Monday, 30 April 2018

Quiz Night, Shopping and Admin

The first quiz night in ages and we were useless! In our defence ... actually there is no defence, we were useless! It was a Sunday night return to the pub where the crafting group meets by J, L and myself, but minus A who was away for the weekend. She clearly took the brains away with her this weekend so we're holding her responsible for our lacklustre performance. It's the first time we've been to one of the quiz evenings in this pub but it was good fun so will definitely go back again and try again.

I need to do a bit of shopping today. I've been eating up the odds and ends in the freezer ready to refill it but I feel like a bit of a change so am going to wander round the supermarket and see what I fancy. I'll only buy enough to ring the changes for a few days and then it'll be back to freezer offerings until they're finished up - about another two weeks. 

Then it'll be back home to put the shopping away followed by some I-can't-put-it-off-any-longer admin. Most of it is for the band, is not really my responsibility but is in a mess and needs to be done, so I'm a bit miffed about giving up my free time to sort it out. I am also practicing saying 'no' ready for the next committee meeting because, if I'm not careful, I'll end up taking it on again and that is to be avoided at all costs. 

I also want to tackle my tax return. I usually leave it until Jan 31st, the final day for submission, but I'm due a refund so would rather it was in my account than theirs.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

A Quiet Weekend

I don't know why but I was really tired yesterday and am feeling much the same today. I've slept as well as I ever do nowadays but am definitely short on energy and just want to sleep all the time. I hope I'm not sickening for anything.

Yesterday morning was the youth band practice. The beginners have been learning their first two 'proper' band pieces and they'll get to play them with the support of the main band next week. This is always a big step in their learning when they stop doing simple exercises and start putting all of their knowledge into playing as a band, and when it (hopefully) starts to make sense. We'll see how it goes next week! 

I still can't play any of my instruments but am hoping to get permission to start playing again when I complete the next round of medical appointments (next week). I'm itching to play again, especially with the band, but am trying to be sensible and wait for the all clear from the optician. 

Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent dozing and doing very little else. I read a bit more of my book and watched a bit of TV, but was too tired to concentrate on much. In the end I went to bed early, hoping to sleep through the night but no such luck. I went off to sleep very quickly but woke after an hour or so and then was wide awake until the early hours. I think I fell asleep again about 4am and then was up and out of bed by 7am. I feel it's going to be a long day!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Crafting Group

I tried the crafting group again yesterday. I collected L on the way and we went early so we could have lunch first. The pub does the most wonderful baguettes, served with salad and coleslaw, and chips if you want them. Last time I had pork and apple but this time chose sausage and onion (think really posh hot dog!) without salad or chips and it was yummy. I had the rest of a pasta bake to eat later at home so didn't want to eat too much at lunch time. 

Time was marching on and there was no sign of the organiser, or any other crafters, so I checked the Facebook page to find she'd just posted a message to say she couldn't make it and that she hoped we'd have a nice time! We were both a bit annoyed because she'd known since before 8am that we were going but, to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was some sort of emergency. Anyway, neither of us was too worried about staying for the entire afternoon so we decided to go once we'd finished our drinks but before we could make our getaway another crafter turned up. It was her first time so, as we didn't feel we could just disappear and leave her to it, we stayed.

This turned out to be the best decision ever. We had a long chat about anything and everything but ended up talking about Zombie books! Luckily I'd read a series about Zombies recently or I'd have been out of the conversation completely! We completed our afternoon with coffee and homemade lemon drizzle cake, a perfect way to end a lovely relaxing afternoon.

We'd talked on and off about various crafts we'd done over the years and I remembered how much I used to enjoy doing tapestry and needlework kits, and which I think would now be the perfect craft to take along with me. I've just ordered one online, a 5" x 5" owl kit, which hopefully will turn up in time for the next session.

Friday, 27 April 2018

A Step in the Right Direction.

I had the x-ray of my lower back and hips yesterday. I can't complain about the efficiency of the service at all - for the first time ever at this hospital I had no problems parking which meant that I arrived way too early for my appointment. I was called in as soon as I walked into the waiting room, the x-ray was taken and I was driving home before the actual appointment time! The results should be available in about ten days.

