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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