Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Taking Stock

Taking stock ... an overview of life at the end of January 2018.

Making ... good progress on sorting out the rest of the work to be done on the house. I'm pushing for it all to be finished this year, hopefully before the summer break. The windows will be replaced in March and the boiler will be installed next month. Once that work is done I will scheduled the work on the bathrooms, bedroom and living room but I now have a clear idea of how I want it to look so I'm on to the 'choosing' stage!.

Cooking ... not much lately. I've been using up the odds and ends in the freezer (resulting in some 'interesting' meals!) and have been eating out quite a lot. 

Drinking ... lots of water but also too much black coffee.

Reading ... check the list on 'My Bookshelf' page. I've read 14 books so far this year (although the Surviving the Evacuation books were more like short stories). We're in the process of choosing a new reading list for the book group so any recommendations will be very much appreciated.

Wanting ... to find a local choir. The one I was going to is changing to a different weekday when I have other commitments so I'm looking for a different one.

Looking ... forward to my first holiday of the year at Easter. I'm off to Lulworth Cove for a photography holiday.

Playing ... very little really. At band, as well as teaching the beginners, I've been assessing the other children individually so that we can identify skills gaps/problems, which means that I've been doing very little playing myself.

Deciding ... or trying to decide, on changes to my social life. Every time we meet it seems to involve a meal and I want to turn that round if I can. Not only to do with the expense, but I'm trying to lose weight so all this eating out isn't helping.

Wishing ... for good weather this summer. I have lots planned and I'm a 'fair weather' person!

Enjoying ... a couple of trips to the cinema to see 'The Post' and 'The Greatest Showman'. Also a trip to London to see the Harry Potter Exhibition at the British Library which was amazing.

Wondering ... whether the pain in my knee is due to an injury or just an age thing. Some days I can hardly walk and can't support any weight on that leg and other days it's just a background ache. I have a doctor's appointment booked.

Loving ... that my sister had good results at her one year check - no signs of the cancer returning.

Pondering ... changes to teaching next academic year. I'll be keeping my private pupils but at the moment am considering stopping the whole class teaching in schools.

Considering ... taking a course ... don't know what yet.

Watching ... quite a lot of TV. I splashed out on a smart TV and have been making good use of the catch up TV. I'm not too good at watching every episode of a serial when you have to wait a week to see the next part of the story so have been enjoying a few evening of back to back episodes on some of the boxed sets that are available.

Knowing ... that I can't continue with the current arrangements for Nordic walking and feeling rather down about it. I have to get to Malmesbury by 8:30 am which is about a 45 minutes drive when the roads are quiet but at that time in the morning takes well over an hour and it's too a big commitment in terms of time. It's a long way to go for a one hour walk so I'm looking for something closer to home. 

Thinking ... well to be honest, I'm trying to avoid 'thinking' about things too much. I have a tendency to overthink and I'm trying to experience the moment more and to follow my emotions/response to a situation rather than analysing what I 'should' do. 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Troublesome Night

Was anyone lucky enough to sleep through the noise of that wind last night? I certainly wasn't so will probably need to prop my eyelids open with matchsticks to get me through the day. I think it will be the same for everyone living close to me. 

Unfortunately it was the night to put the wheelie bins out for the cardboard and plastics collection and not many of the bins made it through the night without any mishaps. I actually heard mine take off, so at about 2 o'clock this morning I was chasing the contents of my bin up and down the street and then moving the bin back towards the shelter of the garage and side gate. I'd just dosed off again when I heard another bin being blown about followed closely by a car alarm, luckily not mine, which went on for ages. I peeked out this morning and can see that a bin from the other end of the cul-se-sac had travelled the entire length of the street and hit a parked car, which is now sporting a badly dented driver's door. 

The wind didn't give up at all during the night, although it is much quieter out there now, and all I managed in the way of sleep was to dose from time to time. I've just been out to move my bin back to the correct spot for collection -  somehow my neighbour's bin stayed upright and exactly where he left it but the content of all the others is dotted about the street and in front gardens. I suppose we should be thankful that it wasn't the household waste collection! A tree has blown down in the adjoining road but luckily doesn't appear to have done any damage and isn't blocking the road. 

