One year on…..

On the evening of 9th September 2020, I had a feeling something wasn’t right. My back had been painful for some time but this felt different, so I gathered some bits together, wrote out my Emergancy contacts and medication list and stuck it on the fridge and went to bed.

The following morning I woke after a restless sleep and needed the bathroom. I got there but then the most awful pain I had ever experienced happened. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit. I was holding on to the sink for dear life. I’d lost control of my bladder and bowel. Not a pretty sight at all. Panic set in. What do I do? I didn’t have my phone with me and there was no chance I was going to be able to wake Ben at this hour.

Eventually and I couldn’t tell you how I got back to the bedroom, I rang Ben. No answer. I then rung Bev, I was now panicking and I knew I needed an ambulance. I left Bev to keep ringing Ben whilst I dialled 999. Ben appeared blurry eyed and unsure of what to do as I was screaming and panicking. No matter how I sat or laid I was in agony.

I was taken on to our local hospital, had tests and an MRI scan and the decision was taken to rush my to Kings in London. It was there after a few hours they decided to operate.

I was told after surgery that one of my discs had ruptured and trapped some nerves to my leg, bowel and bladder. But they had removed the disc and nudged the nerves over a little. ( ok they didn’t quite say it like that, it was all very technical) due to covid however though the next morning I was sent home. That in itself was frightening as it just felt to soon.

My friend Sam had stayed with Ben and Suzy and told me on my return she would be staying to help until I was back on my feet. Little did we know this would be two weeks later.

The next fortnight was very hard going. Lots of laying down, not lifting, tired, frustrated. You get the picture. Bev would come over and help me shower, Victoria came and helped around the house, Ben made lots of cups of tea.

Slowly slowly I was gaining strength. Sam went home, Ben stepped up and we started the road to recovery.

I was concerned that I would undo all the work that had been done on my back so I was extremely careful and often asked for help, not like me at all. So many of my friends helped. Took me out or just video called to chat. All of this helped so much.

Over the next few months, I increased my walking distance, time standing and continued my love of renovating furniture and other small projects around the house.

By October I was able to drive my van and we went on holiday to the Isle of Wight. By December I was back to standing for longer periods of time.

Now one year on, September 10th 2021………

Wow, what a difference. I can walk miles and miles, the longest so far being a 14 mile day, I have been Kayaking on the sea, scrambled down rocky surfaces. I am working out with the help of a personal trainer which has helped to rebuild my core and overall strength. I am working again and discovered new hobbies and craft techniques. The garden is looking amazing as I have been physically able to place new beds, re landscape and keep the ponds maintained.

This week I have enjoyed the most active week in Guernsey. Thanks to Martin and Nick we have walked miles and explored this beautiful country. I feel strong enough to be able to do anything now.

Feeling stronger has also helped in another decision. I had a breakdown in 2019 and have since been on medication for this. But I am now on week 5 of safely reducing the meds and I am really noticing the difference. Strong enough to make huge decisions like purchasing a second house to rent and taking on the new part time job. Also the confidence to start selling some of my new crafts. The anxiety creeps in occasionally but I have learnt to control it more.

So an end to the waffling but a few special thanks. (feels like the Oscars lol)

Sam for messaging me every single morning to touch base, Martin, Nick, Mark, Matt, Adam, Dean and Yvonne my geocaching buddies, along with Rob, Sian, Gav and Steph for involving me in the monthly quiz’s. Victoria and Jono. Paula for giving me confidence back and teaching me some new skills. Terry, Sandy, Lynn and my new friends over in Guernsey. Jan and Lisa. Cheryl. Bev for being there every step of the way and most of all, Ben. He has been through so much but helps when I’ve asked. He really is a wonderful young man.

Thank you x x

My dear friend Terry.
The gorgeous Sam.
Sea Kayaking.
Down nearly 300 steps to get here and made the same going back up.
Couldn’t stand straight, it was very windy. 🙂
My Ben x x

Guernsey, part three……

Thursday morning, we collected Terry and drove off nice and early so that Nick and Martin could do a special cache before our event in town today.

This was a tunnel cache that I had done a few years ago with Ben so I just waited it out whilst watching the sea.

Next stop was back into town for the Guernsey air show. My dad often visited Guernsey whilst the air show was on so it was nice to see it for myself today. It was a cloudy start but that soon lifted and we had great views from the end of the terminal.

Eagerly awaiting the start of the show.

The Spitfire, biplane, chinook we’re amongst the line up but one of our favourites had the be the Typhoon with its loud roar as it shot past.

https://youtube.com/shorts/-wwJmcosbIk?feature=share

The best was saved till last when the red arrows came roaring in formation over the island and out across the sea. Impeccable line up as always and they really did put on a good show.

You may remember that a few days ago we celebrated finding my 9000th cache. Well today it was Nicks turn to celebrate a milestone. I’d suggested the cache called The Lost World. Not for the faint hearted as it involves a descent of just under 300 steps down to the most beautiful bay at Petit port.

Looking energised before the descent.

As you can see by the picture it’s idyllic and only a few other people around.

Nick and Martin went off in search for the cache whilst I enjoyed the sunshine and another paddle in this glorious sea.

Off into the cave they go.
At one point Terry wanted to go in and give them a hand, I was not keen on the idea and when I mentioned this Terry’s reply was “ I’m only 83!” I couldn’t watch.

Eventually Nick and Martin returned with huge smiles after signing the cache. Well done Nick also for completing your 4000th cache in such a stunning, challenging location. Time for one last paddle before heading back up the steps. Did I mention there is just shy of 300 steps??

It really is up that way.

Guernsey adventures, part two……

Tuesday, another glorious day so we headed off towards Fort Hommet. However we did’t get very far as someone put a kiosk on route where we enjoyed breakfast number two.

Back on track and we parked near the fort for some exploring and of course to find a geocache.

Fort Hommet is a fortification on Vazon Bay headland in Castel. It was built on fortifications that date back to 1680 and consists of a Martello tower from 1804. Bunkers and casemates were added by the Germans during World War 2.

After the liberation of Guernsey in 1945, the British army and the islanders stripped the fortifications. By the late 1940’s all the metal fittings, including guns and blast doors had been removed for scrap. Many of the bunkers, including the gun casemate were buried in an attempt to return the coastal landscape to its pre-war condition.

Fort Hommet.
The Martello tower.
View from the fort.

After the fort had been explored we took a walk along the coast to a cache that required scrambling over the rocks. As I had found this a few years ago I took a seat on the rocks and watched whilst the lads clambered this way and that until they eventually found the very well hidden cache.

It was now up to 30° again and with no breeze it was hard work exploring so after one more cache we headed to Cobo Bay kiosk for a well earned refreshment stop before our afternoon activities.

The next few hours were spent kayaking out of Cobo bay. The views were incredible, the sea crystal clear and did I mention, the sun was hot?? Great fun was had by all including Terry who had joined us for the afternoon.

No spell out on the sea would be complete without a good debrief in the nearest pub. The Pimms was very welcome.

Pimms o’clock anyone?
Debrief.

Wednesday – the weather forecast was not looking good. Thunder storms and rain had been predicted and the weather people were right. Quite a bit of thunder and lightening before 10am, So we had a leisurely morning with Nick going for a dip in the pool. Once the weather had cleared up we shot out to investigate the Little Chapel.

The Little Chapel.

The Little Chapel was a work of art and labour of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticised, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.

He soon set about the construction of a third chapel – which we see today. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought coloured china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering a remarkable mother-of-pearl.

In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of The Little Chapel Foundation

This is such a pretty little Chapel and well worth a visit.

The heart in the chapel.

It was time for a spot of lunch at Moulin Huet. The views here again took your breath away. After it was time for a spot of clambering and caching around the Parish St Martin’s.

So the mist came in again during lunch.

Another fun filled day which was ended with another ice cream over looking the views of Herm and Sark in between the sea mist and a taste of the air show tomorrow with some of the planes out practising. (Oh and another few caches of course.)

Within minutes the sea mist had caught up with us.

The adventures of Guernsey, part 1…..

Every year I used to holiday on the island with my Dad, Bev and Ben for a week whilst dad worked. The island has continued to keep us interested and has new things to discover all the time.

However this year, with no dad and the pandemic brining in certain rules meaning Ben couldn’t visit, Martin and Nick gladly excepted the offer to join me for a week of exploring and caching.

It’s been quite a while since we have been able to fly anyway but the time had come. We flew from Gatwick to Guernsey on a short flight and we’re greated not just by the sunshine but by my friend Terry.

London Gatwick and a real aeroplane.

My favourite way to explore the island is by car as you can lose yourself in so many tiny lanes. This year we have a Vauxhall Crossland. Not a bad car at all but we still had to play car Tetris to get all of our luggage in.

I left the men to it.

Off toward St Peter Port for some brunch and caching. Nothing is ever to far away on the island so this didn’t take long. I noticed that quite a few of the shops in town have closed since my last visit in 2018 which is such a shame. But again due to the pandemic the island has taken a bit hit against its tourism trade.

Some time was spent exploring, caching and an impromptu dip in the sea before heading off in search of our apartment at Grandes Rocques, drop our luggage in and head to the supermarket.

Remembering my dad with an ice cream x

Time was getting on and we were shattered. It had been an early start so after fish and chips whilst watching the sunset we headed to our home for the night.

Fish and chips at sunset.

Sunday:- today I was aiming to find my 9000th cache so we had to be mindful not to find to many before my caching event on the beach later in the afternoon. The best way to do this was to show Nick and Martin some of the great caches that I had found on previous occasions. One of which was called Military Monday which is placed in an old German series of bunkers and trenches.

The event was held at Port Soif kiosk. For those of you that haven’t been to Guernsey, along the coastal roads are various little cafes called kiosks that serves very reasonable priced food, drinks and ice creams. Port Soif does a good range of tasty cakes. Perfect for a catch up with friends.

I can’t quite put into words how good it is to be able to be “normal” hug people and sit close together and not a mask in sight on the island. (we have done a series of covid tests before entering the island and since arriving.)

The 9000 Guernsey gang x

No trip to the beach though would be complete, especially in this warm weather ( I won’t say sunny today as it’s been low mist and visibility all day.) without a dip in the sea. This ones for you Bev x

Just for Bev x
Martin and Nick clamber for a cache.
Somewhere behind me is the beach. In fact I am standing in the sea but you can’t see very far at all.

That evening we enjoyed the most delicious dinner at the Rock Mount, a short walk from our accommodation. We were also rewarded with the sea mist lifting whilst we ate to the most stunning sunset.

Lamb cutlets.
Sunset from Cobo bay.

Monday:- me and my mad ideas. Even after all my visits to the island I had never taken the trip across to Sark. So this year it was to happen despite my non love of boats. (Sea sickness queen here)

The boat trip was a doddle, calm, smooth and the sun shining. We were treated to a show of dolphins on route and back. They were however to quick for my phone camera.

