Monday, 30 November 2020

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is hoping to make a start on clearing all the bitty tasks on the to-do list as well as sort out my 'tools' photos, finish off a couple of admin jobs, and drop some things round to family.

We're promised some rain at midday so I'll do the outdoor things first and, depending on how long they take, will hopefully fit in a walk along the towpath as well. If not, it'll be a session on the exercise bike.

Then elevenses, followed by admin duties - one horrible bit to do with pension and tax, but the rest is easy enough. I have a diary reminder to contact the auction house and reclamation yard as they should be resuming work this week, some filing, and an insurance renewal to deal with. I also need to print the new music for tonight's choir practice and edit my 'tools' photos.

The afternoon is set aside for a few more decluttering related tasks. I'm slowly working through the music room, setting aside all of the music books I no longer want, i.e. the ones I used for teaching. I've done this before but wasn't as ruthless as I needed to be, so this time I'm making more sensible decisions. I will pass them to Oxfam (charity shop) when I've completed the sorting as their local shop will pass donations on to their specialist music centres. Unfortunately the local shop is still closed but at least I will be ready when they reopen. I cleared out a load of clothes yesterday, all too big now, so am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a kerbside charity collection before Christmas. For now, they're piled up on the spare bed which isn't really a problem as I won't be having visitors any time soon, but I would like them out of the way so will bag them up in readiness.

The majority of the evening will be taken up with choir practice, which I'm really looking forward to as we are repeating some of our favourites from last Christmas. Then, it's bubble bath time and reading in bed to finish off what I'm hoping will be a productive day.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with friends and neighbours
  • celebrating my birthday!
  • watching Emilia online
  • a regular delivery of eggs from one of the local farms
  • trying new things and changing the day round has lightened my mood
  • a walk around the marina in the dark, enjoying the reflections in the water
  • winning the choir quiz
  • misty mornings 

I am grateful ...
  • for the extra effort people put in to making my lockdown birthday special
  • for a warm and tidy house
  • that family and friends continue to be virus free
  • the continued community support and the various initiatives in place to establish community events when it is safe to meet in person again
  • YouTube videos providing idiot proof crochet instructions that even a complete beginner can follow

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise: I am doing a mixture of C2F, exercise bike, line dancing, and walking. The aim is to be doing a form of exercise for at least 30 minutes every day ... it's a work in progress but the routine of daily exercise is becoming a habit. 
  • End of Day Routines: I've managed to re-establish the end of day routines so the aim is to continue with this until the end of the year, with some flexibility over Christmas, and then decide what the new focus will be in January.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Saturday

I won the choir quiz last night! It was the Christmas one and included Harry Potter, song lyrics and Christmas TV questions, so a good way to end this current run of quizzes. There's no more now so I'll look for an alternative on Friday nights.

I'm busy using up stuff from the garage freezer that's been in there for ages, so I'll be making some more soups, savoury mince, and a couple of different chicken curries, all to divide into portions for this coming week's meals. Once that's done I want to check the meal plan for December and amend the next supermarket delivery accordingly. That's due on December 1st, so today will be a good time to move things round in the freezers, and also wipe out the fridge ready for the fresh produce I'm expecting as part of that delivery. 

I've received some Christmas cards already so it must be time to get mine written, although I won't post them until next week. It's something I can do at the dining table while the pots are bubbling away on the hob. I'm not sending as many cards as I usually do as quite a few friends and family have asked to move to e-cards instead so I'll respect their wishes, and will probably also send e-cards to all the overseas addresses as the post is not as reliable this year. It's not really my favourite task but a mug of hot chocolate, some ginger biscuits, and Christmas music playing in the background will soon get me in the mood. I also have two family birthdays and three friend's birthdays in December, so will get their cards ready at the same time. 

As for the rest of the day ... I'll choose a new book from the bookcase, snuggle up on the sofa, and lose myself in another world.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Friday

Many thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. I had a lovely birthday, if slightly different because of  the lockdown restrictions. Family and friends made that extra effort and took turns to visit throughout the day - it was very much a day of freezing cold conversations outside and the cherry on the cake was getting to see Baby R in the morning and Baby P at lunchtime. No cuddles, and both babes stayed in the warmth of their cars, but it was still wonderful to see them. Time spent indoors to thaw out was taken up with phone calls with my sister, and messaging with family and friends who were working. I delayed watching Emilia, the online screening I'd bought a ticket for, until the evening and treated myself to an Indian takeaway so the evening was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Today, normal life has kicked in and I have to book the car in for its MOT and have a couple of emails that need to be dealt with so will get those done first thing. Household chores are bathrooms and laundry which won't take too long, and then I'm hoping to go out for a drive round.

It's the choir quiz tonight. M said it will be the last one in this particular lockdown but now that we know that Wiltshire will be subject to Tier 2 restrictions when the lockdown ends next week I'm sort of hoping she will change her mind and continue up to Christmas. Afterwards I'll watch the new Richard Osman's 'House of Games Night' on BBC1 and then the Shows Must Go On 'An American in Paris'. It should be a good night!

