Tuesday 5 December 2023

It must be getting closer

 Because we've just come back from Rosie's first Nativity Play

and I've started constructing a gingerbread house

I had tears in my eyes before the first angel had walked on stage because I cannot help myself when I see those little five year olds desperately searching the audience for their mums and dads.  There are sixty children in each year group so this meant the cast list was quite enlarged from the original Nativity story.  Rosie was Inkeeper 1's wife.  She'd chosen her husband wisely as Inkeeper 2 sat down and started chewing his toenails part way through 😱

I think I would quite enjoy decorating my gingerbread house myself but I've promised Rosie and Leo that we will finish it off when they get home from school today.  There will be squabbles no doubt about who wants to be doing the icing and what sweets and sprinkles they will use to decorate, and there's a very good chance one will lean too hard on the roof while doing it and the whole thing will collapse.  I'll try and get the 'after' photo to share another time.

We went to Chelmsford for some Christmas shopping yesterday (which is one of the reasons I forgot to do a 'Me on Monday') I managed to tick a few more things off my list and it was a nice atmosphere there, not too busy.  We stopped for a coffee and a scone mid morning, I liked this sign they had in the John Lewis cafe

We have a busy weekend ahead with watching Leo and Rosie in their drama club concert on Saturday and we have all the family round for lunch to celebrate Paul's 66th birthday a little early on Sunday.  Fancy that, I'll be married to a pensioner!  So tradition dictates that we need to put our Christmas tree up very soon, then it really will feel like Christmas is getting closer!


Friday 1 December 2023

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

 Here we are with the last 'first Friday of the month' of the year!

Thank you for taking the time to join me for a cuppa and a biscuit.  It's getting busy isn't it?  Please do sit down and sample one of the brownie cup cakes I made yesterday.  It's a new recipe for me, salted caramel brownies made with Carnation caramel condensed milk.  What do you think?  They've been a hit so far with Leo and Rosie, not to mention me and Paul!

Are you organised with all your Christmas prep?  I'm gradually working my way through the list of presents I want to buy and we'll probably put our tree up after the weekend.  Family tradition dictates that it goes up just before Paul's birthday on the 12th so we have a deadline!  

Our grandchildren are getting very excited now, they are the perfect ages for Christmas, young enough to still believe, and old enough to understand what's going on.  We will be going to see Max in his first nativity in a couple of weeks and Leo and Rosie are in a Christmas concert next weekend.  I will definitely be shedding a few proud tears I know!

Hasn't the weather turned cold?  I was late collecting Olive this Wednesday as I simply couldn't get into my car!  The door lock and handle were fine but the window seal had frozen solid.  After a lot of googling, I found a recommendation to use a vinyl and rubber conditioner and luckily had a bottle of it in the car in amongst all the car washing products.  It seems to be working!

By the time we meet again Christmas will be done and dusted and we will be a few days into the new year isn't that hard to believe?  Have a happy and healthy Christmas!

Thursday 30 November 2023

#WBOYC in November

 Once again I am linking up with Australian Deb to share what's been on my calendar this month

New wallpaper and vanity unit in the downstairs loo.  This is a project that has been on the cards for quite some time now.

I was a little sceptical when Paul said he could instal a new vanity unit along with all the associated plumbing issues but he's made a good job of it all.

Oh how tidy Coco and I both look after having our hair/fur cut and blowdried

Very enjoyable show from our local musical theatre group at the South Mill Arts Centre (used to be called the Rhodes Centre after Cecil Rhodes who was born here, but was controversially renamed recently in view of his history)We were amazed by how professional it was, we will definitely be returning for their 2024 production.

Evenings spent consoling Coco around Guy Fawkes night - she really doesn't like all the bangs. Also Eleven teeth removed when she went to the vets.  November hasn't been the best month for her!

Feeling a bit sorry for herself after her op 😢

Meeting up with friends three times this month - getting all those pre-Christmas meals in before everyone gets too busy!

Birthday celebrations for our Granddaughter Rosie who has had her fifth birthday this month.  She kicked off proceedings early, telling her teacher it was her birthday the week before it really was so she could sit in the birthday chair twice, cheeky!

Reminded of how ancient I am becoming by receiving a letter inviting me to apply for my state pension 👵 

So that’s almost a wrap for November, and here it is day by day, 1 Second Everyday

Friday 24 November 2023

What I’ve been reading in November

I've read three good books this month! 

