Thursday, 20 September 2018

Take Three Thursday

The photos I'm sharing today for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday were taken at Sudbury Hall and shown the process for carving the wooden flowers which form part of the ceiling decoration. Because I can be very stupid at times, I forgot to take a photo of the actual ceiling!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The Lurgy!

I don't feel 100%. I went to band this morning but didn't play at all. Instead I divided my time between helping the junior players to follow their music, doing a handover to the new band secretary, setting up a working group to examine the requirements of the data protection legislation, and eating chocolate biscuits! When I came home I fell asleep on the sofa and, now I've woken to realise that my temperature is raised and bits of me hurt! It's pamper time, I think.

I wasn't planning to go out tonight. Friends were coming to me so I've rearranged our get together for next weekend. Instead I will order an Indian takeaway delivery, find a snuggle blanket, dose myself with some paracetamol, and settle down to watch the second Harry Potter film, which starts in about an hour. Then a soak in the bath and an early night. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Living Room Furniture

It's turned out to be a fairly busy week. On Wednesday and Thursday I visited local primary schools to run brass workshops, where every Yr3 child gets to play a brass instrument. The aim is to get new players for the youth band so fingers crossed for that. It's fun but tiring with the logistics of moving ten brass instruments of varying sizes from home to car to school, to car and back to home. I have another two weeks of this and already am wanting it to be finished!

My ideas for furnishing the living room have changed. I'm still buying the same mahogany unit for under the TV: this has been ordered and is due for delivery to the store by the end of October, but they will keep it until I am ready to accept delivery. I went shopping, armed with my leather colour swatch, to choose some armchairs but struggled to find anything suitable. If I liked the actual chair, I didn't like the choice of available fabrics or, if the fabrics were okay, the chair itself was the wrong shape or size. 

I did however find one range which I liked, was incredibly comfortable and which  included a snuggle/reading chair at my price. When I first started looking around I was hoping to get a reading chair but soon realised that they were usually £1000+ and way out of my price range. This one was only £599 and together with a matching 3 seater sofa was in the 30% off sale. Again, there wasn't a fantastic choice of fabrics so I've opted for a creamy beige linen effect with the same fabric in blush for some of the scatter cushions. This was a compromise on what I'd planned but if necessary I can always get them recovered in a year or two. When I placed the order it turned out that the price of the reading chair was incorrect and should have been £1259 but they honoured the ticket price of £599. I also chose a completely different shaped armchair to go with the sofa and reading chair which turned out to be the last one available so I bought their display chair at a £100 discount. With the 30% sale discount on the sofa and reading chair I've managed to buy all three pieces of furniture for less than the cost of the leather sofa I was planning to buy. I'll see if I can take some photos next time I go there.

I'm totally happy with my choices so far but now have to decide on the carpet. My original plan was to buy patterned chairs which would add some colour to the room but now all of the seating is plain in shades of cream/beige, so the room is in danger of looking a bit too neutral. I'm hoping to still have white walls as that's in keeping with the rest of the house and was planning on cream carpets in every room but it may be better to have a coloured carpet in the living room. Until I go to look at carpets I can't be sure so that is a job for next week. I also need to start looking at soft furnishings as that's the other obvious way of adding colour.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Take Three Thursday | 'Another Place'

I didn't manage to catch up with myself at all yesterday, hence no blog post. Today, I'm sharing three more photos from my recent holiday for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday where we are asked to share three photos with a common theme.

My photos were taken during my trip to Liverpool when I spent a few hours watching the Anthony Gormley art installation, 'Another Place'.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Tiny Steps Forward!

Today's post is much shorter than the previous one, I promise. You can breathe a sigh of relief if you want to ...

N, D, J, J and A came round last night to agree their plan for the work. D and J  (plumbers) will be in on Thursday 20th September to start in the ensuite, and bring a cold water supply down to the back wall of the house for an external tap. They'll also repair a minor leak in the downstairs cloakroom, install a new tap and box in the boiler pipe in the kitchen. J (electrician) will be in before that date to do the first fix on the electrics. N will be in as and when to do all that's necessary so that A (plasterer) will be able to skim the living room and bathroom ceilings w/c 24th September. The majority of the work will start the first week of October. As I'm typing this I feel all bubbly with excitement, even though it's a later start date than originally agreed. The end is in sight!

