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It’s Christmas!

It’s been a little while since I visited my blog but it would seem in my absence, I have still had a steady stream of visitors, so thank you!

The build up to Christmas in the Popple household has been as busy as ever. Here is a pictorial summary of some of the things we have been up to:

Decorating the Christmas tree – for the first time,  I let Ava (with a little help from Benjamin) put every single bauble on the Christmas tree. For the past five Christmases, I have rearranged Ava’s effort overnight.


Chutney Making for Ava’s teachers and Benjamin’s childminder


Salt Dough Decorations for the Christmas tree – the first time I have let anything homemade anywhere near the Christmas tree! Thanks to my sister-in-law for the salt dough recipe.


Homemade Santa Decoration – this one is for you Auntie Marcia – there maybe someone who sews in the family after all!


Homemade Snow Globe – this one is for my mother – there maybe a potential artist in the family!


Visiting the Coca Cola Truck in Reading


Watching the Annual Barnado’s Toy Run in Reading – Ava and I dropped a toy off beforehand for one of the bikers to take to Barnado’s.


Ava’s first Christmas Concert at school – much like her mother, she appeared to mime most of the words although has been proving she knew them around the house and out in public ever since!


Making our first Gingerbread House – a little cheat here – we didn’t actually make the Gingerbread House – got to leave something different to do next year!


Making my first Christmas Cake – thanks to my mother-in-law for the recipe. No thanks to my fluctuating oven, it actually tastes ok, after an epic 8 hour bake!


Our first Christmas Eve box with onesies. Not sure the kids will ever put on ‘normal’ clothes again.


Seeing ‘Santa’ aka the International Space Station. Thanks to Facebook, we knew to look out for this. Priceless.


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First School Shoes

Even now I still remember the excitement of the annual pilgrimage to Clarks for new school shoes, only to be left disappointed as my mother would never let me have a pair of patent leather shoes.

School Shoes School Shoes

I gave Ava a choice for her first pair of school shoes and she opted to go for the non patent version. There are still a few extra bells and whistles that I didn’t have – I don’t remember there being fairies inside my shoes or flashing lights (with an on/off switch nonetheless). Do I still sound bitter?

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Our holiday to Italy seems like a distant memory now and with Andy’s impending big hip op, we felt that we wanted to make the most of the summer. Neither of us can quite agree how we ended up glamping on the Isle of Wight and after the first night, neither of us was looking to take credit for the decision. We tried in vain to enforce a 7pm bedtime on our children (two nights running). Who were we kidding? We were never going to be able to enjoy a quiet night for two on the decking, looking out at the stars. It was light out for a good two hours past the children’s bedtime and other kids could clearly be heard playing outside, as noted by our four year old. This also resulted in our 2 year old waking up at 5am two mornings on the trot – yawn! By the third night, we had learnt our lesson and all went to bed at the same time.

We’ve both always enjoyed camping but this was the first time that we have been with the children and neither of us had ever been glamping before. It’s fair to say glamping is a bit of a cheat; yes there is canvas involved but there is also electricity to provide light, charge a mobile phone and to power a television and a hairdryer, plus beds with duvets and soft pillows and cooking facilities.

We soon abandoned the notion that we would cook dinners, although Andy did manage to do some pretty good scrambled eggs on toast one morning. The shower block is however the same for everyone, with the push taps on the showers to make sure you don’t spend too long and the invariably muddy floors and cheap toilet roll. Showers are no fun with a four year old and two year old in tow; I might add on separate occasions, as the cubicles are too small and the threat of little hands unlocking the door at any moment is nail biting. Obviously remembering to take a towel to the shower block is pretty imperative, although it turns out that a top will do just as well to dry off. Also remembering to roll up your pyjama bottoms before entering the shower cubicle would make for a better start to the day; not a mistake that is made twice!

All that said, by Day 3 we were starting to get to grips with glamping and could happily have stayed for a few more days, so much so that we might even look at purchasing a proper tent next year.

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Handy Andy

This is my first blog post dedicated purely to my husband of nearly 10 years. I always said if he did anything blog worthy, I would write about it, so here goes…

I have always detested our downstairs cloakroom since we moved into our house 7 years ago. The yellow walls, the bright border, the blue suite and the worst offence, carpet tiles. Don’t get me wrong, they have their benefits, for example, they don’t show dirt, but toilets, carpet tiles and young children simply don’t mix.

I’m not sure what finally inspired Andy to crack on, perhaps the threat that I would do it myself and blog about it!

Really this post should have been written a few months ago, when the job was complete but much like my dear husband’s approach to DIY, I have put it off for one reason or another.

Anyway, here are some before and after pictures of his handy work. Another professional job well done.

Next on my list, finishing the kitchen woodwork (it’s only been 5 years since Andy put in the ‘new’ kitchen) and decorating the hallway. As you can see, Andy is very handy, when he has the time but as he’ll be forced to down tools until well after Christmas, I’m afraid I have taken the initiative and outsourced these jobs – another first in this household!

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All Aboard

I think it’s fair to say my in-laws have been planning what they would do in their retirement for some time. There had been talk of faraway holidays, a log cabin in the Lake District and buying a narrowboat. In the end, it was the narrowboat that won out and after 4 years of dreaming, 1 year since the commitment was made and 6 months since construction started, ‘Meladine’ was launched on a sunny August day at Stockton top lock (somewhere near Daventry).

See the moment it hit the water for the first time –

Andy and I and the children had never been on a narrowboat before so it was a first for us and we are hoping for new adventures on the English canals soon. One small snag; I hadn’t banked on sea sickness being an issue on a narrowboat. Travel bands and tablets will be at the ready for the next time we set sail!

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