Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

May you all know peace and happiness this Christmas as we remember the love, peace and personal sacrifice that went into the first Christmas. Angus has worked out roughly what Christmas is all about - presents and candles. He had a great time opening his stocking this morning with Dad in bed, and then tried to open all Ken's presents too! They are currently down stairs playing with a giant construction set: boys will be boys!

First his own...

and then he opened Ken's too! The rubbish bin is at Angus's request, not mine. Is an obsession with tidiness hereditary?

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Lumbups on the move

This evening some (?) of Angus's Lumbups were responsible for hiding lose change that Ken had left lying around. Apparently these Lumbups have legs. His other Lumbups are still on a really really really really long walk with Mark. We are not sure if Mark is aware of this.

Friday, 19 December 2008

On Lumbups

Angus has acquired a few Lumbups (spelling as yet to be confirmed). We are not sure what they are, but according to Denali, a two-year-old friend of his, there are two of them. At least, there were a couple of weeks ago. This morning he had seven. We have asked him about his Lumbups and apparently they are red, have two arms and no legs. They are sometimes seen with Daddy in the garage. This evening some of his Lumbups went walking with Mark.

We know no more than that. If anyone can help us with the Lumbups or can offer more information, please let us know.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


It doesn't seem like nearly a month since I was last writing an update. So much has happened and as usual, time then goes too quickly to sit down and type.

A week after our last posting, we went to Germany for a week. Friends had invited us to share Thanksgiving with them and we had a lovely time eating American style food, enjoying snow, Ken went skiing in Innsbruck and we took in Christkindlmarkts. It was a busy week but a lot of fun and a chance to catch up with German and American friends. And yes, we would still like to go back!

One thing that really surprised us when we were back, was how much Angus obviously remembered. He wanted to be carried on one occasion while we were walking through Amberg. I told him that he must walk to the bridge. He couldn't see the bridge in question at the time, but pointed to where it was saying, "Bridge there." He also knew his way around some of the shops and was able to tell recall some events that had happened in Germany, and people he knew by name. He has also realised that Danke is German, and now says Thank you instead, or makes a point of saying Danke. He also now calls trees Baum again! I think he enjoys playing with words and will tell you when something is German.

A couple of days after coming back from Germany, the in-laws came to stay and we had a lovely long weekend and took Angus to a Christmas event at a nearby stately home. He loved the animals in the farm yard but was frustrated that he wasn't allowed to go and play on the traction engine parked there.

So why no posting? Because it was our wedding anniversary last Saturday and inbetween all the above, I have been doing this.....

It is a collage of all the elements of our marriage, well, all the ones I could scrap anyway! As you can imagine, it has taken ages as I am not a naturally good scrapper and take a long time to work our what works, how the papers combine and what I need to do to make it all tie together. I am happy with the finished result, although I will almost certainly redo the Scotland page as I don't think that works well. It's too dark. The pictures will eventually be mounted - which will be quite a job as they are all 6" x 6"!

When I work out how to add a photo album to a blog page, I will add piccies of our trip to Germany/Austria, and of the visit to the Christmas event. It was lovely, except that Angus definitely thinks strange men with white beards who sit tucked out of the way and are too friendly with little children, are to be avoided. Probably a good thing too....

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Revenge is ours...

We have recently been receiving a form of hate mail. This may not be intentional, but frankly, being sent lots of photos of people having a good time in woods on bikes, skydiving, attending lovely community feasts and festivals, while we are still being rained upon, is a form of hate mail.

Last weekend we did this...

This was our first camp site and, yes, it was very cold in the morning but it soon warmed up.

We camped in this valley on the second night, near a rather nice pub that serves excellent home brewed beer.

And Blue came too - naturally. He carried his own bed, bowl, food, and a coat for those cold nights out.

For two days we had glorious weather, sun, mountains, camped out, no rain, friends and family. Like I said, REVENGE!

Angus had a rather fun time staying with Granny. All he said about the weekend was, "Stars." Okay...?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Visiting Penis

We are going to stay with Dugger and Penis this weekend. Will let you know how we get on.... They don't have much of a sense of humour...

