Monday, 24 December 2012

Blenheim Palace - 9th Dec 2012

Firstly apologises for being very slack on the blogging front over the last two months. Hopefully I will be able to catch you up on what has been going on!

On the 9th December I was given an early Christmas present; a day out at Blenheim Palace! My Dad had visited the Palace in the summer when he was on holiday up in Oxford and knew it was somewhere I would love to go. So when he found out they were doing a special Christmas decoration exhibition/festival, we had to go! The only slight problem is Blenheim Palace is a very long way from the South Coast so it meant a very early start and a very long day in order to make the most of it!

The weather leading up to the 9th had been terrible. Very windy, cold and wet. However on the Sunday we went to Blenheim Palace we were blessed with dry, winter sunshine weather. There was a short down pour of rain during the day, but immediately after the sun came out and gave us a beautiful rainbow over the Palace.

It was a fascinating place to visit. The history of the Spencer-Churchill families was really interesting and ranged across some very important periods of British history. It was also of course the birth place and childhood home of Winston Churchill. They currently have an exhibition about Churchill at the Palace which I have to confess I spent rather a long time looking at! It was so interesting and included lots of letters written by Winston from a young child, through to his life in the armed forces and even serving in the trenches during World War One (something I had not known!). There were also letters between him and his wife, as well as examples of the many books he wrote. It really was a brilliant exhibition and explained a lot about the man he became and the achievements he made. 

The Christmas decorations were also quite impressive. To carry on the festive feel there were also a brass band playing Christmas songs in the library and they were joined in the late afternoon by a local school choir. Very festive. 

Upstairs was a new audio visual tour, complete with moving dummies and time operated doors, that only opened when it was time for your part of the tour to go through. There were about 7 rooms to go through and they charted the history of the Palace from the first Duke being caught having an affair with the King's mistress Barbara Villiers, to the different eras at the Palace. The tour was led by the ghost of the first Duchesses lady's maid, who worked her way through the different time periods, using her own ignorance of the new technologies and changes to the Palace to ask the questions which allowed the other "characters" to tell their stories and explain how they fit into the history of the Palace. I don't usually like this sort of gimmicky history. It often feels like they are making an exhibition out of nothing and is more like a theme park that a heritage site. However I absolutely loved it! I thought it was really well done, and the idea of a ghost leading you through the history of the Palace was a very interesting concept which played well and captured the imagination. The dummies that moved were also very good, especially as a lot of them were looking into mirrors, you saw the back of the dummy moving, yet in the reflection you saw the human face of the actor playing that character. Very well done. Even tiny movements when the dummy wasn't talking which made it looked like it was breathing or shifting slightly where it stood were just brilliant touches. Really really really enjoyed this tour. Very informative and very enjoyable. 

It was a very enjoyable day and I would love to visit Blenheim Palace again in the future. It was really interesting and the Palace itself is stunning. I would highly recommend a visit to everyone! Its your national heritage. So it should be law that everyone must visit Blenheim Palace at least once in their life! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving; a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall now not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

By Laurence Binyon 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another way of taking away benefits!

Today I had the joy of going to my local Jobcentre to sign on. I hate signing on. Although some of the people who work there are very friendly, the system they have to work within creates an atmosphere that says your nothing. Your a waster. You are untrustworthy. Its bad enough that you have to jump through so many hoops just to get your pittance of JSA from them each fortnight, but now our useless Government or someone high up in charge of benefits has come up with a new way of penalising unemployed people.

As of next week the way you record your fortnightly job search is going to come under scrutiny and if you don't use the approved wording they will sanction your benefit for not doing your jobsearch correctly! By this they mean stop giving you your benefit because you are apparently not complying with the rules!! The JSA agreement states that you must provide evidence of your jobsearch every time you sign on. Now under this new ruling they can stop your benefit for up to 156 weeks (3 years!) if you do not use the correct wording on your jobsearch form. This is absolutely ridiculous! Here is an example: You can no longer state that you have looked on the internet and found no vacancies. You now have to say "checked but no vacancies". WHAT!!! I am sorry but even someone with a basic grasp of the English language can see this means the same thing. Yet if you put no vacancies you get sanctioned. If you write checked but no vacancies your fine! This ludicrous new ruling is being rolled out across the country at Jobcentres, each person being given two double side sheets of writing explaining these new rules. What a useful way to spend time and money!

According to these explanations if you don't use the correct wording this means your not doing your jobsearch correctly. Interestingly the examples they give do not show a single entry where no vacancies were found. So what do you put under the "what I will do next" column if there are no vacancies? Apparently saying you will keep looking or look again next week is now unacceptable. Excuse me???? Which idiot came up with this new rule! The explanation also states "repeatedly checking websites/papers that do not have vacancies cannot count as sufficient evidence for looking for work". Huh? So if we check a website one week and there are no suitable vacancies we shouldn't then check it the following week or the week after encase new vacancies have come up?? There is a flipping recession on, so there can be many weeks without any suitable jobs and then all of a sudden one week there will be one. If your not suppose to keep checking you would miss this job opportunity! Surely that would be bad job search! To add insult to injury, one of the websites you have to check regularly is the jobcentres job site. Its a mandatory requirement. However in the last 18 months there has not been a single suitable job for me. Under this new rule I should therefore stop checking it, however if I don't check it I am not abiding by the JSA agreement and my benefit could be sanctioned!!!!! What a contradiction!! Clearly this new rule and the explanation was written by a total idiot who has no idea of the reality of being unemployed in 2012!

In addition if you are told about a vacancy by your advisor but choose not to apply for it, you will now get sanctioned. If you refuse to attend yet another money wasting, pointless back to work course you will be penalised. If you leave a job or get sacked you are now penalised. If you are offered a job but do not take it and the Jobcentre decide this was a sufficient job offer you will be sanctioned. So basically if you exercise any of your rights to choose where you work, how much you earn, which jobs you apply for and how you lead your life you will lose your benefits. This is disgusting. It places far too much power in the hands of the Jobcentre and could potential force innocent people out of benefits and deeper into debt and poverty. How is this not treating unemployed people with disrespect? How is this not penalising people for being unemployed? From the information I was given today it just looks like a convenient loop hole for our poor excuse of a Government to reduce the benefits bill or the unemployment statistics by refusing to pay out money to people because they have worded their jobsearch evidence differently or do not wish to work in a job that they can't do!

I appreciate the welfare bill has grown astronomically in the last few years. However what did the Government expect would happen when they caused thousands of people to lose their jobs and didn't have the common sense to realise they needed to provide alternative employment for these people! They lose their jobs, and cannot find a job to go to so therefore they sign on for benefits and therefore that goes up. Its simple logic! Now to start penalising people and cutting benefits is not the answer. Surely these morons can understand if you want to get people off benefits provide decent jobs for them to go into where they can have some self-respect and earn enough money to live in a nice house, in a nice area where they can go out after dark without fear of being mugged, stabbed, raped or all of the above! Give them a sense of pride. Pride in themselves, pride in their home, their car and their work. Let them earn money which they can then spend on their house, car, children, holidays, leisure activities. Then all those places they spend their money will earn money and can afford to take on more staff. Then those staff will go out and spend their earnings and everyone will benefit. Taking away or finding new ways to sanction benefits is only taking away more from people, who already have very little.

People asked if after the Olympics that atmosphere of patriotism and pride in being British would last. Of course it wouldn't. The Olympics were like a holiday romance. Wonderful, enjoyable and exhilarating. But then the whole country had to come home, back to reality. Then just like a holiday romance it came to an end and we all had to remember how bad things still are, and how useless the Government is. The only way we can get that patriotism back is if individuals are given their self respect back. If they are given the chance to take pride in their lives. If they see a country to be proud off, instead of a country so up to its neck in the proverbial that it is drowning with the useless Government shovelling more on top!

