Wednesday, 27 December 2017

All About ... The Year in Review

What did you do in 2017 that you’ve never done before? I tried Nordic walking for the first time and I also started exercising for at least thirty minutes every day, something I've definitely never done before!

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?  I don't set the traditional type of resolutions for myself - instead I choose goals to achieve during the year. 2017 was clouded by bouts of depression so not all of my goals were completed but I did get the biggest one done, which was to get the hard landscaping finished in the back garden. Yes, I will set new goals for 2018. The biggest will be to get the house improvements finished and there will also be additional smaller, more personal, goals that I still need to decide on.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No.

Did anyone close to you die? No.  

What countries did you visit? Apart from a few day trips I didn't stray too far from home in 2017.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? As with last year, I'm lucky enough to be able to write that I don't feel I lacked anything in 2017. I'd like to do some travelling in 2018 and also get back to concentrating on my photography.

What date from 2017 will remain etched in your memory and why? There isn't a particular date that stands out this year. Luckily there have been no tragedies or bad news to mark this year, neither have there been major celebrations or highlights. Looking back, 2017 has been a good year, despite the depression, as I haven't lost anyone close to me and I have been fortunate enough to add to my list of friends.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? That would definitely have to be completing the hard landscaping in the garden. It is so much easier to manage now. I still have most of the long term planting of shrubs and bulbs to decide on but that will evolve over the next few years

What was your biggest failure? I can't label anything as a 'failure' - it's way too negative when I'm trying my hardest to be positive. I didn't finish all the work in the house so it will get done this year instead. 

Did you suffer illness or injury? No injuries to report but it has been a year of health issues. The depression is nearly under control thank goodness, and I need to continue with the lose weight & exercise approach to life so that I can get my blood pressure back under control.

What was the best thing you bought?  A new car (Renault Twingo) and a new sewing machine. 

Where did most of your money go? On my new car, the garden landscaping, new laptop and printer, and gifts for Julie and her daughters.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? I never, ever thought I'd write this, but I'm excited about the new approach to exercising. Oh, and obviously the work in the garden.

Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? About the same - there are more good days than bad!
  • Thinner or fatter? A little thinner!
  • Richer or poorer? Richer.

What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd got the decluttering finished as it's been hanging over me for so long. 

What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I wasted less time being influenced by poor advice from people who didn't really have my best interests at heart.   

How did you spend Christmas? I spent Christmas day with Julie, her mum and her daughters. It was a lovely day and I'm glad that I changed my original plans to go away for the holiday. 

Did you fall in love in 2017? No.

What was your favourite TV show? I'm not sure that I actually had a 'favourite' TV show. I have watched quite a lot of TV but nothing really stands out as the high spot of the year. Lately I've been watching repeats of New Tricks, Death in Paradise, and DIY SOS. 

What was the best book you read? 'All The Light We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr. This was a book group choice which everyone loved and received a 10/10 vote.

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2017? I've been to see some tribute bands this year and, although I have always thought it would be a rubbish experience, I have actually thoroughly enjoyed them. I've seen Mercury (Queen), Keith James (Cat Stevens), and the Simon and Garfunkel Story. Through these evenings I have rediscovered the sheer joy of live music which has led to me seeing Steeleye Span, local singers at the Village Pump Folk Club in Trowbridge and some of the free lunchtime concerts organised by the local Rural Music School.

What did you want and get? I wanted to get the garden sorted and that is one thing I can tick off the list.

What did you want and not get? I also wanted the house finished but it didn't happen. 

What was your favourite film this year?  I've watched loads of films this year. I'd probably list Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as the favourite, but I also enjoyed Hamstead, Snatched, and The Hitman's Bodyguard as well.

What did you do on your birthday? A trip to the Range and IKEA at Bristol with Julie, indulging in some retail therapy. Also in the week before and the week after, several celebratory meals with friends.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Obviously, that the depression had not been such a major factor influencing my year, but to be honest even with that, it has been a good year.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? The same as always, anything comfortable. I have actually started looking at my wardrobe and am steadily buying new clothes as and when I see something I like.

What kept you sane? Close friends and family, and taking time to find pleasure in the little things in life.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No, there hasn't been one. I don't really 'fancy' celebrities. 

What political issue stirred you the most? Brexit, the Syrian conflict, and the US president - interestingly, almost the same issues as last year.

Who did you miss? Ced. Always.  

Who was the best new person you met? I have made a couple of new friends this year but I can't really single anyone out. Everyone in my life, including online friendships through this blog, is important and equally valued.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017. Be kind!

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.  No, I don't think there is one! 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

This Christmas

Photo courtesy of Power of Positivity

Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas

My Christmas has started in earnest so I will be taking a break from my blog for a few days - back sometime before the new year.

