Monday, 25 January 2016

Displacement Activity!

E is currently out having her practical driving test and so, in an attempt to distract myself, I thought I'd upload some of the photos from this last week. 

Remember the little duck with the damaged beak? Well, when I phoned the vet for an update the following day, the receptionist informed me that they had decided that the kindest thing was to put her down - kindest for whom?! As I'd spent the evening before googling ducks with damaged bills and learning that they can indeed be repaired with the resin that dentists use, it came as a bit of a shock. E and I were very upset but R was downright livid. She was so sweet and he felt that she had trusted us to care for her and that we had let her down badly. The last thing that we said as we dropped her off was 'please don't put her down'! She didn't seem to be in any pain and was capable of eating from a cup so we would have been happy to hand feed her until something more permanent could have been be arranged. Sadly, she never had that chance. At least we now know who not to call  if there is a next time. 

There have been a few happier moments this week:
Patchwork stars and a coffee in front of a lit stove:
 Making more of Deliciously Ella's energy balls - L and I can get through these at a fair old rate!
 Flowering tete-a-tetes:
 Sunshine and frost:
 Finally getting around to backing my seasonal primitive stitching. Now I just have to decide where to hang them!
A trip to Oxford. Now that L has graduated, I don't get here very often and found that I was missing it. It's only 25 minutes away, so Thursday saw me beetling up the A34 for a day trip.
The famous Radcliffe Camera - they manage to walk round this several times in each episode of Lewis!
 A view from Magdalen Bridge:
Annie Sloan's shop on the Cowley Road. I went in for a nosy round and nearly bought some paint before deciding that I didn't fancy carrying it round for the rest of the day. I can always get some from the stockist in Hungerford instead.
 Smiling at the sign outside G&D's:
 My little haul for the day. The books were a pound each from the Gloucester Green open market and the green papaya and black cardamoms (which I've searched for for ages) were from an Indian supermarket on  Cowley Road. It's the place in Oxford for ethnic ingredients and charity shops and I love it!
 More daffs of the bigger kind:
 Making a cushion with some of the fabric that E bought me for my birthday:

Here's the finished article in situ:
I'm still debating over whether or not to paint that rocking chair. I think it would look much better as I dislike that orange pine, however the only thing that's stopping me is the smell. Either the wood itself or the varnish has a pleasant, very characteristic smell which transports me straight back to when the girls were babies and being rocked there. I'd hate to lose it by covering it with paint so, for the time being, I'm sticking with the orange.

That's all for this week. E should be back anytime soon and, to be honest, it could have gone either way. I'm keeping everything crossed!

Have a happy week.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Hughenden Manor

Hello there! Yesterday saw me dropping E off at her orchestra practice, dropping L off in Oxford and then driving on to Hughenden Manor near High Wycombe to meet my friend, S, and all before 10am. Hughenden Manor is a National  Trust owned Victorian mansion, once the country house of Benjamin Disraeli and it was BEAUTIFUL! Gorgeous, sun-filled rooms, a fabulous walled garden, a cafe and a second hand book shop set in the old stables - bliss!

'Bugingham Palace'
The man himself. Apparently, his trademark kiss curl (obscured by the hat) was achieved with egg white and sugar!
It was a lovely place to visit and we had a great time. It was, for once, a cold, frosty day - you know, like winter is supposed to be - and we made the most of the weak sunshine by eating our lunch of leek and potato soup outside. I just love a National Trust property!
Other happies this week include:

More of that sunshine at home. I'm determined this year to take a monthly photo of the garden, just to see how it progresses through the year.
Making some yarn pegs as I keep losing the paper wrappers with the colour name on them. I know it doesn't cover a lot of the pegs, but the blanket is still in progress and I didn't want to use too much in case I ran out of yarn!
Spotting the first snowdrops:
L making masala dosa with coconut chutney and lentil sambal from my 'Green Kitchen' recipe book. I do love cooking but sometimes it can feel like a chore and it's always a treat if someone else steps in. It was delicious too!
Enjoying my cinnamon candle:
The first pot of tete-a-tetes this year:
A box of Anchor embroidery threads and hoop, found in a charity shop:
Struggling to do my crochet - I did yoga for the first time in ages this week and my wrist is suffering slightly. It made for painful rippling, so I gave up and made a frothy coffee instead.
Treating myself to a new pair of trainers - they're Skechers and have a memory foam insole which is so comfy that it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything.

Our Sunday morning entailed a mercy dash to the vets. A duck that I didn't recognize came to the kitchen door and when I went to feed her I noticed that she was very thin and had difficulty eating because she had lost most of the top part of her beak. We've no idea what had happened to her. R brought her into the kitchen whilst I phoned the RSPB. They referred me to the RSPCA who referred us to our local vet, so we popped her into one of the chicken carrier boxes and drove round. We were told to leave her for the vet to look at and are now waiting to hear what happens to her. I'm hoping that it doesn't involve putting her down! Does anyone know anything about ducks' bills? Do they regrow? Could they reconstruct it with fibreglass or am I just being naive and hopelessly optimistic? She could just about manage to eat chicken food if it was in a cup, so I'm hoping that they can keep her alive somehow. If I don't hear anything by tomorrow, I'll give them a ring to see what the plan is; I'll keep you updated.

Well, that was my week. I hope yours was fun, with maybe a little flurry of snow or two - none here as yet, but we're nothing if not hopeful!
Toodle pip for now. x

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Where did the last 18 years go?

