Monday, 15 August 2022

It's Monday!

 The weather forecasters have been saying for a week that the heatwave will end today.  Much as I don't like it when the weather is cold, this hot weather has really worn me down and I am more than ready for cooler temperatures.  I feel like I have wished the days away over the weekend, I couldn't settle to anything and just moved from outdoors in the shade to indoors by a fan.  What will the week bring I wonder?

Last week we had more childminding than planned as R's childminder had to take her husband to hospital on Thursday.  In case you were wondering, temperatures in the mid 30s added to two energetic children three days in a row really saps your energy!  

By the end of that we had earned a relaxing night out!  We went to friends in the evening on Friday for our annual paella evening - it was delicious. 

It was such a gloriously warm evening.  The intense heat had gone and it was a perfect temperature for eating on the patio.  We were still sitting in their garden at 11.30pm when we realised what the time was and thought we should head for home.  

A much needed quiet weekend was on the cards and the most that I did was investigate places to have a meal when we go for our long weekend in the Cotswolds. There seemed to be quite a few dog friendly pub restaurants near where we will be staying so I have booked a couple of places. 

Today I need to go to the shops to find a craft project for the children to do when they are here this week.  Last week I found some wooden birdhouses to decorate and whilst they made quite a bit of mess, they really enjoyed it so I think a trip to Hobbycraft is in order for this week's activity.

Three weeks of the school holidays left so maybe I need to find triple the amount of craft projects!  

Before I go, please join me in a group rain dance - our garden is so dry and the plants are scorched, let's see if we can join together and make it happen.  {we have a good chance of being successful if the weather forecasts can be believed!}

Monday, 8 August 2022

Me on Monday

 The start of a new week, but before we talk about that, let's have a chat about some things that made me happy in the last one!

On Friday I met up with some of my ex work colleagues.  Boy there was a lot of news to discuss.  Four children involved in house moves, two with new jobs, discussions on how exhausting looking after grandchildren can be, holidays we've taken and those yet to come, and celebrating the publication of a new book.  I am privileged to always read the first edit of my friend's books and this is the most recent.

Imagine how thrilled I was to see that I am mentioned in the dedication 'To Debbie, Who reads them first' 

and also the acknowledgments.
She was telling us the general theme of her next book and it sounds very intriguing.  I don't know how she keeps coming up with new ideas.

The other big event of the week was the final stitch being made in my blanket

I want to add a couple more appliquΓ©s on some of the oblong postcards but it is more or less finished now.  It's been quite the project and although I'm pleased to have it finished, what on earth am I going to do in the evenings now?

It was the Zumba group summer party yesterday so there won't be need for exercise much today!  I had the best afternoon, we danced nonstop for about three hours, it was so much fun.  There were about 60 of us, the food was good and the singer was amazing, I think everyone was up on the dance floor for most of the afternoon. The Christmas party has already been booked for December! 

So today I am thinking about a trip to Chelmsford to do some birthday shopping as our daughter and Leo both have August birthdays.  I also need to find some kind of storage for the blankets which seem to be piling up in our lounge!  I want to find a way to keep them tidy before Paul notices that the pile is growing and is starting to look untidy. I also need to find most things in the same shop so that no too much walking is involved.  Three hours dancing the day before has taken its toll on my poor weary feet and legs!

Happy Monday!

Friday, 5 August 2022

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

 Well it's been a while since I invited you round for a cup of tea - or coffee if you would prefer - September 2014 to be exact.  We have a lot of catching up to do!  

Excuse me while I get Coco a dog biscuit while we wait for the kettle to boil, she seems to think that doing her ‘halt, who goes there?’ barking when someone comes to the front door deserves a treat every time.  I wonder if this resolves the mystery of why the numbers on the scales at the vets are going up a little bit every time we go?  

You've caught me on a tidy day.  If you were to come round on a Tuesday or Wednesday it would be a different thing altogether.  We have so many toys here that people would think I ran a creche.  I shall be packing some of them away soon.  Our routine is in for a major overhaul in September as they all move up a year in school and nursery. So my Tuesday duties will only be for a couple of hours after school ends and instead of Max on a Wednesday we will be having his little sister for the day as our daughter in law's year of maternity leave will be over.  Time to get out that box of baby toys again!  Oh, and how lovely to be looking after a little girl who still naps twice a day - quite different to an energetic three year old.

That wooly pile on the armchair?  

