Sunday, 8 May 2022

A Long Weekend Off - Part Two

On the Bank Holiday weekend last week, OH wasn't cycling on Sunday morning, so he was free to come out with me to a car boot sale in Hertfordshire. I discovered it and posted about it a month ago.

We got up early-ish and headed out in the car with the dog. It only actually took us about 30 minutes to get to the Car Boot Sale, which was less than I expected.  It was very busy, with lots of stalls. I set off walking around whilst OH walked ahead to walk the dog. He's not so interested in looking at what is for sale.

It took me a good two hours to get around most of the car boot, by which time, many stalls were packing up ready to go home. I didn't look at every stall either or I'd probably have spent another hour at least. I probably spent about £25 in total this time around, most of which went on my favourite buy, this lovely brass bird cage, which cost £10. 

I bought it from a lovely old gentleman, who said it had been black when he'd bought it and he'd cleaned it up with vinegar and The Pink Stuff. He'd done a very good job. This was also interesting to know for future reference. It is missing it's door, but that didn't put me off as it's for purely decorative purposes anyway. I love it. I've stuck a tea light in the bird bowl. I could also put a plant in it, if I can find one that fits and allow it to grow through the bars.

Most of the other things I bought were small practical bits and pieces that I needed for different jobs/projects. A roll of brown wrapping paper, a fabric Sharpie pen, some ball point pens, a glass bowl, an elephant tea light holder, a sleeping bag (new with tags) but I've washed it anyway, a couple of small gifts, some large plastic plant pots for potting on large plants (10p each), some out of date vegetable seeds that will probably still germinate (six packs for £1) and a few items of clothing for me.

The clothes I bought included this silk (I think) scarf for 25p.

This dress was £1.50.

It's quite short, so I would need to wear it with leggings in the summer, but it's loose fitting and comfortable, so will be easy to wear.

This floral top is quite long and very pretty. It has lovely double fluted sleeves and cost 50p.

All definitely worth a try for the little I paid for them. I also bought a skirt for 50p, but it wasn't too flattering, so I will be donating it to charity.

It was interesting to note that this time around the entrance fee before 9am had been slashed to £2 and after 9am to 50p each, which was great. I will definitely go again.

On leaving the car boot sale, we made our way to a lovely little pub outside Hertford and stopped in for  Sunday lunch and then we took the dog for a short woodland walk in a sculpture park near Broxbourne, before heading home.  A lovely day out and just what I needed.

When we got back, OH started clearing the decking in the garden, as a whole strip of it, which is located immediately outside the back door, needs completely replacing. 

Here are some before pictures:

(Of course, the dog had to get her little butt in the picture)

In some places, the joists have rotted and need replacing and in other areas the decking planks themselves have completely rotted. It's a mess and has been getting progressively worse over the past few years. Obviously it is currently pretty precarious to walk on, so I'll be very happy when it's done.

He's doing a patch up job for now, as the cost of building/landscaping materials has soared since lockdown. We're just going to try to make good as best we can, as the various bits of decking deteriorate.

(The dog gets in the shot again!!)

Here's what it looked like by the end of Monday, when he'd finished clearing away the decking. It's now all ready to repair.

I hope you had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

A Long Weekend Off - Part One

This week I finished work on Thursday night, knowing that I had a lovely long weekend off work ahead of me. I didn't need to be back at work until Tuesday, so four blissful days of free time lay ahead of me and I was determined to make use of them.

On Friday morning, I rang the doctor's surgery to get the results of my chest Xray.  Although my cough seemed to ease after taking anti-histimines, it's still there and some days are better than others. Anyway, the doctor got back to me and informed me that the Xray was completely normal, which was reassuring and she is pursuing a particular avenue of diagnosis and treatment. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I need to go for a blood test in a week or so to rule out certain other issues, but hopefully it isn't anything serious and can be treated successfully.

On the way back from the morning dog walk, I dropped into the allotment to see how OH's hard work is paying off and I took a few photos. He's got quite a lot growing on there already - potatoes, asparagus, shallots, beetroot, lettuce, peas, plus the fruit bushes and strawberries. Here's a few photos:

The spaces left uncultivated are for tomatoes, cucumbers, sweetcorn, kohl rabi and courgettes, the plants for which he has started off in the greenhouse and are doing well. Here's a photo of some of them in the garden at home:

We've also got more lettuce in one of the raised beds at home, which should help keep us supplied through the summer months.

As Friday was also payday, I spent a couple of hours attending to my finances. I overspent by £10 this month, mainly due to catching the bus to work instead of cycling for the past two weeks. It was worth it though to give me a bit of a rest. Otherwise, my finances are okay and progressing in the right direction, albeit very slowly.

Later in the afternoon, I headed off to do a bit of top up shopping for the weekend. Whilst I was out, I got some interesting news via email. I'll elaborate in another post.

On Saturday, I decided to do the autumn/winter to spring/summer wardrobe changeover, so out came all the bags of stored clothing and into storage went all my winter jumpers, scarves, etc., There's are more items to go into storage downstairs on the coat rack and an in the ironing basket but I'll pack them away another day

I have to say that I didn't feel very inspired by what came out of storage for me to wear this summer. My wardrobe is looking decidedly dull. I may have to invest in a couple of new pieces this summer, probably dresses or skirts.  Just need to find ones I like and that are flattering.

On Saturday night, LB was out with some friends. OH and I had a takeaway as a treat. Not a healthy one though, but sometimes it just feels good to indulge for once.

Part two of this post coming tomorrow.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Quilting Update

The last few weeks have seen quite a bit of activity on the quilting front. The Diamond Garden quilt that I started several weeks ago, has really come on and I just have to add to the edges to level them all around the quilt, then maybe add a border and the top is done. I think I've just about got enough fabric to complete it.

Here's a picture of it as it is now:

I don't know what I'm going to use to back it. Probably quite a heavy fabric, as I may not actually put any wadding in the centre, because I don't actually have anything I could use at the moment. I may find or think of something suitable.

The small hexies are also mounting up as you can see from the photograph above. I took them with me on our recent weekend away and managed to get quite a few made. That is the great thing about a project made with such small pieces. You can take it anywhere. I remember taking a similar project to America with us several years ago and sewing them in the campervan en route to the Grand Canyon. 

The picture below gives you an idea of the size of each one.

There is currently a preponderence of brown fabrics amongst them, but there's still plenty more to make from different coloured fabrics before I start to sew them together. I have no idea what I'm going to make with them yet, but that's all part of the fun.

I enjoyed watcing the first episode of the Great British Sewing Bee this week. Looking forward to coming episodes. Hoping to get my sewing mojo back sometime soon.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

A Busy Week

This week got off to a busy start on Tuesday. I returned to work after the Bank Holiday weekend feeling a bit rejuvenated and keen to get stuck in. I decided to go up to the shop floor for once and take out all of the clothing that had been in the shop too long. Call it a Spring reset if you like. It's not something that I've done very often in the last two years, as very capable volunteers have taken on the task, but as no-one had done it the day before, because the shop was closed, I decided to do it myself.

