Friday, 18 August 2017

Day 1: Good Intentions

The subtitle to this post could be ... 'I have to do something!' so I'm embarking on another Project 365 where the focus is on being active, being positive, and living life in the moment. It will also encourage me to continue blogging!

Partly it's about getting on and making the changes I need to make in order to change things for the better, starting with being generally more active. I'd been debating whether to get a Fitbit for ages so, no more thinking and more doing, it arrived yesterday.

I'm waiting for it to charge and then I'll tackle the set up! 

It's been raining on and off all morning which means that the plan to go for a walk this afternoon may not happen. Plan B is to list some more things for sale followed by some music practice. I've let my personal practice slip to the point where it is non-existent and is near the top of my list of aspects of life that need to be sorted out.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook | Thursday 13th July 2017


Outside my window ... it is overcast with a gentle breeze. Everything looks fresh (and not too battered) after the recent rain.

I am thinking ... that it is time to get my act together and start blogging again. I've had a bit of a wobble in overcoming the depression but am on the mend again. I'm trying to keep life simple so will only be blogging occasionally for now.

I am thankful ... that it is the school holiday and that, after this coming Sunday, I have no teaching or playing commitments until September. I have taken the decision to cut back on the teaching from September (to do with the office politics rather than the actual work with the children) so life is going to be different. I'll still be working with children (i.e. recorder lessons and clubs, and also the youth band) but no more work for the company I provide individual brass and woodwind lessons for.  

In the kitchen ... it's all tidy for once. I'm sitting at the dining table to type this, the radio is on and at one end I can see clean, empty work surfaces and the other end I can see out into the garden.

I am wearing ... skirt, t-shirt and cardigan. None of it matches and I look like a 3 year old that's been allowed to dress herself!

I am creating ... photos for the summertime photo scavenger hunt. I hope to post some at the weekend.

I am going ... to take part in a psychology study at Bath University this afternoon. It's my third time of taking part in this study which is to do with the differences in how the over 50s differ from people in their 20s in their approaches  to savings and investments.

I am wondering ... whether I will get the third bedroom emptied in time for the decorator to start painting next week. It's taking longer to empty the room than I thought it would!

I am reading ... 'Far From True' by Linwood Barclay. I'm gradually working my way through some books that have been in the bookcase for ages (ages = years!). It's not a very demanding read but it suits my mood and I'm enjoying it.

I am hoping ...  to arrange a couple of theatre trips to London. A new-to-me company is advertising coach trips from Bath to London for £5 each way and they also offer a choice of later return journeys that National Express. It means that I'll be able to go to a matinee performance and catch the coach back without worrying about the time. I'm trying to get tickets to Les Miserables (again) and Kinky Boots.

I am looking forward to ... friends coming to stay for the weekend. It's a last minute arrangement so they're going to have to manage without me for part of the time as plans have been in place for months at band to take the children busking on Saturday and to play at the Civic Service on Sunday. 

I am learning ... no, I can't think of anything I'm learning. There must be something but my mind has gone blank!

Around the house ...  I'm moving everything from the little bedroom down to the living room. Most of it has to be either sold, donated or skipped so it's just a case of getting on with it. I've taken photos and am ready to place adverts for the majority of the things for sale, and I've also sent about a third of the stuff to the skip. This will be the end of the decluttering of the house ... at long last! 

I am pondering ... whether to get the air conditioning sorted on my car. As soon as the hot weather arrived and I wanted to use it, it went wrong and will be very costly (in excess of £600) to repair. I have the money but am struggling to convince myself that it is worth that sort of expense when I can just as easily open the car window.

One of my favourite things ... early morning walks before everyone is out and about and I have my favourite route all to myself.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... apart from the university study this afternoon and the band commitments at the weekend, I don't have any firm plans. I'll just see what happens.

A peek into my day ... I'm feeling stressed dealing with the fallout from my resignation from certain teaching commitments, even though everything that could be said was covered in the letter and the first conversation. 

A favourite quote for today ...

"Without music, life would be a mistake", Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Take Three Thursday

Lack of a camera means that I've had to choose three photos from my archives for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday this week.

