Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Outings and an Alteration or Two.

Last weekend I had to work so it was lovely to have a bank holiday to look forward too this weekend.

Soo had found an offer for The Rococo Gardens at Painswick in the cotswolds so we headed off there on Monday morning. We had to take a detour because of the annual cheese rolling, probably a good job as I might have felt obliged to leap out of the car and steal the cheese....mmm cheese.

Anyway the gardens were an absolute joy. We were greeted by a charming black and white puss cat who joined each group of people in a effusive "welcome, welcome to my gardens, do please enjoy your time here, and please do feel free to pet me before I move on" fashion.
graceful as ever I almost lost my balance and plummeted down this slope!

There were follys
Wild gardens
Formal gardens
A stunning wooded area
Look at all that wild garlic, what a shame there isn't smellovision!

 There was a maze which we found our way into and out of using Soo's Dad's formula of first left, second right.
By the time we had seen it all we could no longer ignore the fact it was lunchtime.
There is a little cafe at the garden advertising 'delicious homemade lunches and cakes' so we decided to find out if they lived up to their word.
I'm very happy to say they most definitely did. We both had cauliflower cheese made with local cheddar. It came with ciabatta and a spoon (as the lady explained for getting all of the sauce scooped up) on the side.
It was absolutely gorgeous as was the slice of cake that we forced down after it.

We decided to walk, or waddle in my case, down into Painswick itself after lunch to burn off a few of the million calories we had just scoffed.

It was very beautiful but it strangely quiet. We expected it to be full of tourists but no there was hardly a soul to be seen. Surprisingly there were no shops to speak of and only a couple of pubs. Mind we did pass one
where else would you ride the horse to the pub?!?

We headed to the church which legend has it can only ever have 99 yew trees in the churchyard
apparently the 100th tree just never grows......

As we ambled back to the car exclaiming over the views, we laughed over the fact that if we were to meet our twenty something selves, they would be shocked and appalled that these days we seem to get together to visit gardens and not go pubbing and clubbing!

Mind I say that, this is the picture I took on Friday night when we met up with some other friends down the pub.
We still got it!

I shall sign off with frock news.
Remember the turquoise Hell Bunny dress that was on the at risk register?
I just couldn't get on with the collar bow combo but as I liked the cut and fit of the dress I chopped them off.

Just don't look too closely at the finish!

Also I have a confession. So I was talking to someone about how you admire the style of friends or fellow bloggers, try it on yourself and realise it's not to be.
Last year I bought this 1970's dress because I admire the style on Vix and Curtise.

I have to confess every time I wore it I just didn't feel quite right (sorry ladies) However I liked the fabric and neckline so I took a bit of advice from my Ma and have shortened it to just on the knee.

Talking of frocks thank you all for telling me I'm not mad for getting rid of those dresses, I feel better for knowing it's not just me.  

My other outing was with Soo again (people will talk!) and our friend Melissa to see The Jersey Boys.
First we had a delicious pre-theatre dinner at Cote in Oxford before heading to the theatre. The show was fantastic but we were equally entertained by the audience. There were many ladies of a certain age who clearly don't get out much.

The ones next to us sang along very loudly and distressingly flatly, clearly forgetting this was a theatre production and not a real Frankie Valli concert! The lady behind us looked a very ordinary lady of advanced years but once the cast started singing she started whooping and whistling and...well.. what can only be described as howling like a dog. Most disconcerting, then at the sad bit a lady in front of us started sobbing uncontrollably.

But as I say, they kind of just added to the evening.    

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Highs, Lows and a Frock or Two.

Well there are many adages for this last week 'Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse' or 'It never rains but it pours' spring to mind.
2015 seems determined to give us a shoeing one way and another!

So it's been a roller coaster week of stressful overlapping work deadlines, cinema trips, a birthday dinner, care home visits and a late night phone call from the police.

