Saturday, 29 February 2020

Sleeping, Walking and Watching Films

I didn't have a particularly good night's sleep thanks to the overindulgence yesterday afternoon and the noise of the wind during the early hours. Storm Jorge is supposed to arrive later this afternoon so I'm not expecting tonight's sleep to be any better. Anyway, all this is leading up to me saying that I gave up and went back to bed this morning. 

I finally hauled myself out of bed at midday and went straight out for my daily walk. I'd said I would walk in the rain so, even though it was raining, I wrapped up warm and set out for the canal. Next time I check the weather I really need to wear my glasses as the 'rain' turned out to be hail! Here's a couple of photos taken from the shelter of the road bridge while I waited for the hail to stop.

It's interesting to see that the boat yard is starting to move the hire boats back to the canal in readiness for the start of the hire season - they spent the winter in the shelter of the marina which is behind the houses on the left of the photo)

It's very gloomy out as you can see in the photos so the house is dark and I have the lights on already. Although my hand were cold when I was walking (note to self: wear gloves next time!) it's still warm inside and I have turned the heating off for now. I don't for one minute think that this is the end of heating costs for this winter but I can hope!

I don't think I'll be doing much today. There's a load in the washing machine and I've given the kitchen a quick tidy round ... and I think that's it. I need to reply to some comments on the blog, have some texts and emails from friends which need a response from me and then I'll pick a couple of films from Netflix to watch.

Lifestyle Goals | Monthly Review for February 2020

Here is my update for February, stating my goals and the bullet-pointed task list that I'll tackle during the month to help achieve the goal. Last month's ratings are shown in black and the start of the current month is shown in yellow.

My goal is to achieve a lifestyle where I can honestly say that I LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE [7][8.5]To achieve this I want to focus on the sub-goals shown in bold text. 

These are the sub-goals where I have achieved the maximum rating. Each sub-goal still requires a degree of effort to maintain that rating but I feel I have developed the habits to support this.
  • I am financially secure and am completely debt free [10][10]
  • I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends [10][10]
  • My home is always clean and tidy [10][10]
  • I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level [10][10]
  • I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels [10][10] 

I have revised my ratings on the following sub-goals:
  • I strive to remove my attachment to material things [7.5][8.5] I have made good progress during February, disposing of the audio and video equipment, as well as numerous books, games, and craft items. More importantly I realise that my feelings about the ownership of so many items has changed and I am finding it much easier to let things go. I can see the results of my efforts in terms of cleared spaces from the decluttering, and I feel much 'lighter' as a result.
  • I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life [7][8] I've started to follow a better routine through the week which has helped and, unusually for me, I haven't been procrastinating about getting things done. 
  • I live life now, in the moment [6][7] As the month has progressed I've made significant progress in focusing on a single task/activity and trying to get the most from it. It doesn't always work but I am getting better at it and as a result I have experience a marked increase in satisfaction/enjoyment levels when my focus has been on enjoying the moment.

The ratings haven't changed for the following sub goals and are the ones that require improvement. 

  • My garden is always tidy and presentable [8][8]
  • I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health [8][8] 

My focus word for 2020 is simplify and I am starting by working my way through the house to remove excess, unused, and unwanted items. My SMART tasks (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) are all to do with simplifying life: 

My SMART tasks for February are:
  1. Meal plan for the next four weeks - by February 7th 2020 - ACHIEVED
  2. Spring clean the living room - by February 29th 2020 - ACHIEVED
  3. Reorganise the cupboards in the playroom - by February 29th 2020 - ACHIEVED
  4. Declutter five items - by February 29th 2020 - ACHIEVED, 52 items sold, 2 car loads to the skip, 50+ items to the autism charity and 20+ items to the charity shop
  5. Source a gardener and prepare one area of the back garden - by February 29th 2020 - 50% SUCCESSFUL. I haven't found anyone to do the gardening for me but have found a couple of people who will advise what needs to be done and how to do it, and have also sourced a series of 'gardening how to' workshops close to home. I did clear two pots though!

My SMART tasks for March are:
  1. Meal plan and bulk cook, taking account of the transition to the new style eating plan - by March 31st 2020
  2. Complete weeks 2 - 5 of Bless' cleaning rotation - by March 28th 2020
  3. Reorganise the cupboards in the music room by March 31st 2020
  4. Advertise remaining items for sale - by March 31st 2020
  5. Review January and February spending - by March 31st 2020

Friday, 28 February 2020

A Friday Treat

... not that we'll be doing it every week as it's not at all diet friendly!

We (J, L and myself) spent the afternoon in here ...

... indulging in these ...

