Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Ramblings from Luton to London

 Here we are again!

Blackthorn blossom taken on my Wednesday morning walk...

I had a great catch up with Ann on Tuesday evening 14th March. We met at a local pub for a meal. There was a pub quiz the same evening and although we didn't join in officially; we had fun guessing some of the answers. We've agreed the next time we'll meet at the same venue and enter the pub quiz. Just have to think up a name  for our team of 2. The Golden Girls?  The Besties? Suggestions welcome please!

I started Wednesday with a 5 mile walk. I walked to Clapham; then across the Bedford and County Golf Course; along the perimeter of Clapham Park Woods; across the fields then along a (very muddy) footpath between Brickhill allotments and where the food bank is; then home. Walking across the fields I met a small group of mixed Ivel Valley and North Beds walkers. During lock down when the rule of 6 was introduced; it seems lots of people from the two main walking groups formed their own small groups and walked regularly. That's certainly how my 'unofficial Friday bus walk' group began but I only joined them last year. The group I met on Wednesday's walk advised me the footpath ahead was very muddy but I braved it anyway. 

I changed into this outfit when I got home; everything pre-loved. Skirt by New Look; polo neck by Uniqlo; top by Mandolin; boots as before. I went to do the errands I needed to do in the afternoon; topping up bird food supplies at Home Bargains; Aldi shopping and I stopped at the Daycare Hospice shop near my hairdressers for a quick look. I found an animal print short sleeved top in the 1.00 sale and a wicker cutlery tray; which I repurposed for my make up and hair stuff storage in the bathroom. Home then to catch up with blog land and blogging; sort out the fire and make dinner. It was eldest grandson's birthday on Wednesday; he's 28 and has just had a promotion at work. I saw him being born...

Thursday was as manic as always. I went for a swim and was very pleased to see they had restarted the Sunday morning lane swimming session but at the earlier time of 8.30 am. I booked for this Sunday and this will become the replacement for my Tuesday afternoon swimming slot.  I used to swim on Sunday and Thursday mornings until they stopped the Sunday morning slot some months ago. As you know I volunteer at the food bank on Tuesday and when I finish there I come home and clean off my make up ready to swim at 2 pm. It will be great to have Tuesday afternoon's free again! After my swim where I managed 45 lengths; I came home for breakfast; got ready and went to do the Lidl weekly shop and to the farm shop for kindling and logs.

I rescued this tunic from the ragbag at Barnardo's for a donation (no tag and no care label); trousers by Laura Ashley; polo neck and boots as before. Everything pre-loved including the jewellery.

Youngest grandson wasn't at school because of the teacher's strike so I collected him from his house to have dinner with us along with the middle grandson. I nearly always make the same dinner every Thursday by popular request and once we've eaten it's off to basket ball practice. Only then do I collapse onto the sofa and chill out; there just isn't any time during the day. We continued watching 'Blood Pact' and very gripping it's proving to be.

I forgot to take an outfit photo on Friday but I wore this striped knitted dress by Apricot (it has pockets - yay!) over a navy H&M polo neck and Next jeans (all pre-loved) and these 'new to me' shoe boot type things picked up at Emmaus a couple of weeks ago. The truest colour of the boots can be seen on the left along with my bright blue walking socks! I wore my orthotics in the boots and they were very comfortable for walking.

I took the photos when I got home from Friday's adventure; which wasn't a trip to Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire with my brother Tony as planned. Tony wasn't feeling well and cancelled, so I went on the 'unofficial Friday bus walk' with a small group of 4; and this time we did catch a bus - to Luton! The weather was pants; it rained for most of the walk and we all got thoroughly wet. Luckily, I wore my Seasalt coat which was shower proof and had a hood. The walk was only 5 miles in total around Luton but we visited New Town; a Bailey Hill Water Tower; the Mossman Carriage Collection at Stockwood Country Park and Luton General cemetery.

Spotted at the start of the walk:

Camels in Luton!
Beautifully decorated building; possibly Arts and Crafts. The date of the building was given as 1912 but the business it housed originally was established in 1878; as can be seen on the left hand side at the very top.

Bailey Hill Water Tower - now a private dwelling. Built in 1901 to supply water to Stopsley (an area of Luton) after the drought of 1898. Built in the Arts and Crafts style with Luton grey brick with stone dressings.

