Friday, December 3, 2021

Festive afternoon tea


Hidden away in the woods at Rivington, near Bolton, is a little tearoom that is only open on a Sunday. However, for Christmas they opened for 2 Saturdays for a festive afternoon tea. Craig decided to book for the both of us as he knows that I like an afternoon tea even though he isn’t a fan. The couple who run the tea room were fantastic and agreed to make add cheese scones to the menu ( as Craig does not like sweet scones) and not put butter on the sandwiches (again because Craig is so fussy).

 As Rivington is a place we go quite a bit to take Penny for a walk it seemed strange to be going without her. The owners of the tearoom even asked where she was. I would have loved to have worn fancy shoes but as the path tends to be a bit muddy I just stuck to boots. I like going there as it is decorated in a similar style I would use if I ran a tearoom.

 I was so looking forward to the afternoon tea that I was halfway through eating before I remembered to take photos.


The food was delicious and I took a slice of the sponge and a mince pie home as it was too much too eat in one go. Craig had most of the sandwiches and the quiche as well as the cheese scone and I had a couple of sandwiches and the rest of the sweet treats.

 If they decide to do the Festive afternoon tea next Christmas, I will definitely go again but I would take a friend rather than Craig who would be able to enjoy all the treats.


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Christmas Shopping


For many years it was traditional that one Sunday Mum, my sisters and myself would go into Manchester City Centre and do as much of our Christmas shopping as we could. It was because we used to get vouchers from a well known hamper company and it would be the weekend after we received them. However, after one of their competitors went bust just before Christmas we decided not to take the chance. We still did our shopping day but we never seemed to buy as much as we had generally started earlier. We also had less to buy in some respects as the kids got older, so the day became more of a spending time together day than shopping.

However, because of Covid, my youngest sister emigrating to Australia and Mum getting older we aren’t going to do a shopping day anymore. This has meant that I do my shopping at my leisure. Although I enjoy shopping, as I have become older I find the crowds more and more irritating and I am quite keen to avoid them. I will go shopping first thing in the morning or wait until about 30 minutes before the shops are due to close. I am lucky enough to be very close to the Trafford Centre, but I will avoid going there as much as possible because of how busy it is. It is handy though for the last minute presents that Craig springs on me.

Last year was the first time I did all of my shopping online and I admit I absolutely loved it. Most of the time I do prefer going and actually physically seeing what I am buying but with all the restrictions last year I decided against going out. I bought most of my presents from Etsy or NotontheHighStreet as I wanted to get things that you would not normally find in the chain stores and also to support the small businesses who haven’t got the resources to survive like the ‘big boys’.

 This year I have decided to do the same for most of the presents. I have a few gifts that I am actually going out to the shops to purchase but the rest of them have already been ordered and delivered and are just waiting to be wrapped.

 Shopping online also helps me stay on budget as I am not tempted to put extras in my basket which is always a big help at this time of year.

 How do you prefer to do our shopping and has it changed over the years?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

December Plans


I have been a bit reluctant to make too many plans for Christmas this year as the majority of them were cancelled last year. We normally do an experience as a family but with Emma and Craig having to work then that isn’t possible. Emma and Matthew are both going to London for a weekend though. Emma is going to an awards ceremony and Matthew is on a school trip.

 Craig and I made an early Christmas visit to Chatsworth House to see it decorated for Christmas and we have a festive afternoon tea booked in a little tea room we visit when we are out walking the dog in that area. There is also a Christmas dinner with one of the Masonic Lodges that Craig is a member of.

 Emma and I have booked to see ‘Six’ on the 21st (hopefully third time lucky) and she is also going with friends to see ‘Book of Mormon’ on the 10th.

 My father in law is having a 70th birthday buffet. Due to an ongoing issue within the family we are not sure if we will be going to that. However, it is the only time Craig’s family will be altogether this month and it would be easier to distribute cards and presents.

 Craig is also thinking about going to the Christmas Markets in Manchester but if I am honest I would rather not as they are much too crowded, too expensive and they are generally selling the same things year after year.

 I will be going to spend an evening in a nearby garden centre with a friend admiring the Christmas displays and eyeing up what to hopefully be able to buy in the sale.

 Craig has several meals booked with the company he works for and I have a few craft sessions to go to this month as well so we are probably busier than we have ever been.

 Christmas Day itself will just be the 4 of us for dinner and then going to my sisters’ house where my parents will be as well.

 I have also got to fit in all the Christmas shopping, decorating and usual Christmas preparations and work full time. To do this I have taken a couple of days off work and plan to get everything done in the one long weekend so I can enjoy the rest of the month.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Our Advent Calendars


Advent calendars have certainly changed from when I was a child. Back then I always received a calendar which displayed a picture relating to Christmas. Nowadays, it is rare to see those types in most shops.

