Tuesday, 31 August 2021

And we're off!

Hello again! This was what I wore to the food bank on Tuesday. It was a cool overcast day and I definitely needed a jacket. What's happened to the summer? The first time in 7 years I've spent August in the UK and the weather has not been good...

Palazzo pants from Bedford Market, top by Principles, charity shopped as were the Hotter shoes.

All jewellery charity shopped; the bangle is the most recent purchase bought in Oxfam, Notting Hill on our recent trip to London. After the food bank I went to town to the bank, the library and to buy some more face wash and few other bits and pieces. I stopped at two charity shops and bought an African top for 1.00; a cross body bag in a nude colour and a M&S skirt which will work for all year round. In the evening I went for a swim managing 42 laps (1.4km).

Although some things had died back or gone over in the garden there were new and exciting things popping up. We had the beginnings of tomatoes and the green peppers were swelling. There was a second spike on the hollyhocks...

Our remaining three (of four) fuchsias were blooming or about to bloom...

Wednesday was the day our walking group said farewell to one of our members; David, who died in 2020. He was cremated in 2020 and because of Covid no one could go to the service; not even his daughter who lived in Germany. On Wednesday his ashes were interred in Sandy Cemetery, and many of the walking group attended. One of our members gave a wonderful eulogy.  David was a very nice man and his eulogy was well deserved. In true walkers style the walk included not just a walk after the interment but a stop for tea/coffee and cake - just as David liked to do. Our coffee (we brought our own) and cake stop (baked by various members) was at the RSPB Headquarters (The Lodge) which was close to the cemetery in Sandy. We then walked a circular route back to the car park and town centre making it a 5 mile walk in total. The weather was bright and sunny; a perfect day for walking.

When I got back to Bedford, I met up with middle grandson and we went into town to buy his mum a birthday present for Sunday. I cooked dinner and read more my book;  'East West Street' which was a fascinating, informative and beautifully written account of the legal concepts of 'Genocide' and 'Crimes Against Humanity';  and how they became enshrined in International Law after WW2. It sounds dry as dust but using the case studies of several people including the author's own grandfather; it made for a wonderful read. August was a slow reading month for me; I read mainly non-fiction. I only managed to read 6 books in August whereas in July I read 11.

This was what I wore on Wednesday; I replaced the trousers for walking trousers and the shoes for walking boots. Everything charity shopped. Trousers by Whistles; tunic by Masai and grey tee underneath bought from 1.00 rail somewhere.

Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

On Thursday, my brother Tony and I went out for the day. Tony wanted to see Castle Ashby  gardens in Northants so off we went. The weather was warm with sunny spells and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Everything I wore was charity shopped except the white pumps bought in Primark. Dress bought in an Olney charity shop; denim jacket as before. Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped, too.

Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton; currently lived in by the heir to the estate, the Earl of Compton. The house is not open to the public but the gardens are. The house was built in 1574 by Henry Compton; continued by his son William who was made Earl of Northampton. The gardens and parkland were designed by Capability Brown and included 2 lakes, a Ha-ha, an Orangery, a menagerie and walled and  Italianate gardens. Close by were the church of St. Mary Magdalene and estate cottages.
This was the church and part of the graveyard. Brother decided to give a sermon...
There were lovely displays of flowers, but surprisingly no roses. Apparently, the deer eat them! There were some roses close to the house but that area was all non accessible to the public.
The Orangery
Part of the formal gardens
The Fuchsia House outside and inside. They grow 180 varieties of fuchsias at Castle Ashby.
The Menagerie. Those are Kunekune pigs; meerkats and a huge tortoise (1 of 2) - especially for Vix's Jacob!
We had tea and cake in the tea rooms  at Castle Ashby and went to a nearby village, Lavendon, for a meal after our visit. After dropping Tony home to Kettering I made it to Bedford in time for a 7 pm swim where I managed 43 laps.

Saturday was our 'Oranges and Lemons' walk with the walking group. There was an original extended version of the better known rhyme and that's the one we followed; taking in 14 churches instead of the 5 churches in the better known rhyme. 

Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Marg'ret's.

Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.

Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.

Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's.

Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Ann's.

Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Chop chop chop chop
The last man's dead!
We didn't visit the churches in the order of the rhyme as that would have made for an 18 mile walk -  but we did walk 10 miles in total; mostly around the City of London and out to Whitechapel and Stepney to the east. The City of London is a city, ceremonial county and local government district (the Corporation of London) within London. It contains the historic centre and the primary business district. It has its own police force separate from the Metropolitan Police Force and its own square plaques; unlike the round blue ones seen elsewhere in London. 
I'm not going to show you photos of all the churches we saw just things took my fancy as we wandered around; with a bit of commentary when required...
Part of the original London Wall. London was once a walled city and remnants survive; this one was near the Barbican. It is also a postal address as can be seen on the right!

