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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.

January – a quiet but happy month

Somehow we are already ten days into February and I still haven’t blogged about the things that made me happy in January. However there’s no time like the present.

Circumstances have meant that most of January was spent on the sofa. This is because I have already fulfilled part of my New Year’s resolution to sort out the problem with my feet. I screwed up all my courage and allowed them to operate on my worst foot.

It had been a very quiet and quite solitary month but despite immobility and some pain it has not been without its happy moments. There’s a quote in Anne of Green Gables, if I’m honest it’s rather twee but it sums it up “if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it”.

I began the year by winning at Trivial Pursuit. It was more by luck than good management but still gratifying.

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Last year New Years Day was a terrible anti climax. I stayed inside all day and was frankly very miserable it wasn’t a good start to 2014. This year I was determined to do better. So I recruited three like minded friends and arranged a day trip to start the new year on a high note. We drove to the Kent Coast and enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Marine Hotel in Tankerton and afterwards we went for a five mile stomp along Tankerton beach. It was a lovely beginning for 2015. There is kudos but no prizes for spotting the children’s book reference in the photo.

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My boss gave me some delightful chocolates in return for lending her an embroidery pattern.

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Before my solitary confinement. I managed 4 days back at work where I cleared the decks and managed to fit in a pizza night with my Mum and sister to watch the Call the Midnight Christmas Special – the rest of the family don’t want to watch so we always have a girls evening to watch it together.

There was a lovely last hurrah before being confined to the sofa with L, K and S. We had a splendid dinner out and a gossip.

Then my surgery went very well. I’d been warned about multiple things that could go wrong but none of them did. The severe pain I’d been told to expect didn’t materialise. It was almost a pity. I was offered morphine and didn’t want or need it. My pain levels were very low and I reacted well to the GA. So well that I came round and immediately asked for a cup of tea which was promptly produced. The only unfortunate event was that the wound began bleeding as I was about to be discharged and I had to stay in hospital overnight but I’d always known that was a possibility and had prepared for it. The splendid breakfast they bought me in bed more or less made up for that. I was incredibly well looked after and everyone surgeon, anaesthetist, nurses, physio and pantry staff were so kind and helpful.

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If I’m honest everyone was kind to me and very helpful. I had lots of visitors all of whom were happy to do anything that might make my life a little easier or more comfortable while I recovered.

Tulips – the pink ones I bought myself, yellow ones from Mum, Rainbow ones from Pimmy.

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The first daffodils of this year.

My Amaryllis has beautiful bright red flowers. I love Amaryllis they are one if the things that brighten January for me.

My great aunt’s Orchid is flowering for the first time in two years. I’ve cherished it since she died but it hasn’t really done anything for ages then suddenly there are spectacular flowers again.

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My Christmas hyacinths from A beginning to grow.

Kind friends lending me books and DVDs to keep my occupied while I was confined.

I received so much lovely post.

K cooking me dinner fabby stuffed peppers.

P cooking dinner, changing a lightbulb and cleaning my bathroom – what true friendship.

Cuddles from big niece.

Meeting baby R again.

Orchid from fairy godmother.

January TV: Father Brown, Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, Death in Paradise.

The joy of being set free of non weight bearing and the despised cast. Even if it did look a trifle horrific.

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But it was better after a bath

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The joy of my first hot bubble bath when I was released from plaster. I had a Lush bath melt and enjoyed a long hot soak.

Choosing the food I wanted in the supermarket when I could go out again. Small things you know…

The first cup of tea in bed for 15 days.

My colleagues sent me gorgeous flowers. Once I was working remotely from the sofa they also took turns to phone me to keep me in touch with the office and share all the gossip.

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My sofa of convalescence – a complete bargain from the charity shop purchased when my surgeon said I must be able to lay flat. It turns out to be so comfortable I might keep it despite its lack of aesthetic appeal.

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S who kindly accompanied me for a little walk.

Selling a redundant knitting book for a truly ridiculous sum.

K and H who helped me celebrate my freedom with curry and wine.

Thermal tea mug from K to help solve my inability to carry a hot drink when on crutches.

Finishing Steph’s Christmas cardigan only 25 days late.

The lovely podiatrist who spent 50% longer than I’d paid for sorting out the mess that was my post surgery feet.

