Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Return to Work Eve

It's the night before I return to work and I guess I'm feeling a little apprehensive, but not without reason.  Not because of the virus, as it has receded a lot in London and I'm intending to ride my bike to work tomorrow, so I won't be travelling on public transport, unless I feel too tired to ride it home and get the bus instead!
I guess I'm feeling apprehensive because my fellow Deputy Manager, with whom I job share, has resigned and won't be returning to help open the shop with me. The Shop Manager is still in Europe where he has spent Lockdown and isn't returning to the UK until Friday and then will need to quarantine for two weeks, so I seem to be the last (wo)man standing at the moment.
Thankfully, my Area Manager has arranged for another Shop Manager to help me re-open the shop and make it safe for customers to return, but he also has to open his own shop next week. I am meeting him at the shop tomorrow and we are going to work our way through the list of things we need to do in order to re-open the shop. I spoke to him on the phone tonight and he's a really nice guy, so I'm hoping we'll get quite a bit done and work well together.
It will all depend on what we find when we enter the shop.  Three months of being locked up and who knows what's been going on in there.  Leaky roof? Unwanted visitors wreaking havoc (i.e. rodents)? Layers of dust? Hopefully, none of the above, but we'll have to wait and see.
I've packed the pannier bag on my bike with the things that I think I'll need. I just need to add in the clothes I'm going to wear, as I'll be wearing my new padded cycle pants on the way to work and will need to change when I get there, plus my lunch, of course. I've completely got out of the routine of going to work and it's going to be a big change getting back into it.
I had to telephone my ex-colleague today, to remind me of the shop email password, as it's been so long since I've been able to log in, that I'd forgotten it. In addition, the charity has changed over to a new system, so it might not be so straight forward when I do try to log in tomorrow. I'll just have to take it one step at a time and do what I can.
Fortunately, a very good volunteer is coming in to help us tomorrow, which is a God send, as I'm sure he'll succeed in raising my spirits. If it wasn't for him and another long standing volunteer who is coming in on Thursday, I might feel like resigning myself.
I am looking forward to getting on and getting the shop safe to re-open, but I would have preferred it if I wasn't the only paid member of our shop staff doing it. There's nothing I can do to change anything though, so I will just have to suck it up, do my best and hope for the best.
Today, I've spent carrying out last minute tasks such as doing a big food shop to make sure that there is plenty of food in the house to last us during the next couple of weeks. I'm probably going to be pretty tired when I get home and on my days off, so it's one less thing to think about.
I managed to clean the whole house in the last few days, bar the upstairs bathroom, which I left until last and just didn't have the energy to do.  I might give it a quick once over tomorrow. I feel like I've done what I could during lockdown and tried to make good use of my time, but all good things must come to an end.
I'm now thinking of trying to pay back the hours that the charity have paid me for during lockdown.  I've calculated how many and I am thinking of working them back voluntarily over the next few months.  After all, it wasn't their fault that Covid hit and they are a charity. I feel guilty for taking money from them to stay at home, to be honest. Either that, or I may forfeit some leave and give the time back that way, as I will have 3 months less time in which to take all my annual leave and I'll probably never get around to taking it all.
I've now done all I can for tonight, so I'm going to get a reasonably early night and try to get a good night's sleep. I need to do a couple of things in the morning before I set off for work, i.e. buy a few cleaning products and toilet rolls (in case there are none in the shop) and try to get into the shop email to send an email to all of our volunteers and then I'm ready to go.  If I don't manage to do the latter, it can be done when I get to the shop later. I'm hoping that the Shop Manager might be able to contact some volunteers and do some social media whilst quarantining, but I'm not sure whether he will be back off Furlough or not. It would take the pressure off those of us working in the shop if he could.
Thank you to those of you who have wished me well on returning to work.  I really appreciate it. I'll let you know how I get on, but it may be a couple of days before I have the time and energy to write a post about it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

