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Joys in June

June was mostly spent in the office so this is a rather shorter post than usual. There is only so much joy that can be found in working all the hours God sends to successfully get a Bill through Commons Commitee.

TV night with mum and sister – we might get to the end of the last series of Call the Midwife before the next one starts

L’s Housewarming

The lemon curd Victoria sponge I baked – it looked good I didn’t taste it but it sold at the charity Garden party very quickly which flattered me

The arrival of my new to me audio books

Wine tasting at Vinopolis

Work drinks

The exuberant Labrador in the park

D the podiatrist sorting out my sore foot. I had been to the hospital for follow up. They cheerfully announced what needed to be done then said the NHS wasn’t allowed to do it. I made an appointment with D who promptly sorted it out for me.

On the advice of the podiatrist I’ve been taking short evening walks to help strengthen the ankle I had surgery on. I’ve really enjoyed rediscovering old haunts and the familiar beauty of my town which all too often I take for granted bit I’ve been wandering around Gravel Pit Lane, The Long Pond and the Winter Gardens and remembered how beautiful it is here. It’s very easy to forget I’m a mere 9 miles from Big Ben.

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The beautiful but complacent tabby cat basking in the sun on the roof of his owners car

The cottage style garden in St James Park especially the Peonies and Lupins
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Father’s Day BBQ with four homemade Puddings

Long, light mild evenings have filled me with happiness I was never designed for dark and cold.

Nicola Upson is a glorious find a completely new author to me.

Lunch with A

Work I’m actually helping to make history and its work I can be proud of

My baby niece not only recognised me she wanted me to play with her. Obviously I obliged.

No Offence on the TV – scary and haunted me a little but good

My sweet peas are growing

Dinner with L and K

The view across the park I always forget how high up we are but as I wander across the park I can see right across towards Westminster and the City and the London Eye, the Shard and Canary Wharf are silhouetted across the sky.

The Met Police who were very kind to me after a nasty surprise.

Brick Lane Curry with L, K and H

The three cocktails H and K poured into me to calm my nerves after the nasty surprise.

My new Hydrangea

A small gift from my Director for doing a good job

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A very peaceful and productive Sunday after a long week

Watching the sunsets and a fabulous moon

The fab veggie carbonara I cooked

Mary Berry’s bean salad from her Absolute Favourites series – summer work lunches sorted.

The Clangers I thought I remembered The Clangers from the first time around but the run stopped several years before I was born so either I saw repeats or we had a video. However it is as gentle a series as I remember and very soothing when viewed while drinking tea after a very long day at the office.

PS: I know entries without photos are deadly dull but at the moment WordPress won’t let me load any. I will try to edit these later.

The things that made May happy

Somehow it’s July already and I still haven’t written about May. That’s incredibly lax of me although in my defence I’ve been very very busy in the last six weeks or so but here are the things that made May a pleasant month.

Work drinkies

9 consecutive glorious days off I usually have time off at Easter but changed job so could not. Aside from the 5 days I had off sick post orthopaedic surgery this was the first break show Christmas and I was ready for it.

Nellie’s birthday tea

Drinks at my godparents

Finding a pool where I can get in and out of the water easily – 30 painfree lengths

Spending my apology vouchers on frivolous luxuries. I don’t need posh moisturiser but I really enjoy using it and this was effectively a present.

Glorious Lush bath – thank you E

Amazing chocolates as a belated birthday present

The great declutter – reclaiming my flat and allegedly my life bit by bit. I wish I’d taken a photo of the huge pile of stuff that left the flat in one way or another.

Great Shaun Hunt Mark 2 with big niece

Lunch at the Marine Hotel and a walk on Tankerton Beach with my Mum

Shopping in Canterbury

My new chair cushion – I replaced the flat worn out faded cushion on the computer chair in my room with a tapestry one with books on it. It’s so much more comfortable and looks better too.

Lilacs

Discovering Victoria trains now run until after midnight. All those times I raced to catch the 19:39 when I didn’t have to.

