Saturday, 30 July 2016

Decluttering Progress

It's been a busy day on the decluttering front. 

It couldn't be put off any longer so Julie came over this morning and we started on the Garage Clearance Stage 1.  I've been dreading it, but in the end it wasn't too bad. We filled both cars and took a load of rubbish to the skip, some of it was Julie's and some of it was mine; broken treadmill, tons of unwanted cardboard, tatty bookcase, dismantled merchants chest and some general waste.  Then we sorted through what was left in the end of the garage nearest the up and over door and photographed everything, ready to advertise online. That's my job next week - to try to sell some things via Gumtree, and also to approach one of the local reclamation yards to see if they are interested in a few of the things.  

That leaves the middle of the garage to be sorted (stage 2) and then the far end (stage 3) which is where all the gardening stuff will live - that really just needs tidying. 

We then moved the furniture out of the kitchen/diner as the new flooring is going to be laid next week. The workmen moved the big freezer out to the garage for me, and Julie and I moved the dining suite and an oak bookcase into the living room, so that room is now empty. The furniture will stay in the living room until the room has been decorated, which will hopefully be late next week or early the following week. 

The workmen were here to fit the new bookcases in the second bedroom.

I just have to arrange for the pine strip in the centre of the first photo to be painted white and then they are finished.  I'll probably change the handles at some stage, but they will do for now.  And the carpet has to be cut to fit, but it'll probably stay as it is for now until I know how much the garden landscaping is going to cost; once I know that I can decide whether to get new carpets or not - the one in this room is in particularly bad condition. 

I'm too tired to do much now, so moving the stuff back into the room will have to wait until tomorrow. Later, I'm going over to Julie's home to have my hair cut and share a takeaway, most likely a Chinese, so it'll be an evening catching up on all the gossip.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I finished reading 'I Saw a Man' by Owen Sheers. I bought this on the spur of the moment when I was in London and although I read through it really quickly I'm not sure that I can say that it really 'grabbed' me. I'm currently reading 'Little Boy Blue' by M J Arlidge.

Watched | I caught up with the latest series of 'Fake or Fortune?' and 'Eat Well For Less', both on BBC 1.  I'm constantly amazed by how much people spend on their weekly food bills and on how little cooking some families actually do.  I also watched the first four Harry Potter films (on DVD at home) and went to the cinema to see The BFG  .... all brilliant films.

Heard | 'The Archers'.  I don't know the characters properly and I keep forgetting to listen to it, but I like it enough to keep trying.  I'm sure that if I listen often enough I'll be addicted to it!

Made | I made progress on the second bedroom.  The room has been decorated this week (not by me I hasten to add, I paid for a decorator!) and the new bookcases will be fitted tomorrow. Then next week I can start finding places for the things I decided to keep.  I'm hoping to have it all organised and put away by this time next week.

Worn | I seem to have spent the week in leggings and baggy t-shirts, my preferred attire for decluttering/housework type activities.  These outfits aren't for wearing out though .... the world is not ready for that sight!

And Lastly ... Next week will be a quiet week at home for me. It's the school holiday so I have no teaching commitments and the band it also on a summer break. If the weather is good (but hopefully not quite so hot), I'll be pottering in the garden doing a much needed tidy up (in between putting all my chosen 'keeps' in the new bookcases). 

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

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


I'm sharing some of the photos I took at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition for Helena's SNAP meme this week.  I'm surprised that visitors were allowed to photograph the exhibits but there were no restrictions at all. 

Here's a set of four different life sized statues I liked, all taken using my iPhone.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Memorandum Monday

Sending a big Monday morning wave to Sian and all the Monday gang.  I have lots to tell you this week so I'll warn you that this is a long post.

I spent three days in London last week, staying in a Travelodge hotel, which was a 'first' for me.  I've never used the Travelodge chain before but will certainly consider using them again.  This hotel was chosen as it was only fifteen minutes walk from the Queens Theatre where they are showing Les Miserables.

