Friday 30 June 2023

#WBOYC in June


Only one letter longer than May but let's see what was on my calendar in June!


Jamie Oliver! Did I mention this was a celebrity edition? 😉

Walking back to the car park in Saffron Walden a couple of weeks ago we passed a group of people standing around my favourite chocolate shop and as we drew close, we realised it was our local famous chef and a television crew! 


Unexpected time away from childcare.  The arrival of chicken pox spots on Rosie followed by Leo 10 days later meant that our normal routine of childcare was disrupted again this month.  I have honestly never seen such a bad case of CP as Leo's, poor little boy. Literally covered from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. 😢

Unfit - that's what I'm becoming!  They say that you should not exercise for about a month after having an operation on your nose (something to do with possible nose bleeds) and I hadn't realised how much I would miss my Zumba.  It's even been too hot for longer dog walks so I suspect that the first lesson back will be gruelling, especially as I will have also just have returned from holiday.


New flooring in our conservatory. We've been talking about it for at least a couple of years and we finally did it! So pleased that we have finally done it.

Nice weather means that we have been able to eat quite a few meals in the garden and when we had friends over it was lovely to spend all the time sitting on the patio.  Something that we never take for granted in the UK!

New blanket on my crochet hook.  I really need to start giving some of these blankets away!  It's a lovely hobby to have and I miss it when I finish a project but there are only so many blankets that we need.


Embarrassed to find out that what we thought was a small family get together was actually a big garden party for Paul’s cousin’s 75th birthday.  Oops. They really ought to have mentioned something on the invitation!  Fortunately we were not the only ones to think we were just attending a nice summer gathering, but it was still embarrassing.

So that was how June looked - not too much going on as I was still in recuperation mode for the beginning of the month and then it was so hot here that we didn't have the inclination to stray far from the garden.  Let's see how it looked - 1 Second Everyday

Wednesday 28 June 2023

What I’ve been reading in June

As I was confined to home for the first few weeks of the month I had a lot of time to read so there are four books to share this month.

 I heard this book being discussed on a podcast, I think it may have been Jenny Eclair on the Older and Wider podcast.  {If you are looking for a fun podcast to listen to, give it a try!} It sparked my interest so I downloaded it to my kindle.  Sun Damage by Sabine Durrant.

Sean and Ali work as a team.  They are 'con artists' operating all over the world, preying on people with money then moving onto the next scam.  Sean is obviously the driving force in the partnership, Ali has a troubled past and it seems that she is intimidated by Sean and when a con goes disastrously wrong, Ali feels she has no option but to make her escape, even though she knows that Sean will try to hunt her down.

She finds herself working as a cook for a group of friends who have rented a villa in the South of France for a holiday.  As the week unfolds Ali discovers that she is not the only one at the villa hiding a secret.

I really enjoyed this book, I guess it comes under the genre of 'psychological thriller' and I thought the author portrayed all the characters very well. There are a few twists and turns along the way and it was definitely a 'just one chapter more' kind of book!

Something very different next!  The Maid by Nita Prose.

Oh I did enjoy this book!  I loved the main character Molly and my heart went out to her as people took advantage of her innocence and good nature.

No one notices housekeeping staff in a hotel, and Molly is more than happy to quietly go about her business doing a perfect job.  Until the day that Molly discovers one of the guests dead in his bed.  Events take a dreadful turn when evidence seems to suggest that Molly had murdered him.  

Oh how I became angry when I learnt how people were implicating Molly and you could see how she had unwittingly been drawn into a dreadful scenario.  

I heartily recommend you read this!

Next I thought I would try something that didn't involve a crime!  Coming Home by Fern Britton.  

I know that she uses the area near where she lives for inspiration of the locations in her books and as the story unfolded I was taken back to family holidays in Cornwall when I was a child.  Her lovely descriptions meant that I could vividly imagine the little streets and pathways down to the sea. 

Many years ago Sennen left the small Cornish village where she had grown up seeking the man who has unknowingly fathered her two young children.  The children are brought up by their grandparents who are devastated by her disappearance and cannot understand where their mother has gone.  

