dear dairy :: just surfacing to do a quick update

Thank you to those blog friends that are wondering where I am and if I am OK. The answer is….I am almost OK now after a very trying week.

We had our Aussie visitor, he arrived last Saturday, but has now gone to another relative and I am actually quite thankful as I have not been well since he came. I felt dreadful when I woke up on the Sunday with flu like symptoms, temperature, sore throat, swollen glands and aching all over but made the effort to get showered and dressed and we had a day out at the Open Gradens in Winster, Derbyshire – when all I really wanted to do was crawl back to bed. I think this was my mistake and the exertion up and down the hills forced the sore throat further down into my lungs. Since then it has all landed on my chest and seems to have attacked all my muscles and joints – this excessive dry heat is not helping.

DH ended up taking him out on Monday and Tuesday without me and managing the meals. To be honest we found it difficult to find things that he seemed interested in other than going for a beer and got little feedback when we went to the open gardens even though we were told that he liked gardens. To top it all he stayed an extra day than was planned originally and I found it all a bit too stressful. It is lovely now we can have the bedroom door open at night and sleep on top of the duvet to keep cool.

Little L was supposed to be coming tomorrow and I know she will be so disappointed but there is no way I could look after her as I feel at present; maybe another days recovery might make it all better.

Just to let everyone know about my hospital test results – I am now officially moved into the lower risk category for the next five years. So good news there.

I also had a lovely birthday last Friday with friends and family popping in all day. When I feel more myself I will be back. Hope you are enjoying the weather – bit hot for me!!

Sorry if any spelling errors – I am off to lie down again now!

beaching :: a week at the cottage

I expect you may be wondering if I had got lost in the wood, or fallen into the compost bin, or down a rabbit hole; but no I have been a little quiet this week because I needed some ‘me’ time whilst on holiday – amongst the gardening of course.

As usual when we arrived the garden resembled a jungle, all but the grass, which had been cut by our dear friendly grass cutter, Kelly.  5 days in and it was ready for cutting again; so DH got the mower out and cut them again.

I had the usual first day dithers wondering which of the borders to start on; in the end I did none of them and decided the garage needed a clear out.

 It is a big space but we were only using the last few feet by the door because I could not get past all the equipment and garden sundries blocking my path.  I found some interesting things though and a few things I had forgotten about.

Through some clever prompting on my part I managed to get DH to go through the wood pile and keep or toss.  It is now much reduced.  The rest was put outside on the concrete standing and yesterday had a journey to the tip along with a few bags of weeds that I don’t compost here like goosegrass.

There is still a lot to do as you can see from the photo but it is very much a work in progress I am pleased with what we have achieved and presently we can get to much more of the garden equipment. I also collected up a number of plant pots strewn around the garage and clay planters, gave them a hose down and laid them out in the sun to dry. Some of them I will be taking back down home to use there.

So it wasn’t until last Sunday that we gardened, the wind had dropped by then and it turned quite hot, so much so that I had to do my usual border hopping to avoid the sun.  Dowsed in sun cream I began on the border by the pond but within minutes realised this was a mistake, far too hot, so I moved to the holly tree border.  So many tiny foxgloves have seeded themselves and a flurry of hypericum seedlings but also many bitter cress were hiding amongst them.  I fished out the bitter cress and hypericum and left the foxgloves – these will grow on and flower next year.  I do like foxgloves they are welcome anywhere in my garden, but a few more white and pale pink ones would be nice. 

The delphiniums in the lower wood have been spectacular and I only lost one to the rabbits before we put the netting round.

On Monday I began in the long trellis border.  This is full of tiny poppy seedlings again there is bitter cress amongst them and some other unwanted weeds like dock.  DH tackled the early flowering clematis on the trellis giving it a hard but not over excessive prune.  The later flowering Etoile Violette had entwined itself with the earlier flowering montana rubens and we spent a good hour trying to separate them so we didn’t acidentally prune off the buds.

Eventually by the end of our week here I had just about done most of the borders and cleared a heap of weeds. The rose is looking magnificent and smells divine. The falling petals have been collected and brought inside to dry. The pink mallow is just on the point of flowering – sadly I will miss it in full bloom as it will be over by the time we come again.

