Tuesday, 31 May 2016

2016 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt

It's that time of the year again ..... the 2016 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt starts tomorrow.  It's organised by Rinda over at Gallo Organico and is open to everyone.  The list will be published tomorrow and participants will have until September 21st 2016 to find all the photos.

I hope some of you will join in.  It really is a fun thing to do over the summer and, if past years are anything to go by, will make you get out and about to find the photos. I'll be joining in again, and I'm just a little bit excited about it.  Can you tell?

Monday, 30 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

A big hello to Sian and all the Monday people. 

I've been too busy with the decluttering to have had the time for many new experiences this week but I did find the time to play the piano for the first time for ages in my new improved music room.  Does that count?

Also, I used my new kettle and toaster in my shiny new kitchen, but I forgot to buy the filters so haven't used my new coffee maker yet. Does that count?

The only other thing I can think of is that my new (landline) phones have arrived so I'll be sorting them out as soon as I finish this post. It'll be another form of organising and moving forward in my life as, when I transfer the numbers over from the old phones, I'll delete all the numbers that are no longer needed - contact numbers for children I no longer teach, for Ced's business contacts, and especially for the medical contacts to do with his final illness - it'll be a relief not to have that constant reminder whenever I scroll past those numbers.  It's a task which is long overdue so I'd better get on with it!

Hope you all have a lovely week.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes ......

..... twenty-four little hours .....

You're all singing that song now aren't you?

Anyway, a few bursts of energy yesterday afternoon and for most of this morning and now the rooms look like this.

I've been concentrating on the things that are not band related or the sheet music - that all still has to be done.  The twenty boxes I started with have been sorted through and I've ended up deciding to only keep two box loads - one with things for the dresser when that's installed and one filled with stuff that'll be kept in the spare bedroom - things like instruction books and guarantees, prior year tax documents, family tree research.   

The majority of the stuff is being donated to charity but there's also a few things to give to friends/family or to be sold.  I've collected up the various tools around the house and most of them are moving out to the garage, just keeping a few useful ones indoors.  All the rest of the stuff is going to the skip.  

I've also started packing up some of the books ready to take them to the National Trust - each time I go upstairs I bring a stack down with me and so far have filled five carrier bags, but I'm not even a quarter way through that task yet.

I've had enough for today so will have a restful afternoon reading, and probably dozing - it was hot last night and I didn't sleep too well! - but I'll do some more tomorrow and then on Tuesday will do the skip run and charity shop donations.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Come On In ....

.... and I'll show you around.

We'll start in the hall where the flooring has been replaced. It was previously an orangey coloured laminate which was badly scratched with a few holes in places, and is now limed oak vinyl planks.  The mat well still has to be finished (hopefully next week) and it has to be decorated - it'll be done out in white throughout the house but I haven't given any thought as to when that'll be done.  

The door to the left of the front door (as we look at it in the photo) opens into the room I use as my music room, but which I think was supposed to be the study.  The closed door to the right is the cloakroom and following the hall round to the right leads to the living room.  The other door to the left leads into the dining room and kitchen.  I'm sitting on the first bend in the stairs to take this photo, hence the funny angles.

Here is my music room.  With all my sheet music and instruments, the storage in this room has always been a problem so I bought some Ikea Billy bookcases and they've been very cleverly installed to look like they are built in cupboards. I think this is my favourite part of the work so far.  I need to buy a couple of extra shelves and then I can put the sheet music away.

This photo is taken from the doorway so the new bookcases are hidden behind the door (you can just see the door handle on the left of the photo).  The piano is directly opposite the door and just fits nicely against the shorter wall.

Then standing with my back to the piano and looking out to the hall is where I currently keep my printer.  I need to buy a new white unit for this to stand on but for the time being am making do with the small table, and then to complete this room I need to buy curtains and a rug, and hang the pictures. I also need to find the piano stool and move it back in front of the piano.

The door directly opposite the music room is the cloakroom.  I've posted a photo of the new sink and units in here already.  The extra storage gained from having this done has made a big difference in getting organised - cleaning supplies in the bottom cupboards with medication and personal care things in the glass fronted cupboard.