Sark was fantastic. Quite a few caches which we found by bicycle. Hard going at times in today’s heat, but still fun. The views are well worth the journey. Breathtaking.

Sark is the crown jewel of the Channel Islands, nestled in between Guernsey and Jersey. Car-free with spectacular scenery, bays, coastal paths and cliff top views. Sark has no street lights to pollute the skies and so became the first dark sky island in 2011.

All aboard the toast rack to take us to the top of the hill.

One of our first stops was La Coupee.

La Coupee is an Isthmus (narrow strip of land with sea either side) made up of sedimentary rock. The rock is made up of sediments of various types of rock but is crumbly and the sea is eroding both sides of the this walkway.

Until 1900 there were no railings extending the whole length and on windy days the school children would crawl over the crumbling path on their hands and knees.

La Coupee.
Posing for the virtual cache photo.

Many caches later, cycling up lots of hills it was time to drop off our bikes, enjoy a cold refreshing drink in the Mermaid pub before heading back to catch our boat back to Guernsey.

Another smooth crossing with a brief display of dolphins and we were back in time to meet Sandy for dinner at The Terrace. Scrumptious Thai food eaten outside over looking the harbour.

Having a chat with Victor Hugo.
St Peter Port Harbour.

So there you have a snapshot of our first few days on this wonderful island. I hope you enjoy sharing it with us from our pictures x

My Geocaching story…….

Recently someone asked me what is this geocaching that I often mention. So I thought I’d share some of my experiences and tell you how it has enriched my life and helped me through some really difficult times.

Geocaching is a game using Satellites and coordinates to search for a container or location of interest using an app or a GPSr. When you find what you are looking for you can sign the log sheet and log your find online. It’s basically a treasure hunt. If you would like to look at the website look here: https://www.geocaching.com/play/search

I started looking for treasure (ok small bits of Tupperware) back in 2010 using my phone app. Slowly at first then becoming more drawn in to the game. (I will mention that this was to be a free hobby, apart from a small yearly subscription for the premium membership. However over the years as the game changed for me it saw me buy a VW Campervan, a few inflatable kayaks, climbing kit, knee pads, walking boots and clothes, a decent GPS amongst other things)

After a while I heard that geocaching events were organised in the county where I live and I went along. I knew Nick and he met me at the pub where the event was being held and introduced me to a few others. Little did I know how much some of these friends would mean to be and how tightly the friendships would form over the coming years.

Gradually I joined other like minded people in organised walks and events exploring the countryside and some of the pubs in and around the area for a well deserved drink at the end of the walk.

Still smiling through the mud.

Now you don’t have to go on long walks, you can just find one cache maybe near you place of work or on your route to somewhere else.

A few years on and my adventure took me to Brugge in Belgium where a larger Mega event was being held. My dad and son came along to and we made a holiday out of the trip. My dad discovered that he also enjoyed caching in his own way and loved to drive me around so I could jump out the van and sign the log or stand back whilst I searched and searched before he said “why are you looking there? Perhaps you should look here” he had a rather good eye for spotting something out of the ordinary.

Mega event in Germany.

Now I was really hooked. I could combine my love of travel and exploring off the beaten track locations with friends and family, looking up the caches descriptions and photos to plan my next foreign adventure. I consider caching to be my travel guide.

Over the years I’ve found caches in many European countries as well as America, Canada, St Lucia, Norway, the Channel Islands and many more.

The Channel Islands, Guernsey in particular was where I was to find my milestone 1000th cache. I’d asked on their local Facebook group if any could recommend a worthy find and Terry answered my message. He said he would meet me and help me at a cave cache. This was the start of a fabulous long friendship with him and his partner Sandy we have since met up on many occasions either in England or back on the island.

The lost world cache in Guernsey.

Then I must have got to an age where I wanted to see how far I could push myself and you can still do this with geocaching. First I found myself crawling through tunnels, wadding through murky water, paddling my inflatable kayak along the river Medway, climbing small trees and then I met Rich.

Getting ready for our 24 hour caching adventure to France, Belgium and Holland

We spoke about our need for adventure and started to combine our caching with climbing. We had a lesson with another Cacher who was qualified in rope work and off we went. Climbing trees and a sailing off stuff. Rich and I even did a weekend recreational tree climbing course with in-depth instructions and rescue techniques.

Yep, I am hanging off a bridge.

This expanded our hobby as we were now off caching in Europe where they love their out door sports and adrenaline rushes. Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Austria. Wow some fantastic adventures, great food and such interesting locations.

Slowly however things began to change. Rich could no longer climb but that was ok. The beauty of caching is that you can adapt the way you cache to suit your needs.

We had a more gentle pace and our friend Matt started to hold small events in superb little cafes that Rich was comfortable to attend and that I could still join in for a short walk after. This meant so much as it kept us in touch with our friends and enabled us to get out.

Then we lost Rich, then dad, then lockdown happened. Then I needed major surgery. When would it all end? We were all isolated. No longer able to go out and meet friends, stop at a cafe or pub for refreshments. For quite a while I also didn’t want to cache as it just wasn’t the same without Rich. How could it be? And to be honest I didn’t want to try and make it the same as it had been before as that wouldn’t be right.

Months passed and finally we were able to meet up with a few friends. The beauty of caching is that is it outdoors but did I want to be finding and touching Tupperware with a world pandemic? Also I hadn’t yet walked to far after surgery so wasn’t sure how much I could manage. As it turned out I could do short walks but twisting and bending were a slight issue.

So time to rethink. How could I carry on with this hobby? A type of cache called adventure lab had expanding rapidly. It’s similar in the traditional caches but instead of finding a container you go to a set of coordinates and look to answer a question online. Perfect. This means I could have bite size walks, in towns and villages, stop when I needed to and not have to bend down or handle any containers.

Little did I know this was the start of my new favourite bit of caching. So much so when we could travel again I would choose destinations and days out based on where a set of labs could be found.

I’ve seen some beautiful villages and architecture on my recent travels and of course I love to stop and look at the gardens.

Then going forward a new series was released. I’m not often bothered by completing a whole series these days, as it’s more about the days out and friendships however, this one has quirky cache containers, some similar to the ones I had seen in Seattle and art work around the east coast of England.

Here is the link if anyone would like to find out more.

https://www.englandscreativecoast.com/see-and-do/englands-creative-coast-art-geotour/

So far I’m about half way through the series and have seen some fantastic coastal areas. I’m really enjoying the various art works, street arts and architecture that I’ve come across and of course it’s always nice to be by the sea.

Last weekend I enjoyed a last minute camping getaway with my geotour and walking buddy Martin. A series of 107 caches all puzzle types that had to be solved to obtain the corrected coordinates to reveal the route. Some were simple questions to research the answers and some were online jigsaw puzzles. Another part of caching that fills time when your relaxing at home.

Despite breaking the series into sections and waking 20 miles over two days we didn’t get to complete the series as the weather on the first day had other ideas. We were soaked, Suzy was not impressed so we headed off to find our campsite. Later on the weather did brighten up so we enjoyed a walk round the village of Ashwell completing a series of lab caches and Suzy got to enjoy padding in the crystal clear springs

Mummies little helper having a lie down on the long walk.

Matt messaged whilst I was away to say well done for getting so many points in the new caching challenge. I wasn’t really aware there was a new challenge but hey another good reason to continue with the Geotour. The idea is to virtually climb a mountain by collecting points based on what type of cache you find.

REACH THE PEAK

Inspired by the mountaineering challenge of reaching the summits of the tallest mountains on all seven continents, we’re inviting you on a challenge to reach new heights in geocaching. From August 2 at noon UTC through March 6, 2022, earn up to two new souvenirs each month of the challenge by collecting enough points to reach the summit of each month’s mountain. The points required to earn the summit souvenir each month will correspond to the height of that month’s mountain. Geocachers who earn all 14 souvenirs will earn an additional meta souvenir. Search for Reach the Peak on the official Geocaching Blog to learn more.

Am I bothered by finding caches to be rewarded with points and souvenirs? Not so much, but what was great about this was that Matt had messaged me after spotting that I’d already completed the August challenge on day one! So ok I’m not fussed either way if I complete it but the positive thing about it is that it gave us something to talk about, message each other and see what our other friends were up to. Kept us socialising. So important after the last 18 months.

So there you go. An insight into the world of geocaching and how it can evolve and adapt to your limitations and interests. There is so much more but I won’t go into it here. Why not sign up on the website and have a go yourself.

Grab a cuppa, it’s time to catch up……..

Yes, I know it’s been a while. Sorry about that. It’s been rather busy here. What with a trip or two away, geocaching adventures, gardening, some DIY renovation projects and a new little job.

Back in June Sam, Mark, Martin and I went on a trip to Windsor and Eton for the weekend to celebrate Sam’s birthday. No trip away would be complete without geocaching but this was slightly different as rather than searching for lots of containers hidden in random places, we had a printed out picture sheet with just a little piece of a part of a building or statue. It felt like we were back at school on a trip.

It was a great way to view the area as it made you look up, down and all around to try and spot the pictures. This combined with an adventure lab or two took up two full days and many miles, along with a tea and cake stop or two. Windsor was such a beautiful place to explore.

Windsor castle.
The queen and her corgis.
Pimms cake anyone?
The meeting chairs for the Magna Carter.

We also had a flying visit to Exmouth for a last minute break. We enjoyed a luxurious house so near to the sea and the town. It was great to explore little quirky villages and paddle in the sea. There may have been a cream tea involved.

Weekends have been filled with exploring various towns around the east coast as part of a new geotrail.

We have explored Margate, Leigh in Sea, Walton on the Naze, Harwich and Rochester amongst others little places. Each day has been glorious sunshine and topped of with great company and food. It’s so nice to be able to support local businesses again and eat out.

The front flower wall has had to be replaced as it had started to fall apart this year and was no longer safe. A neighbour fully rebuilt it for us and we are so happy with the completed wall. The new bed will be planted with Lavender when the weather is a little cooler.

Rather strange without the wall.

An old stool has been renovated to become my table for when I’m in the hot tub. It was a stool but last year the seat part broke. I found a cheese board in the shed (dont ask lol) and after treating it all fixed it to the legs of the stool.

The stair carpet was worn and faded so we have had that replaced. It makes such a difference to be in a lighter colour and makes the area look so much bigger. The only thing is the walls now need repainting to match better. Paint is purchased but this will be done in a few weeks time.

The garden has become a haven for wildlife over the last few weeks and a mass of colour. All of the hard work has been totally worth it and it is such a pleasure to sit (in between the rain) to enjoy it. There has been so many varieties of bees and butterflies.

After a few years of having a strange cylinder hanging in a tree at the bottom of the garden I am pleased to report that the leaf cutter bees have moved in. I’d noticed one of my roses had circular parts of the leaves missing and this is a sign that the leaf cutter bee is near by.

Evidence of leaf cutter bees.

