Monday, 27 June 2022

A Productive Weekend

This weekend felt little more productive than some lately. On Saturday, I treated myself to a leisurely morning painting my toenails. It's a small thing, but I haven't done it in a long time. At least I now feel summer ready, especially when I wear flip flops or sandals.

After brunch, OH and I headed off to B&Q and ASDA to get a few things we needed over the weekend. I needed some more houseplant compost, to pot on some small plant babies and top up the plant I'd potted on the day before. I also wanted a small rosemary plant for the garden. OH needed some bits of wood to use for DIY and he also bought us a new 210 litre waterbutt, as our old one had long ago sprung a bad leak and was taken to the tip a few weeks ago.

From ASDA, I needed a few toiletries, and some bits and pieces of food, but was tempted by a dress, which I ended up buying. It was £16 and I thought it might be nice for our summer holiday. I'm afraid I couldn't upload the picture after several attempts, but it was a zebra print shirt dress.

Other than the few groceries we needed, we bought a new kitchen bin, as the latch on the lid of our current one has broken and it was difficult to open. I'll use the bottom half of the old one for potting on a tree or shrub. OH has already drilled some holes into the bottom of it for me.  He also set up the new waterbutt. We just need rain now.

The new kitchen bin isn't quite as big as the old one, which is good, as it will encourage us to create less waste and also takes up less space in front of the washing machine, making it easier to access. It also has a much simpler opening mechanism, either swing or lift up, with no catches or springs that can break easily.

Here's a picture of the new bin:

On Saturday afternoon, I took a bowl of water and some kitchen towel into the living room and dusted the leaves of some of our bigger houseplants, that were looking a bit dusty and neglected, but now look nice and shiny. I potted on a couple of plant babies and I'm hoping that they survive the separation from the mother plant.

In the garden, my dahlias in the raised bed are starting to flower. I particularly like this lovely red one.  Talk about sacred geometry. It's so beautiful. The mulberry tree is now producing quite a few berries too. They have the most amazing taste. Quite unlike other berries. I enjoy picking them off the tree and eating them.

On Sunday, I did some more ironing and put away lots of laundry, which cleared some of the clutter in the dining room. In the evening, I enjoyed watching Glastonbury again, especially the Pet Shop Boys and Years and Years.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

This Week

This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Monday wasn't a good day for me. I didn't sleep well on Sunday night, so I woke up feeling very tired. I headed off to the gym for my class. It was good and did energise me, but by the time I had done the weekly shop, got home and put it all away, I was feeling exhausted.

I decided to go back to bed for an hour or two to catch up on sleep. Next thing I knew, I woke up at 6.30 pm. I really must have been tired. Anyway, it was then time to walk the dog, so I headed out. Whilst I was out I checked the scratchcard that you earn when you shop using Lidl plus, to find that I'd won a £20 off voucher for use on the weekly shop next week.  It was a nice surprise, not to be sniffed at.

Tuesday was a better day, mainly because I'd had a good night's sleep. I got up, showered and then headed out with the dog in the morning and we had a nice walk around an old disused golf range close to where we live. It's very natural and wild and a real tonic to stroll around. Lots of butterflies and bees and a river running alongside.

When I got home, I decided to make some long avoided financial changes. I've had some shares for several years that really haven't been performing well. I chose and bought them myself, on one of the many share buying platforms that have sprung up in recent years. I hoped they would perform better, but several of them just haven't and don't seem likely to in the near future.

As a consequence, I decided to sell some of the shares and cut any losses. It's just too depressing watching them continue to drop in value. I have kept the shares that were doing well or that were due to pay out dividends in the next month or so, but some of them I will later sell and just keep profitable shares going forward. I'm also not going to buy shares for the forseeable future. I just don't have the knowledge to choose them successfully. I think I'd be better off buying into funds that are professionally managed, rather than buying individual shares again. It was an interesting experiment, but ultimately one that partially failed. Sometimes, you are better off just sticking to what you know. 

