Celebrate Archie’s Birthday

Archie was 15 – I am told that is 105 in dog years.

Archie - 15 today!

Archie – 15 today!

He got six cards – not bad for a dog.

Five of the six cards - one was a day late.

Five of the six cards – one was a day late.

He also got lots of presents – mostly treats of various sorts……..

Testing one of my presents.

Testing one of the presents.

The one from his “cousins” Phoebe and Rollo (spaniels) was a voucher and with that he got a new collar, a portable water bottle and dish for hot weather – and more treats!

With "mummy", Sophie and cards

With “mummy”, Sophie and cards

Did he have a good time?  Don’t ask me – he is a dog!


Choir changes.

The last six months have seen big changes at choir.  I suppose it really started before that – after Easter last year -when the venue moved from a place to which I could walk, to a hall about a 15 minute drive away.  This is also a bit cold and bare and not as pleasant as the previous one.  We moved as the first place was getting too small for the numbers.  My major problem was that instead of a 10 minute stroll to the charity shop where I work in the afternoon, there was the drive back and then a 20 minute walk to the shop.  Not very convenient, really…..

Then we were supposed to be learning the community version of the Messiah that Fiona had produced, ready for Christmas, but we did not seem to have enough time to learn it and I just was not getting it at all.  I decided I really wasn’t enjoying the choir, so I decided to give it up, at least until after Christmas and the Messiah was over.

On the day that I had decided was to be my last one, Fiona didn’t come and we were given a message when we arrived, that she had been rushed into hospital.  We heard later that she has serious heart problems.  I gathered that the next few weeks her husband took some rehearsals and then that the Messiah was cancelled.  The choir continued, with her husband leading or with someone else standing in and with Fiona doing one or two – or so I gathered.  By Christmas, Fiona had decided she would have to give up the choirs, but she had found someone else to run them.

I heard that the new woman, Kate, leading the choir was good and was given her e-mail address, so e-mailed in the new year and was told it was fine to re-join.  In fact it took me several weeks before I actually got there because of weather or others not going.  When I did go, lots of people said they were pleased to see me, which was nice.  It took me several weeks to catch up with what was going on.

Kate is very different from Fiona, but fun in a different way.  She expects us to sing the right notes (!! not sure Fiona ever cared!) and seems to think we can read music a lot better than many of us can.  She never tells jokes (probably a good thing – some of Fiona’s were pretty crude) and expects us to stick to the rests, come off notes at the right time and put expression and meaning into the words and even to smile!  She is also talking about doing some choreography!  She works us quite hard each week.  It does mean, though, that we – well, I – have a much better idea of what we are doing than we/I did before.  Her latest trick is to get us to sing some of the songs without the words/music – that is really pushing it, especially in the altos as we are few in number and half of us haven’t a clue!

So am I enjoying it?  Not really sure – think I feel clearer about what I should be doing – even if I am failing to do it.  And I have continued to go – not totally because I give someone else a lift.

Celebrate a Birthday!

Celebrating my birthday?  Not what that I normally do, but as I was 21 (x3!) this year, I thought that for a change I would do something.  I am not that keen on parties and my house is too small for one anyway so I had a different idea and sent out these invitations.


To celebrate being 21 (x3!)

I am holding an “At Home”

on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st January

between 2.30 and 5.30 pm.

You are invited to call in for

as long or as short a time as you wish and

have a cup of tea/coffee and cake/biscuits

on either day, between these times.

(NO presents please and no need to RSVP.

I would love to see you, but understand

if you can’t make it.)


These went by email to all my University friends, all my family and a couple of people in Surrey (from where I moved 3 years or so ago).  Then I handed out paper copies to a carefully selected set of local people.  I have to admit that I didn’t see a couple of people, so they didn’t get the invitations!

The trouble with this was that everyone then knew when my birthday was!  This meant that I had more “celebration” than I expected.  The first was a meal out with 3 friends in a local pub, where they treated me to lunch.  Good meal, good company – and I didn’t have to cook or wash up.

The second, was at the coffee shop/community centre, on the day before my birthday as that was when I volunteer there.  I was given flowers and also a cake – with a firework on top instead of a candle!  That was a bit scary, but it went out before I had to cut the cake and I didn’t have to blow it out.  We cut up the cake and shared it out and it didn’t last long.  Good cake though and it was great to celebrate with people there.

