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So tomorrow baby Matthew will be 6 weeks old. I've just booked our 6-8 week check ups for next Thursday - and 6-8 weeks is the point in time when we can hopefully begin to establish some routines - which means I should be starting to put him down in his crib or carrycot whenever he goes to sleep during the day - easier said than done when this always seems to wake him up! If we can manage it then it would certainly make life much much easier. At the moment he generally only sleeps on one of us, or in the pram if it's moving, which means i don't get much rest during t day. With that and the fact I'm still finding breast feeding to be a bit of a struggle at times I'm feeling rather worn out at the moment, but I'm sure it will all get easier with time. As it does I shall have to start getting out of the habit of relying on rather too much chocolate and cake to get me through the day :)

Looking forward to mum and dad coming down to visit at the weekend, and to some other visitors too: one of my oldest friends, Cathie, is coming by on Thursday with her two boys which will be fab, and I'm also trying to sort out times to meet Lindsey from my SW class, Stephen, Barbara and Paul from work (after a lovely visit to the office last Friday) and the others from my NCT antenatal group (we're trying to make a habit of it).

He's certainly a big strong boy anyway, starting to grow out of some of his sleep suits already, enjoying standing with his weight on his own two legs when held up, and beginning to hold his own head up too. Best of all he's beginning to smile - and when he does everything suddenly gets better :)

lnr: (feminist)

So, I'm now running 5 days late and counting. I saw the midwife on Monday and she reckons baby may well turn up of its own accord at the weekend - but all is well in the meantime and there's no need to try do anything to hurry it up just yet. Seeing them again next Monday. Quite happy to continue to potter about and enjoy all this unexpected leisure time - definitely not bored yet.

So what I have I been up to? We bought a new bird table from the RSPB and built it. I've finished the last Wheel of Time book (review on librarything), read a book on coping with starting a family from Relate (review on librarything) and started the next in Tad Williams' Shadowmarch series. I finished my jigsaw. Clare came round for lunch at my house, I took cake round to visit Lucy and Edward, and I've had lunch in town with Cat from our NCT antenatal group (3 of whom now have baby boys - the rest of us are still waiting). The internet did a good impression of being fixed for 10 days, and then broke again, so I've got another engineer booked for Monday (if I'm around!). And today I've done some more baking - chocolate fudge cake (using this cake recipe and this icing recipe) and cornflake cakes (using up the icing, which turned out to be about twice as much as needed). It's all good.

bird table
fudge cake cornflake cakes

lnr: (Icknield Way)

A not very quick and somewhat random review of the year (so far :), in varying detail, with lots of links to photo albums on Facebook.

Read more... )

We're planning to finish the year off with a quiet day today, and by cooking ourselves a lovely dinner to celebrate New Year's Eve tomorrow. It's been a good one. I can't promise to write as much next year, but it's definitely going to be fun!

[Other years in review: 2011, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003.]

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My Saturday morning consisted of waving Mike off to get the train to Bristol for a birthday party, a bit of housework, and then a bit of knitting while supervising (aka watching) the chimney sweep (From http://www.chimneysweepcambridge.co.uk/) - who let me see the brush poking out of the top of the chimney for good luck. Then I dashed out of the house to the bus stop, for the frustratingly slow bus into town, and then a rather faster one out to the Golden Hind to help Becky and Stu move house (from two flats into one house). Everyone else had already got much of the heavy lifting down, but I helped unload the first van and load the second and even managed to sneak in a bit of helpful hoovering of cobwebs - very satisfying. I wish them luck in getting everything unpacked, and every happiness sharing the house together.

Next was another dash back into town on the bus again for a quick change in Lion Yard loos, before meeting Sarah S, Sarah W, Lorna, Laura S, Tish and Karen for the first part of Laura's hen party - a cream tea at Auntie's Tea Rooms. Sarah W's brilliant idea to ask for *bacon* sandwiches with her scones, rather than egg and cress, was shamelessly copied by nearly all of us. After a lovely long tea setting the world to rights and getting to know people we pottered off (through a *very* busy town centre) to find Hidden Rooms - a relatively unknown bar lurking beneath Pizza Express on Jesus Lane - for the rest of the festivities.

