Thursday, 31 March 2022

Off to Ireland again....

Just a quick update as by the time this is published we'll be on our way to Ireland. I'm backtracking to last Wednesday when I walked with my group from a village called Preston; which was near Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It was a beautiful day. We'd been enjoying a week of warm sunshine and it makes for a beautiful walk. Hertfordshire is not flat like Bedfordshire and so we were climbing up and down small hills; a lovely walk. When we stopped for our break on the walk on Wednesday we stopped in a church yard and the ground was littered with huge fir cones. I stuffed my rucksack full of them as they make good kindling for the fire. I stayed in my walking gear all day and went to Aldi on the way home to buy stuff for dinner and picked up the youngest grandson from school. In the evening we finished watching the Belgian drama 'Black Out' and I started to watch 'Hidden;' a current BBC 4 Welsh drama series with subtitles for those of us who don't speak Welsh. I've enjoyed both of the previous series of this drama; it was very dark and slow moving but worth watching.

On Thursday I led my walk of 5.5 miles; an amble. There were 6 of us plus me and it was enjoyed by all. We started at the garden centre in Milton Ernest then walked in a loop to Thurleigh and back again. The wonderful weather helped. I came back and changed then set off to do the Thursday food shop and farm shop.

Everything charity shopped. Wide legged pants by White Stuff; polo neck by Zara; navy blue lace shirt; no label and coral sneakers by BJ. All jewellery charity shopped.

Yet another glorious day on Friday. I met up with a few of my walking group friends and we walked in Codicote in Hertfordshire; between Hitchin and Welwyn. We saw some magnificent houses:

This was Node Court. I adored the thatched roof turret and the the bridge on the drive. It was closed off so I had to take photos from behind a metal barrier. A Grade II listed building; Node Court was built in 1928 for an American businessman as a model dairy; then further developed as racing stables until 1972 when it was sold off to various business interests. It was the victim of arson attacks in 2015 and 2019. According to our walk leader it had been bought by someone and was being slowly restored.

This 16th/17th century beauty sat in extensive grounds.

The public footpath ran along the left hand side so we were able to have a really good nose!

Side view.

This beautiful pond, part of the above estate, was well stocked with huge fish and Koi carp and had been planted with coloured heather which made it very striking.

Not far from the above house we passed a plant nursery. Run by Isabel aged 81 years as a charity to help homeless people, people with mental health problems and ex-offenders; and called  'Making Life Beautiful' we were welcomed in and offered tea! I bought some lovely Saxifrage plants in deep pink and pale pink which I picked up after the walk. The nursery was in Isabel's 0.3 acre garden where I had my photo taken alongside a life sized metal giraffe!

In a few weeks this wood will be carpeted with bluebells.
Below, Magnolia blossom.

Once part of the Danesbury Estate; this fernery was where we stopped for a break. It looks so peaceful and tranquil but the A1 motorway runs along behind the trees in the distance.
After our 7 mile walk we stopped for some lunch at a local pub then I drove home to get ready for my Mother's Day outing.

I bought this dress at the 'Mercy in Action' shop for 5.00 last week. The label had been cut out but it's made of broiderie anglais. The jacket by BHS came from a 1.00 rail and the shoes were bought online last summer. It was the first day I went without tights or socks. The red bag was a birthday present from my daughter. All the jewellery was charity shopped. We went to the Swan Hotel in Bedford and had afternoon tea. It was delicious and I couldn't finish it all. I brought home a doggy bag containing a mini lemon curd tart and a mini carrot cake which I ate the following day - for part of my breakfast!

