Sunday, 27 June 2021

A May Round Up.

 No idea what happened there but my follow up post didn't happen! I can't believe how quickly time is passing at the moment, I never seem to have 5 minutes let alone an hour to blog.  

Anyway I shall carry on as if it were just the start of May. 

I did indeed go into Oxford for the 1st time since before Christmas, to meet my friends Charlotte and Alex. Alex had moved back home to Wales last year and I have missed her a lot. Technically she works in Birmingham at the moment, though like many of us she has been working remotely. However she had to go into the office for a day so took the opportunity to visit Oxford too. 

I dropped off some paperbacks at the book stall at the train station on my way into Oxford, and delivered some reference books to the Oxfam bookshop when I got there. The rain was so torrential I actually had to take shelter under some scaffolding with my umbrella up until it eased a little. Charlotte & Alex met me outside the shop  and we walked to North Parade and managed to have tea & cake sat outside a cafe between showers, this was back when you could only eat outside at cafes or restaurants. From there we headed to university parks and meandered about having a good catch up. 

For lunch we managed to find a table outside at Vaults the cafe under the university church in Radcliffe Square. Posing for a quick selfie by the Radcliffe Camera after we had stuffed our faces on their delicious food, forgive the demented hair, it was that windy!

We also squeezed in a browse around Blackwell's before Alex had to collect her case and head for her train. I needed to nip to Marks for some undies and from there Charlotte and I went for a blissful browse around John Lewis, both spending our pennies in the haberdashery section. 

By the time we left the sun had finally come out and as neither of us was in a hurry to go home we popped into the garden at The Red Lion off George Street and had a drink. I actually ended up getting home later than Himself! Oh to be a lady of leisure. 

The other big excitement was FINALLY being able to visit my Dad again. They had allowed my Mum to visit since April but by the beginning of May they said up to two people could visit. We had to go 30 minutes before to do a lateral flow test, fill out paperwork & have our temperature taken, before being shrouded in PPE. The visit was only 15 minutes at first but I can't begin to tell you have amazing it was to finally be able to see him. Since then we have been visiting weekly, I now do the lateral flow test at home and the visits have increased to 30 minutes but we still have to do all the other checks and wear PPE. We are also allowed up to 5 designated visitors now so my brother and nephew number one can also visit.

 From the end of May we have been allowed to take him out, but only for an outdoor visit. On my brother's birthday we liberated Dad for the whole afternoon and had a family picnic in the park next to the care home. He loved it though I think seeing so many people at once was a bit of sensory overload after being away from us all for so long.

Himself and I went to nephew number one and his girlfriend's house that night. We had seen it briefly when they moved in in November but that was in full lockdown, so it was lovely to be able to visit properly and get a full guided tour. They have decorated since that visit and really put their stamp on it.

 We had a great night and finally left at 2.30am, with Himself being somewhat worse for wear (I had sensibly stopped drinking. He was good for nothing the next day so I left him snoozing and pottered in the garden.

I've been quite busy in the garden when I have had some time. I have been taking it steady as I gain strength back in my arm. Actually there has been a big change in the garden, you may remember me grumbling about the huge conifer 

the one in the middle of this picture to be precise. Well the lady next door popped round to say they were having a tree surgeon out to take the overhanging branches off the conifer, and the tree you can see behind it, on their side. As well as reduce the height of the conifer a bit. I confessed I would happily see the whole thing come down and she got quite excited by that until I pointed out that sadly as we are renting I couldn't approve it. I offered to ring our landlord to see if he was up for it coming down as I know he plans to build at some point. I did ring him and he was amenable so I passed his phone number on for them to sort out particulars. 

It turned out the tree surgeon was a one man outfit and said it was too big a job for him to remove the whole tree but he did reduce the height by 10 foot. 

Well he clearly didn't remove enough height for our neighbour because over the next 2 weeks he got his own chainsaw and did this

then this

and finally this

I mean fair play he cleared up and disposed of all the tree but it turns out he never even called our landlord who was a bit peeved as you can imagine! Though he did say if we were ok with it then he was ok with it. So yes...

