Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Weekly Blog W/E 24th July 2021

This week began with us settling back into London life, after our week away in the Yorkshire Dales. It felt strange to be back, but good to get back to normal.

I began the day by doing the washing up and watering some of our houseplants. I also put on a load of the dirty washing from our holiday and then hung it out.

OH popped out for milk and bread for breakfast and then paid a visit the allotment to harvest some salad and some courgettes that were getting big after our week away. There was one small cucumber too.

Unfortunately, someone keeps vandalising our grape vine through the fence at the back of the plot. In the last few weeks, two of the branches have been cut through and left to die. It makes me very angry, as it is just so unnecessary. We're thinking of taking it out later in the year and planting it at home in garden, away from harm. It was doing so well too and had grapes growing on it. Mindless.

Also a sunflower had got bent over, probably by animals, so OH cut the flower head off and it is now adorning our kitchen windowsill. 

It's so cheerful.

There was very little food in the house on our return, so after lunch on Sunday I did the weekly shop at Lidl. It felt good to get some food in the cupboards again and to know that the job was done for the week. I picked up a couple of extras whilst shopping.


One was this really lovely mini garden in a glass jar for £5. I couldn't resist it for the price as it's so lovely.  The second item was this new moisturising gel that they sell with Hyalruonic Acid. I thought I'd give it a try and at £2.99 it was very reasonable.

It was such a hot day that I didn't really want to venture outside hardly at all, I spent most of the rest of the day getting up to date with my finances after the holiday and then catching up on my favourite YouTubers and just keeping out of the sun. It's a little too hot for comfort for me at the moment.

On Monday, it was still super hot, so I stayed close to home again and spent most of the day trying to keep cool inside the house. Very hot weather isn't my favourite kind, but fortunately our house manages to stay quite cool, so I spent some time today quietly finishing pulling out the paper pieces from my quilt, so that I can progress to attaching it to the woollen blanket that I'm using as wadding. It was very therapeutic.

Tuesday was my first day back at work after a week off and I'd promised myself that I would ride my bike into work. I did and it was great. Great not to have to wear a mask on public transport, great to be exercising and burning calories and great to just feel the wind in my hair and on my face with no-one in close proximity to me. I didn't realise how much I'd missed it until I did it again. Even getting drenched on the way home when it rained all the way didn't dampen my enthusiasm. (Excuse the unintended pun)

Work itself was okay. I managed to get quite a bit of work done and it wasn't too overwhelming coming back.

Wednesday, I was home all day again. I didn't need to go anywhere, but I did pop to the allotment and pick the blackcurrants that had grown there, plus a few gooseberries. The gooseberries I gave to a neighbour who had told me she loves to eat them raw. There weren't many, as the bush was overpruned last year. The blackcurrants I made into another pot and a half of jam, so we've now had 4 pots from the fruit we've grown this year, which should keep us going for a while.

Later, I spent an hour in the garden deadheading my dahlias, planting up the few plants I'd bought in the Yorkshire Dales, some into bigger pots, as I don't actually have a spot for them at the moment, and some into the ground where I did find a spot. I cleaned up the decking a bit too, but I still need to wash all of the pots we've used this year. It's currently too hot to stay outside for any length of time to do this, but once it cools down and my sunburn and peeling skin recover, I'll do it.

I did some more washing for LB today and tidied her bedroom and then spent most of the rest of the day reading a new book, which was very entertaining.

Thursday, I was back cycling to work again. The stockroom was looking much less overwhelming when I got there, so I was able to get on and get quite a bit of work done again. Donations seem to have slowed down too this week, which has given us some breathing space. Probably due to summer holidays looming and people being busy getting ready to go away.

Friday, was a bit cooler. I took the dog out for a long walk and then needed to do a little bit of shopping. I had a £2 voucher to spend at Lidl, so I headed there first to use it before it expired and then popped to ASDA for anything I couldn't get at Lidl. I bought  quite a few more things than I intended, but at least that will mean just a small top up shop next week. No real sign of food shortages on the shelves here yet which was good.

When I got home,  I did some catching up on my finances and paid the odd bill that was due, etc. I can't believe there's only a week left of July. It's gone so fast. I'll get paid again at the end of next week. 

