Little Sparkles 8/2016

A quiet week in the Sparkles household with our normal routine back in place after half term. It’s been a feisty week railing against ridiculous rules and procedures but my frustrations and complaints have not been personal but aimed at organisations I’ve been dealing with.

Lightbox

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This week just a little reminder after all the bureaucratic mess I’ve experienced that we need to be silly. Sometimes we’re all far too serious than we need to be.

Cake Inspiration

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Little Miss and I have read an excellent book by the baker Fiona Cairns this week and have noted down a few ideas for some cakes in the coming months. Whilst doing my ironing today I also watched Cake Boss, I love their cakes and would love to be so skilled.

Parental Help

I needed to attend a work event on Thursday evening which clashed with gymnastics class, tea and bedtimes so not the easiest timing to get a babysitter for. Fortunately my parents volunteered to come down and help. Not only were they fantastic with the children, they stayed the next day to be in for my rearranged fridge delivery and tidied up too. It was amazing to have that extra help.

My New fridge

It has taken hours on the phone, unbelievable delays and logistical problems but finally after 3 weeks my new fridge freezer has arrived to replace the one which broke. I am no longer hanging my milk out the kitchen window (a trick learnt from uni days) and am grateful for all the modern appliances we have to simplify and facilitate our lives, life without a fridge has been a challenge and meant daily shopping!

Denim Jackets

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I bought Little Miss her first denim jacket this week. It’s the perfect piece to any outfit. I am still wearing my favourite Gap denim jacket which I realise must now be counted as vintage as I bought it when I was 17! One of my favourite looks is a summer dress, preferably floral with a denim jacket or in winter a polo neck and jacket.

Finally

As I wrote it’s been a very quiet week, early nights and everyday jobs have filled my time. Fortunately, our diary is filling with nice things to do in the coming weeks so plenty to look forward to. I’ve also been doing some prepping this week for future events, my main focus this week has been costumes for World Book day, I will reveal all next week.

Vogue’s 73 Questions…

There is a popular blog post called 73 Questions doing the rounds at the moment. It’s taken from a series of Vogue videos quick firing 73 questions to celebs. I have watched a few on the website below and it is a really neat idea.

http://video.vogue.com/series/73-questions

The questions are different in each video so I took mine from Running in Lavender. These are quickly typed answers to the questions

 

  1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

No.

  1. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?

Watching a documentary on assisted suicide last week.

  1. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

Yes, it’s very neat and always gets compliments. I love writing in fancy coloured inks.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LUNCH?

Homemade soup with chunky, granary bread from our local bakery or avocado salad dressed with balsamic vinegar.

  1. INSTAGRAM OR TWITTER?

Twitter although Instagram is growing on me quickly.

  1. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

I hope so.

  1. DO YOU BAKE?

Yes, I love to bake. Most of my Instagram follows are bakers and cake decorators.

  1. DO YOU LIKE FLYING?

It’s a means to an end, I like the excitement of airports.

  1. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?

No. Never, I’m not that mad.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CEREAL?

Granola with natural yoghurt and fresh fruit.

  1. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?

No, definitely a bad habit of mine and really annoying when I have to untie and retie my laces when I go out running.

  1. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STRONG?

Mentally, yes.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM?

A local company on the seafront. The ice cream is freshly made less than a mile from our home and there is always a different flavour to choose with their amazing specialities.

  1. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?

Bags and shoes – I’m always intrigued and can read a lot by a bag!

  1. RED OR PINK?

Pink.

  1. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?

My mad, crazy hair.

  1. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?

Mr S when he is working away, my parents who live 2 hours away and my grandmothers who are both dead.

  1. WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS READING IT?

Gone Girl – I struggled to finish it.

  1. WHAT FILM MADE YOU CRY THE MOST?

Cinema Paradiso.

  1. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?

Avocado.

  1. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

The Golden Hour on our local radio station.

  1. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE?

Bright blue.

  1. FAVOURITE SMELL?

The sea.

  1. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?

My husband.

  1. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?

Beach hut.

  1. FAVOURITE SPORT TO WATCH?

Football and cricket.

  1. HAIR COLOUR?

Brown.

  1. EYE COLOUR?

Brown.

  1. PUPPIES OR KITTENS?

Puppies.

  1. FAVOURITE FOOD?

Chocolate and fresh fruit.

  1. SCARY FILM OR HAPPY ENDINGS?

Happy endings.

