Wednesday, 31 August 2016


31. 08.2016

The day after Insomnia and hubby and I were pretty tired to be honest, it had been a very long 4 days. We had been looking forward to booking a holiday before Bailey started university and had provisionally booked two weeks into our work schedule. We had finally decided on a cottage in Dorset/Somerset when 30 minutes after we booked it we had the devastating news that hubby's uncle was in the hospital and wasn't going to make it. Sadly, he had been unwell for a while but it still came as a massive shock. Hubby and I raced down to the hospital and along with hubby's small family were all with him as they turned his life support off. It was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do.

As a family we have been very fortunate that we haven't had to deal with many deaths. Hubby's uncle was only 45 and his two daughters are very similar ages to two of our children making it even more heartbreaking. We felt terrible about booking the holiday and had we known we wouldn't have, we were assured by family that there wasn't much we could do anyway and so we ending up going. Even though I felt guilty not being here I think it was very important for all of us that we had that time as a family to grieve and talk through everything. Hubby and I were already feeling very weary and it was the quiet we needed to talk through so many things and also enjoy some really quality family time together. Bailey chose to stay home, as he had work but we talked to him everyday on the phone and he had friends over too.

Its been a really tough time for us as a family but I'm incredibly proud of how the children have dealt with it all. As if we didn't already realise how precious and short life is something like this happens and you see what things are important and what aren't.

Its still hard to talk about but I think it needed saying or at least addressing on the blog, this is a record/diary of our lives and I know eventually the children will look back at this time. I'm very proud of hubby and the children for their bravery during this time and love you all very much xxx

Saturday, 27 August 2016

London Lolita's and the London Eye

The second day of Insomnia 58 for hubby but for myself, Piper and Cordelia we had a day trip into London booked. Piper had a ticket for a big Lolita event called Wicked & Whimsy, we had actually booked it whilst we were sat in Trafalgar Square back in June and she was so excited.

Planning wise it was very tricky, hubby had to do the show by himself-which was very busy!-and we got dropped at Birmingham train station for our train into London. I'd like to say it was a great experience but actually it was incredibly stressful. We arrived early and unfortunately jumped on the wrong train, we were lucky as the conductor was pretty reasonable (even though he was going to charge me £100 at first) and let us get off at Milton Keynes. The train conductor there was much nicer and let us get on the next train, even though we were an hour early. It didn't do much for my anxiety and I was trying to be super calm for Piper as she was feeling really nervous. She has bad social anxiety and it was such a big deal for her to go to W & W, it actually meant we arrived in London an hour early and could have a slow walk to the event which was on Pall Mall. We managed to pop into Starbucks for a coffee first too and so she could do her last finishing touches to her outfit. I did her nails and Cordelia took lots of photo's for her. She looked beautiful :D

Trying to get a good selfie of the three of us!

We got to the beautiful building where the event was taking place and Piper was really nervous, the queue outside was pretty big but the girls all looked amazing. It is quite a view to see a row of Lolita's I can tell you, I didn't take any photo's except of Piper here:

Unfortunately there were lots of people who were taking photos without permission, which is quite rude. So I thought I'd throw it back at them and take a photo of them-that confused them immensely! 

The beautiful building:

I waited until Piper was through the door before we had to leave, I so wanted to run in with her and maybe will have to next time! She was incredibly brave going in by herself but she did find her friend in there and had a wonderful day which you can read about here on Piper's own blog Wicked and Whimsy Part 1 and here Wicked and Whimsy Part 2.

Meanwhile Cordelia and I had a super laid back day, we did lots of Pokemon hunting, visited a lovely little art shop, had lunch in Trafalgar Square-spent nearly an hour talking to one of the guards there about dogs lol!

Then we had a wander down to the London Eye as we had booked tickets. We were really excited and the queue moved much quicker than I thought it was going to be. The view over the River Thames:


Sent this pic to hubby haha!

It was really high up there, I'm not great with heights tbh! But I got a few good photo's

Buckingham Palace!

Selfie at the top!

And I even caught a Pokemon haha...