My BiL is coming round later this morning to dig out the climber in the front garden. It's too big for the space so it's going to be replanted in their garden and trained up against some of the trees, where it can grow to its full height. It's been a constant battle to keep it away from the boiler flue so it'll be a relief for it to be gone and I'll worry about replacing it next year. Hopefully he's also going to take the old TV unit as well, so that'll be one less thing to worry about.

Following on from yesterday's post, I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions. For starters I've had another look at what the U3A has to offer and will contact the group leaders to see if there are places available. Initially, I'll try a photography group and a choir so fingers crossed that these groups don't have waiting lists. If those two don't work out there's also an adult recorder playing group, a Scrabble group, and a group for sharing activities (which seems to be similar to Meetups), all of which would be fun.

Oh, and I've chosen my HF holidays for next year. I just have to book them now.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Thinking Aloud!

I'll warn you that I'll be waffling in this post so feel free to jump ship now. You've been warned! My thoughts today are a combination of a couple of conversations with friends, a post on Jo's blog, and my own ongoing attempts to improve/enhance my daily life.

So to explain ... I'm retired now and although I have a busy diary for September there is very little in the way of regular contact and/or activities that will take me out of the house after the end of the month. The busy diary for September is mostly related to the workshops I'll be running in local primary schools to try to encourage new learners at band. I have some vague ideas of what I'd like to be adding to my life and conversations with friends have added a couple of ideas for monthly meet ups so that aspect of the changes has been thought about and now just needs to be implemented. At the same time (this is where Jo's post comes in) I'd like to mark my first year of retirement with a mini challenge of places to go and things to accomplish within that year.

Currently I have these things going on, which I enjoy and want to continue:
  • weekly during term time: youth band on Saturday mornings
  • monthly: book group
  • monthly: family history society
  • monthly, but only for part of the year: listening to the Big Band that a friend plays in
  • fortnightly between Sept and March: film society
It looks more than it is in a list like that but in reality will not occupy much of my time so I need/want to add some other regular things to do - some solo events and some social ones. I've thought about the aspects of life that I'd like to concentrate on to start; this was initially based on Bless' Balanced Life Goals but I've actually ended up with a completely different approach. These aspects are music, photography, health and fitness, and socialising. I have a tendency to try to do too much at any time, so have deliberately chosen to limit my focus on these four categories.

Music - basically, I want music to continue to be a part of my life. This is actively playing for a long as I am able but also looking for other ways to include it, such as concerts, folk clubs, orchestras, etc. 

I'm very involved with the youth band and fully intend to continue but most of my time at band is taken up with teaching and very little actual playing on my part; the playing is obviously at a standard appropriate to the level of the children's playing ability. So, I plan to work on some musical activities to stretch myself; daily playing of the piano and/or brass - piano has been happening for a while now (although the music room is out of action until the home improvements are finished) but I'll be adding in some regular brass playing to regain my full range of notes. I've also put my name down to join a new orchestra which starting up in October, playing the flute.  If it works out, this will add another weekly evening activity, although it will be blocks of six weeks and then a gap - not too sure how this will work out but I'm keen to try it.

Photography - this is something that should get me out of the house regularly but doesn't, so I need to come up with a way to change that. I used to enjoy doing the monthly online scavenger hunts, so that's one option, or maybe just set myself a series of mini challenges. Whatever I do, I want to make myself take some 'proper' photos rather than the 'snaps' I've settled back into doing. One thought is to post a series of photos once a month on this blog but I need to think that thought through a bit more.

Health and Fitness - I have no plans to change what I've been doing. The focus will be on making sure I am achieving all that I want to. So currently:
  • exercise daily: either gym, 'walking for health' walks, and/or exercise DVDs
  • eating healthily: sensible portions, less meat and more vegetables, and reduce the amount of coffee I drink!
  • weight: lose at least two stones by this time next year.
My long term aim is to be fit enough to join one of the local walking groups, or the Ramblers.

