Saturday, February 29, 2020

My Birthday Weekend - Day 1

I've set this post to publish on the 29th of February because that doesn't come around every year and I like the date! Happy Leap Day!

My birthday is the 19th of January and as you may know from previous years, I like to do something fun for it as it's so soon after Christmas and everyone is a bit miserable in January. In late 2019 I started making plans for my 36th birthday. I asked my friends who were my "bridesmaids" at the vow renewal if they wanted to come, and I asked my mum, stepdad, aunt and uncle if they wanted to come too. Eleven of us agreed to go, so I looked around for some cottages in December.

My mum said we should stay somewhere easy to get to in case of bad weather, because sometimes it snows over my birthday and she was right, none of us wanted to get stuck in that. I looked at a bunch of places, but couldn't choose anywhere. I was getting quite stressed and then just after Christmas Lee had a look too. He found The Limes, in Swanwick near Alfreton. We booked it through Airbnb. I have a referral link here, which can get you money off your first trip (and earns me a bit of credit too!) if you've never used Airbnb before.

The house sleeps fourteen people so that was good for us. Everyone paid and Lee and I ordered food for the whole weekend but asked people to bring their own alcohol and some snacks. For instance, my friend Von doesn't like to eat a lot of lactose so she brought her own almond milk and dairy free crisps.

So on the Friday Lee and I set off. He said he wanted to buy me something else for my birthday as he'd been struggling to think of things so close after Christmas, so I said we should go to Elsecar heritage centre where there's a big antiques centre so that I could look at the jewellery. I invited my mum and stepdad along to meet us for lunch first. They agreed, so Lee and I set off to Elsecar. My mum told us they were in the cafe, perfect.

Only, we got in, no mum or stepdad. The minute I saw that I thought "My mum's misunderstood me; they've gone to Wentworth Garden Centre instead of here". I dunno why, I just knew that's where she was! I tried to ring her but there's not much signal in the garden centre. Eventually she rang back and she was indeed there! It was quite funny, it didn't really matter as the two are so close so they finished their lunch and we had ours and they came across to join us. We went in the antiques centre and I picked out a really pretty ring and my stepdad bought himself a woodwork tool and then we all set off to Swawick.

It was really easy to find the house, and easy to get in. Lee and I were there first and we just went around the whole place opening doors. It was HUGE. On the ground floor was a big kitchen, living room, huge conservatory, TV room, downstairs loo. On the middle floor were two triple rooms, both with ensuite bathrooms, and a twin room, with another bathroom. On the second floor was a double room with ensuite, a twin room with ensuite, and another twin room, and another bathroom. There were cupboards and all sorts of stuff hidden all over, it was fun to investigate! There was also a games room above the garages which had a full size snooker table, a pool table, and a football table in it. A real perk, really fun to play!

My mum and stepdad were close behind us. We chose which bedrooms we each wanted, and then unpacked all the kitchen stuff. We made two lasagnes - a meat one and a vegetarian one. When Sarah and Tom arrived, the six of us sat down to eat together.

I've been on holiday with Sarah before, and see quite a lot of her, but I haven't been away with Tom before so it was nice to spend more time with him. We played some games and before too long Von and Lucinda arrived, having made really good time travelling up together from London. They had some food and we all chatted before having quite an early night as everyone was tired!

Here's my photos from Friday:

Lee cooking on the huge cooker

My mum cooking

Archers and lemonade in a huge balloon glass! 

I had asked my mum to make a lemon cheesecake for the weekend as hers is delicious, so she did, but as Lee doesn't like lemon, she made a double chocolate one too. They were both so good! Everyone enjoyed them, there wasn't much left of either by the end of the weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Six the Musical in Salford

At the beginning of January I went to The Lowry in Salford to see Six the Musical with some friends. Sam had seen it before and wanted us to see it now that it's touring, so we had booked tickets months ago. In the event, Jac was too ill to come, but Sarah came to mine and I drove us over, where we met up with Sam and Jodie for food before the show.

We just went to Bella Italia, which I haven't been to in years. It used to be a bit rubbish, in my opinion, but they've upped their game I think. Sam had been and said it was nice. It was, but they didn't have loads of vegetarian options. But I chose mozzarella and tomato salad to start with, and then a pizza with goats cheese and balsamic dressing on it, and then I had hot cookie dough for dessert. It was nice, and pretty cheap.

We headed across to The Lowry at around 7.30. We were in the smaller theatre which is quite a long walk from the front. The show was sold out, though, so there were loads of people around.

It's about Henry the VIII's six wives. Each of the queenssings a song to try to persuade the audience that they were the most badly treated by Henry. It's not very long, but it also doesn't pause for breath. It's extremely slick, extremely funny, and it looks spectacular too. Each queen was different from the others but so talented. I loved the show, I would definitely see it again. My favourite queen has always been Catherine of Aragon, and I did love her, but honestly they're all fabulous. I would recommend the show.

