Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a busy but brilliant Christmas we have had! Loved every minute- just posting quickly to check that I can from my iPad and then I'll be back later to round up the year..

I can blog from my IPad, whoop - that is going to be really handy.  It is such a fab gadget, I have been after one for a while and after reviewing my Company technology spend for the year I realised that I had some spare ££ to get one so on the 27th I did just that.  The kids love it too, I think there will be lots of competing for time with it in this house. 

Christmas started in an extremely festive fashion - my Brother in Law and husband cracked open the fizzy at 11am on the 23rd and the celebrations started!  We walked up to the Royal Oak for lunch and then it was back home for more drinks and playing with the kids before those guys headed back to my parents for the evening and it was an early night for all.  Christmas eve was magical, we walked up to the church for the crib service at 5pm, sang carols and heard the nativity story and then it was back home to receive a few guests for some drinks and nibbles.  At around 9.30 we ceremoniously scattered the reindeer food and all the kids left out the mince pies and sherry for Santa and signed their names in chalk on the stone hearth - so cute! 

Teya woke in a flurry of excitement at 5.40am on Christmas morning but as her brother was sharing her room I made her (much to her disgust) leave her stocking and come in to our bed until a sensible hour!  Waking up at 7.15 the fun and magic started when the kids crept downstairs, trying not to wake auntie Riggy and the Droos, to find that Santa had been!  It was a fantastic day, we were all so spoiled - parents and grandparents joined us at midday and the kids had been great and only opened 2 other gifts (aside from stockings) by then!  Lunch was great and the whole day was really fun and stress free, everyone had a lovely time and we rounded off the day with cheese and biscuits and a hilarious game of Articulate!  We were all so impressed with Andrea who held his own. 

Boxing day saw us all out walking, Zach falling in to a huge muddy puddles at the furthest point, more cooking - my cousin Matt and Uncle JC with Becky all arrived and it was off to the playpark then pub and then a big party on Boxing Day night at ours complete with my world famous Christmas Cosmos.  Ouch - much merriment was had but man we were all rather poorly when we woke up the next day!  Great fun though.  For the rest of the hols we managed to get in a few more pub lunches, trips to the soft play and even a trip to the Natural History Museum - going up on the train which was just brilliant.  On the evening of the 28th the boys all went over to Ram's for a boys curry night so Rigs and I got to have the house to ourselves, the fire on, PJ's on, big prawn curry and watched the Hangover which was just so so fun.  It was such a perfect time and the kids were all amazing despite some spats of over tiredness.  I loved having my Sister and her family to stay and felt quite bereft when they all left, my house was way too quiet..  I really didn't want it to end.  I have to say that my parents have been brilliant, such a big help and have worked so hard driving everyone around,helping with the kids, extra food and looking after the grannies, we all owe them so much but above all it was just so wonderful to spend lots of really good quality time all together.

Thankfully in all of the madness we got to visit Steve again, it was great to be able to take Rigs too and she was thrilled to see him, as he was to see us all.  He is feeling rather down right now, he is still coming to terms with all that has happened to him and is struggling with the grief and guilt.  It is easy for us to tell him not to feel that way but the poor guy has been through so much and I know that I am STILL finding it all so hard to get my head around, and I have known for 7 weeks about all that he has had to face.  It looks as though he will be in hospital for another 6 weeks, which must feel like a lifetime, but we will go and be there with him as often as we can to offer all the support and love he needs.

Lastly, as I said on my facebook status, as 2011 comes to an end I would like to wish you and your loved ones good luck, good health and good times for the year ahead.  Whatever challenges it brings, whatever difficulties you may face and whatever joy you may feel, enjoy and embrace every moment because life is precious.

We are off ice skating at Hampton Court Palace with our friends Saf and Ram and all of the kids now, so have a great evening and see you in 2012!! xx

Friday, December 23, 2011

OK i now have the guilt because it is over a week since I updated you all on Steve - but no fear, here I am - albeit a little lubricated - by the way is it wrong to like neat gin?  I am not sure that it is a tolerance for juniper moreover a step to alcoholism but still, that is where I am tonight.  We got our Christmas wish yesterday, we got to finally see Steve and talk to him YES HAVE A FULL CONVERSATION not just talk at him!! Was just brilliant and he was just like his old self, funny and stroppy and just ace to be with.  He was so angry at his state that the day before he had pulled out his cannula, his feeding tubes and his catheter and tried to stand... not a good plan.. he had fallen and cut his eye open - love him, he was so angry that his legs couldn't take him.. but happily when we saw him he had accepted his scaldings from everyone (staff and loved ones) and resigned himself to the fact that he had a lot of healing to do and that it would be a long process that that he really shouldn't fuck around with.  Poor guy though, it has taken him a long time to come round.  He still has the elastics holding his jaw together and is covered in amazing bandages/ braces/ iodine but you know what?  to us he looks better than he ever has - and that is because he is with us, laughing and grumbling and being HIM.  We all kissed him, read out the cards that all the lovely Friends have sent via us and I even fed him his coffee through a straw.  He is so overwhelmed with the love, it was really emotional for us all, and the happiness I felt seeing him awake and acting like Johnno - it was ace, a true Christmas wish.  God speed now, and I look forward to planning a second Xmas eve with him and the other Usual Suspects v soon.

Rigs and the Droo's have landed safely thank goodness!  We have had a brilliant day playing with the kids, going for a long(er than expected) walk and pub lunch and then Elf movie, fire, more fizz, hubs zzzz and lovely catch up.  Life may not always be amazing but if you live in the here and now you will find so much to be thankful for, I know I have today and will do for the rest of the holidays.  I have so much to be immensely grateful for.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Steve has been much the same as yesterday just being a bit more with it, and a bit more fidgety! He managed to pull his feeding tube out at one point!!! His ventilator tube has been taken off his throat and his neck brace removed. They put a half cast on his right arm and he managed to bend it straight away, so he now has a full cast.  He is going for x rays tomorrow to check on his new additions to his bones to make sure everything is fine. He is scheduled in for a skin graft for his left foot in the next couple of days. They were looking to move Steve back to Basingstoke today which seemed crazy, but due to the skin graft he will stay now at Southampton until that's done. The rubber bands in his mouth are likely to be there for approx 6 weeks which might frustrate him further.
Kev went up to see him as I had to work but he said that despite his immense tiredness (due to sleep deprivation from the sedatives) he is responding more, albeit quite incoherently and with difficulty due to the tracheotomy.  He did manage to give his mum a kiss and asked her to take him home :( she keeps having to remind him where he is as he is really disorientated, that may remain for some time yet.  One funny thing though, Kev said that all of the sisters on the ward were very good looking and at one point Steve opened his eyes, looked at his doctor and said, 'I love you!' before falling back to sleep again - love him!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am really happy to report some more good news in regard to Steve's progress. The facial surgery took place yesterday (after being postponed again due to an emergency taking precedence) and after 5 hours on theatre we found out that the surgery had gone well. Steve's face is still slightly puffy and his ventilator is out of his mouth - but is in his throat - but he now has carbonfibre cheekbones and a wired jaw... He has been taken off all sedatives and is now only reliant on morphine for the pain management and as a result is still drifting in and out of consciousness. They have also moved him on to the main ITU ward, which is more than twice the size of Basingstoke's, so out of his private room with a view but it is a hugely positive step. That was the last of the major planned operations and despite the fact that his temperature is still up they are not worried as they think it is as a result of surgery and his brother says he seems less agitated and happier now that the tubes have gone from his face. All good stuff! I didn't know that the average stay in ITU following a motorbike accident is 28 days.. Steve will beat that average but it looks as though things are looking really good now, so more relief all round. Can't wait to go and visit him again, might be back there on Friday, depending on Kev's work, and hopefully get to have a conversation with him.

Friday, December 09, 2011

He is awake! Just! Jay, Kev, Zach and I went down to Southampton today and after an agonising wait whilst the doctors completed their rounds we finally got to see him in his new pad (Jude has jetted off to NYC on her work jolly today the lucky duck, so we gave him an extra kiss from her!). The doctors warned us that it would be a good 24 hours yet before he was fully round, as there are so many drugs in his system. Still, when we went in to his room and told him that we were there (Jay and I went first whilst Kev looked after Zach in the waiting area) we saw the recognition flicker across his face and he tried moving his mouth around all the tubes. It was fantastic just to feel sure that he could hear that we were there and be reassured by our presence. I swear he was trying to sing along to his Ipod at certain points too! So, we updated him on what we had all been up to and informed him that we had been performing very badly at University Challenge of late - and also that he was missing a great Masterchef.. told him of all the friends who have sent their love and who are desperate to see him up and about again very soon. He does still have a high temperature and the staff aren't wholly sure why so they are still conducting many frequent tests but on the whole there are lots of positives and as soon as he is breathing alone and competently they will do the op on his face. It would be fair to say that the man has some amazing scars - bionic man has nothing on him - and in my eyes he is going to look all the very better for them, the marks of his life saved. The relief emanating from his parents is palpable too, although the whole thing is taking its toll on them immensely. I feel rather overwhelmed tonight and am going to open the fizzy, for the first time since the terrible accident, to toast our lovely friend's road to recovery and his lovely family.

We are also going to install the new fireplace (the one that I was watching, and subsequently won on ebay) and put up the Christmas trees this weekend, and we have Maya's birthday party on Sunday - so all in all we have lots to look forward to and be very thankful for..

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Someone recently challenged me with the remark, 'you don't like change do you?' I have reflected upon this and rather feel that the line of questioning probably has more to do with other issues rather than my choices but still, I feel like addressing it, becuase it is an interesting point. On speaking with my sister a few nights ago we agreed that change was indeed good. Change could in fact, with prior warning, be managed, embraced even despite initial trepidation - but enforced change - that is a different thing entirely. Having to sit at a loved one's bedside in intensive care 24 hours after joking together over twitter, having to tell a mother that her son is critically ill, a doctor having to tell a parent that their child is facing difficulties, being forced to make decisions about what to do for the best when you had no idea that such challenges would ever present themselves, that is change that I don't like. Right or wrong and I hate being out of control, as do most people, is that a bad thing? I don't know, but what I do know is that I will always strive for what is best for all that I love and I am pretty sure that can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

My Chanel blusher brush

I was given this brush by my MIL last Christmas (oops) but it is so beautiful that I put off using it for ages! Anyway, now I that I have finally started using it I wanted to share it with you all - it really is the most fabulous brush, it applies blusher evenly and lightly and is incredibly simple and soft to use. Adds a little more sparkle to my make up routine.

Finally some positive news to report! Steve's surgery indeed went ahead on Friday, Kev and Jay went down to see Steve on Sunday down in Southampton and learned that the doctors were much happier with his progress. Thankfully his infection had gone and his temperature was normal so he was able to have the operation on his hip, pelvis and foot and after hours in surgery all had gone well. By Monday morning they had reduced his sedation slightly and he was finally breathing on his own (albeit with the tubes still assisting him). We also found out yesterday that he had opened his eyes a couple of times and was responding marginally to his surroundings. The surgery on his face has been postponed, but that is only due to the fact that the surgeon is unavailable but hopefully he will have that done by the weekend so that we can all go and see him, and maybe even see him awake! Fingers crossed, I can't wait to speak to him. I was hoping to go and see him on Monday but Zach and I have been full of cold and I was too terrified about taking new bugs in to the hospital. Everyone is feeling hugely relieved and even though it isn't all champagne corks yet, things are looking so much better, if we think about all he has been through, it is just incredible. Thank god for our NHS, what amazing stars they are.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Fingers crossed that Steve is strong enough to undergo his surgery today. We had an update last night that informed us that he is fighting the infection and that the MRI scan showed no further damage so with all things being equal he should have his hip operation today and his facial surgery over the weekend. We are just waiting on standby to be able to drop everything and go and see him. Two weeks today, that is all it has been. It feels like a life time.

I went to a Pampered Chef evening last night - what an insight that was - horrible American style selling at its worst! The woman 'party planner' talked FOREVER and rammed everything down our throats at every opportunity, grim grim BUT on the flip side it was a fun evening and great to see the hostess Linda and her Mum and Sister too - Lin and Tal put lots of effort in to making it a great success and were really generous. Don't get me wrong, there were a few very cool bits, I bought a kids safety night and a sandwich cutter and sealer, (and lusted over the trifle bowl and easy icer but was sensible, I am saving my pennies for the fireplace that I am watching on eBay today) but her nauseatingly gushing presentation of every item really turned me off lining her pockets at all!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It has been a stressful few days in relation to Steve's progress. Kev and I had to take the kids with us on Saturday to see him, thankfully his lovely parents were happy to look after them whilst we went in to see him. We talked to him and told him what was new, and what we had been up to - and mostly that we were missing him madly and couldn't wait to see him. Jay and Jude had also been to see him that day (and had braved Basingstoke Shopping Centre like we did, but that is a whole other post!!) and we all agreed that he was looking slightly better, but it is difficult to to know whether that is just because we are getting used to seeing him covered in tubes and wires, and hooked up to so many machines.

On Monday we learned that he had contracted a nasty chest infection and that as a result the Doctors wanted to keep him as isolated as possible, indicating no visitors. They were also planning to cancel his scheduled surgery (due today, Wednesday) this was obviously very upsetting and a huge set back. Not long after we heard all of this we then found out that they had changed their minds and had decided to move him to Southampton regardless, in the the hope that as soon as he became well enough they could operate immediately. So, Steve is now in Southampton and we still can't visit, however it transpires that he may indeed be well enough to under go surgery today as originally planned, and all I can do is hope and pray that he is well enough and that he has a successful operation today. Hang in there lovely, we will all be there to see you very soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I had a successful charity shop find on Friday - I have been looking for a cloche/ bell jar to use as a display case for ages, but all of the ones I found were just way more than I wanted to spend. So, quite by chance I stumbled across a wooden based, glass lidded cheese board in our local Hospice shop, it had hideous cartoon mice on the wooden board but I knew that I had some blackbaord paint at home and once it was cleaned and then painted it would be just what I was after - and for £3 I couldn't go wrong! So this was it before;

And after, displaying Zach's first shoes, on my sideboard;

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I know I tend to get so insecure - it doesn't matter anymore; look for the girl with the broken smile..ask her if she wants to stay a while... she will be loved..

Friday, November 25, 2011

The doctors have decided to keep Steve in sedation until next Wednesday when he will transfer to Southampton Hospital for further surgery. I know that it is probably the best thing for him but selfishly I just want to see him awake and be able to talk to him. We haven't been able to go to see him this morning due to the fact that his parents are taking his grandma over for the first time and it will be a highly emotive time for them all so we shall go tomorrow and visit him instead. Happily Kev got to see him on Wednesday and take the food parcel to his parents. There was no change but he is responding well to the drugs that seem to be clearing his infection. It feels as though this has been going on forever but it is only a week! I cannot begin to imagine how he will feel when he comes round, the shock of what has happened and the sheer amount of time that he has been asleep will be immensely hard to come to terms with I would imagine. Everyone has been amazing in their support, we have received tonnes of well wishes and cards sent here so that we can take them down to him - it all helps so much.

In other news it is the PVPS Christmas Fayre this evening, not my favourite school event it has to be said! I am not relishing the idea of queuing up for 40 minutes to take over excited children to see Dan (IT teacher!) dressed as Santa and even less am I looking forward to Teya buying all sorts of crap toys! Not a bah humbug honestly - the mulled wine is always good and on the plus side Saf and I are taking the kids for tea at the pub afterwards so will have to leave early to ensure we get a table ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yesterday we heard that the Doctors had lowered Steve's dependency on his ventilator but that on the other hand he had contracted a chest infection. It felt like a blow for our positive spirits as it feels like a step back, but he it has been found early so hopefully it means that it won't be around for long. Kev has set off to to Basingstoke again this morning, there is a chance he might not actually get to see Steve as the Doctors *may* try and slowly bring him round (fingers crossed) but even just being there for him and for his parents really helps.

