Friday, 29 April 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I haven't read any new books this week but I have been reading through music scores to find some new music to play.

Watched | I went to see Bastille Day (excellent film) and also the Shakespeare Live event to celebrate the 400th anniversary.  I wasn't sure what to expect but thoroughly enjoyed it, although ... am I the only person who thought it would have been better without Catherine Tate?  I also started watching 'Undercover' and 'Hinterland' on iPlayer. 

Heard | I went to see Altan, an Irish folk group, at the Wiltshire Music Centre earlier this week.  I was overtired and not really looking forward to it, but in the end, it turned out to be a brilliant evening.  A group I'd definitely go to see again if I ever have the chance. 

Made | I've made room in my wardrobe for some new clothes.  I did the 40 items to charity for Lent but I've carried on sorting and have let lots more things go.  It's time for a change now I'm retired - I don't need as many outfits for when I'm teaching but do need a lot more casual clothes.

Worn | I've worn a lot of red this week.  It seems to have suited my mood!

And Lastly ... I'm off the see Sean Lock (the comedian) at the Colston Hall in Bristol later tonight.  I've had the ticket for ages and I'm excited to see him live ... hope he lives up to my expectations!

Thanks to Morgana for organising the Little Things, and to Amy for organising Five on Friday.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Memorandum Monday

Waving to all my fellow Mondayers and asking if you can guess what my new thing is this week?

... it's black and shiny

... it's on my drive, and

... the photo is the biggest clue!

I bought my new (to me) car home on Friday .... a Renault Clio which is in immaculate condition and has very low mileage for its 2011 plate.  Sorry about the quality of the photo - I'm not very good at photographing black, shiny things! I haven't done any long journeys in it yet but, just from the short trips I've done around town, I know I'm going to enjoy driving it. It has a factory installed sat nav that I still have to work out how to use and update, but I've managed to retune the radio to my favourite station so that's the most important thing done!

Thank you to Sian for organising this link up and hope you all have a lovely week.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I'm reading the info provided in a FutureLearn course I've been doing for the past 6 weeks - 'Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree'.  This is the final week of the course and I've learnt such a lot from it - it's rekindled my enthusiasm for the subject so I will be renewing my subscription to Ancestry in the near future.

Watched | I went to see Jungle Book and loved every minute of it. I hadn't been too keen at first as I couldn't see how it could possibly improve on the original Disney version, but it was brilliant.

Heard | I've been listening to a talking book as I've been driving around.  It's the 'Talking Heads' series by Alan Bennett.

Made | I've made progress in my search for a new car and am off to view a Renault Clio in about an hour. I went round various garages, sat in the cars on my short list and the Clio came out as my favourite.  The one I'm looking at is black, which isn't the red I was thinking of, but it is a much higher specification with very low mileage so that's the only compromise.

Worn I'm worn out, getting the house ready for the workmen to start next week.  Kitchen, electrics, plumbing, cloakroom, hall and study flooring will all be finished in about two weeks.  In the meantime the contents of the dining room, kitchen cupboards and study are packed into the living room and one of the bedrooms, so the whole place just looks a mess.  I keep telling myself it will be worth it.

And Lastly ... I'm treating myself to a new-to-me lens for my camera.  I'm buying it from one of my friends in the camera group and have had it on loan for the last two weeks.  It's a Canon 100 - 400 mm lens, and I'm buying it so that I can have a serious attempt at bird photography.

Thanks to Morgana for organising the Little Things, and to Amy for organising Five on Friday.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


I've been out in the garden hunting for photos to share with you for Helena's SNAP! meme this week. I've found some pretty reminders of how lovely nature is; there are three showing promise of what is to come and the fourth is a reminder that the beauty remains even after the showy flower petals disappear.

My favourite clematis has lots of buds ...

... and the pieris is getting ready for its display of delicate pink flowers

The hydrangea is looking less dead (that's a horticultural term!) and is covered in buds .....

.... and a summer snowdrop, holding on to its last petal, is still adding colour and interesting shapes to that part of the garden. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Memorandum Monday

Waving to you all on an overcast Monday morning and hoping that it stays dry for the rest of the day as I have lots of tidying to do in the garden.

It's been another busy so I do have a few 'new' and 'first' things to report.  I've already written about one of them - drawing zentangles for the first time and adding a new hobby to my list.

