Friday 29 December 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 29/12/23

And it's Friday again!  Time to look back on the blessings of the past week and share them here.  Thanks to our host Susanne for reminding us each week.  We often do need to take a step back and realise how fortunate we are.

1)  Christmas hampers all packed and delivered to the beneficiaries of the Food bank.  I helped out last Saturday with packing the final items into hampers then Hubby and I delivered 3 of them.  I was really pleased to see the amount of food that we were able to provide to people but saddened to see how many people were going to be on their own for Christmas dinner - opting for a Ready Meal rather that any sort of joint.  The hampers also had a lot of treats in them as well though so hopefully they will have given some enjoyment to all our beneficiaries.  It was a lovely atmosphere amongst the volunteers while we were preparing the hampers and I'm glad to have been a part of it.

2)  Christmas with all the family here.  Our eldest son and his family had been here since Thursday 21st but our other son and our daughter and all their families were here for Christmas Day.  14 of us in total.

I was up to midnight the night before getting everything prepped.  And once I'd worked out my timetable I was able to go to bed not feeling stressed.

They all laughed at how detailed my list was - even down to reminders about putting condiments on the table but knowing I'd left nothing to chance made me feel a lot more in control!

We didn't get a decent photo of all of us at the table - and it was hard getting all the grandchildren to sit still for a photo - these were probably the best of a bad lot:

Ella, Rory, Nathan, Noah, Vinny & Miles

3)  Good weather on Boxing Day so that they were able to take the children to the park for some fresh air and to run off some of their energy.  

4) Quiet time today.  My son and his family left for their home in Nottingham this morning and, although I loved having the whole family here for Christmas it was nice to just be able to sit and relax.

5)  I'm thankful that we made the move to this house when we did.  It is a bit crowded when we're all together but there is room for us all to be together and for everyone to sleep over as they did Christmas night.  The layout in our previous house wouldn't have made it possible for us to do that.  Of course as the children get older and bigger it won't be so easy but hopefully we're making lots of happy memories for them to be able to look back on.

And now the New Year approaches.  Hubby and I will probably celebrate it quietly as we usually do.

Happy New Year to you all.

Friday 22 December 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 22/12/23

Thanks to our host Susanne for keeping us on track every Friday to find the good things in our week.  You can find out more here.

Here are mine:

1)  Almost Christmas ready.  The presents are all bought and wrapped.  The house looks Christmassy and I have a big shop being delivered tomorrow.  I'm sure there will be something I've forgotten that will mean a trip to the shop but hopefully not for too many things!

2)  Family time.  My eldest son and his family arrived yesterday and they will be with us until next Friday.  My other son and my daughter will be here with their families on Christmas Day, staying over until Boxing Day.  It will probably be total chaos but also lovely to have all the grandchildren together.

These two do love a dinosaur or two....

3)  Fun at the Food bank.  Well not fun exactly but we had a good time packing Christmas hampers for our beneficiaries today.  The amount of food that has been donated this month has been amazing.  Everyone who is registered with the food bank will get a delivery of festive food that will hopefully make this holiday a little better for them.  I'm thankful that we received the donations to be able to do this and for the wonderful team of volunteers who make it happen.

4)  Not striving for perfection.  Of course I would like Christmas to be perfect for our family and, in the past, that would have entailed making the Christmas pudding, cake, mince pies etc.  Having the house spotless and everything running like clockwork.  Now I hardly make anything myself and I'm definitely not stressing about the meal itself.  It's essentially a roast dinner just scaled up for the extra numbers right?  (But with lots of trimmings and Christmas crackers!)  Sharing it with the family is the important thing.

5)  Books.  I have lots of them and access to many more via the library.  When things get too hectic or difficult it's great to snuggle down and lose myself in a book.  Especially with a nice cup of tea and, at this time of year, a mince pie or two. 

Well that's me done.

Merry Christmas everyone!  It's almost here.

Friday 15 December 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 15/12/2023

Well I've been missing again but I'm here now to look back on the week and find the good things in it.  Susanne is the host for this here where like minded bloggers share their lists too.

