Monday 24 May 2021

Freedom - of sorts

I would like to start by correcting the impression I might have given in my previous post that when I acted as a polling clerk it was a volunteering role; it wasn't, I got paid for it! The standard rate for poll clerking is £150.00 for the day -  which sounds a lot, but as we are there for 16 hours; it works out as just under 10.00 per hour - not that much, really. The Presiding Officer role pays twice that amount, but I wouldn't want the responsibility so I've always gone for the poll clerk role. We also get paid for training. Right, now I've cleared that up this is what I've been up to since my last post.

 I managed to swim 42 laps in the allotted time on Tuesday but that was partly because there were fewer people in the lane; also several got out of the pool leaving me the only swimmer in my lane for the last ten minutes of the swim - yay! Anyway, goal achieved and let's hope I can continue to keep it up.

Trousers by La Redoute; bought in their sale about 6 - 7 years ago. Top by Tu; charity shopped in a Porthleven charity shop. Shoes charity shopped in a Taunton charity shop. I've been saying I bought these in Ireland, but looking at an old post I'd bought them on a trip out in Devon with Hilary some years back.

Outerwear; coat by Laura Ashley bought from secondhand site Vinted.

Wednesday was a beautiful day for walking. It was overcast, but by mid morning the sun came out and the breeze turned from chilly to cool. There were 13 of us on the walk I led; 7 miles in length. It was very good to walk in a group again and catch up with a couple of walkers I know well. Everyone enjoyed the walk which is always good to know! In the afternoon I went to Rushden for a rummage in the Salvation Army shop which is among one of my favourites. I bought a wooden darning mushroom for 50p; something I've been looking out for for a while, a book and a small heart shaped cushion for 75p. I also picked up a yellow wooden ampersand sign for my daughter (the colour scheme in her living room is yellow, white and grey) and that was it.  No clothes! Rummaging urge satisfied I returned home and made dinner. We watched The Great British Sewing Bee in the evening. I think Serena could be the winner but there's a way to go yet. Esme's (one of the judges) necklaces get madder each week. Last week there were pots of coloured paint hanging around her neck but she always looks so fabulous. I wonder if she makes her own clothes?

This was Thursday's outfit.
Even though I've been retired for 7 years; I still get a thrill on the days when I don't have to get up by a certain time. Usually it's Thursdays and Fridays for me. Once I'm awake; nearly always around 7am which seems to be a natural waking up time for me; I usually read 'The Guardian' headlines on my phone whilst still in bed; then I get up at my leisure and get ready at the same pace. It's blissful; I hope the thrill of it doesn't wear off!

I spent most of Thursday shopping. I went to Sharnbrook for kindling and firelighters, then Aldi and Lidl for groceries. My bird feeding supplies were depleted so I went to B&M and Home Bargains to stock up again; and also picked up logs at B&M to save OH a trip after work. The birds are eating voraciously at the moment; it's hard to keep the feeders replenished! On my way home from all the shopping the rain came down heavily; we'd had small showers throughout the day but this was torrential rain. I'd left some washing out so had to rescue it when I got in, spin it again and hang it up inside.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings bought from Sainsbury's many years ago.

I enjoyed listening to 'The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym' on BBC R4's 'Book of the Week' which I caught up with this week.  I didn't realise she lived in the same part of London where I grew up for many years; I wondered if there was a blue plaque outside her house. The next time I go to London, I'll check it out. It made me want to re-read her books and as I had a collection of her books I started with her first novel; 'Some Tame Gazelle'.

Friday was overcast but at least it didn't rain. I went for a swim in the morning and completed 40 laps. The pool seems to be quite crowded on Friday mornings which often means waiting for people to swim far enough ahead of you so you don't collide. I like to swim my laps without stopping so I'm going to try booking next week for Thursday afternoon to see if it's less crowded.

All jewellery charity shopped.

My first wearing of white jeans this year. Jeans by Next; charity shopped; top by M&S bought in Keech Hospice shop in Kempston last week and shoes by Sainsbury's retail in their sale. I wore a jacket when I went out as it wasn't warm enough to go without one. 

