Saturday 30 June 2018

A sentence a day for June

Joining in again with Leslie and recording my days, a sentence at a time {not always as simple as it sounds}.

Day 1:  For someone who gets anxious at the thought of dentists, what do you think would be the absolute worst place for me to spend the first day of the new month?  (Even if it was just for a six monthly check up which revealed nothing needed to be done?) 😬

Day 2: One of the bonuses of having people over on a Saturday night is that the house is then super clean for the next few days (well, the downstairs is - I always assume guests won't be venturing upstairs to see where I've hidden all the mess)

Day 3: A fun afternoon/evening at Paul's cousin's house celebrating a big birthday, they had booked a guitar duo who played music from the early 70s and it was great to relive our youth. 

Day 4: We are having the front garden landscaped and today is the first day that the workmen are here - must remember to stock up on milk, biscuits and tea bags!

Day 5: Ventured out to the exercise class I discovered last week and although I still feel like the only new girl there, they seem a friendly bunch and next week maybe I'll be brave enough to introduce myself to some others.

Day 6: Builders have left, which gives me plenty of reading time for the online book club Leslie is hosting - it's a cracker of a book and I am constantly wanting to pick up my kindle and read just one chapter more!

(Paving complete, now to put down gravel and plant up the bare bits!)

Day 7: It was hard to get Leo to say bye bye to the bunnies in the local pet shop but I had a feeling his mum wouldn't be too happy if she came home from work and found that he'd acquired a pet.

Day 8: A brief visit from our son who'd been to buy a car ready for his return to a more rural location after 6 years of living in cities where it's easier to jump on a bus/train/tram than own a car.

Day 9: A lovely sunny day meant an impromptu trip out to the local 'Pick your own' to get some fantastic strawberries - why do they taste so much nicer when you've picked them yourself?

Day 10: My friend's daughter who was the UK Eurovision singer is back in her home town as part of a nationwide tour - of course I had to go and see her!

Day 11: Sun was shining, time to tackle the overgrown flower bed in the front garden!

Day 12: Another day, another Zumba class, the instructor had us all laughing as she told us about her trip to London at the weekend where she came across a group of naked cyclists 😱

Day 13: A trip to Cambridge where it felt like us 'locals' were far outnumbered by Chinese tourists!

Day 14: We went in search of boxes that our son can use for packing up his possessions ready for their move to their new house .. in 18 days time ... not that I'm counting 😉

Day 15: Paella night at our friends' house - this has become quite a tradition to celebrate the start of summer, they cook the most amazing paella! {and serve it with generous amounts of gin and tonic}

Day 16: A quiet day after a late night (see above!) involved a bit of internet shopping as the summer sales have started in almost every shop now and I have the perfect excuse for 'needing' new clothes as we have a holiday coming up very soon.

Day 17: Father's Day and both 'children' came to visit in the morning followed by a meal of his choice with a nice bottle of wine and then World Cup football all afternoon - his idea of a perfect Sunday!

Day 18: Football.  Harry Kane.  Nothing more to say.

Day 19:  Coco and I both had a hair cut, one of us also had our 'colourless' hairs tinted.

Day 20: Pub lunch in Widdington, why does a gin and tonic at lunchtime make you feel so sleepy in the afternoon?

Day 21: Leo's childminder is away this week so we have extra babysitting duties

Day 22: Leo has a party to go to at the weekend and has to go in fancy dress, here he is dressed as everybody's favourite man in uniform

Day 23:  Went to Trinity College, Cambridge to listen to a friend performing in a brass band concert - was such a lovely afternoon.

Day 24:  Football.  More football. Apparently we are now guaranteed to be in the next round.

Day 25: Shopping in town for last minute holiday essentials - almost time to get the suitcases out the loft and start making lists.

Day 26:  Very grateful for the fact that the Zumba instructor worked out how to use the air conditioning unit at the Rugby Club hall this morning.

Day 27:  Chilled by the paddling pool most of the day - well, I was by the pool, someone else else was hogging it to themselves

Day 28: Took Leo to Little Monsters House of Fun, a soft play area, where we both tired ourselves out chasing around the slides, tunnels, climbing frames and ball pits. 

