Thursday, 27 September 2018

The End of Summer.

Somehow I haven't blogged for the best part of 2 months. Mostly because when I have had a moment, the last thing I have felt like doing is sitting down to write.
Things have been very stressy at work, very. Also I'm horribly aware the time to try and find somewhere new to live is looming ever closer and I'm freaking out just a wee bit about actually finding somewhere, let alone moving again. There's been family stuff too, so, yeah.

Oh and the prognosis of the doctor is I have achillies tendonitis in both feet so special exercises 3 times a day, anti-inflammatories, shoe inserts and no more Converse low tops *weeps*

Anyway it's not all worry and doom I have been doing fun stuff to and shopping of course!

August I had to participate in not one but two team building days at work (due to stuff going on at work we currently sit across two teams) The first was the quintessentially Oxford pastime of punting, followed by a picnic and then games in University Parks. We were allocated to punts to make us mix with people we didn't know, which I hate having to do. Thankfully everyone was so crap at punting it took us way too long to get back from the picnic and we were too late to play games - huzzah.

The second day out was a treasure hunt at Cotswold Wildlife Park which was also followed by a picnic lunch. This was much more fun as it was just the original team I started out in. My group came in second place, lunch was lovely and we got to amble around the park properly afterwards.



As you can see it was another one of those super hot days. I've never got to see the red pandas or the wolverine (top two pics) before so it was quite cool to see them, even if it was spark out in the heat!

August bank holiday was time for the annual trip to Stonor Park craft fair with my Mum. I enjoyed it much more this year, the variety was back, though there was still way too much expensive jewellery, and there was also a new talent tent of young designers which was very interesting.
I bought this tartan bag and quirky bird necklace.

Now for about 18 months my Mum has been bemoaning her wardrobe and saying she needed to sort it out but then has never got round to doing it (maybe this is where I get my procrastinating habit from!)
 So back at Mum's I tricked her into showing me something in her wardrobe and then made her sort through all her clothes as we were there with the doors open.
She ended with a huge pile for charity and I took another pile home with me to try on Ebay for her. Well the whole bloody lot only went and sold didn't it!!
I was cursing my offer to list it for her as I lugged bags of parcels into work on the train and then to the post office in my lunch hour. Anyway she now has a nice little wedge to spend on new things to fill the space we cleared.

September meant our annual getaway to Bournemouth.

The first day was grey and showery so we just ambled about ducking in the shops when it rained and taking a brief stroll along the beach when it stopped. The next day we had planned a walk from Corfe to Swanage along The Purbeck Ridgeway. We hadn't got a plan B so we had everything crossed the weather would clear up and thankfully it heeded our wishes and the next day was bright and sunny.

On the way to catch the bus we cut through the gardens and took time out to feed the squirrels. Himself thought this was hilarious as of course at home I curse at them and chase them whenever I see them, yet here I was feeding them by hand.
Basically I had bought 2 kilos of plums because they were only £2 without considering we were about to go on holiday and Himself doesn't eat them. I ate as many as I could but the squirrels got the rest
 We caught a bus to Swanage and then the steam train to Corfe.
Corfe itself was super busy with tourists so other than a toilet break we headed straight off.

The walk was not too strenuous and the scenery stunning, I have to say it does the soul good.



As it was just under 11 miles and I have a 10 mile tea limit by the time we got back to Swanage I was gasping.
Himself said we'll just walk back to the station and check the bus times then go for a drink, he wanted a pub not a cafe. So I threw a strop, refused point blank and in the 15 minutes it took him to get there and back I had found a cafe, ordered a pot of tea and basically inhaled the whole thing. Impressive even by my standards. I then insisted on an ice cream before finally agreeing to the pub.

The next day was meant to be rainy so my friend Alison and I had planned to go to a new Antique Centre in Longham whilst Himself was at the cinema. It was lovely to catch up again and the Antiques Centre was amazing! Really lovely items and fantastic prices I could have bought loads but I restrained myself to a brooch and 2 bags.
I fell in love with this cabinet
It was £85 and had I been travelling by car and not train I would have bought it there and then, it's EXACTLY what I want to display my handbags in. All I could do was sigh and take a picture.