Thursday, 26 November 2020

A Special Thursday

My only plan for today is to speak to my twin, and to have fun. It's our birthday!

Back to normal tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt

It's that time again. The Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt will run from December 1st 2020 to 31st March 2021; all photos must be your own work and must be taken between those dates, please.

There is a list of 20 prompts to find photos for, but up to three of these can be substituted using the alternative prompts at the end of the list if necessary. I've tried to think of prompts that can be found both indoors and outdoors, depending on local Covid restrictions but will add additional alternatives if it proves necessary.

Everyone is welcome to join in and remember, the most important part of the hunt is to have fun!

  1. A set of three
  2. Round and round
  3. Peek inside
  4. Glass
  5. A treasured item
  6. Horizontal
  7. An opening
  8. A sign of the times
  9. Weather conditions
  10. Work in progress
  11. Measures
  12. In the distance
  13. Something beginning with C
  14. One of many
  15. Something with legs
  16. A face
  17. Comfort food
  18. Something you do every day
  19. Something yellow
  20. Marking time

Alt A. In pieces

Alt B. Textured

Alt C. Black and white

The first link up will be in the first week of January. Does anyone want to start today? Go on then, and good luck 😀

Wednesday

I wasn't expecting it to be so cold yesterday so it was a bit of a shock to the system when I went outside first thing. 10°C was lowest temperature I recorded and it didn't really warm up during the day ... we're promised 11°C today! Guess who's staying inside in the warm?

I started the blanket but haven't got much done yet so I'll save the photos for when there is more for you to see. I also tried out the Couch to Fitness(C2F), which I liked and think I may have hit on a form of exercise that suits me. It's a rest day in the C2F schedule today so I will either do some line dancing or spend some time on the exercise bike for my daily session.

Today I'm getting the playing cards out and will teach myself a new-to-me Patience card game. I used to play various Patience games on most days but have got out of the habit so will hunt out my book of games and get started again. Using actual cards also means less screen time, which can only be a good thing! 

Other plans include a video call with J, making lentil soup for lunch, some reading, and the usual Italian practice. I have ticket to watch Emilia so that's a possibility for tonight's viewing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tuesday 4 - Flowers

I've seen this link on several blogs so thought I'd have a go. It's time to answer the weekly questions set by Annie at Tuesday 4. This week the theme is 'flowers'.  

1. Do you have a favourite flower? That's quite a hard question to answer and I don't know if I can only pick one. Top of my list would be cosmos, poppies, sweet peas and roses. If I really have to choose only one it would be the cosmos. Or maybe the sweet peas!

2. Do you know your birth flower? I didn't know so had to look it up, and apparently the birth flower for November is chrysanthemums.  These have lots of meanings based on the colour (red is for love, white is for purity, etc.) but the general meaning is that they represent friendship, honesty and happiness.

3. Is there a plant that you love having in the house or garden? I only have one successful plant in the house and that's a peace lily, a plant I've always had in every home I've owned. The current one was a thank you gift from my friend's daughters five years ago and it's getting too big for it's current pot. I need to find out if it is possible to split it into two plants. I keep attempting to look after orchids but I'm not too successful with them. I bought one a few weeks ago but it's not doing very well at all.  

4. If you could plant a dream garden what would you place in it? A dream garden would be large enough to plant a huge selection of peonies.

Many thanks to Annie for organising this.

Tuesday

Well, yesterday was a bit of an odd day. I did the essentials, i.e. chores, Post Office, and admin first thing and then completed my Italian practice for the day. I stopped when it was time for elevenses and settled down to choose a different pattern for the blanket I want to crochet. I was going to do Attic 24's ripple blanket but, because I'm doing all one colour decided I wanted something else and opted for this one instead. I started working a sample swatch to see if I liked the pattern and, more importantly, whether I could do it but that's as far as I got because I started feeling really queasy and ended up going back to bed for the afternoon. I have no idea what it was but I felt better by the evening and 'went' to choir practice.

Today I feel fine so will make a start on the blanket. My new activity for today is 'Couch to Fitness', a newly discovered freebie exercise schedule that seems just right for my current almost non existent levels of fitness.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Me on Monday

Me on Monday is looking to mix things up a bit, not just today but for the rest of the week at least. I enjoy all of the activities I choose to do to fill my days but at the same time, feel as though I'm in a bit of a rut. This isn't entirely a result of the lockdown, although that has obviously restricted my choices, but is a state I reach from time to time.

I'm not giving up the activities I like but will move a little out of my comfort zone this week and add in a new activity every day, or maybe spend time on an activity I know I enjoy but haven't done for a while. It doesn't have to be anything too radical or time consuming, just something that rings the changes and knocks the sameness of every day into touch.

I haven't come up with ideas for every day (yet!) but today's new thing will either be to have another go at the crocheted blanket I gave up on in the first lockdown because it was too hot to be working with wool, or to attempt some origami.