It was nice to be on the shop floor for a couple of hours. It makes me realise how much I miss having contact with our customers, the vast majority of whom are lovely. It makes me feel more connected than when I'm just downstairs working away in the basement, so that was good.  In the afternoon, I was back downstairs getting stock ready to send upstairs. It felt like a very productive day. 

On Wednesday, I stayed home. When I got up, I did a few small organising jobs that I've put off for ages and put away various things that had just been thrown to one side until I got the time to deal with them. Baby steps of progress, but there is just so much to do at home at the moment. This is why I need to get a work/life balance.  At the moment, most of my time and energy goes into work and I'm tired on my days off. It's not how it should be.

I wandered out into the garden in the morning and it was lovely to see things growing and it greening up. Such a tonic. Several of my dahlias are starting to sprout.  After walking the dog, I came home and spent a couple of hours in the garden. 

Firstly, I attempted to tidy out and mend our mini greenhouse. Quite a few of the plastic joints had split, causing the frame to collapse in places, so I had ordered some new ones on eBay and they'd been sat on the kitchen table for weeks. I finally managed to fit them where I thought they were most needed and then ordered some more, as there were several more that needed replacing. They'll take a few weeks to arrive as they're coming from China, but that seemed to be the only place I could get them from on eBay.

Next, I used the large pot I found on the dog walk the other day, to plant out some sweet peas that I bought from outside someone's house near Spurn Point, when we were there the other week.  Here's a picture of them planted up and my attempts to protect them from birds, etc.

In amongst the sweet peas were a few pansy and foxglove seedlings, so I transplanted them into pots too.


Free plants make me very happy, I can't see them go to waste. I also planted up the last dahla tuber that I had bought. If they all grow well, I should have a lovely selection of colours this year, to keep the house looking cheerful in late summer.

Later in the afternoon, I hung out some laundry, had a nap for an hour, read a chapter of my current book and then I attempted to tackle the ironing mountain. I have way too many clothes and the ones still in the ironing basket are probably things that I no longer need to keep, as I just keep leaving them there. I need to sort through it and possibly send some of it to the charity shop.

It felt like this was my first day off in weeks, where I had been productive at home and it felt good.

Thursday, I was back at work. When I got to work there were quite a lot of donations to process, so I just got on with those. Donations kept coming in all morning. Anyway, eventually, having done as much as I could, I then moved on to another job that needed tackling and that I don't get time to do every week. This felt quite satisfying.

On Friday, I decided to take action about a health issue I've been having lately. I've had a cough for the past six weeks or so, which seems to be getting worse and it was particularly bad on Thursday at and after work. I'm starting to think that I might not be taking good enough care of my health and need to make some changes.  I decided to ring the doctor on Friday, as I am an ex-smoker and I wanted to be sure it's nothing serious. It could just be allergies connected to pollen in the air or even clothing fibres at work, but I wanted to get some advice, as I never normally have health problems like this. 

After a conversation with the doctor, she sent me for a chest Xray and advised me that until the results come back, I should try some steam inhalation and hayfever/allergy medication to see if this helps.  She was super nice and very thorough in her explanations of what could be causing it, which was very reassuring. I decided to go for the chest Xray the same day, so that I can get the results as soon as possible.

I also went to Home Bargains today, to pick up some bits we desperately needed. It was a bit of a drive, but I needed it just for a change of scenery and to clear my head.

On Saturday, I was back at work. We are quite short of volunteers on Saturdays at the moment, but we managed to get through the day okay and also to get quite a lot of stock onto the shop floor. I was glad to get home though and just chill for a couple of days, it's been a busy week.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Easter Weekend

This Easter we stayed put in London, as we'd only just returned from a trip to Yorkshire the previous weekend. I've had a lot on my mind this last week and been very distracted, so I was looking forward to the Easter weekend. I've been back to my normal days and hours at work this week, which has been good.

I was working on Maundy Thursday and took the bus in to work, as I just wasn't feeling like cycling in.  Sometimes, I just need a break from it. Getting into work was a bit of a nightmare, as I had a long wait for a bus. I was instantly regreting taking the bus, but not enough to go home and get on my bike. I eventually got to work with just a minute to spare.

Work was busy as usual. We're getting a lot more donations at the moment, so I spent most of the day working my way through them and pricing clothing. I felt physically and mentally drained when I left work and looked forward to a Good Friday at home with no plans.  

Good Friday was a chilled day at home. OH was cycling at the local velodrome all day. I could have gone with him, but I had a few things that I needed to do, including completing LB's student finance application, after finally getting the information that I needed from work. I was happy to get that done at least. Both OH and I have now completed it, so she should get an offer at some point in the near future.

On the dog walk on Friday night, I picked up a couple of pots on the route, that someone had left outside their house with a note saying 'Please take'. This big pot will come in useful for a fruit bush, tree or shrub at some point, although it does need holes drilling into it.

The woven basket, I thought was pretty and was in great condition, just a few leaves and a bit of soil in the bottom. I may put one of the plants in the living room into it. Great freebies. 

Saturday, I was back at work. Central London was very busy with people visiting the capital over the Easter weekend. The shop was steady but not super busy. I got quite a bit of work done today, but I wasn't really in the zone, like I usually am. OH came into town to pick me up from work, as I'd bought a few bulky items and needed to get them home.  I was really tired on leaving work and OH parked up and we stayed in town for a drink and pie and mash at a pub near the shop. It was nice to eat out together, to get a lift home and for us not to have to cook supper for a change.

The rest of the Easter weekend was spent just chilling at home. With travel chaos everywhere, I was glad that we didn't need to go anywhere. On Easter Monday, I attended my usual class at the gym in the morning, which was good. I was very happy to hear that my instructor had finally successfully managed to get her mother over to the UK from the Ukraine, which must have been a massive weight off her shoulders.

OH came along with me to the gym and walked the dog in a nearby park until I was finished and then we both headed off together to do the weekly shop, which made a change. Whilst I did the shopping, he filled the car with petrol and put it through the car wash, as it was filthy, and then went to buy a few things he needed from B&Q. A pretty boring but chilled weekend at home. Nothing exciting happening here.

I hope you guys had a lovely Easter weekend.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

This Week

This last week has been altogether more agreeable. I finished work on Thursday of the previous week. I was pretty tired after working 6 out of the previous 8 days, so the first couple of days I just chilled and did some work on my current patchwork to help me relax. I had to take naps in the afternoons just to get me through the day.