Goslings in the park

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Bunch of peonies

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Clarins moisturiser. I don’t need it but oh how I love it. The texture and scent are just pure pampering. Such a shame that if I don’t have vouchers it costs about the same as a week’s worth of groceries.

House – why didn’t I ever watch this before

Some incredible kindnesses

Coffee with B and the finding of a new and better coffee location

Reading Twins at St Clare’s with big niece. I love watching her enjoy the books I lied as a child and St Clare’s is so much better than the ghastly Rainbow Magic Fairies.

First barbecue of the year

My day trip to Derbyshire and seeing some lovely people for the first time in ages. The view from the train as I went through the Hope Valley was very special too. I spent nine hours on trains for lunch with friends but it was worth it.

Lunch with H

Family dinner in town K joined us

Wandering in Covent Garden on a sunny Sunday

New bath stuff – expensive but joyous

H’s Eurovision Party

Purdah is over and I can do my job properly again

Dinner and window shopping at Westfield with L

My afternoon tea party and ace friends

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My abundance of flowers especially the scented bouquet K made for me.

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Day Trip to Edinburgh for work I even flew from the wonderful City airport and the view as you fly into Edinburgh airport over the Firth of Forth is just stunning.

Meeting F for lunch as part of the trip

Walk in the local park after dinner

Spring in the suburbs – cats, people’s gardens and amazing Wisteria.

First time I’ve been able to go for a walk in St James Park at lunchtime.

Amazing belated birthday parcel from L

The gilded ballerina on the Dome of the Victoria Palace – beautiful in the sunlight.

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Cut and colour

Lily of the Valley

The staff restaurant at work has non Government WiFi which means we can all check our personal email on our own devices at lunchtime. A welcome leap into the 21st century.

Happy discovery that I’m walking faster

A sane conversation with my grandmother

Watching Hay Fever with Felicity Kendall. I always enjoy Noel Coward plays and she was simply superb. I really hope I age that well.

Drowning in stuff

I have ambitions to be a domestic goddess but any frequent visitor to my home will be aware it is an aspiration rather than an achievement.

When my flat was on the market I went in for a marathon of cleaning, tidying and clutter hiding. Ultimately it was successful. I received several good offers which I didn’t accept because I couldn’t buy the house I wanted.

However it did bring about a kind of epiphany why was I making all that effort for the benefit of other people when I don’t make it for myself and I live here.   There was clearly something wrong with that and I decided it was something that had to change. I deserve a clean, tidy and clutterless home.

I’m on annual leave this week and I’m supposed to be resting and finishing unfinished craft and writing projects but what I’ve actually done is embark on a project to improve the home I actually live in instead of planning the home I’ll have when I find the perfect house.

So far I’ve sent five bags and a large box to the charity shop and posted six parcels of books to people who’d like them. More than 100 books have left my home and I honestly didn’t think I could do that when I started. I’ve filled a huge bag for rags and another for the clothes for cash place and I’ve only dealt with upstairs. My landfill and recycling bins are full to overflowing and I’m endearing how I managed to fit all that stuff in my flat. 

The cupboards of doom are doom laden no more and I’m unlikely to be knocked out by falling items from the airing cupboard. When I have the energy I’ll start on the kitchen cupboards.
I’ve composted all the past it plants in my front garden too and I intend to replant just a few of them so the exterior looks better.

I cannot believe how much better I feel now all that extraneous stuff has been evicted from my space.

April’s Happy things

We’re only four days into May and I’m posting I think that might be a record.

I always enjoy April, it usually signals the start of warmer days and lighter mornings and evenings. It’s also my birthday. All the best people have birthdays in April.

It started with K’s birthday dinner and Made in Dagenham a gift from D. Dinner was delicious and the play reminded me of all the reasons I’m a feminist. Barbara Castle and the Dagenham machinists don’t get nearly enough credit for what they did for all of us.

I went to see Cinderella with my big niece and my Mum – it was the best film I’ve seen in ages all three of us had a wonderful time
My Easter decorations I do like an excuse to decorate the flat and I don’t need much of one.
   