  1. LAST FILM YOU WATCHED?

Alvin and the Chipmunks at the cinema with the children. How I wish this was something different!

  1. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.

  1. SUMMER OR WINTER?

Summer, summer, summer.

  1. HUGS OR KISSES?

Hugs

  1. FAVOURITE DESSERT?

Crème brulee

  1. FAVOURITE ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE?

My kitchen.

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ON FACEBOOK?

I’m not!!!

  1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COUNTRY TO VISIT?

Australia.

  1. WHAT WAS THE LAST COUNTRY YOU VISITED?

Spain.

  1. FAVOURITE SOUND?

My children singing and giggling. Waves lapping on the shore.

  1. ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES?

Beatles but I do love the Stones too.

  1. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?

Australia.

  1. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?

I like baking and decorating cakes.

  1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

London.

  1. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?

At the seaside.

  1. FAVOURITE HITCHCOCK MOVIE?

Not sure I’ve ever seen one.

  1. WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU READ AGAIN AND AGAIN?

The Gruffalo

  1. FAVOURITE TV SERIES THAT’S ON NOW.

Call the Midwife.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE OR MILK CHOCOLATE?

Milk and white.

  1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE DRINK?

Cold – Lime and soda. Hot – Hot chocolate with all the trimmings.

  1. WHO IS YOUR GIRL CRUSH?

Victoria Beckham.

  1. WHAT WAS THE FIRST FILM YOU SAW AT THE CINEMA?

Bambi.

  1. HEELS OR FLATS?

Flats every time.

  1. FAVOURITE BED TIME STORY?

Any from a long list of favourites, anything by Julia Donaldson, Judith Kerr, Oliver Jeffers etc.. it’s not the book but the special feeling reading to children gives.

  1. BATH OR SHOWER?

A long, relaxing bubble bath but the daily reality is showers.

  1. WHATS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A MUM?

Guilt at not doing, listening, playing enough.

  1. FAVOURITE BAND?

The Beatles, Abba.

  1. FAVOURITE SOLO ARTIST?

Adele

61. TO BE OR NOT TO BE?

To be.

62. WHAT WOULD BE THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

Seaside Sparkles.

63. BEST GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

My engagement ring from Mr S and a painting from my parents.

64. BEST GIFT YOU’VE EVER GIVEN?

A carriage ride in Central Park to my parents. Wisden annuals and a special collage given to Mr S.

65. FAVOURITE FRUIT?

Apples and mangos.

66. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PET?

A brown Labrador, Ben who was a little bit too frisky and had to be rehomed.

67. FAVOURITE BOARD GAME?

Trivial Pursuit, especially entertainment.

68. HOW DO YOU HAVE YOUR COFFEE?

As a cappuccino in a coffee shop, I rarely drink coffee it’s a treat. Instant coffee doesn’t hit the spot.

69. BEST INVENTION?

The internet and digital devices.

70. DIAMONDS OR PEARLS?

Diamonds.

71. BLOW DRY OR AIR DRY?

Towel dry.

72. CHEAP OR EXPENSIVE SHAMPOO?

Whatever is on offer.

73. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS?

Not too difficult.

Little Sparkles 7/2016

 

It’s been half term week so lots of time to spend with my lovely little family, we’ve had a few days away at my parents and done a few things around home too. In fact all that has been missing is a lazy day at home, perhaps we’ll do that over the weekend.

Sparkle 1 : The Simple Things

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I am a believer that it’s the simple things which create a happy, warm childhood. On Saturday morning it was just Little Man and me at home and we sat down together and played Minions. We created stories for some of the characters and then created our own little challenge the Great Draw Off using Colin the Minion as our model. It was a lovely time to spend one to one with my Little Man.  Simple as it seems we also had a really fun time at the local swimming pool, swimming has been curtailed recently as the pool has been closed for refurbishment so it was good to get back in for a splash

Sparkle 2 : Valentine Hearts

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These beautiful crochet hearts are sold in our local haberdashery shop to raise funds for our local cottage hospital. The owner was describing to me how she hides them around her house on Valentine’s Day for her children to find with a little message. I loved this idea so did the same on Valentine’s Day for our two littles and Mr S, writing why I loved them on the paper heart. I didn’t hide them but had them on the breakfast table at the appropriate settings. The hearts went down really well and definitely a new little tradition I would like to celebrate on Valentine’s Day

