Thursday, 12 May 2022

One photo - twenty words

 


Here we have rarely seen footage of the grubby cavapoo, emerging from her natural habit after digging her escape tunnel.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Me on Monday

 


We had a weekend to ourselves this week which actually made a nice change!  I am very appreciative of being able to socialise again but sometimes just need some relaxing time at home.

As it is our anniversary at the beginning of September we usually try and organise a trip away somewhere around that time and so I used Saturday afternoon to look into finding a dog friendly cottage for us to book.  I found something that looks like it will be just right, dog friendly pubs nearby, interesting walks within a reasonable distance and in the area of the UK known as the Cotswolds.  On the subject of holidays, an ex work colleague of mine was on the ITV news on Friday, being interviewed on the subject of passport applications that have gone astray.  36 hours after her interview, her 'lost in the system' passport renewal suddenly arrived in the post.  Coincidence?  18 weeks and 3 days after she sent her old passport in for renewal.  It has taken her 400 phone calls, over 50 hours on hold waiting to speak to someone, many emails, a letter to her MP and a national television interview to finally get some action.  Just weeks before she is due to go on a big family holiday to Iceland to celebrate her son finishing uni and daughter leaving school to start.  All's well that ends well!

Lots of neighbourly speculation nearby too as work started on a house just around the corner from us.  As the days have gone by it has become obvious that the work that the builders have been doing bears no resemblance to the planning permission that was granted.  The people adjacent and behind the very obtrusive extension have complained to the powers that be and the extremely large new loft conversion has suddenly been removed.  You can imagine the local gossip!

So what does this week hold?  A real mixed bag.  Normal childminding duties, Zumba is back after a week's break and we are going out for lunch with friends on Friday. Saturday we will be going to a memorial service for an old work colleague of mine who died during lockdown restrictions.  Her daughter lives in New Zealand and this is the first time she has been able to return to the UK.  It will be bittersweet but I am looking forward to sharing memories of her with her other friends and family.  

I need to also crack on with my blanket making as I seem to have ordered some more wool in preparation for a new crochet-a-long that starts in a few weeks time 😀 The existing blanket is growing nicely


It sounds like we are in for a week of warm settled weather in this area so wouldn't it be lovely if some of that crocheting could be done sitting in the sun in the garden?  Sounds like a good plan to me!

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

What I've been reading in April

 opened book on table

photo credit: Unsplash

Usually I would start the month with my online book club choice but I chose not to read the designated book this month; the book chosen was The Diamond Eye which is set in Kiev in World War 2.  Like so many other people are finding, the news from Ukraine is just too heartbreaking and at times overwhelming so in search of something easier to read and more lighthearted I downloaded The Break by Marian Keyes.

Following the loss of his father and a close friend, Amy's husband Hugh announces to her that he needs a break.  Therapy sessions and medication have not helped him, he has decided that he needs six months on his own travelling in South East Asia.  He isn't leaving her, he just needs to get away. He promises he will come back. Six months is a long time, will he be the same when he returns?  How will Amy be feeling after that much time alone?  Amy's first husband left her and she honestly believed that life with Hugh would be very different so she is in total shock by his announcement.

I haven't read anything by Marian Keyes for years but I had a feeling that this book would be just the kind of reading that I needed.  I found myself reading this with an Irish accent in my mind because I've heard Marian being interviewed so know what her voice sounds like!  

I enjoyed this book, I wasn't sure how things were going to turn out when/if Hugh returned from his six month break; I wasn't convinced it would be a 'happy ever after' ending as the book progressed.  I also went from feeling cross with Hugh for leaving to sympathising with him and not being surprised that he felt he needed to go and put some space between him and Amy.  In amongst the various threads of the book the author moves between the amusingly surprise internet vlog sensation that Amy's mother unwittingly becomes to the serious issue of the problems encountered by Irish girls who find themselves carrying an unwanted baby.  Marian Keyes seems to have a knack for mixing humour and seriousness into her books and I enjoyed dipping back into her work.

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By now it was the middle of the month and I needed another book to read so I have continued with the next in the Inspector Gamache series, The Cruellest Month.  (The fact that I was reading it in April took me straight back to A level English Literature when we studied TS Eliot's The Wasteland where he states 'April is the cruellest month ...') 


Honestly, Three Pines is a very dangerous place to live because, wouldn't you know it, there is another crime to solve there!  Is it possible to literally be scared to death? A seance in a deserted house has tragic consequences and Inspector Gamache is called to return to solve the mystery.