Anyway now we have a lot more light in the garden!

I felt obliged to tidy up at bit at the end of the garden and there was a pile of rubble so I decided to build a rockery on a flowerbed near the kitchen that nothing seems to grow in. On the big new housing estate about a mile from us there is a small Asda and they always have plants outside. I have to say I have been blown away by the quality and the price and have been back several times now to stock up.

Here are the alpines I bought at 3 for £5 and a couple of other reduced plants.

and here is my new rockery! I've since bought a couple more to fill in the gaps.

As I am still working from the kitchen table and tend to stand at the window drinking my tea or eating my lunch I have bought some colour for the table outside.

Mostly petunias, from left to right at the back Blue Star, Blackcurrent Sorbet and Velvet. 

I planted all my out of date seeds and most of them sprouted

I also started my container vegetable garden.

I've been doing full on battle with the slugs, they have been relentless this year. Much worse than usual. I go out every evening and pick them off by torchlight. No poison pellets for me with all the bird life and hedgehogs. I have tried the wool pellets,the broken egg shells, the grit to no avail but have found the copper tape quite effective.

The birds have been an absolute joy, though the juvenile starlings are SO noisy! 

This laburnum tree and honeysuckle are like a bird high rise. It has a blackbird nest at head height, with a collared dove nest above that and goldfinches nesting right at the top! Today there were baby chaffinches, one of my favourite garden birds. It really does the soul good.   

I think this flowerbed in the middle of the lawn was once a pond but it is now a circular alpine bed. It is full of cyclamens so I have to be careful how I dig. I tend to fill the gaps with pansies and the like

As a rule I leave things where they self seed and this foxglove is no exception. However it is insanely huge and has now dwarfed everything else in the little alpine bed. In fact it's actually as tall as me! Ridiculous but the bees love it.

For the last bank holiday in May the weather was unusually glorious so we took ourselves out for a walk.

We ended up doing 10 miles and spent 7 of them carrying a box of eggs! We passed a house selling fresh eggs and when we looked they were from heritage breed hens and all sorts of colours like white, blue and green so how could you not? 

It wasn't meant to be 10 miles but we got slightly lost, in countryside like this who cares though? 

So that was May as ever I will end with my purchases. I was looking for something on Etsy and you know how it suggests things you might like.


I fell in love with this glass whale when I clicked on the link, I just had to have it. He now has pride of place at our bedroom window. You can't really see but he has a moon and stars etched on him. I then saw another glass picture listed as 'from a seller near you' I absolutely had to have it. I am obsessed with the full moon, apparently as a cancerian it's in my dna, I'll go with that. 

Anyway after I paid it turned out it was from the US! My heart sank at the thought of the import charge but amazingly enough it arrived without getting stopped by customs.

I'm afraid this photo doesn't do it justice, it's gorgeous.

Finally handbags, well there had to be a few!

 The white one is heavily beaded, I have no recollection of buying it or where from!?! It just arrived in the post one day. You know your handbag habit is bad when that happens!

The red leather one has 2 side pockets that someone had decided to super glue shut, I managed to ease them apart again but the glue has left a messy stain.

These two were Ebay purchases.  I need to polish them and try and find space for them in my out of control collection. I feel the need for another cull, not that I ever seem to part with more than one or two at most. It's bad, very bad.

Well that was my gallop through the rest of May. I will *try* to get back very soon with June and our blissful trip to Cornwall. Adieu.    

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Walking Back to Happiness.

 Well this may turn into an epic post or it may become two!

As ever I have had a post in mind and then for various reasons haven't posted anything. In the early days this was due to only being able to type one handed and after a day at the keyboard for work I was in no fit state to type for leisure.

I have to say working from home has been a boon with my injury. I was able to either start a bit later or pop upstairs for a lie down in my lunch hour in those early weeks when I was getting very little sleep. Thankfully after 5 weeks I was finally able to lie down in bed, albeit with my shoulder and arm propped up on a rolled up jumper. 

