Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Back to normal....

Hello it's good to be back!

This is a photo heavy post - you have been warned...

This was me on the morning we sailed from Liverpool to Belfast. We stayed overnight in a 'Premier Inn' but when we arrived in Birkenhead in the afternoon it was cold and the rain was lashing down. We chilled out for the rest of the day; cancelling any idea of taking a ferry across the Mersey - next time perhaps - and got up bright and early on Saturday to catch the ferry.



The view from the ferry of Liverpool.

We had an extremely relaxing time on our two week trip to Ireland. We did very little except visit three sets of relatives; one set in Mullaghmore and Grange in Co. Sligo; another set in Mohill, Co. Leitrim and the final visit was to Edenderry in Co. Offaly.


We had a few warm, sunny days but mostly it rained; it was Ireland after all! One evening the wind was so ferocious the mobile home seemed to rock from side. I thought we would be blown over, for sure.  We had a short snow storm one day and although the snow didn't settle on the ground for long it remained on one of the mountain tops until the next day.

The outfit I wore above was all charity shopped except the boots; present from daughter. Trousers by Zara, polo by Uniqlo and top by Laura Ashley. The jewellery was all charity shopped. I wore this outfit the day we went to Edenderry; where a very strange thing happened. When we arrived there we decided to look at the charity shops before going to see the family. There used to be two charity shops along Main Road but that had increased to four since we were last there. I found a dress, a jacket by Cos (on the 1 euro rail) and this stone head; for 5 euros.


I thought it was a Celtic artefact because of the circular patterns but when I looked it up online it seemed to be from South Africa. It's now hanging on the back wall of our garden. Anyhow, when we were on our way back to the car to go and visit the family; we heard a shout 'Veronica', Veronica'. I knew it wouldn't be anyone from the family as in my family I'm called Vera. When we'd located the source of the voice to a car parked across the road; it was one of my walking friends from the Saturday walking group - Rose! It wasn't that strange really as I knew her husband came from the same town as my father's family. They were visiting her husband's relatives and I was visiting mine and we happened to coincide on Main Street, Edenderry in Ireland!

Apart from visiting relatives in Co. Sligo; cousins Doirin; Liam and Martina; we visited Sligo town for a rummage and went to Rossnowlagh Beach and Maghera Beach and Caves (both in Co. Donegal). I didn't swim but we had lovely walks along both beaches which are both a couple of miles long. We also drove around the Glengesh Pass in Co. Donegal before going to Maghera.


Rossnowlagh


Maghera Beach


View from Glengesh Pass


The 'Secret' Waterfall near Maghera Beach.


On our drive to Glengesh Pass we spotted several chickens around this Irish cabin but by the time I'd got the camera focused only one was left. I liked the play on perspective; that isn't a giant chicken...just a small cabin!


I'd almost forgotten we visited Derry where I had hoped to walk round the city walls; the rain put paid to that -  as it did on my last visit to the city. One day I'll get to walk round the city walls when it's not raining. We did manage a rummage and I bought a colourful jacket for £5.00. It's such a shame that the lovely building above (Austin's Department Store) was unoccupied. It had amazing stained glass windows fit to grace a church.


The Guildhall.


I hadn't spotted this plaque before on previous visits...


Just a couple of outfits worn on holiday. Everything charity shopped. Boots above as before. I didn't wear two of the skirts I'd brought with me and one top, so my packing was pretty good. I usually pack too much; which is daft as I have quite a few clothes in the mobile home part of a permanent wardrobe I keep there. I wore the skirt below on three occasions; once as seen; another day with a navy blue top and another day with a green top and green tights.


