Hello and yet another fortnight gone by - again!
I just want to thank you all for visiting and supporting my blog over the past almost 7 years! And just a reminder - don't be afraid to comment; comments are very special and truly appreciated. Also, if you visit regularly; please do follow me. It's nice to see you have followers and even better when they comment...
Of course as soon as I had put my winter clothes away the weather became became very chilly; it started at the weekend and continued almost all the way throughout the last week of April. I wore this outfit on Wednesday. I didn't walk with the group as I had to take middle grandson's mum to hospital in Northampton at 7.30 in the morning. She had been self isolating to avoid catching Covid - hence middle grandson's stay - as she was undergoing day surgery. I'm pleased to report she made a good recovery and was home that afternoon. I went to Aldi in the afternoon to pick up the weekly bits I always buy from Aldi and from there collected youngest grandson from school. I made dinner for us all and took both grandsons home in the evening.
Everything charity shopped except the shoes which were bought from Primarni for half price about 3 years ago. Trousers by M&S; knitted top (I needed it!) by Papaya via 1.00 rail; striped tee; also Primarni via charity shop. All jewellery charity shopped.
And talking about Donegal, I forgot to tell you in my last post that we were included in the Irish census of 2022! We arrived on 2nd April which was the census date. I emailed the Irish census office to ask for a form which was duly delivered by a lovely lady and then collected later by her. Just think, in 100 years time my descendants might see our details; they might wonder how we came to be there! There was no indication on the census form to state you were staying in a holiday home or on holiday. However, there was a 'time capsule' section included on the form; where you could write something for people to see in the future. I wrote about my links to Ireland through my parents and holidaying there as a child and my continued visits over the years; especially since my retirement.
I continued to ignore the weather and dressed accordingly pretending it was warm. Thursday was very chilly and grey although it both warmed up slightly and brightened up in the afternoon. I went for a swim in the morning and swam a mile. When I was ready; dressed in the Tu trousers above (old retail sale and faux clogs also by Tu; retail) unlabelled white tee and denim shirt by H&M; both charity shopped; as was all jewellery; I did the usual Thursday visit to the farm shop and to Lidl for the weekly shopping. I bought some petunias and stocks at the farm shop whilst I was there. Their plants always seem to do well in our garden; the wall flowers I bought there are in their second year as are the sweet williams. I also had to go into town after the shopping expedition as I'd agreed to collect part of the youngest grandson's summer uniform from the school shop. Whilst I was in town I had a look in the 3:16 charity shop which I hadn't looked in for ages. They had a half price sale on. I found a Lipsy blouse reduced to 1.50; an embroidered bag for 1.50 as well as a coral necklace for 75 pence.
The previous day I had gone to Rushden in the morning to look in 2 charity shops and got lucky in both. The first charity shop was called 'The Swivel Club' and always seems to have a lots of Aldi donated items; including some foodstuffs. I bought 3 packets of chestnuts for 1.00 which I shared with my daughter. I also bought a BNWT Masai dress/tunic for 6.00 in there. In the Salvation Army shop I found a green suede jacket and a Seasalt dress and on the 1.00 rail; a cotton walking top for the summer. In my previous post I said I was going to stop buying secondhand clothes for 3 months and just shop my wardrobe. I am, but wouldn't start until the 1st of May and the three months would take me up to August when I most likely would be back in Ireland.
It will be a huge challenge for me as I will have to stop visiting charity shops to avoid buying more clothes which I don't need. It will force me to be more creative with what I have. Another idea I had, was to weed out the lower end clothing and build a more sustainable wardrobe with the better quality and ethically produced clothing and vintage items I have. That should reduce my wardrobe considerably! The biggest temptation of all is the fact I volunteer in a charity shop and rarely leave empty handed. I do have very strong will power though and am determined to cut down the amount of clothes I have. I am also stopping buying books as I need to read the books I already have in my collection. Otherwise I'll be dead before I get through them all! I shall of course keep you updated on both fronts ...
The reason for setting a date for the 'no-buy challenge' for May 1st was that I had planned to visit my ex-sister-in-law in Birmingham on Friday where I knew we'd go for a rummage. And on the last day of April, Saturday, I had planned to visit my aunt in Burton-on-Trent which wasn't too far from Birmingham; where I may or may not have time for a rummage.