We had such a good walk round we ended up in some deckchairs in a park at one point-we were so tired! We picked Piper up at 4pm and headed to the tube station. She had a fab day but we were all so exhausted. We got great seats on the train only for our train to break down, delaying us by an hour (karma from earlier I imagine!) and meaning we only got seats for the last 20 minutes of our journey. Poor hubby had to wait ages for us and came to meet us off the train and ended up paying £9 for 20 minutes car parking!! Think I will just drive into the centre of London myself next time, it'll be less stressful than public transport. Was worth it though to see what a great time Piper had and it was nice to hang out with Cordelia for the day.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Insomnia58 Birmingham NEC

This was our first experience of Insomnia, we had a stall booked for the full 4 day bank holiday weekend and we quite excited. We had to set up a day before it opened and to be honest it was very overwhelming to walk into. We've not really done a show as big as this one and it was our first show at the NEC in Birmingham so it was a totally new experience for us. The first day it opened we brought both Bailey and Ruben with us, they were really excited. It was much busier than we had expected and we all had a great day, there were so many things organised and such a great atmosphere. Ruben enjoyed it even more than I'd thought he would but Bailey said he preferred the EGX show, although he got talking to lots of other students on game design courses so he got lots of free advice!

Ruben enjoyed it so much that he came back again on Sunday and Monday! He spent a lot of time playing Overwatch-which Bailey ending up buying whilst he was there-and playing Super Smash with lots of other kids. He never asked for a single thing whilst we were there, even though we were right next to a Japanese sweet stall which had lots of treats, there were lots of merchandise stalls but all he wanted to do was play the games. I think that's quite rare, especially being behind a stall all day seeing lots of other children and their behaviour-some of them very rude! He had money to spend but came home with all of it and was on such a high having had a wonderful weekend!

This was the queue to get in and it was the same on the other side too. Was a bit overwhelming at first but it was actually quite funny to watch all the crowd running down the red carpet area!

Had lots of walks around with both boys and was amazed at these pc towers-they were like works of art!

I'm not even sure what I'd do with that to be honest!

Ruben and I had a few rests and sat and watched the shows that were on various stages.

This was the Twitch stage

Ruben playing one of the indie games, we actually got talking to the creator of this game in the queue to get in!

I think the boys favourite stall was Gametee, Bailey has been buying their t-shirts for the last couple of years and I also got one for Ruben too. I bought their cool tin Pokestop sign for the kitchen and a lure candle, I got talking to the owner for ages and she is a really lovely and talented woman.

It was a fab weekend for the boys and us, our mugs got a lot of admirers and we chatted to lots of interesting people so I'm sure it will be the first of many shows for us.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Home educating in the summer months/family life

Now I've finally caught up with various trip posts on the blog I can write about what else we've been up to the last month or so. I feel like we've done a lot of cinema trips recently-both with the kids and without the kids too. Hubby and I bought cinema passes so we can go as much as we want now and I have to admit its been nice to go out alone on a few dates. We didn't have chance to do a lot of things before we started our family so it is wonderful to be able to get around to spending some time alone doing things we enjoy together. And with 3 teenagers and one nearly teenager in the house and running our own business from home it is important (read necessary!) to have a break sometimes.

Bailey finally got his letter through from the university saying he has his place on his chosen course, we knew this already but it was still exciting to see it on paper. Only a month to go now before he starts. He's been working quite a few hours a week at the pub too and socialising quite a bit too so we haven't seen too much of him. I've taken him out shopping for new bits for uni and he's bought himself new glasses-the joys of being an adult and having to pay for your own things!

Piper has been busy getting everything ready for Wicked & Whimsy, which is a huge Lolita event in London. She has made herself wrist cuffs, brooches, bracelets, a necklace and a beautiful flower crown. She is meeting up with friends and it all looks like it will be a fantastic event. Here is the crown she's made:

You can read about her W & W preparation on her blog 99percentglitter

We've got a very busy weekend coming up as we have a stall at Insomnia with our mugs, its a 4 day event at the NEC Birmingham but we have to set the stall up tomorrow, so more of a 5 day event for us. Bailey and Ruben are coming down to enjoy the event on Friday and are both very excited, it will be so nice for them to do something together and they both have a shared love of gaming. There's no Youtubers that their bothered about seeing so it will be more about watching the competitive gaming and trying all the new games. On Saturday hubby will have to manage solo as I'm taking the girls into London for the day, Piper will be off to Wicked & Whimsy and once she is safely dropped off, Cordelia and I have plans for lunch in Hyde Park and a trip on the London Eye. We've not been on before so we are really excited-expect photo's to follow! I am imagining by Tuesday I will quite exhausted...

