Wednesday 30 December 2020

What a year!

As I type this, there is one day left of 2020 and I think we are all looking back at how our lives changed in the last 12 months!  Pretty dramatically for us all I think.  

 It's hard to predict what the next year will bring and I don't think I will ever assume that I can plan anything in advance any more!  Here's hoping that the new vaccine that was approved today will mean that more of us will be vaccinated sooner and maybe ... just maybe ... slow down the spread of this awful virus.  

There's a news conference in about 90 minutes time and I'm wondering what that will bring - almost certainly the rest of the country will be put into the tier that we are in I am guessing.  Probably delaying the return of children to schools.  Who knows what else?  So before Boris can upset me again I'm going to share number 19 on the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt - something yellow

That's a happy little chappy isn't it?  My cheery little Scrub Daddy, who makes washing up so much easier.  Have you tried one?  They are fab, you put your fingers in his eyes and thumb in his mouth and he can get into every nook and cranny of any baking dish!  I'm looking forward to finding the rest of the prompts once we get into the new year, and with lockdown in force I may have to be more resourceful in what I photograph.

I was buoyed up with enthusiasm after crocheting my hat, and after an encouraging phone call with my super talented friend Denise, have ordered 15 balls of wool for a blanket.  I know.  FIFTEEN!  How long will this take?  How many more phone calls will I be having with Denise?  How long before she stops answering my calls?  😂

As with the last lockdown, I am making detailed weekly meal plans and baking cakes.  How quickly I forgot how easily I put on those Covid Kilos.  Coffee and walnut sponge on the menu today, how long will that last?

New Years Eve tomorrow and like everyone else in this area, we have no plans!  Well, apart from a takeaway meal, bottle of bubbly and watching the tv.  We will wake the next day no longer part of the EU and who on earth knows how that one will pan out 😱

2021 - please, please, please be better than your predecessor!

Monday 28 December 2020

Happy Twixtmas

 So here we are in that limbo period between Christmas and New Year where we aren't quite sure what day of the week it is and we feel an obligation to eat up all the remaining Christmas food and chocolates.  Or is it just me feeling like that?

Every year we take a group photo of those with whom we spend Christmas Day.  It wasn't that hard to get us all in the view finder this year.

It did still take a few tries before we got everyone looking in the same direction though!

We did get a ten minute flurry of snow in the morning so I guess we can say we had a white Christmas but it was literally just for 10 minutes and didn't have time to settle at all.  It was very strange to spend the day on our own, but we met up with Rachel for a socially distanced walk in the afternoon before joining in a Zoom chat with my sister, niece and nephew and their associated families.

I've just taken part in a 'shake off those mince pies' Zumba class online which was good fun and has really made me feel better,  it's no good trying to convince myself that a quick walk round the block with Coco is proper exercise 😉

Being confined to home gave me the perfect opportunity to teach myself crochet though (well, at least three different types of stitches) and I am now the proud owner of a new hat!  

Although the pattern title 'One hour easy crochet hat for beginners' wasn't strictly true, or maybe I'm just a slow crocheter because it took me considerably longer than one hour!  So, what should I try and crochet next?  My friend Denise suggested a blanket but I'm not sure I'm up to doing anything that involves over 100 stitches per row!  

So there's a new jigsaw waiting for me on the table, I have the dvd of Season Sixteen of Greys Anatomy to watch and still a few chocolates that 'need' eating up - that should keep me quiet for those lockdown days shouldn't it?  

Monday 21 December 2020

New project for the new year

 This was my view for most of Friday

Short periods of sitting on the sofa with my little furry companion, followed periods of stretching exercises and gentle walking. Slow and sure wins the race (I hope!)

Whilst sitting on the sofa I was thinking that it has been a while since I did any crafting.  Even longer since I learnt a new craft.  I have a feeling that we are going to be confined to home a lot in the early new year so what a perfect opportunity to stay home and learn something new.  Something I can teach myself with the help of Youtube!  So after a bit of internet browsing I've made a decision.  I'm going (to try) to learn how to crochet.  There.  I've put it out into the public domain, now I can't go back!  My friend Denise is an amazing crocheter and I'm so often inspired to learn after seeing what she produces but I think it will be a while before I can make ripple blankets and the like.  I found a link for a pattern for a hat which appealed to me in more than one way.  It is called 'One hour easy crochet hat pattern for beginners'. I like the word 'easy' and also 'beginners' and the final thing that convinced me was the 'one hour'.  Now we all know that it will take me longer than that but hopefully if it takes less than a whole weekend it will inspire me to carry on.  Plus I'll have a new hat!  So a bit of practising has been done (using a crochet hook I found in my mother in law's knitting bag) 

I can see where I have made mistakes, I think I know how to avoid them and I've realised that the correct tension is important so now I have ordered some wool and the proper size hook and I'm ready and waiting to start!  Hopefully it will arrive in between Christmas and the new year so I can start 2021 with a new interest.

I must admit to typing up this post with a heavy heart.  Leo's prediction of best Christmas ever is not being fulfilled.  On Saturday our prime minister announced that our area was moving to a new tier, tier 4, which means no mixing with other households at all, effectively ruining the plans of millions of people.  I'm trying so hard to think positively and realise that the reasoning behind it is the new mutation of the virus in London and the South East which is spreading faster so it's for our own good but my heart is screaming 'it's not fair - only last week you said it would be 'inhuman' to change the rules over the Christmas period' yet now here we are.  So it will be dinner for two here on Friday, and my much anticipated 'being the guest not the host' will have to wait another year!  

