Friday 31 March 2023

Overdue Blog Post - Part Three!

Wow, so I finally have the time and space to get writing again and find myself approaching the end of March having not written anything since early January - whoops!

Luckily for me I have been keeping a diary of sorts and so have a pretty good idea of what I've been up to but am wondering how best to either summarise or move on from my last post. Which I think means this will be more of an overview and perhaps there will be separate posts focusing on some of the happenings over the last few months.

Plus I need to figure out a way to get back into writing more often...perhaps I need to go back to my diary type posts that I did over the preceding couple of years...something to think about!

But let's get back to the job at hand and try and summarise what's been happening of late.

So, where were we...ah yes Christmas! This year (or should that be last year?) was different to our usual routine of years gone by. This was the first Christmas since my dad had passed and that meant the first Christmas for Simon and I without any of our parents and while that brought about its own set of emotions it also meant that we had only ourselves to please. Which meant we were able to mix things up a little!

Molly and Dan were spending Christmas at their home, having spent the previous year with us, so we decided to travel down to see them instead. This resulted in us making the journey to Bournemouth on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas Day) for a few days before returning to celebrate the New Year at home.

I'd realised as we approached Christmas that ordinarily after having the big Christmas Day meal we would make use of any leftover food on Boxing Day...but as we wouldn't be home on Boxing Day this meant a change of plan. As Ethan's birthday is on Christmas Eve we decided to have our big Christmas dinner for his birthday instead and then make Christmas Day a very relaxed affair with presents and leftover food, which worked out beautifully. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the unwrapping of presents and have a very chilled out day as opposed to the usual slaving away in the kitchen! Plus because there was only the three of us it meant that cooking on Christmas Eve wasn't the big ordeal that it would have been compared to previous years. Oh and of course birthday celebrations in this house meant it was Mickey waffle time!

We had a lovely few days in Bournemouth even though the weather was rather soggy. We were able to exchange presents, enjoy some lovely meals, do lots of walking interspersed with coffees and even a little ice skating. Although on this occasion Simon decided to forgo the skating as it was very, very wet and joined me and Ethan in watching Molls and Dan enjoy themselves on the ice.

On the 29th December we travelled home with Molls and Dan making the journey as well so that we had a few days with all of us at home. We were able to make use of the outdoor skating rink in Nottingham that this year had an elevated 'skate path'...

Nottingham's Skate Path, above the Christmas market

...and when I saw 'we' I do of course mean Molls, Dan and Simon. I watched from afar and then went off in search of coffee and a little retail therapy. We saw the New Year in as a family with an array of board games and a lovely 'big' meal on New Years Day.

But by January 3rd the house was very quiet; Molls and Dan had gone back home to Bournemouth and Ethan was back at work. That left Simon and I with a couple of days to get the house back to 'normal' as we embarked on the horrible task of taking down and putting away of all the Christmas decorations; I love all my Christmas 'stuff' and hate having to put it all away. It actually took us about three days to put everything away with the majority being done by yours truly once Simon returned to work.

Well with Christmas and New Year done lets move onto January.

We started to get back into our routine of early morning (and rather chilly) walks followed by our Wim Hof breathing and a little meditation. Cold showers have now become the 'norm' for both Simon and I and these have continued regardless of what we have been up to. Unfortunately after getting back into our stride with the morning walks we had to take a little bit of a break as I suffer with chilblains on my left foot and once aggravated it becomes uncomfortable to walk on for extended periods and only gets worse if my feet get cold. So with a spell of very chilly weather we took a bit of a break from our walks.

Through January I was dealing with the sale of my dads house as we had signed all the necessary paperwork just before Christmas and it was now a case of working with solicitors to get everything done as speedily as possible.

We also started making some headway with our Jedi robes ready for Star Wars Celebration at Easter. And of course when I say 'we' I actually mean Simon, and his focus was on making some leather pouches for our belts to house our mobile phones. He also mastered the technique of metal casting by using pewter to make the buckles for our belts. 

For my part I had to order some different trousers as the fit on the pair I'd originally ordered was a little snug. And then there was an awful lot of research into the correct material to order for the outer cloak...something that was of the right dark brown colour and that was also of a heavy, wool like material. Suffice to say I think I went cross eyed looking at all the different options out there.

