Tuesday, 25 September 2018


It’s a typical autumn day, misty and cold, which, much as I love the change of seasons, isn’t really appreciated today. The central heating system has been drained to remove and replace some of the radiators so I’m relying on an electric heater for warmth until this stage of the work is completed. I’m confined to the dining room/kitchen downstairs as the living room has been prepped for the plasterer who should be starting in about an hour so there is currently no power supply to that side of the house. I am telling myself that it will be worth it in the end!

The skip will be here quite soon and I’m hoping there will be space for me to clear some of the junk from the garage. It’ll be a big help if there is as it’ll save making numerous trips to the recycling centre.

I’m off to the library later this morning to take advantage of their free WiFi and broadband as mine won’t be working - BT are working in the road again and we’ve been notified that landlines and broadband services will be affected for the rest of this week. I have to finish the music for Saturday so need internet access. It may mean that I will have problems posting for the next few days.

Monday, 24 September 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes!

They're here! The house is full of electricians and builders, all working their little socks off, and I am assured that everything will be ready for the plasterer to do his bit tomorrow. The project appears to be back on schedule but I haven't forgiven them for the stressful weekend, so I didn't get them any chocolate biscuits to have with their tea!

I can't write much as the power is being switched off soon and the laptop battery needs to be recharged! I've just had a detailed update from them. The work is being done in a slightly different order which means that by the middle of next week, assuming he can fit in the work, the decorator can come in and get the living room finished. The carpet for that room, if I can find something suitable, can then be fitted and all the furniture can be delivered on the due dates (instead of being held in storage). I may wait to order that carpet until the furniture is here, just because I'll be able to take some of the fabric with me when making my choice. I'll stick to the cream carpets for stairs, landing and bedrooms but may now go for a colour of sorts in the living room. This is exciting news as on the old schedule, the living room was the last room to be finished. 

I'm leaving them to it for the rest of the morning as I have to deliver the final workshop to the year 3s in a local village school. Afterwards, it's a quick trip into town to bank some cheques and buy some fresh veg, and then back home to settle in for the rest of the day. If the garden dries out a bit, I may be able to get out there and start the 'Big Tidy Up'!

Sunday, 23 September 2018


I've woken from eleven hours sleep to a wet, miserable day. I can't seem to shake off whatever this lurgy is. I haven't had a raised temperature since the first day and apart from sinus pains I don't seem to have anything wrong with me, I just feel exhausted and keep falling asleep. I was hoping to go for a walk today to get some fresh air and blow away the cobwebs, but the weather isn't playing nicely. It's been raining non-stop since I first looked out of the window and there doesn't seem to be any sign of it easing off any time soon. 

Things are busy on the youth band front. I've been doing the Year 3 workshops in local primary schools to get new players and so far have a list of thirteen names. With one final school to see tomorrow I should reach, and hopefully exceed, my target of fifteen. I'll then have a couple of weeks to get the instruments ready to be issued at the registration session. Alongside that I'm getting the music ready for next Saturday when we're having a sponsored playing morning. The children will learn three or four new pieces and perform them in a mini concert to their parents at the end of the morning. The money raised will be donated to the Town Hall Arts, the building we're based in, rather than for band funds.

After the school workshop tomorrow, I'll be fully in retirement mode. Band will obviously continue to be a major part of my life but I now need to put other things in place. I know I have a tendency to take on too much so am making a conscious decision to take things slowly this time. I'm interested in trying the U3A photography groups; there's a choice of two but the Thursday one will be the more convenient. I'm trying to contact the organiser to see what they actually do at the monthly meeting as research on several local groups has revealed that some of the group meetings are just chatting and problem solving, where others actually use the meeting to go out and take photos. It's the 'actually take photos' type of group I'm looking to join. I know the Friday group is this type of group but I have other plans for something on a Friday so am keeping my fingers crossed for the Thursday.