That's the blanket crochet-a-long I started.  Yes, it was a 6 week project and yes, it is now 10 weeks since it started it, that initial enthusiasm waned a little, then I had a holiday, then the weather turned hot ... does that sound like convincing excuses?  I've been working on it while binge watching the new season of Virgin River.  Do you watch that?  It's nice easy watching and I've come to really like all (or most of) the characters.  I have only one more row of edging to do and then 'all' I have to do is weave in the loose edges (the worst part of any wooly project!) then I will be sharing the completed project.  I have to get it finished as I shall be using it for prompt 20 of the Summertime Photo Hunt.  Nothing like a deadline to spur you on to finish!

I'm looking forward to an evening out tonight with ex-work colleagues; we used to all work in the same office. Now I am retired, one works at Cambridge university overseeing foreign students, one is a cover supervisor at the school and one is an author.  Quite a motley crew!  If past meals out are anything to go by I can predict that we will probably be the last ones to leave the restaurant as we haven't met up since March and there is lots of catching up to do.  I thought I knew what I was going to wear but then I came across a photo we took when we last met up and that's what I was wearing then - I shall have to go through my wardrobe again or they will think I only own one dress πŸ˜†

Did you notice how awful our front garden lawn is looking?  I've never seen it so scorched.  

In the interests of water conservation P has been adamant about not using hosepipes or sprinklers in the garden so our lawn has not looked good for a while.  Strangely though, the lawns of our neighbours who do use hosepipes don't look any better than ours!  I know it will grow green again but it's horrible to see it so brown.  We have two water butts in the back garden and he's been using the water from those to water the pots in order to keep a little bit of colour out there but it's looking very sorry for itself isn't it?  There is not much water left in them now and no rain forecast for the next few weeks so I don't think it will look better the next time you come round either!

Well, that last row of blanket isn't going to crochet itself is it?  I ought to do a few more stitches.  Thank you for joining me for a drink - please come back again next month!

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Looking back

 I was looking back on old blog posts yesterday - I can't remember what I was looking for before I found myself stepping back in time - but it made me quite nostalgic.  

Once upon a time there was a group of bloggers, initially brought together through a shared love of scrapbooking which then developed into a group of storytellers and experience sharers.  Over the years, one by one they dropped out of the group.  Hobbies changed, circumstances changed, families changed.  But when I looked back through some of the blog posts I realised that many of the ideas that we blogged about were prompted by a lovely lady named Sian.  Her imagination kick started our imaginations and her enthusiasm for new blog projects was very contagious.  She was also the one responsible for reviving my interest in knitting.  Without Sian, there would have been no home knitted socks in my wardrobe!  Then life moved on and Sian opened a wool shop and time for blogging was hard for her to find.  

When I look back and see the weekly/monthly memes I realise how much I miss the 'Storytelling Sunday', 'Memos, Mail and Me', 'Let's sit and have a cup of tea', 'Simply a Moment' ... there were so many tales to tell and people to share them with.  

What I realised most was that my blog posts are not of the same standard that they were then!  When I had less time (I was still working) I seemed to put more thought into what I was writing.  Or maybe as they were weekly or monthly prompts I just had more time to plan them?  But it has me wondering, maybe I should revive some of these ideas.  Shake up my blog a little by revisiting the past ideas.  

Maybe if I put my intentions out there in the blogosphere I will feel more inclined to actually do it, rather than just keep my intentions to myself!  So with that in mind, I am going to try and remember to make the first Friday in every month a 'Let's sit down and have a cup of tea' day.  A day where I'll put the kettle on and we'll have a chat about what is going on around here.  

I'll see you on Friday!  

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

A sentence a day in July

 This is the month of holidays and record breaking temperatures - July was hot!  

Day 1 Made my first holiday list, time to start thinking about what clothes I'm going to take

Day 2 Spent far too much time looking at youtube videos on crocheting small beach themed shapes to appliquΓ© on my blanket

Day 3 Coco's 11th birthday - went to Leo's school fete in the afternoon

Day 4 Last minute holiday shopping

Day 5 Had Rosie here for most of the day, Coco went to the groomers and also the vets because she seems to have an upset stomach

Day 6 Finally did the packing for our holiday, it always feels like I haven't packed enough and then when I get home I always have things that never got worn, dropped Coco at my sister's for her 'holiday'

Day 7 Taxi at 3.45am to allow us 3 hours to get through the airport for our flight to Portugal - early night tonight!

