Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The big one one

Everyone was up late this morning. I woke up at 7:30 and looked over at Huffle and asked him if he was going to work - he worked from home. Small came in and asked if he could open his present that was downstairs 'not that I've been downstairs yet' he said unconvincingly. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG BEAR SMALL. He collected his cards (we always keep them behind the clock on the mantle and put his presents on the bed. Smallest got up and looked in and I asked him if he had something to say to Small. He looked at the presents and said 'oh Happy Birthday Small'. Cards were opened and read and kisses collected or saved for when the recipient was here, presents opened. Oooh and ahhhs from both of the kids. Then back to normality and breakfast and lunches were done.

One of my favourite photos of Small as a tiny person with his wooden numbers (no badges this year)

After the kids went to school, I went off to aerobics (not on my bike today as I am extremely tired, half deaf and it was raining just a little). The furniture arrived while I was gone and Huffle and I started taking off the wrappings, sticking felt pads to the feet and moving it all into place. There is no way Huffle's new chair will fit in!!!! We moved the old sofa, that was kindly given to us when we had nothing nearly three years ago, onto the roadside, moved the leather stuff into the Sun Room. We still need to move some bits around but it's looking nice.

I finished making Small's cake. This time it came out of the mould better but wasn't perfect as the cake this time was much lighter and moist so fell apart a little. I made the same Orio buttercream and sandwiched it together and then put loads of chocolate on the top. I was pleased with it though it isn't nearly as complicated as others I have done in the past. Maybe my oldest bear will be wanting more grown up cakes from now on.

Balloons were blown up and hung around the house, bunting was put up and pizza dough made. Then a really quick tidy up before I went to school to pick up Small and his enormous Tuba. Ten minutes of practice tonight before I have to take it back tomorrow!

Back home, Grandma and Grandad skyped just as Small was Tuba'ing, they listened and sang Happy Birthday and then they were packaged to their rooms to do homework (the boys not G&G).

Merriment began with pizza making and eating, watching a film and singing, blowing out candles and lighting sparklers which were supposed to be the number eleven but could really have been normal straight sparklers DOH (I didn't think about that one!).

Thank you for all the lovely messages, cards, presents for Small's birthday.

Huffle and I are looking forward to sitting down on our new furniture tonight, watching The Great British Bake Off and eating Small's birthday cake if we don't fall asleep before all that happens zzzzzzzzzzzz


Serge's Monkey Dancing

What began as a crazy day turned into an 'alright' day after all. Huffle went to work and once I had packaged the boys off to school (complete with football kit and instructions not to come home on the bus for Smallest), I drove off to Toyota again to take my car back. I only got 1 minute up the road and the 'awful noise' started again. It was so bad I stopped to check that nothing was falling off or rolling around in the boot. God knows what it was because it didn't happen again, not even when the engineer and I went for a drive to recreate it. However, the engineer did think there was a burning smell coming from the brakes so did something about that for me.

Then I went food shopping and present shopping for Small. I managed to get him a few things and even bought a couple of Christmas presents. Because the queues were so bad I was told to go through the 12 items or less. I had a whole trolley full and was quite embarrassed but the check out lady didn't care. We were a good team. Driving home there was no loud noise so maybe it has gone away or whatever it was dropped off and disappeared.

Once I had put the shopping away I Skyped Grandma briefly. Huffle text me to say that Kasabian were on a local radio so I tuned in (Grandma told me to ring in and gave me some Leicester lessons to help me speak to them). It wasn't a phone in radio and Kasabian only played a couple of songs but it got me in the mood for the concert tonight. Huffle sent their agent a note to tell them we were at the concert and was there any chance of saying Hello back stage. We didn't get a reply but as least he tried.

I made another cake for Small using a very strange recipe which had hot water in it and was very sloppy. I am not going to take it out of the mould until tomorrow. So we will see!

