llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)

Who needs Wonder Woman when you can have Wonder-Layla! Look at that face, that is the face of a baby who knows that she is magnificent. Just turning 21 months, she's as tall as a three-year-old and growing ever more conversational by the day, forming new sentences all the time and taking great delight in learning new words, the bigger the better. 'Tambourine', 'bandicoot', 'octopus', 'xylophone', 'humongous' - say a big word within earshot, and she'll have a stab at saying it. She can count up to ten, as well (except for seven, she always skips seven. And then gives herself a round of applause at ten). She laughs all the time, loves reading books and going for walks and playing with toy cars (and balls, and building blocks, and animals, and just about anything, really), and her favourite cartoons are Bing and Peter Rabbit, which she tends to get very emotionally involved with. She's nervous when Peter Rabbit is chased by the fox or farmer, and upset when Bing Bunny is upset...with empathy like that, this child has a bright fandom future ahead of her! She might even grow some real hair, someday.

On a different note, the fella and I continued our current theme of castles by paying a visit on Saturday to Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire - a much shorter journey than to Powis the other week!


So, this is Chepstow Castle, which sits atop a cliff at the edge of the River Wye, right on the border between Wales and England. It is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, dating to 1067 - having conquered England the previous year, William had to consolidate that victory by guarding his borders, and the Welsh border was a particular problem for him!

Picspam and tour continued behind the cut - click on the images to see them full size )
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
It has been a very long few days, celebrating the 21st birthday of the Small Sis


I feel old now! Ian and I took her to Alton Towers yesterday. Three and a half hours there and then back again, but it was totally the right day to go, a term-time weekday, overcast and a bit chilly - there were no queues for any of the rides, we just went straight onto everything. Even I did most of the big ones, some of them twice!

Today...there was less fun stuff going on, Mum and Dad and Chelsea had to be at the magistrate's court, because Mum and Dad are applying for a child arrangement order for Layla-May, which will give them joint parental responsibility, which is a really long story that I'm not up to going into right now, but it's been bubbling along for some time now and will continue to do so for a while yet, as the magistrate adjourned the hearing for eight weeks while CAFCASS do a report, and anyway, Ian and I took Layla-May out for the day while all that was going on, and she had an absolutely lovely day with 'Doh' and 'Ina' (last week it was 'Ani' - one day she will get all of Ian's syllables in the right order!). We went to Dyffryn House in the Vale of Glamorgan - it's only 20 minutes or so by car, and the weather was glorious, not a cloud in the sky.

Layla had a lovely afternoon. She spent a lot of time playing with dandelions, learning how they work


She took her turn sitting on the old stone lions, just like everyone else in the family before her


She practiced going up and down steps


And up and down, and up and down, and up and down some more! She also had soooo much fun splashing in the fountain in the Pompeian Garden - she does love water, so very much


And then we spent ages watching bugs and leaves floating about in the newt pond, but she wasn't allowed to stick her hands in that one, and because I told her so many times not to go in the water, she started saying it for me! "No-no, Lay, don't go water!" So cute!

We also took some time for a little rest


We are getting more and more sentences these days. "No, I not sleepy!" is a particular favourite. She also cracks baby jokes - she'll lie down and say, "I go sleep," followed by fake snores, which is hilarious if you are only one! She is almost 20 months old, taller than some two-year-olds, with a rapidly growing vocabulary. She's very happy and well-adjusted, which is all thanks to my parents, really, for providing her with such a stable home and a loving upbringing, while her parents take it in turns to flake out. Chelsea is back onto a relatively even keel at the moment, so now Jamie has vanished into the wind. Maybe one day things will settle down a little - here's hoping, for Layla's sake
llywela: (Layla-May)
And this is what it looks like when you green-screen a pirate baby into a pirate picture!
llywela: (AC-Peggy1)
To brighten the weekend, here is a small pirate

llywela: (Cymru-CastellCaerdydd)
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i chi gyd!

llywela: (flower - hot pink)


Layla-May LOVES Ruby.