At home, with a coffee and my lifestyle lists, I was trying to decide the best way to start walking daily without making my knee any worse. I spent a while researching the cost of gym membership but, to be honest, I'm not convinced that I'd go often enough to justify the expense and I'd also need to assess my post-retirement budget to see how much cash could be set aside for this. I was interrupted by the phone, which I nearly didn't answer because it was a withheld number, but luckily I did. It was the physiotherapy department at the local hospital who reminded me that my doctor had referred me for physio on my knee - it'd taken so long I'd completely forgotten about it! Anyway, after the initial confusion about x-rays (I thought she was talking about the one I'd had that morning but she was talking about the one I'd had weeks ago on my knee!), I had a long conversation with her about what the problem is (she's going to deal with hips as well as knees without another referral) and what I hoped to get out of physio. She doesn't recommend the gym at this stage but will send a leaflet of exercises I can start doing at home and will arrange for me to join a weekly exercise group that she runs at the hospital. I'm not sure how long this will continue but it'll be a good way to start exercising again and more importantly, a safer way with proper supervision. 

I feel quite relieved that this is going to happen. The sooner I can walk without pain, the better. It impacts on every aspect of my life so I'm happy to know that I can start doing what needs to be done. 

Later, I was thinking about the fact that I'd completely forgotten about the referral. I usually have a good memory for this sort of thing so it's out of character for me. I was just wondering what else I'd forgotten when another conversation with my doctor that I'd forgotten about just came to mind - when he reduced to one day a week he recommended the best doctor for me to see if I needed an appointment in his absence. Cue another even bigger feeling of relief - I'll go with his recommendation and see how it goes.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Lifestyle Review

I was thinking about the changes mentioned in yesterday's post when it suddenly dawned on me that I need to get my thinking cap on. This is a year of major changes for me, some through choice as in my decision to retire and some which I just have to make the best of, as in the change of doctor. I'm going to be left behind in my own life if I'm not careful!

Retirement is now only two/three months away. The school term finishes at the end of July but past experience tells me that the schools will be busy with trips, sports days, leaver ceremonies, and end of year plays, so most of the July lessons will be cancelled. I know that having a rhythm/routine of sorts to my days suits me best and will help to keep depression at bay but I haven't yet given any serious thought about how I'd like to occupy my time. I have vague ideas about starting up regular piano practice again, and also a daily walking/exercise, but that only counts for two hours a day maximum, so I'm racking my brain for ideas, not to account for every hour of the day but to add some sort of (flexible) structure to the day.

A recent conversation with Lauren has also made me realise how my social life has changed over the past year or so. I used to have quite a few regular(ish) social things to do such as photo walks, film nights, coffee mornings, choir, and additional book groups, but I seem to have stopped doing all of them. This was partly due to the depression but also due to the fact that it always seemed to fall to me to organise things and I got a bit fed up others relying on me to always be the organiser. The end result is that the only regular events to look forward to is the remaining monthly book group, the new crafting group and the occasional film night, or meal. At one time I was also doing plenty of things on my own and I tried to make sure I had enough things in the diary so that I always had something to look forward to but that's not happening as much now either.  It's so easy to let days drift by and not do anything fulfilling so I need to reintroduce this but looking ahead I'd like a happy combination of things to do with others and things to do by myself. I'll be fine in August as I have both of the rescheduled holidays to look forward to, but for September onwards I need to do some serious thinking and planning.

I've already made a bit of a start and will continue over the next few weeks, with the aim of coming up with ideas of things to do and also examining the real reasons of why things stopped. I have already started a list of ideas of thing to do and, after the initial brain dump, will keep revisiting it as ideas spring to mind. I'll start a separate list next week to get an idea of why all the previous activities stopped - I honestly enjoyed a lot of the regular activities so am interested to get to the true reasons behind why they've ground to a halt. Both lists will be unedited to start with. This is utilising a technique suggested to me back in 1999 as a way forward from a major bout of depression and it has always proved to be a useful exercise. I'll be interested to scrabble about in the depths of my brain to see what things come to light. Watch this space, and feel free to chip in with ideas ... it'll be very much appreciated!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


