Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Holidays

(picture by O)*

Tomorrow we will drive South to spend time with my family.

Hope you have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

*our little tree which has now started shedding needles, especially because inevitably the cats have been systematically removing the baubles. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Keswick - Oct 2011

20 members of the same family in the same house for 3 days and it wasn’t even Christmas?!

We approached the long weekend with some trepidation to say the least. We’d be spending time with aunts, uncles and cousins that we rarely see and some partners that we’d never even met. But my Dad was turning 65 and he wanted his entire family together to help celebrate.

There were:
Mum, Dad, #1, her husband and niece and nephew, #2 and her boyfriend, O and I. Dad’s brother and his wife. Dad’s sister, her husband, her eldest son, his partner and their 8 month old son, her youngest son, his partner and her 7 year old daughter

We arrived in dribs and drabs on Friday night to a huge house on the outskirts of Keswick that had once been used as a B and B. We chose our room, made ourselves some dinner and caught up with family members as they arrived. The rugby world cup was still on and England had a big game against France the next day. Some of the family decided to go for a rugby breakfast at the nearby pub. O decided as the only one likely to be supporting France he would stay away from the pub and watch the game in our room where he was relatively safe to shout “vive la France”.

By the time we got up the next day, had breakfast and the others were back from the pub plans had begun to emerge. The immediate family Mum, Dad #1, #2 and me with our respective attachments were going to go for a walk around Keswick. #1 had got a treasure trail guide which basically took us on a long walk through Keswick but we had some purpose in our random wanderings. Aunts and Uncles went their separate ways for different walks and trips to car boot sales. The weather was not ideal so we were wrapped up with scarves, gloves and waterproofs to keep off the rain. Back to the house for lunch and a lazy afternoon. Dad’s sister and her family being from Leeds are huge rugby league fans and it was the challenge cup final so that evening they found a pub showing the game and stayed there until dinner time. Plenty of rugby for one day!

The photo on the left is the right way up. Trust me

family stroll through the park

#2 had contacted a local chef who came to the house and made us a delicious meal and did the washing up, which meant that everyone could relax. (although given the size of the supermarket shop my parent’s had delivered we could have fed all of us for quite some time). Wine was consumed and we began to relax with each other, family stories were told, some more shocking than others. We realised just how much we still missed our grandparents. It was strange and a little sad in a way to see my father in his role as the patriarch of the family. My Dad opened his birthday cards and he blew out the candles on his cake (which I spent Friday making), unfortunately we were all far too full for cake after the huge pudding the chef had made so it didn’t get cut until the next day.

The chef made a huge batch of cinder toffee (the inside of a Crunchie)

On the Sunday morning some of the family had to leave to get back for work on Monday so we reduced the numbers by 6. After saying goodbye everyone again went their own ways and made their own plans. Although we were in a stunning part of the country O decided he wanted to visit the beach. I wouldn’t recommend the beaches in that part of England or certainly not the beach at Maryport. It was an extremely industrial and rather grey and bleak. Although it was fun to reminisce with my Mum who’s Dad used to frequently travel to Maryport from Newcastle sometimes taking her with him. Again the weather was poor so we hurried to warm up back at the house. I was starting to come down with a cold at this point so wanted to be warm and cosy. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a really hard jigsaw, each taking turns at different bits. Remembering how big granddad (Dad’s dad) used to love doing jigsaws and how little granddad (Mum’s dad) used to always hide one piece so he could put the last bit in.


That evening we took #2’s boyfriend to the train station so he could also get back for work on the Monday. We put some pies in the oven and made simple vegetables and again ate around the enormous table which was in the dining room. That evening we played card games, chatted about our grandparents/parents laughing at different memories, how when my cousins had been with my Nana she had always talked about my sisters and I and then vice versa, she would always chat about my cousins when with us. We also doggedly kept going at the damn jigsaw and it soon became clear that we were not going to bed until it was completed.

The next morning there was a bedlam of packing and trying to share out the huge amount of leftover food. My cold had well and truly hit. We went to rheged for a hot drink and chats with #2 and my parents before #2 had to go and get the train. On the way home we popped in and visited Rebecca, the second time we’ve gone to visit her lovely home and I’ve been full of cold so have coughed and sniffed on her sofa. Should perhaps visit at the start of a trip before I fall ill rather than at the end.

