Tuesday, 31 March 2020

A jacket challenge and some other stuff...

I have a confession to make. I've been going to bed with another man for the past couple of weeks. I know, it's awful; but that's the way it is. His name is Thomas; Thomas Cromwell to be exact and he's the lead character in 'The Mirror and the Light' by Hilary Mantel. At 887 pages he's been keeping me company for a good while! Life at the Tudor court is simply fascinating...

To relieve the tedium that we're all facing  stuck at home; I thought I'd set myself a clothes challenge.  I've done dresses, tunics, maxis and skirts so that leaves jackets of which I have plenty. Currently there are 16 residing in my wardrobe - and there are several more stashed away with my summer clothes; I'll leave those until the summer; when I might repeat the challenges with my summer wear. Well, I've got to occupy myself somehow!

Just realised looking at these photos that petticoat under the skirt was not pulled down as far as it should have been - oops!
This skirt should have gone with the skirt challenge; but I bought it for 1.00 in the 3:16 charity shop when I had completed the challenge; and I was keen to wear it. It's by New Look. I had bought another tulle skirt  from a 1.00 rail back in the autumn; but it made me look like the Sugar Plum Fairy, (it was pale pink) so it got re donated. This one is a bit more grown up, I think.

Turquoise top 3.00 from a Stevenage charity shop and green and turquoise cardigan also charity shopped but goodness only knows where,

Shoes Primarni sale; 5.00 about two or three years ago.

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings from Sainsbury's.

I wore this outfit last Thursday. I went out to do my weekly food shop; I'll spare you the gory details only to say it took much longer than usual. Lidl had introduced rationing of essential items (biscuits? sweets? chocolates?) to a maximum of 2 each. I got everything I needed; but I did have to visit several shops to do so - including my local shop. I went into to town to run a couple of errands in the afternoon; mainly for the library. Everywhere was open except a couple of cafes. I saw an interesting crochet book in Oxfam's window so I went in and bought it! 

You might remember I was meant to lead a walk on Wednesday 18th. At about 4pm on the 17th the Ramblers decided to suspend all walks and walk related activities until the end of May. I had to go to the walk start on Wednesday in case anyone turned up and 5 people did. We decided to go for a walk, not as part of the Ramblers; but as a group of friends. We did 8 miles; saw the curly haired pigs and enjoyed mild, if grey weather.

On Friday, I met up with a couple of friends in Cambridge and we walked (at the required distance)  from Cambridge to Trumpington to Grantchester and back again along the river Cam and Grantchester Meadows. It was bright and sometimes sunny but the wind was very chilly. It was a brilliant walk and when we got to Trumpington there was a stall outside a community hall giving away free (pre-loved) wool so people could keep themselves busy during the lockdown period! I got a carrier bag full. When I was in Cambridge town centre there were almost no shops open except John Lewis; and a Black hair shop which also had berets in the window. As I had birthday money left I bought 3 berets; orange, green and yellow and wore the orange one on the walk! It was a 10 mile walk in total.

 This is 'The Old Vicarage' in Grantchester. Home to Rupert Brooke (First WW1 poet) and now home to Jeffrey and the 'fragrant' Mary Archer. They had some wonderful sculptures in their garden including a very well endowed naked shepherd! That's Rupert Brooke's statue in the top right photo.
Top L and R; the River Cam; bottom L the Corpus Clock in Cambridge (read more about it HERE and see the grasshopper  - which you can't see very well in my photo) and bottom R; an information board about The Grantchester Group who met in 'The Orchard' tea rooms next door to the Old Vicarage. We stopped there on our walk for  a cup of tea which was served outside.

I went to spend the day with my son on Saturday and wore this. Everything charity shopped. Top by Mango bought in my Barnardo's last Monday. Jeans by Gerry Weber charity shopped in Donegal and boots by River Island; my Barnardo's. It will be a while before I'm able to spend the day with him again; it makes me very sad. Eldest grandson has set up a family What'sApp group so we can all keep in touch and post some of the hilarious videos  and jokes that keep appearing about the Covid-19 crisis Thank God, human beings have a sense of humour!