These books can be read as standalone novels but I am finding it interesting to read them in sequence, with each book revealing a little more about a past event in Gamache's career and also the people who have been sent to investigate and solve the case alongside him.  This part of Gamache's story takes up a lot of the last few chapters of the book and ties up many loose ends.  While I enjoyed the easy reading style of this book, I don't think I enjoyed the story line quite as much as the last ones.  It won't however put me off reading the next in the series!

So that one was finished on the very last day of the month and I have now downloaded May's book club choice which is a non fiction novel this time and it sounds like it is going to be very interesting and thought provoking.  Come back in four weeks to find out what it was!


Sunday, 1 May 2022

A sentence a day in April


Day 1 It was freezing cold, it snowed, we booked a holiday to Portugal and
 our daughter in law tested positive for Covid.  What a mixed start to the month. 

Day 2 Another cold day, walked into town with Coco in the afternoon - traffic was chaos so I'm pleased we hadn't gone by car

Day 3 Our pond is full of tadpoles - honestly there are hundreds of them!  How many will survive I wonder?

Day 4 Coco woke us up at 4am - felt tired for the rest of the day!

Day 5 Leo and Rosie here for the day, still full of holiday excitement so it was an exhausting day.

Day 6 I didn't have Max here today as his mum and dad both have covid and I didn't want to risk it in case he was a 'super spreader'!  Seemed odd having a Wednesday to myself as Paul was out doing his volunteer work over the park.

Day 7 Zumba was great fun, found out that we raised £1086 for the local hospice on our fundraising day

Day 8 Met up with an ex work colleague for a lovely 90 minute dog walk, Coco was thrilled to have such an unexpected long trip out in the afternoon, normally it is a quick half hour circuit for the 2nd walk of the day.

Day 9 Went to Saffron Walden in the morning then had friends over for dinner in the evening.

Day 10 We had Rachel and her family here for lunch, was lovely to hear all about their holiday

Day 11 A day to ourselves, we popped into town in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon, tired due to Coco waking us up at 2am to go out in the garden - Monday night again - coincidence?

Day 12 Leo and Rosie were here for the day, made gingerbread biscuits in the shape of the Easter Bunny, made a den outside and then came indoors to make Easter cards.

Day 13 Went to an evening event at our local book shop where my friend was promoting her new book and doing a book reading and signing.  

Day 14 Easter theme for Zumba today, bunny ears and everyone wearing yellow!

Day 15 Good Friday and we had everyone here for lunch - really sunny and lovely to spend the day in the garden

Day 16 Went to an arts and crafts fair in a local village, then spent the afternoon doing some gardening.

Day 17 Easter Sunday - cooked roast lamb puttansca which was delicious, there may also have been part of an Easter egg for dessert (quite a big part)

Day 18 Easter Monday and we went for a lovely dog walk through the bluebell woods in a nearby village



Day 19 Had Rosie here for the day and played hairdressers for much of the afternoon

Day 20 Max's turn to be here today, very excited to find that we don't only have tadpoles in our little nature pond, but a newt as well - Coco went to the groomers

Day 21 Missed Zumba today as I have 4 insect bites on my foot and I can't bear the thought of having a shoe rubbing on the back of my heel where the little rascal bit me

Day 22 Travelled to Amersham for our stay at The Crown Inn, fab meal at Hawkyns restaurant which is run by Atul Kocher   

Day 23 Explored more of the Chiltern area, visited Hughenden Manor which was so interesting

Day 24 Did very little!  Nice to relax and rest our weary feet after all that walking over the last couple of days.

Day 25 Went to the podiatrist to give my feet a little TLC and get them soft and pretty for when it finally becomes sandal weather! (I hate people touching my feet so this was not the relaxing experience you may be imagining)

Day 26 Rosie came for the day, she loves role playing and it is so lovely to hear her acting out scenarios with her dolls.

Day 27 Today we had Max here, his Mum is finishing her maternity leave in the next couple of months and when she returns to work Max will be going to nursery on a Wednesday and we will have his baby sister Olive instead so our Max Wednesdays are now numbered.  We will miss seeing him but will love to spend more time getting to know Olive.

Day 28 Our instructor really put us through our paces at Zumba today - at first I thought it was just me being less fit than I thought I was but at the end we were all exhausted!

Day 29 Housework in the morning and went to have drinks with friends in the evening

Day 30 What a lovely sunny day - parked my car just outside of town and walked the rest of the way to enjoy the sunshine and avoid the traffic, mowed the lawn in the afternoon as an excuse to stay out in the warm as long as possible!

Now for the roundup - 1 Second Everyday!



