Monday, 30 November 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... is fed up with the cold and rain, and is feeling a bit stir crazy.  I had plans to take some photos by the canal today but it is way too wet to consider going out.  Things are so bad that I've actually done all the housework today (I usually do it in small stages throughout the week), attempted some of the puzzles in my new puzzle book (harder than I thought they'd be!) and have started moving furniture around in the living room; I'd moved it all round last week and wasn't completely happy with the new arrangement so am now making some more changes to make it work, and look, better.
Saturday was very busy with the band; final practice in the morning and then the first of the Christmas commitments in the late afternoon when the band played at the Shopper's Carol Service in the Parish church.  We played a selection of carols before and after the service started (as people were arriving and leaving) and also accompanied some of the singing. We were really pleased with how the children performed - they did well, and for three of them it was their first ever public performance.
Sunday saw a trip to Bath with my photography friends and a photographic treasure hunt around the Christmas Market.  The weather was appalling, although the heavy rain actually held off for the hour we allotted to complete the hunt, and unfortunately there were just too many people around to be able to take any decent photos.  None of us were particularly happy with our efforts (being jostled by the crowds resulted in lots of blurry images!) but we all completed the list and enjoyed a chat over coffee in the café afterwards. I was glad to get home to a warm house and just shut the miserable weather outside.
As for the rest of today ... I have no plans.  I'll finish rearranging the furniture and then just see what takes my fancy. 
Hope you all have a good Monday.
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

It's Nearly Time ...

. . . for this year's Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt, hosted by Joy and myself.

Please feel free to copy and use the above photo, and keep a look out for the list which will be released on Tuesday 1st December. We really hope you can join us, the more the merrier.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Five on Friday


One | Here's some random photos taken during the week:

Two | Continuing with my attempts to do a new thing every day, here's what I've been up to this week:
  • Saturday, I watched Independence Day for the first time
  • Sunday, I tried camomile tea for the first time   
  • Monday, I starting learning a new piano piece
  • Tuesday, I listened to The Archers on iPlayerRadio - I've honestly never listened to this before
  • Wednesday, I had lunch with a friend in a new-to-me coffee shop in town
  • Thursday, I tried a hot chili chocolate drink - definitely a keeper! I've eaten chili chocolate before (yum) but had never tried the hot drink version.
  • Friday, I'll be having my first meal in Julie's new house - it's our tradition to have fish and chips on moving day once everything is in the new home.  Between us we've moved home 9 times, which is how we can have a 'tradition' for this type of occasion!
Three | In January, I plan to have a meat free month so I'm on the look out for new recipes, and/or new ways of cooking vegetables.  Any suggestions, or links to tried and tested recipes, will be very much appreciated please.

Four | I've made some big decisions - well, they're big to me!  I may have already mentioned that I've decided to sell my saxophone and oboe; I no longer play them for my own enjoyment, and if I do decide in the future that I'd like to do some private lessons, it won't be for these two instruments. 

I've also decided to sell the doll's house. It's taken me ages to reach this decision but I'm now sure it is the right thing for me to do.  It was bought when I lived in a much bigger house so, now I've downsized it seems to dominate the room and to be honest, I don't have enough space for it. The main reason though, is that is was something we were going to do together; Ced was going to make lots of things for it and of course, that can never happen now.  I can't get past the fact that anything I'd do now would feel like a compromise to me, so it feels best to sell it and let someone else get the enjoyment from it.  I can always buy another (smaller!) doll's house in the future if I still feel that I want one.