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I found out on Saturday via email that both my charity shop and the food bank would continue to open. On Sunday, my daughter and I walked to the Danish Camp in Willington along the river and back. It was a really lovely day once the cold wind died down and we walked 10 miles altogether. I love walking but I will miss my swimming...

Jacket Challenge - Day 1

On Monday, I went to Barnardo's as usual. The manager said she thought we would be told to close and at 11.15 the call came through. Closed until further notice. We had just put out boxes of paperback books and games at really cheap prices, too. I was so sad to go and who knows when I will next be there?

Skirt by New Look; birthday present from OH; jacket 1.00 rail my Barnardo's; top  1.00 rail charity shop in Melton Mowbray.

Boots by Primarni; and all jewellery charity shopped.
This skirt is no more. OH was chopping wood in the garden; the skirt was on the line; a gust of wind blew the skirt in the trajectory of the axe and before OH knew what was happening it had a huge slash in it. Almost the whole length of the skirt and it is beyond repair. Damnation!

I did buy a few things at Barnardo's before I left. It might be a very long time before I can go rummaging again! I bought a raincoat and three pairs of trousers for the summer; a summer top by Marimekko; a scarf and two necklaces. Panic buying! It felt weird to be at home on a Monday so early. and no school run..

Jacket Challenge - Day 2

This was what I wore to the Food Bank on Tuesday. There were only three of us in (this was a deliberate strategy) so we were able to practise social distancing. It was a very busy morning and members of the public kept coming to the doors with bags of food donations. Thank you!

Everything charity shopped except boots; present from daughter. Trousers by Zara; 3:16 charity shop; top by M&S; 1.00 rail my Barnardo's; jacket by Honor Millburn, bought somewhere but can't remember where.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I got an official letter from the Food Bank legitimising my right to be 'out and about' in pursuit of assisting the vulnerable members of our society.  The news today was that people can be issued with a 30.00 fine for not following the government guidelines on staying in and social distancing. In the afternoon I went out for a 6 mile walk. What a beautiful day it was - warm and sunny with very little breeze.

 I don't fear the lockdown; I have plenty to read, plenty of wool to do projects with; there's a tapestry frame and kit waiting for me and I have a few mending projects I could do. There's also sorting out stuff at home ( drawers/cupboards/collections/clothes), batch cooking (unlikely in my case!); blog reading and writing; podcasts; TV and radio and of course walking! I've also volunteered for a local community support group to assist the vulnerable and those self isolating who live alone. This was organised by our local Labour councillors and there is one at the local council level, too.

Jacket Challenge - Day 3

All jewellery charity shopped

Jacket; and trousers by F&F,  both from the 3:16 charity shop 1.00 rail. The trousers have a tie front which is what was dangling down like a cod piece...I think I'll have to fold it in along the waistband the next time I wear it.

Shoes online retail some years ago.

As it was another lovely day on Wednesday; I spent most of it sorting out the garden. Usually it's OH's domain but it's been neglected lately; and he's still working so I got cracking. I'm much more ruthless than he is when I garden; I cut back a huge and woody lavender bush that he wouldn't cut. I also cut back (pretty savagely) our wisteria. It has had one bloom on it in the seven years we've had it: it was a case of put out or get chopped! I moved the now dead Christmas tree away from its current position and found my poor magnolia behind it trying to bloom. I hope it will be ok now it's got more light. I also re-planted some pansies to a pot at the front and two geraniums that have sat waiting to be potted for 2 weeks now. The garden is looking a lot tidier and hopefully OH will get out there at the weekend, too. I risked a trip to our local B&M store as they have a garden section. They sell foodstuffs so I'm guessing that's why they are allowed to open. I bought some food items and some plants which I potted up when I got back. We have a small, paved, courtyard garden with most things growing in pots; but we also have a buddleia tree, a hibiscus tree/bush,  a grape vine, a honeysuckle, two clematis, the magnolia and a rhododendron bush; all planted in the  narrow perimeter of earth that surrounds the garden on three sides.