Monday, 25 April 2022

Me on Monday

 I mentioned before that our son and daughter in law gifted us a hotel voucher as a Christmas present, and we made our booking for last Friday.  Coco was booked into my niece's house for a couple of days and we headed off, bright and early, for the Chiltern hills.

When we were trying to decide where to go, we didn't want to go too far afield and waste our limited time away in the car so we chose Amersham, which is only about an hour and a half away.  Isn't it strange how we tend to venture further afield to discover new places and not visit places closer to home?  We based ourselves in Old Amersham at The Crown Inn.  If you've seen the film Four Weddings and a Funeral you will have already seen where we stayed as it was used as a location where Hugh Grant and Andi McDowell stayed there!

We started our exploration in West Wycombe which has close association with Sir Francis Dashwood who built the mausoleum dedicated to his family.


Quite an impressive structure!  Francis was a member of the Dilettanti Society and co founder of the Hellfire Club.  The Diettanti Society had a mysterious reputation and seemed to have an element of secrecy about it. The original club was disbanded but reformed under a different name 'The Order of the Knights of St Francis' organised by  Dashwood who arranged for the construction of a series of tunnels to be built beneath the local church and mausoleum so that they could have their meetings in complete privacy.  It was known as the Hellfire Club.

You can go into the Hellfire Caves to see where all the mysterious goings on took place and we kind of 'half explored' that.  

I'm not a lover of caves, but the entrance to them looked well lit and not too claustrophobic so I cautiously agreed to go in on the understanding that if I got spooked we would turn round and come out again!  The layout of the caves is not straightforward and you would go down a passage to be met with a choice of two directions to travel down.  Do you go left or right?  There weren't many other people around and we got about 3/4 of the way through when it seemed to get narrower, more steep, not so well lit, suddenly there was no one else in the passage we had chosen and water was dripping on my head.  I'm ashamed to say that this was my 'I need to get out now' moment!  So I've seen most of the infamous caves but not the inner sanctum!

So while I recovered from the stress we ate our picnic lunch we decided that we would stick to an afternoon of exploring open air places. We headed for Wendover Woods and enjoyed wonderful views over the Chiltern Hills.

Time to return to the hotel, have a shower and then head down the hotel restaurant, Hawkyns, which is run by Atul Kochar, a Michelin starred chef who specialises in modern Indian cuisine.  What a delicious meal!  Quite unlike any Indian meal I have had before and has possibly spoilt me for future Indian evenings with friends!  

The following day we headed up to Coombe Hills which has amazing views over the local area.  Apparently it is the highest viewpoint over the Chilterns.  Views too of Chequers, the countryside retreat that is used by every serving Prime Minister during their time in office.  

That's the house in the centre of the photo, isn't it a wonderful location?  

Next stop, Hughendon Manor. Now, those of you who follow Ruth's blog, will know that this is a favourite of hers!
 


What a beautiful house, with a fascinating history.  We have been to many National Trust properties over the years but I think that the volunteers who were available inside the house were the most knowledgeable and friendly we have ever met.  This was once the home of Benjamin Disraeli but holds a fascinating wartime history when it was used as a secret map making operation for the RAF with the codename 'Hillside', you can read more by clicking on the link.  The man in the short video is one of the volunteers who we met on our walk through the house.  

In addition to the house, there are more wonderful walks through the woods,

By then it was time to head home, having packed as much as we could into our couple of days away.  

So Monday finds me getting back to normal routine and not walking quite so many steps every day as I did over the weekend!  






Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Lucky Dip

 


Our little Easter 'bunny'

It would seem that at this moment in time I may be Leo's most favourite person ever (well apart from his mum, dad and sister!) and it's because of something that was completely out of my control!  I didn't want to go over the top with Easter eggs this year as the kids will get more than enough chocolate so I just bought them one small one, and put it in a colour yourself canvas bag with a little gift.  Olive had a egg shaped stacking toy, Max had a Spiderman in a car, Rosie had a Polly Pocket and Leo had a couple of packs of Pokemon cards.  

At 7 o'clock on Sunday I had a WhatsApp video call from an over the top excited Leo because in one of the packs was a very rare collectable card - what were the chances?  He was so happy!  Apparently they are so rare that they sell on eBay for about £350 - not that he will be parting with it any time soon, but what a lucky pack that was.

We had our Easter family day on Friday which was absolutely lovely, the sun was shining and we spent the whole afternoon outside in the garden with all the cousins playing so well together.  


Easter cake did not last long!

On Saturday we popped into a local arts and crafts fair as Paul's art teacher had some works on show in the painting exhibition.  It was in a little village out in the countryside (in the village where Jamie Oliver's parents used to own the local pub) and it was a lovely drive in the sunshine, then back to sit in the garden.

