Monday, 4 January 2021

Happy New Year 2021!

 Happy New Year to everyone! I would like to thank all my blogging friends and followers for their support and positivity over this last horrible year. Blogging is pointless without comments so please keep reading and commenting; your comments are precious and much appreciated! Now on to more practical matters:

Winter Coat/Jacket No.10

Sorry for the crappy photos - the light was not good on Wednesday before Christmas. It rained all day. Just as well my group walk was cancelled.

This is my trusty black leather jacket bought for me by my daughter some years ago. I should have zipped it up for the photo; I wore it zipped up whilst I did the Christmas food shopping on Wednesday. It wasn't too manic; the food shopping, but I was glad it was finished. I unpacked the shopping took the youngest grandson home after making him some lunch. I did several washes including washing all the cushion covers from the living room sofas. I then made a South African dish for dinner; cabbage beedie. It's basically a lamb stew; using neck of lamb braised with cabbage, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and onions; and par boiled potatoes are added last so it's a complete meal in one pot.

All jewellery charity shopped.

The skirt was bought in a Bury St Edmund's charity shop this year; it's by Red Herring. I wore this navy fine knit jumper by Next with it also charity shopped; and my red boots are by M&S and bought from a local buy and sell group.

We started watching a Belgian drama 'The Twelve' and I also watched a rather odd movie called 'Phantom Threads' with Daniel Day-Lewis. I remember the movie coming out in 2017 and as it was about fashion; I wanted to see it. Well, three years later I have! The frocks were gorgeous...

Winter Coat/Jacket No. 11

I went to Sharnbrook to buy more coal and kindling on Thursday. Normally the drive between Bedford and Sharnbrook is flanked on either side of the road with fields and the occasional glimpse of the river - The Great Ouse. On Thursday's drive however it was like driving past a series of mini lakes. The river had overflowed its banks in places and the fields had turned to lakes; complete with water fowl! It had rained heavily and there were flood warnings so I shouldn't have been surprised; but I always am when I see the fields like this. It was also a very cold day and I wasn't warm enough in my Susan Bristol woolen jacket:

I bought this in the Red Cross when I volunteered there in 2015-2016. I paid 5.00 for it. The previous owner of it had kindly put press studs betweens the buttons so it doesn't gape. I'm a little tired of it now and I don't wear it that often so it will be donated to the charity shop.

Everything charity shopped except the leggings by M&S retail. Dress by Boden; no label on the navy chevron patterned cardigan. Boots by Vanilla Moon from my Barnardos; as was the headscarf.

That's my chicken door stop on the floor in case you're wondering why I have a dead chicken on my floor; it was of course charity shopped!
All jewellery charity shopped.

OH arrived home early on Thursday which was Christmas Eve with this:

Normally, he gets an Amazon voucher (which he prefers!) from his company at Christmas: but this year he got a posh Fortnum and Mason Christmas Hamper which was full of:

And buried in the straw/hay (which we'll use as kindling on the fuel burner) were these:

Wine, champagne, posh biscuits; shortbread; teas x 2; coffee x 1; a Christmas pudding; some posh jams (conserves if you're posh) brandy butter; a large jar of cranberry sauce; (I'll be using that jar for something else) chocolate reindeer noses and a chocolate gingerbread man! Within minutes of unpacking the hamper I'd scoffed the gingerbread man and had a cup of Fortnum and Mason coffee with it. Then I took the empty hamper upstairs to my study and filled it with my wool collection. All my wool is in one place now instead of spread over half a dozen different places. The hamper has the added advantage of having a flat surface so I can rest my cup of tea on it instead of on the floor...

It was such a busy day on Christmas Day I just had time to take a selfie and that was it. I wore the Oliver Bonas dress I bought in my Barnardo's for 5.00; lace tights and some long black suede boots with a small heel I found for a 1.00 back in the summer in the Barnardo's in Ampthill. You can see the dress (above) is a lovely rich green. All my jewellery was charity shopped. 
It was a lovely boozy sort of day with much food being consumed. There were members of the family missing but that was to be expected. I just hope next year's Christmas will be back to normal. My eldest grandson was most put out we were having Christmas at his mum's instead of at my house! Here he is on Boxing Day with his girlfriend:

As you may have heard we had really bad flooding in Bedford. I felt so sorry for anyone who lived near the river. People were evacuated to the Athletics stadium and one of the outlying village halls; if they had no relatives or friends to stay with.  Tier 4 restrictions on households mixing were suspended for people in this situation. The flooding had subsided  somewhat by the end of Boxing Day; but when I drove the grandson and his girlfriend back to London on Sunday; the fields were still flooded in many places. I can't see me doing much walking across fields for a while; it would be too muddy and horrible. 

