Monday, 28 June 2021

Weekly Diary - W/E 26th June 2021

After a weekend up in Yorkshire, this week was all about getting back into our normal routine here in London. It was good to have a break from London, but equally, it was good to get back and get on with our everyday lives, especially after a strange two weeks for me, not being at work.

On Monday, I enjoyed my last day before returning to work, I did a food shop, so that we had all we needed for the week ahead. LB got her first Covid vaccination on Monday too, which was good and she didn't have any side effects, which was even better.

I returned to work on Tuesday and I was pleasantly surprised to find that things weren't altogether too overwhelming. It is taking me a few days to get back up to speed, but I think that by next week it will feel like I've not been away at all.

At home, in between completing online work documentation and learning, I've been trying to catch up with a massive pile of ironing, which is slowly going down. I'm determined to clear it completely by the end of next week and then try to keep on top of it, instead of letting it build up so much.

I've also been continuing with my hand stitched quilt when I get the chance. I'm very near finishing the top of it, which is very exciting. It's probably taken six months or thereabouts in total. I do still need to find some fabric for the backing though, so I may have to put it aside for a while until the right thing comes along. (I don't think I have anything suitable in my stash, as it needs to be king sized width). Possibly a flat sheet or second hand quilt cover might suffice, but I don't own one in the right colour presently, so I will just have to keep a look out for one.

In all, it feels like it has been quite a productive week. The fact that I'm getting anything done in between work days is progress, as I'm usually too tired to do much on my days off. It's probably the result of having had two weeks away from work, it must have done me some good. I think that the physical challenge of working in charity retail is cummulative and if I don't take time off for months on end, it is quite debilitating. I now realise that I need to book my annual leave at regular intervals throughout the year, especially now LB has left education and we can all go away out of season. This year will be the first year that this has really been possible all year round, which is quite exciting. Just a pity about the Covid restrictions, we'll just have to see how they go.

Healthwise, my knee, is still feeling okay, despite going back to work. It's slightly stiff and sore on the days I work, on account of being stood on it all day, but recovers much more quickly on days off and generally stiffens up less on the days I don't work, so that's a good sign. I'm almost feeling like my normal self again and even managed to run to catch a bus the other night, although I did so very carefully.

Looking to next week, I've got a few garden jobs that need doing, more specifically, I need to wash all of the dirty plant pots that we've used this spring. It's a good excuse to get outside on a hot day and catch some sun. I also need to pot on one of my indoor plants to a bigger pot. Small and easily doable jobs, if I can just put my mind to them. I've also got a couple of errands that I need to run locally to tick a couple of things of this month's to do list. To be honest, many things just get carried over from one month to the next at the moment, so I do need to pay more attention to it and actually get some of the things on it done.

Another job will be to harvest some of the fruit from the garden. The gooseberries and blackcurrants are pretty close to being ripe and need to be made into jam. I always quite enjoy the process and the moreso the results.

I hope you've had a good week this week.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Weekly Diary W/E 19th June 2021

This last two weeks, I've been off work. I'd booked some time off for Jury Service, I didn't need to, but I decided to, as I work for a charity and I'd already had lots of time off during Lockdown. In addition, I had been allowed to carry over untaken leave from last year in spite of the lockdowns, so I decided to pay some of it back. The JS finished at the end of the first week, thankfully, and all I will say about it was that it was illuminating in many ways, not necessarily in a positive way, and I didn't find it particularly enjoyable. I really didn't relish the responsiblity.  I won't have to do it again, for another two years at least, which is fine by me.

This last week I've been trying to relax, wind down from it, and just get back to normal life. My knee has had a good rest and is feeling a lot better, although not completely recovered. I'm not sure if I'll cycle to work when I return tomorrow. I spent two days of the week cleaning the whole house, partly because it desperately needed it and partly because LB was having some friends over.

OH had some bad news last week. His father had another stroke and was taken into hospital. This was one of the reasons I didn't go back to work immediately after JS, as we wanted to take a trip up to Yorkshire to visit and see if there was anything we could do to help. We wanted to wait a few days before going and do lateral flow tests, especially after I had spent so much time in court rooms, in reasonably close proximity to lots of other people, although strict Covid restrictions were in place.