On Thursday, I had planned to replant the two front window boxes; one with ranunculus and one with fuchsia but I didn't have enough time! Daughter had to go into work (she's a teacher) so grandson was here. We did a workout with Jo Wicks on youTube at 9am for 30 minutes. Daughter and grandson have been doing this since Monday; the first day of school closures. We then did SPAG (spelling and grammar) work, comprehension and reading which took us up to lunchtime. I went to do the weekly shop and it was a much better experience; no queues; no rationing; well stocked shelves and not too many people. Grandson got on with BBC Bitesize maths whilst I was out.

Everything charity shopped except boots; present from daughter. Trousers by F&F; top by G21 and kimono bought in a Donegal charity shop.

All jewellery charity shopped.

In the afternoon grandson and I went for a walk to our little nature reserve. It lies between the back of houses and the cemetery in Bedford Park. Grandson's task was to find 5 different types of leaves. We stopped at the pond and saw some frogspawn and some tadpoles. There were two Peacock butterflies flying around; it was another lovely warm, sunny day. Grandson found holly, ivy, hawthorn, sycamore and alder leaves.
Left; frogspawn. Top R a water snail and a tadpole. Bottom L; a Peacock butterfly with its wings closed! Grandson took these photos on his phone.

We passed this beautiful blossoming tree on our walk.

At 7pm I had a 'virtual' drink with the family courtesy of eldest grandson via the 'Zoom' app. We all raised a glass and caught up with each other. My two other brothers and son don't do internet stuff so they weren't able to take part. We're going to make it a regular weekly date!

At 8 pm that same evening we did the 'Clap for the NHS' accolade from our doorstep. All the neighbours were out and some had pots and pans which they banged to add to the noise. Charivari, I believe, is the old word for it. They deserve all the praise they get; NHS staff and all other the other workers doing the essential jobs that keep society going. Let's hope they get their just monetary reward (they're all underpaid) when this is all over.

I finally replanted the front window boxes on Friday. The rather leggy geraniums they had previously contained were re-planted into three pots and were cut back quite viciously. They'll either survive and flourish or they'll die. We'll see.

Jacket Challenge - Day 4

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped. Brooch bought on a recent trip to Stamford.

Vintage home made jacket; charity shopped from the Salvation Army; green dress; can't remember, floral leggings; my Barnardo's as were the boots.

This is me ready to set off for a walk although I changed into my walking boots and socks. Raincoat by John Lewis bought from my Barnardo's.

I went out for a walk on Friday; 5.6 miles just to the village of Biddenham. It was very eerie as there were so few people about. I find the day flies by. By the time I'm up washed, dressed and made up; had my breakfast; tidied up; put a wash on and pottered about; it's almost the afternoon. I'm usually awake around 6.0 - 6.30 am and get up around 8am; in case you think I lie in bed until noon. I wish I could; but I get stiff if I stay in bed too long! And talking of being stiff, my goodness I was stiff after yesterday's workout; I didn't dare try and do another one in case I caused myself serious damage! I might try again at the weekend. I thought a walk would be a good antidote to the stiffness and it was. I had a hairdresser's appointment on Friday but of course all that sort of thing is cancelled. I may have to grow my hair now!

Jacket Challenge - Day 5

Everything charity shopped. Boots and trousers several years old and I can't remember where they came from.

The checked jacket is by BHS and was found on the 1.00 rail at the Salvation Army in Melton Mowbray on our recent trip away for my birthday. The top is by M&S and bought  in the Day Hospice shop in their 1.00 sale.

All jewellery and scarf charity shopped.

