Tuesday, 31 July 2012

What we did...Summer 2012 Day 11

Today has been my least favourite day of the holidays so far. I've had some sort of allergic reaction to something and my joints are all swollen and hurting a lot. It hurts to do everything, especially stand on my feet and use my hands (completely rubbish). I have to go for a blood test tomorrow and spent most of the day laying down feeling sorry for myself. I take hundreds of photos so I spent my time sorting through them and deleting some as typing takes limited hand movements and doesn't actually hurt.

These are the paintings that I did at the weekend.

Monday, 30 July 2012

What we did...Summer Holidays 2012 Day 10

Josie and I cooked breakfast on the camp fire at 7am which was a little early but the sun was out, we had a view of the sea and it was our last morning at the campsite.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

What we did... Summer Holidays 2012 Day 9

A day out in Deal.

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Location:West St,Deal,United Kingdom

Saturday, 28 July 2012

What we did... Summer Holidays 2012 Day 8

We are camping :)

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Friday, 27 July 2012

What we did...Summer Holidays 2012 Day 7

Today I was pleased to do not much at all, very little was planned and we had a home day. It was lovely, I got lots of jobs done, did some packing for our camping trip tomorrow and a little bit of sewing.

At 08:12 this morning, we joined the rest of the over enthusiastic, in the make some noise for the Olympics craziness. In the absence of any bells, Josie and Charlie put together a cacophony of pots, pans and tins to hit with spoons, in honour of Twenty Twelve.

Charlie earned 60p doing chores like tidying his room, pairing up shoes from the shoes place in the kitchen (a dumping ground for shoes), shelling broad beans and painting chicken with marinade. He did very well.

Thanks to the lovely Sophie who runs our WI knitting and stitching circle I had a much better idea how to make a top out of the beautiful 1/2 meter of fabric that I have been very keen to use.

As you can see used a professional pattern, a curve drawn on a scrap of paper to make the arm holes.

Gathered and stitched the front and back.

And then used one of the attachments for my vintage sewing machine to make some bias binding.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

What we did.. Summer Holidays 2012 Day 6

I sometimes tell my little ones that there are children who have never been to the beach. They look at me as if I have lost my mind, in their world there is no reason why someone would not have been to the beach. It takes less than an hour to get the beach from our house and if we are going on the train, we usually go to Broadstairs in the summer.

I imagine that this will be the first of many trips to the beach this summer holidays, especially seeing as we are going camping over looking the sea this weekend. 

Broadstairs high street is still very much like a high street from my childhood and that is why I love it so. Greengrocers are my favourite; the colours, the shapes and the hand written signs are just so much more sincere than the supermarkets' over packaged produce.

And then there's the baker's, with more handwritten signs on neon stars, paper doilies and cakes such as the almond deluxe (which is what Josie chose), the wool shop and so many other lovely shops.

Unlike the mini heat wave in Canterbury, it was overcast and a little chilly in Broadstairs so picked up some warm bits from a charity shop. Josie choose a sequin jacket, perfect for the beach.

Charlie picked out a Bart Simpson pyjama top and I got a lemon yellow, hand knitted acrylic lace cardigan that is actually quite nice if I can get over the horrible acrylic feel.

 We bought a boat.

And I painted a picture of the children playing in it.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What we did...Summer Holidays 2012 Day 5

At 9am this morning I packed Charlie off with his lunch to Super Camps and Josie and I had a girls' day. Whenever Josie has mummy time she always wants to do the same thing, go to town and browse the shops. We like the same things and enjoy looking at discussing beautiful things. I have loved this one street in Canterbury every since we have lived here. When Josie was young we looked at the coloured doors and now we look at the flowers. She thinks that this house with it's climbing rose and lavender looks as if it's out of a fairy tale.

For quite a while Josie and I had days to ourselves in the summer holidays whilst Charlie was at nursery, but now he's a school boy, those days are rare. Josie is getting so grown up now that I want to cherish every precious moment that we do have together.

With it being another gloriously hot day, Josie went swimming in the afternoon and I sat (well got up and down, moved around a lot and did other things too) in the garden, painted some knitting needles for my Etsy Shop and collected seeds from my aquilegias.

And will my first dahlia grown from seed be out soon?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What we did... Summer Holidays 2012 Day 4

It's not only the warmth that is special about hot summer weather, it's the light. Colours seem more vibrant, the blue of the sky is more intense and everywhere is bathed in glorious golden sunlight.

We are very lucky to be sandwiched between two swimming pools and with our family membership, Josie can go with a friend, Charlie can join the supervised swim and I can go to a class.

Between the trees and across the stream is the leisure centre car park. We can see the children's bedroom windows from the beach pool. Josie can even go swimming by herself.

It would be almost criminal for swimming not to be a big part of our summer holidays, especially on health and fitness day.

Other healthy activities today included roller skating for Josie, activities in the sports hall at the leisure centre for Charlie and plenty of running around with Nerf water guns for pretty much everyone who came in the garden.

As part of the healthy day I also made some rather delicious courgette cake for my garden full of children. As promised here's the recipe for Michelle.