L's chocolate, gelato, Ferrero Rochet and whipped cream concoction 

My 50/Fifty waffle with fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce and strawberry gelato on one half and chocolate with hazelnuts and vanilla gelato on the other

J's warm apple pie and custard

The shop has been open for over a year but this is the first time any of us has eaten there. I enjoyed it as a one-off, the desserts are huge and good value for money, but it doesn't really fit in with my healthy_eating_lose_weight plans. J and L are also trying to lose weight.

We congratulated ourselves on achieving the guilt free state of mind that allowed us to enjoy the afternoon!

WPSH -February Link Up

We've reached the end of February so it's time to see how everyone is getting on. We are moving into the last month of the hunt with the end date set for March 31st 2020 so good luck on finding those tricky elusive photos.

I still have six more to find during March. Here are the ones I've taken recently:

No 11 | industrial, the huge gears on a rolling machine

No 16 | a barrier, the level crossing on Bradford on Avon

No 17 | a line, a railway line 

No 19 | alley, two more alleys found in Bradford on Avon

The other photos I posted in February can be found here and here.

Please comment below if you have written a February WPSH post and I'll be round to visit your blog over the weekend.  

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Taking It Easy!

As soon as it's light I will venture out for my daily walk but that's the only thing on the list for today. 

I'm looking forward to an easy day while I get over the worst of this cold. I'd be able to go to work if I had to but I don't, so I may as well enjoy one of the plusses of retirement and pamper myself while I feel under the weather. So today will be filled with naps, Netflix films, afternoon TV games shows, and reading, interspersed by breaks for coffee, hot chocolate and food. I'm not 'ill', just that horrible feeling at the start of a cold so you don't need to feel sorry for me! 

I made it as far as Bradford on Avon yesterday but, as soon as I parked the car, I bumped into an ex work colleague who I haven't seen for at least fifteen years ... a lovely surprise and all thoughts of photography were abandoned while we went for coffee and a catch up. It was one of those lucky meetings as she now lives in Leeds and has been visiting in the area for the past week. It was great to catch up with her and once she'd got over the shock of Ced's illness and death, we had loads to talk about. 

I still haven't heard back from the handyman with a price or a date to do the work so I will have to look for someone else. That can be added to the list of admin tasks for next week, but it is frustrating when you never hear back about quotes. I also have to make appointments to see the doctor and optician, and to reorder my next supply of medication ... it seems that March is turning out to be a medical month as I already have a physio appointment arranged.

Tomorrow I will be doing the 'feed a cold' bit of the saying, so something to look forward to and I'll tell you all about it. No details for now except to say it's not at all diet friendly!!

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Lent, Photography and A Quiet Night

It's the first day of Lent so time to settle on what to do this year. In addition to making 40 donations to the food bank which I've mentioned before I'd also like to focus on a personal commitment during Lent. I'd originally thought about giving something up, suggesting TV and/or bread, but have now decided that I'll concentrate on making a positive change in my life instead.

As usual I seem to have quite a few changes that I'm working towards implementing and did consider the revised approach to meals as being the one to focus on during Lent but it felt like a bit of a cheat as I have already started preparing for it. 

So, after considerable racking  of brain, I have settled on resuming a daily walk. I've chosen this activity as I definitely won't find it easy but, although I will struggle to start with, I know the health benefits will be significant. It is one area of my life I have been neglecting, which I can't afford to do. My knee is still painful so in addition to the daily walk I'll be continuing with the knee strengthening exercises. The specifics are that I will leave the house for a 15 minute walk every day even if it is raining, but will walk indoors if we have any repeats of the Storm Dennis-like weather during the 40 days of Lent. 

I did my first walk this morning. I almost fell at the first hurdle as I've woken with a head cold and feel dreadful, but I wrapped up warm and dragged myself over in the direction of the canal. At my current speed of walking I made it as far as the road bridge before it was time to turn back.

Once I've finished this post I'll grab my camera and spend the rest of the morning taking some photos for the U3A and the WPSH. I'll start in Bradford on Avon but may venture as far as Bath and, if I do get that far, will also indulge in some retail therapy. 

This evening I plan to snuggle up with a book. No TV or internet time, just lose myself in the story. I still need to choose what to read (from my bookcase) but am thinking maybe something from the fantasy or science fiction genres.

The important news from yesterday was that L and P have decided to settle back in this country. They've been living in Venezuela for years and returned to the UK a couple of years ago for family reasons. They originally intended to live abroad again but have now decided to buy a property in England, definitely in the south and probably somewhere reasonably close to Plymouth where their daughter lives. It's fantastic news and will make it so much easier to meet up.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Decluttering, Teaching and An Evening With Friends

I'll start with an apology ... all I ever seem to write about is the decluttering and it's more of the same today. Even I'm getting fed up with it!

