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Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Beginning of my Birthday - trip to Diggerland!

My Birthday began this weekend.  I actually turn 40 tomorrow, but my birthday treat was a trip to Diggerland in North Devon so it started on Friday.

First, my husband gave me the first part of my birthday present.  Over the last few years, I've lost two wedding rings and the diamond from my engagement ring.  For my 40th he got the engagement ring fixed and a new wedding ring.  I feel very loved.  This is definitely not a need, but is something that has made me feel very loved and special.  He also gave me a cord necklace on which to hang them when swimming in the sea, making pizza dough, or any other occasion on which I might take off / lose any rings.

We headed down on Friday evening to Cullompton in North East Devon where we camped in the campsite behind Diggerland.  Blossom, our crazy four-month-old Cocker Spaniel puppy had never been camping before but she settled really well in the campervan.  She doesn't realise that this is what we do in this family and that campervan trips are going to be a key part of her life in this pack.
photo from Diggerland website
Dogs aren't allowed into Diggerland, so on Saturday morning Mum came up from South Devon to take care of Blossom for us.  C was feeling a bit under the weather and complaining of a sore tummy but we reassured him and went in.  Diggerland is AMAZING!  Driving a digger is on my bucket list, so this was a big tick for me.  There are digger themed rides, you get to dig holes with proper diggers, and I got to drive a JCB!  Unfortunately C really was feeling rotten and was sick twice.  He felt rubbish and sat out of all the rides we went on that morning.  After a sit-down for lunch, Hubby took him back to the campervan for a sleep, leaving Bug and I to play...  Thankfully after a couple of hours resting he felt much better, and came back into the park for the last couple of hours, so was able to enjoy plenty of rides and even got to drive a real car!
this isn't C - it's a photo from the Diggerland website
As the park closed, we headed back to the campervan where mum was waiting with Blossom.  We got changed and headed for a pub in Cullompton called The Weary Traveller.  I would definitely recommend this pub.  While the carpet could do with a clean, the service was friendly and the food absolutely delicious.  I had slow cooked belly of pork in a red apple and cider jus with dauphinois potatoes and seasonal veg, followed by Eton Mess ice-cream.  Mmmmmm!  Also a pint of Otter Ale.

This morning dawned sunny and I got up to take Blossom out, only to hear a strange sound.  As I returned from the toilet block I realised there was a hot-air balloon being inflated in the next field!  I headed back to wake the others and tell them about it, but the campervan was empty.  They had already heard it and we sat under a tree watching as it inflated and took off - very exciting!  Hot air balloon riding is also on my bucket list, and I hope to tick that one off as soon as the children are old enough to join us for the trip.  

We packed up and headed to the Bluebell Restaurant (tucked behind the service station at Willand if you're ever in need of a hearty breakfast, a carvery or anything in between - we opted for the breakfast).  Then we made our way to Weston-super-mare for Blossom's first beach trip.  It will be the first of many, and it was fairly limited today as she's still on a short lead, tires easily and there are dog restrictions on a large part of the beach.  She did have a paddle though, and was interested in the sand.  By the time we got back to the campervan she just landed in a floppy, doggy heap of cuteness.

As I'm back to work tomorrow morning, we decided to have present opening and cake this evening.  Aside from feeling very special indeed, the gifts I received are all very reflective of me, they've been thought out so carefully.  From Mum and Dad I got garden centre vouchers, which I will spend on plants for my new pond (when I build it).  From my big sister new Trollbeads for the bracelet she bought me for my 30th birthday.  From my little sister a beautiful edition of Jane Austen novels and a replacement rainbow mug (she keeps buying me them, but they are my favourite mug so I use them all the time and eventually drop and break them and she just keeps on replacing them).  From C, a rainbow coloured stripy towel and another rainbow mug.  From Bug, a giant fairy castle which will take pride of place in my Utility Pants* when I've sorted it.  From Hubby, as well as the rings, a canvas of the Periodic Table of Elements, which I've coveted since seeing it on the wall in Sherlock's flat on the TV.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor
All in all, a pretty wonderful weekend.  I feel very pampered and loved.  This weekend was all about doing the things that I love doing, and having a very special time.  

What would your ideal birthday weekend look like?

