Wednesday, 26 April 2017

101 days

"Don't worry, it's only 101 days until the next official holiday," said I to my horrified colleague, as we returned from the Christmas break. (Not sure if colleague was horrified at the thought of 101 days until the next holiday, or the fact I had actually counted the days.)
I was referring to Easter. The holiday where it is socially acceptable to eat huge chocolate eggs every day. Not surprising, it's one of my favourite times of the year.
I'm also in love with Easter as it sits in Spring, a season sprinkled with blossom and new beginnings.
I am a huge fan of planning, so after I returned from the Christmas break, I wasn't too fazed at the thought of 101 days of planning eggs hunts and decorations and baking.
I set to work straight away. I ordered a Peter Rabbit tin from etsy and searched for Easter ideas on Pinterest. This kept me content for a while. Next, I ventured to the bottom of the white chest for Easter egg hunt props from last year (I needed to remind myself of the contents).
Please note, I'm not saying I prepared for Easter every single one of those 101 days, I also needed to concentrate on my job, keep the house clean, and amuse Tommy, but I did my best.
As Good Friday was fast approaching, the shops came alive with chocolate eggs, colourful tulips, and Easter bunnies. I stocked up on presents for the family and purchased decorations at car boot sales.
Tommy and I then participated in crafts, we sat at his little table and cut things out and stuck things down until they mildly resembled egg decorations.
It was all coming together nicely.
I bought Carbury's Creme Eggs for my colleagues, and baked cupcakes and Rice Krisipie cakes with Tommy. A lot of these cakes were eaten before they reached the food fridge and the vintage style tin, as you might expect.
I invited the family to our house, arranged to meet a friend for lunch, and Googled places of interest for the forthcoming long weekend.
Then finally, it arrived.
Easter, you were worth the 101 day wait.

Good Friday lunch with Tommy, special friend and god daughter. Colouring in and cake were a massive hit.

Tommy would absolutely not take the fork out of his mouth.

Before Tommy said, "I really like Faith. I want to go everywhere with her."

Getting ready for the Easter egg hunt in our garden.

And we're off!

Afternoon tea for the family. With cakes baked by myself and Tommy. And lots of tulips.

Spider-Man and Superman. Otherwise known as Tommy and his cousin.

Sunday lunch at my sister-in-laws. The kids played nicely mid course.

Easter Monday was spent in a picturesque village, with another Easter egg hunt in and around the barn.

Searching for letters and eggs, using the clues, to unravel the name to win the chocolate bunny.

Found one!

And another!

Distracted by toys.

Very happy with his chocolate bunny.

Next, a walk along the river.

The pretty village that is Coggelshall.

See you next year, Easter! As much as I love you, I'm glad you're only once a year, as you and your offerings have not helped my waist line at all.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Things I thought I would never do

I never thought I would sit in a tattoo studio with friend, allowing a hairy man to scar my wrist, whilst we all sang along to Different Corner. (Classic moment, by the way.)
Especially as I had often declared, "I'm never getting another tattoo!"
Because I already have a small tattoo on my lower back. It was considered a good idea many years ago, a bond between myself and two very special others. They both chose a symbol for friendship to be engraved on their thighs, and I decided on a different body part and etching - a symbol meaning 'Enjoy Oneself' at bottom of spine. Trust me to be different. The occasion will forever mean everything to me and these words are one of my motto's in this crazy life.
Over the years I have often been asked if I would be tempted with another, and I've always said no. (How many tattoos do I need, that's sufficient, thank you. I used to think.)
But I wasn't counting on George Michael dying on Christmas Day 2016.
Since the tragic moment I was alerted of his death, when my heart shattered at the thought of a world without him, I have wanted to honour and tribute his magic.
Therefore, I found myself in a tattoo studio once again. This time with symbols from George's album cover requested for my wrist. A respectful memory to his music and very significant words - faith, music, money, religion, love.
My dear friend also braved the needle and now she has the same. I like that. I like the fact our day began at the garden centre following my pansie purchase, afterwards we frequented a cafe for breakfast, next we had matching tats. It's also another cement in our fabulous friendship. Oh and then dear friend drove us home whilst we sang along to George songs very loudly.
So my advice now? Apart from be very sure of your tattoo as they are for life, not just for Christmas. Incidentally, I am over the moon with my new addition.
My advice is - never say never.
Next week I shall announce, lots of times, that I have never won the lottery and perhaps I never will.
(You can't blame a girl for trying, can you?)