Following the death of their grandmother, they return to the family home to find out the contents of her will.  Also returning to Cornwall is Sennen, who is hoping to be able to beg them for forgiveness and to try and explain how circumstances meant that she cold not return to care for them.  

It was a little predictable in places but if you want a nice warm, easy read, set by the beautiful English seaside, I think you would enjoy it.

Next up was The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley

If you've ever commuted on a train into London, you will visualise this situation very easily.  The same people in the same carriage every day, no one talking to anyone else, imagining the lives that their fellow commuters may lead.  

So we meet a random group of strangers who, as the chapters unfold, get to know each other and build friendships, all thanks to the central character Iona.  I think we could all do with an Iona in our lives - someone to nudge us in the right direction and speak up for us when needed.

This reminded me of the Chinese proverb which says that the beating of the wings of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world.  One small action can cause larger ones far away.  So when the passenger sitting opposite Iona starts to choke on a grape one day, it starts a chain reaction which links all the characters in that part of the carriage.

Again, this was easy to read, had a nice feel-good feeling and it was interesting to see how the author managed to intertwine so many different storylines.

It was a good month for sitting in the shade in the garden reading!  Four very different books and I can recommend them all.

Monday 26 June 2023

Me on a Monday

 Please don't look too closely at the pile of washing in the basket behind me - it's all clean, just waiting for ironing!  Yes there's a lot of it.  Yes I have been putting off doing it.  Yes, it has been way too hot to think about getting the iron out!  The trouble is that I've reached the pre-holiday point of thinking about what clothes to take and even if they haven't been worn since last holiday I always feel they need a quick wash to freshen them up.

So I think you can guess what one of my Monday jobs is going to be and it's one of my least favourite ones.

Last week was a hot one, and what do sensible people do on hot days?  Start crocheting a new blanket 😆

Poor old Leo had a really bad case of chicken pox from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, inside his ears and mouth.  After constantly saying 'we hope he catches it from Rosie' it was a case of 'careful what you wish for'. So our childcare was just for girls last week.  We took Olive to Pets Corner at a local park but although it was a cooler day, the animals were still hiding in the corners and in the shade.  

We had a trip to Cambridge on Friday and enjoyed walking around in the sunshine and then going to our favourite Sicilian cafe for lunch.  It's such a lovely atmosphere there and even better in the sun.

Tomorrow I have to wait in for a windscreen repair company.  Driving over to collect Olive on Wednesday a van travelling in the opposite direction caused a small stone to hit my windscreen.  Just a tiny chip in the bottom corner, probably not worth even having it looked at.  Until I went out to my car a few hours later and the small chip was now a very long crack!  Hey ho.

So what's happening this sunny Monday (apart from putting off the ironing as long as possible?) Well my friend's exhibition on shopping lists has left London and is at our local Arts Centre so I'm planning on going there.  Since she started collecting discarded lists I've been more aware of how I write mine - all those abbreviations which mean something to me but are gibberish to anyone else!  I also try and write them in the order in which I walk round the shop whereas Paul will write it by category - fruit and veg first, meats and fish next, bakery etc etc How do you write yours?  

Monday 19 June 2023

Me on Monday

 Monday again?  I must be getting older as time seems to be flying past!

We had our weekend plans scuppered, but it was a case of all's well that ends well.  As it was Father's Day on Sunday our daughter had invited us, and Jon and his family, for an afternoon of tea and cake as a grand opening of their extension and new garden.  When a WhatsApp message saying 'Sorry guys ...' came pinging in early on Sunday morning we guessed that something was not right and sure enough, within seconds the next part of the message came across '... Leo's woken up with chicken pox' What timing!  So Jon and his wife invited Paul and me to their house for a hastily rearranged lunch and then Rachel popped over to ours to see Paul later on when we were back home. 

It was our local carnival on Saturday so we popped into town to see what was going on.  It was SO hot!  Not to mention very crowded so we didn't stay long but I know how much goes into organising local events so try to support where we can.  