Day 29: Took delivery of my niece's dog who will be staying for the weekend while they go camping - I wonder why they didn't want to share their tent with a 12 year old Tibetan Terrier?

Day 30:  Our guest, Ozzy, has made himself so much at home that he has taken some of Coco's favourite sleeping spots.

So that's it for June - half way through the year!  How did your month look?

Friday 29 June 2018

Scavenger hunt - 1st link up

I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm taking part in the Photographic Scavenger Hunt organised by Mary Lou over at Patio Postcards.

Quite often I find that over the course of the summer I take more than one photo for each category and then choose my favourite so just because these ones have made the cut so far, they may be replaced by the end!

The Rosiness of Red


 A framed view

 A pile of

A field of plenty

 Something that could be from a favourite book/movie/song


Mellow Yellow

Are you joining in too?  It's not to late to start!

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Holiday shopping

Our holiday is getting closer now and I'm starting to make packing lists and gradually move clothes and toiletries into the spare bedroom ready to be packed.  

'Do you need anything else for the holiday?' my husband asked when I mentioned I was going into town yesterday.  'No, I've got everything I need' I replied.

And then I went into town.  And I just popped into Accessorize to see what they had in their sale.  And then I suddenly realised that maybe there was something else I 'needed'.  Well I mean, how could I resist this?

The perfect size to take out in the evenings, so pretty, and all those beads, mirrors, shells and tassels definitely make it a holiday bag.  And half price.  How could I resist?

Sunday 24 June 2018

An afternoon at Trinity

One of the jobs that I had when I worked at the school was Assistant to the Exams Officer.  It was one of my favourite jobs and I worked with a lovely lady who, in her spare time, played 1st Horn in a brass band.  I kept saying that I would go and see them when they were in concert locally but am ashamed to say it never happened.  We've kept in regular touch since she left the school and earlier this year she mentioned that it was the 50th anniversary of the band and they were having a celebratory concert in the building where she now works.  That building is Trinity College, Cambridge.   {A far cry from the local High School where we met!}

So the date has been in the diary for many months now and even though I'm not a huge fan of brass band music, I was looking forward to actually seeing her perform.  Paul and I met up with two other couples {us wives had all worked at the same school together} for lunch before the concert - a slight mix up in an offer the restaurant was offering meant that we were given one whole bottle of prosecco and 4 extra glasses free - I'm still not sure how that happened but I'm not one to turn down a free glass of fizz! 🍾

Anyone who has ever seen the film Chariots of Fire will know about Trinity College.  To this day students compete to see who can run around the Great Court within the time it takes the college clock to strike the hour of 12.  It's a distance of about 400 yards and the clock takes about 44 seconds to chime.  Apparently the clock sticks each hour twice, one low tone and one high so that gives you a little extra time!

So much history about this place,  it was founded by Henry VIII in 1546 and famous alumni include Isaac Newton, Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson, several British Prime Ministers and A A Milne, whose original manuscript of The House at Pooh Corner is housed in the library there.  

You may see from the photos that there is no one walking across the grass - that is absolutely forbidden unless you are one of the 190 Fellows of the College, there is a very strict looking man in a bowler hat keeping an eye on you at all times just in case you felt the urge to take a short cut between the buildings!  

It was a fabulous afternoon and I feel so privileged to have been able to see inside such a prestigious and historical building.  The acoustics in the chapel were brilliant and they played a wide variety of styles of music, finishing on Crown Imperial which sounded so majestic in those surroundings.

There is also a remote possibility that I may have found another photo to tick off the list - although Paul thinks I am pushing the boundaries a bit to think that the organ in the chapel could constitute  2 - Stripes.

And guess what?  I still didn't get a photo of Cambridge cyclists for Pedal Power!  

Thursday 21 June 2018

Double takes

I know we are both retired, and that we now have every day free, but it seems that if we rarely have a spare minute.  People did warn me about this!  So yesterday I actually wrote on the calendar 'pub lunch' so that we definitely got out and did it.

