Tuesday 28 February 2012

A Concert And An Invitation

Last night, Eleanor performed in a concert at school. She has private singing lessons out of school, but as her singing teacher was staging a concert at the school which Eleanor attends, she asked if she'd like to take part.

It was a varied programme, songs from musical theatre, classical songs and pop songs. Eleanor sang I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and Feed The Birds from Mary Poppins. She's due to take her grade 4 singing exam next month and these are two of the songs which she'll be singing for that.

We had a lovely evening, and I'm sure that everyone enjoyed performing, I know Eleanor did.

At lunch time today, Eleanor has been invited to have lunch with the principal, or headmaster as he was called in my school days.

A few pupils have been invited, and I'm eager for her to get home tonight so I can ask her what was served for lunch, and what they talked about. Aren't I nosey?

Sunday 26 February 2012

One Stone Eight Pounds

You may remember that one of the challenges I set myself for 2012 was to start eating healthily and lose weight. I didn't start at the beginning of the year as I still had chocolates from Christmas left, and the cupboards were still full of fattening things.

I eventually started the challenge on the 23rd of January so it's now been five weeks and in that time I've managed to lose one stone eight pounds. I've been really strict with myself and have only eaten two things which I shouldn't. The first was a Picnic chocolate bar a fortnight ago, and I only ate that because Daniel had been given this amongst some chocolate he got for Christmas and he doesn't like them, and the other was a meal out at Frankie and Benny's for Daniel's birthday last week. I wasn't going to go to a place like that and eat something good for me, so I had a cheeseburger with chips, but found I could only manage half of it, and I allowed myself a Chocolate Brownie Sundae to finish off with, but I scraped the cream off the top of it, and only ate a little bit of it.

My downfall is eating snacks in between meals and I've managed to cut these out all together, apart from a piece of fruit between lunch and dinner. I'm convinced that this has helped a great deal as I would continually pop in to the kitchen to eat something sweet, and the thing I loved the most was crisps, though funnily, I haven't missed them at all.

I'm not weighing anything out, just mainly cutting down. I'm eating exactly the same as the family, but I'm having a much smaller portion that I used to. It seems to be working.

All I've had to drink is water, which I don't mind as I don't drink hot drinks anyway.

I've still got more to lose, so I need to keep at it. It will then be a case of  keeping it off.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Thorntons Survey

It was only in January 2011 that I last completed a survey which was posted though my letterbox with the promise of Thorntons chocolates for doing so, so I was surprised to be asked to complete another survey so soon, they must come round on a yearly basis.

A paper bag is posted through the letterbox which gives instructions of the website to visit in order to complete the survey.

At the end of the survey, you're given a number which you need to enter on to the paper bag. The following day, you leave the bag on your doorstep and later in the day it is filled with a bag of Thorntons Continental chocolates.

Thorntons Continentals are one of my favourites but I've been very good, I'm on a diet so I gave the choccies to my mum, she was really pleased. Can you see my halo glowing?

Tuesday 21 February 2012

A Winter Walk

As I mentioned in my last post, it was Daniel's birthday on Sunday. It was a cold but sunny day, so we decided to go out for a walk to build up an appetite for our meal out.

We're so lucky that we have both Temple Newsam and Lotherton Hall close to where we live and we visit both of these places often. This time, we chose Temple Newsam which I've blogged about before.

We weren't the only family enjoying the sunny day, the car park was jam packed. We had a walk around the grounds before heading for the walled garden. There wasn't very much to see at this time of year, but Temple Newsam holds five national collections so I'll go back later in the year to see those.

We passed over little wooden bridges which had waterfalls trickling down the sides.

Children were feeding the swans and ducks which were swimming on the lake. We don't get too close otherwise Archie will jump in.

Temple Newsam has a beautiful Rhododendron Walk which is down by the lakes. I noticed how the buds were swelling ready to bloom, they look amazing when in flower.

After our walk, we headed off to Frankie and Benny's, Daniel's choice seeing as it was his birthday.

Sunday 19 February 2012

A Birthday Weekend

It's Daniel's 17th birthday today. I can't believe how fast the last seventeen years have gone, it doesn't seem two minutes since I was meeting my first born for the very first time.

He's enjoyed the lead up to his birthday. On Friday night he went to see Leeds Rhinos V Manly Sea Eagles at Headingley in the World Cup Challenge. Leeds won 26-12 which he was pleased about.