I have bought him these two little Music Trivia games which should keep him amused when he wakes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kev and I went up to visit Steve at the Hospital again last night and I am very relieved to report that things were a lot more positive. When we got there he had not been long out of surgery and was out of recovery and back in ICU. The surgeons had put a plate in one wrist, pinned the other and re set his broken foot. They hadn't started on his pelvis yet, the ball and socket joint is shattered, but he is in traction and is well and truly trussed up. it was great to hear that the staff are happy with how he is doing, they have also managed to get a feeding tube in him and his blood pressure is better. Also the damage to his face isn't as bad as they had feared, his jaw is broken but his cheekbones aren't nearly as smashed as they had first thought. It was much better to see him looking much 'pinker' IYSWIM - on Saturday he looked like a waxwork, and that was heartbreaking. There is still a long way to go and there has been no change with his lungs/ breathing but fingers crossed that it won't be long now and he can come out of sedation and see all his loved ones.. We crossed visits with Jay, Jude, Soph and Steph and I really hope that Steve can hear us all and know that we are all there willing him on. Kev is going back tomorrow and we are both back on Friday morning. I really hope to be able to report back very soon that he is awake, and cracking inappropriate jokes with his nursing staff!

In the meantime I am going to cook up a few meals for his parents so that they don't need to think about cooking once they return home in the evening - first one is beef bourguignon (found a good food recipe which looks great) Kev will take it with him tomorrow, but any other ideas for easy to reheat suppers would be greatly appreciated! Email me

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Darling Friend Steve

Friday the 18th November started like most normal Fridays. Kev took the kids to breakfast club, I got up and started the day with some Governor business with Saf, Suzanna and Peter, and then got all dressed up to take my lovely Mummy out for a special birthday lunch. We drove off to Bluebells in Sunningdale and had a fab time, lovely food and wine followed by a potter around the shops. Later that evening Kev went out for a bike ride, I opened some fizz and got the kids ready for bed so that we could settle down in front of the fire to watch Children in Need. At 6.50pm I received a private message via FB, it was Dave Johnson, Steve's younger brother, asking me to call him on his mobile. My blood ran cold. I picked up the phone, dialled and what ensued was an incredibly emotional and devastating conversation. At 6.45 that morning Steve had been travelling to work on his motorbike when he was involved in a head on collision with a lorry. He was in a terribly bad way, he had lost a kidney, his spleen, broken both legs, pelvis, arms, ribs and also his back. Thank god it didn't look as though his head or spinal cord had been damaged but that it was too early to tell exactly what lasting damage there was. He was on a ventilator and heavily sedated in the Basingstoke ITU. Words can't really describe how it felt hearing all of that about our best friend, our lovely friend whom we had only spoken to a couple of days before. I was desperate to get down to the hospital but we were told that it was immediate family only for now. So all we could do was wait. Kev and I cried our eyes out, terrified at what might be to come and what might have been.

Saturday morning after no sleep and feeling like hell we travelled to see him, I was determined that we would no matter what. Happily the staff were wonderful and his parents were already there so we got to go in. The shock of seeing Steve lying there covered in tubes and wires and hooked up to so many machines was incredibly tough, and the fact that we were talking to him but not with him was so very hard, and devastating. We hadn't expected his cheekbones to have been shattered either so that was really awful, the only place I could kiss him without fear of hurting him was on his forehead. It was however a relief to see him, to be able to tell him that we were there, that we love him and that we would do all that we can to be there for him and help with his recovery. The staff were pretty sure that he could hear us, despite the huge amounts of sedative coursing through his poor broken body. He is due for surgery any time now to try and pin some of his bones in to the right place and I pray that all goes well and that he can be brought round soon. We are off back to the hospital tonight to see him and are hoping for some good news then but in the meantime it is a waiting game, a painful and distressing time for everyone who cares for him and something that none of us have any control over. So, for now I am sending up my prayers and just hoping that we will be laughing and joking with our wonderful friend very soon. We love you Steve, stay strong and we will see you soon xxxx

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I have realised that I didn't get around to updating this in regard to our bridesmaids' dresses drama from last Friday.. It all started off well, I collected Teya from school and took the two of us off in to Woking, both very excited to be seeing our dresses for the first time and to be finally trying them on! As soon as I saw mine hanging up I had a sinking feeling.... It didn't look anywhere near long enough, but Teya's looked fine, until I got it on her - the thing was so tight that the poor kid couldn't breathe! My heart stopped. I called the lovely assistant in and she was horrified, we double checked the measurements and the dress had been made (by the designers in the states) to the wrong measurements and was a size too small! So, I got myself in to mine and nearly cried, my floor length gown came to my ankle, and yep, once again they had messed up and made it the wrong length. What a bloody nightmare. So, they are being re made and should be here the week after Christmas. Talk about cutting it fine, that is 10 days before the wedding. They had better be perfect and I am going to have even more sleepless nights until then.

Here is Teya in her too tight but stunning bridesmaid's dress

And this is how my dress will (with luck and a following wind!!!) look (except mine is moss green, same colour as Teya's sash)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not such a good 24 hours here.. Yesterday morning started well, we all went out in to the beautiful day to the Remembrance Service in Brookwood cemetery with our friends, which was lovely - very poignant and Teya and her best bud Rehan laid the wreath. Afterwards we went for some lunch at the pub and had a really great time. I took Zach home around 1pm as I was feeling a little tired, and it just went downhill from there, I got the sweats and started to feel really sick and shaky. By 6pm I was in the bath, throwing up and just about managed to watch Strictly before having to retire. This morning Kev had not long dropped Teya at school when I got the call asking me to come and get her, poor thing was white as a sheet and needed to come home - she was feeling sick too! Argh, poor baby- I have NO idea where these bugs came from but needless to say it is a duvet day here and hopefully she will feel much better soon. Got to hope that Zach doesn't get it now..

Friday, November 11, 2011

We will remember them. Today was a sobering reminder of all our wonderful armed forces who so bravely put themselves on the front line for all of us, and of those who have lost their lives defending king and country. I sat at home and observed my silence alone today but on Sunday I will be going to the cemetery, with my family, to pay respects and lay a wreath with the school before the Remembrance Service.

I can remember being a small child and asking my Dad (Major, Royal Fusilier) why he had chosen to be in the Army.. I knew that, when I was 2, he had seen his friends killed whilst serving on the streets of Northern Ireland, amongst other atrocities, and I just couldn't understand it. He simply answered that it was what he wanted, he wanted to serve his country and do what he could to protect us all, not just his family but friends and strangers too, he was never afraid of conflict. Looking back I imagine he was terrified really, leaving his family and not ever really knowing whether he was coming home to us must have been heartbreaking, but he was always so brave, so accepting and pragmatic. Even now that he is a retired serviceman, he works for the MOD and was instrumental in the construction of the Basra Memorial Wall. He also repatriates our soldiers lost in Afghan, and each time he meets the planes that land at Brize Norton I know he feels the pain in equal measure. I am immensely proud of my Dad, his empathy, loyalty, devotion, his huge heart and great capacity for love and forgiveness, all these things make him incredibly special, to so many people.

So to our fallen, our casualties - the grand fathers, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, and all our loved ones - at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am going to have a whinge this morning so apologies in advance.. first the fridge went, twice, then the dishwasher and now the boiler is playing up, all this in the past month, gah. Fridge was happily fixed for free, dishwasher we had to sign up for a year's 'care' and thankfully we took out boiler insurance after ours went out of warranty in January but at £300 I am quite glad to be calling the guy out quite honestly, and he should be bringing me chocolates and flowers for that price! The radiators seem to be OK this morning but something isn't quite right so I am getting it seen to. Let's hope this 3rd thing is the last of my run ins with domestic goods, I am over it.

Secondly I must be the one of a tiny minority who sleeping tablets don't work for. I picked up my prescription on Friday and took my first tablet last night - 1am woke up, 5am woke up.. Granted I fell back to sleep easier afterwards but still it is UNINTERRUPTED sleep I need please and I feel like hell this morning.

On a better note detox day 3 went well (except for the above!) and I had 2 litres of fizzy water, homemade veg soup for lunch and garlic & chilli chicken salad for supper. I must confess I had a dessertspoon full of the kids' lasagne, but after making it it was torture looking at the last bit on the side! I am allowing myself the slip and not getting too worried about it - can't have done that much harm.

