Friday 30 April 2010

Gallery: Secret Hastings

It's time to get thinking caps on for Tara's Gallery she wants us to show the secret places where we live. So here's a few snaps of Hastings and local area:

Thursday 29 April 2010

Goodbye grandpa

My dad rang me at 7:30 this morning to say that my grandad had died in the night. This wasn't an unexpected piece of news as he was very frail and had reached the age of 94 which even these days is above average. It was still a very sad thing to be told and I had to break the news to my children. Luckily at 6 & 3 its mostly gone over their heads but I'm sure it will hit them eventually. I've gone through today in a bit of a strange haze with occasional tears but having to carry on as normal for the children.

In honour of his 94 years on this planet I thought I would explore some of the things that made him special...

 grandpa 2nd from left

The son of Welsh headmaster and a Lancastrian mother he was born in Lancashire during the First World War. The middle son of a family of 5 he grew up in a time of change and took part in the first ever Scout Jamboree.

 uniform has changed a bit!

On leaving school he joined the local bank, in the days when banking was a respected profession! I find it hard to imagine him as a young man shining up the gas lamps in the street to light his cigarette... 

He fell in love with a young hairdresser called Margaret:

and they married in 1939 just after the outbreak of World War 2.

Due to a combination of medical history and banking background Walter served in the Pay Corps in the UK. At one point he took a demotion so he could be posted near his expanding family after the birth of the first of 3 sons.

After the war he worked very hard to get the necessary qualifications to eventually become manager of a bank. His sons grew up and left home and he took early retirement to his weekend cottage in Dumfries & Galloway. This would be a place of happy memories for his grandchildren to come and visit.

© Copyright Ann Cook and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence

Most of his siblings had emigrated to South Africa or Rhodesia and, once he retired, many trips were made to visit them and the nieces and nephews who lived out there. 

In latter years he moved to a slightly less remote village in Cumbria and then to Penrith before ending his days in Appleby-in-Westmorland.

I will always remember him for his enjoyment of the Telegraph crossword - he could do it without writing in the answers so my other granny could share the paper! He loved writing letters to us all and was enthusiastic about the research I was conducting for the family tree. Lots of family members had their only correspondence through him so I hope we can keep in touch.

I am glad my children got to meet him and hope they can remember him later.

So I hope this post was coherent as I've raised a glass or 2 of wine to his memory.

RIP Walter Spencer-Jones 2nd October 1915 > 29th April 2010

Son of Owen & Hannah
Brother of Llew, Olwyn, Arnold & Norah
Husband of Margaret
Father of Owen, Peter & Nigel
Father-in-law of Marlene, Alison & Helen
Grandfather of Mike, Becky, Vicky, Roger, Christopher, Martin & Ros
Great-grandfather of Al, Elisabeth, Ben, Oliver, Toby, Edward & Sebastian
Step Great-grandfather of Chris, Ed & Lauren
Friend to many
Missed by us all

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Portrait Gallery

Time for Tara's portrait theme for the Gallery this week...

me at Christmas - can't quite manage the coiffure myself!!

Monday 26 April 2010

It's hard at the weekend

not that it's easy during the week but single parenting at the weekend is a whole new level..

It seems that everywhere you go when you are out that everyone else is in nice little family units of mum & dad plus kids - this may not be the case but it looks that way! From Monday to Friday the things I do tend to be just mum's or the occasional dad or grandparent. Compact family units don't do school runs or toddler groups on the whole...

My kids have to cope with each other's company for 12 hours solid. They can go for about an hour of playing nicely together and then one or other of the upsets the other. We end up with shouting & fighting and usually someone needing a cold compress. I can leave them playing together but as soon as I pop to the loo or go to get a meal ready WW3 breaks out in the other room.

If I try and take turns at giving each of them some undivided mummy time the 3 year old doesn't get the fact that his big sister is allowed to have mummy to herself for a few minutes each day. So it ends up with her only getting me to herself after he has supposedly gone to bed - and even then he keeps coming back for more.

When we go out for a treat its a real minefield. I can't trust them to be left on their own at a table whilst I go and order drinks etc., if one needs the loo we all have to go. Yesterday I finally caved in to little ones request to go on the dodgems. This meant I have to leave a screaming 6 year old watching from the side as neither child is tall enough to go on without a grown up. Needless to say we won't be repeating that one! They each have to take turns watching the other one do something whilst I hold their hand. This is when their age gap stands out more as they want to do different things.

If another grown up is around it is so much easier as we can divide and conquer. I can catch 15 minutes of me time to draw breath. I can also let my poor 6 year old have time with me without her little brother butting in and causing chaos.

We do have fun and I love spending time with my kids but I look forward to weekdays when I don't have them both all day and it's much more relaxing. Here's hoping that the Incredible Years parenting course I've started will help both me & the kids learn to have fun with out all the aggro!

See we do have fun together!

It isn't all bad but I wish it was a lot less stressful...

Friday 23 April 2010

Kindness of a stranger

One of Josie's Writing Workshop prompts this week is to blog about a random act of kindness that we have either received or given and this brought back memories for me...