There we were joined by Laura W-D, Rach, and Fiona, and with the first round of cocktails ordered we spent an hour learning to dance a routine to "We'll always be together" from Grease. This was great fun, but definitely quite hard work! Sarah S, who sat the dancing out, kindly took lots of photos (even of those trying to hide at the back) and videoed our final dance for us. I've not looked at them yet, but I've promised not to publish lots of photos that people hate, so you won't see any until they've been vetted!

Once we'd finished the dancing we were joined (last but not least) by Tanya, with a mysterious sparkly bag, and it was time for stage 3 - a cocktail making class! Our instructor Marcus, and his glamorous assistants Cathy and Alistair, spent the next hour or two entertaining us and feeding us lots of tasty drinks. Starting by teaching Laura the art of sabrage. First we all made mojitos, then they demonstrated what happens if you just throw things together at random by getting us in pairs to each pick a favourite cocktail ingredient and then mixing them all together and asking us to try the result - with midori, gin and creme de menthe amongst others it came out apparently tasting like Listerine. Laura made cosmopolitans, and we all got a chance to learn the knack of releasing the glass from the cocktail shaker after you've shaken a cocktail, and then we tried our hands at igniting orange oil for the top of the drink. Next we watched how to make a chocolate milkshake, and saw how fun it is to set fire to chocolate powder. And finally we split into two teams for a design-a-cocktail contest - coming up with The Princess Bride (loosely based on a cosmo but featuring creme de mure, gin and apple juice) and Pete's Tropicana (which was loosely based on the mojito, but rather lemony and refreshing - apart from the limoncello I'm not sure went it in - but it was very elaborately decorated). Considering I'm on medication this week and can't drink at the moment they went out of the way to make sure there was always something I could drink instead - with some rather syruppy concoctions instead of the jagermeister shots which were the prize in the contest. I did have a drop of cava for the toast mind, and a tiny taste of some of the cocktails. I can definitely recommend the virgin mojito in particular though - probably my favourite of the ones I tried.

When the cocktail class finished we had a booth booked in the bar for us all to hang out in for the rest of the evening. It was still relatively early and quiet, the first other customers were just starting to arrive, and now was the perfect time to bring out the mysterious sparkly bag that Tanya had arrived with. The contents had been sent by Bridget, who sadly was ill and couldn't join us, but had done an absolutely *awesome* job of creating the KryptHen Factor challenge for Laura. I want to personally thank her for the notes she'd made for the Quiz Master, and I only hope I did it justice. There was a mental agility round, where having memorised a sentence on a card (which we later all signed as a memento) Laura had to put together different letters from different words to spell out some comedy answers. Then there was the physical challenge round - where with some help from others she skipped over an ankle hula-hoop thing (do those have a name), twirled batons, threw bangles as quoits onto her fantastic fluffy tiara, and attempted to juggle. She absolutely aced the observation round - and spotted all 5 changes we'd made in the selection of artfully arrange oddities (we later ate the chocolate orange to much satisfaction all round). The intelligence round was a puzzle, arranging pieces of card marked in dark and light patterns to make a picture of a space invader - and although the result wasn't perfect it was recognisably the right sort of thing so she got quite a few points for that. And finally the general knowledge round, where really I think some of the hints from the audience (naming no Sarah Ws or Tanyas in particular) were perhaps a *little* on the generous side. However when the scores were totted up at the end Laura was declared the winner, with a fab score of 45! Sadly she didn't get a chance to learn any of the tricks from the magic set - so we'll have to look forward to her dazzling us with them at the wedding instead perhaps?