Can't say I feel miles better body wise really but mentally I am ready to take on the world. I doubt the scales will show anything much so I am not getting on them till next week, but I am really pleased that I have done it and showed (mostly) great self control - it isn't easy, but it is possible.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Day 2 detox went well too, yay! Had nothing but water until supper when I had grilled chicken salad for supper, feel very virtuous and much better today. Still a long way to go I know but I am glad that my willpower is holding up. Tomorrow night following detox end I shall be making this for supper;

Addictive Sesame Chicken

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 dash sesame oil
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon rapeseed oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
fillets, cut into 3cm cubes
1 litre vegetable oil for frying
125ml water
250ml chicken stock
60ml vinegar
4 tablespoons cornflour
200g sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon red chilli paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Preparation & cook: 20/30 mins

1.Combine the 2 tablespoons soy sauce, dry
sherry, dash of sesame oil, flour, 2 tablespoons cornflour, 2 tablespoons water,
baking powder, bicarb and rapeseed oil in a large bowl. Mix well; stir in the
chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2.Thread chicken on to skewers. Heat grill

3.Combine the 125ml water, chicken stock,
vinegar, 4 tablespoons cornflour, sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons
sesame oil, red chilli paste and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil,
stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and keep warm, stirring occasionally.

4.Grill the chicken skewers until done.

5.Transfer the chicken to a large platter,
top with sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Day 1 of detox plan went well (although I have a headache this morning, must be the lack of caffeine) I had water all morning, homemade broccoli and pea soup for lunch and chilli prawn salad for supper, with lots of weak sugar free squash. Wasn't as tough as I thought it was going to be, but today could be different - I am about to set off for my Clients' offices in Gloucester and it is going to be a long day. Must remember to drink enough water.

Teya and I are seeing our bridesmaids dresses for the first time on Friday and are having our first try on session, I cannot wait! All the wedding plans seem to be coming together amazingly well, Katie has been working so hard on everything, I am sure that it will be just fabulous. I shall post a few more details when I can, but it is going to be amazing, and it is only 10 weeks away!

Monday, November 07, 2011

It is that time again, operation detox! Time to lose a few lbs - happily I don't have too much but still, it has crept up on me again (lazy ass) and my jeans are a tad tighter than I am wholly comfortable with, quite apart from the fact that it is only 8 weeks till I am maid of honour to the gorgeous Katie! So, I am doing a 3/5 days detox this week to kick start my diet and then will be healthy/ small portioning again until January. There are so many things in my wardrobe that will look so much better with just a few lbs off that I have lots of motivation. I am also going to do the sensible thing and up my exercising, just walking the dog/playing with ponies/running once (or less) a week just isn't enough and I need to do more. So, wish me luck!

Friday, November 04, 2011

I don't honestly mind the rain (unless I have just hair my hair done mind you!) it has a number of positives, the ground gets a good soaking, the rivers and streams fill, the kids love putting on wellies and splashing in puddles, it gives you a good excuse to stay in the house all day on a Sunday and, if you are lucky, you get to witness amazing rainbows! Don't get me wrong I hate cold driving rain coupled with wind on a dark January day when you are forced to venture out in it but on days like today, 15 degrees (!) outside and beautiful autumn sunshine to boot - what's not to love? Here are some pics I took yesterday of the stunning rainbows over our school;

Tonight we have Rehan over for a sleepover which Teya is beside herself with excitement about. We have Mr Popper's Penguins to watch and I am hoping that they won't be too late to sleep...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Much fun was had at the Ross' Halloween Party on Friday, and a quiet weekend ensued, which was greatly welcomed. Have to say that I am not loving X Factor this year, really can't warm to any of the acts or the judges - so for me it is all about Strictly! We are all fans here, and are hoping Holly Valance (and the lovely Artem) walk away with the glitter ball this year.

Some things that I am loving at the moment are Laura Ashley's Jasmine and Fresh Linen fragrance sticks (they are beautifully scenting my downstairs loo) and H&M's nail varnish in Nerd (a nudy pale beige) such a bargain at £2.99 and has much better staying power than a similar one that I have by MAC.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween is nearly here, one of my favourite times of the year. I love the dark evenings drawing in, the cozy fires, wrapping up warm, the dressing up, the pumpkins, the sparklers, well baked jacket potatoes, homemade soup, hot dogs and the general fun and nonsense of it all. Each year we go to Janet and Matt's for a party and this year is happily no exception! The kids all have a ball, everyone makes a huge effort and we always make sure that the party goes on well in to the evening with food and fireworks, and the odd glass of wine or 3.

I have carved my pumpkin this afternoon and it is all ready to take along to the party with us. Here it is next to my Halloweeny flowers;

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zach had his first taster session at his new nursery today, he was up at 5am anticipating it!! After the initial excitement there were a couple of tears but they dried up the moment I drove out of the car park and he had a super session. Phew, there is nothing more heart wrenching than leaving a howling child at child care and having to leave someone else to comfort them. The lovely thing about Pirbright Day Nursery is that 3 of the staff there (out of the 6) are the same staff who looked after Teya from 2 years old! Considering the usual churn at nursery schools I think that statistic is hugely impressive. The fact that it is next door to the school is also a huge bonus for me, it makes the transition up to big school even easier for them.

Also this morning, after a few fights with the horrendous website, I have managed to book our tickets to see Santa at the Selfridges Winder Wonderland. We are going up on Tuesday 22nd December with Saf, Ram and their kids and we will make an afternoon of it, taking in the lights and the general atmosphere of London at Christmas time. Countdown has truly begun!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Half term is here! Was lovely having a leisurely morning, we didn't get out of our pj's until gone 10am, bliss.. Today is going to be a quiet one and the kids are off to Granny and Granddad's again this evening as we are hosting our Italian Evening at home later. Matt (cousin) is coming down from Leeds and Steve, David and Amy are also coming over for an Italian night, a reunion from our holiday which was 2 months ago! So, my menu is as follows;

Bruschetta with peppers and goat's cheese

Spaghetti Carbonara

Scallopini di Pollo with mini baked garlic potatoes, fine green beans and arrabiata sauce


I am making everything from scratch, except for the profiteroles, I can't be doing with the stress of choux pastry! Really looking forward to it, we also have some Corini wine to accompany and of course prosecco for aperativo. Happy weekend everyone xx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finally got home from Glasgow at 11.30 last night - had been stuck at the airport since 1.30pm too so was rather shattered to say the least. Still home safe, successful presentation given, and the CAM roadshow has now moved on to Manchester, and I am back working at my kitchen table. All is well. So, after all of my jet setting, I wanted to share a few things that I have learned over the past week;

1) Having to leave your family at the weekend, for work, really sucks
2) It is possible to cook a full roast dinner in under an hour
3) If you drive in to the back of a fiat punto at approx 3 mph, which, as a result hits a vauxhall insignia - the fiat will crumple
4) BA only fly from Gatwick North, not South
5) The assistants at the Valet parking at Gatwick are very kind and helpful
6) It is illegal to drive without a front number plate and could lead to a £60 fine (happily this didn't happen, the fine that is - the missing plate did - see point 3)
7) If a stranger on a plane asks me whether I am scared of flying, I will irrationally burst in to tears! Cue a crowd of air hostesses around me and everyone trying to reassure me that despite the turbulence, we were not all about to plummet to our death. God the shame. I blame tiredness.

It has been quite an eventful time!! Happily my crash wasn't bad, but it was sadly all my fault - I saw the lights change, the two in front weren't in such a hurry.. result = nice insurance claim and having to wait even longer until I can sell my car, grr. But, thankfully, no one was hurt. Well aside from my pride...

Friday, October 07, 2011

It's oh so quiet... kids have gone off for a sleepover at my Parents' house, husband is out on his bike with David and I am all alone with just the dogs :) have done the ponies, cleaned up the house, had a bath and opened the fizzy - and its only just 6pm!! Really tempted just to stay in this evening and have a takeaway with the fire on, but really we should make the most of the childfree time and go out for some dinner. I am quite fancying the idea of Greek this evening and we do have a super restaurant only a few miles away, so I may be tempted in to dolling myself up and embracing the evening, but equally I am cozy in my dressing gown, clean and make up free and the sofa is calling ha ha.

