Tuesday 30 June 2020

Summertime Scavenger Hunt Link up

I can't believe that it is time for the first 'show and tell' for the summertime scavenger hunt organised by Marie-Lou over at Patio Postcards.  Normally I would probably had a summer holiday overseas by now and ticked off about half of the subjects but lockdown has only just started to relax so I've not been too far afield!

I only have a few to share and I haven't really chosen my final ones for each category so bear with me!

No 2 - Something with or in a knot

When I did my first Zoom Pilates class, I realised I needed a strength band and had to hunt through the cupboards to find one I'd been given by a physio when I had a frozen shoulder.  In the end I found two but they'd been in the cupboard so long they had dried out and kind of stuck together in a knot shape.  Fortunately only one had perished!

I haven't worn earrings much since we've been confined to home but when we went to friends on Thursday evening I sorted through my jewellery box and realised that these earrings are perfect for a traditional knot shape.  Now, which photo should I use?

No 7 - Something that displays a rule.  Well, where to start? No shortage of posters showing rules at the moment!

And then there is this one which is not Covid-19 related!

No 8 - A leaf longer than your hand

Can't decided between the two!

No 15 Something inherited

Also a bit of a puzzle so if anyone can tell me what this is, I'd be really grateful. 

It's about the size of my thumb, and this is one side of it.  On the other side it looks like this

And when you push down on his hat, the tongue sticks out!

We have no idea what it is, it was found in a box in my mum's bedside table and if anyone can shed some light on it, I'd be really grateful!

Hopefully next month I will have more photos to share as lockdown reduces and we can go further afield!

Sunday 28 June 2020

'Ta Dah' in June

What have I achieved this month?  Well ...

There were times when I thought I was never going to finish this jigsaw but ...

Ta Dah!

The latest jigsaw is complete!

Those areas where the trees are were SO tricky - but perseverance paid off oh boy there was quite the feeling of relief when I put that last piece in.


Book reading has been good too starting off with Beach Read by Emily Henry which was our book club's choice for this month; it was a nice, easy, light read and just right for something to relax with.  Then The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez which I saw on Ruth's blog. Followed by the sequel The Happy Ever After Playlist.


Baking has been reduced and thanks to me keeping hold of my Slimming World books, so has my weight! Almost 4lbs has gone in three weeks which is proof indeed that I cannot resist a slice of cake if I know there is one in the tin!


I've started and finished a whole season of Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. You can see the trailer here.  It definitely wasn't something that Paul would have enjoyed watching but if you want something easy to watch while you're having a cup of tea in the afternoon or doing the ironing, it's a nice easy viewing.  

One drama that we both really enjoyed watching was Unorthodox.  There are only four episodes and it is based on an adaptation of the memoir of  Deborah Feldman about her escape from an arranged marriage.  

So I've read a lot, watched a lot, and puzzled a lot which probably explains the eye problems I had in the last week of the month!


Something we've waited a while for is socialising again - albeit from a distance and only in the open air but after being in lockdown for so long, it feels so nice to be seeing people in the flesh again!  Whoever thought that getting together in a garden for a cup of tea would end up being a 'ta dah' moment?


I'm still keeping up with my Spanish lessons on the Duolingo app - almost 100 days now!


I've saved the best until last - I've had a hair cut!  Salons don't officially reopen until next Saturday but R offered to come and cut my hair in the garden on Saturday.  We both wore masks and she concentrated mostly on the back so we weren't face to face for long and even then she kept at arms length away.  Not the normal relaxing, pampering salon experience but it feels so good and now I just have to decide what to do about the colour when I do make an appointment in the salon.

I didn't feel as if I've achieved very much this month but when you start to write it down, given the circumstances we are in, it hasn't been so bad.  What 'ta dah!' moments have you had this month?

Friday 26 June 2020

Not a sight for sore eyes

Well this week had an unexpected twist to it - in the interests of protecting those who may be squeamish I will not share a photo of how my left eye looked when I woke on Monday morning!  Oh boy, it was sore and it was bloodshot - VERY bloodshot.  Trying to convince myself it was probably conjunctivitis starting (clutching at straws here) I bathed it during the day and hoped it would look better on Tuesday.  Well, it didn't, it looked worse.  I queued for the chemist and asked the pharmacist to look at it.  He said he didn't think it was an infection and I should make an urgent appointment at the opticians.  I wasn't sure I liked the sound of the word 'urgent'.  Came home and rang my opticians who has not yet reopened since lockdown.  So I tried another opticians in town who has a good reputation and they said they could see me on Thursday.  