The forecast is promising a rain free week so I also have no excuses to avoid getting out in the fresh air every day. I have to go to the Post Office today without fail so that guarantees a success today!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • regular contact with family via phone calls and texts
  • receiving an exercise bike and a bag of books from my sister
  • video calls with friends
  • video call with Julie and seeing her granddaughter, Baby P
  • the family tree presentation was a huge success and they are all keen to see the next one
  • line dancing!
  • enjoying the choir practice and the quiz (even though I didn't win this time!)

I am grateful ...
  • for technology - I'd have been lost without it this week
  • access to historical records via the internet
  • warm woolly socks
  • umbrellas!

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): I haven't really walked much this week because of knee pain. I'm switching to the exercise bike for a while to see if that makes a difference.
  • End of Day Routines: it's early days but I am waking at roughly the same time every morning, just before the alarm goes off. Night time is improving in that I go up to bed at the same time every night and fall asleep easily but am waking too often during the night. I know this is a sign of the depression so am not stressing about it yet.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Saturday

The family tree presentation was a complete success. Everyone enjoyed the evening and we stayed online afterwards and just chatted. The next one is booked for an evening in January.

I'm having a complete break from it this weekend and am hoping for a quiet weekend at home, mostly just reading and listening to music. We're due rain all weekend so it's unlikely that I'll go out. I didn't have enough time for a walk when I went to see the doctor yesterday as I had to hang about for a blood test which I wasn't expecting. I waited in my car until I was called and, old habits die hard, luckily I had a book in the car so was able to pass the waiting time reading. When I was working as a peripatetic teacher I always kept a book in the car for those time I arrived too early or had a gap between schools.

I need to take some more photos for my monthly photo challenge so I will give that some thought but don't know whether I'll actually take the photos today. The theme is 'tools' and I took a few at the start of the month but am struggling to come up with ideas for the rest, so I do need to get my act together and get them done.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Friday

My BiL delivered the exercise bike yesterday which I was expecting, and also brought a big back of books which I wasn't expecting. So today do I exercise*, or do I opt for the much more enjoyable experience of looking through all the books and deciding which one to read first**? I don't have much time for either because I have a doctor's appointment followed by the opticians which will take up most of the morning.

I'd like to do a bit of shopping while I'm in town but it will depend on how busy it is. None of it is urgent, but would be nice to have if I can shop safely. The doctor's surgery is right next to the park so, if the rain stops, I'll take the opportunity to walk there for a change of scene. It looks like it's set in for the day though, so I may have to give it a miss. Never mind!

After lunch I have a video call with L marked in the diary so that takes care of the afternoon, and then it'll be time for the choir quiz, followed by the big event of the day ... the family tree presentation. I'm feeling rather excited about it as are quite a few of my family ... I've had several emails and messages thanking me for arranging the evening and for doing all the research. 

* no

** yes ☺️

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Thursday

The presentation is ready! I've sent the invites so all I can do now is sit back and wait for Friday evening. I decided to split it into two sessions, allowing time for a comfort break half way through.

I don't know what to do with myself now! I should do some housework but even as I'm typing those words I know that I won't! I will do another load of washing as that's easy, and I have some post that must be dealt with today, but once that's done there's nothing else on the list. 

So I think I'm looking at a cosy day of reading, maybe a film, the usual Italian practice, and I also have a jigsaw puzzle started so can spend some time on that.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Wednesday

Real life got in the way yesterday so I didn't finish the presentation and will need to work on it today. I just have to tidy up my crib notes and then it's ready.

My sister phoned me yesterday morning ... all morning(!), but I am now the proud owner of an exercise bike she no longer uses and which BiL will deliver later this week. I was debating whether to invest in a bicycle to cycle along the towpath, which is also part of the National Cycle Network, but this is probably a better option for now. When BiL brings it round it's going at the end of the dining room and later on will go up to the smallest bedroom - later on being when we can visit each other's homes again and someone can carry it upstairs for me.

Afterwards I made some lunch and had just sat down to eat when my phone rang. I made the mistake of answering it ... it was an employment agency needing a reference for the son of a friend and, as it was urgent, please could I do it straight away if they emailed the documents to me. A bit of a nuisance but I finished my lunch and dealt with the reference, so that's done and out of the way. 

I was just getting the family tree stuff out to carry on working through my to-do list when the phone rang again, this time it was my friend Julie. It was lovely to hear from her and to catch up with all the news but by the time we'd finished chatting it was 4pm and I hadn't done any work on the presentation at all. So I did what I could from then until choir practice at 7pm and just have the last bit to finish off this morning.

Today, the priorities are 1) don't answer the phone until no, 2 is completed, 2) complete the presentation, 3) practice screen sharing etc. during Zoom call with J this afternoon, and 4) relax. I started reading 'On Chapel Sands' by Laura Cumming last night and will carry on with that tonight. There's nothing I want to watch on TV so, as I did yesterday, I will switch of all screens and will read or maybe listen to music.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tuesday 4

I've seen this link on several blogs so thought I'd have a go. It's organised by Annie at Tuesday 4 who asks four questions every week. This week the questions are all about fun. 

Did you as a child or do you now like amusement parks, going out to places of entertainment? (theaters, themed parks, etc.). I've never really been that fond of amusement parks. My preferred place(s) for entertainment are theatres, or anywhere there is live music.

Which rides/parks did you enjoy the most or what snack foods do you enjoy when you are out and about? When I'm out and about I usually treat myself to an ice cream on warmer days, or a hot chocolate on colder days. I used to buy crisps as well but as I am trying to lose weight I am not eating snacks when I'm out. 

When you were a kid what activities/games/places brought you the most enjoyment? We lived on a big estate as children at a time when it was safe to play out in the street. All the children in the street played together and I have very fond memories of skipping ropes, marble games, French skipping, and best of all the adventures that only needed our imaginations.

Would you share with us a fun time or great trip that you've experienced? When I was nine years old my Dad had major surgery in Torquay and he lived with his sister in the town until his treatment was complete. This was 100 miles from home so we (me and my sister) were sent down to live with them as he was missing home and his family. I have so many memories of a magical summer, going to the beach every day after school, walks with Dad as he regained his strength, new friends, boating, crab fishing, exploring rock pools ... the list goes on. 

Tuesday

We're promised that today will be sunny with no sign of rain so if I complete the family tree presentation in time, I will go out for a walk or a drive. I just have to finish typing up my crib notes for each slide and then do a final check to make sure I haven't forgotten anything important. In my mind this won't take too long, but I have a feeling that it will take much longer than I am anticipating ... it usually does! Tomorrow, I am practicing the technical part of using Zoom with friend J, who has been using Zoom as part of her work so will be able to give me some tips. I've never hosted a meeting like this so I just want to go through sharing my screen, the actions to extend the meeting, muting everyone, and all that sort of stuff. If I've done it once I will be okay on Friday ... hopefully!

I can't put it off any longer as I'm running out of clean clothes so I need to do a couple of loads of washing today, and maybe a quick hoover round in the downstairs rooms. Nothing that's too demanding in terms of time, just a case of summoning up the will to do it! 

I've been spending a lot of time - too much time - in front of a screen lately so tonight I will switch off the laptop, Kindle, TV, and phone, and settle down to read a proper book.

Monday, 16 November 2020

The Family Tree

The weekend was busier than I'd planned, but in a good way. I have now ... somehow, but probably because we are all looking for things to do during lockdown ... got everyone to agree to the date and time for us to get together via Zoom for me to show them one branch of the family tree. It will be this week on Friday evening, starting at 7:30pm because I want to do the choir quiz beforehand ... I have my first place slot to defend!

I've shared some of my research with various family members before but never to this extent, or to this many people - at least 20 households made up of siblings and cousins and their numerous offspring. I'm telling the story of our maternal grandmother's family, starting back in 1495 and as well as detailing every generation I will set family history in the context of the big events of British history. There are some interesting tales to share ... a murder victim, a sheep stealer, a disastrous emigration, numerous criminal convictions, and several interesting military histories. I'll finish with my maternal grandparents as they are the last common ancestor for the family members who will be attending. Me, my siblings and cousins are related through the children of these grandparents but from then on, each family group has a different direct line of descent and it all got too confusing!

So, this week is all about getting ready for Friday evening. The presentation is complete in terms of the information and every screen (I'm using PowerPoint) has been formatted, so today I will add the instructions for the animation to determine how each snippet of information will appear on the screen. 

I'm really looking forward to this!

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • adding two more generations to the family tree, taking my research back to 1551
  • enjoying every single minute of the Monday choir practice
  • Zoom chat with J
  • lots of conversations and texting with family to arrange the date and time for me to show them the family tree via Zoom. There are a minimum of 17 households to bring together for this, so frustrating as it is to arrange the date, I've been talking to cousins I haven't spoken to in years. 
  • two more roses in the garden. They didn't survive the strong winds of last night but were pretty while they lasted. The cosmos is still flowering as well.
  • winning the choir quiz on Friday night
  • driving around the local villages. I was originally looking for somewhere to walk but the places I headed for, the white horse and the priory, were both busier than I was expecting. The change of scene was definitely worth the effort.
  • baking at home, something I haven't done since I lost Ced
  • a quick trip to town for some essential errands - my specs have been adjusted and are now comfortable to wear!
  • positive news from my sister, nephew, and friend advising that their respective house moves are, after so many upsets and problems, back on track and all will hopefully be settled in their new homes early in the new year.

I am grateful ...
  • for central heating
  • some dry spells instead of continuous rain
  • the ongoing support of the village community group, continuing to ensure that support is available to anyone who needs it
  • egg deliveries from a local farm!

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): achieved
  • End of Day Routines: getting there!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Saturday

My first task will be to catch up with blog comments. Actually it's my second task because breakfast comes first. No it's the third task, as the order of play is shower and dress (counts as one), breakfast, and then blog comments! 

