22 June 2018

Lunchtime Concert


Today's concert in the Cathedral was Duo Dolcissimo. Sophie Aynsley Piano and Fiona Jones Oboe. These accomplished musicians treated us with a delightful programme of Schuman, Dring, Ravel, Saint Saens, Albinoni, Mozart and Morricone.  
I broke with habit and had a salmon sandwich instead of cheese and pickle! 
I still had a frangipani tart though :-)

Time for a browse around the shops. It's sad and worrying that so many of our high street shops are struggling or going into administration. Poundworld was desolate with half empty shelves. 
M&S didn't have anything at all that came near to inspiring me. I've been saying for years that they just don't understand what their customers want. I thought they had cracked it with their Per Una range, but that didn't last long.
Went into TheWorks for some art things, they didn't have what I wanted. "Look online" said the sales assistant. I think that's part of the problem, so many people shop online now, shops don't need huge stocks of everything.

I bought some oranges and mangos on the market and caught the bus home. 

The weather has cooled down a bit, I just have time to prune the roses, water the baskets and tubs and tidy a small border before Rufus will be asking for his dinner!


~Be well and have a good weekend ~

Polly x


15 June 2018

A Good Read

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
Retired cop Bill Hodges is haunted by 'the Mercedes' massacre, a case he never solved. He spends his depressed and vacant retirement sitting in his lay z boy watching rubbish day time television and thinking about killing himself, until that is, he receives a letter from the Mercedes killer.


Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother. He is the insane perpetrator of that crime. He drove a Mercedes into a crowd of people, killing eight and wounding fifteen. He enjoyed the feel of death under the wheels of the car as he ploughed through them, and he wants to experience that rush again. He is preparing his next massacre. 

Hodges accidentally teams up with two unlikely allies and the three very divergent characters are facing a race against time to find Hartsfield before he kills again.

I have been a  fan of Stephen King for years and have never been disappointed, I think he is a genius writer. This high suspense race against time thriller is excellent.






~Happy Reading ~

Have a good weekend
Polly x

10 June 2018

The Garden, The Dolls House, Decorating ... et al

Oh dear so many things I want to do but not enough time, so I see-saw between them.
With lovely hot weather interspersed with rain the lawns grow at an alarming rate so they have to be mowed.



Thankfully there's not a lot of weeding to do. I'm a "Let it grow" gardener. I would like to be a planner and architect but it just doesn't happen. The borders are full of blooms that just appear! 
The David Austen roses are doing well, they look and smell divine.


Isn't this just perfection


I like the shady canopy that the cherry tree creates at the bottom of the garden, but it's getting too big, it's going to be pruned in the autumn. There is a Forsythia and Ribes, and a few other nice shrubs underneath it that are getting swamped.

We are making good use of the gazebo. That's my breakfast on the table :-)

My new bistro set

and Buster laying on the hot patio!!


The old butler sink has been put to good use


Much as I love being in the garden I also enjoy working on my dolls house projects, like turning this plain wooden chest of drawers into something a bit special. More on that as soon as I have finished the dolls house bathroom!



I have taken up painting again, if I want to improve I need to practice, practice, practice

  
At our last WI meeting we planted baskets. The weather was glorious


and Jane was adorable

And then there is the decorating of the dining room (real life) that I started in April! yes April. 

But you see my dilemma - all of the above plus reading. This week my goal is to finish the dining room and finish my current book :-)


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


5 June 2018

Car Insurance

Yes it's that time of year again. Insuring the car. I hate this job. It usually takes up a whole morning of my life comparing quotes. I have received six postal quotes and lost count of email quotes. 




They all start by luring you in with an amazingly low figure and wording such as 
'Here's what you MIGHT pay'
From as little as...'
You COULD pay as little as...'
From just £12* per month' 
But of course that's just advertising jargon. Once you start inputting details it all changes.
You want legal cover - kerching add £29
You want to protect your no claims bonus - kerching add £24
Breakdown cover? - kerching from £29.70 up to £60.26
Oh and what about a courtesy car - kerching £27, or for £34 I can have an enhanced courtesy car. And on and on........ until that initial sweet quote has doubled.

