Friday 31 December 2021

A sentence a day in December

I hardly dare wonder what December has in store for us this year, fingers crossed that this year our Christmas will go ahead as planned but last year taught us that you should never assume.  Let's see shall we?

Day 1 Had Max here for the day he is very 'into' Paw Patrol and PJ Masks and luckily his cousin Leo has given me a lot of his toys that he doesn't play with any more - Max is one happy little boy! 

Day 2 Zumba!  Paul went into London to meet up with some old work colleagues but said that it felt very different there since all the covid restrictions were put in place, a few of his old 'haunts' have closed now.

Day 3 Lunch out with our friends at a pub close to where Jon lives, we didn't realise but he and Sophie were there too with their friends but in a different part of the pub, he noticed us just as they were leaving!

Day 4 Put up our decorations, Jon and Max came to visit in the afternoon, then we baby sat Daisy while Rachel took Leo and Rosie to Leo's drama class show

Day 5 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch, kids are full of pre-Christmas excitement

Day 6 A productive day - overseas mail sent, postage stamps bought and ticked a few more presents of the 'to buy' list - all from local shops (I am trying really hard to shop local this year and avoid Amazon at all costs!)

Day 7 Had Rosie here for the day, she kindly posted the few cards that I have written into the post box for me - which made the people sitting outside the little cafe opposite the post box smile as she insisted on doing them one at a time!

Day 8 Max came for the day, we went into town to buy him some winter boots and instead of us taking him home, his mum came and collected him in the afternoon which meant I got an unexpected cuddle with Olive.

Day 9 A bit of a 'self care' day today, Zumba in the morning and a hair cut and colour in the afternoon

Day 10 Went to my favourite Thai restaurant, The Giggling Squid, for lunch with two ex-work colleagues - delicious!

Day 11 Busy day prepping food for Paul's birthday meal tomorrow then an evening out to celebrate the 30th birthday of a friend's daughter - I was a bit hesitant about going but decided to go a little late and leave early to try and minimise any risk.  They had asked everyone to take tests before they went so hopefully they did, we tried to keep our distance from people as best we could!

Day 12 Paul's birthday - 64!  Had an absolutely lovely day with all the family here, it felt like the Christmas we were denied last year

Day 13 Made some sausage rolls to freeze - why is that something I only think to do at Christmas? Went into town to collect a delivery from a local store, Coco had her pre-Christmas groom

Day 14 Rosie was here for the day, she was in an artistic frame of mind today and we have got through many sheets of drawing paper

Day 15 Max's turn to be here today - our last childminding day for him of the year as he has big plans to see Santa next Wednesday

Day 16 Last Zumba of the year - was good fun and nice to dress up with a bit of Christmas colour and sparkle to get in a party mood

Day 17 Tackled some Christmas wrapping - every year I say I will do a little at a time and every year I don't!

Day 18 Wrapping is done!  What a sense of achievement - babysat Leo and Rosie in the evening while Rachel and James went out for a meal.

Day 19 Rachel and Jon both got to have their booster vaccinations!  Looked after Daisy while Rachel and family went to visit Santa in his grotto.

Day 20 I've been saying for ages that Paul's hearing is deteriorating and today he had a hearing test.  Started constructing a gingerbread house for the children to decorate tomorrow.

Day 21 Leo and Rosie were here today in happy pre-Christmas spirits - we decorated a gingerbread house, played Christmas bingo, and watched Shrek, it's so lovely to see how excited they are

Day 22 My sister and brother in law came over this morning - none of us are great Christmas fruit cake lovers but my mum always used to make a cherry and almond ring cake at Christmastime so I decided to make that as a substitute to have with our coffee.

Day 23 Popped over to Jon's to deliver our Christmas gifts - Max's excitement level is growing by the minute.

Day 24 Collected turkey in the morning, started a jigsaw in the afternoon and went to Rachel's for Christmas Eve supper

Day 25 Christmas Day at Rachel's - what a lovely day we had!  It more than made up for the disappointment of last year.

Day 26 Boxing Day - ended up being a walk in the woods with Jon and family (after negative tests) rather than a family get together in their house as Rachel and Rosie tested positive for Covid in the morning

Day 27 What a difference a day makes - Paul tested positive this morning, but I am still negative, he'll be sleeping in the spare room tonight!

Day 28 James and Leo tested positive today, it's not looking good for me is it?  Still negative at the moment.

Day 29 Went into town to have a quick look in the shops to see if I could find any bargains - came home with a new sweater :-)  Still negative!

Day 30 Realised that we do not have enough lateral flow tests for me to test for another 6 days and also for Paul to test from his day 6 onwards - managed to track down a pharmacy that had some, seems there is a bit of a shortage locally! Still negative.

Day 31 Still negative!  Jon and Max came over to help take Coco out for a walk in the afternoon - I think it may have been a little bit of an excuse to give Mummy and Olive a bit of peace and quiet!

So, not only another month over, but another year!  It's been quite an eventful one and we could dwell on the bad bits but I'll concentrate on the happy times.  Birthday celebrations, a holiday, Jon's house move, the arrival of baby Olive and family get togethers.  We have much to look back and be thankful for!  But oh, wouldn't it be lovely if 2022 was a little bit more 'normal' than 2021 was?

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So not only the end of another month but another year! 
Wishing everyone health and happiness in 2022 - Happy New Year!  

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Wednesday 29 December 2021

The unwanted Christmas gift

 You know what's coming don't you?  

