26 August 2015

A Handbag

I recently caught the tail end of a TV documentary about AspreysThe store was preparing for a private visit, I think it was a princess. She purchased 12 handbags, which were flown to her home in Saudi Arabia. They were gorgeous, similar design but variations of colour, I wondered if they were gifts for lucky friends or family. Later I checked out their website and handbags ranged between £12,000 and £25,000!! 
Now there’s no denying their merchandise is lovely, but it started me thinking, is the leather used for a £25,000 handbag really so much finer than that used for a £2,500 one, or even a £250 one? Is the design any more designer? Is the lining any more exquisite? Just how much better is a £25,000 handbag? I guess it's all about wealth and status. I don’t think that’s sour grapes, even if I had a shed load of money I wouldn't spend thousands on a handbag. 
How much would you spend on a handbag? Is your handbag a defining accessory or something in which to carry the stuff? Do you use the same one every day or change with the outfit you wear? Do you have seasonal bags?
I like to change mine around to suit what I’m wearing and I have summer and winter ones.
I’m very fond of handbags but can’t afford to spend a lot on them. I have a couple of designer bags which were gifts and the rest are a collection of sale bargains, high street buys, charity shop or cheap. I look after things so they last for years. If I’m replacing a worn out favourite I will research, almost painstakingly to replace it. I also like to buy on impulse when the price is right.

My latest bargain is a Bailey & Quinn spotted as I was passing through Debenhams a few weeks ago. I couldn’t afford the £129 price tag though. I often go into their store either to shop or en route to the town centre. On my next visit they were advertising “up to 50 per cent off selected items”, and said bag was £64.50. In the days when I was working I would have bought it there and then, but now I have to adjust my spending accordingly, so I reluctantly walked away. However just a few days later the price had dropped to £38.70 it was kismet! 

M&S lovely little pastel coral bag, ideal for summer.

The black and cream was another sale item from Debenhams. My first white bag was a cheap impulse buy whilst on holiday in Australia a few years ago. I loved it and it lasted a long time but eventually the handle material sort of peeled off. I replaced it with this cheap and cheerful one from New Look.


In the foreground another Bailey & Quinn reduced bargain over the shoulder small handbag to replace one I gave to the charity shop about a year ago, and then promptly regretted doing so!!
I can't remember where I got the bohemian hippy bag, it was either a sale or charity shop, but I do remember some of the stitching and beads were missing, so I replaced them, I also sewed a pocket inside for mirror, lipstick etc. It looks good with casual jeans and a plain tee.

My regular all year round navy bag. I do like Fiorelli bags.

My LV winter bag, old but still ok.

Another winter one, a red bucket bag, I liked it when I first bought it years ago
 but I'm not so keen on it now, it might go in the charity bag.

This was a charity shop buy, I just liked the colour. Then I went off it and put it in the bag to take back to the charity shop, but then took it out as I decided I still quite liked it! it adds a splash of colour with a black and white outfit, and it does get a few compliments.

I love this bag, a gift from my daughter, and it gets loads of compliments.
It has transparent sequins all over it. Great for summer.

I found this embroidered bag in Fremantle markets whilst on holiday and haggled the price down a bit.
I like it but the handle is uncomfortable. Just had a thought, it could be used as a knitting bag!

An impulse buy whilst on holiday in Canada. With two compartments inside it's quite roomy 
and good for on the go.

I haven't used this hippy beaded bag for years but I still keep it. It was a gift from my then mother-in-law.

Another Fiorelli and another old one! The handle is very frayed but I use it occasionally,
it's small and handy.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at my handbag collection.
I might show you the stuff I keep in them one day!!

22 August 2015


Harvest "The act or process of gathering in a crop"

We are surrounded by fields of crops, usually a mixture of rape and wheat but this year
it has been just one field of rape and the rest were wheat. 

I'm always amazed at how well it grows in such dry conditions.

The wheat has been harvested and baled.

I will be harvesting blackberries soon to make apple and blackberry pies and crumbles,
with real custard, delicious :-)

Have a good weekend.