But of course we know that's how it works, there is very little difference between all the companies. I usually start with my go to default which is Comparethemarket.com, only because it was the first one I ever used years ago, and I did get a few 2 for 1 cinema tickets out of it. But even with the online sites you still might have to phone to confirm some detail, or the site isn't working properly and couldn't take a card payment. And oh what a performance that is. After you get through the legal jargon about what is expected from them and the customer you are then put on hold and have to listen to music interspersed with: 
"Thank you for holding, sorry, we are experiencing extremely high call levels at the moment, if you would like to continue to wait please be assured we are doing everything to answer your call as quickly as possible. Your call is important to us" Of course it is, you are hoping I'm going to buy your product. This continues for anything from 10 to 20 minutes until finally a person answers. 
I bypassed all of that this year and stayed with the same insurer as last year, they renew automatically. Phew, what a relief.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x




31 May 2018

The WI

Last night I attended The Federation of Essex Women's Institute's group meeting.  There are many branches within the Essex WI, and many groups within each branch. Each group takes it in turn to host a social evening once a year. Six or seven groups attended last night.

The evening started with the singing of Jerusalem. There is a ton of history surrounding this hymn. You might be interested to know that when the suffragettes were imprisoned they would sing it to let others know where they were, and that each one was not alone. And this year is the 100th anniversary of women finally getting the right to vote here in the UK.

That was followed by constitutional matters and then onto the speaker - Steve Scruton from BBC Essex. He was very entertaining. He talked about his early days as a boy listening to the home service on the Bakelite radio, and knowing then that he wanted to work in radio when he grew up. 


His assistant Ian Wyatt played some theme tunes from well know radio shows of the 50's, 60's and 70's. Almost all of us recognised all of them but couldn't remember all the shows. Steve spoke about the pirate radio stations, his early days at the BBC filling in for the regular DJ's, his work with hospital radio and then eventually being offered his own show. He has had a very interesting career culminating with meeting HM Queen Elizabeth, who actually spoke to him. 

We then had a light meal of sandwiches and cake, tea and coffee followed by the raffle. 

As well as a lovely social evening it is also a fund raiser for the host's chosen charity,  which this year was local charity Sanctus Cafe, a small charity established in 2011. Volunteers run the cafe which offers free breakfasts, hot and cold drinks snacks and homemade lunches to homeless, hungry and vulnerable individuals.  They also have a book club, music club and an allotment project.



This beautiful bouquet made by my groups secretary was presented to the charity's representative.  
A good time was had by all.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


24 May 2018

A Good Read


Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson
Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life. 
Every morning Christine wakes up in an unfamiliar bed next to an unfamiliar man. She sees an unfamiliar middle-aged face in the mirror. And every morning the unfamiliar man explains that he is Ben, her husband, and that two decades earlier she had a terrible accident that robbed her of her memories and the ability to form new ones. 
Christine struggles to reconstruct her past, and the closer she gets to the truth the more unbelievable it seems.

Brilliant, very well written, thoroughly enjoyed it, it kept me on the edge of my seat. Got slightly confused towards the end though. (This seems to be a theme running through my reading history!!)





~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

19 May 2018

Lunchtime Concert



Late start today, didn't surface until 9am! which isn't surprising given the busy day I had yesterday. It started with the usual morning walk with the dogs, breakfast, then getting ready to go into town for the lunchtime concert in the Cathedral.
My friend's husband drives us in and we get separate buses home.
I had time before the concert started to go to the market for some plants. Red geraniums, orange, rose and pink begonias. I could have bought more but as I was catching the bus home I had to be mindful of heavy bags!
We reserved our seats - you leave a glove, specs case, scarf on a chair! and joined the queue for sandwiches and a drink. I had a cup of tea, egg and cress sandwiches and a frangipani cake, mmm delicious.
The concert was renowned violinist Charlotte Rowan. Her performance was outstanding. She is a performer who "combines dazzling technical proficiency with a masterful command of her instrument".  She was accompanied by the equally outstanding pianist Charlotte Stevenson. They were so good the applause was such that they returned for an encore.
After a brief mooch around the shops I caught the bus home, not for a sit down in the garden but to pick my grandson up from school after he stayed behind for GCE revision. Then to Argos to buy a new rotary clothes line, Aldi for cake ingredients, McDonalds (grandson was hungry) then home. Time for a short sit down and a cup of coffee before feeding the dogs, feeding myself, change into carpet bowls gear and out for a summer singles league match. Phew!! As a team we lost, it's difficult to get the hang of other team's mats. And my match, well it was another humiliating defeat. I hope I can do better when they visit us!
Our weather is glorious which is good for the Royal wedding. I will watch some of it whilst baking a chocolate cake for my grandson, then sit in the garden and plan where to put my geraniums and begonias.
I hope you have a good weekend.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

13 May 2018

Weekend

Another busy and fun weekend kicked off yesterday with our village Medieval Mayhem afternoon.

