Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas ready

I think a very interesting insight that has come out of social media, is when people put up their Christmas trees. Now I know there is no right or wrong time but it is quite revealing how very different people are. Now I personally go for about two weeks before Christmas, depends slightly on where the weekend falls, as it's normally Sophie and I who put it up. A family friend  recently commented on Facebook that we were too early and there had to be a '2' in front, so the 20th onwards, far too late for me but it does illustrate how we all have our way of 'doing' Christmas and it differs greatly. Trees up in November is too early for me, even early December, I guess I would go for any time around the 10th...... 

....this weekend then!
Our tree is now up, the house cleaned from top to bottom in readiness.

We have the main tree up in the kitchen as it's the room we spend the most time in together, although you have to be careful not to put chocolaty gifts under this tree because of the under floor heating!

In the sitting room we have a smaller tree - we bought this one in Ikea last year - perfect size for in here. We have plenty of additional lights in here too, so it does feel Christmassy.

Perfect sofa spot - tree, lights, Bailey's, Christmas movie.....

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Scouting for girls!!!!

Had the best night last night, at the O2 in Bristol watching Scouting for Girls - they are so good live! We saw them 2 years ago in Cardiff and loved it but they were even better (if that's possible) last night. Surrounded by 18yr olds, my 47 years evaporated and I felt like I was 20 all over again! I just love live music and the older I get, it's definitely night's out like these that make life worth living.

Spending time with this one was a treat too, especially on a school night. It's probably the one band that we both love equally and enjoy, although I am slowly turning him into a secret Take That fan!!

Bristol was looking very festive - a great night out. Must plan a few more outings, life is there to be enjoyed, although I am verrrrry tired this morning!!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

It's beginning.... feel a lot like Christmas.

I had a day off yesterday and spent the morning food shopping and baking and in the afternoon, I started writing my Christmas cards, I'm halfway through at a guess. I must confess I'm trying to send less this year but there's still a good 70+ on the list!

Today Sophie and I were up early Frome bound, for the monthly Independent Market. It's held on the first Sunday of every month between March - December. Sadly I think it's become a victim of it's own success and was just far too busy this year. It sadly didn't have the same lovely Christmassy atmosphere of previous years (we've been going since 2013), trying too hard to be cool and poor Sophie, there were 100's of dogs 'everywhere' which wasn't great for someone with a genuine fear of them, particularly as it was so busy, so nowhere to hide.

The quieter, less busy bit, is the flea market area. I was very good and just looked, no buying! It was nice to see a few friendly faces in amongst the crowds and we bumped into Jeff's Uncle (waves! I know he reads this) for a catch up, which was lovely.

I love Frome and the market is great for bringing people and business into the town but it really was too busy this year to enjoy it and we were there super early too, in an attempt to beat the crowds. I did manage to capture this shot of Bramble and Wild, one of the lovely independent shops you can find in Frome, before the madness built up, I'll have to return on a normal week day when it'll be quieter.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Pinch and a punch......

....hello December.

Not gonna lie, so happy it's December - from December the 1st, I'm allowed to get christmassy. We won't put our tree up until next weekend, generally 2 weeks before Christmas but I start to 'drip out' the odd bit from now on.

The advent bits are ready - a paper calendar to share and Sophie and Sam have a Hotel Chocolat one this year to open in turns, plus the chocolate tin is out!!! It's basically a mix of Hero's, Celebrations, Quality Street and Roses, all mixed up and the tin gets refreshed 'once' when empty but then when they're gone, they're gone! Christmas tunes are officially now allowed to be played, Christmas films can be watched, Christmas candles can be lit.....

....and the coffee mugs can be filled!

Oh! And the wreath is up on the door!

Here's to a fabulous and festive December xx

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


....for my absence!

I was a little poorly last week when I usually write up a quick update - a touch of labyrinthitis which knocked me for six. Never had it before and never want it again! Was fine, went into the under eaves cupboard to hide some Christmas bits, stood up and my world started spinning, was horribly sick and spent two days sleeping and trying to recover!

Thankfully I feel fine now, enough to enjoy my planned couple of days off work. I had a great day yesterday over in Bath doing some Christmas shopping and mooching around the Christmas Markets.

It wasn't manically busy, which was nice and I ticked off most of my Christmas shopping list too - feeling a little more organised now!!

Instead of going straight home, I met up with my sister and we headed over to Bristol for a night out. Ages ago we got tickets to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, formally known as the Beautiful South/Housemartins. It was a great night, fab music and a great opportunity to ....

.....spend some quality time with my big sis!!
We must do it again soon Jo xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Another year older, time to reflect a little....

Facebook threw up this 'memory' in my time line yesterday morning... 

Every year I ran a discount code, to celebrate my birthday and I did smile to myself, because this year, the first birthday in a long time, I don't have to generate sales, I don't have to stress about orders - either too many or worry about too few! I don't have to race over to the unit, do the post run etc which was always particularly difficult at this time of year with the local Carnival season in full swing (it's a big deal here in Somerset!!), with roads closed and diversions in place. 

Instead, I enjoyed a full day off work, had a lovely breakfast date with a friend, then mooched around Wells, followed by a quiet afternoon at home, before a family tea, all stress free! The kids even made me a cake and bought me flowers the day before, whilst I was out of the way at work! 

Closing the business was a big decision but most definitely the right one - I don't miss it at all. A friend very rightly said that 'knowing when to close, would be the hardest decision to make' and I certainly had enough stock to have kept going for a lot longer but I no longer had any passion or enthusiasm for it all. So closing was hard because I didn't want to feel that I had failed or I guess I didn't want other people to think I had failed but in reality, it was most definitely the right time to go! 

I think not knowing what I was going to do next was a little risky but I was dipping my toe back into the school environment with supply teaching and exam invigilation. But it quickly became clear that the juggle was difficult, when you have to consider the needs of the kids, plus home life and Jeff's 'full on' job too in the mix, I quickly realised I couldn't commit to full on teaching again and do everything else too. So I applied for a job at my local Sainsbury's store...

I have just completed my 11 week review at Sainsbury's - happy to say I got a glowing report and will be staying on but I guess when I started, I was a little embarrassed to admit I'd gone from running my own business, teaching even, to working as a 'checkout girl' in Sainsbury's. But do you know what? I love it. The job is perfect. I get set hours and the staff are all lovely, helpful and flexible if something does crop up. I know exactly what I'm doing and when I'm doing it, so can plan family life/work etc I get paid to effectively 'people watch' - it really is the 'best' place to do this. I get to meet people, chat to people, help people, see new food ideas/products and I really enjoy it. I get a set wage in my bank account every 4 weeks, no hidden extras and no uncertainties and I can work overtime if I choose to. For now, for our family circumstances, it's working out just fine.

I think I'm a nicer person to be around. I'm not stressed, I'm not rushing around always trying to keep up, I don't need to constantly be answering emails, enquiries etc and placating people, who generally wanted something for nothing. I have a little spare money to treat us all with, rather than having to play safe with the cash, in case of any business financial uncertainties.

This Christmas I will be working Christmas Eve but I'm told it's fun and a great atmosphere and it'll only be until 4pm, as it's a Sunday! I won't be stressing about sale orders 'pinging' in all over Christmas, as NOTHS started their sale on the 23rd of December!!! and then subsequently worrying about when I'll get them picked and packed. Instead I can relax and enjoy my time with the family. If my birthday this year, is a good marker of the way things are going to be from now on, then I'm glad to have arrived at this point. Yes I will work set hours, yes it will not be the best timing sometimes but generally, we can enjoy more quality time together, knowing finances are secure and I'm one less stressed out individual! 

It's 3 years until the big 50! That same year, Sophie will turn 21, Sam 18 and Jeff and I will celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss!!! That's a lot to celebrate, so best start saving up xx

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Back to reality!

After all the birthday celebrations last weekend, this week has just been a normal week - work, overtime, school etc. 
Sam had a Sixth Form Open Evening - not sure how my 'baby' is at the point of choosing where to study A Levels and which subjects to choose! Maths, Physics, Chemistry and possibly Computer Science, depending on where he decides to go. There is of course the small matter of GCSE's to get through first, having just completed his mocks he's had a 'week off' from doing homework but after the mock results, we'll have to work out a realistic revision 'way forward'. Love Sam to bits but he would do absolutely no work at all, if left to his own devices. Would be tempted to just leave him to get on with it himself as he has to learn but these exams are important and be can't fail, so we have to work with him and encourage some revision now, even if the exams seem like ages away. Boys are so different to girls in my experience or to risk stereotyping, should it be that Sam is so different to Sophie!?! 

Have a good weekend x

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Happy18th Sophie xx

So today we celebrate Sophie's 18th Birthday!
I know it's said often but I really don't know where those years have gone. It doesn't seem five minutes ago that we were bringing her home from the hospital, a much longed for and loved bundle of gorgeousness.

