Saturday, 28 August 2010


Now, as you will probably know, we don't mind the odd pet around here, always have a cat or 2 on the go and we seem to adopt endangered species like nobody's business. But just of late, we seem to have some unwanted pets, these little critters:

It's the only explanation I can think of for the run of, ahem, blips we've had around this house lately. First of all, all year we've been getting power cuts due to the grill and the dishwasher, the pair of them just throw the whole fuse box out. Rob talked to a nice electrician and he said it was down to 'cack' on the elements. So, the grill is no longer used and I'm down on my hands and knees every couple of weeks scrubbing the dishwasher element to try and keep it clean enough to actually clean the dishes!
Then a couple of weeks ago the cooker hood went. It was a simple fuse that blew but where would the fun have been in just replacing the fuse? Of course it's blown the whole blooming thing so now we can't use the cooker hood and I have to open every door and window when cooking; fine for now but won't be so much fun in January!
And then the biggy, the boiler finally gave up 2 weeks ago. We've been expecting it for a while but when it finally went it managed to flood the whole bloody garage at the same time. So, a week of trailing to my sister's for a shower and boiling the kettle to wash up but finally we got a new state of the art boiler. They'd ruined the bathroom floor but we went to B&Q and bought a new one and Rob got set to laying it. OK, so all is now well...
...until Rob broke my coffee maker! Aaaarrrggghhhh! My one sanctuary in the world! TBH, you can't blame the poor guy for knocking the jug off, he was probably that frustrated with the house that Jack built that I suppose it's easily done. We email where we got it from to ask for a new jug, they no longer do it but we can contact the supplier direct and ask them to post one out...the supplier's in China!
So, we order a new coffee maker, and add some 'accidental damage' cover on it (it'll be our 4th coffee machine this year!). So, last night I feel all calm that our woes are over and go and take a nice warm bath in my lovely new hot water in the bathroom with my lovely new bathroom floor and dream about freshly brewed coffee again...
"Rob!" calls I, "could you just pop in here, I'm sure I can hear dripping."
In comes Rob, opens the bathroom cupboard where we are greeted by a new, 1 week old boiler water fall! WTF?!!!!! Out of the bath jumps I and grabs any towel I can find "Save the floor, save the floor" yells Rob as he runs down the stairs to phone the plumber.
So, 10.30 on a Friday night big plumber bossman comes out to take a look:
"Well, I've got some good news, and I've got some bad news" says he.
"Oh f***ety f*** f*** f***!" thinks I.
"You have got water...cold water...but there's a fault on the boiler and we need the manufacturers out...who aren't open on weekends...or Bank Holidays".
Oh deep joy! Could it have happened 24 hours earlier? Oh no, like I said, no fun in that! So for the second time in a fortnight, we're back to boiling kettles blah blah blah!
But, not one to be brought down, I decided to take my mind of the little gremlins and relax with a spot of crafting. I need to do birthday cards for a couple of Xander's friends so I decide to do some name cards. I type out the names, switch on my lovely pink Craft Robo, press the button to load the paper...and nothing...nada...diddly squat! I did what you should do with all high tech gadgets: I turned it off, turned it back on again; I called Rob in, he turned it off, turned it back on again. Nothing!
So if anyone sees the little gits after midnight, shove a pork pie in their gobs will you and rid me from all this madness!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Crafting - A Rainy Day Life Saver!

Now as you know, I love any excuse to craft! But this 'summer' I've found it an absolute life saver aswell.

This summer's weather has been dreadful. All the planned 'let's get the paddling pool out and spend the day in the garden' has gone well and truely out the window. I am clinging to the hope that it's all saving itself for a mini heatwave next week when we're under canvas yet again on the East coast! However, there's only so much you can do indoors when the weather's like this and, although Xander would happily play on the Wii all day, there's a little motherly concious saying I can't really allow that.

So, we've been having a bit of a craft at ours when the weather's been bad. We'd collected a big old bag of stash before the hols so we could just pick a project and go:
The other day, Xander's little buddy Izaak came round for a playdate. It was a typical blooming grey day so no chance of chucking them out in the garden, so after a few rounds of Mario Kart and Garfield The Movie, I decided to get the crafty bag out. The boys had great fun:
And they both came away with a super dooper space rocket!

