Monday, 20 March 2023

Me on a Monday

 Good Monday morning!  I hope it is quieter where you are than it is where I am!  We had builders arrive at 8am this morning to do some work to our garden wall and they are currently at the 'removing the old bricks' stage.  My neighbours must love us 😖  This work is something that has been on the 'to do' list for several years now, the top layer of bricks have been crackling and crumbling for a while now.  Forty years of rain, snow and ice have go into them (due to the original builder of the wall using the wrong type of porous brick for the top row!) So this Monday finds me trying to think of things I need to do away from the house to escape the noise.

It was Mother's Day yesterday and I had thought that I wouldn't be seeing either R or J due to them having families of their own now who need to spoil their mums for the day.  So I had planned a nice special meal for Paul to cook me - two new recipes I liked the sound of - pistachio and apricot crumbed roast lamb and dauphinoise potato, celeriac and leek bake.  

Plans started to go awry on Friday.  R's builders decided that they needed to remove her existing kitchen that day in order to knock through the extension wall so the chance of her family cooking her a lovely lunch were non existent.  No problem, come round and have lunch here, we'll double the quantities and have a combined Mother's Day.  Then my trusty sous chef came down with a severe case of gastroenteritis!  So he spent most of Saturday and Sunday upstairs in bed keeping his germs to himself and in the end I cooked my own lunch.  It wasn't quite the relaxing day I envisioned but looking on the positive side, the new recipes were scrumptious!

So this Monday finds me feeling a little like my birthday balloons

A little crumpled, a little deflated and a little past their best!

Monday, 13 March 2023

Advice for a Monday

 I bought a get well soon card for a friend last week and on the back of the card was this advice

And I thought, what excellent suggestions, so I thought it would be perfect to share!

It was a wet, snowy and wild week last week and I had little inclination for leaving the house unless I absolutely had to.  The midweek highlight was a lovely lunch celebrating my friend's win at the Romantic Novelist Organisation's awards evening.  Her latest novel won the Romantic Thriller Award.  Then we ended the week on a lovely high note.  Early celebrations with all the family which involved balloons, party games and cake.  I'll say no more!

Monday, 6 March 2023

Me on Monday

 Here we are again at the start of a new week - forecast for even lower temperatures so I can feel myself slipping into hibernation mode again!

It was a funny old week last week with more medical appointments than I would like. P was ok, his was a blood donation appointment and he's just heard that his 51st pint of blood has been sent to the Royal Middlesex hospital to be used.  Mine involved blood too.  A routine request for a repeat prescription of an allergy spray turned into a 'we haven't checked your diabetes risk for a few years now and you really ought to be sent for a bone density scan' (the joys of approaching 65!) So I was having an HbA1c blood test.  I'm starting to regret all the chocolate I ate over Christmas now!  Watch this space.  R then saw an ENT consultant for what she thought may be labyrinthitis as she has been very congested with dizzy spells.  But no. They think it may be Meniere's disease so she's been for MRIs and is due for a hearing test too.  Now, if anyone reading this knows anybody who has this I'd love to hear from you as it is a bit of an unknown to us.

It wasn’t all medical visits though, there was some of this

Crocheting in the sunny conservatory while Coco had a little doze!

And my son turned 33.  Thirty Three! How did that happen?  It does seem strange to think that my youngest is now that old, and that he's now a year older than I was when he was born.

So this week is cold and damp and it would be very easy to just stay home in warm comfy clothes.  But I am meeting up with my author friend tomorrow for lunch.  I am hoping that we will be in a celebratory mood, as tonight she is going to the Romantic Novelist Awards where she is nominated for her most recent book 'Six Days' which is in the Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller category.  We'll still be celebrating even if she doesn't win as it is such an honour to even be shortlisted.  She won the Contemporary  Romantic Novel award in 2022 so we are hoping that she will be successful again this year.

Keep you fingers crossed for her!