By Monday, I was feeling a lot better and headed off to my Zumba class. Our regular teacher was back and it was great to see her and take her class again.  After class, I headed off to do the weekly shop, but once again I had to be back home in time to do another online course for work. This time it only took an hour, thankfully, especially as I was on leave.

I had the week off work this week, and I really needed it.  I decided to use some of the time to try to get updates on my workplace and state pensions. I managed to get a couple online, but I had to send off an email requesting an update on another workplace pension. It's only small, but I like to know what is due to me, especially at the moment, so that I can plan ahead.  I'm currently looking around to see what other jobs are out there, so personal finances are important at the moment. 

There's a lot of stuff going on in the background in our lives currently. OH's parents have caught Covid recently and we've been concerned about them, as his father in particular is very vulnerable. They have recovered well though, which is a relief. My sister's husband has also had some serious health problems in the last few weeks and I was very concerned for him too, but luckily, he too is recovering well. At times like this, things like problems at work seem to pale into insignificance. Life is too short to be unhappy where you spend many of your waking hours. It's not as if I'm earning a huge wage, I'm not.

A bit of good news did drop into my email inbox this week. I won two £25 prizes on the Premium bonds.  Definitely not to be sniffed at. I have my account set up so that any winnings get reinvested into more bonds, to give me more opportunities to win in the future. This is only the second time I've won in the last year, the last time was in September 2021, but £75 in prizes in one year is way more than I'd get in interest on the amount I've got invested, so it's working for me so far.

Towards the end of the week, we travelled up to Yorkshire for a few days. I hadn't been out of London since mid December and I definitely needed some time away. Getting back to where I grew up on a regular basis is important to me and helps me stay grounded. Despite the Easter holidays being on the horizon, we managed to hire a cute cottage that was perfectly adequate for our needs, at a reasonable rate, in Holderness in East Yorkshire and we had a lovely few days relaxing, exploring the surrounding area and visiting family. It was just what we needed.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

A New Week and Another Twist

After my last post, which ended in a very negative way, I just wanted to apologise to anyone who may have been offended. I really didn't need to be quite so literal in my description of what happened on Saturday night and it wasn't fair to inflict that on my readers. I think I was still in shock.  So I apologise for that and there will be no graphic language in this post.

This week has been another challenging one. After a couple of days off on Sunday and Monday, I returned to work on Tuesday. Before I'd even put my bike away, one of the volunteers who had helped to run the shop the day before, called to say that she had tested positive for Covid and I was informed that the intern who had been left to run the shop on Monday and who was present in the shop, was also feeling unwell.

As a consequence, the first hour or so was spent calling and emailing around the 7 or 8 volunteers who had been working the day before, to warn them that they may need to take a test in the next day or so, as they had had contact with someone who had had a positive test. I eventually managed to contact each one of them, so hopefully they will have received the messages/emails. I wasn't sure how many of them would return to the shop later in the week.

My focus was then on getting hold of some lateral flow tests, so that our intern, who was visiting the UK from abroad, could take a test. A volunteer who lives locally, kindly volunteered to go home and bring some back to the shop, so that he could test himself. Fortunately, his test was negative, but as he was feeling unwell and to minimise risk to others, I sent him home to rest. 

Sadly, the drama didn't end there, as when another volunteer came in in the afternoon, they tested positive too and had to go home, which left just myself and one other volunteer for the rest of the afternoon. As a consequence, I had to work on the till, which was okay, as I quite enjoy it and never get the chance normally. We limped through the rest of the day, but I wasn't sure if we'd remain open or what was going to happen for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, I tested negative again and headed into work for 10am. One volunteer and the intern didn't turn up, so it was just me and one other volunteer until some new volunteers arrived at 12noon. I had to get them trained up on the till in one hour and then they spent the afternoon getting used to it, as there were no other volunteers to do it, as two more volunteers had called to say they wouldn't be coming in. They did well though.

On Thursday, my day at the shop started out a bit manic, as I had two collections arranged, one of which I had no knowledge of and had to scramble around collating the items they were coming to collect. Eventually, though the collections were done and things calmed down a little and I was able to do some work in the stockroom. I decided to price some bags, as the pile was getting very high and a few people had come into the shop asking for specific types of bags.

Later, I managed to get out to the bank. I was quite glad of the long queue, as I could just chill whilst I waited in line. I did some clothes and homewares pricing when I got back and then did the last 20 minutes on the till, so it was a varied day. I had to ride home whilst it was snowing lightly. It was so cold. It felt so good to get home and relax, knowing that I'm done for the week and hopefully next week too.

When I got home, I decided to look for some accommodation for us all to get away for a few days. I'm desperate for a break. We managed to book a lovely little cottage on the East Coast of Yorkshire, near Spurn Point, for a short stay. I can't wait to go and we'll be able to visit family too, which is a bonus. A super positive end to the week.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

A Slightly More Interesting Weekend

After returning to work for two days on Thursday and Friday last week, I was free on Saturday to attend a local Zero Waste event, to which I took a couple of bags of unwanted stuff. I was glad to take them and free up a bit of space in the sewing room. I'm always putting aside things I no longer want or need and they build up over time.

The event was at a new venue in the playground of a primary school. Luckily, there was a car park I could drive into, which is very unusual for these events, and which made it much easier to drop off and allowed me the opportunity to have a look around for once and see if there was anything I wanted to take home with me.

It was a lovely sunny morning, perfect for this kind of event. I didn't take much home, just a hand brush to go with the dustpan in the kitchen. The other thing I brought home with me was this book which I have started reading and am enjoying:

The remainder of Saturday I spent working on my Diamond Fields patchwork project. I am limited as to how big I can make this quilt, as I have a limited amount of the grey background fabric. To date, it's looking like it will be a lapsized quilt/wall hanging. I've also decided to start making super small hexies again, from fabric in my scrap basket. I'm not sure what I'm going to make from them yet, but it's fun making them and using up otherwise unusable bits of fabric. Waste not, want not, etc.

On Sunday, I had to get up at 5.30am to take OH to the airport to catch a flight to Spain. He's gone away for a few days with some cycling buddies, so I am on double dog walking duties and all other dog care in his absence.

As I had to get up so early, I decided to make it worth my while by checking out if there were any car boot sales in the vicinity of the airport and as luck would have it, a rather large one was restarting that morning, so I decided to take the dog with me and it doubled as her walk for the morning.

Here's a picture of the car boot in a large field:

I was there very early (7am) and as a consequence I had to pay more to get in at that time. I found out when I left, that it only cost £1 after 9am, so in future, if I decide to go again, it will be after this time. There were, however, long queues of people waiting to get in as I left at 9.30am. 

The boot sale itself was pretty big, with lots of stalls, some selling new stuff, some second hand. I enjoyed a good walk around, but I didn't have a whole lot of money with me, and to be honest I didn't see a whole lot of stuff that I needed. I did buy the following though:

This small lacqured box with a bird motif for 50p. (I have a very small collection of boxes with birds painted on them.)