Yesterday I went on a singing workshop run by Helen Yeomans.  It's not the first time I've been to a workshop like this but it is the first time I've been to one organised by Helen. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and I was over the moon to see a familiar face in the room - a friend I used to work with but we'd lost touch about 12 years ago when we both changed jobs.  Phone numbers have been exchanged and we'll be meeting up in a couple of weeks.

On Saturday, I met with friends for a photo walk at the Caen Hill Locks in Devizes and we finished the walk with a coffee in the Caen Hill cafe - a pleasant way to end the afternoon and the first time I've been in the cafe.  

Another new is that I've tried some new-to-me flavours of hummus - hot and spicy, and caramelised onion, both of which I liked.  These were bought in Sainsburys but I plan to have a go at making my own.

Finally, I've been exploring the village on my morning walks, discovering new-to-me routes to try to keep the walking interesting.  It's going well so far, although there are a surprising number of cul-de-sacs in the newer part of the village, so a lot of doubling back taking place.  

Thanks to Sian for organising this and wishing you all a happy and healthy week ahead.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Saturday Check-In

I've lost a pound this week so that makes a grand total of 10 pounds in 25 days. I'm hoping to lose a pound a week from now on - that's what my daily calorie intake is calculated to achieve, according to My Fitness Pal.

I did go over the set amount of calories on two days, those being the days I still teach.  The problem was the packed lunches, so I need to put a bit more thought into that aspect of my diet and do a bit of forward planning ... it should be easy enough.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I'm still reading The Lie by C L Taylor.  It should actually be a pleasant, easy read but for some unknown reason I'm making hard work of it.  

Watched | We went to the Odeon Screen Unseen on Monday where we saw 'Demolition'.  I probably wouldn't have gone to see it from watching the trailer but it was a pleasant enough way of passing a couple of hours.  And, of course, I went to see Mamma Mia which was absolutely brilliant!

Heard | I've been hooked on all the Abba songs since seeing Mamma Mia.  I've also been listening to Frances, especially her new single - 'Don't Worry About Me

Made | Band practice starts again tomorrow morning so I've been getting the new music sorted for the children to add to their folders tomorrow - it takes ages, not my favourite job. I've also been indulging in my new hobby - making Zentangles (see here).

Worn | Clothes that are starting to feel loose - nearly time to go shopping again!

And Lastly ... It's time to change my car.  I think I'd like a Volkswagen Polo but I'll make my final decision after I've trotted around the garages and sat in all the various cars on my list.  This is the first time I've had to choose a car on my own so once I've decided on the model I want, my friendly mechanic is going to help me find the actual car ... which is a relief!

Thanks to Morgana for organising the Little Things, and to Amy for organising Five on Friday.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Change of Plan

Things never go according to plan, do they?

When the person came to measure up for the kitchen, she also measured for a replacement sink and cupboards in the cloakroom. I'd chosen a compact range designed especially for small cloakrooms and was assured it would fit, so she went ahead and placed the order for me.  It was delivered last Friday but she'd ordered the wrong stuff and, instead of the compact range, the full size bathroom range was delivered - way too big for the space.

I phoned the company and, although they agreed it was their mistake, it couldn't be replaced in time for the installation date and they were being difficult about a refund.  There was absolutely no way any of it could be made to fit so, after our trip to the theatre on Saturday, we went along to Ikea where I chose and collected the items I needed, saving myself £250 and also having the peace of mind to know that everything was ready and waiting for the installation.

I'd decided that if I couldn't get a refund from the original company, I'd just take a loss and sell the stuff on Gumtree.  However, today I went to plan B and loaded all the stuff into the car and took it back to the store, demanded to see the manager and got my refund.  He said that there was no question that I was entitled to a refund and he'll investigate why I'd been told otherwise, but I'm not holding my breath to hear back about it.

The new range from Ikea is similar to the one I'd originally chosen, so I'm happy with 'the look' I'll (eventually) have. Now, please will everyone keep their fingers crossed that the installation starts on the agreed date!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


I'm playing SNAP with Helena today, as I too am showing my results from trying out a new-to-me craft. Yesterday I was on a 'Zentangle with Watercolours' course in Marlborough.  I'd wanted to try my hand at Zentangles for ages - another one of those things I kept saying I wanted to do but never found the time to get my act together, and the watercolour aspect seemed to add that little bit extra so I signed myself up for the course.

