Tuesday 21 September 2021

And we're back!

 I've cheated a little bit with the title as I'm backtracking to the Wednesday before we set off for Ireland. I had planned to walk with my group in Woburn Sands and do a 7 mile walk. I wasn't too confident as to where Woburn Sands was so I used Google Maps on my phone. I don't know what went wrong but it sent me on a huge loop almost ending up back at home so I drove to Milton Ernest and recce'd a new walk that I'll be leading in October. There wasn't enough time to reset the Sat Nav as if you're not at the start point on a Rambler's walk by 10 am sharp they don't wait around! Anyway, I was pleased with new walk of 7.5 miles and it stayed dry although it rained on the way home. One thing puzzled me. Most of the fields on one particular part of the walk had been harvested but I spotted small piles of grain at edge of one field. Then I came across this:

It's a huge pile of grain where the big compost heap usually is and it was burning; you can see the smoke in the photo. I cannot understand why a farmer would grow fields of grains, harvest them and then burn them. It seemed pointless and incredibly wasteful to me. I need to try and find out why...I suppose the grain could have been diseased?

After the walk I changesd in to this. Everything second hand/charity shopped. Skirt by Whistles via Vinted; top 1.00 rail. Shoes by Hotter.

I tried a half tuck on the top for the first time ever!

All jewellery charity shopped. I walked to town to get my eyebrows tinted and waxed and to return my library books. On the way home I bought myself a yellow denim jacket from the market for 5.00;  I also stopped at the 3:16 charity shop for a rummage and bought a dress in the summer sale for 3.00. I probably wouldn't get a chance to wear it in Ireland so I planned to wear it on Thursday when I took the grandsons to the Aqua Park and out for something to eat.

I went to the hairdressers on Thursday morning then came back to finish my packing. I made a vegetable soup to use up some of the fresh produce we had.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Jacket: Bedford market; dress 3:16 charity shop; shoes charity shopped and blue tee from Primarni several years ago.

This was at the Aqua Park with both boys geared up with wetsuits and life jackets. They had great fun; said they hadn't felt cold but were both quite tired after a lot of climbing. jumping, falling in and hauling themselves up and down the equipment.  The brief video above gives you a taste of how knackered they were swimming back to shore at the end of the session! They look pretty miserable in these photos but that was before they got into the water. They both said they want to come back so it was definitely a success. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it sooner.

The route I sometimes take when I'm out for a walk passes behind the trees across the lake and I get a good view of the Aquapark. You can water ski here, paddle board and swim. I want to try the outdoor swimming when I get back from Ireland; apparently I'll need to buy a brightly coloured swim hat first. After the boys had got dressed we met my daughter and went out for something to eat. The waiting time at Nando's was too long so went to the Alpero Lounge by the river where the food was good and the view of the river was lovely.

A farewell walk around the garden on a warm and sunny Friday threw up some new items:

The Rudbeckia was in full flower and the Montbretia or Crocosmia at the back finally flowered with these differently shaped flowers. Or maybe I just hadn't looked too closely at the flowers before?
One of the long defunct stocks had burst into a second flower. The tomatoes were bigger but still green and there was a second magnolia bud on the magnolia tree. There was also a second fruiting on the raspberry bush but I ate those before I took the photos...

This mimulus (on the right) I thought had died back but it produced more flowers - a second show!

My camera tripod had broken mysteriously overnight so it was a mirror selfie to show you what I travelled to Birkenhead in on Friday where we stayed at a Travel Lodge.  The last time I wore this top was the day I met cousin Marian for the first time in March 2019! Jeans by Next and black pumps by BP? Everything charity shopped including the jewellery. We caught the ferry on Saturday morning to Belfast which was only a two hour journey to Donegal and our mobile home.

This was the view from the mobile home window. It's one I could never tire of. The caravan was fine; only superficial mildew on things and we spent Saturday giving it a good clean and air out. The weather in Ireland during our stay was pretty good. It was mostly warm, frequently humid and we had occasional sunny days. One Tuesday it was 26 degrees and we went to Mullaghmore; where I went for an evening sea swim with my cousin's wife which was glorious. I would liked to have stayed in longer than the 30 minutes we did but we had to get to the restaurant where they stopped serving food by 7.45pm...

Just after the swim - dripping costume and aqua shoes in hand. This useful cover up is what I wear after a sea swim; charity shopped last year in Ireland.

