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Stunning September

Not only has September been and gone we are more than half way through October. I’m still not succeeding with time management. Still there are worse sins.

I began September with a bang. I took biggest niece to Paris for the day – a long promised birthday present. She’d been to France before but never to Paris so it was a new experience and I let her plan the itinerary. We began with a bus ride from the usual starting point for Parisian daytrips the Gare du Nord. This was an excellent bus ride for 1 Euro 40 we saw Opera, The Madeleine, L’Arc de Triomhpe, The Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde in short rather like the London No 11 route we accidentally hit tourist gold. Our ultimate destination was the Eiffel Tower which biggest wanted to see the most.  From there we went for a river cruise on the Seine at her request. I’d never done this before so it was new to me too. Then there was a quick stop on the Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis to admire Notre Dame and acquire ice cream before it was on to the Louvre then back to the Gare du Nord for the 8pm train back to Ebbsfleet.

The following day I was exhausted but went to meet my friend H for lunch and a gossip anyway.

My sister’s beautiful dog continues to bring me such joy. It is impossible not to love such a loving creature and she enjoys life so much we all enjoy it with her. She’s still the best stress relief I know.

We haven’t had a proper roast dinner in ages and my Mum cooked the most fabulous family Sunday roast. I ate far far more than an elegant sufficiency.

The Dahlias have been out in all their glory. They may be bright and blousy – some call them vulgar but I adore them. They are summer’s last glorious fling.


I had some very disappointing professional news and it hurt – but the support and kindness of my colleagues made it seem much more bearable. They helped me to pick up the pieces and showed faith in me. My Director told me regardless of what had happened I am a valued member of the team – many people had said that they didn’t want to lose me and then he put his money where his mouth is and I am keeping my temporary promotion for the foreseeable future.

As a child I hated pears. My parents garden had five big pear treats that dropped a huge load of fruit onto the lawn where they rotted. Mum tried to feed us pears disguised in so many ways and all three of us could detect a pear at a hundred paces and would reject them. In case you are wondering – pear wine is only fit to clean drains, pears dipped in chocolate is underwhelming. Apple crumble is far superior to pear crumple etc. However this time she served pears poached in red wine sweetened with honey and delicately spiced with cinnamon, orange peel and vanilla pods. Basically it is pears in mulled wine and my adult palate adored it. I wasn’t the only one  – war was almost declared over the second helpings.

I have lived in my flat for nearly 13 years finally I not only have an outside tap I also have a short length of hosepipe which means I can water all my outside pots in minutes and with such ease. It’s a small practical thing but it has improved my life so much.

Zapf Creations proved to have wonderful customer service. My sister’s naughty puppy thought the spoon that came with our niece’s new Baby Born Doll (expensive birthday present) was a tasty and delicious treat. We tried to no avail to replace it in the shops and online. I emailed the manufacturer. The next week a parcel arrived containing two replacement spoons and a lovely note hoping that the puppy was unharmed by her unorthodox snack.

Recently the office had a big reorganisation and prior to it we had to have a big declutter as they took many of our storage cupboards away. It was a very painful process but there is a certain amount of satisfaction in filling numerous confidential waste sacks and sending decades old files away to the file store. I found some fascinating things at the back of cupboards and the bottom of drawers.

There were some glorious golden mellow autumn mornings. As summer dies there’s a certain quality in the light that is indescribably beautiful and impossible to capture on film.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets for The Last Night of the Proms – thank you R and went with my sister. We had an amazing evening.



My sister and I took Millie to visit our grandmother in her nursing home. Millie got a tiny response from her which was nice. Very little gets through into my grandmother’s world now she has gone so far away from 2017 and us. Those residents who are rather more present were delighted to see Millie and made a tremendous fuss of her. One of the carers gave her digestive and became her new best friend. I regret Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are easily bought. Afterwards we had an alfresco coffee in a café down the road and pretended we were in Italy not BR1.

I had an unexpected encounter with the other Millie the feline variety and we quickly reformed our mutual appreciation society.

I had a delightful walk in St James Park. It’s so near the office. I really enjoy going there yet so many lunchtimes I just sit at my desk to eat my lunch. It’s very silly.

I went to a delicious Italian supper for K’s birthday and enjoyed gossiping with my chums.

I’ve worked really hard to spruce up the pots in my tiny square of front garden to make it look nice for autumn and give the flat some kerb appeal. I am particularly pleased with the Dahlia which cost £2 from the bargain rack at B&Q

Unusually I had access to a garden and was able to have a BBQ with my pals. Of course it was freezing so we actually ate inside but no matter we still ate, drank and gossiped happily enough.