Here's the results:

A small sample to start with, just copying the Zentangle patterns that were drawn on the whiteboard ....

Next, we tried out first Zentangle picture ....

.... and then we tried another one where we added the watercolour paint to the design (which hasn't photographed properly for some reason).

After lunch we had the rest of the time to work on our own picture.  I opted for a sunflower but decided against adding the colours - I much prefer the black and white designs.

The only thing I didn't like about the course was that, although there were a few examples of the various patterns to copy, for the most part we were left to make up our own Zentangle patterns ourselves.  I had a look online last night and have printed out some sample patterns to practice .... I'm hooked on Zentangles now, it's another cheap, fun way to relax.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Memorandum Monday

Hello Monday people!  I hope the weather is better where you are - it's cold and wet here, and all together a bit of a miserable way to start the week.  Still, it can only get better!

Before I sat down to write this post I thought I had lots of new things to tell you, but I've been hit by a bad case of brain freeze and I can now only think of the films I watched during the week ... so we'll have to go with those.

First up is Midnight Special, which I saw at the Odeon Screen Unseen last week. It was a reasonably enjoyable film, sort of an updated E.T. but not as cute.  You may have guessed that it wasn't really my sort of film but at least I didn't have to pay full price to watch it (all seats at screen unseen are £5). 

Much more to my liking was 'Eddie the Eagle', a brilliantly funny feel good film. This is a 'must see' film, I can't recommend it enough. You may have guessed that I loved this one!

Another film I loved was 'Snow Cake' starring Alan Rickman.  I'm making an effort to watch more of his work as I really only know him from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and the Harry Potter series. I was pleasantly surprised by this one and it's another film I'd say is worth a viewing.

My final film was 'Jack Reacher' starring Tom Cruise.  I wasn't impressed!  I know the books well and Tom Cruise just doesn't have the stature or presence to play the eponymous character, so that spoilt it for me.  Never mind!

Oh, and one more thing ... how could I forget ... I saw the Mamma Mia musical on Saturday. It was brilliant and I enjoyed it so much more than the film version. I still have the Abba songs on my mind ... which is probably why I can't remember what else I wanted to write about!

Hope you all have a good week, and thanks to Sian for this weekly link up.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Saturday Check-In

As predicted by Betty, I haven't lost any more weight this week but on the plus side I haven't gained any either, so I'm still recording a loss so far of 9lbs in 18 days. I was sort of expecting the scales to show a gain of a pound or two because I wasn't totally convinced that last week's weight was correct. It now seems like it was, so I'm a happy bunny!

I just continued in the same way this week with the food (calorie counting) but haven't managed any where near as much exercise so I need to concentrate on including that in my day.  It should be easier this week as I don't need to stay in waiting for deliveries and will have plenty of time to get out for walks ... no excuses!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I've read Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh.  I sort of enjoyed it but not sure that I'd recommend it as a 'must read' - it was a bit slow.  I've just started on The Lie by C L Taylor.

Watched | It's been a week for watching films.  I watched 'Jack Reacher' starring Tom Cruise on Netflix, which was okay but he just doesn't have the physical presence that the Reacher in the books is supposed to have.  I also watched 'Snow Cake' starring the late great Alan Rickman and it didn't disappoint - a lovely, thoroughly enjoyable film.  Finally, a night at the Odeon watching the brilliant 'Eddie the Eagle' film - a fantastic, inspiring feel good film - definitely one to watch.

Heard | I've listened to the radio a few times but can't think of anything I've heard that really stands out in my memory.

Made | I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen this week, bulk cooking to refill the freezer.  I've stuck to the tried and tested recipes for now - lentil and vegetable soup, chilli, bolognese sauce, shepherdess pie, chickpea curry, and tomato and chilli soup.  I'll wait until the kitchen is finished and then try out some new recipes.

Worn Blue!  It seems to have been the week for wearing blue.

And Lastly ... I'm off to Bristol tomorrow with Julie to see Mamma Mia at the Hippodrome.  We'll have an Abba CD on in the car so that we have a chance to sing along with all the songs to get us in the right mood ... can't wait!

