Happy New Year 2014

The year has flown by but on the whole it’s been a positive one, moving slowly in the right direction as I mentioned at Christmas.

Happy 2014 to all the people that keep me going. You! My friends and family. May this New Year be all that you hope it will be. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, it’s that life is full of uncertainties so you have to go grab it by the horns and make it (whatever it may be) happen!

Counting our blessings at Christmas

Well time has run away with me and here I am on Christmas Eve reflecting on a year of huge change for us.

Last Christmas we had no idea where we’d be living at this time, or even if we’d have a roof over our heads at all. We had no security, no money, no idea what the future might hold and it was very, very scary. We were living one day at a time and barely hanging in there.

Gradually, we’ve taken little steps forward and now we are living in a house that’s plenty large enough for us all to remain together as a family unit, complete with cats, and we are very lucky to have such a lovely landlady. By pooling our resources, and working hard we’ve managed to just about make ends meet. Billy was working part-time at first but now has a full-time job which he is enjoying getting his teeth into. Nel was unemployed but is now very settled into an NHS admin apprenticeship and is very much part of the team at work, valued for herself – and spoiled to bits by everyone in the department! Raji was doing a job that didn’t really challenge him enough but is now in a role which suits him well and pays more. I have spent the year working as much overtime as possible, with just one week off in July, but this has kept our heads above water and I do enjoy my work and feel a part of the team. Stephen still works at the pub which he enjoys but the hours aren’t sufficient to support him, unfortunately. So we’ve had small but positive changes since last Christmas – little steps;right direction.

This has led to me really feeling the true spirit of Christmas and I am fully in the mood to count my blessings.

I have my family all together and getting on with life by helping each other through. I have a nice home. I have absolutely wonderful friends and family who have supported us though this tricky year. I have the things that really matter.

I’ve cut down a lot on Christmas presents – and even cards – as have many people in this financial climate. I’ve made many presents myself and have enjoyed doing so and put a lot of TLC into them. Those presents I have bought were carefully chosen and I’ve made use of special offers, discounts and loyalty schemes, but I am pleased with what I’ve bought. People won’t have umpteen things, just one or two presents that I hope will really please them. It’s all so much more special and meaningful for me this year and I hope the recipients feel it too.

On the other side of the coin,I feel lucky to have such lovely, kind, caring colleagues who are also good friends. I’ve already received lovely messages in cards and presents from unexpected quarters. I’ve enjoyed sharing Christmas cheer with people who work very intensely all year and feel privileged to get on so well with people of all roles within the hospital. But more than this, these people have supported me through bad times and shared good ones every day so what little I’ve done for them at this time of year to put a smile on their faces has been very enjoyable to do.

At home, I have two children of whom I am proud and whom I am happy to call friends as well as family. I am lucky to have my wonderful mum who, as you know, is a huge part of my life and gives me so much by way of support, love and fun. She doesn’t live with us but is nonetheless part of this family unit and I don’t know what I’d have done without her. Raji, of course, does live with us and enriches our household; I must admit I can’t imagine him not being with us now. We get on really well and he is more a brother and friend than “just” an in-law. As for Billy and I, we’ve actually managed to spend some time together here and there and now that he’s settled in to his job and life has calmed down a bit, he’s more like the man with whom I fell in love. Dare I hope we can pause to enjoy each other for a while?

As you may know, our darts team is made up of very good friends and they too have seen us through this year. I love my Friday nights playing darts in their company. In good times and bad, we can just relax and be ourselves with them, and they with us. I miss them if I don’t see them one week and I don’t get bored with their company if we get together for other things (such as watching football in the pub and generally leading each other astray πŸ˜‰ ) Their easy company and solid friendship has kept us going at times when we’ve really needed propping up.

I also have my beloved City to keep me entertained and through my football I have many friends who enrich my life. I have my City friends, some of whom I meet up with at games, some I only see occasionally. I have friends who are fans of other football clubs, some of whom I know well, some I’ve only met once or twice. Football brings me closer to my brother when we exchange match day texts as the geographical distance between us and busy lives make it all too easy to lose touch otherwise. All of these people make me feel a part of something, a sense of belonging and offer humour and opinion to entertain me. Many of them do more and have generously given me help, advice, support, access to match tickets and are dear friends. (You know who you are.)

