Thursday 31 December 2009

Out with the old.

I'm not a fan of New Years Eve. Hubby tends to have to work - like he is this evening. The dancing queen is out partying - like any self respecting 17 year old should be, leaving the young man and I in on our own having a "sad party for 2" (his words, but very apt!!). By contrast, I absolutely love New Years Day. I feel the hope of the New Year to come. I hope it will be a good year and I love the way everything feels some how "new".

We have had a good Christmas here in the Heartshaped household. Everybody seemed to like their gifts, the Christmas Day Dinner went well and everybody got on well. I don't know where the time has gone this week though! Ive managed some walking, some "sale" shopping. People who really know me will not be suprised to know I have done 90% of my entire gift shopping for 2010!!! (Its the Virgo aspect of my personality!!)

Today, we decided to fit in a walk before hubby had to go off to work. We walked around the still frozen lakes in Wentworth. The boys - being boys - tried to break the ice.

Torvill & Dean of the duck world!

When we got home - I indulged in my New Years Eve ritual - searching my garden for signs of Snowdrops! A fabulous sight!

I'm raising my glass to each and every one of you as we prepare to start anew and do it all again! Happy New Year Bloggers. xxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to stop by and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say a very big well done to all of you who pull Christmas off - year after year - on top of everything else you do. I don't know how we do it!!!!

Its been a busy week at the heartshaped house. On Sunday, the dancing queen got to dance in Sheffield on a show featuring 3 of the X Factor finalists - Lucie Jones, Rachel and Ricky. She was thrilled to bits and filmed a lot of it on the DVD camera that we bought her last year. All of the X factor singers spent time with the girls in their dressing room, gossiping and laughing - they were really lovely and I don't think she's come down to earth yet!!
I'm off work now until the 4th January and looking forward to doing the cooking, walking and generally not sitting on my backside for 6 hours a day! Ive rallied the troops today to do a mass tidy and clean up operation on the house. Ive had an ugly cold sore between my nose and top lip, and the young man claims that not only have I behaved like Hitler today, but I have actually looked like him too!!! Very attractive! I shall be needing special powered mistletoe if I want a snog!!

The house looks lovely and smells divine. I am in the first stages of cooking ham for Christmas Eve and I am using Jamie Oliver's Jerk Ham recipe - I used this last year and it was lovely. The marinade is making the house smell great.

We always go the the Christingle service at the village church on Christmas Eve, then Santa visits our street about 8 oclock to dish out a few choccy bars. I have always read "The Night before Christmas" to my kids too. I thought that they might want to do something different now that they are a bit older, but they were horrified that I had even suggested deviating away from our family traditions - so thats the plan.

My mum, sis and her hubby are joining us on Christmas Day for lunch. I'm really looking forward to it.
Hubby is on night shift tonight, so thats a perfect excuse for us all to have a long lie in in the morning (not that the kids ever need an excuse!!).
Anyway, have a great time - whatever your plans.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Walking in a winter wonderland.

It would seem that the world has had a huge fall of snow. I have a private family blog, and my cousin in Texas reported that they had snow there (and lots of it!!) for the first time in 32 years! and even Michela has had loads in Venice! Here in South Yorkshire, we have had just the right amount of snow. Not enough to stop us getting out and about, but enough to make us feel really Christmassy. Mother nature gave my garden a fine sprinkling on Thursday evening,

and last night she helped to decorate the front of the house (with the aid of a leaky piece of guttering!).
So much prettier than any man made decorations.

With hubby and the dancing queen at work, the young man found himself to be Billy no-mates, and I - having finished off ALL OF THE SHOPPING AND WRAPPING!!! (except fridge stuff which I cannot get until midweek) decided we needed a very long walk. I have felt caged for so long!
We walked over the fields where we noticed that sheep have replaced the cows.
We marvelled at the delicate frost patterns.

The lane, though very picturesque, was a death trap. I did my best Jane Torvill impression and ended up almost flat on my face! I have 2 very sore knees!!

The holly is the best I have ever seen it. I'm sure that this means we are in for a cold winter.

I love this house - yet another where "Mr Darcy would come calling".

I love walking with just the young man. He never stops talking and asking questions that I cannot answer!! 2 of todays questions were:
1. Who was Parson Brown? ( I was serenading him at the time)
2. I wonder how much snot the average person with a heavy cold makes in 1 day? - answers on a postcode if you know!!
Last but certainly by no means least, my PIF present arrived from Lyn. I was really glad that I had signed up for this. The parcel arrived all beautifully packaged.

The package contained loads of lovely gifts - mainly on a Christmas theme. Everything was so beautiful. Many thanks Lyn.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Sunday 13 December 2009

Yesterday in Sheffield.....

...I wandered through the Winter Gardens admiring the festive flowers...
The Clematis water feature made from Sheffield Steel.......

and joined in with the heavenly singing of the carol singers.

I wandered into the Peace gardens and watched the dancing fountains for a while.

The Town Hall is very typical of many opulent northern Victorian Town Halls.

As I walked past, I noticed the doors were open, so I sneaked in. Ive never been in before. Apparently it was only open for a private function, but before he turned me back out onto the street, the security guard let me take a couple of photos. He told me that they do tours in August, so I'll have to watch out for these.

I always catch my tram home from outside the Cathedral, so I decided to spend 20 minutes wandering around in here too. The Cathedral building is half old,

and half new. I always believed that this was because it was bombed in the war, but on researching my facts found that this was not the case. You can read why here.

A very seasonal statue.

and the beautiful and very effective light from the roof of the newer tower.