I met up with friends to see Jumanji yesterday (very funny, definitely recommended) followed by a meal and then an evening spent visiting and delivering the majority of my Christmas gifts to friends. My sister dropped in this morning to collect the gifts for the family, so all I have left now are the ones for Julie and the girls which I'll take with me on the big day.

I've started my Christmas jigsaw, which is progressing better now that I've realised that there are actually two jigsaw puzzles in one box. I sorted out all the edge pieces to get started but it just wasn't coming together and then I realised that there were eight corner pieces! It says on the box that it's two puzzles but I'd taken that to mean there was one jigsaw to assemble and the second puzzle would then be revealed, as in a riddle or question to be solved. No, there are actually two jigsaws in the same box with all the pieces mixed together. It should be fun to do.

I have friends visiting this afternoon. They're driving up from Plymouth on their way home for a family Christmas but will break their journey at mine for tea. I haven't seen them for a couple of years so I'm really looking forward to catching up with all their news. Then in the evening I'm going to a Christmas film night at J's home. I don't know which film we're seeing but she has a huge selection to choose from. Tomorrow and Sunday I'm providing taxi services for Lauren and in between I'll be meeting friends for lunch each day. 

It'll be a lot quieter in the run up to the new year so I'll have time to catch up with myself. In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Day 125: Christmas Reading

We used to always have new books at Christmas but also had a selection of Christmas themed ones which were brought out in the days leading up to the big event. Throughout my teens I read Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' every December, as well as another favourite book of short Christmas stories which had lost it's cover and we never knew what it was called or who wrote it. 

I don't know what happened to the original books so I'm going to build a small collection of my own. These two are the first purchases and I'll buy one or two each year until I have a good selection. The 'Christmas Days' has had good reviews and will be the one I start with. The other one, 'The Christmas Secret', is the one I mentioned in a recent post - I'm not sure why I chose it as I very much doubt that it'll be one I want to reread every year, but you never know.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Day 124: I'm Ready!

  • Presents bought and wrapped - tick
  • Little Miss C's birthday card bought (a Christmas Day birthday, she has her birthday present on June 25th which is when she has her party) - tick
  • Food shopping completed (I'm eating out most days so don't need to worry about fresh fruit and veg this year) - tick 
  • Christmas cards written and delivered - tick
  • House cleaned and polished - tick
  • Living room decorated - tick
  • New boiler ordered - tick
Tesco was packed full this morning when I picked up the last few things so I'm glad that I don't need to tackle the shopping crowds later in the week. 

I arrived back home just in time for the boiler man, who turned up as I was unloading the car. The good news is that, a) I wasn't charged for his work this morning and b) although there is an intermittent fault, the water is still heating every day and the central heating is functioning to a point so, as I now have my new super duper Dyson fan heater as back up, I'm not going to freeze. Can you tell I love my new fan heater? The bad news is that a new boiler is the way forward although it isn't totally bad news as the replacement boiler will be about 25% more efficient so should be cheaper to run. The current one will hopefully keep going until February but he'll install the new one earlier if necessary. This means that the windows will still be replaced in January/February, the boiler in February and I'll delay the work on the bathrooms and bedroom until both of those jobs are completed. N who is doing the bedroom and bathrooms will be able to make good if necessary after the completion of the windows/boiler work. Then it'll be the decorating, new carpets and soft furnishing and I'll be finished.

I'm ready to start my Christmas celebrations now. First up is a visit to the cinema tomorrow to see 'Sing', as a helper with my Tuesday school. The entire school is going so it should be fun!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Day 123: Fingers Crossed!

I'm still waiting to hear from the boiler man so fingers crossed that he can fit me in today.

So far this morning I've driven Lauren to work, had a long phone call with my sister and another even longer one with the friend I was supposed to be meeting for lunch today (we both had to cancel so I don't feel quite so bad for messing her around and we'll reschedule in the new year), none of which were on my list of important-things-that-must-be-done-today-without-fail!

I'll wait till after lunch before I get started on the absolutely-must-be-done-first task which is to empty the living room of all the boxes. Everything that is staying will be put away, I'll do the charity/skip run tomorrow (hopefully, but it depends on the boiler) and then I'll have to find temporary homes for the things that still have to be sold. My aim is to get the tree up and the room decorated, ready for entertaining over the Christmas break.

