Monday, 22 June 2020

Covid Chronicles Weeks 12 and 13; My New Normal...and some brooches

At this point we were in week 12 of the lockdown with the following week beginning to see the start of a return to 'normal' life; as all non essential shops would be allowed to open. Tuesday should have seen me taking my car to Bletchley to finally sort the oil leak; but my neighbour knocked on my door at 9am to tell me my car window had been smashed in. Someone had broken into my car and the other neighbour's car (we were parked side by side) using a large stone; and had tried to start the cars using a screwdriver. I found the blade of the screwdriver in my car and my other neighbour found the handle of the screwdriver in his. What a total pain it was contacting the  insurance; the police; clearing up the mess. It wasn't possible to get the window repaired until Friday so I had to find somewhere else to park it safely and of course I didn't get to Bletchley at all but had to rearrange for Thursday.

Tuesday was the first nice day in a few days; warm, with bursts of sunshine. I took my car and parked it at my daughter's for safe keeping then I walked whilst youngest grandson rode his bike; first to his Dad's where he was spending the night then I walked home. That was 4 miles walked and in the day I walked into town twice and back again to go to Wilco's for more bird food and other bits so that was another 3 miles walked 7 in total.

On Wednesday I was back at the charity shop.

Sorry, the light was strange in the spare bedroom
 today!
Everything charity shopped except the shoes online retail. Top by Joules and trousers by Papaya; both from my Barnardo's. I had planned to walk home from the charity shop which is why I wore these shoes but it was raining quite heavily when I left so OH picked me up instead. A much cooler, wetter day.


The shop was looking the cleanest and tidiest I'd ever seen it. The manager had been busy scrubbing and cleaning. We set up a hand sanitising station at the entrance; put tape on the floor to demarcate social distance barriers and erected the 'sneeze' screen at the till. We also designated a special area both front and back for new donations which have to be quarantined for 72 hours before we can sort them. I then spent the rest of the time replenishing the men's section which involves hanging items on hangers; adding the right size cube to the hanger; making out a price tag and attaching tag to the item. 


Scarf and jewellery all charity shopped.

I had quite an adventure on Thursday. I drove my car minus the front passenger window to Bletchley. The part it needed had to be sent from Luton so rather than wait around all day I set off for Bletchley bus station which, luckily for me, was about a 5 minute walk away. Using my free bus pass I was able to get a bus into Central Milton Keynes, which looked like a ghost town, and from there a bus back to Bedford. I felt a bit nervous getting on public transport as the last time I'd been on a bus was the 20th March; but the first thing I did when I got home was to wash my hands as thoroughly as I could and then wash them again.  If I had known I would travel by public transport I would have brought my gloves and facemask with me. I needn't have worried as the most passengers on the bus at any one time were 5; and 2 of those were on the upper deck!


These are the second pair of loose trousers I picked up in Bedford market last week and have a deep purple background. I have a purple shirt which would go well with them but it's in the caravan in Ireland! Top charity shopped and charity shopped shoes by Hotter.


Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.


OH and I went to do the food shopping when I got back and then we set out at 4pm to pick up my car -  oil leak now fixed. 

On Friday, I finally got my car window replaced. The next thing to do will be to take the car to a car wash and treat it to its twice annual wash! As we live on a street with double yellow lines we can't park it outside the house and wash it ourselves - our traffic wardens are very efficient and would slap a ticket on it within a couple of minutes...


It was a strangely warm day on Friday despite being quite windy and with several down pours. I didn't get out for a walk through a combination of not wanting to get caught  in a downpour and sheer laziness.

I changed these shoes for Mary Janes but too late for the photos. Everything charity shopped except the leggings which were a George sale buy.


Tunic H&M; waistcoat/topper unknown but both charity shopped. Shoes by Clarks; charity shopped.
Hair is driving me mad. It's neither one thing nor t'other. It's neither short nor long. It's neither straight nor curly. How I hate it and can't wait for 4th July. This is the back:



The plants in the garden continue to bloom and delight. It's part of my morning ritual before I feed the birds to walk around the garden and check out what's new. The oriental lilies have gone mad; and even though the fuchsias in the front window box are reluctant to burst into bloom; the ones in the hanging basket aren't.


The hydrangea at the front has several blooms whilst the sweet pea continues to climb and has 5 different colour flowers so far. I just adore the smell of sweet peas. The canna lilies are doing well. With the garden in mind, OH and I went to the garden centre on Friday afternoon. I was on a delphinium hunt but wasn't successful. I shall phone the other garden centre we used before they were allowed to reopen to see if they have any - my fingers were tightly crossed...

