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Archive for the ‘That was the month that I was…’ Category

Twigman and I spent the first few days of August being waited on hand and foot by the Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Kingsbridge in Devon, aka Ann and Philip.

Ann is my older and wiser sister. I would say big sister but, as I tower over her it’s probably not a good analogy to use.

It was the first time we’ve visited their new house, despite the fact that they’ve lived in Kingsbridge for over six years now. Within five minutes of arriving, after spending nearly four hours in the car, hitting traffic jam after traffic jam, we were sat on their balcony overlooking the estuary drinking a double G & T with ice and a slice. Now that’s my kind of welcome.

The couple are very active members of the local community. Phil has been the Mayor of Kingsbridge for over two years, so a quick trip into the town took over an hour because of the many people stopping us for a quick chat. After a hectic July eating and drinking we were hoping for a dry August. Maybe I should have mentioned this to Phil when we arrived because apart from the welcome G & T, we managed to get through several bottles of wine, champagne and Phil’s homemade speciality, Sloe Gin, circa 1975.

Ann herself says she’s very lucky to have had two very happy marriages. Ann met Phil a few years after Kevin, her husband of 25 years died, aged 52, from cancer. Phil’s wife had recently died from cancer too so, at least something good came out of something so tragic.

It was lovely to spend time with Ann. I was a babe in arms when Ann and Kevin got married so never had that special sisterly bond with her. It was a chance to talk about family memories and compare how different things had been for us both. The photo above is me with Ann and her youngest daughter Helen.

We spent a lovely relaxing few days being driven around the local area and, we only hit the odd traffic jam!

The middle of August is when the Greene team can usually be found dressing up for Goblet’s birthday celebrations. Last years theme was children’s cartoon characters, with Goblet pouring herself into pink lurex leggings for her Pink Panther impression.

Few can forget last year’s highlight of Twigman, dressed as Hong Kong Phooey, having a serious strop because no one was taking any notice of his quiz answers. You can’t really take anyone serious when they’re wearing socks as ears and your wife’s dyed red dressing gown!

This year for one reason or another, mainly the weather, we decided to have a smaller affair for Gob’s 22nd birthday.

Goblet aka Katie has now finished University and returned home after spending three years studying in Bristol. She’s clearly missing University life. The sleepy town of Andover doesn’t have quite the same draw as the bright lights of Bristol. It’s proving it to be a period of adjustment for all of us!

Goblet’s also missing her big sister Laura. They’re only 2 years 3 months apart in age and opposites in many ways but so alike in others. They have a very special bond with each other and I’m sure in years to come they’ll be sharing many a G & T at each others homes.

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The beginning of July was when I grunted and groaned my way around a field, with nine other mad fools, for the last time. My first Infin8pulse Bootcamp experience was sadly coming to an end. I was going to miss the last two sessions because of a trip Twigman and I were making to Scotland, with a brief stopover in Manchester first.

Early July, Goblet returned home from University along with her hundred and one boxes of junk collected from the last three years in Bristol. After an emergency trip to Ikea we now have a garage housing the last six years of every edition of Vogue, in monthly order. Seven boxes of clothes, shoes, belts and handbags were returned to their rightful place at Enham charity shop, some still had their original labels on.

Before we left for our trip north, Twigman and I took Goblet for a celebratory meal to Loch Fyne in Winchester. Her degree results were due first thing in the morning but a message had been up on the university site to say they’d be delayed. We had no doubt that the result would be a good one so celebrated anyway. Congratulations Gob, not only did you keep the West of England cider business going but you successfully achieved a 2.1 Fashion degree honours. Here’s to the start of the next chapter in your life.

As our trip north was going to be a hectic one and Pip was starting to adopt a routine, we made the decision to leave her behind. After all how hard can it be looking after a four month old puppy for a newly qualified graduate!

I’m sure when Gob first went off to Uni she didn’t foresee that three years later she’d spend her first week back home looking after a wilful puppy who is in need of an ASBO. As we headed up the motorway little did we know what tricks Pip had in store for Gob.