       

Easter egg hunting with both my nieces
Going to the swings after dinner with big niece it was  the first night it has been light enough to go
Watching A View From A Bridge with L. I was on the edge of my seat hoping it would somehow have a different ending although of course it didn’t
My Birthday Tea at my sister’s
Watching my baby niece taste birthday cake for the first time – she loved it
I saw a house I wanted to buy. I could really see myself living there. Ultimately it wasn’t to be but it made me realise that there will be other houses and other opportunities. Extending the lease has given me more opportunities than I thought
I did something very brave and way out of my comfort zone. I still can’t believe I did it
L came to stay and we talked half the night
Dinner out with the girls
My Nanna knew my name and that I was her granddaughter it was only for a moment but just for a little while the Alzheimers receded and she was back with me
The sapphire bracelet my sister gave me for my birthday
My little sister got engaged – so exciting
Successful end of year review – I’m virtually Mary Poppins
Fashion on the Ration at the Imperial War Museum
Dinner at Tas
Cocktails at Young Vic
  
Cocktails at Covent Garden Hotel
Shaun the sheep hunting with big niece
Taking big niece to Waterstones to choose her own books
My own copy of Captain of the Fifth
Good work news
Lovely birthday presents and cards
Family dinner at the Turkish
E came to stay I haven’t seen her for ages and we had the chance to catch up
I saw A for the first time in a year when she came for the weekend. We talked for hours, shared confidences and she supplied some much needed moral support

Generous apology vouchers from bank


New to me cutlery – it matches the vintage pattern I already own


Lovely new US magazines mum bought back from Texas for me. I always enjoy the escapism of Southern lifestyle magazines. It’s a world away from suburban London


Amazing parcels from L


I own the  Youngest Lady in Waiting thanks to L and Margin Note Books

Book shopping with Big Niece

On Sunday I took big niece out for the day. It was a long promised outing to spend some money her Grandad had given her.

Her modest desires were to have her auntie all to herself, to ride on a train, to go on the top of a bus and go back to that big big bookshop. The bookshop in question was the children’s department in Waterstones Piccadilly.

Happily I was able to grant her wishes. We went on a train and the front seat of the routemaster was obligingly empty. She quite literally ran to the second floor of Waterstones then sank to her knees in front of the five to eight fiction  section. To my amusement within two minutes she had two willing slaves in the form of the children’s book assistants who rushed to find any book big niece declared she wished to look at. 

She studied all the Happy Families books they had in stock (Aallberg). I managed not to announce that I thought Janet Aallberg’s illustrations were better even though they are. A willing acolyte dashed to find Rhinos don’t eat pancakes when big niece pronounced she’d like it. Finally both managed to conceal their disdain for the hideous Princess Ponies book. They are a shrewd marketing ploy but quality children’s literature they are not. They are also pink and I have a rooted objection to gender stereotyping children’s books. Even more than toys books are for everyone.

After long consideration – Grandad was generous but not so generous she could have all the books she would like big niece settled on four books with her money discretely supplemented by auntie who could not be cruel enough to make her pare down her choice any further.

We left clutching Miss Dose the Doctor’s Daughter, Rhino’s Don’t Eat Pancakes and two of the monstrous Princess Ponies books. I console myself that there is no such thing as a bad book only one that is not to my taste.

I couldn’t help a little warm glow though. As we were leaving a ‘helpful’ fellow customer said to my niece. “You know you could get more books for your money at Amazon?” Big niece looked her up and down and said “I know but I like coming here best. No one helps me choose at Amazon and I can’t look at the books or touch them before I choose.” I’ve done something right.

After that I helped her cultural education along a little further. We visited an independent cheese monger in Jermyn St – her manners are improving she only complained the shop was stinky after we’d left. Then I showed her Floris which she found entrancing. A lovely sales assistant let her look at everything then offered her a squirt of scent I’m not sure whether she knew it or not but she made a six year old’s day. Our final visit was to Fortnum and Mason to ‘look but not touch’. I had some difficulty convincing her that I could not afford to buy chocolates for everyone she was very taken with the displays. Again much kudos to the shop assistant who knew we weren’t there to buy but gave her a chocolate to taste anyway. 