So the next weekend Soo came over and we did the charity shops and would you believe it I found another cabinet!?!
This one was £35 and in my home town, Soo offered to collect it in her car so I bought it. I then spent the next couple of hours whilst we had lunch and finished looking round the shops having a complete panic about whether it was the right thing to do or not.
Anyway we picked up the car and with more hindrance than help from the 2 old chaps in the shop, loaded the cabinet in.

Until I get rid of the knackered old single mattress and take the bed frame apart in the little spare room it's got to live behind one of the doors in the conservatory shrouded in a sheet to stop the sun bleaching it.
So not a great picture at all but you get the gist. It needs a thorough clean, but has two glass shelves and is lined with a cream satin effect fabric with a bamboo pattern which I will most likely keep. I will confess it will now probably stay exactly where it is and in exactly the same state for the foreseeable future. There seems little point sorting the bedroom out and getting it all just so if we have to move very soon and I have to pack it all up again anyway.

Finally I also had a day out in Stroud with my friend's Liz and Simon.
I absolutely must go back, I was very aware there were shops I would have loved to go into but Simon most definitely would not. I did nip into the one open vintage shop whilst he and Liz  were in a book shop and bought a fab orange bag. The man who owns it was lovely, very chatty (but it turns out he thought he knew me so perhaps not usually so chatty!) but I literally flitted round as time was short.

We had the most delicious lunch in what the lady in the bookshop dismissed as "the old ladies cafe" frankly I'm not surprised all the old dears go there it was delicious and very cheap. 

Anyway that's it. I'll finish with a few purchases.

The white & black beaded bags in the top picture came from the antiques centre, the white one is not a genuine Corde but it's in lovely condition so a welcome addition to the collection. The little black one is a genuine 1920's purse not in perfect condition but only £4 so a must have because  for £4 who cares?
Just one or two brooches...
and finally a magpie frock, who could resist? not me.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

July Purchases and the Last of my Birthday Treats.

So following my epic day out at Monkey World I got up early on the last Saturday of July to meet with Soo for another mystery day out with the only proviso I didn't need my walking boots!
She took the scenic route to our friend Jenny's house in the hope of throwing me off the scent (though as ever I did have to remind her the final turning)
Once there we got to ooh and ahh over Jenny's marvelous new kitchen and have a good catch up over a cup of tea before it was time to head out to yet another secret destination. This turned out to be the nearby town of Highworth where we browsed a few charity shops before Jenny announced she needed the toilet and we would just nip in here...
because it would be fine, no one would notice we were just in and out for the loo and besides she knew where they were.
Now I will admit I have been know to use a similar level of brazenness when I've been desperate,needs must and all that, but I've tended not to go for somewhere quite so smart looking. Anyway we trotted faithfully after her and made use of the facilities then instead of turning right towards the exit she swerved left and announced to a member of staff we had a table booked for afternoon tea. I will admit I was not expecting that and they got me good and proper!
Tea was delicious and it was so lovely to just be left to our own devices and not hurried along. Though they might have regretted that as there was much exclaiming and howling with laughter as often seems to be the case when we get together!

Jenny excelled herself by making me one of those photobooks with various pictures of us all from over the 30 plus years of our friendship. That had me completely gone, in pain and properly crying with laughter. Some of those pictures...my hair, my clothes, but especially my hair, dear god what was I thinking.
What a wonderful way to wrap up the birthday month (see what I did there??)

Not that it's all over because on top of the Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea to take at some point in the next 6 months I have this wonderfully thoughtful gift from Soo
Two tickets for Kew Gardens which I'm ashamed to say I have never been too before what with me being such a keen gardener and all. My friends are the best.

So did I shop in July?? you bet I did! There were sales still going after all. As ever I was poised for the Collectif sale and as ever I bought a trio of dresses. Sadly they didn't have anything I liked in my favourite style so I ended up with 3 halterneck dresses.


The coconut print one is destined to be my annual Bournemouth night out frock.

I also bought a couple of dresses from Dolly and Dotty. This new academic year will see me doing more interviewing, more long haul but short stay travelling (boo) and more evening events, so with this in mind I bought these two dresses.

