30 June 2010

My kinda town Chicago is.....

yes we are back from our travels, and what fun we had, amazing what you can pack into 4 days -

Arrived Thursday afternoon, after negotiating the traffic on the I90 and finding our way into downtown Chicago with the help of Mabel (GPS more about her later) we freshened up and went in search of Dick's Last Resort a bar/restaurant that had been recommended by our youngest.  Suitably refreshed and filled up we had an early night - well by local time it was early but by UK time it about 3am!

Friday - we awoke to the early dawn 4:40 local, toss and turned for a bit then gave in and had coffee and read our books.  We decided to hunt out Lou Mitchell's for breakfast.  Lou Mitchell's is a diner on the start of Route 66, we had a plate of fluffy pancakes each, pecan for me, banana for Peter, chased down by freshly squeezed orange juice and plenty of coffee. We then took a look round Union Street Station, for the architecture, The French Market - they obviously don't know what a French Market looks like!  Then wandered back to the river and booked a river and lake tour - 90 mins out on the lake and along the river, with lots of history thrown in by our tour guide - the lovely Jeremy, very camp, we actually thought he was a rather large women at first, sorry Jeremy!  He was very funny and very knowledgeable, I enjoyed it immensely but Peter felt sick, now usually its me that does sick!  Once off the boat and with a bit of shade and some water he felt better so we headed of to Millennium Park to sample the Taste of Chicago, a month long festival (free) of food and entertainment.  To say there were lots of people would be an understatement, but we found ourselves a place in the shade and watched some bands, eat red bean, rice and jerk chicken, guacamole and tortillas and a few beers. A walk back through the park. Thus ended the first full day.

Saturday - we were woken early by what sounded like someone moving industrial sized wheelie bins, but as we were on the 26th floor its was highly unlikely we would hear this. It turned out to be a tremendous thunder and lightening storm. The thunder was rolling around the sky scrappers, lightening bouncing off the glass, great sight but lots of rain too, didn't bode well for the Crossroads Festival!  By the time we were ready to leave the hotel a few hours later the sun was out, forecast promising more storms for later in the day and temperatures up to 100F, phew...  Anyway we plugged Mabel is - remember Mabel the GPS, now we are map people don't do technology, but as Chicago is so big and we decided to trust in technology, big mistake.  We planned to visit Target and Walmart on route to the concert, so having sourced the addresses we typed them in to Mabel, so far so good, she got us there, result.  Shopped and breakfasted, we decided to head on over to Toyota Park, now this wasn't too far from the shops according to the map, so we typed in the address and followed directions, after driving for about 10 mins I started to feel a bit panicked, it didn't look this far on the map, so I got Peter to pull over, we rechecked the address and added Bridgeview rather than Chicago, she recalculated and 30 mins later we were finally at our destination.  Goodness knows where she would have taken us, but our faith was shaken in her ability, ok possibly some operator error too.

Me with my $8 bottle of beer

Peter stunned by the cost of the water $5 for a 20oz bottle

The Crossroads Festival 2010 was brilliant, the following artists played -  Albert Lee, BB King, Bert Jansch, Buddy Guy, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Earl Klugh, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Hubert Sumlin, James Burton, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Johnny Winter, Jonny Lang, Keb' Mo', Pino Daniele, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, Ronnie Wood, Sheryl Crow, Susan Tedeschi, Sonny Landreth, Stefan Grossman, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, and ZZ Top.

The temperature hit the 100F, it was hot, very hot! No shade as we were on the field and the cost of keeping hydrated was ridiculous $5 for water, $8-$13 for beer, people were passing out from the heat, those costs were just sheer greed on the behalf of the caterers.  The day however was worth it and the rain held off, we got a bit sun burnt even though we had plenty of suncream.  I think it was on par with the 1st Crossroads Festival which we attended in Dallas in 2004.

