Category Archives: Birthdays

Birthday Girl

15 weeks old

Vivvy at 15 weeks!

It’s hard to believe but Ms. Vivvy will be three years old next week! Wowee, where has the time gone? We adopted her just under two years’ ago and she’s been an absolute joy…and in unexpected ways. She’s not only gorgeous, well-behaved (mostly) and adaptable, but she’s so friendly and cheeky that she’s got quite the reputation here in the village where we live. We’ve lived here over twenty years now and until we started puppy-walking for guide dogs we only really knew a handful of people. That wasn’t helped by the fact we were both working during the day, too. Walking Vivvy has changed all that and now we have made so many lovely new friends and we really enjoy exploring the gorgeous countryside surrounding us.

Almost 3!

Vivvy – almost 3!

Because Vivvy has loads of doggy friends in the village I wanted to throw a ‘four-paws-party’ next weekend to celebrate her birthday and invite her chums along for fun and games in the garden. AJ thinks I’ve taken leave of my senses 🙂 While considering logistics I think he might be right. One of Vivvy’s BFFs is a sensitive little girl who gets stressed about the vagaries of the outside world, and her mum is currently trying to get her to come into our garden so that the girls can play while we enjoy a coffee, but until that happens I can’t consider a party without Vivvy’s special pal in attendance. Then there are a couple of dogs who don’t like each other, one who is very possessive over balls, another who barks incessantly when he gets excited…all in all, maybe a party is a trifle ambitious.

So, I’ll be making a special liver cake (yuk!) for our birthday girl (with candles of course) and she’ll have a special outing to the seaside  (her most favourite place on earth) and extra special hugs from us.

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Proud Daddy!

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July Happenings

July has been hectic even manic at times! A Roller-coaster of a month so far and it’s not over yet!! A red letter day was 10th when my youngest grandaughter Alice aged 10 appeared on the West End Stage, in London, with her Stage School. The Shaftesbury Theatre is at the heart of Theatreland. A coach full of excited performers and their families left the West Country, where we live, and drove to London. Anxious parents (and grandparents) dropped the children, with their teachers, off outside the theatre then we had a whole afternoon to spend in London. We chose to go to Covent Garden which was a short walk away. We made straight for an Italian Restaurant, one of Evie’s favourite places (Alice’s older sister aged 12) where she chose her usual ham and mushroom thin based pizza. Oh and olives to start with mini ciabatta rolls sizzling in garlic butter. Peter (known as BapBap by the grandchildren) and I (NanNan) had a delicious, rich, beef stew with gnocchi and Kate (Mum, our daughter) had roasted vegetable calzone. Perfect to set us all up. The olds also had an excellent glass of red wine each. Feeling suitably revived we wandered the stalls. Street musicians, acrobats, and students from the Royal Opera House sang, danced and performed around the squares. Tourists from many different countries followed their tour guides or just sat absorbing the scene. Sun shone gloriously, we managed to eat various flavoured gelatos to round off the afternoon, oh and fitted in some retail therapy. BapBap carried the bags patiently! Then it was time for the show.

The theatre is beautifully decorated, three tiers soared into the roof but we were in the front of the stalls. 16 different Stage Coach Schools from around the country as well as London gathered to perform, the standard of each school was incredibly high. We cheered loudly when our school came on in the second half but they got a standing ovation at the end of their performance. The theme of their piece was Land Girls (and boys) in the Second World War. The hair was in 40s style, with a modern twist, and uniforms of dungarees and shorts. They looked great. I know I was a proud grandma! They sang a selection of popular songs from the time with back-shots of real people projected onto a screen. Ages ranged from 10 to 16, the polished performance was worthy of that great theatre. FB_IMG_1468739361811Freddie Underwood, the Principal and Director beamed with pride. What a night.

A trip to Wales to see my niece Rhiannon graduate on 14th with a Masters Degree in Education. You have seen photos of Rhiannon in a previous blog. We were pleased to be invited and again proud of her achievements, a single mum who teaches full time.  On 19th her daughter Kerys graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, we were unable to attend but what a pair of amazing women they are. 20160714_161836

The other big occasion was between these two events on 17th when we hosted a family reunion at our small house. Luckily the sun shone as a total of 35 of us gathered (all my immediate family plus some of my cousins) aged from 84 down to 3. It was the first time for 15 years since the majority of us last met, none of the 7 young children were born then. My 5 grandchildren were there aged 3-12, my 8 year old great-nephew, a 6 year old cousin, 3 other great-nephews aged 16 and 18 and Kerys 21. Plus of course their parents and grandparents. Lots of champagne flowed, everyone brought food ranging from vegetarian pies, home-cooked gammon and beef, chicken dishes, salads galore, desserts, cheese, cakes you name it. Not much was left by the time everyone had gone home! The photo gives a small flavour of the day. received_1042511749178271