So from now on I have to list every single website I look at for jobsearch, list every job I have investigated, every action I do for jobsearch and ensure I word it correctly and avoid saying there are no vacancies and I will keep looking. So as long as I there are no vacancies I will be fine! Oh dear..................!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Dissertation Saga Update!

I haven't mentioned by dissertation for a while, and with good reason! I have been working on it, but I have been besieged with set backs including health problems, job-seeking related issues, limited access to archives and a more general "my brain doesn't want to think" problems!! As a result I have lost approximately 2 months worth of working time. The completed dissertation was due in this week and as you can probably tell from the lack of fanfare, celebrations and general sense of relief, I didn't hand mine in.

Again there is a good reason for this; it ain't finished! Due to all the setbacks I am behind. Luckily my Course Leader and Mentor were both very understanding and have granted me a short extension. Its still tight on time, but far more realistic. On the downside it does mean that my dissertation will drift over into 2013 instead of being completed in 2012 as I had hoped. However this is a small chance it will be finished by December, but I am not going to kill myself and hand in something I am not happy with for the sake of a few weeks. After all at this point the only person it effects is me. I want a dissertation that I am pleased with and proud of. I am not going to rush it now and end up with something I will regret.

As a result I am still plodding along with research, reading, and writing, redrafting and stressing! However I am actually enjoying it again. For a while there I hated it and was so stressed it was affecting every part of my life. Now I have the extension, I can relax a bit and get back to enjoying it. I also produce better work when I am calm and relaxed so hopefully this is all for the good. A tense, anxious, stressed emotional me, was not a pretty sight and I think I annoyed all those around me constantly going on about it, and being edgy and snappy and tired!

However I am very lucky to have some very supportive friends. Even when certain people who should be supportive decide to be nasty and unhelpful, I can always rely on them. Special huge thanks to my bezzie mate, Mummy Mo, Lillibet and even though he is hundreds of miles away, Andy. I am sorry if I am boring you guys, but this is huge deal in my life and means a lot to me. Your support, understanding and patience means everything, thank you.

So now back to the dissertation grindstone.

Monday, 17 September 2012

L.A.D = Life After Dissertation

Okay, so this is a little bit premature. I am still technically writing my dissertation. In fact I am suppose to be writing it at this very moment but due to circumstances that seem to continue to conspire against me I am not. I am calling this a "study break". Sounds better than "feeling extremely rough, fed up, stressed, emotional and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel"- break. I thought it might help cheer me up and feel more positive to think about Life After Dissertation or L.A.D for short.

To be honest, as much as I have mostly enjoyed doing my MA and my dissertation, I am looking forward to handing the finished thing in and completing my MA. In particular I am looking forward to all the things I will be able to do. I thought I would share with you my L.A.D Top 10 To Do List;
1. Spend more quality time with friends without feeling guilty that I should really be working on my dissertation.
2. Reading for pleasure! I have an ever growing pile of books that I want to read which has been growing since I started my MA course. I am looking forward to being able to read for fun! To get lost in a book and not have to make notes and think about the meaning behind it. I can just enjoy it!
3. Reading history books for pleasure. Basically same as above. I will get to indulge my interest in other historical subjects as well as the First World War.
4. Doing craft. I am really looking forward to being creative again and making my cards. I find it so therapeutic. Its relaxing and simply enjoyable.
5. Getting a full nights sleep on a regular basis. No more stressful sleepless or broken sleep nights! Yay!
6. Learning new craft stuff. I am desperate to try out the embossing kit my Mum got me, including the heat embossing and stamping. I also want to get back to knitting my squares to make my patchwork blanket and my bezzie mate is planning to teach me to sew. ( Not sure if that is entirely wise, but I want to give it a go - never thought I would hear myself say that!).
7. Spending time chilling out without any feeling of guilt about what I could or should be doing. Just relaxing.
8. Focussing on fighting my eating disorder. For the last few weeks this has fallen to the way side and I doubt it will recover properly or get back on track until after I have handed in my dissertation. By tackling my eating, if I have success this will hopefully in turn help and improve other health and weight issues.
9. Big sort out of my bedroom. With everything that has gone on lately my bedroom has become a bit of a dumping ground for stuff and the housework in this room has been kept to the minimum. Lots of paperwork to sort out, put stuff away and do some dusting. (I hate dusting!).
10. Working on my new idea for a potential project. Not going to say anything yet as it might not come to anything but I am looking forward to giving it a go!

I am sure there are lots of other things that I am looking forward to or will have to do, I just can't think of them at this point. This list of 10 are what leap to mind.

Well that did make me feel a bit more positive and excited about the idea of Life After Dissertation. However I still need to finish writing the flipping thing so I guess for now it's back to the writing!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Yoda goes home

Following the Dog Show a few weeks ago another big happening occurred in the evening. My bezzie mate finally told her children the big secret she (and others) had been keeping from them. They were getting a PUPPY! Not just any puppy but the super cutey Yoda, the long haired chihuahua that they had got to know and love through Nat and who they had helped show in the Junior Handling at the Dog Show.

It was an exciting night although I think us adults were a bit cruel. Nat had always told the kids they would get to say goodbye to Yoda when he finally went to his new home. So Nat and her Mum Sandy brought Yoda and his Mum Maisie round to my friend's house so that the kids could say goodbye to Yoda. This made them very sad and they spent most of the time cuddling him and stroking him. Nat and Sandy were staying for dinner to "give the kids time with Yoda"! Perhaps we were a little bit cruel keeping up this pretence but it did make the surprise even better!

After dinner we all sat together in the front room taking turns to have a "last" cuddle with Yoda. Then a while later Nat made the announcement he was going to his  new home. The kids became even sadder and missed the crucial moment when Nat picked up Yoda and handed him to my friend saying "here you go Yoda this is your new Mummy". Instead they thought she was having one last hug before he went. Despite all us grinning adults starring at them they still didn't click and I had to point out that I didn't think they had got it or realised what had just happened. After a little bit more explanation and "Yoda IS in his new home already" they finally realised and their sad little faces changed into huge glowing smiles - although still slightly shocked! It was brilliant!

Despite being reassured the kids still didn't believe Yoda was really theirs and kept asking was it a dream or was Nat going to take him home when they went to bed because it was just a joke! Bless! It was a very joyful evening. Seeing the smiles on everyone's faces and pleasure at the reveal working better than any of us could have hoped was just fantastic. After the kids went to bed my friend finally got to have a proper cuddle with her new arrival as after all Yoda is technically her dog now. After a bit more chatter and another cup of tea it was time for us to leave and leave her with her new puppy for his first night in his new house. It was very much like leaving someone on their own for the first time with a new baby! LOL!

It had been a brilliant day and evening and the secret was finally out! I am sure Yoda will settle in quickly to his new home, especially as all the excitement from going to his new family and his first night in his new house was taken all in his stride, bless him!

Welcome to your new home Yoda!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Fun Dog Show at the Polegrove for "Jack's Dream"

August really is turning out to be a massively busy month.
A few days after my party a new friend of mine (Nat) had organised a Fun Dog Show at our local recreation ground - The Polegrove. The event was being held to raise money for a local charity, "Jack's Dream". So me and my bezzie mate and her kids went along to support Nat and the charity. Part of the event included a dog show with such classes as Cutest Puppy, Handsome Dog, Prettiest Bitch, Fancy Dress and Junior Handling. Nat shows her own dogs and regularly goes to local dog shows (and often wins) with her lovely long haired chihuahua Maisie and Chihuahua-Pug cross Pippi, so she is very experienced. Her dog Maisie also had puppies this year and two of those were still with Nat - the fabulous Shelby and the super cute Yoda.