A large unopened bottle of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum for LB, a gift for next Christmas, it's her favourite tipple. This was £10 and was an unwanted gift. It would probably cost twice this amount if I bought it at the supermarket.

I managed to find three wine glasses for £1, which we urgently needed. I did buy some new ones at Christmas, but they are too tall to go in the top tray of the dishwasher and too fragile to go in the bottom tray, so I will donate them.  These are a much better size and are a bit more sturdy.

I also bought a box of Rescue Remedy lozenges which are supposed to be good for clarity and composure. They are orange and elderflower flavoured with added vitamins and taste nice enough. They are out of date, but I didn't pay much for them and I don't worry too much about such things.

Another thing I bought was this collander for 50p. It said on the back that it could only be handwashed, but I've put it in the dishwasher regardless and it seems to have come out okay. I think the copper colour on the bottom probably wears off in the dishwasher, but I'm not too concerned about this.

Finally, I bought some fruit from a stall selling it by the bowl. I bought tangerines, bananas, plums, flat peaches, grapes, avocados and melons, all for £7. I think I would have paid a lot more for these at the supermarket. The quality was pretty good too.

I was pretty restrained on this occasion, but I would probably go back, even though it is a 30+ minute drive from London, as there are very few car boot sales in and around where I live and it makes for a good morning out on a Sunday.

Having said this, I did get lost on the way back, due mainly to some road closures and I ended up almost in Ealing, West London, which was very annoying. I found myself going the wrong way on the a circular road around London and didn't realise until I'd got this far west. I did get home eventually, but what a waste of petrol and time. Not cool.

I spent the afternoon continuing with my patchwork and I have to admit that I did go back to bed for a couple of hours after such an early start. All in all, it was a slightly more interesting weekend.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

A New Week

This week, I'm feeling much better, having largely recovered from the worst cold that I've had in years. I'm still quite congested nasally, but other than that I'm feeling more or less back to normal. It does feel like I've lost a week somehow though.

This week I have had four days off in a row, as I changed from working on Tuesday, to working on Friday. This was actually quite useful, as it gave me the opportunity to do some work around the house, which desperately needed doing.

Monday, was the usual gym class and weekly shop kind of day, so nothing else got done, but Tuesday was a bit more productive.

I started the day, having booked a slot at the local refuse tip, to take lots of junk there. Between OH and I, we managed to fully fill the car with rubbish to take, which has created a little more room here and there. I also have another pile of stuff to take to a Zero Waste Hub this weekend, which will free up a bit more space too, so it's a kind of clear out week that we're having here this week.

The only exception to this, is that with everything that is going on in the world, I made the decision in the last week, to put together a home emergency kit of sorts, that might be useful in the event of power outages, etc. I've purchased a few things such as battery operated lanterns, candles, tealights, matches, batteries, etc., that we can reach for should there be any difficulty with power supply of any sort. There's a few other things I need to get before I feel I've completed the kit, but I know that I'll feel a lot more secure knowing that I won't need to rush around trying to buy these things, once they've already disappeared from the shelves of the shops. They may, hopefully, of course, never be needed, but I do like to be prepared and nothing is perishable in any case.

On Tuesday afternoon, I decided to tackle the cleaning of the front bedroom. It was still covered in a layer of dust after having the front sash windows replaced. Now OH has finished what he needs to do in there for the moment, I could go ahead and clean up a bit. This in turn, also freed up more space in the sewing room, where I had stored many of the bits and pieces from the book shelves for the duration.

It took a good three hours, just to clean the bookshelves and one side of the room, afterwhich I felt quite tired and called it a day. Later, in the evening, I also tackled the mountainous pile of ironing that has accumulated lately.

On Wednesday afternoon, I continued with the cleaning of the bedroom and managed to clean almost all of it, save for the bookshelves in the opposite alcove, which I'll have to tackle another day. There was so much dust on top of and even inside the wardrobe. It feels good to finally get it cleaned up.

It felt like I had a productive few days off anyway, although there is still a lot more cleaning to do in the house at the moment. I've found it hard to knuckle down and do it in recent weeks with one thing or another.

Today, however, I'm heading back to work. I hope you've had a productive week.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

A Catch Up

It's been over a week since I've posted, mainly because I was getting back into a routine after returning to work. My first week back was okay, save for the commute by bike, which was made a bit more precarious by the Tube strikes, which created  a lot more traffic on the roads making some drivers more aggressive and agitated. Sadly, a woman was killed, quite close to where I work in Central London, after being knocked off her bike. It saddens and scares me to hear such tragic news.

Another reason for not posting has been the tragic war in Ukraine, which has constantly been on my mind for the past two weeks. I know it's probably not the done thing to mention such a heinous thing here in blogland, but I can't continue to post and just ignore what is going on in the world. It colours everything. I sent off some things via a local church last week and I am hoping they will be useful. I know someone who has a relative in the East of the Ukraine and is unable to get out, and my thoughts are constantly with them.

Anyway, at work, I felt I had made progress on my first week back, but on Sunday night I started with the symptoms of a cold. I had a really prickly throat for a day or so, followed by streaming nose, congestion, cough, etc. I had to stay at home on Tuesday, as I wasn't well enough to go back to work. I don't know if it was because I haven't had a cold for a couple of years or what, but this cold was a pretty horrible one. The most I could do at home was to just quietly sit sewing my new patchwork quilt. The only plus of being unwell, was that I made some progress on this and have now started to sew the diamonds together, so it is starting to take shape.  

Here's a picture:

Anyway, by Thursday I was feeling a lot better and after taking a PCR test, which was negative, I headed back into work. I decided to get the bus, as I still wasn't feeling 100% and didn't feel strong enough to ride the bike.  Work was okay, still not many clothing donations. It seems to be becoming a permanent feature of our shop post-lockdown, sadly. We are still getting plenty of other donations such as books, homewares, shoes, etc., but just struggling in terms of clothing. Could it be a sign that people are buying less and donating less? I doubt it, more likely people are still working from home and not dropping donations to us. Anyway, we do what we can with what we get. I was able to spend time pricing a few different things today, which is always enjoyable. It makes my work more varied when I'm not pricing clothing all the time, although I do enjoy it.

On Friday, I was feeling a lot better. I did a small top-up shop at ASDA. I found this week that I had more money in my bank account than I thought, as I'd taken some outgoings off the balance twice.  That was a bonus and I felt much less financially challenged as a consequence.