Ruby isn't quite so sure!
llywela: (DW-Tardis)


Today Chelsea and I took Layla-May to the Doctor Who Experience. She's a bit little for it yet, perhaps, but it is closing later this year, so we have to make the most of it while it's still there! Layla had a great time. The adventure part of the Experience went right over her head, but she was prepared to enter into the spirit of things anyway. She helped fly the TARDIS, shrieked with excitement as we ran past Weeping Angels in the dark, oohed and aahed every time the lights flashed, cheered for every crystal we discovered (it makes sense in context, honest), and generally had a fabulous sensory experience...even if she didn't have a clue what any of it meant!

In the exhibition, she met Daleks


And a Menoptra


Had fun with the baby-in-the-mirror (always a favourite game)


Asked a model of a Sycorax to pick her up, and wondered if the Silence are secretly vampire bats (the funniest thing about this arrangement is that their legs are all tied together in a big knot up there!)


A good time was had by all! Layla has been very poorly since Christmas, having had oral thrush followed by croup, so it was great to see her so bright and interested.

She's getting very chatty, coming out with new words all the time. We had a little walk along the Barrage while we were there, and I noticed she was huffing and puffing a bit, so asked if she wanted to be picked up and carried for a while. "Later!" she said, determined to conquer the slight incline we were tackling.

Fair enough. She did later decide for herself that she was ready to take a break and be carried!
llywela: (birthday balloons)
It's been a nice Christmas, very low key. I always have the week off between Christmas and New Year - compulsory shut down, so don't even have to book it, it's just automatic. It's nice to have a rest, recharge the batteries, although I haven't done much of my usual downtime activities - I've been spending all my time with the family this year. Layla-May has been Aunty Jo's girl all week - she's not wonderfully well, she's been teething and the teething turned to oral thrush, so she just suddenly stopped eating and drinking on Christmas Day because her mouth hurts and she doesn't want to put anything in it. She's got medicine now, but it'll take a while to clear up and in the meantime she still doesn't want to eat or drink, so we've had to resort to the sloppiest food possible, coaxing her into taking little bits of fluid off teaspoons as often as possible. She's still trying hard to be happy and jolly, she's an incredibly good-natured child, but she's feeling very under the weather and clingy, and has mostly been clinging to me - won't go to anyone else, cries when I leave the room. I'm not complaining - my mum needs the break! And it's nice to have quality time together. But I do have to go back to work next week...

Aunty Jo's girl


Baby Blue Eyes


Christmas is very exciting even for poorly one-year-olds


And we managed a lovely walk around a frosty Roath Park Lake, which was looking beautiful


All in all, not a bad Christmas. Happy New Year, everyone!
llywela: (Hogfather)
Okay. Cards posted. Gifts wrapped and ready. And still a week to go. That can't be right.

What have I forgotten?

In other festive news, here's a picture of a very happy baby falling in love with a polar bear. And a reindeer. And a big fluffy dog.

stuffs

Nov. 23rd, 2016 09:20 pm
llywela: (Cymru-CastellCaerdydd)
Another random flyby update, because time she does fly! I can't believe it's the end of November already - how did that happen? Where did the time go?

For whoever cares, season three of Y Gwyll continues apace on S4C - the English version Hinterland should pop up on one or other of the BBC channels sometime after Christmas, so watch out for that. There's a really huge plot twist at the end of what on S4C was episode two, but on the BBC will probably be episode one, since they tend to merge the two-part stories into one longer episode shown on one night - so watch out for that!

In other telly news, I've been following the new Doctor Who spin-off, Class, and loving all the location-spotting! The location used for the Coal Hill Academy site is just up the road from my office, our shiny new Hadyn Ellis building (I remember when that was just a new build project we talked about endlessly in Estates Liaison meetings, and now look at it). Once I'd recognised it, I remember all the fuss when they were filming up there, and all the fake flower petals all over the road! Also, April's house is just around the corner from where I used to live, by St John's Church. Oh, and there are plots and characters as well, I guess...

