Friday, 30 April 2021

Friday

It's the start of the weekend as far as I'm concerned. Joy will be round later to collect some more of her stuff and I have a couple of online classes, but that's all there is in the diary.

Today's online classes are Mindfulness and Nutrition Focus. I'm trying out the mindfulness one for the first time; it starts at 8am so I plan to listen to this before I get out of bed (it's a Zoom session but you don't have to activate your camera!). I usually read for a while before I get up but will try this today instead. The nutrition class is at 1pm and this week the focus is on pulses and legumes. Claudia comes up with some lovely recipes so I'll be interested to what she comes up with this time.

In yesterday's Indian cookery class Monica demonstrated how to cook tandoori chicken so, as I have all the ingredients and the chicken thighs have been defrosting overnight, I will have a go at making enough for tonight's meal with leftovers for tomorrow. It looked so appetising compared to any other tandoori meal I've had, mainly because it wasn't the bright red colour we are used to seeing in this country. 

I'm drawn out to the garden most days. It's the alliums' turn to shine next ...



The pot grown pieris seems to be happier since being replanted in the bed behind the garage and has produced new red growth ... 



And the dianthus 'memories' is adding interest in the narrow bed at the end of the garden ...
 


The rest of the day is set aside for pottering and doing whatever catches my interest. 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Review of Lifestyle Changes

Back in May 2019 I started keeping track of the various aspects of life I wanted to improve by adopting Bless' wheel of life approach, focusing initially on eight categories which evolved into the main goal and ten sub-goals listed below. Every aspect of life has inevitably been affected by the pandemic and the periods of lockdown but I have added my current ratings in red, based on how my life is as the UK attempts to slowly ease out of lockdown. I haven't reduced my ratings because of the pandemic and all the imposed restrictions on how we live, as I have still been living the only life I have to the best of my ability.  

I LIVE A FULFILLED LIFE [8.5]

  • I am financially secure and am completely debt free [10]
  • I take an active role in my local community, and have strong bonds with family and friends [9] - my community and ways of keeping in contact have changed but regular contact is happening.
  • My garden is always tidy and presentable [9] - There's always work to do in a garden but I have employed a gardener and the next few weeks will see the plans come together. 
  • I have a positive outlook on life and am benefiting by avoiding bouts of depression and keeping my emotional well being at a healthy level [9] - this will always require effort on my part and I'm addressing this.
  • I live life now, in the moment [9] - I'm getting better at this but it's easy to let it slip
  • My home is always clean and tidy [8] - I've definitely let things slip during lockdown but am gradually getting the house back in order. Plans for the future include employing a cleaner again!
  • I have removed my attachment to material things [8] - I'm nearly at the end of the huge decluttering task but still have work to do to stop valuing myself in terms of possessions
  • I eat sensibly and healthily and am benefiting by losing weight and experiencing increased energy levels [8] - I've made significant changes and things are slowly improving as a result.
  • I make best use of my time to lead a full and productive life [8] - procrastination is still a feature of my life but despite that, I am achieving the majority of the goals and tasks I set myself.
  • I lead an active life, benefiting from increased fitness and improvements in my general health [7] - hmm, this aspect of life needs attention!

So, there is still work to do in certain aspects of life to achieve the lifestyle I desire. I'm very aware that, despite good intentions and plenty of ideas, I have to keep addressing the same things over and over again without ever getting to a state where I have instilled the habits and routines that support and maintain the lifestyle I seek. 

Today, I listened in to Kath's Happiness Hub and one of the topics was the 'Four Bodies' - spiritual, physical, emotional and mental, so this relates to the person rather than the lifestyle (although you can't entirely separate one from the other!). These four bodies apply to everyone and need to be balanced with each other to achieve wellbeing. 


Image: SUM Society Uplifting Mothers page on Facebook

I won't give a detailed explanation of each one but you can read about it here if you are interested. Each 'body' has an equal importance so each one represents 25% of the whole to achieve the balance for true wellbeing. In the session we were given a brief description of each one:

  • spiritual: not necessarily established religions or belief in a God, but also consider the effects of being in nature or how you feel from a meaningful experience.
  • physical: addressing the needs of your body and how nutrition and movement contribute to your wellbeing
  • mental: keeping your mind active, looking for activities that stimulate your mind and challenge your intellect and your point of view
  • emotional: this is the social and emotional response to other people. It's about needing people, and connecting in a way that achieves a healthy balance between being alone and being with the right people, i.e. people that stimulate a positive emotion in you.

When Kath first introduced the subject my initial thought was that I have a good balance between the four but once we were asked to assess each one based on the questions she was asking us to consider, it very quickly became clear that my initial response was completely wrong and there is plenty of scope for improvements. We've been asked to look at a period of seven days that's representative of normal life and create a chart where all activities during our waking time over those seven days is accounted for on the chart. Once that's done we assign a colour to each 'body' and mark out the blocks of activity based on which 'body' the activity supports. Using colour means that we can see at a glance how balanced our lives actually are. I haven't done that exercise yet but will get round to it. 

