Tuesday, 31 December 2019

WPSH - December Link Up

It's the end of the first month so time to catch up with everyone and see how you are all getting on. It doesn't matter if you haven't taken any photos yet but please try to visit others to add a comment to their scavenger hunt photos.

I am unable to add a linky, don't know why but will try to sort it out. In the meantime please add a comment to this post so people know how to find your  blog and scavenger hunt post(s).  

Here's three photos I haven't shown before:

No 6 | vintage, Ced's much loved panda given to him when he was born, which means the panda is now 80 years old




No 14 | flavour of the month, definitely has to be cinnamon at this time of year. The cafe we go to on Wednesdays seem to have added cinnamon to everything!



No 18| a chain




I've shown the rest of the photos (below) already but have added them here to save you following lots of links!

No 1 | in the bag



No 4 |colours



No 7 | I stood here



No 15 | letters




Alt A | chequers or chess


It's not too late to join in. Here's the original post which explains the rules and contains the list of prompts. Just find photos for as many of the prompts as you can ... it doesn't matter if you don't do them all. It's just fun to see all the different interpretations of each prompt.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Lifestyle Goals: Monthly Review for December 2019

Here is my update for December, stating my goals and the bullet-pointed task list that I'll tackle during the month to help achieve the goal. Last month's ratings are shown in black and the start of the current month is shown in yellow.

My goal is to achieve a lifestyle where I can honestly say that I LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE [7][7.5]To achieve this I want to focus on these sub-goals:
  • I am financially secure and am completely debt free [10][10]
  • I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends [10][10]
  • My home is always clean and tidy [10][10]
  • My garden is always tidy and presentable [8][8]
I am still looking for someone to help with the garden but am happy with how the other aspects of life I've listed above are going. The garden rating is unlikely to improve during the winter months.

I have revised my ratings on the following sub-goals:
  • I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level [8][10] - When I thought about it I couldn't see why I was keeping the rating at 8. I am avoiding sinking into depression and I don't struggle to keep a positive outlook on life so I've increased the rating to 10.
  • I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health [6][8] - Most of my health issues are age related so realistically they are ongoing and will not disappear. I have to accept that they are part of my life and, as all stats and test results are within the desired parameters, this is the best it is ever going to be. While the test results remain as they are the rating can be increased to 8. Minor ailments such as colds won't affect the rating but to increase it to 10 I need to be doing some regular exercise.
  • I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels [9.5][10] - I am definitely losing weight and on the whole eat healthily. Mobility is improving and the current tiredness is directly related to the recent bout of pneumonia - if it doesn't improve by the end of January I will adjust this rating then.

The ratings haven't changed for the following sub goals and are the ones that require improvement. 
  • I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life [7][7]
  • I live life now, in the moment [6][6]
  • I strive to remove my attachment to material things [6][6]
My focus word for 2020 is simplify and I am starting by working my way through the house to remove excess, unused, and unwanted items. I hope to be able to start increasing the rating of the attachment to material things goal at the end of January. 


My SMART tasks (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) for December were:
  1. Declutter a minimum of 5 items, concentrating on the ones which are taking up a lot of space - by December 31st 2019. ACHIEVED, though not the biggest items.
  2. Complete the meal plan for December - by December 4th 2019. ACHIEVED
  3. Focus on establishing a weekday schedule to complete all routine chores in the mornings - ongoing but review on December 31st 2019. ACHIEVED in part but illness and Christmas got in the way!!
  4. Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails and social media - by December 31st 2019. ACHIEVED for social media. Emails have been completed as far as I can but will be an ongoing task as new unwanted communications are received.
  5. Complete the remainder of band admin ready to hand over when band resumes in January - by December 13th 2019. ACHIEVED by end of December 2019.

My SMART tasks for January, all to do with simplifying life, are:
  1. Finish sorting through my clothes and dispose of any item that doesn't fit, is never worn, or is too tatty - by January 31st 2020
  2. Check all books in the bookcase and send all unwanted ones to the charity shop - by January 31st 2020
  3. Obtain quotes for sale of all camera equipment - by January 31st 2020
  4. Meal plan for second half of January/first half of February - by January 6th 2020
  5. Resume weekday schedule adding in extra cleaning tasks - immediate, and review on January 31st 2020

All About ... The Year in Review - 2019

What did you do in 2019 that you've never done before? I can't think of anything that I have never done before. The best things that stand out are joining a community choir and resuming teaching music lessons from home.
Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?  I don't set the traditional resolutions, preferring to set myself challenges and specific goals. Looking back over the year I can see that it has been a good year in terms of goals achieved and progress made. Yes, I will continue to do this in 2020.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No but my friend's eldest daughter is expecting her first child, due in February.

