Monday 22 July 2024

Monday evening, 22-07-24

Hi again, everyone.  I hope you're all wall and have had a good day.

The weather was a bit - let's say uncertain today.  It started off with a bit of sun so I started a load of washing.  Then it started drizzling, which was annoying.  In the afternoon, out came the sun again so I put that load out and started another.  There was a good breeze which really helped.

This morning was a bit hokey cokey.  You know - in out in out.  After watering the garden (I read it is better to water in the morning rather than the evening unless it requires both), I drove over to Lindsey's for circuits which was as good as it always is - so excellent.
After breakfast, I went to the surgery to book my meds review appointment (there were no spaces online and the email said contact the surgery if that was the case) and then on to Longacres to get a little something for a belated birthday present for a friend plus a tarragon plant for myself..
After lunch I was in and out hanging up washing, etc, until the coffee grinder arrive.  It works really well - although I do have to get used to amounts.  I used my single mug cafetiere and the fist attempt was too weak.  By the time I got it just right, I was a bit coffee-logged but not to worry!  It was VERY nice coffee.
I'm just finishing off the ironing and then I'm done for the day.  Tomorrow HAS to be dusting and sweeping.

Tomorrow is also the last day of the summer term at school.  Some areas finished last Friday, I know, but not here.  Then, come the evening, there's a farewell party as one very much loved member of staff is moving on and several other much loved staff are retiring.  Fish and chips - lovely!!  
I may possibly not do a blog tomorrow evening, it just depends on how things all go.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams to one and all.  xx

Sunday 21 July 2024

Sunday evening, 21-07-24

 Evening, everyone.  I've had a lovely, gentle, relaxed day today.  The weather's not been great.  No rain quite a lot of cloud, but it's been comfortable, which is nice.

I blame my daughter!  Ever since she bought me a Nespresso machine for Christmas a year and a half ago, I haven't knowingly made myself instant coffee; nowadays it is either Nespresso or cafetiere coffee and it's lovely.
One step further is grinding your fresh coffee beans - so guess what I have treated myself to.  It's for coffee or for spices, just a small gizmo and I hope I do use it although it didn't cost an arm and a leg.  I'll let you know.
But it is really Beth's fault . . .  😉

Oh, my goodness, the runner beans really are trying to escape.  They're now twisting around the fence slats and over the top of the fence.  I've pinched out growing tips and it's just growing sideways.  No complaints, it looks really nice, just not what I expected, never having grown runners against a fence.  It's always been wigwam-in-the-bed type support before.  
And it gives me happy vibes.

There's just the one disappointment about the coming week.  My lovely friend, S, was coming to stay for a few days but, for very good reason, she's had to postpone her tay.  We WILL get together, it just won't be this week.
To cheer me up, originally, V was coming over for lunch on Thursday, we rescheduled because of S coming, I contacted her this morning and she can come this Thursday.  Looking forward very much to that!

Good night,. everyone.  I hope your Sunday has been really pleasant too.  Take care and sleep well.  xx

Saturday 20 July 2024

Saturday evening, 20-07-24

Good evening, all.  It's been another really nice day, not as hot as Thursday and Friday and with a refreshing breeze at times.  We had a little bit of rain in the afternoon but five minutes after it stopped the ground was dry again.

I had a very pleasant little stroll around the garden this morning, camera in hand.  It was just part of a very gentle and peaceful start to the day with nothing to get ready for until about ten fifteen as, because we were having one of our walks, I didn't do SET online live.

First of all, the runner beans are doing really well in the warmth and sunshine, trying to escape over the fence and producing loads of very attractive flowers.  The Elizabethans grew runner beans for their flowers rather than as a veg, I believe, and I can see why.  I prefer the write flowers to the scarlet ones though, in my own garden, because they fit with the colour vibe which is a pinky/white/blue/lilac sort of thing.  Scarlet would clash and they are part of the overall effect, not in a separate veg patch.

The dwarf beans have also finally got their act together.  The new seeds I put in two or three weeks ago have come up and, while this was accidental, it means there will be a longer fruiting time so can't moan about that!

I know I bang on about tomatoes non-stop, but I was genuinely excited to pick these two little beauties earlier to have with my lunch-time salad.  If you pop over to my SW/foody blog (link at the side) you can see them in situ - well, in salad, anyway - and they were, of course, delish.

