New Year with good friends

In a change to our previous New Year’s Eve arrangements, this year we went to Roger and Steph’s new home to see out the year. There were about 15 or so of us altogether, including Simon and Claire who were up for a few days so it was a nicely sized gathering. There was certainly plenty to drink, and besides chatting, there was the Wii for those who wanted to play, as well as a shot-drinking roulette game and later a logo quiz board game which was played boys v girls. Raji, Steph and Dan played the roulette game enthusiastically, knocking back shots of Cactus Jack (which looked revolting – especially the Jaffa cake flavoured one!) It was nice to see Raji letting his hair down, though he didn’t actually get that drunk. The board game later was made interesting by the fact that both question masters were under the influence and had great difficulty reading the questions, one of the girls seemed determined to help the boys, another moved to sit far enough away that the girls’ conferring could be heard by the boys enabling them to steal a question or two and best of all, the rules appeared to be made up as we went along πŸ˜€ It was a lovely night with lovely people – these people are amongst our closest friends and it was just so nice to relax with them and see in the New Year together πŸ™‚

When we got home at around 2.30 am, it was to discover that Stephen’s tonsillitis/cold had been bad enough that he was sent home to bed after dragging himself in to work, and Nel had been poorly enough that she’d had to cancel her own NYE plans. πŸ™ My poor babies are both now on herbs and working through the bug, which is a nasty one.

I was unsurprised that I didn’t sleep at all, as I had missed both my deep sleep cycles (I seem to have one around 11.30pm and one about 2.30 am ) so I just relaxed in bed (listening to Billy snoring πŸ˜‰ ) and got up not much later than usual really. What WAS a surprise was that I felt absolutely fine, unlike previous years, and yet I’d probably drunk slightly more! I wasn’t complaining!

We spent the afternoon with Pat, having collected Paul and Steph on the way, and once again we had a fantastic day with them, Natalie and Grandpa. We were stuffed after the roast pork dinner with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding, profiteroles and later cheese and biscuits. Naturally the drink flowed freely too, and I had had some sneaky peeks at the MCFC Twitter commentary of the City 3 v 0 Stoke match and was delighted with the result. (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here and extended ones here.)

Between dinner and pudding we played the reindeer racing game which had come from the crackers – think some of the reindeer must have been sneaking some of Santa’s sherry!(If video clip doesn’t show, right click the blank area and click “reload“)

We also played Pat’s own variation of build-a-beetle with felt pieces assembled in to snowmen – a simple but fun game. I seemed to throw load of 6’s and Pat could only throw 1’s! We then played our Nasty Horse Racing Game which we took with us and that was fun with some devious moves and downright persecution for the most tenuous of reasons (yes, I admit it – I knocked Natalie’s horse out of a race simply because it was red! :D) We then managed a couple of quick games of Trivial Pursuit though this was pretty tame compared to usual (probably because Barbara now lives in Oz and wasn’t there.) The girls even managed to get all their pieces of pie in the first game but simply could get to the middle for the final question and then correctly answer before the boys cleaned up. (Of course if the girls would stop being preoccupied with landing on the pink questions all the time, they might do better – did I mention that I hate the pink ones? πŸ˜‰ )

Despite my lack of sleep the previous night, I did OK but was definitely very tired and ready for home by the time we got a call from Nel asking us to come home soon. Her cold had given her hearing loss in one ear and she was feeling a bit scared, so we wrapped up the game and walked home. Nel was fine once she knew we were home so we wished her goodnight (well, morning) and crashed into bed.

We do love spending New Year with our friends. Happy New Year.

Precious family time at Christmas

Having finished work on the 21st December, I had two glorious weeks off ahead and got it off to a good start with a couple of nights out. On the Friday night, the darts team got together for a few drinks and light-hearted darts games at the club – this is becoming a very nice tradition now πŸ™‚ On Saturday it was Billy’s work Christmas dinner and this was held at The Heart and was a wonderful night with fantastic food and company. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it put me nicely in the Christmas mood. I then had a couple of days staying indoors to potter around at my own pace preparing for Christmas so it was all very relaxed and un-rushed πŸ™‚ Since I’ve scaled down present buying considerably over the last few years, there weren’t too many to wrap and I’d just about got cards written and posted a few days previously, so I could concentrate on the house and food.

