Sunday, 28 February 2021

Layla The Springer Spaniel

 I have had dogs all my life yet I have never met a dog like Layla our Springer Spaniel. She came into our life in such a strange way. Our eldest son, I have mentioned before, cannot help but find animals in need. I could literally write a book about his animal escapades. What ever country he travels to on holiday he will have some animal drama. If he sees a dog tied up in a yard in miserable circumstances he can't just walk by. When he rented a yard for his buses next to a travellers site he spent as much time sneaking around with food and water as he did working! It was one of the many reasons he gave the place up and moved to his present one and even then within weeks he had found a stray cat as a companion for my Dad.

Nearly three years ago a friend of his mentioned that he knew someone who was getting rid of a four month old Springer Spaniel as they couldn't manage it. He knew eldest son was an animal lover, did he know of anyone who could take her as they were so desperate they were going to put her on Preloved for a very cheap price to make sure she was gone by the weekend. Eldest son was horrified and said that it was such a dangerous thing to do to a dog. It could end up anywhere. He went to the tiny bedsit in Lewisham, South London and paid the price for the little Springer Spaniel that was locked in a cage. 

He phoned and asked could we take her for the weekend and he would take to Springer Spaniel Rescue on the Monday. So Layla arrived. She had all her documents and a pile of equipment. Someone had really wanted her at some point but I suppose the reality of an energetic puppy had been just too much. I phoned the microchip company to make sure she hadn't been reported as stolen and she hadn't been. I think the saddest thing on her inoculation certificate was all the crossings out of her name as she had been passed from person to person. 

That weekend we took her to the park with our dogs, who she she stuck to like glue. I could see her distress as she scanned all the people's faces in the park for someone who looked familiar, it broke my heart. Tom and I looked at each other as we got home and said someone has to commit to this dog. We decided that was that, it stops here.

She has definitely not been the easiest of dogs. Her early experiences have had an enormous, lasting affect on her but I know she is happy. She has terrible trouble focusing and concentrating for more than a few seconds but as I say to my four very individual children, don't conform just be yourself. She is our dog with all her funny little ways. She would never win an obedience class and definitely never win a prize for walking in a straight line for some reason but who cares. She has brought us so much happiness and when I look at this video of her in the park yesterday I can see her life has brought her the same.


It is not quite so bright here as yesterday, but still nice and dry so I'll be out and about again, walking the dogs and gardening. Tom is working again on a late shift. I tend to just mooch about doing jobs that need catching up on and spend the time in the evenings working when he works late. It all feels quite relaxed at the moment so I shouldn't complain at all as life isn't always like it. I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday wherever you are in the world. xx

Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Reality of Caravan Holidays

 It was a lovely sunny day yesterday doing Dad's shopping and it gives a feeling of hope that better things are around the corner. Dad has been able to get out in the front garden which has brightened him. Last year he moved a garden bench to the front path so he could have a rest after he has mowed the lawn and before he started the next job. It has led to a procession of "old people" resting on their way through while he is gardening and has given them all a place to have a little chat out in the fresh air. It is a proper little social club he has built up on his bench. I am slightly concerned word may spread and he may start getting street drinkers in the evening but knowing my Dad as long as they were willing to chat about his beloved Liverpool he would welcome them too!

All this nice weather is starting to think make us think we may be able to book a bit of time away in our caravan. We  have managed to find an original 1970s awning to go with our 1970s caravan, the only problem is it's missing poles. We need to find some replacements but of course all the caravan dealerships are closed at the moment. 

When it is sorted out this is hopefully how it will look. It will almost double our space while we are away. I imagine us sitting having our evening meal in it when it is not quite nice enough to eat outside.


Our awning is an Isabella awning and I have contacted the company who are still in existence. They have been so helpful but sadly don't make the poles for these awnings anymore. I have been searching through old brochures from the company to get ideas for the inside and they have made me laugh


It's strange but my memories of caravanning holidays at the time are of us in wellington boots in the middle of a muddy field. I suppose this photograph sold more awnings than the reality!


I do remember this kind of family feel though and I will definitely be trying to make some wonderful retro curtains like this for ours. However I think this next photo is probably the furthest from a family caravan holiday reality though.


Although it did give me an idea for a bit of authentic 1970s when we are away. Candles in wine bottles, maybe a bit dangerous for in the awning, but outside on a summer evening, perfect! What 1970s meal would have been complete without them. These brochures have certainly given me lots to think about but the reality of our caravan holidays when my sister and I were children was this photo, and we loved every minute!


I have a day in today with the exception of some dog walking. I don't want to waste this lovely weather with inside jobs but there always seems a lot to catch up with on both. No matter how hard I try I never seem to get the same amount of enthusiasm for housework as I do for gardening. I think because of that reason the garden will probably win through if the weather stays nice. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Friday, 26 February 2021

Local Cakes

 The new duck run arrived yesterday. It slightly concerns me what a small sized box it is in. I have the feeling it is going to be very hard to assemble and it has to be all done in one day as once the other one is taken down we have to have the ducks safe again by that evening. I see a long day ahead of us soon! Scarlett was very excited  by it's arrival and is expecting to see it all up and ready by next week so we are going to have to start planning.

I was right about the weather yesterday it was just a bit grey and drizzly really. It could have been much worse though. We managed to go for a walk and then incorporate gong to the bakers, which is Scarlett's new favourite thing, to chose a cake for after her lunch. She chose a shortbread teddy bear, then I bought two more for youngest son and daughter for when they got in from work, then worried eldest daughter would feel left out when she came to pick up Scarlett, I bought her one to take home too! Scarlett insisted on carrying them all home with the paper bag pressed up to her coat so unfortunately this was only the only one which arrived home without losing a limb. I was assured however they were delicious!


I have mentioned before about our wonderful local bakers. They still make all their items on the premises and in the past few years have expanded to make a coffee lounge which until recent times, when of course it has been closed, is always busy. As soon as it is open again I can't wait to take Scarlett to sit outside and eat our cakes! 
 
In 1977 when I worked in a bank in London, on a Saturday I used to do voluntary work with the disabled children at nearby Queen Mary's Hospital. I planned to start training as a nurse when I was 18 and at the time, hoped it would make my transition easier. It was an incredibly enjoyable time of my life. I would travel on the train from my Mum and Dad's house and get off at the station to walk the mile to the hospital and spend the day in work I enjoyed enormously. After the monotony of working in a bank it seemed such fun.  I would walk past this bakers, still run by the same family in those days, and think to myself how lucky the people of this area are to have such a lovely bakers, although I never went in as by the time I came past again at the end of the day it was always shut. I used to think one day I would love to live round here.

In the spring of 1981 as a third year student nurse I would catch the bus to travel from St Helier Hospital to Queen Mary's for my two month paediatric secondment. I would get off the bus outside the bakers to walk that familiar walk through the area I liked so much, with such happy memories of my days as a volunteer. I was pleased to see "my bakers" was still there even though I still didn't go in. 