I've chosen three photos of the clematis that grows against the back wall of the house. This is the one that I thought I'd lost but it has coped well with lots of tender loving care neglect and seems to be thriving. Although they are old photos, they show the plant as it is currently looking.

I have cut out as much of the dead growth as possible and
clipped it to the trellis until it starts to support itself.
Lots of buds so it's going to be a good year for flowers.

close up of one bud, taken early evening during the 'golden hour'

there are two flowers open this morning - it's doing well in spite of me!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Summer Fun Photo Scavenger Hunt

Edited to remove incorrect info.

Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards has published the list for her summer photo scavenger hunt. It's open to everyone, the more the merrier, so I hope some of you will join in. The hunt runs from Jun 1st to Sept 30th and all photos should be taken during that time. If you have any other queries just pop over to her blog - she'll be happy to help.

Now for the important bit - here's the list ...

1.     Something fuzzy
2.     Bubbles
3.     A web
4.     A zig zag
5.     A seasonal relaxing space/item
6.     A pipe
7.     The inside of something
8.     Rust or something derelict
9.     A kite or balloon
10.   Something Yellow
11.   A toy only found out during June to September
12.   A wedding
13.   A dome
14.   Someone fishing
15.   Something crafted from wood
16.   A baby (human or animal)
17.   Circles or crosses in architecture
18.   A fan
19.   Feet of man or beast
20.   Something found under ground
21.  A plaque
22.  A dial
23.  Something powered by wind
24.  Seasonal food or drink
25.  A hat

I''ll be joining in as soon as I get my camera back from its service. 

Come And See The Garden, pt 1

Before we start, I'd better mention that the photos were taken a couple of weeks ago when I first intended to write this post and things have come on since then. I can't take any new ones today, or for the foreseeable future, as a) my camera has gone for a service and b) it's pouring with rain.

We'll start in the space behind the garage.

Believe it or not (as I'm having difficulty believing it myself!) I actually assembled the wooden compost bin without any help - that sounds so easy. However, I'd completely underestimated the effort this build required, but repeated bouts of fighting with the wooden pieces together with a few rests and lots of coffee and cake and somehow it's finished and shows no signs of collapsing. I chose this one because of the simple (!) slot together build, but I hadn't considered that the strength and rigidity of the structure was achieved by the tight fit of the individual pieces and I struggled with the final slot on each level. It's in use and if it collapses now, I'm buying a plastic one!

Next to the compost bin are the wheelie bins and the water butt. The green bin will be returned to the council as I don't pay for the green collection and the other two wheelie bins (once they've been cleaned) will be kept in the garage as this will be a lovely place to sit, but that can't happen until I get rid of the gravel that's currently bagged and stored in the garage. One idea is to train a plant to grow against the garage wall and along the side fence, and to have the bench in front of it. That's for the future though. The water butt still needs some attention. It was right in the corner before the paving was installed and now that it's been moved the connection from the drainpipe keeps breaking. It's decision time before I invest in getting it sorted as it may be best to replace it with a bigger one.

The bed you can see in the photo has now been planted with donated cosmos plants, courtesy of one of my pupil's grandma, which will provide some colour for this year. In the front of the bed I've planted some phlox (pink flowers), and over on the other side there is a camellia (white flowers). I plan to throw some perennial seed mix in this bed to fill up the space at the back and then sit back and see what happens!

I arranged for a friend of a friend who specialises in trees to have a look at the crab apple tree and it is now staked to try to straighten the trunk. I think it looks a bit extreme but he is confident that it will be effective so, although I ignored the other gardener's advice about the clematis (more about that later!), I'll heed his advice about the tree. For now!  

In the bed with the tree are some grasses (planted in their pots, following a suggestion by Laydkis) - carex 'ice dance' and scirpus cernus for now, although I think it unlikely I'll need any more once these have grown. There are also snowdrops and crocosmia bulbs planted around the stones. I just have to put the bark down to finish this bed for now, but will be adding more bulbs in the future. Amy suggested that I use gravel but I want a change and also thought that it might be too much stone all around.