There's a few more getting the idea now so, fingers crossed, soon I will be picking every morning.  That makes me very happy.

I've now had four cucumbers but only from one plant.  The other seems to have some nasty, fungally sort of thing so it produces lots of flowers but any baby cucumbers fall off.  I suppose I ought to have it out but further up the stem it looks more hopeful so fingers crossed.   They are very nice cucumbers.

And the salad leaves from the first planting were pretty much over while the second pot is ready for leaf cutting now.  So I cleared the first pot and have sown another lot for later on.  Nice.

And finally, I got some bedding dahlias from Longacres a while ago and the first one has started flowering.  Thankfully, it is the right colour for the bed.  The others are coming along but if they don't 'match' I can try replanting them at the front to keep the confused dahlia company.

They're very pretty, dahlias, aren't they, and very rewarding.

Anyway, enough garden waffle.

After a very leisurely start to the day, I met up with my SW friends for our Saturday walk.  This time it was at Writtle and, as always, a good chat was enjoyed by us all, as was the excellent coffee served in the Writtle Tea Rooms (sadly, closing in September).

Then I came home to potter in the garden a bit and then to just relax under the sunshade.  No, the spike isn't in yet, but Maxine has confirmed that they will do it when they come to paint the bit of ceiling so that's good.  For now, I wedge it in and it is fine.

I came in when it got cloudy and had a very pleasant snooze that set me up for the rest of the day.

And that was my day.  I hope yours has been a pleasant too although I gather some parts of the UK have had more rain than we had here.
Sleep well, everyone, sweet dreams.  xx

Friday 19 July 2024

Friday evening, 19-07-24

Good evening, everyone.  It's been another wonderfully summery day here today.  Wall to wall sunshine.  

I was so tired yesterday evening that I went to bed early and therefore woke up early this morning.  Always the way.  So I've had a few really pleasant snoozed through the day and I'm back on sleep-track again, I think.

I really haven't done much apart from Slimming World this morning and a quick pop into Morrisons to get a few bits and bobs.  No housework, no washing, no ironing.  Instead I have read, knitted, watched telly (caught up with Sewing Bee) and snoozed.  Such a nice day.

How has your Friday been.  Hot?  Busy?  Restful?
Hopefully, it won't be too hot to sleep well this evening.  See you tomorrow.  xx

Buckingham Palace, Gardens and Covent Garden - photo heavy alert

On August 18th, I went to Buckingham Palace.
(how recounts start, naming place and date as an intro - I used to tell my Y1s.)

It was another BroomField Coach Trips organised day and weren't we so lucky with the weather!  It was sunny, dry, warm verging on hot - gorgeous.
We left at half eight, making great time until we hit London and then it was stop-start all the way through the touristy, central and government parts.

Sadly, we didn't go round the front of the palace so I have no balcony/guardsmen type photos.  Maybe another time.

We disembarked very close to where we had to go in and in we went.  There was very tights, airport like security, of course, but there were no issues and in no time at all we were in the hall starting our tour.
It wasn't guided but we had a gizmo and headphones and, joy of joys for a deffie, there were subtitles!  Excellent.
(When I say 'we', I mean me and a lady I was sitting cross aisle from in the coach who was also alone so we paired up)

Apologies, there was no photography allowed in the house and most of the gardens so here's a link to the RCT page that does have some photos of the rooms we explored.
It was just how it looks in the photos apart from the barriers holding us off all the treasures - really magnificent, glowing with colour and light.  Totally splendid with little of the faded grandeur of other stately homes.  I absolutely loved it.
What was nice was that it wasn't over cluttered with grand stuff.  There was space to breathe, you didn't feel overwhelmed or smothered by 'stuff' and the audio/video guide struck the right note for me with more info than I could have worked out for myself.  And did I mention the subtitles?

It was crowded, of course, but you didn't feel rushed on, you took your own time over things. 

Two things that impacted and I have found photos online. . .

A gorgeous little bronze statue on a table in the corridor from one room to the next of the late Queen with a mare and foal.  I could have looked at it for hours, it had such a wonderful vibe to it.
This auction photo really does not do it justice at all.

The other was the official portrait of the King that was on display and it was superb!

