Monday, 28 February 2011

Magpie Monday - Charity shop finds

This weeks Magpie Monday I have some more Kitchenalia to show you that I have found in charity shops.
First Photo is some lovely 1950's bakeware that I paid £1 each for. It was love at first sight...The vibrant blue flowers are gorgeous and instantly gained my attention. I've baked many cakes in them.

The second and third photo is a pair of Johnsons bros, pareek serving bowls from the 1930's. They are so pretty and in immaculate condition. I paid £1.50 each for these.

I mainly use them during BBQ's and fill them with potato salad and rice dishes.

Next is My tea, coffee & sugar pots. They are retro 80's made by Sadler and after a bit of research I discovered Boots the chemist used to sell them. I loved them as soon as I spotted them and was so chuffed to get them for £2 for the whole set.

A few weeks after buying the tea and coffee pots I spotted a matching Tea pot in another charity shop. I was so thrilled and when I saw it sitting all alone on a top shelf I thought my heart was about to burst. I paid £4 for it and Love, love, love it!

Pop over To Me and My shadow to see what lovely second hand treasures everyone else has found.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Day in London with the kids on a budget - Kensington Gardens

What you need:
Family & Friends railcard
£20 fare for 2 adults, 2 kids
£4 for kids to have an ice cream each
A Picnic & Drinks
Bag of monkey nuts (for the squirrels)
Flask of tea for Mum
Downloaded Park map from here
Its half term and we wanted a nice day out with the kids on a budget. We have a Family & friends railcard so we decided to go into London and visit Kensington Gardens. We only paid £20 for our rail ticket and that was for Me, Papa and two kids.

Every year we renew our railcard and we always shop around online for any voucher codes to get a discount before we pay. For this years renewal we got the card for £19.50 instead of the usual £26.

We got the tube to South Kensington and from there it is a ten minute walk along one road up to Kensington Gardens. As you walk you will pass The Natural History Museum, Science Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum that are all free entry.
As you approach Kensington Gardens you will see Hyde Park on the right so you have the choice of two very large parks. Decide which one you wish to visit and download a detailed map before you leave home as this will make your visit much easier and mean you can plan visiting all the parks attractions. We failed to do this so didn't get to see a few of the memorials that we would have like to have shown the kids like The Peter Pan statue, The Italian ornamental garden and The Diana memorial fountain.

The first monument you see as you enter the park is The Albert Memorial. This is Queen Victoria's memorial to her beloved Albert who she lost to Typhoid in 1861. It really is a breathtaking monument and a lovely place to sit upon its steps as you people watch, eat lunch and admire The Royal Albert Hall that sits directly opposite

After lunch we began walking through the park heading towards Kensington Palace, Our Granddaughter was hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen...All little girls want to see the Queen don't they. The first thing we noticed was how beautifully maintained the park is as several gardeners were working their magic.

We found the palace which you can pay to enter and even though admission is very reasonable have a look around we were on a budget trip out so took a walk around the palace gardens instead.

The Palace gardens are free to roam around and especially pretty (even in February) was the Sunken garden. I would love to visit this again during summer months as it is a really nice spot and I bet is gorgeous in full bloom.

The park itself was brimming with wildlife, lots of birds and squirrels. We spent a good couple of hours feeding the pigeons who are really tame and even took food from Papa's hand which thrilled the kids.

Everywhere you look there are squirrels so make sure you take a bag of monkey nuts as they will take these from the kids hands.

Walking around The palace orangery was tranquil. The immaculate gardens are delightful and if you fancy it you could pop inside and take afternoon tea between 3-5pm. However, I have been told its a bit pricey inside so probably not a good idea with the kids.

Dotted around the park is lots of interesting sculptures that the kids enjoyed exploring, especially this puppy bird table.

All the kids ranging in age from 5 up to 14 years loved the pretty walk through the park, even in winter the colourful crocus in bloom caught the children's eyes.