Recipe for courgette cake

{Grate a medium courgette the day before so it dries out a little, or put it on a tray in the sun for a bit}

One medium courgette, grated
100g butter
150g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together before beating the eggs in one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder and stir in gradually. Finally fold in the grated courgette. This recipe can be made into cup cakes or a loaf or both. Bake in the oven at 170c until golden brown. Trick children into eating the cake by getting them to guess the mystery green ingredient.

For the more adventurous, try adding a bit of chilli. I sprinkled in a small amount of cayenne pepper before putting the mixture in the loaf tin. The fact that most of the cake was gone before I even thought about taking a photo indicates just how yummy it actually was, so here's a photo of the courgette plants instead.

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Monday, 23 July 2012

What we did... Summer Holidays 2012 Day 3


Today I can truly say that I have kept myself, my own children and some other people's children entertained. After suffering from the overly high expectations of my children in previous holidays and constant pestering to do this and that and generally hand over all of my hard earned cash, I have made a plan. This is more of a survival guide for me, really as pester power is my downfall. I have still not built up enough stamina to deflect the constant requests for time, money and attention my children pile upon me until I snap and the "no" button is pressed. It is not uncommon for me to loose my temper in these moments and then feel so awfully guilty that I over compensate with niceness and fall into the trap of giving in to the pester.

Not this year though, I am determined to enjoy these holidays with my little ones whilst they still want to spend any time with me at all. I am being organised. We have a schedule and I am relying on my Charlie with his delight in sticking to and developing rules about rules to be the enforcer.

Monday - making day
Tuesday - health and fitness day
Wednesday - reading and learning
Thursday - home day
Friday - day trip

Charlie had the idea for a lemonade stand and Josie did a whole business plan involving calculations, profit margins and outlay costs. She researched the recipe on line, looked up prices of ingredients and checked which day would have the best weather. Together we decided on a family of friends that we wanted to recruit as our team, based on the fact that there was a friend for each of us, plus an extra little one to share. We had a board meeting this morning in the garden and then had a fabulously relaxed day in the sun, putting the whole plan into action. Josie and her partner went to the supermarket for the first time by themselves and my mummy friend shopped at the same time for lunch just in case. Following a bit of a shaky start with the smaller members of the team, who got glued to the TV, there was a ban on anything that needed to be plugged in and switched on,  all credit to the older two who really knuckled down to the work.

Homemade lemonade is quite a simple recipe, equal amounts of lemon juice to sugar, dilute to taste / maximise profit, add plenty of ice cubes if you remembered to make some (we had one tray and could have done with more). After a small amount of persuasion, my mummy friend agreed to relinquish control of the kitchen to the children and allow them to discover for themselves just how much hard work it is squeezing lemons and which methods work best. They soon chose the "get the mums to do it" option and we ended up with about 1/2 pint of lemon juice. The oldest boy in our team thought for some time about how much sugar we should use and finally decided to measure 1/2 pint of sugar in the measure jug. Sugar isn't usually measured in pints and half pints but it did work quite well.

With the lemonade made and the promotional posters made, the children set about discovering the best way to market their product. They did their market research and sat out the front and the back of the house respectively to decide on the best spot.

Out the back was a clear winner and the selling begun. Daddy was there first customer but they did sell to everyone and everybody. They did very well and broke even and then went into profit. The profit was shared between the four older ones (sorry little one). I had invested £5.15 in the business which I did get back but decided that each member of the team deserved a bonus for hard work and award £1 to the older two and 50p to the younger two. This inequality was much to the smaller ones  disgust but they did spend time watching TV and shooting each other with water pistols whilst the older children worked and I do apologise to my mummy friend if this argument was still going on at bed time as it was in my house. And even better was when some other friends arrived and we had a whole sales team out the back.

Josie's best friend Emily was a welcome addition to our team and Michelle, a welcome mummy to the support section. It was a brilliant day but if I had to choose three of my favourite moments they would be:

  • A vicar on a bike buying a cup of lemonade 
  • Charlie using his wages to buy a cup of lemonade
  • And the banner that was made by my friend's little one
However business woman of the week has to go to Josie who earned a little over £2 and gave me a pound of that back for sorting out the whole day. So now when the pestering starts about what activities we could do, I have £1 in the kitty for our summer holiday fund and the children have a little bit more of an idea of how much work you actually have to do to earn money.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

What we did ....Summer holidays 2012 Day 2

Today was finally one of those glorious summer days with deep blue skies and warm sunshine. It felt like summer and we had a chilled out relaxed day at home.

Josie got herself comfortable in the teepee to do some more finger knitting which she has named "ningering". Both her Dad and brother have been wearing scarves today that she has knitted.

I did some lino cut printing.

These are ready for our Making Monday day tomorrow.

Charlie wanted to go for a bike ride.

And as I took this snapshot of him riding off home, I knew that this was one of those precious summer holiday memories that I would remember forever and in years to come, it would be that moment that I would wish to come back to. When you are five years old and the summer holidays have just started and stretch on endlessly in front of you for the first time, you've learnt to ride a bike and the sun is shining, life really could not get much better.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

What we did ... Summer holidays 2012 Day 1

My husband had a very busy day ahead and left at 7am this morning, so the moment the children were awake, they took advantage of the empty space in our bed. The three of  lay there pinning kids crafts from other people's cool boards onto our Summer Holiday Board. Today was our planning and ideas day so I was really quite insistent that we didn't do every single idea on the list before breakfast.