I do know that there are things I need to address and I will work towards achieving a good balance. I'm already actively pursuing improvements in nutrition and attempting daily exercise (physical body) and have plenty of hobbies and interests that keep my mind active (mental body). Emotional and spiritual both need some attention and I will get round to that but don't want to make too many changes to my lifestyle all at once - there are some suggestions for how to improve the balance here. I am a work in progress!

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Wednesday

I didn't finish dealing with the gravel yesterday. I made a start but, even though I was moving a lot shovelling the gravel and lifting heavy (for me!) bags, I felt really chilled and could feel myself getting colder and colder. So, I left it for another day and retreated indoors. I didn't feel ill, just cold, so after a hot shower to warm me up I decided that it was as good a time as any to spring clean the spare bedroom. About 90 minutes later I'd knocked that into shape and spent the rest of the day curled up on the sofa under my snuggle blanket, reading, practising Italian, and doing a bit on the family tree.

Today, it's the Nutrition Club followed immediately by the Happiness Hub, both this morning, so it's an easy start to the day. It started raining just after 6pm yesterday and the forecast for today is more rain so if they've got that right I doubt I will be able to get outside to finish clearing the gravel. I'll make a start on spring cleaning another upstairs room instead because once that's done the upstairs of the house will be finished and I can then focus on the downstairs. 

I think it's the Sewing Bee tonight so I'll be watching that if it is. If not, then more reading, and some family tree research. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Garden Update 12

There's still some colour from the spring bulbs, mostly tulips but also a couple of daffodils to enjoy.



A quick look round outside and there's lots of promise for things to come. Both of the recently planted 'dianthus memories' are covered in buds with the first white blooms opening on each plant.


The two clematis plants have their first buds. The second photo is of the burgundy plant that was moved last week; it's developed some buds over the weekend so I'm hoping that means it's liking it's new position.


 

This is the hibiscus I planted last year. I though it hadn't survived the winter as there were absolutely no signs of life, so I'm delighted to see the new growth.


Indoors and still waiting to be planted out, but keen to start flowering, are the cosmos and osteospurmum.  



The trolley for storing the baby plants indoors arrived on Saturday - I think this is big enough for my needs but it was very reasonably priced and I can always buy another one if needed. It lives in front of the French doors where there's plenty of light but I had to move it to take the photo. I will look around for some trays to catch any drips from watering and there's enough room to spread the plants out a bit more, but this will do for now. As well as the cosmos and osteospurmum, there's also the sweet peas, angel's fishing rods, and bush tomatoes I bought, as well as tomatoes, runner beans and dwarf beans that Joy generously started off for me. 



I've ordered the next lot of bulbs and plants for the bed behind the garage. I still need to buy the roses but will get those from a local nursery and I'll do another update when it's all delivered!

Monday, 26 April 2021

This Week ...

I'm feeling motivated so intend to get on with some of the bigger tasks this week. We're forecast for rain on four days so those days are set aside for spring cleaning and the others will be spent in the garden.

Social: it's choir practice tonight but I can't remember what we're working on. It'll be fun though, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Zoom is better behaved than it was last time!

I'm also hoping to book a ticket to visit a local National Trust property, either Lacock Abbey or The Courts Garden. I'd also like to get one for next week for the Woodland Walk at the Bowood Estate ... L is interested in joining me on that one.

Online Classes and Talks

Monday: photography group, freebie genealogy/DNA lectures on Family Search

Wednesday: nutrition club, happiness hub

Thursday: Indian cooking 

Friday: nutrition focus 

Exercise:

I don't know that I'll have the time or the energy to go out for any walks but I will be more active than usual as I get on with completing the list of bigger tasks.

Home and Garden

Home: Spring cleaning in the spare bedroom starts this week. It won't take long but I doubt I'll do it all in one go because ... it's housework isn't it! I missed a call from the auction house so need to deal with that today and, if they are offering an appointment to take my stuff over to them, that will take priority.

Garden: I've decided that M (my gardener) is a bad influence as the best bit of my gardening tasks for this week and next is to purchase the plants I want for the flower bed behind the garage. I also want to order a bigger water butt to replace the existing one behind the garage as that one leaks and maybe think about getting an additional one for the part of the garden nearer the house. All the pots will be greedy for water during the warmer months so the more rainwater I can collect the better as my mains water supply is on a meter. Apart from that the biggie is bagging the gravel ready to be stored in the garage and I will start on that today.

Food: I'm trying to make better choices this week to start the scales moving in the right direction again. I think I need to get back to weighing ingredients and calorie counting to see if that improves things.

and finally, Hobbies:

Reading: I've just started on 'Started Early, Took My Dog' by Kate Atkinson

Italian: 15 - 20 minutes daily practice 

Piano: I'm back to the Harry Potter music ☺️

Photography: I don't have any photos I need to take so it'll be practicing whatever comes out of the online photography session, plus some more in the garden.