An Enjoyable and Productive Sunday

Having spent all day Saturday cleaning the downstairs of our house before I go back to work, I decided that on Sunday, I wasn't going to do any more cleaning, despite the fact that the upstairs still needs doing.  Instead, I thought I'd do a few little last minute jobs that I've been putting off or haven't been able to do before now.
To start with, I completed a couple of DIY home projects that I'll be posting about separately.  This took about an hour, then after taking the dog for a walk, I sat down and took a look at the jobs left to do on my list.
The first job was to call our local Charity Shop and see if I could drop off some donations.  I'd seen a sign on the door the previous week, stating that they would be taking donations this Sunday, so I rang ahead to make sure. I'd missed the morning drop off time, but they did tell me that they would be taking donations between 4pm and 6pm in the afternoon. As a consequence, I reorganised the two boxes of books and vinyl that had been taking up space in the hall for the past two months, into reusable bags that I no longer needed and along with a couple more boxes and bags from the sewing room, I put them all in the car ready to take.
The next thing on my list, was to spend the garden centre voucher we'd been awarded for our allotment. It was only for £10, but £10 on plants is £10 well spent in my eyes and I was happy to spend a bit more anyway, as I needed some shade loving plants for the garden and had some money left at the end of the month to treat myself.
I waited until OH got back from his cycle ride and had sufficiently recovered and then we headed out together to the Garden Centre. As we approached, I could see a queue of 5 or 6 people.  I wouldn't normally bother to get into it, especially as it had just started raining, but on this occasion I was so keen to spend my voucher and buy some plants that I did. I was fortunate that just as I entered the queue, 2 or 3 people were let in and then the guy managing the queue offered me an umbrella, just as the heavens opened. It couldn't have been better timing, and what great customer service.
Anyway, I wasn't in the queue long and passed the time looking through the fence at the plants.  When I got in I spotted what I was looking for straight away.  Along one wall were a whole row of shade loving plants which made my visit very quick and easy.  I picked up a couple of ferns and a couple of alchemilla mollis that were in coir pots and I was straight to the till and out of there. I'm really pleased with the plants.  I just need to plant them at the bottom of the garden around the paving that OH laid out earlier in lockdown.  They'll make the area look a lot better.
Here are the plants I bought:
On our way home from the Garden Center, we dropped off the donations at the Charity Shop. I was expecting a queue, but we were the only ones dropping off, which was great.  I had a short chat to the Manager of the shop, about their set up on re-opening. It was really interesting to see what they were doing. It should help me when I go back to work on Wednesday.
When we got home, buoyed by ticking off a couple of tasks on the list, I continued to work my way throught a few more. First, I trimmed the ivy that grows over our front garden wall and cleared the front path of leaves. I then moved to the back garden and trimmed the honeysuckle before sweeping the decking down the side return.
Luckily, due to the fact that it had rained, there were no bees on the honeysuckle. I've been scared to tackle it because of the bees, after getting stung the other week due to getting in a panic when a bee landed on me.  It was painful and the poor bee was done for.  I felt really sad about it.  Anyway, here's the result:
It looks a lot tidier now, despite the fact that more leaves have dropped, as it was quite windy. I went on to chop back a few other plants in the garden and harvested the rest of the blackcurrants on the bush. All jobs that won't get done once I get back to work.
In all, it was a very productive day.  There aren't many things left on the list, which is just as well. I'm going to do the ironing tonight, now the weather is cooler, which will tick off another one. The rest I'll have to do tomorrow.
I hope you had a lovely Sunday.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Underbed Re-organisation

Today, I got the idea in my head to tackle the under bed storage in our bedroom.  We have one of those beds where you can lift up the mattress and store items below it. It has been more or less full of things since we bought the bed two or three years ago and it does help to keep the house looking a bit more clutter free.
I went through all of the contents of the storage, making sure that I still wanted to keep it all in there.  I pulled out a few pictures that I might make a picture wall with, as they're all pictures or prints of our home city/county and might look nice hung together in the dining room. I found that the glass in one of the pictures, a map of our county of birth, had broken in storage, so that was another piece of glass to add to the list of pieces that I need to order from the glass shop.  Just as well that I haven't done that yet.
I also found a large oak frame, that I am going to use to hang a piece of LB's artwork, as it is much nicer than the frame I was originally going to use, and it has some glass in it, so I just need to order a mount for it. I've found several on eBay that I can choose from and just need to decide on a colour. It will need to be cut down to size a little with regard to the aperture, but that should be doable.
Anyway, I vacuumed out the storage spaces under the bed and rearranged some of their contents, so that like items were with like items, making it much more organised and easy to find anything I might need to get access to. I pulled out a box of paperwork that I'd stuck in there and proceeded to sort through it.  A lot of it was work related, much of which could be shredded and some was financial stuff that actually needed tackling, so this afternoon I've spent some time dealing with some of it and getting some long forgotten tasks underway.  That was very satisfying.
I also found a garden centre voucher in there, that we won for being awarded Best Plot at the allotment last year, so I can now finally go and spend it at a local garden centre before I go back to work. I might try to do that over the weekend, as I'll be able to park the car nearby. I'll probably end up spending more than the voucher itself again though!
I managed to squeeze a couple of  baskets of photographs into the under bed storage too, which meant that I could rearrange a couple of corners of the bedroom and the sewing room to create a slightly more spacious feel to the rooms.
Other jobs that I've tackled include attaching a new trim to the newly painted blanket boxes in my bedroom. I ordered the trim on eBay and it arrived today. Previously each box had a different coloured trim, one yellow, one green, as that was all I had at the time of re-upholstering them, so it's good to finally pull their look together with the same trim.
I also ordered new light switch cords and pulls for both bathrooms, as the white cords currently hanging in them have been there for over 10 years and were very dirty.  I have bleached them in the past to clean them, but this time around I have bought dark grey cord and pulls so they will show the dirt a lot less.
I also took delivery of some gold paint from eBay today, which I am going to use to touch up a mirror from the living room. It has a gilt plaster frame, which has been chipped over the years, so at least the paint should cover the white chips and freshen it up. I'll do a separate post about how it turns out.
Furlough has been all about doing those tiny little jobs that get neglected in day to day life, but which feel very satisfying to do. It means that I'll be able to go back to work with a clear head, and be able to concentrate on what needs doing at the shop, which will be a help.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