Next it's the kitchen.  I've re-used the original units but they have been taken out and installed properly, so that the new oak work surface is level and correctly supported (they discovered that one corner of the old work surface was propped up by a plank of wood!), the electrics have been checked and are now safe and I've had a couple of extra socket fitted.  It's all new appliances and a new, decent sized sink but the boiler is still behind the corner wall cupboard as I couldn't afford to get it moved upstairs.  I changed to an induction hob, which I love and I'm so glad I didn't listen to the people who told me to stick with gas.  Oh, and the tiles are new as well!  The red kettle and toaster will be going as they've been replaced by cream ones - you can see them in a couple of these photos.  The red slow cooker will eventually be stored in the new dresser, but more about that later.

The drawer units next to the oven have replaced a small cupboard

These red storage canisters will be replaced with cream ones as soon as I see some that I like.  The fridge and freezer are behind the base cupboard doors - the fridge had always been there but the integrated freezer is a new addition.

Standing with my back to the sink and looking into the dining room you can see that I still have a lot of sorting to do!  Clearing the dining room and living room is my target for the next week, so expect some updates - it'll make me get on with it!

The pile of wood is a chair and the old printer cabinet, both broken down and waiting to go to the skip. The freezer will go out into the garage for the time being until I decide whether I still need to keep it. Bulk cooking and the convenience of having a selection of meals in the freezer suits my lifestyle and overcomes a lot of the problems of cooking for one, but I don't know whether I can make it work with just the small integrated freezer so am holding on to the other freezer until I'm sure.  This is where the new dresser will go - white and oak to match the table and chairs.

This photo is taken from the hall looking into the dining room.  I am probably going to have the flooring changed to match what's in the hall.  It wasn't part of my original plan but I much prefer the new flooring so now is the time to have it done if I am going to do it.

Finally, into the living room which as you can see is looking a tad untidy (understatement of the year!). The boxes are mostly filled with unwanted kitchen things or things that need to go in the new dresser when it's ready, so it shouldn't take too long to sort out and tidy up.

This end of the room, however, will take longer.  I have to sort the piles of sheet music again (!!) and work out what to keep but it can't be put away until I get the extra shelves for the new cupboards.  The pile of paperback books, along with approx. 150 books I need to bring down from upstairs, are being donated to the National Trust for their pop-up book sales, and they will be going next Wednesday.  The pile of boxes in front of the radiator is all band stuff which I'm working on but which will go back when we start again on June 11th, so I only have to find room for it until then, and the unit with the blue sheet over it is going to auction (but I don't quite know when).

So that's how things are looking for now.  I'll be glad to get the living room back to some sort of order and give it a good clean.  Next to happen is the work on the garden landscaping but I'm still waiting on quotes so work probably won't start much before August.  

Hope you've enjoyed the tour.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I'm half way through 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared' by Jonas Jonasson.  I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would - I think it's partly because I'm reading it on the Kindle and I much prefer to read a proper book.  Serves me right for being a cheapskate (the Kindle book was a free download!!).

Watched | I've only watched one thing this week.  I think it might be a new programme - 'No Such Thing as the News' - which is a review of the most interesting (i.e. funny/unusual) events of the week by the QI research team.  I'll watch it again if I'm staying in, and if I remember it's on.

Heard | The dawn chorus every morning this week .... a lovely way to start each day.

Made | A selection of meals for the freezer.  I need to get back into eating properly now that the kitchen is finished, so I've started on the bulk cooking again.  So far this week I've made tomato soup, shepherdess pie, macaroni cheese, and fish pie.

Worn I seem to be sticking to the same colour for whole weeks.  First it was blue, then red, last week was black & white, and this week it was burgundy's turn.  

And Lastly ... the last of the workmen were here today (gas boiler service/repair, and window cleaning and gutter clearing) so next week I'll have the house back to myself, which I'm really looking forward to.  It's half term so I have no teaching to do, and the plan is to get on and do some serious decluttering .... kitchen things, clothes, books and garage. 