The Mossman Carriage collection is one of the largest collections of horse drawn vehicles before the invention of the motor car. Having said that; this is what greeted you as you entered the building:

A 1948 Vauxhall Wyvern. 
Luton is the home of Vauxhall car manufacturers. I'm not a petrol head but I would love, love, love to have this car! The Vauxhall badge on the front of the car was rather beautiful too, and I took a photo of it. I don't know what happened but I ended up with a photo of my neck instead...

A Brougham

A Landau

Not sure what this one was called. Google lens called it a landau but I understood a landeau to have a covered box...

Hearses. One grand and one not so grand.

A Post Chaise.

An early type of omnibus

Luton has a significant population of  people of Asian descent; mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi.

A later type of omnibus.

A Mail Coach.

It was an interesting walk and we enjoyed tea with walnut and coffee cake at the cafe in Stockwood Park Discovery Centre where the Mossman collection was housed. The cemetery was a typical Victorian cemetery with lots of interesting grave stones; however it was raining heavily and the trees were dripping so it was both wet and gloomy and not good for photos...

Saturday was wet and miserable although the sun came out after 4 pm for a while.  The days are getting longer; it didn't get dark until after 6. My daughter, middle grandson and I went to see my son; it's about an hour and a half drive each way. We left at 11 and were home soon after 6. Everything pre-loved; polo neck as before; skirt by New Look; top bought recently reduced to 1.00; boots as before; jacket by New Look.

Earrings bought in Sainsbury's years ago; all other jewellery pre-loved.

I went for swim on Sunday morning doing 45 laps. I came home and made breakfast and then felt so inextricably tired I went and laid down in the spare room and slept for 3 hours! I was absolutely fine when I got up and did the usual weekly house cleaning with OH. Then around the time we normally sit down to eat dinner on a Sunday; my daughter took me to the Swan Hotel for Mother's Day Afternoon Tea.

It was delicious and I tried Masala Chai tea for the first time which was lovely. I shall be looking to see if any the supermarkets I use sell it.

Flowers and home made flapjacks for Mother's Day presents and two beautiful cards from my son and daughter. That's my Victorian jug (1878) which I bought at the Keech charity shop for 1.25 about four years ago.

Everything pre-loved. Trousers by M&S; top by Wallis; jacket by Betty Jackson bought at the MS Centre Everything 1.00 sale. Boots as before; all jewellery pre-loved.

Despite my 3 hour siesta I still managed to sleep as usual on Sunday evening and woke up to a dry day on Monday morning. I worked with the manager at Barnardo's on Monday; starting the shift by going to Bromham post office and doing the banking. I then processed donations and decoded the children's section. The big inspection at our shop was on Tuesday and everything was spick and span in readiness! I found a summer skirt and a summer pair of trousers; both of which were put away when I got in. Hopefully it wouldn't be too long before I got to wear them...

Everything pre-loved. Skirt by Evie, vintage blouse has a German label; top by Amaranto; boots as before. All jewellery pre-loved.

After Barnardo's I stopped at Sainsbury's on the way home to pick up some bits and pieces. I forgot to see if they had Masala Chai teabags. Once home I put a wash on and then walked into town to pick my reservation from the library of number 4 in the series by Elly Griffiths. Once home again I caught up with blogging and blog land before cleaning out the fire; lighting it and cooking dinner.

When I add photos to my blog I always have them side by where I can but I notice they don't end up that way in the published version; making the blog seem very long. How annoying...

I wore this outfit to the food bank on Tuesday. All pre-loved except the boots by New Look retail. Pinafore dress also by New Look; Top by Next; all jewellery pre-loved except earrings bought in a Donegal gift shop and made by a local artisan. 

We were one volunteer short this week and had to work very hard to pack the increasing number of food parcels required. For the first time in a long time I didn't have to go swimming on Tuesday afternoon and had a free afternoon. I continued to catch up with blogs and finished my reserved library book. I reserved the 5th in the Elly Griffiths series and hoped to read it this week, too. I walked into town to the cash machine just so I got some fresh air then came home and made dinner. We were still watching the first series of 'The Blood Pact' in the evenings. The plan for the rest of the week was to walk with the group on Wednesday in Biggleswade; a meal and quiz night thank you event on Friday evening for the food bank volunteers; and on Saturday there was a London walk from Thamesmead to Kent with the North Beds Ramblers group. I have never been bored once since I retired 9 years ago; there's always something to do or something that needs doing...

Wednesday's outfit - all pre-loved. Suede jacket by F&F bought in a Castle Rd junk shop for 3.00. Jeans by M&S; polo neck by F&F; tunic by Anthology. No label on the green boots and I can't remember where I got them from. All jewellery also pe-loved except the earrings which were an old Sainsbury's buy.

