Monthly Archives: May 2015

So lucky 

I’m such a lucky girl. My birthday has been lovely. We didn’t get to Hampton Court as we’d planned, due to the weather, but I’ve had a very relaxing day with K and the children and a visit to see G&G for a cup of tea. I didn’t even have to cook dinner. 

I’ve been very touched by the thoughtfulness of some very special friends. I’ve had some gorgeous cards with lovely words in, some of which have made me misty eyed, and some incredibly well thought through gifts which are just perfectly “me”. I am looking forward to using my new “J” travel mug and reading my 100 Happy Day “thoughts for the day” book, and I have already found homes for the beautiful new ornaments (hate that word but how else to describe?) and bits and bobs I’ve been given. I seem to have given the impression to a few people that I like chocolate so I will force myself to eat all the yummy treats that I’ve received! It will be tough but I might be ok. 

It’s not all about the gifts (as I always tell the children) but it does make me feel very special that people have gone to such efforts for me. 

Special mention to Miss T and baby J who I was lucky enough to see today through the power of Skype. Special times. 

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Early birthday happiness

Today I celebrated my birthday early with a visit to my Nan’s. A had baked me a birthday cake this morning so that we could take it to enjoy with Nan and G&G. She put so much effort into making it perfect and it was delicious. 

It was lovely seeing my Nan but it struck me how she is ageing. Granted she’s 94 and so has every right to look elderly but until recent months she’s always looked far younger than her actual age. Her eyesight has deteriorated a lot lately and she now only has limited vision in one eye. She struggled a bit to eat her cake and I had to force myself not to help her. 

Despite this she is still remarkably bright and “with it”. She followed all of our conversations, she showed genuine interest in everything the children had to say (and I struggle to do that at times!) and she told me a wonderful story. She has some truly hideous china flying ducks (a la Hilda Ogden) and she told me how she came to have them. She was on holiday with my grandad (I think it was their last holiday before he died) and she had seen the ducks in the caravan site gift shop (on Canvey Island). She told the shopkeeper that she desperately wanted the ducks but didn’t have the money at that point. The shopkeeper agreed to hold them for her until the end of the week in case she was able to afford them at the end of her holiday. She saved the little spending money that she had by not having any ice creams and duly went back to the shop for her ducks. The shopkeeper informed her that unfortunately they had been sold. Nan was very upset and admonished the shopkeeper until they explained that they had sold them to the “gentleman over there” whilst pointing to Grandad. He had gone back to the shop earlier in the week (after Nan had seen them for the first time) and bought them for her. What a lovely man and what a fantastic story. If they weren’t so flipping hideous I would be earmarking them for my own! 

  

But my legs ache! 

Oh dear. My poor legs. I like a walk and I’m not averse to a good long walk, but my legs are not really up to the paces they’ve been out through in the last 2 days. 

Yesterday, after a quiet morning we headed off to Ashridge to check out a bike trail we are thinking of trying. K was reluctant to go straight off on bikes in case it turned out to be too tricky for A, so we decided to walk it. And boy did we walk. We ended up at Ivinghoe Beacon and were all pretty knackered as there were some killer hills along the way, and we still had 3 miles to go to get back to the Visitor Centre. But we soldiered on and rewarded ourselves with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. 
My legs were a bit achy this morning so I’d clearly done some work! Today, we’d planned a trip to the Hell-Fire caves at West Wycombe and despite the rain we went ahead. The signposts from the car park clearly pointed up an enormous hill which we duly hiked up in the pouring rain. I wasn’t wearing the best footwear for climbing a hill and subsequently ended up slipping a bit and with soaking wet feet. Imagine my disgust when, on reaching the summit, we were met with another sign pointing BACK DOWN THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL!!!! 

Not impressed. 

The caves were alright. Quite interesting stories and history behind them. But definitely not worth an unnecessary hike up and down a hill in unsuitable footwear in the pouring rain. 

This evening we have been treated to the culinary skills of T and his first ever homemade curry. Inspired by his friend while we were camping he set to and produced a yummy balti for us. Job for life. 

   
 

Frinton Family Fun

Yesterday the Beddoe Four picked G&G up at 9am and we headed off to Frinton for the day. It’s a favourite day out for all of us and the weather was kind to us as usual. 

We always end up laughing at something silly when we are out with G&G and yesterday was no exception. After a lovely relaxing day looking for sea glass, eating picnic food, sitting watching the world go by and playing boules on the beach we reluctantly headed back to the car for the journey home. We were all getting in ready to go when I thought I could smell something unpleasant (doggy related) so we all had to check out shoes….Grandad isn’t renowned for his flexibility and was trying to manoeuvre himself out of the front passenger seat to check his shoes. Rather than watch him struggle K said “lift up” and Grandad swung his legs up displaying his feet for inspection. I’m not sure what the passing cars and pedestrians made of this scene but it certainly had us in hysterics for the next few minutes. Perhaps you had to be there? 