Last year we decided that instead of all the adults buying all the other adults presents we would do a Secret Santa instead. We buy a gift for one adult up to the value of 30.00 and it can be cash - some of us are very lazy when it comes to Christmas shopping; yes I'm looking at my brothers here! I had to buy for grandson's girlfriend this year and bought her a new embroidered rucksack; some Nordic thermal socks (I liked them so much I bought myself some, too); a Christmas mug and a fold up shopping bag that fits in a pocket or bag, so that you always have a shopping bag when you need one. I still buy for OH and for my daughter, son and three grandsons.

My daughter bought me this lovely Buddha statue made by a local man for my garden. I just have to find the right spot and choose the right plants to surround him.

She also bought me three books and got this photo of OH and I framed. The glasses holder was a gift from son's family; it has my name on it; along with an Amazon voucher and bottle of sparkling rose wine. I spent the voucher on another book; I preordered a 'London Grammar' CD due for release in February 2020; and even had enough left over for a pair of earrings!

My Secret Santa gifter was my eldest grandson. He bought me these PJs and slippers, the Buddha head and mustard tights below:

The yellow PJs were also a present from my daughter; OH bought me the perfume and a couple of CDs. Didn't I do well? I bought OH more than he bought me. He got a new tracksuit; a lightweight top for Spring; a new scarf; some aftershave and a new pair of headphones. Unfortunately, he won't be able to use the headphones with our TV as it doesn't have Bluetooth. However, the TV in the spare room does and we may swap it over...

 I did go out for a 5 mile walk on Sunday and felt better for the fresh air and sunshine. It was very chilly, though.  I made soup with the leftover turkey which I had bought fresh from Sainsbury's; and I also had my one and only turkey sandwich on Sunday; complete with Fortnum and Mason cranberry sauce - delicious! It won't be long before that jar is empty...

On Monday we did the housework we usually do on a Sunday; and I went to Sainsbury's to see if there were any bargains to be had. I often buy crackers and Christmas items when they're on sale after the Christmas festivities are over; but nothing caught my fancy. I still have a box of very reduced crackers I bought last year sitting in the loft ready for next year! The weather had turned very cold since Christmas Day and today it was 1.5 degrees. I wore one of my warmest winter coats to go to Sainsbury's.

Everything charity shopped. Roll neck top by Oasis, pinafore dress by Matalan, animal print leggings by New Look. Boots; Sainsbury's sale in the summer. 
All jewellery charity shopped. 

Winter Coat/Jacket - No.12

Although this is not a very good picture; this coat by Autograph (M&S) is a fake Astrakhan coat and is very warm with full sleeves.  I paid 25.00 for it which is the most I've ever paid for anything in a charity shop. I found it in the RSPCA in Newport Pagnell just before Christmas 2019; the purple gloves were charity shopped in the BHF in Huntingdon.

The weather was set to to get colder as it neared the end of December 2020 and it did! We kept the heating on all day and we lit the stove daily by 4pm. I'm dreading this quarter's fuel bill. When I'm here on my own I try not to put the heating on until after 3pm. On Tuesday, there was no food bank volunteering for me as it wouldn't reopen until 4th January. When I went to Sainsbury's yesterday the food bank donation bins were full to bursting so I am assuming our (volunteer) drivers are still picking up from the supermarkets...

I stayed with black/white/grey outfits for some reason. Everything charity shopped except boots as above. The dress was bought in a Co. Longford charity shop; but I can't remember where I got the cardigan from and I've had it for years. I'm wearing a full length slip underneath this dress and would like more of these as they do keep you very warm. The downside is that sometimes they are a little long and hang down under the clothes; but can usually be adjusted at the shoulder straps.  They do occasionally pop up in charity shops so it will give me something to look for when they eventually reopen. Another thing I need to look out for is a new meat plate. I had to keep my lovely Staffordshire meat plate in the cupboard under my sink as no other cupboard was large enough to accommodate it. It fell out when I opened the door and smashed and broke on the floor tiles. Two things on my charity shop list now!

All jewellery charity shopped.

