Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Play

This is Ellie in her last ever Christmas play at Bluecoat. She was in the final scene and had the grand total of 3 lines, but she was quite happy when she discovered she had the last line of the play. She did it very well.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Santa Fun Run

Carl took part in the Santa Fun Run today in aid of North Devon Hospice. He set off from the Football Club at the front of the pack - a risky undertaking - and managed to be one of the first ones back too!
However, when the runners got to the end of the High Street there was a choice between the shorter run over the old bridge, and a longer one round Rock Park and over the Iron Bridge. He opted for the short run, blaming the weather. It was very wet.

There were only about 100 people doing it. I thought there'd be more. If you feel like donating any sponsor money, you know where to find us!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Weekend Away

We've just come back from a lovely, if knackering, weekend away. We travelled to Reading area on Saturday and made the mistake of leaving late at just after 10. Byt the time we'd detoured for petrol it was closer to 10.30 and it took us half an hour just to get out of Barnstaple. The link road was horrendous, I have never seen so much traffic and Ellie was car sick before we got to the motorway. She is never sick!
Anyway, we made to Louise and Ian's by 3 o'clock, but really it should have taken half that time! After a lovely cup of tea to recover we took the kids, and thier dog, out for a walk in the woods. Then it was back to theirs for lots of lovely beer, food and chats. We were even treated to some fireworks in the back garden. It was great.
We spent the night in a Travelodge. In a family room purchased in one of their sales for £12. I didn't get much sleep. Carl did. I know cos I had to listen to him snore for most of the night. And the next day we were up bright and early for our day at Chessington World of Adventure.
For some unknown reason they decided not to open the most popular ride, Dragon something or other, until later, and they were not saying what time for anyone who asked. So we ran off to do 'Vampire' first. It's the first time I'd done a rollercoaster where the seats hang and your feet dangle. I survived, though. It was fun. And they got to do the Dragon ride eventually, although there was a 45 minute queue by the time we noticed it was open.
We did most of the other things we wanted, although the queues for the Halloween walk-through things were also mega, and the kids had got fed up of queueing by then so we restricted ourselves to just the one, 'The Krypt'. It made me scream when something shot rice down my back but other than that it was pretty rubbish.
They're favourite ride was 'Kobra', a giant disc which spins and goes backwards and forwards along a bumpy track at the same time. They did that twice, first thing in the morning and again in the dark just before we left. We were all knackered by then. It was 10 o'clock when we got home but they've all managed to get up and go to school this morning. I'm glad I've got the morning off!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A WOW Moment...

Just got back from walking the dog along the river front. The sunset was amazing, as was the very high tide. What made it even more amazing were the hundreds of starlings that flew directly overhead just as I got to the Pathfields building and the slipway. I so wished I'd had my camera. By the time I realised there was a camera on my phone the birds were swooping and wheeling on the other side of the river, you can see them as a line of black dots in the sky on this photo but it was much more spectacular that this in real life. There were just so many of them.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ellie's 11th Birthday

Eleven is when I stop doing birthday parties. So this weekend was my last big party for my youngest daughter. I don't know whether I am relieved or sad.
We had about 25 kids all in all, at the church hall, with a disco. And I have to say the lady who did the disco was fantastic. She kept them occupied for the whole two hours with dancing and games, etc. There was a half an hour break in the middle for food and present opening, but other than that they were fully engaged from start to finish. Worth every penny.
Ellie had a lovely time and was completely knackered by the time we got home and finished watching 'Strictly' and 'Merlin'. So was I!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Visitors from India

Today we played host to two very lovely children from Lourdes Central School in Mangalore, India, Alison and Gavin. They are cousins and live in the same house with three generations of their family.
Alison and Gavin are here with eight other children and three teachers from their school as part of the third year of our India project linking the two schools. Alison is Ellie's pen pal. They came for tea and had great fun playing on the Wii. They were very confident and talkative, as well as being very polite and helpful. I liked the way they called me and Carl 'aunty' and 'uncle'.
The only time it was quiet was when they were eating, although I'm not sure they knew what to make of my roast dinner. They'll be in school until Thursday, then Ellie will see them again in February when she goes to India.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

October sun

Here are just a few photos of us enjoying the October heatwave. Most of the weekend we have spent painting the outside of our house. But this afternoon I decided we ought to do something else too. And as they all moan about going to the beach the next best thing was walking the dog somewhere you can look at the beach. So here we are in the hills above Woolacombe.
It took me ages to get Willow to sit still long enough to take this photo!
Use the self-timer for this one, just after we'd stopped on a handy bench for a drink and snack.
This was taken on our way to the sand dunes and the walk back to the car park.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Walk in the Woods

We haven't all been out together for ages. So when the rain finally stopped this afternoon we all went for a walk in the woods by Loxhore. We've been there before, and its nice. Although Ellie moaned just after we'd started about turning round and going back. We made it as far as the river, then turned round. So we walked for about an hour in all. Willow had a great time - until she got back to the car and had to be cleaned off before she was allowed in it. Even then she was banished to the boot until we got home. Poor doggy!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bank Holiday