Thanks to Morgana for organising the Little Things, and to Amy for organising Five on Friday.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Best Laid Plans

The work I'm having done in the kitchen and cloakroom was scheduled to start w/c 18th April so the dining room table was moved into the living room to make space for all the new stuff.  The replacement cabinets, sink, work surface and appliances for the kitchen have already been delivered, with the sink and cabinets for the cloakroom expected tomorrow. I've chosen and collected the tiles for both rooms as well.

This is what the dining room looks like.  

There is just enough room to open the fridge without knocking into the lengths of work surface and, with some careful manoeuvring, I can still get out to the french doors to take the rubbish out. I only had to live like this for a short time so wasn't too stressed about it.  

Then last night I received an email postponing the installation until May 2nd at the earliest.  It's unavoidable and these things happen and I admit to being disappointed about the delay, but cheered up by the fact that he has given me a 5% discount in compensation. 

I've decided not to postpone any of the other improvements as a result of this delay so on Saturday am off to Ikea to order the bookcase(s) for the music room/study and next week will go over to Chippenham to order the dresser for the dining room.  I'll arrange for Ikea to install the bookcase(s) (they have to be assembled and then fixed to the wall) so, once that's done I can get on with organising that room and deciding what stays and what goes.  There is a 10 - 12 week delivery on the dresser so the kitchen should definitely be finished and decorated before that arrives, and then I'll be able to have my paperweights on display again.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I'm sharing four photos of street art in Bath for Helena's SNAP! link up.  They are along the wall in Walcot Street and I photographed a couple of them as part of the Winter Photography Scavenger Hunt. At the time I thought I wouldn't be able to photograph any more of them because the pavement doesn't extend along underneath the other ones I'd seen so it wouldn't be safe on such a busy road. Today, however, I looked properly and realised that there are more of them than I thought and there was actually a handy pavement for safety, so here are some of the others ...

 Thank you again to Helena for organising this.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tuesday Afternoon

I'm joining in again with Kara's Tuesday Afternoon link up, where she extends this invitation ..........

won’t you come with me and see the beauty of
Tuesday Afternoon
Your post can be about anything
that feeds your spirit
and the family friendly nature of
a spirit of simplicity

This post really carries on from my 5 in 5 post; a good look around the garden this morning showed me that some of my plants haven't made it through the winter but thankfully the three that are special to me are all looking good.

The spirea needs pruning and shaping but it is covered in new leaves.

The leucothoe is one of the first plants I bought for this garden and is looking good with its strong winter colour.

And finally, the euonymus ... I'd be devastated if I lost this one but it has made it through the winter and is covered in buds.

5 in 5 | The Garden in April

The garden is sadly neglected!  There, I've admitted it.  I've been concentrating on the changes in the house and trying to sort out the remainder of my late partner's possessions so haven't really done all that is needed to keep the garden looking its best. It shows!  I have to stay in today for the delivery of the new kitchen appliances, so I toddled around the garden to find my five photos for Sandie's 5 in 5 and, at first glance, I struggled to find enough things to photograph.

Nature, however, is able to overcome my neglect and although it looks like some plants haven't made it through the winter, there are plenty of signs of new growth for this year.

The lupins, holding raindrops and turning towards the sun.

My favourite clematis which was damaged in one of the winter storms has survived and is getting ready to flower.

The summer snowdrops are in flower ...

... and I was delighted to see that there are still some daffodils ready to open.

The neighbour's honeysuckle has grown back over the fence.  I may leave it for a while as there is nothing in that part of the garden yet, so it will give me some colour to enjoy. 

Thanks go to Sandie for organising this monthly link up.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Memorandum Monday

Image courtesy of blackzheep at

A happy Monday morning wave to all the other Monday people. It's been another week of plenty of 'new' and 'first' things - I like this way of looking at my life and realising that, even without making a conscious effort to do something new, that boundary of new experiences, knowledge and possessions is constantly being stretched.  Thanks Sian, for organising such a clever and positive weekly link up.

First on the list is my new phone - my first ever iphone, hence the photo (although mine is white), and so far I am loving it. Linked with that purchase are a couple more firsts in the form of two new to me apps.  I am now using Map My Walk, (big thank you to Barbara for the recommendation), which connects with My Fitness Pal (the app I'm using to monitor my daily calorie intake).  I've also signed up for Instagram as a_bracelet_of_days if anyone wants to follow me, but there's no rush as I haven't added any photos yet!