Monday, 10 April 2017

New chapters and smashed handsets

I don't have a very good reputation, with regards to mobile phones.
There was the one I misplaced on an airplane, one I dropped in an ice bucket, one I lost in the pub, and one I left on the back seat of a taxi.
Then there's the countless phones I have dropped and smashed. In my defense, it was Mark who dropped my most recently purchased, expensive, iPhone. I think I had been the proud owner of this phone for approximately one week, when Mark dropped it on the pavement. It survived but the screen was totally smashed. It was a two year contract. I was not happy. But I had to put up with it. It still worked, it was just very difficult to read.
Finally, I decided to pay £65 for the screen to be fixed. Then approximately one week later, I dropped it on our flagstone kitchen floor. It was actually Tommy and I's birthday. I had been taking photographs and running around like a loony, when I knocked my phone and it fell face down. I looked at Mark and tried not to cry as I said, "That's not going to make it."
It didn't. And I still had a year to pay on my contract.
So I'm now using my other smashed iPhone. Alas, I fear it's about to give up on me, as more parts of the smashed screen keep disappearing and text keeps mysteriously moving by itself. (Yes it is creepy and colleague and I have already invented a story based around it, The Evil Mobile Phone.)
Therefore, I've been saving pictures and thanking the Lord when each day it lives to tell another tale.
Consequently, I have stumbled across some cracking, forgotten times.
Like Tommy's bedroom, for instance. Memories have been stirred. It's reminded me that it's no longer a nursery, it's a little boy's room. A little boy who loves Spider-Man and fire engines and still doesn't sleep well.
Oh he sleeps a million times better than those frustrating, long, tiring, nights. Yet it's extremely rare he will sleep through a whole night on his own.
Still, I'll forgive him. Especially when he tells me how cool I am, and informs strangers that his name is Spider-Man.
I wouldn't change him for the world.

Welcome to the nursery. The sign was waiting for him long before he entered this world.

I've sat on this chair more times than I care to remember, feeding him his milk and trying to coax him to sleep/back to sleep.

Gradually the calming blues and whites were replaced with bright colours and toys. I'd forgotten about that tortise mat, when he learnt to sit he used to love sitting on there and pressing the noisy buttons.

Now his bedroom has a fire engine bed. And a Tommy sign on the door, we are trying to get him to recognise and scribble his name.

Fire station and police station house. A very popular toy from granddad last Christmas.

Some of his fav toys. The garage at the bottom was purchased from Mark and I on his first birthday. I'm sure in years to come I'll see many toys and gadgets come and go on these shelves. I look forward to each new chapter, and fondly remembering the last. No doubt I'll still be loosing and smashing handsets.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A nice cup of gravy

Following last year's mini disaster, when Tommy refused to sit at the table and eat anything other than chocolate, Mark and I decided to hold this year's mother's day lunch at our home.
Far more relaxing, I told myself, than Mark and I taking it in turns to eat our meal, coax Tommy out from under the table, and escort him around the restaurant.
Cheaper too. Not that I'm a penny pincher. Alas, prices do escalate on special occasions and sometimes it can be a little hard to justify.
So we invited my mum, dad, and father-in-law, to join us at our humble abode, for roast lamb and all the trimmings.
Father-in-law graciously accepted our invite, and then admitted he declined a second invite to sister-in-law's grandmothers. "It's much more formal at their house," said he, as he commented on their three course meals. "You'll get crisps and chocolates for starters here," said I, as I handed out, erm, crisps and chocolates in the garden.
I do not pretend to be a master chef. I think I am an acceptable standard in the kitchen, but what I hope is abundantly clear is the ambiance I create for my guests.
Prior to mother's day 2017, I researched ideas on Pinterest, then created a mood board. Next I set about making stuff - homemade sweet jars with name tags for the table, homemade cards, gift tags and gift bag.
Tommy joined in too. As he is not great at sitting still it took a few sessions for him to complete his nanny's card, with paint, glitter, feathers and sticky things. Luckily I realised this would be the case for him, and started well in advance. As a result, my mum loved the card, and when I told her how long it had taken to complete, she nodded sympathetically.
I'd like to think everyone enjoyed the meal. Despite Tommy, again, refusing to sit with us and eat a well balanced lunch. "Let him watch Spider-Man!" I tried not to scream to Mark, determined not to let anything ruin the day.
We entertained ourselves throughout and after the roast dinner with Alexa. Alexa was kindly passed down to us from father-in-law. I quote, she is an intelligent personal assistant. She's not that intelligent if you do not speak clearly. We learnt this after numerous amusing failures to answer our requests. Yet she did play some pleasant jazz for my dad and told us a joke or two.
Dessert, you might be relived to hear, was not more crisps and chocolate. There was a choice of vanilla cheesecake, or apple strudel with custard. Or both.
This was the part of the day where Tommy took a nasty tumble. Whilst I was waiting for dinners to digest and strudel to cool, the men decided to play football in the garden. Unfortunately, Tommy ran back in the kitchen crying, with a bloody nose and lip.
It took ages for him to calm down (and myself, after seeing all the blood and therefore panicking). The strudel well and truly cooled.
I decided to complete the afternoon with coffee. Most people like coffee as a perk at the end of a heavy meal, wouldn't you agree?
That's what I thought, as I chose pretty cups and saucers for my family, humming away to myself. Also wincing at Tommy's face, and trying to ignore the piles of dirty plates.
It wasn't until my father-in-law presented a concerned face and questioned the contents of his cup, that I did in fact realise, instead of a nice cup of coffee, I had actually served everyone a cup of gravy.