So what does this week hold?  Well, after we have our routine childminding days out of the way we are venturing away for a couple of days - shh don't tell Coco she is off on a little holiday to stay with my niece!  We aren't going that far from home but will be using the hotel voucher that J&S gave us for Christmas.  I'll share more next week but the weather forecast is looking good, there's a good restaurant attached to the hotel and hopefully we will discover some interesting places to visit in an area that we haven't explored much before.  It's been over six months since we had some time away from home so I need to dust down our overnight bags.  Having been made to stay at home for so long means that even a couple of days away feels like a big deal!

Monday, 18 April 2022

Me on Monday

 


There's something very special about walking through a bluebell wood in the spring.  Thanks to Coco for taking us somewhere different for our morning dog walk today!

Monday, 11 April 2022

Me on Monday

 It's only 9am but it's been a long day already.  Someone - Coco - decided that 2am would be a good time to go for a little stroll around the garden.  Not to do anything in particular, just a bit of a saunter around, sniffing the breeze and generally wasting precious sleep time out there.  We have no idea what prompted it, did she sense a fox out there?  Or a cat sneaking onto her territory?  A squirrel running along a fence? We will never know, but it's so hard to get back to a nice deep sleep at that time in the morning, unless you are a dog!

We'd had a busy weekend as well so could have done with an uninterrupted night!  Popped over to Saffron Walden on Saturday where they have a really good market especially the vegetable stall there. We had friends over for dinner in the evening and it's nice to stock up on good quality veggies when you have visitors.  


 We hadn't seen these friends for over a year so we had much news to catch up on, so much so that the first time any of us looked at the time it was 11.45 and they still had an hour drive to get home.  

Then on Sunday we had Rachel and her family here for lunch; it was our first chance to catch up on all the news from their holiday.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon, we were all out in the garden. Daisy was running rings round Coco, the children were inspecting the tadpoles in the pond or playing football.  It was great and it really felt that spring was on its way, but I did feel as if I'd spent a lot of time preparing food over the last 48 hours!

So this week Coco is going to be spending a few hours at my niece's house on Tuesday to see how she settles as they are going to be dog-sitting for us in a few weeks time while we have our couple of days away which was our Christmas present from J & S.  I hope she behaves herself with no 2am shenanigans then!

I have a Wednesday free again this week as Max is going to go with his mum and sister to visit friends but we will be seeing all the grandchildren together later in the week when they come for lunch on Good Friday.  I think I shall be spending today trying to decide what to cook.  I am thinking of pesto and parmesan crusted salmon as the main part of the meal but need ideas for accompaniments and desserts.  Any suggestions for me?  I'm always looking for new dishes to try!


Thursday, 7 April 2022

Progress report

 I thought I would share an update on various projects I've got on the go at the moment, just to prove I don't spend all my spare time watching the second series of Bridgerton 😉 {only because I binge watched the whole thing and have no more episodes to watch!}


The blanket made from leftover wool is now 20" square and coming along nicely.  I especially like the idea that I am making something that is costing me nothing as I'm determined not to buy any new wool to make this project.  I am loving the texture of this blanket and the instructions are so clear, it never feels as if I am out of my depth even though I am learning new stitches.  

I've also started a new project which was a present from Jon and Sophie for my birthday


I haven't done any embroidery since doing my A level textiles exam back in 1976 - how many years? 😳 but I've enjoyed starting this and remembering how much I like doing embroidery.  It's a daytime project though, my eyes aren't as good as they were 46 years ago and I don't have a daylight lamp to use in the evenings.

Also, project holiday has been finalised!  I realised that before we could decide where to go, we needed to find dog-care arrangements for Coco so that we knew when we could go.  Can you imagine how disappointed I was to discover that the lady she usually goes to is away herself for most of June and her son is home from Dubai for the whole of July?  As he hasn't been back since he got married out there 3 years ago there is a lot of relative visiting to do and she couldn't say when she would be home during his stay.  I wondered if my niece was serious when she said that she would have Coco for us if we ever wanted to go away.  Her dog died last year and they are missing canine company.  I mentioned it to my sister to ask if she thought that Kirsty was serious about her offer, when she said 'oh, can we have her here instead?'  They used to look after Kirsty's dog from time to time and I think that they too are missing having a dog around.  As I felt myself relax, it dawned on me that if she was home in the UK and free to have Coco, then she wouldn't be using her house in Portugal so I asked if we could use it and next thing you know I was booking flights!  It still feels a bit of a big deal, but I am so looking forward to it.  It is somewhere we know well and Gill was out there last month and said she felt so much safer over there than she did here so I feel a bit more confident about things.  

I guess my next project needs to be 'stop eating cakes and chocolate so I can fit into my summer clothes' 

Sunday, 3 April 2022

What I've been reading - the March edition

 

I started the month with our book club choice of 'I must betray you' by Ruth Sepetys.


I will begin by admitting that it wasn't the book I voted for and bearing in mind the troubles going on in the world at the moment I wasn't sure that I would find it easy to read.  The book follows a 17 year old student, Cristian, who lives in Bucharest, Romania in 1989.  The communist regime at the time is harsh; there are strict rules and the people live in constant fear.  Cristian is told that in order for his sick grandfather to receive medication he must become an informer.  As the story unravels it appears that there are more informers in his friends and family than he realises and he has no idea who he can trust.  The end of the story, when he discovers who has been reporting on him surprised me no end.  The book describes the revolution in Romania and ultimately the execution of the President and his wife.  It is only then that the people of Romania realised just how much hardship they had needlessly suffered and how many lies they had been told.

Reading this at the time of such awful atrocities going on enhanced the bleakness of the life Cristian was forced to live.  I learned a lot from this book and it has definitely left an impression on me.  In 1989 I was a young mum living a normal life in the UK, I had no idea how difficult things were for a family in Romania at the same time.  This is actually published as a young adult book and I believe that any young adult who reads this will be amazed at how harsh life was under a dictatorship.

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I needed a little escapism after this, so turned to the second in the Inspector Gamache series, A Fatal Grace.


We are transported back to the village of Three Pines in the midst of winter.  We meet C C de Poitiers in the first pages of the book, and first impressions are of a very self centred woman.  Her death is unusual to say the least.  She is electrocuted on a frozen lake at the annual curling tournament.  There were crowds of people there, yet no one saw how it happened.  Inspector Gamache is called upon again where he finds that C C had few friends and the list of likely suspects goes on and on.  At the same time that this is being investigated, a homeless woman, known only as Elle, is found strangled in the doorway of a shop and among her few possessions is a book of poetry signed by the author (who coincidentally lives in Three Pines) and a box containing a random collection of alphabet letters. 

What a mystery.  There was certainly no problems finding someone who may have wished her dead, and at times you wondered if the whole village was in on the act!  I'm enjoying Inspector Gamache, I like his character and his ethics in solving the mysteries and I suspect that number three in the series will soon be finding its way onto my kindle!

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The third book I have been reading is The Villa by Clare Boyd



This book concentrates on Nora, who has invited her daughters and their families to a luxury villa in France with a view to sharing a wonderful holiday before she passes on some devastating news.  She anxiously awaits the best time to tell them but is unaware that she is not the only family member with secrets to hide.  She has not been the best mother to either of her daughters and relationships between all the women are a little fragile to say the least.  

I wanted to enjoy this book, I really did, but I could not warm to any of the main characters.  Nora is completely self absorbed and I cannot see how on earth she could convince herself that telling her family what she is doing and what she had done in the past was ever in the best interests of anyone else.  I guess she felt that in sharing her secrets she was clearing her conscience. Sadly I found myself longing to get to the end. 




Friday, 1 April 2022

A sentence a day in March

 

It's always nice when March arrives; the days get longer, the sun shines now and again and of course - it's my birthday month!

Day 1 Shrove Tuesday, needless to say we all tucked into pancakes for our dinner time dessert - mine were with lemon juice and caster sugar, how do you like yours?

Day 2 Didn't feel 100% today, woke up very congested and with a bit of an earache so it took every bit of energy I had to look after Max today #earlynightforme

Day 3 Had to remember to take coin skirt, finger scarves, maracas and umbrella for Zumba today as we were being filmed (umbrella needed as a prop for a Dean Martin number 'aint that a kick in the head') yes, we cover all music tastes from Bollywood, the musicals, and the most recent chart songs!

Day 4 Met up with 16 ex-school friends for a meal, we must have talked non stop, what a great evening - I feel very blessed to have made friends for life when I was at school.

Day 5 Today my son is 32 - gosh that time flew by so fast.  He's the same age now as I was when he was born.

Day 6 A nice quiet Sunday, started a new crochet project #houseworkonpause

Day 7 It was sunny today but with a real 'bite' to the wind, even so I still managed to mow the lawn which had started to get quite long

Day 8 Rosie was here today, it was a warm sunny day and we were able to set up a picnic table for her 'babies' on the lawn.

Day 9 Max came for the day - he was in an 'I only want Nanny' kind of mood so it was kind of tiring! Coco went to the groomers
No we didn't make her sit in the middle of the road, this is a backdrop that the groomers use for photos of their customers!

Day 10 Zumba and then a hair cut so now I look as smart as Coco

Day 11 Lunch out with two ex work colleagues as a pre birthday treat


Day 12 Friends came over for drinks in the evening

Day 13 Went to Rachel's for a lovely family day - I was very spoilt.


Day 14 My birthday! Went out to lunch with Paul to my favourite Thai restaurant


Day 15 Back to normal - had Rosie here for the day, weather was glorious - both friends I had lunch with on Friday now have Covid, I tested myself but I am negative

Day 16 Our day for looking after Max - weather was horrendous with heavy rain containing weird red dust

Day 17 The sunny weather is back, Zumba in the morning, read my book in the afternoon with the sun streaming in through the conservatory windows

Day 18 Went to Saffron Walden in the morning, was gloriously sunny, had the most delicious cappuccino in a cafe there, popped over to friends in the afternoon


Day 19 Should have had friends here for dinner but one of them tested positive for Covid on Thursday.

Day 20 Rachel and her family came round for Sunday lunch, the children loved being out in the garden and Daisy went crazy running around in circles chasing them.

Day 21 Another warm sunny day - I even hung the washing out to dry on the clothes line in the garden

Day 22 Rosie was here all day and Leo in the afternoon, a friend has donated a bucket of frog spawn to us to add to our pond - there was much excitement to also find a frog!

Day 23 Max was here for the day, the outdoor toys were brought out again but his favourite was the large box we found in the garage.

Day 24 Fundraising day after Zumba for our local hospice, such a good cause, I'm hoping the grand total will be high.


Day 25 Lovely sunny day, had a pub lunch at a dog friendly pub and ate outside!

There seem to be a lot of pictures of me and food in this month's roundup!

Day 26 More sunshine, went to friends in the evening for an Indian meal

Day 27 Clocks forward an hour and it's Mother's Day!  Lunch at Jon's.


Day 28 Catching up on chores, bit of crochet, bit of reading - a nice slow day, Coco went to the vets for a check up and has put on a bit of weight #shesnottheonlyone

Day 29 A whole day to myself - Leo and Rosie are on holiday in Dubai and Paul had to take some elderly relatives to a funeral.  

Day 30 Max came for the day, made cakes and had fun icing them

Day 31 It snowed!  Just a little but the temperatures have plunged, at least I warmed up a bit after doing my Zumba class! 

Farewell to March, just time for a recap of 1 Second Everyday





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Monday, 28 March 2022

Me on Monday

 Here we are on the last week of March, a quarter of the year gone already! 

It was Mothering Sunday yesterday.  Even though I have now had 25 Mothers Days without my mum, the date is still poignant but how lucky I was to have her for the years that I did and it is the happy memories that keep you smiling.  We spent the day with our son and his family with Jon cooking a wonderful meal followed by a lovely walk around the village and then tea in the sun in the garden.  Rachel popped round to see me in the morning with some beautiful flowers and she then spent her Mother's Day jetting off to Dubai in the afternoon!


So, this Monday sees the start of a week with reduced childminding duties! I don't have too much planned for this week, the weather seems to be cooling down quite a lot with wintery showers predicted for the weekend ahead.  So that plan to go through my wardrobe and pack away the winter clothes has been put on pause!  

Getting caught up in the excitement of R's holiday has made me think that I need to give some serious thought about what we are going to do this year, first step will be arranging holiday care for Coco and then working around that!  We went to friends for an Indian meal on Saturday with another couple and they are off to Sri Lanka at the end of the week, I don't think we'll be aiming for anywhere quite so exotic, I'm still a bit unsure about the way all the health requirements keep changing.  It was stressful enough seeing it second hand through Rachel!  

Do you have plans for the summer yet?  Maybe I'll get some inspiration from you!

Friday, 25 March 2022

Coast to Coast

 We have had the most glorious week of good weather here this week (much to the dismay of friends who booked a week in Spain and have had seven days of solid rain and wind) so it seemed a bit ironic to be spending my time continuing my latest crochet project of a wooly blanket.  Hey, if it keeps the sun shining I may just keep crocheting from now until autumn!

With a view to decluttering a box of leftover wool from previous blankets I have started a pattern which I can mix and match colours and stop when I run out of wool as it is worked in a square rather than stripes.  I aim to just use leftovers for this and not buy any more wool.  Please remind me I said that as the blanket gets bigger.