I wore this to Birmingham. The skirt was from QD bought at a charity shop price; shirt by H&M charity shopped; jacket from 1.00 rail and Vans pumps; also charity shopped. All jewellery charity shopped. It was lovely to see Dawn again and we had lots to catch up on. We went for a rummage to Acocks Green and visited about 5 charity shops; where I found a pair of cropped trousers and a huge cake tin that I'd use as a planter in the garden. Dawn found a dress and a lovely loose shirt. We went out for an Indian meal in the evening and I spent the night in the guest room of the sheltered accommodation where Dawn lives. After having breakfast made for me - such a luxury - I said goodbye to Dawn and drove to Burton to see my aunt where we had a lovely visit. I went out for a meal with her and her granddaughter; after which I drove home. Once again I forgot to take photos but the visit was really about spending time with my aunt who has a terminal illness. When I got home my pewter teapot and sugar bowl had finally arrived....(I bought the jug in a charity shop in Newport Pagnell).
Both Friday and Saturday were warm and sunny at 16 degrees. Sunday, however, started off like that but changed by about 11 am to cloud and much cooler temperatures. I went swimming but got out after 50 minutes as OH and I were going to the first car boot sale of the year and I didn't want to get there too late. I swam 40 lengths in total and that was good enough. At the car boot sale there wasn't much - it was a very small one - but I did buy a candle; a book I've been wanting to read for a while; a wooden crate to use as a planter and a seller gave me some glass hyacinth containers for starting off hyacinth bulbs. I'd saved the hyacinths bulbs that I'd previously planted and put them in a paper bag in the cupboard under the stairs. We saved the housecleaning for Monday as it was a UK bank holiday. I cooked dinner and everyone came; youngest grandson not well; sore throat, high temperature etc but tested negative for Covid. My daughter made a lovely vegan dish for us and I had enough leftover for tomorrow's dinner - always a bonus. I spent some time in the evening going through my summer and light weight clothes seeing if I could get rid of anything and making up outfits for the forthcoming week.
There was no charity shop temptation on Monday as Barnardo's was closed; again due to staff shortages. I wore this dress by Venga; bought, I think, in a Co. Derry charity shop. It felt a bit too short for comfort and I'll wear it over trousers or jeans next time. Red tights by Snag; shoes charity shopped and all jewellery charity shopped except earrings; made by a local crafts person in Co. Donegal.
I pottered around in the morning tidying up the garden and deadheading and weeding the pots. It was warm and sunny but clouded over at times. I'd planted anemones from seed last year and they seeded but when I potted them on nothing happened. But what is this in my fern pot? A few days later - there was a second one!
I wondered if some of the seeds had fallen into this pot whilst I was potting the seeds up? Anyway, at least I grew two anemones from seed! I walked into to town to run a couple of errands and then went to Aldi to see if they had plants left. I seemed to have fewer geraniums than I had last year and wanted to replace some. Aldi didn't have geraniums but they had busy lizzies, petunias and small begonias so I bought a tray of each. Then OH and I got on with the house cleaning and I caught up with blog land. I also made an oat based (breakfast or dessert) dish I saw on IG. Very simple to make and it tasted delicious. I love porridge but sometimes can't be bothered to make it and I hate cleaning out the porridge pot. This dish required 2 mashed bananas in a greased oven-proof dish; covered with oats, then covered with milk (I used oat milk). Chia seeds; frozen berries and desiccated coconut also added to the mix. I didn't have desiccated coconut so used coconut sugar instead; it was baked in the oven for 25 mins and will be eaten with yogurt and maybe a bit of honey. That's breakfast sorted for the next two days...
Back to the food bank on Tuesday where we were 2 people down. I made up food packs. It's good to have a change and it prevents me forgetting what goes into the food packs. I wore this outfit. Trousers by Jasper Conran; shirt by Lipsy; tee shirt underneath by M&S; long jacket picked up on a 1.00 rail some years back; all charity shopped. Pumps bought in Sainsbury's half price sale. All jewellery charity shopped.
I tried to book a swimming session for Thursday morning as usual; on Friday evening when I was in Birmingham but all the places had gone. I'd booked for Tuesday afternoon instead and went swimming after the food bank managing 46 laps - just under a mile. I'd hung out washing earlier and took it in to air and then cooked dinner. I spent some time making up more outfits to wear over the next few days; the weather looked a little unsettled but should have warmed up by the end of the week. I'm adding jackets and extra layers when it's cooler but hadn't needed either sweaters or cardigans so far...
