Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Summer round-up

on November 2, 2014

So I’ve kind of got out of the habit of blogging. There are 2 main reasons for this: the first is that I now have a newer iPhone. This is much better, and quicker, at accessing everything Internet-related than our laptop, which is now on the older and creakier side, so I only really switch on the laptop when I’m word-processing. However, the WordPress app for iPhone is A PAIN, chiefly because whilst writing is fine, anything else (linking, adding pictures) is a really struggle, so if I think of blogging I have the choice between awkward app and laborious laptop, and neither tends to appeal.

The other reason is just that I have’t thought of it as much. I used to have thoughts that I wanted to share, things I’d seen that sparked off a chain of ideas which came together on the page, but lately that hasn’t happened so much. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as in some respects I’m just living my life, rather than looking at it through the lens of how I’ll report it later.  But I do still want to record and share things, so I’ll do that sometimes and maybe get back to being a more frequent blogger eventually, or maybe remain as an occasional one.

Over the summer I’ve enjoyed a lot of things.  Here’s a round-up of the best, some of which I’ll describe in more detail in future posts.

Meeting up with all my family, on my dad’s side, at my Aunty’s 75th birthday party in July.   I wasn’t looking forward to this much.  As a family we’re not into big regular get-togethers in the same way as Southern Daddy’s family is, so the last time I’d seen some of these people was at my sister’s wedding in 1999.  Now, that’s not a problem in itself, and obviously we’d have plenty to catch up on from the last 15 years, but I’m not great with people I don’t see on a regular basis – my dad’s neighbours and church friends, mainly – because of one main reason: they can’t tell me and my sister apart.  I don’t know why this is.  We don’t look alike – I am short with brown eyes and look like my mum, she is tall with blue eyes and doesn’t look like anyone much.  I studied languages, she studied sciences.  I married my university boyfriend and we live in the North East with our two children, she married her school boyfriend and they live in the North West with their three children.  Her in-laws live round the corner from my dad, my in-laws live at the opposite end of the country.  And so on.  But for some reason people can’t remember which one is which, who recently had a baby, who’s the linguist, etc.  So there I was thinking that if people I see a couple of times a year can’t work it out, what hope do we have with people I haven’t seen for over a decade?  Plus the fact that people like to point out that I look like my mum, which might be interesting/exciting for them to notice, but for me it’s boring and also annoying after almost 40 years of these comments.  The Bookworm already has to put up with this too.

So anyway, we went to the party, and guess what?  It was lovely!  And amazing.  Everyone knew who I was – because of course (as I realised later) we family, and they all (with the exception of my youngest cousin) remember me from birth, with my proper name and who I am!  And they knew Southern Daddy’s name, and the girls’ names too.  We had a delightful afternoon tea in my eldest cousin’s garden and the weather behaved perfectly the whole time, and we all chatted on and on, and we tried to leave about three times before we made it to the car without being waylaid by someone else who wanted to talk!  And the best part of all?  Everyone there looked like someone else – in fact we’re all just turning into the generation above us.  My aunty has turned into my Grandma, my dad into my Grandad (which I hadn’t noticed till I saw him next to my aunty!), my cousin’s children are all turning into my cousins.  And nobody mentioned it at all.

Attending a performance of Götterdämmerung to complete Wagner’s RingMy best uni friend and I have been meeting up once a year to see part of the Ring cycle, and we’ve now managed the whole thing!

The Bookworm moving from primary to secondary school.  The Bookworm’s year in our tiny primary school went out in a blaze of glory, paired as their final year was with the school’s 120th anniversary celebrations.  This meant exciting activities all year through, culminating in the school play at the end of the summer term.  Usually this is based on a popular children’s book, with the Year 6 pupils taking the lead parts and the rest of the school coming on in groups to play lesser parts (anything from Indians in Peter Pan to chocolate bars in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, depending on age), but this year the play was a retrospective of the school’s history.  All the parts were played by Year 6, with other years coming on to perform a dance, each representing a different period of history.  We saw Edwardian chimney sweeps, 20s flappers, 50s rock’n’rollers, 70s disco dancers, 80s pop-steppers and 90s ravers (the Butterfly’s class dancing to Rhythm is a Dancer).  The Bookworm played the part of the school bell, narrating everything she’d observed over the development of the school from then till now, and it was all fantastic.  We have it on a DVD, I’m glad to say.

Her transition to secondary school has been smooth and relatively straightforward, despite the journey being a fairly long one each day and very few of her former classmates moving to the same school.  It was a difficult decision and it’s good to know we made the right one.