Over 20 years later in 2004 we moved house, to the area I had always liked, just a five minute walk from a shop I felt nostalgic for even though I had never been inside . I joked with my family as the house purchase was going through I may finally get to go in that lovely baker's shop and the first thing I did on the Saturday morning, after we moved in on that Friday in August was to walk up there to buy everyone cakes as a treat. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life! If anyone had told me in 1977, that one day I would be popping in and out with my granddaughter all these years later, I wouldn't have believed them. How strange life can be.

I'm going over to do shopping for my Dad today and it looks like it's going to be a nice day with lots of sunshine. I hope everyone has a lovely day, with some sunshine what ever you are doing and where ever you are in the world. xx

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Looking Forward To David Essex

 It was another warm day yesterday, a sunny cheerful sort of day that somehow brightened us all. Tom is on late shifts all the way though until next Tuesday but at least that means he gets the morning at home. I had ordered an extension to the hosepipe with the replacement attachment and we ran it up the side of the garden fence so not only does it look much tidier I can sit on the bench and give the ducks a shower instead of them just having a swim about in their little pool. They loved it and I can see on warm days this will be a job all of us will want to do as it is so amusing to watch their antics when they are enjoying themselves.

I may even try the cockatiels with a bit of misting on warm days now the hosepipe reaches right up to the end of the garden. They certainly seemed to enjoy the early spring sunshine yesterday.


There has been more news about things hopefully opening up later in the year. Musical festivals have announced they will be taking place later in the summer. A friend of mine who is a musician has announced he will be playing at venues later in the year, after a year with no work I am so pleased for him. For me, one really exciting thing I am looking forward to almost seems possible now. My sister and I were meant to be going to see David Essex in concert last September which was of course cancelled and postponed until this September. It was looking as if it was a distinct possibility it may not even happen then but now suddenly it seems a bit hopeful! We saw him at The Sutton Granada and The Hammersmith Odeon in 1974 and 1975. Sigh! What happy days. For any one else who remembers that twinkle in his eye here is a trip down memory lane!


Scarlett is coming today and sadly the weather doesn't look quite so good for us, but other parts of the country who have been having rain are at least due some sunshine. Hopefully we'll still get out for a walk and have a bit of fun today. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing and is managing to plan something nice for after lockdown. xx

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Vaccination Passports

 Disappointing news arrived yesterday from the phone buying company. They had magnified the corner of the phone by about 200x and there was a tiny crack in the join of the screen. We had not noticed it with our old eyes! In the end the company offered us £20 not £80, I don't really blame they as they do have to make their profits but £20 off the duck run cost is obviously not nearly as much as £80 off it. Oh well, it's disappointing but I have to tell myself it's extra money from something that was just stuck in a drawer.

There has been a lot on the news yesterday about covid vaccination passports. There seems to be a possibility that we may have to carry proof of vaccination before we are allowed to go on holidays abroad or even to visit pubs and restaurants. It reminded me of an incident that happened in 1973 a few weeks before we went on on holiday to Corfu. A young 23 year old woman who was a laboratory technician was admitted to the Harrow Road branch of St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on the16th March. When smallpox was suspected on the 23rd March she was transferred to Long Reach Smallpox Hospital in Dartford Kent but in the intervening period a man and his wife, who were visiting another patient in the same ward, became infected and were admitted to an infectious diseases hospital on the 2nd April and transferred to Long Reach on the 4th April. It was thought the source lay in the laboratory in which the young woman worked. 

All of a sudden from nowhere, we were not allowed to travel unless we had a Small Pox vaccination. I remember my Mum, Dad and my sister and I had to go to our GP for our vaccination just days before the holiday. I presume we must have had a certificate to be allowed into Corfu, I can't remember, but I do remember we probably wouldn't have needed one, we would have just been able to show our arms as every British person at the hotel was sitting around the swimming pool with a swollen lump oozing pus on the top of their arm. I had a scar that lasted years! Strange how we didn't seem to complain about our rights back then!

No other patients were ever treated at Long Reach and the hospital was knocked down in 1974 to make way for improved flood defences. The last outbreak of smallpox in England was in 1975, from a laboratory in Birmingham and the last case in the world in Somalia in 1977. On the 9th December 1979 the World Health Organisation declared that smallpox was eradicated. Incredibly in the early 1950s there were an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurring in the world each year with a 30% mortality rate. So hopefully no matter how terrible coronavirus seems now, one day, the same thing will be happening with this.

We had a lovely day yesterday with the sun shining and I was out and about most of the afternoon. I know so much of the west side of the country is having terrible rain and I hope the sunny weather arrives with you soon. Our sunniest flower bed is all ready for spring when it should be a mass of colour. I can't wait. I hope everyone has a lovely day and you manage to see some sunshine where ever you are. xx

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The Best Of Friends Together

 After me worrying about Layla getting through the new gate I looked out of the kitchen window yesterday morning and saw her looking through it in a worried and stressed way up the garden and Tess our Border Collie had disappeared. I had to rush up the garden and climb through the gap in the fence, sneaking round the garden at the back of our house praying no one came out and caught me. The fact she looked so pleased with herself for breaking through our new fortifications was rather worrying in itself so after Tom returned from the dump an hour was spent trying to make it escape proof. I hope we have managed it but I'm going to keep a close eye on her for a while and I'm sorry for ever thinking Layla was the naughty dog! Layla found the whole incident very worrying and of one thing there is no doubt how much she loves her best friend!

On the subject of the dump Tom was full of praise for how smooth it was taking items there now they have the new appointment system. He was saying he hopes they keep this on after lockdown as it ran so smoothly. However no matter how faultless the system seemed, the workers at the dump were telling him that they have over 100 no shows a week of people who have booked and don't turn up so something like that may make them have a rethink sadly.

We spent the rest of the morning, before the rain arrived, pollarding our plum tree, which we do yearly to try and keep it a manageable size. Pollarding may be a bit of an exaggeration, it's more like pruning the top but it is quite a tricky job with Tom up a ladder, in the middle of rose bushes, and me offering advice "Mind your head! Mind the fence!" We finally managed to complete the job just before heavier rain arrived and at the same time workmen arrived outside our house to do the same job in about 15 minutes to an enormous Lime tree outside. "That's it" said Tom "Next year we're getting a chainsaw!"


There has been lots of announcements yesterday about relaxing the rules of lockdown. The one I am most interested in is when I can see family normally as that is the one that affects me most. The main one that sticks in my mind is the total easing of all social restrictions on the 21st June. Eldest son's birthday! I'm beginning to wonder whether he had a word with Boris! 
A nice day is forecast today and I have a lot to catch up with so I think I'll just prioritise the jobs by importance and work through them one at a time. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever your plans.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Grateful To So Many People

I felt much better as the morning went on yesterday and by the afternoon could get out and about as normal although I did feel very tired. I have been reading up about the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine (I probably should have done that before!) and interestingly it seems you are much more likely to get the sort of effects I had, after the second vaccine as the body now recognises this invading threat and fights extra hard against it.  There have also been reports that there is evidence the same thing happens and you are more likely to experience flu like symptoms if you have already had the virus. I find all this information so interesting, something I have never really paid any attention to before but now always watch the television interviews, I have even finally got my tounge around the words virologist and epidemiologist! What ever the causes of any of it, I am just grateful to the skill of the people who developed this vaccine and grateful to our NHS that I have been able to receive it. 

We worked hard yesterday afternoon and have put part of the new railings and gate up in the back garden. The little fence that was there before is mainly rotten and Tom has an appointment at the dump this morning, which is the new way of doing things. I am very pleased with the arch and gate and will take a photo when it is all completed. My only slight concern is if it is substantial enough to contain Layla our Springer Spaniel. 

The other success I have had over the weekend is fixing the lights in the little dolls house room made by my Dad. In the end it just needed a higher wattage fuse and the lights are shining brightly away now. 




Tom is off today. but youngest son and daughter are back at work after half term. It looks quite bright so I'm hopeful we can get the railings finished in the back garden. I'm also pre-empting Tom's phone money being paid in and ordering the new duck run. Hopefully we will be able to get all these big jobs done before the start of spring. They are going to be announcing later about relaxing lockdown restrictions in England which will hopefully mean we can plan for a bit more of a normal family life.  I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing and get a bit of positive information about the end of lockdown coming. xx

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Taking It A Bit Easy

 After me being so rude about weather forecasters yesterday it turned out quite nice weather wise. I spent the morning in the garden and got lots of jobs done. A lot of the time felt wasted really as I had to clear the bamboo that was coming through from next door. It is impossible to dig out so I just cut it off at the base with loppers. Of course it just keeps growing back and since I did the job last year so much has grown again. It takes a long time to chop it all up and dispose of it but at least it has been done for a while now. Bulbs are coming up everywhere it really is a nice feeling spring is around the corner.


After lunch I left to go on the train to the doctors for my Coronavirus vaccination. I had the Oxford AstraZenica jab and was in and out in two minutes, no sitting checking to see if I had a reaction that I had heard from other people. As I had been a little early I was on the train home before my appointment time was due! I felt absolutely fine. When youngest son asked how I was feeling when I arrived home I said "Ready to take on the world!" and I really did. I thought I had no reactions at all as I was going to bed yesterday evening.
 Then at about three in the morning I woke up shivering,  my skin felt burning to touch and I had headache. I had to get up to take some Paracetamol. All night I felt quite unwell and forced myself to picture all the antibodies building up in my blood so it was worthwhile. I felt a bit like I did at the beginning of having coronavirus last year and I'd rather not be reminded of it! I feel a lot better this morning but had a lot planned working in the garden and I'm starting to think I may take it a bit easy today. I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday what ever you are doing.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

All This Extra Plastic

 I try so hard not to put too much plastic into my rubbish. I don't buy items with lots of plastic wrapping and if I do buy food in plastic trays I try to reuse them in my greenhouse for growing seeds. We don't buy drinks in plastic bottles anyway and since we have had our milk delivered from the milkman for the last few years that has cut down a lot. Carrying a little shopping bag in my handbag so I am always prepared had become part of my going out checklist. However since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions that followed other items have been added to my checklist. Face mask and hand sanitiser. I use a cloth pretty flowery face mask so it is reusable (I even have one in Snoopy fabric!) but when ever I have had a hospital check up they won't let me wear these I have to be handed a surgical one. These single use surgical ones go straight in the rubbish and horrifyingly I see them everywhere when I am out walking just discarded at the side of the road. Tom says they are all over the bus by the end his route. 

The thing that has really bothered me though is all the little hand sanitizer bottles. All of my family are out and about a lot and I make sure they always have those little hand sanitisers with them but when the bottles are empty I'm not quite sure what to do. I looked online to see if I could buy a big bottle to refill them with but I thought it's only putting off the problem, I still have a big bottle to find a use for when it is finished. Then I remembered a shop near my Dad's house where you can refill bottles of household cleaners and the like  I had used it a few times and really liked it and then along came coronavirus and there seemed so much else to worry about I didn't go back. So yesterday after doing Dad's shopping I popped in to have a look round again.


It has some really good items. I have used the general purpose cleaner before and liked it very much so will definitely take an empty bottle in when my present kitchen cleaner is finished. I was very pleased to see they have hand sanitiser too so next week I'll take the empty little bottles of hand sanitiser with me and refill them. It is not the cheapest option though so I think I will be replacing a few items that I feel causes us to use the most plastic and see how that goes. They sell lots of locally made food products but again it's not a cheap option so it may be a case of replacing the items that I feel would have the most impact on food miles. I'm going to do a bit of research. 

The much promised glorious spring weekend seems to have disappeared from the weather forecast without even an apology form the forecasters! I think they are hoping we may have forgotten what they said a week ago. It's still quite pleasant here though so I should be able to get a few outside jobs done this morning. I'm off to get my coronavirus vaccination this afternoon. How exciting it feels! I hope everyone has a lovely day and you get to see a bit of sunshine. xx

Friday, 19 February 2021

What's In A Name?

 We had such a lovely day yesterday. Scarlett is such good company now, she chats away and we have long conversations about so many things. We went for a walk as I had to go to the post office. My eldest son told me about a company called We Buy Any Phone and after checking on their website Tom discovered they would give £80 for his old phone he upgraded from last year. I spent a long time the night before wiping all the accounts off it but they had sent instructions with the prepaid package so it was quite easy. Now it is sent off, it remains to be seen if the process stays positive and he gets paid without problem. I really hope so as we are planning to put the money towards the new duck run.

After we left the post office I queued at our local bakers as Scarlett loves choosing a cake from there. As we waited we chatted about the signs and all we had to do now with coronavirus. Talking to her it made me realise I don't think she can remember a time when we didn't have these restrictions. It's seems very sad but she seemed perfectly cheerful about it all. 


When we were walking home carrying the prized cake she was excitedly telling me about Shrove Tuesday at nursery. She said they have a chef there called Brian who makes them all laugh and he flipped the pancakes into the air which had made a great impression on her. I pictured a kindly man approaching retirement making all the little children so happy. When eldest daughter came to pick Scarlett up I mentioned how much she liked Brian the chef and eldest daughter said "Oh yes they all love him, he's so cool!" Apparently he's not approaching retirement at all but very young with long hair and a full sleeve of tattoos! It made me realise how you can easily perceive the wrong picture of a person because of their name. Fashions in names change so much it's hard not to. 

Brian is on the list of boys names which are disappearing from use, along with Clive, Lee, Neil, all names that were popular in the 1950s and 60s. I was at school with girls named Elaine, Tracey. Donna, Maureen and Wendy but they have all dropped down the rankings and are disappearing today. I remember lots of young men called Gary when I was a teenager but there were only 28 registered in 2015 in England and Wales and only 3 Tracey's! Compare this to 4,511 Oscars and 2,211 Sienna's. Of course fashions change in everything and it will only take a celebrity, or royal baby to start a new trend. Sometimes all it takes to make you love a name is remembering someone you really liked with that name. When I worked in a bank in Regent Street in the 1970s I worked with a lovely young woman who's name was Wendy, she was from Barbados and came to Britain with her family who were the Windrush generation. I don't think I ever saw her without a smile on her face, we laughed and joked all through the two years I worked with her. It may be slipping out of fashion but I can never hear that name without remembering her smile. Maybe one day Scarlett and her little friends will look back on the name Brian and think of the cool young chef who made them smile and laugh all the time.

I'm off to do my Dad's shopping today so I hope the queues won't be too long. The weather forecast says light rain but it looks really bright here at the moment. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Wasting Time On Unnecessary Worrying

 Coincidentally after the post a few days ago about my Dad's model making I found a school book from when I as six. It was the school diary we used to have to write every morning for our first lesson of the day. There it was 22nd January 1967 "Daddy put up an aeroplane in my room." It all recorded, the toys I got for Christmas, our house being put up for sale and the most wonderful thing at the time our new poodle puppy. Reading it I can remember every joyous moment, I loved that puppy so much. 

The heart breaking thing for me to read was the next entry after the aeroplane being put up, it all went wrong. There was a gap and I'm not sure why, maybe I had been kept off school. The next entry on the 7th February started "Daddy is in hospital and he is going to be in for four weeks." How strange that such a terrible time for us as a family was clearly recorded by me and has survived. It was just the way it worked out. My Dad had a heart attack at 35 and was very seriously ill. In the end he was in hospital for five weeks and my sister and I were only allowed to visit him a few times, all recorded clearly in my diary, with little drawings of him in bed. We weren't used to being looked after by other people and all of a sudden we were daily, it was very hard.. So many people were ever so kind but I remember one family who lived down the road from us, whose mother would bring us home from school with her son and daughter. The mother and daughter were nice but the son was about 10 and a terrible bully, he would hit us with a ruler and make our life a misery. Even at six and nine we didn't want to tell my Mum as we knew she was worried enough. Reading those entries I could remember every bit of it.

Dad recovered and we eventually moved house, and I moved schools, three months later so the diary stopped. He was off work for a long time though and didn't go back until after we moved.  Somehow I felt life was never quite the same again. There was always that worry that had never been there before that he may be ill again and I know it was worse for my Mum who worried and worried. Even though I had a really happy childhood, what happened in those weeks at the end of January1967, altered those carefree days. The irony of the whole thing though is that it shouldn't have. Here is my Dad nearly 90 and really rather fit. If only we could have seen into the future.

If I can learn anything from reading that old diary it's try not to worry about things outside our control. There is no point as none of us know the scenarios of how our lives with play out good or bad so we may as well just live for the day. There's no harm in planning and looking forward to something but certainly not worrying about what may happen as we have no control over some things, and worrying won't alter whether it happens or not!

Scarlett is coming today and we have sorted out some Thomas the Tank Engine trains for her. I wonder who will get more pleasure from this Scarlett or youngest son! I think what ever happens we will have a nice day. I really feel for everyone in the Southern States of America who are having terrible weather at the moment. I hope everyone stays safe and has a lovely day wherever you are. xx

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Missing Out

 I managed to find book shelf space for all the books I have decided to keep and have boxed up some I know I won't read again. I even fixed some damaged spines on old books, only with glue, I'm sure a professional bookbinder would be horrified, but they all certainly look nicer when they are on the shelves. I like to think it is all sorted but I do have a vague recollection of putting a few boxes in the loft and I may go up and have a search so I can feel I have completely got on top of it. Now what to do with the ones I'm getting rid of. Everything is shut at the moment and I just hope there is no problem to hold me up. We have a large Emmaus charity saleroom near us which we usually take unwanted items to but a year ago before the first lockdown I noticed they were getting a bit less likely to take everything as they used to. A  couple of times we were told they weren't taking books or toys at the moment. However none of this would be a problem if things were back to normal. There is a yearly sale that used to happen close by to us that I miss so much this year. 

Every year in the February half term there is the Epsom Charity Book Fair. An incredible 65,000 books all in boxes sorted in categories by volunteers to browse through over four days. Rooms and rooms of them. It's not only books but vinyl records, my idea of  a good day out! There is a fixed price for hard backs £1.75 and paperbacks £1.25. I have bought so many lovely books there and any we have finished with can be donated in the week before the sale. Looking at this photo last year when there was only just the murmurings of the problems to come, makes me feel so sad.


It's not just what I am missing out on though, maybe it's for the best when I am having such a sort out I can't add to my collections but whether its Emmaus or a charity book sale that attracts crowds from all around, they are all missing out on donations and money. I'm sure it is difficult times for many charities who are waiting and hoping this will be a bit more normal very soon. One thing I am sure about though is when things are more normal I will not take things for granted as I think I probably did before.

One bit of good news yesterday was I received a call from my doctors surgery to say I could have my coronavirus vaccination on Saturday. I was ever so pleased as it feels as if it is a step back to normality. I really want to go to Hastings to visit our eldest son as soon as we can. A walk along the seafront in the sunshine! That's just what we need. 

Sunshine and showers are forecast today. I have quite a lot of work to do with a pile of new documents to sort through and add to my social history website. I always find it quite exciting, you never know what you are going to come across but I hope I will have time to spend some time outside too. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever your plans. xx

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

The Temptation In Queuing

 How many years campaigners have called for sweets and chocolate bars to be removed from shelves right by checkouts. When my children were little it would annoy me so much, that queuing nightmare with little ones within hands reach to all those tempting sweets. I understand times have improved now however I never take Scarlett to supermarkets so I'm not really sure. Suddenly, for me, with this coronavirus pandemic the temptations have changed. I stand outside the Co-op in the queue with my mask on, socially distanced, waiting to be let in. I hate queuing  it's so boring, I look at my phone, no connection, smile at a few people walking by, they ignore me probably can't see me smiling as I have a mask on, read the headlines on the newspapers outside on the newspaper stand, far too depressing, then I shuffle along  to the plant stand. If I have Scarlett with me this is how the conversation goes "That's pretty Nanny" "Yes it is a primrose." "I like that" "It's only £2 that is cheap, shall I buy it?" "Yes I like that". 

For the first time in my life I am picking up items to buy before I go into the shop! If they look as if they need care and watering then that is it! It's lucky I only have one pair of hands!  I think it may be because I am so desperate for signs of spring, I want brightness and normality or is it simply that standing looking at pretty flowers for a while is just too much temptation. I know spring will come but somehow those little flowers around the house seem to bring it closer. 

Yesterday having a move around to make space for books resulted in me moving a lot of items around. Am I the only one who does this? My family groan when I come home with a new painting from a car boot sale as it can lead to a chain of events which ends up with furniture being moved! My Dad always was, until his hands have become painful with arthritis, an avid model maker. One of my main memories as a child was him sitting at the dining room table with a model ship or aeroplane on the go. I had a detailed Tiger Moth aeroplane, a model he made of the plane he used to fly in the Royal Air Force, hanging on my bedroom ceiling when I was little. I wish I still had it.

Over the years he has made beautiful dolls house rooms, not for children to play with but with a glass front and tiny little details that can keep you absorbed for a long time staring in. I have three he has made and they have been up on high shelves but yesterday I brought one of them down to the dresser. It was a really fiddly process as I had to take the glass of the front to put everything back into place and they have to be dusted with a little paintbrush. I thought now Scarlett is a bit older and can be trusted not to touch she would love to look into them. Unfortunately I couldn't get the lights to work despite an hour of fiddling with fuses. They come on but there must be a loose connection as they keep going off. I have bought a new lighting plug box on ebay and am keeping my fingers crossed I may be able to fix it before Scarlett comes on Thursday. This is one of my favourite photos of my Dad building a model ship taken in 1962 and it's one of the clearest memories from my early childhood.


Today is Shrove Tuesday and I'm looking forward to making pancakes later on. I do really enjoy these sorts of traditions as I think it builds happy memories for my children, even though they are adults, for the future. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Monday, 15 February 2021

Preserving Roast Vegetables In Olive Oil And Consulting Books

 I decided, as the promise of warmer weather is on the way, I wouldn't bother struggling in the garden in the cold, I would wait a bit longer. After I saw the pile of gardening books my Dad had out the other day to give him ideas in his garden in the spring, I realised it was a long time since I looked at my gardening books. Years ago I loved browsing these books for ideas for plants, flowerbeds and little design features like arches or paths. Now I tend to look online and the books have been neglected. I have hundreds and hundreds of books, sometimes I think I need to contact books anonymous (if there was such a thing!)  As I have been running out of space books I haven't looked at for a long time have been put away in boxes under our bed. Yesterday I got out some of these boxes and it was really enjoyable to look through them again. This was one of my favourite gardening books in the 1980s and I have decided I really must leave it out to browse through all the time. It gives ideas on plants and shrubs that flower in all four seasons, in four different sizes and the care they need. It's wonderful you would have to browse for hours on the internet for this information.


I found cookery books , books on how to trace your family tree, cross stitch, embroidery, dog care, cat care even caring for your hamster! Some I have put in my charity saleroom boxes which are lovely and full now, I have even had to add two extra boxes, but some I am going to make space for somewhere as it made me realise that it is not necessarily always easier to look on google! 

A thing I have been doing at the moment, in my quest to have zero food waste each week, is roasting larger trays of roast vegetables which I love and storing them in an oil marinade. I always shied away from the word marinade as it conjures up in my mind something quite time consuming to make. This however only takes a few minutes. My favourite vegetables to roast in the oven at the moment are butternut squash, fennel, red peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms I add the extra roast vegetables to an air tight jar that I have sterilised in the oven for 15 minutes, then poor over warmed olive oil. I add garlic and and some rosemary to the olive oil, dried if I don't have any fresh, but you could add anything you like or nothing if you like it plain. 


As long as all the vegetables are covered they will keep lovely and fresh for about a week in the fridge and they can be added to wraps, salads or at the side of meals to brighten up the plate! The oil does solidify a bit in the fridge but soon liquifies again at room temperature. The olive oil, which absorbs all the flavours of the vegetables can then be used as dressing in salads. Apparently if you add a third vinegar and two thirds olive oil the vegetables can be preserved for months, but they never last that long in our house!  I have always been interested in the nutrition of food and try really hard to have the all the right nutrients in a day but I am well aware it is hard, even for someone like me, who loves vegetables but roast vegetables make it a little easier.


I was relieved to see the hose pipe had unfrozen yesterday but sadly the connection has split and the hose is still unusable so it will be buckets of water in the garden today again for me but at least it will be in the warm as it is much milder. Apparently it is going to be 17° by next weekend. That is really something to look forward to. Youngest son and daughter are both at home as they are off work for half term, so I'll have some company too. I hope everyone has a lovely day and has a bit warmer weather to enjoy. xx

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Waifs And Strays

 I went out to check yesterday and decided it was much to cold for gardening. I will check again tomorrow but I think it may be a case of a few more days inside in the warm. There's not much we are able to do until the weather warms up but we thought we may redo our duck run in the next few weeks. Our female duck Scoot laid the first egg of 2021 yesterday and I think she deserves a bit of extra love and care.

The whole neighbourhood knows we take in waifs and strays. I have lost count of the number of knocks on the door we have had with neighbours asking if we can take in this baby blackbird, budgie found on the allotments, ducklings or chickens from school hatching projects even lost dogs that are dropped at our door with the parting comment "I thought you would know what to do". The lost dog was reunited with a heartbroken owner a few roads  away and we managed to find homes for the ducklings at a local farm we used to buy our chicken feed from. The budgie lived for years more in our aviary and the baby blackbird was released in the wild after being hand reared. It is something I enjoy so much. If I can't manage the situation there is always someone to turn to who will help, with care or rehoming.

Eldest son is exactly the same. He spent months catching Millie my Dad's cat who was virtually feral when he found her. I remember trying to get her into a cat basket to take her to the vet, she was totally wild! Now all this time later she will barely shift off my Dad's sofa! Injured seagulls and pigeons, they all have spent time in boxes in his kitchen. He like us can't turn his back on anything. 

Our latest addition is called Dottie. A few months ago, on the way home from work, Tom found a little white dove lying at the side of the road. With a bloodied wing and unable to fly she would probably not have survived the night. She was exhausted and starving. She was so thin I didn't think she would survive. We have fed her up and kept her warm and now she has completely recovered. She is a domestic dove, not a wild one, and we have tried to find her owners. Lots of people have said  they have lost doves but they all have had rings on their legs which Dottie doesn't . It looks as if she is staying with us and we are already planning an aviary for her. She is adorable, she really interacts with us, making lovely cooing noises. Scarlett, after initially being horrified by her bright red legs, now loves her too and chats away to her. 


Well it's Valentine's Day today. Tom and I don't do Valentines Day at all, we used to send each other cards when we were younger but it has all become so commercialised and another reason for us to be manipulated into spending more money. Oh dear don't I sound a misery! I did get a Valentine card, from my adopted donkey Bonnie! I have put that up on the dresser and no doubt it will give us a laugh today which I think is what it's all about. 



I hear warmer weather is just around the corner, which is exciting in itself. Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Saturday, 13 February 2021

When The Sun Shines

 I had a really busy day yesterday starting early and not getting back in until late, but we managed to get all of the jobs for my Dad done and he really brightened up getting so many things sorted out. The doctor does want him to have a couple more routine tests but I think it is more because of his age and the fact that due to coronavirus he hasn't been seen by anyone for a long time. It's such a difficult situation at the moment, if there are any smallish health problems you tend to just think that you won't bother anyone as they have so much on with serious things. Lockdown is so hard for people who live on their own. My Dad jokes he's sick of talking to his cat Millie but at least he has got her!

We've been try to plan for the future the best we can. Dad's had his gardening books out and has been planning different jobs to do in the garden when the weather gets better. We have been planning a birthday do for Dad on his 90th in May, hopefully all of us in his garden, and eldest son is planning a family barbecue at his house in Hastings with all of us there for his birthday in June. I'm sure we will be able to have some sort of celebrations, maybe not completely normal, but some sort of  fun. We will certainly be ready for it! 

At least yesterday the sun was shining. I took this photo of the view from Epsom Downs towards London. I could have stood and looked at it all day. Often when we drive past the parking spaces by this spot a campervan is parked. Sometimes it has moved to the other end, so the view would be slightly different and sometimes if we come past late at night it is still there, with a little warm glow coming from the windows. I can't help but envy them, the freedom to move about. In a world where we are locked in it seems very appealing.


It's nice and sunny again this morning but cold. I'm hoping to be able to venture into the garden to tidy up a bit after the snow which is gradually going but I'll assess how cold it is I think. Have a lovely day everyone what ever your plans. xx

Friday, 12 February 2021

Recycling Old Videos And Keeping Items From Landfill

 I'm an obsessional recycler. Not just the normal recycling that I do each week but I am constantly thinking how I can reuse old items instead of buying new. A friend of mine, who knows I am very interested in these sort of things, added me to a Green Facebook group about recycling. I started out full of enthusiasm in the group but lost steam after a while. The trouble is even though it is wonderful to see all these recyclers, some of them, in my view, miss the point a bit. Plastic has become such a big demon that everyone in the group had become single minded in banning it from their house. They have long discussions on replacing their plastic pegs with new wooden ones, usually expensively made from an online eco company, There seems to me what ever you want, there is an expensive eco friendly product being made out there somewhere. Surely the best answer is to hang on to your plastic pegs, keep them out of landfill for as long as you can then when they are literally unusable replace them with some second hand pegs, wooden or otherwise, that would have gone to landfill, probably discarded by someone who has bought an expensive eco friendly option. 

Years ago when video cassettes fell out of favour I tried to find a place to dispose of them. With four children we had so many. Often given as presents and then bought at car boot sales they got so much pleasure from them but along came DVDs then streaming and video cassettes are a thing of the past. Nobody wanted them, not charity shops, not recycling centres. How many millions of these have gone to landfill. I packed them all up and put them in the loft even though Tom thought I was mad. One day they will work out how to recycle this plastic I thought, then I will get rid of them. 

In the last year with Scarlett spending so much time at our house I have started wondering if she too could get pleasure from all these old films. My Dad gave me his old video player, ours went to landfill years ago, before my aim was to keep everything away from it. I have spent days researching on YouTube how to connect one to a modern HD widescreen television and yesterday while Scarlett was with us the wire arrived. She was so excited I'd found some Fireman Sam videos for her to watch. Old ones that youngest son used to watch 25 years ago, not the new remakes. (Have you seen the new Fireman Sam, good grief!) The quality isn't the best but Scarlett didn't seem to care she loved it. At the end of the day she and youngest son were having a long conversation about Thomas the Tank Engine. He has persuaded her these old videos are the things to watch next week. He's going to sort out all his old Thomas The Tank Engine trains for her and already she knows all the trains names and numbers. She's so excited about it but I can't help but wonder who is really getting the most pleasure from it! Here is the simple £3.50 wire that has given her (and youngest son) so much pleasure, If you have old video cassettes, or even old family camcorder recordings, this is all you need to bring them back to life. At least now the videos can be used for a few more years and by then some clever person will have found a way to recycle the plastic.


I've got a really busy day today, off out before  nine to go with my Dad to his rescheduled doctor's appointment, then his shopping and also a few more errands that need doing for him, which will keep me occupied all day. At least Tom is home today to take up the carrying buckets of water up and down the garden duty. Roll on Spring! Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Keeping Warm And A Vegetable Crumble

 It was another really cold day yesterday, but the sun was shining which always makes me feel more productive, so I set about cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. I cleaned all the cupboards, the fridge, the floor, the windows even the walls. It was gleaming when I finished. It certainly kept me warm. I had to turn off the heater and take off my cardigan. It reminded me of a story my Dad would tell us when we complained about the cold. Years ago, in the early 1960s, no one really had central heating, then one Welsh chap he worked with in the office had central heating fitted. The fact he was Welsh has no real bearing on the story other than the fact my Dad is very good at accents and always told the story in a Welsh one! He was impressing them all with tales of how wonderful central heating was as they all listened enviously. "Your wife must love it being warm all day." said my Dad "Oh no" said the man "I'm not keeping it on for her all day." "That's very mean." said my Dad and his Welsh colleague replied "It's better they are cold, keeps them on the move boyo!" When ever my Dad used to tell this tale we would all gasp at the unkindness of this man! If ever we complained about being cold Dad would tell us in a Welsh accent to "Keep on the move!" Looking back as an adult maybe the Welsh chap was worried about the cost of the heating and it may not have been quite so unkind as it sounded. Anyway as I cleaned today I thought of his wife and it certainly worked as despite freezing temperatures I felt quite warm most of the day! 

I'm starting to get into a routine filling the ducks pond and water with buckets. My family always laugh I could make a routine on a desert island and I think they may be right. I've worked out four buckets fill the aviary water, the ducks water bowl and pond and the bird bath. There are a few more cold days forecast and then things are set to warm up a bit so I'll have to adjust my routine again! 

Tom was working until nine yesterday evening so I made turkey burgers and chips for youngest son and daughter and used half of the vegetables that I cooked in the  slow cooker yesterday and saved for today for mine. I mixed them with some kidney beans in this small Masons dish, as I'm always very mindful my diet could be low in protein. I put a layer of breadcrumbs and grated cheese on the top and put it in the oven for 30 minutes. It was delicious and I couldn't resist some of the chips I had made for youngest son and daughter.


Several people have asked me to share some quick basic veggie recipes. I would love to, all the recipes I make are quick and basic as that is all I can do! I have several old recipe books from the 1930s to the 1970s and often adapt recipes from them. I'm also a bit of a nutrient nerd and am always checking I'm getting the right amount of nutrients which would be lovely to share with someone who is interested as my family definitely aren't! 

I am looking after Scarlett today so it will be busy but always fun. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Pre-Preparing Vegetables For Quick Warm Veggie Meals

I stopped eating meat 12 years ago. We decided, after years of keeping quail, we wanted to start keeping chickens. We read up about all they needed, set up our chicken coop and run and drove to get our ex battery rescue chickens. It was so exciting we couldn't wait. We drove to a big barn on a farm miles away, where the charity had put hundreds of chickens to be chosen from, with our boxes and donation money. We walked into the barn and I looked around at these poor creatures and the state they were in and I said "I am never eating meat again" and I haven't, not a mouthful. I never criticise anyone for eating meat it is entirely their choice but I knew at that moment it was not for me. 

I used to eat fish a lot but a few years ago had to go on an iodine free diet in preparation for treatment for thyroid cancer. I wasn't allowed fish, dairy, eggs, any type of prepared processed meal, take aways or even chocolate. I could have two pieces of dark 70% cocoa chocolate a day, it was hardly worth the effort! I moaned and moaned and practically went into withdrawal, but then strangely after two weeks I suddenly realised I had got used to it and on this diet of vegetables, beans, pulses and rice I was feeling incredibly well. I haven't kept it up strictly, and I admire committed vegans who are able to, but I have drastically altered the main staples in my diet since then and feel all the better for it.

As my diet has such a high fresh vegetable content, the best bit of advice I read was to prepare the food in advance. If I have some spare time at the beginning of the week I wash and prepare all the vegetables for several days and I store them in plastic containers in the fridge ready for use. How many times did I used to plan to have butternut squash or the like and then at the end of a busy day at 6 o'clock faced with a pile of vegetables to work through think I can't be bothered I'll have something else, always less healthy. Once they are prepared in the fridge it is no bother at all just to put them on. On these cold days, it's so much nicer to eat something hot for my lunch and nice for them to be already prepared. I usually have omelette and roast veg or often just roast veg with some bread. There's nothing nicer than mopping up the warm olive oil and garlic at the end with a chunk of bread.


At the same time I add more prepared vegetables in the slow cooker so they are ready to make another veggie meal in the evening.  I have a large slow cooker for the rest of the family to have their meat meals in and this little one for my vegetables. I have so many quick vegetarian meals I make once the vegetables are all cooked. Sometimes if I tell people I am a vegetarian they say, that sounds like too much hard work! I always think to myself it's the meat meals I make for the rest of the family that are hard work!


If ever there was a day I needed hot meals it was yesterday. It was freezing! I spent so much time walking around with buckets of warm water. I will be glad when the hose pipe defrosts and I'm already planning setting up some sort of new system, running the hose along the edge of the garden and lagging it to try and stop this happening in the future. It was so cold last night apparently the coldest night for 15 years. I'm just grateful for my warm house and feel so much for the people who haven't got one. Have a lovely day everyone and I hope you can keep warm. xx

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Out In The Snow

 What a cold day it was yesterday! Tom was back at work after nine days holiday so I felt quite lonely. He has been going out and feeding our birds and ducks while he has been off so it was a shock to my system on such a cold day going out to see to them. It took me such a long time as all the water was frozen and the ducks little pool was frozen solid too. After the struggle of chipping all that away, of course the hose pipe was frozen so I had to walk up and down the garden with buckets of water from the kitchen. We have steps up to our garden which are pretty treacherous at the best of times so I felt I was risking life and limb doing it yesterday. I carried warm water for the ducks little pool as a treat and even though it was only just warm in the freezing cold there was steam coming off it. Scoot our female duck just sat there with her little legs floating for ages she enjoyed it so much.


The whole time I was walking up and down, the beautiful vixen who always sits at the end of our garden was watching me, no doubt in amazement at my antics. I always think she has the most perfect face I have ever seen on a fox.


I felt so sorry for her sitting in the cold and snow I went into the house and gave her a bowl of dog biscuits before I went inside. While I was sitting in the warm enjoying a cup of tea I sat and watched the fox carefully carrying some of  the biscuits and hiding them around the garden.  When I was talking to my eldest daughter on the phone yesterday evening I told her about the fox's behaviour. Before she was a police officer she worked for two years in the London Wildlife Hospital and she said if a vixen is displaying different behaviour she may be pregnant. I do hope so, she had three cubs last spring and it was such a pleasure watching their antics in the garden as they grew up. 

When youngest daughter got in from work she said she saw, on the way by, the local park was completely packed with families out sledging on the big hill there. All off school, I suppose they deserve to have a bit of fun. Tom said the buses were empty though and he spent most of the day driving round and round with only a few people on his bus. I start to wonder if the days of busy buses will ever come back.

It was such a cold night last night. We leave the kitchen heater on all night when it is cold, for our dogs and Cleo our cat who sleeps pressed up next to it. Cassie our little Yorkie sleeps on our bed and even she got under the covers! I kept waking up and thinking about the poor fox out in this snow. It is still snowing today though only lightly but I think it may be a while before this clears. I have plenty of work to do inside but I will be glad to get out walking again. Have a lovely day everyone and I hope you are all able to stay safe and warm xx

Monday, 8 February 2021

Little Precious Items

 Yesterday was a strange day weather wise. We had quite a lot of snow from dark overcast skies but at regular intervals it turned to sleet so barely settled. It was cold though and I was glad to be inside. Tom was watching sport in the afternoon so I took myself up into the loft to sort out some toys for Scarlett. Everyone laughed at me when I packed up the toys carefully years ago but I said we would be glad of them one day. We have so many, there are new ones for her all the time, without spending any money and I get so much pleasure knowing that all these toys are having a second lease of life and being recycled. I found a little Easter bag with a rabbit on the side that my Mum gave to my eldest daughter with little Easter gifts in probably thirty years ago. I'm going to clean it up and fill it with new Easter gifts. It will feel as if it is partly a present from my Mum to Scarlett too. 

I keep all these little things as I am always taken back to an exact moment and I love remembering it. There was an incident that happened yesterday, that we really laughed about that reminded me of  one of these precious items. In the afternoon, in the middle of one of the heaviest snowstorms, youngest daughter came downstairs  and exclaimed  "Can you hear that!" When we listened, we could hear it too, that wonderful sound that I love, the melodic chimes of an ice cream van! After birdsong I think it is one of my favourite sounds in the world. I think this ice cream van driver was being a bit hopeful though, I hope he managed to sell a few ice creams.

When I was a little girl in the 1960s the ice cream van seemed to call all the time. I would listen for the tinkling music of The Teddy Bears Picnic and ask for an ice cream. As soon as I sat down to eat my breakfast I would be asking "What time is the ice cream van coming?" There was an incident that happened in my childhood that has made me remember these old ice cream vans very clearly.

I was three years old, the same age as Scarlett, my Grandparents had come to stay and I was so excited I ran upstairs to get a new toy I wanted to show them.  I'm not sure what I fell on, but I just remember the blood everywhere and the worried faces looking down at me. An ambulance was called and I remember sitting in it, wrapped in a blanket looking out at my sister and my grandparents as we drove away. My main worry at the time was my little slippers that had horses on and were covered in blood! 