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

Thursday, 26 May 2016

May Scavenger Hunt

I'm joining in for the first time with Hawthorn Spellweaver's monthly photo scavenger hunt.  It started in April and I had every intention of joining in .... and then life got in the way and I forgot!

Here's my photos for May 2016 ....

1. Path
the path around the lake at Coate Water Park

2. Hairy
Ced's cactus, which luckily thrives on neglect!

3. Edible
a special trip to Palmer Gardens cafe to buy a cherry scone to photograph for this prompt!

4. Small
the smallest of the 
matryoshka dolls, 1 cm tall
[looks like I should have dusted the piano before I took this photo!]

5. Poem
here's 'Duck's Ditty' from Wind in the Willows

6. Hands
H enjoying a mug of hot chocolate

7. Vintage
1930s petrol pumps in Steeple Ashton

8. Shadows
the shadow of the honeysuckle on the back fence

9. View from a window
the north-east tower of Farleigh Castle, seen through the car window

10. My own choice
a silhouette of a dandelion clock

Thanks to Hawthorn Spellweaver and Eldest for the list.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


This was supposed to be a set of photos from my trip out to the lavender farm today.  However, I had to rethink when I discovered that most of the lavender isn't in flower yet so instead, here's a set of the various purple flowers I found around the farm. [They are all purple, honestly, but blogger seems to have changed the colours slightly!]

Thanking Helena for organising the weekly SNAP link up.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

Waving a big hello to the Monday gang and sending thanks to Sian for organising this link up.

The photo was taken yesterday, when I visited Coate Water Park for the first time.  I met with friends for a photo walk which turned into mostly walking and chatting and very little photography. I did manage to complete my 10,000 daily steps on the walk around the lake, so that's also a first for me - completing that many steps in one activity.  

Apart from that, I don't think I have anything else to report.  I'm still tied up with sorting out the house and trying to get it presentable, so I haven't had much spare time to be out and about.  Today, so far, the boiler man has been to do a temporary fix so I will have hot water later today - I've been managing with kettles of hot water for the last few days, but he's ordered the part and will be back on Thursday to do the repair.  I've also had someone to quote for cleaning out the gutters as I noticed on Saturday that there is part of a bird's nest blocking one of the gutters on the back of the house - I think it must be left over from last year, or abandoned already this year, as I haven't seen any recent bird activity near it.  It's going later this week, anyway! 

I can't think of anything else to say so I'll make this post short and sweet!  Hope you all have a good week.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I'm reading 'Bitter Fruits' by Alice Clark-Platts.  It's a bit slow going to start off (I'm a quarter of the way through) - I prefer a fast pace in a crime novel.

Watched | Nothing again!  The living room is still piled high with furniture, music books and instruments while I'm waiting for the work to finish.  I can't even see the TV, let alone watch a programme!

Heard | Sorry, I haven't been listening to anything of note.  During the day the workmen have their radio on but it's just a background noise for me - I haven't really been listening - and in the evenings I've opted for peace and quiet, so haven't had any music on.  

Made | I've been making lots of decision on what stays and what goes. I've been ruthless, and have managed to reduce the kitchen paraphernalia by about two-thirds.  Well I say that, but it hasn't actually gone to the charity shop yet!

Worn | Mostly black and white - it's been a very monochrome sort of week.

And Lastly ... I'm taking a break from the house over the weekend.  On Saturday there is no band practice as we are taking the children busking instead, and then on Sunday I am meeting friends for a photo walk at Coates Water Park - I'm taking my new lens and hoping for some decent shots of the wildlife.  Hope you all have a good weekend with lots of fun things planned.

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

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


There was really only one choice for my photos for Helena's SNAP this week ..... I've waited most of the morning for a break in the rain to take some photos of raindrops.

Starting with a reflection in a raindrop on the metal bracket for a hanging basket.

Next, it's raindrops on leaves ....

.... followed by ripples from the raindrops falling into a tub of water, ......

.... and finishing with raindrops on a clematis bud.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

A bright and sunny Monday afternoon wave to Sian and all the other Mondayers. I've been racking my brains to think of anything new I've done, seen or heard over the last week but I'm struggling to come up with anything much, so just a short list of things to tell this time.