We either ate out each day or OH cooked which was a lovely break from cooking for me. On the last day of the holiday we packed up the car and the mobile home and drove to Belfast where we stayed in The Lansdowne Hotel on the Antrim Road. I'd recommend it; lovely hotel and staff and everyone was so helpful. We had time to register and unpack our stuff before we set off to catch a bus to the city centre where we went for a rummage. I was hoping we could use our bus passes but the bus driver said they weren't valid in Northern Ireland; why, I don't know - it's meant to be part of the UK after all. (Updated to say the bus pass scheme is a national one only not a UK one). Instead, we bought a ticket for just over 4.00 each which allowed us - if we'd wanted - to travel on and off any of the city buses all day. I do like Belfast as a city. It's full of beautiful buildings many of which I've featured here on the blog before and the charity shops we found were pretty good. I bought another Matroyshka doll to add to my collection and a BNWT M&S skirt for 5.00. We caught the ferry the following day; the ferry port was just a ten minute drive from the hotel and we arrived home just before ten the same evening.


There's something 'Count Dracula' about him...


 My collection. Some were gifts but most found in charity shops and car boot sales. When the collection reaches the end of the shelf I'll stop...

Whilst we'd been away the garden had gone into productive mode. The tulips -  before we left and when we got back.


The wallflowers were out.


The Pansies had come on leaps and bounds


I hadn't killed the Euphorbia after all...and another piece of good news; the Magnolia tree I thought I had pruned back too hard was showing a couple of green shoots - hurrah! The Wisteria, too, was full of green shoots and tiny leaves. In fact in the two weeks we'd been away the trees everywhere no longer had bare branches but were covered in green and blossom was everywhere. I even spotted flowering Wisteria.


Everything charity shopped. Trousers from 1.00 rail somewhere; top by Cos from my Barnardo's and pumps bought last year. All jewellery charity shopped. It was brilliant to wear fewer layers and lap up the warm sunshine.



Our first full day at home proved to be busy. I did 4 lots of washing which were hung out to dry involving the clothes airer as well as the washing line. I went to Aldi and Lidl to do the grocery shopping and whilst I was there I bought some Petunias for the front window box and a lovely orange Thunberga plant. OH was busy getting the garden into shape as it had gone quite wild whilst we were away. We planted out the Honesty seedlings; the remaining Fritillaries and the Gladiolus bulbs. OH got the garden hose out and gave everything a good soaking and I tidied up and watered the front garden. Our fig tree had lots of new leaves on it - I thought I'd pruned that too hard, too, but it looked green and healthy - whew! I made dinner and quite later on in the evening we lit the fire using some of the turf we brought back with us. The evenings were still chilly despite the warmer days.


Everything charity shopped. Polo from Primarni via charity shop; red jeans by Laura Ashley; tunic by Store Twenty One and pumps bought last year. All jewellery charity shopped.



Although I was home on Monday I didn't go to Barnardo's as I knew there would be a lot to do at home. I did go to the food bank, however, on Tuesday. The warehouse was strangely empty; there were gaps where previously there were crates full of food. The warehouse manager said we were issuing three times the amount of food we used to (pre-pandemic) but that donations were down. This time of year donations do decrease but I wonder how much the increase in the cost of living has contributed to it? Time will tell. I made up lots of hygiene packs and restocked crates as much as I could; we had run out of toothpaste and I hoped supplies would have increased by the time I went back the following week...

On Wednesday, the group walk was from Hinchingbrooke Country Park (in Cambridgeshire) and what a wonderful walk it was. The weather was beautiful; warm, sunny with a bit of a breeze. From the park we walked to Brampton; then onto Godmanchester, into Huntingdon and back to the country park; 7.5 miles in total.

Samuel Pepys lived in this house and went to school locally:



Godmanchester. The bridge was being repainted so we didn't get to cross it but went around it. The houses banking the river (Great Ouse) had boathouses with balconies like the one below.



The town offices in Godmanchester.


View along the river Great Ouse.

I collected the youngest grandson from school and stayed in my walking clothes all day. I renewed my resident parking permit online. Mine had expired and I hadn't realised; part of the council's cost saving exercise not to to send out reminder letters; when we got back on Sunday there was a parking ticket attached to my car. I paid it over the phone on Monday; just in time to stop the fee from doubling to 50.00! I made dinner for both grandsons and OH and as we had lit the fire the night before; cleaned it out and relaid it. It was definitely back to the normal routine for me...


