Tuesday 14 December 2021

Christmas Fairs, dinners and decorations.

Well, that's another fortnight gone by!

All jewellery charity shopped.

Our walk on Wednesday was excellent. We walked from North Crawley to Chicheley and back; 7 miles. I'd never walked in this area before.  I've often driven past Chicheley Hall but although I tried to take a photo to show you; the planting around the house and gardens was so  prolific it was difficult to even discern there was a house there....another time maybe. It was a cold day with a bit of a breeze. 

Driving the youngest grandson back from school; a green parakeet flew across the road in front of us. I've known we had parakeets in Bedford as I've seen them near the grandson's old school and have been told there was a nesting pair at the marina. When I told someone later they told me they had seen parakeets in Leicester! They're definitely spreading north from London...

Thursday, on the other hand, was bitterly cold but sunny with a very chill wind. I went for a swim, nevertheless, and managed 48 laps - 1 mile. I went to help out at the food bank in the afternoon - more making up of hygiene bags plus putting away 6 crates of toiletries. I got dressed in a hurry as the swimming session started at 9.30 am so I grabbed one of my remaining 4 blue dresses (I had 6 at one point but gave 2 away). This one is by Apricot and was charity shopped somewhere; jacket by M & Co also charity shopped. Blue velvet leggings by M&S and boots both retail. 

There's still some colour in the garden back and front. I'm surprised that some flowers are still blooming given we've had a hard frost - it's all been recorded in garden notebook so I can compare this year to next year.

Top left; Shasta daisies which bloomed late in November; top right Chrysanthemums which also bloomed late in November; bottom left flowering on the Delphinium spike and bottom right some Osteospermum which also bloomed recently.
Top left; Geraniums still blooming back and front; top right newly bloomed Snapdragons - just in the last day or so; bottom left Verbena which has been blooming for months and bottom right the last of the Stocks.

And look at my pink Trandescantia! I've taken more cuttings to be potted up. I need to cut back the trailing Geranium just above the Geranium and the Pyracanthus berries have turned red. They started out as yellow...

After the foodbank it was off to Lidl to do the food shopping. I also bought a Christmas tree. I hoped OH would put it up on Sunday; then I'll decorate it bit by bit to my satisfaction! I made dinner after unpacking the shopping and cleaned out the fire and lit it early as it was so cold.

I had a laid back Friday. I got up at 9.30 am which is very, very late for me but I had slept extra well in the spare room. As my bedroom faces the street, the traffic always wakes me from 6 am onwards; or the council van that empties the public rubbish bins along the stree. It was good not to be woken up at 6 am for a change. I chose another blue dress to wear on Friday: this one by Tu worn with a short kimono by M&S; both charity shopped. The wine coloured woollen tights were also charity shopped and have a plaid design. I can't remember where the boots came from.

After getting ready I went to B&M for some bits and bobs. I made a list; I took the list with me and when I got home realised I'd forgotten the most important item of all - loo rolls! I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with blogs and writing my own and finishing my book. No cooking - we had an Indian takeaway; my favourite - fish biriyani.

All jewellery charity shopped.

It was another busy Saturday. I went back to B&M for the loo rolls and then set off for the Christmas Fair in Great Denham where I was helping out at the Barnardo's stall.
This was our stall in the village community centre.  We were one of 22 stalls in total plus a Santa's Grotto. By the time I took this photo we had sold a lot of items. Lucille; at the back in the black Christmas jumper made a lot of home made items: gift bags, wreaths, Xmas trees and her mum potted up tiny house leeks in a range of pretty containers. The rest of the stuff was donated to the shop and the Deputy Manager (in the green) saved it all for the stall and the Christmas gift display stand in the shop. We did pretty well raising over two hundered pounds for Barnardo's.

We'd been asked to dress festively and as I don't do Xmas jumpers I wore red and green. Dress charity shopped in Co. Longford charity shop; red boots online retail and tights were a present.

All jewellery charity shopped.