My friend D came to stay and we  were able to have a good catch up and set the world to rights until about 2am.

There was a delicious family curry at the much loved Star when my parents returned from their trip to the Eastern Seaboard.

One of my delightful friends bought me these splendid flowers.


You will also see one of the splendid US women’s magazines that my mother brought me back for my reading delight.

I had some wonderful snail mail from S, R and J.

A friend had fabulous news. Not mine to share but I was so glad for them.

I loved the autumnal countryside between Reading and Oxford which I enjoyed from the train.

I met H in Oxford and we watched the Wipers Times which was phenomenally good then dined in a lovely Italian in Jericho.

20170923_141631I took biggest niece to a dolls house fair. She was absolutely entranced and wanted to buy everything for her house.

I will save my blushes and not elucidate further but there was a fangirl moment I have waited years for. My dreams have risen from the ashes once more.

I had to go to Leeds for work. Leeds and back in a day is not the most edifying of experiences but I did enjoy Leeds market. If I worked as close to it as my colleagues do I know exactly where most of my salary would go.

While they did all the work on the office I had to work from home. This meant I was able to enjoy a lunch with my smallest niece. She rarely gets me all to herself and I rarely see her without her mother and sister so we both liked the novelty.

I went to a meeting of my book club for the first time in years because S was going. Much to my amusement my team won the quiz – it wasn’t down to my knowledge and skill…

My father treated me to lunch at the Harvester on pensioners day as I was working from home.

The final adventure of the month was a girls weekend. Mum and I went off on a quest for book locations, dolls house shops and delicious food.

We found Woodgreen aka Miss Read’s Thrush Green and lunched in the Three Pigeons or The Two Pheasants as book aficionados will know it.

Then we moved on to Blenheim Palace mostly so I could admire the gardens it poured last time I was there and for my Mum to renew childhood memories of a school trip there.

We dined with my friend H in El Shami – my favourite Oxford Restaurant.

The following day we headed off through the Cotswolds in search of more books and dolls house shops. Our first stop was in Northleach a chocolate box Cotswolds village so beautiful it is hard to believe it is real.  The Dolls House Shop was intriguing filthy, chaotic, cold and disorganised yet there were some stunningly beautiful miniatures hidden among the dust. I longed to clean and organise.

From there we drove further north to Hay on Wye in search of more books and a dolls house shop. It poured in Hay but we found a wonderful pub which sold amazing food and we were ready for lunch by then. I made friends with a ruby Cavalier who behaved just like Millie dog and stuck her nose straight into my handbag in the hope I’d have treats. We didn’t buy any books but we did find the dolls house shop which if anything was more chaotic and disorganised than the first we went to.

100_6222100_6221Our final destination that day was a drive through the Golden Valley to Hereford and the Green Dragon Hotel which we had chosen to stay in purely for its book associations. It is the Golden Dragon in my much loved Chalet School books and there can be no finer reason for choosing a hotel although with hindsight it might have been wise to read the Trip Advisor reviews… there’s only so far history, book associations and faded grandeur can take you. The older I get the more stars I believe a hotel needs.




Amazing August

August has been and gone and so has September. As always it is more than past time that I blogged about it. I’m never going to ace time management. As is usual in my experience August had some fabulous moments but it was also a very stressful month. I’ve noted this phenomena before in this very blog.

I nobly sacrificed myself and only took one day off in August. This is because two of my colleagues have children and wanted to spend part of the holidays with them and we thought something big was going to happen – it didn’t and we are still waiting for it. This is often the way in my line of work.

Amazing is one of my biggest niece’s favourite words at the moment so it seems wholly appropriate that I should use it.

So what did I do?

I started the month off really well and met M an old friend from my university days for dinner. There was gossip, catching up and much sharing of cat and puppy photos.

Mum and I had our monthly picky supper and watched Call the Midwife. This is a very simple joy but a joy none the less.

I interrupted my work day by lunching with big niece and Mum. Big niece was delighted because the establishment served pink lemonade.

Then I met my friend H for a very civilised afternoon tea at the Cellarium – part of Westminster Abbey. As you can see we enjoyed it very much…


Inspired by my fabulous birthday party we then went for an evening cruise on the Thames complete with Prosecco. It did not match up to the party but I suspect it didn’t stand a chance. After all we had a private cruiser for the party.

D from Australia came to visit and I saw her for the first time in 12 years which was splendid.

