Saturday, 31 December 2016

Feeling a Little Disinclined

Since getting the news mentioned in my previous post, I'm feeling a little unenthusiastic about the thought of any New Year celebrations this year, as I'm still feeling a little numb and thus not feeling particularly motivated.

In spite of this, I've finished reading a book this morning and started on a new one.  The book I finished was Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip, a Canadian social entrepreneur, whose adventure travel company is making a big difference to the places to which he takes his customers.  It was an interesting read.  A very pay it forward minded individual, that one can only admire.

The new book I've started is Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow.  In some of the reviews, it suggests that you read this book about the Slow Movement, by concentrating on just a chapter a day, to give you time to absorb it nice and slowly, so I made myself put it down after completing the first chapter. I can't, however, promise I won't pick it up again tonight when I go to bed, as I am enjoying it so far.

Today, I have also written a list of aims for 2017, and looked through the aims I had for last year, to see how many I managed to achieve. Not that many in reality, although a few important ones did get met, particularly the one about getting a cholesterol test, which was more important than I realised in view of it being found to be very high.

I don't hold too much store by these resolutions, but I find myself wanting to make them just the same, to help keep me moving forward.

With that done, I started thinking about trying to get back to some sort of normality, which, of course, meant writing a food shopping list. We're planning a very ordinary lunch on New Year's Day, probably egg and chips or something similar, as none of us can face another roast dinner, or anything resembling one. Not that we're ungrateful for the food we've been given over the holidays.  It's just that now we can please ourselves, this is what appeals.

We'll probably spend the evening watching TV, Jools Holland's Hootenaney show is usually a pretty safe bet, unless anything else catches our eye and attention.

Talking of TV, we've enjoyed some great films and TV over Christmas (we've been very selective).  I particularly enjoyed the films Saving Mr Banks and The Lady in the Van, plus the drama about the Bronte sisters, that was on the BBC the other night. OH also took his nephew to see the new Star Wars film at the cinema the other day.

I'm now heading out to get the food we need for the next few days, and hoping it won't be too busy. Wish me luck!

Wishing you all a Healthy and Happy 2017.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Home Again and Ready to Face Down 2017

We returned to London tonight after our four days away in Yorkshire to visit family.  The weather wasn't great coming back.  Thick fog most of the way. We made it okay though and are oh so glad to be home and back in our own house, even though we enjoy staying with others.

I received some terrible and shocking news on the journey home. After having switched off my phone for two days, due to there being no signal where we were staying, I found I had a message from a friend at the gym asking me to call them.

I think I knew it was bad news, as soon as I saw it, as she would just text me if it was something inconsequential. I didn't, however, anticipate quite how bad it would be.

I called her up to find out that a mutual friend and former instructor had died suddenly over the Christmas period.  We are both in shock. Said friend was a young and healthy mum just starting out on the journey that is family life.  What happened should never happen to such a young, beautiful and energetic person.

We don't know the full details yet, and might never know, but we are both very sad at the loss of our friend and the deep sadness that it will bring to her family.  I've never met her partner, but as soon as I got home I sat down and wrote a card to tell him how sorry I was.

It has made me appreciate even more, the gift that is every single day that we exist on this planet.

When I heard that George Michael had died last week, I selfishly thought, it could be me next. He was only a few years older and his music was the backdrop to my late teens.

I guess I've reached that stage in life where people of a similar age might die suddenly, but this is the first time I have experienced the sudden death of somebody younger than myself, with everything to live for.

It's cast a bit of a long shadow going into the New Year.  I was already feeling a little apprehensive about what the New Year might bring, what with all of the global upheaval in 2016, but now these concerns seem to pale into insignificance in comparison to the pain that our friend's family must be trying to bear.

I think I will just be glad of every day that is a good/normal day heading into 2017 and try to make the most of it.

I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas with no bad news.

Friday, 23 December 2016

An Enjoyable Week and a Big Thank You

I'm enjoying this week.  I've spent two days at the CS, one more to go today.  Yesterday, I spent time hanging out at home, attending my last Zumba class of the year, doing a bit of last minute gift shopping and once again emptying the ironing basket.

We also had a delivery of a food gift hamper, from OH's parents, with some nice luxury foods in there that we've already made a start on. We've decided that Christmas has now officially started in our house.