A couple of my treats have turned up in the post today - the fleece lined walking trousers (just need to take them up) and a Christmas novel which I'm not sure why I chose but am sure I'll enjoy anyway.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Day 122: It Could Be Worse

Frustrating as it is that the boiler is having a funny five minutes, it could be worse. There is obviously something wrong but it is working intermittently so I still have hot water and heat. I bought a heater yesterday, just in case, and have switched it in for the first time this morning. In the end I managed to make the purchase of the heater into my (sort of) treat for the day by really splashing out on a Dyson Hot and Cool Fan Heater - expensive, but it'll double up as a fan in the summer and is very quiet so I'll be able to use it in my bedroom when it gets too hot (she says, trying to justify to herself why she's spent so much money on a heater!). 

Today is an at home day sandwiched between providing taxi services for Lauren, driving her to and from work. I'm hoping to finish reading my current book and then will clear the dining table and start on a jigsaw puzzle. I should really do some housework but I'm trying to ignore that nagging little voice which is telling me to get on with it. Actually, I'm doing an extremely good job of ignoring the voice of my inner housewife as I can honestly say that I haven't once felt the urge to start dusting or hoovering and am confident that should that urge raise it's ugly head, I will have no problems ignoring it! I've had a look at what's on TV but nothing stands out so I will probably do a bit more work on the family tree tonight. I've moved it all across to the new laptop and I want to tidy up some weird looking entries before I carry on discovering new information. 

Tomorrow is all about getting the boiler fixed. Then real life can resume!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Day 121: No More Treats!

I don't think there will be any more treats this month as the money is needed for something else much more important - keeping warm. I arrived back from our final carol playing, absolutely shrammed, to find a freezing cold house because the boiler has decided to stop working. The repair man can't come until Monday and I need to discuss with him about whether to repair the existing boiler or go for a new one. He thinks the fan has gone but that was replaced about two years ago and it wasn't cheap. Regardless of that decision, today I'll have to buy an electric heater to keep me warm until it's all sorted. I'm taxi service for Lauren this weekend so I'll buy one at Currys when I pick her up from work.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Day 120: Meet the New Addition to the Family

My new toy has arrived, all safe and sound and is looking very clean and shiny. I've finished unpacking it properly and have had a go with it ... squeal! Anything more has to wait until I get some fabric. The realisation that I didn't have enough fabric for my first project brought me down to earth with a bump so that's today's treat for myself - fabric for my first quilt.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Day 119: A Quick Post

Well it's not the lurgy thank goodness. I woke up this morning with a nasty cold, but at least it should be over and done with by Christmas. I've been playing carols at Tesco tonight so now I have a headache - playing a brass instrument when you have a heavy cold is just the worst thing ever, so I'm off to bed for an early night.

I'll be back tomorrow with a proper post and hopefully feeling more human!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Day 118: The Shivers!

I can't get warm today. I've turned the heating up, put on extra clothes and am snuggled up on the sofa with the throws wrapped around me but I'm still shivering. I don't really feel ill but if it is a bug, I hope it's only a 24 hour one. It's pouring with rain and the room is dark already, even though it's only just gone 3:30 pm. All things considered, it's not the best of days!

I've made arrangement to go with friends to see the new release of the film Jumanji next week. I've never watched the original but have a vague idea about the storyline. We were supposed to be going out tonight to see the swing band another friend plays in, but we've cancelled as none of us is feeling 100%. 

Today's treat is proving to be difficult. I seem to be incapable of making up my mind between a piece of jewellery or a ticket to see the Snow White panto in Bath. I haven't been to a proper pantomine for years but am not sure how much fun it'll be on my own. I'll delay making my choice until later today and maybe the choice will be clearer/easier.

I've just read over what I've written. Sorry, it all sounds a bit dreary and negative when, apart from having the shivers, I'm fine. I've started reading a new book - I Sometimes Lie by Alice Feeney - which so far, is proving to be a good read. The principal character is in a coma and can't remember what happened to her; the story is developing by switching between a childhood diary, the days leading up to the accident, snippets on conversations she hears from visitors to her hospital room and through the nightmares she experiences as she lies in a coma.

I have to decide what to cook for tonight's meal. I was going to do a midweek roast but am seriously in need of some comfort food instead. Macaroni Cheese is  the current favourite but I also have the ingredients to make a fish pie. Maybe I'll make both and then choose!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Day 117: Nativity, Tesco and Treats!

Three more power cuts yesterday, only about 10 minutes each time, but enough to put paid to my cooking plans. I'd finished the soup and the chilli and was about to start the rest when the power went. Once it came back on I was getting started when it went again, so I decided to abandon that idea. I've just got home from my Tuesday school and now have a pot of fridge soup bubbling away. Fridge soup, in case you're wondering, is all the odds and ends of vegetables left over in the fridge which need to be used up ... it's different every time!

