Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Door Opener in Chief!!!!

In just about an hour I'm leaving for a short break in North Wales with Mum and Dad.
Thomas was completely unimpressed with the idea that one of his 'servants' should be even considering the possibility of leaving him...

After all, who's going to fill his food bowl at 4.30???
Male servant never feeds him before 6.00!!!

I hope everyone plays nicely!!!!!!!!!!
I hope I don't come back to this scene when I get back on Saturday!!!
Basically Mum and Dad have always loved going away, and travelled extensively before this stage of Mum's HD took hold.  Last summer they had two holidays that didn't really 'work' because of Mum's needs and they lost all confidence in travelling, even cancelling a trip to a cottage with all the family at the end of October.
These three nights away are a kind of 'test trip' to see if we can find the right elements of a holiday for the next few years.  I'm going along to open doors for the wheel chair, share the pushing and help to keep everything calm.......
Will report back at the weekend.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Celebrating 50 Years...and Other Nice Stuff

On Wednesday evening last week my Mum celebrated 50 Years of Mother's Union membership.  Here she is (in the plain purple top) with the some of the other ladies of Claines Mothers Union, my Dad, me (right at the back) and my sister (second from left).
It was a really poignant evening because, coincidently, the speaker for the evening was from the Huntington's Disease Association.  This meant that the group first heard about everything that Mum had done for the organisation (in Oxford, then in Manchester and lost recently in Worcester) then they heard more about the challenges of having a disease like this in the family.  They particularly became more aware of the health issues and enormous decisions that it creates for myself, my sister and her girls...
But most of the evening was about celebration.
Mum received a huge bunch of blue and white flowers (the colours of the Mothers Union)

We all chatted.....
(Mum's HD means that she rarely smiles, but she was really happy here!)

...and ate plenty of cake

AND FINALLY... my silver Disco has arrived!!!!
Although a small failure of a connection piece and a hose meant that she came home on the back of a recovery truck this lunch time.  Fortunately my wonderful husband has already found the fault and will be able to fix her tomorrow morning.
I hope that you are all enjoying the Easter weekend.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Nice Things and Good Times..

The doorbell rang on the Friday evening of our NEC weekend and our lovely neighbour from across the road handed us a parcel.  "What's this?" said Mark "I don't think I've ordered anything from Australia."  "Ooooh," said I in a very squeaky voice "THAT'S MINE!!"
...And it was full of fabrics.  A lovely gift from across the blogosphere from Susan at Granny Smith's Quilting (Click on her name to hop across to her blog.  I am in AWE of her quilts.. they are beautiful)

Behind the floral fat quarters, Susan tucked these musical designs as a special surprise.
They are fabulous together.  I want to make something for my music teaching spaces, but I can't quite decide what/how yet...
Thank you again Susan - such a lovely and unexpected gift!

On the subject of Music - I've just got to the end of my second 'financial year' of private instrumental tuition.  I'm pleased to report that my business is growing more or less as I hoped.
It's all very 'low key' and laid back.. but I'm just about making enough to cover all the household and food bills, plus a very small amount for pocket money for myself.
I think the most important thing is that I'm happy, so my pupils get the best of my enthusiasm too.  I now have four harp pupils, six piano pupils, one violin pupil and some A level coaching.
The best things of all???? No crazy management team and NO OFSTED!

And finally... we've found a car to replace the one that was written off in the accident.
(All our cars have names, generally based on their registration plates, so 'Silver Su the Disco 2' is coming to live with us on Friday.  I'm very excited!!)
In addition, we took the Silver Marcos out for a 'post-winter maintenance shake down drive' yesterday afternoon.  She behaved perfectly - which cheered Mark up no end!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mark's Project at the NEC

Good grief... is it Thursday already?
Anyway, here's a few photos from our weekend as part of the Classic and Restoration Show at the NEC Birmingham.  The Disco 5 hire car did a great job of towing the Marcos on the trailer round the west midlands motorways and in through the doors of Hall 11...
It always seems a bit strange to be driving around these large halls on set up day...

It took a few hours on Thursday to clean up the Marcos (she'd collected plenty of water when we drove through several showers on the way).  We also had to off-load the display boards and carpets from the club van, and set up the whole display.  By the time we left on Thursday we were already pretty tired...

The weekend was fun but exhausting... three more very early mornings and long days.
By the Sunday morning Mark just wanted as much sugar as he could reasonably eat on one iced bun!

Younger niece I. joined us for Saturday and Sunday.  She's been working with Mark for the last two years on the project and is very enthusiastic about the cars.  However, this was the first time that she'd got the chance to come a show.  She enjoyed the chance to sit in the other cars on the stand and generally assess the engineering and design that's needed to finish our project.

We also put her to good work at the end of the show when everything had to be pulled apart again..

When Mark went to get the Disco and trailer, I sat down to eat in the middle of all the chaos.
(At events like this it's important to take every advantage for 'fine dining'... haha!!)

In the end it was easier to push the Marcos out of the hall than try to get the car and trailer in through the doors.  As the lightest member of our team, niece I. got the chance to steer while we pushed.  You can see that she can't wait for the day when she gets the chance to drive this car for real!!!

Fortunately the daylight just about held until we got home.  I think we did a 14 hour day on Sunday.  Mark took the day off on Monday so we all had chance to relax and recover..

Since the weekend we've been trying to resolve the issue of the damaged Disco 2.
On Monday afternoon Mark and I went to look at 4 cars that are similar or lower spec/mileage than ours, at several different garages.  All of them were more money than the insurance company has offered - so Mark is spending a lot of time having very irritable conversations with them to try and bring about a resolution.  Bearing in mind that we are completely 'blame free' in this whole episode AND we have a 'like for like replacement' policy... we are starting to feel  extremely annoyed about the whole thing.
There's lots of other stuff going on... but I'm running out of time today so it will all have to wait for the next post.