I made dinner and had an answerphone message from Small in a very grumpy voice "football in cancelled because someone died". Oh dear. Then I had another call from the secretary to say that Smallest had fallen and his knee scab had come off. She didn't have anything to put on it other than bandages and gauze and she wanted to know what I wanted done with it. I told her to leave it open and I would look at it when he got home, as long as he was okay, He was! I also asked her about the death. She said it was one of the opposition coaches family members. She said she had so many calls to parents today about the cancelled football but Small's was the funniest.


Tomorrow is the day we get our new furniture delivered but the company rang today and said that Huffle's chair will not be ready until next Wednesday now! Typical.

The boys came home, Smallest with a horrible scraped unscabbed knee. Both did their piano practice and showed me how they know the notes. We had a hurried dinner when Huffle came home and the babysitter arrived and off we went to Toronto for a wonderful evening of live loud music.

The Sound Academy was on the edge of the lake, overlooking the Toronto skyline. We spoke to several security about trying to get a message to the band but none could help us. We tried the bar staff too but they don't go anywhere near the band either. The main security man wouldn't even look at us let alone speak to us and we gave up. The support band was called Bo Ningen, a Japanese Punk band. Four members with enough hair between them to stuff a King Size Quilt (with some left over). They were loud, screamy and absolutely awful. We had secured ourselves a nice spot centre stage (standing only) but had to move when the wailing became too much for us. We moved into the lounge bar where we were shielded slightly from the noise. We sat and messaged someone who was at the same concert who complained the support act was so bad.

Once we moved ourselves back into the throng, a huge man (twice as tall as me) came and stood right in front of me. Well, there was no way I was going to stand for that. I told him to move, he said no, I told him I couldn't see and he had to move and he told me I couldn't make him and to move somewhere else. I stepped right in front of him giving him no room whatsoever and he walked off. Silly long over-tall man. Eventually Kasabian came on. We had a great view, almost centre and very close. The band were absolutely fabulous. They put on a wonderful show, played some brilliant songs and everyone loved them. Huffle especially liked Serge's strange monkey dancing.

Huffle normally doesn't like to be in the thick of it but he stayed in the middle for me. Unfortunately it got to a point where I felt a bit ill, too squashed, too hot and I couldn't hear the music anymore because it was so loud. We moved to the side, had loads of room to dance and jump around and could easily get to the bar.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and Huffle did too. I didn't worry about the Boys one bit as I knew they were in safe hands and as soon as the concert was over we text the babysitter to say we were on the way and she told us to drive safely and everything was fine. We had a good journey home, paid the babysitter and then Huffle took her home. We sat and had a cup of tea and a bit of TV. Our ears are ringing and my feet are killing me from too much dancing.



Monday, 29 September 2014

How Much?

Grandma and Grandad arrived home safely with Aunt Pear collecting them from the airport and leaving them with a cup of tea and bed.

After Huffle had gone to work and the boys to school, I had my breakfast and drove to Toyota to take my car in for a recall. It had been recalled for two separate incidents, plus I had an issue with my handbrake and they were taking the car for an emissions test. I had a shuttle car back home and the driver told me how he was born in Montreal and he did a regular spot on local radio about cars and recalls. He said cars get recalled all the time these days (and I thought it was just mine).

At home I watched a little bit of Our Girl (BBC very good), did some washing and drying and Skyped Moo. I had a call from the garage to say that my front brakes were worn and I needed new rotary things, my back brakes were worn down to the metal and needed replacing and my handbrake definitely needed fixing, plus there as suspension liquid leaking badly. It was a lot of money but it needed doing so I told them to go ahead. The whole thing (including the emissions test) would take five hours.

After my lunch I went out into the garden (it was a glorious day again) and planted the new plants we had, including a huge grass that was bigger than me, moved some existing ones and dead headed the rudbeckia and others. I raked the drive of leaves and filled three barrows which I took down to the compost bin. I raked the grass and filled another four barrows which I used to cover the paths of the veggie garden (where I found a courgette growing).

I worked very hard for a good couple of hours and then Huffle came home with the boys following not long after. I made them a quick a dinner and the piano teacher turned up. Smallest went first and did very well. He said it was good and he could use notes. He has to practice every day for ten to fifteen minutes. Small went next after he had his dinner. He said it wasn't fun but he did enjoy it! The teacher says that Small will progress more quickly but that they both did well.