She was born at 16:31pm, weighing in at 6lbs 2oz, with a head of dark hair. 
At 6 weeks old, over the Millennium celebrations, she was seriously ill, spending a week in hospital with bronchial pneumonia and a respiratory virus (RSV) and I'm not really sure how close we came to losing her, certainly isn't something I like to think about.

I started to look through the photo albums for pictures to share but there were 1000's  to choose from. The common theme throughout though, was the smile. Always being busy, always full on and always smiling.
For some reason I've been a little emotional, I guess it's now a time when they are so very nearly ready to fly the nest and venture into the world on their own. You reflect on the job you have done as a parent and question whether or not you have prepared them fully for all that lies ahead.

I am super proud of the girl/woman, Sophie has become!!!

She is such a bright, focused, hard working, smiley, fair and kind individual and I wish her a lifetime of love, laughter and happiness to come. I hope she fulfils all her dreams and aspirations and enjoys every bit of the adventure along the way. She's received all her University offers from the full five she applied to, so now has to put in the hard work to achieve her dreams. It'll be a big ask but she seems quite determined and where there's a will, there's a way.

I've tried to make it a birthday she'll remember, with our trip to London, a tablet/computer 'thing' she wanted, a fabulous cake, a meal with friends in a couple of weeks time (joint celebration with a friend) and a family meal out to ASK Italian (her choice)

 ....with celebratory cocktails to mark the occasion.
 Who doesn't love an 'Italian Twinkle'?


The Cake!!!

So somehow I now am the 'proud Mum' of an 18 year old!!!
Will do a proper blog post about that in a bit but thought the birthday cake was worthy of it's own post. You see I like cooking, not necessarily baking and all the faff that goes with it, so I'm pretty proud of the cake I created for Sophie's 18th birthday celebrations.

Good old Delia Smith 'All in one' sponge recipe, never fails.....

an assortment of bits I've been squirrelling away for a few weeks....

.....and chaos! 
Anyone else create as much mess as me, when decorating cakes?

This was the sneaky peek I revealed, as I didn't want Sophie to see it on Instagram, before she saw the actual cake in all it's glory!

Taaaaa Daaaaaa ... the finished cake...

.....and all lit up for the big event x

Jeff doing his fatherly duties and colour coordinating with his choice of tie, just perfectly x

Make a wish.....

and enjoy xxx


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Bit of a long one......

....well lots of pics

Yesterday Sophie and and I awoke to the 6 o'clock alarm, drove over to Castle Cary train station and caught the7:27 to London Paddington. An early 18th birthday treat day, as I wanted her to have something to remember. (Actual birthday isn't until Nov the 4th)

We started off with something on my wish list, a visit to one of Deliciously Ella's Deli's. Sadly it didn't live up to all my expectations but it was good to scratch the itch, so to speak but we won't be going back.

We left and hit Oxford Street, primarily to see the Christmas decorations up and ready and visit the Christmas departments in John Lewis and....


They really never disappoint, gorgeous lights, displays and decorations.

We then got the tube to Spitalfields and had a mooch,

some lunch and planned our next move.

A short tube ride to St Paul's Cathedral...

a walk past the Bank of England....

to the Walkie-Talkie Building and home to....

to the Sky Garden.

This was the highlight of the day. - you have to book tickets in advance but they are free and you get to spend an hour, 35 floors up, at the top of this building, in the most incredible space.

The views across the whole of the city are just breathtaking and we were so blessed with the weather. It wasn't too busy either, in that you could easily get a space to view.

This was the outside viewing deck from the one side....

...overlooking the Shard.

St Paul's, the BT Tower and Wembley in the top right corner.

Looking out towards Canary Wharf in this one, a place Sophie would love to work in, one day. 

It was fantastic, certainly a place to return to and maybe enjoy a cocktail next time, 
when she is officially 18!

We then walked about 4 miles, all the way from the Sky Garden, over London Bridge, all along the South side of the river Thames,

past the London Eye....

....with great views of Big Ben (complete with scaffolding) and the House of Parliament, where we crossed over the river, past Westminster, 

along Birdcage Walk, with every intention of going to Buckingham Palace but we were just too tired, so got the tube from St James Park back to Paddington.

We had the best day, fantastic weather, and definitely a day we will both remember. I don't think I fully appreciated her ambitions and dreams to live and work in London one day, until today and I loved listening to all her aspirations, dreams and wishes for the future. Who knows, and there is absolutely no reason why not, that some of the those hopes and dreams will become a reality one day xx