Friday 26 June 2020

Happy birthday me! 26/6/20

This is taken from my Facebook page.

Today is my birthday. Thank you all for your good wishes. Looking back on my Facebook memories of this day many of them revolve around either eating out at some nice restaurant or being with family members. Not today.

Today I'm spending a lazy day at home, just with hubby who brought me breakfast in bed and has just cooked my lunch, washed down with some wine. We have cake to eat later.

This will be a lengthy post as I know it will pop up in my feed again next year and will serve as a good reminder that we're still dealing with Covid-19. We've spent months now under restrictions that have driven us all mad at times. Staying at home, keeping safe, protecting the NHS. Not seeing our families, or friends. We've managed to get our shopping delivered and got our daily exercise nearly every day and Nick and I are still talking to each other!

We've watched the horrors of the ICUs when things were at their peak and remain grateful that those we know who were working on the frontline (Sarah & Coralie) have remained safe and well. We clapped especially for them on the Thursday nights.

Now we're moving through the "Staying Alert" phase to what feels like a "Use Your Common Sense" phase. Sadly many people don't seem to have much common sense as recent news reports show crowded beaches, massive gatherings and, in our local area, forest fires due to the stupidity of people holding BBQs on tinder dry open spaces.

We're still a long way off getting a vaccine, or a reliable antibody test and as for track and trace well good luck with tracing anyone from the beach or mass gatherings with no reliable phone app in place. It would be interesting to know how many parents with kids on the beaches would try and justify how being there was safer than sending their kids to school.

Yes I understand that we need to get the economy moving again and restoring some sort of normality to our lives but it feels like we are rushing into this next phase and I wonder how long before we pay the price? How long before the mothballed Nightingale Hospital down in Docklands needs to be reopened or how long before the temporary morgue near us is dismantled and removed because it's no longer needed?

I know that the reality is that, until a vaccine is available or reliable treatments found, we are going to have to live our lives knowing that Covid-19 is still out there and many of us who are either older or more vulnerable need to continue to be cautious and try our best to avoid getting it.

That's why today, I'm glad to be safe and well, have a roof over my head and money to put food on the table and that my nearest & dearest can say the same.

Happy birthday me!

Friday's Fave Five - 26/6/20

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story.

The idea is to step back and think about the good things from the previous week and list your favourite five.  Then pop over to Susanne's blog and join up with the other people taking part.

Well it's been quite a tough week in some ways but all the more reason to sit back and look for the positives!

1)  It's my birthday!  I've survived another year phew!  And look at the lovely afternoon tea that was delivered yesterday from my daughter and her family.

We managed to polish off the savouries and the scones but there was still cake left for today.

2)  We saw Nathan & Rory this week and hopefully it won't be too long before we can see Noah now that restrictions are being relaxed gradually.

3)  We have emptied our loft.  (Apart from a few Christmas boxes/tree etc)  Most of the stuff we emptied belongs to our two eldest kids.  The boxes are headed to our youngest son's garage soon.  They are not coming to our new house!

4)  Birds at my feeding station.  I spent quite a while this morning just watching them from the shade of the patio.  Plus the bees on my lavender.  Not a great photo and I have got a video of them fighting over the food but Blogger won't upload it!

5)  My hubby.  He's my rock.

Well I am just having a really lazy day today.  Not going to be moving or packing any boxes.  Hubby brought me breakfast in bed and now he's cooking lunch.  We'll have tea and cake later and then probably go for our usual walk.  Had a nice long chat with my eldest son and family earlier.  He's currently got 5 stitches in his foot from a mishap yesterday involving a concrete slab but thankfully no broken bones.  Just wish they were nearer to us particularly as he'll struggle to walk his greyhounds while his foot is so sore.  But things could be so much worse.  All my kids still have jobs, homes and food on the table as do we.  We'll be celebrating a lot of birthdays properly when things are easier.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday 25 June 2020

Review - The Dilemma - B A Paris

The Dilemma

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

I read this in just over a day. I found it to be a real page turner. There were no really clever twists but I kept going because I wanted to see who was going to reveal their secret first and how the scenario would unfold.