Another use for crafting on a rainy day: when Alvin & The Blinking Chipmunks is on the tv for the 375th time, sometimes it's good to go and lock yourself in your craftroom to stop your ears from bleeding! As my son has the attention span of a flea, I've used the time to try and finish off some project in my Work In Progress pile (for that read, Started It Then Got Distracted By Something More Shiny pile!). This little project is so simple and yet looks fab (now I've finally finished it!). It's a little kit Kirsty bought us all at the retreat, just some chipboard shapes but a bit of paper, ink, ribbon and gloss later and ta-da!

A nice little decoration for my hall to welcome in my visitors (well, those of you that dare venture into Chez Gillard!). We had Rob's mum come to stay for a couple of days this week and I was so pleased with mine that I made her one too:

So, the end of the holidays is upon us so I may have to pack up the craft stash bag, but watch this space around the Christmas Holidays for what we can come up with from a loo roll and a bit of tinsel! ;)

Monday, 23 August 2010


It's been a stay-at-home weekend round here, mainly because we had so much to do. As many of you know, we had a boiler explode on us last week, so all week we've had the plumbers in which meant this weekend we had to clear up the mess!

First and main job was to sort out the bathroom floor, which was completely ruined with all the muck, soldering, rusty water tank water etc. So, we decided on a nice laminate one (easy to mop up after a nearly 4-year-old with poor aim!). Saturday Rob had the unenviable task of lifting the old tiles which apparently must have been superglued down by the previous owners (we tend to come across that a lot round here, along with dodgy paint colours!). Sunday Rob laid the knew floor. Big job laying a new floor so he hired himself an apprentice:

This apprentice even brought his own tools for the job:

"Now what you do is you line it up like so":

"And then you give it a good whack like this":

(LOL, love how he's even practicing the builders bum!).
Now the floor is laid and looks lovely. Only trouble is it makes the rest of the old bathroom look tatty now!
While the boys were doing boy stuff, me and Em did a bit of crafting. I'd promised to make a few of her friends some Fimo fairies, so got those done:
And then found myself with a little apprentice of my own when Em asked me to teach her how to do them. This is her first attempt, a fairy for mummy:

Bless! I think she did really well and this fairy now lives in my craft room!
On other crafty news, I've been preparing for winter (can you blame me with the weather we're having lately?!). After knitting Emily's now nationally famous hat I decided to do Xander one too...then got a bit carried away with a scarf...and then some mittens (OK, so he asked for gloves but that's far too many fingers to keep count of, so mittens he got!):

I think it may be a sure sign he likes them as I've struggled to get them off him today:

So there we go, our little apprentices. Just wondering what jobs we can find for them next. Child labour? Well, times are hard at the moment, the economy needs to recover some how! ;)

Saturday, 21 August 2010

My Other Little Boy

Today's post is dedicated to a very special boy in my life. I was laid in bed this morning with a cup of tea watching the news, when this little fella comes up for a snuggle:

He does it all the time, the second I get in to bed so does he! I love that about him and got to thinking about what a special unassuming creature he is.
Poor Salem (we say that a lot round here!), he hasn't had the easiest time. Rob found him in a carpark 10 years ago, he was only 8 weeks old. He brought him home and we rang the RSPCA to come and get him. They wouldn't as it was in the middle of all the fuel strikes, when we asked what we should do they said 'put him back where you found him', have never forgiven them for that. There was no way we were going to do that so we kept him at home and put up posters around where he was found. A week later, nothing. I wasn't surprised, Salem didn't look very well looked after and he smelt of dirt.
Now, at this stage we had 2 other cats, one being a very dominant tom (a lot of you will remember Tico, in fact most probably still have the scars!) so a 3rd cat was difficult, but we just couldn't not keep him. We named him Salem after this:

