Homeward Bound.

blossom and sunshine

A few weeks ago, shortly after finishing, but after having had enough days to recover, I came home for a couple of days to see my family.   Hubby and I had organised it so that we did a house swop, so as to give him access to the house with son no. 2 to do a couple of jobs and also to look after Toile.  As at that point she was not completely vaccinated and still too small for the train trip home.     Going home 1

Although I think she had other ideas and wanted to become the traveling cat we hope she will one day become.

carnival 1

This was the weekend of the annual carnival, it was a sweet memory to see the children enjoying themselves. carnival 2The floats were a riot of colour combined with carnival fun, as one would expect from my home town.  My town may be small, compared…

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The last day of February.

Leap year, February 29th, every four years, we know you well. This day always brings back memories of my youth aged 17 and at the time living in a hostel where we girls had the brilliant idea of sending the sexiest, in a woolly jumper and slippers kind of way, boy many many valentines. You should have seen him, he was tickled pink and proceeded to gather them all together and read them out to us in the evening.   But this game was a long game and on the 29th we all proposed to him, every time we saw him.  I remember uttering the immortal words ‘Gareth, will you marry me and I’ll make you Marmite sandwiches every day!’ as I trundled through the corridor from the kitchen to my room with my supper. I was with another girl, we burst into laughter and he, well he was not happy.  We apologised the next day and eventually he did manage to see the funny side of it.

Now you may not be in the lucky position or even want to propose to a boy, but I think having an extra day appear on the calendar can only be a good thing and as such should be grasped with gusto. The perfect day to explore new ideas or challenges or just to have an extra half an hours walk in the fresh spring air which is thrusting its fresh shoots into winters gloom. end of february flowers 1

These have been flowering all winter. end of february flowers 2

And this has just started to flower. end of february flowers 3

The Fig tree is bursting into bud. end of february flowers 4

As is the Ceanothus. end of february flowers 5

Experimentation with the Geraniums. I normally pull them up as they are very tender plants, or so I thought.  This year I left one in a pot to see what would happen through the winter here in London. I think we have had a couple of frosts, but that is all and it has survived. I think I will leave them in this year and see what happens.  It will be interesting to see how it flowers being on a more mature plant, it either needs cutting back to flower on new growth and so therefore not flower well or will be magnificent.  Time will tell.

Window Shopping – Selfridges, London, shoe department.

Long before the days of Sex and the City and the watching of Carrie Bradshaw’s predilection to designer shoes, I was a little obsessed myself. Unfortunately not being as deep of pocket as our heroine I contented myself with the best of the commercial market, helped no end by a stint in a shoe shop where I could wander the shelves trying on to my hearts content and indulging myself in the sales with the addition of my staff discount, it was bliss.

Now my heels are lower and in some ways, with responsibilities, my purse is tighter but when hubby told me about Selfridges shoe department I gave a huge intake of breath, ‘the biggest shoe department in the world?’ I stuttered and then my jaw dropped and my eyes glazed over.

35,000 sq ft of shopping space devoted to shoes. 35,000 !!!! Eeeek. Thousands and thousands of shoes.

Fortunately for me, this was half an hour before closing! So it was just a quick stroll around, it was fascinating to see high street brands such as Topshop, Office and All Saints give way to designers such as L K Bennett, Kurt Geiger and Tods, then to stroll through to the designer rooms where shoes by Stella McCartney, Chloe and Marc Jacobs are perched.  Just when you think that you can’t hyperventilate any further there are 11 boutiques that house designer labels such as Gucci, Louboutin and Chanel, there are over a 150 brands to coo over.   Oooh I could spend a long time here, possibly having had my credit card removed by hubby before entering, lest I spend our life savings in one gloriously decadent moment of madness.

Enjoy. Selfridges shoes 3 Selfridges shoes 6 Selfridges shoes 1 Selfridges shoes 2 Selfridges shoes 4 Selfridges shoes 5 Selfridges shoes 7



Wall racks and hanging pans.

