St George’s Day, Big Little Lies and French phrases

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So its back to school now and routine.  As much as I love the holidays and the adventures they bring I feel somewhat comforted by the order of routine of school weeks.  It is only in school weeks that I have a little me time and I really appreciate this time.  This week has been a perfectly normal week and after reading Suzanne’s blog post below that is just fine with me.

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I haven’t read as much as normal this week but there were a number of blog posts which have really stood out.  Suzanne’s post When did Ordinary Become Meaningless

http://insideoutsideandbeyond.com/when-did-ordinary-become-meaningless/

has resonated with me, It was refreshing to read a post which inspires us to look for the little pleasures.  It also led me to one of my listens this week, an interesting TED talk by Brene Brown.

The Simple Things magazine was published this week so I read this too, it’s one of my favourite monthly reads.

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Mr S and I caught up this week on Big, Little Lies.  I finished the book just as the series started so its very fresh in the memory and undoubtedly leads to a comparison of the two genres.  I liked the tv series a lot, the actors were outstanding, the music and the whole ambiance created was brilliant but there is so much more in the story not reflected in the tv series.  Whilst I recognise its the difficulty of adapting a book I would highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoyed the tv series.

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I also watched a quintessential English event to celebrate St George’s day, the Scouts St George’s day parade in a neighbouring town. I watched Little Man and his Beaver friends march and the parade also featured St George and a very long dragon.  The parade ends at the town church for a service.  Last year it was a bit dry and the Beavers found it difficult in such a formal event, this year they were given the option not to stay, however the dragon and St George had got their attention so they were all keen to stay which meant I sat in it too.   I was so impressed by the service designed and presented this year by the scouts themselves, teenagers get a lot of grief but these had worked so hard to make it a fun, informative and appropriate service for everyone there.

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Nope, I’m thinking and thinking and have no original makes this week, sorry.

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This weather is so unpredictable, after enjoying some of my spring like clothes, during the Easter holidays I’m back to something a bit warmer as its turned so much colder.  Spring come back please, I miss you!

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This week I have listened to Little Miss practice her French, her class were invited to meet some French children who are in our town for a school trip.  She has been so excited and its a delight to hear her saying her little phrases.  Whilst my teaching career turned by chance to SEND I am a MFL teacher and have a passion and love of  languages.

I also enjoyed this talk from Brene Brown which Suzanne quotes in her piece above.  Its well worth a listen on vulnerability and belonging.

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I am so excited for this weekend, whilst we have some nice family time planned my excitement is for Saturday night.  I am going to a grown up party …. in a castle ( a proper fairy tale castle with turrets) …with a live swing band … for the 40th birthday of a gorgeous friend.  Sometimes life is very good x

I am linking up with Morgana at http://www.coffeeworksleeprepeat.com for #littleloves

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New Ingredients, Pretty Prints and Mini Adventures #littleloves

Whilst last week’s #littleloves was a bumper edition summing up a few weeks this is a more stream lined version from the past five days. However as it was the school Easter holidays there was plenty going on.  This week was a week of mini adventures in more off beaten tracks, too many tourists in the popular haunts this week.  Our week has included trampolining lessons, a long scooter ride, exploring a nature trail, climbing to the top of a castle, walking along a river and meeting friends for play dates.  We also had more mundane activities like buying summer school uniform but its amazing the promise of having a £1 to spend in the Poundshop can help to make a successful shopping trip!

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I read Schtum by Jem Lester following a Kindle recommendation as ‘ a funny and uplifting story of family and love.’  I thought it was a well written and moving story.  As with another recent read it was about a son with severe autism and the effect on the family, although there were other sub-stories too and it made for an emotional read.  There is a fantastic chapter ‘voiced’ by the son at a tribunal and I hope to be able to use this professionally in staff training sessions.  It is a book to make you thankful for your family and a reminder to listen to and to understand each other.

