Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Living The High Life…Again!!! (Photo Heavy!!)

Earlier this month we were lucky enough to be given the use of a London apartment, currently being rented by one of Lee’s friends. You may remember we had this privilege last year, when we stayed at his flat in Belgravia. Well, he sold that flat, but found that he still needed a London base so took out the lease on this apartment.

London August 2011 090 It is in the very salubrious Arlington House which stands back to back with The Ritz, just off Piccadilly!!


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We arrived on the Tuesday to find that the apartment was on the top floor & overlooked Green Park from one side & we could glimpse the hustle & bustle of Piccadilly through the trees at the other!

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London August 2011 094 The boys were very impressed that we got to use our own private lift!!

We were just as impressed that over the road was the historic pub ‘The Blue Posts’….I remember coming here for ‘after work’ drinks in those far off days when I worked in Harrods Perfumery Halls.

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It’s close proximity meant that we could leave the boys in the apartment & enjoy some time soaking up the atmosphere (& a few beers) knowing they were quite safe!! The restaurant ‘Le Caprice’ is also in Arlington House, but sadly was closed during August for refurbishment!!! :(

London August 2011 001 Once we’d settled in we set off for a walk through Green Park & ended up outside Buckingham Palace.

The boys had a great time exploring the statues & fountains…

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…although Alex did point out to Nathan that if he sat there too long, the lion might just pooh in his head!!  Ugh…boys!!

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I was glad that it was as quiet as it was, as Alex doesn’t cope well with crowds & he got to enjoy it all in relative peace…

…as did we!!

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Walking back through Green Park the boys were astonished at how tame the squirrels were, coming right up to us to see if we had anything to eat!  Alex was particularly taken with this one, who followed us for ages as we walked home!

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On the Wednesday morning we set off to Olympia for the ‘Dr Who Experience’…as a family of Sci-Fi fans this was a real treat!

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London August 2011 111We got to ‘help’ the Doctor save the Earth!!! There were plenty of special effects & a fabulous 3D screening! Then it was on to the exhibition & a chance to ‘meet’ all of those weird characters past & present & to explore the inside of the TARDIS!!

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It was surprisingly un-crowded wherever we went & Alex coped remarkably well…even when we got on a tube heading East instead of west!! It helped that a lot of the track in this area is above ground!!

I had thought that after all that excitement, Alex would just want to go back to the flat & chill, but no! As we came up out of Green Park tube station, he asked ‘Can we go for a walk through the park again?’ So we did!! In fact we walked right through Green Park & into Hyde Park, heading for the Serpentine.

London August 2011 154Before we got that far though, we came across this tree! I don’t ever remember seeing it before but it was certainly proving popular with kids & adults alike…there were already several people in the process of climbing it when we arrived!

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It was like a green cave under those branches & Alex made us smile when he picked up a sign that had been laying face down in the leaf mould…it read ‘For Your Own Safety, Please DO NOT climb this tree’ hee hee!!

Well, never one to heed a warning it didn’t take Nathan long to live up to his nickname of ‘Monkey’ & start doing just that!!

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He was soon at the top & not content with that decided to climb back down…on the outside!!

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Which of course needed a little help from Dad!!

That tree gave us almost two hours of FREE entertainment! Then it was on to the Serpentine, where Lee & the boys took out a pedallo & I retired to the lakeside cafe for tea & cake…& to play with my new camera lens!!

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I love this shot I got of the three of them walking back to meet me, totally oblivious that I’m shooting them!!  They were some 200 yards away & I’m pleased with the quality of the shot!


Thursday was a grey day, but we sallied forth never the less!! Once more on the tube, but this time heading for the Thames!!

London August 2011 291 First stop HMS Belfast

…right up Alex’s street with guns & militaria…& great for Nathan too…he shimmied up & down those ladders between decks with no problem!

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…& just in case we ever wondered what Alex would look like with a full beard & moustache….?!!!!

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Me? I was impressed with the laundry room…now if I had kit like this, the ironing would be a doddle!!!


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…& of course I loved the ships cat!! Even though he was stuffed!!! How cool that he has his own little hammock…

…apparently he did when he was alive & the Belfast was at sea…I’ll bet he needed a bit of helping getting in & out though!

London August 2011 359 Then we were off to Tower Bridge…

…we were there to see the bridge raised & lowered, something I’ve not witnessed before…impressive!!

Then we took the lift up to the walkways as the heavens opened!!

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I found the whole story of how the bridge was built & how the mechanism to open it works fascinating. The visit to the engine room Is so impressive…all of that original machinery still working like clockwork!!