I spent most of yesterday liaising with various family members, trying to organise the date and time to show the family tree. Finding a mutually agreeable date and time is a bit like trying to push treacle uphill but I'm getting there ... very slowly! I'm aiming for next Friday evening after my choir quiz so from now to then I need to focus on getting the presentation ready - all the facts are there and have been checked, so all I have to do is apply the animation to each snippet of information to build the slides. It's not difficult, just time consuming.

The choir quiz restarted last night and will continue each week during the lockdown period. I won last night, scoring 61 out of 73. The final round was the music round and, as before, it's my worst round; M plays the intros and we have to name the song. I recognise all of them but am notoriously bad at knowing the correct titles of songs so that's where I lost most of my marks. Never mind!

It's raining today and I have no wish to go out. I enjoyed my drive round yesterday and that will keep me happy for a few days, so I plan to sit back and do very little today. There are a couple of TV shows I'd like to watch on catch-up and then I will watch The Shows Must Go On offering for this week, 'West End Unplugged, Vol 1'.

Friday, 13 November 2020

Friday

First things first, thanks for the comments on yesterday's post. I couldn't actually say what I did with my time yesterday but didn't manage to fit in half of the things I wanted to do! Never mind, the important things got done ... I'm talking cheese scones here!

One of the parcels arrived late afternoon but there was no sign of the second one at all. I don't want another day waiting in for a delivery so will carry on with my plans. I need to go to the bank, get my specs adjusted at the opticians, and pick up some printer ink. I'll time my trip to town for after the lunch breaks but before the schools finish for the day as it will be quieter then, and before that I want to go for that drive I've been promising myself.

I have all the ingredients to make some thumbprint cookies and blueberry muffins, so today seems as good a day as any to make those. I haven't really bothered with much baking since I lost Ced but I do enjoy it and would like to add it back in my life. I find it to be quite therapeutic and have lots of happy childhood memories associated with all things baking related so it's a positive activity. I can always gift all the extras to family and friends!

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Thursday

We're promised a rain free day today so I hope to go out for a drive at some stage. The parcels didn't turn up yesterday so I need to wait in for those deliveries and then I'll go out, just to see something different. 

I had a long chat with friend J yesterday and I think she is feeling much the same as me, so not exactly depressed but lacking the energy to keep on top of the more mundane aspects of life like housework. Actually, it's just the housework and I felt strangely relieved that I'm not the only one feeling like this! We've agreed that, as the lockdown is only supposed to last for one month, it's acceptable to do the absolute minimum but after that month the rules change and a return to normal levels of housework is in order even if the lockdown is extended.

So that means today is set aside for fun activities. I've ground to a halt on the family tree for now. The next stage is to search in the Non-Conformists registers which, as only a few of the records that I need are visible online, will mean a trip to the Records Office in Taunton when it's safe to do so. I'll move on to completing the presentation and then show the research to the family when we can agree a date and time. 

The New Ways calendar prompt for today is 'Overcome a frustration by carrying out a new approach'. I'm not sure what I'll do on this one so will make myself a coffee and put my thinking cap on. As for the rest of the day, it'll be some reading, letter writing, Italian, and I fancy some cheese scones so I'll find time to make some.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Wednesday

I need to stay indoors today but we're promised rain so I probably wouldn't have ventured outside anyway. I'm expecting delivery of two parcels and have arranged a Zoom meeting with friend J ... we both feel the need to actually 'see' another person, even if it is virtually.

The parcels are bringing photography backdrops, so if they arrive early enough I will have a go at some still life photos - I want to use natural light so if not it'll be something to do tomorrow. 

I'll carry on with the family tree and see if I can make sense of whether the remaining names I've found fit into my family or not. The New Ways calendar prompt for today is "Be curious. Learn about a new topic or an inspiring idea" so my genealogy research fits the bill, and as I add the details to the presentation for the family, I am reading up on British history to provide some context to each generation I've found. 

It's Remembrance Day so I will stop just before 11am for the two minutes silence. I think everyone in the Close plans to stand on their doorsteps to observe this so I will do the same.  

And finally, leaving the best to last ... Happy Birthday to Bless. Sending happiness and positivity your way with wishes for a very lovely birthday.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Tuesday

Well some things got ticked off on yesterday's to-do list. I made some more soups and some chilli, and I cleaned the toilet ... but that's it. I made the mistake of checking the notifications on the family tree when I stopped for coffee and ... just never got started on the housework again!

However, I have now found some of the elusive records I've been searching for for absolutely ages and have now added two more generations to one branch of the family, taking my research back to 1551 with a list of approximately 30 names still to sort out. I am excusing myself from all chores while I sort this out!

You've probably guessed that my plan for today is to completely ignore the housework and carry on with the research, but I will take time out to use up the rest of the root vegetables and cobble together a stew to cook in the slow cooker. 

'The Shows Must Go On' Monday release was David Tennant in Richard II, which I've wanted to see since reading the reviews a few years ago, so that will be my Tuesday evening viewing. 