The Fabulous Shelby
As Nat was the judge she couldn't enter her own dogs in the show encase anyone accused her of being biased. So instead my bezzie mate's kids and Nat's younger sister showed Maisie and the Pups in the Junior Handling class. This was allowed even though Nat was judging as the class looks at the kid handling the dog not the dog itself. The kids did very well and Nat praised them highly for their technique and focus. Sadly they didn't get placed in the top 6 but they did receive a rosette for taking part which said "Well Done" on it and each dog was given a packet of healthy treats. The kids enjoyed themselves and have already asked Nat if they could help show the dogs at future dog shows. I think its a great thing for kids to be involved with and the dogs seem to enjoy themselves too!

It was a really enjoyable day, the sun shone, it was lovely and warm and I spent most of the day dog spotting usually followed by "oos" and "awwws!". In fact as I commented on the day you could have easily completed an I Spy book of Dogs just from that show. There were so many different breeds and some gorgeous puppies. As we were sat under the judges gazebo where the sign up stall was for each class it also meant I got to get my fair share of cuddles and fuss from the dogs entering the classes!

The Super Cutey Yoda
Later in the afternoon we were also joined by another friend Cheryl and her kids as well as the lovely Archie - a shitzu and westie cross they were looking after. The kids were taken to the new adventure playground to burn off some energy while us adults sensibly sat in the shade with Archie and had a chat.

Archie is a lovely dog and it was nice to be around a Westie again. It reminded me of my lovely Dougal and how scatty and daft that breed can be!

The Dog Show was great fun although it did make me wish I still had a dog and reminded me how much I miss having a dog. However as I live in a flat its not really the ideal home for a dog plus I can barely afford to cover my own bills let alone the cost of a dog. However one day when I am living in a nice house and I have a good job I will get another Westie!

The Fun Day and Dog Show raised over £1,200 for "Jack's Dream" charity which was fantastic. Well done to everyone who worked so hard to put on the event.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

My 30th Birthday Party Barbecue

The last two weeks have been extremely busy so I haven't really had a chance to update my blog and there has been a lot going on. First off was my birthday. I had a brilliant day with my Dad. We went shopping in all my favourite shops, I got a super cool new smartphone as my present from my Dad and we had lunch and dinner out. It was a very long tiring day but also a lot of fun and great to spend it with my Dad.

Then a few days later on the Sunday (12th) my bezzie mate threw me a 30th birthday party and barbecue at her new house. It was a lovely day and an extreme amount of work went into organising it and on the day itself. I am incredibly grateful. This gesture and the day itself meant so much to me that I honestly couldn't put what it means into words. It was excellent. I wouldn't have had a party otherwise so I am so very grateful for all she and her lovely Mum did. I also should mention the others that helped make the party happen - thank you, I am so touched!
Thankfully the day was nice and sunny - perfect for a barbecue. If anything it was a little too hot and we wouldn't have minded if it had been a bit cooler when we were setting up. Sadly not everyone who was invited was able to make it. A few friends had health and family issues which meant they couldn't come, while another had had his 30th birthday barbecue the day before and was still spending time with family. My Mum also couldn't make it due to health reasons and because of the distance she would have to travel. I was really disappointed as I would have loved my Mum to be there.

However all the people that did come to the party were important people to me and people I wanted to spend time with! My Dad and my Uncle Boy (and Ann) came along and stayed much longer and later than expected. I was also surrounded by great friends and four very cute dogs. They all made the day perfect.

The day was also filled with surprises!! Firstly was my fabulous birthday cake. I had spoken to my bezzie friend about the cake I would love to have if I could afford to get one made. It would be lilac with darker purple spots and a model of a Westie dog on top. However due to a lack of funds I had dropped the idea of a made to order cake and was going to chose an off the shelf one from a supermarket. A few days before the party my friend told me she had been to the local supermarket and picked one up. She then said I shouldn't have to choose my own birthday cake. I believed her 100% and crossed it off the shopping list. At my party it turned out this was a big fib! Instead she had had a cake made for me in the design I had said. I was so touched and the surprise was lovely! I totally did not expect it!

A short while after the cake reveal I was summons to the lower garden gazebo and there was a table set up with a pile of cards and a pile of presents! I was so surprised! Again I had not expected anything. After I opened the lovely cards I started on the presents. They were lovely presents including a DVD, stationery, book tokens and smellies. There was also a very large present which I left till last. It was from my bezzie mate, her mum, her Nana and her kids. When I opened it, I found this beautiful trunk/storage bog with a gold map design on it. It was stunning. I was speechless. Then I was told to open it up. Inside the box was a huge pile of presents! I was whatever comes after speechless! They told me I had 30 presents for my 30th birthday including the box, the cake and party. After telling them they had been very naughty doing this I started opening the presents inside the box. They were numbered and I had to open them in order. As I had trouble seeing the numbers and finding them in order my friend's daughter helped me out. They were fabulous gifts. I even got presents with 30 on such as a mug and a keyring. It was really lovely and a real surprise!!

After the yummy barbecue food had been eaten and it had started to get dark and the fairy lights had been switched on and the candles lit we decided to head inside. After cutting my birthday cake, we then got down to the serious business of karaoke! Yes, my 30th birthday party saw me doing karaoke for the second time in my life! It was brilliant fun and a real laugh. The alcohol certainly helped!! Everybody had a go at singing even Peter who could hardly see the words on the screen without his glasses, joined in and gave a great performance of "Imagine"! As I was the Birthday Girl I was given the "honour" of kicking the singing off! Luckily my fab friend Cat agreed to sing with me and together we had a go at "Don't Stop Believing". I was very grateful as she can actually sing which helped mask my less than in tune attempts! Throughout the evening I also badly did Atomic Kitten's version of "The Tide is High" (again with the lovely Cat) and my bezzie mate and I did "Can't Fight this Feeling Anymore" in honour of "Rock of Ages" the last film we saw together at the cinema.

The evening also saw a second round of food including home made potato skins, samosas and cheese and biscuits. The drink likewise continued to flow well into the evening.

It was a really really fabulous day and evening. I had a brilliant time and I am extremely grateful to everyone who contributed to it. They made it fabulous.

I will remember turning 30 with very fond memories.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Turning 30!

Today is my 30th Birthday.
30 years ago today at 1.15am in the morning I joined this world. It was a Sunday and my Mum had been in labour for two days. In fact in the early stages of labour on the Friday after her waters broke she wanted to go out with my Dad to get some dinner instead or going to the hospital as she knew the labour was going to take a while! Eventually I did arrive, and actually 2 weeks earlier than expected.

This is one of the earliest photos taken of me. My Mum is holding me and by the looks of the sofa she is at home which means I am about 2 weeks old as back in those days new mum's were kept in hospital for a couple of weeks after having a baby. I do have a few photos of me in hospital with my Mum and Dad but none of us look very good and I don't think they would thank me for sharing them!

For the first 7 years of my life I grew up in a normal 1980s household with my Mum and Dad. They owned a few curtain shops around Essex and spent a lot of time making them work. I can't remember many of my birthdays from then, although I know I had a Wimpy birthday party when I was about 4 or 5 and a party in a hall with a magician and a disco when I was about 5 or 6. I don't really remember them but I have seen the photos and heard the stories.

Then about 2 months before my 7th Birthday my parents divorced. I cannot remember my 7th birthday at all. For my 8th birthday I remember I had a McDonalds party which included for some strange reason getting to run into the big freezer they used to store the food in and getting a tour of the kitchens. Nope, I don't know why either! This was the last birthday party I had. Future birthdays were spent going out to places, visiting relatives and a few depressing times going fishing. I spent my birthday's alternating between my Mum and Dad, so parties were never really possible. Plus money was not exactly flooding in and parties cost money!

