Friday 30 May 2014

The Godzilla Household

Half-term has been a noisy affair in our household.  Dave and Lucas went to see the new Godzilla film and since then, all I can hear is Godzilla-esque "Skreeonk!" noises and epic kaiju (monster) battles.

Lucas's fascination with Godzilla started a few years ago after watching an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars with the capture of the Zillo Beast.  Dave mentioned off-handedly that it was based on Godzilla, Lucas wanted to know what that was, and ever since I've found myself immersed in Godzilla and kaiju.

Now, he's not just got a passing interest in it....he's a proper fan.  He can tell you when a movie was filmed and why they used certain monsters and not others, and all sorts of arcane bits of information.  Friends in America feed his habit by sending across occasional issues of the G-Fan magazine which he treasures.  (I love how obsessed kids can get with things.  My brother was the same when he was a kid--obsessed with tartans (of all things) and could tell you all about any sort of tartan you could think of, along with the history of the clan it belonged to.)

On our last holiday in America, we had to drive to four different Toys R Us stores to find him a Godzilla and then a Mecha-Godzilla toy!  Godzilla needed someone to battle, after all!  He spent all of his holiday money on Godzilla toys and has loved them ever since.

All this Godzilla love has culminated in Lucas and Dave's first Godzilla film! Complete with CGI (cardboard-generated imagery).  Feast your eyes on 8 seconds of awesome!

(Dave used iMotion HD to film on his iPhone. Lucas made the flames and atomic breath with some cardboard and colouring pens. Toy extras courtesy of Lucas's extensive [sigh] collection.)

The boys are already planning their next film and Lucas is busy writing and drawing his own Godzilla comic.  I'm wondering if I'm looking at a future Hollywood wunderkind...hopefully he'll remember his dear old Mum when he's walking the red carpet at his first film premier!!

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Sunday 18 May 2014


We went for a walk in the woods first thing this morning.  It's rapidly becoming one of my favourite things to do, even though I am basically a walking buffet for every small biting fly in the area.

It's worth a few bites though for pictures like this and a gorgeous hour spent with my little family.  Lucas scampered up and down slopes and picked me a huge bag of wild garlic as we walked.  He's a good lad, that one.  We found loads of gorgeous, creative benches; I managed to catch this just as Lucas was having a sit-down on one and Dave said something hilarious to him.  If only I could remember what...

Joining in with Jodie's 52 Project.

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Saturday 17 May 2014

Taking Stock

Sunshine and green fields at Tyntesfield
I'm enjoying some peace and quiet just now, so it seems like a good time to take stock again...

Making another square for my latest project, the Ron Weasley blanket from the Harry Potter films.  I've knitted 42/80 and I'm thinking that this is going to be a massive blanket!
Cooking a raspberry lemonade cake later on.  Nothing right now, though, it's much too hot.
Drinking some Cherry Coca-Cola.
Reading "Against All Grain" and trying to psych myself up for going paleo again...
Wanting a Welsh dresser for the dining room.
Looking at recipes.
Playing Doctor Who Legacy on the iPad.  The Silence are totally kicking my ass at the moment!!
Deciding to start exercising on Monday.  I am also deciding to spend Tuesday lying down!!
Wishing I could eat whatever I wanted and somehow be slim!
Enjoying some peace and quiet.
Waiting for Dave, his Dad and Lucas to finish building Lucas's new bed. Can't wait to see it!
Liking life.  It has its ups and downs, but overall it's pretty damn awesome!!
Wondering how to quilt a blanket.
Loving my little family, as always.
Pondering how to paint my plates at the ceramics workshop I'm going to soon.
Considering which brand of shower to buy.  There are way too many choices.
Watching the first episode of the Fargo TV series.  I loved the film so much, but it's taken me forever to get around to watching the series. Thank goodness for 4oD!
Hoping that it doesn't get too hot this week.
Marvelling at how blue the sky is.
Needing to frame some pictures.
Smelling the strawberries that Lucas had at lunchtime.
Wearing my oldest, comfiest clothes to slouch on the sofa.
Following some new bloggers, folks I met at Blogtacular.
Noticing how untidy the house is. Whoops!
Knowing that life is good.
Thinking about friends who are going through hard times.
Feeling content.
Admiring some of the amazing bloggers who spoke at Blogtacular.
Sorting through my books.  Still trying to thin the herd and make more room!

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Friday 16 May 2014


Last weekend I went to my first blog conference.  I didn't go in small...I started off with Blogtacular--talk about starting with a bang!!  Blogtacular was more than just an amazing blog conference.  It was also incredibly motivational and inspirational on a very personal level.

I came to Blogtacular a bag of nerves, full of anxieties about meeting so many new people--would they like me, was I dressed okay, did I fit in, would they realise I was there and throw me out?--and left feeling totally empowered, determined, fierce and valued.  That is probably the hippiest sentence I have ever written, but it's all true!

Seeking safety in numbers, I met up with Lucy from London Loafing for a drink before heading to Blogtacular.  I've been chatting with Lucy for what seems like forever--in the good way, I should add--and it was lovely to meet her and her family!

The opening keynote from Joy Cho of Oh Joy! fame was spot-on.  She was so inspirational and it was fascinating to hear about how her entrepreneurial spirit developed over the years from selling calligraphy services and banana bread as a teenager, to starting her own design businesses.  Her talk left me eager for more!

Saturday was a whirlwind of amazing presentations.  From the colourful passion of Will Taylor from Bright Bazaar, to Anne Ditmeyer's insistence that we get paid for our work, to Yvonne from Yvestown clear love of her blog and the community of friends that she draws upon to help her make it even more awesome.  It was clear that it was and passion and hard work that had brought major success to our speakers.

One of the presentations I was particularly keen to attend was Tilly Walnes and Vicky Orchard's "From Blog to Book".  I've wanted to write a book for years so took copious notes and I'm now toying with the idea of kicking things off with a little eBook... It's a bit scary, but one of the Big Lessons I took away from Blogtacular was to do things that scare you, because they'll reap the most rewards.

Tilly had so much great advice and it was wonderful to get advice directly from an editor.  My head is buzzing with possibilities!!  I had a very quick chat with Tilly later on and she's just as lovely as she seems.  Lucas loved her on the Sewing Bee and was tremendously jealous when he heard.

I loved Ellie Tennant's hands-on styling workshop.  It was fascinating to hear about location houses that the professionals use for shoots--I'm going to be paying close attention to interiors magazines from now on to pick them out--that get repainted to their original colours at the end of every day.  At the end of the year they have to chip off over a centimetre of paint and re-plaster the walls!  Aside from fun anecdotes like that, I also learned about colour triangles, layering the photograph, telling a story with it, and wabi sabi, the beauty in imperfection.  Ellie bravely let us loose with the beautiful collection of props and flowers.  This is what Rhiannon and I came up with.

Really need to track down a set of those enamel measuring cups!

During the breaks I wandered around the Marketplace, chatting with bloggers as I went.  I managed to resist buying some books--I've spent hours trying to cull my collection--but the strawberry jam at  The Hambledon practically had my name written on it.  I was thrilled to discover one of their gorgeous pink honeycomb balls in my goodie bag when I got home.  I may well be making a pilgrimage to their shop of delights in the near future...

The closing keynote speaker was Natalie Lue of Baggage Reclaim and Bambino Goodies.  She had so many words of wisdom, not just for blogging but for life in general.  I quite liked this: "Blogging challenges you to become the person you are meant to be."  She talked a lot about how we spend too much time obsessing over failures and not about all the amazing things we've achieved in our lives.  I am particularly guilty of this.  Everything Natalie said was either a massive kick up the ass for me or tremendously inspiring.  If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, take it.  She's a dynamic and exciting speaker with a massive amount of presence.

I met so many lovely people, too many to mention them all, but a special mention for these ladies.  A big hello to Lucy from London Loafing who is absolutely awesome, Rhiannon my workshop partner, Lauren from Natural Wedding blog, and my fellow Bristol blogger Gemma from Hello It's Gemma.

And finally, it was a real honour to visit the Royal Institute.  I've watched the Christmas Lectures for years and as a certified science geek--I've got the degree parchment to prove it--it was incredible to visit such an old and important scientific institution.  Absolutely hallowed ground for me.  I had a wonderful time wandering around during one of the coffee breaks and geeking out and soaking up all the history.

I'll be there next year--will you?

Some of the images in this post are the official Blogtacular photos, taken by Will Ireland and kindly provided by Mollie Makes.

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Wednesday 14 May 2014

Bristol Food Connections

On May Day we went to the Bristol Food Connections festival.  The festival was spread out in various venues across the city.  I couldn't make head nor tail of the website, so we wound up just going to the BBC part of the festival.

The main reason we went, it has to be said, was to indulge our foodie crush on Tom Kerridge.  He seems like such a lovely, genuine bloke, and his food always looks lush.  We weren't disappointed!

Tom cooked spring dishes, that seemed pretty easy to rustle up. I loved the look (and smell!) of his lamb cutlets with wild garlic pesto.  I really must find somewhere to pick wild garlic that isn't a cemetery!  He also had a good old chat while he was cooking, ranging from how he got started in cooking through to his philosophy on food.  I really liked this Tom-ism: "Every main that goes to a customer, the chef should feel a little bit sad he's not going to get to eat it."

We also saw Donal Skehan, one of the presenters of Junior Masterchef.  He cooked fish tacos which Lucas seemed really excited about, and an absolutely amazing smelling chilli and lemongrass chicken.  I can tell you that it tastes even more amazing than it smells as I made it a couple of days later.  (By the way, instead of mincing the chilli and lemongrass by hand, I just roughly chopped then threw them into the food processor with the rest of the marinade ingredients.,  Works a treat.)

There was some fantastic food graffiti dotted around.  Lucas and I had a go at trying to create our own Banksy. "Cakezilla" was awesome!!

We spent some time in the fantastic Food Science tent with interactive exhibits from the soon to be opened section at @Bristol.  We watched the Screaming Jelly Baby experiment--maybe my ears are too old to hear its screams now--helped pop some popcorn, and Lucas dressed up as a bee.  As you do.  Oh yes, he learned to milk a cow, too.

"Don't have a cow, Mum!"
He also did some gardening.  Lucas thinks allotments are pretty rockin'...

As is obligatory at any sort of food festival there was a tent full of booze.  We sadly side-stepped that one and headed straight for the one that promised cakes.  There were some awesome cakes on display--an absolute skyscraper of a Victoria sponge--but we picked up some local ice-cream and also happily chose some macarons.  Lucas was very pleased with his lurid blue bubblegum one!  My Nutella one was delicious, as anything involving Nutella tends to be!

We had a lovely day out.  We even managed to squeeze in a singing and dancing session with Katy from CBeebies "I Can Cook".  Lucas doesn't watch CBeebies any more, and insisted that he was far too old for it, but wound up singing, dancing and having a fantastic time!!

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Monday 12 May 2014

Life after a blood clot: Post-Thrombotic Syndrome

Put your feet in the air
"Put your feet up"
Today's post is something a bit different for Little Apple Tree.  I don't normally post or talk much about my health as that could, frankly, get more than a little boring.  I could go on and on and on and on... You get the picture I'm sure!

However, between today's Blog Every Day in May topic which was "Walk to Work", to which I snorted with laughter, and a chat I had with the very lovely Lucy from London Loafing (you should go and read her blog right after you finish reading mine!) about my dodgy leg where she said, "I had no idea about any of this" and "you should post about that," I thought that I would.


In May 2012 I discovered that I had another blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg.  I've had a few false alarms over the years since I had my first clot back in 1998, so I didn't think anything of it.  It was a pulled muscle, it would be fine.  Except it got worse rather than better, so I dragged my leg along to the GP.

Ten minutes later I had a positive finger prick test and an appointment for an ultrasound to pinpoint exactly where the clot was in my leg.  I was also absolutely in bits.  I sat in the carpark and sobbed for twenty minutes.  You see, this wasn't my first clot.  I had one in 1998 just after I graduated and I wound up in hospital for two weeks.  How on earth would I cope with that now?  I had a kid!  What about the school run?  What about anything??