I can't even begin to describe the joy that came at 7 weeks when I could finally sleep curled up on my side again. It really is the little victories! 

I had booked a week off work in April to spend doing some heavy duty gardening, I'd had a soil delivery and everything. I was feeling pretty downhearted that I wasn't going to be able to do anything at all but by the time the week came I was able to spend a few hours each day gently pottering about. Luckily for me the weather was absolutely gorgeous too. I did have my limitations brought home on the first day when, hoping to take advantage of the gorgeous sunshine I did a load of laundry, then realised I couldn't actually reach up to peg it to the line! Cue much swearing.

I got Himself to move a big bag of compost next to the table I use for potting up so I was able to plant some seeds. I can't begin to tell you the good it did me just to be out in the fresh air doing something I love. Our resident robin was next to me the whole time supervising.

I chat away to him/her, I'm sure the neighbours think I'm insane and talking to myself. Mind you all the close attention became clear on the 3rd day when he/she arrived with two adorable babies in tow. I spent the day nipping in and out fetching handfuls of smashed up peanuts for them to eat.

As ever my bird feeder has been a source of much joy when you can't do much else but stand at the kitchen window with a mug of tea and watch the world. I soon spotted someone else watching it with even more intense attention.

No Mr Sparrowhawk, no. I went and chased him off a few times. I know it's meant to be a sign of a very healthy ecosystem, but frankly my inner ecosystem was too fragile to cope with murder and mayhem at that point in time. 

Whilst I was outside and standing very still, kind of figuring out what I might be able to do next I spotted one of these on the bird feeder. I have never seen one before and once it had flown off took to the internet to find out what it was, a Red Poll. I never cease to be amazed at what visits this suburban garden.

I've been plugging away with the daily exercises for my arm. I had a call with a different physiotherapist, it really is farcical! Him trying to describe how to do an exercise over the phone and me not understanding what the hell he's on about. Mind you I did burst out laughing when he asked me in his very broad Yorkshire accent if I was able to "reach round and touch your bumcrack" (sadly not) I couldn't resist asking if that was the official term for it.

When I had my follow up at the fracture clinic the consultant rolled his eyes and said 'I have NOTHING good to say about the service since it's been outsourced.' According to him, and indeed the 2nd physio I spoke to, my injury needs face to face treatment, but even if I was put forward as an emergency they couldn't guarantee I'd get any at all, and even if I did it would be at least 6 weeks. It really is ridiculous in the extreme. I have gained a fair amount of movement and range but but recently I seem to have plateaued which is very frustrating. 

Other than working I have been walking. I'm so grateful I can still do that and get out and about in the fresh air. I finished the fateful Cabot Trail challenge and got my hard earned medal. 

I followed that with the Mount Fuji challenge because I loved the beautiful medal. that was 43 miles and I did it in 2 weeks. 

I'm now doing The Kruger National Park challenge which is 265 miles. I'm walking pretty much every day which is hopefully going to help with the lockdown weight gain as well as the fact I need to build up/maintain my bone density. I was always an enthusiastic dairy eater, particularly cheese and yoghurt, but since the fall I've been drinking milk everyday too.

Since lockdown I've also discovered the joy of online events. I have enjoyed talks by TV personalities like Monty Don, Nadiya Hussain, Tom Allen and Escape to The Chateau's Dick and Angel Strawbridge, authors like Marian Keyes and musicians as eclectic as Gary Numan and Bananarama! 

I have been thoroughly enjoying the serious of talks hosted by the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. I am now a life long fan of their Head of Exhibitions Dennis Nothdruft! 

I also found a fascinating one for the M&S archives and have followed a couple by the V&A. It's going to be a while before I go to exhibitions again in person, so this is a good way to live vicariously. You also get a very in depth, knowledgeable and close up tour.

I have a favourite walk around here along an old disused railway line to the village of East Hagbourne, oh if money were no object I would buy a house there like a shot. 

