Monday, 28 August 2017

Down tools

We worked for the morning cleaning and sorting the van but had to downtools. Mum in law had been taken poorly and the OH's brother had called for an ambulance. Luckily he was there doing some gardening jobs. She was whisked into hospital and she has had a heart attack. We had to drive over the hills to Banbury in the bank holiday traffic.
When we got there she was comfortable and sitting up. She has to be on a monitor for the next 48 hours. We settled her in to the ward after some hours and headed back accross the hills for home. We had so many things on our to do list, but they really don't matter at the end of the day. The most important thing is being there for the ones we love. We never know when it will be the last time we ever see them. Hopefully Mum in Law will make a good recovery. She is 85,rides her bike around the village and walks ther neighbour's dog each day. She also cares for herself, home and garden with minimal help. We didn't see this coming. We never know what is around the corner so it makes me more determined not to waste a single moment of this wonderful life.

It is here!

We found her at last!
Now the fun starts!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Heinz 57

It is the OH's birthday today. We went for a pub lunch with children and grandchildren.  He has had a great day. This evening we were invited to a barbecue beyond Burford. There was something called the Feastival going on. I think it has something to do with Jamie Oliver the chef. The traffic was light though. Apparently you could hear the music from the village I visited today but I couldnt hear anything. The garden was amazing and I took these photos for my grandson who has autism. He is obsessed with trains and he would love this garden.

It was really relaxing watching the trains going around the garden. We had a couple of derailments but the barbecuer who is also 57! managed  the barbecue and the railway with great skill. The weather was lovely and I've really enjoyed sitting out in the garden in the evening. It seems a long time since it has been warm or dry enough.
Tomorrow morning we are looking at a motorhome in Oxfordshire. I'm keeping fingers crossed that this will be the one. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Shoe shopping

I remember this time of year so well when my children were young. School shoes time. In our case it was x5, so we made a day out of the occasion. Many times this has been done on the way back from holidays in Devon. Barnstaple, North Devon was a favourite location. We would pack the car for home, queue to actually get to Barnstaple, park and get the job done as quickly and successfully as possible. Lunch was always a pasty sitting be the river Taw. The new bridge in the distance wasn't there in those days.

A real tradition that has fond memories for the children. They ate pasties and watched and chased the seagulls before we headed home to Oxfordshore. I am sure I can smile about it now but having a gruelling morning and an empty purse could tarnish it. Probably a silly time to choose to do it, but a different environment made a chore into an occasion. We probably fell into this habit of post holiday shoe shopping because I had failed to do it before we went. Now my own daughter is buying school shoes for the little ones. Not in Devon but in her own holiday location of Weymouth! Family traditions.
Today the shoe shopping will be for elderly. My mother has decided she has no suitable shoes for the upcoming wedding and would like some navy court shoes. She has already bought some pretty sandals but apparently might have cold feet. Now if you think fitting children up with shoes is difficult this task this morning will take me to a new level. My mum used to work in a shoe shop for years and she is so fussy about the fit and price it could be a long morning. In the technological age I have done some searching and found some that are cheap and cheerful.  We have Shoezone in our local town of Witney so we are off to try them on.
Hopefully she will see them and like them and save me a morning trudging around the shops.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Through the front window.

The view from my parents front window. A peaceful south Cotswold corner. This was my childhood home and the view hasn't changed or been spoiled by new buildings .  I look out of the window and all is well with the world. The scene varies with the seasons. My Dad is 91 now. He was brought up with this view and so was I. Although I love the coast, this is home. My mum is 10 years younger than him and from North Devon. Because I have spent much time there over the years I am torn. Home is here but I just love being near the water . The tide coming in and out is comforting and unchanging.I can't leave here as they need me. The OH is from this area but he would move away in a heartbeat. I couldn't do it. That is why we have decided on finding a temporary solution. A motorhome would allow us to take short breaks away so we can satisfy our yearnings for the seaside. When we have our sensible heads on we know we couldn't leave. This view is some compensation.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Talking teeth.