I pretty much cried my way through the next 24 hours and then cried even harder once the clot was confirmed.  The only thing that stemmed my tears slightly was hearing that blood clots are now managed within the community rather than as an in-patient.  Sure, there'd be daily trips to the clinic for a few weeks, but that was a million times better than having to stay in hospital and cause massive disruption.

I assumed, like I guess everyone who has heard about DVTs, that I'd take the medicine and then I'd be fine, just like last time.  Not so much.

Fast-forward a few years: today, after an awesome weekend in London at Blogtacular, I am hobbling around and dragging my left leg which is a bit uncooperative.  It's swollen and tender to the touch, to the point that I have swapped my keys and phone around so that no pointy things can jab me.  It's pretty pathetic, actually. The mere whisper of the fabric of my jeans over my thigh stings and walking Lucas a couple of hundred metres to school hurt.  Now you see why I laughed at the "Walk to work" topic!

My blood is super-thin at the moment, a little thinner than it should be actually, so there's no fear of another clot.  So, what's going on?

Well.  If you've had a DVT in your upper leg you are at increased risk of something called Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS).  If you've had more than one DVT, your risk increases dramatically.  Lucky old me.  I'm going to try to explain with an analogy.

Think of your blood vessels as a road system.  Your deep veins are the motorways. They're wide and can carry a whole load of blood back to your lungs for more lovely oxygen.  Every so often there's a slip road which where small veins join up and dump blood from extremities like fingers and toes into the main motorway.

If there's a crash on the motorway, what do all the cars have to do?  Find alternative routes.  And then, those routes get overloaded and your day goes to hell.  It's just like that with a DVT.  The blood can't get back to the deep vein, so your body cleverly sends it down alternative smaller veins which can then become damaged in turn because they're not used to dealing with such big volumes of blood.

To add to the blood transport woes, the tissue surrounding these small and now overworked veins can also become damaged and highly sensitised.  This has knock-on effects on little things like the skin, for example.  The skin on my left leg looks peculiar compared to the right.  There's obviously something not quite right about it.  I don't mind that very much as I've never been one for skirts, but if I get bitten by an insect or cut myself, then it can take months to heal.

Sadly, a DVT can't be cleared as easily as an accident on the motorway.  Warfarin treatment doesn't drag the clot out of the way like HATO drags cars to the side of the road so that the motorway can flow smoothly again.  It takes months of treatment to dissolve the clot--and I've never had a straight answer from specialists as to whether the clot actually dissolves or is absorbed or whether the blood is simply made thin enough to slip past it--and get things back to normal. Or a new normal in my case.

The frustrating thing about Post-Thrombotic Syndrome is that it can strike at any time.  Sometimes I go into a weekend away just knowing that my leg will be shafted for the week afterwards due to loads of walking, queuing, sitting still in the car for hours and so forth, but other times I can sleep ever so slightly 'wrong' and wake up to a swollen and unhappy leg.  It does limit what I can do sometimes and I often feel very guilty when we're out having an adventure and my leg calls a halt to things way before I'm ready to go home.

A few tips to make life a little easier

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
  • Gentle stretching every day helps a lot; I try to stretch first thing in the morning when my body is warm and relaxed
  • Exercise.  It's a dirty, dirty word in my book, but I can't deny that when I was going to the gym regularly I had zero problems with my leg.  I walked 9 miles around London one day and the only pain the next day was on my heel where I had a blister.  
  • Don't sit for long periods without a break.  Duh!
  • There's no shame in sleeping with your leg up on a cushion if you've got some swelling or aching going on.  I've been known to nap with my foot up on the wall on occasion.
  • Don't scratch your leg if it itches!! 
If you think that you're affected by Post-Thrombotic Syndrome then you should make an appointment with your GP.  Be prepared for them to have never heard of it--my rather young GP hadn't, but the senior partners at the practice had--and explain your symptoms and ask for a referral.  Some Primary Care Trusts won't bother bringing you in to see a specialist and will simply diagnose you by letter (mine did), but others will take a keener interest.  It is, as with so many other things, a postcode lottery, I'm afraid.