It was a glorious day and we headed out to a little old country pub about 20 mins drive from here that has a reputation for good food.  Not a huge menu, and definitely not posh surroundings but a typical old fashioned British pub.  We had a fab meal and then went on a little drive around the area where we came across a little barn development which housed some random businesses.  An antiques barn, a cafe, a little deli and a shop selling random bits and pieces.  'There's got to be something here that fits the scavenger hunt photos' I thought to myself.  And then I saw it, something that fits two criteria in one.

8 A pile of and/or 16 Something that could be from a movie

Good old Harry Potter!  I still can't believe I made it home without actually buying one of these, I'm sure I could have found something to store in it. 

Carrying on with some of the memes I am joining in with this summer, I've just finished reading The Wife Between Us as part of an online book club.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, if you like a story that has a few twists and turns along the way this will definitely keep you interested.  I love it when I get a book that makes me want to read just one chapter more!  We had to vote for which book we would read and there was another on the list I liked the sound of so when I'd finished the book we were discussing I read Little Fires Everywhere.  This was one of those books that I didn't want to end, I want to know what happened to Izzy, Mia and Pearl next!  How's your summer reading list looking?

Monday 18 June 2018

Me on Monday

This is my first day of not really having anything definite planned which probably means that I have no excuse for not doing some housework 😉 {well of course I can't do anything before I've written this blog post can I?}

Last week flew by and I happily ticked another picture off the Scavenger Hunt list (and absolutely no doubt about this one filling the criteria)

3. A framed view

We went to Cambridge on Wednesday which is possibly my most favourite place to go shopping.  Just love the atmosphere there and as we passed Corpus Christi College I realised that this is a perfect example of the wonderful university architecture in the city.  It makes it look as if we were the only people there doesn't it?  Well we weren't - I had to wait for dozens of Chinese tourists to move out of the way so I could get a picture of the building framed nicely inside the archway.  Because Cambridge is so popular with visitors, this time of year you can often feel that, apart from the university students, you are one of the few English people there!  

I also love going to Cambridge because there is a tiny Sicilian restaurant there called Aromi where they do fabulous snack lunches.  You have to get there early as by 12.30 all the tables are full.  It's not smart and it's not fancy, you sit on stools up at wooden trestle tables but the flavour of the food - oh wow.  I can never manage anything sweet after I've had my favourite - Spianata Saporita (pancetta, provola cheese, roasted peppers, caramelised onions and parsley sandwiched between glorious Italian sourdough bread and toasted) but Paul always manages one of their occur di bue biscuits - two rounds of thin shortbread with pistachio cream in the middle.

I realise now that I'm home again that I missed a perfect opportunity to tick off another picture for Pedal Power. Cambridge is a real cyclist city - and I could easily have found a photo opportunity.  Oh well, a perfect excuse to go back again soon!  Talking of cyclists, the lady who takes my Zumba class was in London last weekend and while walking back to the tube station, was passed by dozens and dozens of cyclists - but not any ordinary cyclists, they were all naked 😳 How uncomfortable would that be?  She showed us a couple of photos she took as proof - there was one exhibitionist happy to have his photo taken, let's just say he had indulged in some rather clever body art in the guise of an elephant.  I'll leave you with that image in your mind ...

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Scavenger photos

The sun was shining, we had family coming over for lunch the next day, the dog was anxious for a walk and so we decided to pop over to our local 'Pick your own' farm on Saturday afternoon to tie up all those loose ends and get some strawberries for Sunday's dessert.

I had in mind that I might also be able find something to tick off another picture on the Scavenger Hunt list.  

The dog was slightly disappointed to find that after we had clipped on her lead, we then got her into the car and with a 'this wasn't what I had in mind' look in her eyes we set off.  It was only a short journey - 6 miles maybe? - but Coco cried for most of it.  You've never seen a dog leap from a car so quickly once we undid her car harness - she's such a drama queen.   As she excitedly sniffed for rabbits and all manner of other farm smells, I spied a sign at the end of the car park.

That will do brilliantly, I thought.  Something from a song title.  Everyone will have heard of that one - brilliant.  With a spring in my step I led Coco in the general direction of the picking fields and we filled our containers with strawberries and gooseberries (husband loves gooseberry crumble and I don't so this is his chance to stock the freezer up with the essential ingredients).  Fortunately I took some other photos while I was there because guess what?  Something from a song title isn't one of the challenges on the list!  Where did I get that idea from?  There is Something that could be from a favourite book/movie so I guess I had confused that - or more likely, seen a photo opportunity and made something up to go with it!

So yes I did get a Scavenger Hunt photo - just not the one I thought I had ...

10 - A Field of Plenty

Friday 8 June 2018

Being a newbie

I ended up taking my grandson to his music and movement activity class on Monday as his mummy was not feeling well.  We pushed open the door and walked in and I felt his little chubby arms grasp my leg and give a little squeeze.  The ladies who take the class welcomed him in and showed me which cushion he usually liked to sit on.  Other toddlers arrived and took their places and little by little he ventured a little further away from me, to investigate a plug socket or knock on the glass panel of a door.  A stray plastic ball had rolled into the corner which needed to be collected and soon it was time for the class to begin.  They start with a song which includes everyone's name, 'hello xxx, hello xxx, hello xxx, we're glad that you are here'.  On the whole he joined in, and whilst he wasn't one for steadfastly sitting on my lap and refusing to join in anything on his own, he equally wasn't the first child in the centre of the room, choosing his instrument or marching to the music.  I'd say that after the first 5 minutes he was cautiously confident.

A week previously I had experienced something similar myself.  In an effort to keep fit (get fit?) I had found an exercise class called Zumba Gold which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.  Fun dancing and aimed at 'the 50s and over' - well I certainly fit that criteria!  Coincidentally it was held in the same venue as the Tiny Tempo class I went to, but a different hall.  I opened the door, everyone else was standing around in groups of two or three, chatting and laughing.  I'm sure everyone didn't turn round and look at me as I walked in, but it felt a bit like they might have!  If I'd been 58 years younger, I'd probably been looking around for someone's leg to cling onto as I walked towards the instructor.  She made me feel incredibly welcome and explained about the class and I quickly sneaked to the back of the room to put down my water bottle and bag.  I cautiously joined the end of the back row and waited for the music to start.  

It was such fun and although clearly everyone else there knew each other, smiles and goodbyes were exchanged at the end of the class and I knew I would return.  This week, I recognised a face in the crowd and we shared a quick conversation about living close to one another and half way through, the lady standing next to me introduced herself and asked if I was enjoying it.  And I kept thinking that this must be exactly how our little boy feels when he is suddenly put in a group of new people, we encourage him to smile and join in even when it would be much easier to keep on your own in the corner.  

Taking that first step in something new, it can be a bit daunting, but we are big and brave and we aren't going to let it stop us joining in and having fun!

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Online book club

It's very handy that I have a lot of free time on my hands at the moment because I've joined in with Leslie's online book club and the first book has been chosen.

Leslie chose a selection of books for us to vote for and this is the one which won.  I voted for it as It looked like the kind of book I would have chosen if left to my own devices so I was quick to download it to start reading.  

Now I've started, I can't stop!  It really is a page turner and clues are being drip fed into us as to what the whole story is really about.  I won't reveal any more as there is nothing worse than a spoiler when you are reading and enjoying a book, but let's just say that I am taking full advantage of not having to clutter up my days with going out to work!  

Has anyone already read this book? It doesn't seem to be out in paperback in the UK yet, but if you fancy a gripping read and don't mind downloading rather than having a physical book in your hand, I'd recommend it.  

I just hope the ending is as good as the first three quarters ...

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Scavenger hunt photos

I mentioned in yesterday's blog post that I am starting to search for photos that fit the categories in the photographic scavenger hunt organised by Mary Lou.  I joined in with my first photo hunt several years ago now and it was so much fun to try and find a slightly different take on some of the challenges rather than the obvious.  Yesterday's finds are filed under 'taking the category literally' - a red rose for The Rosiness of Red and a bottle of oil with the right name for Mellow Yellow.  Today I have something a little different.

