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Let me take a photo of you…

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“Let me take a photo of you and E”.
That’s what my mum said today.
Being a single mum, I rarely have pictures of me and the children together.
So Mum kindly volunteered to take a picture of me and my daughter.

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We had a few false starts…

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But got there eventually!

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Camera phone’s take some getting used to. My mum hates mine! But I’m glad she persevered as it’s a lovely picture :)

Just need one of me with my son next!

Zombieland

Zombieland has rapidly become one of my favourite films. I saw it for the first time around March this year and liked it so much, I re-watched it two days later.

It had been on Netflix. I loved it so much, I then bought it on DVD. You know, in case it was taken off Netflix..

What’s to like?

I like the comedy. The timing is immaculate. The hero is rubbish, at the beginning. You know he will come through as the hero sometime, but when?

I think the way Columbus makes up rules of survival in order to try to create order from chaos rang bells for me. I love a good list and often use lists to try to make sense of, and control my life when it feels like it’s not heading where I planned.

Bill Murray’s cameo had me crying laughing. In fact I laughed throughout most of the film.

Zombieland – just bloody fantastic!

Troutbeck Cottage B&B

For my family holiday this summer I’m going up to Northumberland, but as it’s rather a long way (especially with two travel-sick prone children) I’m breaking the journey part way near Carlisle.

Me and my parent’s looked at various options to break the journey before we stumbled across the details for Troutbeck Cottage B&B in Warwick Bridge. It’s not far from the M6, just off the A69.

The prices were reasonable and it seemed ideal for our needs, so we booked a double room for my parents and a family room for me, E and M.

We arrived and were shown around by the welcoming proprietor, Sally. We enquired about places to eat nearby that were child friendly and Sally produced menu’s from local pubs that were suitable. We chose the Lane End Inn  www.laneendinnhayton.robinsonsbrewery.com about 2 miles further along the A69.

The food there was excellent, and the staff were welcoming and friendly. The food is prepared on the premises and it really shows! My mum and I managed to slurp our way through a bottle of the house red (well priced at £12 a bottle). We all enjoyed our meals, and the children loved theirs too. Sometimes when I eat out with my children, I feel like the children’s menu is just an assortment of crap from the bottom of the freezer. This was definitely not the case at Lane End Inn. The fish fingers E had were huge and clearly homemade. M had pizza slices and chips which again, were all homemade. The pizza slice was possibly the nicest tasting I’ve had in years! (I was forced to sample it 😉 not that I minded) Children’s meals were a good price ( £5 for a main with chips, peas or beans, a glass of cordial and two scoops of ice cream) and really generous portions. My mum and I shared a dessert of Eton Mess which was delicious and packed with fresh strawberries. E swiped a fair old amount of our dessert too!

After our meal, I gave the children a lesson in playing pool in the adjoining room as we finished our drinks. The pool table was free to play on, which was a nice surprise.  Then we headed back to Troutbeck Cottage for the night.

The family room that I had booked is spacious and well laid out. There are two single beds and one double, a television, wardrobe, dressing table and tea making facilities. I especially love that actual decent sized glasses and cups are provided. Not just that…. Actual wine glasses too! Although I don’t need them on this occasion, the number of times I’ve ended up drinking wine out of a tea cup in hotels, this seems very civilised indeed!

Troutbeck Cottage - they think of everything!
Troutbeck Cottage – they think of everything!

There is also an en suite shower room, which is spotlessly clean and contains fluffy towels, shower gel and shampoo, soap and flannels etc.

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I’m writing this post while tucked up in bed drinking camomile tea, and I have to say, it’s a very comfortable bed! Both children are now sound asleep. The room has a blackout blind and thick curtains which is great if your children struggle to settle while it’s still light. There is some traffic noise, but I’d be astonished if there wasn’t as the B&B is situated well for just hopping off the A69. I can confidently say that the traffic hasn’t bothered E & M and I’m positive it won’t bother me.

I’ve filled out a form for each of us regarding what we would like for breakfast and I’m already expecting fabulous things!

So on that note.. Goodnight all

 

 

Trentham Gardens

My family tend to arrange days out together throughout the year. We utilise Tesco clubcard vouchers as much as possible in order as with eight of us in total, the price of a day out can rapidly escalate.
Last month we arranged a night away in Stoke on Trent. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was lovely. We had booked two family rooms, which included dinner, bed and breakfast with the children eating free.
We spent the Saturday when we arrived at Trentham Gardens, using Tesco vouchers to pay for our tickets.
Walking up to the estate entrance you pad through a shopping village area. We did not get to look around this at all as we were looking to enjoy the gardens with the children, but there was a good range of independent and small chain shops there.

