Friday, 31 May 2013

May Happiness

Five things which have made me smile this month...

1. Successfully completing Rosalilium's 'blog every day in May challenge".
A full list of all the challenge blog posts can be found here if you fancy a read.
Blog Every Day in May

2. Booking tickets to see the awesome Russell Kane on his new tour for January next year.
Amazingly he's playing a small theatre in the next town and we've got 5 (very brave) seats in Row C!
Russell Kane Smallness Tour
Image courtesy of

3. A lovely night out with friends for a meal and a book launch - blogged about for Day 14 of the challenge.
Clandestine Cake Club book display

4. Several pieces of vintage-looking china picked up at a car boot sale for 20p each.
Vintage china

5. Wading through the long list of shows I'd like to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
So far my list contains 49 ideas - we're only there for 5 days!
Edinburgh Fringe Festival spreadsheet

What little things have made you happy this month?


New Project - The Bonjour, Blogger June Comments Challenge

After completing the lovely rosalilium's 'blog every day in May' challenge, I've now signed up for a new project - the Bonjour, Blogger June Comments Challenge.
Bonjour Blogger June Comments Challenge
The challenge - leave 5 comments every day (or 35 each week) on other bloggers posts.
I always try and leave comments wherever I can - if I've got something to add or some interesting anecdote or snippet of info - so on paper the task sounds rather easy.
However I have a feeling it will be much more challenging than I think!
I'll try and post each night with the 5 blog posts I've commented on - sharing the blog love! :-)

Day 31 - One Whole Month

Day 31 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
One Whole Month
(Hoorah! Well done, you have made it through the month. How was it for you? Did you learn anything? What did you enjoy? What did you dislike? Sum it all up!)

Woohoo! We made it! One whole month of blog posts!

Random picture of celebratory fireworks...

After a bit of a dodgy start (I wasn't exactly expecting my father to have a stroke after Day 1), here we are, Day 31 of rosalilium's 'blog every day in May' challenge.

I've really enjoyed the month, it's certainly been a challenge taking the time to put together each blog post and thinking about which angle to take for each day's topic. I've discovered some great new blogs to follow and have been really inspired by the variety of different ways everyone has interpreted each day.

I've learnt a lot about planning and scheduling my posts; managed to tweak bits of my blog; add some social icons and have been thinking a lot more thoroughly about how, when and where to take photographs.

Some of my favourite posts to research and write were these...

Day 14 - Food Glorious Food - This post coincided brilliantly with a visit to ASK Italian and a book launch event for the Clandestine Cake Club.

Day 15 - Life's A Lesson - I'd forgotten how good Baz Luhrman's Sunscreen song was; strange listening to it 15 years on and realising that it's all true...

Day 21 - Dream Job - After tweeting about my dream job, Professor Vanessa Toulmin retweeted me and invited me to her archive!

 Day 28 - Bad Advice - A very personal blog post with some good advice for others!

I hope some of what I've written over the past month has been interesting, amusing or even just okay, and no-one has been too bored.

Just have to figure out what on earth we're all going to write about now!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Car Boot Bargains

The steam rally we attended last weekend was made all the better beacuse the field opposite hosts a car boot sale every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays!
Car boot sale
Saturday morning me and the mother-in-law ventured across and came back with some annuals (to add to my burgeoning collection), some Ladybird books, some cards and a shirt for Andrew.
Sunday morning me and Andrew strolled over but the day wasn't fortuitous and we came back empty handed.
And Monday morning, we found a house clearance stall selling everything in boxes on the floor for 20p each - managing to pick up some vintage-looking crockery for pennies.
Postcards and vintage maps
Birthday cards for 50p each - will be saved for Father's and Father-in-law's birthdays in September
Old maps for £1 each - Torquay was where Andrew spent many childhood holidays and Merseyside is where my Mother's family are from
Ladybird books
Fabulous Ladybird books! Andrew's a mechanical engineering technician so I thought the Metalwork book might teach him a few things! :-)
Judy and Bunty annuals
More annuals to add to my collection - all at £2 each
Vintage china
Vintage china
Vintage china
Beautiful crockery for 20p - and a little ceramic pot pourri bird for 50p

Day 30 - Who Inspires You?

Day 30 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
Who Inspires You?
(Who inspires you? Are they close to you? Somebody famous? Or even somebody infamous?)

I found this particular topic really difficult - there's lots of people I admire but is that the same as inspiring?