It all started innocently enough. It was a Bank Holiday which of course means an extra day off work and a delicious boiled egg breakfast in bed and yes I did get egg yolk down my front but would you expect anything less from me?

We went to see 'Far From The Madding Crowd' which we were surprised to both have thoroughly enjoyed. 
Thomas Hardy is one of those authors I struggle with, just too damn depressing for my liking. My friend Murray (who was Dorset born and bred) always encouraged me to give him another go, he said the way Hardy describes the Dorsetshire countryside is just lyrical, but I just can't seem to bring myself to try his books again.
Having said that the film is stunningly shot, all on location in Dorset, and superbly acted. Even if Matthias Schoenerts has the poshest accent of any shepherd ever!

Talking of films yes, yes OF COURSE we went to see The Avengers - Age of Ultron when it opened, that's a given

and yes OF COURSE I bloody loved it!

So back to Monday, we also went to my Brother's to a.) Both get hair cuts and in my case a much needed colour.
 b.) Give my Sister in Law her birthday present and say goodbye & have a lovely time to them before they headed off on holiday..
c.) For me to help my brother finish up his garden which we had spent the previous weekend re-landscaping.
Talking of which I may have mentioned before that my SIL doesn't garden at all.
So I had to laugh when we staggered in after 6 solid hours of hard graft, digging, lifting and wheelbarrowing top soil, and she grumbled at my brother for not making her dinner because she had been 'working hard all day' whereas we had just been 'outside in the garden'.

Anyway it's looking pretty good out there even if I did end up in the flowerbeds wearing a hairdressing smock with a plastic bag thing on my hair colour, only to get shouted at for risking getting my head cold and turning my hair yellow.

From there we visited my Dad in hospital, came home and had dinner before settling in front of the TV, then the phone call came.

I'm not going to go into great detail because if nothing else it's not my tale to tell, but suffice to say Himself's Dad had been rushed to hospital and his Mum had been left alone with no care.
Cue Himself rushing off to Margate for the rest of the week and me not being able to go and help because I had important appointments booked for the planning of my Dad's future care.

So what do you do when you are worried sick about Himself, your in laws and even more so about your Mum who is exhausted and barely holding on? Oh and you have to make a decision that will determine the rest of your Dad's life?
You paint on a face, you put on a pretty new frock that you couldn't resist because you fell in love with it's spring blossom print,
take a deep breath and put your best foot forward.
Or in my case get distracted when you discover your new dress has pockets. Pockets! I do like a frock with pockets, doubly so when you weren't expecting them.

Decision day was full of the unexpected. The weather seemed to match our emotions and kept having dramatic torrential downpours followed by glorious sunshine. It was certainly a day of tears and smiles as it turned out.

I'm at that age in life when a few friends are in the same situation and I have been so grateful for all their help and advice about choosing a nursing home.
The need to visit first was made abundantly clear when the top choice on paper turned out to be just horrible, and as it goes the one Mum and I both loved, was one that wasn't even in the running on paper! 

Of course the home we loved had no spaces but Dad was top of their list for when one did become free. Which meant in the meantime he would have to go temporarily into the horrible one as unsurprisingly they did have spaces available.

Not ideal but doable.

We made the calls, spoke to his occupational therapist and social worker and were just sitting with Dad explaining when by some happy stroke of luck we were told Dad could go straight to the lovely home after all!
 We hadn't been able to meet with the assistant manager when we visited because she was out assessing a patient for the one room they did have free. As it turns out they couldn't match that person's care needs so as Dad was next on the list he could have the room.

For the first time in a while now it felt like things were going in our favour. I cannot even begin to describe to you the relief.
As it goes this seems to be the turn in the tide. Himself managed to arrange the right care and support for his parents too and came home yesterday knackered but positive. There is a way to go in both situations but we are on the right path.

We had to postpone our trip to Greenwich for Himself's birthday but that is easily rescheduled. Instead I have bought all sorts of yummy treats to spoil home rotten with.

