Wednesday, 30 September 2020

The Understairs Cupboard

Yesterday was much more productive, thank goodness. When I made the decision to stay in it was raining and L was happy to cancel our walk as she wasn't feeling 100%, so I set to and turned my mind to sorting out the understairs cupboard.

This is the only part of the house that hasn't had any attention. It's an awkward space because the staircase has two bends (looking down at the stairs from above, imagine it bends to create three sides of a square), so the height at the back of the cupboard is restricted. When I open the door the front part is full height for a depth of about 16 inches and then half height  for the rest, total depth is just under 5 feet.

I've been in this house for seven years now and this cupboard seems to have become a bit of a dumping ground for things I didn't have a proper place for. So the added bonus of having to empty the cupboard for the new electricity meter is that I was presented with the ideal opportunity to sort things out properly and, because of all the decluttering that's been happening in those seven years, I can now find new homes for much of the stuff.

I've been quite ruthless and am just keeping what I know I use. Unwanted coats (too big 😊), scarves, gloves, shoes and bags have been set aside for the next charity doorstep collection and that's cleared up the front part of the cupboard. The ironing board and iron have been moved to the spare bedroom for now and will eventually live on the inside of the airing cupboard door - I like doing the ironing upstairs so I can put things straight in the wardrobe, and it'll be handy for any dressmaking which may or may not be happening in the playroom.

For now the Christmas decorations have been returned to the back of the cupboard but the tree has been moved out to the garage. I think the decs will stay there as the plastic boxes they're stored in fit perfectly at the back of the cupboard below the fuse board. There were a few bags full of books and unwanted ornaments which were probably intended for the charity shop so that's where they'll be going. And then all that's left to fit in is the hoover, airing rack, dustpan, and spare kitchen rolls ... plenty of space, so I've ordered some shoe racks to try to keep it tidy. Sorry, no photos because Blogger is being difficult again! I still have to take things to auction, recycling, and charity shops, but that's the entire house done now.

Today, I was planning to go for a walk with J but she's asked to postpone until next week so I will carry on with the family tree instead. I'm making good progress on transferring the family tree and family have been very prompt at checking and returning their details, well most of them have! If I keep going at this rate I will have all my research transferred to the new software by the weekend and then I can start hunting for new info.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020


Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a wash out. I had arranged for the electricity and gas meters to be updated to SMART meters and the engineers were scheduled to arrive between 8 am and 10 am. There had been texts from them every day for a week leading up to this so I was sure they'd arrive on time, but I was wrong. At 10:30 am I got a phone call from their office to say they were delayed and they eventually arrived at 1:30 pm. It was one of those mornings where I put off starting anything because I was expecting them to turn up any minute, so in the end nothing got done!

The afternoon wasn't much better. They were here for ages as they had problems with the gas meter, and because the power was off all the time they were here, it was freezing in the house. I whacked the heating up after they left, snuggled up under a blanket and thawed out slowly!

Today is supposed to be a walk with L but we haven't made any firm plans so I don't know if that will happen. If not, I'll go round to The Nursery (the garden centre in the next village) and have a look at what they have on offer. I'm not planning to buy anything but that doesn't really mean anything ... if I see something I like, I'll buy it and worry about where it's going afterwards!

Monday, 28 September 2020

Garden Update No 7

Note: this post was originally written on the 20th September, the day after M's first visit, but I've had problems getting it to publish!

M turned up as promised yesterday and we chatted about what I was trying to achieve in the garden. She then asked what I wanted done as a priority and stayed for two and a half hours getting loads done, which was a lovely surprise as I thought it was just an introductory 'do we like each other' sort of meeting. Two of the existing plants in pots have been moved into larger pots, the soil level has been raised in the centre bed, some established plants have been moved and replanted, the new obelisk is in place, and two lots of bulbs have been dealt with. She has also marked the positioning of the minarette fruit trees with sticks. Plus a fair bit of weeding and some deadheading.

The colour scheme is mainly pinks, purples, reds, and whites, but I want to add some yellows as well. So far on the new planting there are knautia melton pastels (1st image) and knautia macedonica (2nd image) ...

Nandina domestica obsessed (it's a deeper red than it appears in this photo) ...

a double flowered pink Hibiscus 'Chiffon' ...

 and a Deutzia 'Raspberry Sundae'.

On order are Lavetera Barnsley Baby, Gladioli, and Angel's Fishing Rods, and I will be buying some salvia and a couple of others that M suggested but I can't remember what they're called! The plan is for sweet peas on the obelisk and hopefully some red poppies scattered around. I don't know yet what's happening with the rest of the bulbs I already have but some will definitely go in the pots ready for some spring colour. 

That's the lot for now as I need to wait and see what it looks like when it's grown. M has suggested planting for colour throughout the year with a lot more bulbs to fill out the planting rather than more shrubs which will eventually outgrow the available space.

In the longer term, the plan is to work slowly round the garden and review each individual flower bed to decide what stays, what needs to be moved and what else is needed. For now, she'll put in as much time as possible to get the garden to where I want it to be, then visit every other week to keep it maintained. Her next visit should be this Friday but the forecast is dire so I'm not holding out much hope!

