Thursday, 8 March 2018

Goodbye February, hello March!

Goodbye February and hello March!

I've read fewer books this February than I have for a very long time. I've been keeping a record of all the books I've read since 2007 and I checked back in my books read list;  there was one month where I read only three, but two is an all time low for me.  I used to keep my books read on a spread sheet (!) but when I started blogging in 2015 I used the blog instead. Unfortunately, whilst browsing through some past books read lists I noticed I have lost about six months worth of books read from just before the switch over. I expect they're floating around in cyberspace somewhere and if you find them could you return them to me please?

It was that dratted blanket to blame for my lack of reading in February. I can't read and crochet at the same time and when I'm crocheting I get a bit obsessed with finishing it...I wanted to start on a new crochet project -  a throw for my bed. I bought the wool online at a place recommended by Vix of 'Vintage Vixen' here. Cheap and cheerful but lovely colours. My throw will be in lavender and violet and I'm making it in the 'Willow' pattern block by Jan Eaton (below).

Image from Franney 
 I got the pattern from the book '200 Crochet Blocks' which I bought from you know where.... but I'm going to fill in the outer edges of mine and I'll be using a method to do it that I got from ''' here so this is what my 'Willow' pattern block will look like.

Image from hookandbake,
I'm only going to use two colours because of all the ends that have to be sewn in if you use lots of colours. It's okay on a small project like a cushion cover but not on a pretty large throw. On grandson's blanket there were 80 squares in two colours which meant 80 x 4 ends per square = 320 ends; plus the ends left over from crocheting the squares together and 2 ends each from each colour in the border - a lot of ends!

Last Saturday we went to London to visit OH's family. It was lovely to see them but what a cold day it was! I was frozen in my skirt and leggings. Everything was charity shopped except the boots which were a present from OH from Debenhams. Both tops were from the Red Cross 1.00 rail. I can't remember where I got the skirt from but it was probably Barnardo's in Ampthill or the Red Cross. 

This was my outerwear plus a pair of animal print gloves (charity shopped of course) but not seen here. The M&S cape was a Christmas present from OH back in the days when his company used to give him a M&S voucher for Christmas and he gave it to me - oh happy days! Now he gets one from A****n instead. Which he keeps - quite rightly!

Necklace charity shopped in Derry and all other jewellery also charity shopped
We also made time, despite the cold, for a rummage in Willesden and Kilburn. I bought quite a lot of things! A Boden dress from 3.99 in Geranium in Willesden and a small spider brooch 1.50; a short kimono type cardigan for 2.99 in a hospice shop, a necklace from the Heart Foundation shop for 1.50 and a jumpsuit. In the Kilburn Oxfam shop everything was 2.00. I bought a large floral print blazer in blue and green for the summer, a  skirt and a head wrap thingy. I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable SOME of  the prices were - for London. I passed up a Max Mara orange corduroy skirt with a ruffle which was 6.00 and I'm sorry I did now...

The fire was a godsend in the cold and snowy weather we'd been having. OH lights it in the evening but on this particular occasion I lit it for the first time - hence the rosy cheeks... I'm wearing the sweater dress I bought Keech Hospice shop in Kempston for 3.99; charity shopped cardigan with a M&S t shirt underneath. I had planned to recce my bus walk on Wednesday, but as it kept snowing when I went to the bus station to catch the bus to Elstow and walk back, I decided against it; I did some errands and came home to the warm! I did pop into the 3:16 charity shop and bought some silver boots and three summer items for 2.00; a pair of trousers, a top and a full length slip. The third item was free as it was 'buy two and the get the third free'.

Leggings and boots are retail.

All jewellery is charity shopped and the head scarf is the one I bought on Saturday in Oxfam, Kilburn High Road for 1.00. It's rather strange; made of two pieces of material zipped together but there is no zip pull and it is slightly stiffened with wire -  so it doesn't slip about in the way the usual silk type head scarves do. It had a label in it that said 'Tammy Child'. When I looked it up online I was astonished to find that her long scarves (I think mine is a long scarf) retail at over 100 pounds!

Last week was such a lazy week for me. No walking because of the cold and snow.  I had to take the car for an MOT on Monday which it failed and had to go into the garage. On Tuesday I had to take it back for a retest - it passed but as it was being retested mid afternoon it meant no volunteering. All week it was bitterly, icily, cold with snow and on Thursday it snowed all day. I managed to get out to do the food shopping and that was about it.