I did nip in to town earlier to do some errands and I picked up a fab teal and navy tunic dress from good old Primark, £15 and it is really lovely, so I may give it a run out. I only went in for socks and hair clips! Primark is a funny place, I love their socks/costume jewellery/kids pj's/ hell, my PJ's/ kids fitted sheets; but I don't always find clothes that I am willing to pay even a few ££ for. But, it is worth a frequent check because sometimes they have great items - things that you couldn't get any better elsewhere. I will post a pic of my tunic regardless of whether it gets an outing later, it looks much more monsoon, but I have saved myself over £100!!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

It is all about comfort food this evening, Teya came home from dance club STARVING and FREEZING (!) so I was very glad that I had made them Cottage Pie for supper. I make mine with a bol mince (softened onions, beef mince from local butcher, 1 tin tomatoes, red wine, 1/2 beef stock pot, garlic puree, tomato puree and mixed herbs with some extra oregano - salt and pepper) then a layer of baked beans (1 tin) followed by a hearty layer of cheddar and then topped with mashed potato. My lot don't like 'crispy' cheese so I find the layer inside works best, all gooey and delicious between baked beans and mash, yum! Served with a corn on the cob and of course, tomato ketchup ;)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wednesday already! Seems as though the weekend was ages ago - such a fun weekend that it was. On Saturday we dropped the kids off at Mother in Law's just before lunch and headed up the M1 towards Leeds for my Uncle's Retirement Party. We arrived just before 3 and found a pub/restaurant near to JC's house for lunch, quite by chance. The 315 turned out to be a fabulous choice, it is owned by an ex head Chef at Le Manoir and was absolutely fantastic, we just had bar food, steak and onion sandwich with chips for Him and Cajun chicken wrap and onion rings for me, but wow it was just superb, and all washed down with another great Marlborough Sauvignon. Here is a picture of my onion rings, the best I have ever had anywhere bar none! It was very reasonable too, big thumbs up from me. Oh, and there wasn't an under 18 to be seen ;)

Then we headed over to Groom Cottage at Fenay Hall and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and chatting (with more wine) in the autumn sunshine, it was lovely - but so quiet without the kids! It is a strange thing being away without them, much as it is lovely to just relax and have a good chat without worrying about high chairs, nappy changes, colouring pencils etc, it just feels so empty when they are not around. Anyway they were having a ball with their granny so that was lovely in itself. Parents joined us at around 6 and we all got ready and headed over to the party in Wakefield. Was really lovely to see JC and Matt and meet Becky (new girlfriend) and a very amusing evening was had by all. Lovely to celebrate JC's time as part of the Armed Response unit for Yorkshire Police, and to toast all of his Army achievements too. I do feel however that despite the fact that he is 53, his retirement is going to be anything but quiet.. watch this space!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A year ago today I said a final goodnight to my darling pony and best friend of nearly 20 has been a weird day for me today, I miss Dusty immensely and so much of me wants to take all that I am living with and just feel sorry for myself, and to crawl up and cry. But, that is not me. I had a good day at work today and achieved all that I set out to and then went over to the pub with my Mummy friends and had a very fun evening lamenting with them and drinking bloody good Sauvignon, was perfect and very fun. I raised a glass to my beautiful friend though, as I miss her every day. She was amazing and has left a hole in my heart. The 29th of September, the birth date of one of the first loves of my life and the date that I lost another. Happy birthday Fred, and goodnight Dusty xxx

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I am very happy to inform you that it is only 88 days 'till Christmas my good people :) woohoo, I am ridiculously excited about that, as I always am around this time of year, summer over, nights drawing in, heatwaves.. WTF is that all about?! I actually sat in our Pub garden with my colleagues today, and it is the end of September - total madness, but rather pleasant.. Anyway back to Xmas, I have started my shopping already and am feeling very happy about that, I need to keep the costs right down this year as far as gifts go - let's face it we all have far too much already so I am going to be inventive and shrewd, well that is the plan anyway. Best news is that my sister and Andrew and her husband Andrea are all coming home this year, we missed them so much last year. It will be magical, I am trying to restrain myself from too much planning but I am happy at the thought.

Operation Hen Night is going swimmingly, have found a beautiful cottage for us in the Cotswolds for the first weekend in January - all 20 of us! Should be great, only trouble is trying to get some of them to reply...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brr, anyone else feeling a tad chilly now? I have the 13.5 tog duvet back on the bed and we have the fire on most evenings too - am still too tight to put the heating on mind you, am going to hold out until October at the earliest.. stocked up on new PJ's for us all at the weekend, Primark do the best bargain kids' traditional wyncyette PJ's, £4 a pair and they last/wash really well. On the subject of autumn wear I found these biker boots from Next (no Jimmy Choo for me this year, boo) and I am really pleased with them, they are comfy and the leather is good, they look much more expensive than the £60 that they were. I have worn them practically every day since they arrived. What is it with Next and their huge shoe sizes though?? I had to get a 38 and I am a 6-6.5 so pretty much a standard 39, bizarre. Now I am just trying to decide on what should be my priority A/W purchase, I am trying to be good as I bought quite a bit at the end of last season that I haven't worn yet (bargain Twenty8Twelve jeans from The Outnet for example) and I am determined not to buy and cheap and cheerful clothing that won't last - so if I buy anything it will be quality and I will have to love it, well that is the plan anyway! I am loving the Isabella Oliver collection this year, and lots from Hush too, but the prices of everything have just shot up, again, I am not loving that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yesterday afternoon over 300 people packed in to our village church to say farewell to Trevor Cobley. Trevor lost his fight with cancer on the 31st August, his 37th wedding anniversary, just 2 months after his diagnosis. He was only 64. It was an amazing service though, really emotional but so very well done. I was truly astounded by his wife Catherine, she was so composed throughout the whole service and spoke beautifully about her darling Trevor. As the pallbearers carried the coffin to the graveside the strong autumn sunshine broke through, Trevor would have been very happy.

I had only known Trevor for just over a year, he was one of my fellow governors and a really lovely man with great presence and immense passion for everything he undertook. He loved our school, and all his friends, and was so welcoming and fun to be around.

So, today I have been thinking about life's small details that give great pleasure;

  • Freshly cut grass - I know it is an old one but I love the sight and smell of the grass when it has been freshly cut

  • Hearing my children laugh

  • Cuddling up in front of an open fire with my kids all clean and warm from the bath and all in our pj's.

  • The greetings that I receive from my dogs and horses, they don't speak but they show so much love

  • Sharing a catch up and bottle of wine at a friend's kitchen table

  • Brand new towels

  • Clean bedding

  • New lipgloss

  • Phone calls with my sister

  • Long lunches with all of my Family

  • Seeing photos of my friends' children as they grow up

  • Laughing with my friends

Please share your favourite simple pleasures!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thank goodness the wind has died down - it was crazy yesterday and we weren't even in a badly affected area. Dogs and horses were going crazy in it so I can't imagine what it must have been like in some places. Zach and I took a walk down to the local toddler group yesterday morning, something that despite being a parent for nearly 8 years, I have never done! It is just NOT my scene drinking cups of tea and chattering to badly dressed, unmade up, harassed women about bowel movements and breastfeeding, so I have always avoided those places like the plague. *disclaimer I know that not all women who go to toddler groups fit my description, but that was always my perception ;) I have never done an ante natal/ NCT class either - but actually it was OK, Zach enjoyed playing with the toys and I got talking to Suzanna, who has a little boy of 18 months and I am happy to say that she was quite fun and normal - we were talking about male strippers at hen nights after 20 minutes, and she wasn't wholly whinging about the trials of motherhood, so quite a result all round. Zach doesn't start at his new nursery until November so I think it will be nice for him to socialise with more children than just our friends, and it is only once a week, oh and it is FREE!