Lifeblood, the thrombosis charity, has a useful PDF on Post-Thrombosic Syndrome 

If you want to read another blogger's experience of DVT, Bee has written a fantastic post which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of a DVT.  I was about her age when I had my first clot.  DVT can strike at any age and you certainly don't need to be on a plane to get it!

I hope that this post helps you understand why friends or family who have suffered a DVT aren't just 'bouncing back' or perhaps makes you, yourself, realise that all these little niggles you still have after your DVT really are something and you're not going mad or suffering from hypochondria!

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Sunday 11 May 2014

19/52 (#BEDM 11)

I came back from London to this gorgeous face.

Actually, I came back to a grey blur, moving at high speed which then leapt at me and clung on for dear life.  It's a miracle that I'm not blogging from A&E!  I think my little monster missed me...

As lovely as it was to go away by myself and do something 100% for me, I did miss his weird little observations, musings on why someone would be wearing fishing waders on the bus--I'm sure he'd have had plenty to say about that--and I would have loved to have seem his face light up at the sight of some of the cakes gracing the windows of posh cake shops in Mayfair!

On the other hand...he got to stay up late, cook his own dinner with Dave, go to the comic con, his first rugby match, stay up late again, order pizza, have a massive milkshake, new toys and probably more.  I think we both did okay out of the weekend.  Dave might need a nap, though...

Joining up with Jodie's 52 Project--a portrait of my child (ie Lucas), every week for a year.

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Saturday 10 May 2014

TARDIS-spotting in London (#BEDM 10)

The TARDIS outside Earl's Court Station was looking particularly fine today (before the rain started). I was momentarily baffled as I had remembered it as being one of the slim-line designs, which it quite clearly is not so I am now driving myself mildly crazy trying to remember where the slim one actually lives!

I still get a massive geeky thrill every time I walk past a police box, despite walking past a TARDIS almost every day when I was at university in Glasgow. I wonder if that one is still there?

In actual news, Blogtacular was totally awesome. Totes amaze, as the kids say!

My notebook is filled with scrawled notes from the talks (which I should try to decipher v.soon before my writing defeats me) and I have met so many amazing bloggers.  A totally inspirational couple of days!!

I can't wait to get home and start putting everything I've learned into action! I also can't wait to open the glorious strawberry jam that I bought from The Hambledons and get some serious toast action going...

Friday 9 May 2014

Blogtacular! (#BEDM 9)

Today is the first day of Blogtacular!  I can't quite believe that it's here already...

So far everything has been wonderful if a little hectic. I met up with the fab Lucy from London Loafing for a drink ( beforehand, which was a really good idea!!

Tonight we had opening words from Kat Molesworth followed by a seriously inspiring keynote speech from Joy Cho. (Apologies for the terrible photo!)

Tomorrow promises to be even more awesome!  I'm looking forward to meeting even more fabulous bloggers!

But first...sleep. Zzzzz...


Wednesday 7 May 2014

Severn Beach: rugged charm (#BEDM 7)

The Second Severn Crossing
Severn Beach is one of the least beachy beaches I know.  Still, despite the lack of golden sands, it does have a rugged, windswept (and muddy) charm of its own.  I'd never been there before, but I immediately recognised it's muddy shores from an episode of Bonekickers--did anyone else watch that show?  I loved it!

We ventured out that way a few weeks ago, taking advantage of some rare sunshine to get some fresh air and a nice walk.

One of my favourite things to do is watch Lucas explore and play.  (He probably has no idea, based on the amount of times I've told him to play more quietly!)  It was fun to watch him explore such a different landscape, a world away from golden sands and paddling, and to see where his imagination took him.

Lucas struck out across the lichen-covered rocks, exploring an alien planet like The Doctor, but as soon as he found a stick he turned into Gandalf.  "You shall not pass!" he yelled at a seagull.  The seagull looked quite taken back.