Trentham gardens are set around a lake designed by Capability Brown. There was originally a manor house overlooking the lake, but sadly this has fallen into terrible disrepair. This website here has images of the original hall.
We spent a lovely day strolling around the lake looking for the many wire work fairies that are dotted around the grounds. This proved an excellent way to keep the three children in our group moving onwards!

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The adventure playground in the estate is excellent and all three children (ages 7, 9 and 9) had a great time playing there while the adults relaxed on a bench under some trees.
It’s a place I definitely want to return to. Soon!

Trentham Gardens Website

A week at my parent’s house

I’m extremely lucky to have a very close knit family. My parents live just around the corner from me and they help me out a lot!
Having a long term health issue does sometimes make me dependent on others, as much as I hate to admit that. My parents are thankfully around to assist as needed.
After a busy weekend away with my family recently, I had a recurrence of my disc problems in my lower back and ended up being signed off work for a while so it could settle. Although I was able to hobble about slowly, I was in a huge amount of pain and managing with my two children was just too difficult.
Once they went their dad’s house for a few days, I upped sticks and moved into my parents house with them.
I know that is a situation that a lot of my friends would cringe at, but it was absolutely fine, as I knew it would be.
How do we manage this?
Well, obviously, yes I am their daughter, but we tend to now have a relationship based on mutual respect of one another as adults rather than just a parent-child relationship.
This is crucial.
It would be impossible for me to be living in their house for a week at my age and yet be treated as a child. I’m still their child, but I’m also a grown woman, with her own home, car, job and children.
I’ve had a lovely week. I’ve been well looked after, I’ve endeavoured to be a good house guest (also crucial! Yes, they’re my Mum and Dad but I can’t expect them to pander to me and still retain their respect).
My children and nephew were here too for the last three days which brought noise and chaos to the house!
All in all, is been lovely. However I’m happy to be well enough now to be returning home later today

Relationships

Leaving a marriage which his broken down is hard. Really bloody hard.
No one gets married thinking “I’ll settle down for a bit and then probably we will divorce and life will carry on”.
Marriage is all about the optimism. That at the time in your life you honestly believe that this other person will make you happy, and you will make them happy, for the rest of your life. Having that not work out is devastating no matter what.
At least it was for me. I spent a lot of time trying to make it work ” for the kids ” etc. I can honestly say that I tried far more and for far longer than I should have.
So, with those battle scars I am naturally even more cautious in matters of the heat.

So it’s taken me a while to let my guard down, and even now I can’t say in all honesty that I’ve completely relaxed. But I’m definitely getting there.
My relationship now is very different to any I’ve been in before. But then I suppose I’m a different person now.
Being involved with someone new when you have children adds extra challenges to a relationship. Thankfully my children have really taken to my boyfriend and I think (hope!) that his children like me as much as I like them.

When my boyfriend and his children come to stay for a few days I love it! A house full of children – we have six in total- with lots of laughter and fun.  I just wish we could spend more time together!

Tax Credits – The Panic

Since my divorce I have needed to claim working tax credit and child tax credit in order to survive financially. I’ve been a tax payer since age 17 so claiming money back, as opposed to paying it, is a new experience for me.
I don’t particularly like it, but it’s necessary and I’m working hard on re-starting my career post-children so in the long term I’m hoping not to be a claimant for long. As it is, I’m already back paying tax again, albeit to a small degree!
I had a pay rise this year. Yay!
Which meant I had to call the tax credits helpline to update my income. I did so and after the horror of the automated phone system (honestly! Who thinks of these things? Bloody awful) I got my new award notice in the post today.
I glanced at it, looked at the bit where it said “you have been overpaid” and promptly panicked.
Overpaid?! How? I had to go out then to collect my children. The whole time I was out my brain kept returning to the tax credits letter. Overpaid? I owed how many hundred pound. Money I just do not have!

I got home and re-read the letter. Ah! They had carried on adding my self employed money from the previous tax year. Money I no longer received. Thank goodness for that.
I’ve called and corrected it now. But part of me is still anxious. I won’t know until next week whether I have actually been overpaid or not.
I really loathe not knowing exactly where I stand with my finances.