I ordered a few things off eBay this week. Just small, practical things that I need for the house, garden or my sewing projects. They didn't cost much, but I'll have a few parcels coming my way in the next few weeks, which is always a little exciting. I don't really feel the need to spend a lot of money at the moment. I think two weeks of having very little discretionary spending money, has helped to break the habit of buying things just because I want to. It has made me very focussed on what I need and what I don't. I don't really want for anything and with prices rising all around us, this is probably a good place to be at the moment. I have plenty of jobs to do around the house to keep me busy and out of the shops in my spare time.

In other news, the dog has recovered well from an operation she had a couple of weeks ago. She needed some teeth removing, which were causing her a lot of pain and some fatty lumps removing, and she seems to be back to her normal self, which is nice to see. OH even managed to remove a couple of non-dissolvable stitches that had been put in one of her wounds yesterday.

LB is back working front of house at a local theatre and seems to be enjoying it. It is good to see her getting out and about again, as she hasn't had any money to do anything for a month or two now. She has applied for her student finance for University and I now have to complete the parent financial assessment part of the application, but need to get information from work, as I don't receive paper payslips, everything is digital.

OH is going away for a few days this month on a cycling holiday to Spain with some friends. I'm sure he will have a great time. In the meantime, I need to check my passport and see if I have enough time left on it for our family holiday later this year. We're also going to Spain, but via a ferry and taking the dog with us in our cabin. It's the first time we've attempted this, so it will be interesting to see how it works out. We still need to get her a health certificate to travel though and find some pet friendly accommodation.

For entertainment, we are currently part way through the current series of Succession which is good. OH subscribed to NOW TV, so that we could watch it and we are intending to also watch the series called Mayor of Easttown with Kate Winslet, before cancelling the subscription. We've also really enjoyed watching all three series of Ricky Gervais' After Life on Netflix, which has had us in fits of hysterics at times, something that doesn't happen often. Laughing is so therapeutic.

I hope that you are finding things to lighten your mood in these dark times that we are living in.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Making a Loose Armchair Cover

About a year ago, I embarked on a brand new project to make a removable armchair cover for an armchair that we bought a number of years ago, when OH's dad came to visit one Christmas. It was bought inexpensively last minute, and he didn't actually find it comfortable to sit in, but we did and have enjoyed it ever since.  

The trouble was, it wasn't very attractive, it was a bit dirty and worse for wear and it didn't really fit in with our decor. I'd tried stretch covers, but they didn't fit well and were a synthetic type of fabric that I didn't really like.  

As a consequence, we considered getting rid of it when we bought a new armchair and footstool for the living room, but in the end we decided to keep it, as it is a very comfortable chair to sit in and we could imagine it as a lovely reading chair. I then decided that I would try to piece together a removable cover for it.  

Here's the chair in question:

To make the cover, I basically draped the chair with fabric and cut the fabric around it's different features, i.e. the wings, the back, the arms and the seat. It took quite a while to do and was quite tricky, but once the pieces were pinned together it began to take shape.

Here's a photo at the end of the pinning stage:

The fabric I used was from a large pair of dark grey linen IKEA curtains, which I think I might have bought at a charity shop, but I can't actually remember. I managed to incorporate the curtain tape around the bottom of the chair to create a finished edge, which saved a bit of sewing and (to be honest) because I was too lazy to unpick it all.

Once pinned together, I proceeded to tack and then machine sew the pieces together on my machine and then try it back on the chair. It's not a perfectly tight fit, but then loose covers shouldn't be, but I'm happy enough with it, especially considering it's my very first attempt at making these.

Having machine stitched it together, it was left in situ on the chair for probably six months or more, until this last week when I took it off and continued work on it. I finished tacking and then machine stitching the velcro into place at the front and back, so that it could easily be put on and pulled off the chair when it needs a wash and this concluded the main body of the project.

All I then needed to do was to make a cover for the seat cushion. Looking at the original, it had a zip along the back edge, so I tried to make the cushion cover in the same way. I needed to use the second of the two IKEA curtains for this purpose, but I didn't use a whole lot of it thankfully, as I want to use the remainder for a new patchwork project.

I didn't expect the cushion cover to take too long to make, but sometimes it's the things that seem most straightforward that take longer. Eventually, after much pinning/tacking/untacking/pinning/tacking and then finally machine stitching, I managed to get it done. Fortunately, I had a long grey zip in my stash that I could use as the fastening. I didn't pipe the edges, like the original, and it's not perfect, but it looked okay regardless. It was just great to finally finish this project after such a long time.  

Here's a picture of the finished result:



There are strips of velcro down the entire back of the cover at each side which make it very easy to take off and put on again, and also shorter strips of velcro on the bottom part at the front.

I'm super happy with it. It means we could save the chair from landfill and still enjoy using it and it probably saved us hundreds of pounds, which is how much it would have cost to get a cover made by someone else, as they can be very expensive.  It was a different sewing challenge for me, but one that brought a lot of satisfaction. It challenged me, but I met the challenge head on and succeeded and that's a great feeling.

I'm now looking forward to actually enjoying the pleasure of just sitting in it again and simply reading a good book. Bliss.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

A Weekend of Getting Things Done

This weekend, which also constituted the last few days of my week off, has been all about getting things ticked off my long outstanding to do list. Some of the items have been on there for over a year, and it was high time that they were completed.  

The first project I decided to tackle, was to adjust one of the aprons that I made for use at work and change it into a slightly different style. This meant cutting the original apron in half, gathering the skirt section and adding a waistband and fabric ties to the waistband and the neck. I got one apron completely converted and ready to use this weekend and also started work on a second, which I'll try to finish on one of my days off next week. Here's a picture of the one I finished:

(Please excuse it's crumpled appearance, I haven't ironed it)

I then decided to try to finish a removable armchair cover, that I'd started making over a year ago. Most of the cover itself was already completed, save for sewing on some velcro, but I also needed to make a cushion cover for the seat cushion.  As this was a big project, I have made a separate post about the completion of it.

In between working on the chair cover, I created some pieces for my new paper pieced quilt project. Here are some of the diamonds I've completed so far:

This project is definitely going to be a major stash buster, which is great. It feels good to use some of this fabric. Some, I've already used for projects, and others I've never quite found the right project for. It is also going to be a long term project. I've already cut out over 600 paper pieces ready to use and I may need to cut the same again, once I've used these. It's very hard to say at this stage.  I relish a challenge though.

As it took most of the weekend to finish the chair cover, I was finally able to cross it of my 'to do list' on Monday evening, when I finally machine sewed the cushion cover together.  Once again, it wasn't perfect, but I was very happy to finally finish it, as it has definitely been a challenge.

I now feel that I can go back to wor,  knowing that I have made some definite progress on my week off. My 'to do list' is several items lighter (although there are always more things to add to it) and I can finally use the chair again and also enjoy my new quilt. I'm hoping it will spur me on to complete a few more of the other items that are still outstanding over the next few weeks, when I get some free time.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Financial Round Up - February

February, has been another month where I had a lot of outgoings and very little discretionary spending. I'd spent a lot on credit cards in January for LB's and my sisters 60th birthday, and these expenditures had to be paid off this month, in order that I didn't have to pay any interest.

