Saturday 27 February 2021

Friday's Fave Five (on Saturday!) - 26/2/21


Well I'm late joining in this week but thanks to Susanne for keeping us reminded each week to look back and find things to be grateful for.  Her site is here.

These are my 5 faves of the week:

1) Walks with Rory & Vinny - now that the weather has been better and Covid case numbers are dropping we decided it was ok to go for a walk outdoors with them.  We hadn't seen them in person for ages so it was lovely to see them.  On Saturday we went to their nearby park and Rory had a good runaround.  On Wednesday I took Ella and my DIL over to walk with them.  It was the first time the two babies (Ella & Vinny) had been together since they were born although Ella slept through it all. 


The only downside was that Rory got really upset when it was time for us to leave.

His Mummy found a way to console him though:

2)  Nathan started nursery

Thanks to Covid his Mummies had put off taking him into a nursery setting but now numbers are dropping they decided the benefits outweigh the risks and on Wednesday he went to a new nursery for the first time.  He seems to like it but of course it is a big adjustment when he's been home with both Mummies for quite a long time now.

3)  A walk down to the lake through the forest path.  It was still quite muddy and I was glad of my wellies but it's the first time we've done that for a while as it's been so wet.  We even saw some mandarin ducks for the first time.

4)  Sunshine.  The weather has definitely improved this week although it's still fairly chilly but the blue skies and sunshine have definitely lifted my mood.

5)  Covid roadmap & vaccination booked. This week our PM outlined what they are calling the roadmap out of our current Covid lockdown situation.  It's a cautious and gradual approach which, if all goes well, will see all restrictions lifted by the end of June.  Numbers are falling in terms of new cases reported, people in hospital and deaths but they are still high.  Hopefully this cautious approach will mean we can keep moving forward and won't have restrictions reimposed at some point.  I think many people are fed up with being locked down and I'm not sure compliance would be high if another full lockdown was required in the future.

Fortunately the vaccination programme here continues to go well so that should help to keep deaths and hospitalisations down.  I have my first vaccine booked for Monday.  Hopefully this isn't another mistake and it will happen.  Watch this space! 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #8 - w/c 22/2/21

We ventured out on the woodland path and down to the lake yesterday.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and not too cold.  The paths are still quite muddy - wellies required - but not as bad as they were.

We were rewarded by the sight of these unusual looking birds. A google search revealed they are mandarin ducks.  The colourful one is the male and that's a female in the last picture.

Monday 22 February 2021

Book Review - The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands - but does she plan to save or destroy them?

I'm on the fence with this book. It took me a while to get into it. In fact I wasn't sure early on that I wanted to continue with it but I persevered. Thankfully it got better and gradually drew me in. It's quite an intense book and the author clearly had researched the time period well. Was it believeable? Yes and no. Some parts of the story refer to the supernatural and everyone will have their own view as to whether these could be fact or fiction and therefore credible. With regard to the actions of the characters and their reactions to events, I found some of this was a real stretch of the imagination. A lot was expected of an innocent 18 year old bride, plucked from her upbringing in a family living in the countryside to marry a wealthy trader, living in the city of Amsterdam. 

Overall this is not an easy book to read but I do feel satisfied that I've finally read it as it's been languishing on my TBR pile for some time.

View all my reviews

Friday 19 February 2021

Friday's Fave Five - 19/2/21


Well I'm here this week.  I missed last week.  I was feeling quite fed up and demotivated.  This 3rd lockdown we're in is definitely taking its toll and of course not just on me.  I think we're all wishing it would end but knowing that we need to be careful how we come out of it so that we don't end up facing another lockdown later on.

I found myself not having much to say so not posting and not even really doing much commenting either, although I did read a lot of blogs.  But thankfully Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story  reminds us each week to stop and think about the good things in our lives and so here we go:

1)  Today I'm thankful that I'm alive and well as are my immediate and extended family.  I heard this week of a blogging friend's loss of her husband.  He had been admitted to hospital with Covid but initially seemed to be doing ok.  Then on Wednesday she posted that he had passed away on Tuesday which was a shock to me so I can only imagine how she feels.  It certainly put things in perspective.

2)  The snow has gone!  The snow last week made getting out for walks difficult and it was really cold.  Yes I know it's winter and we should expect cold weather but this was worse that we usually get - our local lake froze over!

3) Our car made it through its annual service ok.  We needed a new bulb in one of the headlights but apart from that all was ok.  I'm also thankful that although I'm the main driver of the car, Hubby takes it down to the garage and cycles home and then does the reverse when the car is ready to collect.  The bus that stops near our house goes past the garage but who wants to travel on public transport right now?

4)  2 Zoom calls this week, one with my cousins and the other with hubby's siblings.  It's good to catch up and, especially with my cousins, there is laughter:

We discovered how to add things to our pictures and, eventually, how to remove them!