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Weekly Reflections

  Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • finishing the sorting in the garage
  • discovering I have access to the Sky Arts channel on Freeview TV
  • (re)watching the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert
  • discussing the family tree with my sister, niece and cousin. Sharing old family photos and stories of loved ones who are no longer with us
  • getting my hair cut
  • the return of The Shows Must Go On and the opportunity to watch a new musical every weekend 
  • getting some useful tips on tracing the branch of the family I can't find from professional genealogists at the Family History Show

I am grateful ...
  • for positive results from the GP and optician consultations
  • for offers of help to take unwanted items to the recycling yard for me

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): achieved

Saturday, 26 September 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window ... It's supposed to be a dry day. 

I am thinking ... about the things I need to sort out/put in place before the winter. The Christmas arrangements will be more difficult this year and I doubt I'll get to see most people face to face so am trying to decide what to do about gifts, and how I want to spent the actual day. I was going away but that's been cancelled by the company, so I need to make other arrangements.

I am thankful ... that all my family and friends remain safe and well during these strange times. This is the same comment as the last time I wrote one of these posts, but it is the most important thing and I'm genuinely thankful that the people I love have stayed safe ... everything else pales in comparison.

In the kitchen ... not a lot is happening! Next week I need to devote some time to preparing some more meals for the freezer. It's worth the effort because I'll have a good selection of healthy meals to choose from and now the days are cooler I am feeling the need for some comfort food.

I am wearing ... or will be wearing once I get out of bed, red skirt and top.

I am creating ... an updated version of the family tree using the new software. It's much more user friendly than the software I was using before and I'm enjoying the process, although I've only been doing it for a day so ask me again in a few weeks and I may not be as enthusiastic!

I am going ... to the Family History Show today, a virtual trip of course. I bought my ticket some time ago and had forgotten about it until the reminder email turned up yesterday. I'm hoping I'll be fortunate enough to have a zoom chat with one of the experts and get some tips on how to get started on my paternal grandfather's line.

I am wondering ... all sorts of things and nothing in particular. I feel unsettled about the coronavirus situation and wonder what is ahead for us in terms of additional restrictions if the current attempts to flatten the curve don't work.

I am reading ... Richard Osman's, 'The Thursday Murder Club'.  I only started it last night and am loving it ... I kept reading long after I should have turned out the light last night early this morning, so  the need for sleep will probably hit me later this afternoon. 

I am watching ... much more TV than usual. Current favourites include The Repair Shop, Would I Lie To You, Only Connect, All Creatures Great and Small, and some of the offerings on Sky Arts. I'm also watching the Church Conservation Trust's weekly lectures, and of course, The Shows Must Go On has resumed their weekly musical so I will be watching all of those as well.

I am hoping ... that I hear back from the auction house this week. They advised that there would be a delay in responding because of their revised working arrangements but I'd like to get it all sorted as soon as possible.

I am looking forward to ... collaborating with my cousins on the family history, sharing old family photos and putting names to as many faces as we can, and sharing the family stories we grew up hearing. It's going to be a fun project.

I am learning ... to speak and write Italian. I do about 20 minutes study every day, which seems to be as much as my brain can cope with (!), and I'm pleased with the steady progress I'm making.

Around the house ...  it's 'home'! I'm keeping it tidy, staying on top of all the chores, and am still loving living here. 

I am pondering ... how to increase/improve my fitness levels. There are plenty of YouTube videos I can follow but they all feel like 'exercise' and I'm wanting ways of being more active without actually doing an exercise routine. I'm considering Couch to 5K but walking rather than running, unless there is actually an equivalent app for walking.

One of my favourite things ... choral music.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... 
  • Sunday will be a photo walk, weather permitting, and a WhatsApp video call with friends
  • Monday, the SMART meters will be fitted, and in the evening it's the online choir practice,
  • Tuesday will be a drive out in the car, or a short walk with L,
  • Wednesday will be a short walk with J, 
  • Thursday will be the lunch time lecture by The Churches Conservation Trust,
  • Friday will be a visit from M to tend the garden, and an evening watching whichever musical is released, 
  • Saturday will be a lazy day, probably reading.
A peek into my day ... R will be dropping some stuff off this morning and the rest of the day is set aside for the Family History Show. It's available online until 16:00 but I doubt I'll last the whole day. I'm hoping to get a one-to-one advice session with one of the experts about the best way forward on getting started on the remaining branch of my family.

A quote for today ... "Happiness is letting go of what you think your life should look like", unknown

Friday, 25 September 2020


Yesterday's optician and doctor appointments both went well. Everything looks normal, I just need to arrange for more regular BP checks so it's a return to the timetable I was following before the lockdown. Probably easier said than done, and it's no good buying a BP monitor for home as they don't seem to work on me, even when the doctor/nurses try to use them, but I'll do my best to stick to the plan.

I bought the book I wanted - Richard Osman's 'The Thursday Murder Club', but the sharpening place wasn't open so that's on the list for another day. I arrived home just before Royal Mail delivered a parcel, which turned out to be my new genealogy software ... brilliant service, arriving one day after I ordered it when I only paid second class postage  The National Trust member's magazine was on the doormat and also the local magazine, Staverton News. So I had plenty of goodies to play with but extremely blurry vision and it all had to wait.