Day 8 Spent most of the day chilling on the terrace

Day 9 Invited to our neighbours for drinks and nibbles - was nice to get to know them, they have moved to Portugal from Portland, Oregon - that's quite a distance away!

Day 10 Got the local bus to Lagos, had lunch at a lovely cafe and managed to tick off a few photos for the Summertime Photo Hunt

Day 11 Was slightly overcast today and the waves were strong on the beach

Day 12 Getting into a nice relaxed routine - lunch at a cafe on the sea front with a lovely jug of sangria

Day 13 More relaxing, a couple more photos ticked off ...

Day 14 Our last full day, dinner at our favourite tapas restaurant

Day 15 Flew home in the afternoon

Day 16 My sister brought Coco back home, Rachel and family popped round too, discovered that Rosie has been very unwell while we were away and ended up at A&E a couple of times - also our son has had a nasty fall off his bike - why so much drama in the one week we go away?

Day 17 Went to friends for a barbecue - was lovely to eat out in the shade in their garden

Day 18 Temperatures are hotting up ...

Day 19 Hottest day ever in the UK, over 40 degrees registered, I am not coping well with the heat!

Day 20 It is so much cooler today - thankfully as we had Max here all day and I don't think any of us would have coped well if it were still 40+ degrees

Day 21 Zumba - no one minded being in the front row today as that was next to the big cooling fans!

Day 22 Met up for afternoon tea with a friend I haven't actually seen in person for about 10 years then a meal in the evening with a couple who used to live 3 doors away from us.

Day 23 An early birthday party for Max - he had a wonderful time!

Day 24 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch - was just the right temperature for eating out in the garden, not too hot and not too cool.

Day 25 Max's 3rd birthday - where has the time gone?

Day 26 Had Leo and Rosie here for the day, went to the Park Active event where they had a great time - also had our monthly covid tests

Day 27 Max here for the day, who needs exercise classes when you can run around after a three year old?

Day 28 Zumba in the morning, finished the last component of my blanket in the afternoon, now I 'just' have to join it all together and put a border on it.

Day 29 Coco had to have a scan on her heart as she has a slight murmur - I felt nervous all morning but relieved to find out she doesn't need treatment at the moment

Day 30 Took flowers to the churchyard as it would have been my dad's birthday on Wednesday

Day 31 Jon and Sophie (and Max and Olive!) came over for lunch, Rachel and family came over later in the afternoon too and in the evening the England women's football team won the European Championship, all in all, a very good day!

Another month over!  This one went by so fast - and here's the video condensed to 1 Second Everyday

Monday, 1 August 2022

Me on Monday

No prizes for guessing what all the newspaper headlines were about in England today!  Football has finally 'come home'!  

Watching our Lionesses play in this tournament has been wonderful and what role models they all are to young girls all over the country. Their attitude and behaviour has been inspirational and they deserve every celebration going.  What a way to start a week!

Let's just do a quick round up how last week looked around here.  Well there was less socialising than the previous week but I met up with my old school friends on Monday evening; it's so good to see everyone and I'm still amazed that we are still meeting up 46 years after we left school.

It was a normal week of childminding - Rosie and Leo on Tuesday and Max on Wednesday.  They certainly keep us on our toes and I bet I burn as many calories doing that as I do at my Thursday Zumba class.

Friday was stressful as Coco had to go for her heart scan.  She wasn't allowed breakfast and had to be at the vets for 8.30.  Rather than go home and worry about what news they may have for us we decided to go to Saffron Walden.  We go there fairly frequently, it's just a lovely old historical town.  Not many of the big named shops, but lots of independent retailers which I prefer to support.  We have walked past this building many times 

It's quite typical of the style of old buildings there, but we had never noticed this sign before

Apparently it was Oliver Cromwell's headquarters in 1647. 

On the way home we had a call to say Coco was ready to collect and whilst there is evidence of a heart murmur it is quite mild and she doesn't require treatment at the moment.  Back in 3 months to monitor it.  We were so relieved and she was spoilt for the rest of the day.  Didn't even get told off when she made herself comfortable on the 'work in progress' blanket

Friday was pretty eventful for my sister's side of the family.  My nephew's son (her grandson) has been participating in a ten week training course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall and Friday was his passing out parade.  It's been a lot of hard work and strenuous activity and we are all so proud that he is now officially part of the Royal Navy.  I'm sure that there were more than one or two tears shed - happy tears though!