Did anyone close to you die? There were no deaths in the family or close friends but I did attend the funerals of a couple of people I knew from my teacher training days. I wasn't particularly close to either of them but it does hit home when you are attending the funerals of your contemporaries. I was also sad to read of the death of a fellow blogger, Ladkyis; she hadn't updated her blog for the last few month but I will miss her writing.
What countries did you visit? Travelling wasn't a feature of 2019 ... I didn't stray out of England!

What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019? I seem to say this every year - I'm lucky enough to be able to write that I don't feel I lacked anything in 2019. I have everything I need and more, so a rather abstract response to this question is that in 2020 I'd like to overcome my attachment to material possessions and regain the space, physically and emotionally, that eliminating excess clutter will bring.

What date from 2019 will remain etched in your memory and why? October 2019 when I left the youth band.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Completing all the work on the house. 

What was your biggest failure? I want to be positive so am not calling anything a failure. One particular friendship has been troublesome and still hasn't been properly resolved but on the whole I am pleased with how my life is developing. 

Did you suffer illness or injury? It's been a year of health issues! High cholesterol is now under control through dieting. A heart failure scare turned out to be just that ... a scare! Joint pain, particularly my knees, has affected my mobility and has been the biggest issue. Migraines and nosebleeds galore! Oh, and I ended the year with pnuemonia. 

What was the best thing you bought?  The new carpets and the armchair to match my sofas.

Where did most of your money go? On the home improvements and new furniture.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Actually finding 'me' again. I haven't written about this in any detail but 2019 has seen significant changes in most of my relationships with family and friends. There is an obvious return of the 'old me', i.e. the person I used to be before I lost my partner and my entire world collapsed.

Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? Much happier
  • Thinner or fatter? Slightly thinner
  • Richer or poorer? About the same

What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd been able to maintain the regular exercise but health issues made it impossible. 

What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I'd spent less time doing what other people wanted me to do, rather than focusing on the things I wanted to do for myself.

How did you spend Christmas? I was recovering from pneumonia so spent the time at home alone. I missed playing the carols around the hospital but enjoyed the rest of it. 

Did you fall in love in 2019? No.

What was your favourite TV show? The list of shows I always watch include QI, Would I Lie to You, Only Connect, and Pointless, and I can now add The Repair Shop too.  

What was the best book you read? I enjoyed The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and the Sanctus Trilogy by Simon Toyne.

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2019? In terms of popular music I don't think there was one. However, I joined a community choir and rediscovered the pleasure and benefits of singing.  

What did you want and get? I wanted to get the house finished, which I did and I can now concentrate on living a full life. 

What did you want and not get? There were probably lots of things i mentioned during the year but looking back now, I can't think of one single thing!

What was your favourite film this year?  I invested in Netflix so, together with trips to the ODEON I have seen plenty of films this year. Obviously, well obvious to anyone who knows me, I loved seeing the Harry Potter films again, but from the new films I'd choose Yesterday, and an older one but the first time I've seen it which is Galaxy Quest.

What did you do on your birthday? A week of meals with different friends/family.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I'd had the confidence to make some important decisions much sooner than I did. 

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019? Comfort first!

What kept you sane? The people I share my life with - family and friends, real Ife and online.

What political issue stirred you the most? The climate crisis, Brexit, the UK election, Boris!!

Who did you miss? Ced. Always.  

Who was the best new person you met? I've taken up a couple of new activities so have met quite a few new people as a result ... no particular friendships developing yet but am hopeful this will happen in 2020.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019. You never make the same mistake twice. The second time you make it, it is no longer a mistake, it is a choice. (quote by Lauren Conrad)

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Nope, can't think of one!

Monday

Yesterday was just like the Sundays I remember from my childhood. A slow paced, relaxing day with a visit from family thrown in for good luck. Just perfect!