On the Monday afternoon we went into Stranraer and down to the waterfront to look at the Skiffe boats.  I know nothing about boats but these are beautifully made rowing boats and we watched as the teams from all over the country and abroad heaved them in and out of the water. They each had a little tent to shelter in which looked like a row of beach huts along the promenade.

Princess Anne had been flown in by helicopter to attend the start of the races but we didn’t see any sign of her other than the pictures in the Free Press which we bought later in the week (the Free Press is the local paper, which isn’t actually free, now £1 and extremely thin on news of late).

During Skiffie week there were plenty of activities and entertainment laid on for the visitors and locals, one of them was a classic bus rally and I managed to get a quick snap of this one as we left town.

On Tuesday it rained so we went back into town to look around the shops and stock up on provisions – I bought two birthday presents from my favourite gift shop, Baxters, they gift wrap them at no extra charge too.  We had a drink at one of the cafes and then took a drive up to the north of the peninsula near to Corsewell Lighthouse, then followed the road down to the little harbour village of Portpatrick.  By this time the rain had stopped and the sun appeared and it was the best part of the day so we bought an ice cream and had a walk around.

Today we have been in the upper wood to clear some branches left by the Council who have turned our lovely grass verge into a tarmac path and in so doing have thrown all the grass sods, grit and left over tarmac into our wood, not to mention cutting back our hedge that separates the wood from the main road; so now there is no hedge.  It had only just grown again since Scottish Power reduced it to the ground 11 years ago.

So we are back where we started.  The council have a workforce of only 5 men for an area of over 100 miles to do any kind of direct works jobs – the ones that are not large enough to be undertaken by outside contractors.  They apparently do not have the necessary skills do many of the jobs proficiently – as we noticed! The man from the council apologised profusely for the bad workmanship, and said it was because when the workforce was cut – most of the men who could took early retirement or got new jobs elsewhere and they were left with quite unskilled men who could not get jobs anywhere else.

They are coming back to deal with the rubbish – I just hope they do not make a worse mess. I will show you pictures of the mess in a later post.

All to soon it is time to pack up and go home – I hope I don’t find my garden there in need of a lot of attention as we need to prepare the house inside for our Aussie visitor.

I had a text from the hospital on Friday to say that I need to travel to Leeds in good time for my appointment on Monday as there is a demonstartion in the city centre by the Extinction Rebellion group. They are targeting the banks and could cause a lot of disruption. Whilst I am all for this kind of protest, getting to Leeds and through the centre and out to Jimmy’s is difficult enough, and I will be stressed anyway wondering if my results are going to be OK – so I think we may go further round on the motorway and drop down from the north avoiding the centre.

So that is all from Bonnie Scotland – there will be more about the garden in my garden notes section when I get time to publish it. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Welcome to new followers and I hope my my regular readers are enjoying the advert free posts now. x


Linking in with the windows photo challenge at Wild Daffodil

I confess that, not only do I have a fascination for windows, but I also take photos of shop windows – over the years I have managed to record a bit of social history that is interesting to look back on and notice how things change or not. I hope you enjoy these, they are just a few of the many starting with …

…the memorable

Early 1960’s location unknown (possibly Maidstone, Kent)
On holiday with my mum, dad, brother, aunt and uncle in the 60’s we came across this street of quaint little shops and had great fun posing for this picture. I am the one with hands on hips in the tartan trews – too small to reach the overhang of the shops. If anyone recognises the street please let me know where it is.
Jewellers – Cheltenham High Street, 2018
My engagement ring – two small diamonds either side of a deep blue saphire, came from this shop in 1974. We were students back then and £28 was a lot of money on a student grant. The shop looked just the same back then as it does now and I still have the hand written receipt.
Bah Humbug traditonal sweet shop – Masham, Market Place, 2008
Younger daughter’s wedding day – memories of fun photos taken around Masham market place.
Dress shop – Vicenza Italy, 2018
I walked passed this beautiful shop window everyday during our stay in Vicenza – I was very tempted by this delicate pink lace dess and if I had a spare £300 and was only a size 6 I might have tried it on.