Family tree: I'm focusing on clearing the list of possible connections through DNA that Ancestry creates and will tune into a couple of the Family Search lectures on that subject to see if I can pick up any tips.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with family and friends 
  • spending a pleasant hour in the sunshine watching the kingfisher
  • enjoying sunny days 
  • enjoying the last of the summer snowflakes ... they never last long enough 
  • making progress on the family tree, and
  • applying for a research slot at the re-opened Wiltshire Records Office
  • booking a theatre ticket to see 'Six' in December - no idea whether I'll actually go as it depends on the situation at the time, but it's exciting nonetheless
  • buying some cosmos plants 😀 and planning the final lot of planting (for this year!)

I am grateful ...
  • for the opportunity to do a RAK by gifting all the unwanted books to a young woman who has recently been signed off work and who is climbing the walls through boredom 
  • that life presents so many opportunities to laugh out loud
  • for all the people in my life who readily share their advice and help me out

Lifestyle changes
  • exercise (30 minutes minimum every day): achieved 
  • weight: no change, at least it's not a gain! 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Garden Update 11

M was here for five hours yesterday and during that time finished off all the heavy digging, cleared most of the front garden, planted the blueberry bushes and moved some plants around. 


Next time she will deal with the spring bulbs. The daffodils are over for this year but for now, the tulips are still looking good. The burgundy clematis has been moved from the trellis on the back wall of the house and planted against the unused trellis (bottom right of the photo above) and the stones have been moved from the bottom of the garden to here to keep the roots cooler. The plan is to plant some thyme or something similar by the stones.

In the photo below you can see the flower bed behind the garage. This was where I'd agreed (with the previous gardener) to plant the columnar fruit trees and nut bush but M advised against it as it's too small a space for everything that was going to be planted. I cancelled the order, got my refund, but the trees arrived anyway so I gave them to my sister. 

This space is now set aside for pretty things! The pot doesn't belong there, and so far two pot grown plants have been replanted, the hydrangea and the pieris, so fingers are crossed that they don't sulk about being moved as they are both a bit temperamental, and the newly purchased camellia is planted on the right. We spent quite a bit of time deciding on the rest of the planting for this area and have settled on two climbing roses, nerines, cyclamen and some weed suppressing ground cover, possibly periwinkle. This means I will be visiting the garden centres again, but I'm not complaining about that!

The blue/yellow sack is filled with gravel, some of which is destined for the front garden and the rest will be bagged up for now. That's my job for next week. This is where I plan to sit and dream. The bench will move back against the garage wall as soon as there is enough space for the table and chairs to be stored in the garage - at the moment they are behind the bench.


There are lots of alliums and gladioli in the centre bed (above), and eventually the sweet peas will be winding themselves around the obelisk.

The photo below looks back to the house to show where the majority of the pots will be. This was taken just before lunchtime and from about 12:30pm this area is in full sun for the entire afternoon and early evening and this is where the veggies will be, all pot grown. The two pots in front of the trellis contain the blueberries, one has the usual blue fruit and the other one has pink fruit and there will also be two pot grown patio fruit trees. I decided against the mini greenhouse and am going with Joy's suggestion so I've ordered a tiered trolley and will keep the seedlings and tender plants indoors as advised.

The other pots will be moved around but before that happens the patio needs to be power washed. M will be tackling that as well as the grouting during May. 


The green waste is in the wheelie bin for a kerbside collection but there was a huge pile of clay soil to go (removed and replaced with decent topsoil in the flower beds), which M has taken and so saved me a trip to the skip. I also cleared some unwanted gardening items out of the garage and she has also taken those to gift to the Mencap home where she works so that's the garage decluttering started!

To finish, a couple of random photos ... tulips in the sun, and a water droplet in the centre of a lupin leaf.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Friday

Yesterday was nicely paced, filling my time with ordinary everyday things. Apart from the social distancing and mask wearing it was just like a normal pre-pandemic day and so, in that way, it was perfect.

The morning was taken up with errands. They were only supposed to take an hour at most but I was actually out of the house for three hours so my plan for a walk was put on hold! There was a short queue at the bank but I needed some pound coins to refill the egg money box so I had to wait ... why is it that every time I go into the bank I get stuck behind people paying in bags of coins or dealing with complicated transactions? Then it was off to Waterstones where I was hoping to buy a couple of jigsaw puzzles (ready for the winter months) with my Christmas tokens, one of which expires in July, but there wasn't anything of interest so I'll try again next month. 

As I was walking back to the car I bumped into friend H so of course we chatted (for ages) and during that chat she mentioned that the day before she'd bought some cosmos plants from the garden centre. Can you guess where I went next? I was lucky to get some - I bought the last three trays - and the assistant said they'd put their entire stock out late yesterday afternoon, it was all snapped up quickly, and they're not really expecting to get anymore as supplies of plants are problematic. While I was there I bought a couple of osteospermum as well, just because!

I also popped into the shop to buy some asparagus and some bread for the freezer, so now I should have enough in and won't need to shop for a couple, maybe three, weeks. I was tempted to buy some chocolate, which I did, but regretted it as soon as I'd paid for it so I took it straight round to my nephew's home for Misses C and H. He's still working from home so we had a long doorstep chat.