The Barbican.
One of the best examples of brutalist archtecture in London; this huge estate was built after the second world war for mostly middle class and professional people to rent.  It contains a huge performing arts centre and the estate is now Grade II listed as a whole. My aunt who worked for the British Library for many years; had friends who lived in one of the flats here.

In contrast, we also walked through 'Arnold Circus'; a circular street and one of London's first council (social housing) estates built between 1894 and 1896; named after the Chair of London County Council (LCC) at the time; Sir Arnold Arthur.
This was the original Arnold Circus school building.

We stopped for a break in a small park near the Barbican and saw Esme Young of 'The Great British Sewing Bee;' having a coffee with a friend in the cafe sitting outside. Whilst I would never take a photo of someone without asking their permission first and I wouldn't ask someone famous if I could have a selfie with them; I couldn't stop myself waving enthusiastically at Esme and grinning like an idiot. She was wearing a denim jacket but I couldn't see what she had on her botom half as she was sat down...

Some  of the churches mentioned in the rhyme; St. Margaret's, St. Martin's and St. Clements.

And some more:
 St. Dunstan's and All Saints Church in Stepney  - 'When will that be, said the bells of Stepney'
Top: St. Helen's; bottom left; Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Old Bailey) and right St. Giles, Cripplegate (one of the original gates into the walled City of London).

This is where all the church bells were made and it still produces them today. 
And finally...

London graffitti

Art Deco flats just off Whitechapel Road near the London Hospital. Built between 1937 -38 to designs by H. Victor Kerr. According to this SOURCE the flats are seen as the 'most assertive expression of the Modernist style'.

The gardens of the City Farm where we stopped for lunch.

The Gherkin; up close and personal...
We arrived home about 6 pm on Saturday footsore and hungry;  we had fish and chips for dinner and watched a couple more episodes of 'The Devil's Throat' in the evening.

Sunday was a busy day as all three brothers, my daughter, grandson and ex daughter-in-law came for dinner. Youngest grandson was spending the week in London with his Dad's brother and his cousins. I missed him. I had to go to Lidl early as I'd forgotten a couple of things on Friday when I did the weekly food shop.  I went to Home Bargains for bird food supplies and picked up two plants reduced to 50p each; one was a sedum and the other was a Platycodon. I'd made a vegetarian curry on Friday for Sunday; I didn't have to cook anything but there was the housework to do and washing etc. It was a lovely day and everyone enjoyed themselves. OH made chicken curry, rice, green banana and plaintain and I made a salad and coleslaw to go with the caluliflour, chickpea and spinach vegetarian curry; there was plenty to eat and we all had a drink except me as I drove the brothers home to Kettering in the evening; and drove Julian to the station after that. My bed was calling to me by then!

Everything charity shopped. Shirt by Dunne's Stores. Jeans by Next;  kimono handmade but bought in my Barnardo's. Red shoes online retail and all jewellery charity shopped.

This was Monday's outfit. Top by Damart and trousers were labeless - both charity shopped. Shoes; Sainsbury's retail.

Barnardo's was very quiet but that may have been because we opened at 11am as we were stock taking. There were definitely fewer customers and donations than usual on a Monday.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I spent the afternoon catching up with blogland and reading. I also did two washes which were both hung out to dry and put away by bed time. I hate having washing hanging around the house which happens throughout most of autumn and winter...

On Tuesday our one and only sunflower bloomed!

This was what I wore to the food bank on Tuesday. Everything charity shopped. Pumps picked up at Barnardo's on Monday; blazer by John Rocha; trousers by F&F and top by Papaya. I didn't like it on me so it's been redonated.  I wouldn't be back at Barnardo's for another 3 weeks; the following Monday was a UK bank holiday and I'd be in Ireland on holiday after that.

All jewellery charity shopped except the ring which was bought retail years ago.
My daughter joined me at the food bank and helped for a couple of hours. This was very timely as one of the regular volunteers was on grandparent duties so we were one person short. I went to Newport Pagnell for a quick rummage in the afternoon. One of the shops was closed due to lack of staff but I got lucky and found a pair of brown suede clogs (Lotta of Stockholm) reduced from 5.00 to 2.50 in my size! I also found a book for 50p. I came back prepared dinner, then went for a swim. I did 43 laps or 1.4k.