Two teachers (Mr McMahon, English and Ms Lewis, drama) and the school librarian at secondary school certainly helped develop me into the person I am today.

I really admire Rowena Cade, the woman who almost single-handedly built Cornwall's Minack Theatre and created such a magical atmosphere in a spectacular place.

And as soft as it sounds, Andrew helps encourage me to try new things, take on new challenges and gives me strength and confidence when it's needed.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Day 29 - Morning Ritual

Day 29 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
Morning Ritual
(Tell us about what you do every morning to help you get ready for the day ahead.)

My morning ritual starts about 7.15am when I reach a sleepy hand out of bed to hit the snooze button on my clock radio.

Clock radio with snooze on

Then after 10 minutes or so of snoozing, at 7.25am it's time to actually get out of bed and start getting ready for the day ahead.

Clock radio playing 6 Music

Between 7.30am and 7.45am it's time to freshen up, shower, clean and do all the usual bathroom-related ablutions. Don't look too closely at the clock - on this day I was running a bit late!

Bathroom washbasin

Shower cubicle

At 7.50am I head over to my wardrobe to pull out whichever outfit I've decided on for that day.

Dresses in the wardrobe

Then it's back to my dressing table to pack up my handbag and slap on a small amount of warpaint. By the way I don't have an unhealthy obsession with Avon products, it's just that I am also a (ding dong) Avon lady so have a lot of spare products to use!

Make up basket
Handbag and notebook ready for work

By 8.05am I'm heading downstairs where hopefully, Andrew has ready a piece of toast, some cereal or taken out my pre-prepared fruit smoothie from the fridge.

Travel cups of tea and coffee

Picking up our travel cups of tea and coffee, at 8.10am we're heading out the door and onto our journey to work!
(blogged about on Day 17)

The Midweek Hop - Ride Your Woodie to the Surf

A weekly musical feature inspired by Desmond Carrington's 'The Music Goes Round'
'Balami I200' 1957 Jukebox
'Balami I200' 1957 Jukebox

This weeks theme is...Ride Your Woodie to the Surf
Inspired by the very last ever Run To The Sun (RTTS) Festival, held last weekend near Newquay.
1. Little Deuce Coupe by The Beach Boys

Early 1960's California - hot rods, sunshine, surfing and plenty of girls!
'Little Deuce Coupe' was the B-side to 'Surfer Girl' which entered the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart on 3rd August 1963 reaching Number 7

2. Wipeout by The Surfaris

A wipeout is a spectacular fall from your surfboard; The Surfaris certainly stayed afloat riding high in the chart!
'Wipeout' entered the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1963 reaching Number 2

3. Pipeline by The Chantays

The classic Hawaiian wave - the one every surfer wants to ride...
'Pipeline' entered the chart on 18th April 1963 reaching Number 16

Happy listening!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Day 28 - Bad Advice

Day 28 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
Bad Advice
(What is the worst advice you have ever received?)

Unfortunately me and Andrew have been receiving bad advice quite regularly over the last 18 months.

After being married for 5 years and settled with a house and mortgage, back in December 2011 we decided to try and make a duckling baby.  A year and a half on we now know there's several medical reasons why we still haven't managed to start our family yet but thankfully we're under the care of our local fertility clinic and on a journey that will most likely end in IVF.

Pregnancy test displaying 'you're mental'
 Source: 'Making Babies on the NHS'

But when you're having "problems" as other people so delighfully refer to it, there's plenty of assvice (as infertiles like to call it) that society is happy to dish out.

So here you go... 10 things never to say to a couple having trouble conceiving!

1. I understand exactly how you feel! It took us a whole 3 months to get pregnant!
(yes, of course, you understand EXACTLY)

2. You're soooo lucky not to have kids.
(really? shall we swap your life for mine?)

3. Trying to get pregnant is the fun part!
(obviously you've never tried to get pregnant)

4. Well, my sister/aunt/neighbour never had children and she had a wonderful life.
(well, good for her)

5. Just have lots of sex!
(of course! why didn't I think of that?)

6. Well you can always adopt.
(yes, that's true...but it's not exactly the same)

7. You must have such a fab life - being able to go out all the time!
(see answer to number 2)

8. Just stop trying and it'll happen.
(clearly you have no idea about science or medicine)

9. You'll be a great mum/parent!
(you think we don't know that? thanks for rubbing it in)

10. (and the worst of all)  You just need to relax!
(words fail me...)

