Thursday 27 February 2020

Catch Up and Stock Up

My week off passed without incident. I felt a little lost if I'm honest and probably didn't make the most of it, but to just do nothing in particular was very relaxing and when I went back to work on Tuesday, I felt considerably detached from the place, which hasn't really happened in a long while, so I must have benefitted from being away.

Our few nights away in Rye were a lovely break.  The weather was pretty awful, rain when we got there and pretty ferocious wind most of the time, but we managed visits to Hastings (picture above), Dungeness and Rye town itself (we were staying a few miles out of Rye), which I loved.

There were some lovely donkeys (one of them above) and ponies in the field outside our cottage, which the dog made friends with and we enjoyed feeding apples to. The cottage was lovely and very well equipped too.

LB and I did some obligatory thrift shopping whilst away and I bought a few good value bits, including a new handbag for £5;

which I'd been looking for on eBay for a while. I also managed to win an eBay auction whilst away, for some new ankle boots, tan this time, which I paid £16 for. I am very happy with these two items. I wore the boots last night for the first time to go to my Solo dance class and they were very comfortable and ok for dancing, although not as slippy as my black boots, which were in the shoe repairers for new heels again, after just 6 weeks.  I'm hoping for better quality heels this time, as I've gone somewhere else for them.

When I returned to work on Tuesday, there was a lot to do.  I did my best, but it didn't look like I'd done a lot by the time I left. I'm back in again all this weekend as the Manager is away and the other Deputy is on leave now.  From Monday, I'm off again for two more weeks, to use up the last of my annual leave. I've decided that I'm going to use the time to blitz the house as it needs desperately needs it.

This afternoon, I'm going grocery shopping. With all the talk of coronavirus becoming a pandemic and self imposed quarantines, I'm making sure we have enough food should the need arise.  We have virtually used up the Brexit stash I accumulated, as nothing seemed to change post Brexit.  I now realise that it will take a year before existing trade agreements end, so there's plenty of time to prepare for that and I'm now concentrating on replenishing for more pressing reasons. 

I know it probably sounds crazy to most people, but after the outbreak in Italy, who knows where it will strike next. The news is changing on a daily basis, with more cases coming to light. I just don't want to be caught out and unprepared. We've even bought some face masks this week and looking at recent sales on eBay, I know I'm not the only one doing so.

Needing to travel on public transport in London, where you do come in close contact with lots of people on a daily basis means the need to wear them may be a distinct possibility sooner than we all think. The price of some of them on eBay is quite ridiculous, so I haven't gone mad. If necessary, I may decide to make some from all the fabric in my stash and then just wash them as required and maybe insert disposable filters in them.  I'm going to look for a YouTube video on the subject when I'm next on leave.

At work, I've started wearing vinyl gloves to sort donations, to get myself into the habit more than anything.  It's quite shocking how dirty the gloves are after just a few hours of  handling donations.  I might even make it a regular practice.

I'm not trying to scare monger in writing this post and I apologise if anyone finds what I've written disturbing, but I do feel it's better to be prepared for any eventuality than not be. We have a responsibility to ourselves and others to take appropriate precautions, exercise regular hand washing and demonstrate appropriate etiquette should any symptoms become apparent.

Are you trying to or intending to take any precautions in the current climate of concern about the virus?

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Another Week Off

I am currently a few days in to another week of annual leave from work. I'm not due back at work for another 7 days yet and it feels wonderful to be free for such a length of time. We are going away for a few days to Rye in Sussex, so I'm looking forward to that, as it will be good to get out of London for a few days and just chill. The rest of the time though, we are staying put and I'll be pottering around at home and out and about.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting.  There was another social dance the other Friday night that I went to.  Once again, I took myself there on my own, but luckily there was a girl there that I knew from solo classes and we spent quite a bit of the night chatting, which was nice.  She's very sweet and like me, makes herself go to the social dances to build her dancing confidence.

This time around the lesson went much better, as I was no longer confused about my role as a follower, which made it much easier. One guy played a little game of getting me to do moves that we weren't actually supposed to be practising. He admitted that he was just playing with me, which I found quite funny. I guess not everyone would find it funny though. He said I did OK. Thanks for that!

Anyway, I danced with a few more people this time, some of whom were very good dancers. I'd watched them from the side lines and when they asked me to dance I was quite taken aback, quite useless and in awe of their confidence, so I doubt they'll ever ask me a second time.  It was so much fun though and so interesting to experience and watch the different styles that each dancer exhibits when dancing. 