Monday, 27 March 2017

'C' is for.. stuff that makes me smile

'Crafting and Creative Projects'
Here are the placemats and coasters that I made for Mum for Mother's Day.
They're made with poly-cottons and brushed cotton (rather than batting) so they should go through the washing machine without problems. This was my first 'go' at anything like this so I was really pleased with the result.  Mum really liked them too.
I've also been flexing and stretching my 'musical creativity' recently.  I write material for harp on a regular basis but it's been a very, very long time since I last wrote anything for piano.  This week I finished a piece called 'Prelude' for one of my intermediate piano pupils.  It's been nice to exercise my brain in a different way... and quite challenging to make sure that the music is of the right level to have 'durability' but still accessible to a 11 year old boy.
'Cats getting in the way of crafting'
Thomas is really back on form.  I took him to the vets last Wednesday and she said that his heart was good, the thyroid tablets are keeping his weight up, and he's enjoying a pain free life with the pain medication.  He was slightly puzzled to find Mark sewing on badges in the conservatory.. he jumped up and started to play with the thread and needle.
Eventually Mark gave in and 'fussed' him for a while.  The net result is that we now have new black tops for the show that are generously covered in white cat fur!!

Mark has worked really hard to get the current project looking good for the 'Restoration Show' at the NEC next weekend.  Obviously she still needs paint, glass and a new interior - but the new wheels and all the mechanical modifications under the bonnet give a pretty good idea of his creativity.  It's also given him the motivation to start scheduling the final stages of the build.  Hopefully I'll be posting pictures of a finished car by the end of the year!!!

And the meanwhile there's been no confirmation of the situation with regards to the damaged Series 2 Disco - so we're still waltzing around in this wee beastie..

Actually we've become rather fond of this car and a custody battle is starting to develop.  This week Mark has got her today, I'm driving her tomorrow, Mark has her on Wednesday, we're sharing Thursday and I'm driving Friday! This was a photo of her first 'grass between the wheel treads' moment at Croome Park yesterday afternoon!!  A little bit silly, but also fun...
Ofcourse there's always some serious stuff going on in the background... but these are things that have made me smile in the last few days

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The New Conservatory ... and other things that shine!

The old conservatory did excellent service for almost 20 years...
But it was poorly insulated, leaked and severely restricted the light in the dining room.
Now I have a lovely light new room, with carpets that match through the whole of the ground floor.  I'm SO pleased with it. 

There are a few patchwork cushions and a small quilt in there at the moment that I might replace.  I've got some lovely pale purple/grey/blue/green fabrics in the stash that will make a new quilt and a few cushions.  I've also decided to move a few bits from my blue and white pottery collection onto the window sills.... I just need to have a sort out in the kitchen and decide what's going where!

Yesterday Mum and Dad came round for a little 'celebrating the finished conservatory' lunch.
I got out my two tier cake stand, tea plates etc. so that we could do the whole thing 'in style'.  We sat and chatted in the sun for about 3 hours.... which was so relaxed and lovely.

And - yesterday morning - this wee beastie arrived on the drive too!
It's a brand new (26 miles on the clock) Discovery 5.
It's the car provided by the insurance company until our old Discovery is sorted out.
(Basically we've got it because the 'normal' vehicles provided to cover periods of accident repair aren't capable of moving a full size harp or towing a 3 1/2 tonne car trailer!)
It's ENORMOUS and it took me several hours to pluck up the courage to drive it!
Now I've got used to it... I actually quite like it. 
Ofcourse 'Petrol Head Mark' has fallen in serious love!!

Sadly my old Discovery was declared a 'write off' this morning - so we're now in the process of negotiating a settlement and finding a replacement.  We won't be buying a Discovery 5 though... Mark told me last night that this car is currently being sold for £65,000!!!!!!!!  (Now I'm even more nervous about driving it......!)  Mark's tasked me to go up a local 4X4 garage this afternoon and see how much a similar condition, 15 year old vehicle will cost.
How did I ever find time to teach????

Monday, 20 March 2017

Life's been a bit crazy...

 Last week I had to take a little 'bloggy break'.
There just didn't seem to be enough time to read posts or write anything of my own.
However, I used the time productively...
Here are the 'pocket warmers' that I made for elder niece L., specially for those cold Leeds mornings when she's catching the bus to her work placement.  I hope that she'll think of Thomas when she looks at the little sleeping cat!
I cleared the conservatory (with some help from Mark when it came to the larger bits of furniture!)

I made endless cups of tea for our workmen
as the old superstructure came down and the new one was erected.
The new carpet is being fitting this afternoon so I'll do a proper 'new conservatory post' later in the week...

When I did Mum and Dad's ironing, I noticed that the napkins they use as table mats in the garden were looking very threadbare.  I found some bright poly-cottons in the stash and started to make some replacements for Mother's Day..
I collected some wheels for Mark's latest car project.

And helped him put them on the car on Friday afternoon.
(We're both SO pleased with the way that they've created the 'modern retro' look that we wanted)

THEN... on Saturday afternoon... we were involved in a road accident.
Basically we were travelling past a road junction at 30 mph.
A driver just didn't see us and pulled out into the side of the vehicle.
Fortunately everyone was ok..... but her car has been written off and the damage to ours could be worse than it looks.  The front of her chassis hit our rear passenger wheel and we suspect that the rear axle is no longer correctly aligned.  She's accepted full responsibility for the accident, but we're now into the inconvenience and paper-chase of sorting things out....

This week I'm hoping for a few days of 'calmer waters'!!!!