Tuesday, 8 June 2021

I think it might be summer - at last!

 Hello again!

We really enjoyed our trip to the cinema last Monday evening; even though we started out at the wrong cinema and had to hop in the car and drive to the other cinema venue! I'd got so used to walking into town to the cinema I'd almost forgotten there were two cinemas. There were only about 12 people in total in the cinema we finally arrived at; all well socially distanced. I was so glad not to have to wear a mask throughout the screening. We really enjoyed the film (Nomadland) even though not a lot happened. It seems we have our own tribe of RV (recreational vehicle) dwellers here in the UK; according to a recent Guardian article HERE.

Tuesday's outfit - practical for the foodbank and swimming in the afternoon. I wear minimal makeup and remove it just before swimming; my costume is on under my clothes.  I thought we might be able to have showers at the pool since the further easing of restrictions on the 17th May but not so far. Everything charity shopped; jeans by Next; top by M&S; cardigan had a Canadian label but I cut it out as it was irritating my skin. I bought myself a pair of white pumps from Primarni in anticipation of wearing them with summer dresses - if the weather ever becomes summery!

Another colleague returned to the food bank on Tuesday and intends to carry on; that will make 4 volunteers and 1 manager there on Tuesdays on a weekly basis. Occasionally, the warehouse manager is in on a Tuesday as well. The plan is for all the volunteers to return by September, but I know several of the original ones won't be returning.

Although I booked as soon as I could there were no places left on the Rambler's Wednesday walk. It's one of the things I dislike most about the pandemic; having to book everything. It does reduce the joy of spontaneity. I thought I might go for a walk by myself later in the day but never made it. The weather forecast said no rain but I just didn't trust it!


Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Wallis; jacket by Classic; top by Miss Look and yellow shoes charity shopped in Donegal.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Wednesday was pretty busy. I went to the hairdressers in the morning and then went to Home Bargains to buy yet more bird food supplies and a couple of household bits. I came home and walked into town to get my eyebrows done and run a couple of errands.  On the way back from town I stopped at the food charity and bought some flowers; stocks and lisianthus.

I cleaned out the fire and relaid it ready to light when OH got in from work. Our weather forecast was showing warmer and sunnier weather from Thursday. I was hoping I wouldn't need to buy anymore coal as supplies were running low and it would mean I could save some money. We don't normally light the fire this late in the year. I spent time in the afternoon catching up with blogs; I booked next week Rambler's walk and I tried to book for cousin Marian and I to go and visit 'The Red House' in Bexleyheath. I was hoping to take Marian there as a birthday treat in June, but the National Trust seemed to be releasing booking dates only one or two days ahead at a time. 'The Red House' is the Arts and Crafts home of William and Jane Morris who were central to the 'Pre-Raphaelite' movement in the 19th century.

The long awaited change in the weather on Thursday was remarkable. It was warm and sunny with the temperatures peaking at 19 degrees in the afternoon. I did the food shopping in the morning (Lidl and Aldi). I decided to make the most of the warm sunshine and go for a good walk rather than a swim. I'd also had my hair done the day before and wanted to keep it looking nice longer than a day! The walk was wonderful; 8 miles across fields. I saw brimstone and peacock butterflies; rabbits; a pheasant, three partridges and red kite eating carrion on the ground. It flew away with the carrion in its mouth when it saw me but dropped it. The air was full of the sound of birdsong.

There were several of these flowers in one particular area on my walk. I looked them up when I got back and they're Salsify. I believe you can eat the root.

Trousers by Whistles charity shopped somewhere; top Bedford Market; 1.00 rail and Mary Janes by Clarks also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.

On my way over to the starting point for my walk; I spied this in a skip and rescued it!

A radiator cover. It has a little hole in it but I can disguise that. I knew it would fit my bedroom radiator and it's now given me an extra shelf for storage.

On Friday, I got up very early and set out for Kettering. My youngest brother, Tony, was having an angiogram and stents inserted into his heart. I took him to hospital and picked him up 8 hours later having had two stents inserted. All done through his wrist; it's astonishing really. He watched the video replay of his heart's blood flow prior to the insertion of the stents and after. He said the difference was amazing. Our NHS is truly wonderful. He's back to work on Monday! I stayed over  in case of any issues, but was back in Bedford by 8.45 am on Saturday which was another lovely, warm sunny day.