Yesterday, I phoned to make an appointment with my doctor only to be told that he's no longer with the surgery. I'm not really that surprised as for the last few years he's only been working as a GP for one day a week and for the last two months it's been impossible to get an appointment with him. I've been seeing him for twenty years so feel incredibly sad that I didn't have the opportunity to thank him for his support over the years and to wish him well for the future. So it has be another doctor from now on; I haven't decided yet which one I'll see except I don't think it will the two I've seen recently - he'll be a hard act to follow!  I'm being monitored for so many things at the moment that the news has been unsettling but there's nothing I can do about it, so ...

I also heard that a friend who goes to the book group is leaving the area to move nearer to her family, so the May meeting will be the last time we see her. I only ever see her at the book group so I think it's unlikely that we'll keep in touch, which will be a shame. She's also going to be a hard act to follow and her contribution to the discussion will be missed by everyone. Let's hope we can fill the gap in some way.

Both changes I could do without but I believe that things happen for a reason, so I'm sure everything will work out for the best.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Today's Plans and May Mini Break

Once I'd got myself going, yesterday was a productive day. Two loads of laundry, bathrooms and cloakroom cleaned, and a couple of kitchen cupboards wiped down inside and out.

I have to wait in this morning for a return visit by one of the fitters to fit the coach bolts on the new French doors. For some reason the bolts weren't available on the days they were installing the new windows and doors so today will see the job completed and I will be able to fix the doors open so that they don't keep closing at the slightest puff of wind.

This afternoon I'll be in school with KS1, and this evening a friend is coming round to learn a bit about editing photos. She's interested in my new editing software and wants to have a go before she commits to buying it for herself.

I've finished booking my May mini break, the time I've chosen to do something every year to celebrate my late partner's life (as his birthday was May 12th). I'm going to stay in Watford for three nights in May during SATS week when the schools don't want lessons. I'll drive up on the Sunday and will break my journey in Reading to meet up with a friend from college days. I'm meeting my late partner's brother on the Monday, partly to return family papers but mostly to reminisce about a wonderful man. I'll be staying in a lovely studio apartment, booked through Airbnb, which is in walking distance of the Harry Potter Studio Tour and my original plan for the Tuesday was to stroll over and enjoy the tour again. However, I stupidly left it too late to get a ticket so will get the train to London instead and choose what to do based on the weather, either sightseeing or retail therapy! In the evening I will hopefully be meeting Lady Ella, which may or may not happen depending on factors outside of our control (but if we don't manage to meet this time there will be other opportunites in the future as in whenever I manage to get another Harry Potter Tour ticket!). On the Wednesday I have a ticket to watch a recording of the BBC1 programme 'Pointless' with Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, and then it's the drive home. I was planning to stay on the Wednesday night as well but now have to be back for an appointment on the Thursday. Despite the HP dissapointment, I'm really looking forward to these few days away.

Monday, 23 April 2018

At a Loss for Words!

The title of this post makes it sound so much more dramatic than it is. The simple fact is that I just don't know what to write about today! Having lazy days is all very well but doing nothing means I have nothing to tell you. I do have a couple of questions though ...

Has anyone been watching the second series of the Big Painting Challenge on BBC1 and if you have, what do you think of it this time? I've been quite disappointed with this series. I know I couldn't do any better myself, but there don't seem to be as many 'wow' moments as there were in the first series.

Does anyone have experience of growing minarette/columnar fruit trees? I'd like to get some self fertilising ones to grow in pots on the patio but am wondering how much effort is involved in maintaining the columnar growth, particularly in terms of how much annual pruning is needed.

Hope you all have a good day!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Taking It Easy!

I wasn't expecting that thunderstorm last night. I'm not too good with those, not to do with the noise or flashes, but I always get a pressure headache and then can't concentrate on anything. I took some paracetamol and even though the storm passed over quite quickly, the headache settled in for the night and I didn't sleep too well as a result, so I'm feeling rather drained this morning. Still at least the garden got a good watering and my new windows have passed with flying colours - not a single leak, thank goodness.