It was the dental hygienist today. She is such a lovely lady. I wonder though if she gets bored scraping off the filth and tartar that we leave behind after brushing and flossing. I feel embarrassed when I go because she has to work so hard. I try my best to keep gums healthy by following all the lastest advice. Flossing and fluoride. Soft brush etc. I still feel like a naughty girl who hasn't brushed properly. I got gently scolded for brushing too much today as my poor old gums are receding as fast as my hairline. Anyway, I duly paid the extortionate fee and made my appointments for next time. As a child the dentist meant drills and fillings. I had a dentist who on the surface was a very gentle man. That was until he got you in the chair. I remember he used to say as he was drilling away. "Just a spot. No need for an injection today." I think I am still a bit traumatised by that nearly 50 Years later! I rarely have any treatment these days. Thankfully my dentist is all about preventing problems before they arise. Bad  teeth can cause bad health so I understand the importance of going regularly now. As a mum I only went when I had vile toothache for weeks and ended up with a nasty infection and a tooth extraction. That cured me though as I was expecting pain and it never came. The relief when the injection went in was immense. After weeks of agony pain faded away. The extraction was just a lot of pulling and shoving but no pain. That same dentist restored my teeth to a good standard and since then no treatment! I shouldn't jinx it I know
Just opposite the dentist is a charity shop so as I am an opportunist I went in for a forage around. Very good results. They often mark stuff down thar has been unsold for a while. This pretty knitting/craft
holder just 50 pence.

Now these weren't in the clearance section but just £5. I have tried them on and they are surprisgly comfortable. The last time I wore glamorous shoes was 3 years ago at child no 4wedding. I put them
on for 20 minutes or so. Not too painful. I shall do the same tomorrow to get used to them. They match the dress I shall wear for child no 5 wedding.

Nanny duty again tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Brucey Bonus to our lives

I was really sad to hear of the passing of Sir Bruce Forsyth. If you are as old as me and from the UK you will remember a flawless family performer, a real entertainer of our time. I remember sitting with my family watching The Generation Game on a Saturday evening. Just brilliant,wholesome family viewing. He was such a lovely mover even up to his last appearances on TV. A seasoned performer who could dance and move around like a youngster. His catchphrases will stay with us. Nice to see you... to see you nice. 

Today has been a whirl of activity as normal with family in and out. Child 2 and I made a short visit to Lechlade Garden Centre this morning. The plants are cheaper than the Burford Garden Company and I bought some mixed dianthus. I need to renew the pot of flowers for "Steves Place." These are good and hardy and should last for a while. There will be a headstone shortly. 

A quiet evening ahead with the OH. He survived the stag party but looks a bit jaded. He did manage some left over chilli from yesterday. 
The motorhome we were going to go and see tomorrow has sold so back to searching and hopefully the right one will happen eventually. 

Girls night.

All the boys have gone to Bristol for the stag party so us girls have been enjoying some time together.  I have had a long day with 2 hospital appointments for the elderlies. For dinner, I did a chilli, rice and salad with some garlic bread. For dessert (as children were there) was a viennetta and bowl of fresh fruit. Easy to do and didn't require much effort as we didn't get back from Oxford until 3.30 pm. Myself and the elderlies had lunch at the hospital between appointments. We went to the League of Friends cafe. I really admire this organisation. Wonderful volunteers making life for patients and visitors just a bit more bearable with lovely mugs of tea coffee or hot chocolate. We had a coronation chicken roll and they shared a large iced bun. The lovely lady who served us looked about 80 and was bent over and obviously a bit arthritic. She had the most beautiful smile that lit up her face. I love people watching and the cafe was full. There were patients. A heartbreaking scene of a small boy about 7 with white face and no hair. He was having a fruit drink and cake with his mum and dad and a younger sibling. I always feel my tummy wobble when I see a child like this. I remember too well how Ill I felt having chemotherapy. Although he looked poorly, his chirpy chatter was making them all smile. I saw his mum looking at him with such love and pride.  One table was obviously a health professional, perhaps a consultant who sat quietly savouring his coffee and staring into the distance. Obviously taking time out from the busy world around him. Another table was an elderly lady and perhaps her daughter. The daughter listened in silence to the incessant chatter from the mother who didn't seem to stop for breath. Another woman marched in with stilettos. She had a smart business suit and I wondered if she was a patient. She certainly didn't look ill on the outside but who knows what was going on inside. She may have worked in the hospital but with all the long corridors I wouldn't want to spend the day in her shoes. So interesting just to watch and wonder.
It has got a bit windy again today and I rescued this from the garden. I couldn't bear to see it on the ground.