Once I was able to actually use my camera again I took it out with me. Has anyone else noticed this year seems to be particularly good for primroses and cowslips? 

I have never seem so many cowslips.

Well that will do for now. More anon including FINALLY getting to visit my Dad for the first time since September, voting, handbags and tomorrow I'm off into Oxford for the first time since December. I'm excited and nervous at the same time, it's funny how what was once my daily commute to work is now an adventure!

Friday, 19 March 2021

Life Has a Way

 of coming at you when you least expect it. 

I had a blog post planned, I hadn't drafted it yet but I'd done the pictures and was ready to go when the universe decided to test me yet again or something like that. I was ploughing on with my Cabot Trail walk and about 100 miles into it's 186 mile distance, walking every other evening for about 4-5 mikles and with a longer walk at the weekend.

We headed out after dinner on the 18th Feb, frankly I was tired and didn't really want to go at all but Himself encouraged me out and when we hit the 3 and a half mile point he asked if I wanted to carry on the longer route or just go the quick way home. Every ounce of my being said the short way, so I deliberately said no the long way because this was meant to be about losing weight and getting fit and you don't do that cutting corners, and this was where I came unstuck. I have gone through all the what ifs since that night because that's human nature but what will be will be and what ifs can't change it.

 Just over a mile from home and going at a cracking pace because I just wanted to get home, I tripped over a paving slab and went flying, literally. As I still have a frozen shoulder I couldn't put my hand out to save myself so my full, and not inconsiderable weight, was taken by my left shoulder. I felt and heard it crack so I knew instantly I had done something bad. I managed to get up and Himself thought maybe it was fine because I could move my hand, but I knew it wasn't. He asked if I wanted to call an ambulance or walk home and I chose to walk home, I just wanted to get into the house. A few friends have said 'you must have been in agony' but no the adrenaline had kicked in so I couldn't really feel a thing. We got in and called 111, the girl there was great ran through a load of questions to establish I wasn't in shock then told me to take a couple of paracetamol and arranged for a doctor to call me within half an hour. Thankfully whilst I waited for the call I had the foresight to take of my rings on that hand, I wouldn't have got them off if I had left it any longer. The doctor called within 15 minutes decided something was broken and booked me an appointment at A&E. In these covid times you can't just rock up unannounced. My awesome brother agreed to drive me to the hospital even though by this point it was 10.30 at night.

I have to say I was super impressed with how things were run, so quick and efficient. I checked in at one window then was directed to another where I was triaged by a nurse. Knowing that x-rays would be required they sent me for those straight away rather than waiting for the doctor to see me first. So by the time I did see the doctor the x-rays were there and confirmed I'd broken my shoulder. Well in fact they thought I had cracked it and more worryingly chipped the cuff bone. Typically I'm allergic to codeine so they couldn't give me anything stronger than ibuprofen and a full arm sling, then I was sent off to reception to book an appointment at the trauma clinic for a week's time to see what was what and whether I would need surgery. I was back in the house by 1am! 

As you can imagine I had a shit night due to the shock and the pain setting in. The next morning I rung our doctor's surgery without much hope as it has always been near impossible to even get through, let alone get an appointment since well before covid and lockdowns. The angels must have been on my side because I got straight through, I was almost incoherent with shock but they did get a dr to call me back and after discussing options, which are not many when you can't take any form of opiate, he prescribed a stronger form of ibuprofen alternated with paracetamol. 

My visit to the trauma clinic a week later established I had definitely broken the bone rather than cracked it but apparently if you are going to break a bone mine is the best kind to have, neat and with minimal displacement. More importantly I had not chipped the rotator cuff which meant there was no need for surgery or a cast, gravity and immobilization are all that is required. The hospital had put me in the wrong kind of sling but thankfully it hadn't done any harm so I was re-slinged and sent on my way with the strict instruction of NO lifting of any weight with that arm. I have to go back after 6 weeks for x-rays to make sure all is doing what it should.