1)  Firstly I'm grateful for all the well wishes I received on my last post when I hadn't been well.  I'm also grateful that I'm now feeling a lot better although I still have a bit of a cough.  Thankfully the covid tests I did were negative.

2)  Fun with Grandkids at the weekend - I had Rory and Vinny from early Saturday morning until Sunday morning while my son and DIL went to a wedding.  We also had a visit from Nathan and Ella during the day so it was a bit hectic.  The boys went to bed quite well for me though but we did have an early start on Sunday - I think Vinny was awake at 5.30 but I did manage to stall them from getting up until just before 7 am.

3)  A successful event for the Food Bank last weekend.  We were collecting at our local big supermarket for food items for the Christmas hampers that are given out to our beneficiaries and local people were incredibly generous with donating food and also money - we raised over £700.  This was my first time helping out with this and I spent a couple of hours giving out leaflets to shoppers with details of the items we needed for the hampers on Sunday.

4)  Despite not doing too much last week I did manage to get my Christmas tree up and the house looking a bit more Christmassy - all the kids and Grandkids are coming for Christmas!

5) I managed a proper walk today - a lap of the lake - the first time in over 2 weeks.  It was nice to be able to just sit and read or knit when I wasn't feeling great but not getting out for a walk didn't improve my mood very much.  I do enjoy putting my AirPods in, turning on some music, and getting out in the fresh air.  I did need my hat, warmest coat and wellies today and it was very overcast but I was still pleased to have got out again.

This weekend should be a bit quieter so I'll be able to plan what I still need to do for Christmas over the next week.

Have a good weekend all.

Friday 1 December 2023

Friday's Fave Five 1/12/23

Brrr it's been cold this week.  Frosty starts to the day but some lovely bright sunny days.  Someone suggested there had been snow this morning but I think there were about half a dozen snowflakes lol.

Anyway it's Friday so time to look back on the good things from the past week then head over to Susanne's site here to see who else is taking part. 

1)  An outing with Hubby on Saturday - he was going to a nearby pub to watch a band play and meeting up with a few of the women that he walks with on Thursdays.  I decided on the spur of the moment to join him.  We got there early enough so that we could eat in the pub before the band started playing.  It was a fun evening but difficult to chat to his friends over the noise of the band.

2)  Tea and cheesecake on Sunday and a chance to see Grandsons Rory and Vinny.  My son and DIL had hosted friends on Saturday for Thanksgiving and had a lot of dessert leftover so they invited us over on Sunday to help with that.  She had made a pumpkin pie which is not a fave of mine but also a chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake which was very yummy.  But also very rich and not great for my preventing diabetes diet so I declined the offer of bringing more home with us lol.

3)  I haven't felt well the last few days - feels like my body is fighting a virus of some sort which is making me cough quite a bit and feel out of sorts.  I'm thankful that I'm retired without any responsibilities and have been able to just take it easy.

4)  Also thankful for a Hubby who can cook and who is willing to take on household chores when necessary.  He was proud of himself one day this week as he put a load of laundry through the washer.  He wasn't feeling quite so smug when I reminded him that laundry happens in 2 parts - the washing, then the drying.  (Fortunately I found the wet washing in the machine fairly soon after he'd washed it.)

5)  I'm also grateful that I've been able to get a few things sorted like ordering ink for our printer, food for the birdfeeders and a few Christmas items without leaving the comfort of the sofa.  I've also done quite a bit of reading and knitting.

I'm planning a lazy weekend in the hope that I can shake off this virus but hopefully with Hubby's help make a start on the Christmas decorating.  

Have a good weekend all.

Friday 24 November 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 24/11/23

It's Friday!  Time to look back and be thankful for the good things over the past week.

Susanne is our prompt and host for this.  You can find out more here.

Here are mine:

1)  Family time last weekend.  It was Granddaughter Ella's birthday and all of us got together for that.  I posted about it here.