For the “At Home” I had ordered  cakes, from the lady who makes them for the coffee shop.  I chose lemon drizzle cake (because I really like it) and ginger and pear (because it is more unusual).  I also made some chocolate peppermint slices and some shortbread.  There was a large tin of biscuits in reserve, as I had no idea how many people would come or how much they would eat.

On the days of the “At Home”, I also had to clean the house – well, dust and hoover and other basics anyway – and then in the afternoon it was just a matter of waiting to see who would come.  A few people had said they would definitely come, and on which day, and a few others had said they couldn’t make it, but generally it was part of the fun to see who would arrive and when.  In fact the two days turned out completely differently.

On the Friday, almost everyone arrived at about the same time and we all sat down and had drinks and cake and a good chat.  Everyone was local so almost everyone knew each other.  People mostly left at about the same time, too.  There was one exception who arrived when most people were leaving – but that was what I had been expecting – people arriving at different times.  A very enjoyable afternoon.

I think I am going to have to teach some of my friends to read though.  As well as flowers and chocolates there were some other “no presents please”!

Some of my "no presents please"!

Some of my “no presents please”!

On the Saturday, it was totally different, partly because it was mostly for people who work on Fridays, so have less time.  The first to arrive was one of the people from Surrey – which was a lovely surprise and gave me a bit of a chance to catch up on the gossip from there.  My sister and brother-in-law arrived next and my niece and great-niece and -nephew after that.  The last 2 created more noise and they definitely wanted cake – but were a bit suspicious of the ones I had, except the shortbread.  After that people started coming and going – some staying for quite a long time and some just dropping in briefly.  Both were great and was what I had been expecting.  Only one person came twice – I think she liked the cake!  (Actually, she had said she was coming on the Friday, but came again on the Saturday with her husband.)  None of my university friends came – but I didn’t really expect them to.

The last to arrive and only there for a short time, was a friend from school!  She actually lives locally and we had lost contact years ago, but met up again when I was originally in T.  I then taught her daughter and since I came back here we keep meeting up as we are walking to or from our homes which are quite close.  She had phoned to say that she was coming but would be quite late.  The last to leave were my sister and family and that was after a discussion about where they could eat on the way home.

Some of the flowers I was given.

Some of the flowers I was given.

The last celebration was at the charity shop where I work and was the next week.  They gave me a card and cake – with a candle to blow out – which we shared.  That made 4 cakes – not bad, hey?

About a week later I got the card my nephew had posted without a stamp (due to sleep deprivation, he said, on the other card he sent WITH a stamp) and a few days after that the people at the coffee shop gave me a card too.  It had been “hidden” so I didn’t see it when it was being passed round for people to sign and wasn’t found for a couple of weeks!  The  interesting thing was, that with those 2,  I got 21 birthday cards – how appropriate!

Some of the 21 cards I received.

Some of the 21 cards I received.

So would I celebrate my birthday that way again?  Maybe – I really did enjoy it, but all the cleaning and organisation…….  So maybe in a few years?

Taking dogs for walks

I don’t have a dog of my own – I am out too much and they have to be walked (at least once) every day so are too much of a tie.  The dog in my brother’s family, Sasha, is also extremely badly behaved – out of the house, even though she is lovely inside.  She barks at all people and all other dogs – a rescue dog, so we blame the previous owners!  I do like dogs, though, so walking other people’s well behaved dogs is fun.

Hector belongs to one friend and is quite young and energetic.

Hector showing how handsome he is

Hector showing how handsome he is

I go with my friend when we walk him.

Come on - aren't you ready to go YET?

Come on – aren’t you ready to go YET?

When we get away from the roads he comes off the lead and goes off to investigate all sorts of exciting smells and rabbits and ……?  He comes back every so often to check his mistress is still there (and get a treat from her pocket!) and when he is whistled for.  The latter sometimes takes two goes – did she really mean it? He is really well behaved though.

Look, I sit when I am told!

Look, I sit when I am told!

He has to have two long walks a day, but walks much further than us, running backwards and forwards.  Good thing – we would never keep up with the exercise he needs.  He is fit, though.

I like walks - they keep me nice and fit.

I like walks – they keep me nice and fit.

The places we go with Hector are lovely – great views over the city and of the Cathedral and all within walking distance of the city.

The other dog I walk is Archie, who is elderly, nearly 15, had a stroke about 17 months ago and is extremely well behaved but quite slow when on walks – unless he has detected a female dog in season!