So as I sit here counting my blessings and looking forward to a family Christmas and New Year with friends, I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has helped make this year bearable and kept us going. THANK YOU! I wish you a Christmas time full of your own blessings, with love, laughter and light and I hope that 2014 will be all that you hope it will be.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all my wonderful family and friends.

Christmas shopping day

I took a very rare day off work (the first since July in fact, discounting the August bank holiday) on the first Monday of December so that I could do my Christmas shopping. I wouldn’t have picked that date myself as it WAS a little early, but there wasn’t any other day I could take, so I just went with it. As it turned out, I was actually feeling quite Christmassy so rather enjoyed myself.

After everyone else had left for work, I got myself ready and then walked along to the shops. I’d decided against going into Newcastle or the Metrocentre for the occasion as Raji had my car for work and I really didn’t fancy faffing with buses or trains, being limited to a timetable, carrying bags all day and paying far too much for the privilege. After the first shop – in which I bought presents for a couple of people, I felt I deserved a treat, so went in to the newly opened branch of my favourite coffee shop:

Christmassy coffee

A few more shops and several more presents later, I decided to take my morning’s loot back home and freshen up before going to meet Billy for lunch ( a very early Anniversary treat) We had a very enjoyable meal in Wetherspoons and though we’d had soft drinks with it, I rather fancied one of the liqueur coffees and went for the Disaronno one – which was very nice. (I drink my coffee black so any of the flavours would have worked – can’t imagine them with milk in though. Yeugh!)

Boozy coffee

After that, it was back to the shops and I managed to pretty much finish all the present shopping. It was so nice to have the chance to go in to the smaller shops and browse in leisurely fashion. There are so many little unique things to be found and really no need to suffer the stress of going further afield. To be fair, I have also made a lot of presents this year and again, those I have bought have not been extravagant. Still, there’s a satisfying little pile of presents on the bedroom floor waiting to be wrapped πŸ™‚

Over the course of this last week, I’ve iced the cakes, made a few more presents, and even put up the decorations. I’m STILL feeling Christmassy so am making the most of it and enjoying it. (I did consider trying to quell it until nearer the day, but then thought that it could be gone in a flash and I’d have denied myself the fun.)

I quite enjoyed playing with the decorations – being in a new house means finding new places to put things so it was fun starting from scratch. When I’d done, it looked quite cosy in the living room so I lit a fire and Billy and I sat down together to enjoy the ambience. I even wrote a couple of cards – whilst sipping a glass of wine to reward myself πŸ™‚

Cosy for Christmas

Shopping, giggles then 6 of the best for City

Last weekend I finally got back down to see mum and go to my match after a very long gap. I loved the drive down on Friday night which gave me a chance to relax with mum and then have all day Saturday together.

We visited Broughton, a retail park just over the Welsh border which I really like and we spent the morning doing a bit of Christmas shopping and browsing. One of the shops we visited sold a variety of homewares and gifts and after looking at ornaments, kitchen ware, bathroom stuff, hot water bottles and so on, we were in another aisle and I had to stop to work out what we were looking at. Hot water bottle covers maybe? Eventually, my poor muddled brain eventually worked out what the candy stripe knitted object which had caught my attention actually was….. a knitted dog jacket! Well I started giggling and pointed it out to mum. Who also got the giggles and soon we were in hysterics, complete with snorting, which drew attention from other shoppers – who promptly gave us a wide berth πŸ˜€

Hot water bottle cover? πŸ˜€

Mum did buy something in that shop so while she queued to pay, I carried on browsing. But the image of the little doggy jacket popped into my head again and I was back to giggling and snorting – and drawing bemused glances πŸ˜€

We decided a bit of a sit down and a food break was in order after a while so we had lunch in the pub across the road. Although it was quite busy, the service was friendly and efficient, we enjoyed our rest and the food was vhot, fresh and filling.

The last shop to visit was Tesco for the main shopping and a few Christmassy bits, but we were both quite tired, there were too many people (who showed no awareness of others around them πŸ™ ) and all the kids in there were very noisy. We got what we needed but were very glad to escape once we were done.