Martina, Leonard Cohen and I in the foyer of the restaurant after our meal. Everything I'm wearing was charity shopped except the black bag by Wallis via Vinted.

OH and I did several walks of 5 miles whilst we were in Donegal; one of which involved hills all the way. Here are some of the views from the top of one of the hills:

You can make out the mobile home site to the right of this photo...

We both had aching calf and thigh muscles after this particular walk!

Left; taken in 'The Diamond' (a square) in Donegal; top left; on the mobile home patio and below in Hargadon's pub in Sligo Town. The only thing I'm wearing that wasn't charity shopped was the green Vera Tucci tunic (top right) bought in their closing down sale for a charity shop price!
Co. Sligo. Top; Raughly Harbour where we watched a fisherman unload his lobster pots and below;  Mount Knocknarea with Queen Maeve's tomb on the top which you can just make out...

It was a pretty busy 11 days involving a lot of driving around to see relatives. We stayed with cousin Linda in Co. Kerry for 3 days and drove to counties Sligo, Leitrim and Offaly to see aunts, uncles and cousins on different days. We drove to Belfast on the last day where we stayed overnight in a Travel Lodge (cheap and cheerful and you know what you're getting). OH had not been to Belfast before so once we had settled in we went out for an explore and a rummage. We found 5 open charity shops in and around the city centre. In total during my stay in Ireland I bought a pair of shoes, a denim jacket, a dress, a jumper and 2 pairs of trousers in Irish charity shops; plus some jewellery and quite a few books. Belfast was a lovely city to stay in full of wonderful Victorian buildings.
Some of the shop fronts were beautifully decorated. The bottom one had lovely Art Noveau tile inserts which are easier to see if you click on the image.
I didn't know what the top building was but it was clearly Masonic at one time. That's Belfast Custom House seen from the bridge across the River Lagan.

Brilliant murals. Left - a sea food restaurant and the one on the right marked the site of a previous brewery.

The Albert Clock.

I agreed with the sentiment expressed in the words on the Unite (UK Trade union) building...

Belfast City Hall

Belfast Opera House

Just a random sign...

By the River Lagan looking across to the Harland and Wolfe ship yard - the 'Salmon of Life', I think!

We had a lovely stay in Ireland and I was grateful we were able to travel freely. Ireland has not yet ceased Covid restrictions and we had to get used to wearing masks in shops, cafes and restaurants and to showing our Covid vaccination card when requested. We finally arrived home late on Friday evening but I was up early on Saturday and off to do the grocery shopping. I spent the rest of the day doing all the washing we had accumulated and the bed linen and towels from the mobile home. OH got on with tidying up and watering the garden which was looking a little sorry for itself. Several plants had died and several had gone over but I was delighted to see the Delphinium had had a second flowering. Unfortunately it was top heavy and had bent over breaking off. I put it in a vase.

My daughter's birthday was on Sunday and earlier in the year I'd bought her a ticket to the 'Strawberries and Cream' festival in Cambridgeshire as part of her birthday present. I also ended up driving her to the venue on Saturday afternoon and picking her up again around midnight! She had a fab time and was back on Sunday for the second day.

I went for 5.2 mile walk on Sunday morning and then did the dreaded housework and cooked dinner. Both grandsons came for dinner on Sunday and youngest grandson stayed over as mum was at the festival. That meant taking him to school on Monday morning as he usually bikes from home. This is middle grandson after a haircut and a shave; and the youngest on his first day at secondary school. He started when we were on holiday. Middle grandson started 6th Form college whilst we were away, too. Both seem to have settled into the new environments and both are enjoying their new learning experiences.

An Arsenal fan.

A Liverpool fan.

I may have mentioned that my tripod broke but I managed to order a new one which arrived on Monday. It would only take photos with my phone camera in the landscape position so I had to return it and order another one.  It hasn't arrived as I write this post but it should arrive this week. I managed to take these photos of what I wore to Barnardo's on Monday by just propping the phone up on the kitchen counter!

Everything charity shopped. Dress by Monsoon; trousers from M&S. Pumps from Bon Prix (I finally read the inside!) all bought from my Barnardo's.

Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped except the necklace which was brought back from South Africa for me by my ex- mum in law.

Back to the food bank on Tuesday morning and I went for a swim on Tuesday evening. I just about managed to do 42 laps (1.4) as the life guard blew his whistle to signal everyone had to get out of the pool. On Wednesday, I'm walking with my group in Harpenden which is about 30 miles from Bedford so I'm praying for a dry day. See you in a fortnight!


  1. welcome back!
    the ireland trip looks gorgeous - very grand landscapes and belfast is a picturesque city. i´m a bit envious about you swimming in the sea - my last time was more then 10 years ago..... don´t ask.
    love your stripey cover-up and the patchwork maxi..... grandsons look dapper with newly haircut and school uniform.
    as for the burning grain - it really could be diseased. if it were only over-production it would be easier to just plow it under without harvesting.

    1. Thank you, Beate!

      Sea swimming is something I love to do more than any other outdoor activity; I just wished I lived closer to the sea in the UK than I do...

  2. I love that white skirt and the dress you featured! Looking forward to adding layers. About to take my son for a haircut today. We went to his first dance on Friday at homecoming and looked really handsome but his hair was wild. Handsome grandsons! It always nice to have a fresh cut before school.

    1. Thank you!

      How sweet to take your son to his first dance. I remember taking my eldest grandson to his prom when he left school - ah happy days!

  3. That went quick, I can't believe you're back already! It's good to hear you had a wonderful time, and the weather gods were reasonably well behaved. The view from your mobile home is fantastic, no wonder you never tire of it.
    Gorgeous outfits as always, my favourite this time is the dress you wore to take the boys to the Aqua Park, and the striped dress you're using as a cover up after a swim. How amazing you were able to swim in the sea! xxx

  4. I so enjoyed all your photos, Vronni! You have a good eye for detail - I love architectural things, murals and artworks. I exclaimed aloud at Leonard Cohen (a Canuck!), who I love and saw twice in concert. Your grandsons are handsome young men - that waterpark looks like a blast. Wonderful outfits as always, and such gorgeous vistas!

    Great to see you again - welcome back!

  5. Loving your Ireland photos, what an cracking view of where your mobile home is! Belfast looks amazing. Jon stayed at The Europa (as was) back in the day and said he was very jittery when he learned it was the most bombed hotel in Europe!
    I love the patchwork dress and always admire that lovely green cardi when you wear it. I cannot wait to swin in the sea, pools just aren't the same!
    What handsome young men your grandsons are, great genes! xxx

    1. We saw the Europa Hotel; in fact the car park where we parked ovenight was very close to it.

      Enjoy your sea swims and thank you!

  6. My understanding of the agricultural burning is that it might not have been grain, but chaff or other waste. We don't do a lot of that in Nebraska, but they do in Kansas and for weeks we get their smoke drifting over to us. Anyway, that's one possibility.
    How lovely your photos of Ireland are. Have to agree with the labour union sign, but how hard it is getting that message across.
    I haven't swam in the sea in over 20 years. It looks like great fun, if a bit cold.

    1. WEll that is a possibility Goody, but it seemed to be made up of grains; you know the sort you grind.mill into flour. There is a guy who farms in our walking group. Next time I see him I'll ask him.

  7. What a wonderful visit to Ireland! And you made it to the North, too, to Belfast. I hope you find out why the grain was burning, as has been said it might've been diseased.
    Your outfits are wonderful, I love the long white skirt with the green top, and I also love the yellow denim jacket. It's really interesting, the items you put together. And it's great to get a haircut, isn't it/ Mine will be cut on Monday, can't wait!
    Margaret P

    1. Thank you.

      There's nothing like a haircut to make you feel like a new woman, Margaret!

  8. Your trip to Ireland sounds wonderful! Love that white skirt on you and the dress you picked from the summer sale is beautiful!

  9. Looks like a lovely break. We spent a weekend in Belfast a few years ago - lots to do and see. The worst bit about holidays is coming back to housework, shopping and rescuing the garden! XX

    1. And what about the unpacking and the washing? Still, it was worth it!

  10. Ireland looks gorgeous - so much wonderful greenery.

    Your grandsons are growing up so fast! I'm not sure how long I've been reading your blog but I always think of them as much younger, so it was startling to see one's started sixth form.

    1. Thanks Mim,
      I'm coming up to my 6th year of blogging now so they were 5 and 10 when I started!

  11. I agree with Mim I somehow think of your grandsons as younger than they clearly are! Your holiday sounds amazing so restful. I'd love to visit Belfast.

    1. Gisela, I'd recommend Belfast as lovely place to visit. Do do the bus tour if you ever get to go - the murals are astonishing!


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