Monday, 9 November 2020

Me on Monday

It's been a quiet weekend, enjoyable, but quiet and my only communication with other people was a short chat with the delivery driver, blog comments, and a text conversation with Mary-Lou. 

I spent most of my time bulk cooking for the freezer. I had enough ingredients to make a start on Saturday morning as the food delivery wasn't due to arrive until late on Saturday afternoon, then carried on through most of Sunday. So far I have portions of chicken soup, lentil soup, lentil and vegetable soup, shepherds pie, dhal, chicken curry, and potato topped fish pie. I will probably make some more soups today ... it's definitely soup weather ... and also some chilli, bolognese sauce and something with chickpeas but I don't know what.

Today has to be a housework day so I'll make a start on the bathrooms, tackling the downstairs cloakroom first. This room has an under-sink cupboard where I keep the cleaning products and it's long overdue a good clear out. I'll do the family bathroom and ensuite tomorrow.

We had an email from M (who runs the choir) on Friday, saying that she's organised quizzes for the next three Friday nights. I really enjoyed the previous ones so am cheered up by this ... something in the diary to look forward to! Tonight we are starting on a new song, 'Let's take a sleigh ride', which I don't think I know. I don't recognise the title anyway, but haven't seen the sheet music for it yet.

The New Ways happiness calendar for today is 'Plan a new idea or activity you want to try this week'. I have the choice of paper cutting, crochet, or quilting but I haven't decided if my new activity will be one of these of whether I can think of something else. I didn't bother with the suggestion for yesterday which was 'Find out something new about someone you care about' but I didn't think it was that easy to achieve when face to face meeting opportunities are restricted and also, there's a bit of an assumption that the person will be forthcoming with information!

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • online ordering and reliable food deliveries
  • phone calls with friends
  • the fantastic news that the daughter of friend has given birth to her second child,  Baby S, a beautiful daughter and little sister to R (who, from the photos, is a very proud big brother)
  • playing the flute
  • starting to learn the Christmas songs at choir
  • discovering the Action for Happiness monthly calendar, thanks to Mary-Lou
  • laughing my way through my attempts at line dancing
  • starting a lockdown jigsaw puzzle
  • plans for Christmas are coming together. Two Advent calendars bought in readiness (Jacqui Lawson, and a Mindfulness one), pickles and chutneys in the cupboard, turkey crown ordered, goodies delivered and hidden away, cards written, and Zoom meetups arranged
  • foggy mornings 
  • the news that the weekly choir quiz is back for November at least

I am grateful ...
  • for the central heating!
  • the safe arrival of Baby S - mum and baby both doing well
  • for the recent spell of (mostly) dry days
  • that people in this part of the village seem to be taking the lockdown seriously
  • for postal deliveries of medication

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): it's been a bit hit and miss this week, partly because of the migraine. 
  • End of Day Routines: the morning routine is starting to work for me but the evening one is a struggle. I'm changing things round this week and will be going to bed later to see if that makes a difference. 

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Saturday

I don't know why, but there seemed to be a lot of people out and about yesterday so I only made it as far as the back garden for my walk in the fresh air. I'm glad I did as I was rewarded with the sight of one solitary beautiful rose bud, most likely the final one for this year.


I had a go at the line dancing. I loved it and had a great time but I'm not, nor will ever be, any good at it! I think it'll be a solo activity at home rather than joining a group when life returns to normal as I kept going the wrong way and I can see that causing a problem when other people are around. Honestly, I know my left from my right but it seemed to be extra difficult to think about that while trying to follow all the other instructions and keep in time with the music. I had a good laugh though and am pleased to find another possibility for exercise that doesn't feel at all like exercise! The knee strengthening exercises must be working - I was worried that the twisting motion on some of the steps would cause me problems but I didn't struggle at all with that aspect of it.

Today's New Ways is 'Be creative. Cook, draw, write, paint, make or inspire'. This one will be easy to achieve. The supermarket delivery is due this afternoon and I had already planned to cook up some soups once it's received - lentil & vegetable, and pea & ham. I also have some sketch books which I've been meaning to use for a daily attempt at zentangles, calligraphy practice, or sketching, so this may give me the kick I need to get started.

As for the rest of the day, I'll continue with the Italian course after breakfast and then I want to catch up on some TV programmes and the weekly Churches Conservation Trust lecture which I missed on Thursday.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Friday

Yesterday's New Ways calender task was to 'sign up to join a new course, activity or online community'. I can tick this one off as I downloaded the Action for Happiness app which seems to have an active community, and also signed up with Open Learn for their Beginners Italian  course. Although this isn't a new subject I've discovered this course at just the right time and I think a new style of teaching/learning will help me improve my grasp of the Italian language. It's notionally a four hour course, so not a huge commitment in terms of time and I hope to get some of it completed today. Today's task is 'Give yourself a boost. Try a new way of being physically active.' YouTube is my friend for this and I will be attempting beginner's line dancing!