It was wonderful to get home, shut the door on everyone and just relax over a dinner of braised steak, accompanied by a bottle of wine – and another bout of giggles thinking about the knitted doggy jackets πŸ˜€

Next morning we were a bit short of time so we set to and I packed my things, gathered more wood from mum’s pile of tree cuttings in the garden and loaded the car. Mum, meanwhile, packed me a picnic and then cooked us a full English breakfast. What a treat, and how delicious! πŸ™‚ Soon it was time to say goodbye and head off to Manchester for the match….

I arrived in time to pick up some Christmas bits and a new woolly hat to replace my old one which was missing, and then went on up to my seat and greeted my season ticket neighbours. I noted that the Spurs support was a decent turnout for a Sunday lunch time a distance away at this (expensive) time of year. I thought this would be a tight game as our defence is ropey and Spurs have some pace – probably one goal in it and I just hoped it would go our way. City’s new fangled gimic before kick off these days is to have various people singing Blue Moon. This week’s singer was Jason Manford who asked us all to “be upstanding for the National anthem” πŸ˜€ He’s actually not a bad singer.

People were still milling about finding their seats shortly after the whistle had blown and then all of a sudden, the ball was in the back of the net! No! That was never a goal this early (13 secs)? It looked alright to us but…. Well, we looked at the ref. Looked at the lino. Looked at the goal again. Looked at the players. Realised it WAS a goal (and what a goal!) and it stood. And celebrated belatedly πŸ˜€

Well the rest of the game was surreal – 6 lovely goals and none in reply! At 5-0 I think I’d decided that was likely to be it, but Navas’ run and goal was cherry on the cake πŸ™‚ Beautiful! (So, to summarise, that was Navas for the 1st & 6th goals, a harsh own goal for the 2nd, Aguero twice then Negredo for the 5th.) Not only does one not expect to keep scoring so many goals, but to beat Spurs by such a margin – well, let’s just say that there will be very few, if any, who put money on that! (And if they did, they deserve every penny of their winnings!))

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

I had a lovely drive home to round off my thoroughly enjoyable weekend which had been overdue but worth the wait.

Our annual night out (Cricket dinner 2013)

Where does the time go? On 15th November, it was once again time for Billy’s cricket dinner at Langley Castle.
(See previous year’s posts: 2012, 2011, 2008, 2007. )

This also happened to be Stephen’s birthday so I checked with him first that he didn’t want to do something en famille for the occasion. I was unsurprised when he said not! πŸ˜‰ We hadn’t know what to get him as a present so took a bit of a chance and bought him DFDS ferry vouchers for a trip to Amsterdam as this was something he fancied doing. Mum had done the research and she also bought him ferry vouchers, and she has offered her travel agency experience when it comes to booking. Happily he was really pleased with them and is now enjoying planning a trip. πŸ™‚

Still being a smaller clothing size means I don’t have many clothes that fit (it’s now been a year since my bizarre, unexplained weight loss, yet I can’t quite accept that I won’t go back to my normal size and be able to wear my old clothes again.) I had an inexpensive green dress I could wear though it wasn’t really quite dressy enough, but teamed with an evening shrug and some high heels, it did the job. Nel let me use her green eye-shadow and my friend Helen loaned me her beautiful green shell necklace, earrings and bracelets – thanks girls πŸ™‚ The menfolk scrubbed up rather nicely and submitted to a photo before we left. (I reckoned my heels made me the same height as them for once, but they said not…)

Thorn between two roses

We met with everyone at the cricket club ready for the coach taking us to the castle with the usual sweepstake on the length of the guest speaker’s after dinner speech πŸ™‚ The venue was as beautiful as ever and the meal superb. (Sun-blushed tomato & basil soup topped with a parmesan straw; Roast loin of succulent pork, apple & pancetta stuffing, fondant potato and seasonal vegetables; Baileys cheesecake, caramel ice-cream and chocolate sauce; coffee and mints.)