2)  Enough dry weather to be able to get out for walks most days.  The ground is still very muddy but I don't mind that.

3)  More volunteers at the Food bank.  Many hands make light work as they say and definitely true there, especially when the delivery from the council arrives and it all has to be sorted and stored.  Also on days like yesterday when we have to clear everything out from the Church to the storage area as there is a function at the weekend.  Most weeks some things are left in the Church but full clear downs mean the storage area has to be organised to make space for the extra items.  2 volunteers had returned from last week and there was another new one yesterday.  Hopefully they will all stay.

4)  Many of you will know one of my DILs is American so yesterday was an important day for her although here it was a normal working day so they will celebrate Thanksgiving at the weekend.  But she posted these pictures from Grandson Vinny's nursery:

I'm thankful that they have great childcare for our Grandson.

5)  A knit and natter session this week.  The previous one was cancelled as only a few of us were around so it was good to catch up and enjoy a good chat with like-minded people.

This weekend will be quieter for us.  Hope you all have a good one especially if you're still celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Happy Thanksgiving! - 23/11/23

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.  

Hope you're all having a great day.

Monday 20 November 2023

Weekend Recap - 20/11/23

Well it was a busy one!

Our eldest son and his family arrived late on Friday.  The grandsons were all ready in the PJs and they both settled reasonably quickly in their beds.  Miles seemed to think it was the morning as he'd been asleep in the car and took a little bit of convincing that no, it was still time for him to be in bed lol.

Saturday we met up with our other son and his two boys plus of course the birthday girl Ella and her brother and parents.

We went to the Museum of London in Docklands where there is a play area for the kids with soft play and other activities.  They all seemed to enjoy themselves.  After the session finished they had a quick visit in the museum before heading to a pizza restaurant just a few yards away.

It's hard getting 6 little ones to pose for a photo but this is probably the best one taken between us!

Here are a few others from the day.

Not obvious from the photo but Noah and Rory chatted the whole way from the station back to our house!  Vinny tagged along too.

We brought Rory and Vinny back to our house as I was babysitting them in the evening as their Mummy was singing in a concert and Daddy was going to watch.  We fed them but then I took them back to their house to go to bed.  They were so tired out from their busy day that they were asleep within a very short time and I didn't hear another peep.

On Sunday we had them all at our house for lunch except Nathan who had swimming lessons.  But by late afternoon they had all gone home so I was able to relax in front of the TV for the evening!

Looking back on the comments from my last couple of posts (thank you for all the birthday wishes for Ella and other kind words) there were a couple of questions that I'll answer here.

Yes John we do still play Kerplunk although the version we have is not as robust as the one my children had.  It takes a while to assemble and is best done by an adult!

Marie, we do gather elsewhere for the big extended family gatherings but the group we had at our house was just Hubby's generation and we were a couple missing so only 11 - I can cope with that.

Carla, the pig I made for Ella was named Maisie in the pattern book I used so I kept to that although of course Ella may decide differently lol.

And finally for Linda, this is the pattern book I used

It quotes Louise Crowther on the front but it's a David & Charles book - there are others and the website is

Despite my struggles to complete Maisie I already have the wool to make George the Dog - on the right.  But first I have lots of knitted squares to sew together to make a blanket. 

Finally, on a slightly sad note, I'm not sure if any of my readers now go back to the time when I was originally on Yahoo and then Multiply before finally ending up here who may have known "Benni".  Her actual name was Theresa and although she hadn't really blogged much in the past few years she was very active on Facebook posting photographs she'd taken.  Unfortunately she died suddenly last week.  Thankfully there was a post on her page notifying friends - some of my blogging friends have just stopped blogging without any explanation which is a bit disconcerting. RIP Benni.

Friday 17 November 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 17/11/23

Well Friday is nearly over so I need to get my skates on and get this post done before I turn into Cinderella!

Susanne keeps us on our toes, reminding us to look back on the week and find the good things.  You can find her blog here.

These are mine for the week:

1)  A lovely meal with Hubby's siblings last Saturday.  We were the hosts and it went very well.  I blogged about it in more detail here.

