As I said in my previous post, I was going to give up logging the small things that cheer me up because it seemed so very irrelevant in the light of what has happened. Then I thought a little more and realised that the little pleasures that enrich life actually matter even more when life is challenging.
I’m a Harry Potter fan and I found myself thinking of Dumbledore and his famous remark that “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I know purists will say it is from the script of Prizoner of Azkaban and JK Rowling didn’t write it but it doesn’t detract from the meaning.
I need to remember to keep turning that light on and I confess I am taking the advice literally, switching on my fairy lights and lighting candles in the evenings because it makes me feel better. There’s something about lighting a candle in particular that to me reminds me there’s always hope.
We have a family tradition that wherever in the world we go, when we pass a church we slip inside and light a candle for my grandparents and late great aunt. There’ve been candles lighted for them in places my Granny would never have dreamed we’d go. I like to think she knows and is keeping score.
And so I move on to the things that helped me through June.
I went to a pub quiz night with a friend who cooked me a delicious dinner. I got to make a fuss of Millie cat and the very friendly golden retriever puppy in the pub. W didn’t come bottom either.
I spent a day in Brighton with H – we ate ice cream, drank Gin and wandered along the seafront.
I’ve started knitting again.
A lovely gossipy dinner with L, K and S
I have an outside tap at last – no more carrying the watering can up and downstairs to water my pots.
I have really quite flattering new glasses and clearer sight.
We had the first Barbecue of the year in the garden – we didn’t let rain stop us, the automatic awning on my parents back wall is ace and we stayed dry eating burgers and sausages while the rain poured down. Later we put the patio heater on and determinedly stayed outside in true British fashion. Picnic in the car anyone?
I had some splendid snail mail: from L and A
Bonus flowers from Bloom and Wild
Second Quiz night lovely dinner, Millie Cat, Gin and friends. We didn’t distinguish ourselves in the quiz but we weren’t last.
Father’s Day barbecue
More foundation garments which actually fit – the joy of a bra that rounds one up and points everything in the right direction without bruising you is grossly underestimated by those who’ve never acquired bruises courtesy of their underwires.
My lovely Podiatrist dealt with my sore heel.
I’ve taken to baking again – I made delicious saffron scones, then I made coffee and walnut cakes for my colleagues and sweet biscuits with my niece. The baking muse is back.
I’ve booked a small adventure – more on that after the event.
My favourite GP is back at the GP practice after a long absence. He did not dismiss my concerns and made all necessary referrals to resolve the problem.
I don’t have skin cancer – always good that one. I had a lesion that isn’t going away although neither is it doing anything very suspicious but it seemed better to have it checked especially as my godmother has had three small skin cancers removed this year. Luckily they are not life threatening and my lesion is harmless.
My lovely Big niece came to stay we had a movie night…and I watched Paddington for the first time. I confess I loved it.
The next morning, Big niece and I went out for breakfast.
Then there was the unexpected excitement of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child i have tickets for November but a friend unexpectedly had a spare ticket which I was delighted to use so I saw it early with D, S, L, K and B and I’m looking forward to watching it again in November. The deal is that like the Mousetrap you don’t spoil it so I won’t. I will say it was a fabulous experience and Jamie Parker is Harry! I saw part 2 on Friday 24th and it probably says it all that for the duration of the play I forgot the ghastly thing that had happened.
Ducklings at my grandmother’s nursing home
Blenheim Palace with H and K. It rained more or less all day. Note to self buy a new raincoat and do not believe the weather forecast and go out without a coat. Happily M&S supplied me with a fleece.
Despite the inclement weather we had a lovely day but I’d like to go back and explore the gardens in less precipitous conditions. You can’t see much huddled under an umbrella. I recommend the ice cream sundaes though.
We had Dinner at El Shami my favourite restaurant in Oxford. I adore Lebanese.
Then there was a coffee and chocolate cocktail very decadent and alcoholic but delicious.
I was miserable about the referendum result so I spent about £8 on flowers to cheer myself up. I recommend Lidl for flowers.
Finally I received a large cheque from southeastern trains as a refund for the unused portion of my season ticket while I was ill. I didn’t even know it was a thing then one of the medical staff told me if you cannot travel due to illness for at least four consecutive weeks because you are signed off you can claim a partial refund. Sure enough the details are well hidden on their website. I followed their instructions and applied expecting them to find a loophole and avoid paying me . However I received a letter saying I met their criteria as having been ‘severely unwell’ – thank you orthopaedic surgeon for that splendid sick note – and my cheque for six weeks refund would follow and it did!