Our week of fabulous weather had reached its penultimate day on Saturday. I still had birthday money left to spend and wanted to go for a rummage. OH had a busy day ahead as he was going to try and fit the new shower. I set off for Newport Pagnell alone at 10 am and had a very enjoyable morning browsing. I found some (more) walking boots but in leather this time. (I gave the pair I had bought previously to my daughter who tends to wear trainers when she walks. Walking boots are far kinder to your feet). I also bought a red tiered maxi skirt; a black and white spotted James Lakeland winter jacket; some bangles, a necklace, 2 brooches and a terracotta plant pot. In Age UK, I also found a rather nice pewter jug (4.00). It's by Craftsman of Sheffield; an offshoot of Viners dating from 1926 -1939. I then went completely mad and found the matching teapot and sugar bowl on eBay and spent the rest of the birthday money on them! I removed a few items from my wardrobe and filled a black plastic bag ready for donating to a charity shop.

This was Saturday's outfit. I bought the dress in the summer in a charity shop. It's handmade and lined. The top was a charity shop find originally by Papaya and the pumps were retail from Primarni; bought in the summer. All jewellery charity shopped. I spent the afternoon making a Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Green Lentil Moroccan Stew. I also took my grandson to buy his mum some flowers for Mother's Day and read my book. Daughter and I went out for a walk after 5 pm and walked for 4.5 miles; it was almost dark when I got home. In the evening we started to watch a French drama called 'Trauma' part of the 'Walter Presents' series and found it both gripping and bizarre. It will keep us going until we leave for Ireland. Sunday was a cooler day but we still had spells of sunshine. I made dinner for us all on Sunday and did the usual boring housework. I received more cards and presents; plants, chocolates and flowers as it was Mothering Sunday here in the UK. I am such a lucky woman!

You might have noticed I didn't mention swimming on Sunday. I didn't go as firstly I actually got up too late; the clocks changing always discombobulate me;  secondly after walking for 4 days consecutively I felt I needed to give my body a rest. The last time I walked for 4 days in a row I ended up with a painful knee. I will be swimming on Thursday morning as usual and was looking forward to it.

This was Monday's outfit worn to Barnardo's. I bought the denim pinafore dress by Tu recently but can't remember which charity shop. The top was from a 1.00 rail and the tights and boots were bought online. The necklace is the one picked up on Saturday's rummage in Newport Pagnell; all other jewellery charity shopped, too. 

It was stocktaking day at Barnardo's and the shop was shut until we had completed it. We finished by 11.30 am - there were 4 of us in - and then I decoded the men's section and processed donations. I went into town in the afternoon to get my eyebrows done and to run a few errands for things for the caravan. A Poundstretcher shop had opened recently at the back of the bus station so I checked it out. I bought some dehumidifiers for the caravan and picked up some new nailbrushes for home; another plant and a plant pot. As an opening incentive everything was 50% off in Poundstretcher which was fine by me. After sorting out the fire - yes, we're still lighting the fire in the evenings even though the days have been warm and sunny; I hung out my towels wash and washed the kitchen floor.  I then made dinner and caught up with blog land. I also started on my packing for Ireland. Only 3 days until we left for Liverpool! OH continued to tinker with the shower assuring me I'd be able to have a shower in the morning - at last. Unfortunately, it didn't work; the water was freezing. Help was needed to get it working properly...

There was a definite change in the weather on Tuesday. As I was about to leave for the food bank I realised it was raining and that my washing was still on the line. I rescued it before it became thoroughly wet again and set off to the food bank where it was chilly and the rain drummed on the corrugated iron roof the entire time!

Boots bought from local FB buy and sell group; skirt picked up on Saturday's rummage; polo neck by Primarni via Daycare Hospice shop and jumper by M&Co; from the 1.00 rail at Barnardo's some time ago. All jewellery charity shopped. After making up 50 hygiene packs and restocking the crates at the food bank; I stopped at the chemist on my way home to pick up my prescription. I also went back to Barnardo's as I bought 2 skirts whilst I was there on Monday and forgot to take them with me. They're both cotton patterned maxis but are coming to Ireland with me;  I'll wear them with leggings underneath. One is red (I've gone from having zero red maxi skirts to 3!) and the other one is orange with a yellow trim. When I got home I finished the bulk of my packing; packed away heavier winter skirts from my wardrobe to go into the loft; and hung up my bed linen wash. I missed hanging the washing outside already.  It rained all day and remained chilly. I finished my book and caught up with Blog land then did the fire and made dinner.