There are also a couple of pink phlox plants and two different varieties of thyme. The phlox isn't doing too well in this bed so I bought the pinks you can see in the photo and which are now planted near the back fence so that the (eventual) sweep of colour across the garden won't be broken if the poorly plants don't recover.

I've now settled on reusing the pebbles to fill the gap around the edge of the paving.  I've done half of it but have to wait until I can get to the rest of the pebbles which are still in bags in the garage. The rain is doing a good job of cleaning them and they look a lot better.

We're going to have a working garden party to sort out the gravel, currently packed in rubble sacks that are way too heavy for me, or any of us feeble females, to move without hurting ourselves - they were packed and stacked by my young, strong nephew! Anyway, the plan is to split the contents of each bag between two or more sacks and move them out of the garage. I need some to finish off the front garden and two friends and a neighbour are taking what they want. The rest will be advertised free to collector - there's no point trying to sell it as there have been quite a few adverts for gravel lately, all free to collector. 

That's it for today ... part 2 to follow later in the week.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

An extremely wet Bank Holiday Monday wave to Sian and the rest of the Monday crew. 

Mail first, nothing too exciting delivered by Royal Mail this week. It was mostly junk mail and the only thing of interest was my postal voting papers for the election. That envelope is sitting on the table waiting for my attention later today. Emails have been much more exciting, all to do with my family tree. Ancestry is now recording 115 links to DNA matches and of those, I can now find four in my own tree.  That doesn't seem like many but I don't have my full tree on the system yet and the majority of those 115 people don't have a family tree registered at all, so I'm pleased with my progress so far. I am regularly receiving emails from people who are as keen as me to discover the linked ancestor.

Memos next, I went with friends to see 'Snatched', starring Goldie Hawn. There were some laugh out loud moments so I'd recommend it if you're in need of cheering up. I also went to see Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen. I'd been to see him before when he was singing the songs of Cat Stevens and I loved his voice, guitar arrangements (sticking very close to the originals but with interesting added extras) and the fact that he didn't try to imitate Cat Stevens in any way, so I knew it would be a good evening. I have to admit that I don't like Leonard Cohen's voice and have never been able to get past it to actually listen to his songs, so this was an opportunity to discover his music. In the end, it turned out that I already knew a lot of his music as so many other musicians have covered his songs over the years. So, apart from the heat, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

And finally ... me! I've been to B&Q to take advantage of their Bank Holiday bargains on bedding plants, after seeing today's post by Joy.

It's mostly upright petunias plus one tray each of pansy and marigolds, and they will all go into pots, but not today. It's too wet to think about being outdoors so fingers crossed for a break in the downpour tomorrow, just long enough for me to get them all planted. That's not much to ask for, is it?

As for the rest of the day, I don't have anything planned but feel the urge to get on with things so will continue with bits and bobs of admin. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the backlog of filing and non-urgent admin that I ignored at the start of the year. Getting up to date with it all will be a significant milestone for me.

Hope you all have a good day.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

My Sunday Photo

view from the back garden, taken earlier in the week


Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook | Sat 27th May 2017


Outside my window ... it is cooler and the sun is setting.

I am thinking ... that I need to investigate the cost of getting my Nikon camera kit serviced. The focus seems to be slightly off and the camera body and both lenses could do with a good clean. This is the camera Ced bought for me during his final illness so it is very precious to me. 

I am thankful ... that the depression is losing its hold on me. Realistically, I know that I still have a bit of an uphill struggle ahead of me, but I'm finding most days so much easier to cope with. I've started making plans for the coming months and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

In the kitchen ... there is a stack of dirty plates and cutlery waiting to be washed and put away. Maybe later!

I am wearing ... a baggy t-shirt and an old cotton skirt - I've been out in the garden this afternoon.

I am creating ... a much more detailed family tree. I'd previously only documented the direct line of ancestors but am now expanding each name on the tree. This is usually a winter pastime, but I'm keen to find a common ancestor with one of my newly found DNA links so it can't wait.

I am going ... to arrange a cinema night with friends - to see 'Baywatch'.  It's not my usual choice of film but we saw the trailer for it when we went to see 'Snatched' earlier in the week and decided to give it a try.

