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Archive for July, 2007

Oh For a Good Night’s Sleep

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I have probably mentioned this before.  But how I long for a good nights sleep.  I can’t even remember the last time it happened.

Whether it’s the mummy gene that kicks in when you have children, but I am such a light sleeper.

I’ve been woken up by frogs calling (not on the phone but to each other), snail crunching hedgehogs, wide awake birds before 5.00 am and generally any slight breathing sound of any animal around me.

Not last night but the night before I woke up at 4.00 am and couldn’t sleep.  I didn’t even bother trying and got up and started on the dreaded accounts which I still haven’t done yet.

My old accountant has no idea how it’s affected my ability to put paperwork together since we had to find a new one.  I think it’s the confidence of having someone know how you work and now I have to re-justify everything to someone new.  And it’s really put me off my stride.

Today I am feeling the effects of my early start!

I’ve also been to the doctors today to see about my hormonal state.  Let’s just say I’ve been up and down with the old monthlys more than a yo-yo.  I had been earlier this year but the doctor wanted me to see how it went.

Suffice to say it didn’t, so have pursued it.  I now have a very nice lady doctor who is fun to chat to and is looking after me.

I have been referred and phoned up for an appointment using this new system they have near us.  You can now choose which hospital you go to and they let you know which one will be the quickest one to get an appointment at.

I phoned up and a voice said (shortened version) "Thank you for calling.  We are experiencing technical difficulties and won’t be able to book you an appointment until after 2.00 this afternoon"  And then nothing. 

For an answer machine I thought I could hear sounds in the background.  So I tentatively said hello down the phone.  Imagine my surprise when a voice came back and said again "we can’t book you in until after 2.00". 

I said "I thought you were a message". "No", she replied but didn’t say anything else.  You know like "would you like to call back later?"

It was left for me to say "shall I call you back then?".

Anyway I’ve found out the hospital I want to go to has an on-line system which I shall use later when hubby comes home. 

Although I did very nearly cancel the whole thing at one point!  Noooooooo!


Where Do I Begin? - Final Part

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Where Do I Begin? - Part 4

I’ll be brief on this last part as I’m fed up with myself now!

Because of the position of the hotel we didn’t have very many choices left for places to visit.  We couldn’t visit the Lakes again, it was just too far.

We therefore opted to visit Hadrian’s Wall which was only about half an hour away.  We found a visitor centre in a fabulously named place called ‘Once Brewed‘ and were pointed in the right direction.   And amazingly further down the road was another place called ‘Twice Brewed‘.

Hadrian’s Wall was rather a wonderful sight.  If we hadn’t have had the children with us we probably would have walked a few miles along side the wall.    

As it was, it turned out to be a very windy day and although you can’t see from these photographs, the wall led up to a very steep incline which took you out onto open land. 

It fair took your breath away. Not only from the scenery but the strength of the wind.

As you can imagine also, the roads were very, very straight around this area.  It was quite funny in some parts as it looked as the road just stopped as you were driving up the steep areas.  Much to the amusement of the children.

Because of all of the fresh air one of my children fell asleep so our options became limited for any more walking.

However, I had a plan.  When looking at what was around the area I’d noticed signs for ‘the most scenic railway’.  As the weather had been unpredictable I thought that this would be a good idea to do.  We would be inside the train and see some of the lovely countryside as well (not that we hadn’t already seen loads of it mind you!).

So we headed back to Alston and made our way to the scenic railway.  Only it does help if you get the right railway doesn’t it?

In my sheer stupidity we ended up at South Tynedale Railway which was very sweet but only took you on a half hour journey instead of where we should have been which was the Settle-Carlisle Railway

Still we managed to get a nice cuppa and hot chocolate off the lady on the buffet train of the South Tynedale Railway and they were very, very  nice people.

Back at the hotel we decided to eat in the lovely bar area again.  The night before we had all had a fantastic meal and the children’s menu had been great, so there had been something for everyone.

Not so tonight!  A different chef was on and the meal I had raved about the night before, that I had recommended not only to my mom but my niece just wasn’t as nice.  My niece also had a hair in her food and one in my son’s.

The waiter was surprised when I asked if it was a different chef.  But you could tell the difference not only from the taste, which was bland, but the presentation.

They did right by us though and refunded part of the meals.  The chef sent out a card with his apologies hand written on it and some home made truffles.  But it was just another glitch.

Ne’er mind.  The children were still having a good time.

Oh yes and did I mention that during our stay my youngest son fell from the top bunk bed!  I had just walked in to our room where he had been playing with my sis and he’d climbed up to get a magazine he wanted to read with her.

As I was walking towards the bed to talk to him, he over reached for his magazine and just fell.  Thankfully my sister had put a huge pouffe underneath the bed as part of the den, so it broke his fall and gave him a softer landing.

He smacked his chin on a shelf on the way down and I’m pleased to say no other damage.  But for that split second it was sickening to watch.  I wasn’t near enough to help him or catch him and just had to watch with horror.

So not the best weekend I’ve ever organised and hopefully you can see why I was on a bit of a downer about it.  But like I said before, the children thoroughly enjoyed themsleves and for me that counted for far more than anything else.

