Sunday, 20 August 2017

Always Read The Small Print!

Despite being extremely tired following so many hectic days, I had to forgo a lie in on Saturday morning as family were coming down.
There were still several loads of washing to be done and then a picnic to prepare.
The weather wasn't kind to us and was very windy and rainy, but we were thankful the rain held off for the picnic.
We went up to a local hill which is always popular with our visitors for the views and the green space to play on.
The Teens brought their kites for the little ones to play with ( I say little ones, but the lad is about to start Hayden Senior School next month!) and everything started well.
Pretty soon the little lass took over flying the kite and I reminded her she had to hold on tight to the handle or the kite would fly away.
She was very good and kept a tight grip....until two large Alsatians bounded out of a car and ran straight up to her!
The poor terrified girl dropped the handle and ran for her life as fast as her little legs could carry her!!
I have to say I would probably have done the same!

So the next hour was spent with the men trying to tease the kite out of a tree, which was surrounded by brambles and bushes!
They managed to get it out of the tree and then down onto the bush, and after so pulling and tugging had the kite out, rather torn and carbon fibres slightly shredded....
...but with the help of some duck tape it was soon flying high again!
Meanwhile us girls sat on the bench and took in the view.
I had taken along the "Find Its" in case it rained and we were stuck sheltering in the car.
The mum was addicted pretty soon and instantly ordered one on Amazon and was starting to create a list of people they would make ideal presents for!
It was a good job I had taken both games so they could both  try and find that penny!
Eventually the lad wanted to go crabbing, something he had enjoyed the last time he was with us...
...its always popular and so cheap to do!!

...the crabs weren't biting today, but they did manage to catch a few shrimp and that was satisfying enough for them.
We then met up in Bella Italia for dinner with their parents and brother.
It had been suggested their mum would be addicted to the Find It game...and yep...she enjoyed it and reckoned her late dad would have enjoyed it too.
Whilst we were waiting for our meals to come, the Find Its really came in handy...
...although their dad preferred the word search on the kids menu!
Meanwhile with the adults in charge of the Penny challenge, Teen One taught the kids Uno, which occupied them the whole time...and considering we were there for over three and a half hours, I was so glad I had thought to pack it!
The arrangement had been, that the Grandma would trade in her Tesco vouchers for Bella Italia vouchers, and we would then split the difference, which would be mainly the drinks bill.
So when the bill came in for almost £250 we were very thankful for those Tesco vouchers!
However we were in for a shock!
Sadly when the vouchers were printed off, the small print wasn't read.
They weren't available at this particular branch throughout the month of August!!!
If only we had known we could have gone to another Bella Italia not too far away!
It kind of spoilt the end of a lovely day, in as much as we all like to watch the pennies and consider treats like this rare and only possible because of the vouchers.
I am a regular reader of small print and hopefully they will be in future too.
We were right on the water front and Hubby mentioned the sun would be setting pretty soon, so we hung around for that, just to lift the mood and end on a high note.
It was a lovely day, although by the time we got home I was like that little Duracell bunny...completely out of charge!!
With so many hectic days, it was lovely to have a normal Sunday today.
With the dinner cooked and cleared away, we had a quiet afternoon with Grandma playing our usual games and my batteries are slowly starting to recharge!
Next week is looking to be a fairly relaxed on, aside for some scone making for an upcoming family wedding...having spent the morning thinking I was going to be making 400, the real figure is going to be a doddle!

Friday, 18 August 2017

From Henry VIII To Dick Van Dyke!