Toothless is doing really well, on the last of her antibiotics now and vet very happy with her. Fingers crossed that there is no more trauma with her. Cal settling in brilliantly too - we took him to school yesterday to meet all of Teya's friends, 45 minutes was how long it took to get us through the playground and out! He was impeccable though, I was very proud.

Tonight we have Jay and Jude coming round for dinner, fresh from a week in Spain the lucky beasts! I am making a lamb buhna from Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry bible, not done it for a while so hoping it be OK, I love that the slow cooking of the lamb makes it so tender - have sent husband off to the halal butchers for the meat this morning (our local Halal butcher is amazing for value if cooking in bulk, 500g of chicken breast is approx £3, fabulous!) very much looking forward to catching up with them, it has been ages!

I didn't end up doing the MJ recipe as my book has disappeared?! But I found this James Martin one, which was brilliant and easy! I left out the coconut milk, yogurt and pomegranate and added 1/2 tbsp of cumin and 2 potatoes, it was delish but needed an extra hour cooking time (and the potatoes!) to thicken up the sauce.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So, my Bells shall from now on be known as toothless! Poor darling had to have 16 teeth extracted yesterday, looks as though she got something (most likely broken tooth) stuck in her gum which made way for food etc to get in a fester. Bless her, it happened so quickly, the infection was very nasty but thank god I took her in, it could have led to blood poisoning and potential kidney/ heart failure :( but we did catch it quickly and she is now recovering well, she is 100% happier already love her.

Off to take Cal out on his first walk this morning, yay!

Have a great weekend everyone xx

Friday, September 09, 2011

Happy Friday everyone! This morning my little Bella is going in for an operation on her mouth, she is so tiny I feel very nervous about her going under general anaesthetic. When we got back from holiday I noticed that her breath was beyond offensive, tried to look in her mouth and she visibly recoiled in pain, not good. Took her to the vet and she has contracted some horrendous infection, she has been on antibiotics for the past 3 days and they are going to look at her mouth this morning and check that all is healing as it should, they are concerned that she might have broken a tooth! Fingers crossed for a smooth op and quick healing for my little lady.

Cal slept in his crate last night for the first time, shut in that is. I got up at 6 to let him out and he was brilliant! Straight in to the garden and then back in for his breakfast, no fuss, no mess WHOOP! V chuffed. Off to take him to meet the horses and Janet's Poppy this morning, should be very exciting for the pup.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I have fallen in love with a wallpaper! I really need to get the fireplace in my snug sorted and I have been thinking of papering part of some of the other walls, to compliment the F&B Rectory Red that my chimney breast is painted currently. This is the paper; I know it won't be to everyone's taste but to me it is exactly what I am after
It is fab, but sadly £57 a roll, so it will have to remain on my wish list for now..

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ah back to school for my little lady today, in the thrashing rain! I cannot believe that she is in Year 3, first rung on the Key Stage 2 ladder, seems very grown up. Indeed she looked grown up skipping off this morning in her new school shoes (NOT Lelli Kelly ones I add, that was one battle I refused to back down on) in to her new classroom. Any moment she will be home and I cannot wait to hear all about her day, although I fully expect to be shrugged off.

So the new man in my life is doing very well, little Cal born 27th June 2011 came home to live with us last Friday. He is a black lab with big ears and gorgeous eyes and we are all smitten (in spite of his rather dodgy belly for the first 24 hours!) Even Bella seems pretty accepting of him so far, which is great - long may that continue. He is a right wind bag though, jolly stinky, I hope he grows out of that, mind you, my husband hasn't! We live in such a fab place for dogs, great walks on our doorstep and of course we have the horses, so I am sure he will be very happy. I know that I am looking forward to autumn walks (not so much to those in the freezing rain and wind) and watching him grow up with our children. Mind you that is IT now, family definitely complete, not so much as another goldfish, I am done..

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I am back! Hi all, after a lovely few days in Italy with my darling friends and family I am back to a bloody cold Pirbright and for the first time ever I genuinely wasn't ready to come home. It was amazing being back at Casella, although we did miss the absentees - we forgive Damon and Kitty though as Baby Reggie was born only 2 weeks previously *melt* huge congrats to them. Whilst away we relaxed by the pools, wandered in the countryside, drank prosecco in the piazza, ambled around beautiful Orvieto, crashed an Italian wedding by the Duormo (in more ways than one) swam in lake Bolsena, went to Corini wine tasting and danced fully clothed in the waterfall pool at midnight! One thing that was so special was that the 3 toddler boys were absolutely fantastic. Yes, each of them had their moments (hell they are all under 3!!) but overall they were just so so good, so content and no trouble at all - I was so proud of them all.

Teya and Andrew playing in the volcanic sand at Bolsena

My darling Droo has been diagnosed with ASD, it is still in the early stages of the diagnosis, and there is a long road ahead, but it is great that he is now going to get some extra help to enable him to flourish, and that I know he will. One thing about my poor Sis having a broken leg, it has meant that Andrew has bonded so much with Kevin and I and our friends too - he is just so delightful and he has done brilliantly well at forming new relationships, and I am immensely humbled and proud of him, he has been wonderful in the past 3 weeks of being with us all, I am quite bereft that I have had to leave them behind, I miss them all so much it aches. Love, wow it is one powerful emotion.

Anyway, here is where we stay every year for those who are interested - the place is amazing, staff lovely, food and wine amazing and it is all self sufficient, truly escapism. From the moment you reach the end of the 6 kilometer drive you relax, you have to, and that is all you really need from a holiday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What an eventful time! It was so wonderful having my sister and Andrew home, well aside from the fact that on day 5 she broke her ankle.. Nightmare - we suddenly found ourselves sourcing wheelchairs and reading the small print on airline T's & C's. No she didn't have travel insurance and yes my Dad had to fork out for 2 extra flights, one to send Mum back with her last Friday, and one to bring Mum back home next week (BA won't honour the return flight if you don't use your outbound one, apparently!) So, it has been a tad stressful but we did have a great time, and it was just lovely having them here.

So, today is the last day before we fly out to join them in Italy, it is almost 40 degrees in Orvieto at the moment, at least 25 degrees hotter than it is here right now, I even had the fire on last night as it was so chilly. We are all packed, just the kids carry on to finalise and Teya and I are booked in for our mani/pedis later (well she is only having a paint) oh and Steve is having his hooves done too - then it is an early night before a 3.45am start with our buddies tomorrow, Heathrow T5, here we come..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FINALLY FINALLY at 1am this morning my sister and Andrew arrived home, safe and sound!! I am working like a loony this morning to get everything done so that I can spend from 3.30 with them - they are all coming over to mine for a play in the garden and kid's tea, no doubt there will be some fizz for us and a great long chat, I am so so so looking forward to seeing them.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Firstly I would like to say sorry to you all, readers, I know I haven't exactly posted happy news recently.. I can't quite remember how it came about (wine filled night at Amy's with Saf and Janet) but the it transpires that the lovely M - one of Teya's best friends' Dads - has just been diagnosed with leukemia. I don't think that I have the eloquence to vocalise the thoughts in my head to the wonderful D family but honestly my heart breaks for them, I pray that M gets better and I send my love to them all. It makes what I am living with almost laughable, except that all I can do is live with it, and remember to try to laugh.

I am dreading tomorrow, I have a shitty day ahead - but as I have described, it could be much worse. Give your loved ones an extra big cuddle tonight xxxx

Thursday, August 04, 2011

As it is currently chucking it down out there (and blowing a gale!) I have decided to browse the new A/W collections that are trickling in.. OK I am also up ridiculously early because I can't sleep - but it is a good time to do some look book collation, whilst everyone sleeps and before I start work! So far I have this lot on my wish list;

A good trench coat

A fun bright jumper, am loving the idea of rusts/ burgundy etc to sort of carry on the brights theme from this summer (not that I have worn my brights very much admittedly!! )

A fabulous blouse (again similar colors - this is a major lust btw, not going to ever actually be mine!!)

And lastly a pair of ankle biker style boots similar to these; I tried these exact ones in Harvey Nichols back in March when I went for a fabulous day out with Amy, I was sooo tempted but I wasn't 100% about the gold buckles, even though they weren't bright gold I would def have preferred pewter/ gun metal grey. They are stunning though..