Five | Yesterday I celebrated my 60th birthday.  It didn't quite go according to plan as I was supposed to be lunching with a friend who cancelled due to sickness. I'd just put the phone down from talking to her when it rang again and this time it was Julie who'd been let down by the person who was supposed to be helping her finish packing up the house ready for the move today.  So we joined forces and I spent the day with Julie getting everything ready: cats to the cattery, tropical fish to my house, precious fragile things to my house, 3 rooms and all bathrooms emptied and cleaned.  We had a Chinese takeaway last night - a sort of 'birthday party/last takeaway in that house/looking to the future' meal, which turned out to be a lovely impromptu way to end the day.  Despite the change of plans I had a lovely birthday with people who I look on as family and who count me as family too.  It couldn't have been better.

birthday flowers, a gift from Julie and her daughters
I'll be seeing my twin sister next week (when she's back home) for our joint 'it's our birthday do' (probably another takeaway, but Indian this time), so birthday celebrations will continue for a while and will, as usual, get mixed in with the start of the Christmas activities - carol playing with the Youth Band starts tomorrow when we play at the Shopper's Carol Service in the Parish Church.

Thanks go to Amy for organising this link up.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Photo Pairs

I had to dodge the rain showers to get today's photos, but I suppose it serves me right for leaving it to the last minute!  Here's ...


These were taken just round the corner from home, from the towpath on the opposite side of the canal from the boatyard.
Thanks to Helena for creating this wonderful weekly link up.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

On Tuesday

reading 'The Night Falling' by Katherine Webb (I have to finish it for next week's book group!)
booking some tickets for shows in 2016
listened to The Archers for the first time ever (on iPlayerRadio)
food shopping; ringing the changes with different recipes
practicing the piano
teaching this afternoon in a local school (one of the ones I'm keeping for now)
bumping into someone I haven't seen for years and chatting for ages as though we last saw each other only yesterday
hearing from Julie that her moving day has been confirmed for this Friday (27th)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... tucked up in the warm and pottering about at home.
My 'new thing' for today is a new piano piece, which I've never played before and which, if I'm totally honest, I still can't play.  It isn't going well! I'm not giving up on it (well, I have for today) and so far I've sorted about half of it but that part still need more practice.  At least I've started playing the piano again which is one of the things I want in my life.
It was a quiet, not doing much sort of weekend.  After band practice on Saturday morning, I didn't leave the house again.  Julie called a couple of times to drop off more of her stuff and for me to print out a document that was needed urgently, but apart from that I spent the time alone ... thinking and planning!
My first week of retirement has made me realise that I need to learn to say 'no' to people, otherwise all this extra time isn't going to benefit me.  I don't mind helping out in an emergency but I don't want to be a regular babysitter (for a friend's grandchild) or get up early every day to provide a taxi service to a neighbour's son!  I did manage to say 'no' to those two requests but lately, conversations seem to be full of other people's ideas of what to do with my time (which in some way seems to benefit them!) but with no real understanding of what I do actually want to do.  With that in mind, I'm adding a couple of activities into my week - joining the adult recorder players on Wednesday mornings, and having a go at line dancing (provided there's a place for me in the group) on Thursdays.
As for this week, I don't have much on which I'm secretly relieved about now that the cold frosty mornings are with us - I'll be out with my camera hoping for some interesting photos.  Oh, and there's a special birthday celebration as well!  Hope you all have a good week.
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Five on Friday | Love the Little Things

A combined post this week, merging Love the Little Things and Five on Friday.
Read | I'm still reading Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, which I started back in mid October. It hasn't really grabbed my attention so far, although I know that a lot of my friends have enjoyed it and recommend it.  I'll get to the end because a friend's daughter loaned me the book and she really rates it, so I'd like to be able to discuss it with her.  I keep putting it down for other reads, one of which was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which I thoroughly enjoyed and is the best book I've read for a long time.  
Watched | On Tuesday I went to see The Lady in the Van and last night I went to see an NT Live screening of Of Mice and Men. Both had laugh out loud moments followed by heart-breaking sadness, and I admit to shedding a tear at both of them.