In the afternoon, after putting a wash on, I went into to town to run a couple of errands and whilst I was there had a look in a couple of charity shops for some more Barbara Pym books. I was missing four to make up the complete collection. I didn't find any in the charity shops but I did go to our local independent second hand bookshop. We have a Waterstones and WHSmith but both sell new books. The independent bookshop had moved to new premises just before the first lockdown (bad timing) which I hadn't visited before. It was very spacious with several sofas and chairs to sit and read in.  I found one Barbara Pym book and another green Virago to add to my collection; as well as a natural history book and a crime book by Denise Mina which I hadn't read. I was very satisfied with my purchases and only have 4 more Barbara Pym books to track down now...

Saturday's outfit; everything charity shopped. Top by Joules charity shopped from Barnardo's, polo top underneath by Zara from Daycare Hospice Shop and trousers by Papaya; can't remember where I got them from nor the shoes by Hotter.

Saturday was wet but luckily not cold. We've had about a months rainfall in the past couple of days. The garden needed it but enough already! I had no plans made for Saturday so I went for a rummage to Newport Pagnell where I haven't been since before Christmas. I found a Fred Vargas book; two brooches for 50p each; and a yellow dress from the 2.00 rail in The Willen Hospice Shop. I also bought a necklace in the RSPCA shop. A new charity shop had opened in Newport Pagnell; another Keech Hospice shop; it sold furniture and bric a brac with books upstairs. No Barbara Pym books unfortunately.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from eBay.

Coat by Per Una (M&S) bought from a charity shop years ago.

When I got back from my rummage I made a cauliflower, chickpea and spinach curry and baked a Victoria sponge cake. I've never made a vegetarian curry before only vegetarian stir fries. It turned out very well and I enjoyed it. I have several more vegetarian recipes to try out. I like vegetarian food as I don't eat very much meat and as my daughter has now become a vegan that's even more incentive to make more vegetarian dishes. OH, son and grandsons all remain meat addicts.

Sunday's outfit. Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Et Vous; kimono; no label. Can't remember where I got either of them from. The trousers were too snug in the waist and have been re-donated.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Sunday was like Saturday; rainy with sunny spells. I went for a 6 mile walk along the river to Cardington Lock and back along the opposite side of the river. I spied these:


And these:

 A lot of messing about in boats. 
I also saw two girls paddleboarding down the river Great Ouse but didn't get the camera out in time...

On Monday, it was back to Barnardo's volunteering. It was the first week of just me and the new manager. We worked very hard but had to stop donations just before I left; it's too hard for one person to deal with the donations and do the till and serve customers. and at the moment there is no afternoon volunteer. We need more volunteers! I wore my checked home made dress which I wore in my last post for the first time, so you didn't need to see it again.

This was what I wore to the food bank on Tuesday. Mustard trousers from La Redoute retail; top by M & Co and striped top underneath; both charity shopped as were the brown Mary-Jane shoes. There were torrential downpours whilst I was at the food bank; we have a corrugated iron roof and it sounded like people drumming when the rain came down.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I went swimming in the afternoon; did my 42 laps and had the pool to myself for the last ten minutes - again!

On Wednesday, I joined a group walk in Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes isn't just concrete cows and roundabouts it also has some very pretty villages. We walked from Woolstone; along the canal tow path to a country park area along the River Ouzel (a tributary of the Great Ouse) then around Willen Lake and back to Woolstone; 6 miles in all. There were 9 of us in total and the we were very lucky with the weather. It stayed sunny and warm throughout the day; no rain. On the way back to the start point I rescued two square plant pots out of a skip. Wednesday was OH's birthday. He gets his state pension this month and hopes to reduce his days at work from 5 to 3 starting in July. Being furloughed for 12 weeks when the first lockdown occurred allowed him to see that retirement could be fun. We're going out for a birthday meal on Saturday night with my three brothers and my daughter. It will be the first time we've been out for a meal together since last July when we went out for brother Mark's birthday.

