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Frozen February

Very belatedly it is time to write about February.

I went for a lovely walk in the park with E from book club one lunchtime. We had a lovely catch up.

There were Snowdrops in the park.

I met A for lunch which broke up a dull work day nicely.

A good visit to my grandmother. She wasn’t aware of who I was but we talked about her memory book and she was quite animated.

I cooked a roast dinner for K and H.

There was also a very productive visit to the chest clinic – sorry about the awful pun. It was follow up after the January episode and the consultant had several positive suggestions to improve my situation. He is sure I have had what the media is calling the 100 day cold.

My sister acquired a gorgeous puppy. This is Millie a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In this photo she’s eight weeks old.

I received a splendid belated Christmas present from A.

There was more snow and I went to Hampton Court to see my friend H. To be honest it was too cold to enjoy the palace but we had a splendid catch up and delicious pizza.

My parents returned from Guadalupe and we went out for a jolly nice curry to welcome them home.

I had a lovely calm slow Sunday breakfast.

Unusually I had nothing planned for a Saturday and I spent a lovely peaceful day pottering around the house, running a few errands and curling up with a book and TV.

I batched cooked slow cooked lasagne.

On the advice of the chest consultant I have began swimming again and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

My reliable albeit elderly car passed its MOT first time – cause for celebration

I have a new battery for the aforementioned elderly car. It had been a bit temperamental of late and it turned out the battery was the one the manufacturer installed in 2004. It really didn’t owe me anything. Replacing it means it starts first time every time. 

I successfully negotiated with Sky and reduced the cost of my package from £46 to £28. This was most satisfactory.

Lovely Wahacca dinner with L

I thought my car might not meet the new emissions standards for London but I finally made myself face the problem and checked. It turned out the car meets Euro 4 standards and I have nothing to worry about.

My Mum’s Dolls House which was made for her by my Grandad has been beautifully restored by a family friend. I played with it as a child and I’m as thrilled as she is to see it restored to its former glory.

Leaving work in daylight – it may not seem much but it’s lovely to leave the office before the streetlights come on.

D the genius podiatrist sorted out my sore foot.

I bought these lovely rainbow tulips as a present to me.

I went to K’s for cocktails and saw R. There was also a good opportunity to make a fuss of Millie cat.

I went through my clothes. I threw away lots of old socks and tights that haven’t fitted properly since the swelling in my ankle went down. I have no idea why I kept them so long. However the grand sort out meant I found clothes I’d forgotten owning and I feel as if I have lots of new things,

My brother’s kebab birthday dinner – mine were made with halloumi and apple crumble which we all love.

There was delightful Snail mail from L.

I made fabulous pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. A couple of years ago I made the worst pancakes ever they puffed up like Yorkshire puddings in the pan. I still have no idea what I did wrong but I was convinced I couldn’t make pancakes but it turns out I can.

Jolly January

I haven’t posted for ages and it is about time I did. January seems a long time ago because it was. It was a very quiet month but at least this year it didn’t include major orthopaedic surgery. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to avoid hospital but we can’t have everything. So without further ado here are the things that gave me joy in January.

My flat always seems so much bigger, brighter and fresher when the Christmas decorations come down and I give the place a good clean. It’s compensation for the loss of the lights. I spent New Years Day and part of the 2nd restoring order and calm to my home.

I started the new year with a crisp new Vera Bradley laptop backpack to carry my work tablet around in. It may be a small thing but anything that brightens up the dark cold mornings helps.

I also found a section on the Vera Bradley website that explained how to wash the old ones and as my new washing machine has a cold cycle I tried it out and my faintly grubby bags and backpacks are sparking clean again.

There was a lovely dinner out with the girls to mark the new year.

We celebrated my sister’s birthday a week late with Chinese takeaway.

Mum and I watched the Christmas Call the Midwife and the last GBBO with a delicious picky dinner in front of the TV.

Unfortunately the bad cold I’d had on and off since November turned out to be pneumonia. It’s a very girlsownish illness to have but I don’t recommend it. It is about as much fun as you might expect it to be. I was actually signed off sick for like ne’er than when I had surgery. On the bright side I received amazing and swift care in hospital when I realised I might be a little more ill than I thought. St Thomas’s £22m A&E refurbishment was worth every penny from my point of view. Happily antibiotics and steroids were effective and I went home the same day. I had pretty fabulous follow up care from my GP too.

