Today We Said Goodbye To Louisa

The first blue sky in months! Today was that illusive day, found only once every four years, the 29th February. We set off early and arrived at the Ashton Court Estate near the city of Bristol at 11am. The children had chocolate in the car on our arrival. I thought ‘Louisa didn’t play golf did she’? We were at the cafe on the golf course. I spoke to Zoe, my niece. ‘We are at the cafe in the old stables’ she exclaimed! Okay, 20 minutes later we arrived. It was an informal affair, just close friends and family.

After 30 minutes we set off to the rose garden for her mum Mary to lay her ashes. My heart goes out to Mary, Zoe, Hannah and their brother Daniel who sadly could not be there.

The children were a tad loud throughout the day, but did amuse, even bring a few smiles. Thor was probably the screamiest he has been in quite a while, especially at the pub that we went to after the rose garden.

Rest in peace, dear Louisa.

That Darned Bear

You might remember that all of the children have a very special soft toy! Tara has her beloved Kangy and Kit. Thank you uncle Paul and auntie Kylie for that. You may also recall Thor’s much treasured MiMi (John’s baby gift) and his new, much loved Paddington bear, a gift for Christmas from Sindy. Aaliyah on the other hand, has a little pack of dogs (she loves dogs) including Remus and Gracie we have Doggy and Doggy, the latter Doggy being a Christmas gift from myself. Now, Caleb ‘bonded’ with Chicky, an Easter toy who used to only come out at Easter, but Caleb took pity on him a year or two back and made him a much loved full time soft toy! And finally we come to Amritsar and her very strong bond with a little white and green bear called Gurney, a gift from cousins James and Theo. Little did we know that from a pile of their old and slightly tattered baby bears brought over on a visit when the girls were still babies, that Gurney would be elevated to that special mantle of ‘Much Loved Bestie’!

No, Gurney did not come down this week for a nose piercing, rather for the fact that he had his little button nose nibbled off last week by Tarka, our friends dog whilst on our East Devon visit. I thought that the best way forward was to darn his nose back into existence and Darn away I did.

Not quite as good as new, but certainly as good as having to make do. Amritsar is smiling once again and Gurney is gurning away as happy as can be.

The next morning Kangy appeared for some surgery on his neck, the following morning was Paddington’s turn for a full back seam operation. Everyone is happy once more!

24 Hour Upgrade

What with the Apple Corporation killing my iPhone 6 Plus, I have had to do the upgrade that they would like us all to do. How did they do this you might ask! Well, firstly they stated that ‘older iPhones’ might encounter problems! Then they purposely uploaded software that would slowly kill your phone. They did tell us that this was going to happen after all, so not all bad eh? I believe that the French Government has fined the Apple Corporation millions of Euros for this practice. The U.K. government couldn’t give a damn!

The first of their killings was iMovie. No longer available on the 6 Plus. Then with the latest IOS update in early February (for phones older than iPhone 7), they killed my fingerprint recognition, then the phones microphone died, people could hardly hear me on a phone call! Though strangely, no problem with a WhatsApp or Skype call (so definitely not a hardware problem). There is also the situation of different apps just popping up all over the shop! Oh dear, they really have destroyed what was a perfectly good phone. A phone that I saved up for and purchased it with pride, as I have with all of my previous iPhone purchases.

Upgrades in the past, I made by choice. On this occasion, I was forced to put £330 down and signup for a new 2 year contract in order to pay the outstanding cost of the phone with O2, even though I am still on contact with three mobile with over a year to run.

My partner John has very kindly paid the deposit as a birthday gift. I thank him for that. So, yesterday I started my search with a look on the apple website considering a trade in. And to my absolute surprise, they had (de)valued my iPhone 6 Plus to £60, pretty much the cost of a decent lunch for two in a nice restaurant! So, at this moment in time, I am really not ‘feeling the love’ when it comes to corporate greed and the Apple Corporation.