In fact I liked the black one so much when I got an email with a 50% off voucher last week I also bought it in green! (Not that I'm sure they will fit me any more right now after all the food and drink I've been putting away lately!!)

This is the shirt I spotted in the window of H& M when we were out with Dad which had me nipping off through the doors before anyone could stop me.
I also bought this one in the sale because you have to browse the sale rail,once you are in a shop right? As well as another blue one which is in the wash.
Finally I may have just stepped into Debenhams when their blue cross sale was on and being a magpie by name and nature may also just have homed in like an exocet missile to the jewellery counter.
Everything had 70% off = result.

Finally I wanted to share with you the after pictures of the bag I posted about last month that I bought on Ebay for restoration.


The green shoe cream and a bit of elbow grease worked wonders, and a great deal more elbow grease and carefully applied Bar Keepers Friend brought the metalwork back to it's former glory. Finally seven needles and one stabbed thumb later the handle is reattached, not my neatest work but that doesn't bother me I'm thrilled to bits with it.

I shall sign off with the lovely surprise that was waiting for me when I got back to work from the equally lovely Ann
Isn't it gorgeous? You can always rely on another handbag collector, especially one with an eye as good as Ann's, when it comes to spotting a beauty. I just don't know how she could bear to give it away!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

All That Monkey Business.

So July is not only my birthday it's my Mum's as well and 26 years ago my brother wisely got married on my Mum's birthday joking it was so he would never forget his anniversary!
As it happens it was also the day of my mystery birthday outing. I had told my friends and family that there wasn't anything I wanted or needed for my birthday (let's face it when it comes to having lots of stuff I pretty much own the rights) so I would rather do things and create memories.
I have to say this is where I have been truly blown away by just how thoughtful, kind and amazing these people are.

As you know from the previous post Himself took me out to Eltham Palace as well as buying me a new CD /tape deck (old school!!) and some other lovely bits and pieces.
My Brother and Sister in Law have treated to me to an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea in London which they presented to me the day before my birthday when we all gathered to take my Dad out for lunch.
As it was another hot day we all met at Dad's care home, slathered him in sun cream and took turns to push his wheel chair into town. We have a Prezzo in town so the whole family gathered there and stuffed our faces before then pushing Dad round the new bit of the shopping Centre. I think Himself pretty much ended up guarding Dad as we all disappeared off in various directions as we spotted things in shops. My Nan always joked our family needs a sheepdog to round us up when we get together!
Anyway we ended up in the M&S food hall where my brother kept piling snacks and treats onto my Dad's lap until he had all but disappeared!
It was such a lovely day and the good news is we called in at the mobility shop and it seems there is a motor system that is compatible with my Dad's huge chair which once fitted will make pushing it a breeze (it's pretty hilly around here) so trips like this can happen more often and Mum can even take him out on her own.

The fun just kept on going because on my Mum's birthday my sister in law arrived to collect us to head out for my birthday surprise from Mum. Nephew Number One and his girlfriend were already in the car so I let Himself sit in the back with them! My brother then arrived driving my Mum's car with her and my cousin and his wife who were visiting from Germany inside, and we were off.

It was a very scenic route to our destination as we went via Stonehenge because my cousin has always wanted to see it! As it happens our only view of it was from the road as we were slightly horrified to find it was £5 per car to park and £20 per person to see the stones and there was also a massive queue. We borrowed the facilities bought a drink and headed off again.

Up until this point I had no idea where we were going but as soon as I saw Bournemouth on the road signs I had an inkling and when we turned off for Bere Regis I knew for sure.

Monkey World!

