Monday, 31 May 2021

Weekly Diary W/E 29th May

After a few very unproductive weeks, I decided to make a bit of an effort this week and try to do a bit more on my days off. I didn't start off too well, as on Sundays I always like to take it easy, but I did begin the day by hanging out some laundry and then I went through the three bags of clothes that LB was throwing out after her bedroom clearout, to see if there was anything I wanted to keep. 

On this occasion, there were just two items, one was a cute gingham summer dress that I decided to hang on to and the second an M&S plaid skirt that looks okay on. The dress needs a little bit of alteration to improve the fit, but it is very pretty. I bagged up the rest and later took them to the donation bank, along with some other bits of my own that I no longer wanted to keep. I also dropped off some books that I'd read recently to the Little Free Library, so that was a good few unwanted things leaving the house today. I did pick up one non-fiction book from the Little Free Library and I also picked up a few groceries on the way back, as I hate to have an empty fruit bowl.

I've taken a liking to eating instant porridge lately. I'm not sure if it's a comfort thing during the recent spell of rainy weather.  I've started to mix in some chopped hazelnuts, sultanas and chia seeds which made it extra special and yummy.  One great thing about the weather we've been having recently, is that the garden is looking very lush and green. Gooseberries and blueberries are growing on the bushes and everything seems to be thriving, even things that haven't really thrived in previous years seem to be doing well this year.

On Monday, I had a few bits and pieces of paperwork to do. The first task was to get some paperwork together for work, for the renewal of my DBS or Criminal Records check. I needed to copy several identity documents to take to work the following day. I then went on to do a bit of financial paperwork and check my state pension forecast, which had increased since I last looked. I also found that I now need just 3 more years of National Insurance contributions to qualify for a full state pension, which was encouraging.  I also looked at a couple of old workplace pensions that are due to mature and be paid to me when I'm 60, in 5 years time. I don't know if I'll defer these until I'm 65, so that they will hopefully increase in value, or start taking them from the age of 60. It's not a huge sum, but definitely worth having. I like to keep abreast of where I'm at pension wise, to help motivate me to continue to save towards retirement.

I also managed to get LB to set up an online account for her Child Trust Fund, which matured earlier this year and has now been transferred into an ISA. It's only taken 5 months to get around to it. I was happy when she did though, as I was able to see what the current balance is. What with that and a savings account I started years ago to save towards her university fees, there is now a healthy £12k set aside. I could have put more away if I had been more proactive over the years, but I will continue to put money aside for her every month until she goes to Uni next year and even whilst she's there and this should definitely help towards keeping her student debts as low as possible.

On Tuesday, I returned to work. As always there was plenty to do. When I got on the bus home I noticed that I'd had a message from my GP surgery inviting me to book my 2nd Covid vaccination, so I did that straight away and booked an appointment on Bank Holiday Monday. I know this is a strange day to go, but I've not got anything else planned and the shop isn't opening, so it makes no difference to me. I'm just happy to get it as soon as I can and that was the first date available.

LB informed me later that night that she'd got an interview for a part-time waitressing job with the same brewery company she used to work for,  before she was made redundant during Lockdown, but at a different pub/restaurant. She went for the interview on Wednesday and thought it went well. She found out on Thursday that she'd got the job and will be put on the rota in 10 days time, which is good news.

On Wednesday, I didn't really get around to a great deal on my day off as I felt pretty tired. I did go out and do a top up grocery shop though and posted some cards off to my sister in Australia. The remainder of the day was pretty chilled. I did a bit of sewing on my quilt whilst watching Nomadland on Disney+. OH subscribed for a month mainly for this film, which was very good but sad. I'm sure there'll be lots of other things on there that we'll find to watch before the month is up.

Thursday at work was busy as usual. I have to say that I'm actually feeling quite tired at the moment. The last two months getting the shop up and running has been quite intense and feels like much longer than just two months. I'm starting to feel like I need a break, so maybe my Jury Service coming up will give me that. I'm taking the time off as annual leave, despite the fact that I'm entitled to it by law, because I had so much time off last year due to Lockdown, that I don't want the charity to be out of pocket again by my absence. It's my decision and just a small way I can give back to my employer after the devastation that Covid has brought.