I've seen a couple of amateur productions of the show and also the recent musical/film but this was my 'first time' of seeing a professional production of Les Miserables.  I loved it!  This show, together with the Harry Potter play, was my belated 60th birthday treat (from last November) to myself and was worth waiting for.

I saw Les Mis on the Tuesday night and the next day I saw both parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  Two 'new' plays and the 'first' time I've seen them (though I will go again if I get the opportunity!). It was a completely different experience to see the story as a stage play rather than a film, and of course with different actors in the lead roles.  For the first 5 -10 minutes I wasn't sure I'd like it, but then got wrapped up in the story and didn't give my doubts a second airing.  Again, I loved it!

I can't tell you anything about the storyline as we were asked to 'KeepTheSecrets', but if you are a Potterhead, it's a must see! 

Another 'first' is seeing someone play Pokemon Go.  In the interval at the Harry Potter play a couple sitting in the row in front of me switched their phones on and started checking for pokemons and doing whatever else it is they do with the game.  I don't see the attraction of the game but they were definitely hooked on it.

On the Wednesday morning I went to see the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I've seen TV programmes about this, and about the process of choosing the exhibits, but this is the 'first' time I've ever actually been to see it. It was fascinating, all sorts of styles being exhibited.  Lots of the paintings were too modern/abstract for my taste but there was still plenty to keep me interested.  I'm glad I went and I'd consider going again in future years. I arrived at the exhibition at the same time as the comedian Simon Day (of the Fast Show), so another 'first' is seeing him.

Another 'new' was seeing The BFG dream jar trail around London. I saw a few of them as I was wandering around, but didn't have enough free time to complete the entire trail. I'm off to see the film on Thursday.

For the 'first' time ever, I used the Facebook check-in feature when I was in London. I don't usually update Facebook very often but I made the decision to use this feature for a while as a not too subtle way of showing an acquaintance who mistakenly thinks I never go anywhere, exactly where I go and what I get up to. I also made a conscious decision to leave my DSLR at home, so for the 'first' time I experienced London with only my iPhone camera, hence the quality of the photos! 

My final 'first' was a tour around the Houses of Parliament. It was fascinating, but almost too rushed - it seemed to happen at top speed and the guide kept starting his spiel before most of the group had caught up with him.  Despite that, I enjoyed the tour - I'm always interested in every aspect of British history, but I especially love the traditions we have and the Palace of Westminster is full of them. 

That's the lot for this week.  I hope  that the good weather holds out for the week and that you all have lots of interesting things planned.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I finished reading 'Daughter' by Jane Shemilt - I loved it, definitely one to recommend.  I've also read 'A Spool of Blue Thread' by Anne Tyler - not quite what I was expecting but a pleasant read. I've just started on 'I Saw a Man' by Owen Sheers.

Watched | Earlier in the week I watched 'The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug' on TV.  I'm not enjoying the Hobbit trilogy of films as much as I did the Lord of the Rings trilogy - I feel that they've stretched the story too far and would have been better making only two films instead.  I was also lucky enough to see 'Les Miserables' and both parts of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' on a short break to London this week - both shows were amazing. 

Heard | I listened to the commentary on the Original Sightseeing Bus Tour around London. I was lucky enough to be on a bus with live commentary - so much better than the recorded version.

Made | I made progress on ticking things off my 101 things in 1001 days list - that's three more things crossed off this week.

Worn | I've worn myself out!  It was way too hot in London this week and I feel completely drained of energy. I only have today to recover though, because ....

And Lastly ... I'm back up to London again on Saturday, this time for a tour of the Houses of Parliament. Not particularly good planning on my part, but this trip was booked months ago before I managed to get the Harry Potter theatre tickets. It's a coach trip so it won't be as tiring; no driving, no London Underground, just (almost) door to door service.

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

Monday, 18 July 2016

Memorandum Monday

Greetings to Sian and all my fellow Mondayers.  