Our first stop was at my mum’s in Manchester. As we pulled up the drive the first thing we noticed was the lush green lawn. Twigman quickly reminded me that we were in Manchester, enough said.

Anyone who has read my blog before will know that at 87 my mum still manages to scrub up well. SJP look and learn.

After a far too brief visit to mum’s it was time to head further north to catch up with the Greene side of the family.

Unlike my family it’s the men that outnumber women in the Greene family. There are four boys, Martin, Howard, Steve and Twigman (aka Mark)

Steve and Alex have lived in St Andrews, ‘the home of golf’ for over 23 years. My kids have spent many a happy week with their cousins on the east coast of Scotland.

The Open golf championship comes to St Andrews every five years and like many other residents in the town they usually rent out their beautiful house for the duration of the championships for a large amount of money. And who wouldn’t?

Steve and Alex plan to retire in a few years time and the likelihood is that they’ll leave this fabulous house and move back down south to be nearer family. Because of this they decided to hold a party for family and friends to coincide with the tournament.

Twigman and I spent a fabulous week eating, drinking, chatting and singing with a great crowd of people. Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes we did manage to catch some golf.

Meanwhile, Goblet was at home having fun with an out of control pup. She claims it’s put her off children for a long time!

Once back home it was time to be reunited with my fellow Bootcampers for our feedback breakfast. This was where we found out how much progress we’ve made. We were all thrilled to hear that all the hard work had been worth it. We’d all improved not only our fitness, stamina and achieved our personal goals. As a reward we were given a special treat – a medal and a full English breakfast!

I can honestly say that despite the blood, sweat and very nearly tears I enjoyed every minute of the whole experience, well maybe not the wheelbarrow task. Not only have I made some great new friends I’ve realised I can push myself further than I thought I could. I also learnt, according to my fellow recruits anyway, I’m fun & flirty yet strong and determined. Anyone agree?

And, if I hadn’t spent the last weekend of the month at my sisters house in Devon drinking champagne, wine and sloe gin as well as stuffing my face with delicious food I might even have lost weight.

Thanks to everyone who made July a special month but I hope August is a dry one.

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June was the month that the sun finally decided to show its face. Before the month was out temperatures reached the high 20s, the perfect climate for running up and down hills and yomping around a field with a punch bag on my shoulders.

Early in the month, Twigman surprised me with a shopping trip to the city of dreaming spires, the historic Oxford. After giving the credit card a bashing we headed to Jamie’s Italian for an early dinner.

City of Dreaming Spires

Most women will agree that all that dressing, undressing and walking around in heels and carrying heavy bags is hard work, so when faced with the mouthwatering menu we were keen to give everything a try.

Jamie says, since being a teenager, he’s been passionate about food. Sod that, why waste all those early years, I’ve been passionate about food since I had teeth.

After several minutes of deliberating what to go for, or rather what to leave out, Twigman choose the sardines off the specials board. I plumped for the Smokey Mozzarella Arancini (crispy fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella and porcini mushrooms served with arrabiata dressing). Delectable!

Then we shared a small portion of wild garlic tagliatelle. I thought that next I should go for the healthy option and picked the ‘Fish in a bag’. Not the boil in the bag type meal that got foul mouthed Gordon Ramsay into trouble but, Jamie’s wild fish steamed in its own juices with clams, mussels, smashed fennel, chilli, anchovy with Sicilian scented cracked wheat. Twigman went for the belly pork which he assured me was delicious too.

We made the mistake of glancing down the list of desserts and despite both being full we felt it was rude not to try one of them. Eventually we reached a decision and ordered the chocolate rasberry and amaretto brownie with bourbon vanilla ice cream – to share. To DIE for!

TO DIE FOR

So now you know the reason why I need to get hot and sweaty with nine other fools, twice a week, while most other people are catching up on some zzzzzzzzz.

Fortunately our next destination was only a few doors down. Twigman had bought tickets to see one of his favourite song writers, Neil Finn, with reformed band, Crowded House. We rolled out the door and into our now very snug seats! Although the concert was more Twigman’s treat, it was a great concert with the band playing most of their hits. ‘Weather with you’ and ‘Don’t dream it’s over’ to name a few.

