Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Right Royal Knees Up

Wedding fever truly hit the Prior household yesterday! The lounge was decked out in bunting, union jack table cloths were out in force and of course there was a little spot of dressing up:

TV went on at 8am and there we sat, watching all the build up and right through the ceremony itself. I know there are some people out there who are anti the royal family to varying degrees but I thought it was fabulous and made me proud to be British. It was so impressive to see the huge outpouring of support for a young couple who seem so in love and in some ways so normal, but have such a huge weight of responsibility to carry through their future.

After a quick break for a swimming lesson.....

.... it was back home to get the plates and (union jack of course!) napkins out ready for the royal visit! Well, not quite but two sets of parents and Aunty Carole amount to almost the same thing.

In true British style it wasn't long before we had a knock at the door inviting us to an impromptu street party round the corner. So we gathered up cakes and wandered round. Say what you like about "the country today" and "things aren't what they used to be" but we had a great time and were really welcomed into the area. I love these times when the community comes together with a common cause to celebrate.Maybe this was a good practice run for the Diamond Jubilee next year? I better get my organising hat on, I feel a spreadsheet coming on....! Talking of hats, Lily's red, white and blue effort was such a hit I may have a few orders coming from the local primary school :)

All too soon it was time to head back home, have a little relax:

and contemplate having watched history being made!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

National Distress?

You can't help but notice the outpouring of national pride recently, in the run up to a certain wedding tomorrow. I am sure every other little bit of suburbia around the country is like ours with flags, bunting, street parties and so on. But I am beginning to see a worrying trend. Those of you who know me in real life will know it has been concerning me for many years but the last few weeks have seen an exponential rise in the number of distress signals around:

If you're not sure of the problem here, check out this link. Or this one. Or even this one.

The problem with being something of a pedant about certain things as I am, is that I feel the urge to knock on people's doors to ask them the cause of their distress. As a Girl Guide I want to assist where I can and can't help but wonder if there is any way I can relieve their anxiety. I have resisted temptation so far for fear of a less than thankful response. I only hope the flags come down this time tomorrow so that normal service can be resumed once more!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sun Day

Having noted via Mrs B's Facebook status this morning that Easter is in fact another pagan festival stolen by Christianity, I didn't feel too guilty that we skipped church today in favour of worshipping the Gods of Food and Shopping!

A chance reading of a local freebie magazine last week brought the Reading Vintage Fair to our attention, so plans were made for a family trip out. Top tip, if you want to eat out in Reading on a Sunday lunch time, go for Easter Sunday! With the shops closed, most of the eateries were almost empty, giving Lily ample choice of where to go. She settled on Nando's and, as you can see, took great delight in studying the menu:

Note, if you will, the blurred hand waving with some vigour at the thought of her first tentative steps up the "Peri-ometer"!

All chickened up and ready to go, we headed over to The Purple Turtle - one of Reading's most famed drinking establishments. The last time I was in here was to celebrate a certain Mr Keeble's birthday in December 2009. I only have a hazy recollection of the evening but I have a very sharp memory of finding out a few days later that I was expecting Lily. Fortunately she doesn't seem any the worse for the experience, but there did seem to be a look of slight recognition on her face as we walked in!

The usual bar stools and table football had been moved aside for stalls selling vintage dresses, handbags, jewellery, padlock keys (!) and all sorts of other bits and bobs. There was so much to choose from I didn't know where to start. Lily stole the show as usual and when one stall holder commented on her abundant locks, we couldn't walk away without buying her first hair clips.

Thinking with our stomachs as usual, attention turned to The White Rabbit Bakery stand, selling tea and the most beautiful cupcakes. Where once we bought everything in pairs we now have to buy in threes, or in this case rather conveniently, two and a halfs.

Baby-led weaning is really going well and Lily got stuck in!

The next fair is on Sunday May 29th. Definitely one for the calendar!

Nice Wheels (Make Do And Mend Part 2)

OK, so the blogging has slowed down a little over the last few days, but I promise I've not been idle - far from it in fact. I've become a bit of an Ebay lover of late. I think it stems from the many years I spent as a child wandering round car boot sales on the hunt for a bargain. Car boot sales seem to be more and more full of junk of late, but I believe that's because Ebay is where it's at!