The garage rang again and said that there was a problem with my emissions test. Because one of the recalled items was to do with the cars computer, it had reset back to zero which meant that the emissions couldn't be done until the car had clocked up another 100km before my birthday (which was Saturday). He was very apologetic and said it was his fault so they would not be charging me for it but it means I now have to get it checked myself after I have driven around for 100km! Huffle drove me back to the garage and then dropped the boys off at Beavers and Scouts. Smallest did a Scavenger Hunt no found a wild cucumber (I didn't even know there were wild cucumbers! Small did fencing and rally enjoyed it


I paid for my car and drove home with a very loud clunking noise and smelly burnt brakes. Once home I called the garage and it has to go back in tomorrow. Boooo.



Sunday, 28 September 2014

Don't point at him!

When we got back from the Islands yesterday (bearing in mind no-one was in our house all day) the cooker had an error message! E-84.

After a late night last night, we all got up a little bit later this morning. After breakfast we sent Small to get his bike so Grandad could put his new bell on it. Unknown to him we had hidden his bike and put his new one in there with a note saying it was from Grandma and Grandad, Moo and Huffle and me. At first he couldn't find it and then he came out with a huge grin. He was very happy. He had a ride round the garden and then we put Small's old bike seat down as low as we could and Small sold it to Smallest for $10 after much haggling. They both rode around the garden and Smallest fell off, of course. The bike is still a bit too big for him so we said he could ride it on the grass until he was more confident on it.

Grandma and Grandad got on with their packing and I wrapped up Christmas presents for them to take. When it was time for G&G to go, it was very sad. Lots of hugs and kisses and promises to Skype. This still doesn't get any easier no matter how many times it happens.

Huffle drove them to the airport in Toronto (about an hour away) and the boys got on with their homework. Smallest and I played on the trampoline and watched the clouds. We spotted a horse eating, Shaggy from Scooby Doo with his wispy beard who then turned into a Googly eyed man and a bat and a pterodactyl. We stayed there for ages while the leaves fell on our heads from the tree above. We even watched a plane fly across and wondered if it was Grandma and Grandad.

The three of us had some lunch and Huffle came home around 1pm and had his. He said the traffic was really good on the way there but quite heavy on the way home. G&G were flying from Toronto to New York (1.5 hours) then waiting for four hours for their plane from New York to Birmingham where Aunt Pear would drive them home tomorrow morning. That's a long journey. GOODBYE GRANDMA AND GRANDAD, WE HAD A LOVELY VISIT AND WE WILL MISS YOU. THANKS GRANDAD FOR BEING SUCH A GOOD SPORT AND PROVIDING US WITH LOTS OF ENTERTAINMENT. Huffle did have a message to say that they had a tough time getting through immigration which took two hours (BOOOO). All because they are coming from Canada to America and they are English!

The four of us drove off to Oshawa to get our cooker sorted. Huffle took the boys to the washroom so I met our salesman first. "Hello my name is Jason, what is yours?" HELLO MY NAME IS FAMFA. WE ACTUALLY HAVE A STORE CREDIT FOR A FAULTY STOVE WE BOUGHT FROM YOU SOME TIME AGO. "I will go and speak to my Manager and check for you". Meanwhile Huffle came back and we started to look at stoves. Jason comes back and says "Hello my name is Jason what is your name?" MY NAME IS HUFFLE AND MY NAME IS FAMFA "oh yes you told me sorry I have a bad memory".

To cut a long story short, we found a Gas stove we liked and it had a gas oven too with a griddle on the top. It was reduced by $900 and fell within our budget of what we were going to get back plus enough for us to get the gas fitted through to the kitchen too. Bargain! Huffle and I were in good spirits and Jason couldn't believe we weren't cross or miserable despite our problems with the previous stove. We had a look around while Jason sorted our paperwork out and we went to see if our old one was still being sold. It was, though it was reduced by $700 and guess what it had on the display? E-84 and it wasn't even being used. It was just plugged in and it had the same error. How funny is that?