The rest of the evening was whiled away with more cocktails, chat, pizza (twice!) and even a little dancing. Our booth was lovely for being almost like having the whole place to ourselves, and the music was at a good level so you didn't have to shout to hear each other. It was a great space to be in. I couldn't believe how much time flies when you're having fun, and eventually they were chucking us out, with a rather impressive bill on the tab - which considering there were 11 of us drinking cocktails was actually pretty reasonable. I made my way home in a taxi - to remember when I got home that actually if you need to take medication on a full stomach maybe it helps to take it out with you. An excellent excuse to have cheese and biscuits for supper though :)

Today I woke early, rolled over and went back to sleep for another 3 hours. I plan to stay in my pyjamas all day if possible, and will probably go watch a chick flick before Mike gets home from Bristol, and generally veg out. It really was a fab evening though, and I can't wait to see everyone again in September.

lnr: (Default)

Since we were away with the family at the end of May I have:

  • Been away to Manchester for UCU Congress - which was fantastically interesting.
  • Been to Alison's hen party: chocolate making, night punting with a bat expert and cocktails.
  • Been to Mobbsy and Alison's wedding: a very happy couple and very happy guests and lots of dancing. (photos)
  • It was lovely to have Chris to stay for a few days for the wedding too, even if we'd rather he hadn't been delayed by having his car written off!
  • Had a weekend off! Played lots of Diablo 3, watched football and tennis and didn't do much else.
  • Visited Mike's parents to celebrate their Ruby Wedding anniversary. (photos)

I've also been logging exercise on Fitocracy and I even joined MapMyRun and went for a run. I'm still not convinced about running.

Looking forward to Laura's Cambridge hen party in a couple of weeks time - and sad to have missed the Edinburgh leg. Then after that I think I'm pretty free until late August when we're off to the Lakes for a summer holiday. Fingers crossed there's a bit less rain by then, but we're determined to enjoy it even if it tips it down :)

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Here's a quick (and incomplete) review of what Mike and I have been up to in 2011:

  • Saw an exhibition of handmade books, including ones made by Clare, at Shelford library
  • Got a new washing machine
  • Saw Justin Currie with Glenys at The Junction
  • Whitby Goth Weekend, with David, Clare, Heather and Ian, including steam trains, and craft shopping
  • Snowdonia for Mike's 30th: climbed Snowdon, explored around Betws y Coed, rode on the Ffestinog Railway
  • Sonisphere festival - camping and metal and rain and friends
  • Pat and Geoff's Ruby Wedding Anniversary
  • My new niece Isobel was born, and we met her at a party for Dave and Liz before they headed off back to New Zealand
  • Reached my target weight - and have mostly stayed there
  • Had a new kitchen fitted
  • Cath's hen do at York races
  • Walked the West Highland Way
  • Alistair and Cath's Wedding
  • Halloween at John and Heather's new house in Bristol
  • My birthday: a family trip to Culloden Tower in Richmond, and a weekend in London seeing We Will Rock You!

And last but not least we spent Christmas in Lydney, where we enjoyed long walks with Evan and Gina, Just Dance and Zumba on the wii, plus we visited Chepstow Castle and had drinks/dinner with Phil, Rae and Adam. Then we headed up for New Year in Mirfield. Chinese for dinner with mum, dad and grandad on the 30th, a fantastic party on NYE for dad's 60th birthday with performances from Em Sargant and Serious Sam Barrett, plus a buffet and cake and fizz and dancing and an excellent quiz. Then open house at mum and dad's on New Year's Day itself (his actual birthday). Loads of lovely family and friends.

This year we don't have many plans yet, other than a family visit to Ireland in May, but I'm sure there'll be lots of other lovely things going on too, and plenty to look back on this time next year! There are definitely friends we haven't seen in far too long, but hopefully we'll catch up soon.

lnr: (Wedding)

We got married, and we're blissfully happy about it :)


OK, so that's the very short version. The slightly longer version is that we had an absolutely fabulous day. My dress and hair and flowers were stunning, and couldn't help but make me feel people weren't just being nice when they said I looked gorgeous, and Mike looked lovely too. The only cloud on the day was that Mike's mum Gina was very unwell in the morning and missed the ceremony, and that will always seem a little sad, but thankfully she was well enough to join us later, because I'd hate for her to have missed it all.