I have had some lovely flowers to cheer the month. Ranunculus, Anemones, Hyacinths and Amaryllis.

There was snow and I was able to enjoy it in the best way watching it from inside a warm cosy flat.

K came to cheer my sick bed and cooked me a delicious dinner.

I bought my first bunch of daffodils of 2017.

I went to see Rent my belated Christmas gift from S. I absolute loved it. The staging and costumes were fab. The play itself was just incredible and a reminder of the bad old days when HIV was a death sentence. We’ve come so far.

I have Hamilton tickets for next year which is so exciting. 

D was in London and we arranged to meet for lunch and a catch up.

I found this super shop front in Percy St.

There was a Brick Lane Curry with K and H.

Cuddles with my smallest niece.

I’m much older than I planned on being later this year so I’m having a big party to celebrate. As part of this I ordered some very fancy invitations. I do like posh stationery.

Death in Paradise is back on TV. I do enjoy it. Crime Drama set in the warm sunny Caribbean to liven up January what’s not to like.

I watched The Halcyon too. WW2 is my favourite period in history although if I’m honest I’m not sure how long this drama will hold my attention.

D my fabulous podiatrist sorted out my sore foot.

I bought a Lumie alarm clock. I’m still reserving judgement on whether it makes it easier to get up. I think the gradual light helps. It’s not as if I’ve ever been a morning person.

I found reduced alostromeria in M&S I can hardly ever afford enough flowers to fill my late Great Aunt’s crystal rose bowl but these cost £1.77.

While working from home I took myself for a lunchtime walk in the Winter Gardens. They are only a 15 minute walk yet somehow I never go and they are so beautiful.

My parents treated me to a delicious dinner in a local Italian.

I took my car for its annual bath – actually it might have been longer than a year since I last took it to be cleaned. I don’t think it has ever been so clean. I’m surprised it didn’t fail to start from shock. With all the Christmas tree needles gone from the inside and the moss removed from the trim it became quite respectable. I may increase the schedule to six monthly washes. 

I found all these books I wanted to read in the Red Cross shop for £7.

Delights in December

Rather belatedly as I have had that hacking cough for what seems like forever and I’ve had a very severe case of self pity as a result. However here are the things that cheered the last month of 2016 for me.

I am always delighted when the Pullman is in Victoria Station in the mornings. I saw it three times in December because they run special trips. I’m even more delighted when they use a steam train but that is a very rare treat. I dream of one day  going on a trip myself but I’d need to save. You can often fly to New York for less. But it makes me think of Poirot and those lovely Mabel Esther Allan travelogues and the Chalet girls heading for Innsbruck.

December is the only time it is socially acceptable to eat chocolate before breakfast so I love my Advent calendar especially as it was a glorious German chocolate marzipan one. I’m clearly ageing though as I found I preferred my small treat after dinner rather than before breakfast. My smallest niece who happily rose ar 5:30am for her choccie would be disgusted with her Auntie.

I love visiting the Christmas market at Southbank it makes me feel properly festive. This year I went there three times to meet people and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Then there’s all the special Christmas reading. This year I saved Christmas books especially for December. There was the lovely PD James Christmas compilation which new. A Christmas cosy crime and the old favourites like Christmas with the Chrystals.

I had a splendid afternoon and evening wandering in Oxford with L. I adore the covered markets. The old fashioned fruit and veg stalls never fail to delight me.

Then we met H for cocktails and our annual dinner at El Shami. I have developed a taste for Singapore Sling cocktails.

Vladvent a one off special event held by another H. It involved the delights of pizza, gossip and a glorious Tarte Tatin. 

I took big niece to the Southbank Christmas market and let her choose a Christmas book in Foyles. This was obviously a serious business.

I attended my friend S’s choir Christmas Concert.

My parents returned from sunning themselves in Florida and we celebrated with a delicious family curry at the Star

Mum and I watched White Christmas, ate pizza and drank sparkling pink wine.

The American Christmas magazines my mother brought back filled me with joy. I do enjoy a North American lifestyle magazine.

I watched the KS1 nativity at the school where I’m a governor. It was an excellent performance and once again helped me to feel festive.

My Nanna was 93. We held a small celebration in her nursing home. She knew it was her birthday and was delighted with her cake. It was only a small thing but it is nice to see her happy.

I attended my Godparents annual Christmas Do and caught up with my cousins and their children.