I also did a bit more washing today, so I'm back up to date on that, just ironing to get up to scratch on, but it's too hot for that at the moment. I spent another couple of hours reading this afternoon, which is always a treat.

On Saturday I was quite excited, as there was the first Give and Take or Zero Waste Hub event, as they now call them, happening in our borough since before the Pandemic started. I had a big pile of stuff in the spare room, that I'd been waiting to take and I could finally take it and make some space. 

I was supposed to be at work for 12 noon, so I had to arrange to go in a little later, as the event didn't start until 11 am and I'm usually on my way to work by then, but I'd worked a few extra hours earlier in the week to compensate, so it was fine. It felt so good to finally let go of more clutter. They are getting slightly more picky about what you can donate, but everything I took they accepted, which was good. In the end I got to work at my usual time, as we were in and out within minutes. I think there's another event in September, so I will try to collate more stuff for that over the next couple of months. Covid allowing.

As it rained heavily on Saturday morning, I didn't ride my bike to work and caught the bus instead. I don't mind getting wet coming home, but it is miserable getting wet on the way to work. When I got to work, I saw and spoke to a regular customer that I haven't seen for a while. (I don't get to spend much time on the shop floor these days) She made some very kind but astute comments to me, which was very strange, as I'd been chewing over a few issues I've been having at work lately on the bus travelling in. I can't really talk about them here, but her kind comments were very gratefully received.

Anyway, it was quite a productive day. The stockroom seems to be under much better control at the moment, mainly because of the slow down in donations. It might not last though, so I won't get too complacent about it.

I hope you've had a good week.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 17th July 2021 - A Week in the Yorkshire Dales.

This week was the week of our summer holiday. I didn't mention it in my previous post, as I don't like to advertise the fact that our house is going to be empty, but I'd spent the previous week getting ready to go away, hence all the washing and ironing (and packing).

OH and I headed off with the dog on Sunday afternoon. LB wasn't coming with us this holiday, as she was going away with her friends to Suffolk the following day, after working on the night of the Euro football final. (Luckily, she was able to leave work early before the match actually finished, which was a relief all round, as it would have been a very late finish for her).

We drove up to Yorkshire and made good progress, getting to Reeth in Swaledale by about 6pm. We stopped at a pub there for a drink, before travelling on to the cottage we'd rented a few miles away in Arkengarthdale, in time to watch the football final at 8pm. When we got there, we didn't realise, but the cottage didn't have a TV. Luckily, it did have good WiFi and as I'd brought my laptop we were able to stream the match on that thankfully.

Sadly, England lost, and the behaviour of some fans(?) was very disappointing, in charging into the stadium without tickets, and then the following day, when there was the disgusting online abuse of some of the players. Sometimes, it feels very shameful to be English and this was one of those times.

Anyway, after a great night's sleep, on Monday we settled into the cottage, unpacked properly and got our bearings.  Above is the view from the front door. Unfortunately, our first full day was a very rainy one, so we spent most of it in Richmond picking up some groceries. We had lunch in a cafe and I did a bit of thrifting in a few of the charity shops which was enjoyable.

Later, after spending a lazy few hours back at the cottage, we walked to a nearby pub with the dog and had drinks, before spending a quiet evening in. It was so quiet where we were staying, just sheep and rabbits, beautiful views of the hillsides and very few people indeed. Not completely isolated, as the cottage was nestled alongside a few other cottages, but it was a real antidote to London life. I felt myself properly relaxing very quickly.

On Tuesday, we had arranged to go and visit OH's sister for lunch near Skipton in West Yorkshire. It was a fairly long drive from where we were staying, but it was good to catch up, as we hadn't seen her or her husband for months. The weather was much better too which made all the difference as we could sit out in their garden, which was beautiful.

On the way home we stopped off in Skipton itself for a look around and a bit more thrifting for me. Later in the journey home we stopped at a mobile Fish & Chip van in one of the villages, just for chips, and we sat and ate them on the village green in the sunshine. Sometimes, small spontaneous things really are the most enjoyable.