On Wednesday, I walked with my group starting from Radwell Meadows Country Park near Baldock, Herts. From there we walked to Bygrave and back into Radwell Meadows; 7.8 miles in total. A lovely walk. One of the women I walked with was setting off next week to walk the Camino de Santiago next week; all 500 km of it! There were a few short showers on the walk but it rained more heavily later in the afternoon. I stopped at Aldi on the way back and picked up the youngest grandson who had recovered from his illness and was back at school. Made dinner for both grandsons and took the youngest home; middle grandson had brought his electric scooter...
No swimming on Thursday but went the farm shop; did the weekly food shopping at Lidl and went to B&M for bird supplies. I went into the Daycare Hospice shop near to B&M and had a look round. I just couldn't resist and it's one of my favourites. In there I bought myself a 'new to me' washing basket; it has two catches on each side which releases legs...it's a washing basket on legs. Who knew such a thing existed? No clothes were even looked at - too much temptation! This was Thursday's outfit; everything charity shopped. Linen trousers by Pomodoro; top and jacket by M&S; pumps by BWM. All jewellery charity shopped too.
Thursday was a lovely day warm and sunny and Friday turned out the same. I was very glad of that on Friday as my brother Tony and I went out for the day. We had planned to visit Canons Ashby; a National Trust property near Daventry. We set off but there was horrendous traffic on the motorway and headed back to Bedfordshire where we went to Wrest Park instead. I've lived in Bedfordshire for 41 years and had never visited Wrest Park which is about 10 miles from Bedford and is an English Heritage property which meant I couldn't use my National Trust pass...
This was what I wore; everything charity shopped except the white pumps from Primarni. Trousers by Wallis, label less top and jacket by BHS. All jewellery charity shopped.
Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire. SOURCE
'Dazzling parterres, fragrant borders and formal woodland fan out from the French style mansion of Thomas De Grey whose family lived on the estate for 600 years' (from the free brochure). The grounds were full of surprises such as a Chinese Temple, a bathhouse with a thatched roof, an Orangery, a pavilion, a Bowling Green House and over 40 statues. Some of the woodland gardens were design ed by Capability brown and a column was erected in thanks to to him. There wasn't much to see in the house; only the library, the Countess' sitting room and conservatory were open to the public. The grounds were magnificent and to both our delight we saw a muntjac deer wander across our path. On the drive home we saw two further muntjac deer at the roadside. Tony had never seen one before so to see three in one day was a bit special...
This long path or walk above led down to a long pool ending with the 'Archer Pavilion'. Used for guests staying and for taking tea it had kitchens below ground level. Inside the Pavilion there were painted columns and decoration everywhere but it was too dark for photos.
View from the side and part of the Cedar of Lebanon tree.
This magnificent Cedar of Lebanon was fenced off as it had a badger set under and around it. One can only guess at the age of the tree.
More Wisteria envy...
Fireplace in the Orangery
Mermaids with a tail and a leg? I loved this statue. Most classical statues bore me but this was intriguing.
Detail of Library ceiling.
I should have taken more photos but there was so much to see and take in. I'd like to go back in the summer when more of the plants and flowers will be out. There wasn't a single rose in the rose garden! When we decided we had seen enough but by no means everything; we then drove to a nearby village and had a meal. After stopping off at home for a cup of tea and for brother to have a catch up with OH; I drove him back to Kettering.
I hadn't made any plans for Saturday except for the evening. I thought I might walk with the Saturday group whose walks start at 1.30 pm and give one a chance to do things before setting out...I got up and did some ironing of outfits and my summer dressing gowns. I washed all the cushion covers in the living room and hung them out to dry. After breakfast and getting ready I walked into to town to Superdrug, Poundland and Tesco where I had errands to run. Although I didn't need any (I managed to buy a bottle in Morrison's in Birmingham last week); I checked out a range of places for cooking oil and most had none; or what they had left was at grossly inflated prices. (Updated to say OH went to the big Tesco and found another bottle). Saturday had started out damp and cloudy but by midday the sun had come out. I vacuumed my bedroom curtains; the sun had drawn my attention to the dust in the gathers and hung out another wash; before settling down to sit and enjoy the garden for a while whilst I wrote my blog and read. I had earrings to make and crochet to do but neither appealed nor did walking with the group in the end. Sometimes you just want to do very little... I ironed all the cushion covers and replaced them. OH was cooking dinner (2 days without cooking dinner - yay!) and in the evening I went out with my daughter to watch this at the cinema:
Downton Abbey (Movie No 2)!