Smallest was three and we had a rather loud and chaotic birthday tea. A toddler, puppy, sugar and excitement is a rather volatile combination but she had a fabulous day and my sister and I got the present spot on which was pleasing. If one is going to spend a small fortune on pink plastic it’s good to know that it is appreciated. We actually bought her  a Zapf Baby Born doll and the bath to go with it.

Fabulous snail mail from L and big niece.

I managed to acquire an affordable copy of Signpost to Switzerland which is another of the very rare Mabel Esther Allan’s and I am delighted to have read it.

I watched Illyria’s open air production of Pride and Prejudice in Deans Yard at Westminster Abbey. Five actors played all the cast and it was the funniest version of Pride and Prejudice I have ever seen. I loved it. I enjoyed the picnic and the company of K and S while I watched but it was just so much fun. Luckily for us the weather held as the previous night they’d performed in a veritable monsoon.

I also managed to acquire a copy of M Pardoe’s “Bunkle and Belinda” which I am also delighted to have added to my ever growing book collection.

To cope with the less excellent things about August including the horrific commute I reread the Sue Barton novels – I’d forgotten how entertaining they are. Yet Dore Boylston writes well for all they are light and frothy she doesn’t shy away from the less pleasant things and Superintendent Nurse has a really good depiction of marriage being a thing one has to work at.

The other D from Australia arrived in London and we had cocktails in the Shard. I’ve known her for years – she’s a member of my international online children’s book group and it was amazing to finally put a voice and face to the name.

Then there was L’s birthday dinner which was followed by another theatre trip. This time to The Mousetrap. Despite my advanced age and being a lifelong Londoner I’d never been and I have now. I will not break faith and spoil the ending if you have not been but I am proud to say I guessed whodunit.

My one day off was spent on a family road trip to Calais or to be precise five hours in Cite Europe. Me, my mum, my Dad, SiL and big niece all packed into Dad’s car and indulged in a little exotic retail therapy. I adore Carrefour, Sephora and Yves Rocher it is possible my bank balance does not… I bought just a few things home with me.


Occasionally I go to a pub quiz with a group of friends. We were all astounded when we won one night. Even more pleasingly we had no points for team names or drawings it was for pure brains and knowledge as the compere said. I felt clever for days!

I had one perfect quiet peaceful Saturday when I did not have to do a single thing!

The really stressful thing was endured and went well. A family friend who matters a great deal to all of us was diagnosed with a very serious and rare illness in July. It was so serious that she was told her only chance was 12 hours of surgery which would mean a week in ICU and three weeks in hospital. There were no guarantees at all and a very real risk she would die during the surgery! However the surgery went so well it only took 6 hours, she was out of ITU in 48 hours and back home in 9 days. She continues to do very well and we are all very grateful. There is every chance that it will not ever recur and this is the end of it.

We had a family day at the beach. We haven’t done it for a while so we had a Famous Five style picnic at the beach – we paddled – I got sunburn – whoops! Millie Dog had a fabulous time. We went to the fair – I admit that that part was pure purgatory for me. My BiL confided that he thought Hell will be just like this! The day concluded with a pub dinner in a dog friendly pub. Happily I used the facilities before leaving as the hours drive home turned into three hours in traffic…

I went out of the office at five to 12 and listened to the last Big Ben Bongs for a while. I know there was a lot of hype about it but they have formed the backdrop to my working life for fifteen years and I miss them.


I had a little evening wander in Crystal Palace Park


There was a very sybaritic day when we had Champagne at lunchtime to celebrate the long awaited (by them) retirement of colleague.

I was invited to L’s birthday do in Barnes but I arrived early so there was time to sit and read by the river and to appreciate the pond

Then there was the delicious dinner itself which was shared with my delightful chums.

That was a very busy weekend as the following night I had dinner with K and her Mum in town. It was nice to see D again before she headed off home to Australia via a few scenic places on the way.

The next day I went out again to celebrate my BiL’s birthday at the Chinese Buffet where we ate not wisely but too well… I ate rather more than an elegant sufficiency.

On the Bank Holiday Monday we ate a final alfresco lunch in the back garden. It was a happy way to spend the weekend.

Fabulous snail mail from H.

The travel horror I alluded to earlier in this post was at its very worst in the final week of August as there were engineering works and very few trains and those few trains were going to all the wrong places. On the last day it was compounded by signal failure. Southeastern Trains how do I hate thee let me count the ways. I absolutely had to get to the office as I was chairing a big meeting. I was despairing of ever getting there when I realised I could get a bus to Greenwich and get the River bus to work. It was a very expensive way to travel but so pleasant. The sun shone I settled back into a comfortable padded chair with a cup of tea – they served wine but it seemed a trifle early – and watched the River bank go by. Pure bliss. PS: I have not yet persuaded Southeastern to pay the fare but I am working on it.



