow that was even deeper than the top of our wellies. It took us an hour to go 3/4 of a mile. Me and Ellie fell into snow deeper than my knees, Carl lost his boot in boggy ground hidden beneath snow. The dog went head first into a snow drift. But none of us have laughed so hard in ages.
Best Christmas Eve walk ever!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Snow At Last!

The rest of the country have had snow for ages. We had to wait, but finally its here! We woke up on Saturday morning to a white world. It was beautiful. So in between getting the house ready for Father Christmas we have been playing, naturally. Caitlin spent so long making Jeffery, her snowman, it got dark.

We've been sledging with Jo. Although that didn't last long, cos it was hard work pulling the sledge up the hill and the snow there wasn't that good.

And this is what happened when they all fell off!

The dog loves it. We throw snow balls for her and she can't understand why she can't find them when they land. Snow is tasty though. She been for lots of long walks and doesn't seem to get cold paws or anything.
The only downside to snow is that the postmen don't seem to be able to work in it. Ellie's present still hasn't arrived, despite being dispatched on 8th Dec. I walked to the post office to collect my post today but the postman couldn't walk to my house. Poor thing!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Centre Parcs

Last weekend we went to Centre Parcs in Longleat. I have only just now found the time to post about it. My life has been a huge whirlwind of catching up ever since returning on Monday night.

We had a great time. This is Caitlin and Ellie coming out from their visit to Father Christmas. More cuddly toys. Every year Ellie asks for a teddy and I keep saying there's no room left in her bedroom for any more cuddly toys, Father Christmas must know this by now, but every year he brings her another one!

This is our front path. We were within spitting distance of the dome so walking down for a swim was no problem at all. They didn't want to go swimming that much though. It was too cold.

When we first arrived there was loads of snow, but hours later it started to rain and most of it disappeared. Some lingered on, and the ice everywhere was pretty. Our villa backed onto a lake which was completely frozen over. We wandered down to take photos.

The main lake where they do the water sports was competely frozen over too, we weren't expecting that.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

In Search of Snow

Yesterday I did battle with the Christmas crowds in the High Street and so only walked the dog for a little way. Despite seeing snow on the hills all around there was none at all where I live. The leaves were all still pretty colours though and I actually got Willow to sit still long enough to take a nice photo.

Today we went further afield and drove onto Exmoor in search of snow. We went to Whistlandpound Reservoir and walked the circuit by the waters edge. The snow was not the sort of snow you could make snowballs with. It was too powdery. The dog didn't mind it at all. Her favourite bit was chasing lumps of ice, then crunching them up and eating them.

Adrienne with her eyes shut again!

We saw some deer on the way home, and a hawk of some description which flew down the road in front of the car for a good 30 seconds, carry its latest prey in its claws.

Monday, 1 November 2010


Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, a long time ago....

Back in 1991, when I was working in London, I joined a theatre group called Group64, where I met Danielle, and we became friends. Then, life being what it is, things changed. I moved back to Devon, Danielle married and moved to Hong Kong, having paid me a brief visit in 1993 when I was pregnant with Adrienne. Regular Christmas cards have passed between us ever since but we have not seen each other for 17 years. Until today...

Today 17 years could just as well have been 17 minutes. Danielle was in the area on work and called in to say 'hello'. She said I look just the same, I think she was being kind, grey hairs, wrinkles and three children all clearly having made their mark on my body. She really does look the same though. We talked for hours, naturally, having a lot to catch up on, and the time just whooshed by. It's a shame she lives 5 hours away (yes, she did return from Hong Kong) because I could envisage regular coffee mornings or bouts of retail therapy.

It was a great day though, and nice to know that friendships can stand the test of time. Danielle, lets not leave it so long next time!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cappadocia, Turkey

I have just about recovered from my trip to Turkey, having returned on Sunday night, and now feel able to post some photos. It was very tiring. I went on a Comenius Contact Seminar and the British Council only told me I was going two weeks before, so it was all a bit of a mad rush to get ready. I'd originally applied to go on one in Bruges, Belgium, in November, so to find out I had to travel all the way to Turkey on my own was a bit of a shock! But I made it, and the photo above is the view from my hotel window.

The purpose of the Seminar was to meet people from other countries who you would like to partner up with for a Comenius Project, like the one we've just finished where I visited Turkey, Norway and Germany. There were lots of meeting and presentations but in between we were taken on sight-seeing tours. The Cappadocia region of Turkey has been known to double up as the Grand Canyon for Western movies.

