Archive for the ‘baby’ Category

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

Another Narrowboat

August 7, 2019

We came half way around the world and who should we meet up with? None other than one of Alex’s school friends, Kaz, from Oamaru. We’ve met up with her in London before notably Christmas Day 2017, but this time we were visiting her at her place which just happens to be on a narrowboat, right here in Central London. She is residing on board a narrowboat for the summer which is moored on the canal just behind Regents Park.

But first we had to get there. Our travel plans were complicated by two major events taking place, first a major bike race around central London which closed several roads as well as disrupting travel options. Secondly, there were planned major repair work going on on many central train lines which also disrupted travel. We drove to Barnehurst to catch the train to Victoria Station, then we would catch a bus down Edgeware Road to get off near the canal.

The general route

And here’s where we are heading.

At Victoria , we stepped out into theatre land.

Wicked show

Award winning show Hamilton

No shows for us today though, instead it was onto the bus towards Regents Park.

Kaz met us at the bus stop and we walked the short distance to the boat. Of course as is my usual manner I forgot to take any pictures of the boat or us inside it but we did take a picture or two of looking down onto the boats lined up.

The boat is on the left with the dark blue cratch cover

The canal itself is very full of weed and algae with very little water movement however it did not detract from our enjoyment.

We spent a lovely afternoon checking out the boat, interesting for us as this was a very different layout to NB Waka Huia and also very different finishes. The afternoon was spent talking and catching up with Kaz and what’s happening with her life in London, she will be leaving her abode on the canal soon as the owners will be returning to the boat she is on but she is seriously looking at another “boat sitting” stint or perhaps even purchasing a boat to live on. We shall see what eventuates.

Time to retrace our steps

Callum’s first bus trip

Along Edgeware Road onto Park Lane we travelled

Past the very upmarket houses, hotels, shops and cars back to Victoria Station. Then reverse the train trip back to Barnehurst, pick up the car and then home.

Back home again where the fellows put together a play gym for Callum, it very much reminded me of the Christmas scene where the young child gets a train set and Dad and Grandad then spend the rest of the day playing putting it together.

No, this bit goes here….or perhaps we should read the instructions!!!

Callum testing out his new toy

Yep, I quite like this!!

Visitors

August 3, 2019

Last week we stayed with cousin Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes, once we had arrived back in Erith we were to have a visit from Jackie’s sister Dawn, whose son Richard just so happens to live just a few minutes away from Alex & Ian. Dawn was down visiting Richard so we arranged to meet up.

Dawn & Richard with Callum

Was that a wry smile?

Richard’s turn to play

Richard has a broken foot so he was hobbling a little with his leg in a cast, this is just a few months after he had surgery for ACL reconstruction, not the best for someone who plays football semi professionally.

We retreated to the garden for morning tea and talk.

Someone was relaxing

And talk we did, somehow time just disappeared and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon.

Time to say hooray

Cousins

The oldies with the young ones!

Bernice, Dawn, Alex with Callum and Richard

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet up again.

A week in Erith

July 22, 2019

We returned to Alex, Ian and Callum in Erith settling in for a quiet week. There’s always bits to be done in the garden as well as the usual cooking, washing, cleaning, and cuddling Callum of course.

Callum asleep practicing his meditation hand gestures!!

And of course it was a week to watch netball on the tele. Regular readers will know that we are huge netball fans with Alex and I attending three previous world champs and although Alex had tickets for us for this world championships, a certain wee man meant we made the choice to watch the games from the comfort of the couch with tickets instead going to netball friends.

It’s also been a week of doing a bit of baking and experimenting as Alex is off all dairy foods as they seem to upset Callum (just as they did for his mum). So it was out with the very old recipe for a chocolate cake that I used to make years ago, I think it’s based on a recipe from either the war rationing years or the depression years as it contains no butter or eggs. And what is even better is that it’s all mixed together in the cake pan so no washing up either. It is a very tender cake crumb as well and very moist too so everyone enjoys it. From there it was a look for some recipes online for vegan baking as they contain neither butter, milk or eggs, as we are not sure if Callum may also have an intolerance to eggs as well (again, just like his mum did). Some very successful cupcakes were made, made so much easier today with the proliferation of alternatives to dairy available in the shops. The baking was so successful that an afternoon of baking lessons were done by me with Ian’s mum Chris. She now has a few very easy and successful bakes under her belt which she can bake with her other grandchildren for a bit of fun.

Roy and Ian’s Dad Barry had a day out together for a visit to the Science Museum in London, for an exhibition called Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security. Expect a blog entry on this exhibition once I have nagged him into doing it!!!

Alex had a return to her first game of netball since falling pregnant so I went along as spectator and babysitter.

Callum cheering on Mum.

Later that day he helped cheer the Silver Ferns onto their semi final win over England.

Then of course we spent Sunday watching the semi finals and then the epic final. One of Alex’s friends came round to help us cheer on the kiwi girls, the blood pressure pills were taken, the location of the nearest defibrillator was established, and we settled down to cheer, yell, scream at the tv all the while getting messages from the girls hi were at the stadium watching. The England supporters became Kiwi supporters for the final and the noise was apparently deafening. I have to admit to tears being shed from sheer joy at the result, go girls, you are amazing athletes and ambassadors for the game, women and New Zealand in general. We hope you get to party hard.

