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After many days

It’s a long time since I’ve updated this. 840 days to be precise. If a week is a long time in politics 840 days is a long time even in my life.

Since the last time I posted, I’ve been promoted twice, moved Department and moved back again. I’ve been to Las Vegas and Florida and most excitingly I’ve finally moved home. I’ve not moved very far but I now live in a three bedroom house with a garden/ jungle and off street parking. The latter has already made my life much easier.

The house is a project, little has been done to it since the 1980s and although I have plans there’s little I can do in lockdown. I must just be patient and wait until things are better. For future reference I don’t recommend moving in the middle of a pandemic, it makes things super complicated. However, it’s churlish to complain when life is so hard for so many

Speaking of the pandemic, my initial view that it would be like Swine Flu hasn’t aged well. I’m sorry about that it would have been a much better outcome. As someone who is vulnerable I’ve been very lucky. Ironically being very unwell with something else probably protected me.

I caught something nasty in Paris, early in December and could not throw it off. I had many tests and various things were tried and I didn’t get better. I struggled and stubbornly kept going until I couldn’t anymore. On the 5 March I was seen as an emergency in the chest clinic because I was acutely unwell. They did more tests, said they were sure it wasn’t covid because I had no fever – I was closer to hypothermia and told me not to return to work until they contacted me. Which they did on 9 March. They still didn’t really know what was wrong other than not Corona but at that point they said I had to work from home and not go on public transport until further notice.

From then on I only saw close family and I was semi locked down a full fortnight before everyone else which probably protected me from much worse. I did see friends to celebrate the new job one of them had just acquired on the 7th so before the phone all I’m so glad I did. I’ve not seen two of them since. One lives nearby so we’ve been able to converse on the doorstep a couple of times. I haven’t been on public transport for nearly three month.

I spent pretty much the whole of March alone in my flat recovering from what they now think was a bacterial pneumonia. I was not taken to hospital for bloods or a chest X-ray as it was deemed too risky. Covid on top of whatever I had would not have been good. Instead I had massive doses of antibiotics and steroids while we hoped my immune system would fight back. Eventually it did…

I have lots to say about lockdown, mental health and social distancing being a privilege but that’s for another post and another day. I’ve got old and boring and I’m going to bed now.

PS – much kudos to anyone who identifies where the title of this post came from.

Jolly January

January seemed a very long month. One of my colleagues announced in gloomy tones that January appears to have twice as many days as the rest of the months. It was certainly a very very long time between paydays.

I think the biggest problem is it is a dark, cold month and there is nothing very exciting to look forward to. As always I did my best to make a long month bearable

I began the month with a very through New Year clean. I removed Christmas from my flat and tried to make it all as ready for spring as possible. It’s very depressing removing all the lights so I bought myself daffodils, hyacinths and tulips to make it feel better.

I seem to have only photographed my bedroom but cleaning photos aren’t exciting anyway.


Returning to work on the 2nd proved to be an optimistic plan and 9:10am on the day I’d planned to go back found me in my GP’s surgery being prescribed antibiotics and more steroids to ease my unhappy lungs. So I worked from home in the warm (there’s always a silver lining) for almost the whole of the first week of the month. This did mean that I could go and have lunch with my smallest niece and a certain spaniel.

I was invited to a delightful 12th Night Party at my godparents. Almost all my little cousins were there and we had a delightful catching up session.

I recuperated with a Sunday to myself and passed the time learning how to use my new iPod. It was a Christmas present and it transpires it is a fabulous way to listen to my beloved audio books. I can carry it around the house and even listen in the bathtub or the car. I don’t like the headphones it came with – they are not comfortable so I will need to choose some others but once I do I will be able to shut the world out on commuter trains and at work.

I also received a bath shelf for Christmas. This has proved to be a delightfully sybaritic gift. I can place it across the bath – arrange my book, tablet/ kindle. cup of tea and or glass or wine/ G&T and a candle on it then lay back and relax. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve bought a bath pillow to aid relaxing reading in the bath.


I ordered some stationery and a new diary from Caspari and received this fabulous parcel from Denmark. It was a joy to unwrap it. There were two free gifts and a handwritten thank you note for my order. I’ll definitely buy from them again.


The medicines kicked in, in the second week of the month and I finally began to feel better after whatever nasty infection I’d picked up.

I went to see the Sound of Music with my Mum and my sister and we had a wonderful feelgood evening and enjoyed every minute. Rodgers and Hammerstein really knew how to write a showstopper or ten.

I was lucky enough to see plenty of my friends which made a long dull month pleasanter. I had coffee with the girls, an enjoyable lunch with E,  dinner with S and dinner with B (who was visiting from Sydney) and K. Then there was a tasty dinner at The Diner with friends and a very unexpected breakfast before work with D. I’d not seen D since September so it was very pleasing.