Later on Tuesday, OH & I went down to the allotment where I picked some gooseberries to make more jam. OH had already started using one of the jars I made last week, so I needed to make more.  I spent some time weeding the paths around the plot, as inspections are coming up at the end of this month. I also harvested some more beetroot, which I pickled once I got back home.

On Wednesday, I woke up feeling the need to get serious about doing more exercise. I decided to use my Lockdown exercise routine and do a few weights and floor exercises. I always feel better for doing them and it was the same on this occasion. It gets the day off to a positive start.

I had a good walk with the dog this morning, but the rest of the day wasn't that productive, which is okay. In the late afternoon, I headed out to meet some friends at a restaurant. It's the first time we've all got together this year, so it was lovely to spend time together.

On Thursday, I woke up to rain, which felt good after all the hot weather. I took the dog out on an urban walk, as I was notified on Whats App the day before, that there has been a predatory male, who has preyed on multiple women in our neighbourhood open spaces in recent months. It's very disturbing, I'm hoping the police catch him very soon.

I made another batch of jam today, almost four jars, except I spilt some. I had to run LB to work this afternoon as she'd hurt her ankle. I got a message to say that a suspected predator had been arrested - he was 16yrs old, which is quite shocking. Not 100% sure if he's the culprit or not. Two other teenagers have also been arrested in the area this month for groping incidents.

Friday was a slightly cooler day, which I was thankful for. I managed to do a bit of ironing in the morning before it warmed up and by early afternoon, it had cooled off again and clouded over. A bit of light relief from the heat.

Later in the afternoon, I ventured out into the garden and picked some more blackcurrants. I also did some pruning of some shrubs and trees that were getting a bit out of hand and smothering other shrubs in the garden. I also potted on one of our larger indoor house plants, as it was getting a bit tall for it's current pot. I then continued with some more ironing, so I was a little more productive today.

On Friday evening, we watched some of the artists performing at this year's Glastonbury festival on TV, which was a great end to the week.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Looking Forward

It's been a month since I left my job and I thought I'd post an update on my progress.

I am much happier since I left. It's not been without it's difficulties. I have good days and I have bad days. But the good does outweigh the bad on the whole.

Very soon I won't have any income, which is not good. I do have some savings that can tide me over for a while, so things aren't desperate. 

I've been constantly looking at jobs, but I'm not sure that jumping into another job is the answer at the moment, not a permanent one in any case. I don't want to have any sort of relapse and let anybody down.

At the moment, I don't know exactly what I'm going to do going forward, but all I do know is that I have to move forward into a different future.  I don't quite know what that looks like just yet although I do have a few ideas of a few things that I'd like to do.

I've reflected a lot on my recent working life and the conclusions I've come to are that it shouldn't have been so difficult or exhausting. It was a part-time job. I should have had time to relax and have a life outside of it, but somehow I found that I didn't. I've mainly put that down to the pressure that I put on myself.

Going forward, I'm not going to put myself in that position again, that would just be foolish.

For the moment, we're doing okay. Yes, I will have to cut my spending back to virtually nothing, but we have everything we need, much more than what we need if I'm honest. A bit of austerity in our household won't do us any harm. It will make us more resourceful and grateful for what we have.

The most important thing is that we have each other and some time to spend together and just enjoy our lives before things change again later this year when LB goes off to University.

I'm trying to use the experience to propel me towards something positive. I thought my job was positive, that I was doing someting positive in the world, until it turned out that it wasn't positive for me. Now I need to find something else that inspires me in a positive way. I'm sure I'll find it and I'll let you know as soon as I do.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

A Super Chilled Weekend Out and About

We had a super chilled weekend this weekend. It began for me with a bit of pampering and self-care whilst OH took the dog out on Saturday morning. When he got back, he coaxed me into going out for Brunch.  LB was out at work and the dog had been walked, so it was just the two of us. He persuaded me to get back on the electric bike and we cycled over to the Olympic Park, a couple of miles from where we live.