The ceremony was moving, Janet read a passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Rae most of a poem by W H Auden, and both were absolutely lovely. The registrar was great, and even had a tissue on hand for Mike, and hopefully everyone enjoyed the music as much as we enjoyed choosing it - the theme from the Princess Bride for the entrance and The Darkness with I Believe In A Thing Called Love for the exit.

The weather held long enough for a lovely reception with all our friends and family in Old Court, and hopefully not too much of that was taken up by the formal photographs. It then proceeded to tip it down during the wedding breakfast, but in the splendour of the Old Hall we didn't care except for the quick dash across the courtyard to the loos. The food was lovely, the company even better, and the speeches were good and not too long.

And after dinner there was drinking and dancing in the Old Kitchens (we were in the Old part of college all day :) and a buffet back in the hall for any of those who had room. We had our first dance to Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, which was great fun, and I think it has to be about the only wedding disco over where I've seen not just moshing and slam dancing but an actual circle pit. We rocked. But also rolled and grooved as well, with hopefully a bit of something for nearly everyone.

Everybody I've spoken to since says they had a lovely time, but it can't possibly be as much fun as we did, and they can't possibly have been as happy. Hopefully the official photos will be available fairly soon, but until then I'm relying on seeing those of family and friends on Facebook. I can't sensibly link to those here but I'll ask permission to put a few on Flickr. If you've any photos you took on the day I'd love to see them! We'll tell you all about the honeymoon and post lots of photos of our own in due course. Suffice to say we've had a lovely time in Italy too!

Thanks so much to not only everyone who came and made it such a special day but to all those who sent good wishes in any way shape or form. They're all very much appreciated.


The readings )

Hen night

Aug. 23rd, 2010 10:59 am
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First of all I just want to say a huge thanks to Emily for organising it. I had a fabulous time and was pretty much completely in the dark the whole way through. Perfect :)

Read more... )

I did get a couple of pictures on the digital camera early on, though it wouldn't fit in the handbag along with the disposable one in the evening so you'll have to wait for the rest. They're over on Facebook but you should be able to see them.

lnr: (Default)

Send a box of Tunnock's dark chocolate teacakes to me at work :)

Thanks August, I think you've just got in all my colleagues' good books too!

lnr: (Default)

Rae and Adam invited us and Fluffy for dinner on Saturday to say thankyou to Mike and Fluffy for being bridesmaids. So we got the train to Cardiff arriving late Saturday afternoon with just time to take the dog for a muddy 45 minutes walk before it got dark. Dinner was lovely, with good company and much playing of estimation whist and then hearts after dinner. On Sunday we got up and out of the house about 10:30 and took the dog for another much longer walk, about 2.5 hours with me on the lead for much of the time. I'm still surprised such a small dog is so strong, and so hard to wear out! We ended up with a nice walk along the cliffs though, and Mike and Monster made it down to the beach, although it was a bit too muddy for the rest of us to attempt. We finished off the weekend with a cheap and very plentiful lunch in the pub, and a lovely pint of Brains Dark, before Adam dropped us at the station.

Having gone all that way it seemed like a good idea to take a couple of days off work and go visit Mike's parents too. So we got a train to Newport, and the bus to Chepstow and a lift home from there to their house, for a lovely curry for dinner and much amusement for me with Gina's Wii Fit Plus: I've already put a copy on my amazon wishlist but Mike now tells me I may need to remove it again :) After dinner Evan dropped us at Phil's house for a pleasant evening of gossip and Rock Band.

On Monday we got up late and headed out after breakfast at nearly 12 for a nice little bike ride. 23.1 miles and 2100ft of climbing (and descending again!) in around three and a half hours rather completely wore me out, especially after all the walking the previous days. So we slumped on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon before trying to take Evan and Gina out for dinner. But despite us saying it could be a late birthday present to them they still insisted on paying for their half!

It was lovely to see them anyway, and we had a nice time, and have spent today travelling home again without having to worry about anything more disruptive to the rail network than a cow on the line at Roydon leading to a 15 minute delay. Tired now!