I went for my first swim in about eight weeks and tried out my new swimming hat. I’ve resisted a swimming hat for ages – I have very poor associations dating from primary school but my hairdresser has been trying to persuade me to try a silicone one designed for long hair for years.  I finally gave it a go and found that she was quite right and there is no comparison with the awful rubbery ones school made me wear.

I spent a very pleasant afternoon with Millie my most favourite spaniel.

I had an early review form my line manager and it went very well.

I actually completed the Apartment Therapy January Cure this year and I’ve made my flat look and feel so much better than I thought it would. I’ve sent three bags of clutter to the charity shop and thoroughly cleaned and polished. My bathroom looks spa like (Except that a spa would never have rainbow coloured towels but I do.) and my airing cupboard is immaculate. It is the first time since mid 2014 I have been able to stand on a chair and reach high cupboards and shelves to do something about them. It’s not exciting but it has made me feel better and I’ve found things I’d forgotten owning.

This is also dull but has improved my day to day existence. I binned two old worn out frying pans and replaced them. The new omelette pan has been eye opening. Perfect omelettes which slide out onto the plate each and every time. A very simple joy but a joy all the same.

Yet another of my Christmas gifts was a fitness monitor. It includes an accurate pedometer and I am aiming to walk an average of 10,000 steps a day. I had had no idea I walk around 2,000 steps a day just around the office mind you it is almost 200 steps from my desk to the ladies loo and back and 100 to the printer so it mounts up quickly.

I had a delightful day out in Oxford with E and H. We saw Fiddler on the Roof at the Oxford Playhouse – it was amazing and I’ve never had the opportunity to see it before.

I visited a friend in Kent for a delicious dinner and met her gorgeous cocker spaniel puppy. He was simply lovely but very bouncy. I loved him on sight.

I had an unexpected Monday off. I only pottered about but I can report that taking a Monday off in January is very pleasing indeed.

There were Snowdrops on the way to the station – this made me smile as in my world snowdrops are the very first sign that spring will return.


My Christmas Rose is flowering beautifully.


I bought myself some stunning Tulips.


My Amaryllis flowered beautifully


I finally found a new home for my enormous Swiss Cheese plant. It has outgrown my flat and was taking up the whole corner of my dining room and was getting in the way of my guests. I was also beginning to have nightmares about it growing through the dining room ceiling. One aspect of the January Cure is to choose a project that will improve your home and take steps to realise it. Rehoming the plant was my project – its size made it hard to rehome but a chance encounter told me that the local hospice wanted large houseplants for their sunroom so I emailed them and the perfect new home was located.

I went to The British Library to see the Harry Potter and the History of Magic exhibition. It was like the Curates Egg but it was worth it for the beautiful Jim Kay illustrations. I could have stared at the enormously detailed illustration of Diagon Alley for hours. I’m really sorry there wasn’t a postcard. I think I might have to buy the illustrated books.

I finally motivated myself to do something that has been on my to do list for at least five years if not a decade. I have endured the short term pain for long term gain and finally had my mobile phone contract put into my name – it’s been in my father’s name since I was an undergraduate and the time had more than come to sort it out. As with so many things it wasn’t nearly as painful as I had thought it would be.

There has been plenty of reading as always. This month’s new author was MM Kaye. I really enjoyed her murders. The have all the aspects I like exotic setting, cosiness and gentle romance. They helped me read some stress and upset away. I also reintroduced myself to James Herriot – I’d forgotten how well he wrote and read some of LM Montgomery’s non Anne books. I hit my Goodreads target of 23 books for the month.

It will mean little to many and nothing whatsoever to anyone male but I found a new style of tights. They are fabulous – completely seam free, soft, comfortable and warm. They stay up and yet do not feel uncomfortably tight. They also look good. Frankly I think I may have found the Holy Grail of black opaque tights and they are easily available from M&S and do not cost an arm and several legs.

Two people I know had successful major surgery this month and I am very pleased they are recovering steadily. I will not share more details because they are not mine to share.

A friend’s new baby arrived safely and is doing well. As always I will say little about other people’s children as it is not my place but I am delighted for her.

I took big niece to a local Dolls House Fair. We both had a splendid time and acquired a few more delightful miniatures for our houses. I found myself promising her that when the weather is better I will take her to a Dolls House shop we know of on the South Downs.

The final joy of the month was the now annual ritual of Jolly January tea at Fan Girl Towers. It was a wonderful civilised afternoon of friends, congenial company, book gossip and afternoon tea. Really what could be better than tea, little sandwiches and savouries, cake and friends on a cold gloomy Sunday afternoon?

Despite my dire predictions I managed to have a pleasant month rather than the endurance test I had feared.