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B came for lunch, gossip and to help me sort out the horror that is the GGBP bulk buy January Sale order. Roughly 100 books to sort and allocate them.

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Hopping on one foot.

The last twelve days have been a steep learning curve for me.

On the 9th I had minor orthopaedic surgery. This involved a very short operation – I’m told it only took 16 minutes – where a surgeon aka the Great Doctor removed a centimetre of extraneous bone and a large amount of fluid from my right heel. I am at least now sure it was the right decision because virtually the first thing I was told when I came round was that surgery was the only thing that would have helped.

I’ve been lucky. I barely noticed the GA in fact I woke up and asked for tea then consumed every bite of my post op meal. It also has not hurt as much as I anticipated or as much as I was warned it would. It hurts less than the spike of bone did. Frankly I laughed when they offered me morphine after surgery I needed it before not after.

Tragically I am not one of those people whose appetite is affected by a GA I hoped I would go off my food. Sadly it didn’t happen. I dread to think what the scales will say when I am finally released from my confinement on the sofa.

All this means at least a fortnight on crutches which is not so much fun when you live in a first and second floor maisonette and have two flights of stairs. However I’ve learned many useful things (some are just common sense) and now I share them to help anyone else who might end up with the horror of non weight bearing.

If like me you have advanced warning that you are going to be incapacitated, cook extra every time you make a meal and freeze it. I’m so glad I did this as it’s making my life so much easier now.

I now understand why people might buy pre-prepared fruit, vegetables and salads. I’m going for the quickest and easiest solution while still trying to eat properly as I’m sure proper nutrition will help me recover faster. M&S do excellent cook in the microwave bags of veggies in one person portions. You just nuke them and eat them.

If you can possibly squeeze one in put a stool or chair in the kitchen as close to the kettle as possible. It’s the only way you’ll get to enjoy a relaxing hot drink. You try using crutches and carrying a hot spillable drink and you’ll see what I mean. I’m really feeling the lack of tea.

Beg, borrow or steal a large table and place it right next to your sofa of convalescence. Put everything you might need on it within easy reach: Medication, tissues, mobile, remotes, chargers, large bottle of water, pen etc. I have a 4 gang extension lead on my table (purple plastic borrowed from big niece) so I can charge things as and when I need to without getting up.

Keep your waste paper basket close at hand so you can deal with rubbish promptly and not have to look at a big pile of it.

Baby wipes are your friend. Your very best friend. When a hot bath becomes impossible and a shower is an epic exercise, baby wipes at least make you feel clean and remove surface grime.

Your mobile phone can be safely carried inside your bra thus it is always to hand should you fall but not in your hand making you more likely to fall.

The easiest way to transport anything else is in a cloth bag either over your shoulder or hooked over the handle of your crutches.

Small cartons of juice and water are also your friend. They are easy to transport and don’t leak until you open them.

Invite all your friends to visit. When they offer to help accept the offer, ask them to do whatever you need and let them do it. In my case all visitors are asked to make tea the minute they enter.

Be organised: Collect everything you need to get dressed and put it where you intend to dress to save trips around the room. Ideally keep things as close to where you dress as possible. I have temporarily put all my frequently used cosmetics on my bedside table as I’m dressing sitting on my bed.

If I ever have to do this again I’m either installing an intercom system or getting a key safe so I don’t have to crawl downstairs to let people in.

Elinor Brent Dyer was right you really do feel so much better if you can manage to wash your hair. If that’s impossible even just washing your face and hands, brushing your hair and teeth and moisturising your face helps. I add a quick spritz of scent to make me feel like me.

I believe Cousin Helen also recommended trying to be an attractive invalid in as pleasant surroundings as possible. If people kindly bring you flowers have them arranged where you can see them and try to keep things as tidy as you can. Apart from anything else the fewer things to fall over the better.

Accept it’s only temporary and try to enjoy guilt free lounging. So far I’ve read 20 books, knitted lots and watched about thirty hours of TV. I’d never normally be able to do that.

I’m consoling myself that if one must be more or less housebound and compelled to rest on the sofa there are worse months to do it in than January.

Roll on Saturday when hopefully I will be set free. I am looking forward to putting my foot flat on the floor without pain even if that does take a few more weeks.

I may ceremonially burn my compression stockings.

December – a month filled with small pleasures

Not only is it 2015 already, (where did 2014 go?) tomorrow I have to face the dreaded return to the office and worse the return of the commute.

