Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Boobs and Fairy Lights!

Good morning! I bet the title of this post grabbed your attention didn't it? No, I haven't been adorning my chest in preparation for the festive season, I have merely bought some fairy lights to brighten up the dismal afternoons that we seem to be having at the moment .........................oh, and I have been summoned for my first ever mammogram.  
Here are my twinkly lights:
I am defiantly classifying them as winter lights, as opposed to Christmas ones. Despite the fact that our neighbours put their Christmas decorations up at the weekend - it's NOVEMBER for pity's sake! I'm not a great fan of Christmas decorations. Truth be told, if left to my own devices I think I would probably go to the other extreme, putting them up on Christmas Eve and taking them down again on Boxing Day. My birthday is December 28th and, believe me, it's a sucky time to be born! Stamped all over by Christmas, ("this is for Christmas and your birthday dear" being the phrase that every child longs to hear!) and then nothing to look forward to for a whole year. My mother even used to take the 'Merry Christmas' sign off the cake and replace it with a 'Happy Birthday' one - despite the fact that it was half eaten! Bitter, me?! Anyway, we now compromise, getting the tree (which I do actually like) after E's school breaks up, usually around the 10th, and taking the whole lot down on the 3rd January in time for E's birthday on the 4th. Yes, I know, I timed that badly too!
There is tension every year over the tinsel - beloved by everyone else in the family but considered the work of the devil by me. I can't stand the stuff and would happily jettison it to Room 101, along with whistling (it makes my brain itch!) and people who festoon the town with sheets declaring 'Happy Birthday Kylie' or some such nonsense. It's not the putting them up that annoys me so much - it's the failure to take the wretched things down again after the big day. There they flap, filthy and progressively more tattered for the next 2 months; a hideous blot on the landscape.
Oh my, I do seem to be having a bit of a rant this morning! Moving swiftly on .......
This afternoon, I'm booked for my first mammogram. Perfectly routine, but I'm not exactly looking forward to it. Let's face it, it's not exactly going to be afternoon tea at The Ritz is it? Stripping off in a mobile unit (mammovan?!) in a hospital car park and having your breasts squashed between 2 X-Ray plates until they resemble an anatomical version of pitta bread isn't my idea of a good time. Embarrassment and discomfort aside though, I never doubted for a nanosecond that I would do it. Having lost a good friend to breast cancer just over a year ago, I would happily strip off in said car park, even without the van, if it meant that I didn't have to go through what C did. Check your boobs, ladies!

Aside from my WINTER lights, other happies this week have included:
Butterfly cakes and squash soup for lunch:
 My beautiful irises - I just love that combination of purple and yellow:
 A new garden mobile - bought for a mere £2.99 from a Christmas Fair at our local theatre:
 Loving the bountiful crabapples on our little tree:
Joining a new gym. My old one closed down at the beginning of the summer when the council sold the land for new housing. Since then, I have attended a pilates class and forced myself to go swimming at the local pool. Sadly, said pool is a bit on the grim side - it's not the cleanest and it smells of rancid mop. So, a membership to another gym is going to be my Christmas and birthday present (count them!) from R this year. It's heaven to have clean changing rooms once more and swimming has become a pleasure again, rather than a keep fit chore.
 A cup of tea and a magazine:
Crocheting some snowflakes. Initially I tried some from a book but found I was struggling somewhat, so I did what a lot of us do when we have a crochet problem and headed to Attic24. Lucy's easy to follow tutorial made them quick and simple. It was the first time I had tried blocking too. I bought this pad last year, thinking it might come in useful for blocking. Unfortunately, E then borrowed it for one of her archaeological digs, so it's now a bit on the bent and grubby side. It still did the trick though, along with a can of spray starch.
Since the weather is colder, the ducks have started coming up to the patio to be fed. This one can get a little impatient and often taps his beak on the glass to hurry me along.

