Monday 8 June 2020

Covid Chronicles - Weeks 10 and 11

Week 10 of lockdown saw me doing my usual volunteering slot on Tuesdays to the food bank. We made up a lot of food parcels and restocked the hygiene pack crates. When I got home I had to go into town as we needed essential toiletries and while I was in the shop (Savers) treated myself to a new lipstick. Little bits of normality like this keep me sane. I haven't really had to alter my lifestyle since lockdown very much because of being retired; and luckily I'm a homebody and happy in my own company. It's also been good for OH; who states he feel fully rested after  having had 9 weeks off so far! It has also been a good trial run of what retirement might look like for him. He gets his state pension this time next year so retiring is an option; but I think he will work for long as he can. He is now on furlough until the end of July - he was officially informed today and is awaiting written confirmation.

Everything charity shopped. Linen dress by Laura Ashley; jacket by Rosie; shoes by Clark's.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

It was yet another beautiful, hot sunny day on Tuesday. According to the latest announcements outdoor markets and car showrooms can open on 1st June but non essential shops can't open until 15th June and then only if they can be Covid ready.  My daughter returns to work on  a full time basis on 15th June; my grandson returns to school on the same date and his Dad has returned to work this week. Both mum and dad will have changed hours of work because of the virus;  and I will be needed to take youngest grandson to school on a Wednesday and to look after him all day Friday. Having been mostly totally free of commitments since the lockdown began I don't quite know yet how I feel about this;  but I expect it will fall into a rhythm quite quickly and I'll adapt.

Bloody corona hair!

I set out early on a Wednesday for a walk. I woke up early and thought I'd get out before it got too hot. It was still hot when I was walking but it was a lovely walk with the air full of birdsong. I walked another 7 miles doing the same walk as on Monday but in reverse. I need to recce some new walks ready for when we can walk in groups again. This week I would have been leading as bus walk on Friday and I hadn't even recce'd the route! Just as well it's not going ahead now...

I wore this (with walking shoes). Everything charity shopped except the trousers bought in Tesco outlet about four years ago. They've been banished to the charity shop bag; the zip keeps sliding down and I've had enough of them. Top by M&S; clogs by Sea Salt.
Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I spent some time sorting out my wardrobe and selecting outfits to wear for the next few days. I find it really helpful to know exactly what I'm going to wear everyday. It also helps me  make sure I don't keep wearing the same things and try out new things. As the trouser zip was so bloody annoying I changed into this kaftan. I wear it a lot around the house in the summer when its too hot and I can't be bothered to wear clothes. The difference here is that I've got my PJs on underneath for warmth....and my glasses. I wear glasses all the time at home. I know my eyesight has deteriorated over the last few years; and I had an appointment at the opticians the first week of the lockdown which was cancelled. Along with a hairdresser's appointment and an optician's appointment; these are the two most important things on my post-lockdown to do list! I read that hairdressing salons can open again by July 4th so texted my hairdresser and asked her to put me down for an appointment on that day - I can't wait!

I bought this Kaftan in the 3:16 charity shop years ago.

The petunias are going mad at the front now and in the planter. Unfortunately, the Euphorbia did not take very well to being uprooted and replanted. It has wilted and withered away despite OH's care and attention.

. When I got up on Thursday I removed all the cushion covers off the sofas; washed and pegged them out to dry. I ironed them in the afternoon and replaced them. Thursday was also my weekly day out; shopping at Lidl and Aldi. It took me 1 hour and fifteen minutes from door to door and this was with queuing outside Lidl for at least 5 minutes. There was no queue at Aldi. It takes me about the same time in non lockdown times. I don't know about you but I find I am spending more on food shopping than before the lockdown. My weekly bill at Lidl is never less than 60 odd pounds now; whereas it used to even out around 42.00 before - unless I was buying alcohol. I'm not buying more alcohol either, so it's not that. I haven't noticed huge price increases in either shop; although a few things I buy regularly have gone up by a few pence. I am also buying more from Sainsbury's Local; and they do add between 10 and 15 pence onto items; but that is the price you pay for convenience. There are rarely any queues outside our Sainsbury's Local!