Sparkle 3 : Dressing Up

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For Valentine’s Day, Mr S organised a meal out for our little family. It was not simply a suggestion to go out but one he presented to me all booked and planned, with Mr S away so much at the moment it was so lovely not to have to think about planning and preparing a meal. However what makes this sparkle, is that on two opportunities this week we have enjoyed dressing up for an occasion, wearing our special clothes and spending time thinking about outfits, doing make-up and hair, wearing fancy jewellery etc. The first was our Valentines lunch and the second was going to the theatre with my parents. Day to day, I am very casual, life at the seaside is relaxed and informal, so it’s been a real treat this week to dress for an event.  I do think it’s polite to make an effort to look nice when someone is treating you to a special occasion and I’ve enjoyed dressing myself and the children smartly and stylishly. I even ensured that Little Miss and myself had a little girlie pink in our outfits for Valentines but resisted the challenge of dressing in a rainbow of colours for the theatre trip!

Sparkle 4 : Joseph

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I have written a post about going to see the musical Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dream coat, but it was a truly brilliant show, so joyful and uplifting. It was a real highlight of the year so far and I am very grateful to my parents for the treat.

Sparkle 5 : Back to Mum and Dad’s

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It is so lovely to go back home to my parents for a few days. I get to revert to daughter and simply potter around the house, the cupboards are full of my favourite foods and I get to try my Mum’s new lotions and potions. I also get loads of help with the children and generally the children are charming and very cute to their different audience. This week I managed a genuine lie in until 8am, read a whole book, escaped to the shops for a little mooch and didn’t need to cook any meals, I felt thoroughly spoilt.

Sparkle 6 : Alvin and the Chipmunks

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To be honest I wasn’t expecting to have the children’s film Alvin and the Chipmunks as one of this week’s sparkles.  The trip to the cinema was a convenient thing to do whilst we waited for Mr S’ car to be serviced at the garage in the county town and the film was the children’s and definitely not my  choice, those squeaky voices!  It was the first time I’ve been to the new cinema and I loved the retro feel to it, it brought back happy memories of my time as a cinema usherette, one of my favourite jobs.  However the cinema isn’t the sparkle but the film itself for its very strong and positive messages about families and belonging.   Alvin is a little mischief and gets into lots of trouble but he is loved and cared for throughout by his Dad no matter what he does and the film ends with an adoption scene.  The children were excited to see this and talked about their meeting with the judge.  The film helped to reinforce the message we’re always giving that we are the children’s forever family and even when things get tough we will always be here for our children, forever and ever.  It was nice to see such a positive film about adoption.

And lastly

The half term is coming to close now and the routine beckons again on Monday. I hope to use the last few days just to recharge and get ready for the new half term. It’s a short one this half term and I’m looking forward to those first signs of Spring and the anticipation of longer and warmer days.

Go, Go, Go Joseph

This week we were treated to a trip to the theatre by my parents to see the touring production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It was amazing; a joyful, energetic and kitsch interpretation of the musical.

In our family we have such fond memories of Joseph and it seemed the perfect choice for the first musical for the children to see live at the theatre. I went to a lovely little primary school where the highlight each year was our school play, it became the focus of the summer term and happy hours were spent rehearsing, painting scenery and making costumes. I feel so grateful to have gone to a school where the creative arts were valued and promoted. Joseph was one of the plays we did and I remember quite clearly being in the chorus with my white t-shirt printed with Joseph in vivid colours singing away happily to all the songs. When watching the play I could remember the scenes from our school production, especially the Deputy Head as a very frightening Potiphar! Our family loved the musical so much that we bought the cassette of the soundtrack and many, many childhood journeys were spent singing and listening to it in the car. It is some testament that nearly 35 years later, I am still pretty word perfect in all of the songs from the original musical. In what could be a sense of history repeating itself I downloaded the songs onto my iTunes this week and played it on the car journey home!

The atmosphere at the theatre was lovely, a real sense of excitement and it being half term there was a wonderful mix of children, parents and grandparents. The performance was sold out and the audience all appeared pretty excited and happy to be there and all knew the songs well; there was lots of enthusiastic participation, particularly at the end when among the standing ovations, reprises and dancing most of the audience were singing along too. It was one of those lovely moments you just want to freeze and take in how wonderful it is, this is live theatre at its best. The lead was played by Joe McElderry a winner from X Factor in 2009. I remember him vaguely from the time, Oor Joe, but I’ve always been a Strictly girl on Saturday nights. However I was so impressed by him, he was stunning as Joseph, his voice is incredible and his acting in the role was perfect too. He is what Joseph should be and is definitely my Joseph.    The other characters all were well cast and genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves in what must be a pretty energetic play. Despite it be a touring production, the scenery and props were fun and created a great show, Little Man liked the talking Sphinx and camel and there were some rather clever costume tricks too.

