Thursday, 29 May 2014


In place of a foreign holiday (cricket commitments take up all of our summer) I suggested we tried something new during half term. Having decided that the climbing wall was too high and bowling wasn't something new, and the cinema is no good for me without subtitles... the kids ended up donning wet suits and trying indoor surfing.

The session lasts an hour and includes a good looking surf instructor. M and I sat on stools and watched and laughed so much it hurt. The look on their faces was priceless. Most of the photos came out blurred due to the constant movement and dodgy light levels. They both progressed to sitting up on the board, J for slightly longer than E.

After a light lunch J was keen to have a go inside a big floating beach ball. He's been on these before, but I haven't spectated before and it was very funny. E's hamsters sprung to mind.

Last but not least I agreed to accompany J on a fairground ride. It was pretty bad. I enjoyed it at first but my lunch threatened to leave my body and I was glad to get off. M was so worried for us that he forgot to film it on his iPhone for us. He managed to gather his nerves when we were winding down. The photo shows us almost flat again. This ride was vertical at one stage and each car went round very fast too. Blurgh!

I'm not normally a fairground sort of person. M hates them. Since E taught us the expression YOLO I've tried to live up to it! A bit. Funnily enough she didn't want to have a go!

E's twenty twenty cricket tournament is cancelled tomorrow which is a shame. It has rained solidly for three days and three nights so it isn't surprising. I'm planning a nice long dog walk, much safer than vertical fairground rides!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Bank Holiday Fun...

I don't very often post family pictures here but this one is such a lovely photo of E, J and Dad. J, at 13 years old is five foot nine without shoes but several inches taller in his Reebok Zetechs. Dad must be shrinking. I tell you, it's taking some internal adjustment to get used to having these tall children in the house. I pad around in flip flops all summer and I'm seriously wishing I was a heels kind of person. It's quite difficult to dish out the discipline when they are eye level with you. Not that I have to do that much these days. I've given up trying to teach J about the delights of coat hangers.

J and E hit the coast with Mum and Dad yesterday. Apparently so did most of the county. They've been having fun on the penny machines and rides since they were very small. M and I took a short drive down to an ice cream / kids farm thing. We really only wanted an ice cream so we resisted the temptation of seeing the guinea pigs and rabbits. Whilst eating our ice cream we watched small children on ride on jeeps. It was hilarious. There were two types of driver, boy racers and careful female drivers. Bank holiday Monday afternoon was spent watching cricket (M) and walking (me and the hounds).

I'm trying to toughen my feet up in training for a long distance walk next Easter. So far I've had blisters in the most unexpected parts of my feet. I did an eight mile walk into the city on Sunday and developed a new one on a toe next to one that had a plaster on it, I think it was the plaster that caused the new one. I took Riley for company because he walks nicely on the lead and most of it was path. Harvey is impossible to walk on the lead and believe me we have tried everything. M was worried the distance wouldn't be good for Riley's pads but eight miles is nothing for a dog and there was plenty of grass verge to walk him on. When I got to the city I met a family of three on bikes with a lovely young black and white Springer who was ten months old. He had just run alongside their bikes for twenty miles. I did think that was a bit much for such a young dog.

Over the bank holiday weekend there was a bit more loom banding. I find it quite therepautic and I can switch off totally when I'm absorbed in a design. I discovered a few new places that sell the bands but so far I've only found cheap supplies, rather than the American originals which is a shame because now that I'm getting good and trying out the advanced designs I'm finding that the cheap bands often snap. It's difficult to know on Amazon whether bands saying 'original' are the real thing. Already I can see that some people thought they were buying an original loom have received a copy.

I forget the names of some of these designs now. One other disadvantage of the cheap bands is the definition and uniformity of the results. This last one is called Candy Rocks I think, with the proper bands you can see the formation of the actual flowers much more clearly. The one above that is called hexafishtail but there are variations of the name, it just depends whose tutorial you follow. This one seems to work nicely no matter how cheap the bands and they don't require too much tension either. This one is E's favourite and she wears a purple and green one, her favourite colours. The second one down is a popular design called The Ladder. E says I'm addicted like its a problem.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Walking back to happiness...

It's all dog walking and cricket here in sunny Lincolnshire. Since I got brave and started to be able to leave the house alone I've gone to the other extreme. I'm now tramping miles and miles every day.

I must admit I did have a slight raising of the heartbeat yesterday. I got to the remote part of one of my routes. It has a farm track that doesn't look like it gets used much. A car was parked there with a man in it. I swear he looked like an escaped prisoner (there have been a few of those in the news lately so no wonder I was suspicious). The car door was open and he was just sitting there. He didn't have a dog so I wondered what he could be doing so far off the beaten track. Riley went up wagging his tail to say hello which dashed my chances of pretending my dogs were ferocious. I walked at a pretty fast pace after that trying not to look behind and straining for sounds of footsteps behind me (I wouldn't hear a herd of elephants charging at me!) It was my lucky day, he wasn't up to no good.

