Sunday, 26 January 2014

A bit windy! (RIP Trampoline)

Yesterday afternoon (25th January), we were all at home just pottering around, when it got a bit stormy, and we had some hail and the wind picked up. Harry was just commenting that the netting on the trampoline might blow off, because it had unhooked from a couple of the upright posts, so we were all looking at the trampoline when suddenly the wind grew ridiculously strong. The trampoline lifted up slightly, then the next thing we knew the whole thing was up and in next door's tree! Some of our fence went too, and I told the kids to get back from the windows, in case anything else was going to go flying. I've never seen wind like it, and I was worried for the huge fir tree on the right, as it was seriously leaning over our garden.
The wind died back to just normal storm levels, as quickly as it had come. I took this picture out of Jack's bedroom window.
A bit later we ventured out to inspect the damage!
Next door's fence panels were rather damaged too (as well as impaled!), plus a trellis in their garden was damaged, and the trampoline was wrecked! I can't believe the force of the wind! It wasn't like the trampoline had just flipped up and was leaning against something - it was totally bent, with snapped metal.
One of the kids said we'd got a nice big back garden now... ie. the whole field behind us!
Lucy seemed the most upset - thinking of all the good times on it, like sleeping out in a tent on it, etc. (though not really upset - I think we all just thought it was exciting and interesting!)
Scott rang the insurance company, and they will pay for a new trampoline for us, though we'll have to sort out all the fencing (it was a bit rickety anyway though.) The woman at the Insurance company had said that they contact our local meteorological office to check the wind speed, and if it's over 46 mph, then they accept our claim. It turns out the met office said the wind in our area was 48mph, so that was OK for the claim, but NO WAY on earth was it only 48mph in our back garden!!!
A bit later, our neighbours returned home, so we slightly sheepishly went round to tell them. They didn't seem too worried at all, and he and Scott managed to get the trampoline down, by putting a ladder up, and heaving it around. The tree was a bit damaged too. Jack managed a little bounce on the trampoline, though most the springs are snapped!!
So that livened things up yesterday, anyway!

The trampoline this morning...

Friday, 24 January 2014

More of January

This was Harry on Saturday 11th January 2014, after I got back from Gill's... he was busy making 'kebabs' out of straws, Cheerios and grapes!

On Sunday 12th after dinner, we played a game which Carys had given me on Friday to say thanks for the lifts I'd given her. It was a Thorntons chocolate game where you have a spinner and have to do different things depending on the number you land on. It was pretty funny!
Lucy trying to do the 'get the chocolate from your forehead into your mouth without your hands' one!

On Thursday 16th, I had a nice day - I've started doing a monthly card making class for some school and church friends, and this was the day we had picked last month. I'd made some card kits up the day before for people to choose and make, and had got the housed cleared up. We had a nice bunch turn up, and spent the morning chatting and playing! It seems quite popular, so we fixed another date for next month. After that Donna Wright drove Jo and I to a restaurant to meet up with some others to celebrate Zoe Dandridge-Brown's 40th birthday, which was at the weekend. We had a lovely time, and a good laugh.

In the evening I'd been invited to meet up with a girl who I used to go to university with in Birmingham - Michyla Hickling. She knew she would be passing near where I live (we are Facebook friends) on the way to her sister's house, so we'd arranged it.. The plan was to meet at Chiquitos because it's straightforward to get to, then go to a pub to catch up. I'd asked the school Mums earlier where would be a good place to go, and they told me somewhere not too far away. I got to Chiquitos first, and hung around the reception area, then Michyla came and she followed me in her car to the pub. It took ages for us to park as it was dead busy, then when got in there was nowhere really to sit, so we where just hovering when a guy with a microphone came out and started a pub quiz! We thought it was hilarious! We ended up driving back to Chiquitos, and asking if we could just have a table and some drinks, but no food, and they were fine with it. Anyway, we finally got down to having a good old catch-up on our lives and what we've been up to in the 17 or so years since we've seen each other! I always liked Michyla - we were never really close, but she was always nice, and very clever. She's from Nottingham too, and we had met up one university holiday at Holme Pierrepont, the National Watersports Centre, and I'd gone white water rafting with her church group. We had a lovely evening anyway, and were the last ones to leave Chiquitos at about 10.30pm. We're going to meet up again next time she comes to visit her sister (who also has a Type 1 Diabetic son, diagnosed about the same time as Lucy).