Are you going to take me for that walk or not?

Are you going to take me for that walk or not?

He could be left off the lead all the time, but I always keep him on it when we are near roads because he is not my dog and very special.  He doesn’t always come when he is called (but part of that is deafness) but he does always follow if I change direction.  Well, he knows that I have the treats in my pocket!

Did you call me?

Did you call me?

In the summer and autumn he loved to go in the river – wading not swimming.

I love the river!

I love the river!

That is partly because he has a very thick coat and gets hot so the river cools him down and also he can get a drink.  He “bites” the water, not laps it when he is in the river, although he laps normally from his dish at home.

Getting a drink

Getting a drink

Recently he has not been able to go very far and as a result of his previous stroke his back legs have been giving way so he finds himself sitting down – when he looks surprised and a bit sheepish.  He scrambles up and keeps going, though.  He has been starting to look as if it is “Oh, not again” and his owner said it took him ages to get up the other day.  We hope it is just the weather but sadly he is quite old.

He still loves to go out, though and likes to investigate every smell – sometimes for a very long time!

Interesting smell.

Interesting smell………

He then has to leave his own mark to show he was there.  It is a pity he cannot always manage the three legged posture and has to behave like a female!

I think my favourite bit is when I arrive and he gets very excited because he knows I am taking him for a walk.  He would jump up at me if he could now do that, but as it is he looks as if he is dancing!

I love my walks.

I love my walks!

So is dog walking fun?  Yes, most of the time, but less so when it is raining or very cold!  I still wouldn’t have a dog, though – as well as being too much of a tie they do make a lot of mess in a house.  They not only leave a lot of hair around but also have a tendency to bring a lot of mud in.

Meet up with university friends

This year we met up in Kings Lynn.  I left on the Thursday and went to stay with one friend at her new house in Hitchin.  Very nice it is too, even if there are rather a lot of stairs!  We had an excellent meal out in the town in the evening.

Friday morning we had a wander round the town, so I had a better idea of it and then had lunch and after that we were picked up by another friend who was taking us up to Kings Lynn.  We went to look at “his” charity shop first – the people there say they have only seen him working there once!  Then to his house and had a cup of tea.  His wife came back from work and only had time for a very quick cup of tea and to finish her packing before we set off.

The road up was quite busy and finding the hotel and the way in was not that easy either.  The sat nav seemed to take us to the back…..  We found our rooms and then made our way to the pub where others had gathered for an evening meal.  We moved a table and weren’t the last to arrive.  Food, drink and lots of chat and noise followed…..

The following morning we had a guided walk round Kings Lynn given by a friend of the people who organised the weekend.

Listening to our guide.

Listening to our guide.

I was so busy taking photos that I missed the introduction (and various other bits) so the history didn’t make much sense to me – whoops!

King John's sword?

King John’s sword?

I picked up that this was supposed to be King John’s sword, but couldn’t have been because of the dating and I did like some of the wonderful old buildings, quite a few of which were merchants’ houses.  I think they were profits from exporting wool and corn from the port – if I remember rightly?  The town was also part of the Hanseatic League in mediaeval times.

Lovely stonework patterns - pity about the roadworks.

Lovely stonework patterns – pity about the roadworks.

I also liked……

.....the "clock" that shows phases of the moon.....

…..the “clock” that shows phases of the moon…..

….and the high tides.  Clever!

We didn’t block the roads all the time we were listening.

Listening and blocking the road.

Listening and blocking the road.

I did quite like the idea that a salesman is supposed to have suggested that……

......this door be replaced with UPVC.

……this door be replaced with UPVC.

And I thought this………

......was somewhere else.

……was somewhere else.

We came out near the river at one point.

River Ouse.

River Ouse – Norfolk is flat!

We looked at several courtyards with old buildings round them and finished up at…..

......the customs house.

……the customs house.

After that we split into groups/pairs/whatever, depending on what we wanted to do.  Four of us decided to take the Coast Hopper bus to Hunstanton – 3 of us having bus passes!  When we got there we took the land-train to the lighthouse at Old Hunstanton – mostly because it was due to arrive at about the time we got there.  We then walked back along the beach.

On the beach at Hunstanton.

On the beach at Hunstanton.

The cliffs are interesting with the layers of colours.

Cliffs at Hunstanton.

