31 August, 2010

Off to Padstow...


Off to Padstow...
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

...today to score some Rick Stein grub... ;)

29 August, 2010

Sunset on Widmouth bay...


Sunset on Widmouth bay...
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

...nighty nite... ;)

25 August, 2010

Yay! Holiday!

Finished for the day, no more work until September 6th... ;) Usual disclaimer, may not post much in the meantime... :)
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24 August, 2010

Thomas take his first steps

So, Thomas has been gaining a little confidence over the last week and this evening he took 3 big boy steps from Lovely Louise into my arms...! Words cannot describe how amazing it is to see the development from baby to toddler (and the BIG GRIN on his face)...

So, well done Thomas! A very important milestone, let's hope you repeat the performance in front of a camera next time... ;o)

xxx

Train ticket nonsense

Canary Wharf DLR tracks
I've only got today and tomorrow left at work this week and (annoyingly) my train ticket ran out yesterday, so this morning we left the house a little early in order to make sure I was at the front of the queue (not having anything like this happen again if I can help it), when I finished my little walk from the main road where Flyingpops drops me off, the ticket lady was just setting off to do her rounds with a bin bag to pick up all the coffee cups and discarded drink cans, which takes her a while as the platforms are quite long, so I thought I would try my luck with the ticket machine at the front of the station...now, to put this is context, my usual weekly ticket costs about £50 (with my new super sneaky route) but the cheapest ticket possible to purchase from the machine (I spent a while poking around the various options) was a daily zone 2-6 travel card priced at £22...if that were right it would mean my travel today and tomorrow would set me back £44, or only £6 cheaper than what I normally cough up for *seven* days fare, which made me frown quite hard, so I thought I would be patient and query it at the ticket office...

After a bit of experimentation (once she had finished doing all the sweeping up), it turned out that there was a cheaper option, but one that wasn't available on the public ticket machine (bit naughty that), if I opted for two daily returns to Coulsdon South (£6.50 each) and then bought two anytime Day Travelcards from Coulsdon to London zones 2-6 (£9 each) then it would work out costing £31 in total (or £15.50 per day) - better but still a bit of a hike from my usual daily rail fare (which works out around) £7.14 (when you take the weekend into account)...

So not a total fail on my part, but I honestly think it's a bit of a con - shouldn't there (arguably) be a button on the machine to calculate the best value tickets for the journey (it shouldn't be that difficult to code up), I think it's just slightly immoral to only present you with the most expensive option for each journey, I bet most people just blindly push the button and never even think twice about it...

23 August, 2010

Ready for Hols!

Thomas helping with the shopping
Well, what a productive weekend! I think we are now pretty much ready for our little holiday (starting at the end of the week - yay!), we went up in the loft and got the surf board, wet suits and suitcase down, tidied up the garden and took down the gazebo (which wasn't easy as we had banged the 4 foot road pins in a bit too far - even bending one in the process), Flyingpops went to Crawley (while I baby-sat) and bought some holiday clothes for herself and Thomas, packed a load of food and condiments from the cupboards and then went and did a bit of extra food shopping for the break (which Thomas helped us out with as you can see), so just about all we have left to do is actually pack everything into the car (but we've saved that pleasure for Thursday)...can't wait to get away!

20 August, 2010

Awesome Graphics!


This is truly incredible...check out the E3 footage of Codemasters' new title - F1 2010...it just looks...well, *real*...!

18 August, 2010

July 2010 Neighbourhood Watch

How exciting! Rather than the usual sort of things (6 incidents of old dears reporting the new postman as a "suspicious person" and 2 naughty kids playing with a tennis ball (a "nuisance disturbance") on the ("no ball games") green) apparently we have had an...actual crime...! *Gasp*!

It was only two roads away from where I live, two guys arrested - one with 13 bags of "a green herbal substance" in his car and another with two similar bags and five (rather-difficult-to-explain-but-not-actually-illegal) coffee grinders in his house...in response police have "stepped up patrols in the area" (to everyone's great relief) - stoners (of course) being renowned for the trouble they cause eating everyones cheese, listening to the Ozric Tentacles and falling asleep) - the nosy swish of the curtain means we can stop camping out in front of our fridges and biscuit barrels... ;)

Seriously though, I wonder if anything similar to this will happen? It's actually a pretty big deterrent...

17 August, 2010

So cute...

I *was* going to talk about Neighbourhood watch today (might save that for tomorrow) but Thomas did something really sweet this morning (even though he was very tired indeed), he had followed me into the kitchen (where I was making my morning drink) and got distracted (as usual) by all the colourful 'fridge magnets that we have coating the door of the dishwasher, he pulled off his favorite one (a blue VW camper) and after giving it a thoughful chew he took it out of his mouth, looked up to me and matter-of-factly announced "Damber Dan"... ;)

16 August, 2010

Thomas at twelve months...

To coincide with Thomas reaching one year old, Surrey Community Health sent us out a little leaflet (Expected Range of Development for Children aged 1 Year of Age), listing all the things that the little one should be able to do by the time they are one (and, thankfully, it makes satisfying reading)... :)

Gross Motor skills - baby should be able to roll over (both ways), sit unsupported (it's amazing to think there was a time when we needed to prop him up with cushions or he would topple over), able to crawl (he was doing that 3 months ago), weight bearing with heels down (oddly, just over the weekend he seems to have stopped doing that, now preferring to walk on tippy toes, but he definitely *can* do it if he wants), pull self to standing and walk around furniture (both of those we checked off at ten months old) and standing alone (which he has only managed to do with any great success in the last week - his best being about eight seconds, yesterday)...

Vision and fine motor skills Thomas should be able to pincer grip (thumb and forefinger) to pick up small objects (his careful ability to pick up single raisins and maneuver them into his mouth impresses me every time I see it) and follow and watch for dropped objects (I'm still amused now about how upset he got when I removed his nectarine one morning, just for a second to put on his bib (which I had forgotten and he was getting in a mess), he didn't see I had popped it safely on the table and was absolutely *convinced* it has fallen on the floor, he was straining at his straps so desperately was he looking around the floor for where it might have gone, if he hadn't been restrained I'm convinced he would have flung himself down to find it...and such pitiful pleas for help...the big smile when I then produced it, magically, from behind his head was heart-melting), but yep, got all of those abilities nailed...

Hearing and Communication - by now baby should be able to point to objects -
Bug Jam 24
- (yep check)...clap and wave hands (his waving has always been excellent, he will (usually) wave when asked to, hand-clapping (albeit silent) is enthusiastically joined in with during songs, good eye contact (yep, that and posing cutely for the camera) -
Thomas at Maria's Birthday Party
- syllable babble (yep, including assigning them to people/objects, we had that going on at ten months), make a range of sounds (yep, starting with the raspberry when he was seven months old and more recently copying the Vuvuzela and mimicking animal sounds) -

- comprehension of some words (just off the top of my head, I know he knows drink (he can now ask for a "dink" and make a swallowing noise when he is thirsty), duck (first word), car (current favorite word), Sophie (one of his toys), up (he responds by holding up his arms ready to be picked up), no (although whether he responds or not is another matter, but he definitely knows what it means), come here, horse (responds with clip-clop noise), balloon, mummy, daddy, dog, ball, cat...oh and "take it out" (if he's eating something nasty)...there are loads more, but these are the commonly used ones) oh and of course he is very familiar with his own name (and responds to it)...

Diet and Health - feed self with fingers and spoon (he prefers the finger approach, but will hungrily grab the spoon given the opportunity and get *most* of it in his mouth), eat a varied and balanced diet (there is *nothing* he won't *enthusiastically* eat...well, that we have discovered, anyway), able to tolerate lumpy family foods (while I cut his food up a *bit* smaller than mine, I only do it so he isn't chewing each mouthful for ten minutes, he can even cleverly work his way around stones and cores in fruit, discarding them off the side of the high chair when he is done), use a free flowing beaker (he had that nailed months ago, helping himself to it from the table when he fancies a drink), have 500ml of cows milk a day (he drinks a pint a day, taken at mealtimes - as we don't want milk all going sour in the carpet/sofa), has sustainable bedtime routine and sleeps through the night (he was doing that at three months old and, apart from the odd blip, continues to do so), sleeps in his own cot (he was doing that from two months old), lets an adult brush his teeth twice a day (well, he's much happier doing it himself, but he does submit, eventually) and keep up to date with his jabs (yes, poor little thing)...

So, even though he's lagging a *bit* with the standing unsupported (it's much easier and quicker to crawl than toddle) that's definitely a resounding success...

Well done my clever little boy... ;)

12 August, 2010

Easy First Birthday Food

Here we go, the spread we did for Thomas' family birthday party-
Thomas' Birthday Party
- join me, if you wish, to go into more detail about some of the treats we made -
Sausage Aeroplanes
Sausage Aeroplanes - take Porky Whites Surrey sausages (the best British sausage) and fry them in a little oil at a medium temperature, turning occasionally for around fifteen minutes, allow them to cool, then slice in half (length ways) to form the body of the plane, next, take some cracker bread and, using an extremely sharp (non-bevelled) blade, slice them in half (also length ways) to form the wings, now slice a small triangle of cheddar to form the tail fin and open a packet of Hula Hoops, removing two that are reasonably circular...the last thing to do is to open the "glue", which is a tube of primula (or similar)...start with one piece of cracker bread and use two little blobs of primula to attach the Hula Hoop "wheels" then just lay the sausage onto it (this stops it falling over), squirt a spot of cheesy glue onto the top of the sausage and pop the top wing into place (hold it for a second) and then do the same with the tail, preferably serve right away, if not chill the planes to set the "glue" or a few bits may fall off...
Bagel Snakes
Bagel Snakes - Hard boil a dozen large eggs (start with a pan of cold water, add a little salt, pop in the eggs, then bring to the boil and cook for seven minutes), allow them to cool, remove the shells (roll them on a chopping board, bash the rounder end where the air pocket is, nip the membrane and then peel the shell off in one go working in a circular fashion), roughly chop them and add a small jar of mayonnaise (mayonnaise has a high PH and acts as a very good preservative, contrary to what you may have heard) and a good grind of cracked black pepper. Slice the bagels in half (into two rounds) and then chop these in half to make semi-circles, then arrange them into snake shapes, smearing them with a generous amount of egg mayonnaise, then decorate with chopped chives, olive or baby tomato eyes and thinly sliced red pepper tongues...
Egg Mushrooms - Cook up some *more* hard boiled eggs (same method as above) then when cool, carefully slice off the top and bottom, then half some large, ripe English tomatoes and balance them atop the eggs, using Primula to decorate them with spots, slice some cress to make "grass" to decorate the plate you present them on...
Cheese and Pineapple Monster
Cheese and Pineapple Monster - this one is really easy, everyone knows how to make cheese and pineapple on sticks (pro-tip though, get the cheese out and bring it up to room temperature first, especially if it is Cheddar, this reduces the crumble factor when inserting the cocktail stick), for the monster's body, just carve a mouth out with your sharp knife, then take a slice of Gouda or plastic American cheese, make a small slice and cut "teeth" from it and arrange in the mouth, tomato eyes can be attached with more cocktail sticks...
Thomas' Birthday Party
Sea Monster Rolls - Just normal submarine rolls, I happened to fill these with tomato, mozzarella, shredded basil, ham and a drizzle of olive oil, then I inserted bulbous eyes from mini cheese biscuits, and slicing a hole in the back and sides, cucumber fins...
Train Cake
Birthday Train - this was extremely simple, no cooking involved, just buy a couple of chocolate Swiss rolls, a load of sweets (for decorating) for glue use a mixture of icing sugar, cocoa powder and a little water, a bag of dessicated coconut, a little water and some green food colouring for the grass, Jammy Dodgers and Rollo's for wheels, Matchmakers for the rails and chocolate fingers for the sleepers! Then just go crazy, in a good creative way, only took us about 10 minutes and looked really good... ;)