On Saturday 18th January, I set off at about 11am with Lucy and Chloe Robertson, for a Seminary Super Saturday in Coventry. On the way we picked up Bethany Doughty and Ashtyn Knight - more of Lucy's church friends.
First of all after registration we all went into a huge school auditorium (which they were hiring for the day, just up the road from the church), and we had some talks including one from Elder Boom, of the 3rd Quorum of the Seventy, from the Netherlands. I loved listening to him, especially to his experiences with the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency.
There were then various activities for the youth. I felt a bit if a spare part - there weren't really many other leaders to talk to, though I chatted a little bit with Anne-Marie Beardsmore from Nottingham, and Joe McMorn the Seminary guy, and helped in the kitchen a bit. I also walked to the nearby Asda to get some food for me and the girls, as we'd not had time for lunch.
I sat with Lucy and her friends for the evening meal, and they were keen to ask me questions about my first boyfriend etc! We then had the seminary meeting, which was good, with Joe McMorn, and Arthur Hardy (who used to be my Seminary guy!)
It was the dance after that, and I just hung around, and chatted a bit more with Anne-Marie, then some more people from our Stake turned up, and I chatted for a bit with Ronnie Redpath from Kettering, and then for the rest of the night with President Hirst. The other girls went back with someone else, and Lucy and I drove back on our own, getting home at about half past midnight.

The next day I went to church in our ward, but had a meeting for a couple of hours with my Counselor, Karen Brock. We had a really good and uplifting talk.
In the evening I took Lucy, Carys and Kirsten Cryer to Northampton for a Stake Youth Fireside (Jack had gone to the Collings' after church, so they took him up.) It was about music, and for the second half we practised a song which the youth have been asked to sing at the Saturday session of Stake Conference in a couple of weeks. Almost all the youth joined in, and it sounded pretty good!
Afterwards, I talked for a bit with President Clayton and President Hirst about the youth programme, then President Hirst stuck around while we locked up the building (scaring the life out of Ben and I by jumping out at us in the pitch black...)

On Monday 20th, in the evening I went with Lucy to her school Parents' Evening. We saw various of Lucy's friends - all who had made loads of appointments with teachers, whilst Lucy had made three! I saw them, and was pretty impressed by how well planned they have things, for example knowing exactly where Lucy is, and what she needs to do in order to push up from and A to an A* for example.

On Tuesday I went Visiting Teaching with Jo Waters, to see Carol Robertson and Pat Hodson. We ended up taking some furniture to the dump for Pat (in our high-heeled boots and skirts, as you do!!)

On Wednesday, Harry had a stomach ache again, so I let him have the day off school. I spent the morning catching up on my journal, and speaking to Mum on the phone, while Harry watched his 'Bear Grylls' films! This is him in the evening using my stamps and ink to make some great train pictures.

Yesterday (23rd Jan) I had a wonderful relaxed day at home. I was pretty up to date with housework, and in the post I got a load of rubber stamps free from a company called Purple Onion Designs, so I can make some cards, which they will use the photos of. Michele the owner also sent me a gift bag of all kinds of sparkly stuff - glitters and embossing powders etc. - a really nice surprise! I played music and crafted most the day, and Jo Blackhurst invited me over for lunch.

And finally today, I did some gospel studying in the morning, and sanded down the living room window sill and painted it, then went to Dawn Cryer's to help her with some housework, because her wrists are still bad. At home I gave the window sill a second coat of paint, then we have had a very quiet evening because Harry is at his friend Oliver's house!
Tonight Scott and I are going out for a meal with Jo and Richard Blackhurst, which we're all looking forwards to.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Busy week

The kids went back to school on Tuesday, and I worked through a big list of stuff, and took the kids up to Youth on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday 8th, I went with Donna Wright and Jo Blackhurst (Mums from school) into Huntingdon, to get some bits for an activity I was running on Friday night, and some storage wallets for all my new dies. We went to Starbucks, then Donna and Jo came back to mine for the rest of the day and we made cards... accompanied by some singing of old school hymns! (When a Knight Won His Spurs etc!) 
In the evening I picked up Jo Blackhurst, and we went to church for a Relief Society activity, where we decorated notebooks to become 'Gratitude Diaries'. The message was beautiful, and we really caught the vision of it, though I didn't end up decorating my book, as I had a really good chat with Hannah Martin all night!

On Thursday 9th I had another big To Do list (including picking up Lucy's prescription and going to the Post Office to post some wrist bands to Oliver Cain - one of the Young Men from church who emigrated with his family to New Zealand. We give out wrist bands each new year to the youth, and he told me recently he had worn the one we gave out last year literally all year!) In the I evening drove myself and Carys Robertson, our Stake Young Women Secretary, to Bedford Chapel for a Youth Committee meeting.

