Back to reality

Our final leg of the canal journey took us through beautiful countryside, with glorious sunshine.

Peace and quiet

Friday started off with a gentle mist rolling down the canal. The sun was out and the sky was a clear blue. Other than the birds singing there was hardly a noise. It was so quiet in fact that when a hot air balloon passed overhead you could actually hear it. I live in a town, near a road and it is unknown for it to be so quiet.

There were fewer locks today, but the ones we passed through were very pretty and well kept. We moored up at Penkbridge, where we had a lovely meal at the Littleton pub, which was a short walk into town.

On Saturday we were up early as we had to make our way through the last few locks before returning our boat. We had a short stop off for breakfast before heading off home.

An American in Paris

Most of the weekend was spent washing and sorting out after our holiday. The weather was still beautiful, so we had all the garden furniture out and washed that too.

Later, on Sunday afternoon, I had booked to go to the cinema, to see An American in Paris, which had been filmed from the stage show. It was absolutely amazing!

The singing and dancing by all the cast was superb. It was a really great end to what has been a wonderful week.

An eventful week (2)

So the second part of the week was spent celebrating our youngest daughters 18th birthday. It’s really hard to believe that she is eighteen already! When we used to go on holiday in a big family group she was always the baby and now she’s an adult too.

Celebration cocktails

On Thursday it was her actual birthday and we had a bit of a lazy day at home then celebrated by gong into Leeds for cocktails. There were a couple of friends and one of the mums who I am also friends with. We had a few cocktails together and then the young ladies went of to celebrate whilst me and my friend returned home. I’m definitely not cut out for partying until the early hours any more.

Party time!

On Friday evening we had the official party at our local country club, which sounds much grander than it actually is, but it was a great venue for her to be able to celebrate with her friends.

Early in the evening the family guests began to arrive and I was a little concerned when there were very few friends there. However I was reliably informed that no one goes out that early and true to form about 1 1/2 hours later the friends began to drift in and there was a steady stream of them for the rest of the evening.

They were a great bunch of young people. They probably drank too much, but there were no problems and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, which was the main thing.

The food consisted of take away pizza, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread and chips, followed by tiers of donuts. I was a bit dubious when she told me that this was what she wanted, but it actually worked really well and certainly as much easier than preparing loads of food that no one eats.

At the end of the night the younger ones went off to party some more and yes older folk went home to put our feet up.

It was great to see the young people enjoying themselves and was good to get the family together too. I may be biased but I’m really proud of how she has grown up and what a lovely articulate and sociable young woman she has turned into.

The only downside to this week is that I have  probably eaten my body weight in donuts and pizza and really need to get back on the healthy eating, but for this week, life was not about eating lettuce and fruit, but about spending time as a family and celebrating their achievements.

 

Oh What A Night!

I love it when a plan comes together

So after six months of planning this weekend was my fiftieth birthday party. I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. When people had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, there wasn’t anything that I wanted more than to have all my friends and family together in one place. It’s not that I wanted to be the centre of attention, or to show off, just to see everyone enjoying themselves, laughing, dancing and singing and to create the type of memories that money cannot buy.

Viva Las Vegas

I chose a Las Vegas theme for my party. Some people that know me well were a little surprised at this as I’m not really the bright lights, loud, brash and over the top type of person. Years ago I was the type of person who would have said that I wasn’t particularly bothered about travelling to the USA, but then we took our girls to Florida and all that changed. I loved the customer service, the attention to detail and the way that everything is just so much “bigger and better” than anywhere else. After this I was hooked and shortly afterwards visited Las Vegas for our wedding anniversary and I absolutely loved it! We returned again for our 25th Anniversary and it was just as magical the second time around.

I thin the reason that I love it some much is that it is just so not me. I love the countryside, walking, evenings in with friends, but there is also a side of me that loves a party and just having those moments where you can let your hair down and just be a little bit wild and slightly bonkers.

Worth the work

So I had a venue, got a DJ booked, I’d ordered a casino, arranged the catering and two ofmy eldest daughters lovely friends were coming to sing for me. I made table decorations, bunting and ordered sweets to make a candy buffet. I had decided on my playlist, which I have talked about on my blog previously.

I made my own invitations and sent them out, after writing, rewriting and writing again my guest list. There were loads more people I wanted to invite, but was limited for numbers. I managed to narrow it down to 120 people. I wanted the people there who had played a big part in my life and who would know how much that night meant to me.

