Splash!

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Oh yes, I completed every slide!

Today I am aching all over from a strenuous work out yesterday. It wasn’t a run, a gym session or a fitness DVD but a morning at the local Splash centre where we ran up steps, pushed through slides and swam against currents. It was a great morning and reminded me of similar childhood visits to the Oasis pool in Swindon, hopefully today’s outing will help the children create their own happy memories too.

The trip was another example of the type of activities we’re able to do with the children now that they are that little bit older. They were both tall enough for all the rides and wanted to do them there was no fear just a need for speed, excitement and challenge. Mr S has a bad back so he wasn’t able to do all the slides but as the children and I ran up the steps he was at the bottom of the slides ready to fish us out! The Splash centre is an impressive site with a variety of slides, steep, windy, short and long, some you float down whilst others are tackled with a rubber ring. We wore a smart arm band to tell us when we could go down the slide and it also recorded all your stats for a certificate at the end. I was a bit reluctant to pay for the certificate but am proud in the knowledge that I did every slide enthusiastically! Strangely what struck me on the visit was that whilst the children on the slides were boys and girls in equal numbers there were very few women in the pool, far more were watching on the side. I was proud that in the words of a current campaign to encourage women into sport ‘this girl can’

Yesterday was another fab family day full of encouragement, fun and celebration. I’m sure we’ll be back again for more and are thinking of similar new challenges to do together.

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Little Sparkles

There has been a real autumnal feel to this week, the colours, chill and events of the season are evident everywhere. We spent a lovely Sunday at the local nature reserve, walking through the woods among the crispy fallen leaves and looking out for deer and  today I’ve been to the children’s harvest festival hearing all the old harvest favourites with a few new songs added to the mix too. With my new phone there are few photos for this week’s post, lots are still on my old phone. However there should be enough to give a feel of the week.

My first play on the iPhone and Layout app.
My first play on the iPhone and Layout app.

READ

As well as the blogs I follow, the only reading I have done this week is my magazine, The Simple Things. I really like this magazine with its focus on seasonality and simplicity and quality writing and illustrations, its refreshing not to wade through pages of glossy designer clothes sections, tacky free gifts etc..

LISTENED

I very proudly listened to the children singing at their harvest festival. Little Man sang a number song about acorns and squirrels and Little Miss performed a rock and roll harvest, complete with sunglasses and hand jiving! The older children spoke about poverty in this country and their statistics were shocking, 20% of the school’s population could be affected by poverty. The food collection this year was for our local food bank, a sad indication of the state of our nation and the growing disparity between rich and poor.

Little Miss has also started guitar lessons and has been diligently practising so I have heard the tune Falling leaves many time s this week.

I have also listened to a beautiful song I wasn’t Expecting that by Jamie Lawson.  Its a real tear jerker of a song, with a heart breaking story running through it.  (Post script, I’ve just seen this video for the first time, so original and if possible even sadder than the song!)

WATCHED

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I saw the final of the Great British Bake Off and loved that the winner was Nadiya, she was sassy, bright and extremely talented. Whilst I haven’t watched every episode this series, 8pm is a bit early to settle down and watch tv, I have been following it on Twitter and in the papers. It is such a quintessential British programme and a delight to watch. I also though Nadiya’s words following her win were brilliant.

On Saturday afternoon, whilst Mr S was painting the hallway, I cuddled up on the sofa with the children to watch the Book of Life, this film was fantastic, a great story with wonderful animations.

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I have also watched the Jenny Maizel tutorial for her first module of #Sketchbookclub, a project on houses. It was very informative and inspiring and I have started the project, so far I have done the pencil drawing and am currently doing all the detailing with a fine liner pen. Next is the painting which I’m a little nervous about but I am loving doing something artistic, normally I’m a crafter so drawing is a new skill to develop.

