Sunday 15 November 2020

Catching up on October.

 Thank you for the kind comments on my last post. I feel I should clarify that we had already done a fair bit of clearing at the house in Margate when Himself’s Mum died a few years back. I guess what also made it easier was that she had been a heavy smoker so a lot of things were only fit for the bin. 

It has been heartening to know that so far just over £600 has been raised for the British Heart Foundation via the donations of goods and furniture (I love the fact you get updated when you sign up for gift aid) It’s fitting that it goes to that charity as well.

Other good news is there has been an offer on the house, it’s early days so we are not getting too excited just yet, but we felt it was validation of the careful research we did beforehand to make sure it went on the market for the right price. 

I also mentioned last post I had to collect new glasses. I was due an eye test in March but obviously that didn’t happen and I had finally got to the point where my eyes were hurting at the end of a long day over the laptop and also I couldn’t physically hold my book any further away (my arms are only so long!) when trying to read. I had had a gentle reminder letter from my opticians a few weeks before so I bit the bullet and booked in an appointment. This was pre-lockdown so I took the opportunity to do a couple of other bits and jumped on an earlier train to Oxford. 

I usually donate the paperback books I no longer want, to the book table at my home train station as they collect for a local children’s charity, but with the more academic, or worthy tomes, I donate to one of Oxfam bookshops in Oxford city centre. I had amassed quite a stack of books over lockdown which I lugged into town in a rucksack and sturdy shopper. 

 Rather than at a local chazza, I also dropped off 6 or 7 vintage handbags at the Oxfam shop on Broad Street (the oldest one in the world apparently) because I know they have a vintage section. I then dived into Marks and Spencer partly because my 2 mugs of morning tea was catching up on me and I know they have toilets, and partly to pick up a couple of food hall bits, before saving the best until last and giving myself a lovely browse around one of my happy places – Paperchase. When everything goes to shit at work, my lunch hour will inevitably find me seeking solace in their calming shelves of stationary. 

 It was really lovely to browse a few shops after all this time.

 When it was time for my eye appointment I was greeted at the door, guided upstairs and given a Covid questionnaire to fill out. The whole process went like clockwork and was extremely well managed. I felt perfectly safe and perfectly comfortable taking time choosing the new frames I most definitely needed. I was due back in Oxford 2 weeks later for my friend Charlotte’s leaving lunch (which I am still in complete denial about.) so I arranged to pick up my new glasses then. They had taken some careful measurements of my face which was kind of weird at the time but meant when I did go in the new glasses fitted perfectly and needed no adjusting, other than me getting used to being able to see clearly once more that is. As my Mother said when she got hers, she looked around and thought Jeez is my kitchen really that dirty?

 The next two weeks zipped by and it was soon time to head back into Oxford again. We were so lucky that we had had everything planned for the week before the second lockdown commenced! Again I went in earlier than 12 noon, firstly to collect my new glasses but secondly to collect The Peacock. I posted a while back now that I had *finally*  finished the huge embroidery that I had been wrestling with for about 9 months. 

I decided that it deserved to be framed and not just rolled up for the next 25 years, yes I genuinely had the kit over 25 years before I actually got round to starting it!?! Well it wasn’t going to go down quietly oh no. It nearly broke me to make it, and it nearly broke poor Richard the framer too. Absolutely and utterly my fault because due to it’s size I had stitched it on a tapestry frame rather than in a hoop, which of course pulled it out of shape. Unlike tapestry however every time it got stretched as soon as they took it out of the stretcher it sprung straight back to it’s misshape, in the end and after 2 months of trying, he had to use a new sort of plastic strip with teeth that you stick to the edge of the frame and kind of pull the fabric over then the teeth lock it in place. 

Anyway here it is, in all it’s glory. Now I just need to figure out where to hang it. 

Charlotte and I had met outside the opticians so after the market we walked into Jericho to The Gardeners Arms where we were meeting 6 other members of the team for lunch. As the maximum number of people who could meet was 6, we had spoken to the venue and asked to have a table of 6 and a table of 4 as near to each other as possible. When we got there sadly they had placed us at opposite ends of the room with a couple of tables in between. The food is all vegetarian and vegan (Charlotte is vegan) and was delicious, frankly anything called a mushroom medley is going to get my vote anyway!