LB didn't come up to Yorkshire with us, as she was working at her new part-time job. Instead, on the one day she wasn't working, she had her friends over for the evening to keep her company.

We headed off to Yorkshire on Thursday lunchtime. We'd booked into the Hilton Hotel in Hull City Centre as there were no cottages or apartments available for the dates we were travelling. Luckily, they were happy to allow the dog to stay too. The hotel was really nice. We hadn't stayed in a hotel without LB for years and it felt a bit strange. We enjoyed walking around the town centre on our first evening there and revisiting old haunts and favourite landmark buildings. We had supper sat outside a pub next to the Marina, which was nice. To get there, we walked over a new pedestrian bridge that has been built to link the rest of the town centre to this part of the town. It's a nice bridge, with great views as you walk across. There's a lot of new road construction going on in the city at the moment though, so traffic was especially bad when you did need to try to get anywhere in the car.

On Friday morning, we did a little bit of shopping. I always like to visit a Boyes store when I stay in Yorkshire and as usual, I managed to spend a fortune on lots of different things in there. We then visited OH's mum before she headed off to the hospital for the afternoon.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to visit OH's dad in hospital, due to strict Covid restrictions, but we tried to be as helpful as we could to his mum during our visit.

On Friday night, we had arranged to meet up with my sister, her husband, her daughter and her daughter's new boyfriend, who we'd never met. I hadn't seen my sister for 18 months, so it was good to catch up at a local Italian restaurant. We had a really nice evening.

On Saturday, we had a big breakfast at the hotel before packing up and heading home via OH's mum's again. His sister was there when we arrived, so we got to catch up with her too, before we headed back to London. It was just a short stay, but we were glad we made the effort. OH's father will hopefully be coming home from the hospital next week, but he'll need a lot of care, much more than before he went in.

Now back in London, we're getting back into our normal routines. I'm due back at work tomorrow and I am ever so slightly dreading it. I know I'll get back into the swing of it within a couple of days, but it has been nice to take a break and get out of London. 

I've got another week off booked in a few weeks time, but this time we'll be heading up to the Yorkshire Dales for our UK summer holiday in a rented cottage. LB isn't joining us this year for the first time, as she's going away with her friends to a cottage in Suffolk instead. It will be strange without her, but I remember doing the same kind of thing at her age.

Today I've done a food shop at ASDA and this afternoon, I need to spend some time ironing, as all of my work clothes are in the ironing basket. I've carefully put them to the top of the pile, to give them priority over everything else. I'll let you know how my return to work goes in my next post.

I hope you've had a good couple of weeks and I'll try to post more in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Weekly Diary W/E 6th June 2021

It was a very quiet start to the week this week. OH was away cycling until Tuesday, so I was home alone for most of the Bank Holiday weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday, I had a long walk with the dog, then came back for lunch before heading out again to go for my 2nd Covid vaccination. I was happy to get this done, but I was a bit unsure as to how I'd feel afterwards, as I felt quite unwell after the first one. 

I was without the car all weekend, as OH took it, so I had to take the bus to the vaccination centre. I arrived half an hour early, but was able to be seen and vaccinated within minutes. On the way back, I popped into a local Crisis charity shop and bought a plant pot for £1.50. I then paid my first post-Lockdown visit to our local Primark. I managed to spend £27 on two pairs of trousers, two black t-shirts, some hair clips, face masks and cotton wool pads. I also picked up some fruit and veg from a market stall before catching the bus home, which made it a worthwhile but spendy little trip out.

I felt fine all evening after my vaccination, absolutely no problems this time around, which was a relief.

On Tuesday I went back to work. I had a pretty bad journey in, as the bus I was on broke down and we had to get off and get onto the next one, which then became very full, which was not ideal. For some reason I was very clumsy today and kept knocking things over, breaking the odd thing. Maybe it was tiredness, although I didn't feel particularly tired.

On Wednesday, I was finally able to meet up with some friends from the gym, for the first time in over a year. I had to do a weekly shop before meeting them, as there was no food in the house and by now OH had returned from his cycling trip. I also did a lateral flow test, which was negative.