By the end of January we had found a local dressmaker that was willing (and excited) to help us with the technical aspect of putting the tunic/tabard section of the robes together. But I think I will go into more detail about our Jedi robes in a separate post!

We tried to get out for our morning walks again when the weather eased but no sooner than we had got back into the routine the weather turned rather cold again so we resigned ourselves to just get out as and when we could.

As we moved through January I was focused on getting more things removed from my dads house in readiness for the sale going through, along with the subsequent organising of Ebay sales. And my involvement with pre-school continued as we looked at the ongoing finances as well as a potential change in charitable status; so lots of research and a fair few meetings over numerous cups of coffee.

Ethan is still trying to find himself a house and we managed a viewing of one, but it was not quite what he was after,  and he had another couple of viewings cancelled at the last minute. First time buyer houses seem to go rather quickly once they get on the market - oh well just got to keep on looking.

And I think that covers January, so I will stop here and get writing the next post!

Friday 13 January 2023

Overdue Blog Post - Part Two!

So we pick up this blog post from the middle of November 2022 and something we had not done since the early Summer.

Every few months we venture into Nottingham to spend an afternoon drawing; life drawing to be precise. Our friend, and burlesque performer, Scarlett Daggers runs an event called Dr Sketchy's that takes place above a pub in Nottingham and is aimed at artists of all levels. And because Scarlett is a burlesque performer the models are always from the world of burlesque and cabaret and we are even treated to a performance from one of the models.

Suffice to say Simon is able to produce some wonderful art work using his digital drawing tablet while I on the other hand stick to paper and pencil!

A couple of my attempts
There are even prizes handed out and Simon was lucky enough to get picked for one of his drawings...

Simon with fellow 'winners' and Scarlett Daggers

I, on the other hand, was just happy to produce something that didn't look too bad!!

The last week in November took on a decidedly Christmas theme as it was time to get prepped for a weekend of decorating. So prior to that happening there was a lot of organising and cleaning through that needed to be done. 

Molly and Dan visited for that last weekend as I was not allowed to decorate without Molly being home! So we started late on Friday afternoon and by the end of Saturday we had everything in place, both inside and out. Which considering we had three trees indoors to assemble and decorate, numerous ornaments to place around the house, swags to hang and then two gardens to illuminate I don't think we did too bad.

One of my three Christmas trees...this one is ALL Disney!!

And even R2D2 got in the act with Simon having 3D printed a special Santa hat for him!!

My forward planning for the outdoor Christmas lights proved to be very helpful and everything seemed to go very smoothly and relatively easy. And I even have a remote control for some of my lights! I had a couple of outdoor light sets that didn't have a self timer which would have meant me going outside each night to switch them on so Simon introduced me to remote switches for plugs. Wow, what a simple and very satisfying product; not only can I switch my outdoor lights on from the comfort of indoors I can also switch on tree lights that are plugged into hard to get to sockets. Best buy ever!

It was then time for another week off work for Simon as he needed to make sure he used all of his holiday allowance before the end of the year. We had a day out shopping at Meadowhall, Sheffield with the aim of getting a little Christmas shopping done. So although no Christmas presents were bought we did come away with some new boots for Ethan (introduced him to the world of Dr Martens!) and some more Christmas lights for my garden and this time they were Mickey shaped ones!

We then enjoyed a couple of nights away and this time we ventured over to Birmingham. Again we thought we would be able to get some Christmas shopping done but alas we came home empty handed...suffice to say all our shopping has been completed online instead!

But Birmingham had a lovely, and extensive, German Christmas Market which was great to walk through. We had a couple of nice meals out, we walked lots and consequently had lots of stops for coffee and chat.

Back home and with our shopping focus being online I took advantage of a price reduction and bought my first ever Disney Spirit these are a big thing with Disney fans and whilst there have been some lovely designs over the years that have tempted me they are not the cheapest purchase. But I couldn't resist this one as it combined my love of Disney and Christmas and at a price I was happy to pay!

And while I was shopping I couldn't resist picking up this decoration just for Simon!!

Because every Christmas tree needs a dancing stormtrooper!!
And now we were into December and the season of chocolate...high cocoa and high quality chocolate of course...
Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar
And as we moved into December the weather decided to acknowledge the season and turned rather frosty and cold. After a couple of early morning walks in freezing temperatures with very icy pavements we decided that staying home in the warmth with a hot coffee was the better and safer option. Although we still maintained our routine of cold showers, Wim Hof breathing and meditating.

