Monday 31 August 2020

Scavenger Hunt Link Up 3

 It's time to link up to share our next batch of finds for the Scavenger Hunt 2020 organised by Marie Lou.

My finds for this month are

10 Something smaller than a paper clip

I do love little ladybirds so this was a natural choice for me!

12 Something that holds your favourite beverage

Do I go for alcoholic favourite



Now this mug may not be the prettiest, but it is my most favourite coffee mug.  It's a handmade earthenware mug that I bought when we were on holiday down on the south coast when we were first married so it's almost 40 years old and coffee just tastes delicious in it.  There is no way I would use it for tea, because as we all know, only china will do for a proper cuppa.

20 Something with the number 7 on it

This should have been the easiest of the batch as we live at No 7 but I thought this was a good find.  When Paul had been clearing out his Mum's house he came across a few of his old toys that she had kept in a drawer by her bed.  This little car was one of them and perfect for this project I think!

Alt A

An animal statue

Many years ago an elderly aunt of mine gave my sister, my mum and me one of these squirrel garden statues each for a Christmas present.  It seemed a bit of an odd choice of gift but this little guy has come with us every time we have moved home and he'll always have a place in our garden.

A month to go and four to find - that's doable isn't it?  Are you joining in too?  How are you doing?  

Sunday 30 August 2020

Ta Dah in August

 August seemed to involve a lot of childminding - and a lot of hot weather - followed by a lot of rain, so it's not unexpected that there aren't too many things to go 'ta dah' about!


I did read three books though.  My friend who is an author is often gifted pre-release books from publishers and she gives me a couple whenever we meet up.  So I read A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson and One Minute Later by Susan Lewis.  By a strange coincidence both dealt with the issue of organ donation.  I will not give away any spoilers, but let's just say it makes you realise how important is is for us to be on the organ donation register.   Did you know that by being on the register, you could either save or enhance up to nine other people's lives?   Both books emotional reads, and both based on true stories. The other book that I read was The Viper by Christobel Kent.  The final in a series of books about an Italian detective, Sandro Cellini, based in Florence.  I've really enjoyed these books and sad that this was the final one.


I made three more face masks, two shaped ones and another pleated one

The verdict is out as to which is the most comfortable style but at least I have a variety to choose from now!


We 'Ate Out to Help Out' with my sister and brother in law whose local pub was taking part in the government scheme to take 50% off food on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  It was nice to think that Boris was buying half my lunch!  


Now this next one may seem insignificant but I cannot tell you how good it feels to have the job done and dusted - I have cleared our shredding pile.  Which has been no mean feat I can tell you.  Eight years of bank statements, mortgage statements, credit card bills, insurance renewals ... I hadn't realised it had reached an eight year milestone.  But I have quite literally just shredded the last piece of paper and boy does that feel good!

And guess what?  I am still doing my daily Duolingo lesson in Spanish! QuĆ© sorpresa
eh? {what a surprise (I think!)} however ... they've started introducing verb endings now and things aren't quite as straightforward as they used to be!  How much longer will this be on my 'ta dah' list?  

Monday 24 August 2020

Expect the unexpected

 I thought we had our weekend mapped out.  A leisurely Saturday followed by Sunday lunch with our daughter for a pre-birthday celebration.  We'd also invited our son and his family but they already had plans to visit friends who they hadn't seen since lockdown.

Saturday morning Jon rang to say that Sophie was going to her sister's baby shower in the afternoon, so could he and Max pop over for a visit.  Absolutely!  Then he called to say it might be nice for him and Paul to go on a bike ride in the afternoon and maybe have a beer in a local pub garden on the way back.  No problem.  Could he come round in the morning and have lunch with us?  Of course, then they could make an early start while Max had his post lunch nap.  So I quickly baked Rachel's birthday cake, and Paul went over to Rachel's to collect his spare bike which he had lent her husband a couple of years ago before he bought one of his own.  

Jon arrived with Max at the same time as Paul arrived back with the bike, pushing it as it had two flat tyres.  Which meant that we soon had this scene going on in the back garden.

Two new inner tubes and a bit of a clean up later, they were ready to hit the road while Max had a nap and I finished off the cake. Three hours later, they returned.  THREE HOURS!  Max had woken from his nap, played in the garden, filled the lounge with toys and had a mid afternoon snack by the time they got back.  Turns out there were two pubs on their route ...