Everything charity shopped. Kushni skirt from Bedford Day Care Hospice; top from 1.00 rail by F&F; clogs by Seasalt. I found it hard to know what to wear with this skirt. I might try a plain black tee shirt and my coral coloured jacket next time. I love the pockets - all skirts and dresses should have pockets.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I'm reading the last of my Scandi Noir fiction 'Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow' which is a re-read for me. I also watched the film some years ago; catching it on TV unexpectedly one night. I'm enjoying 'A House Through Time' ; 'The Real Marigold Hotel'; 'Killing Eve'; 'The Great British Sewing Bee' and a news series of 'Cardinal' starts on BBC4 on 4th June so I shall be watching that. 

We've had more than a week now of glorious weather and it looks set to continue for another week at least. I'm so pleased. Everything is much more bearable when the sun shines. I went out for a 5 mile walk on Friday.

Everything is charity shopped except the red skirt by Simon Jeffery from a car boot sale. The top is by M&S and the Chinese embroidered slippers from the BHF. I don't like this skirt. From the first time I wore it I wasn't sure about it and on its second wear I've made my mind up. Another item into the charity shop bag! I looked on ebay a few evenings back and found 2 nice maxi skirts which as yet haven't arrived. I'll be able to fit them in the wardrobe now...I rarely buy anything from ebay as I hate the bidding process but these were both 'buy it now'. I've only ever bid for 2 items on ebay and won both both more than 10 years ago! I still have the silver cardigan but the black strapless dress went to the charity shop ages ago.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

Friday's outfit. All I did was go for another walk - 6 miles. Sat in the garden under the shade of the umbrella; caught up with blogs and blogging and started a new book. But there was some news; the manager at the charity shop texted me to say she would be in the shop from 8th June; getting it ready to open to customers on 15th and that if I wanted to come in and help, I could. I will!  It seems like I will be back into my normal routine within a couple of weeks; school run/childcare; charity shop volunteering and of course I haven't stopped volunteering at the food bank.

Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Et Vous; spotted top by Marimekko; my Barnardo's; kimono by New Look.

Shoes by Clark's.

All jewellery and scarf charity shopped, too.

A rare glimpse of  my arms! 

I spent a lot of time in the garden watching the birds on the bird feeders. I've always had starlings in the garden and this year there is a very large vociferous brood. Some of the juveniles can feed themselves but squawk at mum (or dad) until they feed them, too. The jackdaws are also very noisy and particularly quarrelsome. I haven't seen too much of the wood pigeons which is just as well. They're very greedy and hog one of the feeders to the exclusion of almost every other bird; and when they fight it's very aggressive and noisy with a lot of heavy beating of wings. Meanwhile the blue tits, coal tits, dunnocks and the occasional sparrow are enjoying the suet blocks I've been putting out as well as two types of seeds and fat balls. I also have a magpie or two who visit daily; blackbirds, robins and great tits.  Two collared doves come regularly and they eat side by side in a very amicable manner. Rarer visitors include green finches;  a goldfinch; a black cap and once a sparrow hawk!

My second pot of rhododendrons has bloomed.

I managed a very short walk in the evening 1.8 miles when it had cooled down; but on Sunday I set out to recce a new walk and walked 10 miles. It is too long for a Rambler's Wednesday walk but I did enjoy walking a new route and using the map to find out where I was. It got very hot but there was a good breeze which helped. I was glad to sit down when I got back; the heat makes walking harder. My walking total for this week was 32 miles. 

My book total for May was 18 books; I've only managed this once before when I was on holiday in Ireland!