LB had 4 friends over for a sleepover on Wednesday night to celebrate school being out for the holidays. Whilst they were here, we slipped out for a couple of hours to pick up my console/dressing table, that I'd purchased on eBay. It has already been commandeered into action in our bedroom and looks great.  I can't quite fit everything I wanted to in it's drawers, but that will encourage me not to hoard new products for future use and only buy things as I need them, which is all good. I'll post about it in the New Year.

My days at the CS this week have been enjoyable, busier than the new manager expected, which is good, but there's been a nice atmosphere and the time has passed very quickly this week.

It's the first time I've worked in any capacity in the week before Christmas, for over 10 years and I've enjoyed being occupied. Who knows, maybe next Christmas I might even have a paid job somewhere. Whatever happens, it's good to get out there amongst other people again and see and experience life outside of the house. It's one thing I definitely don't regret about 2016.

As you can probably tell, I'm starting to get a bit reflective about the year that has just passed. Lots of things have happened, mostly good things thankfully.  I've achieved some of my aims and aspirations and failed with  regard to others, but I've enjoyed the year and I am thankful for that. Who knows what 2017 will bring and what will be achieved and I'm now starting to look towards it.

I probably won't be posting much between now and next year (although I will still be reading when I can get a connection), so I will take this opportunity to thank everyone for reading my blog this year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year for yourselves and your loved ones.

I'll see you in January.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Ticking Things Off the List

In terms of my To Do List, I'm having a productive week.  I guess when you're up against the clock things tend to get done one way or another. As each thing has been ticked off the list, it has granted me the time and mental space to get on with others, some of which I've been putting off for way too long.

On Monday afternoon, I managed to finish off all of my Christmas present wrapping, whilst LB was at an after school club.  That was a big tick off the list.

Later the same evening I made a new double batch of homemade natural deodorant.  I ran out over a week ago and have been using LB's spare Aluminium free stick deodorant (what she doesn't know won't hurt her 😉). I quite liked it actually, but it's back to using my own again from today.

My eBay selling has finished for another Christmas.  I ended all of my listings on Sunday night, as it is just getting too close and I don't want to have to worry about postage and whether things reach people. This also now leaves me free to get on with what I need to do at home.

It's been the worst year for sales since I began, almost, but I've got no one to blame but myself. Sometimes, change doesn't work and isn't strictly necessary.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it comes to mind.  I live and learn.

The To Do List has been radically reduced now.  I've got a bit of cleaning to do before Wednesday when some of LB's school friends are coming for a sleepover as an end of term treat. The cleaning (i.e. of bathrooms) was on my list anyway, so this is providing me with added motivation to do it. There's the usual washing and ironing still to do, but not much else, so I'm quite enjoying this week and experiencing a relatively slow and steady lead up to Christmas.

Tomorrow, I'm back at the CS, so the cleaning will be done when I get home, after supper.

I hope your lead in to Christmas is an enjoyable one.

Monday, 19 December 2016

An Unexpected Free Day

Today, for me, was an unexpected free day, which is always useful the week before Christmas. Normally, my Monday is taken up with classes at the gym followed by the weekly shop, but this week the gym was closed, so no classes, and I did the weekly shop yesterday, to take advantage of a £10 off a £50 spend voucher I had for Tesco, which was due to expire.

When I woke up, I was able to lie in bed for a while and read, which was a luxury and then get showered, have breakfast and walk the dog at my leisure, without any time restrictions.  It felt very liberating.

Once I'd done the above, I decided to do something that I've needed to do for about 5 months, namely go and get my haircut.  I really am the worst person for getting this done regularly and hadn't had it cut for about 8 months.  Anyway, I headed to Supercuts and the same lovely lady that cut it last time, did it for me again.

It feels and looks so much better. I've been having some problems with it for a long time now, which I won't go into, but just to get a few inches cut off made all the difference. It also cut out all of the old colour that I used to have in it, so I feel like I'm back to my natural self now, completely, which is an added bonus.  I couldn't face the festivities without doing it and now I feel even more ready for Christmas.

The only down side was that the lovely lady hairdresser is moving away and won't be there to do it again for me, which is sad. (For me, not her as she's getting a fresh start somewhere else!) I wished her all the best and gave her a big tip, because I really do appreciate it when I find a hairdresser who has a nice manner about them. It makes all the difference.