I haven't heard from N or J over the weekend so have no idea whether they plan to be here tomorrow. I'm fairly resigned to the fact that the work is going to be delayed but am quietly fuming about it. It's the lack of communication that annoys me more than anything. I know the quality of their work will be excellent so am reluctant to try to find other people to do the work and anyway, a couple of phone calls on Saturday proved that it's unlikely I can find anyone to start on the work straight away. Frustration like this is stressful!

On a more positive note I met a friend for brunch in the store where I ordered by furniture. I still like it, although the chosen fabric is not quite the colour I remembered. I'd thought it was a cream/beige but it seemed more ivory/pale grey this time, which I'm totally happy with. I took a couple of photos of the sofa and the reading chair - its a shame I didn't like the colours of the display pieces as I could have bought them for a bargain price!

Friday, 21 September 2018

And So It Begins ...

D (the plumber) arrived yesterday as promised. The aim was to install the pipework to fit an outside tap to the back of the house - it's currently on the front of the house for some strange reason - and to remove the fittings in the en-suite bathroom. 

This is a view of my bedroom, taken roughly mid way through the day. The toilet in the doorway is a big clue that the work was progressing as planned.

This is a look in the en-suite. It's a tiny room and I will be so glad to see the back of the dark brown tiles and the maroon paint. The toilet fits in that end of the room and the basin fits below the brown tiles you can see of the left of the photo. I stood in the shower to take this photo. All the new fittings will be installed in the same place but the tiles will be white with a border of coloured mosaics. The entire room will be tiled, floor to ceiling. I haven't decided on the colour for the flooring yet.

And here it is ... the tap installed on the back wall of the house. It is going to make life so much easier next summer when watering the garden will be less of a chore. I still have to buy a connector for the hose but the tap is working and I am happy! The water supply comes down from the en-suite via the boxed in area in the living room which was already in place to hide the the waste from the en-suite. There is now another tap in the en-suite so that I can turn off the water supply to the new pipe and drain it in the winter to avoid a frozen pipe.

As planned, he also drained the central heating system and removed the two radiators in the living in preparation for A (the plasterer) who is due on Tuesday. So all in all, a successful day ... and then it went wrong.

The electrician hasn't done the first fix for his part of the work which means that the plastering can't go ahead on Tuesday and, because of other commitments won't be done until October at the earliest. They'll be able to get on with all the rest of the work but this may impact on the decorating. I knew it was going too smoothly! I'm waiting on a phone call to tell me how they plan to get round this problem. I'm more concerned about the lack of heating than the delay to the decorating; I haven't put the heating on yet but the cold weather is due and I don't want to freeze.

Here's a photo of the euonymus displaying it's seasonal finery ... autumn is creeping in!

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Take Three Thursday

The photos I'm sharing today for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday were taken at Sudbury Hall and shown the process for carving the wooden flowers which form part of the ceiling decoration. Because I can be very stupid at times, I forgot to take a photo of the actual ceiling!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The Lurgy!

I don't feel 100%. I went to band this morning but didn't play at all. Instead I divided my time between helping the junior players to follow their music, doing a handover to the new band secretary, setting up a working group to examine the requirements of the data protection legislation, and eating chocolate biscuits! When I came home I fell asleep on the sofa and, now I've woken to realise that my temperature is raised and bits of me hurt! It's pamper time, I think.

I wasn't planning to go out tonight. Friends were coming to me so I've rearranged our get together for next weekend. Instead I will order an Indian takeaway delivery, find a snuggle blanket, dose myself with some paracetamol, and settle down to watch the second Harry Potter film, which starts in about an hour. Then a soak in the bath and an early night. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Living Room Furniture

It's turned out to be a fairly busy week. On Wednesday and Thursday I visited local primary schools to run brass workshops, where every Yr3 child gets to play a brass instrument. The aim is to get new players for the youth band so fingers crossed for that. It's fun but tiring with the logistics of moving ten brass instruments of varying sizes from home to car to school, to car and back to home. I have another two weeks of this and already am wanting it to be finished!