I find people watching at these events fascinating.  Some lead dancers are quite strong and swing you around quite fast and expertly (I quite like this actually, but I just wish I knew what I was supposed to be doing!), others are more subtle in their leading technique, which I actually find more difficult to deal with at the moment, but may appreciate later on. Some dancers you watch are very playful with the music, which is lovely to watch. It is great experience for a newbie dancer. I stayed the longest time yet this visit and left around 10.15pm.

On the Saturday following the dance, I discovered that Mile End Vintage were having a £1 sale that day, so I decided to head over and just managed to have a quick look around before they closed for the day.  I spent just £5, buying two blouses, a cute Laura Ashley alpaca mix cardigan, another vintage black dress (50's this time - I haven't posted a picture, because with it being black it doesn't really photograph well, but once again it fits like a glove) and a lovely ladies grey waistcoat. They were all in very good condition, save for one of the blouses, which had a few marks on it that I didn't see when trying it, as it was almost dark by then. I still need to wash it, to see if the marks come out.

Talking of clothing, I had another little splurge last week. I had to pick up a parcel from the Post Office Depot whilst walking the dog, so we took a slightly different route, during which I passed a new to me charity shop and saw a dress hanging up in the door way that I really liked.  I asked the lady what size it was and it was my size.  She was very obliging about letting the dog come into the shop for me to look around inside, which was lethal, as I had my handbag with me and was carrying cash.  I ended up buying the dress I'd seen for £7, plus another one for £4 and an A-line skirt for £2.50. I've been looking for one I like and that fits for ages, but I had to shorten this one as it was way too long. I'm wearing it today for the first time. All of these items will be great for dancing though, so I have no regrets.

On Sunday just gone, I decided to try out a new dance class, Lindy Hop this time.  The same teacher who took the workshop I did a few weeks ago was teaching it. I was a bit nervous going, as is always the case the first time you go anywhere new, but I really enjoyed it.  I stayed on and did a second slightly more difficult class, which was pretty challenging, but she was a great teacher, so I will definitely be going back when I can. When I got there I was surprised to recognise half a dozen people from previous classes or workshops, which was good. It's always nice to see a familiar face.

Yesterday, I met the new teacher who will be taking our Zumba class from March onwards. He seems very nice. My membership at the gym changes from 1st March and I won't be able to book as early, so my attendance will depend on whether I can get a place booking later.

I spent the afternoon compiling a Favourite Swing Track playlist on YouTube.  It's quite time consuming, but once done, means I can listen to my favourite tracks and practice my moves whenever I want, so it's worth it.

Today, I have nothing planned. I'm taking the dog for a walk as soon as I publish this post. I hope to post again during my leave week.


Friday 7 February 2020

Normality Evades Me

So much for all my good intentions of getting back to normality this week.  More or less as soon as I wrote that, I came down with a head cold, which has prevented business as usual, because I haven't felt up to doing too much.

I still went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was in fact Wednesday that the cold started.  As a consequence, taking two dance classes after work was hard.  I think that even my balance was affected by the cold, as when I tried to do a couple of moves, I felt very dizzy which I've never experienced before.

Wednesday night I didn't sleep well, on account of the cold and the churning over of the day's events, so on Thursday I was a bit of a zombie.  I still managed to get out of the house and go to the local mall to get my hair cut though.  It was long overdue.  I won't say how long. It felt better to get the ends tidied up and another item was ticked off the to do list.

I also bought myself a new sports bra whilst I was out, from M&S.  I was down to my last one and I wanted one that I could wear to go dancing in, that wasn't too high impact, but was still supportive. I'd seen a design I liked online, but wanted to try it on and when I did I decided to buy it.

The only other thing I bought was a new watch strap, which cost £10 to buy and get fitted. Mine was looking very tatty after just 6 weeks of wear, which was a bit disappointing.  I'm hoping the new one will last a little longer. I did a very small top up shop too, just bread and milk really.

Then I came home and had a snooze on the sofa for an hour before walking the dog later.

Today, after a much better night's sleep I woke up feeling a bit more energetic. I hung out some washing I'd done the night before, took the dog out and caught up on a bit of blog reading, which I haven't done for a while.

LB had a day off college, due to her teacher being sick, so OH treated us all to lunch out at a local cafĂ©, which was nice. We don't do it very often, so when we do it's a nice treat.

The rest of the afternoon I spent pottering and getting LB to put my hair in rollers. Tonight is another social dancing night.  I booked it before the cold came on, so I may just do the class at the beginning of the night and then come home, or I may stay for an hour and watch everyone dancing. It is good to see it in the flesh so to speak and who knows, I may even get the chance to strut my stuff. I don't go with any expectations.  Even just doing the class keeps me practising. I'd like to take more classes, but I can't justify it financially at the moment

Despite spending money yesterday, I'm trying to curb spending as much as possible this month.  I've been very spendy over the last 8 weeks or so and I need to get back to a good place in relation to my finances, as I'm continually broke.