I browse our local FB buy and sell group regularly; and on Christmas Eve I picked up some drawer dividers for 2.00. There were enough to fit two of the drawers in my bedside table; the third drawer already had some Lakeland dividers in it and it's where I keep my knickers. I'm sure you wanted to know that...I had to ask OH to cut down the drawer dividers I bought as they were too long; but when done I was able to reorganise the two drawers. One has my bed socks, foot, hand creams and slips in it; and the other has black and navy tights in it. I keep the rest of my socks in three baskets (divided into patterned socks, walking socks and plain black, trainer and mini ankle socks) at the bottom of my wardrobe. The remainder of my tights are kept in two baskets under my bed where I store the different colours (blues, greens, yellows, reds/oranges/pinks and floral) in shoe bags in one basket; and in the other I store dark reds/brown and purple tights. When you have as many clothes as I do organisation is key; otherwise I'd never find anything!

I walked into town on Tuesday morning to pick up some items I ordered for middle grandsons sixteenth birthday in early January. I don't know where that time has gone and how he can possibly be almost sixteen. I can still clearly recall the phone call my son made to tell me his partner was pregnant; I was working at the Further Education college then. I wasn't present at his birth but I was for my other two grandsons.

On Wednesday OH and I did something quite mad. We went here:

Woburn Lido - 13 miles from Bedford; and we swam! Water temperature: 12 degrees and air temperature: 1.2 degrees. I swam 20 lengths (it's a 25 metre pool) and got out because it was - believe it or not - quite crowded with only two lanes! Getting out and partially dressed was the coldest part; no changing rooms so just removed my cossie and put my dressing gown and boots on. Then it was into the car, heater on,  hot coffee and a mince pie.  I would like to come back to Woburn Lido for a swim; but I hope it's less crowded when I do!

It was also announced on Wednesday that our Tier 4 restrictions would continue and more parts of the country would be joining us. In fact three quarters of the country would now be under Tier 4 restrictions.

Thursday was freezing; 0.5 degrees! I drove to Sharnbrook to the Farm Shop for kindling then went to Aldi and Lidl for the weekly food shop. When all the shopping was packed away I went to QD to top up on bird stuff; and on the way stopped off at the Community Larder charity and bought three bunches of flowers at 50p per bunch:

On the left Alstromerias and on the right some Lisianthus and a couple of roses. Jug on left by Anthropologie; charity shopped at my Barnardo's and jug on right also charity shopped but from 3:16  charity shop.

Winter Coat/Jacket -  No 13

This camel coloured cape was bought with a Christmas M&S voucher OH received about 6 or 7 years ago from his company. He doesn't like M&S men's clothes so he always passed it on to me. I bought this in their after Christmas sale. Scarf and gloves charity shopped.

I wore my Alpaca skirt and top for warmth; charity shopped from the Cat's Protection League a few years ago. Worn with OTK boots online retail.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Winter Coats Nos. 14 and 15

Suede coat by New Look bought at a car boot sale for 2.00! It's full of wavy lines around the collar, up the front and around sleeves - no straight edges anywhere. I didn't wear this in the end but opted for the knitted jacket below:

On Saturday I had to go to our nearest Asda in Rushden to collect new underwear for OH and me; bought in their online sale. If the charity shops were open we would have had a browse but as most of the country is in Tier 4 lockdown only essential shops are open. I do wonder how the decision on essential shops has been made. I've seen Vape shops open and a wine merchants. Are either of those essential?

On Saturday evening we watched, with great excitement, the latest and final series of 'Spiral'; a French crime drama series on BBC4. I shall be so sorry when it ends; it's been one of  my all time favourites. We're also enjoying 'Before we Die' a Swedish crime drama and in fact are working our way through the entire collection - well those we like the look of - of 'Walter Presents'. We usually watch in the evenings only; but so desperate were we to find out what happened next; we watched a couple of episodes of 'Before we Die' in the afternoon. That's lockdown for you; normally we'd have gone for a rummage instead!

Knitted jacket bought from Donegal Donkey Sanctuary shop for 5 euros.

Everything charity shopped except boots; online retail. Top by Isle, trousers by Matalan and shirt underneath by Primarni - bought at a church jumble sale in Ireland.

All jewellery charity shopped.

We took down our decorations on Sunday. I kept the tree in its pot and put it in the garden as it will make a useful bird feeder and it's already festooned with fat balls etc. 

This was our Christmas mantel. Next year I shall have lots more greenery which I can forage for when I'm out walking; but at least we had a Christmas cactus this year! I also picked up another illuminated 3D Christmas scene on Sunday; reduced, as the one below was to 1.49 - bargain!  The rooms do look bare when the decorations are down but we soon get used to it.   

I've found a permanent resting place for my Buddha in the front garden...he looks like he's always been there.