This was my first experience of visiting any medical establishment since lockdown started and I went armed with face mask, waited outside to be called in, sanitised my hands before I went into the examining room, the optician was in PPE and although I wasn't that keen on getting so close to a stranger, I felt reassured that we were both being as safe as we could.  I was even more reassured when he told me it was a burst blood vessel and there was no damage around the back of the eye, nor inside the eye.  I just have to wait for it to heal.

Phew!  I don't look pretty, but this morning I can see some improvement.

We've had a few social meetings this week, a sit down in the park with a friend and her daughter and grandchildren in Saffron Walden on Tuesday (naturally I had to swing by my son's house and pick up Max to show him off too!), Duck feeding with Leo, Rosie and Max on Wednesday, and last night we went to a friend's garden for drinks and a paella - oh how lovely to get back to doing normal things!

We always say it isn't officially summer until we've had the annual paella night so we can now tick that one off.

Later this afternoon I'm due to have a cup of tea with a couple of friends but the weather report is showing thunderstorms from 2pm onwards so although it is stifling hot at the moment, I'm wondering if we will actually get to do it - won't it be lovely when we are allowed in people's houses again and we aren't dependant on the unpredictable British weather?

Hoping everyone is keeping well and enjoying the sunshine!

Sunday 21 June 2020

It's all in the mindset

Isn't it strange how nothing has changed since my last post, and yet this weekend things do't seem so bad (or unfair!)  It seems like a lot of people find that some days, for no obvious reason, are easier than others.

It's Father's Day today, the first one for my son so he is busy being spoilt at home (apparently his little boy was so excited about it being Father's Day that he woke up at 2.30 am ready to start the day!) and our daughter will be popping round a little later to spend some time with Paul (weather permitting!).  This will be the 32nd Father's Day that I have missed with my dad - I really was a 'daddy's girl' and I think you can see that from this photo taken on my wedding day.

I was one lucky girl to have him as my dad!  While I am sad that he is no longer here, I am so grateful for the 29 years I had him in my life.  

One thing that has brightened my mood this week has been the discovery of Michael Spicer.  Have you heard of him?  He's from The Room Next Door .  Imagine a politician giving a speech, wired up to an adviser in the 'room next door' telling him what to say.  And then the politician totally ignoring him and doing their own thing ... It really does make me laugh, and let's be honest, there are a lot of politicians out there giving him perfect material at the moment, both home and across the Atlantic!  

My Zumba teacher said that on the week beginning 29 June there is likely to be an announcement about restrictions on exercise classes being lifted and there is a tiny possibility that our class may be able to resume in a hall, subject to numbers.  The hall we use is large and airy, we would be able to open doors and windows on all sides to keep good ventilation and it may be that so long as it was run at half the full capacity we may be able to return sooner than we thought.  It would be so good, as although it is fun to do in your own home, it isn't quite the same as being in a group so I have my fingers firmly crossed.

Leo and Max returned to nursery this week.  Max is in a group of three and settled straight back in, even though he'd only been about six times before lockdown started.  Leo was chomping at the bit to get back to nursery, there's only 7 in his 'bubble' (usually it is a class of 30) and he's only there for two mornings but he's so happy to be back and wasn't too fazed by having his temperature checked by a teacher in full face visor before he was allowed in the gate.  

Today as a Father's Day treat, we are planning to have a take away Sunday lunch from The Giggling Squid, a fab Thai restaurant in town.  They do a lunchtime Thai tapas menu where you get four mini portions of different dishes and I can hardly wait ... Is 10.30am too early to start looking at the menu?  😉

Monday 15 June 2020


When I worked at the school, one of my jobs was to let the girls know when they had been given a detention for uniform infringements or wearing too much make up or jewellery - they had to have five reported incidents to justify being given detention and often they would come to reception to let me know that 'it isn't fair ...' It would have been tempting to say to them that life sometimes isn't fair, rules are rules, and we just have to accept it.  