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It's been a good couple of weeks: my scar's getting much better, my shoulder isn't aching any more, and I no longer have to drink horrible effervescent calcium tablets twice a day. We had a fab weekend in Bath for Rae and Adam's wedding, where Mike was bridesmaid complete with electric guitar, and we're generally taking it easy and enjoying life.

Tomorrow I'm back at the hospital again though for litrotripsy on my kidney stone. This is where they bombard it with ultrasound waves through your back in order to break it up. Being sensible I just dug out the paperwork yesterday to make sure I was ready for Monday morning. Being less sensible I hadn't really looked at in detail since the beginning of August when they sent me it, and *now* I realise they suggest I take the rest of the week off to recover and bring someone to take me home, since I'll have been sedated and not fit to drive. Ooops.

Now obviously I wasn't intending to drive anyway, since hey, I don't have a car. Hopefully they'll let me go home in a taxi on my own, but I've grovelled to Paul to ask if he can give me a lift home mid- or late-morning. Sometimes I really am a bit of a muppet! I'd best email work and tell them not to expect me in after my appointment :)

PS *phew* Paul says yes, so I've got a couple of people I can call on just in case. Thank goodness, and sorry for being so disorganised!

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It seems like ages since I wrote anything here. In the meantime I have:

  • Had a CT scan for my kidneys (actually that was before my last entry), but not got the results yet, despite it being nearly 3 weeks now
  • Had some friends over for dinner, on one of the hottest days of the year, and really enjoyed eating with the patio doors open beside us
  • Been given an appointment for July 28th to go talk to the surgeon at Addenbrookes about having my dodgy parathyroid gland out. Apparently I should get the date for the surgery itself on the day, so looking forward to that, though no doubt it'll mean more waiting.
  • Reached the point where I've lost 10% of my body weight, and so should be seeing positive health results provided I keep it off (there's the rub!). Will go see GP (once the damned CT results arrive!) and ask if I can come off the pills. At least the metformin, since it seems to upset my digestive system a bit whenever I forget one or take one with too little food. Have decided to lose a little more and stop at either 90 or 85 kg.
  • Been to a fab BBQ in Histon with Mike's colleagues followed by a bijou party for Pete's 30th, both of which were excellent.
  • My sister now has a date on which they plan to induce her baby (at just over 38 weeks, for health reasons), which is a week on Monday! So excited and looking forward to visiting her and the baby (and Dave) the following weekend assuming all goes well *fingers crossed*
  • Had a day off today to make sure I do use up all my holiday before the end of September. Will still have a week to spare to hopefully go away in August.
  • Looking forward to Rae's hen night in Cardiff in mid-August. Half wishing she'd gone for the hen weekend approach given how long it takes to get there. I will be on a train from Shelford before 7am on a Saturday. Ow.

There's probably other stuff too, but that's the main events. I've generally had a few chilled out weeks, with far too much time spent playing the Sims, and doing quite a bit of reading. I should give Tom his book back now I've finished it. I have applied for a library card and will see if I can borrow the rest from the library in the village. I have at least got round to cataloging the books I've finished over the last 2 months now, and reviewed them all over on librarything. I'm still really glad it's the weekend though.

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We had an Easter: Sion and Ingi renewed their wedding vows with a touching ceremony in the light rain in their garden, and a lovely party. And Jan and Owen stayed over so we had a lovely big fry-up for breakfast and lots of chocolate on Easter Sunday itself. And on the Monday we cycled out along the Shelford-Addies bike path and finally got to go for a walk around the little nature reserve and see the Nine Wells springs and the obelisk, as well as assorted birds and wild violets.

Mike and I took Monday and Tuesday off work this week, and had another lovely long weekend. Gardening on Sunday, a long walk out at the gogs on Monday which resulted in minor sunburn (why do I never learn that even in April it's not safe to go out for two hours in a strappy top at lunchtime on a sunny day?). And yesterday was Mike's birthday: we cycled into town to go shopping shopping and had a nice late lunch at Tatties, then came home and spent the afternoon playing Lego Indiana Jones on the wii: one of the few games where game play is much improved by having two players! Then we headed back out on the bus for dinner. The plan was to go to Alimentum, but I hadn't booked, and they seemed to have some sort of function on. We weren't sure if they also had normal tables through in the other room, but it was impossible to say how long it would be before anyone would be available to ask, since the function guests were just arriving and standing around drinking bubbly. So we took plan B and went to Nando's instead, which was fun and tasty if not in the same league. We'll just have to go to Alimentum another time. I've bought Mike membership to the National Trust for a year for his birthday, with me as joint member, so it looks like we'll have to make some holiday plans around that later in the year.