I am wondering ... whether to have a ceiling fan installed in my bedroom.

I am reading ... 'Missing Presumed' by Susie Steiner. I started it this morning and so far so good.

I am hoping ...  that the garage can fit my car in for repair next week. At the hottest time of the year so far the air conditioning has decided to stop working. I fear it is going to be expensive!

I am looking forward to ... the half term holiday next week. It'll be another staycation, just relaxing at home. 

I am learning ... to slow down!

Around the house ...  it's a complete mess. I've decided it is time to look at getting a cleaner!

I am pondering ... a big, big holiday in two or three years time ... two or three months in America. I'm making a list of what I want to see and do so any suggestions of 'must sees' will be very much appreciated.

One of my favourite things ... music, any genre.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... I don't have any plans at all. I'll be taking one day at a time and doing whatever I fancy on the day, even if that is to nothing.

A peek into my day ... It's been a strange sort of day. I woke up suffering with a headache, painful joints and muscles and I struggled to get out of bed this morning. I put it it down to dehydration after such a hot day yesterday, so I've been drinking plenty of fluids all day. I felt much better by lunchtime so have been pottering in the garden this afternoon - nothing too strenuous though, just a bit of weeding and some deadheading. I stayed at home this evening and have been reading and sleeping ... I don't think I'll sleep too well tonight now.

A favourite quote for today ...

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened", Dr Seuss

Friday, 26 May 2017

Taking a Moment ...

... to be present. To still my butterfly mind. To appreciate what's around me.

Late Thursday afternoon I have three private pupils. I left home early to do some shopping first, but that didn't take as long as expected so I set out on the drive to their home knowing that I'd arrive way too early for their lessons.  A bit of 'me time' seemed like a good idea so I pulled over into a lay-by to enjoy the view through the car window. 

A few minutes of doing nothing, then there was just enough time for a short walk through the field on the other side of the hedge. It was too hot to walk far, but a promising location for a cooler day.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

It's time to share three photos for Mary-Lou's weekly Take Three Thursday linkup. 

I chose to take mine in the garden this week, three images of white petalled flowers - fleabane, climbing rose and clematis. 

I didn't deliberately choose to photograph the dirtiest flower  ... honestly!

it hasn't grown tall enough to reach the trellis yet but it's started
 flowering and there's lots more buds to open over the next few days

this is going to be a new favourite ... I love it

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Yesterday's Adventure

Yesterday I volunteered to accompany Year 1 and Year 2 children on their end of project trip to see two local castles. I had responsibility for six year ones and was delighted when one of the girls said that she was glad I was 'being a year one with them'! So, as an honorary year one we found our seats on the coach and started the are-we-there-yet part of the journey.

This was our first destination, Farleigh Castle, just a couple of miles from the school. I didn't take my camera with me yesterday because of the regulations about photographing the children, so the photos in this post are ones I've taken on previous visits to the castles.

Here the children had a treasure hunt where they had to match the photos in their books to places and objects they could see around the castle. They also had room in their books to sketch anything they wanted to, and also the opportunity to read about the history of the castle in a very big, child friendly book. The highlight for a lot of them seemed to be either sitting on the grass for their snack (apples) as soon as we arrived, or sitting on the grass for their picnic lunch at midday! 

Then it was back on the coach for the longer ride to the next castle, Nunney, about a 20 minute trip and we passed the time with a rather challenging game of 'I Spy' - challenging because quite a few haven't yet grasped that they have to be able to actually 'see' whatever they are asking the others to guess! 

The attraction of this castle was the moat! There was only time for a quick look round, one sketch of the castle and a walk round the outside of the moat - keeping very close to the wall and as far away from the water as possible. Nobody fell in, so I'm counting this as a success!

So, back to the coach and the return journey to school. It was a tiring, but full of fun day. Brilliant weather (dry, warm, bit of a breeze but not too sunny), and the children were so well behaved. It was lovely to have the opportunity to chat to them and experience their developing sense of humour. Best quote of the day at the first castle was 'my dad used to live here when he was a pirate'!!