Today will be a bit busier though. Whatever else I do, I have to go to the Post Office to send a special delivery letter - my great niece lost her purse when out shopping so I'm sending her some cash which she will repay if the purse does ever turn up. She's only 9 years old and had all of her Christmas money in the purse so at least this will allow her to buy one or two of the things she wants.

While I'm in town I'll have a look in all the clothes shops to see what's in the sales. I'm bringing my wardrobe up to date, something that's long overdue. I've looked through my clothes and will dispose of everything that's too big (I've lost enough weight to drop a dress size!!) or too small, too tatty, or never gets worn. It leaves me needing to replace a lot but I'm okay with that because I haven't bought many new items since Ced died. I want to eventually put together a capsule wardrobe and will start today with the most needed items which are some plain skirts. I think the problem will be the colours currently in fashion as I'm looking for either navy, burgundy, grey or black, but I'll see how it goes. Maybe it's time to get the sewing machine out.

Back home, realistically I'll be tired and need to rest but if not, I will continue sorting and rearranging clothes. I've only done the items on hangars so still have to do the cardigans, t-shirts, undies and jackets. 

Addressing the clothing issue has made me aware of the progress I've made. I tried to do this last year but abandoned the task as it was too upsetting. I said at the time that I hadn't realised how many emotions and memories were attached to various items of clothing, but this time it's clearly the right time and I'm not struggling at all. One thing I have worked out is that one of the underlying reasons for failing to do some of the things I'd like to try is that I genuinely don't have the right clothes, so I'm removing the excuse and buying everything I need. I just have to decide how much is 'enough'. I'm expecting there to be a fair bit of trial and error and that it will take most of this year to reach the stage where my capsule wardrobe meets my needs ... but it will be fun and I have every intention of enjoying myself!

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Sunday

You were probably expecting this ... yesterday I made a start on simplifying an aspect of my life! I'm aiming to do something every day, not necessarily time consuming or strenuous, but one thing that will help me achieve my aim to simplify my life.

Yesterday's effort was a continuation of a task I started a couple of weeks ago, which is getting on top of social media and emails. I've been working my way through Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, etc, and rationalising my contacts and groups in each one. It's made a huge difference to the amount of time spent each day reading through unwanted posts and I'm reaching the point where I've eliminated the ones that can go. The up side is that I now only see the posts I want in my newsfeed so checking social media is a speedy and cheerful way of keeping up with what family and close friends are doing. Effectively, I have returned to my original reason for using social media and this has cheered me up.

It's been taking me about 30 minutes most days and has been a quick fix to give an immediate result, highlighting the clear benefits of simplifying things. Social media is just about done and today I will to start on the emails ... unsubscribing from all unwanted emails, removing contacts, deleting old emails etc., which will probably take ages but needs to be done. As I work though the backlog of clutter  I plan to deal with all new emails once a day, which is easily achievable now I don't have the band admin to deal with.

It's an easy start and I can feel I am doing something without expending too much effort. I still want to sleep all the time! I don't know if this is a healing thing or whether I need to push through it. At present, I'm sleeping whenever I want so my normal routine is shot to pieces and at some stage I will have to get back to normal, preferably before January 6th when choir practice resumes.

When I do attempt to re-establish my weekday routine I plan to use the habit stacking approach to organise some aspects of daily life - for example, I get washed and dressed, after dressing I check emails, after emails, I do my daily music practice, after music practice I do the daily chore/errand ... and so on. I don't know whether this will work for me or even whether I will like the approach but it's worth a try. My hope is that all the chores and errands are completed in a couple of hours in the mornings to leave the rest of the day for all the fun things to happen. That's the plan anyway!

If you've read this far I'll apologise for waffling on so much. It wasn't my intention when I started this post but I am finding it quite therapeutic so will continue. I'll be over it by tomorrow so I will understand if you prefer to abandon this post and come back then!

The decluttering will still continue but with a different approach. I'm not making any progress with the last lot of 'big stuff' so there's no point in continuing in the same way. Some of it will go to the auction company I used before, and other bits I will contact one of the local auction houses or send it to the charity shop. Once all of that is dealt with I'll continue working through the house to decide what else can go. There are important decisions to be made though ... which hobbies am I finished with, which ornaments do I want to keep, etc. and more importantly, relating to everything I keep, how much is 'enough'. I'm starting with my clothes but will write about that in another post.