LOL, loved that cat! Unfortunately our Salem didn't talk but maybe that's a good thing as I don't know I'd want to know what he said about his life thereafter:
First of all he had to put up with Tico. Tico was the most beautiful cat you'd ever seen but he knew it and he was also vicious (the vets used to use those birds of prey gloves when we took him down!). Then a couple of years later we brought this home:

'What on earth's that noise!' and 12 months later 'Stop pulling my tail!'.
And then to add insult to injury, 4 1/2 years later we brought home another screaming, tail pulling thing! I half expected to see poor Salem at the end of the drive, with a little spotted handerkerchief on a stick flung over his shoulder!
Oh but we'd not finished there! By this stage unfortunately Tico had died. So, 6 months after Xander was born I had the bright idea that Salem was lonely and obviously missed being tormented on a daily basis, so we went out and got this:
Oh yes, she's all cute and fluffy and innocent until she's hiding behind a sofa ready to leap out and pin you down by the scruff of the neck (for god sake Salem, just clawk her one and have done with it!).

Yup, poor Salem hasn't had the easiest ride. But I think he's finally settling down a bit into his old age. Like I say, he likes coming and cuddling his mum, normally when I'm reading my book (which means it's quiet!) and he's started venturing into Emily's room for a cuddle too, now she can control her hands and doesn't automatically pull out lumps of fur every time she goes near him! He can still run like an Olympic sprinter though when he claps eyes on Xander, but hopefully that will come when Xander realises that Salem doesn't need shooting by a Ben 10 alien!

So, this post goes out to my other little boy. He's the one bit of quiet in this house and I'm grateful he's stuck around for the past decade even with everything we've put him through!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Destined For Greatness

Now, I know everyone thinks their kids are wonderful and will do amazing things in their lives. I'm certainly no different there! There's just something about Emily where I know she ain't going to do anything, shall we say quiet. Can you really see her as a librarian (which is ironic as that is one of my prospective career choices!). One thing about my girl, she does go all out and I know that whatever she ends up doing, we'll all have to know about it!

This week, there has been lots of Emilyness going on around here. First of all, she's become famous nationally (well, sort of, if you're impressed by wooly stuff!). If you get down to your local newsagents, look out for this:

I was going to say buy it, but at £4.99 it's a bit of a stretch for knitters, never mind anyone else, I'll save you the fiver right here. Last month, I bought this as it had free wool and a free pattern for a hat. I'd pay a fiver for a hat so was more than willing to hand over Rob's hard earned cash! So, you may remember this post. So chuffed was I with said hat that I emailed the magazine with a picture...which they only blooming well went and printed in this month's mag!

I've never been published before! 6.50am yesterday morning I was out hunting down a copy so when Em got up she could see her beaming face in print!
Now, Em being Em obviously didn't let this bit of fame go to her head....NOT! Beware coming round our house in the next few weeks for fear of suffocation by knitting mag glued to your nose!
In other Emily related news, we've sadly had to say goodbye to Dolly:
Don't worry, Dolly's fine and tucked up in her stable, it's just Em got too big for her and so we had to move on. This morning, she got her first go on her big horse Jet:

Unfortunately I couldn't go as a certain young man was in a silly mood, and silly moods around grumpy horses first thing on a morning ain't a good combination. I was so disappointed but Rob took the camera and got some great shots. Apparently Jet is lovely and so I'm looking forward to meeting her next week.
Next pic, go on, what theme tune's going through your head?!

(Apologies to any non-UK blog readers as you won't have a clue what I'm on about, but I bet everyone born before 1980 in the UK's got it!).
She is amazing on a horse. So much so that we've started considering where she could go with it. I'm not talking Olympics or anything, but there may be some dressage in her future as a little part-time thing. She just has that natural stance with a horse and can control them so well; you only need to look at her posture to see she's a natural.
She couldn't do it full-time anywhay, it would interfere with her career as a wooly hat model! :P
Are you impressed? No, not with Emily, with the fact that it's half way through the school holidays and I can still say nice things about my children! ;).

Monday, 9 August 2010

Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns Grow

That saying seems so apt at the moment. There's been a lot of comments about how much the kids are suddenly growing in the past couple of weeks. Em positively looks like a teenager with her new hair-do:

You see how she's working on that teenage look?!