I've been waiting to read this book for months now and I finally reached the top of the waiting list at the local library.  On the cover there is a quote from Nigella Lawson which says 'I am devastated to have finished it' - I know how she feels!

I don't think I would have fared too well as a housewife in America in the early 1960s.  I could not have coped with the blind acceptance of inequality between men and women.  Neither did Elizabeth Zott, a highly intelligent chemist who captures the heart of Calvin Evans, a fellow chemist at the Hastings Research Centre.  After a freak accident whilst out walking their dog, Calvin dies, leaving Elizabeth pregnant, alone and unemployed.  (Because of course an unmarried mother could not possibly be allowed to stay in her job). Needing income, Elizabeth begrudgingly agrees to host an afternoon tv cooking show.  Her unusual, scientific approach to cooking gains her an unexpectedly large female following, and the powers that be in the TV studio are not happy that she is not only teaching women to cook, she is daring them to speak up for themselves and challenge the male dominance in 'normal' life.

This was such a good book, it has moments of genuine wry humour and an intricate storyline that gradually unravels as the story reaches its end.  I am so pleased that I have finally read it!

Then it was on to the book club choice of the month, The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson. 

Mabel Beaumont's husband loved writing lists.  He would leave them for Mabel on a daily basis.  When he dies, she finds one last list which simply says 'Find D'. Mabel knows that he means that she should try to find her childhood best friend, Dot, who suddenly and unexpectedly moved away and cut all contact after the death of her fiancé Bill, who was Mabel's brother. She has not seen her for more than 60 years. 

Mabel's husband, Arthur, felt that Mabel would struggle without him and unbeknown to Mabel put into place a care visiting package to see her through the first few weeks after his death, whenever that may be.  After a small period of denial, Mabel enjoys her visits from Julie and realises how isolated she had become.  The line between carer and friend blur and when Julie hears about Arthur's request to 'Find D' she joins forces with Mabel to help track her down.  Further unlikely friendships evolve for Mabel: Patty the American ballroom dance instructor, Kirsty the young neighbour, and Erin the young shop assistant who is worried about her parents reaction when she tells them she is gay.  Through these tenuous connections the group embark on their mission to find Dot.

I enjoyed this book, it was a gentle read and I grew to love the characters and see how their interest in caring for Mabel in her time of grief changed each one of them by the end of the book.  At the end, the mystery of why Dot disappeared is revealed and showed that no matter what your age, there is still time to take risks and live your best life.

And finally, Husband and Wife by K.L. Slater

Luna and Parker are seriously injured in a dreadful car accident.  Parker's life hangs in the balance.  Their son Barney is staying overnight with Parker's parents, Cal and Nicola as Luna's parents have just returned from a long haul holiday.

The police are investigating the murder of Sarah, a single mother who has been strangled by her own scarf in an alleyway late at night a few weeks ago.  The scarf is missing.  Until Nicola goes to Luna and Parker's house to collect clothes for Barney and finds it in a bag behind their bins.  She now realises why Parker reacted the way he did when she told him that she was going to go to his home to pick up a few bits and pieces for Barney to have while his parents are in hospital.  "Don't.  Go.  There."

Did Parker murder Sarah?  Or did Luna think that he was having an affair with her and kill her in a fit of violent jealousy?  Nicola doesn't know what to think.  She idolises her son and cannot believe that he would be capable of such a crime.  Her husband, who does not have a good relationship with his son, seems to have his suspicions. They both know that Luna has a violent temper and is obsessively jealous.  Who could it be? 

Well, my guesses as to who killed Sarah and why went backwards and forwards.  Each chapter is written from the point of view of the different characters and in different time frames and with each chapter I changed my mind.  I've enjoyed other K L Slater books that I have read and this one was no exception!

Monday 20 November 2023

Me on Monday

 Coco is hoping that this week will be less traumatic than last week.  When I wrote my post last Monday we knew she had a vets appointment but she didn't.  When we dropped her at the vets on Tuesday morning none of us had any idea that when we picked her up she would have eleven less teeth.  Eleven!  Poor Coco.  So she is quite enjoying specially cooked dinners of poached chicken or fish, rice, scrambled egg and pasta.  It doesn't seem to have bothered her at all thankfully and it all seems to be healing nicely.