Cliffs at Hunstanton.

They were presumably laid down in different ages and are limestone/chalk type, but I have never done any geology.

Looking out to sea, in the distance was…….

.....a large wind farm.

…..a large wind farm…..

…..which would probably not be visible if the day had not been clear.  Looking at the picture, I wonder if it was actually on land at the other side of the Wash rather than at sea?  When we got back to the main town we found one café open and it could provide all of us with what we wanted – different for each of us!  Then it was back to Kings Lynn by the bus and time to get ready for the evening meal.

Some people dressed up really smartly – unlike the usual jeans and T-shirt.

Dressed up smart - even a tie!!!!!

Dressed up smart – even a tie!!!!!

We had to walk to the restaurant, which was beside the river.  The sun was just about setting as we got there……

Sun setting over the River Ouse

Sun setting over the River Ouse

The meal was very pleasant – with lots of the usual chat.  I was so busy eating and talking that I forgot to take the photos until we were about to leave!

After the meal and ready to leave

After the meal and ready to leave

From there some of us went back to the Customs House where there was a light show depicting the history of Kings Lynn.  Some of it was hard (impossible?) to interpret but other parts were more obvious, like……

.......the map of the Hanseatic League.

…….the map of the Hanseatic League.  (No, I wasn’t drunk – just not good at getting photos straight!)

Then it was back to the hotel.

Next day, after breakfast, we checked out and then went on to do different things – some going straight home, but quite a few of us going on to the grounds of the Sandringham Estate.  My friend and I were getting a lift back with different people and that is where we went.  We had coffee there and some of us had a wander round and then had lunch – meeting up with various of the others for that. Some of them had looked round the house, or what they were allowed to see, but the general consensus was that it wasn’t really worth the money – the grounds are free!  We had managed to grab a table, which was good as it was busy as it was another wonderful warm, sunny day.

Meeting at Sandringham

Meeting at Sandringham

After lunch it was back to Hitchin, to show the people who gave us a lift the house.  After they left we had the evening there and the the next day it was home for me.

So – a good weekend?  Yes, I would say so!  I think I managed to get an answer from everyone to my question of the year – “What have you done that is new this year?”  Apart from the moved house (x3) and the arranging weddings and the new grandchild there were some interesting answers – even if I wouldn’t want to repeat all of them here – Hugh!



Go on a slug hunt

The slugs (and snails) have decimated my garden this year.  They ate 3 of the 6 plants I bought for my new rockery,

Remains of sedum on rockery.

Remains of sedum on rockery.

the flowers and then the leaves from the red and white dahlia I bought, most of my salad leaves, some of my radishes, the tops of all my carrots (actual carrot, not just the leaves)

Slug damage on carrot.

Slug damage on carrot.

and even the chives that came up.  Slug pellets seem to have had no effect at all, so I have started a war.

Whenever I see a snail it gets squashed or stamped on and slugs get cut in half or squashed.  This has not had much effect, so when it has rained I now go on a slug hunt.


Weapons (the knife is kept just for slug killing).

If they are crawling across the path they are……

......easy to see.......

……easy to see…….

.......and easy to attack......

…….and easy to attack……

.......so they are cut in half.....

…….so they are cut in half…..

……and moved to somewhere that is not the middle of the path.

If they are on the soil they are……

.......harder to detect......

…….harder to detect……

......but suffer the same fate.

……but suffer the same fate…..

…….joining previous victims.  They don’t actually stay there long.  I  have seen other slugs crawling on them (are they cannibals?) and if it is not the slugs it is the ants who tidy them up.

Small slugs are harder to see, but easier to squash, as are the very small snails.  I rather think the snails have been breeding……  Last winter was too warm and damp and didn’t kill enough off and I probably needed to clear up more leaves so there were less hiding places.  I am going to have to hunt harder – the edges of the lawns seem to be one place the slugs go and the leaves of the shrubs harbour snails. I need to reduce the population more.

So am I winning?  From the number I find when I am not even on a proper hunt, then I suspect the answer is no.  Hope they don’t eat all my winter violas and my new cyclamen…..





ANOTHER holiday…..

This was the holiday that was (partly) paid for by the cancellation of the singing holiday.  I had chosen three nights, so 2 days of walking, at Lulwoth Cove.  This was partly because it is my closest hf house – only 1½ hours drive away, so ideal for a short break – and I was also curious to see if the hotel had improved since last year.