Saturday was a bleak day; very cold and windy. The bursts of sunshine were few and far between. I'd got used to sunshiny days. I ventured as far as Sharnbrook to pick up more coal and kindling supplies and decided to devote the rest of the day to starting a new crochet project. I had been working on a blanket with a pretty simple pattern; it had got to about the size of a cot blanket when I realised that the sides weren't equal.  The blanket was wider at the top than the bottom; a trapezoid shape instead of a square! It was a basic error on my part and as I'm an experienced crocheter I shouldn't have made such a rookie error. Unless I ripped it apart it wasn't possible to correct it so it will go to a charity when all this is over. My new blanket of choice is the 'Neat Waves' pattern (again thanks to Attic24 HERE). I've made this pattern before about 5 years ago for the youngest grandson (see below). I still have a fair bit of blue wool to use up and  an almost full basket of green so the blanket will be a mixture of those colours.

Lazy Waves or Neat Waves blanket for Amari 2015

Jacket Challenge - Day 6

Sunday was the usual housework and cooking Sunday dinner and I finally finished 'The Mirror and the Light'. Goodbye, Thomas.  A brilliant read. Nuff said.

Everything charity shopped except leggings; retail; Joe Brown. M&S boiled wool jacket 1.00 rail; White Stuff dress; my Barnardos. All jewellery and scarf charity shopped except brooch; bought in Donegal Town and is the work of an Irish jewellery maker.

Brown boots charity shopped in my Barnardo's.

Jacket Challenge - Day 7

All jewellery charity shopped.

Monday's outfit. No charity shop to go to. I'm wondering if I'll start to get withdrawal symptoms with no charity shops to rummage in but on the other hand I'll save quite a lot of money!
Everything charity shopped except these old grey boots; online retail. The trousers are by Next and came from The Day Hospice Shop in Kempston; animal print tunic (Scandinavian label)
and jacket; both 1.00 rails finds. The animal print tunic has been re-donated; it was way too itchy!

I went for a 7 mile walk in the afternoon; it was a chilly windy day and it did rain briefly; but as I hadn't walked over the weekend, I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. Not many people about, but an increased police presence; several cars cruised past me; but as I was going like the clappers and wearing walking boots and socks I think it was obvious what I was up to...

Today it was the food bank as usual. Just the three of us again and making up crates like crazy. Apparently at one of the distribution centres the demand for food parcels had increased by 50%.

Everything charity shopped except the boots.  Handmade African print trousers from the 3:16 charity shop bought for 2.50.  I wore thermal tights underneath! Top by M&S and cardigan from 1.00 rail in the RSPCA,Ampthill. Scarf from my Barnardo's.

All jewellery charity shopped.

My bags for the charity shop are filling up. I'm on the second one at the moment and have nowhere to store it so I might have to keep it in my car boot. So far, I haven't had any longings for a rummage and even if I do I'll just have to curb them!  The birds in my garden are busy nesting; lots of twig carrying and their appetites seem voracious. As fast as I top up the feeder they empty them. This afternoon I intend to get on with my crochet; start another new book and generally potter around. I may even get out for a walk.

Stay sane and safe my friends and I'll see you all in a fortnight!


  1. The book sounds interesting. I shall look out for it - online of course as all our shops and libraries are now closed.
    I love the idea of charity shop panic buying!

    1. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction but this- and the other two in the trilogy are wonderful!

  2. I loved Wolf hall so no doubt I'd love The Mirror and The Light. Maybe I'll find one in the chazzas when everything retruns to normal!
    Some gorgeous outfits here, my favourites have to be the one with the Mango oriental print top, so fabulous and the African printed trousers. I had to giggle when I read about your skirt being decimated by the axe!
    I was only saying to a friend earlier about how we can find things to do for months - cleaning ('cos neither of us do much of it), cooking, sewing, reading, gardening, craft stuff...the list is endless.
    Hope the food banks are okay for donations in these trying times, huge respect for you and your team for keeping them going.
    Stay safe, stay sane and stay fabulous! xxxx

    1. Yes you would love it, Vix, I'm sure. I would happily post you my copy; but if you want to sample it or even listen to the whole (adapted) version; BBC Radio 4 are serialising it last week and this over 9 episodes.