I wasn't teaching today but went in to see the dress rehearsals for the Reception class nativity play and the years 1 and 2 Christmas story performance. As I expected it was lovely to see all the children doing their best and singing at the top of their voices. The best part is seeing their teachers and TAs doing all the actions so that the children can follow - been there, done that, but now I can just relax and enjoy the performance.

I'm now enjoying a mug of coffee while I wait for Tesco to arrive with lots of goodies to restock the cupboards and freezers. I don't know if we are due any snow in this area but I prefer to have plenty in so that I won't need to go shopping if the weather does get worse. I'll be doing quite a lot of bulk cooking over the next few days, this time trying out some recipes using my new Instant Pot.

I decided against doing my own Advent calendar this year. I've no idea how I reached that decision but it was the wrong one and I've been missing my daily treat so I've come up with the brilliant idea (well, I think it's brilliant!) of buying myself a treat every day. I'm following the same rules as for previous year's Advent calendar which is that it must be a treat and not something I'd routinely buy. I've set myself a budget and have been enjoying online searches to see what I can get. It won't be a full month's worth as I only started two days ago, but enough to make the month, and me, feel special. So far I have bought a pair of fleece lined walking trousers and a new Singer sewing machine, both things were ordered online so I'm waiting for deliveries again. The sewing machine is a semi-planned purchase as my existing one is destined for the skip (would cost too much to service and repair) but I'm counting it as a treat as it's a much better model than I was going to get with lots of extra specialist attachments and embroidery stitches. Watch out for quilting and dressmaking efforts/updates in the new year!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Day 116: Bits and Pieces

In the end yesterday's power cut only lasted about 40 minutes and it tried it's hardest to snow later on but it was much too wet to settle. Instead we now have flood warnings to worry about and as the other end of the village floods every year I'm sort of expecting it to become a reality. Luckily my home won't be affected if it does flood.

I'd planned to go to Bath this morning to buy my walking boots but in the end, couldn't face going out. Maybe tomorrow. In the end I've settled for catching up with bits and pieces that are on my mind so that everything is cleared before Christmas ... or much sooner hopefully.

To start with I've dealt with some overdue email replies, written and posted some of my Christmas cards, and sorted out a pile of books for the charity shop pile - either ones that I've read or which have been passed on to me but which I don't fancy reading. I'm now in the kitchen and have a pot of chilli and a pot of lentil and vegetable soup bubbling away. Once they're done, I'll make some bolognese sauce, and shepherdess pie and shepherd's pie. The pies will be finished off in the oven and I'll have some shepherdess pie for my meal tonight with the remainder of the cabbage and cauliflower, and the rest will be portioned and stacked away in the freezer.

While stuff is bubbling away on the hob I've set my laptop up on the table and am slowly working my way through bits and pieces of admin for the band. It's probably going to take me two or three days to get it all done and is the biggest 'thing' that's preying on my mind, so the sooner I get it all done, the better I'll feel.

I bet nobody else has wrapping paper like this ... lovingly made by my Thursday class as their contribution to their school's Christmas Fete. Tomorrow I'm visiting my Tuesday school to watch the KS1 nativity, so something nice to look forward to.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Day 115: No Snow!

Well the promised snow hasn't appeared yet. There are photos on Facebook showing lots of the white stuff in Swindon (about 30 miles away) but here it is raining. There was an attempt at sleet a few minutes ago but now it's back to rain.

I suppose I shouldn't grumble but I was planning to go out and take some photos of the fields covered in snow. Now I'm stuck at home and there is a power cut. Thankfully the house is warm, the phone fully charged and it's cold enough not to panic about the freezer in the garage yet. I just need to finish this post before the (old) laptop battery gives up! It also means that I can't set up the new laptop yet, which is a bit frustrating. If the power doesn't come back on soon I foresee a sudden need to visit friends!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Day 114: Music

It's been a day of live music. 

Playing carols with the band this morning - freezing cold but everyone enjoying themselves.

A flash mob this afternoon - singing Christmas carols at a fete in a retirement home.

A concert this evening - seeing Steeleye Span, who were absolutely brilliant.

I've had a thoroughly enjoyable day!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Day 113: Feeling Festive

I'm definitely feeling all Christmassy today. This may be due in part to the fact that I've now completed all my teaching commitments so my time is my own until January 9th. I still have a few band events and some other music groups to play out with, but they are most definitely under the heading of fun!

I've started on making the house look more festive. This week I've swapped the mugs, tea towels, jimjams and throws for the Christmas ones and will keep using them until twelfth night. Next week, it's a good tidy round and then all hands on deck for decorating the tree and the living room, which is a big change for me as traditionally my family waited until Christmas Eve to buy the tree. I realise that the reason behind that was all down to cost - we certainly had some weird shaped trees to decorate when we were children - but my Christmas is so different now and, for me, it's more about the build up to Christmas Day rather than the day itself. 