There were no problems getting there and the hotel had changed and did seem improved.  The area manager was in charge so all the staff were up to scratch and the food was good and up to standard.  As I arrived mid week I was a bit surprised that they still had the welcome cream tea at about 4.30 and also the introductory walk at about 5.00.  Ate too much and did do the walk even though it was the same as last year – but then I needed to walk off the tea a bit, before the evening meal, which was a barbecue as the newcomers, like me, would not have had a chance to choose a meal from the menu.  There were quite a few people who came half way through the week and about half of them were new to hf as well.

In the evening there was an “outdoors” quiz, with various activities, but I had a look at it and opted out – partly because it was supposed to be in teams and I hadn’t sorted out who wanted team members and partly because I thought it was beyond my capabilities!

The second day, Thursday, I opted for the easy walk as usual.  We were last off the coach at Langton Matravers and headed for the coast.

Where we reached the coast.

Where we reached the coast.

We then walked down to Dancing Ledge, which used to be a quay for the boats taking away the rocks from the quarries.  I think it was called Dancing Ledge because of the way the waves “danced” on the rock.  We had elevenses there.

Dancing Ledge

Dancing Ledge

We continued along the coast, and noted some of the flowers, which we decided must be knapweed, but with very short stems because of the wind/proximity to the sea/other environmental conditions?  We passed……

......the entrance to these quarries.......

……the entrance to some old quarries…….

.....and this lighthouse....

…..and this lighthouse….

……..until we came to Durlston Castle.  This was built in Victorian times, specifically as a tourist attraction.  There were good views and we had lunch there.  Probably the most noticeable thing was the large stone globe.  The stone was quarried locally, transported to London to be made and the 14 (I think) pieces transported back again!

Globe at Durlston Castle.

Globe at Durlston Castle.

After lunch we headed towards Swanage……

......Swanage bay....

(on the way)

…….getting good views of…….

......Swanage Bay...

……Swanage Bay…

…..and distant views of ……

.....Old Harry Rocks.

…..Old Harry Rocks.

We walked along the front …….

......with a fairly empty beach and deckchairs ready for use......

……with a fairly empty beach and deckchairs ready for use……

…..and then had time in the town for a cup of tea and a wander before the coach picked us up.

In the evening we had the hf quiz.  My team were not brilliant, but we didn’t come last, which was encouraging!

The next day I again chose the easy walk (what a surprise) and we got off the coach first, for a change.  The first part of the walk was through the countryside, past clumps of trees and around the edge of hills.  We reached the coast at …….

......a very small wooden church.....

……a very small wooden church…..

…….and had elevenses in……

......the churchyard/cemetery......

……the churchyard/cemetery……

…….which overlooked the sea.  We looked round the church before we left – they do have services there, about once a month.

We then went onto the coastal path with the sea on one side and downland on the other.

Joining the coastal path

Joining the coastal path

There were wild flowers – toadflax, harebells, scabious among them – and butterflies and birds.  It was very enjoyable on a lovely sunny day.  We saw a crow chasing off a kestrel, in a place where our easy walk deviated from the coastal path, so as to avoid some of the ups and downs.  The route wasn’t that clear and in one place we could only get back onto our path by climbing a quite high gate.  Some of the older walkers did well to do that!  We then saw an enormous toadstool.

Toadstool.  Some people didn't see the elf (or is it a pixie?) keeping out of the sun, underneath.

Toadstool.  Some people didn’t see the elf (or is it a pixie?) keeping out of the sun, underneath.

We had lunch at a place called “Scratchy Bottom” (I think), overlooking Durdle Door.  The sun was hot, the view wonderful and at one point a kestrel hovered almost over us and maybe about 10 foot up?  It was great and the only trouble was that we spent too long there and the ground was hard………

Lunch spot

Lunch spot

When we eventually moved on we saw……..

........the kestrel sitting on a post......

……..the kestrel sitting on a post……

……and were not only able to all walk past it, quite close, and …….

.......photograph it several times.....

…….photograph it several times…..

……but we even saw it fly a short distance, catch something small, return to the post and stay as we moved on and other people came to photograph it too.

We then walked on to……

.......Durdle Door......

…….Durdle Door……

and passed it……

........to the bay beyond.....

……..to the bay beyond…..

……and then back to Lulworth Cove.