It was quite late in the day before my vision cleared and I chose to play with the new software first. I've installed it and just played about, creating a few dummy records and having a go at changing some of the standard phrases, and also manipulating some of the report charts. So far, so good!

Today I want to make a start on transferring the family tree to the new software. It is possible to create a file to do it in one easy step but I've decided against that. There's no point transferring a file that contains corrupted data so I will input manually and check the data as I go along. It'll take longer but will be worth it. Luckily I have printouts of every entry prior to 1939 from before the database corrupted so I only need to check 1940 onwards ... a lot, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

We're due a few dry days now, though it's not going to be particularly warm. I'm waiting to hear back from J and L to arrange a couple of short walks (one with each of them). I took my final photo for the SPSH when I was in town yesterday but I still need to take some more on the green theme before the end of the month. 

It's the first of the new series of The Shows Must Go On tonight and they're showing 'Fame, The Musical' which I haven't seen before, so will plonk myself in front of the TV by 7 o'clock. It's feeling a little like the start of lockdown again, although that's not the case at all. 

Thursday, 24 September 2020



Yesterday turned out to be wet and cold! I was glad to stay indoors, only venturing outside when the top soil turned up as promised. It's now waiting on the drive for M's return. 

I spend a good part of the day on the family tree. My sister mailed the photos to her children and one of my nieces phoned to chat about the family tree. I gave her a printed copy some years ago but it grown out of all recognition since then so we were trying to decide on the best way to share information. It's much too big to present on paper as one large ancestor chart but she's keen to have a copy for her children to see.

This prompted me to look at the genealogy software available. The software I'm currently using isn't working as well as I'd like it to - for example, it keeps messing up the birth order of siblings and is incapable of recording twins properly, which is a bit of an issue for me! There's loads of other niggles but I won't go on! However, adding in the problem of the database corrupting when I input Baby R's details, I've decided that this is a good time to update and check the whole tree, and if I'm doing that I may as well choose some better software as well. I think I've settled on Rootsmagic UK, which amongst a whole host of useful features gives me the option of creating read-only digital copies of the tree to share with family. It also has the functionality to present the tree in book form, so may be a good starting point for the project with my cousin.

I found some of the old photos I knew I had but my sister has already packed hers in anticipation of her house move, so the photo side of things will probably wait until January.

Today I have an eye examination first thing. Friend S is taking me as I will have to have my pupils dilated (confirmed yesterday) so won't be able to drive afterwards. I'll still be able to go book shopping and get the secateurs sharpened as the shops are right next to each other in the precinct, but the rest will have to wait for another day. The remainder of the day really depends on how quickly the blurred vision from the dilation rights itself, but I hope to carry on with contacting other relatives, asking them to check that the information I hold is correct ... there's probably lots of new babies to add in for some of the more distant cousins. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020


Yesterday sort of got highjacked, but in a good way, so I didn't get out to take any photos. 

While emptying their mum's home, my cousins have found loads of old family photos but couldn't identify the people in some of them, so my sister volunteered my services. I don't quite understand her logic and why the fact that I've traced the family tree means that I know what any of the people looked like, but I actually ended up being able to put names to most of them. 

It's opened up a sharing of information and we'll continue to share family stories and photos so they aren't lost ... we're part of the oldest generation in the family now so if we don't do it, it will be lost forever. H, my cousin, wants to put all the old stories and photos in a book so I will see if we can add the family tree as well. We'll keep sharing information and will meet as soon as these strange times are over. It's an exciting project.

Today, I'm hunting out all the old photos and trying to persuade my sister to do the same. The only thing in the diary is a delivery of top soil so I have to wait in for that. It's supposed to rain today and it feels rather chilly so I'm happy to have found a useful way to occupy my time at home that doesn't involve housework!

The new restrictions in the UK don't really change things for me. I was worried that they were going to order the vulnerable groups to shield again but that thankfully isn't the case for now. I feel rather ill at ease that these arrangements will be in force for the next six months and that there may be additional restrictions if it becomes necessary, but I am glad the government is responding quickly to the rapid increase in new cases. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2020


This is supposed to be our last sunny day for a while so I'd like to get out with my camera, even if it's just for a walk along the canal. J & R will be here at 10:30 and G will be here at 15:00, so I have a gap in the middle when I can pretend the housework is finished and take myself off for a jolly!

I spent some time yesterday afternoon trying to take the remaining photos I need for the SPSH which finished at the end if the month. I have two more to find, one I can take in town on Thursday, and one I'm stuck for ideas on. I need to put my thinking cap on!

The news about the rate of infection and the return to level 4 is unsettling. Apart from the new rule of 6 I haven't heard of any additional restrictions yet, but will assume that they will come so I am continuing to prepare for the winter months to avoid going out if that becomes necessary. This situation has forced a change in how and when I buy the supplies I need and I am currently checking that I have enough to see me through so that supermarket deliveries can be used just for foodstuffs.

I think it's also time to stock up on jigsaws, puzzle books and the like, to stop me getting bored. Even if shielding isn't required again, I don't do 'cold' so need to have entertainment at home now we're heading for the coldest part of the year.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Me On Monday

Me on Monday is looking forward to a fairly busy week after a productive weekend.