But before we get to that, let's concentrate on the lovely Christmas Day that we had with Rachel and her family!  It more than made up for last year and we had such a lovely fun time with them.  

The plan was for us all to go round to Jon's the following day, negative tests permitting.  I anxiously watched ours first thing in the morning, then happily let them know we were negative.  However ... Rachel and Rosie had tested positive so that immediately changed our plans as they had to go into isolation.  After a bit of discussion about whether or not it was safe for us still to go, we decided that we would still go over to see Jon and his family, not to go indoors at all but go for a walk through their local woods instead.

Which turned out to be a very sensible decision as guess what?  The following day Paul tested positive! So did James and Leo!  Government rules say that we had to test daily for 10 days as we had been in contact with Rachel, and that is the only way we found out as he had no symptoms whatsoever.  

So he is now in isolation, and I am still testing daily but let's be honest, it must surely only be a matter of time if five out of the six of us are now positive!  Fortunately, it seems to be affecting them mildly.  The children are bright as buttons and full of energy, the adults just seem to have mild cold symptoms.  Coco is very confused as to why it is only me doing the walking duties and she'll be even more confused if we have to start relying on friends and neighbours to step in when/if I succumb!

I'm not sure what is making me more anxious at the moment, taking my daily lateral flow or thinking about getting on the scales to see how much damage all my extra chocolate intake has done!

Saturday 18 December 2021

A year of reading

 There is nothing like a good book!  Something to take your mind off the news, a place to escape.  I belong to the online book club organised by Leslie - you can also find it on Facebook under the name Come Read With Me.  I am so pleased that I discovered it as it has encouraged me to read books which I would never have picked out for myself.  Do you find that you find a 'type' of book you enjoy and then keep going back for more of the same?  Well I have to say that my reading list has become much more varied than usual and I'd like to share with you a little buffet of ten books that I read and enjoyed this year, just in case you fancy dipping your toe into finding something new.

  • Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well by Mary Kay Andrews  Such a lovely story!  You go through all the emotions with this one.  The Eudora we meet in the first chapter is quite different to the one that we see in the last.  Who would think that an elderly lady, and several others, would have her life transformed by the quirky young girl who moves in next door.  If you fancy something a bit different, please give this one a go!
  • The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate.   This is set in Louisiana in 1875 and 1987 and based on the 'Lost Friends' advertisements in newspapers from freed slaves searching for their loved ones.  This book opened my eyes to a period of history I knew little about.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.   Now you have to use your imagination in this one!  Nora is deeply unhappy and finds herself in the Midnight Library at midnight on the last day of her life.  Here she has the chance to pick out books based on things that have happened in her past and magically try out other lives she could have lived.  We all have times in our past where you wonder 'what if I'd made a different decision?' and Nora gets the chance to explore this.
  • The Four Winds by Kirstin Hannah. This is set in Texas in 1934.  The story of Elsa Martinelli and her journey to try and support her family after a natural disaster ruins life on the family farm.  She leaves in search of a better life in California but finds herself amongst thousands of others.  Her strength in surviving all that life throws at her is inspiring.
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth.  The story of twins, Fern and Rose.  Fern likes routine, she doesn't like change, she avoids crowds and Rose has always taken care of her.  But Rose discovers that she is unable to have a baby, so Fern can only think of one way she can repay Rose for all that she has done for her in the past.  However, is Rose the thoughtful sister we have been led to believe?  At what point does caring for someone become controlling?
  • The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict.  The true story of a black woman who has to pass as white in order to become J P Morgan's personal librarian and help him curate his collection of rare books and paintings for the Pierpoint Morgan Library.  I really enjoyed this book.
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney To be honest, at first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this one.  But I am so pleased I kept reading because I did get a bit of a surprise at the end!  It seemed a bit far fetched to believe someone would believe that they have mysteriously won a weekend away in a remote location but that part is necessary for the rest of the story.  I knew nothing about the condition of 'face blindness' but it is totally relevant to the storyline.
  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry. The story of Poppy and Adam and their tradition of going on holiday together once a year despite taking a dislike to each other when they first meet 12 years ago.  Over the years their relationship changes, and then 2 years ago it all went horribly wrong.  Can one last holiday mend everything?
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriaty  Imagine falling off an exercise bike at the gym, waking up in hospital and finding that you have forgotten the last ten years of your life.  Not only that, but the person who you appear to have become is nothing like the person you were 10 years ago.  Could remembering how she used to be give her the impetus to change how she has become?
  • The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews.  This was our last book club read.  It was short and sweet and I can imagine it being turned into a short Christmas film.  Lots of feel good vibes and even if it was a little predictable, it was a feel good read and perfect for pre-Christmas reading.
So that's my list!  Not all were book club reads, some were recommendations I picked up along the way.  I've tried to share a varied subject matter and trying to choose ten has made me realise just how many books I read this year!  

Friday 17 December 2021

Putting on our glad rags

 It isn't often that we get to get to properly dress up so I thought I'd mark the occasion with a rare photo of the two of us from last weekend.

Our friend's daughter and son in law were both celebrating their 30th birthdays which fall within two days of one another.  They were hosting a 007 themed party and whilst it was lovely to be invited I was really hesitant about going.  So we dusted off our posh clothes, I unearthed the gold strappy high heeled sandals I haven't worn for a couple of years and we popped in just for an hour or so.  Everyone had done a test before going and we stayed on the edges of the festivities, leaving the 30 year old crowd to do their partying together on the dance floor.  We tried to stay within our 'comfort zone' and left earlier than we would normally have done.  No more parties for us for a while!