The one we bought (being delivered Oct 8). And the error messaging evil one in the store!

We told Jason that another salesman had told us that once we had cooked with induction we would never want to cook on anything else again and that that particular salesman was in the store there today. "Don't tell me who it is" he said. We laughed and started to point him out. "Oh no, don't point at him, you don't know how much trouble I could get into to". "Please don't ruin my commission, I've had a terrible time recently with people here". He was very unintentionally funny. Long and lanky with an oversized ill fitting suit. I'm glad he has got our commission. One of the other salesman was wearing an Arsenal top so of course we gave him a bit of grief. It turned out he lived in Loughborough for many years. It's a small world. When we left he said he would call us when Arsenal beat Stoke.

We wandered around the mall looking for presents for Small and managed to get him tin sign for his bedroom and we all had an ice cream. Shopping all together is not normally a pleasant experience but today it was nice just poddling around.

Huffle and the boys having fun in Dollarama

We left as we knew that the babysitter would be coming round to meet us and we drove home. We started dinner and planned where some plants would go and then the babysitter and her mum arrived. Both of them very nice. The girl who is going to sit for us so we can go to Kasabian on Tuesday was not silly and seemed very normal and grounded. We explained bedtimes etc and chatted for a while and then they were gone, I feel much happier now and am happy to leave them. It seems in only a couple of years Small can babysit anyway as soon as he get his babysitting licence and does a few first aid and home alone courses.

We all had dinner which seemed strange and the table seemed much bigger without Grandma and Grandad. After dinner the boys and Huffle played basketball but not for long as there was much scuffling and a bit of pushing! Huffle came in and watched The Ryder Cup unaware that Europe had won and the boys watched separate NetFlix in their rooms on the IPads.

At bedtime Smallest and I did a puzzle of the World and Small and I finished drawing a comic strip for the Beano. Huffle and I watched some 24 with a cuppa and a piece of SMALL'S pre-birthday cake.



Saturday, 27 September 2014

Pud your ticket on the dash wobble wobble

My wake up calls this morning consisted of Huffle shouting at the kids not to wake the rest of the house (that didn't work) and Grandma doing her incredibly loud dramatic violent sneezes. Thanks for that then.

Everyone was up, showered and breakfasting fairly early today as we were off to Toronto again for the third Saturday in a row. This time it was to the Islands to celebrate Small's birthday (his real birthday is not till Wednesday but we wanted to get something in while G&G were still here - they leave tomorrow).

We took two cars (Huffle, Small, Grandma in the shiny car and me, Grandad and Smallest in my car) and managed to leave by 9:30am which is good going by our standards. The journey in was incredibly smooth and trouble free. No hold ups on the DVP like normal and apart from one of the roads being closed we did very well. Parking was cheaper than normal so that was good and a short walk up to the harbour and a not too long wait for the ferry across to the Islands.

The ferry wasn't too busy either and the sun shining beautifully. It was like a proper Summer day. We started on Centre Island and walked to the bike hire place and hired a Quadracycle and a Duocycle. Huffle and I pedalled the Quadracycle with Grandma in the back and Smallest not happy because he couldn't reach the pedals. We tried many positions but in the end he was in the middle of Huffle and I. It was really hard work and heavy going and Small and Grandad were far in the lead on the way to Wards Island. We stopped for photos and rests and a quick climb on the park and then again on Wards Island where the residents live. Grandma, Small and I had a walk around some of the houses while the others rested and looked out to the Toronto skyline.

After a meander along a few residential streets we got back on our bikes and cycled back to Centre Island. this time Grandad and I were on the Duocycle with Smallest between us. Of course, instead of taking it easy and enjoying the cycle, we raced each other back to the hire place. We had the bikes for a gruelling hard hour and were shattered when we finished. We dropped a phone and a hat on the way and spoke to a strange boy who lived there who when I asked what it was like living on the island said "see you later".

