A Catch Up

I am sitting writing this (and hoping it will save as I have no wi-fi) in the car in the middle of a field near Sandwich in Kent. I realise this seems a little strange, but I can explain. Mini Mister fell asleep during our drive out here, and since his routine is totally out, any time he actually naps at the moment is a blessing. Hubby had to sit in the car with him yesterday, so it is my turn today. At least I have all the windows open and there is a lovely strong breeze blowing through to keep us cool. It has been rather too warm the last few days for me (and the children, to be honest, as it makes them more crotchet than usual). As for the where, well, the picture shows my current view, Richborough Fort.

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Richborough through the windscreen

We last came here when Maxi was a baby (and bumped into the then Archbishop of Canterbury in the shop/exhibition), so decided a return visit was needed. It is a huge open area, with loads of Roman ruins and plenty of space for the kids to run around. Since we are staying near my Dad’s place (and my middle sister and her family are staying with Dad) we have 4 smalls between us to entertain. This should keep them occupied for a bit (well except Mini, as previously mentioned). Richborough was the site of a huge port until the area silted up. The coast is now further away and the fort has fallen into ruins. But the remains of the Saxon walls are impressive (the Saxons used the remains of the Romans fort to build their walls).

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Spot the child – Maxi in front of one of the walls at Richborough (picture courtesy of Hubby)

So, a catch-up. Yet again, I have not been writing my blog as often as I should. But it is the summer holidays and we have been quite busy. I have worked my way through some of my sewing projects whilst Mini has been at Nursery and Maxi has been either at football camp, Playscheme or his grandparents’ place in Suffolk. Some housework and clearing out has taken place, but I still have loads to do. I have attempted some baking and making, but since I am following Slimming World, I haven’t tried that many cakes and biscuits. I have, however, discovered that quark is quite good for mousses, learnt how to use powdered and leaf gelatine, rediscovered how many different kinds of dishes can be made with 0% fat Greek yogurt (sweet and savoury), and eaten my bodyweight in fruit and veg! Some experiments didn’t work well and need tweaking, some we never want to eat again, but mostly they have been successes. I do get through an awful lot of fat-free yogurt though!

Summer visits with the kids have included soft play in various places, the beach in Southwold, a few castles (we are planning on another this afternoon, and yet another tomorrow), RSPB MinsmereThames Chase Forest CentreThameside Nature Park (Essex Wildlife Trust), a railway exhibition, the East Anglian Transport Museum in Carlton Colville, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway (all the way out to the power station at Dungeness), the Sealife Adventure in Southend, and a theatre trip with Maxi only to London to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and hunting Dream Jars near the theatre. We have read a lot, done lots of crafty things, been paddling in pools and the sea, got muddy, got very tired, caught the sun, poured sand out of clothes and shoes, got through a lot of suncream, and had a lot of fun. Me and hubby even managed to get a night away to go to Birmingham so I could go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC (so much creativity in one place was truly inspiring – and I now have even more projects lined up…).

Anyway, I think I will wrap it up there for the moment, and go back to sewing hexies. Mini is still asleep, so the above image may be my only view of Richborough today 😊

‘Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud’ or ‘The 3 Foot Festival’

Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. But we did end up covered in mud (feet and legs) and got through an awful lot of baby wipes 😊

I took Mini Mister to the 3 Foot People Festival at Hylands House in Chelmsford yesterday. I always wanted to take Maxi, but was always at work when it was on and now he is too old. So I have taken the opportunity of the hiatus in work to go with Mini. And we loved it! He tried out loads of things and spent most of the day running around a muddy, straw-covered field. Except when he was in the sandpit.  What toddler wouldn’t love that?

For those who have absolutely no clue what I am talking about, the 3 Foot People Festival is a 3-day event in Chelmsford where only little people under the age of 6 and their carers are allowed to go. There are all sorts of activities, and thousands of people go. In fact, I had to spend ages on the Internet when the tickets went on sale, refreshing the browser, just to try to get onto the ticket page. All 14000 tickets sold out within 48 hours this year, I think! Check out here or here if you want to find out more.

Anyway, we had a good day and the weather held. Fingers crossed for today and tomorrow as it is due to rain again today and the ground is already saturated. I hope everyone is prepared!

Actually, that brings me to Things I Would Do Differently Next Year:

1. Wear, or at least take, wellies. We were warned about footwear, but I decided that sandals would be cooler for me and easier to dry off. They are still drying today! I think Mini may have struggled in his this year, and at least I can brush the mud off his trainers (I hope). I think I will get some of those cropped wellies for me. Not so sticky and hot as full wellies. But at least I won’t need to scrub my feet like I did last night.