I woke up too late to go on the group walk; well, I could have made it if I rushed but I hate rushing and refuse to do it anymore. The weather was beautiful; both warm and sunny. I opened all the windows and the back door to let the warmth and sunshine in. If I could have been bothered anymore it was the sort of the day to do spring cleaning! I used to spring clean religiously for years. I'd wash windows and paint work; take down curtains and wash them and clean the blinds. The only thing I did on Wednesday was take the cushion covers off the sofas in the living room; wash them and hang them out in the sun. I did venture into the garden and planted some cyclamen and fritillary bulbs. I think the cyclamens will be fine as they seem very hardy plants; not sure about the fritillaries as it's a bit late in the year but nothing ventured, nothing gained...

I decided to go to Rushden for a rummage as it'd been a while since I was last there. Once again even more shops had closed down; this seemed to be the situation on every high street in every town I'd visited in the last year. I'm guessing it's because of on line shopping; plus the increased costs of renting or leasing commercials premises has driven more businesses out to retail parks. Rushden had 5 charity shops but now has 4. I was looking for Elly Griffiths books as usual; found one but I already had it. I bought a few other books; an Etam blouse (almost vintage!) and a necklace. The weather became overcast and quite blustery whilst I was out but it was 15 degrees outside. I stopped at Aldi for the weekly shop; then it was home to hang out more washing and pray it wouldn't rain. It didn't I'm glad to say at least not  until much later than evening when the washing had been taken in. There was no cooking to be done; I'd made a casserole for OH on Tuesday and made enough for it last for 2 days. I had fish and chips from the chippy round the corner. We finally finished watching the last of series 1 of 'The Blood Pact' and look forward to watching series 2 next.

Thursday came round again... I went swimming and swam 45 laps. After eating breakfast and getting ready it was off to the farm shop for logs and kindling; onto Lidl for the weekly shop. Once home and the shopping was unpacked and put away; I just had time to nip into to town and pick up a library book reservation for my daughter before I was off again to pick youngest grandson up from school. It was 16 degrees according to the car temperature gauge. Once home again washing was hung up; fire sorted and dinner cooked. Dropped grandson to basket ball practice and then caught up with blogging.

Thursday's outfit was all pre-loved. Skirt by M&S (Per Una); top by F&F; jacket by Betty Jackson; boots as before. All jewellery also pre-loved. I should have gone to the hairdressers today but put it back to next week as we'll be off to Ireland very shortly and at least my hair will look okay whilst I'm there! I also need to find time next week to get my eyebrows done...

I didn't intend to walk on Friday as I was doing a long walk in London on Saturday but the sunshine and warmth enticed me on the unofficial bus walk on Friday. We started at Ampthill and walked to Maulden and back. It was a lovely bright day but quite windy at times. We walked 6.5 miles which included me having a quick look at the charity shops. I bought a couple of things from the 1.00 rail in the RSPCA (a summer jacket and pink top - I don't have much pink in my wardrobe) and in the Willen Hospice shop I found a short pleated skirt from Next BNWT reduced to 2.00.

We passed lots of thatched cottages on the walk; the row above was in Ampthill.

These were more than likely in Maulden. Did you spot the Thatcher's signature on the roof? A duck and two ducklings...

St. Mary the Virgin church and churchyard with the Ailesbury family mausoleumPart of the north wall and the bottom part of the tower date from the 14th century, the doorway is 15th century and the top part of the tower dates from the 16th century.

Views across the Bedfordshire countryside.

After the walk we stopped at a cafe in Ampthill where I had tea and the most delicious slice of chocolate cake.  I got home and got ready as in the early evening we were off to the Food Bank Quiz Night and dinner. We had great fun and our table came 6th out of 10 in the quiz. I wore this outfit but the camera did something weird so forgive the peculiar colouring.

Everything pre-loved and seen before on the blog. Jacket by Zara; blouse by F&F and skirt bought at a charity shop price but at QD.

I was up very early on Saturday morning for more walking adventures. I met 8 of the North Beds Ramblers group at Bedford station where we made our way to Farringdon and met John the walk leader; onto the Elizabeth line to Abbey Wood (South-east London) then a bus to Thamesmead; where we began a 9 mile walk along the River Thames. This group had walked most of the Thames path and this walk was their final one. It's taken them about 2 years to do and they are about to start at the beginning again, so I hope to be joining them. I have walked some of the Thames paths routes but not in any particular order.