On a rather more serious note as we were sitting by the beach hut, a rather worried lady asked up if we’d seen a small girl walk past. It transpired that the lady and a group of friends plus 8 children (between them) had walked back up to theirs cars to find that one of the children wasn’t with them. We offered to help look while she informed the beach patrol. T and I searched the walk behind the beach huts with no luck. Thankfully after a frantic twenty minutes the child was found with a family at the other end of the prom having gone back to her beach hut to find it empty. It really brought home how easily these things can happen and how quickly a child can become lost even in a familiar environment. 

  

I will survive

No I’m not going to start singing don’t worry. I am pleased to announce that I survived the night. I didn’t sleep brilliantly but I did sleep. Interspersed with some snoring (K), sleep talking (T), owl hooting (an owl) and bed creaking above me (A). Yes I had the bottom bunk! I popped for a final toilet visit before bed only to come back to find T bunked down with K on the sofa bed. They’d decided it wasn’t big enough for us 2 adults (especially given that I like a LOT of space in bed at night. So for the first time ever I slept in a bunk bed. Another first in my forties. 

This morning we’ve been for an almost 9 mile bike ride along the canal and back through Gunpowder Park. We went wrong a few times (my awesome map reading skills at work again) but somehow it’s not so bad on bikes as when you’re walking. A managed to drench both her feet by stopping in an enormous puddle and dropping her bike in said puddle meaning K had to wade in to pick it up. Marvellous. Miserable child with soggy feet and rather annoyed K. The prospect of cake and a drink a short cycle along the path brightened them both up though. 

All in all its been 90% pleasant. Off out for a Sunday roast at a local pub shortly now that I’m showered and changed into slightly less scruffy clothes (I’m quite liking the relaxed dress code of camping – not that I’m a style icon normally but it’s nice to not have to give a monkeys what you look like). 

Unless tonight goes horribly wrong and the cabin gets blown away in a freak storm I think I can be optimistic about a possible return visit. But don’t hold me to it. 

   
 

Bear Grylls eat your heart out

Thd Beddoe Four have been “camping” three times. 

The first, in a tent, was an absolute disaster – it rained, was freezing, I didn’t sleep a wink and A had the mother of all tantrums resulting in me screaming at her in front of a group of our friends. As I said, disaster. 

The second time we stayed in a “pod” (having sold the tent the moment we returned from stay 1). This was slightly less traumatic and the weather was fabulous which made the whole weekend more enjoyable. 

The third time, encouraged by the second attempt, was an unequivocal nightmare. I, again, barely slept. It rained and on the second night I went out to the toilet in the middle of the night (in the rain), slipped over in the toilet block and hurt my back whilst getting soaked through in the process. I returned to the “pod” and cried for the rest of the night. We were home by 9am. 

So it’s taken two years for me to be persuaded to try again. K had promised T that they would go last year but they didn’t get chance. We’ve been cycling several times in the Lea Valley and we noticed that they have a campsite – with cabins that have bunk beds, a sofa bed, a heater, a kettle and a coffee table. So I had my arm twisted and we booked it. 

Well, the weekend arrived and we set off at lunchtime. I have to admit to a level of excitement tinged with abject fear. It’s all well and good seeing a lovely wooden cabin on the internet but actually living in it is a different matter. So far I am pleasantly surprised. It’s warm, it’s fairly roomy considering it’s about an 8ft hexagonal  structure. The sofa bed is ridiculously small but I wasn’t expecting to slee much anyway. We’ve cycled to the Gunpowder Park and back. We’ve barbecued for tea and made s’mores. So far so pleasant. 

The best bit? We’re on our own. We can eat when we want. We can drink as little as we want. The kids can sit with us and chat without feeling like they are unwelcome. We’ve tried to be sociable over the years since we moved into the road we live in but we’ve finally realised that we actually like being on our own as a family and we don’t need to be surrounded by people to have a good time. 

I’m reserving judgment on a future trip until the morning but I’m not hating it. And that’s pretty good going I reckon. 

   
 

Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3

After a horrible start to the day which saw me watching my girl going in to school in tears, it turned out alright in the end.

My stomach churned until pick up time and only settled down when she came out and all was ok. We walked home with the Lovely Lilleys (as I will now refer to them) and she ate the gingerbread man that Mrs Lovely had kindly bought for her. Master Lovely is lots of fun and by the time we got home we were all smiling.

When we got in A recounted the events of the day, the main part being that she had asked the girl who had been being unkind to her why she was doing it. The answer was that it was because she (A) has got a horrible laugh. A set her straight that her laugh is what it is (music to my ears actually) and that she can’t and won’t change it. So get over it basically. The girl shrugged and couldn’t really answer. The other girls, who had been joining in on the teasing like the sheep that they are, apologised to A for being unkind. I am unbelievably proud that she stood up to this child and has made it clear that she won’t change who she is for anyone. And rightly so.

My third reason to be (more than just) cheerful was when T arrived home with a large 6C written on the back of his hand. His way of remembering the brilliant news that he has achieved his goal in his maths test of last week and is on track for an end of year grade that will hopefully enable him to do Computing at GCSE. He’s worked incredibly hard and his hard work is paying off. So pleased for him.

What a great day.