Friday, 31 December 2021

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy 2022.

Just a quick post to say a big thank you to my followers, fellow bloggers and blog readers, for sticking with me this year. The pressures of work have meant that I have found it difficult to find the time to create my usual kind of blog posts.

I hope to return to posting more regular blog content and not just weekly blogs in the coming year and I hope that you will continue to follow along with me, as my blog documents the challenges and pleasures of everyday life.

I wish you all a healthy, peaceful and Happy New Year, in spite of the circumstances in which we find ourselves and I look forward to continuing to blog both for myself and for you in 2022. 

This little corner of blog land is a haven in tumultuous times, where we can share the good and not so good things that happen in our lives. I really appreciate the camaraderie that it provides and hope it continues to help us all through these challenging times.

Monday, 27 December 2021

A Quiet and Relaxing Christmas

Christmas Day here was a very relaxed affair. I woke up and stayed in bed to read for a little while, before getting up and getting ready. There was a bit of tidying up to do from the night before and a few more presents to put under the tree, but once this was done it was time for breakfast.

We like to treat ourselves to soft boiled eggs and soldiers on Christmas morning. Don't ask why, it's a kind of holiday treat, that we indulge in when we have a bit more time. By the time we'd had breakfast it was about 11.30am, so I decided to start off the meat in the oven and I also prepped a few veggies ready for our Christmas Dinner. We were having lamb for Xmas dinner, one of the only days of the year that we have a joint of meat, and we wanted to eat at about 1pm, so we opened our presents as the meat cooked and I kept popping back into the kitchen to put other bits and pieces into the oven.

Present opening was relaxed too. LB seemed to love all of her presents, which was a relief, as did OH, so I felt like I'd done okay this year for once.

After lunch, I had a very leisurely afternoon, watching the Queens speech, Mary Poppins Returns (which was great) and a few other things on Netflix. I ate far too much unhealthy food, drank too much alcohol and barely ventured out of the living room for the rest of the day, save to get another drink! Everything one expects to do on Xmas Day. I enjoyed the day though and needed it to just unwind from the stresses of work over the last few weeks.

In between, I messaged a few friends and family members to wish them a Happy Christmas and thank them for gifts, and that was about it.

On Boxing Day, after not sleeping too well, I woke up and did a bit more reading. I decided that after the disaster that was my finances heading into this Christmas, I was going to devise a strict budget for 2022. I'm done with being broke in the lead up to Christmas and I'm going to put money aside next year for all the gifts I need to buy throughout the year, so I don't have to rely on my credit cards at the last minute again. There will be a bit of a lag before I'll be able to start this, as LB's birthday is in January, as is my sister's 60th and there's a nephew turning 18 in February too, so from March I'll be putting a sum aside every month for gifts I need to buy for the remainder of the year and keeping strictly within the budget I've set myself, to stop myself overbuying.

I also created a strict budget for everything else and I'm going try my hardest to stick to it this coming year. I'm going to try to do this by deducting every expenditure in each category, as I spend it and when the budget is used up in a category, I can't buy anything else or I'll have to find money from other categories. That should help me to be more careful.

Eventually, I got up and got ready, had breakfast and then set out to walk the dog.  It was good to get some fresh air after a whole day cooped up in the house on Christmas Day. 

On the dog walk, I picked up this lampshade that someone had left outside their house, to be taken by anyone who wanted it. I'm going to put it in the spare bedroom, as I need a new lampshade in there. It's purely decorative, of course, as it has no actual shade to it, but it is a bit more modern than the one I've currently got in there. I may need to buy a new fancy bulb for the light fitting, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem. I love picking up free things.

Anyway, we continued on the walk and then I came upon some volunteers handing out lateral flow tests in the main shopping street, so I took a couple of boxes, as they were like gold dust before Christmas and I'm almost out of them. With Omicron so rife in London at the moment, I need to test regularly before going to work or mixing with others.

For the rest of Boxing Day, I tried to stick to somewhat healthier eating than I'd managed on Christmas Day, eating more salad and fruit and I tried to drink less alcohol too. Just one drink today.

On Bank Holiday Monday, OH headed out to collect our car from Central London. I didn't mention this in my post on Xmas Eve, as it was a bit of a downer, but we had an accident on our way home from Central London on Christmas Eve. No one else was involved and no one was hurt, but OH curbed the car badly and blew out two tyres. 

As we only had one spare, we had to leave the car in Central London and get an Uber home.  We arranged for the car to be recovered by our recovery service today, as we weren't sure if the suspension might have been damaged.  

Anyway, as it turns out, the car is fine. The tyres have been replaced and the suspension has been checked at a garage, so we were very lucky. At one point we were thinking it might even have to be written off. It's such a relief to have it back in working order again. The thought of possibly having to buy a new car was really quite upsetting, although I did put it to the back of my mind over Christmas, as I didn't want it to spoil the holiday.

Anyway, today was about getting back to normal. I did a lateral flow which was negative, before going back to work tomorrow. I did some washing and then spent the afternoon tackling some ironing so that I had something to wear to work tomorrow, all whilst watching My Fair Lady on the TV. I also managed to watch West Side Story for the first time in my life. A sad tale, but a good film.

I let a £10 voucher at Lidl lapse today. We really didn't need any more food, as we've still got so much left to eat. I probably could have used it to overstock on something or other, but you know what, I just preferred to stay home and watch a movie. Maybe this was a bit wasteful, but I'm sure I'll earn more vouchers in the coming year, just from doing the weekly shops, so I'm not going to give myself a hard time about it.

I'm not really looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but at least it will feel like life is getting back to normal. 

Hoping you guys have have a lovely Christmas.

Friday, 24 December 2021

Last Weekly Blog Before Christmas

At the beginning of this week, it seemed that all of a sudden, Christmas was upon us, and there was still a stack of things on my to do list, one of the main ones being a big garden tidy up and putting up the garden lights. As a consequence, on Sunday morning after walking the dog, I headed straight out into the garden. 

I deliberately hadn't tackled the garden before now, as I was waiting for all the leaves, or nearly all of the leaves to drop, so that I would only have to do the leaf collecting once. As the trees were virtually bare, and it was a dry, cold day, the conditions were perfect. In addition, OH would be around later to help me with a couple of things.

The first task was to sweep down the side of the house. Lots of things are kept down here, most of them waiting to be taken to the tip, or in the case of the leaf mulch from last year, to be used. I swept up what I could and bagged up this year's new leaves, emptied things that had filled with water over the weeks, in particular a black plastic dustbin, which I wanted to use to transplant our outdoor Christmas tree into. OH drilled some holes into the bottom of this and with a bit of a trim of the roots, we were able to replant the tree into it. I'm hoping it survives the shock.

The pot that originally contained the tree was then re-used immediately to transplant the biggest of our blueberry plants into, as the clay pot it was currently in was starting to crack and crumble around the rim. OH then pruned the blueberry plants and I partially pruned our apple tree.

Once the side return was cleaned up, I took down the camping table that we'd been using on the decking and put it away for the rest of the winter and then turned my attention to the decked area. This mainly involved sweeping leaves from around and underneath pots and raking them from the beds. I left a few areas with some leaves insitu, for insects and other creatures. I did find a toad, but I left him be, he seemed happy enough. I also pruned some shrubs that were a bit out of hand and cut down some perennials that were dying off. It looked quite bare, but a lot better for a tidy up.

I then moved on to tackle the raised beds. I weeded one, transplanting some foxgloves that had self-seeded into it over into the borders. I then applied some of the year old rotted down leaf mulch to the bed. The second bed contained the remains of my dahlias, so I cut the foliage back and then dug the tubers up to overwinter them, before adding more leaf mulch to that bed.

The surrounding paths were cleared of weeds and leaves and the small patio at the end of the garden was swept and weeded too. OH hung the strings of Xmas lights on along the garden fence, on the outdoor tree and also some on the front hedge. All that was then left to do was to cut back the ivy that grows over the wall in the front garden, add some decorations to the outdoor tree and sweep the front path, but I had to do that on Monday, as by now the light had gone. A very satisfying afternoon in the garden and another job completed. A long time coming, but worth the effort.

On Monday, I was booked into my class at the gym. I was a bit apprehensive about going due to the new variant, as I can't afford to catch it, being the only manager working over Christmas and New Year. In the end I decided to go and sign in, but not do the class. It's too risky and I have to consider the people I work and live with. Instead, I headed off to do my last weekly shop before Christmas. It wasn't too busy out, but I was glad to get all the shopping done.

In the afternoon, I had a good scout around the kitchen and my food stashes and gathered together a bag of food items for the food bank, as I'd received a message in the morning calling out for donations. Then I decided to finish decorating the outdoor tree with some small white plastic fircone ornaments I bought from the charity shop.  Here's a picture of the tree and the tidy garden, I'm not sure if the dog approves or not! 