Alex had placed a cheeky bet on the NZers winning the tournament well before the tournament started so she was especially happy with the result with a very nice return on her investment.

Winners!

Wetting the baby’s head

July 10, 2019

There is a tradition apparently of when a baby is born that the father and close male family and friends go out to ‘wet the baby’s head’. But where did that term ‘wetting the baby’s head’ come from?

Traditionally taking its name from the Christian baptismal rite, during which the head of a baby would be wet with blessed water, the phrase now commonly relates to the consumption of large amounts of alcohol as a celebration of the new arrival.  The true tradition meant that the Dad went out with his friends the night after the baby was born, I guess it’s some sort of male bonding or show of virility or something along those lines but in this case the celebration was a few weeks after Callum’s arrival.

The upshot of all this was that Roy and Ian headed out on Friday night to the William Campden Pub to meet up with Ian’s Dad, brothers and mates.

The happy celebrations

Eagled eyed readers will note an interloper, Ian’s Mum just so happened to be going past and popped in to say hi. Meanwhile Alex and I were at home with Callum, so what did we get up to? After a very simple dinner, Callum went to sleep and Alex and I followed suit shortly thereafter!

Apparently the blokes imbibed in some suitable liquid refreshments and spent a jovial evening together. Callum has had his head appropriately dampened, next will be registering his birth so all appropriate documentation is done. Next it will be time to get his passport so he can visit all his NZ family.

Showing off Mums new passport, won’t be long before he has his own.

A week of firsts

July 4, 2019

It’s been a week of firsts for Callum this past week, already we are seeing him change and grow and I’m sure he is already smiling and trying to talk…..but I am an unbiased grandma 😉. He was three weeks old yesterday and starting to be a bit of a character. He was well past his birth weight after the first week, he is a very long limbed young man which he obviously does not get from his grandma!

Summer has finally arrived so we set up the gazebo over the outdoor table on the lawn for some welcome shade from the English sun. Callum came out and just lay about on the table, happily sleeping most of the day away. I must add that it got up to 34C that afternoon so outside in the shade with a gentle breeze was the way to stay cool for all of us.

Just chillin’ laying about on the table in the garden

Sunday was family day out so we all walked down to the train station and caught the train into Greenwich.

First ride on a train

We were heading to Greenwich market, we’ve been here many times before but there is always something new to see, and taste, we were kept busy looking at all the various stalls, especially the food stalls outside.

Crowds at the market

After wandering around for some time we had a bite to eat, a pulled pork bun for me, traditional fish & chips for Alex & Ian, and Roy had to try a few raw oysters.

I do admit to buying a new scarf (after losing one on recent travels) and I may have bought some Pontefract Cakes (I was born in Pontefract, read about the cakes here) and a selection of lovely bone handled knives which we use as butter knives and pâté knives. I know, some of us have strange likes and our return luggage is going to be a very interesting and eclectic mix as I have purchased 6 toasters as well. These toasters are ones that go on the gas hob and I’ve been using since we found one in France in 2010. They do need replacing every few years but they are not expensive and work better than any of the other myriad of toasters on the market, and believe me when I say I’ve tried them all.

But back to the market adventure. We had all split up to go and look at different things. Later we all met up at the pub in the market for a well deserved drink. Another first, Callum’s first outing to a pub!

At the pub

Of course it was a no alcohol beer for mum whilst Callum slept through the whole outing before it was time to return home. The return journey on the train was uneventful but we were all felling pretty exhausted after our big day out.

The next day Alex tried out Callum in the sling, Ok, we admit it, we did YouTube it to get the instructions on how to tie it, although I must add that we went searching for a clip that included the use of a real baby rather than a doll!! Real babies wriggle and squirm so it was good to see it in real terms.

Doing the origami with the sling

and it worked surprisingly well, and very simple once you mastered the technique. Now why weren’t these around a few years ago when I needed one rather than trying to wrestle with a frontpack with buckles and clips. Yes, I know slings have been used extensively in some parts of the world for centuries, just not in my world.

Look Mum, no hands!

The sling has been tried and tested with a trip to the supermarket which proved very successful as Callum slept though the whole shopping experience.

He’s watched football and cricket and according to Ian he has to cheer for England in football/soccer but he’s allowed to cheer for the All Blacks in rugby. But of course he will definitely be a Silver Fern fan in netball!

Return to Erith

July 1, 2019

We returned the rental car in Selby, Yorkshire, where we stayed with Pauline & Pat again before catching the train back to London. however, once we got to the station we discovered that our train was cancelled but alternate arrangements were made I.e. another train to Leeds then another train from Leeds to Kings Cross. But why oh why is is always that you arrive on Platform 1 but your next train departs from platform 18 and you have 5 minutes to get there, oh and of course there are a zillion steps to go up and then down again. We made it though, just in time to settle into our seats and watch the countryside whizz past.

Leaving Leeds

Some famous stadium of some kind, Leeds!

Once on the train from Leeds we travelled though some familiar towns,including Doncaster and Wakefield, towns with strong family connections.

