Half-terms are for adults too you know, not just for children. Well perhaps only for adults working in schools. Each half-term, I have a mental list of all the things I'm going to "achieve". I never achieve them all. Where am I going wrong? Maybe in the idea that I have to "get things done", rather than just "do" things. This Whitsun week, spent with the in-laws in a cottage-complex near Frome in Somerset, I unintentionally changed the idea of my "to do list" in favour of a "creative do list". Here's what I did. I swam every day in the massive pool, improving my front crawl which was a great achievement in itself for me. I also ran every other day, first thing, which set me off in a good mood for the whole day. My m-i-l and I visited Stourhead House and Gardens. Whilst the house was a touch dry, the gardens were stunning. Taking an hour or so just to walk around idyllic meadows and rhododendron-lined pathways, investigate grottos…
These days, I love a good yomp around the countryside. A coastal walk is the best, but country walks rock too. The problem is, Ben doesn't love them quite as much as me and Mr Humdrum. I was never a good walker when I was young. How I wish now that I'd done the Ten Tors, but I never saw the beauty in tackling rolling hills. I'd rather have been gothing in my bedroom or, earlier still, playing on the beach. So how to interest Ben? To be fair to Ben, at the end of a walk, he will usually say he's enjoyed it, but he'll just moan during it. And when you holiday in Cornwall each year, there aren't that many parts of the countryside which better it, so he's not really going to appreciate it as much as I do. Yesterday we walked around the Devil's Punchbowl. Our new hobby, geocaching, provided a hook. We 'cached beforehand (tick) and gave Ben the choice of where to 'cache on the way home. He just had to endure a walk in the middle, where there were NO ca…
Where else would you get to take a selfie with a Gruffalo? Year 5 was the last place (apart from 2kool4skool Year 6s) I'd expect children to get excited about seeing this hirsute brown beast. But yes they did, and what a joy it was to see. The Gruffalo was at school to promote our Book Fair, walking up and down the corridor beforehand, funnily enough at the same time one teacher was "at a meeting". I found Gruff, as I call him, in the staff room having refreshments (a mouse smoothie) but he was willing to pose with me.
1, After 43 years of not liking beer, I had my first pint (well a third of) in the Wave Maiden last Friday. Grand Cru (one of the 100 beers to try before you die apparently) with a champagne fizz on the tongue. Lovely. Converted? Not quite, but I'll return.
2. I can shop at any time. Even on a play date. Cal and I bought these unique bags at the Southsea Greenhouse, in Canoe Lake. We haven't been there for ages and we very surprised to see the Greenhouse and Greens Cafe!
3. Ben needs his independence. I jokingly invented a set of badges for Ben to earn over the Easter holidays; here he is earning his Go To The Shop To Buy Icecream And Return With The Correct Change. Nailed it. Badges also earned - Play Spies Out Of Sight On The Common and Walk To Football With R. 4. The power of old friends. I haven't seen the girsl in the first photo since we were 16. A funeral sadly brought us together, and one other not pictured, but good came out of it and we are meeting up in the summer …
Football again today. After a lazy start (a longer lie in was due after our Youtubing and TOTPing musical eduction last night), I dropped him off, not on the bike for I am bringing two other children home later. I went for a run, but struggled today. I only achieved 2/3 of the run, but hey. At least I did it. Then it was off to discuss options for a new car! It seems that, a test run notwithstanding, I will be getting a new bucket of new bolts very soon! Exciting times.
When I picked up Ben from football, his coach said he'd been fine today. When asked why, Ben said "Because I wanted to be good." I explained that he'd dropped himself in it now, as I know he can be! How many extra marbles shall I give him today? Three? He's currently out on the common playing football with R and S. As if he hasn't done enough today... Off out for dinner tonight. Glynn's treat, to make up for having to work all week.
A break from the team training today, as Ben was invited to a party by Charlie Up The Road. He came round to play in the morning, they invented two ball games for the alley, one of which was called Curly Wurly (I forget the other name, probably Kit Kat). Charlie's party was at Bowlplex, Ben should've been an expert as he'd been to Harry's party there a few weeks ago. He was the oldest there (Charlie is a year younger) and because he wasn't winning, he got into a right strop! I moved away from him to have a cup of tea in peace for 10 minutes; either that, or he was at risk of being bowled himself down the alley. When things were going his way, he was, funnily enough, in a much better mood. He did come second in the end, which satisfied him. On the car journey home, he dropped his iced cake and made a mess on the floor the car. Never mind, I'm getting a new one very soon.