I then finally got around to cutting back the ivy hedge at the front of the house and sweeping the footpath, which completed all of the outdoor jobs I needed to do, for this year at least.

Later, I went out to walk the dog, picked up a prescription from the pharmacy and then made us some supper. After supper, I took a couple of hours to catch up with blogging friends. I've got so behind with reading everyone's news. It was good to catch up. If I comment on your blog regularly, you may find a whole host of new comments from today.

After the blogging catch up, I still had time to do a final bit of gift wrapping. Just a few small gifts for one of the volunteers at work, who is super generous to everyone in our shop, both with his time as a volunteer and by the fact that he buys us a huge Fortnum and Mason hamper every Christmas.

On Tuesday, I was back at work.  There were lots of donations that needed processing when I got there, so that kept us busy all day. There seems to have been a sudden influx, which is good, as we have had fewer donations lately. 

Anyway, one donation that came in was a small/medium sized artificial Christmas tree. I've decided to buy it, as our current one is a faff to put up and I struggle with it every year.  This one is in just two parts with branches that just drop down instead of ones you hook into the stem, which is what we've currently got. It's not as big, but I'm going for ease of use over size from now on. We've had our current tree for about 10 or more years now, so I'm going to pass it on to the Give and Take and let someone else who needs one, get some use out of it.

We had a good day of sales at work today, but post-Christmas opening is still a bit up in the air. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with Covid cases over the next week I guess.

On Wednesday, I was back at work again in the afternoon. The Shop Manager left today, to go home to Europe for Christmas. So I'm now officially the last Manager standing at the shop for the duration.

On Thursday, I was working a full day, so had to be in the shop for 10am. OH did the double dog walk today to help me out, which was good of him.

Work was quiet. Some not so good news dropped in my lap, which means that I've got a pretty onerous for me task to complete next week, that I shouldn't really have to do, which I wasn't too pleased about. It was a bit of an unexpected and unpleasant surprise shall we say, but I'm not going to worry about it over Christmas and let it spoil our Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, OH went out on a cycle ride early in the morning and I had a bit of a lie in reading a new book I'd started the night before. I haven't had a chance to read much in the last few weeks, so it felt like a bit of a treat. Later I got up and took the dog out for a walk.

When OH got back, we all got ready and headed into Central London for a walk around the West End, see the Christmas lights and beautiful Christmas windows and do a bit of last minute shopping. It was a nice festive thing to do, that we hadn't done for a good few years. Some of the lights in the West End were lovely. Here are a few pictures of them:

Bond Street Lights

Oxford Street Lights

Regent Street Angel Lights (My favourites)

On that festive note, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 18th December 2021

Since returning to London last Sunday, it's been quite a busy week, just getting back to normal really.

On Monday, I attended my usual class at the gym, followed by the usual grocery shop, plus a little bit of last minute Xmas shopping for LB. There wasn't much time left to do anything else that day, as there was still the dog to walk and the supper to make.

I was back at work on Tuesday, and as I expected, there was a huge amount of donations to work through. Luckily, I had the help of a lovely volunteer and by the end of the day, we'd made a lot of progress, cleared most of the donations and got lots of stock ready to be put in the shop.

On Wednesday, I had a homey day. I needed to get hold of some lateral flow tests from the local pharmacy, because everywhere is running out of them and I need them to test myself before going to work. I work with people who may be vulnerable or live with people who are vulnerable and I like to make sure I'm Covid free before going to work.  In addition, LB was pinged this week at work and needs to do daily lateral flow tests for a week, as a couple of her colleagues have come down with Covid. 

Once I'd managed to sort the above out, I needed to get stuck into doing some ironing, as the pile was super high and I didn't have any clothes left to wear for work, so it was a priority. I also got a call from an ex-work colleague, who I hadn't heard from for a few months, so it was nice to catch up with him and hear that he'd finally moved into a new house. I was really happy for him that he'd managed to get settled in for Christmas.

I spent the rest of the day catching up on other domestic tasks and cooking some supper and by the time I'd done that I felt really tired and took myself off to bed early.

On Thursday, I headed into work again. There was a fair bit to do when I got there. Lots of areas of the stockroom were piled high and needed tackling, so it was one thing and then another. There was still a lot to do at the end of the day, but I'd done what I could in the time I had.  I finally found out today, my rota for over Christmas, which was good. A couple of volunteers have stepped in to run the shop on a couple of days i.e. Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, to give me some time off over Christmas, which was very sweet of them. I was very touched by their kindness.

OH cycled into town to meet me from work, as we had tickets to see a performance of Handel's Messiah at St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square.  I'd never been before, but was very excited to go.

We just about managed to get there on time and headed to our seats in the Nave. I understood them to be restricted view, but we were very lucky and we had a pretty good view, except for not being able to see some of the singers in the choir. I was very happy with our seat choices, as there hadn't been very much choice when we booked. We weren't sat very close to other people too, which was a plus.

We really enjoyed the performance. I'd definitely go again.  We had a glass of wine in the Crypt Cafe at the interval which was nice. I couldn't take any pictures of the performance, but here's a picture of one of the trees in the Crypt, which I thought was beautiful.

After the performance, we walked back to the shop through Covent Garden Market. I never venture down here, despite working 10 minutes away, but it was lovely to see the tree there too. London at Christmas is so festive, I do love it. We may venture into town on Christmas Eve to see all the lights and shop windows. It's something we've done a few times in the past and it will be nice to do it again, virus allowing.

Talking of which, I was surprised at how many people were out and about in town, in spite of the new variant. I guess that everyone is still determined to enjoy Christmas this year while they can and we were out ourselves, so I'm not judging. We eventually got back to the shop, picked up our bikes and rode home together which was nice, but it was a late night and we were glad to get to bed when we eventually did.

On Friday, OH took the dog out, so I had a leisurely morning, catching up on watching YouTube videos, writing the remaining Christmas cards I needed to write and doing some laundry and other domestic tasks. There seems to be so much still to do and so little time before Christmas now.

After lunch, I headed out to post my cards and do a bit of top up grocery shopping. and then in the evening, I decided to start some gift wrapping. I managed to get all my wrapping bar a few items done, which was a big load lifted off my shoulders, especially if I'm working right up to Christmas.

Saturday I was at work again. The streets seemed very quiet as I rode into work. It seemed like people weren't really venturing out, but as soon as I got nearer Central London, there were more people out and about.  

The shop was pretty busy, but not last weekend before Xmas busy. The theatre across the road from the shop has also now closed down, so there was less footfall in the area.  We got a lot of Christmas decorations donated today, so I spent quite a bit of time pricing them and putting them in the shop.  A lot of them sold which was good. I did keep prices quite low though, as we really don't know how much longer we're going to be able to stay open with the virus spreading rapidly in London. The day definitely had a bit of the feeling of the last day we worked before Christmas last year.  That was the last Saturday before Christmas too.

The remainder of the day was about getting as many things into the shop that might sell as Christmas presents, so I had a good dig around the jewellery and priced good items as they came in to ensure the best chance of selling them. 

I'm not back at work until Tuesday, but as we know from last year's experience, an awful lot can change in the next few days.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 11th December 2021

This week got off to a good start as OH didn't go cycling for once and took the dog out in the morning. That meant that I could take my time getting up. After breakfast, I decided to tackle the spare bedroom/sewing room, as it has been a complete dumping ground lately, what with housing a stash of food/household products, a stash of stuff for when LB goes to University next year, a food stash for Xmas, plus things to donate to Charity, all my sewing paraphenalia that I've been using lately and other Xmas bits here and there.

Initially, I needed to clear some space for OH to get into the loft for the Xmas decorations, but I decided to use the opportunity of being able to get into my fabric stash drawers, to have a bit of a cull of my fabrics.  I've got so many and some I probably will never use. This task has been on my to do list for months now, so it was good to finally be able to cross it off.

I pulled out a pile to sell at some point, a pile to donate and a few bits to recycle. It felt good to reduce it, even though it was only a relatively light cull. 

After lunch, OH took the Xmas decorations out of the loft for me, so I decided to put them up. I cleaned around the living room first and started with the tree. I'm like the Grinch when it comes to putting up the tree. I don't enjoy it at all. I only start to enjoy it when it's up, branches positioned correctly and lights on it. This year I bought some tinsel from the charity shop and had to put that on too. I went with a pink, silver and gold theme this year as the tinsel I bought was pink and silver. It looked okay once I'd finished.

I then put up the various other decorations around the house and had another quick vaccuum around to pick up any dropped bits from the tree. It felt good to get the decor done. I still need to clean the second reception room and put some lights up outside, but I need to tidy up the garden first.

This was a productive Sunday for me, much less chilling and more doing.

On Monday, I slept in a little so I didn't have a lot of time to get ready, get breakfast, so my usual lateral flow test and get out of the door to my class. The test was negative, thankfully. I was using some new tests that I got from the pharmacy, that only require you to swab your nostrils and not your tonsils, so that makes it a lot easier. I needed to register the result online and by the time I had done that I was running late.

