Sunday, 14 January 2018

Beautiful Day in the Dales

So today dawned beautiful - about time too.  Clear blue skies, no wind, but freezing cold!  Lucky as we were having a family mountain bike lesson with Jill Eccleston of Run Bike Fun.  During December I did a couple of 1 on 1 classes with her to try to get over my fear of mountain biking, caused mainly by our attempts a couple of years ago at Gisburn which went a bit wrong.  I wanted to get to the point where we, as a family would be confident enough to try out some tracks again.  Happily it coincided with Christmas so I bought Matt and Tom a family mountain biking lesson to get us all on track.

As usual we had a lot of huffing and puffing getting the bike rack on the back of the car, Matt managed to skin most of his knuckles and got oil everywhere, then when we arrived he discovered that none of his gears were working.  Luckily he got them unstuck just in time.

The viaduct
Pen-y-Ghent from Blea Moor
We met at Giggleswick school where there is a mountain bike course and she took us on a circuit of the track - explaining mainly to Tom how to do it (shifting weight / leaning etc etc).  He did bits again and again to build confidence and then she got us to do a circuit by ourselves.  Wow!  Tom was brill, Matt of course did it no worries, but he said at the end how much he enjoyed it and how it was more challenging than he thought and I was very happy to (just about) keep up with them - although I still haven't been able to do it without putting my feet down.  We came away pretty confident that we can tackle the local mountain bike tracks now, just need to not leave it a year before we get back on our bikes.



As it was such a glorious day, we decided to head straight home, have showers (we were quite muddy) and then wrapped up warm again to head to Ribblehead to do our little walk around.  The sun was going down, so everything was doused in golden light.  It looked gorgeous, and there was little wind, so it really was very pleasant.

The Iceman
We ended up at the pub as it has been refurbed recently and we wanted to try it out - it was a bit poncey before which was odd considering where it was - it is a walker's pub and needs to provide service to walkers not fine dining.  Anyway, the place was completely different - the bar had moved and there were more tables and no fine dining.  Hurray, Matt said the service was great too which was an improvement as they had always been snobby in the past.

Then back home to beef rib stew from the Christmas joint.  A successful day.

Boys' day out

As we do a couple of times a year, Tom and I had a train day out, this time with my old friend Malcolm and his train-mad son James. They live near Middlesbrough, and James' preferred location for trainspotting is Northallerton, so that's where we agreed to meet.

HST heading (a long way) north
We could have got there in half the time by car (heated seat, choice of music etc.), but in the spirit of the day, we decided to get up at the crack of dawn and head off by train, via Leeds. The day started well, as the the train from Ribblehead had a trolley on board, and they were stocking our favourite shortbread.

After an easy journey, we met Malcolm and James on the platform, and spent 40 minutes or so watching trains. We could see why James liked Northallerton - not many trains stop there, and the non-stopping trains go through flat out (125 mph), which is quite an experience when you're standing 3 feet away. It was mostly Virgin East Coast HSTs and electrics and Cross Country Voyagers, but there were some others too - a couple of freight trains and, best of all, British Doctor Yellow.
Ballast train
Our fingers and feet were soon frozen, so we walked the half mile or so to Northallerton High Street and had lunch in a nice old cafe that's been there for 130 years - macaroni cheese and a lovely brownie for Tom, and a posh fish finger sandwich for me. Pretty good, but not up to the standard of the awesome specimen I had in Penzance last summer.



After a quick mooch round the market, we headed back to the station for some more trains, and I managed to hone my skills of taking photographs of trains at speed. The next step is to practice on racing motorbikes - a much trickier proposition as they're both faster and smaller.

The sky suddenly darkened and we could see some foul weather headed our way, so we jumped on an HST and headed to York. When in York ... head to the railway museum. So we did a quick lap of the museum, which is always a pleasure, and then caught a Transpennine service to Leeds. Sadly, Leeds seemed full of groups of drunks, but we had a quick half at The Brewery Tap, struggled up to Wasabi to buy some sushi, and then headed back to the station to get our train home. As usual, Tom's bento was completely gone by Shipley. How does he do it?
The theme of the day

We rolled the car home from freezing Ribblehead, by which point, it was time for the boy to head to bed. A fun day out - I always enjoy our train days out. We've invited Malcolm and James over for a similar day at Carnforth next time.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hot Tubs and Glasgow

As we were heading to Manchester, I got a text message from Debbie Francis saying that they were spending the next couple of days in the Yorkshire Dales.  Typical!  Luckily they weren't leaving until Friday and Tom and I had Thursday free, so we arranged to meet up on the Thursday.  Debbie asked me where to meet, but as the forecast was awful and they had a hot tub, it made sense for us to go to them.

