Monday, 22 March 2010

The weekend round up

There has been bad and good.
I won't go into the bad.
It's not really my story to tell.
But it has once again made me appreciate how you should never take life for granted.

And so, onto the good.

I have been getting the washing dry on my new line.
After getting drying envy all over blogland I took matters into my own hands and, rather than waiting for my husband, I put it up myself. Not sure how long it will stay up (knots aren't my strong point) but so far it has survived.

My rhubarb is shooting...

...and please note the rest of the weed free, freshly dug vegetable plot in the background.

Smug? You bet I am! It was so pleasant being out in the garden, all on my own with the sun shining down on my back and only birdsong and church bells to punctuate the silence.

I've even set up the electric propagator and planted my cucumber, tomato and aubergine seeds. This is very much an experiment for me, so fingers crossed something will grow eventually.

On Sunday we shared a romantic champagne afternoon tea for two at Rookery Hall, a much appreciated Christmas gift from my husband's brother and his wife. If you're interested in celebrity stuff, this is where Posh and Becks announced their engagement. Can't say that sells it to me, but I remember the local papers being full of it at the time!

Oh, and at some point we made homemade hobnobs using this recipe. I've been too busy eating them to take any photographs, but they are delicious and have had the thumbs up from the whole family and a couple of my son's friends as well.

But today it was back to work and all that entails. I won't bore you (or me) with the details.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lunchtime escapades (part 1)

One of the advantages of working in the city centre is the wealth of different places you can explore in your lunch hour.

I have certain favourites and, just recently, I revisited one that had fallen off my radar a little since we moved offices to the other side of town.

The Manchester Craft and Design Centre is a former Victorian fish market, tucked away in the Northern Quarter, which houses a range of independent studios making and selling jewellery, textiles, ceramics, paintings, photographs and all sorts of other treasures. And there's a rather nice little cafe as well.

The last time I was there I noticed this little thing going on:

Yarnbombing, apparently.

The idea is that lots of different people, from all around the world, submit a piece of knitting 7cmx40cm and they continue to build this exhibit until it covers the whole banister.

As a complete non-knitter how long do you think it would take me to learn and complete a piece that size? Or am I just being completely ridiculous for even contemplating it?!

If you do ever visit, check out Linzi Ramsden's ceramic studio. I have been coveting some of her wall plaques forever.

And, if you do happen to be in the Northern Quarter and you're feeling a little peckish, might I suggest a stop off at Bread and Butter.

It's next to Rags to Bitches, a vintage clothes shop that will probably warrant a post all to itself at some point, and it serves tea in vintage china cups and saucers, pretty little fairy cakes and a very wicked chocolate Guinness cake. Sadly, it's a bit too far from my new office for me to go to regularly, but every now and again it is definitely worth the hike.

Monday, 15 March 2010

How fickle am I?

A couple of weeks ago I was going to write a ranting post about the price of beauty or some such of a title.

You see I'd picked up a copy of In Style and was perusing their 100 best beauty buys for 2010.
Well, I'm not getting any younger and if you're going to buy lotions and potions you may as well buy the ones that come highly recommended. Or not.

It would seem that the current skincare du jour is from Sisley. A mere £218 for their anti-aging cream and the night cream's a snip at £435. One reviewer commented that her friends asked if she'd had botox after she started using it. Is that a good thing? And anyway, wouldn't botox be cheaper?

So, I settled for my usual cheaper and cheerful regime and resigned myself to wrinkles - at least that way I wouldn't have to put the kids on eBay.

But then today I got an email from the Beauty Bible. Ages ago I'd volunteered to be a tester for them and then promptly forgotten all about it. But now they need me. Yes, they are specifically looking for over 35s to test the latest and greatest new products on.

The deal goes something like this. I pay them £30 to cover admin, postage and packing and I get 10 products worth substantially more and a load of forms to fill in. Hopefully, I'll also emerge at the end of it all transformed into a vision of radiance.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. No pictures though - I doubt any cream will be able to work those kind of miracles!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Flowers, finds and behind the times

Now, I can't seem to manage to keep my posts in anything like real time so you'll just have to bear with me.

It's Saturday morning, so naturally I'm going to share my Thursday with you.

Oh, and a bit of something from a couple of weeks ago.

But first, Thursday - market day and gloriously sunny.

I'm still a bit shy about whipping my camera out at every opportunity but I did manage to capture my favourite flower stall (with my favourite butcher's shop in the background).

As a secret thank you for their unknown participation I made a purchase from each - yellow tulips for my special tulip vase (bought from an auction many years ago and I still love it) and beef sausages from the butcher.

As an aside, and more to remind myself, I concocted the sausages into a rather lovely tea by roasting them in a big tin with some little potatoes, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, olive oil and whatever herbs I had hanging around - very tasty. No picture though - it was wolfed down far too quickly!
Thursdays are also my days for a quick rummage round the charity shops. This week I found a little something which I'm keeping to share at a later date, but it reminded me that I haven't bragged to you all about my part in the sudden arrival of all this glorious spring weather.
You see about 2 weeks ago I found myself a new Winter coat in the charity shop. A big, thick, incredibly warm, fake fur coat - the kind that I have needed for my daily trek to the station throughout this long, cold winter. So I snapped it up and...lo and behold the sun came out. And it's pretty much been shining ever since.
I'm not complaining though - it's given me plenty of chance to air the beast in it's natural(ish) environment!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Getting away from it all

I'm going to wax lyrical about the Lake District - for the first time this year.
There will be more you see, we go there quite a lot.
Partly because my husband is one of the few fellrunners that lives in the flatlands of Cheshire, partly because we have friends in Cumbria and partly because it's just so damned lovely.

This first trip of the year was probably the most civilised - the annual weekend in Keswick with the in-laws. We stayed in a hotel and everything.

We had a deluxe four poster dog room.

We saw snow on the fell tops.

We saw lots of blue sky...

...and spring flowers...

...and lovely views.

And I felt the warmth of the sun on my face for the first time this year as we sat by the river and watched the children skimming stones.

I'm looking forward to our next trip up the M6 already.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Lessons in parenting: part 1

Tuesday is always a long day.
I leave home at 7.30am to walk to the train station.
I work all day and then get the train home again.
My mother and father-in-law, who kindly look after the children on Tuesdays, pick me up from the station and drive me and my daughter to her swimming club.
I deposit her in the pool and then run across the grounds to get changed for my Pilates class.
The instructor is very tough.
She makes us do the plank and roll down to push ups and shoulder bridges and the 100.
But we do get a few minutes relaxation at the end.
Then I go back to the pool.
My daughter has usually left her coat in the changing room.
I wait while she goes to get it.
And then we start the long walk home.
And we usually fall out.
She dawdles behind me. She drags her feet. She gets grumpy when I ask her a question. She strops. I snap. She sulks. I moan.
She's tired from an hour of intensive swimming.
I'm tired after a day at work.
We're both hungry.
We don't get home until at least 8.30pm.
But this week it was different.
We walked home together amicably. We chatted about school and swimming and our plans for the weekend.
As I put her bed later I remarked upon this change and thanked her for making the evening so much more pleasant. I must have wondered aloud about how it was different.
"Well mummy," she said. "YOU didn't do anything to ANNOY me this week."