Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve 2012 - London

This New Year's Eve, instead of me running the Stake Youth & Families' New Year's Eve Activity (though I did help to plan it), Scott, Lucy, Jack and I headed down to London! I was a bit sad about missing the church event, because we were going to be saying goodbye to the Cain family from Bletchley Ward, who were emigrating to New Zealand.
Anyway, first of all we had taken Harry and Tom to Scott's Mum and Dad's in Rayleigh to stay the night, then we drove to London. Scott had researched where best to park and it all went smoothly and we arrived at about 7.15pm. With our camping chairs, warm clothes and flasks of hot chocolate, we started walking to the embankment, about 20 minutes away, to find a good spot. 

Walking past St. Paul's Cathedral.

When we got the embankment, it was already filling up fast, and we picked a good place pretty much opposite the London Eye, where the main countdown and firework display would be.

We had a lot of hanging around to do, but passed it well enough, then at about 9pm, music started to be played through massive loud speakers all up and down the embankment, and a real party atmosphere began. The weather stayed clear, and we were plenty warm enough.

Lucy with a hot chocolate.

As the time went on, Lucy and I enjoyed dancing, and we also chatted to some of the people around us. Two guys next to us had come from Italy just to celebrate the London New Year. It became totally packed, but never in a scary way. The atmosphere was great!

As midnight approached, the London Eye and tall block next to it had some great colour combinations...

...and then finally the count-down began!!

The very first of the fireworks.

My photos don't do the slightest bit of justice to the overwhelming scale, duration, loudness and sheer utter amazingness of the fireworks... it wasn't just that though - the music was just fabulous, and the quotes of people throughout the year, such as The Queen, Seb Coe, Borris Johnson and David Cameron etc made you feel all patriotic and unified - we were completely captivated and in awe for the entire time!! We just felt like laughing, dancing and exclaiming the whole time! The show lasted for an incredible 12 minutes. It was pretty smoky afterwards!

Then we made our way slowly along the embankment - there were just people everywhere, and we all felt so united and happy! People were calling out to each other, hugging each other, and I think we high-fived a few people along the way. People were pretty drunk though, and there were bottles everywhere. We got back to the car fine, and drove home with no problems or traffic. Scott picked Harry and Tom up from his Mum and Dad's later on New Year's day.

It was certainly an experience anyway! I don't know if we will do it again - it was a long wait beforehand, but I'm so glad to have experienced it once, and especially in 2012, when we had such a good Olympics hosted here, plus the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - it felt like a good year to do it, and for celebrating Britain.
Here are a couple more photos taken from the internet.

This gives a better idea of how many people were there!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas 2012

I had a pretty rough time in the week leading up to Christmas, but on Christmas Eve Scott took Harry and Tom to a play place in the morning, and Lucy and Jack to see 'Life of Pi' in the evening (Jack says it's the best book he's read, and loved the film too.)
I worked hard all day tidying the house and getting things prepared for Christmas day, but I paced myself OK, so I didn't get stressed.
I started to feel Christmassy when Lucy, Jack and I went to Tesco and got some last minute presents. I was really glad! I hadn't felt Christmassy at all up till then.
The tree ready on Christmas Eve.

 Everything prepared for Christmas dinner.

On Christmas Day morning we were just by ourselves, which was lovely. I'd woken up at about 2am and couldn't sleep very well after that! (Excited!)
The kids enjoyed their presents and were calm and happy... And Gary Barlow popped by for a visit...

 (Well... calm-ish...)

Scott with a new handset for his phone!

The lovely aftermath.

Mum and Dad came at about 11am, and we ate at about 2.30pm, and we just chatted and relaxed for the rest of the day. I was so glad it felt Christmassy and special, and not just another day, after a load of stress. Mum and Dad headed home at 7.30pm.

On Boxing Day, we travelled to Mum and Dad's in Nottingham, and stayed for the night. Katy and Dan, and John and Hannah were there too (I'm not sure where we all squashed in!!)
In the evening we went down to Katy's rowing club just by Nottingham Forest football stadium on the Trent. She had the keys to it, and it was empty apart from us.
We had fun on the rowing machines, and had a race which nearly killed us all!

Then we down to the practice boat, and Katy gave us a lesson. It was fun!

After that we had a walk down the Trent, under Trent Bridge, and as far as the Suspension Bridge.

On the 27th December, we just hung out watching telly and chatting, before driving back home, during which Scott and I had a really good talk about deep stuff.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

December 2012

In December, I bought myself some Copic pens - alcohol based felt-tips which blend very well. I just bought a few to start with, and then added to them as I worked out what colours blended best (there are hundreds to choose from.) Here are a couple of stamped images I coloured in with them first, on the 8th December.