…the ones lost in time…

Chemist – Buxton, Terrace Road, 2014
I love these old shops where time appears to have stood still. This chemist has hardly changed in all the years we have been going to Buxton, note the beautiful large glass jars in the upper windows.
Butchers – Castle Douglas, King Street, 2018
Castle Douglas was awarded the status of ‘Food Town’ in May 2002. Family butchers going back generations are at the heart of this.
Butchers – Castle Douglas, King Street, 2018
They may have original shop fronts but both are moving ahead with the times and have websites to take internet orders.
Homewares shop – Newton Stewart, Victoria Street, 2013
Newton Stewart like many of the little towns in southwest Scotland is a whole town lost in time and the high street is full of independant shops similar to this – gaudy shop fronts and higgledy-piggledy window displays – it feels like walking back into the 1950’s, a street full of little Woolworths and a great place to find nails by the pound or an enamel basin (long before they became fashionable again)!
Electrical shop – Stranraer, High Street – 2008
One of my favourite shops, believe it or not this is where we go for our light bulbs and cable. Despite the dilapidated exterior it is a delight to shop here – inside there is an old fashioned counter behind which you will find two lovely ‘older’ ladies serving and behind them are boxes of bulbs and electrical goods in no particular order piled high – surprisingly they can always find what you want. Note the boxes of electrical goods displayed in the window are all so old now they have faded to a pale blue colour.

…and the ones that didn’t quite make it

Corner shop – Kirkudbright, corner of Castle Street and High Street, 2010
It is always sad to see the closing down and for sale signs on these once thriving shops.
Shoe shop – Newton Stewart, Victoria Street, 2013
Possibly an old hardware shop – Bonsall Cross, Derbyshire, 2019
Whilst meandering around the open gardens in Bonsall village this window caught my eye with the shop dummy in the corner. Obviously an old shop, one of 26 in this tiny village before the second world war and now a house but one where the residents change the dummies outfit quite often.

….and the modern

John Lewis Store, Sheffield, Barker’s Pool 2018
Another favourite store of mine and a timeless piece of modern architecture that looks as modern today as it must have done when it opened in September 1963. Situated opposite the City Hall, John Lewis has quite a prime central positon in the town. I was born in Sheffield in the 50’s and this store, once Cole Brothers, has played such a key role in my life and that of my family. So many items in our household have been bought from here over the years. They are one of only a few stores now who actually still ‘dress’ their windows.
Olivetti showroom – Venice, Piazza San Marco – 2018
Designed by architect Carlo Scarpa in 1958 to house a collection of modern typewriters and calculators. Another timeless building.

…the local post office

Post Office and newsagent – Wigtown, S Main Street, 2018
As well as a Post Office this is one of those wonderful newsagents that sell a variety of children’s toys and novelty gifts. Take a closer look at the wonderful haphazard display of jigsaws and toilet rolls that are often a hallmark of these small village shops.
Village Post Office – Gainford County Durham, Main Street – 2014
I love this pretty little post office that we came across on our meanderings – it is so typically English.
Post Office and general store – New Luce, Scotland – 2019
So lovely to see so many post offices are surviving still and often relocated into people’s homes and sheds. These windows have window boxes full of herbs for any customer to help themselves.

…and bookshops…

Bookshop – Buxton, High Street – 2014
I can never walk past a bookshop window and if you have a spare hour or two and you find yourself in Buxton then browsing the 5 floors of Scrivener’s second hand books is an absolute must. It is rated as one of the best in the UK. Whilst you are there enjoy a tea or coffee from the small cafe tucked away on the first floor.
Bookshop – Wigtown, N Main Street, 2018
With a population of only 1,000 Wigtown was awarded the staus of Scotland’s National Book town in 1998 and has become a book lover’s haven – with the Book Festival in September being the highlight of the year. The program is extensive with many famous and up and coming authors speaking as well as a variety of arts events. Now given charity status this is one of the best loved literary events in the country. This is the bookshop that is famous for the recent best seller, The Diary of a Bookseller – written by the owner, Shaun Bythell detailing daily life in a book shop in a small remote Scottish town. His famous twisted pile of books outside the door, once made I believe from actual books, have since been replaced with a concrete stack that will better survive the weather.
Bookshop – Wigtown, S Main Street – 2018
This must be the tiniest bookshop window I have seen. Hidden away just off the main street you walk through a beautiful wild garden to discover this delightful little book shop specialising in folklore and mytholgy.