Yesterday (Friday 10th Jan) Harry felt sick and had the day off school. He played pretty happily though, and I spent most the morning on the phone discussing the youth programme with President Hirst. In the evening I drove Carys, Lucy and Jack to Northampton for Seminary Monthly Meeting, and Beehive/Deacon Forum. I was running the Beehive's (name for 12-13 year old girls' group) Forum, and did a card class, making birthday cards for sending to the rest of the girls at church. We got over 40 made! We had to leave a bit early, in order to be back in time to pick Tom up from a friends' house at 10pm (a compromise on him not staying for a sleep-over.)

Today (Sat 11th Jan), I got ready slowly, went to Tesco, made a cheesecake, then drove to Buckingham for 1pm, for a celebration of one of my Counsellors on the Stake Young Women's Presidency's birthday. We had a beautiful meal which we all contributed to, followed by a really wonderful discussion. Gill had asked us each to prepare something on 'celebrating women' - a story, poem, or thoughts about our own womanhood, or women who have inspired us. I only knew a couple of people in the group very well, and some not at all, but it was a really lovely experience - very personal and uplifting. I read out a letter Granny (Jean Flinn) wrote to me not long before she died, with her story of how she joined the church. Grandpa never joined, and she raised her three sons in the church by herself.
Here we all are. (Taken with my camera on self-timer!)

I got back just after 6pm. Everyone was playing happily, and Jack went out for a pizza night with his church class to Emma Wade's house - the Youth Sunday School Teacher.
I had a message on Facebook from a girl I met at University, who I haven't seen for many years, suggesting we meet up next week, as she is driving past not too far away - so that's nice!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Rest of the Christmas Holidays

On New Year's day I pretty much spent most the day in bed, feeling rubbish with a new cold. The kids were all happy just playing and being at home, so it wan't a problem. Scott did very little too, but had to go back to work on Thursday 2nd. 
Also that week I made a few cards with my new things, and we took all the decorations down, and gave the place a thorough dust! Phew!! Nothing nicer than de-cluttering the place!

On Friday 3rd, Harry rubbed out the 'Christmas List' which Lucy had put on the chalk board, and made his own list: Snow ball fite, Snow Angles (Angels!) and Snow Men. He is impatient for some snow, and has commented on the lack of it a few times.
Harry's been playing with Lego a lot, and also on the 3rd, he built this bank vault, with lots of treasure in, and some red laser security light-beam things, guards and a thumbprint pad. He had asked for some Lego gems for Christmas, and has enjoyed them!
The boys have been enjoying technology too - Jack on his new iPod Touch, Tom on Jack's old iPod, and that has meant that Harry can play 'Clash of Clans' on Scott's iPad, now that Tom's account isn't on there any more! I also bought Harry some Bear Grylls (explorer/survivalist) DVD's for Christmas, and a series on Mountain Climbing - all of which he has loved.
We had a fairly quiet weekend too, which was needed, as a few of us weren't feeling great. I've not been able to sleep a lot in the nights, with sore throat, painful sinuses, coughing etc, and so have been pretty tired. Lucy felt rough too, and got so fed up of blowing her nose on Sunday that she just sello-taped some kitchen roll to her head!
Monday 6th was the last day of the holidays for all the kids. When I came down in the morning, Harry and Tom had built this 'toy car art' in the living room. I love it!
Lucy helping to show it to scale... whilst eating some Blondies she had made.
I then drove Lucy and five school friends the half hour to the ice skating rink, and was talked nearly to death by one of her friends, Dan!
We had a nice last day. Tom spent some time at his friend William's house, and we had my nephew Ethan come over and play for a bit. For once, I wasn't all that eager to pack the kids off back to school!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year's Eve 2013