Lastly, a beautiful bunch of flowers from my lovely neighbour (not the one with the premature decorations!) as a thank you for cat sitting at the weekend whilst they went to Centre Parcs:
Anyway, that's all for now. Enjoy the rest of the week and have a fun weekend.
Toodle Pip. x

Saturday, 14 November 2015


What Ho! Another week, another post. Not a lot has gone on around these parts this week. The weather, on the whole, has been pretty grim - wet, windy and unpleasant to be out in. We all seem to be incubating colds, E is bogged down with school work and L is in Oxford for a few days. So, mostly it's just been Hamish and me cosying up inside. Here are a few photos of our week:

Lighting the lanterns to cheer us up on a dark afternoon. I really love my lanterns - they are souvenirs from holidays. The little one on the left is from Istanbul and the bigger one from Marrakech. 
 Doing a few ripples on E's Dorset blanket and noticing that the colours match my tights beautifully!
Working on my Summer Primitive Stitching. It's going to be a cherry tree, so there'll be lots of French knots to do - not my forte!
 Hamish trying to help:
Having a happy half hour with a cup of coffee listening to L play the piano. She is very musical (no idea where that came from!), has perfect pitch and always amazes me with her sight reading ability. Nothing makes me happier than listening to her and E practising; I love a house full of music.
Having a Nigella moment!!! Did you hear the hoo-hah after she spent 5 minutes showing us how to make avocado on toast in her latest series?
Spending a merry morning ( a dry one for a change)  replanting my pots with some cheap flowers on sale at Homebase. Some of them looked a little peaky but I'm sure they'll perk up.
Fergus keeping me company. He has a lady friend at the moment but she's rather timid:
The last of the toms for this year. They're currently in a brown paper bag with an apple to help ripen them. Now, I REALLY must get around to clearing out the greenhouse for next year.
Starting another 'smurf' hat. This one may be either for E (who miraculously rather liked the one I made for L) or me. We'll have to see how it turns out.
 Lighting the stove while storm Abigail blew and starting the ribbing for the hat: 
This photo made me laugh - that's the ball  of wool on my lap; I'm not pregnant! A lit stove, cosy slippers, a bit of knitting and Miss Marple on the television - heaven! To cap it all, the fan element had blown on the cooker, so while R was fitting the new one I had no means to make dinner and we were forced to have a take away!
Well, that's my week - I did warn you that not a lot happened. Sometimes though, that can be just what we need. I'm just off to make a hot cup of tea and to hunt out those balm tissues. I hope the weather treats you kindly this week; keep warm.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Friday, 6 November 2015

Autumn Primitive Stitching

Well, it seems that autumn is well and truly here: morning mists, dewy spiders' webs, berries galore and darker school runs in the afternoon. The colours this year have been beautiful - there is something about the combination of golden leaves and sunshine (if we're lucky!) that warms the heart and makes it my favourite season. I'm looking forward to more foggy days too; cosying up inside and doing a bit of crochet - bliss! You never know, I may actually get my Dorset blankie finished, but I wouldn't hold your breath!
Here are a few photos, taken last Sunday, of the garden and from my walk into town to visit the Artisan Market - to be honest, this was a little disappointing; the crafty bits were a little thin on the ground and I came away empty handed, apart from some chocolate covered candied orange peel for the girls. I enjoyed the walk though:
See my new shoes! I actually bought these in the summer when E was doing her work experience at the Mary Rose Museum and I had a week killing time, kicking around the historic dockyard. There was an outlet centre nearby and initially I found a small packet of buttons that I thought would be a nice souvenir. Before I knew it, I had bought 2 DVDs, a summer dress and a pair of Docs. They are super comfy, even if they have taken a while to wear in.

The berries and leaves were fabulous, although the colour has done funny things and looks a little weird in the photos:

Other happies this week:
My new cleaning cloths from Sainsbury's. I'm normally a Tesco girl, merely because it's closest to E's school and I do the shop after drop off. This Monday, however, was still part of half term so Sainsbury's it was for a change. The cloths certainly cheered up my window cleaning this morning!
Another Sansbury's buy - coffee stencils:
Making sticky, nutty flapjacks for Bonfire Night:
Sneaking one with a cup of tea and a magazine - well, it's important to do quality control!
Buying some tulip bulbs  - I keep telling myself that they're no good on the kitchen worktop; I actually have to get around to planting them!
Here's me snatching a stitchy moment. This is the autumn embroidery to go with the spring and winter ones here and here:
Hot dogs and fireworks on the 5th:
A green woodpecker in the garden - apologies for the blurriness of the photo ; I dashed for my camera and took a quick snap just seconds before he spooked and flew away:
Finally, the completed stitching:
Just one more season to go and then I have to decide whether to hang them in the frames or convert them into cushions or something.
Have a great weekend and, if anyone's off to a Bonfire Party, have fun and I'll keep my fingers crossed for dry weather for you.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Sunday, 1 November 2015