Without planning to, over the weekend I finished sorting through everything in the garage so I now have a complete list of all the things that can be sold. My neighbour helped me out, putting some things up in the rafters and moving the heavier stuff for me. We've also agreed that, when he comes back from holiday, he will take everything I want to dispose of to the recycling yard to save me doing it - that's another huge weight off my mind. The garage is finally tidy and I know where everything is!

Spending a most  enjoyable Sunday evening watching a recording of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert. It was showing on Sky Arts which now seems to be one of the channels available on Freeview TV so I'll be checking to see what other treasures are available.

Catching up with medical appointments - doctor and optician, both on Thursday. Both are catch up routine (in person) visits but I will also take the opportunity to discuss the recent problems with them.

Also catching up with odds and ends while I'm in town. The bookshop is next door to the opticians so after my appointment I'll see if I can use a book token that's been hanging about for ages (years?) - if it's still valid I'll treat myself to a copy of Richard Osman's 'The Thursday Murder Club' if they have it in stock. A couple of shops further along, and on my way back to the car, is the key cutter/knife sharpening place so I'll take the secateurs and get them sharpened. Then a drive to one of the Retail Parks to get a replacement photo card in Currys and stock up on some things in Home Bargains.

Reading 'Bones of Faerie', the first book in a trilogy by Janni Lee Summer. It's not my usual genre but I fancied a change and an advert for this one appeared in my Facebook feed. The blurb was intriguing so it's now on my Kindle and I'm liking it so far. 

Waiting in on Wednesday for a delivery of top soil ... it really feels like the garden work is gathering momentum. There won't be much to see until next year but the proper prep work is finally starting!

Looking forward to a visit from J & R on Tuesday morning, and to having a haircut in the afternoon. Also a walk around the Biss Meadows Country Park with the other J on Wednesday evening (providing the top soil is delivered on time and it's not pouring with rain!). 

Wondering which musical will be screened on Friday night for the relaunch of The Shows Must Go On.

I hope you all have a good week.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • finally getting the plants in the ground
  • meeting Baby R for the first time
  • continuing to enjoy the updated version of 'All Creatures Great and Small'
  • chats with friends
  • an evening stroll along the canal
  • arranging some diary dates ... some things to look forward to
  • sunny days and wonderful sunsets
  • finding a new gardener! 

I am grateful ...
  • for easy access to free medical care
  • that I am surrounded by people who are following the new Covid rules whether they agree with them or not

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): achieved

Saturday, 19 September 2020


Okay, guess who has a new gardener?

She lives locally, has a great sense of humour and will be a real asset. I have absolutely no reason to think she'll be unreliable and that would be the only reason to start looking for someone else, so ... we've agreed that she'll put in as much time as she can to get the garden up to scratch before the winter and then it'll be fortnightly maintenance visits. I'm not sure whether she has any formal gardening training but what she does have is a whole lifetime of knowledge and experience, and she's a hard worker - she stayed for two hours and has made a good start on sorting out little problem areas in the garden. I'll do a garden update post one day next week.

After the excitement of yesterday, today will be another quiet day. I'll be speaking to friends at some stage but the rest of the time it's up to me to keep myself amused, so a bit of reading, maybe a film, a few naps, and some sort of musical activity ... I feel the need to play something today.

Friday, 18 September 2020


I met our new baby last night. It was a doorstep greeting and I haven't had a cuddle yet, but I've seen him and he is gorgeous.

It's a slight change of plan for today as the potential new gardener is coming to see me this morning instead of next week so I'll know today whether she'll take on the work. If not, I can move to the next name on the list a week earlier, but I am feeling positive.

Once she's gone the diary is empty and I don't have anything that must be done around the house so for the rest of the day I will be a lady of leisure! 

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with good news about the garden.

Thursday, 17 September 2020


It's always the way! Just when I thought I'd decided on taking the rest of the decluttered items to auction, a leaflet in yesterday's mail has made me stop and think. One of the issues with selling on eBay is the need to go to the Post Office to send the parcels, which I want to avoid doing, but now it seems that the Royal Mail is offering a home collection service for parcels. I'll carry on photographing everything as I'll need the photos whichever option I choose, but will have a think about the pros and cons of each option.

I've abandoned any attempts to get the bulbs planted and it will have to wait until I sort out a replacement gardener. My body is telling me to stop ... this time it was a nosebleed.

Today, will be a pottering sort of day. I have some photos to take, a letter to finish writing to a friend, and will need to spend some time in the kitchen as there are some mushrooms which need to used up. That's it though, so the rest of the day will be filled with fun things, probably family tree, reading, and Italian grammar.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020


I didn't really think through the timing for all the errands yesterday. It was too busy for me - I should have waited and gone out later, probably after lunch, when I think it would have been much quieter. It was also too hot to be outside, but I did get the parcel in the post, filled up with petrol, and made an appointment for the car service! The shopping isn't that urgent and can wait.

The patio is in full sun all afternoon so I spent a bit of time out there moving the empty pots round, but gave up on planting any of the bulbs. Instead, I pottered about in the garage listing items for auction, made the next pile of things to take to the recycling yard when I can book a slot, and carried on tidying the end where all the garden stuff is kept. There's not much more to do out there now. Later on it cooled down enough to be bearable so I got as far as getting a layer of compost in all ten pots and planted one pack of bulbs in the corner of the centre bed. I would have got more done but my neighbour called over to show me the note she'd received from D advising that she needs to work closer to home so is unable to continue maintaining my neighbour's garden ... so we're both looking for a replacement gardener. 

