Remembrance Sunday 2019

After the beautiful community project to commemorate the centenary of the end if World War 1 in 2018, I wondered if this would be a quieter Remembrance Sunday. In fact the service at the War memorial was very busy with possibly even more people than last year.

Our Remembrance took a personal turn this year as we ended up researching and adopting a local soldier. Little Man represented his school at the schools’ service on the Friday preceding, where the local children present art and readings in memory of the fallen. After the church service they parade to the war memorial and plant crosses in the garden of remembrance ready for Sunday. When he came home Little Man told us all that his cross was for Henry Churchill. This triggered research on the internet and we were able to find out that Henry Churchill was a 35 year old soldier in WW1 from a small hamlet near us. We found out where he was buried in France and the inscription on his grave chosen by his sister.

On Remembrance Sunday Little Man was again at the service and parade this time as a cub. It’s a big parade with veterans in old military vehicles, a military band, uniformed groups, dignitaries etc following on foot. The parade streets are lined by the public, showing respectful silence until the last group whom are the serving soldiers from the nearby military base, these are greeted with polite applause. Unusually our town’s service is always in the afternoon with the silence around 4pm as dusk starts to fall. It is very atmospheric as the memorial is on a hill by the seafront and the only sound are the waves lapping the beach.

As I stood in silence I did pray for all our war dead, however a very special prayer went to Henry Churchill and those brave pilots from my Gramps’ 609 Squadron. We do remember and I have faith that we always will.

A fortnight of Little Sparkles ✨

The autumn half term holiday is one of my favourites of the school year. It’s a much needed rest after the busy start to the academic year, the weather is normally good enough for outdoor adventures and in our family we have two birthdays, Halloween and fireworks night in this period too. Although my children only have one week’s holiday, I get two weeks and it’s my time to get prepared, sort out life admin and catch up with friends. Unfortunately this year in my first week, I had my worst migraine for years and was bed ridden for a few days, I missed an 80s party 😟 and we had to delay our trip to Bristol by a day. Although a little shorter than expected we all had wonderful time in the West Country.

1. Old friends

Whilst in Bristol I arranged to meet my old mentor, friend and all round gorgeous person for a catch up. We go back a long, long way (30 years!) as she was originally my French teacher at secondary school, we then kept in touch as I studied French at university and then I returned to my old secondary school as a French teacher in her department. She is one of life’s kindest and shiny people and just a pleasure to be around. I felt uplifted to be in her company and to catch up on all the news about her family, and shared friends and colleagues.

2. Seven Worlds, One Planet

There are not many programmes which can entertain and educate 3 generations at the same time, but the start of Seven Worlds, One Planet by David Attenborough on Sunday had us all transfixed and in awe of the filmography. The series started with Antarctica , cue penguins, sharks and seals. It really focused on climate change and as well as being inspiring there was a strong message to us all of our responsibilities to our planet.

3. Ice Skating ⛸

We moved from Bristol to Weston Super Mare when Mr S returned home for work. The highlight of our stay at my parents was ice skating at the iconic Tropicana. When I was a child the Tropicana was the place to go in WSM, a fun swimming pool with a huge pineapple 🍍 slide that could be easily seen along the prom. It’s had various guises since and is now a pop up ice rink for the winter season. It has been created beautifully and has amazing Christmas models decorating the area and a cafe with a real alpine lodge feel. I imagine it would feel rather magical as a Christmas venue later in the season. The rink is large and sparkly and the children and I all had lots of fun on the ice. We were joined for the day by my cousin who unfortunately was in a cast so unable to skate but a real cheerleader for us all. It’s always lovely to see her, again such a kind and gentle person.

4. Birthday tables.

I do like to celebrate a birthday and as I was at my mum’s the night before hers, I decorated the kitchen ready to surprise her on her birthday morning. I love these balloons, they’re not helium, you just blow up with a straw. Little Miss’ similar balloons from early summer are still inflated and are decorating her room! We went to a lovely, stylish cafe for a birthday breakfast, the children loved their pancake stacks and the avocado on toast was delicious. I think breakfast is an underrated meal to go out for, it was a delightful, relaxed way to start a special day.

5. Halloween

Our Halloween was a quiet celebration this year, we had just returned home so hadn’t done all the prep we normally do and the awful weather meant there were very few people trick or treating. We decorated the house, ( I love my new ghost lights, a bargain buy in a summer sale) did a spooky nature walk, dressed up and did some pumpkin carving on the day. Whilst it felt right this year given our holiday plans, I did miss my spooky baking. What’s a Halloween without a ghost or bat biscuit!