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When Mr S is away with work as he was this week, I don’t often switch the television on, I prefer to read, to surf the web or simply potter whilst listening to music in the evenings.  When he has been home this week he has had the snooker on, of all the sports I find snooker sooooo boring so have buried myself in my reading as a distraction.

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I have been creative in the kitchen this week, with no work I have had a little more time to experiment.  I’ve been reading around healthier alternatives to common foods and have tried a few new ingredients, almond butter, Algarve syrup etc.. and replenished lots of my herbs and spices.  Two favourite recipes this week were a chick pea and cauliflower curry and ginger flapjacks.  I’ve also made a few picnics to enjoy on our trips out.

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One day this week, we needed to be out for the whole day to accommodate some work on our house.  This led to a bit of a magical, mystery trip around our county with various stops which included a brief pause for me in a small town to check their new White Stuff shop which was holding an opening event.  I bought this blouse and love it, its a great fit, that print is just amazing and I got a opening discount, win, win, win. It looked great with my jeans and is the sort of blouse which will look with a bright coloured shorts or trousers in the warmer days.

http://www.whitestuff.com/womens/shirts-blouses/chalk-white-print-faces-shirt/

 

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I read about the #30daymusic challenge and started typing up my daily choices this week  https://seasidesparkles.net/2017/04/18/the-30-day-music-challenge/ This has led to lots of research on Spotify and You Tube and really enjoying some brilliant songs.

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This Easter holiday seems to be going on forever, the children have Inset on Monday and then its finally back to routines on Tuesday for us all.  When the children are at school and I am doing my part time hours, I do manage a few more hours to myself, sometimes the holidays can feel a little overwhelming as my children find it difficult to occupy themselves and I need a list of ideas to keep us all calm and happy. I hope you have all enjoyed the holidays.

Thank you to Morgana at www.coffeeworksleeprepeat.com for hosting #littleloves and her lovely writers who inspire with their choices.

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Easter 2017 at the Sparkles house

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Easter decorations chez Sparkles

Easter is always a special time of the year for me. I was raised in a catholic family and Easter was a time of celebration, second only to Christmas.  It was a time of church services but family get-togethers too and we would often celebrate Easter with aunts and uncles and cousins, all dressed up in new outfits and new sandals, whilst the house would be decorated with Pussy Willow Easter trees and fresh flowers.  Sadly Mr S doesn’t appear to have celebrated Easter like we did and I think is quite bemused by the effort and excitement I hold for Easter.  However I want the children to share the special nature of the festival and ensure we keep some of my childhood traditions.

This year we were away the week before Easter arriving home on Good Friday afternoon.  It meant that I wasn’t able to go and buy hot cross buns in our local baker on Good Friday morning like I normally do. These are the most perfect hot cross buns.  However, as we walked into breakfast at our hotel, the warm, spicy smell of hot cross buns wafted to our table in a much appreciated gesture from Butlins and we got to enjoy our traditional Good Friday breakfast.  As I knew I wouldn’t have time to prepare for Easter when we returned home, I had managed to do most of my prep in advance.  I decorated the house the week before, minus my fresh flowers and had bought all the necessary accessories for my Easter egg hunt.  My collection of Easter decorations grows every year, we have some lovely shops in our town and I find it difficult to resist a few new decorations annually.  I have a window display in the kitchen as this is my favourite room and where we spend a lot of time as a family and then a few more decorations in the living room.  This year we had two Easter trees, one in each room and bunting in the garden.  I am still looking for an Easter wreath which I think would be a welcome addition to our decorations.

One of the highlights of Easter is the Easter egg hunt which takes place on Sunday afternoon after an Easter roast dinner.  It is not only a hunt for chocolate but Easter themed props too, including a stone with a cross on to remember the religious aspect of the festival.  I hand draw a help sheet so everyone knows what they are looking for.  I don’t like the idea of Easter simply being about chocolate so now the children are older, the first 6 eggs are activities, this year these activities included an egg and spoon race, spelling out your name with orange Kinder egg shells marked with a letter (and a mini egg inside) an egg full of Lego to make a model, a make your own rabbit decoration set (v cheap in last year’s Easter sale) guess the number of eggs contest, find the chicks for the nest etc.. These activities help extend the egg hunt too so its not a mad 5 minutes in the garden and then a chocolate fest! I really enjoyed our hunt this year, for the first time in a few years we actually got to do it outside in the garden in warm sunshine, an advantage of a late Easter.

I do like a theme, so our Easter lunch was a traditional Easter roast, the children had chicken whilst for Mr S and I who are both veggies, I made a goats cheese and Mediterranean vegetable pastry.  I used a cookie cutter for the pastry so the pastries were egg shape and the bottom did have the imprint of a decorated egg. My daughter noticed and appreciated the effort, Mr S was bemused again!   Dessert was a simple cheesecake, decorated with a variety of assorted chocolate eggs.  I was realistic this year that given our holiday away I wasn’t going to be able to bake a Simnel cake, so again had purchased one in advance for Easter tea.

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We are lucky that our children do not receive lots of chocolate for Easter, I’m not into the Easter bunny so we bought them a simple Thorntons egg as we knew there was plenty of chocolate in the egg hunt and their grandparents sent a small money gift.  Our neighbours made a lovely present, filling a box with straw and a chicken made from natural materials with a few chocolates, they keep chickens so it was a really appropriate and fun gift.  I bought Mr S his cricket Playfair annual and got a few bonus wife points.

Easter this year was a very relaxed weekend, we did all we wanted to enjoy the Easter celebration but also simple things like family walks and good food.  It was just the 4 of us this year and a nice way to end our family holiday.

 

 

 

The 30 Day Music Challenge

 

I happened upon a tweet from Nickie O’Hara @nickieohara, a great follow on Twitter, on the 30 day music challenge she is doing on her website http://www.iamtypecast.com  For 30 days there are prompts for your choice of music.  I have an eclectic music taste and personally am always revising my Desert Island Discs so this seemed an ideal challenge.  Whilst I will add a music choice on a daily(ish) basis, I did think on my choices over my holiday and have a few suggestions for each day, except numbers 23,26,27 and 30.  I will stick to the same post and edit daily as required.  I hope you enjoy my music, for me music has a very personal and emotional link so I’ve tried to jot a few words for each choice.

Postscript, I still cannot decide on a few songs so these will be updated when inspiration shines.