As you can tell from all the cycling and walking my ankle really is getting much better. I've had my first two physio appointments, and am improving vastly. Exercises include practicing standing on one leg and on tiptoes, and now trying to balance on a wobble board. More fun than exercise! I'm wearing my walking boots whenever I'm out and about, and have a walking stick borrowed from Anna: I always feel like I'm barely using it, but then I try walking about without it and find I'm much more hobbling. So today is my first day back in the office completely under my own steam, and it feels very liberating. And all the more new and exciting because the main route into the department has finished being resurfaced and they've finished demolishing the portacabins in the courtyard (which have been here longer than I have) and we're soon going to be moving into a new office, so it's all very shiny.

If I hadn't had my bike key disintegrate on me earlier (now fixed with sellotape) or discovered this morning that the fridge door had been left open a crack and the light had cooked everything on the top shelf it would be a really brilliant day. I still haven't heard from Addies about an appointment to sort out my overactive parathyroid, but I've chased via the GP, and have instructions to chase again in about a week's time. All in all life's pretty damned good though.

Weekend++

Sep. 18th, 2007 10:52 am
lnr: (Default)

On Friday Mike and I joined a large bunch of his colleagues in the Boathouse for Pete's leaving do. It's really quite a big pub, which is just as well as we took over a large part of it. Nice pub food though - we shared nachos with chilli etc, and chose from an impressive array of burgers. It was a nice evening, even though I was really tired, and I was surprised to realise it was already 10:30 when we were thinking of going.

Saturday was a fairly lazy day, apart from being woken by yelling so loud Mike couldn't bear to stay in bed. Geeking in the morning followed by some gardening in the afternoon. I'm getting to quite like the sort of gardening that involves sitting on the lawn in the sunshine pulling out weeds. There's a particularly invasive one which creeps and almost entirely kills off the grass, combined with a thick layer of moss, and there's a certain amount of skill in getting them out and still leaving the tiny tufts of grass behind. Still, I think we've reduced its stranglehold on the lawn by about a third now. It looks rather bare as a result but hopefully it will fill out again with time. In the evening I learned that Ian had come off his bike rather nastily, and could do with some company, and coincidentally that the 3 of us available happened to be bridge players, so after a nice dinner (courtesy Tesco Finest) with Mike I headed over to MR for the first time for a couple of hours of bridge, in which Ross and I came out ahead again, but once more had the lion's share of the luck. Ian really does look a state, but it's mostly just grazes and nasty bruising, and he didn't seem to be suffering from concussion, which was the worry. Hopefully he'll get better soon.

On Sunday we got up in reasonable time and decide to make the most of the lovely weather and indulge our cycling addiction a bit more. Read more... )

In Newmarket we sat and caught our breath for a while then went for a wander. Admiring the training grounds for the races, and the vast numbers of shiny conkers. We took a look at the maps in WHSmith but decided we knew what route we were taking home, and didn't want to carry anything extra. Then we had a lovely lunch sitting outside a cafe by All Saints Church, which was covered in bunting for a flower festival. Definitely a "this is the life" moment. Still, we figured that given it was going to be a headwind on the way back we'd better head home. Read more... )

As usual there's a route map on Bikely. Our dinner of steak and eggs felt very well deserved.