Mum had given us a food goody-bag in which there were really well thought out supplies such as chocolates and biscuits, savouries and beverages and even a treat for the cats and hamsters! (Thank you mummy πŸ™‚ ) We also had another thoughtful gift of an M&S gift card from another relative and this was spent on fresh foods such as dips, pate and cheeses. Finally, my Tesco Clubcard vouchers covered the turkey, a beautiful piece of silverside beef and the other Christmas essentials. All that was left was for me to bake so on the Sunday I made my shortcrust and puff pastries and on Christmas Eve I cooked the meats and did the baking.

Coleslaw and Sausage Rolls

Mince pies and Christmas cake

and set the table

Christmas table

When I went to bed that night, I was just drifting off when I suddenly remembered the kids’ stockings! ARGH! Stephen had gone to work and wouldn’t be home until midnight or after so I could put his on his bed and he’d find it when he came home. But Nel was still up and not likely to go to sleep until the wee small hours; what to do?! As I leapt out of bed Nel called out “Have you just remembered what I have?” and so I went in to her to discuss my dilemma. At no point did she deny that if I left her her stocking now, she’d immediately examine its contents πŸ˜‰ I suggested I placed it somewhere “just so” and she was to get a clock and take a photo to prove it hadn’t moved until after midnight, and she came up with the idea of hanging it on the hook under her clock, which also happens to be on the wall that backs on to my bedroom – so I’d hear her if she tried removing the clock to alter the time! For the final touch, I stapled the top of the stocking so she couldn’t try peeking without touching and we took a photo to show its exact position:

Nel’s Stocking!

She took another at midnight – though in fact Billy (who had spent all afternoon and evening in the pub) returned around midnight and vouched for the security of the stocking at that point πŸ˜€ I don’t know! You’d think when your children are adults, they can manage to wait for their stockings wouldn’t you? πŸ˜‰

The next morning I enjoyed some peace and space whilst everyone else slept and I prepared the veg etc before they emerged at 11 am. Nel sorted the presents and took her own upstairs to open alone (after her diagnosis of autism we started this last year and she was able to fully enjoy presents for the first time) and then everyone gathered in the living room to open our presents together – with Nel opening the cats and any family ones.

The cats enjoyed the wrapping paper pile in the middle of the floor πŸ™‚

As usual, we had some lovely and perfectly chosen presents, including these beautiful Christmas ornaments which a few of the secretaries at work had given me (so unexpectedly that I’d burst into tears when they presented me with them along with a couple of bottles of wine!)

Photobucket

After clearing up and making a couple of family phone calls, I continued to prepare dinner in a leisurely fashion, and it all came together nicely for a relaxed and enjoyable meal – with the usual naff crackers, lots of laughs and everyone enjoying the food (and drink!) After clearing up, Raji and I did the washing up and watched the Queen’s speech (unfortunately the main thing I noticed was that those poor Military Wives had been asked to sing in public a song they clearly didn’t know as they had to make up the tune to “In the bleak midwinter” as they went along! (Why, oh why do people feel the need to take a traditional song and mangle it dreadfully to a new tune? πŸ™ )

We then settled to an afternoon of playing The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game which we had been bought a couple of years ago and somehow overlooked. It was brilliant!

Nasty Horse Racing

By the time Billy won this (having kept a great poker face when Stephen was openly convinced he’d won πŸ˜€ ) we were flagging and settled in front of the TV for a short while before bed.

It had been a very relaxed and smooth running day and I really enjoyed spending the time with my family. We should definitely play games together more often and though they may all have started out just humouring me, I think everyone genuinely enjoyed it as much as I did πŸ™‚

This time last year – I laughed at Nel and her stocking!