It's a hard life!
They were in Gisburn (20 miles from us) so after a morning of chores we headed over.  They had a lodge in a lodge park - quite small but nice and very quiet.  Luke and Tom clicked straight into being friends as did me and Debbie (and Adam).  We didn't do much - chatted, chatted, ate, went in the hot tub, chatted, played games, chatted.  It drizzled the whole time we were there, but it didn't really matter, it was good to catch up and not have to do anything.

Thanks for the invite.
Me and Debbie in the wind and rain!

Friday found us up early and on the train to Glasgow for a Scottish meet up of Matt's university chums.  Well Neil, Rory, Lewis and Gillian.  This got arranged mainly because train fares from Lancaster to Glasgow got slashed and we all like Scotland!  It was a horrible rainy day in Yorkshire and Lancashire, but as soon as we crossed the border to Scotland, the rain cleared up and the clouds cleared (of course).  We did a spot of sale shopping before heading to the Pig and Butterfly for lunch with Matt's friends.  A super cool place, I think we ended up spending about 2.5 hours there catching up.  The food was great (except mine - think I ordered poorly!) Tom's 'child' portion was the biggest meal of all AND he managed pudding as well (with a little help from Gillian).
Overeating in Glasgow

Anyway it was a good afternoon and of course a train ride is always a bonus!  We did a spot more shopping and then headed back.



Manchester

So, we had a good night's sleep, phew!  I woke up without a headache - double phew!!  First job of the morning was to have our annual SKYPE with Uncle Martin in Australia.  It's become a New Year tradition now.  Ben and Mia were at home, and my they have grown, Ben is 17 now and has a six pack!!!!!  Wow, how can a child from a friend of mine be that grown up?!  We had a good chat, and Tom and Matt showed off the Steam Engine that Martin bought them for Christmas.  He's thinking of maybe coming to the UK for Christmas next year - we hope he does.

We then quickly got ourselves ready and got in the car to Manchester as we were staying with the Komorovskis for a night.  Manchester greeted us with grey skies and rain (what's new?!) so we hurried in.  Leia and Rosa have both shot up (as always) - Leia is in Year 6 now, which is hard to believe (all these children are growing up way too fast!).  We arrived dead on 12 o'clock and ready for lunch (oh our stomaches have grown massively this Christmas as have our bellies).  It was a Boxing Day style lunch - yay!  My favourite meal of the year is Boxing Day lunch, but I haven't had one for ages for one reason or another, so I went a bit mad.  Loads of pate, cheese, French bread, chutney, pastries etc etc.   Decided that next year I am going to put my foot down and demand a proper Boxing Day lunch at ours.  Dread to think of the number of calories in it - but I don't care, it was wonderful.
Head massage time.

The boys then had some Ikea bits and pieces to put together, so Karen and I left them to it and headed into Manchester for a walk around / shop and chat.  Didn't buy anything but it was nice to have a girlie chat without interruption.

We returned to the house to find Matt 'tucked up in bed' on the sofa - Rosa had spent the afternoon 'looking after' him, including delivering beer and crisps to his 'bedside' - so not a bad afternoon for him.

The evening was spent chatting and drinking and eating, very pleasant and very chilling. In the morning, the girls were up early as they were going back to school.  We waited for the girls to head off and then got up, had breakfast and then headed to the cinema to watch Paddington 2.  Wow!  What a wonderful, wonderful film.  It was lovely, heart warming, gorgeous, so much so that I didn't want it to end.  Did Tom cry - yes!  Did I cry - yes! Did Matt cry - yes!  It got us all (only the second time I've ever seen Matt cry during a film!)

Once we had all recovered, we walked back to the Komorovskis house, pick up our car and headed over to Wing Yip for a dim sum lunch at The Glamorous which as always was super yummy - and stretched our stomachs even more before a big Asian shop and heading home.

New Year

Big bonfire
For New Year's we had been invited back to Meadow Falls for a party, bonfire, fireworks and to pod.  This time it was bigger and better - with 5 families: us, the Perkins, the Eglin-Staveleys and Lackenbys.  I made a massive chicken curry, the Perkins a chilli and Lynne some Camembert for dipping plus loads of crisps, snacks, choccies etc etc.

