A morning in the attic – up to my knees in memories

This all came about because my OH couldn’t find the black luggage label.  The label is one of two we purchased in a little shop in Jasper, three years ago; it is made of black leather, with a cut out of the first letter of our surname in a contrasting pink leather – sounds a bit OTT, but trust me, it looks very smart when attached to one end of a piece of luggage. And different. I have never seen any more like them anywhere. I found the other one, the pink one with the black letter, but there was no way he was going to take that one with him on his trip!

I thought perhaps it had got inside one of the other bags and said as much, which was a mistake and  resulted in an attic search on Saturday.  Our attic, like most I guess, is the respository for things that don’t quite fit anywhere else, or you can’t quite bring yourself to throw out. Like luggage which takes up far too much room to be stored anywhere else; an old artificial Christmas tree, which gets a revamp every year and placed in the porch and all the decorations that adorn the “real” tree when it comes, various tins, boxes, bags, records, my old hockey stick, a pair of crutches (??) the list goes on. 

So, rather begrudgingly, I took myself off to the attic, armed with a couple of bags for sorting the rubbish and my phone in case there was an emergency and I was needed (please) and the thought I would catch up with my twitter friends if I got bored!  That worked out well,  until I realised I was spending a little too much time tweeting and not enough time sorting!

I checked the luggage and found the black tag, yes! That is when I should have stopped and gone downstairs triumphantly with the find, but I didn’t because underneath the oldest of the bags, was a pile of photographs.  And so I started going through them. Big mistake, huge.

You remember those pre-digital days, when we took snaps on rolls of film we bought at the chemist or supermarket, wound carefully onto the spool in the camera, away from bright light in case we damaged it?  Then when we had finished the roll, it rewound, if you had the latest camera; or you had to rewind by hand, turning for ever until the film was wound back into its’ case. Then you took it out and handed it in to be developed.  You waited with bated breath, hoping that the photograph you had taken of your grandmother’s 80th birthday party, with all those relatives you had never met before, turn out OK as they all want a copy as a keepsake.  Well, there were envelopes full of photos like that!

Photos of my children on their first bikes,  at the beach, on a slide, running in the egg and spoon race; a birthday party with a cake in the shape of a fire engine all red icing with white ladders on the top; school outings and new uniform days,  the first day of “big school” all wide-eyed and anxious; scrubbed within an inch of their lives, ready for whatever was coming their way.

There were photos taken at friends weddings – why did I ever think I would look good in an outift like that? It is the clothes that date the photographs more so than the people, who somehow manage to stay more or less looking like they always have. Then the babies started to come along and there are piles of photos of them.  Then, from somewhere at the bottom of the pile I found photos of my parents.  They have both gone now, but looking at them, laughing into the camera lens, on holiday in Ibiza, the Yorkshire Dales or the Scottish highlands brought tears to my eyes and I remember them more clearly seeing the photographs, than  I ever do just thinking about them.

I spent a long time in the attic. My knees were sore and I only had a small pile of rubbish to show for my morning’s work, but there were lots of happy memories


A Bank Holiday in Wales


As there seem to be lots of people “stay-cationing” this year ( that’s holidaying at home to you and me), I thought I’d tell you about a  great festival taking place on the Bank Holiday weekend in Bangor, North Wales -“”Gwyl Y Faenol Festival 2010”.

Westlife will start things off on Friday 27 August with a concert at 8pm, followed on Saturday by an Opera Gala night with Bryn Terfel and Rolando Villazon.  Bryn Terfel actually started the festival and it will be great to see him back this year.

Tan y Ddraig switches to Sunday night when there will be a great combination of top Welsh bands playing together with acts like Masters in France, Pete Lawrie and the BRIT award nominated band The Feeling. Shed Seven, Athete  and The Roads are also on the bill.

On Bank Holiday Monday,New Zealander Hayley Westenra  and Rhydian appear in a lunchtime session then later, there is the Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary Concert  at 1.00pm, in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund

Closing the Festival will be Al Murray, the “Pub Landlord”  with his own special brew of jokes and stories.  He will be joined by Ed Byrne and Lloyd Langford with other names to be added to the bill soon.

A first for this year, will be Boulevard Bwrd Bryn; a wonderful food market showcasing local produce, together with a brilliant display of art and craft, all the work of local talented artists,  Waitrose are sponsoring a demonstration kitchen, so there will be something for everyone.