Protected: End of the road stresses! (Blanket password)

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

November’s darts

On Friday 2nd November we had a cup game (the Greenwood Shield) against the Unionist Nomads, which should have been a home game but we had to swap venue so played away instead. The random order was: Junior; Paul; Billy; Graham; Me; Senior. The format was doubles and singles only with the winner being the first team to win 5, and we won: Junior & Paul’s and Mine & Senior’s doubles; Junior’s, Paul’s and my singles. So we won a cup game – that’s two cups we’re still in, and without any byes! πŸ˜‰

On the 9th we were away in the league at the Rose and Crown, Slayley. Random order was: Raji; Graham; Mark; Senior; Me; Paul. We won the first trebles comfortably with Graham hitting tops, nicely left by Raji, but I cost us the second trebles sadly. We lost all the doubles games unfortunately, and then we won Raji, Graham, Senior and Paul’s singles giving us a loss but with the consolation of another 6-5 margin. I played such a strong player that I knew he’d trounce me – and he did, though my darts were also rubbish, it has to be said!

We were back at the Unionist Nomads place again on the 16th – in the league this time and against a changed team (we obviously scared them last time so they brought out their stronger players this time πŸ˜‰ ) The random order was: Me; Graham; Paul; Billy; Junior; Senior. We won the first trebles and lost the second and then only won Junior & Senior’s doubles though could have nicked another. I came against another very strong player in my singles and once again knew I would be thrashed – though actually I threw well and made it a good game which was nice. In fact only Graham and Senior won their singles though again, we could have pinched another one or two, and over all we lost 7-4.

On the 23rd, you’ll never guess the venue! πŸ˜‰ Yep, the Unionist – but this time, the B team not the Nomads. Billy and weren’t playing as we were at his cricket dinner but once again, without me, the team had a very convincing win 2-9 πŸ˜€

Birthday girl

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t expect much as we don’t have any money.

Nel had already said she was going to draw me a picture as my present, but I certainly wasn’t expecting her to actually CREATE a character especially after me for her comic. She is called Angelena and she is the Goddess of Nature πŸ™‚

I just need to buy an A4 frame for her so she can go on my wall – might see if Nel will autograph it first πŸ™‚

Billy had also told me he couldn’t manage much, but then he and Raji astounded me by clubbing together to buy me something I wanted but didn’t expect to own for a few years – a Kindle! I was so surprised and pleased πŸ™‚ (So far I am resisting temptation, other than to download some books) and am finishing the actual book I am reading at the moment, but can’t wait to use my Kindle.) My colleague, K, gave me an Amazon voucher so I bought a couple of downloads with that too πŸ™‚

I wasn’t expecting anything from Stephen as he’s always skint and I’m just pleased if I get a “Happy Birthday” from him, but he did give me a present – a bottle of vodka πŸ™‚

Mum had already given me my new City shirt but she also gave me a bag of “silly little things” – I didn’t think they were silly (or little) but they were all very well chosen and I loved them – everything from fluffy socks to a pack of Costa coffee πŸ™‚

Two of my colleagues gave me a bottle of wine and the girls in the secretarial department gave me a card which they’d all signed which was another unexpected surprise. I received lots of lovely cards and was feeling loved. I had lots of birthday messages on Facebook too – my virtual cards πŸ™‚

I was working all day, as were Billy and Raji, but Stephen had managed to swap his evening shift so that we were all at home for tea – and we treated ourselves (by clubbing together) to takeaway courtesy of the chip shop. I don’t often get to have a family meal with everyone together so it was really nice, even though we did then all go our separate ways afterwards.

So I had a lovely birthday with more treats than I expected πŸ™‚

First win of the darts season: 3 – 8!

Just as the new football season has commenced, so too the darts season is back πŸ™‚ Claire and Simon have moved away, but the rest of us remain and Raji has joined us too.

Our first fixture was away to Wetherspoons – it’s a slightly strange place to play darts – with people eating and drinking around and the board set up in a corner. When we arrived we had to wait rather a long time for our hosts to sort out the playing order and indeed, who was playing for them. Our random order was: Billy; Graham; Me; Junior; Senior; Paul.

As the night wore on, our hosts became more and more inebriated (having already been on the way when we arrived) and at one point, one just went home, before the doubles and singles games, giving Senior a singles win by default and Senior and Paul an easy run in the doubles. My own opponent was evidently new to league darts as things had to be explained to him but that said – he could throw!