I was lucky enough to sell some of the audio and video equipment yesterday. The remainder will go to the recycling yard, hopefully today if the rain stops for long enough, but it's all been moved to the garage so is out of the way for now. I've put three DVD players on one side to list on eBay or Gumtree as there is a good chance they will sell. Including those three items I only have twenty-five more things to sell and I will have cleared all the unwanted items from the house. I can see the finishing line!

I don't have any plans for today except for one lesson this afternoon and the skip run if it ever stops raining. It feels like a good day to catch up with some housework and to write a shopping list for tomorrow or Thursday. I'll divide the day up with breaks for coffee, reading or playing sudoku.

Tonight L and P will call in for a while on their way back home to Plymouth. They've said that they have something important to tell me which means I will undoubtedly spend most of the day trying to guess what it is! 

Monday, 24 February 2020

Decluttering, Teaching and Singing

I was up early this morning as the people are due around 9 am to see all the audio and video equipment. They pay cash and will take anything they buy away with them today. I've decided that I will take everything they're not interested in to the recycling yard later this morning. Hopefully they will want some of it at least but if they don't I can't see any reason to keep it in the hope I can sell it to someone else. It's mostly obsolete technology so, one way or another, today is the day it all leaves the house! 

If I do need to do a skip run I have a couple of bags of rubbish to take as well so that will clear additional space in the dining room. It's looking a lot better in there now. I'm not quite ready to start using the room for meals yet but it won't be long before I can sit at the table again. The next push is on some music items - various instruments, cases, music books and music reference books - which will be a task for March.

This afternoon I'd like to continue recipe hunting until I stop for the first lesson at 3:30 pm. One child is poorly so there's a gap after the first lesson and the last child will turn up at 4:50 pm. I'll have time for a light meal before I leave home for choir practice. Tonight we will continue with Stand By Me and For Good, and will start learning Brave - M lets us know what we will be singing via email.

Once I get home I'll have a soak in the bath and read for a while before bedtime at 10:30. I'm hoping to re-establish a better and more regular sleep pattern so to aid this I will go back to no TV or screen time after 9pm for the time being on weekdays as this does affect how well I sleep. The days are getting longer and Spring will soon be here so I want to have the energy to be out and about doing all the things I've planned for this year ... a decent amount of sleep every night is just one essential part of that plan!

Sunday, 23 February 2020

An Easy Day!

Yesterday (Saturday) can be ticked off as my most productive day for a long time. I abandoned any thoughts about going out (for any reason!) because of the worsening weather ... high winds again.

My neighbour is an absolute treasure. He called round first thing to say he'd fixed the fallen fence panel so that's one less thing to worry about. He didn't need to buy anything so there's no cost involved which is great news. I will get him a bottle of wine to say thank you though. 

I started my efforts in the living room carrying on with the spring cleaning, so beeswaxing the mahogany furniture, wiping down the paintwork and moving the furniture to hoover the entire carpet. I just have the window and French doors to do (today maybe?) and then that room is finished and I can tick off another February task.

After a break I collected all the audio and video equipment and dumped it in the living room. I took loads to the recycling yard some months ago but still found plenty ...

If they take it all it will clear another big space in the house. If they aren't interested, then it will probably follow the rest to the recycling yard.

After lunch I tackled the cupboards in the playroom. There wasn't much to dispose of but I had all the space freed by returning the band folders etc. so could spread everything out and make it easier to find things. I have kept some things relating to hobbies I don't currently actively pursue but which I think I may like another go at to see if the interest is still there before making the decision to let those items go as well. So the cupboards are organised and that's another one of the February tasks ticked off.

In the evening I settled down to watch my chosen films. They were both recommended and, I am happy to report, lived up to expectations and I enjoyed both of them. I also rewatched 'The Martian'.

On to today (Sunday) and all I plan to do is wipe over all the audio/video equipment. Once that's done I will treat myself to an easy day. All I'd like to do is some more research on changing my diet. I'm thinking about following the 'breakfast like a king, lunch like prince, dine like a pauper' idea. On the days when I've eaten a more substantial breakfast I've generally felt better, have eaten less over the course of the day without feeling hungry and have slept better. I will point out that I hadn't noticed this until I read back through the food diary I've been asked to keep but it definitely stands out over the three months I've been recording my meals. This approach sort of ties in with the fact that the start of my days are when I tend to be more active. I need to review my meal plan and also come up with more ideas for a variety of substantial breakfast ideas so I'm aiming to trial this for three months starting in March.

I'll do some music practice today, probably the flute, and would also like to edit the photos I took of Baby P.  Apart from that ... I don't know but probably reading, watching TV, and some calligraphy practice.