As you walk you approach The Princess Diana memorial playground there is a really old tree and as you look closer you will see it is inhabited by lots fairy folk.

I must say the Peter Pan Themed playground is out of this world and offers hours of fun for the kids. It is dominated by a giant pirate ship and surrounded by a children's wonderland with so much to explore. It is fully secure and during busy periods has a guard at the gate checking children are accompanied and lone adults are not allowed entry.

We struggled to get our five year old Granddaughter to leave as she made her way around underground tunnels, a sandy area, swings, slides and Teepee's.

There is also a little cafe at the playground quite reasonable for ice cream at £1.80 each although a cuppa was a bit overpriced at £2 go so take a flask of tea with you.
As we left the playground we walked towards the lake as we spotted Geese and swans. We fed them our left over sandwiches from our picnic.

All in all a Fab day out and we will be returning again in the summer. I definitely recommend you give it a visit

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Writing Workshop - I believe

Josies Writing Workshop this week is all about our beliefs and I knew straight away which prompt I was going to choose. Religion is such a personal topic and it raises a whole mixed bag of opinions. I hope I dont offend during this post. That is not my intention. My intention is to share my experience of religion and belief's.

2) How have your belief systems changed through your lifetime?
How do they compare to when you were a child? What new beliefs have you discovered?
What old ones have you let go of and why?

I had a great childhood, despite my parents splitting and Dad not being reliable with visits life at home was good. I lived in a lovely big house, was very well fed and clothed, I was surrounded by a massive extended family and was happy. I was raised a Mormon by my Mum and Stepfather, which most of the time was a fab experience. I had lots of church friends who I'm still in touch with now thanks to social media. Good friends who I share many fantastic memories with. Friends who I think the absolute world of. The Church has a second to none social life. The problem was I struggled to believe in its teachings.
I tried...I mean really tried. I was asked to pray for clarity, asking for Heavenly Father (God) to basically 'show me the light' but it never worked no matter how hard I prayed. I wanted to believe but it just didn't happen and because of this I often felt inferior to everyone else.
Mum was what I would describe as a decent and genuine Mormon living by her beliefs, she did her best to instill good values into her family. Mum taught me the importance of trust and honesty, she taught me the value of integrity, how to be a good friend and all about loyalty and respect. Mum was a Good Woman just as most Mormons that I know are. However just like in all religions there are a few hypocritical bigots and my Stepfather being one of them was a complete D***h**d.

He raised me for ten years and to be honest he wasn't around that much, most of the time he was either at work or doing something for the church be it home teaching, playing football or just doing churchy 'stuff'. He was rarely home but when he was I found him over bearing, aggressive, judgemental and would constantly spout religion at me. When I picture him now I see him sitting in the arm chair, his scriptures open on his lap, telling me how evil I was and that I was definitely going to 'hell' for wearing a skirt above my knee's.

Basically at age 14 this is what I thought of him and his crazy, messed up idea's and would often do the 'up yours' hand signal as he glanced down at his bible in between preaching sessions.

I decided pretty early on that I did not believe what the church taught to be true. I did not believe in God or church teachings. I did not believe in a heaven or hell and my conflicting beliefs with my stepfather caused me no end of trouble. He would make me feel like crap because I didn't wouldn't couldn't believe in God. I wanted to run away. I was sick of being bible bashed and having it rammed down my throat day in and day out. As I became a teenager I wanted to be free to follow my own beliefs which did not include going to church. I left home as early as I could.

I did return home when Papa and I were first married but by this point Stepfather was on his way out the door. Mum was tired of him and his abuse and was in the process of divorcing him. Mum also left the church that year and the atmosphere at home was completely different. Mum and I became best Friends that year.

So what do I believe if not in God...Everyone has some belief, Right?