We won both trebles, though had to come from behind so they were jammy wins. There was one very good player in the other team and he was also sober and unfortunately Billy was drawn against him. Billy and Graham lost their doubles as did Junior and I – I was annoyed with myself because we could have won that had I been on target so I cost Junior the win. The only other game we lost, unsurprisingly, was Billy’s singles against the strongest player, but we won all the other games giving us a 3-8 win πŸ™‚

I was throwing reasonably well but I did almost blow my singles game, having been well ahead but then fluffing my finishing, however I did eventually hit the x4 to win. Phew! For all that this was a strange fixture, it was lovely to be back with my team-mates and Simon was up for a visit so he came along too which was great πŸ™‚

A nice little warm up! (Community Shield, Chelsea 2 – 3 City )

I planned my weekend so that I could sit and watch this match on Sunday evening, but I can’t say that I was excited about it or that bothered about winning it. It’s a glorified friendly when all is said and done (no matter how hard the commentators tried to convince us otherwise!) Billy and I had been hard at work taking old furniture to the tip before hand so we rewarded ourselves by stocking up the beer fridge courtesy of me having had to defrost the thing and Tesco having a special offer at the right time πŸ™‚ Football season and a wells stocked beer fridge go hand in hand πŸ™‚

The first half of the first half was pretty tentative stuff – as you’d expect really – no-one wants any injuries or trouble at this stage before the long season ahead. The second half of the first half, however, got rather “cynical” to put it politely – let’s just say it reminded me why I don’t like Chelsea! I was watching with Billy and Raji and we agreed it was a pretty dull match and then out of nowhere, and through some poor City defending, Chelsea scored almost at the break. We were 1-0 down. Ho hum. However, Chelsea then went down to 10 men when Ivanovic got a red for a reckless challenge. In real time Raji and I saw it as no more than a yellow though Billy felt it was indeed a red. Replays didn’t convince either way until we saw it from the ref’s angle and that changed my mind that it was the right call.

Having started watching the match 15 minutes late (thank goodness for Sky+)we fast forwarded (is there such a word?!) through the half time waffle and caught up to real time for the second half. It finally looked like both sides had decided to knuckle down and just play football and I enjoyed this half more. Two important other factors that helped us this half – Lucky Kitty appeared, having snoozed through the first half, and Raji-the-jinx disappeared πŸ˜‰

City scored three times in twelve minutes thanks to Yaya, Tevez and Nasri, and Aguero should have had one too. Chelsea managed a second with help from Pantilimon who fumbled, but it was neither here nor there really.

So, there it was, City had won (nice, but of no importance) and the match had achieved what I had hoped it would – I am now nicely warmed up for the real football. All aboard for the all new City roller-coaster ride 2012-13, hang on to your hats… πŸ™‚

MCFC’s match report here.
CFC’s match report here.

Cricket at the castle

Billy and Raji’s cricket team were playing a friendly away at Bamburgh last Sunday and I went along to watch (and to play chauffeur!) It was a bit of a drive, but a pleasant one and just look at this for a setting! πŸ™‚

I’d taken a picnic lunch, water, flasks, sun-cream, flip-flops, waterproofs, and picnic blanket so that I was prepared for any eventuality, and I had my laptop so that I could catch up on some blogging and a book in case I was bored. As it turned out, it was a windy but sunny day, with the occasional shower which quickly blew over, and I enjoyed watching the whole of the cricket match without getting bored.

The opposition team were a friendly lot and the game was good natured, with both teams allowing the other to continue playing the remaining balls after the last batman was out – though in the home team’s case theirs really were out whereas the away team had had a batsman retire to let the others get a game. The pitch was immaculate and very well kept so although it was a slow wicket, the visitors enjoyed playing on it.

I enjoyed chatting to our team when they were batting – as well as keeping an eye on how Billy and Raji in particular got on. (Billy was run out to his annoyance though he did OK beforehand, and Raji was the batsman who retired) When they were fielding after tea I followed closely, and was counting the runs at the end when it got to an exciting finish. Apart from the majestic backdrop at this ground, it was nice to see lots of casual spectators – people walking to/from the castle, beach and town and people bringing children and dogs for a walk/play in the park and stopping to watch a bit of cricket.