Back to work on Monday as usual, but since it was exactly 6 months since we moved into our house we decided we needed to go out and celebrate. We spent our lunch break looking at menus online, and finally decided on the Riverside Restaurant at the University Centre. I had smoked duck, rabbit, and a vanilla and raspberry pannacotta style pudding. Mike had chicken and chorizo terrine, belly pork, and a chocolate cheesecake. It was strange eating in a room with only two other parties, but it was really nice, and the food was very good. In fact it was a really lovely evening all told, and a good way to mark how happy we are. Yay.

lnr: (Default)

Friday lunchtime I spent at the beer fest, partly with colleagues and partly with David/Peter/Karen/Sarah, which was nice. Then after a surprisingly productive afternoon I went home and lugged the futon upstairs to the spare room (study, library, music room) and reassembled it. Then Mike and I spent a very quiet evening mostly geeking. Played some Starcraft for the first time in ages! Eventually Ian arrived with a van containing a very large sofa that used to be Ernie's and helped us carry it into the living room before he headed back to his packing and Mike and I headed to bed.

On Saturday morning we got up fairly early and headed over to Relativity about 10am to help them move. Quite a lot of things were in boxes already, and the cusfs library had already been shifted over to the new house, but there was a lot still to do. I helped Sarah play tetris with boxes in the van, which Mike and Tom went to find more boxes at Tom's house. And in the meantime Clare and Ian packed more and more boxes. When the first load went Mike and I switched to packing boxes in the kitchen mostly while others were packing more books in the living room. And when the second load went Mike went with it with Peter and Tom and Ross to help unload, Clare and Naath headed off to the supermarket while Sarah and I made coffee and cleared the table and found paper plates and plastic cups so we could have a feast of bread and meat and cheese and houmous. We stayed after that to help for another hour or so and then we had to get off.

Back at our house we did a bit of tidying, had a shower and a brief nap, then spent an hour or so moving bottles and snacks into sensible places and putting cheese and pineapple and sausages and cherry tomatoes on cocktail sticks, all ready for our housewarming party (to which if you weren't invited I can only apologise: it's not a very *big* house and we didn't want to invite so many people they wouldn't fit. I have too many friends!). Steph and Dave arrived around 5:30, bearing shopping, and we immediately opened the gin. The first other guests arrived at 7, from Oxford via the beer festival, and I immediately dragged Steph and Jan out to the chippy to feed us all before we got completely plastered, leaving Mike to entertain the boys. Jack had arrived when we got back, and it was a pretty quiet party from then until we had another batch arrive at 9 and another around 10.

It was a really nice party anyway, the things on sticks amazing all vanished, as did about half of the cake and almost all the fruit, but not one bag of crisps got opened, and while we had less beer and less coke at the end than when we'd started we had loads more wine left! The last couple of stragglers left just before 3am, leaving Jan, Owen and Ian Snell to crash over.

On Sunday morning Steph and Dave headed back over from the Travelodge to join us for a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches and leftover cake and jelly, and we kind of all slobbed out together until the early afternoon, which was nice. We left Jan and Owen in CB2, pointed Ian at the bus station and did a bit of shopping with Steph and Dave, though we didn't find what they were looking for. Then came back for more coffee with them, and played Jungle for 2 hours on the living room floor, before going out for a lovely dinner at CB2, very kindly bought by Steph. We all crashed pretty soon after that though.

And today after a nice lie-in they popped back for breakfast again before setting off to drive back to Leeds through the rain. Mike and I are going to have a lazy day - all is tidied back up again although we still need to hoover. It's been a lovely weekend, and to be honest who cares if it's rained non-stop?

lnr: (family)

We have internet, yay! So obviously I should catch up a bit and talk about the two subjects I promised to mention:

  • My sister's hen night(s) in Newcastle, March 9th-11th
  • Our house move, March 17th, and settling in thereafter.

I'm not even a month late (just).

So, Steph's getting married the week after Easter, and she decided to have her hen night nice and early, as is much the tradition these days. Emily and Steph were both students in Newcastle, and Em lived there quite a while afterwards, and I think this paid a part in choosing the location. And going so far we decided to make two nights of it, and all arranged to arrive on Friday.