Joyous July

We are well into August now so it’s more than time that I wrote this. Someone suggested after reading this that I have a charmed life. I don’t nobody has – that’s why it is important to keep remembering all the good things that happen. Even if they are tiny they mount up and counterbalance those things I wish were different.

I’m fairly sure everyone has things they wish were different but those things are not always within our power to change. So onto the things that made July joyous – maybe I should stop this alliteration habit but it is too too tempting.

D my fabulous podiatrist sorted out my foot – I know this makes a regular appearance in my posts but D is a genius and worth every penny. My foot will never completely recover from two surgeries (One of those things I wish was different but can’t change.) but D keeps me comfortable and minimises the damage.

My sister’s puppy Millie remains a joy. She loves unconditionally and is so very affectionate. She’s always thrilled to see me.


I’ve been rereading the non Chalet Elinor M Brent Dyer’s for the simple joy of immersing myself in another time and place especially while enduring the discomfort that is my commute.

I saw the Chest Physio – who knew there was such a thing. It was a really positive appointment and we discussed ways of trying to prevent from becoming as unwell as I was last winter. I have several strategies to try next time I have  a cold or am allergic something. We also have a plan to try and prevent my colds becoming chest infections or worse next winter.

I went to a talk on How to Read a Dress at the London Fashion and Textile Museum. It was fascinating and nowhere near long enough. Afterwards I went for a delicious dinner at Taz with the friends who had accompanied me.

Unexpected long weekend – what more can I say. I didn’t have any plans I just relaxed and it was blissful

My “godsister” K got married. It was a beautiful wedding as usual I am not going to share photos of people so this is a photo of the delicious dessert.


They had a Wedding Barbecue the next day which was also great fun.

I had the opportunity to go and see Information for American Servicemen in Britain which was one of the funniest plays I’ve seen in a long time. I laughed so much. It was fabulous

Once again there have been many Flowers. They never fail to raise my spirits.


There was a post work dinner and gossip with the girls

I invited friends for dinner as it turned out I invited so many friends who could come it turned into a bit of an impromptu party.

I had my hair cut and coloured – my lovely hairdresser took a day out from her maternity leave to cut my hair an dmy sisters. It was so nice to see her again and my vanity was appeased – she is an artiste.

There were Millie kisses – if you’d told me at Christmas I’d be letting a dog lick my face I’d have laughed at you.

My big nieces had a really splendid school report. I’m very proud of her.

I have my own copy of one of the rare Mabel Esther Allan’s Swiss School. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Inspired by Swiss School and the fact that I am spending the summer in London and I’d really rather be in Switzerland. Austria or Italy I reread Mabel Esther Allan’s Swiss and Italian holiday novels to transport myself to the lakes and mountains I am craving.

I also own a copy of Mara Kay’s incredibly rare A Circling Star – Thanks to the Margin Note Books reprint.

A chance word from the aforementioned chest physio led me to try Epsom Salts in my bath. I had always thought Epsom Salts were an old fashioned remedy superseded by modern medicine. I was wrong. They don’t cure me but they are an incredibly effective temporary pain reliever. I was astonished I could almost seethe swelling going down in front of me.

I was having a vey fraught day in the office so at lunchtim I removed myself and foung perfect peace and calm in the park for half an hour.

Fabulous dinner at the Real Greek

Good career news – I can’t elaborate because it would be tempting fate it was very pleasing.

I finally saw an American in Paris with H and L. I am still not quite sure what I thought of it. The acting, singing and dancing were all superb. I enjoyed the Gershwin but fundamentally the plot annoyed me.

A potentially excellent opportunity – again I cannot elaborate but it could be life changing in its way. I have my fingers crossed.

I received my annual performance related bonus aka Good girl money. This is not vast riches indeed many in the private sector would turn up their noses at it but it makes me happy and I’ve saved it for next year’s awfully big adventure.

I went shopping in Canterbury with my Mum. The market stalls delighted me.

We drove on to Tankerton for lunch and then to Whitstable. Whereupon it turned into a truly British day out by the sea – it poured with rain. However we were brave and undaunted we walked along the front anyway and then shopped in Whitstable in complete defiance of the rain. We concluded it in the traditional way with ice cream in the car.

Things were quite challenging so I took a Mental health day just for me. I did absolutely nothing I should do and simply read, embroidered, watched TV and wrote. It was bliss.