It seems I live in interesting times. Work wise we are in an odd sort of limbo which makes purdah seem like a mini break. The official line is keep calm and carry on and so I’m endeavouring to do just that. The odd thing is that for all I see BREXIT as a personal disaster, professionally it could create some fascinating opportunities. As Pa Ingalls said there’s no great loss without some small gain.
I am still sad and anxious but the nation is spoken and I will have to make the best of it along with 48% of those who bothered to vote.
So I pulled myself together and took my late Granny’s advice. She used to say “Sometimes you need to forget how miserable you are and just do something anything.” Mind you Granny qualified this advice by saying “You may still be miserable but at least you’ll be miserable with clean dishes and clean clothes to wear.” She saw her mother in law die in front of her in the Blitz, cleared up the mess in the house, then went to work so Granny knew a thing or two about facing adversity.
So with her advice in mind, I made a long to do list and then set to it, I cleaned my house, did the laundry, made a meal plan, bought groceries and packed some parcels. There is a certain comfort that comes from making order out of chaos and following simple routines. If I’m honest my life does run more smoothly if I stay on top of domestic tasks and actually do my life admin in good time.
Then I devoted some time to personal grooming and took advantage of Elinor Brent Dyer’s excellent advice and ‘shampooed’ my hair. It was just a shame that I couldn’t do as Madge did and get a professional to do it for me – it would have been more relaxing. Brent Dyer knew what she was talking about, it is easier to face bad news when you look and feel better.
I’m trying hard to be strong and independent rather than the spineless jelly fish I was on Friday.
I was going to stop listing the things that made me happy and then I realised that in uncertain times the small simple pleasures matter more than ever.
So I’ve indulged myself with tea in my favourite mugs or cups and saucers, hot bubble baths, candles and flowers.
As I said to a select group on Friday however ghastly it seems I have amazing, kind, tolerant friends and there will always be theatre, flowers, Gin, books and cats. I’m considering if there’s anyway I can have a kitten.
The sun will go on rising and setting and we will find a way forward even if it is not the way we planned.
Today I woke up to news I had prayed wouldn’t happen. This is democracy but I cannot say I like the outcome.
I am no nationalist. I believe we are better together, stronger together, kinder together and I fear this will break more than three hundred years of Union which would be a tragedy.
I am afraid of what we will become. It was a vote for insularity, for selfishness, for greed. I am ashamed of my compatriots.i
Now all I can do is hope for the best and maybe stock up on tinned food.
So another month has been and gone 2016 is flying by.
I managed to wear proper shoes for the first time in six months. One day I’ll wear heels again.
I attended a friend’s daughter’s first communion and a rather splendid party afterwards which involved excellent company and a surfeit of Prosecco.
There were three lovely dogs whom I played with.
There was a bank holiday and I had no plans so I went to the Tarn – a park on the other side of town and wandered around in the sunshine. It has a historic ice house, the tarn that gives the park its name although one rarely finds a tarn in the south. There were bluebells, primroses, camellias and ducklings.
I had my first trip to Bluewater since I had surgery and I managed to drive there and back again.
I bought a new bra which is a pretty colour and actually fits – always a joy.
I found Felix the Huddersfield Station Cat on Facebook and she is a daily dose of happiness.
Palmerston the FCO cat I found Palmerston on Twitter and he also makes me happy. I like cats in case you hadn’t realised.
I went to L’s 40th party. I intended to stay an hour and left after midnight. There was Prosecco and a Take That tribute band. I fell into bad company and danced for the first time since K’s wedding last October. I was very stiff and sore the next day but it was absolutely worth it.
I’ve benefited from much kindness and support from myriad colleagues.
There was a splendid Cut and Colour which was a big boost as always.
Flowers from S part 2. The birthday present that goes on giving.
I finally made it to the Bagpuss exhibition at the V&A. It’s very small and not really worth a special trip but I was pleased to admire original puppets from my childhood. Although I must have seen repeats of The Clangers because they stopped making it a good few years before I was born.
