Sunday, October 09, 2011


Ever since we moved in we have hated the huge monstrosity between our garden and next door. It blocks out all the light and harbours more than one family of snails. 

Before photo

Next door started trimming their side back, so we started trimming our side and before we knew it we were talking to next door about getting rid of it completely.

We started removing some at the end of the garden and next door finished the job off during the week. 

It took us 10 trips to the tip the weekend to get rid of all of the debris but the garden looks so much open now. I can't believe how much space we've gained. Next door is going to help us put up some willow screening next weekend (well actually helping Ollie, as I will be at work). Then we just need to get rid of the flowerbed so we can actually have room to sit on the patio.

Hottest October since Record Breakers ended

We had one last weekend of glorious weather for the summer (or should I say one weekend of glorious weather in the summer). As Nigel was home we had arranged a couple of things with him and Sarah. The first was a night out in Croydon, our first since moving here 18 months ago. Sara and Keira joined us and we had a few drinks in Yates and then moved on to Reflex, the 80s nightclub. I must say, there are some very funny looking people who go out in Croydon on a Friday night! Still a great night was had by all and we danced until the wee hours of the morning. I must say that the evening was only marred by the lack of kebab shops open at 1:30 on a Saturday morning so I had to come home and make us all cheese on toast!

We were booked in to do a wine and wisdom on Saturday night in Faversham. We had planned to go down at lunch time and make the most of the weather in the pub garden. Unfortunately Nigel banned that idea as he said we would be in no fit state to answer the quiz questions. So after a rather yummy pub lunch we went for a 'walk'. This turned out to be a six mile hike across the Kent countryside. It was a bit hot but very enjoyable to be walking in the sunshine.

There was no food provided at the wine and wisdom so we had all organised a piece of dinner. We were the only table to turn up with a full 3 course meal, even if Paul misunderstood when we said we needed spoons for desert and we ended up with 2 spoons between 8 of us! 

The questions were aimed at people about 20 years older than us so needless to say we didn't do too well. We became the rowdy table in the corner instead. We didn't come last though, managing to languish mid table. A professional quiz team had managed to sneak past the invigilators and they won the Kentish apple juice, but were very ungracious, leaving as they picked up their prize and throwing their raffle prizes in the bin! How rude! If you don't want it at least throw it away at home!

New Fish

My tank was ready for fish a couple of weeks before my birthday. Ollie went and got the first ones from our local fish shop while I was at work as he had a day off.  He got 3 white Mollys and 2 Ottos.

The Mollys spent the first 2 weeks hiding in the log refusing to come out. They would only stick their noses out to eat whatever food fell their way.

We decided that part of their problem was the fact that they are community fish and they didn't really have a community. As the water levels were holding out ok, we went to get the next batch - 5 cherry barbs.

3 days after we brought them home one of the Mollys gave birth to more than 30 baby fishes. They were so very cute! I've never managed to breed fish before so it was a major shock! So far all of the babies have survived and a week later we had another smaller batch from the other female Molly. The tank is now completely overstocked and we had a third batch of babies last Thursday! Luckily the local fish shop has agreed to take them back - I just need to catch them! We're thinking that we may want to get a fish that will eat the fry if we have any more - the Mollys are supposed to eat their own fry but ours don't seem interested.

Brian is still very interested in the fish. He hasn't quite worked out a plan to get past the 'force field' yet though.

Liz and Nic's birthday party

Liz and Nic had a 50s themed party for their 30th birthdays. It was fun to see all the outfits and Ethan looked so cute dressed up just like his daddy!

I'm especially pleased with this last photo having played with the manual settings on the camera enough to take a half decent photo in really low light levels!

Birthday Party

It was my 30th Birthday in September and I had a bit of a party to celebrate. We hired a hall at the community centre by Mum and Dads. Lynn and Ian brought their speakers so I could play my own music and mum and I spent 2 days baking cakes and other goodies.

Gemma helped make a mountain of sandwiches that was far too many to be honest.

We all had a great evening dancing away. Sebastian, Harvey, Dylan, Zach and Ryan had fun playing with the balloons. Finley enjoyed his first ever party and slow dance with Granddad. We had a great time teaching Ethan and Niamh the moves to YMCA and Grease.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finished Lounge

We finally got round to putting the new blinds up in the lounge. Unfortunately when we opened the box with the big rail we were missing all of the component parts. Luckily I called on Monday morning and the new bits were delivered Tuesday with no argument about the fact that it had been 4 months since they were delivered.

It looks so much nicer with clean blinds rather than the old manky ones.

I also have my new fish tank all set up and ready. Ollie got it for me for my birthday. It's growing fish friendly bacteria at the moment, but it will definitely be ready for some fish before my birthday.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What's wrong with these people?