Saturday was a beautifully warm sunny day. Such a contrast to last Saturday when we had thunderstorms, hail and rain! I went for a 8.7 mile walk along the river towards the village of Willington. On the way back I stopped at the market for fruit and veg and went to the bakers for a loaf of granary bread - my favourite. There were fewer people in town than  on a 'normal' Saturday but still pretty busy.

Day 1 - White top Challenge 
I have quite a few white tops (about 8 in total, I think)  so I am planning to give them all a whirl over the  next few days; another challenge you might say! 

This was my outfit on Saturday:


Everything is charity shopped. Trousers by Monsoon; shirt by Kaleidoscope; walking shoes by Clarks.


Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.


If the weather stays as nice as Saturday's I'll be able to paint my brooch collection chest of drawers. It's an old IKEA set of drawers bought years ago and used to store crochet patterns.


I don't have much in the way of fancy wrapping paper or wallpaper. I don't really like wall paper and most of the wrapping paper I had was for boys birthdays with space rockets or footballers on it. Once the shops have re-opened on Monday; I can have a better look round for some pretty paper.  I used an old bath mat cut up to line the drawers and as it has holes it's handy to stick the pins in to display the brooches. Meanwhile I'll show you what is inside:


These are the enamelled brooches and the ceramic brooches in my collection. The mustard/pearl and the blue/pearl are from the British Heart Foundation; they sometimes have their own retro style brooches for sale. Below the blue and pearl brooch is probably the brooch I've had for longest. It has a mosaic pattern which is then enamelled and has the old 'C' clasp. I've had it for so long I don't remember where I got it from but I've had for more than 25 years. The blurry oval brooch below that is plastic and has the silhouette of a woman  on it; it's tricky to see because of the light reflection.  This was my most recent brooch acquisition from the Bedford Daycare Hospice shortly before lockdown began. On the bottom row I have an oval scenery brooch with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Ann at Polyester Princess HERE has a similar one and it is thanks to her I'm featuring my brooch collection. She's been showing off her brooch collection on IG so check it out! All my brooches have been bought in charity shops, car boot sales, from Etsy or presents.


This is the 'gold', old and animal brooch collection. I have several more brooches but some are pinned on jackets and some on my winter coats which are packed away in the loft! Most of the first row is made up of gold coloured brooches. I have two (2nd row extreme right) that feature galleon type boats. My favourite among these gold brooches is the green and gold brooch on the top row; extreme right. It reminds me so much of brooches worn by women in the 60s when I was growing up. The third and fourth rows are my 'old' brooches. The circular brooch with a separate thinner outer circle is Edwardian; I think looking at the style and the clasp - trumpet type. The pattern on the brooch has mostly rubbed away but it has slightly raised texture. It's real silver and I bought it in the 3:16 charity shop for 5.00. Between the two cameo brooches is an Art Noveau style brooch in the shape of a swan resting its head on its back; and the stone is a topaz colour not red as it looks in this photo. This one is  not hallmarked but the the oval and mother of pearl one above it is; and the bar brooch with the small green stone has no hallmark either.  There is a small bar brooch with a floral oval  between the two cameos and I saw a similar on Etsy described as Victorian. The smaller cameo brooch has a link that enables it to be hung from a chain and turned into a pendant.  The square pewter brooch with the green stone described as ' Art Deco Ruskin style' was part of my birthday present this year from my son. It was bought from Etsy.  The elongated yellow coloured triangle is also very Art Deco; I think. On the bottom two rows are the animal brooches including insects and fish. The two dragonfly brooches were my mums and I've never worn them. The smaller butterfly brooch came attached to a jacket I bought in a charity shop. Oh dear, it looks like the bear has come unstuck....


This is the floral/leaves brooch collection although a couple don't fit into any category! The top row features brooches made out of velvet, felt, leather, and a zip! I have a Celtic ring type brooch and two thistle brooches; all very reminiscent of what women were wearing in my childhood. There are a couple of ceramic flower brooches; the large green oval features some embroidered flowers and on the bottom row second from the beginning is a micro mosaic brooch. From spending quite a lot of time on Etsy lately these are all described as dating from the 1950s; although I know the micro mosaic type brooches can date back to the Victorian era.  I can't really buy anymore brooches as I have run out of space to store them. I'll try to remember that when I'm next rummaging in a charity shop or a car boot sale!


On Sunday my daughter, her partner and both my grandsons came for Sunday dinner in the garden. Another very warm day with lots of sunshine. I went for a 5 mile walk along the river in the direction of Great Denham.


Everything charity shopped except the scarf which is a Mary Quant one. My cousin's daughter found it on ebay for me and gave it to me for a birthday present - thank you Katherine!