The only other time I've got dressed up was for Zumba this week

It was the last class of the year so we all wore red and a bit of sequin sparkle.  There were only about 20 of us in the hall, so we were well spaced out with all windows and doors open.  I chose my spot as near to an open door as possible, in fact when we did a 'grapevine to the right' I was practically in the car park!  Again, I have tried to find a balance between joining in, keeping a bit of normality going, but staying as safe as possible.

Today I am wrapping presents - every year I say I will do a few at a time so it isn't a mammoth chore at the last minute, but I seem to be able to find many a distraction after doing a couple.  Like writing a blog post about not very much at all ...

Monday 13 December 2021

Me on Monday

 Monday finds me a little tired but glowing with happy memories of a lovely day yesterday.

It was Paul's birthday - 64 (do the words in that Beatles song feel appropriate?!) and we celebrated by having all the family here for the day.  It felt like the Christmas we didn't get to have last year and we made the most of every minute of it.

 Six adults, four children and two dogs, and nearly all of us looking in the right direction (Daisy didn't seem to understand what was going on!)

It was so lovely to have them all together and wonderful to see the cousins having fun together.  Max finds Leo hilarious, and Leo enjoys acting up to his audience - there were lots of giggles.  Moments like that make us realise how much we lost last year and I won't mention the controversy about the stories that are making headline news over here at the moment.  

We actually have a 'quiet' week planned this week.  All social events that we planned this year have now taken place; after last year's experience we decided to celebrate early just in case restrictions came in and I'm so pleased that we got to do everything, and see everyone, that we wanted to.  

Today I plan to pop into town to pick up something that I had ordered in from one of the shops and take a wreath to lay on my parent's grave - how can it possibly now be 24 years since my mum died?  When I look at that photo above I can definitely see how I am resembling her more and more as the years go by.  She absolutely loved having her family around her and I can see that contentment in my expression yesterday too.  

After that it must surely be time to make a batch of sausage rolls for the freezer, take Coco to the groomers for her pre-Christmas spa day and hair cut, and possibly sit down with a cup of coffee and a bit of leftover birthday cake while I finish writing the cards that I need to hand deliver to friends who live nearby.  Sounds like a good plan eh?

Have a good week!   

Monday 6 December 2021

Leading questions

Hello! Just wondering if you had plans for this afternoon?

It's the kind of text from your son or daughter that can go one of two ways.  

  • Do you want to come and do something with me?
  • Can you babysit?

So there we were on Saturday thinking that we would decorate the tree in the morning and then maybe pop into town for the Christmas Fayre in the afternoon.  It was a pretty miserable drizzly day so the walk into town was becoming less appealing by the hour.  

When the text from Jon came through I had my suspicions but was pleasantly surprised when he went onto say that Sophie was taking Olive to her sister's baby shower and he was wondering if he could bring Max over to us and spend the afternoon here until he had to go and pick her up.

The text from Rachel said 'evening' instead of 'afternoon' and was for the other option.  Leo has started a drama class and they had a little show going on in the early evening so could we look after Rosie and Daisy while they were gone.  They'd only be an hour ... 

Hmm ... at the last minute, Rosie decided she wanted to go as well and we ended up just looking after Daisy - for three hours!  The show was a success, there was a small party for the children afterwards and time slipped away.  Luckily Daisy curled up on my lap (much to Coco's disgust) and slept most of the time they were gone.

Daisy making herself comfortable

Coco was definitely not impressed.

So a 'not doing much' Saturday ended up being a busy time after all.  It was so lovely to see the children all getting excited for Christmas.  Last year things were being cancelled left, right and centre so it is so good that they are getting to do some of the fun things in the lead up to the big day.  

We did manage to get the tree done in time

So today after school Leo and Rosie are going on the special Santa Express train from Audley End to meet Father Christmas in his Winter Wonderland and then to go with Holly the Christmas Fairy to visit the enchanted forest where they will write their letters to Santa and post them in the North Pole Post Office.  Guess where Daisy is going?  Sorry Coco!

Wednesday 1 December 2021

A sentence a day in November

 November started with colder temperatures, and busy new routines for certain members of the family!

Day 1 Rachel started her new job and had to meet up with her new boss so we had Rosie here for a few hours, we were tired due to Coco getting us up three times in the night to go out into the garden #worsethanhavingababyinthehouse

Day 2 Had Rosie here for the day today, took her to the supermarket to get some shopping to take to Jon's tomorrow - she thought it was fun sitting in the trolley and we realised that because of Covid, it was something she had never done before, Rachel always goes shopping on her own!

Day 3 Had Max here for the day, Coco went to the groomers and came home looking sparkling clean - how long will that last?

Day 4 Finally got to have my hairdressing appointment - 3rd time lucky!  1st one I had booked I had to cancel as I had horrendous stomach pains, 2nd one had to be cancelled as we had to look after Max while his baby sister was being born, I hardly dared hope that this one would actually happen!

Day 5 Went to Cambridge in the morning but came home after a couple of hours as I felt quite unwell with chills and muscle aches, did Covid test when I got home which was negative.  It was Guy Fawkes night and we were worried about Coco being upset with the fireworks but we played Classic FM radio's special Pet Classics and it really did seem to work!