But this week I think I need to give myself that same advice.  

Because it isn't fair that 

single grandparents can hug their grandchildren from this weekend, but we can't
they can meet up with their family indoors so aren't reliant on good weather, but we can't
teachers can spend time with our grandchildren indoors, but we can't
we should be going on holiday to Portugal on Tuesday, but we can't

Yes, it's felt hard this weekend - we are trying so hard to stick to the rules, doing what we are supposed to be doing, keeping our distance, staying home.  It just feels like it's been going on so long.  And when the rules are relaxed it seems to be for other people not us!  It's not fair!  We are still following our rules and then the news shows people crowded on a beach or reports of trouble breaking out at parties.  Parties?  Where are they in the rules?

But ... 

I did go into a supermarket this week, and chose my own food off the shelves rather than ordering online and doing click and collect.  There was hardly any queue and I hadn't really gone for food (I was only picking up a parcel from John Lewis originally!) yet once in, somehow I ended up with a bill for £80 - oops!  It was just so nice to browse.

We also had friends over for drinks in the evening on Saturday.  I spent a long time arranging and rearranging garden furniture before they arrived to make sure we all kept a safe 6 feet apart distance.  I cleaned the downstairs loo thoroughly, put in new towels and opened a designated guest hand-soap dispenser, just in case they needed to go (they didn't, but at least I've got a sparkly scrupulously clean toilet now!) It was a gloriously hot sunny evening and it was just so lovely to see them face to face rather than on a zoom chat.

Leo came over for the morning on Sunday, he was bored at home and I suggested that I walk to theirs and he could walk back home with me so long as he kept to the rules and we didn't hold hands.  He was so happy sitting in the garden with us, looking at books he'd forgotten we had, checking under all the pots for creepy crawlies and practising hitting a foam ball with a tennis racquet.  All too soon his Dad came to collect him but it was a lovely morning.

This afternoon we have some friends coming round for a cup of tea in the garden, there's a freshly baked lemon drizzle cake waiting, so we are seeing people and doing things but it's very hard to see other nannies walking down the road holding hands with their grandchildren and if Leo mentions it to me, I will have to agree that it really doesn't seem fair!

The garden is still flourishing, and I have two contenders for item 8 - a leaf longer than your hand

I debated about publishing this post, as it started off a bit negative and sounded like I was whinging,  but decided that I needed to truthfully record how I have felt as lockdown has progressed, and this weekend I really did feel like a year 10 girl who has been caught hitching her skirt up too high, drawing in her eyebrows too dark, wearing lots of lippy, wearing dangly earrings and chewing gum in class - it really wasn't fair!

Wednesday 10 June 2020

10 on the 10th

Leslie over at Once Upon a Time and Happy Every After has invited us to share 10 favourite things about summer.

Now I strongly suspect that this will not be a normal summer but let's hope a few of my favourite things will still happen.

Take me back!  I don't think we'll be seeing a foreign beach this year but maybe we'll venture out to the British coast.  I love the beach - the sound of the waves on the shore, the sand between your toes, it all sums up summer for me. Our nearest beach from here is about 90 minutes away but I think we'll leave it a little longer before we head out there (I need to know the public loos will be open before I go too far afield!)

Summer food - why does everything taste so much better when you are eating it outdoors in the sunshine?  Our friend Richard makes the most delicious authentic paella and we always say that it isn't summer until we have been round to their house for the first paella of the year!  This was last year's paella, oh boy I could just eat a plate of that now.

Summer cocktails - sitting in the sunshine, iced drink in hand, total relaxation ... happy days.  One thing that lockdown has not affected thankfully!

Summer clothes!  Isn't it great to get the sleeveless dresses out and the summer sandals?  After months of layering up and trying to keep warm, it's so lovely to feel the sun on your skin.  Not sure I'll be brave enough to try and rock the polka dot bikini trend that I so easily carried off when I was 4 though!

Dusting off the patio furniture and sitting under a shade reading a book - isn't that the best place to spend an afternoon at home?

Seeing the garden come into flower - it's so lovely to see new life springing up in the flower borders.

Not having to wear socks - hello flip flops!

