Lunch with an old friend

I have had a lovely day today. I meet up with a dear friend who used to be a work colleague until she retired 4 years ago. We went for lunch at Packington Moor. This is a cafe attached to a farm shop which sells free range pork products. Quality meat, but a touch on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for I suppose.  I had the pork, stuffing and applesauce sandwich with side salad and chunky chips. It was delicious. Whilst we were putting the world to right, another two of my former work colleagues came in, I hadn’t seen either of them for around 10 years. Many years ago the three of us worked together and had our first children all around the same time, we all had Daughters. It made me feel positively ancient to hear they are all learning to drive. Where did those years go?

I’m back!

I haven’t blogged for a while, I came to the conclusion that I do not want my personal thoughts laid bare for the world to see. What I hadn’t factored in was that what I do like about blogging is that it is a record of my life and it’s nice to look back and remember those times. I started a diary back in 1985 when I was 14 years old and continue to write  one everyday right up until I was 21 – it was only when we sold my parents house back in 2011 that I decided that it was time to get rid of them. I read them for one last time before it was time to let them go. Reading back over the pages, my memories came flooding back and I could remember each and every day as if it were yesterday.

Since my last entry, my family and I have been on holiday to Rome. We had great time seeing all the sights. We purchased tickets for the hop on / hop off buses which gave us ample opportunity to spend as much time as we like wandering around without being too harsh on our feet.

My Husband and I also went with our friends to the 80’s invasion concert at Birmingham Town Hall. We had great seats, three rows from the front. Old favourites: Curiosity killed the cat, Nick Heywood, Midge Ure and Big Country were in the line up and they all were still able to get the crowd going. It was a great night.

 

Gratitude

Today while I was out and about at work it felt like I experienced all manner of weather. My day started off walking the dog with grey skies and a slight drizzle of rain.  Then it started raining heavily and I got caught three times in a rain shower, but around 11am, it started snowing. There were the largest snowflakes I have seen in a long time, thick flurries, which swirled and danced around. I felt like I wanted to stop the car and take a picture as it was so beautiful. I could have easily been in a film set as these snowflakes didn’t appear real. Then this afternoon, the skies cleared and the sun poked it’s head out. It really was a weird day for weather.

This evening when I came home from work, I sat looking at my phone, when I discovered an app I download a few weeks ago called gratitude. I decided it was time I looked for the things I am grateful for today.

  1. The snow – it didn’t settle thankfully, but for half an hour it looked truly magical.
  2. Coming home to a clean house. I know, I know having a cleaner is hardly frugal, but I cut back on lots of things so that I can have this luxury. My Husband and I work hard, so it’s our treat. I want to spend my days off work doing things with my family not doing chores.
  3. Happy children – both my Daughters are happy souls, both enjoy school /  college, and try their best and that’s all I can ask for really.
  4. Having a Husband who is a truly decent man, he makes me happy, shares everything equally and cooks me food. I know I am very lucky.
  5. my dog – she’s big, smelly and sometimes a absolute pain in the bum, but I love her dearly and she brings me so much joy.
  6. Having a house which I can afford, where I look forward to coming home to every day.
  7. Going on holidays with my family – again I cut back on lots of things so that I can afford holidays. We have travelled the world as a family, we have experienced so many different cultures, tasted a huge variety of foods, and even learned the odd phrase or two in a number of different languages.
  8. My friends – I am an only child, so I have made up for my lack of siblings but filling my life with friends. They are the only reason we haven’t packed up and moved to a different country.

I could go on, but I am going to try my best to keep up to date with the gratitude app – it reminds me to look for the good in the things I have in my life and never to compare myself to others, because I have enough and that makes me very happy.

Wet Wet Wet

imageLast Friday night DH and I travelled to the NEC to see Wet Wet Wet in concert. We bought the tickets for each other as our anniversary present last year. Normally I moan rather a lot about the cost of parking and the long wait for a bus / long walk  to the venue. However, some friends that we were meeting there suggested we park in the car park at the new resort world as this is much cheaper and closer. As a result we only paid £2 to park instead of the usual £10 and hardly had any distance to walk either – result!!!! Wet Wet Wet we great as usual, and considering I am not a massive fan I worked out that I have seen them live more times than any other artist.

We decided to return to resort world to have a look at the shops. It is a new retail shopping outlet with numerous shops and restaurants. The old me would have spent a fortune in those shops, buying clothes I didn’t really need because they were a bargain and items for the house, just because I could. However, this time I didn’t spend a penny shopping, we had a nice afternoon browsing the stores but didn’t feel the need to buy anything, and I am pleased to say that I am no longer attracted to something because of the label that’s on it – in fact I have gone completely the other way and I am shocked at the prices of designer clothing because in my opinion they just are not worth the money. How times change!!!

National trust.

image.jpegYesterday we decided to make use of our National trust membership. We took a packed lunch and a flask of coffee and headed off to Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton. It is a lovely old house stuffed to the rafters with William Morris paraphenalia. DD2 brought her friend along and they throughly enjoyed themselves splashing through the puddles and mud  and following the orienteering trail around the gardens. They flew the kite, had a game of frisbee and even attempted climbing a tree. This is what I love about the National Trust, with our membership we can gain entry into all of the properties but there is a big focus on encouraging children to get out in the fresh air. There is a project for children called ’50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4’s’. Children are given a book and every time they complete one of the tasks they get a sticker for their book. DD2 has been doing this for over 2 years and has almost completed all the tasks. The tasks include, playing pooh sticks, geocaching, climbing trees, making mud pies, flying kites, catching falling leave, the list is endless. And the best part of visiting a National Trust property……….. They all seem to have the most fantastic tea rooms. A slice of cake and a cup of tea are our treat at the end of a long day.