As we had plenty of time, I could get an ice-cream and then worked on my “art work” for the “Pathways Fund”.  We were given pieces of paper with this shape…..

Shape on piece of paper.

Shape on piece of paper.

…….and could, if we wanted, make it into a picture.  These were then put out for others to see and people put money on them for the fund.  The “winner” (no prizes, just the glory!) was the one with the most money.  I decided it was a vase and collected petals and grass etc. to make this picture.

My picture - can you see the original shape?

My picture – can you see the original shape?

I thought it was quite good for someone with as little artistic talent as me.  What is more, it came third!  Someone thought I had used crayons and missed the fact it was petals stuck with sellotape.  I think the winner made the shape into a teddy bear – but that really was artistic.

The evening was the party, with people doing their “turns” – mostly poems – and with country dancing.

The next day was the usual packing, goodbyes and then home.

So a good holiday?   Yes, certainly.  Too much good food (put on 1½ kg in 3 days!), good walks, interesting things to see, wonderful weather and good company.  What more can one want?





Get the kitchen re-done

The last room in the house to be done……. I put it off until last for good reason!

Several people asked why was I doing it, as it looked OK – which it did superficially.  Looking more closely, there were……

.......permanent stains......

…….permanent stains……

.......and chips......

…….and chips……

……and the grill didn’t work and the tops of the cupboards were exposed and got dusty!

So I went down to the local kitchens and bathrooms firm and got a young man there to design and measure and order and sort out the workmen.  After one failure of start date (I hadn’t got the estimates soon enough to be able to say “yes”) the young man who was doing most of the work, James, arrived on a Monday morning.

I had spent some time over the previous weeks removing everything from the kitchen – most of it in boxes to the spare bedroom.  I also had to clear the dining room as that is where the units etc. were going to be stored.  The fridge had been defrosted and then moved to a corner of the dining room.  Everything I was likely to use was in the living room – including the dining table and microwave.  Sofas had to be moved to accommodate these and smaller chairs moved upstairs.  The washing up bowl and liquid and such like, were in the bathroom.  Two friends had said I could use their washing machines……  Nothing was where it should be……  And then it got worse!

The first day a skip arrived, all the old units, sink and appliances were stripped out leaving the kitchen basically…….



.......except for the boiler.

…….except for the boiler.

The next day the gas man arrived to move a gas pipe and the electrician came to put in some sockets and move some wiring.  The units also arrived and …….

....were stored in the dining room.

….were stored in the dining room.

During the rest of that week the units were built…….

Units built

…..for the base…..

Top as well as base

and the top as well and….


.....work tops were fitted and the hob and extractor.....

…..work tops were fitted and also the hob and extractor.

This all created a lot of dust and noise.  Good thing the weather was fine and warm so the sawing could mostly be done outside and having the doors and windows open was a good idea, to help keep a little cooler.  The appliances arrived and were…..

......stored in the dining room.....

……stored in the dining room…..

……. prior to being fitted.

The sink was put in place.....

The sink was put in place…..

…….but the taps were not yet connected – so still no water downstairs.

The second week was spent…..

.......tiling...("random" is hard to do!).....

…….tiling…(“random” is hard to do!)…..

…..and painting; the electrician came back to complete the wiring – except the under-cupboard lights he had forgotten.  He also moved the central light so one of the top cupboards could open properly.  The appliances were put in place and……




.......or plumbed in.

…….or plumbed in.

The third Monday there were a few finishing off tasks such as…….

......putting the fridge freezer in position.....

……putting the fridge freezer in position…..

……. and making sure everything was tidy.  I could then start putting everything back in cupboards, which had a few nifty little features, such as the top corner cupboard with……

.....fold back doors....

…..a hinged door….

….and bottom corner cupboards with….

.....special pull out shelves.

…..special pull out shelves.


I had chosen the flooring earlier and they came and measure for it on the Tuesday and fitted it on the Thursday.

New flooring.

New flooring.

Two weeks later (after the electrician and I had both returned from holiday) the under-cupboard lights were fitted…..

Under cupboard lights

Under cupboard lights

……and the next day my old fridge freezer was taken away, so I had all my rooms back!  I was able to finish moving everything back to normal places and do a (reasonably) good clean.

A new blind was also chosen and measured for…… so it is just a matter of waiting for it to arrive and be fitted.  And everyone had to be payed, of course.

Time for a few “before” and “after” photos……



....and after.