In the afternoon I pottered about in the garden, working out where the next lot of pots will go, sweeping the patio, watering (much later), and measuring up. I've (almost) decided that if I want to have annuals and veggies, which I do, I need to have somewhere to grow from seed to keep the costs down. I don't really have room in the house for baby plants so definitely need a different option. There is space on the patio against the wall of the house where I could place a mini greenhouse so I've been looking online to see what my options are. I will speak to M when she is here today but I'd also appreciate your opinions please. Okay, *idiot question alert* ... is this the sort of thing I need to be able to grow from seed until it's time to plant out once there is no longer a risk of frost? This is the one I prefer (but won't be paying that price) or would something like this be better? 

M will be here this morning and once we've talked about what I want her to do today, I have to sort out the birthday cards for May. I need to post two family ones today and the other three the following week, but those three all need letters enclosed so I must get on with it. I've been putting it off as two of those letters will be difficult to write because they are to friends who have recently lost family/friends to Covid. 

It's the Nutrition Focus this afternoon, but I can't remember what will be discussed this time, and that's all that's in the diary for today. Assuming I get the letters written I may go out but if not I'd like to continue with the family tree research - the Wiltshire Records Office has reopened so I'm making a list of all the things I want to check against original documents and will then attempt to book a place.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Thursday

I'm on a bit of a roll! Yesterday was another productive day and quite a few little tasks are now ticked off the list as well as the rather bigger unplanned reorganising effort. There's still tidying to do in three rooms but that can wait until I spring clean them ... no idea when that will be!

I tuned into the Life Coach session yesterday morning but I only stayed for about 10 minutes and won't bother with any future sessions run by this person. I've sent some feedback to explain why, and I did notice that the number of participants was much lower than last week so maybe others are feeling the same. The Nutrition Club was a chance for participants to say how they were getting on, ask for advice if needed, and say what other topics they'd like to be discussed in future sessions. There's always something to take away from this session - today was that cinnamon and turmeric are good for reducing blood sugar and that Moroccan recipes use a lot of these spices. Also that glucosamine helps with joint pain and a good natural source of glucosamine (which is very expensive to buy as a supplement) is bone broths and chicken stock.

It's the Indian cooking session today but it looks like it's a repeat of the very first session, which explained all the different spices and showed how to roast cumin and corriander seeds, so I will probably give it a miss for this week. It means that the whole day is free so I will run a few errands in town first thing and then see what I feel like doing. I want to get some more cash from the bank, buy some bread (which I stupidly forgot to get on Tuesday) and spend some of my Christmas tokens, so it's nothing that will take too long and all of these can wait if it is too busy and I start to get stressed. I'll go for a walk at some stage today but I don't think it'll be warm enough to want to take a picnic with me.

I've treated myself to a ticket to see Six at the Theatre Royal in Bath in December. As things stand at the moment I don't feel at all comfortable about going to the theatre, even with all their Covid safety arrangements, but December is many months away and the situation will hopefully have changed for the better by then. I decided that there are three possible outcomes - we'll either be back in lockdown which means my money will be refunded, or things will have improved so much that I will feel confident about going, or I will decide not to go and will give my ticket to someone else and accept the loss of the money. I'm hoping for the second possibility as I had a ticket to see this show in early 2020 but it was cancelled when we went into lockdown. It's too far ahead to worry about but I am excited to have the first proper 'normal' event in the diary to look forward to. 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Wednesday

Yesterday turned out to be a very productive day. ☺️

I was waiting in for a friend's parcel to be redelivered to my home so was just pottering about doing bits and bobs, and it evolved into a humongous tidying and organising session. Of course, by the time I'd had enough the whole house was looking a mess so I need to carry on today!

I suppose it's down to living entirely at home for the past year, during which time I've introduced new interests and continued with the old, added Zoom to my life, started projects and left them half finished ... you get the idea. Anyway, things have migrated to different parts of the house and, although I've kept it reasonably tidy, it's all getting on my nerves now. I started moving things back to the 'correct' rooms but then stopped to think through what I really wanted to achieve ... were things really in the 'wrong' room or not? I've decided it's a bit of both so, and I won't bore you with my convoluted thought process, I'm in the middle of re-organising. I should get it finished this afternoon. This morning it's the Life Coach and Nutrition Club sessions so I will make a start once they have finished.

I'm sure you want to know what I bought at the garden centre yesterday ... absolutely nothing! I want to wait for last year's planting to grow to see where there is space before adding to the flower beds. I was looking for a big planter to repot the euonymus but they didn't have anything big enough and there weren't any of the pebbles I want to finish off the edging either. 

I did get the groceries I needed so there's a veggie concoction bubbling away in the slow cooker and I'll make some hidden veg sauces later on.

Bradford on Avon was quieter than I was expecting so I passed a pleasant hour or so practicing the photography tips and watching the kingfisher. I didn't get any decent photos of it though, just colourful blurs in every image where it dived into the water every time I pressed the shutter. It's like it knew!