Half term

I try my best to get the school Holidays off work so that I can spend time with my DD’s . Unfortunately I was not able to do this this half term as there were too many of us wanting it. DD1 does not seem to mind as she tends to spend most of her free time with her boyfriend. DD2 has spent the week with her grandparents. Today was the first day this week I had off and I planned to take her to the cinema – odeon do a kids club and its £2.50 each to watch a children’s film. Today’s choices were Kung fu panda and hotel Transylvania 2 – I planned to take our own pop corn and drink. Except this morning she decided that she did not want to go, nor did she want to go out anywhere else or have a friend round to play. She wanted to spend the day at home, playing board games and watching her favourite programmes. This turned out to be a much more frugal day than I planned.

We used up what was in the fridge for lunch and enjoyed baked potatoes. She had the half can of baked beans and some grated cheese from the freezer, while I made some tuna mayonnaise. We listened to my old school friend who is now a DJ on BBC radio Coventry whilst we ate our dinner and played games. While she was watching her programmes I sat reading the MSE forum ‘lots more sneaky ways to save the pennies’ thread. I have been dipping into this for quite some time now and I am about half way through the 105 pages of tips. I have been putting some of the ideas to good use. Last nights pasta was put into a pan of boiling water with the lid on and then left to cook for 25 minutes with the gas turned off. It produced a lovely pasta which had a silky texture and not at all over cooked. I fully intend to implement a lot more of the tips on this website.

 

 

Valentine’s Day

imageI was awoken by my children, jumping on my bed wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day and also curious to see if Cupid had left anything for them. Of course he had!!! I have always sent them a card on Valentine’s Day as it’s nice to remind them that they are loved. I know many people feel that it’s just another day for shopkeepers to make money and that it’s wrapped up in commercialism, but for us it’s a bit of fun. This year I gave them tickets for the theatre to see Mary Poppins. I know this might seem a little extravagant, but they were tickets I bought earlier in the year, which I kept quiet about and thought it would be nice to give them as a present. They were delighted. I also bought them a net of chocolate hearts and some red bubble bath from the pound shop – so the day cost me £5 for the girls including their cards and I also bought DH some guylian chocolates from the pound shop and a card from card factory, bringing my total up to £7 for all three of them. DH and I agreed that the tickets we have bought to see Rod Stewart would be our Valentine’s gifts to each other. I know, some people say that we don’t need a special day to tell someone we love them, because we should be saying it everyday. We do – it’s just a bit of fun. We never go out for a meal on Valentine’s Day – but we always cook a three course meal for the 4 of us and I lay the table, make some menus, light some candles and play a bit of music – it makes it special and we don’t waste lots of money eating in rammed restaurants, and having to wait ages for 2nd rate food because the chef can’t handle the numbers of people. I hope my children will look back when they are older and remember times like these fondly.

Pancake day.

Our family is all about spending time together and enjoying traditions. Pancake day is one of those traditions we love. Tonight for tea we enjoyed a savoury galette filled with smoked salmon and sour cream and then for dessert we had pancakes filled with sliced banana, vanilla ice cream and drizzled with honey. Cheap cheerful and absolutely delicious. We have a creperie close by, but it is extremely expensive, so I just have a look at what they have on their menu and copy their ideas.

My friends Son has passed his driving test – I am so pleased for him as it will give him independence. It only seems 5 minutes ago that she told me that she was pregnant with him – they grow up so fast. He is another lucky one to have a fairly new car bought for him. My friend and I laughed at the fun we had in our first cars and what old bangers they were. Kids these days  really don’t know they are born!

Kung hei fat choi!

imageToday marks the start of the New Chinese year of the monkey. In our household, the little red dragon visits and leaves red envelopes filled with chocolate gold coins for my DD’s. I started this tradition when they were small and now even though know Mummy is the little red dragon, they still love to wake up to their red envelopes. I usually hang some Chinese lanterns around the conservatory, just for a bit of fun. This is a busy week for traditions, as tomorrow is pancake day and Sunday is Valentine’s Day.

Things appear to have settled down at work, now things are organised, tempers are less frayed and there appears to be harmony within the new team. Long may it continue this way.

Peace and quiet.

DH had to stay overnight in London last nights it was his companies national Christmas do! DD2 also had a sleepover at her friends house and DD1 spent most of the evening at her boyfriends house. I had a rare evening to myself – it was sheer bliss. I watched a DVD while I sat working on the memory books at the dining table. It was lovely and relaxing. Then I spent the rest of the evening reading. No TV, no noise, just me and the dog curled up on the sofa.

I spent most of the day at my friends house – we went out for lunch and a good natter. She is one of my oldest friends – we went to primary and secondary school together and then onto college. We lost contact for over 20 years, but got back in touch in 2008 through Facebook, and we see each other at least once a month. It’s lovely to have my old friend back – we have so many memories and we are alike in so many ways.