View all my reviews

Review - Sycamore Gap - L J Ross (DCI Ryan Mysteries #2)

Sycamore Gap (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #2)Sycamore Gap by L.J. Ross (DCI Ryan Mysteries #2)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan's job to piece together her past.

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian's Wall country in Northumberland.

Another good crime thriller. I'm liking this series.

View all my reviews

Sunday 21 June 2020

20 in 20 - May Update

Well we're nearly into July and I realised I haven't done a May update yet!  That's what happens when you've spent so much time in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and everyday feels like groundhog day!  But yes life does go on so here goes:

1. Fill out weekly/daily planner
I'm still doing this and it does help to keep organised and focussed.

2. Garden projects: Get window boxes for front garden plus big planters. Stepping stones for rear garden.
Well we're keeping the grass cut and doing bits and pieces but now we hope we'll be moving there will be no more projects here.  As for the garden at the house we're hoping to buy - there will  be a lot of projects!

3. Plan a lunch date/date night with Nick once a month (theatre/cinema/meal/outing)
I think I need to think outside the box for this one!

4. Eat at 6 new-to-me restaurants
With restaurants closed this might not get completed any time soon.  
There are plans to try and reopen them to some degree in July but we won't be rushing anywhere until things settle down a bit more.

5. Complete the A – Z blogging challenge


6. Plan Family weekend for my birthday
Given up on making any plans right now although my daughter might come for a picnic this week.


7. Take up an exercise class
Well I might if I could!  Yes I know you're probably all shouting "what about all the online ones?"  but I really can't find the motivation right now.(Yep no change from my March update.)

8. Plan a road trip/holiday with hubby.
Hopefully one day!

9. Visit the beach
At some point!

10. Complete my reading challenge (52 books for the year)
I managed to read 9 books in May so I'm still on track for this and quite a few of those were from my TBR pile.  I did also get a few for my Kindle app. Full details can be found on my Goodreads page here.

11. Keep a gratitude diary
March April May was not a good month for this.  Improvement needed.

12. Blog at least once per week (plus regular memes)
I managed 28 posts May although a lot of those were either regular memes or book reviews.  There were a few original posts so not bad overall.

13. Take a photo each week and blog about it.
Going to plan although the commentary is sometimes short and sweet.

14. Read 12 books on my TBR pile.  

I read 6 books from my TBR pile during May bringing my running total to 11.  Only 1 to go! 

15. Finish knitting WIP (blanket of squares)
Still not finished the WIP but 2 blankets finished for the Grandkids on the way - 1 more to go.

16. Try out a new recipe or do a bake each month 

Well I'm going to  stretch this one a bit.  We are still having HelloFresh deliveries and also Simply Cook from time to time and many of those are new recipes to us.

17. Visit/see Noah every month
We haven't seen him since 29th February so this target definitely won't be met this year.  

18. Get damp treatment done in house
At this point in time our house still has a buyer and they are aware that damp treatment is needed.  We reduced our price to reflect that. 

19. Maintain weight
Fluctauated during the month but no overall gain.

20. Be kind to myself. Whilst I think it's good to set myself challenges sometimes life gets in the way or I just have days where I really can't be bothered. I need to accept this and not be hard on myself when things don't go to plan.
Ha "sometimes life gets in the way"  little did I know!

Well 50%  ✅ in May.  It was still a difficult month thanks to Covid-19.  At the time of writing things have been eased a bit but we are still being very cautious, particularly with pregnant DILs to consider.  We have seen 2 of the Grandkids though and it looks as though we will be moving at some point so lots to get my head around with that but definitely feeling more positive.

20 in 20 - Weekly Photo #25 - 21/6/20

As mentioned yesterday, we've started emptying out our loft!  It might take us a while lol.

20 in 20 - Weekly Photo #24 - 14/6/20

Spotted this latest grafitti on one of our evening walks.  The NHS heart has been there a while but the other one is new.

Review - The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Start here.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.