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Tuesday

I had a lovely time yesterday and am hoping that today will be just as good.

I sorted through the books and advertised all the unwanted ones (39 of them!) as free to collector on the local Facebook page ... they are being collected this morning, so that was easy! 

The photography class continued to focus on ways to developed your photographic eye and introduced the concept of the rule of thirds, something I'm familiar with but it's always good to be reminded to consider it at the time of taking the photo rather than when editing! He suggested going for a walk with our homemade viewfinders (a piece of card with a 9cms x 6cms hole in the centre) and looking for the images that produce an emotional response in you so I will hopefully be able to do that later today.

The happiness hub was interesting, providing breathing techniques to calm you and suggesting ways of controlling and reducing negative thoughts. I realised that it's also run on Wednesdays so next week I will change days as that will be more convenient.

Choir practice is always guaranteed to be fun and it was certainly that last night as there were problems with Zoom - it kept freezing, then slowing down or speeding up so rather a creative approach to keeping in time! Not the best night to be learning a new song but we all dug deep and called on our inner Take That to started working on Rule the World!

Today there is a delivery promised by noon and while I'm waiting for that I'll sort out the bits of admin so that'll be another thing ticked off the list. Once that's here I'm off out for my first walk of the week. I'd like to take some of the photos I need for my monthly challenge so will start off in Bradford on Avon to sort those out and then head to Clanger Wood to see if the bluebells are out yet. I suspect that it's still a bit early as I haven't seen any photos on the local Facebook page yet. On the way home I'll pass the Tesco Express shop that usually has a good selection of fresh produce so I'll be able to pick up the bits of shopping I need and then I can make a start on some batch cooking tomorrow. This store also happen to be next to the larger garden centre so it'd be rude not to go in, wouldn't it!

Monday, 19 April 2021

This Week ...

There's nothing out of the ordinary planned for this week but still plenty to look forward to and keep me occupied.

Social: it's choir practice tonight where we'll be looking at Is This The Way To Amarillo, Homeward Bound, and the new one for this week is Rule The World. 

I'm also hoping to meet either J or L for a walk but, as usual, that depends on their work commitments.


Online Classes and Talks

Monday: photography group, happiness hub

Wednesday: life coach, nutrition club

Thursday: life coach, Indian cooking 

Friday: nutrition focus 

The happiness hub is the one I missed last week and I'm hoping for good things from this after hearing some of the feedback.

I intend to watch the life coach sessions this week but, unless the sessions introduce some new-to-me suggestions/techniques, I think I will look for an alternative. So far the sessions have dealt with creating lists of our qualities, skills and talents as well as listing ideas for joyful activities, all of which are things I do regularly so are not new ideas to me. In the last session we dealt with the Wheel of Life and goal setting which Bless introduced me to and which I have done monthly since May 2019, so again it was just a repeat of an existing practice. I appreciate that it is early days, but for me the biggest issue is that the coach is quite disorganised in her approach so it takes more effort than it should to follow what she is saying. For example, she will start explaining something and then will notice a comment in the chat function so, mid sentence, will switch to answering a comment that is completely unrelated to the concept she was in the middle of explaining!


Exercise:

Walking: I'm fitting in a couple of photo walks this week, one to Caen Hill locks and one to Westbury White Horse.


Home and Garden

Home: I started sorting through the paperbacks yesterday. There are now too many to fit in the bookcase thanks in part to the generosity of my sister but mostly because the read and unread books have somehow got mixed together. That 'somehow' is me failing to concentrate properly last time I tidied the dining room! I'll advertise the unwanted novels on the local Facebook page as free to collector so they will hopefully be snapped up and out of the house very quickly. 

I'll also have a bit of an admin week as some of the end of Financial Year statements have arrived and need to be filed away. Plus, there's always some shredding to do!

Garden: M will be here again on Friday to continue with the weeding and preparation of the bed behind the garage. A couple of pot grown shrubs will be replanted there when she's ready but I won't buy any replacements for the pots until I know it's done. My only gardening tasks at present are watering duties and to sweep the patio.


Food I'm hoping to do some food shopping myself rather than relying on a delivery. I want to buy the supplies to get ahead with the bulk cooking for May's meals and also top up on fruit and vegetables. 


and finally, Hobbies:

Reading: I haven't started a new book since finishing Mill on the Floss but I'm sure I will find something I fancy as I'm sorting out the books

Italian: 15 - 20 minutes daily practice 

Piano: I'm working on a couple of studies. I don't know who wrote them.

Photography: I still have more photos to take for my monthly photo challenge and there is likely to be something to practice from the online photography session.

