Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Olympic Tickets

Well, £366 has been taken from our bank account by the Olympic ticket people; either that or we've been swindled by someone pretending to be them...

I wonder what tickets we've got? How exciting! We applied for sailing at Weymouth (now that we live down this a-way); tennis at Wimbledon; men's hockey; some athletics (can't remember which), and possible either the opening or closing ceremony. I've got a terrible memory, so it's all going to come as a pleasant surprise when we find out exactly which tickets we've been allocated.

Anyone else seen money disappear from their bank account (for all the right reasons!)?

Monday, 30 May 2011

Lyme Regis, and Some New Chickens!

Last Saturday Family W took a trip to Lyme Regis. It was a gloriously sunny day, but with a stiff breeze that necessitated the wearing of layers - strip them off in the sun, pile them back on in the shade, on, off, on, off, a typical "summer" day in Blighty. I'd forgotten just how steep the main street (Bridge Street) is in Lyme, and we managed to park off yet another hill at the top of that one, which did my calf muscles no end of good (although it didn't feel that way at the time) as I pushed the pram along. Pity poor hubby though who had DC perched on his shoulders most of the way.

Our first port of call was Absolutely Cupcakes where hubby & I chose a vanilla (him) and raspberry ripple (me) cupcake; DC didn't get a look in. Bad parents. Or good parents, from the point of view of preserving his teeth and waistline. Then it was down the hill, round the corner to the Blue Lias Gallery for a bit of a nosey at the "competition", and over the road to the beach. Obviously the first thing we had to do was get the packed lunch out: then it was time for a stroll along the prom to the sandy section of the beach where we tried to persuade DC to have a little paddle; but he was having none of it - every time a wave came even barely near lapping his tootsies he would scarper leaving Mummy to pretend that having icey cold sewage between her toes was fun. Clearly the child is a lot brighter than he makes out as only days later Lyme Regis was reported as having the 6th worst beach for water quality (read: sewage content) in the UK.

Feeling the need to recover from our dip in the Channel, it was time to stop for ice cream at a fab little 'kiosk cafe' called Pinky; DC had a little tub of ice cream while hubby had a lemonade and I had a delicious hot choc. Next time though I'm going to make sure I have room for one of the fantastic-looking sundaes that were being paraded past us to the other tables - yuuuuuuuum.

After all the fun beachside, we made our way back up the steep, steep hill with a brief pause along the way to buy a Gazillionaire's Shortbread from Mulberry Manor. I wish I'd taken a photo of it (and the shop) so that you could all join me in drooling over the delicious-ness; possibly one of the nicest of these types of cakes I've had in a long while, although VERY VERY sweet.

On the way home we made a small detour in Axminster to visit Axe Valley Bird and Animal Park where we bought two new chooks to keep poor old Gail company. May I present Betty (grey/black) and Fizz (red/brown). Gail has established the pecking order already, with poor old Fizz languishing at the bottom; but there is very little fighting going on and they all seem to be getting on well. So far.

Monday, 16 May 2011

What's the Buzz?

Last Monday I started my new job at Lazyhill Gallery in Abbotsbury, which is owned by my very good friends Rachel and Gordon. They have decided that I can be trusted with the stock - all of which is handmade in the UK - and with the customers, once a week. So, if you happen to be passing by, or if you're in the vicinity and it's Monday, pop in and say hello! But don't ask me any tricky questions about where the bus stop to Lyme Regis is, or whether it's possible to drive down to Chesil Beach from here, because I'm afraid I don't know the answer. You can, however, ask me what 'giclee' or 'collograph' means.

Lots of lovely things - cards, prints, ceramics, jewellery, bags, scarves - from Snapdragon, Sumptuosity, Cowboys & Custard, Rupert Blamire, Mary Sutton, Stop the Clock Designs, to name but a few of the wonderful designers, crafters and makers who are stocked.