2)  I finally finished the knitted pig I was making for Ella's birthday.  She turned 3 today and we will see her tomorrow for a family celebration with all the grandkids.

3)  A decent pair of wellies that are comfortable and waterproof.

As you can see my walk today involved a lot of mud.  I walked around the lake and thanks to all the rain we've had the paths are VERY muddy.  Wellies are a necessity so I'm glad of a comfy pair.  I'm also glad that we can access the rear of our house from outside so I don't have to carry the boots through the house!

4)  A nice couple of hours with Ella on Wednesday.  We spent ages "playing" Kerplunk.  

She was more interested in just dropping the marbles down the chute than really playing the game but it kept her occupied for quite a while and then we moved on to Playdough.

5)  Noah and Miles are here for the weekend!  (And my son and his wife of course and not forgetting Ness the greyhound.)

Looking forward to us all getting together for Ella's birthday tomorrow and then on Sunday our station is celebrating 150 years of the railway being here.

Hope you all have a good weekend too.

Monday 13 November 2023

I'm done with cooking! 13/11/23

This was the setting for our meal for Nick's siblings on Saturday - we emptied out the living room and used folding tables, our dining room chairs and the new folding chairs I'd ordered so we could seat everyone comfortably. 

The dining table was used for drinks and nibbles.

The menu consisted of:

Velvety chicken liver parfait (posh word for pate lol)

Followed by Fruity lamb tagine with couscous

Finished with Chocolate & coffee truffle pots accompanied with crisp orange shortbread.

Except I forgot to serve the biscuits with the dessert so we had them with tea and coffee afterwards.  

We also had cheese and biscuits ready but everyone was too full.

The pictures above are taken from the recipe book I used.  The only photo I took was this one of the empty dessert pots! (I didn't have enough coffee cups but the glass dishes saved from shop bought desserts worked just as well.)

It was worth all the hard work though as everyone seemed to enjoy their food and we had a lovely evening.  One sister and her husband stayed overnight but they left fairly early on Sunday morning so Sunday was a nice relaxing day of doing nothing once all the clearing up had been done.  So glad I have a dishwasher.

Today I've been busy finishing Maisie!

Just in time for Ella's birthday on Friday.

I had previously bought more wool to make another animal but I found assembling the body quite a challenge so I'll probably use the wool to make more clothes for Maisie.  Thankfully as Ella is our only granddaughter I can get away with that option.

I also managed a walk today as it was dry although very windy.  So a good weekend and a good start to the week.

Hope your week started well too.

Friday 10 November 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 10/11/23

Time to look back on the week and remember things to be grateful for.  Hosted by Susanne, you can find our more and check out other participants here.

My five are:

1)  A 40th birthday celebration for our DIL Vicky.  We went for lunch last Saturday with our daughter Becca, Vicky, Nathan and Ella plus our younger son Michael, his wife Elizabeth and their sons Rory and Vinny.  We went to an Italian restaurant in nearby Loughton.  The staff were really good with the kids and the kids were well behaved and we all had a good time.

2)  A quiet day last Sunday.  It had been a hectic few days before, looking after Nathan and Ella while their Mummies were and then out on Saturday so it was good to have a day just relaxing at home, catching up with some TV and reading.

3)  My tumble dryer.  We've had a lot of rain this week so not a good week for drying washing but I needed to change both our spare beds this week and I'm glad I could get all the bedding dry and ironed.

4)  Companies that have goods in stock and provide quick delivery - it's out turn to host Hubby's siblings and their partners tomorrow for dinner.  There will be 11 of us and thanks to a couple of breakages and chairs being loaned out long term I realised we didn't have enough chairs.  I managed to find a supplier online that could deliver in 48 hours at no extra charge so we now have enough chairs.  They're only basic, folding chairs but they'll store in the garage and we'll need them again at Christmas and future family visits.