My Book club met for Christmas at the Festival Hall, there was gossip, wine and the Christmas market.

I know many people despise the Office Christmas Party but ours was a low key Thai lunch and it was really quite enjoyable. The following day we all went to the staff restaurant for a more traditional Christmas lunch and concluded the week with drinks. 

There was a splendid coffee with the girls and plenty of moral support.

I held a Christmas At Home to entertain as many of my friends as I could. It was so nice to see them all.

I received a beautiful new Emma Bridgwater Labrador mug as a gift. It makes me happy everytime I drink my tea from it.

You may have guessed I like a Christmas decoration or two. So here are mine.

We have a family tradition to attend a Christmas concert at the Albert Hall. The Jingle Bells concert is far from highbrow its more like a big party with singing and it’s always such fun. People wear Christmas jumpers decorate their seat with lights and generally enjoy themselves. The atmosphere is amazing. Afterwards we headed off to the Spaghetti House for a lovely dinner.

I had a pre Christmas cut and colour which as always had a good effect on my mood and self esteem. A good hairdresser is frankly one of the best morale booster there is.

Then there was a truly delightful Christmas Party at Fan Girl Towers with L’s delicious Brandy Cake.

I was on leave and able to spend a day playing with small niece. We don’t get much 1-1 time and it was nice to be able to interact with her in peace.

My big niece came for a sleepover – we watched Eloise at Christmas and ate chip shop chips in front of the TV. For big niece this is a huge treat. The next day we headed off for her Christmas gift a trip to the Harry Potter Studios. We both had a glorious day. I enjoyed seeing it dressed for Christmas and she was fascinated.

My favourite house guest Millie cat came to stay for Christmas. We kept each other company particularly when I had a sofa day nursing my cold. She was a great comfort although if I was cynical I’d say she was attracted to my blanket and heat pack.

My parents, godparents and I went to Westminster Abbey for the service of lessons and carols. I always enjoy being in the Abbey I like knowing that people have worshiped there for generations. They were there long before I was born and will be there long after I’ve gone. It gets Christmas off to a good start. Afterwards I entertained everyone to supper.

 On Christmas Eve we enjoyed our new tradition of dinner at Ziyafet the Turkish restaurant. It was delicious and they kindly sent me home with a doggy bag of Turkish lamb for Millie. She loved it.

I was lucky enough to receive some lovely Christmas presents. Some of them were delightfully wrapped to which just added to their charm. We also still have stockings. It may be childish but I always enjoy emptying my stocking.

As always I enjoyed my Christmas dinner. As a vegetarian I have a splendid vegetarian Wellington with all the trimmings. 

There was Boxing Day dinner at my sister’s with the traditional delight of bubble and squeak, pickles and cold meet or in my case the rest of my Wellington. Afterwards we played ridiculous games.

My washing machine died. This was not pleasing in fact I was very distressed about it but it was ten years old and owed me nothing. I wasn’t at all keen on learning to use a new one but I was fortunate enough to buy a new washing machine in the sales and acquired a £550 washing machine for £229. Now I’ve got used to it I am compelled to acknowledge that the new machine is a good thing it is much more efficient and the laundry is so much cleaner. I suspect the old one hadn’t been working well for sometime.

I enjoyed the time between Christmas and new year it was a week of quiet peaceful time to read and watch TV.

My grandmother’s nursing home had reindeer visiting before Christmas and they sent us a photo. It was so nice to see her happy and engaged. Animals clearly still get through to her.

I had a glorious walk on a crisp frosty but still sunny late December morning

There was a beautiful journey through Kent and Sussex on a winter afternoon to see my Australian cousins. It was nice to catch up with them and see baby C whom I’d never met.

I was able to catch up on some life admin in preparation for 2017.

Farewell 2016

2016 has drawn to its close and I know many people are pleased to see the back of it. I’m refusing to label it the worst year ever or anything of the sort. It is just a date on the calendar. Things have happened which I might have preferred not to happen (Brexit for example) and for some of my friends the year has brought serious even life threatening illness which I wish they had been spared. There have been some truly heartbreaking world events but the year isn’t to blame for those things. Dare I say it in most cases people are to blame not an arbitrary date – it was ever thus. The other events were caused by that nebulous thing – bad luck which is always random and undeserved.

