Tuesday 27 December 2022

What I've been reading in December

 First up this month we have The Birdcage by Eve Chase.

This story revolves around three sisters, Lauren, Kat and Flora, sharing the same father but three different mothers.  They are returning to Rock Point in Cornwall at the request of their father twenty years after their last visit.  

The first visit is in 1999 at the time of the solar eclipse.  It is obvious from the start that something awful and dramatic happened on that day which has affected them all.  To the extent that none of them have felt able to return.  The girls have grown up and moved on with their lives over the twenty years, each one very different to the others.  The descriptions of the wild coast of Cornwall and the house in which the story is located are excellent and perfectly atmospheric.  If you've ever been to the windswept, remote areas of Cornwall, you will feel immediately transported there. 

I really enjoyed this book.  The clues to what happened that day of the solar eclipse are drip fed into the story line and it was not until very close to the end that I had a sneaky suspicion about the final reveal.  In fact even when you learn about the event that happened, it is not the end of the story.  The characters have all been deeply troubled by that day and the title of the story refers not only to the painting which their (totally unfaithful and, in my opinion, unpleasant) father has painted of them but  alludes to the fact that they have all subsequently been locked away behind invisible bars which have stopped them moving on.

I've been very lax with my reading this month, I would normally read at least a chapter before I go to bed each night but I've been too tired to stick to that regime lately!  So this is the only book I have finished this month - I promise that in the new year I will be back to my normal routines.

Monday 19 December 2022

Me on Monday

 But first, let me bring you the 7 days of Snowmas

1st Day - is that snow in the air?  Oh I wonder if it will settle

2nd day - Oh that is so pretty, it's like a Winter Wonderland out there, Coco is having the time of her life

3rd day - Bit slippy on the pavements now where it's frozen overnight

4th day - OK I am not going out there unless I absolutely have to, the paths are like skating rinks

5th day - 'Only' took 20 mins to deice my car and we can't open the door from the conservatory because the snow has slipped down the roof and frozen over the gutter

6th day - Coco is still loving it but it's ridiculous that it is safer to drive than walk anywhere

7th day - Weather forecast says higher temperatures and rain is on its way - think the ducks on the lake are looking forward to it melting

So this Monday I am hoping for a proper defrost - especially as I am meeting friends for lunch in a pub which is accessed via some narrow country lanes!

The countdown to Christmas is gathering speed, with early finishes at school, pre-Christmas drinks with friends, Christmas Eve supper with R and family and then the big day will be here.

I hope that this week finds us all with time to pause and relax - it's so easy to try and fit too much into too few days isn't it?  Have a good week!

Monday 12 December 2022

Me on Monday

 It has definitely turned wintery in our corner of the world so this Monday finds me wrapped up warm!

This is the frost on the outside of our windows! Isn’t it pretty? And take a look at the view from our front door.

Feeling more festive as the days go by

Tree is up

Nativity concerts were performed 

Meals out were taken with groups of friends

The building which houses the Turkish restaurant we went to used to be the baby clinic when our children were young, it’s certainly changed since then!

Early birthday meals were had with the family on Sunday and with perfect timing look who came past just as everyone was going home!

Can you imagine the look on the children’s faces as he passed our house? 

And then just before we went to bed we noticed that it had started snowing!

And today, the birthday boy turns 65!

So this Monday sees us hoping for a celebratory lunch at a country pub with another couple then I really do think a few days of more simple, healthy meals are in order!  However all eyes are on the roads, so if they are still looking snowy and slippy I think we may have to postpone to another day!

Friday 9 December 2022

There may have been tears

 It's no secret that I am a proper softie when it comes to little children acting in a nativity concert.  Even if I don't know any of the children in the show, the minute the angels arrive dressed in their white dresses made of sheets and tinsel around their head I can feel my eyes welling up.  So you can imagine the lump in my throat last night when we went to see our grandson in his first nativity.

The restrictions of the last years are too numerous to mention, but children not being able to put on a special performance for their families at Christmas time was such a shame.  Nativity plays seem to be such a rite of passage of primary school.  So this year seemed extra special and I was looking forward to going just as much as I would have if I had tickets for a professional show.  

It can't be easy to find a way to incorporate the 120 pupils in Years 1 and 2 into one show and I am full of admiration for the teachers who managed to organise 5 and 6 year olds into 45 minutes of performance!

Of course there aren't enough characters in the traditional nativity story to cater for all those children so we were treated to Lights, Camel, Action! which also incorporated a 'Strictly Come Dancing' show from the Bethlehem Broadcasting Company (BBC).  Various characters from the nativity perform to celebrate Mary and Joseph arriving and the birth of baby Jesus.  We had the Nazareth Line Dancers, Funky Camel Dancers, Shepherds, Inkeeper and wife Tango dancers and of course the sparkly Disco Star-lets.