It all started with a flippant comment from me sometime last week when I was hauling out a saucepan from a cupboard whilst trying not to let the rest of the contents topple onto the floor. ‘I wish we’d got a hanging rack for the pans’, I muttered.  Hubby as frustrated as I asked me where I would put them and I indicated an area not thinking he would take me up on it.  But then he got enthusiastic – this is what retirement does to a fella, normally I’d wait for at least two years! – and he mentioned it again and started to.., I don’t think pester would be too fine a point on it.  So I started to show him what was on pinterest at which point he got Really enthusiastic and made me fine tune my design and call out part numbers from the Ikea web site.  You have to remember at this point that I was in the midst of dying from a vile cold virus and as much as I wanted to play along, I was not going to do Ikea in half term on a dreary Sunday.

So he went and came back triumphant and on Monday, they were assembled, and I was like ‘Oh, that spurt of enthusiasm didn’t last long’ but then on Tuesday morning when I got up I found this.ikea hanging pans

Well not quite like that, I did the hanging of the pots and we went back out on Wednesday to buy the utensil holders at the bottom, but it was done and it was beautiful and best of all it really works.  It holds an enormous amount and its all reachable and organised and it makes me look like quite an accomplished serious cook, which I suppose after twenty seven years of married life and an ‘0’ level in home economics I am!

Settling into retirement.

Hubby’s first week of retirement was a whirlwind of theatre trips, shopping, fine art, nice dinners and champagne as all good retirements should be.  The second week quickly deteriorated into looking after his sick wife as I’d caught some vile virus in the style of the nastiest of colds and five days later am only just starting to recover.  So much of his time has been spent either chatting with me whilst I am curled underneath a hand knitted blanket trying not to expire from something deadly,  hubby february 1

(And very relaxed he looks too.)

or leaving me to it whilst I go and do a bit more sleeping, at one stage I was heading very close to twenty hours of the day, whilst he potters on quietly downstairs.

And potter on he has, having had a bit of a brain wave during the first week we bought a home brewing kit for him and for her – I prefer a paler ale than hubby.  We have brewed before but this latest adventure stems from the price of beers in London, the worst case being caught for £8.00 for a half of bitter and a single 25ml shot of gin and a tonic in a grotty back street pub, it takes the shine of it to be stung for those sorts of figures.  So whilst I was being a poorly girl, hubby started the brew and it fermented very nicely and is now into its second fermentation. Beer._

And not counting the cost of the set up, will roughly come in at 35p a pint.

You can’t say fairer than that.


Janice Joplin: Full Tilt, Theatre Royal, Stratford.

Last week hubby and I were lucky enough to get tickets for Janice Joplin; Full Tilt at the Theatre Royal in Stratford.Janis Joplin 2

It is a bit of a trek, going on the Piccadilly line to Holborn and then joining the hell that is the Central line in rush hour on a Friday night to Stratford. Years ago, and not many at that, I would never have been able to even contemplate such a journey, but now I grab hubby, yell at him because he’s forgotten to wear his hearing aids that we are getting on the next train whatever happens and push him on board. And then we stand, so tight that you can’t even move your feet trying not to topple over with the stops and starts of the tube and shuffling, forever shuffling tighter and tighter together.

The pressure builds, Chancery Lane, St.Pauls, Bank, Liverpool Street, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, Mile End, whoosh, ‘Mind the Gap, Mind the Gap’ and the pressure eases. Hubby and I look at each other, ‘one more stop’ is passed telepathically with the aid of a small nod and flash of a smile.

We cross wide busy roads well controlled with the aid of pedestrian crossings and tootle through a busy indoor shopping centre and then out again to find the Theatre Royal. As one pushes through the very old and heavily painted red doors the smells and sounds of a warm and inviting theatre meet your senses. The bar is busy with people eating and drinking and there is a friendly atmosphere all around. Hubby and I look at each other, a twinkle of pleasure pass between us, we are pleased we have trekked so far, the strain of the journey cast aside and forgotten.

We take our seats and wait for the curtain to lift. When they do we are hit with the one woman powerhouse that is Angie Darcy in her role as Janice Joplin.  The play, stroke, musical, stroke, live gig was spectacular, with deep dark moments of sadness intertwined with the madness that was and probably still is the record industry and the magnificent voice of Angie Darcy with an amazing backing group performing Joplin’s songs. It was a powerful edit of Joplin’s life without being too sentimental.

We bopped both in and out of our seats, ‘swing that raggedy ass baby’, we loved it. Janis Joplin 1