My class was good. From there I went off to do the shopping. I called into Home Bargains today, as we had run out of quite a few things I usually buy from there. I always enjoy a mooch around the store, but rarely spend less than £30. I did pick up a few presents though.

From there I needed to stop off at Boots to buy a few more gifts, then Tesco for more gifts and some bits of food I couldn't get from Lidl. Then the final stop was Lidl for the grocery shopping. So it was a bit of a shop fest today, but I managed to get most of the gifts I needed to get to take to family in Yorkshire.

When I got back I just had time to unpack the shopping before I needed to take the dog out. I found this lovely floor tile that someone was throwing out, whilst coming back from the dog walk. 

I decided that it was coming home with me as I can use it as a trivet or to put a plant on. This is the first photo I'm managed to upload using my chromebook, despite having had it for a year. You'll have noticed a distinct lack of photos in posts lately as I've only been able to upload using my old netbook, when I can be bothered. Hopefully, there'll be more photos in posts going forward.

A busy day, I was glad to finally get home and be able to chill for the rest of the evening. 

On Tuesday, I was due at work early again, opening the shop at 10am, so the Manager could take the day off. I managed a quick walk with the dog before setting off and luckily it wasn't raining on my journey in. I wasn't looking forward to the day to be honest, but it didn't turn out to be so bad. 

I got to do a variety of tasks today, which included pricing hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, belts, bags and clothes, of course, as there was a table full of those to price. I even did the steaming of some of the clothes, which I don't very often get a chance to do.

By the time I left, the shop stock had all been topped up, as much as I possibly could, the stockroom was looking very tidy and we had quite a good day of sales too. 

On Wednesday, I was back at work as I had swapped one of my days around this week. I'd been told that the charity's Visual Merchandiser was coming to the store to help re-do the windows and advise us on visual merchandising. I always enjoy seeing his work, as he has good ideas, but I just don't get much time to put them into practice on the shop floor. He also hails from the same part of the country as I do, so we always have a bit of banter about home.

Anyway, I was back in at 12 noon which was good for me. There weren't too many donations when I got in, so I spent some time pricing more Xmas decorations and getting them in the shop. Later in the afternoon, a huge Gift Aid donation came in, so I spent the afternoon processing that before I left.  At least it meant that I left two full rails of clothes to go in the shop for the rest of the week, as I wouldn't be back to the shop until the following Tuesday.

On Thursday, we packed up and headed off up north to Yorkshire for an early Xmas visit. We eventually managed to get away for 1pm, as OH had some work to finish off in the morning. We dropped in at OH's parents on the way and then headed to our accommodation in Driffield, East Yorkshire this time. The accommodation was good. The host had left us milk, biscuits and eggs. The milk was especially a god send.

Our first full day we spent grocery and Xmas shopping in Driffield, which is a small rural town, but has lots of lovely little shops. I always enjoy staying here, but usually we stay outside the town centre. This time around, we were closer to the town itself. We got most of what we needed there, but there were still a couple of things that we needed to find, so after a nice lunch back at the cottage, we headed off to Beverley, another small East Yorkshire town, to find the last few bits of a gift for OH's mum. Before shopping, we took the dog on the Westwood, which is like a common area with lots of green open space and woodland to explore.

Later, it was lovely to have a walk around Beverley, see their Christmas lights and visit a few more shops, so in all we had a lovely day. We then returned to Driffield and went out to a pub for supper. As is sometimes the case when we go home, we ended up doing most of our visiting on the same day, on this occasion Saturday, as this seemed to be most convenient for those we were visiting. It was nice to have a day to ourselves to relax and unwind after the journey though.

On Saturday, OH got up and went off to do a Park run and I took the dog for an early walk. Later we headed off to meet my sister and her family for lunch in a pub near to where they live. We had a lovely lunch and it was nice to catch up, as I hadn't seen her in six months and LB hadn't seen her for two years due to Covid. Later the same day, we headed over to OH's sister's house where we spent the evening catching up with her and her family. 

On Sunday, it was time to pack up ready to head home. On the way home we stopped off at OH's mum and dad's again for a few hours and spent some more time with them, before heading back to London. A quick visit this Christmas, but sadly, it was all we could manage, due to work committments.

A busy week, but now we can settle down and enjoy the rest of Christmas here in London.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 4th December 2021

The week started off slowly on Sunday. I woke up feeling a bit sore and stiff after my accident the night before and slowly got up and ready, had breakfast and took the dog out. We had a nice walk though, despite the cold.

I spent most of the rest of the day online, catching up with watching YouTube videos, doing online banking, buying and exploring Jacquie Lawson's new Online Advent Calendar which is fun and doing other tasks. As a consequence, it wasn't a particularly productive day, but I figured I was recovering from a long day at work and my injuries. 

It seemed too early to get the Xmas tree and decorations out of the loft, so we'll probably do that next weekend, if not before. 

Monday, I did my usual class at the gym, did the weekly shop and then came home for an hour or so, during which time I headed up to the sewing room and started work on some new Christmas aprons for work. I then headed out with the dog, as I had an appointment booked to get my booster jab at 4pm, so I needed to be back for that. It was good to get that done and know I've got more protection.

On Tuesday, I was back at work. There was a big pile of items for our online hub, that needed to be researched and packed into boxes ready to send, so I spent most of the day doing that. These items get listed and hopefully sold on our charity's online website, adding to the overall sales for the shop. I didn't feel like I'd had a particularly productive day doing this, but it needed to be done and I managed to process the majority of the pile before going home.

Tonight, we booked some accommodation up in Yorkshire, for a long weekend in a couple of weeks time. It's the only chance we'll get to see family over Christmas, as both LB and I will be working between Xmas and New Year, so it will be good to get away before Christmas instead.

On Wednesday, I had a bit of a lie in and then got up, got ready and went out with the dog. LB was starting her new job front of house at a local theatre, so she was up and out early.

After lunch, I decided to carry on sewing some Christmas aprons for work. I've based the design on a vintage half apron that I had, but I've just added a bib on top. It's a good project to use up some of the Christmas fabricin my stash, of which I have lots , and the design is more flattering than the ones I made last year, so I'll look forward to wearing them. I'm intending to make some everyday ones for the rest of the year too, along with drawstring bags to carry them to and fro.

It took me all afternoon to finish one apron that I'd started a few days ago, and to make another apron with drawstring bags, so at least I have two to use for work from now on. I'll probably make at least another two later this week. I know the make will get quicker, the more I make.

Thursday at work was good. It was absolutely freezing cycling in and out. My feet got really cold. I wore my new earwarmers for the first time. They are a must. They were very inexpensive from eBay. They do the job though, but domake a mess of my hair. The perils of cycling to work!

I managed to work my way through what Gift Aid donations there were. We're still very short on donations at the moment, which is unusual for our shop. I think it's probably because there aren't as many people coming into to town to work, and they are therefore probably donating elsewhere nearer home. Also I guess people are busy doing their Christmas shopping, so it's not surprising that things tail off a little towards Christmas.

The last hour or two of the day, I was able to do some pricing of things that I thought would sell as gifts this Christmas. I like to dig out things that I think will sell quickly, in order to boost sales. We had a pretty good day sales wise today, the best so far this week, which I was happy about. A volunteer had some really good news today, which he'd been waiting for for months. I was very pleased for him as it's his birthday tomorrow, so it was a very special birthday surprise for him.

On my day off on Friday, I stayed home after walking the dog, as OH had booked the car in for it's MOT. I decided to do some more sewing and started to make another apron. Talking of which, I wore one of my new aprons at work on Thursday, probably the worst of the two I made. I find that the first of anything I make is always a bit dodgy, as things tend to improve the more experienced I get at making them. It served it's purpose though, which is all that matters really.

I also took a look at my finances on Friday, factoring in any bills I needed to pay, to figure out where I'm at. Not a great place this Xmas. Luckily, I've got two credit cards to use for essential purchases. I know this is only moving the problem along to January, but that's where I'm at this year. 

I'm focussing on buying gifts for family that we'll be visiting soon, and will then think about everything else when we get back. Thankfully, I've been putting aside food and drink for Xmas for weeks now, so that will help quite a bit this month. I've also got some savings in my current account that I can use if necessary, so I've got options.

Later on Friday, I had to go out to get some dog food as we were nearly out and tried to do a bit of Xmas shopping.  I didn't really find much that I needed though.

On Saturday I was back at work. I spent the first part of the day rearranging some areas of the stockroom with the Shop Manager, as we hadn't had a collection of our recycling and the mountain of bags was slipping and sliding around.  We managed to instigate a better, safer system to keep the stockroom tidy, which was good. I then progressed onto pricing Christmas baubles and other decorations, as I found another box full of them in the stockroom. There were some lovely items in it, so I'm really glad I found it. 