Thursday 17 December 2020

A standing up post

 Every now and again my body reminds me that I'm not as young as I used to be and yesterday it decided I needed a reminder.  Which is explains why I will not be sitting down to type up the whole of this post!  

Yesterday was our day for caring for Max, and his car seat had been left in Paul's car.  So I decided that I wouldn't wait for Paul to come back from walking Coco to move it back into mine, I would do it myself.  As I have done dozens of times before.  Child car seats are heavy nowadays, totally different to those we thought were safe in the late 80s and 90s.  Plus they come in two parts, with a heavy 'isofix' base to put in the car first.  Anyway, you can fill in the missing bits can't you?  I got the isofix in ok, but the seat refused to sit into the runners that hold it firmly to the base.  It took more than a few attempts to seat all four corners of the seat into the base and after a few twists and turns with a heavy, cumbersome car seat in the back of a mini my back said 'enough is enough', spasmed and spent the rest of the day complaining.  After an hour's round trip driving to get Max and bring him home I was in agony and although it may be a teensy bit better today, I can't sit down for any length of time without sounding like a 90 year old when I try to stand up again.  I'm sure with a bit of rest, gentle movement and a bit of TLC it will improve a little bit every day - no Zumba for me today though! 

So let's have a cheerful face to brighten our days shall we?  Something that also fits in with the Winter Photo Hunt - number 16 A Face

He's a happy little fellow isn't he?  There's a gingerbread man trail around town at the moment and he is on guard in front of the toy shop.  You can see how empty our shopping centre is can't you?  This was taken at about 10.30am on Monday when normally the centre would be busy.  

I've a couple of other things to share that made me smile.  Both from Twitter.  I don't really post anything on Twitter, I don't think I have much to tweet about that anyone else would find interesting, but I do check it now and again especially if something controversial is happening in the news (or Strictly Come Dancing!) One of the accounts I 'follow' is called 'Thoughts of Dog' and that is all that it is.  Things that your dog may be thinking.

They all made me smile, and all for different reasons.  We all need a bit of a reminder that too much thinking is not always good for us!  If you have a dog, or cat (I'm sure they have similar thoughts!) I think you'll probably agree that this is what your pet is thinking right now.


Monday 14 December 2020

Expect the unexpected

This week we have heard of a few families close to us that have suddenly had their plans for the next couple of weeks scuppered and it's thrown me into a 'this could happen to us too' kind of spin of needing to get things done while I can!

First off, our daughter was getting herself in a tizzy about whether or not to send Leo into school after Friday 11th.  Her thinking was that if he went into school this week and then his class had to isolate, he would still be in isolation for Christmas Day.  On Thursday I had a call from her, in floods of tears.  After she calmed down she explained that the school had three members of staff who had Covid symptoms so they had made the decision to close the school early for Christmas holidays.  She was so relieved that they had made the decision for her!  All was well until Saturday.  When she received the email to say that one of Leo's teachers was one of those three and so his whole class would have to isolate.  Now this is good because his ten days will be up by next Monday, but they had plans for seeing Santa on Friday and then other things organised for the weekend.  

Then I had a message from a friend whose daughter's partner had had a positive test so he was in quarantine and now she would also have to isolate for ten days and hope she didn't develop symptoms as well.  Christmas plans to see each other after many months apart now looking a bit sketchy.

Then another friend said her daughter who was a teacher had tested positive too but again, will be out of quarantine in time for Christmas.  So when the guy came to do our weekly tests yesterday it suddenly hit me that although we are very careful when we go out, it could be us next and I am now in a frenzy of things I need to do NOW in case we have to isolate too.  

Now, number 13 on the Winter Photo Hunt is 'something beginning with C' and I am desperate for it not to be the C that we have heard far too much about this year!  So here is my photo

It's a cone!  You can't see it from the photo but it is a huge cone!  Paul belongs to a drawing and painting class and one of his prompts in the Autumn needed something from a tree.  Either leaves, or berries or ... cones.  There is a large tree near us but its branches overhang a stream and the best, largest cones were on those furthest away from the path.  We tried all manner of ways to pick one of the large cones.  Couldn't find a sturdy stick long enough, umbrella handles were too short, shaking the tree had no effect.  So he found a smaller one on the ground and decided that would have to do.  Fast forward to about two weeks ago and beneath the tree was a large branch that had been blown off in the wind, a branch long enough to reach the other branch with the biggest cones on - success - the cone was proudly brought home.  Too late for Paul's weekly project, but just in time for mine!

Have a good week!

Monday 7 December 2020

A sign of the times

That's prompt number 8 for the Winter Scavenger Photo Hunt!  

 A sign of the times in as much as it is a sign that Christmas is just around the corner but also a sign of how things have changed since I was little.  Back then (in the olden days!) we used to write our letter to Santa and then put it up the chimney at home so that it would be taken by the smoke to Lapland.  

But even this bright and shiny postbox that has appeared in town failed to put a smile on my face today.  It doesn't help that I started the day with a trip to the dentist.  And we all know how anxious a trip to the dentist makes me!  I left home with plenty of time for my 8.45am appointment only to find that the condensation on my windscreen caused by the swirling fog was actually also ice so I had to find the scraper and the de-icer before I could leave.  Then I got stuck in awful traffic going into town, arrived at the car park with 5 mins to spare, had to run to the dentist and just got through the door at my appointment time.  I thought I'd lost part of a wisdom tooth but it turns out that it's not as bad as I thought but ... there is a filling there that needs replacing as it is becoming 'unstable' (like it's owner).  So I have an appointment now in the new year to have the work done.  Oh boy. 