We got relatively unpacked and cleaned up on the 30th, and I was glad because on New Year's Eve, I got some post which I wanted to give some attention to!! One of the craft product designers in America who I know, sent me a bundle of new paper cutters with a retail value of nearly $400, for me to make some cards with, which she wanted a few photographs of for a trade show later in January. In the way that Harry's eyes light up at the sight of new Lego - I am the same with this!
One of the cards I made using a new pop-up bench cutter, and tree cutter:
I couldn't spend too long playing with paper though, as I needed to get things ready for the Stake Youth New Year's Eve activity. I made a huge pot of chilli, plus got some other activities ready. 
We picked up Georgia - Lucy's school friend, and Kirsten, my niece, and got to Northampton for 6pm to open up the building and get decorating the hall and setting things up.
The evening started at 8pm with a meeting in the Chapel, where the worldwide Youth theme for 2014 was introduced - 'Come unto Christ'. Amongst others, Jack and his friend Ethan Collings both spoke on the theme for a couple of minutes each.
We spent the rest of the evening playing on the equipment we had hired, and chatting and eating!
I didn't take any pictures of the evening - these are borrowed from Jo Waters.
Here is Jack on the bouncy castle with some of his best friends: Scott, Joel, Ethan, Xander, Sam and Jonah.
James Marinelli and I on the pugil sticks.
Jack and Joel.
In the morning, to keep the kids out of mischief I had drawn the big 'Happy New Year' poster in the top right-hand corner of this picture, and got the kids to paint it (though I think Lucy ended up doing most of it!)
We had a count-down to midnight and a live feed from The London Eye, let off our party poppers, then did the usual thing of attempting to sing Auld Lang Syne, whilst not really knowing any of the words! It was pretty fun, anyway!
I was last to leave at just after 1am, after finishing cleaning up the building, and I was exhausted. I could feel myself getting ill on the drive home, and wasn't the least bit impressed. I've been ill on and off (mainly on) ever since the end of September, with colds, nausea, headaches etc, and I'm getting fed up of it, and of feeling so run-down and tired out.
I do love this time of year though, and always feel enthusiastic to review my life, and think about new goals and priorities. I've got a list that I'm excited about (and in case you hadn't guessed, getting going with my blog again is on there!)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Nottingham - 28th & 29th December 2013

On the 28th, we packed up the car (again!) and left the Travelodge in Bangor at about 10am, and drove the three or so hours to Nottingham. We planned to spend some time with my brother Robin and his family, while using Mum and Dad's empty house. We picked up the house keys from Robin and then went to Mum and Dad's to start getting the place warmed up a bit. IT WAS FREEZING. 
Scott went with Robin in the afternoon to go and look at a car to buy, and I took the kids for a walk up to the Avenue to do a bit of shopping. 
Robin's Mondeo Estate had completely died, and he was borrowing a work car, but was getting a bit desperate to find a good new one. He didn't end up buying the one they went to look at though.
In the evening we went over to Robin and Niki's and had another present opening time! Niki had cooked us a gorgeous, massive lasagne for tea, and we had a great time.  
Later on when the kids were in bed, Lucy babysat, and Scott and I picked up Niki and we went to Asda to get some bits for a buffet lunch the next day. Niki and I had a super time looking at all the sale stuff in great detail, while Scott waited patiently!

After a cold night (the heating had as yet made very little impact on Mum and Dad's house!) we went to church in Nottingham 1st Ward. I wanted to visit Aunt Dot, who I thought would still be in hospital following an operation this week, and was going to ask her family at church about visiting times. Elardo, her husband, greeted us at the door though, and said that Aunt Dot was at church!! I couldn't be more happy to see her! She's not my real Aunt, and is one of the best people I know in the world - always happy and kind. She's had cancer for about 13 years now, and has just been amazing.
She left after Sacrament meeting, and I got a bit upset, as possibly it will be the last time I see her. They aren't going to be treating her cancer any more, as it has spread too far.
It was also lovely to see lots of other people I don't see very often. (At least Facebook lets me keep up-to-date a bit better with some of them now!)
After church everyone came back to Mum and Dad's and we had a lovely big buffet lunch, which Niki organised. It was nice just hanging out and chatting, and the kids all played nicely. 
Heidi on Lucy's lap.
 Not sure what Scott and Robin were laughing at!
We planned to go home later that day, but then Robin found a car he wanted to go and see about an hour away the next morning, so we stayed another night (not quite so cold... heating finally starting to take effect!) so that Scott could drive them out to it. The kids and I had a lovely chilled out morning, and gradually packed and cleaned up, and happily Robin bought the car (another silver Mondeo Estate!)
Back at home we then spent another cold evening while our house warmed up after a week away, but it was nice to be home! Tom especially was happy because the camera he had ordered with his birthday money had arrived!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Snowdon (27th December 2013)