I always swayed more towards paganism, mainly because its not rigid in its believe system. There are no real set rules and you don't have to attend a church to feel accepted in its community. Pagan's do not worship the devil or sacrifice their kids at burning alters like I was raised to understand. They are not sexual deviants or harm people or animals. They believe in Mother Nature, at being at one with the natural world. Pagans are a mixed bunch and their beliefs are diverse, some concentrate on certain Celtic traditions or Gods/goddesses, Wicca and ecology. They are generally Eco conscious and strive to minimise any harm to our natural environment. To me this 'sits' better in my brain, it makes more sense to me to worship our precious planet rather than a God.
I also believe in Evolution, I believe in Science, I believe in Love, I believe in positive energy, I believe in strength of character, I believe in good people, I believe Life is what we make it, I believe we all have the power within ourselves to be happy. When I'm having a rubbish day I believe there is always someone out there worse off. I believe in Myself and my right to believe in whatever I choose. I believe in Free will.
What do you believe?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Gallery - Expressions

When I saw this weeks theme for The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers two photo's immediately sprung to mind. I couldn't decide which one to use so I'm going with them both. In fact I have a whole family who love to pull all manner of expressions when being photographed and I have tons of funny facial photo's. I've started with The Queen of our Nan who is so full of character and makes me crack up laughing all the time. Here she is showing off her false teeth during a family lunch.

The second one is My Baby pulling a very perplexed expression. Another member of my family who is so funny and always pulling a face.

Grief for my Mum

It was my Beautiful Mum's birthday this week, she would have been 61 and she has been gone five years this year. The grief is less raw nowadays but it still hurts. I guess it always will, its just not as gut wrenching as it first was. I no longer feel panic stricken...I know I can actually survive and still breath without my Mother in my life. At first I felt like the umbilical cord had just been cut and I wasn't sure that I'd make it without her.
I realised I was hugely reliant on Mum unyet I always thought I was massively independent...In a lot of ways I was. I never relied on her for help with the kids, in fact regarding childcare it was always the other way around. Mum worked a lot and I always cared for my younger brothers and I mean always. Weekends and holidays the boys were with me and Papa. In fact we would joke that when Papa met me he took on four kids, My Brothers. I never resented that. I loved my brothers as if they were my own children, enjoying their company, especially as they got older becoming my best friends.
My relationship with Mum wasn't one sided though, far from it. Mum would help me out with little holidays, bits and bobs of shopping, was always there in a crisis or she would treat us to a nice meal out on bank holiday Mondays. Mum knew how to enjoy a day out.
But it wasn't those nice treats that I relied on, no it was Mum's advice. Mum always knew what to do and since she is gone I know that nobody on this earth loves me like my Mother did. Her advice and sometimes nagging was always for my benefit to help guide me into becoming a more happy and fulfilled adult. Mum learnt the hard way and she didn't want me to make the same mistakes in life that she had. Thank God I always listened to her, even when I tried not to. Mum was right, but sometimes we don't realise until we no longer have them in our lives.
So the Grief is less raw five years on but the longing to speak to her is as strong as ever. Just to pick up the phone for half an hour is all I'd wish for in my life. I still need her to OK things. I need to know if I handled things right. Would Mum approve?
Blogging has helped. At first just to pay tribute to her on special occasions and anniversary's but blogging has also helped me come to terms with certain situations Mum would have been guiding me with. I can turn to Blogesphere for a lot of advice. I read your stories of love, hope, grief and happiness and feel inspired and not so alone. You Empower me.
Happy Birthday Mum X

Monday, 21 February 2011

Magpie Monday - Charity Shop Finds

This week for Magpie Monday over at Me and My Shadow I have some good Charity shop finds.
The first item I'd like to show you is a dinner set I found last year. When I spotted it I nearly tripped over myself to get to it before anyone else. At a first glance I thought it was Denby but at closer inspection it was a company I had not heard of before, Sango. I knew it was very good quality though and would probably be expensive if purchased new.
"How much for the dinner set?" I shouted across the crowded Charity shop, too petrified to leave its side in case someone else nabbed it.
"A tenner!" The nice old lady behind the counter shouted back.
I couldn't pay quick enough.
When I arrived home I looked up Sango on the net and discovered its a popular US dinner set and nearly as expensive as Denby. A set like mine would have cost around £100 so I was thrilled with my bargain.