Tomorrow I'll be taking band practice for the beginners and then playing with the juniors and main band who will be busking at one on the local retail parks. It's going to be bitterly cold, if the forecast is correct, so I'll be handing out their Christmas chocolates to keep them going. We may have to invest in some hot chocolate as well and keep reminding them that they are having fun!!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Day 112: Thursday!

In the end, both deliveries arrived this morning via  the same courier. The reason given was that they had tried to deliver on time yesterday but no one answered the door. How this was possible when I didn’t leave the house all day I don’t understand.  Anyway, it's all here now and I’m trying to be happy about it but if I'm honest, I am annoyed. With other commitments I won’t be able to set my new laptop up until Sunday, so I feel a bit like a kid who’s not allowed to play with a new toy.

The band is playing carols outside Sainsbury tonight so I have that to look forward to. Today will finish on a much better note!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Day 111: Taking Stock

I'm waiting in all day for deliveries. The best they could tell me was it will be sometime between 8am and 8pm for the laptop, and 9am and 7pm for the bedding! So to make good use of the enforced confinement at home I am taking stock.

That's taking stock quite literally in terms of the content of freezers, fridge and cupboards. I've already listed the contents of the freezers and once I've done the same for the rest of the food, I can start thinking about meal planning and bulk cooking. Previous attempts at weight loss were more successful when I cooked meals in bulk and froze my efforts as individual portions, so that's my way forward this time. What I'm not entirely sure of is the real reason why I've stopped doing it each time, so it's something I need to remain aware of as I embark on my third serious attempt at weight loss.

This time it'll also be supported by a sensible exercise regime, something I'd never really achieved before. In response to Lady Ella's comment on yesterday's post, I have been doing well on the exercise front by managing at least 30 minutes a day but it's no longer enough. I either need to change the type of exercise in some way or exercise for longer each day. I've already signed up to start the Nordic walking next year so that's being counted as an extra activity and I'm looking at a fortnightly exercise group as another thing to do. The biggest change will have to be with my daily 30 minute walk, looking to leave the house and find more physically challenging routes rather than my current, all on one level, walks. The positive thing is that I have already increased my fitness level enough to feel able to up my game on the exercise front whereas in the past just the thought of it would have been enough to make me give up before I'd even started!

I've been mentally listing the excuses I know I'll employ to avoid exercise/weight loss and deciding what I need to do to invalidate those excuses. I'm sure there are a few excuses but all I've come up with so far, and actually the most obvious ones, all relate to not having suitable clothes and shoes/boots to walk outdoors in poor weather conditions. Potentially expensive, but a necessary expense, so I'm tottering off to Bath next week to buy some decent walking shoes/boots. I can get 15% discount in Cotswold Outdoor and buying them now means that I'll be able to wear them in before I start the Nordic walking in January. The rest of the stuff (waterproof coat, trousers etc) will have to wait until the January sales but that just means I have a good excuse for clothes shopping to look forward to. There's always a positive if you look for it!

I'm back! You probably didn't realise but it's now about 90 minutes since I typed the previous paragraph. The lovely Gemma turned up to cut my hair, I've finished the list of foodstuff in the house, started a load of washing, and got a bit side-tracked and made a start on clearing out some 'unwanted/old/too small/too big' clothes. I'm still waiting for both deliveries! When I finish this I'll be making a pot of vegetable soup for lunch and then this afternoon will be devoted to finding more 'unwanted/unloved/it's really time I got rid of this/why did I buy this' stuff to take to the charity shop tomorrow. I also need to find something to photograph for my daily photo.

This is my new plant stand, or part of it at least. I couldn't get it all in without moving the table and chairs! The poinsettia is only there until I make room in the living room for it and I have no idea why there are two plates under the white pot of the peace lily - it obviously made sense at the time. I'm looking for a larger white pot with water reservoir to repot the peace lily if anyone has any idea where I can buy one, please.

To finish, and changing the subject completely, back in January I wrote this post about pay-it-forward. Two people were interested and added comments. I'm able to contact pixiemum and have emailed her today, but have no way of contacting Amber. So Amber, if you see this post, please will you email me with your contact details? You can email me from my profile but if you don't make contact I have no other way of paying-it-forward to you.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Day 110: Weight Loss and Exercise

It was my return visit to the doctor this morning. The results of the blood test combined with two higher than normal blood pressure tests means that I'm now back to focusing on being more active and seriously losing weight. I have to go back in three months to review progress. I don't have a specific target, just increase the amount of regular exercise and lose some weight ... all achievable and a much better outcome from the consultation than I expected.