…the eye catching and well presented…

Glove shop – alleyways of Venice – 2018
Typical of Italy, a shop dedicated to sell nothing but the finest leather gloves in every colour imaginable.
Homewares shop, Vicenza – 2018
Everywhere in Vicenza, no matter what the goods being sold, from china to bread, the window displays are absolutely beautiful.
Green grocers – Saltburn by the Sea, Station Square – 2012
The Birdhouse – Masham, Market Square – 2013 (now closed)
Sweet shop – Tissington, Derbyshire – 2013
Flower shop – Glossop, George Street, 2019

….and finally the Christmas windows

Emporium – Tissington, Derbyshire – 2013
Bakewell Pudding shop – Bakewell, The Square – 2018
Hair and Beauty Lounge – Stranraer, Charlotte Street, 2018
Bakers – Stranraer, Hanover Street, 2018

So many interesting windows and a little snapshot of daily life recorded for ever.

dear diary :: ready to go

A much calmer day yesterday. I decided in the end to drive over to Leeds just after lunch and have the bloods done. The journey wasn’t too bad going, about an hour, and there was no one waiting in the waiting room for blood tests – in fact I panicked and thought they might have finished for the day as it was 3.15 in the afternoon but they finish at 5 o’clock so all was well.

We didn’t even have to pay for parking as we have discovered a road not far from Jimmy’s that is free for 2 hours and there is often the odd spot vacant, so DH drops me off and then goes and waits until I call him.

Now it is fingers crossed for the results – I always stress a bit, even after 10 years, but hopefully the Thyroxine medication I take has done its job of suppressing any remaining cancer cells. It has worked up to now.

On the way home we stopped at Ikea and had our free drinks. Afterwards I popped into Boots to stock up on cottonwool as it is curretly 3 for 2 and then to Wilkos for a pack of wooden lolly sticks. After that it was home via Sainsbury’s for the petrol and I have bought a couple of cheap plain t-shirts £4 each for working in the garden.

DH has thrown away his old slippers – he has had them for more years than we care to remember – so long in fact that most of the rubber soles were no longer attached to the uppers. He had even contemplated sticking them back together but some of the sole had worn right through in places to a hole! So even he had to admit defeat as we could not think of an alternative use for them other than melting the rubber soles down to make something – he is ever the conservationist even down to his slippers!

But I was rather horrified later to look down whilst he was driving to Leeds and notice that he had not as yet thrown away the old trainers and even though we had bought new ones yesterday he was still wearing the old ones that should have, in my mind, joined the slippers in the bin! I live in hope.

My final task today was to rearrange a hairdressing appointment for when we return and see if my next renewal prescription is available online (thanks to Ann for that reminder) as I feel I need to stock pile my Thyroxine in case Brexit goes sour as I cannot live without this medication – it would be like taking insulin away from a diabetic – I am dependant on it as I no longer have a Thyroid gland and there is only one brand that does not have fillers that make me feel worse.

So with everything packed but the food I think you can say we are ready to go and by the time you read this we should be on our way. The house will be tidy and ready for our house guest whilst we are away.

I came to my decision about my blog and the pesky ads and have taken out a paid plan. So I will be remaining on WordPress for the time being and see how it goes. My new address is much the same but the has been dropped – so you will find me at my new address – – I am told if you use the old address you will be redirected. It may take a day or two for the changes so I hope it will be a smooth change over and hopefully, other than the address and no ads, you shouldn’t notice any difference.

It is a bit like moving house really but I didn’t need a solicitor.

Have a great weekend x

dear diary :: here, there and everywhere

What should have been a calm day yesterday spent packing and preparing turned into a bit of a frenzy.

The morning began with a little blogging, a little ironing and I also stripped the bed completely (mattress protector included) and put the washer on to make the most of the warm weather. So far so good…..