You’ll be pleased to hear that my saga is nearing its end!!  I’d like to be able to tell you that on Friday morning we watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. But,in truth, it was absolutely packed…the sun was shining & there were HOARDS of people in Green Park & outside the palace!!  So Lee & Nathan headed into the throng, while Alex & I stayed with the squirrels & just listened from a distance!!!

Lee & I did spend a very enjoyable early afternoon without the boys!!  We window shopped our way along Piccadilly, stopping off at Fortnum & Masons, Brompton Arcade & Simpsons for a browse!! We had lunch in the National Geographic restaurant on Regent Street & then wandered back in the sunshine to pack & head off to St Pancras!!

A thoroughly enjoyable few days in the Capital…& considering we’re on a tight budget at the moment, a very comfortable one too!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by & hanging in there till the end!! Can you believe it’s September tomorrow? If you’re taking part in Shimelle’s ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ this year…see you in the forum! I’m planning to pick up where I left off last year & complete my mini book!! Watch this space!!! :)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Back in the Saddle!!!

No! I haven’t taken up Horse Riding!! (OMGosh!! the very thought of torturing some poor Equine Creature so!!) I mean that after an absence of more than two weeks I finally got to spend some serious time at my scrap desk this week!!!

Sadly, my ‘Explore’ playbook remains uncompleted (go on…you’re not surprised are you?!!) & with September looming I may even get a chance to complete the ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ project I started last year!!!

But this week I have been working on meeting deadlines for my September DT  submissions, which of course I can’t share with you until the first…& my entries for the ‘From Screen 2 Scrap’ 2nd Birthday Celebration challenges, which of course I can!!! 

So…First up is the ‘Children On Their Birthdays’ challenge…to include 1) Blue & White background 2) Photo of a child celebrating their birthday & 3) an Umbrella!!

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Immediately I thought of Nathan’s third birthday & a trip to Disneyland Paris to celebrate….it rained, so an umbrella fitted in quite nicely!!

Next was the ‘13 going on 30’ challenge, with the criteria to 1) Use Polka dot PP 2) Use numbers in the title & 3) Make it girly…Pink, Frills, Bling!! That last bit was a real challenge…I’m not really a pink & frilly person, but I stepped out of my comfort zone & did my best!!!

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I did indeed have some pink polka dot PP!! I also found pink blooms, pink gems, pink ribbon bows, pink foam alpha’s (I really didn’t know I had those!!!!) & a pearl swirl!! I even printed off the photo in a pink tint!!! I think that’s pretty girly don’t you?!!!

Lastly was the ‘Marie Antoinette’ challenge. This required 1) A cluster of flowers 2) A close-up photo & 3) A title including the name of the person in the photo.

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I knew straight away the photo I wanted to use…& that Cosmo Cricket word spinner has been in my stash forever!! I set the arrow at ‘Smart’, even though all the words actually apply to Nathan! I think it’s still quite masculine, even with a cluster of flowers!!

So that’s it! There have been some awesome entries over at ‘From Screen 2 Scrap’ for these challenges, not to mention those for the fourth ‘For Gillian on her 37th Birthday’ challenge & also the standard August Challenge using ‘Holiday Inn’ for inspiration!

Do drop by & check them out & it’s not to late to play along…the deadline is the 28th August & there are some fabulous prizes up for grabs with great odds!!!

May I take time to say that I know some of my US visitors are going through challenging times as a result of some extreme weather conditions at the moment. I’m reading about extreme heat & humidity, Earthquakes & Hurricanes, to name but a few. My thoughts & prayers are with you…stay safe!

To my UK visitors…enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend & let’s not complain if it rains or it’s cold…it could be SO much worse!! Wishing you a good one whatever you have planned!!

Thanks for stopping by…I’ll be back soon to tell you all about our recent few days in London! :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Sharing something healthy….& FREE!!

Just a quickie today! This is something I saw on the lovely Mel’s blog months ago & thought at the time ‘what a great idea!’ but like most things that don’t get written on a list, it slipped my mind!!

Today I received my first box from it was FREE!! Lee received an email from them offering a free first box & the second one for half price…so we both signed up & I must say I am impressed!!!

Graze BoxWhile Lee’s was all  hot & spicy, chilli nuts & Bombay style mixes…I opted for more seeds, nuts & fruits. I must say they all look delicious & come with all the information I need to be able to ‘point’ them for my Weight Watchers plan!