Delightful December

It is the last day of the month and I am actually writing a post on the correct day. Is this a first? I rather think it probably is for 2017 at any rate if not for all time. I get there in the end.

So how was December. As always it was mostly delightful. There are always parts where it feels very stressful and chaotic and at some point I realise I have over committed myself and I have yet again failed to organise myself properly but alls well that ends well.

The thing is despite all the hype and the need for it to be perfect I love Christmas. I love the socialising, seeing all the people who matter to me. Sending them cards to make sure they know they do and receiving cards. Some people from university I hear from rarely now our lives have diverged so widely and it is so nice to hear their news.

I also love the lights, the colours and the decorations. It is the darkest point of the year and I love to be able to lighten that darkness just a little. Then there is the food. I love food not wisely but too well and there are so many tasty and delicious treats around at this time of year. I fear I will never concur with Kate Moss that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I began the month with the now traditional first Friday of December spent in Oxford with my friend L. We shop, enjoy browsing the covered market and planning our Christmas purchases then meet another friend H for cocktails followed by dinner in the now much loved Lebanese El Shami in Jericho.

The following day I had a very special overnight guest in the form of my canine niece who did not want to be alone while my sister and her husband went to a wedding. Millie and I had a delightful time – we joined my friend K in the evening and went off to a dog friendly pub. Millie likes pubs and made friends with every person and every dog in the place. Sadly she did not make friends with Millie cat. A planned introduction did not go well. Millie dog shook in terror and Millie cat used most unladylike language. It is clear they are not destined to be kindred spirits which is unfortunate. It would make my life easier if I did not have to keep them strictly apart. Later I tucked her up in my spare bed at bedtime. Mille has not yet grasped that dogs sleep in baskets and humans sleep in beds or more likely she simply has not grasped that she is a dog and not a toddler.


Then came the traditional visit to the local nursery to choose a Christmas tree. While there I met the resident cat – Thompson. He’s gorgeous, very friendly and with the loudest purr. He was sleeping under a heat lamp at the checkouts and I paused to make friends with him.


My parents returned from their winter sun in Florida and we had a tasty curry in The Star to welcome them home.

The following day I had a welcome evening at home which was a good thing because in my usual way in December I’d booked myself up for the next five consecutive evenings. The next stop on my packed social itinerary was a talk at the London Fashion and Design Museum – The Dress Detective which was fascinating. L, K, M and I went for a delicious dinner in Taz afterwards.

The next day it was the book club Christmas meeting at the Festival Hall. I caught up with several people I’d not seen for months then went for dinner with K.

Excitingly I then went to hear Hugh Grant speak at BAFTA and he was amazing. He’s aged very well indeed and was both engaging and amusing with a very self deprecatory sense of humour. He said he has not ruled out politics. At the moment I think I could cast my vote in a far worse way.

Sunday brought snow (only a light sprinkling but snow none the less)  and Millie dog’s birthday party. Somehow we ended up holding a first birthday party for a dog and even more amusingly everyone invited bought into it arriving with gifts and presents. Just like a baby’s first birthday party we all drank Prosecco and ate far too much. Just like a baby Millie ripped the paper off her gifts then carefully put the shredded paper into an empty box clambered in and went to sleep.



Monday was freezing and the heating had failed at work leading to much misery and copious complaints. It turned out both boilers had failed simultaneously and we worked in coats, hats and scarfs praying to be sent home. It did not happen. I was glad at home time when I scurried off to join K, L and S for a present swap dinner in a far away Wahacca. Actually it was Shoreditch but that’s so far off my beaten track it might just as well be the Shetlands. However the food was delicious and the cocktails just the warming treat I needed. My mood was vastly improved by the time we headed home.

Tuesday was a planned work from home day – very fortuitous as the work boilers were still not fixed. I spent the morning dealing with work stuff and in the afternoon went to the Nativity Play at the school where I am a Governor. This annual event is one of those Governor tasks which is a joy as well as a duty. The children were amazing.

From there I proceeded to my mother’s to make my wreath for my front door with her and my sister and make a fuss of Millie who was of course there to help us. Actually she sloped off to sleep in a warm cosy armchair quite quickly.

I began the epic task that is putting up my Christmas decorations. I started with the tree and happily watched Christmas in Avonlea while I did it. This little decoration was a gift from yet another L and I love it.

Then it was the work Christmas party. I know many people dread them but ours is a very low key, well behaved, low alcohol occasion (aka boring)  and is normally reasonably good fun. We went to a Thai restaurant then on to a pub overlooking Trafalgar Square to admire all the lights. I was very sober indeed.

And so to my last working day of 2017 – Thursday 14 December – I hope you are keeping track. It is a very early finish but I had plenty of leave owing to me and I’ve made myself ill for so many Christmases by overdoing it and getting too tired I planned a decent rest first. The day was busy as there turned out to be plenty I had to finish before the end of the year but I got it all done in time for the Directors drinks so that was ok.