Leazes fielding with me watching from the pavilion (taken by coincidence by friends passing!):

It came down to a very exciting finish which gave Bamburgh the win though had it been a competitive rather than a friendly game, Leazes would have been the winners. No-one really cared though as it had all been about playing a game in a beautiful place. After the match a couple of the home team and a few of ours went for a drink together and it was agreed that it would be nice to play each other again sometime.

It was late when we got home and though I hadn’t done any blogging as I’d hoped, it had been a very pleasant day relaxing in the fresh air so I couldn’t complain.

Right-click and “reload” if slideshow doesn’t appear; mouseover to see photos, click to enlarge:

Washout!

Last weekend I visited mum for the first time in 6-weeks – a long overdue visit indeed! I planned to go down on Friday night after work and after Raji’s birthday tea and birthday cake (I made coffee and walnut cake as this was what his mum used to make for birthdays.) I did have slight pause however, as the weather sites gave an amber warning of flooding in mum’s area, with yellow warning through the Lakes area, but in the end I decided to set off and see how I got on, turning back if I felt it necessary. The drive through the “yellow warning” area was pretty difficult with strong winds, torrential rain and in some areas, flooding – but nothing I haven’t driven through before so I just slowed down, took it easy, and came through it. When I got to the “amber warning” zone the sun shone, there was no rain, and the roads were dry! So I arrived safely at mum’s. πŸ™‚

We did get some things done but the rain returned and we couldn’t sort out the garage as hoped so that’s still to do another day. We used our time constructively still, and we had our usual fun and laughs of course. We also enjoyed watched the Spain v France Euro2012 quarter final. It was a comfortable win for Spain and an enjoyable match to watch as we finished our dinner time wine πŸ™‚

I drove back in sunshine on dry roads – until I got 20 mins away from home when a monsoon hit! I did make it home in time to watch the England v Italy quarter-final though I could have done with it being settled in the 90+ instead of going to extra time and penalties! Italy deserved their win, it has to be said, and given the fact that I don’t think England has any world class players really we did better than expected in this competition. I did correctly predict who would score their penalties and who wouldn’t too. Finally I crawled off to bed to get my much needed sleep before the working week began again.

On the plus side, petrol has got slightly cheaper and was only Β£129.9 at mum’s so my weekend trip cost me less than expected and I invited Billy out for a very cheap tea after work on Tuesday. (He was playing cricket Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday according to the calendar so it was probably the only time I would see my husband all week!) However, Monday’s game was rained off and changed to Tuesday instead! πŸ™

Ironically Wednesday’s game was also a washout but we’d decided to have our date Thursday anyway so stuck to that, and watched the Spain v Portugal semi-final which was pretty much what you’d expect from a derby – both sides scared to lose so a cagey affair. This game also went to extra time and penalties but I couldn’t manage another late night so left them too it. In the morning I was utterly convinced I’d see a smug-faced Ronaldo all over the net, but to my delight Portugal had been beaten πŸ˜€ I don’t mind too much who wins now; I just didn’t want smug-face winning πŸ˜‰

On Thursday I worked hard all day and was looking forward to my date with Billy in the evening. We get so little quality time together and eating on our way home from work is one of the best ways for us to get it, and a rare treat these days. At 3pm a storm hit – a storm of biblical proportions, with the sky going black and torrential rain bouncing off the pavement and crashing back to form mini rivers. Staff all round the hospital were checking on whether they were likely to get home with floods affecting the roads and trains and people made appropriate arrangements to stay with colleagues/friends/family or even in the hospital, and others waited it out until much later in the evening before going home. There were a lot of sirens whizzing past and clearly the storm had caused considerable chaos.