On our journey home we decided to stop off at Morecambe which the children thought was fantastic.  We spent a great couple of hours on the beach, eating chips and building sandcastles.  We also engineered a waterway from the beach to the sea so the water could flow back to the sea and it worked. 

I’ll have to ask my sister for a couple of piccies.  We were really impressed with ourselves anyway. 

It was a great family piece of team work!

For You Sis

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I went out with my very best friends last night and had a lovely time just chilling, gossiping and catching up. 

We haven’t been out together for about two months so had lots to chat about.  Much to the probably annoyance of the staff at The Punch Bowl as we were the last ones to leave!! 

I did apologise on the way out, but again the food was fab and so was the ambience so technically it was their fault for making us feel so comfortable and not wanting to leave.

Before I went out my sister had phoned me to ask if I could drop round her mobile phone that she had left at mine during the day.

I’d had a day of ironing and cleaning so was in my ‘about the house dress only’ attire, hair curly from being in the rain, no make up and hair scraped back in a very unflattering style.  (Who cares when you’re at home eh).

So I offered to drop it round before I got ready.  I decided to brave it in my ‘house’ clothes and  hoped that I didn’t break down anywhere so that I wouldn’t frighten any one with how I looked.  My sister commented on my lovely attire and empathised with my fashion know how.

So I thought I’d let her see how I looked before I got ready and after.  Please say there was some improvement and don’t say which one is the before picture!!


Toxic World

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I received an email today from a newsletter I’ve signed up to and it had this article in it about cars producing toxic fumes when left in the hot sun (mind you do we know what that is at the moment!).

It’s called "Is Your Car Trapping Your Family in a Toxic Bubble?" by Laura Roe Stevens and is a very interesting article.

In a world where we never really know what we’re breathing in, eating or being subjected to it’s good to receive a little wake up call and alert us to dangers we probably didn’t know existed.

Or maybe we do and choose to ignore them.



Where Do I Begin? - Part 4

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Where Do I Begin? - Part 1 

Where Do I Begin? - Part 2 

Where Do I Begin? - Part 3 

The hotel itself was a lovely looking building.  It was just miles and miles and miles from anywhere!  I never was very good at map reading in geography and it certainly showed now.  Those brown marks all over the area meant ‘very hilly place’.

It’s supposed to be a 4 star hotel but while it’s had a lot of money spent on it and the decor is fresh and there is some beautiful furniture, it still needs more work on it.

For instance the family room we had was plenty big enough for 2 adults and 3 children.  The brass bed knob on the double bed was broken.  When I mentioned it, they already knew about it but hadn’t got round to it.  There were hundreds of little black flies on the window sill.  No bedside table or lamp next to the single bed.

No mirror to apply makeup or do your hair in the main bedroom (unless you count standing on the bed to blow dry your hair).  The bunk beds proved a great play area but the surrounding wood was very dark making the bottom bunk really claustrophobic.  I ended up with two children sleeping in with me because of it.

The fan in the bathroom was making a dreadful noise which again they already knew about but hadn’t been fixed.  And there was tea and coffee in the room but it was high up (with the kettle) on a chest of drawers.  Bit of a danger with children playing around below the area.  Plus the tv that was on a pull out metal stand was also above the chest of drawers and kept knocking the stuff on the tray when you pulled the tv out.

The staff were very pleasant and helpful but for a four star hotel it needed some ‘before’ thought not ‘after’ thought.  And they never even bothered to vaccuum the room when they came in to make the beds up.  Considering we were out in the sticks so to speak which in turn would mean messy shoes, you would have thought this would have been a given.

My sister did have to give me the verbal equivalent of a smack around the face to stop me from getting hysterical and upsetting the children, but apart from that . . . .



Where Do I Begin? - Part 3

Friday, July 20th, 2007

So I’d borrowed my husband’s GPS phone thingy (I’m very technical as you can see!) and duly entered in the destination of the hotel.

I’d already decided to travel past Ullswater as I thought it would be a nice little drive.

Yeah, little being the operative word.  It took two flippin hours! (enter your own expletive because I did but I’m just being polite). 

I joke not.  I couldn’t believe it.  My sister travelled in my car with one of my children and mom was behind with my niece with my other two.

Ullswater was beautiful by the way but would have been a lot better without the driving rain and 7 very tired people.  The roads were very up and downy and twisty.  I drive a small family car which wondered what the hell was happening.  

I was climbing these very steep hills and even second gear couldn’t cope.  I’d then shove it into first (much to the car’s disgust), over rev and kangaroo up the hill.

The problem was every time I got it wrong I caused my mom behind (in her four wheel drive) to have to slow down.  Thankfully my sister and I could laugh about it and even tried to make the car drive better by leaning forward in our seats.

I had known before booking the hotel that it was further away than we really wanted, but truly did not realise it would take so long to get there.  And, after all it was the only one I could find that would accommodate our needs.

We stayed at a hotel in a place called Alston (take a look) which is just inside the Lake District.

We got there and it was my turn to feel a little unhappy!