 Soon after I got back from the fair we set off for Burton Latimer to meet up with my brother's ex-partner and all their children and partners for a 60th birthday meal in an Italian restaurant. It was lovely to see my neices and nephews again and their families. Two of the neices have children so that makes me their Great Aunt. Great Aunt Veronica, it has a certain ring to it...There were 19 of us in total and the food was delicious.

Sunday was a wet and miserable day. I didn't fancy going out in it for a walk but I did have to go to town to Iceland to pick up a few groceries I'd forgotten on Thursday. I made dinner for the grandsons and OH;  I also made some 'Mincemeat Crumble Slices'. The mincemeat I had was suitable for vegans and I had vegan butter so I was able to give some to my daughter who liked them so much; she asked me to make them for her Christmas Day dessert! I also ate the last of my vegan Shepherd's Pie and it tasted much nicer. I think it's one of those dishes that taste better if it's not eaten on the day it was made. I will make it again now that I know that.

Monday's weather wasn't a lot better although it was colder than Sunday. We took lots of donations at Barnardo's which kept me busy until it was home time.

Ooops - Charlies dead! (Petticoat hanging down). It kep hanging down and the Deputy Manager said to me 'Charlie's Dead' on more than one occasion. On Sunday, whilst doing the housework I checked one of the storage drawers under the spare bed and found more of my winter clothes that hadn't made it to the loft when it was time to do the big clothes change over. This dress was amongst the items; by Store 21 and charity shopped. Boots by Manteray from my Barnardo's and the jacket by Liz Claiborne was from a 1.00 rail quite recently. The polo neck by John Lewis was also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped.
As much as I didn't want to go out when I got back from Barnardo's; I had to collect a parcel from the parcel shop. I've started my Christmas shopping but luckily don't have to buy too much; almost everyone has asked for money including the 2 eldest grandsons. I only buy for my children, my grandchildren and my children's two ex-partners and OH; within the immediate family we do Secret Santa. This year I drew my brother in the Secret Santa so I know what to get him.... I went to the library to pick up some books making the most of being out in the miserably cold weather. Then it was back home; sort out the fire light it and make dinner. I spent the evening catching up with blogland.

Storm Barra was set to hit us in Tuesday and it was a very cold day that became increasingly windy as the day went on. It was freezing in the food bank and I didn't take my coat or scarf off. Just as well as I wore yet another dress I found in the drawer. I don't know why I bought it; other than it must have been from a 1.00 rail; it has an asymmetric hem which I'm not a fan of and it was in uninspiring shades of brown. Never fear, it has gone into the bag of charity shop donations. Here it is and here I am in all its horror:

Why? I'd thought I'd learned my lesson about asymmetric hems but clearly I hadn't!

At least it gave me an opportunity to wear my psychedelic tights which were a lucky charity shop find and my brown suede ankle boots.

The cardigan (charity shopped) was added for warmth.

The manager who had Covid was back and looking very peaky. She said was taking things easy and proceeded to work like a navvy! There were lots of donations and two major drives on at local supermarkets planned at the weekend. Goodness only knows whether there'll be room to move next week!  I was so busy I didn't have time to unpack toiletries and I was asked if I could go in again on Thursday for a couple of hours. Of course I could and  next week we should be back up to a full complement of staff and volunteers and I won't be needed on Thursdays again...

I went swimming in the afternoon. The pool was pleasantly uncrowded; probably due to the weather. Only 4 of us in the slow lane. I did my 45 laps. Home to hang up washing, cook dinner and sort the fire out. By the end of the day I'd finished my John Le Carre book. I found another John Le Carre at Barnardo's on Monday but forgot to pick it up. I'll try to get back there on Thursday or Friday to collect it; meanwhile I have 2 library books to be going on with and shelves and shelves of my own library so I'll never be short of reading material. Not having anything to read is a fear of mine and probably accounts for why I keep buying more books!

Can you spot me?