On Wednesday, I walked with my group from Lidlington on a 7.3 mile walk; quite a lot of it was uphill and one bit was on a path that doesn't appear on the OS map; across a previous landfill site!  I stayed in my walking clothes for the day so no outfit photo. In the evening we watched the final episodes of 'The Devil's Throat'. It became quite gripping the further we got into it. Next on our list to watch was 'The Crimson Lakes' Series 2.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

On Thursday I spent the day with my daughter and we went to Cambridge. We walked around looking at the colleges and the beautiful buildings. The original plan had been to do an open bus top tour but they were only running at weekends. We wanted to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum but it was fully booked. Most of the colleges were closed and Kettle's Yard was also fully booked. Things were still not quite back to normal...

It was also the first day in a long while I felt cold. There was a chilly breeze all day. I was glad I wore this knitted white top as it offered some warmth; the skirt by East; the denim jacket as before and the pumps by New Look were all charity shopped. Autumn was on its way; we saw lots of fallen leaves.

On the Park and Ride bus.
Below top: Detail on the gate of St. John's College; bottom; King's College.
Some of the artefacts in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The heads and hands were recently made by Nigerian sculptor and were not antiquities but I loved them. I wasn't sure whether or not I could take photos so I only took a few...

Friday's weather was pretty much the same as Thursday. Summer was over. Ann of Polyester Princess HERE called it 'the summer that never was' - how accurate a description that was!

After a 6.3 mile walk in the morning; I went to do the weekly food shop at Lidl and Aldi. I wore this skirt (home made African print - not by me!) and a Papaya top; both charity shopped; with Sainsbury's faux animal print clogs. Did you spot my new picture? It's by Gustav Klimt ('Tree of Life') and was bought at Barnardo's a couple of weeks ago. I repositioned the two other pictures by Ana Juan on the walls each side of the bay window.

All jewellery charity shopped. I made dinner for grandson and OH and in the evening we watched more episodes of 'The Crimson Tides' and I started on my second library book. I needed to have it read and returned to the library before we set off to Ireland.

The title says it all - it was a great read.
It linked back to our recent visit to Liberty's in London - a very good example of recycling and reusing. Liberty was built in the 1920s in a pastiche of Tudor style; teak for the external timbers and oak for the interior were from 2 old men-of-war (boats) HMS Hindustan (built in 1841) and HNS Impregnable. The shopfloors were constructed from ship's decks.

From the book I also learned what an astonishing array of things can be made from bones...

I joined the North Beds Ramblers for a walk on Saturday. It started at Olney so I got there early and went for a rummage in their 3 charity shops. I found a large ceramic bowl I could use as a plant pot for the two Veronica Gentianoidies that I picked up last week at Aldi; a pair of white sandals from Dolcis (that's a blast from the past; Dolcis shoeshops shut in 2008 after going into administration) and a couple of books. I had time to return my finds to the car, put my walking boots and socks on and meet everyone at the Market Square at 1.30pm. We walked 5.7 miles; mostly uphill, through fields and a wood. The weather was very pleasant with bursts of warm sunshine which was very welcome after the two chilly day we'd just had.

Everything was charity shopped. Black linen trousers by M&S; striped tunic by H&M, black tee by Primarni and clogs by Seasalt. I just replaced my trousers with waterproof walking trousers and clogs for walking boots and socks.

Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

We had a busy but relaxed Sunday. The weather was overcast and not particularly warm but we got busy in the garden. At last the mini greenhouse was put up! I chopped back a rampant and non-flowering honeysuckle from the back wall; it was choking the passion flower. I may have destroyed it or it may still be clinging on and only time will tell.  To make room for the greenhouse I also had to chop back and remove a honeysuckle growing from a pot. It had never flowered and the leaves always turned brown so it wass no loss. I also did some dead heading whilst OH potted up my Veronica plants and two miniature roses I'd bought at Lidl on Friday. Someone put a large wicker hanging basket on our outside wall (possibly next door neighbour - thank you) so we transferred a trailing geranium from a window box to it; and hung it at the side of the alleyway. I shall buy some winter flowering pansies for the window box, I think.

I'd gathered allium, foxglove, hollyhocks and stock seeds from what we had in the garden and was in the process of drying them out. When we get back from Ireland I shall plant them up. I am determined to have some nasturtiums next year and will pick up seeds from Wilco or QD next time I visit. Luckily, we had saved quite a few small plastic pots from bought plants and these will be reused to plant seeds and cuttings. An ex-colleague came round in the afternoon to get her passport signed and she took a cutting of OH's canna lily - 'Yellow King Humbert'. In the evening we watched the BBC submarine drama; 'Vigil'.

Apologies for these awful photos. I took them about 5pm and the light was terrible. I wore my Seasalt 'Mill Pool' dress with leggings (Primarni) and my new to me Lotta brown clogs - all charity shopped. They were very comfortable. I'd walked into town in the morning to pick up a few gardening bits and had tested them out. All jewellery charity shopped.

Both grandsons came to dinner and the youngest grandson stayed overnight as his mum was at a local festival. I've booked to take them to an outdoor aqua park here in Bedford next week which included hiring wet suits! I haven't had much chance to do anything with them this holiday so this was my final attempt before they returned to school/sixth form. We'd also go for a meal after the aquapark; probably Nando's as the grandchildren love it. If they don't have any chicken we may have to re-think!

Bank Holiday Monday was grey and damp and also a bit cool. I wore a jumper and a jacket. Trousers by Banana Republice, jumper by Next; jacket by Classic and no name sandals; all charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.

After a leisurely breakfast I got ready and took youngest grandson home. From there I went to B&M to get a plant for the window box. No winter flowering pansies but I found an interesting Trandescantia which can also be a house plant. OH potted it up and I took a cutting and put it into water to see if it roots; if it does I'll plant it for a house plant. I had planned a laid back day. I could have gone for a walk but decided against it as there was housework to be done and books waiting to be read...I also began my packing for Ireland.

You can see some of packing hanging up...

It's definitely turned into Autumn here in the UK. You can see I'm back to wearing jackets again. I spoke to cousin Linda at the weekend who said that Ireland has been having lovely weather. What's the betting it will change as soon as we get there? Anyhow, I was looking forward to some sea swimming and it doesn't really matter what the weather is like; the sea is quite warm still in September and apparently at its warmest in October! It was back to the food bank on Tuesday where I continued to make up hygiene packs. It was drizzling when I arrived but had stopped by the time I left. I went for a swim in the afternoon. As it was the end of the school holidays the swimming timetable had changed again so I was back to afternoon swimmimng. I did my 42 laps and went home to hang out a wash; catch up with blogs and write this post. It will be more than a fortnight when I next post as we're in Ireland for two weeks with no wifi connection. I'm not likely to be able to comment on your blogs either but I'll have plenty to tell you when I get back! Meanwhile, stay safe and as wonderful as you all are.

Everything charity shopped; green jeans no label; jacket by Nightingales via Vinted; cardigan by Twenty-One and pumps by River Island.

Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped.


  1. Yay! I'm so pleased that you're off to Ireland and hope the weather really is better over there, hasn't it been a miserable month?
    Where do I start?
    A lovely send-off for your walking friend, David.
    Isn't Castle Ashby magnificent? I loved the tortoise, he is a big boy! Tony preaching from the pulpit made me giggle, I wouldn't have been able to resist doing that either.
    Those blue plaques are stunning. A lady who used to blog a few years ago had a boyfriend who lived at The Barbican, he must have been loaded!
    Rummage looks like a cracking read.
    Well done on scoring the Lottas, they really are comfy, aren't they?
    Loving all the outfits, the East skirt and the waxed cotton ones are my favourites!
    See you next month, have fun! xxxx

    1. Thank you, Vix.

      The Lotta's are very comfortable indeed. I really enjoyed 'Rummage' 0 just returned it to the library.

  2. I am curious to know whether Esme waved back to you?
    have a wonderful trip!

    1. Thank you, JayCee. Esme just smiled back and looked quite chuffed so I didn't feel such a twat...

  3. It really has been the most miserable Summer, hasn't it? It feels as if I've been waiting for it to start for months, hence "the Summer that never was". I'm pleased you liked my description, thank you for the shout out.
    I was most moved by your account of David's send-off, and your Oranges and Lemons walk makes me want to go to London again. Thank you for sharing the whole rhyme, as I only knew and remembered parts.
    I am loving the Gustav Klimt print, by the way!
    Fabulous outfits as always. It's quite impossible to choose a favourite, but the one where you're wearing the green headscarf definitely stood out for me.
    Have a most wonderful trip to Ireland, Vronni! xxx

    1. Thanks, Ann - I'll do my best to have a wonderful time!

  4. Autumn already? That was fast. Maybe it will warm up a bit later in the season before the jackets stay on for good.
    Those peppers and tomatoes are looking good.
    I had no idea there were still parts of the original wall in London. What a fascinating thing that I'm sure most people just walk by without thinking about.
    Have a great trip.

  5. Sadly bells are no longer made at the Whitechapel bell foundry and despite huge local opposition the council has just given planning permission for it to be turned into a boutique hotel. Despite the existence of a fully costed plan to keep it as a working bell foundry.

    1. Oh no, that's outrageous! It makes me so mad. What on earth do we need another hotel for? It seems to be the story everywhere people protest about new developments - here in Bedford it's the East West railway link which means some people some where will lose their homes to compulsory purchase and despite protests, petitions etc.

  6. Have a wonderful time in Ireland, Vronni!

    I always love your posts - it's like I'm having tea and catching up with you. I loved seeing all the sights of London - I'm a fan of Brutalist architecture (I work in a Brutalist office building) and jewelry. What a fun poem that is! I've only heard bits and pieces of it. I'm glad you got to celebrate your walking friend's passing - we still haven't had a memorial for our dear friend who died of cancer in June 2020.

    Wonderful outfits - my favourite pieces are the dress worn under your jean jacket, the next full jean jacket outfit (you have a Rosie the Riveter vibe!), and those fabulous BR trousers.

    So impressed with your reading - I've been doing well this year, on my way to (possibly) a record year for my own reading, but I'm well behind you! That "Rummage" book looks right up my alley!

    Take care, my dear! See you in a few weeks!

    1. Thank you, Sheila.

      I feel the same about your weekend posts - time for a catch up!

      I still can't work out how I managed to read more when I worked....

      Have a fab weekend

  7. A busy time! Enjoyed reading about your tour of London, and the photos of the Cambridge University buildings. Not to mention Castle Ashby. I would be at home in the fuchsia house. I love fuchsias but only had the two hardy fuchsias this year and they weren't spectacular. My favourite outfits: the duck egg Principles top and palazzo pants, and African print skirt and papaya top.

    Enjoy your time in Ireland!

  8. wishing you a gorgeous time in ireland!!
    thank you for taking me to london and castle ashby - loved the brutalist buildings and the park of the manor house is stunning......
    you wore some chic maxi skirts and headscarves!

  9. I really enjoyed your pictures! I love seeing other countries and the garden pictures are beautiful. I enjoy all of your use of color: makes me happy!

  10. Yes, this August was rubbish! At least we've had a few warm days in September.

    OMG you saw Esme! I'd have been horribly starstruck too. Though she is a little terrifying.

    Those heads in the museums are great - it'd be nice if museums gave back looted stuff and bought, ethically, things from cultures around the world instead.

  11. Just found your blog, and how great you look in all your charity shop buys. I wish our charity shops in our area had such interesting things, but maybe I'm not searching carefully enough.
    One question, Vronni: how do you keep your red lipstick looking so neat and fresh? Do you use a lipstick primer? I've often wondered whether this would be useful for me, as I also like red lipstick but don't want it seeping into creases around my lips. Love also how you tie a scarf into a turban around your hair (I also have short silver - never grey! - hair; it grew so long during lockdown that I had it in a bob and then decided short hair was far more me, so it's now back looking like it did pre-lockdown). I'm now looking forward to your next post. My blog is at www.margaretpowling.com

    1. Hello and thank you for visiting my blog.

      Re the lipstick; firstly I use a transparent lip liner which stops the bleeding into creases. Bodyshop used to do a fab one but have stopped it. I've been using a Max Factor one which at 5.00 is not good value as the tip needs resharpening almost everytime I use it. I'm still looking for a better one but I won't pay a lot of money. Also if it's ordinary lipstick I blot and reapply several times. With lockdown and mask wearing I wore Maybelline Lip Ink Matte which is virtually immoveable once on but hard to remove!
      I shall hop over to your blog now and have a read...

    2. Thank you for telling me about the transparent lip liner, Vronni. Look Fabulous Forever, a company who produce makeup for we older women, make one but it's around £20 and I think that's more than a bit goey. I use a lip lining pencil from Boots from their No 7 range, but it's not as good as I'd have hoped. I shall have to search for something, just as you have done. I don't like having to sharpen an eyebrow pencil or a lip liner because they inevitably break just as they look about right. Glad you found my blog!
      Margaret P (www.margaretpowling.com)

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Lost earrings, birthday and some sad news.

Hello!  This was me in my walking outfit on Wednesday; plus waterproof coat, scarf and gloves. It was both a wet and cold day.  I'd put ...