Again, the photo isn't a fair representation.  In reality, his uniform does stand out more clearly and the face is fantastic.
I'm so glad I managed to see it.

And thank you, Google Images.

Anyway, through we went and out onto the lawn where the garden parties are held and where the soldiers stood to cheer the King after the Coronation.  There was just time for a bit of a sit down and a visit to the loo before the garden tour.
By the way - no loos before the tour of the Palace but the loos to the side of the lawn were top notch and pretty much just big enough so very little queueing despite being busy.  Hats off to whoever organised that!

The Garden tour was guided and I, personally, found it a bit disappointing.  It was interesting but not really gardeny enough, more Royal Family-ish, if that makes sense.  To be fair, at heart it is a family garden really.

Again, no photos allowed until the official bit had ended so these were taken just before leaving when we popped back to the loo and to the shop.  I got the fridge magnet I wanted to add to my collection to remember these trips by but the prices were very, very high so I wasn't tempted by anything else.

Here's the other photos.

We all piled back in the coach to head to Covent Garden.  To be honest, I would have been glad to miss this and head straight off home again as my back hurt and I was tired but Covent Garden was lovely and I'm glad we had a short time there.

There were all sorts of little crafty stalls and I was sorely tempted.  This one was delightful - all these flowers have been crocheted, really fine work, beautifully done.  The young lady in charge of the stall told us that she's part of a small group that makes the flowers and they work partly from patterns and partly 'as it goes'.
Here's a close up.  Can you see the beautiful stitching?
A stone set into the pavement that brought a lump to my throat.
There were street performers - these were amazingly good.

I filmed a short clip of them but I don't know how it's come out yet - I might add it in later if it is OK or post it separately, maybe.
And there were signs that made me laugh.

Covent Garden was lovely - a great vibe.  It was crowded though and we clutched our handbags close!

The coach had dropped us off very close to the Theatre Royal - Nor Drury Lane itself but the next road along and, nestled cosily beside the most imposing theatre entrance was a tiny little opening, looking very fresh and green with pots of flowers and trees and a small outdoor eating area, leading into a surprisingly large inside.  Jamie Oliver, it was called.
We wandered over and the staff were all so friendly, showed us around a bit, let us have a little nosey in (it wasn't going to be very busy at that time so we didn't feel guilty) and they were obvious very proud of the place.  It was great and, to be honest, we wished we had the time to stop and eat.  For London, in the heart of theatreland, the prices were good, the menu not imposing or pretentious and I have seen some very good reviews of it.  Maybe another time, eh?

See how pretty it all looks.  It stood out, not because of grandeur or poshness but for the fresh green naturalness.  Well done, Jamie.

Then it was all back on the coach, stop-start all the way out of London and home sweet home.  I was absolutely shattered but it was a lovely day and my back is recovering now!!!

Would I go again?  Maybe, sometimes.  There are other tours of the Palace available and yesterday didn't include the balcony, sadly.  But not this year!  :-)

Wednesday 17 July 2024

Wednesday evening, 17-07-24

Evening, everyone!  What a lovely day it has been today.  Warm and sunny - just what summer should be about.  

It's been a bit of a busy day but small-busy, not mega-busy.  I popped into school twice (because I forgot something the first time), I dropped some knitted scarves off at the Sally Army point, I picked up my meds from Morrisons, had personal training and caught up a bit with some of the housework.

I've got a few 'first' photos for you today.

The first confused dahlia (doesn't know if it is pink or white) . . .
. . . the first Japanese anemone and . . .
. . . the first tomatoes to colour.  They're honeycomb so orange.  Closer to being ripe than one might think.

I love first things in the garden.

It's supposed to be another lovely day tomorrow which I'm glad about because it is Buckingham Palace Day.  Coach into London, a tour of Buckingham Palace (the open bits anyway) and the Gardens, a pick up and drop off at Covent Garden for a few hours before coming back again (through the rush hour but not to worry - I'm not driving!).
It's nice not to have to make sure I have rain stuff, a spare pair of shoes and socks in case the ones I am wearing get wet . . . all that stuff.

Well, I will love you and leave you because I need to water that plants before I can start relaxing. 
There may not be a blog tomorrow but I will take photos when I am allowed (so not in the palace itself) and do a visit post on Friday.