I went next door to the post office to post a parcel, not much of a queue, walked into town and realised I no longer had my shopping bag.  Ran back to Post Office where I found said bag on the pavement outside, I must have dropped it as I was putting my gloves back on.  I've already run more in the first few hours of the day than I have for years!  Got a few bits and pieces in town, took a parcel back to Waitrose for a refund and came home.

To be honest, I am feeling a bit 'meh' today.  Isn't it funny how every now and again this feeling hits you?  Can't quite put my finger on it, I've tried spending the morning wrapping gifts in the hope that will bring me a bit of Christmas cheer but it doesn't seem to be lifting.  Maybe a bit more card signing will improve things.  With a Christmas film on in the background. Coco tells me that a long dog walk will often lift your spirits - I think she may be right!  

Hopefully normal service will resume tomorrow!

Friday 4 December 2020

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt

 You know I'm always up for a scavenger photo hunt - and there's another one starting over at Patio Postcards which is hosted with Eileen at A bracelet of days

I've never joined in with the Winter one before but thought that it will be an ideal project for Winter 2020.

So as an introduction to the hunt, I've dived straight in with No 10 - Work in progress

Yes folks, it's Christmas card time again.  Cards are bought, address labels printed, stamps ready to stick on envelopes and pen ready for writing messages inside.  I'm going to spread this out over a few days this year, usually I set aside one evening but then the messages on the final few cards are always slightly shorter than those I did at the start when I was full of enthusiasm!  

Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday 1 December 2020

A sentence a day in November

 Oh November, you didn't start off too good did you?  Being plunged back into lockdown was not how I wanted to spend this month but hey ho ...

Day 1 Had Rachel and family here for our last Sunday lunch for a month, feels a bit unreal to think that we are heading back to lockdown in a few days time.

Day 2 Went into town to pop into the 'non essential' shops that will be closing on Thursday.

Day 3 Childminding for Leo and Rosie, haven't mentioned to Leo that he won't be able to come to Nanny and Grandad's house for a while as I don't think he will take it too well.

Day 4 Looked after Max and felt quite emotional when he went home as we know it will be four weeks at least before we can see him again.

Day 5 Guy Fawkes night, no organised firework displays this year so a few people nearby are having a few fireworks in the garden - we have an unhappy dog.

Day 6 There was the most beautiful cloud formation in the sky this morning as I took Coco for her walk, had our 3rd Covid test in the afternoon, takeaway pizza from our favourite local Italian restaurant (good to support local businesses that can open for takeaways during lockdown)

Photo taken on my phone with no filter - it really was this beautiful!

Day 7 Saturday - which is much like every other day when you are in lockdown!  Baked a coffee and walnut cake - must remember not to do too much baking this time around.

Day 8 Lazy Sunday, dog walking, lunch, jigsaw puzzling, catching up on programmes we had recorded and the Strictly results show in the evening

Day 9 A day for doing jobs I have been putting off for ages - cleared the rather large ironing pile and defrosted the chest freezer in the utility room.

Day 10 In an effort to have a little normality on a day when I would normally be looking after Leo and Rosie, I picked Leo up from school and took him to the childminder, we had a nice slow walk to make the most of being able to have a socially distanced walk in the fresh air.

Day 11 Jon and Max popped over for a socially distanced walk and a visit to the local playground, was a lovely way to spend the morning and almost made up for not being able to have Max in the house all day as normal, also the guy building our decking returned to add the final lattice panelling

Day 12 Zumba on Zoom, and today there was homework!

Day 13 Bit bored today so did a bit of baking - remembered to freeze half the rock cakes so that we didn't 'accidentally' eat all twelve.

Day 14 Went to a new farm shop which has opened fairly near to us - they sell my favourite locally produced ice cream - so happy!

Day 15 Quiet Sunday just the two of us, had a little visit from Leo who was out on a bike ride with his dad, that cheered us up!

Day 16 Car went in for service, batch cooked some ragu, finished a jigsaw, had another Covid test

Day 17 Finally got my car back - they were short staffed apparently which is why a standard, minimal, first oil service and software update took 2 days instead of one morning!

Day 18 Went to pick up Max to take him for a walk and run around the playground.

Day 19 Zumba! Went to Rachel's garden in the afternoon to dismantle the playhouse in preparation for their move next week.

Day 20 It was more than a little bit chilly this morning, I needed a hat, a coat with a hood and my gloves for the dog walk

Day 21 Rosie's birthday!  There was cake, there were candles, there were balloons and there were presents - I don't think she realised that anything was out of the ordinary with her lockdown birthday.

Day 22 Gloriously sunny morning, nice relaxing day, just Paul, me and Coco here for a roast chicken lunch - guess who was first in the queue for dinner ...