A Final Fling on Some Small Projects

Immediately after receiving the news on Friday afternoon, I decided to get on and oil the chair that I had sanded and re-upholstered.  I wasn't 100% happy with the finish from the oil, as it came up darker/orangier than I'd like, but to be honest, it will just have to do.  OH gave it one last rub over after the oil was applied, using wire wool and this improved the finish to the point that we're happy enough with it.  He has today put the chair back together and I have now completed the final task of attaching fabric to the bottom of the re-upholstered seat. Here are a couple of pictures of the finished results:
I have one final small job to do, which is to securely staple the corners of the base fabric at the front of the chair.  The staples I have are not deep enough to go through the various layers of fabric, so I've had to order some more on eBay, but for all intents and purposes this project is now complete and OH is back sitting in it.
It completely covers the lid of the box, which is good, as it will prevent it getting dusty. (One less surface to dust is ideal as far as I'm concerned).
The next small project I decided to tackle was to make an anti-slip pad for my sewing machine foot pedal. I've been doing a lot of sewing during Lockdown and on many occasions the foot pedal has moved and then got jammed underneath a low level shelf on my sewing table, which means the machine continues to sew of it's own accord and sometimes causes problems with projects that I work on, as well as causing me a lot of frustration.
I saw the idea on a Pinterest post and thought that's exactly what I need. Whilst doing the food shopping at Tesco on Monday, I noticed some anti-slip matting on sale for £1. It was designed to go in drawers or under chopping boards, but fit the bill perfectly for this project, so I bought a roll.
As per the pin, I sewed some fabric from my scraps around the edges of the anti-slip matting, in a similar way to applying bias binding, after cutting it to an appropriate size for the pedal. Once again, it didn't take long to  make and I now have a great solution to stop the foot pedal slipping. I tested it and the matting definitely stops the foot pedal from going anywhere. It will make sewing so much easier.  Here's a picture of the finished mat:
These small projects are often the most satisfying to complete.  They cost next to nothing, use up fabric in your stash, refresh your home or provide the solution to a problem and take next to no time to complete.  I haven't actually got any more projects planned for now, but I did order some iron on interfacing for dressmaking the other day, for when I finally get the opportunity to move on to making some clothes again.  I'll keep you posted should I eventually make anything.
At least now when I do go back to work, I'll be heading back safe in the knowledge that all these small jobs have been taken care of and are no longer waiting for me when I get home.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Lockdown - Week 13

I'm pretty happy with the end result.  I now just need to paint both of the rattan storage boxes in our bedroom to match, but there's no hurry, as we're nowhere near ready to decorate this room yet. I may do it during Lockdown if I have enough time to do so.
I also attempted to do a mosaic project that I'd been wanting to try for ages on Wednesday.  I had to wait until some new safety goggles arrived, as I'd donated mine to the hospital earlier in Lockdown when they were short on PPE. They arrived on Wednesday, so I was all set to go.  It was much trickier than I remembered and it took me ages to assemble just part of the design I was going for. I'll post more when I finally finish the project.
Later, I caught up with the ironing whilst watching the Sewing Bee. I'm really getting back into it now that I've got my sewing mojo back. I stopped watching it for a few years, as I'd completely lost interest in sewing when I started my current job, mainly due to not having the time or the energy.
Thursday and Friday really weren't good days for me this week. I didn't sleep well on Wednesday or Thursday night which didn't help. As a consequence, my exercises didn't get done, and I just didn't feel motivated to do anything much. I was starting to get quite concerned about myself and then I heard that I'm going back to work on July 1st. I think that this really helped me. I need to get back to some sort of normality, Lockdown is starting to wear me down.
Since finding out about returning to work, my mood has picked up and I feel much more motivated to get on and finish the few jobs I want to complete before I go back. I can finally see an end to being at home day after day. I might not feel quite so happy once I get back there, but at least I won't be climbing the walls as I am at present some days.
On Saturday morning, LB and I went out on a little vintage thrifting adventure.  I was very excited, as I'd seen on Facebook that my favourite vintage shop was re-opening and I just couldn't resist a visit. LB was keen to go too, so we drove over and each filled a bag with items for just £10 in total. It felt so good to do something that I used to do and enjoy before Lockdown. Social distancing wasn't the best, but I wore a mask and gloves and there weren't really many people in the store, so it was ok. We weren't able to try any of the clothes on, so it was a bit hit and miss whether they fitted.  Put it this way, I could get them all on, but some looked better than others.
I spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon doing a few adjustments to one of the items to make it more wearable. I'll do a separate post about the things I bought once I've washed and ironed them all.
So a mixed week, a bit of a roller coaster one to be honest, but I'm feeling a lot better knowing that I'm returning to work, whatever I face in doing so.
I hope your week 13 of Lockdown has been a good one.
Here's hoping you've had a better week than I.