It's a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.


What a great book! Interesting narrative and so well written. Different to read about WW2 from a German perspective too.

View all my reviews

Saturday 20 June 2020

Friday's Fave Five (on Saturday 20/6/20)

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story.

The idea is to step back and think about the good things from the previous week and list your favourite five.  Then pop over to Susanne's blog and join up with the other people taking part.

Well I'm a day late AGAIN! But things are getting hectic around here:

1)  We found a house!  We saw the house on Saturday and we both really liked it.

2)  Our offer on the house, which we made on Monday, was accepted the same day!  The vendors have already exchanged contracts on a house so our chain is now complete.  And we all breathed a sigh of relief.  Of course we still have to get surveys done and searches etc but hopefully there will be no major glitches with any of that and the solicitors can just get on and do their thing.

3)  We visited Grandson Rory and his parents and took a walk in the park.  He was so excited to see us.  It was lovely to have time with him (and some cuddles).

Apparently he's fascinated by the hoover!

4)  Things are gradually easing here - non essential shops were able to open this week as long as they can maintain safety and social distancing etc.  Our numbers are still coming down but I do worry that the events of the last couple of weeks will cause a spike in cases.  Time will tell.  I personally won't be rushing to go shopping.  I want to continue seeing the Grandkids and families without risking their health, or ours.  I just wish we could visit Noah some time soon.

5)  Quite a few phone calls this week catching up with people, especially a long chat with my cousin, who's more like a sister to me.

Knowing that, all being well, we will be moving house at some point has made me feel a lot better this week.  I feel like I have a purpose again - getting ready to move!  There is a lot of decluttering still to be done and of course lots of arrangements to be made nearer the time.  We also have to get our kids to sort out what they left behind - we have a lot of their boxes in the loft.  We made a start on that today by bringing some of the boxes down.  It's going to take a while - long story short hubby is having to decant the contents into bags to hand down to me which I then put back into the empty boxes he then passes down. (Yes it would be easier if the kids could come and help but.....Covid-19!)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend all.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 17/6/20

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at
From this side of the pond 

If you want to take part or just see what others have posted pop over to Joyce's page - the Linky List is at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

1. Saturday marks the first official day of summer! Whoohoo! Your favorite thing about the season?
Longer days.

2. Love it!, labor of love, not for love or money, no love lost, love handles, love does, love-hate relationship, misery loves company, tough love, love will find a way...pick one and tell us how it applies to your life right now.
Love it!  We've found a house to buy.  Just got to keep our fingers crossed now that all goes smoothly with the purchase and the sale of our house.

3. What's one thing currently causing you to seethe? One thing currently making you smile?
The thing making me seethe is anyone not being sensible about social distancing and following the government guidance.  I know we're all fed up with this situation but the thought of a second peak and going back to stricter lockdown rules for the sake of staying sensible makes me really cross.
Seeing my Grandbabies (I've seen 2 of them in person this last week) always makes me smile!

Rory with one of his favourite toys.

Nathan studying his caterpillars - they're growing butterflies!

And with Noah we're having to make do with photos and videos:

Noah is not too impressed with home working though.  (Actually none of them are! lol)

4. Of the following to-dos found on a summer checklist (here) which three would definitely make your personal list of summer want-to-dos?

roast marshmallows over a fire, go berry or peach picking, dangle your feet off the end of a dock, sit on a porch swing, watch the sunset from a beach, nap in a hammock, go barefoot in the grass, collect seashells, play tennis, go fishing, build a sandcastle, catch fireflies, eat a soft serve ice cream cone, make a pitcher of Sangria, swim in a lake, stargaze, ride a bike, paddle a canoe or kayak, make a summer road trip, throw a frisbee

My 3 are: watch the sunset from a beach, nap in a hammock and stargaze

Do you make an actual list? Nope!

5. Thursday is National Splurge Day. What might you splurge on in order to celebrate?
Not splurging on anything at the moment but if we succeed in our move to a new house there will be lots of splurging.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Having found a house I'm feeling much more positive this week.  At last I know which direction we're going in so I can get to work on my moving "to do" list which as you can imagine is quite long!