It felt good to get together again in our favourite restaurant and catch up with each others' news. I took a bottle of Prosecco with me, as you could pay corkage in the restaurant (they don't have a license to sell alcohol) and one of my friends and I shared it. (I was on the bus!)

On the way back, I needed to stop off at the local Primark again and take one of the t-shirts back that I'd bought the other day, as it was too oversized. I got a new bra instead, which was only £6. It was a bit of a gamble really, as I've never really bought bras from there before and I paid nearer £40 for a new bra last month elsewhere, but this Primark one actually feels more comfortable. I may go back and get a couple more at that price, as most of my old M&S ones are virtually shot and not feeling very supportive.

When I got back, I popped to the allotment with OH for half and hour before heading out to walk the dog. It is now almost fully planted up. We're just waiting for everything to grow, which feels very satisfying.

I didn't sleep well (hardly at all in fact) on Wednesday night, so on Thursday I felt exhausted going in to work. In the end it wasn't too bad when I got there, but thankfully I caught up on my sleep on Thursday night and felt so much better.

On Friday, it rained most of the day. An Approved Food order I'd placed last week when they had a free delivery offer arrived, so I unpacked it and put everything away. It was mainly snacks for us and the dog and tinned items that we use regularly. Many of these things will come in useful this month and particularly next week, as I have to take my own food and drink whilst on Jury Service.

Later, I had to go to Poundland to get some last minute bits for work, so I took the dog with me and left her in the car whilst I went in to do the shopping.  It wasn't hot, so she was okay in her cage whilst I was in the shop. On the way back we stopped off for a very wet and rainy walk, after which I was glad to get home and get some lunch, knowing that I didn't need to go out again for the rest of the day. Lunch was my usual salad, but using salad leaves from the garden. For the first time in years, the lettuce has grown well for us and we've got lots to keep us going over the summer.

On Friday afternoon, I decided it was time to tackle the huge ironing pile that had built up over the last couple of weeks, so I put on a movie on Netflix and got stuck in. I was thankful for the rain for cooling the house down, as I would have struggled to iron if it had been hot outside.

Saturday, was my final day at work for two weeks. Although I'm not really relishing Jury Service, which starts on Tuesday, I am looking forward to a break from the shop, as it's been a bit intense, especially with my knee being so bad. This week it has been feeling a bit better and I feel like I am slowly getting back to my normal self and it is starting to heal. For a while I was struggling and thinking that it never would get better. As a consequence, I've been feeling a bit low and grumpy for weeks now. I think it was a mistake to rush back to work so quickly and not rest it for at least a week, but I can't change what I did. Two weeks of sitting down whilst on Jury service should rest it sufficiently. I'll just have to remember to exercise it out of sight, to build up some strength. I'm now starting to think about what I'm going to wear next week. Apparently, you can wear jeans, but no shorts or beach wear!!

Anyway, my last day of work for a while was a busy one. After humping a shopping bag full of hand wash, cleaning products, paper towels, toilet rolls and biscuits to work, I did as much as I possibly could to leave things in a good place before I left. I don't know what it will look like when I come back, I'd rather not give it any thought.

Hope you had a good week.

Friday, 4 June 2021

2021 Reads

It's been a busy year on the reading front, starting slowly but gathering pace in February and March during Lockdown. In total by the end of April I'd read 27 books so far this year, which is probably the most I've read in a long time. It came about because I had a shelf with about 50 fictions books on it that I'd never read. I had run out of non-fiction books, which were my preferred read, so decided to concentrate on getting back into reading fiction, mainly so that I could declutter most of them. (I rarely read a book twice)

Anyway, here's a list with the ones I liked the best and would recommend.


Reviving Retail by Doug Stephens - This was a non-fiction book I read as I work in retail and it was an interesting read with interesting ideas about the future of retail. Very topical post pandemic.

Fashionopolis by Dinah Thomas - Again another non-fiction book about the clothing industry and how it is slowly becoming more sustainable thanks to designers such as Stella McCartney amongst others and their efforts to use sustainable fabrics and materials. It was interesting to note that there are many technologies now available to recycle many waste products and it did encourage me in this respect, although there is still an awful lot of wastage and pollution from the clothing industry.

