Saturday, 25 February 2012

a jolly jaunt

Oh, didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Portsmouth?

This week MrG had a meeting with a prospective client. The meeting was in Portsmouth - a 6 hour journey from our house. We have not been to Portsmouth before so thought it would be a good idea to keep him company on his long journey and check out Portsmouth while we were there!

We didn't arrive at the hotel until late so we dropped off our bags and headed out for something to eat. There was so much choice - British, Indian, Chinese, Italian and Greek restaurants, all on one street and just around the corner from our hotel! We plumped for a Chinese meal of szechuan chicken, egg fried rice and crispy noodles - just thinking of it now makes my mouth water!

The hotel was great too. A room with a sea view. We could have spent hours just gazing out of the window - there was so much to see. Hovercraft, naval boats, yachts and jet skiers. It was a hive of activity.

MrG's meeting was at 10am so he was finished by 11 and we had the rest of the day to explore.

We headed to the shore and the marina then hit the shops. There was a great selection of shops and some lovely little cafe's at the waterfront.

We went to Gap for jeans and t-shirts, Paperchase for lovely new notebooks (my daughter has inherited my passion for new stationery) and Cath Kidston for a knitted bear!

We also found some antique/junk shops, galleries and funky independent shops in Southsea. We bought posters and a design book from Southsea Gallery, a new keyring from Flo & Stan and MrG took lots of colourful photo's of the 'arty' streets of Southsea.

We were having such a lovely time that we decided not to rush home. We wanted to stay out and play for a little longer!

We left Portsmouth at 4pm but instead of travelling home we headed for Tewksbury and found a stylish Townhouse B&B to stay in for the night.

We awoke the next morning to the most glorious weather. Blue skies and sunshine - lovely. It really perks you up when you get a little taster of spring and it made it feel like we were away on holiday.

The streets of Tewksbury couldn't have been more different - very pretty. Lots of black and white buildings, crooked walls, bowed windows and little cobbled lanes.

We had a lovely time and have decided to go back and explore some more. We will try and book a holiday cottage for the summer or later in the year.

ps. and to round off a perfect trip - MrG got an email to say that he won the tender and the prospective client is looking forward to working with him. Well done MrG x

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

love's labour's lost

I think I mentioned before about our book-club not being at all 'high brow' and oh boy was that all the more evident when we visited the theatre tonight!

Ten of us from the book-club decided that as none of us had read any Shakespeare since our school days (I can't remember reading any) then would it be a good idea to have a night out and go and see Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost at our local theatre. He is obviously a very popular chap because the theatre was packed!

We settled into our seats and the play started. Within the first five minutes I thought 'oh boy - I'm not going to have a clue what's going on' then I thought 'oh boy - what have I done, why did I agree to come?' then I thought 'oh boy - this is going to be a long, long night'.

But.. I settled down and surprised myself by understanding (vaguely) what was going on. I understood that the King of Navarre and his three lords swore an oath to study for three years and avoid contact with women. The Princess of France and three of her ladies visited the King and their good intentions were tested when the three lords fell in love with the three ladies, as did the King with the Princess. A messenger arrived to tell the Princess that her father had died and she has to return to France. The ladies then tell their suitors to seek them again in a year, and the play ends with the Princess and her ladies leaving.

That all sounds quite straightforward and easy to follow but then there are a few odd things thrown in and it got quite puzzling! There was an extravagantly spoken (camp) Spaniard, his page boy, a country bumpkin, a pregnant dairymaid, a clergyman and a schoolmaster. The second half was quite bizarre.

The cast were great. The acting, singing, dancing and instrument playing was all very impressive. I think it was just a bit 'over our heads'. The language and the story was quite tricky to follow and it was quite hard work.

We were asked if we would like to join the Q&A session after the play but I'm afraid we all felt that we were out of our depth. What heathens we are!

We've experienced a Shakespeare play and yes, it was quite an experience.

Monday, 20 February 2012

pea soup

No, I'm not talking about the weather! No fog today just rain, rain and more rain. So much so that I decided to warm us through with a bowl of fresh pea and tarragon soup.

It is one of the easiest and tastiest soups I've ever made and it is the most fantastic colour. I have a 'thing' about garden peas - I love them. My family are not so keen and make fun of my passion for peas. I'd quite happily serve them with every meal - I even pop some in my basmati rice when I'm making a curry!