Day 6 Didn't sleep much last night but felt a bit better today - did another Covid test just in case - booked our Covid boosters.

Day 7 Rachel and family (including Daisy) came for lunch, Coco was very surprised but played nicely with her guest!

Day 8 Looked after Daisy while Rachel took Rosie to have her flu vaccination - for her age group it is a spray into the nostril, over and done with in one minute!

Day 9 Had Rosie here for the day, had a busy day.

Day 10 Our day for having Max, his baby sister was asleep when I went to pick him up AND when I took him home - no chance of a cuddle!

Day 11 My car went in for a service, Zumba class where we observed the silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th months.

Day 12 We had a Covid boosters 😀 Went to friends for drinks in the evening.

Day 13 Both of us have sore arms but no other side effects so far

Day 14 Popped over to see Jon and managed to sneak in an hour long cuddle with Olive

Day 15 Took Rosie into town and bought her some very trendy black patent boots

Day 16 Went to our favourite garden centre with Rosie, they have such a lovely Christmas department, bought some winter pansies and a couple of new Christmas decorations 

Day 17 Rachel had to go into London for work and the childminder is still isolating due to Covid so had Rosie here again today

Day 18 My Zumba teacher has Covid so no class today, Rachel is working in London again today so guess what ... I was looking after Rosie!

Day 19 Went to Chelmsford and actually managed to buy a few Christmas presents!

Day 20 Meal out at a local Italian restaurant with a group of friends that we used to always get together with pre Christmas - one of the couples we haven't seen for two years due to past years social restrictions!

Day 21 Rosie's birthday!  Was so lovely to have all the family together, our first time as a group of ten.

Day 22 Needed to find a new craft project so have started crocheting a pair of fingerless gloves (an essential for dog walking!)

Day 23 Had Rosie here for the day and kept very busy playing with her dolls

Day 24 Wednesday is our day for having Max - he has discovered Paw Patrol and loves to play with the figures while watching them on the tv    

Day 25 Zumba was back - felt good to do some exercise - went out for a meal in the evening with some ex-work friends.

Day 26 We had planned to go out shopping today but Paul woke up with a cold and wasn't feeling 100% and the weather turned cold and wet so I went into town on my own, managed to get a few Christmas presents from our local shops and then came home to bake some individual sticky toffee puddings to freeze for Paul's birthday meal in a couple of weeks time. 

Day 27

Day 28 Went out for a meal with three other couples - the husbands all play badminton together and we used to get together a couple of times a year, but it had been two years since our last meal out with them

Day 29 Went out for Sunday lunch with my Zumba class, there was live music in the afternoon and we literally spent almost two hours on the dance floor, it really was a lot of fun

Day 30 Went out for lunch with two other couples to a local Turkish restaurant - I may need to jump back on the Slimming World train soon!

Day 31 Had Rosie here for the day, it is such fun watching her imaginary play with her dolls

And that's it for another month. goodness knows what the next one will bring as we ended the month with the discovery of a new covid variant which is a bit of an unknown quantity so stricter restrictions are here and we are just hoping that another lockdown isn't on the cards.

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Monday 29 November 2021

Starting a new week

You can really tell that it's November in my little corner of the world - dog walks are now shorter, more layers are worn and the walking boots are in regular use in preference to trainers.  Funny how the weather never bothers Coco though, she's up for a walk any time of day and any kind of weather.  One of the benefits of having a layer of fur I guess!

It was a nice social kind of week last week, the kind of week that I used to take for granted so it was even nicer to meet up with friends that I hadn't seen for a while.  One friend I had dinner with on Thursday has had a 'Long Lost Family' moment and discovered that she actually has three half siblings that she previously knew nothing about.  Can you imagine the shock? It would seem that her mother had had quite a secret history before settling down with her dad.  

It was nice to get glammed up to go out for dinner with three other couples on Saturday.  The thing that links this group is that our other halves all play badminton together on a Tuesday evening.  But the weather was horrendous that day and it seemed very weird to go out wearing a sparkly sleeveless top and trousers but have to wear a thick padded coat, hat and gloves to survive the walk from the car park to the restaurant!  Isn't it hard to motivate yourself to get all dressed up in the evening when you've been sitting around in comfy joggers and a warm sweater and socks all day.

The sparkles came out again on Sunday as it was our Zumba class's pre-Christmas party, we didn't get to have one last year so we all kept our fingers crossed that it would happen this time.  It was so much fun, there was live music (the female singer does an Adele tribute act and had such a brilliant voice) and of course as we are all Zumba dancers we were dancing all afternoon!  My feet didn't know what had hit them, not only wearing proper shoes with heels for the first time in I don't know how long, but two hours of almost non stop dancing.  

So here we are today and there is another meal out - this time for lunch.  There needs to be some serious healthy eating for the rest of the week!

But first a trip to the car dealership to start the process of choosing a new car.  The contract on my Mini finishes in March and the time between ordering and car arriving is currently about three months so I need to make a decision.  Who am I kidding?  There's no decision to be made - I will get another Mini, I love them!  My only query this time is do I go for automatic or manual?  I normally have manual but Paul has an automatic car and I'm tempted to do the same. 

I'm so pleased that we organised our pre-Christmas 'events' early this year as I'm sure I'm not the only one who is feeling a bit suspicious about the prospect of more restrictions as we move into December.  We seem to be working our way through the Greek alphabet of variants far too quickly!  