Everything charity shopped except the animal print faux clogs which are from Sainsbury's. I got £5.00 off as I had 5.00 worth of vouchers. Orange trousers from F&F bought from my Barnardos as was the turquoise paisley top.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I met up with my daughter and walked the walk I'll be leading  in two weeks time. It was only 5 miles but such a pleasure walking in the warmth of the sun. We met a few frisky horses in a field; luckily they were fenced off from us. I love them, but they're so bloody big close up!  I spent the rest of the day preparing for a trip to the seaside on Sunday with the two grandsons. I had to dig out my as yet unused wicker picnic basket (bought from my Barnardos) out of the under stairs cupboard and my cool bag. All the picnic cutlery and crockery needed to be washed and I put ice packs in the freezer for the cool bag. I walked into town to buy individual cold drinks and snacks for a picnic. I cooked chicken pieces for the grandson and made filled  rolls, coleslaw and salad as well. I made lemon pesto chicken for dinner and then we settled down to watch the cup final. I didn't, I'm not very interested in football. My three brothers are all Chelsea fans so they had all been looking forward to it. Instead I finished the last in the sequence of Barbara Pym books I have and now have to fill the gap with the missing books before I read any more. I like to read things in the right sequence where I can. I picked up three new books in Kettering when I was there on Friday having a rummage and waiting for the brother to phone me; I also found a couple of necklaces and a bangle.

The few days of sunshine have brought changes in the garden. The rhododendron bloomed at last as did the irises. The dahlias, too.

There are quite a few purple flowering plants; alliums, sinetti, delphiniums, lavender, wallflowers and although you can't see it clearly in this photo there is a periwinkle which smothers the back wall lower down; and higher up there is some campanula.

The flower chair. I still haven't painted it but can't quite make my mind up; I like the weathered look of the wood...

Sweet William

On Sunday, my daughter and I took the two grandsons to the seaside.  When the two older grandchildren were younger this was a yearly ritual on May bank holiday weekend. We went to Hunstanton, Norfolk;  a Victorian seaside town which is our nearest seaside;  just under 90 miles away. We couldn't find anywhere to park when we got there so drove a mile or so up the road to Old Hunstanton beach. There were no amusement arcades or rides or 'Sea Life' here; just a cafe selling seaside paraphernalia and ice creams. We found a spot on the beach and ate our picnic. The grandsons and I walked down to the sea which was very far out and had a paddle. We played ball games on the sand then went to get a ice cream. When we finished our ice creams it was time to go home and we drove back in two hours. There was traffic on the way there and back; in fact I haven't seen traffic like it since pre Covid-19 days. Things really were returning to normal!

I wore this to the charity shop on Monday. The shop isn't particularly warm so the fact I was wearing tights when the temperatures were 21 degrees outside didn't matter. Everything was charity shopped. The pinafore dress; a little bit too big, was from F&F via the 3:16 charity shop. I couldn't be bothered to find something else to wear. Tights and shoes can't remember; and the top is a regular in my outfits.

All jewellery charity shopped.

On Tuesday the fuschias had bloomed.

This was what I wore to the foodbank. Trousers by H&M; top by Next;  both charity shopped   Black kimono present from my daughter and white pumps from Primarni.

All jewellery charity shopped. The necklace I found in a Kettering charity shop last Friday is by Coast.

It was actually warm in the food bank; unsurprising as the outside temperature rose to 24 degrees by the time I finished at 12. I went swimming in the afternoon and did my 40 laps; it was a bit of a struggle as it had been almost a week since I last swam. I had the swimming lane to myself for the last 20 minutes; except for 3 young lads who were just mucking about and not really lane swimming.

Another glorious day on Wednesday and perfect for the day's plan which was to visit sister-in-law Dawn; who moved back to Birmingham where she lived previously for 41 years and raised her children there. Her new home is across the road from this and this was the view from her living room window:

Blakesley Hall, Yardley.