My 2020 diary dates for my special solo treats are coming together nicely. I've decided to arrange (at least) one special event for each month so that I always have something in the diary to look forward to, things like theatre trips, short breaks, day trips, and exhibitions. I'd also like to add one live music event every month, either solo or with friends, but I don't know whether it's feasible. I definitely want attending live music events to play a bigger part in my life than it currently does so I just need to find a way to make this work.

I have notified the band that I won't be returning so all that's left to do, once they resume in January, is arrange for all the remaining folders etc to be collected. I'm still in two minds about it, but for now this is the best solution for me. I honestly can't settle on what would need to change to encourage me to go back so I think it's unlikely I'll reverse this decision. With that in mind I'll have to decide whether I want to continue playing and look for other opportunities if so, or maybe just being part of the choir will satisfy my need to be involved in a musical activity. Time will tell!

Okay, that's enough for this post. Well done if you reached the end and now go and get yourself a well deserved hot drink!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

One Little Word

Arriving at my choice for 2020 has involved a lot of brain racking, list making, and being totally honest with myself. The choice definitely hasn't been as easy this time as in previous years but as soon as the word dropped into my mind I just knew it was perfect for this year. The word I've chosen is:

SIMPLIFY

defined as ... to make simple or simpler, such as (a) to reduce to basic essentials,
 (b) to diminish in scope or complexity, to streamline, and (c) to make more intelligible, to clarify

In a way, I've already started on simplifying my life but without considering the decisions and the impact they would have in these specific terms. Two examples of significant changes that have considerably simplified life are leaving the band and giving up running the book group. My streamlined Christmas, albeit a result of illness rather than planning, is another example where the simplicity of the arrangements led to reduced stress with an increase in enjoyment as a result.

I've had time for plenty of thinking and am clearer on why I am making some of my decisions and on why I don't always manage to follow through with my intentions. Some of the reasons are too personal and/or relate to important people in my life so won't be detailed on the blog, but other reasons are simple to understand and are obvious with hindsight ... trying to do too much at once, setting unrealistic timescales, being influenced by the wishes of others (always an issue) ... I could go on, but you probably get the idea. The biggest reason is, I believe, that I have been making the decluttering etc. the focus of my life instead of fitting it in with the much more important business of actually living a full and happy life.

I have this poster printed out. It's on the wall next to the laptop so I have a constant reminder. Is anyone else doing One Little Word in 2020?

  
Source:www.clipartpanda.com/clipart

Friday, 27 December 2019

Friday

I slept on the sofa for most of yesterday, waking occasionally for eats, drinks or the toilet. By the time I surfaced from my sleepy state, (about 5 pm) I could feel the start of a headache so I wrapped up warm and took myself out for a short walk. Fresh air and some gentle activity was the perfect remedy and I arrived back at home, revived,  with the stirring of an appetite ... and a couple of photos for the WPSH ...

No. 4 | colours


No. 15 | letters


I'd bought a small turkey breast joint for my Christmas meals, marked as being enough for four portions but I don't each much meat so it stretched to five me-sized portions. I'll team the remaining portion of that with a heap of roasted root vegetables, including the parsnips I forgot to use on Christmas Eve, and a few steamed greens for my main meal today. I'll roast all the remaining root veg so the leftovers can be magically transformed into a tasty soup for tomorrow, hopefully leaving enough to freeze a couple of portions as well. 

I'm hoping to get out for another short walk today, maybe along the canal but nothing too strenuous. My legs felt like jelly when I got back yesterday so I won't walk as far today. I don't want to overdo things but I'm feeling a bit stir crazy and want the benefits of the fresh air.  

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent quietly as planned and I had a pleasant time. Energy levels are low so today will be more of the same. 

I should have been taking part in a car treasure hunt but too many participants are poorly so it has been cancelled. I admit that I'm relieved as I would have pulled out anyway and the friend who organises the hunt would have been grumpy with me, no matter what the reason. This way, I'm not the focus of his grumpiness!