Shades of grey
We discovered loads of puffy bladderwrack on the high tide line, thrown up by the winter storms.  Lucas was fascinated by the texture, but wasn't quite brave enough to take off his gloves in case the seaweed was 'slimy'.

Lucas thought twice about walking on the mud. Lucas is very wise.
It was a lovely walk and Lucas really let his imagination run wild.  The fresh air really blew away my mental cobwebs and got me firmly in the mood for spring.

And apropos of are my boys having a staring contest.  As you do...

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Tuesday 6 May 2014

My Life in Books tag (#BEDM 6)

A couple of weeks ago the lovely Jenny from Sunny Sweet Pea tagged me in her Life in Books tag.  I've had a life-long love affair with books, so answering these questions has been an absolute ball!

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

I remember reading the Roger Red-hat books in Primary One.  (Wikipedia tells me that the series was actually called One, Two, Three and Away but I'm not sure I ever knew that as it doesn't ring a bell.)

We were pretty competitive about which books we were reading.  I seem to remember zooming through the series and going on to far more interesting books like The Garden Gang books I was reading at home.

2. What books make up your childhood?

I read so, so much as a child.  Our next door neighbour was the school librarian and she always made sure I had a huge trunk of books to get me through the summer holidays as well as frequent trips to the library!

I devoured every boarding school story I could get my hands on and was desperate to go to one where life seemed so much nicer and bullies were dealt with swiftly and sometimes even became your friend after they'd repented and Learned To Be a Better Person.  Mallory Towers sounded wonderful, especially the midnight feasts!

The Nancy Drew mysteries were an absolute staple on my bookshelves.  I think I must have read them all several times over before starting to 'borrow' my Mum's Dick Francis and Dennis Bagley books, much to her horror!  Crime fiction is still one of my big loves.

3. What's the first series of books you devoured?

The Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.  I am five books short of the complete set and naturally, those books are astronomically expensive on Amazon!!  The exotic location in the Tyrol was a huge draw, and I loved reading about life on the continent.  Especially kaffe und kutchen, with EBDs loving description of cakes covered with 'clouds of whipped cream'.  I was convinced for years that the books were stories from a real school!

There is quite an active fandom out there for these books with organised trips to the Tyrol, touring around the book locations.  I need to win the Lottery so that I can take myself off on one!

Every so often I bury myself in nostalgia for a couple of weeks and read my way through the whole lot, accompanied by plenty of milky coffee and plenty of cake!

4. What books have you, or could you, read over and over again?

I've read the collected edition of The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper many, many times.  It's quite an old book now, but it really does stand the test of time and the writing is fabulous with incredibly strong characterisation.

It's a familiar story...the battle between good and evil, with Arthurian legend and Welsh legend thrown in.  The innocence and strength (resilience, too) of children plays a huge role.  If you haven't read it, then you're missing out!  And whatever you not watch the film version!!!

5. What books take you back to a certain point in your life and why?

Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen was the first Doctor Who book I ever read. I was probably about nine and didn't know about regeneration yet, so I assumed it was another story about the Fifth (or possibly Sixth) Doctor.

Stephen King's Four Past Midnight was the first book to properly terrify me.  The Library Policeman novella scared the living daylights out of me, so much so that I was too scared to take my one day late book back to the library and hid it under a chair in my bedroom for months.  It turned out that my Mum was far scarier than the Library Policeman when she eventually found it!

6. What book changed your life, or could at least change someone elses?

I'm not sure that it changed my life, but Sophie's World has played on my mind for a number of years.  Philosophy has never been something I've paid any attention to.  In fact, I've always been quite fond of this quote from Small Gods:

"What's a philosopher?" said Brutha.
"Someone who's bright enough to find a job with no heavy lifting," said a voice in his head.

I found this book intriguing, confusing and irritating in equal measures but there's something about it that keeps me re-reading occasionally.

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which book would it be?

Today Lucas asked me what my favourite flavour of ice-cream was.  I actually stopped on the spot for five minutes while my brain simultaneously exploded at the idea of having to choose and also running through every flavour I'd ever tried.  I mention this because the same thing is happening again right now!  Choosing just one book is hard!