Last night, he went out with friends for something to eat and then to the cinema to see The Grey. He's been wanting to see it for a while and just managed to get there for the last screening before it's taken off the listings. He said it was a good film, but the ending was predictable.

It's a cold but sunny day here today so I think we'll go out for a walk somewhere before we go to Frankie and Benny's for tea, then Daniel and Mick are going indoor cricket training, that's something which Daniel won't miss whether it's his birthday or not.

Happy Birthday, Daniel.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Razzle Dazzle 'Em

I've visited the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford many times. It often stages touring productions before they get to Leeds, and it isn't too far away.

Last night, I went to the Alhambra with Mick and Eleanor to see Chicago The Musical. Ali Bastion, who I know from Strictly Come Dancing, took the role of Roxie Hart and Tupele Dorgu, who was Kelly Crabtree in Coronation Street, played Velma Kelly. Stefan Booth, who I'd seen on Dancing On Ice, took the part of Billy Flynn and Bernie Nolan, who I've seen on stage before in Blood Brothers, was Matron 'Mama' Morton.

It was a fabulous show with brilliant acting, singing and dancing. I'd definitely recommend it.

Someone's night will have been spoilt when they returned to their car. It appears that the handbrake had been left off allowing the car to roll out of it's parking space, only coming to a halt when it was buffered by another parked car.

Luckily, neither car appeared to have much damage.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Finished Items

One of my new year challenges was to have a finished item, either knitted or crocheted, each month.

At the end of 2011, I still had a pair of Waving Not Drowning socks on the go, so before I started anything else, I wanted to get these finished.

They are the first pair of socks I've knit which haven't been plain, and the pattern choice was a good one, nice and easy. I used Laughing Yaffle yarn and the socks are really squishy. I popped them on the sock blockers but they actually need blocking properly yet.

You can see the pattern better in this photo, though the colour is nothing like.

I realise that it's cheating to say that these are my January's finished item as they were actually started before the start of the month, right back in September. They were originally going to be a Christmas present for my mum, but were put on a back burner when I realised that they weren't going to fit. They've now been claimed by Eleanor.

After finishing off the socks, I wanted something really easy which I'd be able to start and finish in January, and what better than dishcloths. I started off with Grandmother's Favourite Dishcloth pattern, but my first attempt came out really small so I had another go on larger needles and this gave a much better size. I wasn't particularly taken with the pattern though, it's worked corner to corner and makes for quite an odd shape, certainly not square.

I've got quite a bit of cotton left so I thought I'd have a go at another dishcloth, this time with a pattern. I chose Cluster Stitch Dishcloth pattern, but again it came out rather small. I think it would be a better size on a larger needle again.

I've been trying to resist buying any more yarn at the moment, but Lily from Making It Vintage found a bargain too good to miss on Kemps Wool Shop website, Regia World College Color for only £3.99 per 150g. This usually retails at £10.95 so it's a real bargain. I succumbed and bought three balls. It's thicker than what I usually use, but will make some lovely thicker winter socks.

A new project has been started for February, and I'm still cracking on with my granny square blanket, albeit slowly.

Sunday 12 February 2012

I'm It

I've been tagged by Sft over at Sft's Travel, Mortgage Freedom, 101 And Life Goals. Thank you, Sft, I shall try to answer the questions you have asked.

First of all I should post the rules.

1. Post these rules.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the person who tagged you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
4. Tag 11 people and link them to your post.
5. Let them know that you tagged them.

These are the questions which Sft set:-

1. Where is your favourite place in the world? Tell us why?

My favourite place in the world is the Yorkshire Dales. It holds many happy memories for me right back to my childhood when I was taken there on family outings, and I hope that it will hold many happy memories for my own children as we often take day trips there. I especially love the area around Bolton Abbey, Burnsall and Appletreewick. I'm not quite as wide travelled as Sft, but I've been to many countries in Europe, the USA and a few Carribean islands, but I've yet to find anywhere with such wonderful views, and I'm lucky enough to be within driving distance of it. The picture is me with my dad at Appletreewick in the early 1970's.

2. What person has inspired you most?

I think the person who has inspired me most has been my mum. She's quite literally the best mum in the world and if I'm half as good at being a mum as she is, then I'll be very happy.

3. Who would be your favourite 3 dinner guests?

David Attenborough. It would be fascinating listening to all his experiences with wildlife.
Brad Pitt. Got to have something gorgeous to look at through dinner.
Alan Partridge. Would keep me in stitches.

