Thursday, 31 March 2016

More vegetables

Yesterday the girls and I popped down to Longacres to pick up a couple of grobags and plant some more vegetables in the garden.  We had a good look around and bought 2 grobags, 4 'plastic' canes (no more splits and rotting), and 3 pots of peas (one of which turned out to be mange tout as I'd not read the label correctly *grin*).

Today we planted out the peas and took the mange tout plants out of the veg bed and put those in the grobags too.  A mix of new and old canes attached to the fence for them to grow up.  It's sitting on top of the 'bug barn' so I hope the creepy-crawlies appreciate it.

Of course, whilst we were over at Longacres, the girls spotted these cute little characters that they wanted to put in the flower beds and pots. How could I say no?


We're hoping to get some raspberry plants for our 2nd grobag as the girls want to have some fruit in the garden as well.  We've got strawberries in pots already but think raspberries would be a nice addition.  Haven't seen any around yet so will have to keep an eye out for plants.  

The veg bed is coming along nicely and it looks like everything has happily taken root so with luck we'll have a nice little crop this year.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Bassingbourn Blitz - a few more geocaches

Drove up to see our friends in Bassingbourn today. After a good catch up, we headed off out for some lunch at a local pub (and a bit more of a catch up) before we went off geocaching (and catching up some more).  We have done a few around this village before so spotted a little section we've yet to get so decided to walk off our lunch doing those.

First of the day was 10 Bassingbourn Blitz which was a quick find this time. I say 'this time' as we tried this last time we were caching here but seems the GPS was more accurate today and took us straight too it. Log full but squeezed our initials and date in.  We had to skip VS #158 as workmen had it cordoned off so no chance of a quick grab today.  9 Bassingbourn Blitz was next but we weren't sure which side of the stream it was on.  Eventually we settled on the far side from where we were and soon had it in hand.  A chap popped up out of nowhere (well, the allotments) and said "found it ok then?" to which we laughed and said we had.  He told us he'd tried a bit of geocaching. We didn't find out who he was as he was off on his way.  Guessing this must be a bit of a cut-through as it was dog poo city!  Glad we all had wellies on.

8 Bassingbourn Blitz was a nice spot by my friend's 7 year old (with a bit of 'look under that, can you spot anything that shouldn't be there?' from her).  It was soon in hand.  7 Bassingbourn Blitz managed to tangle me up in rose thorns and bramble. Owch!  6 Bassingbourn Blitz was a quick spot by my 5 year old before we had even reached it!  Well done - she gets another log on her own geocaching account.  I picked up a travel bug here to move along.  Guise Lane was another immediate spot by my 5 year old. She's really on form today.  That was it and back we went to our friends to let the girls have a bit more of a play before we headed home.

I'm pleased we've been out geocaching again for the 2nd time in almost as many days as I feel I'm right back into it again and looking forward to heading out this weekend with hubby once more too.  I'm up at 846 now.  Maybe I should aim to get my 1,000th geocache this year?

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Winkfield Geocaching

The rain had just started at home when we were ready to head off geocaching.  Not to worry, I'm sure the clouds were moving towards us.  Persuaded hubby and girls that it would brighten up.  We headed over to Winkfield and I was right - the weather was behind us at home and we drove into sunshine and blue skies. Clever mummy!  

Parked up by the first cache BDB No. 3, put on the wellies and raincoats and started looking around for it.  Had a few ideas but one seemed to be an actual post to stop people driving down this area and the 2nd, which seemed to match the clue, was unreachable due to the amount of rain that had fallen.  The field was now a bog/stream and too deep for our wellies.  Never mind, onwards and upwards.

One Iron was next but despite the name of it, GPS bouncing around a bit and we made more of a meal of this than we really should have.  Finally laid hands on it after hubby had searched the exact same place (well, I should know really. He often can't find something right on a shelf in front of him *grin*).  Yay, first cache in hand.

Walked down to Maidens Across the Border and decided to send hubby - Swiss army knife in hand - into the brambles. He made it so far before having to turn back.  I then spotted the cachers path a bit further along - oops!  In he went again and made the find under my great direction ("Have you looked under that bit?").  Teamwork see?

