Monthly Archives: May 2015

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Something stirred me on to get my house in order recently and I’ve been busy going through storage boxes full of stuff I haven’t seen for months or maybe years.

Clothes that had been stored for a summer day, a thin day, a rainy day, a grow into day found their way to new homes via charity shops or friends. Shoes were sorted, anything that was worn down, shoddy and scruffy, grown out of or missing its opposite number was binned.

Seeing the boxes flattened and space appearing was the green light and inspiration for sorting out the clutter that has taken over the house. A lot of stuff was rubbish, broken, beyond economical repair, missing a bit or had no upcycling benefit so it was binned.  The rest is sitting in open topped boxes ready to be taken to a car boot. I don’t need 9 Moroccan tea lights, 7 tea pots, 11 jugs, 3 cake stands, countless buttons, 5 glass bottles. I just don’t need it anymore.

I didn’t stop at that, oh no I carried on.  Under the sink cupboard, bathroom shelves.  Then with a clear space I sat down and felt a sense of calm and a surge of strength.  The strength to admit that some friendships have wilted beyond recovery.

This week has been cathartic.  Clearing out boxes has helped me to clear my head.

Halen Môn – Anglesey salt

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We’ve just returned home after 3 days on Anglesey and I’ve done the washing, removed sand from pockets and put the salt away. Not just any salt! Halen Môn salt. THE salt of Anglesey!

On Thursday we nipped into Halen Môn to pick up some salt for gifts and of course me, and I could have bought plenty in their beautiful shop that is stocked with salt, salt products like Nom Nom chocolate (delicious I tell you), oils, vinegars, sauces, home wares and stationery and much more!

  
The shop is spacious, beautifully stocked, well presented and lovely staff to boot. A beautiful shop!  When I say it’s a beautiful shop I really mean it, so I’m going to award it a Nellington Pom Poms pom pom of excellence! 

  

Unidentified poisoning

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It seems ages ago now and thankfully Arthur is all recovered but I was looking through some old photos recently which prompted me to write about Arthur’s unidentified poisoning which gave us all a scare.

I can remember it all so vividly.  A dog is a man’s best friend and I can confirm that’s the case in our house!  He’s my shadow, he sits patiently when I’m cooking (who needs a hand held hoover when I have one that can catch a falling crumb before it hits the floor), he listens to the music I want to listen to and doesn’t complain, he doesn’t turn his nose up at ANY food and is a very cosy cushion when I flop on the sofa.

Back in January Mook had a paediatrician appointment on and was subsequently referred her for an MRI scan which was swiftly booked in for the next day. With her back at school I took the dog out whilst it was dry.

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Hmmmmmmmmmm. Hail!

Then the rain and hail stopped.  We had a lovely walk, passing the fields of cows on the way to the steam where Arthur retrieved some soggy sticks, killing them by throwing them in the air and then rolling on them, then a really muddy walk through the puddles (I did think of the Vicar of Dibley sketch on more than one occasion!) and trees before hitting the open road. Road walking isn’t my kind of fun so we cut up by the fields and trudged back home in a big loop.

Job done, massive long walk, quick cup of tea and off to school run feeling upbeat after exertions! Had a normal kind of evening and was then up early for Mook, who had the MRI scan and came home for a snooze.

When she woke up she shouted “Mum, Arthur’s behaving really oddly, he’s coughing and retching” oh great I’m not good with sick! Then more urgently “Mum, Arthur’s sicking up blood”. Panic. Panic. PANIC.  PANIC!!!!

Phoned the vets and spoke to the lovely receptionist (they’re all lovely but Angela just so happened to take the call) who said bring him in. Off we trotted with a blanket full of clots and a throat clearing dog. On arriving at the vets he climbed onto the scales and I clocked 40kg before being shepherded into the vet’s room. Explained about the coughing and blood (which was both visible and audible) and Ben said he would need an exploratory. Cue tears and pound sign.  Without further ado he had an emergency exploratory where they found cuts to his palatine artery poss caused by a retrieved stick which were cauterised and he came home rather sorry for himself.

The vet had told me to look out for black poo so I was ready and waiting for that, poor dog had swallowed so much blood his whole tummy must have been drawing in blood.  However the next morning he was peeing blood which sent me into a panic, so when I eventually got a sample (IKEA food bag in a small saucepan waved around under the dog when he looked poised to pee, incase you are wondering) in the late afternoon I went back to the vets and he was seen almost immediately.  Ben checked him over, saw that there was no bleeding from his mouth and said he would have to run some tests and suggested NBM.  I went home and lay on the sofa with my listless shadow who had no idea what was going on.

The vet phoned back to say that his blood results had come back and it was a coagulation problem, either an unidentified poisoning or a primary clotting problem. The vet suggested warfarin poisoning.  I cried.