So what does this week hold?  At the moment the diary is pretty clear apart from childcare.  No Zumba this week but we do have our Summer Party on Sunday.  I can guarantee now that when a group of Zumba classes get together, there will be lots of action on the dance floor!  I just need to work out which are my most comfortable shoes to dance in ...

Saturday, 30 July 2022

What I've been reading in July

 I always read at least a couple of books when I go away on holiday so I have a few books to share this month!

The first is The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley which was our book club choice for this month.

After an unpleasant incident in London, Jess decides to take some time out in France and visit her half brother, Ben who is a journalist.  On arrival in Paris she receives a voicemail from Ben with details of how to gain entry to his apartment block and to say that he will be there to meet her.  However, on arrival, Ben is not answering his door and seems to have mysteriously disappeared.

Jess finally manages to gain entry to the building but Ben's absence is confusing. She gradually gets to know the other residents of the block.  But there is an underlying feeling that no one is who they appear to be, and that everyone is harbouring a secret.  Jess also realises that the other residents do not seem to particularly like her brother.  She is also puzzled, because this is a very prestigious building, how on earth can Ben afford to live here?  He had come to Paris to visit his friend Nick while carrying out research and has now simply disappeared.  A more careful listen to his voicemail reveals background noises which may give some clues as to what happened.

I have mixed feelings about whether or not I would recommend this book.  It was a little slow in places and some of the characters seemed a little cliche but it has a twist at the end that I did not anticipate.


I then moved onto another mystery - The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. 


In 1972 a ferry leaves the coast of Cornwall bringing over a crew member for his stint on the remote lighthouse, Maiden Rock.  When they arrive, the lighthouse is locked from the inside, there are the remains of a meal on the table, the clocks have stopped at exactly the same time and the three lighthouse men are nowhere to be seen.  When the investigations begin they find that the weather log which was completed daily by the Principal Keeper bears no resemblance to the actual weather conditions that the area has experienced.  He has noted storms raging around the lighthouse, yet in reality the weather has been fine.

Years later, a writer convinces the three women that the men left behind to speak to him about how they have coped and to ask them what they believe happened to the men they loved.  Instead of uniting the women, the tragedy has divided them and it seems impossible to find one true explanation of what happened.

Whilst this is based on a true story, I can only assume that the chapter which describes the final days of life on the lighthouse is pure fiction but it is an interesting theory on what may have happened to three very different men, with totally different life experiences, thrown together in a confined space in isolation for weeks at a time. In such unusual living conditions there can be a very fine line between reality and imagination. What really happened?


Time for a less mysterious novel!  Next on my list was The Distance Between Us by Maggie O'Farrell

On a winter afternoon in London, Stella thinks that she sees a man who she has not seen for years and the shock sends her travelling to a remote location in Scotland which has a special significance for her and her sister Nina.  Thousands of miles away in a crowd celebrating Chinese New Year, Jake is caught up in a dangerous situation which has far reaching consequences for him.  Feeling traumatised by his experience he feels obliged to make a decision that he later regrets.

As time moves on, Jake feels trapped in a situation which was never in his plans.  He is desperate to escape and in a quest to find information about the father he never knew, Jake leaves Hong Kong and finally ends up in the same location as Stella.  

This book receives conflicting reviews but I really enjoyed it!  The very odd relationship between Stella and her sister Nina is drip fed through the chapters and I felt real sympathy for Stella whose life has been shaped by an event that happened to Nina when she was growing up.  Stella clearly loves her sister, but oh how her life could have been different. 


And finally, How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Emilia returns to her childhood home in the Cotswolds following the death of her father.  She had promised that she would keep the bookshop that he opened following the death of her mother many years before.

A local property developer is anxious to buy the property and hopes that he will have more luck convincing Emilia that she would be wise to sell up, and her financial advisor confirms her fears that her father had been running the shop at a loss in order to provide a safe haven for the locals.  

Emilia finds that the bookshop is far more than just a shop which sells books, it is the centre of the community and the people who come in to browse all have a story to tell.  The lady of the manor whose association with the book shop is deeper than anyone realises.  The single dad trying to forge a better relationship with his son through reading to him.  The shy chef too timid to pursue her crush on a fellow shopkeeper.  The bride to be who cannot see the flaws in her future husband, and the man who tries to make her realise she may be making a big mistake whilst not letting her know that he has feelings for her too.

This was a nice feel good book - if you fancy visiting Peasebrook and entering Nightingale Books, I don't think you'll be disappointed!