It wouldn't be a children's show if some of the characters didn't do a little impromptu performance, such as the compere who couldn't stop waving enthusiastically to his family in the audience while saying his lines, or the shepherd who couldn't resist doing a bit of 'keepy uppy' with his toy sheep as soon as he came on stage.  Our eyes were naturally on one of the hosts of the competition who looked very smart in his silver sequinned waistcoat and yes, there were tears in my eyes as he delivered his lines word perfect.

It's definitely made for a Feeling Festive Friday!

Monday 5 December 2022

Me on Monday

 This Monday finds me in a festive mood! What a lovely weekend we had with a trip to see the Enchanted light trail at Audley End with the family on Saturday 

And then our Zumba Christmas party on Sunday

It was a combined Christmas/Chinese New Year theme which is why my Zumba teacher is dressed in a beautiful Chinese dress!

So I’m starting the week a little step closer to Christmas celebrations, and the week holds a school Christmas concert midweek, 60th birthday celebrations with (younger) friends 😉 on Friday and early 65th family birthday celebrations for Paul on Sunday. I should probably try and eat sensibly in the beginning of the week!

We ended up having a busy decorating time at the end of last week and now have a much brighter bathroom with a bit of a Club Tropicana feel to it

This is SO different to the rest of our house! We are very much a ‘plain painted walls’ kind of home but I wanted something quite different in here and it certainly makes a change! How lucky that the shampoo and conditioner I use is a similar coral pink as the paper so can be on display in the corner.

Tasks for the week include writing and posting Christmas cards, and wrapping a few more presents, then a bit of baking for Paul's birthday - although there isn't much on the actual calendar I already know it is going to be a busy week!  After all, it's now time to get the decorations out!

Friday 2 December 2022

Let's sit and have a cup of ...

 ... mulled wine!  Let's get in the Christmas spirit on this first Friday in December!

We have friends who lived in Belgium for a while and the first December they were there we went to visit.  It was such a lovely atmosphere there, and visiting the Christmas markets in Brussels was such a lovely day out.  When you bought your mulled wine to keep your hands (and insides) warm while you were walking around, you were able to keep your cup or glass. These particular mulled wine mugs are actually from Cologne; we enjoyed the European markets so much we tried somewhere else the following year. Happy memories! 

Can you believe that we are in December?  You'll notice that we don't have our decorations up yet - family tradition dictates that we do that just before Paul's birthday so we have another week or so to wait yet.  To be honest, much as I love the decorations, I am always ready to take them down between Christmas and New Year. My one concession to early decorating is this festive ribbon wreath that I made!

Do you have particular family traditions at this time of year? It's always interesting to hear how other people organise their time.  When we went to Belgium that year we had to leave our shoes outside of our bedrooms on December 5th and in the morning Sinterklaas had left chocolate gifts for us.  That's the start of the celebrations over there.

Have you heard of the statue in Brussels called Manneken Pis?  A little boy relieving himself into a fountain.  He's pretty famous over there and is dressed up for national occasions.

As you can imagine, excitement is mounting amongst the youngsters of the family.  school Christmas fairs have been visited, Elves on the shelves have arrived, letters to Santa written and soon we will be visiting the illuminations at the Enchanted Gardens at Audley End to get in the festive mood.  My Zumba Christmas party is on Sunday which should be good fun and we have a few meals out with friends in the next couple of weeks.

This year we are all going to our daughter's for Christmas Day.  It will be the first time for years that Jon and his family will be there too.  They usually join us for Boxing Day and spend Christmas Day at his in laws but they are having a break from that routine this year.  I'm always mindful of those for whom Christmas is not a time of celebration for whatever reason - we had an awful year in 1997 when my mum died the week before Christmas Day - and I really do never take it for granted.

So that is it for this month, thank you for visiting! Next time we have a cup of tea together, it will be the New Year - can you believe it?

Thursday 1 December 2022

A sentence a day in November

 Gosh November, you seem to have arrived so quickly this year!

Day 1 Paul accompanied Leo on an evening bat walk with Beavers, but it absolutely poured with rain - all bats stayed safely dry in the trees!

Day 2 Had Olive here for the day, Paul was doing his volunteer work over the local park so we had a girly day

Day 3 Zumba in the morning and a friend popped round in the afternoon

Day 4 Went to Cambridge, lunch at Aromi, their open topped focaccia slices are deliziosa!

Day 5 Max and Olive here for a sleepover - they were so well behaved, but I got little sleep and felt worse for wear so ...

Day 6 Felt very tired after a disturbed night's sleep, not because either of them kept waking up, but because I was sleeping with Olive who is quite a wriggler in her sleep!

Day 7 Went to Bury St Edmunds with two other couples to visit and have lunch with friends who moved there three years ago.

Day 8 On the one day I decide to walk into town, there was a sudden downpour and I got drenched!  