Link for soup recipe

Saturday, 18 February 2012

valentine flowers

I used to buy myself cut flowers quite often (just from the supermarket) but discovered that they make MrG sneeze so I have to resist temptation.

So imagine my delight when MrG bought me these beautiful red roses and lilies for Valentine's Day. Aren't they gorgeous?

This photo was taken today when the lilies were beginning to open.

Not only do they look gorgeous, they smell wonderful too. Especially first thing in the morning when I open the living room door - mmm lovely, as if the perfume fairies have been in overnight!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

craft work v house work

Craft work won the battle today!

I am Soooo loving this freehand machine embroidery. I know there's a mountain of housework that I should be doing but I've been distracted once again by my sewing machine.

I decided to have a go at making myself a header for my blog.

My Mum bought me some card letters (many moons ago) and they have been great to use as templates on patterned papers to make birthday cards. My daughter has had great fun with them too - making cards, posters and in her scrap books. I haven't used them on fabric before but now I'm fired up with this embroidery lark and there's no stopping me. I have already cut out all sorts of names and sayings. I've decided they will make lovely gifts. A framed name for a new baby, a framed saying for the bedroom (sweet dreams), kitchen (fancy a brew, time for tea), child's room (princess) etc...

Not that I'll be able to do them all today! House work must be squeezed into the day's proceedings at some point!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

happy heart day

I didn't realise I was surrounded by so much love!

Monday, 13 February 2012

february flowers

February can be so dull - all the more reason to brighten up your house with flowers.

some yellow daffs

Cheap shop bought daffodil plants (only 50p each) re-potted into a shallow tin and topped off with moss from our local woods.

some pink hyacinths

My hyacinths bulbs were given to me for my birthday at the end of September. I planted them in bulb fibre and kept them in a dark place for a couple of months. I have never been a one for forward planning and planting bulbs for the next season so I was chuffed to bits when I first took them out of hibernation to find that they were about an inch tall. I re-potted them (because I found this lovely tin trough) and then topped off with moss. They look as if they are giving quite a good show here in this photo but I'm afraid this is as good as it got! The pink colour is fab. The leaves continued to grow but my flowers were stunted and died back much quicker than I expected. What did I do wrong? Did I not leave them in the dark long enough? Should I not have re-potted them? Were they in too much light too soon? Were they over-watered or under-watered? I don't know where I went wrong.

some beautiful purple crocuses

these little beauties are on the patio in my back garden. This photo was taken when they were opened up to the afternoon sunshine - don't they look gorgeous?

I think I'll have to get some tulips next - I'm planning to draw some for my next freestyle embroidery picture.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

something new

OOOOoooo isn't it a wonderful feeling when you try something new and you find that you love doing it! *Ahem*

Today I went to a 'freestyle machine embroidery' workshop and had a brilliant time. There was a group of about ten of us there armed with our sewing machines, fabrics, threads and embroidery hoops.

Although I love all sorts of crafts and I am the owner of a sewing machine I have only really used my machine for making cushion covers, curtains and the odd costume when the children were in school plays - my daughter played Angel Gabriel when she was about 8 (oh, how proud was I!).

Anyway, I'm trying to let you know just how basic my machine-sewing skills are, as is my dear old sewing machine. It is quite an old model and quite basic compared to the new ones available today. Saying that, have you ever sat down and just tried all the stitches available on your machine? I usually just run up a few seems in straight stitch and neaten off using zig-zag but the tutor encouraged us to try as many stitches as possible and I was surprised at just how many different stitches my 'old dear' had.

By the afternoon we had all gained control of our machine so we progressed to freestyle! Ooo this is where it got exciting. Our tutor demonstrated her drawing skills using the sewing machine to draw a very detailed fish, with scales, bubbles etc. She was able to draw using the machine as well as some of us could draw with pen and paper. She had some samples of her work to show us and her figurative drawings were like pen and ink illustrations - I was very impressed and inspired. Thank you Katie.

The afternoon flew by and I really wasn't ready to pack up and leave at the end of the day. My dear old machine will not be banished to her hiding place under the desk. She will be on the dining room table for the next few weeks, at least.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Mmmmm... just in the mood to make some shortbread.