Today I changed my route and thought about carrying an alarm, but what use would an alarm be miles from anywhere? By the way, that photo of Riley running through a meadow of yellow fields; they are all buttercups. The photo doesn't do it justice at all. It's stunning. This is a small reserve of trees and wild flowers donated to the community by three old ladies who planted as many different types of trees and shrubs they could. What a fantastic thing to leave behind.

Apart from being healthy for the body I'm finding it also healthy for the mind. It takes me right back to when I was ten or so and had a very good friend who used to be quite obsessed with nature. He and I would meet up in the village woodland and go looking for birds nests and butterflies. We were talented tree climbers and quite frankly I was probably more interested in climbing trees than peeping in birds nests. P used to scribble down notes in a pad and I used to draw colour pictures of what we'd found and identified that day.

I saw another unusual butterfly today, well I assumed it was a butterfly until I googled it. Life would have been amazing if we'd had google when I was ten! It turned out to be a very pretty moth called the Cinnabar Moth. The picture makes it look red but I'm pretty sure it was a deep shocking pink. It was also quite small, maybe an inch across.

J has played a second county match. He bowled well and got an opening batsman out and another who regularly gets over fifty runs. We were lucky it was a sunny day because the day after it rained all day. In fact now that the weather has gone back to 'unreliable' we've got a whole weekend off; no cricket! Time to get ahead with the laundry and stock the cupboard with more picnic food!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Bunbury Cup...

It was M's birthday yesterday and if he could dream up the perfect day he would have dreamt up the kind of day we had. Blue skies and sunshine, a road trip to Warwick, good food and cricket (and preferably a win).

J travelled with the school yesterday which meant we could set off with our cricket picnic, flasks and chairs and stop off on the way. We ended up stopping in Warwick itself and had a cream tea in a cafe that went back to 1571. I would normally watch M eat his cream tea but they had gluten free scones!

When we arrived at Warwick School we had to work out which of the six cricket pitches they were playing on. It was certainly a contrast to the badly mown pitch at J's school. Since it was the Bunbury Cup, a national competition, they played on the main pitch which has a huge clubhouse with glass railed balcony. This is where M and I pitched for the day. A proper table and chairs and for the most part we had it to ourselves. Only one other parent had travelled to see the match.

It was all rather civilised with uniformed boys travelling from lesson to lesson and dawdling around the cricket boundary to see what was happening. The electronic scoreboard could probably be seen miles away. I wish I had taken more photographs. It was as much as we could do to take it all in, and once the match started I didn't want to miss anything.

Jake opened the bowling and also bowled two overs at the end. He bowled six overs altogether and got two wickets for only 9 runs. He was a bit disappointed to be batting at five, especially as his track record for batting this year at club level has been first class. He has retired in most matches and for the rest he's got runs and been 'not out'. Unfortunately the school masters don't always have this information. So he went in with only 3 and a half overs left but still managed to hit 18 runs off 8 balls. Some of the huge hits he did over everyone's heads really deserved to be fours but the boundary was huge. The main thing was that he enjoyed himself.

It got really close at the end. They had 136 runs to chase, and after a disastrous over which gave away 18 runs they were catching up. The last ball needed to be a six to win but by then we had clearly bowled all the good batsmen out and although he had a huge swipe he didn't make contact with the ball. Phew! The next round is the quarter finals, which apparently is the furthest we've ever got.

It was a scorching hot day and there was no shade, I really wish I'd packed my sun hat. We got a little sunburnt. J has an under 17s match tonight so I imagine he will look a little lanky up against them. At 13 he hasn't really muscled out yet. On Saturday we have another men's match. He's got a wicket for them every match so far so they love him. On Sunday we have the first county match of the season. See what I mean about needing a tour bus?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Ella is now looking at me with what looks like pity. I'm finding the odd ten minutes in the day when the little rubber bands are calling my name. I probably need to move them away from the kitchen island where my iPad also lives during the day. The combination is fatal. YouTube, a plastic loom and a bowl full of tiny rubber bands. I recommend it, it's therapeutic in the midst of chaos, really.

The chaos involves a bath full of cricket whites, club kits, county kits, my kit, Ella's kit. Beside the sink is Vanish, stain removing soap, Ariel stain remover. Nothing seems to get the grass/mud stains off.

The fridge is chaotic. We've been eating out of picnic baskets for the last few weeks. Eating far too many fish and chips late at night on the way home from a match. I swear I NEED a campervan for this lifestyle. I could just rustle up some nice soup, beans on toast, pasta... Actually that's my entire repertoire. Anything more complicated and I leave it to M.

I am both nervous and excited about playing my first match of the season tonight. I washed my kit. It didn't smell too good having been folded up in my bag next to Jake's hand me down cricket shoes. It's quite handy having a son with big feet. His spikes fit me nicely and so do last year's all weather surface cricket shoes.