The pattern is from the amazing Coastal Crochet blog.  Eleonora is the most talented designer of crochet projects and honestly, before last January I had never crocheted yet now I am the owner of three handmade blankets.  Her patterns are not only written on the blog, but when a new stitch comes up there is a brilliant youtube video to accompany it.  It makes it so easy to crochet along with her - with a lot of pausing while I make sure I am doing it correctly!  The pattern I am doing this time is called Changing Tides and the first rows represent the changing blues of the sea, with the white frilly one being the froth of the surf as the waves hit the shore revealing patches of yellow sand.


Next comes the pebbles that get washed up onto the sand


I love the texture of this stitch!


Then we have a green row which represents the plants which get washed up onto the shore, s
ee how the long stitches look like the long strands of seaweed?


Then there is a row of white foam bringing the seaweed to shore, followed by a couple of rows of waves out to sea.


I am really enjoying this project.  It's a bit of a challenge to be making something new without having to actually buy anything, plus I just love the texture and designs of the pattern.  If you've ever considered trying a new hobby but thought crochet wasn't for you, please do give it a go and head over to Coastal Crochet.  You don't have to go crazy and buy enough wool for a blanket; one hook and one ball of wool will be enough to make a little sample and then you'll know if you're going to be 'hooked' like I was!

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Quizzical

Or should that be 'Quizzicle'?  It seems that the Wordle quiz was just the tip of the iceberg.  Six attempts to find the five letter word.  The letter turns yellow if it's correct but in the wrong place and green if it's in the right place.  

Then I discovered Quordle.  Like Wordle but with four games going at the same time and you get nine attempts.  For some reason I find this easier than Wordle!  

On Thursday I saw someone mention Heardle, a musical intros quiz.  You hear snippets of the intro to a song starting with one second.  You start to type your answer in and you will get a choice of artists and/or songs.  If you get it wrong you hear a little more of the song.  Six attempts before you are timed out. 

Then I discovered Worldle.  You see the silhouette of a country and you have to guess where it is.  When you have guessed, it tells you how many miles your guessed country is from the one you are looking for and in which direction the correct one can be found.  You get five tries for this one. I am not a geographer so this one involves a lot of guesswork.  This 64 year old brain is getting a good daily workout!

The weather here has been glorious and was a good excuse for tidying up the garden.  Also cleaning windows and window cills as the storm we had on Wednesday brought with it horrible orangey coloured dust which has settled everywhere.  



I had also planned to have a good tidy up in J's old bedroom.  We have a cubed bookcase in there and my intention is to keep the grandchildren's toys neatly stacked in the cubes but in order to do that I need to empty all the stuff that J left behind.  I came across a folder in which he had all his travel documents from when he went to Tanzania in 2012.  Tucked in amongst everything I found a batch of photos of us that he had printed off and taken with him and I suddenly felt very emotional that he had done that and imagined him all those miles away possibly feeling homesick.  He had such a wonderful time over there that I doubt that actually happened but it still distracted me enough and needless to say that was the end of my tidying!

So this week sees us on our usual routine, plus the bonus of cakes after Zumba as part of the fundraising for a local hospice. The weather forecast is looking good and I'm hoping that we will be able to spend a bit more time out in the garden. After the cakes on Thursday I'll need to do a bit of extra exercise!  

 




Monday, 14 March 2022

Age is just a number

 In 1967 The Beatles released a song which is very, very appropriate for me this week.  'Will you still need me ... when I'm sixty four' I would have been nine then, and 64 would have seemed ancient - not quite so funny when you've actually reached that milestone though eh? 😆


So while today is my actual birthday, we had a lovely family day at our daughter's house on Sunday.  Just look at the amazing cake my son baked! I do love seeing the grandchildren all playing together, although not quite the 'Vera, Chuck and Dave' that the Beatles mentioned.   Max thinks Leo is hilarious and the more Max laughs, the more Leo plays to his audience.  Rosie is just longing for Olive to be old enough to play 'babies' with her!  

I started my celebrations on Friday with a meal out with friends, had friends over for drinks on Saturday, all the family together yesterday and today Paul and I are going to my favourite Thai restaurant for a Thai tapas lunch.  By this evening I think that at the grand old age of 64 I'll be ready for a nap in the armchair and an early night!

After all the excitement it will be back to business as usual for the rest of the week.  

So with the rest of the lyrics of that song in my mind, 'Will you still feed me?' I guess I had better start thinking about what I'm going to wear for my birthday lunch!

Have a good week x


Monday, 7 March 2022

Me on Monday

 Oh, what a week this has been around the world.  It's impossible to put into words how upsetting the news is at the moment isn't it?  It feels like the only way we can help is to donate money to charities who can get whatever is needed to the people who need it most.  We have donated via the Disasters Emergency Committee  but I am sure that there are many others who are helping too.  