It's been 4 weeks. Physically most of the bruising has gone and there is only a little swelling left, but in terms of my mental well being it's been an interesting time. I have always considered myself a chilled but ultimately lazy person, anyone who has read my blog for a while will know this as I say it often enough. I now know this is not actually the case. I may not charge about sporting and I may like to loaf in front of the tv, but suddenly finding yourself incapacitated makes you realise actually I'm always doing something. The absolute and all consuming angry frustration at not being able to do things took me by surprise. Each day that passed there were more and yet more things to add to the list of things I now couldn't do and it drove me MAD! The fact that this is going to be my life for the foreseeable future makes me want to howl. From not being able to file a broken nail or put on deodorant (you have a go at rolling deodorant under the same armpit as the hand holding the tube) to the fact I had a compost delivery and seeds to plant and a rockery to build. I also can't do any of the crafts I love. It's bloody hard.

I have started exercises from the physio, don't get me started on THAT shit show. The NHS has outsourced it's physio and they don't see you for appointments anymore, I have had a phone consultation and been emailed an exercise sheet. They hadn't seen my records and couldn't even spell my name right! I mean I would have thought that at least would have been there in front of them... I have to call them back after my follow up consultation, tell them what was said  and they will email me another exercise sheet. Frankly the one they sent is so confusing I can't actually figure out what I am meant to be doing. Luckily the universty's occupational health team have been on hand and sent me some much better stuff which I am working from.

So at the moment life is about huge loads of frustration, occasional bouts of pain and occasional bouts of panic that what if things aren't healing as they should. I'm still having to sleep upright which is crap because basically I don't really sleep, I'm averaging a couple of hours a night at most, so I'm accruing a massive sleep debt which doesn't help the mental well being. But there are little moments of victory. This morning I was able to put on deodorant and last night I was able to paint my nails. 

This afternoon I go for my covid jab which I'm delighted about even though I'm not looking forward to having both arms aching for a few hours! Fingers crossed I don't have a reaction.

Anyway that's me. The next few months are going to be a hill to climb. Bones take 6-12 weeks to heal then you have to get mobility back. The shoulder is the worst joint for seizing up apparently so at best I'm looking at 3-4 month at worst a year to 18 months. It's going to be a long and rocky road. Poor Himself is having to do everything and I'm not helping by being a bad patient.

The Sunday before this happened I spent a blissful day cleaning my latest handbag purchases so I'll leave you with them.

 The blue ones were a job lot and the telephone cord bag was a lucky spot at a fraction of the cost they usually sell for. Thank god for the joy that is handbags.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

The January Round Up

 So usually my January post would be a bit of a round up including the usual the good, the bad and the ugly dress purchases from the previous 12 months, and maybe a few of the things I’m looking forward to in the next few months.Obviously last year was an extraordinary year... 

Certainly the year started well, I went to a ‘January Sale’ vintage fair and made purchases there and elsewhere, all of which definitely fell under the good, bad & ugly definition! (When will I ever learn??) I went to a cool theatre production set in a real courtroom, I had tickets for Beautiful the musical in August and the Chelsea Flower Show in May which had been on my bucket list for years. I had managed to persuade Himself to have more than just a long weekend away and quickly booked a week in Cornwall before he changed his mind, and I was signed up for 4 events at the Oxford Literary Festival. So much to look forward too.

The week we went into lockdown I was actually on holiday with dates set and tickets booked for the Bright Young Things exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and the Kimono; Kyoto to Catwalk Exhibition at the V&A. Instead both venues closed, and I ended up cancelling my leave to dash into the office to collect my work laptop and anything else from my desk I thought I might need to work from home for a few months. I never expected to still be working from home nearly a year later. 

I started to adjust to the new normal. It wasn’t easy and there have definitely been more downs than ups. Whilst I thank god we have remained well I’ve had the sad and sobering experience of seeing people I know as well as friends I care about getting sick or having family members die. I will never fathom the covid deniers and anti maskers, never. 

