Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday

Morning! 
Here I am, sat in bed, laptop on a pillow, fragrant hot coffee beside me, feeling relaxed and content.
A very pleasant start to the weekend.

There's not much to say about yesterday really.  I got all the chores done and it was an easy drive over to Mum and Dad's.

Today should be a quiet day.  There's a bit of ironing and maybe a bit of clearing out to do and I hope to get out for a bit of a walk this afternoon, weather permitting.  Yesterday was gorgeous and very mild so fingers crossed for today.

A short entry today so I will just wish you a very happy Saturday and sign off.
xx

Friday, 15 February 2019

Friday

Good morning, everyone.  It's another lovely, frosty morning, cold and sunny.  I reckon it will be a beautiful day.

Yesterday, as soon as I could, I hit the road and headed off for the bus into town (can't use my pass until after nine) and stayed on the bus until it got to the bottom of Moulsham Street where I hopped off and headed up Moulsham Street.  I used to go there pretty often because there was a superb music shop, Dace's, where I got all my recorder exam music as well as recorded music and where they repaired instruments, etc.  Such a good place but it's moved elsewhere now.  Maybe it got too costly right in the town centre.

Anyway, opposite what used to be Dace's was Franklin's, so in I went.  What an Aladdin's cave!  It made me wonder why I ever go to Hobbycraft for 'fixings' when there's Franklin's almost right outside a bus stop!

I spent well over an hour in there (it's on two floors), choosing patterns (sewing and knitting), drooling over fabrics and yarn and generally getting to grips with what they offer.  It is also a sewing machine shop and the nice young man (young to me, anyway - and I swear they get younger every day) does demos and so on.  I have suggested to Beth that we book a time with him to go over what's out there in the upper market quilting machine line.

I found a pattern to use the chunky yarn I got in Aldi's and a very nice pattern to make up some Aran I have.  It's not really a traditional Aran pattern but it has 'elements'.  I also got a pattern that's a plain round neck chunky which I can adapt with Guernsey-like patterning.
Downstairs, I wanted four paper patterns but they only had one in, for a skirt, so I will look online for the others.

Finally and very reluctantly, I decided enough was enough and left the shop, making my way back into the town centre, hopping in and out of shops as I did so.  It wasn't until much later that the impact of this really hit home.  I, fat old me, was going into 'normal' shops, looking at 'normal' clothes, trying on 'normal' sizes and rejecting, not because they didn't fit but because I didn't fancy them.  Pre-gallbladder, if it fitted, I had it, regardless.  Well, not quite, but I did wear things I wasn't too keen on because there wasn't anything else.

Once home, my disabled persons railcard had arrived so that is now signed and tucked inside the little card holder where my bus pass can be found.

In the evening it was Slimming World group and, to my great delight, it was another two pounds off.  Woo hoo!  I also won one of the raffles as the slimmer of the week didn't stay so the basket of goodies was raffled off.  Not a bad evening, eh?

Today, I have a home to tidy before my lovely cleaner arrives, some ironing, some packing, some meal planning, a little bit of shopping and an hour's drive.  Better get going then, don't you think?  :-)
Have a lovely day, everyone.
xx


Thursday, 14 February 2019

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  It's Thursday and nearly half term!  I can't be bothered to open the door and check the weather as I'm nice and warm but BBC says that it is freezing out there (all the more reason not to open the door yet) and today is going to be pleasant - sunny with a gentle breeze.  I'll take that, thank you.

It was another lovely day yesterday.

I arrived at Val's just before twelve and we talked almost endlessly for a few hours.  She made up a Tom Kerridge recipe that she found in one of the Times add on magazines and it was scrummy - smoked haddock and spinach egg pots.  Tom is, of course, very aware of calories and more healthy eating nowadays, and this recipe (with a bit of adapting) works very well with the Slimming World ethos.  Definitely one to do again.  Thanks, Val.

Val would like to come with me on one/some of my coach day trips so when the next lot come out - which should be very soon now - I'll look through online and see which sound likely.  It's always nice to have a friend around.

Talking of trips, I want to test my new railcard next week with a trip to Norwich or Ipswich, both of which are on the line from here.  I must look up what there is to do in each city and where the stations actually are.  I've decided to leave 'Sarfend' until a later and warmer date.
Any ideas about those two cities, anyone?

Or, looking at the map, I could get to Kings Lynn although it is a slightly more complicated journey.  That's supposed to be quite nice, I think.

All of the above depends on the weather, of course.

Does anyone enjoy the Great British Sewing Bee?  I watched it yesterday morning while doing some ironing and I thought it well up to standard, inspiring me to look up how to do a concealed zip on youtube.  In my day (getting old) we weren't taught that and I've never used the relevant zipper foot but I think my machine has one - must check.
I would never wear it myself, but I liked the 'wriggle dresses' but I think jumpsuits are the most impractical things out.  Imagine having to practically strip off to go to the loo!  The winner's jumpsuit was fabulous though - that lady has style.