It could have been anywhere but I’d been doing the same route for a few weeks passing farm fields and wooded areas where quite possibly some rat poison was put down, or a rat had made its way to somewhere and Arthur had inadvertently picked up some warfarin, or the rat had died in the stream where Arthur was happily dragging out sticks and killing them.  I won’t ever know.  It’s likely that the cut to his palatine artery was the entry point for the unidentified poison (poss warfarin). The vet ruled out E. coli as his white blood cells were ok. Copper poisoning is rare but when he has the next blood test in a week it can be looked at. He was on VitK for 10 days and wasn’t allowed to do anything that would cause a bruise or a bleed, so he sat on the sofa and caught up on trashy telly whilst I fussed around him.

Who knows where it all happened but a big hurrah to Kynoch Vets who dealt with a tearful owner, a bewildered family pet and the insurers.

I’m happy to report that 6 months later he is back to his normal self, he’s now 28kg and we have changed our route.

The Husky Trail – Plans

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Training is going well.  I did a 3 day Herbalife trial at the start of the year and lost weight which gave me the kickstart that I needed to change my eating habits and I have been walking loads.  We had a week skiing at Easter and the weather on the first day was freezing, made all the more so because I had taken the wrong salopettes, but it was good to be back in the bindings and spend time in the snow and blow away the cobwebs!  With the longer days I am going to be getting out on the bike more and adding in upper body strength exercises.  With 10 months to go I have a lot to do but I see it as a challenge within a challenge, I’m stepping right out of my comfort zone and pushing myself.  I can do it and I will do it, and when I return home afterwards I will have done it!

Having changed the date the original post is somewhat out of date so here’s a revamped version!  

If you’re new to the blog you won’t know that I have surprised myself and everyone around me!  You see I am lazy. Not lazy as in “doesn’t do anything lazy” as I do lots, or lazy as in “lazy morning lie in idling away the day lazy”, oh no this lazy I refer to is “lazy at doing something that’s a little bit different, that will challenge me and is so far out of my comfort zone lazy”. And by crikey am I going to do something that’s more than a little bit off the beaten track and oh so challenging. I’m going to do something so different for me that people laugh when I tell them, then when they’ve scooped themselves off the floor (because being lazy I’m certainly not going to help them) they are full of questions and interest and envy, and above all admiration and support.

You see I’m a short, fat, dumpy gym avoider, I favour warmth over cold, I prefer a cosy bed to camping, my dog of choice is not a husky it’s a labrador, I’m very comfortable thank you very much hurtling around the country in my Mini so the prospect of getting from one place to another is with consideration of warmth, comfort and ease it’s certainly not on the back of a sledge, being pulled by huskies and then stopping to pitch a tent. In the snowy Arctic circle. In Norway & Sweden. In April. I’m going on a husky adventure!

No. None of those things have crossed my mind. Much! It’s actually all I’ve been thinking of since I read up about it on The Brain Tumour Charity website. I spoke to a few people and they all said DO IT!

So why am I doing it? Well last year Charch a school friend died from a brain tumour, a friend told me her brother died from a brain tumour, at Charch’s memorial I met a friend of hers whose daughter had died, shortly after Charch’s memorial I met a friend of another friend whose son had died 2 years previously from a brain tumour, a friend’s husband is recovering after a brain tumour operation, someone I recently met told me she’d had a brain tumour in her youth, a Twitter friend’s son has had a brain tumour and since announcing this challenge an author friend told me her late husband had died from a brain tumour. These are people I know and there are many other people whose lives have been affected by brain tumours. I read about brain tumours in the news on a regular basis and hear all too often about late diagnosis in children.

Why huskies, camping, cold? Why??? Away from my creature comforts, my family, WIFI, 4G!!! Ah ok it’s only a week but what a week it will be!  I’m doing it because it looks good fun, it’s going to be challenge to get fit and husky ready, I’m not a natural camper, as a skier I’m used to the snow and the cold but I’ve always retreated to a warm bar or chalet after.

In short it’s a bonkers idea but for a very good cause. I’ll be fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity and in doing so will be raising awareness of the HeadSmart campaign and I’m doing it for Charch, Georgie, Sacha, Georgina, Sue, Lizzie and everyone whose lives have been devastated by brain tumours.

You can sponsor me if you like.  I’d be really grateful!

Nellie Knows – The Wokingham Paper – 15 May

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This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on 15 May 2015

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Another week has flown by and it’s now only a week until half term and the late May Bank Holiday, here’s hoping that the weather is clear, dry and bright for everyone’s plans. I do like it when a new month starts on a Monday however unlike a diet the month carries on! June isn’t far away and is wedged between the month of Bank Holidays and the manic month of end of term activities and the start of the summer holidays. I don’t want to wish the year away but we’re nearly halfway through and I know I am turning into my grandmothers when I say I have no idea where the time has gone!