Monday 15 June 2020

#WDIIA - Monday 15th June 2020

#WDIIA - it's the day we bought a house!  Well we've started the ball rolling.  We saw the house on Saturday, liked it, put an offer in earlier today and by the end of the day it had been accepted. 

Now the fun begins.  Lots of paperwork to be completed, surveyors and solicitors to instruct and removal men to find.

Oh and just the small task of packing up the belongings etc we've accumulated over the last 20+ years.

Whose idea was this?  Oh yeah, it was mine.  What was I thinking lol.

#WDIIA - What day is it anyway? was started by Linda - the host of #SoCS and One Liner Wednesday. You can find her posts here.

Sunday 14 June 2020

20 in 20 - Weekly Photo #23 - 7/6/20

Well technically I'm a day late posting but the photo was taken yesterday so in time! (My challenge my interpretation of rules lol.)

Grandson Rory - he loved going to the park with us yesterday and watching the bubbles blowing in the wind!  (Almost as much as he loves his new t-shirt with diggers on.)


Saturday 13 June 2020

Friday's Fave Five - 12/6/20

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story.

The idea is to step back and think about the good things from the previous week and list your favourite five.  Then pop over to Susanne's blog and join up with the other people taking part.

Well I'm a day late again this week but yesterday I was just too tired to get a post done but here are my five for the week.

1)  We're house hunting again!  Our buyers are still good to go so now we just have to find a house we like and get an offer accepted.

2)  Our 36th Wedding Anniversary last Tuesday.  So happy to have passed another milestone.  I couldn't have got through these last few months without hubby's support (and cooking!).  Hopefully we'll be able to dine out to celebrate properly at some point in time.  (So many celebrations to catch up on!)
We weren't even together on the day because....

3)  Time with Grandson Nathan and his Mummies.  I was there for 3 nights this week which is not actually allowed right now but when you get a call from your daughter asking for help, what's a Mum to do?  You answer the call and spend a few days trying to help them and of course having time with Nathan.  We have all been very isolated during this whole lockdown - our shopping has been delivered or we've done a click and collect where there is no contact with anyone.  We've only been out to go for walks and socially distanced the whole time so we all know we pose very little risk to each other.  It's so hard because I think we're all beginning to feel the effects on our mental health after all this time.

4)  Another family quiz on Zoom last Saturday.  Great fun but hubby and I didn't do very well.  It was a shame as our niece had put a lot of effort in but the music round didn't play at all well over the connection so we all had to skip that round.

5)  Several long phone calls to friends and family members.  Again these are a lifeline when we're spending so much time at home.

So that sums up my week.  I feel like I've been AWOL from my blog - I did have my laptop with me at my daughter's house but by the evening I was just too tired to even look at it.  I did catch up with some blog reading yesterday though.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday 5 June 2020

Friday's Fave Five - 5/6/20

Friday's Fave Five is hosted by Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story.

The idea is to step back and think about the good things from the previous week and list your favourite five.  Then pop over to Susanne's blog and join up with the other people taking part.

I've had a rather lazy, unproductive week.  We're still in limbo with our house move so that is not helping with my motivation but there were still some good things going on:

1)  A nice delivery from my online book group organiser (I won a competition)

2)  A visit to Grandson Rory and his Mummy & Daddy on his birthday.  We stayed outside their flat in the communal garden but they had the window wide open and we could see in and chat to them all.  We'd decided that was better than trying to socially distance in the garden with Rory.  He wouldn't have understood.  He was very pleased to see us but was ok with being separated by the window. 

3)  Lots of reading time. 

4)  2 of my DILs had scans this week and the babies are all fine.  We now know the sex of 2 of them, the others want a surprise but no reveals here.  You'll just have to wait until they arrive!

5)  Our Government has slightly relaxed lock down rules - we can now meet in groups of up to 6 people outside and socially distanced.  More shops are also due to open in a couple of weeks but only if social distancing can be maintained.