Then when I checked I couldn’t help but smile at the bee working hard at filling the tube then sealing the end to protect its eggs. Nature is wonderful.

It’s impossible for me to tell you my favourite flower in the garden this year as there are so many, however I am so pleased with the Dahlias. The colours, shapes and sizes are vast and I have only from a small selection. Although I think it could quite easily become my new addiction.

Dahlia creme de casis
Dahlia Tirza.
Dahlia Cornell.

By now you are probably coming to the end or your cup of tea so I shall leave you with more bursts of colour from around the garden. Have a fabulous day x. X

This years one and only cherry.
The sunflowers are still growing.
Echinacea.
Rich’s lilies.
The first of the greenhouse melons.
A very large greenhouse plum tomato.
The Agapanthus finally in flower after a few years of dormancy.
The Mallow in its full bloom.

Summer in the garden…….

As I write this now I have a refreshing glass of Pimms by my side, feet up on the garden furniture in the shade. It’s been a scorching day here but sooooo lovely. Now I can make the most of it as the Patio rearrangement is complete and the hot tub ready to go.

On Friday, Nick came over to help extend the patio further for me to create more room for the table and chairs when the hot tub is out. Past years it’s been extremely cramped on the patio.

An additional one and a half rows went down and it’s made such a difference.

The completed patio extension.

Saturday I met up with friends Matt and Martin and we travelled over to Essex to continue our geocache tour. Last weekend was Margate. Margate sadly was not how it used to be but nevertheless we had a good day. This week we drove through Southend on sea and again this is not as I remember. It has actually had some money spent on it and improved the area.

The day was topped of by a visit to Leigh on sea and scampi and chips.

Today was due to be so hot, as is the rest of the week so the hot tub had to come out.

Patio swept, furniture rearranged, protective matts down and tub inflated. I’d love a proper hot tub one day but for now this one fits my garden well and is surprisingly good for an inflatable

Mummies little helper pops out to see what is happening then retreats back to the coolness of Ben’s bedroom.

After enjoying an alfresco lunch and dip in the tub it was time to relax on the lounger and read a book. I usually use my kindle but I had a real, paper book to read and I’ve really enjoyed it. You can’t beat turning the pages.

The last job of the day is now the watering. The bottom end of the garden has had its irrigation system reinstalled but all the baskets have been baked today so needed a good drink. It’s so pleasant strolling around the garden as the sun gets lower.

I hope you’ve all made time to enjoy this gorgeous weather we are having and I shall leave you with some photos of the gardens progression since last month. X

This rose arch is covered in pink buds waiting to burst open.
This clematis makes me so happy. It’s stunning.
The grasses by the pond have matured nicely.
This arch is covered in Strawberry hill roses chosen by Rich for the fragrance.
This Peony is flowering the best it ever has.

The trellis you see here in the middle of the veg bed and five others were made by my neighbour and myself to support our large tomato plants this year. Last year the branches would snap under the weight of the fruit.

The greenhouse maturing well with Melons, Cucumbers and tomato’s.
The salad lettuce loves this spot in a pot by the pond.
Tomato plants lined up where they will get the most sunshine.
This year the fruit cage is bursting with raspberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes.
Must be nearly time for Wimbledon. The strawberries are turning red.

A holiday. Really? Oh yes!

Restrictions are lifting, the vaccination programme is going well. Do we go on holiday? Yes, yes, yes.

Our original plan was to be in Scotland in May, however we weren’t sure if restrictions would be lifted enough, if at all so we changed our plans to a week in Beccles, Suffolk. ( We meaning two of my good friends Martin and Nick).

The house we found to rent turned out to be such a find. 3 bedroom, good size kitchen and the bonus, views over the river and a place to launch our own boat straight into the Waveney.

Our home for the week.

The weather wasn’t hot and sunny, however you have to make the most of things. So with careful checking of the weather app on a daily basis we managed to explore lots of Suffolk villages in between the rain, and when it did rain we ducked into a cafe for tea and cake.

Sunday was the best day for weather so it was to be canoeing and caching along the river day. Of course there was a pub stop to regather our energy along the way.

The paddle there was peaceful, pretty, a little sunny and dry. Caches were found. Once we reached the community run pub we ordered our drinks and our lunch which was a very nice hog roast.

The paddle back however was to be a little different as whilst we were just finishing our drinks the clouds turned black. Waterproofs on we headed off. The skies opened, big time! Not just rain but hail to. But in good old British fashion the sun soon shone and by the time we reached the house we were dry again. Turns out this was the only afternoon nice enough to sit out on our patio, feet up and cuppa in hand.

For the rest of the week we explored various villages and sea side towns by using the adventure lab caches. These are caches that don’t have a physical container but instead you have to go to the set location and answer the question. We have found these to be an excellent tour guide and also teaches up some historical information about the places we visit. Norfolk and Suffolk have plenty of these which suited us well.

Martin found his sign.
The most easterly point of the UK.

No trip to the seaside is complete unless you’ve had chips on the seafront.

Southwold is a place I’ve visited before on a few occasions with Rich. We really enjoyed wondering around, looking at all the old buildings and visiting the brewery. On this visit by completing the lab caches it took us to some locations here that I had not discovered before.

The view from Southwold pier.
Someone thought it would be a good idea to create a reading room for the sailors in Southwold to stop them spending so much time in the pubs. 😂
The wisteria is stunning at this time of year.
The Broads.
Beccles church.
Caching in a Pill box in Beccles.

On our way home we stopped at the village of Framlingham. Again a interesting tour of the village, shopping at the local market including some tasty dresses Cromer crab and lunch at the Castle inn. It was here that I managed to catch up with my friend Gerry whom Rich and I had met whilst on our honeymoon at Chateau de la Lande. It was so nice to see him again and hear some of his adventures.

Framlingham castle which is the inspiration behind the Ed Sheeran song, castle on the hill.
How strange the our house for the week had Rich’s initials for coat hooks. ❤️ ( the house was called Riverside House)

Time for an update

Hi, it’s been a while since I last updated you on our progress.

Since we last caught up I’ve been given the all clear and green light for training and rebuilding my strength from the consultant. Tuesday morning I went for my first swim in years and it was so invigorating.

The conservatory has been rebuilt. All through the winter we had to contend with leaks, plastic bags and towels on the floor. We couldn’t carry on like that so a friend of mine who works for Compass windows came up with the idea to replace the roof and fit a window in it. The difference is superb. It’s now warmer, dry and so much brighter.

The new roof light.

The garden has been evolving so quickly at the movement. A few months ago many seeds were started in the green house.

They have now been transferred to the recently built cold frame and some that have spent their time in the cold frame have been transferred into the garden this week.

Mummies little helper looking after the newly planted potatoes and salad veg.
The cold frame working beautifully.
A few tomato hanging baskets started.
Potatoes doing well.
Bags of large tomatoes under planted with marigolds and sunflowers.

So with plants leaving the greenhouse it’s been time to transplant the fruit inside. So on a very windy rainy day this week Suzy and I potted up some melons, cucumbers and tomatoes. The tomatoes have been under planted with marigolds in the hope to keep down the white fly.

Mummies little helper trying to grow big and strong.
Melons and tomatoes.

Every year I plant up the front wall and window box’s. However I struck a problem this week, as I was digging out the bulbs and preparing the soil I noticed the bricks that make the wall were moving and loosening. Dad and I had spoke for a few years about the wall needing replacing. Well this is the year, the wall will not survive the summer. So I have plans to get that rebuilt over the next month. I may still plant up the window box’s as the plants are eager to go in and out of their small pots.

The family was extended recently as some of you already know. We have a bird box with a camera in at the end of the garden and a few months ago a pair of bluetits investigated and decided to move in. Belinda laid 10 eggs and on the 25th April they hatched. Bert and Belinda (mum and dad) have been incredible attentive, wizzing in and out with grubs and worms for the babies. I have seen nine chicks, now all feathered and eyes open flapping their wings and preparing to fledge.

Bald, blind babies.
Bert and Belinda at dinner time.
Filling up the space.

So as you can see May has been incredible productive.

I’ve also been overwhelmed by some very kind words from some of my friends and readers of the blog. Rich and I started to write the blog to create a diary of our travels and adventures and it has evolved into my way of sharing my continued adventures and positivity during a world pandemic. Things such as “you inspire me in challenging times” “ your positivity is so motivational” “your blog is always so positive and gives me something lighthearted to read rather than the depressing world news”. So thank you very much for taking the time to read our stories and it helps me knowing that it makes you smile.

New life in the garden means we continue to beat this crappy virus and we will continue to a new normal. I love wondering around looking at what is sprouting and budding and bursting into life. Here are last nights photos for you. X

Loganberry blossom.
Strawberries are doing well.
Azalea coming into bloom.
The acer waking from its sleep.

My final piece of positive news I discovered yesterday. Last year our local hospital was overwhelmed with Covid patients. Most surgeries came to a halt as the theatres were filled with patients on ventilators. It was May that dad spent quite a few weeks there being cared for whilst his battled Covid. In a conversation with a nurse she told me that as from last Friday the hospital had been Covid patient free. I could have cried. I was so emotional at this news as was she. long May it continue. Onwards and upwards. X x ❤️

Dads final trip to Malvern

In April 2016 dad, Ben and I took a trip to Malvern for a short break. Dad was born in Worcester on April 25th 1946 and spent his younger years with brother Colin, sister Pauline exploring and playing on the Malvern hills. They would travel there by train from Worcester to Malvern. He would have been around ten years old, Colin five and Pauline 15 years old.

Whilst on this trip dad wanted to walk up to the Worcester beacon (425 meters at the summit) and share stories of watching the steam trains on the railway lines below with Ben and I as well as show us the amazing views. Apparently there used to be a cafe at the summit here.

Whilst we were admiring the views dad told us that when his time was up we were to scatter his ashes on the Worcester beacon. Strict instructions were given that we had to walk all the way up and that we couldn’t use my idea of a remote controlled aeroplane with a drop hatch and let him go that way. He found that very funny.

So almost a year after he passed away (May 4th 2020) and with travel restrictions lifted we were able to meet Colin and Barb in the North Quarry car park for dads final ascent to the summit.

With dad safely secured in Colin’s back pack, Colin, Barb, Bev, Ben, Suzy and myself headed up. A very steep path up. This was not the path we had taken back in 2016, I bet dad was having a good chuckle watching us huff and puff.

Resting after the steepest part of the climb.

Our idea was to first revisit the beacon for dads last ever trip then find a suitable resting place.

Dad is in Colin’s back pack resting on the plinth
A tad windy Suzy??

The weather couldn’t have been better for us today. Bright blue skies, sun shining and wind on the Worcester side of the hills just were we wanted to place dad. (On one side of the hills is Herefordshire and the other Worcestershire, with dad being born in Worcester we felt it right he should on that side)

We walked down the hill a little and found a rocky outcrop with great views. This was to be the final test stop for dad. We scattered him on the ground and toasted his memory with mini cherry Bakewells (one of his favourite cakes) We admired the views and swapped stories and memories.