In the garden

I do know where the time has gone as I have been in the garden when time permits, however I do lose track of time and was in the garden so late one evening last week that I didn’t realise how dark it had got until I walked back into the house. There I was busy untangling the clematis and attempting to train it along the top of the trampoline (as useful and fun as they are they are ugly so I am hoping for it to be covered with pretty pink flowers) not noticing that it had got much darker and considerably cooler! The apple tree is full of blossom this year, maybe this is the year we have a good crop of apples!
Health and wellbeing

We normally go to France in the May half term but our friend is undergoing treatment for brain tumours so it will be too much, but all is not lost as I will be flying out to Bordeaux for a few days next month to hold her hand. When Charch my schoolfriend and the inspiration for my bonkers Husky Trail was very poorly we used to turn up in Cardiff with gifts and she particularly liked the knitted bed socks and Niki McGlynn’s Warming Balm so I will be taking some of that for Mme Cholet. I’ll also be taking some Dairy Milk because that’s her absolute favourite, but I wont be eating it as I must knuckle down with my training for my Husky Trail.

Sledging and sleeping in the snow

I can’t believe I have signed up to go on a Husky Trail in Norway next March because I am not what you would call a natural camper, I don’t like being cold and to be honest as lovely as huskies are they are not my favourite so it’s going to be a challenge. Why am I going then? Well, my schoolfriend Charch died last year and in her last few months she was an inspiration to us all, so I am going to Norway for a week without creature comforts and WIFI to raise awareness of the HeadSmart campaign and The Brain Tumour Charity. All joking aside I am really looking forward to it!

Telly

Having said last week that I didn’t watch much telly I seem to have had a telly overload recently and even carried on watching some Teen Beach movie that the children were watching when they walked out of the room. I’ve been glued to Home Fires and practically jumped out of my seat squealing when my cousin came on the screen. I also shot out of my seat watching Enfield Haunting, but I still watched it. I’ve got a big huge pile of ironing to get through and have a load of stuff on the planner so I will look forward to that. No really I will!

Food and drink

I met up with my friend Naomi Slade the Horticultural Journalist and author of The Plant Lovers Guide to Snowdrops last week over at The Blackbird Cafe in Bucklebury where we enjoyed a fair few coffees and a cake, she kindly gave me a bottle of Dr Grandad’s Apple Juice which is delicious and went down very easily. I have also been making cakes for my hungry lot and as I always take one in to the studio when I am on BBC Radio Berkshire I have been making lots of lemon drizzle and chocolate cake. The children often ask me to make Welsh Cakes so out comes the hot stone and as quickly as they are made they children devour them. I now know why my mother in law bakes when there’s no one else in the house!

Out and about

I have really enjoyed seeing lots of photos on Social Media of people’s walks and bluebell woods. There really is no other smell like it and the sight of the bluebells is enchanting. I have also been plotting our NGS and National Trust visits, I do love nosing around gardens and old houses, but for me there’s no place like home!

Making a statement with stationery from Two Little Boys Ltd

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Have I told you I love stationery?  Well “I love stationery” I’ve said it before and I will say it again “I love stationery“.  Really I do and luckily everyone knows I do so they send me funny cards and notebooks – just because.  One of my very daft friends bought me something for my birthday a few years ago and said “it jumped out at me and I knew it had to be yours” – my friends know me so well!

I met Sarah of Two Little Boys at Spirit of Christmas last year and bought a little book to keep the younger ones entertained at mealtimes during the festive season, well it was such a hit with both children and adults I might have to stock up this year!  Funnily enough during one of my ‘moving furniture around moments’ I had a look through a box which was very festive and reminded me of the fun we had at mealtimes so of course I then had to look through the website again!

Two Little Boys offers a wide range of stationery to fit all moods, events and circumstances as well as their fantastic How to range.  I really like the I’m going to be the boss and this is my plan folder and as I have some exciting plans for Nellie Pom Poms the folder fits so well.  I showed it to a friend of mine whose son is off to university and she is going to be ordering the How to survive university ring binder which she has said she will fill with recipes and washing instructions, another friend is on a mission and this is ideal!  To be honest there’s something for all of my friends!

I can remember getting pencils with my name on when I was younger and these pencils are now my grown up pencils, I’m not a connoisseur of pencils but these ones don’t crumble when you sharpen them which is a great big fat bonus in my book!  They also don’t bleed as some pencils do and were easy to rub out, these are all important issues when filling in a new diary!  The pencils would make ideal birthday gifts or new term stationery purchases.  Gone are the days when my lot want pink and girly, now they want something that not everyone has but wants

Speaking of children there’s also a selection of games and books, I’ve yet to use the full set of IOUs but there are some that I will reward myself with!  Thinking back to our wedding and our young pageboys they would have loved the range of Wedding Gifts for Children, we had disposable cameras that they took charge of and when the photos were printed it was like an album of out of focus Mix & Match.