Saturday 20 November 2021

Me on Saturday

 The week coming should, in theory, be more 'normal' than the last one.  Having said that, we did have a good week last week, just not very normal!

The childminder was in isolation so I spent every day except Friday looking after Rosie which was lovely but reminded me that at 63 I do not have the energy that I used to have!  We went into town on Monday and bought her some very trendy patent chunky boots, almost identical to a pair her mummy has. 

Tuesday we went to a nearby garden centre which always has lovely Christmas displays and we chose a new decoration for her to hang on their Christmas tree.  She did have her eye on the Mummy bear model in this display but we managed to talk her out of it.

Wednesday was spent mostly playing games at home. Thursday we went to do the weekly shop - for some reason, sitting in a trolley and being wheeled around Tesco is very exciting in the eyes of an almost three year old!  I've clocked up so many steps this week - walking up to school pushing a buggy to collect Leo at the end of the day has really helped with my grand total.

Friday is the day that Rachel doesn't work so I had a day off!  Boy did I need it!  We went to Chelmsford to have a look around the shops and unexpectedly managed to get a few Christmas presents (and a new dress for me!)

I was so tempted to get some new decorations but realised that I have quite enough at home already.  Oh all right, confession time, I do seem to have come home with one new tree decoration to add to my collection!

So after a busy week, we have a little touch of normal over the weekend.  A meal out at a local Italian restaurant this evening with a group of friends that we always used to see for a pre-Christmas meal in pre-Covid times.  One of the couples who moved slightly out of the area we haven't seen for two years so we will have a lot of catching up to do!

Then on Sunday - social event of the year, drum roll please ... Rosie will be celebrating her third birthday!  We are invited for lunch (which Rosie assures me will be cake, followed by cup cakes) and so are Jon and his family.  Our first time together as a family of 10 - We are going to make the most of it just in case we are suddenly plunged into lockdown again!

Have a good weekend!

Sunday 14 November 2021

All boostered up!

 Over 50 ✅ Six months since our second vaccination ✅ that's all we needed to qualify for our booster jab on Friday.  Once again everything ran very smoothly and apart from a sore arm, there didn't seem to be any other side effects.  Fingers crossed it keeps us safe.

Last week saw the big climate change conference in Glasgow and naturally it has been on the news constantly.   It makes you think of what ways you could do your own part to help.  For a few years now we have got our gas and electricity from a company who boasts that they use only 100% renewable energy.  We try to be mindful of the amount of red meat we consume and we aim to have at least one vegetarian meal a week, fish and chicken twice a week.

This week we have taken one other small step.  We've signed up for a milk delivery service from a local independent dairy.

 No more plastic containers for our milk or fruit juice!  Although we always used to put them in the recycling, it feels good to be reducing that plastic usage.  It does take me back to my youth!  I grew up in a small town where there were no supermarkets and the local shopkeepers offered a delivery service.  I remember the baker arriving at the door with a basket of freshly made bread, still warm - why does fresh, warm bread taste so much more delicious?  Orders for general shopping were delivered by Mr Negus, who would stop and have a cup of tea while mum unpacked the shopping and gave him back the bags he had brought it in.  It was a much slower, more social process but so much more personal.

As I brought the milk bottles in on the first delivery day I was taken back to being about seven years old and being made 'milk monitor' at school with my friend Nicky.  Every child was given a small bottle of milk at break time and it was our job to collect up the silver bottle tops and flatten them out to be saved and sent to Blue Peter.  There was a campaign to raise money to buy a guide dog for the blind by sending in milk bottle tops.  It was a very important job, and Nicky and I took it very seriously!  

When I was little, we had 'whole' milk, not semi skimmed or skimmed and the cream of the milk would settle at the top of the bottle.  Sometimes if we didn't go and get the milk in off the doorstep in time, cheeky birds would peck through the foil to get to the cream!  Even though we don't have whole milk now, I still found myself shaking the bottle before I poured out the milk.  Old habits die hard!

We have another busy week of grandchildren caring this week.  R's childminder and her husband both have Covid.  Naturally my first thought when I heard was 'poor things, I hope they only have it mildly' but it was swiftly followed by 'oh no, this is definitely going to impact on me!'  So wish me luck - four days of looking after Rosie are on the horizon!  Sometimes retirement does not seem to be going the way I thought it would 😉

Monday 8 November 2021

Me on Monday

 I'm hoping for a slightly more relaxed week this week!  There was an awful lot of extra bits of childminding thrown into the mix last week trying to help free up some time for Rachel to settle into her new job.  

I also thought I may have succumbed to 'that' virus on Friday.  I didn't feel brilliant first thing, I had to de ice my car to go out first thing and I just couldn't get warm again.  We went to Cambridge mid morning but as the time went on it felt like my legs didn't have the strength to walk very far.  After a couple of hours I said to Paul that I thought I needed to go home.  Had I worked too hard at Zumba on Thursday?  Had the excitement of finally getting my hair cut been too much? (I'd first booked it for the week I caught Max's stomach bug, rescheduled it for the following week, then Sophie went into labour early and I was on Max duty, so I was holding my breath that it would finally happen 3rd time lucky!)

Coco had a hair cut

So did I

Blue skies in Cambridge just before I decided I needed to get home!

I took a lateral flow test as soon as we got home, which was negative, spent the rest of the day on the sofa with a hot water bottle feeling very cold and achy.  Dreadful night's sleep, felt a bit warmer but still achy, another lateral flow test, negative again.