Wednesday, we decided to take a walk in the afternoon. We picked a short circular walk from the village of Langthwaite, in Arkengarthdale. It was a steep climb at first up small roads, but eventually flattened out into less steep fields and moors and returned us to the village down a gill and along the side of a river. It wasn't a long walk, but was very enjoyable with beautiful scenery. Everywhere in the Yorkshire Dales there is beautiful scenery, it was so restful to the eye and we felt so far removed from everything going on in the world, that we could have been abroad. We hardly saw anyone else on our walk, which surprised us as we thought the Yorkshire Dales would have been mobbed with people.

On Wednesday night we went to a local pub for supper, but to be honest, we didn't enjoy sitting beside other people, despite social distancing, so we didn't repeat the experience for the rest of the week.

Thursday, OH decided to go on a long bike ride, so I got up and took the dog down to Reeth in the car.  From there we did a circular walk along the river Swale and across some stepping stones below Healaugh.

I had to pick up the dog and carry her across and then we returned to Reeth along the opposite side of the river. We walked a bit too far for the dog, so she was a bit tired on the way back and I ended up carrying her for a while, poor baby.  

We stopped off for tea and cake at a lovely cafe in Fremington, which was also a Cycle centre where you can hire bikes to explore the area, before walking the short distance back to Reeth. I attempted to explore the lovely little Community Orchard at Reeth, but the dog was just too tired by then.  I did buy a few plants from the garden though, some hostas, which I'll enjoy planting in the garden at home.

In the afternoon, I sat out in the cottage garden for a while reading until OH got back. He was shattered after his ride and the dog was still not too good, I don't think she was well, as she hadn't eaten all day, so we decided not to do another walk and drove out to Barnard Castle, 10 miles away in Teeside instead. We needed a few bits of food to last for the rest of our stay and of course, I had to check out the thrift shops there as well. Got to be done. I didn't buy much though. By Thursday night, we were missing the TV a little, so we streamed a documentary about Ernest Hemmingway on iPlayer and watched a couple of episodes which was interesting. Not having a TV for the week was actually quite nice though.

The weather was really hot on Thursday and both OH and I caught the sun quite badly, so on Friday, we covered up and headed into Reeth for the weekly market on the village green. There were only a few stalls, but they were an interesting selection selling fish, local cheeses and pastries, fruit and veg, locally crafted products and plants. I ended up buying four plants for the garden. They were so reasonably priced that I couldn't resist. All white flowering shrubs; a verbena, a salvia, a delphinium and an achillea. I could have bought more, but we had limited room in the car.

On Friday afternoon, we drove up to Tan Hill, to the highest pub in Great Britain and walked for an hour on the Pennine Way before stopping off at the pub for a drink. Later, we chilled out back at the cottage, reading and relaxing and enjoying our final afternoon in the Yorkshire Dales. We had such a lovely relaxing holiday.  We hadn't been to the Dales for about 7 years and were reminded how much we loved it.

We left the cottage on Saturday morning. It had been a lovely place to stay. Very comfortable and well equipped and very reasonably priced too. The bed was so comfortable that I slept very well during my stay.

On our way home we stopped off to see OH's other sister in Malton and then stopped off to see his parents near Hull, before reluctantly heading back to London.

Monday, 12 July 2021

Weekly Blog - W/E 10th July 2021

This week began with OH being away at his parents for a night after attending a cycling event outside of London. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I indulgently laid in bed reading for at least an hour. It's the  perfect way to relax after the busy day I'd had at work the day before. Eventually, I got up and got dressed, as I needed to take the dog for a walk. It rained for a while though, so we didn't get out until around 11 am.  

By the time we got back it was 1 pm, so I gave the dog some food and then I started on the big pile of washing up that had accumulated over the past 3 or so days. Once that was done, I picked some salad out of the raised beds in the garden and made some lunch with it. We're trying desperately hard to use it all before it bolts and has to be composted.

I then pottered around and caught up with a bit of YouTube watching, until OH came home around 3 pm.  We caught up on the news from his weekend and then I decided to sort out some of LB's washing. This in turn led me to clean out her bedroom, which was in a terrible state. I'd been nagging her for weeks to tidy it and get on top of her washing, but with working long shifts in the restaurant and then wanting to chill or go out with friends on her days off, she never seemed to get around to it.