Monday, 15 June 2020

What am I grateful for?

Following on from Kezzie's post about 10 things that she is grateful for, I thought I'd write a post about what I am currently grateful for, so here goes.
1- Having time at home with OH and LB. It's not often that you get the chance to spend so much time together and apart from the odd little disagreement, we've all rubbed along very nicely during Lockdown. We're starting to see less of LB now, as she is getting out and meeting friends more, but she needs that, especially being an only child and being stuck at home with the olds.
2- That none of our families have been badly affected by Covid-19. We are very lucky indeed. We're still not sure if we've had a mild version of the virus, and we will probably never know.
3 - Our dog - So grateful to be able to take her out every morning and spend hours outside in the open air, exploring the local open spaces. It would be much harder to motivate myself to go out if she wasn't with us. She's stubborn as a mule, but has been great company during Lockdown. We love her to bits.
4 - To still have a job to go back to once this is all over. Although I'm not sure when I'll be going back, or what sort of state the shop will be in when I get back, I'm happy to have a return to work to look forward to and grateful to have been paid during Lockdown.
5 - The YouTube and other social media content that some of the people I follow have been putting out during lockdown. Their hard work and creativity have helped to keep me sane and entertained with dancing, music, vlogs and blog posts and also helped me to feel connected to others whilst being stuck at home for the last three months.
6 -  Our garden and allotment - (Although I haven't really visited the allotment that often during lockdown). We are so very lucky to have such a special place to be able to escape to and I know that OH would have been lost without it. I might not have spent hours and hours in the garden, but I do enjoy looking out into it every day and love watching it change with the seasons. I also love observing the birds frolicking in the bird bath and I am going to try to spend more time out there in the next few weeks, if the weather stays good.
7 - The opportunity to experience a more simple existence, where we live less frenetic lives and have the time to appreciate those around us, what we have and to realise how lucky we really are.
8 - Having the time to spend on starting and finishing various projects around our home over the last 3 months. When else would we ever have got around to doing them.  More specifically, I am very grateful that we have now re-decorated two rooms in our house.  OH is now moving on to sand and re-varnish the floorboards in both of these rooms, so I don't know if the decorating will proceed into the hallway any time soon, but at least we've got some momentum going, which should help us to continue with it.
9 - Books - What would we do without being able to escape into a good book, be it for a few minutes or even a few hours?  Being able to read most mornings has made for a very agreeable start to my days and I am happy to have created some space on the bookshelf, where previously a whole lot of unread books sat.
10 - TV and Netflix - Although we might only watch a couple of hours a day, we've found plenty of things to keep us informed and entertained on Lockdown evenings. It is becoming apparent though that the TV stations are struggling for new content, judging by the many repeats that have appeared in the programming in recent weeks. 
A few examples of things we've been watching: The Last Dance on Netflix, Succession - series 1 & 2, The Great British Sewing Bee, Gardener's World and Jools Holland and guests on Friday nights and I can't forget my daily indulgence of watching Escape to the Chateau DIY.
Finally, it goes without saying, that I am very grateful to everyone who has helped us to get through this Lockdown period, namely the supermarkets and shops that have fed us, the hospitals and their staff who have risked their health to care for the sick amongst us, the transport workers for helping the key workers get to work, the refuse collectors for clearing up after us and all the public servants who have worked tirelessly throughout this time. We may not all be 100% happy with how things have panned out, but I am thankful for their efforts to navigate us through this pandemic.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Garden and Allotment Update

It's been a few weeks since I posted a garden/allotment update, so here goes.
Anyway, the lovely corner of foxgloves that I transplanted are now virtually over and about to set seed.  I decided to put paper bags over the tops of some of the white ones in order to catch some of the seed to potentially sew in other parts of the garden.  I have cut the seed heads off most of the purple ones, as I only want white ones to self seed. It will be interesting to see what happens.
This weekend, I spent most of Saturday in the garden cutting stuff back that was getting a bit overwhelming, planting my acer into the border. Here it is tucked underneath this corkscrew hazel.  it adds a bit of colour to this border. I may need to move it when it outgrows this space, but for now it's perfect.
The rose bush that I bought the other week is now in full bloom and very pretty it is too.
Whilst out in the garden, I swept the decking, pulling out all the pots and sweeping behind them. It was long overdue and it all now looks a lot tidier. I also created space outside the back door for OH to grow on some of his tomato plants, as it gets full sun for most of the day there. Here's a picture of the decking as it is now:
We keep our brown garden waste bin at the back now, as people would walk past and deposit their rubbish in it when it was in the front garden. It's a bit of an eyesore, but at least it's easier to fill it when it's in the back garden and we don't have to traipse the garden waste through the house. We just wheel it up the stairs and out to the front on the day that it is collected now.
I also harvested all of the gooseberries and blackcurrants from the garden on Saturday morning.  There weren't masses, but what there is, combined with what I harvested from the allotment later, will all get made into jam next week.
Another small thing I made for the garden this week was a new peg bag. I made it out of a small piece of shower curtain fabric that I had in my stash. I couldn't see me using this for anything else and at least the pegs will not get wet, as they do in the fabric bag I made last time. The old one was looking decidedly shabby and needed retiring. Here's a picture of the new one:
The raised beds in our garden are OH's domain these days. They are fully planted up with all kinds of lettuce, spinach, bush beans, kale, kohl rabi and sunflowers. We have been harvesting some lettuce leaves, but I prefer a nice head of lettuce, so I'm hoping these plants will develop into heads eventually. There is some kale ready to harvest, which I keep meaning to do, but I never seem to get around to it, probably because I'm the only person in the house who will eat it. Here's a picture of the beds:
There are still lots more things to do in the garden, but they are mainly big jobs that will take a bit of thought, planning and organisation. In the meantime, I can always buy a few more plants when I see them and fill in some gaps and then just sit in it and enjoy it. I definitely need to do more of that.
How is your garden?