4. What makes you contented and happy?

I'm contented and happy if my family are contented and happy.

5. City, coast or country?

I live on the outskirts of a city and love all that city life has to offer, though I do love my holidays on the coast. I have many happy memories of the seaside, both as a child and an adult. Then again, there's nothing quite like getting away from it all in the Yorkshire Dales. So hard to choose, but I'd have to say that I quite like where I am right now as I've got the best of all three, a short journey away from the city, coast or country.

6. What are you dreaming of right now?

I'm dreaming of my holiday in Cornwall. We're going to the same lodges where we stayed last year and I can't wait. Only five months to go. Can you see Archie looking through the glass in the door?

7. What is your best read?

To Kill A Mockingbird. It's a book which I read for my English Literature O level and I've remembered it ever since.

8. What makes a perfect night in?

I like nothing better than a night in with the family, a take away and something good to watch.

9. What was your favourite subject at school?

My favourite subject at school was Maths. I liked the more academic subjects and couldn't wait to drop everything like Art, Drama and Music. Daniel is exactly the same as I am, chose all academic subjects for his GCSE's, but Eleanor is the exact opposite. She's taken Drama, Music and Textiles amongst her options.

10. Describe your most cherished photograph.

I have more than one cherished photograph, they are the ones which my sister is in. My sister died twelve years ago at the age of 42. She was my best friend as well as my sister and I miss her every day.

11. What impulse paid off?

I think that has to be my engagement to Mick. We decided to get married only four months after meeting, I think that counts as impulsive. Notice how I didn't say I was proposed to? That's because I wasn't. Mick just decided that we would get married and that was that. It will be our 22nd wedding anniversary in July and we're still very happy together.

The people I'm tagging are:-

Diane at Heart Shaped
Flighty at Sofa Flying
Emma at The Log Cabin
Victoria at Florence & Mary

The questions I'd like you to answer are:-

1. What is your earliest memory?

2. Who would you hate to be stuck in a lift with and why?

3. What is your favourite food?

4. What was the first record you bought?

5. What's the first thing you do when you get out of bed?

6. What was your first job?

7. Who is your favourite author?

8. If you could go anywhere in the world on holiday, where would it be?

9. Do you have a party trick?

10. Will you be watching the 2012 olympics?

11. Do you have any bad habits?

This is just a bit of fun, but it can be time consuming answering the questions and linking to blogs you've tagged so please don't feel under any pressure to carry this on if you don't wish to do so.

Thursday 9 February 2012


When I was asked if I would like to try Archie with Joint Treat Bones from VetVits, I first of all wondered if he really needed them.

Archie isn't yet two, so surely I don't really need to be giving him supplements to help his joints. Wrong! Dogs rapidly develop from puppy through to adult, so it's inevitable that their joints will experience wear and tear. It must be better to provide supplements to avoid problems further down the line than it is to treat a dog once it starts showing symptoms of joint problems.

These are quite substantial treats, nothing like the tiny biscuit bones I usually buy for Archie as a treat, and much more healthy. The recommendation for a dog of his weight is one to two treats per day, which means that a bag of ninety treats will last over six weeks. That's just as well as the cost of them is £10.95, rather more than I presently pay for treats. It is, however, less than £2.00 per week which doesn't seem much for something so full of goodness. The company offer free UK delivery, so that won't bump up the price either.

You must consider what each treat contains. Green-Lipped Mussel which is claimed to have many benefits as a rich source of glycoproteins, chondroitin, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Calcium to help maintain healthy bones. Antioxidant-rich herb mix including rose hip, blackcurrant, spinach, oregano and rosemary, and Salmon Oil, the all important omega 3 fatty acids found within salmon oil are traditionally used to help maintain healthy joints.

The proof, though, is in the pudding as they say. It's near on impossible to get Archie to swallow a tablet, so will a treat containing all this goodness actually appeal to Archie?

I can tell you that it's a bit whiffy when you open the bag, it's just as well that it's resealable. The scent is obviously attractive to dogs though, Archie can't wait to be given his treat.

Archie's usual treats are nearly swallowed down whole, but he chooses to relax with his VetVits Joint Treat Bones and savour them. They don't last long though and he's looking around for more.

I must remember not to leave the packet lying around open. I think Archie gives them the seal of approval.

Vetvits also make products for cats and horses as well as dogs so do take a look at their website.