It was mid September last year and just over a month since my husband had left home for his new girlfriend. Things were so new I was trying to carry on as normal. 

I had made a booking for a book stall at a dog show weekend at the Hop Farm months before and couldn't afford to lose the money. So for 2 days on the trot I had to get both my kids up at 6 AM to drive to the venue and set-up. At least on the second day my mate Sarah was helping out. The days were very long and the profit was not very high so I was feeling very down. At least the kids had had fun seeing all the dogs and looking around but it really hadn't been worth the effort. 

As it was fairly late in the day that we finished each day we had tea at the Little Chef on the way home. On the second night the manager remembered us and is it was very quiet stopped for a chat. I told him what a crap weekend I'd had and he told me that his restaurant was in danger of closure as the company was only leasing the land. 

The kids and I ate our dinner and the manager came back over. He told us that a man had paid for our dinner as he overheard the conversation. I nearly burst into tears. The manager said he had never had anyone do that before! This is something that happens in stories and not to real people...

Thursday 22 April 2010

What's in the bag...

The delightful Super Single Mummy has challenged me to a meme about checking out the contents of my handbag.... this could be dangerous but I will rise to the challenge!! 

funny mark in front was from an orange resting against it :-(

Front pocket:

2-4-1 vouchers from WH Smith for UK attractions
son's pocket money purse
daughter's pocket money pot
children's savings accounts books
children's WHSmith Xmas tokens
children's M&S Xmas tokens
my Sainsbury's Xmas token cover but not token
daughter's Argos gift card
son's Argos gift card cover but no token
several old till receipts
3 out of date money off vouchers for Sainsbury
2 chocolate lollipops
a 1967 One Penny piece

side pocket one:

Anti-bacterial hand gel
lollipop wrapper
a few beads from the necklace my daughter threw out of my bedroom window

side pocket two:

my knackered iPhone
some beans from my aunt's garden that were left over from last year and my daughter picked off the bush at Easter!

back pocket:

plastic bag that had covered my daughter's rulers ruler from Brougham Castle

Main part:

Healthy Start voucher letter
spare pair son's socks
empty envelope my Sainsbury gift token was in
Active Kids vouchers
spare pair son's trousers
Costa Coffee Club card
Sat Nav
another spare pair son's socks
online banking card reader
packets of sugar from a coffee shop
a klippit bag clip
a drumstick lolly
pony in my pocket
mini bank statement
sweetie wrappers

Phew that's it!! good excuse for a clear out... anyone spot what is missing from my hand bag??

OK so let's see what's lurking inside the bags of BumblingTweets and VioletPosy

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Preparing to move on

Up until I fell like I've been treading water or even sometimes going backwards as far as being able to move on from the break of my marriage. I am in that limbo situation of being stuck in the old family home surrounded by the accumulated stuff from a family of 7 and finding it impossible to sort it out.

Now with help from my parents, in-laws and good friends I have started to see a difference around the house. Some of the things that are no longer needed have been either sold, given away or thrown out. A few of the things that we do want in the future are already boxed up and some are being stored in my parents' garage. Rooms are beginning to look clearer though to a newcomer its still chaotic. I have a plan of action as to what needs to go done next. It's like one of those puzzles that you have to do in the right order!

I have also got verbal agreement on a house to rent near my parents. It is a lovely little place with just the right amount of space for a family of 3 plus hamster. It was initially going to be let furnished but she has very kindly agreed to remove her furniture so I can bring some of mine. The house is in a cul-de-sac so the kids will be able to play safely outside on their bikes. A huge field behind the house has public access and it is adjacent to a playground. All in all a lovely place to bring up young kids. The current plan is to move in on the 1st of August so the kids will be on holiday from school.

I was hoping to get my daughter into the school less than 15 minutes walk away but it is full. So instead I will be driving her out 5 miles to a village school which is twice the size of her current school but still only 150 pupils. She seemed really taken with it when she saw it. My son has a place reserved at a fantastic council nursery school which he is referring to as his "writing school".

We are all so excited about the move as are the rest of my family that are already up there. It is going to be a whole new chapter in our lives and help us all to move on.

I also heard today that there has finally been progress in the divorce and the court has issued some papers to my husband. Hopefully this means that by next month the Nisi will be through. I just want it all done & dusted so I can start again.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

The Grumps

I have been tagged by the wonderful Gappy for the new meme from Very Bored in Catalunya about the 7 things that have really got your goat this week...

