Can females get man flu?

…If so I definitely had it this week.

It started last Friday afternoon with a really annoying cough.  No matter how much I coughed, I could still feel something in my throat, like there was something permanently lodged in there.  I headed out on a seven mile trail run with a friend in the evening, returning to a slow cooker casserole I’d popped in earlier in the day.  The run was fine, but I couldn’t finish my meal at the table and had to keep taking breaks in between mouthfuls whilst lying down on the sofa.  Not the best of signs for a good weekend ahead, and we were due to head up North to Huddersfield to visit our friends Stew and Julie the following morning.

Upon waking on Saturday morning, the cough seemed to have worsened, so I forwent the easy run I had planned before leaving for our trip.  Dan offered to drive the three hour journey, and I took a couple of little snoozes in the passenger seat on the way up there.  (Life is great as passenger!)

The boys had planned to head off to watch the footy (Wolves were playing in Huddersfield last Saturday – the real reason we took our long-overdue trip last weekend!) and so Julie and I headed in to town to paint some pottery, a recent addiction Julie confessed to having!

Initially we had planned to head outdoors to a local nature walk place with our cameras, but as the weather was so poor (it literally rained for our entire visit!) an inside plan was made instead.  I wasn’t prepared with an idea for painting, but luckily I could get some signal on my phone in the pottery shop, and turned to Pinterest for some inspiration, settling on painting a watermelon bowl for my breakfasts.

Painted watermelon pottery bowlAs Julie pointed out, I was all set then for future visits with an orange, kiwi, and every other type of fruit bowl still to be painted!

Painted watermelon pottery bowl

We headed out for dinner to a Mediterranean restaurant in the evening.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to eat three courses in a very long while.  We all left feeling absolutely stuffed though, and I took no photos of the delicious food.  :(  Bad blogger!

When I woke up on Sunday I was no longer able to talk.  I’d lost my voice completely.  :(  It came back in patches throughout the day though.  Julie already had plans for the day, so Stew had planned a surprise activity for Dan and I, the only clue being that he ‘hoped we weren’t claustrophobic’!  Luckily, neither of us were, and we were perfectly comfortable travelling down into one of the local mines in the area.  I’m not sure I would have felt quite so comfortable had the activity been crawling through caves though!

Dan and I didn’t arrive back to Northamptonshire until late so arranged for a takeaway to be delivered upon our arrival just after 7pm.  Once again though, I had to take small breaks between mouthfuls whilst lying on the sofa.  My energy was wiped and my cough was getting worse.  I dipped in and out of schoolwork whilst lying on the sofa, finally waking at 6am on Monday morning (still on the sofa!) once again with no voice, and feeling absolutely awful.  I didn’t go into work and the day was spent dozing in-between episodes of Dexter on Netflix.  I was in a vicious cycle of not having enough energy to head to the kitchen and prepare any food, but food might have given me the energy boost which I needed to get by.

I was feeling marginally better by Tuesday, so made the decision to head back into school on Wednesday.  I was incredibly weak though, and could not stand for very long at all.  I only went back purely to try and build some strength up for parent’s evening the following night, where I was in school from 7am until nearly 8pm!

I was very lucky as Bella has looked after me during the days this week, and Dan the nights.  Bella didn’t leave my side and kept me entertained with a variety of random positions!

Bella asleep on Dan's lapBella asleep on Dan's lap

I didn’t get any runs in though and eating was a selection of oven-food which Dan threw together for us after work each evening.  I managed to knock back quite a few cartons of orange juice for a Vitamin C hit though.  I’m still not 100%, but I did manage to slot in a parkrun yesterday and a very short, easy run this afternoon.  Being ill all week had really taken it out of me though and even though both runs were incredibly short, I was ready for them to be over by the time I arrived back home again.

My running just isn’t going to plan so far this year!

When was the last time you had ‘man flu’?!
What do you do to try and aid recovery when you are sick?

Don’t eat those sprinkles!

The weekend before last, Dan and I headed back to Norfolk on Friday night.  One of my best friends, Hollie, is pregnant with her second child and was holding a baby shower back in my hometown.

As Dan wasn’t invited, he headed out with another friend for a day of bowling and snooker, whilst I met the other girls at 9:30am at The Clay Barn, in Brisley.

Hollie is a big fan of The Clay Barn, and not only did we head there for her first baby shower four years ago, but she regularly takes her son there for all of the events that the put on throughout the year.

We were there for just short of three hours in the morning, and during that time we could choose as many of the pieces of pottery from around the room as we liked to take with us back to the main table where we could paint them.  It really is a treasure trove in the barn – there are cupboards filled with pottery, just ready to be painted and brought to life.

The Clay Barn, Brisley

When I attended Hollie’s last baby shower I had just recently moved into my first house, which had been without a house sign, so I decided to paint a personalised one for the front of the house.  Having recently moved again, I was planning to do something similar this time.