Week 11 of lock down saw me going to the bank for the first time since the restrictions began. I waited for 30 minutes in the queue; that's the longest I've queued to get into any shop so far!  I went onto Wilco as I needed more bird food and queued there for about 5 minutes. I picked up a couple of plants while I was there.

This was Monday's outfit. Jeans by Evans retail from Debenhams sale. Charity shopped top by Gudrun Sjoden and clogs by Seasalt. Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

My eyebrows also need doing; I usually get them waxed and tinted around the same time as my monthly hair appointment. They're ok and seem to be growing back quite slowly; but the silver ones are more prominent now. I don't mind silver hair but I don't want silver eyebrows! I do have eyebrow make up so that's disguising the silver ones at the moment.

In the late afternoon OH and I went for a walk around Ampthill Park and visited Houghton House which is an old ruin in Ampthill. Houghton House was built in the 16th century for the Duchess of Pembroke; Mary Herbert nee Sidney was 'one of the first English women to achieve a major reputation for her poetry and literary patronage'. (Wikipedia). The house is also said to be the origin of 'House Beautiful' in Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. 

Ampthill Park was one of Henry VIII's hunting grounds; and the site of Ampthill Castle where Katherine of Aragon was imprisoned; is marked with a cross and known as Katherine's Cross.

This thatched cottage in Ampthill had the most beautiful cottage  garden which my photos don't do justice.

This house known as 'Wisteria Cottage' has really old wisteria; look at the thickness of those wisteria branches.

Jacket/Kimono Challenge - Day 19

Off to the food bank on Tuesday.  I spent the time unpacking donations and finding places to put them.

Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Et Vous as before; top by H&M and jacket by Roman 1.00 rail about 6 years ago in Age UK, Wellingborough. Clogs by Bjorn; Cat's Protection League.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

In the afternoon OH and I went to the Manor Gardens in Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire; about 25 miles from Bedford. As part of the lockdown easing some gardens have been opened to the public again. The Manor was originally a Norman house and has been continuously inhabited since 1130. Part of it was rebuilt in the 18th century; but most of the Norman house remains intact despite various changes over nine centuries. The house was famously recreated as the house in 'Green Knowe'; a series of much loved children's books written by Lucy Boston. Lucy Boston bought the house in 1939 and was also famous for her beautiful quilts which are displayed in the house. When the house reopens in the future we want to go back and visit it. I love any form of textile art so will look forward to seeing the quilts among other things.
Various views of the house. It was an enchanting place to visit on a hot summer's day; the air full of the drone of bees and hum and buzz of insects; The air was perfumed with the most amazing smells. Lucy Boston laid out the garden and it is particularly renowned for its collection of over 200 old roses and irises.
Some of the many beautifully scented herbaceous borders.

This rather lovely statue stood outside one of the gable ends.
It's the sort of garden I like best. Although it is much larger than a cottage garden; it looks like one and has very little formal garden features although here are some lawns and some rather nice Coronation topiary. It has a 'wild' feel and there were plenty of rather pretty weeds and patches of wild flowers.  There is a huge variety of plants and a lot of scented ones. Little paths led to secret corners (see picture below bottom left); and one garden path led to a gate that led to a towpath by the River Great Ouse. Below is a house viewed from the towpath and below right another beautiful house close to the Manor.
It was a really enjoyable afternoon out. There were only another 4 or 5 people visiting so it was easy to keep apart and socially distance.

The front and back of a thatched cottage and All Saint's Church; Hemingford Grey.

Meanwhile back in our garden...

Our first clematis flower of the year and the first of the canna lilies. I've been eating strawberries everyday with my breakfast and the raspberries are almost ready, too.

I was up early on Wednesday as I had to take my car to Bletchley 20 miles away to get the oil leak sorted. When I got there their specialist technician who was assigned to look at my car was still on furlough; and they had tried since Monday to contact me to let me know - they had the wrong phone number! I have to take it back next week and they've offered me 25% off for the inconvenience. Luckily, I am hardly using the car at all at the moment.