Day 9 Olive had her 1 year vaccinations today so no childcare today - instead I went through the toys we keep here to pass on those that aren't being played with any more to a friend who is about to look after her granddaughter 2 days a week. 

Day 10 Zumba was fun and in the afternoon I spent time working on my blanket - which is very nearly finished

Look at her guilty little face, I'd only put it down for a few minutes and she was on it in a flash!

Day 11 Paul went up to London so I had a day to myself - altered the dress I have bought to wear for Christmas meals out.  Remembrance Day.

Day 12 Decided that our bathroom is in need of some TLC.  Cue searching for wallpapers, enquiries about replacement shower panel seals and new bath panels.

Day 13 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch - lovely to catch up on their news as although we see them a couple of times a week it's usually just a quick chat while handing over children.

Day 14 Tumble drier broke, the drum has fallen off the motor and the damage to the back plate looks beyond repair; as we have had it almost 15 years we decided it was time to replace and spent a lot of the day researching and comparing prices and the rest of the day wrapping birthday and Christmas presents.

Day 15 Popped into town, continued to work on a half finished blanket that I was working on using up leftover wool - took a while to work out which row I was working on!

Day 16 Had Olive here for the day, she is now confidently standing up and not so keen on sitting still for a minute - this is quite a dangerous age!

Day 17 Rain, rain, rain.  

Day 18 New tumble dryer delivered, cue mega laundry catch up!

Day 19 Sleepover for Leo and Rosie - they were so excited.  Once again, four people went to bed but only three had a good nights sleep 

Day 20 Rosie's party was such good fun, bouncy castle, ball pit, soft play and a visit from two Disney princesses, what more could a birthday girl want?

Day 21 Rosie's birthday - those four years have flown by

Day 22 Went into Saffron Walden to meet Jon, Max and Olive for coffee while Sophie had important working from home to do

Day 23 Meal out with my ex-work colleagues in the evening - such fun to meet up and share all the gossip!

Day 24 Zumba in the morning 

Day 25 Visited friends in the afternoon for a cup of tea and slice of cake

Day 26 Coco went to vets and now has a big shaved area on the top of her head, had friends over for drinks in the evening and learnt a new card game Five Crowns

Day 27 Had a quiet Sunday, wrapped some Christmas presents, popped into the school Christmas fair in the afternoon and won a bottle of prosecco in the tombola and a necklace in the raffle.

Day 28 Went to Chelmsford to get a couple of Christmas gifts, was busy enough to be festive but not too busy to cause queues in the shops

Day 29 Had my hair cut and after a pampering morning, down to earth with stripping the old wallpaper from the bathroom in the afternoon! England through to the last 16 teams in the World Cup

Day 30 Olive here for the day, wondering when she will finally be brave enough to take her first steps!

Well that month was over and done with very quickly - let's condense it all down to 1 Second Everyday!

Tuesday 29 November 2022

What I've been reading in November

 Truth be told, I started this one at the very end of October!

The Girlfriend by K L Slater

I saw this one recommended by Gail over at Is This Mutton. It sounded like the kind of mystery I would enjoy!  

Cole and his wife are preparing for their annual party when Cole takes a phone call and then rushes off.  Watching from an upstairs window their son sees him get in his car and notices that he is acting strangely.  Not long afterwards, the police arrive with the tragic news that Cole has been involved in a fatal car crash.  

Reeling from the shock of her husband's death, Jennifer is shocked to be visited by someone who claims to be the mother of his second son and who allegedly owns the family home.  In disbelief, Jennifer seeks help from the financial advisor who dealt with their accounts. Imagine her surprise when she confirms that this is true and Jennifer feels she has no alternative but to say 'yes' when the girlfriend suggests that she moves into the house and they live there together in order to give all the children a sense of stability.

An unthinkable situation eh?  Naturally things do not run smoothly and the friction in the house is unbearable.  So many secrets and lies are being hidden.  I'm giving no spoilers, you will need to read it to find out what the truth is!

Next up was Perfectly Ordinary People by Nick Alexander

Ruth and her brother are part of a close family, but although they are well acquainted with the extended family on her mother's side, they know nothing about their father's family.  After an upsetting conversation one Christmas, Ruth becomes concerned about her father's anti-semetic comments and after her Grandma Genny dies she decides to investigate why they know so little about his family.

The story is based around taped interviews between Genevieve and a journalist from a French gay magazine.  They tell of a friendship between Genevieve, Pierre and Ethel at the time of WWII in France.  The treatment of Jews in Europe is well known, but I had not realised the extent of discrimination against the gay community. 

After Ruth's grandfather on her father's side of the family dies, Genevieve's friend Ethel tries to make contact with him but he refuses to even make a telephone call.  Taking matters into her own hands, and determined to find out why her father has cut himself off from his parents, Ruth goes to visit Ethel to find out the truth.