Friday was spent with my youngest daughter making mountains of cupcakes. On Saturday the hairdresser did my hair at 930am. I was convinced that it would be a mess by the evening, but fate smiled on me, there was no wind, rain or drizzle and by evening it still looked the same.

My eldest daughter and her friends arrived safely and on time on the train from London. My youngest daughters friend came and did my makeup for me and we were ready to go.

At the venue, just before people arrived, I suddenly had that moment of doubt that it would all go horribly wrong and I started to panic. Everyone was telling me to calm down and that it would be fine. Once people started to arrive I started to calm down and enjoy myself. And boy did I enjoy myself!

It couldn’t have been better

The evening started with my daughter’s friends singing some swing songs. They were amazing! I haven’t named them on her, but hopefully with their permission I will share some of the video footage on a future blog. When the boys got me up to dance with them I was way out of my comfort zone, but I embraced it, went with it and actually enjoyed being the centre of attention. As a surprise for me my husband and eldest daughter sang a duet – Me and my shadow, which was so good.

 

Afterwards we had superb food and the casino was open. People were up dancing and we had table magic. My lovely brother in law took loads of photos.

I danced all night and I have blisters on my feet to prove it!

I didn’t drink too much. early in the evening my youngest daughter was trying to get me to drink jaeger bombs, but I wanted to enjoy the evening and still remember it in the morning! However she made me promise that at 1130pm I would drink a jaeger bomb, which I did! I think this was my first one ever and I quite enjoyed it.

I was so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves and I have to say that it was everything that I wanted it to be and more!

Sometimes you can plan things and they don’t end up being what you expected, or don’t make you as happy as you think they will, but on this occasion I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it felt to have such superb family and friends, who all joined in with the partying and many of whom embraced the theme by coming in fancy dress.

I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

The morning after!

This isn’t a tale of regret or hangovers!

Sunday morning dawned and was a beautiful sunny day. We had not gone to bed until about 230am, but I was wide awake at 630am, I think it was all the sugar!

I sat out in the garden, in the sunshine, with a cup of tea and waited for everyone else to wake up. We had six of my eldest daughter’s friends staying over and also my youngest daughter’s best friend. It was so great to have a house full of young people again.

I cooked breakfast for everyone and we sat out in the garden most of the day, eating sweets and cupcakes. I also broke one of the golden rules of our family and opened all my presents, even though my birthday isn’t until later this week.

Later in the day we went to see my daughter and her friends off at the station and then went to my brother in laws house to look through all the photos, which were superb and will save those brilliant memories for me.

I have to say it has been the best birthday weekend ever. I feel so lucky to have all these wonderful people around me and want to thank each and everyone one of you who made this such a happy and memorable birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m just a mum!

Proud mum moment

My youngest daughter took part in the school production of Billy Elliot at Woodkirk Academy this week and what a production it was! It had sell out shows every night.

The children and young people who took part were so talented and put their hearts and souls into the singing, dancing and acting. It was so good to see young people in a good light, compared to many of the things we see in the media everyday. From the performers on the stage, the orchestra and the back stage crew, the children were an absolute credit to their school.

Both of my daughters have been involved in productions at the school over time and I can honestly say that they have been some of the best performances that I have seen. I have to pay tribute to all the staff who are involved too as it would never happen without their hard work.

I couldn’t begin to pick out particular performers as they were all so good, but I have to say, even if I am a bit biased that my youngest daughter showed an aptitude for comedy timing that I didn’t know she possessed. Definitely a proud mum moment.

The performances, of all the children, in my opinion would rival any professional production. Considering that the oldest performer on the stage was eighteen years old, that’s pretty impressive.

Moving moments

Billy Elliot is one of those shows that has you laughing one minute and crying the next. It tells us a lot about family and community, but also about how it is sometimes really difficult to be different and that it’s okay to dream of a future that is out of the norm.

I absolutely love the show, One of the most moving moments for me is when Billy shows his dance teacher a letter that his mum wrote for him before she died. I can never listen to the song without being moved to tears. At the end the dance teacher tells Billy that his mother must have been a very special woman and he replies “No, she was just my mam”

Says it all really

A day for mothers

Today in the UK it was Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s day as it is more commonly referred to. It is a celebration of mothers, but also these days families as a whole.  I spent a lovely day with my husband, two daughters and extended family, at my sister-in-law’s house, where we all had lunch. It was lovely for us all to be together as we haven’t done that for a while. It was made even better by it being a glorious spring day. This allowed for sitting in the garden during the afternoon, chatting and relaxing. I couldn’t really ask for anything else to make it a perfect day.