Night, everyone.  xx

Tuesday 16 July 2024

Tuesday evening, 16-07-24

Evening, everyone!  Goodness, it has been a busy day today.

Chris and I walked down to Groove, did the class and walked back again.
After breakfast, I drove into town to drop off my blood pressure readings and arrange a date for my blood test.
On the way home, I stopped off at Hobbycraft (ooops) and then at Aldi to get biscuits for this evening.
After lunch, I went into school for my SEND Governor meeting with the SENDCO.
Then I came home, got paperwork on my laptop and read through it all.
Then back into school, first to have a nosey round as it was Open Evening and, finally, for the last Governors' meeting of the school year.

I think I will sleep well.

In garden news, some of my tomatoes are starting to colour.  Exciting!

I hope your day has been good too.
Sleep well.  xx

Monday 15 July 2024

Monday evening, 15-07-24

And here we are, pretty much half way through July already.  Good evening, all!

After a lovely trip yesterday, I went to bed and slept like a log.  Come the middle of the night (around 2:00 am) my mailbox and phone were hit by a small avalanche of messages, first from Deliveroo telling me I had added an address to my account, was it me? followed by a second message telling me the same thing (different address) followed by a message from Barclay asking me to verify a second Deliveroo purchase as mine - which I didn't see as I was fast asleep.  Then a message saying the second transaction had been declined as I didn't verify it . .  then Deliveroo . . .
Oh, you get the idea!

So, yes, someone had hacked into my Deliveroo account (which I hardly ever use) and fed themselves at my expense.  Probably a test run, the second attempt failed and there were no more.
I let them (Deliveroo) know the addresses weren't mine, changed my password, deleted the two addresses and then decided I may as well close my account seeing as I didn't use it.  So I did.  Goodbye Deliveroo.
Then I contacted Barclays fraud department and I have to say they were fantastic.  Really, really helpful. I know people knock Barclays but I've never had bad service from them.  My card was stopped/blocked, whatever the word is, a new card is coming within seven days and if the first payment goes through, she told me what to do to claim it back .  Now, that's a bit of a pain as I'm out at Buckingham Palace on Thursday and most of these places are cashless nowadays.  However, the details of my new card are on my Barclays app and I decided to be very brave and modern after a quick chat to Lindsey's husband, Rob (I was at circuits), and download the Google Pay app which I've never used before.
To test it, I went to Morisons and bought a small item that I knew I had the cash for and it worked!!  I think the checkout lady thought I was bonkers when I cheered but we had a laugh about it when I explained.  Woo hoo.
Of course the card will come tomorrow or Wednesday now but never mind, a bit of progress is a good thing.  Ain't tech great!

So that was today's mini drama and I don't like that sort of drama.  I will be keeping a very close eye on my account for the next few days but the card is dead so it should be OK.  Phew.

After all that, circuits was great, the sun was shining, I got two loads of washing done and dried before the rain came along and ironed it in the afternoon.  No housework apart from that.  I was still feeling a bit weary but I can do it tomorrow now I don't have to go into town to the bank to persuade them to let me have some of my money!  :-)

To lighten things up, a bit of a garden update . . .

The beans are starting to flower - these runners will have white flowers.  Cheers!

I picked a few blueberries today - very sweet.
So many tomatoes coming on.   I'm keeping a sharp eye out for blight.
Another cucumber to pick but I don't need it yet.
Come on, Japanese anemone.  buds.  Open up!
I wondered if this was in the wrong place.  It's quite hidden until you get close up.   
I noticed in the gardens yesterday that this seems to be a planting strategy so maybe I was just being clever!

And more flowering beans - dwarf ones this time.

Have a great evening and a good sleep.  Sweet dreams!  xx

Highclere Castle

Yesterday, I spend most of the day at Highclere Castle organised by Broomfield Coach Trips  We were so lucky with the weather.  While not exactly sunny as you will see from the photos, it was dry and not chilly.  In fact, when the sun did come out for a few moments, it felt really quite warm.

It was the longest distance I've done with Broomfield Coach Trips and, while they don't usually, this time they had factored in a stop off at Reading services on the way.  It was good to stretch my legs and visit the loo; I think all of us appreciated this given the rush for the loos!!