My ideas for furnishing the living room have changed. I'm still buying the same mahogany unit for under the TV: this has been ordered and is due for delivery to the store by the end of October, but they will keep it until I am ready to accept delivery. I went shopping, armed with my leather colour swatch, to choose some armchairs but struggled to find anything suitable. If I liked the actual chair, I didn't like the choice of available fabrics or, if the fabrics were okay, the chair itself was the wrong shape or size. 

I did however find one range which I liked, was incredibly comfortable and which  included a snuggle/reading chair at my price. When I first started looking around I was hoping to get a reading chair but soon realised that they were usually £1000+ and way out of my price range. This one was only £599 and together with a matching 3 seater sofa was in the 30% off sale. Again, there wasn't a fantastic choice of fabrics so I've opted for a creamy beige linen effect with the same fabric in blush for some of the scatter cushions. This was a compromise on what I'd planned but if necessary I can always get them recovered in a year or two. When I placed the order it turned out that the price of the reading chair was incorrect and should have been £1259 but they honoured the ticket price of £599. I also chose a completely different shaped armchair to go with the sofa and reading chair which turned out to be the last one available so I bought their display chair at a £100 discount. With the 30% sale discount on the sofa and reading chair I've managed to buy all three pieces of furniture for less than the cost of the leather sofa I was planning to buy. I'll see if I can take some photos next time I go there.

I'm totally happy with my choices so far but now have to decide on the carpet. My original plan was to buy patterned chairs which would add some colour to the room but now all of the seating is plain in shades of cream/beige, so the room is in danger of looking a bit too neutral. I'm hoping to still have white walls as that's in keeping with the rest of the house and was planning on cream carpets in every room but it may be better to have a coloured carpet in the living room. Until I go to look at carpets I can't be sure so that is a job for next week. I also need to start looking at soft furnishings as that's the other obvious way of adding colour.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Take Three Thursday | 'Another Place'

I didn't manage to catch up with myself at all yesterday, hence no blog post. Today, I'm sharing three more photos from my recent holiday for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday where we are asked to share three photos with a common theme.

My photos were taken during my trip to Liverpool when I spent a few hours watching the Anthony Gormley art installation, 'Another Place'.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Tiny Steps Forward!

Today's post is much shorter than the previous one, I promise. You can breathe a sigh of relief if you want to ...

N, D, J, J and A came round last night to agree their plan for the work. D and J  (plumbers) will be in on Thursday 20th September to start in the ensuite, and bring a cold water supply down to the back wall of the house for an external tap. They'll also repair a minor leak in the downstairs cloakroom, install a new tap and box in the boiler pipe in the kitchen. J (electrician) will be in before that date to do the first fix on the electrics. N will be in as and when to do all that's necessary so that A (plasterer) will be able to skim the living room and bathroom ceilings w/c 24th September. The majority of the work will start the first week of October. As I'm typing this I feel all bubbly with excitement, even though it's a later start date than originally agreed. The end is in sight!

My BiL is coming round later this morning to dig out the climber in the front garden. It's too big for the space so it's going to be replanted in their garden and trained up against some of the trees, where it can grow to its full height. It's been a constant battle to keep it away from the boiler flue so it'll be a relief for it to be gone and I'll worry about replacing it next year. Hopefully he's also going to take the old TV unit as well, so that'll be one less thing to worry about.

Following on from yesterday's post, I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions. For starters I've had another look at what the U3A has to offer and will contact the group leaders to see if there are places available. Initially, I'll try a photography group and a choir so fingers crossed that these groups don't have waiting lists. If those two don't work out there's also an adult recorder playing group, a Scrabble group, and a group for sharing activities (which seems to be similar to Meetups), all of which would be fun.

Oh, and I've chosen my HF holidays for next year. I just have to book them now.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Thinking Aloud!

I'll warn you that I'll be waffling in this post so feel free to jump ship now. You've been warned! My thoughts today are a combination of a couple of conversations with friends, a post on Jo's blog, and my own ongoing attempts to improve/enhance my daily life.