My next item is a 1970's Thermos flask. Don't ask me why but I love vintage flasks and when I spot one in good nick I go weak at the knees. This one was £1 and in brand new condition. I'm chuffed with it.

Another thing I'm collecting is vintage sheets and bedding ready for when I re-decorate my bedroom this year. I love bold 70's sheets and candlewick bedspreads and these little beauties were £2 for two Double sheets in immaculate condition and the candlewick bedspread is huge and was only £4.

So Pop along to Me and My Shadow and have a nose at all the other bargains

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Flashback Friday

I'm thrilled that someone came up with a Flashback Friday blog hop. Pop over to Cafe Bebe and check out her fab blog nd all the other entries.

This is me and My beautiful Mum back in 1971 on a beach in Devon...This is probally where my love of the coast began.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

Its my first time of joining in Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2, 3 over at Mummy From The Heart. I like the idea of thinking of things that have made us cheerful throughout the week...It encourages us to think positive and that cheers me up in itself.
1) Firstly as you all know we were lucky enough to have tickets to attend Justin Biebers movie premier at London's O2. I know I know I haven't stopped going on about it but I now have a serious case of Bieber Fever. It was an amazing day/evening. We got to meet a few stars, walk the red (purple) carpet and the girls got to be in the same room as The Bieber. Truly Grateful for the opportunity.

2) Secondly My Hens are laying again...Seven eggs in two days! It means the weather is warming up and spring is in the air. This makes me very happy.

3) Thirdly its half term! Yippee schools out! Which means we get to spend quality time with our precious Granddaughter. Can't wait to see her. This makes me ecstatic.

Check out some other reasons to be cheerful from the linky list below.
So what reasons do you have to be cheerful this week?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Justin Bieber Never Say Never Premier

Last night was the premier for Just Bieber's movie 'Never Say Never' at London's O2. We had tickets for the screening from Sky Rewards. Our two girls were beside themselves with excitement as we jumped on the tube into Greenwich. We arrived at the O2 nice and early and the first thing the girls asked were "Where's Bieber?"

Preparations were underway for the arrival of Bieber, the Purple runway carpet was being laid that would soon be comforting the toes of stars.

We had some fun while we waited

The Girls thoroughly enjoying the 'Smile booth' as they giggled while posing for the camera.

We bumped into the lovely Lisa Appleton and Mario Marconi from Big Brother 9.

And they really were very sweet and we were thrilled to meet them as they were our favourite contestants from that series.

Crowds of teenage girls, Mums and Dad's were beginning to build up outside as we spotted a few more stars like Akai Osei the 10 year dancer who won Sky1's show 'Got to Dance' in 2010 and Linda Robson From Birds of a Feather was standing right in front of us as we waited outside the O2's doors.

We waited patiently for Bieber to arrive and then the Girls discovered that we were to receive red carpet treatment (Or Purple in Biebers case) and walk the carpet with the stars and possibly bump into Justin himself.

The doors opened and as we were the first to enter the building all the teenage fans lining the carpet behind the barriers screamed as we entered flashing their thousands of camera's in our faces. It was surreal...they all thought we were famous, it was so funny and such an experience.

Then Bieber entered he building. The screams became deafening as he spoke to the TV crew.

I managed to zoom in and get a shot of him on the balcony.

We continued along the purple carpet as we made our way to Cineworld.

Our eldest Daughter then got asked to be interviewed by Sky's camera crew. They wanted to know about her experience of the premier and bless her she was so nervous but she did so well and was thrilled to be asked.

As we approached our seats Sky had popcorn and drinks waiting for us.
We sat down and enjoyed the movie.

And as we left, turned back and said "Until Next time Bieber"

We all had a fabulous time and were treated like V.I.P's by Sky. They really made us feel special.
Thanks Sky!


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