There are so many books relating the horrors of living in this area of Europe during the war and this one has the twist of two people living a painful lie for the greater good of protecting an orphan baby.  Their situation would have been so difficult to endure and it is not until many years have passed that they are able to live the lives they desired all along.  

This was a good book, my only criticism was that I felt that some of the chapters showing the transcripts of the interviews could have been more concise.  But I guess that the premise that they were the spoken memories of a woman who had lived under unimaginable circumstances makes any ramblings and straying off subject can easily be excused! 

Monday 28 November 2022

Me on Monday

 Is it me, or are Mondays coming around much faster nowadays?

How was your week?  We had a mixed bag over the last seven days, I seemed to fare better than the other two in the family home!  

The week contained

For Paul

  • One suspicious cold followed by a negative covid test
For Coco
  • One vet visit followed by a very unusual hair style
For me
  • One meet up for coffee with Jon and the children which ended up costing me two bedtime books as well
  • One afternoon tea with friends
  • One meal out with the lovely ladies I used to work with
  • One trip to Leo and Rosie's School Christmas Fair where I won a bottle of pink prosecco in the wine tombola and a necklace in the raffle
  • One drinks evening where we learnt a new card game (shared this get together with Paul who was feeling a lot better!)
I think you can tell who had the better week!

Let me tell you about the card game which I would really recommend. It's called Five Crowns and if you are looking for something new to play, give it a whirl!  If you know the basic rules to 'rummy' then you will have no problem playing it although there is quite a distinct twist to the game as there you play with two packs of cards, there is a fifth suit (stars), jokers are wild, there are no aces or twos and in the last round you end up with 13 cards in a hand!  

So here we are again at Monday.  I'm planning to pop to Chelmsford later today to have a browse around the shops.  I feel like I'm doing ok with my shopping, we have pared down the people with whom we exchange gifts and it's made life a lot simpler!

Hair cut for me on Tuesday - hopefully not one which matches Coco's and I'm also having our oven professionally cleaned in the afternoon.  I know it is a real luxury but try as I might, I can never keep my oven completely clean so about once every three years I have it done properly and fill myself with good intentions to keep on top of it!  I love cooking so the oven gets a lot of use and it never happens. 

For those wondering, Coco has a skin tag on top of her head which she made bleed and we were worried that it was looking a bit 'dodgy' so the vet had to shave the top of her head to clean it up and check it out.  She looks a little like a medieval monk at the moment but thankfully the vet feels that all is well.

No other firm plans for the weekdays but a busy weekend with a trip to Audley End to see the Enchanted Lights and then the big Zumba dance party on Sunday. More on that next week!  

Hope you have a healthy and happy week!  

Monday 21 November 2022

Me on Monday

 Alternative title - Me on Rosie's birthday.  

How can it possibly be four years since this little lady arrived in the world?

She's certainly grown up since that photo was taken!  

I am sure we will pop and see her when she gets home from school, her party was Sunday.

Can you guess which one is our little princess?

Last week was far more expensive than we had thought it may be as our tumble drier broke quite dramatically on Monday.  The screw holes which help attach the drum to the motor distorted and then tore as the drum made a bid for freedom from the rest of the machine.  To repair would mean a whole new drum, plus possibly a new motor and as we had bought it at least 12 years ago, probably would mean that it was more expensive to keep than to replace.  So a new one was ordered, the washing built up over the week and a new one arrived on Friday. 

The weather was miserable most of the week and I have to be honest, one afternoon, I picked up the blanket I had put down when I started the gingerbread one and watched a Christmas film.  It was warm under the blanket work in progress, it was one of those 'happy ever after' films and it was a really comforting way to spend an hour or two.  It got me in the mood to decorate the house too, but tradition dictates we don't do that until the weekend closest to P's birthday so that has to wait a little while yet.

So what does this week hold?  A couple of social events - a meal out with my friends on Wednesday evening for me and then popping to see friends with Paul on Friday.  I need to go into town and get something for P's birthday.  He knows I've got him some art supplies that he chose himself but I like to get a surprise gift to go with them.

Right, time to put that new dryer to good use.  It's wet and miserable outside and there's a pile of bed linen that needs to be washed.  I hope it's better weather where you are, I've seen on Instagram that some people have already had their first fall of snow.  Please don't send that across the Atlantic just yet!

Monday 14 November 2022

Me on Monday

Drum roll please ...  I am thrilled to start this post with the news that ... It's finished!  The Christmas blanket is ready for Christmas!  I put it down for five minutes while I put dinner in the oven on Friday evening and came back to this little guilty face.

And when I didn't have the heart to tell her to get off, I went to set the table and saw she had made herself very comfortable!

I learnt a lot from this pattern, and know that I will miss being curled up beneath it while I was working on it in the evenings.  What a good job I have a half finished blanket I put aside when I started this one, so I can crack on with that now!