So to explain ... I'm retired now and although I have a busy diary for September there is very little in the way of regular contact and/or activities that will take me out of the house after the end of the month. The busy diary for September is mostly related to the workshops I'll be running in local primary schools to try to encourage new learners at band. I have some vague ideas of what I'd like to be adding to my life and conversations with friends have added a couple of ideas for monthly meet ups so that aspect of the changes has been thought about and now just needs to be implemented. At the same time (this is where Jo's post comes in) I'd like to mark my first year of retirement with a mini challenge of places to go and things to accomplish within that year.

Currently I have these things going on, which I enjoy and want to continue:
  • weekly during term time: youth band on Saturday mornings
  • monthly: book group
  • monthly: family history society
  • monthly, but only for part of the year: listening to the Big Band that a friend plays in
  • fortnightly between Sept and March: film society
It looks more than it is in a list like that but in reality will not occupy much of my time so I need/want to add some other regular things to do - some solo events and some social ones. I've thought about the aspects of life that I'd like to concentrate on to start; this was initially based on Bless' Balanced Life Goals but I've actually ended up with a completely different approach. These aspects are music, photography, health and fitness, and socialising. I have a tendency to try to do too much at any time, so have deliberately chosen to limit my focus on these four categories.

Music - basically, I want music to continue to be a part of my life. This is actively playing for a long as I am able but also looking for other ways to include it, such as concerts, folk clubs, orchestras, etc. 

I'm very involved with the youth band and fully intend to continue but most of my time at band is taken up with teaching and very little actual playing on my part; the playing is obviously at a standard appropriate to the level of the children's playing ability. So, I plan to work on some musical activities to stretch myself; daily playing of the piano and/or brass - piano has been happening for a while now (although the music room is out of action until the home improvements are finished) but I'll be adding in some regular brass playing to regain my full range of notes. I've also put my name down to join a new orchestra which starting up in October, playing the flute.  If it works out, this will add another weekly evening activity, although it will be blocks of six weeks and then a gap - not too sure how this will work out but I'm keen to try it.

Photography - this is something that should get me out of the house regularly but doesn't, so I need to come up with a way to change that. I used to enjoy doing the monthly online scavenger hunts, so that's one option, or maybe just set myself a series of mini challenges. Whatever I do, I want to make myself take some 'proper' photos rather than the 'snaps' I've settled back into doing. One thought is to post a series of photos once a month on this blog but I need to think that thought through a bit more.

Health and Fitness - I have no plans to change what I've been doing. The focus will be on making sure I am achieving all that I want to. So currently:
  • exercise daily: either gym, 'walking for health' walks, and/or exercise DVDs
  • eating healthily: sensible portions, less meat and more vegetables, and reduce the amount of coffee I drink!
  • weight: lose at least two stones by this time next year.
My long term aim is to be fit enough to join one of the local walking groups, or the Ramblers.

Socialising - I'm quite content with the number of social activities that take place in a evening. In addition to the current ones listed above I also meet friends for the occasional cinema visit or meal, so all I'm looking to add in is:
  • monthly: film night with friends, in my home
  • monthly: girl's night out with Julie and Lauren - we don't see each other as much as we used to and I don't want to lose touch. This can also include the other three girls whenever they are home.
The biggest area where I feel things are lacking is some daytime social contact.  Apart from Saturday mornings I have no need to leave the house so don't see anyone and I know from experience how this can affect my mood. The weekly Rummikub playing hasn't worked out so I may try to organise something similar in my own home, and there are also a couple of scrabble groups I can try. Most friends still work so coffee mornings aren't an option at present. Apart from that I'm stuck for ideas so any suggestions will be very much appreciated. I'm hoping to come up with ideas for a couple of part days a week.