Therefore I’m posting December’s list before it gets buried in the grim greyness of back to workitis.

I’ll begin with my Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar as that seems like a good place to begin. 24 pieces of delicious plain chocolate to sweeten the dark cold morning walk to the station.

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A very satisfactory trip to GP which resolved an ongoing dispute I’ve been having with the practice nurse. The result was annoying practice nurse nil and me – about 10.

A tasty curry with my parents at the Star a local Indian where they treat us like family.

My elderly and somewhat temperamental car has been sorted out – dodgy tyre, stuck window etc and I feel safe and happy to drive again.

My parents bought me back a new Vera Bradley laptop bag from Florida. It’s perfect for work.

Pizza night with my Mum and sister.

Coffee with L, B and L

Big niece’s joy when her present of a Frozen sticker album arrived in the post.

Road trip to Bicester Village with L. I met a Scottie like the Radley dog and bought a new Emma Bridgewater Reindeer plate – seen here with my Christmas Day breakfast.

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We went on to Oxford to meet a friend and the Christmas Lights were a joy and delight. Then I turned to walk back up Queen St and there was the most amazing full moon hanging low over the city in a crisp clear indigo sky. It was one of those perfect moments.

This was followed by a yummy Lebanese dinner with H and L.

The amazing view of the London skyline from the trainline as the sun rose. There are sometimes compensations for having to leave home in the dark.

Posting all the presents that need posting in good time – not like 2013 when I was frantically queuing in the Post Office at the last possible minute along with what appeared to be most of the rest of London.

The nativity play at the school where I’m a Governor.

Nanna’s 91st birthday

The poster I designed for work. I’ve received many plaudits for my efforts

The Office Christmas Dinner – I know these are much derided but we actually had fun.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

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The Southbank Christmas market – it’s not a patch on Salzburg or Bruges but it’s still very pretty and I had an excellent Halloumi wrap with Rosemary Fries.

Book club Christmas get together.

Exciting post I love the sheer volume of snail mail December brings. Twitter, email and texts have their place but there is something very special about handwritten envelopes on the doormat.

Spontaneous cuddles from my nieces when I arrived unexpectedly.

The unexpected view of London as I drove over the crest of Shooters Hill.

Meeting S on the Southbank for hot chocolate and a gossip.

Christmas Concert at the Albert Hall.

Party at FGT. An annual event that never fails to delight.

The Met Christmas tree – the tree in New Scotland Yard does not have baubles it has labels. Each label is a pledge to buy a gift for a looked after London child. Every day when I walked past on my way to work there were fewer labels as those who live or work in Westminster ensured those children would receive a present.

Cocktails with the girls – Turkish Delight cocktail is truly delightful.

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Baby niece in her Reindeer outfit – I wish I could share the photo she looks adorable and had a beaming smile.

It looks like the long, complex, expensive and annoying legal matter is heading towards completion – it should be resolved early in 2015 – alleluia.

My ace friends.

My Christmas decorations.

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Playing games with my cousin’s children.

The annual bun fight at my godparents.

My own Christmas At Home.

Replacing my dilapidated childhood copy of Castaway Christmas.

Lessons and Carols at Westminster Abbey

Christmas 24 – hour upon hour of saccharine made for TV feel good American Christmas films. They were not quality but they made me smile and put me in the right frame of mind as I made Christmas preparations.

My own beautifully wrapped gifts. I really rather like wrapping.

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Learning from last year’s errors and having a more peaceful Christmas Eve.

Reading American Christmas magazines. I simply adore American women’s magazines at Christmas. I had Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, a Women’s Day and a Southern Living. Southern Living is about as far removed from an English Christmas as you can get which is probably why I find it an escapist rather than pressured read. I find the idea of a warm Christmas completely intriguing though.

Christmas morning at the nursing home. I’m not sure my Grandmother knew it was Christmas but she enjoyed opening her gifts and the atmosphere was very festive.

A Christmas Day walk with my big niece and her shiny new scooter.

Some splendid thoughtful Christmas presents from my family and friends. I have plenty to read, some beautiful new stationery, a pile of quality chocolate, Gin, a lovely soft dressing gown, a Vegas memory book and the picture below from my sister.

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Teaching big niece to roller skate – she had some skates for Christmas and we spent some time on Boxing Day focusing on her balance.