We were all supposed to bring a contribution to a Boxing Day picnic to share with the others so that's what I'll be eating today. I've defrosted some vegetable soup which I'll have hot with some crusty bread, and then a selection of cold meat and nibbles. It's an easy day as far as the food is concerned thankfully as I don't feel much like cooking a big meal. 

I'm enjoying the Graham Norton book. It's not a Christmas story but coincidentally starts in the quiet period just after the Christmas celebrations are finished. It's the first of his books I've read and I keep catching myself mimicking Norton's voice in my head as I'm reading it. I can't comment on the story yet although I like what I've read so far, but I love his writing style and will look to see if he has written anything else. 

I'm looking forward to watching the 'Would I Lie To You' Christmas special tonight and if the timings work out, will also watch the first of the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures as well. Apart from that it'll be a lot of reading and plenty of naps!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Eve

The good news is that I don't need more antibiotics. I have to finish the current course and then it is a case of continuing to take it easy until fully recovered. I also managed to finish off my shopping yesterday. I bought more foodie treats than I usually do but thought it was unlikely I'd summon up the energy to do any baking, and although I could ask my sister, she is not well either so it would be unfair. I've been too tired to do it so far so have taken the easy option and treated myself. With the shopping finished I'm all ready, which is just as well because my Christmas starts today!

My original plan was to play carols in a hospital on Christmas Day morning. The hospital is about 80 minutes drive away so playing for a couple of hours and then drinks and nibbles at the conductor's home before a long drive home prompted me to rethink when to have my Christmas meal. I knew I wouldn't want to cook after a busy morning and a long drive so I decided to have my roast turkey meal on Christmas Eve and have cold turkey with bubble & squeak when I got home on Christmas Day. Of course, that's all changed now but even though I have cancelled the playing in hospital part, I am sticking to my plan for the meals so ...

... 5pm this afternoon is when the celebrations start. By that time I will have cooked my meal and be ready to settle in front of the TV to eat roast turkey with all the trimmings as I watch 'Carols from King's', definitely a must see at Christmas. Throughout the day I will do my own version of the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod. I have plenty of books to choose from but am most likely to start reading 'A Keeper' by Graham Norton. I will pause in my reading to watch the final part of the BBC's A Christmas Carol; I watched the first two episodes yesterday and, although the original story will always be my favourite, I enjoyed this re-imagined version of the story ... many thanks to Carole for prompting me to watch it. Has anyone else seen it and if so, what did you think of it?

I won't open any gifts until late afternoon tomorrow, after I have finished listening to The Nation's Favourite Carol on Classic FM. It's been O Holy Night for the last three years so it'll be interesting to see this year's result ... will Silent Night win back the number one slot? As for the rest of Christmas Day I haven't made any new plans to replace the cancelled morning arrangements. I will phone Little Miss C to wish her a happy birthday, and then it'll be a day of reading, TV,  and radio and just taking things easy.

I'm unlikely to post anything tomorrow so I will take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a lovely time however you choose to celebrate the day.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Monday

I'm out and about today, firstly to see the doctor and get some more antibiotics if necessary. It's an open surgery so I just have to turn up and wait to see the doctor, which could take ages but can't be avoided. 

Once that's done I want to get the last bits of shopping. I can get everything in one of the big supermarkets so will go to the one nearest the surgery. If I don't feel up to the shopping today, Julie has offered to help out tomorrow but I am hoping to get it done so that it's one more thing ready and out of the way.

Then it'll back home to relax for the rest of the day. There's nothing I particularly want to watch on TV so I will settle down to watch a film or two on Netflix. Depending on energy levels I'll make some shortbread and mince pies but if I don't feel up to it, they can wait until tomorrow ... or I can always resort to begging for an emergency biscuit and pie parcel from my sister! 

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Sunday

Well, wanting to do something different yesterday  went out the window when I realised that the Alastair Sim version of 'Scrooge - A Christmas Carol' was on TV. It's one of my must-watch films at this time of year and is, in my opinion, the best film version of the story ... closely followed by The Muppet Christmas Carol!

Before that I did have a go at improvising on the piano. I won't win any awards for my efforts but it's high on the list as a fun way to pass some time. Thank you to Joy for that suggestion. I also filled a box with puzzle books, colouring book and pencil crayons, and a sketch book and pencils, all gathered from around the house, which gives me a nice selection of fun things to stop me getting bored today. Many thanks for all of your suggestions.