I'm sharing a bit of an odd 'new' with you today. Well, I think it's a 'new' but it may actually be something I'd completely forgotten about as I find it hard to believe that I didn't know this. Yesterday, I walked down a road in Bradford-on-Avon which is just off the town centre, but not a route I can remember ever taking before. I was completely surprised to see a level crossing - I honestly wasn't aware of this so am counting it as my something 'new' this week ... but it's only about 3 miles from home (i.e., the town I've lived in all my life!) so I sort of feel that this must be one of those 'I forgot I knew this' things. Am I the only one who forgets things like this?

Hope you all have a good week.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

5 in 5 | Horses

Better late than never, here's my selection of photos for Sandie's 5 in 5.  A friend has car problems and needed a lift to where she stables her horse, so I had a lovely time pottering about with my camera this afternoon while she did what she had to do!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I finished reading 'The Kill' by Jane Casey.  It's the first time I've read one of her books but I will be looking out for others.  The Kill is the fifth book in a series featuring the same female detective so I'm going to look for the others and read them in order.  I also read 'The Never List' by Koethi Zan which was rather more brutal than I was expecting it to be.  I'm now reading 'Daughter' by Jane Shemilt.

Watched | I've watched the first two episodes of 'The Ghost Inside My Child' which tells the stories of children who remember a previous life. It's been fascinating to hear all the research that their parents have done to try to trace their child's previous life but I'm not sure that I'm totally convinced.

Heard | I've been listening to Heart radio as background music while I've been getting on with the decluttering but nothing stands out as worth a mention. 

Made | I've made the effort to empty the second bedroom so that it can be decorated before the new bookcases are installed. By the end of July it should all be done and I can start putting things away in the cupboards. 

Worn | All of my shoes look worn - they probably have been for ages but now I've noticed it, something has got to be done - I feel a shoe shopping trip happening in the near future.

And Lastly ... I'm seeing Les Miserables and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2 next week.  I am understandably excited!

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

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window ...  there's a blue sky and, from time to time, some bright sunshine.

I am thinking ... about the changes I'd like in the garden. I'm trying to be practical and keep it as low maintenance as possible but I keep letting my imagination run away with me!  I'm still undecided on the final design for the hard landscaping so I need to get a move on and settle on the final layout.

I am thankful ... that my last lot of medical results were better and the situation health-wise is not as dire as it seemed three months ago. I just have to keep going with the weight loss, increase my daily exercise and make sure that I continue to eat healthily.  I have to go back in six months for another review - that's the longest gap I've had for ages, so things are looking up on the health front.

In the kitchen ... I haven't missed any of the things I sent to the charity shop. I'm loving the new kitchen and the fact that the cupboards aren't jam packed with things I no longer use.

I am wearing ... a new blue cardigan and a new white shirt.  Oh, and a blue skirt but it's not new!

I am creating ... the home I want. The work currently happening in the second bedroom, to create a hobbies room, will make a big difference to my life and I'm excited that it should all be finished within six weeks.    

I am going ... to arrange a cinema night with friends - to see The BFG.

I am wondering ... when the manager from the company who installed the new front door yesterday will get here. I've complained about the standard of the work and insisted that he comes to see it for himself. 

I am reading ... 'Daughter' by Jane Shemilt.  I've only just started it but am enjoying it so far.

I am hoping ...  to find the time to spend a couple of days at the coast.  I want to do a set of photos to hang in my hobbies room.

I am looking forward to ... seeing Les Miserables and the new Harry Potter plays.

I am learning ... to take time-lapse photographs, not too successfully yet but I'll persevere! 

Around the house ...  it's organised chaos, most definitely at the 'looking worse before it gets better stage'!  I think I'm about half way through getting the house as I want it.

I am pondering ... the next stage of my home improvement drive - Project Living Room. Of the current furniture, only the davenport will be staying and I'll be looking to replace everything else, so I have lots of window shopping and dreaming to do before I make up my mind.  And of course, the small matter of saving enough money! 

One of my favourite things ... lemon meringue pie!