MADE

Lots more home cooking this week, an autumn vegetable crumble, mushroom stroganoff, a variety of soups and a chestnut and vegetable pie. I love chestnuts but seem to use them simply in Christmas meals so it was a real treat to have them in this week’s shopping. I also made a lovely rich bread and butter pudding with left overs. My new meal planning and fortnightly shopping is having a really positive effect on our meals and cost.

WORE

The coats, hats and scarves have started to emerge this week. I’m very grateful for hats, I’m trying to keep off the hair dye until my next appointment to improve the condition of my hair but its getting very grey now. Part of me is liberated by not having the monthly hairdresser appointments to hide my roots and is tempted to reveal the real me the other part is feeling quite old and frumpy with the colour, its 12 days until my next appointment when hopefully we’ll be trying a more natural dye, the dilemma is to go light or back to my natural brown.

And lastly

I have had an odd week this week as my bank card was cloned and tried to be used fraudulently. My bank HSBC have been excellent, they noticed odd activity, contacted me and sorted it efficiently. They had declined all the fraudulent payments from my account so the only inconvenience was not having a bank card for two days. Since the incident, I have been busy updating security on my computer, but the bank don’t know how the card was cloned. I had a couple of odd experiences at the end of last week in a shop and at a cashpoint, so perhaps it happened here. However it is all sorted but was a cautionary tale of how easily fraud could have happened. One of the first apps on my iPhone was my bank app to keep a careful check on my account.

My new phone, the apple of my eye!!

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Today, I have finally become the owner of an iPhone. Whilst this probably makes me sound like a real luddite, I should say I am very digital savvy and coordinate ICT at work so have the skills and knowledge.  However I do feel like I’m one of the last people on earth to have an iPhone, even my parents have them and my old phone gets me some disbelieving looks.

I think the reasons for not having an iPhone have been twofold, firstly financial, I did not feel I could justify the monthly price plan as for me the mobile phone had the simple functions of making and receiving calls and texting. And secondly, a reaction to the hype and power of the iPhone, I didn’t want to be overly attached to my phone, it is a device. Over the lifetime of my past contract, I have noticed how much more I have used the phone, it’s been my key means of using email and Twitter and perhaps most important as a camera. I love to take photos and a phone is so accessible, albeit with a few technical compromises. One of my main motivations for choosing the iPhone was the camera and the apps which are more accessible to work with the photos. I have taken a more expensive contract for the benefits of the iPhone and after just an afternoon of playing and personalising my phone I am blown away by its features and ease of use. I am accepting that a phone is simply not for calls and texts but my life hub. It was special today to make my first Face Time call to my dad so Little Man could sing him Happy Birthday and show him his blue tongue from the sweetie he was eating. I could highlight so many little details I am loving about the phone I really think it could simplify my life, of course I just need to stop getting distracted by its other features, it is a phone which will be in my bag rather than in my hands. However tonight, I am very excited and pleased with my new purchase!

A Few of My Favourite Things … No 2 My Pink Silk Dress

dress

I love this dress, after my wedding dress it is my favourite dress ever. The special events are woven into its fabric and even buying the dress has a story attached! I bought the dress a few days before Christmas in December 2000, I needed, fancied a new dress for the Christmas party at Mr S’ golf club and dashed to the shops on the afternoon of the party. It was a lovely time in my life and definitely a very special season of Christmas sparkle, it was our first Christmas in our new house, my Nan was spending what would be her last Christmas with our family and Mr S and I got engaged.

When I walked into Monsoon I saw the dress and loved it. It was the only one I tried on and it fitted perfectly, when I went to pay for it, it had been marked down to half price! On leaving the shop, I was so excited and happy and I bumped into my favourite ever football player. Now the night before I had been at the derby match, which we had won so I was still ecstatic about the result and despite generally being quite calm and collected I turned into a star struck fan, all I could say to him was how well he had played the night before and that he was my favourite player. After all these years, Scott Murray remains my favourite City player, at least I got to tell him!!