We rocked up at 6pm, we were all in a good mood and cracked open the alcohol.  Now you know how sometimes you drink and the alcohol affects you straight away and other times it doesn't, well this time it didn't.  I had a bottle of cider - nothing, so had another one, then some food and then wine.  It was a good night, conversation flowed, the kids enjoyed themselves messing about outside.

Nice tache!
It wasn't the best weather - we were all wrapped up to the nines - I had leggings, army trousers and waterproof over trousers on as did Tom, so not at all glamorous but warm and dry.  Luckily it did stop raining around 9 and the skies cleared afterwards.  We had a MASSIVE bonfire which kept us warm, then Matt got his binoculars out so we could view the moon and stars.
Karaoke!!!!




Annabel's karaoke machine then came out and the rest of the evening was spent singing away badly.  Luckily everyone was as bad as each other and everyone had had equal amounts of alcohol, so it didn't sound so bad at the time!  At midnight Dave and Craig gave us a half hour firework display - couldn't believe how many they had.  Then another hour of singing before we headed off around 1am (Tom was dead on his feet by then!)  Back to our pod for a sleep (except I spent most of the night awake and thirsty and with a headache!)  I think the last one standing was Karen who disappeared at 3am!

Sexy Beast!
New Year's Day was a washout.  I was seriously hungover with a headache.  We packed up the car, headed home and then went to Bernies for a naughty brunch.  Back home to watch Paddington, whilst cuddled up on the sofa, then a quick walk around Storrs Common, tea and bed for Tom and a bit more telly and an early bed for us!

Beautiful Grasmere

Thursday was an exciting day, as I got my Christmas present from Matt.  A magical mystery tour overnight.  Tom got picked up by his grandparents at 10 and then we packed the car and headed off.  We headed West along the A65, so it was the Lakes, we headed through Windermere, then through Ambleside and then to Grasmere where we headed into the village.

Beautiful evening in Grasmere
Matt had booked us a night at the Wordsworth Hotel and Spa with dinner and a spa treatment included. He wanted to help me out with my neck and shoulders as they have been stiff for over a year now.  Problem was, I had woken up with a horrible back, not sure what I did but my back was very painful. To sit was painful, to stand was painful and to walk was painful.  I couldn't bend down, I couldn't put my socks / shoes on, I was in a bit of a state, all from having a nice deep sleep!  Some might say it was the perfect day to have a bad back, but I wanted to enjoy my day, not be in pain.

Oh hum, we arrived just in time for lunch and found ourselves a good little tea room, The Old Bakery, where we had baked beans on toast and a sausage sandwich - both very very good quality and unusually for Grasmere - reasonably priced.

Des Res
I then went for my spa treatment which was a 40 minute hot stone treatment.  She majored in on my neck and shoulders but also did some on my back to see if she could relieve my pain.  It was gorgeous: a mixture of aromatherapy (oils etc), massage and hot stones, it felt lovely and I didn't want it to end, unfortunately it did.  The therapist suggested a go in the sauna immediately afterwards, so I nipped across and found Matt in it, we stayed in for another 30 mins or so and then went to check in, in time to go for a short walk to enjoy the ebbing light.

The hills around Grasmere were burning bright orange in the sunshine, the lake was flat and the mountain tops were dusted with snow.  It was gorgeous, under a clear bright blue sky.  We walked a quarter round the lake, taking in all the huge houses and fantasising about which ones we would like and who would have which room etc - Matt always wants his office at the top of a turret.



After the snow
We walked back and then decided to try out the local pubs.  We started at the hotel and had a very pleasant mulled wine each, then to a pub in the square for another mulled wine (Matt was on beer).  We then discovered that there was a craft beer pub around the corner (Tweedies), so we had to check that one out as well.  It was very busy but we got ourselves a drink (mulled cider here for me and weapons grade beer for Matt) and then charmed our way on to a table.  We were chatting away when suddenly I saw a glimpse of someone I thought looked familiar.  I looked again, yep, it was one of the Mums from Ingleton, Clarrie.  We shouted to her, and before we knew it were on her table having a chinwag.  Her first comment "it's a good job my husband knows I'm here isn't it?".  Yep Ingleton village has eyes everywhere, you have to go a long way away if you want to have an affair!  She was there with an old (male) friend from university who was visiting from the US where he now lives.  I've never really spoken to her much, but it was easy conversation and her mate, Dom was also easy to talk to.  We ended up having another round of drinks before heading off as we had a dinner date.