Later, I got around to doing the Gift Aid donations and priced all the clothing on the pricing table, although there wasn't a whole lot.

When I got home on Saturday night, OH was heading out for drinks with his cycling buddies. I was too tired to join him, so I stayed home and watched a very cheesy Christmas movie before falling asleep on the sofa.

I can't believe it's just 3 weeks left until Xmas. It's going to be here so fast. I hope all of your preparations and present buying is progressing nicely.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 27th November 2021

This week got off to a good start, as I woke up after having a good night's sleep for the first time in a couple of days. I immediately got up and sorted some laundry before getting ready for the day.

After breakfast, my first task was to put some washing on and then to walk the dog. We had a nice walk this morning. No time constraints, on a cold but bright winter morning.

When I got back, I decided to do a couple of small tasks I'd been avoiding for a couple of weeks. One was to properly clean our old salad spinner, as I'm considering donating it. After cleaning it, however, I think I might keep it as a spare or for LB when she goes to University next year.

This job then lead me to thoroughly clean our kitchen sinks, which were looking a bit grimy and clear some limescale deposits on and around the draining board. (Caused by the hard water here in London). I also used a tip I saw on YouTube to clean my silver rings, the insides of which were looking a bit grotty. Baking soda and boiling water. It works and presumably is nice and gentle on the stones.

I also planned my shopping list, as this week, I was on a very tight budget for groceries and everything else, despite. I tried to cut what I bought down to the minimum to get through the rest of the month. I had some shortcrust pastry that was just past it's best before date in the fridge, so I made some mince pies with it and I took a look at what food we did have as I wrote my shopping list, so that I didn't buy anything we didn't absolutely need. Fortunately, I had a £10 voucher to use at Lidl and a £5 voucher to use at Tesco, so they would come in useful.  We won't starve and it won't hurt for a week not to have many treats.  

I spent the afternoon chilling, catching up on YouTube favourites and generally just having some down time.

Monday, I was up and off to Zumba as usual. After class I headed off to do the weekly shop. Using the vouchers I had, I managed to keep the cost down to £75, which sounds a lot, but is less than normal. This leaves me just under £30 to spend on food next week, before I get paid on Tuesday. I seem to be broke before Christmas has even begun this year. Dentist and optician appointments have really set me back financially. 

Next year, I might go back to putting £50 aside each month to pay for Xmas/Birthday gifts throughout the year. I found it easier to budget when I used to do that.  As far as this year is concerned, I'm afraid I will be putting more Xmas presents on my credit cards. It can't be helped. I just need to make sure I don't go too crazy as I've still got to pay it off.

On Tuesday, I was working. It was a case of head down and focus on processing gift aid and pricing clothing all day. I needed to work a few extra hours this week, as I was working full days on Thursday and Saturday, due to the Manager taking a few days off.  I planned to use the extra hours to make sure I vaccuumed the shop again and got some Christmas party wear out on the shop floor.

On Wednesday morning I had a lie in, as OH took the dog out. When I got up, I sorted and hung out some washing, then proceeded to water most of my house plants before sitting down to breakfast. I much prefer their care in the winter, as they only need watering every fortnight, as opposed to weekly.

I didn't have any errands to run thankfully, and as I didn't have any money to spend, I spent the day at home catching up on some ironing, whilst watching a Christmas movie, of course. My favourite way to spend the afternoon on my day off.

Later, I went out to walk the dog. I met up with a fellow dog walker, which made it a bit more sociable and we had a good chat as we walked.

Thursday and work beckoned. There weren't too many donations, so I had lots of time to do other things around the stockroom and on the shopfloor. I decided it was time to decorate the shop for Christmas. Whilst the cat (my boss) is away, the mouse (me) will play. I hardly ever get time to do any visual merchandising or shop decorating and as it was nearly December it was long overdue.  Out came our little Christmas tree and the windows were dragged into the Christmas spirit. I also priced lots of donated Christmas related items and made a display of them with the help of another volunteer. The sparkly Christmas party dresses were also priced and hung out on a rail of their own. Although it was a busy day, I had fun and we put Christmas music on for the first time this year, which I also enjoyed. I'll probably be sick of it in a couple of weeks, but it made a nice change.

On Friday, I had to be up early, as a guy was coming round to measure our windows for new sashes and we needed to tidy around before he came. Later, after walking the dog, I had a couple of errands to run. One was to pick up a Christmas present I'd ordered online for LB. I only had to go down to a local Sainsbury's Express and as we needed a couple of food items, I was able to shop for them at the same time. I did get lured into buying a couple of extra Xmas presents whilst in there, but that was okay.

I also visited a couple of charity shops en route, despite being broke. I figured that as I had some savings in my current account, I wasn't actually as broke as I felt and in one shop I bought a dress to wear for work for £3 and a slightly thicker long sleeved top for wearing in this cold weather for £7 from another charity shop.

I booked my Covid booster jab today, for Monday, at our local chemist. I figured with all the talk of the new variant, I shouldn't hang around.

On Saturday I was back at work and in early again. I actually got there for 9ish so that I could vaccuum the shop before opening at 10am. We had a good day and I managed to get quite a lot done in the stockroom, with the help of a couple of volunteers.

I had a slight accident on the way home and came off my bike. It was my silly fault and no one else was involved, but I hit the ground hard and hurt my leg and shoulder. I managed to get straight back on the bike and get home okay though. It wasn't a great end to the week, but it could have been a lot worse.

How's your week been?

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 20/11/21

After getting back from Cardiff on Sunday night, this week has been about catching up at home and on medical/dental appointments and getting back into my normal routine. It's nice to go away, but I love coming home and getting back to normal.

On Monday, I was booked into my Zumba class as normal, which was great. I did the weekly shop afterwards at Lidl. It was a biggish one, as there wasn't a lot left in the fridge, due to us going away. 

On my return from doing the shopping, I had some lunch and then had to head out to my first dental appointment in over two years. It went ok, a different dentist, covering for my dentist's maternity leave, who seemed nice enough. He did try to suggest that I get some crowns replaced at a cost of £2-3,000, but as they aren't really a problem for me at the moment, I have no intention of paying out such an amount in the immediate future. 

I did end up having an extra xray to check the crowns and then a clean and polish, so the final bill was £100, which was more than I expected just before Christmas, but it does mean that I don't have to go near the surgery for another 6 months, which suits me down to the ground. 

I booked LB in for a check up in January, as I can't afford another appointment this side of Xmas. She has never had a single filling, so I'm hoping that she'll be fine, but we'll see.

On Tuesday, I headed back to work. As I expected, there was a whole cage full of Gift Aid donations to process. The Shop Manager had warned me that donations had picked up over the weekend, which is a good thing, as they had virtually dried up before I went away. 

A volunteer had started work on them and I then pitched in, so that we managed to clear the whole cage by the end of the day and I also managed to price a huge pile of clothes on the pricing table too. I felt pretty satisfied that I'd done a productive day's work at least on my first day back.

A night out at the pub had been organised after work, and as a consequence, I'd come to work on the bus. After finding one pub full, we'd walked on to another and managed to bag a table so that we could all sit together. We had a nice couple of hours in the pub and then I headed home.  The bus home was full, which wasn't great, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. 

On Wednesday, I was glad to have a free day, as I had a few errands to run and I needed to ring the doctor's surgery to get my thyroid and cholesterol blood test results, which I did first thing and then waited for the doctor to call me back in the afternoon. The former results were fine, the latter not so, so I'm finally going on medication for high cholesterol, as I think it runs in our family and it was higher than it's ever been. I'm not thrilled, but I need to do the sensible thing. I've seen what can happen when someone is struck down by a stroke and I don't want that to happen to me. 

I put away some laundry next, that had been hanging around for a while, and then I got ready, as I needed to wrap and drop off my donation of an Operation Christmas Child box to a shop in our local mall.  I jumped on the bus to do this, as it's cheaper than paying for parking at the mall. I stopped in at the Card Factory whilst I was there and bought some birthday cards that I need early next year, so now I'm all set and can just post them off when they are due.

When I got home, I had some lunch, did the washing up, took the dog out, caught up on some financial stuff, blogged for a while and then made us some supper. I ticked a few things off my to do list today though, so that was good.

Thursday and back to work. Back on the electric bike too, which was preferable to the bus, I have to say.I had a difficult day at work. That's all I can say about it. I came home feeling a bit stressed out and found it hard to get to sleep. In trying to hunt for some second hand trainers for LB, I joined Depop and took a look around the site. I felt a bit old to join this app, but it was interesting.

The saddle bag for the electric bike came today. I'm very pleased with it. It fits perfectly on the rack at the back and will allow me to carry a water bottle on the bike. (There's nowhere to put a bottle holder) The saddlebag itself is not huge, but that's good, as it stops me trying to carry too much to work.