Our final activity was Shaun the Sheep hunting, we found six which was rather impressive considering I’d failed and forgotten the map. I’ve promised another attempt later.

We had a short rest at the Southbank Centre and read Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes. It is a truly fantastic picture book and I recommend it.

Now if I could just convince her Macdonald’s is not a sophisticated lunch choice…

Happy things in March

March was another happy month. Generally there are lots of small joys if you remember to appreciate them and I really am trying.

I made my first trip to Versailles with K and H. It was fascinating however I was sad that unlike Joey and Madge there were no ghosts of the past there for me.

I have a teapot for work – it’s so civilised to be able to make a nice pot of tea and the ritual is excellent stress relief

Taking small niece to play on the swings in the park for the first time this year

Call the Midwife evening with my Mum and sister

Cocktails and dinner with the girls in TGI Fridays

Crocuses

 

Discovering that I can get John Lewis orders delivered to the Little Waitrose near work
A line has been drawn under something completely ghastly. I can’t elaborate but the outcome was the best it possibly could be for everyone under the circumstances
Royal Assent Party – the joy of finally getting the Bill you have been contributing to for months through Parliament
Walking in St James Park – daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops
Walking in our local park
Blue skies and going to work in daylight
Elizabeth is Missing – moving, heartbreaking, unputdownable
Mother’s Day dinner at the Turkish restaurant
Cut and Colour
Comic relief Bake Sale we raised rather more than £200 with cake and I’m as always amazed by the generosity of my colleagues 
Kenwood House and the view of Hampstead Heath
Visiting my sister’s new house
Dinner with H and K
Italian with Mum
Making meringues and perfecting my piping
 
Last day at work. I was very sad to be leaving my fantastic colleagues and nearly cried but they said some lovely things and gave me some amazing gifts. They know me well and I felt spoilt
  
A note big niece wrote herself which said “I love you because you love me even when I’m bad.”
Bluestone 42 returned and broke my heart
K’s birthday party
The other K’s home cooked Sunday lunch
Exciting new job
Glorious view on the way to work I could see so much of London laid out from the elevated section of the railway line London Eye, the Abbey, Parliament, St Paul’s, the Shard, Gherkin, Canary Wharf. Just perfect
My Leaving do – cocktails and afternoon tea with lovely people
Nightmarish legal matter is finally over and done with after 18 months. I can now say my lease is extended to 2150 and I need never think about it again.
@herdyshepherd’s sheepdog puppies they absolutely entrance me. You should’ve follow him
A Catallus quote that suddenly made sense of something 
Dinner and cocktails with the girls
 
Dim Sum in China Town
A new Hamish Macbeth novel to read
The library had the Silkworm and the Third Granchester book – I’ve wanted to read both for ages
I have a new author to read which makes me so happy

Magnolia Tree – when the magnolias blossom I know Spring is on its way

Waste disposal thingie when I was off sick and needed looking after Dad noticed that the thingie that covered my waste disposal wasn’t working and sprayed tea leaves and eggshell everywhere so he bought me a new one – I didn’t know you could.

There are new shops in the local high st – an unwanted pawn shop has become a traditional sweet shop and an empty shop now provides art and craft activities for children. This gives me hope that things are getting better here
D came to stay
My foot has healed enough that for the first time in 2015 I could take my niece out for a walk after Sunday dinner albeit not in the dark.

February – peaceful and contented

February has been another month filled with quiet, peaceful happy things with a few spectacular joys along the way.

I discovered how useful one of my Christmas presents a Vera Bradley wristlets is. My consultant was very unhappy about the weight of my handbag and said I had to carry less if I wanted my gait to improve. So the wristlet came into daily use. Not only is it pretty it holds my phone, cash, credit cards and a pen. With tissues and blue inhaler in my coat pocket I’m good to go.