In other news, I won an eBay auction this morning for a much wanted piece of furniture for our bedroom.  It's a dressing table to match our bedroom furniture, that I've wanted for a few years now. I decided, that as it is now out of production, I just needed to buy one or I might miss the boat and find them difficult to come by.  I put a fairly big bid on and won with room to spare.  We're picking it up later in the week and I can't wait.

I'll let you know what it looks like when I get it home and set up in the bedroom.  It's not the best time of year to splash out, but it isn't too far to go to collect it, so I just took the opportunity whilst I could.

The rest of today I think I'm going to spend doing some more Christmas present wrapping. I want to wrap some of LB's presents while she is still at school and this is my last chance. I'll catch you later.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

This Weekend (Part 1 - Saturday)

This weekend got off to a very good start, partly due to the Prosecco I drank on Friday night and partly due to the fact that I got a whole suitcase full of presents wrapped. I just have to write the tags now, if I can remember who each parcel is for.  Makes for a good guessing game to keep my mind active!

I followed this on Saturday morning by finally getting myself out into the garden.  It  was a bit cold and misty, so I had to wrap up warm, but there wasn't any rain forecast for the weekend, so this was probably the best chance I had to just get on and get it  done.

I wanted to take a photograph of what the garden looked like just before I embarked on the task, but unfortunately OH took our shared camera with him on a client visit, so there will only be the after pictures in this post.

I started work down the side return, in an attempt to clear all of the leaves that had settled there. Part of the reason I've left the garden this late, is so that I would only need to clear the leaves just the once, and as virtually all of the leaves have now left the surrounding trees, this will hopefully be the case, although a few more may subsequently drop.

Anyway, I gave the decking a good old sweep and bagged up all of the leaves. I'm keeping them to make leaf mulch this year. I had bagged some earlier in the year, but OH threw them in the garden waste bin, needless to say he's not getting his hands on these. The bags are going to be tied with cable ties and left to rot down and supply lots of lovely leaf mulch for my raised beds.

It took about four hours in total to clear the decked area outside the back door.  I did a bit of pruning too, although there's still a lot more to do and some hoeing too, but it looks a whole lot better.

The greenhouse was cleared of the old rotting tomato plants and grow bags and it's cover was put back in place, so it is now a nice dry place for storing things over the winter.

I put the canvas garden chairs away in the shed, found a few more old toys of LB's to donate and emptied any pots that had filled with water over the autumn winter months.  I still need to do lots of pot washing in spring, but I always enjoy waiting for a nice sunny day to do these.

Here's a few pictures of how this area looked when I'd finished on Saturday afternoon.

The side return.  This is where our kitchen is going to be extended out into next year.

I still need to hoe this border and re-pot the blueberry  plant which is mossed over, but it's looking a lot better along here now.

The mini greenhouse is now all clean and tidy and giving shelter to my succulents.

I'm a bit annoyed with myself for neglecting my greenhouse over the past couple of years, as some of the joints are now rusting and it might only last another year or so.  I should have taken a bit more care of it really, but it will be moved later this year, to where the trampoline is currently standing, in time for when we have the building work done on the kitchen, so we'll see how it fares there.

The potting table will be relocated there too, as will my new hot composting bin.  (More in another post)  We just need to dismantle the trampoline, make a gate from the fence that's currently there and put some flagstones down to accommodate everything we want to relocate there.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Getting Ready for Christmas

Tonight, I was happy to get home from the CS after a busy week. There seems to have been a constant stream of customers in and out of the door, which has been really good news for business.

As I've spent most of my last couple of days there on the till, this his kept me occupied.  It is, however, quite tiring, so I was pleased to get home and know that I don't have to be back there until Tuesday.

Since getting home, I've been winding down from my busy week, by mainly spending the time catching up on watching my favourite YouTube channels.  I am getting a bit more selective about what I watch lately, as time constraints have meant that I can't watch everything that my favourite channels post, but I've focused on the videos that interest me most.

I've had an email from my sister in Australia tonight and it was lovely to hear from her again and catch up with her news since she returned home. I should be able to skype her on Christmas Day this year, as we will be at home, have a wifi connection and no one but ourselves around to distract me.