On December 27th, we had a lovely lazy lie-in, but by 10.30am I still hadn't heard from Scott's hotel room (which considering we had all the breakfast food in my room, was slightly unusual!) Anyway, it turned out that Harry had started feeling ill last night, and then been sick ten times through the night, so they didn't get much sleep! Poor Harry. (And Scott and Jack.)
I had all the kids in my room for a few hours then, and everyone was perfectly happy just watching telly and reading, and Harry wasn't sick any more. It looked horrible outside as well - really windy. In the afternoon we decided we should probably get out and at least go to one place - either go round the inside of Caernarfon Castle, go back and explore Anglesey a bit more, or go to Snowdon. The kids wanted to do Snowdon, so we took the scenic route there...
We parked at the Pyg Track car park, by about 2.30pm, and just decided to walk for a bit and see how Harry felt.
It was lovely being out in the mountains with the lovely views, and it didn't seem too cold or windy. The kids were happy, running ahead.
We went about a third the way up Snowdon, but the light was starting to fade, so I thought we'd better head back.
We all saw the second Hobbit film at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, and I felt like I was in the film, with this kind of scenery!
Jack trying to catch sheep...
We then went back to the hotel, having really enjoyed ourselves, then went along to the Little Chef restaurant for tea. They had Wifi there, so we all spent a bit of time catching up with things. Another nice chilled out evening.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Boxing Day 2013

On Boxing Day, we had to pack up and clean our lovely temporary home in preparation for the Murrays returning. Before we started we were kind of like 'it's a good job they aren't coming back and seeing the place right now...' It's amazing how fast you can make a mess somewhere!

We got Dan to take a picture of the family... our first one in years which hasn't been taken by me, of us all in a mirror! (Underground car park in Durham, top of the Blackpool Tower and Paris Opera House have been our last lot of mirrored family pictures!!)
I also had to take a snap of our lovely bathroom!
We said goodbye to Mum and Dad, and Katy and Dan's family, and left Chorley at about 11am, and drove the couple of hours to Bangor, North Wales. Our satnav as we drove past Colwyn Bay:
We stopped off at our Travelodge in Bangor first, but were too early to book in, so we went to Morrisons supermarket to stock up on food for breakfasts and lunches for the next two days. We then drove to Caernarfon Castle, and made some lunch. Our car was ridiculously full! We were kind of proud for the car to be in yet another new place!
We then had a walk around the castle. (Unfortunately we were a day early for it to be open to visitors.)
Lucy trying to get onto her stump...
Did it at last - long after the boys left!
I had stuck in my mind, a picture I'd seen of us Flinn kids standing on a bridge in front of Caernarfon Castle, years ago. I got my kids on the bridge to take a picture too...
When I got back home, I looked on Facebook, where Mum had put some scans of old family photos, and found the one I was thinking of. Here it is! I was impressed I'd taken one so similar - I hadn't realised all the kids where in it and Dad too! Mine is pretty close! This one below was taken in August 1993 when I was 18.
Our car outside the old Harbour Offices.
We then walked right over the bridge to explore the other side. I got excited when I saw signs to 'Coed Helen' campsite. We had stayed on that campsite in 1993 and 1994 with the Devines, and had great holidays here!
Over the bridge we walked up the hill to the tower on the top.
Then we stopped at the park on the way back.
I took this photo to remind us of Lucy and Jack sitting on the swings about 20 metres away from Scott and I on a bench, and them phoning and texting us repeatedly to ask if we could go and see 'Frozen' at the cinema that night (we never did), and us hanging up on them etc. Don't know why this amused us so much, but it really did!
What happened to Harry when he decided to squash himself in between Lucy and I!
Walking back to the car.
On the way out of Caernarfon I made Scott stop in a car park (actually two car parks, because the first one had no view!) so that I could take this picture of the castle from across the water. It's such a large castle that it's hard to get a picture of it up close. There's been a castle here from the late 1000's.
We then went on a little drive around, through Bangor, and over the Menai Suspension Bridge onto Anglesey (where my Dad lived for a bit).
We drove along the coast of Anglesey till we got the next bridge back to the mainland. I like this view looking back to the suspension bridge.
We then headed back to our two Travelogde rooms, which we love staying in... they are pretty basic but have everything we need, perfectly. Lucy and Tom were in my room, with the others across the corridor.
We had a wonderful time completely vegging out, and reading, editing photos, watching superb TV such as the 'Eddie Stobart' trucks programme (associated only with Tavelodges, for our kids!!), then we had planned to go to the Little Chef restaurant which was attached to the hotel, for tea. When we got there though it had shut early, so we climbed back in the car and drove around Bangor looking for somewhere to eat. The only places in the whole city that were open (including supermarkets) were a take-away Pizza place and a McDonalds. I was slightly mortified by having our Boxing Day meal in McDonalds, but we had a nice time, and then went back to our hotel for some more relaxing. I had a lovely bath, reading one of Lucy's books, then we went to bed pretty early.