I have a drum kit in my house for the first time ever - don't worry, I have no plans to start playing the drums, I just drew the short straw on Saturday when the band played at a local fete and I ended up bringing half the kit home with me.  So that's just a nuisance, and doesn't really count as 'something new'.

My new bookcases for the music room were delivered this morning.  They'll be assembled and installed tomorrow, so then I can get on with the long overdue task of sorting out the sheet music. I chose the Billy bookcases (from Ikea) in the end opting for practicality and price, rather than the other ones I'd preferred but which were about four times more expensive and a lot smaller.  

My only other new thing is that I have cooked on my 'new' induction hob for the 'first time'.  It's not really much different from cooking on gas, which is what I had before, just a lot cleaner and looks smarter.  I'm happy I made the change. I'll be even happier when the rest of my new induction saucepans arrive so that I can cook a proper meal - having only one saucepan that works on induction hobs is limiting the meal choices!

I'll take some photos of the kitchen etc. later in the week when it's all finished and everything is back in its proper place.  Until then, I hope you all have a lovely week with lots of interesting and fun things planned.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Five on Friday | The little Things

Read | I'm in the middle of reading 'The Book of You' by Claire Kendal, a book group choice.  It's the sort of book I'd normally sit and read in one go, but that hasn't been possible this time with all the workmen in the house. Definitely  one to recommend.    

Watched | Nothing!  It's been a very quiet week and I haven't watched TV nor been to the cinema.

Heard | I listened to the Tom Hanks' Desert Island Discs podcast - I don't usually listen to this programme but read a recommendation on another blog about this particular episode.  I like Tom Hanks, so a very enjoyable listen.

Made | I'm in the middle of making order out of chaos, sorting out the kitchen.  The work in there has finished so now I have to put everything away again.  It's decision time - what stays and what goes?  When I was emptying the cupboards ready for the work to start, I found lots of things I'd never used in the three years I've been in the house, so it's time for a few charity shop donations.  

Worn With no washing machine for the last week or so, it's been a case of finding whatever is clean! I caught up with most of the laundry yesterday, so once I've tackled the pile of ironing it'll be back to normal.

And Lastly ... The kitchen is finished so now the contents of the music/study room have been moved to the living room, and work will start on replacing the flooring and fitting the much needed bookcases to store all the sheet music and smaller instruments. That should all be finished by the end of next week (he's fitting this work in amongst his other jobs), and then hopefully it'll be time to concentrate on the garden.

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

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


A quick post before the power goes off again!  Here are four keys I use regularly: car, door, band cupboard, sensor key (in a school).  

 Thanks again to Helena for organising this.  

Monday, 9 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

I don't seem to have left the house much over the past week but when I finally sat down to think about the new things and first times, I've actually managed to come up with quite a long list!

Not a particularly great one to start with though. The day after I bought my new car I picked up a chip on the windscreen - the first time this has ever happened to me and, to go with it, it was also the first time I've used Autoglass and the first time I've had a replacement windscreen fitted. 

Following on from that, I couldn't drive the car straight away so I decided to treat myself to a takeaway delivery, and for the first time I ordered and paid for the meal online instead of phoning for it.  

Last Monday I started two new free online courses - 'Anatomy: Know Your Abdomen' and 'Food as Medicine', both really interesting.  The anatomy was only for two weeks so I finished it this morning and was a taster for me to see if I thought I'd be able to study human biology at A level standard or whether I'd find it difficult to retain the information. I enjoyed the level of detail so am considering starting a biology A level in September.  The food as medicine course is on for another week and is fascinating.

On Wednesday, for the first time I went to see a local big band play (swing, rock and pop music).  This is the band the conductor of the youth band plays in; I've been promising to go for ages and finally got round to it. It was a great evening - I loved it!

On Thursday I watched 'Jurassic World' for the first time as we celebrated Lauren's 19th birthday.  The Jurassic series isn't really my choice of films but this one was watchable and not too scary!