We dressed up for dinner and headed into the restaurant for our 4 course dinner.  It was all very lovely.  It was actually about 6 courses, as there were extra little nibbles including a butternut squash espresso which was amazing!  We both ended up going for the same things: Blue Cheese Mousse, Poussin and Cheese and Biscuits.  All very lovely with a smooth bottle of red wine.

We didn't have the best night's sleep at the hotel - something to do with too much alcohol in our systems (and my bad back making it impossible to get comfortable) - we blame Clarrie!  However, we woke up to a Winter Wonderland, it had been snowing all morning and the place was looking idyllic.  We went down for breakfast: a cheeky eggs Benedict for me and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for Matt and then went to walk around the whole lake.  It was glorious, and a great cure for a (slight) hangover.  The landscape had completely changed overnight, lots of people were out enjoying it.

Once we got back to Grasmere, we found ourselves back at the same bakery for lunch - a Bath Bun each for us this time.  We then headed back home, it began to rain on us and the landscape turned grey and wet.  We had had the best of it in the morning.  We stopped off quickly at Hayes and Lakeland and then headed home to our nice warm house.  Thanks Matt - it was a wonderful break - just a shame my back caused us trouble!

Saturday was a miserable, grey day.  Matt headed to Settle to pick up Tom whilst I started a cook-a-thon!  First of all was beef stew with the remaining Christmas beef, then a large lasagna and then a chicken curry ready for New Year's clamping tomorrow.

The afternoon was spent snuggling up on the sofa watching the telly with Matt and Tom.

After Christmas

Boxing Day we said goodbye to Auntie Jude and Craig who headed off to Durham to see Craig's Mum.  We then headed to Settle for Boxing Day lunch: jacket potatoes and many different fillings.  It was a horrible day, so we weren't tempted to go for a walk.  However, we had the kittens to feed, so we headed off after lunch to the Perkins' house to feed them.  Once again they were a bit shy and didn't come out for a play, so Matt put their food down and left them to it.

We got home, watched some telly and then decided that we really needed to get some fresh air and headed out for a quick lap of Storrs Common before heading home and eating scraps and watching more telly.
Quick afternoon walk

On 27th, Matt decided to do some work, Tom was desperate to try out his new flippers (from Auntie Jude and Craig) so we headed to Stacksteads where we met Matt and Lynne.  Tom and Matt played together whilst I did some lengths and Lynne did some running in the gym bit.  Lynne then went home whilst we remained in the pool - the boys would have stayed in the pool for the whole day given half a chance. However, Matt needed to feed the kittens again and needed the car, so we returned in time for him to do that.  Me, Matt and Tom headed to Inglesports for lunch (Matt didn't like anything we had in the house!)  By the time we got back Matt had returned with the car (confusing this isn't it with 2 x Matts). Tom and Matt played with the keyboard for a while and then we headed over to Matt's house.  Tom and Matt disappeared whilst Lynne and I chatted about not much.  It was a nice easy day and Tom got some small person time which was good, I think Christmas can get a bit too adult for him sometimes.

Christmas Day

Nice beef!
Christmas day dawned a nice day.  Tom had been in our room once during the night (around 2am to tell us Santa had been).  He was able to wait until 8.30 to bring his stocking in.  He got a Pumbaa from Santa and various bits and pieces in his stocking which kept him busy for the morning.

Then a posh breakfast of scrambled egg and smoked salmon for us (note: Craig doesn't do fish).  Then I prepared dinner whilst the others got ready.  As usual we had a 3 rib of beef.  So it was that, roasties, parsnips, carrots, kale, yorkies and the most amazing gravy that Craig had made for us the proper way.  I could have drunk it with a straw it was so gorgeous.   I also made Christmassy red cabbage, but as it was in the garage, I completely forgot about it so it went uneaten.

The beef:
220 DEGREES FOR 25 MINS
140 DEGREES FOR 1.5 HRS
TAKE OUT OF OVEN 45 MINS BEFORE EATING

Cheers!
It was absolutely perfect so keep to this for next year.

Pat and Bob came round about 10.30, I finished up the preparations and then we headed into the lounge to open the huge number of presents waiting for us - I'm sure the pile grows every year: although this year we had 7 people opening presents, rather than the 5 of last year.  Anyway, I think it took a good 1.5 hours for us to open everything up, all helped by Bob's rather lovely red wine - think we got through all 4 bottles by the end of lunch.