Friday was a leisurely day. OH went away for a few days with his cycling friends, to some event in Yorkshire. LB also went out for the day, so it was just me at home. I have to say I quite enjoyed it. I spent a bit of time in the garden pottering, putting a few plants in and doing a bit of weeding. I haven't done that for a good while, what with all the rain.

Most of the rest of the day was spent doing financial month end stuff and then later I popped up to the chemist to get a prescription and pick up some lateral flow tests, whilst out with the dog. I've decided I'm going to test myself every week now that I'm back out at work, especially with the new variant of the virus doing the rounds.

Saturday, I was back to work. As work days go it was okay. I didn't overdo it for once and just took it steady. The buses on the way home were so full that I had to let 3 go past, preferring not to get on them. That added 20 minutes to my commute home, but better to be a bit cautious.

On Sunday, I had the day and evening to myself again.  LB was heading out to stay at a friend's house for the evening, so it was going to be just me and the dog. I decided that we'd have a little outing to my favourite vintage shop. It meant a bus ride and a walk through a different park, which I thought would be a bit of a change for us both and would get me out and about on the Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was a bit overcast when I set out but soon warmed up. I found a few cute things, filling just a small bag for £10. We caught two buses home, as we were pretty tired, and then just chilled at home for the rest of the day.  At least the dog didn't need another walk as we'd been out for over 4 hours. 

I watched a great film on Netflix on Sunday night called Your Version of 40. It was funny.

It's been a slightly more productive week this week, which is good. I'm gradually coming out of my Lockdown hibernation and venturing out again, but only very slowly.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Lockdown W/E 22nd May

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done my usual weekly post. I 've started to write them, but then never quite got around to posting them for one reason or another, so they got deleted and I started afresh with a post for this week. 

To be honest, I haven't been especially productive for the past couple of weeks, since falling down the stairs and hurting my knee. I returned to work after taking just one day off to rest it and now on my days off I've been trying not to do too much to allow my knee to recover as much as possible. It's taking a long time, but it's feeling a bit better and I'm hoping that I'm turning a corner. I'd love to get back to riding my bike to work and going to the gym, but I don't want to rush it, and besides there's a lot of rain forecast over the next couple of weeks.

This week started off a little better. Sunday was quiet and contemplative as usual. I've started to pick up my current quilt again and work on it, which I've been enjoying and I found a new series on Netflix to watch about American fashion designer Halston, which I binge watched as I stitched. I've also been enjoying watching  a couple of TV programmes, namely The Gods of Snooker and The Pursuit of Love, both being screened on Sunday nights.

On Monday, I managed to tackle some ironing for the first time in three weeks and made a good dent in the pile that was building up, so I feel like I made some progress. The house is a bit of a mess really and I desperately need to do some cleaning. I'll get around to it eventually. I'm feeling grateful for any small thing that I get done at the moment.

Monday, was the day when a lot of Covid restrictions were lifted here in the UK and people were able to fly off to certain countries on holiday, go inside pubs and restaurants, visit each others' homes and hug. It didn't really affect us, as we did none of these things, but it's great that things are opening up again, despite concerns about the Indian strain of the Covid virus, cases of which are increasing daily here in the UK at the moment. As a consequence, it's looking likely that we'll get our 2nd vaccination sooner than expected.

Also on Monday, LB finally finished her A Level exams, which was a great relief to her. She's had a tough year or two studying during the pandemic and struggling with motivation. I'm hoping she's done enough to get the grades she needs for the University offers she has received. She's decided to take a year out before starting University, which gives her and us a bit of time to save up some more money to pay for her studies.

On Tuesday, I was back at work. It's been pretty busy over the last few weeks, not in terms of customers and sales, which are down at the moment due to lack of footfall in Central London, but more with regard to the amount of donations that have had to be processed. I had a bad week last week due to a couple of issues that arose and disappointed me a bit. I guess some weeks are like that and you just have to shake them off and plough on with things. 