….and after.



.....and after.

…..and after.



......and after.

……and after.




......and after.

……and after.

So, has it been a good idea to get it done?  Well, it looks good and at the moment everything is clean and pristine!  How long will it stay like that?

The cooker is taking some time to get used to.  Grilling sausages for the first time since I have been here set off the smoke alarms – just like in my old house!  I think the grill needs to be a bit less hot.  I am also still reaching for drawers that aren’t there and having to work out where I have put some things, but that will no doubt be sorted with time.

But yes, on the whole I am pleased with it.







Take a holiday in the Cotswolds

Time for yet another holiday with hf holidays, but in the Cotswolds this time.  The hotel is based at Bourton-on-the-Water, which is quite an easy drive for me.  I even broke it up by stopping for lunch with my niece and family, so I did have a bit of time to play with my great-niece and nephew.  That is always fun!

Having reached Bourton-on-the-Water I did have some problems actually finding the hotel, taking at least 2 wrong turnings.  Discussions when I got there proved that I was not the only one!  It is near the centre of the village, but set back a bit from the road, so the sign is not clear until one is actually opposite it.  There were also so many people wandering round the village that it was hard to see anything – and to not run some over!

The room I was allocated was in an annex – Jubilee Cottage – which we were later told was originally the brewery for the big house!  My room was quite odd, with……

.......quite low beams over the bed.......

…….quite low beams over the bed…….

....and in the bathroom.....

….and in the bathroom…..

…..so one had to be a little careful when getting up in a hurry or when stretching.  Even more odd was that the floor was on a slope….

The doors are horizontal but the floor isn't!

The doors are horizontal but the floor isn’t!

This was mostly fine during the day but gave an odd sensation when getting up in the dark at night.  It also meant that the bed…..

.....the bed had wheels at one side but not the other so that it was horizontal and one didn't fall out!

….. had wheels at one side but not the other……

…….so that it was horizontal and one didn’t fall out of bed!

There was afternoon tea on the first afternoon, so one could get to know a few people.  Most of those I met seemed to be walking the Cotswold Way rather than doing Guided Walking, like me.  That would have meant walking about 12 miles each day and I know I am not up to that.  We had  a guided walk round the town soon after the tea – quite interesting, but cut a little short as it started to pour with rain and none of us had thought to bring umbrellas or macs so we got fairly wet in getting back to the hotel.   Then dinner and afterwards quizzes for those who wanted to join in.

The next day,  Sunday, after a cooked breakfast and picking up our packed lunches – lots of choice – we met in the Boot Room, at the appropriate time for our walk.  I had decided on the medium walk of about 7 miles.  It poured with rain all morning and my lower half was soaked to the skin within an hour.  My boots proved to be not very waterproof, but then I had suspected that.  We did a circular walk starting and finishing at the hotel and going through the villages of Clapton-on-the-Hill and Little Rissington.  The rain did stop and the sun came out at about the time we had lunch, which was a relief and gave us a chance to dry out a bit.  We came back via lakes formed in old quarries, but we could hardly see them as they were fenced off.  We got back very early – much earlier than would normally be expected – because we had not stopped much in the morning as the rain obscured views and made waiting anywhere somewhat unpleasant.  I found I could squeeze water out of my socks with ease……  The heating and fans were on full in the boot/drying room that evening, and much newspaper was used in pairs of boots!

After dinner that evening we had a quiz about numbers – basically choosing a number that seemed appropriate for various things like the length of the Fosse Way, the cost of some shopping, the population of the Cotswolds……  My team did very badly – we were bottom by a long way!

On the Monday we all got the coach at about 9.30 and the various walks were dropped off at different times.  I did the easy walk this time – again about 7 miles.  We were dropped off in the village of Ilmington and I think it was there that we went into the church and searched for the carved mice.  Even after finding the list of where they were, I think we only found 6 of the 11 (or so).  We then walked on and up hill and gained some good views.

Typical Cotswold view.

Typical Cotswold view.

We passed Foxcote House – no-one seems to be able to name the owner who comes for a few days a year for the partridge shooting.  Nice house; gardeners working hard.  We also passed this parish boundary stone.

Boundary stone

Boundary stone

The end of the walk was in Chipping Campden, where we arrived before any heavy showers.  As we were quite early, we had plenty of time to look round……

.......at the typical Cotswold stone houses.....

