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?

Wednesday 12 October 2022

What does your shopping list say about you?

 I'm sure we all make them.  Some on old scraps of paper or backs of an envelope, some on a pad specifically entitled 'Shopping List' that is attached to the fridge by a magnet.  What clues about you and your lifestyle are given away by an innocent little list?

This was something that intrigued one of my ex work colleagues when she found random shopping lists left behind in shopping trollies or dropped by the exit of a supermarket.  She started collecting them and wondered about the people who had written them.  Lucy now has an exhibition of over 200 shopping lists at The Museum of Brands, based in Notting Hill, London.  She has been interviewed in The Guardian, where they noticed that we all have trouble remembering the correct spelling of avocado!

How do you write yours?  Mine evolve in two stages.  There's the pad hanging on the side of the fridge where Paul and I write things down as we run out of things or if we notice something is running low. Then once a week I make a second list and I rewrite things in the order of the aisles in the shop.  This obviously changes depending on which shop I choose for my weekly shop because the pasta aisle in Waitrose and Tesco is right at the beginning of the shop, but is much further down in Sainsbury's!  Obviously this second list is in much neater handwriting than the first one.  Sometimes even I struggle with working out what has been scribbled on the first one.  I try and think ahead to the next few days and what we are planning to cook and add the ingredients.  So those things that I know I won't be cooking straight away will often have a date by the side of them, to let me know what 'use by' date I should be looking for.

When we used to do shopping for Paul's mum she was absolutely specific about the brands that she wanted. Or more to the point, the ones she didn't want!  Mr Kipling's cakes were a favourite and woe betide you if they didn't have cherry bakewells on the shelves that week and you buy an alternative.  Once I did buy her Tesco own brand and she was not happy.  I didn't make that mistake again!  Sometimes she would just ask for a particular brand.  No clue to what product she wanted, but if her list said 'Sarsons' we knew it meant vinegar! 

I bet my mum's shopping lists were very different to those that I make nowadays.  Some ingredients that I use regularly would never have been bought when I was a child.  Aubergines?  Sweet potato?  Avocado?  We had a wonderful fruit and veg shop locally but I don't ever remember seeing anything like that for sale then.  

It starts to make you think about things that would have been regularly bought when you were a child that aren't on your shopping lists now.  I bet Lucy's exhibition is quite an eye opener!


Monday 10 October 2022

Me on Monday

Last week I was concerned for my friend in Florida, and we were all greatly relieved to hear that their house had survived intact, with minor outside damage and no water had come inside.  However, it will be a while before they can return to live there properly.  The road linking them to the mainland has now been rebuilt but life is far from normal there.  There is no electricity and only two hours of water a day.  My friend has managed to get a generator and has returned to start clearing the debris from around the house and repair the damage they had.  Others were not so lucky, they eye of the storm ran through the island and much has been destroyed.  

Meanwhile, this side of the ocean life was much calmer.  I had an appointment at the hairdressers - doesn't it boost your mood having a bit of pampering?  I think the best part of the process is the head massage at the end of the shampooing and conditioning, I could easily go to sleep!

We managed to keep our friend's surprise birthday dinner a secret and had a lovely evening.  Isn't it a treat to have someone else cooking dinner for you?  We were doubly lucky in that respect as we were invited, along with my sister and brother in law, to my cousin's house for Sunday lunch.  Her partner is an excellent cook and through his work has lots of contacts in the catering industry so the meals there are always absolutely restaurant quality.  Healthy eating starts today ;-)

Jon, Max and Olive came here for lunch on Saturday as Sophie was at her sister's hen weekend in Bath.  They seem to have reached an age where there are suddenly a lot of weddings and baby showers!  We had a nice walk in the afternoon with Max scuffing his way through any piles of leaves that he could find and picking up conkers.  I hadn't realised how discerning he was over the shape, size and condition of a conker.  Quite a few were discarded as being 'too yucky'.  Who knew?

 So what does this week hold?  I think I need to dedicate some time to tidying up the garden, maybe putting covers over the outside furniture.  I'm meeting my author friend on Thursday for lunch which I am really looking forward to.  Then an optician appointment on Friday.  Not to mention my regular childcare and Zumba class.  

But let me leave you with a question which is a topic of much debate around here.  Now that autumn has definitely arrived, and daily temperatures have dropped, it seems that most people I know have resorted to turning their heating back on.  But here's the question.  On what temperature do you have your thermostat set?  Paul and I disagree on this matter, with me wanting it turned up higher than him (he is of the 'put a warmer sweater on' frame of mind!) but at the moment we have it set on 18 degrees.  I can assure you that will increase when temperatures drop lower!  In mid winter we normally have it on 20.  Unless P is out for the evening when it may 'accidentally' get put up to 22 😉  

Friday 7 October 2022

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

 Thanks for joining me again for a cuppa on the first Friday of the month!  I thought we'd meet up at my favourite coffee shop in Saffron Walden.

I also thought it would be nice for us to have a lovely warm, freshly baked scone.  Tell me - how do you pronounce 'scone'?  Are you scone as in 'gone' or scone as in 'bone'?  We're scone as in 'gone' here.  And it will always be jam before cream when layering up!  When I'm baking I still use my Mum's scone recipe, and she always maintained that the sign of a good scone is that there will be a natural break in the side so that you can pull the scone in half rather than slice it with a knife.  I'm happy to report that these scones both have that natural break!  It felt appropriate to order something traditionally British this month after the national events in the weeks leading up to our get together.

Did you enjoy walking through Saffron Walden to get here?  The market here is good and I like to stock up on the fresh fruit and vegetables whenever we come.  Did you see the bakery stall too?  My goodness, the size of their croissants!  I really recommend their bread.  I may browse round the plant stall after our coffee, I could with a few things to plant up for a bit of winter colour in our patio pots.  On our way back to the car park maybe we will pop into Hill St Chocolate to pick up some of their chocolate shapes.  They are a little expensive but worth every penny!  They are handmade on the premises - mustn't it be wonderful to work there?

Autumn has really arrived since our last get together and I love how the colours of the trees are changing.  There's an old superstition that says that if you leave a conker in a room you won't get spiders.  Well it isn't true!  We always pick up conkers on our walks and so there are always one or two on the hall table but honestly, you should see the size of the spider that we had to evict at the weekend!  Not one of those with skinny legs, a big black 'proper' spider.  No matter how big they are though, I'd never kill one, I have to either a) call for Paul to deal with it b) place a glass over it so it is trapped and Paul can deal with it later or c) get a big duster to drop over it and quickly scoop it up and drop it outside.  

It's been lovely to see you - shall we do it all again on the first Friday of November?  I don't know which route you took to get here, but if your journey home takes you past Audley End it's worth checking out the colours of the foliage in their grounds.  Oh, and don't forget to buy some chocolate and croissants on your way back to the car park!

Tuesday 4 October 2022

A sentence a day in September

 When we started the month of September, we could have never imagined how dramatic or historic the month would become.

Day 1 Zumba in the morning, started to pack for our weekend away in the afternoon

Day 2 Left for our weekend in Burford - very impressed with our home for the weekend

Day 3 Visited Bourton on the Water and Batsford Arboretum, everywhere is just so pretty around here

Day 4 Visited Lower Slaughter and explored more of the village where we are staying (Burford) 

Day 5 Visited our friends who moved near to Oxford six years ago, coincidentally two other friends were visiting her too, one who emigrated to Australia 18 years ago and the other who moved to Devon almost seven years ago, it was quite a reunion!

Day 6 Our 42nd wedding anniversary - had Rosie here after her hour introduction to nursery and later on I had a consultation with my ENT consultant. Liz Truss became our Prime Minister

Day 7 First time having Olive for the day - it coincided with the arrival of her second large front tooth which didn't bode well but the day went surprisingly smoothly and happily!

Day 8 Queen Elizabeth II died this afternoon.

Day 9 Things feel very subdued today - started to crochet my next blanket which has a Christmas feel to it

Day 10 Charles was appointed as King, it really felt like we were watching history unfold as we viewed the ceremony on tv

Day 11 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch

Day 12 Went to a garden centre to buy some winter flowering plants to put in pots

Day 13 Our childminding day of looking after Rosie and Leo, the last one for having Rosie in the morning, nursery school starts properly tomorrow!

Day 14 Olive was here for the day, she's starting to get more adventurous exploring our house

Day 15 I was dreading today as I had a dentist appointment to have a filling in my wisdom tooth but it actually wasn't bad at all!

Day 16 We were supposed to have friends over in the afternoon but I woke at 3am with gastroenteritis and we had to cancel.  I felt so ill, spent most of the day either in bed trying to keep warm or asleep on the sofa

Day 17 Felt better today, taking it easy and gradually reintroducing food (cautiously!)

Day 18 Paul did a stint of volunteer work at our local hospital helping coordinate people who had been called for their next round of Covid boosters - at the end they had some left over, so he ended up getting an early booster himself!

Day 19 The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II - such wonderful ceremony and pageantry.

Day 20 Our first Tuesday where we didn't have Rosie all day - it seemed very strange! Started knitting her a cardigan to wear to ballet

Day 21 Had Olive here today, she was in a very cheerful mood and we had a lovely walk down to see the ducks on the lake

Day 22 No Zumba today as our instructor is in Thailand on honeymoon - ashamed to say that I didn't do any alternative exercise to make up for it

Day 23 Coco to groomers today and then we had friends over for an Indian takeaway in the evening

Day 24 Jon brought the children here - Sophie is in Spain on a hen weekend and I think he wanted an extra pair of hands and some adult company!

Day 25 Went to watch Leo do the children's 2k Park Run, then a tasty cappuccino by the riverside in the autumn sunshine

Day 26 Friends came for a coffee in the morning, then we had our flu vaccinations in the afternoon

Day 27 Went to Saffron Walden in the morning - quite a novelty having a Tuesday to ourselves as we now don't have Rosie and Leo until 3.15

Day 28 Had Olive here and had a lovely day 

Day 29 Worried about my friend and her husband, they live on Pine Island, Florida and the eye of the hurricane passed over the island.  They have evacuated but the island is now cut off from the mainland so they can't return to find out what damage has been caused.

Day 30 Rosie's ballet cardigan is finished!  Let's hope it fits ...

These months are going past so fast, I can't believe it's already time to share my days from the 1 Second Everyday app


Monday 3 October 2022

Me on Monday

 This Monday finds me moving summer t shirts to the back of the drawer and wearing thicker clothing because October has arrived, and with it has come lower temperatures.  The heating went on (just for an hour, three times a day) on Wednesday last week even though I was trying to hold on until the weekend.  We had Olive here for the day and it just seemed a bit chilly for her - my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

This Monday also finds me feeling anxious for my friend who lives in Bokeelia, a town on Pine Island, Florida.  I'm sure you have seen on the news that Hurricane Ian hit the west coast of Florida at the end of last week.  So often I've seen news reports like that and wondered how on earth communities rebuild in the aftermath, but this time it feels more personal.  My friend evacuated to an area inland so thankfully is safe and well.  But she lived on Pine Island which is/was connected to the mainland by one long road - that road has now gone.  You can see the damage here.

She has been told by a neighbour who did not evacuate that her house structure is safe, roof intact and no broken windows which is a huge relief.  But until they can get over to the island there is no way of knowing what water damage there may be inside.  They are hoping to be able to get over by boat to assess the situation but as you can imagine, that is not easy to arrange.  Even so, who knows how long it will be before that road linking them to the mainland will be rebuilt?  How long before the community can start to clear the debris?  There is still no safe running water over there and electricity supply is restricted.  I can't imagine how long it will be before they can return long term, or what they will do in the meantime.  So sad. 

Doesn't it make you realise how much of normal life we take for granted?  While all that is going on across the ocean, our plans for the week are thankfully normal.  Usual childcare duties, a trip to a toy shop to find a birthday present for Olive (how can it possibly be time for her to have her 1st birthday?) A hair cut, Zumba, a surprise 70th birthday dinner (yes we did manage to keep the secret last week!) and a family get together on Sunday with my sister and cousin.  With Rosie's ballet cardigan finished (and thankfully fitting beautifully!) I have picked up my crochet hook again and am resuming the work on my Christmas blanket. It's lovely to have a project that you can put down and pick up again.  

Do you have a busy week planned?  What is your autumn routine looking like?

Saturday 1 October 2022

What I've been reading in September

I enjoyed all three of the books that I read in September and happy to recommend them all!

My first book of the month was Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis which was recommended by Ruth in her August edition of 'For the love of books'

It is the story of Noelle and Sam, who think that they first meet on a grid locked motorway after a sudden snow storm.  A chance encounter when their cars pull up next to each other in a traffic jam and Noelle is desperate to charge her phone to get a message to her mother.  The traffic begins to move, she goes back to her own car and they go their separate ways.

Yet those ways do not stay separate but see them cross paths in many different situations as the year moves on.  Are they accidental meetings or is fate stepping in to keep them together?  

I really enjoyed this book, and thought the way that the author found ways to keep them connecting with one another very clever and I was surprised to learn of the real first time that they met. The book starts with an ancient Chinese proverb that an invisible red thread connects those destined to meet ... the thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break; this definitely sets the tone of the book.


My second book actually came second in the book club voting.  Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

Can you imagine seeing your son kill someone?  You don't know who it is, and you can't imagine what prompted him to do it.  It is so totally out of character and yet it must have happened as you saw it with your own eyes.

Now imagine waking up the next day and finding yourself back in time to the day before the murder.  And the next day, further back from that.  A constant going back in time as the pieces slowly fit together.  Will there come a point where you can change the past to stop your son in the future?

Well, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!  It really made you realise that in dwelling on what appears to be the big things going on in your life at the time, you miss out on the smaller things.  It could be that the smaller things are not as small as you think!  Every time I finished a chapter I thought, 'ok, I think I know where this is going' and then I'd read another and realise that I was quite possibly very wrong.  Trust me when I say that when you finish the final chapter, your opinion of almost every character in the book has been changed from when you met them at the beginning!

And finally, The Wedding Party by Cathy Kelly

The four Robicheaux sisters have returned to the home where they grew up to attend the second wedding on their parents.  Having divorced years before due to Stu's drinking and gambling, he appears to have turned over a new leaf and Meg is willing to give marriage to a second chance.  The daughters are not particularly happy, and suspect that their father may have fallen off the wagon but agree to attend, even though they have only one week to prepare everything.

Indy, a midwife, is used to stressful situations but keeping everyone calm may be more difficult at home than at work.

Eden is at the beginning of a political career and really has more on her mind than a second wedding, especially as a skeleton from her past is threatening to make itself known.

Savannah, Eden's twin, appears to have the perfect life - appearances can be deceptive.

Rory lives with her lovely girlfriend but is concerned that the family may not be happy when they discover that she has based her forthcoming novel on their childhood.

This was a nice easy read, I liked all the characters (except Savannah's husband, but then, no one liked Savannah's husband!) and I was happy with the way the author ended the story.  It was a good way to end a month's reading.