As usual I couldn’t quite manage all my main course so Billy finished it off for me. However, he didn’t return the favour with the divine dessert, despite the fact that he doesn’t like cheesecake! πŸ˜‰ It really was a gorgeous meal, the company excellent and the speeches amusing. There were lots of prize winners who were enthusiastically congratulated, and we even won 1st prize in the raffle! (A lovely wicker hamper full of food and drink goodies, which we’re going to save for Christmas πŸ™‚ )

Chairman Webby playing host with the most photo WP_000285_zpsafa7d401.jpg Speaker Foxy making us laugh photo WP_000286-Copy_zps07f6bb3e.jpg Beautiful venue photo WP_000288_zpsf638467d.jpg Can't beat dinner in a castle photo WP_000289_zps1833c73c.jpg Prize winners and their prizes photo WP_000292_zpsed76667f.jpg Getting restless now photo WP_000294_zps536d0fc7.jpg

The coach came to take us back to Hexham at around midnight, Raji and I then coming home, with Billy joining a few others in the pub until the wee small hours. It had been a wonderful evening and worthy of being our annual night out πŸ™‚

Billy

All in green

Together

Bonfire night then back-to-back in the pub

As I mentioned in my last post, the huge event that is Hexham’s bonfire fell on the same date as a City match but one of our friends had asked us, when we first got this house, if she could come round for hotdogs after the fireworks as it sits right next to the park. Ironically, she then couldn’t make it after all but we decided to have an open house for our friends anyway. I did a load of hot dogs and a big pot of homemade leek and potato soup, got some wine and beer and lit a nice big fire in the living room. We had a great night with our friends, with an old Queen tribute concert playing on the TV as background (Lots of dead artists featured, causing much hilarity (you had to be there!) πŸ˜€ ) We also sampled my chili sherry which was surprisingly good. A really good night with really good friends πŸ™‚

Can you have too much of a good thing? Not yet, it seems, as we kept company with these same friends last Sunday in a repeat-but-one-better of the day I was led astray πŸ˜‰ I worked my socks off at home on the Saturday to earn myself a day off, though I did quickly make the Christmas cakes Sunday morning and left them to cook in the Rayburn for the day. We met up in Studio Sports Bar and spent the entire day there, watching all 3 of the day’s football matches back-to-back. HOW decadent!

First up was Spurs 0 – 1 Newcastle and we expected a home win. However, in what was actually an entertaining game, Newcastle defended resolutely and Krull made world class ave after world class save! (Easily MotM by a mile.) The bar offers a free shot for every Newcastle goal when showing live matches so we all had a shot to celebrate πŸ™‚ Billy, Graham, Paul, Steph and bar staff were Newcastle fans, I wanted Newcastle to win, but Roger wanted them to lose so this added to the fun.

Next was Roger’s team versus mineSunderland 1 – 0 City and again, Roger was the only one wanting a home win. This is City’s bogey team/bogey ground so I was resigned to losing. In fact it looked like an extension of the previous game in which one team defended resolutely. The home goal was down to appalling defending on our part and City annoyed me by trying to walk the ball in the net every time. Also, players were often hoofing the ball to our lone front man – Aguero, who had no chance of winning the ball against the tall defenders. That said, we created chances and between deflections, good defending and an excellent keeper, we were held at bay.

MCFC’s 60-Second Highlights here
MCFC’s Extended Highlights here

Roger and I were still friends at the end, of course and in fact were the only ones in there proudly sporting our colours! I also got a lovely family photo of him with Steph and Marc πŸ™‚

Sunderland v City

Lovely family

We were all supporting the away team in the final gameManUre 1 – 0 Arsenal I should have known that I’d jinx it! πŸ˜‰ Again, a game that continued from the last with Arsenal playing the role of City!

What a fantastic day though – I don’t think I’ve ever watched 3 games in a row like that as I never have the time! I must be getting old though as I’m starting to take opportunities when they arise and I work hard enough that I feel I should enjoy some R&R when offered the chance. Billy went home straight away at the end of the last match as he wanted to watch his NFL team (Greenbay Packers) but I stayed with Paul and Graham and Paul saw me home later. I’d had 4 bottles of Stella all day,(match day special offer) plus the (weak) shot earlier so was mellow but not drunk. Then Shaun decided he’d clean out the pumps and left the drained off beer in glasses on the bar for any who wanted them so I got to sample them. (I did only have about 1/4 of a pint though, honest!)

Drinks all round!