Apologies to anyone whose blog I normally comment upon who may have noticed my absence but we were without a computer for a few days.  A few weeks ago our toaster short circuited in the kitchen which blew the fuses for all the wall sockets in the house.  It looks like it caused a power surge through the hard drive of the computer and ever since it was running incredibly slow and wouldn't load some pages.  After considering replacing it as it is now over 10 years old we decided to ask our favourite local computer whizz if there was anything he could suggest.  After all, have you seen the price of a new iMac?  Fortunately he has been able to install a new drive, tidy everything up and it is back running nicely again. For a very small fraction of the price of a new machine!  Plus we are of the opinion that it is better to repair than replace if at all possible.  

Last Tuesday we went to Saffron Walden and on our way back to the car park we came across a local celebrity being filmed.  I walked straight past them, oblivious to who it was and it wasn't until Paul said 'did you see ...' that I had to have a second look.  You would have thought that walking past a group of television cameramen would have tipped me off that something was going on wouldn't you?  All I can say in my defence is that they look a lot different in the flesh to how they look on tv.  Who was it?  You will have to wait until my round up of the month to find out!

We had a week of wall to wall sunshine and enjoyed spending time in the garden tidying up and pruning back shrubs which had flowered. Our peony has been gorgeous this year, with blooms the size of my hand

Guess what?  I've finished the blanket I was making!  

Let me assure you, when the temperature is almost 30 degrees, the thought of working on a crochet blanket is a bit overwhelming but with a new pattern starting on Thursday I had an incentive to get it done 😀 

Hopefully I will be starting the week catching up on all the blog reading I would normally have done!  After which it will be time to go to a local pub to meet three ladies that I used to work with - needless to say we will definitely be putting the world to rights over lunch and proudly swapping photos of grandchildren!

How are your plans for the week ahead?

Monday 12 June 2023

Me on a Monday

 I wouldn't be British if I didn't start this post by mentioning the weather.  Wow!  What a scorching weekend!  Suddenly all the summer clothes came out of hiding - it was 30 degrees here yesterday and it was lovely to eat all our meals on the patio.  I'm so pleased we had the awning fitted last year, it's provided some very welcome shade over the patio table and chairs.

We ended last week on a slightly embarrassing note.  Paul's cousin sent us an invitation to a garden party on Friday evening.  As a more 'senior' member of the family they often have a family get together in the summer but now I come to think of it, the invitation is normally by phone or text, not a proper invitation card.  It wasn't until we got there that it became apparent that it was a 'big' birthday garden party and apart from bringing a bottle of wine, we had arrived empty handed!  When we said the 'we wish we had known it was a celebration rather than just a get together' they said, 'but it said it on the invitation'.  At which point someone else caught in the same way said 'I don't think it did' and produced the invitation from his back pocket.  No mention of birthdays or the number 75 at all!  

So as you can see, I am now cautiously re-entering the world and having carefully avoided any situations where I may come into contact with a germy person, guess whose husband woke up with a cold on Saturday?  Hmm ...

The week is not starting well for Coco who has a check up on her heart at the vets this afternoon - shh don't tell her, it'll spoil her day.

I think I'm getting back in normal routines this week, but I thought that last week and then Rosie got chicken pox so I'm assuming nothing.

One thing that I will definitely be doing today is finishing my book.  I am enjoying it so much.  This has brought out all the emotions in me and I completely fell in love with the main character.  Molly the maid is a kind, sweet innocent soul who sees the world in a different way to many others.  Obsessive with cleaning and a stickler for routine, she is the perfect maid for a high end hotel. She has problems reading body language and takes every comment quite literally.  This unfortunately makes her very vulnerable to people who people who will take advantage of her.  It does not cross her mind that everybody does not tell the truth and she ends up in the middle of a nightmare where she is accused of a crime which she surely could never have committed.  

My only dilemma is, how do I find another book to follow this one?  

Friday 9 June 2023

Capel Manor

I had my first proper outing since my op yesterday - it was such a glorious afternoon and so lovely to be out of the house!  I had hoped to tick off at least one of the Summer Scavenger Hunt categories and the gardens did not disappoint, in fact there were so many white flowers I am spoilt for choice!

Quite apart from being an interesting place to visit, Capel Manor is one of London's leading environmental colleges.  It was first owned by Sir William Capel in 1486 who was at one point Lord Mayor of London.  

The rules and regulations for the workers in 1800 were pretty strict, woe betide anyone who turned up for work on a Monday wearing a dirty shirt or unlaced shoes! Or how about number 21 ‘neglecting to do a job after having been told of it the sound time’? Click on the photo for a close up detail of the rules.