I also sorted a few things out in my head so yesterday was more productive than I'd anticipated. My 'One Little Word' for 2020 has been selected but I will write a separate post on that.  I have settled on a possible resolution to a troublesome friendship, and have a clearer understanding of why I am procrastinating on completing the decluttering. 

I'm feeling much better today with a noticeable improvement of all symptoms but will still continue to take it easy. A couple of friends messaged me last night wanting to visit today but I have put them off and will have another cosy day at home. I desperately want to get some fresh air so, if it stays dry, I may wrap up warm, open the windows and do a few circuits of the garden while the house gets refreshed. Then it'll be back indoors for another day of puzzles, TV or listening to music. I have a bit of an appetite as well so am going to treat myself and will order an Indian takeaway to be delivered.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Saturday

It'll obviously be another quiet day but I am feeling slightly better. The pain when breathing has settled to more of a twinge only when I breathe deeply, and that's made all the difference. No change to the other symptoms though.

I haven't planned anything for today but I feel like doing something other than reading or watching TV. I'm not the world's best patient and am not good at being ill and anyway, being ill when you live alone is a miserable experience. I need to come up with something cheerful, simple and not too strenuous to do but I have no idea what ... the reality will probably be that I fall asleep for most of the day and do nothing again! Don't worry, I will be sensible and won't be going out!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Friday

My Advent calendar to-do for today is the baking for my Open House tomorrow but that's not going to happen now as I've changed my Christmas plans.

Tomorrow's Open House has been cancelled but may possibly happen in the New Year instead. I've dropped out of the Christmas Day carol playing around the hospital - even if I feel better it's unlikely I'll be up to playing a brass instrument for a couple of hours. I'd accepted a couple of invites for the last week of December so I have let everyone know the situation and to count me as a 'maybe' for those.

I wanted a quiet Christmas so I'm not too upset about the change of plans. Disappointed but not upset and I will still enjoy myself at home. I don't really feel up to being sociable anyway -  this is always a difficult time without Ced. I won't be maudlin on my own and will make the effort for myself, but now won't have to deal with all the well-meaning people who've had a bit too much to drink and seem to want to keep reminding me about Ced and how much he is missed! 

Anyway ... today will just be another quiet day filled with sleeping (!), reading, TV, and list making ... I'm making a list of Nice Things To Do When I Feel Better!

Here's another WPSH photo for Alt A, chess



Thursday, 19 December 2019

Thursday

I'll be taking it easy again today. I slept for most of the day yesterday and I have a feeling that today will be more of the same. 

In between times it'll be an assortment of reading, listening to music, and watching TV. I don't have much of an appetite but will make myself eat regularly otherwise I'll get a migraine and that's the last thing I want. I think soup is the answer ... soup and plenty of drinks. There are plenty of portions in the freezer, thank goodness, it's at times like this that I'm thankful for making the effort to bulk cook.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Wednesday

I'll start with the good news ... my car passed the MOT first time with no advisories so all is good for another year. I don't really know why I was worried as the car is only three years old and has been regularly serviced so there shouldn't have been any problems. I also got a voucher for a free car wash which they couldn't do yesterday, as they were understaffed due to illnesses, so I will get that done some time in January.

Now the not so good news ... I have a chest infection, possibly pneumonia. Not quite what I was expecting to hear! He referred to it as 'walking pneumonia' which Google informs me is a mild atypical version of the illness and lots of people don't even realise they have it. I wasn't expecting to hear that diagnosis as coughing wasn't one of my symptoms, not do I sound like I have a cold. However, the hacking cough turned up with a vengeance this morning so I will see what he says later. I had a chest x-ray yesterday and he will phone me today to discuss treatment. In the meantime, I am taking it easy.

Whatever the final diagnosis is I won't be able to play carols around the hospital with my friends on Christmas Day. Breathing is painful so sustaining notes on a brass instrument is currently beyond me! I spoke to T last night to let him know and give him time to replace me. 