The Handlebards’ second tour.  After last year’s wonderful experience we were keen to see the Handlebards again this summer.  Sadly, the UK tour was in the opposite direction (south to north), meaning that there was no way we could get to Stratford for another visit to The Dell.  We opted to see them in early July at the Cycle Hub in on Newcastle Quayside instead, and we were not disappointed!  It was a much more intimate performance as it took place in the small café seating area outside the hub, so it had a different feel – especially with the noise from boats down on the river interrupting at times (but only adding to the comedy!).  We saw The Comedy of Errors this year, we sat with friends (one of whom got to take part as an impromptu extra), we had a fun picnic… we’re already looking forward to next year!

Visiting 3 different branches of Bettys!  I’ve always loved a trip to Bettys, and this year I decided was the year to try out some branches I’ve never visited.

A holiday in Norfolk.  We hadn’t realised when we booked it, but the holiday rental this year turned out to be part of a Country Club resort which reminded me very much of Kellerman’s in Dirty Dancing!  Most of the time we were out and about exploring the local area, but there were activities provided all week for families and we took part in a couple.  The Bookworm came second in the scavenger hunt which meant that we had to go to the awards ceremony and get-together on the last night, so she could be presented with her medal.  As we all sat there in the bar, in our little family groups, I couldn’t help expecting Patrick Swayze to turn up, complaining about Baby’s being put in a corner and asserting that he always did the last dance (it didn’t happen, despite the entertainment leader’s name being Johnny).

Our trips out and about were wide-ranging and varied – a boat trip to see seals, our first attempt at geo-caching (which resulted in our getting rather wet in a sudden storm!), crabbing on Blakeney pier – and even our usual stately home visits had a different feel.  We’ve been members of the National Trust for many years, but until recently we’ve definitely been a “lunch in the restaurant, trip round the house and adventure playground if you’re good” kind of family, as mine was when I was growing up.  But last year our eyes were opened to more possibilities.  Whether it was the good weather, the fact that our children were growing up or just the increasing range of activities dreamed up by the events team, we ended up spending almost a whole day at Nostell Priory on our way home from holiday – from just after opening time to just before closing.  I’ve never really been an outdoorsy person but there was just so much to do!  This year we visited Blickling, Oxburgh and Felbrigg Halls, as well as Sheringham and Clumber Parks and Peckover House, and on each occasion could have stayed there the entire day (at Blickling we did, and still had more we could have done before we came away!).  There are self-guided garden tours, scavenger hunts and trails for children (indoors and out), second-hand bookshops to browse and giant garden games to play (think Jenga, draughts, snakes and ladders, connect 4 but on a larger scale) at all the places we’ve been this summer.  At Felbrigg there was a box of traditional toys such as skipping ropes, hoopla and balls and cups.  In addition, the 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ scheme means that most places are offering the chance to do some of the 50 things on any given day, from tree-climbing and hill-rolling to nature art and bug-hunting.  One of my children has now passed the 11¾ milestone but doesn’t mind continuing to participate, and I can see us being members of the National Trust for many years to come, since if anything we’re getting more out of it as time goes by.   And some of them are ideally placed for a stop on a long journey that’s much more enjoyable than a motorway services!

New web-based TV seriesSince The Lizzie Bennet Diaries came to an end I’ve investigated several more similar series, some of which I like and some I didn’t so much.

Reading some great books. As usual I’ve been doing lots of reading over the year, and have some thoughts on some of the books I’ve read.

Cooking and baking.  I enjoyed watching Mary Berry’s cooking series earlier in the year and have managed to find some of the recipes published online.  Her lamb dhansak is a particular favourite for a Saturday tea in our family now and it was such a surprise to my spice-hating Butterfly to find she liked it, that she’s been able to try some other new dishes off the back of it, on the grounds that she might like those too!  I’ve also made Mary’s Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake several times this year, including for each of my daughters’ birthday cakes!  We all enjoyed the Great British Bake-Off too, and I’ve been baking a lot from Recipes from a Normal Mum, a book by Holly Bell who was a finalist in 2011.  A friend and I were lucky enough to go and meet Holly at an event locally, where she was interviewed, signed our books and chatted whilst we enjoyed various cakes and goodies made to her recipes by the hosts of the event.  One of my favourites is the Turkish Delight friendship cake, which isn’t available online, I’m afraid, but comes highly recommended!

That’s it for now – hopefully a bumper post with several little off-shoots should make up for the long silence!


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