The child 5 wedding is getting closer and I am trying to get what I want to wear organised. I do not like to dress up these days. I haven't worn a wig for some time now as I am trying to have some acceptance about the way I look now. I have a dress And jacket. Some possible shoes. When I try it all on I cannot believe it is me. I have never got used to my new look really and having to make the effort and dress up is not part of my life now. I have ordered some fake eyebrow and eyelashes so perhaps that will help. Me as I am.

And me at child no 4 s wedding

I hate being hot and uncomfortable and can't wait to cast it off. So to wig or not to wig. That is the question. I have a new one in a box but it will need cutting and shaping. The family are used to me without it now but I sometimes want to look a bit like I used to look. You can't live in the past though.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Perpetual harvest.

Yellow courgettes in a chicken stir fry. I love the yellow ones. They don't go mushy as quickly as the green ones. This picture was from my daughter no 1. My dinner was courgette free as I felt you can have too much of a good thing. I'm happy to give them away when I can.
I have the children for one more day. They have been really good. There are no raspberries for my breakfast today as eldest grandchild has spotted all eatable ones. The weather may mean we have to entertain ourselves indoors a bit more today. I may bundle them in the car and go visiting and if the weather stays fine we could go to my favourite blackberry source. In Clanfield where my parents live there is a road called Calcroft Lane. It goes all the way across the fields to a lovely village called Broadwell. Just before you get there, there is an old railway line that used to run from Fairford to Witney. Where the old  bridge is, there is a gate down to the path that used to be a railway. Down here are the biggest blackberries you have ever seen! No road pollution and very few pickers. Just the odd dog walker. I like to freeze them on a tray so I can shake a few at a time out of a bag for baking and porridge. I have never been successful with jam.
I am amazed at how much money young parents are willing to spend to entertain children in the holidays. So far this week we have had a zero spend and I haven't heard any complaining and the words "I'm bored." Tomorrow I am caring for the older generation. We have an appointment for my dad at the infamous hospital in Oxford where it can take well over an hour to get there and sometimes up to an hour to queue for a parking space! Even a disabled one as they only let you in one car at a time. I think it will be a long day. On the plus side daughter no2 and bump will be arriving as son in law is coming for Son no 5 stag do. They are all having an activity weekend in Bristol. Us girlies and grandchildren will meet up Friday night and I will put something in the large slow cooker. Not sure what to cook yet but I'm sure I can squeeze a couple of courgettes into it :)

Missing Steve today. Being a teacher, he was around for school holidays when he wasn't away. He was always on hand to entertain the little ones.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Nanny on duty.

I am gathering colouring pens and paper. Glue and scissors. Paint and glitter. The 6 and 4 year old boys are arriving tomorrow. Their mum is working until Thursday. I hope I have the strength. They are good at amusing themselves. They have sand and water outside and are quite happy pottering around the garden. They eat a lot so baking is always popular.
I have seen 2 motor homes in our price range so if they are still available we will be going west to view them next Sunday.
My photos from our East Coast tour yesterday didn't come out too well. Here is my favourite. OH having a paddle at Walton on the Naze

It looks cloudy but the sun came out quite a bit and it felt warmer than it has been for a while.  We will definitely visit this area again when we have our motorhome.  I love beach huts and they were everywhere we went. We stopped at Brightlingsea on the way back and there are pretty beach huts all along the waterfront. There were families outside them in deckchairs. It seems there is a little community there as they seem to know each other.. I didn't get a good picture as my phone ran out of battery.  The school holidays are flying by. I haven't even given work a thought! I can't afford to retire just yet so I mustn't get carried away by summer days and trips out. The East coast was what I call proper seaside. Sand, waves, piers, fish and chips and seaside shops. Clacton had beautiful parks and flowers. Palm trees everywhere. We never see palm trees where we live as the frosts are too harsh. A lovely day out. A scary road back to London packed with fast traffic. We dumped the M25 and M40 today and returned home on a more scenic route. A light lunch in Thame and we felt we were back home in the peace and quiet of Oxfordshire. Home was looking good. There were tomatoes beans aubergines and raspberries. OH had picked the courgettes before he came to get me but I shall have to pick again tomorrow. Home Sweet Home.