In the same way a year cannot really take the credit for the good things which have been many and are still there underneath it all. This year has brought weddings, new babies, new jobs, promotion – mine included and many other smaller delights.

Personally it has also given me slow steady improvement in my mobility because the major surgery I had eleven months ago has relieved my pain and restored function in my ankle in a way even the surgeon didn’t think was possible. I have a year of slow rehabilitation to go but even if I stop improving completely it has been life changing and life enhancing surgery. I’m grateful for the surgeon’s immense skill and the team of specialists who surrounded me to help me get me better – Thank you NHS. I’m glad that from somewhere I managed to find the courage and resources to face surgery a second time. I am also so very thankful to my family, friends and even colleagues who supported me through those first difficult weeks and months. I have my life back.

Nifty November

It is the last day of November and I’m actually blogging promptly. I hope the shock does not make anyone faint. I’m determined to improve my time management. It has been a very busy month. At times I thought I might not get to the end of the month but I have and there were plenty of nice diversions along the way.

Jo March said November was the most disagreeable month in the whole year and there’s a big part of me that is inclined to agree with her. There’s no denying that it tends to be both dark and cold and after Guy Fawkes Night there’s not much to look forward to. I’ve tried hard to find things to enjoy this month and also to practice plenty of self care.

So without further ado what did I do!

I finally watched the end of GBBO with a yummy picky supper and I was pleased by the eventual winner. 

I met R for dinner. I’ve not seen her since I had my surgery so there was so much to catch up on. 

I went to K’s to watch the Fireworks at Crystal Palace. I had a delicious dinner and cuddled Millie cat. We will draw a discreet veil over my extreme lateness because I got totally lost in a diversion. 

My cosy crochet rainbow blanket it’s been coming into its own since the chill set in. Either draped across my bed or wrapped round my on the sofa it’s been keeping me cosy.

L came to stay for a few days. We gossiped and tried to put the world to rights.

I had to go to Newcastle and back in a day for work. Catching the first train at 05:39 was deeply unpleasant but I saw snow from the train – somewhere between Doncaster and Darlington.

There was also a Rocket Snow Dog on Newcastle station

I had a delicious dinner with the girls at the Diner with a simply marvellous stress relieving alcoholic chocolate milkshake.

Day out with H including super cocktails

Tea at Pattiserie Valerie

Hugs from my lovely nieces

Family adults only Dinner at the Star of India.

I finished my epic Chalet School reread.

And I began rereading another series – the familiar and comforting Miss Read books and I am now immersed in Fairacre.

I met B for a post work chat and wander in the Christmas market on the Southbank.

The delicious German Cake B bought me.

I had a big asthma attack which obviously was not nice but they were very kind and efficient in the Urgent Care Centre.

A pink sunrise on a winter morning.

I met K and L for dinner.

Then K and I went to see the long awaited Fantastic beasts and Where to Find Them. I happily escaped into Potterverse.

A morning spent pampering me. I woke one Sunday morning looked in the mirror and realised I needed an MOT. I looked and felt so much better after a long hot soak, a hairwash, manicure, pedicure, home facial and actually applying all my emollients.

There was a joyous lunchtime walk in the park. My new Directorate has weekly mental health walks and I always feel better for them. 

I cooked myself Bubble and squeak one freezing evening. It’s too good to only eat on Boxing Day.

A lovely lunch with former colleagues – good food and gossip what more could I ask?

Our Director bought doughnuts in because it was Friday. Morale soared.

I was lucky enough to see Cursed Child for the second time. It improves with a second view. The first time I was caught up in the story and totally involved in Potterverse. This time I could appreciate the clever staging and highly visual nature of the play. It makes really clever use of lights and scenery.

I received a cheque with nice refund from E.on.

Finally managed to sort out my temperamental mobile with help from the O2 Guru

L came to visit and I now have Anna-Charlotte in my hot sticky hands.

I went to see Austentatious – a hilarious improvised show in the style of Austen.

Dinner with H

A quiet evening of pottering while listening to Miss Read

Finished my Goodreads challenge

Snailmail from L

October Optimism

I really should post about October before November ends. I think my new year’s resolution needs to be around time management.

On the first day of October we made a whistle stop trip to Calais. Five of us packed into the parental car to pick up Prosecco for the wedding of the year. As I am a skilled shopper I managed a rapid trip to Sephora and Maisons du Monde too.

The next day I spent some time snuggled on the sofa with both nieces reading together this made all three of us happy.