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Lockdown - Week 12

On Tuesday, I did a few sewing jobs. I made this new carrier bag dispenser for our cleaning cupboard, as ours was looking very tatty.  I then made a new cushion for the footstool I repainted, from fabric I had in my stash. Every time I use some fabric from my stash it feels so satisfying.  I also made one more mask by changing the elastic on the very first mask I made, as it was too thick and made my ears stick out. It is now much more usable, if a little on the small side.
I joined a Zoom call from work on Tuesday, which was interesting, but wasn't really about shops re-opening, it was about other stuff going on in the organisation.
LB was getting rid of some of her clothes and offered to pass on some to me if I wanted them.  I ended up with a pair of black Levi's, a pair of short denim shorts (for wearing in the garden only!), a slip dress that I'm going to use as an underslip, a vest top and a skirt. My wardrobe is now bulging with stuff and I don't need to buy anything else for a good while.
 On Wednesday, I woke up to a very overcast sky. I hadn't slept well the night before, so it took a while to get moving. I managed to get out with the dog before the rain set in proper, which was a plus.
After lunch, I got some news about work.  They wanted us to go back next week, but we're not just yet, for a few very important reasons that I can't really go into here. Maybe they will get back to us in a couple of weeks to see if the situation has changed.
In the afternoon, I had to go out and do a bit of shopping locally. It was quiet out and about because of the rain. First I went to the hardware store to get a few toiletry and household items. I couldn't resist a peak at the plants and ended up buying some sweetcorn plants for £1.50. I don't know where we're going to put them, but we'll find some space somewhere. Next stop was the greengrocers for lots of salad and other fruit and vegetables. It should keep us going well into next week now.
The remainder of the afternoon I stayed indoors because it was raining and did some ironing whilst watching Escape to the Chateau DIY. I've almost watched all the episodes available now, so I'm rationing myself to one per midweek day. Not much got done off the list today, but that is no bad thing.
On Thursday, my day started with a work Zoom call when I got back from walking the dog. It made me feel sorry in a way that we're not returning to work next week, but it's still not actually very practical or safe at the moment. Hopefully, we'll be in the next phase of shops at the end of June/beginning of July, which means that I've now got at least another 3 weeks on Furlough, so I'll have to get thinking of more projects and jobs I can do.
I had a lazy afternoon doing a few alterations to a dress I bought on eBay.  I didn't like the buttons so changed them all. It made a definite improvement to the dress.  I also decided to use the tie belt as a neck bow, which improved the look of the dress too. As I did this, I watched a film on Netflix. Some of the things on my list will just have to get transferred over to next week.
On Friday, I was a bit more productive.  I decided to clean the upstairs of the house, as it was in desperate need of it. I started with our bedroom and worked my way down to the bathroom. It felt so much better to get it done, as it was starting to get me down. I also decided to paint a rattan chair that we have in our bedroom, using the paint I bought at the beginning of the week.  I haven't finished it yet, but it is looking better than before. I'll post a picture when it is completed.
Saturday was spent in the garden and at the allotment. I've made a separate post about what I got up to, so I won't go into detail here.
Roll on Lockdown Week 13.



Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Lockdown Reading Update

I've been doing quite a lot of reading during lockdown.  I usually spend at least 30 minutes, often longer reading in bed in a morning. It's a lovely way to start the day gently.
I have to admit that I've mainly read non-fiction. I haven't read much fiction in a long time, but I can see a time when I will return to it, as my non-fiction bookshelf is virtually empty, containing 5 or 6 books, some of which I'm not really in the mood to read, and my fiction bookshelf holds at least 30+ unread books.
Lockdown has certainly been good for reading books that have been kicking around for a long time.  Some of them I've read and have struggled with, some I've loved reading, some I picked up and couldn't get into, so immediately put on the donate pile.  Life's too short to read something you really don't enjoy.
Currently, I'm reading a book by Eckhart Tolle called The New Earth. It's the second book of his that I've read in the last couple of weeks and they have both been sat on the shelf for a few years. In actual fact, I'm really enjoying them.  They are spiritual books about living in the present moment. He explains the concept really well. Reading them has made me realise how much time I've wasted letting my ego control me with it's demands for drama, stuff, acknowledgement, etc. etc.
He argues that it is our ego or unconscious self that makes us unhappy, always wanting more, needing acknowledgement/praise/approval/to be right and others to be wrong.  It drives most of human behaviour, more especially the negative behaviour that leads to suffering.
Tolle argues that we need to become more conscious and observe how our ego behaves and motivates us and by doing so we can lessen it's power and become more present in our everyday lives, which is all we ever actually have, the now.
I'm thoroughly enjoying his writing. It makes total sense to me, but putting it into practice is another matter entirely after years of my ego running riot and being in total control.
I can see, for example, how my ego has shaped the kind of manager I am at work and I'm finding the book useful to help me reflect on my work behaviours, which to be honest aren't always healthy or balanced. Covid has blown everything to the four winds workwise. Even when we go back, it will be like starting from scratch.  Footfall will be much reduced, people may have less money to spend, there are no tourists in Central London at the moment, or many people actually coming in to work.  It's a whole different landscape out there now and I need to be able to deal with that and not find myself feeling frustrated by it.
One positive for me from Covid, is that work targets for this financial year are no longer realistic in any shape or form.  To be honest, it's almost a relief, as our targets for this financial year were huge, due to having had a very successful year last year. In many ways, this is what drives me at work, I enjoy the challenge of meeting and surpassing them, but this year it is not going to happen and I will have to find new ways of enjoying my work, possibly ways that are more healthy for me. I'm hoping it will be a good thing.
That's not to say that I'm not going to do my best to make the most money for our charity that I can, but the high street is not the same place that we left behind 3 months ago and we all have to adapt to a new future. Maybe taking my ego out of the way that I manage could make me a much better manager and help us to get better results. It's something that I think I really need to work on when I get back there.

Monday, 8 June 2020

A Very Special Delivery

A lovely vintage dressing gown.  So glamorous, so completely unnecessary, but also completely irresistible to me. It has a lovely water lily print and is just adorable. Perfect to wear in the summer months or when I'm getting ready to go out dancing, whenever that will be in the far off future.
I was actually a bit unsure if it would actually fit me, because it was advertised to fit size 14-16. I figured that as it had a tie belt and no fastenings, I might get away with being larger and it still fit. It was a bit of a gamble and as a consequence, I was a little apprehensive when it did arrive, just in case I was facing a big disappointment.
When I tried it on it did fit, so I was very relieved and I'm now looking forward to wearing it around the house as it's so pretty.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

A Productive Weekend

After a pretty lazy day on Friday, and after being motivated by waiting to hear if I am going back to work in the next couple of weeks, I had a much more productive weekend.
On Saturday, I finally got around to doing some painting in the living room and applied the first coat of eggshell on the skirting boards.  It didn't really take too long.  OH had previously applied one coat on the door frames and proceeded to apply the second coat later on Saturday.  He then completed the second coat on the skirting boards today, so that now all the bits of the room that we are painting are now finished.
I'll post separately when we've got the furniture uncovered and we've got everything how we want it.  I still need to get paint to re-paint the blanket box and the footstool, so the room won't be finished until these things have been done.  I will try to do them this coming week, but it will mean another visit to B&Q to get the paint.
I'm going to use the same paint that I used on this stool, that I also painted this weekend. I got tester pots of this colour from B&Q on my visit there on Friday and I really like the colour. It's called Princeton. It should help to tie the d├ęcor of the living and dining rooms together.
On Sunday, I was very happy because I managed to get my sewing machine working again. Once more I found a checklist of what the problem could be on Pinterest, and it proved very useful.  I think the thread I was using was not very good quality, because when I swapped it out the machine worked perfectly. Just shows that cheap thread is not a good idea.
Anyway, with the sewing machine working again, I spent most of Sunday afternoon making the last few masks that I'm going to make. The ones I made matched the aprons I made for work, so I'll be very co-ordinated when I do go back. They are not made according to the new WHO recommendations, (i.e. three layers, the first soft cotton, the second polypropylene and the third outer layer synthetic), but they'll have to do. The ones for work are more for stopping me touching my face than to prevent me catching the virus anyway, as I probably won't be in a public facing position all of the time. For the times when I am, the charity are supplying us with masks, so I'll use those.
In addition to finishing some masks, I also made a couple more bags, one for my dance shoes and another one for masks only. I don't need to make any more PPE now, I think I've got quite enough to keep me going.
LB headed out with her friend to attend the protest march for Black Lives Matter today.  I was a bit apprehensive about her going, after some violent scuffles broke out on Saturday night, and because of the Covid risk, but I'm not going to stop her peacefully protesting for a better future for everyone. It's a very important time and cause and in any case she was back safely a few hours later, which I was very relieved about.
This coming week I've got quite a long list of things to do:
Finish re-upholstering the chair seat. I need to attach some fabric to the back.  I've found some in my fabric stash that I'm going to use. (I'm waiting for OH to do a final sand of the woodwork before I start to oil it, but with a bit of luck I might get that done too this week)
Buy paint and then paint the blanket box, foot stool and a couple of picture frames, ready to go back into the living room.
Try to complete two picture framing jobs that I need to do before I go back to work.
Harvest the gooseberries from the allotment, which I think are now ripe. I also need to take a few photos down there for another update post as it has now really filled up and things are growing well.
I have another work Q&A on Zoom later in the week.
If I am going back to work very soon, I need to shop for a few cleaning supplies and other things for the shop and also buy some padded cycling pants to make cycling to work more comfortable.
If we get a sunny day, I am going to spend some time outside and wash all the garden pots that OH has used to plant up the allotment.
I think that's enough to be going on with. I'll keep you posted with progress.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Lockdown - Week 11