It's another day at home. I was hoping to finish sorting through the remaining boxes but don't seem to be able to get myself motivated this morning, so it's going to be a day spend reading, watching TV and generally being pathetic. I'm not good without enough sleep!

Band practices resumed yesterday and it was lovely to see everyone again. I'm not playing with them at the moment so, after teaching the beginners, I got stuck in to some of the jobs that we don't normally have time for. Yesterday was stamping up all the latest sheet music purchases with the band stamp so it's all ready to be issued to the kids, and also some sorting out in the room where the music and instruments are stored. I was on my feet for most of the morning so my knees are protesting this morning, another reason for taking it easy today! Next week I'll check all the children's music folder to make sure they haven't lost any music and the following week I'll do an instrument check to make sure they're maintaining their instruments properly. In response to an emailed question, I have no plans to stop working with the band once I retire. It's a charity run by volunteers so not only does it count as my voluntary work in the community, but it's also a hobby and something that I love doing. As it is a voluntary thing I can always arrange to take a Saturday or two off if I want to travel and, although it can be really busy at times, it's not stressful in the way that teaching in schools can be stressful.

We went to the craft afternoon on Friday to find an empty pub, not one other crafter to be seen and no sign of the organiser. Not a good start, but the landlady phoned the organiser and she turned up to meet and greet us. We hadn't taken any crafts with us as we wanted to suss out what the group was like before committing to joining. However, it turns out that it is free, nothing at all to pay when you go and you just have to email her to say that you will be going to the session and she will be there or will arrange for someone else to be there in her place. We stayed for about an hour, enjoyed the chat and have decided to give it a try next week. L is going to take her sketch pad and some pencils but I haven't decided what to take yet. D, the organiser, said that a couple of people just take colouring books with them so that's always a possibility or, I know I have a half finished patchwork bag somewhere so will consider that if I find it in time. We both got the impression that it's more of a social event rather than any serious crafting being done so that suits me just fine. Hopefully this may be a successful way of making new friends. 

Saturday, 21 April 2018

A Typical Saturday

It's always an early start on Saturdays during term time. Before I hurt my knee I was completing a 30 minute walk first thing so that it was over and done with for the day, but since I was given the go ahead to start walking again it's been for a much shorter period and at a snail's pace while I rebuild the strength in that leg. Afterwards it's a quick shower and I get dressed.

The rest of the morning is taken up with the youth band, arriving at 9:30am to set up and finishing at 12:30pm to pack away. We're usually ready to leave by 1pm. The first group of children arrive at 9:45am, the beginners upstairs with me for a 60 minute session and the juniors stay with A for a 90 minute session. At 10:30am the children in the main band arrive and join the juniors for the last 30 minutes of their practice, when the juniors work on the trickier music with the support of the more able children. At 10:45am the beginners are collected by parents and I go downstairs to help with the juniors and main band players. The juniors are collected at 11:15am and then the remaining time is spent working on the main band music. I usually play tenor horn with this band but currently am unable to play because of the problem with my eyes so I'll help where needed. I'm really missing playing with the band so I'll be happy when I'm given the go ahead to start playing again.

After band has finished it is most definitely time for lunch! Occasionally I stay in town and meet with friends but usually go straight home and eat there. I very rarely have plans for the rest of the day  but always find something to do. Photo walks are a favourite choice for a fine day, or I visit friends or family, or sometimes just choose to stay at home and read, or cook, or both. 

Evening are usually spent at home and usually alone, a choice that I'm still happy with. Sometimes I go to see a film or a show, or invite friends or family round but really prefer to spend this time at home on my own. Even if I've been cooking during the afternoon I often treat myself to a takeaway, usually curry, and I'll watch TV, read, or listen to music - usually a bit of all three! When it's warm enough I'll sit outside and am happy to potter about the garden once most of the heat has gone out of the day. It'll be interesting to see if I change my mind about spending this time alone once I've retired and am not meeting as many people during the week.