I need to check the supermarket delivery as today is my last chance to make any amendments but that's the only must-do. I'd like to get out for a walk (assuming I'm still capable of walking after trying the line dancing!) and then it'll be more of the usual - reading, piano, TV, and family tree research. It should be a fun day!

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Thursday Part 2

I gave in and went back to bed and, a few hours of good sleep later, I am feeling so much better. Thank you for the kind comments on my earlier post.

I have been out for a (very) short walk, just long enough to clear my head ... up and down these pathways which are round the corner from my home. The mist is still hanging about but the sun is doing it's best to shine through.



I did feel chilled through after my walk but heated a bowl of homemade vegetable soup which has warmed me up. I won't do much at all today so am now curled up in the living room, snuggle blanket wrapped around me, and have settled down for an afternoon of reading, maybe some TV, and a catch up on social media.

I saw this on Facebook, posted by Mary-Lou, which grabbed my attention and which I think will be a good focus for a positive daily task through the lockdown. 


Today's task is supposed to be 'change your normal routine today and notice how you feel', but not a particularly positive starting task for me considering my normal routine has gone out of the window because of the migraine. I'm concentrating instead on yesterday's, which was 'sign up to join a new course, activity or online community'. I'll let you know how I get on tomorrow.

Thursday

Day One of the lockdown is going to be a bit of a damp squib as far as I'm concerned. I woke to the start of a migraine during the early hours so took a tablet which has worked it's magic, but has zapped all my energy. Today, I think it will be a case of doing very little except sleeping.

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with a bit more life in me!

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Wednesday

It's all change today. H, a friend, needs some help - her car is still in the garage so she has no way of collecting the sacks of coal she needs for heating and can't get a delivery for the next three weeks. We've arranged that her son will cycle to the depot and will load the sacks in my car and then will cycle home to unload. I won't need to get out of the car or do any lifting, so from my point of view it is a low risk activity and I can't bear the thought of them not having any heating. One bonus is that I'll get to chat with H who I haven't seen in person since last year. Another bonus is that the car gets a good run out. The last, and best, bonus is that it gets me out of doing any housework!

I'm hoping to do some more work on the family tree this afternoon. I have a few loose ends where research has ground to a halt for one reason or another so I want to start looking at those. The new software has the facility to generate a to-do list so I will start making use of that to keep track of where I am on everything. 

The rest of my day will be filled with Italian, some piano, TV, and a video call with friends. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Tuesday

My car was fixed yesterday - a new battery, so more expensive than I'd hoped but it's back and parked up on my drive all ready to go, so I can't complain.  I did get out to buy the postage stamps I need so that's all sorted and am ready for the lockdown to start on Thursday! 

I didn't get quite as much of the housework done as I'd hoped because I stopped part way through to print out the music I needed for last night's choir practice and ... I really don't know why I was surprised about this ... the printer didn't want to play nicely and a five minute job took nearly an hour to sort out. Anyway, I did get all of the downstairs windows, French doors, and mirrors cleaned, and I will do the same in the upstairs rooms today. I had intended to get the downstairs rooms finished before I thought about the upstairs but I decided that this way I'm more likely to get it all done. 

I made a start on my 'tools' photos for my November challenge. I hadn't intended to but I brought the sewing basket downstairs intending to replace the elastic in one of my skirts and ended up trying out some photo ideas with some of the things in the sewing basket instead. I still have to replace the elastic!

Today, apart from the window cleaning, G will be here later this morning to cut my hair and if she is planning to stop work during the lockdown I will ask her to cut it shorter than usual just in case the lockdown is extended. I know hair salons have to stop but I don't know the rules for the mobile hairdressers as the government website says that people should continue to work even if it means having to go to other people's homes. We'll see!

As for the rest of the day, I'll do some Italian practice as usual and will have a look around the house for some more subjects for 'tool' photos. The lockdown means that the auction houses will have to cease working so the items set aside for auction have to stay in the house for now. Most of it is in the music room and it's getting difficult to reach the piano and I want to rethink where I store it for the time being so that's a job for today, time permitting. Oh, and I need to cook up the remainder of the fresh veg so probably some portions of veggie curry and veggie soup, both for the freezer.

Monday, 2 November 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook

 FOR TODAY - MONDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2020


Outside my window ... It's cold but it has stopped raining!

I am thinking ... about the lockdown and trying to decide if there is anything I need to do before it starts on Thursday. I know I need to buy some postage stamps as there are birthdays during the lockdown period so I will wander round to the nearest Post Office later today ... that will be one less thing to worry about and I think that's probably all I need. My understanding is that nobody has been told to shield this time but that's pretty much what I intend to do, although I will take advantage of the permitted daily exercise outside of the home this time.

I am thankful ... that all my family and friends remain safe and well during these strange times. This is the same things I've written in the last two of these posts, but it is the most important thing and I'm genuinely thankful that the people I love have so far stayed safe.

In the kitchen ... I have planned all of November's meals and now need to start some of the bulk cooking for freezer meals - chilli, shepherds pie, and chicken casserole will be cooked today/tomorrow but the rest of the cooking will need to wait until the supermarket delivery on Saturday.