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What a crappy start to the week! Monday morning I went down to my yard to feed the horses only to find that, to my horror, Basil was nowhere to be seen.. Trying not to panic I then realised that I had left my phone at home too, so couldn't reach any help - and my yard is pretty isolated. Managed to get to my friend Cat's house (there was an accident in the village that prevented me getting home quickly) and she kindly lent me her phone... So, I started down the perimeter of the field with Ladybird looking mournful behind me- when I noticed that there was a black pony in the field opposite, through the dense woodland, so I shouted his name and lo and behold - there he was! Thank goodness! Only issue was that he had bust out through the barbed wire, which looked slightly as though it had been tampered with, looked a little odd but it is old fencing so I thought nothing more of it. Bless him he had cuts all over his chest but other than that, he seemed to be fine.

Later that evening Mum arrived on my doorstep asking if I had moved our saddles.. I hadn't of course, they had been stolen. Gutted. We assume that the thieves tampered with the wire enabling Baz's escape and took our most valuable assets. So angry though, we are just a little yard of two family horses, nothing flashy - why did they have to steal from us? So upset too because my saddle was Dusty's, a saddle that I saved for 5 months for when I was 18 so that she could have a fabulous one and Mum's was a gift from me to her to thank her for all the hard work that she put in to our wedding. So, I know they were just saddles, but they had sentimental value too. Well, it could have been worse and thank god both horses are OK.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Sunday all! Had a lovely time yesterday, nipped in to town to check out my bridesmaid's dress for Kate and Tom's wedding, I didn't get to see the actual dress as it wasn't in their stock but I saw one similar and looked at the colour swatches, was sooo lovely to be back in a bridal boutique! Also lovely as Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall got married, in Edinburgh and the bride wore Stuart Parvin - as did I :) great choice.

Kate and Tom popped in to see us last weekend before heading off to a friend's wedding, was so lovely to see them, very exciting to talk wedding plans and ideas and I saw a couple of pics of what she has in mind, just stunning! All her ideas are plotted in the Smythson wedding planner that I sent her, which is actually a brighter green than it looked on the site, but fitting due to my delightful nickname (Greenie, BTW). I also saw a photo of her in a real dress and OH MY, she looks just beautiful. That girl is going to be one beautiful bride and I am so so thrilled that I get to be her maid of honour. We toasted their engagement in style in the sunshine

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I have had some very happy news today - one of my dear friends has just got her longed for BFP!! Very very happy for her, and excited too.. It is still early days mind you so it is still a secret, but I know you lot can handle that ;)

Summer holidays are in full swing and I am shocked at how quickly the time is going. I have lots of plans up my sleeve for my days off and am hoping that we will get a lot done. Most excited about next Friday, weather permitting we are off to West Wittering for the day, which means a very early start to avoid the queues, we have never been before but have high hopes - any recommendations for must see/dos??

Happily we are having a quiet time this weekend which is fantastic, no huge plans and Teya isn't riding so we have a quiet morning ahead. Talking of Teya's riding, she is doing brilliantly well, such a little natural - she is confident cantering out on hacks now and her ability is going from strength to strength. I cannot wait to go out in to our beautiful countryside with her and hope that I will have chance to this summer. The fair is back in town so we are off there with the Ross family on Sunday afternoon followed by a glass of something chilled at the pub before heading off to Pete's surprise 40th BBQ @ Matt and Olivia's! Did I say it was a quiet one?! That was the plan...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I am shattered today, found out last night that my Sister can't get her little boy a seat on the flight home so she cannot come home for the weekend. I am so so upset it is untrue. She was due to fly home alone originally and her MIL was going to have Andrew for the weekend but her mother (MIL's mother) had a fall on Monday and broke her arm at 90 odd so my sister decided to bring Andrew back (YAY) instead of leaving him with her fraught MIL - but all the flights are full, except for BA who want to charge 800 euro :( so it looks as though she will have to stay at home.

Last night Teya had a temperature of 40 and tummy ache which caused her much grief and I was up most of the night with the poor thing, she seems much better today and is adamant that she will do her sport's day today but I can't help but worry that she will make herself feel worse, poor baby. I hope the rain holds off. What a crappy time. At least I can duck out of work to cheer her on later..

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back on the diet wagon! Rubbish, but needs must. So far day 2 of no carbing is going well, I really need to get out and run but where is my mojo?! God knows, all I know is that I do not fancy it at the moment, probably due to stress, which is daft because I know that I would feel better if I got out there.

Riggy comes home on Thursday with Andrew and I cannot wait! I have missed them so very much and cannot wait to have a good old chit chat over a glass of bubbly. Need to sort out what we are doing and most importantly what I am cooking (obvs the diet will go out of the window at the weekend, but hey the 80/20 rule) Thursday night I think I will do an 'english' mezze of her fav dishes, not an italian dish in sight! I plan to do, bread, cheeses, big feta and broad bean salad, smoked salmon, asparagus and goat's cheese tart, kettle chips and homemade dips (coronation dip and sweet chilli and creme fraiche) and some twice baked potatoes, that should do the trick! Oh and a cheese cake I think, but need to locate a recipe...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I think I must be one of the only people in the country to is very happy NOT to be going to see Take That in concert. Everywhere I turn there are people gushing about the TT tour, the radio, Facebook, Twitter and even my local friends, they are all going crazy for it! Not that I want to sound too much like a grumpy old lady but I really cannot abide them - dullmcdull in my book. Foo Fighters, now I am quite gutted I missed them at Hyde Park recently, that would have been a show worth seeing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

'It's like World War One sponsored by John Lewis' PMSL probably the best quote relating to Glastonbury ever! Too funny. To be fair there is nothing on earth that could even tempt me in to going to Glastonbury, or any other festival for that matter, just NOT MY BAG. Seriously, I wouldn't even bother with the red button, I can't bear the attendees. I am also sneezing like a bastard, in the middle of summer and am feeling rather grumpy about my well being.


I have GREAT news - although I am not allowed to share it.. YET.. Such wonderful news that I heard tonight, just the best news and I am beyond cloud nine for my amazing friends!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Butterscotch Tart

I have been looking for a long time for a perfect BST recipe, it is my daughter's favourite pud and my quest has always been somewhat futile up until now as none of them have quite cut the mustard. However, this one is the absolute best and everyone agrees that it is wonderful! It has become a firm family fav and is top of the treat pudding list.

6oz Caster Sugar
6oz Butter
1 1/2oz plain flour
3 1/2 floz double cream
1tsp vanilla extract (optional - I don't add it)

Mix the sugar and the flour
Melt the butter and add the cream
Bring to the boil
Add the sugar/flour mix
Once the mixture is completely melted pour in to a sweet pastry case
Allow to cool and set and then serve!

Enjoy ;) but beware it is NOT a diet option

Teya eagerly awaiting the pudding (PS that is a bought pastry case, from Waitrose - they are the best ones, life is too short to make pastry IMHO!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I hear that Dermot O'Leary is on Radio 2 this morning... and so I am reminded of last Saturday's antics at FORTYTUDE.. cringing and smiling at the memories, here is a quick recap.

2pm last Saturday Amy, David, Janet and Matt arrived Chez Neill all looking marvellous in their 1940's costumes and armed with vats of wine and beer for the party ahead. We opened the champagne and raised a glass to a child free afternoon and evening of revelry. We had all managed to send our minis off to their grandparents' for the night so it was time to let our hair down.

Taxi arrived at 3.15 and took us over to our venue in Hook Heath. C&I's place looked fabulous, bunting adorned, straw bales in place, the bar set up and even a 40's jeep as one of the props, everyone had made a huge effort and looked great - bright red lipstick and seamed back stockings as far as the eye could see. The wine flowed and we all took up camp under a small gazebo at the top of the very sloping garden - it is at this point that I shall alert you reader to the fact that there had been a LOT of rain - happily there was only one downpour during the party but as a result it was very slippery, something which would make navigating the garden somewhat difficult later on.

The chablis was flowing and the music played, everyone was in post war merriment and there was much laughter and dancing, they also had a fish and chip van come and do the catering which was a brilliant touch. It was shortly after tea that the whole affair began to get messy.. Katie managed to persuade me that the vodka and cranberry juice was a good option and Matthew decided that a great accompaniment to his evacuee outfit was Pat's pink leather gloves.. the carnage started.

Amy fell off her chair, twice - second time in to me taking out the side of the aforementioned gazebo, David took her home at 10pm and when she arrived she promptly fell head first in to the flowerbed! Janet and I staggered around trying to dance but in reality falling down drunk - and then the worst happened, poor Dermot arrived, yes he is a friend of the birthday couple - and after my playing it pretty cool on the 'don't bug the celeb' front - decided that when Janet was trying to get her photo taken, that I would vocalise the fact that he was much shorter in real life than he was on the telly! Oh the shame, he took a huff and stropped off at that (unsurprisingly) I then managed to lose my hold ups, MAC lipstick and umbrella and I have no idea how. I have no recollection of the taxi ride home but we do have some rather shocking pictures of Janet and I covered in mud eating toast at mine at 1am! Oh, we lost Matthew - he fell up some steps, gashed his knee and bumped his head and got his own taxi home at 5am!!! The next morning I was covered in bruises, slightly shocking headache and it took me nearly 36 hours to recover. Was such brilliant fun though - just won't be back on the vodka any time soon...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I am just nipping back to edit - I realise that I haven't updated this since FORTYTUDE and really I must commit the antics of my friends and I to this blog, just for the sheer shame/ amusement factor if nothing else.. this I shall do dear readers, once I have filled in a few more blanks from the event, which incidentally started at 2pm at my house...

It is sale time again - YUK! Horrid time for actually braving the shops, and lethal time to hit the online shopping emporiums... I have tried to stay away from Malene Birger, Whistles and Ted Baker (to name a few) but the discounts are soooo tempting. Still hankering after the Plumo Biba scarf but TBH it is only actually reduced by £5 once you add the P&P so I should really have bought it with the discount code they sent me ages ago... Anyway the only things that I would really love are a fabulous quality black tee and a pair of black ankle boots - flat ones - neither of these things appear to exist, well not exactly what I am after (well I did find a stunning tee but all sold out @ BMB). Loads of 'stuff' I would like but so far so good, I have been a good girl.

Furious with H&M who seem to have sent my most recent order to a random address and it is lost! Not that I think I will ever get chance to wear the white shorts that I ordered at the end of MAY but still - so far their customer service is proving next to useless. Will have to pick up the phone I think..

Monday, June 13, 2011

After a fun filled weekend supporting our village at the scarecrow fair on Saturday and a fabulous curry supper at friends' house yesterday it is sadly back to Monday again.. Great news though, the school's entry of William Shakespere won first prize and we are thrilled, and very proud of Mrs Wilson's efforts.

This week is so busy, I am off to Gloucester and Heathrow (sadly just for a meeting, not jetting off..) tomorrow and Wednesday - hopefully meeting up with the gorgeous Miss Birley tomorrow pm - I am chairing my first Safeguarding meeting Wednesday night at the school, Thursday it is Teya's class assembly (she is a dancer!) and Friday I am meeting up with old friend Simon to discuss my new plan for business expansion.. Talking of which I MUST get my ass in to gear and actually do my website, at the moment looks shocking!

Then it is rev up for a whole day and night's partying at FORTYTUDE.. need to sort hairstyle and book taxi (note to self)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

This weather is quite frankly, depressing. I am trying to remain positive and summery but I have reverted to my cardigan and scarf teamed with ballet pumps as a nod to the season - gah, either chuck it down or brighten up - I cannot be doing with this!

It is our Village Scarecrow Festival on Saturday - an event that gets better every year and we are really looking forward to it! We are not doing one but shall be supporting everyone who enters and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone's efforts. The theme is famous Katherine and Williams so it should be fun. Jo W is doing the school's entry - and we still don't know what it will be. The Pimms tent is always a hit too, so roll on Saturday and lets hope Mr Sunshine appears just in time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I am 32! I had an interesting birthday weekend, some parts amazing and some not so fun, but I am a year older and maybe wiser, so hey.. I got an Alex Munroe necklace and a pair of Tom Ford sunnies from my darling husband and the kids which knocked me for six, I was very chuffed. My lovely friends gave me some super gifts too, I got a clarins lip gloss, a beautiful contemporary decanter, some tops, a Bruno Mars CD (from J&J to remind us of our holiday!) and some lovely bottles of wine too - I am a very lucky lady.

It was Josh's Baptism on Sunday and despite the downpour it was a wonderful day. I wore a chiffon warehouse black dress and pink heels (which I swapped for silver flats as soon as I could!) and I carried my stunning Marc Jacobs cream clutch that I got for my Sister's wedding, the kids and Kev all looked stunning in their smart outfits too and I was very proud of my little lot that day. The Woollett's put on a great do and all the kids were so well behaved, was fab, and I felt very humbled.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Happy June everyone! The sun is shining and it is 3 days until I am 32... for now I am just cracking on with finishing all the work that I have to do before my weekend starts at 5pm tomorrow, yippeee! Currently doing a basket dance with a pair of Tory Birch pumps that I have been lusting after for AGES (see entry in March blog I think?!) as a pressie to me - I have no idea what my hubs has got me, he hasn't even asked what I would like this year, and is being very mysterious as to what he has got...

I was planning to start the 17 day diet today (as seen in the Sunday Times style mag this Sunday) but I rather feel it futile seeing as there is a weekend of excess looming.. all the weight I lost for hols is starting to creep back- ironically since I returned from Florida, so it is time to be good again. Last week I ran 3 times though and have done once this week so the exercise is no biggie, its the food and wine in abundance that get me, ah well.

My 40's style Antik Batik dress arrived from Ebay, super purchase for £10! It was a vile bright orange but my darling mum has dyed it bitter chocolate and it looks great now, just need to hit primark for a tonne of pearls and dig out the seambacked stockings (god knows when they last had an outing) and I will be all set to party at FORTYTUDE on the 18th June in celebration of C&I's 40th birthdays..

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My latest furniture project, not too demanding this one, but new sideboard for my kitchen, the space where the old wine fridge was - I am going to replace the handles with stainess steel versions but I can live with them for now! I am really pleased with it (excuse the TV wire!) top one is before.. below after - cleaned, sanded, top primed and painted in Farrow and Ball's All White

No word on my neighbour.. haven't seen his wife either so can only assume that she is spending a lot of her time with him at the hospital, I do hope he is on the mend and home soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just wanted to big up this facial tanner from Chanel, Soleil Identite - this is my third summer of using this stuff and I love it! Gives you a very natural glow, doesn't have a whiff about it and it lasts me all summer long. Highly recommend it

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am not really the praying kind - not wholly sure why, I have never been hugely religious (despite my stint as a chapel prefect at my good private CofE boarding school, the only time readers that I would ever bear prefect after my name, and really it was only because there were a limited number of us and I think it gave way to the smoking/drinking guilt that I didn't harbour in sixth form - anyhow, I digress) but never opposed either, I hope for a greater good and I want to bring my kids up with 'faith' but I am sorry to say that I am not entirely sure what that means. I do love going to the services now (maybe smugface that I know all the words to hymns due to my ridiculous talent that is retaining lyrics to any song I hear from Rutter to Lady GaGa) and am happy to bring my children up as members of the church but sometimes I feel, quite frankly, lost in it all.

What I do know is that it is late and I am pondering. My dear next door neighbour was taken ill whilst we were in Florida and further to a number of doctor and hospital visits over the past weeks - this evening we have seen the emergency ambulance arrive outside their house. Quite honestly I feel incredibly scared about what happens next. Two of my incredibly dear friends have lost their dearly loved ones in the last 10 days and my heart breaks for them, it is just so very sad and their sense of loss must be immense, I only hope I can be a good friend when they need me, and a sympathetic shoulder.

To the lovely Bob next door, a wonderful man who always has a spring in his step and an amusing anecdote to tell - a loving husband, father and grandfather and someone who needs to remain with us for a good while yet. So, I guess I pray, or maybe I just hope, but I really want to see his bubbly self restored to our village very soon - get well Bob, lots of people are rooting for you xxx