When I got home, I found that LB had overhauled her bedroom and claimed the sofa that we didn't want to keep. She's had to take her desk out of the room in order to fit it in, but as she's just finished her A levels and doesn't ever use the desk to study at, its not really a big loss. Anyway, the sofa looks nice and cosy in her room and this saves us posting it on Facebook.

Wednesday was one of my days off. I would have ideally liked to have done nothing and gone nowhere, but I needed to do a top up shop for the week and get OH a bottle of wine and a cake for his birthday the following day, so after lunch I headed out. I've had a very spendy month this month, so for the remainder of the month, I'm on a very tight budget and just have £35 left. We will definitely be eating out of the freezer and what is left in the cupboards. I should get paid by the end of next week though, so it's not all bad.

Thursday was work again and it was also OH's birthday. He opened his presents in the morning before I headed off to work. I bought him an extra present from work, a cycling themed board game, which was quite unusual. We didn't go out to celebrate, but he did treat himself to lunch out at a local cafe.

Friday, I stayed home and did very little. I'm just not really wanting to go out anywhere at the moment on my days off. I'm quite happy being a home body. I watched an interesting documentary about writer Amy Tan on Netflix tonight.

Saturday was a very busy day at work. It was the busiest the shop has been since we re-opened, which was good. Overall, this week has been a lot better at work and sales have been better too thankfully. The buses are getting very busy coming home though, which I don't enjoy. I may continue to catch the bus until I start my jury service in a few weeks time, by the time that is over with, I'm hoping my knee will be feeling a lot better and I'll be able to exercise and ride my bike to work again.

I do hope that you've had a much more exciting week than I have.

Monday, 3 May 2021

A Bit of Bank Holiday Thrifting and A Couple of Freebies

I haven't done much thrifting lately, due to Charity shops being closed until a few weeks ago. Being back at work in a Charity Shop, I kept seeing a few bits and pieces that I wanted to buy, so when I got paid last week it was as good a time as any to pay for them and bring them home on Saturday.

The items I bought were mostly quite practical things and all but one related to the garden. Firstly, I bought this shallow trug to use for weeding, potting, harvesting from the allotment. It looks to be quite good quality and I'm sure we can make good use of it. I like the fact that it is shallow, as I've not seen any like this before.

Also for the garden, I bought this new unused hand trowel. Most of our hand tools have gradually corroded or the handles have broken off and I needed a decent one. I could probably still do with a new hand fork too, but I'll just have to wait until I see one. This looks good quality though and should come in very useful once planting out weather arrives.

The last item I bought for the garden was this pretty verdigris effect candle sconce, to attach to the wall outside the back door. I thought it might be nice to put some candles in it and light them if we ever sit out at night. I decided it was probably better not to attach it to a wooden fence, as it might pose a fire risk, so the wall it will have to be.

Finally, from the shop where I work, I also bought this very heavy and sturdy lock for my bike.  I won't be using it when I cycle to work, as it is too much weight to carry on the long ride and I don't actually need a lock, as I store my bike in a cupboard at work, but when I need to cycle locally, it will be useful to ensure my bike doesn't get stolen, like my last one did in my local area.

On Sunday, whilst I was out walking the dog, I stopped for a look in my local Little Free Library and found these two books that appealed to me. They both looked like a good read, so they came home with me for free.

Then on the way home on the dog walk, I took a peek in the window of my favourite local Charity Shop. This was fatal, of course, as I saw a lovely fabric there that I just couldn't resist. I didn't have any money on me, so I had to walk the dog home and then come back, but luckily it was still there. 

It was this waxed cotton fabric and there was about 6 yards of it for £10, which probably works out at about £2 per metre.  I haven't bought any fabric for ages and I don't really need any more, but I couldn't resist this as I love a monochrome print, so this one just had to come home with me. I'll find something to use it for, maybe a skirt, another apron and bag for work, some more quilting or other projects about the house.