Saturday's outfit; all charity shopped. Shoes from a Co. Donegal charity shop; tunic/shirt by FabIndia, linen trousers by Next; top by Dorothy Perkins. All jewellery also charity shopped. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie - all stuff and nonsense but the costumes and jewellery were to die for.
Sequins on a Sunday!
Everything charity shopped. Skirt by Celine, top by Next; jacket by M&S and Vans pumps bought a few weeks back where I also found a pair of Converse pumps in the same shop....all jewellery charity shopped.
Sunday was a gorgeous day although cloud had been forecast for most of the day. Instead we had sunshine and later in the afternoon the car recorded the outside temperature at 22 degrees! I had to remove my jacket as it felt very warm. I went for the usual Sunday morning swim and swam 48 laps/1 miles. There were very few people in the pool, surprisingly. After having breakfast and getting ready I sat in the garden for a while and read my new book. Then OH and I set off for 'Pells' a local farm shop and plant nursery where we bought some plants. Quite a lot of plants. Our selection included: Nicotiana; Mixed Asters; more Sweet Peas; a Coreopsis; 2 Oxalis; a yellow Osteospermum; Calibrachoa x 3; and a Trailing Sanvitalia to accompany the trailing geranium in one of the flower baskets. OH planted the Calibrachoa in the baking tin I bought from the charity shop in Birmingham. He had also brought home some French Marigolds in the week rescued from the reduced shelf in B&M; after dinner he potted those up as well as all the rest of the plants we bought. We did the weekly housecleaning and I made a 'cold' dinner - Lemon pesto chicken; potato salad and beetroot. The chicken dish was a Mary Berry recipe and very simple; using chicken breast, mayo, pesto, lemon juice, avocado, tomatoes and cucumber. Then I chilled out in the evening with my book...
It was nice to get back to Barnardo's in Great Denham on Monday. I worked with our newest member of staff who is very young; very sweet and a hard worker. There were a lot of donations and we spent most of the morning processing them. Someone donated a big bag of new and hardly worn tiny baby stuff; I sorted it into threes putting three baby sleep suits or three vests into small plastic bags. They are more likely to sell that way than putting them individually into a box or basket on the shop floor. It was time consuming so I do hope they sell! I bought my grandson a shirt but nothing for me; I was very proud of myself. It was tempting though, all the women's dresses were half price...
This was Monday's outfit. Trousers bought in a Birmingham charity shop; top by Laura Ashley 1.00 rail somewhere; Seasalt clogs bought in a Devon charity shop. Jacket by M&S; bought from Vinted (second hand on line selling site) during lock down. All jewellery charity shopped.
Our garden is beginning to blossom in all directions and has thrown up a few surprises:
Wallflowers, sinetti; geraniums; stocks; pansies;lavender; french marigolds; petunias; bergenia; thunbergia; gladioli; salvia and an almost there lupin...
At the front; pansies, petunia; geranium; Mexican orange (this popped up out of nowhere - there's a huge bush/tree growing over the wall of the sheltered accommodation opposite us and I can only assume it self seeded from there; I didn't buy it nor did OH! It smells lovely, too). Cyclamen (has bloomed since December) and begonia. I think the tall plant to the left is a sunflower; I thought it was going to be a foxglove but it appears not...it's from a seed dropped from the bird feeders, I think.
In the pallet planter a lovely array of viola and pansies. It's taken about a month for them to bloom like this and I hope they last. They have such pretty little faces.
I went to the food bank on Tuesday morning and was back to making up family hygiene packs. From there I took my car for a much needed wash to the car wash. Lighter by £20.00 (!) I came home to catch up with blog land, write my own blog and continued with my book until it was time to cook dinner. It's been years since I read any Joyce Carol Oates books and I am really enjoying this one. She's not an author I see very often in the charity shops either even though she's very prolific; if I want to read more of hers (I've read quite a few over the years) I'll have to borrow some from the library. I haven't been to the library for a while and might just go and have a mosey round this week
Everything charity shopped. Pumps by Converse; jeans by Next; striped tee by Jaeger and shirt (bought for grandson but he didn't like it) by River Island. All jewellery charity shopped. Comfortable and practical wear for the food bank. For once I also remembered to put on my green food bank tabard; it helps to keep my clothes clean from dusty crates and leaked liquids. I keep the tabard in the car and forget to take it out to wear. As I do with my walking poles which live in the umbrella stand behind the front door
. As I'm typing this now I shall go and retrieve the walking poles from the umbrella stand and put them in my car; that way I'll always have them when I go walking with the group. See you in a fortnight!