5)  We spent our usual 2 days at our daughter's this week and on Thursday I managed to get some 1:1 time with Nathan including cuddles.  Usually he is totally besotted with his Grandpa and I'm either helping with baby Ella or doing chores so it was nice to be able to sit and be silly with Nathan for a bit.

So apart from the sad news above this was a better week for me, although my decision to give up chocolate for lent didn't go well.  Looking after the grandkids is tiring work and sometimes you just need something sweet!  I'd munched through a small packet of chocolate buttons before it even occurred to me that I shouldn't!  Oh well.  Maybe cutting down is a more realistic target for me.

Have a good weekend all.

21 in 21 - Weekly photo #7 - w/c 15/2/21

What a difference a week makes.

I took these last week when we'd had snow - our local lake had frozen.  We had several days of very low temperatures.

It was lovely to get down there on a sunny day though.

This was taken today.  It's been grey and miserable all day but the rain held off for me to walk.  You can just see the lake in the distance, no longer frozen.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 17/2/21

I'm taking part in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, kindly hosted by Joyce at From this side of the Pond

Joyce provides the questions each week and we share our answers.  Pop over to her site to see who else is joining in the fun. 

1. This week's Hodgepodge lands on Ash Wednesday which signals the beginning of Lent. Do you mark this season in some way? If so tell us more. Did you grow up 'celebrating' Lent? Is attending church part of your weekly routine? Are churches open for in-person worship where you live? 

I didn't grow up "celebrating" Lent but over the years I have observed it quite a lot.  We don't always make a thing of pancake day, but we did have pancakes at my daughter's house on Tuesday.  I usually try to be good and give something up during Lent but I'm not that great at sticking to it.  I used to attend church regularly but not so much the last few years and at the moment churches can open for communal worship but there are strict guidelines to be followed about social distancing/Covid safety and many are still streaming their services.

2. When is the last time you sat beside a 'real' fire? Do you have a fireplace in your home? Wood or gas logs? Favorite thing cooked over a fire? 
I can't remember when I last sat by a real fire.  Probably when we spent Christmas in France - my SIL has an open fireplace but that was quite a few years ago now.  We used to have a camp fire when we went on our family camp but it's been about 6 years since we did that.  We do have a fireplace in our house but it has an artificial fire in it.  
Marshmallows over the camp fire were a favourite.

3. Something that's currently got you fired up? 
The continuation of our national lockdown and the way our Government has handled certain aspects of this pandemic but the lockdown has also got me damped down.  It truly feels like groundhog day here.

4. February also happens to be National Cabbage Day. Who knew? Do you like cabbage? Is cabbage on your menu Wednesday? Of the following cabbage dishes which is your favorite-coleslaw (mayo or vinegar?), sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, cabbage soup, kielbasa and cabbage, grilled cabbage, bubble and squeak, kimchi, or haluski? 
I don't love cabbage but I don't hate it.  I wouldn't generally choose it as part of a meal but if it's on my plate I will eat it.  Coleslaw is the best use for cabbage in my book.

5. Do you hang on to pennies? What do you do with them? Last thing you purchased for $1.00? Last thing you purchased for $5.00? 
I do hang on to pennies and then eventually I get them changed up - usually at a supermarket and then I use them towards the shopping.  Of course I haven't done that for at least a year now as virtually all our shopping has been done online since this pandemic began.  The last thing I purchased for a small amount (£3.00) was the newspaper last Saturday.  Reading all of it takes a couple of days, it provides a TV guide for the week and it has a good Pub Quiz that we've been doing with the family via a Zoom call.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Despite the lockdown I'm trying to keep myself busy or at least occupied and remind myself that I'm actually very fortunate in lots of ways.  This time will pass. 

Sunday 14 February 2021

21 in 21 Weekly Photo #6 - w/c 8/2/21

Finally got around to doing this during the week:

My gorgeous grandsons Noah & Miles.

Now to get some preservative so I can mount it.

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 10/2/21

From this Side of the Pond

I'm taking part in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, kindly hosted by Joyce at From this side of the Pond

Joyce provides the questions each week and we share our answers.  Pop over to her site to see who else is joining in the fun. 

1. Something little you are loving right now? 

 This came in the post today from Grandson Noah (with a little bit of assistance from Daddy!)

2. Red roses or pink peonies? Red wine or pink lemonade? Red lipstick or pink polish? A cotton candy colored sky or a fiery red sunset? A book-movie-song you love with the word red or pink in it's title? 

Pink peonies

Red wine

Pink Polish

Cotton candy sky

Red Red Wine (UB40)  Not a particular favourite but it was a title that sprang to mind.  (Having had red wine with dinner might have slighly influenced this list!)