Heard | This week I listened to a short play on the radio; Three in One, which is one in a series of plays starring David Threlfall.
Made | Lots of lists!  Christmas presents/cards list, ideas for daytime things to do/places to go, photos I want to take, films I want to see, books I want to read, and recipes I want to try.
Worn | Red seems to have been my favourite choice this week - red tops paired with black skirts, or jeans.
And Lastly ... I set myself the daily challenge of trying something new, or re-introducing something I used to enjoy back into my life.  This is to mark the start of my retirement.  Here's what I've done over the past few days:
  • Tuesday | I tried a sticky toffee latté at Costa Coffee.  I'm supposed to avoid milk in my diet, so have never had anything like this before.  It was a bit sweet, and although I enjoyed it, I did suffer the next day so have no wish to repeat the experience!
  • Wednesday | I played two new to me games at the games night: Blokus and Kensington.  Both were easy to learn and fun to play, so hope they make an appearance at future games nights.
  • Thursday | I listened to a play on the radio.  This is something we used to do regularly, especially when my late partner was in hospital, but which I've not thought about doing since I moved into this house.  It was a pleasant way of passing an hour and is something I'll be doing again soon.
  • Friday | Well I haven't done it yet, but I'm going out for a meal later tonight and will be having a curried fish dish. I love curries but have never eaten curried fish - I'm looking forward to this one!
Thanks go to Morgana and Amy for organising their weekly link ups.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Barney and Me

Yesterday I went to the cinema to see the early evening screening of The Lady in the Van (excellent: both sad and funny, a very moving story) and then had to fight my way back to the car park through the winds and rain that was Storm Barney. Needless to say, I arrived home soaked through and cold, but nothing that a soak in the bath couldn't remedy.
So, one warm bath later and wrapped in my dressing gown, I was about to settle down with a relaxing mug of hot chocolate.  Picture the scene ... mood lighting from a single lamp, CD playing quietly in the background, and I was closing the blinds to shut the night out and savour that feeling of being safe and warm inside while the storm raged outside. I'd just reached the French doors leading onto the garden and pressed my nose to the glass to see if I could see what was happening in the garden when something smacked against the outside of the glass. 

One screaming fit later, I plucked up the courage to turn the outside lights on and try to see what had hit the glass door. The lights revealed my favourite clematis doing some sort of breakdance along the decking, smacking into the glass doors at regular intervals.  The storm had ripped the top of the plant from its trellis but it still seemed to be rooted, so I thought the best thing to do would be to chop it off and see what it looked like in the morning.

So, dressed only in my dressing gown I ventured out into the stormy night to look in the garage for the secateurs.  Of course, I couldn't get to the light switch because all of Julie's things are still piled in front of it, so it was a case of hunting in the dark.  I don't know why I didn't have the gumption to wear a coat over my dressing gown, but all I can say is the cold wind was getting everywhere!  A life time later, at least that's what it seemed like, I found the secateurs and cut the clematis away and stuffed it in an empty compost sack in the back of the garage - not as drastic as it sounds as it needed to be done but I'd planned to wait for more favourable conditions! 
Looking at it this morning I can see that it has uprooted itself on one side so I've tucked it all back in and am hoping that it survives. There's no other damage thankfully, just a few twigs and various bits of greenery that appeared from I don't know where, which only took a few minutes to pick up and dispose of.  I've been luckier than some of my neighbours, who lost fence panels and wheelie bins.  Just wish it hadn't been my favourite plant that took the biggest hit ... still it's quite resilient so it should grow back as healthily as ever.  Time will tell! 

Photo Pairs

You may be relieved to hear that this is my last pair of photos from the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  Here's the whomping willow in the early stages of its creation ...

To save me typing the purpose of the white-card models, here's a photo which explains it all!

Thanking Helena for organising this weekly link up to her clever meme.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

I'm Following a Tree | November 2015

With my 'better late than never' hat on, here's my tree following post which is over a week late and I've missed the link up! 

As you can see, it has dropped most of its leaves.  A few are still clinging on for dear life ...
but the majority of them form a blanket on the ground around the base of the tree.