Whilst there, I also bought these Topshop patent ankle boots with a pointy toe. I really like them because they have a low heel and the pointed toe is quite flattering. They will dress up any outfit for a special occasion.  They are brand new and I paid £5 for them, reduced from £10.

The only other things I bought were these two fiction books for £1.25 for the two and this lovely little vintage style bird brooch for £2.50, which I think is really sweet.

Quite a spendy Bank Holiday for me, which is unusual of late, but I just felt like a little splurge after a few low spend months. Hopefully, this has now scratched the itch and I can get back to my low spend habit.

Have you been to any Charity Shops lately?

Linen Cupboard Makeover

I mentioned a good while ago, in a Lockdown post, that I was going to makeover our linen cupboard. It's a vintage cupboard that I've had for a good few years, and has been the perfect place over the last few years to house our towels and more importantly the vacuum cleaner. Here are a few pictures of it:

I believe it dates from the 1930's or thereabouts and was a gentleman's wardrobe. It has shelves and drawers with name tags for the different items that were supposed to be housed in it. I took out the hanging rail some time ago, as it was never used and the hanging space is just big enough to house our Henry type vacuum cleaner and lock it away out of sight.

It also has a lift up lid, under which are more compartments to keep other small accessories or linens in this case. I like this piece of furniture, as it is the perfect size to sit on the landing upstairs, but after buying it 7 or 8 years ago, I never got around to doing anything with it. It was looking a bit worse for wear, so I thought I might give it a makeover with some paint.

I decided to use some leftover chalk paint that I'd used to paint the inside of the vestibule cupboard downstairs. There was only enough left to paint one coat on the back of the cupboard, so I went out and bought a second tin to complete the front and sides.

Above is a picture of when I'd almost finished the painting, just the underside of the lid left to paint and then the whole cabinet needed a coat or two of varnish to give it a better finish, as chalk paint makes furniture look so flat and dull.

After finishing the varnishing, I just needed to get OH to add the new latch, so that I could securely close the cupboard and then it was finished. I also got him to add in an old metal kitchen rack that was kicking around unused in a cupboard in the kitchen, so that I could store some cleaning products on it for when I clean upstairs. At least it had the benefit of making use of some of the space that wasn't already being used in the cupboard.

Here's a final couple of photographs of the finished project:

In all honesty, it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.  The varnish I used over the paint wasn't the best thing to use to get a good finish (it was floor varnish), but it was something that we already had lying around. I'm happy enough with the result though, as it looks a little tidier and at least it's another item ticked off the Lockdown To Do List which is very satisfying.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Lockdown W/E 1st May 2021

It's hard to believe that we're in May already.  Another couple of weeks and we'll be virtually out of Lockdown again. I haven't done a Lockdown weekly post for a couple of weeks, mainly because there hasn't been a whole lot going on here.

I've mainly been focusing on getting back into a work routine and have been pretty tired on my days off, so much so, that I haven't really been very productive. I'm starting to feel a bit less tired as the weeks progress and I get used to work again and I'm hoping to get around to doing a bit more cleaning, as there's still a couple of rooms I haven't tackled for a while.

Earlier this week on Monday, we took delivery of our new armchair and footstool for the living room.  We'd ordered it from John Lewis before Christmas, but had to wait as they ran out of the fabric we'd chosen, which caused a delay. We weren't in a particular hurry, but it's nice now that they have finally arrived. Here's a photograph:

The new chair is slightly smaller than the previous armchair we had, which is good as it takes up less space. It's always a bit of a squeeze in our narrow reception rooms, so every little thing helps. We're now thinking of getting rid of one of the sofa's in the second reception room and getting another (different) new arm chair to replace it, which will give us even more space. We don't really use the sofas in there much, so a chair to sit and read in would be much more practical in the place of one of them these days.

In other home news, I ordered some narrow picture shelves for the second reception room this week from eBay.  At £18 for three 91 cm in length shelves, I thought they were quite good value and I have a very specific use for them, something that I've been meaning to do for a while. I'll post when they are up and utilised for the purpose I have in mind.

