Tuesday 30 November 2021

London visit; a birthday; snow and Omnicron!


I can't believe how quickly the fortnight goes by and before I know it, it's time to post on my blog again...

The top was bought from the 1.00 rail at Barnardos last Monday. It's by Manteray and what I like about it it's fully reversible. The other side is blue striped and both sides have pockets! Jeans by Next; charity shopped as was the scarf; boots online retail. Not much jewellery as I didn't bother with ring and bangle or even a necklace - see below why...

The walks I led on Wednesday (7 miles) and Thursday (5 miles) were well attended and enjoyed by everyone including me. We had truly brilliant weather on Wednesday; warm and sunny with just a small breeze. When we stopped for our break we were basking in warm sunshine - in the middle of November! The weather was equally as good on the Thursday walk but it was breezier and became cloudier as the day went on. I wore what I have on in the photo above on Thursday; just added walking boots and socks and wore my new to me red showerproof jacket. Thursdays are busy days and I wanted to be able to go straight out to do the shopping once I'd finished leading the walk. Shopping done I went to collect a parcel from the sorting office only to find they couldn't find it! It was a book from Amazon that I'd ordered with the balance I had left on a giftcard and this book was the last copy available. I was told a manager would investigate and get back to me. I made a vegan Shepherd's Pie which was ok but I don't think I'd make it again. My daughter really enjoyed it though!

I picked up a Lidl veg box for 1.50. It's very good value for money. It had a cauliflour, a leek, a punnet of mushrooms; a swede; 3 lettuces; half a dozen small potatoes, 4 bananas and 8 oranges. I'd bought bananas, a cauliflour and mushrooms in the weekly shop; they alone cost more than 1.50. I just took them off the conveyor belt and gave them back to the checkout guy. The veg boxes are by the furthest checkout and easy to miss if you don't know where they are. I got the last one left on Thursday and now I know where to look in future. If there's too much for OH and I, I can always share with daughter and daughter-in-law. I didn't think we would use the lettuces so I put them back in the box once it was emptied out and left it outside side the front door with a sign saying 'FREE' - someone took them!

I love the colours of the trees at this  time of year; the colours seem to be lasting longer this year than they usually do. I took this photo just around the corner from me. The fence you can see behind the trees is a block of flats that has been 7 years in the building and it's still not completed! There has been no activity for weeks. The flats are complete; they have windows and an entrance has been put in but there is still brickwork to finish at groundfloor level; of course I have no idea what the interior of the building looks like. I can only assume that the builders keep running out of money; hence the stop start progress
I had booked a swimming session for Friday morning at 9.30 pm. I was so pleased with myself as I broke my own record and swam 48 laps in 60 minutes. 48 laps is 1 mile - yay!!
After coming home and getting ready properly as above I went to drop off 3 bags of charity shop donations. I went to the Sue Ryder Hospice shop as they are the only charity shop that has parking right outside the front door and the donation bags were full and heavy. I had a quick look round whilst I was there but it's a shop I rarely buy anything from as it is very overpriced in the main. From there I went to The Cat's Protection League to drop off 2 bags of cat litter the food bank had given me to donate and I had a good look around. I bought a tunic 4.00; a pair of animal print trousers 3.50;  an animal print warm scarf 1.00 and some beads 50p. I also bought a raffle ticket for an Xmas hamper; I don't know what I'd do it with it if I won it but I've only ever won a raffle twice in my 67 years so it's unlikely to happen! On both of those occasions I won bottles of alcohol.

The dress was via Vinted (online 2nd hand shopping site I used during lockdown). Brown tights and boots charity shopped. Fur trimmed poncho from my Barnardo's a few weeks ago. I also wore my few items of copper jewellery; the necklace was found in Norwich recently; I'm wearing a copper bangle (not seen) that I've had for about 15 years that was also charity shopped.

Having had an enjoyable rummage I then went to Home Bargains to pick up some bird food supplies and to Lidl again as I'd forgotten to buy olive oil...When I got home my book from Amazon had been delivered. I had no idea what was delivered on Tuesday as I wasn't expecting anything. Hopefully all would be revealed in due course.

Saturday saw a drop in temperature. OH and I went to London to see his family which was lovely; we were home by 5pm but we did find a charity shop in Harlesden. I bought a bunch of padded hangers and OH bought nothing at all...