I love hunting out a bargain, but I think for me it's less about saving lots of money and more about the thrill of the chase and the feeling of giving a bit of life back to something that's been unloved. That was certainly the case with my latest acquisition.

We've been on the lookout for an all terrain push chair for a while, with the VW show season just around the corner. Unfortunately the budget didn't really stretch to a new one, especially as this will be Lily's second, so I turned to my old friend Ebay. I missed out on a few as it seems everyone was getting the same idea, with some second hand push chairs going for almost as much as a brand new one. I decided to change tactic a little and look at some that had been slightly less well cared for, and also moved away from the Phil and Ted's which although they are well designed and made do seem to command a high price tag.

Eventually I snagged the hard hunted bargain and after a road trip last weekend brought home this little beauty:

OK, so not much of a looker to start with, but like I said I like the challenge! First job, canvas off! Here's the sun shade in all its dirty faded glory:

Of course, it pays to take pics of how it goes back together before removing the screws:

There were some wires sewn completely inside the canvas, so plan A of sticking it in the washing machine reverted to plan B of washing it in the bath. A mixture of washing powder, Vanish and nappy sanitising powder brought it up a treat and left the bath water looking similar to Steve's after he's been out on his bike. Meanwhile the chassis took a little holiday at Rotec Cycles where Simon gave it an MOT, replaced a tyre and overhauled the front brake. As I was feeling generous (and too lazy to make one) I treated Lily to a new cozy toes to pop inside as she's still a bit small for it really. Steve and I screwed it all back together (it's difficult to hold the canvas tight and get the screws back in on your own!) and I think Lily was happy with the result:

It had a good trial run at Wheels Day on Friday and met with approval all round, so I think for less than half the cost of a new one and a few hours labour we've bagged ourselves some nice wheels for the show season :)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Back to work...

So, the time is nearly here. I've had to start thinking this week about my return to work. Not just as something away in the future, but actually soon.

To be honest I have really mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I can see all the benefits. Financially, obviously, and also maintaining my career, using my degree and training and so on. But on the other hand I would be completely happy at this point to stay at home full time with Lily and never think about work again. I know it's a difficult choice that all mums have to go through at this point, but somehow that doesn't make it any easier.

For us, financially, there is no choice. To continue our lifestyle as we have it now, I need to work (not that our lifestyle is lavish by any means). I remember a friend once saying to me "you always have a choice, you just might not like the choice you have". How true that is!

One thing that really had been playing on my mind was feeding Lily. At the moment we are currently in the throes of baby-led weaning, which means she is starting on some solids but is also still breast fed. I love breastfeeding her, and having come this far really was starting to worry at the thought of giving up before she was ready. Working a good 30 minutes from home seemed to make that inevitable. However recently I've had my thoughts on that one changed, firstly by reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (a fantastic book which should be recommended reading for all expectant mums who plan to breastfeed, I wish I had read it 6 months ago) and also by watching Is Breast Best? on BBC3 the other night. Both of them have great examples of woman managing to work whilst continuing to breastfeed.

There are still a lot of issues and feelings for me to work through, but that's at least one weight off mind!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Lily's Top of the Pops

Lily seems to be taking after me in her love of music, so today I would like to give you her top 5!

In at Number 5 - Original and best:

A non-mover at Number 4 - Who wants a rubber dolly?:

Up at Number 3 - Daddy's favourite:


Dancing it's way to Number 2 - Clean version!:


And this weeks Top of the Pops - Just the best for dancing in the bouncer:

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Grand Day Out

What perfect weather today for a day out at the RHS garden at Wisley.

The main building:

There is currently a massive display of orchids in the glasshouse:

This amused me:

Fabulous foliage:

Flower girl:

Beautiful Lily shot (lol):

Sunday, 10 April 2011

In Praise of Dads

Steve has spent a busy weekend doing "dad stuff", helped for some of it by my own dad, which got me thinking.

The great thing about my dad is that he knows stuff. Not intellectual high brow stuff, but really useful stuff like a bit of plumbing, a bit of carpentry, a bit of plastering, a bit of gardening, a bit of bricklaying, a bit of car maintenance. Stuff that helps you get stuff sorted without having to "get a man in" every time.