Watching the news last night with all the rioting in Croydon along with the awful fires was bad enough. We had also been following twitter to keep up with all the scaremongering, attempting to incite people as well as updates on where had been hit (there is only so much the BBC and Sky News helicopters can cover)

Our area kept being mentioned, but as they had suspended all transport in and out the area it seemed unlikely to materialise. Unfortunately we were wrong and at just gone 3am this morning the thugs managed to set fire to the co-op in our parade of shops. (There was also reports of the Lidl being hit but that looked fine). The chicken place had their shutters ripped off and the glass panel in the door kicked out. The good news is that this seems to be the extent of the damage - our local independent stores seem to be ok. Martin's the newsagents is alright which is good as they only just replaced the whole of the front of their shop after a ram raid at the beginning of the year.

When Ollie headed off to work just after 5:30 this morning he came face to face with 6 fire engines including one from Northolt some 27 miles away. All the trams were suspended (the track and overhead lines caught fire at Reeves corner where the furniture shop burnt down in the town centre anyway so I doubt they would have been running a normal service anyway)

There were a LOT of angry people out when I had a wonder down for some fresh air and to see if I had any hope of getting a gift voucher for Sebastian's birthday tomorrow (I am off sick with Gastritus, never have I been so glad to be sick so I didn't have to worry about fighting my way into work). These angry people included a lot of angry young people who don't want to be associated with the trouble makers and a worrying large quantity of people with very scary looking dogs! I'm worried that if it kicks off tonight there will be an angry mob waiting to 'sort 'em aauut' as I overheard one particularly scary looking bunch claim. I can't say that I blame them and yes, we should stand up to these people but I can only see this making the police's job even harder and leading to more casualties, more problems for A&E and less access for the fire brigade when the fires are started.

Anyway, here are the ugly scenes - the flats above ARE residential and they are occupied. I sincerely hope that everyone made it out ok.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Camping with the Keebles

The weekend before last saw us packing up our camping gear and heading off to sunny Folkestone for a weekend away with Gemma, Marc, the boys at the site where Ian and Carole have a static caravan. We had added several pieces to our camping gear to make us more self sufficient including a camping stove, kettle, table and funky new moon chairs.

The weekend didn't get off to the best start as I was almost taken out on the M20 by a foreign lorry and unfortunately the postcode for the campsite doesn't actually take you to the location of the campsite when you plug it into your satnav. After a couple of phone calls to Gemma and several wrong turnings I finally arrived! Ollie caught the high speed train after work and me and Gemma picked him up from the station after a trip to Sainsburys for essentials. (Chocolate buttons and cake!)

The site was lovely. Nothing like I was expecting. When Ollie told me that the campsite was halfway up a cliff I was really worried. We've done camping by the sea with no protection from the wind and it wasn't fun! But this was completely different. The site was broken up into tiny areas on loads of different levels, all protected by trees and shrubs and felt very private. The views were amazing.

Friday night we pitched our tent and had a very nice BBQ. Unfortunately the guys pitched just above us also had a very nice BBQ and a few bevvies and were making noise until gone 3am! Then the boys got up at just after 5 so all in all very little sleep was had.

We were still determined to make the most of the day though and packed up our picnic and headed off to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. I hadn't been since I was small and there were lots that I hadn't seen.

We went in the model railway at New Romney and then hopped on the train to Dungeness.

We thoroughly upset some miserable old bid by getting in a carriage with her and she huffed about it all the way to Dungeness before trying to get out before the train had stopped, managing to shut her head in the door as she did so!

We stayed on the train back to New Romney to eat our picnic in the play park.

It was then back on the train towards Hythe. We decided that we didn't want to spend the extra 40 minutes on the train for 20 minutes watching the turntable so got off at Dymchurch leaving Ian, Carole and Zach on the train. We spent a fun 45 minutes putting 2ps in the machines in the amusement arcade. Harvey managed to win the phone charm I had been working on.

Then it was off to the beach. We hadn't got any beach gear so we sat and had a drink and a snack and the boys went off with Marc and Ollie to play long jump across the breakwater. I had to have a go as well but managed to loose my sunnies on my first jump and stamped on them while trying to avoid them. Luckily the sand was soft and they just sunk, no damage done.

Donkeys on the beach

Once we had meet Ian, Carole and Zach it was time to hop back on the train and go home for our fish and chips for tea. We walked off our fish and chip supper by a climb to the top of the cliff. It was quite hard going as it is quite steep in places, but the views from the top were amazing.

It's a long way up!

While we were out some Eastern Europeans had moved into the pitch next door and we were a bit worried about all the coolers full of beer and the giant fire pit. However, there was nothing to worry about as they went to bed quite early and as the owners of the site had a quiet word in the ear of the noisy lads it was a very peaceful night all round.

Sunday we had decided to go and get some exercise, so after we had packed up our pitch we headed off to the tennis courts. Marc and I won the first set and the second set was called a draw after we were tied on games and the last game kept going from advantage to deuce and back again. Ollie, Gem and I left the others to go for a round of golf while we headed to Sainsburys for more picnic supplies.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Baby Finley

Baby Finley was born at 8pm on Friday 15th July after a long labour. Weighing in at 7lbs 3 he's a little cutie. His feet don't even reach the end of his baby grow bless him.