So, we're now in Week 11 of Lockdown and in some ways it's hard to believe that we've been locked down for nearly three months now. The time has gone very quickly, but I'm finding it harder the longer it goes on.
Earlier in the week I fell into a bit of a lull again, between projects and needed to give myself a good old kick up the proverbial. Neither OH nor myself felt particularly motivated to paint the living room, so no progress was made.  OH had painted the walls, but we still need to paint the woodwork and are finding it hard to just get on and do it.
I was intending to do it on Monday, but instead decided to go off and do the two weekly food shop, as there was very little left to make a meal in the evening. It was good to get it out of the way at the beginning of the week really, but I made the mistake of setting off too late at 12.30 ish, so when I got there, there was a huge queue snaking around the Tesco Extra store. I just drove straight out again, as there was no way I was going to wait in it. 
Luckily, a short distance down the road is another retail park with a huge Sainsbury's store, so I decided to shop there instead.  There was no queue whatsoever. In fact, it was actually a better experience than the previous shops I'd done at Tesco, and I enjoyed the different choices they had, not that I bought much that was different to what we normally get.
On Tuesday, I didn't have a super productive day, but I'm back sticking to my floor exercise routine after a week of doing none. It's amazing what a difference it makes mentally to do something, as opposed to nothing. I also made a point of putting on a dress again on Tuesday.  In fact, on Monday night before getting into bed I went through my wardrobe and pulled out and tried on every potential summer dress I could find in there, to give me more options of things to wear. It made me feel a lot better and gave me some good ideas of outfits I can wear when the weather is hot.
As Tuesday was the last sunny day forecast for a while, I decided to sit out in the garden for a little while and read my current book. It's the first time I've done that all Lockdown and I actually quite enjoyed it, so if the weather gets warm again, I'm going to do it more often and make the most of being able to spend time outside. I think I've been trying too hard to be productive and have not allowed myself to enjoy the time off work. I think this needs to change going forward. It's probably a guilt thing about being off work and being paid to do nothing. I need to get over it.
On Wednesday, there was forecast a change in the weather, so I was back to dressing in track pants and t-shirt, as I intended to do some ironing, cleaning and painting in the living room. Things I can't really do in a nice dress, without potentially damaging it with bleach or paint.
I eventually decided to focus on giving the kitchen a very good clean as I hadn't done it for a few weeks. It took all of the afternoon to get most of the way round, cleaning the inside and outside of the cupboards and the windowsills and windows. I didn't have time to hoover and mop the floor though, so had to leave that until the next day.
Thursday, I continued with the cleaning.  Finished off the kitchen floor and then moved up and through the hallways and current living room vacuuming and mopping as I went. It felt good to get the downstairs of the house under some sort of control, save for the front living room which is still being painted.  In the afternoon, I spent 3 hours ironing whilst watching TV, so that was another job completed.
Friday, was a slightly less productive day.  I think due to all the cleaning I decided to give myself a break and take it easy.  In the afternoon, I ventured out to B&Q and Poundland to try to buy a whole list of items that we needed. B&Q had no queue, which lured me in, but once inside I realised why, because there were too many people inside, who seemed to have no idea how to social distance and the queue to the till was so long, but did move quite quickly.  In the end I couldn't get most of what I was looking for anyway.
Poundland, was an even worse scenario.  There was  queue and I did break my vow not to queue to get into a shop, but there was a manager on the door controlling entry. When I did get in, social distancing was barely happening in there either, but I did manage to buy a few of the things on my list which was the only bonus.  Not an experience I would like to repeat for a good long time. Several of the things I was looking for were not in stock and they'd changed the whole layout of the store so I had no idea where to find what I was looking for anyway.  I was so pleased to get home and had to take a while to calm myself down from the near hysteria I felt inside.
I got an email from work today and it seems things are moving on the shop re-opening front, at quite some speed. We will find out early next week if our shop is one that is earmarked to reopen soon. It will be interesting to see how that one pans out.
Today, I am going to try to do some painting in the living room. I haven't got anything else planned for the day, so hopefully we'll manage to move things on a little. I'll keep you posted with progress.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

An Outing to the Forest and a Garden Centre Visit

(Please excuse the formatting in my recent posts, for some reason blogger is altering the first few paragraphs automatically in my current browser and I can't seem to change them)


It's an Australian plant, so it likes full sun and is very tender, so I'll need to bring it inside in the winter, but I've wanted one of these since I started watching a couple of YouTube channels about sustainable gardening. It is apparently one of those plants that you can chop and drop to nourish your soil. It's not really big enough to chop as yet, but maybe in the future. I love the foliage of this plant though.