Family tree: I'm working on the next presentation to the family, trying to make this current lot of ancestors sound more interesting than they are!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with friends
  • getting my hair cut
  • finding some more online courses to try out
  • bumping into an old friend I haven't seen in years and chatting for ages
  • learning how to make onion bhajis!
  • continuing to enjoy the splashes of colour in the garden from the spring flowers 
  • finishing the spring cleaning in my playroom
  • having fun trying out the exercises from the online photography class
  • appreciating the extra space now the charity shop donations have left the house
  • watching the Great British Sewing Bee
  • having some productive days and that pleasing feeling of being tired but content with the day's activities

I am grateful ...
  • to S for his help dealing with the charity shop donations and collecting the bags of compost from the garden centre
  • for a week of better weather, still cold but thankfully mostly dry
  • that, at least locally, people seem to be taking a sensible and cautious approach to the easing of the lockdown arrangements

Lifestyle changes
  • exercise (30 minutes minimum every day): achieved 
  • weight: no change again  ... I need to rethink what I'm doing to kick-start the weight loss!

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Saturday

Yesterday didn't quite work out as I was expecting but it can still be counted as a very good day. After posting that I planned to go out somewhere I realised that the schools were still off and it was likely to be busy in the two places I had in mind to visit so I decided on a canal walk instead, aiming to walk in the opposite direction to the one I usually take. It wasn't as sunny as we'd been promised but it was dry, so ideal weather for a walk ... not that I got that far. I reached the corner to the Slipway, about five minutes from my front door, and bumped into R, a friend who moved away about ten years ago who was back in the area to visit her parents. We chatted for ages, catching up with all the news. She now lives on a narrowboat and regularly travels this way to see her parents so we will hopefully be seeing more of each other in the future and I have an open invitation to travel with her once it is safe to do so. Despite my good intentions I didn't make it as far as the canal! We talked for almost two hours - seemed like only thirty minutes! - so when we parted company it was time to go home again and get some lunch. It was so lovely to see her again, it made my day.

In the end I didn't need to go to the garden centre either as S, who collected the charity shop donations, offered to go for me so that I don't have to do any lifting. It's a really kind offer, which I agreed to, and he will deliver the bags of compost one day next week.  

On to today and I will watch the funeral of Prince Philip, but that's about all I've decided on so far. I think it's going to end up being a pottering sort of weekend, just pleasing myself and doing whatever I fancy.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Friday

I've decided to change things round this morning, so no spring cleaning or any of the usual household tasks. Instead I want to spend some time outside, enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine. I don't know where I'll head towards but I'm thinking an open space rather than urban. I'll take my camera, just in case, but really I just want to get out of the house and stretch my legs.

Whatever I settle on, I'll call into the garden centre on the way home to buy the ericacous compost ready for M's visit next week and, depending on the time, may have a quick look to see if there's anything else I fancy! 

I have to be back by 1pm as it's the Nutrition Focus on the digestive system and I'm hopeful that I may be able to pick up some tips to improve the severity/frequency of the diverticulitis symptoms. That's an hour long session which leaves plenty of time for Italian and piano practices, which I usually do in the morning, and then a bit of pottering in the garden before I sort out my evening meal and settle down for a Zoom meet up with P & L, E, and K. 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Thursday

I'm counting yesterday as a success. I completed the spring cleaning in the playroom, so that's the first room ticked off on The List, and made a start on gathering up all the stuff I'd previously earmarked for a charity shop donation. I also made a bit more progress on meal planning for next month, tidied the understairs cupboard, and finished off the washing.

On the fun side of things it was the Nutrition Club and I also joined the first Life Coach class. The nutrition was all about sugar - very interesting, but I stopped using sugar about three years ago so I didn't pick up any tips for changes to my current diet. With the Life Coach we completed a couple of exercises, both of which I need to finish off. Exercise 1 was to list all the qualities and skills I think I have, and exercise 2 was to create a list of 15 joyful activities that I can refer to/use to ensure that I make time for something I enjoy every day, and another list of 5 other treats so that I have something to look forward to. Exercise 1 was difficult and will take quite a bit of thought but I'm already tuned into the benefits of daily joyful activities and having things to look forward to (thanks to Bless and her daughter). However, I tend to stick to the same few activities so creating a list of 15 ideas is challenging but it will push me to possibly enhance my life - I think it'll be worth the effort. Oh, and of course, The Great British Sewing Bee started last night  so that's my Wednesday night viewing sorted for the next 10 weeks!

Today, I want to get the rest of the charity shop donations ready as S has offered to collect everything either tonight or tomorrow night and he will drop them off for me, which is a great help. Depending on how long that takes, I'll make a start on the spare bedroom if there's time. It's become a bit of a dumping place which won't take long to sort out but does need to be done. 

It's the second Life Coach session this morning and the weekly Indian cookery this afternoon. The life coach session is about setting goals which I do regularly so I'm a bit unsure whether to tune in for that. It's too early to say really, but from what was suggested as future topics, I'm not sure how much I will benefit from the sessions. I'll try it for a few more sessions and then decide. The Indian cooking on the other hand is definitely in the diary for every week!

Some time this afternoon I'll hopefully be catching up with J and later on with L, but in both cases it depends on their work commitments. If we do manage to have a chat, it'll be phone calls rather than Zoom. I also hope to spend some time sitting out on the patio but it'll need to be warmer than yesterday when it was sunny but still a bit chilly and I felt cold, so had to scurry back indoors!