On a completely different note, how's about this for lucky timing. On Friday afternoon DC & I had gone to the swings and were set to meet hubby in our local tea room, Dorothy's, for ice cream/coffee/cake. DC & I got there at 4pm and waited and waited and then we had to leave because DC was being a complete tinker banging his toy cars on the table and shouting and I was getting very embarrassed and more than a little flustered. As I dumped DC uncermoniously in his pram with a sharp "No ice cream for you, young man", who should appear round the corner, walking side by side with a lady in a beekeeping suit, but hubby. As he was making his way to meet DC & I so hubby had come across the bee lady collecting a swarm which had made a home on the side of the vet's practice. Hubby asked what she was going to do with the bees, to which the lady said she wasn't sure but she'd have to get rid of them somewhere. Well, what luck as hubby had just set up his hive and was in need of a swarm; so off they trotted down the road, hubby, the bee lady and the swarm of bees to the hive at the bottom of our garden, and we now have the beginnings of a honey-making production line!

Monday, 9 May 2011

A Week With Granny

On Sunday of last week my mum came to stay to help out with looking after the DC who was only doing a couple of mornings at nursery as part of his settling in period.

On Tuesday, mum, DC and I went to Sherborne, which is now only about a 30min drive away. Such a lovely town, with some great shops. And, a fab bonus is that my cousin Christine and her husband Charlie live there so we got to spend time with them (although only briefly with Charlie as he was at work). We walked down the hill and stopped for ice cream at the deli visited by Daniel Craig at Christmas when he was staying in the area - perhaps I touched the same crackers as he did, or bought the same sausages. Then it was time to walk back up the hill and drive home.

On Wednesday and Thursday DC went to nursery for the morning, giving me the chance to do some work and Granny the chance to recover from all the football she'd been having to play. The drive to nursery is a little more scenic than it used to be, and there's certainly a lot less traffic than we used to have to contend with - the drive now takes 15mins max whereas it used to take about 25mins and that was only if we made sure we'd left the house by 7.40am at the latest. Now we can set off any time and the drive takes the same amount of time.

unless we get stuck behind a tractor...
Thursday afternoon DC and I went to the lovely swings in the village; DC enjoyed the swingsand the slide (try not to lose another tooth, sweetheart...) while I appreciated the gorgeous views out over the surrounding countryside. As we walked back through the village to meet Daddy and Granny at the village tearoom, we happened upon this horse and cart delivering some stone for a roof repair - when we moved down this way, I had no idea we were moving back in time too.

On Saturday we had a lovely day in Bridport and Abbotsbury and then on Sunday we went to the antiques fair at Shepton Mallet, where I bought three French chrome (?) storage tins; saw lots of other lovely things but couldn't spare the hundreds of pounds needed to buy them all...

DC thought his first visit to an antiques fair was cooooool.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Catch-Up: THE Wedding and the Frome Vintage Bazaar

We celebrated the Royal Wedding by joining some of the villagers in the local pub to watch the ceremony. The only problem was that DC, being just two, didn't really have much interest in watching the tv (would have been different, of course, had they been showing back-to-back episodes of Chuggington) so our viewing wad slightly interrupted and curtailed. And even now, over a fortnight on, we've still not had a chance to sit down and watch the highlights recorded that evening (worse still is that the recording clashed, missing the first 30mins which was probably the best bit where all the 'celebrity' guests were arriving. Looks like I'll have to wait for a secondhand copy of Hello to arrive from Granny before I can disect the outfits). For what it's worth, I thought Kate's dress was pretty, but nothing special and sort of an odd shape at waist/hip level, and I thought her bouquet could have been a little larger or just a bit more 'wow' - it seemed a bit lost amidst the grandeur of it all.

After watching what we could of the wedding we made a crown for King Arthur! And doesn't he look absolutely delighted to be wearing it? Not.

He was a bit happier the next day.

In the afternoon it was back up to the high street for the Street Party, complete with live band, skittles, tug-of-war and a hog roast - this is what village life is all about!

On Saturday we went to Frome for the Vintage Bazaar. I'm so pleased that we can go to these now that we live much closer (we're now about a 45min drive away); also I'd never been to Frome before so it was a great chance to explore a town that I've seen featured on other blogs (most notably HenHouse).

The Vintage Bazaar was great and we spent nearly two hours at the Cheese and Grain browsing the stalls as well as refreshing ourselves with a hot drink and a cake each. Hubby bought a wooden trug and I bought a printer's tray in which I will be able to display countless tiny dust-collecting items plus a seersucker tablecloth which reminded me of my Gran's house - all we need is a bowl of pickled onions on the table and I'll be transported right back to the 1970s. Bliss!

