Covid Chronicles - Weeks 14 and 15 - The Final Stages?
Hello again! It was all change for us on in England on 4th July. The PM made an announcement on Tuesday 23rd June. The 2 metre social distancing rule will be relaxed to 1 metre plus. Cafes, pubs, restaurants, theatres (no live performances, though) hairdressers, outdoor gyms, places of workshop; can all open as long as they are Covid-19 ready. Holiday accommodation can reopen and we can now stay away from home overnight. I can start thinking about booking a ferry to Ireland for later this year; but I think I will have to self-isolate for 14 days once there; unless Ireland changes this directive.
White Top Challenge - Day 5
Tuesday 23rd June was the start of our heatwave. The food bank was nice and cool and I was the only one in this week. I did a lot of marking up where you put the use by date on tins, bottles and packets. Boring, but necessary...I wore my new floral loose trousers on Tuesday with a white ruffled top and forgot to take photos. The heat turns my brain to mush! As I was coming from the food bank which is situated on an industrial estate; I saw a pile of boxes by the road and a sign on the boxes saying 'Free - come and get some free crystal'. I didn't need to be asked twice! There were several people there already. I can only assume that the business was having a clearout or maybe even had to close permanently. What was on offer were a range of crystal glasses some of which had dates on from 1999. I took some wine glasses for us and some for grandson's mum. Later on in the evening despite the heat; I went for a 5 mile walk with my daughter along the river to Great Denham and Biddenham.
This was Wednesday's outfit. Shoes by Loretta; charity shopped; I can't remember where but I swapped them later for flip-flops - much cooler. Trousers by Zara and top by Mary Portas bought at a Leighton Buzzard car boot sale. It's a bastard to iron but nice and cool to wear.
Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.
I took youngest grandson to school on Wednesday morning then came back and had a mooch around the garden deadheading and tidying up. I put a couple of plants on the front window sills as we were getting a bit crowded at the back with plant pots. My daughter's partner gave us some beetroot on Sunday whilst we were there and that seems to be flourishing. I bought a 'cut and come again' lettuce a few weeks back and it has made several salads; and seems to be producing more leaves. It looks as if the snails/slugs have been at the peppers and the corn. If it's not them then it's the squirrels burying and digging up their supplies from the flower pots. We have juvenile squirrels at the moment and they seem very tame; they don't scarper if you come into the garden and let you get quite close to them. You will be pleased to hear that the reluctant fuchsia has finally got some blooms. About bloody time!
I accompanied OH on a trip to B&M where I bought some some more cobblestones to go at the front and picked up a reduced yellow foxglove; that's two reduced foxgloves I've bought in a week. We also picked up 2 gerbera in the reduced section - both looking very sorry for themselves. It was really far too hot to walk about on Wednesday at 30 degrees plus. I did 2 lots of whites washing, hung them out and they were dry within an hour - including towels. I
I've decided it's time to put up an over mantel or a mantel shelf over the stove in the living room; and as our local architectural antiques shop had reopened I went to have a chat with the owner. He said for what I want it's cheaper for me to buy it online and get it fitted myself as he had nothing suitable. We can't have a mantelpiece with surround unless it was made of cast iron or heavy stone and they're out of my price range! Anyhow, after a browse online I found exactly what I wanted and have ordered it. Daughter's partner will be able to put it up for me as he has a heavy duty drill. I've also got a definite hair appointment for the 4th July; I'm so excited! We watched the final of the Great British Sewing Bee; I was hoping Nicole would win; but Clare won with her beautifully sewn kilt and 1930s evening gown. There will be a big hole in Wednesday evening viewing now!
The heatwave continued on Thursday - 31 degrees:
Everything is charity shopped. The skirt by Country Casuals was my first ever clothes purchase in Emmaeus; not on our most recent trip but pre lockdown. The linen top is by M&S; orange sandals by Gap.
If it hadn't been so hot I was going to wear this jacket by Precis (Donegal charity shop) with it; but it was far too hot...
Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.
I did the food shopping and went to Lidl, Sainsbury's and Aldi. The only queue was for Sainsbury's and it didn't take very long. Then I took my car for its much needed and well overdue wash and polish. With the heat being so oppressive we've taken to opening both front door and back door to allow a breeze to blow through. The only problem is that living on a busy street the noise is constant; especially of cars passing by every few seconds. I can remember when the lockdown first began the cars passing by were few and far between. Aaah, lockdown I miss you already....no I don't!
In the garden today there were blooms and some new additions:
L - The dianthus came back; bottom R; one of the gerberas looking much more perky now and top R; a Canna Indica. The flower has little red spots on it if you zoom in.
Both grandsons came for dinner and the youngest stays on Thursday nights as part of the new routine. We'll head off to the Nature reserve again on Friday to see if any frogs or newts have emerged. We didn't go in the end it was just too hot. We were expecting thunderstorms in the afternoon but they didn't materialise. I cannot wait for the weekend when the temperature is due to drop by about 10 degrees; I am just a sweaty, miserable heap in this hot, humid weather.
By Friday my hair had become unmanageable. Even though I had just washed it it was a total mess. I had to resort to an Alice band. It keeps the fringe out of my eyes and keeps the hair behind my ears; much cooler than a scarf; but I haven't worn an Alice band since I was child....
Everything charity shopped except shoes; online retail. Skirt by M&S (per Una) bought recently at Emmaeus; T shirt from Cat's Protection League and jacket also by M&S; from the Red Cross. Hairband from Barnardo's.
This was my hair in 2009 at my son's 29th birthday meal; longer, naturally curly/wavy and not coloured:
All jewellery charity shopped except earrings from Sainsbury's a long time ago!
I did venture into town on Friday. Our QD store had reopened and I wanted to check out the bird food prices but B&M remains the cheapest so far. I am spending a fortune on bird food at the moment; at least once a week I'm having to stock up on suet blocks/fat balls/mealworms/peanuts. Lots of sparrows have returned to the feeders which I'm delighted about. The neighbours on the other side of the garden wall removed the ivy covering their pergola about two years ago and with it went the sparrows nesting places. Their pergola is still bare but the sparrows are back!
I also went to the 1.00 shop looking for plant holders and found a few pretty little metal buckets for my chair planter. When I went to see about my mantel shelf on Wednesday; I popped into the junk shop and bought what I thought was a wall mounted hall/hat stand in wrought iron for 5.00. I've repurposed it as a wall mounted plant holder. When I find a plant to fill it I'll hang the third bucket on it from one the hooks below the shelf.
The sedum (Hylotelephium Sieboldii ) above has been growing exponentially in a large planter. It's been divided and shared several times (see below) and seems unstoppable! The plant next to it; a type of Canna Lily is actually a house plant but I was giving it some sun here.
On the chair planter there's more of the sedum in the right hand bucket; a Coreopsis in the left hand bucket; (updated to say not doing very well); the larger plant is Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpets) bought from Wilco as a reduced plant a few weeks back. There is an Antirrhinum and a Begonia the same pot next to a pink Cosmos. When the weather cools I may well paint this chair as it's very weather beaten. The birds used to like using it as a lavatory!
The weather finally broke in the early hours of Saturday. It was much cooler and it rained throughout most of the day. I was so pleased not to be dripping with sweat. This was what I wore on Saturday and put my hair back in a teeny-tiny ponytail...along with about a dozen hair grips to hold it in place.
All jewellery charity shopped except earrings which were donated by my daughter.
Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Dorothy Perkins; t shirt by M&S; jacket no label. Black sandals from The Cat's Protection League.
On Saturday afternoon OH I went to visit a garden centre in Willington. It's years since we had visited this particular one. True to our usual form we bought quite a few reduced plants; including 3 Veronica's - of course I had to have those! I also bought an orange Osteropeum for the last remaining bucket and a reduced terracotta plant pot. Instead of spending money in charity shops I'm spending my money on plants!