Our walk then took us to the Hereford side of the hills, out of the wind. The views all around today were spectacular.

We decided to take the longer, less steep path back to the car park which luck would have it took us through woods carpeted in Bluebells, dads favourite flowers.

After some more chatting at the van sitting in the sunshine we went our separate ways and started the short drive back to our home for the few days we were here.

However with tummies gurgling I took us on a small detour and we called in at the Butchers arms pub for an early dinner.

The garden had a variety of different pods to sit and eat and the menu had a great selection. It’s so nice to be able to sit in a pub garden again and see others out enjoying the sunshine and pub grub.

Goats cheese crepe with roast vegetables.

So here’s to you dad, your the best. Happy 75th birthday. Cheers to your next adventure x x

Royston William Eade 25th April 1946 – 4th May 2020

A tour of Ledbury

Ledbury is a market town and civil parish in the county of Herefordshire, England, lying east of Hereford, and west of the Malvern hills.

It has a significant number of timber framed structures, in particular along Church Lane and High Street. One of the most outstanding is the Market House, built in 1617, located in the town centre.

Market house, which currently has tables and chairs underneath for outside dining.

Why Ledbury? Well as you may know my dad passed away last year and his final wish was for his ashes to be scattered on the Malvern hills. So with restrictions lifted Ben, Bev and I were able to rent a converted barn in the village of Woolhope for a few days. The 3 bedroom barn is beautifully located in the peaceful countryside and the only sounds you can hear are the woodpeckers, various birds, chickens and at night the owls near by. Also at night the skies are so dark the star gazing is amazing. Another huge plus has been the warm bubberly hot tub in the garden facing the fields and forest.

Our first full day here we decided to explore the town of Ledbury just a short drive away. I’d been here many times before, but this time we did an adventure lab cache ( part of geocaching) that took us and taught us some of the history of the town.

After passing the market house we walked up the tiny Church Lane passing many old historical buildings of which id never visited before.

We can understand why this warning is needed for Ben lol
Church Lane.

At the end of the tiny lane stands the church of St. Michael and All Angels. A stunning church built around the 12th Century but a little unusual as the church tower is not actually attached to the main building. This was added around the 13th century with the upper stage and spire being added in 1733.

St Michael’s and All Angels.

From here we headed back into town to browse the shops and find somewhere for lunch. A quaint little fish and chip shop was recommended to us called Y-Pass located up a tiny alleyway. The menu had a wide selection and with our minds made up we took our lunch back to the van to enjoy.

The Barrett – Browning memorial clock tower, opened in 1896.

So with our tour of Ledbury complete we took a short drive to the base of the British camp in the Malvern hills.

British Camp is an Iron age hill fort located at the top of Herefordshire Beacon in the Malvern hills. The hill fort is protected as a Scheduled ancient memorial. The fort is thought to have been first constructed in the 2nd century BC. A Norman castle was built on the site.

The extensive earthworks remain clearly visible today and determine the shape of the hill.

The height of the summit of British Camp is 1,109 feet (338 m).

However this was not the intended summit for dad to be placed so we enjoyed what dad did here and that was to sit at the base and enjoy an ice cream in the sunshine from the little kiosk. Suzy was treated to a delicious doggy ice cream to which was the unusual flavour of cheese and sweet potato. I’ll stick to my pistachio and rum and raisin thanks Suzy x

So with the evening getting closer we headed back to our accommodation and as the sun was still lovely and warm we enjoyed a spot of sunbathing ( I know, it’s still only April!) and some hot tub time with Ben x x

There is two Butts…….

The vegetable patch project in the garden continued this weekend and I’m so happy as I’m nearly ready to plant in the new patch.

By the side of the greenhouse I used to have a water butt, but over the years it developed a slight tilt and I often ran out of water.

So I decided it was time to upgrade to two butts. One of which will in time have an irrigation system fitted to water the new patch.

However a Laurel root was in the way and this had to be levelled before the butt could be installed. This proved to be quite a task and finally after two weekends and some help the root was finally removed and the crater it left filled.

Next the slabs needed laying and they had to be level so that we wouldn’t have a tilt problem in the future. This took quite some time due to working in a small space.

Once the base was down and the area tidied we could move on the the exciting bit. The installation went relatively smoothly and fingers crossed when it rains the first butt should then fill the second once full.

This part of the garden is secured by fencing because mummies little helper does like to explore and try to catch the cats on the greenhouse roof, but due to the second butt it now needs to be more excess-able. With my new found woodwork skills I managed to transform the little fence into a gate so the water tap can be easily accessed.

A great result for the patch which I couldn’t have done without the advice and help from my friends. X x

Two butts.
The new gate.

The cold frame also benefited from an upgrade this weekend to add more light. I happened to have some small squares of Perspex so with a little woodwork I redesigned the frame. It now has an extra two windows in the front. All we need now is some warmer weather 😎

And sow it begins……..

Do not worry. I haven’t stopped or slowed down in fact I’ve been the opposite.

You may remember a while back Bubble Bev and I relaid some of the slabs in the greenhouse and grouted the gaps. This is all in preparation for this seasons growing. However one of my staging was in poor shape. I purchased some new however the quality was no where near what I’d had before. So with my new found wood work skills I took on the challenge of building a new framework recycling the previous shelf’s. Two of the sections of wood I needed were slightly to short and not wanting to go and purchase new wood I managed to fix them together. I’m surprised at myself as this has worked very well and is nice and strong.

Now I needed to make round holes in the wood to hold the metal supports and it just so happened that in the workshop was dads table top drill. It looked easy to use and with a little guidance I soon got going and all the holes were drilled. Loving woodwork.

On to constructing the frame which went well once I’d bought the right screws.

Fittings suitable as feet to just raise the wood from the floor.

The wood was painted to protect it from water and voila. A new stage was set.

The weekend saw Bubble Bev and I complete laying the slabs by the new veg beds. Girl power we are getting good at this stuff.

The design was planned with cardboard cutouts to visualise the space.
Mummies little helper.
Between the beds.

The next phase is to remove the Laurel root and lay a flat base to install a second water butt and irrigation system that will supply the veg patch during the hot weather.

We removed the original water butt as over the years it had sunk a little on one side and needed levelling out. This was like a school science challenge using a water pump, two hoses and a piece of guttering.

After a few hours of digging and sawing we had to admit defeat (partly also due to the blade coming out of the electric saw and not knowing how to fix it straight away, I now have the instruction manual 😉)

There is always another day and the next weekend will see that day.

It is now March and I’ve been so excited to start sowing this years seeds and trust me there is a lot. I aim to grow lots more veg and flowers this year.

On my new potting bench made last year, 5 varieties of tomatoes have been started along with scabious, sunflowers, lobelia, Rudbeckia amongst others. The greenhouse is coming to life, spring has begun.

It just goes to show that despite a year of uncertainty and the world fighting this awful pandemic we can start again. Just like the flowers in the garden and the buds on the trees. Together we get though this and I am so fortunate to have received my first Covid vaccination last week. It wasn’t without side effects but it’s a small price to pay for freedom.

What a difference!

The last few days, weeks even have pretty much been non stop rain. Well I guess it’s winter but what with lock down as well it’s really getting on my nerves now. I’m sure many of you want to see the sunshine as well as friends and family. Just to be able to spend a few hours in the garden would be heaven.

Well today was to be the day. With snow predicted for Sunday (really? I feel a Michael Fish moment coming on) a grey start soon cleared to be bright blue skies and some warmth from the yellow dot in the sky. Anything that needed to be done indoors today could wait, Suzy and I are getting a share of that sunshine.

The greenhouse last week had a couple of slabs relaid and grouting between them, (thanks to bubble Bev x ) This has taken quite a few days to set due to the low temperatures but it’s getting there now. Next the whole space needed washing down to prevent and nasties effecting the new plants that are soon to be sown. What a difference washing the roof, walls and windows makes. So much fresher and brighter. My staging had started to break down so I made good what I could and gave that all a good wash down in the sunshine, ready to go back in the greenhouse. I also have had some new staging delivered but it’s far to nice to be inside today. So after a well deserved cup of tea whilst sitting in the sun and spending some time with mummies little helper it seemed a good day to wash the rest of the pots and trays in preparation for the new plants.

Mummies little helper enjoying the warmth of the winter sun.
No coat or jumper required today.

It’s hard to believe heavy snow is predicted for two days time.

Time for lunch after a good job jobbed. But first a check on how my little irises were getting along outside the snug window. They are so close to blooming.

I had no idea how close as whilst I ate my lunch and glanced out of the window one of the flowers had opened. Wow that was quick. The first photo I had taken at 12.30 and the photo below at 13.40, just over an hour after. Nature really is incredible. During the next few hours they continued to open and reach out for the sunshine.

Just stunning.

By 14.20 eight of the iris had opened. I shall sit and enjoy them whilst in the snug this afternoon.

So if your feeling a little down, stressed or generally worn out, just remember, days are getting longer (last night it didn’t start getting dark until 5.16) the sun will shine again and we will get through this together.

Veg beds, done……

Not being one to sit down, especially as the sun was shining this week I decided to crack on with the veg beds.

The first one was roughly put in late last year with scraps of wood so it was time to tidy it up, design the path and move on to veg bed two.

Last years quickly thrown together bed.
New wood, weeded and tidied.

Today I had a little help with my bubble Bev. Quite a bit of turf removal was required here and this is something that’s a bit to much for me still. We set to work marking out where to place the wood and where to dig. It was quite chilly but nice and bright out.

It was my neighbours birthday the day before and she kindly gave us some cakes to have with our tea break which we throughly enjoyed whilst the robin came down to enjoy the worms.

Back to work and the grass was all dug out and we could place in the frame. We covered the patch over for now as I will soon get some manure and dig it through,then warm ready for planting. Now just to work out what and how to shape the new path.

Looking good.

We emptied the old grow bag compost from the greenhouse into the plot and found these interesting looking eggs in the soil. Any ideas what they may be?

Mystery eggs.

All that remained to do was to take the bags of turf to the front for disposal. Ben came to the rescue as there is no way I can move those yet. He came up with the ingenious way of moving them through the house. He put each bag on his skate board and wheeled it through. Fabulous, well done Ben.

So tomorrow I shall enjoy a nice restful day catching up with my Suzy sewing. This I hope to finish soon as I stated it last February.

So I hope your all doing ok and trying to get out and enjoy the sunshine. It certainly makes you feel so much better x x

It’s all hinged……..

What a challenge. The whole cold frame project has been a massive learning curve. From learning new power tools, different techniques, drilling holes in Perspex and hinges!! The thing of nightmares lol. I couldn’t have completed this without the help of many friends and advice from Facebook.