In Old TV news, My Power of the Daleks DVD arrived today - a shiny new animated version of a completely missing Doctor Who adventure. Just when we thought the Classic Who DVD range was over and done with, they produce this! I sat down after work intending to watch just an episode or two, but ended up marathoning all six. I really enjoyed it - I'd read the novelisation previously, so already knew the story, but had never made it through the recon. However cheap the animation, it apparently made all the difference for me! The story is long and slow-paced, it's true, but I found it tightly plotted with strong worldbuilding and a sense of tension that escalated inexorably from episode to episode, while the Daleks are really creepy here - so manipulative and subversive. The wholesale slaughter in episode six is a bit grim, but certainly sells the high stakes, while Troughton makes an immediate impression and is well and truly cemented as the Doctor by the time we reach the end of the story - the success of this first ever regeneration is the reason the show is still on air today, 50 years later. Great stuff.

In work news, I am very happy for my colleague J, who has just gone off on adoption leave after being matched for adoption at last - they were approved way back in February, but had to wait until October before they were matched, and now have their children at home living with them at last. A little boy who just turned two, and a baby girl who will be one in December - just 14 months between them and much younger than they were expecting, so it's all a bit intense and chaotic for them at the moment, but such a precious time as they get to know one another and bond. Hooray for J and M and happy new home to little N and G.

In family news, my older sister has a diagnosis at last, almost five years after she was rushed into hospital with crippling migraine and intracranial pressure three times higher than it should be. Well, she has a partial diagnosis, at least, after finally, finally persuading a consultant to look at all her symptoms instead of each one individually. They have decided that she has fibromyalgia and osteo-arthritis. But the outcome of her sleep trial for apnoea isn't in yet, and they still don't know what to make of the oligoclonal banding found in her spinal fluid, so the diagnosis remains incomplete. But at least she is beginning to get somewhere at last.

In other family news, look at this baby getting all tall and chatty!

In the first picture, that's her reaction every time her absolute favourite Bing comes on the telly. Layla-May adores Bing. In the last pic, she is explaining at great length and volume why it is vitally important to stop and bang on every bench we pass. For science. She also tells lots of babbling baby jokes and then laughs at them. Funny baby. One day, she might even have hair.

I have become Yo, incidentally. And she calls herself Yay-Yay!

In other, other news, have some pretty pictures I took around and about the city this autumn. Every single one of these was taken at the heart of the city centre, believe it or not. Having nearly four miles of unbroken parkland stretching through the middle of city has its benefits!


llywela: (Layla-May)
I have fallen off the radar a bit lately - things have been slightly manic! But over the weekend my little niece celebrated her first birthday, so let us mark the occasion with a birthday post.

To celebrate, we gathered on Saturday at Cefn Mably farm park with a few small cousins, and Layla-May had her very first pony ride, petted animals and played on the swings and slide.


For the birthday itself, on Monday, we went out for a family meal, and Layla ran all over the restaurant making friends with everyone she met.


Then back at home, there was the ceremonial opening of presents, which was both very exciting and very overwhelming for a little one.


A tea party followed, and we learned that Layla-May really, really does not understand this whole 'singing Happy Birthday' thing, that's just weird! But she LOVES chocolate cake.

Happy birthday, Layla-May
llywela: (flower - trolius)
1. Something was filmed on my street yesterday afternoon, but alas I will likely never know what it is*, because I was at work and not at home watching.

*Unless, of course, I happen to recognise my street while watching something over the next few months!

2. My colleague finally gave birth to her baby on Tuesday! I say finally, he's actually two weeks early still, but his birth has supposedly been imminent for weeks now - she was taken into hospital at 28 weeks because they thought she was about to go (her last baby was born at 31 weeks), but evidently the bed rest did the trick as she made it to 38 weeks before popping! Baby is 8lb5 so a real bruiser compared to the last one, who was only 3lb11 - also, another very fast delivery. Active labour was just 15 minutes this time, compared to 20 minutes with her last baby! So, congratulations to Sarah, Dylan and Holly on the safe arrival of little Alex.