Yesterday we took Ruben and Cordelia to the cinema to watch Alice through the Looking Glass, its a great film with stunning costumes. I love the Time man. Ruben and Cordelia both enjoyed it too. Cordelia went off to meet up with a friend at Meadowhall afterwards. This year we have seen these films at the cinema with the children in different formations:

Batman vs Superman
Star Trek
Captain America Civil War
Finding Dory

There's lots coming out soon too that they want to see, we are a family of movie lovers! We've just finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix with Cordelia too. We all loved it and can't wait for season 2. Cordelia keeps facebooking me GIF's from the series!

Today we had a walk around Rother Valley Country park with Loki. It is very warm today so it was a bit hard work in the sun, especially for little furry Loki. Its 3.5 miles all the way round so was a good bit of exercise and Ruben managed to get his Blastoise (Pokemon Go). We both managed to catch enough Eevee's to evolve our third ones. So we (Hubby too!) have Vaporeon, Flareon & Jolteon now. We have found another country park nearby where we can catch Charmander's so that's where we will be going next I think. Hubby is winning Ruben and I at the moment with his 82 Pokemon in the pokedex, I have 73 and Ruben has 66. Hubby is on level 19, I'm on level 18 and Ruben is on 17-we are all so competitive haha! Pokemon Go is like our summer gym membership.....

Cordelia found a real life Caterpie today on the walk too...

Two weeks ago we had a stall at Sheffield Film and Comic Con, last year the girls got to meet the lead singer of one of their favourite bands so it was definitely a high point. You can see photo's here if you want. No such excitement this year and it wasn't quite as busy but we still had a fantastic weekend. Cordelia's cosplay costumes have improved so much, I can't believe its on just over a year since she started making them. Cosplay has become such a huge part of her life and she has made so many friends from it too. This year she did the Winter Solider from the Captain America Civil War film and also Attack on Titan's Eren. He's still a favourite but she is always evolving the costume, this time it was a new wig. She's currently working on cosplay for MCM Birmingham in November. Here are some photo's of her from comic con:



Piper and I will be celebrating 8 weeks of being Vegan this weekend, it's gone so fast. Feel like we are really starting to get into the swing of it now but it has meant a lot more planning on my behalf. Yesterday Piper and I made some glow bars from the book Oh She Glows, we made 12 so we will have plenty for the weekend as they last for up to 2 weeks. We also had a first attempt at peppermint creams, they were a little fiddly but came out really well, a bit too well-no photo's because we've already eaten them all! Sheffield has lots of new vegan cafe's popping up recently so we need to get round and try them too. Its made an impact on the rest of the house too with much more vegan friendly snacks/food being eaten. I even made us deodorant yesterday from scratch, it was actually really easy thanks to online tutorials and I've been using it for two days in 22 degrees sunny weather and so has hubby and it works brilliantly. Even Ruben has been giving it a go. Money saving and better for us and the environment...

I think that is us all caught up for now, I'm sure there will be a lot to post about after this weekend :D

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Clumber Park, National Trust

Must be getting near to September as I'm sure my home ed wobble is getting ready to kick in. Although not as bad as it used to be, don't know if that comes from Bailey getting into University or the realisation that what with university fees being so expensive and the experience of dealing with college tutors that I don't care at all if they actually do any of those things. It's different for Bailey because for the last 3-4 years he has been very focused on what path he wants to follow and has done everything according to his plan. We are enormously proud of him. But after reading so much in the news recently about universities, my opinion on further education has really changed. The fees to go now just seem so ridiculous and I'm already worrying about how leaving uni with all those fees will affect my son's future.

I really thought we would be thinking about college for Piper by now but after Bailey's experience I'm not really bothered whether she goes or not. We are already fending off the questions though, which to be honest pisses me right off, especially given that most of the people asking have retrained for different careers!! I hate that a 16 year old is supposed to decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life, she isn't even 16 yet for goodness sake. I don't think I know a single person who is still in the same job they were doing at 16. Would really like to make a "back off" leaflet for the next few years for the girls and Ruben...

Going into the "new term" as such I'm just hoping to get outdoors a bit more and maybe have a bit less time online. I haven't ordered a single workbook for anyone.....yet...and I don't have any plans too....