So for now I am tucked up in the warm, feeling a bit pathetic to be honest. All my Christmas prep is done thankfully, and I don't have any need to go out before the weekend. It just the shopping for fruit and veg next Monday or Tuesday but family or friends will do that for me if I don't feel up to it myself.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Tuesday

It's going to be a stressful and expensive day today, I can tell.

My car is booked in for its first ever MOT so I need to get it to the garage by 9 am. Unfortunately I have to leave it there all day as the 'while you wait' slots were all gone. The garage is on the other side of town and I need to get to the doctor's surgery by 9:30 am so, if their driver isn't available, I will have to get a taxi.

I started feeling poorly yesterday and it's incredibly  painful to breathe this morning. I think it may be some sort of chest infection. My sister has pleurisy but I don't have the same symptoms so it won't be that. I'm seeing the duty doctor so hopefully he/she will be able to sort me out. Then it'll be another taxi to get home.

My car will be ready later this afternoon so it'll be the third taxi of the day to collect it. It should pass without needing any work done but I am keeping my fingers crossed just in case. The cost of the actual MOT is bad enough! 

In between times I doubt I will be doing much at all, just keeping warm and taking it easy. 

Monday, 16 December 2019

Monday

The priority today is to finish sorting the band music folders. It's the sort of task where I inevitably underestimate how long it will take and it's also rather tedious so I will divide the day up and swap between doing the folders and collecting the next lot of stuff for tomorrow's charity shop and skip runs. These are the main tasks I want completed before Christmas.

While I'm doing that the slow cooker will be bubbling away with a veggie chilli for my evening meal, and I'll also do two loads of washing. Thankfully, none of it will need to be ironed.

There's no teaching now until January and the choir has also stopped for the Christmas break so I will stay in tonight and carry on sorting the folders, if necessary, or will settle down to read. Either way, it'll be an early night.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Sunday

I'm absolutely shattered so it's a lazy day for me today. I haven't dressed yet and am unlikely to bother as my dressing gown is so warm and cosy! I didn't get to bed until nearly 2 am and was repeatedly woken by the wind once I did make it to my bed.

The concert was a success. Lots of smiling faces and M, our leader, was more than happy and probably a bit relieved ... I've been in her position myself so I know exactly how it feels when the group gets past the dodgy bits without a train crash!! I want to remember the night and this is as good a place as any to record it, so this is what we sang:

The Best of Bond
One Last Time
Don't Stop Believin'
You'll Be In My Heart
This Is Me
Riversong
Fix You

Pavane for a Silent Night
Walking in the Air
Dream a Dream
Mary, Did You Know?
Somewhere out There
In Winter
Carol of the Snow

The First Nowell 

Wonderful Christmas Time

The First Nowell was sang with the audience and the rest of the songs were the choir arrangements in two or three parts. There were also seven soloists.

The choir has been learning their pieces since September and the standard achieved, when you consider that the majority of the singers don't read notation, is excellent. When we resume in January there will be a new repertoire for the Spring terms. This terms sheet music is now ours to keep, or recycle, as we see fit. I will probably keep some of mine just to play through next Christmas.

Lauren was merry, but thankfully not drunk, when I arrived to collect her at midnight and she didn't take too long to bid her farewells to her equally merry colleagues. She too had a good evening and enjoyed herself.

I will just be reading for the rest of the day. I think TV or a film will take more concentration that I can summon up but conversely, reading feels achievable.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Saturday

It's the choir concert tonight, which will involve a lot of standing, so I'm taking it easy until it's time to get ready. The concert starts at 7:00 pm but we have to be there at 4:00 pm for the final rehearsal.

I did everything on my list yesterday so, apart from the last minute shopping for the fruit and veg, I am ready for Christmas. I'm not as organised as it seems, it's just easy-peasy when everyone I give gifts to wants money or a token and being on my own, the food side of things is a doddle! 

The concert tonight is my final commitment for the month. I will keep going to finish off as many things on my huge decluttering list as I can until Christmas, which for me starts properly on the 24th. I only celebrate the twelve days, but I do start on Christmas Eve so it's thirteen days really.

I've woken early and will have breakfast in bed today. It's not quite the same when I have to go downstairs and make my own breakfast but the eating it in bed part is fun! I will then try to grab a couple of extra hours sleep if I can ... it's Lauren's works do tonight and I'm being her taxi service, so have to collect her from Bath at midnight and deliver her safely home. It's going to be a long day!