Well wrapped up against the cold on Saturday.  Wearing animal print trousers (leisure wear I think, made of tracksuit material but very comfortable) by M&S; bought from the Cat's Protection League yesterday, as was the the animal print scarf. The animal print cross body bag was picked up last week at the Daycare Hospice shop. It was clearly an animal print day! And I almost wore animal print boots...the gloves were a present.

Animal print top by Masai; charity shopped. Boots by Papaya also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which were bought from e Bay.
We finished watching 'Guardian of the Castle' and will be looking for something else to watch in the evenings. I finished watching 'The Outlaws' watching the last two episodes on BBC i player.

The cold weather coninued on Sunday but it was sunny was much of the day. I love it when the weather is like this because you can always wrap up against the cold and you soon warm up when you walk. I went for a 5 mile walk in the morning and then did the usual boring housework and cooked dinner for grandsons, OH and I.

Barnardo's on Monday, where I was pleasantly surprised to see the old manager there as well as the new one. She'd come over to sort out some files. I spent the morning decoding women's wear; reducing some items; putting some items on the 1.00 rail and ragging the occasional item.

This is the tunic I bought at the Cat's Protection League on Friday. The polo by Next was bought at the street jumble for 1.00; fleece lined leggings online retail and I can't remember where the boots came from.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I spent much of what was left of the afternoon catching up with blogland; sorting out the fire and lighting it - another chilly day on Monday -  doing two whites washes and cooking dinner. OH and middle grandson went to see 'Dune' at the cinema in the evening. Youngest grandson and his mum had watched it on Saturday evening. I finished the book Vix sent me and have started on my book from Amazon - another country diary.

Off to the foodbank on Tuesday where once again it was very cold. I wore my Donegal Donkey Sanctuary knitted coat and didn't take it off at all. My hands were freezing. As demand for food parcels and hygiene packs has risen so much in recemt months I am going back to the foodbank on Thursday afternoon to help out. I can always do the shopping after I've been back to the foodbank.

Wearing trousers and boots as above. Animal print tie neck blouse was a present from daughter in law. I cannot remember where I got this man's jumper from but it's been in my cupboard for a couple of months now.

Scarf and all jewellery charity shopped.

I went for a swim in the afternoon managing 45 laps or 1.5km. Then it was home to sort out the fire and refill the coal bucket; unfortunately I couldn't light the fire until OH got home as we had run out of logs and kindling. I usually light the fire around 5pm and as OH doesn't finish work until 6 pm I have been lighting it instead; except at the weekend.  I made a chicken stew for dinner which will hopefully last OH for two days. I planned to make a butternut squash and courgette bake for my daughter and I on Wednesday but needed to buy chia or flax seeds as egg substitutes in the recipe which would mean a trip to Sainsbury's after Wednesday's walk. I listened to my first ever podcast (go me!) in the evening called 'No body recovered'; a true story of a little girl's disappearance in 1977 from Cashelard in Co. Donegal. I shall be looking for more to listen to and they would be great for a long drive such as when I go to Devon or when we drive to the ferry port.

The group walk on Wednesday was from Henlow to Arlesey and back to Henlow - about 7 miles. It wasn't too cold but very misty and moisty. I took some photos of me in my walking gear; not very good ones as the light was awful but this was me ready to set off:

The rucksack was a  present from my eldest grandson; everything else was charity shopped. The red showerproof jacket was 2.00 from the Daycare Hospice shop; the thick warm trousers by Slazenger came from Barnardo's. Under the fleece I had a very warm pink merino wool top over a fleece by Cotton Traders; both charity shopped of course. The boots were also charity shops but not my walking socks. When the weather is really cold I add a beret and if it's going to be muddy I add gaiters to my trousers which protect the lower legs from mud.

I didn't need a scarf as the fleece had a high neck but I often also wear a scarf when it's cold.

 From the walk I went to Sainsbury's to buy ingredients for dinner and for the week's vegan/vegetarian dish which was a courgette and butternut squash bake. The recipe called for eggs and as my daughter only eats a plant based diet I needed to buy an egg substitute - chia seeds! Who knew? You mix them with water ro make eggs, but I'm not sure I'll need to make up chia eggs for this recipe. I said in my previous post I get the recipes from IG - that was a lie - it's actually Pinterest! I also bought some dates to make some apricot, date and nut energy balls as well. I collected youngest grandson from school; cleaned out the fire, filled the coal bucket and made dinner for both grandsons, OH and me.