As for the marking my retirement year I'm thinking about arranging 12 special events, some solo and some with friends. So far I've come up with this list but it will probably go through quite a few changes before I'm through!:
  • a theatre trip, probably to London, to see Hamilton, Les Miserables (again) and one other show (still to be decided).
  • HF Holiday - photography break in the Lake District
  • HF Holiday - sight seeing trip to the Isle of Wight
  • HF Holiday in Bourton-on-the-Water
  • a short break in Bristol 
  • a short break in Portsmouth (to see the Mary Rose)
  • a short break in Weymouth (or somewhere similar) 
  • a trip to Belfast
  • a short break in Liverpool 
  • a city break, maybe in Newcastle
  • a short holiday with a local coach firm
  • a food tour in London
That's as far as I've got with my thinking/planning. Well done if you got to the end of the post!

Sunday, 9 September 2018

This Week ...

This week it's mostly been holiday related postings so here's a brief summary of what I've been up to!

Sunday 2nd September

Apart from sewing the final labels on the new school uniforms for Little Misses C & H, I don't think I did much else. So a quiet day indoors reading, eating and drinking coffee. 

Monday 3rd September

Another day spent at home but this time because I had to wait in for deliveries. The tiles that should have been delivered before my holiday arrived but the order was incorrect ... the wrong mosaic tiles and too many of them. I phoned to complain and have arranged to choose some other tiles and be given a refund for the unwanted ones. The heated towel rail for the family bathroom was also delivered ... exactly as ordered!

Tuesday 4th September

Two more deliveries expected today. I received the text at 7am to say the first delivery, [edited to add: this was the new bath for the family bathroom] would be with me shortly ... guess what time it arrived? ... 8:15pm! They wanted to just leave it on the pavement outside but, after quite a heated discussion, they carried it inside. The basin and cabinet for the family bathroom was delivered without any fuss, thank goodness.

The girls and their mum turned up to collect their uniforms and presented me with a huge bunch of flowers to say thank you. They'd been baking earlier so both girls gave me one of the cakes they'd made - a chocolate nest from H and a chocolate marble cake from C. Not good for the diet, but a lovely surprise and very much appreciated.

Wednesday 5th September

Yet another day at home, this time moving the remainder of the boxes in the music room to make space for the ten brass instruments I'll bring home from band on Saturday. They're needed for the school workshops over the next three weeks. Apart from that, I made a chilli and some vegetable soup for the freezer, and caught up with some paperwork.

Thursday 6th September

My sister came round in the morning and brought another load of books for me. This was perfect timing as the bookshelves were starting to look rather bare and I was in danger of running out of things to read.  There are twenty new reads stacked on the shelves, so that'll keep me occupied for a few weeks. 

In the afternoon I took some of the new tiles back. They exchanged them, no problem, and refunded the money - enough to buy one of the armchairs I want!

Friday 7th September

The day was tied up with preparing for the return to band. In the evening it was the first film screening at the film society I've joined. I almost didn't go but am so glad I did as we watched Lady Bird, which I'd missed when it was doing the rounds of the cinemas. I enjoyed the film, the people were friendly and it was a very cheap evening - membership is £30 a year to see 15 films, and the parking was free. 

Saturday 8th September

Back to band and a fun morning spent mostly playing the children's favourite pieces. Then a sleepy, lazy afternoon at home, an evening watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and in bed by 9:30pm. I'm not sure why I am so tired so am hoping there isn't some sort of lurgy brewing.

Saturday, 8 September 2018


It was band practice this morning and it was lovely to see everyone again. The good news was that the standard of playing hadn't really dropped, mainly due to the amount of practice the majority of the children had done during the holidays - it's amazing how the chance to win a box of chocolates for doing the most practice during the holidays encouraged them to do some playing! The not so good news was that we may be losing two of our players. It's devastating news and I hope we can persuade both of them to change their minds.

I had to stop playing part way through the morning when my eyes started to hurt. I haven't played properly for a long time now so will attempt some daily practice, starting with a 15 - 20 minute session, and gradually increase the length of time. I'm hoping it's due to a lack of stamina/practice rather than an issue with the recent eye problems. I was also very tired and fell asleep on the sofa when I got home, so it could a combination of things. I will go back to the optician if the problem continues though.