Eventually we decided on the perfect picnic spot (we had taken our huge cool box on wheels with us) and moved a table into the shade, we sat down with our party plates and napkins and gave Small a few little presents. He had a bicycle bell (at which point we thought he might guess he was getting a new bike but he said nothing) and a pack of stick on moustaches. The boys chose their moustaches and we ate some of our picnic. We didn't invite the wasps but nevertheless they were very keen to join in. We moved away and walked on to the pier.

Next we walked along the path and to a climbing tree and a beach. The boys obviously climbed the tree and threw pine cones at each other. Grandma and Huffle sat in the shade on a log and Grandad and I went on the beach. Grandad went paddling in the water and cooled his ankles in the lake. I sat on the sand and sunned myself. It was just lovely. We sang Happy Birthday to Small and ate some cake. We had brought candles but no matches and we couldn't find one person smoking (that's unusual) so there was no blowing out of candles today.

While Huffle played catch the pine cone with the kids, I walked to see how far away the lighthouse was, but it was too far so we walked back and went to Centreville (theme park). We bought the boys a wristband each and let them run round as mad as they wanted to going on everything at high speed.

They started with the Ferris wheel, log flume and scrambler. Smallest has always wanted to go on the Bumper Cars (dodgems to us Brits) but has never been tall enough. This year he was tall enough but his legs weren't quite long enough so he was disappointed. They went on the new roller coaster which Smallest said was the BEST THING EVER and then he went on the Frog Hopper (Smallest was on this with a load of girls and they all squealed much to Smallest's dismay!). They both went on the Tug Boat but didn't look too enamoured (they may have outgrown this one) and then back on the Bumper Cars. Because there went many people they went on this for another five times in the same car together. They had a lot of fun. Eventually we got them off and they had a few more goes on the log flume. Somehow they got back on the Bumper Cars and ended up on there until the park closed. They were bumping with Kenny Rogers, Roger, Roger's Lady friend, the bumpy boys and one of the staff. It was very funny.

Back to the ferry we were packed in the cages ready to board the ferry but just as Huffle and Grandad got to the front of the queue, they closed the gate. We only had to wait fifteen minutes but we couldn't move anywhere. On the ferry, the sun was starting to set and the skyline looked amazing.

It was late and the boys were tired and hungry so we went for food in an Irish Pub. We should have known better but the one we wanted was packed and we would have waited to be seated for ages. Our waitress was rubbish and slow and couldn't find any kids menus. I ended up speaking to a chef to find out what the meals were. We waited ages and then finally got our food except they forgot Grandmas and when hers did come out (because we complained) it was cold and greasy. They took her meal off the bill and we walked back to the cars.

Again, apart from the road being closed and having to do a detour, our journey back was stress free and easy. The boys went straight to bed and we sat and had a cuppa and a catch up of the Ryder Cup and Baseball.

What a lovely day.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Ceegars and Orios

Our Rudbeckia

Today Huffle had a day off work and after the boys went to school we drove down to Brooklin and dropped off my quilt sample (I should have been attending a session tomorrow but we are busy now, so Suffolk is taking it for me). On the way we spotted some bikers. One had a huge cigar (Ceegaaar) whilst riding!

First stop was Johns Garden where we took advantage of the 50% sale. We bought a few lovely plants and then went and had lovely dinner at the Tin Mill again. It was deeeeelicious.

If you look close enough you will see an Edwardian Lady taking the air under the shade of the trees (in case ones delicate complexion should be tainted by the rays of the harsh North American midday sun) - quote Grandma

Deadman shop next but we didn't find anything so we had an ice cream instead. Grandad had mango and raspberry sorbets, Huffle had chocolate and coconut (a bounty he said) and I had a coconut.

We drove to Jeffs and picked up Grandad's special Father's Day present (something we know Madam Courvousier does not have ;). Back home (4 hours later) and then Grandad and Huffle went off to pick up Small's birthday bike and a very tall grass from Johns Garden (we couldn't fit it in the car before).

Earlier this morning I attempted to make small's cake. I had previously bought an orio mould and made a scrummy yummy chocolate cake and left it to cool. This afternoon it fell to pieces and looked horrendous but after making some orio buttercream and sandwiched it together, smothered it with cream and put orios on the top, it didn't look too bad.