There’s a notebook for every occasion and when I posted a photo of my new notebook recently lots of people asked where I had got it …… there’s a whole heap of Things and I probably need them all!

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Thanks Sarah for sending me a box of goodies, they’re all great and I will be adding the website to my favourites.

Nellie Knows – The Wokingham Paper :8 May 2015

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This was previously published in The Wokingham Paper on 8 May 2015

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As I have said before I do love May with its Bank Holidays and this past weekend has been a crazily busy weekend not just for us but countless other families as they enjoyed a 3 day weekend. We didn’t get to the May Fayre this year what with one thing or another but I heard it was good and the weather was brilliant. Let’s hope we have a dry spell for the next Bank Holiday and half term! We were glued to the telly on Saturday following the arrival of the new Royal Baby, Princess Charlotte looked so gorgeous in the photos. I’m certainly not broody and I don’t envy anyone who has a newborn with broken nights as I love my sleep so much, but I do love a cuddle with a baby. Thankfully a friend had a baby on Thursday so I can have a cuddle and then hand him back. I try and have an early night at least once a week which is my way of recharging the batteries and also gives me the chance to read without interruption.

Books
I’ve got a massive pile of books to review which include If You Go Away by Adele Parks, Yellow Room by Shelan Rodger, The Silent Hours by Cecsa Major and M. D. Murphy’s Dark River Melody. I love reading and once I get started I struggle to put it down. I’ve thankfully passed my bookworm habits onto my children who all enjoy reading and one of them was the inspiration for the name of a character in Christina Jones’ Love Potions so that book is always going to be special. Whilst sorting out a box that had been in the back of a cupboard until recently I found the Jilly Cooper books we all read at school as teenagers, as well as Shirley Conran’s Lace!

In the garden
A few weeks ago I had great plans for one of my borders but now that everything is flowering I will leave it and just remove the dandelions and nettles, I will have to get to the dandelions before the children do as their seeds are the last thing I want anywhere near my garden! I really do relish being in the garden and like nothing better than a cup of coffee outside first thing, with the lovely weather it has been so nice to sit outside in peace knowing that as soon as someone stirs then the rest of the house will follow. Breakfast is the loudest meal of the day in our house and every week my lot change their mind about what cereal they actually like, but thankfully they all like fruit so we have heaps of it in a bowl as well as frozen blackberries we picked from various hedgerows last autumn which I throw into a smoothie or yoghurt or make into a summer pudding or crumble.

Telly
Speaking of hedgerow fruit leads me nicely onto Home Fires and Jambusters, I see that Jambusters by Julie Summers is the No 1 bestseller in Women’s studies on Amazon which makes me hugely proud. We enjoyed the first episode and are looking forward to the next 5 Sunday evenings as the plot unfolds, the cast is amazing and the location is Cheshire where a branch of my family live so I have a certain fondness for it. I’ve recorded The C Word but will have to find the right time to watch it as a friend who had breast cancer now has brain tumours and it will be rather close to home. I don’t watch much telly but I do enjoy watching reruns and films, we watched Paddington at the weekend which was great fun and if you’ve not seen it then I would recommend it!

Food
Last week I wrote that I would be picking up a box of treats from Wellington Farm Shop one of my favourite farm shops, as well as ingredients that I turned into a tasty birthday meal for my husband I also picked up some Spitfire Cheese and some chilli and lime Cheddar, both had a real kick and it’s no surprise that it’s all gone. I really enjoy cooking and when I eat something out I will then recreate it at home. This week it was Mango Curry which was so easy to make. I fried some onions, leeks, garlic and chicken then in a separate bowl mixed Crème fraîche and mango chutney, added them all together and shoved in the oven (which is now working thanks to Kevin of Domestic Appliance Care and Repair) whilst I cooked the rice and prepared a salad. I made a meringue which I bashed up and added some soft fruits to make Eton Mess. I think it’s safe to say that the meal was well received as there were no left overs! On Sunday I made Lamb Curry with a sauce from Mama Eti’s which is an Indonesian street food company run by an old friend from my Holme Grange schooldays, that also went down well and we will be exploring more of the range over the coming months.

Sport
The football season is over but that doesn’t stop my girls kicking the ball around whenever they can. My youngest plays for Wokingham and Emmbrook Girls U10s and is taking part in the Futsal tournament next month, having just learnt the rules for football I now have to get my head around a different set of rules! She recently took part in an inter school football tournament playing against some of her Sumas team which was great fun for the girls and her school came 3rd. My husband used to play cricket and has been glued to the cricket on the box, however none of the girls have shown any interest in the game but they could be tempted to join their friends for the Friday Club Evening at Hurst Cricket Club for an early evening drink or something to eat, between 6pm and 830pm which runs until the end of July. Maybe we’ll see you there?

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