Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Week 1 - Christmas Countdown and the last few days

A second post from me today as I wanted to finish the countdown before Christmas (and I've only got hours left!).
Spoiler: we didn't get it all finished but here's an update of where we've got to. We only managed to get Dad over one night during the week as he was pulling some serious overtime.

While he and SBB were working in the kitchen I started the gloss work in the bathroom. Remember how it last looked all the way back in week seven?

Painted on the left, unpainted on the right

It's getting there
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, SBB and Dad tackled the hole for the hob. This had to be done carefully - particularly when moving it after it had been cut as it could snap. They reinforced the thinner cut edge with another strip of wood and a couple of clamps.

However, when we slotted the hob into place there was a problem. We discovered that the support struts didn't allow the hob to sit neatly in the hole.

Area to be cut marked out
So we chopped out a segment and replaced the hob only to find that there was now a section on the left that was also in the way.

This was annoying to say the least and I wonder if everyone has this problem with B&Q kitchens and hob tops.

Once we got that sorted we moved on to the sink. There was a gap between the cabinet and the rim of the sink that, while not visible from standing, would be glaringly obvious when getting things out of the cupboard. Why, oh why, did B&Q design it this way? Anyway, our solution was to use an offcut of the leftover plinth and screw it onto the top of the cabinet.

There was one problem. The screws securing the center column sat proud of the wood so Dad used a little drillbit called a countersink to skim a little out of the top of the screw hole so that the screws sat flush to the wood. I was pretty impressed - I had no idea what that drillbit did!

We then screwed everything back together and I am so impressed with how it looks. It's really coming along don't you think?

For the rest of the week and the last few days I'm afraid life has gotten in the way of DIY.

Christmas buffet spread at work

Keeping warm at work - Sweet popcorn Options hot chocolate (couldn't really taste any popcorn)

Favourite steak meal at The Lifeboat - yum!
 All of which finally leads us up to tonight. Christmas Eve. All the presents are wrapped, I don't have to do any cooking until Boxing Day (when SBB and I have our own belated Christmas Day) and Midnight Mass is hours away unless I fall asleep first... :)

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas. x

The Chances of Anything Coming from Mars are a Million to One

Okay, quick confession - there is no week 2 to the Christmas Countdown. SBB was knackered from working 25 days straight and on the Thursday we went on a little trip.

SBB and I have always been big fans of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds so when I heard the stage show was coming so close I snapped up tickets ASAP. And it. Was. Amazing.

Here's how our trip went:

Breakfast. Toasted bagel with honey and a cup of tea. Lovely!

Red Funnel gets festive

We traveled up on Thursday lunchtime and headed straight to our hotel to check in. We stayed in Hotel Celebrity (although I don't have a picture of it).

Each of the rooms is named after a famous person (or people) and the halls have some really quirky artwork.

Erm... What goes on in THIS room?

It even has a ghost! Unfortunately the room seems to be an office and not available to book... But how cool would that be?!

 There's even leaflets/a poster about the ghost. I nabbed one to read later.

Our room was Keira Knightley. It was a nice room - clean and tidy.

View from the window - not quite as good as the last time I was in Bournemouth!

We trundled into Bournemouth and had a good wander round the Christmas market.

Those little black dots in the sea near the pier are surfers - very brave as it was freezing!

 After a quick trip back to the hotel to dump our shopping we heading out for some food. We settled on Prezzo.

There was so much on the menu I almost couldn't choose - I was drawn towards the lobster spaghetti but I've never had lobster so wasn't sure whether I should take the risk but then SBB asked:

'Well, how often do you get the opportunity to eat lobster?'

Good point.

Doesn't it look good?
It was so SO good but I couldn't eat it all. It was literally a mountain of spaghetti in a sauce that was so good I wanted to bury my face in it. But I didn't. Obviously.

We may have come on a particularly busy evening but as soon as we arrived we were asked, rather imperiously, 'Have you booked or just wandered in?' We were served very quickly which was both admirable and unexpected. To give you an idea of how quick it was - I've had longer waits at McDonalds! On one hand it was nice to be served quickly but we did feel a little rushed.

After dinner we wandered around a bit and then went into a place called 'Fun Station'. It had a load of arcade games but what drew us in was the counter in front of the window selling waffles and sundaes. A perfect place for pudding.