We started last week with a trip to our friends in Bury St Edmunds.  I always thought that sounded like it would be a long way from us but we were there in just under an hour!  It was nice to get together with our friends (along with three other couples) and I was able to have a good old nosey look round their new home. The house is only three years old and still looking very pristine, so coming back home made me realise that some rooms in ours are looking a little tired and there a few projects that we need to start thinking about in the new year. Well, I'll be thinking about them now and will drip feed my thoughts to Paul over the next few weeks ;-)

So this Monday finds me thinking that I need to wrap Rosie's birthday presents up, and buy some wrapping paper for the few Christmas presents that I have bought, otherwise my intention to wrap as I buy this year is never going to happen and I'll be caught in a wrapping frenzy the week before Christmas! 

I think I may also get organised with Christmas cards, and print address labels out.  I just looked online to see if this year's stamp design is on sale yet and realised that this one still has the Queen's profile on it.  Every now and again you see something that jogs your memory that she isn't here any more.  

It's Rosie's birthday party on Sunday so I am sure I will be roped in to help with the catering at some point over the weekend!  Not that children at birthday parties eat much do they?  So long as there is cake, they will be happy!

Hope everyone has a good week, I'm starting mine with good intentions of having a good tidy up around the house - how long will that last do you think?  

Monday 7 November 2022

Me on Monday

Just a quick post today as we are off to visit friends in Bury St Edmunds later.  They moved there three years ago after they returned from ten years living in Belgium.  This will be our first chance to pop across and see them because circumstances over the last couple of years have put paid to visits, plus they are also renovating a house in France so they are difficult to pin down when they are back in the UK!

I'm looking forward to a quieter week this week as last week ended up being very busy.  We ended the week with a trip to Cambridge - I really enjoy time spent there.  I love the variety found down every street.  From the old and historic

To the newer and slightly quirky (note the decoration made from old copper saucepans)

To the theatre welcoming in the local city population and s
tudents from the universities there (Town and Gown)

And of course lunch at our favourite Sicilian cafe.  Honestly, the flavours they get into those slices of deliciousness 

Saturday night was the night of the big sleepover.  I picked up the ring bearer and the flower girl from the venue, where Max proudly told me 'I walked down the aisle Nanny, and now I'm married.  To Daddy'. Three of us got a good night's sleep.  I, however, did not!  I was sharing a bed with Olive, who sleeps horizontally across the bed, tosses and turns and at times tries to lay on top of you.  But she stayed asleep all night so I'm counting that as a win!

So this week includes our trip to Bury St Edmunds, a short day of childminding on Wednesday as Max and Olive both have vaccination appointments at lunchtime, Zumba on Thursday and then a free day with no plans on Friday.  Let's keep an eye on the weather forecast before we plan a day out somewhere!

Do you have a busy or a quiet week on the books this week?

Friday 4 November 2022

Let's sit and have a cup of tea - November

 Image source: Canva

Hello!  Thank you for joining me again for a cup of tea on the first Friday of the month.

It hardly seems any time at all since we last met for a chat.  How are you?  I hope you're keeping well.  I've had my covid booster since I last saw you.  The only side effects were a very achy arm (made me wonder if I had developed a frozen shoulder overnight until I remembered having the jab!) and a slight headache so I am thankful for that.

I originally started this blog as a way to share crafty things so I'm going back to my roots this month to show you something I made earlier this week.  You may have heard me talk of my friend Denise who introduced me to scrapbooking, card making and crochet.  Well, the latest thing she convinced me that I needed to try was making a ribbon wreath.  She sends me photos of the ones she has made and I couldn't resist any longer and gave in and ordered a kit for myself.  I am so pleased with it, but can't decide if I should use it as a table decoration with a candle in the centre of it or to add a bow at the base of it and use it on my front door.  What do you think?

Of course, while making that my almost finished Christmas blanket was put on hold but I promise it will be ready for our next get together!

Have you started your preparations for Christmas yet?  I have bought a few presents and cards and this year I am determined to wrap as I buy so that wrapping doesn't become a huge task nearer the time.  We are planning to pop over to Cambridge later today as there are some shops that are there which aren't anywhere else nearby so I want to have an early browse.  Plus, P will be celebrating his 65th birthday at the beginning of December so I need some inspiration for that too!  