We had a lovely walk around Clumber Park last week-no phone reception unfortunately, so no Pokemon Stops! We walked round the whole lake, which is around 3-4 miles, and had a lovely picnic. Thanks to our membership too, no parking charges. I think we've already recouped our membership fee already pretty much and it's not even September.

Kedleston Hall, National Trust

Love having the NT membership which means we can visit places on a whim on a weekend, no booking required! I'd like to say that everyone was totally happy about goig out on a Sunday afternoon but that my dear blogger friends would be a LIE.... maybe I should see if you can guess which teenager was unhappy about this visit from the photographs.... or at least this first one anyway...

any ideas?

Others slowly thawed, especially when there were Pokemon Go stops found in the formal gardens...

Hurrah everyone is in a better mood now....and the girls and Ruben showing off Saturday's new haircuts!!

The house is so very, very beautiful inside

Since we had watched the film The Duchess with Piper the night before, a film which I really love, it made it much more exciting to look out for rooms that were used for filming. Piper really enjoyed the film-except the sex bits ;/-and we had fun looking to see how her and Bess of Hardwick are connected. We also found out that Georgiana was the great, great, great, great aunt of Princess Diana!

The view of the house from the bridge, this part of the grounds also appeared in the film, there's a scene where Georgiana is walking whilst her daughters are running ahead of her and she has a visit from her friend Bess (not Bess of Hardwick! But Elizabeth Foster) who later turns out to be her husband's lover-they were strange times! Ruben also hatched a 10k Pokemon egg whilst we were stood here but was not best pleased that it was Shellder which he already has....

Lovely views in the gardens.

Somebody photo bombed...

The Scarsdale family still live in part of the building-the part on the left of the photo-I'm sure that's their car parked outside. The Kedleston estate has been in the Curzon/Scarsdale family since the 13th century. I didn't see any mention of Georgiana Spencer in the house though, I think we will have to visit Chatsworth next as they owned that too.

Hubby, Piper and I thought this painting was super creepy and reminded us of the lady in the new Ghostbusters film-brilliant film btw, highly recommended if you've not seen!!

Another room that was featured in the film, a scene where the Duchess is playing cards with her mother at a table. The sofa's are amazing!

The beautiful and huge marble hall..


Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, despite the staff being pretty miserable here and most of the visitors too! Would it hurt some people to smile? 

Hardwick Hall

It's been a couple of years since we've had National Trust membership, and even longer since we've had a family membership over the home educating family membership. I think the home educating family membership is really good value but I got really fed up with the "Have you booked a visit for today?" every time we visited a property. I can't always plan a week ahead where I am going to visit! So we just went for family membership this year in a bid to get all of us out of the house more.

We joined at Hardwick Hall, we haven't been here for years except on walks and you can see our previous visit back in 2011 here;

Hardwick Hall walk

Walks at Hardwick

Visiting Hardwick Hall

This time we just took Piper as she really wanted to go and the others did not. She has long since been a fan of Harwick's famous resident Bess and knows so much of her. We had a great talk with the lady on reception about her and her niece Arbella, there's a new book out about her but we didn't get chance to get it in the gift shop. Will have to buy it from Amazon.

As we now have membership we could also go into the old hall which is owned and run by the English Heritage. We did a lot of walking so I'm glad that Cordelia and Ruben stayed home as they would have been very whingy at walking so much. We got lots of photos as the house is so very photogenic and symmetrical!

I can't think we did anything more on this visit than previous visits and not that much has changed, although I don't remember the kitchens?! Piper did a perfect napkin fold so she's on that duty for Christmas lunch! We did notice a painting of Georgiana Spencer on the staircase though and it reminded me to introduce Piper to the film The Duchess with Keira Knightley-I had forgot that Georgiana also owned Hardwick. At least I know where our next visit should be-Kedleston Hall.



The view of the back of the house


The very symmetrical front of the house and Piper :)

Exploring the house and huge tapestries..

The beautiful restored bed

The old hall, or what's left of it. Quite a lot of stairs to climb to get to this point.

The view of the new hall from the top of the old hall..

Thanks to the many, many Pokemon Go stops and super powerful gym-level 7!- think we will be visiting here again soon and probably bringing Ruben with us...