On Friday, I was up quite early after a lousy night's sleep. I got up and ready, whilst OH took the dog out. I had a few errands to run today. I needed to pick up my new prescription and also get a form from the pharmacy. There is a new system for getting hold of free lateral flow tests, whereby you have to register with an app to get a collection code. I went through the process and later picked up a couple of boxes. I guess the govt are now starting to try to monitor (police) the use of them.

I also needed to pop to ASDA, to do a food top up shop, as we'd completely run out of a few things. Whilst there, I also went into TKMaxx and had a look around and then went to Poundland for a few more bits, some of them needed for work. 

I was tired today, so didn't get much done at home, save for hanging out some laundry. I just wasn't feeling it. My final outstanding eBay purchase came today - a pack of Xmas face masks. They're quite jolly.  Christmas starts here.

Saturday I was working as usual. Cycling in it was pretty cold today. My new saddle bag did the job. I can't fit very much in it though. All I managed to take today, aside from my lunch, apron and small handbag, was one toilet roll out of a pack of six. At this rate it will take two weeks to take the whole pack into work!!

I understand an arctic weather front is on it's way next week. I had an okay day. I didn't feel like I achieved a whole lot. I was back processing Gift Aid donations. I did manage to put away some out of season stock into a cupboard to clear some space in the stockroom and to rearrange the toy corner of the stockroom and get some toys out into the shop, so some progress was made.

I was happy to get home tonight and be able to chill for a couple of days. I started my new medication on Saturday night, so I have two days off to get used to it. OH and I booked some tickets to go and see Handel's Messiah at St Martyn in the Fields in Trafalgar Square the week before Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, there were only restricted view tickets left on sale, but hopefully we'll enjoy it all the same.

Hope you've had a good week.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 14th November 2021

This week started is it's usual slow and chilled way. I got up, showered, put on some washing and then took the dog out for a long walk. When I got back I made some lunch and watched a few YouTube videos. Quite a few people I follow post on Sundays, so there are always quite a few to catch up on.

After lunch, I decided to head up to the sewing room and try to machine sew the chair cover that I'd been working on the day before. It took quite a few hours to complete, approximately 4, because I made a few mistakes and had to redo bits of it. Eventually though, it was finished, which felt very satisfying because it's the first time I've ever made anything so complicated without a pattern.

I used some crimping shears to cut any excess fabric off the inside edges, crimp them to stop them fraying and to reduce bulk and then I put it back on the chair to check that it looked okay, which it did. There's just a few loose threads to finish off and some velcro to sew on to it so that it fits more snugly and then I need to make the cushion cover to match. I'm hoping to have it finished before Christmas, as we're probably going to move back into the back reception room where the chair is this winter, as it is much cosier and has the wood burner (although we're not intending to use it much because of the pollution it causes).

For supper, OH went out to get us a takeaway, which was a very rare treat and he also picked up a few bits of shopping that we needed.  After supper, I did the washing up, which had been collecting for a couple of days, hung out some laundry and then OH and I finished watching a film about Anti-slavery campaigner Harriet Tubman on Netflix, which was very good. There seem to have been lots of new things added to Netflix this month which is good. We shall enjoy watching many of them.

Monday, was a pretty normal unexciting day too. Zumba in the morning, weekly shop, the usual. In the afternoon, I had every intention of doing some ironing, but felt really tired, so I had a nap on the sofa before taking the dog for a walk.

When I got back, I got myself into gear and cooked up some offal for the dog, made some pickled red onion for my salads through the week and then peeled and froze some shallots that we grew on the allotment. After doing all this I cleared and washed up and then sat down to watch some TV. OH and LB went to the local cinema to see Dune, but it wasn't my kind of thing, so I stayed home and had a very chilled evening.

Tuesday, I was back at work. I took the electric bike. I was disappointed that it only knocked 10 minutes off my commute, but I was a lot less tired after riding it, which is probably more significant. It can really whizz up an inclines, which is fantastic. I'd put aside a special saddle bag type thing at work to see if it would fit the electric bike, but unfortunately the rack on the bike was too wide, so I'll need to carry a rucksack to work for the forseeable, at least until we get some sort of bag that will fit the rack.

There was lots to do when I got to work, especially as I hadn't been there for three days. I just got stuck in and got through most of what I wanted to achieve. 

On Wednesday I was due at the doctor's to have some blood tests at 11.10 am, so I walked the dog and then headed there. I had to fast from waking up because one blood test was for cholesterol which required it. However, when I got to the doctor's surgery, I wasn't booked in for this test and was told I had to get the doctor's permission to have it. I was not pleased having fasted for over 12 hours. The HCA said she did take the test, so hopefully that, at least, was one more thing done from my to do list. This one's been on there for a good six months.

For the remainder of Wednesday, I did more of the ironing on my ironing pile, which was quite large. I watched an Xmas movie as I did so, which made it more bearable.

Thursday and I was back at work, my last working day this week as I took Saturday as time in lieu for the extra hours I did whilst the Manager was away. I did so because OH and I were going to Cardiff for the weekend.

Work on Thursday was okay, but whilst on my way home on my bike I witnessed the aftermath of some sort of accident on my cycle route. Not sure if it was a pedestrian or a cyclist that was lying in the road being attended to by paramedics, but it was a horrible reminder of the dangers of cycling. I hope they weren't too badly injured.

On Friday, I spent the morning packing for our weekend away and tidying up the house before we left. We set off after 1pm, taking the dog with us. We were staying in a hotel opposite Cardiff Castle, in the centre of Cardiff for two nights. OH was attending a track cycling event just outside of Cardiff and we decided to make a weekend of it. We didn't realise that our weekend coincided with a big Wales rugby match on the Sunday, at the Cardiff Arms stadium a stone's throw from the hotel, so the city was very busy.

On Friday night, we took a walk around the part of the city centre and ate at an authentic Indian street food restaurant which was nice.  A bit too spicy for my taste, but good. We then had a drink in the hotel bar before retiring for the night.

On Saturday morning, we headed off to the velodrome where OH was competing and I stayed to watch some of the races. He then took me back to Cardiff centre and returned alone for the afternoon session. I then took the dog on a walk around Bute Park, opposite our hotel and found a few charity shops that would allow her in, so I could do a bit of shopping. We caught the bus back to the hotel though, as by the time we had finished, we were both very tired.

Later, after OH got back, we had arranged to meet up with a friend of his from University and went out to an Italian restaurant in a quieter part of town, where we had a lovely meal and a good catch up, as we hadn't seen his friend for a good few years. This was followed by a drink in a local bar, before heading back to the hotel.

On Sunday, we got up early and took the dog for a walk around the perimeter of the walls of Cardiff Castle before heading to breakfast.  We had to check out of the hotel quite early, as the roads get closed off for the rugby match and we didn't want to get trapped there whilst crowds of fans descended. We headed off home, making a couple of stops on the way. One to walk the dog along the beach of the estuary under the old Severn Bridge.

The second was a bit of a diversion to the Oxfam Superstore in Oxford, which I've always been curious to visit. It's a new concept large charity store, housed in a purpose built warehouse type building on a business park, with a cafe and vast sales floor. It was interesting to see it and of course, I couldn't help but buy a few bits whilst I was there.  We also had some food in the cafe, which was very tasty and reasonably priced.

After this second stop, we headed back to London, happy to be home again after a busy weekend.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 6th November 2021

This week started very slowly as I got a lovely lie in due to the clocks going back and also due to OH taking the dog for a walk for a change on Sunday.

As a consequence, I had a very chilled day. The only productive things I did were to hang out some laundry and to water all of my houseplants and pot a couple of them on. I also rearranged them and moved some of them around, which I'd been meaning to do for a while.

The rest of the afternoon I spent catching up on YouTube videos and just taking it easy.

I took the dog for an early evening walk at about 4pm, before it got dark and the trick or treaters were out and fireworks set off. We didn't go far.

LB was going out to a Halloween party, so I made a hot pot for OH and I and then we watched a fact based drama called The Trick, about the hacking of selected emails written by climate change scientist Philip Jones. It was really interesting, but also quite thought provoking, bearing in mind where we are today on this issue.

On Monday, I was up and out to the gym. I'd managed to book into the class this week. It was good, but I needed to leave 10 minutes early, as my friend was feeling unwell, so I offered to drive her home. She texted later to say she was feeling better, which was good.

I then went on to do the weekly shop. Prices are rising. I can tell by how much I'm spending each week, even when we don't need a lot of groceries.

In the afternoon, I did a bit of ironing, before taking the dog out for a walk.

Tuesday, I was back at work. The Shop Manager wasn't yet back and wouldn't be until the end of the week, so I couldn't hand over the reins just yet. Anyway, I didn't need to be in until 1pm, so I did a few jobs about the house, one of which had been on my to do list for months and felt very satisfying.