Then came Mum and I’s traditional shopping day. We’d thought about going out to the South Downs but the weather was grim so we went to Canterbury instead. It was a productive day and more presents were acquired. We’d decided on a late lunch outside town and a traffic diversion led us by happy accident to a simply marvellous traditional village pub where we lunched. We have every intention of returning on purpose. The food was delicious and it felt like an illustration from a picture book.

On the Saturday I’d invited my friends to a Christmas at home which involved a decorated house, mulled wine, food, friends and cheerful chatter. I love being able to entertain my chums and always hope plenty of them can come. My flat was full at any rate and R who I’d not seen in a while stayed overnight so there was more catching up. This seems as good a time as any to share my decorations.

Sunday brought the annual trip to the Royal Albert Hall to watch the Jingle Belles and sing our hearts out at what is effectively a huge Christmas party. The group gets larger and happier every year. This year there were 13 of us in the Stalls and it was far from unlucky. We concluded the evening with dinner in a private dining room at the Spaghetti House in Haymarket. I’m sure the other diners were grateful we were kept well away from them as we were all rather ‘happy’.

My next social engagement was the Christmas party at my Grandmother’s nursing home. They had real reindeer which charmed my sister and I. Unfortunately most of the residents were too elderly and confused to enjoy their visitors but the local school children in attendance were thrilled. Everyone does the best they can but it is impossible not to realise that Christmas means little to the long term residents.


In the evening I proceeded to party no 2. The annual jolly at FGT with my chums. As always it was a splendid occasion with tasty treats, amusing company and general good cheer.

On Tuesday I drove to Farnham to see R, M and H for the first time in a while. It was simply lovely to see them all again.

But Wednesday bought a much anticipated excursion. A trip to York to meet A who I had not seen for eight months. It meant an early start and around six hours on trains but was worth it. We were in the same place for a good five hours or so and York was so pretty. I’ve not been to York for ages and I must not leave it so long again. I went home very tired but extremely happy.

Nemesis caught up with me overnight. I woke at 3am with a sore throat and a tight chest. By the time I dragged myself out of bed to go to my physio appointment it was clear that the Christmas cold was here with a vengeance. The physio gave me quite a wide berth understandably but happily said my mobility and balance were so much improved he was discharging me.

I managed to get through lunch at the Harvester with my parents and sister then helped my Mum ice the Christmas cakes but I was clearly not so well. I went home to bed and the following day my only achievement was driving to collect Millie cat who came to stay for her Christmas holiday.


I recovered enough to go to the Service of Lesson and Carols at Westminster Abbey with my parents and godparents on the Saturday and managed to produce the pre Christmas tea I traditionally serve them all with on the 23rd but I was very short of breath and by the morning of Christmas Eve I found myself receiving truly excellent emergency care from the NHS when my asthmatic lungs were really protesting. On the advice of the doctor I saw I rested all day only going out for our Christmas Eve dinner at Ziyafet and after eating it I put myself to bed sensibly early.


I began Christmas Day  with a light breakfast eaten from my favourite reindeer china while I opened gifts from my friends. I look upon the quiet hour in the morning as my calm before the storm.


Once I am at my parents and my small nieces are there it is like being in the eye of a tornado. I did not take my cold to visit my grandmother on the doctor’s advice so spent a little extra time at home making a fuss of Millie cat.

Then it was time to throw myself into the fray. I received some splendid cards and presents (Note – the tiny dolls house gifts) – I have wonderful relations and friends, consumed more than an elegant sufficiency of an excellent Christmas dinner and won the evening quiz – go me. My sister and I amused ourselves teaching our mother about setting up/ faking photos for Instagram.

As always I enjoyed my Boxing Day Bubble and Squeak. Every year I say I should make it more often and then do not… Maybe in 2018. I also enjoyed a very calm peaceful evening at home on the sofa later. My breathing deteriorated rapidly during the day and I was forced to start steroids and rest quietly.

I improved sufficiently to take Biggest for her long promised Christmas treat next day  – dinner at the Pizza Hut and watching The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre. She was enthralled by the ballet and I was very impressed by both the interpretation and her behaviour. All the work I have done on theatre manners has not been wast

Thursday was a winter beach day when we celebrated my sister’s birthday with lunch in a dog friendly pub, a walk on the shingle to blow all the cobwebs away and to admire Foghorn Cottage she and her husband had rented for New Year. Dungeness may be bleak, windy, the biggest desert in Europe and the end of the world but it is so very beautiful.