Sunday morning, dinner in the oven, dinner table set, a mountain of veggies prepped and ready to cook.  Phone call.  From Sophie; her and Jon were on their way to their friends and the car was acting weird.  They were closer to us than they were to home so could they limp it back to here and call the breakdown company to see to it here.  Of course.  But the breakdown company said they may be 90 mins, Max was already hungry and I am starting to wonder if dinner for six will stretch to dinner for nine.  Just about.  But just as Rachel and family arrived, so did the recovery van who couldn't diagnose what was wrong but said he would follow Jon home so they could leave it at a local garage to be looked at in the morning.  Then if he broke down completely, he could tow him onward.  So we ended up with dinner for eight and a 'doggy bag' to go home with Jon.

Then after lunch I took Sophie and Max back to their home while the rest of them loaded the dishwasher and tidied up the kitchen.  

So it was a win for me, as we unexpectedly did get to have the whole family together, just about, plus I got out of the bad bit of having people over for dinner - kitchen tidying!  

Monday 17 August 2020

Normal British weather has resumed

 Last week we were bemoaning the fact that our weather temperatures were around 37.5 degrees/almost 100 degrees and energy was sapped, fans were on and it was just too hot to do anything.  This week -

Not only is the patio under water but we have a rather large puddle appearing on the lawn.  Our neighbour who has a small weather station in his garden registered that we had received 2.5" of rain in 24 hours.  We are lucky in that we live on a higher point in town, down in the town near the river the roads were completely flooded, cars stuck in the water and in one place the water was waist deep.  

So there isn't much to report over here in Deb's World, I have been busy making a couple more face coverings

I can't decide which style of mask is most comfortable, the shaped one or the pleated one, which do you find the best?  Not that any of them are particularly comfortable, especially when you wear glasses!  Also, how many masks do you need?  I now have six which is probably enough as we also have some disposable ones but I can't work out if you wear a mask to go shopping in the morning, can you wear the same one in the evening so long as you have carefully folded it to ensure the inside hasn't touched the outside?  

One thing I have realised when wearing a mask is how often I smile at people.  Then realise that they obviously cannot see me smiling!  For instance I know I was smiling in the bottom photo but there is no way that you could tell is there?  Oh well, I know I'm being friendly even if no one else can see it!  How are you coping with the new face covering rules?  Do you feel safer?  I'm quite happy to wear it in public, we don't know if we're asymptomatic so if it saves one person catching the virus then it is worth a bit of discomfort in my opinion.  Who would've thought, at the beginning of the year, that we would have a new fashion accessory to wear by the end of summer?

Monday 10 August 2020

One photo - twenty words


We can't go to Greece for a holiday this year, but we can recreate a Greek meal for Sunday lunchtime

Sunday 9 August 2020

When life hacks go wrong

We spend a lot of time in our conservatory, it's a really relaxing place to spend time except ... when the doors and windows are open we often have flies come in.  I've investigated several options of fly screens or those long plastic strips (which were old fashioned but now vintage) but we aren't keen to attach anything permanent to the doorway.

So in a search of natural remedies, good old Google was consulted and one hack that kept coming up was to hang outside the door a plastic bag, half filled with water and with some copper coins in the bottom. The idea being that a fly's eye will see the prism of light from the shiny copper in the water and will avoid it.  It sounds feasible and easy to try, and what did we have to lose?

Well, it had only been in the doorway about an hour when we realised that a fly in the conservatory was nothing compared to what else may be attracted to the glittery, shiny lights.  I was in the kitchen when I heard a bit of a kerfuffle in the conservatory and was horrified to find that a magpie had been enticed inside and was flapping around in a scared state trying to find his way out again.  

Obviously this was not something that I could sort out on my own so I quickly shut the door between conservatory and dining room and frantically called for Paul to come and get it out, while hoping that Coco would not leave her morning nap and think that it was her responsibility to get involved.

By the time I'd run upstairs and briefed Paul of the situation, the bird had obviously found its way out, but not before leaving a trail of feathers and poo behind in his panic to get back into the great outdoors.  Yuk.  Needless to say the bag of coins has been removed and if anyone has any ideas for deterring all manner of wildlife into the house, please let me know!


I've had a bit of a 'wobble' this week.  I don't really know why but I had a very emotional day on Thursday.  It seems to have been prompted by a friend's husband and Paul having a conversation about us all having a weekend away together.  I had a text from my friend to organise a time to discuss dates etc and I panicked.  I had a major feeling of apprehension and I knew that this was not something I felt comfortable with.  I know it seems weird as Paul and I have started going out a little further afield on our own, and we have been to the pub for a meal with these friends, and had them into our house for drinks one evening.  But somehow the thought of staying away with other people and spending a lot of time with them just spooked me and after a a few tears and a sleepless night of worrying how to tell my friend I didn't want to go, I knew I had to just be honest and say I wasn't ready to spend a weekend away with anyone outside our family.   I've said all along that we all need to appreciate other people's feelings and acknowledge that everyone has their own comfort zone which may not be the same as our own and thankfully they seemed to understand.  