19 August 2015

Buster's Diary

Harvest Mites

I'm suffering from harvest mites again. Last year my legs were so red they looked as if they had been burned. It isn't quite as bad this time because Scary Lady started treating them sooner.

Last year a £90 visit to the vet prescribed some drops to put on my neck, some shampoo and one of those elizabethan collars to stop me licking my legs. The collar was too big and therefore failed to do the job, and I'm not convinced that the drops or the shampoo made much difference. My legs recovered but I think that was more to do with the decline of the mites season.

This year Scary Lady is treating me with the shampoo which is still in date and Frontline spray that she bought at the vets.

Some days it's very bad, my legs are red and there are lots of tiny scabs on my feet. SL is searching online for information about the condition and considering using some kind of organic treatment. 

I get lots of attention though because they all love me very much and don't like to see my legs and feet affected like this.

16 August 2015


Saturday was quite a busy day, starting with the morning walk with the dogs. 
I tried to post this yesterday evening but we are having problems with our internet connection.

After breakfast I pruned a few roses. 

then I treated Buster's legs and feet, he will tell you all about that in his next diary post.

 After a spot of tidying and some lunch I went with a friend to collect her daughter's dog from the kennels. I didn't want to put any make-up on or dress up, I wasn't being lazy because I usually do make an effort, but I knew my friend would be casually dressed so I opted for my favourite comfortable trousers and a light cotton tee shirt, oh and a smattering of mascara and eyebrows!

I love my little M&S coral bag, it receives lots of compliments.

The kennels was very posh, little M had been very well looked after.

Back home I started to prepare dinner - Slimming World Chicken
Pasanda Sizzler with roasted broccoli and cauliflower.
Preheat oven to 200 deg C/400 deg F/Gas 6.
Combine 150g yogurt with 1 tblsp mild curry powder,
juice of 1 lemon, 1" fresh ginger and 2 garlic cloves.

 Cut 4 chicken breasts into bite size pieces and marinade in the mixture for at least half an hour. 
A cup of coffee is optional :-)

Put cauliflower and broccoli florets onto a baking tray or into a dish, I used the actifry, spray with Fry Light and sprinkle over 2 tsp cumin seeds. Roast for about 35 mins. It took about 40 mins.

In a large frying pan sprayed with Fry Light soften 1 large chopped onion and 1 cinnamon stick for about 5 mins.  Add the chicken mix and cook for 3 mins.
Add 2 tsp tomato puree and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through.

I served it with papadums, naan bread and mango chutney. I was disappointed with the look of the broccoli and cauliflower, they needed a lot of sprays of fry light. They tasted all right but if I do this dish again I will par boil them first.

14 August 2015

Today's Walk

The Dog's Diary

Oh dear, look at us, soaked to the skin. Scary Lady got it so wrong today. Even she got wet because she only had her flimsy shower coat on. When we set off it was damp underfoot because it had been raining during the night, but SL said the weather forecast said humid and cloudy but no rain. hmmm she needs to change her weather forecaster.......

It's taken her most of the morning to post this, the internet thingy isn't working very well, it's an ongoing problem, she got a bit cross. She's talking to someone online about it now. 
We're dry now, so she will brush us soon. 
Have a good weekend.

10 August 2015

A Good Read

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka 

I don't know how I acquired this book, it has been on my shelf for a while, I have picked it up then put it back again a few times. I'm glad I didn't get rid of it, it's an excellent story.
Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. Nikolai is eighty four, she is thirty six and will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth, a British passport and an education for her son. She constantly ridicules him, "You useless shrivel-brain shrivel-penis donkey," she screeches, "you dried shrivelled relic of ancient goat turd." Then flicks him with a wet towel.