5)   I'm grateful to be sitting here composing this post.  It's been a hectic day preparing for the sibling meal tomorrow.  Regular visitors here will know that Hubby does most of the cooking here but when it comes to entertaining I like to be more involved.  So I'd planned a menu where the starter and dessert could be prepared in advance but of course as usual I underestimated how long things would take to prepare.  I feel like I've been on the go all day - from first thing this morning, being up and ready for the groceries to be delivered (Another thing to be grateful for - not having to make a trip to the supermarket!) to clearing the lounge to make space for tables, cleaning floors etc.  But the food is prepared and the house is ready so I was able to sit down and relax and prepare this post.

Tomorrow will be busy but I'm looking forward to it.  Hope you all have a good weekend too.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 8/11/23

Joyce comes up with the questions each week - check out her blog and find other participants here.

1. Are you too hard on yourself or not hard enough? Elaborate. 

I certainly have been hard on myself in the past and I probably still am at times but I'm also working on being kind to myself.   I often have high expectations or say yes too often so I'm also working on saying no and trying not to feel guilty about doing that.

2. What's the role of gratitude in your life? 

Thinking about what I have to be grateful for keeps me grounded and helps keep me in a more positive frame of mind.

3. Where do you get your news these days? How much attention are you giving it currently? 

Various places - we still have a newspaper on Saturdays but mainly I get news on the TV or internet or occasionally we might pick up a free paper when we're out and about.  However I am giving it less and less attention, particularly at the moment when it's all so grim.

4. Do you like potatoes? Last time you prepared potatoes in some way? Which of the following is your favourite...baked potato, mashed potato, french fried potato, sweet potato, hash brown potatoes, roasted potatoes, or potato salad? 

I love potatoes in any shape or form.  Hubby does most of the cooking here but I probably most recently "cooked" chips (french fries) - putting something straight from the freezer in to the oven doesn't really count as cooking!

5. Are you a veteran? Are there any veterans in your family? Will you do anything special to honour them on Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day this year? 

My Dad was a veteran.  He joined the army when he was 16 to escape working in a coal mine but then served during WW2.  I'll be wearing a poppy for remembrance.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Going back to gratitude, I seem to be in a bit of a blogging slump at the moment so I'm grateful for people like Joyce who keep posting memes every week that are fun and easy to join in with.

Monday 6 November 2023

A Walk in the Park - 6/11/23

I walked in the park today - didn't need the wellies for that although I think they were repairing a burst water main at the end of my road as there was a lot of water being pumped out of a hole and pouring down the road!

Anyway here are a few photos of the autumn trees in the park with a lovely blue sky

And the sun setting beyond the park

And the lake.

Thanks to the clocks going back last week I need to be starting my walk earlier in the day!

Sunday 5 November 2023

Walking on Sunday (5/11/23)


Today was the first day this week that I got to do a proper walk.  It's been a busy week - I didn't even find time to do a Friday Five post again, although I have visited the blogs of those who took part and as usual there were lots of good things going on.  Apologies for the lack of comments.

On Monday I had a Diabetes Prevention Programme session.  It was good to get back to a face to face session - I missed the last one when we were away and doing the catch up over Zoom just wasn't the same.

Tuesday I did an extra session at the Food Bank and then had Ella in the afternoon. 

Wednesday was a quiet day which was needed because we had Grandchildren Nathan and Ella here from Thursday morning until just after dinner time on Friday.  It was my DIL Vicky's 40th birthday on Friday so she and my daughter Becca went away overnight to celebrate with some of their close friends.  We decided to have the children here rather than at their house but with hindsight we probably should have at least gone there to sleep.  I ended up sharing a bed with both children and needless to say I didn't get a lot of sleep!

Yesterday we (us, Becca, Vicky and their 2 children) all met up with my younger son, his wife and 2 boys for lunch at an Italian restaurant.  We've been there before and the staff are very good with the children so although not the most relaxing of meals it was still nice to all be together.

Today has been a quiet day (phew) although there are currently lots of fireworks to be heard.  I was determined to get out for a walk though and thankfully I missed the heavy shower we had this afternoon but we have had a lot of rain this week so it's:

Welly time!