I know that the advice is to have a regular bedtime but I don't. It can be anything from 10:30pm onwards and often not until the early hours, 1am or 2am. I have a bath before bed and then read for a while before going to sleep. It doesn't seem to matter what time I go to sleep as I only ever manage about four of five hours a night now, so I prefer the later bedtime as I then wake at a more acceptable time in the morning - there's nothing worse that going to sleep early and then being wide awake at 3am with no hope of any more shut eye!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Goodbyes, Crafting and Friends

It's done! Yesterday I informed the final school and then said goodbye to the private pupils and their parents. I'll continue in the school until July but have stopped the private lessons immediately. The good news is that four of the children have found new teachers - it's a good time in the school year as this is the time that teenagers stop lessons in preparation for final exams and leaving senior school so the instrumental teachers are looking to fill the gaps in their timetables. The sad news is that fifth child is giving up music lessons and joining a football club instead, but it's something that probably would have happened anyway! I'll still meet the parents occasionally for coffee and a catch up, and will get invites to the children's performances so I'll still keep in touch - one of the mums texted me to say that her daughters asked her if they could call me Auntie Eileen now! I arrived home with flowers and presents, and admit to spending a rather weepy evening at home. 

This afternoon I'm going to suss out a craft afternoon which is held three times a week in a pub in a nearby village. L is going with me and, although I wouldn't want to go three times a week, it could be a nice Friday afternoon activity. The leaflet says that 'if your craft is too big or too messy, just turn up for coffee, cake and a chat', so that's what we're going to do. I don't know what I'd actually take as a craft so will have to give it some thought if I decide that it's something I'd like to do regularly.

Tonight I have invited friends round for a meal and to watch a DVD. It's not the best planned evening as I'm not sure what to cook yet and don't know what we're watching so I need to fit in a bit of shopping time and also phone A to ask him to bring a selection of DVDs - I'm sure we'll all have a good time!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Almost There!

  • Two car loads to the auction ✓
  • One car load to the charity shop ✓
  • Cleared out lots of odds and ends (one huge box of rubbish waiting for the next skip run) ✓
  • Stuff to be sold on Gumtree/eBay identified and photographed ✓

I'm counting yesterday as a successful day. I could have done without the heat but despite that, I completed everything I'd planned to do and more. I'll leave it till the weekend to finish off the adverts for the things I still have to sell and then I'll just have to sit back and wait for the phone calls/bids. I'm so close to completing the decluttering in the house I almost can't believe it - after such a long time it seems unreal. 

I have a few errands to run later this morning and then it's in to school early so that I have time to talk to the head teacher about my decision to retire in July. Then after school I'll see the private pupils to say goodbye to them - it's going to be an emotional end to the day! There's only one child left to sort out now - the parents have been brilliant about it, which makes it easier all round.

The plans are coming together for my mini break in May but more about that another time. Hope you all have a good day.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Decision Time!

In the end I enjoyed the teaching yesterday afternoon. It was great fun and, as ever when completely focused on a task, the time just flew by. However, I have decided that I will stop teaching in the schools at the end of this academic year. I told the school yesterday and will speak to my Thursday school when I'm there tomorrow. I have already stopped the Friday school. That just leaves the two private pupils to sort out but I've decided that I'll stop teaching them in July as well. It's been a difficult decision but I feel it's the correct one for me. It's time!

I was up early this morning as I'm taking the remaining loads to the auction house. All of the stuff going this time is heavy (Meccano) which is why it'll need more than one journey. I started loading the car and then took a break for breakfast so I just have to pack a bit more in and then I'm off. It's about a 50 minute drive away but at least they will unload it all when I get there.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Back To School

It's the first teaching session after the holiday and, for the first time ever, I am not looking forward to it. Dreading the thought of it, to be honest and I'm hoping I'll be able to snap out of this feeling once I see the children again. A big part of me thinks that with all my decluttering efforts during the holiday, letting things go and making long term plans for a future that doesn't involve teaching, I have already mentally moved on and put the teaching behind me without realising it. I'll have to see how this week goes and then take stock.

It's not such a nice day out there, very windy and a lot colder, so maybe that's affected my mood today. It's the book group meeting tonight, so I can take all of the books I'm donating to the charity shop and pass them on to A. I'll be glad to see the back of them - they've been stacked up in the dining room and every time I've walked past I've managed to knock a book from the pile! 