Day 23 Had to clear frost off my car - that's a first for this autumn

Day 24 Trying hard to convince myself I haven't chipped a piece off one of my back teeth (spoiler alert - it's no good being in denial - it is chipped and I have an appointment to have it looked at on the first Monday in December 😢)

Day 25 Rachel and James got the keys to their new home - now the unpacking begins

Day 26 Spent the day stripping wallpaper and painting to help R&J get their new home ready for carpets to be laid on Saturday

Day 27 Popped into town in the morning - lockdown means that the shops are all closed except for click and collect and essential items, have decided to put together a food parcel to take to the Food Bank - collecting 24 items during November to hand in for distribution in December

Day 28 Had Leo and Rosie here for the day so that the carpets could be laid and unpacking continue in their new home

Day 29 Our house is nicely emptying of all the things Rachel has been storing here ready for the move, I'd forgotten how nice and clear the garage used to be.

Day 30 Popped over to Rachel's to play with Rosie while she got on with even more unpacking - I see they have their priorities right, boxes of essentials still waiting but the Christmas tree is up!

All we need now is the monthly video ...

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Sunday 29 November 2020

What would Leo do?

 We are two days away from our second lockdown here in England, and once that ends our area (along with most of England) will be in Tier 2 which is full of restrictions.  The rules about who we can and cannot see now, and then in the days over Christmas are still strict and it would be easy to become a bit despondent as Lockdown fatigue sets in.  

It's not like that for all of us though.

Leo and Rosie have been spending time here while their mum and dad move everything into the new house, and yesterday we combined a dog walk with a walk round there to see how things were progressing.  Leo was full of beans and excited to see his new bedroom.  Once he'd inspected all he wanted to see, we came back home to have some tea.  He's just learnt how to skip, so he was running ahead, then skipping along.  It was dusk and a lot of houses along the way had already put up their Christmas decorations and there were lots of twinkling lights wherever we looked.  He was SO excited, and as he skipped along holding onto Rosie's buggy, he turned to me and said 'Nanny, this is going to be the best Christmas ever!'

So when I'm feeling down, and fed up with not being able to do things we would like to do, or have family here for lunch like we would normally do, or just see a friend for a coffee I'm going to try and channel my inner Leo and see the things that are allowed, the things we can do, and the things that make us smile and remember that Christmas is just around the corner and every day that passes is a day closer to normality returning.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

25th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Family

This is the last day of this project and while I feel like I should be going out with a bang, with champagne corks popping and firework displays happening in the background, today is a somewhat chaotic day for our family so please bear with me!  

In my opinion, being part of our family means supporting and helping and enjoying spending time together and so for today's prompt I will share a photo which sums this up

Yup, that's right, a picture of me and Max being silly in town.  Were you expecting a picture perfect snap of everyone?  That really wasn't going to happen today!  Our day started early with a call from Rachel at 6am to say could she bring the children round to get ready for school and have breakfast here as they were already driving her to distraction.  So that's what happened, then Leo went to school, I dropped Rosie off at her childminder, Rachel went home to await the removal company and Paul took Coco out for a walk.  

Onto family part two.  Due to lockdown restrictions we can't have the children of two different families in our home for childcare so we can't have Max here as normal.  But his mum and dad both had important conference calls this morning and really needed an hour or so 'Max free' time.  So we jumped in the car, headed off to their house where we picked up Max for a wander round Saffron Walden, checking out the ducks at the duck pond, eating hot sausage rolls from the bakery (Paul and me) and gingerbread men (Max).

So I'm currently feeling that we have helped both our 'children' as much as we can today and given them both our time when they needed an extra pair of hands and that's what family's all about isn't it?  

PS Daily update - we are home on our own now, enjoying the quiet and relaxation before chaos breaks out again. I'm guessing Rachel and James will soon have the keys to their new home and will be busy unpacking all that stuff they have boxed up over the last few weeks.  It's a stressful time isn't it?   Worth it in the end though! 

Thanks for joining me on the 25 Days of Gratitude project, normal blog service will resume very soon!

Tuesday 24 November 2020

24th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is - Quiet

When the house is calm and there's only the three of us here, this is Coco's quiet, happy place.  Fast asleep in the middle of our bed.  She does look totally relaxed though doesn't she?  

PS Daily Update - It has been a kind of quiet day here today.  Sewing, cooking and a nice long walk with a friend this afternoon.  Just time to write this quick post and then head to school to collect Leo.  I bet things are not so quiet and calm at his own home today - the penultimate day before moving!  From memory that was the worst day, trying to pack the final bits and still having to try and do all the normal day to day bits like eating lunch and a last nights sleep ...

Monday 23 November 2020

23rd Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Books

I am so close to the finishing post with this gratitude project and yet nearly came a cropper today - I thought I had a post drafted and schedule to go live this morning and guess what?  I didn't!  I can't fail this close to the end!

So let me introduce you to a selection of my cookery books, I do love a new cookery book and have to restrain myself when I realise that I already have probably far too many.  Having said that, I do use them a lot and if you were to see the other side to the book you would see many post it notes and sticky tabs on the edges of the pages, marking tried and tested recipes that I return to time and time again.  You will note there seems to be favourites in there, you can never go wrong with a Mary Berry recipe, nor a Jamie Oliver!  The Gino Di Campo books are actually Paul's, and have been the ones which have inspired him to learn to cook since retiring.  He loves all things Italian and Gino's recipes are easy to follow and delicious to eat - they have been a very worthwhile purchase!

PS Daily Update - Have spent most of today helping with keeping Rosie occupied while Rachel continues to pack.  Fortunately her husband seems to be feeling a bit better and was working in London today so fingers continue to be crossed on that front.  Paul has helped by taking a bootful of 'stuff' to the local tip and as we went home this afternoon, I felt that with one day to go, they are now organised and the amount of packing is definitely doable.  If you had asked me how I felt when I was there on Saturday afternoon, it would have been a very different answer!  