*It's probably best not to ask about my Utility Pants.  It's a room in my house, not an item of underwear.  It's a cross between a utility room and a pantry, and I've decided that it will be a den, a "mum-shed" if you like, decorated so that anybody wandering in there to get a can of beans or load the washing machine will think for a moment that they have stumbled inside my brain - rainbows and witchery, wildlife and craziness.  I'll post more on that this year as the decorating and sorting comes to fruition.  

Friday, 31 August 2018

This is me.

This is me.  

  • I turn 40 on Monday.
  • I 'm 5-10kg overweight.
  • I have sparkly green eyes and a big smile that's never too far away, my e-mail address has been smilymel@... forever.
  • I have a seven and a half year old daughter and a nine year old son.
  • I have a four month old puppy.
  • I have a geriatric 3 year old gerbil.
  • I am a teacher working 3 days a week in a caring but very busy school.  I love my job.
  • I am a Cub Leader with 28 happy Cubs.
  • I get involved with projects at The Scout Association at UK level and am a Training Adviser in the County.
  • I have a lovely husband with a very busy job as a Dr in our local hospital.
  • I love the outdoors, walking, scrambling, waterfalls, woodlands, castles etc.
  • I enjoy learning about history.
  • I love crafting and making things and being creative.
  • I love writing.  I'm a member of our local Writing Circle and have a burning ambition to finish editing one of the books I'm writing and actually send it off to a publisher.
  • I enjoy cooking (and eating).
  • I'm not as fit as I should be.
  • I've had Vasculitis which is in remission but I'm still on a lovely cocktail of drugs every day to keep it that way.
  • I have friends who I love and who make me feel good.  I don't see any of them nearly as often as I would like to.
  • I have a loving mum and dad, two lovely sisters and their families, and a set of lovely in-laws.  
  • I'm generally optimistic and happy, but sometimes find that I'm unravelling a bit and am swamped by trying to do too much in too little time and end up feeling that I'm not actually achieving anything.  Then I get grouchy and grumpy and give the people I love a hard time.  Then I give myself a really hard time.
This is me.

I've not used this blog all that much over the last couple of years, but have decided to make it a priority this year.  I'll blog often to log my thoughts, log the activities I do, and give a creative outlet.  I'm going to show myself just how much I can get done in a busy year.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Writing Group prompt - and they said it couldn't be done.


I've joined Hereford Writer's Circle.  We meet on the first Friday of the month.  I won't be able to get there every month.  I've been meaning to go since February, but the March one was cancelled by snow, the April one I was away for the Easter Holiday, and the May one was a bank holiday weekend and we were away in the campervan.  I went this time though, and it was great fun.  There weren't many there, though apparently numbers are usually higher, but it was lovely just to have time and space to write and talk about writing.  I thought I would revive my blog, and each week try to share a piece of writing that came from the most recent Writer's Circle meeting.  I love to write, and getting back to blogging will give me a creative outlet that I need and rarely make time for.  The first piece of writing I did at the Circle we were given a title - and they said it couldn't be done.  We had about ten minutes to write and we all did something very different with the title.  The following piece of writing is the first thing that came to my mind.  My sister (who blogs as Seaside Belle) has recently become a single mum of four.  I can't say how accurate this piece of writing is (as I've not spoken to her since she got back), but her Facebook posts this week are the inspiration for it.

"I'm still not sure this is a good idea," she messaged from the airport lounge.  Around her loomed the potential for chaos.  E. was looking for his i-pad, rummaging through the carefully packed bags; Overexcited B was pirouetting, very nearly knocking poor little O off his feet.  He gazed around, fingers in mouth and drank in the busy scene, then he continued inexorably towards Mum, his safe haven, clambering over the bags, discarded coats and the luggage trolley.  On his arrival a hand reached down and pushed his face away.  Five year old W already occupied this lap, and he wasn't giving it up easily to his three-year-old nemesis.  

Was she brave or stupid?  She couldn't decide.  A newly single mum of four, trying to prove to herself and the world that she could manage.  She took a deep breath... Look out Barcelona!

"Still waiting for take-off," said the next message.  The children in their aeroplane seats in this photo were now looking a little less excited and a bit more sugar-fuelled.

"We went for the hop-on-hop-off bus tour to see the sights without tiring ourselves out too much," was the message the following day.  Those in the know read between the lines, and wondered whether the children had kept her up all night and it was her energy she was preserving.  A flurry of supportive and encouraging messages back ensued.