Playing with baby niece.

Hosting Boxing Day evening.

Time to knit and reflect.

My half price Amaryllis – I had trouble finding one that did not cost an arm and several legs before Christmas so had resigned myself to doing without then I found one in M&S at a price I was prepared to pay.

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Taking big niece to London for the day to do the Paddington bear trail we found 14. She had a super time, enjoyed eating cake in Costa ‘like a grown up’. I had to drag her out of the large Waterstones in Piccadilly with ‘only three books’ – I have created a monster… We finished the day with a sleepover at my flat where I permitted her to sleep in my sparest of spare rooms.

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Finally finding the solution to decorate the exterior of my dolls house. I’ve known exactly what I wanted for my small Chalet style house for years but couldn’t find any product that would produce the finish I envisaged. Enter an elderly man in the local hardware store who not only grasped what I wanted, he explained what I needed to buy and how to apply it.

Decluttering three large bags of clothes for the Salvation Army etc. if it did not fit and or flatter it has gone. If it was shabby it no longer has house room and if it was beyond repair it’s gone in the rag bag. I can now close all my drawers and am not trying to cram things into the wardrobe. In addition the coat I wasn’t wearing because it was much too big will hopefully keep someone warm who currently isn’t.

This maybe TMI in which case I apologise but before Christmas I was brave enough to go and get the much dreaded ghastly Smear Test done. Pleasingly the result was clear and I need not endure it again until 2017. Hurrah!

I went to a NYE party at a friends and after a sudden spontaneous decision at about 11:45 we saw the new year in on top of One Tree Hill along with half of south east London. There was a stunning view of the London skyline and it’s a good vantage point for fireworks. It was a perfect end to a rather splendid month.

November’s small joys

It’s almost the end of December so November’s post is more than a little overdue. What can I say other than the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So what pleasant things happened in November?

I spent a really happy time reading with my big niece. She’s coping with more and more complex books and she’s currently loving Paddington. As I love Paddington too we are both happy.

I met my friend H for dinner at a rather nice Italian in Villiers Street.

Mum and I went for our annual Christmas shopping day in Canterbury. We had a lovely lunch and I bought the first of many Christmas presents – a fluffy white polar bear for little niece.

Watching the Fireworks with S – even if we did get drenched.

Dinner at Bluewater with my Mum and sister

A three figure refund from my energy company and sorting out a more sensible deal.

Meeting F for dinner. It’s been literally years since I’ve seen her and there was gossip and a Brick Lane curry. A first for her.

My Orchid is producing buds for the first time in more than two years.

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The beautiful Dahlias I bought from a stall in Bromley

My first Lush bubble bath for ages I don’t know why I left it so long. I was even happier when I discovered that Lush bath melts can be used in conjunction with my emollients. The emollient doesn’t lose its efficacy and I still get a scented bubble bath.

Halloween Dinner – it was a bit late but big niece and I had a lovely walk in the dark.

A lovely post work dinner with S and L.

It was a good month for reading:
I acquired my own copy of Maura Kay’s Masha from Margin Note Books
I found the Granchester books they are better than the TV series as is nearly always the case.
I own Maidlin to the Rescue at last
The Mary Stewart novels L lent me.

I am once again grateful to corticosteroids for keeping me breathing. It was an 11 day course which led to unpleasant side effects but I know without them I’d be in a poor way. In tandem I’m jolly grateful to the NHS for fast appropriate medical care (in the middle of the night) when I needed it without a hideous bill.

The kindness of a stranger – she noticed me limping in the high st and asked if she could help. She couldn’t but she noticed and bothered to ask.

Unknown Soldier Service. This is an annual event marking the arrival of the body of the Unknown Soldier at platform 8 on Victoria station on 10 November 1920. I find it very poignant to think that 94 years later people still come to remember. They don’t close all of a Victoria Station down but the whole station fell silent at 8:32pm the time the train arrived.

I’m more used to it in rush hour with the caphony of thousands of commuters. This was very different and I was suddenly fighting back tears thinking about the family who never knew the man they loved lies in Westminster Abbey. And all those others who are “known unto God” and whose final resting place isn’t as grand as the Abbey.

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I finished baby Rose’s cardigan. In line with the new ukase on other people’s children it is modelled by Teddy Edward.