When I was 13 I was taken out for a meal, like a proper grown up birthday celebration! It was with my Dad, Ann and my lovely Aunt Gina. Our table had loads of balloons on it and after dinner they brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday. It was a really lovely occasion. I don't remember my other teenage birthdays. I know that I didn't have a party for either my 16th or my 18th. In fact I think I ended up going bowling with a few friends and family for both of these! My birthdays were always celebrated just not with a "do".

One of the biggest problems with celebrating my birthday is that it falls right in the middle of summer. It was always difficult to organise anything with people going on holidays, invites needing to go out in July before the end of school, etc etc. When I went off to uni I had similar problems as everybody went home from June until the start of the next academic year at the end of September. When we lived in houses a few friends did come back for my birthday and we would go out for drinks.

When I was 21 I did have a party, well a barbecue at our house anyway! I shared my 21st with my close friend Andy who was also turning 21. Our birthdays are 8 days apart so we picked the weekend in between the two to celebrate. We had a great day and laughed a lot. Needless to say I can't remember much of that one either but that was for entirely different reasons!! Hahaha!

Since then I have had my "birthday outings" which as I mentioned in a previous post, were a special day out to do something different on my birthday to make it different from all the other day's of the year. Previous outings have included Hampton Court Palace, Dover Castle and Canterbury. I have some fantastic memories from these days and also got to tick things off my ever growing to do list!

So how will I be celebrating my 30th? Well today I am having my usual "outing" although its not a big deal as it usually is due to circumstances. Instead the emphasis is on spending the day with my Dad and enjoying some father-daughter quality time. We are going out shopping (he is getting me a new mobile phone for my birthday as my one is so old it is powered by coal!) and we are going to have lunch out. Then in the evening he is cooking me one of my favourite meals. My Mum has also sent me a very large parcel which I will be opening later! I wonder what it can be!

My birthday celebrations do not end there. On Sunday my bezzie mate is throwing me a birthday party and barbecue at her new house. We have got decorations, balloons, gazebos, music, fairy lights, even games and karaoke! Plus of course food and drink! I am really looking forward to Sunday as I really wanted a party and didn't think I was going to be able to have one, so its a wonderful gesture. I am so grateful to her for doing this.

If these celebrations were not enough a week later I am meeting up with my close friend Andy who is back visiting from Singapore and we are carrying on the tradition of celebrating our birthday's together as he too of course will be turning 30 in a few days time! So really I am going to have something like 3 birthday celebrations for my 30th! Perhaps that is one for each decade! Teehee!

I am sure I will have plenty of photos and lots to tell you about my celebrations which I will try to put on my blog as soon as possible.

So for now, I am off to enjoy turning 30!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

30 Birthday Facts about Me!

I saw something similar to this on another blog and thought I would use it myself! The basic idea is to celebrate a landmark birthday by putting a list of facts about yourself on your blog. (The number of facts should be the same amount as the age you are for the landmark birthday so 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, 50, 70 etc). You then challenge your friends and followers to write the same amount of facts about themselves to celebrate your birthday. This month I will be celebrating my 30th Birthday. I am kicking off my birthday celebrations by taking up the birthday facts challenge while challenging my friends to write 30 facts about themselves (ideally not facts they have already shared on their blogs!).
So lets have a go. Here are my 30 facts:

My 30 facts:
1. I am not a morning person. I much prefer late mornings and late nights. Its when I am more awake and my brain more active.
2. I don't like coffee.
3. I prefer to drink cold drinks. I usually only have one cup of tea a day which is in the morning with breakfast. I only have more than this if I am feeling ill, have a sore throat or its been a particularly cold day.
4. I can't wear high heels. I am far too clumsy and always fall over if I try to wear them. I also have quite wide feet which makes finding high heels that fit properly difficult. However the wide feet are a result of being quite tall so I don't really need to wear high heels luckily!
5. I hate gold jewellery. If I wear any jewellery it has to be silver or if I wanted something really posh and had won the lottery something in platinum!
6. My favourite gem stone is amethyst. I hate Peridot which is my actual birthstone. I just don't like the green colour!
7. My favourite colours are red and purple.
8. I am allergic to most flowers so as a result I am not a fan of flowers whether in the garden or in a bunch! However there is one exception which is dark red roses. For some reason these don't set off my allergies and I think they are absolutely beautiful.
9. As you already know from the name of my blog I LOVE stationery. It can be nice pens, beautiful hardback notebooks with good quality paper, folders, writing sets, anything really!
10. I have an appalling dreadful immune system made worse by my anaemia and eating issues. If there is a bug going around or someone has a bit of a sniffle you can bet that I will catch it and have the flipping thing for at least a week if not longer! This is very annoying and frustrating.
11. I have a phobia of bugs and spiders. I have got slightly better as I have got older but there are some things that I really can't stand. Mainly moths, bees, wasps, daddy long legs, slugs and snails. Spiders are a given!
12. I am allergic to cat fur. I do like cats but I can't even stroke one without being poorly so I tend to avoid them as they always seem to take a shine to me! Its as if they know I can't stroke them! As a result I am more of a dog person. I love doggies!
13. I love craft stuff and being creative. I think this is an extension of the stationery passion. I love all the different colours of felt tip pens, inks, colouring pencils, paints, papers, cards, even fabrics and wools! I really enjoy making cards and getting creative and I use to draw and paint quite a lot although haven't done this for a while.
14. I love books. I love reading and getting lost in a book and I also love researching from books. I am one of those nutters that believe books have souls and they are sacred things! Books rule!
15. I love history. I have covered this on this blog before.
16. I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the lights, buying presents, wrapping the presents, giving presents, the festive cheer, spending time with people who matter etc etc. At uni I was lucky enough to find someone else who got very excited about Christmas and he and I would always put the Christmas decorations up as soon as the 1st December came round! I think our other house mates thought we were a bit strange though.
17. I have a thing about Birthdays. I have always believed that someone's birthday is a very special day and it should be made special both my themselves and by those that care about them. I always try to make my birthday different to the rest of the year by doing something different and making an effort. About 8 years ago I started my "birthday outing" and each year I have gone somewhere for my birthday. A day out. Previous birthday days out have included Hampton Court Palace, Dover Castle and Howletts. All special days with special memories. I have encouraged other friends to do this too. When you become an adult birthdays often get forgotten or lose their importance and this is a shame. By doing something different on the day, keeps birthdays special. I also try to do this for friends and families for their birthday's too. Whatever people say they all like to be made to feel special and to be thought about now and then!
18. I like cheesy music. I am a big fan of certain boybands such as Take That, Boyzone and Westlife (although I don't like any of the new boybands. My music tastes do seem to have grown up a bit at last!). I love pop music from all eras and believe music should make you smile and want to move and dance. Cheesy love songs and pop music does this!
19. I also like more grown up Music! Current favourites include The Script, Pink, Bryan Adams, and Bon Jovi.
20. I am right handed.
21. I was born in Harlow in Essex, so yes technically I am an Essex Girl!
22. My favourite breed of dog is a Westie. I once was lucky enough to have a Westie as a pet called Dougal. He was absolutely gorgeous and I miss him lots.
23. I would really love to be a published writer one day. At one point I wanted this to be in writing fiction but more recently I would be very happy to be a publishing historian. We all need dreams!
24. I have an issue with charity shops. There is something about the smell of them. It just puts me off and everything and anything that is bought from a charity shops has that distinct smell. Yuck.
25. I love fresh crusty white bread. Its a very big weakness of mine. I could just sit and eat it and eat it with or without butter. Gorgeous!
26. I was a Brownie. However I never went on to the Girl Guides. I sort of lost interest in the whole thing by the time I left the Brownies. Plus Guides would have clashed with the other clubs I did after school such as dance, swimming and horse riding.
27. I didn't learn to drive until I was in my mid 20s. I passed my test first time when I was 27.
28. I have never been in an aeroplane.
29. I am not a fan of horror movies. I just don't see the point of these films and find them boring. I do like supernatural and sci-fi films and television shows just not horror.
30. I am a brunette and have never had any desires to be a blonde. However I have dyed my hair red and purple in the past!