This was my kind of relaxing day – plenty of football with good friends. I loved it πŸ™‚

A week of City – ridiculous to sublime

Newcastle 0- 2 City (AET)(Capital One Cup)

Billy and I both had tickets for this clash between our clubs but were both working so were catching the bus in straight after work as the train would be too tight time-wise. However, really we wanted the train back as it was quicker and the time suited more, so we decided on bus in, train home (costing more, of course!) We made a contingency plan in the unlikely event it went to extra time/penalties as neither of us would be willing to miss the end if that were the case. This would mean we’d have to get the last bus back which stops EVERYWHERE and takes an hour and a half to do the 20 minute journey from Newcastle to home – making it a late night for a school night! We rushed in, had a sausage roll from Greggs on the bus for our tea and made it to the pub for a quick drink before the game, meeting up with my City friends there.

I left Billy there as I had to climb up all those stairs to level 7 – good job I did as stewards also searched every away fan before letting us through the turnstiles. My bag was searched and I had to wait for a female steward to pat me down – annoying having to wait and I wouldn’t have minded a bloke doing it as it was just quick and I was wearing 3 layers plus a coat so it was hardly intimate. Sniffer dogs were also on duty though one moron did manage to get a flare through somehow. πŸ™

We were right in the corner next to the weird plastic wall

The game was dire! It was so poor (from a City perspective) that the away fans had to make our own entertainment and were comically asking each other if they should get themselves kicked out and watch the rest of the match in the pub where they’s at least have a pint to help them through πŸ˜‰

At the end of normal time, I couldn’t believe it was still 0-0 and Newcastle should have won it in that time I felt. However they didn’t, so last bus it was! To a man, every City fan’s face reflected the same thought: “Oh God! Not another half hour of this rubbish to watch!” There was a Newcastle steward near us who started off with a poker face, but as the match went on and singing became more creative, he first smiled, then grinned and by the end was laughing openly. (Particular ones that amused him were “Costel for England” and “We’ll play ’til half ten….” πŸ˜€ )

The football did improve when we brought Silva on and Newcastle shifted their midfield a bit leaving him room. Pantilimon made a good save or two but over all this could have been anybody’s game – it just happened to be ours in the end. City fans were pleased of course, but there was no massive celebration, knowing as we did that it was a poor game and a slightly lucky result.

It had been fun seeing my friends though and we went back to the pub for a quick drink whilst waiting for the bus so we got to enjoy a post-match chat for a bit. We managed to stay awake on the way home despite the length of the journey and though it hadn’t been an exciting night, it had certainly been pleasant enough. City were in the pot for the next round – and subsequently drew Leicester away.

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
NUFC report here

City 7 – 0 Norwich (Premier League)

As many people know, I have a big soft spot for Norwich and I love their away supporters who come for a good time and a laugh and to support their team (as opposed to barracking the opposition) This was also the game that naturally fell at the right amount of time since my last match and hence my last visit to see mum. So this was the game I was planning to attend. However, I then found out that the Hexham bonfire night was the same date and we had a friend who had asked to come round for hotdogs after the fireworks so I changed my plans and let a friend use my ticket – arranging instead to go to the Spurs game at the end of the month. WHAT a game to miss! πŸ™

I watched on TV and couldn’t believe what I was seeing πŸ™‚ Whilst I enjoyed so many City goals immensely, and we DID play well (despite this not getting much acknowledgement by the tv commentators and pundits!) I did know that Norwich were also poor. I have chatted with Norwich supporting friends who have not been happy with the tactics or performances this season. This game was surely another nail in Hughton’s coffin? Naturally, I was not surprised to have City friends confirm that the away fans stayed and supported their team right to the end (unlike another set of fans we all know and hate….;) ) Costel kept a clean sheet though to be fair, he wasn’t really put to the test. That said, I’m perfectly happy with him in goal and with the idea of giving both our brilliant keepers game time and rest periods. The media, as ever, are getting their knickers in a twist about nothing in my opinion. Anyway, nice goal difference for us after this game πŸ™‚

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

City 5 – 2 CSKA Moscow(Champions League)

Another mid week game; another one watched on the box. I have to confess I didn’t expect such good football or such a great result from us! I was pleased for Negredo (AKA “The Beast”) getting a well deserved hat trick too. I thoroughly enjoyed it though the two goals we conceded were very poor; we were brilliant going forwards and dreadful defending. Still, that put us through to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the first time, and though I don’t envisage us proceeding beyond a round, two at the outside, it IS good to see that we are making progress each successive year and learning that little bit more each time.