Talking of Christmas Day, I've also been planning my Christmas Eve/Day TV viewing.  There's not much of it, save for The Queen's Speech, possibly watching Strictly and also watching a film that I've been wanting to watch for ages, namely The Lady in the Van, which is on TV on Christmas Eve. Couldn't be more perfect timing.

On Christmas Eve during the day, OH has booked us tickets to see the Abstract Expressionist exhibition at the Royal Academy, which should be good.  We'll head into town as we always do when we stay in London, do a bit of last minute Christmas shopping (just a couple of things to get), and have lunch or supper in town before heading home to watch the film.  I'm quite excited as it should be a nice day.

Tonight, OH is out with his cycling buddies for their Christmas drinks and I am home with LB and about to embark on some Christmas present wrapping.  I enjoy making presents look extra special, so I am quite looking forward to getting stuck in.

I am, however, halfway through a bottle of Prossecco, (OH bought in a case for Christmas and to give as gifts) so I'm sampling it tonight and it's very nice indeed.  I'm not sure how the presents will turn out in the circumstances.

I hope you've got an enjoyable weekend planned.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Great Day at Home

I've had another lovely day at home today, after spending two days at the CS. I really needed it, as the first half of the week has been exhausting. I haven't slept well for nearly three nights now and to add to this I am coming down with another cold, so I was feeling a bit worse for wear.

Just getting an extra hour in bed to read and spend time doing something that I enjoy made such a difference. This afternoon after coming back from the gym, I've emptied the ironing basket whilst watching the new Minimalists documentary newly released on Netflix, done some washing, spoken to my sister to make arrangements for visiting and presents at Christmas, made up and posted eBay parcels, hoovered through most of the house and generally got on back in control of things at home. I feel a lot better.

I'm  now going to have a soak in the bath and finish the evening watching The Apprentice, which is always quite amusing.

This weekend I've got no classes booked, nor  anything planned, so I'm going to concentrate on tackling the garden at last. (Weather allowing). I've got an empty brown garden waste bin to fill with all of the prunings, sweepings and leaves, etc. and I'm going to get it in order before we get any snow, assuming that we will get snow at some point. I'll finally be ready for Christmas once this job is done.

I hope you're having a good week.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Getting Back My Sewing Mojo

Since attempting to declutter the sewing room the other week, my thoughts have kept returning to my stash of fabrics. I have even started thinking about how I'd like to start using some of the fabrics, to make some items for around the house.

New cushion covers and runners for the reception rooms would be nice, as the current ones are looking a little tired, although I still do like them a lot.

I think this is going to be my priority when I get some free time in the New Year, namely to spruce up our home, at very little or no cost. It seems such a shame that some lovely fabrics are tucked away in boxes and drawers instead of being appreciated whilst in use on a daily basis.

Spurred on by my efforts a couple of weeks ago, the  weekend before last, I decided to declutter more of my fabrics and on Saturday afternoon, I worked my way through two of the drawers where I store my less favoured fabrics.  I probably halved the contents of the drawers and when put with the fabrics I'd set aside the week before, I managed to collate this huge pile for donation.

I really hope someone else will get the chance to use these fabrics and make something functional or decorative with them. I could, of course, keep them and try to do that myself, but I have so many that I just know I never will get around to using them all.

It felt good to thin things out a little, a bit wasteful though if I'm honest with myself. I really dare not think about how much I've spent on buying all of these fabrics in the past.  Luckily, most were purchased very inexpensively from car boots, jumble sales, eBay, markets, etc., but it was still a waste of money that could have been better spent.  I  don't want to make this mistake again. Anyway, I have no real regrets, as it is now time to look to the future and move on.

Having sorted through my fabrics, I came across a few pieces that I decided could, with very little effort be made into something useful and I actually got around to getting a bit creative and making a few things.

Firstly I made this fabric bookmark from scraps, which I'd already cut out and just needed to sew together. I always need a good bookmark, as I'm always reading some book or other and need to keep track of where I am.  It's nice to have one I've made myself too.

I also made a table runner out of this lovely piece of African cotton fabric.  It had already been hemmed around three sides, so all I needed to do was hem the fourth side and it was perfect for this chest of drawers in our second reception room.  I really love the designs of some of the African prints, they are so vibrant and alive.