Wakefield, where two of my siblings were born

The weather was rubbish though.

English summer weather

Countryside and the weather improved

However, the weather did improve the further south we ventured. Once we arrived into Kings Cross it was a walk across the road to St Pancras to catch the next train to Abbey Wood station where Ian was waiting to pick us up.

It as lovely to be back again, and of course see Callum and get in some cuddles.

Although the following afternoon proved to be a bit much for Roy, Alex and Callum, where they were all caught napping!!

It’s all a bit much for these three

On the road/rail north

June 18, 2019

We had to drag ourselves away from Callum….oh, and Alex & Ian too, so that the new family could have some good quality time together. As Ian gets just two weeks paternity leave it was time to leave them on their own to find their feet. The day before we left, Ian’s parents Chris & Barry came to get in a few cuddles.

Nana and Grandad Denny

And it looks as though Callum is going to be a thumbsucker, just like his mum was and his dad too.

Callum

The following morning Ian took us to the train station at Abbey Wood, a bit further away from the local station in Erith as Abbey Wood has the direct train into Kings Cross Station where our next train heading to Yorkshire would be leaving from.

We were soon on the train heading north and even though the weather wasn’t exactly screaming summer, the skies reminded us of paintings by Constable over the farmland.

Oh and have we mentioned before how much we enjoy travelling by train??

We wizzed through many small towns, stopping at just a few larger cities including Doncaster, which was where my Grandpop lived.

Before long we pulled into Selby, our destination for the next couple of days to stay with my lovely cousin Pauline and her husband Pat. Those of you regular readers will remember that 18 months ago we met up with Pauline & Pat in Lanzarote where they were living. Since then they have moved back to the UK (bloody Brexit!).

We went out for a drink one evening before dinner where Pauline and I took up position in the Naughty Corner.

In the naughty corner

We mostly behaved ourselves, honestly, we did!!

This was at a lovely pub, which Roy tells me he is going to write an entry on the pub so you have that to look forward to.

We then took a short walk to a nice restaurant for a bite to eat, along the way we had to walk past Selby Abbey.

Selby Abbey

The Abbey celebrates its 950th anniversary this year. It is one of the few surviving Abbey churches of the Middle Ages. An Abbey is defined as a complex of buildings used by members of a religious order under the governance of an abbot or an abbess. It provides a place for religious activities, work, and housing of Christian monks and nuns. Many abbeys were self sufficient with monks and nuns having a multitude of skills from stone masonry to gardening.

We had a lovely meal before heading home for a nightcap – yes John, we’ve introduced Pauline & Pat to Pedro Ximinez😉.

Earlier in the day we had picked up a rental car as we are heading off on a bit of a road trip, not sure exactly where as yet but northern Wales looks like a good contender. I am the driver for this part of our trip around so I will be avoiding all large cities and metropolitan areas as much as possible. We will be returning he car to Selby and staying with Pauline & Pat before training back to London.

D Day

June 6, 2019

Today is the 6th June, 75 years since the D Day landings on the Normandy beaches and both here in the UK and in France, commemorations are taking place with people from all over the Commonwealth and USA (including the orange blimp) are attending.

Here in Erith, it’s D Day plus 5.

What will be, will be.

Meanwhile, we are still keeping ourselves busy in the garden. We have put in trellis on top of the back fence. One; for a bit more privacy and two; for the climbing plants to clamber along.

Regular readers will know that when we were here 18 months ago, Alex and Ian had the back garden landscaped which included removing a stand of very large conifers and having two terraces built.

Before and after the landscaping

Now with plants planted and the trellis work up plus a small wooden fence around the top level hiding the raised vegetable beds, it’s all coming together.

Two trellis panels in place

The completed work

it’s all looking rather good, so much so we had a BBQ the other day.

Alex and Ian inspecting the BBQ

We have planted up the veggie raised planter boxes but then realised we needed to protect the seeds and plants from birds having a nice time eating all the seeds and the foxes digging up our hard work. So at the moment we do have bird netting in place but I am about to make cloches to cover the planters. However I am just awaiting for some supplies to be delivered so I can make a good job of them, otherwise I may get fired!!

Planters

The new addition

June 1, 2019

We have a new addition to the family, he’s named Lawrence.

He was born this week and is growing nicely…

Lawrence, the sourdough starter

Yes, Lawrence is a sourdough starter that I’ve got on the go. We named him Lawrence because with his covering he looks a bit like Lawrence of Arabia, well if you squint a bit he does!

We have struggled to find a decent loaf of bread here, even the so called sourdough from Borough Market didn’t come up to scratch so I decided to start a bug and make it myself.

I make sourdough bread in the RV regularly and have a good bug growing that I’ve carried around with us for the past 8 years. He’s in hibernation mode at the moment though ready for our return. I usually make bread once or twice a week in the motorhome and we really enjoy it so why not make it here in the UK as well.

Oh, were some of you thinking that we were announcing the arrival of baby Denny? Well, it’s gone from this

To this

Yes, it’s due day today but so far it looks as though it’s quite comfortable where it is, hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer as we are all very keen to meet this baby.