I returned home to rest from my exertions and enjoyed some Christmas TV, discovering I’d won £25 on the lottery the previous night and carried out a one hour challenge with my friend S. For the uninitiated this entails us agreeing a time to remove our behinds from the sofa, spend an hour doing as much on our to do lists as we can then at the end of the hour telling the other exactly what we achieved. It is surprisingly effective. Having a partner in crime and being accountable certainly aids productivity. I managed to achieve clean laundry and dishes

On Friday I had no engagements at all. I planned to do nothing but a empty fridge put paid to that so I had to face the horror of the supermarket and buy fruits and vegetables. However I managed to be very productive completing several errands – I got my eyebrows threaded and look respectable again, purchased next years Christmas cards – how organised or perhaps how sad is that and collected more recycling sacks. I managed to restore order and calm to my home and still had a long evening on the sofa with books, the TV and my Christmas chocolate orange which is almost a fruit isn’t it. I mean it has orange oil. Bliss.

Yesterday was devoted to more TV and reading until the evening when Mum and I went to the Southwark Playhouse to see Barrie’s Dear Brutus. I am ashamed to confess it was a book connection again we went purely because Drina played Margaret in Drina Dances Again but it was beautifully acted and Margaret could have been written for Drina. Estoril knew what she was doing. I was indeed affected when Margaret cried “Daddy I don’t want to be a mighthavebeen.”

I conclude with photos of Millie’s Christmas because she has been perhaps the best thing about 2017.

Soon I am off to spend the last night of the year with my friends H, H, K and S to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018 in good company. Happy New Year to all of you. I hope 2018 is kind to us all.

Nice November

This a part two of the great catch up game and my attempt to finish the year properly with all my entries written as they should be. Sadly I did not take as many photos as I thought I had. I apologise because there are so few positive adjectives beginning with n most seem very negative indeed so I had to fall back on “nice” which is such a non word but I do like the alliteration. Sad but true.

After a very low miserable patch at the end of October/ beginning of the month when the clocks went back and it got dark and cold I made an effort to plan as much social interaction as possible to prevent me from wallowing. I am not good when it is dark and cold and my natural inclination is to hibernate at once which is very bad for me.

November began with the usual dinner on our laps while watching Call the Midwife. It is what Mum and I do on the first Wednesday of the month. It is a small habitual thing but it makes us both happy.

I received a really nice note from my colleague and colleague P when she left our team for bigger and better things. She said some very nice things which almost made me cry. I miss her but happily she’s only moved across the floor so we have arranged weekly lunchtime walks to stay in touch.

We had a delicious divisional lunch out to celebrate P’s promotion.

There was a some very positive news on the professional front although as always I cannot blog about it. The joy of doing my sort of job…

There was a delightful coffee with my wonderful friends

Some amazing customer service from Lakeland UK who pulled out all the stops to rectify a disaster.

L sent me more fabulous snail mail. I do love ‘good’ post from people I care about rather than the kind of post that requires me to do something dull and tedious or pay for something unexciting.

I won £25 on the lottery – who says that gambling doesn’t pay…

We had a tiny firework party in the back garden for biggest and smallest. Smallest loves sparklers – it’s the first year she has been allowed to hold one and she was thrilled. IT turns out Millie also likes fireworks. We can only assume that this is because she is a gun breed and perhaps she has been bred not to mind bangs. She stood in the garden and enjoyed them with the rest of us.

I treated myself to a new bra which fitted perfectly. Only other women will understand the comfort and joy that comes from a bra which does not dig in, ride up or otherwise rub your skin. It is lovely and I look thinner too. Result.

I was clearing out my make up drawer and sadly found that most of it was ancient and belonged in the bin but I made the happy discovery that I had a large sum in Boots points so I exchanged all my Boots points for some lovely shiny new, replacement make up. To add to my joy Boots have began making a sensitive mascara which does not contain lanolin – I am very allergic to lanolin. This means that I am saved the £40 plus pounds I had been spending on a very high end lanolin free mascara. The Boots version is £12 – so much more reasonable.

I completed the ghastly insomnia course. I think on the whole it has been worth it. 60-90 minutes extra sleep has definitely improved my mood and vain though it is to admit it my skin. However it isn’t for the faint hearted I definitely got worse before I got better. There were several days when I wandered around my home literally not knowing what to do with myself. I was too tired to read, watch, TV or knit and too shattered to focus. There were also a couple of evenings (and one unfortunate work day – they knew about the course and sent me home)  when I simply sat and cried from sheer exhaustion. Work have asked me to run a knowledge transfer session for my Directorate as it transpires that lack of sleep is a big issue for everyone. It’s part of the reason they were good about me attending the course which meant leaving early. I stress to everyone that dealing with insomnia is not an easy ride.

I enjoyed a splendid night out with the girls. As always it involved delicious food, cocktails and gossip.