2. Take a waterproof-backed picnic blanket. Or any, but waterproof would be best given the dampness this year. It would have given us a wider range of seating choices. And I think Mini’s skin may have had a brief reaction to the straw in the bales we sat on having our ice creams. Mind you, we would need to be careful where we put it down; I had to virtually paddle across one part of the field to get to the baby change tent. Yuck!

3. Take hubby. We managed, just the 2 of us, but with a lively toddler an extra person would have come in handy. One of us could have queued for things (like the land train or the refreshments providers) while the other occupied Mini. I am so proud of him for how well he coped though, especially with the entrance and train queues. 

4. Get there early enough to scout out the site first. There was a map, but it didn’t totally match up to what was there (and the tents did not always match their little pictures), so it was a bit confusing until we had been round a couple of times. If there had been 2 of us, one could have scouted whilst the other occupied Mini with snack time.

5. As for getting there earlier, I need to go to Weigh-In on Monday evening instead of my usual Tuesday morning, so that we can get up to Chelmsford at least an hour earlier than I did. To be fair, we were warned about the queues, and they were partly so long (to get into the carpark and then to walk into the Festival area) because the organisers were trying to get loads more straw down to try to combat the sogginess of the ground. They did their best, but the usual British weather had had its say as per usual!

Other than that, I don’t think I would change anything. The food choices were excellent (if you don’t have a total fusspot like Mini), there were plenty of loos, and, importantly, there was plenty of space. It never felt crowded. Mini had a go at 2 different dance sessions, various musical and languages based toddler classes, got his finger chewed by a duck, saw a snake (but didn’t want to touch it), played in a giant sandpit, decorated a crown, had a ride on a train, had his first ’99’, with a flake (!), and fell asleep in the car on the way home.

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Can’t wait for next year! 😊

Makes and Ends

Yet again I have had a huge gap in my blogging. I have done things, and I have come up with loads of ideas for posts, but just not got round to finishing them. But since it is half term, I have had a good Bank Holiday weekend at Dad’s, and I am shattered from organising the house (looonnng way to go yet), I have been baking and sewing. Because, of course, that is what you do when you are so tired, you seriously contemplate using matchsticks to keep your eyes open πŸ˜€

This evening’s offering is a Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake, recipe courtesy of The Pink Whisk. I originally planned to make this last week, and even got as far as measuring out the butter, but never did anything else. Anyway, it was an easy, basic sponge cake recipe, with a bit of flavouring, a bit of swirling, and then a bake. It looks like the original and tastes lovely. Will definitely be making this again.

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Chocolate and Coffee Marble Loaf Cake

I made cheese on toast for Maxi Mister earlier as well, but that doesn’t really count as baking. He is quite easy to make meals for as he eats most things, although does go through random spates of hating things (one time it was only melted cheese, then only orange cheese, then only grated cheese, then no cheese – argghhhhhhhhh!). Mini Mister is harder to cater for as he doesn’t want to eat anything he hasn’t specifically decided is OK for any particular day. And that changes hourly, let alone daily. Yes, it is his age, but who doesn’t like chips???!!! At least he tends to eat well at Nursery. We did discover yesterday that he seems to like cheese toasted inside a tortilla (had lunch at Chimichanga in Canterbury), but, of course, if I try giving it to him, he will probably reject it (“No more” is the death knell for an awful lot of meals at the moment).

On Monday I made a beef pie with the remains of the roast beef and gravy from Sunday lunch that Dad had cooked. It was nice, but both Hubby and I thought it would have been improved by the addition of an onion and some mushrooms. With Mini and Maxi being fussy about both (OK, they won’t eat them!) I didn’t even suggest adding them. I did, however, decide to cheer up the top and make it obvious what had been made for lunch:

Pie

Pie!

 

Over the weekend I have also been sewing. Since I have done so many hexies now, but haven’t started sewing them together, I decided to have a go at a mini project which I could aim to finish soon – a Flower Garden Pincushion . I got the kit from Sew & Quilt when I ordered my latest lot of hexie blanks. I also ordered some of the Tulip Hiroshima piecing needles that Jessie sells, just to see how I found them compared to my usualΒ John James quilting needles. Jessie has also been really helpful asnwering a load of questions I had about thread, despite them being about a quilt top totally unrelated to the EPP things she sells. So far, I have basted all the tiny little hexies needed for the pincushion, and sewn the first 7 together. They are really pretty, but oh so tiny (half inch, compared to my usual 1 inch). My aim is to finish piecing and to quilt it by the weekend if I can…