Fortunately I woke on Sunday feeling a lot better, and we had our 'official' PCR test in the morning so that will surely confirm one way or the other.  I'm hoping that the fact that I was feeling a lot better within 48 hours means it was some other kind of virus but you can't help but wonder can you?  We have our booster vaccinations booked for Friday which was surprisingly easy to book for a convenient time and place.

Bearing in mind the two negative tests and the fact I was feeling back to normal, we had Rachel and family over for lunch on Sunday, the first time in weeks, and they brought Daisy with them.  Coco was surprisingly relaxed with her so maybe they will be friends in time!  Or maybe she was still chilled from her radio listening on Friday and Saturday night.  She is very scared of fireworks and someone told us that Classic FM were doing a Pet's Classics playlist all evening.  Now, was it pure coincidence or did it help?  Because she slept through the fizzes and bangs going on locally!  Of course we had to watch Strictly Come Dancing with a background of dog calming lullabies but it was worth it to keep her cool, calm and collected!

So in theory this week is a week of two halves, one half looking after grandchildren and the other half getting my car serviced, Zumba, drinks with friends and Covid boosters.  Of course, if that PCR test comes back positive it will be a whole other story!

Monday 1 November 2021

A sentence a day in October

 Chilly days, queues for petrol, rumours of shortages in the shops for Christmas - October, this is not a good way to start!  However, the end of the month brought some very happy news ...

Day 1 Rachel had to go away overnight for her work so we had Leo and Rosie here for a sleepover and left James on his own to cope with a mischievous puppy overnight #shesleepslessthananewbornbaby

Day 2 Feel so tired ... you know that song 'there were three in the bed and the little one said 'roll over'?  That was us last night (with Paul sleeping soundly in the spare bedroom on his own)

Day 3 Cleaned the outdoor table and chairs ready to be covered and stored for the winter - autumn is definitely here

Day 4 A day for doing chores, popped into town to buy a birthday present, practised drawing cute animals for the 'design a baby vest' part of Sophie's baby shower at the weekend #notanartist #notachanceofwinning

Day 5 Had Rosie here for the day - had a quiet day mostly spent playing with her baby dolls, Rachel discovered that her boss no longer wants a part time PA; due to his forthcoming partial retirement, a full time employee is required and she cannot offer full time hours, so job hunting begins.

Day 6 Jon and Max came here, took Max over to Rachel's to meet the new puppy, Coco came too and does not seem impressed!

Day 7 Zumba in the morning which was so good today - monthly Covid test and blood antibody tests in the afternoon.

Day 8 Went to a friend's house for coffee in the morning, tidied up a little in the garden in the afternoon

Day 9 Sophie's Baby shower was so lovely, we went to a really nice pub and had our meal sitting outside - counting down the days now!

Day 10 Sunday was a glorious warm, sunny day and I spent a lot of time in the garden tidying and mowing both lawns #nowfeeltired

Day 11 Ordered my Christmas turkey from the butchers - sat with Rosie and Daisy in the afternoon while Rachel and James went to school to look at Leo's work ready for his parent's evening on Thursday, I had totally forgotten how lively and chewy little puppies are - one hour was enough!

Day 12 Rosie came for the day - it's so lovely now that she is old enough to have a longer attention span to play nicely in role play games.

Day 13 Max came here, I had to pop out for an hour to keep Rosie and Daisy quiet while Rachel had a zoom interview.

Day 14 A busy day of helping out with dog sitting while Rachel was on Zoom interviews, Zumba class, popping into town to collect an order, baking a lemon and poppyseed cake, collecting Leo and Rosie from the childminder and then giving Paul a lift into town as he was going to see the new Bond film with friends; Coco and I enjoyed a quiet night in on our own!

Day 15 Two ex-work colleagues came for a cup of tea this afternoon, it's nice to keep in touch even though we don't work together any more

Day 16 Ordered an Indian takeaway and had friends over for the evening 

Day 17 Jon, Sophie and Max came for lunch but Max was definitely under the weather, he didn't eat any dinner which is unheard of, and after a nice long walk around the park and meeting up with Rachel, Leo and Rosie (James was home with the puppy who still isn't old enough to go out for walks) he seemed to be starting a temperature so they left early.

Day 18 A day of catching up with chores, then popped into have a coffee with Rachel and Rosie - and of course Daisy! Finally finished the baby blanket

Day 19 Woke at 4.30am with awful stomach cramps, didn't feel particularly well all day #thanksforsharingthegermsMax

Day 20 Jon and Sophie moved into their new home - finally!  Popped round in the afternoon to help build a big boy bed for Max and to reassemble Jon and Sophie's bed, at least they can all sleep comfortably tonight.

Day 21 The stomach cramps are back, and worse than before, spent the day feeling sorry for myself but then got good news that Rachel has been offered a new part time job!

Day 22 Felt a bit better, started knitting a scarf that Leo asked me to make for him

Day 23 Painting of the staircase has begun - in preparation of a new carpet being fitted on Thursday.

Day 24 A bit of a lazy Sunday, Paul went to have a swim in the new leisure centre that has been built in town - he was very impressed - and I carried on knitting the scarf!

Day 25 Paul finished doing the paintwork, had Leo and Rosie here for an hour while Rachel had an opticians appointment

Day 26 Washed my car in the morning so naturally it then rained about an hour after I had finished.

