Our Week Away (In pictures)

After the Tour de France, TTB and I travelled back “home” (my mum’s home!) with my mum and Alice, and spent the week with them and the rest of my family there. Andy came down the following weekend as well. It was a bright and colourful week with most of our time spent in my mum’s garden. She thinks that her garden is a bit disappointing and that she wishes she had more time to spend on it. I think you can see that it is actually very beautiful (and I hope that she knows that really!). TTB simply adores his Grandma and trailed round after her like a shadow all week. He hardly wanted me at all! All of my family adore him too and my goodness does he like to be the centre of attention. Boy loves an audience.

I think we walked up the farm track almost every single day, the most delightful of which was early on Thursday morning (well, 8:45 and I’d been awake for several hours so not that early really!) when the sun was hot and the sky was perfect blue. The thistles were teeming with butterflies and it was incredible to watch them all. I think they must have all just hatched! They were mainly Meadow Browns (male and female) and Gatekeepers but I was thrilled to see some Ringlets as well, and of course some Small Tortoiseshells. Clustered on a patch of nettles were lots of spiky caterpillars and when I looked them up in the butterfly book at home, I discovered that they were Peacock Butterfly caterpillars so they’ll be flying around before too long. Rather pleasingly, the butterfly book (it’s not the most current one!) has a page entitled “Curiously Shaped Caterpillars”.

We had a couple of trips out for coffee and cake, one followed by a wonderful trip to the woods: TTB’s first time going to the woods as a fully loose running around toddler and I think the photo of him, Alice and Rachel says all you need to know about his enjoyment while we were there. In his new wellies, no less. I do so love taking him to the places that I went as a child, I like that it’s kind of “full circle” and I like that he gets to do a bit of his growing up in “proper” Northamptonshire countryside. As beautiful as North Yorkshire is, it’s just not the same as the South Northamptonshire countryside :-)

It’s startling just how big he is looking lately, it’s always more pronounced when I take him to stay with my family because I see him in a setting that’s not continual. He can reach more, do more and climb on more than he did before. He played with toys that were ours; my brother’s tractor and trailer and the little “bunny bike” that was a gift for one of my early birthdays and has been passed along between all of us. He had a blast in the garden, really. My mum bought him a little yellow bucket so that he had something to carry his snail shell collection around in, something that he is very very interested in. We let him hold a few live ones as well but I can assure you that absolutely no harm came to them and they were safely relocated after he had had a good look.

On our last full day, Saturday, we did the farm track/butterfly walk again and were rewarded with a big red tractor, and then went to Canons Ashby for (a not so great as it turned out) coffee and cake. The car park is manned by some nice old men who will take you up the long path on a golf buggy thing if you are not able to walk well yourself. They have a super little caravan hut thing that they sit in and I peeked inside it: crochet granny blanket! Yes!

Later in the evening, my Grandma came over and we all had a big “summer feast” in the garden. So lovely and relaxed. The watermelon we had was eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenormous … we had to slice it in half to weigh it because the scales couldn’t cope with the full weight. Each half weighed 6lb 10 oz! Incredible. It was so juicy. I LOVE watermelon.

I have so enjoyed writing this post and sorting out the photos for it! Of course it’s just a small selection of the staggering 958 photos I took in one week but I don’t think my blog would cope if I posted them all haha. Anyway I hope you enjoyed looking at them too :-)

x

One Amazing Saturday

(that’s where I keep my bananas too … )

 

I imagine this is old news now as it’s just over a week since the Tour de France passed through! Still, it was a rather amazing day. My mum and I headed into town early (around 8:20am) with Tiny Tin Bird. Town was busy already with people sitting by the barriers, in it for the long haul to secure their space at the front. A brass band was playing on the balcony of the town hall – we heard their renditions of “Daisy, Daisy” (they said this was their only bicycle related song!), “Working  9 to 5″ and “Never Gonna Give You Up” . They were so good! Andy thought it was hilarious that we got Rick-rolled by a brass band but I don’t care, they were great. Later on we heard them doing some Beyonce as well!

After walking around and taking some photos we did a big loop of the town, going down past the station, out of which was pouring hundreds of people. It was quite something to see.