(Coconut ice-cream with a hint of lime, if you were wondering. Absolutely no flakes or bits of coconut in it though--smooooooth all the way.)

I think that I would read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  There's always some new subtle nuance to discover and they're just plain fun!

* * *

If you're a bookworm, then feel free to join in with the fun!

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Monday 5 May 2014

16/52 to 18/52 (#BEDM day 5)

16/52 Lucas loves Easter egg hunts.  This was him, practically vibrating with excitement, before we let him loose in Nanny and Granddad's garden with his cousins to hunt down delicious chocolate eggs!

17/52 My gorgeous, geeky, little boy.  Sometimes I look at him and wonder how I got so lucky...

18/52 Lucas can't resist an iPad. It turns out that this is the trick to catching a candid picture of him...get him utterly engrossed in a game!  Here he's playing a Hero Factory game at LEGOland before we dragged him out into the sunshine to have good old-fashioned fun!

Joining in with Jodie's 52 Portrait project.  I can't believe we're 18 weeks into the year already.  Is this the Year of the Greyhound?!

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Sunday 4 May 2014

#BEDM 4: May the force be with you

Rebel forces with Lucas & T
Happy Star Wars Day!

This year I joined Lucas and Dave at Legoland to celebrate May the Fourth along with some friends of ours.  There's nothing better than sharing some geeky love with friends!  Even NASA is celebrating it!

The Imperial Navy and Stormtroopers mingled with the crowds at the entrance to the park.

While in Miniland, Stormtroopers were drilled on the flight pads at NASA, with various Darth Vaders lurking around the models, trying to put nefarious schemes into action.  Miniland is absolutely my favourite place in Legoland...building all those models is probably the best job ever!


After everyone dragged me away from Miniland, we explored the rest of the park.  There were loads of Star Wars activities, but there were so many visitors that we couldn't get near them.  Instead, we whipped out our lightsabres and the boys had many, many running battles as we walked between rides (and while we queued for rides).

We bumped into a few baddies along the way... These guys looked more confused than intimidating, though!

On the other hand, Asajj Ventress was truly terrifying!  She was such a great character in the Clone Wars.

A fantastic day out!  Happy Star Wars Day, everyone. May the force be with you, always.

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Saturday 3 May 2014

#BEDM Day 3: A quiet walk

Wild garlic

This morning we took a quiet and contemplative walk.  The skies were blue, the sun shone as our shadows danced among the trees, birds sang and squirrels jumped between trees.  There were loads of bluebells, swaying gently in the breeze and for the first time ever I saw wild garlic.  And not just a couple of plants...we walked through broad swathes of it, with the scent of garlic rising as I crushed a few leaves here and there.

It was a really quiet walk.

We drove out to the Paintworks to go to the American diner there for lunch, but it was unexpectedly closed, so we ended up going for a walk around Arnos Vale Cemetery as Dave and I were struck by it's beauty when we hunted a Gromit there last summer.

It might seem a bit weird to go for a walk in a cemetery (and to whip out a camera), but Arnos Vale is a bit different to the usual sort of cemetery.  Initially I thought it was purely a historical site, but burial plots are still available throughout the cemetery.  The gate house and chapels are all listed buildings as are some of the graves.  There are guided tours available to talk you through the history of the site and explain the significance of all the different types of graves and ornamentation.  There's a cafe and you can even get married there!!

Many of the graves dating back to the 1800s are rather wild and unkempt with ivy growing over the headstones and markers and wild garlic blanketing them.  I spotted a couple which had been cleared...probably by people researching their family trees.

It's a wild and beautiful place. You could wander for hours, seeing glimpses of people's lives through the sentiments and memories shared on their gravestones.

Yesterday our friend Jamie D. passed away after a five year battle with breast cancer.  Jamie was a wonderful guy; he was a geek through and through, and through the comics podcast he started with his friends years ago (Comic Geek Speak), he shared his love of Captain America, The Avengers and comics in general with the world.  He loved his family so much, especially his sister, and he was a an all-around good guy.  A true gent.

He'll be missed by everyone who knew him.  RIP Jamie.

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