Everything I wore was charity shopped except the boots which were donated by my daughter and the Snag tights. Skirt by Red Herring; jumper from Barnardo's. Scarf and all jewellery also charity shopped.

I got up on Wednesday expecting to walk with my group but when I went to check the postcode for the Sat Nav; I realised I'd got the date wrong and the walk was scheduled for next week - when we'll be in Ireland. Undeterred I put  my walking boots on and set off on a new walk. I walked 8.5 miles from Ravensden to Wilden to Renhold and back to the starting point. With a few tweaks it will be a walk I can lead for the Autumn Walks Programme. It pays to be organised! On the last leg of my walk I bumped into a small group of the Saturday group walkers; it was good to see them as I hadn't walked with the Saturday group in a while. A little while after that I saw the black pigs that are kept on the estate I was walking through and was delighted to see a mummy pig with 3 gorgeous piglets. I gave them the biscuits I'd brought with me but there were no photos taken as I'd left my phone at home; doh!!

I came home and got changed then went to Lidl to do a very small shop as I had a 10.00 off voucher and didn't want to waste it. I bought stuff we can take to Ireland. Ireland's food prices are more expensive than here in England so I took advantage of it and did some of my food shopping, for Ireland, here. Of course, I couldn't buy anything perishable. I also went to Aldi for a couple of things and to Sainsbury's to buy some printer ink. Something I'd forgotten to do for more than a week. Having ran all my errands; I picked the youngest grandson up from school. After cooking dinner and taking grandson home I completed my packing except for the very last minute things. Only one day to go...

I woke up to snow on Thursday morning! Great big fluffy flakes in huge swirls. It didn't settle and by the time I'd walked to the swimming pool; where I swam 46 laps; there was no sign it had snowed at all! Then it snowed again in the afternoon once or twice. In fact the afternoon was also sunny but very cold and there was a strong wind. Just think, last week girls were wearing sleeveless dresses....OH and my daughter's partner could get the new shower to work so it's going back to the shop and we'll sort it out when we come back from Ireland. 

We don't have internet connection at the mobile site in Ireland and my eyes are not good enough to cope with reading much on phone screens so I won't be able to read or comment on your blogs for a couple a weeks. I shall miss you all. I hope you stay safe and well and warm!

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Birthday and a visit to Oxford

Hello again. Another fortnight has flown by! 

I woke up to bright blue skies on my 68th birthday on Wednesday. This was the outfit I wore. Everything charity shopped. The top is one of the vintage items I picked up from the vintage event at the Children's Society the week before. The jacket by Lazarus of London; I wore it open after I took the photos. The jumper was by M&S another 1.00 rail find;  boyfriend fit jeans by Next; boots by New Look. The beads were bought on Tuesday afternoon when I went to the Multiple Sclerosis unit to look at their 'Everything 1.00 sale;' which the manager at the charity shop told me about. I didn't realise they had a charity shop on their premises. I bought a vintage dressing gown (I had a similar one in the 1970s) and found a red cross body bag after months of searching - all for 1.00 per item! They also had 4 books for a 1.00 but I had bought enough books at the weekend so resisted temptation - this time...

          Forget-me-not and daisies spotted on my birthday walk.

I went out on Wednesday morning to recce my idea for a new walk. It was just over 8 miles long; I walked 8.6 miles in total but 0.4 miles was  checking out a deviation from the footpath. The bright sunshine continued and there was a brisk breeze but it wasn't cold. I saw a kestrel and a red kite; blackbirds; chaffinches; goldfinches; skylarks, and a magpie feasting on the remains of young dead hare. The hedgerows were full of the twittering, burbling and chinking of a range of hedgerow avian inhabitants including; dunnocks, sparrows, wrens, blue tits, other tits, and I think, siskins. If only they'd stay still long enough for me to get a good look at them! 