Sunday - Sunday was the day I met with Susan aka droppedstitch2 from Ravelry. What is Ravelry? Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. The content is all user-driven; we as a community make the site what it is. Ravelry is a great place for you to keep notes about your projects, see what other people are making, find the perfect pattern and connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world in our forums. 

Anyway, I 'met' Susan on the Grandmas Hand group, she lives in Chicago and we decided it would be fun to meet up and spend some time together, she took me to her local yarn shop - Loopy Yarns where I was amazed by the choice and variety of yarns on offer, it was so hard to resist, but managed to limit myself to 3 different lots - see below. After the yarn shop we went for some lunch and chatted like we'd known one another forever.  We took a trip on the EL and Susan showed me some of the local sites, Chinatown, the White Soxs Stadium, the time went so fast and before we knew it was 4:30 so we went back to the hotel where we continued to chat until Susan's lift arrived to take her home.  It was a great day and I really appreciate Susan taking the time to meet me and show me around. Peter spent the day, eating and poking around the book shops and generally amusing himself, funny but he didn't fancy a trip to the yarn shop, I wonder why?

Sunday evening we decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner, we headed to McCormick & Schmicks on Wacker Drive - seafood restaurant and we weren't disappointed, such a lovely meal and a very friendly and knowledgeable waiter.  I started with chilled Avocado soup, topped with scallops, blue crab and prawns, followed by Wild Fish Platter - salmon, crab cakes and king prawns, followed by Baked Vanilla Cheesecake.  Peter had Oyster Platter 4 different types of oysters, followed by Scallops on a bed of risotto, followed by Creme Brulee, all this washed down with a large G&T to start and a good bottle of wine and coffee.  We waddled back to the hotel.

Monday - was a funny day, we didn't have a full day as the car had to be back at the rental place for 1pm, so we had a stroll along Navy Pier, went for a late breakfast, sushi in Nordstroms, popped back to the hotel to check in online for the flight and generally fiddled about. We decided we would go to Target en-route to the airport, tapped in the address to Mabel and pulled out of the car park, immediately she lost satellite reception, not helpful, so we decided to wing it, the reception on Mabel kept popping in and out, meaning that she'd set us off in one direction and then pack up again, got cross with us, to say it was tense was an understatement, by more luck than judegment we got out of downtown Chicago and onto the freeway. Target shopping done, car dropped off and finally through the airport security, that was another story, hideous. Lots of waiting around, a long boring flight, did watch a good film - The Brothers and managed a bit of sleep.  Arrived back in the UK, it was raining, the M25 was full and slow, so whats new.

A good break, lots done and it did feel like we'd been away longer than 4 days.

21 June 2010

Milestones ......

On Friday our eldest daughter reached a major milestone in her life, she became a mother, a pretty big milestone you have to admit. It left me thinking about all the milestones we go through in our lives.

When a baby is born it is attached to you literally and with the cutting of that cord you set your child off on life’s journey. In the early days the milestones are many. First smile, tooth, word, walk, you get the idea. Then comes playgroup, the first time they really spend time apart from you and then school, you encourage and look forward to each milestone, the successes and failures.

Then comes University, when they really start to fly the nest, whilst they are still dependent on you financially they are spreading their wings. Yes, there are weekend’s home with that bag full of dirty washing and the empty cake tin, departing again on the Sunday with a bag of clean clothes, a full tin and a bag of groceries.

Next comes work and moving away from home, still dependant to a certain extent, “Mum, Dad can you come a help with XYZ”!

Then comes the day when your husband hands your daughter over to her chosen partner in marriage, you feel those bonds slipping; someone else is responsible for her now.

And then finally she has her baby, they become a family, the circle is complete. Your family is bigger, but your nest feels decidedly emptier. We are grandparents, it’s a strange feeling, my husband woke this morning and said we have a grandson. I hope this little boy brings his parents as much joy as his mother and her sister have done for us.

A final word – Mum I now understand how you feel.