I was busy working slowly down the task list and making a pile of the clothes to take with us on our spare room bed when suddenly a car drew up outside and who should get out but our dear old friend Uncle Crisp (our daughter’s nickname for him not ours and who was best man at our wedding). He was on his way back up to Skye and thought he would drop in to see us. It was lovely that he did and we caught up on news and old times.

Then elder daughter appeared with little Freddie too.

As you can imagine from this point on not a lot got done. Uncle Crisp left and we had a late lunch and then DH and I went off to town for his dental appointment to replace an old filling. Afterwards we had to look for new slippers and some casual shoes / trainers for DH. It is usual that he leaves this kind of shopping to the last minute. He is no shopper. In fact he sees nothing wrong with his old trainers – he has had them for years, they are comfortable, well worn in and serve the purpose – but look to me like they need to go in the bin!

Two hours later with a renewed filling, new slippers and new trainers we came back home. But not much packing had got done.

However, the washing was dry.

But we both had a senior moment and forgot to remember to go for petrol – as we have a Sainsbury’s coupon to use for 10p off a litre and need a full tank to go to Scotland..

To add to my frenzy the blood envelope that was supposedly posted out to me last Friday (but had a post mark of Monday) arrived with the postman during the afternoon – far too late to consider going over to Leeds to have the blood taken. I had mentioned to them the urgency as we were going away but it never really registers! I need to have the blood taken before my holiday for the consultant’s appointment the day after we get back.

So all in all a strange day full of interuptions and as a consequence we are having to rethink our course of action and possibly delay our trip up to Scotland by a day as I feel otherwise we will be leaving here with a lot of loose ends that I haven’t managed to sort yet and that for me would be more stressful than having a day less holiday.

And I have still to work out just when we go over to Leeds for my blood tests. Life can feel like it is working against you some days.

To top it all it was green bin night – DH has a mental block over this since they moved it from Monday night to Wednesday night. Luckily I remembered in time so he wouldn’t have to go chasing after them with the wheelie bin in the morning.

Today should be a quieter day for me to finish the packing, clean round the house and move the pots in the garden out of the full sun. As everyone now thinks we will have left for Scotland we shouldn’t have any unexpected interuptions.

We will have to have my bloods done and get the petrol en route to Scotland tomorrow I think, unless we can get over to Leeds this afternoon. Although Leeds is only about 18 miles away St James hospital is out on the other side to us and it can take us up to 2 hours to get there depending on the traffic and the M62.

It is warm and sunny here today but with a strong cool breeze – I was hoping for a little rain overnight to fill up the water butt ready for our hand over to the neighbours to do the watering should it turn hot, but none came. Another job then for the list (well DH’s list)- to top it up with the hose pipe.

Using Opera browser to access Todoist is brilliant – it produces a clear PDF print of the whole list without all the header and footers cluttering it up. So I am all set with my ‘old fashioned’, non techie paper packing list to finish the packing today and I will feel pleasantly jubilant as I tick off each item.

We have already made nutloaf and soup to take (tick,tick) and over the last year have discovered by trial and error the best meals to make in the caravan using the calor gas oven so I have a little menu plan in my head for these.

So we are almost all set to go – what can go wrong now…..?

I can’t wait to get up there, unpack and flake out……now did I pack those gardening gloves?

dear diary :: computer malaise

In the last few days when I should have been preparing and packing for our holiday I have been sorting out computer related problems and now have come down with an attack of that modern day illness namely CFD (computer frustration disorder) for which there is no known cure.

Trying to get to the bottom of the WordPress advertising problem, then trying to find a way to get my usual monthly to do list and my cottage packing list I keep on Todoist to print out all the pages and not just the first one (a new glitch on their part which we told them about last month and is still not sorted) has seen me tearing my hair out.

Eventually we found a work around for the lists by logging into Opera browser and the print function through Opera takes a PDF of all the pages (who would have thought). But it only took us four hours of trial and error before coming up with this; and after I had scoured the internet for a new To do list provider that will do print outs at all as most of them think everyone just wants a list on a phone now! Progress!

And yes I could have written my lists out by hand in this time or use excell but Todoist was working fine for me up till now.