The trouble with committing to a daily blog, is when you have to skip a day or two it builds up!
So here is a potted history of the past few days with Hubby's Australian cousins.
They arrived Tuesday evening and the Golden Cheese Tart went down a treat, even Teen Two enjoyed it ( not usually keen on raw veg) so I am glad to have it back on the menu as I am rather partial to it!
For dessert I did the good old faithful White Chocolate Torte with those fancy caramelised biscuits, usually served with lattes.
I used the china tea set gifted to me from my late neighbours for the first time, and the Ozzies really appreciated the "English" touch and intend to serve some desserts the same way when back home.
Teen Two took the photos for me, the top one rather over exposed and this one too far away, but hey, my photography is pretty poor too, but you get the idea of what they looked like.....this one was part way through the final touches, the raspberries really life the dish I think.
Wednesday morning, with the navy being in the family blood, there was only one place the men wanted to be, at the Dockyard, little did we know the new Queen Elizabeth was coming in, so the place was heaving!!
First visit though was  HMS Warrior, we were able to show them the parts that Hubby made many years ago...
...the next queue to join was for HMS Victory.
Like our US friends, our cousins from down under are always amazed at how old our history is.
To be honest something made in the 1800's seems almost recent ( only the century before I was born!) whereas things built by the Romans really do seem old, and of course we have many things just locally with that sort of age to them.
We just don't appreciate what's around us I guess.
After a spot of lunch, we then went to see the Mary Rose Museum, and also the new carrier of course, but time didn't allow us to see everything, however our tickets are valid for a year so we have no excuse for not going back.
Back home everyone was shattered....but of course even though I was "weary worn and tired" as my grandmother would say, with feet aching from all that walking, it was into the kitchen for me to make everyone a cuppa and then pop the dinner in the oven.
We had a lovely evening and all went to bed tired out!
Thursday was rather gloomy, and also the day they were moving up country slightly.
We took them to see where the first fleet left for Australia, which of course was of great interest to them.
We then went to Southsea Castle, built by Henry VIII where we had a lovely lunch.
It's not every day they will get to eat lunch in such an old castle or one that belongs to one of History's notorious kings!
Nearby is a small garrison church where tea was first drank in England.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye, all the sadder when the last time we said goodbye we knew we would be seeing each other again in a few months...this time its likely we won't meet again, since Australia is such a long way away and we don't have any thoughts of making a return visit.
However, we have enjoyed getting to know them, and social media/skype is an excellent way to keep in touch.
With the family having been waved off, we hurriedly packed an overnight bag and headed up to Coventry.
We had hoped to get there in time to go to the Transport Museum for Hubby, but the traffic was pretty dire, so  we didn't manage to do that sadly, so stopped off at a local Harvester before booking in to our hotel...then wished we hadn't!
The above picture is the seal around the bath...
...and this is the mould on the ceiling!
It is probably our first failure as far as researching online and taking reviewers word for the place being good.
There were many good reviews and one bad review...well I think we must have had the same room as the bad reviewer!
It wasn't expensive but I think everyone deserves a clean environment when going in as paying guests.
Needless to say I will be letting the hotel know my thoughts...seeing as I wasn't asked on the way out!
I cant say I had a good nights sleep and was glad when morning broke.
We headed out to camp to collect Teen One, who had really enjoyed her week.
Before going home we made a detour to Turville, a small quaint village in Oxfordshire.
We had called in to Morrisons for the £3 meal deal and I was delighted to find infused water as one of the drink choices....mmmmm!
Almost as soon as we arrived in the village the rain came, so we sat in the car and enjoyed our lunch, waiting for a dry spell.
We went to Turville because this is where the windmill used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is.

Its quite a climb up the hill...

...and the views were stunning from the top...
...I guess the people who own the mill get rather tired of folk coming up to admire their home, so there is a large fence obscuring most of the view...
...this is the best I could get..and that was with my arms has high as I could reach over the fence!
I don't blame the owners for wanting their privacy, it must be very annoying having their home invaded all the time...
...and the best views really do come from down below in the village.
The walk down was far less arduous and the grey clouds lifted.
We took a short walk round the village, where every cottage was delightful.
A fairly short drive away is Russell's Water, which is the pond that Truly Scrumptious drove her car into.
As Chitty is one of my favourite films it was lovely to visit this places, even though they bear little resemblance to the screen shots!
The journey home was pretty miserable as we hit the rush hour traffic and Teen One nodded off pretty did I eventually!
Back home there is an endless amount of laundry to tackle, so I am hoping for good weather tomorrow...although we wont be home for much of it,
we received a text from family in Ruislip saying they would like to come down for the day, so it was washing in the machine then a quick trip out to the supermarket to get some food in for the weekend then plan what we are going to do with the kiddies tomorrow!
Sunshine would be such a blessing!!




Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Waiting Game

This morning I woke up around 4.45am, felt wide awake, so at 5am decided to get up and have a cuppa, quiet browse online, before getting on with preparing for the visitors due later today.
It was very frustrating therefore to be sat comfy in my chair, with a cuppa a slice of toast, to read the laptop say "Updating....this may take some time!"
By the time I had drank my tea  it was only at 1% so clearly this was going to be a long job.
Instead I busied myself making my usual bramble flapjack...
...a pastry case ready for this vintage recipe...
...with the left over pastry I made Teen Two a red Leicester cheese and pepperoni pie...
...which was no looker, but  I am reliably informed was very tasty and worth repeating!
The laptop was STILL updating, but I had achieved quite a lot and it was still not even my usual getting up time!
When Teen Two was up he helped me with getting the Golden Cheese Pie ready, grating all the carrot ( not my favourite task!) and cheese...
...then he climbed onto the small roof and hosed down the conservatory roof for me.
Its now lovely and clean, with beautiful views out onto the bright blue skies we have had all day.
I spent the morning getting the beds made up, bathrooms cleaned and generally pottering around.
With no real idea when the visitors were coming we stayed home, aside from Teen Two going to the bottle bank for me, we played Rummikub, watched some Last of The Summer Wine, and generally  chilled after the hectic morning.
We now know our visitors hope to be here around 7.30 -8pm, so it will be a later than usual evening meal, but as Hubby isn't expecting to be home till around then its worked out fine.
Teen Two and I have had a bowl of cereal to keep us going!
We are really looking forward to seeing the folks again and spending the day with them tomorrow.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Visitors From Afar

Is it just me or does Monday come round really quickly?
It seems I no sooner visit my Recycled Teenager then its time to go round again!
I felt a bit rotten today, I had no plated up dinner to take her, having been away for the weekend there was no roast for us yesterday, so no left overs to pass on.
She wasn't feeling up to a shopping trip today, which is becoming quite a regular thing....I am hoping she isn't fading before my eyes.
After doing the shopping, I took Teen One's car into Tesco for a valet service.
Not only did it shine on the outside... was wonderfully fresh and spruce inside!
I should have taken a before photo as it really was in dire need of a had a post festival look about it, but for just £20 the "Gold" treatment was well worth every penny and from now on it will be easier to keep clean.
Knowing the crew had rather a job on their hands, I picked up a dozen doughnuts for them to share on their coffee break.
Does one tip car washers?
I wasn't sure but felt they needed some kind of reward.
Tomorrow Hubby's cousin from Australia is coming for a couple of nights, with his wife and their two friends.
We are really looking forward to seeing them again, having met them for the first time this Easter.
Originally Grandma was going to have one couple and we were putting up the other couple, but with Grandma being away on holiday it seemed silly to have one couple alone at Grandma's, so we are doing a bedroom switch for the next couple of nights.
Teen Two can go in Teen One's single bed, we will then move to Teen Two's room, where his single bed can be extended to be a double bed and then one lot of visitors can have our room.
Teen Two's "double bed" has one side against the wall, so that's not ideal for anyone who might be needing to get up in the night, hence the reason for the switch over.
However, our room is the one I pay the least attention to, it gets vaccumed at least every week and dusted when I can write in the dust regularly, but it tends to be a dumping ground, so today those areas had to be sorted and furniture pulled out to ensure it was spic and span.
Part way through the afternoon my late neighbour's son called...with flowers as usual!
I say "as usual" but never take it for granted and always tell him not to keep spending his money on me!
I think I will put one in each of the visitors rooms, nothing like fresh flowers is there.

I felt the need to have something home baked in the cupboard and started with  one of my favourites,
Fruit Tea Bread.
The recipe came from an old family friend and is so quick and easy to make.
10 oz dried fruit
7 oz soft brown sugar
1/2 pint cold black tea
I large egg
10 oz SR flour ( white/wholemeal/half and half)
Soak the fruit and sugar in the cold tea overnight.
Stir well and add beaten egg and flour, mix well.
Pour into greased loaf tin and bake 180 degree 350 F Gas 4
1 1/2 hours.
Improves with keeping....if you can resist it!
Fat free as it is, but delicious buttered!