Tom Lennon!
This year seems to be a musical year for Tom as we got him a guitar (he's been asking for one for ages) and Pat and Bob got him a keyboard.  Now I know they were getting him one and was expecting a small table top one, instead it was a huge one with its own stand.  Wow! Fantastic!  I do love a surprise.  Tom was overjoyed and took to it immediately - that was it for pretty much the whole day.

Happy boy!
Good thing: it came with headphones.  I need to find all my sheet music now and see if I can interest Tom in learning to read music.  I also need to find a couple of hours to sit down with it to work out all its functions: you can record on it, it tells you which note you are playing on a display and there are a couple of buttons which suggest that it can teach you to play, but I can't work it out just by pressing them.  We had dinner at 2.30 which went down well.  We then left Tom behind with Pat and Bob whilst we headed out for a quick walk around the village to try to aid digestion of the meal.
Flippers!

I think Pat and Bob left quite soon after we got back.  The rest of the day was spent lolling on the sofa - we were all feeling very very fat, none of us could eat any more, so we sat and watched the telly for the rest of the day.

Anyway, thank you everyone, it was a lovely day and we all got some great pressies.


Run up to Christmas

On Thursday Tom finally broke up from school - seemed to be a long time coming, and then of course we rushed head first into the chaos of Christmas.  Thursday evening was spent at Wensleydale with the Perkins family enjoying the 20% off everything event and cheese tapas at the creamery, then we headed straight to the Bickerstaffs for a Christmas party before rolling into bed around 10pm.

The Watsons minus a grumpy Jenny!
On Friday we headed out to Crooklands to meet up with the Watsons for morning coffee.  They were back from Shanghai for a whirlwind tour of the UK to see family.  Considering Lisa is from Surrey and Cameron from Scotland, it was a little frantic for them, so we were very pleased that they contacted us to see if we could meet up.  They were the same old same old, just had lots of tales of their adventures to date.  Don't think Lisa has had a day to herself since they arrived, what with house hunting, moving, furniture acquisition, co-ordinating shipments from the uk and 1001 activities the girls get up to with school.  Certainly hasn't had time to get bored.  Anyway it was great to see them, next time will hopefully be in Shanghai in 2019 when we go to see them.

Feeling the Force
We had lunch at Cowan Bridge on the way home and then I headed out with my last Lily Pad Bakery deliveries for those who hadn't managed to collect.  I got home at 5pm, and found an email from Etsy saying I had made a tea cosy sale.  Poo - the Post Office was closed so it was impossible to get it to my customer in time for Christmas.  Luckily I was able to get hold of her, she said it was for her mum who wasn't at home so it was ok, but a note for next year: check emails religiously on the 2 days before last posting date before Christmas!


On 23rd, we had a useful morning getting the house ready for Christmas.  After lunch Jude and Craig arrived.  They brought loads of goodies with them - including some huge cardboard boxes, which Tom immediately attacked.  They became a train and that was it, he was occupied for the rest of the day with his engine driver's hat on and travelling around the kitchen in it.  Definitely a case of the box being more interesting than its contents.

On the trail
We headed over to see The Perkins, they have some kittens and Matt had offered to feed them whilst they were away over Boxing Day etc.  We went round to meet them - Jude being a cat person wanted to come to so we all headed over.  The kittens weren't great company (a bit skittish - wouldn't come and play) but we were well entertained with some very nice red wine.

On our return, we had a quick walk around the village and then headed back to break open a bottle of mulled wine - it was official Christmas had begun.  We didn't do too much more that day - I had made a huge pot of miso pork ribs so we were collectively unable to move in the evening.  We lay on the sofas and watched Flint Street Nativity, a Christmas tradition in our house.


Christmas Eve dawned ok, so we donned our outdoor clothes and headed to the Waterfalls trail.  Jude had never done it and Craig last did it 20+ years ago.  The rain held off for the majority of the walk so we had a pleasant time.  The falls were looking pretty good.  Unfortunately the cloud line was pretty low so we didn't get any good views of the hills, means we will have to do it again with them when the sun is out.  We did it the classic way round so ended up in the village.  We headed to Bernies for lunch before heading back home and cracking open another bottle of mulled wine.
Working hard
Then it was time to build a gingerbread house. I had over produced my kits by 1, which was handy because by the time I had finished making them, I wasn't in the mood to make another one for Tom.  Tom wanted to make it with Auntie Jude and Craig so we cleared the table and let them loose on it.  They finished it in super quick time and Matt being Matt took a time lapse film of it which was fun. I'll certainly use it to advertise them next year.