Anyway, I'd had enough of it being a tip, and as she was at work, I decided to tackle it myself.  It took a couple of hours to sort through the clothes that were all over the floor, put away any clean clothing, change the bedding, put some washing on (I ended up doing 3 loads - one whites, one bed linen and one towels) and then I vacuumed the room. I also found a skirt with a broken zip, so I replaced the zip to make it wearable again. Despite my efforts, there's still a laundry basket full of what looks like winter clothing and a big IKEA bag of dark clothing to wash, but I didn't have anywhere left to hang them.

It felt very satisfying to finally tackle this room and it was a nice surprise for her to come home from work to a clean room with fresh bedding and most of her washing done. I know she won't keep it like that for long though. I don't know where she gets her messiness from. Definitely not from me.

In the evening, OH and I just chilled watching The Handmaid's Tale on TV and I got on with removing more paper pieces from my quilt. A productive day for a Sunday, which I usually spend doing very little of note.

On Monday, I did some more washing for LB and hung it out on the line outside as the weather was fine. I then put away some laundry that had been kicking around since last week and put on a load of washing for myself and OH.

I needed to go out and do a small top up shop and use the £10 voucher I'd earned at Lidl last week, so I did that. I spent a couple of hours ironing in the afternoon and finally got to the bottom of the ironing basket. Not a very exciting day, but productive enough.

Tuesday was a work day and when I got to work, another lovely volunteer was tackling the Gift Aid, so I busied myself with other things that needed doing and helped her where necessary. Between us, we got quite a lot of work done on the clothing. One of our volunteers is leaving this week, as she has got a paid job within our charity. She'll be missed in our shop, as she has a lovely personality. I booked a table in a local pub for us to go for a drink after work on Saturday, her last day. 

When I got home from work, both of the orders I made at the weekend had arrived, which was good. I was disappointed with one item though from ASOS, I'll tell you more about it in another post. It will be going back which is a hassle.

I spent Tuesday evening watching an interesting programme about Agatha Christie. I'm not fit for much more than flopping in front of the TV after a day at work.

On Wednesday, I had a very lazy and long lie in, mainly because I hadn't slept well. Then I read my book for a while before finally dragging myself out of bed. OH has taken to taking the dog out on days when I'm not at work, which often suits me as I don't have to rush to get up. 

Once up I went into LB's bedroom again and tidied up again, took the washing off the dryer and put it into piles for her to put away. I did another wash for her too and mended another favourite item of clothing for her whose strap had broken. She was at work again all day and evening due to the England match being on and the pub being fully booked. She wasn't looking forward to it after working previously when England were playing. I'm hoping it's not too bad this time around.

Later, I put away some of our laundry and pottered for most of the day. I was feeling a bit uninspired today and just wanted a quiet homey kind of day. Later, I picked the remaining fruit from the garden and made another pot of jam. There are more blackcurrants at the allotment, but they are not ripe yet, so I'll have to use them later.

OH wasn't too happy today, as he received a speeding ticket from his journey back to London on Sunday, which will mean points on his licence. Bless him. Not  a very nice surprise to receive through the post.

Back to work on Thursday and I was back on the Gift Aid. There was a very big donation too, so it took me all day to clear the cage.

Friday, I stayed home for the most part and just got on with small jobs and more washing and ironing.

On Saturday, I was working and as I mentioned earlier, after work I'd booked a table at a pub not far from the shop, to celebrate one of our volunteers leaving, having got a new job. A few of us had drinks with her and the Shop Manager had made a cake to celebrate. It was a nice evening and a nice sociable end to the week.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Weekly Diary W/E 3rd July - Part 2

Following on from Part One of this week's diary, I was back at work on Thursday this week. I felt like I had quite a productive day, despite being tired from not having slept well the night before. One of our volunteers worked on the Gift Aid all day, which freed me to get on with some other jobs that were long overdue. I was able to sort through and re-organise some very overwhelming corners of the stockroom and make a start on some other tasks that have not been tackled for weeks due to lack of time. It was very satisfying and felt like a nice reprieve from the norm.

When I got on the bus home, the tiredness hit me, so the evening was spent binge watching Netflix, whilst starting to take out the paper pieces from my finished quilt top. It's going to take a while, as it's a large quilt, but I'll chip away at it until it's done.

