Quick Catch Up

Here I am again! Twice in as many days. This is going to be a very random outpouring of news I fear! Sorry in advance – think of it as eclectic!

I’ve entitled this ‘quick’, but in reality it is anything but because my nails have got so long, it’s really hard to type accurately! I was recommended a new nail technician and I’ve been religiously going to her for beautiful sparkly gel nails every three weeks.

These are what I’ve had so far.

The last set had to be less glitterified because I had a very important work event which required professionalism! I’ll tell you more about that enough another time, but suffice it to say, it worked! It led to another work event which happened to be on the day that I was due to get my nails re-done hence they’re now REALLY long! I’m not due to get them done for almost another two weeks, but I will be going for full on sparkle overload ready for the festive season.

What else have I been up to? I did some baking. I bought some fabulous cookie cutters a few weeks ago and I really wanted to try them out, but didn’t want to completely scupper my diet plan so I scoured t’internet for a diet friendly cookie recipe and found one that didn’t break the diet bank.

It swapped sugar for sweetener and only used a small amount of low fat spread instead of butter.

Here they are pre-baking.

They lost some of their shape in the oven but I was still pretty pleased with how they turned out.

I won’t lie, they weren’t as tasty as Millie’s or Maryland cookies, but I was happy enough to offer them to my Dad (sweet things connoisseur) and C when they came to visit.

That visit was a mercy mission for our little Olive. She recently learnt how to hop up on to the banister at the top of the stairs.

Doesn’t she look pleased with herself?

Cats aren’t always as surefooted as they’re reputed to be and our poor Olive slipped off the banister and fell top to bottom, right down to the hall below. We put the cardboard turrets on the posts, as you can see in the photo, but it didn’t stop her jumping up.

So, Dad to the rescue ……

We have a safety shelf to catch floundering felines! Of course, to the best of our knowledge she hasn’t toppled off since it’s been safe to do so, but at least we have peace of mind.

Last weekend was super busy. On Friday I was in London for the annual ISTA (International Steel Trade Association) lunch at the Brewery. I completely forgot to take any photos which is a shame because the food’s always beautifully presented. We enjoyed salmon mi cuit for our first course. I’m glad I didn’t know that mi cuit means half cooked until after I’d eaten it because it would’ve put me off but it was really tasty. The main course was Hunter’s Chicken but it wasn’t Hunter’s Chicken like you get in the pub down the road! It was super posh Hunter’s Chicken and was scrummy. The dessert was pear sponge pudding with ice cream and completed a trio of deliciousness.

The speeches were shorter than usual, which I think was a good thing because the state of the steel industry isn’t good so many more words would just have added to the gloom. The ‘celebrity’ speaker was Dr Phil Hammond, who I’d never heard of, and after hearing him, I think I’ll just forget him again! It was a good day though, I caught up with some old friends, met some new friends and ate some yummy food – what’s not to like?

On Saturday I travelled back down to London. If I’d known further in advance I could’ve stayed overnight on Friday to save all the travelling, but hey, never mind. I’d already arranged with my Dad that he’d drop me at Uxbridge tube station and he’d go to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford whilst I jumped on the tube to South Kensington. Destination? The Royal Albert Hall …

… to watch the Champions Tennis.

I arrived a little early so I had a quick wander around the Prince Albert Memorial statue in Kensington Gardens.

Prince Albert is surrounded on all four corners by representations of Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

I took my seat in the Royal Albert Hall in good time and, whoop, I was on the front row! Great view!

I was slightly disappointed to have a net in front of me, and I experimented with taking photos through the holes, until, that is David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero took to the court and started practising their serves! I’ll take a net on my photos over a one hundred plus mile per hour tennis ball in the nose!

My photos aren’t great because of the net and because the iPhone isn’t great at capturing action photos, but as well as Ferrer and Ferrero …

I also saw Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic …

… playing with Mark Philippousis and Xavier Malisse.

There was also an exhibition doubles with Heather Watson, Martina Hingis, Thomas Enqvist and the ever popular Mansour Bahrami.

I had a great day. Dad, meanwhile had a great day at the Harry Potter Studios. He reported that the studios were dressed for Christmas …

… and he was very impressed with the new Gringotts exhibit which hubby and I saw back in May.

On Sunday we went to the Good Food Show with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and again I forgot to take any pictures! It was a good day though. We sampled lots of gin, cheese and curry and managed not to spend too much money on gimmicks! Last year we all bought frying pans which were supposed to revolutionise our cooking lives. Needless to say, said frying pans ended up in the bin quite quickly when they failed in their promise! I did buy several skinny syrups which I’m now enjoying on my porridge and baked oats in the mornings.