As I’ve finally finished decorating my dolls house, I went to the Dolls House Festival in Kensington. There were incredible and very expensive things there. There was some 1/12 scale furniture that cost more than a full size item for my flat would have cost. I bought myself a few treats but I was as restrained as possible. I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but I’ve decided my small house will be set around the time of The Queen’s Coronation so June 1953.
I had a movie night with big niece. I was babysitting and as it wasn’t a school night I decided to be an indulgent auntie. Instead of trying to battle about bedtime I suggested we curl up on the sofa with a DVD. So we watched Harry Potter, ate popcorn and had a lovely evening together. At the end of the film she went willingly to bed and straight to sleep. A win, win situation really.
There was a delicious Curry with H and K … and a pizza lunch with another H & K
A peaceful Sunday evening when I did nothing apart from relax with a book. Bliss!
I went for a lunchtime walk in the park with a colleague – my first of the year.
I’m loving the long light evenings.
Amazing snail mail from L.
TGI Fridays with K and L
Lily of the Valley
A little gift to myself – I had some vouchers and it was 20% off day so I ended up only paying £1.10 for my very affordable treat.
Mum’s birthday Tea
I had a wonderful belated birthday present from my sister and her fiancé. My make up brushes were past it and they bought me some beautiful new ones.
Once I’d forced myself to actually go to hydrotherapy I felt better for it. It hurt but in a good way. The sauna and steam room are really improving my skin and my breathing.
Meeting V a local girlsown fan
Amusing snail mail from K.
Restarting my Abbey reread.
Driving to the station because I was using my Mum’s car which has the right permit. Front door to train in 6 minutes – a rare but delightful treat.
My very early morning. I had to get up at 4:30 to take my parents to the airport. It was exhausting but very productive. I’d done everything I needed to do by 8am.
On the second bank holiday I went to Dungeness and Rye with friends. We had a pub lunch at The Pilot Inn and walked on the shingle bank before exploring Rye.
Another month has been and gone. April was the best month of 2016 thus far because slowly but surely I’m getting better. Every day I’m getting a little bit more mobile and I’m getting more of my life back.
I went to Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey with K and H. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so there are no photos. I couldn’t drive all the way from South East London to Hampshire and back so I had to trust K to do all the driving which I confess was difficult. It was a lovely day. Highclere is smaller than I imagined but it looks very ecclesiastical. I was very taken with the central hall. I could see myself sitting beside that fire with my book. We wandered around the grounds and had a delicious scone with cream and jam.
I finished decorating my dolls house. It’s only taken me five years… Next step is the Dolls House Fair to hopefully buy some furniture. Rufus needs somewhere comfortable to nap.
I have a lovely pink Geranium on my kitchen window sill to make me smile.
I have the satisfaction of clean window frames – sad but true. I have some professional cleaning stuff and it was very pleasing watching years of grime melt off my UPvC window frames.
On my birthday I went out with my toddler niece and bought her a sticky iced doughnut covered in sprinkles. She was delighted.
Then there was the simple joy of a couple of hours curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a good book
Lovely birthday cards and presents – I’m very spoilt.
I went to a Vintage Hair and Make Up Night with K, K, K and L – yes I do know lots of people whose name starts with a K – as part of my birthday. There are photos but I’m not sharing them both to protect the innocent and because I hate all photos of me.
I went to the cinema for the first time this year (I said I was getting better). Mum, my sister and I went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. We enjoyed it very much.
I went to see Miss Atomic Bomb to celebrate S’s birthday with K and L. Catherine Tate was amazing. I had an Atomic Cocktail – Bikini Martini with Gin, Blue Curaco and Peach Liqueur it was pretty damn good. Thus far I’ve resisted buying the ingredients to make one at home.
Tea from my new cat mug – S bought it for my birthday
I had a Famous Five Birthday Tea or more an Enid Blyton tea. We all have a family birthday tea on the Sunday closest to our birthday when we are allowed to choose the meal. In truth big niece chose mine but she asked so nicely if I’d mind and I though it could be fun. Mum rose to the challenge and we had an amazing tea with ginger beer, coconut macaroons, fruit cake, treacle tart, jam tarts, egg sandwiches, ham sandwiches, cheese sandwiches and pork pies.
I endured my End of Year Review at work – you’ll be glad to hear I’m not being sacked for another year. Some of my colleagues gave me some nice feedback from my colleagues.
I bought these Ranunculus and Anemones to help my recover from the endurance test that is the annual review.