Thought to have been built in 1590 by Richard Smalbroke; a member of one of Birmingham's leading merchant families. Blakesley Hall is a museum and under normal circumstances open to visitors. Unfortunately, it hadn't reopened since the first lockdown but next time I visit  Dawn we have both said we'd like to have a look around and a cup of tea in the tea rooms. There was a brief shower about 6.30 pm which cooled things down a bit; the temperature gauge in my car said 27 degrees as we drove home from Birmingham. This was what I wore and I didn't need the denim jacket at all!

Pumps as above; both jacket and dress charity shopped but cannot remember where. The last time I wore this dress was last September when we went to spend the day with my son.

All jewellery charity shopped.

It was very nostalgic visiting Birmingham again. It was about 10 years since I last visited and that was for a work related training course. I did a Clinical Nurse Teaching course between 1984 -1985 at Birmingham Polytechnic and did my teaching practise at Kings's Norton, Monyhull Hospital and in Kidderminster. I stayed with Dawn whilst I did the course travelling back to Bedford at the weekend; and my children went to school there for a year.

Thursday was warm and sunny. We've had a week of continuously warm and sunny weather and I've  enjoyed it so much. Just put on a dress and some footwear and I'm done. 

Everything charity shopped. The shoes came from a Redruth charity shop. The dress was bought last year from Vinted; an online secondhand buy and sell site. I had my swimming costume on underneath because it was Thursday  -  shopping and swimming day.

My new routine on Thursday is to get up early and do the food shopping as early as I can. As we hadn't lit the fire in over a week and hopefully wouldn't need to again until Autumn; there's no longer the need to go to Sharnbrook to buy coal and kindling. I finished the shopping by 11am and had a few hours free before I went swimming. I unpacked the shopping, hung out a wash and a did a second one as I had popped into Barnardo's and Keech in Great Denham and picked up a top (in Keech) and a kimono; some more books and some jigsaws for Hilary. I'm going to spend a weekend with her in Devon in a fortnight's time. I usually bring her books (she reads mostly non-fiction) and since lockdown she has a acquired a jigsaw habit...better than cocaine I suppose!

All jewellery charity shopped.

I swam 40 laps in the afternoon. I thought about a morning booking for next week's swim then I could get ready and do the shopping and have the remainder of the day free. Updated to say I had to leave this for another week as the boiler was due for its annual service the following Thursday and I would have to wait in for the engineer.

Friday was very different to the week of sunny weather we'd had. It was a lot cooler and rained for most of the day. I'd hoped to go for a long walk but the rain put paid to that. I decided to go for a long walk on Sunday weather permitting, instead. OH and I wanted to go for a rummage on Saturday. I went into town on Friday morning as I had several errands to run; to Boots, the Caribbean supermarket for seasonings and coconut cream and to drop a small bag of donations off to the 3:16 charity shop.

Everything charity shopped except the palazzo pants which were bought from Bedford Market last summer. Jacket by Fenn, Wright and Manson; top bought from Keech on Wednesday and the Sea Salt clogs bought in a Devon charity shop.

All jewellery charity shopped.


When I got back home a leaflet had been delivered about milk deliveries by a milkman. I went online and set up a thrice weekly milk delivery in an attempt to cut down on my plastic footprint.  If you're interested (it's a national scheme) see HERE. My trip to Boots was also an attempt to cut down on plastic waste; buying some solid shampoo bars they had on special offer. I've found the online buying of solid shampoo bars quite pricey. I'm using my second solid shampoo bar now;  but they were both sample size and were pretty small. I still use my purple toning liquid shampoo and conditioner for silver hair about once a month; when those bottles are used up I won't bother anymore. On my way back from town I stopped at the local food charity and bought some flowers.

On Saturday one of the clematis had bloomed!
It was another lovely sunny day with temperatures between 22 and 23 degrees. OH and I drove to Buckinghamshire to Aylesbury and then on to Leighton Buzzard for a rummage.

Jacket bought from a Beales sale many years ago.

First wearing of this dress; bought from Vinted during the first lockdown. Also wearing for the first time; although you can hardly see them some material Mary Janes with a pale blue platform; charity shopped in Penzance. I needed a bit of height to stop the dress dragging on the ground. The shoes were not a good idea. My feet swell in the heat and I had the imprint of the shoe material and very sore feet all evening!

All jewellery charity shopped; also hat and sunglasses.