Looks bloomin' marvelous doesn't it?
I've forgotten what our sundaes were called but SBB had one with brownies and chocolate ice cream and I had one with banoffee and toffee. Oh my they were good.

After pudding it was time to head over to the BIC.

The stage
I took another picture during the intermission but I won't upload it because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The show was great. The acting was a little poor (even Liam Neeson in the first half. For shame, Liam, for shame!) but the music more than made up for it. It was a great evening which finished to thunderous applause.

The next morning we were heading out so we heading down for the buffet breakfast which was lovely. I think it was an 'all you can eat' but I only managed the one plate.

I'm quite glad I picked Hotel Celebrity. It was friendly, clean and quiet at night (which is always a plus for me) and for £36 for the two of us for a night was an absolute bargain!

We took a rather bizarre detour back to Southampton because SBB turned left out of the hotel's carpark instead of right like I told him (sighs and rolls eyes).
Once in Southampton it was time to head to one place: Ikea!

It's strange but it's only after being in Ikea that I remember how much I dislike the place. I think what I dislike is the fact that you have to go through the how show room to get to the actual 'shop' area. But we were there to buy stuff for the flat and we managed to get everything on our list except the light fixture we wanted because they'd discontinued it (sad face).

Our trolley
Our trolley was filled with all white and clear items, except for a new storage box for my workout clothes.

*I wasn't paid to review Hotel Celebrity I just enjoyed my stay!*

Friday, 19 December 2014

'Ello Vera! A housewarming gift

Unfortunately this is not a post about a lady named Vera. It is however a quick post about the little present I put together for our friends who have just moved house. The question was: what to get them as a housewarming gift...?

SBB suggested a bottle of wine but I don't drink and, as he wasn't around to advise me, I decided against it. The other option was a plant. Now, I'm not very green-fingered. In fact, SBB calls our house 'The Place That Plants Come to Die'. Charming.

However, having said that there is one thing that I've been able to keep alive for years and that is a little dude which has come to be known as Lazarus.

I've had him (I don't know why it's a 'he') for about 9 years. My Nan gave him to me to take to uni and he has so far survived long periods of drought when I left him in my room over the holidays, even longer periods of drought when I moved in with SBB and he sat neglected on the kitchen window sill (the plant that is, not SBB), over watering when I finally remembered him and last but not least a winter outside. He also survived many years in a pot that was too small and the traumatic re-potting when I finally got round to it.

I left him outside (should it still be just a 'he' if there ended up being more than one plant? I'm getting confused) last winter and the green leaves withered. Sad face. I thought I'd killed my aloe vera plant. My Nan was disappointed every time she forgot what had happened to the plant and asked me about it and everyone else was incredulous that I'd managed to kill off and aloe vera - one of the hardiest plants around, so they said.

What can I say - it's a special gift.

So, you can imagine my delight when lovely new baby green shoots appeared in the spring. And so Lazarus was named. Even though there's more than one of him. Them. Arrgh.

I popped into B&Q and picked up this little pot which is so lovely I may have to go and buy one for myself so I can buy a new plant to kill off gently nurture.

Re-potting/moving plants seems to be what I'm worst at and I was really worried that I'd kill all the plants off when re-homing them. But I carefully loosened the plants from their pots - I put everything in a large bucket as I'd used up all my all-purpose soil doing the bush beds last year.

I put a couple of stones for drainage in the bottom of each plastic pot and then repacked the soil, leaving a hole for the plants and then topping up with soil.

After planting (and wiping excess soil off the pot) I decided that the soil looked a little bare. B&Q didn't have any small packs of decorative stones but luckily we had some put down this summer so I popped outside to cherry-pick some of the prettiest ones.

I'm rather pleased with the outcome:

The other weekend while SBB was working I went out to dinner with my family to a place called Seven in Shorwell.

Nan had brought me a new aloe vera plant - which I think may have grown from an offcut of Lazarus - she handed it to me and told me not to kill off this one. I made no promises.

I wasn't too keen on the pot (pink plastic with white clouds) so I popped it into this one that had previously housed a Lazarus-baby. The hedgehog came from Nan - isn't he cute?