After some distressing false starts I found the perfect dress to wear to the wedding. With grateful thanks to my friend H for acting as personal shopper, stylist and cheerleader.

My six monthly check up at the Dentist did not involve anything unpleasant or expensive.

Dahlias from Mum’s garden

One of those lovely picky dinners with Mum which we ate while watching Bake Off.

I went to a talk given by the author of The Long Weekend at the Fashion and Textile Museum and then explored the Jazz age exhibition. L and I wondered if the gold wedding dress is similar to Harriet Vane’s cloth of gold wedding dress.

Afterwards L and I had a delicious dinner at Taz.
K’s belated birthday do at Barbur

Drinkies at H’s afterwards

Walk around the Pleasance

My sister’s wedding dress fitting

I went to New Covent Garden Flower Market with my Mum and sister very early one morning to choose the flowers for my sister’s wedding. I was stunned by the beauty and quality of the flowers and it was absolutely worth the early start. We were particularly taken by the beautiful flowers on the table of the greasy spoon type cafe.

I bought some beautiful Amaryllis at the flower market but for some reason I didn’t take a photo.

Lovely Dinner with K after work.

H’s Birthday Do at Pizza Union

Clearing out my wardrobe and finally gaining some space

I managed to wear my favourite boots for a short time

Pink wine and cheese fondue with friends on a Saturday night.

I made a superb dinner from leftovers

A splendid cut and colour which as always made me feel so much better.

Meeting the girls for a post work coffee and gossip.

I had my eyebrows threaded. It’s an instant ego boost for very little time, effort and money.

My book friend K got married

Dinner with K, L, H and H. H made an amazing healthy cheesecake.

Managing to wear heels for a whole evening for the first time in more than 2 years.

The Victorian skittle alley at the Naval College

I bought a lovely black velvet jacket to wear at the wedding.

Cracked a difficult work thing

Dinner with L at The Diner

My sparkly manicure for the wedding.

The night before the wedding we all went to the Old Post Office for dinner and drinks.

My Sister’s wedding – it went very well and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. They were too polite to say if they didn’t.  I’m not putting any photos of the event online but these are the lovely flowers I brought home.

K came to stay.

Prestat champagne truffles from Liberty – Thanks K

Autumn colours

It took my mother and I two days to clear up the wedding debris but by way of reward my Dad treated us to dinner at Ziyafet.

Super September

I’m awfully behind with this blog somehow real life has this way of inexorably taking over and if I’m honest I’ve never really got to grips with good time management. However September brought its own kind of joy this year.

There was better news on several fronts. My friend’s badly injured son continued to improve and another unwell friend made progress.

I went out for a delightful dinner with H

Playing in the garden with my nieces

K’s birthday party a simple but very enjoyable curry in good company.

Being organised before going away for once. I’m always very stressed before going away but this time everything fell easily into place and I was glad.

Dinner at Ziyafet trying out the new Kaspas in the high st. Ziyafet our local friendly Turkish  was as always lovely. If I’m honest I doubt we’ll bother with Kaspas again. It was an experience but there’s much better ice cream.

Lovely post from D

Lunch at Alberts in De Panne. This is becoming a family tradition and a good one in my opinion. Big niece is already asked not when can she go back.

Walking on the beach also in De Panne

Dinner at Le Detroit again it’s becoming a regular haunt but our meal is always delicious.

Joy of a calm, clean uncluttered hotel room

Shopping in France. I particularly like the beauties of Calais market. Those Dhalias fill me with joy.

A walk in Calais:

How can you beat a Dragon on a roundabout?

The Last night of the Proms
Seeing my fairy godmother and making a fuss of her dogs

Belated afternoon tea

A quiet half an hour reading in the park

Farewell dinner with K, L and S before K’s trip down under

The rain when it finally came


A huge email clearout at work – so very thereaupeutic.

Grown ups Sunday dinner

I managed to mend my much loved crochet cushion cover. It had stretched outrageously but it is now lined and filled with a huge French Pillow and in pride of place on the sofa.

Goodbye lunch at work 

Splendid goodbye gifts

Sister’s hen do

D the podiatrist sorted out my sore foot

A Cheese and wine party very retro with side order of excellent gossip

I have a shiny new job involving a promotion and a pay rise!

Cocktails with H & L

Dinner/ Cocktails with the girls

A peaceful work lunch in the park