I love monkeys almost as much as I love elephants but I've never yet been to Monkey World as it's too off the beaten track if you don't have a car. I love the TV show and especially enjoy watching it with my Dad, in fact I had watched an old episode that Sunday about collecting an orphaned orangutan called Mimi from Russia and settling this terrified little thing in to the Orangutan Nursery so imagine how it felt to actually see her in the flesh charging around and playing happily.
 Mimi!
I'm getting ahead of myself though! We arrived at lunch time so first stop was the cafe as we were all gasping for a drink. I was then informed I had an hour and a half before we had to be back at the gates. So we had a wander and watched one of the groups of chimps being fed
but the majority of the animals were spark out as it was another hot hot day
We arrived back at the gates for 2pm and it turned out the next part of my treat was a personal tour of the park. It was amazing, our guide was so interesting and answered our millions of questions.
At one point we were passed by a guy in shorts, DMs and a band t-shirt, sporting a shaved head, tattoos and earrings he paused from pushing his wheelbarrow to make a joke or two at our guide's expense so of course we just assumed he was another one of the many staff, only with hindsight he didn't have on the Monkey World polo shirt they all did. Once he had passed our guide said " Do you know who that was?" when we all said no he casually said "Jeremy the owner!" 

Monkey World really is an amazing place, it's not a zoo, it's a rescue centre and my word does it wrench your heart when you hear story after story of the terrible, horrific things these poor creatures went through before finding peace and safety here. 

From the capuchins who came from a medical lab in Chile with the tiny metal cage on show outside their huge leafy enclosure to show the solitary, claustrophobic space these very sociable creatures had been forced to live in 24 hours a day.
To the Orangutan who had been forced to wear human clothes and shoes and only knew how to walk painfully upright on her poor deformed feet.
Or the one armed chimp who had been bought by a family on a night out at the circus who were so horrified to see her trying to perform with a gangrenous arm they bought her and took her straight to a local hospital where a surgeon agreed to help and managed to amputate the arm and save her life.

It broke my heart to hear that most of the chimps were rescued from beaches where they were used for tourist photos. To get just one baby chimp they kill on average 13 adults as they live in family groups and the whole group will try desperately to save the baby. Once stolen the baby will first have it's teeth pulled out so it can't bite the tourists then it will be drugged to keep it docile finally it will be dressed in human clothes. After a few years of this abuse they get too big and too strong, so many got put on a boat and taken out to sea where they are just thrown in because chimps can't swim.
Due mainly to the work of Monkey World chimps have now been banned on beaches in Spain and Greece. You do still get them elsewhere though, Mexico for example, so they are still working tirelessly to get more countries to ban the practice.
Your mind just boggles at man's inhumanity.

In captivity a chimp or orangutan's lifespan is similar to ours, on average 50-60 years. There was one enclosure of 'Old Gents' none of whom were under 30! So as our guide pointed out they have to constantly think and plan long term to ensure long and happy lives in comfortable surroundings with plenty of food and water.

Monkey World is also part of a world wide breeding programme for woolly monkeys and orangutans. There are 18 woolly monkeys and apparently that is 2/3 of the world's captive population, just think about that for a moment, that is just how endangered they are!

There were a couple of babies who were so cute!
There is actually one clinging to it's Mum's tummy in this picture, poor thing.

Our tour finished at the memorial to Jim Cronin one of the park's founders. From there we went to Malagasy enclosure which is full of ring tailed lemurs which are one of my favourites.
As you can see even they were finding it too hot! After a blissful wander round this enclosure we headed out for another much needed refreshment break.

We walked slowly back through the park for a quick browse around the shop before heading off for the final treat of the day, dinner at Chez Fred in Westbourne an award winning fish and chip restaurant that is always fully booked.
We met my Sister in Law Caron's parents there as they live in Westbourne which was a lovely surprise. After eating our fill (they do unlimited chips!) we headed back to their flat for cake and prosecco then took a stroll down to the beach before heading home.
I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed my day out such an amazing and thoughtful gift. 

Monday, 6 August 2018

July - Still Nifty

Well July has passed in a blur of fun, food and fizz. By the Friday before my birthday I had already amassed these
I may be predictable and with that said I was predictably delighted with the above and no I haven't drunk them all yet!

We headed to Bristol that weekend to do some of the latest Gromit Unleashed Trail
and just bimble around the city, well that was my plan, Himself was far more determined to do it ALL! It was great fun but unfortunately I have been having problems with my right achilles and that combined with the wrong shoes meant by the end of the 2 days I could have wept with pain, every step was agony so I had to give up (and yes I have a doctor's appointment booked next week)

We haven't been to Bristol for 3 years now and I was really shocked by the massive increase in homeless people, I mean Oxford is bad enough but this was on another scale, it's heartbreaking, I also saw my first Spice Zombie, very sobering.