Apart from my jewellery and the scarf; nothing is charity shopped. That makes a change. The jacket was bought in the Beales sale several years ago; the dress was bought last year from Bedford Market and the shoes; online retail.

When I got back from Bletchley; I went to town to the post office; and as the market has reopened had a quick wander through. I shouldn't have; I bought two pairs of loose summer trousers from the stall that sells all the imperfect garments really cheaply. I couldn't decide between red or purple trousers so bought both! My skirts have arrived from ebay so I have some new to me items to wear. The weather was much cooler and there was no sun - such a contrast to the past fortnight. It had felt as if summer was here to stay. In the early evening I went out for a 5 mile walk and soon after I got in we had rain; not for long but it's been a while since we had any.

Daughter was back at work this week for one day so I child minded youngest grandson on Thursday. He accompanied me to do the weekly shopping in Lidl and Aldi where there no queues at all! In the afternoon we did some of his school work. Friday was a strange day weather wise. It kept going overcast and there was rain  on several occasions - once just after I'd hung a wash out on the line. It was quite breezy as well. I had made plans to visit my friend Ann on Friday; we'd planned to sit in the garden and have a catch up. The weather might have made it difficult but she wasn't well on Friday so we cancelled and arranged for another day. 

Saturday was a miserable day. We had rain, wind and thunderstorm in the afternoon with lightning and hailstones. My weather app had said it would be a cool but dry day; and so I invited my brothers over for dinner which we had planned to eat outside in the garden. I picked them up from Kettering and it was lovely to see them. Unfortunately, Julian had made other plans but we'll see him pretty soon, I hope. I managed to go for a 5 mile walk before I drove to Kettering. I saw the parakeets again; this time in a different part of Bedford. I also saw a little tern skimming the surface of the river for insects and a goldfinch.

Linen shirt by Wallis charity shopped in my Barnardo's as was the yellow jumper. Trousers; Bedford market and shoes from local shoe retailer.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I got up early on Sunday and went for an 8 mile walk. I spent the afternoon organising and sorting out my brooch storage. I recovered the drawer fronts of an old IKEA mini chest of drawers (thanks to Vix for the idea) HERE; cut up an old non slip bath mat to line the drawers; and now I have storage where I can see all my brooches.  If I can make it to Wilco on Monday I'll pick up some tester pots of paint and paint the rest of the of the chest. I'll do a feature on it in my next blog post.  

This was Sunday's outfit and I tried tying my headscarf a different way:

This was the practice run on Saturday night - still in my PJs. I tied the knot at the back rather than on top of my head; plus I covered up my fringe...

Everything charity shopped except shoes; online retail and top last years buy from Bedford Market. Someone has almost invisibly mended a tear at the front - and it wasn't me! Next jeans; from my Barnardo's.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I cooked Sunday dinner and both grandchildren came round.

Week 12 of lockdown started with my first day back volunteering at Barnardo's. We organised the shop as far as we could to be Covid-19 ready. We are awaiting delivery of PPE; a screen and special tape amongst other things. I tagged a whole rail of clothes ready to go out on the shop floor once the shop is fully ready. I am only the person back plus the manager so will do another stint at the shop on Wednesday.

Skirt by Kaleidescope from ebay; shoes on line retail; top 1.00 rail and jacket from a Donegal charity shop.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

The first of the sweet peas bloomed today and they smell heavenly.

Take care everyone and see you in a fortnight!


  1. Your hair looks beautiful! You're definitely winning at lockdown hair. Your Kushni skirt works really well with that shirt. The colours are just right and the pattern mixing keeps it interesting.

    Screaming starlings are the worst. We have them as well and they start before sunrise. I want to go out there and scold them that if they're old enough to fledge they can feed themselves.

    I have never seen wisteria stems like that! What an incredible garden. Hope the next couple of weeks treat you well.