We had to wait a week before we could visit as Paul was visiting from Ireland and had the car but it was well worth the wait.

He seemed to like cuddles with his auntie Kelly (he cried a bit when I had to hand him back to Grandma so I could drink my tea)

Laura assures me that he loves the elephant that I made for him. The elephant will have to wait for a name as I've said that Finley has to name it when he is big enough. Plus they have to keep it well away from Bailey dog in case he thinks it belongs to him!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ice Cream on the Common

Ian kindly arranged tickets for the Ben and Jerry's Sundae on the Common festival at Clapham Common.

Luckily it coincided with Nigel's leave from the ship and was a great opportunity for us all to get together and celebrate his recent engagement to Sarah. Congratulations guys!

We got there just as the doors opened at 12, but decided not we wouldn't risk the festival food and headed to the pub for lunch instead. I think we might have been better off with the festival food as Sarah had paella a bit later on as she didn't fancy the pub food and it looked much better than the overpriced sandwiches we had in the pub.

We helped ourselves to free ice cream when we went in for our desert as the queues weren't too long. They had lots of ice cream tents with different flavours so one of the first jobs was to scout out which flavours were in what locations!

We then sat down on Nigel's picnic rug to listen to the music. We weren't too sure about the African music at the start or even Steve Craddock. But Ash and Ocean Colour Scene were excellent and we even saw James Buckley (Jay from the Inbetweeners) play with Steve Craddock and OCS.

Nigel had a nap and as nobody had a sharpie handy for a fake 'tash and we made him a Madonna bra out of ice cream wrappers!

The queues for ice cream got longer and longer and we had to queue for over half an hour for the cookie dough ice cream! I did manage to get 7 while I was there though (1 for everybody, not 7 just for me!) by telling the ice cream server that I had left the kids outside the tent!!!

The day was rounded off nicely by a trip to gourmet burger which I must say was one of the best we've had.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


We got a shed when it was on offer from Sainsbury's just before Easter. We painted it to preserve the wood and it's been sitting in bits in the garden ever since.

Ollie started dismantling the old shed at 9 in the morning while I started sorting out all of the screws. As expected we were missing some screws so I was dispatched to the hardware store on my way to the dentist.

By the time I was home half an hour later Ollie had already dismantled most of the old shed and after helping him dispatch the rest of it we set about levelling the base. This was harder than we had anticipated as the base for the existing sheds were in no way level. Several bricks and paving slabs later we had a level(ish) surface to lay the base onto.

Many many hours of assembling later (almost 300 screws, plus nails and tacks) and only the minimum of breaks for lunch and dinner we finally put the final piece on at 9 in the evening. We still need to put the catches on the doors, but we were far too achy today and besides it keeps raining! We have been outside to check the waterproofness of the roof and it seems to be sound, sturdy and it's huge inside! I'm very pleased with the end result.

The only remaining problem is that we now have many many pieces of old shed in a pile in the garden that need to be disposed of!


We came home from Ireland Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning we were back out on the road down to the New Forest for a few days camping with Helen, Alan and the piggies. We had left the organising to Alan so all we had was the postcode of the campsite! We timed our departure just right and met up with the Sharmans at Fleet services for a KFC lunch.

Alan ignored the Sat-Nav on the way down which turned out to be a good thing as his route kept us to the motorways and main roads instead of the small country roads through the New Forest. The campsite turned out to be an old airfield and was the largest that we had been to. Unlike all our previous campsites there were no fixed pitches and we hadn't been allocated an area so had to choose all by ourselves! After looking at the map we picked an area we thought looked ok and headed over. On stopping Helen was a bit worried about the distance from the toilet block so we said we would drive round to the other side to see if there was a suitable pitch somewhere closer. However, on the way there Alan saw a good spot and headed straight for it, just about as far away from the toilet block as you could possibly get!

Wednesday was a trip out to Paulton's Park to visit the newly opened Peppa Pig world. It was quite expensive for what it was and being half term was absolutely packed with really long queues.

We went for a ride on the train
After spending a while at the Peppa land we had some overpriced lunch (No one had remembered to pack a picnic) and headed over to the grown up rides. Ethan loved the grown up rides and couldn't get enough the little thrill seeker!

Ollie won the race down the bumpy slide

Niamh was feeling a little left out though so while we queued for the rollercoaster, Helen took her back to Peppa. After a couple of rides on the huge slide it was time to head back to the tent via Sainsbury's for 3 types of steak for our BBQ!

Thursday it was our turn to pick the entertainment and as Ollie had never been to Portsmouth to see the boats we headed off to the historic dockyard. This time we had remembered our picnic so we had cheese sandwiches on the boat ride around the harbour. We saw lots of ships, old and new including 2 boats containing shipments of bananas. We had just missed the US aircraft carrier that had been docked just outside the harbour the weekend before. We looked around the HMS Victory and then had ice creams before playing for a bit in Action Stations which is the educational area before heading back to our tents.

Dinner was a well deserved take away from the local Indian take away which Ollie and Alan went while we took the kids to the play park.