These are the boots I bought on Wednesday; from Primark originally they're silver and were 2.50 . Trousers and tunic charity shopped, black blouse present from ex mum-in-law. It's 100% wool and very warm.

All jewellery charity shopped including my 50p zip brooch! I think I may have a coal smudge on my face...

On Friday I should have been taking the youngest grandchild for a hospital appointment at Addenbrookes in Cambridge but we cancelled it due to the dangerous driving conditions. All the schools in Bedford were closed. In the evening we were meant to be going to watch my brother's solo gig at 'The Stables' in Wavendon  here but that too was cancelled because of the weather. Such a shame. It is going to be rescheduled at some point in the near future.

So, as I was stuck at home on Friday and not able to go anywhere I decided to start a crochet project. I ruled out starting the throw for my bed as I want to save that for when we go to Ireland at Easter. I wanted something I could work up quite quickly and something that would be useful, so I hit on the idea of cushion covers. Using again - well the blogger is a fellow Bedfordian after all!  I decided on this:

Image from
The Happy Flower! I'm also going to use her join as you go method (JAYG) which is the white surround in the photo above.  I like the effect it has as it is a continuation of the pattern.  No more sewing squares together hopefully!

When you knit or crochet you accumulate lots of left over balls of wool; some balls are almost used up and others only partially used. I have quite a stash of very small left over bits of wool and I wanted to use up as much of it as I could. A pattern like this is ideal as it doesn't need much wool. By last Friday evening I had made five squares and what is more I also followed her advice to work the ends in as you crochet along and what a difference it made! No more sewing ends least fewer ends, as I didn't always remember to work them in as I went along. I was hoping to make two cushion covers out of all the mini left overs.

There are two miniature suitcases (both charity shopped) here of small odds and ends...

On Saturday I had a PJ day. I think it''s the second since I started blogging in November 2015; I have one roughly once a year. I wasn't going out anywhere - too cold and icy so I slobbed out! I did have to go and drop a grandson off but I just put my boots on and my coat over my PJs! I drove very cautiously I can tell you. I also find walking in the snow quite daunting as I'm scared of slipping and breaking bones. On reflection I should have tried walking in the snow and ice in my walking boots. Why I didn't think to do that I have no idea...

On Monday  it was as if we had entered into another climate altogether.  It was a lovely, sunny and snow free day and quite warm at 9 degrees.  I walked to the hairdressers and back and ran some errands in town clocking up 4.5 miles. I passed the 'Mercy in Action' outlet charity shop and I popped in...yes, you've guessed it I bought more stuff.  On their vintage rail I bought a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch red plaid wool trousers for 7.00 and a brown tunic/dress for 2.00.

I wore this outfit to do my volunteering at the food bank and the library on Tuesday.

This is the Boden dress I bought at the Geranium charity shop in Willesden for 3.99. It's made from fine needlecord and is fully lined. I wore my M&S fur gilet on top for warmth and blue tights bought online. Boots from Sainsbury's retail.

All jewellery charity shopped. I didn't even notice the teddy bear brooch on the gilet until I saw this photo. I often leave brooches pinned on garments then wonder why I can't find them in my brooch box!

I recce'd my bus walk on Thursday; I walked 7 miles in total. This was Thursday's OOTD.

Boots online retail. Kimono present from daughter;  black jeans Lidl; tunic charity shopped in Donegal
All jewellery charity shopped.

It's my birthday this week and there are plans afoot. On Friday, which is my actual birthday, I am going walking with my group in London. We are walking from Waterloo to the Houses of Parliament. The rest of the group are having a guided tour of the HoP, but I did this last summer with the middle grandson, so I shall be returning home to blow the candles out on my birthday cake. On Saturday all three brothers and OH are taking me out for a birthday meal. On Sunday, which is Mother's Day here in the UK; my daughter wants to take me somewhere in the afternoon. I don't know where we're going but it may involve tea and cakes...

Just a quick crochet update; I've made enough squares this week for one cushion cover; I just have to start joining them together.  I won't have time this weekend to do this but hopefully I'll be able to post a picture of the completed project in my next post. I also have enough wool left to make another smaller cushion cover, I think.

Let's hope March stays bright and snow free...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Half term and after

Hello again!