Anyway, as I watched on, I could feel myself getting twitchy in a way that I always recognise.  I want to start sewing!  I want to make some clothes for myself, now that I can use standard patterns and they will all be in my size.  I also have my mum's lovely sewing machine to get used to so I want to do that too.  I think I need a few more days in each week!

So I'm off into town as soon as we hit nine o'clock, straight to John Lewis where they have a good selection of books to see what's available.  I might wander off the town centre to see if the dedicated fabric shop - Franklins - is still around too.  Call it a fact finding mission!
That will take up most of the morning, one way and another.

It's SW group this evening so, as always, my fingers are crossed.  All day!  :-)



Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Wednesday

Good morning.  It looks as if it might be another really pleasant day today, weather wise.  The sky looks pretty clear and it looks 'bright', if you know what I mean.

Good news for me:  I got an email yesterday letting me know that my application for a Disabled Persons Railcard has been approved and it's in the first class post.  That was impressively quick; I only posted the request off on Sunday afternoon.  It might even arrive today.
I must plan a jolly using it for next week as it's half term so no tuition to get back for - very little tuition anyway.

Pottery update:
I neatened up around mousehog's eyes and it's in the kiln again - forgot to take a photo, sorry.  I will, I promise.  A good laugh is always a pleasant thing! 

The leaf glazed OK . . .


. . . but not perfectly -  there were a few white-ish patches around the edge so Alex (tutor) helped me re-glaze those patches and that's also back in the kiln.  I now know that dabbing is better than painting, more like stencilling.  I'm really pleased with it though and I'm sure it will look great.  I think I need to get some stick on felt spots to give it some 'grip' underneath.  Also, I quite fancy making some coasters at some point and some felt underneath those would be essential.

I finished the first part of the coil pot and now it's drying before I can neaten it all up.  It's not great but I enjoyed starting to learn the technique and it will suffice as a pencil pot - unless I can't handle it looking (leering?) at me all the time. Also, the sides are very - er - undulating, and that might bug me.
See what I mean?


Detail of the top.  It will look better once I have smoothed it all off.


And Alex thought the buttons a great idea when I explained what they were for so I punched out eight butterflies and they will also be finished off next time before firing and glazing.


Sadly, next time does not equal next week.  It's half term.  Never thought I would be sad about half term!  However, that gives me a day for a jolly (with my new rail card, maybe) somewhere which is nice.

The rest of the day passed pleasantly, so all in all it was another super day.

Today I will be off out to have lunch with Val and I'm looking forward to that very much.  Val is an old friend who used to keep an eye out for my two after school when they were younger but had moved on from Primary when they could usually stay with me in school until I could go home.  She lived just down the road from me so it was very handy and I was very grateful to her.  Since then she and Mike have moved away and we recently got back in touch again - there's time now that we're both retired and have a bit more time for fun things.  Our get togethers have settled to once a month and I shall take my diary with me so we can fix the next one today.

Apart from that, there's just a spot of tuition so it's going to be a very pleasant day indeed.
I do appreciate how fortunate I am, I truly do.

Have a great day yourself too.
xx


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tuesday

Good morning.  It feels a bit chilly this morning but I don't think there was a frost and the forecast is optimistic.
After the early frost, yesterday was a gorgeously sunny day and it turned out quite mild too.  However, I don't kid myself that winter is over yet.  There's plenty of time still.

I enjoyed yesterday.  After dropping Al off at the station, I came home, got some finished washing out of the machine and decided it was nice enough to hang them out for the first time in goodness knows how long.  After a good clean of the line (it was absolutely filthy) out it all went, rejoicing my heart as it waved in the sun and breeze - yes, I am easily pleased.

School was lovely as it always is.  Tuition was also great.  I get such a feeling of satisfaction from both.

And my parcel arrived.  I'm afraid I have succumbed, as I said on t'other blog, to the prevailing fashion and treated myself to an Instant Pot.  It looked more than a little daunting as I lifted it out of the box but an hour later I was cooking my dinner in it (mushroom risotto) and it was a great success.
I think this might become my second favourite gadget - after Thermione.  Nothing can replace her prime place in my culinary heart!

Today, being Tuesday, is pottery class and I'm hoping my leaf is finished.  I have a coil pot to carry on with and I want to make some decorative buttons (if I'm allowed).  I'll tell you more tomorrow about all that.

The rest of the day, in contrast to last week, is pretty low key with not a lot happening.  Ironing calls and I have beds to change so I'll get that done and the sheets in the machine although there won't be enough daylight left to dry them outside, I suspect, even if the weather is good.

Oh - I've finished my coffee.  Time for a second dose.  Have a great day, everyone, and, as the great Dave Allen used to finish off with, may your God go with you..
xx

Monday, 11 February 2019

Monday

Good morning, everyone.  After another blustery day that started off wet and then cleared to give us some sunshine, the wind settled and this morning we have a hard frost to remind us it's still very much winter.

On Friday, Al came bearing gifts - a gift anyway.  It was this book.