Before I go. One thing I'm wondering, and this may be just me, but I have been having a bit of a clearout of the wardrobe and the first 2 dresses that just had to go, were the one I was wearing when Dad had his stroke, and the one I was wearing at his care plan meeting. I just can't bear to ever wear them again.
Is that just me? Is it a bit weird?

Anyway I'm going to sign off with another new frock, because when life is throwing you lemons buy a novelty print, especially if it's in the sale, which this was.
 Whales! who could resist?
 Cirencester bargain necklace
And if the novelty print doesn't do it, how about a 99p bargain vintage handbag of Ebay?

Monday, 20 April 2015

A Sunny Cotswolds Outing and a Bit of a Shopping Frenzy.

This gorgeous weather has been hanging around hasn't it? Soo and I were long overdue a get together and we decided an outing was in order.
It was Soo who picked Cirencester from the list of possible options because I have never been any good at making a choice.
It's somewhere neither of us had been before and visiting in the glorious sunshine certainly showed it at it's very best.

The shops are an interesting mix of expensive boutiques, independent, charity, and just a smattering of high street chains.
Indeed many charity shops had 2 branches in what is not a huge town centre. The prices were higher than your average, but then this is an expensive/touristy area.

Cirencester also gave me a few firsts.

One of them being in all my years of chazza shopping, never did I think I would ever find myself singing along to The Sisters of Mercy whist rooting through the rails!!
There was also a woman in the Red Cross shop who was so damn rude we very childishly flicked v's at the shop when we drove past it later. Nothing like being a mature adult hehe.

We had been recommended 'Handmade By Bob' for lunch but it was packed and with a queue so we carried on shopping and stumbled across 'The Cotswold Artisan Coffee Shop' in the Bishops Walk arcade.
What a find! The ciabatta's were delicious, but the star of the show was the chocolate and salted caramel brownies, handmade by the lady who runs the shop with her husband.




I don't think I will ever be able to eat another brownie again, nothing could possibly compare to the sheer heaven of this chocolaty caramel filled delight.

I liked Cirencester, and what was really lovely to see was the sheer number of independent shops and things like good old fashioned greengrocers and butchers, this was most definitely not a high street in decline.

On the way home we decided to stop off at Bibury.
Tiny, very beautiful and overrun with tourists!

There was a wee antique shop run by an elderly couple who clearly just buy bits and pieces at jumble sales and flog them to tourists for a decent profit.
Mind when we went in the lady was having kittens at the fact a young German couple were looking at teapots for the girl to use for flower arranging and NOT drinking tea from!?!

So what did I buy on my lovely day out? A couple of floaty tops.

A starfish sunburst brooch.
A cheeky blue cat for a pound.
A lovely patent kelly bag that turned out to be real leather and came up beautifully after a good polish.
and a couple of sale necklaces in Dorothy Perkins £3 each that I couldn't resist.

Ok, ok I know you all really want to know about the shopping frenzy. I've been going a bit mad, I don't really know why but on the whole it's been bargains and I'm pretty darn pleased with my purchases.
There been the nautical

There's another striped top but that is in the wash.

The floral 

The bardot top

and finally this gorgeous waistcoat from Kinky Melon (aka Vix) which I am doing battle with Himself over.
The best bit? Not a single item cost more than £20 and most cost significantly less.




Monday, 13 April 2015

Profoundly Lovely Blog Party

So Mim of Crinoline Robot has nominated me to join this, like her I dip in and out of joining in after being nominated for these sort of question and answer type blog round ups.
She's suspecting me of having wisdom I suspect I may disappoint!

However here goes....

1. Tell me about something you love and why?
Gardening. It’s hard to describe really, but for me it is the thing that soothes the savage beast as they say. I feel my cares lift the minute I get amongst my flowerbeds, sometimes it’s only for the few hours I’m out there, but mostly I find things seem to somehow work themselves out in my head whilst I potter about thinking of nothing in particular. 