I walked back through the park, taking a route I don't normally use. I was looking for squirrels to photograph but saw this instead ... an outside gym ...

I definitely won't be using this ... I don't think the world is ready to see me floundering around like a beached whale!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Day 109: Befriending

I've spent the afternoon in Devizes learning about Age UK. I applied to join as a volunteer after I saw a request for people to consider befriending a lonely person. It's something I thought I'd be able to do and, as they are only asking for a minimum of one hour each week, something that I definitely have the time to do.

It seems that, as with many charities and voluntary organisations, things progress slowly, all of which means that I won't be linked with a 'friend' until some time next year. They are also in the middle of changing their procedures so 'befriending' is out and 'well-being' is the way forward. It wasn't completely clear today but it seems that the voluntary role I was interested in, i.e. visiting, chatting, drinking coffee, making friends, will now change to a role where as well as doing all that, you also encourage the person you are visiting to take part in community activities. 

The next stage is to go on a course which goes into detail about the ins and outs of well-being and explains what my role as a visitor will be. I've come home from today's course feeling a little disappointed that it's changing and that it will take so long to get started, but I'll just have to be patient and continue with the process. 

Today's photo was taken in Devizes on the way back to the car park. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Day 108: My Sunday Photo

Dash, my friend's dog


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Day 107: A Busy Saturday

It's been all about the band this morning and this afternoon, starting with running the practice session for the beginners, then carol playing with the junior and main bands and finishing with dismantling the band Christmas tree as the Christmas Tree Festival ended today. I didn't think to take a photo of the festival during the week so here's a snap taken today as everything is being packed away. I'll try to do better next year!

Tonight I am providing taxi services for Julie and Lauren as they both have their work's Christmas meal. Of course, it's never simple ... they need to be taken to different towns in opposite directions from home, so I'll be earning my Brownie points tonight. Then it's back home to watch a bit of TV (don't know what's on) and to wait for the texts asking me to collect them. It's going to be a late night!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Day 106: The Hunt is On!

Today is the first day of the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt and I'm sharing my first photo with you.

It's for No 13 | a line of ... and is a line of trees by my Friday school.

The 'rules' and the complete list can be seen here. Feel free to join in - everyone is welcome.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Day 105: In a Rush!

The band is playing carols outside Tesco tonight so this is quick post. I love the carols and the playing, but am not looking forward to 90 minutes out in the cold ... at least Tesco are usually generous and supply us with hot chocolate and mince pies.

I've been in a rush all day, trying to catch up with myself. I had everything organised and then a panicky phone call from L at 8 am put paid to all my plans - she'd missed her bus and needed a lift to Uni in Bath, so that took a big chunk of time out of my morning. The rest of the morning saw me rush here, there and everywhere to get all my errands finished. I'd wanted to leave home early and take some time to photograph the birds at Devizes, but in the end it was a quick snap using my phone and only then because there was a convenient parking space!

Teaching was hard work this afternoon as the children are ramping up the excitement about Christmas. Still, I only have next week to get through and then, except for the last few band commitments, I'll be on holiday until January 6th.

Have to go - I need to warm up before I play!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Day 104: A Wintery Walk

Entirely my own fault but it has been a very stressful morning. I left some urgent printing to the last minute (!) so of course the laptop wouldn't play nicely and a 20 minutes job ended up taking nearly two hours. In the end I saved the files to a memory stick and toddled off to the Tech Guy, who printed everything for me. It serves me right for leaving it so late but at least it's done now. 

On the way back home I decided on a spur of the moment walk around the marina. It's bitterly cold and has highlighted the fact that I need to get some warmer clothes for walking, but I enjoyed a few minutes in the bright sun. 

Now I just have to finish planning lessons for tomorrow, which'll take me about another 30 minutes,  and then the rest of the day is my own. I'm fairly sure that I'll be turning the heating up, choosing a new book and settling down for a cosy afternoon and evening in the living room.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Day 103: Sorting and Planning

There's no daily photo today. My laptop seems to be sulking and keeps crashing so I can't convert a photo to upload - it's obviously heard that it's days are numbered and a new model will soon be winging it's way to me.

I've found homes for all my new goodies and just have to arrange for someone to put the picture shelf up and I need to assemble the plant stand. I then have to decide what to do with the old dinner service, cutlery and odds and ends of kitchen utensils - probably another trip to the charity shop.  

I only had 90 minutes of teaching this afternoon so I put the rest of my time to good use, looking at the possibility of a trip to London in January to see the Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library, a musical (haven't decided which one) and a catch up with friends. I'm just waiting to hear back from one person and then I'll make a decision about the musical and book my tickets. I find January and February quite difficult at the best of times so, knowing that I'm not feeling 100%, I want to make sure I have things to look forward.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Day 102: Monday Catch Up

I obviously wore myself out with all that shopping yesterday because I overslept this morning. 