Wow! That was extremely difficult! Trying to write 30 facts about yourself is not easy and took me quite a while to come up with them all! Anyway, there they are. Now I open up the challenge to my friends. Don't forget to let me know when you've done it so I can have a look at your facts and learn a bit more about you!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Olympic Torch came to Bexhill!

On Tuesday Bexhill welcomed the Olympic Torch on the 60th day of the Torch relay around the country. Despite horrible weather weeks and days before, Tuesday was dry, warmish and most of the day was sunny. It was also very windy but we cannot expect miracles, as this is Britain after all!

The Museum had a Torch Cafe event going on in the Education Room from 2pm-7pm organised by my bezzie mate There was also a showing of a local oral history film at 4pm which featured interviews and photos with local people involved in sport. This film was part of the Museum's big exhibition for this year on Bexhill Sporting Heritage. The cafe was extremely successful and there were not many cakes and savouries left by the end and more importantly a decent amount of money in the donations box!

At 5.08pm we were told the Torch had arrived in Bexhill at Little Common following its journey from Eastbourne. As we wanted the volunteers to see the Torch go past as well as all our visitors the cafe was going to be shut for a short while when the Torch passed by. However in the end it was kept open by some willing helpers! The Torch was due to go along West Parade and pass by the Clock Tower at approximately 5.25pm. This was perfect for the Museum as it is situated just behind it so was very close by for getting a decent spot to watch the Torch go by without having to queue for hours! We gathered the various people and children together and went and took our spot next to the Clock Tower. This turned out to be a perfect spot to stand and provided an ideal place to watch everything.

Firstly we watched some guys on stilts who were doing jumps and various tricks as well as giving out Lloyds TSB streamers to kids (and some adults!) to wave. Lloyds is one of the official sponsors of the relay. This was then followed by a coach which stopped in front of where we were standing and out came one of the Torch bearers with her Torch in hand! She came and stood where we were standing and began to pose for photos. It turns out she was waiting for the flame to be passed to her so we were actually going to see the change over happening in front of us! While the coach doors were open we also saw the next Torch Bearer waiting to be dropped off who just happened to be Eddie Izzard who is our Museum Patron so that was very exciting and we got a wave from him! The coach then moved off. The poor woman with the Torch started to get a bit swamped by people trying to pose with her for photos and trying to touch the Torch!. She was very good about it all and happily posed for photos with the kids and let them touch the bottom of the Torch.

Then it was time for more official sponsors to parade past, so cue a huge lorry with Samsung emblazoned on it and a huge TV screen on the side blaring out some noisy film or advert. The kids were not impressed and a friend's son even commented it would be better if the screen was playing something decent like Dr Who! I have to agree that would have been very cool! Next was another huge lorry from Coca Cola that had a live band on it and an annoyingly positive person with a microphone who was getting the crowd to cheer things etc. They were also giving out Coca Cola drums to the kids which went down well. Kids do like something to make a noise with! Although confession time I did find myself holding one at one point and couldn't resist making some noise with it, which I think proves what a kid I am! As well as this parade there were also lots of police offers on bikes and in cars who were joining in with the spirit of the day while keeping some order!

Finally the crowd started to get very excited as the Torch had turned the corner onto West Parade and was making its way along to the next Torch Bearer. The atmosphere was fantastic and impossible not to get swept up in it. As predicted the guy stopped in front of us and started to transfer the flame to the next Torch Bearer's torch. This has been called "kissing" by the media so we got to see the Torch kiss! Then when the flame had been passed on the new Torch Bearer raised it proudly into the air receiving almighty cheers from the crowd. After a brief photo pose she was off jogging to the next Torch Bearer who just happened to be Eddie Izzard who had the honour of taking the Torch past the De La Warr Pavilion. Meanwhile the other Torch Bearer was picked up by another coach who was bringing up the rear of the parade.

It was a fantastic experience and I am really pleased I made the effort to go and see it as it really is a historic occasion. It is very unlikely that the Olympics will be in London again in my lifetime and even if it is there is no guarantee the Torch relay will come to Bexhill again. The atmosphere was really buzzing and it was great to share it with friends as well. Superb day!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Hobbycraft, Puppies and Karaoke

While trying to carry on with the ongoing saga that my dissertation is quickly becoming, this week has had some lighter, more enjoyable points!
On Thursday I had a girls day out with my bezzie mate and her aunt. We went to Hobbycraft in Pembury near Tunbridge Wells. We are all crafters so Hobbycraft holds a certain amount of appeal and excitement. I have never been able to go round this shop in under two hours and Thursday was no exception! Sometime after two hours we were finally ready to go to the tills and see what the damage was going to be for feeding our craft habit or indulgences! But lets not dwell on that bit!! My bezzie mate was looking for wool, fabric and quilting stuff, her aunt who is currently visiting from Saudi was looking for scrapbooking stuff to take back with her, and I was looking for card and papercraft stuff mainly indulging in some more decoupage collections. It was immense fun looking at all the lovely stuff, and the all the wonderful colours, patterns and textures of papers, fabrics, wools, ribbons, paints,...............! We also managed to find some party bits for my 30th celebrations.

After we had fed our craft habit, it was time to feed ourselves with a very naughty and unhealthy lunch, but hey it was a day out! Then as we still had some time to spare before we needed to leave we had a look in some other shops; Home Sense and Staples. Home Sense is a gorgeous shop and very reasonably priced. We didn't even scratch the surface of what was in this shop and didn't finish the ground floor let alone go upstairs! Perhaps another time we can go when we have more time and ideally more money to spend - and in my case my own place to put some of these wonderful things. Not too sure my Dad would appreciate me bringing even more stuff into the flat and adding candles and photo frames to an already full home! They had really interesting and unique photo frames, gorgeous vases, beautiful candle holders and some beautiful hard backed note books. Oh yes, they do a posh stationery range which was luckily all reduced! So as you may have guessed as my name suggests I started cooing at the various books and eventually bought two very gorgeous hardback notebooks with thick lovely paper inside. I just can't resist these sorts of things so I am very grateful they were reduced and actually quite cheap! We then went into another of my favourite shops, Staples! (Sad I know, but its a huge stationery shop, what do you expect!). However unusually I didn't spend loads in here even though there were some lovely things, which was lucky as my budget for the day had already been exceeded. All I bought was two nice purple ink pens that were on a special offer of 2 for £3. My friend's aunt however spent slightly more treating herself to a very flash new filofax diary.

With our purses empty we headed for home in my friend's lovely new car. After dropping of her aunt we then went to another of her friend's homes to pick her up and get a cuddle with some very gorgeous little puppies! I have seen the puppies a few times now since they were born and they are just gorgeous. They are long haired chihuahuas. I am not normally a fan of this breed preferring Westies, terriers and the like. However as these are long haired they look nothing like my idea of a chihuahua and are just extremely cute balls of fluff. Their mother Maisie is also a very friendly little dog and there is another chihuahua which is crossed with a Pug called Pippi who is adorable. When I first went to see the puppies as soon as I sat down I had the two adult dogs Maisie and Pippi on my lap looking for a fuss and a cuddle before I had even seen the pups! There are 5 puppies; Pandora, Lestat, and Luna who are all white, and then Shelby who is black and brown (and one of my favourites) and then last but not least the little rascal himself Yoda who is a light brown almost creamy colour with brown tufty ears.  He is my favourite by far. He has the sweetest face and is such a little rascal which makes him very loveable. There was a sixth puppy called Ice however sadly he is now in doggy heaven due to health problems. The puppies are gorgeous and very friendly and seem to love being cuddled and fussed over. I managed to get a cuddle with all 5 before it was nice to leave. We also watched them playing with their Mum Maisie in the back garden. It was lovely to see. It was a lovely end to a fabulous day.