I've done my annual count up of how many books I've read this year; the total is 109 or about 2 per week, roughly. That sounds a lot but I regularly read more when I was working! I don't know how I managed that. In 2020 I discovered a new to me author; Ann Patchett; who I highly recommend and have read everything she's written so far; but am saving her final book which I have on my Kindle to read soon. Other highly recommended books (you can see all that I've read at the top of my blog on the tab 'Books Read') are those by Sue Gee; 'The Mirror and The Light' by Hilary Mantel; 'I Know This Much is True' by Wally Lamb and 'Ironopolis' by Glenn James Brown.

On Monday I childminded my youngest grandson as his mum had a teacher training day; and his school is not opening until later in January. Usually on a Monday I drop him to school in the morning. When he had gone home I walked into town for some bread and eggs and then set out for a 6 mile walk around Bedford. It wasn't that cold but the wind was icy and my cheeks were frozen. I wore this grey knitted headband my daughter bought me some years ago to keep my ears warm:

Winter Coat - No. 16

This is the last of  my winter coats. I've only featured a couple of winter jackets and I do have more to show you in future posts. This is a Welsh wool cape bought at the Red Cross charity shop about five or six years ago. I usually get a couple of wears a year out of it every year. Red leather gloves charity shopped in Bury St. Edmunds.

Everything charity shopped. Striped roll neck by John Lewis; black loose trousers by M&S and black and white tunic; unknown label.

All jewellery charity shopped.

As I write this there is another announcement by the Prime Minister due at 8pm today. It looks as if we will go into a full lockdown again as the virus continues to spread far and wide. Scotland has already announced it is going into a full lockdown from midnight tonight. I think it's what we have been expecting so here we go again, folks...

See you in a fortnight!


  1. Happy New Year, Vronni although with tonight's announcement it's starting to feel just like the last one!
    I'm pleased that you managed to see some of the family at Xmas and you did do well with the pressies, lots of mustard coloured clothing, fabulous PJs and a gorgeous Buddha.
    What a treat that hamper was! I bought an empty one from a car boot sale which i use for shop displays and always wondered about how posh the contents would have been.
    The alpaca skirt and top make you look very trim and slinky. Love the Welsh wool cape, too! What a shame about the meat plate, what with my puffin we do make a clumsy pair. watch those two lovely jugs you're displaying those pretty flowers in.
    Outdoor swimming! I've got a couple of friends who do that and I just shake my head in disbelief. You're a brave woman!
    Stay sane, safe and healthy! xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix. Yes we are a clumsy pair and the joke is I was born on a Tuesday; and the old saying goes 'Tuesday's child is full of grace' - it's a lie!

      I felt a little bit Downton Abbey ish when PH arrived home with that hamper but at least it makes good storage!

      Take care

    2. Ha! I was born on a Tuesday, too - it was a family joke when I was little! xxx

  2. Ah, I'm all caught up now! Happy Christmas, Vronni - you did get spoiled on your presents! I love your yellows (tights, PJs) and your Buddha - he's lovely. Your ginormous F&M crate was amazing! what a cool thing to have afterwards, too (such good storage!). I love your red wool coat (but I get you on being bored with it), your blue suede coat (!!!) and your wonderful cape, which is nearly identical pattern to one I have. I agree with Vix that you look very sleek and elegant in your alpaca set - meow!!

    I can't keep all the lockdowns straight in my own country! We should be hearing soon about how we did over the holidays.

    A very Happy 2021 to you, and your husband, and your dear family, Vronni.

    1. Thank you, Sheila.

      I hope your restrictions are lifted - I'll keep my fimngers crossed for you.

      Take care

  3. i´m in love with both capes!!! <3
    but all your coats are trés chic! although most of them i would wear in late spring here - in our winters i would freeze to dead in this lightwight garments ;-D HEAVY ist the key word here for coats - be it wool or fur (thats best).
    the x-mas hamoer was a very nice present indeed - yummy food & drinks, a new storage and table and extra kindling - perfect! and you gut some lovely and practical pressies from your family........
    swimming outdoors in a heated pool sound very posh to me!!
    as long as only a few people go along with the restrictions and the numbers are rising - as long the lockdowns will continue. here and over there at yours......... hoping the vaccines will work.
    stay warm - dear vronni! xxxxx

    1. Thank you, Beate!

      The pool wasn't wasn't heated...but now it will be closed due our new lockdown so I won't be able to swim indoors or outdoors!

      Take care and roll on the vaccine!

  4. Happy New Year Vronni! That red coat you tired of suits you so much - that shade really works for you. I also love the welsh cape. Your buddha is lovely and what a fabulous hamper OH received. Interesting your Cabbage Bredie recipe, interesting ingredients, maybe it has the Cape Malay cooking influence - which I love. Take care, regards, Lise

    1. Hello Lise and a Happy New Year to you, too!

      Yes, I agree about the Cape Malay influence. From what I know of South African cuisine (married to a South African for 17.5 years) it has many influences from around the world.

      Take care

  5. Happy New Year!
    The thought of swimming outdoors in winter is too much for me, but I'm glad you were able to do it and enjoyed it.
    Your grandson is turning 16 at the same time my son is-how fast time goes.
    A posh hamper for Christmas is a nice gift. I always enjoy getting something I'd never buy for myself.
    I hope the lockdown goes quickly and easily for you.

    1. Goody, you've hit the nail on the head. The definition of a good present is one you would never buy for yourself!

      The lockdown will pass as it did before...

      Happy New year to you and yours,

  6. Happy New Year, Vronni, although it looks as if you're not having the best start of the year with the new lockdown! I'm glad you had a lovely Christmas in spite of restrictions and oh my, you were certainly spoiled when it comes to presents. I'm particularly loving the Buddha, which indeed looks quite at home in your garden.
    I would have snapped up that fabulous hamper for myself too, and scoffed my fair share of its contents :-) Outdoor swimming would be a bridge too far for me, I must say. You were very brave!
    I'm loving the part I can see of your Christmas outfit, the slinky Alpaca skirt and top and that gorgeous Welsh wool cape.
    109 books is quite a lot, I could never manage a book a week, let alone two. I have read several books by Anne Patchett, Sue Gee and Hilary Mantel, which I loved. I really need to step up as I've still got quite a reading pile.
    I'm keeping my fingers crossed your lockdown passes soon and that it is helpful in bringing down the infections! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann.

      We're steadily working our way through the hamper contents but the two tins loose tea is somewhat problematic; as I don't even own a teapot anymore - no room in the kitchen cupboards!

      Take care

  7. Hard to pick a favourite outfit - the Boden dress is interesting, I have a skirt in the same pattern and colours! I remember they used to do that quite a lot. I loved the skirt and it wore out, so I was thrilled to find one exactly the same on ebay.
    I like very much the alpaca skirt and top and the Susan Bristol woolen jacket. It looks very high end. The South African dish sounds very tempting - could you share the recipe? And I love looking at how people organize their stuff. Thanks also for the book mentions. I read around 2 books a week too so am always looking for recommendations.

    1. Thank you, Gail.

      I may keep the Susan Bristol woolen jacket; I've had quite a few compliments on it. I feel it's better worn with trousers.

      I will email you the recipe.

      I'm just about to start a book by Sarah Moss called 'Summerwater'. She's another author I love and recommend.

      Take care

  8. Lovely to see you in your fab coats, colourful outfits, and also some monochrome ensembles!, lovely accessorizing (wow, I love so much your necklaces!) and lovely style!. Looking so fab and elegant!
    Glad to see some of your cute presents, the Budha looks really happy in your garden, and the food hamper is just a dream!. Those books you've recommended sound really interesting, I'll have a look at them (even if I prefer nonfiction books, but I need a change!)
    So amazing that you went to the pool!, you're so brave people!.
    And thanks for sharing your tips on drawers dividers. I think they are really useful!. Totally agree that keeping items in order/sight makes a difference.
    Hope that lockdown doesn't last too long. So bad news!. Wish your walks and lifestyle are not very affected!
    besos & abrazos

    1. Thank you, Monica.

      I like reading non fiction too and I'm currently reading a really interesting book about how fabric changed history. There are lots of non-fiction titles on my books page if you want see some more NF titles. I always indicate if its a NF book or if I've read it on my Kindle.

      I'm hoping the lockdown doesn't last too long either...

      Take care and stay safe

  9. Happy new year! (A very belated one from me, but I DO catch up with blogs when I have time, I don't ignore them :-) )

    You got some lovely presents there. And I'm really impressed with how many books you've read. You do make good use of your time!

    1. Happy New Year to you, Mim!

      Blogging; both the writing; photography and the reading of them takes up a lot of time so I understand what you're saying.

      Take care


Naahh, Luton Airport.

Hello - it's that time again!  Time is certainly flying and we're definitely into autumnal mode now. Schools are back; leaves are fa...