OH found loads of stuff. I bought a meat plate (at last); a bowl to put our keys in; a bangle; a ring and a pair of black lightweight trousers to replace a linen pair I had to donate. I would have liked another linen pair but couldn't find any black ones in my size. I'll keep looking...I found one Barbara Pym book but I already had it. We were both satisfied with our day; stopping for tea and cake in Leighton Buzzard before we set off for home. We spent Saturday evening watching the beginning of the second series of 'Thicker Than Water' a Swedish drama from 'Walter Presents'. We've also continued watching 'The Great British Sewing Bee' and it's the semi final this week. 

I walked 10 miles on Sunday; meeting up with my daughter after 2 miles. Another warm but cloudy day. I cooked dinner for OH and both grandsons and did the upstairs cleaning and mopping of floors. Waking a bit stiff on Monday morning after the walk the day before I was thrilled to see 2 goldfinches of my bird seed feeder. I've only seen 1 before on the feeder and it was a long time ago. I do hope they become regular visitors. Then whilst hanging out the whites wash when I got back from Barnardos in the afternoon; I saw a blackcap on my neighbours roof singing its heart out. The neighbour also has starlings nesting in a hole just under her gutter and the parents and young are regular but very noisy visitors to the bird feeders in my garden.

I wore this outfit to Barnardos. Dress charity shopped in the Daycare Hospice Shop it says made in India but there is no manufacturers name;  denim jacket by Next; charity shopped a very long time ago and faux clogs by Tu from Sainsburys retail. My feet needed comfortable shoes after Saturday's exploits and Sunday's walking.

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings bought by OH for me  in Oxford market.

I bought myself another pair of plimsolls/pumps and an orange skirt in Barnardo's. I did two washes and both were dried and put away by the evening. Another wonderful thing about the brilliant weather we've had.

For a change it was really warm at the food bank on Tuesday! Everything was charity shopped. Linen trousers by Next; shirt and kimono bought on recent rummages. Shoes bought in Sainsbury's sale.

All jewellery charity shopped.
The garden has blooms in abundance. Bottom right; pansies from the garden on my hall table. Bottom left; this delphinium has many flowers. The other delphinium hasn't so much as a bud on it and it's not as tall; I moved its position in the garden to see if that would make a difference. Top right; we have quite a lot of dianthus in both back and front garden and its all doing so well. I can't wait for the sweet peas to bloom and then I'll have bunches in the house filling the air with their beautiful fragrance. 

I've got a busy week ahead of me. I'm going for a meal and a catch up with Ann on Thursday evening; one of my two best friends, we've known each other for 33 years. On Friday I'm off to Kew Gardens with cousin Marian and her daughter and I hope to meet up with another friend for a catch up in London on Friday evening. I'll need the weekend to recover after that! I haven't forgotten about the earrings; I have, in fact, made one pair so far and will show you when I've made a few more.

See you on the other side when it may be back to normal or it may not - watch this space...

Monday, 24 May 2021

Freedom - of sorts

I would like to start by correcting the impression I might have given in my previous post that when I acted as a polling clerk it was a volunteering role; it wasn't, I got paid for it! The standard rate for poll clerking is £150.00 for the day -  which sounds a lot, but as we are there for 16 hours; it works out as just under 10.00 per hour - not that much, really. The Presiding Officer role pays twice that amount, but I wouldn't want the responsibility so I've always gone for the poll clerk role. We also get paid for training. Right, now I've cleared that up this is what I've been up to since my last post.

 I managed to swim 42 laps in the allotted time on Tuesday but that was partly because there were fewer people in the lane; also several got out of the pool leaving me the only swimmer in my lane for the last ten minutes of the swim - yay! Anyway, goal achieved and let's hope I can continue to keep it up.

Trousers by La Redoute; bought in their sale about 6 - 7 years ago. Top by Tu; charity shopped in a Porthleven charity shop. Shoes charity shopped in a Taunton charity shop. I've been saying I bought these in Ireland, but looking at an old post I'd bought them on a trip out in Devon with Hilary some years back.

Outerwear; coat by Laura Ashley bought from secondhand site Vinted.