I am wearing ... comfy clothes, and as I am staying indoors, am not worrying too much what I look like. I do try to look human and presentable on the odd occasions I venture out into the world!

I am creating ... or trying to create, a rhythm to my days. It's easy to sit around doing as little as possible but that's not the way I want things to be, so I am attempting to be more disciplined about doing the household chores in the mornings before I settle down to do my fun activities. 

I am going ... to continue making the crocheted blanket. I bought the wool at the start of the first lockdown but it was just too hot to bother with and it was abandoned before I got very far. I should be okay with it this time as the days are much cooler so hopefully I will appreciate the warmth from working with the wool.

I am wondering ... whether the lockdown will be extended. It's supposed to end on December 2nd and doesn't start until this Thursday but already there are 'experts' suggesting it may have to be extended. I can't see how a month long lockdown will be enough to make a real difference so I'd wouldn't surprise me if the 'experts' are correct.

I am reading ... a selection of articles about life in England under the Stuarts.


I am watching ... 'Who Do You Think You Are'. I've enjoyed the latest series and I think it is the final episode tonight. I've also been watching 'Fake or Fortune' where they try to prove the authenticity of a piece of art. I like the mix of technology and detective work it involves. 

I am hoping ... that the local community initiatives continue when the virus is behind us. An online support group was created at the start of the first lockdown offering free support to anyone who needed it and that continued when the restrictions were eased, continuing to offer friendship and support. This led to the formation of a working committee to identify and start up regular activities, groups and clubs in the village hall for when it is safe to resume in person meetings. I have volunteered for that committee but it's on hold for now. I don't plan to run any of the groups but am interested in joining a couple if they do ever get started ... suggestions I'm interested in include a book group, coffee morning, photography club, Scrabble club and walking group.

I am looking forward to ... choir practice tonight when we start the Christmas repertoire. I'm missing the Christmas music this year, something I'd normally start at the beginning of October ... it just doesn't feel the same now I don't have to teach Jingle Bells to any beginners.

I am learning ... quite a lot about about our ancestors' beliefs and lifestyle, mostly through the Churches Conservation Trust lectures but also through reading related articles online. 

Around the house ...  it's time to clean through every room. The rooms look tidy enough as that was last week's effort and now I want to do a deep clean in each room, which I have started today. 

I am pondering ... on the list of prompts for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt. I have some ideas but am struggling to come up with a set of 20 prompts that could, if necessary, be found around the home for the people who are continuing to shield. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd really appreciate the help.

One of my favourite things ... closing the curtains against the dark night.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... 
  • Tuesday will be a visit from G to cut my hair. The timing couldn't be better with the lockdown looming.
  • Wednesday will be a phone call with J, after which I'll watch whichever Shakespeare play is being screened by The Shows Must Go On this week.
  • Thursday will be the lunch time lecture by The Churches Conservation Trust
  • Friday will be the musical offering from The Shows Must Go On, 
  • Saturday will be the food delivery from the supermarket, after which I will start making some soups.
  • Sunday will be some more bulk cooking 
A peek into my day ... today I went to the Post Office to stock up with stamps and made a start on cleaning through the house. I'm doing the downstairs rooms first and started with the windows today. T has collected my car ... it's probably just a flat battery but he's taken it back to the garage and will run the diagnostics just to be sure. It's choir practice tonight which I'm really looking forward to as we are starting on our Christmas music 😁😁

A quote for today ... "For once, stop and thank yourself for how far you've come. You've been trying to make changes in your life and all your efforts count.", Unknown

Monthly Photo Challenge | Animals

I'm sharing my photos for my September monthly challenge where the theme was 'animals'. These were all taken at the local animal park.


The challenge is to take photos on the set theme; the photos must be taken during the month (no archive photos), a minimum of five photos but no upper limit, and there will be a new theme every month. The theme for November is 'tools'. Have fun! 

You are quite welcome to join me in this challenge if you'd like to ... the more the merrier! 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Weekly Reflections

 Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • receiving a lovely gift from J and R as thanks for letting them store things in my garage prior to their relocation ... unexpected, but very much appreciated
  • planning Christmas - it won't be the same as previous years but I've taken positive action to give myself something to look forward to
  • chats with friends
  • planning a months worth of meals which, if I can stick to the plan, will provide the variety of meals that will help overcome the depression
  • removing a load of rubbish from the garage and charity donations from the house, making me feel 'lighter'
  • the choir end of term concert, singing through all the songs we'd worked on since the beginning of lockdown
  • receiving videos of my great nephew, Baby R ... he is absolutely adorable!

I am grateful ...
  • for the luxury of central heating now it's getting colder
  • for regular contact calls to check everything is okay 
  • for all the online entertainment that continues to be provided for free

Lifestyle Changes
  • Knee Strengthening (every day): achieved
  • Exercise (a minimum of 4,000 steps every day): achieved 
  • End of Day Routines: let's just say it's a work in progress!