A few plans for the rest of the week ...
  • Friday: playing at a school fete 
  • Saturday: band practice in the morning followed by an afternoon in the garden if it it fine
  • Sunday: photo walk in Bradford on Avon with friends, then playing at the Civic Service in the evening
  • Monday: nothing planned, just hoping for a relaxing day
  • Tuesday: seeing Les Miserables
  • Wednesday: seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts 1 & 2
  • Thursday: a food tour, weather permitting

A peek into my day ... I've been stuck at home waiting for the manager to check the standard of the door installation, and also waiting for the IKEA delivery.  I've been reading and just pottering in the kitchen, trying to stay calm!

A favourite quote for today ...

"Do something today that your future self will thank you for", Unknown

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Outside

Work has started on the outside of the house today - a new front door, soffits and fascias. There was a bit of a last minute panic that they wouldn't be able to start work because a required permit (for the scaffolding to be on the pavement) hadn't been applied for but I'm assuming that they managed to sort it as the scaffolding is going up as I write this.  It's very noisy and not the calm start to the day that I was hoping for! 

They're installing the new front door today which is just as well as the IKEA van will be arriving tomorrow afternoon with my new bookcases, so the delivery men will be able to have access to the house without delaying any work in progress.  I'll be without a visible house number for a few days as I forgot to arrange for the new number to be fixed up - I'm not having a number on the actual door this time, I've chosen a slate/metal plate to go on the wall to the side of the door.  That will be my next job.

My second job is to knock the garden into shape.  With one thing and another I have left it to it's own devices this year and I need to get out and do some serious clearing of weeds.  Yesterday I sprayed the unwanted growth on the front garden with a mixture of white vinegar, epsom salts and washing up liquid, which I'm reliably informed (by YouTube!) will kill it all off - watch this space for the results on that one! 

The other biggie outside is to replace the decking with a stone patio.  You wouldn't believe how hard it has been to find someone to do the work.  They either don't answer their phones, or fail to turn up to quote, or won't give a firm price but I think I've found someone now and am just waiting for a mutually agreeable date when he can start work.  


Thanks go to Helena's for organising the brilliant SNAP meme, here's a set of photos taken during a photo walk in Corsham, looking for images/objects with parallel lines.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Decluttering Update

Work is continuing on the second bedroom.  It's gone from this ....

..... to this ......

The desk has to stay in the room as there is nowhere else to put it, so for now I'll just have to work around it.  It will be replaced when funds allow - it's been dismantled and reassembled so many times over the years that is too wobbly to work on properly, so it's days are numbered! The computer chair and the remains of the merchant chest will be taken to the skip when I have time.

Everything that was in this room has been sorted and decisions made.  Two car loads went to the skip, 20 boxes donated to charity, 300+ books donated to the National Trust, and the remainder has been boxed and moved into the smallest bedroom where it'll stay until I get this room ready.

It looks horrendous doesn't it, but it really isn't that bad.  About one-third of this will be kept and used, and will go in the new cupboards which I've ordered for the other bedroom.  The rest of it is to be sold and I'll make a start on that when I get back from London, and I'm sure there are still things in here which can just be thrown away or sent to the charity shop.  I'm allowing myself one year to get all this sorted and, at the end of the year, will assess what's left if I don't manage to get it all done. I feel very positive about dealing with all this now but I think it is important to have an end date in mind, and anyway, the money I make is going to be used to revamp the living room so it's in my interest to get on and get it done!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Memorandum Monday

Waving to Sian and all the Mondayers on this lovely sunny Monday morning. I was out of action for most of last week, laid low by a severe migraine, but I was back to normal by Friday which luckily gave me some 'new' and first times' to tell you about.

On the way to my Friday morning school I drove for the first time along a new road which locals have been waiting patiently to be opened for almost a year.  It makes it easier to get to a friend's house so I'll be using it regularly.

At the Friday morning school the year 3 class have been composing their own class recorder tune. They've done really well and have ended up with a three part tune with the recorders playing the melody and two accompanying percussion parts. They performed it for the first time this week; it was lovely to see the concentration on their faces, so excited about doing it and justifiably proud of themselves.