Proud house building team
The evening was spent at the Old Post Office where we had platters (also rapidly becoming another Christmas tradition), then home, Tom put out a mince pie and whisky with a letter for Santa and carrot for Rudolph.  Cute story: Tom remembered that last year there was a bit of carrot stalk left so he asked if he should cut the stalk off for Rudolph this time.  Bless!!!

Oh - note for next year: Elf on a Shelf, Tom had been badgering me to do Elf on a Shelf this year.  I didn't want to do it for 24 days, so decided that the elf could come with his letter from Santa.  It took him until quite late to write his letter to Santa, so his reply only came on 21st with his Elf (which he named Binesty?!) this meant the naughty elf was only around for a couple of nights.  It was actually quite fun playing with Binesty, so next year we need to encourage him to write his letter a bit quicker!

Panto!

This weekend we had a weekend in Leeds with the Holmans.  Seems we do everything with the Holmans, when it comes to Christmas.  I think it is due to the fact we are both new to the village with no family nearby.  Everyone else here seems to do things with their families on the run up to Christmas, so we hang out together instead - it works well, we all get on and have fun together.

Fun in the snow globe
We all headed to Leeds by train but had to go on different trains as Matt had a Christmas Translators lunch so had to be there early.   Tom and I did some last minute Christmas shopping before meeting up with the Holmans for lunch:  we had posh street food in a food court place, it was really good: I had naan bread with lamb and all the trimmings all rolled up.  I think I chose too many trimmings as juice then ran down my arm and on to my jumper and skirt and all over me as I ate it.  Guess what, we were travelling light, so I didn't have a change of clothes and smelt faintly of curry for the rest of the weekend!  There's always one isn't there?!
The men

We checked into the hotel and then headed to the Christmas markets.  I was expecting a big market - as in Manchester so was quite surprised to find it was very small.  It had everything though: beer, gluwein, donuts, pretzels, sausages, pork snitzels and stalls selling all kinds of nick naks.  There was also a huge snow globe which the kids went in.

With the princesses
Matt caught up with us after his lunch and we split up: the Holmans to do some Christmas shopping and Matt to drop his stuff off at the hotel.  We met up for a pre-panto drink.  Dave and the lead at the panto, Jez, went to school together, so they keep in touch and now Dave lives 'locally' he makes it a thing to support him by going to the panto. He was a really nice guy.  He had to run off to get ready for it so we had another drink and then went to the theatre, it was a small venue, but with a good atmosphere and we had a great time booing, shouting, laughing etc.  I do like a good panto.  It was Jack and the Beanstalk and was great fun.  I didn't know any of the 'famous' people but I never do these days!  We got a shout out which was great and of course there was a lot of Yorkshire vs Lancashire throughout it.  (I guess I'm an adoptive Yorkshire lady now).

We got to go back stage afterwards to meet the cast - a first for us, what a treat.   Afterwards we headed back to the Christmas markets (just outside) for tea: pork sandwich and gluwein for me - very yummy it was too before heading to the hotel and its bar for a quick drink before bed.
Donuts!!!!

Our favourite Leeds restaurant
Sunday we had breakfast before a spot of shopping and lunch at Bundobust before heading home.  A good fun weekend and all organised by someone else which was great.


Santa Express

Steam Train!
Elf!
This weekend was the first of our Christmassy activities: we were booked on the Santa Express from Carnforth.  This was something that the Holmans found out about via a friend whilst we were in Malaysia.  They booked it for us all whilst we were there.  It was the first year this company had done it, we didn't really know what to expect other than a steam train and a Christmas present for the kids and some food.

Wow!  Super WOW!!!!!  It was absolutely amazing.  They could have just given the kids a present and we would have been happy, but this is what we got:

+ 2 x elves per carriage to keep us entertained, sing-a-long, be merry and happy
+ Picnic lunch for the children, mulled wine, a VERY good beef hotpot and mince pies for the adults
Happy boys!
+ Visit from Santa and a present for the children (Tom got Jenga - they were decent presents)
+ Chocolate advent calendar for all the children
+ An good activity book for all the children
+ A soft toy for all the children
+ A visit to Santa's grotto for all the children


+ A colouring competition for all the children
+ A balloon artist to visit all the children
+ A 4 hour circular steam train ride

Best Daddy dancing...
All for £80 for 4 people (we took Finn with us to make up numbers)

It was a brilliant day out.  We weren't expecting half of it, not actually sure how they made any money on it????!!!!!!  As a result we were all in high spirits, singing along, Matt won a present for great Daddy dancing, we all had a ball.  We are ALL going again next year without question.  The best ever pre-Christmas activity we have ever done, thank you Liz's friend for letting us know about it.