Anyway I digress, just a couple of my favourite statues


The last one is called Space Oddi-Tea!
Please forgive the demented hair it was fiercely humid so my carefully styled hair lasted all of 5 minutes  *sigh*
On the plus side the weather broke which helped with the humidity but on the down side we had no umbrella or coats so spent a lot of time dodging showers or waiting about whilst it hammered down.

After dinner in a cute little Italian restaurant we trawled the streets for a pub that wasn't booming out deafening music or packed with hen and stag dos. We finally found a decent Fullers pub where we settled in for the night before trundling back to our Travelodge.
 When we had checked in earlier in the day the girl had asked if we wanted one or two keycards, we said one was fine but the girl on reception said "I'll give you two as they are the only way to get in the main entrance at night and they don't always work" (It was one of those Travelodges where you have to go in a door at the back and up two floors to the reception desk.) 

Anyway we got back just before midnight and there were 3 girls sitting on the steps outside in their pyjamas having a cigarette, we tried first one card then the other and neither worked, the girls on the steps were stuck as well having come out for a ciggie and then not been able to get back in. A taxi arrived and the guy who got out of it also had two cards and yes you've guessed it neither of them worked either!
He sighed and said "this happened to me the last time I stayed here" which didn't fill me with hope. He turned to us and said "Are you here for Pride?" (well we were both in colourful Hawaiian print) We said no and admitted we hadn't realised it was on. Anyway we had a lovely chat until another girl arrived, thankfully not very long afterwards, and her keycard actually worked Huzzah so we all trouped in.
As the hotel wasn't in the greatest part of town I did email the next week to report the door issue and all they did was refund my money with no mention of fixing the door which of course was very nice, but I wasn't after a refund I just wanted the door fixed!?!
Once in our room we checked out Bristol Pride and decided to go before heading out to Clifton and the Suspension Bridge.We got up in good time and found ourselves a prime spot
the parade took well over an hour to go past us and was fantastic I'm so glad we caught it.
By the time we had walked to Clifton it was baking hot and by the time we walked back I was in agony so we headed home where I dosed up on anti-inflammatories and slapped on the Deep Heat as we had another day full of walking planned for my actual birthday. Weirdly by Monday my heel was back to it's usual dull roar, hard to believe you could go from such screaming pain you actually feel sick to barely anything in less than 24 hours with just a couple of ibruprofen hmm.

Anyway at least it meant I got to thoroughly enjoy my day out to Eltham Palace. It was lovely to go and see the house again especially as this time it wasn't packed with school kids.
 It has the sort of gardens that make me want to give up everything and work in them. We ambled about them enjoying the beauty and the peace and quiet.
but the house beckoned so we headed inside.

They have opened up more rooms since we were last there and randomly you were allowed to take photos inside this time, so I did indulge but I won't bore you with too many!
but here is Virginia Courtauld's bedroom
and oh my word do I need her built in wardrobe in my life!!

It was whilst I was browsing the bedrooms I lost Himself, I headed back the way I came and one of the staff said "If you came up this way you need to go down the other way" so I explained I had lost my other half she looked me up and down and said "Is he is the man in the flowery shirt by any chance? he went that way!"
I guess we were dressed just a bit louder than everyone else in the place!
Anyway here is a table and room you will have seen many, many times if you watch any dramas set in the 1930's it is a location that has been used again and again.
as is the stunning entrance hall, sadly I couldn't get a better picture as there was always someone in the way!
This doorway amused us both
as did the toy lemur.
The Courtaulds had an adored pet lemur Mah-Jong that Stephen bought for Virginia as a wedding gift in 1923 from Harrods. He lived for 15 years and had the run of the house, apparently he liked to nip guests on the ankles at dinner parties!

Once we had refreshed in the new cafe in the grounds we headed back into London and Canary Wharf
Himself wanted to take me to a pub there called The Tea Merchant as it happens the pub had changed names, but we had a pint anyway relaxing in the setting sun watching all the city types, a splash of colour in the ocean of identikit blue and white shirts.