This afternoon, I've just been doing as little as possible! A quick check of the TV guide revealed that the first Harry Potter film is on later so I'll summon up the energy to do the bits and bobs that need to be done and then watch that.

Friday, 7 September 2018


I've overslept! I have that feeling that I should be somewhere else, not here, but I've checked my diary and there's nothing down for today. Oh well!

Today has to be all about band and getting ready for the return to Saturday practices tomorrow. There is always a lot of sorting out on the first day back; new junior players need to be issued with their black music folders, the contact details have to be checked with every parent, and there will be new music to issue. In addition, one of the windows in our storage room has been kicked in so I'll need to be available to help (as in supervise!) one of the parents who is going to do the repair for us - the window is barred so this is more a case of making it weather proofed again. Luckily this is the window by the big tubas so nothing was stolen but unluckily, all of those heavy tubas now have to be moved so that the repair and some form of security can be completed. I also need to sort out seven more instruments to bring home in preparation for the school workshops which start next Wednesday.

The work on the home hasn't started yet, which is a bit frustrating. N, D, J and the plasterer are coming to see me on Monday and we'll agree a date then. N is coordinating all of the work, but I'm hoping the electricians will be able to start next week. On the plus side, I've already sorted out the decorating and am now looking for new flooring. I have the leather swatch for the sofa so can spend some time visiting the local carpet stores, choose what I want and agree a price with them.

I've also decided on the sofa I want (Hampton 3 seater Chesterfield by Saxon Sofas in cream leather) and also the unit to fit along the wall under the TV (Simple TV Cabinet by Lock, Stock and Barrel, in mahogany). The TV will be wall mounted on a swivel bracket. I already have a mahogany davenport and will be looking to buy two (not necessarily matching) comfy armchairs as well, which will be upholstered in a patterned fabric. I'll also need a couple of side tables but haven't started looking for them yet. 

To start with, that's all the furniture I'll have in the room. My approach to settling into the house once all the work is finished is that I'll only have items of furniture that are needed and used, will only keep the ornaments that I truly love and enjoy looking at, and will only bring other items into the rooms that either serve a purpose or that I use regularly. I suppose I'm aiming for a comfy sort of minimalism, if that makes sense.

I need to get some breakfast brunch, so I'll sign off. Hope you all have a good day!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Take Three Thursday | Liverpool's Chinatown

I'm sharing three photos for Mary-Lou's 'Take Three Thursday' where we are asked to share three photos with a common theme. I've chosen three photos taken on the bus tour as we passed through Liverpool's Chinatown area. Liverpool's Chinatown is the oldest Chinese community in Europe, established in the 1830s when the first ship from China arrived in the port.   

The main routes into the area are guarded by a pair of lion dogs. This is the female with her paw restraining a pup. The male would have his paw resting on a ball.

The street signs are written in English and Chinese.

And the street lights are Chinese style lanterns with dragons entwined around the base.

Thanks go to Mary-Lou for organising this weekly link up.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

5 in 5 | Beatlemania

It should come as no surprise that I am sharing some more photos from my holiday for this month's 5 in 5, organised by Sandie. We are asked to take a selection of photos over a five minute period and then choose five of them to share. 

These were taken in Liverpool where it is almost impossible to ignore the city's connection with The Beatles. I took these photos on a bus tour around the sights of the city; these were snapped really quickly in less than a minute as we passed the Hard Day's Night Hotel and the Cavern Club. On the bus tour you actually see the statue of Ringo first, so I've changed them round as we all know you have to say their names in the correct order!

So here's John, Paul, George and Ringo, with a view of the entrance to the Cavern Club on the left of the final photo.

Many thanks to Sandie for organising this link up every month.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

The Day I Saw The Maiden's Garland

I hadn't heard about maiden's garlands before my visit to Ilam Church where there are two of them hanging in one of the arches. They weren't easy to photograph without the use of flash, so this image of one of them is the best of a bad bunch! 