When we arrived, alongside the pottery we were told that we would also be able to have a go at glass fusion.  The example glass fusion pieces looked really good and so I decided to have a go at making some glass decorations for our Christmas tree instead.  In our old house we didn’t have a lot of room for a tree, but the lounge in our new house is much bigger and I’m so excited to be getting a real tree for the first time since leaving home this Christmas!

The lady from the barn showed us all how to score and cut the glass to the shapes that we wanted and how to consider layering the glass so that the glass would blend together once heated.  A couple of the other girls made an entire set of four Christmas coasters, which came out really well.  It was all about the Christmas decorations for me though, and I decided to follow a photograph of a glass penguin decoration that had been made previously to help me to create my own.

Glass Christmas decoration - penguin

I was pretty happy with how it came out!  You needed to be quite strong to break the glass with the tools, and despite not believing that I have particularly strong muscles in my arms/upper body, clearly my friends don’t either, because I became the ‘cutter’ for a few people in the group!

The different types of glass had misleading names – confetti, spaghetti, sprinkles…luckily we resisted eating or throwing any of them…might not have had such a good day had we done so!  Because we had to keep putting our hands into the pots of glass off-cuts, we were strongly advised to wear gloves, which protected our hands from the sharp edges.  Why is it that when you’re told not to touch your face, that all you can think about is how much you need to itch your face?!

Glass Christmas coasters - tree

After finishing my penguin decoration, I bent some wire between the layers, so that I could use this to hang the decoration on the tree.  Everyone else was still painting/glass making so I decided to try and sketch out a design for a similar Santa decoration to hang from the tree.  Seeing as this one was designed all by myself, I’m quite happy with how it turned out!

Glass Christmas decoration - Santa

As well as painting and glassmaking, the lady at the barn had organised some traditional baby shower games for us, such as guessing how big Hollie’s bump was (I guessed about an inch too large – sorry Hol!), smell the nappy and refraining from using the word ‘baby’ whilst we were there, otherwise we had to put a donation into the duck money box that we all decorated for the baby.

Making glass tree decorations


Some of the others painted and made some fantastic pieces, mainly focusing on a Christmas theme!

Christmas painted bauble

We then made our way to Q’s in Fakenham for dinner (this is also where we went on my hen do last year) where I enjoyed a goat’s cheese salad for lunch.

Goat's cheese salad from Q's, FakenhamI had only ordered the starter portion, but as we had pre-ordered, Hollie had assumed that I’d wanted the main dish when she rang the orders through.  It was massive.  So massive in fact, that I had no room left for dessert.  It was worth it though for this beauty!

More games followed back at Hol’s house.  Because her baby is due so close to Christmas, she has already gotten super organised and had her tree up with presents underneath.  I must admit, it was the first time this year that I started to feel a little Christmassy!

Have you been to a baby shower before?  If so, what games have you played?
Have you ever tried glass fusion?
Are you a crafty person?

Crafty Christmas

The last few weeks I’ve settled into a routine of Wake up (reluctantly)  >>  Shower  >> Feed the cat  >>  Firewood in  >>  Get ready for school  >>  Commute  >>  Teach all day  >>  Mark  >>  Travel to running  >>  Run  >>  Travel home  >>  Cook tea  >>  Eat tea  >> Plan lessons  >>  SLEEP.

I’m pretty sure that this pattern will continue for the remaining fortnight of term but then I can look forward to two glorious weeks off over Christmas.  The way that Christmas has fallen this year means that Dan will also have a fortnight off from work and we are looking forward to actually seeing some of each other as we have done very little of that since returning from honeymoon at the end of August!  This year really has been a rollercoaster!

I also feel like I haven’t had much of a chance to write posts or catch up on blog reading just lately but I’m hoping to fit some of that in this Sunday in between the writing of my Key Stage Three reports from one school and marking four classes of year 10 coursework from the other school.

I am at work this morning as our school is holding a Christmas Craft Fair.  I designed and had a banner printed up in the week and have been helping with other people’s Christmassy bits whenever I’ve had a spare moment.  Last week it was painting North Pole animals.  This week I was helping create some Reindeer hot chocolate sachets…

Rudolph Christmas hot chocolate pouchesI wish I could take credit for these but it is the Business Studies teacher who sussed out how to make them from looking through other craft ideas online.

Rudolph Christmas hot chocolate pouches - ribbon

Take one large pot of hot chocolate…
…a bag of chocolate chips…
…some tiny marshmallows…
…several pipecleaners (preferably black or brown)…
…some red ribbon…
…some googley eyes…
…a handful of red pompoms…
…small bags…
…and some circles of card.Rudolph Christmas hot chocolate pouches

Pour a serving of hot chocolate into a bag and seal.  If you don’t add the hot chocolate into it’s own separate bag the hot chocolate powder mixes with the chocolate chips and marshmallows and looks all messy.
Place the hot chocolate bag inside another bag and top with a small amount of chocolate chips, followed my marshmallows.
Print out some instructions onto card and hole-punch at the top of each set of instructions.
Thread the card with a ribbon and then tie the top of the bag tightly with the ribbon.
Twist the pipe-cleaners around the top of the bag to look like antlers.
Stick two googley eyes and a bright red pompom for the nose in place on the bag.