Bluebell Glade was next and GPS jumping around again.  Took on board the clue (well, the girls and I did. Hubby went on a path right through it which seemed well worn) and did a bit of searching around.  Suddenly the cry went up from our 5 year old to say she had it.  Clever girl. One for her own caching page.  Looks like it should be a lovely area when the bluebells are out in full.  A nice few around here for now though.

Hogoak Lane 4 was down quite a boggy bit of lane that it seems the local farmer/home owners had tipped a huge pile of broken flowerpots/tiles into.  I presume trying to level it out somewhat.  Much fun was had by the girls going into puddles.  Came to GZ and guessed where it may be. Pushed the two girls up the steep bank whilst I stayed there and let them have a look. Spotted quickly by our 7 year old who has the find logged against her geocaching account too. Well done.  A favourite for the cache too.


Hogoak Lane 5 was as far as we were walking down today.  Quick spot of the cache. Had to think for a moment what the clue meant and then the penny dropped. Great little cache. Another favourite point here.  Back we wandered heading towards the car. It had now begun to rain and was getting heavier.

Hogoak Lane 3 was next on the list and I think I spotted something from under my hood as we approached. Yes!  Found the retrieval stick, now for the cache.  A quick glance around and spotted it.  What fun!  JJEF does do some very inventive caches and we really appreciate them.  Carefully hooked the cache down and signed. Log a bit mouldy in appearance but perfectly signable.  Bit harder putting it back to make sure it was secure in it's place.  Replaced the retrieval device and off we went into a storm blowing up.  A definite favourite here!

I just realised (writing this at home) that we completely missed Hogoak Lane 2.  Must have been due to the pouring rain.  I had clearly hit the wrong cache icon as we were walking back more briskly to the car.

Hogoak Lane 1 was a lovely cache again and well designed.  Bit stiff to open and even with the retrieval device conveniently located within the container, it was a tricky find. Hubby was about to hand me his Swiss army pliers when I got the log out.  He popped them away in the rucksack again.  I signed the log then spent quite some time re-rolling it (trying to keep the rain off) to get it back in.  Replaced safely and off we went.  Another favourite here.

BDB No. 4 was the final one of the day.  Having looked in completely the wrong place first (and at risk of being told off by the house-owner), the GPS suddenly swung round and pointed to the opposite site.  Yay!  Cache found. However, that's not the challenge with some JJEF caches as we know.  Understood the clue but couldn't relate it to the numbers in any specific way that made sense. The rain was literally chucking down on us at this point, there was a clap of thunder and suddenly it was hail coming down in sheets. No time to dawdle today so had to put it back without opening it to sign.  So a found but not signed. Left a note on the cache page but not a 'found it' for me sadly.  Great idea though.

We now headed back to the car being pounded by the weather.  The hail was literally stinging our hands and battering us. My jeans between the top of my wellies and the bottom of my coat were drenched. Fortunately the girls had waterproof trousers on which I am seriously considering buying!  Got back to the car and got the girls in quickly, coats in the boot as they were soaked for all of us. Demisted the windows and off we went.  A great fun, if not rather eventful in terms of weather, caching time.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Merina Coil - a tale of continual migraines

Stop reading now if this is too much information...but I recently had my Merina Coil removed.  Why? Migraines.  Since December I have been suffering at least 1 migraine per week and since February, up to 3 per week.  3!  Can you just imagine how difficult it is to have any kind of life when your head feels like it's about to explode at any second?  Talk about getting me down.

Image: NHS
I have always had awful periods and just under 3 years ago I decided, having heard all the tales of joy from friends about the coil, to go for it.  It didn't quite work out to be the wonderful experience some of them were having.  For starters, it took almost 9 months for my periods to settle down. So what, you may say, but these weren't normal monthly cycle stuff - oh no, these were 15 days on, 3 days off, 20 days on, 1 day off, 10 days on 3 days get the drift right.  I went back to my doctor and said I was thinking about having it removed after 6 months.  He suggested I give it a few more months to see if it settles. I decided to take that advice and persevered.  It finally settled down after 9 months and then my periods became almost non-existent (although not totally so as some of my friends had found).  