Next month, my gym membership ceases, as I have cancelled it and signed up Pay As You Go. That will save me at least £30 per month.  I only attend one class per week now and the teacher of that class is leaving to have a baby very soon, so I may not even keep going to that one in future. I am going to try to, as it is a good way to keep in touch with friends at the gym. I've been meaning to change my membership for years now and thankfully I've finally got around to it. Currently I'm paying £60 per month, so that will no longer be coming out of my account from 1st March, which will help.

Not eating meat as a family, has also had an effect on the food budget. I don't seem to spend as much money on food, which is a good thing. We have also been eating down the Brexit stash though, which probably isn't a good idea, as it is in the next few months, now we have left the EU, that we will start to feel a difference if there is going to be one. I'm going to keep an eye on stock levels in the supermarkets and watch out for any shortages of things over the next few weeks, which might indicate possible problems going forward. It will be an interesting exercise.

I'll keep you posted on any observations.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

A Crazy Week

It's been a crazy week here. Lots of stuff going on, some good, some bad. After finishing work last Wednesday for the week, I spent Thursday at home.  I was really tired. Taking two Jazz Solo classes on a Wednesday night after a full day at work is tough.  I love it though and am going to continue indefinitely, I just need to build up my stamina.

On Friday I was feeling  much better and decided to get out of the house and visit one of my new favourite charity shops in another part of the borough. I hadn't been for a couple of weeks and they have an interesting range of things at very reasonable prices. I headed off and was enjoying myself looking around the shop, when all of a sudden a woman cried out that her purse had been stolen from the bag hung on her pram.

When I  heard this I wasn't completely surprised, as the first time I'd visited this particular shop, I'd had the feeling that someone had been trying to get into my bag.  Several times I felt people knock into me and get a little too close for comfort. I had a rucksack at the time and I noticed at one point whilst I was shopping that it was open and I'm usually very careful about closing my bag at all times. Anyway, nothing was missing from my bag, but the incident did inspire me to make a mental note and always be careful in that particular shop.

Anyway, the poor woman concerned was very distraught, as you can imagine. She had a young child in the pram and the thief had got away with quite a bit of cash and several cards. While the shop staff called the police to report the theft, the lady was trying to cancel her cards over the phone. I had to step in at one point, as the person on the other end of the phone was asking her lots of questions she didn't know the answer to, so I had to explain the situation so that they could ask her security questions she could answer without her card and bank details.

Eventually, she got some of the cards cancelled and I went with her to try to cancel another card at a nearby Building society. I know how it feels to have to do this and she was so shocked and unable to think rationally, that I think she just needed a guiding hand. I felt so bad for her, because she really never thought it could happen to her. These thieves are ruthless and know the easiest targets.

So, Friday got a bit crazy, but I eventually came home. OH had had to go off up North that morning to help his mum and dad, as his brother needed a break, so it was just me and LB this weekend.

On Saturday, I was booked into a Learn Lindy Hop in a Day workshop, which was part of my Xmas present from OH and I was really looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, however, the dog became ill overnight and was vomiting and really weak. I was in two minds whether to cancel, but as the dog settled down and went to sleep I decided to go, as it would be £40 lost if I didn't. LB was out at work and with OH away, it was a difficult decision.

I arrived a bit late and I was a bit distracted about the dog during the classes and worried about her, but the workshop was great.  I really enjoyed it and learnt so much.  There was one other person there that I knew from my solo class, so it was good to see a familiar face, but it went pretty well and I feel much more enthusiastic about partnering now.  I just need to keep practicing.

When I got home, the dog was still very unwell, so I had a quiet night in watching TV.  By bedtime, she'd started drinking water and not regurgitating it, which was progress, although she was still very weak. Needless to say, she slept on my bed that night, so that I could keep a close eye on her.

On Sunday, I was back at work, but I had to go in a bit later so that I didn't leave the dog alone for too long. Thankfully, by Sunday night, when OH returned, she was virtually back to normal and is now almost fully recovered. We think it was a virus that has been doing the rounds. Poor mite, it hit her very hard.

Today, I was back at work and arrived to an overflowing stock room once again. It took all day, but by the time I left, it was looking decidedly better. Just one more day to work this week (tomorrow) and then I'm done for the week. I want to get my hair cut this week, so I am looking forward to my days off. I'm hoping things will now calm down a little and get back to  some sort of normality, if there is such a thing.

I hope you've had a better week.