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

Wednesday 4 November 2020

4th Day of Gratitude

 For the fourth day of gratitude I am sharing a favourite place to walk

This is the country park that is a very short walk from our house and I am so very grateful to have such a lovely tranquil place to visit so close to home.  This place was a welcome sanctuary when we were in lockdown, we were allowed outside to exercise or walk a dog for an hour a day and I can't think of a better place to be at any time of year.  

Hard to believe that when we moved to this house, this lake did not exist.  They dug it out when they built a new housing estate a little way away and it has just filled up naturally.  It's a haven for ducks and moorhens, and this year we even had two swans appear for a few days.  These ducks will never go hungry, it is a popular place for family walks.

My husband is part of a volunteer group who help with the park's maintenance and they work hard to keep it looking good and attract as much wildlife into the area as possible.  We are so lucky to have this five minutes walk from our front door.

PS Our last day before lockdown.  Our last day of looking after Max for at least a month 😢 I keep trying to reassure myself that this initial phase is 'only' for a month and then maybe they will lift a few restrictions and we may be able to see him again outdoors.  Then I also remind myself that I have a friend who has twin grandchildren who live in Australia who she only sees once every two years so I must put this in perspective!  It's a very strange day today, although we are really fortunate that we are both early-retirees so do not have to implement too many changes.  This time I must remember not to bake (and eat) so many cakes 😉 

Tuesday 3 November 2020

3rd Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is for Home, and I am very thankful for a warm, cosy home.

The minute you open the front door, Coco will always rush to see what's happening and don't be taken in by her hesitant pose, she is an escape artist if you keep that door open too long!

Yes, that's me by the front door!  (excuse the slippers!) We have lived here for 29 years now and moved in when Rachel was 5 and Jon was 18 months.  Even though we don't need a 4 bedroomed house anymore I can't imagine moving for a while yet.  We have firmly put down our roots in this area.  

We are five minutes walk from the countryside in one direction and ten minutes walk from a small shopping area which has a supermarket, chemist, newsagent, hairdresser, dentist, doctor, pet shop, laundry and fish and chip shop.  What more could you want!  We are also 20 mins drive from London Stansted airport, 10 mins to the M11 motorway and we have train links which can get you to London Liverpool Street in 40 mins.  When we are not in lockdown we have a good choice of shops in the town, and a market every Thursday and Saturday.  We've lived in this town all our married life and I think we were very lucky in our choice of area. 

PS Daily news - 2 days to lockdown and our last day of having Rosie here for the day and Leo here after school.  The rules say we can only form a childcare 'bubble' with one family and as we look after children from two families that would mean choosing which one to help.  That really isn't fair and so we have decided not to 'bubble' with either, then if there is an emergency and one suddenly needs help we can step in.  It is such a shame as we will miss our childcare days but can't think of an alternative.  It's like being asked to choose your favourite child! Rachel has been able to arrange an extra day with the childminder who has Rosie and Leo on the days we don't have them and Jon has been able to rearrange his work hours to cover the day we have Max so I don't feel we are letting either down but boy will I miss seeing them all.

Monday 2 November 2020

2nd Day of Gratitude

 Today's prompt is for Fresh Produce and I was tempted to pop into the supermarket and take a snap of the fruit and veg aisle but then I realised that I had something that perfectly displayed the best of British produce already in my fridge.

In my opinion nothing tastes quite so nice as a fresh British strawberry.  They are at the end of their season now and whilst we can still buy strawberries that have been imported from overseas throughout the winter, they do not have the luscious, juicy strawberry flavour that British ones have.  This will probably be the last pack that I buy before the season starts again next year so we will make the most of them.

Imagine a bowl of these, sitting in the sun with a glass of champagne, a little cream poured over them, watching the Wimbledon final.  Bliss.

PS Daily news - lockdown happening in 3 days time.  Fortunately no queues to get into supermarket this morning and shelves well stocked so fingers crossed there will not be panic buying this time around.  Stocked up on dog food for Coco, I know where my priorities lie!

Sunday 1 November 2020

1st Day of Gratitude

 Today's the day!  The first day of the 25 Days of Gratitude photo challenge!

So come on in, it's chilly outside, British Summertime officially ended last weekend and this time next week all of England will be back in lockdown, so it's definitely time to be grateful for Comfort Food.

Sit yourself down with a nice glass of wine while I dish up dinner.  I hope you like beef casserole with herb dumplings, jacket potato with butter and green beans.

I can't take all the credit for the recipe, it's based loosely on Mary Berry's Beef Bourguignon I miss out the bacon and brandy but add a few thickly sliced carrots.  Of course, by substituting those ingredients I have turned it from a French classic to a homely British dish so naturally have to add some suet dumplings to go with it.

It's a perfect start to things we are grateful for though isn't it?  There's nothing like food like this to warm you up and stop those hunger pangs.  Plus, it's one of Paul's favourite winter meals so he is grateful too, that I 'had' to cook it to show on my blog!

We are having our daughter and family round for lunch today, which will be the last time they will be in our house until early December.  That's a strange thought!  Even though we knew another lockdown was probably inevitable, my heart still sank as I watched Boris walk into the Downing Street press office and make the announcement.   It will make me even more thankful to have this branch of the family tree around the table today.  (The other 50% live in another area and not allowed to mix with other households at the moment.  Plus we have the Rule of Six, so couldn't have everyone here, much as we would have liked to have had a big pre-lockdown lunch)