It's the start of the local Christmas Tree Festival today and the band is entering a tree. The children have made the decorations and I'm meeting with some of the players later this afternoon to set our tree up in the church. Unfortunately I forgot to bring all the decorations home with me on Saturday so as a priority I had to call into the Town Hall (where the band is based) and collect everything so that I didn't upset any of the children by failing to use their home made decorations ... the glitter and glue is still wet on some of them and they're all sticking together, but that's the joy of working with young children!  

the tall building with the clock tower is the Town Hall, now an arts centre

I think the rest of the afternoon will be taken up with packing away all of my goodies from yesterday's birthday/shopping trip. Probably as a result of the depression I've been putting off buying things for the home so yesterday was all about choosing what I wanted. For the dining room I've bought the picture shelf, picture frames and plant stand I've been wanting for a long time. In the kitchen I've replaced my dinner service and cutlery, bought some extra mugs to match the dinner service, some replacement cooking utensils and a (long overdue) recycling bin. I found two lampshades I like for the playroom upstairs, plus a waste paper bin and for the small bedroom I managed to get a duvet set to fit in with my chosen colour scheme. Even though I haven't started using any of it yet, I can feel the 'relief' of breaking through that wall to treat myself to things I wanted/needed. It's another big leap forward on the recovery front!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Day 101: A Special Day

I've spent the day with Julie, indulging in some serious retail therapy in The Range and IKEA in Bristol. I've bought loads of things I wanted for my home and am totally happy with my choices. Here's a photo of a new throw - taken on my phone with no flash, so apologies for the poor quality. I'll tell you about all the other things later in the week.

On the way home we collected daughter No 4 from work and set of for a meal, only to find that our chosen venue was closed! So we opted for a Chinese takeaway and an evening watching Blue Planet. 

It's been a lovely day in the company of good friends with lots of laughs and treats. A perfect way to spend my birthday!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Day 100: Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt

Joy and I are co-hosting another Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt this year, we would love you to join in with us. The only "rule" is that all photos should be taken during the duration of the hunt, which is 1st December 2017 to 21st March 2018. There will be a monthly linky on both my and Joy's blogs, and also a Facebook page is already up and running, so please feel free to join us either way, or both.

Here is the list.

  1. Men at work
  2. Luggage
  3. Domestic trivia
  4. A Winter's Tale (or tail)
  5. Passengers
  6. Wrapping paper
  7. On the water
  8. Silver
  9. In the making
  10. Having fun
  11. Library/Book shop
  12. Stationery
  13. A line of ...
  14. Stones
  15. Bow
  16. A sense of history
  17. Many
  18. Signpost
  19. A pair of ...
  20. Detail
  21. Handle
  22. Symmetry
  23. A heart
  24. Steam/smoke/mist
  25. A peek inside

Good luck, and enjoy. The object of the exercise is fun, so please interpret the subjects any way you choose.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Day 99: T. G. F. B. F!

Or to give it it's full title ... Thank Goodness For Black Friday!

I don't usually bother with it but this year it is a necessity. My laptop has finally given up so a replacement is now urgently needed. A quick search and the one I want from Dell has 15% price reduction plus free postage, saving me approx £140 overall. Add that to the £100 already saved on the new printer and I have enough money to update my editing software with some money to spare. I just have to get on and order it it all now ... using the iPad (which'll be the next thing to be replaced, hopefully in the January sales.

It's not much of a photo today but does sum up a regular feature of my life during school terms ... arriving at the school early and using the time to sit in the car and read. I don't usually have chocolate but today it was essential to my well being!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Day 98: Taking Time Out

I have no idea why, but today was a struggle. If I'd had the choice I'd have stayed at home but I had to teach this afternoon, so I had to force myself to get ready and make the journey. As it turned out it, there wasn't the usual heavy traffic in Devizes so I had time for a walk around the wharf. Just a few minutes, but long enough to get some fresh air on a cold but sunny day.

I'm home now, in my dressing gown at 5 pm and looking forward to a quiet night in! 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Day 97: Ladies Who Lunch!

I met Joy for lunch today to agree the final list for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt which will start on Friday 1st December 2017 and finish on Wednesday 21st March 2018. 