I wore the dress to the golf party and felt amazing in it, it just skimmed where it needed to and despite its simple looks it is flattering and looks beautiful on. A couple of months later, I needed a dress for our engagement party, I knew my pink dress was the perfect choice and again felt wonderful wearing it. This dress has always been my go to dress, I have so many photos of it in amazing places, at a restaurant overlooking Sydney Opera House, on my 30th birthday at the London Eye and the Ritz hotel, swaying in the breeze on a Caribbean island. It can be dressed up or down with a pretty cardigan or denim jacket, flip flops or strappy sandals. If I was to choose one dress to symbolise the happy, sparkly me it would be this dress, my beautiful fuscia pink silk dress sprinkled with a few sparkly sequins.

Little Sparkles

It’s been a nice and easy week, routines flowing smoothly and everyone where they should be at the right time. Magic! I’ve had a little potter in the big town and it’s been unseasonably sunny and warm all week, simple things make me happy.  Sunday saw a family trip out to a local museum which was excellent and with a fantastic gift shop, I really enjoyed the day.

READ 

I was quite relieved to read the Virgin London Marathon commiserations email this week. I only ever want to do one marathon and London is the dream. However as it will be my only marathon I want it to be the best experience ever. My running at the moment is purely recreational, three times a week with no real plans in place and if I had got a place I would have needed to devote everything to it. I’m not sure that in the next 6 months I would be able to do that, I would have if I had got a place but perhaps it’s time to get into the best possible shape and break the 2 hour half marathon before the ultimate challenge.

I also read and re read the Letterbox contact letters I wrote to the children’s birth family. Its an annual job but it doesn’t get any easier  trying to find the right tone and words.

LISTENED

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Little Miss lost her first tooth this week and listening to her excitedly reading aloud her letter from the tooth fairy was priceless. The letter went to school and was read out to Grandma on the phone too. Little Miss’ reaction to the tooth fairy visit was just perfect.

I also listened to Stevie Wonder’s Songs on the Key of Life. It’s the perfect Summer album so on my journey to big town with the sun streaming through the window I played it at full blast, what a stunning album.

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The view on the ferry, listening to Songs in the Key of Life. Stunning.

WATCHED

Strictly Come Dancing is my absolute favourite television programme and nothing makes me happier on television; the costumes, make up, dancing and atmosphere are perfect viewing. I was so excited for its return and it didn’t disappoint. My early favourites are Jay, Anita, Katie, Peter and Ainsley. I also caught up on the iPlayer with SCD It Takes Two, the perfect fanzine. I was particularly interested in the costume segment as I thought they were stunning.

MADE

Amazingly, I made risotto for the first time ever this week. I enjoy cooking and make a lot of rice dishes but have never made risotto. I’ve no idea why I’ve never tried it before, I think I was worried it was a little complicated but it was simple to make and delicious.

I also made a retirement card for my Dad. He retired on Wednesday after more than 50 years working, which is simply amazing. He has always had such a strong work ethic that it’ll be strange to see him pottering around at home. We phoned him on his last morning at work, the children said they would be looking forward to him being there to play with them when they come to visit, I’m looking forward to that too.

WORE

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Whilst its not so much wearing I did try on lots of clothes on my shopping trip, the beauty of a child free trip gave me the time to experiment and put together different pieces. I’m trying to develop my look, it needs to be casual and fit in with my life style. I wear jeans for work but at other times am not really a trousers girl, my legs are a bit short so I tend to stick with skirts, tunics and dresses with leggings or thick tights. I ended up with a new White Stuff skirt and v neck black jumper to be paired with the obligatory leggings. I also bought a cute pair of Converse pumps, I love my winter boots but it’s nice to have something a little lighter too. I find it difficult to find a comfortable and flattering flat leather shoe so I’m hoping the pumps will be a winner.WP_20151002_001 (5)

I’ve also worn new make-up, buying a new foundation and lip stick from Benefit on the ‘big town’ shopping trip. I had booked a treatment at the Benefit salon and am well impressed by my eye brows.