I ended last week with a fun meal out with 16 ex-school friends - it was so lovely to see everyone again after such a long time.  We were very lucky to make life long friendships and whenever we meet up it feels like we are still sixth formers!  Of course sixth form was 45 years quite a while ago 😉

It feels like a long time since I had a crafty project on the go so I have tentatively started a new crochet blanket.  I think we can safely say that there will be little ironing done this week #anyexcuse. This one is called Changing Tides by Coastal Crochet and it wasn't until I got to row eight that I realised that I had inadvertently chosen the colours of the Ukrainian flag for the central piece.


Last week I told you about the promotional video being filmed at our Zumba class, would you like to see my 15 seconds of fame?  


Can you spot me?  Wearing a pale peach top and black crop leggings.  You can see me in the very last frame, wearing my belly dancing skirt and shaking my maracas to the song which had the misheard lyrics!  The fundraising event is in a couple of weeks time, so we will exercise for an hour and then spend the next hour eating cake - that sounds like about right doesn't it?

It was our son's birthday on Saturday and they booked to go for a couple of days to Burnham Market.  Now here's a name from the past - they were in a restaurant having dinner when Fatima Whitbread walked in.  At the time Max had become bored and was inspecting something very important under the table and she was amused and came over to ask him who he was hiding from!  

Coco and I are both having hair cuts this week and I shall be starting early birthday celebrations at the end of the week with a meal out with some ex-work colleagues (I seem to have been able to organise things for the three days leading up to the big day and then on the actual day itself) 

Have a good week x


Wednesday, 2 March 2022

What I've been reading - the February edition

 


The first book that I read this month was Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman.


I saw it mentioned on
Jo's Blog and thought it sounded good.  Fran and Will first meet when they are seven and are inseparable friends for the next eleven years when fate splits them apart.  Will's father decides to emigrate to Australia, taking his two sons with him and Fran goes to university, devastated that her best friend has disappeared from her life.  Twenty five years later they meet again in a coffee shop and rekindle their friendship.  Both have children from relationships that have broken up.  Both have secrets that they are keeping hidden.

I knew from the reviews of this book that it was going to have a mix of happy and sad moments.  From half way through it is obvious what the sad bits are going to be but that didn't stop me enjoying the story.  The title 'Before we grow old' refers to a bucket list of things the friends draw up when they are young, all the things they want to do before they get old - at that point they set an age of 'old' being forty.  No comment!

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Our book club's choice this month was The Paris Bookseller by Kerry Maher




This book is inspired by a famous Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare and Company and set in Paris in 1919 where a young American woman, Sylvia Beach, opens an English language bookshop to cater for the English speaking expatriates living in the city. The bookshop is a wonderful success and is soon 'the' place to go.  It is frequented by the popular novelists of the time who would go there to buy books and discuss literature.  Sylvia befriends James Joyce whose latest novel, Ulysses, is very controversial and no one is prepared to publish it. Sylvia takes on the challenge and publishes the book.

I hadn't realised that this was a true story until I started reading it, I thought it was fictional.  To be honest, I didn't find it easy to 'get into' at first.  People in the book club who were listening to it as an audio book seemed to enjoy it more than I did.  It was an interesting story, although at times I could not understand why Sylvia tolerated Joyce's behaviour and put so much at risk in order to support him.  It opened my eyes to the time in history when so much censorship was in place in the US and also the very different attitude of the French.

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And so to my third book, Still Life by Louise Penny.
  

 I had seen Alexa mention this series of books and thought I would investigate for myself.  I quite liked the idea of finding a series of books that I could dip in and out of and this seemed to fit the bill.  This is the first in the series that involves Chief Inspector Gamache and is set in Canada.  I'm enjoying reading books set in places other than America or the UK!  

Who would murder a well loved local artist in the village of Three Pines?  A close knit community with such a low crime rate, it has no police force of its own.  Inspector Gamache is brought in to investigate.  It's an unusual crime, the victim has been shot through the heart with an arrow.  Was it an accidental shot by someone hunting deer in the woods or something more sinister?  It was an incredibly accurate shot to have been an accident, and the arrow, which passed completely through the body, has not been found.  Just the day before, the victim had submitted a painting to be displayed at the annual fair, could there be a clue hidden in the artwork?

This book exercised my detective skills and I didn't guess who was the guilty party before it was revealed.  It was an enjoyable book and having got to know the inhabitants of Three Pines I think I will be downloading another in the series to read after our next book club choice.