I quickly skyped Moo as the boys came home and then Huffle, Smallest, Grandad and Grandma went off to swimming. Small and I went a bit later.

Smallest was in a class with kids of 9-13 and swam many lengths. Small was in a class with a boy and a girl he knew already. He swam many many many lengths (400m), CPR, British Bulldog and was very tired. Huffle took Smallest home and fed him and started Small's tea while we watched Small.

Back home we all had tea and a little drinky.

Some Autumn loveliness.



Thursday, 25 September 2014

Eye eye Toothy!

Huffle worked from home. The boys went to school. Grandad tried to start the strimmer but was unsuccessful. What is it about mechanical things and us? After breakfast we went off to shop. Things were brought for taking home and I managed to get some Christmas presents. We stopped in the middle of a car park with shops all around (a bit like Fosse Park for those reading from Leicestershire), where Grandad did his own thing and Grandma and I went for a cup of tea and an espresso. A bit more shopping and then we took Grandad for an ice cream. The young man behind the counter found it difficult to understand he wanted his ice cream in a cup not a cone and that yoghurt was really yoegut. Eventually after we palmed all his quarters (25c) on him we ended up with the correct ice cream and drove home. (Grandma and I didn't have any).

Lunch was eaten with Huffle whilst watching Gardeners World (it's a long time since Huffle and I have watched it and we found it quite funny, though I was sad when he showed a Camellia because we can't grow them here). I left them watching and finished my sewing which was horrible and rushed and I forgot I had taken a photo yesterday and put it on here so I would know what it should look like. BOOOOO.

Small phoned from school and asked if we could bring his football kit as the game was starting straight after school today so I drove it to him and came back home to wait for Smallest to come home. Grandma started dinner and Huffle had a Conference Call and when Smallest got back, Grandad and I cycled with him to school to watch Small's football game. Huffle joined us later wearing his stinky Stoke top!

The two coaches are lady teachers who don't seem completely 'up' on football as we know it. We heard the opposition's coach shout "you need to be a scoring opportunity". Huffle translated this as 'get in the box'. We also heard our coach say "you are inside left (position)". I quizzically looked at Grandad for clarification. He said this was a position from the early 60's and before and hasn't been used since. We wondered where she was getting her coaching skills from? An elderly relative who played in the 50's, then became a recluse with no TV or contact with anyone or anything to do with football? The opposition coach also shouted at her team for cheering when we missed a penalty. Poor sportsmanship fawlty! Once Grandad and Huffle had shouted eagerly from the side to Small, he got into gear and did a good job with his no nonsense English defending. His team won 2-0.

Grandad and Smallest cycled home with only one incident. Smallest fell off his bike and into the ditch head first scraping his knee. Huffle and Small drove home and witnessed Grandad applying first aid with a handful of grass to the wound. He said he couldn't find a dock leaf (apparently one can always wipe ones bum with a dock leaf if pressed). I cycled to the library and told the very nice librarian I was in a hurry and needed to catch up with my kids on their bikes. She walked away and did something else and then chatted to me for a long time while I tried to escape. I took the wrong books back and renewed the wrong ones too.

Eventually I got home. The kitchen was full of lovely smells and dinner was on the way. After dinner and a break while we found a lost remote for the TV (which was found in the pantry), goggles that we still haven't found and the spraying of plaster onto the damaged knee, we had treacle sponge and custard.

The boys went to bed and a tag match happened with Grandad, Huffle and Small ending in Grandad doing his finishing move - The Raspberry.

Oooh look at that beautiful autumn tree

Grandad's OCD moment. Lined up gloves, tidied chairs in a heap, rows of neat tools.

Today's jobs completed by Grandad. Wind chime, compost added to, raspberry canes secured.

While we were out today Grandad went into the Opticians and said "I'm just over visiting from England and wondered if you could tighten my glasses as they keep falling off?". I'M SORRY SIR, WE'RE A DENTIST. This caused a lot of laughing from the people who worked there and the people waiting. He saved this story till later in the day. Grandad we think you may need your eyes testing.