This weekend has been much more about upcoming festivities. On Friday I went to Resorts World to check out the shops and grab a bite to eat, and they’re in full on Christmas mode.

It seemed the right time to get festive at home, so, the decs are up!

So, there you have it. A round up of the last couple of weeks. Hopefully it’s not too disjointed, but if it is,just remember …. eclectic!

Happy birthday to me!

It was my birthday this week. I reached the grand old age of 42. According to Douglas Adams I should now have the answer to life, the universe and everything. I’ve been thinking really hard, racking my brain, think, think, think ….

…. but nope! No nearer to having all, or actually any, of the answers! I’m sure when I was small, people in their forties knew exactly where they were headed in life, knew how to behave in every situation and always knew exactly what to say. Turns out, now I’m here, that either I’ve gone horribly wrong somewhere, or my prepubescent self really wasn’t paying proper attention to adults! I do think that my generation has had a whole load of bumps and twists along the road – super competitive job market, ridiculous housing market, major recession and now the dreaded ‘B’ word – all of which have made getting on in life harder and have massively affected confidence, but hey, on the plus side, and in contrast to my Great Grandparents and Grandparents, we haven’t had a war (despite some politicians seemingly best efforts) so it’s not all bad.

Anyhow, I digress ….. birthday talk!

At one point I thought I was headed for a really depressing birthday making the epic trip back home from my work trip in northern Spain, but luckily the trip was shifted forward by a day so I made that tiresome journey on my birthday eve instead.

I was at work on my birthday but it was my first day back after a week’s holiday and three days away for work, so I didn’t mind being there because it was nice to catch up with everyone and I allowed myself a day off Slimming World so we went to Notcutts for lunch and I treated myself to a jacket potato with tuna mayo and salad with pesto dressing. I know that probably doesn’t sound particularly indulgent, but it’s my favourite lunch which I haven’t had since I started Slimming World at the end of May. I really enjoyed it! I let myself have an orange fondant biscuit from the selection of obligatory birthday sweet things that I took in for my colleagues.

I didn’t open any cards or pressies in the morning because time’s of an essence and hubby was still snoring away when I left so they were all waiting for me when I got home. I always open my cards first and leave the presents till last, and this year was no exception.

Didn’t I do well? Notice all the cats? My friends and family know me well.

I got lots of lovely, thoughtful gifts from my loved ones.

I love everything I was given.

Hubby excelled himself!

I ordered the two project bags from him a couple of weeks ago, along with the new Edward’s Menagerie crochet book which I haven’t got yet because it’s not released until next week but he surprised me with the two biographies. I’d looked at them in WHSmiths a few weeks ago, and he was obviously paying attention!

My Mum sent me a home made bag.

Isn’t she clever! I haven’t decided what I’m going to use it for yet.

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed the Apple Watch draped next to the former First Lady.

Dad (in Birmingham) and I went shopping for this yesterday and I love it! We almost didn’t get one! The first shop didn’t have the silver aluminium finish in stock so we headed off to a shopping centre further away, and found they have a reservation system so they don’t run out of stock, and I got the last available slot! I’m still working it out, but I used it to log my workout this morning and it says in an hour of combat I burnt 577 calories and my average heart rate was 140 bpm, and so far today I’ve done 6504 steps.

My Dad (in Worcester) and C contributed towards my swing chair and also sent me garden centre vouchers which I will very much enjoy spending (I’m considering getting a Pampas Grass, they had lots of it in Spain and the plumes were in full bloom and were so pretty).

We’ve sat on the swing chair a lot since we got it, and have really enjoyed the luxury of swinging back and forth forgetting our troubles and strifes, and whilst it’s raining cats and dogs out there at the moment, I’m staying optimistic that we might get an Indian Summer so we can sit out there a bit more this year. If not, it’ll still be there waiting for us next year.

So, that’s almost it for another year. I have a meal out planned with the girls on Friday so there’s still a little bit of celebration left to look forward to.

Have a great week all!

All about the animals

This week has had a distinctly animal theme, even more so than my normal weeks!

First up I have to mention that it was International Cat Day on Thursday. I remember celebrating this last year while my blog was in its infancy. I didn’t have time on the day this year to do a blog post (because we had a very nice man from Hillaries round to price up some blinds for the bay window in our living room) but I posted this picture on Instagram in recognition.

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The main picture is one of my favourites of our girls. I love how they’re cuddled up together on my Eeyore teddy but both looking round to have their photo taken. Aren’t they beautiful? The kitten picture was taken in the first week that they lived with us and they were already completely settled in (and we were already utterly in love with them). They were eight and a half weeks old here. They were completely fearless as kittens – that didn’t last! These days Tink seeks refuge in the corner of our living room as soon as anyone dares to touch the hoover and Olive makes short work of the stairs in pursuit of safety under our bed whenever anyone knocks on our door!

