Saturday, 22 January 2011

January - and it's not even over

As we were leaving the supermarket today I noticed that they had a board in the entrance saying Happy New Year. 'New Year' I said in exclamation - was it really not long ago? To me it feels as though it's been several months since Christmas. Apart from a couple of days each week I've not worked much for the company so far in January so I've had a chance to do a number of other things.

Already this month we've completely rearranged the loft (if you'd seen the state of it before we started you'd realise this was not a small task) - every box up there now has a contents list in excel so if I want to find something I have only to search the file instead of sending Ian up to the cold and dark with instructions like 'it's probably in a medium-sized plastic box near the hatch that you'll see also has a little toy badger in, but on the other hand it might be in a small cardboard box that looks like a dozen other boxes at the back of the loft somewhere...'. As well as the sorting out in the loft I've been going through my paperwork in the study and spare room. We have a deep filing cabinet and I've reached the back of my drawers for the first time in at least a year.

The spare room is now full of all sorts of things that I want to get rid of - old cd cases, the cds having been stored in albums to save space, books, clothes, videos and all sorts of nicknacks. When I'm able to find the study floor again from all the things I'm sorting through then I'll bring some larger items down from the loft to photograph them for freecycle.

Much of my time has been spent scanning - often simply photographs (those of the Mason, Elliott and Edwards families), but I've also been scanning important documents and various other sentimental things. In a few weeks there'll be nothing left in the house to scan, apart from several hundred slides (I started that sentence so confidently, but then remembered the boxes sitting on top of the wardrobe in the spare room - aaah well!)

Our company accounts are due in March and after finally deciding that this was not something I was ever going to be interested in understanding we hired an accountant this week. It turns out that hiring an accountant to do all the work for you requires you to do a lot of work first (even if your financial transactions have been relatively simple) - there's all sorts of information and documents that they need that only I have access to. Luckily I managed to anticipate everything our accountant could possibly want on our first meeting and we even took our passports after seeing on someone else's website that they can't do anything until they can confirm your identity.

The wedding plans haven't got as far as I would have liked (I know, I know - 'where's my invitation' you're asking), but I did choose and order a wedding dress, order the bridesmaid dress and I think we've found a photographer. We chickened out of going to a wedding fair in Torquay due to some very blustery weather last weekend (the fair was right on the seafront), but there's another one in Exeter in a couple of weeks so hopefully that will help with the suits if nothing else. By the end of the month I'm hoping to have discussed the menu with Otterton Mill and sent out the invitations. We've also decided that we'll probably be honeymooning around February of 2012 because the wet monsoon season (as opposed to the dry monsoon season - the monsoons last all year) in the Maldives will have already begun before we get married and will last until December.

This year I've been determined to remember to plant my seeds at the right time (even with our warm Devon weather we've left it too late with our peppers, aubergines, squashes and pumpkins every year so far). The chillis were planted on New Years Eve and now they've been joined by cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and cape gooseberries. We have propagators on both kitchen windowsills now and they really are wonderful.

In a couple of weeks we'll be planting the pumpkin, melon and marrow seeds. I've always wanted to grow a marrow!

It's only been three weeks since New Year and yet I'm pretty sure that if I'd been working for the University it would have taken me around 8 months to do all the sorting and scanning I've done so far this year. I expect to be starting a new contract full-time in February, but in the next break between contracts we'll begin sorting Ian's parents paperwork. I have no doubt that we will both be experts on hovercraft by the time we're finished (Martin Elliott worked in hovercraft design).

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Mason family photo album

On Christmas Day John Mason (Ian's grandad) showed us one of the old family photo albums. All the photographs had long since lost whatever was sticking them to the pages so we offered to bring the album back to Exeter and stick them all back in again. Before sticking them in I scanned them. 99% of them are not dated and most will be impossible to date, but at least John was able to identify most of the people. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

Seaton Hall, where John and his siblings grew up:

Five of the Mason siblings at Richard's wedding. From left to right: Tom Tyson (the bride's brother), Mary Mason, William Mason, Annie Mason, Richard Mason, Dorothy Mason (nee Tyson), unknown Tyson, John Mason:

Wrestling was a big thing in the Mason family and recently the family were asked if the local Wrestling club could present a Mason cup to the winner of an annual event (I'm not sure of the details). Another of John's brothers - Thomas (Tucker) Mason holding the cups he won:

John Mason, aged about 18 "tossing the sheaf". The ladder (used to tell how high the sheaf had gone in the air) was 30 foot long. The sheaf was dropped in the river before each toss to make it heavier:

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Boxing Day 2010

Boxing Day morning was the first time we'd seen Formby in the light so I took some photos before we left for the Wirral:

About to set off again:

Upon arrival at the Willows we all opened our Christmas presents:

We then had a lovely lunch and catch up on news before starting our final journey back to Devon in the afternoon.

A big thank you to everyone we visited over the Christmas period for their wonderful company and of course for our presents.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Christmas Day 2010

We awoke in Formby and opened our presents at around 7 am.

Despite Mum's builder having the spare back door key (and there's no way round from the front) Ian still managed to feed the hungry birds by climbing out of the kitchen window and by 8 am we were on the road again.

It was still dark, but I got a couple of photographs before I got into the car to show how snowy Formby was.

These are icicles hanging on the rose next to the front door.

Cumbria wasn't as snowy as we thought it would be, but it made the drive to Millom easy. The Duddon river was mostly iced over and we were lucky enough to see a heron when we stopped to take some photos.

Upon arrival in Cumbria we cooked Christmas dinner. Acorn the guinea pig had some carrot while we were preparing the vegetables:

The excitement was too much for Leona:

After Christmas lunch we exchanged presents and Leona opened her first ever Christmas presents with a little help from Dewi

In the evening Ian and I headed back to Formby:

The Journey North - Christmas Eve 2010

I'm a bit behind with blogging, but shall post some photos from our Christmas adventures over the next couple of days.

Our first trip was to Formby on Christmas Eve. We were pleasantly surprised to find the roads passable (though Formby hadn't been gritted) and very few accidents to have occurred on our route that day.

As usual we stopped at Stafford North services. The lake was frozen with the exception of a small pool in the centre which had been kept free of ice by the fountain.

These icicles in either Thornton or Netherton (can't remember where I took them) are the longest I've ever seen:

The fields next to the Formby bypass looked like something out of a Narnia film: