Tuesday, 29 June 2021

We're Still Here

 We're still  here. Tom spent so much of yesterday afternoon trying to get the washing machine sorted out he was really tired by the evening when I got back from my Dad's house, we decided it was best for him not to drive drive anymore. Brand new water pipe now in situ, the new (second hand) washing machine is working well. It looks lovely, has managed four loads of washing back to back and it's nice to know I can now put the washing machine on overnight without risking waking up everyone within a two mile radius! 

My sister and I did my Dad's shopping yesterday and incredibly by the time we arrived our wonderful roofer friend had fixed all my Dad's tiles that had slipped and even cleaned out all my Dad's gutters while he was up there. He charged literally a fraction of the price my Dad had been quoted by another company which goes to show you certainly shouldn't go with a first quote.

We're off now for a few days in the caravan. I didn't have time to do much shopping for us yesterday so we're going to explore the local takeaways for tonight's meal which will be fun in a different area. This is tonight's plan. Good Luck England, we may not be able to watch you but we will be with you in spirit. Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Monday, 28 June 2021

What Are We Allowed To Do?

 Tom had an early start yesterday and said the roads were really busy. Sutton was apparently packed with people, no one is social distancing at all anymore. Inside shops I suppose people are encouraged to do so, at least whilst queuing, but apart from wearing masks it seems to be drifting back to normal despite the coronavirus figures going up. I think everyone is just weary of it all now and to be frank I can't remember exactly what the rules are anymore. It is obviously different if there is "an experiment" going on but how many people are allowed inside shops, what distance are we meant to be at and what rule of what ever are we following now. Rule of 6, rule of 10 or rule of 20,000 in a "controlled situation"  I have no idea!  The only rule we all know for sure at the moment in the "social distancing guidelines" is you're not allowed to snog your work colleagues! You can really see how people got "war weary", the poor soldiers in the First World War were still sitting in trenches while everyone at home had lost that patriotic, song singing feeling months before. It must be how NHS staff feel, still slogging on and everyone has lost interest. No clapping for carers, rainbow flags and free meals just people moaning about red, amber and green list countries for holidays. You can really see how it happens. When this is all over we say to each other. I don't think it is going to be all over one day as we imagined, it's going to fizzle out until we gradually forget all about it and the bits still left we just live with without really thinking. It's not really that depressing, just life with the good bits and bad bits.

One event that is back today, in I suppose a "covid secure" way is the tennis at Wimbledon. I don't follow Wimbledon quite as much as I did when I was young but it's still a lovely summer event that I am always pleased to see arrive. I loved Wimbledon when I was a teenager, but the best year I ever remember was 1976. I had finished my 'O' levels in June and was off for the whole of the summer. The longest, hottest summer on record, it was perfect. My friends and I decided we would go to Wimbledon, it was so easy in those days. It was the second week of the tournament and Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Villas were playing on No 1 court, as a 15 year old I thought they were two of the most handsome men in the world! My friends and I got the train to Wimbledon and then the bus and queued outside from about 8am. "Would you like Centre court or No 1 court?" the woman in the kiosk asked us. Can you imagine that today, people camp out all week for the chance of a ticket. Most of the tickets are already allocated to corporate events, no chance for a happy bunch of 15 year olds to enjoy the day anymore. 

We chose No 1 court as that is where Borg and Villas were playing and got seats quite near the front, and apart from a rather annoying pole in the way, had a really good view. No 1 court was small in those days before being totally rebuilt and a roof added. You felt as if you were part of the game it was so exciting. Borg won in straight sets I remember, he didn't drop a set the whole tournament and went on to win the Championship for the first of his five consecutive times. We felt we had been part of it, and that wonderful day is one that is so firmly etched in my memory that even though the sun never seems to shine on Wimbledon as it did in 1976 or even in all those years of my teenage memories, and it is a totally different sort of competition for spectators now, I always look on it fondly. Here are a couple of the photos I took of the game that day.

In present day Wimbledon style the weather is dreadful. It poured and poured overnight and is still raining lightly this morning. Tom is off for the next few days after today and we are planning to go back to our favourite caravan site. The lovely Carol on the BBC says the weather is going to be "a tad unsettled" I have a feeling that may be an understatement but we will still go. It's whether we go when Tom finishes work today or tomorrow morning, we have to decide when we see the forecast. I'm off to do my Dad's shopping today and a roofer who we know locally is going over to look at his roof as it needs some tiles replacing. It's not really the weather for working up on a roof though. Oh well we'll have to see how it turns out. Have a lovely day everyone what ever your plans and what ever your weather. I'll be back tomorrow or soon depending on the weather! xx

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Welsh Roots and Curtain Planning

 When Tom got in from work yesterday we went straight to The British Heart Foundation shop and sadly they didn't have a single washing machine in stock. We were really surprised as we used to be spoilt for choice but one of the men who works there says they sell as soon as they come in now. I suppose it must be a sign of the times at the moment, everyone is looking for a bargain. There was a really lovely selection of fridges and freezers though, maybe as appliances they last longer. We went on to Emmaus and there was not a single one there either! Luckily though, a man who worked there showed us a Bosch machine in excellent condition at the back that had just arrived. It has to be checked by an electrician on Monday and then we can buy it. Our name has been put on it so at least if all goes well we will have a washing machine then. I don't know about other areas but we don't have a single Launderette left in this area. It's hand washing for me today!

After we left Emmaus we went to the garden centre to buy a hanging basket. I normally make up my own but this year my little plants I have grown from seed are very behind and there I don't think there is going to be much of a display, so with the money left over from the lights I bought with my Christmas gift voucher, I bought a really beautiful one. It is the largest hanging basket we have had for years and I'm really looking forward to it at it's best. "I may even paint the front door!" I told Tom. 

Another really exciting thing for Tom that happened yesterday was his Dad's birth certificate arrived. It meant I could fill in the first part of his family tree on Ancestry and all sorts of surprises have turned up already. His Dad was born in a place that despite my ongoing Welsh lessons I wouldn't even try to pronounce, called Mynyddislwyn  in Monmouthshire. His Grandmother was a widow, who's first husband was a soldier in The Monmouthshire Regiment killed on the Somme in the First World War. She had four children when she was widowed, three girls and one boy. Tom remembers visiting an Auntie when he was a child who was much older than his Dad but had no idea she was his half sister. He also knew his Dad had more sisters but had never met them. The surprise that  Tom had no idea at all about was his Dad had a half brother, 14 years older than his Dad. A sailor in the Second World War he was sadly killed in 1941 when HMS Bonaventure was sunk in enemy action. Tom has his same full names, so must have been named after him. His Grandmother was widowed again when Tom's Dad was a young child and she moved to Yorkshire to live near her eldest daughter, the one Tom remembers. It is so easy to see how family's can drift apart, particularly in times of war. We're looking forward to finding out more. 

Despite all Tom's enthusiastic support, Wales lost 4-0 last night and are sadly out of the Euros, so onward to look forward to the England match. A new curtain rail I ordered has arrived for the bedroom and today I'm really looking forward to sorting out some new curtains for in there. I have some old curtains that I may alter or I may just buy some material and make some. Decisions! I do love planning.

Little pigeon Todd is continuing to do quite well. I weighed him last night and he was 170g! He has put on 8g but also he is definitely more active and a bit brighter. He is practicing flapping his wings ready for what would be his fledging time. I think some safe flying lessons will have to be planned soon. Have a lovely Sunday everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Buying Second Hand

 Thank you for all your comments yesterday about telling strangers they look good. The consensus of opinion was that Scarlett should carry on saying nice comments to people and you know what you are all right. I shouldn't worry, I doubt there would be one person who would not be thrilled to receive a nice compliment. Interestingly though it has caused much discussion in our house. Youngest son said although he would love to say compliments he would be too afraid to in case women or even men thought he was "hitting on them." Youngest daughter is 6ft 1inches and is so stylish and pretty she gets remarks every where she goes, she has even had TV companies giving her cards to try and get her to apply for different reality shows when she is out and about, although she says she can't think of anything worse than taking part in some sort of tacky reality TV show! She get's fed up with all the comments but she said when one man wound down his window and shouted "Nice Style!" it made such a nice change from what she usually gets it made her day. Imagine if everyone was as nice as all you people in blogland, wouldn't the world be a happy place!

I had one very annoying thing happen yesterday, our washing machine has completely packed up. It has been making a very loud noise while it was spinning for a few weeks which was rather worrying and then in the last few days has made such an awful screeching noise youngest son came down to say surely the neighbours will be complaining or even worse calling the police! Yesterday it completely died the death. We have a routine with washing machines we have stuck to for years. When we moved into our previous house in 1995 I wanted a really lovely washing machine as with four young children it was on so much. We bought a machine at the top of our price range, didn't think we would need any insurance and then two years later it packed up. Out of guarantee it was sadly going to cost a fortune to fix, I know it was on a couple of times a day but it wasn't a very good advert for the make. One of eldest son's friends said his parents were selling their washing machine as they had a new integral one put in as part of a new kitchen and we bought it for £40. That wonderful Zanussi washing machine lasted for 9 years without a single problem and was the best washing machine we ever had. 

After that we completely changed the way we bought them. We have had two second hand washing machines since then and I'm sure it has saved us a fortune. On the last two occasions, we have bought from the British Heart Foundation shop so  they are checked by an electrician and give revenue for a really good charity too. I always think it is good to buy second hand if possible as it saves the world's resources. So that is where we are off to this afternoon when Tom gets in from work. I hope they have a nice one in stock. 

It's a lovely morning here today, the sun is shining and it makes it so much easier to get all the jobs done that need doing nice and early. I'm going to plant all my little geraniums out in the front garden I got free a few weeks ago. They are still quite small but if I don't put them out soon we won't get any benefit from them at all this summer. I'll walk one of the dogs this morning as we have a busy day ahead! We have to get our shopping done quickly when Tom comes in as he wants to be back in plenty of time for the Wales match. I'm not quite sure Cassie is in the mood for a walk yet though, it's a hard life being a dog!

So Good Luck Wales or should I say Pob Lwc! Have a lovely day everyone I hope the sun is shining on you a bit where ever you are. xx

Friday, 25 June 2021

The Fragility Of Young Lives

 Yesterday Scarlett and I took Cassie for quite a long walk to our local park and beyond it. I have to choose our walk destination quite carefully as there  is only so far she can walk happily and then it starts to become a bit of a chore and I can see she's not enjoying it so much. Cassie is also happy to walk at her pace where as Tess and Layla start pulling and get fed up. On the way we were walking along and a young man of about 20 was walking behind us. I stood to the side and let him pass as we were walking quite slowly. We passed the usual pleasant comments you do as we passed and I noticed how smart he looked. He was wearing beige trousers a very smart shirt and a straw boater hat. He looked wonderful, just as if he had stepped out of the 1930s! Scarlett who has a loud clear voice and has not quite learned she shouldn't pass remarks said loudly "He is very handsome!" Such an old fashioned word! I saw his face brighten and there was definitely a spring in his step as he walked on down the pavement. When he had gone I said to her kindly that even though he did look very nice she shouldn't really pass comments to people like that. She looked so crestfallen and said "Mummy said I mustn't say unkind things to people only kind things." I was at a total loss as what to say really as she is right, but doesn't really understand yet that social restraints mean we can't really be shouting things like "You look nice!" to people in the street. It's a shame we can't though as I'm sure it may brighten people's days. 

We walked round the park and then all the way along the path that takes us almost to Sutton where the path ends so we have to turn round and walk back to the park. It was so full of wild flowers and the grass was so long it was a nice exciting walk for Scarlett and Cassie too. I think the path belongs to the rail company but they have extended the park into it to make a bit of a wildlife walk along the edge of the railway track. There is a chart to show how many different butterflies have been seen but sadly we couldn't see any.

When we got back to the park Scarlett wanted to sit on a bench for a while and she told me she wanted to go and sit on the bench she had seen something had been left on as we walked past. Off we went to find the bench and as we sat down I realised it was a memorial bench to a young 15 year old who had died in the most tragic circumstances in the park a few years ago. I don't usually walk on that side of the park so had never noticed it before. The item left on the bench was heart breaking "What is it?" asked Scarlett who's reading isn't good enough yet to know what it said. "It is something put here by someone who loves their brother very much." I said. That seemed to please her and we sat on the bench and chatted about the squirrels that were running about in the park but I suddenly felt ever so sad at the fragility of young life and wished we had never sat there. 

Next to his name on a plaque was added another plaque advertising Child Line and The Samaritans. Who knows what pushed him to that point but I couldn't help but think if maybe we didn't have some of our social restraints and people really could say things like "You look nice" to people in the street instead of negative things on social media which can hurt people so much, life might be a bit better for young people.

I worried all day yesterday about my friends son who had been knocked off his moped in a hit and run but last night found out although he is hospital with several broken bones he is doing well and hopefully should recover without and lasting effects. My friend is so kind and forgiving, he said the young man who drove off handed himself into police later in the day and he actually felt a bit sorry for him as he only just passed his test and had the car a few days. He said this young lad made a terrible mistake driving off and the lasting effects of that may actually be worse than for his own son as he is now facing so many serious charges. As my friend said "One really bad error of judgement can ruin your life forever." 

I have a day at home today with all the usual things to catch up on. Little Todd is still with us and gained 1g yesterday! I know that is a pitiful amount but at least he didn't lose weight! Eldest daughter looked at him and thought there would only be a 50/50 chance of him surviving and then it is very hard to release him after he has been fed by humans from such a young age. Oh well I'll deal with each problem as it comes along. Have a lovely day everyone what ever your plans. xx

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Dottie Update And Keeping Up Fluid Intake

 I left for my Dad's first thing yesterday morning and he had already been seen by the nurse, had his bloods taken and his blood pressure checked. All seemed well, but the nurse reminded him to drink plenty of liquids in this hot weather. When my sister, my Dad and I were back drinking a cup of tea and chatting about how much we have to drink, my Dad said he doesn't feel thirsty. "I know why that is Dad" I said "I remember from my nursing days when you get older the part of your brain that tells you, you need to drink doesn't work as well." "I've got news for you" he said "as you get older the part of your brain that tells you what day it is doesn't work as well either!" Oh dear. Despite all this, Dad was in good spirits and we managed to get all his shopping and tablets sorted out and the sun was shining on all his beautiful roses which always lifts everyone's spirits.

The little pigeon, Todd is still with us and seems quite bright really. When I left the house yesterday I said to him "All you have to do while I am away is stay alive, can you do that." He blinked his little eyes as he sat in his cage and managed to do what had been asked of him. It is very sad he cheeps and flaps his little wings to try and call his Mum for food and then just sadly pecks in the food bowl. I have got the scales out I used to weigh the baby cockatiels on when I hand reared them so am now able to check if he gains any weight. He was 162 g yesterday so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed his weight goes up not down. 

The office staff at Tom's work are eagerly awaiting a photo of Dottie our dove after they looked after her for a day when Tom had found her. He asked me if I would take a photo of her when I was out feeding the aviary. She's a lovely big confident bird now and seems to be really enjoying her life in the sunshine.

Her favourite part of the day is splashing about in the bird bath. I was trying to get a photo of her enjoying her bath but sadly she wouldn't oblige. It wasn't until I was back in the house showing youngest daughter that she pointed out the fox cub to me!

Scarlett is coming this morning and I'm hoping the rain may stay off for us to get out and about a bit. Our roses have been battered by the rain and need deadheading, I thought it would be a nice little gardening job to teach Scarlett and may start a life long love of roses too. I'm especially thinking of a friend of mine this morning who's son is in hospital after being knocked off his moped last night in a hit and run. He moved to London with his family to The Fens in Cambridgeshire for a safer life so it is very sad. Although he has lots of injuries he appears to be stable but it's a terrible thing to happen to a young man. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

A Busy Day Of Rescuing Birds And Neighbours

 Yesterday I  proved to myself exactly what I had written about yesterday. It's very hard to work from home without being distracted, at least it is in our house! I settled myself down at my desk to work.  I was slightly distracted as a friend of mine and his wife were hiking Helvellyn and along Striding Edge in the Lake District and he kept sharing the most stunning photos in our Whats App group, but as he seemed to only stop about every half an hour to send a photo for us to comment on and encourage him to keep going I kept quite focussed all morning. I caught up with a lot and was feeling very productive and pleased with myself by lunch time. A young woman in Croydon has contacted me asking if I would like some photos her parents have found in the loft of a house they have moved into in. Apparently the previous owners had lived there for decades and decades and although they have contacted them they are not interested in collecting the framed photos (can you imagine!) so the new owners have been trying to find a home for them. The local museum aren't interested either so after an internet search they have found my website and asked if I would like them. I'm not getting my hopes up too much as often people contact me and then nothing materialises, but I have offered to go and collect them so hopefully I will have a few more interesting photos to research soon. 

While I was sitting eating my sandwich and watching the news, Tom phoned and said he was on the way home with a baby pigeon he had found. His work garage had brought in pest control people over the weekend to kill all the pigeons who were roosting in the eaves. Tom had found this little pigeon sitting all alone under a bus which was parked in the corner of the garage. While he was finding a box so the office staff could keep an eye on it during the day until he came back to the garage one of the other drivers said "Just stamp on it, it's only a pigeon." The whole story made me feel so sad, as human beings why we feel we are so superior to animals and why some animals seem to be right at the bottom of the line of caring. The long suffering office staff, they are used to looking after waifs and strays for Tom, looked after the pigeon all morning, and then Tom bought him home on the bus. "How is the dove we looked after?" they asked. Tom promised to send them a photo of her living happily in our aviary. When Tom arrived home I had sorted the cage out and set it up for the poor little chap. He had called him Todd as he found him all alone. That's Todd Sloan which means alone for anyone not familiar with cockney rhyming slang!

I sent this photo of him to eldest daughter who before she became a police officer worked in the, now closed down, London Wildlife Hospital for two years so is quite an expert with this sort of thing. She says it is very borderline whether he will be able to feed himself as he still has some of his yellow baby feathers and will still have been fed by his mother but just learning to feed himself. I tried syringe feeding him as I have had lots of practice with hand rearing baby cockatiels but he just refused to open his beak, hand rearing really needs to start before about three weeks old to be successful, although I have had some successes older. In the end I tried him with softened oatmeal biscuit and later some warm scrambled egg which he did pick at a bit. He's still alive and picking at his food again this morning so I hope he will survive. He spent the evening sitting on my knee on an old towel watching the first half of the England match, so at least even if he doesn't survive he is warm and cared for, which is more than all his poor family. 

In between all this pigeon drama, our lovely jazz pianist neighbour came round as he had accidentally locked himself out of his house and asked if we could help him get in. His house is completely double glazed and it seemed like an impossible task, what an earth do people do in this situation, I had never really thought. In the end he asked Tom to smash the tiny little window in his front door and as Tom has long arms he managed to reach in and open the lock, of course then a glazier has to be found to make his house secure again and between all this and baby pigeon feeding the rest of the day passed by and I didn't get any more work done. While all this was going on my friend made it to the top of Striding Edge and I missed commenting on the dramatic photo of them posing with their dog in triumph! 

With baby pigeon Todd safely back in his cage, I was recounting all the days dramas to youngest daughter, who was sitting watching the second half with us. It was a nice end to the day even if not at all as I had planned. I suppose a life has been saved, our lovely neighbour was safely in his house and England won. I just had to share this photo of Tess and Layla watching youngest daughter eating crisps during the football match. You can see who gives the dogs unhealthy snacks in our house!

I'm off to my Dad's this morning. My sister is taking him for a blood test first thing this morning and then I am going round a little later and we will do his shopping and have lunch with him and then all the other little jobs we have to do. My six monthly blood test at the Royal Marsden is due this week so I will have to try and fit that it too at some point. At least the sun is shining. Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Working From Home And Surviving

 It was a really rainy day yesterday which wasn't very nice but I had so much work to catch up on, it made me feel a bit better about staying in most of the day. I haven't worked at all over the last couple of weeks and you can't work from home and just swan around all the time, so this week there is going to be a lot of catching up. All my income from my two work websites is from commission, so I'll have to find time to catch up over the next couple of weeks. I have worked at home for twenty years and apart from a few times when life has been really difficult with family or my own ill health, I work out a work plan for the day in two hour blocks and it  has all gone really well. Some days I work more than others and fit in around what I am doing that day but always try to work in my two hour blocks, and either work two, four or six hours in the day depending on what else is going on. I make enough money with Tom's wages to get along, and as we always look for ways to save money and aren't really interested in buying expensive items, have managed. I like being my own boss and there is only a few things I miss about going out to work. I am well aware I am rather vulnerable if I am ill but then again I don't have to worry about a company I work for not surviving in difficult times. Whether I sink or swim is really down to me and how I adapt my work over the years. I really enjoy that feeling of independence.

It is a way of life more and more people are having to adapt to. So many people are working from home I do wonder how many will manage as time goes on. I have a large family, which although I moan they distract me, I can't imagine what it would be like working from home all day with no one coming in, in the evening to share your day with. Even though eldest daughter is a police officer, her work is mainly office based now. The team she works on, have adapted to work phones and computers set up at home, online meetings and even court presentations online. Her kitchen is starting to resemble a police incident room! The trouble is sitting at a kitchen table on your own is hard after several months. If Scarlett is off nursery ill and wanting attention, an online meeting with a Detective Inspector and a magistrate takes on a whole new level of stress she hasn't had to deal with before! 

Eldest son and I talk about it all a lot and he often says to me "Human behaviour changes very quickly." He has the most wonderful business brain and I think he is right, there was an article on the news yesterday about the massive new warehouses being built to cope with the parcels waiting to be dispatched from all the online shopping we are now all doing. In a way it is very sad but in another way there are exciting new opportunities for people. I would say to anyone who is worrying about whether their job will survive or who are furloughed and don't know if they will have a job to go back to, to start their own business. There will be new ways forward I'm sure. If I was younger and not so close to our retirement plans (although they still involve another business!) as a dog lover I would start a really good dog boarding kennels. Everyone has gone puppy mad in the last year and many of these people are going to want foreign holidays in the coming years. They will soon discover how hard it is to find good kennels. I think there are lots of new ideas for businesses if you just look around at how life has changed and instead of feeling despair at how things are going maybe we should see it as a new challenge. Eldest son makes me smile, he has a motivational line for every occasion! This is one he often uses.

I'm still catching up with work today and hoping I will be a bit more on top of it all by the end of the day. Tom enjoyed being back at work yesterday though, he said it felt nice being back in the swing of it all, so I know working from home is definitely not for everyone. I'm desperate to get out in the garden to tidy up but I'm trying to be strong today. The snails have been causing havoc with all this wet weather. I managed to save a couple of little plants that I particularly want to make sure survive and have brought them into the kitchen window sill. One is a Tree Peony and the other is a little Silver Birch tree the only ones of them left that haven't been eaten by the snails. 

I only have a few dog walks planned to break up the day today but I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Monday, 21 June 2021

The Special Days Are Today

 The rain stayed off most of yesterday and I met my sister and we popped into Marks & Spencer's to buy lunch for my Dad and we had a really nice few hours chatting and catching up over it. Dad had found an old bottle of really Armagnac brandy from 1931 which is his year of birth. One of his work colleagues had given it to him as a present years ago and he had put it away to open on a special birthday and forgotten about it. "We should have opened it on your 90th." my sister and I joked. "Oh well" he replied "We'll open it on my 100th, and if I don't make it, you can sell it and buy a house!" All joking apart, not quite a house but it is very valuable and another lesson learned not to put things away for best or special occasions as the special days are today.

It was one of the topics of conversation Tom and I had while we were away. It is so easy to always be planning for the future and missing "the now" . We are guilty of it, Tom often says "We'll do that when I retire."  It is nice to think about these things but I think every day I mustn't forget how much pleasure there is in now. You hear it all the time at the moment "I can't wait till this is all over." "I can't wait until next year when I can have a holiday abroad." My friend's husband died very suddenly aged only 58 a few years ago. He was a cheerful chap and the day before he died he visited the boat yard where they kept their little boat. His last Facebook entry on that day was a post saying. "It's a beautiful day here, the sort of day that makes you feel glad to be alive." While it is so poignant to see it, what a wonderful epitaph in another way. Tom and I have both said we are going to try and enjoy every day. I know it is harder for Tom driving round in the London traffic all day, but he says it could be much worse, most of the people he works with are really nice and 90% of the passengers are lovely. I am going to find time today sit down and make a few notes about ways to simplify our lives and enjoy it more. I try to do this sort of thing all the time and then somehow slip back into those days worrying about how I will get everything done I need to to. 

Eldest daughter and Scarlett came round yesterday and I wish I could simplify her life for her! We had a really nice family day though. A perfect day to finish off Tom's holiday and although he was up early today and left the house before 5am, he was definitely rested and refreshed after his break. I've just got to work out a way of keeping that for us!

Even though youngest son has been feeding the foxes, since we have been home the male fox has taken to standing looking in at us reproachfully all the time. Where have you been? I'm sure he is saying! Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Wildlife In The Rain And Thinking Of Fathers

 We came back yesterday from another lovely few days in the caravan. The weather was dreadful, heavy rain, and the caravan and field were shrouded in a low mist that was really eerie. With only one other campervan in the field we walked our dogs around the field and adjacent lane and then sat inside watching the wild birds. We had taken all our food as we had seen the weather forecast and I cooked some lovely meals on the little gas cooker, which rivals our own cooker at home for how well it works. I'm sure we would have got fed up with the rain if it had been so heavy for all our holiday but for a few days it felt cosy and warm, sitting inside listening to it battering on our caravan roof. There were so many swallows in the field we were convinced one would hit our van they were flying so low but they seemed to be too skilled at flying to do this.

We had flocks of starlings descending on the quiet field as well as a resident woodpecker. It was a real pleasure to sit and watch them. 

You can just see George the horse on the left in the top photo. We were getting really attached to him by the end of the two weeks and although Tom's holiday is finished and he is back at work tomorrow we are hoping to go back there when he has days off again in 10 days time. It was lovely to come home though and see youngest son and daughter and catch up with all the chat again.

 I spoke to eldest daughter on the phone who was feeling totally disheartened with trying to move house. They had been looking forward to seeing a beautiful house yesterday that had only just gone on the market. The estate agent called to tell them that although the owners had already accepted an offer they wanted to carry on with people viewing it to "See how it goes". They declined the offer of viewing it as it all seems so underhand. Imagine if they had put in an offer that had been accepted then a while later as they were preparing to move in, were told it had been sold to someone with a higher offer. They have decided they will try to forget about moving for the next few months and wait and see how things go with the property market, which at the moments is definitely all going in the sellers favour.

One of the things Tom and I have talked about in the last few weeks, while we were at the caravan was trying to spend more time tracing Tom's Welsh roots on his Dad's side. Tom is really keen to find out more about his Dad's family and embrace his Welsh roots (could it be because Wales are doing well in the Euros!) as he knows nothing at all. His Dad died a few years after we got married in 1982 and all Tom knows is he settled and married in London as a young man during the Second World War. He didn't even know his grandparents names, although he knew his Dad had sisters. Tom still misses his Dad and sadly there is no one left alive to ask. With one of the most common names in Wales it has been a challenge but I have found his Dad's birth in Newport, South Wales and have ordered his birth certificate last night. Tom is really excited to find out more about relatively close family, he knows nothing about and it felt a bit like an extra Father's Day present for him.

I'm meeting my sister this morning and we are going to see my Dad for Father's Day and have lunch with him, which will be lovely. This afternoon eldest daughter and Scarlett are coming round and later we have a lovely dinner planned. I'm really looking forward to the day and I hope everyone has a lovely day too. I know there will be lots of people feeling sad today who have lost their fathers, like Tom, and I'm particularly sending them lots of love and best wishes. xx

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Allotment Thoughts And Camping Supplies

 It was such a hot day yesterday, Tom and I tried to get the jobs we needed to get done out of the way early in the morning. We went to Lidl  to get food for us at the caravan and for youngest son and daughter for the next few days. We have to remember every animal and bird too as they all have to be fed and watered when we are away. The next job we had to do was locate another gas cylinder for the caravan as our one must be about to run out. It has been really hard, every place we go is out of stock, we were starting to get a bit worried, especially as I saw an item on the news a few weeks ago about camping and leisure items being really low in stock. It is a mixture of a couple of things apparently, problems with importing items due to Brexit and high demand because of everyone holidaying at home this year. In the end we located a bottle at the local garden centre but even then there was doubt if they had any of our size in stock. If any of you are planning  camping or caravanning holidays this summer when the children are off school I would really recommend not to leave items you need to buy until the last moment. Still in the end it was all sorted and we are packed and ready to go back to the caravan for a few days. It looks like it may be going to rain but we don't care we will still enjoy ourselves.

In the end I decided  it was far too hot yesterday afternoon to be out gardening. I will sort it out next week when I have more time. The roses have all come out everywhere and they are looking so beautiful, that is the only thing that makes me feel a bit sad about going to the caravan, I will be missing some of the beautiful flowers at their best. 

I'm particularly pleased with this rambling rose Cecile Bruner I have grown from a cutting from a rose my eldest daughter gave me several years ago. She often gives me flowers as presents and they are all really precious to me, so I'm ever so pleased this cutting has taken so well. I only took the cutting two years ago and it is a mass of buds this year. 

My little trees are continuing to grow. I am even considering applying for an allotment again so I would have more space for them to get established in pots before I decide how I will continue with growing them. We used to have an allotment which we loved but stupidly let it go when I was ill. Faced with more operations and treatment at the Royal Marsden I just felt overwhelmed with everything at the time and it seemed like one more problem so we handed it back but of course now I feel fighting fit again I regret it. The only thing that stops me taking one on is the thought of clearing another overgrown plot again, I'm not quite sure if I could face it. I'll have to have a think. 

When Scarlett and I were re potting more little trees last week I was sweeping up the compost and noticed one little acorn had dropped on to the floor. It hadn't actually grown yet but the acorn had split open and there was a little root growing. I put it in a pot and labelled it and yesterday I noticed it has grown about an inch. When I was telling youngest son he said wouldn't it be wonderful if you could take a photo of that tree everyday for years and put them together in a video to watch how it grows. I know I won't remember everyday but I'm going to try to each week and see how it grows. 

Sadly after youngest daughter got all ready to try and film the bats yesterday evening it poured and poured and there was not a bat in sight. Obviously bats don't like the rain. She is ready though so hopefully if we have another nice evening she may be able to catch them. We're all ready to go back to the caravan this morning. We have a portable TV with us this time so Tom can watch England play tomorrow night. (Didn't Wales do well!) I have doubts we will be able to get any reception but if all else fails I suppose he could go and sit next to the toilets and watch it on his phone! Have a lovely day everyone what ever you are doing. Back soon. xx

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Relaxing Off Grid And Bats

We arrived back from the caravan yesterday afternoon for a couple of days. We felt rested, tanned and ready for anything! Our enthusiasm was slightly  dampened when we arrived home to discover the foxes had ripped the lid right off our food waste bin and rubbish was strewn every where. Youngest son and daughter hadn't had time to clear it up before they left for work (or so they said!) so I had to start sweeping the path as soon as I returned. When I got inside the house though my spirits were soon lifted by a wonderful chatty letter from my lovely cousin waiting for me. What is it about letters that are so special now? Reading her chatty letter with all her news felt so exciting. Technology has taken over our lives and although there is a lot of good in technology, I have definitely realised this past week there is a lot not so good. We had virtually no internet access at the caravan. I managed to post a few photos on Instagram but just had to post them and leave my phone and they could take hours uploading. A lot of the time we had no mobile signal either, I started by feeling a bit anxious about it but then kept reminding myself that before all this technology most of us were completely uncontactable on holiday. As an older teenager, at home with my sister when my Mum and Dad started to take some holidays on their own, we heard nothing from them for two weeks, the only contact we had was a postcard that usually arrived on the day they arrived home! We survived fine so how have we become so obsessed with keeping in contact all the time. 

The day before we left yesterday we went for another long walk with the dogs to Bewl Water. We went really early just after nine as it was so warm and walked all morning. When we arrived back at the caravan and I was getting lunch ready, the dogs were all so relaxed and tired, it made me realise that everyday life takes it toll on animals too. They have loved this caravan life.

After lunch I settled my self down on the sun lounger with my book for a guilt free afternoon doing nothing! There is something about that just sitting, on holiday that I could never do at home, there always seems to be so much to catch up with. A new couple in a very smart campervan arrived at the site and Tom turned his chair round so he could watch all the shenanagans! They spent a long time setting up all their electronic devices and a satellite dish but then realised they couldn't get any internet access. The owners of the site were summoned and after much discussion the van was all packed up again and the owners of another campervan who were parked closer to the house kindly swapped with them. Apparently if you are close to the owners house you can get get access to the internet. Tom gave me a running commentary of the entire proceedings, while I lay on the sun lounger reading and feigning interest. By the time they had set up again they were practically in the toilet block but they seemed happy and they both spent the rest of the afternoon sitting looking at their mobile phones. When I walked over to the toilet that evening, they were in the middle of loudly face timing someone and showing them round their campervan. They were so jolly and friendly stopping their phone conversation to chat to me, with their large glasses of red wine, I couldn't help but warm to them, but it did seem a bit of a shame they weren't really enjoying their beautiful surroundings more.

There is a lot of good on the internet, but I can't help but think life was simpler and less stressful without it, or was it because I was younger then so of course life was less stressful. Tom and I have talked a lot about simplifying our life and our plans for the future, but I also am not going to fall into the trap of not enjoying today. Even on the busiest of days there always seems to be something to enjoy. Youngest daughter couldn't wait to tell me, that over the last few evenings, she has seen bats flying around some large trees near our garden. she said as she was looking out, with her window open around nine o'clock she spotted them. Her old school, just down the road is a listed old building and they often had bats flying around if we went to events on summer evenings so I suppose it is not to far for them to travel. We can't wait to try and film them. 

I have just about forgiven the foxes for all the mayhem they caused. Youngest son is convinced it was not our pair, as they would be too discerning after the wonderful diet they normally get to raid mouldy old food waste bins. I'm having a garden day today, youngest daughter has been religiously watering it while we have been away and left unchecked everything has got really wild, so I better have a bit of a tidy up. That's before I even start on the house! Sigh, I miss my sun lounger! Have a lovely day everyone, what ever you are doing. xx

Sunday, 13 June 2021

A Family Day

 We had a wonderful day at the caravan yesterday. Eldest and youngest daughters and Scarlett came for the whole day. We had really been looking forward to it and apparently Scarlett had barely slept the night before she was so excited. We were so lucky again with the weather and when we arrived we spent the morning showing Scarlett the horses, chickens, dogs and cat at the caravan site. The owners have four dogs including a spaniel puppy, an elderly cat, a Shire horse and ten chickens and a cockerel. The chickens free range all over the caravan site and even come and look in the caravan door so for an animal loving little girl like Scarlett it was just the best day. We sat and ate our lunch outside the caravan watching them and Scarlett chose names for them all, including the cockerel who she called The King! 

After lunch we went for a walk with Cassie, we walked through the woods and down lanes to a field of horses where we stood and stroked them for a long time. It was so quiet it felt as if we were in a different world to home. Along the lane there was a field of llama's, Scarlett was disappointed they wouldn't come over like the horses had as she was longing to stroke them too. I have no idea if llamas become tame enough to be stroked, but these ones just ignored us. 

It was lovely to be together and so relaxed. Eldest daughter particularly has a really stressful job and it was wonderful to see her chatting and laughing and catching up with her sister. I'm sure Scarlett will always look back on this day happily. I tidied up the caravan before we left and I thought how quickly you can get a small space back to normal. We left it all ready for Tom and I to go back to today.

Scarlett chatted the whole way home, we thought she would fall asleep but she wanted to talk about the entire day! When we had dropped them off and we arrived home youngest daughter and I walked down to the Co-op to buy a few bits and we had to go back as youngest daughter had forgotten her mask. She normally wears her mask round her neck all the time when she goes out, to pull up when she needs it, "I completely forgot about it" she said. I did think it really summed up how we had felt all day. 

  I hope everyone who is lucky enough to be enjoying this lovely weather manages to stay cool if you are out and about or having to work in it. Have a lovely Sunday everyone. Back soon. xx

Friday, 11 June 2021

A Poor Pigeon And Back To The Caravan

 Poor Scarlett had a nasty cough and cold yesterday. We went for our walk and she was so proud of her new pink sandals but she wasn't quite herself. I knew she must be feeling ill as when we were in the garden she said she wanted to go inside and watch television. Normally she would be out in the garden until eldest daughter comes to pick her up at the end of the day. When eldest daughter arrived we spent a long time trying to work out how we are going to manage it all when Scarlett starts school in September, eldest daughter is trying to change her hours to fit around it but her partner is starting a new job, still in the police, but based at Westminster later in the year so it is all very up in the air. I just used my usual mantra I use all the time lately, we'll just take each week as it comes and make sure that is OK and then worry about the following week then. Between us as a family I'm sure we can mange it all. 

Eldest son phoned me in the evening to see how our time at the caravan had been. He has been working so hard after returning to work following coronavirus and said there was so much to catch up with after his ten days off. As has been working such long days he had been staying up near his work and yesterday was the first day back home in over a week. He had a terrible shock when he walked into his house, he said at first he thought he had been burgled. Everything in his living room and kitchen was all in disarray but then worse than that he realised there was bird poo everywhere. A poor pigeon had come down the chimney and as eldest son hadn't been home must have been trying to get out for days. It was lying on his kitchen floor dead, he was ever so upset as apart from the hours it took him to clean up he felt so sad for the pigeon who must have had a horrible death. He's so soft hearted things like that really upset him. 

Tom and I are back to the caravan this morning. We are having a long day there and coming back late this evening as tomorrow we are taking eldest and youngest daughters and Scarlett with us for the day. I'm sure the dogs will be thrilled when they realise where we are going. I just had to share a few of the photos of them at the caravan with you. As you can see they are definitely happy campers! 

Have a really wonderful day everyone. I hope you are enjoying some of this lovely sunshine. xx

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Roses Are Blooming

 There is something about being away from home for a few days that makes you return refreshed and ready to deal with anything. I always return with new ideas, new plans and hopes. My Mum always used to laugh at me when I as a child, I would always be tidying my bedroom, organising my school books or out in the garden training our poor little poodle with a view to entering Crufts within an hour of returning home from holiday and I am no different now. I had written a list while I was in the caravan of things I needed to take back with us when we return. Items that I thought while we were there would just make life slightly easier if we had and I spent part of yesterday getting them together. 

Then there was the garden! I know I like a wild look but it has gone a bit mad in the last week so I spent part of the day cutting back and weeding. The roses are starting to come out now and the Albertine rose on the arch has flowered for the first time. It is a mass of tiny buds so if I keep dead heading I will be able to prolong the flowering as much as possible. It is not a repeat flowering rose, this early summer display is all we will get so I intend to make the most of it.

Another rose that has just bloomed is the one my eldest daughter bought me last year for my 60th birthday. It is a David Austin rose called This Sceptred Isle after the speech in Shakespeare's Richard III by John of Gaunt. As John of Gaunt is an ancestor of ours she thought it would be fitting. 

Another rose in the garden I love is this one called Hot Chocolate. It is another rose that seems to have a burst of colour in early summer and then finishes but it is worth it for how beautiful it is. 

So much of my hard work has been ruined by slugs and snails, it is rather disappointing. There are certain plants and seedlings I won't bother trying again but there are others that have done really well. I'm not going to be disappointed, it is what it is, I'll just concentrate on the successes. One thing that hasn't done very well at all this year seems to be our fruit trees. Last year we had a wonderful crop of cherries and plums but this year it is all much later and definitely not so much. I'm sure it is because of the bad weather we had in early spring and I feel for fruit farmers who I'm sure must be having the same problem.  

When I feel disheartened with plants that haven't done so well, I just need to look at all my little trees and I feel cheered up. Scarlett and I re potted so many of  them last week and she was thrilled that they have grown from acorns and berries we planted last autumn. We still have more to repot and label today and it will be a fun way to spend the afternoon. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

At The Caravan Site And A Trip To Bewl Water

 What a beautiful part of the world it is along the Kent, East Sussex border. I have visited there lots of times but in the last few days have completely fallen in love with it. Thank you so much to everyone for wishing me well on our break away, your best wishes have obviously worked as with the sunshine and countryside it feels as if we have arrived in paradise. The area may even be overtaking Scarborough for me! We have popped home for a couple of days to catch up with a few commitments and look after Scarlett tomorrow but I'm missing it so much already.

Our little corner of the field is so peaceful. As it has been very warm we have been sleeping with the caravan windows open at night. In the morning I lie there, breathing in the fresh air coming in the window and I can hear a cockerel crowing in the distance. It is the only sound I can hear apart from the birds singing. 

All we have done is walked the dogs and sat and relaxed. We visited a place called Bewl Water which is a reservoir in The Bewl Valley which straddles the Kent, Sussex border. It was constructed in the 1970s  and supplies water to many of the towns around the area. It was so beautiful, we had one of the nicest walks we have ever had with the dogs. 

There is boating, water sports and fishing or you could hire a bike and cycle or walk the full 12 1/2 miles around the perimeter. It was a perfect way to spend a morning.

By the time we got back to the caravan we were all exhausted but a nice exhausted. The dogs are really enjoying the outside life and being with us all the time. I just wish I could replicate this life, in every day life. 

Our internet connection is terrible, I managed to post some photos on Instagram but they took about an hour to upload and pages just won't load. However very quickly I realised that was part of the benefits of being here, no TV, no internet, what coronavirus? There is also a poor little crow that can't fly very well. We have called it Master Crow and Tom drove down to the local Co-Op to buy some sausage rolls to give it. So it is just like being at home really! Have a lovely day everyone. Back soon. xx

Sunday, 6 June 2021

A Room With A View

 We took the caravan yesterday morning down some of the prettiest but narrowest little lanes in Kent and East Sussex yesterday without any real mishaps. The little Caravan Club Certified Location site we are staying on is beautiful! Certified locations are very small caravan sites set up by farmers or people with land who are allowed to have up to five caravans on site at one time. This one is so spacious and we have our own electricity hook up. The really kind helpful man who runs the site had chosen us an area at the end under the trees so it would be shady for our dogs. It is one of the most spacious pitches we have ever had. The only slight downside is the internet access is rather sketchy but that is quite nice in one way as I have books and sun lounger! For the first few days we are just going to relax and walk the dogs.

We have a totally private area next to the hedge where we can sit outside and eat our meals if the weather is nice. All you can hear are the birds singing. After all the effort of getting it, we couldn't bring ourselves to put up the awning as it would block our beautiful view. This is the view we look out of the caravan to. The only houses we can see are a few typical Kentish Oast houses that are dotted all over the place in the area. 

I'm going to take lots of photos of the area and our caravan inside and out over the next few weeks but I may have to wait until we pop back home for a day to post them online because of problems with the internet in the area. I hope everyone has a really lovely Sunday and manages to enjoy some sunshine. xx

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Rain And Power Cuts

 What a day it was yesterday, it poured nearly all day. We couldn't polish the caravan as I had hoped but at least we were relieved to see it didn't leak after being stored under a cover for the winter. After the beautiful sunshine of the last few days it was very disappointing. On the way to my Dad's we drove past Epsom Racecourse, with limited numbers of people arriving to watch The Oaks. Today is The Derby, normally 100,000 people attend but because of coronavirus restrictions only 4,000 people are allowed to this year. I'm not complaining as it means it will be much easier for us negotiating the traffic today as we set off. I did feel sorry for the people arriving in the rain yesterday.

I had hoped to buy food to take with us today but our local shops had just had a power cut when I walked down there yesterday evening. You wouldn't believe the chaos it had caused. Alarms were going off everywhere and the staff were standing outside the shops looking bemused. None of the tills seemed to be working and if they were card payments weren't going through. How could a few minutes of loss of power caused such mayhem. The staff in the Co op were practically on a high security, red alert kind of stress level. One of the staff was walking up and down on his phone trying to call for assistance and the other young man was calling out to the queue outside the shop "You'll have to bear with us, we have just had a massive power cut." This whole drama was accompanied by the ear piercing ringing of the alarm. I abandoned my shopping trip and went home! I did wonder though what is the difference between a power cut and a massive power cut! It has now left me with an early morning trip to the shops now to add to other things I have to do. 

Tom and I are taking the caravan to the Kent countryside this morning to set it up ready for our trips away. I do get a bit nervous taking the caravan down those tiny country lanes but hopefully we will get there unscathed. I just wanted to share with you this newspaper cutting one of my friends in my old school friends group posted last night. The small group of us who have been friends for quite a while have been planning a bigger reunion later in the year to mark 50 years since we started secondary school. People are coming we haven't seen since we left school, it is exciting but rather nerve-racking too. What will all of us make of each other now. Only time will tell but I do hope the evening doesn't turn out like this! Have a lovely day everyone.xx

Friday, 4 June 2021

I Love Scarborough!

 An old school friend of mine, who is in our WhatsApp group went to Scarborough yesterday for work. He used to be a top end chauffer but sadly his business hasn't survived the pandemic and as he has had to take a job as a delivery driver for him and his family to survive. He never moans and looks on the bright side of every day telling us all the places around the country he is visiting he has never been to before and posting photos of where he is today. He is a Londoner through and through, a pie and mash, jellied eels sort of guy, who is a bit suspicious of anywhere up North! I think yesterday was an eye opener for him "It's not half bad here!" he said, in fact he was full of it all day. I was so envious.

I absolutely used to love Scarborough! I'm almost too scared to go back as in my mind, I have such wonderful memories of being there, it has become a sort of paradise. There is a list of the 10 most Heavenly places on earth, well I think Scarborough should be added! So many of our childhood holidays were spent there. We would take our caravan and all I can remember is fun and sea and sand. Often when we lived up there we would just go for the day and I can quite clearly remember the main reason I loved it. The donkeys! I decided when this photo was taken, at three years old I want a donkey and all my life I have said I would get one.

I'm sure the beaches are much more crowded now than those wonderful days when we would picnic on them, I am so lucky to have these happy memories.

I can't tell you how ridiculously pleased I was yesterday that my friend liked Scarborough. I would have been so sad if he had been bad mouthing it and saying it was a dump. We won't be able to go this year but it's somewhere definitely on my top ten list of places to go. 

It's raining at the moment but I think it's just a small hiccup in what is set to be a nice spell. We are going to see my Dad today and do a few last minute checks on the caravan. I have a busy day ahead so better get on. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever your plans. xx
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