The Belmond Pullman was in Victoria to mark the premiere of Agatha Christie’s Orient Express. One day I will get on that train not just admire it.


H came down from Oxford and we had an enjoyable day at the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A and the Poster Girls exhibition at the Transport Museum. There was also a little wandering around town. Obviously we concluded our day out with dinner because why wouldn’t we.


I spent another happy day dog sitting. It’s becoming a habit when I work from home. Millie loves company and actually I enjoy her presence too. It also makes me go outside and walk at lunchtime which is a big bonus. It’s always amusing when a naughty spaniel decides to gate-crash a telephone conference or video call. My colleagues seem to hope she will decide to join us as it enlivens proceedings. It was difficult remaining on topic in the call which bored her so she slept on my lap and snored throughout. The temperamental microphone had zero problem picking up contented dog snuffles.


Millie and I found a hedgehog while out walking in the park. The autumn berries were a delight too but I selfishly declined to allow Millie to play with her new friend.



I had a much needed and long awaited cut and colour which immediately boosted my self esteem. There’s nothing like a fab blow dry and losing the grey to make a woman feel better. The compliments which followed were also good for my ego.

There was a little disagreement with my bank over their failure to process some paperwork in a timely manner from which I emerged £200 richer. I graciously decided to forgive their error!

M and C came for dinner. I cooked a proper roast which I hope they enjoyed.

I went to see Murder on the Orient Express with my friend L. This was a dilemma. I love Agatha Christie and Poirot is my hero but Johnny Depp had a part and I now have serious ethical misgivings about Depp. In the end I went (He is the villain and frankly wasn’t very good) because Poirot and because I adore Olivia Colman and Judi Dench. It was interesting but Branagh wasn’t Poirot in my not very humble opinion. Of course as far as I am concerned David Suchet is the one and only Poirot. It was also a little ( a lot)different from the book and I had to stop myself exclaiming that’s not right or that did not happen. It was still entertaining. I loved the lavish costumes and the fabulous settings.

The physiotherapist was very pleased with my progress and clear that the exercises are working. He believes I will get my life back in the end.

The next joy was a sneaky pre Christmas long weekend in Paris with another L. I still find it amazing that I can board a train in Kent and get off a mere two hours later in the middle of Paris. I often find myself explaining to my colleagues in Leeds and Sheffield that yes I really can get to Paris faster than I can get to meetings in the northern hubs. I love living in the future.


I greatly enjoyed la cuisine Parisienne –   my waistline didn’t but why worry about a little thing like that. Every time I go to Paris it gets a little easier to be a vegetarian there which is a bonus. Just look at all this glorious food. How could anyone resist? The sign over the kitchen in the little pavement café where we had our first breakfast says it all.



I raided Pharmacie Monge for all those delightful French pharmacy cosmetics which are either unobtainable in the UK or fiendishly expensive and restocked my supplies. L and I were there for over an hour and blissfully happy.

We were staying in a charming boutique hotel in Montmartre – which was an amazing bargain too. I know it is a tourist trap but I adore Montmartre.

There were amazing Christmas lights in Paris.

We went to the Dior exhibition – there are simply no words for that. It was out of this world.

There was window shopping. I loved all the haberdashery in Sajou and the beautiful arcades.

We went to Galleries Lafayette obviously. Christmas there was splendid and there was a son et lumiere show at midday everyday. We attended twice!

The weather was awful but I still went up onto the Galleries Lafayette roof garden to admire the admittedly slightly grey view.

I accidentally bought a Christmas present for myself – a sparkly cashmere scarf which I adore. It’s just so light, soft and warm. It makes me feel special and I’m old enough to have learned the only way to get exactly what you want is to buy it for yourself. Every woman deserves a little luxurious cashmere but if my Dad asks I picked up that old thing for a song and I’ve had it for ages… Happily he can’t tell the difference between acrylic and cashmere.

I finally made it inside Notre Dame. I’ve wanted to go for ages but the queues have always been too much and too long. This time L and I decided to bypass the queue and attend Sunday Mass instead. This is of course the right reason to be there anyway. It was lovely, there was Gregorian Chanting and a deep sense of ancient peace and calm. Mass was pre-Vatican II thus delivered in Latin so I understood more than I would have done had it been in French. There is something very soothing and timeless about sitting there and contemplating all those people who have been there before me, speaking the same words and going through the same rituals for hundreds of years.  It is one of those places where the link to the past is very strong and it feels as if it would take very little to sweep aside the veil that separates us.


I lit a candle for my late Grandparents and my much missed Great Aunt afterwards. There is something very consoling about standing in a spot where people have been to remember sometimes for centuries and taking a moment to think about those I have loved and lost or sometimes those who are still with us but need thoughts prayers and love. “However dark the night, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” or as Albus Dumbledore said “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if we simply remember to turn on the light.” Others go to gravesides to remember. I light a candle wherever in the world I am in a place of worship.