Homeward bound

After a fabulous day exploring the Essex coast (Pictures haven't downloaded) I was a bit hungry.

I love the hungry caterpillar story and no I didn't eat those things but I did polish off crumpets oozing with butter last night before bed!. I am trying to be careful with my weight as child no 5 gets married in 2 weeks and I have a dress to squeeze into. I well and truly fell off the wagon. Some wine was also consumed. Today I shall use yesterday's guilt to reign myself in.

The Essex coast was fabulous. An area I had never been before. I hope the pictures will download shortly. I am packing to go home now. My work here is done and I shall see child no 2 again on Thursday when her hubby is driving up for child no 5 stag do. She will stay with me. I have enjoyed my time away but home is calling. I hope there will be much picking of veg and fruit later. :)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Teacher stuff.

Much has been said in the past about the easy life of a teacher. When I was teaching I don't remember any 4 o'clock finishes and holidays were nice but necessary to refocus, gather and plan resources and materials for the next term. The May week holiday was always writing reports and assessing and grading children. Easter holidays were when I was often at a low ebb health wise and clearing coughs and illnesses. Christmas holidays are a whirl of starting your own prep/shopping/ visiting with a few days until Christmas Day then a week to get over it, plan for next term etc. As well as this I was a mum to 5 and ran a household. Daughter no 2 works in a secondary school and before she takes maternity leave we are sorting out her office ready for the handover. Well, we threw out 4 bags of rubbish and recycling. Tidied and cleaned the office. Sorted out the stationery cupboard. I feel quite grubby now.
A good job done. The sun is now out and we are enjoying a well deserved cup of tea.

Well that was a wet one!

A months rainfall in one day! That's what London news said tonight. We stayed indoors . Defrosted the freezer. Made soup for lunch. Lamb hotpot

in the slow cooker, flapjacks, banana cake and bread made. Daughter 2 made some cushion covers and the steam mop arrived from amazon. That's our day pretty much. We also watched a bit of daytime telly just because we can. It was the Darling Buds  of May. A blast from the past. Daughter 2 took pity on her husband and picked him up from the tube station tonight. It was the kind of rain that goes under the umbrella. The picture above is my daughter 2,aged just 3, helping me baking. She is now 33 and I don't know where the years have gone.
OH reported all is well on the home front. Apparently we have a parcel. It came wrapped in a very long cardboard tube. "What have you been buying now?" Asks he. "A cobweb brush." Says I. "Feel free to unwrap it and try it out." I have a months free trial on Amazon prime and my time is nearly up. I have to make use of the free delivery while I can.

I have plenty of shoes but I really needed a new cobweb brush. Tomorrow apparently the sun will come out. I shall be very glad to see it.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A busy day.

On our list today. Weeding the drive. Taking car for MOT. Doctors appt for Whooping Cough vaccine. Visit from builders x 2 for extension quote... All done and more besides.

Green space comes at a high price here. My daughter enjoys every bit of what she has, growing bits and pieces anywhere there is a space. It has been a day of pottering around and cleaning. Working full time means some jobs get left for holidays. Tomorrow we will be freezer defrosting and waiting for a new steam mop to arrive. Not an exciting way to spend our holiday but we are keeping it real :)

Monday, 7 August 2017

The Girl on the Train

It isn't often that I use the train. My nearest main station is possibly 15+ miles away. Today I have a lift into Oxford to take the London Paddington train. Although in parts beautiful, Oxford is my least preferred place to visit. Traffic is slow, it can take over an hour and a half just to get on the ring road. Parking is as expensive as London. I think I paid 8 pounds for over 2 hours last time I parked in the city.
My favourite station is Charlbury, set in the countryside, where you can pick up the London Paddington by changing at Oxford. It would mean leaving my car there though, and OH having to pick it up, so Oxford it is today.