Socialising - I'm quite content with the number of social activities that take place in a evening. In addition to the current ones listed above I also meet friends for the occasional cinema visit or meal, so all I'm looking to add in is:
  • monthly: film night with friends, in my home
  • monthly: girl's night out with Julie and Lauren - we don't see each other as much as we used to and I don't want to lose touch. This can also include the other three girls whenever they are home.
The biggest area where I feel things are lacking is some daytime social contact.  Apart from Saturday mornings I have no need to leave the house so don't see anyone and I know from experience how this can affect my mood. The weekly Rummikub playing hasn't worked out so I may try to organise something similar in my own home, and there are also a couple of scrabble groups I can try. Most friends still work so coffee mornings aren't an option at present. Apart from that I'm stuck for ideas so any suggestions will be very much appreciated. I'm hoping to come up with ideas for a couple of part days a week.

As for the marking my retirement year I'm thinking about arranging 12 special events, some solo and some with friends. So far I've come up with this list but it will probably go through quite a few changes before I'm through!:
  • a theatre trip, probably to London, to see Hamilton, Les Miserables (again) and one other show (still to be decided).
  • HF Holiday - photography break in the Lake District
  • HF Holiday - sight seeing trip to the Isle of Wight
  • HF Holiday in Bourton-on-the-Water
  • a short break in Bristol 
  • a short break in Portsmouth (to see the Mary Rose)
  • a short break in Weymouth (or somewhere similar) 
  • a trip to Belfast
  • a short break in Liverpool 
  • a city break, maybe in Newcastle
  • a short holiday with a local coach firm
  • a food tour in London
That's as far as I've got with my thinking/planning. Well done if you got to the end of the post!

Sunday, 9 September 2018

This Week ...

This week it's mostly been holiday related postings so here's a brief summary of what I've been up to!

Sunday 2nd September

Apart from sewing the final labels on the new school uniforms for Little Misses C & H, I don't think I did much else. So a quiet day indoors reading, eating and drinking coffee. 

Monday 3rd September

Another day spent at home but this time because I had to wait in for deliveries. The tiles that should have been delivered before my holiday arrived but the order was incorrect ... the wrong mosaic tiles and too many of them. I phoned to complain and have arranged to choose some other tiles and be given a refund for the unwanted ones. The heated towel rail for the family bathroom was also delivered ... exactly as ordered!

Tuesday 4th September

Two more deliveries expected today. I received the text at 7am to say the first delivery, [edited to add: this was the new bath for the family bathroom] would be with me shortly ... guess what time it arrived? ... 8:15pm! They wanted to just leave it on the pavement outside but, after quite a heated discussion, they carried it inside. The basin and cabinet for the family bathroom was delivered without any fuss, thank goodness.

The girls and their mum turned up to collect their uniforms and presented me with a huge bunch of flowers to say thank you. They'd been baking earlier so both girls gave me one of the cakes they'd made - a chocolate nest from H and a chocolate marble cake from C. Not good for the diet, but a lovely surprise and very much appreciated.

Wednesday 5th September

Yet another day at home, this time moving the remainder of the boxes in the music room to make space for the ten brass instruments I'll bring home from band on Saturday. They're needed for the school workshops over the next three weeks. Apart from that, I made a chilli and some vegetable soup for the freezer, and caught up with some paperwork.

Thursday 6th September

My sister came round in the morning and brought another load of books for me. This was perfect timing as the bookshelves were starting to look rather bare and I was in danger of running out of things to read.  There are twenty new reads stacked on the shelves, so that'll keep me occupied for a few weeks. 

In the afternoon I took some of the new tiles back. They exchanged them, no problem, and refunded the money - enough to buy one of the armchairs I want!

Friday 7th September

The day was tied up with preparing for the return to band. In the evening it was the first film screening at the film society I've joined. I almost didn't go but am so glad I did as we watched Lady Bird, which I'd missed when it was doing the rounds of the cinemas. I enjoyed the film, the people were friendly and it was a very cheap evening - membership is £30 a year to see 15 films, and the parking was free. 