I often wonder what Granny who hardly went anywhere would think about her well travelled children and grandchildren who light candles for her in churches all over the world in places she never contemplated visiting. She wanted to visit all the Cathedrals in the UK and did not manage that. I am glad I live in other times.

More prosaically it was also freezing and if I attend a service again in winter I will wear even more layers or even take a small blanket. I envied the people in fur coats and boots. We were compelled to go for a restorative chocolat chaud immediately after the service. I will say little about the café which tried to charge customers to use their lavatory. Instead I will report about the friendly queue of American, Canadian and English ladies who all politely held the door for each other so the lock which needed 50c to unlock it never had the chance to latch. There are so many nice people.

On the last day we found this entrance to the Louvre Metro which I’d searched for in vain with big niece in September. This time it was easy probably because we weren’t looking for it and were not stressed and running out of time.


The final treat of November was a delicious Indian dinner at Babur with my chums. Coincidentally we were also able to celebrate K’s birthday. I had a delicious vegetarian Thali and then drove myself home in  a warm car instead of waiting for two buses on a freezing night. A small pleasure but definitely one to be savoured – well worth forgoing a cocktail for.


Organised October

I am of course hideously behind again. I do not know where my time goes I certainly do not seem to spend it wisely. However before 2017 come to an end it seems appropriate to catch up with myself even if I am the only person who cares.

October began with the conclusion of the mother and daughter annual weekend away. On the Sunday we went in search of delicious foods and more book and dolls house shops. After a grim breakfast in our hotel – I so wanted them to do it well but they didn’t we set off for Ludlow which we’d been told was  a foodies paradise. It was beautiful but the dolls house shop had closed and we weren’t yet hungry. However we explored the town and I think it is somewhere I’d like to return to one day.




We went to Worcester next. I wasn’t sure about Worcester it seems to be all chain shops I could visit anywhere although it is possible I didn’t give it much chance. I absolutely loved the Cathedral though. We had a really nice lunch in the Cloisters and enjoyed wandering around. The walk back alongside the river admiring the swans was also lovely.


I spent some time with my Mum planning how we’d improve and revive The Green Dragon if I won the Euromillions. It is for sale and I believe it could be rescued but you would need a win the size of the Euromillions to do it. It’s not just my beloved book associations it is a beautiful Georgian Coaching Inn with  so much history I hope someone can restore it to its former glory. It could be so beautiful. I didn’t win though so it will not be me who saves this fabulous place. Probably for the best I have no idea how to run a hotel although I am sure I could learn and if I won the Euromillions I could pay someone to help me.

It was time to go home on Monday and we explored Hereford in the morning – like Worcester there is little to distinguish it aside from the Cathedral.


We drove home slowly back through the Cotswolds lunching just outside Gloucester and avoiding motorways. It was nice to go away but as always it was also nice to come home after three nights in hotels.

I had arranged a huge Tesco delivery for the evening. It may be banal but it was splendid to have groceries delivered directly to my fridge and not to have to worry about buying anything.

We enjoyed our traditional monthly TV night – Call the Midwife and a delightful picky supper on a tray in front of the box.

As I was still not back in my office I was treated to pensioner’s discount lunch at the Harvester again. There are compensations to a fortnight of enforced homeworking.

Then I had a whole day with the beautiful Millie. It’s impossible not to love that face and she is the best company ever.


There was the rare treat of a whole weekend day all to myself. I took as a mental health day and did nothing at all aside from read and laze. Just bliss.

Sad though it is to admit I was also able to fix my jammed remote control by cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol. It took about 2 minutes and was immensely satisfying.

My brother and S-I-L were away with the children so I took the opportunity to host a child free Sunday dinner. I cannot usually fit everyone into my flat. I just cannot get nine people into my dining room and round the table. If I say so myself I made a damn good lasagne and an excellent Tiramisu.

Mum cooked me sausage and mash – I can no longer recall why but I do remember the interesting liqueurs we tried afterwards. It made getting up for work the next day slightly challenging.

I began an NHS insomnia course. This is 5 90 minute sessions run by the Sleep Disorders unit at Guys. I was referred by my asthma specialist who was concerned about how poor my sleep was as he felt it impacted on my asthma control and my ability to fight off infections. It was interesting. Some of it was common sense and things I knew I should be doing other parts were new to me. With the power of hindsight (Benefit of not writing this for so long) it has been helpful and I am getting around 90 minutes more sleep a night which has helped me immensely. It is not an easy process though and I definitely felt much worse before I felt better.