My first ever job was in a plant nursery where they worked me like a dog. I was completely exhausted at the end of each day but I loved every minute of it, well apart from the time I had an allergic reaction to the growth powder they put on the hyacinth bulbs to make them bloom in time for Christmas.
Oh and the other time when I had to remove a large dead rat from middle of the shop floor after someone nearly stepped on it.......
As it turned out I didn’t make my career in horticulture but it’s certainly a big joy in my life.  

2. What is one thing you do that makes you feel like "I could do this forever"?
Drinking tea!
Seriously now, I think I must say Reading, the sheer joy of losing myself in a good book cannot be beaten.
 It’s no surprise I ended up working in a library for so very  many years. I just wish I could find more time to indulge in this pleasure.
3. What do you love about yourself?
My sense of humour and my joie de vivre. As someone who has suffered from depression but found their way through, I think I find more delight in life now. I appreciate things more because once you have been in the very deepest dark, the bright beauty of the day is all the more beautiful.

If we are talking physical attributes I used to be damn proud of my behind. Sadly age, greed and laziness have all caught up with me and it, alas it’s no longer the firm peach it once was. So instead I’ll go with my eyes which I have always liked.
They are half green and half blue. Not one of each like David Bowie but top half green bottom half blue for each eye, it's unusual and I like their quirkiness.

4. What advice would you give to someone who doesn't believe he/she is beautiful?
Now that is a hard one because if someone is really in that place, whatever you say to them they probably won’t believe you anyway. 
It’s so much easier to look in the mirror and see the faults rather than the good things. I think my inclination would be to listen more than advise. Ask them why they feel that way.  
Having had so many self doubts myself it breaks my heart when I see someone beating themselves up or thinking they don’t deserve any better.

Be kind to yourself and to others. There are a great many people in this world who are superficial and shallow, to whom beauty is literally skin deep, but there are an equal number who see the beauty of the soul. 
My Nan always used to say “you get the face you deserve” The older I get the more I see there’s truth in that statement. Think about all the people who at first glance might be pretty but on closer inspection have sour faces or hard mouths because they are never satisfied with life.
Then think of the person who at first glance looks lined and weary, but then you see the twinkling eyes and the gorgeous smile and the goodness glowing out of them. Now there was a wise old bird, my Nan.

5. What is the best piece of advice you've ever received about confidence?
You know I wrack my brains and I genuinely can’t recall a single piece of advice on confidence.

The only thing that springs to mind is when I did a coaching session for speaking in public. Something I can now do if I have to, but something that I never have, and never will enjoy. The guy said if you do dry up just pause, take a breath and carry on because no one is sitting there waiting and willing you to fail. More likely they are actually sitting willing you to do well. 
On the whole that seems to be the case, though there was one girl in the front row of one presentation I did recently who looked so apoplectic with rage the whole time I was talking, I was thankful she was nowhere near any kind of implement with which to run amok. 
Most off putting.

6. If you were your own daughter/son, what important things would you tell yourself/them?
Sorry love, no matter how much you truly believe it WILL happen, you aren’t actually going to marry said actor/rockstar (delete as applicable) that you swoon over.
I know this because I am living proof, I myself was utterly convinced I was going to marry Jon Bon Jovi and as you can see this did not come to pass. 

Thank. The. Lord.

7. A verse, poem, sonnet, ancient-old proverb that inspires you to love yourself and others?
'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'

So there you have it and in my place I nominate Charley from LandGirl1980 because I would be interested to hear her thoughts.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ma Nature's lyrical, with her yearly miracle.

How wonderful is it to have the sun in the sky? Not just that, but when you are sheltered from the breeze some real warmth to it too?

Bit too much stuff going on for me to be my usual Mad March Hare self but I'm not so far off. Talking of off, I am off work for a week, my first proper time off since Christmas and boy am I enjoying it!
This gorgeous weather has seem me out in the garden for days on end. I'm putting it down to the Pilates but I haven't had anywhere near my usual stiff aching agony after a 6 hour stint in the garden.