Saturday 8th September

Back to band and a fun morning spent mostly playing the children's favourite pieces. Then a sleepy, lazy afternoon at home, an evening watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and in bed by 9:30pm. I'm not sure why I am so tired so am hoping there isn't some sort of lurgy brewing.

Saturday, 8 September 2018


It was band practice this morning and it was lovely to see everyone again. The good news was that the standard of playing hadn't really dropped, mainly due to the amount of practice the majority of the children had done during the holidays - it's amazing how the chance to win a box of chocolates for doing the most practice during the holidays encouraged them to do some playing! The not so good news was that we may be losing two of our players. It's devastating news and I hope we can persuade both of them to change their minds.

I had to stop playing part way through the morning when my eyes started to hurt. I haven't played properly for a long time now so will attempt some daily practice, starting with a 15 - 20 minute session, and gradually increase the length of time. I'm hoping it's due to a lack of stamina/practice rather than an issue with the recent eye problems. I was also very tired and fell asleep on the sofa when I got home, so it could a combination of things. I will go back to the optician if the problem continues though.

This afternoon, I've just been doing as little as possible! A quick check of the TV guide revealed that the first Harry Potter film is on later so I'll summon up the energy to do the bits and bobs that need to be done and then watch that.

Friday, 7 September 2018


I've overslept! I have that feeling that I should be somewhere else, not here, but I've checked my diary and there's nothing down for today. Oh well!

Today has to be all about band and getting ready for the return to Saturday practices tomorrow. There is always a lot of sorting out on the first day back; new junior players need to be issued with their black music folders, the contact details have to be checked with every parent, and there will be new music to issue. In addition, one of the windows in our storage room has been kicked in so I'll need to be available to help (as in supervise!) one of the parents who is going to do the repair for us - the window is barred so this is more a case of making it weather proofed again. Luckily this is the window by the big tubas so nothing was stolen but unluckily, all of those heavy tubas now have to be moved so that the repair and some form of security can be completed. I also need to sort out seven more instruments to bring home in preparation for the school workshops which start next Wednesday.

The work on the home hasn't started yet, which is a bit frustrating. N, D, J and the plasterer are coming to see me on Monday and we'll agree a date then. N is coordinating all of the work, but I'm hoping the electricians will be able to start next week. On the plus side, I've already sorted out the decorating and am now looking for new flooring. I have the leather swatch for the sofa so can spend some time visiting the local carpet stores, choose what I want and agree a price with them.

I've also decided on the sofa I want (Hampton 3 seater Chesterfield by Saxon Sofas in cream leather) and also the unit to fit along the wall under the TV (Simple TV Cabinet by Lock, Stock and Barrel, in mahogany). The TV will be wall mounted on a swivel bracket. I already have a mahogany davenport and will be looking to buy two (not necessarily matching) comfy armchairs as well, which will be upholstered in a patterned fabric. I'll also need a couple of side tables but haven't started looking for them yet. 

To start with, that's all the furniture I'll have in the room. My approach to settling into the house once all the work is finished is that I'll only have items of furniture that are needed and used, will only keep the ornaments that I truly love and enjoy looking at, and will only bring other items into the rooms that either serve a purpose or that I use regularly. I suppose I'm aiming for a comfy sort of minimalism, if that makes sense.

I need to get some breakfast brunch, so I'll sign off. Hope you all have a good day!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Take Three Thursday | Liverpool's Chinatown

I'm sharing three photos for Mary-Lou's 'Take Three Thursday' where we are asked to share three photos with a common theme. I've chosen three photos taken on the bus tour as we passed through Liverpool's Chinatown area. Liverpool's Chinatown is the oldest Chinese community in Europe, established in the 1830s when the first ship from China arrived in the port.   

The main routes into the area are guarded by a pair of lion dogs. This is the female with her paw restraining a pup. The male would have his paw resting on a ball.

The street signs are written in English and Chinese.

And the street lights are Chinese style lanterns with dragons entwined around the base.

Thanks go to Mary-Lou for organising this weekly link up.