I hope you all have a good day whatever you plan to do.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

More Decluttering, Photo Walk, and Film Night

Yesterday the courier collected the box of books as agreed so that's now winging its way to Ziffit and hopefully I will have a £40+ sum of money transferred to my bank account in the near future. L  arrived  as planned and we spent a very pleasant afternoon together putting the world to rights.

Today I am carrying on with the decluttering, moving all the remaining obsolete audio and video equipment to one spot ready for Monday morning. A local company pays cash for this type of equipment so I have arranged for them to call in to see if they want to buy the things I have. There is lot of stuff (they've already seen a list detailing everything) so I'm hoping they will buy it all ... I don't expect it to make much money but any amount is better than taking it to the skip and just dumping it. Before Monday morning I need to match all the power leads and remotes to the correct items and also find all the instruction booklets.

It's forecast to rain on and off all weekend so I hope to dodge the raindrops around midday and drive to Bradford on Avon to take some photos for the U3A challenge and also for the WPSH. If I'm unlucky with the weather I will have to postpone until next week and will curl up on the sofa with a book instead.

Tonight I'm having a film night ... just me, a homemade chicken curry, and courtesy of Netflix, I'll be watching 'The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind' and 'Darkest Hour'.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Decluttering, A Visitor, and Relaxing

Well, the finance handover didn't go according to plan. I don't really know why I was expecting it to and I now have set aside another morning in two weeks time to get it done. The problem this time was that the account didn't balance;  lots of searching and checking but couldn't sort it out so I bought the receipts and bank statements home to go through it properly. The first thing I spotted was that the account did balance when the correct bank statement was used!! Frustrating but at least I spotted it straight away so won't waste any more time on it.

I had a quiet afternoon reading, answering texts and messages, and watching Tipping Point. In the evening I went to watch Rent with J in the local Arc Theatre. For those who don't know the show, it's a rock musical loosely based on the La Boheme story. This was an amateur production and was very good ... we both enjoyed it and will watch out for other shows at this venue.

I have to stay home today as a courier will arrive at an unspecified time between 8 am and 5 pm. Having to stay in is a shame in one way as it's the last dry day forecast for a while and I need to take some photos for the U3A challenge, but good in another as L is planning to call in for coffee and a chat.

Apart from the courier collection and enjoying L's company for a while, I have nothing else arranged. I doubt I will do much, maybe some reading but definitely nothing too strenuous, and it'll be a quiet evening too.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Accounting, Relaxing and a Night at the Theatre

Yesterday's best bit was meeting Baby P. She is absolutely adorable and I love her to bits. She's such a pretty little thing with lots of very dark brown hair. I can't wait to see her again. 

I'm off out soon to help C with the band accounts but I don't have any plans at all for this afternoon so will snuggle up in the warm and indulge in an afternoon of reading and doing as little as possible.

This evening I am going to The Arc, the local theatre, with J to watch 'Rent'. J mentioned this yesterday so tickets were purchased and we'll see what it's all about. I don't even know if the performance is by a professional touring company or one of the local amateur groups but I'm sure we'll enjoy ourselves.

The thing I'd forgotten yesterday was a telephone consultation with the surgery. Following on from this conversation I need to rethink how I go about reducing carbohydrates in my diet, opting for a more gradual change than I was planning and will need to keep an eye on my BP. I also need to address not just reducing carbs but increasing fats and proteins at the same time. I want to do more research so am aiming to start at the beginning of March.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Mah-jong, Important Visitors, and Meeting Friends

Tuesday morning was filled with meeting the rest of the group and playing mah-jong. Everyone was really friendly and the time flew by ... I can see it being in my diary every other Tuesday morning for the foreseeable future.

I didn't take any photos in the end as my parking ticket was nearly up. I'll have to remember that in the future as it's only three hours parking in the car park nearest to D's home so there won't be time to do anything else after the game playing is finished. It'll make it an expensive morning if I pay for another ticket so I'd like to avoid that if I can.

Back at home I had lunch (mushroom omelette with side salad) then finished off a few bits of personal admin and started on the window cleaning. I started with the upstairs rooms in the end so cleaned the three windows in the spare room and my playroom and will carry on with the rest of the upstairs rooms on Friday.

On to today and I am expecting a very important visitor ...  Baby P is coming to play! She'll probably sleep through the entire visit but I'll get to have a cuddle and that's all that matters. I bought her two outfits in bigger sizes as she has plenty for now.

I'm really looking forward to spending some time with R, Baby P's mummy. I haven't seen her for a proper chat for absolutely ages so it'll be lovely to catch up with her.

I'm meeting up with J in the afternoon but don't know if she's coming to me or I'm going to hers. We may even go mad and meet in one of the coffee shops!