For once the sun actually shone on a Bank Holiday! Hooray! We were invited over to Julie and Kens to see their new kitchen, which is lovely, and for a barbeque. First we all went for a walk in the woods behind Landkey. Julie did tell me what they were called but I forgot. It was great. And Willow had a good time, running around and sniffing everything.
We stopped for a drink in a clover field, saw some pretty butterflies on the flowers and two birds of prey circling overhead. Then we went back to their house and watched Ken burn sausages. It's a rule, isn't it, its not a BBQ unless its burnt!
Adrienne was at home all this time, in case you were wondering why she wasn't in the photo, writing her personal statement for uni. I'm such a mean mother.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cheddar Gorge and Caves

We've just got back from a little trip away. On Friday we went to Bristol and did some shopping. We also went to see 'Rise of Planet of the Apes' at the cinema and walked back to the Travelodge through a torrential downpour. The last time I got that wet with my clothes on was on a Disney ride.
Today we've been to Cheddar Gorge and Caves. The explorer ticket entry gets you in to several attractions. First we did Gough's Cave, named after the man to who discovered it and shown in the photo above. It's huge; the photo is only one little bit of it. There is an audio tour - you get to signs on the wall, push the number and listen to the commentary. Ellie wanted to do every single one. The rest of us skipped some. Caitlin looked worried every time the commentary mentioned the caves getting flooded, or being home to bats.
After a cup of tea we walked the 274 steps up to the look-out on top of the gorge. There were more steps to get to the top of the look-out. My legs are still aching now. We decided against doing the three mile walk around the top of the gorge. Our ticket for that bit are valid for ten years, so we may go back!
Then there was Cox's Cave and the Crystal Quest. This was a bit like the cave equivalent to the Haunted House at the fair. There was a story of elves and their evil enemies who needed to be defeated. Caitlin got even more worried and when a man jumped out at her in the dark she shrieked very loudly! The rest of us laughed.
We got an open top bus tour which lasted about 20 mins.
And we went into the Prehistoric Museum, did some archaeology in sand boxes, painted some cave paintings onto glass, saw some more skeletons to 'freak' Caitlin out, then came home. It was a lovely day out.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Cornwall - sort of...

Me, Caitlin and Ellie have just come back from a short break in Cornwall. It started well, but read on, cos it didn't really end that way. We arrived in Newquay at around 2 o'clock on Sunday. It was lovely and sunny so we headed for the beach and had an ice-cream. I should have known when mine fell off its cone and onto the floor that it was all going to go down hill from there.
The Blue Reef aquarium was nice, if small. (I had a free child entry voucher.) We wandered round, saw Nemo, and watched the sharks being fed. The kids took loads of photos of all the fish.
We stayed in an appartment in a village called Tregarrian, just above Watergate Bay; fabulous views from the balcony. The appartment was in the roof of the house and rather grandly called The Penhouse. It was quite posh and came with a complimentary bottle of wine. Caitlin and Ellie imediately declared they wanted to live there forever and that they should try to keep it looking as nice as it did when we arrived. Five minutes later it looked like a bomb had dropped.
On Monday we went to Flambards. (I had a free child entry voucher.) The sun continued to shine. This was the first ride they went on, by mid-morning they had shed jeans and leggins in favour of shorts and dress. They had fun on all the rides, although they were small and not quite Disney. On our way back to the appartment we had tea in Pizza Hut. (Kids eat free and I had a pizza for £5 voucher.) Are you starting to spot a theme here?
Then on Tuesday disaster struck. We got up early in order to get to the Minack Theatre, left the appartment at 8:20, and half way down the A30 to Penzance my car broke. The engine started to make sounds like a metal woodpecker had got stuck inside. I pulled into a layby and several phone calls later, on a mobile that was just about to go flat, established the fact that my big end had gone. This was confirmed by the AA man when he arrived at 9:55. He towed me off the A30 and we waited until 11:15 for a tow truck to arrive.

The tow truck man very kindly left us in Newquay and then he and my car headed home without us. We could have gone home too but that would have cut our holiday short. So the photo above is Caitlin enjoying lunch in a nice pub in Newquay, recommended by a nice man in the Tourist Information office. It was boiling hot again.
But by the time we arrived at Newquay Zoo it had got cold and cloudy. Still we spent the afternoon looking at the animals. (Discount voucher used, also give us by the TI man.) Then got a taxi back to the appartment.
This was Caitlin and Ellie this morning on Watergate Bay beach. Compare to the one I took on Sunday! Change in the weather. Shortly after this my dad came to pick us up and take us home. I love my Daddy!!!
And the reason for the title? Well we were in Cornwall, no doubt about that, but really we could have been anywhere, in any zoo, aquarium, beach, etc. Ellie kept saying it felt like Spain. What I really wanted to do were the unique things, the only in Cornwall things : the Minack, St. Michaels Mount, Lands End. The stupid car put paid to that! Still they're not going anyway, I suppose.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

An Unsuccessful Walk

This is my poor sad doggy just before we took her home. We were walking in a place called Uppacott Wood, just outside of Bishops Tawton, when she got stung on the bottom by a wasp. We could see her trying to get to the area on the top of her hind leg and when I looked the wasp was still there, stuck in her fur. So I flicked it out. After that she didn't want to walk anywhere at all. Her tail went down and her ears went down, and when we picked her up she was all shivery. Poor doggy!
She's alright now though. And we did make her walk back to the car, which was good, cos she went on ahead as soon as I said we were going back, and she was the one who found the way out when the rest of us didn't know which way to go.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Playing with new technology

Aha! I've just worked out how to do this. I made a book trailer yesterday for a book I wrote ages ago. It was published by YouWriteOn, a website for writers funded by the Arts Council. And now I've worked out how to embed it into my blog. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks! Feel free to have a look.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Adrienne is 18 !!!