I had this amazing birthday bouquet from S – I know a few S’s too. They came by post in a letterbox pack from Bloom and Wild and they are fantastic. It’s such a good idea. They lasted over a fortnight too.
I treated myself to a Birthday Krispy Kreme doughnut for breakfast or rather Krispy Kreme did as they sent me a voucher. I redeemed it on a morning which needed salvaging because the transport Gods were not with me.
I went to Belgium for the weekend with my parents and big niece. It was a special treat for Big niece and she had a wonderful time.
I own my own copy of one of Elsie Oxenham’s rarer titles New Girls at Woodend. I never thought I’d find an affordable copy but I have and here it is.
I found a new series to read Mrs Pargeter by Simon Brett. They are light and frothy with an appealing main character. Mrs Pargeter follows the tradition of being an observant older lady with a deep understanding of human nature they are a perfect commuting read.
I have been discharged by the orthopaedic surgeon back to the care of my GP and the physios because I am doing so well.
I had a delightful surprise when these letterbox Flowers from M dropped through the letterbox. They are simply stunning.
I shared a picky late birthday dinner with A
Window shopping with A
Meeting A’s niece A.
Family Dinner at the Chinese Buffet – A joined us too
Several gloriously scented Lush bubble baths. Even several weeks off I’m still pleased I can bathe without the cast cover.
I’ve been exploring various other professional options and I’m contemplating a change but it was very flattering to be told I’m business critical and my current team don’t want to lose me
I visited my grandmother and for the first time since February she had a good day and knew who I was.
I had my eyebrows threaded. I always think they look fine and then I make the effort to go and get my eyebrows done and I realise how much better I look when I do bother to get them threaded.
I’ve been able to walk far far more and the Physio has promoted me from an elbow crutch to a small folding walking stick.
One of my birthday presents was a trip to see Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard. My friend L organised it. I’ve not seen her for ages as she’s not a Londoner and I’ve been so immobile. The musical was simply fantastic and then we caught up over dinner.
I had my first (but I hope not the last) Pimms of the year.
In short April was the month when I began to reclaim my life.
March has seemed like a long month but it has also been incredibly busy. There have been lots of things to make me smile.
Mum finished the Rainbow blanket she’s been crocheting me. As the evenings are still jolly chilly this has been ace to curl up in on the sofa or wrap around me in bed.
There was a delightful Call the Midwife evening with the kind of picky TV meal I adore.
Mum made me a Flower cushion to match the blanket.
Amazing flowers from Pimmy
I’ve found another new author LC Tyler whose Ethelred is the most hapless amateur sleuth ever.
Pimmy came to see me
New smartphone – I think
K phoned for a long chat
My phased return to the office began. Initially I was only allowed into the office for four hours twice a week but we’ve been building it up gradually and I’m almost back to full time hours now.
I got the all clear to drive again. I’m still building up the distances but it feels as if I’ve got my freedom back. I don’t drive very much or very far but I’ve hated not being able to at all. Or rather I’ve hated relying on others to drive me around.
Dad has been borrowing my car while I could not drive. He was irritated by the non functioning drivers door window and returned it to me fixed. I’ve been meaning to sort that out for ages it was really quite annoying but there was the small problem of ways and means. As an aside by some miracle my aged car got through its MOT and only needed new wipers.
My wonderful godfather sorted out the light bulb I couldn’t reach and there was light on the stairwell once more.
I had some of my lovely friends to visit it was the first time I’ve entertained properly since surgery.
I can stand for long enough to bake again.
I felt better enough to put up bunting and fairy lights.
I went on a Sipsmiths Gin tour. It was amazing although I found I don’t like neat tasting Gin or Vodka. I like a mixer.
Erica James (@theericajames) spoke at the local library. She was very entertaining and I have a signed copy of her latest book.
I had a delicious curry at the Star with K.
We celebrated my parents return from Florida with a grown ups only dinner at Ziyafet.
Mum brought me back a big pile of American magazines. I do enjoy a US women’s magazine.
The Magnolia trees are flowering. I love Magnolias.
Oxford with H and E – El Shami, cocktails, fun, laughter and chatter.
The Physio said I was ready to begin hydrotherapy and I spent a splendid hour exercising in the Spa pool and relaxing in the steam room as a reward. It was blissful. Thank you K for going with me as I’m not allowed to go alone.
I baked Hot Cross Buns to take into the office. They lasted around twenty minutes.