There appears to be no simple work around for the WordPress adverts though – and believe me DH and I have tried but because everyone has such personal settings on different devices there is no one adjustment that will fit all.

Anyone following this thread may have read all the comments over the last few days from readers and below in the highlighted sections is the email answer I had from WordPress who investigated my query about both the type and amount of ads now appearing on my site for some readers.

Please note my comments are the underlined italics at the end of each paragraph….

WordPress say “The banner ad at the top has been in use on free sites for over a year, and can be collapsed by clicking on the tab. (we were not informed of this banner)

The ad appearing directly above the sharing buttons is the original ad slot for all sites on, so ads have been appearing there for as long as we’ve been displaying ads on free sites. (Fair enough and I was always aware of this one and its placement and it had never appeared to be a problem to readers before).

The other ads that appear between paragraphs are known as inline ads. Those are relatively new, but they’re also supposed to be there. How many of them show varies, depending both on the length and structure of your post, and on factors related to the person viewing the ad (the latter is what determines which advertisers bid on the available ad slots – if no one bids on inline ads, they don’t display. (I wasn’t aware of these at all and we were not informed these would be added to our sites – I rarely visit my own site as a reader and if I do, because I am logged into my account, I would not see them – these ads seem to be the most frustrating to my readers).

So all the ads you’re seeing are supposed to be there, and are used to cover the cost to us of hosting your site for free. They can be removed via any of our paid plans. (The ransom notice!)

If you feel the content/subject matter of any ad is inappropriate, please click the “Report this ad” link on the ad itself to report it. We serve thousands of ads across millions of sites a day, and no two people visiting your site sees the same ads. Additionally this process is completely automated, so reporting the ad directly that way is the only way it’s possible for us to review a specific ad”. (Firstly, I never see the ads anyway so unlikely I would be the one reporting them and secondly, they are tailored to the reader so I would never see the same as them – the one I did catch a glimpse of was advertising for young girls to work at home – which seemed a bit dubious to me and I feel WordPress should be the ones monitoring this not our readers – it is too late once they have gone out.

So there you have it – WordPress have increased the amount of ads and not really mentioned this to their users and take no responsibility for the content – but well done Simone for speaking up and letting me know otherwise I would have remained oblivious to what is happening.

I think eventually because of their increased adverts WordPress will send more new bloggers to Blogger for those of us who just want a free personal blog and where you can personally choose to opt in or out of ads on your site so readers can read and comment without being put off by a bombardment of pop up ads.

For anyone who is troubled with ads on sites they love to visit, and not just for my site, you can adjust your settings to a more strict mode but be aware this can also prevent you accessing some sites as it will also prevent cookies and most sites run with enabled cookies. Using Firefox or Opera as a browsing mechanism and of course Safari with Apple will limit ad problems.

Moving forward – as far as this blog is concerned it seems I have only two choices:-

Switch to Blogger ….or

Pay WordPress the ransom money – I am presuming here that they will just keep on increasing the number of ads over time until a blogger is forced to have a paid site.

Perhaps I need a holiday to think it over!

PS: whilst writing this post something quite unexpected happened – I have been spelling WordPress throughout with a small ‘p’ but when I preview the post it has always changed automatically to a capital. So isn’t it amazing that now WordPress do not have a spell check facility for a post any longer, as mentioned by me in an earlier post, they do have some setting to automatically change their name to what they think is the correct spelling. Even though I am writing WordPress now with a small p I have no doubt when you read this it will have changed to a capital P. If it has then why can’t they have a spell check for everything?????

PPS: apologies for any typo’s and spellnig mistakes.

feasible :: July intentions

Can it really be July already? As usual on this journey of mine I have been busier than busy this past month, whilst the weather has been wetter than wet.

Moving on to this month and better weather, I hope, I am still not sure myself how I am going to fit everything together – at the moment it looks like a jigsaw with a few pieces missing, and we all know how irritating that can be.

During the next 31 days I have to fit in our summer holiday, celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary, entertain and look after an Aussie cousin of DH for a few days, attend Jimmy’s in Leeds (the lovely Bexley Wing) for my yearly blood tests, attend again a couple of weeks later for my results and check up with the consultant and then have Little L to stay for a few days near the end of the month.