So 24 hours ago I looked into the part payment and contract option with mobiles.co.uk and now, I sit here with my new iPhone 11 setting it up. It arrived at 9am this morning. Oh, I almost forgot, a new phone number to boot.

Does anyone know how I text my entire contact list telling everybody that I have a new number as a result of a forced upgrade?

The First Snow of Winter

It can’t be, but I think that it is – the first snow of the winter, here in ‘The Shires’ fell this morning. I came down at 6.30am and looked outside. ‘Oh my god’, I exclaimed to myself! It only fell for 2 hours, the ground was wet, so it didn’t settle. But what an amazing spectacle for the children to view when they all barged downstairs this morning.

The three little ones were due to go out this morning with their classmates to see the early awakening of the woodland snowdrops! Little did they know that the snowdrops would be accompanied by snowdrops! Sindy our nanny went along with them to help out. So, although they are not quite back from school, I know that Caleb has been a real ‘grumpy bum’ and cried through the entire visit saying that he was cold and his feet hurt. Never mind.

Day two of this second round of the pre – agrarian diet, living without sugar and starches and all is well, though this journey through the season of Lent, I am doing alone. John is free to gorge on the usual contemporary diet of potatoes and chocolate bars. Mind you he never puts on a single kg of weight for the fact that he is living well due to his metabolic rate. So, braised pork, butter sautéed cabbage and broccoli for me and the addition of mashed potato for him. Bon appetite.

Shrove Tuesday

One down and twenty more to go! Okay, forty minutes later and the children dug in. Yummy! Enjoyed the traditional way with lemon juice and a half a teaspoon of sugar. A small tip for this year was to include a big splosh of maple syrup in the batter before cooking! Thank you to the BBC morning news for that one. Don’t forget that the batter needs to be quite loose for a thinner, lighter crepe. Oh and please remember that obligatory pinch of salt.

The Boys New Haircuts

Yesterday saw a post school visit to the barbers for Thor and Caleb. How grown up they look with their smart new haircuts! A little resistance on the smile front from Caleb this morning. But Thor made up for that with his ‘Blue Steel’ look directly into the lens!

I am pretty much down with a cold, but that did not stop me cooking up a storm yesterday with a chicken thigh terrine, home made BBQ chicken and a large vat of Mexican peppers with kidney beans. I feel a tortilla evening coming on pretty soon. As ever I bagged up into smaller portions and put them in the chest freezer.

With it being shrove Tuesday today there are sure to be pancakes later on. But I am reminded of the season of ‘Lent’ the traditional giving up of something. As you may recollect, my carbohydrate binge for the holidays is now set to end. My (next) 40 days of carbohydrate penance starts tomorrow, ‘Ash Wednesday’. I am not a practicing Christian but some traditions are worth keeping alive, aren’t they?

I am now reminded of a traditional mass held at Winchester Cathedral every Ash Wednesday when their choir sings Allegri’s Miserere. One of my favourite pieces of classical church music. John and I last enjoyed the mass with a friend Andy back in 2013, just prior to Tara and Amritsar’s births in Mumbai, India. Obviously we have been a little on the busy side to go back to Winchester on Ash Wednesday since then.

I also remember a story regarding this certain piece of music. Now, you all know that the composer Mozart was an absolute musical genius, but the story goes that the Catholic Church in Rome has the complete monopoly on this certain piece of music as their choir would sing it in the Sistine Chapel within the walls of the Vatican. The music was never written down – hence the monopoly. In waltzes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he listens intently, he goes home and puts the entire score down to paper. He stole the piece of music solely enjoyed by the churches elite and essentially gave it to the people! How very ‘Robin Hood’ of him…

Home and Dry

We are finally home And dry after our mid term break to North Cornwall and East Devon. I thank our ‘Devonian’ hosts for today’s star picture taken in their dog Tarka’s cage bed! Don’t worry, our crew were not in their for very long! Back to school tomorrow, another day begins. The holidays are over. Just the memories remain!