Like many I plunged into gardening with a passion and comfort ate with the best of them. As I said to a colleague it’s a good job I’m not in the office right now because none of my clothes fit! 

I tried to go out and walk. Himself signed up for a couple of virtual challenges and by the end of the year had pounded the pavements and clocked up an impressive 1500 miles, lost a shedload of weight (damn him) and general got fitter.

 I started small with a 21 mile challenge and then another for 31 miles in September because who wouldn’t want this awesome elephant medal? This walking plan didn’t start so well as Himself was well into his challenge and was walking far and fast, whilst I was out of practice overweight and unfit! I drove him mad walking too slowly and only for 3 or 4 miles before I had to give up and go home, in the end I stopped going out. I then moaned about being unfit and over weight so we struck a compromise. I would go out with him a couple of times a week and we would walk at my pace for a few miles I would then branch off and go home and he would crack on for another 10 or 12 miles. I was slowly building up my distance and sometimes I would carry on without him at my own speed. This all slid off towards the end of the year but after the excesses of Christmas I knew enough was enough. 

I have been watching what I eat but still allowing the odd treat like chips & wine, I also signed up for a new and bigger challenge. I’m doing the Cabot Trail because I liked the medal (yes I am that shallow) and it also reminded me of Murder She Wrote and Angela Lansbury which was set in the fictitious town of Cabot Cove!

It’s 184 miles long and I started it on a very foggy 1st January, so far I have done 65 miles. 

I am walking every other day and my speed and distance are improving. I have still been doing my pilates class though hugely frustratingly my frozen shoulder has meant I have been able to do less and less of the class. I have also reduced by caffeine intake dramatically to try and help with the mad night sweats. It’s been interesting to see how alcohol affects those. I may well do more experimenting on this but so far spiced rum & coke is a big trigger (weeps) wine less so and beer not so much at all. Of course there is no way I will ever stop drinking the rum, but I’m limiting it to a Friday or Saturday night so it doesn’t matter so much if I have a crap night’s sleep and want to have a lie in the next day! 

A plus of lockdown is having more time to read which has been bliss. I got quite a few books for Christmas as you can see above, but I am trying to resist dipping into the new ones until I have cleared some of the ones that have been in my book mountain for years now. Having said that I dived straight into the Peanuts one on Christmas morning I loved it. 

I’ve noticed a few blogs listing what they read last year so I shall add my list at the end of this post so you can skip over it if you really couldn't care less about my reading habits. I have used Goodreads for several years now as a sort of virtual bookshelf and I always sign up for their annual reading challenge. On Goodreads you rate the books from one star to five and whilst I didn’t actually give up on any this year some were definitely better that others. 

Just because I’ve got fatter doesn’t mean I stop shopping I just move from clothes to accessories! 

As you can see I had a bit of a brooch splurge.The suns and the boats were job lots. 

I also got this fabulous Erstwilder one from Himself for Christmas. Ok so I just might have bought it as soon as the collection dropped because I knew it would sell out instantly, and then given it to him to give me for Christmas, but as my favourite Peanuts character has always been Linus this was a no brainer. 

Oh and make-up. My favourite ever eye liners are Urban Decay so I may have invested in some when they had an offer on. I also thought I'd try one of their eye shadow palettes. The handbags keep coming

 and still keep coming, I have added to the collection with several more since these!

At least the days are getting longer, I woke up to the most gorgeous sky last week so ran downstairs and grabbed the camera and hung out of the bathroom window to get a shot. 

Onwards and upwards.

I'll finish up with my list, I’ve highlighted in bold any I gave a score of 4 or more on Goodreads.