Finally, I made a scarf that I bought at the CS into a snood, as I find this is just the easiest way to wear scarves these days, and especially good in the winter as you can snuggle your face into them.  It took two minutes and I'm now enjoying wearing it.

It felt good to get the sewing machine out and make a couple of things that I can use immediately. No amazing creations or anything, but the fact that I'm making use of things I already have is enough for me.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Getting Things Done

This weekend has been all about getting as many things done from my current to do list as possible. The main item being putting up the Christmas decorations.

It's never a case of just putting up the decorations, as the living room always needs cleaning and hoovering beforehand and then again afterwards, as there are always bits and pieces that drop from the tree when you're putting it up, even if it's artificial like ours.

We've not had a real tree for several years now, but I'm starting to miss having one. I think the problem is that the artificial tree we have is very traditional, and basically just looks a bit boring.

It didn't help this year as I went for a traditional red and green theme. In the end I had to add a few brighter coloured baubles to give it a bit of a lift. Maybe it's time to start re-thinking the tree thing and look at alternatives.

Next year, we should have a bigger kitchen by Christmas, as we are hopefully going ahead with our kitchen extension in the second half of the year.  I can see us possibly wanting to put a tree in this part of the house in future or maybe even decorate one outside that will be visible from the kitchen, instead of having one inside.  It's something to think about.

Alternatively we could get a new brightly coloured artificial tree or simply new decorations might be the answer. I can feel a change coming on one way or another.

So the tree and our familiar decorations are up and Christmas has officially begun in our household. It's quite a relief actually, as it feels like a big task has finally been completed.  I still have all of my gift wrapping to do and a little bit  more shopping for a couple of people, but essentially it is mostly taken care of.

I bought a few more Christmas food items in my Lidl shop this morning, which is why the bill came to over £70.  I don't have much more shopping to do now this week, as I got most of what we needed. As I don't have any vouchers left to use at Tesco I could do most of the shop at Lidl this week. There were a few bits I couldn't get so will still be heading to Tesco as usual tomorrow, and then stopping in at TK Maxx to see if I can get the last few gifts I need to buy.

Tomorrow evening is the Christmas dinner for staff at the shop, so I'll be heading there when the shop closes, to meet every one and head out to the restaurant. It should be a nice evening.

Another job I've been doing this weekend has been making up and packing items I have sold on eBay as part of my small business. I haven't really mentioned much about eBay recently. The main reason for this is that this year I haven't really been on it and haven't sold half as much as I did last year. Initially, I listed things differently and they didn't get seen, but the main reason I think has been the fact that I changed a few things about my listings and it didn't really work as well in terms of sales. It's been a learning curve.

To be honest, I also got off to a slow start due to everything that was going on in October and it took me until November to get my act together, which is pretty late when trying to capture Christmas-related sales.  Things have picked up a bit in the last couple of weeks, but to be honest I'm not too bothered as I've been very busy at the shop and life moves on sometimes and different things become important.

I will, off course, miss the extra money that I earned last year and which paid for most of my dental treatment if you remember, but so long as I cover costs and make a little bit of money, I'm happy.  I can always try again next year, although the disruption of having building work done, might put paid to that idea.  Maybe it's time to get a job outside of the house and earn some money that way again.

Other things I've been working on this weekend include; cooking up some homemade food for the dog, the usual ironing/laundry workload, personal and business banking and generally pottering and doing other small household things that needed doing.  I've not managed to do everything on my list, but should hopefully find a bit more time to do some of them tomorrow before I go out.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

A Good Week

It's  been a good week this week, despite my small losses at the beginning of the week.  I haven't lost anything since, save that an eBay parcel I sent got lost in the post, but it was a very inexpensive thing to replace for a customer, and it is so rare for anything to go amiss in my experience anyway.  It makes me grateful for our postal services.

My sister in Australia says that postal services there are dire and things always go missing.  I've had my parcels to her go missing too, so I know from personal experience and don't like to post things now.

My two days at the CS so far this week have gone okay. It's quite interesting as the new manager puts up our weekly sales results on the staff notice board, so we can see how well the shop is doing with regard to it's targets. It's quite interesting reading and nice to have access to them, as it makes you feel more involved.