I hadn't been on the bike for nearly 3 months after an incident on my way home from work a few months ago. Some of you may have read about it on here before I deleted the post. Anyway, I was glad that I did get on the bike again. It was pleasant and relaxing to ride it through woodland paths on the way to the park, instead of riding it through the streets of Central London. It was raining lightly intermittently, but it didn't dampen the experience.

We walked through the commemorative garden for people who died of Covid during the pandemic, where they have planted trees in their memory. It is a lovely peaceful little part of the park.

We stopped off at a popular bakery in a residential area of the park and sat at a table outside, eating foccacia and drinking tea/coffee, before taking a little ride around the park and then cycling back home along the canal. 

It's been a while since I've been to the Olympic Park and it's actually 10 years this year, since it officially opened for the 2012 Olympics. I was reminded of how we would cycle over during the games to attend the different events that we had tickets for. A nice memory, that doesn't seem as long ago as 10 years, although a lot has happened since then.

On the way home, we stopped off at a local independent grocery store and I bought a few bits for the weekend before coming back home.  There was a pile of small parcels for me when I got back. I have spent a bit of money online in the last week. Only small items from different independent sellers, that will be very useful in the coming months. It felt a little like Christmas opening all of the parcels when I got in. That is the wonderful thing about online shopping, but I don't want to make too much of a habit of it, especially now that I'm not working.

On Sunday, we were up early to head off to our favourite Car Boot Sale in Hertfordshire. I decided to take just £20. After paying the £1 entrance fee for both of us, that left £19 to spend. I had a lovely potter around the stalls, picking up lots of bits and pieces.  The most expensive purchase was this lovely vintage Lapiz lazuli gemstone necklace. I love this stone. The stall holder, a lovely lady, who made some of the items on her stall, offered to reduce the price to £8, but I was happy to pay £10 for such a beautiful thing.

Most of the other items I bought were very practical and included this vintage PIFCO Magnascope or illuminated magnifier. I thought it was so interesting and might come in useful as I get older and my eyesight deteriorates!

A new cheese grater with attached container. I wanted this to grate a bar of Marseille soap to make hand or body wash. At 50p, and brand new, it will fit the bill perfectly.

Eco friendly dog bags made of cornstarch for £2, as we are currently running out of the bulk supply I bought way back.  These will keep us going for a while.

A vintage J&P Coates wooden cotton reel for 50p. I have a large collection of these and the cotton is good quality.

Two natural beeswax star shaped tea lights, a long handled refillable candle lighter, some garden twine for OH for 50p and two packs of black gel pens for 50p each, which always come in useful.

A nice little haul, everything of which will get used at some point.

When we left the Car Boot Sale, we headed off to Colchester, where OH was entered into an outdoor track cycling race. I had some lunch in the cafe while he raced and took a few photos for him. It was a lovely afternoon out.

Friday, 17 June 2022

A Pottering Kind of Week

This week has been one of the pottering kind. I have been taking it easy, doing a bit here and a bit there. There's still lots of cleaning to do in the house, but I'm doing it bit by bit, here and there, as I feel motivated.

I don't think the hot weather has helped. I just don't want to get all hot and bothered working up a sweat inside, when it's so hot outside.

Instead, I've been harvesting lettuce and fruit from the garden/allotment and pickling beetroot and red onion for my daily salads and I've been making jam using the fruit. 

I've also been making some homemade air freshener sprays for the house, using boiled cooled water and essential oils.  They seem to work as well as any bought air fresheners and I know exactly what is in them. Plus, it uses up the essential oils that I have had for ages and which must be almost going out of date by now.

I've also been catching up on washing, as there were piles of it in LB's bedroom. Just one or two more washes to go and it should be up to date.  When/if the weather turns at the weekend, as forecasted, I'll probably try to catch up with the ironing, but at the moment it's currently way too hot to even think about doing that.

I've been feeding and watering my houseplants, which was long overdue, doing small little jobs about the house, using up things that have been sat in cupboards for ages and watching a beautiful young fox that ventured into the garden. 