I think that's all I have on today but, although there's nothing else in the diary, I have this worrying little niggle that I have forgotten something. We'll see!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

After the Storm

Yesterday (Monday) was a strange sort of day. The weather couldn't make up it's mind at all, starting off sunny and dry but still windy, which at times throughout the later part of the afternoon was worse than the recent storm. House alarms and car alarms were ringing out for most of the afternoon. Then the heavy rain started up again and was still pouring down when I went to sleep.  I don't know what it's doing out there today as I am typing this in bed and haven't look out of the window yet.

The local police, via their Facebook page, issued warnings about the flooding and road closures in the area. Staverton is flooded on the far side of the village but that's to be expected as it floods in heavy rain let alone the downpour we had over the weekend. It doesn't affect where I live as my part of the village is built on much higher ground thankfully. Trowbridge's flood defences stood up to the challenge but Bradford on Avon wasn't so lucky and the centre is currently under water.

I spent most of the day indoors, tidied the kitchen and put three loads of washing through the machine. I resorted to using the tumble dryer for all of it as I couldn't face waiting for it to dry on the radiators. I also started sorting through the box of odds and ends I removed from the cupboards in the playroom, most of which will go in the next charity shop donation but some of it can just go in the bin. 

I left home early so that I could return a top in Tesco before going on to choir, and while there I stocked up on vegetables as soup supplies are running low. I cooked one batch overnight with the slow cooker on low and will start a second batch later on. I also bought a load of eggs, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes to make some egg muffins to freeze for quick and easy breakfasts.

Choir was, as usual, good fun. The physical warm up was impossible - rotate your hips in a circle and then rotate your arms in a circle but in the opposite direction ... at the same time! I managed the tongue twister this time and the warm up arpeggio was weather related! Then we went back over Budapest, carried on learning Better Place and started working on Stand By Me. I had thought about staying home but I'm glad I made the effort to go. Ninety minutes of singing cheered me up and it did me good to chat with others after a weekend being stuck in the house.

It's the mah-jong group this morning and today I'll get to meet the rest of the group. I'll take my camera with me and if the rain holds off after the mah-jong, will take some street photography photos for the U3A challenge. This afternoon is set aside for cleaning the downstairs windows at the front of the house, so that's the kitchen, living and music rooms. The French doors will wait until later in the week. 

Once that's done I'll settle down to puzzle books and reading with a bit of music practice thrown in the mix, followed by an early night. I'm expecting a very important visitor tomorrow.

Monday, 17 February 2020

The Weekend

Thank you for the comments on yesterday's questions and answers.

I think Storm Dennis was playing with my head. I spent most of Saturday thinking it was Sunday so ended up wishing my brother a happy birthday one day early ... at least I remembered!

The storm didn't seem too bad to start with so I was intending to walk over to the canal, just five minutes away, to take some photos from the shelter of the bridge but I bumped into a neighbour and stopped for a chat ... in the rain! By the time we'd finished the wind had picked up so I abandoned the walk and closed the door against the weather. Indoors, I just had a pottering sort of weekend. 

The storm picked up throughout Saturday but Sunday during the day was wind free until it returned with a vengeance for part of the evening. It's the noise that gets to me and I find that I am continually tensing my muscles, so end up feeling tired even though I'm not doing anything. I woke on Sunday morning to find that one fence panel had blown down. It was still in my garden and will stay there until it can be put back - the garden is still secure as the neighbour's garden wraps around mine. We share ownership of this fence so will share the cost of the repair, although there's a possibility that he may be able to do it himself. One of my big terracotta pots has a large chunk gouged out of the side so I will want to replace that at some stage. However, considering how bad it was, I think I'm lucky that the damage was relatively light.

I spent quite a lot of Sunday looking on YouTube for ideas for exercises. Divers and Sundry recommended Dr Jo's channel and I like the look of her knee strengthening videos, so will start with those. I'm also looking for a beginner yoga or an improve your flexibility video but so far no luck in finding one I thought I'd be able to stick to.

I had an email about the U3A family history group to tell me that the two existing groups are full but she has added my name to the waiting list and is anticipating starting a third group in the summer. I just have to hope it'll be on a day that fits in with all my other plans. Most of the family history groups I've looked at meet to talk about their research based on a given topic, e.g. an ancestor in the military, but this group has a different approach. It meets in the Wilts Family History Centre and uses the centre's resources to continue with actual research. The blurb about the group say they pool ideas to help members break through the tricky bits of research that everyone experiences from time to time. Actually doing the research appeals to me so I hope enough people are interested.

I had to get up early today as it's the black box collection (glass, tins and paper) and it was too windy to put it out last night - I had visions of the contents spread throughout the Close which is exactly what happened to some of the other houses.  It's  half term so there is no teaching today but choir is on as usual. I need to do some housework and return a top for a refund, but that's all I have on the must-do list. I'm delaying food shopping for a few days while I review my meal plan as I'm debating whether to attempt low carb eating to see if that will kick start the weight loss. I'm dithering because, while I think it will help, I am currently in a cycle of having lots of migraines and eating a higher carb food has always been an effective way of bringing an attack to an end. I don't know how reducing carbs overall will affect me, hence the dithering. I may phone the nutritionist at the surgery for advice as she may well have a better suggestion for me to try.

I'm also looking ahead to Lent, thinking of what I can do this year. I've already decided on a donation of 40 items to the local food bank and think I will declutter 40 items, just because it needs to be done and it will spur me on to complete it. I'm planning to give something up for Lent as well but I'm dithering as to what. Have you noticed there is a lot of dithering going on at the moment? My initial though was to give up coffee but I've done that before. I don't eat a lot of sweets and never drink alcohol so they're both non-starters, but am thinking maybe bread or TV, or both. I still have a few days to decide.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Questions and Answers

Joy posted her answers to these questions on Friday and invited others to join in .... so I have.

1. Who are you named after? 
My Mum always liked the name Eileen. It is also her younger sister's name but I was always told that it was chosen because she liked the name and not to name me after my auntie.  

2. Last time you cried? 
Last week. I'm in the middle of sorting through a box containing my late partner's possession and my emotions got the better of me.

3. Do you like your handwriting?
Yes I do. I've always had neat handwriting and at one time was able to write equally well with both left and right hands. My sister, on the other hand, has handwriting that looks as if a spider has crawled across the page and died!

4. What is your favorite meat?
Either lamb or chicken. I occasionally eat pork but am allergic to beef so that is definitely off the menu.

5. Longest relationship?
Thirty six years with Ced.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

7. Would you bungee jump?
No, never.

8. What is your favourite cereals? 
I rarely eat cereals but occasionally will have something made with oats.

9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? 

10. Do you think you're strong? 
I'm not physically strong but I've proved to myself over the past seven years that I am emotionally stronger than I ever thought possible.

11. Favorite ice cream?
Strawberry, chocolate or mint are my current choices but I do keep changing my mind. For a person who is intolerant of dairy I seem to eat ice cream more often than is healthy!

12. What is the first thing you notice about a person?
Their eyes.

13. Football or Rugby?

If I'm strapped to a chair and forced to watched then I'd be hoping it was a rugby match. I'd be happy to watch a cricket match though. Or tennis. Or athletics.

14. What colour trousers are you wearing?
I'm not wearing trousers today but if I was they'd be black ... I only have one pair of trousers and they are black.

15. Last thing you ate? 
Scrambled eggs on toast 

16. What are you listening to? 
Nothing at the moment. The house is quiet. I'll put the radio on later on, probably either Radio 2 or Classic FM.

17. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? 

18. What is your favourite smell?
I've had no sense of smell since 2001 but can vaguely remember the smell of roses so I'll say that.

19. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? 
The person who organises the U3A photography group.

20. Hair colour? 
Originally brown but now mostly grey

21. Eye colour? 
My eyes change colour so today are green but yesterday were blue/grey.

22. Favourite foods to eat? 
When I lost my sense of smell my ability to taste was affected so I prefer to eat spicy foods now. 

23. Scary movies or happy endings?
Definitely happy endings.I never watch scary films now I live alone ... it takes too long to check all the rooms to make sure the local axe murderer isn't hiding!

24. Last movie you watched?
Mrs Lowry & Son. I didn't really enjoy it though.

25. What colour shirt are you wearing? 

26. What is your favourite holiday?
Of recent choices I think it will have to be the short break to Liverpool or maybe one of the trips to London. Going back a few year I have very fond memories of a holiday to Lindisfarne with Ced.

27. Beer or wine? 
Neither, I never drink alcohol

28. Night Owl or Morning Person? 
A bit of both really. Sometimes I am up early and other times I'm still awake in the early hours. 

29.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
The Lake District or by the coast.

30. Favorite day of the week?

I don't really have a favourite day. I like the balance of life throughout the week and look forward to different days for different reasons.

Feel free to join in if you want. Please let me know in the comments if you do and I'll pop across and read your answers.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Taking Stock

This is a long post filled with me thinking out loud and waffling on ... you have been warned!!

I've made so many changes to my life over the last year. Some changes have been successful immediately, the majority have been tweaked and evolved until I am happy, and quite a few have fallen by the wayside. I'm not complaining, but now I want to pause and take stock.

All the changes to do with the home have thankfully been successful. I'm happy with how my home looks and the atmosphere I've created in each room. There are some minor tweaks still to happen when funds allow, and I haven't completed the decluttering yet but on the whole all home issues are heading in the right direction.