In and amongst I shall have house cleaning, tending the garden (both of them), lots of cooking with my new oven (yeah!) and plenty of exercises for my poorly knee….oh and at some point see my dear old mum (to which I hear her say…less of the old please!).

As ever I am searching for that slower lifestyle and as ever it seems just a little beyond reach; especially when I look at what I have to do for the month, my obligations, and what I would like to do in the month, my desires….when I can fit them in. There must be a solution and believe me I am working on it.

So as usual I am setting out my intentions for the month as doing so helps me stay focused….well sometimes…. and also helps me to log what I have to do and then squeeze in what I would like to do.

We will be going up to our cottage (caravan) in Scotland soon for what will be our summer holiday. We cannot have the full two weeks we would have liked due to so many other commitments so somewhere between a week and a fortnight will have to do. Can’t wait.

But there is the packing to do and that can’t wait either!

There will be plenty of house cleaning to do (didn’t I say that last month….. and the one before, but this time I mean it). My house needs a thorough clean……. everywhere – it is in a worse state than when I was working. Somehow I have not managed to get myself into any routine as we always seem to be focused on one project or another and some of those never get finished.

DH and I had a big planning meeting a month ago and listed all those tasks we needed to do but for some reason it is taking ages to get anything crossed off the list. I feel like giving myself a C- and I hear that old teachers comment you would find on any school report “must try harder”.

I have fewer apppointments and no yoga classes for a while, so I do need to make sure I exercise during the next month, especially the ones to help my knee. Does house cleaning count as exercise I wonder?

This month with the aid of my new oven I want to focus on what we are eating and plan for better, even healthier meals, though I may sneak a cake in for my birthday

I got my sketchbook out the other day when it was too hot to do anything else and spent a pleasant afternoon sitting in the garden drawing a few flowers. I feel quite rusty not having done very much drawing for a long time.

There is always some distraction, something more pressing to do – so maybe whilst we are away in Scotland I can fit in a little painting like we used to. I will certainly be packing my watercolours and sketchbook.

I have a couple of patchwork and quilting books from the library at the moment – well you never know I might just find some time to make a start. I have a lot of very pretty flowered fabric in summery peaches and pinks left over from the bunting I made for my elder daughter’s wedding. I had thought it would make a nice quilt for her new baby, but the baby turned out to be little Freddie who I am not sure would want such a girly quilt.

Summer is always such a good month for plenty of meandering…getting out and about, exploring; and we will be doing plenty of that…as much as we can fit into the time.


I expect that while DH’s cousin is here we will be taking him places too – I think his interests lie in cricket and gardens. The latter sounds hopeful to me as I am sure there will be plenty of open gardens to visit – but the cricket might be more tricky. Entertaining Little L will be much easier than the cousin I think and she is happy to do anything and go anywhere with a park nearby… the park it is then.

Well that is my month all lined up….now where did I put my mop and bucket. x

PS. Back soon with my monthly tally (yet another sticking point in my life!).

June review

June turned out to be one of those months full of appointments and commitments; dentists, doctors and a few others. Between us we had so many that I had to rearrange my yearly appointment at the hospital in Leeds to July just so that we had a bit of a breather and could squeeze in a trip to Scotland.

And of course I have been attending the extra Yoga classes throughout June on a Friday afternoon. These have now finished as my teacher has to go into hospital this week so combined the last two classes into one. I enjoyed the smaller Friday classes (six of us) and individual attention and have learned how to breathe well and open up all those areas that we often don’t breathe into enough. Deep breathing using all the lung is extremely beneficial as I found out after only one session.

The weather here has not been very spectacular, mostly wet and dull and often quite cold (yes we had the heating on too) – some of our best days happened to be in Scotland. But the garden has started to bloom in the last week or two as the sun made a welcome appearance and the warmer weather has been so lovely. Nothing can beat cutting a few fresh flowers and herbs from the garden and bringing them indoors.

It has felt quite a disorganised month as months go – not very productive but plans have been made, plans that will help us as we move forward out of this ‘transition’ period and further into our new life of being at home and not in the workplace, of being reliant on pensions and savings and no regular salary.