And finally, on Sunday for the first time I made and drank a non alcoholic mojito!

Linking with Sian and waving to all the other Mondayers.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

5 in 5 | Home Improvements

It's time for Sandie's 5 in 5 again, so this month I thought I'd share some photos of the work in progress on the home improvements.  

The first two photos show the work so far in the kitchen.  The new worktops went in yesterday and today they are connecting the sink, installing some of the appliances and also hope to make a start on the tiling.

This is a look back into the dining room - still very much a storage/prep area. There is nothing to be done in the dining room for this stage of the home improvements - I want to get a dresser but that'll fit on the opposite wall.  The table and chairs will go under the sunset picture, in front of the french doors.

The flooring has been taken up in the hallway and cloakroom (the door on the right) and will also be removed from the music/study room (the door on the left).  It was honey coloured laminate which was scratched beyond repair and, in the music/study room, there were big holes in it.  You can see the replacement flooring in the bottom left of the photo - it's limed oak (on offer at 50% of original price!) and it's vinyl planks instead of laminate.  There will also be a recessed doormat inside the front door and, if there is enough money, the front door will be replaced as well.

The final photo shows the new sink and storage in the cloakroom. I had problems with the exposure but it is all white, not the grey in the photo. You can just about see the colour in the tiles under the mirror cabinet - they are iridescent and reflect in the light from the circular window behind the toilet. This is nearly finished - they just have to grout the tiles and lay the flooring.

The kitchen and cloakroom will be finished this week and the flooring will be completed by the end of next week.  I'll post some more photos when it's done.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Memorandum Monday

It's a rather mixed set of first times and new things this week.

I tried lime and chilli flavoured popcorn for the first time - strangely moreish, and luckily low in calories.

I learnt a new fact ... that it is thought that it wasn't until relatively modern times that people were able to see the colour blue.  You can read about it here if you are interested.

I saw Sean Lock on stage for the first (and last!) time on Friday night.  I'd been looking forward to seeing him for ages but was slightly disappointed by his act, which wasn't as funny as I'd been expecting from seeing him on TV. I wasn't the only one, as a few people walked out during the second half.

For the first time ever I actually made one of the recipes I'd saved on Pinterest - a kale, tomato and quinoa soup which tasted much better than it sounds!  Am I the only person who saves lots of ideas on Pinterest and then promptly forgets all about them?

Hope you all have a lovely Bank Holiday Monday and a good week to follow.

Linking with Sian at From High in the Sky.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful in April

I'm joining in with Ella's 'Reasons to be Cheerful', looking back through April to remember the highlights and the little things that brightened the month.

  • Enjoying the progress the new beginners have made in the youth band. Four of them are nearly ready to be promoted into the junior band and the rest are not far behind. It's always a good start to the weekend, spending time with enthusiastic children and sharing their delight as their playing improves bit by bit.
  • Attending a singing workshop and bumping into a friend I'd lost touch with. We didn't have much time to chat on the day but we've exchanged numbers and will be meeting up towards the end of next week.
  • Watching the changes announcing that Spring has arrived as I explore the village on my early morning walks, and ...
  • ... feeling the benefit of losing weight and starting to feel fitter. The effort is paying off and I'm beginning to feel better in myself.
  • Being given a brand new Pentax DSLR with three lenses and numerous filters - an unbelievably generous gift from people I don't know very well but who knew I'm interested in photography.
  • Absolutely loving my new car.  Driving is fun again!
  • I've managed some more decluttering during April.  It's mostly paperwork and teaching resources that I no longer need but its disposal is freeing up a lot of space around the house and I feel 'lighter' in myself as a result.
  • Keeping to my promise to have fresh flowers in the house makes it feel more like a home for some reason.  I've been treating myself to a fresh bunch every week.
  • Enjoying some fun outings, seeing Mamma Mia, Sean Lock, Altan, and Shakespeare Live! 
  • The kitchen/cloakroom improvements have started!! It's currently at the 'looking worse before it looks better' stage, but it should be finished next week.  I can then put all the stuff back where it belongs and reclaim my living room ... can't wait!