It isn't a huge place to visit; we were there about an hour and a half and walked around it all, but it was so well maintained and peaceful.  Hard to believe that the M25 is not far away!  Interesting too to see the college students hard at work in the various gardens and greenhouses.

Strange that we had never been here before, it is just 10 mins from where Paul's parents lived and only 35 mins from home for us.  Definitely a nice open place for my first excursion!

Monday 5 June 2023

Me on a Monday

 Here we are at the start of another week.  

Last week wasn't too exciting and by the end of it I was becoming bored with being confined to home apart from dog walks.  It reminded me so much of being in lockdown, how on earth did we do that for so long?  So when a friend invited us over to have a take away at theirs on Saturday evening I was keen to go!  I figured that as long as I kept my distance and was sure they weren't coughing and sneezing it would be fine to go.  It was such a nice evening!

So this week holds a little more normality hopefully.  Still being cautious about mixing but just trying to be sensible.  I think if I venture out anywhere I shall resort to wearing a face mask, after all the Covid time no one will think it strange! We are thinking about going to Capel Manor Gardens one day so it will be outside and ticks the 'being careful' box.  

As you can imagine, the crochet project has grown nicely over the last week - which is handy as I seem to have ordered some wool to start something new which begins at the end of the month ;-)

Just the border to do now.

Today we have workmen in to remove the carpet from our conservatory and screed the floor ready for new flooring to be fitted on Wednesday.  This is a project which has been on the back burner for a couple of years now so will be great to have it actually done.  Our plans for gradually getting back into childcare (cautiously) have been scuppered by a message this morning to say that it looks like R may have chicken pox.  However we have had false alarms over this many times so we'll see what the next 24 hours brings!  Needless to say I will be keeping a very safe distance!

Friday 2 June 2023

Let's sit and have a cup of coffee

Image from Canva

Come in, come in!  Sorry we have to keep a distance apart but I'm still following doctor's orders. 
It's so lovely to have someone come round for a chat!  I shall be so happy to hear about what you have been doing since our last meeting.

I'm so pleased that we had our long weekend away before my operation, it was perfectly timed to take my mind off what was in store and we returned home well rested.  Have you ever been to Southwold?  It's such a lovely place.  We know it quite well so we happily revisited our favourite places.  They really are spoilt for choice or delicious bakeries in Southwold.  The cottage we had rented was just a five minute walk from a lovely bakery called The Cornish Pantry.  I discovered the best pasty there - a little like a pain au chocolate but even nicer.  It was called a chocolate torsade and it was like a twist of puff pastry with a layer of creme patisserie and dark chocolate chips inside it.  Warm from the oven - delicious!

Coco enjoyed her holiday too, she does love the feel of the sand between her paws!  Fortunately she was booked in for a groom on Tuesday so is now clean and fresh again, she had returned from her trip more than a little grubby.

We also visited Thorpeness.  Known for the quirky house in the clouds, and a lovely place to visit for a walk around the boating lake and pretty village. The house in the clouds was originally a water storage structure.  Considered to be a blot on the landscape it was decided to disguise it by making it look like it was a house, 70ft up in the trees.  You can now stay in it as a holiday let, I bet the views are amazing!

We had stopped off for a picnic lunch on our way to Southwold at Flatford Mill, famed for being the place that John Constable painted The Hay Wain.  It's a lovely peaceful place to enjoy a picnic and walk along the river.  Of course everyone ends up taking a picture of the mill from the place where Constable must have viewed it.

I've been so lucky that the weather has been so nice for my convalescence and I've been able to sit and enjoy the garden.  Everything is starting to come into bloom and every day I notice another plant that has opened up.  We have some giant poppies at the end of the garden which have dark purple stamens which are weighed down with pollen.  Yesterday I watched a bee spending so much time inside the petals and when it flew off it was literally covered in purple all over its body!

That's about all the news from here bearing in mind that I've been confined to home since we got back.  Thank you so much for popping in, it's been lovely to have some company.

We may have a slight problem with next month's get together - as it may involve you having to join me on a flight overseas.  Maybe we will have to reschedule!