Over the following days the messages and photos on Facebook showed the children eating churros, at Camp Nou football ground, at the market, enjoying views and sunshine and almost every photo showing all the children looking in the same direction and grinning at the camera.

"A glass of cava on the last day to celebrate a successful trip to Barcelona," said the caption on the last photo of the week, showing a tired-looking but smiling mum.  She'd proved it to herself.  She'd proved it to everybody else.  A single mum on holiday with four children under the age of ten to Barcelona.  They said it couldn't be done, but the hashtags on that last photo said it all: #travellingsolowith4kids #planningournexttripalready.  She'd done it.


Sunday, 3 June 2018

Advice to a new mum

Quite a few friends and colleagues are having babies for the first time, and I've thought often about what advice I would or should give.  Here's where I've got to:
  1. Take all advice with a pinch of salt.  Everybody wants to give a new mum advice - I'm writing this blog!  You don't have to follow it.  There are many many "correct" ways to bring up children.  As long as you love them, you can't go far wrong.  What works for some families won't work for others, what works for some children may not work for yours.  Muddle through, make mistakes, find what works for you.
  2. Nearly all the baby paraphernalia that they try to convince you to buy is a complete waste of money, and you don't need to fit out "the nursery".  Mostly, baby won't spend any time in its nursery unless it's with you or asleep, so it won't care two hoots about the carefully picked out colour scheme and wallpaper with rabbits on.  Paint a calm neutral colour and wait until it begins to show some interest in stuff as a toddler to start accessorising.  As for the rest, it needs a car seat, a buggy, a cot, bottles if you're bottle feeding, nappies, clothes and that's about it.  Muslin squares are the exception.  You need muslin squares.  Get a pack of ten, you'll use them as a sun shade on the front of the buggy, to mop up baby sick, to lay on the floor if you need to put baby down somewhere clean and many other uses I don't remember.  I just remember they were very useful.  We also bought a very cheap baby bouncer from a car boot which we cleaned up and was great so you could put baby down and they could still see you.  And a friend made a lovely blanket for the floor for when baby had tummy time, and later when they started playing on the floor. 
  3. Find other mummies, preferably open and honest ones.  It's great to know you are not alone in going through some of the stuff you go through as a new mum.
  4. Try to get out every day.  This doesn't need to be far.  A walk to the shops, a wander around the park with the buggy for example.  It's good for morale to be up and dressed, especially on a day when you've had no sleep and baby won't stop crying.  A change of scenery will do you both good, and if you can combine this with a meet up with a fellow mummy, so you can compare notes and support one another then even better.  This is why they invented "mother and baby" or "toddler" groups.  They can be cliquey, they can be scary and some of them are awful, but if you find a welcoming one with those honest mums who look after one another, then its worth it.
  5. On the same count, don't feel you have to fill baby's day with clubs and classes.  Baby doesn't care whether they've been to baby sensory, or baby yoga or baby music lessons.  Baby wants to spend time with mummy.  As mentioned earlier, a walk to the shops or around the park or coffee at a friend's house is plenty.  There are some days when you'll be very tired.  There are some days when baby will be cranky.  There are plenty of days when sitting on the sofa cuddling the baby and watching daytime telly are perfectly acceptable ways to while away the hours.  Also, your baby will begin to fall into a napping routine at some point and you'll want to encourage this, because healthy sleep patterns = happy baby (and mummy).  Once this starts to happen, ditch any regular activities that interfere with baby nap time.
  6. All this advice is written with the assumption that its mum at home with the baby.  Of course, all this advice applies equally to dad being the main carer at home, and my next piece of advice is to share the load.  Dad needs time to bond with baby too, and should be involved with all the decisions about how you manage things.
  7. Having a baby around the place isn't always easy, and being a new mum at home can be lonely.  Don't feel you are alone.  Everybody will tell you to "relish these years, they go so fast".  They do.  But sometimes it doesn't feel like that at four in the morning when baby just won't go to sleep, or when you realise that you haven't got dressed or had a shower for four days because baby wails every time you put it down... those days seem very very long.  Pick up the phone.  Call a friend.  Have a cry or a moan or a rant.  If they are a good friend they will remember or understand.  Ask them to come over and hold the baby so you can have a shower.  Ask them to hang the washing and mop the kitchen while you and baby have a nap together.  
My children are now seven and eight.  I don't remember the details of my time as a new mum, though looking back at this blog from 2010 and 2011 gives a bit of an insight to what we were getting up to.  I do know that we had some great days, and we had some harder days.  I also know that the time I spent with my babies and toddlers has helped build the relationship we have today.  Having babies isn't always easy, but it's worth every moment as you watch that baby grow into an independent young person.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Ten ways to happiness