I bought two badges - a badge saying Sorry Not Sorry which is what Anne Boleyn says, a pin badge saying I'm Unbreakable which is what Jane Seymour sings. I love how sparkly this is! Then I thought about buying a mug, but we own about seven hundred, so I bought a fridge magnet instead. Much better! The prices weren't bad - all three things came to £14.

I had a lovely evening, it was a high to start the new year on!

I don't even really like tomatoes, but I do love this kind of salad


And dessert, which was soft and squidgy and sweet, and lovely!

Outside the theatre

Sam took this photos and forwarded them to me because her phone is much better in low light than mine. They actively encourage you to take photos in the final song, which is a reprise medley kind of thing, so don't worry that we weren't supposed to take photos. The woman playing Katherine Parr even took the phone from a kid in the front row and filmed onstage for him, which was really cute! 

My badges and fridge magnet. Love them!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Films of the Month - December

Here's the films I watched in December. I only watched ten, but it's so busy over Christmas and watching films with others is not a Christmas activity for us. In fact I don't watch much TV over Christmas and had to catch up loads afterwards!

On the first day of the month I was feeling a bit miserable so I watched The History Boys, which is one of my favourite films. I love it all, the boys, the humour, the soundtrack. It never fails to comfort me

I'd heard of Across the Universe but had never seen it. It looks and sounds really pretty, but I didn't love it 

I haven't read The Little Stranger, but I've heard good things about it, so I thought I would watch the film. It's okay, Domhnall Gleeson is really good, but it didn't do much for me. Still, I'm glad I've seen it

Christmas! I watched Nativity, which I like even though I don't really like Martin Freeman. It's fun, and the kids are fun

A few days later I watched Nativity 2, which I didn't think I had seen, but I have, I remembered a lot of the plot as I was watching. I love David Tennant, but it's not as good as the first one

Lee and I watched Die Hard because we always do at Christmas, isn't it great?!

Then we watched Home Alone, another Christmas classic

And then we watched Die Hard 2, which people think isn't as good as the first and third films, but I actually really like it. I like William Sadler as the bad guy and the plot

As I said previously we watched The Last Jedi at the end of the month as a reminder of what happened. I like it, I think there's a lot of good stuff going on

...which meant that I therefore felt even more badly about The Rise of Skywalker, because it just didn't carry on some arcs from TLJ. I'm sad the franchise ended in that way, but what can you do?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Rest of Christmas 2019

I've decided to combine the rest of my Christman into one post, because by the time you read this, it'll already be February. There's new stuff to be writing! I'm ready to move on from Christmas!

On Friday the 27th Lee and I left my mum's house and went to Leeds to see our friends Leanne and Adi and their baby. She is extremely suspicious of us, but did start to come round. We bought her a book which she liked. We had a nice afternoon with them. Afterwards we went home and both chilled out for a while, which was nice! A bit of quiet in all the madness.

On Saturday my aunt, uncle, and one of my cousins were in Wakefield, so we all congregated at my mum's house. She made bacon and sausage sandwiches for brunch, and let me tell you I almost wavered on the bacon. Lee doesn't eat red meat and now eats very little meat at all, but if he did, I think I wouldn't have managed being vegetarian for a whole year! Lee and I had veggie sausage and fried eggs instead.

We had a buffet in the evening and we played games which was fun - my 93 year old grandma read out the questions which is nice because it means she was included too.

On Sunday we all went to my grandma's. My other cousin and hsi wife arrived at ours before lunch as they were staying with us for a couple of nights, and we started watching The Last Jedi because they hadn't seen it and we were going to see The Rise of Skywalker the next day. We went to my grandma's around 2pm and again just chilled out together.

Neil had asked us the previous evening what each of us wanted to eat, as he was going to buy some bits and make a picky tea. I went for potatoes dauphinois and they were absolutely beautiful - stodgy and creamy and full of garlic. The entire table did look like a total hodge podge of food though, none of it made sense all together! But it was still delicious and that's the main thing.

On Monday me, Lee, Rob and Beth finished watching The Last Jedi and then headed to Huddersfield to see the new film. We had the Pizza Hut buffet for lunch which was great, I do love Pizza Hut pizza. THEN we saw The Rise of Skywalker. I.... didn't love it. I didn't think it fitted well after The Last Jedi, and I didn't like the ending. I didn't like how Poe and Finn were majorly sidelined, either. Or Rose! I love Rose! I know it had to change because Carrie Fisher died, but damn. I am angry about it.

Tuesday was New Year's Eve! Rob and Beth went to the supermarket with us and then we tidied up the house and chilled out until Bettie and Jen and Lou and Si arrived for the evening. It was really lovely to spend New Year's with all those people. We laughed a lot and had good food and strong drinks and didn't go to bed until past 2.30am. I was definitely hung over on New Year's Day.