Among the Bohemian: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 – Virginia Nicholson

Duplicate Death – Georgette Heyer

Last of the Giants: The true story of Guns N’ Roses – Mick Wall

Hollywood Rocks!: The ultimate guide to 1980’s Hollywood rock and roll scene – Michael Rocchio

Detection Unlimited – Georgette Heyer

Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the 19th Centuary – Katie Hickman

Marianna North: A very intrepid painter – Michelle Payne

A Century of Bags – Claire Wilcox

No Wind of Blame - Georgette Heyer

Dear Mrs Bird – AJ Pearce

Nautical Chic – Amber Butchart

Watching You – Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

The Glittering Hour – Iona Grey

A House of Ghosts – WC Ryan

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Steven Turton

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel – Ruth Hogan

Corsets and Codpieces: A History of Outrageous Fashion – Karen Bowman

Before the Coffee gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Love Child – Rachel Hore

Bags – Claire Wilcox

Nigel, My Family and Other Dogs – Monty Don

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson

Arthur: The dog who crossed a jungle to find a home – Mikael Lindnord

Longbourn – Jo Baker

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

Maisie Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear

Historical Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Fiction, Film & TV  - Barry Forshaw

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

The Cleaner of Chartres – Sally Vickers

The Picture House by the Sea – Holly Hepburn

Appetite for Dysfunction : A Cautionary Tale – Vicky Hamilton

The Riviera Set – Mary Lovell

The Trick to Time – Kit de Waal

Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield

The Foundling – Stacey Halls

Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman ( the only book I gave a 5 star review!)

Drawn to the Edge – John Threlfall

The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde and Sargent in Tite Street – Devon Cox

Art Deco Masterpieces of Art – Janet Tyson

Twenties London : A City in the Jazz Age – Cathy Ross 

Alice Diamond and The Forty Elephants: Britain’s First Female Crime Syndicate – Brian McDonald

The Land Girl – Allie Burns

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse – Alexander McCall Smith

Tombland – CJ Sansom

The Peanuts Book – Simon Beechcroft 



Sunday, 10 January 2021

Christmas and all that.

 Well as ever I'm late to the party. I have been meaning to blog before but, well, you've all heard that one before! 

I have now excuse really in that I actually had 2 full weeks off over the Christmas break for the first time ever, at Christmas or anytime actually. I never usually take that long off in one go but the chancellor of the university gave all the staff an extra 2 days off in recognition of all the hard work we have been doing. We had a virtual team bake and a zoom quiz on Friday 18th and shut up shop so to speak. Which was very nice but meant that last week was absolutely manic and I did a couple of very late evenings (8am to 11pm anyone?) 

Which may well have been a contributing factor in me sleeping until pretty much lunchtime the next few days! I could have felt guilt for sleeping half the day away but frankly I was exhausted, and it's not like we had anything planned. Not only has work been very busy, the night sweats have been soundly kicking my arse these last couple of months. One night my internal inferno woke me up 12 times!?! 

I have spent the whole of this week drastically cutting the caffeine and it has seemed to have made a difference. Alcohol is another trigger but if I fancy a drink I'll have one and deal with the consequence.  

I popped into Oxford a couple of times before we were locked down again. I have what seems to be another middle aged woman's curse, a frozen shoulder which is not only extremely debilitating it's ridiculously painful too, so off to the osteopath I went. I am the triple threat apparently, female, over 40 and with a thyroid condition. The clinic I use is in Oxford just across the road from work, handy when you are in work, not so much so when you aren't.

The first week I went I caught an earlier train and popped into Debenhams. Sadly another historic high street name that has gone into receivership. I have so many wonderful memories from the Oxford branch which is/was an old rambling Victorian building with the most amazing cafe back in the day. I had some vouchers to spend and at that point they were still accepting them. As you can see I ended up buying myself a load of sparkles (magpie by name magpie by nature.) I'm a sucker for a jewellery sale and ALWAYS found something in theirs, I shall miss it sorely.  


 From there I went and got pulled about by the Osteopath, it was bloody painful but I left with an appointment for the following week and a couple of new exercises to do daily. Apparently my shoulder could have been a lot worse than it is, so I guess that is something.

The next week I had to pop into work to collect a hamper they were giving out in lieu of a Christmas party any time between 10am - 2pm and the osteopath couldn't fit me in until 3.45pm so I arranged to meet Charlotte, have a lovely catch up, lunch and a browse round the Ashmolean and the latest exhibition at the Bodleian.