20 June 2010

Happy Father's Day

The new family


Mummy Jones

Daddy Jones

Granny Sue

Aunty Rachel

Rufus - can't stop looking at this little man xx

19 June 2010

Here at last and welcome to the world

I am pleased to announce that our 1st grandchild - Rufus Anthony Jones, was born on 18 June 2010 at 19:50 weighing in at 8lbs 4oz.  He finally came into the world by ceasarean section, details of the day aren't mine to recount but I'm sure when Beck is able she will update her blog so check that out later. 

All I would like to say is a BIG thank you to Beck and Tim for letting me share what is a very personal time, I am greatly honoured, even if I couldn't be there when Rufus was born, but 30 mins after was good enough, even got to put on the first nappy. 

Well done to Beck, you did a wonderful job I'm so proud of you, Tim so glad you went with Beck, I'm sure you would have regretted it if you hadn't, and thank you both for our beautiful, handsome grandson.  Pops (Peter) is over the moon and mightily relieved it was a long day for him too, especially not knowing what was going on.

Love you all - Granny Sue x

17 June 2010

Playing the waiting game....

I like to be punctual. I hate to be kept waiting, its just bad manners, so waiting for this baby is really trying. I think its the not knowing which is the problem. I shall have to have words when it finally gets here. The other problem I have is that we go to Chicago on the 24th and time is running away with us, the youngest daughter had volunteered to go in my place. I rang Virgin yesterday and apparently this late in the game it is deemed a cancellation so the full cost of the holiday would be charged for the name change!! I hate the thought of not being around when my first grandchild is born, so please Baby Jones put in an appearance soon.

13 June 2010

Sunday evening.........

another weekend almost over and people still no news for you. 

The Poles sorted the wall, I didn't glare, I made coffee and we chatted, they were very nice, kept saying how sorry they were, ah bless.  They even turned up yesterday evening bearing gifts, a bottle of single malt whisky and a large box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, there was no need but it was very kind of them -  the motorcycle was written off by the way.

We have spent the day gardening, I have a sun-kissed face aka red, bites on my ankle and feel generally stiff and grubby so off for a bath now.

Maybe I will have news tomorrow, but please don't hold your breathe............

12 June 2010

Saturday morning........

and for those of you that said Baby Jones would come on Friday, well you were wrong, me included! Lets see if the people that suggested changes in the moon would bring it today will be right.

The Poles have arrived bright and early and are taking down the wonky wall, lets hope they put it back straight this time.  Peter has conveniently gone out so left me to have words.  Trouble is they are so nice I find myself apologising for the incovenience, when really its "well you knocked it down in the first place so we really only want it put back like it was". Guess I was just bought up to be polite.

Going to visit the parents-in-waiting this afternoon to take them some plants for their garden and to help relieve the boredom of waiting.

Ethereal waistcoat is now finished and blocking, so when its dry I'll photograph it and post, so pleased with it I'm making myself another one in a soft heather colour.  Not often I knit for me, but I won't start it until I have the Sands Appeal blanket finished.

Right off the glare through the window at the workers......................... and maybe offer them a coffee

11 June 2010

Nothing to report.......

apart from I seem to have hay fever today. 

At least the sun is shining again, lets hope it last for the weekend.  Lots of nasty weeds to pull out, and the grass has grown.  The Polish boys are coming back to make a second attempt on repairing our wall, if its not right this time then it will be an insurance claim whether they like it or not.

10 June 2010

SANDS Appeal

Calling all knitters, can you spare some time to knit up a baby blanket for the Sands Appeal – very simple pattern, only takes 200g of double knit yarn in either white or cream, three knitting options . Link to the pattern here

I have my first ones on my needles, I know I said I’d finish my waistcoat first, but I’ve been spending a bit of time on both, it’s a good cause and I can wait.

8 June 2010

Will it be today?