…….at the typical Cotswold stone houses…..

......and the old market hall.

……and the old market hall.

I was close to this when it started to rain very heavily, so I sheltered inside, along with quite a lot of other people.

Looking inside

Looking inside

When it seemed to let up a bit I made a dash for the bank, but just as I came out again the rain came down even more heavily so I got soaked in getting to the tea shop.  They didn’t seem to mind too much and the rest of the easy walkers mostly seemed to be there.

Having dried out a bit I went on a postcard hunt…….. before getting the coach back to the hotel at about 5.0 pm.  After dinner in the evening we had a talk with slides, about the Cotswolds.  The speaker had some interesting anecdotes, but went on a bit too long.  He could have done with some editing!

The third day of walking, I again chose the easy walk.  It was supposed to be seven miles again, but I suspect it was a bit less.  We started in the village of Little Barrington and walked to the village of  Westwell, looking inside the churches in both places.  We noted some of the tombs we had been told about the previous evening, where the…….

......round part on top of the tomb.......

……round part on top of the tomb…….

……is supposed to represent a roll of wool and indicates the tomb of a wool “baron”.  We walked on to the village of Holwell, but instead of looking in the church had a look at the war memorial.  It apparently contains the number one taken form the clock at, I think, Ypres.

War memorial containing the number 1.

War memorial containing the number 1.

We continued walking, through a hamlet whose name I can’t remember – Stirrup, maybe?  There continued to be views and typical Cotswold stone buildings and the dry stone walls typical of the area.

Typical dry stone wall.

Typical dry stone wall.

Lunch was sitting on a hay bale in a barn, in case it rained.  Naturally it didn’t then – but started as soon as we left.  None of the rain was very heavy, so we got damp rather than wet.  We finished in the town of Burford and had plenty of time for me to have an ice-cream, look at the old buildings……

....(don't you love the wobbly roofs?)......

….(don’t you love the wobbly roofs?)……

......and the packhorse bridge......

……and the packhorse bridge……

……shelter from the rain in an art gallery, where I loved some of the pots, but they were not practical to bring home, and still have time for a cup of tea, before getting the coach at 5.0 pm.

After dinner that evening there was a music quiz, which I backed out of – my knowledge of music for quizzes is about zero, as I have found in the past.  I went and read my book instead.

The next morning was breakfast, packing and then driving home – which took almost exactly 2 hours.

So was it a good holiday? Well, I can’t say it was brilliant.  Getting soaked 3 times in three and a half days didn’t help!  I also found the countryside and the walks a bit “samey” and so a little boring.  The large family of Americans, who really only wanted to talk to each other and who weren’t really interested in the churches or history or the flora and fauna didn’t help, either.  The food was excellent, though – I didn’t have a single poor dish.  It might explain how I put on 1 kg in the 3 days!




Go to a funeral

This was, sadly, for a friend I have only recently got to know.  She came on the choir trip to Cornwall last summer and I got to know her there and at choir, where she had a good voice and helped to keep me singing roughly the right notes.  She also encouraged me to keep trying!  Apart from that we had a few phone calls.

She had been ill since I have known her – fighting breast cancer – but since Christmas she had been ill and in hospital every time we had a holiday from choir, but then was soon back at rehearsals.  After Easter she told a few of us that she had been told there was no more  possibility of chemotherapy and then we didn’t see her after the half term in summer, when she was again in hospital.

She did come out of hospital after that and was staying with her daughter, as she and her husband were having their whole house painted!  She had no energy, however and was not able to get up and get ready in time to get to choir.  I did speak to her on the phone and arranged for a card to be sent from the choir.

A short time after term ended her husband phoned to say she was in the hospice – at her own choice.  I did try to get to see her twice, but failed and she died about a week later.  The funeral was about a week after that, at the crematorium.  So many people attended that there was not room for everyone and there were quite a lot of us standing in the entrance hall.  That was really good and showed how well liked she was and how active in various roles.  She was very involved with the local amateur dramatic group and I think a lot of people came from that.  About 9 of us came from the choir – 4 of us altos like she was.

Front of the order of service

From the front of the order of service

The minister had obviously never met her, but the eulogy was very good and said a lot about her and how positive she always was.   The final music was “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle, and that was a rather good summary of how she was.

So, although I didn’t like the fact that it was necessary, I am glad that I went, to show my respects and fondness for her.