Rudolph Christmas hot chocolate pouches - pompomsRudolph Christmas hot chocolate pouches

Monday was the first of December (can’t believe 2014 is nearly over already!) and time to get the advent calendars out.  A few weeks back I spotted a fantastic idea on a blog (I’m afraid I can’t remember which one!) to use a crate of beer as an advent calendar…For five or six years now Dan and I have put together chocolates/sweets ourselves for each other’s advent calendars for a more personal touch.  Once I spotted this idea I knew it would be the perfect variation on Dan’s advent calendar for this year.

Christmas beer advent calendarI struggled to find a case of 24 beers, so ended up with two Christmassy crates of 12 instead but I’m sure Dan wasn’t too worried about that!Christmas beer advent calendarFor my advent calendar Dan pulled down the large Santa topped stocking from the top cupboard in our bedroom and filled it with Christmas tree decoration treats.

Christmas advent calendar

So I’ve been enjoying a chocolaty treat every morning this week!  :)Christmas advent calendar

Do you have an advent calendar this year?
Do you make many gifts yourself at Christmas?

Another hen

How have I fallen so far behind with blogging and documenting my August?!  It was such a busy month and so much happened!  This week has been another busy one and once again I feel so far behind on my blog reading!  This weekend I was at the hen do of one of my best friends, Zoë.

Zoe's hen do banner

On the Thursday I had spent the day in Norwich, bridesmaid dress hunting for my friend Vicki’s wedding before heading back to Northamptonshire for the evening.  Friday morning was an early wakeup call before heading back to Norfolk again to prepare for Zoë’s hen do.

She had not chosen a Maid of Honour so her other three bridesmaids and I had worked on the plans for the weekend together over the past couple of months.  I was the main driver for the weekend so left at 7:45am on Saturday to collect people, including the Bride-to-be.  We took a mystery tour to her sister’s house, where we all made our own perfume and some bird bunting for Zo to keep.

Making bunting at Zoe's hen do


Some of the perfumes were better than others…

Perfume making at Zoe's hen do

After a very quick afternoon tea style lunch we all piled back into the car and headed to Thetford where we went quad biking.  I had been quite looking forward to the quad biking but unfortunately our party was split into two and we had an incredibly slow rider in our group.  I’m not lying when I say that I could have walked quicker than we were going.  I cast lots of envious looks at the other group launching off of hill jumps and speeding off a lot quicker than we were.  I wish instead of paying my £46 I had taken my camera out on foot to take photos of everyone on the quads as before we began we had been advised not to take cameras out to the tracks on the bikes.  Oh well, I shall have to ensure I go again at some point!  It did give a great workout for my arms though as the bikes were so heavy to turn, especially as in our group we were barely moving whilst trying to turn.

When we arrived back at the quad biking base, Amanda (one of the other bridesmaids) and I handed Zo a Ironman mask (big fan) and told her to face forward for a photo whilst everyone else pulled out their Steven-masks (her fiancé).

Zoe's hen do out on the quad bikes with masks on

It was pretty funny when she turned around!Zoe's hen do out on the quad bikes with masks on

After quad biking we hung out at Zo’s for a while and got ready to head out for a meal at The Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham.

Zoe's hen do at The Dabbling Duck

The food was lovely there although there was only one vegetarian option and it didn’t appeal to me so I went for two sides; a heritage tomato salad and Norfolk peer potatoes with spiced butter.Hollie and her burger at The Dabbling Duck

When the desserts came out, even the waiters had gotten into the spirit of the hen do!
Penis dessert at The Dabbling DuckWe ended up not getting to bed until about 2am and I was exhausted by morning when we woke at 6:30am!  The plan for Sunday was to go crabbing on Wells quay, and we caught several crabs with our lines and bacon before returning the crabs, giving our remaining bacon to the children crabbing next to us and grabbing an icecream whilst going for a walk along the seafront.

Crabbing at Wells beach Crabbing at Wells beach It was such a beautiful day on Sunday and we were so lucky with the weather.Wells beach

Have you ever been crabbing?
How often do you go to the beach?  I used to go at least once a week when I lived in Norfolk and it’s one of the things I miss most now that we live in the Midlands.

I discovered that the problem I was having with the images on the blog earlier in the week was in fact, as I first thought, that I had run out of space.  The upgrade to my account hadn’t yet been processed and was still in a queue, so image uploading is working again now thankfully!