 It is called The Art of Advertising and though tiny, was fascinating. We were the only people in there so distancing wasn't an issue. It was just so wonderful to be able to go to an exhibition again I felt quite emotional. I have missed them so much. 

There was the added bonus of another free exhibition on at the same time called Helen Muspratt Photographer. I have never heard of her before but her photographs were just gorgeous and some of the techniques she used frankly extraordinary. 

I gather it's a travelling exhibition so if it comes your way I'd highly recommend it, and certainly google her if you love photography. 

We had delicious pizza at Franco Manca where they had cleverly divided the restaurant up with perspex sheeting so it felt perfectly safe,. Again the chance to do something as simple as have pizza with a friend felt wonderful. We had booked timed tickets for the Ashmolean and had a lovely amble about in our allotted slot before I headed of to get mangled again. It was just as painful as the week before and he booked be straight in for a session on the 23rd Dec which ended up being cancelled due to the new restrictions. 

The next evening Himself and I took ourselves over to visit Nephew Number One and his girlfriend who have just bought themselves their first home, having finally moved in a couple of weeks before. It's about a 30 minute walk from our house so we combined it with getting some exercise and dropping off their Christmas presents. We were a bit naughty and did nip in for a quick inspection because I was dying to see the place. We did take off our shoes, sanitize our hands and keep our masks on whilst we did so. It's a wonderful house and I'm so happy for them.

On the 22nd Soo popped over to exchange presents and go for a socially distanced walk. It was so lovely to see her, it's been an age since we had seen each other so there was a lot to catch up on. We bought lunch in a cafe in town then meandered back home. 

Himself and I were meant to be going to my Mum for Christmas and staying over with her for a few days but it was becoming clear another lockdown was looming and that wasn't going to happen. Once we knew that was the case on the 24th Dec we walked down to Dad's care home to meet her outside and give her her presents and drop Dad's off too. They have *finally* built a perspex booth at the home so Mum is able to visit Dad again. She only get's one 20 minute appointment a week but at least it's something. I'm glad she got on on Christmas Eve. It was frustrating for the rest of us because the phone on Dad's floor broke that week and they didn't fix it until the new year so none of us got to speak to him until then. Poor Dad was quite upset as was my Aunt as she had been trying to ring. I was more annoyed because they didn't bother to report it as broken for 5 days!?! 

Luckily I had spoken to him on the 23rd. We also walked down to my brother's in the evening of the 23rd to wish them a Happy Christmas from the doorstep and drop some stuff off. 

There was a gorgeous sunset. We walked home via the chip shop for a cheeky chip shop chips dinner, as we weren't sure if they would close during lockdown again or not.

Christmas eve watched 3 different versions of A Christmas Carol going out for a walk in between to stretch our legs and walk off our huge dinner. So many more people have decorated their houses this year it was fun to walk around the streets seeing them all but dear lord it was bitterly cold!

So we ended up having our first ever full Christmas of just the 2 of us in 23 years of being together! 

We had a lazy morning with buck's fizz opening presents in our bedroom where we have my Nan's old tinsel Christmas tree in the corner of the room. 

I took a picture of these two kites from our bedroom window because I loved the way the sun was catching them.  

We went out for a long walk 

the weather was gorgeous, very cold but sunny. I fell in love with this tree. If I had a tree on my front lawn I would do this for sure, it looked so pretty.

When we got home my Brother, Sister in law & Mum (they are Mum's bubble so she went there for lunch) called round and wished us a Happy Christmas from the gate. 

All in all a lovely quiet day. I shall leave you with some of my new Christmas decorations. I saw these old fashioned wooden designs in a Home and Antiques magazine and had to invest in some.

I bought a ship, a whale, an elephant, a tiger and a lion. The felt squirrel in the first picture is also new, I couldn't resist him to remind me of the ones I saw on Brownsea.