London # 2

Hello there! Half term seems to have whizzed by doesn't it? Ours has been a nice mix of stay at home days and days spent out and about. Twice this week (yes, count them), we have been into London. Once on Sunday to have lunch with L and then again on Wednesday to go to the theatre. On Wednesday R was at work, so it was just us girlies. To ring the changes, this time we took the train - not such an event for L who does it every day, but quite exciting for me and E. The girls read and dozed and I got my 'patchwork out and about' tins out and made another star. I did take a photo of this but it was a tad blurry! We set off quite late in the morning to take advantage of the cheaper parking at the station and the cheap day return, so it was nearing lunch time when we arrived. The play was at the Vaudeville Theatre near Covent Garden, so we decided to head there for lunch first. 
The Christmas decorations were out in force:

 I REALLY wanted to go into this shop:
 I'm a big Moomin fan but we kept putting off going in - after lunch or after the play when we're not rushed, you know the sort of thing - and then it was too late. I definitely want to go back though.
There were chestnut vendors adding to the festive vibe:
Tummies were rumbling by this point but the food places in Covent Garden were extremely crowded, so we made our way out and went here instead:
Here's my salad and veggie dumplings, E had a veggie sushi wrap and L, who was nursing a cold, had miso soup with noodles. One word: YUM!
 Then it was time for the play. The billboard made us laugh as David Suchet playing Lady Bracknell looked just like a friend of ours! 

 We enjoyed the play - it was very funny and a little cheesy in parts. David Suchet was excellent, with just a whiff of pantomime dame about him. His mannerisms were brilliant - he had a way with hand gestures and certain turns of his head that were spot on. The famous 'A handbag!' bit I found to be a little anticlimactic (Amy, that bit's for you!) but it was all good fun. We were discussing it later and found that we all had a mental image of Maggie Smith playing Lady B. I'm not sure if she ever has but I think her character the Countess in Downton Abbey would be perfect!

We met up with R after the play and went for a walk through London, looking for somewhere for dinner. When we go to London, it's nice to have something a little different to eat. Our little market town has Indian, Italian and Chinese restaurants aplenty but not much else. It was lovely to walk through London in the evening and, despite the impression you get if you stick to the underground, everywhere is actually much closer than you imagine. I went to uni here and stayed for 7 years. I'm not sure I could live here again though. It's incredibly crowded, making striding along the pavements difficult, and blowing your nose after a day there gives some indication of the pollution levels! (Too much information?!)
Anyway, we eventually decided to have dinner here:
Tohbang apparently means larder in Korean. We'd never had Korean food before and it was a revelation - fresh, zingy, full of flavour, more veggie choices than you could shake a stick at - it's my new favourite!

 Green tea ice cream for pud!
 Then it was back to Paddington for the train home. It was, apart from the lack of Moomins, a perfect day.

 This week, we also tried cobnuts for the first time - they were interesting but not something I would go out of my way for again:
A spray of carnations was bought - a bargain at £1.50:
 Hallowe'en cakes were made:
 ...... and a certain little devil bunny had his birthday on Hallowe'en. Yes, truly, that's when he was born! He was given a new mat to sleep on and a bag of his favourite banana chips. Here's the birthday boy investigating the pumpkin:
There was also another little trip to our local theatre to see 'The Ladykillers'. There are no photos of this visit but it was very good, even if no-one can possibly live up to the great Alec Guinness!

Anyway, that's all for this week. I hope you had a wonderful half term and here's to a fun November. 'White rabbit' as my Mum always used to say on the first of the month - I'm not sure Hamish would approve!
Toodle Pip for now. x