      The foodbank has plenty of donations and both Morrisons and Tesco have pledged to give them a whole heap of cash...

      Thank you for your lovely comments!

  3. so sad that this pretty skirt got killed! :-(
    and so fast... hm.
    but as we know, there are plenty others in your wardrobe - and we learn: lots of jackets too! fabulous, chic jackets of all color, shape and style - and you did style them perfectly.
    here its much to cold to work in the garden, mostly around and under zero - i just do small walks every 2.day and pottering around the house. no mojo to do clothing shots because a can´t see the thick winter stuff anymore - but i need to wear it still..... BUT - i did some spring sewing, so when the weather is warming up - i´m prepered!

    1. Yes, the skirt is sterben! Hopefully the weather will warm up soon and you can get out in the garden AND wear your lighter weight wardrobe!

      Thank you, Beate.

  4. I LOVE the Mango top! It's gorgeous. I'm glad you are managing to get a walk in, we have been trying to go out and walk around the block each day just to get some fresh air. I took one huge bag of stuff to a charity shop just before they all shut and I already have another full bag. Several of my friends have been sorting out too for something to do, I think they may well be overwhelmed when they finally reopen!

    1. Yes I think we'll be totally inundated with donations when this is all over but better charity shops than land fill!

      Glad to hear you're venturing out - I think it's so important.

  5. Oh, no, your skirt got the axe! Sorry to hear that - it was a lovely broomstick style. I always enjoy all your colourful outfits, Vronni, and your accessorizing is always aces. So, how did you find your jacket challenge? 15 jackets/blazers doesn't seem like that many (I'm sure I have about 50).

    I can't see myself running out of things to do - I've barely even made a dent in the reading, cleaning (not a high priorty!), TV shows, drawing and walks I want to do. This is not so terrible for those of us with hobbies!

    1. I'm halfway through the challenge, Sheila, so the rest will be in my next post. I can't tell you how glad I am that you have more jackets than me. I find counting my clothes always makes more critical of them and helps weed out the less liked...

      Enjoy your enforced leisure!

  6. Although I haven't read The Mirror and the Light, I've read some of her other books. I've been reading plenty now there's little time for anything else. I might take you up on that jacket challenge. I have many of those too. The problem is where to wear them to, I guess :-) Glad to read that you were able to go an a couple of walks. And that you found no less than 3 berets! Yay! Love the Mango top! As I'll be working less now - which frankly speaking I find a relief - I'll have time on my hands, but I certainly won't be bored. Tackling the garden continues but so far we haven't been able to find anywhere to buy new plants. Strangely enough I haven't had rummage cravings either, and I too have several bags ready for the charity shops, which I expect will only increase once I start the clearing up sessions I've planned! Stay safe, Vronni xxx

    1. think challenges are a good way to make me wear as much as I can of my wardrobe and I like jackets.

      I'm sure it must be lovely if you work full time as you do; to have some time off and focus on the things you like doing. I hope you are still receiving your pay. Now you'll know what retirement feels like!

      Stay safe and take care, Ann,

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  8. I like your tulle skirt; it's very ballerina-like.

    It's good that you're able to keep in touch with your family via WhatsApp and Zoom. My brother has a group to keep everyone updated on what my nephew's doing, and it's nice to see everyone chatting together. I'm also having a daily Google Hangout with one of my mag teams and it's a real sanity-saver.

    Your garden is going to look amazing!

    1. Thanks, Mim!

      OH started his furlough yesterday and was in the garden all day yesterday and today - it is going to look good!