Wednesday was a beautiful day for walking. It was overcast, but by mid morning the sun came out and the breeze turned from chilly to cool. There were 13 of us on the walk I led; 7 miles in length. It was very good to walk in a group again and catch up with a couple of walkers I know well. Everyone enjoyed the walk which is always good to know! In the afternoon I went to Rushden for a rummage in the Salvation Army shop which is among one of my favourites. I bought a wooden darning mushroom for 50p; something I've been looking out for for a while, a book and a small heart shaped cushion for 75p. I also picked up a yellow wooden ampersand sign for my daughter (the colour scheme in her living room is yellow, white and grey) and that was it.  No clothes! Rummaging urge satisfied I returned home and made dinner. We watched The Great British Sewing Bee in the evening. I think Serena could be the winner but there's a way to go yet. Esme's (one of the judges) necklaces get madder each week. Last week there were pots of coloured paint hanging around her neck but she always looks so fabulous. I wonder if she makes her own clothes?

This was Thursday's outfit.
Even though I've been retired for 7 years; I still get a thrill on the days when I don't have to get up by a certain time. Usually it's Thursdays and Fridays for me. Once I'm awake; nearly always around 7am which seems to be a natural waking up time for me; I usually read 'The Guardian' headlines on my phone whilst still in bed; then I get up at my leisure and get ready at the same pace. It's blissful; I hope the thrill of it doesn't wear off!

I spent most of Thursday shopping. I went to Sharnbrook for kindling and firelighters, then Aldi and Lidl for groceries. My bird feeding supplies were depleted so I went to B&M and Home Bargains to stock up again; and also picked up logs at B&M to save OH a trip after work. The birds are eating voraciously at the moment; it's hard to keep the feeders replenished! On my way home from all the shopping the rain came down heavily; we'd had small showers throughout the day but this was torrential rain. I'd left some washing out so had to rescue it when I got in, spin it again and hang it up inside.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings bought from Sainsbury's many years ago.

I enjoyed listening to 'The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym' on BBC R4's 'Book of the Week' which I caught up with this week.  I didn't realise she lived in the same part of London where I grew up for many years; I wondered if there was a blue plaque outside her house. The next time I go to London, I'll check it out. It made me want to re-read her books and as I had a collection of her books I started with her first novel; 'Some Tame Gazelle'.

Friday was overcast but at least it didn't rain. I went for a swim in the morning and completed 40 laps. The pool seems to be quite crowded on Friday mornings which often means waiting for people to swim far enough ahead of you so you don't collide. I like to swim my laps without stopping so I'm going to try booking next week for Thursday afternoon to see if it's less crowded.

All jewellery charity shopped.

My first wearing of white jeans this year. Jeans by Next; charity shopped; top by M&S bought in Keech Hospice shop in Kempston last week and shoes by Sainsbury's retail in their sale. I wore a jacket when I went out as it wasn't warm enough to go without one. 

In the afternoon, after putting a wash on, I went into to town to run a couple of errands and whilst I was there had a look in a couple of charity shops for some more Barbara Pym books. I was missing four to make up the complete collection. I didn't find any in the charity shops but I did go to our local independent second hand bookshop. We have a Waterstones and WHSmith but both sell new books. The independent bookshop had moved to new premises just before the first lockdown (bad timing) which I hadn't visited before. It was very spacious with several sofas and chairs to sit and read in.  I found one Barbara Pym book and another green Virago to add to my collection; as well as a natural history book and a crime book by Denise Mina which I hadn't read. I was very satisfied with my purchases and only have 4 more Barbara Pym books to track down now...

Saturday's outfit; everything charity shopped. Top by Joules charity shopped from Barnardo's, polo top underneath by Zara from Daycare Hospice Shop and trousers by Papaya; can't remember where I got them from nor the shoes by Hotter.

Saturday was wet but luckily not cold. We've had about a months rainfall in the past couple of days. The garden needed it but enough already! I had no plans made for Saturday so I went for a rummage to Newport Pagnell where I haven't been since before Christmas. I found a Fred Vargas book; two brooches for 50p each; and a yellow dress from the 2.00 rail in The Willen Hospice Shop. I also bought a necklace in the RSPCA shop. A new charity shop had opened in Newport Pagnell; another Keech Hospice shop; it sold furniture and bric a brac with books upstairs. No Barbara Pym books unfortunately.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from eBay.