I had a splendid time gossiping at K’s birthday party.
I took big niece to a Robin Stevens’ (@redbreastedbird) signing of Jolly Foul Play. She was so kind to my big niece it made her day.
I read my signed copy of Robin Stevens’ new book Jolly Foul Play in one glorious sitting when I got home and really enjoyed it.
I took full advantage of the excuse to put some decorations up for Easter.
I received some simply lovely snail mail from L & L. I haven’t opened one of L’s parcels yet as it is waiting for a certain auspicious day in April.
Egg hunting in the garden with my nieces. Baby niece was old enough to enjoy it this year.
I took big niece to see the English National Ballet’s My First Sleeping Beauty. She was captivated and I thought it was a really excellent production.
There was a proper rainbow over the meadows.
Small niece recognised me waved and was very excited as I approached. I think she may have worked out auntie has a flexible approach to rules and routines.
We had an insane Harvester family lunch at the O2 because our preferred restaurant was closed. The meal was quite dreadful but in hindsight the catalogue of disasters has its funny side. Writing his trip adviser review made my father’s day.
This has been a very quiet month indeed as I’ve slowly recovered from my foot surgery. It has slowly dawned on me just what a big op it was. I confess I’ve sometimes been lonely and I have had ghastly cabin fever. I am not meant to spend long hours alone and inside. However there were still things to be glad about mostly my ace friends who’ve all helped to keep me sane.
On the first of the month I was well enough to start doing some work from home.
K came to see me and cooked me an ace dinner.
H came to visit and brought some glorious yellow roses.
Cuddles from big niece.
Kindness of my colleagues they have phoned, emailed and generally tried to keep me in the loop.
Reading Malory Towers with big niece. We both enjoyed reading about a tea and midnight feast and are plotting an Enid Blyton themed meal for ourselves. We are both in agreement that there will be no sardines however authentic.
The biggest cast in the world ever was changed for a smaller lighter cast.
My Christmas bargain Amaryllis is flowering.
My Dad has been taking me out to lunch at the local Harvester every week. This has helped with the cabin fever.
L&S keeping me company and helping with Sale order
Rewatching Death in Paradise all the series to date.
No more cast! The day it was removed was one of great joy even if it has been exchanged for a huge Aircast boot. Possibly the most stylish piece of footwear I’ve ever owned. I did not pay but cost wise this spectacular piece of engineering is comparable with a pair of Jimmy Choos.
My new dresses from a very exclusive establishment. They are pretty, inexpensive and will help get me over a difficult sartorial patch.
N came to stay and we had a delicious Indian takeaway.
I have a new CD/ Cassette player. I’m aware that this is almost obsolete technology but it means I can continue to listen to some treasured audio books. Sometimes audio books are my salvation.
Wonderful surprise parcel from D a book I really wanted to read. It’s about vintage style and I have some new ideas for the flat.
Watching Vera on TV. I always enjoy a good whodunnit.
Pizza and Call the Midwife evening with Mum
Lovely Goodies from France. I was very sad that I couldn’t go with the rest of my family but some of my pain was assuaged by chocolate, Kir Royale, proper French garlic etc.
Mum helped me move my dining room round so there is more space and I could get around it more easily with crutches and an Aircast boot.
L gave me a book I’ve been wanting to read since I saw it in Waterstones last December.
K and H came to visit. There was Kir Royale, Pizza, Garlic Bread, Apple Crumble, gossip and company.
K acted as my housemaid and did several jobs I could not do. This helped as knowing they needed doing and I couldn’t do them had been worrying me.
Watching Lord Peter Wimsey DVDs. Thanks L.
An ego boosting cut and colour.
An entertaining parcel from J.
S visited and brought more reading material.
H sent something cheerful.
D the podiatrist helped get my raw sore foot into something more like normal state. I begin to believe my slow healing heel flap will eventually heal properly.
I have a lovely Physio and I really hope he’s going to help me progress quickly.
Criminal Case this is addictive and a thief of time but has kept me entertained on the sofa.
Managing to restore all the phone data I accidentally deleted in a post anaesthetic haze.
I managed a short walk outside all by myself. I’ve discovered I rely on walking alone to sort out thoughts and feelings and formulate a strategy to deal with them. I needed to be outside alone so much.
My brother’s birthday dinner in the local Turkish restaurant.
One of my Orchids is flowering.