I hope to finish off the bulbs this evening, waiting for it to be cooler. I don't have a busy day planned but need to make a couple of important phone calls, so achieving anything else is dependent on getting those done first. Once they're done I can carry on with photographing some more of the auction stuff and then settle down to read in the cool of the living room.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020


It's errands day today, starting at the Post Office to send a parcel to Joy, on to Home Bargains to restock on toiletries and cleaning supplies, and then to the garage to top up on fuel. Then a doorstep delivery to my nephew and hopefully a peek at the new arrival (but I won't go in because I think I have the start of a cold), and then call in to see T on the way home to arrange a date for my car service. 

Back at home, and after a coffee break or two, the only other thing I want to make a start on is photographing the items I'd like to send to auction. I'll start on the smaller things today, so the coins and military badges as they'll take the longest to do.

My eye is improving, BP is fine and I was able to give negative responses to all the questions, so it seems unlikely that the bleed is anything to worry about. So, with that in mind I may have a go at getting some of the bulbs in the bigger terracotta pots ... not sure whether to or not, so will see how I feel.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Me On Monday

Me on Monday is taking it easy ... again!

I planted the four plug plants on Sunday afternoon. My eyes weren't painful when I was actually doing the planting but I decided not to push my luck and left it at that - the rest are much bigger plants and, as Maggie said, will be okay in their existing pots for a while and I should be able to get a friend to help later in the week. By the evening, I'd changed my mind and went back out to deal with the other three plants ... it seemed to go well, no pain at all, so I thought I'd make a start on the bulbs but when I went back indoors, just to double check my planting plan, I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw that my right eye was bloodshot ... definitely time to stop! So, a bit of a mixed outcome as I'm relieved to be in the position where there's nothing waiting to be planted, but the bloodshot eye is a cause for concern.

Towards the end of last week I made the decision to sell the remainder of the decluttered items at auction ... I'm so ready for it all to be finished . I could sell things locally but don't feel completely as ease with people coming to the house so I keep putting it off. Another option is to use eBay, which I have done for a few things, but I suppose I'm looking for the easy option, so auction house it is. I need to photograph everything and email them for valuation before taking it all over. That's this week's little project, assuming my eye continues to improve.

It's choir tonight and our new song this week is Sing, the song Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I've been wanting to sing this since I first heard it back in 2012 so I may be looking forward to the practice much more than I usually do!

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • seeing P & L again, this time they called in on their way back home to Plymouth
  • lunch with J
  • making the decision to send some more things to auction 
  • Baby R, my new great nephew, responding well to intravenous antibiotics and being allowed home from hospital
  • chatting with Julie
  • treating myself to some non fiction books - Photography in Wiltshire, Italian language course books with CDs, Wiltshire Teashop Walks, Circadian Rhythms, and Beautiful Churches
  • watching, and thoroughly enjoying, the new series of 'All Creatures Great and Small'
  • hearing that the Zoom choir practices will continue - the majority of the members weren't happy about meeting in person just yet, so virtual sessions will continue, and ...
  • ... we will have a virtual Choir Christmas Party!

I am grateful ...
  • for the Royal Mail - I'd be completely lost without their services now that much of my purchasing is done online
  • for the NHS and the care given to Baby R

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): I started this mid week and have achieved the 4,000 steps every day so far 😁

Saturday, 12 September 2020


So, another no show from Danielle yesterday! I'm so disappointed (and furious, to be honest!) but have decided that enough is enough and it's time for us to part company. I've contacted another gardener who is coming to see me in a couple of weeks so it'll be a while before I have a replacement. 

This means I need to deal with the plants this weekend. The middle of the day is already set aside for a trip to the recycling yard, and L & P are calling in first thing on their way home, so that leaves this afternoon or tomorrow. As long as I can get the plants in the ground I'll be happy - the bulbs can wait for now. I didn't plan on doing this myself but now have no choice, so am hoping that it won't start off the eye pains again. Luckily, the bulk of the planting is the bulbs so there's only a few actual plants to deal with and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the arrangement with the new gardener will be up and running before the fruit trees, etc. arrive next month.

Baby R, the new addition to the family, came home from hospital yesterday so there's no chance of help from family as they will be fighting amongst themselves for cuddles with the him, and friends thought I had it all sorted so have made other arrangements. It's good news that the baby has recovered and is allowed home though.

Friday, 11 September 2020


If today goes smoothly, all the plants and some of the bulbs should be in the ground by the end of the afternoon. Danielle's Covid test was thankfully negative and she texted to say she will be here today. 

I've also received notification that a parcel will be delivered some time this morning, which I'm hoping is the Italian language course book I ordered. I'm not planning to go out so I'll be able to get on with learning the intricacies of Italian grammar if it is.

This will be my third consecutive day of walking around the house and garden. I've settled on achieving a minimum of 4,000 steps a day for starters, which seems to give a good balance between actually being more active and managing the joint pain. The 4,000 steps are just the ones where I consciously make the effort to walk rather than the steps taken as part of my normal movement around the house. The short term aim is to increase this to 10,000 total steps every day. At present, the 4,000 steps are achieved through several short bursts of activity but by the time I get to realising the 10,000 steps I want to be including a 30 minutes walk every day. I know this is achievable because I have done it before. As with the walking up and down stairs, which is getting easier, there's no time limit in which to achieve this - I'll just be guided by how I feel.