Sunday was cooler; it was quite windy; the sun shone in bursts and there were a couple of light showers. perfect walking weather so I got up and did an 8 mile walk. Last week was definitely too hot to walk and I missed it. This coming week looks fine for walking and I shall strive to make my 30 miles. I only managed 13 this week...
Everything charity shopped. Sandals as before; jeans by M&S and the top is from Barnardo's. The first week I was back the Manager had put some things by for me she thought I might like. This was one of them; the coral tunic I wore last week was another and there's a white cotton kimono I haven't yet worn. All cotton or linen items; she knows my taste!
All jewellery charity shopped and the scarf, too.
More sweet peas bloomed so I kept cutting them back...we even have a stripy one! Everyone came to us for Sunday dinner. Only 3 weeks before the schools break up for the summer holidays. Daughter and youngest grandson can't wait.
Off to Barnardos on Monday. We had two Directors visiting so we were busy making sure everything was as it should be. Luckily, the collection van came early and took away about 100+ bags of donations. We just don't have the room to store it all; especially as it has to be quarantined for 72 hours so it gets sent to other shops in the UK. I've found quite a few people are quite snotty when you say 'no donations, today'. I think a lot of people are using charity shops as a dumping ground; as in our town you have to have an appointment to take things to the tidy tip!
Everything I'm wearing is charity shopped. I can't remember where I got anything from!
One of the other volunteers came in today for the first time; it was good to see her. Another volunteer returns on Tuesdays so we are slowly getting back to normal - a bit like the rest of the country, I suppose.
Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.
Although the shop is usually closed on Wednesdays; I'm going in this week to assist with the stocktaking. A busy week ahead.
I read an email from the Ramblers when I got home; and it seems we are going to try and organise proper walks again; but in groups of six people maximum and keeping our distance. The local group committee will report back when the details of organising this have been ironed out. This means there'll be regular Wednesday group walking again soon; another thing to look forward to! The bus walks have been suspended until 2021 which seems very sensible to me. I also rejoined the National Trust buying joint membership for OH and me and opting to pay it monthly. It's only 10.00 per month so it won't make a huge dent in my budget. I now need to investigate a few places to visit to make the most of OH's remaining furlough time!
Back to the food bank on Tuesday. The full complement of volunteers was in this week. If you remember I was the only one in last week. I made up hygiene packs and marked up again. It looks as if the arrangement of fewer volunteers on a daily basis will remain as it stands into the near future. It allows us to stay at safe distances and it seems we are getting as much work done as when we are full up with volunteers!
Earrings bought in a sale from Debenhams; trousers picked up in Bedford market; necklace; gift from OH; everything else is charity shopped.
Top by Monsoon; charity shopped in a Co. Longford charity shop. Shoes from Clarks.
I needed to go into town so went in the afternoon. I noticed 2 charity shops had opened; Cancer Research and the Salvation Army. Naturally, I had a look and bought - nothing! When I was at Barnardos on Monday I only bought 2 items from the 50p rail; both of which had been on the shop floor for a long time and both of which I'd had my eyes on for a while. When the manager put them on the 50p rail I couldn't resist. It will be interesting to see the town this time next week when the cafes and restaurants can open again.
Another email from the local Ramblers committee looking for volunteers to lead small group walks. I volunteered. I also booked for OH and I to go to Anglesey Abbey in Cambridge on Thursday with our new National Trust membership. Only the gardens are open but that's fine by us; they also have a plant shop that's open!
It was stocktaking at Barnardos on Wednesday. I counted flowers, elves, Christmas cards; Christmas decorations; Christmas gift bags; fascinators, socks, hats, gloves, tights etc. Barnardos has its own range of products which are sold in the shop and it was that which we had to stocktake.