Although I didn't need to do food shopping on Thursday it was still a busy day. I went for a swim and managed to do 48 laps (1 mile). Then it was off to the hairdresser and to the sorting office to collect a parcel which wasn't there - it had been returned to the sender - aaarghhh! Did you know that if a parcel isn't claimed from Royal Mail and there are no sender details to return it to; it gets send to a Royal Mail Depot in Belfast where they open it and decide either to dispose of it or send it to charity! So, it's a good idea to include your details if you send a package to someone...I know I'm probably preaching to the converted.


This is one of the skirts I bought from Barnardo's and took to Ireland but didn't wear. The top by Falmer's was a 1.00 rail find; the denim jacket was a charity shop purchase last year. The pumps by New Look via a charity shop. All jewellery charity shopped except earrings bought from eBay. 

From the sorting office I drove to the Farm shop to buy coal and kindling. The coal had increased in price by 5.00! I then went to Sainsbury's and Aldi for forgotten items from Monday's shopping trip. I went to B&M for bird food supplies; dropped of a bag of donations to the Hospice shop and then decided to go for a rummage in the Castle Road charity shops as I'd broken my large tea cup just before we went to Ireland. I found one! I also found a book and a pair of summer trousers by Topshop. After packing away all my purchases from the day I had a bit of a wardrobe swap over. This was my second swap over having put most of my heavy winter coats and skirts away already. I put away heavy cardigans, dresses and jackets and brought down a bag of summer clothing - jackets, skirts and dresses. There were still two bags of summer clothing in the loft containing tops, trousers and night wear; they will be taken down in due course depending on the weather. I swapped over ankle boots for shoes. I keep my sandals in a basket under my bed so they just get pulled out to remind me I have some; I only really wear sandals when it's very hot. And talking of temperatures it reached 19 degrees on Thursday and felt like summer! On the way back from my Thursday rummage I spied some gorgeous blossoms and had to take photos:





I suffer from Wisteria envy...

I met some of my walking group friends on Friday at noon having gone into to town first to buy a couple of items I needed. We met in Bedford Park in the cafe and after tea, cake and a chat set off on a 6 mile walk to see the Spring flowers in the local woods. First stop was at the community orchard:


On the left is a Medlar tree (Mespilus Germanica) or as it is known colloquially; 'dog's arse' (for the shape of the fruit); on the right some apple blossom.  I've never tasted a medlar but I did know they had to 'bletted (allowed to rot) before they can be eaten! From the orchard we wandered over to the pond which was full of tadpoles and saw some cowslips and snake's head fritillaries. Primroses were everywhere, too.


On to the woods;

Wood anemones


Bluebells in Clapham Park Wood.

On the way back from the walk; I was shown a path I didn't know existed. It takes you into the cemetery then exits into the park. I'll be making use of that path in future; especially if I don't want to climb 'Cemetery Hill' - our very own 'Hill of Doom'. On the way back from the walk having come prepared; I gathered a bag full of pine cones outside the swimming pool. They make great kindling.





I wore this outfit. Everything charity shopped; t shirt from Primarni; Mom jeans by Next; shirt by M&S and pumps as before. All jewellery charity shopped. I also wore my boiled wool navy coat on the walk as it was a much cooler day than Thursday with a sharp wind. I wore these same jeans on Saturday and Sunday as well.

During the week I had caught up with blog land; finished one book and started another; watched 'Secrets of the Museum' but hadn't watched any other TV. I got my crochet mojo back a bit in Ireland; I crocheted 11 further squares for the 'Circles into Squares' blanket #2 I started over a year ago! I hadn't picked it up since I got back but I must; I need 100 squares for the blanket and I'd only made 39 so far -  a long way to go.