Hands up if you think father-in-law is wise to dine elsewhere next year. I wouldn't blame him.

My lovely card from Tommy.

For the place settings.

For my mummy.

Starters. Come on, who doesn't like chocolate, especially when it looks this pretty?

For the table.

The table.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The story continues

On one dull day ten years ago, the story of Flying Pink Elephants began.
I can still clearly remember staring out of the window, feeling slightly unfulfilled, and deciding I liked the sound of this blogging lark.
So I was jolly well going to create one.
I had always loved writing and photography, hence blogging seemed the perfect way to combine the two.
I felt very excited, not that I thought my life was particularly exciting, but I was a fan of appreciating and recording the small stuff.
I also had a lot of time on my hands back then - living at home, a single girl with no responsibilities or commitments. Well apart from my career in publishing with its hectic press days, and then its not very busy days where I would stare out of the window feeling unfulfilled.
It was an episode where I didn't really know which direction my life was heading or when my true love would appear, yet the passion to write was burning bright.
Now I love the fact I have been able to record so many events along the way. Life changing moments such as redundancy, a new job, moving out of my parent's house into a friend's loft, meeting my future husband, moving in with my future husband, our wedding day and honeymoon, falling pregnant and Tommy arriving in this world.
Not to mention all the other bits in between - Chocolate popcorn cheesecake, an inflatable chicken slide, invisible happy dust and a physic octopus.
Let's also not forget all the friendships I have formed with people from all over this planet. Alas, as the years have passed, Instagram and real life have take over, therefore readers have dipped in and out.
Apart from my dear friend Amel. My constant reader from Finland. Last week she visited myself and London for the second time in two years.
We met in Covent Garden once again. With its quirky market stalls, live musicians and street entertainers, it's definitely one of my favourite parts of London.
It was marvellous to see her again, this time with her husband in tow. We met for breakfast then roamed around Covent Garden and the British Museum. Finishing the day at our favourite cake shop.
Thanks for staying faithful, Amel.
I'm glad I was bored on one dull day, ten years ago.
And so the story at Flying Pink Elephants continues.

Here we are again.

Covent Garden.

The British Museum.

Cake shop. Yes please! Lovely finish to the day.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The spring fayre

Finally, winter is becoming a distant memory and friend.
Daffodils are sprouting around the village cricket green and duck pond. The blossom is appearing on the trees approaching the fifteenth century pub.
Yesterday I walked to the village shop, for fresh bread, without my big coat.
I couldn't be happier.
And the Spring fayre arrived in a neighbouring village. It's become tradition to visit it each year, come rain or shine. We sample the free food, stock up on sausages, and browse around the beautiful grounds, admiring crafts and animals.
Then we finish the day in the tearoom, cheese sandwiches and cherry and amaretto pie, discussing our day and the treasures we discovered.
Naturally I take photographs to remember the day by.

Something for everyone at the Spring fayre.

Crafts and children's books in here. Mum bought Tommy a dinosaur book and I bought him craft scissors.

Homemade cheese for mummy.

Homemade beer for daddy.

I can confirm the free samples of pizza were delicious.

Tommy loved the windmill, due to the Spider-Man colours.

And Tommy loved the farm animals.

Local craftsman showcasing their talents.