From box three onwards they’ll be just £3.49 per box…that’s great value & we will now both be receiving one very week!!  Well worth it if it gets us away from the habit of a biscuit (or worse!) with every cuppa!!

So…if this grabs your interest & you’d like to try a box yourself (sorry to all my overseas visitors, it’s only UK delivery!) just leave me a comment with an email link & I’ll send you a code for the FREE trial offer. I have eight codes on offer this week, but will have more in next weeks box!!  Just a note that you can cancel registration at any time, so it’s worth just trying a freebie!!

Just before I go…something that made me smile…regular visitors will know that we have been adopted by our neighbours cat, & while he goes home for his meals & leaves us at about 10pm each night, the rest of the day he is usually to be found somewhere in our house!!

On Sunday morning I looked out of our bedroom window to see him lay on top of the car…he didn’t see me, so I grabbed my camera…

Cat on a hot tin roof!
…& yes, he fell off! Of course he landed on his feet & did that thing that cats do so well, walked elegantly off with head & tail held high as if to say ‘I meant to do that!!’

Thanks for stopping by! Only 12 more days till the kids are back to school…scary eh!! Hope you’re all making the most of the holidays!! :)

Friday, 19 August 2011

More Than A Little Bit Spoiled!!

Firstly, a big THANK YOU to all of you that left Birthday Wishes for me here…I was blown away this year by the sheer volume of greetings I received via texts, on facebook, emails, conventional cards in the post, & last but by no means least, here!! I feel very privileged to know that so many people took the time to remember my birthday!!
My Cards & Flowers
Flowers form Sue 

The sideboard in the lounge was groaning under all the cards, & a huge bouquet of gorgeous white Lillies, blue Thistles, white Roses & Snapdragons delivered by my good friend Sue!
Little bag of happiness
Scrap goodies
I unwrapped so many wonderful scrappy goodies…a fabulous pack of monogrammed ‘Post-It’ type notes from the lovely Karen…perfect, as I’m such a ‘list’ person!!…two sets of Sizzix dies, glue dots & a Martha Stewart butterfly punch from the boys…& just look at the amazing ‘Little Bag of Happiness’ that arrived from my good friend Hilary…it contains: an eraser, so I can rub out my mistakes…a coin, so I never need to say I’m broke…a marble, in case someone says ‘You’ve lost yours!!’…a rubber band, so that I can stretch myself beyond limits…a piece of string, to tie things together when it all falls apart…& a kiss (an X) to always remind me that someone loves me!!!  How gorgeous is that?!!! I love it!!
Zoom Lens!BOOKS!!

In amongst the pile of goodies from Lee was a selection of books to replenish my depleted bedtime reading stocks & the ‘piece de resistance’….a new lens for my camera!!  Yay!!!
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Scarf Ro's knit

My sister had excelled herself & had knitted me a ‘curly’ scarf…such fine yarn & almost 5’ in length…must have taken her an age to knit!! She also had framed one of her pastel paintings of ‘Lilly-of-the Valley’…she is quite a skilled artist but is very modest about her talents!!!
Choc Hand maskI also received cash in some of my cards & that has been tucked away for future enjoyment!!
Then, at the hairdressers I was treated to a complimentary ‘Chocolate Hand Mask’ while my blondeness was being assisted!!!
It smelled good enough to eat, but as it’s based on a paraffin wax treatment with added cocoa butter & stuff I didn’t risk tasting it!!!

I think he likes it!

Of course, it was also Alex’s birthday, & he had a nice pile of parcels to open too!
But to be honest, he would have been happy if he’d just had this one!! It’s a game he has been waiting for & talking about for what seems like forever!!
We had to tear him away from the X-Box so that we could go out for our planned trip to the cinema & for Pizza!!
We saw ‘Rise of The Planet Of The Apes’…such a great film…I’ve not been in the cinema when the film got a round of applause for some time!!
ROTPOTA posterDessert & Coffee

Then it was off to ‘Pizza Express’ for supper…I was very righteous & chose the most delicious salad…but I did succumb to a ‘mini’ dessert with my coffee, which was supposed to be black, but I didn’t like to complain!!!! LOL!!!
Then finally, it was back home to chill & do ‘the candle thing’…
Me & Candles
Alex Candles

We shared the cake & as Alex had 15 candles, it was quite handy for my 51!!  I’m not going to say what I wished for…but I’ll let you know if it comes true!!
So that was my birthday!! (& Alex’s too!) We had a really chilled & lovely day…& we still had our family break in London to look forward to!!
Thanks for stopping by…I do hope you’re all set for a wonderful weekend!! Smile