Day 27 Had Max here for the day, he brought his overnight bag just in case his mum went into labour during the day but it wasn't needed.

Day 28 That overnight bag was needed today! - Max's baby sister Olive arrived at 3.30 pm, nine days early.

Day 29 Felt emotionally and physically shattered!  Sophie and Olive were discharged from hospital late afternoon and Max was introduced to his little sister.

Day 30 Had my first cuddle with Olive

I think it's fair to say that I am smitten!

Day 31 The clocks went back an hour today - we had a quiet day and recharged our batteries after such a busy, eventful week!

Here's how the month looked, 1 Second Every Day

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Saturday 30 October 2021

Pigeon Pairs

 Do you know the expression 'Pigeon Pair'?  Rumour has it that pigeons sit on two eggs at a time, and they are always a boy and a girl.

I only learnt this when I had a girl baby followed by a boy.  As the consultant handed me my son she said 'Congratuations!  You now have a pigeon pair.'  I had no idea what she was talking about!  My sister also had a 'pigeon pair', her son and daughter both did too, my daughter did, and now my son has carried on the family tradition!

Yes, we have a new granddaughter - earlier than anyone expected.  Bearing in mind that Max was ten days late no-one had really thought that baby number two would arrive early.  Of course they only moved house last Wednesday so had thought they had at least three weeks to settle in, unpack and get used to their new home.  Mother Nature had other plans!

When my phone rang at 7am on Thursday and my son's name flashed up on the screen I knew something was up.  He's very good at keeping in contact via messages but we don't have that many actual phone calls, especially at 7am! He was ringing to say that S's waters had broken and they were off to hospital.  S's sister had come over to sit with Max and take him to nursery but could we pick him up and have him sleep over that night.  

Of course we could!

However, when they got to hospital they were sent home again as contractions were few and far between.  They went home about 11am and went back at 2pm as things had definitely accelerated.  Baby Olive was born at 3.30pm.  

We went to meet her for the first time this morning and it was love at first sight!

What an eventful time!  Seems like the old saying of 'new home, new baby' was absolutely true. 

Monday 25 October 2021

Finally ...

 The saga of our son's moving house reached a happy ending on Wednesday after 6 months of stress, disappointment and inconvenience.

It's a very long story so I'll cut it short. At the beginning of the year they sold their house and put in an offer to buy a different one.  The 'new to them' house was a rental property, the tenants had moved out and it looked like it was going to be a swift process.  The sale of their house went through without a hitch, and from negotiations it looked like the next house would only be a month later.  So with that in mind, they sold, put their belongings in storage, and moved out to live at the farm where Sophie's mum lives as it was only going to be for four weeks.  Or so they thought.

However, on the day that contracts should have exchanged, the owner decided he didn't want to sell after all and pulled out of the sale.  Cue an urgent search to find another home.  They found a cottage in a small village, with lots of character and put in an offer which was accepted.  This too was a rental property so they had to accept that the tenants would be given six months notice which would mean they couldn't move in until early October.  Baby number two is due early November so it wasn't ideal but they accepted that was how it was going to have to be.  Contracts all ready to exchange at the end of September, when the tenants decided they weren't going to move out!  It took a while for the letting agent to explain to them that if they didn't move out they would be evicted as their contract had legally come to an end.  If that happened, they would never be able to rent anywhere again and possibly never get a mortgage to buy something.  They finally realised that they had to go and it was agreed that they would be allowed an extra week and that week was up on Saturday! 

I think that everyone was greatly relieved to get the call on Wednesday that they could go and collect the keys and move in!

Our son, being very philosophical about things, maintains that this year's drama is an interesting story to tell in the future.

So it was about time that his sister had some drama, right?  She went into work a couple of weeks ago to be told that her part time job was going to become a full time job in the new year due to a restructure.  Now, with two small children and a puppy, full time is not an option and she's always been clear that she did not want a full time position.  Cue urgent job applications.  Which also means urgent extra child minding while she participated in zoom interviews.  I was surprised how many interviews she was able to secure and finally, after just over two weeks she has been offered a new job, part time hours working from home.  

I like to think that everything happens for a reason, and I think that had she stayed in her original job, the pressure would have mounted and she would have ended up working more hours than she wanted just to keep the job.  The logistics of school/nursery pick ups would have been very difficult but hopefully she can work around those things from now on.  However the stress of possibly being out of work in the new year was something we could all have done without.

Two dramas, which have become two anecdotes for the future!

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking to 'baby day' and I'm a nervous wreck watching my phone for messages.  I think we are all convinced that the stress of the last few weeks will mean an early arrival.  I literally jump every time there is a 'ping'!

Have a good week!

Monday 18 October 2021

Me on Monday

 Happy Monday!

Starting the week here having had what felt like an almost back to normal few days.  Not to mention and clean and tidy house after three days of having people here - always an added benefit of seeing people socially!

On Friday I had two ex-work friends over for a cup of tea and slice of cake in the afternoon, it was gloriously sunny and warm sitting in the conservatory it almost felt like we had taken a few steps back into summer.  

Saturday evening we had a couple of friends over to share an Indian takeaway which was really delicious and something we used to do about once every six weeks.

Sunday involved Jon, Sophie and Max coming over for lunch.  I had said to Jon on Thursday that if they were free and looking for something to do, they were welcome to come and join us.  I heard nothing by Saturday morning when I went to do my shopping but fortunately I bought a few extra veggies and a slightly larger chicken because on Saturday afternoon he messaged me to say that yes they would like to come!  Always expect the unexpected with that branch of the family tree!