Still on the new technology in my life, I now have access to Netflix - my friend's daughter pays for extra logs ins for her family and she is letting me use one of them.  I had a quick look at it last night and felt almost overwhelmed by the choice.  In the end I settled for the Tom Cruise film, 'Jack Reacher' - not as bad as I thought it would be, but Cruise is definitely not the Jack Reacher of the books!

Changing tack completely, on Saturday I was shown a new to me short cut to Lacock which uses the country lanes instead of the main roads. It's really only a short cut from Julie's home in Melksham but useful to know as a way of avoiding the main roads at busy times.

And finally, I've learnt a new word - I'm usually quite slow at picking up on these things, so you probably all know it already.  The word is 'farnarkling', which apparently 'is the group activity whereby everyone sits around discussing the need to "do something" but nothing actually happens'.  Isn't it a brilliant word?

Hope you all have a great week.  

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Saturday Check-In

I weighed myself for the first time since my visit to the doctor and the start of this latest attempt to turn my life around.  My own scales show a loss of 9lbs (4kg) in 11 days, which I find really hard to believe. I checked again at a friend's home and got the same result, so the starting weight must have been wrong.  It seems too big a loss in such a short time.  I'll check on the big scales in Boots next time I'm in town - I'll be over the moon if it is accurate but realistically I know it isn't, although I can tell I have lost some weight .... just not that much!

I've been really good at sticking to the number of calories set for each day. I'm trying to avoid all processed food and where it is unavoidable, then opt for choices that have a maximum of five ingredients listed - this is in line with the information on the 100 Days of Real Food blog. I'm also making an effort to eat more of the foods that could help to reduce cholesterol - oily fish, for example, and to drink the recommended amount of water every day. So far, these changes are proving to be easier that I thought and I'm enjoying the meals I'm eating.

As for exercise, I've made a real effort to be more active.  I started walking around the village on alternate days, with steps and exercises indoors on the other days - about 30 minutes of exercise every day. I start my day with this and then, whatever else I plan to do that day, it is over and done with.

So, I'm off to a good start and feel positive about how it's gone so far.  I can monitor the weight and exercise but not the cholesterol, obviously.  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that I'm making the correct changes to reduce that figure as well - any tips for reducing cholesterol will be very much appreciated.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I finished reading 'Water for Elephants', which I loved and would recommend for a good read.  I haven't started another book yet as I too busy reading up on garden design and planting schemes.  I'm browsing the internet looking for ideas for the garden layout; I thought I knew what I wanted but then someone suggested incorporating raised/tiered beds, which is a good idea but now I need to fill my brain with lot of ideas and then let it all simmer until I come up with the final plan.  I hope!

Watched | I watched the remaining episodes of 'Thirteen' on iPlayer.  I thoroughly enjoyed the series  - it's another recommendation if anyone is looking for something to watch.  I'll probably have a look at 'The Night Manager' next, as a few of my friends are raving about it.

Heard | I've been listening to a new to me group - Dark, Dark, Dark.  I like the theme tune to 'Thirteen' which turned out to be one of their songs, 'In Your Dreams'. 

The female singer's voice has quite a quality to it that I really love and I was hoping that I'd found another group to add to my list but, from listening to a lot of their stuff on Youtube, i think that they are, for me, a one hit group.

Made | I've been making space in the dining room for the delivery today of the additional units etc, for the kitchen.  The dining room table has been moved to the living room for the time being and I've started packing away some of the kitchen things that I can manage without until the work is completed. Most of the new appliances will arrive next Tuesday with the last one due to arrive later the following week, and I've had a phone call to say that the tiles are ready for collection.  Work is due to start on the 18th, so not too long to wait.

Worn | Am I the only person still wearing gloves?  I never used to bother with them but my hands are freezing most of the time now, and I can't go without wearing them.  It must be an 'age' thing!

And Lastly ... the lifestyle change, with calorie counting for weight loss and the daily exercise is going well.  I've still been out for meals with friends but have been making more sensible choices from the menus and at home, have been eating less meat, and more fish and vegetables.  I think I have lost weight but I haven't actually weighed myself yet as I need to get some better scales.  The positive thing is that I am not finding it difficult to do so that's a bonus.

Thanks to Morgana for organising the Little Things, and to Amy for organising Five on Friday.