I was also referred to the specialist rehabilitation physio sessions at the hospital as I had not been recovering as well as everyone hoped from the ankle surgery. The asthma specialist believed my reduced mobility was impacting on my asthma control too. The physio was tough but he firmly believed I could make progress and instantly identified that my whole right side had been weakened by using crutches and plaster/ he gave me some painful exercises to improve things. He believed real progress was possible – again time has proven him right.

There was a tasty and delicious gossipy meal with the usual suspects at TGI Fridays.

My fabulous GP responded promptly to my plea for effective pain relief. Initially the physio was so painful I could only do the exercises and still go to work with the aid of strong painkillers.

My friend E has a secondment to London from Wales and is working about five minutes walk away. We were able to meet for lunch and a nice interlude to the working day and have done so many times since.

I am a Luddite and still use some cassette tapes. One of the tapes of my Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince audio book broke but happily EBay supplied a replacement at very reasonable cost.

Biggest niece is in Year 5 so the prospect of Big school is being considered. One of the schools on the shortlist was my old secondary school so I went to look at it with biggest. It was a very strange experience as I had not returned for more than twenty years. On the whole I was impressed by the changes time had wrought. If I ever have a daughter (Unlikely though this is) I’d happily send her to follow in my footsteps.

A friend had a big birthday party which was tremendous fun. She hired a Mayfair pub and we swanked the evening away.

A friend who had finished chemo and her hair has regrown (in itself a wonderful thing) sent Biggest and Smallest nieces one of her now redundant wigs for dressing up. Watching them dance around in their unicorn hair was a delight.

There were beautiful Chrysanthemums from my Mum’s garden.


Another sad but satisfying achievement which shows my age and how I live the dream nowadays was managing to remove all the discolouration from my chopping boards with Milton. I really know how to live don’t I…

I finally sorted out a long running problem with my mobile phone without having to go to the trouble of replacing it. For I am lazy and dislike making decisions.

I survived my mid year review at work. My work is good and I am a good fit on the team. Stress averted for another six months.

An interesting side effect of the insomnia course is that they identified one of my (necessary) asthma medications was almost certainly the cause of my dreadful nightmares. The nightmares are the reason my sleep has been so disturbed. The medication cannot be stopped it is vital to continuing to breathe well but a change in the timing has brought about an amazing improvement. I now only have nightmares about every ten days instead of multiple times a night.

I had a glorious lunchtime walk in the park with a book friend who works nearby.

I have a minute jar of Quince jelly for my dolls house. It is just perfect.

There was  a ssuccessful foray to the Oxfam bookshop near work and some books I’d long wanted are now in my possession.

The insomnia schedule – gruelling, punishing and misery inducing though it is has actually brought extra hours to my day. Sleep scheduling to my surprise gave me an extra hour every evening and around two extra hours on weekend mornings – now that lie ins are verboten. I did call the clinical psychologist leading the course the fun police on more than one occasion.

A simply perfect Cinnamon bun for breakfast. It is a small thing but it was a tiny piece of heaven. The ultimate in small but precious joys.

I gave my home a through autumn clean. I did not enjoy the process or the effort involved but the final result was most pleasing. My kitchen and bathroom gleamed and I even carried out that most hated of chores and brushed the stairs.




IMG_2706IMG_2707Please note the delightful Lilies from a friend gracing the now immaculate table

I had a bulk cooking day creating homemade vegetarian pizza, spiced poached pears in red wine, apple crumble  to fill my freezer and no added sugar cake – for a diabetic colleague.

In a sudden excess of domesticity I bled the air from the radiators and also managed to switch my gas and electricity providers and refix my mortgage thus saving me some money.  I really was very domesticated in October maybe I’ll make it as a domestic goddess yet.

There were fabulous autumn colours and fungi to admire.

I re-immersed myself in Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs novels and whiled away dull commutes.

I had some truly amazing snail mail from L.

Smallest niece baked me a special M&M cake with more M&M’s inside.

I joined L2 for a delicious dinner. I regret I know a great many L’s, S’s, H’s, M’s and K’s. I hope it is not too confusing.

I was finally able to resolve a really long standing saga with the tyres on my car which kept going flat no matter what I did. It has been giving me grief for ages, I was sick of going to the garage every single week to top them up with more air and various garages and mechanics kept insisting that there was nothing wrong. I went to see someone else who was recommended and he diagnosed the problem almost instantly – my car is ancient and the seals holding the tyres to the wheels are worn out and repaired it – for £20. I have not had a moment’s trouble since and I think he is amazing.

I was feeling a bit low and sad so a dear friend turned up on my doorstep with this to make me smile.


A certain spaniel found some mud to roll in. The blissful look on her face makes everyone smile.


We had a tasty and delicious dinner at our favourite Turkish restaurant to celebrate my sister’s wedding anniversary even though she and her husband were celebrating in New York there was no reason for us not to celebrate too. So we did in their absence

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.