Just to make it clear for everyone (so I don't sound all bitter and twisted!), I am fine about it - our situation has been going on for so long and with so many problems, we can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all!

Couple walking with balloons
Image via Pinterest
If you know the original owner, please let me know and I'll credit it properly.

This (long) Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Enjoying - the (unexpected) lovely sunshine for bank holiday weekend!

This was our weekend over at Selwood Steam Rally...

Sunset over Selwood Steam Rally
A beautiful sunset over the Wiltshire countryside

Scammell lorry decorated for a wedding
This Scammell lorry had a special event to attend on Saturday afternoon - taking a newly-married couple from the church to the reception
Vintage cars
Gleaming vintage cars
Children enjoying swingboats
Children enjoying the swingboats in the sunshine

Shiny Gardner 6LW engine
The sparkling engine inside Andrew's lorry
British flag on the front of a Scammell lorry
A view from the cab of the lorry
Gleaming wheel hub on a vintage car
Every last bit of each car was polished to perfection
Steam engine
Steam engines working hard entertaining the crowd
Vintage vehicles
Some of the vintage commercial vehicles on display
Andrew polishing his lorry
A lorry driver's work is never done!
What did you get up to at the weekend?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 27 - Secret Talent

Day 27 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
Secret Talent
(What are you good at that nobody knows about? Tell us all about it.)

This isn't so much "something I'm good at nobody knows about" more something I've been told I have a talent for and would (sort of) like to develop.

On Day 1 of the' blog every day in May' challenge, one of my five lines was that I have driven lorries, old and new.

The 'new' was a Ladies Driving Challenge event I took part in a couple of years ago, raising money for a great cause - Marie Curie Cancer Care. The challenge was that females were let loose on an old Second World War airfield and tasked with driving 'typically-male' vehicles such as fire engines (yes, we did get to drive with real firefighters!), artic lorries, coaches, doing a fast Police car chase and reversing an artic lorry into a parking space.

Duck driving a coach

Duck reversing an artic lorry

I was told that I had a talent for driving the artic lorry and should even think about taking my HGV test!

The 'old' is the talent I'd like to develop and it'll be going on my own '32 before 32' list (more info to follow shortly...) - that is, to practice driving Andrew's 1952 lorry.

Duck driving Andrew's vintage lorry

I started this weekend at Selwood Steam Rally, driving it in and out of the show arena.

Duck driving Andrew's vintage lorry

I'm not sure I'll ever have the confidence to drive it along a main road, but if I can help a bit at each steam rally, then that's something.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Day 26 - Fantasy Dinner Party

Day 26 of rosalilium’s 'blog every day in May' challenge
Fantasy Dinner Party
(Dinner Party Time - Who would you invite? What music is playing? What are you eating? Is there entertainment? Let your imagination go wild!)

Wow - let your imagination go wild - that's a very big topic, there's a lot of choice!

I'm going to assume the dinner party has 8 guests and hopefully I'm allowed to bring back a few people from the dead...

Me and Andrew also had a heated argument discussion about who to invite so we've decided to both have our own dinner parties.

First dinner party!
(and I apologise, it is a very random selection)

Duck's fantasy dinner party guests
Tim Minchin - Deborah Devonshire - Rowena Cade
Mike Shepherd - My friend M
Lorraine Pascale - Roger Deakin - Ed Byrne
(links to original sources above)

So I have Tim Minchin for his views, his music and just himself; Deborah Devonshire (the last Mitford sister) as I bet she could tell some tales about debutantes and her sisters; Rowena Cade (reincarnated), the amazing woman who built Cornwall's Minack Theatre in the 1920's; Mike Shepherd, founder of Cornwall's Kneehigh Theatre Company for his theatrical stories from the last 30+ years; My lovely friend M, for fabulous company; Lorraine Pascale for the catering; Roger Deakin (reincarnated) for his stories of living in the countryside and swimming Britain's rivers; and Ed Byrne for comedy and laughs.

Hopefully Tim would provide some music, Ed would make some jokes and Lorraine would bring her Glam Mac and Cheese.

Not sure how everyone would get on, but hey ho, it's my party!

And here is Andrew's - looks a bit different to mine!

Andrew's fantasy dinner party guests
Leonard Cheshire - Victoria Coren - Henry Royce
Ian Hislop - Agatha Christie
Tony Benn - Robert Stepenson - Nigella Lawson
(links to original sources above)

Methinks Andrew's dinner party is a tad more intellectual than mine!

Who would you choose for a fantasy dinner party?

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