From left to right; Margaret; Joy; John; Sandra; me; Stephanie and behind us; Janet and Rose. Rose is the friend I met in Ireland in Co. Offaly when we were there last October - such a lovely surprise! Janet's husband Bob took the photo. This photo was taken at the end of the walk when we were waiting for the train back to London Bridge.

Thamesmead. We stopped at a cafe here for coffee before starting our 9 mile trek. The part of the Thames we walked was from Thamesmead to Erith (Kent). It was not a pretty walk; mostly industrial landscapes and a lot of derelict riverside structures but it was fascinating. I was sorry I hadn't brought my binoculars as there was a lot of wild fowl on the river.

We had to leave the river at this point and walk through an industrial estate...

Thanks to Sandra for the following photos:


Thames Estuary.
This is the river Darent which flows in the Thames. In the distance is QEII bridge which has two bored tunnels at either end and is known as the Dartford Crossing; it's the busiest estuarial crossing in the UK; crossing from Dartford, Kent to Thurrock in Essex.

The Crossness Pumping Station which pumped water from London sewers; processed it and pumped it back into the Thames from 1865 (the Great Stink of 1858 triggered its construction; see here for more info HERE) until the 1950s.

It has a beautifully ornate Gothic interior and is open to the public on special open days.


Egyptian geese. We also saw Dunlin and a huge variety of gulls; as well as 3 magpies mobbing a crow...

16th century Tithe barn near Erith.

This moated property once housed a manor house which  belonged to Bishop Odo; William the Conqueror's half brother...

At London Bridge station the rest of the group headed for Bedford but I headed for Harlesden via the underground where OH picked me up and we went to his mum's house and congratulated her on her 99th birthday!

Happy birthday, Mum!

I was still tired from Saturday's walk and didn't bother with swimming on Sunday. I booked for Tuesday afternoon instead. I spent the day doing the house cleaning with OH and cooking dinner for the grandsons. We continued watching 'The Blood Pact' series 2 in the evening and will catch up with the new BBC series of Dicken's 'Great Expectations' on Monday evening. Monday itself was a different one for me. I didn't volunteer at Barnardo's charity shop as usual, but sat for over 2 hours in our local walk-in clinic waiting to see a doctor about a week long stomach ache. Excess acid was the verdict and and by the time I'd picked up the anti-acid medication prescribed it was too late to do anything except return home and chill out. I did two washes and sorted out the fire before making a sausage casserole for dinner.  I caught up with blog land and my own blog. I also began packing some stuff for Ireland. We're off to Liverpool on Saturday and sail for Belfast on Sunday morning; I can't wait!

I dressed in the expectation of volunteering. Everything except the boots pre-loved/thrifted. Skirt by Next; picked up in Ampthill on Friday; polo neck by Oasis; jacket by Liz Claiborne. 

The weather had changed on Sunday turning colder at 7 degrees on both Sunday and Monday; it also rained for most of the day on Sunday with the sun making an appearance after 4 pm. We had moved to British Summer Time so I was somewhat confused when I went to collect grandson from his house to take him to yet more basket ball practice; as I thought I was an hour too early! For some reason, despite my car having several fancy doodahs; the time still has to be adjusted manually...

The rain and cold continued on Tuesday. I went to the food bank and spent the morning unpacking deliveries and sorting out the toiletries and cleaning products. My boots and tank top were bought online; the tank top with the some of my birthday money. I  bought some M&S knickers with the remainder of the money. They last for years. When I was student nurse between 1972 and 1976; most of the people I trained with were from Malaysia or Mauritius with a few coming from the Caribbean and West Africa. Everyone who went back home on holiday bought M&S underwear to take back to their families and large blocks of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. Anyway, I digress. The shirt was from Etam and picked up in the Sally Army in Rushden last week, The skirt was from Barnardo's. All jewellery charity shopped.

As I'd be in Ireland on Sunday I went swimming in the afternoon and swam 45 laps. I also learned something new; hoop earrings don't come off in the water or at least mine didn't!

That's all for now folks. We don't have WiFi at the mobile home in Ireland so I'll be missing in action for a fortnight but hope to post as usual on 18th April.  I probably won't get to read and comment on your blogs for that fortnight, but will catch up when I get back. Grandson is house sitting and feeding the birds and watering the plants 'but all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things will be well'.

See you on the other side!


