Friday, 30 March 2012

Spring has Sprung!!

Usually when we get un-seasonal weather here it is of the bad sort.

This week it has been of the good sort!

Much as I love the cosy nights of autumn and winter, by the end of February I am really starting to look forward to the weather warming up. March started off just as cold and bleak as February had ended but this last week saw a huge change. Not only did the Spring weather begin, but we wouldn't have been complaining to have these temperatures in the summer!

Every day this week since Sunday the thermometer has been around 21C. I know it's not going to last and that we will soon return to more normal Spring temperatures of around 12C or often lower, but we are certainly determined to make the most of it while it lasts!

Sunday Lunch on the lawn at my brothers. He had to go and dig their patio table out of it's winter hibernation in the garage.

Alasdair the little firefighter.

My husband had already planned to take Monday off work and so was able to scrub down the barbecue and we had our first barbecue of the year far earlier than we have done before!

Dinner outside - in March!!!

Please excuse the mess in the background - we were also giving the shed it's annual spring clean and still hadn't put everything back!

Aberdeen Angus burger, Smoked Scottish Cheddar, Rocket and Tomato & Pepper Relish. As well as barbecued onions and coleslaw.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Dairy Free Easter Eggs

This time of year has always been hard for our allergy boys. Chocolate Eggs and treats are on display in every supermarket you go into and they are all off-limits to the boys. Something a chocoholic like me finds too terrible to imagine!

In the past I have resorted to making our own Easter eggs for them using their chocolate and a mould I bought in Lakeland but it's not the same as getting one all prettily boxed up like your brothers.

A couple of years ago Kinnerton brought out their dairy & gluten free egg, which was great, but the chocolate is really dark, and just too rich for a little boy.

Imagine my delight this year to discover that there was not just this egg for sale in our local Sainsburys, but another two! One of these was the store's own-brand free from egg and the other was this Celtic Chocolates one.

Calum is a huge fan of the Celtic Chocolates Caramels and so was over the moon to get an egg made by the same company, and one that included the caramels.

Although it's not quite Easter yet, they just had to test it out to see if the egg was as good as the chocolates.

The answer was a resounding 'Yes' and now I need to stock up on some more in time for Easter!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Prince Charming and the Charity Ball

I'm sure most of you know that my husband works for a charity for the homeless. I'm sure those of you who do know that also know that for the last 18 months or so he has been working as the North of Scotland manager for this charity, which takes him north to Aberdeen 3 nights of the week.

The charity has been up and running down here for nearly 30 years and so is well established, but up in the north east it is just beginning to make it's mark. Part of my husband's job, as well as managing the facilities for service users, is to spread the word about the work of the charity amongst local churches and also businesses.

Almost a year ago a local business man offered to fund a charity ball. His company would meet the costs of the evening and all the other money raised at the ball would go to the charity.

So for the last 9 months my husband has also had party planner added to his list of responsibilities!

The ball took place on Saturday and of course I had to buy a new frock! This proved somewhat harder than I had thought it would though, as it seemed impossible to find one that didn't scream harlot! 

In my head I had two ideals - either something in the style of Downton Abbey or in the style of glamorous 50s housewife. My first few shopping trips uncovered neither, but instead every dress was too low, too short, too clingy, to sequin-y, just too wrong really!

On my third, and rather half hearted trip to shops (I think the influence of living with all these males has coloured my desire for shopping somewhat) I found a dress where I least expected to.

It was the 50s style that won the day. What the photo doesn't show is that there is a net petticoat lining which gives it that lovely 50s flare.

As the ball was in Aberdeen it meant an overnight stay for myself and my Prince Charming. My brother's wife had offered to have the boys over to stay, which was great. I wasn't in the least bit concerned about the older three boys who have had sleepovers with their cousins before, but this would be my first time leaving Alasdair overnight. I'm sure another thing my blog readers know is that he doesn't sleep very well! I wasn't so much worried about how he would be with his Aunt and Uncle, but I was a bit concerned about imposing a sleepless night on them! My sister in law assured me that she could cope with it fine, knowing that I would be back in the morning and she could have a full nights sleep the following night. By all accounts my brother slept through everything anyway!

The ball went very well. There was a lovely atmosphere on the night. An auction of great donations half way through helped raise a good amount of money.

At the very beginning my husband was called out to the front and presented with a huge birthday cake. It was a big surprise for him and the only part of the evening he hadn't planned.

There was also a short film shown of the work the charity does which was an excellent idea. It had interviews with some of the service users and I think this had a big impact on a lot of the people at the ball, who have never really considered how these people get into the situations they find themselves in. Someone mentioned to me that before watching the film she had been so prejudiced and always assumed that it was their own fault and down to drink or drugs, where the film reminded everyone that the number one reason for people finding themselves homeless is actually a relationship breakdown.

