Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Opening Ceremony

Tonight I am proud to be British. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the events leading up to the Olympics, I have looked forward to the Olympic Games being hosted in my country and I am really looking forward to the next two weeks. The Opening Ceremony was magnificent, very colourful, vibrant and patriotic. It was steeped in history. Watching our team come into the stadium was amazing!
The big question had been who would light the Olympic flame and I don't think anyone would have ever guessed! It was a team of  7 young athletes nominated by past Olympians. They each lit a single tiny flame on the ground, igniting 204 petals, one for each competing nation or territory. These petals then all came together to form the cauldron. Beautiful.
Here are a few pics from the Daily Mail website.

It all started at 20:12 with a Red Arrows flyover.

Bradley Wiggins (who has just become the first British winner of the Tour de France) marked the beginning of the games by ringing the huge bell!

 Rowan Atkinson was very funny and was one of the highlights for me!

Yay!!! Go Team GB!!!

David Beckham driving the speed boat!

Steve Redgrave ran with the torch into the stadium.

Well, seeing as I've stayed up until almost 2:00am to write this blog post I suppose I'd better find my way to bed!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Jubilee Cross Stitch

You may remember me saying at the beginning of the month about a stitching project I was excited about. Well yesterday my kit arrived and I can now tell you the story, a story I am absolutely delighted about.
I was looking for a cross stitch to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I want to stitch a piece for our family to memorise the very special event. I googled and found this kit by Bothy Threads.

I liked it but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I did however stumble across an illustration on a blog header from one of Bothy Thread designers, June Armstrong.

I loved it and it was perfect for what I wanted, there was just one slight problem, it's an illustration, not a cross stitch! So I decided to ask the question, I contacted both June Armstrong and Bothy Threads to see if it could be made into a cross stitch design. As it was just after the Jubilee that I found the illustration and made contact, Kate at Bothy Threads wondered if maybe they would just miss the market but decided to give it a go. She has designed it as a birth sampler for babies born in the Jubilee year, a brilliant idea! For me she has specifically created it as the illustration with the writing at the top of he design. So as you can imagine I am very grateful and can't wait to start it. We are going on holiday tomorrow to Thirsk so I am taking it with me. Here it is as a cross stitch design..........soooooooo exciting!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Olympic Rings

The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle currently has some Olympic rings suspended on it! The rings span 25 metres across the bridge and are the largest set of Olympics rings in the country! There are many sets of rings across the UK and I first saw the ones on Tower Bridge on television when they were unveiled. Mark then said there were some in Newcastle too. His cousin (and Courtney's God-Father) lived over there so we were hoping to visit whilst on holiday in Thirsk next week. Unfortunately that wasn't to be as we knew Philip was poorly and sadly he passed away, we ended up going to Newcastle to attend his funeral on Friday.
Mark's parents, Sylvia and Hughie stayed with Charlie and Courtney in the hotel the night before whilst Mark and I drove to see the rings. I was quite disappointed to find they weren't lit up, I was rather hoping to achieve a photo something like this (found on the Telegraph website).....

but mine are more like this.....

and a closer one to see the rings.....

Doesn't have quite the same vibrancy, does it but I'm pleased we went to see them. One photo I am quite pleased with is this one of the Millennium Bridge.

But then when it comes to stunning photography this image compares to none other. It was taken by Ken Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Charlie's Reception Year

So tomorrow marks the end of Charlie's first year in school. He finishes at midday and has 6 weeks school holiday until he returns as a Year 1 in September (which, just to note, will be when Courtney becomes a 'red tabard' at Nursery making her a pre-schooler!)
Last Friday Charlie brought home his school report, we are extremely proud of him, he has achieved so much. He is obviously highly thought of in class and applies himself well. His strongest subject appears to be Maths, whenever he tells us of anything school orientated it quite often includes something Mathematical! Number lines being his favourite! I have scanned in his report which you are more than welcome to read. I wanted to include it in my post so I will always have a copy of it in case anything happens to the original.

One thing I really loved about his report is that he had an opportunity to comment too, in Reception this is done by forms of a worksheet. So cute!

Yesterday Charlie brought home his class photo, we ordered it a couple of weeks ago, I really like the panoramic format of it and how it incorporates the Jubilee year.

He also brought home his book bag full of the year's work, it's fantastic and we've really enjoyed looking through it. A couple of pieces I thought I'd share. The first is very cute and oh so innocent. When learning about the Queen, Charlie wrote 'she live in Buckingham Palace. The Queen has lots of bogs!!!!' Charlie sometimes gets his letters the wrong way around, he meant dogs, LOL!!!! Bless!

and the other piece, Charlie had to write his own much do I love this boy, he makes my heart melt!♥ Dear God, thank you for mummy, daddy and courtney.

Charlie has been very lucky with his first teachers, they have been so good. We learnt who his teacher will be next year and we are delighted. Although we haven't had a lot of contact with her this year she seems very nice and parents I have spoken to speak highly of her.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Photography Day

On Sunday I had a fun day to myself! I plead guilty, I own a DSLR ( Digital single-lens reflex camera,)  a Canon 500D and I've only ever used it in automatic! Believe me, I do achieve beautiful photos this way but I have always had the ambition to learn properly how to use my camera in manual mode. Kirsty Wiseman was offering day courses in our local area and I asked Mark if I could take part in one for my Birthday pressie. He agreed and I booked in on the Carlisle day. Unfortunately there were not enough numbers to run it but Kirsty relocated the course (on the same day) to her hometown of Wigan. I was delighted. In the end she actually ran the course from her home and I was the only pupil so I got one to one tuition! I have known Kirsty through scrapbooking for a number of years so I knew I was in for a lovely day. Poor Kirsty was feeling poorly on the day but welcomed me into her home and after having a cup of tea and natter we got started. Firstly I learnt about the basics of photography, putting the camera into AV mode, apertures, shutter speed priority, ISO, white balance etc. Thank goodness we made notes as we went along, I was suffering a little with information overload but Kirsty was very patient in explaining things until I understood them. We took photos of her angel figurine and put into practise the techniques Kirsty taught with varying degrees of success!