I've been taking leisurely walks with the dog, wearing summery dresses and skirts. Pulling things out of my wardrobe that I haven't worn in ages and making decisions about whether they suit me and whether I want to keep them.

I've also been changing my gym membership. As from next week, I'm going back to doing more classes through the week and at a different gym too. It's time for a change. This particular gym has no parking, so I'll have to get on my bike to go there, which will be good for me. I'm investing in myself again and towards getting myself strong, fit and healthy. 

I'm listening to inspirational people on YouTube, following inspirational people on Instagram and reading inspirational books and trying to figure out where I go from here. It's all good. I'll let you know when I know myself. 

Wish me luck.

Monday, 13 June 2022

A Visit to the Allotment

I haven't been visiting the allotment much lately. After more than 17 years of allotmenteering, it had become OH's domain in recent years, as I've not really had the energy. He's done a great job with it too. He's got greener fingers than I have, always has had. As a consequence, the allotment has been a lot more abundant under his care.

Going there today was good. I took the dog and he came along and met me there.  My first priority was to pick some of the hundreds of gooseberries on the bush, as I needed some to combine with some blackcurrants from the garden to make some jam. 

We're currently on our very last jar of the jam I made last year, which means that it has lasted the full year, so we've actually been self-sufficient in jam, which is a first. Not sure if we'll be that this year. It depends on whether I do any blackberry foraging later in the year.

Anyway, here's a picture of the plot as it looked today:

Aside from the gooseberries, we harvested some beetroot, kohl rabi, lettuce, rosemary, strawberries, raspberries and potatoes, so I'll have plenty to do washing it all, making jam and pickling beetroot.

To be honest, it wasn't all about harvesting, most of my time at the plot today was spent pulling up bindweed, that seems to creep in from the edges of the plot and strangle everything. It was good to clear it all away and give everything a bit more room and light to grow.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Decluttering for the Zero Waste Hub

This Saturday, there was another Zero Waste Hub in our borough. I've probably explained this a few times in my blog, but for anyone new to reading or who hasn't read previous posts about these events, I'll explain once again.

Four times per year our local Council organise what they call a Zero Waste Hub, where residents of the borough can take along anything they no longer want that might still be useful.  There are some things that they don't accept, such as white goods, large pieces of furniture, dvds and cds, etc., but clothes, homewares, toys, books, etc are all accepted.

In addition to being able to take along unwanted stuff, people can also take whatever they like for free. It's kind of like a free jumble sale. I love them and have been supporting them for several years now. Whenever there is one on the horizon, I go through as much of the house as possible with a fine tooth comb and send whatever I can along.

On this occasion, I'd set aside a couple of bags of stuff, but on the morning I decided to go through my wardrobe, some drawers and through a few other areas of the bedroom to gather as much as I could that I no longer wanted to keep.  

In the end, I took 4 reusable shopping bags full of stuff, one of clothes, one of homewares/books/bric a brac, one of cushion inserts, and one of plant pots, plus a small wooden table that we no longer needed. Hopefully, some of the items will find new homes and people will make good use of them.

I really love these events, although I have to say, that lately the majority of items donated seem to be toys and books, but it's still worth having a look around.  Today, I came away with two books, one of which I think I donated last time around, but would like to have back again, which was serendipitous. The other was this Man Booker Prize Finalist book by Hanya Yanagihara. The cover looks a bit depressing, but the synopsis suggests that it might be a very interesting read.

I'll be collating my donation for the next Zero Waste Hub in September from today.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

General Catch Up

It's been a while since I posted a catch up. It's been quiet here, I have just been hanging out at home for the past few weeks. I got burnt out at work and have left my job. It's taken a couple of weeks to recover and I'm still not 100%, but I'm just taking each day as it comes and trying to do what I can, which, to be honest, isn't a lot at the moment.

It's probably not the best time to leave a job, what with the cost of living crisis, but we can't always choose when these things happen and we just have to make the best of it. Health comes first. 

Luckily, we live quite frugally anyway, and we're savers rather than spenders, so hopefully we'll be okay. I'm not looking for another job just yet, I need some time to take care of myself, which is obviously something I haven't been doing for a long time.

Anyway, we had a lovely Platinum Jubilee Weekend. We didn't go anywhere or do anything much, which made it blissful. I watched quite a bit of the celebrations on TV and I really enjoyed it. I think it was really well organised and a fitting tribute to our lovely Queen.

Days here are passing quite slowly and peacefully. I'm in the throws of making a few changes, but just feeling my way for the moment. Baby steps.

Today, I spent most of the day in the garden. I decided to set about washing all the dirty plant pots from both last year and this year. It took a few hours, but I got most things cleaned, just a few seed trays yet to do, but they'll have to wait for another day. 

One of the reasons I did this today, was that there's another Zero Waste Hub or Give and Take day at the weekend and I wanted to take some pots there, as we have way too many and someone might be able to make use of them.

I've been pottering around the house finding other things to take too. A bit of decluttering is always a good thing and very therapeutic too.

Our washing machine door broke at the weekend, well the hinge did, so it's been out of action for a few days until the part OH ordered came. It came today and he's fitted it, so we can use it again now. To be honest, I was pretty up to date with the washing, so it broke at a good time, but there's always more to do.

We're currently inundated with lettuce from the allotment and the garden, so I'm back to eating salads which is probably a good thing, for my waistline anyway. We've been having to leave some lettuce outside the house for people to take, as we had too much and it was going to go over. Thankfully it was all taken.

My favourite instructor at the gym left the other week to take a break. We're hoping she will come back in September, but no-one is sure whether or not she will. I was sad to see her leave, but her health and family are the most important thing, so I'm happy for her that she's taking a break, whether it is permanent or not. 

Her replacement has been intermittently taking classes for us for a few months now and she's very nice.  I like her classes, so I'll still be attending when I can. I might even start cycling there, as it now costs £1.50 to park every visit. I know this isn't a lot, but when I'm not working and earning money, I need to try to cut back wherever I can. Besides, the extra exercise will do me good.

I'm hoping to get around to a full clean of the house in the next week or so too. It desperately needs it. I've made some smudge sticks from the sage I grow in the garden and I'm going to cleanse the energy in the house as I clean it. I'm just waiting for them to dry out.

I hope you are all keeping well.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Repairing the Decking and Time in the Garden

On Friday last, OH decided to take a day off work (he works for himself) and start work on repairing the decking outside the back door. As mentioned in a previous post, it had started rotting badly and was pretty dangerous to walk on, so he'd already removed all the rotted wood, in anticipation of repairing it at some point.

Here's a picture of what it looked like before he started:

He began by replacing the joists. Once that was done, he cut the decking planks to size, treating the bottom of them with wood preservative as he put them in place.

Here's what the decking looked like at that stage. It's a totally different colour to the rest, but will weather to a similar colour eventually. It currently just needs more preservative painting onto the top of the decking planks and then they need to be screwed into place, but it's taking shape.

With the advent of the Jubilee weekend, on Thursday after we'd watched the Jubilee fly past on TV, OH carried on with the decking. Whilst he was doing that I decided to plant out my dahlia plants, as they were now getting quite big. I filled the whole bed with them this year.

Here's a picture of them planted out in one of the raised beds:

I can't wait for them to start flowering.

I then tidied the area at the end of the garden and planted out a few more foxgloves to fill some gaps. It felt so good to work in the garden again. I haven't done any gardening for a while and it felt so therapeutic.

Once OH had finished repairing the decking, we could then repair and put back the small greenhouse and generally put everything back in it's normal place. He also cut up the old decking plants to use for firewood next winter. They filled the log shed. 

Later, I trimmed the honeysuckle down the side return and swept through and eventually all was restored back to normal.  It felt so good to get the garden put back together so that we can once again enjoy it over the summer months. 

Here's an after picture of the decking:

Later, we sat outside and had pizza al fresco on the new decking. It was lovely.