Thursday, 10 September 2020


Yesterday was not a particularly good day. I had a call from Danielle saying she wasn't able to come as promised because she was waiting on the results of a Covid test. It's a valid reason and I do understand, but ... I'm still in the situation where I have plants waiting to be planted and now have to wait for her next visit in two weeks, always assuming the results are negative and she will be able to come. I'm trying to be understanding, and I know that I don't really sound it, but if she had turned up last week as arranged, everything would be planted and this wouldn't be an issue. My neighbour was expecting her last week as well so she is as fed up as me! Anyway, I don't want to wait any longer to get the plants in the ground so will look for some help from friends or see if another gardener can help me out  

I waited in all morning for the parcel, which turned out to be some bulbs I hadn't ordered. I phoned to query why they'd been sent and was told they'd agreed the substitution with my husband?! I pointed out that I lived alone so they couldn't have spoken to 'my husband' and am not married anyway, and that I didn't have any outstanding orders with them, which completely confused them and I ended up holding on for ages while they investigated. The outcome is that it's their error and I can keep the bulbs for free, so more crocus bulbs to fit in somewhere - they're blue, which doesn't really fit in with my colour scheme so may try them in pots to see whether I like them or not.

Then, and the thing that really finished me off, was when I checked my Fitbit to see how many steps I'd done during the morning only to find it had reset itself and wasn't showing anywhere near the full amount - it should have recorded over 4,000 steps but was only showing 95! I may have used the sort of language my mum wouldn't have approved of!

Today will be better I hope. The supermarket delivery is due between 8 am and 9 am and that's all I have arranged for today. It'll be a quiet day, probably some reading and/or listening to music.

It's my auntie's funeral later this morning but restrictions on numbers means that there isn't room for myself or my siblings so it will just be her immediate family in attendance. My cousin has said that, Covid situation permitting, they hope to be able to arrange a big family gathering next year on what would have been her 100th birthday so that we can all be together to remember her then.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020


I had a lovely day yesterday. Lunch with J is always good fun and we both felt relaxed about the distancing arrangements in the pub. I'm glad I went but at the same time it isn't something I plan to do too often while the risk of infection remains  - going out for a meal I mean, I will see J but we'll most likely go for a walk and either take our own refreshments or purchase take out coffees.

I now have the clothes sorted for Baby R so have to find out when I can visit. I'm not sure if they are even home from hospital yet so am not expecting it to be this week, although I may do a distanced doorstep delivery of the parcel and return for cuddles at a later date.

Today will be spent at home. I'm expecting a parcel this morning so need to wait in for that, and Danielle should be here this afternoon so this should be the day all the plants are dealt with. Fingers are definitely crossed that she's here as promised and, if all goes according to plan, there'll be a garden update post tomorrow.

Today is also the day I resume exercising. I've rested up my knee and now need to get back in the habit of walking regularly. It'll have to be walking around indoors today but steps are steps wherever I do them so I have no excuses to delay restarting!

Tuesday, 8 September 2020


I didn't get to Sainsburys to buy the baby clothes yesterday. I did try but the cars were queuing back out of the car park so I abandoned the idea. It does mean that I should try again today. I'm meeting J for lunch so will park at hers when we get back and walk to the store from there. I was going to buy some bits and pieces to top up until the next supermarket delivery but now don't need to as I placed an order to be delivered first thing on Thursday morning - it seems that Tesco's online service is back to normal and it's now much easier to book a delivery slot.

I managed to resolve the problems with the family tree database yesterday. I don't have any idea what caused the duplication of records but it didn't take too long to resolve it. I also sorted out some stuff from the garage to sell and placed the ads. I haven't finished the garage yet but I've ordered some more shelving, so I'm waiting for that to be delivered and assembled before I do any more sorting of garage type things. Once the new shelving is in place it won't take too long to finish rearranging the rest of the garage.

My attempt to learn the Italian language is progressing nicely. I've managed to devote time every day to it and am starting to feel confident about some of it, although I honestly cannot see how useful some of the phrases will be ... things like "my turtle doesn't like butter", and "the lion doesn't eat the penguin"! I need a lot more opportunities to speak the language, so will start investigating possibilities for that at some stage. 

It's going to be a fairly quiet day today. I'm meeting J for lunch, followed by a quick dash to Sainsburys, and this evening have booked a place on an online macro photography short talk, but that's about it. I did debate whether to stay at home today following yesterday's announcement that one of the local senior school has sent pupils home because one pupil and some of the staff have tested positive for coronavirus. The entire year 9 and some staff have to isolate for the next fourteen days but the rest of the year groups are still attending school. Thankfully this isn't the school that Miss C goes to. Anyway I have decided to stick to my plan and will meet with J as agreed unless she'd prefer to cancel for now.

I think it's the second episode of the new and updated series of All Creatures Great and Small tonight. I watched the first one just to see what it was like - I loved the original series and this one looks like it'll be just as good, so I will carry on watching the rest. It's also made me want to read the books again but I don't know where my copies are. That sort of gentle paced humour is perfect viewing for these strange times.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is ...