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

The above 3 books were all bought from Poundland and although they were reasonably good reads, I don't know if I would recommend them. For £1 they were entertaining enough.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman - This book was recommended by a friend from the gym and it took me a long time to get around to reading it, but it was such a good read. So sad in parts, but excellent. Would definitely recommend. 

A Perfect Marriage - Alison Booth

The Third Wife - Lisa Jewell - I like most of the Lisa Jewell books that I have read and this is no exception. It's basically about the complications of blended families.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - This was a great book that follows Harold on his pilgrimage/journey, walking the length of the UK to see an old work colleague who is dying of cancer. A very good read which may have you in tears at some point.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson - This book was a Virago Modern Classic that has been on my bookshelf for an age. I didn't think I would like it, but it was nothing like I expected and was a really fun read set in the 1930's I think.

A Certain Age - Tana Janowitz  - This book was a difficult one to read. It chronicles the efforts of an attractive woman working in NYC, to marry into money in 1980's New York. Having almost reached the age of 30 and in danger of being left on the shelf in terms of making a suitable match, it documents the efforts she goes to to snag a rich husband and how this leads her down a very slippery slope. Entertaining but very dark, with a great twist at the very end. The reviews compare it to Edith Wharton's House of Mirth set in 1800's New York. I read this book later and could see the similarities.

Annie May's Black Book - Debby Holt 

For One More Day  by Mitch Albam


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - This book was interesting and for a while you are lulled into thinking that this is a story about the death or separation of a child from it's siblings and it's effect on a family. Not so, read on and find out what this story is really about and it will quite surprise you. 

The Optimists - Andrew Miller

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee - Once again a book set in NYC about the life of Korean immigrants trying to find their version of the American Dream and happiness. A really good read

The Real Katie Lavender - Erica James 

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice - This was another book bought from Poundland and I put off reading it, as I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it, but when I finally did open it up I really enjoyed the story. Set in 1950's and 60's England the main character eventually becomes a singer in swinging 60's London. The story follows her from a childhood in Devon to the bright lights of the metropolis. I have since bought another book by this author on eBay, which follows the life of another character from this book.

How I Live Now - Meg Roscoff - I think this might be a teenage read, but it was quite a good one although confusing at times.

Homestead - Rosanna Lippi

Territorial Rights - Muriel Spark - Normally, I love everything by Muriel Spark, but I wasn't so keen on this one set in Venice.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey by Rachel Joyce - This book follows the character of the object of Harold Fry's pilgrimage and provides a different side of the story from Rachel Joyce's book about him. It is another great read and I loved finding out more about the character in this book.

The Outcast - Sadie Jones -  This books tells the story of a troubled young boy whose life changes after the sudden death of his mother. Set in post war England. A very good read.


The Jane Austin Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler - Another book by this author. I liked this one, which explores the lives of the members of a Jane Austin book reading club. It reminded me how much I like Jane Austin's writing and inspired me to re-watch one of the film versions of one of her books around the same time, namely Emma. (It also inspired me to re-watch Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte too, which I also loved.)

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton - This book, tells the story of women's life in high society NYC in the 1800's. Written by Wharton, a New York socialite herself, it depicts a young woman of reduced means'  attempt to find a suitable husband amongst the snobbish and ultra conservative higher social eschelons of New York at this time. I found this a difficult book to read, as it describes the difficulties for women in this era, whose only option in life seemed to be to find a suitable husband or live out their lives in relative poverty with little or no social status. The main character in this book, although very frustrating at times and snobbish herself, eventually finds herself at the mercy of various unscrupulous people, who try to exploit her. It's a sad tale, which I didn't enjoy reading at the time, but with hindsight I appreciate why it is such a classic.

Daughters of the House by Michele Roberts

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - This is a great read, telling the story of a House on a big rural Estate in southern England through the decades from the late 19th Century through two world wars and beyond. It incorporates the story of it's inhabitants and domestic staff leading up to the mysterious death of a family friend that occurred there. The main narrator, is a former servant who worked at the house and who gradually reveals the truth about what really happened.

As you can see from this post, there's been a lot of reading so far this year. Some of the books I can barely remember, but the ones that stayed with me I have tried to review. My pace of reading will slow considerably now I'm back at work, so the next review of books won't be so long hopefully. I hope some of the above books may appeal to some of you to read yourself.