The weekend had been a huge success much more relaxed than anticipated because everyone made their own plans and came and went as they pleased. We came together for meals and spent a lot of time chatting through happy memories.

intense jigsaw action

Photos by O. Me or nephew

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Drinking plenty fluids

I suffer from headaches and no number or combination of drugs will cure them. I just have to ride out the three days it seems to take to shift them. I call them headaches as opposed to migraines as unless they are REALLY bad I don't feel nauseous and I don't have an aversion to light I've also never had any relief from migraine medicines.

Doctors have never established what causes the headaches although there have been several suggestions; posture, allergy to hormones or dehydration. I'm starting to keep a headache diary to try identify a pattern of behaviour that leads to a headache but the easiest diagnosis to challenge is dehydration surely.

I'm bad at drinking enough fluids. So what tips or hints do you have to help me keep up my fluid intake? Not helped by the fact that I don't like water ridiculous as it sounds it tastes funny both from the tap and mineral water. I always have dilute in my water. I also don't drink tea or coffee not sure if that helps or hinders.

I suppose the most obvious is to keep a bottle of juice on my desk and ensuring it is finished by the end of the day. But anything else I could try?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Snowy Monday Morning

Journey to work was fine, pulled into the car park spotted a space really close to the door, reversed in, handbrake on, picked up by bags, got out of the car and locked it. Took three steps forward to the front of the car when I realise the car is moving. Yank at the door handle, remember the car is locked, jab at the buttons on the key fob, wrench open the door, throw my bags in, enter car feet first towards the brake pedal. Stop the car from moving. Realise the car has realistically slid three feet at most as people are still able to get past me and the expensive car I was heading for. Try and reduce heart rate to a reasonable level. Glare back at the people wondering why I’m sat effectively in the middle of the car park. Park the car in a different space where all it can roll into is a hedge. Leave car in gear. Pull handbrake extra hard. Get out of car, give car a really good shake to assess if it is planning on going anywhere. Get back in car and try to reduce heart rate even further. Walk to office and try not to think about where car might be when I leave tonight.

Hope your Monday started better than mine!

Bloody snow.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Berneray - June 2011

This year seemed to be the year that I caught ferries to Scottish islands I’d never been to before. We’ve got quite a running tally and this year added two more to the list.

It was June, a lovely couple had just been married and we unfortunately had to leave the party early to prepare for our early start in time to catch the ferry. The tent was packed along with wet weather gear, warm weather gear and winter gear. You never can be certain of the weather in Scotland. We hadn’t been camping for a really long time so I was worried it could be a shock to the system. We were also going wild camping i.e. sans toilet and shower block which I was a little worried about. Although we’d expected to be camping very close to the holiday home that O’s Mum had rented for the week. After a smoothish crossing (thankfully I don’t get travel sick) we arrived in North Uist and made the relatively short journey to the house. Once we arrived at the house it was clear that there weren’t any spots nearby on which we could pitch a tent. O’s sister and her family weren’t arriving until the next day so we decided to take a bed for the night and find a camping spot the next day.

We had a fantastic weekend, there were trips to the beach where we found our camping spot. There was a slap up restaurant meal which included me eating half a lobster. There were hand dived scallops which were the biggest things I’ve ever seen – thank you O, shame you don’t eat meat they were yummy. There were fiercely fought games of scrabble and arguments over the quality of certain brands of dictionary. There were books read, a small hill climbed and seals spotted. There were cuddles with nephew who we later discovered was suffering from a hideous cold that knocked me and his Mum sideways when we finally came down with it a few days later. (he handled it much better than either of us).

Unfortunately there were also arguments with the owner of the holiday home (they lived next door and had only been renting out the house for 6/7 weeks) who felt we were overcrowding the house – even though O and I were only there for the day. We decided not to ruin the holiday for O’s parents and we left the island a day early but we did have a fantastic few days. I survived “wild” camping thanks to having a house with hot running water a 10 minute drive away. I was staggered by the beauty of the beach. In my time I’ve seen some fairly impressive beaches but nothing that compares to that stretch of unadulterated white sand. There wasn’t a thing on the beach either, barely a shell, pebble of clump of seaweed to be found. We relaxed, spent time with family and blew the cobwebs away with all that “fresh” air.

photos by O