Photos courtesy of Roger:
Hexham high street flood
Hexham flood
Flood in Hexham

Happily, by the time I finished the sun was out again and I met Billy as planned ready to relax for the evening with dinner then watching the football. We decided to go to the Heart which has been recently taken over by a lovely couple who are rebuilding its reputation as a good food pub. We received a friendly welcome and after debating which of the delicious options on the menu to choose went for the beef stottie with gravy – with some chips as a side order. All the food is freshly cooked to order so we sipped our drinks while we waited and were just starting to unwind nicely when Raji phoned Billy. He was stuck in Prudhoe after the floods! I was very surprised he’d even tried to come home as I assumed he’d have stayed over with a colleague. Billy spent most of our meal trying to find out what the situation was with trains, buses, roads etc. In between, the food was amazing – a generously filled stottie with melt-in-the-mouth beef, a little boat of gravy, 2 roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding – plus our home-made chips too! Gorgeous! We even gave in to temptation and had a home-made dessert each (raspberry cheesecake with Chantilly cream for me and warm sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream for Billy) Divine – 10/10! πŸ™‚

Throughout all of this, phone calls were going back and forth between Billy and Raji – he had walked to the next stop on the train route to find no trains there either and proceeded on to the next, hoping for a bus if not a train (obviously I’d had a drink so couldn’t drive, and as far as I knew the roads were impassable anyway.) To cut a very long story short, there were none and he ended up getting a taxi from there, arriving home at 10pm – thankfully just as I was going to bed so at least I could finally relax knowing he was home safely.

We did watch the Germany v Italy semi-final but unfortunately with only half an eye as we were both trying to find out how to get Raji home. Italy dominated the game and fully deserved to win – the two goals from Balotelli were outstanding! (Nothing was stopping that second from going in!) Now I don’t know whether to want Mario or Merlin to win the final – guess I’ll just be a neutral and enjoy it πŸ™‚

All in all then, this week was rather a washout – summer? What summer? πŸ™

Chronicle flood news
BBC flood news
ITV flood news

Patriotic Weekend

On Friday night I cheered on England in their second group game of Euro 2012 and like most of the country haven’t been confident of getting in to the knock-out stages so was watching more in hope than expectation. It has to be said that the team had already done well to draw against France, (a game I’d watched in the pub after work which was rather nice) but Sweden have been a bit of a bogey team recently and it wasn’t going to be an easy game. However, as it turned out, it was an entertaining enough game and even took me through some of the range of emotions that City do as we went 1-0 up, 1-1, 1-2 down, 2-2 and finally made it 3-2 πŸ™‚ We don’t have a particularly strong squad and I’d say no world class players as such, but they do seem to have some grit and team spirit to call upon which is all to the good. This results means only a draw is needed against Ukraine next game and we’d go through to the quarter-finals.

The Olympic Torch came to town on Saturday afternoon and though I confess I can’t excited about the Olympics, it seemed a shame not go and see it since it was on the doorstep, so Raji and I wandered up to town for a look. Although it was drizzly it was warm enough and no hardship to stand waiting with the others in the fair-sized crowd. We’d picked a spot where we could see the torch as it came round the bend by the hospital and were satisfied that we could see the road clearly. First a bemused looking cyclist appeared, cycling slowly along the route to ironic cheers πŸ˜‰ Eventually a radio station car appeared and a man hopped out, told us the torch was 4 minutes away, then he (and the car) turned round and went back the way they came – bizarre. A good ten minutes later some police cars and bikes came along – the lead car raising a laugh when the driver held out a cardboard replica of the torch πŸ˜€ In drabs and drabs we had more police, a couple of floats and finally another car with a sign on it telling us the torch was “just 6 minutes away” ! Hmmmm. AT LAST! It ARRIVED! THE TORCH WAS HERE! Apparently! Thanks to inconsiderate people in front with children on their shoulders, suddenly I couldn’t see a thing. πŸ™ I think it did catch a micro-second’s glimpse of the torch but I couldn’t even tell you who was carrying it at the time or to whom they handed it! Still…. for the record I was there πŸ™‚

When I returned I sat down to watch the Trooping of the Colour which I’d recorded earlier. This year it was the Coldstream Guards (dad’s regiment) trooping their colours which made it even more special for mum and I (we were exchanging texts about it even though Mum had seen it in the morning) I hummed along and foot-tapped to the marches (especially Figaro which is the slow march of the regiment and my favourite.) The coverage was somewhat extended with this being Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year – what an amazing lady she is – so I got to enjoy it all in full.It was wonderful πŸ™‚ I had a few tears, but thoroughly enjoyed it and felt very proud to feel a part of it all.

Proud to be patriotic? Me? Heck yes! πŸ™‚

%d bloggers like this: