Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leaping Cachers

We had to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime....oh, sorry, I meant 'once every 4 year' opportunity and get ourselves a February 29th geocache.

It hadn't originally occurred to me how interesting a day this was until I spotted one of the geocaching groups on Facebook starting a thread about leap day cache finds. I said to hubby "come on, we have to go out and find a cache". Fortunately he is always up for a wander around woods. No, not like that you naughty lot!

We headed up to an area called Bisley in Surrey and aimed (pardon the pun) for a cache near to the rifle range there. A quick spot by the name of the cache before my GPS had even loaded up and the leap day cache was in hand.

We thought it would be interesting to walk to another one about 750m away but it turned out that once we reached the end of the footpath, it circled back on itself as the firing range had most inconveniently set itself between us and the cache. Much fun was had on the back circuit as the path suddenly seemed to vanish and pushing a 3 wheel buggy over branches and down dips isn't always fun I can tell you. You remember how Jeremy Clarkson nearly rolled that reliant robin? I'll say no more. Mind you, we saw this great hole in a very large tree and wondered what could live in there as it looked quite scratched out.

As we've had rotten colds, we decided to go and get a quick multi nearby too just to give us a bit of time out as we've felt a bit house-bound of late.

Off we headed to Bisley Village Green to gather the clues and then went off to find the cache. Unfortunately the walk was a little bit more than the 3 year old wanted to do and the location seemed to be at the back of a private houses tennis courts (they are posh in Bisley you know), so we decided to head back to the car as it was near dinner time for the girls. We'll check on Google Earth and see where the footpath to the cache actually runs before heading out to get it at the weekend.

It was fantastic to see the crocus' in bloom (as you can just make out from the picture at the top) and daffodils coming out. As we've all had colds, it was nice to grab some fresh air and a walk too, although I think myself and the 1 year old are suffering tonight from the exercise as we both have annoying coughs.

What fun to have the 2012 souvenier badge on my cache page :) Did you get a cache today?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Saying goodbye to my sister - no, she's not dead!

The old saying "you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family" really couldn't be more appropriate than right now.

My eldest sister is 62 (a few months off 63 actually) but you'd honestly believe she was about 14 and a school ground bully at times.

In the last...gosh, I don't know, 10+ years, I've found it increasingly difficult to talk to her. Everything I say is wrong, everything I do is wrong and she's all doom and gloom. She's retired, has a good standard of living with her husband and a nice house but I can only assume she is unhappy. Desperately unhappy. Why? Well, she slates everything else. That even includes her neices and my husband.

I have put up with a lot. Yes, I do mean a lot. Too much in fact. We've had our rows admittedly and I've slammed the phone down on her more than once as she's wound me up so much.

However, last week she really put the icing on the cake. Not only did she ice it, she did it with the thickest butter icing you can get. Yep, that bad!

She managed to phone our neice - although she likes to introduce her as a 'friend of the family ' - go figure - and reduce her to tears. What could this be about you ask? Well, it's about both my neice and I not going to her husband's 80th birthday lunch. It's not that we're mean and don't like him (although my sister said I was "mean and nasty" followed by "she is evil" in a text to said neice - no, I did say she as almost 63 not 16 - but it's because she hasn't invited our children. I take that back, she invited my eldest but not the two youngest. I therefore, on behalf of my husband and I, declined the invitation and said have a nice party. This resulted in a call to my neice last week having a go at her, saying we'd never be invited to any other event again, ever (see how devastated I am...yeah, right) and she'd have it out with me. Yes, of course she will, not!

So, I thought long and hard this weekend about her, the things she says (such as not liking my husband, accusing people of being drunks, saying to me she wasn't sure if she liked our new baby girl as she didn't know her yet, slating our girls Naming Days, etc, etc) and decided that if she was a friend, well, she wouldn't have been from a long time ago, so why am I putting up with her behaviour just because she's my sister? If my 13 year old had the sort of text she has been sending, I'd tell her sharp-ish to dump the 'so-called friend'. So, decision made. I will not put up with her behaviour and I will put an end to it.

I considered telephoning her but decided it would become too aggressive very quickly, text is no good, so I finally wrote a letter. It became quite long diatribe I'm afraid so I cut it right down, put a few points in and then told her very clearly not to contact me, no presents for the children or I'd simply return them and not welcome here ever again.

Do you know, I feel so relieved. No more answering the phone and my heart sinking when it's her voice, no more having to be pleasant when I don't want to, no more not telling her things and being guarded when I'm talking as she'll find fault, just no more nonsense.

It's liberating.

I have a great circle of very good friends, my husbands family are smashing and my older (youngest) - did you follow that? - sister is brilliant. I have 3 beautiful daughters. I'm a lucky lady and from now on, only good things and people will surround me. About time huh?! :)

Friday, 24 February 2012

Sunshine makes you feel happy

Yesterday was, actually, a very good day. Surprising as the start to it was a little bit tense due to a meeting I had, but after that 2 hour stresser, it turned out to be absolutely fab(ulous).

The sun shone and we decided to make the most of it. Our 3 year old wanted to go to the "curly slide" which is a playground a few miles from here with, unsurprisingly, a curly slide! We bundled the girls into the car and set off. Having had some fun at the playground, we decided to go and get ourselves a geocache I had spotted en-route.

We parked up in another new area and headed off towards the little green marker on my phone. Of course, we did this in the 'as the crow flies' style and ended up walking through quite a lot of mud on a bridleway. Perhaps I should have changed into my wellies after all. Never mind. The sun was out and the air was fresh. The motorway noise was deafening. We were, after all, retrieving a cache on a bridge over the M3. We get to see all the nicest places ;-)

Cache in hand we decided to wander back on a nice, non-muddy path back to the car. Shame this particular area was mostly puzzle caches as I really couldn't be bothered to work any of them out. Lazy I know.

We got home and went straight out into the garden. 3 year old did some trampolining and then rode her little trike around whilst 1 year old toddled about picking up leaves and handing them to us. We even got a couple of chairs out, although the sun was too low in the sky to hit our back garden. We ended up at the front of the house sorting a few bits and bobs out with the girls playing in the sunshine (yep, it was bright and warm that side).

Overall, a smashing day. Doesn't it make you feel so much more alive and happy when the sun shines?

That's it then, no more winter please, I want to go straight into summer now!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancakes. Children love them....NOT!

Oh dear. There was I thinking "It's pancake day so I'd best make some". I didn't want my 3 year old to emerge from nursery telling me all about it and be desperate to eat a pancake. So, being the new super mum (slightly more super ted at times admittedly), I knocked a batch up for our lunchtime dessert.

"We're having pancakes for pudding" I cheerfully announced, to be met with a groan from the 3 year old and the phrase "I don't like pancakes". She'd never tried them! I was determined she would try and love them - like I do :)

So, off I go to the kitchen only to remember that I threw out the bottle of lemon juice I found at the back of the fridge about 3 months ago. It had kind of separated and, I'm sure, expired. Oh well, I was a woman on a mission so a small set back of no lemon was not going to stop me. I found a tin of peach slices and some ice cream. Yum!

Pancakes make, filled and served. I tuck in. 3 year old stares at hers and asks for her ice cream to be put into a cornet. I say fine, providing she try a tiny bit of pancake. Of course, I am convinced she will love it and demand more. I'm right aren't I!? No. I'm so incredibly wrong. She puts it into her mouth and cries. Is it too hot? Oh no, what could be the problem. "It's horrible" she says and spits it into my outstretched palm. Great. Ice cream in a cone it is.

1 year old eats *everything* so, of course, she will love it. Not! She put it in her mouth, pulled a face like I'd given her a piece of old tyre to chew on and pulled it out in disgust. No, it was not rubbery, I was just looking for an unpleasant thing you'd put in your mouth. Could have been an old sock I suppose, but I digress.

I have found the one, single thing my children hate beyond everything else....Pancakes. Guess I'm eating alone tonight then as hubby isn't keen either.

Mind you, even I prefer crepes but I'm stuck with a ladel and a wok so you work with what you're given ;-)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

3 cars in 3 days - you have to be kidding right?

As you may have guessed from the title, things have been a bit on the hectic side (understatement of the year here) with my vehicles. Stressed didn't cover it!

I decided to sell my Nissan Qashqai (isn't she pretty?) whilst it still had some value in it. Having had the SAAB convertible that I bought for a small fortune brand new and seeing it be worth almost nothing after 7 years, I decided to put a few pennies in my back pocket this time. Seemed sensible.

The dealer that I bought the Qashqai from had no qualms in buying it back off me. Yes, I'd probably have made £300-500 more selling privately but the thought of advertising on AutoTrader, the tyre kickers, the nuisance calls from other companies wishing to advertise my car and the time wasters really put me off. I'd rather have a cheque now and know it's done. That was the easy part.

I decided to look around for a 'new' car (not brand new you understand) before selling the Qashqai and despite looking at some serious rubbish - what do some people do in their cars??? - I found a lovely, older Volvo S60 2.4T SE (right) which seemed absolutely perfect! Nice bodywork, leather seats, all the bells and whistles and fast. What more could a girl ask for? I bought it on the spot! At the test drive, an engine management light came on. No problem said the dealer and we whizzed it straight to the garage next door to him as we came back and they diagnosed a faulty coil. It would be replaced before I picked the car up. Spot on. He would also get me 6 months Road Tax put on on his cover note which saved me some hassle. Great.

So, on the Saturday, off I went to drop the Qashqai off and pick up my new speedy motor. I was so pleased with it. I popped £45 of petrol in and headed home. As I drove up the road a light came on. "Low Oil Pressure - stop safely". Oh dear. I thought I had about 4 miles to home so I gently went on. The light changed "No Oil Pressure - Stop Engine". I pulled into the garage and got some oil and looked under the bonnet. Dipstick said there was lovely clean oil in the engine. I got back in the car and started it. Light gone. Ah, must be a minor electrical fault then. I drove home and showed hubby (no, he'd not seen it yet). He gave it a wash down for me (it was a bit dirty from the snow) and we decided to pop the girls in and have a trip to his folks to show them the new motor. Off we went.

We trundled down the small dual carriageway and headed into the very tiny slip road by a large roundabout which everyone gets to very quickly indeed. The light came on and I turned to my hubby and just said "That light's b..." and the car stopped. Dead. Nothing. Couldn't start it. Stuck in slip road with traffic racing towards us and 2 little children in the back. I jumped out and flagged people that I'd broken down as you could hardly see the hazard lights! I hopped back in, hubby went to the back and managed to push me around the corner so I could just get up onto the curb just out of danger. AA phoned - priority so will be with us in 1 hour. Dealer phoned (very apologetic, let him know what AA said). We waited. It was very cold. AA phoned after 45 minutes (youngest was crying at this point) and said they had handed the job off to a local garage who would be with us in 75 minutes. What?! We were freezing and two young children in the back. I was not amused. Father-in-law headed over and picked up hubby and the girls and I stayed with the car. He came back so I could sit in the warm. After a total of 1 3/4 hours, the garage turned up. He tried to jump the car with a battery pack. Nothing. He plugged it in to his truck and let it charge for 15 minutes then tried. Still nothing. He decided to lift the car to my in-laws for me. He put it on the back and called in. The control told him to not take it and just drop me somewhere safe and leave me for the AA. I was beginning to rant at the guy on the loudspeaker. It ended up with the driver saying that he had the car on and it was less then 5 miles to the drop. The controller said "Oh, just do what you want" and hung up. Nice to know that he would have been happy for me to be dumped at a roadside in the freezing cold. Wish I knew his name!

Anyway, dropped at inlaws and borrowed their car for the weekend. It had been a very long day. Phoned dealer and he was coming over Monday to try and sort it. He offered me my money back. On Sunday I called him and accepted. I collected the money Monday morning but guess what? He couldn't refund my Road Tax as it would mean waiting for me to get the new owner V5 and cashing it in then and that's another owner on the car which he didn't want. Did he compensate me for that or the £45 petrol for my 5 mile journey? Did he f**k! I am furious with him but just wanted the main money back. I'll deal with him shortly...

I went out Monday and got myself another new car. A SAAB 9-5 (isn't it lovely). It even had tax on it so no worrying about another pay out. Drove it home happy as pie.

Tuesday we went out for a drive and to a playground a little way from our house with the girls. Got some petrol on the way home and guess what? An engine management light came on! I took the car (after dropping off hubby and girls) to the garage to get it checked. The ignition cartridge had failed and it was going to be £315! I called the dealer and the warranty company that I'd got with the car. The warranty company wouldn't pay out because they've not received their fee! WTF? I was astounded. Shouldn't warranty start the minute I sign the papers, not when the cheques reached them in the post! Anyway, the dealer agreed to pay it (I paid first, and he gave me a cheque). It was that or risk the Cat being damaged and a bill of £1100-1200!

I collected the cheque the following day and put it straight into the bank. Fortunately we have the same bank and it cleared instantly. I was pleased about this as I was worried that his partner, who was on holiday, would get back this weekend and stop the cheque as it turns out that my new SAAB was one of his partners cars. Hey-ho. Not my problem now. SAAB is booked in to main dealer for a service next week - just in case!

So, as you can see, it's been a frantic weekend of cars. Quite frankly I never want to see another engine management light in my life! Let's hope this car now keeps on running just fine :)