My first solo adventure was a trip to the Dolls House Fair at the Tower Hotel. As always it was full of miniature delights but I managed to just buy a few tiny treasures for Mum’s house and mine. Aside from anything else I think it potentially costs less to furnish a full size house than a 1/12th scale one.

I met H for lunch and a good gossip afterwards. I’d not seen her since mid December what with Christmas, her busy season and my op.

There was snow. Snow is pretty  even if it did delay my long awaited return to the office. I’m still not allowed out in ice in case I fall. I’m not allowed to fall over at all.

Belatedly I began my slow phased return to the office. It was lovely to see everyone again and they appeared thrilled to see me.

The bank sent me an apology present because they really messed up. The messing up was irritating (and if I’m honest the chocolates were rubbish) but I was pleased they acknowledged just what a wrong thing they’d done.

Launch of Arsenic for Tea and meeting the author Robin Stevens. I loved her first book “Murder Most Unladylike” and the sequel didn’t disappoint. I have a pretty signed copy.

Reading Arsenic for Tea – three hours of reading joy.

Dinner at Côte with my Mum and sister

The view across London from the PDC – Eltham Palace, The Shard, The gherkin, one Canary Wharf. I forget how high up the part of London I live in is. Then suddenly I see London spread out in front of me like a toy town and I remember.

Riding in taxis as if they are little black buses. I’ve travelled in more black cabs in the last month than I have in the last five years. All the cab drivers have been so kind and helpful. It helps that I’ve not had to pay for most of my taxi journeys they’ve been a vital part of my phased return.

Staying with L in Cambridge and seeing her lovely house

My Christmas present Hyacinths flowering

Rereading the La Rochelle books – perfect convalescent reading.

The new Kings Cross – more especially the shop at Platform 9 3/4.

People have been so helpful as I’ve started moving around again. My fellow commuters have been kind and considerate as have most railway staff. It’s only cyclists and mother’s with oversized pushchairs who’ve tried to shove me out of the way for being too slow.

Getting behind the wheel again. Being able to drive myself around again made me very very happy. It was most of my independence back in an instant.

Interviewing Headteacher’s  for the school where I’m a governor. It was a fascinating experience and we made what I hope is going to be an excellent appointment.

The sudden reappearance appearance of a parcel posted to me on 1 December. Next door’s gardener found it in the middle of the bush the courier had dumped it in. Amazingly after two months exposed to the elements the contents were unharmed.

Baby J a long awaited, much wanted first baby was born to some family friends. He’s gorgeous.

An incredible surprise yarn parcel from D – I will be able to do something amazing with that.

Dinner out with K and L

Snowdrops

Light sunny mornings with blue skies

Back to having coffee with the girls.

Pimmy’s new home

Finishing baby Oscar’s sweater

All the money donated to the mugged Gateshead pensioner which has restored my faith in human nature

The outpouring of love and support from all over the world for a critically injured friend. She remains very unwell but continues in old fashioned parlance to hold her own so I’m hopeful that in the end she will recover.

Another family friend survived serious spinal surger. Once again to use a girlsown term it was kill or cure surgery. They survived, the tumour was benign and at the moment all the indications are that it will cure them completely.

Watching a plane take off from London City as my morning train headed to town.

I seem to be back to my normal whatever that is. My energy levels are up and I seem to have my time management skills back.

I’ve made more than £50 selling duplicates from my book collection.

Fantastic and flattering new job opportunity. I start at the end of March.

The beautiful black and white cat that prowls around my parents’ house.

Watching Shaun Evans in Hello Goodbye at the Hampstead Theatre. I had several fangirl moments that afternoon.

All the steps are now in place to finally complete the annoying legal matter at the beginning of April. Hurrah!

A weekend in Paris with K & H to reward myself for being brave and agreeing to surgery.

Finally making it to Shakespeare and Co. So many books crammed into so little space.

I never tire of the Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame.

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