  1. Be kind to yourself.  This means that you need to look after the things that are important to you - Sometimes we're so busy rushing around trying to get everything done and look after everybody else that we forget to think about ourselves.  To be happy you have to value yourself, which means looking after your priorities.  Write down the things that are important for you such as exercise or relaxation, and the things that make up your personality such as hobbies, likes and dislikes, and prioritise spending some time on those too.
  2. Your key relationship - this is the relationship with your significant other.  It might be a parent, a best friend, your only child, a sibling or your spouse.  This is the person you rely on and who relies on you.  Every relationship needs time and effort to run smoothly.  The chances are, if you're taking it for granted, you're going to run into a problem somewhere.  Take time together, listen to one another and keep building dreams and plans for your future as well as sharing your past and present.
  3. Other important relationships - friendships and families matter.  A phone call to let your mum know you're thinking of her, a catch up with a friend over coffee or a glass of wine.  These are the moments that top up your happy tank (and theirs).
  4. Be kind and generous - do things for others - studies have shown that those who are kind and help others report feeling happier and more content.  Doing things for others makes us feel more connected to the world around us.
  5. Get enough sleep - we all know that we're more grumpy, and more likely to be overwhelmed and out of control when we're tired.  To be happy, get enough sleep so you have the energy to approach all of life's challenges.
  6. Appreciate the little things - be mindful - don't always be striving for that elusive lottery win, that perfect wedding day or something distant and hard to find.  Be aware of all the little things every day that are good, from the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, to the feel of your child resting their head in safety on your shoulder or the sound of birds singing on a sunny day.
  7. try new stuff - trying new things stimulates our mind, gives us rewarding satisfaction in overcoming the fear of the unknown, keeps us curious, engaged and resilient.  It also opens up new possibilities for the future.  Whether it's trying a new food, trying a new outfit, learning Spanish or having a go at Salsa dancing - go for it!
  8. small actions for big problems - It's easy to become overwhelmed by the calamities of the world around us, from war and famine to global warming, homelessness and pollution.  Rather than looking at it as a hopeless case, try finding a small action that you can take.  You could write a letter to lobby those in power, you could donate to a charity, take part in a litter pick in your home town or audit your own home energy use.  Small actions really do add up, and your small step in the right direction might lead to more, or inspire others to make small steps too.  Your action might seem tiny, but if enough people make a small step, then giant leaps can be accomplished.
  9. have goals - goals help us to put our values into action.  Working towards a realistic goal gives us satisfaction, and so does achieving a goal.  Set yourself goals and targets for the things that you want to do with your life.  You'll have seen mine on my blog last week.
  10. be resilient - resilience can be described as "emotional elasticity".  The ability to manage changes and difficulties without being derailed when life throws you a curve ball.  Resilience is about developing a bit of bounce so that if something goes wrong, you can get back up, dust yourself down, shrug your shoulders (you can have a little cry if you need to, or even stick two fingers up to the world), but you can move on and find a different path to take.
Image result for happiness
I like to think I'm a pretty happy person most of the time.  I look forward with hope and optimism and am pretty resilient to life's problems. I also understand how hard it can be when that doesn't come easily - I've suffered with Post Natal Depression and understand how difficult it can be to see a light at the end of the tunnel at times.  If any of my friends or family ever need somebody to help them through when times are hard, please don't hesitate to call on me. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Sunday, 24 December 2017

2017 Review


As the end of 2017 draws near, I'm settling down to review the year, and to set myself some targets for the next 12 months.

I've hesitated to approach this task, because I don't think I've done too well this year.  I've been a bit down and not feeling too well the last few months and I was concerned that looking at my list of aims for the year would be a disappointment.

Today, however, I looked at my list with my two children sitting beside me (aged 6 and 8) and they gave me such words of encouragement, and such glowing words of praise (mostly) as they reexamined my aspirations for the year (they had seen them before as they were stuck to the dining room door before we moved house in the Summer).