Last June I had a period then nothing until December 2015.  Then it all went really wrong.  Period after period ensued.  I felt drained and the headaches were getting worse and worse, until full-blown migraines were happening.  The migraines always preceeded my period. They were clearly hormonal.

Image: NHS
Last month I went to the doctors about my migraines as the Migraleve I was taking wasn't even touching the sides.  I was literally living on them for 2 or 3 days at a time and I'd begun to ignore the 'only take 2 pink followed by yellows' as, quite frankly, the yellows were as effective as putting a plaster on a broken leg!  My doctor prescribed Imigran for me.  A couple of days later another migraine hit and I took the Imigran.  Result!  Within an hour of it starting, it was almost gone. I was also keeping a 'migraine diary' and had a blood test for the menopause (no sign of it) and as my blood pressure had been a bit high when he took it (white coat syndrome?), I had to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours. Trust me, that was no fun.  The bloody thing went off every 30 minutes during the day (day ending at 11pm and starting again at 8am) and every hour during the night. It cut my circulation off every time it pumped up (not ideal for driving may I say) and I hardly slept.  Suffice to say my measurements were 'borderline' so I need to do that again in a few weeks time. I'm not totally surprised by the borderline results!

So, Imigan in place and diary being kept, it seemed like we'd have this under control for a while at least.  No chance.

Image: The Booklyn Reader
A couple of weeks ago I went to have the coil removed at the doctors surgery. The 'strings' had gone - quite common I subsequently find out.  They couldn't get it out so the doctor said he'd write to gynae at the local hospital to get it removed.  That week I'd had 3 migraines, each followed by a period.  Crazy right?  I hoped the hospital would respond quickly.  The 3rd Migraine that week, the Imigran didn't work. I took 3 of them and then realised I could take no more than 6 in any 24 hour period. I phoned the doctor. He prescribed Codeine for me plus anti-sickness pills as I was feeling ill now with the migraine. It took 5 Imigran and 8 Codeine to stop the pain.  This was not good. I called him after the weekend and he marked the letter to gynae as 'urgent' and also called the hospital to speak to the consultant.  I had a call from the consultant's secretary that same afternoon and was booked in yesterday to have the coil removed.  That's on the NHS.  Awesome.

Removal wasn't simple as the strings were hiding for their lives. However, after a first attempt, the consultant went to plan B, which involved using a small camera to find them, all of which I watched on the screen with him - fascinating. Not many times you get a view like that *grin*.  Anyway, with the ingenious use of water, camera, pliers (well, not exactly but you get the idea) and a few good coughs on my behalf, it was out.  The relief I felt was amazing.  I could have hugged him!  Was it uncomfortable? No, not particularly.

Suffice to say I'm expecting at least 1 migraine or more over the next few weeks as I guess it takes a while for the hormone to leave the body.  The consultant asked me what I was going to do for protection in the meantime - nothing.  I'm having a bloody rest and from now on, it's over to hubby!  I've done my bit.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Planting the vegetables

The girls were keen get their little vegetable plants into their new veg table today, so we decided to have a bit of an outdoors morning.  Plants at the ready, we got going.  First hubby put the earth in and the girls had fun mixing that up.  We'd bought the earth from Longacres and I have to say it's great value. The bags were cheaper than our local garden centre (I peeked today when we popped in to pick up a couple more veg plants that the girls wanted).  Three bags filled the veg table to just the right level.  We chose two multigrow compost bags and one specific to vegetables, and that seemed to be a good mix.


Next we started planting.  Now, clearly we have too many vegetables for the space but the girls were insistent that we planted them all.  We even have a single potato I found in the fridge that had a little sprout on it *grin*


Each seedling planted by one girl was followed by the opposite one running around the garden.  Seems that you need to do a quick lap of the grass to kill the time - not that they were excited you understand.  I didn't partake in that activity as you can imagine. I was official 'hole digger'.