I passed a couple of men near the golf course digging out the ditches; they said all the recent rain had caused the golf course to flood. Further on I saw more dug out ditches; this time the debris consisted mainly of branches and twigs; the result of storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. On the last section of the walk I had a talk with this bee keeper.

He was removing the wire coverings that keep the woodpeckers out. They apparently try to eat the grubs and the honey. He was also opening up the anti field-mouse white strip at the bottom to let more warmth in. There was no honey as yet in the hives, but the bees were transporting willow and horse chestnut pollen at the moment and once the oil seed rape was in bloom they would transport that to the hives. Behind the bee keeper is a sloped field which borders a small road. He sells his bees' honey outside the house. I've always called it the 'honey house' it's one of those 'help yourself and leave the money' set ups - which relies on people being honest.

I also spotted this memorial to somebody in the middle of the walk; they must have enjoyed walking or riding as it was alongside a bridle path just before it descended down a hill. Only walkers would really notice it or horse riders.

I had a lovely birthday. Everyone came round in the early evening and we had birthday cake which OH had bought. It was delicious but unfortunately none of us took a photo of it before it was cut up! I received lots of lovely cards, messages and presents. OH bought me an Amazon gift voucher and a set of toiletry bags; my daughter bought me some lipsticks I'd wanted and a red cross body bag (I now have 2); one grandson bought me chocolates; the other bought me a plant; my daughter-in-law bought me some Prosecco, chocolates and gave me some money. What a lucky woman I am!

Everything I wore was charity shopped. Shirt by Chicos; skirt by Dorothy Perkins and hand knitted waistcoat; 1.00 rail somewhere. Boots as before. I'd started off wearing a green jumper over my shirt but I got too warm. All jewellery charity shopped. The striped tights were a Christmas present a few years back.

Thursday was a beautiful day. The temperature reached 16 degrees by the afternoon. I've been in Donegal in the summer when the temperature was 16 was breezy though on Thursday; perfect for drying the washing. I hung two lots of washing out after I'd been swimming (1 mile again). I went to the hairdresser and then did the usual weekly farm shop and Lidl shopping. I was able to take the washing off the line and put it away after I'd unpacked and put the shopping away. I sorted out the fire and by then I was pretty knackered so decided not to cook but to cook tomorrow. I'm quite happy with a light dinner and had scrambled egg on toast.

This is the Arts and Crafts pewter pot OH 'bought' me for my birthday.

On Friday I met up with several friends from the walking group and we had a 5.3 mile walk in Ampthill Great Park. We took a different route to the last walk we did in Ampthill Great Park and passed a pond which was full of newts. I'd never seen them in the wild before and what tiny little things they were. We stopped for a coffee and then I came home and packed my bag for the our weekend trip to Oxford. Not before doing the weekly house clean I might add;  we didn't want to come back on Sunday and have to start cleaning. We also decided on no Sunday dinner either but I made dinner on Friday.

I wore this on Saturday. This top by New Look is very old and I've worn it for a birthday trip before to London. I can't remember where I got it from as I've had it for so long. Marilyn jeans by M&S and boots as before; both charity shopped.  Polo neck as before. All jewellery charity shopped.

Our visit to Oxford was great. It's a city full of beautiful and historic buildings but it's also a tourist hot spot; Saturday was a graduation day with lots of graduands and their families milling around the streets. We had planned to go into the Bodleian library but the crowds deterred us. It was also difficult to get photos that were free of people and or vehicles.

There was a cold wind but otherwise it was quite a bright day. We caught the Park and Ride bus from Oxford Parkway train station using our Senior Citizen's bus pass. Oxford city centre is not good for charity shopping with only two charity shops; an Oxfam and a British Heart Foundation both of which were very expensive. In Oxfam, I spotted a Gudrun Sjoden tunic in purple linen but at 16.00, I passed it by...