In addition, LB was due to go to the dentist for a checkup and I had budgeted for the possibility that she might need a filling or two. In actuality, she didn't even need her teeth cleaning, so this was a win and the check up only cost me £24. This meant that there was a little room in the budget, which I then used to book her an appointment for an eye test, which was also due. 

She needed some new glasses, as she had lost hers on a night out on her birthday last month, so she was making do with some old glasses, but the prescription wasn't strong enough and she desperately needed some new ones.  I had to pay upfront for the glasses, which cost £124, more than I had hoped. She'll get them next week, all being well.

With regard to other discretional spending, I spent more this month than last month. I think that being on a tight budget for two months led me to a bit of break out spending on a couple of occasions.  Not large sums, but when added together they did add up to almost twice as much as last month.

I took another week off work towards the end of February. Once again, I found myself with very little money to spend on my week off, so I didn't end up doing anything particularly exciting. I mainly stayed home and spent lots of time sewing, which in itself was quite a treat. At least this didn't actually cost anything and I got to finish a project or two.

We were going to go away for a weekend whilst I was off work, but the first weekend Storm Eunice hit, so it wasn't good timing to go to the coast. It also coincided with half term, so prices were exhorbitant and availability was limited. In the end, we didn't bother, which did give me and OH more time to spend on projects at home. Besides, it's no fun going away when you have no money to spend.

In terms of the budget, most of the categories for this month were overspent, some by more than others. Two categories came in under, these being food and home.

Food - £384.83 spent (Budget £400)  = -£15.17

Household - £67.72 spent (Budget £50) = +£17.72

Misc - £168.87 spent (Budget £50) = +£118.87 - This expenditure included LB's new glasses at £124.

Home & Garden - £11.57 spent (Budget £50) = -£38.43

My Personal - £97.41 spent (Budget £50) = +£47.41 - This expenditure always includes gym classes which I spent £32 on this month.

Gifts - £67.26 spent (No budget currently)

On account of my credit card expenditure this month, I'll be having another low spend month in March, but there will be room for a small amount of discretional spending, which might help me avoid any more unbudgeted lapses. March, however, is a long month, so I can't promise budgetary success, as I know myself well enough by now. To try to distract myself from spending I'm going to continue to focus on finishing some sewing and other projects in March, energy levels willing.

In addition, I will be putting £50 away each month from now on, towards paying for Christmas and birthday presents, to avoid getting into this ridiculous situation again at the beginning of next year. I guess sometimes, you just have to dig in and get through tough financial patches. Forward planning helps, and that's why I intend to do more of it going forward. Being on the back foot financially, is not a comfortable or enjoyable place to be.

I hope that February has been a good month for you financially.

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Enjoying Another Week Off

My week off  this last week, got off to a good start on Sunday, in that I was able to spend the afternoon machine quilting rows on an unfinished quilt project from last year. It felt so nice to do something creative, as I just haven't had much time or been in the right place mentally for it lately. 

I got a bit frustrated at times, when I made mistakes and had to correct them, but eventually it was done and I could move onto the next stage of binding it. I always enjoy this stage, as it's like putting the finishing touches to something you've worked on long and hard and is very satisfying.

I picked up a couple of freebies on the dog walk on Sunday, from a local Little Free Library. Someone had put some seeds in there, so I took a packet of tomato seeds for OH and the book for me. He has already sown these. You can't beat finding a freebie now and again. Especially when you're on a tight budget.

On Monday morning, there was another storm raging here, with high winds, but I headed off to Zumba regardless and then went on to do the weekly shop. As it was the last shop of the month, I tried to keep it to an absolute minimum, in order to stay on budget as much as possible. I had a £2 voucher to use at Lidl and a £4.50 voucher to use at Tesco this week, which both came in handy. 

I did, however, get tempted in the Middle of Lidl, and spent £12 in total on a squirrel proof bird feeder, a vest and some leggings.  The leggings are definitely going to be returned, as I don't know what I was thinking there, but the other two items I will keep. I think being on such a tight budget this month, has definitely led to a few lapses.

On Tuesday, our dog was due at the vets to have an operation. This was, of course, a big source of stress. She needed some teeth removing and some lumps too, one of which had grown quite big. I busied myself sewing for much of the day, trying to stop myself from worrying about her. I was glad when we got the call to say we could collect her. She looked very dishevelled and confused, bless her. We don't take putting her through this lightly, but her teeth were causing her pain and needed attention.

On Wednesday, I took LB to the opticians for an eye test.  The two pairs of glasses that she eventually chose, cost more than I had anticipated, as there always seem to be added extras to pay for. The bill came to £124 and that, of course had to go on the credit card, which is thoroughly depressing as it leaves me with another big credit card payment next month. I'm hoping that this is the last month this year when this will be the case. I really didn't think I'd be entering a third consequetive low spend month this year, but such is life.

The remainder of Wednesday afternoon was spent working on the binding of the quilt I've almost finished, whilst watching the last available episode of Sanditon on iPlayer and then later, I cooked up some offal for the dog. After her ordeal at the vets, it was the least I could do, bless her.

On Thursday, I managed to finish the quilt I'd been working on which felt great. I've done a separate post about it, for anyone who's interested.

In the evening, I had arranged to go and see the reading of a new play in Victoria. A few other people that I knew had also been invited, so I met up with them there and we had a really lovely evening catching up and enjoying the play. 

On Friday, we made the decision not to go away for the weekend. Prices and availabilty just weren't ideal due to it being half term, and to be honest, we have so much stuff to get on with at home currently. We may go to France for a week in April instead, if I can get some time off work.

Having made this decision, this meant that I still had four full days left of my leave to try to finish a couple of other sewing projects and maybe do some work in the garden. I'll make a separate post about these last few days of my week off.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Lockdown Quilt Project Update

Back in March 2021, during the third Lockdown here in the UK, I posted about a new quilting project that I had started, mainly to help keep me sane, but also to try to use up some of the fabrics in my huge fabric stash. 

The project itself, was to make another king sized quilt for a bed, but this time I used brick shaped paper pieces to create the different fabric bands of the quilt top. I did this, because it would take longer to complete and keep me occupied during the last few weeks of Lockdown.

I did a bit of work on it before returning to work in April, but for the first month after going back to work, I didn't really pick it up at all. Once I got back into the routine of work, I started to enjoy doing a bit of work on it in the evenings whilst watching TV or on my days off. I always find it very therapeutic to hand sew anything. 

This last week, when I've been off work, I've managed to find the time to finish this project. I just needed to add the backing, quilt the large rows and then add the binding. It felt good to finally get it finished.