So on with this month’s review – a summary of the intentions I did succeed in doing and those that got left behind.

The pantry……. mmmm…this did not happen – not even close – we have not ordered the units yet so it remains the dumping ground downstairs – though on the good side my elder daughter has taken a huge box of DVD’s and CD’S away that we were storing for her in here.

But if there has been one thing we have done a lot of this month …..well two actually, it is gardening and meandering. But why not while we have the time – both are very satisfying.

As well as planting up the pots of annuals I bought two wooden planters to grow vegetables in on the patio and managed to sow the salad seeds and amazingly they are growing well despite the wet weather.

I have been collecting and drying the seed heads of some of the flowers in my garden.

I hand printed these tiny seed packets for my daughter’s wedding when we gave away some wild flower seeds as favours and they will be perfect to put the seeds in when collected.

Lean – one of my intentions this month was to look at my wardrobe and pull out and wear some of my least favourite clothes that often just linger in there. I think we all have a few, if not many, that are unworn for a variety of reasons. I particularly want to avoid buying anything new this year as this will give me a chance to wear what I have as well as simplify my wardrobe.

The aim is to only have enough clothes for my needs, have them mostly hanging (save underwear and socks etc) as they are easier to see and select this way, and to have all the seasons in one space. So that is quite a reduced collection but every item will be one I love to wear.

I have already made a start on this – it is a work in progress though and I must say that some of the items are feeling rather tight which is a good indication that I need to eat less or watch what I am eating and lose a few extra pounds. My only two purchases this month have been a pack of trainer socks from Primark for £1.50 and some Skechers trainers bought in the sale to wear in the house as slippers but give my feet the additional support they need.

As it happens I have had little time to go shopping and having a bad knee has also limited the amount I can walk up and down shopping malls so this has been a bonus really for saving money.

Clean – not a lot of cleaning got done in the house this month – I blame my bad knee but as you might expect it didn’t stop me from doing the gardening, so a lack of motivation was probably the real reason. And I must hold my hands up and admit that my house at the moment is not a very pleasant sight and I feel like Mr Messy has sneaked in and been….well messy….and left me a few piles of stuff everywhere.

We spent a whole weekend gathering information ready for our appointment with the financial advisor – a free appointment for which they normally allow up to 2 hours but ours lasted for almost three in total and he thoroughly reviewed our current financial situation and advised on a plan of action.

I was extremely impressed as our advisor delivered good honest advice tailored to our circumstances and we agreed that the action we need to take could be done without his help thus saving any fees for his time. At no time during the meeting did he try to sell us products or suggest moving pensions. Our finances are not particularly complicated but until I can draw my state pension next year money is tight unless we delve into our savings. He did say that stocks and shares are more worthwhile when you have a longer investment period than we have and therefore would only advise using our savings to buy shares if we had spare capital to play with and didn’t need to rely on having any of the income from dividends.

When we have a better idea of our day to day living expenses and any immediate capital expenses (like our new kitchen and pantry) then we can start to look at longer term investments for our future bearing in mind that one day we may need to pay for a care home or carers.

We also discussed ideas we have been thinking about for our little cottage and have spent a great deal of time this month focusing on this to get our plans moving again. I cannot go into details yet but at least there has been movement.

Mealtimes had become a real chore with my old unpredictable oven so bringing the one down home from the cottage was a good idea. I can now cook confidently once again and look forward to making new things too. I have a collection of recipes I want to try as time allows to build up my ‘repertoire’. I will be able to practice on the Aussie cousin coming soon!

Of course the highlight of any month for me is always our meandering…we have done lots, much more than I have had time to tell you about but I will do a post soon on some of the places we visited; exploring interesting alley ways and passages, up and down enticing flights of steps, through secret doorways, round open gardens and discovering tiny places along the Ayrshire coast.

Looking back June has been a great month, maybe not such great weather but it does not appear to have stopped us doing very much and maybe it has been more productive than I first thought – that is the best thing about a review it gives you a better perspective.

Here’s to a wonderful July and warm summer days. x