I’m going to jump back two days now to Tuesday morning. Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook (or pretty much anyone with whom I’ve come into contact this week) will have already heard or read about my hedgehog drama.

I was later than usual leaving the house on Tuesday morning for reasons involving a key, my car bonnet and some chavvy-scumbag-waste of oxygen (that’s the more polite version of the moniker I was using for much of this week!) I don’t know what made me decide to pop down to the greenhouse to check on my tomato plants, but I did and I’m thankful to the God of luck or hedgehogs or fate or whatever it may have been.

As I approached the greenhouse I gasped because there was a hedgehog sitting looking at me. I was so happy for a millisecond as I snapped a photo to see a hedgehog, but almost immediately thought, why aren’t you running away from me? It was moving so I knew it was alive.

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Then I realised it had got trapped in the netting round our strawberry raised bed. Oh no, no, no! I started running around in a similar way to Rabbit when he realises Pooh Bear is a wedged bear in much tightness, and in his front door, no less! I got scissors from the greenhouse and started gently trying to free him.

The netting came away reasonably easily from his back as I carefully snipped away, but as soon as I’d freed him slightly he must’ve got some room to move and he adopted typical ‘I’m a scared hedgehog’ pose and curled up into a ball. I went and put gloves on at this point because I needed to pick him up to detangle the netting from his little feet. I was so scared I was going to hurt him, so I really lightly tugged at the little bit of netting that was left but it came off without having to apply any force.

I put him back down and ran back to the house and got some water and hedgehog food that I was given in my goodie bag from Gardeners’ World Live. I had no idea how long he’d been there so I didn’t know if he’d be hungry and/or thirsty. I sat back and tried to be completely silent so he’d think I’d gone, to see if he uncurled and tried some food or ran away, but he didn’t. I think the poor thing was just petrified after his ordeal.

It was approaching time for me to leave, and I had no idea if he was injured at all, so I decided I’d take him to the vet. If he stayed there curled up all day I didn’t know if a fox or cat or even a squirrel or bird might attack him. I already felt guilty enough for not having been careful enough with the netting in the first place to let this happen, I didn’t want a hedgehog massacre on my conscience too.

Luckily we’ve been somewhat remiss with keeping on top of taking our bigger recycling to the tip, so I had a box in the kitchen.

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I scooped him up and threw in a few hedgehog snacks just in case and trundled up to the vet. I didn’t go to our normal vets because it’s further away and I didn’t want him to be stressed out any longer than necessary. I think he’s upside down in the picture. Poor thing.

I rang the vet later in the day and he’d been walking around and eating. Phew! I offered to collect him and release him back in our garden (now the netting has been safely removed) but they said he’ll go to a hedgehog sanctuary to be monitored for a couple of days and will then be released again. Let’s hope by now he’s happily snuffling around someone else’s garden.

I was a bit concerned in case he was a she, and there are babies around somewhere wondering where their mum’s gone. It seems, according to the oracle that is google, that hoglets are reasonably self sufficient pretty soon after birth so hopefully all is ok. I decided to invest in a camera to install near where I found the hedgehog just to see what might be wondering through and around our garden.

I found this one on Amazon for a pretty good price.

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How irritating! It’s now on a lightening deal reduced by £7.51! Oh well, we wouldn’t have the last two nights’ photos if I hadn’t bought it full price.

I made the mistake of sitting on the swing chair straight after fitting it to the raised bed so we got some pictures of me!

Me in relaxed mode, me in deep social media concentration mode and me joined by the man of the house!

We did however get some pretty decent animal pics. There were several pigeons.

We even got the elusive Jay.

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Not the best of photos but better than anything I’ve managed to get thus far because Jays don’t seem to be as brave as pigeons and magpies. The camera’s set to 5mp so I think I’ll change to the maximum 12mp to try and get some better images.

By the way, have you spotted the deliberate error? I’ve changed the time settings now!

We had a feline visitor. This is a new cat to the area. There are actually two of them, both black and white – siblings I’m guessing – but I think this is just one of them.

We almost got the perfect close up …

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… but only almost!

I’ve saved the best for last.

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What a handsome young fellow!

I’m amazed that we didn’t capture any squirrels because there’s pretty much always one there when you look out. I guess they spend a lot of their time on fences and up higher.

We did manage to catch the Greater Spotted Green Girl Gardener!

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It’s impossible not to get snapped when you go to retrieve the memory card!

Right, I’m off to put the prawn crackers that came with our Chinese tonight up there in the hopes of enticing some wildlife. A bowl of water might be a good idea too. I really want to snap another hedgehog or even a badger. That would be amazing!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks.