Friday, 27 May 2022

Loving Right Now

It's been a very long time since I've created this type of post, but there are a few things that I/we have really been loving lately. 

For me personally, I've really being enjoying writing in a journal. It's something I haven't done for many, many years, well, since I was a teenager in fact, but I'm actually finding it very therapeutic and I think I'll continue for the forseeable future.  It's especially useful when I need to grapple with difficult issues. Writing down events and my thoughts and feelings around them, just allows me to express things that I might otherise find difficult to express in any other form. It's a practice I would recommend to anyone.  I'm a very private person, which might sound strange because I document parts of my life on this blog, but some of my true feelings and concerns, I very much keep to myself and it helps to have a place to write them down and offload them. 

Reading is another thing I've been enjoying lately. I've always been a bit of a bookworm my entire life, I've always got at least one book on the go. My current book is called To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink and it talks about how many more people these days are selling at work, either directly or indirectly and it goes on to talk about who the most successful sales people are and why. It's interesting. 

I've been lucky enough to read quite a few great books this year, but there have been some that I haven't enjoyed reading too. One in particular, a very famous book by a male author, which I tried reading recently and which I won't name here, for fear of causing offence to people who may have enjoyed it, wasn't really my kind of thing. Way too much toxic masculinity.  A good positive read, however, is always a joy and an escape for me.

Entertainment wise, we've watched some superb TV this year too. After Life by Ricky Gervais on Netflix was a hoot, despite being about the very serious issue of grief. It was so full of humanity. I can't recommend it highly enough. OH subscribed to NOW TV this year, mainly for us to watch the current series of Succession, but we've since watched Mare of Eastown with Kate Winslet, which was great and we are now slowly working our way through 6 seasons of Billions starring Damian Lewis. It's very good, but full of deceit, backstabbing and bullying.

On a more positivie note, other things I've enjoyed recently include spending a little bit of time in the garden, repairing the greenhouse and just generally pottering. I forget how therapeutic gardening and growing things can be. It's lovely to get back to it, even if it's just in some small way. Now the garden is greening up, it's just lovely to see it becoming full of life again. It seemed so bare in the winter and it's now bursting into growth. I feel blessed to have it there outside my back door, to see the birds use the birdbath and feed from the bird feeders.  I love to watch them fly freely from branch to branch in the garden.

Finally, I've also been enjoying going to car boot sales. After a long winter without any, it's lovely to spend a few hours rummaging around and discovering some lovely little finds, whilst out and about in the fresh air.  Bliss. 

I hope there's lots of things in your life that you're loving right now.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

A Birthday Lunch and a Small Charity Shop Haul

Last week was OH's birthday. On the day itself, he headed out for a cycle ride early and before he came back, I needed to get up and wrap all of his presents, so they were ready on his return.

Later, we decided to go out to lunch at a local restaurant that we enjoy visiting. We had a lovely relaxing time. LB came too. It was lovely to just go out as a family and spend family time together. It's not something that we do too often these days and we definitely should do it more.

On the way back to the car, I dropped into a local Hospice charity shop. I'm still looking to find a few more colourful summer outfits. I found a couple of things on this visit. I only had 10 minutes or so to look, as this was all that was left on the parking time, but the first thing I found was a lovely loose fitting summer dress for £7. 

When I got home and tried it on, it was okay, but I decided that okay wasn't really for me. I'd rather have something that I love. I don't think I can get a refund, but I can exchange it, so I'll probably go back and have a longer, proper look for something else. It's a lovely little charity shop, and has it's own furniture and bookshop adjacent, so I'll get a chance to look in those too.

The second item I bought, was this lovely leather belt for £5. I like the way it fastens like some bracelets do and it actually fitted me, which was a definite plus and something I've struggled with in recent years. I love it and it will be great to wear with dresses.

I did also buy a couple of small items for 50p each, namely these multifaceted crystals that I was told came from an incomplete chandelier. They are so pretty. I'll find somewhere auspicious to hang them at home.

LB made a purchase too. She bought her dad this lovely set of Game of Thrones bottle stoppers as a birthday gift. We all thought that they were really cool and they reminded OH and LB of the hours they spent watching the complete series on TV. They are something that he will definitely use, as he likes a glass of red wine in the evening.

Not the most successful shopping trip, but enjoyable all the same and I've now got a good excuse to go back.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

A Potter in the Garden

After returning from OH's birthday lunch on Friday, I had a quick potter in the garden.

The dahlias tubers I potted up are doing well. It will soon be time to plant them out into one of the raised beds.

I really love this corner of the garden where I've got foxgloves growing. There's a mixture of white and purple ones. It feels like a little woodland area.

The main border has burst into life. I love to see the fern. It reminds me of a trip I made to the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago with a friend, which is where I bought it. I was looking at tickets the other day and they are quite expensive at £75 to £90. I'd like to go again sometime though.

I don't have many flowering plants in my borders, mostly just lemon balm, a twisted hazel, a couple of palms and a fern. I probably should try to put more flowering shrubs in the garden.

There's lots of lettuce growing in one of the raised beds. I've stopped buying it for the time being. We're going to eat this and some more we've got growing at the allotment.

There are more ferns at the end of the garden. I pulled some bindweed out from here. There's always some growing up amongst the fronds. These plants started off so small, it's lovely to see them growing so big now.

Just thought I'd share a little look at what's growing in my back yard.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Four Days Off

On Thursday night, I left work and was looking forward to four consequetive days off over this weekend. So exciting.

OH headed off to Yorkshire on Friday morning by bike, to visit his family for a couple of days. It was his dad's birthday on Monday and he's becoming increasingly frail after several strokes. I thought about driving up to meet him there, but to be honest, I was glad of the chance of a few stay at home days of rest.

LB was working quite a bit, so I had the house to myself for the most part, which was nice and restful. I managed to tackle a bit of the massive ironing pile. I was running out of clothes to wear for work. I was also responsible for double dog walks and dog feeding/medicating whilst OH was away, but that was okay.

I made a beautiful discovery on Saturday.  The small pansies, retrieved from amongst the sweet peas I bought when we visited Yorkshire a few weeks ago, are in fact johnnyjumpsup or wild pansies, the flower that I named this blog after. Serendipity if ever there was any. 

I haven't had any of these beautiful little flowers in my garden for many years.  They used to grow and self seed profusely on the very first allotment I rented 17 years ago and I just loved them. Here's a picture of a couple of them that have started flowering:

I was so happy to discover this, it's great to have them in my garden once again. I may plant some out at the allotment to do their thing. I did have a suspicion they would be wild pansies, that is why I potted them up, but it was still a thrill when they flowered and confirmed this.

Sunday was another quiet day. In the morning, I took the dog out. I got a message from OH to say he was on his way to catch a train back to London. He got back about 3pm. This afternoon, I spent looking up some new free courses on Udemy. They had some interesting ones, which I immediately enrolled on and one in particular I did there and then. It was very useful. I've now got a stack of their free courses to work through as and when I get the time.

Monday, was a busy day. I went to the gym as usual and met up with a friend there, before heading off to do the weekly shop. I decided to have a little splurge on some new summer clothes today, as I haven't spent money on new (as in, not second hand) clothes in a long time. I bought two dresses, one of which I'm taking back, but here's the one I'm keeping;

Please excuse the creases, it's straight off the dryer.

This waterproof jacket for walking the dog on rainy days this summer. I just love the colour. 

A pair of gold trainers which were very inexpensive. 

It felt very nice to treat myself for once. It's something I've not done in a long time and I've spent so long wearing dark colours, it's time for some brighter colours in my wardrobe. Sometimes, it'd just got to be done.

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.