Top photo is the Peace Pagoda on Willen Lake; below right a tiny church spotted on the walk and left a wisteria festooned classic house in Olney. I stopped in Olney on the way back home to have a rummage in their 3 charity shops. Did I buy anything? Yes, I did. I bought this:

A sideboard!

In the third charity shop (Willen Hospice Shop - we passed the actual Willen Hospice on our walk)) I saw this sideboard. I thought it looked very much in the 'Arts and Crafts' style and I loved it. It was also reduced from £85.00 to £60.00, so that was a bonus although the delivery was expensive. It was delivered on Thursday morning and my old sideboard was donated in exchange and taken away. I'm so pleased with it. 
We watched The Great British Sewing Bee in the evening. I was amazed at Raph's skills and wonder if he might be the winner...time will tell.

Thursday was a very busy day. There was waiting in in the morning for the delivery which luckily didn't come too late.  I repacked the new sideboard when it arrived and found I even had room to spare.Then it was off to do the food shopping (Lidl and Aldi), a super fast unpacking and putting away followed by a swim. Thursday was definitely the better day than Friday. There were only 4 people in my swimming lane throughout the entire hour. It will also mean that I can have Fridays as a free day - at least until the Ramblers Friday bus walks restart. I wore some new to me orange trousers picked up at my Barnardos; my Nomads top and white Gap shirt underneath and my orange Seasalt clogs - all charity shopped. I didn't bother with photos;  because I was going swimming and didn't wear any make-up. I dropped off some spare wire hanging baskets we had to a walking friend, after dinner. She hadn't been able to buy any anywhere having tried all the usual places. We still have two larger hanging baskets to hang and fill at some stage over the next few months. All our hanging baskets were originally donated or car boot finds.

Friday was chilly, wet and grey. Hence the tights (from Snag). Yellow dress bought last Saturday from the Willen Hospice shop in Newport Pagnell; top underneath by Zara and shoes by Hotter both charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.

 I didn't need to get up early for anything on Friday so spent a couple of hours pottering around before I had a shower and got dressed and made up. I went to Sharnbrook to buy some kindling and as they had trays of stocks I bought some quite cheaply. We had stocks last year; they smell divine but don't know what's happened to them. They may be in one of two pots which have contents as yet unknown to us; even if they are stocks and do bloom again I don't think I could ever have enough stocks in the garden. And talking about the garden here's whats blooming or about to bloom:

The delphinium is almost there (top left). The first ever alliums for us (top right). The rhododendron is so close to blooming (bottom left) last year's osteospermum back again (middle right) and our first ever Senetti (bottom left).
The iris is almost there (top left); last years dimorphotheca (another type of osteospermum - top right). A sweet william (bottom left); we have another potful that are just about to bloom as well; the pansies in the planter just keep on going.

In the afternoon I went to Ampthill for a rummage. I hadn't been since last autumn. The Age Concern shop had gone and The Mercy in Action hadn't reopened. That left three others and in Barnardos I bought a slug killer shaped like a frog (you put your murder weapon of choice in the middle; they eat it and die). We're still using crushed chilli flakes as a deterrent but some of the little devils are very persistent...I bought some home made jam in The Willen Hospice shop and that was my lot. No Barbara Pym books. I saw this:

It's an old Bentley, I think and it was blowing bubbles out of its rear end. Good luck to Tony and Katherine whoever you maybe!

Saturday's outfit. Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Avery bought in my Barnardos. Jumper by Next; and blazer by John Rocha also bought in my Barnardos. Mary Jane's can't remember where  got them from.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Saturday was a lazy day.  I read and pottered around the house doing little jobs here and there. I do enjoy a pottering about day. We decided to pop over to Emmaeus as we hadn't been for a while and had a bag of donations to get rid of. I looked for more Barbara Pym books but didn't find any. They had necklaces and bangles selling at 4 for 1.00 so of course I had to buy some! When we got back home we were just about to pot up all the plants I'd bought this week; including some more sweet peas that had arrived by post in the morning; when the heavens opened up with a hail shower! Then the sun came out briefly but then it continued to rain. My brothers arrived and we set out for the birthday meal at the King's Arm's in Cardington.  In the restaurant it was well spaced out with lots of space between tables;  hand sanitiser available, masks worn until you were seated; everyone had to give their contact details or use the NHS app to check in. Previously only one person from a group was required to leave contact details.  There were a lot of brave souls outside enjoying the evening rain and having a drink. The food was disappointing but the company was good. Julian went home by train and I drove the other brothers home to Kettering.

Here we are - a merry bunch!

 I wore this - sorry, it's a dreadful photo taken after 11 at night when I got back from Kettering...

Jacket by Zara; dress by Biba  (both charity shopped) and velvet trousers by M&S; retail in 2012! I wore these same trousers the first time I ever met my brother, Julian, in 2013...

The week began with taking both grandsons to school on Monday morning as the middle grandson had his GCSE English exam. Good luck, Isaiah! Then once I was ready it was off to Barnardos for a morning off receiving donations and processing them as fast as I could.

Seem to have splashed some water on my skirt - I hope it's water...

Everything charity shopped. Skirt by Betty Barclay, top by Next and home made vintage jacket  bought in the Red Cross shop. Shoes by Clarks; also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from Sainsburys bought many years ago.

A while ago I broke one of my favourite necklaces. I had the idea to make some earrings out of the beads; some of which looked liked liquorice allsorts. I  already had jewellery pliers and earring hooks that I'd bought from eBay a while ago, as I often customise the earrings I find in charity shops. I sent off for some metal rods that go through the beads to make the earrings up. The first lot I bought were the wrong size but I reordered the right size which arrived on Monday. My plan is to make some earrings and I'll show you my efforts in my next post. We're off to the cinema on Monday evening to see 'Nomadland'. Another little step towards normality!


  1. Fabulous outfits, as always! love your rainbow of trousers, you must have a pair in every colour.
    Happy Birthday to your lovely chap, I'm so glad you were able to celebrate in style. We've not eaten out in the UK since March 2020!
    That necklcae Esme was wearing was created with empty hand santiser bottles, isn't she a genius? I think she does make her own clothes - like Patrick. She's so small I bet it would be impossible to find anything in her size!
    Have a look at the Nationa Trust website, they've got some gorgeous vegetarian and vegan recipes. I'm almost tempted to make one myself.
    I like your plans for jewellery making! xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix!

      Esme is my style icon and I guessed she made her own clothes because of the shortness...
      I'll check the NT website out, thanks.

  2. Awesome outfits, Vronni! I love your yellow dress. I'm so happy for you -eating out in mixed company...indoors! I love hearing about your charity hunts/finds and seeing all your pictures too. Lovely to see cygnets! We do have some swans here, but I haven't seen them in ages.

    1. Thank you Sheila,

      I'm sure if look carefully you'll find some cygnets...

  3. How great you were able to get everyone together for a celebration. I haven't been out for a meal indoors or out for over a year, but it is something to look forward to. They've lifted all restrictions here (hard eye roll) so no giving out contact details or anything of the sort.
    Beautiful outfits again, and the green of those Snag tights has me quite tempted to order a pair. They're beautiful.
    Having the pool to yourself even for 10 minutes is such a treat. Ours is expected to open at the end of the month-I can't wait.

    The sideboard might be the best thing I've ever seen from a charity shop. What a bargain too.

    1. Thank you, Goody.

      I'm so delighted with my sideboard.

  4. The yellow dress looks brilliant on you and I love that you included lots of floral pieces in our outfits. You always seem to find such lovely accessories.

    1. Thank you, Lovely. You certainly live up to your name!

  5. As usual, a very busy fortnight for you, I feel so slobby when I read of all your action packed days.
    Like you I enjoy lazy starts even after 10 years of retirements. That and the pottering were some of the things I looked forward to when I retired. I had an aunt who had worked hard all her life and in retirement liked nothing more than to sit by the fire, doing nothing. I think her retirement was just what she’d wished for all those busy years.
    Our birds are still ravenous and we’re forever filling up their table and seed containers.
    I’m loving seeing the delphiniums bursting forth, your garden is doing so well. I’ve bought my first sweet William but have yet to plant it out. Keep posting your gardening pics please!

    Lovely outfits and buys, and oh how amazing is that sideboard. You’ll get so much use out of it.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your earrings; I too bought bits of jewellery kit as I have a bag full of loose beads, but have yet to use it so I’m hoping you’ll inspire me!
    I bought a dress, a top and a necklace from my fave charity shop last week after my dentist visit, thought I deserved a reward after walking through town with my face all puffed up and frozen from aesthetic. But I didn’t come home with a sideboard!

    Hugs x.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I'm so glad you still enjoy lazy starts after 10 years of retirement. I hope my enjoyment never wears off; especially after a lifetime of being responsible for getting others up and out in the mornings.

      I had to go and buy more bird supplies today...

      Well done on your chazza finds; I have to admit buying a sideboard was a bit extreme but luckily it doesn't happen very often; my other one was 18 years old.

  6. First of all, a belated happy birthday to OH! I do hope he's able to reduce his working days. My semi-furlough has given me a taste of retirement as well, but I'm not there yet. I am making plans to work only 4-day weeks once I've reached the big 6-0, which - gulp - is in September!
    Wonderful parade of your usual colourful outfits, with my favourite being the one with the green Per Una coat.
    Your garden is coming along nicely as well. I had to buy another - almost fully grown - Delphinium due to the original one I planted being decimated by slugs :-(
    It must be wonderful going for group walks again. And I'm completely bowled over by your new sideboard, which I think is an absolutely stunning piece of furniture! xxx

    1. Roll on September - you'll notice the difference...

      Damn those slugs!

  7. belated "happy birthday" to OH!!
    you´r wearing some gorgeous patterned tops lately! love big scale prints. but the favs are the kimono look and the outfit you wore to meet your bro´s.......
    the new sideboard is a stunner!! would have bought it too, would fit perfectly into the BWH :-D
    lovely flowers in your little garden - but they´r all late this year - everwhere. my päonias - "pfingstrosen" - have overslept "pfingsten" - they´r still tightly closed......

    1. Thank you, Beate.

      It was a bit extravagant buying the sideboard but the other was 18 years old and I needed more storage space...

      Hopefully, if the flowers are late blooming they'll bloom for longer?

  8. Matchless outfits as always. But OMG that sideboard is amazing - and £60! Score or what?! Also that Biba tunic/frock is to die for.

    1. Hello Fig!

      Good to hear from you and thank you. Yes, I'm so pleased with the sideboard...

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  9. Belated Happy Birthday to OH!, and glad that you could celebrate it in a restaurant!, meeting people again sounds like heaven!
    Lovely post and lovely outfits!. I'm loving your printed tops and colourful trousers, so fabulous ensembles, particularly the blue-turquoise leaves printed shirt with white jeans!, also lovely pink&green outfit and kimono jacket with black trousers (so elegant!)
    And you rock in your yellow dress, so fabulous!
    Always lovely to read about so many activities and rummaging!, and also lovely to discover Barbara Pym's novels (which I'm now looking for too!)

    1. Thank you, Monica.

      I think Barbara Pym is the sort of author who wouldn't appeal to that many people. She writes a lot about clergymen and the type of women who do a lot for the church which can be a very narrow focus. I did enjoy the books of hers I read and they can be quite funny in places. She is often compared to Jane Austen; the 20th century version of you like but as I've never read Jane Austen I can't comment on that!


Fine weather, flea markets and funerals.

Hello and welcome! Posting a day later than usual; if you want to know why - do read on... (Pre-hair cut of course!) Wednesday was a lovely ...