And now it's 2020! We are living in the future, people.

Leanne and April and her new book

Last year I didn't get any Snow Fairy and complained about it, so this year both my mother and my mother in law made sure I'm well stocked up for this year! I'm not sure when I'll use the bath bombs, but hopefully soon

My face on the Saturday. The lipstick is Models Own and I love the colour of it. Also, I'm not sure what happened to the colour of my eyes, but I haven't edited this photo at all. They seem to have turned more blue recently, and maybe the make up emphasised that

Ruben sitting on my aunt's knee

Me and Peter at my grandma's on the Sunday

The hodge podge meal. Peter wanted quiche. It was extremely nice

Star Wars!

A panorama of my living room on New Year's Eve. I think everyone was doing my quiz at this point

Lee took this of me. My cousin Rob had been sitting on that chair, I swear. It was Lee's Christmas present from my mum

Bettie made me some very strong cocktails and I did very much enjoy them

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Boxing Day 2019

Boxing Day is always a favourite in my family as it's more relaxed than Christmas Day. Again there were just five of us, my grandma came over again and we were staying at my mum's house. I also had a shower in my mum's fancy shower, I love it!

We had leftovers for lunch and we played more games. My mum and I always make sure to look through each other's Christmas presents, which is always nice. It was a nice relaxed time.

My grandma has a lot of really gorgeous jewellery and for some reason she was showing Lee her opal ring. It came from Australia in 1923 (before she was born) and was set for her mother. It's lovely isn't it?

Ruben again

Playing Trivial Pursuit in the evening. It was a close thing, Lee and my mum and me all had our pieces filled and were on the way back to the centre, but I won!

I was crocheting while playing, doing this heart for my friend Chloe. She saw the one I made previously and commissioned me to make one for her. The colours are reversed, which she wanted, and it was a very tight fit (I should have done more stitches width wise), but I'm pleased with it

Leftovers! Lee and I had veggie pigs in blankets, but I didn't like them much and wouldn't bother buying them next year. I LOVE bread sauce, my mum and grandma and I all do!

Ruben is a very long cat

And here's his sister, Millie!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Christmas Day 2019

We were at my mum's for Christmas Day and it was a really nice chilled out day. I often find Christmas Day really stressful for a number of reasons, but this was one of the best ones I've had. It was just relaxed and lovely. 

My grandma came for the day so there were five of us and it was a really chilled day. We had our starter about 1pm, then main course around 3.30pm, and finally pudding some time after that. It works really well for us. We opened presents in the middle and then in the evening we played games which was fun. Lee got Trivial Pursuit and Linkee as presents, both of which we played and which were good. We didn't own Trivial Pursuit before and my mum's edition has questions from 1989 which is pretty hilarious. 

Anyway, let me share some photos. 

What I wore. This skirt is about mid shin on me, and I made it! I bought the material a few months ago and borrowed my mum's sewing machine. I think it is actually material for curtains - it's quite thick silk in these two shades of green. I loved it and I think it's nice in a skirt. My seams are really straight and I'm proud of it! My mum (the seamstress) liked it too

Lee got this Star Wars t-shirt as a present from his sister so wore it on Christmas Day. It's lovely! I love the faded vintage look to it

One of my mum's presents to me was this Christmas cake! Lee doesn't like Christmas cake so I never make or buy one but I miss it! So my mum made the cake, and then asked her friend Louise's daughter Liv to decorate it. I love it! There's silver sparkle on it, too. It tastes so good!

One of the first presents I opened was from my friend Jane. Jane turned 30 last September and I sent her a book of poems that I copied out and a book of song lyrics that reminded me of her or whatever. So in return she sent me this diary which has a quote for EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year written in it. I LOVE it so much. It is such a special and thoughtful gift and I am so happy to call Jane my friend. It made me cry! It's lovely

My mum always takes a special pride in the dining table and this year she had bought this pretty purple tablecloth in France to use. It's lovely, isn't it?

Me and Lee

I had asked if we could have cauliflower cheese so I was tasked with making the cheese sauce. There was maybe a bit too much - there's more sauce than cheese here I swear!

The nut roast came out great! I really liked it, and although everyone else tried it, none of them liked it sadly

Oh! My mum bought me a new dressing gown. My old one was tatty and horrible, so I sent her a few that I liked and she chose this one. It's a Simply Be/Pretty Secrets one and it's that waffle stuff which is really good to dry off in!

Here's some of the books I got. Over on my book blog you can see my reviews of them as I'm aiming to read them all sooner rather than later

And finally Lee bought me a smart watch type of thing. I mainly want it as a step counter and timer. This one has no brand, but it does have a nice big face and a lilac silicon strap, both of which I like. I'm impressed with it so far!