My big nieces is 9 – how did that happen! As is the family tradition we had a birthday tea for her on the Sunday. Then we all went to the park the dog included.


I concluded the month with a delightful dinner out with my chums.




Jolly things in June

I admit it it's now almost the end of July and my time management leaves much to be desired but better late than never. I regret there do not seem to be as many photos as there should be.

I've become an avid fan of Apartment Therapy in my quest to tame my flat and my stuff! One of the pieces of advice is that now and again when you have a free weekend day you should have what they call 'Suck it up Saturday or indeed Sunday.' The aim is that you make a list if the chores and errands you have been putting off and get on with them. I can't say the process was awfully jolly but the results were. By Saturday evening I was relaxing in an immaculate flat. There was an awful water mark in the middle of my heirloom oak dining table made by a spilt cup of hot tea which I was very upset about. However I purchased a so called "miracle" cloth from Lakeland and much to my surprise it was just that. It took some elbow grease but the unsightly mark has completely disappeared. I wish I'd taken before and after photos.

I love Peonies they are among my favourite summer flowers and they are in season and therefore semi affordable in June. I might have bought a few bunches… I wish I could grow them but my attempt to grow them in a pot failed. If I ever have a garden I will try again.

My sister's puppy continues to be utterly adorable. Hugs from her always make my day. She also had her stitches out and lost the despised cone of shame. Poor Millie had an accident at the end of May but happily she's making a good recovery. Just look at her basking in the sun minus that ghastly accessory.

And here she is composing her scathing Trip Advisor Review because the hotel facilities definitely don't meet her expectations. A mere one paw instead of the five she is accustomed to.

We had a lovely grown ups only family dinner at our local Indian.

I found a few more of M Pardoe's Bunkle books. They are not particularly realistic children's thrillers from the 1940s and 1950s but there's a wonderful sense of place and a wealth of domestic detail that provides a slice of social history I'm certain the author didn't plan. They are a splendid way to disengage from ones commute.

I finally own my own copy of The Conch Shell. This is a reasonably scarce Mabel Esther Allan set in Cornwall and I've spent years trying to acquire a copy at a price I can afford. Finally I managed it. It's a lovely gentle family story set in Cornwall and it's a splendid comfort read.

Mum and I had a Call the Midwife TV evening. We've started watching again from the beginning and it is fabulous.

Lovely Thursday dinner with the usual suspects.

I've booked an awfully big adventure for next year… I'll blog about it when it happens but I've something splendid to look forward to.

The election result was not exactly what I wanted but better than I feared. It's not made my professional life and easier but I was irresistibly reminded of one of my favourite poems "Sometimes" by Sheenagh Pugh.

At the end of May disaster struck my elderly PC expired and worse my backup was corrupt. I feared the worst and thought all my photos since 2007 were lost forever but a local computer repair business saved all my data and I'm so grateful.

I refreshed my outdoor plant pots

My SiL's had a big birthday, so obviously there was a correspondingly big birthday party's. Large numbers should be celebrated with friends, Prosecco and cake so we did.

A splendid parcel from S.

I had a glorious swim

There was an afternoon spent playing with my nieces.

We had the First barbecue of this year. The weather stayed fine and we did not have to shelter under the awning.

Lovely evening read in the park note the beautiful Peonies and the equally charming men in uniform. This was followed by dinner out with the girls.

I had a very successful trip to the chest clinic. All the numbers are much better and my lungs are stable again. I've been put back on annual review.

Took smallest to the theatre to see her first ballet. The Northern Ballet's Three Bears. She was so very proud of being a big girl and having an outing 'just wiv my auntie."

There was a delightful dinner at K's and snuggles with Millie cat.

Father's Day afternoon tea

I had enormous hugs from smallest.

Picky dinner and a second evening rewatching Call the Midwife.

I met E for Lunch and made friends with Monty her canine house guest.

I had a feline house guest as Millie cat came to stay in my luxury pet hotel for a week.

Then I attended K's hen do.

Sister's at The Chalet School arrived. It's a pleasant and believable fill in and it enlivened a dull commute.

Flowers from K

I can't explain too much because it's someone else's story to tell but it fell to me to try to reorganise a non transferable, non refundable event for someone who is very unwell indeed and thus couldn't go. I was dreading the phone call as any changes are completely against the company's policy but the person I spoke to was kindness itself. They bent over backwards to reschedule the trip even though they didn't have to. Their kindness and consideration helped me to bear something quite terrible. Once again I was reminded how many more nice people there are than nasty ones and my faith was restored.

Magical May

Once again I’m posting very late in fact it is almost the end of June – whoops! Time management is definitely not my forte.