Charlie made these little balloon friends. He made them pretty much by himself with a minimal amount of mess and it kept him occupied for quite some time.

Josie has been trying to learn to knit for a little while but can't quite put the whole thing together but she learnt to finger knit in about 5 minutes, it kept her busy for ages and she has already made two cute little scarves.

And I made a skirt out of a pillowcase (photo to follow) and knitted a square for a possible new project.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Feet up Friday

It is now the last Feet up Friday of the academic year. College closed a couple of weeks ago and the children's last day is today so Charlie and I were out in the garden shortly after 7am picking flowers for the teachers. They did look so beautiful in my vase, that I was quite sad to see them go.

If I don't put my feet up before the school run, I am unlikely to get a chance until September. Last week I did attempt a feet up Friday along with a post but was ironically too busy. With my "to do" list bursting at the seams and my "wish to do" shouting with the louder voice, I think my feet are actually going to have a rather busy day. Fortunately I am unable to do any cleaning because the bathroom is no. 1 on the list and my husband is currently fixing a tap in there, so I'm tackling the sewing room instead. This room is full of distractions and unfinished projects however I intend to try a before and after picture and hope that there is some difference.

It didn't take me long to get distracted and I started working on my knitting needle case which I'm hoping to finish before the next WI knitting and stitching circle meeting. As I sat there stitching I noticed how overflowing with needles, hooks, pens, scissors and brushes my jars were so further distracted, I headed of to the charity shop to get a beautiful new jar for my accouterments and the bargain price of £1.

The house is still a complete mess but as the summer holidays are about to begin, I am just going to have to get used to it. I have finished my knitting needle case though and I am very happy with it.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Jam and Jeruselum

Last night was our first general meeting for the Jubilee WI and there alongside almost 100 like minded women, I felt utterly proud to belong to an organisation that has been running for close to 100 years. To be serving tea through a hatch from an over-sized brown enamel tea pot into those very same Woods Ware green tea cups my beloved Grandma adored, made me wish that I could be pouring her a cup of "Windsor Soup" and "just showing it the milk".

 As part of the fantastic first refreshment team, I felt truly privalaged to be grouped together with such lovely women. There were scrumptious cakes galore and mouthwatering savouries and my offerings did not look out of place. It was in fact a pleasant change to have my domestic science achievements valued and complimented unlike the way they are usually ravished and demolished as if under attack from a swarm of locust.

There were also the talks by two lovely and experienced WI advisors and although I appreciate the necessity of reading the minutes from the formation meeting, it did not capture my imagination and heart the way the speech on the history of the WI by Jill Bexon did. It is the love that a mother has for her child, that unites women the world over and for this reason the heavy weight of loosing a child is a pain that never lifts. The moment I heard that Adelaide Hoodless, one of the founders of the WI, had lost her own son after feeding him contaminated milk, the grief that darkened so many of my days, cast that familiar shadow over my soul. However Adelaide used her tragic loss to educate, inspire and empower women. She was a true domestic crusader whose austere and starched appearance cannot disguise the kind hearted mother whose sorrow would have remained a constant throughout her life.

The jam aspect of the Women's Institute was one of the key reasons for me wanting to join. I am a jam maker and of the opinion that you can't really go wrong with fruit and sugar. An institute based on it's reputation for making preserves, is certainly my cup of tea. The Jerusalem connection had never really triggered my curiosity until last night, when there was a vote on how often it should be sung. Jill Bexon's explanation was that it was as good a song as any at the time to represent the ideals of the WI and was a much better option that one that began with something about a band of merry women. I am most intrigued about the line referring to "dark Satanic Mills" and the inference to the industrial revolution's destruction of the English landscape. There's also its association with the fight for women's suffrage.  Most of all though Jerusalem reminds me of when my Great Auntie Joyce Ridgeway Hartwright (the inspiration for my blog's name) would babysit for us and sing her heart out to it during the last night of the proms.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

On the 1st January this year I swam in the sea which has long been one of my ambitions. It gave me that boost in confidence to go back to ballet classes. Ballet is just one of those things that I have never stopped loving. It was even more exciting to discover that I could take part in the dancing show and be on the stage again. This time last year, it was a challenge for me to go out of the house. I would not have even dreamt that I would be dancing on the stage at the Marlowe Theatre, so it has been a bit of an achievement for me.

The first time I danced on stage was in 1974 at age 4, it is one of my earliest memories and that buzz of performing in front of an audience is a feeling I still love today. Very much like the words of the song which I danced to this weekend, time has rolled on and my youth has gone, in fact I believe that I was the oldest performer in the Dance Warehouse's production of the Glass Slipper. Unlike diamonds, I have grown old and lost my shape but I still think there might be that slight glimmer of charm and a smidgen of grace left. Now having achieved two of my ambitions, I am wondering what's next.....maybe an art exhibition, teaching ballet or studying dance / art therapy.