After a much better night's sleep on Thursday night, I awoke on Friday feeling much more refreshed. Fridays are one of my days off, so I stayed in bed and finished reading my current book. OH took the dog out, so I had a leisurely morning, which was nice. As I'd done a big shop earlier in the week, I didn't need to go anywhere or do anything outside of the house, which is a rare treat for me, (save for walking the dog later) so I had a lovely long homey day ahead of me.

As I do every month, I had created a list of things I wanted to do this month, but this month's list is particularly long. Lots of small things and ongoing projects included on it.  I decided I would spend the day making a start on the list. First job was to fill the storage boxes I'd bought earlier in the week. This was quite a quick job, but then led me into doing a bit of reorganising of the space under both the spare bed and our own bed.

Late morning, I re-potted a couple of my houseplants that needed it and then I went around the house watering all of them. This task is actually quite time consuming these days, but satisfying once done. Most of them seem to be surviving and some possibly even thriving, which is progress for me.

As it was a hot day, I put a couple of boxes of things we no long need outside of the house in case anyone wanted to take anything. I'm hoping they will.

By the time I'd done the above it was lunchtime, so I made myself my usual salad using homegrown lettuce. After years of failing to grow lettuce, we've had a real glut for the past few weeks, so OH has been trying to give it away to neighbours and fellow allotmenteers. It's a nice problem to have. Other things have started to mature at the plot, such as strawberries, which OH has been trying to eat down, courgettes, early potatoes and kohl rabi, so the fridge is starting to fill up again. 

At home, my dahlias, which I planted out into one of the raised garden beds the other week, have now started flowering and are beautiful, with lots of buds promising many more flowers. I can't wait. It's amazing how much joy growing a few flowers brings.

Here are some pictures of both the plot:

And the raised bed in the garden:

I'm loving my garden at the moment. It's wild with growth and very lush. Just the way I like it. It barely needs any work either, which is perfect, just a bit of pruning back and dead heading here and there and picking of fruit. Talking of which, my mulberry tree that I got for Xmas from OH a couple of years ago, has borne half a dozen fruits this year and they taste lovely. It's supposed to be 7 years before they fruit, but mine seems happy enough to produce them a bit early. 

I spent half an hour pruning back some climbers that encroach from next door. They were blocking the sun from the solar lights and preventing them from working properly. Hopefully, they'll work again now.

Later, I popped over to the glass shop to get some safety glass for the cupboard door in the vestibule. It was a bit more expensive than I envisaged, but it was needed to complete the job and constituted another item crossed off the to do list. I just need to get OH to fit it now.

I also spent an hour or so this afternoon doing some laundry and ironing. I didn't quite get to the bottom of the laundry basket, but one more crack at it and I should be able to finish it. Another pretty productive day.

On Saturday, I was back at work and OH headed off to a cycle event in Leicester. He ended up driving up to Yorkshire for the night after his ride to visit his mum and dad and help where he could, so I was home alone on Saturday night, as LB was out at a party. When I got home from work, I headed out with the dog. It was very quiet in the parks, as everyone was home watching the England game. It was bliss. I was so glad to finally get home afterwards to put my feet up.

And there ends another week.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Weekly Diary - W/E 3rd July - Part One - Including a Re-organisation of the Sewing Room.

This week has been quite a productive one, so for a change I've divided my Weekly Diary into two parts.

On Sunday, I picked as much ripe fruit as we had in the garden (gooseberries and blackcurrants), and made a pot and a half of jam. It always feels very satisfying to grow and make your own food. Later the same day, I accompanied OH to the allotment, to weed the paths around our plot, as inspection day was looming at the beginning of the week. Another satisfying job done. (The inspection went well and the Allotment Society were very happy with the state of the site in general, which was good).

On Monday, I felt inspired to reorganise the furniture in the sewing room. I decided that I would utilise the desk that LB no longer wanted as a sewing station. As soon as I got up, I got to work and moved everything out of the corner, so that I could get the desk in. OH helped by putting the legs on it and I was very happy with the results. I now have a view out to the garden when I'm sewing in this room. 

I forgot to take a before picture, but the room or rather the corner in which I sew, now looks like this:

I really like this configuration. I have a different chair too, it's one that we've had for probably 15 years or so and which also used to be in LB's bedroom. Rather than throw it out, I made loose fabric covers for the seat and back and I will use it as a sewing chair. In the course of the re-organisation, I made a matching mat for the desk top, to sit my machine on. 