As always the first Wednesday in the month was spent watching TV with my Mum while consuming a picky dinner on trays. We finished the latest series of Call the Midwife – about three months later than everyone else but never mind. It was a little sad coming to the end but it was the happiest of happy endings with wish fulfilment and everything. Of course there’s the Christmas special to look forward to too.

I took my sister’s puppy Millie for a walk in the park. Millie and I are very fond of each other. and we had a simple lovely time.


I’ve been struggling with terrible seasonal allergies to the extent that I’ve been attending a specialist clinic at the hospital. My GP saw my desperation and prescribed the magic bullets aka Steroids to make me feel better. They worked and my life suddenly improved.

I saw Carousel at the Coliseum with Mum and my sister. We took Mum as her Mother’s Day present. It was fabulous. Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe were simply superb and I confess to shedding a tear or two at the end.

I had an enjoyable dinner with K and H. 

There was a glorious walk in St James Park 


I also caught up on some good TV – Grantchester, Broadchurch and The Durrells.

There was an amazing moon. Sadly the photos didn’t begin to do it justice and there’s no point sharing it with you because I couldn’t catch the moment at all.

There’s been the simple joy of rereading LM Montgomery’s Anne. I’ve always loved entering her world. Anne reminds me that even when things are far from easy there is still happiness to be found if you look for it.

I walked in the park one evening. The light was fabulous.

Mum and I had a delicious breakfast at Dishoom. I love the pattern on the crockery.


I went to The Kensington Dolls House Festival. I bought this tiny book.


My Dad bought me a delicious Curry at the Star

I have new jeans. They fit and they flatter me and didn’t cost as much as I expected.

There was a lovely dinner at the Chinese Buffet with the grown ups in my family.

I’ve found a new author – she’s a Children’s author but Emma Carroll’s Letters from the Lighthouse is a work of genius.

I received a truly splendid parcel from S 

 There was an evening of perfect calm and peace.

Damien my lovely podiatrist sorted out my sore foot.

Mum made me these for my Dolls House aren’t they amazing? As a Chalet School fan it’s only right the dolls should have copies.

I met H in Oxford and saw the musical of Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle”. It was amazing and I was absolutely captivated. Afterwards we wandered around Oxford and there was a Rainbow but I  fear the yellow crane is much more visible in the photo I tried to take.


Not so pleasingly our favourite restaurant was closed for a private function, however someone H knew recommended a little Italian in Jericho. It was well priced and delicious. Definitely a good find. We’ll be going there again.  

I had a glorious swim in an almost empty pool with water that was the perfect temperature with a proper hot shower afterwards its not often I get the whole combination at the local pool.

I met  R after work for the first time in ages. We sat in the park and put the world to rights.

My ceiling fan, every year as the summer begins to kick in I give thanks for the decision I made to install a ceiling fan in my bedroom I am sure it is the only reason I get some sleep once the temperature rises.

A peaceful lunch break in the park reading

Flowers in the park


Chatting and gossip with the usual suspects

For the first time since I had the first ankle surgery way back in January 2015 I managed a proper long drive. I went from London to Chesterfield and back again. I feel as if I have my freedom back!

The purpose of this epic trip was to meet H and spend the Bank Holiday weekend exploring. We were based in Chesterfield but on the first day we took ourselves to Hardwick Hall. I liked the sound of Bess of Hardwick but it takes some confidence to affix your initials to your new house for posterity. I loved the little owl statue in the gardens.


The following day was spent at Chatsworth. It was very grand and ostentatious and I clearly am getting old because I found myself thinking about the central heating bill and how draughty it would be. One of the State bedrooms had a bath in a cupboard. I was rather taken with that but I fear I don’t have enough space in my own bedroom to emulate it. As always I preferred the gardens. The Lupins were magnificent as were the Rhododendrons.  We were too early for the Peonies which was a pity I love Peonies. The plants were smothered in buds so I think they must be impressive. I wished my nieces and Millie dog could play in the cascade too. It was full of dogs and small children having a fabulous time.


I managed to fix my elderly Sat Nav – which was joyous. I forced it to update and then discovered the main problem was a faulty charging lead. All sorted for less than £3. This is good as I have every intention of driving far more and far further now that I know I can. Before they know it some people will find me on their doorstep.

Finally I’m typing this on a brand new PC. I hadn’t been able to blog on my old one for at least two years. It was just too slow. Then in the middle of May disaster struck and it would not turn on at all. It was too old to be worth repairing it so I have a new one and the speed amazes me.