Do you have any Christmas parties or meals out planned?  I have my Zumba party very early in December, then we have a meal out with 3 other couples as a combined Christmas/birthday get together.  P is 65, my friend M is 65 and friend J is 60 so we have to celebrate all that!  There will be at least three other meals out with friends but exact dates haven't been sorted yet.  I bought a new dress to wear for all events as there will be different people at each one so I can wear the same thing each time.  I ordered it as it was too good a bargain not to get (reduced down to £24!) and I loved it on the website.  When it arrived my first thought was 'that's going back' as the fabric wasn't quite as I had imagined.  Then I tried it on and thought 'no, that's not me', then I realised I hadn't ruched the front wrap over bit correctly so it was clinging in all the wrong places 😬.  So I had a play around with the gathers and thought 'maybe'.  This morning I tried it on with natural coloured tights and sandals (yesterday I was wearing black opaque tights and slippers which really did not enhance it at all!) gathered up the front properly and I actually thought 'oh that looks nice' so guess what - it's a keeper!  But quite different to my normal style!  

Am I unusual in preferring to shop in proper shops (apart from bargain posh frocks and ribbon wreaths) to online shopping?  I try to support independent stores where I can and after having a couple of years where going out and shopping in person was either difficult or impossible, I much prefer off line shopping.  I don't use Amazon at all other than Kindle books; haven't bought anything from them since December 2021 and that was only because there was a particular toy that no where else stocked and I had no alternative.  I find that with a bit of browsing, you can always find the same thing at the same price.  I know I am in a very small minority!

Look how time has flown!  Thank you so much for popping round - same time next month?

Thursday 3 November 2022

What I've been reading in October

 I won't able to download this month's book club choice, so I started reading the one that came 2nd in the poll The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

Following an emergency in her own apartment (the roof falls in!) Rosie needs somewhere to stay, in a hurry.  Her best friend Lina is away, Rosie has a spare key to her apartment, moving there seems the most logical thing.  What Rosie doesn't realise is that Lina had already offered her apartment to her cousin Lucas while he is in town. Hard to know who is most shocked when Lucas tries to get into the apartment that night, neither were expecting anyone else to be there.

Rosie has heard about Lucas from Lina and has in fact been checking his Instagram account, developing quite the crush on him so it is a little awkward when Lucas suggests that they share the apartment until the repairs are complete and she can move back to her own.  

What Rosie hasn't told her family is that she has left her nice, secure job to pursue her dream of becoming a romantic author.  However, now she has her book deal she is reliant on coming up with a new storyline and of course now she has writers block.  Can Lucas's idea for an special experiment help her in reaching her deadline?  Can she keep her secret crush on him hidden while sharing a small apartment?

So I think we can all guess where this one is going can't we?  It was a little bit predictable but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  It was easy to read, and the chapters weren't too long so it was good for 'one chapter before I go to sleep'! 

The other book that I read was

 The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman.  This is the sequel to The Thursday Murder Club and we once again find our four elderly friends involved in solving another crime.  

It starts with Elizabeth receiving a letter from her ex-husband and so an investigation begins involving stolen diamonds, a violent criminal and a genuine threat to his life.  Naturally, Elizabeth involves her friends, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim, can they find the diamonds before the killer finds Douglas?

This was another easy read, full of engaging characters.  Having seen Richard Osman interviewed where he explained that his inspiration for the location was the home in which his own mother resides, I can now visualise exactly what the area looked like and of course, the 70+ year old residents are so well described, it is easy to get immersed in the story.  Could a group of 'innocent' elderly people get involved in killings, mobsters, drugs and stolen diamonds?  Of course they could.  After a certain age, it is easy to become invisible and for people to seriously underestimate your capabilities. Could they solve the mystery before the police.  You bet!  


Tuesday 1 November 2022

A sentence a day in October

 We started October with a gloriously warm and sunny day - autumn is such a lovely month when the weather stays dry!

Day 1 Rosie's ballet cardigan fits and she wore it to her lesson this morning - that's a relief! (watch the video to see her modelling it!)

Day 2 A quiet Sunday at home - nice to get back to crocheting my Christmas blanket, didn't feel 100% and it seems I am losing my voice

Day 3 Popped over to the toy superstore in Harlow to get a present for Olive, still a very croaky voice (covid test negative!) Leo's wobbly tooth finally came out

Day 4 Had a hairdresser appointment, doesn't it feel nice when you come home with freshly cut and styled hair?

Day 5 Had Olive here for the day - we have reached the 'dangerous' stage where she is pulling herself up on anything and everything - including dogs 😳

Day 6 Zumba in the morning, went shopping in the afternoon and bought ... some Christmas presents! 

Day 7 Paul was out all day with a friend so I had the house to myself to catch up on some crochet and watch recorded tv programmes that he doesn't like!  Went to friends for a surprise 70th birthday dinner in the evening.

Day 8 Jon, Max and Olive came for lunch as Sophie was on her sister's 'hen do', had a lovely walk in the sunshine in the afternoon

Day 9 Went to my cousin's house for Sunday lunch along with my sister and brother in law - what a treat!

Day 10 A rainy start to the day but by the afternoon the sun was out and we were able to spend time tidying up in the garden - will this be the last time we mow the lawn this year?