Friday, 3 March 2023

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

 Well, January seemed to last at least a whole year and February then flew by but here we are again for our monthly chat.

So, this month I think we should talk biscuits - or cookies!  What are your favourites?By the way, the biscuit tin is open, please help yourself.

I have different favourites for different times of day.  Do you remember the old advert from the 80s for Rich Tea biscuits - 'a drink's too wet without one'?  That's how I feel about my afternoon cup of tea.  That always has to have a plain biscuit to accompany it but instead of Rich Tea biscuits my favourite's are called Abernethy.  They have a delicious butteriness about them with just a little bit of crumble.  In the absence of one of those, a plain oaty biscuit will fill the gap.  Do you dip a biscuit in your hot drink?  I don't, but my grandchildren like to dip one in my cup and I hate the end of the drink where you have lots of soggy crumbs lurking in the bottom.  There's always a split second between 'just soft enough' and 'sorry Nanny my biscuit has fallen into the mug'.

Mid morning will usually involve a bit of chocolate somewhere.  Either a dark chocolate digestive or a Chocolate Liebniz.  If I have a friend come for coffee and I haven't baked a cake I will try to have a stem ginger cookie to offer as well.  I like it when you go out for coffee and they offer a Biscoff biscuit (or two), the lovely caramel crunch is perfect.

Please don't ever leave me alone with a box of Cadbury's chocolate finger biscuits, it won't end well and there'll be none left for anyone else.  If you are looking for pure luxury the pistachio and clotted cream biscuits from Fortnum & Mason are delicious but just look at the price!  I wouldn't be handing those around the grandchildren!

Have I made you hungry?  Please let me know your favourites and I just may have to sample one to see if it makes my favourites list!

Monday, 27 February 2023

What I’ve been reading in February

 This month’s book club choice is All the Broken Places by John Boyne

As you can see, this month I have the actual book rather than a kindle download!  The price of the book to download was higher than I wanted to spend at the time that I looked, but a search on Music Magpie found me a hardback copy for £6 less than Amazon.  I know I didn't get it immediately, but it only took 48 hours to arrive on my doorstep.  Plus I can pass this on to a charity shop so someone else can read it after I have finished.  Anyway, onto my review!

This book is the sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

The book moves between 1946 and present time and we meet Gretal Fernsby, an elderly lady living in an apartment in a prestigious London flat.  She is a widow with a grown up son about to embark on his fourth marriage.  Her downstairs neighbour has moved out and she is anxious about who her new neighbours will be.  

Going back to 1946, we learn of Gretal and her mother leaving their homeland in search of safety.  Her father has been hanged and her brother has died.  They need to find a new home where they are not judged by the deeds of her father.  If you have read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas you will already have met Gretal's brother, Bruno.  At which point you will realise that you are in for an emotional read.

The new downstairs neighbours are not the quiet, happy family that she was hoping for and Gretal soon discovers that the husband is hiding his own secret which endangers his wife and son.

I would love to expand more as there are many layers to this story, but am anxious not to reveal any 'spoilers'.  I really enjoyed it, it was well written and the moves from year to year and place to place are well spaced and flow well to fill in the missing parts of Gretal's story.

The next book I chose has recently been made into a film with Tom Hanks.  A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

When we first meet Ove he is in the process of trying to buy a computer.  Having picked up a box which contains an 'O Pad' he can't understand why he can't connect a keyboard.  He has no patience with the young sales assistant who quickly hands him over to a colleague.  We are already getting an insight into the attitude of Ove.  We next see him when his is conducting his daily early morning routine of inspecting his neighbourhood.  Grumpy, and insistent on the strict following of rules, Ove is not happy about having been made to vacate his post of Chairman of the Residents' Association when clearly all the other residents are idiots.  

Oh how I grew to love Ove and see behind all his idiosyncrasies.  I didn't want the story to end.  The characters were so well described and it was interesting to see how they all had a part in Ove's life.  The story is neatly tied up at the end where we learn of the exact reason why he is in that technology shop in the first place but view the exchange with more awareness of why Ove is the way he is.

It has left me wanting to see the film as all through the book I could see and hear Tom Hanks!  

Friday, 24 February 2023

#WBOYC The February edition

Last month Australian Deb from the other Deb's World used the initials from her WOTY to highlight things she'd done in the month so I am brazenly blog-lifting her idea as a different way of seeing 'What's been on my calendar'


Feeling tidier after having a hair cut - I feel like I need a change next time but can't decide whether or not to go shorter


Eating and exercising.  Two meals out with friends and four Zumba lessons.  I need to keep/get fit because I have been busy arranging something to go on our July calendar, we have ...


... Booked our summer holiday - We have a week in Sicily on the calendar now, I'm anxious to leave winter behind so it is lovely to have something overseas planned even if I do have to wait five months!


Reading our online book club's choice All the Broken Places by John Boyne.  This is the sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjama and was a good pick.  I'm also reading A Man Called Ove which is now a film with Tom Hanks in the main role.  I'm really enjoying it and think that Tom Hanks is the perfect actor to play the character of Ove.  


Unpicking a few rows of crochet that I tried to do while watching the last episode of Happy Valley - honestly, I'll never know why I thought I could concentrate properly on both at the same time! Have you been watching it?  Such a brilliant drama - the acting was superb. Want to see how the blanket is coming along? There is at least one mistake that I know of but I'm hoping that no one else will notice it!


Also booked a long weekend away in May to one of our favourite places in the UK - Southwold.  This will be Coco's holiday too as we've booked a dog-friendly cottage.  In fact the whole of Southwold is dog friendly so we feel very comfortable taking her with us. 


Returned our Covid tests to the Office of National Statistics.  Every month we are sent a PCR test and a blood antibody kit which we have to return within 14 days.  It helps the ONS calculate the amount of people who may have Covid without having any symptoms.  In return for us doing that we are sent a £20 voucher - we've been doing this for two years now and I'm wondering how much longer they will ask us to continue.


Yes to all the pancakes on Shrove Tuesday! We can have pancakes any day in the year, why do I only think about making them when Shrove Tuesday appears on the calendar?

So would you like to see how February looked so far - 1 Second Every Day?

Now please pop over to the Australian Deb's World and see what she packed into her busy February!  

Monday, 20 February 2023

It's all in the accessories

 You'll have heard me mention my Zumba exercise class in previous monthly round ups and how much I enjoy that hour of dancing, so for this Monday's post I thought I would share a little of what we do.  

My instructor is a powerhouse of energy - and her enthusiasm is so contagious.  We are all ladies of a certain age so our version of Zumba is called Zumba Gold but don't think that means she doesn't put us through our paces!  She is in her early 50s and originally from Venezuela.  She absolutely loves her latin music and dances.  We have so much variety in our routines from modern chart music to Bollywood via salsa and line dancing!  We never know what combination of routines we will be doing.

So my bag of 'props' is growing by the week.  This week it had to include wearing something red as it was Valentine's week (I chose a tutu and feather boa) and a hat for line dancing.  I don't have a stetson so a beach hat had to improvise!

The bag also contained a pair of maracas, belly dancing coin skirt, finger scarves and a large scarf for swishing around in flamenco inspired songs.  Honestly, it is so much fun.  Everyone is so friendly and it's such a great atmosphere in there.

The first time I went, I was on my own and a little apprehensive in case the Zumba part of it was too intense for me but I was soon absorbed into the group and realised that everyone was so friendly and no one took it too seriously.  It's all about having fun and keeping active.  It's not always easy to make new friends as you get older but a class like this is absolutely perfect for getting to know new people.  

If you've never tried this kind of exercise before, and I say this as someone who is not  one of the most energetic people in the world, please do consider trying it if you see a class advertised.  It really is one of the best decisions I made when I took early retirement!