Monday 30 January 2023

What I’ve been reading in January

The last Monday in January. Sun is rising at 7.44am and setting at 4.44pm - I am more than ready to come out of hibernation! Look how pretty sunset was last night.

Some days it’s harder than others to feel motivated, but the time has been right this month to hunker down with a cup of tea in the afternoon and enjoy some reading time.

The book club choice for January was this

Now, it isn't the book I voted for and I don't think it's one that I would have chosen for myself if I saw it in a book store.  But as soon as I started reading it I was hooked.  I mean, Chester Wheeler is a cantankerous, rude man so it's not as if the main character is appealing.  In fact, he's such a nasty old man that his daughter is finding it impossible to find someone to come and care for him.  The agency staff cannot find anyone who will stay after a few days and in desperation she asks his neighbour, Lewis, if he will keep an eye on him.  Chester has terminal cancer and so it is obvious that this is not a long term arrangement.  Finding himself unemployed and unexpectedly single, Lewis reluctantly accepts the job.  There is a great vulnerability to Chester and as the story unfolds you can understand a little about what has made him so bitter and beneath his bitter exterior is a lonely, scared, confused elderly man.  Once they have got to know one another, Chester reveals that he has one wish.  To go on a road trip to see his ex-wife who he hasn't seen for over thirty years.  Lewis feels he cannot deny a dying man one request so they head off across America to make a last journey.  

I won't say any more as I don't want to put out any spoilers in case you choose to read this too but suffice it to say, Lewis returns from the trip with a new found understanding and attitude to which direction his future may go.

The second book I read was A Wedding in Provence by Katie Fforde

 I nearly didn't download this, as I associate the author with 'chick lit' which isn't my favourite genre of literature.  But I fancied something light to read and this definitely ticked that box.  

Alexandra has recently completed a cooking course and has returned home to fill in some time before heading off to a finishing school where her relatives believe she will learn all the skills she needs for the future.  Alexandra has other ideas though and finds herself applying for the job of nanny to three children in Provence.  This is no ordinary nanny job though, her employer is a French Count, and the children live in his chateau in Provence.

This was a nice, light, 'happy ever after' read and although a little predictable, I enjoyed the story.

The other book that I have read is one which hasn't been published yet so I can't really say much about it I'm afraid.  My friend Dani is an author and always sends me her latest book before it goes for its final edit at the publishers. So my lips have to be sealed but all I will say is that I think this is going be be a popular book once it is released! I will tell you more when I can!

I have my fingers crossed that this week will see us with fine weather so we can really tidy up the garden. I can’t wait to see a bit of colour out there. I am definitely impatient for spring to arrive!

Friday 27 January 2023


 So tell me, 

What's been on your calendar this month?  My month started off with a pretty blank canvas, very little socialising going on.  But thankfully as the month unfolded, the calendar gradually filled.  So what have I been doing?  Well

Watching, listening and reading

TV Happy Valley, Firefly Lane, Amanda Holden and Alan Carr's Italian job (which has made us seriously consider Sicily as our holiday destination this year!)

Podcasts - Jane Garvey and Fi Glover "Off record" is still one of my regular ones but I'm still not sure if I enjoy it quite as much as their old podcast "Fortunately"

Books - So Long Chester Wheeler.  I'll be writing a little more about this in a future post.  It was our online book club choice and I read it very quickly as I couldn't put it down!  After that I read a book which won't be available to the public until next year.  My friend Dani is an author and she always lets me read her latest book before it goes in for its final edit. Again, this was a storyline which had me hooked from the very beginning.  It a shame that I can't share the story with you as it is isn't even close to publication yet but I promise that nearer the time I will tell you more.  Spoiler alert - it's good!


We don't need any more blankets.  We have more than enough blankets. When there was a new 'Crochet Along' on the Coastal Crochet website I resisted, I even encouraged my friend to do it.  I definitely wasn't going to make it {you already know where this is going don't you?} Then I started to see people posting their versions of it on the group Facebook page.  Then my friend finished hers and said she enjoyed it so much she was going to make another for her sister.  I weakened.  I saw a picture of one that someone had done in dark blues, greens and pinks.  It would look perfect in my lounge.  I had some left over pink wool that I could use.  I would only need to order 3 other colours.  It would cost hardly anything to make. I'll be putting away my Christmas blanket so it really wasn't going to be another blanket, it would just be replacing that one.  So anyway, this is how far I've got ... 


Six sessions of picking up Leo and Rosie from school and giving them their tea

Three days of looking after Olive

One evening of babysitting coming up at the weekend too!

Playing with words

I've found a new word game.  It's called Wordiply and it really makes you think.  You are given three letters that you have as a starter word and you have to find the longest word that includes those letters. You have five goes.  The other day the letters were ANT and I thought I had done well to come up with 'fantasmorgorical'.  Sixteen letters, but two letters short of their longest which was 'transubstantiation'.  I do like to start the day with a word game to get my brain working!


Zumba started again after the Christmas break.  Although I try and convince myself that dog walking is a good exercise, it just isn't the same as doing an exercise class.  The bathroom scales are clearly not working properly as the numbers had gone up too high 😉  I'm sure it couldn't have anything to do with our pre Christmas socialising ... can it? Anyhow, I attended four sessions of Zumba this month and thoroughly enjoyed every one.

Haircut and colour for me

Of course the day that I had a hairdresser's appointment booked was also a windy and rainy day.  Which means a 'putting up your coat hood and sprinting back to the car' mission to try and come home looking more presentable than when you left!  After spending a decent amount of money on two hours pampering you want to look neat and tidy for more than five minutes.

Just a haircut for Coco

We ended last year with concerns about Coco.  She had made the top of her head bleed and it didn't seem to want to heal.  Well, to be fair she was a little rascal and kept opening up the wound.  When she's excited after a walk she will come in, roll around on her back and rub her head on the floor.  If you have a dog, you will know what I mean!  I was convinced that she had disturbed the skin so much that it had turned black which could only mean that gangrene was setting in.  (Dramatic?  Over reacting?  Moi?) So back to the vets she went where they cleaned it all up, and reassured us that the 'gangrene' was in fact a scab of blood which, when removed, showed that the skin was nicely pink underneath.  


The 20th January marked another year without my dad in my life.  Even though 35 years have passed since he died, when I see that date on the calendar I always feel sad to think of all the things that he has missed over the years. 

On the 31st January it will be the anniversary of me passing my driving test.  Forty seven years ago 😳 I remember that we woke up to snow that morning and my instructor called to say we would go to the test centre but he doubted the test would take place.  How wrong could he be?  Maybe I wasn't nervous because I thought it wasn't going to happen but anyway - I passed first time! 


This was more on Paul's calendar than mine (partly due to the fact that it was pouring with rain on the day it was scheduled) Our local climate action group has organised for a community orchard to be planted on our northern parkland.  

Several local groups have been involved including the local school, Leo's Beavers group and the volunteers of the southern country park.  So on Saturday they planted over 30 trees to attract pollinating insects and over the years, hopefully have a community orchard that everyone can enjoy.

Socialising with friends

We had friends over for tea and cake - I love baking cakes so having people over is a great excuse to get the mixer out; coffee and walnut sponge this time.

The other time that we socialised I fancied doing a dinner with a theme and as it was Chinese New Year we invited friends over for dinner.  I wasn't ambitious enough to cook a Chinese meal myself, especially when there is a take-away Chinese restaurant about 5 minutes away from us!  

You'll notice that I didn't provide knives and forks - it was chopsticks for everyone! {although knives and forks replaced them quite early in the meal}

So that was my January so far.  Would you like to see how it looked in a video of 1 Second Everyday ?

This post is part of a theme organised by the other Deb at the other Deb's World.  Please click on the link, and pop over to read her blog and see how life was this month on the other side of the globe!



Monday 23 January 2023


 Again? How can it possibly be Monday again? Did you celebrate the Chinese New Year?  We had friends over and had a Chinese takeaway meal - it was delicious.  We are now in the year of the Rabbit which apparently symbolises peaceful and patient energy.  I think we could all benefit from some of that - I know that, for me, patience isn't my greatest quality!

How’s the weather where you are? We are still in freezing temperatures 

Looks like someone has had fun throwing chunks of ice onto the lake

It will be nice when I don't have to defrost my car in the mornings

Although it is very pretty out there, I'm a bit fed up with it now and would welcome a rise in temperature.

My plans for this week include research into our summer holiday - top of the possible list is Sicily.  My pile of holiday brochures is growing every time I go into town! I am yearning for some sun.  
As we are coming to the end of the first month of 2023 it is time to be getting our blog posts ready for the first 'What's Been on Your Calendar' post.  Hosted by the 'other' Deb in the Australian Deb's World, check out the details here.  I'll be joining in with this in place of my usual 'A Sentence a Day' monthly roundup.  I hope you'll consider joining in too!

Monday 16 January 2023

A week of frittering

 It feels like I frittered away most of last week.

Fritter away: to waste time or money on unimportant or unnecessary things

If I look back on the photos I took for my 1 Second Everyday last week nothing momentous springs out at me.