So easy, so tasty!

book club

Our book-club meets up every 4-6 weeks and we take turns to host and choose the next book. Our group is not at all highbrow (maybe some of the girls are - but they hide it well!). We are a group of Mums who enjoy a good read, a good chat, a good laugh and the odd glass of wine. Although we do 'talk books' and review our recent reads we also manage to cover a plethora of interesting subjects (of course I couldn't possibly divulge). It's reassuring to know that other families are going through similar trials and tribulations with their children whether it's primary schools, secondary schools, GCSE's, A'Levels, Uni, girlfriends, boyfriends or leaving home! It really is good to talk - I always come home feeling far less stressed!

Over the last year our selection of books include the following...

Are you part of a book-club? Are you highbrow? Maybe you could recommend some reading matter. I'd love to hear from you x

Monday, 6 February 2012

magazines and make-overs

Look what was in my postbox today...

my new Country Living magazine

I resisted temptation to take a peek before heading to the office as I may have been lost in it for a couple of hours! But now that I'm home from work (and the school run) I am going to snatch half-an-hour or so before making our evening meal (kedgeree tonight).

I have a 'bit of a thing' for housey magazines. I used to have a 'bit of a thing' for ALL magazines and found it hard to resist buying a new one (or two) each time I was out shopping - even if just popping out for a pint of milk. A few years ago I started to cut down and have reduced my intake gradually (to avoid the withdrawl symptoms) and now just treat myself to the odd one. I have just started a subscription to Country House and Interiors magazine and my Mum and Dad have paid for my subscription to Country Living for the last couple of years as part of my Christmas box.

I keep my magazines for years as the interiors are quite classic and timeless. They are value for money because I dip in and out of them when I need some inspiration. I have loads of decorating to do in my house as it is looking shabby - and not in a chic way. I'm guilty of starting projects when I'm keen and full of ideas but then losing momentum and not quite finishing the job!

Take my bedroom wardrobes for example - a bargain buy at our local antique/sale rooms. I wasn't shopping for wardrobes I was just browsing one Sunday afternoon when I spotted these enormous wardrobes and had a feeling that they'd be just perfect for us. They were the most ghastly orangey pine but I could visualise them as they would look after a shabby-chic make-over. We had to dismantle our bed just so the delivery guys could get the thing in the room.

The wardrobes have now been given the shabby-chic treatment, off-white egg shell paint and new ceramic knobs and a lavender heart - it's all looking lovely. Just as I had visualised except......

the drawers have been left like this for the last few months. Maybe if I name and shame myself here on my blog I will feel obliged to finish off all the loose ends.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

let it snow

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We woke up on Saturday morning to no snow. But...... it started with very small flakes at about 10am and it got heavier and heavier and snowed almost all day. We didn't think it would lay as the ground was quite wet but it just kept on coming and although not very deep we had a lovely covering of crunchy white snow!

Gabriella suggested a dog walk. I was quite happy to look at the snow from inside my cosy, cosy house. The dogs were keen to go for a walk. Gabriella was keen to take some photo's. The dogs were keen to play in the snow. Gabriella was keen to get me out of the house and into the snow so I relented and wrapped myself up and went out for a walk!

Once outside I was happy. The crisp white snow. The silence of snow. The sheer amazement of snow.

Snow is wonderful if you have no travel plans, no work, no appointments. We have enjoyed having snow for the whole weekend but I may not feel so keen tomorrow when we have to do the school run and go to work!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

first of feb

The first of feb has been a fab day. A frosty start followed by a lovely sunny afternoon - just as I had hoped! I feel so much cheerier today

Reasons to be cheerful -

1. a lovely long lie-in this morning

2. a bowl of tasty porridge with raisins for breakfast

3. a sunny trip to the shops

4. a long-overdue purchase of two new pairs of jeans

5. a bag full of grocery goodies from M&S

6. a prawn salad for lunch from M&S

7. a successful meeting at school re my son's 6th form studies

8. a pretty little notebook

9. a fruit scone and a cup of tea at Emily's Cafe

10. a snatched half hour to start the Book-Club's new book

11. a subscription to Country Homes and Interiors magazine

12. a delicious beef stew in the slow cooker

13. a dog walk in the woods

14. a relaxing soak in the bath

15. a slice of gingerbread and yet another cup of tea