I worked the afternoon only, as I was needed to work two full days later in the week. I had quite a productive afternoon. We don't have many donations of clothes at the moment, so I spent some time finding clothing that had been stored away in different parts of the stockroom, to help replenish the shop.  This also helped to clear some space which was good. 

A former volunteer, who is now managing another shop, dropped in this afternoon, and it was lovely to see her and catch up for a while.  She also brought us a lovely box of chocolates, which was super nice of her. Later, I spent some time pricing hats, scarves and gloves, As the weather has finally turned cold, these things seem to be selling very well now and we have lots of them.

On Wednesday, I was up and out with the dog earlier than I normally am on my days off.  I've been waking very early since the clocks went back. I think my body clock is out of sync. Whilst out, I decided to try to make good use of my time and made a couple of phone calls, to book a dental appointment and some blood tests at the doctors, both of which were long overdue.

I was disappointed to find that I have now been dropped from my dentist's NHS patient list, because I hadn't had a check up in two years. I had no idea that this was the process and had just received my first reminder since Lockdown, that I needed to book a checkup. Typically, this was after the two years were up and I now have to book as a private patient. 

I feel like they have used the Pandemic as an excuse to underhandedly carry out a cull of their NHS patient list, but as it's difficult enough to get any sort of health appointment at the moment, I booked an appointment anyway, making sure to make my disappointment at their behaviour known.

Anyway, this didn't put me in a good mood for the day, so in the afternoon, I decided to try to get myself out of my funk by doing some cleaning. The house has been in a terrible state for months now, as I've just not had the energy on my days off to tackle it, but I needed to make a start sometime or it was never going to get done.

I decided to start in the living room and second reception room, as these are the rooms we relax in at night, so it's nice if they are clean and comfortable, and besides, I'd treated us to a new small rug, but didn't want to put it down until the room was clean. I'd also recently bought some new candles and I motivated myself with the thought of being able to burn one of them once it was done.

I put some records on the record player, to soothe me whilst I worked and off I went. It didn't take too long (2-3 hours) and then I moved out into the hall and vacuumed and mopped there, I cleaned downstairs in the vestibule and the downstairs toilet and I also vacuumed the stairs up to the upstairs landing.  There were quite a few things to relocate to thin things out a bit, but it looked nice and cosy when it was done and I felt much better (although quite tired). 

It feels good to finally give our home a bit of love, as it has been a bit neglected of late and I felt like I'd done something productive on my day off too, which I don't feel has been the case for weeks. I'll try to tackle upstairs and the kitchen later this week or next week, when things have finally got back to normal at work.

On Thursday, I was in work early at 10am, to oversee the collection of unsold stock, which is then distributed to other shops for another chance to be sold.  I had to be there to open the shop and to let the guys in for the sacks. It's not been quite as busy in the shop this week, donations are still low too. To be honest, it gives me a chance to get around to doing other jobs that I never get time to do.  

Today, for example, I took out all the ladies shoes that have been in the shop for more than two weeks and have not sold, and then replaced them with new stock. I also went through the mound of shoes in the stockroom and sent some of it on to other shops and boxed some summer shoes up, to put into storage until the spring. The shoe section now looks much less overwhelming as a consequence.

The Shop Manager is now returning on Saturday, so I was required to work on Friday this week instead of Saturday. Two full working days in a row and cycling to work on both days is tiring, but then I'll get three days off over the weekend.

I set off early to get to work on Friday. The dust bunnies had grown in the week since I had last vacuumed, so I wanted to get in early and run the vacuum cleaner around again. Mornings are cold now when cycling in on my bike and my arms get quite cold. I need to start wearing an extra layer soon.

The day was going okay until I was called up to the shop in the afternoon, as an incident had occurred between two customers. I can't go into detail, but it wasn't a great situation. I just couldn't believe it. I ended up having to call my Area Manager about it and file a report. The rest of the day went okay, but boy was I glad to finally get home and be away from the place for three days.

As it was Fireworks Night, I was able to watch everyone's fireworks displays on the way home. There was a particularly good one at one point, which I think must have been done by professional pyrotechinic technicians. One advantage of riding my bike at least.

It felt really strange not to go to work on Saturday. I've only had Saturdays off when we've gone away or when I've been ill or in Lockdown, for the most part of this year, so I almost didn't know what to do with myself. 

In the end, I decided to continue work on making a chair cover for our old armchair. I'd started it over six months ago, during the last lockdown and had just pinned fabric onto the chair. It had remained like that for the intervening months, so it was great to finally get around to tacking all the pieces of fabric together and removing the pins.  

I can now take it off the chair and try to machine sew the whole thing together. Once I've done that, I need to add velcro to parts of it to secure it to the chair. It felt like I'd made good progress on it anyway. It's far from perfect, but better than the stretch cover I bought and used for a while. It will at least allow us to lengthen the life of a very comfortable but scruffy armchair, which we would probably otherwise throw out.

Mid afternoon on Saturday, OH suggested that we take the electric bike out, so that could I get used to riding it and then I'd be able to use it for work. I've avoided doing this for over 2 months now, as I've been so tired on my days off, so it was a good opportunity. I was very surprised at the speed and power of the bike. It took me by surprise at first, but I got used to it after a while. 

I'm now actually looking forward to taking it to work on Tuesday, as it should cut quite a bit of time off my commute and I'll be able to ride up one particularly steep hill on my route, which I currently walk up on the way home. I'll let you know how it goes and how long the journey takes me using it.

The rest of the day, I just took it very easy, in order to recover from work.  Hopefully, by tomorrow, I'll be feeling much more refreshed and will start the week by getting more jobs ticked off my to do list.

I hope you've had a productive week.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 30th October

The week didn't get off to a great start after a bad day at work on Saturday. As a consequence, I decided to go into work on Sunday afternoon, to finish resolving the issues caused by the till not working properly. I soon regretted it when I got to the bus stop and realised I didn't have my Oyster card with me, so I had to buy another one and top it up to travel. 

I also realised I'd forgotten my house keys too, although this wasn't a big problem.  When the bus came it was very full, which wasn't great and I straight away wished I'd taken my bike, but cycling two days in a row was just too tiring.

When I finally got to work, I think I got everything as resolved as I possibly could in the circumstances. The till was back working, so the day went pretty smoothly. The shop seemed quite quiet on Sunday, compared to weekdays, so I did some different stockroom tasks for a change, as I was only there for a few hours.

I bought a few bits that I'd put aside when I left today, including some new boots for everyday wear for work, a nightdress (new), a plant pot and a book for OH for Xmas. 

When I left work, I headed for the underground to go and meet up with LB and OH at a cinema near Canary Wharf, as we were going to go and watch the new James Bond film. The film was enjoyable, but long. I won't give any spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. It was nice to go out and do something we hadn't done in over 18 months, but I was equally glad to eventually get home and get to bed after a long day.

On Monday, it was good to have a day off. I didn't manage to get booked into my usual Zumba class, as it was full and I'd left it too late. Instead, I walked the dog and then headed off to do the weekly shop at Lidl. The few things I couldn't get there, I got from a nearby Sainsbury's this week.

When I got home, I spent a couple of hours catching up with the ironing. I didn't manage to do it all, but focused mainly on clothes that I needed for work, so that I at least have a choice of outfits once again.

In the evening, I had a shower in readiness for returning to work the next day and then OH and I watched some TV for an hour or two.

Tuesday, I was back at work at 10am instead of my usual 12 noon, to cover the Manager's absence. There were still unresolved problems with the till, but it was working for the most part. I managed to get everything that I needed to do done, despite spending a fair amount of time when I got there, just tidying up the stockroom before starting work. 

I can't stand to work in a mess, it stops me concentrating on what I have to do, as I constantly get distracted and veer off to sort out something that catches my eye. If I get everything tidy before I begin, I can just focus and get my work done, whilst maintaining the tidiness as I go along. I'm quite a stickler for a tidy stockroom, mostly for Health and Safety reasons, but also because that's just how I like to roll.

At the end of the day, I made a couple of stupid errors that I couldn't rectify, but never mind. Sometimes I'm just rushing too much and don't pay enough attention to what I'm doing. I'm human after all.

Wednesday was another day off. I was feeling quite tired, so after walking the dog, I did a bit of laundry and caught up on a few YouTube videos whilst having some lunch. I ended up having a nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It felt very indulgent, but was necessary. I think the extra hours I'd worked and all the stress at work had taken their toll on me.

In the evening, we watched a couple of episodes of University Challenge together as a family, which is always fun.

On Thursday, I wasn't due into work until 2pm, so I took my time getting showered and ready in the morning and then took the dog out without having to rush as much as usual. In the end, I set off early though and got there for about 1ish. Today was bitty. The donation cages were virtually empty, so I was able to do I  a bit of this and a bit of that all afternoon. I don't mind this so much, as I get to do things that I don't always have the time for, which makes my work more varied and enjoyable.