After the Bazaar we had a good old wander round Frome, and in particular Catherine Hill where there are some wonderful vintage, antique and retro stores, as well as interiors and clothes shops and cafes galore. Cheap Street, which has a water course running down the middle and is apparently one of Europe's best-preserved Medieval shopping streets, is also lovely, again with some great shops and cafes; I was particularly taken by the frontage of this glorious bookshop.

Then it was time to go head back to our lovely village.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Just Like Being on Holiday!

The start of our first full day in Somerset was spent meeting with the architect and builder round at our actual house. The builders had started work just 24 hours earlier, but already the old conservatory and a number of intneral walls had been demolished, along with the removal of the patio doors and a very large downstairs window.

We then took DC to his new nursery for what should have been a mummy-and-daddy-accompanied 30minute taster session, but what turned out to be a 'go away mummy and daddy, I'm having so much fun why don't you just leave me here to play and come back in a couple of hours' session. Needless to say, we didn't need telling twice and took advantage of a little bit of free time to check out a nearby supermarket and then walk into Ilminster for a browse round the shops and a coffee and cake in one of the cafes.

Ilminster has a few of those shops that time forgot, including the fabulous R.A. Dyer, whose windows were decked out in red, white and blue to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Inside, it's exactly like a very old fashioned department store, all creaking wood floors, wood and glass display cabinets full of proper handkerchiefs, and racks of clothes suitable for demure ladies and gentlemen who still wear suspenders to keep their socks up. We bought DC a new pair of wellies (for his new countryfied life) and were given a hand written receipt while the lady went off to the cash desk, situated in a little wooden booth all of its own in the centre of the store. Fabulous! Here's hubby in the shoe 'department':

I wanted to take more photos inside, but it's one of those places a bit like a library or fusty old museum where you feel very self conscious whipping out a camera/mobile phone and snapping away. Maybe next time.

On Thursday we drove down to see our dear friends R&G in at their wonderful gallery - Lazyhill - in Abbotsbury. Hubby took DC to the Children's Farm while R & I nattered and chattered and generally gossiped the morning away; we then all met up for lunch at the glorious Abbey House; the sun was shining and it was great to sit outside and catch some rays while enjoying crab sandwiches washed down with old-fashioned lemonade. After DC woke up from his nap, we made a move to head back home, but took a slight detour on the way and stopped at the Hive Beach Cafe which is set right on the beach at Burton Bradstock. What a fantastic spot on a gloriouos Thursday afternoon, and how lucky we felt knowing that this is now just a short drive down the road for us, and popping along on a sunny afternoon after nursery/work is exactly the sort of thing we can now do. This is why we made the move!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Start of Our New Life in Somerset

We enjoyed a couple of relaxing days in Wigan with Grandma and Grandad. It was lovely to be reunited with DC and he seemed genuinely pleased and excited to see us too, which was a great feeling. On Monday we went to Cedar Farm Gallery where they keep a few animals - sheep, chickens, pigs - which always amuse DC, and they have a great selection of craft shops (Julie Langan's workshop is there too) a cafe, and a coffee shop. On the way back we stopped off for lunch at the fabulous Yours is the Earth cafe/deli in Parbold, and we then dropped hubby off at the Honda garage to pick up our very brand spanking new car. Ooooo, how we likey likey!
On Tuesday morning we went into Wigan to make the most of our vicinity to the high-street stores which we might not find out in the countryside! First stop was the O2 phone shop where I swapped my contract from Orange due to the latter not having much signal strength in deepest south Somersetshire; then it was on to M&S where we piled the trolley high in anticipation of there being no food available in rural parts... The final stop was Starbucks, in anticipation... you get the picture! Then it was time to load up the cars, say goodbye to Grandma and Grandad and set off for Somerset. Now that we take a new route home from Wigan, we were able to call in and se Granny in Bristol on the way through, a good opportunity for DC to play football with Granny and for us to have a drink, a bite to eat and a bit of a rest. Then it was onwards and southwards, and time for DC to see his new home (for the next six months or so) for the first time. Luckily he didn' seem too fazed to find his cot, toys, clothes, teddies in an entirely new setting, and he went to bed and his normal time with the minimum of fuss; he woke once in the night with a little shout out to us, but once reassured that Mummy and Daddy were nearby went back to sleep til 8am the following morning.