I'm checking out the possibility of a short break away in May. I don't teach during SATS week so, as in previous years, want to do something special to remember Ced (as it would have been his birthday). I'm still waiting to hear back from his brother and if he's around, then it'll be a few days in Watford. I may even fit in another trip to the Harry Potter Studios! 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Being Busy

I overslept this morning so have been trying to catch up with myself all day, hence this late post.

The chicken cooked in the slow cooker was a resounding success. It was falling apart so it was a doddle to separate all of the meat and divide it into individual portions. I've kept enough out for tomorrow and the rest of it is in the freezer. This was a really simple way of cooking a chicken and I'll do it again. It's my new favourite method after roasting!

Most of my day was taken up driving Lauren to Bristol Airport. We took the scenic route via Chew Magna and had a good natter on the way. I can't believe she is 21 next month. She's not even my child but I still can't help wondering where the time has gone and how she has grown up so quickly. I somehow got lost on the way home - I'm blaming the satnav - so was shattered by the time I got home. 

I opted to stay in tonight, watched a bit of TV, phoned Julie, and then read through my lesson plans for tomorrow to get them fresh in my mind. I meant to have an early night but made the mistake of checking my emails so ended up writing the responses to some that couldn't wait. Now I feel wide awake so I don't think sleep will come too easily. At least I can have a lie in tomorrow if needed!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A Quiet Day

I'm having a jimjam day today. I'm still in my dressing gown and have no intentions of getting dressed ... so there! I didn't sleep well and am feeling tired anyway after all the sorting and organising I've done over the last week so I'm being sensible for once and listening to my body, which is screaming out for rest.

I won't take the rest of the stuff to the auction rooms until Wednesday now. Partly because it'd be too much of a rush to finish organising it - I need some smaller boxes to repack some of it to reduce the weight of each box - but also because I've agreed to drive Lauren to Bristol Airport tomorrow (after her arrangements fell through) so I won't have enough time to do that and the auction room run in the same day. She's off on a uni trip for her degree. 

Schools go back this week so I'll start teaching again on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. It seems that my 'problem' with the private pupils and whether to continue teaching them next year may have sorted itself. I currently have five children, but will stop teaching the two older ones in July anyway as they are moving to senior school in September. The mother of one of these two phoned me yesterday afternoon to say she'd managed to arrange for her older child to have lessons with the man she used to learn with when she was at school but that, for it to be viable for him, he needed to start teaching the younger child as well. It's the best outcome possible for the two children concerned so I'm over the moon for them ... and relieved for myself as the younger one is only eight so it'd be a few more years before she moved to senior school! That will leave two more children still to be sorted. In the worse case scenario I will continue with them for another year, when they too will move on to senior school, but I'm hoping their parents will be able to make other arrangements for them. 

I've taken the easy option for cooking today as well. I have a whole chicken in the slow cooker which will be ready in time for my evening meal. It's the first time I've tried cooking a chicken this way so I'm following the advice given in a Facebook group I've joined, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it'll taste wonderful! For lunch I will have some of the pea and ham soup I made yesterday. Actually I suppose it's more of a fridge surprise soup because, although I started with the ingredients for my usual recipe, I ended up adding all the tired looking veggie from the fridge as well. There's three portions in the freezer plus the one I'm eating today so I hope it is tasty.

Somehow, next week I have to find the time to sort out the problem of loading photos to blogger. I don't like my blog without the photos so this is a priority and if I can't resolve it I may have to change to Wordpress. Blogger have been no help at all so if anyone has had this problem and either sorted it or found a work around, please will you let me know?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

All Done!

One very happy little bunny here! The windows are finished and it all looks lovely and I'm happy with my choices. I can feel the benefits already as there are no drafts because the French doors fit and seal properly - hurrah! 