The weather was meant to be bad that day but had stayed fine and sunny, that is right until we left the pub. We had literally walked to the end of the road when the heavens opened, there was thunder lightning and ferocious winds. Charlotte and I dashed round the corner and across the street where we found shelter under a shop awning, we realised we had lost the others and waited ages until they finally appeared completely bedraggled from where they had tried to shelter unsuccessfully by a wall. So I jokingly told them with age comes wisdom and you should always follow the oldies, especially if they know the area well! We ended up racing down to The Jericho Tavern (famous music venue of old and scene of many a drunken night out for me!) where we were able to secure two tables of 5 next to each other once we had done all the track and trace details etc. Our plans had been to maybe go for a walk then head our separate ways until the weather got involved. Instead we had a fabulous afternoon into evening sampling all the cocktails The Jericho had to offer, somehow so much easier when table service is involved. No idea when the others left but Charlotte and I headed off for 9pm trains and yes I was still lugging that huge frame about the whole time! It was so lovely to be able to give Charlotte a proper send off, a couple of other people have left and it’s just not the same doing a zoom meeting goodbye.


We’ve had some weather lately, the wettest Autumn on record apparently, which has meant no walks for me really and I have certainly noticed it. When we did have a couple of fine days I whisked myself out at lunchtime to stroll around the park just down the road from our house. The leaves were so lovely I nipped home for my camera.

We also took a stroll round the new housing estate on the edge of town They have a small Asda there and Himself called in for some beers to take home and I spotted they surprisingly had a really good selection of plants on 3 for £5. So 2 days later when it actually managed to stop raining for a bit I went back with a large shopping bag and bought myself 9. I’m planning a small rockery at some point when the weather lets me, I discovered a pile of big chunks of concrete rubble in the garden when clearing so I thought I might make use of them and the soil from the grow bags!

The garden is having a last hurrah. My delphiniums have finally flowered after getting chewed to within an inch of their lives by slugs. I ended up digging them up and popping them in a pot with copper tape around it.

The eagle eyed among you may have spotted the hedgehog in the top left of this picture. I was slightly surprised to see one too as they are nocturnal as a rule. Usually to see one in day time is a big red flag that they are in need of help, 

but at this time of year the adolescents will come out foraging in the afternoon as they are frantically putting on weight for hibernation. This chap was quite a good size so I was happy to let him go on his way.

I also have a late sunflower. I spotted it randomly growing in the middle of the lawn! So I quickly dug it up before Himself mowed the grass. Typical, I never seem to have success when I plant them deliberately but self seeded away the go.   

It's berries a go-go right now

though the birds have done a good job of striping the holly tree pretty much bare.

two colours of spiky bastard (as Vix & Jon call it)
this one self seeded itself so I cut it into a tree.
these chrysanthemums I bought last year for £2 in Wilko, they were teeny tiny then and I thought they had died, but suddenly in about August they roared into life and grew and grew before bursting into glorious bloom. So they are in completely the wrong place for their height and size but who cares.

This year does seem to have been a bumper year for fruit. We have 5 apple trees in the garden and they all fruited together this year so we have been switching between crumble, strudel and Dorset apple cake every week, no wonder my waistline is expanding!

So here we are in lockdown again. Oxford was on the brink of going up a tier anyway due to certain minorities, in particular some of the university students, just not doing what they are meant too. They even had the police involved at one college where students who knew they were positive had continued to go out into the town, as well as socialize, instead of isolate. It’s hard to believe that these are meant to be the next generation or leaders, but after a life time of working for the university, I can firmly conclude intelligence does not equal common sense. Indeed the more you have of the former the less you have of the later in many cases. SIGH


Halloween was our anniversary so we hunkered down with prosecco and films. 

I made a huge Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread so strong it made my eyes stream. 

The next day we took ourselves off for a lovely walk and did some of the Halloween trail the neighbouring village had set up for the children. 

The effort some people went to was immense 

but I particularly liked the skeleton in the hedge.

I have been slowly getting rid of my Converse as they wear out, and much as it breaks my heart not replacing them. With my achilles issues Converse are not the best kind of shoes to wear for more than short walks.  

I bought a pair of silver trainers in the 70% off end of sale page of the Debenhams website  

I need to wear them in a bit round the house but otherwise I love them.

I also bought another reduced Erstwilder brooch. I really can't resist them. I may also have just bought another one whilst doing some Christmas shopping but more of that another day...