I wore this last Saturday to go and meet my son.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Everything charity shopped except the kimono - present from my daughter. Black Mc & Co brocade trousers; can't remember; same for the yellow top; boots, New Look; Willen Hospice in Newport Pagnell, 6.00.

I finally got out for a walk on Sunday in the morning. I did 5 miles along the by pass to the village of Biddenham and on my way back I spied this Muntjac deer (no, it's not a dog). The amazing thing was that on the other side of the fence you can just see in the foreground of the photo; is a grass verge, then pavement and then the busy two lane by pass. I guess there was only about fifty yards between the deer and the road.

 The walk on Sunday kick started my walking mojo. On Monday I took middle grandson out for a bike ride. We walked to Bromham; a village I lived in for ten years where I took the grandson to see our old house. That was a 6.5 mile walk. It was half term that week. No school runs to do!

All jewellery charity shopped.
Gosh, I am so shiny in this photo I look plastic! I was hot and flushed as well. I know my highlighter can make me look shiny but I have matte cream eye shadow on and it looks shiny, too!

Everything charity shopped except the shoes online retail - I'm really into black and white at the moment... trousers and shirt by F&F (Tesco) shirt from Red Cross 1.00 rail; I can't remember where the trousers came from and I only bought them recently. The tunic is from a Donegal charity shop and was 3 euros.

On Tuesday, I recce'd a walk around Bedford Town which I'm going to call 'Bedford Town Blue Plaque Walk'. On my walks I've discovered 10 blue plaques and 1 brown, all to people who were born or lived in Bedford and achieved 'great' things. Here's just 3 of the blue plaques to give you an idea...

And here's the only non blue plaque:

That was 6 miles walked! 
Bedford is the home of John Bunyan who wrote 'Pilgrim's Progress; although he was born in the village of Elstow which is on the far outskirts of the town. I'm debating whether to start the walk from Elstow where there is a blue plaque on John Bunyan's birthplace; but that would add 2 further miles to the walk. Decisions, decisions....

In the afternoon I went to Hitchin with my daughter as it has quite a few independent shops and she was looking for  inspiration for her spare bedroom, whilst I had a rummage. I bought a top for 99p and that was it after visiting 9 charity shops! I do not need more clothes so I looked at other things. Only one or two things caught my eye clothes wise and I desisted! I felt very smug...

Not looking so shiny here but then I wasn't standing beside a hot fire!
 All jewellery charity shopped. Necklace; 1.50 3:16 Charity shop; pink earrings bought in a Barnsley charity shop.

On Wednesday it was extremely cold and windy so I stayed home and got on with eldest grandson's blanket.  I finished it on Wednesday evening!  Here it is -  not pressed and no ends sewn in as yet.

I also went to see my friend, Ann, in the afternoon and we had a good catch up.

It was a mistake to wear a dress and tights; it was most definitely trousers and boots weather. Everything charity shopped except the grey velvet brogues; Primark sale £5.00. Top; Country Casuals, 99p rail in the RSPCA in Hitchin; grey cardigan, Red Cross; 99p rail;  pink tights 1.00, Red Cross; grey dress, can't remember.

I took middle grandson for another bike ride on Thursday  -  4.5 miles and did the food shopping. This was OOTD for last Thursday. Everything charity shopped except the boots; on;line retail. The coatigan was warm and cosy; bought from the Red Cross in the closing down sale for 5.00; it's by Susan Bristol and the previous owner had sewed press studs in between the buttons so it didn't gape. Thank you! Underneath I 'm wearing a Next patterned top (can't remember) and Next jeans (can't remember); scarf charity shopped at Red Cross, too. I do miss that shop!

Earrings present from OH; all other jewellery charity shopped.

On Friday i walked with the group and we did a bus walk from Bromham to Cranfield; 7 miles, it was muddy, muddy, muddy! Walking with heavy, clay like mud stuck to your boots is like walking with a couple of bricks on your feet and very tiring. The mud is the only downside to walking in the country side.

All jewellery charity shopped.
When I went to see my friend Ann in the week; she had cut and hemmed this long coat for me.  I bought it in the Cat's Protection League for 6.99 some weeks back. It has an Eastern European label and is too small on top so I can only wear it open. The bottom half is open anyway; luckily it wasn't too cold on Saturday so I wore it for the first time. Everything charity shopped except the boots; online retail. Skirt by East; Red Cross 1.99; top by Tu 99p rail; scarves both from the Red Cross shop too; 1.00 each. I'm always on the lookout for the type of crinkly, stretchy scarf I'm wearing on my head as they don't slip like the head squares do. Many of my other scarves are too long or have fringing on them but these are perfect. So far, I have this scarf in four colours...