The cygnets are almost fully grown now - the male swan will soon be chasing them off.

I couldn't see the other adult swan at first then found him at the bottom end of the lake where someone was feeding the birds.

The swan family were actually in one of the few sunlit areas on the lake.

I did get rained on a bit while I was out but after I got back there was a real downpour so I was lucky to avoid that as it hadn't been on the forecast I'd looked at.

I walked for just over an hour so probably covered about 3 miles - picking my way around the worst of the mud slowed me down a bit!

Friday 27 October 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 27/10/23

Well it's definitely feeling colder here and leaves are falling.  It's not as cold as where our host Susanne is though - she already has snow!  But there are always things to be grateful for and shared here on Fridays.

1)  Lots of grandchildren time again this week with it being half-term.  I had Vinny all day last Friday as his nursery was closed then on Saturday evening I babysat Nathan and Ella.  Not the easiest thing on my own as Ella really didn't want to go to bed lol.  Wednesday evening I babysat them again but had an easier time - Nick was with me so he settled Nathan while I managed to get Ella to sleep - divide and conquer.

I also had Ella during the day on Monday and I've had Rory today.  

2. This heron usually perches on the other side of the lake where it's not easy to get a good shot of it.  On Monday it was on the platform on the more accessible side of the  lake.  I edged slowly closer to it and managed to get this photo

Before I took this one!

I love living being so near to the lake and forest.

3)  Keeping up my walking - I've managed to dodge the rain showers we've had and get out for at least half an hour each day (except Thursday - see below).

4)  Yesterday I met up with my "Lunch Ladies" and another former colleague in the afternoon.  It was nice to have a catch up and the walk to and from the station meant I still got my step count up.

5)  A good session at the Foodbank yesterday.  I've been complimented on my organisational skills before but often there isn't time to do much long term organising - last week I ended up running the kitchen but this week I was able to spend the whole session in the store room which meant I was able to do some proper sorting while putting away the delivery.  It's satisfying when you feel like you're making a difference albeit in a small way.

Have a good weekend all.

Friday 20 October 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 20/10/23

It's hard to explain why I've missed 4 weeks of FFF - we have been away but only for a week and there have been quite a few things going on but as one friend described it I think I just had a bit of blogging fatigue.

It's also easy for me to let myself become demotivated, especially with all that's going on in the world right now but, I know that I have a lot to be thankful for and I need to take note of Susanne's reminder each week to think about that and join in here with other bloggers.  

Here goes:

1.  Going back to basics I'm thankful that I'm not living in a war zone or where there are major conflicts or in an area that's prone to flooding or wild fires.  I'm also thankful that I have people who care about me, family and friends.

2.  I'm thankful that, although there are people in our local area that need to use the food bank where I volunteer, there are lots of people /organisations who donate food or money and we are able to meet the needs of the people who come to the foodbank.

3.  A chance to meet up with some former work colleagues and friends last Friday to celebrate the Centenary of the Ursuline Sisters in the UK.  One of my former bosses is an Ursuline Sister and although our school wasn't an Ursuline school we received a great deal of support from the order when she was the Headteacher.  The event started with a thanksgiving Mass in church followed by a lovely lunch in the nearby Ursuline school which my Mother-in-law, most of my Hubby's sisters and our daughter attended in the past.  It was a lovely meal and a chance to catch up with people I hadn't seen for a while.  

4.  A meal out with Hubby on Wednesday.  We had a voucher to use at a nearby pub and realised it was going to expire soon so we decided we had better use it!

Hubby with his rib eye steak and, of course, some red wine!

My BBQ pork ribs.

The food was lovely but I wish they'd use old fashioned big round plates!

5.  Time with grandchildren.  We've seen all of them over the past couple of weeks.  The youngest ones are getting more and more chatty and Ella, the youngest, seems to have very quickly got the idea of using a potty so no longer in nappies.  Vinny and Miles, the newly 3 year olds have some catching up to do lol.

Have a good weekend all.