Cornmarket Street

The Carfax Tower. This is all that remains of St Martin's Church; the official church of Oxford and built in 1122. The two boys by the bell are called the 'Quarter Boys' and strike the bell every quarter hour. The view from the top is wonderful but we had visited it and seen it before.

Oxford Town Hall. The bus you can see on the left took us out of Oxford city centre to Cowley where we had a rummage...

Christchurch College

Brasenose College.

Baroque porch St. Mary's Church; the University church of Oxford.

Balliol College.

The Sheldonian Museum.

St. Edmund's Church.

The Radcliffe Camera. Built to accommodate the Radcliffe Science Library in the 1700s.

Gate to All Soul's College.

The Bridge of Sighs; part of Hertford College.

The Bodleian Library.

I don't know what buildings these are. According to Google Lens the top picture is Montecute House (in Somerset!) and the photo below Canterbury Cathedral! Clearly they're not; being in Oxford City Centre. I suspect the top picture is part of Christchurch College as we walked down to Christchurch Meadow at one point. I didn't manage to get a decent picture of Magdelen College which was by the river and very picturesque. I tried from the bus but it was all blurry. Updated to say - thanks to Gisela (Miss Magpie HERE ) the above picture is Trinity College and the one below is the church of Merton College.

We stopped for hot chocolate in the oldest coffee house in Europe:

By mid afternoon we wanted to go for a rummage; on the advice of a student in Oxfam we hopped on a bus to Cowley and got off at the Templar's Square Shopping Centre where we found 5 charity shops. I bought 3 more books; including this one in the 'Mercy in Action Outlet' shop.

I also bought a red patterned maxi skirt for 2.00 in the same shop and the scarf I'm wearing below for 50 p in Emmaeus. Having satisfied our rummaging urge we caught the bus back to the city centre and then caught the bus back to the park and ride and checked into our hotel. OH used his bus pass more in Oxford since he was issued it last year. After a couple of hours of chilling out  in the hotel - I watched 'Pride and Prejudice' (with Keira Knightly) for the first time; we walked to the 'Jacobs Inn' for dinner. I spent the rest of the evening reading the 'Arts and Crafts House' book. In the morning I got up for an early swim in the tiny hotel swimming pool where I swam for 30 mins; the maximum time allowed. After a hearty breakfast we set off for Wantage a small market town about ten miles from Oxford. We had thought about going to the Botanical Gardens in Oxford but the weather was a bit chilly and the constant drizzle put us off. Wantage is the birthplace of King Alfred the Great and the home of the Poet Laureate John Betjeman from 1951 to 1972. On our explorations around the town we saw the Betjeman Millenium Park.

Everything charity shopped except the boots.

When we got home after unpacking and washing our dirty clothes and charity shop purchases I spent the remainder of the day reading and using the lap top where I spent my Amazon voucher on 6 Kindle books from Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean Street Press by forgotten or neglected female writers. I also ordered some bamboo plant labels as we had run out; I planned to pot on some of my seedlings during the forthcoming week.  I tried to book on a walk for the following Wednesday but it was full and I booked a swimming session for next Sunday. In the evening we finished watching a 'Walter Presents' a  German three part drama based on a real life case called 'Dead Woods'.

Another lovely day on Monday but what a busy day I had. I only got to sit down at 5.15 pm having been on my feet all day from 8 am. I went to Barnardo's where the donations came in without hardly a break. Then I filled up my car with petrol (now 1.67 p per litre!) on the way home. At home I hung out the whites wash I'd put on before I left. I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking; making a spinach, sweet potato and lentil dhal and some mincemeat crumble slices. I cleaned out and lit the fire and then made dinner. I spent the evening catching up with blog land and reading.

This was the Per Una skirt bought in Oxford on Saturday; red knit top by M&S and jacket by Elizabeth Scott; all charity shopped. Boots bought online. All jewellery charity shopped.

