Saturday, 22 December 2012

Struck Down by the Lurgy

URRGGHHHH. Thank goodness we've been super-organised for Christmas this year because if we'd left any or all arrangements til this week then I don't think we'd have got very far.

On Sunday I started feeling very cold, even though the heating was on and it wasn't particularly chilly; Monday I felt ok and ventured up to the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol for a last bit of Christmas shopping and a general nosey around. Tuesday I started feeling unwell, and by Wednesday morning it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed for half an hour before collapsing back under the duvet, where I stayed until the postman woke me up knocking on the door at 1pm. After a shower, I then spent the rest of the afternoon dozing on the sofa in between swallowing various drugs while dear hubby entertained DC. Thursday was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday. Luckily by yesterday morning I was feeling brighter, although still rather worn out and with a nasty cough/sore throat. Having Googled my symptoms, I came to the conclusion that, as well as various tropical and deadly diseases, I had the flu. And it wasn't very nice. Thank goodness it really only seemed to have me hard in its grasp for about 48 hours.

So, there you have my latest excuse for being a dreadful blogger at the moment; what with the photo-uploading issues, I really haven't done very well this month and I don;t expect it will get any better over the next week or so now that Christmas and New Year are nearly upon us. So, I shall take this opportunity to wish you all a very

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

We've Been on Holiday! Part I

So, Flickr + Blogger seems to be the way forward if I want to add photos to my posts; the only downside is that it's taking me ages! There may be an easier/quicker way than the one I'm taking and, if so, I hope to find it soon; but, in the meantime, here's the start of some holiday posts.

We are back and totally refreshed from just over two weeks in the US of A. We started with 10 days in Orlando and ended with five days in New York City. The weather in Florida was lovely - a little cool the first couple of days (ie light jacket during the day/coat in the evening weather), but it soon warmed up to be in the mid 70s to low 80s farenheit, which was just tippity top (I'm not a fan of anything much warmer than that, unless I'm lying in the shade with a cool drink in hand and no toddler to run around after.) It was decidedly cooler in NY (as was to be expected), in the mid 40s, although on our final day we were walking round Central Park in shirt sleeves as the sun beat down and the mercury topped 60F - a wonderful way to end our trip.

Our flight over was fabulous as there were only 84 passengers on the entire plane - it worked out that everyone could pretty much have a row to themselves. It also meant that we didn't have to worry about DC disturbing people with any possible toddler antics, although in the end we needn't have worried as he behaved impeccably throughout the entire 9hr flight (thank goodness); here he is engrossed in his Peppa Pig comic.
And here's a shot of the Dorset coastline with Portland Bill below the clouds.

We spent our first full day at Downtown Disney as an easy introduction to the madness of themeparkworld. Basically this is just a mass of Disney shops and eateries all crammed into one area around a lake. They may as well have a sign above the entrance saying "Deposit your dollars here". At least there's no entrance fee... We spent our first dollars in the Lego store, followed by a few more in World of Disney (the largest Disney store in the world)
We bought one of these (but don't tell DC as we bought it secretly for his Christmas present - it's some sort of Toy Story Buzz Lightyear grabbing hand thing - don't ask.)
And we ended up with two of the Jack Sparrow swords because, really, what's the point of one sword in a fight?!?

We then spent more $$ in the next toy shop along and a few on some lunch. Luckily by mid-afternoon we were all flagging and it was time to head back to our villa where our credit cards took a well-earned rest.

The following day we were ready to take Disney by the horns (or should that be 'by the mouse-ears'?) with a trip to one of the four theme parks: Hollywood Studios. Our first view on arriving was this rather incongruous palm tree/Christmas tree combo:

Eeegads, what a nightmare - it was busy, it was crowded, it was hot, it was expensive, there were queues
- it was everything you expect a theme park to be and much, much more. It was the absolute lowlight of our entire trip, so we're glad we got it out of the way at the beginning! Admittedly it was Thanksgiving Week and we had been warned by books and websites that it would be busy, so it didn't come as a surprise to see wait times of 1h 30m to go on a ride/rollercoaster so we just kept on moving and grabbed a couple of FastPass tickets that enabled us to go on the rides at a set time without queuing. Hubby was happy that we got to ride the Star Tours (ie Star Wars) ride, and DC & I enjoyed it too. And DC was happy when we went on the Toy Story ride, which certainly cheered him up after he burst into tears upon coming face-to-face with the 'real' Buzz and Woody earlier in the day. It was all looking so promising when we started to queue:
But the mother in me should have realised what the hand-in-mouth, glazed expression meant:
I have no photos of the infamous meet-and-greet that I care to share with the world! And I'm also going to end this post now before I run out of patience with Flickr; hopefully I'll be back tomorrow full of vigour and vim...

Attempting to Solve the Photo Dilemma

I'm working on it! TopChelseaGirl over at How Soon Is Now? is having the same problem as me, having also reached her limit on photo storage. She left a comment for me and also mentioned it on her blog, which led to another comment from one of her readers suggesting that she use Flickr to store and then upload photos.