Going so fast so nothing to see on a photo. This was the express train so it reminded me of the RL Stevenson poem. From a Railway Carriage.
Faster than fairies, faster than witches
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches...
It is like someone has pressed the fast forward on a video camera. Along the river Thames then hedges and fields. The odd farming community and houses. It made me wonder how they feel about living so close to a high speed rail track. Maybe they findthe sounds of a train comforting, or maybe stressful.  There were leaden skies and going through Reading there was a sharp stormwas a storm.
It was interesting to see how many foreign tourists were on the train. Even though our weather is unsettled these people still prefer a sightseeing holiday rather than a hot beach break. Some of the favourite beach holiday hotspots abroad are suffering from the intense heat. I know I would rather be here. When I reached the end of my journey I was met by my lovely daughter. She has embraced the pace of life and now is happy to call this place home. She still enjoys the peace and quiet of our little Cotswold Corner when she visits but I know her heart is by the city. Among the trees in Epping forest you can see houses on the hillsides.

There is a small sloping back garden

The guest room is very welcoming. There is a faraway faint buzz of the city but among the trees you could imagine it was all miles away. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Black Beauty

A good productive day today. OH has planted a deep red climbing rose to go up the front wall. It was from a cutting and has been happily growing in a pot I just needed a nice big hole dug through the gravel. He has dug out unwanted invasive plants by the Cotswold stone wall. I would like a "lady" shed in the corner eventually but I am holding on to all the savings until we find a suitable motorhome. I am getting all my jobs done before I disappear for a few days. OH can be very productive so as he was in the mood for getting things done, I took advantage and found him lots of jobs. I did put a roast chicken in so he has enjoyed a good dinner with runner beans (again) of course.

This is Black Beauty. It is an indoor grapevine. I bough it at a nursery in Chigwell last time I visited my daughter in June. It has gone mad and I will have to train it across the ceiling soon as it has run out of trellis. Apparently it is a sweet dessert grape. I also bought a tiny one from Aldi earlier today. 1.79, bargain indeed.  The weather looks settled out west and I can hear the combine harvester in the distance getting on with it while the weather holds out. 
I'll leave you with this beautiful sunset. This was my Steve and his friend Emily on their sailing holiday last year. Steve loved a good sunset. Too cloudy here tonight for a Cotswold one.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Late summer beauty

I looked after youngest grandchild overnight and he isn't a great sleeper. He was fidgeting and snorting like a little hedgehog all night. Hence I haven't done everything I had planned. I did go for a long walk this afternoon with my mum of 81. She kept stopping to appreciate people's gardens. Later on I wandered around my own garden to do some appreciating.

The sunflowers have had a real weather battering lately but still majestic and towering above everything else.

This climbing rose grows like a weed and has the worst thorns but the colour is so vibrant.

This apple is very special. Steve bought me this tree for my birthday in 2016 in happier times.

This glass bowl was a charity shop find. It makes a good indoor greenhouse for the ripe shy tomatoes.

There is something magical about August. I love the dusty drones of combines over the golden fields. Black juicy blackberries in the hedgerow. The garden gives treats every day.  I am fortunate to enjoy August in its entirety as I work term time. I am looking forward to visiting my teacher daughter next week who lives in the shadow of the city of London. She has a small garden but it brings her so much pleasure. She had half an allotment that she shared  but had to give that up last year. She does miss it but decided as as there is a baby on the way she might have limited time to enjoy it. I need to get my head together and pack. I am a nervous driver so it will be the train to Paddington and the underground. A different world from here but it always fascinates me how people live in the bustle and noise of the city.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Dodging the showers.

I can't remember the last time I watered the garden.

I appreciate the help though. At least the water butts are full.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Runner beans...That is all.

Today we will be most eating/freezing/giving away runner beans.
I can't believe the size of this pumpkin. It loved the rain when we were away last week.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

9 months on and taking small steps

9 months our world was shattered with the sudden loss of son Steve aged 28. A split second and a changed world. A fatal accident a permanent heartache. But he has four other siblings and grandchildren arriving with alarming frequency. Life must be lived the best way we can.

We live in landlocked Oxfordshire and I just love to be near the sea. With limited funds available we are looking to buy a camper van to do up and enjoy. We have our eye on one that will be available soon. I don't know if we will be able to buy it but if we don't we will look for something similar. The sun rises and sets and I want to see this happening all over the UK.