I hope no-one else is suffering a low point of the Corona-coaster of emotions, but if you are, let's reassure ourselves that we aren't alone and we must follow our gut feeling about what we are happy to do and what we aren't.  We'll all get to the finish line eventually, and there is no point in forcing ourselves to go faster than feels safe.  I already feel better for being honest and letting people know that I'm not ready to go back to 'normal' just yet.  

Friday 7 August 2020

Scavenger Hunt link up 2

So here we are with the next link up for the summertime scavenger hunt organised by Mary-Lou.  How can it possibly be time for the second batch already?  Normally I'll have checked a lot of these off on a foreign holiday but I've had to look closer to home this year.  It's made it a little more of a challenge, but it won't stop me coming up with 20 photos by the end of the summer!

3 - Something with the colours of your country's flag.

As I pulled up outside my house I realised that the centre display panel in my car covered red, white and blue - how convenient!

5 - Something you have more than one of 

{ahem, quite a few more than one, this is just one shelf of recipe books!}

6 - Something in the shape of a triangle 

Does putting three triangular Greek feta cheese and spinach pastries into the shape of a triangle make me an overachiever? #needtobuyatriangularplate

9 - Something that starts with the initials of your name (first or last) 

Dog and Knees.  First and last - definitely overachiever tendencies this year!

11 - Something you need to throw away.  

Due to the work in the garden, we had so much rubbish to get rid of, we had to hire a skip.  This was taken the first afternoon; by the time they came to collect it yesterday it was full to overflowing!

13 - A rubber band in use

Beautiful roses - one thing I missed in the early stages of lockdown when we were all relying on 'click and collect' or supermarket deliveries was having fresh flowers in my hallway.  They just weren't available to add to an online shop.  When I was able to actually go into a shop myself one of the first things I headed for was the fresh flower display.

17 - Something naturally round. 

About 20 years ago we went to Lanzarote on holiday and brought back a cactus, it is still alive (proof indeed that cacti thrive on neglect!) and has many little round babies which we have repotted.

19 - A stone/rock/pebble with some colour in it.  

Don't pebbles have some beautiful colours when they are wet?  Leo loves lifting up these pebbles that we have around the base of a tree in our garden, just to check on all the creepy crawlies that are likely to be living underneath.

Alt C - Something with four sides.  

I am bound to need to use an alternative for one of the original 20 so in anticipation of that I've snapped the lovely clock tower on the covered seating area overlooking the beach at Frinton.

So - I think I've ticked off 12 of the 20 and have one alternative up my sleeve - if you are joining in too, how are you doing?

Tuesday 4 August 2020

A Sentence a Day in July

OK July, your elder brother June wasn't too bad, but there is definitely room for improvement, so let's see what you hold for us.

Day 1 Jon came over with Max and while J set up an office in our garden, Max and I went on an adventure feeding the ducks with his cousins Leo and Rosie

Day 2 Started a new project, reupholstering our dining room chairs - wish me luck!

Day 3 Coco's birthday - 9 today!

Day 4 Leo and Rosie came round because from today they are allowed indoors!

Day 5 Lazy Sunday, resting, relaxing and preparing for our new childminding routine!

Day 6 First return to childminding day - was so lovely to have Rosie and Leo here again although my baking pans which were used for an 'orchestra' may never be the same again.

Day 7 Another day with R and L - their childminder isn't resuming work until August so we are helping out with two days a week instead of one.

Day 8 Another day, a different grandchild!  We had Max here for the first time on his own, he was so good, but boy do I feel exhausted after three full days of childminding!

Day 9 Zumba class, followed by catching up with a humungous pile of ironing then a quick trip into town returning via Marks and Spencer's food hall - haven't been there for a while!

Day 10 Need to get cracking on re upholstering chairs, now have three down and one to go

Day 11 Friends over for drinks in the evening - how lovely not to have to consider the weather anymore before we plan anything (which was a good thing as the temperatures have dropped this week!).

Day 12 Sunday morning, sun is back, took a different route for our dog walk, hardly anyone else around

Day 13 Went into town with Rosie before collecting Leo from nursery, even something as simple as that seems a treat after being confined to home for so long!