Isn't it lovely!
Unlike the other cute things I have been knitting, these are made with 4 ply, of which I only have a little, so I absolutely HAD to get in some more yarn, didn't I?  Oh, dear, what a tragedy! 
I'll have to keep my eyes open as I couldn't find any browns in 4 ply (for hair) in Hobbycraft.

Ofr course, I have started making one.  It's fiddly and there's some very attractive little details.  Some of the clothes come on and off which would be nice for a young child and there's some gorgeous little accessories like bags and hats.

We spent the evening catching up on recorded 'Have I got News For You' programmes, which we both find hysterically funny at times and, after so much laughing, I slept like a log.

I will be taking Alison to the station this morning.  She has a busy week ahead of her so I hope the weekend has been a welcome break for her.

Then it's home, plan, Knitter Knatter club, helping out in FS, home, tuition and then ironing in the evening.  A busy but satisfying day.

I'm expecting a parcel, too, at some point today.  I'll tell you about that another time though.
xx

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunday

Good morning, everyone. 

Yesterday was a hoot!
We took the bus into town to get the train to Southend.
We actually had three choices.  We could have taken the X30 bus straight to Southend but decided not to do that as, though I have a bus pass, Alison does not and it costs a tenner plus she had vouchers for the train.  So train it was.  Two choices there as it's not a direct run from Chelmsford to Southend.  We could go Chelmsford - Shenfield; Shenfield - Romford; Romford - Upminster; Upminster - Southend - so three changes OR we could go Chelmsford - Shenfield and then get a 'replacement' bus as there is work on the line from Shenfield to Southend.

We decided on the latter as we thought we'd get some nice views on a bus journey.  Big mistake!

It was actually great value what with Al's vouchers, getting day returns and travelling together so no complaints there.  Nor was there anything untoward on the first leg.  We then got on the bus and, oh, my!  Talk about snail's pace!  And, of course, it had to stop at every station on the route to Southend to pick up passengers.  And there were some very long hold-ups because of road works mostly.  We didn't actually arrive in Southend until nearly one o'clock.

We went into the station to ask about bus times back to Shenfield later and the lady we asked grinned at us and indicated that if she were us, she'd cut her losses and get the X30 back.  Good idea but our tickets were not transferable.  We got the times anyway and decided to think about it!

So off we went.  It's a short walk down to the sea front but took longer because we kept stopping and looking in shops, etc.  Once on the sea front (oh, OK, estuary front, to be accurate) the wind fairly took our breath away.  It was extremely gusty!  The sun was shining though and it was cheerful and, Diane, we waved to you!

The fish and chips were gorgeous!  I haven't had bought fish and chips for at least eighteen month and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Piping hot and fresh cooked while we waited.
We wandered up and down, enjoying what we saw, although seaside resorts tend to look a bit scruffy and worn out when not in holiday season and Southend is no exception.
Then we went to the pier but decided not to go down it as it was so, so windy.  It wasn't cheap either - just over a fiver each for both ways on the little train.  Not to worry - that's now on my list for another visit as I have a friend there who couldn't meet up with us yesterday so will be returning - when it is warmer!

Time passed and it was time to think about heading back.  Decision time and we decided to try the four train option back.  That was a better choice although we just missed a few connections and had to wait around a bit.  However, we could stay warm and it wasn't nearly so bumpy and bouncy as the bus.  It was well dark by the time we got home.

So all in all a good day and the company, of course, was great.  I haven't seen Al for quite a while so we have plenty to catch up on.

I took some photos - the ones into the sun are deliberate!










Adventure Island - closed!








Walking along the front










Fine dining fish and chips.  It was lovely and warm - venue and food!







Very upmarket, don't you think!







There weren't many people on the beach - everyone else was far too sensible.








Into the sun.






A cheeky little chappie begging for crumbs.





It came over cloudy in the afternoon and we had a few drops of rain.  Nothing much though.






So that was Southend.  I shall go back again but not on the train until they have finished all the work which is every weekend until June or July!  Next time, I will take the bus and use my bus pass.

However, I learnt a few interesting things en route.  You can get a disabled rail card that entitles you to assisted travel as needed and a 33% discount and it's a lot cheaper to buy than the golden oldies railcard.  I took out a three year senior citizen railcard when I first retired but never got my money's worth so didn't renew.  However, I think I will go for this one and plan trips that use rail more  - it opens up a lot of possibilities. 

For example, the line goes direct to both Ipswich and Norwich.  Norwich would be particularly good as that's where Alex is at uni, there's a Premier Inn  close by the station and a bus that runs from there straight to the UEA campus. I could do a day trip or I could stay over a couple of nights.  It also goes to Colchester but I want to do the bus on that trip.

I didn't think I was entitled to a disabled persons railcard as I'm not formally registered as disabled, but it covers hearing and visual impairments and my hearing aid paperwork is acceptable as evidence. 

Sorry for rambling on.  Hoping you haven't fallen asleep yet, I'll just add that we are probably taking it easy today and staying in.  The weather forecast is for 'heavy rain and a moderate breeze' and I think we both had enough of breezes yesterday - and that was in sunshine!

Have a lovely day, everyone.
xx