  9. Love to read about your activities, and glad that you still can go for a walk and work at the food bank. I'm missing the street markets, my walks and going to the public library!, but I have plenty of books (and crafts) at home to keep me entertained!
    Lovely outfits, and so fabulous that you've started this new challenge. For sure, it makes things interesting!
    Love particularly all those brooches that you've been styling so nicely on your jackets, such a fab detail. And I have a weakness for black&white outfits, I think you rock them, and the Day5 outfit looks really elegant, I like those trousers shape!
    Love all the patterns and prints and interesting textures and your talent to make them work!, you're brilliant!.
    Such a fab color combo in Day#6, elegantly matchy!. Also love your african print trousers, so cool!
    Sorry that the maxi skirt suffered an 'ax-cident!' (sorry for the bad joke) ;DD
    Wish you keep yourself safe!

    1. Ha ha! That's a great joke, Monica! Sheila said it has been 'axed'!!

      Thank you for your comments you are very kind. I'm glad you've got plenty to do at home because I know that unlike us you cannot go out for walks.

      Please God it will soon improve for us all.

  10. This will be a very difficult time for everyone in one way or another and I hope you and your family are able to get through it quickly and easily. Our foodbanks are overwhelmed with people lined up for hours and hours around the street. School is out, and for some children breakfast and lunch that's supplied at school is all they get. Volunteers have been keeping up with distributing food for a week at a time, but who knows how long that will be able to keep up? I really hopw when this is done that we all take a good hard look at the need for a better social safety net. Maybe we'll learn something from this time.

    I've never heard of a skirt being brought down by axe, but it does make a great story! So many great outfits this time around. It will e interesting to see you with grown out hair. I'm resisting the temptation to trim mine because if you can't let your hair go wild in a lockdown, when can you?

    Stay safe and well!

    1. If we don't learn from this experience and behave in a better, caring and more humane fashion then we deserve everything we get!!

      I am dreading the hair growth; the heavier my grows the more my bald spots will exposed - aaargh!!

      Stay safe and I can see from IG you've been cooking up a storm!

  11. This post cheered me so much! It's wonderful to be reminded that we're all in this together and it's okay to still love fashion and the art of living well. I especially liked your three piece black and white pattern mixing outfit. Here in Vancouver I have been doing well but kinda hit a wall yesterday when it was announced that this could go to summer! I feel better already this morning, having perused your post. I miss the most my 3 year old twin granddaughers, (although I have read to them on FaceTime) and thrifting (rummaging). I love me a good destination walk and I still have Christmas money in my pocket too. ~ sigh ~ I know we need to be content with nature walks and the fresh air. We're blessed to have everything we need. Thanks for sharing your full and happy life with us. xo karen

    1. Oh thank you, Karen. Your lovely comments cheered me up too!

      Such a shame about not being able to see your grand daughters but thank goodness for social media and technology.

      You're very good to still have Christmas money left. I'm wondering if the online branches of our big charity companies are still operating; Oxfam and Cancer Research spring to mind. I must check them out!

      Stay safe, Karen.

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  13. Hi there vronni, I am not getting your blogs any longer I did send my email again but still not received anything. Had to look this up on Google

  14. Hi Polly.

    Sometime early last year (I think or even in 2018) Google something or other stopped this alerting people to new blog posts.

    I post every fortnight on a Tuesday if that helps. I'll putting up an odd extra post duri g this lockdown but the next scheduled post will be for 14th April.

    Keep safe.

  15. Thanks got this one, I subscribed to you for ages then suddenly wasn't getting anything cant remember when it stopped I just thought you had stopped blogging,I think it was around the time you went to Ireland, but I lost track of most of last year due to an operation and treatment In was having. Nearly back to normal now.

    1. Polly,

      Glad you're back and back to normal - what a strange normal we're all in now!

  16. Very strange, last year when I could go out I was unable most of the time,this year now able there's nowhere to go.!!