Tickets are on sale now and you can see more by visiting the Festival website

Ballooning over Bath

I admit it, I love to visit  Bath! It is a beautiful Georgian city, with buildings of mellow stone with wide windows; home to the Roman baths, Sally Lunn buns and Jane Austen heroines and, though I have walked around most of it, I have never ever seen it from the air!  So, for a recent “significant” birthday, this was where I set off on my birthday balloon flight with Virgin.

We arrived mid afternoon and while my husband watched, I joined my fellow balloonists as we went through the safety procedures and completed our forms. Next, we helped lay out the balloon on the ground, marvelling at the size of it, then, when all was ready, I clambered into the basket and assumed my crouching position as instructed, so that when the basket was righted, I would be sitting nicely in my place.

Eventually when the balloon was inflated and we had the final all clear from air traffic control at nearby Bristol airport, with a few controlled blasts on the burners, we slowly lifted skyward.  Up, up until we were level with the tops of the trees in the park; then up again till we caught the breeze and started to drift ever so slowlyover the city.

Looking down was a strange experience. There was no noise, no whoosh of air, but then we were hardly moving  and I suddenly remembered there were no engines either! The pilot was superb, handing out champagne once we were high enough for him to be free to do so, pointing out the sights below, The Circus, the famous Royal Crescent etc etc. He told us of other flights and how he worked out where to land.  He told us about the recovery team that were following below us and lots of other anecdotes.

The time passed slowly as we drifted on, I looked down as a startled deer broke cover and ran across an open meadow to the safety of the trees on the far side.  I watched horses running round a field, kicking and arching their backs as they frolicked about; I saw people washing their cars who waved to us as we went by, some running in for their cameras to capture the moment.  Then, as the sun started to disappear, the pilot starting looking for a landing spot.  We found that it was a bit of a hit and miss affair, as you never know where the wind will take you and the pilot  had to have permission from the owner to land in their field.

Finally, after lots of calls between the pilot and ground support, he found a suitable place to land.  I looked down and saw a group of people gathered round a bonfire in a field behind  a farm building, having a BBQ.  They waved to us very excitedly and motioned for the pilot to land.

He found a spot and put the balloon down as though he were placing a cup on a saucer.  Perfect.  The basket stayed upright as we landed, was dragged for a few feet across the long grass, before coming to a complete stop.  When we were allowed, we all clambered out, chatting away about what we had seen and how we felt and what an amzing experience it had been.  As my husband had been quite clever and followed behind the support team, meandering through the country lanes following the balloon, I didn’t have to make the journey back to the start point with the others, I could just get in the car and head home.  Which is what I did, clutching my flight certificate.  It was a brilliant experience, one that I would recommend to anyone, even people like me who don’t like heights!

Getting the balloon ready

Royal Crescent

Looking down on The Circus

Up a bit higher......

The one in front

Staying Young

1. Enjoy the simple things

2.Laugh often, enjoy your life

3.If  you are wrong, admit it

4. Tears happen but you WILL endure

5. Keep learning new things don’t let your brain get idle, keep it working

6. Look after yourself, eat sensibly, exercise regularly

7. Tell the ones you love that you love them, every chance you get

8. Only keep friends who are cheerful – you don’t need the miserable ones

9. Don’t envy others – you have all you need

10. Love yourself, if you do, others will too

Life is not a dress rehearsal, seize it with both hands and enjoy it

Delicious Rocky Road ice cream ♥

The Recipe

7oz tin of condensed milk

1oz cocoa powder

8fl oz double cream

4 fl ozs milk

1tsp vanilla extract

1 oz mini marshmallows

Put the condensed milk and cocoa powder into a medium saucepan and cook stirring, over a low heat, till the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down a little. Stir in the cream, milk and vanilla and stir well.  Put mixture into the fridge until quite cold.

If you have an ice cream maker, pour mixture in, then freeze/churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Add the marshmallows halfway through the freezing process

If you don’t  have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a  metal bowl (this helps to speed up the freezing process). Place in the freezer for 30 mins, remove and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, making sure any ice crystals that have formed are broken up; return to freezer for 40 mins, then remove and beat again with mixer, repeat the “40 minute freeze & beat cycle” three times, this should give you a total of 2½ hours freezing time.  Add the marshamallows after about 2 hours so that they don’t all fall to the bottom of the mixure.

This recipe makes enough for four servings.

If you prefer a Rockier Road add 1oz of either chopped walnuts or pecans with the marshmallows.

Top with melted chocolate or your favourite chocolate sauce

Enjoy! ♥