Today I am hoping to become a grandparent, this is D-Day! Realistically we will just have to wait and see. Baby J can’t and won’t stay in there forever and my bets are on Friday for some reason, but if it wants to come earlier that’s fine by me. I think that midwives should give mum’s an “out by” date rather than a due date then there would be none of this anxiety. I am so looking forward to meeting this little person, as are its Grandfather (Pop) and Aunty Rachel, and I know that its Great Grandparents are keen to add to their totals too.

So folks I’ll keep you posted on developments as they happen and be prepared to be inundated with baby news and pictures.

Note to Baby J – don’t be shy it’s not too bad outside x

6 June 2010

50/100 - one for sorrow.........

I find myself doing the Norwich 100 cycle report earlier than expected.

Whilst training Peter has had a problem with his knee and unfortunately it has let him down badly today, to the point where after the first 10 miles he had to be seen by a kind lady from St Johns Amublance.  At the 25 mile split they decided to take the 50 mile route rather than risk the 100. 

When I asked Rachel why she hadn't gone on to do the 100 on her own,  she started to sing that Rolf Harris song - Two Little Boys, as in

'Did you think I would leave you dying
When there's room on my horse for two
Climb up here Joe, we'll soon be flying
I can go just as fast with two
Did you say Joe I'm all a-tremble
Perhaps it's the battle's noise
But I think it's that I remember
When we were two little boys'

They did achieve the 50 miles, not that they feel any satisfaction, and I know they are both very frustrated, especially when they've trained so hard.  I'm just glad to have them home in one piece.  I think it will be a while before Peter is doing any major cycling, though I'm sure he will tell me otherwise.

Rachel's theory on the day - "well it started badly when Dad killed a magpie on the way to Norwich"!!

Going dotty update....

Remember this from last week, well I have now finished this

 a matching pram blanket

Bit sick of spots, so guess I should get back to the top I was making for myself, though I'm not feeling that enthused right now. 

I have a whole day to myself and am wondering what to do.  Currently the sun is out but the garden is very wet from the overnight rain.  The cyclists left just after 5am, so my day started early.  Their start time from Norwich Cathedral is 7:20am, they hope to do the 100 miles in around 9 hours, so I'm not expecting them home much before 6:30pm as they plan to stop off for a meal on the way home. I hope the weather stays fine for them, though the forecast is not that good, still the rain will keep them cool!!  Will let you know how they get on tomorrow.

4 June 2010

Bird Song...

we currently have lots of bird activity in our garden.  The Blue Tits are back for a second round.  Pidgeons have a nest in the willow. The Swallows are making slow progress in the car port, all they seem to do is sit there making alot of noise, obviously typical UK builders!!  The funniest and the noisest are a pair of Blackbird's with a baby that has obviously just fledged. Last evening the baby was on our patio and the parents on our pergola, the noise was incredible, our cat sat watching out of the cat flap, really not that interested but aroused from her sleep by the noise.  As I type this morning the alarm calls are still going off, can't see baby but everytime the poor cat tries to go outside the parents dive bomb her.  She just came scuttling in with a bird on her tail she looked most put out.  We have pheasants making dust wallows in the borders, but I really wish they wouldn't make so much noise when they decide to take off from the undergrowth because it nearly gives me a heart attack everytime!

Our veg garden is all planted up, things are looking good. I got a bit carried away with some the the seeds, so we have a bit of thinning out to do, but otherwise just watering and weeding.  I'm turning my attention to the flower borders now, the spring flowers are more or less over so time to get some bedding in for a bit of instant colour.  Hanging baskets are starting to flower, the current warm weather helps.

I have most of this weekend to myself - the husband is taking his mother to the theatre tomorrow afternoon and then on Sunday he and the youngest have the Norwich 100 cycle ride, weather forecast wasn't looking too promising but that can certainly change, they won't want it too warm anyway.  The lad who knocked our wall down last weekend is coming back with a bricklayer to put it back up.  So unless Baby Jones decides to put in an appearance (4 days to due date) I'll be gardening and/or knitting.

Have fun in the sun, don't forget your sun hat and cream......