Time to go downstairs and find out what Boris has said about the next stage once we leave lockdown.  Rachel had always said that if they were in their new home by Christmas she wanted to host the day and it seems like we will be allowed to do that so woo hoo!  What a treat to be a Christmas guest and not a Christmas chef!

Sunday 22 November 2020

22nd Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Good Health

Now I'm not a fitness fanatic, I haven't been inside a gym for about 15 years, but one thing I do enjoy to keep myself healthy is my Zumba class.  It's such good fun!  My teacher has managed to move her classes onto Zoom so we could keep going through lockdown, we returned briefly for a few weeks to restricted numbers in a Covid safe hall, and are now currently back to Zoom.  

I really enjoy Zumba, it's a great mix of musics and dance styles.  My teacher is Venezuelan and likes to incorporate a lot of latin dances into our routines.  One dance style I never really thought I would enjoy was Bollywood.  I was wrong - I love it!  When she tells us to put on our belly dancing skirts I immediately smile.  There's something about hearing those coin skirts jingle as you shake your hips!

View from above!

One piece of advice when doing your Zumba class via Zoom in your lounge?  Always remember to close the curtains just in case the window cleaner turns up half way through the session! (It has happened 😳 )

PS Daily Update - Quite apart from the fact that Rosie couldn't have all the normal family and friends visitors on her 2nd birthday, even her daddy was missing during the afternoon.  He spent 5 hours in A&E with an inflamed appendix!  Fortunately it seems to be 'just' inflammation at the moment, but speaking as someone who has had appendicitis and also who saw how much pain Rachel was in just before she had hers removed, we are all crossing fingers that it calms down and doesn't progress. This is not what they need in the week leading up to moving house!

Saturday 21 November 2020

21st Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Warm Beverage

For years I only drank coffee, except when I was pregnant and for some reason I had months where I couldn't enjoy a cup of coffee.  That was a long time ago now and I am happy to say that tea once again tastes like tea ought to taste!  But only when it's drunk out of a china cup or mug.

I'm not one to start decorating the house for Christmas before December is here but I'm happy to use a Christmas mug (you'd need to zoom in to see the holly sprigs and robins!) Naturally, any mid afternoon cuppa needs to have a biscuit (or two) to go with it, however I am not a 'dunker'; I don't like soggy biscuits and I especially don't like the way crumbs fall down to the bottom of the mug ruining that last bit of tea!

PS Daily Update - Today Rosie is two!  In some ways it feels like that time has flown by and in others it seems like such a long time ago that we had Leo come to stay with us while his mum was in hospital.  We will be popping over later to wish her a happy birthday and maybe take her and Leo over the park to feed the ducks.  Unfortunately because we are in lockdown, no other friends or relatives can come into their house to spend time with her but maybe there'll be a belated party at some time in the future. (We have formed a childcare bubble with them so can spend limited time with them - I hope we can be there long enough to have a slice of cake!)

Friday 20 November 2020

20th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Play

Hmm ... play.  What do I play with?  Who do I play with?  Well in normal times the answer would be duplo, farms, teddy bear picnics, race tracks and all the kind of things that little children want Nanny to join in with.  But, you know, lockdown - there's been little playing going on here!  But I have been jigsaw puzzling, does that count as playing?  

I have a friend who runs a jigsaw swap circle and so there is never a lack of puzzles to be had.  There's something quite compulsive about having a jigsaw on the table, I can't walk past it without seeing if I can add just one more piece.

PS Daily update - My friend who lives in Florida has had a positive test for Covid 😢 apparently she lost her sense of taste and smell at the weekend then developed a headache so had a test to be on the safe side.  This is only the second person that I actually know who has contracted it. Let's hope she is one of those who only has mild symptoms.  We've finished our second week of lockdown 2 here, so half way through and the rumours about relaxing rules in time for Christmas, and also the possibility of a vaccine in the new year are all encouraging.

In other news - we woke up to a frost this morning!  That's the first this year - Winter is coming!

Thursday 19 November 2020

19th Day of Gratitude

Today's prompt is Work 

I had to think carefully for this prompt because I took early retirement over two years ago now, so don't officially 'work' any more.  Instead I turned my attention to what I consider to be work around the home.  

Not just any old work, the worst work.  The work I put off for as long as humanly possible.  Ironing.

Oh how I detest ironing, and the minute you clear the pile, you do another batch of washing and guess what?  You have more ironing to do!  When I look back to the days when Paul was working and the kids were at school, I had 15 shirts to iron before you add all the casual clothes to the mix.  

But, having ironing to do means I have clothes to wear, a washing machine to do the hard work of washing for me, a washing line outside for drying in the good weather and a tumble drier for when it's raining that means I don't have to have wet washing draped over driers around the house.  So there is gratitude to be had for sure.

But the greatest thanks I have is when the pile of clothes above, turns into the neat, freshly ironed pile below.

Yes I do seem to have rather too many striped tops!

PS Daily update - Today is my Zumba from home morning, plus I also offered to make the sponge cake for Rosie's birthday - I will hand it over to Rachel for icing tomorrow. I'm more than happy to do the baking, but don't have the patience for the decorating - I'll leave that to R's expertise!