When the kids were younger they always had a chocolate one (or three) each. As they have gotten older, I am trying to look for something different and there is so much variety in the contents you could be spoilt for choice.

 This year I have decided to get Matthew a Haribo calendar as those are his favourite sweets. In the past I have bought him the Lego calendar and he never seemed that bothered so when I asked him what calendars he liked he said Chocolate. He has simple needs.

Emma has got a Hotel Chocolat calendar this year. She has had a Friends jewellery calendar and a Harry Potter themed one in the last few years. Although she was quite happy with both of those she said she didn’t want a jewellery or ‘smellies’ calendar. As she is getting a Velvetiser for Christmas then I just thought lets get her a ‘posh’ chocolate calendar.


 Both Emma and Matthew have also got reusable calendars which they have had for many years. They used to get filled with chocolate coins but I have upgraded to Lindor chocolates for them both.


                                    (might need to replace this next year, looking a bit battered)

In recent years I have also treated myself to an advent calendar. This year I have the Bonne Maman jam calendar. Previously I have had Cath Kidston, Pukka Teas and a jewellery one (bargain off Groupon).

This year I have been sent an advent card from a lovely friend of mine. I haven’t seen these before and I am looking forward to opening the squares and seeing the pictures, just like when I was a child. This card will also be a keepsake and I could re-use every year.


Since Emma was a baby we had had this wooden advent calendar which we bought from Costco. Each box contains a decoration to put in the centre. Each year Emma and Matthew take in turns to open a box and put the decoration on the tree. I will let them argue over who gets it when they have both moved out.


Craig doesn’t do chocolate. Last year I bought him a pork scratching calendar but he kept forgetting to open it and he has told me not to bother with one for him this year. Penny has a doggy chocolate one which I am sure she will enjoy as a treat.

 Calendars aimed at adults seem to be a recent phenomenon as I never used to see anything but chocolate based ones. Do you now treat yourself to an advent calendar as an adult or do you see them as only for children?


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Confessions of a Shoe Collector


I love shoes! At last count I had 43 pairs of shoes, boots, sandals and trainers. My favourites are the shoes though, especially the ones I wear to go out in.  When I go out, I like to wear shoes that can draw comments. My favourite brands are Irregular Choice, Ruby Shoo and Joe Browns. I would love to be able to wear those types of shoes every day. Unfortunately, the job I am in would see them ruined within a couple of weeks due to the dust and sludge in the yard. 

These shoes haven’t really had much of an outing over the last couple of years due to you know what. I have therefore not really added to my collection as there has been no need. Despite absolutely loving shoes I do only buy them for a specific purpose as I am limited on storage space. I am therefore looking forward to being able to add to my collection. I have an event next year which will absolutely require a fantastic pair of shoes (and a new dress). I generally do choose the outfit first but in the back of my mind I always think of the shoes as I look on the shoe website before I go dress shopping.

 With the Christmas season fast approaching I know that some of these shoes will be guaranteed an outing and I am so looking forward to being able to show them off.

These are my oldest pair. I bought them from Asda about 20 years ago and I love the vintage look they have. 

These shoes are from Iron Fist and I bought them when Emma was going through a bit of a Goth phase and I had bought a black Victorian gothic wedding style dress. The design on the heels is what drew me to them.

These two pairs are probably the ones I have worn the most over the years. The pink ones were bought for a wedding and I just fell in love with the red shoes and I had bought a dress that I knew would look perfect with them.

As I am only 5ft 3" I like wearing heels and these give me the extra height that I wish I had. The red ones I bought from a charity shop one Christmas Eve and you can see the height of them compared to another pair of shoes that I have. They are more comfortable to wear than they probably look because of the platform at the front your foot is not bent as much as you may think. It is only about the same as if I was wearing the blue shoes that are in the photo.

These shoes I had hoped to wear more often as I bought them initially for an occasion but with the intention of wearing them for work afterwards. However this will not happen now as I have changed jobs and they would be ruined within a few weeks due to the mud and slurry that is in the yard that I have to cross to get to the office.

I bought these in the sales a few years ago. You would not believe how long it took to make a decision because there were just so many that I liked. I had only intended on getting one pair and then because I was taking so long to decide between the tow Craig got fed up and told me to get both pairs. They were from Irregular Choice and if you go on their website they have such wonderful designs you could understand why it took so long to come to a decision. I also love the fact that the company extend their designs to the bottom of the shoes as well. Both pairs have the same design.