On Friday night it was Karaoke night! Another friend (Kim) who I know through my bezzie mate has this fantastic karaoke machine with 1000s of songs on and had arranged an evening of it at her house. My bezzie mate was going with her two children and I was invited as well. Now normally this is really not my sort of thing. I have never done Karaoke before for good reason. I can't sing. I sound dreadful, and the idea of having this magnified by a microphone and in front of other people fills me with dread. In the past whenever I have been somewhere where there is Karaoke I have usually just sat and watched. However as I was amongst friends and in the safety of  Kim's house I pushed myself to have a go. I am glad I did as after getting over the nerves and embarrassment of the first song I did start to enjoy it and have fun. Now please don't think for a second that when I sang the first song I suddenly discovered my voice wasn't that bad and enjoyed it for that reason. Quite the opposite in fact! It confirmed how terrible and out of tune my singing is! But with the kids having a go as well and some fun songs to sing it was quite a laugh, and fun to try and beat your previous score each time! By the end of the evening I was belting out the karaoke classic I Will Survive loudly, proudly and badly! Immense fun! It's such a shame Kim is moving away in a few weeks time as it would have been great to do this again.

Karaoke was not on the list of things I wanted to do and was trying to do for my 30th year but I am pleased to say I have had a go at karaoke! It's great fun and as long as you don't take it too seriously you can have a laugh with it!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Rock of Ages - The Movie

Yesterday evening my bezzie mate and I had a girlie night out at the cinema. We went to see Rock of Ages, the movie version of the stage musical starring Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Mary. J. Blige, Catherine Zeta Jones, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and many more. There were also lots of cameos from 1980s music acts.

It was a fantastic film! Yes the storyline was some what predictable, but in a good way. By the end of the film everything that you wanted to happen had happened. The various couples had got it together, the bad guy had got his comeuppance, and the up-tight Mayor's wife had given in to her youthful passion for Rock Music!

Encase you are wondering about the storyline its about a small town girl called Sherrie who moves to LA to become a singer. On the way she gets mugged by a guy who steals her precious record collection and then gets comforted by Drew another wannabe singer who happens to work at the legendary Bourbon Rooms - a rock music club. Quickly she is offered a job as a waitress by club owner Alec Baldwin, who really has other things on his mind as the club is facing financial ruin unless he can make enough money at the upcoming farewell gig of the legendary Stacee Jaxx and his rock band Arsenal played superbly by Tom Cruise. On the other side of Town the newly elected Mayor's wife played by Catherine Zeta Jones is rallying her troop of mothers and religious groups to campaign to shut down the Bourbon Rooms which is seen as the root of all evil, corrupting the youngsters of 1987 America with rock music!

Sherrie and Drew promptly fall in love and on the night of the Arsenal gig Drew and his band get the chance to open the show after the original booked act drops out. Drew is spotted by Stacee Jaxx's manager and is offered fame over the love he has for Sherrie. Due to a misunderstanding Drew believes his beloved Sherrie has had sex with Stacee Jaxx in his dressing room and promptly agrees to become the next big thing and quits his job at the Club after splitting up with Sherrie. She also quits the club and in desperation and heartache she starts to work as a waitress in a pole dancing strip club owned by Mary. J/.Blige's character. It isn't long before Sherrie becomes a stripper herself and begins to lose her idealistic views of the world. Meanwhile Drew has his image dramatically changed by his new manager, and instead of becoming the next rock star, gets manufactured into the new kind of music star  - a typical 1980s rap/pop music boy band!

While this is going on we also meet the amazing Stacee Jaxx himself. He is a washed up rock star who is admired by millions, yet is lost in drugs, drink and sex with random women and surrounded by "yes men". He is also looking for the perfect song. His manager is using him to make a fortune and steals all the takings from the gig at the Bourbon Club saying it is Stacee's cut although Stacee doesn't even know this is happening. When he comes to the Bourbon to perform his final gig he meets an attractive interviewer from Rolling Stone Magazine who refuses to take any of his rock star rubbish and tells him a few home truths including how his manager is taking him for a ride. Her words penetrate his ego and he starts to fall in love with her. She in turns begins to fall for him, but leaves, and leaves Stacee feeling very confused as he has never felt love before. Later in the film the interview comes out in Rolling Stone Magazine where she reveals the truth about his manager and how he stole money from the Bourbon. Stacee who has become very confused after having his mind opened by her confronts his manager, who tells him the truth. Stacee fires him and tries to track down the young reporter he calls Cinderella or Constance as she is actually called!

The film's finale is at the Bourbon club where Drew's new pop group are performing their first ever gig supporting Stacee Jaxx at his first solo performance (although nobody has told Stacee he has a gig!). Outside Catherine Zeta Jones and her supporters are facing up to all the rock fans. Stacee Jaxx arrives as he has finally found out he has a gig and that Constance is reporting on it. When he arrives he recognises Catherine Zeta Jones character and its revealed that she was once one of his many girlfriends. He goes inside where he eventually finds Constance and they finally get together. He also gives the money his manager stole back to the Club therefore saving it. Meanwhile Drew's boyband takes to the stage and the rock audience quickly get annoyed and start booing them off. Sherri arrives after hearing the song Drew had written about her and he leaves the stage to tell her he loves her. As the crowd turn nasty Sherrie takes to the stage to sing the opening lines of Drew's song. "Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world......". Drew then joins her to sing the song. When Stacee hears this song he realises he has finally found the perfect song and the film ends with a massive Arsenal Concert with Drew and Sherrie singing on stage with Stacee. As Stacee looks off stage Constance is cheering him from the wings in full rock outfit and a cute baby bump. The other characters are also in the audience including a very differently dressed Catherine Zeta Jones!

This is a fantastic film and the ending is perfect. Tom Cruise gives an amazing performance as Stacee Jaxx, and as someone who never really got the appeal of Tom Cruise, going by this film  I am now converted! Wow! Russell Brand is also surprisingly good although the northern accent which comes and go throughout the film is a little off putting, but his relationship in the film with Alec Baldwin is both funny and brilliant!

Of course I have to mention the awesome soundtrack! Its amazing from start to finish including songs by Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey, Twisted Sister and many more. My favourite songs include Tom Cruise's version of Wanted Dead or Alive, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin's duet to I Can't Fight This Feeling Any More, the romantic More than Words and of course the brilliant Don't Stop Believing. My bezzie mate has already bought the soundtrack, and I desperately want one too!

I loved this film! It was sooooo good. We were still talking about it hours later and to be honest the next day too! We both came out of the cinema really buzzing and still singing all the songs! This is definitely one for the DVD collection.
So if you like feel good films, with an amazing soundtrack and plenty of laughs please go and see this film or buy it when it comes out on DVD. It is brilliant!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

My Mum

Last week to celebrate Father's Day I told you a bit about my Dad. Since I did that I thought it was only right that I should also tell you about my Mum. I have already told you some stuff about my Mum in other blogs, mainly about all the lovely crafts she does. So here is a bit more about my Mum!

My Mum and I have an awful lot in common. We both love history and visiting museums and heritage sites. Some of my best holiday memories are of me and her going out for the day to some historic location and having a nose about. Once we went to Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum of Norfolk Life. We arrived just as it was opening and were some of the last visitors to leave at the end of the day. Even then we had a trouble squeezing in everything we wanted to see! It was a fantastic place to visit and I am so pleased that I got to share it with her. Just the two of us. Whenever I visit somewhere like that I always seem to be one of the last to leave!! I can see now where I get it from!! She is very proud of my work in Museums and I know she always tells all her friends what I am working on.