I also bought this lovely little Maple called Anne Irene. I have to admit that it's name did sell it to me, but it is a pretty little thing with pale yellowy leaves. This plant doesn't like full sun, so I'm thinking of putting this one in the border when the forget me knots die off, which will be very soon. I am very happy with it.
Other than these two items, I just bought a couple of pots for some houseplants that have outgrown their current pots, but I couldn't get any compost or grow bags for love nor money, as they had none in stock.

The next garden centre we tried had a longish queue of 8 people waiting to get in. I'm afraid I'm not prepared to wait in a long queue to get into any shop, so although they did appear to have compost outside, you had to go all the way through the shop to pay for it, so that was a no go.

We then went on to one more garden centre, here I managed to get some chicken manure for OH, a fencing cover panel for the end of the garden and some birthday cards for my sister in Australia. The bamboo in this shop was more reasonably priced at £43, but didn't look quite as good and once again was a little expensive. 
Maybe we're just being unrealistic about how much they cost, as we've never really bought them before. Once again there was no compost or grow bags, which was annoying, so we returned home without them. I have to admit that despite a supposed one way system in this second shop, it was a nightmare in terms of social distancing, with families of up to six people all shopping together and people standing around in the aisles waiting for one thing or another. No one seemed to think to step aside into the shop floor space, so others could pass by.

We were both pleased to get home afterwards. That itch being scratched, I don't think I'm too bothered about making another visit in the foreseeable future. It's strange that even the things you normally really love doing are spoiled by the spectre of social distancing, rendering them not really worth bothering with for the moment. I wonder if we'll ever have that care free feeling whilst shopping ever again. That said, it was good to get out for the morning and have a change of scenery so it wasn't a complete waste of time.
Today, when I was getting some lettuce from the greengrocers, I noticed that one of the shops down our high street had re-opened.  I was so pleased, because this particular shop sells plants, seeds, compost, hardware, kitchenware, stationery, so much useful stuff that has been really difficult to find during lockdown.
On my way back to the car, I stopped off to buy some compost for OH and was struck by the beauty of this lovely rose bush.  At just £9 there was no way that it was not coming home with me. It's a standard rose and I have no knowledge of roses, so it will be interesting to see how I go with it. It will be something new to learn during the rest of lockdown and beyond. Seeing this shop open again made very me happy and I said as much to the owners. Virtually everyone who came out of the shop were buying plants, so I don't think I was the only one.
Talking of plants and lettuce, here's an update on the growth of my lettuce stalks. They are slowly getting bigger. It'll still be a while before we'll be able to eat the leaves though.

Monday, 1 June 2020

A Small Asos Haul


I found two summer skirts on the site. One was this long beige wrap style skirt with side button fastening.  It was longer than I thought it would be, but I do like it and the size I bought fitted well. I paid £9 for this skirt.

The second skirt is this button down peach full cotton skirt with pockets. This was from ASOS's own brand and cost just £9.50. It wasn't a colour that I would normally wear, but it also fitted well, which I was happy about, as I won't need to return it.
(I wore this second skirt the other day with a black t-shirt and it was very easy to wear, save for the fact that I dropped my foundation top on it as I was getting myself dressed and ready and got it dirty before I'd even got down the stairs. I'm hoping it will wash out ok.)
I did have to pay postage on this order, as ASOS now only offer free postage on orders over £35 and I didn't want to spend and extra £17 just to get free postage. 
On the subject of summer clothes, I've been dressing a bit more summery this last week. Track pants are a bit thick to wear on very hot days, so I've been wearing skirts and dresses, which is a departure for me during lockdown. It's actually felt quite nice to make a little bit of effort to wear something else. I am on the hunt on eBay for a few more skirts for the summer, I've got my eye on a couple of very nice ones at the moment.
I also altered another button through summery skirt that I was going to donate to charity. I bought it from a charity shop before lockdown, despite the fact that it was too big and too long. In my mind I was going to alter it to make it fit, but then decided against it and put it in a bag to re-donate. Last week I pulled it out again and finally got around to cutting a good six inches off the top and creating a new elasticated waistband, which both helped to make it fit better and shorten it. I had to do it by hand as my sewing machine has just about packed up at the moment, but it was surprisingly easy. I wore it the following day and it was so comfortable to wear. It's currently in the washing basket, but when I get a few more summer clothes I'll do a post about my current summer wardrobe.
What have you been wearing during these hot days?

A Bit of Tech Trouble - Can anyone help?

I've been having a bit of trouble lately uploading photos from my computer and into blogger.  Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, were you able to resolve it and if so how?  Just thought I'd reach out in the hope that someone can help.