The garlands are made up of a maiden's gloves, handkerchief and some flowers, all created out of paper. The garland was carried on the coffin of an unmarried woman and remained in the church if no one challenged the lady's virtue. It's recorded that garlands were used in the funerals of Hannah Ditchfield (1834) and Sarah Rowbotham (1861) but the church cannot be certain that the two garlands on display actually belong to these two women.

It's not easy to see in the photo but the garland was actually a crown made of thin hoops of wood. This was often wrapped in white lace and ribbons, papers gloves and paper flowers were tied to it - the gloves are thought to represent a challenge to anyone who would question the maiden's reputation or her virginity. When the coffin was lowered into the ground the garland remained in the church, possibly fixed to her family pew - when the family ceased to rent the pew or the pew was replaced, the garland was thrown out. Many yellowing garlands did not survive the Victorian ecclesiastical spring clean of our churches!

The oldest known surviving garland dates from 1680 and is in St Mary's Church in Beverley in Yorkshire. The most recent can be found in Holy Trinity Church in Ashford-in-the-Water in Derbyshire and that one was made in 1995.

Maiden's garlands were also known as Virgin's Crowns or Crants. The priest in Shakespeare's Hamlet refers to the tradition when he refers to the burial of Ophelia - "Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants, her maiden strewments, and the bringing home of bell and burial".

Monday, 3 September 2018

The Day I Learnt The Rules Of The Game!

Rule One: Don't kill anyone!

Rule Two: Stay out of the church and the churchyard.

We were told that there are only these two rules ... it certainly grabs your attention. Then we were told that the shops board up their windows in preparation for The Game, streets are cleared of parked cars, there is no limit to the size of each team and play can last all day. This was obviously not an ordinary game of football! This is the Royal Shrovetide Football Match, played every year on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

It's played by two teams called the Up'Ards and the Down'Ards, traditionally based on which side of the river you were born. The game starts at 2:00pm in the town centre where, after rousing renditions of Auld Lang's Syne and the National Anthem, the ball is thrown in and the game begins. The aim is to carry the ball back to your own team's goal and to hit the goal three times to score. The goals are three miles apart with the river running through the middle of the playing area! They used to be mills but since they were demolished, mill stones have been installed on the banks of the river and they now serve as the scoring posts. Once play starts it continues until a goal is scored, when a new game is started. If it gets to 10:00pm without a goal being scored, play is stopped and they continue the following day.

It's called the Royal Shrovetide Football Match because in 1928 the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) 'turned up' the ball and started play. He played in the match for a while and ended up with a bloodied nose for his trouble.

The ball is larger than a standard football and is filled with cork (to help it float in the river section of the game). The match ball is retained either by the goal scorer or, if no goal is scored, by the person who 'turned up' the ball to start the match. It's possible to see some of these balls, repainted with the winner's details, in some of the local pubs but I didn't get to see any on this trip.

We chose a good time to visit Ashbourne as this year there is a community project celebrating 'Our Game', as they call it. It's about 5,000 terracotta figures representing the supporters and the players and is on display in St Oswald's Church in the town. Of course I took some photos ...

I've include a video of this year's match if you are interested.

Sunday, 2 September 2018


Here's a few random photos from my recent holiday. Nothing particularly special, just a few photos I liked.

the bridge at Crickhowell

In the comments yesterday, Bless asked what prompted me to make all these renovations. Well the previous owners weren't good at DIY and some of the changes they made to the house weren't safe (i.e. the living room lights) or were poorly executed (the tiling in the bathroom and en-suite). Also, the shower in the en-suite, although it is a very expensive power shower, has never worked properly and needs an engineer from the other side of the country each time it goes wrong as local businesses won't touch it! There seems to be problems with the digital controls and after the third expense of trying to get it fixed, I decided that it was time to replace it for a shower that would work and that can be serviced by someone local. The two upstairs toilets don't work properly, both have been chipped by something heavy being dropped on them, and the bath has been ruined by use of an abrasive cleaner (I think) so never looks clean.