This is me in the Goreme Open Air Museum. It's a place where early Christians lived, carving homes and churches into the sides of the cliffs.

And these are called Fairy Chimneys (or Fairy Chimeneys as our guide kept telling us). He did explain how they formed but I didn't really follow it. I remember he said the tops occassionally fall off and then new ones form. Strange.

This is my group, and a photo just to prove I actually did some work. From left to right they are from the following countries: Turkey, England (me), Spain, Latvia, Italy and Czech Republic. I haven't been back to work yet, but my boss informs me the women at work are disappointed that there are no men in our group! Oh Well!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ellie's Birthday Party

Ellie had her birthday party yesterday. She went bowling with her friends, then into Burger King and after that they went upstairs at Lets Go to do some ice skating as well. Its a good job this is her second to last birthday party! (I stop once they get to secondary school.)
It was a fun evening though. After the first ten minutes on the ice we were the only ones there. The guy said we were supposed to get 40 minutes but we were on for an hour and they only got off then cos I said it was time to go home. There were a few minor incidents - a bruised bottom and a cut finger (Ellie ran over Jessica's hand) - but other than that they had a great time.
We had to do birthday cake back at our house cos Carl forgot to pack a knife in the bag (he only had the one job - what can I say?), but it was OK cos that meant I got to sit down with a cup of tea and eat my bit of cake in piece.
It was gone 8.00 by the time Carl took them all home.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Spain - again!

Yes, we did a holiday in Spain for the second year in a row - that's because its so cheap to book! So here are a few piccies of our week in the sun:
We had lots of fun in the hotel pool, even though it was cold!

We visited Port Aventura theme park a total of five times. Sunday was the best day, hardly any queues for the rides. The one in the background here was one of their favourites, called Furious, but on somedays there was a 90 minute or more wait for what was only a 30 second ride!

We went into Salou for a meal one evening. We ended up in what to all intents and purposes was a greasy spoon, but it had sky TV, so even though they hate football they stared at it like it was a god, cos they hadn't seen one for all of five days.

We chose Friday 13th to visit the Costa Carribe water park. It was cold and cloudy all day but this mean no queues for any of the rides. Great!

And this is us having ice creams at the beach on our last day. Ignore the look on Adrienne's face. She had a great time really.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


We've had rather a lot of them in the last few weeks.

Adrienne was 17. Look out world - she is about to apply for a driving licence!

Our nephew Noah was 1.

Ashleigh, Noah's sister, was 21.

Carl's mum was a bit more than 21.

And Carl was 43.
There are no more birthdays till October now, good job too, I've eaten too much cake!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Green Man Day

Ellie danced in the Green Man Festival Pagent today. Twice. Again. She did it last year just before we rushed off on holiday. This year I could enjoy the day a bit more. There was a huge downpour first thing that looked like ruining the day, but as you can see, after that it turned out nice and sunny.

The first Pagent was at 12.00, the girls do a little two minute section near the beginning of the 15 minute long performance. They always get a bit round of applause - its the only thing that does apart from the end. Then they do it all over again at 3.00. It's lovely and they look so sweet. Ellie thinks she was a flower fairy, but I'm fairly convinced she is supposed to represent Spring.

Anyway. After that and in between we wandered round the stalls and she managed to spend a fair bit of my money on tombolas and lucky dips. We also found the time to buy larger and J2O from the pub and wander round with that in the sunshine too. Very lovely.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Sunday Evening Stroll

By tea time today it was difficult to tell who needed exercising more, the dog or the kids. And strangely, after tea when I said we were going out for a walk, none of them moaned! We walked through Braunton Burrows then down onto the beach, found a nice large sand dune and they spent ages running up and down it. Carl and I sat at the bottom and laughed.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Shopping trip

Another quick break in London for the girls earlier this week. These seem to be happening on a regular basis now, I quite like it. The real reason we went was for Adrienne and her friend Brodie to go to a concert at the HMV forum (which used to be the Town and Country Club in my day). An obscure American band called Switchfoot were playing. Adrienne's favourite band, and she insisted on going. I didn't think letting 16 and 17 year old girls travel round London on thier own was a terribly good idea so I went too. Not to the concert of course!