Behind me you can see my bag packed for Ireland -  I've had it packed since February expecting to travel at Easter. I bought this tunic at Barnardo's and I think the jeans by Next came from there, too. My ruby slippers on the other hand, came from a charity shop in Co. Meath, Ireland.

Monday was week 13 of lockdown: although I think it's probably better now described as semi lockdown. Today all shops are able to open officially. Pubs, restaurants and cafes are only open for take aways. We can't visit other people in their homes -  only in their gardens or in other outside spaces and only up to 6 people in total. Some children have returned to school; others haven't. Some people have returned to work, some people continue to work from home and some people; like my eldest grandson's girlfriend have lost their jobs and have to find new ones. It's still strange times in the main.  Whatever it is it's my new normal.

This was Monday's outfit:


Everything charity shopped. Dress by Zara from the 3:16 charity shop; jacket  with French label; from when we had a Age UK in town -  I've had it for at least ten years. Clogs by Seasalt charity shopped in Devon.


Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.


Monday was the charity shop 's first official opening day. Our normal opening hours are 9 to 5pm; but 10 to 4pm are the new opening hours and no weekend opening. It was manic in the shop on Monday. So many donations we had stop them at about 3pm for the day. Lots of customers in (only 5 allowed in the shop at any time and both front door and back doors open) and lots of things sold. I volunteered from 10 to 3pm and was in need of a good sit down when I got home!

Tuesday was another sultry day and off to the food bank for me. We did everything that needed to be done and got off half an hour earlier. Unfortunately, when I was bending to retrieve a tin from a low shelf something went in my back; a muscle I think. It was very painful later on in the day and I had to take some Ibuprofen. It was painful to sit and painful to get up again. It also became painful to walk!


Everything charity shop except mustard trousers from La Redoute sale years ago. Linen jacket as before; top by M&Co; shoes from Donegal charity shop.


Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.


After doing the housework; OH and I set off for a stroll around town to see what shops had opened and what hadn't. Not a single charity shop was open! There were quite a few people about but of course good weather always brings people out. When I was at the charity shop yesterday OH went to B&M; it's his new favourite shop and he bought the dianthus below and planted them up in this recycled watering can that used to leak everywhere.


 This old plastic one also leaked so that's been repurposed and these fuschias are blooming. The ones at the front are almost ready; I check everyday to see if they have bloomed but so far, not.

Back to the charity shop on Wednesday. Busy, busy, busy! But first of all I picked the youngest grandson up from his Dad's and took him to school. My back pain had persisted and I was most comfortable standing up. By now I had progressed to an anti-inflammatory tablet I was prescribed when I hurt my knee a couple of years ago. It still hurt to walk; but as it rained for most of the day I didn't miss my walk at all. We also had quite a lot of thunder and it was very humid. When I emerged from the charity shop to the outside it was like walking into a warm, steamy bathroom. I collected youngest grandson up from school and took him home.


Everything charity shopped. Dress; no label; jacket M&S; shoes by Clarks.



Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

The rain continued on Thursday. I got up put a wash on and went to do the food shopping. I visited Lidl, Aldi and the bg Sainsbury's where I queued for a few minutes to get in.  I needed a red cabbage which is why I went to all three supermarkets but there were none to be found. Then it was home, unpack the shopping and bake a birthday cake for my youngest grandson who was celebrating his 10th birthday. He's delighted to be in double figures. They all came to my house and we sang happy birthday and gave grandson his presents. He stays with me on Thursday nights as there is only half day at school on Fridays. Whilst the lockdown is till in existence he will stay with me on Fridays and he will be picked up by his mum or dad when they finish work.

Day 2 - White top Challenge

I picked this top up at Barnardo's on Wednesday. I like the shape of it. The top is by MisLook; trousers retail (old) Tu at Sainsbury's; shoes from a Donegal charity shop. Hair was freshly washed so it wasn't looking too bad. Thursday's outfit.




All jewellery charity shopped including the bracelet which was also picked up in Barnardos on Wednesday.


It rained for most of Thursday ( the garden was very grateful and it saved OH from his evening watering ritual).  My back still hurt when I walked so no walks were done. 

Jacket/Kimono Challenge - Day 21 and White Top Challenge - Day 3

Yes, I'm doing two challenges simultaneously. I need to keep myself amused!


Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Quiz; my Barnardo's; top by M&S 1.00 rail somewhere; jacket by ; can't remember. Shoes by Clarks.


Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped. On several occasions I've almost put this jacket in the charity shop bag; but always relent. I like the diagonal stripe/animal print effect on it. I've had it for about four or five years, I think.