Most of the seeds have been dispersed but there are plenty of the male catkins still holding their seeds.  I don't know if this means that they've missed their chance for this year or whether they will continue to release their seeds through the rest of autumn.
I don't know if the tree is confused by the mild weather but there are also fully formed female catkins ...
... and lots of buds. Maybe this is normal, but I hope the colder winter weather to come doesn't kill them all off.

 A photo of the bark - my favourite part of the tree.

  And the view up through the canopy, now devoid of its leaves.

Thanks to Lucy @ Loose and Leafy for creating this meme and to Pat @ The Squirrelbasket for taking it on while Lucy sorts out her computer problems.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Me on Monday

Me on Monday ... is a lady of leisure, taking it easy and enjoying the peace and quiet. This is the first day in this new stage of life where my routine is obviously different.  Last Monday I was working in two different schools teaching flute, clarinet and recorders, and today I'm at home with nothing planned at all.  I deliberately didn't make plans for today because I didn't want to rush into anything, opting to take time over the next few days to see how I feel about things and deal with how I'm feeling.
Well today actually started quite late - I slept in until just before 9 o'clock, which is unusual for me as I usually wake up around 6 o'clock.  Probably the result of a busy weekend - band etc., on Saturday and yesterday was taken up with a photo walk in the afternoon and a quiz in the evening. With one exception it was a good weekend; lots of chat with friends, having time to take photos, discovering a new café which served the most wonderful cakes and which is now noted for future visits, and making plans for future meetings with friends.  So, I went to the quiz feeling pleasantly tired but relaxed and came home feeling uptight and completely out of sorts.  There was a group of five of us in the quiz team (4 regulars and 1 new one) but the behaviour of two of them ruined the evening, not only for me but for one of the other ladies as well. These two were sitting at opposite ends of the table and spent the entire evening talking shouting to each other in such a way that you could tell they thought they were being amusing but were actually being extremely annoying.  They were so loud that we missed a lot of the questions and they wouldn't respond to polite requests to listen when the questions were being asked. So not a very enjoyable evening and I think that if it happens again next month, I'll try to find another quiz team to join.
This all meant that I woke this morning in a strange mood, just a bit down but not enough to worry about.  I eventually got my act together and left the house to do today's errands - post a parcel, buy some printer ink (why does it always run out when you have something important and urgent to print?), and then some shopping in Sainsburys where I was pottering about the aisles when I had to stop myself from bursting into tears: I don't know why, but probably the anti-climax after finishing work and the frustration about the quiz night mixed in with being tired, and then the horror of the events in Paris which has affected everyone this weekend.  Anyway, I took some time out in the café to calm down and pull myself together, and then finished my shopping and came on home. I've felt like my normal self ever since, so that release of emotions was obviously something that my body needed.
One of my blogging friends is challenging herself to try something new everyday for a year.  Whilst I don't think I can manage a whole year, I do plan to mark the first month of my retirement by doing my own version of that challenge; either something new, or reintroduce things that I haven't done for ages. They are only going to be small things, nothing expensive.  On Saturday it was a first time thing when I played the main melody in the Christmas carols (usually I play part 3, but on Saturday I was asked to help out on part 1 - I've played the main melody before with the band but this is the first time ever on the carols!!).  On Sunday I explored Marlborough town centre;  I've been there a few times but never strayed from the main high street, but yesterday I ventured down lots of the alleyways and side roads.  Today, I've reintroduced the Telegraph crossword to my life.  We used to do this every day but stopped when Ced's illness progressed and he became too tired to bother with it.  I don't know that I'll do it every day but, so far I've enjoyed the challenge of puzzling out the answers. If you can solve any of the clues in the photo at the top of this post, please feel free to post the answer in the comments - I'm not too proud to ask for help!   
Tomorrow I'm off to the cinema to see The Lady in the Van, and on Thursday I'm going to see an NT Live screening of 'Of Mice and Men', both of which I'm really looking forward to. Hope you all have a good week.
Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.