I've had a quick look at the back garden and there's no damage that I can see. My fences are still standing although I can see some poor soul's fence panel near the reed bed that runs through the estate and it looks like a neighbour has lost the roof of their shed. Let's hope for a quieter night tonight!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Feeling Refreshed

Yesterday was just perfect. I didn't have any plans except to take things slowly and have a restful day. Definitely no work, no decluttering, and no rushing about was the order of the day. 

I didn't set the alarm and actually slept in until gone 10 o'clock, which is almost unheard of for me. Lately I haven't been sleeping properly and usually wake ridiculously early. I spent most of the morning finishing letters to friends, proper paper and ink letters, not email - I love sending and receiving hand written letters and don't do it often enough, although one of the recipients doesn't have a computer so I always write to him.

Lunch was a UFO (unidentified freezer object), a random selection which turned out to be fish pie. From the state of the freezer I think I went through a bad patch of not labelling things properly! Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise and very tasty too. I plonked myself in front if the TV for the afternoon and finished watching Little Women. I can't decide whether I like this latest adaptation of the book or not. Did anyone else watch it? 

After that I sank in the depth of that great time waster known as Facebook, eventually getting sidetracked by a recommendation for a book series where the first book was free on Kindle, so I downloaded it. The book, 'Surviving the Evacuation, Book 1, London' by Frank Tayell is not my usual choice. It features zombies and is a genre that usually bores me stiff, but as it was only 196 pages long I read it through in one go and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I've now bought the second book but am not sure that I'll manage to read the entire series, which is currently twelve books, though if they are all so short it shouldn't be too time consuming. 

A long soak in the bath followed by an early bedtime and a good night's sleep meant that I woke this morning feeling refreshed. I feel ready to face the week ahead, whatever it brings!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Friday, 12 January 2018

Hurray for Friday!

I've only worked on two days this week for about five hours in total and I'm rejoicing in the fact that it's the end of the working week! The children haven't really settled back into 'school behaviour' after all the excitement of Christmas so it's been quite demanding. Next week can only be better! 

There's still no sign of the editing software, which has mistakenly been sent by second class post instead of the promised 24hr courier. I'm resigned to the fact that I won't see it this side of the weekend. If the weather stays dry I'll take some photos over the weekend so that I have some to play around with ... not that I don't already have thousands of images I can use for editing practice, but it's always nice to have some new ones, isn't it.

It's band practice tomorrow morning, always good fun, and in the evening I'm going to the cinema with Julie and Lauren to see The Greatest Showman. We were supposed to go last night but settled for a takeaway and a night in front of the TV instead as Lauren needed to finish an assignment. Tonight will be lesson planning (which I've nearly finished) and then I'll carry on watching Little Women on catch up TV. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

All About ... Editing and Breakfasts

The photography editing software didn't arrive yesterday so I've stayed at home today, waiting for the doorbell to ring and a friendly delivery driver to hand me a software sized package. Sadly, that's not going to happen today. I've just received an email apologising for the delay and confirming that the courier will be collecting the parcel from them later today so the earliest I can expect delivery is tomorrow. The only flaw is that I'll be teaching tomorrow so won't be here to accept delivery. Aargh!

I've chosen 'Lightroom' and have opted to buy the software outright rather than as a download with a monthly fee. The software was chosen on recommendation by two acquaintances, both professional photographers, and online searches seemed to back up what they are saying. Up to now I've always used the software that came with the camera for basic editing and quick tweaks, and Photoshop for the more involved stuff, and I've been happy with the results. However, as I use both Canon and Nikon cameras that meant two different editing packages and I wanted to change to a single package for both cameras, and it seems that Lightroom is the way forward. It also seems to do everything my existing editing skills ask for and more, with the exception of layers, so my use of Photoshop may take a back seat. 