Whilst her behaviour is cruel, as the history of her country unfurls it is easy to see how she has turned out like this, and that she is actually quite vulnerable. Nikolai knows she doesn’t love him but is too fragile to do anything about it, in fact at first the old boy is brimming with glee at having rescued a beautiful woman from poverty. "Botticelli's Venus rising from waves," he enthuses. With her golden hair and superior breasts, that he has paid for and now has regular access to, she reawakens in him the soft scents of the Steppes, the smells of new-mown hay and cherry blossom. While Valentina is at work Nikolai fills his days writing a novel about the history of tractors, which I found quite interesting.
The sisters’ campaign to save their father from himself unearths family secrets and uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history. And the sadness of their differences, one a war baby, the other a peace baby.

I enjoyed it, it was funny, touching and a little quirky. 

7 August 2015

Stinky and The Chicken Slayer

Rufus' Diary

Stinky, how outrageous, calling me such a name, me whose name has been used in the same sentence as elegant aristocrat

Let me explain. On Tuesday I got a bit smelly, well ok I got a lot smelly, they said it was dire, repulsive. 

You see just along here was this patch of, well, I’m not entirely sure what it was, probably carrion or poo, or both. It was ripe and ready for rolling in, which I did with gay abandon. By the time Scary Lady realised what I was doing it was too late, I was covered in it, face, head, shoulders, back and down one side, well it’s what us dogs do. 
Back home SL hosed me down, shampooed me, then brushed me. She said the smell was still bad though, so bad that it permeated the whole house, everywhere I went I left that revolting stench behind. I even had some really nice doggie spray rubbed into my coat, which masked if for a while, but it soon wore off. The house still smelt of it the following day, yesterday it was slightly better and although the worst of it has gone now, there is still a very slight whiff of it. SL watches me like a hawk now!
The smell will go but I fear that name will crop up now and again.

Time for a nap zzzzzzzz……….. mmm maybe there is a
trace of aristocracy in my genes……………..what do you think? 

Buster's Diary

The chicken slayer, a bit harsh. I just chased it and caught it, it’s what us dogs do. Last Sunday we were on one of our walks when we saw them in the distance. I heard Scary Lady tell someone later that she thought they were 2 pigeons and would therefore fly away safely. As we ran towards them they started squawking, they weren’t pigeons they were chickens, small chickens, I mean what were chickens doing out there in the middle of nowhere, just down that bridle path at the end of this lane.

close to where we're standing in the photo above.

The one that Rufus chased had the sense to run into the hedgerow but the one I was chasing just ran up and down, so what is a dog supposed to do? I chased and caught it. SL was cross, she shouted at me to leave it. I had feathers all around my mouth but there wasn’t any blood so I don’t think I bit it, but it wasn’t moving so perhaps it died of shock or was in a state of shock. SL felt bad about it. 

We heard later that someone in the village had dumped 5 chickens, I think those were part of that group. SL used a rude word saying how she would do something nasty to people who dump animals.

3 August 2015

A Special Tea Party

Today I have been to a party, a delightful afternoon tea party to celebrate the 90th birthday of a lovely lady, Vi, the mother of a dear friend of mine. I put on a party frock and off I went. I look a bit serious don't I? this is the first time I have taken a photo in a mirror, I'm not keen on selfies!

The venue is gorgeous, a local golf club in a lovely setting, perfect for weddings and all manner of celebrations. We were greeted with a Pimms or orange juice and after time to greet the birthday girl and socialise with other guests we were seated and offered a cup of tea or coffee, I chose tea.

First up were absolutely delicious sandwiches: beef and mustard, cheese and pickle, smoked salmon and cream cheese, ham and tomato, and my favourite - chicken and cranberry sauce. Next on were the cakes - scones with jam and cream, marble cake, cream sponge cakes and the most delicious madeira cake I have tasted. The grande finale was another of my favourites, strawberry trifle, absolutely scrummy.  

A few of the many presents she received.

Great music spanning nine decades was playing in the background and then we were entertained by the brilliant Bishops Stortford Ukulele Society. They handed out song sheets, there was much toe tapping and singing and a bit of dancing. About 60 people attended. The birthday girl looked radiant and was very happy that family and friends were there to celebrate with her. The weather was glorious, we all had a wonderful time.

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