And as for Xander, well he's going through that transition from toddlerhood to boyhood now. A baby no more, sniff!

Anyway, in a growing kind of theme, we've also been busy making other things grow in the past few months. Now, green fingered I ain't; I look at plants and they shrivel and die! But we've been working hard this year at growing a few things and the kids have got really involved. Back in March/April, they got some of those little 'Grow Your Own' seed kits and we set about planting the seeds. They sat on our windowsill until they were a few inches high and we planted them out in the garden:

OK, this is where my lack of plant skills came in and I let Rob take over! The kids had put too much in for evil garden woman to destroy all the seedlings! So, once they'd grown a bit more Rob got them in the ground and made sure they were watered.

Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago we had this! The green beans were whoppers!

OK, exciting bit now, so me and Xander went out there and picked some for fear of a beanstalk growing and giants coming down to find our golden egss!

And, this is what I love, Xander won't touch a green bean bought from a shop...but he blooming well will if he's grown it himself!

Bonus! Cheap organic veg that the kids will eat!
Watch this space for potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries and, sniff, still ever growing munchkins!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Fimo Fun!

Following my new found love of Fimo, I've been doing a little more experimenting. So may I present....FIMO SLASH!!!!!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Happy Camping!

You may remember this post from a couple of months back. Well, we had a night away in June to give the tent a trial run, then this week we've been away properly.

OK, so when it comes to tents 'happy camping' may be a bit strong. I'm never going to be a 'material as walls' kind of girl, call me strange but I like bricks! But, it was a means to an end so we packed up on Monday and headed off over to the East coast.

Now, I do love it over there, it is beautiful. I spent many summer holidays over there as a kid:

The beauty of a tent is it's up and you're in within an hour. Even just an hour with a 3-year-old's 'can I get in yet, can I get in yet?'! Eventually we let him in to test out the air beds:

We went for a look around the site, went for a swim and then went back to the tent for a proper camp tea cooked on our new shiny camping stoves:

Camping fajitas eaten in the tent on our new camping table, not bad:

We then took the kids down to the 'entertainment' for the night. Em got all dressed up for the disco:

While Xander spent the night on the dancefloor joining in with all the games and dancing:
Me and Rob found a table and grinned and bared the constant repeats of 'A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut'!

Early doors for us Gillards, we put Xander to bed then me and Em did a bit of tent knitting in the dark:

The next morning, we headed off to Filey for the day. After a brew on the seafront it was down to the beach for the obligatory sand castle building:

And beach posing by both Xan:

And Em:
Then it was time for a beach picnic (if only for Rob to use the gag 'sand-wiches' constantly!):

Love Filey! We were shattered when we got back to the tent as we'd walked miles and had lots of good old sea air! An early night for us (well, as early as fellow drunk campers will allow, not much sound proofing in canvas! Thank god for earplugs!).
We woke up to rain the next morning but were still determined to make the most of the day, so headed to Scarborough. First up, fish and chips by the sea; it's a seaside must! OK, so what if it was freezing and raining, we couldn't not:

They were deeeeelicious! Why do fish n chips always taste so much better by the sea?
After a wander on the front, we headed down to the beach so Xander could have his first ever donkey ride:

He loved it and said it was very bumpy!
A quick walk along the beach:

And then the cold got the better of us and we headed back to the campsite for a bit of campfire cooking then to pack the tent up. We were supposed to stay an extra night but we'd been so cold the night before that we decided we wanted our own beds (plus not being woken at 1am by the camps 'revellers' returning from the club!).
So verdict? Well, Antigua it ain't! PlusI ain't ever going to be a camper, I like not having to put my trainers on when I want a wee! But for a couple of nights it's OK, it's fun for the kids and it's quite cool cooking outdoors. The days out were great though, the East coast has such great seaside towns, so the odd weekend here and there in our 'holiday home' would be good. Maybe not a fortnight though eh? 14 nights of that air bed and communal washing up just ain't happening!