I was woken up early on Tuesday morning by brilliant sunshine. I can't stay in bed when the sun is shining so I got up and got ready for the food bank. On Monday evening I'd discovered that I was due to lead a walk next week on Thursday. I had completely forgotten about it and was very grateful for the reminder otherwise I would have gone swimming as usual! I usually write things straight on to the calendar but hadn't on this occasion; it was because I was asked to lead the walk before I had put my 2022 calendar up. As the weather was so good I decided to recce the walk after I'd been to the food bank.

Warm and practical for the food bank. Everything charity shopped. Boots as before; jeans by Next and frayed by me; top by Anthology bought from Barnardo's as well as the mock suede and fur gilet.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings from eBay.

The walk was one I'd lead before but this time I reversed it. It was such a lovely afternoon I actually worked up a sweat and I didn't even wear the gilet or a jacket. The air was full of the sounds of skylarks and I saw 2 buzzards and a Mistle Thrush. I haven't seen a Mistle Thrush for a very long time so I was delighted to see one. I had my binoculars with me and got a good look at it as it, luckily, perched on top of the hedgerow just in front me. At 5.3 miles the walk was perfect for a Thursday amble. These walks were designed to be walked at a slower pace over shorter distances and usually attract up to 12 walkers. On the way home I went to B&M for more fat balls for the birds - they're eating me out of house and home at the moment. It felt strange walking on a Tuesday afternoon but I was pleased to to be able to do so. I'm enjoying my new regime of swimming on Thursday and Sunday mornings as it frees up Monday and Tuesday afternoons. However, I'm always conscious that the need to shop, cook, wash and clean always eats into my time. Domesticity is the bane of my life and I often fantasise about living on my own and doing what I want to do all day every day! It is just a fantasy though and I'm sure most women have a similar one...

Once again the Wednesday walk was fully booked by the time I tried to book on it (Monday!) so I set off on Wednesday morning to recce the bus walk I'll be leading in June. I'm calling it the 'Bedford Plaque' walk and it will be similar to the one I'd previously led in 2018. However, that walk only included the 16 plaques I knew of then. This year's walk will include 27 plaques and those are only plaques dedicated to people. There are a few plaques dedicated to buildings, too. The plaques range from polar explorers, to Olympians, to artists, actors, music hall artists, doctors, teachers, astronomers and inventors. The walk took me over three hours which included catching a bus to Elstow and walking back into Bedford and was 7.5 miles long. The weather was cool and dull and during the last hour of the walk it rained and rained. In fact it continued to rain for the rest of the day and I got pretty soaked. The photo above was taken close to one of the four plaques dedicated to John Bunyan; the tree was a casualty of the recent storms. After the walk I collected the grandson from school and made dinner. I spent the evening getting on with my book 'Windswept: Why Women Walk' by Annabel Abbs; a Christmas present. It's fascinating...

Everything was charity shopped. Skirt from the Daycare Hospice; Liz Claiborne jacket from the Keech 1.00 rail, striped tee by Primarni via charity shop and red boots; although a fairly recent purchase I can't remember where I bought them. They pinch my little toes as I have wide feet and these are a size smaller than I usually take; I was glad to take them off when I got home from shopping. Belt is ancient and needed to keep the skirt up as the elasticated waist has lost its elasticity! All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which were from Ethnasia an online jewellery store.

Thursday was a day of sunshine and in the sun it was warm but the breeze was quite cold. Our shower had broken (it's very old and this wasn't unexpected) so I was looking forward to having a shower at the swimming pool and washing  my hair. Having a bath is such a faff. We'll buy a new shower at the weekend and hopefully OH can fit it. I'd spent some time looking at showers online and knew exactly what we needed.  It was a good day for drying washing so once I'd finished my 1 mile swim, shower and shampoo; I came home and hung out the towels on the line. I had a leisurely breakfast and got ready after which I set off to do the usual Thursday errands at the farm shop, Lidl and Aldi. I then went for a look at the Castle Rd charity shops where I bought a proper ice cream scoop; some books and a mini basket to keep my make up in in the bathroom. There was more summer stuff out and it made me wonder if we would be putting our summer stuff out when I go back to Barnardo's on Monday. In the evening we started watching a Belgian drama called 'Black Out'.