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Life With a Toddler 5 - Names

Parental Advisory: Contains Potentially Offensive Language!!! :) 18

Angus has recently got a bit confused over names and who owns what. He understands the idea that objects are associated with people so, for example, when I am sorting laundry, Angus will label things with Daddy's, Mummy's, mine, etc. He has grasped the the linguistic pattern of adding an "s" to make something possessive, but not now tends to add an "s" onto the ends of names randomly. This has led to my sister-in-law, Pennie, being called something that sounds like Penis.

He has also decided that my Mother, known as Granny, is better pronounced as Gaga. His Great Grandmother is therefore Great Gaga. And his Grandma, Ken's mum, is now know as Bummer.

HHHmmmm - so his conversation revolves around Gaga, Bummer and Penis. Not good. Let's hope he grows out of this one soon.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Sunny Days in Autumn

I know that if you read Duffs on the Go, you will have got the idea that it does nothing but rain in England. This is not true - we had a sunny day last week! In honour of the sun, and lack of opportunity to climbing this year (I think we have made it out only about three times so far!), we took Angus out to try his new climbing harness.

At first Angus really hated having this strange piece of something wrapped around him and he screamed a bit and wriggled in protest. He really does hate being fussed! Once he realised that the purpose of this was so that he could climb like Daddy, and to Daddy, who was holding the rope to belay him to the top, Angus was very happy in deed!

This is what he did:
He had a great time, and really enjoyed swinging, jumping on the rope and at times he was really climbing and looking (a bit!) for footholds. A lot of the time, though, he wanted to swing and just play - and why not. There is plenty of time yet to try out the E4s!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

I'm Tagged!

So I have been tagged. I don't always do these, but I am concerned about the spy software that I have been informed about from my "tagger"!

Here are the rules...
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. List six random things about yourself.
3. Tag six people at the end of the post.

Six random things about myself:
1) I aspire to many things - but don't really have the will power to achieve any of them.
2) I could live on a diet of biscuits, fresh bread, tuna mayonnaise and cheese - just not very healthily!
3) I really like my new short hair and found the long hair a real pain.
4) Mountain Rescue is a total buzz and I missed it when I was in Germany.
5) I would love to live in Scotland, with the German weather and bear festivals.
6) I find baths and beach holidays boring.

So now I tag 6 people but I only know one more person who blogs!
Dr Karen

Anyone else reading this who blogs, can you be my other five?

Monday, 29 September 2008

A Picture to Warm a Grandfather's Heart

I have to post this for Angus's Grampa. Since before I was born, my Dad has owned a steam engine. He bought a second one several years ago, a roller, although that is still being restored.

Look what I saw when I came downstairs the other day: Angus is already showing an interest in the family steam business. The picture he was studying so carefully is a line up of thirteen Burrell Showman's engines from a magazine that he has learned the contents of by heart. A lovely thought for a Grampa with more than a passing interest in steam!

The picture below is my Dad showing Angus his (now more correctly my brother's) engine at a steam rally last summer. Look how proud his Grampa is!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Vegetables and Fruit

I love Freecycle! Check out the link and my previous posting Clearing Out the Clutter, March 26th.

Freecycle, if you haven't met it before is all about not having to buy new stuff and not having to throw out old stuff just because you haven't got a use for it anymore. It's about not buying in to the idea that you have to have new, just because you do and just because there is no useful forum for getting hold of second hand. It's very liberating! You know the scenario, you need clothes' hangers, for example, and just know that someone down the street will have a superfluity of them but you don't know who, and so you go and buy some. It's stupid, because that person down the street will be throwing them out next week to create more space.

So, I put a posting on their website asking for toddler toys. Angus has been getting a bit bored with his toys and needed a bit of stretching and some more age appropriate stuff. I asked if anyone had toys that their child had outgrown. I had a couple of replies and ended up with the world's ugliest but Angus loves it rocking horse, and a Little Tikes kitchen unit with two carrier bags full of fruit and veg, plates, pans, cutlery, the whole lot! Needless to say, the rocking horse has been cleaned and will need to be spruced up, but he adores the kitchen. Ken has been given cups of tea, his soft toys are being fed a very healthy diet and Angus has learned to make a very delicious casserole of mixed veg, watermelon, cheese, grapes and fried eggs. Yum.

This is Angus the morning after he got his kitchen. He refused to come down stairs for his breakfast and insisted that he wanted to eat it in his kitchen at the breakfast bar using one of the chairs which came with a little red table also from Freecycle!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Daddy Mark Blue Walk

Angus has been really funny with Ken being away. The first evening when Ken was away he insisted in sitting in Ken's chair for dinner. He then proceeded to test every dinner rule we have: singing Old Macdonald at the table, throwing food, tipping his water on the table, getting up and walking around, and lots of "bam bam" (hitting things with his spoon - or anything else he can get hold of). Dinner was not peaceful and ended up with Angus being moved away from the table and then finally being strapped into his high chair.

He cried.

I felt guilty.

I didn't give in.

He went to bed without a struggle but did ask after Daddy.The next morning he woke up cheerfully at 7.30. He wanted some milk. I went downstairs to get some and by the time I came back up stairs he was standing beside our bed saying, "Up, up!" So I lifted him up. He crawled over to Ken's side of the bed, grabbed a cushion and then did an imitation of Ken getting comfy for a cup of tea (a Saturday ritual when we are all at home). He sat on Ken's pillow, cushion behind, pulled the duvet over himself, tucked himself in, said, "Daddy," rearranged the cushion then followed this with "Milk - pease (sic)". Hhhmmm. Dad's away and now I am man of the house?

Everything followed reasonably uneventfully until last night - Monday. He had asked after Daddy earlier in the day and I told him that Daddy would be coming home tonight after he was asleep. I don't know how much this registered but I do know that he became really excited and didn't sleep until after 11.00! At dinner Angus also looked at Ken's chair (he had been put back in his high chair - no arguing!) and I reiterated when Ken was coming back. He looked at me and said, "Daddy, Blue Mark walk."

Ken arrived back at 11.30. He was really tired, unpacked his kit, put a load of washing out, and went to bed. Angus woke up unacceptably early for a child who hadn't gone to sleep until after 11.00. Ken was awake at 6.30 to catch an early bus for work. Angus woke up, I took him downstairs to see his Dad. He looked at me, said, "Down" and walked straight over to Ken, patting his knee. "Up," he said, and then gave Daddy a hug.

Happy son, happy Daddy.

Ken left for work; Angus said, "Bye", then turned to me and gave me big hug too.

Happy wife.

Then I tackled the laundry.

And the wet tent.

And the pans, water bottles, thermos, sleeping bag, dog bedding, ....

Angus went and tackled Mark in bed.

We did do some proper cooking while Daddy was away! In case you are wondering, Angus is mashing spuds.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Life With a Toddler - 3

Old Mac now also has on his farm:
a paint brush
a window
a bath
some lights (useful!)
a buggy
a roller
a steam engine
a tractor
a train
a red van
a biro
dirty laundry
a wet nappy
a nectarine stone
a raisin
an elbow
- and a penis. Last edited 8th October

Hhhmmm - suggestions for sound effects? I have given up on those and just go for a descriptive phrase. It's a lot easier.

Being a Single Mum - for a weekend.

Ken is away this weekend. He went on Thursday afternoon and isn't coming back until Monday evening. He is walking in Scotland with two of his friends and they have decided that it should be a boys' weekend and so Angus and I aren't invited. Although Angus is a boy of course, it's just that his mountaineering skills are a little bit limited for what they are doing.

This has left me and Angus on our own. Blue was invited as he is also a boy (dog) and his mountaineering skills are up to scratch - and he carries his own stuff now that he has doggy panniers.

Thoughts on being a single Mum (for a long weekend).
  • The house is too quiet.
  • Is Ken okay? There is no phone reception where he is walking. Am I going to get a sympathetic, nervous knock on the door? It's okay when I am walking with them as I know what is going on and whether they are being too risky, but my imagination is somewhat vivid and too well informed (a symptom of being on a Mountain Rescue team for seven years).
  • I don't feel the need to do the washing up for some reason - unless I know there is a friend coming round.
  • It's great knowing that things will be where I left them and not randomly left lying round.
  • I don't have to clear up after Ken leaving his stuff lying everywhere.
  • I fluctuate between housework apathy and obsessive tidiness.
  • I can leave my scrapbooking stuff out and spend a lot of time indulging myself and not feel guilty.
  • I don't feel so inspired to do my scrapbooking - see first point.
  • I miss being hugged.
  • I like having the bed to myself - sort off. I like having the duvet not being pulled off me.
  • I miss not having the duvet being pulled off me.
  • I like the undisturbed sleep.
  • I find it difficult going to bed on my own.
  • I can cook random food and don't feel the need to cook a proper meal.
  • I feel like I am cheating when I don't cook properly and miss the need to cook healthily.
  • I miss not having Ken coming home and taking over looking after Angus for a while.
It's just as well that this is only for a short period of time. I have been thinking a lot about my friends who have husbands on Really Long Business Trips. They both have small children as well and their husbands are away for a Really Long Time. Could I adjust to that? Maybe, (see point 2) but I am really glad that I don't have to. I can see that I would have to keep my days well structured in order to keep the momentum going. I can also see that it could be too easy to stagnate and become a slob. Just as well that I have a little bundle of energy running around wanting to be entertained. He keeps talking about Daddy and Blue. Fortunately he saw Mark arrive to collect Ken and he also remembers Mark, so it has been easy to tell him that Daddy and Mark have gone for a Really Long Walk - with Blue.

Hhhmmm - what shall I do tomorrow? Ah, Sunday. Church followed by what, I wonder? No dog to walk, no housework needing doing, no laundry, paperwork up to date. I shall scrapbook. Excellent. Hope the sun shines and I feel inspired!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Life with a toddler 2 - Old Macdonald

There is a popular children's song in England about what Old Macdonald has on his farm. I have no idea if it has any equivalent in any other country, but it goes something like this...

Old Macdonald has a farm
And on that farm he has a (something e.g. horse)
With a neigh neigh here
And a neigh there
Here a neigh, there a neigh,
Everywhere a neigh neigh.
Old Macdonald has a farm,

So why the lyrics?

As anyone with a toddler will know, they tend to get obsessive about things sometimes. The experts tell us that toddlers like the same things repeated as it gives them a sense of control and understanding. Here is something familiar that I know about and understand as opposed to all the other stuff that I haven't yet got a clue about.

With Angus this has been singing Old Macdonald. And asking to have it sung, sometimes at really inappropriate times. And then asking again. And again.

The funny thing is that we have realised that he often asks when he wants OM to have something really weird on his farm - and then you are left inventing some sound effect for whatever it is that he now has on his extremely wide and varied homestead! OM is clearly into diversification!

Some of the things Old Macdonald now has on his farm:
Dog (quite normal so far!)
Crocodile (more wild life park than farm)
Blue (the colour, not the dog, although he has been requested too!)
Yellow (somewhat abstract)
Love (cute)
Hug (just as cute)
Water (in England after all this rain, more like flood water)
a Sneeze
An axe
Chainsaw (those were during Scout camp)
Guitar (this was after listening to the radio and Angus asking what they all were)

and my favourite - poo (yes, probably lots of it...on a normal farm)

Now, what sound effects would you come up with for some of those?

Oh, chocolate has appeared several times too. Yum, yum.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Birthday Train Stopped by on Saturday...

Yes, Angus is now two!

On Saturday we celebrated his two-ness with a breakfast (to keep the Granny happy), opened presents, lit the birthday train and Angus singed his eyelashes getting too keen about blowing them out! We then spent the day with friends who have a boy a few weeks older than Angus. We visited the fishes and they surprised us all by presenting Angus with a birthday cake made by their older daughter. On Sunday we had a little party and remembered with affection our house in Theuern, which lent itself much better to parties than this one does.

All in all, we had a lovely weekend and Angus thoroughly enjoyed himself. He keeps talking about the sharks, the waterfall you could sit under, and asking for more wine and beer. He also seems to have decided that now he is two, he is equal to his Dad. After his party on the Sunday, his Dad was running his bath and Angus was running around upstairs shouting "Ken! Ken!" HHhhhmmm. Maybe when he is 18.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Life With a Toddler 1

I was going to the loo yesterday morning, when Angus opened the bathroom door and walked in carrying a toy cow. He gave it to me and insisted that I hold it.

He came back a few seconds later carrying a toy mouse. I had to hold that too.

Then he came back with a large teddy bear; then a smaller teddy bear; then a soft dog; then a polar bear; then a green frog and finally a soft monkey called Baba.

I asked him what I was meant to do with all these toys whilst sitting on the loo. He just pushed them closer in to me - I was meant to hug them.

I have never sat on the loo, that I can remember, hugging a plethora of soft toys:
but then, I have never had a toddler before.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

A short problem

When we were away on holiday, Jo, Ken's sister, was discussing her short hair-do. When I first met her, her hair was past her shoulders and it is now short. Her husband is not too happy but tolerates it as he loves her. Just as well.

I had my hair short (really short) when Ken and I started going out and he didn't like it at all. We made an agreement that he would keep his hair short if I grew mine long. Ken, like many men, prefers long hair on women. That is okay, except that he doesn't have to put up with washing it, drying it, remembering to tie it up when going out as I hate it blowing around my face. It's not practical on rescues. It looks dull when just tied in a pony. I don't have time to do anything interesting with it. It gets in the way when I sleep. It is hot in the summer.

Answer - cut it off. Don't tell the hubby until after it is done and hope that he can cope.

See below.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Back to reality...

We are back from our hols. Since June we haven't really stopped and it is so nice to know that all the Scouts camped, the guests are returned, the family stayed with and we can start to resume some semblance of normality.

Angus has certainly had a super time as he really enjoyed having his cousins Callum and Evan staying with us and seeing them again when we had a clan gathering in Scotland. He keeps asking where Evan and Gumgum are - I think he misses them. Both Ken and I have also noticed a big improvement in his speaking over the last month. His vocabulary is widening, his pronunciation is so much clearer and he is now using two and three word sentences.

Last week we were in Mallaig in Scotland. It is a small seaside town that was built on fishing and acting as a port for sailing to the near by western islands. Skye is just over the water and there is usually a clear view of the Cuillins. Eigg and Rhum are also easily visible. The beaches there are wonderful and full of fine, white sand more reminiscent of the Caribbean than a typical Scottish beach. We spent several days on the beach and although it wasn't warm, it was beautiful and Angus built and destroyed lots of castles! We also took a boat to Eigg and walked to the top of the fin. Enjoy the pictures. We certainly enjoyed ourselves, and it only rained once.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Guess who has taken up climbing?

We have two of the four American nephews staying with us, and, despite having some seriously good outdoor climbing near us, they have decided in their teenage wisdom that indoor climbing is better. So on Sunday we all went to a climbing wall, and Angus naturally decided that he wanted to go too. The gym had a really tiny harness small enough for him and this was the result.

Look out Leo Holding!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Serious Gardening 3

And what was Angus up to while we were gardening?

Helping of course!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Serious Gardening 2

The finished product! Doesn't look much in this light, and the plants need to mature a bit more. But hopefully there will be a lot more colour and variety. The larger plants at the back will need to be trimmed in the Autumn and that will help it all look a bit less "Little and Large" and to be honest, the plants are already filling out since these pictures were taken. Anyone fancy a visit?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Serious Gardenning

I decided that the garden was in need a radical overhaul. The problem was that just before we left for Germany, the garden was really getting on my nerves. There was a rockery that led to the steps. They were so big that the previous owners of the house had placed concrete paving slabs on them to reduce the amount of ground. This left and narrow path, then edging stones, then paving slabs and no where large enough to place chairs and a tab at the back, with steps up the middle and these two huge flower beds on either side of a pathle to sit out on. Or large enough for a child to play on.