Greetings! I hope everyone has settled back into their normal routine again after the delights of Christmas and New Year. I have to admit to giving a huge sigh of relief when all the decorations were safely back in the loft, although I do keep discovering more pine needles - they seem to get everywhere!
Sunday saw us braving the weather and driving into London for E's birthday treat. My baby was 18 on Monday - yes, 18!!! I can scarcely believe it; where has the time gone? It only seems like 5 minutes ago that I went into labour a week early and we were desperately going down our list of friends, trying to find someone who was at home, not ill and not still away after New Year celebrations to look after L. At one point it looked like she might have to come with us! Fortunately, all worked out in the end and my baby girl arrived safely in hospital. She was absolutely beautiful, the image of her big sister .... and suddenly, when I wasn't looking, here we are with A levels and uni on the horizon!
Anyway, maudlin aside, the birthday girl had decided that she would like a nice fountain pen for her present. She uses one normally, but it is just a cheap one and it was decided that a better one would make a great present and something to keep (barring accidents or loss) for a lifetime. Hence, our first port of call was here:
The nice man in the 'writing room' (!) was incredibly patient as E deliberated at length over which one to choose. Eventually she narrowed it down to 2 and, after R pointed out that our car was probably about to be clamped, we suddenly had a winner. All I can say is thank goodness for the January sales! It is, however, beautiful, is a perfect keepsake and E is thrilled with it.
Next on the agenda was a trip to the ballet. Early January isn't the best time for theatre trips - lots of places are still in Pantomime mode, so E had decided on this at The Coliseum:
The Nutcracker, along with Peter and the Wolf, was one of the first pieces of music that the girls really listened to, so it seemed appropriate somehow and we really enjoyed it. The Coliseum itself was lovely too.

Finally, we nipped over to Piccadilly and had afternoon tea here:
Sorry, it was a bit dark by this time! Here are a few photos of the inside:
I couldn't resist taking one of the Powder Room!
The Christmas decorations were still out in force:
 A harpist actually played Happy Birthday as a special birthday cake was brought in - E was pleased and embarrassed in equal measure!
A few shots of the tea - we battled manfully through all the sandwiches and cake but, eventually, had to admit defeat and R furtively pocketed some of the scones to fetch home for the chickens! They were greatly appreciated!
Anyway, that was our weekend. Term has now started again and I think an early bit of spring cleaning may be in order - well, someone has got to shift those pine needles!
Toodle Pip for now. x

Friday, 1 January 2016

Nearly there .....

Hello there! Happy 2016 to one and all. Well, here we are, safely on the other side of another Christmas, I hope you all had a good one. It seems ages since my last post, so apologies in advance if this one is a bit on the photo heavy side. Our Christmas was relatively quiet - just the 4 of us. L's boyfriend, J, then joined us from my birthday until just after New Year. A bit of crafting was done, a few Christmas films watched, a few walks taken and a lot of food eaten - I know what one of my resolutions is going to be! 
R had a week off work and actually did a bit more of the bathroom. This is a bit of a long running saga - he ripped out our old bathroom, just as L went to uni. Well, over 3 years and one Law degree later, it's still not finished! To be honest, I don't even notice it anymore, so it's always a bit of a surprise when he does a bit more. Don't get too excited though, we're not there yet and by the time it's all done, the first bits he did will probably need redoing! Hey ho. 
I'm nearly at that point where I can breathe out - I think I've mentioned before that this house sees 4 birthdays plus Christmas and New Year, all within a period of 6 weeks. Well, there's just E's birthday to go and then I can relax. Her birthday is on Monday but R and L are back to work/bar course then, so we're having her birthday trip tomorrow. Then, there's just the day itself and a party to organize and I'll be done for another year.
Anyway, here are a few photos of the festive period:
 Digging out the old eggnog recipe:
Given that R paid for me to join a new gym when my old one closed down, I was only expecting a card for Christmas and my birthday. Lucky me though, I had presents too!
A lovely cinammon candle from E:
New recipe books from L:
They had beetled off to Hobbycraft and there were fat quarters from E and Hamish!
I had wanted to add needle felting to my fifty list but never got round to it, so this was perfect:
And my Christmas present from R was a nutribullet, which makes my breakfast smoothie making  much nicer and so much easier to wash up afterwards!

Our Christmas day walk was our usual one up to see our beloved castle:

For my birthday we were lucky with the weather and went on another winter picnic. The walk starts along the Kennet and Avon canal. I love narrow boats and the smoke coming from this chimney made it seem so cosy:
 Along the towpath:
 The ground was rather wet, so we had our picnic on a convenient bench:
 Then on over the beautiful stone bridge:
 Across the fields:

 Past this fantastic tree house. There was even a spiral wooden staircase leading up to it. I did wonder if it was for children or if a writer used it. Wouldn't that be lovely?
 Saying hello to the alpacas:
 .... and then back home for some of this. I did finish another hat, this time for E, but haven't taken a photo yet.
 Other happies this week:
Watching Fergus hold his own against a young interloper!
My New Year flowers:
 A trip here on the way to dropping J back off at Oxford:

Some aspects were nice as they seemed to be breeding quite happily, and some of the crocs had been rescued from places where they didn't have room for them and the only alternative would have been to put them down. Some of the larger ones, however, didn't seem to have an awful lot of room and it was all a bit guilt inducing.
Then we stopped for a pub lunch here: The Boot Inn in Oxfordshire:
Various people had been persuaded to donate a shoe and a bit of information about it. There were shoes from celebrities, sportsmen, politicians etc. We sat by this one:
There wasn't a huge choice of veggie stuff and it was a tad expensive but very nice. I had a red pepper crepe with  ricotta, avocado and pesto:
R and I then shared a ginger and lemon steamed pudding with creme anglais - sorry, we had started it before I remembered to take a photo!
So, that's been our festive period so far. If you managed to make it to the end - tick v.g. and have a gold star! Today I'm planning to take down the Christmas decorations - I like to have them down by E's birthday and, as we're in London tomorrow, today's the day - I can't wait!
Enjoy the weekend.
Toodle pip for now. x