Something Maldad (our 'Elf on the Shelf') got up to on 8th December - graffitiing our pictures with white board pens!

On the 9th December, I made a commitment during the passing of the Sacrament at church, that I would properly read my scriptures and pray everyday without fail for the coming week. A week felt perfectly do-able, and I kept to it. The next Sunday, I made the same commitment again. (I'm actually writing this blog post in January 2015, and have continued to make the same commitment every week since. I haven't missed a single day of reading the scriptures and saying my prayers since 9th December 2012.)

On 14th December I had a great time going ice-skating with all the Youth and leaders from church!

On the 16th December it was Tom's 10th birthday. He had had a birthday party on Jack's birthday - the 8th December, but on his actual birthday I didn't get round to making him a birthday cake.
The kids weren't very impressed with this, and jumped on the band wagon of bemoaning every single birthday they had ever had where I had not baked and decorated a cake for them!
They came to the conclusion that if you added together their ages for all the cakes they had missed, it came to 53 years! They decided to make their own birthday cake to celebrate all 53 years, only we didn't have 53 candles, so they had to make do with 68 - 15 candles! I thought it was hilarious!!!
They made a triple layer cake, decorated with chocolate icing, chocolate and fudge sprinkles, and shortbread snowflakes. The masterpiece:
Also on the 16th December, I had to speak at our Ward Youth Fireside. I prepared quite a bit for it, and found it quite a spiritual experience.

Some of the Christmas cards I made this year.

On the 22nd of December Lucy was a bit sad, as she finally filled up her first ever sharps bucket (for insulin needles) and we needed to hand it over to the clinic for disposal. She had decorated it with transport scrapbooking stickers etc, and felt quite sentimental and attached to it!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Impromptu Visit to London (Friday 7th December 2012)

The day started off with blue milk (thanks to 'Maldad', our Elf on the Shelf - named by the kids - Spanish for 'Evil'...) Anyway, I'm not quite sure how it came about, but as Lucy and Jack had no school on Friday, so we decided not to send Harry and Tom either, and went to London for the day instead!

We rang up Tom and Harry's school to let them know, as we were driving to the train station!
Scott and I waiting in a shelter on the platform.

Once on the train, Lucy whipped out a Children's World Atlas from her bag, and we had a very educational journey!

First off we went to see Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books. Our Harry nearly knocked himself out by running full tilt into the wall, and rebounding off it - not quite sure what he was thinking!

Lucy posing near St. Pancr(e)as!! (Excuse the bad Type 1 Diabetic joke!)

We went to the British Library, and had a cool time looking at some of our literary treasures... it is such an amazing place!

We then headed to Tower Hill, and read about this part of the original wall around London, dating from Roman times. Here are the kids with Trajan. (Roman Emperor around the time the wall was built.)

A quick play on the park opposite the Tower of London.

We then took the tube to Canary Wharf in one of the driverless trains.

 We surfaced at Canary Wharf, and had a quick look around and discussion about what they do there.

Walking through some of the posh office buildings...

After that we got the tube to the Isle of Dogs, and walked through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (which was finished in 1902) to Greenwich.

The Cutty Sark. Built in 1869, and one of only three remaining clipper ships built in the 1800's which has a wooden hull on an iron frame. It's the equivalent of a grade 1 listed building.

We then went and looked around the National Maritime Museum, which was free.

Walking up to Greenwich Observatory. It was nice to see the areas used in the 2012 Olympic Equestrian events.

 On the Greenwich Prime Meridian (A Prime Meridian is a line of Longitude defined to be 0.)

 Looking out over London from the Observatory.

After that, we walked back through the lovely Greenwich buildings, had lunch in Subway, then got a catamaran down the Thames.

The light was gorgeous (though it was pretty nippy), and the London land marks looked fantastic. We sat outside the whole way, and got off opposite the London Eye.

Going under Tower Bridge!

 HMS Belfast.

Then we made our way past the Natural History Museum, which was looking gorgeous, and went to the Science Museum.

The kids having a rest on one of the landings in the Science Museum.

We spend quite a while in the Science Museum, with the kids playing with everything.

We then walked down Oxford Street, and got some sandwiches for tea in a little Tesco.

Trafalgar Square.

Eating our sandwiches outside the Canadian Embassy!

We then headed back to King's Cross to get our train home. It was such a good day!! I had no qualms whatsoever about having the boys miss school - they saw so much! (And an added benefit was that we missed the school fair!!) A good eve to Jack becoming a teenager!