Yesterday, while taking Max out for a bit of a walk we happened to walk past (who am I kidding?  I have been planning to go to this shop since the first lockdown!) a chocolate shop called Hill St.  At the beginning of the year they were visited by Jamie Oliver as part of his Friday Night Feast programme (more info here) and I have been anxious to visit ever since! The chocolate is hand made, and oh so delicious.  It is expensive but the quality is so good that you don't need to eat lots to satisfy that chocolate craving.  And one of their dark chocolate moulded shapes is just the perfect reward for a morning slaving over a hot iron 😉

Wednesday 18 November 2020

18th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Hobby

So as I have already shown my collection of knitted socks, today I will share one of my other hobbies - sewing

I've enjoyed sewing for years, probably since I was in my teens and learnt sewing at school.  I can't imagine not having a sewing machine and am always on speed dial whenever someone in the family has a sewing/mending emergency.  Needless to say that once masks became mandatory in the UK, I was soon delving into my box of remnant fabrics to go into production!  The project under the needle in this photo is a mending challenge, my husband had managed to tear one of his favourite shirts, thankfully it was a simple repair.  

My favourite projects are patchwork quilts although I haven't made one for a while, maybe I will start the investigation for a pattern to make a quilt in the new year to finish off the new look lounge.  The problem I find is choosing the fabric, it's all well and good to scroll though the online shops but there's nothing quite like going into a shop and actually seeing and feeling the fabrics.  Maybe in the new year?

PS Daily update - today we will be popping to see little Max for an hour or so, to take him out for a walk so his Mum and Dad can get on with working from home.  So long as we stay outdoors we don't have to consider it a childminding bubble, just walking for exercise.  Also, don't tell Coco but R and her family are probably getting a puppy!  Now they will have a larger house, they will have room and although Coco is really R's dog, she has lived with us for so many years now, it wouldn't seem fair to give her back - she is used her routine here and I'm not sure that, as a more mature lady of nine years old, she would enjoy having children around all day every day!  I will share more news and and when we know more.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

17th Day of Gratitude

Today's prompt is Evening

 Now that the nights are turning chillier, and it's getting darker earlier every day, this is a very welcome sight in the evening

Of course we never get pole position in front of the fire because Coco always finds 'her' spot.  

With sunset happening around 4pm in the afternoon, it makes it feel like we have very long evenings and I'm ready to climb back into my pjs about 8.30pm.  Please tell me I'm not the only one!  

PS Daily update - We had the news yesterday that our daughter's house sale contracts exchanged so they will be moving next week.  Looks like we will need to form that 'childcare bubble' with them as I think they will need help with the children during the move!  They aren't moving far from where they are now - less than half a mile - so they don't need to change schools or childminders and we can still pop and see them when out on a dog walk!  They have a busy week ahead with packing now they know it is all definitely going ahead, no wonder they say that house moving is one of the most stressful things you can do.  Not to mention the logistics of doing it during a lockdown situation!

Monday 16 November 2020

16th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is for Morning.  

Which worried me a little as since we changed back from Summertime to GMT I wasn't sure I'd be awake in order to catch a sunrise!

So I thought I had this one 'in the bag' ... and then ... on November 6th I took Coco for her morning walk and saw this beautiful cloud formation

Now, it isn't easy to take a decent photo with a dog on her lead trying to pull me over to chase the ducks, but I was very pleased with how this came out!

PS Daily update - I've just dropped my car at the garage for its first service and then been with Paul to Tesco to get our 'click and collect' delivery, I'm planning to batch cook some ragu to freeze this morning, then we have our weekly Covid test at lunchtime, then it will be time to go and collect my car, take Coco for her afternoon walk, cook and eat dinner and that will be another day ticked off.  When we went back into lockdown, I'd forgotten that even in those circumstances you can still have a busy day!  

Sunday 15 November 2020

15th Day of Gratitude


Today's prompt is Surprise and what better surprise than birthday presents when you are little?

This is actually a bittersweet prompt today because these are presents for Rosie who will be two at the end of next week.  But because of the new lockdown restrictions, she will be the first member of our family who won't be able to celebrate with friends and family popping in to see her 😓 

To be honest, I think that's a more upsetting thought for us adults than it is for her because there will be presents, there will be cake and there will be balloons and when you are two, that's all the important bases covered!  We can pop round to their house and see her from the door step so we will have to be content with that and then have a family tea together when lockdown is over.

PS Daily Update - We had a small venture out to a new grocery farm shop yesterday as I had heard a rumour that they would be selling my favourite ice cream!  It's made by a small independent company in Saffron Walden and you can't buy it in many shops outside of SW.  Their products are delicious!  A spoonful of their sherbet lemon sorbet on top of your ice in a gin and tonic raises it to another level 😋 and their salted butter caramel is a delight.  The shop is in a beautifully converted barn and specialises in more independent brands rather than the food you can buy in any supermarket.  They also stocked meats from a local farm and there was no way I was returning home without a pack of Priors Hall Farm Sausages in my bag.  That was lunch sorted! If you too are a sausage sandwich lover, which are you - a red sauce girl or a brown sauce girl?  Or maybe no sauce at all?

Saturday 14 November 2020

14th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Cosiness 

No one does cosy quite as well as Coco

If that dog can find a blanket she will claim it as her own, make it into a 'nest' and curl up in it.