I wasn't such a happy bunny when I was trying to pay for them yesterday. My bank blocked the online transaction even though there was plenty of money in the account. I followed the instructions and phoned them to sort it out only to be told by some idiot in their fraud department that he 'wasn't going to authorise the payment' and asked me to explain what I was buying and to 'justify' why I wanted to buy it! I eventually got myself transferred to a manager who removed the block so that the payment could go through, but she wasn't too forthcoming about why it had happened in the first place. It's something to do with their latest procedures for identifying and preventing fraudulent payments to scammers but if that's the case I think they need a rethink, or the staff need some more training, because I don't agree that the bank can in anyway determine what an account holder chooses to spend their money on so I don't understand the questions I was expected to answer.

Still, enough moaning. It's all paid for now so the next stage is the bathroom and bedroom refurbishment. Before that happens I need to clear out the rest of the stuff for auction/charity shop/skip, so that's this weekend's job. There's not really that much left to go from the house (I'm choosing to forget about the garage for now) so it won't take that long to sort out, ready to load the car on Monday. I'll have plenty of time to relax and, if it brightens up and the mist clears, I hope to get out and take some photos. 

Hope you all enjoy your weekend, whatever your plans may be.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Organising Cupboards

The windows fitters are here again and are busy doing the downstairs windows and doors. I was amused to see that they have a pink Hetty Hoover - they are my sort of people!

I'm confined to upstairs so it's an ideal opportunity to sort out my playroom. There's lots of filing and shredding to do but for now I'm looking through each cupboard and deciding what I want to keep. When I originally filled the cupboards in this room I kept all the stuff relating to my 'current' hobbies but it's become clear, because I haven't used any of it in the five years I've been in this house, that they're not 'current' and it's time for a lot of that stuff to go.

I did a watercolour course which I thoroughly enjoyed and, although I still have the paints and brushes, it's become clear that I have no real enthusiasm for continuing to develop this skill. My friend, L, is a keen artist and has just joined an art group in Lacock so I'm passing all this stuff on to her.

I've sorted through the shelves of board games and puzzles and have reduced what I'm keeping from two shelves to one shelf. I'll take the rest to the charity shop. That's give me room for my new sewing machine (the old one had it's own case and was too big and heavy to go in the cupboard) so that frees up some floor space as well. I've kept some jigsaw puzzles for now but once I've done them there will be another empty shelf.

The stock of coloured pencils, colouring books and crafting paper has been condensed, and I will donate the excess stock to a local women's refuge. I kept all of this for the children of visitors to use but now they are all growing up they are more interested in playing on the iPad or their phones, so it's best the stuff goes where it is needed. I'll be selling all of the card making stamps, card and embellishments but for now it is staying where it is - at least it is out of the way until I can find the time to deal with it.

Half of one cupboard is filled with the reference books and workbooks required to complete the higher level music theory exams. I was doing well on this but eventually gave up as Ced's illness progressed and my carer's responsibilities had to take priority. Much as I enjoyed it, I no longer need to from a professional point of view - passing the exams would have increased my salary but as I'm virtually retired and am no longer working for that company, it doesn't seem worth the effort. That stuffs staying where it is for the time being but I will eventually sell it all. The rest of the cupboard holds boxes of photographs and all things photographic so, of course, that's all staying. 

The final cupboard is filled with the family tree research (keeping), and my filing system. I say 'system' but it's actually piles of paperwork that desperately needs to be sorted and filed/shredded as appropriate. I can't put it off any longer, so that's my next job.

Hope you all have a good day.  

Thursday, 12 April 2018

They're Here!

The fitters have turned up. I've passed their coffee making and biscuit test so they've decided to stay and the first window has been installed. The best news is that the company is sending extra fitters tomorrow so, if all goes well, the work should still be completed tomorrow as originally agreed but if not they will be here on Saturday to finish.

They are working upstairs today so I've settled in the living room sorting through the last lot of stuff to take to the auction house on Monday. They don't want access to the French doors today so I've moved some of the stuff I'd stacked up out of the way and am hoping to get most of it sorted today, rather than leave it till the weekend. It'll probably be another two car loads and will be the final loads to go. 