3. What's something you currently have your heart set on doing-going-seeing-or experiencing?

Getting the family together so that the little ones can finally meet each other.

4. Who would you most like to have a heart to heart with right now? Is that possible? 

Several people spring to mind - some are departed so it's not possible and others would only be by phone or an app so not ideal.

5. Write an acrostic for the word L-O-V-E. 

Look out for each other 

Our future is not promised but

Venture into the unknown and 

Enjoy today together

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Well not exactly an acrostic but it's all my brain was capable of at evening time.  We were at my daughter's today (a change in schedule thanks to the snow in the past couple of days) so I'm tired from running around after the 2 little ones but seeing this one enjoy her bath makes it easier.  Couldn't get a pic of her smiling though.


Saturday 6 February 2021

Friday's Fave Five (On Saturday!) 5/2/21


Well I'm a day late here and I don't really have an excuse.  But it's still good to reflect on the past week and find 5 things to be thankful for and then share them over at Susanne's blog - Living to tell the Story.

I decided to swap the snowy picture for the one above - the birds have been using our feeders a lot this week and the snow has been replaced with rain on and off.  We may get more snow tomorrow but hopefully it will miss us.  Roll on spring.

Anyway here are my 5 faves for last week:

1)  Hubby had his first Covid jab yesterday.  We had to travel back to our old area and there was quite a queue when I dropped him off but he was done and ready to be picked up in about 45 minutes so not too bad.

Hopefully he'll get his reminder ok for the 2nd dose as we've now, finally, registered with a local GP.  I'll have to wait a bit longer for mine.

2)  A zoom call with all our kids last Saturday.  We did the pub quiz from the newspaper, something we all enjoy but it can get a bit competitive lol.  They're all doing ok which is a blessing in itself but I think we're all finding this current lockdown hard.

3)  Another zoom call, this time with hubby's siblings.  We chatted for nearly 2 hours.  It's lovely but it can be hard to hear everything being said when there are 14 of you trying to get a word in edgeways lol.

4)  Some sunshine amongst the rain.  It has been quite a wet week but there were some sunny spells and a couple of lovely sunsets.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of those.

5)  Reading time.  I've had a bit of a lazy week (apart from our usual 2 days at our daughter's where I don't sit down much at all!) so I've done quite a bit of reading this week. 

So another week in lockdown survived.  It's hard but it's good being able to chat to the kids and they keep us supplied with lots of pics and videos of the kids to cheer us up.  This is one of my favourites at the moment:

Enjoy the rest of the weekend all!

21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #5 - W/c 1/2/21

We had to venture back to Stratford yesterday for Hubby's Covid vaccination (Yay!).  There was quite a queue so I went for a walk while he was waiting and snapped a couple of pics.

This is the entrance to Stratford International station.  It doesn't actually go anywhere international - at one point it was suggested the Eurostar service from St. Pancras would stop there en route for Europe but that never happened.  The title does serve to identify it as not being the original Stratford station that is the other side of the Westfield shopping centre.

This one was taken from the other end of the station looking down the pedestrian concourse that runs alongside it.

In both pictures you'll notice how quiet it is.  Normally this area would be busy with lots of people.  That's lockdown in London for you!

Thankfully it was a nice bright day and fairly warm for this time of year.  We might get snow again at the weekend.  Brrrrrr

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 3/2/21

From this Side of the Pond

I'm taking part in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, kindly hosted by Joyce at From this side of the Pond

Joyce provides the questions each week and we share our answers.  Pop over to her site to see who else is joining in the fun. 

1. Feb 2nd is Groundhog Day in the US of A. Tell us about one day you wouldn't mind living over again, and why you chose that day. 

Hard to pick just one day.  Our wedding day would be an obvious answer but also the birth days of our 3 children.

 2. Something you know beyond a 'shadow of a doubt'? 
I am fed up with being in lockdown!

3. Give us an example of history repeating itself in some way, in your own life or the lives of your children.

My middle child was the best sleeper of my 3.  He took to self soothing by sucking his middle 2 fingers.  His youngest son Miles does exactly the same!


4. Snowed under, snow job, not a snowball's chance, snowbird, on thin ice, snug as a bug in a rug, tip of the iceberg, snowball effect, run hot and cold....choose a wintry idiom and tell us how it best applies to your life right now. 
Snowed under - not with snow but just with the pressure of being locked down and with no end in sight at the moment.

5. Your favourite sign of spring? 
Spring flowers - daffodils etc.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I don't know why this lockdown (our 3rd) feels harder than the others but it definitely does.  Probably because the weather is so miserable too which makes it hard to get out for a walk.  But I am trying to be positive and am thankful that we can at least get to see our daughter and her family each week.  Also Hubby has just booked to get his first vaccine dose on Friday!