June was also the month when temperatures soared elsewhere

In the early hours of 21 June, a large fire broke out at a factory opposite where I work. Firefighters from Hampshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire were quickly on the scene. No other buildings were damaged and fortunately no one was hurt but the police and the fire service evacuated the area for 24 hours.

Being a member of the PR team, I spent the day at home working on my laptop, keeping everyone up to date with what was happening, from the comfort of my back garden.

When it was safe to return to work the view from my window had changed quite dramatically.

View from work

The Great Fire of Greenwich Way


New kid on the block

This month we welcomed a new member to team Greene.

Twigman sent me an email at work headed ‘I think I might have done something silly!!’ . “Oh god what now”, I thought as I opened it precariously.

Starring back at me was the cutest 12 week old puppy called Slip. She’d been rescued from being put down and was living with a foster family in Worthing. And so Slip, now renamed Pip, became the latest addition to the family.

Our Tom cat, Ripley, (as in Talented Mr Ripley) sulked for a few days but is now starting to come round to the idea that there’s another female in the house. With Goblet returning soon from University the females will once again rule.

Pip joins the team

Who needs Glastonbury?

Last weekend saw the start of the 40th Glastonbury festival. Ironically, in case of bad weather, I turned down the chance of going to the driest, hottest Glastonbury for many years!

Twigman and I decided we’d recreate our very own Glastonbury and sleep in a tent in our back garden. Yes this was a spur of the moment decision and yes drink was involved.

Sat under canvas with man and dog, reading the Saturday morning papers was lovely and a 50 yard dash to the loo was a lot easier than squatting in a bush or hoovering over a portaloo.

However, I need to be careful. Years ago when we owned a Cairn Terrier called Harry the green eyed monster in me would occasionally rear its ugly head. When Twigman returned from a day at work, as soon as I heard the car in the driveway Harry was quickly ushered into the kitchen and the door shut. I was going to make sure I was first in the queue to have my tummy tickled!

The occasional shower
June was also the month when the country’s hopes were well and truly dashed by our boys in South Africa. I don’t want to comment too much about the World Cup, it started badly and ended badly. However, I do disagree with some of the posts I’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter etc comparing the England team with the soldiers returning from Afghanistan in coffins.

Yes they let us down and yes they’re extremely overpaid and some have egos bigger than their pay packets. But, it’s an insult to the young men and women fighting overseas to even compare them to petulant men who argue and sulk at the slightest thing.

I don’t care what Bill Shankley said, football is only a game, a game where 22 men run around a field with the aim to get more balls in the net than the other team. End of.

It would have been very interesting if things had turned out differently and they’d come home with the gold Jules Rimet trophy. How many people would have hailed them as the conquering heroes and said they were worth every penny?

And so I don’t end on a serious note, I’d recommend to anyone who owns an iPhone to download the application Fatbooth. I’ve seen the future and it’s not good so tomorrow morning I’ll be putting an extra effort into my boot camp session.

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I turned Orange!!!

My youngest offspring began his last year as a teenager on the same day the family came together to celebrate the wedding of Rachel & Paul. I’m not sure how much of his birthday he’ll remember; he was last to bed and last one up the following morning!

When everyone else was nursing a hangover, I was saying goodbye to Twigman at Manchester International airport. He was catching a short flight to London and then on to Chicago for work. Thank God for Paula who lent me her SatNav or I’m sure I’d still be driving around the Cheshire countryside.

Three days later, when the UK was waking up to the confusion of what a hung parliament had in store, I was waiting to catch a flight across the Atlantic to meet up with Twigman in San Francisco. What was meant to be an 11 hour flight turned out to be 14 hours, thanks to a certain ash cloud.

We were spending three days with our friends Richard and Leslie who’d recently moved from the east coast of the US to the west coast, not far from San Francisco.