  1. A song with a colour in the title. 
    So for my first song a little adaptation of the theme as my song has not one colour in the title but the word colour, I hope that I’m allowed this little cheat for such a good song.  I’ve chosen Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours released in 1986 as its a song I listened to as a teenager and made me realise that you need to be true to yourself and allow yourself to be who you are.  As a teenager, I needed to hear those lyrics and still think this is a beautiful song.
  2. A song with a number in the title – Noah and the Whale, 5 Years Time.   
                                                                                                                 You Tube are not allowing me to embed the official video, so here are the lyrics only.  This song means so much to me, firstly and simply I love the song but it has a poignant story behind it too.  The song was in the charts and played on the radio throughout August 2008, the worst month of my life where after many scans, tests, consultant appointments, monitoring and incredible medical care I sadly lost a baby during pregnancy.  Our baby was conceived after many rounds of IVF and despite further treatments I never conceived again. This song was a bit of an anthem for me, I had to believe that in 5 years time things would be better and we would have our family.  I’m happy to say our story has a happy ending as we adopted our son and daughter in 2011 and this song remains one of my favourite songs of all time.
  3. A song that reminds you of summertime. Booker T and the MGs – Soul Limbo
     This is the song of summer for me, the theme tune of Test Match Special, it conjurs up sunny afternoons, green fields, afternoon tea, birds and red buses all with a Caribbean vibe.  Even if you are not a cricket fan, TMS is a brilliant listen.  I like this song so much its also my phone ring tone!
  4. A song that reminds you of someone you would rather forget. No Doubt – Don’t Speak
      There is no one in my life whom I would wish to forget, whilst some have hurt me there are always good times to remember and I prefer to focus on the positive.  This song was my heart break song from my first grown up relationship.  It doesn’t make me sad just determined and strong.
  5. A song that needs to be played loud. Bon Jovi – Living On A Prayer 
    Jon Bon Jovi is my secret crush and the Slippery When Wet album was one of my first ever albums.  Bon Jovi are the best band I have ever seen live (Wembley June 1995) and this song just needs to be played loud and proud.
  6. A song that makes you want to dance. Abba – Dancing Queen
      This is the song to get me on the dance floor. I make no apology that it is the song which has always made me sing, smile and dance whether that be on the dance floor, in my kitchen or steering wheel dancing in my car.  I love Dancing Queen and the happy feelings and memories it brings.
  7. A song to drive to. John Miles – Music
      I have no idea how this choice came about, its a song that I like and is perfect for driving to as it builds up to a crescendo of music.  One of my guilty pleasures is being on my own in my car and driving along with my music up loud and singing.
  8. A song about drugs or alcohol. The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work. 
    Its difficult to put into words sometimes how music makes you feel and there is something hauntingly beautiful about this song.
  9. A song that makes you happy.  Morecambe and Wise – Bring me Sunshine
      So many songs make me happy, music has the ability to take me back to a place and time and songs can have so many happy memories that its impossible to single out the definitive happy song.  I’ve chosen Morecambe and Wise as its always been a favourite when I’m leading assemblies and its a happy time for me singing, signing and dancing with my SEN pupils at school.
  10. A song that makes you sad. Blur and Francoise Sagan – La Comedie. 
    I am not emotional and don’t do soppy love songs, yet there is something about this song which makes me sad and mournful.
  11. A song that you never get tired of. A-ha- Hunting High and Low. 
    A-ha were my first pop crush, Mags was my favourite and their posters adorned my bedroom walls in my early teenage years.  They were also the first band I saw live in concert.  This song just seems timeless and again would make my Desert Island Discs edit!
  12. A song from your pre-teen years.  The Kids from Fame – High Fidelity
    I’m sure I’m not the only primary school pupil who would watch the Kids from Fame on a Thursday night after Top of The Pops and then go into school the next day and practice the songs and dances.
  13. One of your favourite 70s songs. Earth, Wind, Fire  – September
      To me the 70s are disco and the challenge was to choose just one song to sum up the era, there are a number of EWF songs I would choose but as my daughter loves this too (its on the Trolls soundtrack!) , I’ve chosen it for the two of us.
  14. A song that you would love played at your wedding. Stevie Wonder – For Once in My Life
    Whilst I love other peoples’ weddings, the thought of being centre of attention and having a big, white wedding filled me with terror so Mr S and I had a small wedding in Italy which suited us perfectly.  If we had ever  had a reception this would have been the perfect song for us.
  15. A song that is a cover by another artist. Ewan McGregor – Your song
    I love this song but am not keen on the original by Elton John.  I like the big song feel of this version and often play it very loud on runs.  It comes from Moulin Rouge, a film I’m yet to see.
  16. One of your favourite classical songs. Beethoven – Ode to Joy
    To me this is the song of Europe, I was born the year we entered the EEC and feel proud to have been a member of the EU community,  I’m still upset over the Brexit referendum but this song shows such joy, its beautiful and uplifting.
  17. A song that you would sing as duet on karaoke. Elton John and Kiki Dee Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. 
      This is just a pop classic, one of those perfect pop songs and would be quite easy to see on karaoke, lots of whooos etc..
  18. A song from the year you were born. Slade – Merry Xmas Everyone
      From 1973, I have chosen the Christmas number 1 as this song always me happy and excited about Christmas, who doesn’t smile when they here Noddy Holden sing its chriiiistmasss
  19. A song that makes you think about life. The Beatles In my Life
    This song says it all for me, reminding you of loved ones and different stages of your life.  It is again in my Desert Island Discs choices
  20. A song that has many meanings to you.
  21. A favourite song with a person’s name in the title. Hue and Cry Looking for Linda
    I appreciate lyrics in songs and there are some beautiful lines in this song in which you create the narrative of the story.
  22. A song that makes you move forward. Queen Don’t Stop Me Now
      This has always been a favourite running song and anthem, who can’t fail to feel motivated when they hear the lines.
  23. A song that you think everyone should listen to. Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World.
      Because it is …
  24. A song by a band that you wish were still together. The Beatles Here Comes the Sun
      I could have chosen so many songs for this entry, but as soon as I hear this I’m taken to warm, sunny days, its such a feel good song.
  25. A song by an artist no longer alive.  David Bowie Life On Mars
      This is another artist for whom I could have chosen so many songs.  Of all the celebrity deaths in 2016, this was the one I felt shock and sadness for, Bowie’s music was exceptional.
  26. A song that makes you want to fall in love.  Audrey Hepburn / Henry Mancini Moon Rover 
      There are some songs you can’t explain why you love them so much.  This was on a compilation album I had as a teenager, I loved the 1950s love songs, it also featured in the classic Breakfast at Tiffanys and was in my favourite episode of Sex and the City.  I would love a man I loved to twirl me around on a dance floor in a swirly dress to this song, I can’t imagine Mr S ever doing this so it will remain as a little dream.
  27. A song that breaks your heart.
  28. A song by an artist whose voice you love. Adele When we were young 
    Adele is the songwriter and singer of this generation, so sublimely talented.
  29. A song you remember from your childhood. Meatloaf – Heaven Can Wait 
    Its strange how memories take you, I always remember how much my parents loved Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell and any song from the album takes me back to my childhood.
  30. A song that reminds you of yourself.