Pretty sunsets.  No this is not from my back garden, this is from last year in Dubrovnik but even here in England we get some colourful skies as the sun sets in the evening during the summer.

Spending time just doing nothing.  Sitting.  Thinking. Relaxing.  Somehow it all seems better when you're in the open air.

Longer dog walks.  I never take it for granted how lucky I am to live so close to the open countryside - this is about 10 minutes from my front door, green fields as far as the eye can see.

I will miss some aspects of my 'normal' summer.  The beach holiday, the long weekend city break that we used to take in early September.  But so long as the British weather cooperates, all is not lost and we can still enjoy the things we normally do.

How about you?  What 10 things do you think of when you think of summer?

Tuesday 9 June 2020

One photo - Twenty words

When I decided to try a pilates class on Zoom, I had no idea that it would be so colourful.


{the tangled resistance bands may also make an appearance for prompt 2 in the photo scavenger hunt - something in a knot!)

Sunday 7 June 2020

It's all about the rules

It seems like new rules and regulations are in the news every day at the moment, so that seemed to be a good place to start with gathering photos for Mary-Lou's Scavenger Hunt (details here)

So here a couple of contenders for prompt number seven - Something that displays a rule

The ice cream van has been doing a roaring trade around here, one day he drove down our road THREE times!  Thank goodness for contactless payment and paying by phone ensuring that the 2 metre rule can be followed at all times.

Then on Wednesday we noticed this on our walk around Saffron Walden

I've never seen this one before but it's a good one to display isn't it?  I don't like it when cars do not switch off their engine when they are queuing in traffic, it just seems like unnecessary pollution and it would appear that the local council agree with me!  My car automatically cuts out when I am stationary in traffic and I wonder if one day all cars will be the same.  

So that is the first photo prompt ticked off, and I now have my list printed out so I can keep it in my handbag - are you joining in too?  

Friday 5 June 2020


It's time to link up with Anne who organises the 'Currently' series of blog posts where we document what we are currently doing each month.  This month's categories are

Discussing - so much in the news to discuss.  As if the pandemic were not enough to worry about, the awful news of the death of George Floyd has been the topic that everyone is talking about.  It has brought the subject of racism to the forefront of everyone's minds and makes us realise just how important it is that we teach children from a very young age that every single person that they meet in their lives should be treated equally.

Craving - face to face get togethers with family and friends.  We have tentatively started to see our children and their families, in accordance with the new rules - 6' apart at all times, only in the open air and they can only come inside to use the loo! But we have yet to expand this to friends.  I need to be confident that those I mix with have been taking lockdown as seriously as I have!  Zoom gatherings are great, but definitely not the same as being in the same place together.  And hugs - it is SO hard to keep 6' away from our grandchildren when all I really want to do is give them 3 months worth of cuddles!

Buying - food.  If you look at my credit card bill you will see I have been buying very little other than food.  And I'm also interested to see just how much I am spending on food too! I am tempted by the many email links to clothing sales that are going on, but I'm not a great online shopper even in normal times, I like to go into the shops, feel the fabrics, try things on and browse the rails myself.  I have bought a dress and am currently waiting for a delivery of another one and a t shirt which I hope will be keepers {mainly because I don't fancy having to queue at the Post Office to send them back if they don't fit or I don't like them!}

Feeling - slightly overweight!  Those Corona Calories have turned into Corona Kilos.  All that baking I've been doing has not done me any favours.  I thought the extra dog walks might have compensated but apparently not ... the carb consumption has to reduce.  And it has to reduce NOW.

Wearing - well if I'd written this last week it would have been summer dresses and flip flops.  But the good old British weather has done what it does best and done a complete turnaround so at the moment I am wearing jersey harem pants and a sweater.  Let's hope it changes back again soon! Looks like it is a case of layering clothes so we're covered for every eventuality - normal British summer behaviour!

Are you going to join in?  Do pop over to Anne's to see what other people are currently doing in this very unusual moment in time.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

A sentence a day in May

Who would have thought that we would be spending yet another month in lockdown?
This will go down as the strangest May that we have seen!  One sentence every day - let's go!

Day 1 Oh May, you are not starting well - so much rain!  

Day 2 Coco went to the dog groomers - at least one person in our family is looking smart again ...