By the afternoon I was flagging, still feeling the effects of the migraine, so I was pleased to hear that my afternoon school was doing a dress rehearsal of their end of year musical, which meant no music lessons.  I was invited to stay and watch, which I did, and had a thoroughly good time.  I usually get to see all these primary school musicals in one school or another but this was the first time I've ever seen a production of 'What a Knight'. I love the primary school performances, seeing all the children singing their hearts out, and there's always one or two really good little actors.

My final thing is both something 'new' and 'first' - starting my new diary.  I always use an academic diary which runs from July to June and I've just made my first entries in my new 2016/2017 diary. The old one will be filed away after tomorrow (my last day of teaching) - the end of another year and one that's seen major changes in my life. It's a year that has ended with me feeling much happier than when it started.

I hope you all have a good week and that the sun keeps peeping through the clouds.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Memorandum Monday

Monday greetings to Sian and all the Mondayers. 

Two new things to report this week.  Yesterday, for the first time, I visited the gardens of The Old Mill at Ramsbury , opened to the public as part of the NGS. It's an amazing place and I'm not sure I actually saw all of it - it seemed to go on for miles and every time I turned a corner, there was another part of the garden to explore. I took lots of photos but I can only share these two with you today as most of them will be saved as possible scavenger hunt entries.

the River Kennett runs through the gardens
one of the sculptures, near the house

My other thing is something new that I learnt.  I can't remember what prompted me to look into this, but I searched for the history of the ampersand and discovered that traditionally, when reciting the alphabet, it was common practice to add the '&' as the 27th letter.  Here's a link to more information about it if you are interested.

Hope you all have a good week with lots of interesting things planned.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Five on Friday | The Little Things

Read | I finished reading 'Scaredy Cat' by Mark Billingham and have read two more crime thrillers - 'Into the Night' by Jake Woodhouse and  'Falling' by Emma Kavanagh, all of which I enjoyed.  I've now moved on to 'The Kill' by Jane Casey.  I think I have my reading mojo back!

Watched | I've actually watched something this week - Bannan, the pilot episode for a BBC Alba series.  It's a Gaelic language drama with subtitles.  

Heard | An audio book, 'Dr Who: The Stone Rose', which I found when I was sorting out a pile of DVDs.  It was a newspaper freebie from years ago and I probably listened to it when we first got it but I didn't remember the story at all. 

Made | I've made a start on clearing a space for some new storage in the second bedroom.  I decided that I'll get through the decluttering quicker if I can organise the things I want to keep as I go along.  I've chosen IKEA units again, this time the Liatorp range as they are deeper than the Billy units I chose for the music room.

Worn | It been a few days of mismatched/clashing colours as I haven't done any laundry.  I've looked like a child who has been allowed to dress herself!

And Lastly ... I bought some more flooring so that the kitchen/dining room can be done to match the hall.  It was on sale so I saved about £200, which can go towards the bedroom storage fund.

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

Reasons to be Cheerful in June

It's time to look back through June to remember the highlights and the little things that brightened the month.
  • the highlight of the month has to be seeing Elton John live at Longleat. Brilliant!
  • making significant progress on the sorting and decluttering and actually starting to feel the benefits of the all the hard work.  I'm enjoying the extra space, love that I know where most of my music stuff is now, and just feeling so much 'lighter'.   
  • I've found the time to play the piano regularly - a good stress buster and an activity I can completely lose myself in.
  • some quality time spent with friends - simply chatting and laughing.
  • getting back into reading and losing myself in a book again.  Reading was becoming a chore, a must do because of the books group reads, but I gave myself a good talking to and have made the effort to read my own choices as well. 
  • a fun filled games morning at band, having the time to chat to the children instead of teaching them.  It's good to see the friendships developing.
  • finding that the Thomas Cook vouchers I won years ago are still valid and using them to book a theatre break in London in July.
Linking with Ella over at Flowers of Progress.