OH and I went to Emmaeus on Saturday which is a charity for people who are homeless; as well as all the second hand goods for sale which includes up cycled furniture, there is accommodation on the site. It also has a very nice cafe. I was looking for another basket to put my bangles in and some curtains for the dining room. I got lucky on both counts.

The top of the coat can be worn as a jacket by unzipping the bottom half. It's a swooshy coat which I like.

All jewellery charity shopped.

The finished blanket, pressed and ends sewn in. I was so glad to see the back of it. I could get back into my reading...

I've had a much quieter week this week. Monday and Tuesday were busy with all the usual things including painting the chimney breast in the living room now the plaster has dried. I didn't go walking on Wednesday as I wanted a quiet day at home to get stuff done and the Ramblers walk was quite far away. I went out in the evening for a birthday meal with my ex- colleague Yvonne and four of her friends. A very merry evening ensued and it was lovely to meet up with Yvonne again. 

On Thursday I did the shopping and chilled out. Chill being the operative word as it was a freezing cold day and I didn't fancy a walk. I've agreed to lead two more walks for the Ramblers; a bus walk in May which will be the 'Bedford Blue Plaque' walk (see I did make a decision! I still have to recce the bus part) and another of my cross country walks in June.

Talking of walking reminds that when I led my walk a couple of weeks back I passed this thatched roof house which I've walked past dozens of time and spotted these two straw pheasants on their roof. I think they must be recent additions because I've never noticed them before and that section of the roof looked very fresh...

This was Thursday's OOTD.

Everything charity shopped except velvet brogues; Primark sale 5.00. The cardigan was bought  in a charity shop in Golders Green last year for 1.99, when I went to London on my birthday. I think the Next top was from a 99p/1.00 rail somewhere and I just can't remember where I got the F&F trousers from.

 All jewellery charity shopped. I'm red in the face because I 'd just finished baking in the kitchen....that's another one of the 'stretchy' scarves I like for my hair.

This is for Fiona of 'Made  in a Muddle' - she recently did a post here where she reviewed some cosmetics and mentioned she had discovered the reasonably priced 'Revolution' brand in Superdrug. I'm wearing a Revolution lipstick (I bought mine in a chemist in Donegal - they don't have Superdrug) in this photo, which I applied in the morning and I'd eaten my dinner by the time this photo was taken. Excellent lipstick staying power!

I've got a busy (and cold) weekend ahead. On Saturday we are off to London to visit OH's mum and will probably have a rummage whilst we're there and on Sunday I'm off meet up with my son. We should be going to my daughter's for dinner on Sunday as well, so at least I won't have to worry about cooking!

In the meantime I'll leave you with the thought that it's going to get even colder next week so to warm you up here are the last of the photos I took on our trip to the V&A museum...

As I was approaching this display I knew it was Biba! It was my favourite shop when I started my first job working just off Kensington High Street in 1969; where Biba had relocated to new grand premises. I was in there every other day ogling the clothes, trying on the lipsticks and perfumes and generally soaking in the atmosphere. The dresses are from 1970 and the shoes are by Emma of London about 1972 - 1973.

Evening coat 1924 - 1926, English. Evening dress by Callot Soeurs, Paris 1922 -1925

Shoes; 1965 Roger Vivier  -  Bag; Christian Dior  1960s

Shoes 2012 - Meadham Kirchoff

No info for this bag but isn't it gorgeous?

Miniature evening dress by Gres 1950.
I was fascinated by these two examples standing about two and a half feet tall. I'm guessing they are similar to the miniature pieces of furniture made by carpenters and joiners before embarking on the life sized version.

Miniature day dress by Jacques Fath 1950 made in silk tussah.
The names of the materials used to make clothes also fascinates me; many have now gone out of use, sadly.

This cotton skirt suit was made in Guyana in 1951 for Beryl Gilroy. She soon after moved to London to finish her teaching studies and became one of the first Black head teachers in London. She later became a successful writer.

John Galiano  -  1984

Dress on the left - Giles Deacon 2014
Dress on the right - Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga 2004

Bag - French about 1920.

Hope you all have a great weekend and for those of you in the UK - wrap up well!