I got there first, despite coming nearly the furthest, by the simple expedient of taking the whole day off to get the train up. Natalie had done all the organising, and had booked us into a hotel some way out of town, which meant we spent quite a bit on taxis, but it was pretty cheap, and it did have a pool. So when most of the others arrived late afternoon we unpacked and then realised there was time for a swim. It was rather nice really, although admittedly we spent more time in the steam room and spa pool than actually swimming. A good place to chat and catch up on the gossip. Then we all got ready and headed into town, where we met up with Emily and Hilary who were the last arrivals. We just had time for a quick drink in the pub opposite the station before heading round the corner to a rather good indian restaurant, which Emily had recommended. We had a lovely meal anyway, but by the end of it we were rather tired, what with long days and long journeys, and we headed back to the hotel for bed.

On Saturday Emily and I needed to go shoe shopping, for our bridesmaids outfits, so we headed into Newcastle and hit the shops, joined by Steph, Hilary and Heidi. By the time we emerged from Clarks I'd spent 85 quid on 3 pairs of shoes: one for the ceremony, a flatter pair for in the evening since I'm not used to heels, and a pair of black pumps-style things for me, to replace the ones that were worn out at home. I've not spent so much on shoes in years! We dropped them back at the car, then met up with Kathryn and Natalie, who'd stayed back near the hotel, for lunch. This was at a little Italian place called Pani's, which is just off the road heading down from the monument towards the quayside, and I definitely recommend it if you're passing. Friendly, nice atmosphere, good food. We finished the afternoon by wandering the rest of the way down the hill and crossing the winking bridge (which was wobbling a little alarmingly) to wander round the Baltic - which was fab.

Back to the hotel to shower and change and straighten our hair for the evening out which was to be the hen night proper we all gathered in Kathryn and Natalie's room to surprise Steph with some presents (a photo album with contributions and notes from all of us, and a pair of flip flops which emboss the words "just married" in the sand as you walk), and drink some pink bubbly. I even made an exception for lent for the purposes of the celebration and had one glass myself - the rest of the weekend I stuck to soft drinks. Managed to get some pictures of this part of the proceedings, if nothing else. The group photo was rather fun to do with the camera on a timer and balanced on top of the standard issue telly, but it came out pretty well. (Click through for rest).

All of us

Anyway we supped up and headed back into town, in search of our dinner, which was booked at a teriyaki restaurant. The trouble was it didn't seem to be either of the ones that we'd thought it was. We eventually found it though, with the help of groom Dave on the internet relayed by Steph's mobile. It turned out to be very nice, though we didn't get to sit around the hot plate and have our dinner cooked in front of us. Very good value too. Anyway next stop was The Light - sort of like a posh shopping centre but full of bars and clubs instead of shops, and with a casino upstairs apparently. We spent the evening mostly outside one bar watching the world go by, then inside the same bar with some cheesy music to dance to, and then across the road at Tiger Tiger: a club on 3 floors, which we ended up in a rather crowded bar of, dancing in not really enough space, but had a good time anyway. Though Heidi and Emily both spent some time strategically trying to put one of the rest of us between them and the strange foreign boys who were trying rather too persistently to chat them up. We left around 2:30, knackered but having had fun.

The only trouble with late nights and staying in hotels is the checkout time the next morning. I woke and looked at the clock and was about to roll over and go back to sleep when I realsied that actually we only had about an hour and we'd best get up if we wanted showers first. Still, eventually we all got packed and gathered in the foyer. It seemed a shame to split up just yet though, so we all squeezed into Em and Nat's cars and headed out to Tynemouth to look at the sea and find some lunch. There was a minor disaster trying to get parked, but not harm done to anything but nerves, and mostly it was just because we were too tired. We managed to find a local bakery with a seated area anyway, and tucked into stotties and toasted sandwiches with bacon and egg and so on, and had a nice cuppa, before Emily dropped me and Hil back at Newcastle station for the train home.

It was a lovely weekend anyway, even if several things didn't go quite as planned, and Steph enjoyed herself, which was the whole point. No balloons, no ribbons, no L-plates and comedy tshirts, no dares and no making idiots of ourselves, just a good weekend out with good company. Just what we all needed. And here I'm going to stop for now, since a) this is v long and b) my arms ache, as we still have no desk - of which more anon.

July 2017

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