Balloon Guns
AND on our return to Ingleton we headed straight to the Community Centre where Craven Wanderers were having their Christmas party.  So we then spent 3 hours amongst screaming hyper kids 'enjoying' it.  Christmas overload!!!!!
Presents!

Mum and Dad come to stay

I have a confession to make, I have got mega behind with this blog.  It is 6th January and I am trying to remember what we did over a month ago.  Not great, and even with Facebook to prompt me as to what we did, I can't quite remember, so this is going to be a short entry.  Sorry!

Christmas Tree Decorating Team
So, Mum and Dad came up on the last Thursday of November for their pre-Christmas visit in time to collect Tom from school.  On the Friday they headed off on the Settle Carlisle railway to Carlisle and enjoyed themselves, it was a lovely day so there were great views of the countryside to be had.

Friday night was Late Night Shopping in Ingleton with the lantern parade, reindeer and Santa visiting.  In past years it has been a really good night with a great turnout, but this year they didn't advertise it very well, they certainly didn't tell the school and as a result hardly anyone turned up - such a shame.  The lantern parade actually left on time for the first time ever so most people missed it as normally it is late.  There was a fun fair in the Wheatsheaf car park but it wasn't open at the time of the parade?  It was all a bit sad.  We hung around for a little while, did the tombola, watched the old ladies do their tap dancing and then headed home.  I wonder if it will happen at all next year?!

At the Tarn
On Saturday Tom had football in the morning.  Once he got back, he and Matt headed out to the farm to pick up a Christmas tree.  Mum and Dad helped Tom decorate it - they did a good job too, in fact it was a really lovely bushy tree.  Matt was down with a cold whilst Mum and Dad were up.  We had a table booked at The Marton Arms for tea, but he was feeling so rubbish he decided to stay at home.  A shame as we had good nosh.



Sunday we decided to all go out for a day of fresh air.  First stop was the Lime Kilns of Stainforth.  Mum excelled herself, managing to get over a style and over uneven ground to have a good look around.  We then had lunch at Watershed Mill with Pat and Bob before heading to Malham Tarn for a walk to blow away the cobwebs.  It was a lovely afternoon - Mum once again did really well, walking further than we thought.

Happy in pink or is it red?!
Monday Mum and Dad went home - shame, it went too quickly as always.  Thanks for the visit, please try to come in the Summer next year.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Parties and Leeds

It was a busy weekend for Tom.  Friday evening he spent round Fred's house.  Fred has left Ingleton school and is now going to Giggleswick School (the local private school).  I'm not 100% sure why - think it was a mix of friendship issues and academic issues.  Anyway he was missing Tom so he went over for tea.  Sounds like he has settled in well and is enjoying school life - it is a long day though - the bus picks him up at 7.50 and Caroline picks him up from Settle at 5.15.  This, the boy who doesn't do after school clubs because he doesn't like being away from home???!

Saturday football was cancelled as everywhere was flooded and icy (the whole area flooded on Wednesday).  Was a good thing really as Tom had two parties today.  The first one was at a newly opened trampoline park in Morecambe at 12.00 so we didn't have to rush as we would have done if football was on.

The trampoline park in Morecambe was AMAZING.  Don't think it has been open for long, there was hardly anyone there, so the party had the run of the place.  Finn was there, he had been before and was not scared of doing flips, somersaults etc etc.  Tom took his lead from him and gradually got better and better and generally had a really good time.  After an hour the kids came off, all of them were red in the face and sweaty!  Then a pizza lunch followed by chocolate cake (beautiful British fayre!)

We did a spot of shopping in a retail park and then headed home.  Before too long it was time for Tom's second party - a disco party at the scout hut (6pm to 8pm), now what could Matt and I do whilst Tom was at a disco party?  Yep, you've guessed it - we went out for tea, to the Marton Arms where we both had great food.  So good that we booked again for next weekend with Mum and Dad.
Bundobust - eatery par excellence

On the water taxi


Sunday dawned a nice day but the forecast was for rain, so we decided to head to Leeds on the train.  As we had gorged ourselves yesterday we headed to Bundobust for lunch - a vegetarian Indian street food restaurant which is excellent and sells a very good selection of craft beer.  We dug in and weren't disappointed.  Certainly our most favourite veggie restaurant.  We then headed on the little boat to The Royal Armouries Museum to look at swords, guns, horses and elephants.  I was disappointed that it all related to ancient / medieval history - I personally don't find that history interesting, I prefer 20th Century stuff, but there was nothing from that period, apart from in the shop??!
Marksman Tom

After we had gone round it all, we headed back on the boat, did a tiny spot of shopping and then went to Wasabi to get some sushi for tea.  We walked to the train station, got on our train and enjoyed our tea and the ride home.  Back home for the last day of Grand Sumo and bed. 

Vera comes to stay

Climbing in Arnside
Vera finally made it 'up North' this weekend.  We had planned a visit for a while but for one reason or another, it had got cancelled a number of times.

She arrived at Lancaster station on Friday night - Tom and I went to pick her up, whilst Matt saw the weekend in at The Old Post Office, where we caught up with him.  We had a quick drink (I introduced Vera to Rhubarb and Ginger Gin which she liked) and then we headed to La Cascada for tapas - think we had one of everything again!  We certainly ate up well.

Saturday
Tom had football practice in the morning, whilst we got ready (Vera of course is rubbish first thing in the morning because she doesn't go to sleep until the early hours - especially so this weekend as Claire had introduced her to a new app on the iPad and Vera being Vera, she was obsessed with it and couldn't put it down and go to sleep.  We were even sneaky by turning the wifi off at night time to encourage her not to play - but it didn't have an effect - must be an offline game!  Oh hum!

37!
Anyway, Tom got in from football and then we all loaded into the car to Arnside as Vera wanted to see Morecambe Bay.  We had lunch at The Ramblers and then did a little walk along the beach before heading up to Arnside Knott in the car for a look out across the whole bay.  It was very pretty but very cold.  The temperature difference between here and London is significant at the moment as she brought a thin coat and no gloves, scarves or hat with her - so we had to kit her out.  She didn't look her best in my bits and pieces, but she was warm(er).

Amazing sunset
In the evening, after dinner, we headed out to Broadrake (where Matt and Tom have been learning about star gazing) as they had put out a message saying that there would be clear skies and to visit.  Vera wanted to go too (she doesn't get any chance of unpolluted skies where she is).  It was freezing cold, but the skies were clear and there were many many many stars to view.  I learnt a couple more constellations and met some new people - although I have no idea what they look like as I couldn't actually see them!






Certainly worthwhile doing - there are A LOT of stars out there.

Sunday
The night sky from Broadrake
We decided to head to Malham via the high road to see if we could see our favourite beasts.  At first we thought they would let us down, but we found them eventually and went for a word.  Vera somehow managed to fall over on the road, but fortunately as she was wearing all my thick clothes she rolled rather than smashed.  Phew!  She is determined to injure herself when she visits.

As we got in the car to carry on to Malham, some cows decided to walk in the road towards us, they passed by very close to us.  They certainly are very handsome.  We carried on to Malham, checked to see if Vera was up for a walk, she was, so we did the walk along the paved path whilst Matt and Tom went ahead and climbed up to the top of the cove.  The sun was out, so it was looking beautiful and there were rock climbers going up the cliff, which was good fun to watch.

Hairy roadblock
We walked back and headed to the Lister Arms, our favourite pub for lunch.  The food was as fabulous as always and then headed up and over back home via Ribblehead.  We then had a quiet afternoon: Tom washing the car, Vera playing on her iPad app and me making a roast!

Monday
Was a nasty nasty weather day: lots of rain and cold.  As we had route marched Vera all over the place over the weekend, we thought we should let her off today so had a quiet day.  We headed to the Courtyard Diary for lunch where she had raclette, which was very naughty but very nice (and huge!) and then to Settle for a quick stop at the garden centre (she wanted some broad beans for her allotment - and brought some for Tom's gardening club) and home.

Tuesday
The Tsar or Malham (minus hands)
Vera headed back home - we took her to the train station, got her on the right carriage and seat and said goodbye before heading to Lancaster Honda for some test drives - Matt has the urge to change the car.  We've gone for the newer Civic Model, small engine size but with all the bells and whistles.