Because Craig is in the Masons every year there is a black tie dinner and everyone gets dressed up. Although I love the quirky designed shoes they do not always feel appropriate for the dress I am wearing so I tend to go for something that is more elegant and quirky and these are ones I have worn over the years. There was also a silver pair but unfortunately I had to get rid of them as I caught the heel and ruined the covering that was on them. I guess that is an excuse to go and buy a new pair :)

I do of course have boots, sandals, a pair of trainers and regular style shoes but I always feel more confident and assured when I am wearing a pair of my special shoes.

Do you have any shoes that make you feel different?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Happy Homemaker Monday & Menu plan 12th November


Another busy week where everyone is going in different directions. There is not going to be one evening this week when we can all sit down together. It will continue to be like this now until the Masonic season has ended at the end of May. The W.I is all year round but the other things I have going on will finish before Christmas and unless Emma gets a job where she works during the day it will be rare that she will be with us. I know it is all part of the stage of life we are all at but we were all together on Sunday along with Emma’s boyfriend Sam and my brother in law and it was so nice to be able to sit, eat and chat without rushing anywhere.

 Matthew has started his mocks so I won’t see him much over the next two weeks whilst he is (hopefully) revising in his room. It is a good job I have plenty of things to do to keep me occupied in the evenings that I am on my own.

 How I am feeling.

Now the days are shorter I feel a bit like a mole who never sees sunlight. I start work in the dark and because of the bad weather it is getting dark when I leave. I am sat under artificial lighting all day staring at a computer. I am going to have to make the most of the daylight at the weekend. 

On my breakfast plate.

Now it feels more like Autumn I am having porridge with Golden syrup and chopped apple with my mandatory cup of tea. Porridge will be my staple breakfast during the colder months and I will put different toppings on so I don’t get bored.

Menu plan

Another week based on Matthew’s likes. He is a bit fussy though and limited in what he likes, so I have a feeling that next week I will do some meal prep and batch cooking so that I have meals in the freezer for whenever they are needed.

Monday – haddock fishcakes and broccoli

Tuesday – Ikea meatballs (we did not have these last week)

Wednesday – Slow Cooker Beef stew

Thursday – Pizza

Friday- Liver and Onions (Craig’s request)

Saturday- Chicken Stir Fry

Sunday- Meat and potato pie

What I have been watching

Thanks to Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom I have been watching Korean & Japanese vloggers. I am loving the serene way they do things around the house and when cooking. I have also been watching lots of vlogs and podcasts from knitters or sewers. On Netflix I have started watching ‘Maid’ and on BBC it is ‘Doctor Who’.

Linking up with Sandra and Karen as usual to see what everyone else is up to.

Have a good week.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Word of the Week- Exams


I know this is very early in the academic year to be talking about exams but Matthew is starting his GCSE mock exams next week. The school have scheduled them over 2 weeks and encouraging the year to go into school for 8.00am to start revision (with the promise of a free breakfast), There are then 2 exams per day and revision sessions inbetween and at the end of the day. The school day has been extended until 5.00pm for this time for the Year 11’s. They are then expected to come home and do at least 1 ½ hours every night. That is putting a lot of pressure on already stressed out children on top of the extended day which is longer than the standard working day.

Not only that there are a second set of mocks planned for March before the real thing starts in May.

 Now I know exams are important but there is just so much emphasis on the school results and the league tables I sometimes think that the children are forgotten in all of this. I have experienced this first hand as a teacher and have had to deal with stressed out and unhappy pupils.  When I was at school I was left to my own devices when it came to revision and how much or how little you did.

 From my experience, a child who is motivated will put in the effort regardless of how much pressure is put on them (Think Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter). A child who is switched off and doesn’t care won’t do anything anyway. It is the ones who are somewhere in the middle or whose parents are putting too much emphasis on the exams that are the ones who suffer the most.

 Matthew knows what he needs to do, and the mock exam results will either back that up or give him a wake up call. I am not putting any pressure on him to revise for too long as after a long day revising in school he needs a break.

 Not every child is academically minded or can do well in exams, and it needs to be remembered that GCSE results are the ‘be all and end all’ of anything. Exams can be re-sat or an alternative studied for and there are enough people in the public eye who have done extremely well without having any paper qualifications.

 Also this week I got my results for the exam I sat in September and it is with relief that I passed as I really did not want to re-sit that particular one. I just need to rearrange to re-sit the one I did not pass in June. I was waiting to get the results to see whether I would just need to re-sit or whether I would change my learning provider and do the new syllabus.

Linking up with Annie.

How has your week been?