People had been commenting in the days prior that the supermarket shelves were bare from people panic buying, but when we went to Tesco that morning it was so quiet and the shelves were the fullest and neatest I’ve ever seen them. The roads were closed and so the usual traffic noise wasn’t there, it was rather eerily calm walking back home. That is, until you round the corner and see all the people! In the hour or so since we’d been in town there were about three times as many people and still more were arriving. We went home for a late (second!) breakfast of croissants and then we heard the sponsor cavalcade start to come through the town. Alice (my sister) was up and dressed by then so we grabbed her, stuffed TTB into the Ergo carrier on my back and slipped through the back streets into town. It was HEAVING with people. the narrow pavement where we ended up was three people deep and people were trying to squeeze through. What an atmosphere!

We stayed there to watch most of the cavalcade and then I suggested moving further along the road where there was more space, but we’d be a bit further away from the barriers. I’m glad we did, TTB had started to get overwhelmed by the crowds (he sat on my back just saying “no! no!” and although it wasn’t a scrum, people were just moving through politely, he wasn’t happy and I’m glad we moved. He was happy seeing the helicopters flying overhead! It was actually a much better vantage point as we were able to see the road coming down the hill as well.

After the sponsor vehicles had all gone through I took TTB home because it was still an hour and a half until the bikes were due to come through (they hadn’t even started the race by this point!) and he couldn’t wait that long. I so wished I could have stayed! When I got home I followed the BBC live updates and texted my mum about where the cyclists were. When they got to Addingham I left TTB with Andy and ran all the way back down to see them – I made it just in time! Everyone whooped to see the two breakaway cyclists and then it was an impressively long gap before the peleton arrived. It was wonderful seeing everyone cheering, so loud and so happy. I wonder what the cyclists felt like? They must have had cheering like this along the whole route! And then it was over and people began to disperse. One thing I really liked was that so many local people came out to see it (you can tell because they all went back to their houses rather than to the station!) and I liked that because it’s been so pumped up for ages about how many tourists will be coming to the town, and the council sent round quite a grovelling (in my opinion) letter a couple of weeks ago explaining just how much disruption there would be, but I’m glad that the local people did come out and watch too. That’s a bit rambling but you know what I mean.

The crowds of people were so happy, and so friendly and good natured. Everyone was really helpful and accommodating and nobody pushed or anything like that, it was just a great atmosphere and everyone seemed genuinely thrilled to be a part of it. I admit I was rather sceptical beforehand as it just seemed to be SO much disruption for such a short amount of time (seeing the riders), and also more importantly because Andy and I had tickets for something in Leeds in the evening and we thought that we wouldn’t be able to go because all the roads were closed and the trains were so busy. We did manage to though so that was ok :-) It was a once in a lifetime thing to see and I especially wanted TTB to be able to say he’d been there, even if he doesn’t remember anything about it. Because that’s important, isn’t it? Being able to say that you were there!

Good Friends

 

I didn’t really have many friends after I left school. I didn’t really have many friends after I left university. It’s taken me a while to realise the value of myself as a friend, and to believe that my friends do want to be my friend and it’s not just me that is benefiting from our friendship. Over the past few years, and especially since I’ve settled in this town and had my baby, I’ve been really lucky in making some really really good friends. My friends who live locally see each other fairly regularly, it’s good for us and it’s good for our children (who are all similar ages.) I would have really struggled without these friends. Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure and honour of being able to see some of my friends who live further away. I know the internet has it’s faults, but it’s a valuable tool in being able to maintain friendships in real time even though you are miles apart.

Friendships that become friendships between your children as well is really special, and TTB and my friend Katherine’s little boy just get on like a house on fire. They’re going to be unstoppable force when they’re older!

Friends who will happily come to the park with you a hundred times (or thereabouts …!) in a week because your little ones just love the slide so much. Or who will let you put your carseat in their car so you can all go to the ice cream parlour and let your boys loose on the biggest, bestest playground ever. (TTB is in a wooden ship here. It’s amazing.) Or who bring you a surprise bunch of flowers and a toddler-made birthday card on your birthday.

Friends who will enter an auction to win a room in a hotel near to your town and hire a car to come and stay there, AND bring little windmills, bouncy balls and cuddly lions for your toddler. And spend ages chasing him up and down the slide, blowing bubbles for him and entertaining him over lunch.

Friends who give so much love and support to me that when they need it in return I don’t hesitate in getting a train all the way to Leeds just to have a picnic in the park on her lunchbreak with them.

Friends who don’t mind doing the driving over here each time because the train would take me three times as long and I can’t drive, and who don’t mind when I message out of the blue just for a whinge.

And friends who will accompany you to see your very favourite dancer from Strictly on his tour and don’t mind queueing up with you to get your programme signed and your photo taken ;-)

I’m so lucky. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it, really. My friends and family are definitely the main source of the happiness in my life and I’m so grateful to them for it.