Hope that has provided some inspiration! ;)

11 August, 2010

Godstone Farm review

Godstone farm
So to celebrate Thomas' birthday we decided to take him to Godstone Farm (which is only about 15 minutes from our front door - not entirely sure why we haven't been there before)! After a few kids got ill with e.Coli last summer (oh yeah, that's probably why) the whole place is covered in signs like this one -
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- warning that hand gels aren't much use compared with good old fashioned soap and water...so, forewarned, we passed through the entrance gate (Thomas absolutely fast asleep after his large breakfast at Redhill Aerodrome) and scratched our heads...I mean, doing the farm was going to be amusing enough for us, but frankly the thought of having to do it all over again when Thomas woke up did give us pause, so instead of walking around we went to one of the (quite expensive) cafes, the "Tea Room" and sat down for a drink, had a little poke around the shop, that sort of thing...when he did finally stir (didn't actually take that long) he absolutely *loved* it...we started off taking a little walk around the small animals-
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- ducks, rabbits (that sort of thing), then around the Guinea pig village and small bird area -
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- then the mouse house (which Flyingpops wouldn't go anywhere near) and little hens (which Thomas found fascinating) -
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- checked out the bigger kids play barn -
Godstone farm
- and the soft play barn (and second cafe) -
Godstone farm
-saw some (very sleepy) baby piglets-
Godstone farm
-and then went to the petting area to meet some horses, ponies and (more) rabbits-
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- and after touching we made sure we washed our hands (Thomas included) -
Godstone farm
Next up we went on the little tractor ride (which was 90p extra each)-
Godstone farm
-which takes you out around the back of the farm past one of the ponds (and lots more pigs and ducks and things in larger enclosures)-
Godstone farm
- and then we walked up the hill past the "Bomb Pond" excavated in a matter of seconds during World War 2 (and now home to lots of wildlife)-
Godstone farm
- we had to skip the nature trail as it wasn't suitable for buggies, so we headed straight to the (enormous) adventure playground-
Godstone farm
- which has probably the largest sand pit in the world -
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- I can definitely see us coming here and eating a picnic, reading our books while Thomas just runs riot (in years to come), not that he doesn't run riot now, of course, but when he's old enough to look after himself...anyway, he had a go on everything Thomas-sized-
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- then we found a quiet place to sit and eat our lunch (cheese and pickle rolls)-
Godstone farm
- went and did the Toddler bit of the soft play-
Godstone farm
- and finished off our day in the arts and crafts shed doing a bit of painting-
Godstone farm
Godstone farm
- a brilliant day, absolutely loads to see and do, I suppose we were there for about five hours but there was absolutely no chance of getting bored, a genuinely fun day out for all of us...we'll be back!

Loads more pictures from our visit here...

10 August, 2010

Thomas' First Birthday

Thomas' first birthday!
Thomas' first birthday!
Here we go, just a couple of quick pictures from Thomas opening his presents, including the *extremely* popular bubble machine-
Thomas' First Birthday!
- and his click clack caterpillar (which was bought by some of our neighbors)-
Thomas' First Birthday!
- which Daddy had to assemble (much to Thomas' frustration as it looked very exciting and took Daddy rather a long time to work out)-
Thomas' First Birthday!
- and here he is with all his spoils (told you it would be a lot)...!

Most of his other presents arrived at the family party on Sunday...I'll post some pictures from his day out at Godstone farm when I get a second and get on to his party next, but suffice it to say everything went perfectly... ;)

Mmmm...nice...


...thank goodness we had good weather for Thomas' birthday!