When I decided I needed a cold frame which was summer 2020 it would have been very easy to go out and purchase one. However I had envisaged it as a project that dad would help me with. I hope that wherever he is now he is looking down and saying “she did good and it’s just like something I would make. Built to last!”

The start to finish has cost £60, and taken just over two weeks. (I can only do work involving a drill in small amounts as you’d be surprised how much of your back you use for this) It would have been more but I was gifted a sheet of Perspex for the roof, thank you Ian, and I already had a selection of screws and wood paint. To buy a basic cold frame they start at about £80 but I don’t think it would be as sturdy as I hope mine is. There would not be the huge sense of achievement that I feel now either.

So in the last blog the lid had been made along with the main frame. It was time to work out how to attach hinges. I’d purchased two different types and spent many an hour with some scrap pieces of wood putting the hinges on and off trying to work out how to do it, but no matter what I tried it wasn’t right.

Had I bought the wrong hinges? More time spent on YouTube and quite a few photos and questions asked on face book, video calls and a few days away from the cold frame was required.

Today I woke feeling extremely positive and clear about what was to do with thanks to some information one of my friends had found. The suggestion was to place hinge spacers between the lid frame and the hinge itself. (Well done Stephen) after a few attempts we had a huge eureka moment. It only works. Now just to pretty it up and paint the new bits of wood.

The last bits needed was a catch to hold the lid closed incase of high winds, a strut to hold the frame open a little for ventilation and some kind of strap to stop the lid opening all the way. I had contemplated purchasing some chain for this, but that’s no challenge. Whilst in the loft recently I’d spotted the slings Rich and I used to use to climbing and if they held our weight they would work here. So I started to attach the first one realising that I’d got the strap in place where you can see where we had marked the slings as ours. Thanks for being here to Rich. ❤️

So finally the cold frame is complete, just to move it into position later in the week

Let’s hope the weather brightens up soon and we can all spend some much needed time outside x x

So close…….

The cold frame project has been continuing slowly. The last you saw of it was that I had cut all the wood in readiness to be assembled. This week I set to work making the frame. Most of this was straight forward.

Feeling pretty pleased with myself and how solid the frame was and how square it was I now had the challenging task of cutting the two angled sides. Many youtube videos have been watched in the making of this project as there as so many various skills required. The two sides were drawn out, double checked and then I cut each one separately with the jigsaw, but only after a practice cut on another piece of wood. The practice went so much better than the sides. One had a bit of a dip and once the balanced on top I discovered that they were not equal. Mmmm I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I wasn’t happy. Only one thing for it. Start on the side sections again but this time I would clamp the two pieces together and jigsaw them at the same time. It was hard going but a success. Screwed on it was looking great.

Another day saw another part of the project. This time to make the frame for the roof. Again I was amazed at myself how sturdy and square it turned out.

The cold frame needed painting as I wanted to protect the wood. I learnt from dad, build to last lol. The shed has quite a few tins of part used fence paint so the green was picked. Due to the cold weather it took two days though for the paint to dry.

Next was to attached the Perspex to the roof. Lots of friends have been advising me on certain aspects of the project and this was one of them. Not wanting to get this part wrong I practiced on a small square of Perspex first. This went well so I added masking tape and marking where I wanted the holes then drilled starting with a small drill bit working up to the size I needed. Phew. No disasters. The Perspex was then glued and screwed to the frame.

Glued and clamped in place.

Today I hoped to complete the cold frame, however I’m not quite there yet. I did add some little feet to the bottom posts to just raise the wood from the floor. But then it was on to the hinges. I’d purchased two different types and decided to use two other pieces of wood to work out which way round they would need to be and to ensure the lid opened how I need it to. Quite some time was spent attaching, trying and changing the position. I’ve even taught myself how to chisel out and counter sink the hinges. Something still isn’t quite right so the best thing to do was put it all down and leave it for another day.

Next week I hope to show you the finished cold frame and the start of the new veg beds. That and they may be a little painting involved indoors just to keep me busy x x

Morning Suzy stroll.

We can do this……

So, lockdown part two, three, four??? I’m lost with where we are. I think we can all agree we have had enough and things can be quite a challenge at the moment. I know I certainly had a moment this week when thinking about how many people this pandemic is effecting I became quite overwhelmed. So with my Mrs Hurcombe hat on, I pulled my socks up so to speak. I turned off the news and had a light bulb moment.

As some of you know I like to keep busy and on Monday I was hit with the thought that my list of things to do at home was coming to an end. What on earth would I do with myself? I can’t sit still! I got so short of things to do I resulted to steam cleaning the kitchen!! (although I have to say it looks so much brighter lol)

This sparked a new idea, whilst looking out onto the garden through the newly cleaned window I wanted to be outside. Gardening is so good for the mind and body but it’s way to cold and the ground is frozen solid. However earlier on the year I had wanted to build a cold frame to harden the new plants off from the greenhouse. Bingo, the new project was to begin.

My dad was always the carpenter, well in fact builder, electrician, decorator, mathematician and anything else he turned his hand to, with the exception of grouting, he hated that and couldn’t understand why I didn’t mind it. I knew that cake decorating course would come in handy, it’s the same right?

I started to look online at what wood I would need to order. Dad always did this bit so I wasn’t entirely sure of what the names or sizes of materials were that I would need. A phone call to the timber yard later and I submitted my order. Fingers crossed. Whilst ordering the wood for the cold frame I made the most of the delivery by ordering the wood for the new veg patches to.

I’d spent quite a bit of time drawing my plan and working out measurements. I would always get quite confused at this stage as maths is not my strong point, but dad could just see it all in his mind, write it down and voilà. Perseverance and some scratching my head later I knew what size each side was to be and how many lengths I could fit from each piece of wood.

Next was to work out how to use Rich’s table top saw. It probably has a technical name but that is what I’ve named it. It looks quite a manly piece of equipment and could cause serious injury’s if I got anything wrong so I phoned a friend and got a socially distanced lesson in safety and how to use it.

Rich’s table top saw.

A few mornings later the timber was delivered. Oh my goodness! What have I done? Why didn’t I just purchase a cold frame on line? Well that’s just no fun. Also what else have we got to do at the moment when we can’t go out? Also what better way to remember the two top men in my life then using their tools and hearing their voices in my head. “No you don’t do it like that, what on Earth are you building now, measure twice cut once!” All good advice and I’m listening chaps x x ❤️

Part of the timber delivery.

Let’s get to work or we won’t get in the food cupboard later today. Some of the wood was so long it ran the entire length of my utility room. I had all my measurements so armed with pencil, tape measure and square I began.

The first cut was a little scary but then quite exciting. I could do this. Ben helped me manoeuvre the wood and we were doing so well, until…..

The saw stopped. Had it overheated? Nope after phoning a friend again we discovered the saw had had enough and basically broken! Love a challenge.

However I am so fortunate to have good neighbours and within half an hour I had been loaned another saw. This one had even more functions and made cutting even easier. I am quite enjoying this diy lark. Way better than ordering within minutes on the internet.

A bit of a mess.

My cutting complete and tidying done, I felt very pleased with myself. The majority of the cold frame has been cut along with the veg patch wood. But it would all have to wait another few days as I don’t allow myself yet to do to much physical work all on one go. Also it gives you something to look forward to.

Cold frame wood cut.
Veg wood prepared.

Sunday we woke to a very white frosty start to the day. As I’d promised myself an easier day I decided some baking was in order as I’m missing my monthly cook off days with friends. Also baking is very good for your mind, maybe not so good for your hips. But hey, I’ve been very good this week.

The fridge had many lemons and as last weekend we had made a lemon drizzle (healthy option) I decided to attempt a lemon meringue pie with pastry made by yours truly. I don’t think I have made pastry from scratch since home economics at school. Everything went to plan and there was enough pastry left over to make a few mince pies and jam tarts. Ben said the kitchen smelt delicious and we couldn’t wait for dinner tonight. Which was also a homemade Shepard’s pie.

Now that’s what you call meringue……
I’m impressed!

So, if your feeling down, fed up and overwhelmed. Turn the news off. Make a plan, a project. It doesn’t have to be anything as technical as a cold frame. Bake some fairy cakes, take some time out with a good book, chair by the window, cup of tea and one of those bakes. You will feel so much stronger and relaxed for doing so x x

Picture perfect……

Well that’s Christmas and New year passed. Ben and I managed to get a few things done and I even managed to get him out before midday one day for a winter Suzy walk. Let’s start there….

First a little history:

The Thames and Medway canal is a disused canal in Kent, also known as the Gravesend and Rochester canal. It was originally 11km long and cut along the Hoo Peninsula, linking the river Thames at Gravesend with the river Medway at Strood. The canal was first mooted in 1778 as a short cut for military craft from Deptford and Woolwich dockyard on the Thames to Chatham dockyard on the Medway avoiding the 74km journey around the peninsula and through the Thames estuary. The canal was also intended to take commercial traffic between the two rivers.

We both have fond memories here as dad would tell us stories of how he used to play around here and the nearby fort when he was young and he introduced us to the area as somewhere to ride our bikes. Dad would drop us off at the Gravesend basin and then meet us in Higham. When Ben and I reached him we would often find him sitting in the camper, windows down with either the newspaper or on one of his phones for work.

The day we chose for our walk was bright and sunny with a bit of a nip in the air but after a while the sun warmed us up and we could take of our hat and gloves. Suzy was sporting her hoody for today’s adventure.

Suzy had just planted a kiss on me!

Back home to continue with my latest project. Rich and I had planned to put together a photo wall last winter but it was something we didn’t get around to. I was determined to get this done. So after purchasing lots of new matching frames and ordering some more photos I began the next project.

The wall as was.

The wall in the living room looked good but I wanted to change it to really show of the pictures. It’s quite a dark room but I knew if this wall was painted a dark colour the contrast with the new frames would still be bright. I managed to remove the wallpaper and prepare the wall.

Although the wall was in fairly good condition as it was newer than the original part of the house, it still wasn’t good enough to just paint. Fortunately I had some lining paper in the loft so Bev came over to help me wallpaper it before painting.

The wall nicely lined, ready for painting.

After a day or so I began to paint. I had intended to use a roller but with such a bold colour I stuck with the brush. The end result was a lovely smooth matt finish.

Now for the fun part. I marked out the space of the wall in masking tape on the floor and placed the pictures hoping to find a good layout. It took quite a bit of moving around before I was happy.

Now to get them on the wall. This was to be more of a challenge. Getting the hooks in the wall was easy. Getting the pictures on the hooks however was not. The frames are deep and even with a loop of wire it took 20 minutes to hang the first picture. This wouldn’t do. I rang my friends Dean and Yvonne and they suggested putting a wire across the back of each frame with small eyelets.

I set out finding all the eyelets I could muster and began. A few hours and lots of banging later the frames were up. All I need now is a few more of the photos I’ve ordered to arrive.

I forgot to mention this was New Year’s Eve. Quite fitting as I’d promised myself I would get the wall done in 2020. Completed with 3 hours to spare!