So I am given courage to go through the list and see what I have achieved:

  • Run a 10k - umm... yeah... not a great place to start.  I was doing so well with Sarah Millican cheering me on using the BBC/NHS One You Couch to 5K app - I'd got up to week 6 of 9!  Then my foot was randomly bruised and swollen and really sore and kept going completely numb, then I felt unwell, then I... then I... and I just never got back on the wagon again and haven't run since we moved house.
  • Keep enjoying work - yes.  I love my job.  I've struggled a bit this term, as I'm so tired that I'm just not achieving as much as I set out to, but I do love being a teacher.
  • Achieve/exceed performance management targets - yes, just about.  There are a few things still to work on but I am already well aware of them!
  • Do fabulous displays - I think the displays in and around the classroom are much better this year than last year, and I have certainly been working hard on them, but I think they could still be better.  My colleague in the opposite classroom has some great display ideas, which I need to magpie (steal).
  • be mindful - not nearly enough - see next point
  • take up yoga - no, but I definitely still should and it will be going on next year's list.
  • go up a couple of big hills - one, and even that wasn't terribly big.
  • go out for evening with Hubby at least six times - restaurant, concert, cinema etc. - this is something that we definitely need to remedy.  Time together as a couple is very important.
  • cuddles - oh yes!  Lots of those.  
  • Get Etsy and Folksy shops back on - not even close.  Too much work and too much time wasting!
  • Invite friends for a dinner - this is actually something that Hubby planned.  The excuse was his birthday and warming our new house.  Definitely something to repeat because it was lovely.
  • wear rainbows - I've been wearing my stripy rainbow socks again, and my rainbow gloves.  Hubby also bought me a beautiful bright red dress, and I definitely need to keep rainbowing because it makes me feel good.
  • at least 6 trips away in the campervan - yes!
  • sort YHA weekend - yes, to Castleton this year.  Next year hopefully to Manorbier, need to do this very soon.
  • be a little bit wild - I'm going to describe this as taking the opportunity to put flowers on the campervan, to swim in the sea at any opportunity, to wear stripy rainbow socks, to dance with the kids at the school disco, to make fire.... take those chances.
  • play with the children - this I have made time for.  I still think I could do more.  However, if the children ask to make something with me, or play a game with me, I will always try to say yes.  I'm very conscious that the window of time when they will ask is only a few short years, and I don't want to miss it.
  • swim at least once every fortnight - no.  I just haven't made time.
  • complete a book and send it to a publisher - no, and this is a big one and one that I am very anxious to get done.  It's going to be an early priority for 2018.
  • keep my working area tidy and organised - the reason I can green this one is because I no longer have a working area!  I don't have a desk so wherever I work I have to tidy up after myself.
  • upload resources to TES website - none yet
  • Sing! - have loved teaching in a school where singing is such an important part of the day.  Singing makes me feel so good.
  • complete 5 scenery boards for the model railway - none!  The railway is back together, but I've not had anything to do with it yet.
  • make my garden beautiful and grow stuff - had lots of plants and flowers growing in pots in our rented house.  Now have a lovely garden and can't wait to get stuck in as the days lengthen.
  • make stuff - the odd bits and pieces, but not as crafty as I'd like.
  • do more freelance writing - no energy
  • spend more time with Dad - not been done
  • Help Holmer Scouts grow - setting up a new Cub Pack in January, with ten new members who've never been in Scouting before!
  • stay below 70kg / size 12 - Yes, still fitting comfortably into my size 12s.  My weight has crept up a little, but is still below 70kg.
  • make wine - and drink it! - I have a beginners wine making kit (for Christmas last year), but the beginning of the year I didn't feel like drinking, and the second half of the year I've not had the energy.
  • explore more of Herefordshire - days out, restaurants, pubs, walks - nowhere near as much as I'd like.  We've just been too tired.
So, there we have it.  A mixed bag really.  Some good achievements, but plenty to add to the list for next year, which will be coming up in the next few days.

What have you been up to this year?  Did you achieve the things you set out to do?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Upcycling - wooden drawers




Hubby had these drawers (a lot of them!) to house his cassette tape collection.  Younger readers hop on to Wikipedia for an explanation of what cassette tapes are.  He got rid of his cassette tapes when we moved from Scotland three years ago, and the drawers found new homes in his garage (for screws and stuff) and in the children's bedrooms (for bits-and-bobs).  Ever since, I've been promising the children that I would give them a lick of paint to go nicely in their bedrooms, and label them so they knew what was inside each one.