Day 11 Rosie and Leo here after school, that time between 3.15 pick up and getting out to drop Leo at Beavers for 5pm flies by. 

Day 12 Olive here for the day - a good excuse for us to both have a little after dinner nap!

Day 13 Zumba, then out for lunch with my author friend

Day 14 Optician's appointment, prescription unchanged so no need/excuse for a new pair of glasses! Booked my Covid booster.

Day 15 A lazy Saturday which felt just about right

Day 16 Made a photobook of the three trips away that we have had this year, it takes longer than you think!  Took Leo for his swimming lesson in the evening.

Day 17 A catching up on chores and doing some more crochet kind of day

Day 18 Popped into town to pick up some wide leg trousers I had ordered, I can't decide whether to keep them or not, I've become too used to slim leg jeans and trousers!

Day 19 Had Olive here for the day, weather was chilly but sunny so we had a lovely long trip over the park to see the ducks in the afternoon.

Day 20 Zumba was good fun, caught up with household chores in the afternoon

Day 21 Lunch out at Franco Manca - what a delicious pizza!  Babysat Max and Olive in the evening

Day 22 Lunch out at Giggling Squid (lunch out two days in a row!) Babysat Leo and Rosie, they were well behaved, their dog however was a pickle

Day 23 Sunday - just the two of us, a well earned rest

Day 24 Coco went to the vet for a check up on her heart, still within 'high normal' boundaries with another scan booked for January

Day 25 Appointment with ENT consultant, a new plan of action in place trying to avoid surgery, went to our local arts theatre in the evening to see our friend's very talented daughter ( represented Britain in the Eurovision song contest a few years ago) performing for a local charity which supports mental health in school age children.  Such a good evening.

Day 26 Olive came for the day, her last visit before she turns one!

Day 27 Zumba was fun today, as it was close to halloween we not only danced, but played a silly game which involved dancing with a balloon stuck between your legs!

Day 28 Olive's first birthday!  

Day 29 Olive's birthday party, it was lovely to see the cousins all playing together and her birthday cake was amazing, lemon and poppyseed sponge with white chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries!

Day 30 British Summertime officially ended in the early hours of today, an extra hour in bed! Had my Covid booster 

Day 31 Lunch out at our local pub with two ex-work colleagues - feeling slightly under the weather after my vaccination, bit of a headache and achy arm.

And so ends another month!  Time for the 1 second round up care of 1 Second Everyday

Monday 31 October 2022

Me on Monday


The service around here is terrible, goodness knows how long this guy has been waiting for his dinner!

When we went to my cousin's a couple of weeks ago she had a halloween theme to the day.  It wasn't until we went to sit down at the table that we all noticed there was an extra guest!

So, the last day of October!  I have a few sweets ready in case we have any trick or treaters but we haven't had any visits for the last couple of years, all the children around us have grown up now but I still like to have something ready in case someone turns up.  Fortunately they are sweets that I like so they won't go to waste 😉

This Monday finds me having lunch out with friends that I used to work with which will be lovely.  Handy too as P is out this evening with our son, they are going to Cambridge to see a band they both like and it has been suggested (by our son) that it might be nice to have something to eat together before the concert.  I wonder who will end up paying ... 

A busy week is on the cards, I'm slightly worried about people nearby letting off early Bonfire Night fireworks.  Coco was terrified last year and now we know she has a slight heart murmur I want to keep her as calm as we can.  The vet has given us something to help with the anxiety - I hope it works as I know that there will definitely be fireworks on November 5th.  We are deliberately not planning to leave her on her own at all over the weekend.

Oh goodness. November 5th.  That's also the date of the wedding of our daughter in law's sister and we have been drafted in to collect Max and Olive from the venue just before the grown ups sit down for dinner and bring them back here to stay overnight.  Wish us luck!  Olive has never stayed anywhere overnight without her mum and dad before, I'm hoping she doesn't wake in the early hours wanting her mum!

The week should have ended with me having my Covid booster.  However, after lunch on Sunday I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw that there was a walk in clinic at a local community centre.  Someone had commented that there was only a short wait so instead of sitting down and having an after dinner coffee, I got in the car and went to see what the situation was.  Five minutes after arriving, I had been jabbed and walking back to the car - what a great service.  So that's me, done and dusted for a while! It feels as if we've had more vaccinations in the last year than in the last ten years - but how lucky we are to have had the covid vaccinations available so soon and so easily. 

The clocks went back yesterday and that will mean darker evenings from now on, a true sign that we are getting ready to move from autumn to winter.  With that in mind, I feel like I should be starting to make one of my many pre-Christmas lists and maybe even buy some cards!  Have you started any Christmas preparations yet?  We have our Zumba Christmas party at the very beginning of December and she has suggested a combined Christmas/Chinese New Year theme - yes I thought it was a bit odd too!  Any ideas for what I can wear that fits the Chinese theme without buying something I will never wear again?  I have sent away for a Chinese fan from Ebay so I feel that whatever I wear, I do have a slight nod to the theme!  Any ideas very welcome!