Wednesday 20th was my big Choir Concert. We sang the song we wrote earlier this year, When Will I See The Sun, for only the second time in public plus a range of other music from old English folk songs to a moving song, Pura Mame, from Figi honouring our ancestors. Another wonderful night, a dear friend was there to cheer me on and might submit a comment!20160720_195234_Burst05[1]

My birthday is on 30th but my son Matthew is 45 on 27th and my grandson Pete is 7 on 1st August so more celebrations to follow! Pete will be in New York with 16 members of the American branch of his family.

August will settle down and we can recharge, maybe.

A New Friend

Hello.  Thought I’d better pop my head over the parapet to introduce myself. I’m new here and rather nervous, but my owner says you are all friendly so I mustn’t be afraid. (Deep breath…)

2016-06-02 20.49.37I’m a travel bear, bought for my new owner, Kit, by a friend because Kit was so broken-hearted when Bunny was bunny-napped whilst on holiday with her and her sisters on the island of Rhodes last September. Bunny was never found, never returned. I heard rumour he didn’t want to come home because he much preferred soaking up the sun all day on a deckchair on the beach. I can’t say I blame him and I do hope for his sake, and for Kit’s, that that’s true. I’d hate to think he’s still spinning round and around in that great washing machine in the sky…

The lady who gave me to Kit told me before she tucked me up in my little cardboard box that I’m going to have a lot of fun because Kit loves to travel and party a lot and that she will always take me wherever she goes. And it sounds like my adventures are going to start soon; in three weeks’ time, she’s off on her travels again. I only hope she remembers to take me. I’m sure she will and, as she also has Thugs Bunny whom she takes places too, I’m going to have a companion so I won’t get lonely when she’s not there. Gosh, I’m so looking forward to my new life instead of being stuck on a glass shelf in a shop in the middle of nowhere (well, in Wales actually, wherever that is) because the other Travel Bears that shared that shelf with me weren’t very sociable and rarely spoke to anyone.

However, between you and me and the backyard fence, I’m not so sure about her family. They’re a funny lot. They’re mad, in fact. Total loons. I’ve reached this conclusion very quickly. You might recall back on Easter Sunday it was Kit’s mother’s 90th birthday. The “proper” family gift was to be a group photo of this grand old lady with her family down four generations, the photo to be enlarged onto a canvas and framed. Well, I caught a glimpse of this photograph and this is it!

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What do you think? Totally mad family, yes. I going to have some fun in the future  with this lot, I can tell.

Oh, I haven’t t2016-06-02 20.50.31old you my name, have I? I’m Mr Tumble. Kit gave me that name because she had great difficulty pulling open the box I was sleeping in when she unwrapped me and I tumbled out to the floor. I’m all right, I didn’t hurt myself. But from that moment she picked me up and gave me a squeeze and cuddle I knew I’d come to a good owner.

Well, that’s it for now and hope you’ll have me back soon to tell you all about my adventures with Kit.

PS: And just to put the record straight… here’s the real family group photo, with Mum in the middle with her four children on the sofa with grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered around. It is a shame that one grandson and great-grandson (little George – who’s not so little now) were unable to make the party, so I’ll have to persuade Kit and her loony sisters to organise a summer bbq so we can do it all again.

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TTFN

Mr Tumble

April Treats!

April has been a mixed month for many of us but I have been very lucky and believe me I am not complacent. I have sent positive thoughts to all of you but thought I’d share some of my April treats with you in the hope they make you smile.

Technically, my April Treats began on 31st March but I claim poetic licence! My dear niece Rhiannon was 50 in January so I bought her a token for a two hours spa session in Bath. Her daughter Kerys, who is 21, came with us too so we made a merry inter-generational trio. Our adventure began at midday when we decided rather than shopping we would go for cocktails. A favourite bar of mine is All Bar One which serves food, coffee, and alcohol all day plus plays jazz or “good” music, my definition, in a lovely atmosphere. We were fascinated with the names of the cocktails and shakes, some of which had a teapot symbol beside them. Our helpful waiter, Alex, explained the teapots were suitable for two people. I expect Prohibition might have been similar but not as colourful. I wanted a change from my usual dacquiri or margaritta so was happily guided by the girls. Rhiannon and I had a teapot of Raspberry Berry Surprise, the base being gin, and Kerys had a “shake” which came in a small milk bottle, the base was vodka. image6They were delicious, especially with the homemade nachos to soak up the alcohol, but we decided not to have more than one as we had a long afternoon ahead! So a good start.