I've been reading lots of the articles that appear at this time of year which discuss '20 tiny pleasures to embrace in 2018' or '23 surprising weight-loss tips'.  I'm sure you know the sort of thing I mean. At the same time the potential for changing and improving my diet/attitude to food has been on my mind, bubbling away in the background and I've decided on a way forward. The general advice is not to deprive yourself of anything but to accept that some things must be eaten in moderation. I'm okay with that approach as it's what I've tried to do before and as my diet is already restricted because of food allergies, I'm loathe to make it any more difficult. I've decided to move to a 'whole food' approach, and by that I mean to remove all processed foodstuffs from my diet. It's not paleo or clean eating or any of the other named diets, but for me just means that I'll be using ingredients that are unprocessed (as much as is possible), affordable and practical.  At the same time I want to eliminate added processed sugar.

The advice is to make the changes slowly, which having taken the time to think about it is a good approach. The suggestion is to decide which changes on which meal will afford the most improvement and start making changes slowly. For me I think it is breakfasts. I usually just have toast, occasionally a full English, and sometimes a variation on a boiled egg (egg sandwich, dippy eggs and soldiers) so my immediate focus is on coming up with at least ten new meal ideas which are quick to prepare (hopefully less than fifteen minutes), are beef and dairy free and don't all include bread as I feel I eat too much bread. Any suggestions will be very much appreciated please. I tried one of the Hairy Bikers' diet breakfasts this morning - 2 crumpets (not buttered), topped with a warm spiced soft fruit compote and a drizzle of honey. It's also supposed to have a spoonful of natural yoghurt but I left that off. It only took a few minutes to prepare, was very yummy, and kept me feeling full for four hours so I didn't want a mid-morning snack like I usually do.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

An 'At Home' Day

It's most definitely an 'at home' day today. It's warmed up considerably but it's misty, raining on and off with drizzle in between showers, and very grim and grey out there. I've managed one short walk outside (to post a letter - 385 steps, not that I'm obsessed or anything!) and my poorly toe isn't up to much exercise, so another reason to stay in. Indoors it is lovely and warm (the boiler is behaving itself today!) and I've nearly done enough to earn myself a day off from sorting/decluttering duties. 

I have to find a suitable plastic box and then all the December/Advent/Christmas goodies can be put to bed until next year. I've been rethinking things in the playroom as well. When the room was originally finished I kept all the things relating to hobbies and interests that I thought I'd still want to do but in reality I haven't looked at over half of the stuff and I think it's time to decide that certain hobbies and/or active interests are a thing of the past. This includes things like the advance music theory books and workbooks; I was studying to get my higher grades in music theory when Ced was first taken into hospital but there was never time to continue with it once he came home and the illness progressed. I'm no longer teaching to the same level and I no longer have a professional need for the qualifications, and if I'm honest with myself, I no longer have the same level of interest to just continue the study as a personal achievement. So ... it's all going. Lots of workbooks and reference books will be advertised for sale and will free up a shelf in one of the cupboards. The same applies to the watercolour paints. I'll keep the paper and the watercolour pencils but will sell the paints, which'll free part of another shelf.

Hopefully I'll get that all photographed and advertised today or tomorrow, which means that I'll have room to put the new sewing machine away with free space left over for when I start trawling through the boxes downstairs. I say 'hopefully' because the new photography editing software is due to arrive today so I may will get side-tracked once that's here!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Lunching in Lacock

It's another bitterly cold day, still very overcast and misty. I met Lyn at The George in Lacock for lunch and to catch up on our progress with the Nordic walking. Our original plan was to do the walking together but that hasn't happened as Lyn needed some one-to-one sessions before she was ready for group walks. This was the first time I've seen her since she started her training and I can't believe the difference it's made to her. She's now reached the stage where we can start walking together so she is going to liaise with Steve (the coach) to organise a weekly walk for us. Yet another thing to look forward to ... this year is starting well compared to last year.

I'm feeling quite tired and stiff from yesterday's exertions and on top of that I managed to stub my big toe getting into bed last night, so have a bit of a limp going on today. I haven't done any serious damage but it's the toe I broke when I was nineteen and which has the occasional twinge anyway so it'll take a few days to settle down again. It's a lovely shade of purple though!