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Finally meeting baby Rose. She was simply adorable and I had a lovely hug.

Cuddles from my nieces

A delicious dinner at K and C’s where we played

My grandmother’s pleasure when I painted her nails

Progress on complex legal thing there is light at the end of what turned out to be a very long tunnel.

As always my friends who made everything better.

Finding Always and Everyone on ITV Encore I loved it the first time round and I’m enjoying it now.

Finishing my fairy godmother’s Christmas present.

Central heating – I have given thanks that I can get up in a warm house multiple times.

I needed to spend£40 to get a £6 discount on my grocery shop. I managed to spend £40.02.

Big niece and I went out for Sunday breakfast and to Christmas shop. We both had fun and I think it may become an annual tradition.

The bucket of tea I was served with the above breakfast. I took a photo but cannot get it from my elderly dumb phone to this.

Dinner at Pimmy’s – uproarious and ridiculous conversation.

A new to me dress that makes me happy.

Lovely soft PJ’s.

The new ATM that has been installed at my local corner shop – a gift to the lazy. I mean me.

Decorating my grandmother’s room in the nursing home for Christmas. She has always loved Christmas and she was so happy when I’d hung lights for her.

Happy Things in October

Oddly enough I cannot find many photos for October. Well I can but they all contain small people and so I can’t use them here. It wasn’t an exciting month like September but one can hardly expect that. However there were happy things in October.

A pleasing mid year review at work – I’m jolly good at what I do and I earn my pay. It’s nice to have that recognised.

St James Park – never a disappointment I love it more now the tourists are heading home

Granchester on the TV. I love Sidney Chambers and must get my hands on the books.

A day of small joys: The travel Gods were with me, clean black trousers when I thought I had none, I wore a new top, had a lovely lunchtime sandwich, there was a book I wanted to read in the library and I found my lost glasses case.

Dinner out with K, L and H

Meeting Pimmy in the park

A pizza night in with Mum and sister

Giving little niece her bottle

A colleague’s birthday drinks

Dahlias in the cottage in the park

The mellow golden light of autumn mornings – the mornings when the sun shines anyway

A good swim

My DM’s which I’ve had since I was a student are still watertight. This meant I could splash in puddles with big niece with impunity.

Realising my judgement is sound I can’t elaborate but it mattered and I made the right call.

Baking again – I’ve not baked for a while for various reasons but it makes me happy when I do. My colleagues enjoyed consuming my efforts too.

My little niece was christened and my mother’s fears of purgatory have been assuaged (NB we are not Catholic but she was Convent educated before Vatican 2.)

Chrysanthemums from the garden

Teaching big niece to sing Singin in the Rain

The colours of the leaves especially the glorious deep red Virginia Creeper on a garden wall on the way to the station.

Preparing L’s parcel.

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Dinner with K, L, B and S

H’s birthday dinner at The Fable.

New recipe book – I’ve cooked 5 recipes thus far and they’ve all been delicious.

Mum’s pleasure in the anniversary present

There’s one more thing to try before foot surgery is inevitable

The pharmacist’s assistant who was very kind and went above and beyond for me when I was collecting my prescriptions while my asthma was behaving badly.

Someone very kind at work who gave me lots of practical help and support at very short notice when I really needed it.

My friends who lend me lots of lovely books to read

Visiting the poppies at the Tower

My niece in Foyles again

Shiny new nail polish

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Two new books I’d been wanting to read. I feel guilty that they didn’t come from an independent bookshop but I was in the supermarket they were there and I felt I deserved a reward for having to experience the eight layer of hell that is a supermarket on a Saturday morning.

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A colleague repaired a necklace which had belonged to my late Great Aunt. I adored her and I love her Venetian beads. It’s lovely to be able to wear them again.

A moment of pure fangirl joy. I’ve no intention of explaining further but I’m very happy.

September Joys

I think September was the busiest month of 2014 thus far.

I ended up having an unexpected awfully big adventure when suddenly the opportunity to go to Las Vegas came up. Most people think of cocktails, casinos and gambling when they think of Vegas I thought of The Grand Canyon and booked my flights!

I also ended up travelling around 14,300 miles and visiting five cities in eight days because I’d already had trips to Croatia and France planned. There was even a brief stop in New York if only there’d been time to leave the airport.