Once everything was planted, hubby made up a net for it out of some old wood he had in the garage (my husband never throws away a piece of wood!) and some mesh we had in the shed for when the grass was seeded a couple of years ago.  Easy to throw over the veg table and keeps the birds (and cats) off.

We're off over to Longacres next week to pick up some grobags and get some beans and peas to grow as well. Will update our 'grow-your-own' adventure then.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Veg Table

Last week we popped down to our favourite garden centre, Longacres, to pick up a veg table (that's not a spelling error).  The girls have been keen to grow vegetables but we grassed over what had been our vegetable plot years ago and used to just use growbags, with varying degrees of success.

Longacres had a lovely choice of veg tables and we opted for a Zest4Leisure 1M veg bed with an angled bottom. We thought it looked lovely and had enough depth that perhaps we could try growing a few potatoes too.  We also picked up 3 bags of compost so we're ready to go.

It came in a flat pack and hubby and I built it today. I say "hubby and I" but what I really mean is hubby did all the hard work and I made casual observations, pointed out the error of his ways, and generally helped out by holding bits up/together/apart whilst providing an extremely useful running commentary.

It came with a pack of, apparently, all the pieces you needed. Unfortunately there was not the 3mm drill bit that was supposed to be in the pack. Lucky for us, hubby had one of those.

Took a while to work out how to put it together but I think this was mainly due to hubby expecting a perfect fit of parts, which it isn't quite.  However, bit of girl power (and reading the instructions properly) showed him how to sort it *grin*.

Last bit was putting the legs on.  The instructions have an epic fail here as they suggest marking out and drilling holes 12cm from the edge for the legs.  They forget, however, that the legs cross so of course one side is not 12cm from edge but more like 13.5cm. Fortunately hubby had only drilled a few pilot holes for the screws so with me holding the table up, he remarked it having screwed in one side and re-drilled the holes.

Once it was ready, we popped it in the sunniest part of the garden next to the girls' bug barn.  All-in-all, we're really pleased with the table and looking forward to popping along to Longacres tomorrow with the girls to get the veg to grow in it.  

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Game of Thrones is coming (just like Winter)

OMG. I'm so excited.  The latest Game of Thrones trailer for Season 6 has been released.  I could barely contain myself when the first trailer came out and now this one has almost tipped me over the edge!  I don't want to wish my life away but....roll on April!

Love this shot at the end.  Bran has grown up a bit and look who he's bumped into.  Had to make a quick screen grab of that.

You know nothing Jon Snow.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Mother's Day

Today was quite busy compared to most Mother's Days.  The girls gave me their lovely, home-made cards this morning in the hotel and then I drove back from my nephew's 40th birthday party in Barnstaple, via a stop at Stonehenge.  Got home around 2.30pm. Look how they've all spoiled me!

The teen went out and got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a cute soft sheep in an Easter egg as as present.  The girls gave me the gorgeous artificial flowers from Longacres, plus a pretty, tall vase to put them in.  I was delighted with them.  Shush...don't tell anyone but I chose the artificial flowers myself as I wanted some more for the darker corners of our house where real plants do not grow.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


We have been down to Barnstaple this weekend to celebrate my nephew's 40th birthday. 40?!  Goodness, how did that happen?  Anyway, we had a lovely time and a quick over-nighter and then headed back home, via Stonehenge.

Now we are members of the National Trust, we decided to pop on by and see the stones. I've not been here since I was much, much younger to actually walk around the stones.  Last time we were here, the place looked very different and we did a virtual geocache at two of the stones on the outskirts.  All changed now though.

There's a visitor centre, a mock-up of where the workers may have lived, a stone you can try and pull and buses that take you to the stones if you don't want to do the walk (we didn't, it was freezing out).

Off we went and had half a walk around the stones as it was just so cold and this was an unplanned stop.  The girls, once they had said "they're very big", soon wanted to go back on the bus to the car and get home. It would be fair to say that the bus ride was their favourite thing about the trip *grin*.

Getting off the bus, you have to walk through the gift shop.  Sorry, no stopping here anyone. Move along.  A quick try at moving the stone and then back in the car to head home.