Kirsty's lovely hubby, Mark, made us a light lunch before we set out to her local park, The Three Sisters. When we arrived we couldn't resist a lolly from the ice cream van, LOL! Back to work, I learnt about focal points, I really liked this part of the lesson, it was interesting to learn how to focus on the part you want vivid and then compose your photo. Here's an example, in the first photo my face is in focus but my hand isn't. I didn't move but then Kirsty focused on my hand first and now my face is out of focus.

Next was composition, I learnt about the rule of thirds, symmetry and continuous images. Learning about the focal point in my photograph and where to position it in the image. In these following 2 examples I have focused on the gold crest of the bench and the lock in the fence. You can see how the rest of the image is blurred in the distance.

Lastly I learnt about portraits, to focus right in between the persons eyes (the centre of a face) and then recompose. I took Kirsty's photo first and I must admit for a first attempt I was very pleased with the result. Look how much Kirsty is in focus and the background is all blurred out, that is the ultimate of what I wanted to learn during the day!

Then Kirsty very kindly took a portrait of me!

I am delighted with my new knowledge, Kirsty was a wonderful teacher and I would definitely recommend one of her classes.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Police Car

Remember Charlie's party. I mentioned that the company had sadly disbanded. Mark decided to sell off his collection of cars. The police car was Charlie's absolute favourite, we worked out a price with him so now Charlie and Courtney are the proud owners of a police car! We've had it a couple of weeks and have been out on a few walks/drives around the block. We have also been up to school, the playground there is ideal and the church car park next door but one is handy for a whizz around! I can see many happy hours ahead, they get quite a bit of attention as they go along, lol!

What's in my bag?

I was inspired by Jen's post to create my own. I, like her, like to see how other people keep their bags and as I'm a real handbag person I thought I'd share mine!

I currently use a Kipling Fairfax, which is Blue Jean in colour. I wear jeans most of the time which it goes perfectly with. Kipling bags are so durable, I own a few, all for different purposes, a lighter over the shoulder one, an overnighter and a travel wallet to name a few! One thing I really like about the bags is that they all come with a monkey! The monkeys have names but unfortunately this particular monkey has been washed so many times it has washed (or worn) off! I also have a lovely bead keyring hanging off mine which was made by my friend Wez.

I have used this bag for years (and I mean years!) I think it's one of the best used Christmas presents Mark has ever given me! It washes really well and has kept my things perfectly secure and organised! That's one thing I do like in a bag, lots of pockets and organising bits! I'm currently looking for a perfect travel bag in preparation for our travels to New Zealand at the end of the year. I like to be able to fully investigate the bag before purchasing. I have looked on the Kipling website and have narrowed it down to 3 but would like to look at them first before I decide. Anyway, getting back to my handbag, this is basically how it is organised. (Click on pic to make it bigger) Everything I carry around has a home in my bag!

The lift up flap at the front is nice and neat

and all these things fit into it. (Just on the right side of the photo above you can just see the key cord, I keep a trolley coin on that but forgot to photograph it!)

 My diary and notebook live in the front pocket. I couldn't keep track of everything without my diary!!! I will at this point make a note about my diary too, I am a real creature of habit and have found this range of diary from Paperchase perfect so have used this style for many years now, goodness knows what I will do if they ever discontinue it!

In the main compartment I keep my purse and a hairbrush. (My keys also go in here when out and about) There is also a zip compartment where I keep a small bunch of keys, my mum's, Mark's parents and a spare flat key. You'll see later on that I have a wallet that matches the bag. I used to use a matching purse too but stumbled across this gorgeous purse in Monsoon a few weeks ago and fell in love.......

 ........I mean look at the interior! It's so pretty! The coin section has this fabric in too. (Purses are my other weakness!)

Here is the matching wallet which I keep loyalty cards, not so very much used cards and vouchers. The mini purse I got for Christmas last year and I keep 'seperate money' in there. By which I mean if I carry and of Mark's, Charlie or Courtney's. (I.E. not spendable by me, LOL)

And finally the side pockets, the bag has a shoulder strap but it gets in the way on it all the time but I keep it with me in case I ever need it. A typical example would be on a big shopping spree and I cannot manage to carry everything or where I'm on my own with both children and they want to hold my hands so the shoulder strap comes out and I put my bag across my body. Then there's tissues (a must!) lip balm and sewing kit (is this the point where I tell the embarrassing story of my work pants splitting, whilst at work, I tell you at that point I was very grateful I carry a sewing kit with me! LOL!) On the other side is my 'handbag camera.' I have a DSLR that is my main camera but it's too big to lug about and there's always that 'not to be missed moment' so I've carried a camera around with me for a while now. Sometimes I use this camera far more than my DSLR.

So there you have it a complete tour of my handbag!