Friday 28 October 2022


 On Tuesday we went to our local arts theatre to see a live music performance.  It was organised by a charity called Retune

Retune was founded by a guy who was at school with our son and once a month they organise a performance by musicians at a local venue.  This month the guest appearance was the daughter of a close friend, we know her as Susanna but you may have heard of her as Surie, Great Britain's singer for Eurovision a few years ago.  

Excuse the quality of the photo, it was a dark room, I didn't want to have to use flash which may distract her but I did want to have a picture memory for my 1 Second Everyday!

Retune is a wonderful charity aimed primarily at helping the well being of young children who may be experiencing mental health issues.  Tom, the founder, was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in his early 20s.  While in hospital he noticed how people were being helped with their mental health issues through creative outlets.  He likens how an instrument is retuned to play better to retuning the way you think about mental health issues.  Small adjustments can result in larger improvements to the way you think or act.  

The charity works mostly with schools with the hope that if you catch a possible problem early on, you can give the children (and parents) a coping mechanism and show the children that it is ok to not be ok, you don't have to hide your feelings away.  

It was a really lovely evening, the music was great and it was good to support such a worthwhile cause.

Monday 24 October 2022

Me on Monday

 Let's start the week with a photo that I took when we were visiting a craft centre in the Cotswolds

Caption says 'Boris - Oh Dear'

All I'm saying is that I am hoping that the speculation in the papers this weekend doesn't come to anything.  

No babysitting in the diary this week!  We used the fact that we were not going to be able to cook much in the evenings on the days we were looking after the grandchildren as an excuse to have lunch out - two days in a row!  A delicious Franco Manco pizza on Friday and a Giggling Squid Thai tapas lunch on Saturday.  

So what is on the agenda for this week?  An appointment with an ENT consultant which I'm not looking forward to.  Not because of what he's likely to do but more the prospect of more invasive treatment for nasal polyps.  

On the social front we are going to a local venue to see our friend's daughter perform.  You will possibly have heard of her - she represented Britain in Eurovision a few years ago under the name 'Surie'.  She's performing alongside two other local performers, one of which went to school with our son.  Always good to support local talent.

Then a meal out with friends on Friday evening to round off the week before birthday celebrations for Olive on Saturday - where oh where has that year gone?  In that time she has seen two monarchs and three prime ministers!  

We had torrential rain and thunderstorms over the weekend but have woken to a bright but breezy day - my plan to tidy up the front garden today may be able to go ahead after all.  What's in your diary for the week ahead?

Monday 17 October 2022

Me on Monday

 Wow, these Mondays come around very quickly don't they?  

Last week panned out pretty much as expected.  I had a lovely lunch out with my author friend at this farm shop

Calling it a farm shop really doesn't do it justice - it has lots of lovely original gift outlets inside, they really champion local businesses.  It's in the middle of nowhere yet the cafe there is so popular you always have to book in advance and while we were there I saw three 'walk ins' having to be turned away.  Yet when I've met friends for lunch in town recently we have often been almost the only ones there. I guess that proves just how good the reputation is for the farm shop.  Look how many pumpkins they had for sale outside!

My opticians appointment went well and I was pleased to be told that I didn't need a new prescription so no extra expense of new glasses.  Opticians are so 'high tech' nowadays aren't they?  It's so reassuring to know that all is healthy inside and out by seeing the scans of the retina.  A far cry from the first eye test I had where it was just a matter of wearing those odd metal 'glasses' while the optician put in and took away different strengths of lenses!  

So this weekend I spent a silly amount of time making a photo book for the trips away we had this year.  I like to make them every year as although it is lovely to have all the photos on the computer, there is something about pulling a book out of the bookcase and looking through an album.  I feel like a little of the old scrapbooker is coming out in me while I'm doing it, at a bit of a stretch could you call it digital scrapbooking without the journalling?

This week involves quite a lot of babysitting - bad planning on my part!  It is our daughter in law's birthday on Wednesday and I said to our son that if he wanted to take her out for a meal I would be happy to babysit.  I was thinking that it would be a midweek meal on her actual birthday.   I had then agreed to babysit for our daughter on the Saturday as they were having a take away meal with some new neighbours that they have befriended.  Then our son told me that he wanted to take S to a wine shop in Saffron Walden which opens sometimes as a restaurant in the evening or lunchtime.  Guess what? Because of private bookings, this coming week they are only opening as a restaurant to the public on Friday evening.  So we have two evenings of babysitting back to back instead of having two days between the Wednesday and Saturday evenings!  Hey ho!

There's not much on the calendar this week for me but those kind of 'quiet' weeks often end up being just as busy as the other ones.  What do you have planned for this week?