Home Time

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Slight detour from the weekend plans for the time being.  My niece went home today so we bade her a sad farewell at the airport and a safe journey.  Unfortunately she suffers badly from travel sickness, so we’re hoping the wrist bands she bought will give her a comfortable flight.

The five weeks that she has been here have gone remarkably quick.  It seems only like yesterday that we were collecting her from the airport.  My sister is obviously anxious to find out that she has arrived home safely and will be awaiting that call with some relief.

I know she is torn between leaving her mom and nana (and us but more so the former two) and getting back home to her house, her cat and especially her partner (who I have found out has been reading the blog, so hi to you!). 

The four of us girlies went out for a lovely meal last night and because I wasn’t driving snuck in a couple of alcoholic drinkies! 

I thought when we got there that the food looked a little fancy but it was absolutely beautiful. 

It was fresh tasting, looked good on the plate, very filling (always a good one that!) and was cooked to perfection.  Should I share this secret place?  It was called The Punch Bowl at Lapworth.  The menu on the website is not the same as we had last night.

My sister had the special, seared salmon on a bed of new potatoes and broad beans with a gorgeous sauce, mom and I had salmon and haddock fishcakes served on spinach and pine nuts with a fab tomato sauce. My niece had steak.  Oh yes and ours came with hand cut chips.

The puddings were equally as good.  Again, they were different to the menu on the website and were truly wonderful, melt in the mouth, want them again type puds!  And the ice cream which my niece had was out of this world.

Not forgetting the staff who were really helpful and friendly.

We had a real laugh too at the pub taking photos of each other in different combinations, self portraits and even Charlie’s Angels type poses.  So a nice way to end the holiday.

I’m also feeling pretty today!  What!  Not in the hair or face region I have to add.  I painted my toe nails last night and my daughter begged me to paint her finger nails.  So after doing hers I decided to put some on mine.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel really feminine when they’ve got nail varnish on.  I’ve noticed I’m picking things up delicately, typing slowly so I can see the pretty nails in action, opening doors and drawers really carefully and generally being a daft bat!

I even wore a top that matched the nail varnish.  I suppose it’s a good thing that it’s the little things in life that please me. 

I’m sure I’ll get over it.



Where Do I Begin? - Part 2

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

The morning of our journey up to the Lakes started well.  I amazed by family by being on time, which was 6.00 am round at mom’s house.

To be honest I amazed myself.  If you have children you know time keeping can never be an exact science.  But, I am also nothing if not determined and boy was I going to make sure we got round to mom’s on time.

Even better, they weren’t ready because they thought I’d be late - ha ha!!

We set off at 6.15 am and despite having to travel on the M6 which is a pig especially around Birmingham, we made it up to some services near Junction 32 for our first pit stop in really good time.

My plan was to come off at Junction 36 and head over to Windermere and Bowness on Windermere for a look around, which we duly did.

The only down side was that as we got closer it started to rain . . . and rain . . . and rain!  Now if you are a lover of the Lakes like I am (and mom to be fair) you know you can never guarantee the weather and you just put up with it.

However, my sister and her daughter had omitted to tell me that a) where they live, if it rains they never go outside and b) tootling around the shops is not their thing and c) combine a and b together they "ain’t gonna be happy".

Anyway.  We parked by Lake Windermere in Bowness and after walking the dog, had our picnic under the shelter of a wooden seating area and happily shared our food with a family of cygnets who were with their dad.  They were so beautiful. (Awaiting photos from sister’s camera).  Update courtesy of sis (thanks) 21.07.07.

We then had a walk around the town before taking the ferry across Windermere to Hawkshead.  More rain and shopping with afternoon refreshments thrown in.

By this time everyone was starting to get tired from the travel and the children were excited about getting to the hotel.  It was about 3.00 ish and because that was the earliest we could get in, decided to head over.

I knew the hotel wasn’t that close, but to make it interesting had planned a route up along Ullswater to enjoy the scenery instead of getting back on to the motorway for a couple more junctions.   Second BIG mistake . . . . .


Where Do I Begin? - Part 1

Monday, July 16th, 2007

I am to travel planning what Basil Fawlty is to hotel management!

My intention this weekend was to spend some quality time with my sister, her daughter, my mom and my children before my niece goes home this week.  And because it was my idea it was left to me to arrange it.  First BIG mistake!

I love the Lake District and knowing that it was mom’s preferred choice and my sister had never been there, thought hey we’ll go there.

Now, it was last minute booking granted, but my first insight into how the weekend was going to pan out should have been the fact that I had difficulty booking some accommodation for us.

Trying to find somewhere that would take 4 adults, three children and a dog was like trying to find the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  It was an uphill battle!

My problem was - either the hotels wouldn’t accept dogs or they wouldn’t accept children depending on their age.  Or as in the most popular case they couldn’t accommodate two adults and three children in one room.

I had my work cut out.

I eventually found somewhere that had pet friendly rooms and a family room to sleep 5 of us.  Result. Even if it was not close to our favourite places of Windermere or Hawkshead and was a little bit more expensive than other places I had seen, we had somewhere to stay . . . .

Break Time

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Be back on Sunday.  Off to the Lakes for a couple of days.

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