 

Bonnets, Birthdays and Butlins #littleloves

IMG_5382I’m afraid I’ve neglected my blog for a few weeks, its been such a busy time and I’ve been embracing the fun.  Following a quiet few months, April has sprung into life,  the weather has been stunning and so much has been happening.  We’ve hosted family for Granddad’s birthday celebrations, participated in Easter bonnet parades, watched and performed in talent shows, been on a family holiday to Butlins and finally celebrated Easter, not bad for the first 17 days of April.  Thankfully we’ve a few quieter days now until we go back to school a week today.

 

IMG_5375I’m an Amazon Prime subscriber and each month we get a free Kindle book, this month I chose After You Left by Carol Mason.  Its the story of a woman whose husband walks out of the marriage after 3 days and her friendship with an older woman who helps her to recover.  Whilst I’m not sure I would strongly recommend it, it was an easy and pleasant read, the perfect book to dip into as you watched the children doing their different activities at Butlins.  IMG_5379Ooh I’ve been busy this month so far.  I’ve watched a Brownie talent show which was refreshingly good with  impressions, the T-Rex was brilliant, ACDC tribute, the top 10 Man City players, the alphabet recited backwards etc.. Little Miss was due to do a duet with her friend but she was sick on the day and she ended up wowing us all with a solo, I was very proud.  I’ve also watched the primary school’s Easter bonnet parade.  This is a very big deal in the school, a tradition that goes back for more than a century (the school is still in the original building!) and it is one of the highlights of the school year.  The bonnets were lovely and it is just so sweet how the children walk up and down a cat walk to show their hats to the appreciative audience.

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At Butlins, I got to watch three new Skyline Gang shows, Little man adores the Skyline Gang so we made sure that we were in the pavilion for each performance.  I also got to watch the children trying out new sports and activities at Butlins, whilst I joined in with rounders and cricket, I watched the fencing.  The instructor was an old acquaintance, my family are always amazed how I can go somewhere and know someone!