Next stop was the Thermae Spa in Bath, built over some of the old Roman Baths I think, on three floors. We excitedly got changed, donning our robes and slippers (provided) and headed up to the open air pool on the roof. The sun shone gloriously, as the water is a great temperature we floated gently admiring the views of the hills around Bath and the Abbey Courtyard below. On the next floor down are four aromatherapy steam rooms plus a treatment studio. We had previously decided to forgo the treatments and enjoyed the healthy cleansing of the steam rooms, I can’t remember all of them but the eucalyptus was potent! In between each room we had a shower in the mineral shower to refresh ourselves. In the basement is a beautiful pool full of minerals (apparently) and not many people. I gave the jacuzzi a miss and chose just to wallow and enjoy the relaxation. After two hours we showered and changed then on to the food treat.

We were treated by my brother to afternoon tea with prosecco in the Pump Rooms. Wonderful. Linen cloths, crystal chandeliers and classical music quartet playing softly, very civilised. The tea arrived and we were shocked image4as it was impossible to eat it all, we brought some home with us! Delicious doesn’t cover it. Our waitress picked up on birthday celebration so the quartet suddenly began playing Happy Birthday and a gorgeous chocolate muffin with a candle arrived while the staff sang and other customers applauded. Rhiannon didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and was overcome with emotion. She thought we had arranged it but waitress told her they try to do that for special occasions. The staff were professional but so helpful and friendly. A gentleman at the next table took a photo of us image2as a memento. A lady at another table came over to thank us as she had received some bad news so her husband brought her to tea from the hospital and we had made her smile. What a treat, hard to top but …

We came home where Peter, my husband, had another bottle of prosecco chilling and had booked a table in our local Italian Restaurant. We rested and sipped then off the four of us went – more food! It was excellent, usually is, and the waiters also picked up on birthday so sang! What a day. We came home unable to eat or drink another thing and fell into bed happy and content.

Two other treats for me too, one I’ll tell you about next month – Painting the Modern Garden Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy in London. Then the Choir Convention in St. George’s Chapel, Brandon Hill, Bristol. We sang our song to 600 other members of choirs from across the West Country. It was a blast!

I hope I’ve made you smile but most importantly I hope you all have a good month of May, perhaps with the odd treat!

www.allbarone.co.uk

www.thermaebathspa.com

www.romanbaths.co.uk/pump-room-restaurant

www.casa-restaurants.co.uk

www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Surprise Surprise

Easter Sunday dawned a very special day for my family in that it was also my mother’s 90th birthday. My sisters and I had racked our brains trying to think of a suitable present, but what can you get for a gentle, fit and independent lady who has had a full, exciting life and done much more than most of us would ever dream of doing. There was simply nothing she needed or wanted other than a quiet meal out with her daughters. Ha ha, not this year, Mum! My brother solved the dilemma by deciding to come over from Spain, where he lives, to help celebrate this grand occasion, so we agreed he would be our mum’s birthday surprise. She hadn’t seen him for several years now that her travelling abroad days are over and it is unlikely she will go to Spain again. Thus the plot was hatched.

Bob flew into Bristol airport on Good Friday, where my husband and I met him, an hour’s drive away. It was a beautiful morning. Rather than a boring, hectic drive across the city, we took him the scenic route where he could enjoy the views and spring daffodils and fresh greenery our country does so well at this season, scenes he hadn’t realised how much he missed. Saturday was wet, windy and depressing so we spent the day relaxing and catching up on all our news and gossip, until the early hours of Sunday morning. It was 2:30 am before we ventured upstairs to bed, only then realising the clocks had gone forward by an hour and it was really 3:30 am!

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Mum and Bob chatting

We set off at noon to drive to one of my sister’s home where we were having an informal, relaxed family get together. Everyone was already there so Dave and I went in and said our hellos etc before I called Mum out into the hallway, saying her birthday present was there and that it was too heavy for me to carry in. The look on her face when she saw my brother was priceless; we were all too emotional to take any photos. Once over the shock, the champagne was opened and glasses raised. Another surprise came with the arrival of my daughter and her two children, whom my mother hadn’t seen for some time. It was such a pity that one of my nephews and his wife and son – little George – couldn’t make the journey, they were well missed by everyone, particularly by Bob.