I'm still looking for some help with the garden.Ced was the gardener so coping alone is a work in progress. I may have found someone who can advise on the aspects of the garden maintenance I could easily do myself if I'm shown exactly what to do but I still need to find someone to do the heavier work for me. On the whole the garden issues are manageable and I am working towards finding a solution to the problem.

So far so good. I have plenty of time to keep on top of home and garden related tasks and still have the social life I am seeking. This is the part of my life which has seen the most changes and a couple of friends are querying whether I am doing too much which has prompted me to pause and evaluate all that I'm doing.

This all came to a head last night when P & L asked why I was doing so much which lead to us drawing grids to prove that, although it sounds like a lot, I actually still have plenty of free time. P worked it all out so I am going to bore you with it now ... assuming 8 hours sleep leaves 16 hours every day, which equals 112 hours in a week or 448 hours for a four week month. Realistically I'm not busy for the full 16 hours we allowed in each day but just go with it for now please. Looking at what I do every month it adds up to about 80 hours spread over the month. Not every week is the same but even if this is rounded up to 100 hours in case I've underestimated, it still leaves 348 hours for 'me time', which equates to 21.75 days every month when I have no plans or committments. In the end P grudgingly agreed that I wasn't that busy!

Keeping in mind that I live alone I am currently asking myself if my current social arrangements are enough. At the moment, I don't know the answer to that question, but it's something for me to keep in mind. I won't add any more regular group activities (except the family tree group which is 2 hours once a month) until I am sure that the U3A groups are fulfilling their designated role in my life. I'm still in that newbie stage where it will take some effort on my part to get to know the other group members, a situation which has it's own particular stresses, so I will wait until I feel completely at ease until I decide whether I need or want more things to do. On paper I think I do, but on paper doesn't take account of energy levels, health, general moods etc. so time will tell on that one. I don't want to be rushing through my days and I obviously still want to have time for all my hobbies and interests.

One of the other important areas I need to address with some urgency is to improve my fitness levels and lose weight. I was losing weight steadily but recently have plateaued so need to re-evaluate and decide what to do next. I have no idea so any suggestions will be very much appreciated please ... I didn't get on with Slimming World and don't fancy the Weight Watcher's plan. I also need to resume exercising without aggravating my knee problems so again, any suggestions will be appreciated .... but not swimming!!

I've run out of steam and am not sure that I've covered everything that's on my mind. It's a good start though and it's confirmed that my focus needs to be on fitness, weight loss, and tweaking my weekday routine ... so that's where I'll start. A round of applause if you got this far. Now go and have a hot drink and a choccy biccy as a reward!

Friday, 14 February 2020

Power Cuts, Photography and Noises in the Night

Yesterday morning's plan to start spring cleaning in the living room was a non starter ... the power was out for most of the morning. It must have started in the early hours as the water didn't heat up and there was no heating at all. Although I could have cleaned the windows or something I was too cold so spent most of the morning huddled under a blanket feeling hard done by! Thankfully it came back on in time for me to make myself a hot meal and take a shower before I had to leave to get to the new photography group.

The photography group lived up to it's name - Photography for Fun! They choose a theme every month and then submit about 12 photos each to show to the group the following month. The photos viewed today were all to do with weather. The group (approx 18 people) is a mix of ages with a mix of photographic standards and the thing I liked best was that the viewing of the photos was accompanied by lots of friendly banter and no-one was made to feel uncomfortable about their efforts.  I'm glad I went today because I would have been unnecessarily anxious about presenting my efforts to the group but I feel more confident about it now. I'm not quite as confident about the new theme - street photography - not my favourite but we are allowed to include architecture rather than just photographing people, so I should do okay. The group meets once a month but there will obviously be more time devoted during the month to take and edit the photos. I especially like that it's not a competition focused group so the thematic approach should suit me. Watch this space! 

Wessex Water advised they were working through the night on emergency repairs and apologised in advance for the noise. Yes, it was noisy! No I didn't get any sleep! I am very, very tired today but luckily I don't have much planned so I can take it easy. I'm hoping to meet J for coffee at some stage but that's it, although I'm fairly certain there will be one or two naps needed to get me through the day.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Finishing Up and Starting New Things!

I met with C yesterday morning to do the handover over of the band's finances so that's another thing over and done with ... almost. I will help her prepare the end of Financial Year figures when the books are balanced at the end of March but that's a one-off ... all the other tasks associated with this role are no longer my responsibility. The End!