City fans’ answer to the racism of the last time the teams met was to sing Yaya songs loudly and proudly. Nice touch fellow Blues πŸ™‚

MCFC’s highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

Led Astray!

Well it was my intention to write my blog last weekend……. but I was led astray by bad men! πŸ˜‰

Roger, being a freelance gardener, very kindly volunteered to prune the apple tree in our garden which hadn’t been done for a good couple (or more) years.

Tree in spring

By the time he’d finished, it looked like this:

Pruned!

Naturally, we wanted to thank him for his hard work so Billy proposed taking him for a drink and they asked me along. I regretfully declined as I had so much to get done over the weekend and planned to finish cooking then nip out before ironing all afternoon. I continued to resist and when I finished cooking said I was going down to Aldi to get a few bits and I left them clearing up the branches. I agreed they could drop me a text to let me know which pub they were in and I MIGHT pop in for a half on my way home. They then sent the text saying they were in Wetherspoons which I had to pass on the way home so I joined them for a quick drink. Before I knew it, Graham had joined us and I was on a second drink……. somehow the afternoon flew by as we moved to Studio to watch the rugby and by the time we went home, I’d had FIVE drinks! (Mopped up slightly by a hotdog from a van on the walk between pubs.) At first I fretted about not getting my chores done, about having scruffy clothing, no make-up or jewellry etc…… then I just relaxed and enjoyed a good afternoon in lovely company. If they were happy to take me as I was, then who was I to argue? πŸ˜€ You can’t buy impromptu sessions like this, nor good friends like ours.

So…… to catch up a bit……..

City: I watched these 3 games on TV
West Ham 1 – 3 City – Our first away win and well deserved I thought. It was also an enjoyable game to watch. MCFC’s 60-second highlights here MCFC’s Extended highlights here

CSKA Moscow 1 – 2 City – Dashed home from work just in time for kick off (Stephen had kindly turned on the TV and put it on the right channel for me) and I was pleasantly surprised to get this result. I was NOT amused at the racist monkey chants by home fans at Yaya. I’m also not convinced that the punishment issued by UEFA is much of a deterrent, though I suppose it is the 1st of the series of 3 punishments if they keep it up. Racism is not acceptable at any level, much less at Champions League level, and no-one should have to put up with it. MCFC’s highlights here.

Chelsea 2 – 1 City – good lineup, good tactics and good performance. One (stupid and frustrating) mistake cost us 2 points but that’s football. We take the many positives from it and move on. I was happy enough with this performance and that’s all I ask. I’m not happy with the media hysteria vilifying Hart and wish they’d get a grip! He’s still relatively young for a keeper, keepers’ mistakes are always very noticeable compared to those of outfield players, and jumping on his back isn’t constructive. MCFC’s 60-second highlights here MCFC’s Extended highlights here

Darts: Following on from my last report, we’re still doing well! We’ve won 5 of our 7 league games now and are STILL 3rd in the table! I’ve got a couple of singles wins under my belt too, including a satisfying one against a young lad who answered his phone during our game with “I’m in the pub playing darts. Against a BIRD!” πŸ˜€ (That was a very odd game in a pub with what looked like all those on pub-watch in our town having relocated to the next village. It was slightly intimidating when I was playing my singles with them all crowding round getting in my space a bit, but otherwise we actually had a fairly enjoyable evening as a tight-knit team.) Somewhere along the line, we I decided we should have a team theme tune to get us fired up for our games. Junior decided it would be the next song to come on the juke box. Flash! Hm, maybe not. OK, the NEXT song. Flash – the remix! πŸ˜€ Flash it must be then! Next to assign characters………. πŸ˜‰ )

Work – well this is just truly crazy, it has to be said. I spend all my time in each of my two roles, desperately trying to get everything clear in the 2/3 days I have at it before doing my other role. Then when I go back to the other one, I have it all to do again. We’re also having a Trust wide new computer system very soon so everyone has to be trained in the new software and pass tests so full and half day training sessions have to be accommodated too. (It WILL be a better system I think but it’s a massive change – like switching from MSDOS to Windows.) I really do feel like I am permanently chasing my tail but in general I do love my work, it’s just that there are never enough hours to get it done as the workload is ever increasing.