We've got a staff Christmas dinner planned at a restaurant near the shop next Monday evening. There isn't a huge budget for it, and I wouldn't expect there to be, but the fact that there's one at all, is quite encouraging in terms of feeling making volunteers feel valued.

Today, I've spent the day at home, save for going to the gym, going out to do a bit of top up grocery shopping and post some more eBay parcels.  It's been nice to just enjoy time in my house pottering.

I haven't been using the dishwasher for a few days, because I was awaiting an order I'd made which included some dishwasher tablets.  It was late coming, (10 days from placing the order due to Christmas and Cyber Monday I guess) so I ran out, but was loathe to spend any more money on more tablets, so had to make do washing up by hand.  (I ran out of dish soap too, which was also on the order, but relented and bought another bottle to see me through until it arrived today)

It wasn't a great hardship, but it was a bit annoying. However, I was very disappointed when the parcel arrived today, as the box was all squashed and leaking the dish washing liquid all over the contents. Luckily, it only contained household, food and toiletry products, but if it had contained gifts,which I sometimes purchase from this particular company, they would have been ruined.

I promptly sent off and email letting the company concerned, know what had happened. I'm not really the complaining type, but when a fifth of the bulk liquid you've bought ends up all over the other contents, they need to know.  The delivery company were at fault in this instance, as the box looked like it had been dropped from a height. I'm waiting to hear back, but here's a couple of photos I took of the box and contents. A lot of the card board packaging of the other products was slimy and soggy.

Not impressed!

Anyway, on a brighter note, tonight, we're heading to our local mall for John Lewis's yearly Christmas shenanigans for loyalty card holders.  It's more for OH to do a bit of Christmas shopping, as most of mine is done. I'm thinking of returning what I bought for my sister last week at the Oxford Street store and exchanging it for something else, as I'm not sure it's her kind of thing.  If we're lucky we should get a glass of fizz and a chance to look around the store without it being too full.

How's your week been?

Monday, 5 December 2016

Losing Things and the Monday Shop

Monday is always a busy day for me. After walking the dog, I do two classes at the gym and then head off to do the weekly shop.  Today was no different, but I got a bit annoyed with  myself for the second day running.

Yesterday, I dropped my woolly bobble hat at the gym on leaving and when I went back to ask if it had been handed in, it hadn't. I was very disappointed as it was a nice one I'd bought from ASOS last year, which is probably why someone has picked it up and kept it.

Today, I managed to leave my filter water bottle at the gym and didn't realise until I got back from doing the shopping tonight, too late to go back and see if it had been handed in.  By the time I go back there it will be far too late and they'll have disposed of it.  So I'm feeling doubly annoyed with myself, as I paid £10 for it at the Ideal Home Show last year and I liked it.

I'm just hoping I don't lose anything else this week, apart from the marbles I've obviously already lost, of course. I'm hoping that losing a favoured glove on a dog walk a few weeks ago will make up the three and I won't have to part with anything else I own and like in the near future.  It's one way to declutter I guess.

Anyway, the grocery shopping took a bit longer this week, as I did a detour to Home Bargains and Poundland. A few festive items found their way into my baskets, including a little 1ft artificial tree for LB. She said the other week that she'd like a tree for her bedroom and as Poundland were having a clearance sale of old Christmas stock, I got a tiny one, complete with decorations (and two small table cloths for me to use as fabric), all for 50p each. I just need to get her some tiny lights to go on it now.

I also bought a new basket for the dog from Home Bargains, as she's taken to sleeping in our room most nights and her current one is too big and takes  up too much space. The new one is nice and compact and will be good to double as a travel basket. It was pretty inexpensive, so it wasn't too much of a budget buster.

A few more items of food got bought today and put aside for Christmas, including an expensive tin of posh nosh for the dog, three bird flavoured, duck goose and turkey. She'll be eating better than us on the day.  I also picked up some brandy sauce, but as yet I haven't got us any pudding to go with it. The final items were some chocolates for the tree, which I'm hoping to put up next weekend.

As it was the first shop of the month, I probably bought more than I usually do, as we'd run out of a few things and I was a bit more relaxed about throwing things in the trolley.  Only two more grocery shops before Christmas now and only one more Monday at the gym, as the final Monday before Christmas all classes are cancelled, so that will probably become my main Christmas shop day, save for picking up any fresh bits nearer the time.