3. Layla-May cut her first tooth this week, hallelujah - she's been teething for about five months without anything ever actually coming through, so it was about time, really. Look at this tall, happy little sunflower!

llywela: (Cranford-boating)
After a week away in the Cotswolds, I am now home from my holidays - bringing back with me a burned finger (never cook on an unfamiliar stove) and a bruised back (fell out of bed!)

The holiday was a big family get-away, there were ten of us altogether, including the baby - occasionally fractious (inevitable with so many personalities crammed together) but mostly a lot of fun.

We stayed in a pretty little upside-down-house on the side of a hill in Nailsworth, near Stroud. This was the view from the balcony:


Continued behind the cut - very long post with lots of pics! )
llywela: (family-1952Reg)


I really love these photos.

These are some of my great-aunts, my grandmother’s older sisters, who were young women in the 1920s - Alma, Doris, Thelma and Phyllis (pictured twice, who died young of TB meningitis).

They were ordinary girls, the daughters of a dock labourer who raised 12 children to adulthood. They’d each of them left school by the age of 14 and went out to work, because the family needed the money. The jobs they found weren’t easy - they worked in factories and builder’s yards. They had a difficult life.

But somewhere amid the poverty and overcrowding, they got themselves dressed up and found the money to have these photos taken, and they look so beautiful and glamorous in their 1920s fashions. Good for them!

stuffs

May. 16th, 2016 09:40 pm
llywela: (flower-daisy)
In work today we heard that our colleague John G passed away in hospice over the weekend, and it wasn't a surprise, we've been waiting for it since Christmas, he's lasted a lot longer than expected, but even so, damn. I liked John. He was no older than me. And he'd fought and conquered that dragon once already, only for it to take him down in the end.

So let's have some pretty pics to cheer me up, starting with my week off work earlier this month, already a fast-receding memory...

I already posted about taking Chelsea and Layla for a day at St Fagans. We also spent a day hanging out in the sunshine at Cardiff Bay, walked across the Barrage and then took Layla for her first proper boat ride, catching the acquabus back across to the Marina.




I'll stick the rest behing a cut, to spare your f-lists - click for the rest )
llywela: (flower - bluebell)
On Bank Holiday Monday my sister - the older one, who lives near Maidstone - had the bright idea of a family gathering at Westonbirt Arboretum, which is not quite halfway between our homes but near enough. Meeting there has been a tradition for almost 20 years now, ever since Deb moved out and baby Chelsea moved in and we all met up at Westonbirt for Chelsea's first birthday, which is in early May, bluebell season. That first year, when Chel was about to turn one, she insisted on walking the whole way around, because she loved being on her feet, and we took photographs of her sitting in a field of bluebells. It became a birthday tradition - another year, another bluebell photo...although not always at Westonbirt. But this year Deb wanted to meet, to see Chelsea for her birthday and take another photo of her in the bluebells, this time with her own baby on her knee. So despite the dodgy forecast we got in our cars and headed to the Arboretum, and it wasn't so bad at first, a bit chilly, a spot of drizzle, we met and had lunch...and then the heavens opened.

So no bluebell photo this year, not at Westonbirt at any rate. But today Chelsea and I took Layla-May to St Fagans, and two days have made all the difference in the weather, for it was glorious. And we then happened upon a bank of bluebells that we weren't expecting to find there - too good a chance to pass up!

So here is Chelsea Leigh in the bluebells on May 3rd 1997, aged almost 12 months:
1997-05-03 Chelsea.jpg

And here is Layla-May in the bluebells on 4th May 2016, aged 7-and-a-half months:

llywela: (Cranford-boating)
Spring, she has sprung - despite the occasional shower of icy sleet, just to keep us on our toes. I love this time of year. Everything is coming back to life, all fresh and green. My garden is flourishing and already full of bees, the breakfast bar in my kitchen has become a plant nursery. It's all good.

I went with my Mum to the RHS Flower Show Cardiff the other week, as we do every year, where we encountered this chap:

Yeah, that's the BFG! That famous son-of-Cardiff Roald Dahl was the theme of the show this year.