Hexie flower pincushion centre

Centre flower for pincushion

I have a whole truckload of other makes and bakes to tell you about, including several presents, and at least 1 recipe for a cake. They will be in future posts (as soon as I finish them…)

And as for Ends….well, my job has finished. For a variety of reasons I left at the end of this half term. I could have finished at Easter and been paid to the end of April, but I decided the extra money was worth the extra weeks. I have had a difficult few half terms, especially the last couple, mainly resulting from huge anxiety issues which have nearly overwhelmed me. I have yet to decide whether to blog about those. It may help, it may not. Suffice to say, that I have been really lucky to have the support of our local GPs and my Health Visitor. And leaving the job means I no longer have a difficult commute which was increasingly taking me away from my children. I have regrets. There are colleagues I will miss terribly, and some of the classes I taught and lots of the kids. I loved doing the shows. Loved the space I taught in.

But it was time to end and to move on. An end after nearly 12 years, and an end to the commute. Hopefully this means more time for making as well as more time with my wonderful children and husband.

 

And the other Ends? Well, they get posts of their own 😊

#BEDN – Not what it was supposed to be…

There’s no love more intense than the love we have for our kids — and where there is intense love, there is also intense fear lurking beneath the surface. I’m making motherhood sound so appealing, aren’t I?

But, in fact, there is nothing that can bring you closer to fearlessness about everything else in the world than being a parent — because everyday fears — like not being approved of — pale by comparison to the fears you have about your children.

Arianna Huffington in The Washington Post

A quote which sums up the last day or so for me. This is a short post, and one which doesn’t match the BEDN topic for today, but we are all very tired and need some sleep.

Mini Mister is home. He has a viral chest infection and has spent the last 24 hours being given steroids and a nebuliser or inhaler frequently. His temperature is more under control, his breathing is better and he is coughing much less. We have to do 3-hourly sessions with the inhaler, which is a nightmare as he is terrified of the spacer mask on his face. 10 puffs each time. But it is working.

We are so lucky to have been able to get him treated quickly and well. We are thankful for the receptionist at the GP surgery who gave me an appointment even though I phoned at the wrong time, the GP who decided it wasn’t worth the risk waiting until Monday to see if he would improve, the overstretched paediatric A&E who eventually saw him and moved him through to the Assessment Unit, the nurses who did his obs and cared for him all night and day, the consultants and doctors who checked him over and didn’t rush to get him out because they needed the beds (the childrens’ wards were full), the fact that we have free health care which despite all its issues and detractors, still looks after and cares and mends us and our children.

Thank you to all of them for caring! 😊

#BEDN – Friday Night

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Perhaps the worst decorated cake ever, but it is the flavour that Maxi Mister requested. I will make him the decorations he wanted when Mini Mister is better.

This isn’t the Friday night I expected to have. It is Maxi Mister’s birthday and I was expecting to be sat reminiscing with hubby, celebrating the wonderful little boy we have been blessed with.

We aren’t doing that. We are not even in the same town/village, let alone the same building or room. I am sat on the sofa alone. Maxi Mister is fast asleep upstairs. Hubby is with Mini Mister at the ‘local’ paediatric A&E. They have been there for 3 hours nearly. I wish I knew what was happening.

Mini seemed to have come down with a cold, coupled with teething, and has had a temperature on and off since Tuesday. He coughs a lot, and has a sore throat – at least, I am assuming so because he cries when he is trying to eat or even have his milk. He has been wheezy too, but we weren’t sure if it was from his chest or nose.

Thankfully I managed to get him a late appointment with the GP this evening. He gave Mini a nebulizer, but there was little improvement, so he said we should take him to A&E to get checked out. He thinks it is a viral chest infection, but he is too wheezy. As it is the weekend, he didn’t want it left, as small children can go downhill very quickly. Mini is obviously not the only child being sent in because of the weekend, as A&E is heaving.

So on Friday Night, here I sit, waiting for the time Maxi was born, waiting to celebrate, waiting to talk to hubby, waiting to find out what is wrong with Mini, waiting for him to come home.

#BEDN – Love Mondays

I love Mondays because I get to spend the day with Mini Mister. I still have to get up early as I need to do the school run with Maxi Mister, but the rest of the day is just for us. At the moment we go to Baby Sensory classes, which we both love. It is our last term before we move to Toddler Sense on a Friday. We will be sad to finish Baby Sensory, but the next stage is very exciting! Then we will need a new plan for our Mondays together 😊

Mini Mister, Baby Sensory Thurrock

Bubble fun at Baby Sensory