PS Daily Update - I think we will all be needing to find a blanket to curl up in this weekend, the weather forecast is not looking good, with plenty of rain predicted for this area.  Not that we were going anywhere anyway, but you can just tell it's going to be a long, damp day.  I think I need to get a new crafting project underway as in the interests of our waistlines I need to stop baking!  

Friday 13 November 2020

13th day of gratitude

 Today's prompt is Routine or Habit

This kind of runs on from the photo I posted of teenage Deb yesterday because this prompt took me back to English Literature classes.  It made me think of a line in The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T S Eliot where he says he has 'measured out his life in coffee spoons' and this resonates with me because my daily routine definitely involves coffee (and tea)!

Do you have a set routine of hot drinks?  Mine is for a cup of tea in bed before breakfast, cup of coffee about 10.30, cup of coffee after lunch, cup of tea about 4pm and a cup of decaf coffee about 8pm.  

PS Daily update - yesterday we were back on Zoom for Zumba, and we have homework this week!  She wants us to learn some new steps so that once we get back in the hall we can do a kind of 'line dance' routine.  

I can already imagine the chaos that will ensue!  But we are always up for a challenge and it seems quite repetitive so hopefully it won't be too much of a disaster.  

Thursday 12 November 2020

12th day of gratitude

Today's prompt is Best Friend 

Where would we be without good friends?  Oh how very grateful I am for the wonderful people I have in my life that are my friends. People come in and out of your life at various times and I am finding it hard to choose just one person for today's prompt of 'Best Friend'.  I'm also aware that some people may not wish their photo to be shown on my blog so today I am going to share a photo of a photo taken back in 1974.  

I'm hoping that this still fits the criteria of the photos having to be taken in either October or November as I did actually take the photo of the photo today!  

Who could that girl with the bright auburn hair on the right be?  Yes, I really was a proper redhead.  Hated it then, grew to love it, and now it's a faded memory!  But the young lady in the top left is my friend Jill who has been my friend since 1972.  We've shared a lot of things over the years, good times and bad, and we both know that we will always be there for each other.  

Friends are such an important part of our lives aren't they?  They say that friends are the family you choose for yourself and that's very true.  I'm also very grateful that my children both have a lovely supportive group of friends that they made at school who are still there for them - a good friend is a wonderful blessing.

PS Daily update - We are back to doing Zumba today on Zoom and whilst it is good to continue the lessons this way, it was so lovely to be back in the hall for that brief period of time.  Oh well, we have got one week of Lockdown 2 under our belt, 25% done, only 3/4 left to go ... 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

11th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Pet

Now, I wonder what I can take a picture of for this prompt?

She'd never forgive me if I didn't use her for today's photo! 

Did you know that Coco isn't really our dog?  She actually belongs to our daughter but when she moved out and got married Coco somehow got left behind with us!  Not that we would have it any other way - she is a much loved member of our family.  She has adapted well to the arrival of grandchildren and is especially happy when it is dinner time, always keen to 'tidy up' anything that may get dropped off the side of the high chair! All three of them have found that 'Coco' is one of their first words.  She is also the only one in the family to fully enjoy lockdown.  No one goes out and leaves her on her own and she gets extra, longer walks!

PS Daily update - Today would normally be my day for looking after Max, but obviously that can't happen.  In a happy twist of fate, our son ordered something from a website he hadn't used for quite a while and didn't realise that it had defaulted to delivering to our address.  So he has a valid reason for coming over today to pick it up.  Now, he can't come in the house, but we are allowed to meet one person and a child under five for a socially distanced walk so I will get to see Max today after all 😀
Once today is over we can tick off our first week of Lockdown 2.  Quarter of the way through!

Tuesday 10 November 2020

10th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is Keepsake or Momento

This little fellow is a china ornament of the Cockerel of Barcelos.  It is a famous symbol in Portugal and that is where he was bought many years ago.  1985 to be exact.  Paul and I were on holiday in the Algarve and bought him as a souvenir.  We were staying at a resort called Praia da Luz and we fell in love with that area of Southern Portugal.  Fast forward to the early 2000s and my sister and her husband were looking for somewhere to buy a holiday home overseas.  After visiting many places in Spain and Portugal, they also fell in love with Praia da Luz and ended up buying a property there.  But this little guy brings back so many happy memories of visits out there.

There's a bit of a story behind him, which you can read here, and I guarantee that wherever you go in the Algarve, you will always see the cockerel!

PS Daily update - we have seamlessly drifted back into lockdown, doing all the lockdown activities ... jigsaw puzzle on the go, freezer defrosted (a job which I had been putting off!) and extra baking going on in the kitchen. Sincerely hoping that Boris was telling the truth when he said this was for 4 weeks only - we can do this!  Headlines are full of the news of a potential vaccine today so fingers crossed we may not have to lockdown again.  Wouldn't that be great news?! 

Monday 9 November 2020

9th Day of Gratitude

Todays prompt is Favourite Smell 

I have struggled with this one and nearly had to post just a blank page.  Today's prompt is Favourite Smell.  Which leads me to share something about me which you may not know.  I have no sense of smell!  It wasn't always that way, I lost it at the end of the 90s when I developed nasal polyps.  Had them removed and my sense of smell returned for a few years but when the polyps returned, the sense of smell disappeared again.  But I do remember what things smelled like so here is something that used to give me sensory pleasure, I found this little rosebud blooming when we were cutting back the raspberry canes in the garden, I'd forgotten it was there! 

So for all those of you with a sense of smell, take time to appreciate it and never take it for granted!  