Amazing April

It’s not May yet and I’m posting already. I feel I deserve some sort of fabulous award for this. I’ve had a really good month. Spring is well on the way and it may not have always been as warm as I might like but there’s been blue skies and sunshine bnearly everyday.

I began the month with a delicious dinner and a gossip at H’s in SE23.

Then I headed home to meet D who was coming to stay. There was more happy catching up.

I went to a Dolls House Fair with my Mum and bought a few more bits to liven up my tiny house.

I survived my annual performance review at work unscathed. I’m always afraid that this will be the year I get found out…

I was really nervous about having my hair done by a different hairdresser – mine is on maternity leave but B who was recommended by 3 of my friends gave me an ace cut and colour in time for my birthday.

My colleagues gave me some lovely birthday presents which were a complete surprise and very apt.

I had a picky tea and I watched Call the Midwife with my Mum.

I was very lucky and had lovely warm sunny weather for my birthday. I went to a Dolls House shop in Steyning in Sussex to buy a few bits for my house.

After lunch we went to Arundel for a rather nice afternoon tea. I admired the Castle and browsed a lovely second hand bookshop.

I enjoyed a wonderful Birthday dinner in a local Italian restaurant ending with this rather lovely pudding.

I had some truly amazing cards and parcels. There are compensations to being older than I ever intended to be…

A came to stay. I’ve not seen her for a year and it was so good to see her.

As it was a very big birthday I had a very big birthday party. It was truly amazing. We hired a cruiser that had been to Dunkirk and I celebrated my birthday with a cruise on the Thames with my family and friends. I was able to see so many of my friends. I loved it.

I had more than a fortnight off work which meant I had some peace, quiet and calm for rest, life admin and Spring cleaning. I also caught up on my reading.

I spent a Day in town with big niece visiting and photographing tourist attractions for something she was doing at school. 

I took big niece to her first ever evening performance. We saw the ENB’s My First Cinderella at the Peacock.

Big nieces had a sleepover at my house afterwards and the following morning we watched Swallows and Amazons in our PJs. Very lazy and a simple delight.

I played with smallest niece and Millie my sister’s puppy.

L came to stay and we had a delicious dinner at the Turkish restaurant.

I put up my Easter decorations. I always like an excuse for decorations.

Surprise belated birthday flowers from my friends.

On Easter Saturday I went to Greatstone with my friends K, S and L we wandered along the beach then went to the Pilot Inn at Dungeness for lunch. Then we went on to explore Rye. We had a lovely afternoon tea in a tea shop that was completely timeless. It was the kind of place the Girlsown heroines I love reading about might have patronised for afternoon tea or morning coffee.

We had a lovely Family Easter complete with the now traditional Easter Egg hunt. We’d even found Easter Eggs for dogs so my Millie could join in. I received some delightful eggs. My favourite was the one big niece made for me.


I had a lovely morning in Manor Park with smallest niece then played with Millie.

Very peaceful TV day with afternoon tea on a tray.

I’ve been taking advantage of the better weather to go for walks around the local park.


Apple blossom 


I had an unexpected delightful parcel from New Zealand.

I had a lovely walk along the Thames before work

Coffee, dinner and gossip with the girls.

My friend K’s cat also a Millie came to stay. I always enjoy Millie!s visits.

Some of my friends came over for homemade pizza. We had a good evening and I was able to catch up with someone I’ve not seen for ages.

Marvellous March

I meant to blog on the right day for once but it didn’t work out that way. On Friday afternoon I was getting on with my to do list and mopping up the week’s tasks before going home early because it was Friday and payday when I heard a voice that should have been 400 miles away. A colleague I like and respect who is on secondment in Scotland appeared and wanted to know who was coming out for drinks. I hastily revised my plans for housework, grocery shopping, blogging and an early night. After all the dust would still be there tomorrow. (Confession – it is still there). Instead I spent the evening in a Southbank watering hole with a lot of former colleagues. Je ne regrette rein.

In a way it sums up what makes me happy if you look at my entries there are definitely themes that include friends, delicious food, flowers, books, pets and kindness. March is no different except that spring is on its way and the increased warmth and light is an additional source of happiness. I thrive on light and warmth.

So here are the things that made me happy in March:
There was a lovely picky TV dinner Mum and I shared while watching Call the Midwife. I do love that programme.

E was in London for a meeting and we had lunch together afterwards.

Smallest niece baked me a special cake which she smothered in smarties and chocolate buttons. It was delicious and made with so much love.