Yes, this is the first picture I’ve ever published online of my children, but I think they are suitably disguised not to be recognisable.  IMG_5378I have made an Easter egg hunt for the children, it was a mix of activities and chocolate and for the first time in a couple of years the weather allowed us to do the hunt in the garden! I also made an Easter lunch which was delicious.  More of both of these activities in my (still to be written) Easter post.

IMG_5384The sunshine has definitely brought out the colour in my wardrobe.  Yellow seems to be my go to colour, I have a lovely yellow broderie top and a Lazy Jacks sweatshirt, perfect with jeans or cropped trousers.  IMG_5380Before we had the fun of Butlins, I had Little Man’s Annual Review on the last day of term, he has an EHCP and a full time 1:1 TA with him in the classroom to support him.  We are so proud of what he has achieved, when we were asked to consider adopting him, his future was uncertain, he was a one year old who was unable to crawl and there were many questions on his future development and possible diagnoses.  Now after years of physiotherapy, speech therapy etc.. his future looks positive and he is the most easy going and happy boy, his support is to help his learning. The Annual Review was a really positive meeting, he makes so much progress and we really couldn’t be prouder of him.

At Butlins, I heard lots of laughter and screams at the funfair and Splashworld and of course the Skyline Gang’s songs have catchy tunes which you find yourself humming along!  IMG_5386So the Easter celebrations are over now.  I’m hoping for a quieter few days of holiday visiting local places.  It is very busy here at present, we’re a popular destination for Easter breaks, so we’re heading off to some of the quieter places off the tourist trail.  I have booked some activities at our local sports centre to enjoy.  There are also a few play dates organised to keep us busy.  Mr S is working away this week so I need to be out and about to keep myself sane.

Thank you to Morgana for hosting the linky at http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com/

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Mothers’ Day, Bugs and new trainers #littleloves

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So this was the week in which it showed how quickly finely tuned plans can become an unmanageable mess with just one small change to routines.  The change was that I was sick and having 2 days in which I was unable to do much had an impact to our week.  On Monday, not only was Mr S away on business, I was sick, Little Man had a bad chest infection and was off school and then I got a call to pick up Little Miss who was complaining of being ill too (she wasn’t and that was definitely a skive) I’m afraid the day turned into a movie and duvet day.  I am too conscientious for my own good and rather than take a day off sick on Monday, when I normally work a morning, I made up my hours later in the week.  That was madness as by the end of the week we had taken the radical action of putting our house up for sale and putting an offer on what could be a dream house, in context on Monday we had no notions of moving! Needless to say it s not been a week of much relaxing but lets try and show a few #littleloves.

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I have read the house particulars of one little house this week many times although I am scared to get too excited.  I also read my beautiful Mothers’ day cards and the lovely acrostic mother created by Little Miss.

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Whilst Monday turned into Movie day I was too poorly to watch any properly.  The only notable programme was Prime Suspect 1973, the story is pretty predictable but I love the attention to details in props and costumes.

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It was play date time this week and again I did the pick’n’mix baked potatoes (different friends so I got away with it again!) I created more fillings so the table looked a bit like the salad cart at a Harvester but the children loved it and all ate a good tea.

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I’ve been needing a new pair of trainers for ages but wanted to wait until I was outside running rather than choosing a pair for the gym.  My new running shoes are so comfortable and supportive and made me realise how worn my old pair were, I’ll need to keep a note of the miles run to ensure that I keep my feet healthy in supportive trainers.

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I have heard so many excited girls this week, the giggles have echoed around the house.  We had 2 little friends on Wednesday talking make up and boys and then Little Miss and her friends have been getting so excited about this weekend’s Brownie trip to Legoland where 5000 brownies are taking over the park!  I also played a Hot Hits playlist at tea on Wednesday night, my desperate attempt to look hip to the youngsters!

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Whilst we have many things to do now for the possible house sale, I have a weekend of family.  My Father in law has arrived and my sister in law and husband will be joining us tomorrow.  Fortunately we have a lovely lunch out booked so not too much extra for me to do.  Then its time for the last week of term and Easter bonnet parades to prepare for.