PS Daily update - We are now in day 5 of Lockdown 2 and I'm realising that I really do need to start thinking about Christmas shopping online!  Normally Paul and I would spend a day in Cambridge where we would go armed with a list and try to tick off as much as we could.  I like to actually go into a shop to browse and look for inspiration but that is not to be this year.  I also think that we need to give our custom to shops which may not survive this period so that will be even more challenging than just clicking on Amazon!  It may be time to start compiling a list ...

Sunday 8 November 2020

8th Day of Gratitude

Today's prompt is Weather

It may seem a bit strange but today I am grateful for this

Rain.  Much as I moan about it, we all know it is every British person's pleasure to complain about our weather! We can have all four seasons in the space of one day - but I am most grateful for the fact that we do have seasons.  When I think about countries which have extreme heat or cold for the most part of the year I think we are so lucky here to have respite from the highs and lows with the best bits of spring and autumn in between.  Of course it would be nice if we didn't have quite so much rain when it's time to go dog walking!

PS Daily update - having had a very productive day of cleaning, tidying and gardening yesterday I think a very relaxed, book reading, jigsaw puzzling, crossword solving day has be earned!  I've learned more about American politics in the last week than I ever knew before and am still fascinated by how this is all playing out over there.  It's been a diversion from our own situation and lockdown!  

Saturday 7 November 2020

7th day of gratitude

Today's prompt is Warm Clothes.

One thing I am really grateful for this time of year is warm clothes.  I really don't like being cold and as I am prone to getting cramp in my toes, I especially don't like having cold feet, so please let me introduce you to my hand knitted sock collection!

Several years ago I was inspired to learn how to knit socks by a lovely blogger by the name of Sian.  She is such a creative person and we 'met' in blogland when we both signed up for a scrapbooking course run by Shimelle.  Much to my regret, Sian no longer blogs, I think she may be a bit too busy helping run a wool shop in her home town in Ireland.  I can't think of a more perfect person to run a wool shop as she was so talented with her knitting.  She gave me the confidence to buy my first circular needle set and with a bit of encouragement and a few youtube videos when it came to  dealing with the heel, I was soon wearing my first pair of home made socks.  Once you've worn a pair of 'proper' socks, nothing else comes close to the warmth and I was hooked.  The first pair I made is the pink and purple pair on the right and let's just say I learnt a lot from that pair, and they aren't the most perfect shape or fit however, onwards and upwards by the time I started on the brighter blue and mustard ones, I knew where I'd gone wrong and how to make them fit my foot properly.

Before anyone thinks I am incredibly clever in knitting such intricate patterns in the stripes, I will confess that it's all down to randomised colours in the wool which creates a natural fair isle pattern as you knit, I had nothing to do with it, it just happened!

Looking at this basket of warmth, I'm tempted to buy another ball of wool and make another pair!  It will be a perfect winter lockdown project!

PS Daily update - decided to support our local Italian restaurant by ordering a takeaway pizza last night.  I'm keen to support independent companies at this difficult time as I want them still in business when we are allowed out again.  The big chains will have more chance of surviving, but this is a small family run Sicilian restaurant which relies on customers continuing to use them.  We rarely order takeaways unless we are meeting up with friends for an Indian meal so this was a real treat for us!

Re our covid tests, Leslie mentioned that we should be paid for having them so frequently so I would just like to say that we are!  As an incentive we receive £25 each in vouchers which can be used in a huge variety of shops for every test we take so if you get a letter of invitation - be sure to accept!  

Friday 6 November 2020

6th Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is  Something in Autumnal Colours.  

I walked over the park thinking that I would easily find something to share for today's prompt and I did take a few photos but beautiful though the trees were, I wanted to share something a little different.  So I have chosen this

It's a picture that Paul drew recently.  He used to go to an art class which has had to adapt due to Covid restrictions, and it is now a WhatsApp group where the teacher gives the students their prompt for the week and then they have a week to upload a picture for her to critique.  He has drawn this using watercolour pencils and it is a really good representation of the trees turning colour beside the pond in front of the local church.

Let's just say that if I were sharing a picture of something I had drawn, it would not have been worthy of being showcased in a frame 🤣

PS Daily update - Day two of Lockdown 2.  Today we will be having our 3rd Covid test as part of the national statistics programme.  The person who called to book the appointment asked me if we were likely to be in this afternoon, which made me wonder if it was a trick question as clearly the whole idea of lockdown is that people are not going out!  

Thursday 5 November 2020

5th day of gratitude

 The 5th day of gratitude is relating to Nature 

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me with the beauty that we can find all around us.  Just look at this beautiful passionflower 

This plant is growing wild over our local country park and the small piece 'accidentally' came home with us after a walk 😉 The flower has a religious story behind it and in case you haven't heard the description, I'll pass it on now.

The 10 petals represent Jesus' faithful Apostles

The 5 'anthers' symbolise the five wounds that Jesus suffered

The circle of purple filaments represent the Crown of Thorns

The 3 stigma (hard to see in my photo) represent the three nails holding Jesus to the cross.

PS Daily news. Today is our first day of being in total lockdown - again.  It's such a shame and even more so because our area isn't one which has steadily increasing cases.  I had a bit of a toddler style 'it's not fair' feeling at first but then read a great quote on a friend's Facebook page which made me think again

We isolate now

So when we gather again

No-one is missing.

Keep safe everyone x