    1. Thanks Goody!

      That wisteria when in bloom is truly a sight to behold!

  2. Your hair looks absolutely gorgeous.
    I'm loving your clogs, the black and white outfit and how long your legs look in trousers. I remember you mentioning how you weren't keen on your arms but they look great in that sleeveless top.
    The Manor Gardens look wonderful as do all the blooms in your garden. I'm dying to see your revamped drawers when you've painted them. Wilko's sample pots go a long way.
    Fancy being back at the chazza. One of our friends got a call last night telling him to come back to work today, he's most disappointed and perplexed as to how he can sell furniture from the shop floor whilst social distancing and not allowing customers to lie on the beds or test out the comfort of sofas. Absolute madness.
    The bidding thing on ebay can be a pain. I always search Buy-it-Now first and if the seller is open to offers I'll send them a cheeky price, most will come back with a counter offer. With social distancing and not being able to inspect stuff in shops I'd much rather continue shopping virtually, I'm more likely to make an informed decision rather than impulse buy.
    Stay safe! xxx

    1. Thank you!

      No, I don't get the furniture shop thing either; most peculiar!

      I've got the paint just need to summon up the enthusiasm to paint the drawers - got car problems at the moment...

      Take care

  3. I echo the previous comments. Your lockdown hair looks very soft and pretty. I like it. Amphill looks like a place I would like to visit when we are allowed to travel off-island again. Maybe next year. Some great outfits again. I love that polka dot top. Who cares about arms!

    1. Ampthill is a very nice village and it has 3 charity shops, a Waitrose and weekly market.

      Thank you, JayCee!

  4. Regarding your hair, I can only agree with all of the other commenters so far. I think it looks gorgeous as it is! Like your OH, I've been treating my semi-furlough as a rehearsal for retirement, but although I still have quite a few years to go, I'm liking it very much. Definitely never going back full time! I always love seeing your daily outfits, Vronni, and I'm so glad that you are making the effort to dress up, unlike many other people. You're looking very glamorous in that first outfit with the linen Laura Ashley dress! Your garden looks fabulous, and how wonderful that you were able to visit those magnificent Manor Gardens! I'm sure it will take some time getting used to your new schedule after all this time without any commitments. Must be strange going back to the chazza, especially with all the regulations. Stay safe! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann.

      I thought you may have read 'The Green Knowe' books; I hadn't, and am debating whether to buy a couple on my Kindle. The thing about children's literature is I always feel there's enough adult literature for me to read without going into children's as well!

      Take care and enjoy your semi furlough for as long as you can...

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  6. the new way to tie a headscarf is a nice change!
    totally love the first outfit - lovely colors and proportions. and the look with the kushni skirt is a perfect combination and pattern mixing. oh - and black´n white is very elegant!!
    a dream of an english cottage - like a movie setting - miss marples home maybe ;-D the manor gardens is something i try to do in a smaller scale in mine - slowly i´m coming near.....
    i´m glad you both can see the positive in the lockdown - i know from some people that did go up the walls. since we have some openings a lot of people are frantic with shopping, traveling and meet ups. i stand in wonder.
    stay save my dear! xxxxx

    1. Beate,

      When I saw the Manor gardens I was so reminded of your garden!

      Thank you for the lovely comments.

      The villages of Ampthill and Hemmingford Grey are both reminiscent of St. Mary's Mead where Miss Marple lives...

      I am a very positive person, luckily, so it's second nature to look for the positive in things as is my OH!

      Take care,

  7. I love your hair scarf tied like that - it looks so good on you. Gosh, you have good skin. Some lovely outfits here! I really like those navy wide-legged trousers and your black/white mixed outfit. You did really well styling that pocketed skirt - I've had skirts like that and they can be really challenging to style for some reason.

    Your garden looks wonderful. I'm jealous of the strawberries and raspberries!