I weighed myself this morning and am pleased to report that I've lost 3lbs since January 1st. I've been concentrating on being active rather than dieting, so am pleased with my first week's efforts. I just have to keep going! I hope to try one of the local 'walking for health' groups on Thursday (if the organiser responds to my email) so that'll be an additional one hour of activity to add to the pot. This is just walking in a group on paved paths but at a fairly constant pace. There are three different speeds to choose from so I'll go for the slowest one first and see how I get on. Of course, I won't be able to go if my toe is still painful because I won't be able to wear my walking shoes, so fingers crossed that it settles down quickly.

I'm off to see Little Miss C and Little Miss H in about an hour, so they can show me all their Christmas gifts. It's their first day back at school today so they will be tired and possibly grumpy, but it'll still be lovely to see them. Then an evening at home watching the TV, which is very like a cinema experience as the new TV is much bigger than I'm used to, though I'm sure I'll soon get used to it. Once I change the room round I'll be able to sit much farther away from the screen, which'll be better.

Finally, bath and an early night. I'm trying to reset my inner clock so bedtime will be between ten and eleven (but usually nearer ten o'clock) for the foreseeable future.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

This Weekend

It's been a lovely weekend!

I've just hauled myself out of the bath after a much needed long soak on completing the Nordic walking intro course. I am officially shattered! It was a very early start to get to Malmesbury by 9 o'clock on a freezing cold morning. It was actually snowing at one stage and I admit that I paused to wonder what on earth I was doing. The course lasted four hours with one break for coffee, and it was hard work but good fun. I normally aim to do at least 8,000 steps in a day and I completed that in the first hour. The walks in the future will be easier, lasting just over an hour each time.

Saturday was busy with the start of band practice. It was lovely to see everyone and we had fun playing a combination of old favourites and a few new pieces. Then after practice I toddled off to Currys to buy a new TV as the on/off switch has broken on the old one and the parts are no longer available to repair that model. I settled on a Panasonic smart TV reduced by £120 in the sale with an additional 10% reduction using Lauren's staff discount card. A bargain, and just in time as it was her last day in the job! I went for a 40 inch screen, the smallest in the range though much bigger than I really wanted - I don't get the attraction of the huge TV screens that are available. My nephew came round to set it up for me - I did try but failed miserably at fixing the stand - and he's also going to come round in the week and do some odd jobs for me.

Later on Saturday afternoon Julie arrived to collect the bedroom furniture I'd given to her so we had to move all four pieces downstairs and load her van, a simple job made much more difficult by the two bends in my staircase. Still we struggled through it and it's all gone so I now have the space to get on with organising and sorting the rest of the boxes - that's next week's target.

Hopefully the photo editing software will arrive next week so I can start using my camera again. Something else for me to look forward to.

Friday, 5 January 2018

5 in 5: The Bridge Inn

Before I start I'll admit that I haven't followed the rules, which are to take as many photos as you can in five minutes and then select the best five to include in your post. I had every intention of doing that but things didn't go according to plan and in the end I only took five photos in total, luckily just the exact number I needed for this post.

They were taken yesterday in Horton at the end of a delicious lunch. I'd meant to photograph the food but only remembered when the plates were empty! I only took this one as a joke when my friend said to photograph the plates and just imagine the food, not intending to use it for one of my five ...

Then as we were leaving the pub I took three other photos indoors, just because   ...

... and was intending to wander around outside for the five minutes to photograph the outside of the pub and the canal running alongside but I only managed this one ...

... before I abandoned the idea and jumped into the car. I'm surprised the photo is usable - the power of the wind, courtesy of Storm Eleanor, was frightening and I struggled to hold the phone still, so one attempt was enough! The drive home was horrendous, not the best weather to be out in such a small car.

5 in 5 is the brainchild of Sandie over at Itchifingers, so many thanks to her for organising it. It's open to everyone so feel free to join in if you'd like.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A Day in Devizes

It's been a day filled with shopping and catching up with a friend. I had to go to the Age UK office in Devizes so that they could check my DBS certification. This is to do with the befriending I'm hoping to do but it seems that the wheels of progress grind slowly and there is very little chance that this will get off the ground before Easter.