So we changed the shape of the flower beds. It wasn't too difficult - just hard work. We reduced the size of the beds by drawing a semi circle from where we wanted the centre to be and shifting the edging stones to there. Then moved the paving slabs to fill a more useful location and the shrubs had to temporarily relocated so that they weren't in the middle of our new sitting/playing space.

Problem - the shrubs were all randomly relocated. There were bare patches where the slabs were moved from, crowded patches where the beds were made smaller and none of the shrubs were trimmed or pruned while we were away! As there were three hydrangeas, the garden was somewhat overgrown in places!

Solution - I spent a day with a lovely lady called Rebecca who came and sorted out the mess. You know how you meet someone and you are immediately on the same wave length? That is what happened. My garden was mainly green fir trees, these huge hydrangeas, some yellow things and a few other smaller plants. The effect was not pleasing and there was no colour until about late July/early August. So Rebecca and I planned. We had a tight budget so she said that I could work with her digging and replanting, and she would provide the knowledge. PERFECT!

It was not the right time of year to prune hydrangeas - we just dug one out altogether instead!
We also dug out some of the large fir trees, and other plants that were just too large, or that were not to my taste, moved other plants and had the whole garden cleared by lunchtime. We then went to a garden nursery, chose plants for eventual size, colour, leaf shape, when they flower, and so on, came back and had the whole garden finished and tidy by 7.00 (except for one pile that needs shredding for compost.) Pictures below:

The front of the house. With large shrubs, fir bushes and lots of weeds.

The back garden - can you spot a rather green and yellow theme? Oh, and lavender.

After pictures tomorrow - have to wake Angus up.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Okay, so I haven't written in ages. What have we been up to? The list includes exam marking, report writing, taking an exam myself, closely followed by a somewhat wet and eventful visit from friends from Germany that culminated in a trip to London (see The Duffys' Blog) and a few days in Germany ourselves. I did then have a few days of peace, if you can call an increasingly belligerent toddler peaceful, but that was all shattered by 12 days of rain, canvas and smelly Scouts. Yes, the annual pilgrimage to Scotland for Scout Camp. Sadly we have few pictures of said camp due to my husband's belief that we should use rechargeable batteries, and my camera's belief that they really aren't worth the insertion. But I have attached a few pictures for perusal.

It was Ken's birthday in June. He has been restoring this car in his "spare time" for a while. I arranged for it to be insured, serviced, taxed and MOTd for his birthday. Here he is with Angus proving that it really is a perfectly sensible car to own as car seat and buggy do fit in! Angus loves it and they went for a short jaunt around Macclesfield that evening just because they could.

This is Scotland. Yes, the sun does shine in the Britain sometimes, and yes, it really was warm enough for Angus to go skinny dipping. Just try telling him that he can't play in water! He ended up wading in up to his waist and splashing anyone close enough, including the dog. Oh, where were we? Loch Ken!

This really is the best way to have a bath. Hot water courtesy of my brother's steam engine, tin bath from his old caravan (over 100 years old caravan) and sunshine from up above. As you can imagine, Angus was very happy and played until the water was cool and he was shivering (don't tell the Germans!).

My Dad being a very proud Grandfather, with Angus at the controls of my brother's steam engine, Queen Victoria. She is over 100 years old and is still fully functioning having had a complete rebuild this winter. We were at a steam engine rally for the weekend and Angus loved it - tractors, engines, model steam trains to ride on, fair ground rides doting Grandparent, sunshine and beer! What more could a little boy want.

One of the few pictures from Scotland scout camp. This one is more typical of Scotland, sadly, as this was one of only three days when it didn't rain in a twelve day camp. You can see that we have erected drying lines for obvious reasons! We had a lot of fun but it was a bit too long in the rain under canvas and difficult to keep Angus happy and entertained. But, he was happy 90% of the time and we had a couple of wonderful scouts who liked playing with him and I think the entertainment was mutual!