So here we go:

  1. The idiot lorry driver on the M6 last Friday who wouldn't let me back onto the motorway from the Hilton Park Services and deliberately sped up to close the gap! The traffic was almost stationary at this point with it being Friday lunch time. It was totally unnecessary and rather scary. One minute later I overtook him and ended up getting to the M5 ahead of him...
  2. My building society - or at least one not very competent telephone clerk... I used my debit card to purchase my replacement iPhone online and this got flagged as potential fraud. So the building society disabled the use of my card online and posted me a letter. Unfortunately I was on holiday and only got the letter 5 days later when I got home. The next morning I rang and proved it was my transaction and was told my card was OK again. So I happily used my card for new tyres and some shopping. Then I tried to use it for an online transaction and was declined... 20 minutes of phone call later and it turns out clerk #1 hadn't clicked the right option..
  3. My dearest darling son for doing a poo on my mate's brand new spare room carpet... this was despite me putting him on the loo to do his business. I am sure he will crack it eventually or it might just crack me..
  4. Both my kids for driving me up the wall with their fighting, especially when put in the back row of my mate's car on Saturday.. her daughters were shocked into silence by the way #2 pulled out #1's hair..
  5. My BT Vision Box that won't boot up properly since I got back from holiday. It was all moved around before we went away and worked fine. Since we got back nothing....
  6. Government policy requiring a HIP before you can market your house. Makes it too darned expensive for me to get one when you can't guarantee that you'll make a profit.
  7. The price of fuel for my car going up - again! Why don't they lower the tax and pass on the wholesale price cuts....

Handing over the grump baton to:

NIckie at Typecast
Julie at the Sardine Tin
MissSearles as it's her birthday!!

Secret Post Club: April 2010

It's that wonderful time of the month when the Secret Post Club Parcels start arriving across the world!

This time mine has come from the lovely Clair at Kids Craft and Chaos:

Thanks to her checking out my other book club blog she knew I loved books and so has sent me two books that she enjoyed reading herself. Plus a yummy little packet of chocs to enjoy whilst reading them and and a Wee Free Men badge to wear too. 

As I have 1) boxed up most of my books in preparation for moving and 2) borrowed a selection of Discworld novels from my dad this was a very thoughtful gift. The chocolates are vanishing rapidly and I look forward to snuggle up in bed with a great bit of chick lit..

Monday 19 April 2010

The Gallery: 7 Deadly Sins

Tara at Sticky Fingers is at it again and as I was late with week 7 my next post is week 8 already.... So here are photos from my collection which I can use to sum up the 7 deadly sins:






Envy (as he still fits his navy uniform 20 years on!)


Thursday 15 April 2010

The Gallery: Joy

Time to enter this week's Gallery from Sticky Fingers

The joy of speed:

The joy of cake:

The joy of snow:

Photo Meme

I have been tagged in a photo meme by Mocha Beanie Mummy.

I have seen a few super blogs on this meme and wondered when it would be my turn! Also worried as I scanned lots of old family photos in a couple of years ago for my granny's 90th and typically that's the oldest photo album on here...

So here are the rules:

1 . Open the first/oldest photo folder in your computer library
2. Scroll to the 10th photo
3. Post the photo and the story behind it
4. Tag 5 or more people to continue the thread.

So here is the semi embarrassing 1970s photo of me, my big brother and my granny:

We used to stay in a remote cottage at the Isle of Whithorn with my grandparents every summer. Lots of fun beachcombing, exploring and an outdoor life. At the time this photo was taken my brother was 8 and I was 6 1/2 so we were both blooming tall already as my granny was 5ft 2!

So now its over to:

Thursday 8 April 2010

April meme: All About Springtime

My big girl E has been tagged in a Springtime Meme by A Mother's Ramblings who was tagged by the founder Ready for Ten. All the meme's are being McLinky'd on that site.

Here is the raison d'etre of the meme as written by Ready for Ten:

We've spent a lot of time exploring the mummy blogosphere and one of the things we like most is the way parent bloggers work together on memes. We think it's a great way to include people and show other bloggers some love, and of course, the content can be rather sweet. 
This month, we'd like to interview kids on the subject of spring. While Ready for Ten is primarily targeted at parents of 6-9 year olds, there are no age guidelines on the meme -- all parents are invited to interview kids of any age. This is a fun (we hope!) activity about community and inclusion, and we want everyone to feel welcome.
We've come up with six questions that we hope will be interesting to kids and excite them about how the world changes in spring, and the things they can do outside. Here they are, but feel free to use these as a starting point and get as creative as you like with your interviews:
1. How does the world change in the spring?
2. Lots of babies are born in the spring. Where do you think baby animals are born?
3. What did mummy do before you were born?
4. Spring is a good time to play outside. If you and mummy could spend a whole day playing outside, doing anything you want, what would it be?
5. Did you know we moved the clocks forward onto British Summer Time? Why do you think we do this?
6. How long is it until summer?

I asked my 6 year old daughter E these questions this afternoon and this is what she came up with:

1) Flowers are growing – its getting warmer

2) a safe, warm place (copied from Beginners Cat book!)

3) went to school, liked to eat food

4) riding my bike in the park & having a picnic

5) y e s – no idea – coz its summer time

6) 10 weeks (after a lot of thinking!)

I will see what my 3 year old says tomorrow but in the meantime over to:

Onion son of @Muppetelle

Al son of VickyMcD

Expecting a triple whammy from Paula

And the little Sardines in the Sardine Tin

And the reluctant interviewees at Gappy Tales