I'd collected my friend, L, on the way so we did a bit of shopping - I bought some Christmas cards ready for next year, reduced to £1 per pack - but really it was way too windy to want to be outside so we resisted the temptation to wander too far.

taking a short cut through the Ginnel to get back to the car
We decided to eat at the Bridge, which is in Horton (a village just outside Devizes) but arrived before their midday opening time so sat in the car having a good natter. Once they opened we sat by a roaring log fire with hot coffee and thawed out our noses and toes, before ordering our meals. I'm so glad we opted for the light bite meals as they were huge, so I dread to think about the amount of food served up for a full size portion!

On the way home we stopped off for food shopping in Morrisons, so the fridge and cupboard are filled and I will only need to shop again this month to buy fresh fruit and veg. 

I arrived home to find the garden battered by the storm. It's not too bad in my garden, just the wheelie bins blown over and one of the climbing roses has been pulled away from its trellis. There's leaves and debris everywhere but no point trying to clear it up until the storm passes. My neighbour's garden seems to have more damage with lots of their bigger shrubs broken off and the honeysuckle that grows over the fence has snapped off low to the ground and is now laying in pieces across their patio.

I'm in for the night now so will snuggle up in the warm and either watch TV or make a start on a new book. 

I hope it's not too bad where you are. Take care.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

All About ... 2018

I think my word for 2018 is 'fulfil'. I've struggled to decide on that one word this time but I think 'fulfil' is a close as I can get. For some reason it feels positive whereas the other words I was considering (complete, finish, attain) all seemed to me to mark an ending, not a way forward. I'm thinking of fulfil in terms of finishing the work for the house and the decluttering - they've both been going on for too long so getting them done will mark the start of the next stage in my life and I'm excited for that to happen. Fulfil is also about gaining happiness/satisfaction through achieving one's potential and is something I want for myself this year. I hope to enhance my life through taking the time to develop my skills in the things I enjoy, namely music and photography. I also want to work on actively seeking contentment through looking for positivity in my daily life, and to try to dismiss the depression once and for all. If, having read my goals, you can think of a better word please let me know.

I've already booked two holidays for 2018 but any other travel plans will now have to wait until the house is finished. I've estimated the costs of everything but I know that once I get to the new furniture/home furnishings/decorating stage, I will overspend (I know what I'm like) so there won't be much free money for my social life. I already have a couple of theatre trips booked but I won't be doing as many this year, and will also be limiting myself to one monthly day trip. I've been searching online for local free/cheap events and plan to make good use of my National Trust membership. There's plenty to look forward to, and of course I still have all the youth band commitments.

I'd like 2018 to be a year where I can add to my group of friends so with that in mind I am investigating local groups. There are numerous 'walking for health' groups and general 'fitness' groups which may be of interest but that all depends on how I get on with the Nordic walking. I'm also considering the WI (if I can find a group which meets on a day that doesn't clash with existing commitments) and will be doing the befriending with Age UK.

Let's just hope that 2018 is a happy, healthy year for all of us.

Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt - First Link Up

A day late, but here's the first link up for the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt. Please make sure you enter a link to the actual post and not just a general link to your blog.

I look forward to seeing the progress so far although if you're anything like me there hasn't been much!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year

I finished my Christmas jigsaws this morning. Well, I say finished but there are five pieces missing so I've sent a text to all my visitors requesting that they return their stolen pieces by Saturday. It's a family thing and it's all about being the one to fit the final piece of the puzzle. Obviously I will win as there are really only four pieces missing - I may have accidentally hidden a piece myself! It's okay, none of them read this blog.

It's been a quiet but happy start to the new year. I met a friend for lunch and then a quick trip to Currys to buy a kettle in their sale (mine hasn't stopped working yet but is making strange noises so is on it's way out). I had a roast pork dinner so now don't need to cook for myself tonight and can just have a snack, which makes things easier.

I've let the exercising slip over the holiday period but have started as I intend to go on and have resumed my walking plan today. It hasn't taken as much effort as I thought it would. It's the Nordic walking course on Sunday and then I hope to be joining in with one of their walks every week (weather depending, as it's a 50 minute drive each way). 

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year. I'll be back tomorrow with the link up for the scavenger hunt, not that I've made much progress myself!