Thursday is always a busy day for me but this Thursday was extra busy as I was going into the foodbank in the afternoon for a couple of hours to help out. I started out in the morning with a swim managing 46 laps (1.5km). I had a chat with a fellow swimmer who told me he was 85 and swam 16 laps everytime he came to pool. I hope I'm able to do the same if I make it to 85!

I had to go to B&M for bird supplies and popped into the Daycare Hospice shop which is close by. I found some cropped wide legged trousers in green so they came home with me.

 Thursday's outfit featured an M&S skirt and an M&S cardigan (don't know why I closed it) both from my Barnardo's. The floral top was from the vintage kilo sale and the boots were donated by my daughter. Those are footless tights charity shopped somewhere.

All jewellery charity shopped.

From B&M I went to the food bank where I made up lots and lots of hygiene bags and put the toiletries away. I was only meant to be there for an hour and a half but stayed for two and quarter hours to get everything finished. One of the managers had just come down with Covid and combined with increased demand from food bank users it was all hands to the pump to meet the demand. From the food bank I went to Lidl to do the food shopping and after unpacking it and putting it away, cleaning out and lighting the fire; I sat down for the first time at 5.45pm! Needless to say I had a late dinner... We had a surprise visitor later in the evening. Our old next door neighbour Dave popped by to say hello. It was lovely to see him and we're looking forward to visiting him and his partner when they've finished their new house renovations.

On Friday, I set off for London to go with cousin Marian to visit Kenwood House. We had a lovely day - tea and cake were involved, naturally. It wasn't too cold but as the day went on it got colder and wetter; I had dressed appropriately for the weather so all was well. I wore my OTK boots (online retail) which was like wearing extra thick tights; wide legged cropped denim jeans by; a polo under my jumper from Tu; and a head scarf to keep my head warm. I wore my yellow coatigan and a thick scarf and gloves as outer wear.

Looking very glum!

All jewellery charity shopped.

As you approached the drive to Kenwood House all the trees and bushes were lit up with different coloured laser lights; blue, purple and pink. It was quite magical.

Kenwood House, on the edge of London’s Hampstead Heath, was probably first built in the early 17th century. Between 1764 and 1779 Robert Adam transformed it into a neoclassical villa for William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and the interiors include some of Adam’s finest surviving schemes. Kenwood is now home to the 1st Earl of Iveagh’s renowned collection of Old Master and British paintings, which includes works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. 
The view from the back of the house on the left and below the landscaped grounds by Humphrey Repton.

The entrance

The library and the painting on the plinth is a 21st century painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle. 'Dido was the illegitimate daughter of a formerly enslaved young black woman named Maria Bell and Mansfield's nephew Sir John Lindsay. It was extremely unusual at this time for a mixed-race child to be raised not as a servant but as part of a British aristocratic family'. Dido, her cousin and her aunt lived with the Earl of Mansfield and his wife who were childless, from about 1766.


Marian and I had great fun guessing people's characters from their portraits. Marian was very offended by the poor renditions of some of the hands in the portraits. One portrait had a huge index finger of about 8 inches! I know hands are notoriously difficult to draw and paint. The English Heritage volunteers at Kenwood House were both enthusiastic and very knowledgeable.

The British aristocracy are very confusing as they have two names. Their family name - in the case of Kenwood House this was William Murray (1705 -93) but also their title (AND they can have more than one) in this case the 'Earl of Mansfield'. It is most confusing of all, I find, if you're reading an historical novel and the author refers to the person sometimes by their familial name and sometimes by their title. If you didn't know you might think they were two different characters! In the highlighted information above about Kenwood House; it also refers to the 1st Earl of Iveagh (title) who was Edward Cecil Guiness 1847-1927 (family name) heir to the Guiness fortune. He saved Kenwood House from dereliction in the 1920s and 'The Iveagh Bequest Act of 1929 stipulated that Kenwood should be open free of charge to the public with the ‘mansion and its contents … preserved as a fine example of the artistic home of a gentleman of the eighteenth century’ SOURCE

We stopped in Golders Green on the way back and had a rummage in about 5 charity shops; 4 of which were hospice shops. Most of them were very expensive and I bought nothing.

It was bloody freezing on Saturday with high winds; the result of Storm Arwen. There was talk of snow...

I'm wearing green fleece lined leggings (online retail). Zara denim dress and Zara polo underneath; also from Barnardo's. Vintage kimono/jacket via Vinted; secondhand online shop. You might recall I've been looking for a denim dress for a while. I found a maxi denim dress a few months back and last Monday found this one; I won't be wearing it  again as a dress but as a long shirt...

All jewellery charity shopped except the Art Deco earrings from Etsy - bought with birthday money last year.

We were meeting up with my brothers to celebrate Tony's 64th birthday in the evening so on Saturday morning I went into town to buy him a present. In the afternoon OH and I went for a quick rummage to Newport Pagnell; it was a very windy and cold day but we had no snow.  I bought a couple of books and a pretty jug; OH found hinself a warm, padded gilet. We set off for Kettering in the evening where we picked up my brothers and went to 'The Hare' in Loddington for a very nice meal; a drink and a catch up. No photos taken as we were all too busy chatting!

I had a really nice lie-in on Sunday morning and decided on a 'can't be arsed' outfit; one not worth taking a photo.  I also had a make up free day. I spent the best part of the morning in the kitchen making the courgette and butternut squash bake and some apricot and date energy balls. I also did the housework and then made a roast dinner for everyone. The vegan bake was ok but I wouldn't bother making it again. My daughter loved it and as there was lots leftover she took some home and some energy balls, too. It finally snowed in the afternoon. Daughter and grandson were hoping for a 'snow' day on Monday. It didn't happen but there was a hard frost; the first one this year for us. It killed off the pansies on my doorstep and the last of the buzy lizzies, too!

More change at the charity shop. The new most recent manager had been transferred to another shop and we now had the remaining deputy manager; the original manager and one new person covering the shop over 7 days. In future I could be working with any one of the 3...I really don't mind who I work with so it makes no difference to me.

This was Monday's outfit. I picked up the wide legged cropped trousers by White Stuff at the Daycare Hospice shop. The striped tee by F&F was a 1.00 rail bargain and the cardi was bought online. I also wore my yellow scarf all day for extra warmth as it was - 1 degree C when I set off for the shop and only 3 degrees when I got back home in the afternoon. Boots also charity shopped. I made soup when I got home; did a wash and sorted out the fire.

All jewellery charity shopped. Earrings from Bedford Market. We have the Barnardo's stall at the local Christmas Fair in the Community Centre on Saturday and I'll be there to help out. I'd not done the Christmas Fair before so was looking forward to it. Unlike The Boomtown Rats I really do like Mondays. I look forward to going into Barnardo's and I enjoy the feeling once I'm home again that unless I want to go out again I can stay indoors and potter about for the rest of the day!

I was very busy at the foodbank and made up loads of hygiene packs and put toiletries away. I've already been asked if I could do an hour or so Thursday afternoon as we are still two people down this week with one manager away and the other one with Covid. We were also asked to wear face masks in the picking area but luckily where I make up the hygiene bags is in the large warehouse where the doors/shutters are always open so I didn't need to. Face masks are once again mandatory in shops and on public transport thanks to the Omnicron variant of Covid.

I wore my black and red coatigan over this outfit all day but forgot to take a photo. Everything charity shopped; trousers by Yessica; jumper by Simon Jeffrey; polo underneath by H&M. Boots by Topshop and donated by my daughter.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I went for the usual Tuesday afternoon swim managing 46 laps (1.5 km). I'm walking tomorrow in a place called North Crawley which is quite close to Milton Keynes, I think. I'm hoping that our Christmas lunch for the 8th December wont be cancelled in light of the rule changes around the new variant but I'll be able to tell you when I'm back again in fortnight.

Stay safe everyone!


  1. Wow, Vronni, I do not know how you do all that you do! You must have infinite energy! I'm exhausted just reading about all your walking, swimming, housework, cooking...and you do it so stylishly. I was pleased that I got the Boomtown Rats reference, and I also really loved seeing your copper jewelry (it's so rare). You seem to have so many charity shops in the UK, and you find some really beautiful and amazing pieces. Love the all-animal print outfit!

    It's scary and depressing to think this fricking Covid is just going on and on. I hope we can have a proper Christmas...

    1. Thank you, Sheila!

      Sometimes I do too much and need a day to recuperate. I'm doing that this Friday....fingers xxed we can have a proper Christmas.

  2. I'm loving all the animal print in your outfits, that Autumnal toned kimono and that fancy-sleeved frock you bought on-line.
    How exciting to find one of those elusive Lidl veg boxes, they're like hen's teeth, apparently.
    Kenwood House looks very grand. I watched a documentary about the Dido painting, I'd love to see it in real life.
    I went charity shopping in Golder's Green back in the 1990s and was horrified by the prices back then.
    Get you with the Podcast, I still don't know what they are. A friend told me about a talk on Zoom about historical costume on Thursday, it sounds fab but I'm totally perplexed by that as well. I'm such a Luddite.
    I'm happy that the next government update is scheduled for after my birthday so at least this year I'll be able to go out and celebrate with friends.
    Have a fab fortnight. xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix!

      I think if you like listening to 'talk' radio you'd like podcasts. Just thinking about it now they'd be ideal when I'm crocheting!

  3. you are the queen of cool and stylisch animal print!!
    but i wish i could find such a chic and practical weather jacket for my walks - 2.hand for a few bucks and in RED......
    the lidl veggie box is an extreme bargain - have to tell the BW to look when doing the supermarket run if our lidl has them too.
    kenwood house is stunning - love all the light blue.......
    here we are short before another lockdown..... arrrgh.

    1. Thank you, Beate,

      Yes, I was pleased with showerproof jacket. I do hope we don't have another lockdown; somehow I don't think our government will go that far (too politically dangerous for them) unless things become really, really bad.

  4. I love the idea of a reversible top which has pockets on both sides!
    The Lidl veggie box sounds like great value, will have to see if they've got them here as well.
    The Vinted dress worn with the poncho is a stunner - and how fabulous is that copper necklace - as is your animal print outfit! Even your walking gear looks stylish!
    I've been on the lookout for a nice denim dress for ages. How lucky you were to find two. You might not be wearing this one as a dress again, but it does look amazing worn with the OTK boots.
    Kenwood House looks absolutely magnificent. I've never liked Mondays, but perhaps that might change if I'm ever retired?
    That new Omicron variant is scary isn't it? We're being inundated with new rules, and they seem to change every few days. Hopefully not another lockdown! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann.

      No, I'm not scared about Omnicron; just annoyed at how the government seem determined to frighten people to death. Viruses mutate and change and we must deal it when it happens; taking sensible precautions such as wearing masks etc. I also don't think our government would survive another lockdown!

  5. My goodness - 48 laps in a pool! I take my hat off to you. I've rejoined a local gym and will be doing aqua aerobics tomorrow. I could never swim 48 laps! Interesting to see what's in Kenwood House because I've only ever been in the grounds for a couple of concerts. You look stylish and cosy in the red showerproof and Slazenger trousers. That's a blast from the past - I had a wooden Slazenger tennis racquet when I was at school, not sure if they still exist! Shared your post in my link up x

    1. Thank you, Gail! yes, Slazenger are still around and still making sportswear...thank you for the link up.

  6. I love how you always accessorise so beautifully with your outfits! I really like the Thursday outfit with the blue and green together, and of course the mustard outfit - I thrifted a mustard cardigan a few years back and I love it, but I really want a big chunky knit one like you have!

    It's so good you can help out at the foodbank too. It's really sad how much it's needed these days but it's nice that the help is there! :)

    Kenwood house looks beautiful and it's nice to see the lights too! We need to find some time to check out the local lights around the neighbourhood here, we have such a busy few weeks in the run up to Christmas though!

    Hope you have a good weekend ahead of you! Going to be a busy but fun one here with a few events!

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you so much, Mica!

      I love looking at how people have decorated their houses with Christmas lights but they're best seen in the dark and I don't always want to go out in the evening. Enjoy your festive events!

  7. So many beautiful outfits.
    I'm sort of hoping the variant scares the vaccine resisters enough to go get jabbed, but that probably won't happen.

  8. So many fab outfits!, and lots of fab activities too!
    Love your brown dress with the copper jewellery and the cape, really elegant!, and your animal print outfit too.
    Looking fab in your casual&comfy style and your walking gear, lovely red jacket, not only visible but also beautiful in Red!.
    Lovely outfit in greens and also lovely one in orange-rusty, and great idea on wearing OTK boots as an additional layer for warmth. And you rock those boots with the denim dress and fab accessories!, looking really cool!.
    Lovely yellow cardigan, and lovely red mixed prints in your last outfit. You rock every colour!
    Kenwood House looks magnificent and love to read the story about Dido, I think I watched an episode of 'A Stitch In Time' about her and was really interesting. The problems with names when reading a novel can be really confusing, it has happened to me when reading russian stories, too many different names for a single character!.
    Admiring your work at the Food Bank, and feeling sorry that so many people are needing support these days. It's happening the same here. So sad.

    1. Thank you, Monica!

      Yes, the Russian novel and naming system has also caused me much confusion.

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