Once home, I put up my tree and started making the house look a lot more festive. Ive tried to copy Carl Wilde's front door decoration. Its similar, but no where near as good. My daughter thinks it looks cool though, and a bit different from our usual run of the mill garland.

Saturday 12 December 2009

The Nativity

Ive always been lucky because my kids have never argued or fallen out much. But one thing that has set them off each year is "Who arranged the Nativity scene last year". They refuse to share this task as each has their own distinct ideas of how it should look. Last year, fed up with his bossy big sister always winning the argument, the young man decided to create his own stable and scene using his favorite creative medium - LEGO. Its so brilliant that it has become part of the trimmings now.

If you look closely, you will see that Yoda plays the part of baby Jesus, with Hermione Grainger and Harry Potter playing Mary and Joseph. One of the 3 Kings is riding a 3 headed dog. There are little treasure chests full of gifts.

Along with the box full of all the glittery decs made each year at nursery and school, this will take pride of place - on the TV table for many years to come.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Indoor Wreath

I wasn't going to post this as it turned out a bit wonky in the photo - but hey, I'm a "warts n all" sort of girl, so here is my indoor wreath - indoor for obvious reasons.
You need to use a synthetic oasis wreath - I used a polystyrene one which led to the wonkiness and also hurt my thumb!! Make a hanger at the back using a length of stiff florists wire. Cover it with tin foil and wrap some old tinsel around it. Cut lengths of florists wire into 1 inch (approx) pieces and bend in half to form pins, then pin on your favorite wrapped sweets. Pin a bauble to hang on the bottom if you feel the need. Et Voila .

Sunday 6 December 2009

Saturday and Sunday treats

As part of my ongoing 50th Birthday celebrations (I told you that they would last all year!!) my best friend took me for lunch to the home of celebrity florist Carl Wilde and his partner John. Carl and John have been opening their lovely home for a "restaurant in my living room" experience since Carl overspent on his lovely garden in 2003 and needed to recoup some of the costs!! Some of you may remember Carl from his appearances on "This Morning" . My friend is in the WI and so I tagged along with them. John greeted us with Warm Winter Pims, then Carl appeared (made an entrance!!) in his trade mark Vivian Westwood outfits. He has a stunning collection of Vivian Westwood clothing, and they do a day when you get to rifle through his collection.

Their home is a fairly typical detached house on a normal little estate in Birstall - just south of Leeds, but you can tell straight away which is their home!! I didn't get a photo of the front door, but this too received a very similar treatment which I am going to try and copy.

Inside the decorations were really lovely.
John does the cooking, and we had smoked haddock chowder, chicken Chasseur, Christmas pudding followed by mince pies and coffee. All really tasty and accompanied with copious amounts of red and white wine. Some ladies of the WI were very tipsy!!
We were allowed to wander on the terraces of Carl's very expensive terraced garden. I thought it was a great idea to put the tree outside, where it could still be seen through the patio doors, but where it made no mess and didn't take up room in the house. It looked lovely when it was lit. It was a great afternoon, and I can highly recommend the experience.

On Sunday, we ventured into the old Industrial heartland of Sheffield, to visit the Christmas Fair at Kelham Island. Kelham Island is now an Industrial museum housing some fascinating relics from when Sheffield was a manufacturing centre of excellence. The river Don was its power source, and as we walked to the museum, we noticed that it was flowing really fast - no wonder!!!

The old industrial units below the bridge are fairly derelict at the moment.

But to the north of the bridge, the lovely old buildings have been converted into stunning looking loft type apartments.

I love the little old houses in the middle . These too are now lived in.

Its really sad to see all the old workplaces that once employed so many Sheffield people making high quality goods .

I think that this old workplace is in danger of being pulled down. Its criminal really. A lot of these places were still manufacturing during my kids lifetime. I'm sure politicians and "greedy captains of industry" will one day realise that we shot ourselves in the foot by sending our manufacturing bases abroad.

Kelham Island has only just reopened after being seriously flooded in 2007. The old buildings are lovely.

Here is the Bessemer Converter that they used to smelt the steel - I always think it looks as if it should be in "Star Wars". Its massive and I would have loved to have seen one in action.

The old river Don engine is an amazing piece of kit. It is the most powerful engine of its kind in existence. They have it working sometimes. Ive heard it, and it is a bit noisy, and it feels like someone is pounding on your chest!

They have one of the surviving "Simplex" motor cars that was commissioned by Earl Fitzwilliam (of nearby Wentworth). I believe that there are only 2 or three of these left now. They attracted the rich and famous when they were made - it said on the info board that the Tsar of Russia had several!!! It was a great thrill to see this as I didn't know that they had one.

The WIP floor was fascinating with lots of objects waiting to be restored.

Interesting facts about what we have made in Sheffield - I worked for 10 years in the offices at "IZAL"!! It was owned by an American Pharmaceutical company when I worked for them, but we still sold the "greaseproof" type toilet rolls!!!!!!!!!!
Another current feature of Kelham Island is that it is home to Kelham Island brewery - a fabulous little micro brewery - and the wonderful Fat Cat pub. The wording underneath the cat says "Ferociously Independent" and it truly is.
I think this pub is like a museum inside and outside. Its how "works"pubs used to be and I am so glad it seems to be not only surviving, but thriving!
I noticed the "Flood " markers on the side of the pub. Gosh! we thought it was bad enough in 2007!!!
We finished off our day with a swift pint and a half in the Beer Garden. Hubby's pint was a Kelham Island Pale Rider, and mine was called "Chritmas Lights" and very nice it was too.

A brisk walk around some industrial heritage, lovely blue sky, and a half of real ale has put me in a great mood for the week ahead. Hope your weekend was lovely.