On Saturday the weather was cool with a chilly breeze but at least it was dry; which was just as well as it was the 'Unlock London Walk #39: In the Shadows of the Tower'. Cancelled for the past 2 years thanks to Covid; this years walk was in East London (London Borough of Tower Hamlets - hence the title) taking in 6 churches in total. We walked from Whitechapel, to Mile End, to Stepney, to Bethnal Green, to Spitalfields where the final church was 'Christ Church' and the oldest one of the 6. The other churches were relatively modern with the most recent being constructed in 2018. At each church there were refreshments and you made a donation. All the money raised goes to charities. We caught the 08.10 am train from Bedford and got back home about 6. 45pm; having walked 10.6 miles. We were both pretty shattered I can tell you, but it was a most enjoyable day.

William and Catherine Booth; founders of the Salvation Army started out in the East End.



This monument to the father of the Bangladeshi nation was in someone's front garden.

FATHER OF THE BANGLADESHI NATION BANGOBONDU
SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN
7TH OF MARCH
TO 15TH OF AUGUST 175 UNVEILED BY
SURANJIT SENGUPTA. MP
MRY OF PAL ADVISOR BANGLADESHAAMMLEAGLE MINISTRY OF LA JUSTICE AND PARLIAMENTARY
17TH DECIDIE FUNDED BY
AFSAR KHAN SADEK
শ্রদ্ধাঞ্জলি বাংলাদেশ হাইকমিশন

I had to include this blue plaque!

This street lost 22 men in the Great War and erected their own war memorial to them.


Regent's Canal

What a fab idea for a window box!

These 2 places we passed on the walk made me laugh and might be worth a return visit! You can see me in the window reflection on the left with Tina one of our walking group.

Christ Church, Spitalfields.

If only the sky had been that blue on Saturday!


The interior of Christ Church, Spitalfields.




I went for a swim on Sunday morning and struggled to do my 48 laps. I think my muscles were still tired from Saturday's walk. Did the usual housework and cooked Sunday dinner. Middle grandson came to stay for a few days.

I had a surprise on Monday morning; I got a call from the manager of Barnardo's to say that because of staff shortages the Great Denham shop was closed and could I go to Kempston instead. I could and I did. It's a much bigger shop and carries much more of Barnardo's own goods as well as furniture and baby goods such as cots, buggies etc.




Pumps and denim jacket as before. Skirt bought from Barnardo's and top from 1.00 rail at Barnardo's. All jewellery charity shopped. 

I was very busy serving customers all morning and before I knew it it was home time. I stopped at Lidl and Aldi on the way home. Having done the weekly shop on Easter Monday instead of a Thursday as usual; I kept running out of items. It'll be back to the normal Thursday shop this week, thank goodness. I did a towels wash and hung it out and I finished putting my winter clothes away and taking the rest of my summer clothes down from the loft. I got rid of quite a lot of clothes and filled another black bin bag ready to donate. I am determined to buy less second hand clothing and just shop my wardrobe for the next three months to see if I can do it. For example, I have 22 pairs (!) of patterned light weight trousers which means I could wear a different pair every day for 3 weeks. I should do this as a challenge -  but I would get bored wearing trousers everyday; I'd miss wearing skirts and dresses. However, I did find this:


It's a small scarf by Liberty - a neckerchief. After making dinner I spent the rest of the evening catching up with blog land and writing my own.


Everything charity shopped; trousers and pumps by New Look. No label tunic but I love the design; show me a floral print and I'm hooked straight away. All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which were from eBay; I think.


Back to the food bank today where I was busy making up hygiene packs, restocking toiletry crates and putting donated toiletries away. The big gap on the warehouse floor was filled up again. The food bank had to buy a considerable amount of food items to make up for the shortfall. After I'd finished I dropped off another black bin bag of donations to the Daycare Hospice shop. I'm just off for a short walk before I start making dinner for OH and grandson. I'm dining out tonight at my daughter's house who is making a vegan meal for me; can't wait. See you in a fortnight!























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