It was a busy day in the shop, which was good.  Central London seems to be bustling at the moment, even busier than before the first Lockdown. There are people everywhere, the pavements are full of people going about their business. It's nice to see, but also a bit overwhelming if I'm honest, after the post-Lockdown quiet streets.

When I got home later, I decided to open a bottle of wine and have a glass or two. Just one more day to work this week and it's my Sunday/Monday weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to it this week.

Friday was payday, so I spent some of the morning doing some financial calculations and reconciliations. In the afternoon, I felt like getting out of the house, so I paid a visit to our local Poundland. I'd not been for a few weeks. I bought another pair of black leggings, some food and a couple of other bits and pieces, including some Xmas gifts (chocolate).

I then headed across the way to our local TK Maxx. Despite having ordered some things online last week, I fancied a wander around the shop. I ended up buying two new mugs for me for my morning cup of tea, some Xmas gifts for OH (coffee and coffee beans) and the dog (treats).

Finally, I dropped into ASDA for a few bits of food top up shopping. I also needed some gin, so bought as big a bottle as I could of the basic Asda gin, to last me as long as possible. I also bought a couple of bottles of other spirits for OH and LB as Christmas gifts. So I made a start to the Christmas shopping at least.

When I got home, I bought another gift for OH on eBay. His main gift is going to be some new cycling shoes, which will be very expensive, but it will be a combined Birthday/Xmas gift, as I didn't get him much for his birthday this year. He needs to go to the cycle shop and try them on though and choose a pair, so I'm reliant on him to do that. I probably won't buy him much more now, than the bits I've already bought.

LB is a whole other subject. I think she'll probably want money more than anything this year. We've reduced the number of people we're buying for this year, so I don't have as much Xmas shopping to do, which is good.

Saturday, I was back at work again. I got there at 9.20am, so that I had time to vacuum the shop and stockroom before we open at 10am. I probably won't get another chance to do this until after Xmas now, as I don't start early enough to do it when there's no customers in the shop. I may try to do it once a week after the shop closes, as those dust bunnies grow so quickly.

Anyway, the day was steady. Not as busy as I would like, but pretty uneventful and I managed to get a lot of work done. I went in on the bus today, as it was raining when I set off.  The journey in wasn't so bad, as the bus wasn't that busy, but coming home I had to let 3 or 4 buses go past before one came that had any empty seats. I still really don't like being crammed on public transport when there's so much Covid still around.

Saturday night I just crashed on the sofa.  OH and I watched the last couple of episodes of a documentary series about New Labour, which we've been enjoying.  I've got two days off from tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it, it's been a tough week workwise.

I hope you've had a good week.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 23rd October 2021

Back in London after our holiday in Whitby, it was back to normal for me this week. The week started with OH calling to say he'd crashed his bike on his Sunday ride. He was okay, but had to make his way back home on the train, as there was a mechanical problem with his bike. 

I went out on a dog walk, only to find there had been a violent attack on someone 200 metres from our house. Police had cordoned off the road and a forensic tent was set up. I heard later that it hadn't been fatal, which is good, but not a nice thing for the victim nor to come back to after being on holiday.

Anyway, the rest of Sunday was uneventful thank goodness. I spent most of the day catching up on financial stuff after our holiday, reconciling receipts, writing a grocery shopping list, etc. Other than that, it was a pretty chilled day. I ordered a few bits on eBay, that I'd put off ordering, as I didn't want them to arrive whilst we were away. I also placed a Cherryz and a TK Maxx order of a few things mostly for the house.

Monday, was a bit busier. I was due at the gym at 10am for my Zumba class. My teacher's father had just died, which was very sad. She's had a lot of difficulties in the last couple of years and this just added to them. However, she soldiered on and took the class inspite of this, which was good as always.

After leaving the gym, I headed off to do the weekly grocery shop. We needed a lot this week, as we'd used everything up when we went away, or took what was left with us, so the fridge was virtually empty.  In addition, the toaster had given up the ghost the day before we went on holiday. It started fusing all the electrics in the house, so I needed to buy another one.

I started off at Home Bargains as I needed a few toiletries that I knew I could get from there. I bought mostly food, but a few other things got thrown in, as they always do when shopping there. When I came away, the traffic was terrible and I couldn't get to Lidl to do my grocery shop, so I had to stop off at a very large Tesco store and do it there, in the hope that the traffic would have eased by the time it was done.

I managed to find a toaster in there that I liked. When looking online, I hadn't found any I liked. They all seem to be over designed these days with all sorts of knobs, retro styling and decorative touches that aren't to my taste. The one I eventually bought was very simple, both in looks and workings, which suited me just fine. I did have to opt for the 4 slice though, as they didn't have the 2 slice in stock, so it takes up a bit more room on the kitchen counter.

By the time I got home from doing the shopping, it was past 3pm. I caught up on a bit of YouTube watching and then headed out to walk the dog. In the evening, after supper, I had a shower and participated in some self-care (eyebrows!) in readiness for returning to work the next day.

On Tuesday I had to go back to work. It felt strange getting back on my bike after a week of not riding it. When I got to work, I found out that our Manager was going on leave at the end of the week, which I wasn't expecting. I got stuck in and by the end of the day, I felt like I'd not really had a holiday at all, which is usual for me on returning to work.

On Wednesday, I was quite tired after cycling to work the previous day, so I didn't really do much for most of the day. I had to go up to the optician's to pick up my new glasses as they were ready, but afterwards I just chilled at home, sorted a bit of laundry, did a bit of washing up and binged on Netflix in the afternoon.

On Thursday, I was feeling a bit more rested and headed back to work. It was a strange day with a lot of distractions. I just about managed to get most of the things done that I needed to, but it wasn't easy to do so. I borrowed OH's Garmin today and used it to track my ride to work for the first time ever. It was 10.25 km or 6.2 miles each way, which was about what I thought, but it was interesting to measure it and see the speed I was riding at. It kept me amused on the ride either way in any case.

In the evening, OH and I started watching a new series on Catchup called Paris Police 1900. It's a historical police drama, set in Paris at the turn of the 20th Century. It's a bit gruesome, but it was very watchable. 

On Friday, I read in bed for a while and then got up and took the dog for a walk. When I got back my TK Maxx order had arrived. I'd ordered a couple of candles for the autumn/winter season, a small rug for the living room, a new sheet for our bed, some pillowcases, a new salad spinner and oven dish, a gift for OH for Xmas and a Hylauronic Acid serum for me. I'd made sure to spend enough to qualify for free postage, but everything I bought was needed, either to replace something worn out or because we'd run out of it.

My Cherryz order had also arrived the day before, but I'd been too tired to open it when I got in from work, so I opened that too and put everything away.

In the afternoon, I decided to retire to my sewing room and try to make a new apron for work. The ones I made during lockdown are getting a bit scruffy and are not a particularly flattering fit either. I'd bought a pattern probably six months ago, to make a 1940's style apron that is quite fitted, but hadn't touched it since, so I proceeded to cut out the pattern pieces and find a few fabrics from which to make it. 

I hadn't done any sewing for a while, so it was quite exciting to get stuck into a new project from scratch. I love the feeling of using up fabrics from my stash, as I still have so much fabric to find a use for.

Anyway, the pattern used way too much fabric, with a wrap around skirt at the back, which I just didn't need and straps over the shoulders that attached to the back skirt. In the end, I amended the pieces I'd cut out to make it halter necked, with a tie back. This used about a meter of fabric which was better.

It took five hours to finish, as there were no written instructions on piecing the garment together and it took a lot of time to work out the best way to adjust it and then sew it all together.  I did baste some bits before machine sewing them to make sure it would work, but the finished item was okay and a bit more flattering.  I might need to do a few more minor adjustments when I make the next one, but I think it will be quicker, as I will have more idea of what I'm doing. I made a little drawstring bag to carry it in too, as always, so it was ready to go. I took it to work on Saturday to give it a trial run. It held up okay.

Talking of Saturday, I had to be in earlier to cover the shop from 10am in the Manager's absence. Luckily, OH does a double dog walk on Saturdays, which made it easier. When I got to work, I ran the vacuum cleaner around the shop and captured all the dust bunnies. I can only do this if I get there before the customers start coming in.

Unfortunately, the day got off to a terrible start, as when we opened the till wasn't working and we had to figure out ways to keep taking payments without it. We muddled through and eventually, later in the day, it did work okay again, but it made it very difficult to reconcile the figures at the end of the day and I had to stay quite late to do what I could in this regard. Not a good end to the week and typically it happened as soon as the Shop Manager went on leave. I feel like recently there's a bit of a jinx in this regard.

Hoping for a better week next week.

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 16th October 2021 - Part Two

The second half of our week away in Whitby began on Wednesday.  After spending the first two days exploring the town, we decided to go a little further afield and visit Staithes and Runswick Bay, which had been recommended to us.

We started off in Staithes where you need to park at the top of the village and walk down a steep hill to the harbour. It is a pretty little fishing village with lovely little cottages and cobbled streets. No cars (save for those of residents and workmen, etc.) are allowed down in the village.