The project itself involved creating approximately 600 paper pieces that I hand cut, basted and then pieced together to form the quilt top. It was a lot of work, probably the most pieces that I've ever pieced together for a quilt top, but I really enjoyed the process.

I used mainly ditsy prints from my stash, including the odd vintage Laura Ashley print and I enjoyed selecting the fabrics. It was a real stash buster, which was very satisfying.

Once I'd hand sewn the quilt top, I could remove the paper and sew the finished quilt top to the vintage green woollen blanket that I used as wadding. You will see it here in the photograph, underneath the finished quilt top.

Once the quilt top was finished, it took a good six months before I returned to the project, as things at work just got too busy. Also, I didn't have a fabric in my stash that was wide enough to use as a backing fabric.

Eventually, I decided to use a red mini polka dot print fabric that I had enough yardage of, to piece together and make a backing from. The join didn't show too badly, once the respective parts of the quilt were machine quilted together. This saved me from buying any more fabric, which I was reluctant to do, as I still have so much in my stash.

I utilised one of the fabrics I used for the top, to bind the edges of the quilt and I'm pretty happy with the result. It's not perfect, but it's only for home use, so I can live with a few flaws.

Here's a picture of the finished quilt:

As you might have gathered, I really enjoy making quilts. It is a happy place for me. There is no better feeling than sleeping snuggled under a quilt you've made yourself. What better way to enjoy fabrics that you love, than to wake up underneath them every morning. They make for a very cosy night's sleep and they make me smile, as I recall the satisfaction I got from making them.

I've already started on my next hand sewn quilt, but I do need to finish a couple of unfinished projects before I really get stuck into it. I'll post once I make some progress worth photographing.

Monday, 21 February 2022

A Quilting Rabbit Hole and a New Quilting Project

On Sunday evening, after an afternoon of working on my current quilt project, I slipped down a quilting rabbit hole on YouTube. I'd read an article earlier in the day about a quilt that had sold at auction for just under $88,000. 

It was amazing to see that quilting is finally being taken seriously as an art form and that vintage and antique quilts with certain provenance are selling for such amazing sums of money. The article mentioned various quilters whose work is very collectable. One such group of quilters was the Gees Bend Quilters of Alabama, USA.

I'd never heard of this group, as I've never really looked into the history of quilting, save for what I've seen at exhibitions and in museums, so I decided to look them up on YouTube where there were numerous videos about their quilts and their lives. Very interesting too. Some of their designs are quite abstract and very colourful. I was fascinated.

I decided to make a YouTube quilting playlist, so that I could save lots of quilting videos and watch them at my leisure, which is what I've been doing since. It only takes having a bit of free time for the quilting bug to get hold of me again.

In other quilting news, I ordered a set of hexagonal quilting templates on eBay last week and they arrived today.  Here's a picture of the full set which cost £5 including postage. I thought this was a bargain.

There are various ways you can use them, although they didn't come with instructions. I guess the inside of the hollow hexie is the paper size and the outside the fabric size. Anyway, I won't be using a template for the fabric, I just pin the paper pieces to the fabric and cut around them. I picked one that seemed to be the best size for my new project and I've already started to use it to cut out some paper pieces for the project.

I do love all the different stages of doing a hand sewn paper pieced quilt. The initial cutting out of paper pieces, which I can do whilst I'm watching YouTube videos, then the choosing and cutting out of the fabric pieces. The hand pinning and basting of the hexies, followed by hand sewing them together to make the quilt top. (I often do these latter bits whilst watching TV). I think the parts I like the least are attaching the wadding and backing, as these to me are the trickiest bits.

Anyway, the design for the new quilt is called Diamond Field I believe, and it's believed to date back as far as pre-Civil war in the US, although I believe it was named in 1932. It's similar to Grandma's Flower Garden, but instead of flowers, you create diamonds with the hexies and place them on a one colour background.  

There's an example of a similar quilt to the one I want to make which I found on Pinterest. You can see it here The hexie they've used for this one, however, is much larger and the background a different colour to the colour I'm going to use. I love the simplicity of the design. I may make it as a bed quilt, a lap quilt or even a wall hanging. I'm not sure which yet. I guess I'll just see how it goes.

I haven't chosen the fabrics I'm going to use for the diamonds yet, although I have pulled a few out of my stash to see how they might go together. The background fabric I'm using is dark grey and the size of the quilt will depend on how much of it I have left after finishing making a chair cover with it.

It was originally a large pair of IKEA linen curtains. I used one curtain to make the majority of the chair cover and I still need to use part of the second curtain to make the chair cushion cover. Whatever is left after that, will be used for the quilt, hence why I can't really gauge the size until that project is finished, but it doesn't prevent me from getting started, which is very exciting.

I'll keep you posted on progress and show you some of the diamonds when I've actually made some.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

A Bit of a Catch Up

The last couple of weeks have been a bit busy, so I didn't get around to posting.

Work, has been okay. A couple of weeks ago we had another visit from the charity's Visual Merchandiser, who always cheers me up. The shop closed for a day and we moved around of some of the sections. It was a lot of hard work, but the shop looked good afterwards.

We haven't been getting that many donations lately, so things have eased up a bit and I got the chance to do lots of different things and more corners of the stockroom got cleared. I'm now on another week's annual leave until 1st March, so it's nice to have some time at home again, catching up with unfinished projects and keeping on top of housework.

Yesterday, I worked on an unfinished quilt project for most of the day. I'm hoping to get it finished or at least get to the point where I only need to hand sew the binding onto it, as that can be done when I'm watching TV in an evening. It feels good to be making progress with these things again, as they've been kicking around untouched for months now.

A couple of weeks ago, we had new sash windows fitted to the front of the house. Here's a picture of the house before:

and after.

It doesn't look that different in the photographs, but it should be a lot more economical now we've got double glazing. It is also much more soundproof which is an added bonus.  The whole front of the house now needs re-painting and the dead climber needs removing from around the upstairs windows, but we'll get around to it eventually.

Everywhere inside, is now covered in a layer of dust, but I'm not cleaning it up until OH has finished off the trims on the inside of the windows, upstairs and down, as more dirt and dust will build up while he is working on them.

In the last couple of days, I've started a new health kick. I'm not going to say much about it at this point, as I may not stick to it, but I'm hoping to form new habits that will help me lose weight and that will just generally help to make me feel better about myself. We'll see.

I've got  a few things planned during my week off and we're hoping to get away for a couple of days towards the end of this week. We were going to go this weekend, but Storm Eunice hit, so it didn't seem a good time to go to the coast. Also, it's currently half term and prices are sky high with little availability.  It would be good to have a little break though. 

I hope that you all came through the stormy weather without too many problems.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

First Week Back at Work

You might be able to tell that I'm now back at work, as the blog posts have slowed down somewhat. I mentioned my first day back on Tuesday in a previous post.  On my day off on Wednesday, I was really tired, despite sleeping okay.