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Mum cutting her cake

Much feasting, drinking, chatting and laughter ensued. Mum’s real present is to be a family photograph of all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered around her. One of my niece’s husband is a professional photographer so busily clicked away as we scrabbled over each other and squeezed up to get us all in – good job we’re a close family. We haven’t seen any of his photos yet but the best one will be blown up onto canvas for her, one Mum, and us, can treasure for years to come.

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My daughter and her two children

We left my brother with our mum so they could spend a few more days enjoying each other’s company before leaving for Spain again. Having spoken to Mum yesterday, she totally enjoyed her birthday, complete with several cakes and balloons, and was over the moon at seeing her only son again – a complete surprise.

And we all look forward to sharing many more birthdays with her.

Champagne, Laughs and Manolos

I imagine most of us have heard a variation of Hunter S Thompson’s quote:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand and chocolate in another, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming ‘WooHoo! What a ride’.

Well, with these words in mind, a friend and I have spent the last couple of days in London after we decided to slide into our pensioner-status birthdays in a memorable way.

Me and Dee at Covent Garden

Covent Garden

We booked into a lovely little hotel near London’s West End and headed for Covent Garden with its lovely markets and quirky shops just made for browsing. Soon the late afternoon chill called for a glass of mulled wine around the Christmas tree, then it was off to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical. It was fabulous, as was the pre-theatre dinner we enjoyed at The Waldorf where we treated ourselves to a glass of champagne (or two).

Cheers! At The Waldorf

Living it up at The Waldorf

Next day, following a leisurely and rather late breakfast, we headed to the shops. First stop was Liberty, where we enjoyed morning coffee and some serious lusting after Manolo Blahnik shoes.

I'll have a pair in each colour, please

“I’ll take a pair in each size, please.”

Liberty

Covent Garden

Then it was Fortnum and Mason and their Christmas shop and fabulous selection of seasonal fare. So tempting, but I (mostly) managed to keep a tight hold on the purse-strings. Since all that restraint was very tiring we soon needed sustenance again. All I will say is that afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an experience…and necessitated a deep dig into that hitherto tightly closed purse 🙂

But we had an amazing couple of days and created some fab memories. Can’t put a price on that, right?

Shine on, Shine strong, Neil Diamond!

Time travel warning. I’m about to revert to a 17-year-old teenager again, but first, I need to give you a bit of background. 31 years ago, my mother and I took my then 8 year old daughter to her first ever concert. Neil Diamond. Even though she covered her ears at some of the noise, it was a night she’s always remembered. Me, too.

Flash forward to Mother’s Day when, as a combination Mom’s Day/birthday gift, my daughter repaid the favor and took me to see Neil Diamond. Here’s where I revert. 20150510_165029We were on the freeway, with me having no idea WHERE we were headed, when a Neil Diamond song pops up on her sound system. I’m like…”Neil!” and she’s like “Yessss!” Still took me a minute to clue in, but then it was one of those OMG, OMG, OMG moments, you know? I just couldn’t believe it. Then I erupted with sheer joy. We called my mom first, because she was with us so long ago. She laughed and definitely enjoyed our enthusiasm. Then we called my husband, who’d been keeping Christie’s secret for three months! We spent the rest of the drive up singing Neil Diamond songs and reveling in the memories and the anticipation.

Everything fell into place with this, from my daughter seeing the concert ad at just the right time, to us lucking into a parking spot one block from the venue that had an easy out. We had a great dinner at a trendy little restaurant. Then we settled in our seats…row frigging nine from the floor!!! We didn’t even have to look at the tv screens, we were that close! 20150510_193703

Neil Diamond sang without intermission for 2 hours and 10 minutes! And he’s doing concerts every other day…at the age of 74! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

That man hasn’t lost his touch. He got me through some very rough teenage emotions and that emotional bond to his message was right back in place on this night. His voice is strong, his presence equally so. He had us all crying and swaying and clapping and singing and hugging. It was amazing.

It was a night of laughter and high emotion and I’m so grateful to have been there. And so grateful for my daughter’s HUGE gift to me. I turned 60 two days ago. And 60 is looking pretty darn awesome, thanks to all the wonderful people surrounding me. And to one amazing night that made me feel seventeen again, a youthfulness that has lingered in the days since the concert.

So many, many thanks to my daughter for a gift that I will remember FOREVER…in Blue Jeans!

The Diamond is shining strong! And I am, at the moment, feeling young again.