Today was a sort of relaxing day. I took down and packed away the Christmas tree, cleaned through the new look lounge and did some baking.

The first bake of the day was Rosemary and walnut soda bread which was enjoyed with a baked Camembert at lunch. Then tonight we had a beef and ale slow cooked stew with the soda bread. When I’ve finished this blog we will enjoy a home made lemon drizzle with custard. All made with healthy low fat recipes.

Happy New year everyone x x

Painting and crafting

It’s been a while since the last blog but I certainly have not been idol. Whilst parts of the country has gone into yet another severe lockdown and Christmas has been altered I’ve been busy refreshing the porch and utility room. you may think they didn’t need any attention however I disagree. The porch has a new outer door a few years ago and the paintwork never did get finished. So here goes.

A bright red door used to greet our visitors but it had faded and along with the paintwork in the porch needed some TLC. You may remember a few blogs back I’d visited Henley and spent a lot of time checking out different colour front doors and this was why. I wanted the colour to be more modern, suit the red tiles on the outside of the house and be light and bright from inside the hallway. After also watching a vlog on YouTube I chose the colour sage green, a colour used by the national trust.

Choosing the colour.

Before I could paint everything needed, some parts needed preparation. I don’t like this bit particularly but it’s a necessity. Door sanded, hole in wall cemented and filled, the white rendering was first to be painted followed by the wooden door frame. Now time to start the door.

The unpainted bit of porch.
The faded red door.

First the primer which was a very similar colour to the final bit. Thank goodness I was liking it. Painting round the glass was very time consuming.

Primed.

Next came two coats of the main colour. It took quite a time but I’m so pleased with the final outcome.

So porch completed, what next?

Dad was a fantastic craftsman. He planned and built some of our extensions, made cupboards, designed rooms but what he didn’t do was ever finish a room 100%. This makes me chuckle as I’m sure he did this to give me something to do now and remember him by. I often chat to him whilst I’m doing these things, even if I know some of them he would be saying “why are you doing that like that” and “your painting it that colour!”

The utility room is full of cupboards and very practical but needed some prettying up. It was a pale yellow colour. Now I didn’t want to spend any money here and as we had lots of light grey paint left from Bens bedroom, this was chosen. I knew it wouldn’t be dark as all the cupboards are white.

Dads home made coat hooks

Once everything was prepared it didn’t take long to paint as there isn’t much wall to paint. Two coats later and it was already looking so much better.

The coat hook area I removed and sprayed in Dark grey gloss which was surprisingly good.

The final coat of paint had glitter added to give the walls a sparkling effect. It’s subtle but catches your eye when you walk in. After the skirting boards had been painted (another thing dad had never gotten around to when he fitted them, love you dad.) lights are added to the top of the cupboards and some small plants for a block of colour.

Sparkly paint

So transformation complete and with minimal cost.

Along with the decorations I have also been paper crafting some Christmas cards, gifts and flowers. I can’t share all these here with you as people won’t have received them yet.

Wreath made with burlap.
Wreath made with spare baubles and a wire coat hanger.

Lastly I discovered an antique silver teapot in the attic which I decided to polish up and make into a flower arrangement for Christmas. I’m very pleased with the result but would love to know it’s history.

Polishing up the teapot was by no means an easy job. It took three attempts but I hope you agree with me the end results were worth it.

So there we have my last few weeks activities. It’s been slow going but Ben and I are so pleased with the completed look.

I hope you all manage to stay well and safe and enjoy Christmas as best you can in these strange times x x

The living room transformation……

Well the final piece of the puzzle or should I say the living room has been completed today.

For some time I’ve been working on lightening up the fireplace as the wood was extremely dark. This took some doing and has probably been the toughest bit I’ve worked on. With advice from some friends I set about taking back the varnish on the wooden fireplace. Dad built and designed the fireplace when we moved into this house back in 1982. The fire place has a lovely piece of wood on the top and sides and the bottom was completed with a bit of skirting and scaffold board.

The original fireplace.

I carefully taped all around the sides and coated the wood in the varnish remover. The instructions said it may take two coats and lots of scrapping. Yeah right, five coats and lots of scraping later and the next morning some sanding back I finally had some good looking wood.

Mummies little helper.

However on carefully removing the tape I discovered not only had the product removed the varnish but some of the paint and wallpaper. Well that’s another trip to B&Q then to get some paint to now repaint the whole chimney breast. Just before this though I treated the wood with a wax and I’m really pleased to say the grain looks great and it’s so smooth when you run your hand along it now.

Bugger.

Bev kindly offered to paint the wall for me as this isn’t an easy manoeuvre for me just yet.

The end result looks better than I could have hoped for. Just some lights and ivy to put up to soften the look and give it a beautiful warm feeling.

The doors into the next room were also very dark but I really didn’t fancy stripping all the varnish from them. To my surprise when Bev arrived she came along with a curtain pole and some teal colour fabric, which happened to match the lampshades perfectly. What a difference this makes to the door, whilst still letting light in from the next room. Well done Bev, great idea.

Before.
After.

So there we have it. After a few weeks work in lockdown two, three repainted units, two repainted tables, three painted lamp stands with new shades and a completely new look to the fireplace we have a transformed room. So much brighter, more modern and at a very small cost. Also it has given me something to work on over the last few weeks when we can not go anywhere we want again or meet up with groups of friends. A few well earned days off I feel now to catch up on some of my Suzy cross-stitch before I start the next project on the list. Have a great weekend everyone.

Let’s brighten up the cabinet

Over the last few days I have been tackling the display cabinet in our living room. It’s never been my cup of tea as I am not an ornament kind of person but you compromise when you live with others. Dad loved browsing antique shops so it does give me some happy memories and I can hear him saying “don’t open the box, it will lose value” 😂

The dark display cupboard.

So I remove all six doors and between my car port and utility room I manage to spread them all out after sanding them lightly.

I’ve gone for the same colour as the small units in the living room as it does make it all appear brighter. I enjoy painting furniture but all the prep is frustrating.

After four days, Ben and I remove the painting tape, tidy the edges up and put the new handles on before placing them back on the units.

The end result looks rather refreshing and again makes that end of the room so much brighter. Another simple up cycle project.

The finished units.

No project would be complete without a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and as I didn’t have any cake in I whipped up a quick Lemon drizzle that I’d seen on line. Delicious.

It’s a light bulb moment!

Can you guess what I’ve been up to again? Yep you guessed it up cycled some more furniture.

As I may have mentioned in previous blogs my living room is quite dark and so was the furniture. Rather than buy new furniture (there is nothing broken or wrong with what we had) I got to changing the look. You’ve just seen the newly painted units now it was the turn of the coffee tables and lamps.

The tables matched the units and were quite dark wood.

The previous dark tables.

First I needed to sand them back, the tops I wanted to strip all of the varnish to bring them back to the original wood. This took a bit of time but looked good after. The legs were a little tricky but again I persevered.

Sanded and ready to go.

The legs have been painted the same as the units and the tops waxed to bring out the grain of the original wood. The end result looks great.

The two lamps in the room were again dark wood. I purchased a third second hand, removed the lampshade and sanded them all back. I first used a chalk spray paint but on the new lamp it just kept going pink in colour. The tall lamp stand wasn’t taking the paint very well despite the paint saying no need to use a primer. Plan B, use the spray I’m used to working with. This worked well on the two original lamps but again not on the new. So not being defeated I returned to B&Q (my forth visit this week) purchased a primer and started again on the new lamp. Bingo. This is what it needed. Phew. With the new shades, the second new shades as the first I’d purchased were a different colour to how they looked online, they now look like completely new lamps and compliment the room better.

Mummies little helper

I’m very pleased with the end result, so whilst on the living room after taking Suzy on a lovely Sunday sunny stroll I took the doors off the next unit and got them sanded and ready for painting. You’ll have to wait and see how they turn out.

Today (Sunday) has been gorgeous and sunny so Suzy and I also couldn’t resist a little time in the garden. I mulched the roses, Suzy did what she does best. Laps up the sunshine.

Happy weekend everyone x x

Adventure to the Isle of Wight

College half term was fast approaching. The year has been incredible tough. We really needed a little adventure, a change of scenery before the nights draw in and the days become cooler.

After two days of solid accommodation searching, anywhere in the country we came upon a 3 bedroom townhouse in Seaview, on the Northeast side of the Isle of Wight. Ben and I had only been to the island in late December with my dad to accompany him for work so we were looking forward to seeing the island “open”

Bags packed, Lexy loaded Ben, Abbie, Bev, Suzy and I set off towards the ferry from Portsmouth. The ferry was to take us to Fishbourne and from there is was a short drive to Seaview. To start our trip off it rained, in fact it rained ever day we were there.

First stop, lunch. A little eatery was found facing the sea and we relaxed and enjoyed our meal.

The most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.

Once keys collected we all excitedly explored our temporary home. A three bedroom town house with views over looking the sea from the second floor. That will do us nicely thank you.

The next day we headed off to Cowes. Cowes has been seen as a home for international yacht racing since the founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815. It gives its name to the world’s oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August. Later, powerboat races are held. It’s a pleasant town to walk round and made easier on full belly’s after a pub full English. Of course to help keep us warm as you guessed it, it’s raining again.

Thursday we drove across the island to the windy west. Boy was it windy today. Our aim was to visit the Needles and Alum Bay, famous for its coloured sands. Yep raining again and combined with the wind that meant that the cable car wasn’t running down to the bay. So only one thing for it, walk, down lots and lots of steps. Well worth it though. The waves were crashing over the lower cable car station but this didn’t deter from the majestic brightly coloured cliffs. No trip to the beach is complete without a paddle either, well not for Bev😉

The Needles in the distance.

Fridays adventure was to Shanklin. Every time I had visited here in the past everything had been closed so we were looking forward to visiting Shanklin Chine. It was an interesting place to visit with lots of history.

The Chine had a calming feel to it and very pleasant to walk through. Especially when we returned after sunset to visit the illuminations.

No holiday is complete without a game of crazy golf. Yes it’s still raining but hey, we are brits and we are on holiday and not going to miss out. We may have got slightly soaked but we had lots of fun and survived the dinosaurs.

Hot chocolate never fails to warm one up.

Suzy also enjoyed her holiday, she loves the beach and even managed to have a swim, even though it was unintentional!

So if you fancy a holiday and want to feel like you’ve gone abroad, the Isle of Wight is a lovely place to visit. Why not give the coastal path or geocaching a try when you do x

Arriving back in Potsmouth.

Marlow and cook off day.

Making the most of my mini break, I headed to Marlow on my way home. Suzy and I parked up and just as we were about to head out of the van it started to rain. I did have a do I don’t i moment, but I have good waterproofs so does Suzy so there was no excuse.

Our aim in Marlow was to complete another adventure Lab Cache series and just have a wander.

There are some quaint little areas to see and one of my favourites had to be the suspension bridge and the view down the river to the weir.