It feels like my time was spent doing 'not very much'.  But maybe that's what I needed.  It had been very busy over the Christmas/New Year period; I managed to catch the dreadful 'cold that wasn't covid' and that seems to have outstayed its welcome and hung on for far too long.  So maybe what I needed was to fritter away a few days.

I popped over to the churchyard where my parents' grave is to remove the wreaths we had laid over Christmas and to generally tidy up.  On my way back to the car I noticed the first daffodils in flower which definitely lifted my spirits. I then frittered away the afternoon doing some crochet while relaxing on the sofa.

The following day I had a hairdressers appointment which gave me 45 mins to fritter way reading while waiting for my highlights to develop.  The best part of any hair appointment is that gentle head massage that you get at the end of the hair wash - so relaxing.

I spent a fair part of Wednesday playing with Olive, now that was a good way to fritter away a few hours!

There was definitely no frittering going on while I was at Zumba on Thursday - exercise is neither unimportant nor unnecessary.  Goodness, the instructor put us through our paces.  I compensated for all the energy I had used up in the morning by doing some more crochet in the afternoon and watching an episode of a new-to-me series called Firefly Lane.  I frittered away a fair amount of time wondering where I had seen the person who plays Tully before I realised she had been Izzie in Greys Anatomy.  Isn't it annoying when you can't place a face?  But how satisfying when the penny drops and you remember where you know them from.

I had hoped that we may be able to go out somewhere on Friday but the weather was miserable and the inclination to leave the house diminished by the minute.  So the day was mainly spent continuing with the alteration of a dress that I have been putting off for ages.  When I bought this dress a few years ago, handkerchief hems were in fashion and I loved the way it draped and swirled around my legs as I walked.  But I had fallen out of love with it and on a whim, decided to cut off the handkerchief  parts of the hem and make it the same length all the way round.  Easier said than done when so much material is involved, but I just need to do a couple of tweaks to it now and then it will be finished and I feel like I have a new dress!  I know I'm going to wear it more this way.

This week will hopefully be more productive, we have a couple of social get togethers planned so fingers crossed!  It's Chinese New Year next weekend so I have invited friends round for dinner with a Chinese theme.  I'll be cheating with the food and getting it from a local take-away but I've bought new chopsticks for the occasion so there'll be no cheating with knives and forks!  Maybe this will be the first outing for my 'new' dress ...

Monday 9 January 2023

One Photo - Twenty Words


It still seems too early, but how pleased 
I was to see these daffodils in bloom on our walk today.

Friday 6 January 2023

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Our first Friday get together of the New Year!  How are you?  Can I offer you a biscuit to have with your tea or are you like me and trying to get back into good habits? 

It's been a busy few weeks since we last met for tea and I'm so thankful that we were able to do all the things we wanted to do despite the best efforts of the weather and the local water company to disrupt our plans.

The weather tried its hardest to spoil our plans to go out for a meal to celebrate Paul's 65th birthday.  It snowed heavily overnight but by mid morning the roads had turned to slush so with a reduced speed and careful driving we were able to get to the pub.

Then our regional water company (along with the weather) almost caused our town to have no water for Christmas Day!  After the snow and freezing temperatures at the beginning of the month, we had a sudden thaw when temperatures went from minus 10C to plus 10C.  The water pipes in our area could not cope with the sudden change and there were burst pipes everywhere.  We had no water at all for almost 24 hours the Tuesday before Christmas, then greatly reduced pressure for the rest of the week.  We even had to go to our local Community Centre to collect free bottled water as they thought it could go again at any time.  Fortunately all was fine on the day, but boy has the water company had a lot of bad press!  Some areas of town had no water at all for six days.

You'll notice that I've taken down the Christmas decorations, I'm too superstitious to leave them up past Twelfth Night so they're been down a couple of days now but I also felt they had been up long enough.  How long do you leave your decorations up? I think I will buy some flowers to make it seem more spring like, I saw tulips for sale this week and they always look bright and cheerful. 

You may also have noticed a lovely big bag of new wool and the beginnings of a new blanket on my hook.  

I missed having something crafty to make while watching tv in the evenings and saw this new pattern over at Coastal Crochet.  I'm a member of their Facebook group and kept seeing other people's interpretations and different colour combinations of the pattern, then I saw one which had used colours that would look good in my lounge and the rest, as they say, is history!  This first part is made with Tunisian Crochet and was a new technique for me to learn.  Learning new things always makes me happy!  Do remember the Christmas blanket I made?  
My friend saw someone taking orders to make one and charging ... wait for it ... £380.  Now, it is a nice blanket but I'm not sure I'd pay £380 for one!

Enough about me, how have things been for you since we last met for coffee? I'd love to hear your news!  And be sure to let me know if you want me to make you a Christmas blanket 😉

Sunday 1 January 2023

A sentence a day in December

 Not only the end of another month, but another year.  But before we start to think about 2023, let's see how the last month of 2022 went ...

Day 1 Delivered my 'Reverse Advent Calendar' of contributions to our local Food Bank, it's a charity I like to support all through the year with donations when I do my weekly shop but at Christmas it is nice to hand over 24 items that will make up a Christmas dinner for a local family

Day 2 A busy day decorating our bathroom, a good job done and dusted

Day 3 went to the Enchanted Lights Trail at Audley End in the evening

Day 4 Zumba Christmas party - had such a good time ☺️

Day 5 Wrote cards and wrapped presents

Day 6 Christmas tree is up and decorated!

Day 7 Had Olive here for the day, every week I wonder if this will be the one where she takes her first steps!

Day 8 Leo's school play 'Lights ... CAMEL ... Action!' Very proud grandparents moments.

Day 9 Meal out with friends to celebrate one 60th birthday, two nearly 65th birthdays and of course pre-Christmas get together.

Day 10 So cold this morning - busy cooking for Paul's birthday lunch tomorrow.  

Day 11 All the family here for a celebratory Sunday lunch for Paul's birthday - just as they were getting ready to go home, Father Christmas went past on his sleigh - the children's eyes nearly popped out of their heads!

Day 12 Paul's 65th - Woke up to thick snow but fortunately the roads were clear enough by lat morning for us to get to the pub we had booked for lunch out with friends

Day 13 Roads are very icy - stayed very close to home

Day 14 Although the snow is hanging about, the roads were clear enough to go and collect Olive for our day together

Day 15 Last Zumba for the year, wrapped presents in the afternoon

Day 16 Went to churchyard to lay a wreath for Christmas and the anniversary of losing my mum

Day 17 Made a fruit cake, and a tomato and chorizo dish to take with us for a sharing tapas lunch at my cousin's house tomorrow

Day 18 Lunch at my cousin's house - she has an obsession with Christmas gonks and I'm wondering just how on earth she got this one home from the shops in the car?

Day 19 It rained overnight so the snow melted and I was easily able to get to my pub lunch with my friends

Day 20 No water!  Burst pipes everywhere because the temperature went from -10C to +10C overnight, fortunately we guessed there was a problem as the pressure in the taps dropped a lot so we filled kettles and saucepans before it went completely. School closed a day early due to water cut so had Leo and Rosie here all day.

Day 21 Water is back, but pressure is low - had Olive here for the day.

Day 22 Leo and Rosie here in the afternoon while Rachel and James did their last pre-Christmas work.

Day 23 Popped over to Jon's with their presents - Max and Olive were at nursery so Jon has been able to hide them before they returned home.

Day 24 Christmas Eve - supper with Rachel and James, the children are so excited! Picked up bottled water from the Community Centre as a 'just in case' precaution, pressure is still lower than it should be

Dy 25 Christmas Day - what a lovely time we had.  So lovely to have our whole family together.

Day 26 Boxing Day - back to Rachel's again, I could get used to having someone else cooking for me every day!

Day 27 Woke up with a blocked nose and sore throat - wondered if Covid had finally found me but my test was negative

Day 28 Had a bit more energy today and don't seem to be coughing so much

Day 29 Enjoyed having a relaxing day, spent time on my jigsaw, made a batch of homemade vegetable soup  

Day 30 Feeling a bit better today, went to friends in the evening to celebrate New Year a little bit early, Coco went to vets to have her head wound checked over.

Day 31 New Years Eve - we stayed home as we were worried that people nearby would be letting off fireworks and Coco is petrified of them.

And here's the month - 1 Second Everyday!

2022 has been a year of getting back to normal in so many ways and hopefully things will stay that way 🤞 Thank you so much for visiting me during this last year, I hope you'll return for 2023!

So, I have decided to shake things up a little.  New Year, new ideas!  There is another Deb's World which is hosted by the lovely Debbie Harris who lives in Australia.  She is co-hosting 'What's Been on Your Calendar'  #WBOYC which sounds like a fun way to do a similar thing.  I do sometimes feel like my daily notes become a bit repetitive with the routines of childminding etc so this way I will be concentrating on the bigger issues!  Do you fancy joining in too?  Pop over to Deb's blog and read all about it!