Number 18 on the list is Currency; Coinage or Paper (the odd, the different, the beautiful.       I set about the house searching for something that would fit the bill.  My son went Interrailling around Europe a few years ago and has a pot of random coins from his travels, a Hungarian Forint, a Zloty from Poland and many different versions of the Euro.  There was even an old Peseta from the days before Spain introduced the Euro.  Then while paying for something in a shop, I remembered that a about 10 years ago they designed something a little bit different much closer to home.  The Royal Mint designed new coinage which, when you placed the back of one of each type of coin in formation, it would make a picture of the shield which was on the back of our old style pound coins. 

The real challenge was to find one of each of the coins as they change the designs on our coins quite regularly and while I can't show a picture of the pound coin with the whole shield on (they were withdrawn from circulation last year when they introduced a new 12 sided coin) I have managed to track down the coins that make up the jigsaw.

Another picture to tick off the list!

Monday 4 June 2018


There's been no shortage of advice from people when I've told them I'm taking early retirement and it's interesting to see how different people view it in different ways.

I've been told to keep busy and I've been told to not feel guilty about doing nothing.

I've been told to take up a new interest and I've been told to get more involved in hobbies I already have.

I've been told to spend as much time as I can doing not very much in the garden and I've been told to get out an about as much as I can.

Everybody who is already retired seems to have an opinion and each one is different.  I didn't realise that this was going to be such a controversial moment!  I think that if I do a bit of everything that everybody has suggested I'll probably have more than enough to fill my days.

Of course day one of my new life is not totally relaxing, the builders have just arrived to start replacing the paving in the front garden and so I predict a morning of tea and coffee making to keep them happy.  My daughter isn't feeling well so I've offered to take my grandson to his toddler music activity class this morning and then we had already planned to pop over to the next town as she needs some new work clothes and it's not easy to shop with a toddler in a buggy who's intent on grabbing everything that passes within reach.  

I've managed to capture two of the photos I need for the Scavenger Hunt that Mary Lou is hosting - we spent the afternoon and evening at Paul's cousin's yesterday and their garden is so lovely, and it was easy to find something for The Rosiness of Red

And then whilst cooking, I noticed the brand of oil that I use perfectly fits Mellow Yellow

Time to go and put the kettle on again, those workmen are probably thirsty!

Friday 1 June 2018

A Sentence a Day for May

Joining in again with Leslie and the plan to jot down one sentence a day to journal our months.

❂ ❂ ❂

Day 1:  I can officially say that I am leaving work 'this month' and can easily count the number of working days left - 14 (not that I'm counting 😉).

Day 2: What a miserable wet, dark day - having to plan indoor activities to occupy Leo is much harder than when you can get out to spend time at the park.

Day 3: Back to Fitsteps tonight, I don't seem to be able to find an excuse not to go as I have done a full inventory of body parts but can't find anything that hurts/aches/feels a bit dodgy - it'll be fun when I get there, it's just the getting changed into gym clothes and leaving the house that's the hard part.

Day 4: An impromptu message to friends to see if they were free resulted in a fun evening sharing a couple of bottles of wine and enjoying a lovely warm evening sitting in the conservatory.

Day 5: A day of 'firsts' - had to use the air con in my car for the first time this year, also heard the sound of 'leather on willow' for the first time this season as the local cricketers did their final training for the first of their home matches this weekend (living so close to the local cricket field can mean that we find random cricket balls in our front garden when the batters have been overenthusiastic!) and I was pleasantly surprised, when I was looking for an outfit to wear when we went out for dinner in the evening, to find I was able wear two separate new purchases - pink crops and blue cardigan -  for the first time when I discovered both colours matched a linen top I already had in my wardrobe.

Day 6: A day of sunshine again - how lovely to be able to sit out in the garden again - although the dog always seems to manage to hog the best seats

Day 7: Bank Holiday Monday and we were still basking in glorious sunshine so no excuse for not tackling the garden all day, despite the fact we know we will suffer aches and pains tomorrow.