Cardiff Bay is beautiful in the spring sunshine:


On the day those photos were taken, Layla-May experienced her very first carousel ride:


Me and my girl


I walked to work yesterday - takes over an hour, but so beautiful! This is Thompson's Park:


Blackweir:



The nature path along the Taff Trail:



And Bute Park - specifically, the wall of the Secret Garden Cafe, the Mill Stream, and the Castle:

randomness

Mar. 14th, 2016 07:36 pm
llywela: (Cranford-boating)
Took a Mother's Day walk around Cosmeston Lakes near Penarth last week - crisp and clear, it felt properly spring for the first time this year. Plus, pretty!


Poppy and Alfie being cute


Yesterday I had an injured magpie in the garden - I was out pottering around in the sun, the bird was cowering in a corner behind my biggest pot, and I ended up spending most of the afternoon chasing the cats away from it! Mr Huntsman Alfie got bored and wandered off pretty quickly, but Poppy, who has never caught live prey in her life, remained fascinated and kept going back to edge in close and stare at the bird, like she thought if she stared hard enough it might walk into her mouth. I honestly thought I was going to find a sad little corpse out there this morning, but it seems to have recovered and flown off overnight. Either that or something else had it - but there's no evidence of a violent struggle, so I'm going with the happy ending theory!

Layla-May's future is decided: she is going to be a Time Lord! Here she is modelling her best First Doctor expression


Also: more cuteness
P1130818.jpg P1130817.jpg P1130810.jpg

stuffs

Feb. 29th, 2016 08:30 pm
llywela: (Layla-May)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's super-baby!

Layla-May has discovered Ruby. For the first four months of her life, she had no awareness of the dog whatsoever, but then one day she looked up and realised that her home was shared with this perambulatory bundle of fluff, and she was entranced. Since then, if Ruby so much as wanders across her field of vision she erupts into laughter and squeals of sheer delight. And lunges, trying desperately to get as close as she possibly can.


Ruby, on the other hand, maintains the same stance she's held all along, which is that she sees no point whatsoever to this very tiny human being that serves no practical purpose, and therefore ignores it as completely as she possibly can - even when it is trying to eat her ears! She'll change her tune as soon as Layla starts dropping food...

In other news, my cats continue cute!
llywela: (Xmas)
...and everyone was ill. That's how it seemed, anyway!

My older sister, Deb, had a lumbar puncture on December 22nd, somehow still thought it would be a good idea to drive all the way from Maidstone to Cardiff on the 23rd, had to spend three days lying flat in a darkened room to recover, and then carried on down to Cornwall to visit her husband's family, so we barely saw her really. And my younger sister, Chelsea, had to go to the doctor late on Christmas Eve - the doctor was actually leaving for the day when we rang, but came back just to see her! Turned out, the cold she'd been battling for a couple of weeks at that point had turned to an ear infection, chest infection and sinusitis, and her 'good' eardrum had already perforated. So she spent most of Christmas Day virtually comatose - and was terribly upset to miss her baby's first Christmas. She's still ill now, over a week later. Lots of other people had colds as well, and then just after Christmas Layla-May also caught the cold, which promptly turned to bronchiolitis, so on New Year's Eve she had to go to the doctor as well!

So much sickness and contagion all around - I've managed to avoid all lurgies so far, keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way!

On the bright side, Layla-May managed to have a lovely first Christmas in spite of it all - she had exciting new toys and lots of cuddles. What more could a three-month-old ask for? She's a very happy, contented baby - even now, while she's ill and coughing up phlegm, she's still trying hard to smile at everyone she sees, bless her. The doctor couldn't get over what a happy little thing she is even though she's ill. And so chatty - heaven help us when she starts to figure out actual words...

This is Little Miss Claus with me on Christmas day, exhausted by the tiring business of opening presents and laughing at everyone:


And a very poorly Layla earlier this week, still laughing her head off at me blowing raspberries at her (best joke in the world)


Also over Christmas, visited the Ice Kingdom at Cardiff's Winter Wonderland - the sculptures were beautiful!

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