Welcome to Somerset!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Somerset, London, Wigan

Thursday morning the removal men were back with us bright and early, and by 9.30am we had packed the last of our bits and bobs, said goodbye to the house and Reading, and were on the road to Somerset.

By about 3pm the removal men had us unpacked and were gone, leaving us to enjoy the peace of our new (rental) home in the lovely village of Hinton St George. Hubby and I worked hard over the next few hours to get as much unpacked as possible and to get DC's room ready. We did a great job (if that doesn't sound immodest) and had a lot of clothes, kitchen items, furniture and all sorts of other things in the right places by the time the evening came round. We also had the chicken in her run in the garden of the house we've bought which is about a 2 minute walk round the corner. At 7.30pm we walked along to our local pub The Lord Poulett Arms where we had a fabulous meal. But by 9pm we were flagging and had to head home; we watched Coronation Street on the laptop (Sky only got fitted the following morning) and then headed to bed.

Friday we did more unpacking, furniture moving, had Sky fitted (VERY important!), etc etc and we also had to do a little bit of re-packing as at 2pm we left the tranquility of our new village to head back into the fray and drive up to London for a wedding (but not THE wedding!) Took about 3 hours to get there and we checked into a lovely hotel right opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum - what a brilliant location! We literally threw our bags in our room and headed straight back out again; we had a wander round the museum and then made the most of the glorious weather by sitting in the museum's John Madeski Garden (not a football in sight).I then left hubby enjoying his book, a cuppa and a scone and went for a bit more of a look round the museum and in particular the shop. Once we were both fully refreshed in mind and body we took a walk along the road to Harrods. It was about 7pm by this time and as we headed straight for the foodhall, I remarked to hubby on the chances of Harrods having any 'yellow labels' (ie reduced price food); well, would you believe it, it was 'buy one, get one free' on the cake counter and it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it?! We then took a walk around the rest of the foodhall areas and were sorely tempted by the smells coming from the pizzeria, but at £16 each, we decided to forego the delights of a Harrods pizza. We also decided not to partake of this particular brand of tea; hubby has decided to stick with Yorkshire for the time being.With our mouths watering we headed a little further along the road to Harvey Nichols with the intention of enjoying some fare from Yo Sushi, but along the way we were sidetracked by the Champagne Cocktail Bar and, since we were enjoying a child-free weekend, it seemed a shame not to partake of a cheeky drink - yum! We did manage to limit ourselves to just one cocktail each and then enjoyed some delicious Yo Sushi offerings. By 10pm we were happy to head back to our hotel.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny yet again, and we headed out early to enjoy a little more of London before we had to head off to the wedding. We walked up to Hyde Park and through to the Lido cafe next to the Serpentine, a lovely spot to enjoy coffee and cake on such a glorious day. On the way back I dipped a toe in the Princess Diana Memorial water thingy - absolutely freeeezing!

Then it was time to get our gladrags on and head to the wedding which was being held in the Orangery at Holland Park; what a fabulous place, especially on such a lovely, sunny, blue-sky day. Once the ceremony had finished we gathered outside on the lawn to enjoy champagne (lots of it), canapes and afternoon tea. Then we went off on a two-hour Routemaster bus tour of London, which was great; we learnt lots of interesting facts (did you know London postcodes are plotted outwards from Trafalgar Square?) and saw many places we'd never really noticed before - Westminster Cathedral, for eg. We then had a couple of hours free (we spent them in Costa as a torrential rain storm cut short our plan to have a little walk) before heading to a lovely French restaurant for the six-course wedding breakfast. At about 11pm we snuck away feeling pooped, and leaving the rest of the guests to party (til 4am, apparently!)

On Sunday morning we made a quick visit to the V&A to buy DC a little gift, and to Patisserie Valerie to buy cakes before setting off on the three-hour drive to Wigan, where DC had been spending some quality time with Grandma and Grandad.