Coat by Per Una (M&S) bought from a charity shop years ago.

When I got back from my rummage I made a cauliflower, chickpea and spinach curry and baked a Victoria sponge cake. I've never made a vegetarian curry before only vegetarian stir fries. It turned out very well and I enjoyed it. I have several more vegetarian recipes to try out. I like vegetarian food as I don't eat very much meat and as my daughter has now become a vegan that's even more incentive to make more vegetarian dishes. OH, son and grandsons all remain meat addicts.

Sunday's outfit. Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Et Vous; kimono; no label. Can't remember where I got either of them from. The trousers were too snug in the waist and have been re-donated.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Sunday was like Saturday; rainy with sunny spells. I went for a 6 mile walk along the river to Cardington Lock and back along the opposite side of the river. I spied these:


And these:

 A lot of messing about in boats. 
I also saw two girls paddleboarding down the river Great Ouse but didn't get the camera out in time...

On Monday, it was back to Barnardo's volunteering. It was the first week of just me and the new manager. We worked very hard but had to stop donations just before I left; it's too hard for one person to deal with the donations and do the till and serve customers. and at the moment there is no afternoon volunteer. We need more volunteers! I wore my checked home made dress which I wore in my last post for the first time, so you didn't need to see it again.

This was what I wore to the food bank on Tuesday. Mustard trousers from La Redoute retail; top by M & Co and striped top underneath; both charity shopped as were the brown Mary-Jane shoes. There were torrential downpours whilst I was at the food bank; we have a corrugated iron roof and it sounded like people drumming when the rain came down.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I went swimming in the afternoon; did my 42 laps and had the pool to myself for the last ten minutes - again!

On Wednesday, I joined a group walk in Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes isn't just concrete cows and roundabouts it also has some very pretty villages. We walked from Woolstone; along the canal tow path to a country park area along the River Ouzel (a tributary of the Great Ouse) then around Willen Lake and back to Woolstone; 6 miles in all. There were 9 of us in total and the we were very lucky with the weather. It stayed sunny and warm throughout the day; no rain. On the way back to the start point I rescued two square plant pots out of a skip. Wednesday was OH's birthday. He gets his state pension this month and hopes to reduce his days at work from 5 to 3 starting in July. Being furloughed for 12 weeks when the first lockdown occurred allowed him to see that retirement could be fun. We're going out for a birthday meal on Saturday night with my three brothers and my daughter. It will be the first time we've been out for a meal together since last July when we went out for brother Mark's birthday.

Top photo is the Peace Pagoda on Willen Lake; below right a tiny church spotted on the walk and left a wisteria festooned classic house in Olney. I stopped in Olney on the way back home to have a rummage in their 3 charity shops. Did I buy anything? Yes, I did. I bought this:

A sideboard!

In the third charity shop (Willen Hospice Shop - we passed the actual Willen Hospice on our walk)) I saw this sideboard. I thought it looked very much in the 'Arts and Crafts' style and I loved it. It was also reduced from £85.00 to £60.00, so that was a bonus although the delivery was expensive. It was delivered on Thursday morning and my old sideboard was donated in exchange and taken away. I'm so pleased with it. 
We watched The Great British Sewing Bee in the evening. I was amazed at Raph's skills and wonder if he might be the winner...time will tell.

Thursday was a very busy day. There was waiting in in the morning for the delivery which luckily didn't come too late.  I repacked the new sideboard when it arrived and found I even had room to spare.Then it was off to do the food shopping (Lidl and Aldi), a super fast unpacking and putting away followed by a swim. Thursday was definitely the better day than Friday. There were only 4 people in my swimming lane throughout the entire hour. It will also mean that I can have Fridays as a free day - at least until the Ramblers Friday bus walks restart. I wore some new to me orange trousers picked up at my Barnardos; my Nomads top and white Gap shirt underneath and my orange Seasalt clogs - all charity shopped. I didn't bother with photos;  because I was going swimming and didn't wear any make-up. I dropped off some spare wire hanging baskets we had to a walking friend, after dinner. She hadn't been able to buy any anywhere having tried all the usual places. We still have two larger hanging baskets to hang and fill at some stage over the next few months. All our hanging baskets were originally donated or car boot finds.