I can't believe I have an 18 year old daughter. My world has shifted slightly on its axis and I now have to adjust to having an adult child. Strange. Yesterday we had her party at the Conservative Club in Barnstaple. She went from not wanting one at all, to saying OK but it's going to be a masked party, to OK it's a full masquerade ball with posh frock and everything. Then there was the cake to-do. Adrienne didn't want one. I said she was having one and if she didn't agree to me doing a cake I'd get her a caterpillar cake like when she was little. She said, 'OK' - thinking I was joking!! Little did she know. So here she is, with Colin the Caterpillar 18th-birthday-style.
Ellie and Caitlin were allowed to attend. They didn't stay for the duration though, just until they got tired and bored. Carl took them home then came back to join me and our friends in the new cocktail bar round the corner. We left the 18 year olds to it, returning at the end to do embarrassing old people things on the dance floor.
Adrienne with BFF Brodie.
Me and my baby.
Dancing barefoot.
Those still left standing at the end of the night.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Harry Potter - the end.

We've just got back from watching 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - part 2'. The excitement in our house has been building up all week - the children started counting in hours about 2 days ago. We all went off in our Harry Potter t-shirts as you can see from the picture, but they decided to leave their wands behind at the last minute, just in case they lost them.
We were the first to book our seats the minute they went on sale and had the best seats in the house. We were the last to leave the cinema. I cried. I can't believe there is no more 'Harry Potter'! But it was a good film. Well worth the £30 in contact lenses just to see it in 3D properly. I need to go and see it again.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

School Council Chairperson

Elections were held in school today for the Chair and Vice-chair of next years School Council. Each candidate had to give an election speech persuading the rest of the school to vote for them. When it comes to election speeches pretty much anything goes. We usually get balloons, party poppers, bubbles, puppets, etc all used to persuade the audience to vote for that particular candidate. Ellie decided to do a powerpoint - we've never had that before - and it was all her own idea. Part of her campaign speech was that if you want something done, ask a busy person. This was her photo to illustrate that she is a busy person - learning 2 instruments and taking 3 different dance lessons a week. It worked. She got voted in as Chairperson of the School Council. That's Head Girl equivalent in todays primary schools.
Well done Ellie!!!!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunny Sunday

Hooray! Summer is here and it's on a weekend! We got out today to make the most of the nice weather. We cycled down to Fremington Quay. I offered them the choice of bike ride or dog walk and they were desperate to go on the bikes so we had to leave the poor doggy behind. Then Ellie moaned about her legs aching before we'd even got onto the Tarka Trail.
The thought of a nice cold drink and an ice cream at the end kept her going though. Except it wasn't quite the end cos then we had to come home again.
At home there were water fights. The dog ran away and sat by the front door. A hint if ever there was one. So I took her for a nice long walk along the river behind the cricket pitch. She was so knackered from chasing stones when we got there she ran straight into the water then stood there wondering how she was going to drink whilst holding her stone. After a while she realised she had to put it down. Then spent ages with her nose right under the water trying to get it back again.
It even stayed sunny long enough for us to have a BBQ too. The first one we actually had outside all year. I hope it lasts.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Things we have been up to in June...

Caitlin had her birthday. She is now 14!! She went with her friends to Lets Go and spent an hour in the karaoke pod, then had tea in Burger King. Ideal, as I didn't have to do anything other than pay.
Ellie performed in a junk band as part of Tidy-up-our-town day. She did a workshop at school then did this in Barnstaple square one Saturday morning in the rain.
Carl and Ellie did some gardening. They pulled out lots of weeds and planted a massive 3 plants!
Last Sunday, on possibly the hottest Sunday of the year, instead of going to the beach, we went Go-karting with Beth, Andrew, Francis and Dad. I did one race, everyone else did two or three.
Ellie managed a spectacular crash on the bend after this one. She drove straight into the wall, did a 180 degree spin and her helmet came shooting off into the air. She has a lovely seatbelt bruise across one shoulder and a massive bump on her back where she shot back into the seat after stopping. Her next lap was 3 times slower than that one!
Yesterday Ellie went to Pilton school as part of a Sports Festival. Caitlin was helping to organise and run one of the events. So I managed to get them both together for the first time since they started school.
And today of course I've been on strike and both their schools were closed. We took the dog for a walk along the river bank and stopped in the park for ice creams.