Of course that's a good thing but the situation is still tricky.  Schools have also been allowed to reopen for certain year groups but many have chosen to stay closed as they're not sure it's safe to open yet.  Our death rate is reducing but very slowly, as are the numbers of infections.  It's very hard as there have been lots of examples of larger groups flouting the rules.  There have been a number of BBQs held on the common by our house which is also a fire risk given the lovely warm weather we've had.  Thankfully there has been a change in the weather the last couple of days bringing rain and lower temperatures.  Hopefully that will reduce the number of larger gatherings.  I'm not sure what effect it will have on the protests planned following the events in the US.  There have already been a number of protests which although more peaceful than in the states it has still meant large groups of people which will not help to stop the virus spreading.

We are still being very cautious and just doing our daily walks.  We've managed to get shopping deliveries each week (or a click and collect) which has meant us being able to avoid going into shops. 

Tomorrow we have another family quiz via Zoom to look forward to.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday 4 June 2020

20 in 20 - Weekly Photo #22 - 31/5/20

This is the latest jigsaw I've decided to attempt.  It may defeat me!  It's called "The Edge" because EVERY piece has a flat side.  Some of it will be easier than others.  You can't see the skyline in the picture but it looked quite narrow so I thought starting with that might be easy as it looked like there might only be a row or two of plain blue sky.  I was wrong.  There are about 4 rows of plain blue sky.  It's really hard to judge if the pieces are fitting together correctly.  I don't think I'll be finishing this one any time soon.


Wednesday 3 June 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 3/6/20

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at
From this side of the pond 

If you want to take part or just see what others have posted pop over to Joyce's page - the Linky List is at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

1. What's something you could do today to feel more peaceful?
I'm going to start a new jigsaw which will take my mind off things.  The news is just so depressing right now.

2. June 2nd is National Rotisserie Chicken day. Who knew? Are you a fan of rotisserie chicken? You've purchased one at your local market for tonite's dinner. Will you serve as is or make something else using the chicken?
Well I didn't know and even if I did we probably wouldn't have it.  Fish is on the menu today.

3. I read a list recently (go here to read more) of 20 of the most beautiful places in America. How many of these have you seen up close and in person? Of the sites on this list that you haven't seen, which would you most like to see?

Antelope Canyon Arizona, Kenai Fjords Alaska, White Mountains New Hampshire, Crater Lake Oregon, The Palouse Washington and Idaho, Grand Prismatic Spring Wyoming, Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Horsehoe Bend Arizona, Na Pali Coast Kauai Hawaii, Antelope Valley California, Lake Tahoe California, The Berkshires Massachussets, Maroon Bells Colorado, Angel Oak South Carolina, Acadia National Park Maine, Grand Teton National Park Wyoming, Turnip Rock Michigan, Central Park New York City, Niagara Falls New York, and Skagit Valley Tulip Fields Washington

I have only seen Central Park.  I'm sure many of those places would be worth a visit.  Maybe we'd make Niagara Falls if we ever get to do another trip across the pond.  That's not going to be any time soon though.

4. What's one pretty spot you'd add to the list in question #3? Are there travel plans of any kind on your calendar right now? Does that make you happy, anxious, excited, sad, or relieved?
Oh there are too many to choose from but right now I'd like a quiet beach (or lakeside) that's unspoilt.  There are no travel plans in our diary for the forseeable future which is sad because that includes no visits to Grandson Noah.

5. Tell us one un-COVID related thing you're looking forward to in the month of June.
My birthday!  Although of course it will have to take COVID into account :(

6. Insert your own random thought here.
We managed a socially distanced visit to Grandson Rory on Monday - restrictions are easing slowly here.  Great timing as it was his birthday.  No great photos though as we had the sun behind us in the garden and they were inside the flat so the lighting was all wrong.  My DIL took these though:

Hopefully he'll be as gentle with his baby sibling when the time comes. 
(And not dangling it by the feet as he was doing later!)

Rory was really excited and pleased to see us and mostly he was happy with us being outside and him not.