It was Wednesday so that meant walking. I walked with the group in the morning; a 5.5 mile walk in cold and muddy conditions; it was followed by very welcome Christmas lunch at Stagsden Golf Course. The food was very good and the service was excellent. Normally we sing carols but thanks to Covid 19 a decision was taken not to sing so we had a Christmas Quiz instead. Our table didn't do that well; we only got 13 questions right out of 30! To be fair a lot was based around Christmas pop music and movies e.g. 'Home Alone 1' and 'Home Alone 2' neither of which I knew anything about!


I changed into the outfit above in the car after the walk. I wore the leggings (M&S retail) under my walking trousers and just had to remove my walking tops and replace them with this Biba dress and orange scarf;  both charity shopped at Barnardo's last year; I added my Gerry Webber leather jacket; also charity shopped and put on my daughter donated boots and some beads and I was ready. I did get some strange looks from some of the golfers getting into and out of their cars but I just ignored them...From there I went to Aldi to buy items for dinner and collected youngest grandson. He did his homework while I cooked dinner and I took him back home in the evening.

Another busy Thursday. So busy in fact I didn't bother with doing the food shopping. I put it off until Friday as I knew I would probably be too tired on Thursday. I started out with a 9.30 am swim; swimming 45 laps. Then I came home and got ready and went to Sharnbrook Farm shop for coal and kindling. Then it was off to the foodbank where I made up lots of hygiene packs and put half of the crates of hygiene products away. Then it was into town to pick up another parcel; off to the library to collect some book reservations. I went to the new B&M in town that opened last week and bought some bird fat balls. By which time it was time to come home, make dinner and sort out the fire...

I hadn't planned to but I wore dresses for 8 days in a row! Two of the dresses were new to me but one I didn't like and I don't really like this Joe Brown one above either; so two have gone into the donations bag. I wore my yellow chunky cardigan over it for warmth which I bought online; boots by Manteray charity shopped at Barnardo's. Yellow tights online retail. The light was awful so apologies for the dodgy photos.

Friday was a quieter day but the cold weather remained; there had been an icy wind all day on Thursday which had gone by Friday. I wore this latest new to me dress. When I saw it in Oxfam last Friday I immediately said to myself; this is an Ann (of 'Polyester Princess') dress! HERE I loved the pink and the geometric design and as I don't have much pink in my wardrobe it came home with me for the very reasonable price of 4.99. I had to hem it as it was too long. It's a home sewn dress so there's no label.

Luckily I had some pink titghts to go with the dress and paired the dress and tights with green accessories. The boots were charity shopped as was all the jewellery.

As the dress has some fawn panels in it; I added this boiled wool jacket for warmth; charity shopped in the Willen Hospice shop a few years ago; my animal print scarf and pink leather gloves, when I went out. I wasn't warm enough and should have worn a coat. At least I was in and out of the car and not walking about. I went to Lidl and Sainsbury's for the food shopping then drove to Rushden to the Salvation Army charity shop. I bought 4 side plates that look like Burleigh plates; I think they came from Wetherspoons - there's one in Rushden. I'm always dropping plates so try to have extras for back up. I do have a genuine Burleigh cup and saucer that goes well with the plates. I also found a red pinafore dress by New Look and a silver necklace. 

I didn't dare look at the books as I had a nice pile of library and paperback books on my TBR (to be read) pile.

I'd finished the Claire Fuller 'Unsettled Ground' when I took this photo. Recommended by Gail of 'Is this Mutton' HERE and a very enjoyable read it was, too.

On my way home I collected the middle grandson and took him for his second vaccination jab so he's sorted now.

We started watching a new 'Walter Presents' called 'Angel of Death' in the evening.

On Saturday, I woke up to find the washing machine wasn't working. I managed to arrange for someone to come and look at it on Monday afternoon after I get back from volunteering. I was hoping it was repairable as it was a Bosch machine and they're pretty long lasting. If not I'd have to buy another one as a washing machine is an essential item as far as I'm concerned. I spent too many years of married life without one to ever manage without one again! I made a butternut squash and sweet potato soup and then went over to my daughter's to use her washing machine. OH's work clothes needed washing ready for the week ahead. Whilst I was there I went out for a 3.3 mile walk around the footpaths that encircle my daughter's estate. I got quite wet as it rained almost non stop but I did come across a skip with two solid wood kitchen stools and a natty little suitcase. I knocked on the door and asked if I could take them and they came home with me along with the wet washing. My daughter had made some rye baguettes with pumpkin seeds and gave me one to have with my soup; she'd also made her own version mincemeat crumble slices; of which I also had a couple of slices. Both were delicious.