    1. Thank you, Sheila!

      Re my skin I can thank my good genes and a rigorous cleansing and moisturising regime since the age of 15 for that.

      I've been enjoying the strawberries and raspberries for the past week but hey're all gone now - the birds have been getting to them before me!

  8. Lovely outfits and lovely attitude!, Glad to read that you're managing lockdown well and that OH is taking it as a trial run of what retirement could be. I'm managing it better now that we can go for a walk (actually, shops are open and even pubs are opening now, which I think it's not sensible!). Not a problem for me to stay at home!
    Love you in red and warm colors, and love your Kushni skirt (pockets!), it looks fab with the striped top. Also love your black&white outfit, you rock monochrome ensembles!
    And I'm in love with the beautiful cottage and its fab wisteria, and Manor Gardens, wow!, so wonderful photos!
    Love your red floral dress and how you styled it, matchy and elegant!. Also love your jungle trousers and yellow top, fab color combo!
    I like both ways you tye your headscarves, you look fab in both of them!. I think it depends on how long your fringe is and if you want to show it!.
    Love to see your garden blooming and looking so lush!. Even if noisy birds can be annoying, they wake me up really early everyday!
    (I read the 'Miss Smila' book some time ago and loved it particularly!, thanks for making me remind it!)

    1. Its good to hear from you, Monica!

      I'm glad you're feeling better about going out now and I know you've been busy creating and cooking.

      Thank you for your lovely comments.

      Take care and stay safe

  9. Your flowers are doing well and your garden is just as colourful as you, my dear! I love that wall planting arrangement.
    In all my working life I'd never have imagined been paid to stay a home for and for So many months. This scenario could not have been ever envisaged. It's nice that OH has had a little taster of retirement, though true retirement doesn't come with all the current restrictions, so it will be much better than this furlough. You two have had some lovely days out in the area.
    What an amazing wisteria!
    Now I know you're desperate to get to the hairdresser but I'll say it again, I really like your lockdown hair. I like the soft curls and that more of your hair tumbles around your headscarves. I'll be sorry to see it disappear come hair appointment day!
    Hugs, Mary x.


    1. Yes, it seems unimaginable to have so much paid leisure time but as you say the restrictions limit it somewhat but I've never had any problems keeping my self amused.

      Thanks for your hair comments, Mary, but I just don't like it. I think it might be a lot better if I let it grow another few inches...but I can't hang on that long!

      Take care

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  11. Hi Vronni,I'm quite new to your blog, I found you via Vix, and am loving reading about your daily escapades! Your outfits are really beautiful, I am amazed at the quality of items you find in local cahrity shops, I live in Milton Keynes having moved here from the North East 5 years ago. Your head scarfs are great they make hair much easier to manage, especially now. I didnt know charity shops were open again will have to have a look around. The measures for infection control seem to be sensible so I hope the dreaded, "second wave" dosen't materialise. As an ex nurse and lecturer in health I appreciate how challenging it will be to make places safe but we must try to restart fashioning our way of living again. Your garden is lovely, so interesting and vibrant. I love how you use up items to plant in recycling is definitley the way forward. Lets hope we can use these pandemic restrictions to learn that we cant be so throw away in the future. Your positivity is really encouraging. Thanks for a lovely post. Shelagh

    1. Hello Shelagh and thank you for visiting my blog. You're just down the road from!

      Thank you for your lovely comments. I've only ever visited one charity shop in Milton Keynes (years ago) what are they like now?

      I agree with you completely about reusing items wherever possible ; in fact I'm a great believer in the 3rs - reduce, reuse and recycle.

      Hope you'll keep reading...

      Take care

    2. 'from me' - that should have said - oops!

  12. Another from Vix! What an amazing wardrobe and you rock. I also love the black and white outfit, it looks super chic - nothing wrong with arms. I used to be so conscious about my arms, must have sleeves then one day I thought bugger it, old ladies have old lady arms!


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