After what seemed like hours of hospital staff, stitches to my forehead and being separated from my Mum, who wasn't allowed in with me, we arrived home in a taxi. Then the final trauma was my bloodied slippers being thrown in the fire! I was lying in the dining room on a little bed they had made up for me and my Dad came home from work. He gave me this little ice cream van and I was so thrilled, all of a sudden the whole day didn't matter. Today it is on a shelf in our living room and I still smile when I look at it. I almost remember the day as a happy memory when I look back all these years later!

We've had more snow over night and my Dad was on the phone at the crack of dawn saying he was going to cancel his doctor's appointment as it wasn't safe going out. The snow is always quite bad where he lives and with less traffic on the road because of lockdown the side roads seem to stay icy longer. So it looks like another day inside for me. I hope everyone has a lovely day staying safe and warm. xx

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Shopping During Lockdown

 During this lockdown we have started using Click And Collect from Morrisons. Unable to get home delivery slots anywhere and fed up with queuing in the rain outside local shops I decided to give it a try, You can order it the day before, choose your slot, then Tom drives to the car park to the pick up point to collect it. If you don't want to get out of the car they will even load it in for you but Tom says there is no way he could sit there watching a couple of young girls doing all the work! On the whole we have been very pleased with the shopping, Only a few substitutions and Morrison's food is nice quality. The only time I go shopping now is for my Dad once a week and that is to his local M&S Food so isn't really that crowded which is why going to B&Q yesterday almost felt like an adventure! 

We decided to go and look at the railings there to see if they would do for our garden plans. We were so pleased with them we bought some straight away. I have learned before in B&Q sometimes they just stop stocking something, usually the one thing I decided to go back and get a while later!  Tom used his new B&Q pensioners 15% discount card. He worked there years ago and now he has turned 60 gets a very small pension from them. As the young girl on the till, who must have been new, had never seen one before Tom explained what it was. "So there you are" I said "That's something to look forward to." She looked horrified! 

I managed to fit in a little bit more tidying in the garden yesterday, more to batten down the hatches before the bad weather really. One thing I am really pleased  about is this little tree that has appeared in a pot with a small oak tree in my Dad potted for me from his garden. I'm not sure what it is and if it has germinated from a seed from his garden or ours but I will put in it's own pot soon and add it to my tree collection. I will enjoy waiting to see if I can identify it as it grows. 


The promised snow has just started here, just a few a light flurries but it is freezing cold. It seems to be on it's way from Kent and I'm really hoping it's not too heavy as Tom and youngest son and daughter are all going out to work tomorrow.  I'm planning to be out early too, travelling over to my Dad's as he has a routine doctors appointment in the morning .I'll just have to wait and see what the rest of the day brings. Have a lovely day everyone and I hope you are keeping warm. xx

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Big Ideas For The Spring

 It was a beautiful day here yesterday and I spent most of it out in the garden. It felt like spring out and about and the sun shone most of the day. I managed to clear lots of the winter rubbish away and do some cutting back that hadn't been finished last autumn. Bulbs are coming up everywhere, it was lovely. All the time when I was working a little robin followed me about singing away. All gardeners seem to have a friendly robin around and I think that is why we love them so much. I am selling a few bits on ebay that are just too valuable to send to a charity shop and am already spending the money in my head, on a new arch and some decorative railings around the flower bed the dogs always run across when they come out of the house. I can't seem to grow anything there and have had to move a few precious plants to further up the garden as since our neighbours have had an extension built it is really shady. That, coupled with the excited dog being let out problem, has turned it into a depressing mess. I have been looking through garden design books and my ideas are running away with me (as usual!). Beautiful ferns, water features. Victorian lanterns. Oh well I'll just have to see what it all sells for. 

It won't be long now until everything is coming into flower. and my lovely little statue Summer is surrounded by colour.


Apparently snow is on the way later today so I will be inside catching up with the pile of jobs there always seems to be. Hopefully it will mean I can finish off the caravan curtains and more sorting out with items for the charity saleroom. 

Finally I will leave you with a song from probably my favourite film ever The Sound of Music. One of the first films I ever saw as a child at the cinema. I doubt there was a year went by in her later life we didn't watch this film on the television with my Mum. We knew every song off by heart after a school concert when I was a child and I had the whole songbook.  I was one of the nuns in the chorus and Mum always laughed she sewed me so tightly into my costume I couldn't raise my arm to wave goodbye in the final scene! This is to remember Christopher Plummer who sadly died yesterday. Have a lovely day everyone and I hope you escape the worst of the weather. xx


Friday, 5 February 2021

Stitching Through The Generations

 With Scarlett's "help" yesterday I finished the repairing of the large crochet blanket. She loves to help, she has her own ball of wool (purple her favourite colour) and she sits busily working in and out of the ball of wool with a crochet hook looking very serious! "I find crocheting very easy" she says as she just winds the wool around the hook! When she is a little older than three I will definitely sit and teach her how to do it properly. It is really something to look forward to. 

The Crochet Blanket

Now the blanket is repaired I just love it. It's enormous, large enough for a big double bed and I have decided not to take it to the caravan. It's strange but repairing someone else's stitching I think you almost build up a bond with them. Whoever crocheted this blanket worked so hard on it it needs to be displayed all the time so I think I will put it on our bed and it will brighten up our bedroom which is very dark. I have another bedspread I will start work on soon for the caravan. 

While I have been repairing the blanket I have been using bits of the wool that I found in my Mum's knitting bag. Ten years ago, when I was really enjoying knitting all the time, she gave me her knitting bag. I remember the day really well. It was in the summer and my sister who worked in a school was off work and was there too. We went out for an Indian meal and had such a lovely time all chatting and laughing as we always did. When we got back to the house Mum told me she had found her knitting bag in her wardrobe and thought I might like it. I could only really remember her knitting when I was very young in the early 1960s so it hadn't been used for nearly 50 years. Apparently my Dad bought it as a present for her just after they got married in 1955. 


I remember we really laughed at the 1950s patterns. I have still kept the knitting my Mum started years ago. 




While we have been mending the blanket, using my Mum's wools it has made me realise that it is a very precious thing passing on crafts and skills down through the generations. Schools don't teach these skills anymore so if it is not taught in the family I think they will be lost. It's not just the skills though it's a love of recycling and reusing that I don't think happens without being taught it. 

The whole day was so enjoyable yesterday. We went out for a walk in the morning and looked in all the shop windows of the closed shops talking about why they were closed at the moment. It reminded me of the days when we used to go window shopping on Sundays when we were children. 


Working and going out walking. Pandemic or not there is still fun if you can enjoy the little things and yesterday was definitely a day of enjoying them. It's lovely and sunny this morning so I hope I can get a few bits tidied up in the garden before the cold weather comes this weekend. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever they are doing. xx
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