The downstairs loo is finished - I was pleasantly surprised that Paul managed to remove the old basin and replace it with a nice new streamlined sink and vanity unit all by himself.  Towel rails and mirror still need to go up but both are quick easy tasks.  Clearly I need to find him another project to keep him from getting bored!

Very hard to take a photo of such a small room!

We had a fun night out on Friday at our local theatre.  Our friend is in the local musical theatre group and we decided to get tickets to support them.  Our expectations were exceeded - it was so professional and we had a really fun evening.  

So what does this Monday hold?  My friend Dani will be celebrating her 65th birthday next weekend and a group of those of us who used to work in the same office as her are getting together for a lunch in a nearby pub restaurant so that is a nice way to start the week.

Then another birthday girl will be celebrating - Rosie will be five on Tuesday.  She had a wonderful party at their home on Saturday with six friends.  The highlight of which was a visit from a Disney princess who entertained them with songs and games.  Lucky girl!

We're hoping to squeeze in a shopping trip to Cambridge at some point, I really need to start some Christmas shopping.  Have you started yours?  We were at my cousins yesterday and she has finished - yes, finished - hers and even done all the wrapping too!  

Monday 13 November 2023

Me on Monday

 We’ve been busy since you last visited, the redecoration of the downstairs loo has moved up a gear. We have quite the team effort, I cut the wallpaper, carefully sorting out the pattern match,Paul pastes and fixes it on the wall, and Coco … well 

Coco walks on it when I turn round to get the scissors.  Anything you put on the floor, that dog thinks it’s there for her to lay on! Hopefully, today will see the end of the wallpapering and Paul can turn his attention to fitting the new taps and unit.

I wasn’t too well last week, I picked up some kind of 24 hour stomach bug which started Monday afternoon. Fortunately I was well enough for my hairdresser appointment the following day although I did ask him to cut and colour it as fast as he could, just in case!  Luckily it was a short lived thing as we were at a friend's house for a curry night on Saturday, I must admit that on Monday evening I was not looking forward to it but was feeling a lot better in time to have a nice evening and enjoy my meal!

Coco has an operation booked for tomorrow. She refuses to let us brush her teeth and although she has a daily dental stick, her teeth are in need of a descale which has to be done under general anaesthetic. I know I will be anxious about her all day.

It's a wet and miserable day here today - perfect weather for staying inside and decorating!  How are things where you are?

Monday 6 November 2023

Me on Monday

I couldn't help but take a photo of this gorgeous acer tree while we were out on a dog walk yesterday, isn't it beautiful?

I wonder if, when you read this, my new washing machine will have arrived?  Today is supposed to be the day and boy do I have many a pile of washing to do!  It has been lovely knowing that my ironing pile was non existent but that is all about to change.

I have a week off from Zumba this week.  My teacher boarded a plane for South America on Saturday and won't be back for six months!  She runs her classes with someone else so there'll be no excuse for becoming unfit while she is gone but just for this week there are no lessons.  She is originally from Venezuela and has family dotted around South America so is spending time with her new husband travelling ... on motorbikes! What an experience.

So last week I 

  • Finally found a pair of trainers that I liked and seem beautifully comfortable (I have been looking for almost a year!)
  • Halloween happened. We had no trick or treaters again this year - thankfully I hadn't bought a lot of sweets 'just in case' so I don't have to eat it all myself.
  • We met up for lunch with two other couples which was lovely
  • Although it was Guy Fawkes time, there weren't too many fireworks nearby, hopefully people had gone to organised displays.  However we did have an hour where Coco was terrified and we just felt so helpless, she just stares at us as if to say 'do something, make it stop'
  • Another unexpected Saturday of seeing Jon and his children. Sophie has a series of hosting work events in the lead up to Christmas and as the weather was wet and miserable, coming here for the day was a good way of entertaining the children!  Funny how 'a few hours' becomes 10.30 - 6pm!
  What does this week hold - apart from doing quite a few loads of washing?  Not to mention the inevitable ironing?  Actually not too much, apart from a hairdressers appointment and a curry night with three other couples.  Thankfully not our turn to host as the renovation work on the downstairs loo has started and there's a lot of 'making good' to do after removing the tiles by the sink.  It's going to look very different in there when it is done - let's just say it will be a little bit tropical!