... shopping for baby boy clothes, probably in Sainsburys. I won't go until early afternoon when I'm hoping it will be quieter.

... printing the new music for choir ('Happy' by Pharrell Williams), ready for practice tonight.

... walking along the canal for some fresh air and exercise before I get started on the chores.

... continuing to sort out the garage. I've tidied the garden end and have ordered some more shelving. If I've measured correctly, the new shelving should be big enough to hold the boxes of Christmas decorations currently stored in the cupboard under the stairs, although I'm still undecided on whether the garage is a suitable place to store the decorations. Does anyone else store their decorations in their garage?

... family tree-ing to sort out the part of the database that corrupted when I added the details of the latest addition to the family - everyone in his generation and his parents' generation now have duplicate entries!

I'm looking forward to resuming my normal routine with the addition of a shopping trip today, lunch with J tomorrow, and a solo trip out later in the week. I hope you all enjoy a lovely week as well.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...
  • spending time with friends; a trip to the garden centre with L, a Zoom meet with old college friends, and time spent with P & L
  • going into a shop for the first time since March
  • staycation fun; getting out of the house doing quite ordinary things really but, after such a long time staying at home, I have enjoyed myself enormously
  • welcoming a baby boy to the family, my newest great nephew 💙
  • finding some new pots at the local garden centre - only £5.99 for a very large terracotta pot (admittedly incorrectly priced) which is the perfect size for a spring bulb display
  • attempting a beginner's Italian conversation class and actually being able to follow some bits of the conversation
  • discovering the Churches Conservation Trust  (CCT) online lectures, and ...
  • ... becoming a member of the CCT
  • finally managing to book a slot at the local recycling yard!

I am grateful ...
  • for a gentle reminder that life goes on, with the death of my auntie and the birth of my great nephew, all in the space of eight days
  • for prescription meds
  • the ongoing support of friends and family
  • electric fires on chilly evenings!

Lifestyle Changes
  • Weight: I've decided that I won't rush to replace the scales or fret about my weight for the time being. I will continue to calorie count so should continue to lose weight, but for now, I want to go by how I feel, not by the number on the scales.
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (25 minutes every other day): no specific exercises but I have been much more active every day.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

The End of the Staycation

I've decided to cut short my staycation but first of all I'm bursting to tell you some brilliant news ... I have another great nephew, born early yesterday morniing to my nephew, M, and his wife, R. He's their first child and weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs 15 ozs! I don't know when I'll get to meet him as mum and baby are staying in hospital for a couple of days of observation. 

So, back to my staycation. I decided that yesterday was the last day, not because I haven't enjoyed myself but the time feels right to resume my new normal/very similar to lockdown everyday life with tweaks here and there to accommodate the aspects of life that are starting to open up and that I feel comfortable about doing. I originally chose to treat the start of September as a holiday as I could feel myself anticipating the start of the school year and of course, now I'm retired, that's no longer a feature of my life. The reality is that I'm not missing the return to school and private teaching at all. Whether that's down to an acceptance that it just can't happen this year, I don't know, but it is what it is and I now need to look forward where the reality is that every day can be a holiday if I want it to be!

The staycation has moved me forward, no doubt about that. From not venturing out at all, in the space of a week I have met face to face with friends, eaten out, visited garden centres and been shopping. It's all been done with sensible adherence to social distancing, liberal use of hand sanitiser and A level mask wearing and I've found that with each thing I've done, the less anxious I've been. It's still not 'easy' but is getting easier the more I do and I don't want to lose this momentum. It helps that I live in an area where the number of cases and the rate of infection has always been one of the lowest in the UK. I have no desire to be rushing here, there, and everywhere and for the majority of the time my everyday life will be so similar to lockdown I won't be able to tell the difference, but I can now add in some safe social interactions that will give me something to look forward to.

It's also that the time feels right to carry on with the remainder of the decluttering. I'm itching to get it finished, including the garage clearance (which I'm blaming Joy for!).

So to avoid any weekend crowds now the schools are back I will spend some time today sorting the garden end of the garage - deciding what stays, what goes, and just generally tidying up. There are a couple of other things at that end of the garage that I'd like to sell so will take the photos and place the adverts. 

The rest of the day is set aside for time with friends. P & L are breaking their journey to London and will call in to spend some time with me. It will have to be indoors as L is now permanently on oxygen so this will also allow time for her to rest on the sofa and recharge her batteries for the remainder of their journey. 

Friday, 4 September 2020

Staycation Day 5

I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday. Rain stopped me playing outside but I have a long list of rainy day ideas ... this is England after all! ... so I had plenty of options to choose from.

I sorted out a few admin things first so now have a few social things in the diary. I heard from Danielle and the no show was apparently down to a diary mix up so she'll be here next Wednesday instead. I'm not too happy about it but there's nothing I can do to change it, so will let it go this time. 

Anyway, after admin duties I went off on a virtual trip to Italy for my first online Italian conversation. It was hard! When people speak Italian too quickly I struggle to hear one of the key words in a phrase and don't yet know the grammar well enough to compensate. I didn't speak that much but thankfully didn't make a complete fool of myself when I introduced myself in Italian or when it was my turn to order a virtual coffee. Hard as it was, I really enjoyed the challenge and will take part if another session is organised.

After lunch it was time for a virtual lecture on the historical graffiti in Winchester Cathedral. This is a subject I've recently been reading quite a lot about so this was perfect timing as far as I'm concerned. The lecture, delivered by Dr Cindy Wood of Winchester University, was organised by the Churches Conservation Trust and at the end of the video they gave details of how to become involved in documenting the graffiti in churches. I'm not rushing in to any commitment but will phone the Trust next week to see if there is any scope for volunteering in this area and if so, exactly what it involves.

I then tried to get started on my joyful jar but wasn't making any progress so abandoned it and settled down to read instead. I wasn't really in the right mood for anything crafty!

Most of the evening was taken up with a Zoom link up with friends. E had organised a quiz, which was fun ( but too many sports questions for some of us!), and P and L showed us the photos of their trip to Iceland back in March. All in all, it was a lovely day.

Today, it's supposed to rain later but I will attempt a trip out to look around a local church. Yesterday's lecture has piqued my interest so I'm going on a graffiti hunt. I know there is some in Edington Priory so that's where I'll start, assuming it's open to visitors rather than just for quiet prayer. 

Apart from that, I fancy a musical night but haven't decided what form that will take yet. I have a couple of DVDs, or the choices on Netflix and YouTube so will decide later on.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Staycation Day 4

It was just as well I didn't have any big plans for yesterday as I woke with yet another migraine! The meds worked in part so I just had low level pain all day and couldn't keep food down! I'm putting this one down to delayed stress from going out or maybe something in the meal that didn't agree with me.

I did wander over to the marina in the morning but the police were only letting residents in and out, so I tottered back home. I've no idea what that was all about as by the time I sorted myself out and collected my car, the access to the marina was open again. I stuck with plan B and went to The Nursery, the local garden centre ... just to look of course, and also collect the compost Danielle asked me to get. So my 'just a look' ended up as buying all the compost plus a huge terracotta pot and four massive hexagonal plastic pots, all incorrectly priced according to the man on the till but a complete bargain for me! Two more shrubs may have accidentally fallen in my trolley as well! 

The Nursery is reopening their café next week so I will be able to add that back in as a stopping place on an exercise walk - it's about 15 minutes to the garage to buy the Telegraph for the crossword, then another 10-15 minutes to the garden centre. I can sit and do the crossword while I enjoy a mug of coffee, and then wander back home. 

Danielle was due yesterday afternoon but was a no show so none of the new plants have been dealt with. She hasn't responded to my text yet so I don't know the reason but it's a bit odd as the change from Tuesday to Wednesday was at her request. I'm hoping that it's a genuine one-off mix up rather than that she's going to start being unreliable. My first task this morning is to phone her and find out what happened and when she's planning to be here to make up for yesterday.

Today we've been promised rain all morning so I will do one of my rainy day things, which is to start making myself a 'joyful jar'. I'll show you when it's finished!

This afternoon I've signed up to watch an online tour of Winchester Cathedral which features all the Medieval graffiti. I'll take notes as Winchester is an easy drive from here so I'll arrange a trip to see it all for real.

Tonight there's a Zoom meet with friends. We all live too far apart to meet regularly so I think the Zoom meets are something that will continue in the future - something good to come out of the lockdown.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Staycation Day 3

The car park was almost full when we reached the garden centre yesterday but it's a huge place, so we decided to go in and see what it was like. L has been out and about more than me since the lockdown so she was more at ease than me, but once we passed through the main entrance we were pretty much on our own. I don't know where all the other people were but they weren't shopping for bulbs!

The selection of pots was disappointing so I didn't buy any and will probably look online instead. I did get a good selection of bulbs - daffs, tulips, alliums, and summer snowflakes, so they're all ready and waiting on Danielle's visit.

We had lunch there as well. There was a good space left between all the tables and it was waitress service only so we both felt comfortable with the arrangements. I had their chicken curry ...

... which looked good but wasn't really spicy enough for me. 

It was so good to talk with L face to face. We stayed for just over three hours, so had plenty of time to catch up on all our news and to suggest ideas for future meets.

one of the signs in the restaurant!
I bought an orchid for the living room. Most of the ones they had on sale were either too tall or the wrong colour, so I narrowed it down to this one - blogger has changed the colour so the pale pink on the back of the petals and buds has almost disappeared in the photo. I doubt it'll last long - I never have much luck with orchids!

There's a possibility that the choir may be able to resume weekly practices. The studies undertaken to monitor the dangers of singing in transferring the virus have confirmed that it's the same level of risk as talking so, with adequate precautions in place, we could meet together again. I don't know the timescales and assume the government will have to give permission for choirs to reform, but we have been asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the level of interest. I'm excited about the prospect but at the same time don't have enough specific information to make a decision on whether I will return immediately.

On to today and there's no special trips as it's gardening day. Danielle will be here later to plant everything that's turned up so far and to make a start on the bulb planting - some in pots and some in the flower beds. We changed her day from Tuesday to Wednesday and I didn't make a note of the time so will text her later to save me waiting in all day. It's due to rain but I want to walk over to the marina at some stage today. I'm also hoping to get to Home Bargains to buy a few odds and ends - if I get there, it'll be my first time in store shopping since March ... I'm feeling brave!