Friday, 13 December 2019

Friday

I want to complete the last of the Christmas related shopping this morning, leaving only one more trip on Christmas Eve, or the day before, for the fresh fruit and vegetables. I had an online delivery last night for most of the store cupboard items so today is for all the odds and ends. I also need to refill the petrol tank ... I'm very close to driving on fumes!

That should take up most of the morning and then after lunch I'll deliver the cards to my neighbours and get the remaining family ones in the post. I've really cut down on the number of cards I send to friends ... we're all doing a donation to charity instead. I'll be donating to the Motor Neurone Disease Association in Ced's name.

And that's about it for today. My Advent calendar to-do is to choose my Christmas Eve book so I'll use one on my birthday tokens for that when I go shopping this morning. I'm thinking of buying Erin Morgenstern' latest, 'The Starless Sea'; I enjoyed her previous novel 'The Night Circus' and rate it as the best novel I read back in 2015. If it's not in stock, then I'll just choose something else instead rather than ordering online.

The rest of the day will be taken up with piano, reading, and crossword puzzles. I'll choose a film to watch on Netflix and then have an early-ish night. It's a big day tomorrow ... the choir's Christmas concert!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Thursday

I slept in late after a very long day trip to London and back yesterday. The local coach firm organised the day trip to see the John Rutter Christmas Celebration concert at the Royal Albert Hall so I'd signed up for this back in June and had been looking forward to it ever since.

In the end the concert wasn't at all what I was expecting, but brilliant nonetheless. It was advertised as 'a chance to see John Rutter conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of his Christmas music' but that wasn't really an accurate description of the event. The concert only featured three of his carols, Star carol, Angels' carol, and his new one (sorry, I can't remember what it is called). For the rest of the concert we were treated to an assortment of music associated with Christmas. 

The St Albans' Bach Choir sang extracts from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the choristers from the Temple Church treated  us to three Christmas songs I'd never heard before, and which were absolutely beautiful. Gareth Brynmor John, the soloist, sang O Holy Night and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played selections from Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, and Koenig's Post Horn Gallop. There were also a couple of fabulous fanfares featuring the amazing Grand Organ. There were other pieces, choral, solo and instrumental but I can't remember them and, as I didn't splash out on a programme, I can't enlighten you! Mixed in with all of this glorious music was audience participation joining in with the sing-along traditional Christmas carols, and with John Rutter's Christmas Quiz.

Even though it wasn't quite what I was expecting the whole event was enjoyable in so many ways. I love live music events and the growing anticipation as the orchestra tune up, the choirs take their places and then the applause as the leader of the orchestra comes on stage, and finally the buzz and cheers as John Rutter, the conductor, took his place. I love his sense of humour, bad jokes and love of the season ... anyone who wasn't full of the joys of Christmas at the start, definitely left with an abundance of the beauty of the festive season.

And then it took a bit of a downhill slide. It took over on hour to get out of the centre of London and traffic was slow on the motorway.  In the end we were two hours late arriving back which meant the company had to change drivers when we arrived back at Warminster, so another unavoidable delay. Our original driver was scheduled to drive back to London the next day so had to have the legal nine hours rest period and the delay in London meant a replacement driver had to take over the remainder of the journey.

When I finally got off the coach and walked the short distance to my car I was tired and hungry and just wanted to get home. But ... my car was completely iced over. I couldn't get the doors open to reach the de-icer and had no idea what to do. I could have cried! After a struggle I eventually managed to open the tailgate and climbed in that way, found the de-icer (which fortunately I'd put in the car at the weekend) and started the chore of de-icing the car. It took ages, and by the time I got home, an hour after getting off the coach, I was completely frozen.  So, central heating turned up, I had a hot shower and then a bowl of tomato soup and slowly thawed out! 

Despite the rotten end to the day, I had a fantastic time at the concert. Apparently it is an annual event so I will definitely go again if I can.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Wednesday

Today I stood here ...


... outside the Royal Albert Hall, waiting to take my seat inside. I'm here for 'John Rutter's Christmas Celebration' featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a couple of choirs, and several soloists.

This is my Advent calendar to-do for today and also a candidate for the WPSH  No. 7 | I stood here.