Marlow suspension bridge.
Sir Stephen Redgrave.

Leaving Marlow was a little bit of a challenge as the suspension bridge had a width restriction and guess where my google maps wanted to take me? Yep across the bridge. This is one challenge that I have found going it alone in the van. You can’t drive and find an alternate route at the same time without pulling over. Today there was no where to pull over so I just kept driving up alternate roads until google maps got me back on a suitable route.

Safely home and van I packed it was time to relax before Saturdays Cook off.

Some of you may have seen that once a month Since this crazy pandemic, Martin, Nick and I meet up and enjoy some home cooked food.

We alternate who cooks starters, mains and desert. Today Martin made a very tasty mulligatawny soup, which was a soup that I’d not made before and didn’t even know the ingredients involved.

Nick was on Mains today and he made a mince beef, onion and mushroom pie with mash, Brussel spouts and carrots. Again delicious.

Desert was to be a coconut and jam sponge with home made custard served in mini milk bottles.

We had picked a theme for today’s meals. School dinners is something we all remember. Lumpy raw mashed potato, roast dinners, Brussels like bullets, pink custard and Tottenham cake, gypsy tart and so many more. I am please to say there were no lumps in sight and no yucky skin on the custard. Another great success. Next month we are going for an autumnal bonfire night theme. I now have a few weeks to think about what starter I can serve.

The evening was completed with a few rounds of Jenga. A tense game with so much concentration and holding of breathe.

The eyes of concentration.

I hope that you are all staying safe and positive where ever you are and making the best of these strange times. Ben and I are trying to and I think we have to use this time to try new things and challenge ourselves.

A mini break to Henley

As if I haven’t had any challenges lately, I decided that it was about time Miss Lexy and I went for an adventure. I’ve not been away with her on my own but I am determined to continue the journey for Rich.

We chose Henley as our destination. Not to far to drive (first time driving the van since my operation), a campsite that I was familiar with and I knew that way I wouldn’t need to do any heavy lifting, and good walks for Suzy. The town is also a short walk away and their is a cafe on site.

The drive down was traffic free (some positives to many having to work from home still) despite the heavy rain. Suzy was quite content on her bed with her seat belt on in the back. She sat up most of the journey as she can see out of the front window from there.

Once we reached the campsite, the barriers opened automatically and we drove straight to our pitch. The campsite have had to change all their booking in procedures to comply with Covid regulations. This means no going into the reception, and then sending you a map and you pitch in advance so that you can come straight in.

Once in we received a lovely welcome phone call from reception to ensure we had arrived safely and found and had everything we need. I’d booked a hard standing pitch with water supply, grey waste point and fresh water to save me from moving the van during my stay. Also this made lighter work for my back😉 However the pitch is slightly on the tilt so I had to drive Miss Lexy onto her levelling blocks. In the past I’ve had to have someone do this or guide me as it’s not my strong point. But after checking twice I was levelled and chocks in. Pat on the back for Me.

Our first afternoon Suzy and I went for a walk round the nearby fields before heading back for a cup of tea and some relaxation time before dinner. Sadly the cafe isn’t open at the beginning of the week in the evenings but I had come prepared with a homemade chilli which just needed warming and the rice cooked. Great comfort van food and little washing up.

Chilled out Suzy whilst I set up.

Suzy started to get chilly, bless her. She has recently been to the Suzy Salon, so I snuggled her up in her bed, wrapped her up and put the heating on. One of the bonuses of Miss Lexy is that she has great heating and hot water settings.

After a good night sleep and brekkie, Suzy and I got ourselves ready and took a gentle walk into town. Everywhere is so pretty with all the autumn leaves.

I love the walk into and around Henley. The architecture is so beautiful. Lots of historical buildings and quirky features. Our aim for today was to follow a set of adventure lab caches around the town. This way I would find out a little history, have a gentle stroll with little rest stops and Suzy could explore. Many of the shops here allow you to take dogs in which is so handy as I was unsure of how to be out and about on my own with Suzy. What if you needed to go to the loo? Get a drink or snack? It’s strange not having Rich here as we would share looking after Suzy.

Our first stop was a quaint small pet shop. As I mentioned Suzy was chilly last night so we enquired what outfits they had that may be suitable. The gentleman was so helpful and he tried them on Suzy. She decided on a grey hoody, very fitting with a compass on the pocket detail.

Next we wandered to the first lab cache point and spotted a local produce market. Superb, I love a market and I hopped it has a cheese stall. But that could wait to later.

The walk was very therapeutic, also my first carrying a small rucksack as I had drinks for Suzy and I, and I wanted a little space incase of any purchases. This doesn’t sound odd but I haven’t carried any weight since my surgery so it was a bit of a test. I’m pleased to say, although a little tired at the end of the day I managed it comfortably, even after our 4.5 miles😀

The warm sun shone all throughout our adventure. We strolled along the river, Suzy tried to make friends with the ducks and geese, they were not impressed. After finding a few of our locations we went to the angel pub for a light lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere whilst sitting outside next to the river.

Once reenergised we completed our stroll and headed back towards the market. It’s so nice to see the local farms displaying their fine produce. I purchased some Goats cheese Gouda which I am excited to try soon.

This is a selection of the photos I took on our walk around Henley.

A living wall incorporated over a painting of a dog.
Charter house.
Anne Boleyn’s house.

Something I’ve noticed around Henley is all the colourful front doors. One building which looks like the doors should be identical, isn’t. The doors are all slightly varying in size. Fascinating, I wonder why?

To complete our lovey day Suzy and I met up with Lisa in the campsites cafe for dinner. It was Mexican night so we enjoyed burritos and a good catch up.

Suzy looked very chic going to dinner in her new outfit and was warm and cosy.

Autumn colours from the campsite.
Very tired puppy.

Getting back to some normality….

Five weeks ago I could hardly move. Now I’m driving, walking very well, managing a bit of gentle gardening and back to my favourite pastime of upcycling.

So here is an update of what I have been up to in-between lots of relaxing and resting still.

The weather has been gorgeous on a few days so I have taken this opportunity to do a spot of gardening. Don’t worry, I’ve not overdone it and only done what feels comfortable. The front wall baskets have now been planted up with winter bulbs and very pretty pansies that remind me of oranges and lemons. Hopefully they will look even more spectacular in the spring.

Tete a tete bulbs going in.

During the week I have also worked on two cupboards from the living room. As you can see they were quite a dark wood and the living room is quite dark during the day so I set to giving them a lift.

Sanded then wiped down out in the sunshine with mummy’s little helper they were ready to paint.

We chose a colour similar to duck egg blue to coordinate with the grey sofa, sanding the tops back to the natural wood and waxing them.

I’m very pleased with them, but of course it doesn’t stop there. Next will now be the coffee tables and the lamp bases and probably the display unit. It’s addictive this hobby.

The back garden bulbs also started to be planted this week with Jono and Bev’s help. Hopefully the hyacinths will look great in front of the pond in the spring.

This weekend has been filled with meeting up with some friends. Saturday we enjoyed afternoon tea in Rochester, very indulgent, and today Nick, Martin and I went to see a show filmed at the 02 with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe but shown at the cinema. It was great. Lots of songs from the musicals amongst other greats. Trouble is it’s reminded me how much I miss going to concerts or the theatre. Let’s hope the theatres can open again soon.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…..

It’s a very exciting day today. Four weeks ago I had surgery on my back which has made so much difference to my daily life. So today a few of us had decided to have a trip out to Hastings to browse the antique shops, do a bit of geocaching and maybe treat ourself a to something nice to eat.

Martin picked up Sam and I and we had a good run down to the coast. When we arrived the sun was shining and the sea was so calm.

The caches we decided to do today involved us looking for blue plaques around the town. This worked out well as we could do this in combination with exploring the antique shops.

The antique shops were fun to browse and we played a game of I would buy this from each shop. I think at one point I chose a large metal sphere, and Sam and Martin some other odd items. There were so many nice pieces of furniture that I would have liked to have to renovate but I don’t have the room. Perhaps I need to buy my own chateau.

Brunch this morning was in a cafe overlooking the sea. I had scrambled egg and chorizo which was very nice.

As well as looking out for blue plaques there was some interesting art work around the town.

After exploring and seeing all these quirky places along with these old buildings we headed to the pub for liquid refreshments before dinner.

Of course dinner had to be fish and chips as we are by the seaside after all. They were enjoyed sat on the front over looking the sea with the sun starting to set over Beachy head in the distance. Beautiful.

A truly wonderful day that didn’t disappoint in any way. Great company, delicious food, sunshine and an interesting town. Best of all I managed to do all this with zero pain and able to keep up. Brilliant.

The last view of the day was this vibrant rainbow that appeared just after we had finished our dinner. We just made it to the car before the rain came. A wonderful time was had by all.

What a difference…..

Three weeks ago, the sun was shining, the days longer and I was still up cycling and recycling what I could to keep myself occupied.

Part of the reason for trying to keep myself occupied was that my back pain was getting worse. Moving became more difficult and Suzy walks were getting shorter and shorter.

I’d had an MRI and was awaiting an urgent referral to the team at Kings for possible surgery. However not doing things by half’s, on Thursday 10th September I had to call an ambulance as the pain was unbearable and my legs gave way. Ben was in complete shock after being woke by telephone to come over to my bedroom and help me and keep Suzy from worrying whilst we waited for the ambulance.

Once in A&E, after many hours I was admitted to a ward and another MRI. A disc in my lower back had herniated and was compressing lots of nerves. Surgery was now the way to go and after a middle of the night transfer to London Kings College Hospital and many do we don’t we from the surgeons I was quickly taken for the surgery. As you can imagine the next few hours were a bit of a blur. When I woke back on the ward I was asked to get out of bed and have a wee. To my complete surprise there was no pain! I could get in and out of bed, walk and sit. Sitting hadn’t been comfortable for weeks. I was truly amazed.

Sunday I was even more amazed as I was told I was doing so well I could go home. Quite a scary thought as they usually keep you there for 3-4 days but due to Covid it was safer to recover at home.

When I’d heard that I may need to have surgery some of my friends told me they had put a plan in place and I had to go with it. The plan was rapidly bought forward. Sam came to stay at our house to be with Ben and Suzy. Mark stayed home to look after their side of things and Bev, Jono and Victoria took turns in popping over to help me once home.

As many of you know I’m not very good at doing nothing but I now had to. I wasn’t going to risk undoing the work the surgeons had performed and I think my body was screaming at me to stop after a rough six months. I have done as I’m told, taken things slowly, lifted nothing heavy, I’ve not twisted, stretched or pushed myself to much. I had to ask for help to shower, cook my dinner, walk Suzy and many other jobs that we take for granted.

Now two weeks post op and Sam drove me to the country park where we could let Suzy back off the lead for a good run around and to test my walking on the grass. We have one very happy chilled out dog this afternoon. Suzy loved interacting with her chums and chasing the ball. It will be a few weeks yet before I can drive or walk Suzy myself but everything is going in the right direction. Best of all, no pain!!