I have a new to me mobile phone. There was an unfortunate incident with the old one involving the loss of a decades contacts. Now I’m recovering from this terrible trauma and have began the process of recovering all my contacts it’s quite nice to have a phone that actually works properly.

I had a belated Christmas gift from L and K in the form of posh afternoon tea. We all attended in ladylike garb, sipped tea, nibbled cake and gossiped freely. Such fun!

I treated myself to a bath in the middle of the day one Sunday. I’d forgotten how decadent it feels to soak in a tub full of hot water and scented oil at 2pm. Pure self indulgent bliss. I must remember to do it more often.

My Mum laid on a fabulous Sunday tea because an old friend from my primary school days was joining us. It was a strange blast from the past. It was nice to see her but we have little in common anymore which felt very peculiar.

I was brave enough to make three difficult phone calls. I dislike calling anyone I don’t know and I really hate it if I have to have an uncomfortable conversation but I did it and felt so much better when it was done.

I finally bought a new case for my Kindle as you can see it isn’t very sophisticated but it amuses me. I also bought a case for my new phone.

I bought an amaryllis bulb in the post Christmas sales. I thought for weeks it wasn’t going to do anything but then it burst into life and was spectacular. 

My sister’s Cav puppy Millie spent the whole weekend with me.

I took her for lunch with the K’s and she enjoyed playing with Mr C and he with her. Turns out puppies can ride on swingboats and in toy tractor trailers.

I had lunch with S and C. I don’t think about I’ve seen C for four years and it was so nice to see her again. We promised each other we won’t leave it another four years.

I visited the school where I am a governor and they have ducklings. I was instantly besotted and when I got to hold one that was it my day was made. They are so soft and fluffy but have surprisingly big cold feet.

I expended a little effort and revamped the pots in my front garden. I’ve achieved a big impact for minimal cash and effort which is most pleasing.

I also met M for coffee. M is an old uni friend and I’ve not seen him for ages either. It was lovely to catch up with him too.

Wandering in the park one lunchtime.

The Watermill Theatre’s Murder for Two. I went on the spur of the moment at the behest of my friend S. it was fab. I absolutely loved it.

L came to stay

I went to Oxford and lunched with H at Al Shami.

I saw some glorious tiles at the Ashmolean Museum.

We watched Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Oxford Playhouse. I love Noel Coward and it was perfect Light frothy and very amusing.

My godfather’s Seventieth Birthday party

Magnolia trees I love magnolia blossom and this month has been full of them.

I looked to one side on my morning commute and there was a beautiful tabby cat basking in the sun on a window sill. It was gone in a flash as my train hurtled through the suburbs towards town but it was a lovely moment.

The calm composure of my colleagues as all hell broke loose around us. The 22nd of March was a dreadful day and we were too close for comfort but there was something infinitely reassuring in watching the contingency plans kick in and that they worked. We were sad but safe. Other people were not so lucky.

My new dolls house furniture. I’ve been carefully working on furnishing my little house.

A delicious dinner at K’s, congenial company and best of all (sorry K) Millie cat cuddles.

I had a completely free Saturday and decided to spend it in glorious lazy self indulgent solitude.  I’d not been feeling great but with unusual insight I realised that I wasn’t ill simply tired and that was something  I could do something about. I’d been reading in Marjorie Hillis’ eponymous book “Live Alone and Like It” and it has a section about how to plan a weekend day or a whole weekend entirely to oneself without feeling lonely or low. I planned with great care so I purchased a small packet of my favourite Rose and violet creams and a Lush bath melt for a truly sybaritic day. I began the day by making tea in my Granny’s teapot and eating a pain aux raisin for breakfast. I found the fab macaroons my sister had brought me from Paris for an afternoon treat. I’ve decided to try and plan in one every 4-6 weeks because it did me so much good. Although next time I will fine tune my planning and arrange a blow dry, manicure, massage or facial or perhaps a trip to the sauna and steam room to enhance the day.


It was Earth Hour that evening and I decided to mark it. I turned off every light in the house and the TV. I have a new respect for those who spent or still spend their lives without electricity because I couldn’t see to do anything.  Luckily I have a kindle so I could read although it did feel a bit like cheating.

Mother’s Day pizza at my parents. A chance to thank my mother, play with my nieces and cuddle Millie dog.

Ranunculus – aren’t they pretty. A £1.25 post Mother’s Day bargain.

I am loving the longer days. Light evenings suit me.

Lunch in Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Lunch with colleagues in Iberica.

Walking in St James Park.

S’s birthday party they gave us free cake.

The drinkies after work with old colleagues I mentioned at the beginning of this admittedly lengthy update.