After walking the dogs yesterday morning I finished off the cake I had made on Friday and then headed down to the hall to help with the tea and cake stall.

We were so busy that by the time I remembered to take some photos most of the cakes had gone! Home made cake and a cup of tea is always popular. 
My contribution was my usual coffee mocha cake on the red plate. 

Elsewhere everyone was having a great time despite the miserable weather. 
It wasn't heavy rain and it was quite mild so there was a fairly good turn out.


Dancing round the Maypole


Guess where the treasure is


Smashing crockery is always popular

Racing Knights

Beautiful vintage cars.
Because of the weather many of the owners left early so I missed some real beauties.

Galleon wars was great fun.
They started in two rows opposite each other.
The idea was for the child at the back to guide the blindfolded one in the front
and tell them when to spray the water.
I'm not sure what the outcome was meant to be, there was another group over the other side,
 they just had a great time.

There was archery, an art exhibition, tug-of-war, a bouncy castle,
a plant stall, burgers, hot dogs and chilli, ice cream and a bar.


Back home these beautiful flowers were waiting for me, sent from my beautiful Aussie daughter.
Mother's day in Australia

∼∼∼∼∼∼

Today we have been to Colchester to watch my grandson play basketball. 
He was selected for the Essex team and today was the 
England Basketball under 15's Boys Inter Counties Tournament. 

Warming up. My grandson hanging on after making a basket.
Six counties competed 

Final score
and Essex won. 
Some of their games were close but they never let up, they played very well.

Each boy received a gold medal and the team shield will be kept by their Coach until next year.
I'm a very proud Nan

~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


10 May 2018

A Good Read

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Let me get my one and only criticism out of the way first. I don't know why the author gave the novel this title as wolves do not figure in the plot at all. They are mentioned once or twice but that's about it! I was expecting somewhere in the story to read about wolves being, well, tender, maybe towards somehow helping stranded humans. 
So that done let's begin.
This beautifully written novel is set in Canada in 1867. Winter is tightening its grip on Dove River, a small isolated settlement in the Northern Territory. Laurent Jammett is found brutally murdered. He had been a voyageur for the Hudson Bay Company. Mrs Ross stumbles upon the crime scene and sees tracks leading from the dead man’s cabin north toward the forest. Soon after the investigation is launched Mrs Ross makes another discovery – her 17 year old son Francis has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect. She decides to go after him to clear his name. 
Such unprecedented violence in a small quiet community attracts a lot of interest. We have Andrew Knox, Dove River's elder statesman; Thomas Sturrock, a wily American itinerant trader; Donald Moody, the clumsy young Company representative; William Parker, a half-breed Native American and trapper who was briefly detained for Jammett's murder before becoming Mrs. Ross's guide. And a few others.
One by one, the searchers set out following the tracks across a desolate landscape, 
between them seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for seventeen years, stolen furs and a forgotten Native American culture. But who wants to solve the crime and who wants to exploit it? Who is prepared to kill again to avoid being unmasked? As we learn more about each individual the list of possible suspects grows.

The plot was engaging and compelling from the beginning. I had to make a list of the many characters, but I soon remembered them. Descriptions of the harsh landscape and the lives of European settlers was palpable. 
A few commenters on Goodreads said they were disappointed with the ending, too many lose ends. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought the end was satisfactory I would have liked Elizabeth to have met her aunt and cousins, and I wanted the embryonic feelings between Mrs Ross and Parker to culminate in a brief liaison!



~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

3 May 2018

Buster's Diary

Hooray it's Spring again! 
We had a couple of weeks of glorious weather. SL was wearing short sleeved t-shirts,
 then it turned chilly and she was back in long sleeves and a gilet - I bet you're impressed that I know that word! and now it's glorious sunshine again.