Nel: Nel’s apprenticeship is going brilliantly now that she’s switched to admin. She has picked it all up so fast and does such a lovely thorough job that the secretaries are over the moon with her. She has made such a huge difference to the department and for their part they’ve really taken her to their hearts. She has her very own desk – with the addition of her own computer and printer just this week – and has personalised it with photos of the pets and a couple of plants given to her by one of her colleagues. I’m absolutely delighted that it’s worked out so wonderfully, grateful to the team for making Nel so welcome and appreciated and naturally am, as ever, very proud of my clever daughter. πŸ™‚

Enjoying nature’s bounty

This autumn I’ve mainly been enjoying free food produce courtesy of ours and mum’s gardens πŸ™‚

I’ve had cooking apples and rosehips from mum’s, and sour apples and blackberries from ours (I can’t believe how many blackberries there actually were growing at the back of the garden amongst the other bushes and trees.)

Rosehip syrup and Apple & Blackberry jam

I’ve also had a few courgettes from a plant given to me by a colleague, sage, oregano, chives and mint from my pots, chilis from a plant another colleague gave me, and gorgeous little cherry tomatoes from mum. All of these have supplemented whatever I’ve had in the kitchen to make yummy casseroles and dinners.

The apples have also been used in crumbles and pies, apple sauce and various cakes (e.g. spiced apple cake, Dutch apple cake, apple dessert cake)

Somehow it all tastes so much better when it was harvested for nothing and then made into food with lots of TLC πŸ™‚

3 x 3’s for City

Villa 3 – 2 City Having found myself a stream to watch this online, I was about to settle to watch when my (canvas) wardrobe collapsed, depositing all my clothes all over the floor. (Again!) SO I ended up sorting out that mess whilst watching – and to be honest it was probably a good job I did. Although City played well, it has to be said that Villa woke up after half time and deserved their win πŸ™

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here

City 1 – 3 Bayern MΓΌnchen I was snug in bed watching this game and though it always hurts to be on the end of a battering, I could only admire the beautiful and mesmerising football played by MΓΌnchen. They didn’t take second touches of the ball – it was all one-touch passing and movement. This was the first time since Maine Road (Arsenal), that I can recall, where City fans have applauded an opposition team off the pitch out of sheer respect. We may have lost this but it was a privilege to watch such quality football.

MCFC’s highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

City 3 – 1 Everton I had an early start to attend this lunch time fixture and I was rather nervous about how we’d do against a team playing well, I confess. I needn’t have worried – although our defence did give me a scare or two, and both Kompany and Kolorov picked up injuries which is worrying. We played some nice football from the off, but the defence were too slow to spot the threat that led to Everton’s goal. Happily we responded straight away and proceeded to look comfortable on the ball with lovely passing and movement. It took us a little while to realise Sergio’s penalty had gone in, though we couldn’t quite figure out how and it wasn’t until the replay that it made sense πŸ™‚ We fully deserved the win and I particularly enjoyed it as I just can’t find anything to like about Everton and their fans. (I definitely prefer Liverpool and between games against Everton, I sort of forget why, and then we play them and I’m reminded how ManUre like their fans are – less about supporting their own team and more about the one they’re playing. I do like Liverpool fans by contrast as they support their team and have a sense of humour.) Lescott was the pantomime villain for Everton fans and they sang their usual songs at him, but I had to laugh when City fans responded with “He’s won more than you, he’s won more than y-ou, Joleon Lescott, he’s won more than you” πŸ˜€ (And later a variation: “He’s winning 3-1….” It was a good afternoon and again one of beautiful sunshine and I left smiling to enjoy a relaxed drive to mum’s. After a very fraught week at work I really needed some escapism and good cheer and this had hit the spot nicely.

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

I was also smiling because before the match, I’d met up with the people from Iconic Autographs who had brought along my birthday present from mum – a boxed frame photo/ticket display which they’d created from my title winning season ticket and FA Cup winning tickets:

I was there!