  1. Have a lovely time in Ireland. I so enjoy your blog.

  2. you have the matching skirt to my C&A bucket bag - yellow snakeprint :-D
    speaking of - you´r the queen of animal print - love this outfits! and the maxy skirts - especially the one with the huge gingham.....
    i did enjoy the photo tour of the carriage museum and the bedfordshire countryside views. and how lovely to have such a friendly bunch for walking aktivities.
    cute birthday cake for the mum - 99!! wow!
    have a wonderful time in ireland! xxxxx

    1. Thank you, Beate! I do like a bit of animal print...the walking groups are all very friendly and that's half the fun; having a good old natter while while you walk.

  3. That skirt matches my yellow snakeprint C&A bag as well, although mine is different from Beate's :-)
    As always, I am loving your parade of outfits, but if I've got to pick a favourite, then I'm going for the final one.
    The wicker cutlery tray repurposed for holding make-up is fantastic.
    Your "unofficial Friday bus walk" sounds delightful, especially with the visit to the carriage museum, not to forget the walnut and coffee cake thrown in.
    Happy 90th birthday to OH's Mum!
    Have a brilliant time in Ireland! xxx

    1. Thank you, Ann.

      The wicker cutlery tray was one of those light bulb moments; I wish I had more of them!

  4. Love the walk photos, particularly the vintage cars and carriages. And the 2 hearse! I'm glad you identified the blossom in the top pic, I see it all the time in the forest but didn't know what it was.
    Love the pattern mixing with the Etam shirt and check skirt.
    Will take a look at The Blood Pact xx

    1. Thank you, Gail..Lookout for sloes on the blackthorn trees around Sep/Oct. xx

  5. Quiz team? Double Trouble!
    Happy Birthday to Oh's Mum, 99 years old! What an achievement!
    Love that photo of you and your walking group and delighted that you walk in good clothes and not quilted anoraks and Gore-tex, perish the thought!
    Your afternoon tea looked lovely. Most Asian supermarkets sell masala chai blends - I've seen it in Mozzas and Asda as well (never call it chai tea - chai is Hindi for "tea" so you'd be asking for tea tea!)
    Those fabulously painted trucks are a sight to behold in India, I've tried suggesting that Jon does a similar paint job on Gilbert, you can imagine the reaction!
    Great repurposing job on the wicker basket.
    Fab outfits as ever, the tie-dye maxi with the red striped top and cardi is my fave, love you in red!
    Have a wonderful time in Ireland, hope Spring arrives when you're there and you won't need a brolly or a snowsuit! xxxx

    1. Thank you, Vix. Double Trouble is an excellent name - I'll see what Ann thinks...

      I always get comments on the walks because I don't wear the traditional walking gear but I do wear the appropriate foot wear and water proof coats/jackets. I think it's mainly because I always wear make up; including lippie and most of the female walkers don't!

      I'm praying for dry weather in Donegal...

  6. Love your outfits, as always, Vronni - that suede coat makes me drool! I also love the red/black full skirt. I so loved seeing all the countryside pics, churchyard, thatched cottages, the rolling hills...I could go on! Great to see your ramblers all together - like you, I'm always fully made-up and sometimes get looks when I'm dressed up and walking in a muddy park!

    Happy birthdays to grandson and Mum! Chai is widely available here in a multitude of spice mixes - we have a huge Indian population.

    Have a blast in Ireland and enjoy your break!

    1. Thank you, Sheila! I need to go on a supermarket search for Chai. Aldi had no tea whatsoever on Wednesday!

  7. Well, considering all your walking, swimming, volunteering, and more, it's not surprising you had a 3 hour siesta! So many great places, my favourites being the thatched house with the ducks on the roof, the the birds on the mudflats, and the glorious Crossness pumping station. Nothing minimalist about those Victorians! Especially loving your red/pink outfit and the one at the end. I hope you have a fantastic time in Ireland and that the weather is good to you.

    1. Thank you, Erika. No , minimalism is not the word that springs to mind when I think of the Victorians!

  8. Just had an epic catch up of your last 2 months of posts and thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm so glad you have dived into Elly Griffiths as you know I am a fan. Have a wonderful time in Ireland I hope you get some lovely spring weather. xx

    1. Thank you, Gisela. I'm after 'The Outcast Dead' in the Ruth Galloway series to read next. I found one of hers from the same series in a charity shop in Ireland, too. We had a lovely time while we there and about 2 days of spring weather!

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  10. Oh, so many more gorgeous buildings. You see such great places on your walks; thank you for sharing them. That pumping station really is a work of art. And I loved the shots of the carriage museum; we admired painted lorries in India but I had no idea the paintings had so much meaning. In Burma there's a proverb about not driving Vauxhall cars, but my Burmese-heritage friends are at a loss as to why those cars in particular...


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