It was a really special afternoon at Joseph blending a little nostalgia from my childhood, the children’s first musical at a theatre and a brilliant show which had 3 generations of us standing and singing and clapping until our hands were sore. Needless to say I’m now looking for our next musical experience, there is nothing comparable to brilliant, live theatre.

Little Sparkles 6/2015

It’s been a week of kitchen drama this week in which I’ve become far too stressed than necessary.  Mr S has helped to put things into perspective and reminded me not to stress over material goods which can easily be replaced.  After many phone calls and emails things are now proceeding more smoothly but it’s been a challenging week. However, as always there are sparkles and it’s been Pancake day which is always a favourite in our household and with an Inset day today, we’ve had an early start to half term.

Sparkle 1 : Pancake Day

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We normally do pancakes after school but as Tuesday is our busy day we decided to start with a pancake breakfast as we have more time in the mornings. It was a brilliant way to start the day and whilst Little Miss had a little toss of her pancake, Little Man preferred not to risk his.  The fillings were classic lemon and sugar. As is tradition I took a photo of the children cooking their pancakes, it’s one of those traditional poses we do each year and send to the grandparents and this year Mr S too who was away. As I had some batter left over we had a little pancake for tea too but our best ones were definitely for breakfast.

Sparkle 2 : Bright sunshine

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There were 3 occasions this week when the clouds lifted and we had some stunning weather, crisp blue skies and warm sunshine. Luckily, I was outside on all 3 occasions and felt wonderful, the sun makes me happy, relaxed and energised. Life is better in sunglasses! On Sunday morning, we were at a local beach in the sunshine and the children were happily playing in the sand dunes, rolling down, laughing and pretending they were Star wars heroes, a man passed us walking his dog and commented that it was a little bit of heaven, I couldn’t have agreed more.

Sparkle 3 : Quality Viewing

I’m not a teary person, but two programmes had me in floods of tears this week, Call the Midwife with another tragic tale of a thalamidime baby and a documentary on assisted suicide. On two consecutive evenings this week, I happened upon some really quality viewing, connected unexpectedly by a theme of Motor Neurone Disease. The first was a documentary called Simon’s Choice about a man’s decision to take his own life in an assisted suicide, it was honest, thought provoking and heart breaking and offered a credible argument for assisted suicide. However by chance I also watched the film, The Theory of Everything, based on the autobiography of Stephen Hawking’s first wife for another perspective on life with MND.  In a particularly striking scene she insists that he is to be  resuscitated and to live when doctors thought it may be kinder otherwise. It was a curious juxtaposition of programmes, one showing a man living with MND and the other showing a man dying of MND. Personally I think assisted suicide is a very difficult and complex decision and one that needs to be addressed with a calm and balanced debate.

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/feb/11/how-to-die-simons-choice-review-beautiful-film-assisted-dying

And finally ..

Its been a quieter week than normal, as most of my free time has been occupied with domestic matters. However we’re on holidays now and off to my parents for treats, surprises and sparkles.

 

A few of my favourite things – A painting

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If I was to rescue one item (not people) from my burning house, it would be this painting of a local landmark just a few minutes from our house. It’s a beautiful picture, I love the colours, the blue of the sea, the delicate colours of the flowers and the white of the lighthouse and the location really is as beautiful as it looks in this picture. However this picture is so precious to me as it is the closest connection I have with our baby boy whose ashes were scattered here.  Whilst the nurses gave me photos of him I prefer to remember our darling little boy by the real time I spent with him wrapped up in his little basket and now through this beautiful picture which everyone can appreciate without ever knowing the true significance of it in my life.

The picture was bought a couple of years after our tragic loss and the moment I saw the painting hanging in a local gallery, I knew it was fate. I was with my Mum when I saw it for the first time and upon understanding the significance of the picture she just went into the gallery and passed over her credit card. It is the most precious present I have ever received.