MONEY Not included was the £4 parking and present money; £2 for a cup of tea in Bowlplex.
Ben went to football today with his friend from up the road. He opted for a packed lunch today which, at £2.50, isn't too bad especially as he told me ate 5 pieces of pizza and 5 burgers! I cycled again today, and down to Southsea again, but by a different route. At home after football, we did some more Skylanders drawing. When I say drawing, I mean copying out the logos. And when I say we, I mean I drew them and he coloured them in. I'm a good copier, apparently.
MONEY Football £10 and lunch £2.50; lunch £10 for me; face and eye creams £10 (well it could've been £60! Read on)
HEALTH AND FITNESS I cycled over 10 miles again and apparently that's about 700 calories!
TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT Glynn bought me a pamper voucher for Riva 6 which I used today for a massage and facial with a glass of bubbly. It was pure bliss, and very decadent to have bubbles at just gone midday! I nearly bought the £60 set but resisted thinking I'll get something different from Southsea. I …
What do we usually do in half-terms? Yes of course, play football. It's with SSA, who he plays for, and at £10 a day from 10-3, it's very good value. Add a packed lunch too to save more money. For my money saving effort, but mostly purposeful exercise, we cycled up to Goals and then I rode back into Southsea along the sea front, pausing for a quick gaze at the sea, feeling the heat through my black jeans, before meeting my old friend for lunch in Capers. Time went on, we nattered, I bought lunch, she left to start work. I cycled back the same way to pick Ben up. At home, we spent the rest of the afternoon eating pancakes and drawing Skylanders!
MONEY Total spend today: £10 for football; £16 for lunch for two (using up 3 free drinks on my loyalty card saving approx £4)
HEALTH AND FITNESS I cycled well over 10 miles today, which is unbelievable really, if I hadn't seen it on Map My Run.
TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT Nattering with my friend, whom I hadn't seen for a year.
MONEY Total spend today: £4.75 on Ben's swimming; £1 spectating; £2 cup of tea; parking refunded; £3 half of holiday money for Ben spent on Skylanders cards. Total: £10.75
Planned spend rest of week: 3 x football @ £10/day; possible cinema.
HEALTH AND FITNESS After my normal run yesterday, I walked and ran today to pick up the car.
Planned exercise for rest of week: 2 x runs; Wii Fit; stair walking.
TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT As it was rainy, we decided swimming was the order of the day but with a twist. We let the boys in on their own! They were all very sensible, stayed in 2s or the whole group (of 4). Managed to organise lockers and everything!
In my head, I have this ideal image of us all sitting down together every night for dinner, at a table not adorned by Lego Movie sets in the middle of being built, but with napkins and everything. I bring to the table a scrumptious lamb ragout/paprika chicken/lasagne that I've slaved over that afternoon.
Of course this never happens. Increasing one's hours at work happens. Football clubs and other after-school activities happen. Other Half working late happens. This ideal is ... well an ideal.
I've just about admitted that it ain't every gonna happen, so what am I going to do about it? Simplify the week's menu, so that a couple of times, after we've eaten, I can prep a meal (like one above) to serve the day after. My mum does this. In fact she does most of her cooking the day before! And it works. You know how cottage pies and soups always taste better after they've "settled" for a day?
So while experimenting on these simple "nursery" …
I'm no stranger to quiche. I have made filo ones aux Hairy Bikers (very nice, bit more fiddly to make) and my mum always brings up a quiche from The Pasty Shop opposite Glynn's mum and dad's house in Saltash (why make them when they taste so nice and are basically home made?).
For Christmas, my in laws bought me the Higgidy Cookbook, you know they make the yummy little pies we buy from Waitrose? I chose to use my in laws as guinea pigs for my first recipe - a mixture between their Quiche Lorraine and Smoked Chicken and Parsley Pesto Quiche.
I had to bake blind, which I hadn't done for years, so I had to buy some baking beans. I didn't put enough beans in the, nor prick my pastry, so I had a few balloons. Also as the sheets of pastry (no I didn't make my own, who do you think I am? My mother?) were too small, instead of rolling out (which I will do next time) I tried to join two pieces together. Not successful but as my mother in law kindly said, it makes it l…