I still haven't visited any shops (other than supermarkets and local shops) since they opened on the 12th April. I just haven't felt like going out shopping at all, unless there was something specific I needed.

OH, as you can see from the photo above, has been busy in the garden sewing lots of plants from seed in the last few weeks, for the allotment.  They are getting quite big now, although it's still way too cold to put them in the ground. He's currently hardening them off a bit in the greenhouse. I've been loving the sunshine we've been having, but not the cold. I feel I want to get outside and garden, but the cold is putting me off big time.  

I did venture out on Monday this week and potted up my dahlia tubers. It's too early to put them in the ground, but they should be okay in pots in the greenhouse, to help get them off to a good start.  They all (but one) seem to be sending of small white shoots at least. I'm hoping that they produce lots of lovely flowers this summer, so that I can cut them and bring some into the house. I just need to watch out for slugs and snails.

The allotment is looking good and is currently planted up with potatoes and shallots, which are now coming through quite well. OH has also sown beetroot and lettuce seeds, which have germinated. He seems to be well ahead of the game this year. I took a photo through the fence today on my way to work, just to give you an idea of how it looks now.

Instead of heading out to the shops or spending time outside, I've been staying inside reading fiction books, watching TV and resting on my days off.  I've started to enjoy being at home again which is good. I do have to say that I am more introverted since having been in Lockdown. I wasn't an extrovert before the Pandemic, and I'm even less of one now. I'm sure it's the same for many people.

On Tuesday I was back at work, a very busy day, so when Wednesday came around I was looking forward to taking it easy. The day didn't start well though, as I suffered a nasty fall down the stairs to the kitchen. One leg was stretched out in front of me, the other bent back like a hurdler. I ended up in a mangled heap on the floor at the bottom, hoping that I hadn't broken my leg. Luckily, after a few minutes to steady myself, I was able to push myself back up the stairs on my bottom and then stand up.

I felt a bit sore and my knee and ankle felt a bit twisted, but the dog still needed it's walk and I was worried that if I sat down and didn't keep moving, I would just stiffen up, so despite an offer from OH to walk the dog, I took her out myself. I then called at the shops for a few top up groceries on my way back, just in case I didn't feel able later in the day.

As  the day wore on, my leg did get a bit more swollen and stiff. I just had to keep dosing myself up with ibuprofen and also applying ibuprofen gel to my knee. It did help when it came to moving around and getting comfortable.

It's very scary when something like this happens. It makes me feel quite vulnerable, but I appreciate that I was incredibly lucky that I didn't break or fracture anything. It was pretty sore for a few days and  wasn't able to go to work on Thursday, as I needed to rest it. My Manager was very understanding, but it's not a great time to take a day off, as the stockroom is so full of donations that need processing. There's nothing much I could do about it though, but try to recover as quickly as possible.

In more positive news this week, I started using the new set of facial care products I bought online the other week.  They are in the Q&A range and are natural products not tested on animals. I've been using the hyularonic face serum, seaweed peptide eye gel and collagen face cream and I'm loving all of the products and my skin immediately felt more hydrated and plumped up. I'm definitely happy to have bought them.

On Friday, I woke up after having a much better night's sleep. After walking the dog, I had to go out and do a food shop, as we were almost out of most things we eat regularly. OH volunteered to come with me on this occasion, which made a nice change. It was helpful on account of my knee. I did a big shop as it was my first time back in Lidl for 3 months and I got overexcited putting lots of things into the trolley. Should keep us going for a couple of weeks bar topping up fresh veg/salad.

Once I got home from doing the shop and had put the shopping away, that was enough wear and tear on my knee, so I spent the rest of the evening with it up and resting ready for returning to work on Saturday.

I was a bit worried how it would go when I got back to work, but it was actually okay. I caught the bus in to work, which felt strange, and despite being on my feet all day, my knee didn't feel too bad. OH came into town in the car later to take me home, which was a treat. We stopped off at a pub around the corner from the shop and had a drink. It was pretty busy, but we were lucky enough to find a table outside.

It was good to get home and as I'm not at work again until Tuesday, I can enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Hope you have a great weekend.