Bug had done her best to label hers herself.  Inside she keeps all her stationery, badges, fossils, beads, bracelets, shells, marbles, Kinder egg toys and so on.

My first decision needed to be about paint.  I stood in the diy shop deliberating for a while.  I liked the idea of the chalky furniture paints, but they didn't have the range of colours that I was looking for and were pretty pricy.  In then end I plumped for acrylics from the craft aisle.  I've used acrylic paint before to paint my fence decorations, so I know they apply well to wood, the colour range is outstanding, and they are pretty affordable.  I bought four spring-time colours for Bug's drawers, and some dark blue for when I do Bear's.

Next, paint!  So that I wouldn't have difficulty with drawers sticking, I only painted the front of each drawer.  I had three sets of drawers to do, so I did each case in a different colour, then I did six pink drawers, and four each in purple, green and blue.  

Acrylic dries pretty quickly, so by the time I'd finished doing all the first coats, I was able to start again and get the second coat on.  

An hour or so later I came back, arranged all the drawers in a decent pattern of colours, rearranged the contents so they were in a logical order, and used a permanent marker and neat handwriting to label each drawer with its contents.

I had started the whole project at 7.30pm when Bug went to bed, I completed it by sneaking back into her bedroom and replacing the drawers at about 11pm.

She is delighted with the result, as not only are the colours pretty, but she can also find things more easily and is even more inclined to put them away since she can see straight away where they belong.  We are planning to buy some butterfly stickers to add to the drawers and make them even prettier.  I'm going to get Bear's drawers next (later this week I hope) and paint them in blues, purples and greens.

 What crafty / upcycling project are you doing this week?

A great week!

We're in our new home (and we love it!), we're three weeks into the Autumn term at school and we are busy busy busy!

Here are just a few of the things we've been up to this week:

  • had some friends over for coffee on Thursday morning, and made some spiced apple muffins;
  • trip to the hospital in Birmingham to see the Vasculitis specialists;
  • a meeting about District Scout Christmas Post;
  • housework;
  • marking;
  • planning for next week;
  • Bug has been painting flowers;
  • Bug and I worked as a team to decoupage some animals that she bought me as a get well present a year and a half ago;
  • Hubby and Bear lifted the old railway tracks off their board, and constructed a new board in the loft ready to lay the tracks;
  • the children and I made some junk modelling houses to act as some "Here's one I made earlier!" for my model-making club;
  • I painted some small wooden drawers for Bug's bedroom - something I've been promising her I'll do for at least a year!  More on those in the next blog post.
All in all a great week where I've finally ticked off some items from my to-do list which have been hovering there for quite a long time.  I love it when you get to do that, it feels very productive.



Sunday, 13 August 2017

Packing to move house

Moving house is fun.

Ummm.... I'm not sure that's right.  I've heard that its one of the most stressful experiences in life.  It is a bit exciting though.
piles of boxes
I'm currently at the stage where I am surrounded by half-filled boxes.  We've ten days until moving day, and while I'm confident that we'll get it all done, the task is looking slightly daunting.  My six year old asked me to buy some oranges so she could make her own orange juice - and my voice may have gone up a couple of octaves as I very slowly and reasonably explained that we are trying to get rid of mess - not make more!

ready for the charity shop
Having a clear out:  I'm being quite brutal at getting rid of things that we don't love any more.  Our new house is a bit smaller than our current rented house, and definitely smaller than the house we sold in Scotland.  As we move from room to room I have four categories: recycle centre, charity shop, sell and pack.  Items for the first three groups are put into piles in the kitchen.  I'm taking photos of items to sell or to try and free-cycle and getting them straight on to the local car-boot type Facebook groups.  If nobody wants them in a day or two they transfer to the charity-shop or recycle centre piles.  When the charity shop and recycle centre piles in the kitchen are large enough - off they go!  Only things that we love or definitely use are making it into the packing boxes.
not even started on this room yet!
I've read that it's best to pack one room at a time.  That's not what we're doing.  We have boxes in every room and seem to be working on them all simultaneously, packing first those things which are non-essentials, for example warm coats and winter shoes, books, toys and games, DVDs etc.

Working hard not to pack those things we'll need over the next couple of weeks, for example things the kids will need for Beaver Sleepover, things I'll need for school work etc!