We enjoyed a fabulous night out for my birthday (actually on my birthday) at La DeDa Cabaret in Derby. It was another fun filled night out with burlesque, comedy and cabaret and I even had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me by the audience.

Out, out!
The following morning we were out early with Ethan in tow to head out for a posh breakfast as part of my birthday celebrations. We have discovered a deli in Nottingham (Delilah Fine Foods) that does an amazing breakfast that suits our keto way of eating perfectly...the pancetta is to die for! I even picked up a few Christmas pressies from their array of food goodies on sale too.

Oh and I also did rather well on the present front with even my old team from pre-school surprising me with a rather appropriate Star Wars themed gift...

My birthday weekend also saw us take a trip up north to hook up with our very good friend, and my podcast co-host, Michelle. This was a chance for a catch-up as well as an exchange of Christmas presents. We decided to meet up at Meadowhall Shopping Centre as this is about half way between where we both live. 

The day started out a bit grey and foggy but as we ventured further north the weather conditions took a bit of a turn. It started with seeing reduced speed limit signs, along with signs warning of 'salt spreading ahead' and then everywhere turned wet which quickly turned into slush on the roads and before we knew it all but two lanes of the motorway were covered in snow! And that was all in the last five minutes of our journey. But we arrived safely and after a few hours spending time with Michelle (and shopping!) the weather improved and the roads were all clear for our return journey home.

But seeing Michelle did mean that we could surprise her with a very special Mickey Mouse figure...

Michelle & Mickey!
...all printed, assembled and painted in Snow White (Michelle's favourite princess) colours. Suffice to say Michelle was blown away with it. I will share more details in a later post to explain how this all came about!

And then the day ended rather strangely and unexpectedly. We arrived home to find a lady wandering along the road to our house...she looked lost and so we stopped to ask if she needed help finding somewhere. It turned out that the lady was homeless and on seeing us asked if we had a phone she could use as she needed to call the emergency services as she wanted to 'kill myself'. At that I quickly phoned through for her and we then spent the next few hours trying to get her the help that she needed.

Both the ambulance and police services were reluctant to help explaining that it wasn't a job for the police but for the ambulance and vice versa! They were both experiencing severe delays and could not give us an estimate of when someone would be able to get out to help the lady. So in the intervening time we found a bench and supplied her with hot cups of tea, biscuits and a blanket to keep her warm as well as talking with her to see if we could figure out what had happened and whether there was anyone that could help her.

It turned out that she was under the care of a local trust who support the homeless so we decided to try and sort the situation ourselves by calling them. As luck would have it the person that Simon spoke to was an old school friend which helped make everything that bit easier. Ultimately we ended up driving the lady to the local trust just a few miles away and cancelling the ambulance. The police did call us back when we were enroute to advise us of the same information that we'd already found out ourselves. We explained what we were doing and they expressed their gratitude. We can only hope that the lady herself has been able to get the help and support that she very evidently needed.

On a lighter note...I did manage to complete two suitably themed jigsaws during the lead up to Christmas...

As we moved towards Christmas we had another busy weekend that saw a night out for me with the pre-school ladies and a busy Sunday for Simon as he was a guest speaker at Nottingham Video Games Expo.

Simon has been asked numerous times over the years to speak at various video game events about his career but has always declined. He is always much more focused on what he is currently working on rather than looking back at what has been. But as this expo was so close to home he decided to give it a go and see whether or not it was something that he would like to do more of in the future.

And Simon being the organised and professional individual that he is had spent the preceding weeks producing a presentation that documented his career making video games that spans over 35 years!! Check out his website for more details of his extensive portfolio!

Simon in full flow delivering his presentation
Signing autographs for fans!!
I think it probably surprised us both at just how interested people were in all aspects of his career and we spent a lovely couple of hours chatting and reminiscing. So will Simon be taking part in more of these type events in the future? Who knows...I think it will all depend on where, when and the time involved. But as least Simon now has this experience to refer back to and will be in a better position to make decisions around any future requests.

And this brings us to the last full week before Christmas. Ethan's last day at work was the 16th, as he'd got left over holiday to use up, while Simon had to wait until the 21st...and it is from there where I think the next post will pick up!