So, guess who just opened themselves a Flickr account and started uploading the holiday snaps? Yes, me; jump-er on-er of bandwagons.

If it works, prepare to be inundated with photo-laden posts.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

I'm Still Here

Here I am, waving frantically - can you see me?

We've been away on holiday and while I was very organised and scheduled some posts to appear while we were away I didn't schedule any for when we got back thinking, wrongly it turns out, that I'd been able to get back into the swing of blogging as soon as we touched down on Tuesday.

I started writing a post yesterday, all ready and willing to tell you about our little trip but I hit a bit of a hurdle when Google told me I've reached my limit for adding/storing photos for free (1GB); that means I now have to start paying a little each month to add photos to my blog :(

Still, you're worth it, and what's a blog without photos? So, this afternoon I remembered to bring my debit card up to my office so that I could purchase my extra 5GB (should keep me going a while) and get back to photo-laden blog posts, except that Google seems to be experiencing some technical difficulties and won't allow me to buy the storage at the moment.

So, I just wanted to let you all know that I am here and normal, technicolour service will be resumed just as soon as Google will allow.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Autumn Colours

Just a short post to share with you the beautiful autumn colours of the trees along one of the roads into our village.

This is the route we take to get DC to/from nursery, so we pass this way three days (six times) a week.
It's wonderful to watch the foliage change with the seasons.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Printer's Tray

In May last year - yes, it was that long ago - I bought a printer's tray at one of the Frome Vintage Bazaars. I'd wanted one of these for a while, having seen them featured in home magazines and on blogs. They always look so interesting and, well, homely, filled with small nic-nacs and various bits of 'stuff'. So when I saw this one, I snapped it up. I think I paid £30, which is probably a bit steep, but I'm not very good at haggling.

And this is the wall ear-marked for said printer's tray.

And finally, just 17 months after buying it, the tray was hung.
Apologies for badly-lit photo.
And it was time to start filling it with tiny tat. Except I couldn't really find any.
So, it turns out that the printer's tray (or this one in particular) isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Although Little Red Riding Hood at least has a home.
And does it also give me a licence to go out and indulge in some tiny tat shopping?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Garden Update

Advanced warning: there are a LOT of photos (30+) in this post and they are all about the garden, so feel free to skip this one if you're not into gardening. Alternatively, have a look at the top few photos then scroll to the end to see how things have changed in the course of a year.

We've been working on the garden section by section since we moved in just over a year ago. The latest area to receive the 'hack it or whack it' treatment was a bed next to the patio, to the left of the gravel path and the right of the 'lawn'.

The bed in question can be seen in its original state behind DC below; this photo was taken just after the building work had started in April/May 2011. We even had a palm tree back then (although it was soon removed by the builders to make way for the extension); how very tropical! How very out of place.
More photos of the bed in its early-summer 2011 state.
This photo gives a better idea of the location of the bed in question - it's the one directly behind the blue water butt.
As seen from another angle back in early summer 2011.
And looking from above.
As the extension extended, the builders needed a little more room to work so they removed some of the larger shrubs in the bed to lay out their materials, wheelbarrows, etc. This was fine by us as we knew we would be putting a patio down in that area anyway. This is mid-September 2011.
Once the extension was finished, the patio was laid and we had moved in, the garden looked like this (early October 2011):
Here's my Mum hacking back some unwanted shrubs.
A week or so later and the Demon Barber of the Garden had done her work.

And by Christmas 2011 all the shrubs from the beds on the left and along the fence to the right had been chopped right back; that's when we discovered what a dreadful state the fence was in - clearly the shrubs had been holding it up. Oops. 
February 2012 - time for a new fence!

Then through the spring and early summer the plants began to take hold once more.
April 2012.
June 2012.

At the beginning of July the bed looked like this: full of Johnson's geraniums (at least I think that's the correct name), the beginnings of Japanese anemones, a large fuschia bush and plenty of weeds.
And then towards the end of July it started to look a like this as, over the course of a few days hubby and I (mostly hubby) dug up the plants and weeds, replanting the plants we wanted (the fuschia, a hellebore and a seedum) and giving/throwing away the ones we didn't (ie those darn geraniums and anemones.)
Oh, and we found a lovely big rock right in the middle of the bed. V useful.
Here's DC and one of the chooks getting in on the action next to the fuschia bush.
And finally, the bed was empty.
Daddy rakes the soil while DC stands all over it. Nice work.
And finally, ready for the grass seed.

And just a couple of weeks later (mid-August), the new grass started to come through.
By mid-October you'd hardly know there's been a bed there, apart from the slightly different shades in the grass.

Compare to one year earlier...
And now, November 2012.
It's lacking character at the moment since so many of the plants have died back for winter, but the grass is looking good, it's a lot tidier without that encroaching bed and gives DC more room to play. Who knows, one day we may reinstate the bed, or do something else in that space but, for now, we have a small boy who loves to run around and play on his swings and his trampoline and his slide and we need the grass for that!