Everywhere is turning green with new buds and shoots appearing. It's beautiful.


Bluebell wood is ... (yes you've guessed ) full of sweet scented blooms.


We met this lovely friendly, handsome girl/guy a few weeks ago when it was very cold, very wet

and very muddy

These teddy bears just appeared on top of the pallets, they have been soaked
by rain and buried under snow. I wonder how long they will be there. 
That huge bonfire has been there for years, the farmer just keeps adding to it.
It too has been rained on and buried in snow, it never goes out.
I think it has something to do with the core of it being so hot that it just keeps going.

I love this huge pile of manure, I spend ages sniffing around it.

WARNING AHEAD

don't look if you're squeamish.

Poor Rufus has injured himself again, 



he has cut one of his pads. He didn't do it on the morning walk, 
Polly thinks he did it in the garden, rushing out hoping to find a cat
We're a hardy lot, and confident that it will heal ok.

He's leaving little drops of blood all over the house, thank goodness we don't have carpets. 
He has got some on a rug though but it's an old one and going to be replaced this year.

He's happy sleeping in the sunshine


And here we are, before he hurt himself, full of the joys of spring. 
He will soon be back to running around again.

This coming weekend is a bank holiday one here in the UK, 
historically the weather is bad but the forecast for this one is good. 
Wherever you are I hope you have  a great weekend.


~Be warm and well ~
Buster
🐾

29 April 2018

Portmeirion

"I am not a number, I am a free man" said Patrick McGoohan as number 6 in the 1967 cult TV series "The Prisoner". The series followed a British former secret agent (McGoohan) who was abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village resort. The occupants of the village went about their daily business quite happily, in a slightly similar way to The Stepford Wives. No one had names, only numbers. McGoohan's captors were trying to extract information from him, he was trying to escape, and every time he did he was brought down by a huge white floating ball that just popped up. It was a bizarre series but very good, and became addictive.

It was filmed in the picturesque north Wales village of Portmeirion, a divine collection of pretty, quirky houses, beautiful gardens, a cafe, restaurant, shops, holiday cottages and a hotel.
I first visited over 15 years ago, this visit was in 2013.


Portmeirion was created by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He had nurtured an idea of a small coastal village on some romantic clifftop site, perhaps on an island or a remote estuary. This idea stayed with him for about 20 years until in 1925 he found the Aber Iâ estate on the Dwyryd estuary near his home. It was more or less exactly what he had been hoping for, and it was for sale - he bought if for what is said to be around £5,000. 
The first thing he did was change the name. Aber Iâ can mean 'frozen river mouth' which isn't an ideal name for a holiday resort. The name Portmeirion comes from 'Port' to put it on the coast and 'Meirion' the correct spelling of Merioneth, the county in which is was located. Building took place in two stages, from 1925 to 1939, and, once post war building restrictions had been lifted, from 1954-76. 
Sir Clough's daughter, designer Susan Williams-Ellis founded Portmeirion Pottery in 1960. 

Portmeirion hotel.
It's highly unlikely that I will marry again, but if I did I would want to do it here. 
Surrounded by beautiful gardens and water gardens, coastal walks
and 70 acres of exotic woodlands, it's definitely worth a visit. 

We stayed in Betws-y-Coed
our B&B was lovely, the rooms were themed around flowers,
I was in the Bluebell room.

A few miles away was The Ugly House Tea Room.
Despite its name it's a lovely little place and serves delicious food.
The cottage is full of history, legend and mystery. It's not clear who built it or when. It's said to be a Tŷ Un Nos, a ‘one-night house’, a custom whereby if you could build a house overnight on common land, with smoke rising from the chimney by daybreak, it was yours to keep. The tearoom has a honeybee centre upstairs. It is surrounded by five acres of ancient woodland and wildlife garden tended by volunteers. The volunteers also run a project to rear a supply of queen bees to boost the population of healthy honeybees in the Conwy Valley and beyond.



I like trains so a trip on the Ffestiniog railway was a must.

The weather has turned cold again, and more rain. The lawn is looking lovely.

I'm currently binge watching "The Alienist" on Netflix. It's very good but I do think
the protagonist should spend less time theorising and more time detecting,
but then I guess there would be less atmospheric suspense. 

And, after much neglect I am back working on my dolls house


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


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