Day 14 Leo's last day at nursery, so came home with armfuls of artwork he's made since he started - took him and Rosie to the park after lunch where he convinced me that Mummy lets him go down the big slide with Rosie on his lap - but apparently that isn't quite the case!

Day 15 Had Max here for the day, such a cutie and he really makes himself at home here now which is lovely

Day 16 Went to the garden centre to buy some plants to fill in a few gaps in the garden - unbeknown to us, this would prompt a huge rethink of the area at the end of the patio.

Day 17 Did a LOT of work in the garden, so much so that we will need to hire a skip to remove all the things we have dismantled - fence panels, lattice panels, swing chairs ...

Day 18 Spent the day at the home of our friends who have moved to a tiny village in Suffolk, it was a beautifully picturesque journey through the countryside and lovely to spend time with them again.

Day 19 Giving a lot of thought to redesigning our back garden - seeing the renovations our friends have made to theirs have inspired us even more to improve our own, and goodness me, isn't garden designing thirsty business? šŸ˜‰

Day 20 Leo and Rosie here

Day 21 Took Leo and Rosie to Pets at Home to see the small animals there, fortunately none stowed away in anyone's pockets!

Day 22 Had Max here, he's so close to walking

Day 23 My first hairdressing appointment since February - ah, that feels better!

(this is the 'during' photo, taken while my highlights were in the foils!)

Day 24 Friend here for coffee in the morning, catching up on chores in the afternoon, our first day of having to wear a mask in the shops

Day 25 Max's birthday!  It was lovely to go over to see him on his big day and enjoy a slice of birthday cake and a glass of prosecco all before lunchtime.

Day 26 We had friends over in the evening yesterday and they didn't go home until just after midnight so it was nice to just have a long lazy Sunday at home.

Day 27 Exhausting day childminding, weather wasn't good and we couldn't get outside much.

Day 28 Leo and Rosie here again but it was dry and sunny so we spent the morning at the Adventure Playground in Harlow Town Park - they had so much fun and the day went faster too ;-)

Day 29 Not only did we get to go to the beach today, but we also went to the pub in the evening for a meal out with friends #isthiswhatnormalusedtobelike

Day 30 Looked after Max today, and Paul ventured to the gym to go swimming for the first time since March!

Day 31 Boy it was hot today!  Went to visit my sister for coffee and cake in her garden - we haven't met up properly since March so it was extra special!

And here comes the video, courtesy of 1 Second Everyday

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Monday 3 August 2020

'Ta dah' in July

July was a month in which we tiptoed a little closer to 'normal'.  For some people it meant rushing back to pubs and work, for us it was a gentle easing of restrictions.  We'll all reach the end post eventually, I'm happy to take it one step at a time!

The biggest 'ta dah' wasn't mine at all really.  It was Max's.  He had his first birthday!  A quarter of that year spent in lockdown, but he's happy to be socialising again!

Hola!  Como estas?  

I've managed to keep going with my Spanish.  I'm not sure if I'll ever be fluent (no, scrub that, I know I won't ever be fluent) but my conversational knowledge is growing by the day.  130 days to be exact.

We've spent a lot of time in the garden, planning a new design and we think we have finally decided what we want to change - even to the point of asking a landscape gardener for a quote.  I have a sneaky feeling that the final bill is likely to be much higher than I am expecting!

I've read two books this month.  I've just finished our latest book club read which was The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.    It was really good.  I don't want to give any spoilers but a brief synopsis is that twin sisters are born into a small community in the south of America where the people are predominately of mixed black and white ancestry, with each generation being born lighter than the last.  The girls run away when they are sixteen.  Ten years later, one sister returns to the town with her black daughter, and the other twin is secretly living as a white woman with her husband and daughter knowing nothing about her past.  Years later their daughters lives coincide and all the secrets of the past come out of hiding. It's not a book I would probably have chosen for myself but it kept me enthralled!  But before I read that, my friend who is an author asked me to read through the first draft of her latest novel.  I have to say that I think that this is her best book yet, and that it will sell well when it is released early next year.  It always amazes me how she comes up with her storylines.

We got to the beach!  We have paddled in the sea and felt the sand between our toes!  That felt like a real 'ta dah' moment this year and we enjoyed our day immensely.  

We went to a pub for a meal!  Who ever would have thought that would be worthy of a mention of things I achieved over the month?  But at the beginning of the month I wouldn't have thought it would be something I had done, so here it is, last but not least - we have been out with friends.  Now we've had a little taste of freedom, let's just hope everyone else local to us stays as cautious as we are and we don't have to have a local lockdown again.  I think I have reached the borderline of my comfort zone for the moment!