Day 8: They interviewed applicants for my job today - it's all getting a bit real now, I wonder who will be sitting in my desk this time next month?

Day 9: We spent nearly all day outside with Leo in the hope that all the fresh air would tire him out and it did, after walking round to drop Coco at the groomers he had a lovely long nap while we had a restorative cup of tea in the garden.

Day 10: They can't decide who to give my job to - they have two people out of the five they interviewed that they are particularly interested in.

Day 11: Husband flew out to Portugal with his badminton buddies as one of them is getting married in June, I suspect they will be the oldest 'stags' in Albufeira!

Day 12: Eurovision Song Contest - a protester ripped the microphone out of the hands of the UK performer (my friend's daughter!) - I think everyone watching in the UK couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Day 13: I had overnight guests in the form of Leo and his mum as his dad was out for the night and they thought they would keep me company.

Day 14: Husband returns from stag weekend, slightly hungover, hungry and tired - I think he's realised that he's too old for 'lad's weekends'.

Day 15: Starting to prepare all my handover instructions for the person taking my job - coincidentally they have given it to the sister of a friend of my daughter, it really is a very small world!

Day 16: Husband doing his volunteer work over our local Country Park which means that I don't have my normal 'extra pair of hands' when looking after Leo

Day 17: Made it to Fitsteps this evening, they actually got the air conditioning working this week so it was a lot more comfortable dancing.

Day 18: Spent much of my day making 'how to ...' lists for the next person to do my job

Day 19: The Royal Wedding!  Windsor looked beautiful in the sunshine and they made such a gorgeous couple.

Day 20:  Looks like our son and daughter in law's purchase of a house 12 miles away from us is going through and we took them out to lunch to celebrate - so happy they are moving out of London and closer to home.

Day 21: Unexpected visitors this morning, while taking her husband to the station for his London commute my daughter had a tractor drive into the side of her car and she needed to calm down and get over the shock. {Damage is minimal, the huge chunky tyres just rubbed against her paintwork but from inside the car it sounded as if he'd really made an impact}

Day 22: Desperately trying to get all my work up to date ready for my last day on Friday.

Day 23: Today we took delivery of a new large sun umbrella for the garden - can I now apologise to everyone in England for jinxing the weather?

Day 24: My first farewell gathering - my work colleagues threw me a farewell supper and I only cried once, along with a very generous amount of John Lewis vouchers, they had made me a picture with lots of memories of my 17 years at the school.

Day 25: I was dreading today, as I knew it was going to be emotional but I managed to keep tear free until the very end - then went out for a delicious Indian meal with friends in the evening to celebrate my early retirement.

Day 26: A glorious day in the garden and a bit of 'up cycling' of an old table Paul found hidden away under a shrub in his Mum's garden, we should have taken a 'before' photo to show the peeling varnish and decaying wood.

Day 27: Got to love sunny Sundays spent in the garden, when you live in the UK you realise you have to make the most of every dry warm day because you never know what tomorrow's weather will bring.

Day 28: Was on the hunt for a new series to start watching on TV and have decided on Safe which a lot of people have recommended - only one episode in but I think we're going to enjoy it.

Day 29: Tried a new exercise class - Zumba Gold - which seems just about right for my level of fitness and good fun - it's been a long time since I put on a belly dancing skirt or shook my maracas 😉

Day 30: My friend's daughter who was in Eurovision is playing a concert in our town in a couple of weeks and today I bought a ticket - it's so interesting to follow her rise to fame.

Day 31: A day childminding - I'm not sure we should have taken him on a visit to the local Majestic (Wine Warehouse) but he was very well behaved and we managed to get out without causing any damage to displays - touch and go at one point as he's at that age where he cannot sit still when seated in the child seat of a supermarket trolley, arms and legs grabbing at anything he passes!

So that's it for May - wow, this year is going by in the flash of any eye.  Seems like there is a quite a lot planned already for June, tune in next month for the recap!