Another of our shared interests is family history and for the last 8 years my Mum and I have been looking at her side of the family (and when she gets bored of her lot she looks at my Dad's side too!). She discovered that her father and mother had never married and that her father had a wife and children from when he was younger that he never told her about. We have never been able to find out whether he just walked away or whose fault it was which I know really bugs her. She managed to track down his children from this marriage and then their children and grandchildren but sadly despite making content they don't want to know my Mum. Mum finds this very frustrating as all she wants is answers and to try to piece together what happened.  She thinks perhaps the children think she wants money or some sort of relationship but all she wants is information. I know she hopes to get answers one day, but as every lead we get on my Grandfather leads quickly to a dead end or a refusal to talk about him, I do not think it looks likely. On the plus side she has found out a lot of information about her Mum's side of the family and made contact with two of her cousins who she had never meet who were able to give her some fascinating information about that side of the family.

My Mum also loves musicals particularly going to see them in the West End. Before she married my Dad she use to regularly go to see shows at the West End, including ballets and the latest musical spectacular. For my 18th birthday celebrations the two of us went to see We Will Rock You. I had never been to a musical before. It was fantastic and I didn't stop thinking about it for days. It was an amazing experience and again I loved it that I shared it with her. We had also gone out for dinner at Garfunkles before hand and had a great giggle on the train on the way home. This is one of my favourite memories of me and my Mum. I really hope one day I can return the favour and treat her to a few days in London, where we can visit the Museums, do some window shopping and go see a show.

As I have told you in the past my Mum is also into craft. In fact she is a fully fledged crafter with many crafts in her repertoire. They include knitting, cross stitch, tatting, lace making, crocheting, quilting, card making, cake decorating, painting (watercolours mainly), embroidery, and much more. I share her love for card making and I am just starting to learn how to knit, however I do admire the other crafts. All the stuff she makes is stunning and she is a bit of a perfectionist which has both its positives and negatives! She is a member of a number of local craft clubs often going to a few in one day! She has also exhibited her work and done the odd craft fair.

Like my Dad her day job before she retired was also quite creative as she was a curtain maker. In fact she owned her own business and was a successful business woman for over 20 years. First she ran a business with my Dad that had various shops and work rooms across Essex. Then after they divorced she set up a business with Ron and this continued until she retired. I am very proud to say my Mum was a successful business woman. I know it wasn't always easy but she worked incredibly hard and went above and beyond to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I really admire her for that.

Another thing about my Mum is she had breast cancer a few years ago. She showed immense bravery and strong determination to overcome it. Thankfully she did win the fight, although it took her a while to get over it. When she was diagnosed she made the decision to retire so she could concentrate on her treatment and then the recovery. Since then she has been given the all clear and has been signed off from the hospital. She is now enjoying her retirement although not much resting and relaxing seems to be going on!

Other things about my Mum is she is a maths wizard (not something we share) who can add up quicker than the tills at supermarkets, she doesn't suffer fools and will tell them what she thinks of them if they get on her nerves, she enjoys cooking, and believes that music must be played with the volume turned up (I agree!). She is also incredibly generous, and fiercely protective of me. She can say what she wants to me - and often does-, but anyone else who thinks they can have a go at me, will have to answer to her. My Mum recently became a Parish Councillor and is also the long suffering Secretary of her local Allotment Committee. I get my work ethic from her - "if a job is worth doing, its worth doing well" and also "you should always work to the best of your abilities and to the available resources".

My hatred of early mornings is another characteristic I have inherited from her. We are both night owls. She is also a clean freak, although this is not something I have got from her I do like things tidy. Her house is always spotless and nice smelling. Even when she was ill she made Ron do all the housework as well as looking after her to keep the standards up! I personally think life is too short for housework and there is a need only to do the minimum to keeps things ticking over. My Mum would be disgusted by that and is one of those weirdos who claims housework doesn't take too long if you do it as you go!

So thats my Mum. I am sure there are more things I could tell you about her, but these are what sprang to mind!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Happy Father's Day

Seeing as today is Father's Day I thought I would tell you a bit about my Dad seeing as you are getting to know me so well! The first two things you need to know are 1) my parents divorced shortly before my 7th Birthday and 2) for the last two years and counting I have been living with my Dad after being forced to give up my flat due to my nasty landlord and an abusive neighbour. I suppose another important thing to flag up is that I am a Daddy's girl. I always have been. Apparently when I was born I was handed to my father where I was quite content, yet when I was given to my mother I cried my eyes out and attempted to scream the maternity ward down, only stopping when I was handed back to my father! Oh dear!

My Dad and I usually get on very well (although lately living together has made things "interesting"). We have very few interests in common yet we share a similar sense of humour and usually we share the same laid back attitude to life. I can talk to my Dad about anything and I do love spending quality Dad and Daughter time with him, although the older I am getting the less this is happening! We make each other laugh and can be quite a double act. However equally we can annoy the hell out of each other! We also both like our own company which has proved problematic when suddenly finding ourselves living together!!

My Dad is a very practical person and can confidently do plumbing, electrics, decorating, and building work. He has built sheds, workrooms and conservatories from scratch as well as fitted kitchens and bathrooms. In his day job he is a curtain maker and upholsterer so again more practical things. However mechanics completely bamboozle him. He has never been able to understand cars and engines. He can do the simple things such as checking the oil, putting water in the radiator, replacing spark plugs,  and the like but he is not a man who spends time tinkering with his car's engine or would ever consider trying to do any "work" on it. He would much rather pay for a mechanic! 

My Dad is not someone who can settle down with a good book and get lost in a story. He is more of a newspaper and magazine type reader. However as he is getting older he has developed a love for non-fiction books and autobiographies. He is also an outdoors person. He hates it if he has to spend the whole day indoors. He becomes restless and bored very easily and this leads to him becoming annoying and a bit of a wind up merchant!! My Dad is also a very plain speaker. He doesn't buy into being tactful, favouring more direct conversations and "telling it like it is". He is also very distrusting of people and takes him ages to work out if they can be trusted. He doesn't forgive easily and if you cross him there are no second chances. He just doesn't see the point. Similarly he is not good at doing small talk. He finds it a waste of time. Unfortunately some people think this is shyness or worse stand-offish, which is absolute rubbish as he will talk to anyone, but it has to be about something or a bit of playful banter. 

He is not a man who really has hobbies. Occasionally he will get into something for a while but it will fizzle out quite quickly. A few years ago he got into gardening and got himself an allotment. He was really into it, buying stuff for it and reading all the books. Six months later he was getting bored and the interest was waining. About eight months later he gave up the allotment! Recently he started to get back into decorating and doing DIY. He painted the kitchen and bathroom. He did a brilliant job. He then decided to paint the hallway, he just had to choose a colour. That was four weeks ago. The brushes, ladder and tools are still waiting at the end of the hallway for him to start. He will get around to it,......eventually! He also has got into sea fishing. About a year ago he bought all the gear, and more recently he started reading all the books. Apart from one attempt last year when he got his line in a massive tangle and caught nothing but a cold, he is yet to actually GO fishing. He keeps promising when the weather is better to walk across to the beach and go fishing. I hate to be negative but I would be very surprised if he actually does go. 

One hobby my Dad has stuck at is caravaning. His caravan is now 25 years old but is still in a very good condition thanks to his loving care. However age is taking its toll on it and he would love to buy a more newer one if he had the spare money. He also has a tent which he also takes camping. He loves the open air and relaxation of sitting in a field watching the world go by. Although the camp sites do have to have electric link ups, and clean washing, showering and toilet facilities. I use to go camping with him when I was a child and in my early teens and use to really enjoy it. However as I got older I became far too high maintenance and I just couldn't go without my creature comforts. He now goes with Ann. 