Tonight, I had a relaxing bath to ready myself for the week ahead at the CS and I put the finishing touches to my Christmas cards. They're all getting posted out tomorrow, because I'm sick of them sitting in a pile on my kitchen table.  I posted my sister's cards for her today. She left them with me when she returned to Australia.  It was cheaper to do it that way, than for her to send them from the other side of the world. After tomorrow, I will just have a few to hand out at the CS and then I'm done for this year.  (Hooray!!)

I'm off to bed now, to read and get an early night for a change.  Have a good week.

Friday, 2 December 2016

A Trip to Town

Thursday, as I mentioned in a previous post, I spent the afternoon in Central London doing a spot of last minute Christmas shopping.  The main reason for going in was to avoid a £6 delivery fee on my Fortnum and Mason order, but I did need to pick up a few presents too, so made an afternoon of it.

I caught the bus in, which takes a while, about an hour from where I live, but longer coming home, (90 minutes) as it is much busier and the bus much fuller.  For £1.50 per journey though, it is super inexpensive, if you have the time and patience for it.

Anyway, I digress. The bus took me straight to Oxford Street itself, so I hopped off at Oxford Circus and wandered down, stopping in a couple of stores that I needed to go to.  I managed to get one present, but my second stop was unsuccessful, another attempt to avoid delivery costs.  I wanted a particular CD from HMV, but unfortunately they didn't stock it, so it was back to ordering it online when I got home.

I then reached John Lewis and took in their Christmas Window displays. I have to say, in my humble opinion, these were the best of the ones I saw this year.  They were so cute, tying in as they did with their Christmas advertising campaign. I didn't take any photos, as I only had my phone and can't download photos from it, so apologies for no pictures.

Selfridges next, and although their windows were glitzy and glamorous as always, they didn't quite do it for me quite so much.  I went into the store though, but was unsuccessful getting what I wanted, as when I saw it in person, I wasn't too impressed.

Anyway, I took myself down South Moulton Street and most of the length of Bond Street to find my way to Fortnums.  I enjoyed looking in all the expensive store windows, but wasn't overly impressed by much of the merchandise, far too ostentatious for my liking. I guess some people live a lifestyle that requires such trappings, I don't.

I popped into Fenwick's for the first time ever and found it quite interesting in there.  I am sometimes a bit put off going into some of the more expensive designer stores, as they tend to have security men on the doors and sometimes they even follow you around the shop.  Not my idea of a pleasant shopping experience.

Unfortunately, in this day and age anyone who doesn't appear to be wearing blatantly expensive designer labels, seems to be viewed as a potential shop lifter. Very sad and depressing, but I know from experience in the CS, that people do go out with the intention of stealing, in charity shops or high end stores, it makes no difference.

I was reminded as I passed the Royal Academy, that there's an exhibition on that we wanted to visit on Abstract Expressionism.  I made a mental note to ask OH to try to book us tickets to visit on Christmas Eve, as we always like to go into town for the day when we stay in London for Christmas, as it makes us feel particularly festive.

Eventually I got to Fortnums and it was super busy. As I was picking up an online order, I thought it would be very quick, which it would have been if I'd gone to the right place. I ended up queuing for 15 minutes in a line to order a hamper and you can only imagine how long each customer was taking. It's bad enough deciding what to buy at home on your computer without sitting down with an advisor in store to make up a hamper.

When I finally realised my error, once redirected, I had my order and I was out of the store within a few minutes. I have to say I found the service was impeccable, unlike some stores I visited during the afternoon.

Having collected my order, I made my way along Regent Street and popped in a couple of stores on my way back to John Lewis on Oxford Street, where I bought a couple more presents and used the ladies before getting the bus home. My bus leaves from the street down the side of the store, making it a super convenient last stop.

It was a good afternoon out, but by the time I got home at nearly 7pm I was pretty exhausted and not really fit to do much else but collapse in front of my computer and order the one present that I couldn't get in person.

Maybe next year I'll get it all delivered, but then again, I might not, as it just wouldn't be the same and it wouldn't allow me to see the Christmas windows and lights and soak up the pre-Christmas atmosphere on one of the London's most infamous streets. A crazy place, but you've got to love it just a little bit.