The package didn't arrive!

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Wednesday

I've been notified that a parcel will be delivered between 7am and 7pm so it's another day at home. This one should be blueberry bushes, a Christmas gift from a dear friend, and that leaves only one more parcel to come this week which will be the replacement seals for the Kilner jars.

I re-inked the printer yesterday and it took ages! Refilling the ink tanks is a doddle but recharging the print heads was the time consuming bit and I wanted to cry from frustration at one stage! I also tidied one of the cupboards in the room and sorted out some more stuff that I no longer have a use for so that will either go to Misses C and H or to the charity shop. 

I did a couple of loads of washing yesterday and will do the rest today ... no ironing needed with this lot, thankfully. I'll also sort through and tidy the other two cupboards in the playroom and then I'll just need to wipe down the paintwork, hoover the carpet, and the first room will be finished.

It's the nutrition club this morning where the chat will be about sugar. I gave up adding sugar to drinks a few years ago but I'll be interested to see what else I can do to eliminate added sugars in my diet.

Apart from that it'll be watering the garden, piano practice and Italian practice, and then whatever I fancy doing ... should be another fun day!

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Tuesday

I thought yesterday was going to be a bit of a disaster after a bad start but it turned out to be just the opposite. The disaster part was walking into a door (don't ask!) and causing a nosebleed which thankfully I was able to stop very quickly, only to realise that I had trailed blood through the house so there were bloodstains on the living room, stairs, and landing carpets. It obviously couldn't be left so I abandoned the plan to start spring cleaning in the playroom and spot cleaned the carpets instead, fortunately an easier task than it sounds as there is a scotchguard type protector on all the carpets. This worked as it should have done and the stains didn't soak into the fibres so could be wiped away. I still had to wash each patch but the end result looks fine and there's no sign of the bloodstains.

That all took longer than I'd planned for the daily housework slot and I thought at one stage I wouldn't be finished before the diabetes prevention course started so I contacted them and asked to join a different group for this week. As it turned out I finished in plenty of time so could have joined the original group but decided against it and settled down with a coffee to check my emails. This turned out to be a good move as there was one from Goldster, the organisation behind the online classes I've been attending each week, notifying this week's classes and advising of some new ones ... I've signed up for three of the new ones just to see what they are like: Photography (Monday), Happiness (Monday), and Life Coach (Thursday). There was also a French course which I considered doing as a refresher but decided against it as I thought it better to wait until I am more proficient with the Italian language.

The photography one was advertised as being for beginners so I wasn't sure that it was the right course for me but I joined the session anyway as I was intrigued to see how a practical subject like photography would be taught in a Zoom class. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and the instructor, Rhodri, adopted a completely different approach which is enlightening for any ability level. He concentrated on how to develop your 'eye', getting us to make a viewfinder from card (basically a 30cms x 90cms oblong cut from the centre of a piece of card) and looking at an object through the hole, watching to see how the 'picture' changed as you moved your position and how the light changed on the subject. He then used a powerpoint presentation of some of his own photos and talked us through the changes in each photo as he'd altered his position. This may all sound a bit boring but it sparked my enthusiasm and I will join in with future sessions. He suggested some practice for the week which is to repeat the same exercise and observe the changes, so I will have a go at that.

I enrolled for the Happiness session (a positive psychology class) as well but only caught the first ten minutes because G phoned and asked if she could come round straight away. However, in that short time I heard enough to believe that this class will go a long way towards helping me to develop better techniques in dealing with the depression, so I will definitely try again next week.  

G arrived and work her magic ... I feel human again! I hadn't realised just how much my unruly hair was getting me down but I now feel tons brighter and have gained some energy from somewhere!

The first couple of parcels arrived - the printer inks and some prescription meds - so I can sort out the printer today. My printer has bulk ink tanks so refilling the tanks is a bit more involved than just changing over ink cartridges and it's not my favourite job; I'll be glad when it's done and that's the first job for today, no procrastinating! Once that's finished I'll carry on with spring cleaning the rest of the room. 

There's nothing else in the diary so I'd like to attempt the photography practice, although I intend to actually take some photos rather than just observe. In the class the first object we observed was a pair of scissors so I will try the same and then look for something outdoors to attempt the same exercise on a larger scale. 

Monday, 12 April 2021

This Week ...

The highlight of this week happens today ... I'm having my hair cut! 

Social: it's choir practice tonight; we made a start on the summer term songs last week - a Disney Medley, The Way You Look Tonight and All Of Me, and the new one for this week is Homeward Bound.

I'm also hoping to meet with J for a walk but it depends on her work commitments. We'll definitely speak on the phone but it'll be lovely to take advantage of the warmer days the forecast promises and be able to meet in person.


Online Classes and Talks

Today: the diabetes prevention session

Wednesday: the nutrition club, where I think the discussion will be about sugar

Thursday: Indian Cooking 

Friday: the nutrition focus class which is all about digestion


Exercise:

Walking: I'm hoping to get out for a couple of early evening walks this week but the majority of the walking will be in the garden.