The film was done by the small production company who filmed us test driving a car back in the autumn for Gaelic TV. They were a great contact to have made and provided their services free of charge. It was nice to catch up with them at the ball, as they were the only faces I knew!

Normally I would have been snapping pictures all the way through, but we had been invited to sit at the table with the main sponsor and his friends for dinner and somehow it just didn't seem right. Plus, the man I was sitting next to kept the conversation flowing so much that I didn't get a chance!

I had hoped to get a photo of me and my Prince Charming (who was  most handsome in his kilt), but it just didn't happen. He had collapsed into bed, relieved that it was all over and had gone so well when I tried to get a photo of me in my dress to share with all my blog friends.

But taking a full length photo of yourself is nigh on impossible without a full length mirror!

So just use your imagination a bit and picture the missing bottom half as a flared out 50s style dress completed with some killer black suede heels at the bottom.

As this was taken at around 2am my curls have gone a bit flat too!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

It's Somebody's Birthday......

.........and it's a big one!

And just before we go any further, it's not mine! I've got a bit to go before I reach this one.

At the weekend my beloved hit the big 4-0. 

The boys had fun choosing special cards for daddy. James' is the funny Basil Fawlty face in the middle below.

David chose a particularly funny one, and one that in no way resembles daddy whatsoever I might add.

Here it is....

Calum has had his eye on this Lego one (what else) for months. David actually originally wanted to get him another Lego card, but since it was for a 50th birthday I persuaded him it might not be the best idea!

Alasdair went straight for the 'tatoe head' one.

Amongst the presents was this Scoltand shinty strip from my brother and his wife, which includes the special number on the back!

I should also point out here that in this photo he is trying it on over a woolly jumper and in real life my beloved isn't quite so chunky.

The main birthday celebration is going to be this coming weekend, when we have hired a barge which will set sail for around 3 hours on Saturday evening, with friends and family on board enjoying a lovely dinner together.

Since the main cake will be on the boat, we just had cupcakes at the weekend. Alasdair was more than happy to blow out those candles for daddy!

And the reason the barge dinner wasn't on the night of his birthday is because that night my beloved and I were at a Fundraising Ball for the charity he works for, but that story will need to wait until tomorrow :0)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A weekend trip north (continued)

Four hungry boys waiting for their dinner.

My kind of restaurant is the kind that gives you a generous portion of pudding!

This was one generous helping of Sticky Toffee Pudding. 

At the re-union we all ate in our smaller family groups and then gathered in a private lounge for tea/coffee and socialising.

We were first through and the boys had a very civilised read by the fireside while we waited for the relations to come through.

My mother in law is second from the left and pictured here with her sisters and brother.

Later on in the evening we also tucked into a lovely cheeseboard.

Of course Auntie Anna's dog Cuilean had to be there. He is family after all!

Alasdair wasn't too overwhelmed by all the relations he had never met.

Here he is the following morning with his big buddy James at breakfast.

The hotel looked out onto a loch, which was beautiful and still while we were there.

Finally, here are a few scenery shots. The sky was so blue while we were away, the clouds so varied and the rainbows so bright!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A weekend trip north

 My mother in law comes from a town in the north-west highlands, where most of her family still live. It is also officially the wettest place in the UK and home of the highest mountain!

On Saturday night my mother in law's family were having a family reunion in a town about an hour south of there, in a hotel where one of her nephews is the head chef. This meant we all got good discounts on the hotel rooms!

Rather than travel all that way for just one night, we headed north to the first town to stay with a cousin of my husband's (from his dad's side) and his family. Is this getting complicated? It's not really. It just happens that my husband's cousin from his dad's family has ended up living in the town where my husband's mother's family are from!


My husband and his cousin have always been quite close friends. His cousin's children are roughly ages with our older three boys and also very similar in personalities so the children all had a great time together.

This is the view from their living room. 

Technically it is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, but the top is hidden in the clouds.

And in this one too. In fact, only once have I actually seen the top of Ben Nevis. From the ground, I should add! My husband, however, has seen the top from the top :0)

James taught his second cousin how to play chess.

The other boys spent quite a while outside.

James invented a LEGO White-House.

David and his fellow third born second cousin found a hairy caterpillar.

Alasdair enjoyed playing with bubbles.

And everyone enjoyed playing with the friendly dog who would chase sticks all day long!

Before we headed south for the re-union, we visited the nearby Glenfinnan monument.

Remember Calum's love of Jacobite history, which I wrote about here? Glenfinnan is where the Jacobites first raised their flag.

The viaduct in the distance is also well known, I think, from the Harry Potter films.

After this we hit the road for the hour's drive south to the re-union, but I think I'll leave the re-union (and some more scenery) for another post.