Friday was a lovely day. Sunshine and warmth. I went for a walk with a few members of my walking group and we walked from Riseley to Melchbourne back to Riseley; 6 miles in total. What I'm wearing was all charity shopped; I just changed my walking trousers and boots for the ones above when I got home. Trousers by Whistles; (linen  - so they crease as soon as you look at them); jumper by Tu; polo neck by M&S and boots as before. All jewellery charity shopped.

We stopped at Melchbourne Church on the walk; surprisingly it was open. A very plain and austere church inside dating from 11th century but updated in the 1700s. 

The stained glass window was the only colourful and ornate thing in the church.

This made me chuckle. A fireplace inside a pew containing padded benches. Clearly, it was meant for the local gentry; the St. John Beauchamp family. The other pews were made of plain hard wood and there was no sign of any form of heating; no radiators, stoves or vents that discharge warm air into the aisles. It must have been freezing in the winter.

Further on we passed these goats sunbathing and this lovely Kuni Kuni pig; who wouldn't show her face for me to photograph! Nevertheless, I gave her a good scratch behind her ears. She was very friendly and I find pigs so appealing. These animals are owned by 'The Giddy Goat' cafe where we stopped for a coffee and in my case a bacon and egg muffin. I know, I'm a hypocrite. I love pigs and yet enjoy a bit of bacon (and ham) occasionally...

In the afternoon I hung out a wash, did the fire and made dinner. I also planted out Nasturtium seeds, some Triteleia (Triplet Lilies) and as I'd bought some Gladiolus 'Priscilla' bulbs in Lidl on Thursday; I planted all 15. 5 in one big pot and 10 in small pots to get them started off in the mini greenhouse. I'd also planted some anemone seeds gathered from plants I had last winter; there was one small pot with green shoots that looked like anemone leaves; the other 6 pots didn't so I'm giving them another week to see how they develop. The Honesty seeds I planted have thrown up tiny green shoots; it's all very exciting... I trimmed the stocks down and pruned the pink trandescantia; taking quite a lot cuttings to eventually pot up and give to my daughter and sister-in-law. I took some to cousin Marian the last time I saw her.

The hyacinth on the doorstep bloomed at last (top right). There's not a lot in the garden at the moment but lots of green shoots and buds. The osteospermum (bottom right) hasn't stopped blooming since last summer and OH picked up the violas from B&M a week ago. I bought some fritillaries (middle bottom) from the Garden Centre at Poddington; I also have some fritillary seedlings  growing nicely in the greenhouse to sow in April. The tulip with the spotted leaves (bottom left) is just about to bloom and there are two more tubs of tulips just about to bloom; I planted those two tubs from bulbs... I'm getting my gardening mojo on!

Another beautifully sunny day on Saturday but with a chilly breeze. I got up and pottered about;  then walked into town to buy some spinach for a vegetarian curry I planned to make for Sunday dinner. 

My three brothers; grandchildren; daughter; partner and daughter in law were coming on Sunday for dinner to celebrate my birthday. OH was making a chicken curry for the meat eaters and would do rice and peas; roast potatoes; 'hard food' (yam, plantain and green banana) I would make salad and coleslaw; daughter would make brown rice. After I got back from town I set off for the village of Clifton where there was a jumble sale being held in aid of Ukrainian Refugees. It's years since I've been to a jumble sale and they're rarely advertised these days. The manager at Barnardo's told me about this one. I think car boot sales brought about the demise of the jumble sale. At this jumble sale there was a lot of tat; gone are the days when you could find lovely vintage clothing at jumbles sales.

However, I did buy a bedspread and a short sleeved Falmers mustard top for summer whilst I was there and a slice of home made cake. When I got back OH had been out to buy the shower and I made a Cauliflower, Sweet Potato and Spinach curry and some flapjacks. OH made me dinner and I read and watched more episodes of 'Blackout' in the evening.

Trousers from La Redoute sale about 7 or 8 years ago. Polo neck by Next and blouse by Zara; both charity shopped. Boots present from daughter. All jewellery charity shopped.

This was Sunday's outfit. I bought this dress in a charity shop in Ireland in 2020; I don't think I've worn it on the blog before. I did wear it on a trip to Co. Kerry when I went with cousins Linda and Doirin to see Skellig Michael and Puffin Island. It's  a F&F dress, with a black polo underneath bought in Bedford market; waistcoat no label; 1.00 rail. I'm also wearing new to me black leather knee high boots which I bought for 5.00 in the Children's Society to replace the pair I bought and couldn't zip up. These boots fit me fine even though they're a size 3 and I can get the zip up past my calves! All jewellery charity shopped except earrings bought from Sainsbury's. I went for a swim on Sunday morning managing a mile - 48 laps before the whistle blew. Then home for breakfast and to do the housework and get ready for all the visitors. We had a lovely day; everyone enjoyed the food of which there was plenty. Brothers and daughter went home with goody bags. Julian had to go back to London and couldn't stay over but we had a really enjoyable time together. The next get together is likely to be in May when it's OH's birthday but brother Tony may come out to Donegal when we're there over Easter.

Spring bouquet from Lidl. I had a 2.00 off voucher so treated myself.

Monday's outfit worn to Barnardo's where it was a strangely quiet day. Everything charity shopped; black Per Una 'boot cut' jeans (my only pair); tee shirt by Next; jacket by BM and black boots by New Look. All jewellery charity shopped. I washed the bedspread I bought from the jumble sale and the bed linen and hung them outside to dry. Monday was another lovely sunny day with the temperature a very respectable 15 degrees; what's more it's forecast to be the same all week! I love taking freshly washed clothes and linen off the linen; they always smell so good. I recently bought an 'Eco Laundry Egg' which removes the need for washing liquid and fabric softener. Instead it uses 2 types of mineral pellets and a small amount of detergent encased in a recyclable egg. In fact, it came with 3 packs of 70 pellets and can do up to 210 washes before it needs replacement pellets. You can read more HERE. I spent the rest of the day catching up with blogs and making dinner. In the evening we continued watching 'Black Out' and will watch the final two episodes on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday was a fabulous day. It was both warm and sunny with very little breeze. It felt like a summer's day.  People were wearing shorts and tee shirts and I saw girls in sleeveless dresses - in March! At the food bank I made up 50 hygiene packs and restocked the toiletry crates. Everything I wore above  to the food bank was charity shopped; with the exception of the shoes which were bought online some years ago. The kimono, which is actually a dressing gown, was bought in a Donegal charity shop; I can't remember where I bought the F&F top and trousers from but know it was from charity shops. All jewellery charity shopped. The head and shoulders photo was taken not using the selfie mode on the phone camera which always gives a slightly blurred gauzy finish but this mode makes me look as if I'm gazing off into the distance...

I swam 50 laps on Tuesday afternoon and even managed to get out before the whistle blew! I swam on Tuesday as I'm leading a walk on Thursday morning; my usual swimming morning. I'm walking with my Rambler's group on Wednesday near Hitchin in Hertfordshire; again on Friday in Codicote; also near Hitchin but with a smaller group; we'll stop for a coffee at the end. On my way home from swimming my Fitbit watch told me I'd just earned my Monarch migration badge having walked 2,500 miles (the same distance the Monarch Butterfly migrates) since I got the watch on my birthday last year. Go me!

My daughter is taking me somewhere for a Mother's Day outing on Friday afternoon, I don't know where; all I know is I have to be ready to be picked up at 5 pm. I'll tell you all about it in less than a fortnight as we'll be in Ireland in a fortnight's time.

Until the next time...

Naahh, Luton Airport.

Hello - it's that time again!  Time is certainly flying and we're definitely into autumnal mode now. Schools are back; leaves are fa...