I am relieved that we didn’t choose to leave our little boy’s ashes at the baby remembrance garden at the crematorium. It is a significant distance from our home as I needed specialist treatment from the nearby hospital and I didn’t want to be separated by lots of miles from him, I needed him close. I love that he is in such a beautiful place and that I can be there in minutes. I have never gone there to cry or mourn and I’ve never left flowers or teddies but it’s my place for stillness and being at peace. By nature of its location it’s a place I often would walk our dog, I run here and take the children here on walks, rarely a week goes by when I’m not by the lighthouse. Seven years later, I don’t experience the raw, painful grief I once felt, if I’m on my own and just thinking I simply feel very sad and wonder what he would be like at this age. It helps enormously that we have our children. I am spiritual and look on our two children as a very special blessing. Our two are one year in age apart and our son’s due date was exactly the middle of this year. I comfort myself that by losing one so much longed for and loved son we were able to have two amazing children. It is not a consolation but helps me to try and make some sense of what happened to us.

Originally I had planned for the picture to hang in our bedroom but at the time we had just had an extension built and it looked perfect in the new bright, airy room. This room is now the children’s playroom and I love that it is a room full of fun, happiness and play. It seems right that the painting is on the wall there at the heart of family life.

Little Sparkles 5/2016

This week has been quiet and we just seem to be treading through the days, spring must be coming soon, please. Here are the sparkles for the week…

Sparkle 1 : The Lightbox Week 5

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The light box comment was simple this week, with half term, pancake day and Chinese new year there is lots of fun to be had this month. I had planned on ‘Fun, frolicking February’ but didn’t have enough Fs! I am due a new order of letters and symbols this week, I love my lightbox in the kitchen injecting some light and fun!

Sparkle 2 : My new crush..

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I have to admit to having a new crush, but I think it’s more a teacher infatuation as I am besotted with the astronaut Tim Peake. In my lessons we’ve been following his work at the Space Station and this week we got to watch the live link up, in the cosmic classroom project which was available to all schools. In a twenty minute session, he answered children’s questions about life in space. His broadcast was amazing and anyone I’ve spoken to who has watched it can’t stop praising and enthusing about the transmission, he was so entertaining and made space and learning so much fun for children and adults alike. I’ve watched it and Little Man and his class watched it too, his TA reported back that he sat completely mesmerised by the broadcast. He spoke so much about it at home, space ping pong, drinking bubbles etc.. I really love the education work Tim Peake is doing, he has been such a positive force for encouraging children and adults to get excited about space and want to learn more.

Sparkle 3 : Me Time at our local spa

This week I treated myself to an Indian Head Massage, for completing my detox. Of all the treatments this is my favourite, I think I get lots of stress and knots in my shoulders and the head massage helps to relieve some of the symptoms of my migraines. It was an extremely relaxing session and made me resolve to do a little treat like this more often.

Sparkle 4 : Deliciously Ella baking

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I am still really focused on clean eating and following the guidelines remarkably well. Hard as it was, I never even succumbed to a crumb of the gingerbread cakes we made on Wednesday. However to satisfy my sweet tooth, I tried a Deliciously Ella recipe this week, baked orange and fruit bars which although are made of simply nuts and dried fruit are a gorgeous treat.

Sparkle 5 : Ballerina Necklace

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I finally got round to choosing and ordering Little Miss’ ballet exam present and her new necklace arrived this week. Its lovely, just what I was looking for and the purple pearl matches her ballet uniform.

Sparkle 6 : Neighbours

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Finally for this week, a special sparkle must go out to our neighbours who are so kind and thoughtful. Whilst Mr S is away one of my neighbours pops in to look after Little Man so I can pick up Little Miss from Brownies and he can go to bed at his normal time rather than having to come with me too. Normally it’s the same neighbour but as she was away this week another came instead, I’m so lucky to have neighbours to call on. I also received a phone call from the neighbours behind who phoned to apologise for the mess their new garden is causing with the dust from the stone cutting and offering to pay for our windows to be cleaned. We assured them that this was not necessary but it was a very kind and thoughtful gesture. A total contrast to their next door neighbours, a second home couple from London whose extension caused so much noise, inconvenience and who ignored planning permissions etc.. and never once apologised for the disruption. Such behaviour is quite typical of second home owners and does make them rather unpopular, they don’t seem to understand that you need to respect and become part of your community.

And finally ..

I’m looking forward to next week, its Chinese New Year and pancake day and early starts to half term for all of us, me from Wednesday lunchtime and the children from Thursday afternoon.  It’s time to make the final half term plans, including a visit to Grandma and Granfer’s with some special trips.