While all those problems are being sorted I decided to have all my 'wants' done as well. So, the replacement en-suite shower is going to have a slightly smaller shower tray (currently a large double shower) to allow the built in cupboard in the bedroom, removed by the previous owners to install the expensive but totally useless shower, to be reinstated. The house lacks storage so this is an ideal time to reinstate this cupboard. The basin in the family bathroom is being changed to a slightly smaller one with a floor-standing vanity unit to address the lack of storage in that room, and anyway it makes sense to update the basin at the same time as the rest of the bathroom fittings. The change to the size of the basin, if we've worked it out properly, will mean that I can get to the window without needing to climb over the toilet! A second shower is being fitted in the family bathroom as this will make things easier when I have people to stay.

taken in Hereford Cathedral ... invokes memories of Ced

The living room desperately needs the lighting to be improved and the new design is based on how I want to use the room in the future. One of the ceiling lights and one of the wall lights currently don't work and have been disconnected because the wiring work by the previous owners was unsafe. This room and the bedroom above will be plastered to cover up previous bodged DIY - it's currently just the dry walling you get in modern houses which makes it difficult to cover up DIY errors. I'd have to entire house plastered if I could, but it's too expensive.

a misty morning, somewhere in Wales

The decorating would have happened anyway. I've already done the other side of the house so this will be an end to the current shades of browns, which I really dislike, and the whole house will look brighter. Also the carpets and new furniture would have happened anyway. Every carpet in the house is ruined by the hair dye used by the previous owner and all of them are past their best anyway. I still loved the furniture but it was all too big for this house and now it's gone I feel a strange sense of relief. I can't really explain that feeling, except to say that it was the right decision and I'm looking forward to choosing all the new stuff.

busybusybeejay commented that she hoped I'd share some photos. This is much easier to answer ... yes, definitely!

Saturday, 1 September 2018


It seems to be a day for getting organised. Band starts back next week so the music team met this morning to talk over what we want to achieve during the autumn term and identify any areas of weakness that need to be addressed. From that meeting I've gained a few extra tasks but have until the beginning of October to get them done. As I was driving home I felt a bit overwhelmed but then common sense took over - I'm retired now and have plenty of time to achieve all that needs to be done, so no problem!

I'm halfway through sewing the name labels on Little Miss C and Little Miss H's new school uniforms. I've stabbed my finger so many times that I decided on a break ... I'll complete this post, have a mug of coffee and then I'll get back to it. Thankfully there's not too much to do this year. When my nephew comes round to collect it all tomorrow he's going to help me take some stuff to the skip - actually, he doesn't know that yet, but ...!

This weekend, I need to move the remaining boxes upstairs, move my clothes out of the cupboard in my bedroom, and clear all the toiletries out of the bathroom and en-suite. By the time I go to bed tomorrow I want everything to be ready for them to start work on Monday. All of the rooms they are working in will be empty with the exception of the sofa and TV in the living room (which they'll have to work around).

The tiles will be delivered on Monday, replacement bath and basin for the family bathroom on Tuesday, and the replacement toilets will be purchased once the work has started (as the style will be determined by whether the pipes can be hidden under the floorboards or still have to be boxed in above floor level). I'm still waiting for a delivery date for the new dual fuel towel rail for the family bathroom but that will be the last thing to be delivered. I bought the bathroom taps and a replacement kitchen tap yesterday but I'm struggling to sort out the new internal door handles so have decided to wait until N is here and can help with the selection. I know the style I want and can sort out the ones for the ordinary doors, it's the privacy ones for the cloakroom and bathroom that I'm struggling to get to grips with. I need to wait as I obviously want them all to match.

The leather samples for the sofa arrived this morning. I'll have to ask for some others as, although one of the colours would do, I haven't really fallen in love with any of them and need more inspiration before I place the order. I've also chosen (probably) the TV unit which I can go to see in their Swindon showroom before making the final decision. Both of these items have a 9+ weeks delivery, so I need to get the orders placed this week, if possible. I still have to choose the armchair(s) but so far haven't seen anything I like. And then, it'll be time to think about the soft furnishings ... the best bit, so can't wait!