I’ve thanked the NHS many times this year and I find myself saying it again. THANK YOU. What would we do without you?🌈🌈

So what was I up to before this little hiccup? We had two wicker baskets for bits and pieces in our hall way that didn’t match. You guessed it, they do now. Thanks to some more spray paint🙂

The completed baskets.

The plants in the green house have now finished and one of the last things to pick was our one and only melon. It was enjoyed sitting in the sunshine with some Parma ham. Just how dad and Rich would have.

My other little project was to respray a couple of photo frames as I have so many wonderful memories that I want to share. The first two went well and looked great once Mark had put them on the wall for me. However it didn’t look complete. It needed a third frame and unable to purchase the same again I set about restyling a bigger frame. I managed to do this whilst recovering after the op sitting in the sunshine. I pulled apart an eight frame, reattached it in its new formation, filled in the excess holes and sprayed it to match the other two. Another successful upcycle.

The original frame.
Sanded and ready for spraying.
The eight frame to be taken apart.
The final frame now on the wall thanks to Martin and Nick.

The weekend was topped of on Saturday with Nick and Martin joining Sam and I. Some of you may remember last month we had a holiday debrief and enjoyed a meal with each of us making a course. This weekend Nick made the main and Martin the starter and desert (I was excused from this month) and Sam on clearing and washing up.

Nick had set a further challenge by picking a Welsh theme as we had all holidayed there together a few years ago.

So Martin’s starter was home made Leek and Potato soup, garnished with sautéed Leek and chives, Delicious. Next was Nick’s main which was a Welsh lamb stew with home made sourdough bread. Again full of flavour and delicious and desert (I always love desert as I have a rather sweet tooth) was baked by Martin and was an Eve’s pudding but made with pear instead of apple. Bloody lovely and yes I had to have seconds. what a way to spend an afternoon😛

So there we have it. The last three weeks all caught up. All my other projects are temporarily placed on hold whilst I recover. For now I shall continue to be gripped by the Netflix drama, The Fall. (Thank you Cheryl, great recommendation) and alternate my time between putting my feet up, walking a little further each day and catching up on some reading. I may even do some research into the next big adventure☺️🚐

Take care everyone and thank you again to everyone that has sent me messages and helped myself and Ben out over the last few weeks. X x

Bakewell – Home of the pudding

Today was the day, we get to go and sample Bakewell. I’d been looking forward to this part of the trip. I last visited here in 2012 and really wanted to return for a more in-depth tour. Rich and I had planned to camp near here but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. But I feel like I’ve bought him along with me today in a small way to share the adventure. He would have loved it, especially all of the cake!

The drive across the Peaks was breathtaking. So pretty.

Perhaps best known for its unique and delicious Pudding. Bakewell is Idyllically situated on the banks of the river Wye, the biggest town in the Peak District National Park’s mellow stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge and quaint courtyards are a magnet for painters, photographers and sightseers alike. I can see why. We decided to explore this town today via a geocache. A multi that would take us to various locations. To do this we had printed out various photos of parts of buildings, these were the clues we needed to look out for. Different to how we normally do a cache, but fun.

This is a sample of what we were looking out for on our route.

Now before we could sample the famous pudding, lunch was in order. A very nice leek and potato soup with halloumi fries. Delicious.

Our walking tour commenced, taking us off of the usual tourist trail and up some narrow alleys that were brightly decorated in climbing roses and quaint front doors.

This Dahlia was the size of a dinner plate. Beautiful.

Up to the Old House Museum, one of the oldest buildings in Bakewell. This architectural gem is one of Bakewell’s best kept secrets. Built during the reign of Henry VIII as a tax collectors cottage the building was expanded during the Elizabethan period as a gentlemans residency. From Tudor to Victorian the building and objects tell the story of life in rural and industrial Bakewell. Sir Richard Arkwright housed his millworkers here.

After walking back into the town, we headed to the pudding shop via the bright, colourful displays of flowers in the park. The gardeners have done a fantastic job here. So many varieties and well thought out borders, all in height order and colour blocks. Even a small memorial garden.

Now, to the pudding – Legend has it that the towns famous pudding, was created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century. Today her delectable ‘jam tart that went wrong’ can be sampled at various bakeries and cafés and posted virtually anywhere in the world!

We may have purchased some and may have posted some. Will you be one of the lucky recipients of “the pudding”?

Bakewell was a lovely town to visit, and I’m pleased that we made it here. However I felt lost without Rich today as this would have been one of our adventures. Thank you to Martin and Nick though for accompanying us here.

A few more buildings to discover before we headed back to our base to enjoy another tasty evening meal.

Buxton

Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. It has the highest elevation – about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level – of any market town in England. Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as “the gateway to the Peak District National Park”

We decided to set out a little later today as the weather forecast suggested more thunder storms. So a tasty breakfast was made by Martin and Nick. It consisted of Oat Pancakes with fresh fruit and apricot and marmalade muffins. Delicious.

The journey to Buxton was so picturesque. Rolling hills and rocky outcrops made up the vast landscape. 40 minutes later we arrived and found somewhere to park close to town. As usual our first stop was at a small cafe with outside seating to enjoy a refreshing drink and snack. I had a chicken and thyme sausage roll with home made coleslaw, very nice.

Chicken and Thyme sausage roll.

Our tour guide again today was a multi geocache that led us on a tour of the town. We needed to visit most of the historical locations to gather some information.

Built on the River Wye and overlooked by Axe edge moor. Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann’s Well (a shrine to St.Anne since medieval times) at the foot of The Slopes, opposite the Crescent near the town centre. The well was declared to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak by philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his 1636 book De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being The Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire.

St Ann’s Well. You can fill your bottles and drink straight from the Well. Pure Buxton Water.

Buxton landmarks include Poole’s Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann’s Well, fed by the geothermal spring bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town’s historic buildings.

Buxton Opera House.
The Devonshire Dome, home to the University of Derby.

The Grade II listed fan window Below, was built in 1863 at Buxton Station is a well known landmark in the town, greeting rail passengers to and from their destination along the Buxton to Manchester line. Originally part of a twin railway terminus, it was restored and repaired in 2019 (following vandalism which broke glass panels) organised by the Friends of Buxton Station; the fan window is just one of many improvement projects which have slowly transformed Buxton Station since the volunteer group rejuvenated in 2015.

The fan window of Buxton station.
Pavilion Gardens
Reputed to be the oldest hotel in England.
With a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and includes some notable guests including Mary Queen of Scots herself. The Old Hall Hotel now stands as one of the spa town of Buxton’s most popular places to stay, nestled deep in the heart of the Peak District.

The Crescent (as photographed below) was the centrepiece of the Fifth Duke of Devonshire’s plans to establish a fashionable Georgian spa town in Buxton. The grade 1 listed building is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the country. The redevelopment and restoration will secure a major investment of circa £50 million in Buxton and put the town back on the national and international map as England’s leading spa town. The project will create in excess of 140 permanent jobs, 350 construction related jobs and many more permanent jobs indirectly through new spa-related businesses resulting in a boost the local economy by over £4.5 million. The Crescent and Thermal Spa Experience and development of the Pump Room will also provide new indoor attraction for residents, visitors, groups and schools.

Plans for the Crescent include a  81-bedroom luxury spa hotel occupying the majority of the Crescent and which will incorporate the magnificent Assembly Rooms and a  thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths. The project will also feature 6 retail units in the front ground floor.

The project is estimated to cost over £46 million.

View from the slopes.
Buxton Town Hall.

The Met Office Climatological Station, located on The Slopes in Buxton, just above the War Memorial, has records of the Buxton climate, reaching back nearly 150 years. Records of Buxton weather originally began at the 1866 in the grounds of Devonshire Royal Hospital.

Buxton Climatological Station moved to the current site in 1925 and continues to provide data to various bodies. Michael Hilton (famed for this Buxton Weather website) and a group of dedicated volunteers currently maintain the station. The Station has records of temperatures, humidity, rainfall, and much more – and even details like the daily temperature of the soil, one metre (3 feet) below the ground.

After visiting these locations we had a walk through the Pavilion gardens. It really is beautiful, but best of all a river running through the middle. The stream is brown in colour, but clear due to the amount of iron in the water. The water looked so inviting and the children were having so much fun, so you guessed it, Suzy went in followed by myself and Martin. Perfectly refreshing for a day like today.

Having to retrieve the very over excited Suzy to move on to our next location.

A few more caches and it was time to leave this historic town. We wanted to stop at a road side cafe we had seen on the journey in. It overlooked the peaks and you could see for miles. Just in the time as they were just about to close. Fortunately they could provide take away cups so we could take our time. We also purchased some Stilton pork pies, I shall let you know what those were like later.

Tea drunk, photos taken, Homewood bound. Ben is cooking tonight, coached by Nick. We are all looking forward to our home made burgers and potato wedges.

Incoming storm.

A day out in Leek

A little background and history.

Leek is a market town in the county of Staffordshire, England, on the River Churnet. It is situated about 10 miles (16 km) north east of Stoke-on-Trent. It is an ancient borough and was granted its royal charter in 1214.

Leek’s coat of arms is made up of a Saltire Shield. On the top is the Stafford Knot, either side is the Leek “Double Sunset” and below a gold garb. The crest is a mural crown with three Mulberry leaves on a Mount of Heather on top of which a Moorcock is resting his claw on a small-weave Shuttle.

We decided to explore this lovely old market town today. Using geocaching as our tour guide we set out to find a few historical spots in the town. Well we would until we became distracted by tea and cake.

Refuelled exploration of the town can began. We needed to find the memorial, church, market sign and college amongst other locations.

The town is so interesting to walk around. Full of unusual architecture. Even a gold postbox to honour the Olympian, Anna Watkins for her gold medal in the 2012 Olympics for the women’s double Sculls.

The Nicholson War Memorial in Leek, Staffordshire, England is a 1925 war memorial. It was commissioned by local manufacturer Sir Arthur Nicholson and his wife Lady Marianne, née Falkner, in memory of their son Lieutenant Basil Lee Nicholson, who was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915, at the age of 24, and in memory of all the other local men who died fighting in World war.

After a good few hours exploring and caching we headed off to Rudyard Lake.

Rudyard Lake is a reservoir in Rudyard, Staffordshire, located north-west of the town of Leek. It was constructed in the late 18th century to feed the Caldon Canal. During the 19th century, it was a popular destination for daytrippers taking advantage of easy access using the newly constructed Staffordshire railway.

Legend has it that the village of Rudyard was named after Ralph Rudyard, a local man reputed to have killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth field, although as the place-name, meaning ‘a yard or enclosure where rue is grown’ in Old English , was first recorded in 1022 and subsequently mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086 it is more likely that Ralph, if he ever existed, was named after the village.

On the miniature railway train.
One happy puppy.