The other great thing about my dad is that he has stuff. He has plenty of useless tat, but he also has really useful things like all manner of sizes of spade, a 6 foot long solid iron bar (that came in handy today!), various spares for hoses, any size of screw or nail you can get the idea.

The main great thing about my dad is that, despite being in his mid-70s, he's always ready to pop over and give us his help and advice whenever we need it. I am really lucky to have a great relationship with my parents, which my mum puts down to the fact that I am far more like my dad in personality than I am like her! I hope Lily grows up to think as much of her dad as I do of mine.

And talking of Lily... she seems to be the star of this blog! So for no other reason, here is a pic of her enjoying her latest new toy:

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Happy Days (Signs of Summer Pt 2)

Lily's had a few firsts today.

First excursion in New Hat:

First time (for ages!) catching up with Malcolm, Georgie and Molly :)

And... first BBQ! All a bit spur of the moment after a day of socialising and shopping (for Lily and me) and socialising and kitchen demolition (for Steve)....

Beverages organised:

Food organised:

Chilling out before dinner:

Food time:

It was all just too much fun for some:

Our little impromptu al fresco dinner was a great way to end a busy day and a good reminder to make time in our hectic lives to enjoy these small moments together.

Photos brought to you today by the letters S t e v and e.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Make Do and Mend: PS

Up, dressed, fed, napped and ready for a photoshoot:

It's maybe a touch big, but she'll grow into it! 

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Make Do and Mend

It became apparent to me yesterday, while enjoying the first fine weather of 2011, that I am such a bad mummy that poor Lily doesn't yet have a sun hat!

A problem such as this (and a lack of accessories must be considered a problem for any girl, however young) could easily be solved with a quick trip to the shops. However in these times of austerity and prudence, I decided a more frugal approach was in order. A quick computer google revealed a very handy website and a quick cupboard google revealed some lovely retro flowery fabric, just perfect for a little girl.

Stitching a one-of-a-kind baby fashion item is not a quick process, so unfortunately the real model was fast asleep by the time it was finished. I managed to round up a couple of stand-bys for the inevitable photo-shoot...

I am sure Lily will be embarrassed by her retro floral hat when she looks back at the pictures. She will probably be even more mortified at the pictures of her parents wearing it (what were we thinking?!). But I hope she will realise that it was stitched for her with love :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Signs of Summer

How do I know summer's on it's way? My feet! Today was the first proper sunny day of the year and my feet are finally out of their socks and shoes and have got just a little bit grubby. One of my favourite feelings is walking outside on the grass in bare feet, something I tend to do rather a lot when the weather is warm enough. To me, that is the feeling of summer! Whether it's on a campsite or in my back garden there is something about wearing no shoes that makes me feel free :)

Being an autumn baby, the sun is not something Lily's that familiar with, but after today I think they are better acquainted.

For me one of the best things about summer is time spent with friends which is exactly how we spent today. Fingers crossed for many more to come!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Wash Day

The latest Blogging for Scrapbookers prompt I am working through talks about blogging the mundane, ordinary, day-to-day things we do. Well wash day might seem mundane and ordinary but my weekly wash days with our ex-neighbour Carole are anything but! Take today for example. It started off simply enough: hand Lily over for a cuddle, pop Carole's washing in the machine and stick the kettle on. It ended with a spontaneous lunch out at Bel and the Dragon, some printer purchasing research, a plate from the restaurant now residing in my kitchen cupboard and Steve taking a photo of Carole's knickers! What a day!

Monday, 4 April 2011

These are a few of my favourite things...

Less philosophy today and just some nice things. Been a bit of a long day so here are a few random things that keep me going!

My Daddy Cooks - brilliant website where you can watch Nick and Archie having fun in the kitchen. I'm looking forward to the book coming out soon! Which leads me on to...

...Baby-led Weaning - my (and Lily's) new passion. It's a good thing I don't mind a bit of mess! Talking of food...

...Cote d'Or Chocolate - the one good thing about Steve's many recent trips to France has been a regular supply of this. Talking of Steve...