I ended up spending the afternoon in bed reading a new to me library book by Lucy Worsley called Jane Austin at Home. It's a really interesting biography of how Jane Austin's life was really lived in the different homes in which she lived, her influences, what activities occupied her time (besides writing, of course) and the education she received as a girl in Georgian England. Information therein has been taken from letters she and her family wrote and other family accounts of her life, plus it references the books she wrote and that have been written about her and the lives and careers of her siblings and other family members. I'm really enjoying reading it.

In between chapters, I fell asleep for a couple of hours. It felt wonderfully self-indulgent to sleep during the afternoon, as I didn't actually get much time to snooze and relax on my week off, as there was so much to catch up on at home.  The back reception room was full of the new sash windows that were delivered earlier in the week, waiting being put in, so it wasn't possible to get on with any ironing. Instead, I holed myself up in the spare bedroom upstairs.  I paid the price for that afternoon nap in the evening, as I didn't sleep a wink.

On Thursday, I was back at work again. My first priority was booking some more leave. I've booked a week off at the end of this month. I've got a couple of things planned that week and we might get away for a few days this time.

I didn't dive into processing the donations today either. I decided to spend an hour re-organising parts of the stockroom and getting out the last of the winter bags of clothes that we'd put away last year. They needed to go into the shop, whilst there's still a chance of them being bought and pricing them was another task I completed later in the day. 

I probably really annoy anyone who works with me, as I'm quite particular about how tidy I like the stockroom to be when I'm in it. No one really keeps it that way when I'm not there, it's just an ongoing one woman battle against chaos, but it keeps me feeling like I have some control. I just don't function well when I'm surrounded by mess and chaos. Anyway, I managed to eat my sandwiches at 4.30 pm instead of 6pm, which is the usual, so I was kinder to myself today.

Friday morning here was rainy, so the dog wasn't keen to go out early. Instead, I did the washing up, sorted some laundry, had a leisurely breakfast and pottered in the garden pruning a few plants that needed it. Eventually, we got out for a two and a half hour walk!! (That's just how long it took, as dog is very slow these days). That was the morning gone. 

In the afternoon, I decided to sign up for a 6 week free trial of Readly, which is a magazine/newspaper subscription app. I kind of got lost down that rabbit hole for the afternoon, but I did find a few interesting magazines to read. I rarely read magazines, as they are so expensive to buy. After the free 6 weeks, it costs £9.99 per month.  Not sure if I'll continue to subscribe. I'll see how much use I get out of it, but it is nice to find something to read on afternoons when I'm not at work and it is more sustainable than buying paper magazines, although I do love them.

Later, I watched a TV programme on iplayer about Jane Austin and her connection with the county of Hampshire. It was originally shown on Channel 4 and was presented by Mariella Frostrup. It tied in nicely with the book I'm currently reading that I've mentioned above.

On Saturday, I was due to work from 10am instead of 12noon, as the Manager wanted the day off. I didn't have many volunteers working with me, but we managed. To be honest, I prefer working with just a few people, as sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming when there are lots of volunteers working who all need to be assigned tasks and taught how to do them in many instances. We had a good day with regard to sales and I was able to do a variety of tasks. For the most part, I was working alone in the stockroom, which I don't mind at all

I managed, with the help of a new volunteer, to get the winter scarves replenished, as we need to get as many sold as possibly in the next few weeks, before the weather turns warmer. The boxes of scarves in the stockroom had been seriously overflowing, so I was able to get them back under control, which felt good.

Later, I also priced a whole heap of gloves that had built up, so we had plenty of those on sale too. They tend to sell quite quickly, once they get out onto the shop floor.

I also sorted through the heaps of shoes that had accumulated and sent a few bagsful to other shops and put some in storage for the summer months. This helped get this area under better control too, so this side of the stockroom looked a lot better by the time I'd finished. It felt like a productive day. I need to price some shoes in the coming week, but I didn't have the time on this particular day, as I also needed to process Gift Aid donations and re-organise a couple of other messy parts of the stockroom.

I left feeling like I was getting things back in some sort of order at least, for how long, I don't know. I didn't over do it though and ate my lunch at a reasonable time too, so I'm making progress.

Currently, we are watching Ricky Gervais's After Life and I am quite enjoying it. We started season two this evening and then watched one of three episodes of a documentary about Andy Warhol that we'd recorded.

My sleep pattern is very disturbed at the moment. I keep waking up really early, sometimes 4 or 5 am and am not able to get back to sleep. It leaves me quite tired the next day. I'm hoping it doesn't continue for too long.

I hope you've have a good week.

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Back at Work After My Week Off

As I've mentioned in a couple of posts, last week I was off work, as I needed to use up some annual leave before the year end. To be honest, I was in desperate need of some time off after working over Christmas and New Year.  The build up to Christmas in any retail environment is very intense and unrelenting and I think I was virtually burnt out by the time I did go on leave.

I don't think I realised how burnt out I was, until I got away. It took a couple of days to acclimatise to being off work, and I didn't do a great deal during this time. As the week wore on, I decided to use the opportunity to get the house up to scratch. It has been very neglected in the last few months. All of my energies have gone into work and there's been very little left over for the house. Getting it clean again and back in some sort of order has made me feel a lot better and more in control of things.

We were going to go away for a few days toward the end of last week, but as I got stuck into the cleaning, it didn't seem so important.  I may regret this, as it would have been good for blowing away the cobwebs, but I should be taking another week off in the next few weeks, so perhaps we can get away then. For now, getting back on top of things at home seemed more of a priority, as the state of the house has been weighing me down both mentally and physically lately. Only by tackling it did this weight lift.

I returned to work on Tuesday this week.  I can't say that I was looking forward to going back, the main reason being, that I don't seem to be able to find a good balance lately, between doing enough and doing too much. I push myself to work relentlessly hard when I'm there and it leaves me feeling very depleted.

After spending some time thinking about my situation at work, I went back feeling a bit more detached than usual and ready to stand back a little and not overdo it. I want to try to stop pushing myself so hard to do everything that needs doing, to the detriment of my health and wellbeing. 

Anyway, when I got back, there was a massive stack of Gift Aid donations to sort. I tackled what I could that day, but I didn't push myself quite so hard and I spent some time tidying the stockroom, as I hate to work in a messy space. I didn't get everything done, but I felt okay about it. There were a few new faces which was good, and an ex volunteer popped in to say hello too. I worked with one new volunteer who was lovely.

What I particularly enjoyed about going back, however, was getting back on my bike. I've missed the extra exercise I get by cycling to work. Although I did a lot of cleaning last week, which is physical work, I have been much more sedentary and I needed to get myself moving again. It is also a good stress buster, which is an added bonus.