I managed to get out for a walk yesterday and am happy to report that my knee held up well. There was no pain at all when I was out and it was just a bit achy last night. It's fine today so it seems that short, easy walks will be the way to rebuild the strength in my leg and, if I'm sensible about it, I should be more mobile in time for my rescheduled holidays in August. 

I sorted through all the books last night. Regular readers will know that my sister passes all of her books on to me (50 or so every couple of months) and although we generally have the same tastes in books, sometimes she fancies a change and chooses ones I have no interest in reading. Added to that are the books I buy myself and the ones that friends pass on - the books were taking over the house so I've been ruthless about selecting the ones to read and the ones to go. I've kept about 50 to read, have about 100 to pass on to friends, and 117 (I've counted them!) to donate to the Red Cross charity shop in Chippenham - a friend works there and will collect them at next week's book group meeting. The ones I'm keeping will fit into one bookcase so it also leaves me with free space in other cupboards. I bet it doesn't stay empty for long!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Best Laid Plans!

I woke up early this morning, excited that the fitters would arrive to start the replacement window installation. Silly me for getting so excited! An early morning phone call informed me that one of the fitters had phoned in sick so the work has been put back and they will now, hopefully, be starting tomorrow. Not too bad in the great scheme of things but I do hope it's not a sign of how all the rest of the home improvement work will progress. 

I'm just frustrated by the delay, short as it should be. I spent yesterday rearranging rooms to allow easy access to all of the windows so the entire house is in a mess, and things have been temporarily moved in such a way that I can't continue with the remainder of the decluttering until order is restored. 

I had an email message wondering why I hadn't mentioned my plans for the garden. It's because I don't have a plan, for this year anyway. This year is all about getting the house finished so I doubt that there will be much in the way of spare cash to spend on the garden. Last year I had the hard landscaping done and then planted a load of annuals either gifted (the cosmos) or bought in the 'let's get rid of these' May sale in one if the local stores, and the garden was really colourful. I'll probably do the same again this time, always assuming my eye problems don't get in the way of the planting - it's still painful to bend and/or look down. 

When the rain stops I'll go out for a (very) short walk this afternoon. I have a couple of letters to post so will venture at least as far as the postbox but may summon up the energy to walk around the marina. I'm feeling a bit stir crazy and could do with some fresh air. I'll just have to hope the knee holds up!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Another New Beginning ...

I've given myself a firm talking to, have pulled up my big girl pants and decided that enough is enough - time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get on with enjoying life. The health issues are all still there and they will either get better or they won't, but whatever the outcome I still have a life to lead. I'm very aware that I'm moving rapidly towards the next stage of my life and I'm feeling excited about the changes that'll take place over the next few months. It's another new beginning!

First to happen are all the improvements to the house starting next Wednesday with the new windows and then the work on the main bedroom, bathroom, ensuite and living room following on afterwards. I don't have a firm date for completion of all that work yet but hope that by the end of the summer I will be arranging for new carpets and decorating. Then it'll 'just' be a case of finding new furniture for the living room!

The second big thing is that I'm nearly at the end of the decluttering. I took two car loads to one of the local auction rooms and will be taking the remainder tomorrow or Tuesday, and all of those items will be auctioned off in various auctions during April and May. I've sorted another car load to go to a different auction room next week, where they accept the lower value items that the other place doesn't handle and that'll go into their May auction. Then there will be the last couple of boxes for a charity shop and a few odds and ends that I've listed on Gumtree. Although I'll have to pay commission on the auction sales I decided in the end that gaining the space and the feeling of relief that comes with letting go was much more important. 

This just leaves me with the music books I use for teaching, which I need for now but which can go as soon as I stop teaching. I've already stopped at my Friday school so just have the other two schools and the private lessons to sort out. I want to definitely finish by the end of the next academic year (July 2019), but earlier if possible. I'll still teach at the band so it won't be the end of my involvement with youth music, but as that is voluntary I'll be able to take time out for holidays, etc.

My hope for this new stage of my life (once the house is finished) is to have time for travelling, both in the UK and abroad, hence the need to be free during term time when prices are lower. I'm very much at the planning stage still, just listing ideas for where to go and what to see but in some ways, this dreaming and planning stage is almost as good as the actual experience!