6. More birthday celebrations.

On Friday we organised a family day to celebrate Mr S’ birthday. It is tomorrow but with England in the rugby world cup final, he’ll be cheering them on, so today seemed a better day for us all. As the weather is so poor again, we went to the cinema to see our family favourite Shaun the Sheep in Farmegeddon and then out for a meal. The film was cleverly done and played to both a child and adult audience with lots of nice touches.

#19for2019 No.19 Carve a Pumpkin 🎃

Whilst this is my number 19 on my list, it’s not my last done as many of my 19 are works in progress. This was a quick win too, unlike my annual 12k daily steps average quest this was a simple hour long task, I was just waiting for the correct date, October 31st, Halloween.

For the last few years since the children have been able to carve their pumpkins independently, I’ve missed the fun, so I decided to do my own this year. I chose a simple idea, a design themed on day of the dead 💀. Normally we have a few days build up to Halloween with decorations and spooky activities planned during half term, however as we were away all the activities were done for October 31st. We decorated in the morning, did a haunted walk in the nature reserve in the afternoon and carved the pumpkins in the evening. I do like the anticipation and build up to special events but given our busy week it was the perfect scenario for this week.

I enjoyed carving the pumpkin, listening to some spooky music and being a little creative. It’s another #19for2019 ticked off but definitely one to keep up in future years.

My week of Little Sparkles

img_6993

A little cheat this week as I’ve included Sunday too as my week was seriously lacking in Sparkles this week.  I’m not sure that arriving safely at my destination after a horrendous drive in atrocious conditions can count as a sparkle, although I was very relieved and thankful.  Most of my Sparkles are from the weekend which was relaxing and quiet.

  1.  A lovely comment on my blog. I received a lovely compliment on my blog this week, from a gentleman with whom I exchanged emails following a post on some old war photographs of my Gramps.  It meant a lot and was a beautiful surprise.
  2. Conkers.  It was cookers night at cubs so after a conker walk the previous day, Little Man learnt the art of conkers and has been keen to challenge us all at home.
  3. Break up!  Unlike the children I have a two week half term and finished on Friday.  I really need this break and am looking forward to ‘my’ week.  I wasn’t at school on Friday as it was a uni day so didn’t get the full excitement but it was still a great feeling to close my laptop on Thursday afternoon.
  4. Cows on the road.  Little Miss and I were in the car on Saturday and paused for the cows to cross the road after milking.  It made me smile and is just a little reminder that we live in a farming community.
  5. Dawn.  Little Miss was feeling really tired on Friday evening, so we decided to let her sleep in and skip parkrun. I got up early to fit in a run before the boys went swimming.  It was tough to start in the dark but I got rewarded with a delightful dawn.  It’s been a really wet week so to run in the dry and in the sun was great.
  6. Harry Connick Junior.  There was an article about HCJ in the Times magazine on Saturday.  I loved him in the 90s and found We are in Love on Spotify.  I’ve been playing it again and it’s still as fabulous as I remember.  I can’t believe the album is nearly 30 years old!
  7. Nature Reserve.  As Sunday was another bright and dry day we went to a local nature reserve.  We collected some chestnuts to roast at home and the children used their nature book to search for different trees, plants and birds.  There was lots of fungi and we found a toadstool which thanks to their book the children discovered was very dangerous.  It’s a great book, there are pictures of different things for you to find and the space to draw or add a photo from your walk.

The 500 Club

As I published my last post this image popped up in my notifications. I genuinely don’t track any statistics, this blog is my little hobby and for me. I don’t want any pressure on follows, feeling the need to post regularly etc.. but this figure made me proud. I started Seaside Sparkles as a way of recording our family life and 5 years and 500 posts that’s what I’m still doing. It’s random, still anonymous but a genuine account of our little family.

My week of Little Sparkles ✨

As I sit here on a very wet Saturday afternoon, it’s easy to forget the little autumn sunshine we’ve had between all the rain. It’s been another week of school, work, clubs, there is a comfort in the ordinary.

Here are my sparkles of the week.