We have actually had a few conversations about plans for Christmas this weekend.  I daren't think about definite plans after last year's fiasco when the week before Christmas we were put in lockdown in our area.  So while we are hopefully arranging Plan A, I will definitely have Plan B at the back of my mind.  

My project for this week is to make a photo book from the pictures we took during our week in Southwold.  This is just the kind of thing I love to do and will spend hours working on it - it's almost, kind of, similar, sort of, digital scrapbooking!

Oh, to be back there again ...

... and oh how I miss our evening stroll to go and get salted caramel gelato!

Monday 11 October 2021

Saturday Sprinkles

 Have you heard of a Baby Sprinkle?  It's a bit like a Baby Shower but to celebrate the forthcoming arrival of a second baby.  The first time around you are 'showered' with gifts and baby equipment, but when you have your next baby you already have all the essential things you need so you are 'sprinkled' with clothes for the new baby and a few treats for the mum.  I had never heard of this before!  Saturday was Sophie's Baby Sprinkle -  it was less about the baby games and more about having a nice meal with all the women in the family and close girl friends.  Bearing in mind that Sophie has four sisters (not to mention one brother!) there were quite a few of us there.  

It was a lovely afternoon; a really delicious meal at a country pub, warm enough to sit outside and it was lovely to give Sophie some gifts ready for the new baby.  So her maternity leave has started and we are all now ticking off the days!  There was a mix of predictions as to the gender of the baby, but we don't have long to wait to find out now.

It looks like I will get that blanket finished on time after all as it is definitely on the homeward stretch ...

Just the border to go now.  For those thinking that it isn't much like a traditional baby blanket, that's because Jon and Sophie are not ones for dressing children in pastels or 'pink for a girl, blue for a boy' so a bright palette was always going to be the way to go!

On the subject of 'babies' - we have discovered that Coco is scared of Rachel's new puppy.  Honestly - scared!  We popped round to see them on our early morning dog walk on Sunday, stepped inside, Daisy ran up to Coco, who literally jumped out of her way.  Right over Daisy's head!  I think we are going to have to gradually introduce them on walks once Daisy has had all her inoculations.  

Here's hoping for a week of warm, dry weather - won't it be lovely if the forecasters get it right?

Thursday 7 October 2021

From Adios to Bonjour!

 For 556 days I have logged on to my Duolingo Spanish class app and completed a lesson.  Five hundred and fifty six without a break!  That is so much longer than I ever expected when I started at the beginning of our first lockdown.

But the day has come.  Actually it came yesterday, when the Preterite Tense broke me.  I wasn't even sure what it was and had to google it!  There seem to be so many irregular verbs that have different past tense endings and it all seemed not to be quite so much fun any more.  I enjoyed learning what I did, and I feel like I have achieved more than I thought I would but the time has come to say 'this isn't fun any more, I've learnt quite a lot of conversational language and never wanted to find myself at GCSE exam level'!  

But I enjoyed my daily five minutes of learning and wondered if I should brush up on my old schoolgirl French.  How much would I remember?  More to the point, how much have I forgotten?  I've taken a grading lesson and they say I can join at Unit 3, should I jump in?  Mais oui! Will I end up being better at French than I was at Spanish?  Let's find out!  

Someone else who needs practice at something came to visit yesterday.  Here's Max - hiding.

Let me know when you spot him 😂

Monday 4 October 2021

When two worlds collide

Once upon a time, I was a scrapbooker.  My spare room had boxes of papers, card, embellishments, Washi tape and all manner of random bits and pieces that might come in useful on a layout.  I subscribed to courses run by Shimelle (and 'met' a lot of lovely people along the way!) I regularly attended two crop days a month, one just outside of Colchester and the other headed in the opposite direction to Enfield.  However, space for albums ran out, enthusiasm waned and a few years later, I was an ex-scrapbooker.  I donated a fair bit of paper and card to a friend who is a childminder for crafty activities, threw away all the tiny scraps and bits and bobs which realistically were never going to be used and held on to one large box of card, paper and embellishments which were too pretty to get rid of not to mention a whole heap of alphabet letters. 

Fast forward to Wednesday last week.  My husband is 'attending' an online art class via zoom which he is really enjoying.  He finished the meeting and mentioned that their homework was to make a notebook to make sketches in.  The brief was to have a firmer card cover, with the inside pages random kinds of paper, plain, textured, patterned etc.  Sewn together to make a journal.  How was he going to tackle that?  What on earth was he going to find to use?  

"I've got just the things for that" I said as I disappeared into the utility room and rummaged through the box of things that I'd kept.  See, I knew it would come in useful again one day!

I'd like to say that I gave him a selection of papers and left him to his own devices but clearly he needed direction!  I couldn't stop myself from interfering offering advice.  I think I had as much fun doing it as he did!  

Having made the sketchbook, naturally I had to make a few suggestions about the way you could layer up vellum or tissue to tone down the pattern of the paper underneath.  The musical score printed on the paper on this page was quite distinct, but toned down nicely with a piece of tissue on top, not to mention giving an unusual texture to his drawing!

Apparently he's fine to continue on his own now and doesn't need any further help/interference.  Spoilsport!

This has added weight to the discussion onto whether or not I needed to keep all those bits and pieces in that box when I probably wasn't going to be scrapbooking again!  Never say never eh?