I bought another denim skirt in The Children's Society when I took the grandson for his second vaccination on Friday afternoon. I thought it was more A line than this, but I'll keep looking. I consigned my black denim skirt to the donations bag which was rapidly filling up again. The skirt was by Oasis; the top by Misslook; also charity shopped. The cardigan was a present from OH several Christmases ago.

Turquoise tights by M&S charity shopped; navy boots online retail.

All jewellery charity shopped.

When I got back home I decorated the mantel piece. I was supposed to decorate the tree which OH put up last Sunday and put the lights on; I thought I'd do it on Sunday instead and get OH to cook Sunday dinner for a change. He went to London for a school reunion. He and his friends meet up a few times a year at King's Cross and go for a drink...

You can see my bowl of soup and baguette waiting to be eaten. I just need to find some winter greenery  to complete the mantelpice when I'm next out for a walk....

The stools I found in the skip will be very useful. I can eat my 
breakfast sitting on one using the counter top as a breakfast bar;  also I can sit down when I'm preparing the vegetables and give my back a rest.

We did the usual housework on Sunday and I decorated the Christmas tree. I was going to go for a walk but by the time I'd decided to do so it began to ran. It was lovely not having to cook the dinner for a change. We carried on watching 'The Angel of Death' which has turned out to be a good series - if a little bit predictable. 

Back to Barnardo's on Monday where I spent the morning decoding the entire women's wear section. I wore the pinafore dress from New Look picked up on Friday at the Salvation Army. The top is one I've had for a few years but it was also charity shopped as were the tights and  the boots as before. 

It's not very practical wearing a mask with a headscarf;  but my hair needed cutting.  I've learnt to put the mask on; then my scarf and then pull the mask down under my chin until I need to put it over my mouth and nose again. I am always very relieved to finally take the mask off when I've finished.

All jewellery charity charity shopped.

I spent the afternoon waiting in for the washing machine engineer who never turned up...

I  got to the foodbank 25 minites late on Tuesday morning. There was a huge tailback of traffic which was due to the amount of people trying to get to the vaccination centre which is at the bottom of the road the foodbank is on. The reason why the engineer didn't arrive on Monday was he had been given the wrong address and the wrong phone number but he finally arrived at 2pm onm Tuesday and fixed the machine. It was the brushes that had gone (a common problem on washing machines) and I now  have a working washing machine again.

I found this navy blue knitted skirt (1.00 rail in the summer) in the drawer in the spare room and wore it with thick woollen tights underneath; a Primarni long sleeved tee and a Jigsaw short sleeved knitted top picked up at Barnaro's on Monday from the 1.00 rail. OTK boots ensured I was toasty as the concrete floor in the foodbank warehouse can be very cold.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Once the engineer had finished repairing the machine I headed into town to pick up some batteries and other items and to collect a parcel from the parcel shop. I came home the long way round and did a 3 mile walk to compensate for the loss of the swimming session. It will be after Christmas when I next post so for those of you who celebrate the season or even if you don't;  have fun, stay safe and stay fabulous!


  1. Fab outfits as always, Vronni! Standouts are the kimono with the blkue dress, the Xmas outfit and moto jacket with the op-art brown dress - stunning. I don't get along with asymetric hems either.
    Great result on the Banardos fundraiser, £200 is no mean feat and how about 19 member sof your family going out for dinner? I don't think I even know that many people!
    Your garden is looking loveky, the frost finally killed off my nasturtiums so I dug them up on Saturday. I don't like the plain wall at all!
    I didn't realise you were a fellow John Le Carre fan - I gave a couple away to the charity shop on Sunday, next time I'll ask you first! Jon and my friend Nikki both love Phillip Kerr books, I've not read any yet.
    I'm glad your washing machine's been mended.
    Have a fab festive season and see you on the other side! xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix.

      Yes, I've always liked John Le Carre ever since getting hooked on 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' back in the 1970s. I have read about 3 or 4 of his books so far with one on the TBR pile and I like the sound of his new one, too!

      Happy festive season to you and Jon.

  2. Doesn't time fly by? We saw a green parakeet fly off when we were out walking on Sunday too.
    We also still have the odd flower in our garden, but the Nasturtiums simply refuse to give up, and so does our Fuchsia bush which is still full of pink ballerina bells.
    I love your Christmas fair outfit, which makes a welcome difference from the ubiquitous Christmas jumper and still looks fabulously festive. And Charlie might have been dead, I am loving that dress!
    I spotted you immediately in that card, by the way.
    Obviously, my favourite outfit is the pink geometric Polyester Princess one. I would indeed wear that in a heartbeat. It's gorgeous with the pink tights and leopard print ankle boots!
    I'm hearing you on the mask and headscarf combination. It doesn't work with berets either, especially with the addition of glasses!
    I'm glad to hear your washing machine got fixed. I'd be lost without mine! xxx

    1. Thanks, Ann!
      Wow! I had no idea you had green parakeets in Belgium, too! There are all sorts of urban myths about how they became wild in London - usually boiling down to escaped pets. The same must be true in Belgium...

  3. Ah, that was a lovely read! I so enjoy your slice of life entries, Vronni! I love your Christmassy outfit - I bet you got tons of compliments on it while you were working your stall. Doesn't it feel good to be giving back like that to charitable organizations?

    I'm glad you turfed the brown dress - I do that too, buy things that aren't me, and I wonder what the heck is going on in my head! Why did I buy this?? I loved "Charlie's dead" - what a cool expression! I have never heard it before, and spent some time going down the rabbit hole. I found this excellent article: https://wordhistories.net/2019/11/18/charlies-dead-petticoat-showing/ that explains a bunch of the sayings, although some are mere supposition.

    I also have the fear of running out of books to read, and I don't read anywhere near the amount you do! I just started a new book yesterday and hope I'll be able to finish it by the end of the year. My reading has tapered down a bit lately (too much TV).

    My chili also needs to "rest" a day ideally, before eating. Some food is just like that!

    A very Happy Holidays to you, and to your family, my dear friend. Here's to ya!

    1. Thank you so much, Sheila and thank you for the link! I've always wondered about the origin of the phrase and now I know.

      Happy festivities to you and L.

  4. you was a very stylish elf at the x-mas fair!
    but my big favorite this time is your aprés randonnée look with the art deco patterned dress and those cool beads and headscarf!
    love your living room/salon - it looks very cosy yet stylish...... glad your washing machine was mended, i too would´t live without one anymore.... well done rescuing the stools. and the birthday celebration sounds wonderful......
    stay warm! xxxx

    1. Thank you, Beate.

      I did feel like a Christmas Elf in my red and green outfit!

      Happy fesitivites to you and Mr. BW.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Have a wonderful Xmas and you look fabulous as always. I did spot you were you in the front by chance??? can I have that recipe for the mincemeat slices as mum put a jar in my goody box and I don’t know what else to do with it apart from mince pies!! Love and hugs from shinjuku allie

    1. Hello Allie Jane and thank you for commenting.

      This is the link to the recipe I used:

      Happy festivities to you!

  7. Loving your colourful tights! My fave outfits are "Charlie's dead" (an expression I've never heard before - wonder what the origins are?), the festive red and green, and the geometric pink.

    Your garden has a lot more colour than mine; it was good until a week or so ago, but the new salvia Armistad has stopped flowering now and Hotlips is getting tired, so I just have one rose still going strong.

    Intrigued by the planting at Chicheley Hall if there's so much the house can't be seen!

    Have a lovely Christmas xx

  8. Lovely outfits as always and how great to have a big family meal out.
    I also have a fear of running out of reading material and have a dresser stacked with books as a result but I still can't resist checking out the library whenever I pass.
    Glad you got the washing machine sorted, doesn't bear thinking about if ours stopped working!
    Have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

    1. Thank you and I hope you and your family have a fab Christmas and New year. too.

  9. Hil Vronni, I've not read all of this yet, I will do so in the week, but just to say I love all your outfits. You put together some amazing things and on a shoestring budget. I wish there was a charity shop in our area that had such amazing clothes (and in my size!!!) I must seriously look more often in the various shops come spring and if Covid begins to diminish - no sign of that any time soon, though. Your room looks cosy. Can we see the Christmas tree soon, now you have decorated it? It's cold here today. We've just been watching (on catch up) Christmas at Castle Howard which was on Channel 4 last Wednesday evening at 9pm. It was wonderful what they did to this remarkable house to transform it into Narnia! If you've not seen it, then try and get it on catch up.

    1. Thank you!

      Yes, the key to good charity shopping is to visit regularly. I have my favourites in my town but I do regularly visit other town's charity shops, too. Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I find the charity shops just have lots of tat; one can never tell....
      Have a great weekend.

  10. What a shame about your washing machine - it's good you were able to make do and eventually it got fixed in the end! I like how many colourful dresses you wear even in winter, I need to be better at wearing dresses when it's cold.

    Those stools were a fab find too! :)

    Your bright and colourful accessories always inspire me - you must have a fantastic collection!

    Hope that you have a wonderful Christmas :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you, Mica.

      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too!

  11. Lovely to see your fab outfits, and so amazing accessorizing and styling!.
    Love particularly your blue dresses, the knit dress with turquoise tights, the fab Biba dress and orange scarf combo, and also love the pink dress (totally Anne style and adorable!).
    But my favourite one is your festive outfit, so joyful mix of prints and colours!, delightfully matchy and cool!.
    Wish you enjoy a fabulous time, dear Veronica!.

  12. Amazing how parakeets can survive in your climate (mild though it has been). Weather is definitely strange-but nice to have a garden with flowers still blooming at Christmastime.
    Oh these outfits are wonderful. The green and red dress is better than any Christmas jumper. Even if your petticoat gave you trouble, the blue and black dress is beautiful. Such good lines and colours.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you, Goody. The parrots are wonderful - a bit of exotica when many of our birds are variations on LBJs - little brown jobs...Merry Christmas ans a Happy New Year to you.

  13. Enjoying your blog very much. Love your holiday outfit. It certainly deserved lots of comments. What fun you must have visiting all the charity shops. I love it too, but have put it on hold since omicron. You have inspired to investigate swimming opportunities in my area. (East coast of the USA). Thanks for brightening my day with your blog. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    1. Hello Claire; thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Swimming is just so good for you and I always feel really good after my swim. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  14. Blue really suits you. It goes so well with your hair and eyes. And the print on that Biba dress is excellent. You're right that the pink one is very Ann!

    Aaaaugh to the washing machine. Ours has just died and I've got to wait nearly a week for a new one... it's a good job I did all the laundry before Christmas so Pete and I have enough clothes to see us through. Like you, I've had enough of hand washing/launderettes for one lifetime.

    1. Hope it's been fixed by now Mim! Thank you for your comments and a happy new year to you and Pete.

  15. Hi some lovely outfits, was looking forward to seeing your decorated Christmas Tree, {but next time} I think the restaurant in Burton Latimer may be the one my where my Granddaughter works on some evenings.!!. I am a bit late seeing your blogs as I don't receive emails from you any longer.

    1. Hello, just saw this comment and thank you. I post fortnightly on a Tuesday if that helps. It was a Google decision to stop the emails - not the bloggers!


Weird weather...

  Hello there!  My calculations were a bit out in my last post and it's this week (Thursday) OH has his MRI scan at Papworth Hospital. H...