I had to change my afternoon plans because I was able to arrange for the autism charity to collect their box of goodies, and I had someone else interested in buying the Victorian kaleidoscope but they were a no show so that's still here. The no show was a bit annoying but at least the donation to the charity has cleared another space and I've been able to tick a couple more tasks off my to-do list.

Today I have a free morning, free in that I'm not meeting anyone, so I am going to start spring cleaning the living room. I'd originally planned to get it finished in one day but that was before I put my name down for the U3A Photography group which is on this afternoon. The living room won't take too long to do so what doesn't get done today will be finished tomorrow.

I've been checking the 'what's on' pages and have found a couple of other things to add to the list of potential activities. One seems to be a regular Saturday afternoon free event, a board games club organised by the library. It's for all ages but I will find out who goes and which games are played before I commit to going ... I won't bother if there aren't any adults. I didn't ever get to the similar club organised by my local library which now seems to have disappeared without trace; this latest one is in Bradford on Avon and seems to be going strong so it's worth investigating.  The other event is a mid week Verse & Music afternoon, a joint venture organised by the library and the rural music school. It's a free event starting next month so I will register my interest and toddle along on the day to see what it's all about.

I started watching Mrs Lowry & Son on Netflix last night but was too sleepy to watch to the end. It's not at all what I was expecting and left me feeling sad and frustrated for Lowry. I only have about 30 minutes left to watch so I will finish watching it tonight, though it's not a feel good film. I'll follow it up with a comedy I think, but I don't know which one.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Mah Jong and Other Things

I left home in plenty of time yesterday so I could find some more photos for the scavenger hunt before I had to meet D to learn how to play mah jong. The first one was taken just up the road in Hilperton and the others were taken in Devizes.

No 5 | the garden gate, this always looks like a very dark and forbidding entrance to a home.

No 18 | a chain, securing a bay tree to the wall

No 19 | alley, the first photo shows the 15th century buildings in St John's Alley and the second one shows the shops in The Ginnel.

I don't know Devizes that well but managed to find D's home easily enough. She was very welcoming and had my sense of humour so we hit it off right from the start. She explained about the group and expressed some concern that I may not want to come when I realise that I will be the youngest by at least 10 years but I assured her that it honestly doesn't bother me at all. It's something I was expecting from my previous experience with U3A groups.

D explained the basics of the game and then we had a go. I'd read a little bit online so had some idea of what to do but actually playing the game helped all the various cogs fall into place. The basic game is easy to pick up and I feel confident that I will be able to hold my own when the rest of the group are there next week. D also loaned me a copy of the rule book which will help me understand the intricacies of the game but has suggested I play a few simple basic games without worrying about the scoring before I start learning any of the more advanced approaches.

It's a very tactile game played at a fairly fast pace and I loved it. The two hours simply flew by and I had to rush to get back to my car before my parking ticket expired. If the other group members are as chatty as D I'm sure it will be a fun experience and a perfect addition to my list of activities.

The handyman turned up as promised so I am now waiting for his quote and an idea of when he will be able to do the work, assuming the price is acceptable. 

Two people responded to adverts and bought the C clarinet and an engine for a model aeroplane, so that's two more things out of the house. The charity for autistic adults is interested in all the items I offered them so I boxed everything up and am now waiting for them to collect later this week. That the second thing ticked off on my list of tasks for February - just a gardener to find, a living room to spring clean and a playroom to reorganise and I will have completed the list! The spring cleaning in the living room will be done on Thursday (hopefully). 

I had one music lesson to do in the afternoon and then I settled down for an evening of calligraphy exercises, flute practice, and listening to music. I decided on another early night so was in bed by 9:30 pm.

Today (Wednesday) I am seeing C for the handover of the treasurer's role so that should all be done and dusted by lunchtime. I usually meet S on a Wednesday afternoon but he is not well so we've agreed that he will contact me when he feels able to meet up again. He has lots of serious medical problems so it may be several weeks before that happens but we'll keep in touch by text for now. As I am losing a social activity I've decided to try out the U3A Photography For Fun group which meets once a month on a Thursday afternoon. This doesn't fully replace meeting with S but will be something else to look forward to and, I think, will require me to concentrate on photography more than I am at present ... this can only be a good thing and, if I enjoy it, I can keep going when the weekly meet ups with S resume. I'll tell you more after I go to my first session later this week.

Because I'm not meeting S it means that the rest of today is my own. If it stays dry I may go over to Bradford on Avon to take some more photos for the scavenger hunt or I may drive in to Bath to look for fabric for a blouse. I've bought a second hand dressmaker's dummy so want to get on and make some thing for myself. I've selected a couple of patterns but will look at the available fabric before I decide which one to buy.  

This evening is our designated film evening but, best laid plans and all that, the others have to work so I will snuggle up on the sofa with a warm blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and choose a film to watch on Netflix.