We had lunch at a pub and sat outside with a great view of the harbour. Afterwards, we went onto the beach with the dog to play and I built a few sandcastles for her to destroy. Then we walked back up the hill and back to the car.

Next, we needed to get some petrol, so we drove on a little to the nearest petrol station.  I bought a few food items we needed, then we drove through part of the North Yorkshire Moors to Runswick Bay. This bay is a real gem. A volunteer in a charity shop had recommended we visit and it really was worth it. A beautiful beach sheltered within a bay, with the village nestled into the cliffs. We enjoyed a walk along the lovely sandy beach and back and then headed back to Whitby.

By the time we got back it was gone 5pm, so we ate in and stayed home for the rest of the evening, watching a few episodes of University Challenge on catchup, which is a family tradition that we all enjoy. LB and OH also watched Squid Game on Netflix, but it wasn't really my thing.

On Thursday morning, OH headed out for a cycle ride, so I needed to get up to walk the dog, but not before spending half an hour or so in bed with my latest book. It is called 'I'll Drink to That' and is the story of Betty Halbreich, who ran the personal shopping service at Bergdorf Goodman in New York for forty years. It's a really interesting read about her life, loves, work and fashion from the 1940's to the present day.

Once up and ready, I headed out with the dog. We walked down to the beach and the West Cliff Pier which we walked along until it got way too windy for my liking, so we headed back to the harbour. On the way back, we saw what I was later informed was a guillimot bird stranded on the beach, unable to fly. It was being attacked by a couple of crows, so we headed back down to the beach to scare them off. Poor little thing. 

A couple who were on the beach, told me that a lot of birds seemed to be dying off locally, but no-one had figured out why or what was causing it.  Anyway, they told me about the Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, so I googled and rang them and they arranged for a lovely lady volunteer to come out and pick up the bird to see what they could do to help it.

I then headed home happy in the knowledge that I'd done what I could and waited for OH to return before we headed out to lunch.

After lunch at a local cafe, OH and I left the dog at the house and headed over to the Captain Cook Museum. The museum was very interesting and was housed in a house where Cook had lived. It belonged to the man who owned the first ship that Cook sailed on and under whom he served his seafaring apprenticeship. There were interesting to East London, where Cook lived when in England, once he had married. It was definitely worth a visit.

On leaving the museum, we met up with LB, did a little bit of shopping and then headed to an Irish pub for a drink on the way home.

Friday was our last day in Whitby and we still had a few things left that we wanted to do. OH and I headed out in the morning to buy a print he'd seen earlier in the week in a local gallery. It will be perfect for our hallway. We also popped to a local butcher to get a few things for his mum and I did my usual visit to Boyes, which I do whenever I'm in Yorkshire.

After our final lunch back at the house, LB came out with us in the afternoon and we headed back down to the harbour where she and OH amused themselves in the local amusement arcades, whilst I took the dog for a last walk on the beach.

Later, we bought take out fish and chips that we ate at the house before heading out in the evening to join the local Ghost Walk. This was a lot of fun and took us to a few parts of Whitby that we hadn't yet explored. They'll have to wait for our next visit. The guide was funny and the stories interesting and we just enjoyed the experience. It was a great end to our week.

We were thoroughly charmed by this small Yorkshire fishing/seaside town. It had something for everyone, was not too commercial and was a thoroughly enjoyable place to stay, I'd recommend it to anyone. I'm just sad that we couldn't stay on to see next week's Goth Weekend, which occurs twice each year, when Goths from all over the country and probably the world descend on the town to celebrate it's infamous connection to Bram Stoker and the Dracula story. 

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 16th October 2021 - Part One

This week was a very different one. Mainly because we went on holiday for a week to Whitby in Yorkshire. We'd booked a cottage a few weeks ago, to have a family holiday this time, with LB joining us. We thought about going abroad, but didn't have anyone to look after the dog and didn't fancy dealing with the red tape and paperwork around Covid, so we decided on another UK holiday. 

We chose Whitby, as we wanted to visit family on the way up and back down, but didn't want to stay anywhere we knew too well and although we've visited Whitby on daytrips a few times, we'd never stayed there or really explored what it had to offer. 

We set off on Sunday after a few hours rushing around trying to pack and leave the house in a reasonable state. I hate coming back to a mess, so I always try to leave it tidy.

The journey was good, as we were travelling on Sunday morning/afternoon, so not much traffic. We stopped off at OH's parents on our way up, for a visit and refreshments. It was nice to see them and see that his dad is doing okay. He looked a lot better than our last visit in July at least. We stayed a couple of hours and then completed the last leg of our journey up to Whitby.

The cottage/house was beautiful and very big, sleeping 8 people. It was also very close to the town centre and the beach which was perfect. The owner had left us some Ginger biscuits, a Brack cake and some Yorkshire tea from the local Deli, which was very kind. We settled ourselves in, had a bit of supper, (I'd brought a few bits with us) and then chilled for the first evening of our holiday, after our long journey. 

I didn't sleep well the first night, I never really do when I go away. I think my mind races to offload all the stresses of the previous weeks and I can never quite settle, so the next morning I was pretty tired when I got up.

It was also my birthday, so we got off to a leisurely start. I opened my cards and presents and then started my jigsaw over breakfast. Then we walked to the local shops and bought a few provisions for the week. We didn't get much, just some salad, ham, fruits and bread/milk, etc.  As we were so centrally located within the town, we intended to eat out at least once on most days and then have a simple salad/sandwich for the other meal. 

LB and I did a bit of thrift shopping in a couple of charity shops. I found myself a pair of virtually new walking boots for £5.50, as I'd forgotten to bring mine. I also bought a brand new grey cable knit cardigan for the winter months for £5, (the tag said £40), so that was a bargain. When we'd got everything we needed, we the headed back to the house for lunch. 

After lunch, we all walked down to the beach and had a stroll along the sand, breathing in the lovely sea air. The dog was loving it. We then walked back up the cliff and treated ourselves to hot chocolate at the top, before heading home again. 

In the evening, we headed out for supper to a restaurant on the riverside. It was a seafood restaurant, but I don't really eat fish, so chose something else from the menu. It was a nice evening, and great to be able to walk everywhere.  I slept like a log that evening and woke up feeling totally refreshed and ready to start our holiday proper.

Day Two of our holiday also got off to a slow start. I did a bit of my jigsaw before having a shower and getting ready, whilst OH did a training session on his Zwift set up. Once we were all up and ready, we headed into town for lunch and to walk the dog. The weather today had started off raining, and the dog hadn't wanted to go for much of a walk, but by the time we headed out it had stopped and was turning into a nice day. LB decided not to come with us today and stayed home to chill instead.

We stopped off at a lovely cafe around the corner for lunch and then headed into the town by a different way.  En route, I noticed some small succulent plants in one of the Charity shops and stopped off to buy a couple at £1.20 each. We walked along the main high street of shops this time and I popped into a couple more charity shops.

We stopped to watch a couple crabbing near the harbour. They had caught a huge crab, bigger than I'd ever seen anyone catch whilst crabbing. They said they were going to put it back in the water though.

We made our way to the Captain Cook Museum, but as we weren't able to take the dog in, we decided we would visit another day to take a look around.  We did go into Whitby Jet Museum though.  This was a very small museum with free entry and was very interesting, as it told about the history of Whitby jet and how it was created over millions of years from fallen trees (similar the the Monkey Puzzle tree) which hardened over time. It was fascinating. There were also lots of exhibits of things made from Whitby jet, which was also interesting and a huge piece, purported to be the biggest piece of Whitby jet in the world. I loved it, well worth the visit. There are many jewellers in Whitby selling pieces of jewellery made from Whitby Jet and I kept an eye out for some earrings, but they were pretty expensive so I didn't buy any.

From there, we wandered down the cobbled streets, past the 199 steps to the Abbey, to another beach beneath the cliff where the Abbey stands. Here I looked out for jet after reading how to in the Museum. Unfortunately, however, all I found were pieces of sea smoothed coal.

We continued right to the end of one of the harbour walls and beyond the light house along wooden boardwalks which was lovely.  Looking back toward the shore, you could see the Abbey and the whole town spread out before you. We came back into town across another small beach and by this time it was 5pm, so we headed home, the dog was tired and we had spent the whole afternoon wandering the town.

Later in the evening, we headed out to a nearby pub for their Bingo Night. We didn't win anything, although almost everyone in our half of the pub did, the girl on the table next to us won the final jackpot of over £350. Lucky thing. It was fun though.

Whitby is such an interesting little town with lovely cobbled streets, alleyways, great shops, cafes, galleries, museums, etc. Such a great place to explore. A bit difficult if you have difficulty with steep hills and steps, but otherwise a fabulous place to visit. Staying there was such a different experience to being a daytripper.