...Cherry blossom - our Cherry in our front garden is just about to bloom, just ready for some of those Japanese style pics of the camper with the Sakura in the background. There's a name for these style of pics. I forget but Steve will know...

... Steve will also know that I will be heading to Desigual next time we are in Barcelona! ;)

Told you it was a random selection!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Circle of Life, or Musical Chairs

Mothers' day (or Mothering Sunday, to be completely correct!) was always going to bring with it a mix of emotions this year. It was my first as a mum but also the first without my lovely Granny who lost her battle with lung cancer last November. My grandparents have had a huge influence on me, teaching me the meaning of unconditional love and giving me that feeling of a safe secure base from which to explore life knowing that anything I achieved, however small, would fill them with pride.

Lily is lucky to have all four of her grandparents very much a part of her life and all beginning to teach her about that unconditional love I was so fortunate to experience as a child. Her Nanny said today that she had "moved down a step" now she is a grandmother. I actually prefer to think of it as taking a step up. Or maybe sideways... We are all still fulfilling some of our family roles, maybe as a parent, child or sibling. But with the loss of my Gran and the arrival of Lily we've all shuffled around a bit too, taking on new roles and giving up others. It's taken a few months but we all seem to be settling well into this new pattern and I think having new roles to focus on has certainly helped some of us get through the pain of the roles we've lost.

I have many hopes for Lily's future, but one of the greatest is that she is able to spend time with all four of her grandparents, learning from them and just simply being together. I think sometimes we can underestimate the importance of this relationship but when I look back now I know I would not be half the woman I am today if it wasn't for my grandparents.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Parental Concerns....

I always knew parents worry about their kids, I just never knew how all-consuming that worry can be. It seems that just as I've figured out in my head all the things I need to worry about, something else comes along. Take tonight for example: Lily's not slept well at all the last few nights which we've put down to teething and a cold. In fact yesterday I was so tired after another long night I could hardly move. Tonight was a different story. Teeth are through and cold is all but gone so she slept from bed-time until 1am (back to her old self!) and by the time I got to her she'd fallen back to sleep (now that is unusual!). I woke again at 3.30am and still not a peep. Interestingly, although new parents crave sleep and sleeping through the night is pursued like some sort of Holy Grail, I find it worrying as it's not something Lily's ever really done. So if she does sleep longer than expected I'll lay awake for a while then give in and go to check on her just to satisfy myself all is well. Tonight when I did it I was in for a shock - she'd rolled over and was happily sleeping on her front for the first time! All parents these days are taught the benefits of "back to sleep" with tummy sleeping for newborns being an absolute no-no. Of course this was another gentle reminder that my baby isn't a newborn anymore.... She's growing up fast and is quite capable of rolling herself from back to front and back again. In fact she's getting so good at in she can now travel quite a distance! So next concern is what she will find on those travels..... Gone are the days of putting her down and expecting her to be in the same place a few minutes later.

It's funny - I'm 32 and I know my mum still worries about me! I never realised until I became a mum just how much. It used to drive me mad, but now I'm starting to understand.....

Friday, 1 April 2011

Well here I am....

...finally! My life has changed somewhat over the last year or so and I've been thinking for a while that I should get into blogging, to get some of these new thoughts in order and to record them for the future. I've always liked the idea of keeping a journal but never quite found the time! During one of my now frequent late-night surfings recently, I found myself on Shimelle Laine's website. It's one of my favourites, full of crafting skills I can only aspire to! Her online class, Blogging for Scrapbookers, seemed to be just what I needed to give me a nudge to get into blogging so I signed up and here I am. I'm already a bit behind, signing up a few days late, but I'll do my best to keep up with the daily prompts and fill in with a few ideas of my own as well.

So, for today I will write my intentions for my blog. I want it to be somewhere to record not just the happenings in my life, but my thoughts about events and subjects too. I am always full of ideas for projects, until I actually want to do something and then somehow they disappear, so maybe this will bring some order to those thoughts? I am not going to promise to write every day, or even every week - no need to deliberately set myself up to fail(!) - but I will try to use this when I have something I want to say, or something I want to remember.