The photo looks a bit odd as I used my phone to take a photo through the window and I've picked up the reflection of the curtains and the lights. It was too cold to go out and take the photo, or it may have been because I was feeling lazy after a very filling lunch!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Day 96: My New Toy

I've finally got my act together and bought a new printer. This one has the ecotanks of ink, filled from bottles, rather than the small expensive ink cartridges and is a much cheaper system to run. I've used bulk ink tanks on my previous printers, but as add-on systems, whereas this one has the bulk tanks integral to the printer. It's only 4 colour printing rather than the 6 colour printing I'm used to but, with improvements in the quality of the inks and the actual printing capabilities, I'm hoping that the difference won't be too obvious. It was a black-tag purchase in Currys, reduced by £100, and is also a scanner and copier. I'm treating it as an early Christmas present to myself!

Changing the subject, I've added word verification to comments as I'm getting lots of spam comments. I can't see what form the word verification takes so if it is a problem, please will you let me know. I'm hoping it is the sort where you just have to check a box to say you are not a robot.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Day 95: The Last Leaf!

The last leaf on the crab apple tree ... sort of sums up how the garden is looking!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Day 93: Bye Bye Patio

Where did all this cold weather come from? At least I didn't have to de-ice the car this morning, which was just as well as I was late leaving home. I think I can safely say that I won't be sitting out on the patio again for the next few months. 

The patio furniture has been one of my better buys and has been well used. I'd planned to move it into the garage during the winter months but that's not going to happen this year as I'm storing all the spare tubas and trombones for the band, so there is no room to move let alone find room for the table and seats.

I've finally managed to clear some of the garden - you can see the bags filled with the results of my labours lined up against the garage wall, waiting to go to the skip next week. There's still plenty to do but I'm feeling more confident of getting it done now. I have next week to get it finished and then we're into the carol playing season when there will be no time for anything but Christmas music ... best time of the year!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Day 92: Autumn Colour

This is the view from the window in the smallest bedroom, looking out from the back of the house. It's swiftly becoming a favourite place from which I can admire the view and just take time to appreciate the 'now'. There's still plenty of autumn colour to please the eye.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Day 91: Honeysuckle

If the weather plays nicely at the weekend I'll be cutting the honeysuckle back to the fence, and then will try to keep it contained. Someone suggested training it along the top of the fence but I don't know how successful that would be, but may be worth a try.

It's quite a simple day today with a bit of housework this morning, teaching this afternoon, and this evening I'm trying to finish the latest book for the book group. It's 'A Line of Blood' by Ben McPherson and, although I was really looking forward to reading it, I'm not enjoying it at all. 

Yesterday's theatre trip to see 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' gets a big thumbs up. I had a look online when I got home to see what else is happening locally and discovered that there is a touring production of 'Kinky Boots' at Bristol Hippodrome in 2019 so I've booked a seat to see that. I've tried to see it every time I've done a theatre trip to London but have always been unsuccessful in getting a good seat - this time I'm front row in the Grand Circle so it pays to plan ahead!!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Day 90: An Afternoon Treat

I've been wanting to see a stage production of this show for years. Really excited!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Day 89: Raindrops

I've chosen the same subject as Maggie today - great minds think alike! Although in my case it was because there is a distinct lack of interest in the garden at the moment. Still a bit of autumn colour and the violas, but no shrubs doing interesting things so any suggestions for smallish shrubs which will flower/have berries at this time of the year will be very much appreciated.

I'm waiting in for a delivery for the band. I've ordered two brand new cornets for the juniors so will be preparing them for playing as soon as they arrive, ready to be issued on Saturday. I have 90 minutes teaching in a local school this afternoon and then that's it for the day. Tonight, I'd like to do a bit more sorting/clearing out and then a bit more research on my family tree.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Day 88: Night Photography

A very late post tonight as I've been on a photography course, all to do with night photography. Part of the course involved a walk around Corsham to practice everything we'd been learning.

Here's one of my first attempts ...

Night photography is something I've always struggled with so I'm pleased with the detail I've managed to capture in this image. Not bad for starters!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Day 87: My Sunday Photo

for once I was up early enough to photograph the sunrise this morning!


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Friday, 10 November 2017

Day 85: Thank Goodness It's Friday!

Luckily I didn't have much to do today as I managed less than 4 hours sleep last night and am shattered. I've no idea why I didn't sleep well but the lack of sleep has meant that I've had one of those sickly headaches all day. When I tell you that my only work commitment was to run two 30 minute recorder playing clubs at lunch time, you may have some idea of how I felt for most of the day!

I'd arranged to meet with L for lunch on my way home from Calne, and as I still had to eat, I didn't cancel. This proved to be the best decision of the day and once I'd eaten the roast lamb meal I'd chosen, I was starting to feel a bit more human again.

Then home, a soak in the bath and coffee out of my new mug. 

My only plans for this evening are an early night and, hopefully, plenty of sleep.