Friday was chilly, wet and grey. Hence the tights (from Snag). Yellow dress bought last Saturday from the Willen Hospice shop in Newport Pagnell; top underneath by Zara and shoes by Hotter both charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.

 I didn't need to get up early for anything on Friday so spent a couple of hours pottering around before I had a shower and got dressed and made up. I went to Sharnbrook to buy some kindling and as they had trays of stocks I bought some quite cheaply. We had stocks last year; they smell divine but don't know what's happened to them. They may be in one of two pots which have contents as yet unknown to us; even if they are stocks and do bloom again I don't think I could ever have enough stocks in the garden. And talking about the garden here's whats blooming or about to bloom:

The delphinium is almost there (top left). The first ever alliums for us (top right). The rhododendron is so close to blooming (bottom left) last year's osteospermum back again (middle right) and our first ever Senetti (bottom left).
The iris is almost there (top left); last years dimorphotheca (another type of osteospermum - top right). A sweet william (bottom left); we have another potful that are just about to bloom as well; the pansies in the planter just keep on going.

In the afternoon I went to Ampthill for a rummage. I hadn't been since last autumn. The Age Concern shop had gone and The Mercy in Action hadn't reopened. That left three others and in Barnardos I bought a slug killer shaped like a frog (you put your murder weapon of choice in the middle; they eat it and die). We're still using crushed chilli flakes as a deterrent but some of the little devils are very persistent...I bought some home made jam in The Willen Hospice shop and that was my lot. No Barbara Pym books. I saw this:

It's an old Bentley, I think and it was blowing bubbles out of its rear end. Good luck to Tony and Katherine whoever you maybe!

Saturday's outfit. Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Avery bought in my Barnardos. Jumper by Next; and blazer by John Rocha also bought in my Barnardos. Mary Jane's can't remember where  got them from.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Saturday was a lazy day.  I read and pottered around the house doing little jobs here and there. I do enjoy a pottering about day. We decided to pop over to Emmaeus as we hadn't been for a while and had a bag of donations to get rid of. I looked for more Barbara Pym books but didn't find any. They had necklaces and bangles selling at 4 for 1.00 so of course I had to buy some! When we got back home we were just about to pot up all the plants I'd bought this week; including some more sweet peas that had arrived by post in the morning; when the heavens opened up with a hail shower! Then the sun came out briefly but then it continued to rain. My brothers arrived and we set out for the birthday meal at the King's Arm's in Cardington.  In the restaurant it was well spaced out with lots of space between tables;  hand sanitiser available, masks worn until you were seated; everyone had to give their contact details or use the NHS app to check in. Previously only one person from a group was required to leave contact details.  There were a lot of brave souls outside enjoying the evening rain and having a drink. The food was disappointing but the company was good. Julian went home by train and I drove the other brothers home to Kettering.

Here we are - a merry bunch!

 I wore this - sorry, it's a dreadful photo taken after 11 at night when I got back from Kettering...

Jacket by Zara; dress by Biba  (both charity shopped) and velvet trousers by M&S; retail in 2012! I wore these same trousers the first time I ever met my brother, Julian, in 2013...

The week began with taking both grandsons to school on Monday morning as the middle grandson had his GCSE English exam. Good luck, Isaiah! Then once I was ready it was off to Barnardos for a morning off receiving donations and processing them as fast as I could.

Seem to have splashed some water on my skirt - I hope it's water...

Everything charity shopped. Skirt by Betty Barclay, top by Next and home made vintage jacket  bought in the Red Cross shop. Shoes by Clarks; also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from Sainsburys bought many years ago.

A while ago I broke one of my favourite necklaces. I had the idea to make some earrings out of the beads; some of which looked liked liquorice allsorts. I  already had jewellery pliers and earring hooks that I'd bought from eBay a while ago, as I often customise the earrings I find in charity shops. I sent off for some metal rods that go through the beads to make the earrings up. The first lot I bought were the wrong size but I reordered the right size which arrived on Monday. My plan is to make some earrings and I'll show you my efforts in my next post. We're off to the cinema on Monday evening to see 'Nomadland'. Another little step towards normality!