I’m sorry but there will be fewer photos in the blog because search engines started picking up photos of big niece and that isn’t appropriate so there won’t be photos of small people here any more they deserve their privacy as much as anyone else does.

I went for a splendid dinner to celebrate K’s birthday. We ate by the river with a fantastic view of Tower Bridge and the Tower.

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Cocktails in The Shard with Mum and T

Work Quiz night – my team lost but we had a good time

A trip to the Park with my big niece

The roof garden on the Southbank

Mapping the Thames exhibition it was fascinating to realise how little has changed

The glorious view on an evening walk from Jubilee Bridge to Tower Bridge

A wonderful cut and colour – nothing gives me a bigger confidence boost than a really good hairdo.

Dinner at the new Italian in the high st. It was delicious

Two bars of my favourite chocolate from France

Finishing the sampler for my parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary in time and without blinding myself

A happy evening planning the Vegas trip with S

Snuggles with little niece

Chrysanthemums from L

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A trip to Foyles with big niece she was ecstatic when she saw the choice in the children’s department and became very very excited.

Big niece enjoying the fountains at the Southbank

Big niece and the river bus

Evening out with L

Pleasing discovery about the Pension scheme

Being selected as a professional mentor – means I’m recognised as one of the best in my field

Big niece’s joy at her trip to the airport

Dubrovnik City Walls
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Aperol Spritz – actually I didn’t think much of it but I’m glad to have tried it.

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Gelato in Dubrovnik

Pancakes for breakfast

Dubrovnik old town

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Boat ride around the Old Town

Game of thrones fort – I’ve never watched it but it was still intriguing

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Cable car to Mount Sdr

Lunch on a terrace on the mountain overlooking the old town

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There were lots and lots of cats in Dubrovnik and this made me very happy.

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I visited the Elaphiti Islands and fell in love with them. They were just so beautiful.

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I also took the opportunity to paddle in the Adriatic . It was so warm and clean.

I flew back from Dubrovnik on Thursday lunchtime with British Airways – I would like to add that I prefer BA to Monarch who I made the outbound journey with. For a start BA don’t charge me for my cup of tea. Then on Friday morning I fulfilled my promise to my mother to drive her to Calais.

I was very proud of myself – I drove us there and back without incident. There were no tears and no tantrums and I did not get lost.

We went down to Le Touquet and wandered on the beach. There was a splendid chocolate shop and we had ice cream sundaes.

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Dinner in our favourite Calais restaurant, there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu but the chef always cooks me something special.

Calais market, Dahlias, fruit and Veg.

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Carrefour so much delightful fresh food, chocolate and cheese

I finished little niece’s cardigan as modelled by Teddy Edward

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My first sight of Las Vegas from the plane

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The Bellagio Fountains I can’t express how happy seeing them made me

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The Neon Boneyard

Shopping in Macy’s

Making it back to Jo Ann’s at last – just look at all that lovely yarn!

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Watching The Strip light up from the Eiffel Tower Observation Deck

La Reve at the Wynn Hotel this was amazing theatre. A bit like Cirque Du Solei but in water. The stage is a huge round swimming pool. There was synchronised swimming, music, acrobatics and a very fragile plot. I loved it.

I loved the Flamingos at the Flamingo

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The floral display in the Conservatory at The Bellagio

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Eating gelato in the Venetian

The Grand Canyon – I spent about 36 hours in planes, helicopters, coaches and cars and travelled around 12,000 miles to see it. It was worth of all of it because the Grand Canyon was everything I imagined it would be and more. It was spectacular, magnificent and awe inspiring.

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I am incredibly proud of myself for overcoming my terror and going in a helicopter to see the bottom of the Canyon and the Colorado River.

I saw the Hoover Dam.

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The efforts everybody went to to get the Bone Marrow on our flight home safely to its recipient whoever they are. I was inspired, humbled by the way everyone the courier, airline, other passengers, all the airport and air traffic control pulled together to get that bone marrow across the Atlantic to the person whose life it might change. It was one of those events that helps me to believe the best of people and that there are more good people than bad in the world. I might add that bone marrow travelled from Newark to London in six hours and five minutes.

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – I went with L and K to see the cats and pet them. See the cat on L’s hot chocolate.

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American magazines – I love a good American magazine. Southern Living, Martha Stewart they all make me happy.

The return of Downton Abbey

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