After being spoilt rotten for three days by our lovely hosts, Twigman and I flew to Las Vegas. Unfortunately the flight over from London had aggravated a cough I thought I’d left behind in the UK. No such luck. I spent the whole 10 days coughing and spluttering.

The Greene team had briefly visited Vegas on a family holiday around California six years ago. It was everyone’s least favourite place of the whole trip, and despite staying in the fantastic Encore hotel, the sister to the impressive Wynn Hotel where Katie Price became Katie Reid, I still hated Vegas and was relieved to return to Richard and Leslie’s home in Rockridge.

By the end of our holiday, the ash cloud returned and it was touch and go whether we were going to get back to the UK in time for Goblet’s final show. We had missed her Foundation degree show three years ago due being on holiday, so ash cloud or no ash cloud, we wouldn’t be forgiven if we missed this one. Three years spent studying Fashion at Bristol University, and consuming gallons of West Country cider, was nearing the end. Well done Gob, we’re all extremely proud of you. I for one owe you an apology; you’ve obviously been doing more than gluing and sticking for the last three years.

After looking at my holiday photos I decided enough was enough. I needed a large kick up my even larger arse, so enlisted on an eight week early morning Bootcamp with Sgt T Gentlemen at Infin8pulse. Don’t be fooled by that cheesy grin. He takes no prisoners. I’ve survived Week one and am looking forward to my body being transformed into this. No pressure Tommy.

May 28th, it was finally time to find out what Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte have been up to since we last saw them in 2008. The long awaited sequel to Sex and the City was for me a bit of a let down. Yes there were some funny one liners, mainly from menopausal sex mad Samantha, but the plot was weak. All four ladies looked like they needed some meat inside them especially SJP who instead of worrying about getting some lip action from Mr Big she should have been getting her chops around a few Big Mac’s.

Looking forward to….

To say Twigman is getting excited about the World Cup 2010 is an understatement. The last few days I’ve been woken up by the official England World Cup song from 1990, World in Motion.

On 16 June, Marie Spanswick and I will have our fingers and toes crossed at the CIPR Excellence awards.

Here’s to a glorious June

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This month I have been…..

Writing my blogs, something I’ve only recently started. I’ve had some lovely comments and my favourite so far is one I wrote for Tara Cain’s Gallery this week about my mum.

I’ve also been following some great (and very talented) people via Twitter, including Englishmum and RosieScribble who gave me permission to copy their idea of doing a monthly round up.

Reading Juliet, Naked.

Last year I started a book club with a small group of friends, mainly women and one token male. The last few book choices have been hard going so Andover Trotter decided this month we needed some light reading and chose Nick Hornby’s latest book. Previous books have split the group and this was the first book we all agreed on. It was OK. An overall score of 4 out of 10.

Watching 50 year old Lee Pearson run in the London Marathon. For several months, Lee’s been pounding the pavements while most of us have still been in bed asleep. He finished a very respectable time under 4 hours. Well done Lee.

Picnicing on Clapham Common with Twigman and daughter no.1.

This was the first time we’ve stayed over at one of our children’s homes. It was a really lovely weekend and made me realise that all of a sudden my little girl has gone and grown up.

Loving the sunshine.

The weather this month has been great. I love April, everything in the garden starts to bloom and the evenings are lighter for Twigman and I to enjoy long walks in the Hampshire countryside.

Looking forward to

My baby boy turning 19 on Monday. Ben, love you lots and wish you a very happy last year as a teenager.xx

AND…..

the family getting together for Rachel & Paul’s big day on Monday 3 May. They’ve been together since Rachel was 16, nearly 10 years! I think Paul obviously needed some time to think about whether he was ready to join the Courtney clan. The day after the wedding, Twigman is heading off to Chicago for work.

On Thursday Marie Spanswick and I will be at the CIPR headquarters in London for a 20 minute grilling. Our annual report -That was the year that was…has been shortlisted in the CIPR 2010 Excellence awards. We’re up against some big boys and hoping it will be the Hurt Locker against Avatar.

Friday I’ll be taking a 12 hour flight across the Atlantic to join Twigman in San Francisco.

Here’s to an exciting May

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