Home and Garden

Home: I'm stuck at home on most days as I'm expecting quite a few deliveries so the spring cleaning will continue, focusing on the playroom this week. It doesn't need too much doing in there, just some sorting  & tidying of cupboards, check the computer equipment & re-ink the printer, plus a thorough clean, so its shouldn't take the entire week. 

Garden: Following M's visit, there's not too much for me to do, just to sweep the patio and obviously the watering duties. I need to buy some more ericaceous compost ready for her next visit but that won't be until next week so I have plenty of time. 


Food This will be a week of interesting meals as I'm using up all the odds and ends in the fridge and the freezer  - I'm expecting some slightly unusual combinations!

I also want to print out another selection of new-to-me recipes and make a start on the meal plan and shopping lists for May.


and finally, Hobbies:

Reading: I'm still listening to 'The Mill on the Floss' by George Elliot

Italian: 15 - 20 minutes daily practice 

Piano: I need to find another piece to start learning. 

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Weekly Reflections

Reasons to be cheerful ...

  • chatting with friends
  • a gift of curry paste from friend T which made six portions of curry 
  • a trip to the garden centre with Joy
  • M's first visit to discuss my revised plans and to make a start on the garden tasks
  • re-watching the Harry Potter films, shown on TV every night this week
  • a couple of canal walks
  • hearing from G, my hairdresser, offering an appointment for tomorrow
  • continuing to enjoy the nutrition and Indian cookery online sessions, and hearing that an online NLP happiness hub is starting tomorrow
  • making a (very slow) start on the spring cleaning
  • saving over £100 on my car insurance

I am grateful ...
  • for central heating - we've had a few more very chilly days!
  • for comparison sites, which enabled me to save money on my insurance
  • for the support that always seems to be there whenever I am in need of it

Lifestyle changes
  • exercise (30 minutes minimum every day): achieved 6 days out of 7
  • weight: no change again -I think this may be to do with reducing the amount of exercise so I need to have another look at my calorie intake

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Garden Update 10

M was here for a couple of hours yesterday and in that time dealt with most of the new plants, and made a start on the weeding and the general tidying up. It looks much better already. The tomatoes, sweet peas, and Angel's Fishing Rods won't be planted out yet so they are being pampered indoors for now.

One aspect of the garden I don't think I've mentioned before is that there is selection of plants bought primarily for their foliage. Most of these are in pots and, although they may produce flowers, it's the foliage that earns them a space in the garden.

The photo below shows a couple of the new plants with dianthus memories at the back and spirea magic carpet in the front, making a colourful statement. It does have bright pink flowers, which are pretty, but it's the leaves I love.


Below, at the front is a zeblid leucothoe which isn't looking its best at present. It's in the middle of transitioning from the winter deep burgundy leaf colour to the summer leaf colour of green/yellow. I love the winter colour best but the summery shades do provide a good background for some of the showier annuals (which I still have to buy!).


In the photo above you can see a dark leafed plant in the pot on the left at the back. This is one of the new ones, Coprosma City Knights, and the photo below shows a close up of the leaves. I'm hoping it retains all the different colours throughout the year.


The hebe in the photo below has earned a reprieve. It's looked very washed out until a couple of weeks ago but has picked itself up and is finally displaying the strong pink colour I was expecting. Please ignore the grass growing through the fence; M didn't get as far as this bed in the time available, but it's days are numbered!


One bit of good news is that M is going to sort out the grouting on the patio. I asked her if she could recommend anyone and it turns out that it's a service she offers. She wants to wait for the better weather which is fine by me, and it's one less thing to worry about. We've already decided that we'll leave a few spots where the grouting is missing to plant with low growing thyme and chamomile to soften the edges. 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Friday

Just a quick post as I've overslept and there's a few things I want to do in the garden before M arrives.

M will be here in about an hour so the first thing is to place the new purchases where I'd like them to be planted. Then a quick trip to Wickes to buy some heavy duty black bags/sacks to set aside some of the gravel for the front garden - I only made this decision last night which is why it's been left to the last minute! 

The other thing for today is after lunch - the online Nutrition Focus which if I've remembered correctly is all about the minerals your body needs.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Let Loose in a Garden Centre ...

 ... with Joy, but we were both very restrained and didn't buy too much. Here's today's haul ...


Starting on the left, the two colourful plants are Spirea Magic Carpet and behind them you can just see the tops of two pots of Dianthus Memories, which will produce white flowers. The tallest plant to the right of them is an autumn flowering Camelia Sasanqua which will have pink flowers and just in front of that in the grey pot is a Coprosma City Knights which I've never heard of before but fell in love with the colours of the leaves. The smaller plants in the front are two patio bush tomato plants, two pots of sweet peas and behind them are 2 pots of Lupins Gallery Yellow.

The plant pots and troughs are for the tomatoes and, later on, for some dwarf green bean plants which Joy has kindly offered to let me have. They'll also be used for some of the summer annuals.