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