I left them at the venue and me, Caitlin and Ellie went into the West End to see 'Sister Act'. When we got there we found our seats had been upgraded, which was nice. We were in the Royal Circle instead of the Upper Circle, so a much better view. It was a good show, but not as good as 'Wicked'. We arrived back in Kentish Town just as the concert finished so that worked out brillantly. We all walked back to the B&B together. B&B was a bit of a dive but the less said about that the better.
The following day was when we did our shopping. We all went into Oxford Street. Adrienne and Brodie went off and I took the others. We found the big Primark and they bought a few things. Then I bought myself a few dresses in a shop called Uniqlo. I like that shop, reasonable prices and clothes that no one else in Barnstaple will have. Our last stop was Hamleys where I managed to restrict them to only two floors and a price range of £10.
We had a late lunch (Subway) in Trafalgar Square then it was time to come home.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunny Weekend

Here are the highlights of our weekend in the sun!

Caitlin and I took Willow for a walk on Saturday afternoon.

Then we had a barbeque tea.

Ihad to publish this photo - rare evidence of my children actually getting on!

Today Ellie and I took Willow to the beach. She loved it but had to be restrained from abandoning us in favour of a couple with a golden retriever.
She has also had fun this morning with Ian and his dog Truffle. I didn't get my camera out but should have done cos they spent ages jumping on each other and rolling around.

Carl has spent some of the weekend digging up the patio. I wonder how long it will be before he finishes laying the decking? Anyone want to give me odds on sometime next year?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Willow goes walkies!

After weeks of waiting the puppy was finally allowed out today! And the poor little thing got dragged out three times. After the kids had gone to school I thought I'd experiment while there was peace and quiet so I walked her to the post box and back again. After some initial reservations she ambled along nicely at her own pace, but didn't want to come back. I had to practically drag her.
Then at 3.00 I decided to take her to pick Ellie up from school. I drove to the car park and walked her up the road to school. This took nearly ten minutes, but she was fussed over by everyone who met her. We waited outside the school gates for Ellie and she was fussed over some more by adults going into school and children coming out. Great! Socialisation and then some! She loved it.
After tea it was back out again for a quick walk round the block. She's getting the hang of this now. Just look at her go in the photos above. If only she would realise that she's supposed to do her business whilst out on the walk instead of waiting til she gets home.

Monday, 26 April 2010

We got a puppy!

Yes, we have a new addition to our household. And after much deliberation about a name (I wanted Dax, Adrienne liked Spock) we eventually decided on Willow.
I saw her advertised on Saturday. We went to visit in the afternoon and by the evening she was home! I must emphasize that this was not a spur of the moment decision. We've been wanting a dog for ages, had looked at a few others, but knew when we saw her that she was the one.
Appolgies for the second photo being a bit blurry. At the moment she'd either asleep, running around so fast you can't take a good photo, or we're too busy with carpet cleaner and a hot cloth to worry about taking photos!
I've heard about ten different ways to toilet train your dog in the last 48 hours, but feel free to leave me a comment about your best way. All advice gratefully received.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Things We've Been Doing

We have had a fairly relaxed Easter holiday, but have managed to do a few things as well. This is Ellie cycling down the cycle track to Fremington Quay. Caitlin came too while Adrienne entertained her friends at home with pizza and Wii.

We went to Saunton Sands one afternoon earlier this week. There was a cold wind, but they didn't mind. Caitlin tried digging to Australia, Ellie did her best to interfere, and I tried revising some Psychology - funnily enough I was reading the chapter on 'Stress'. The book could only suggest drugs or therapy as a solution, so when I got home I opted for the cheaper, quicker option and opened a bottle of beer.

Yesterday me and Ellie made a cake. It was lovely with chocolate custard.
We have also been to The Big Sheep for Francis' birthday party, and spent a day in Exeter shopping. We travelled down on the train, which I thought would be nice for a change, but it was packed and we had to stand all the way. Ellie obviously needs serious shopping training as she spent most of the time in the shops looking for somewhere to sit down. She did manage to spend a fair bit of my money though, one of her purchases being the dress she's wearing in the photo above.

We had a small bit of drama today, when a dog suddenly turned up in the garden and chased the rabbit and guinea pigs around their run for a while. The kids befriended him and attached him to a rope to try and find his owners. They eventually turned up about 45 minutes later. Caitlin was disappointed, she thought we might be able to keep him!