I should just mention that the product was sent to me free of charge but I have not been paid for writing this review.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

A Riot Of Colour

My garden should be full of colour this year thanks to Anne at Marmalade and Catmint. I was lucky enough to win her giveaway and these four packets of seeds were the prize.

There were actually two prizes, hot colour seeds or pastel shades seeds. I found it quite hard to choose as I do like pastels as well as hot colours, but the hot colours won in the end.

I've had a go at creating a cutting patch at the allotment for the last two years, but it hasn't really worked out. I've ended up giving more attention to the vegetables and the flowers have suffered, but I'm going to give it another go this year. I don't like to cut flowers from the garden for the house, but I don't mind if they're at the allotment, so I really need to give the flowers at the allotment more attention this year.

Many thanks, Anne, I'm looking forward to starting the seeds off and having lots of colour in the garden this year.

Sunday 5 February 2012

The Other Side Of The Dale

My reading challenge is going well. After getting in to the habit of dipping in to magazines instead of reading books, I set myself the challenge of reading a book each month.

I'm now reading The Other Side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn. This book contains anecdotes of his first year as County Inspector of Schools in North Yorkshire, and what I've read so far is very funny. Kids say the most amusing things, even when they're not meaning to and this book highlights that. I'm enjoying it very much.

In January, I read The Illustrated Lark Rise To Candleford by Flora Thompson and really enjoyed it. After watching the series on television, it wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it would contain more stories about the people who lived in the hamlet, but the book was more about their day to day lives, and traditions and customs. It was very interesting, and the illustrations were beautiful.

I popped in to a charity shop yesterday whilst out shopping and picked up Sister by Rosamund Lupton. It's doesn't sound like something I would usually read, but the blurb had me hooked. It sounds as though it will be one of those books which has you on the edge of your seat right till the end, so I'm looking forward to reading it. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Friday 3 February 2012

RSPB Fairburn Ings

Last weekend was the date for this years Big Garden Birdwatch, and even though we didn't take part due to lack of time after our outings and other commitments, we were still watching birds.

On Sunday, we headed off to RSPB Fairburn Ings which is about eight miles away from where we live. It's been a regular haunt of ours since Daniel and Eleanor were young as it was an ideal spot for them to feed the ducks and swans.

First of all, we headed to the visitor centre to buy our bird food. We could have taken some bread with us, but it's not nutritious enough as it doesn't contain the ingredients needed to keep the birds healthy. Seed is a much better option and doesn't cost very much.

There's a little cafe area in the visitor centre from where you can watch the garden birds on the feeders right outside. We had Archie with us and we couldn't take him inside, so we watched the garden birds from outside.

There were plenty of birds to see and they didn't seem at all nervous as people passed by. I'm not sure if this is a Great Tit or a Blue Tit, but going by the size I'd go for a Great Tit.

There were plenty of Goldfinches around, I wish I could attract some back in to my garden, it's been a while since I've seen any there.

There's lots of little signs in the garden area which give information on how to attract wildlife in to your own garden.

I'm glad that dragonflies aren't really this size, but what a beautiful sculpture.

Archie was taken with the ducks and swans, though I don't think the swans liked him if the amount of hissing is anything to go by.

The swans are really quite tame and will happily feed from your hand. Eleanor wasn't quite so sure as she offered her hand out to a swan.

It was a really cold day so we didn't stay long, but it won't be long until we're back again to wander along one of the trails.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

The challenge which I set myself at the start of the year to have more fresh flowers in the house is going well. You might not believe it but I've still got a few flowers left from the seasonal bunch which I bought at the start of the year. The whole bunch lasted a long time, but as they started dying off, I selected the ones which were still going strong, cut them down and popped them in to a smaller vase. Admittedly, they're on their last legs now, but that doesn't matter because I've got some jaunty new tulips to grace my vase.

These little beauties only cost £1.75 from Morrisons. That's not going to break the bank, and they're giving me enourmous pleasure just from looking at them.

When I first brought them in to the house, their stems bowed over almost double. Tulips don't seem to like warm, centrally heated rooms. I'd read somewhere that popping three copper coins in to the vase would perk them up again so I gave it a try. Three pennies were plopped in to the water, but they didn't seem to make any difference. The tulips now reside in my unheated conservatory where they're much happier and perkier.

I've taken a liking to white flowers just lately. They seem so understated and elegant, don't you agree?