Arranging the room in this way, has made it much easier to reach everything, i.e. my sewing books, tools, etc. and has made good use of the desk, which was previously just cluttering up the landing. Although the room is still more cluttered than I would like, it is an improvement and might just inspire me to do more machine sewing. I will be getting rid of the old desk, which used to just fit in the alcove under the shelves and I will be putting it out on the street along with a few other bits and pieces, for someone to take if they so wish. If there are no takers, I will take it to the tip.

Whilst carrying out the re-organisation, I also went through a pile of items that I'd put aside in this room, ready for the next Give and Take (not sure when it's going to be, if ever). I managed to condense it down a bit, taking a few bits out to donate to the clothing bank and the Little Free Library. (I dropped these things off later in the day) It's still taking up precious space in the room, but there's not much I can do about it. 

After finishing up in the sewing room, I spent the rest of the day running a few errands locally. I needed to take something back to Primark and exchange it for some new bras, which I desperately needed. I also needed to drop into the Building society and update my pass book, which hasn't been done in a couple of years. That was a nice surprise, to see the increase in my balance. (I get share dividends paid directly into this account). I also did a small top up food shop whilst I was out to get us through to pay day. 

When I got back, I washed and hung out a load of laundry, completed my monthly finances, cooked up some offal for the dog and then headed out with her for a walk. It felt like a super productive day. Hence, I went back to work the following day feeling that for once I'd achieved something on my day off.

On Tuesday, I was back at work. A lot of donations had come in the day before, so I spent all day processing the Gift Aided donations, which takes quite a bit longer than non-Gift Aid ones, as you have to apply a bar code to every saleable item. On a normal day, I get these donations bar coded and then I have time to price some other items to put in the shop, but not so today due to the high volume. I'm not complaining here, as we are always very grateful for any donations.

On Tuesday, LB was also working at her job in a pub restaurant in Central London. It was super busy due to the England vs Germany match as many fans were watching it in the pub. As a consequence, she was late leaving and then got verbally sexually harrassed by an older man (I use the latter term loosely) on the bus home. I was very upset to hear this, as she's only 18 and should not be made to feel fearful of catching public transport in and around the capital.

Wednesday this week was payday, and my day for doing the first big grocery shop of the month. There were a lot of things on my shopping list, so I needed to spend quite a bit this week, but it will mean that next week's grocery shop should be a lot smaller and more of a top up shop. I bought most of the items from Lidl and qualified for a £10 off voucher, as I had shopped there a few times during June. I now must make sure to use the voucher, before it expires in 7 days time, so I'll need to top up shop there early next week.

Whilst shopping in Tesco, I had £9.50 in Club Card vouchers to use, so I used them to buy a couple of under bed storage boxes to house my collection of vintage bed linens. I'd bought a couple during the last Lockdown, but still needed two more, so now I've finally got around to getting them. They are easier to use than the quite flimsy under bed storage bags I bought on eBay last year, which seem to rip easily.

When I got home, I unpacked the shopping and then did a bit of online shopping, as I needed to order some more of the skincare that I bought a while back. Luckily it was on offer at 20% off, so I bought two of each item, to keep me going over the next few months and added a different moisturiser from the same brand to try as I'm not 100% sold on the original one I bought. I topped up the order with a few other things that I use regularly, in order to get free postage, as the postage cost over £6 which was quite expensive. Everything will get used in due course and two items I bought as a gift for LB for Christmas. A bit of early Xmas shopping never goes amiss.

My final expenditure of the day, was on a smallish ASOS order, in which I bought a couple of pairs of canvas slip on plimsolls to wear to work, a new watch and a vest top. Once again, I made sure to spend enough to get free postage. My current slip ons are getting very scruffy, so I'm going to relegate them to dog walking only and keep the new ones for work. I'll post some pictures of what I bought in these orders once all of the items arrive.

That was enough spending for one day. I shouldn't need to spend much money for the rest of the week now. I'll just need to put some money on my Oyster card for getting to and from work.

The remainder of this week, I'll cover in Part 2 of this post, as it would make this post way too long to continue here.