Day 3 Family Zoom chat in the afternoon #missingthemallsomuch

Day 4 I've never been so organised with my washing and ironing - what has lockdown brought me to?

Day 5 Picked up our first ever Click and Collect supermarket shop - very impressed, everything I ordered was there, only a couple of substitutions which were perfectly ok and no queue, will be doing that again!

Day 6 I was in baking overdrive this morning, a Victoria Sandwich cake, a dozen rock cakes and home made flatbreads - there go another couple of inches on my waistline!

Day 7 Was fed up with wearing casual clothes and trainers, it's been so long since I wore 'real' shoes so I actually made an effort and put on a smart skirt and top with my new espadrilles - haven't been out the box since I got them in March!

Day 8 75th anniversary of VE Day and my sister's 70th birthday - her proper celebrations are going to have to wait!

Day 9 Coco was very excited to discover the local pet shop has reopened - and naturally insisted on going there to replenish her supply of treats - from a safe distance from the counter of course!

Day 10 Had a lovely long dog walk this morning, mostly because we knew the weather report was for temperatures to drop dramatically in the afternoon and the second walk of the day would be much shorter.

Day 11 Felt a bit low today, and the news briefing from the Prime Minister this evening explaining the 'road map' to lowering restrictions to lockdown did nothing to boost my spirits.

Day 12 Another day, another cake - baked a coffee and walnut cake after my Zumba class this morning and made sure I froze half immediately so we do not feel obliged to eat it all up before it goes stale!

Day 13 Did an interactive short quiz on youtube in the evening, you download an app to your phone which connects you to a quiz on another device - nearly 2000 people were taking part and we ended up 521st, which didn't feel too bad for our first go and not knowing exactly what to expect.

Day 14 Felt a bit down today - funny how some days these restrictions hit you harder than others

Day 15 An unexpected visitor, Jon arrived to visit us with Max, we had to stay outside and walk around over the park but it really lifted my spirits.

Day 16 Ordered our first takeaway meal since lockdown and was sadly disappointed; when we used to eat in the restaurant it was always delicious but this was not up to their normal high standards

Day 17 Cooked a full traditional Roast Lamb Sunday lunch, it was so nice and made up for last night's disappointment!

Day 18 Went over to Paul's mum's house to do some gardening in preparation for being able to put it up for sale sometime soon and managed to pop into a garden centre on the way home to buy some bedding plants

Day 19 She's looking pretty chilled out sunbathing in the garden doesn't she?  Looking so innocent, who would believe she had us up at 4am to go out in the garden because she'd heard foxes fighting out the front of our house

Day 20 Our daughter has had no hot water for 2 days and needed to have an emergency plumber in to sort out her boiler so she decamped to our garden while he was there

Day 21 Cake of the week - chocolate sponge with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream

Day 22 Jon and Max popped over for a quick visit, was so lovely to see them again.

Day 23 Weather was really windy, took us by surprise after the lovely sunny calm days we have been having.

Day 24 After last week's traditional roast, this week I defrosted a joint of meat I had in the freezer and we had roast Pork #notthesameonlycookingitfortwo

Day 25 Bank Holiday Monday - discovered a new gin cocktail to enjoy in the garden - the lemon sorbet is a great way to add flavour instead of just normal ice

Day 26 Zumba!  We had a slightly different routine this week and it was fun to change things up a bit.

Day 27 Today was my 'domestic goddess' day - baked a lemon and poppyseed cake and also some cheese scones - and all before lunchtime!

Day 28 I left the house, got in my car and drove into town - woohoo - finally managed to buy some flour and also went into the butchers to buy lamb koftas and kebabs for Saturday evening dinner - felt like a little bit of normal had returned so I celebrated by giving my car a shampoo and polish on my return.

Day 29 Jon came to visit with Max and we had a lovely walk around the lake to feed the ducks - seeing family really lifts my spirits.

Day 30 Another lazy day in the garden, Paul noticed we have a lot of mint growing so naturally that immediately led to me gathering the ingredients for a mojito together - so refreshing!

Day 31 Another month bites the dust - at the beginning of lockdown I cooked and froze quite a few meals that we are gradually working our way through, today's choice was beef bourguignon 

So how did this last 31 days of lockdown look?  Here's 1 Second Everyday!

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