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.