Anyway - Highclere.
A bit of history first.
There have been communities in this area since prehistoric times as evidenced by remains of encampments and burials at Seven Barrows and Beacon Hill.
In 749CE/AD, King Cuthred of Wessex granted an estate to the Bishops of Winchester who continued to own it until the reformation.
Successive bishops built substantial administrative buildings on the site including a large medieval ha;;, a chapel, domestic buildings and living quarters.

Fast forward to 1692 when Sir Robert Sawyer bequeathed the house and estate to his daughter, Margaret.  She married the 8th Earl of Pembroke, thus bringing Highclere into the Herbert family who became the Earls of Carnarvon in due course.

At this time, Highclere Place House was a double fronted Elizabethan brick mansion with a courtyard, stables, garden and orchards.  It mush have been lovely.
The building was remodelled in the Victorian period at the instigation of the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, finally completed in 1878 by the 4th earl.
It's been used for several different purposes - it was a centre for political life, a hospital during the Great War, a home for evacuated children in WWII and, of course, the home for a well loved TV series, while the present Earl (the 8th) now lives partly in the castle and partly 'next door' (says the guide book)

Such a Camelot looking building just has to be Victorian, doesn't it.

Sir Charles Barry, who did most of the designing and 'project managing' also built the Houses of Parliament and you really can see similarities in style, I think.

I wasn't allowed to take any photos inside the house, sadly, but it seemed very well organised.  We were greeted in the entrance hall by a butler-like character who gave us a general introduction to how the visit would work and a few titbits of Downton knowledge before we were encouraged to go round the one way, directed route.
Each of the 'important' rooms had an official person, clearly identifiable, who was more than happy to talk and explain while there were also info cards and boards with Downton photos and character quotes made in the room.  It wasn't crowded and everyone was able to go round at their own pace, no hustling along at all.  I had bought a guide book which is actually quite good with history interspersed with info about the 'treasures'.

It's a pleasant enough house, nothing to elevate it to a more special place than any other well kept stately home, except for the link with Downton.

Apparently, there has been some recent filming with more to come and there were some clues - for example, the two portraits of the current Earl and Countess have been moved and replaced with older ones. 
And this doorway, a very old, stone built affair, is actually made of wood.  We were encouraged to go up and tap on it to make sure.  It looked so real, even quite close up!

Anyway, that was the house.  I was dying for coffee by then and more than a little peckish so I went on a eatery hunt.  There were three or four places dotted about.  This was the one I used, in the stables although I sat outside under an awning.

This was the view I got of the castle from where I was sitting.  There was more of a view but I've cut out other people.

Then I explored the gardens and grounds.  Absolutely gorgeous, just the sort of garden I love.  Lots of really old walls  with some well tended beds and wider ramble-y sort of areas as well as the fields beyond.

I'll add some photos below without further comment.

There was just time for a leisurely ice cream and a visit to the loo before strolling gently back to the coach and setting off.
But one more photo . . .  

I wasn't sure how this would come out because it was very snatched through the glass as we drove past but it's clear enough to get the idea.  An old, damaged tree carved into a Green Man.

If you want to know more, this link takes you to the story from the artist himself with much better photos.  Do take a look.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I nodded off several times on the way home and slept really well overnight.

And, as a closing paragraph, I have treated myself to the Downton boxed set and am looking forward to watching it from the start and recognising the setting.
I'm not sure I would go back from here because of the distance but if I lived close by I would be wanting to enjoy those gardens through the year.  They were stunning.
A most enjoyable day.

Saturday 13 July 2024

Saturday evening, 13-07-24

Evening, all.

I noticed this today.

I had a very battered old planter that contained some self-seeded fern.  It was really attractive.
I needed to replant it into a different pot and, at first, the fern started to die off, going completely brown (as you can see).  
However, I glanced at it today and - can you see? - there's three new fern shoots coming up.  I'm so pleased.

Not the clearest photo in the world but this is how the yarn is knitting up.  I do like it.

I went out and about a couple of times, cooked meals and generally kept myself busy most of the day,

I just have to finish getting my jolly bag packed and that's me ready for tomorrow.  

As usual after a coach trip, I'm not sure if there will be a post tomorrow evening.  If not, I will be back on Monday.

I'm almost falling asleep now so I will get this posted now and then work on staying awake for another hour.  Sleep tight, everyone!  xx