Other facts about my Dad are he is a diabetic and an asthmatic. Two years ago he had a full knee replacement and after his recovery discovered his other knee was damaged and very painful too. He is currently going through various treatments to try and manage the pain as the doctors don't wish to replace his other knee so early. Another thing about my Dad is he is a fruit bat. He loves eating fresh fruit and can easily get through a bag of grapes, a few clementines, a banana, an apple, a few plums and a bowl of strawberries in one sitting. He puts it down to his childhood where he got a job at the age of 7 helping the local fruit and veg man. Initially he just helped with deliveries to his road but gradually as he got older helped more and more with the rounds. He got a wage but was also allowed to eat as much fruit as he liked. At the end of the day he would also be given fruit that needed to be eaten such as a bag of oranges or a bag of apples to take home to his Mum. This was very gratefully received seeing as there were 5 children and his Mum to feed. This apparently created his love of fruit. 

So that's my Dad. I am sure there are better things I could tell you about him but that's what comes to mind. I love my Dad very much and although we recently have had our ups and downs I hope we will always remain close. He is as much a friend as a Dad. Over this weekend I have spent some lovely quality time with him. We didn't do anything special, just talked, laughed, watched a film, cooked and ate dinner together and simply hung out. It was very relaxing and nice to spend time with him. 
So to my Dad, Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Jaunt 2012

Yesterday was Bexhill Museum's Diamond Jubilee Jaunt. It was organised by my friend and it was to raise money for the Museum as well as celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The walk took us from the bottom of Galley Hill, all the way along the Prom, past the De La Warr Pavilion to the Clock Tower on West Parade where the Museum is. It was very windy but at least the rain held off until we got to the Museum and the sun did come out for some of the time, enough to give me a little bit of sunburn on my face. Or perhaps its wind-burn! Most of the people who took part were in costume, either historical or red, white and blue. I wore my lovely new Medieval Kirtle which has been made by my friend's Mum (and my surrogate mum!)

The children were dressed in either Medieval or Tudor costume and were given the important job of rattling the collection tubs at any passers by. Just encase any local's had expected a quiet afternoon walk along the Prom the children also went along shouting "Bexhill Museum" and "Support Bexhill Museum". Slightly worryingly by the time we had got to the Pavilion the children had begun shouting "Save Our Museum" which although funny for us, was not really what we wanted the public to hear, so we had to get them to quickly go back to "Support our Museum". Many of the the people we met on the way did give generously.

Some of the passers by were also "held up" by our very own Long Bowman in the form of my friend's son who was using his bow and arrow (blunt not sharp!) to request money for the Museum. Thankfully the local's did see the funny side! Although one little boy got a bit frightened after putting some money in the tin to be confronted by a bow and arrow aimed in his direction! He ran very fast in the opposite direction to the safety of his Dad! Bless! At least my friend's son had waited until the money had gone in the tin!!

The prom was very busy as the Heritage Motor Trail was also being launched that day and the panels were placed along the seafront. A procession of classic cars followed the route led by the Museum's Serpollet or Easter Egg which is a replica of the first car to win the racing at Bexhill in 1902. (Encase you were not aware Bexhill is the home of British Racing and we held the first ever race in this country along the seafront in 1902 making this year the 110th Anniversary). As well as the cars they were also joined by the Classic Cycle Group who were riding classic bicycles in period costume. Due to the location of the panels, our Jaunt kept leap frogging the opening ceremonies of the panels which helped create quite a fun atmosphere. As we arrived at the Museum, so did the Heritage Motor Trail launch (there is a panel at the Museum). So we got to watch this unveiling before going into the Museum for a much needed drink and a sit down!

It was a really enjoyable day and it was lovely to be involved in a Jubilee themed event. All along the seafront there were union jacks and an abundance of red, white and blue. It was actually really heart-warming to see. There was clearly a party atmosphere!

It was a really great day, although there were quite a few sore feet, achy legs and tired bodies at the end of it! In the evening No 2 and I had a take-away and girlie night which was very well deserved and nice to have a good rest!
As for today, well I am enjoying watching some of the Jubilee celebrations on the telly, chilling out and trying to get some more craft done! So far it has been a fantastic Diamond Jubilee Weekend!

Hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Beautiful Blogger Award

Today I received a Beautiful Blogger Award from my fabulous friend Her words were extremely kind and touching, although I think she is being over generous to call me "wonderful". I just try to be me! If people like that then I am on a winner. However thank you for the compliment and award!

To continue this on as required here are 7 facts about me that I haven't already covered in my previous blogs:

1. I find it difficult, sometimes even impossible to accept a compliment. I have a low opinion of myself and can't understand or see what other people see in me. This can be from friends, work colleagues and guys. I can even find myself questioning why they are saying it or what is the reason behind it, what are they up too? I know that some of my friends find this very irritating! Sorry!

2. I love Doctor Who (since it returned with the Ninth Doctor). I also love Supernatural, Bones, Torchwood, Alcatraz and Being Human. Basically if it is high concept and is either a bit sci-fi or supernatural I will watch it and love it!

3. I hate dusting. I find hoovering quite therapeutic, but I HATE dusting. It is so boring and sets off my allergies. I also find it doesn't last very long after you have done it anyway!

4. I would love to do a PhD after I have completed my Masters if I could find the funding and felt clever enough to actually do it!

5. I am allergic to tomatoes and cucumbers. Even the smell of a cucumber being cut up makes me what to be sick, while a single drop of tomato juice can set of my allergies.

6. I was once offered a job at the British Museum, but I turned it down because it was too far to travel every day and most of my pay would be spent on paying for travel. Some days I kick myself for doing that!

7. I passed my driving test three years ago last Saturday! I love driving and I love my little Peugeot 206 or Milo as he is also known!

Wow! That was amazingly difficult to do! Trying to think of what facts to write was soooo hard!

Okay, now my 7 nominations for this award:

1. This is my fabulous friend who nominated me, and has already been a winner of this Award. However I want to nominate her as she truly is a beautiful person, with a beautiful soul. Life throws a lot at her, but she always finds the strength to get through it and always has time for other people. She is quite simply my best friend.

2. This is my friend's Mum and also my surrogate Mummy! LOL! She is a great friend and very supportive. Something I am not very use to! Thank you Mummy Mo!

3. This is another good friend and the coolest 18 year old I know! Her writing is superb and always interesting. She is off to Uni in September so I won't get to see her as often, but I hope she will find time to stay in touch!

4. This is a friend of a relatives blog. I have never met them but their blog is fascinating as she showcases some of the more weird and wonderful and often kitsch items of social history.

5. This is the official blog of Dr. Lucy Worsley who you may know from programmes such as "If Walls Could Talk" and "Harlots, Housewives and Heroines". She is a great historian and has had an amazing Museum career. She is currently the Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces. She is a real inspiration to me and I am a huge fan of her work!

6. This is the blog for Brighton Toy and Model Museum. I know its not technically a person, but this was where I had my first paid Museum job and my first Curator post so its a very special place for me. I was only 23 and they believed in me. Its fab to see all what they are up to now in their blog.

7. Okay so this is a bit of an own goal, but Crafty Claires blog is also very special to me and hopefully over the next few months will be updated more regularly and also announce the launch of the new Crafty Claires The Craft Guides website!

This is what to do now:

Put down seven facts about yourself,

You link to the blog of the person who nominated you,

You link to seven bloggers who you think deserve the award,

You let those bloggers know they have been nominated.

 Simple as that. I look forward to reading your facts xx