It was so lovely to have both my girls home this weekend and to see them together, having grown into two very lovely young women (in my humble opinion). I am so proud of them both and feel very fortunate to have been given the privilege  of being a mother.

The eldest one has now gone back to London now, but will be back home in a couple of weeks for the big 50th birthday party. Can’t believe its so close now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashed It!

Pleased as Punch

My first “smashed it” day was on Tuesday, when I finally managed to reach the point where I have lost a stone! I am so pleased and it feels like a massive achievement. I know it’s taken about nine weeks, but it has definitely spurred me on to keep chipping away at that weight bit by bit.

The second “smashed it” moment came on Saturday morning at Parkrun. Again this has been slow progress over the last nine weeks, but I managed to get my time down to under 40 minutes (actually 36:51), which considering that when I started in January it was taking me 46 minutes, this is definitely a big hurdle that I have managed to finally leap and makes me feel that all the hard work has been worthwhile.

Proud as a Peacock

I had one of those moments on Wednesday when I remembered how wonderful it is when your children do something that just makes you so damn proud. I attended a BTech performing arts concert in which my youngest daughter took part. She had been talking about the fact that she was going to do a solo of some sort and by Sunday night, giving herself only three days to prepare, she finally decided what she was going to do. Sitting in the concert my husband and I were convinced that she would chicken out, but were also really nervous that if she did do it, it might not be the best performance we’d seen, considering the lack of rehearsal. Needless to say, her rendition of “Cabaret”, was superb. She has the knack of just being able to pull things off when she really needs to. This left me wondering why I ever doubted that she would, which is often the case with her.

Confusing Contradictions

This week was International Women’s Day, which saw a number of inspiring events, celebrating Women and their achievements. However there were some stories in the news that felt a bit of a contradiction to this.

One was the Bishop who stood down after attracting criticism for his opposition to women priests. I don’t agree that anyone should come under personal attack, but what other organisation would employ someone in such an important position, who automatically alienates a large part of their members.

The second was a female Judge who made comments regarding women who get drunk and are raped. I think as women we should certainly be aware of our own safety and should not take unnecessary risks, but to mention this as part of a trial and seeing the sentence that was handed out, makes me feel like we have stepped back in time to the days when victims were made to feel shame for being victims.

So ladies let’s keep celebrating our achievement, because although we’ve come a long way, we still have very far to go.

 

 

Thank you for the music

A Party Playlist

As part of the planning for my 50th birthday party , I have been starting to devise a playlist. I thought that this would be an easy task, just to pick some music that gets people up on the dance floor. However, It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I know that a lot of the people who are coming won’t have seen  each other for some time, so I wanted to have some “background” music to allow people to catch up with each other and chat. The plan then is to have this music until we have food, followed by music for people to dance to. Still not an easy thing to do as there is so much music that I love to listen to, that makes me happy, that makes me want to dance or makes me want to sing along. So how do you start to choose the right music for the occasion ?

A meaningful playlist

Music is such an important part of my life and always has been. In making a playlist, I wanted to choose music that has meant something throughout my life. Music reminds me of past events, both happy and sad. There has been music played at weddings, parties, celebrations and also at funerals. There’s the music that just has the words that I need at that moment in time. When I hear that music again it takes me back to the emotions that I felt, offers some peace or allows me to take my mind elsewhere. Music can help us to express ourselves, whether through singing, dancing, daydreaming or sometimes having a good cry.

I can’t say that I have a particular taste in music. As a child I remember my parents and brothers listening to various things, from classical to reggae to heavy metal music. I was a teenager through a big part of the eighties and love that era for it’s music which I still listen to now. I love to listen to musical theatre soundtracks. I have gone to church most of my life and have favourite hymns and religious music.  As my children have grown up, we have gone through various stages of liking different music and I have listened to them all with an open mind, although I have begun to sound a bit like my mum, when I say things like “It’s a bit loud” and “It doesn’t have much of a tune”

So what have I chosen for my playlist?

Here’s just a taster:

Rick Astley – Never gonna give you up- from when I met my husband

Journey – Don’t stop believing – Just says it all really

Scissor Sisters – I don’t feel like dancing – Reminds me of my girls being in pantomime when they were little and always makes me want to dance

Michael Bublé – Feeling Good – Another song that my daughters did a dance routine to which made me so proud and is always uplifting

What music would you choose that marks important events in your life?