All jewellery and scarf charity shopped except the Art Deco brooch which was a gift from my son and the earrings which were donated by my daughter. The dress was from eBay; jacket by Fenn, Wright and Manson from my Barnardos; and the shoes by Hotter charity shopped but can't remember where...
I managed to read 14 books in June. I checked my reading record and found that my monthly all time reading record was 26 books. I haven't had the urge to do any crocheting at all lately so I tend to read in the evenings if there is nothing I want to watch or catch up on. I always try to read both fiction and non fiction and for sheer guilty pleasure reading I read crime.
On Thursday, OH and I set off for Anglesey Abbey which sounds as if it should be on the Isle of Anglesey but it isn't; it's in Cambridgeshire. However, I'll just backtrack a little to show you further floral developments in the garden:
This pretty spotted lily has fully flowered - spot the spots! You can see the Ostereopeum we bought from the Garden Centre last Saturday in its 1.00 shop bucket below.
The Buddleia has blossomed and the Clematis has many flower,s now. This is my little purple corner. I bought the Buddha head in a charity and it is standing on an old 3 tier corner bathroom shelf that is slowly rusting away; also bought from a charity shop.
Anglesey Abbey was originally a Hospital of St. Mary during the reign of Henry 1 (1100 - 1135) and then a Priory for Augustinian monks endowed in 1215 . It was closed in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. It was lived in by several families until in 1926 it was converted to a country home and became the home of Lord Fairhaven; a very wealthy son of an American oil mining family. He made numerous additions and changes to the house and grounds and purchased Lode Watermill near by. The Jacobean style house stands in 98 acres of grounds and includes various gardens; an arboretum; a woodland walk; a riverside walk and a small nature reserve. You can find out more about its history HERE.
We didn't really pick the best time of year to go. Everything was shut except for the Rose Gardens, the Arboretum, the Woodland Walk and the Riverside Walk. We did and saw all of those and bought a plant - a Salvia from the reduced section in the plant shop. I can now say when it flowers this is my Anglesey Abbey Salvia! We shall go back later in the year when more of the grounds and the house are open. It was only about 30 miles from Bedford.
Top left is part of the Rose Garden and the remaining pictures are all from the herbaceous border which was huge - wide and long and went round in a gentle curve. The wind and rain had badly battered lots of the plants but there were the most amazing Delphiniums. There were statues like the one in the Rose Garden all over the grounds.
The Rose Gardens had many varieties. Planted in squares of 4 rectangles there were about 40 species. We smelled them all except for 'Judy Dench' which was too close to the ground to sniff! The ground was very soggy and I didn't want to get the knees of my jeans wet. The three above smelt glorious. They are; from the left 'Gertrude Jekyll'; top right 'Charles Darwin' and bottom right 'Royal Jubilee'.
An unusual Viking ship weathervane; 2 more of the herbaceous border; and if you look very carefully at the photo with the lily pads you should be able to spot a grey wagtail. My first siting in the UK of this bird; I saw one in Co. Waterford, Ireland last year when out birdwatching with my cousin's husband and we saw that one on the shore. They're birds that like water!
After our visit we decided to drive to Newmarket which was quite close; and one of the reasons Lord Fairhaven bought the house; for its proximity to the race course and to his stud. We found a coffee shop open doing takeaway coffees; and then we found an open RSPCA charity shop! In fact there were 8 charity shops in total in Newmarket so we will definitely do a return visit for a rummage in the future. In the only charity shop open in the town and very close to closing time, I found an Anokhi for East maxi skirt reduced to 1.75 and a lovely turquoise enamelled ring for 1.50. How lucky was that? The lady in the shop was very disgruntled and was telling me how rude some customers had been; as the RSPCA, too, had stopped taking donations through becoming overwhelmed.
This was my outfit on Thursday. Everything charity shopped. Top by Masai; my Barnardos; jeans by Next 1.00 rail somewhere; shoes by Clarks can't remember. The Masai top which I bought last summer had a cowl neck which I didn't like so I cut it off and tucked the remainder inside. I need to buy some Wonderweb and stick it down; I tried with my fabric glue but it had dried up!
Jacket/Kimono Challenge - Day 22
This is the white cotton kimono bought in my Barnardos last week. Another bastard to iron and it looks suspiciously like a doctor's coat in this photo! All jewellery charity shopped.
On our way back to the car in Newmarket we went into a QD shop which had plants outside on a display. We bought 4; a white Clematis; an Escallonia; a Cistus and some Goji berries. All 1.99 each and my aforementioned Hibiscus tree started out as one of these about 6 years ago...
When I got up on Friday I had a pleasant surprise. In the Hibiscus tree outside our back door I have a peanut feeder and a suet block feeder; munching away on the suet block was a Siskin; the first I've ever seen in our garden.
White Top Challenge - Day 6
Youngest grandson stays on Fridays. After doing the weekly food shopping; he and I went for a walk and ran a few errands including a stop for sweets at our local shop. Everything I'm wearing is charity shopped; except the trousers which I bought recently from a Bedford Buy and Sell group for 3.00. I can't resist yellow! White top by Next; can't remember where I bought it from but it's been a useful garment. Shoes by Clarks. I have possibly 2 more white tops to feature in this challenge but I'll do that in my next post.
Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped. This was the last day of #Coronahair! Tomorrow was hairdresser's day!
I hadn't done any walking in the week as it was a busy week. Even though I hadn't walked I always manage to clock up more than 10,000 steps every day just doing my usual daily things. Anyway, when I got back from the hairdressers on Saturday I decided to make up for the lack of walking in the week and went for a 10 mile walk. It was lovely and so peaceful; just me and the bird song and the occasional dog walker. When I got back OH and I had yet another trip to B&M; me for bird food stuff and soil for him; he also bought a couple more plants. On Saturday evening I started 'Vanity Fair' by William Thackeray. I've been meaning to read this book for so long. I do enjoy the classics; but don't read more than or two a year; if that. I need to up my game to read more. There are at least 6 more Dickens I'd like to read; and I've only ever read 'Silas Marner' by George Eliot and there a few more of hers I'd also like to read. One of my sitting room alcoves is filled with classic texts - an awful lot are waiting to be read...
Sandals; one of the 3 pairs I bought in Sainsbury's sale. Everything else charity shopped. Jeans by Next; shirt from my Barnardos; Fossil belt also from my Barnardos.
On Sunday I got up and did some dead-heading and pruning in the garden. I made myself oat pancakes for breakfast with honey, fruit and yoghurt. The pancakes are so quick and easy to make; They're light, delicious and filling. I make them about 2 to 3 times a week. Thanks to Attic 24 for the recipe!
2 tablespoons of yoghurt (I use Lidl's Greek Yoghurt with Coconut)
2 tablespoons of fine oats (I use Readybrek)
Mix together and cook in pan. It makes 2 to 3 small pancakes.
After that hearty breakfast I went for an 8 mile walk. It was a beautiful walking day; warm, sunny but there was a wonderful breeze which cooled things down a bit. I managed to fall over and skin my hand but other than that it was a great walk. OH was busy planting up the new additions to the garden and generally clearing everything up so it looked tidy. On my way back home I spied an everlasting or perennial Sweet Pea growing wild at the side of the road so I grabbed a couple of cuttings for the garden. When I came back I used rooting powder on them and planted them in a small pot. I'll be interested to see if they grow. I then made Sunday dinner for two grandsons and us.
Back to Barnardos on Monday. Everything charity shopped except the sandals. Trousers by Tu and top by Valentyne.
All jewellery charity shopped.
We were very busy and the alternate days of receiving donations seems to be working well. At least I'm not falling or climbing over bags of donations!
I do hope you are all able to enjoy a little more freedom now; all we can do is be sensible and assess our own level of risk and risk taking. Take care and stay safe; see you in a fortnight.