Mind the teacher did nearly kill me last session, I think she either had a bad day or thought we needed an extra tough session due to having a week off over Easter. I don't do too badly, but then just when I get cocky about my agility, she makes us do a move that everyone except me and the two ladies in their 70s can do with ease.
Oh and the 'clique' have decided to go to the later class so there was actually a bit of friendly banter before we started this time round too.

Anyway time for some gratuitous garden shots
Magnolia in full bloom, it got hammered by a late frost last year poor thing so it's lovely to see it in full glory this year.
Primroses that suddenly appeared in the lawn. I bought a wild primrose plant last year which disappointingly didn't do much flowering but was clearly having a shedload of babies instead so I shall stop grumbling.

Reduced hyacinth bulbs from Wilkinsons last year in full flourish this year.

I went out with my friends Simon and Liz for dinner last week and Simon gave us both this as an Easter gift
I shall be planting them this week too.

So what else? Himself and I went to see 'Return to the Forbidden Planet'.
I was going to take myself to see it, as it's a musical I have always fancied seeing but somehow never got round to over the years. As no one seemed keen to come with me I thought I'd do the matinee on my own.

For once though Himself was listening to me (joking dearest) and bought me tickets for a Christmas present.
I hadn't realised we were in the front row which was unnerving at first as we didn't know how participatory it was!
Thankfully it wasn't at all so we could relax and enjoy. It was great fun, I thoroughly enjoyed it and what a talented cast. There were only about 10 of them and they all acted, sung and played a plethora of instruments. Not just guitars and drums either, but things like trumpets and saxophones. Brilliant.   

I found out there was an official Snoopy shop online, I'm sure I probably already knew that but had blanked it out due to things like exchange rates and import taxes. Only now it seems they have a U.K branch now *Gulp*
I was very restrained and only bought a t-shirt.
Meant for Halloween but I know I will wear it all year round,
and a cloth bag which was too cute to resist.

I have been doing a LOT of shopping lately. Some for me, some for presents, you know, stuff. I will share more another time

I have come to the conclusion the red bag I bought in January is just a bit too small so my work handbag hunt begins again.

I ordered one from Accessorize but annoyingly they don't have dimensions on their website, sort that out will you Monsoon? It arrived and turned out to be the size of a small country, I returned it today. *sigh*

As I was at the post office I decided it would be rude not to browse a few charity shops. I found not one, not two, but three bags!
One which will do for work, it has the required separate zipped compartments that I demand in a work bag and is neither too big or too small. It is from Hotter and cost me a magnificent £4.
The other two are both vintage evening bags and cost a bargainous £1.50 and £2.50 respectively.

Finally I ventured down to the house clearance place I have mentioned before. The place where they pile it high and then pile it even higher just because they can. It means you can get a cracking bargain, but also means that often you spot a potential bargain but can't actually get anywhere near it without risk of death or at the very least serious injury. 
It has to be seen to be believed and the stuff comes as is, so filthy dirty on the whole. Today I spotted a late 60s early 70s coffee pot in a box of other stuff. It looked like it might have been blue and white though it was hard to be sure. I gingerly picked it up and turned it over and saw 'TG Green'

"Aye, aye" thought I, I'll find out how much it is. 

The girl behind the till took it off me, looked it over and said "Probably £4, that stuff has just come from a house clearance" so I nonchalantly said I'd take it.
She dithered a bit, turning it and looking at the mark on the bottom a couple more times. I'm guessing something was telling her she should know the make, that she was trying to place it but just couldn't, lucky for me the recognition didn't kick in so I paid my £4 and left.

I should have done a before and after but I just wanted to stick that thing in some hot soapy water and scrub!
Et Voila
The pattern is Jersey Blue, it's from 1968 (the year of my birth, which seems a good omen) and whilst I was researching that, I found one for sale for £50. Not a bad return for £4.