In my hunt for a red cabbage on Friday I decided to go to Waitrose in Ampthill. If anywhere would have a red cabbage it would be there. We have a Waitrose in Bedford; but in Ampthill their Waitrose is right next to Barnardos....say no more! I queued for ten minutes to get into Waitrose and they didn't have a red cabbage; in fact they hadn't had any red cabbages for weeks. You can't say I didn't try. I like to make coleslaw with red cabbage when I can get it. In Waitrose, I did manage to pick up a Foxglove plant reduced to 2.79. OH will work his magic on it and encourage it to produce more flowers.

  Talking of flowers we have a new rose that smells divine. I can't tell you its name because the rain has washed the label information away. The lupins are popping up everywhere. The sweet peas are proliferating and the geraniums in the hanging baskets are looking luscious.



As for the geraniums in the front window box they are just about ready; I've been waiting weeks for them to bloom!

Anyhow,  I digress. Barnardos was an oasis of calm and I bought an Eastex dress (too big and gone  into charity shop bag); and a black and white jacket by Next  - both from the 1.00 rail. I also bought 2 necklaces; I red and 1 grey; a book about women in the 1920s; a book of vintage crochet afghans and two pairs of  new striped bamboo socks for the middle grandson at only 1.00 each pair. The best bargain of all was a floppy hat with a floral trim from Jigsaw for 1.00! It felt very good to have a rummage and there were only two other customers in the shop. I had two bags of donations to give in; one was mine and the other was my daughters; but because of having to quarantine the donations they had run out of room and weren't taking any more donations.


It had started out rainy on Friday and rained off and on all day; although by late afternoon the sun came out and it brightened up a lot. I should have gone for a walk as my back was feeling a lot better. I had a book I was keen to finish so made a vow to do two long walks over the weekend especially as better weather was on its way... but I took grandson out for a walk to our little local nature reserve. in the afternoon.  The entrance to it is in the middle of an ordinary residential street; it was set up by local residents in the early 1990s. I've been taking all three grandsons here since they were tiny; for blackberrying and to see what's in the ponds. Lately, we've been keeping our eyes on the ponds and were hoping we'd see frogs and newts; but all we saw today were more tadpoles. In another few weeks there will frogs and newts - we just need to be patient. I thought the lilies in the pond  looked gorgeous and there were lots of wild sweet peas around. A lady I got chatting to told me they were called everlasting sweet peas and that they have no scent. Nevertheless, I picked myself a small bunch. 


On Saturday, I got up and went for a 9 mile walk. It was bright, dry and very warm at times. I have a new route in mind which I got inspiration for on today's walk and I can't wait to get out next week and recce it. The house is filled with flowers at the moment. I'm sorry I didn't cut the stocks and put them in a vase too; but they're almost finished now. From L to R. Lavender from the garden, everlasting sweet peas from the nature reserve; bottom row; sweet peas from our garden and peonies from Lidl. Apparently, you need to cut the sweet peas back so will they flower again and again through to August. The source of this information was none other than Monty Don! (A well known TV gardener and garden journalist for those who don't know who he is).


Sunday was a lovely day; warm and a bit cloudy. In the morning OH and I went to Emmaeus. It opened last week and we were looking for more plant pots. Before they allowed us in they took our temperatures; that's a first for me!  I found two skirts and pair of sock boots for the winter. One of the skirts was 1.00; the boots were 1.00 and the other skirt was BNWT by M&S Per Una for 3.00. Original price 45.00! 

We went to my daughter's for a bbq in the afternoon which was very pleasant as we were all able to sit out in the garden. I picked up and dropped off one of my brothers from Kettering so had no time to walk on Sunday.

Week 14 of the semi lockdown started with me volunteering at Barnardos. We have changed our our opening hours (11 - 4pm) and opening days and are only taking donations on alternate days. This is to help us not to become overcrowded with donations and also because there is only one volunteer  - me and the manager. The shop will be closed on Wednesdays so I won't be able to volunteer on that day so its back to Mondays only. The assistant manager should be returning at the end of June. This was Monday's outfit:

White top Challenge - Day 4
(I know it's not white all over!)


Everything charity shopped. Top from Bedford Daycare Hospice; H&M trousers; shoes charity shopped in Ely, I seem to recall.


All jewellery charity shopped except necklace which was a present.


In the afternoon I went for my optician's appointment. I needed a new prescription and have new glasses on their way.

The 4th of July is heralding even more changes to our current semi-lockdown so I'll see you in a fortnight and in a  yet again changed world. Take care and stay safe!





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!