1. Assignment 1 done ✅

I have finished my first uni assignment and submitted it two days early! This never happened when I was an undergraduate when I would pull an all nighter to get the work in on time. This time I recognised that I needed a plan to ensure that i could do my course properly without it impacting on our family life and so far it seems to be working. I’m being creative with my study, I used the 2 hour wait at the doctors to review my work and have my set texts with me to read whenever I can, so today that was at the indoor skate park. Fingers crossed for the feedback.

2. Sunny Sunday

It was so bright and sunny on Sunday morning that we quickly got onto the beach in a nearby village. It’s a wild beach with beautiful white sand but further back you can walk through heathers. We walked for a couple of hours, enjoyed a drink in the cafe and played outdoor table tennis. These are the autumn days I love the bright sunshine and some beautiful colours in nature.

3. Mum points

Little Miss has a new drinks bottle since I managed to warp her last plastic bottle! She leaves early to walk to school and as this week it’s been chilly we had an idea to use her new hot for a hot drink at break time. She loved it and I earn a few bonus points for the inspiration!

4. Muddles

Muddles was a mixed up phrase which has become our new little shout at parkrun, a muddle is a muddy puddle of which there were plenty of on today’s run. Now muddles are a little metaphor for life you can either tiptoe around or run through and as you can see from my running tights we ran through them squealing and laughing.

5. Skate Park Life!

Well with some careful planning, the boys who had been to swimming lessons and the girls who had been running managed to meet at the indoor skate park together for a couple of hours of scootering followed by lunch out. A simple but nice way to spend a wet morning.

6. Technology

I was a little bold this week and phoned my mobile phone company to negotiate a new deal as there were a couple of offers I could have taken using my student discount with rival companies. As a consequence I have a free iPhone 11 and a cheaper contract, result. The device is great, the quality of photos is stunning and I’m amazed by the face recognition. I also have finally got Chrome on my work’s laptop, and it’s made things so much easier. I love how technology is facilitating life, although I’m conscious that it’s here to help not enslave us and I recognise that it’s important to put our devices down sometimes.

My Week of Little Sparkles ✨

Its difficult finding the sparkles in tough weeks. The combination of some challenging and emotional times at work, reading lots of academic journals and then drafting assignments for my studies and the whole caboodle of family life, my life feels pretty full on. But hidden in the melee are the sparkles, the little things which brighten the week.

1. A dressing gown.

I forgot to take a photo of my new dressing gown. Not simply a new dressing gown but a dressing gown! I haven’t had one for years, however with these chillier mornings I needed something to wear. It’s so comfy and warm and I can’t believe I haven’t had one for years, so much better than an old jumper!

2. The NHS

I had to go and see my consultant this week for another cortisone pain killing injection in my foot. Unfortunately it’s looking likely that for long term benefits I’ll need an operation . My consultant is the most consummate professional, always on time, polite, informative etc.. and shows the amazing talent in our NHS. The NHS is always a sparkle in our lives.

3. Christmas shopping

I was early to my NHS appointment so quickly nipped into M&S for a look which is next door to the clinic. Whilst I hadn’t intended to start my Christmas shopping, I saw this bobbing Santa biscuit tin and thought it perfect for a present. For some friends I often buy a family present, maybe a book, hot chocolate and biscuits for them to enjoy together. I really like this and may pop back for some more, at £5 each it was great value. I’m now feeling great for starting my list. I love getting organised for Christmas and will buy a magazine or two over half term to start planning and getting excited for the coming season.

4. Trail running shoes

I know I sneak running in most weeks, but it’s so important to my health. These new trainers are now muddy and dirty just as they should be. The parkrun we do is mixed trails and after the recent poor weather it was time for a seasonal change to trail shoes for parkrun. Parkrun was celebrating its 15th birthday and there were lots of celebrations and emotional moments during the morning. Little Miss had another personal best, she’s getting much closer to my PB by the week, so a very successful and happy parkrun.

5. Army games

Whilst the girls were at parkrun, the boys went to big town after swimming to do a few jobs. Little Man spent his pocket money on some new army figures and spent the afternoon creating an amazing scene. He loves everything military and spends hours making his battle scenes and talking about strategy and tactics. Anything which makes him so happy and focused is definitely a sparkle for me.

6. Family game of Monopoly

With us being in different places all day we made sure that we had family time together on Saturday evening and played a game of Monopoly. We’re competitive but fair, Little Man is a keen property owner, Little Miss prefers money and myself and Mr S both play to win! It’s nice to have a couple of hours with no distraction just to play.