So, let's talk about what's important right now. Yes, the Triple Chain Cuff, the Raised Triple Rope and the Starburst have all been mastered by yours truly. I am pretty chuffed. The Starburst is my favourite not least of all because I subconsciously chose colours that remind me of the formerly named 'opal fruits'. Whatever was wrong with that? I think senility is creeping in because I called a Snickers bar by its former name the other day too, anyone fancy a Marathon? Stupid name, but then so is Snickers.

I'm now using a size 3mm crochet hook for this new hobby of mine. Each tutorial on YouTube represents a sort of mind bending type puzzle to me and I like to keep my brain alive if I can. Crochet is a lot like that. Motifs for example. Once I've cracked the pattern I'm sometimes not so fussed about doing anything with them. I suppose that's why I enjoyed Maths and went on to do it at A Level. The Pure and Applied side of things was like a series of little puzzles to solve. Not that I'm a natural Mathematician, I just like a challenge. M likes crosswords. He does all the ones he knows and then he gets me to finish it.

Which leads me to another puzzle in life. How does Jake get through so many pairs of shoes? It doesn't seem to matter whether we buy £60 shoes from Clark's or £30 pairs from elsewhere. He swears he doesn't play football in them but how on earth can they get wrecked just by walking? This latest pair is barely two months old.

Naturally M doesn't blink twice about paying large sums of money for cricket related kit but he's having a hissy fit over the shoes. He's on a school trip today so not for the first time we will have to buy a pair he hasn't even tried on and hope for the best. Boys. Grrrrr. E has had the same pair for at least two years! I wouldn't mind so much if he just grew out of them.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Black clouds looming...

I've got that Friday feeling today. I was up at the crack of dawn trying to find the coloured Sharpies for Ella. It's her last day of scheduled lessons before her exams start. Naturally this involves everyone signing your school shirt, hence the Sharpies.

I pondered my long walking route whilst having my first cup of tea of the day and then I noticed the huge black clouds outside. I decided to have a day off. I've been here, there and everywhere this week. I've watched quite a few cricket matches. I've travelled several hundred miles. I'm exhausted and a look in the mirror confirmed it. I decided to have a one woman spa day and put a face pack on. The dogs were not impressed. Riley cowered away from me. Wimp.

Actually that was the extent of my spa day. I couldn't laze around in my fluffy white bathrobe, I'd much rather be doing something, so I thought I'd try and master the jelly band loom thing I bought for Ella but knew I'd be the one having to work it out!

I spotted this thing in Poundworld whilst buying gallons of cheap shampoo for Riley (the citrus ones seem to work best on fox poo). The loom was a pound and extra bags of bands were a pound (reminds me of that fabulous Catherine Tate sketch when her grandson takes her into a pound shop and she keeps asking, 'how much is this then?'). It wasn't until I started browsing the youtube videos that I realised it was a cheap copy of a much sturdier made toy. These rubber band things have totally passed us by now that we don't frequent toy shops anymore.

I started with the ring which was categorised as easy and for beginners. It was very easy. I moved onto the twist bracelet which was also quite easy. I then got brave and followed a tutorial for a minecraft creeper bracelet which, according to the negative comments looks nothing like a creeper. This didn't bother me as I wouldn't know a minecraft creeper if it bit me on the bum.

There are quite a few more designs on the Internet, a lot of which require certain colours or lots of one colour. I'm not sure how much more advanced I will get. I was going to give a set to an eight year old that I know but having had a go myself I reckon she would struggle. Probably best we just have sessions of making them so I can help.

The weather isn't looking at all good for tonight's cricket match. Yesterday's was cancelled (it rained all day yesterday). Jake will be going stir crazy. At least he will have indoor training to fall back on. My own cricket training has already been cancelled. I will just have to have lessons from Jake!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Fresh air and exercise...

It's been a lovely sunny day today. Much warmer than yesterday when we packed our folding chairs and picnic for a cricket match. I tried sitting out with my thick jumper and windproof coat but it was just too chilly for me and I retreated to the warmth of the car and warmed up with a mug of tea.

This morning I set off nice and early with the dogs. My route is getting longer and longer. I wore a pair of Jake's old trainers today instead of my walking shoes and they were much lighter. I've been giving footwear some thought with a longer trek in mind.

The rape is very tall now and extremely pungent. Harvey is nowhere to be seen in these photo's because he knows where he's going and he's usually two fields ahead. He comes back every now and then. Riley looks out for me and tells me when there are other people or dogs. Today we didn't come across anyone and it felt a bit like having my own private estate.

I saw one of these today. An Orange-tip, the centre was a vivid blue colour. I'm sure they are common British butterflies but I can't recall having seen one before. I must dig out a reference book, there were quite a few butterflies on my walk.

Meanwhile E and a friend bought bus day tickets and went to the coast. It's only 40 miles but by bus it took two hours! When you are 16 that's all part of the fun I guess. They walked along the beach, had 99's, bought some bubbles, played on the penny machines, did a bit of shopping, had chips and caught the bus home. Sounds very similar to the days out I used to have at her age, except we used to cycle down to the seafront.