Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Today

My Wednesdays have taken on a different shape over the past couple of months.
T has a regular appointment which I have begun taking him to.
It's not until a little later in the morning so I have a little time to do some jobs around the home first.
Today I chose to potter in the garden.
Yes it was frosty and a there was a chill in the air but the sun was out and doing it's best to send some warmth, something me and my daffodil bulbs appreciated.


When it was time to go out one of the things I needed to do was buy a card for a friend's 50th birthday. In the past I have found some lovely cards in Barnardos, but this particular charity shop doesn't have a branch where I was today so my first stop was in a Cancer Research shop. They came up trumps with the perfect card and then I spotted a further selection of birthday cards at the back of the shop reduced to 49p. I try and keep a little stock of cards at home and was very pleased with the bundle I picked up. My card box has now been replenished and a fiver has gone to a good cause. Win, win.


I treated myself to some daffodils from Waitrose when I went in there to buy soda crystals. A boring purchase livened up the promise of happy yellow Spring flowers. And how cute is the little blue tit on the label. Can't tell you how happy that me when I spied him. Little things and all that.


Back home this afternoon T asked me if I wanted to play a game with him. I was hoping board game, but he meant computer game. I am so bad at things like Mario Karts, the rest of them just end up in fits of laughter at me. I usually end up driving the wrong way round the track or doing something equally ridiculous. T chose for us to play Super Smash Bros. And I actually won a couple of the battles, so chuffed! Then it was an hour of Just Dance. I got my own back and won most of those but this was the scorecard from You Can Ring My Bell which T won.


Something which hasn't happened for a while is trying something new for tea and it being eaten by everyone. I used the basis of this sweet and sour chicken recipe and will definitely make it again.

Now with T and S both in their bedrooms, G listening to the football and the cats curled up asleep on the sofa I'll spend half an hour ironing and then settle down with my book. A simple, happy day.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Decision

Last year I made a decision.
I decided to stop attending my monthly book club.
It's held at the local library on the second Wednesday of each month and I've been going for a few years, in fact since the very first session.
I have read some wonderful books, ones which I would never have chosen to read otherwise, and I've met some lovely people.
But the thing is I don't get a huge amount of time to read. 
Back then I was travelling to work via public transport and had an hour a day 3 times a week with nothing else to do but read. Over the course of a month this was more than enough time to read whatever it was I had to read.
 Nowadays more often than not I don't start let alone finish the book of the month.
And I have sooooooooooo many books at home waiting to be read.

So back to my decision.
I would go along in December and say cheerio to the group.
Only when I got there it was me and one other, it seemed everyone else was busy with other festive stuff.
 We chatted for about 5 minutes and then went on our separate merry ways.
I decided I'd say goodbye in January instead.
 January's meeting rolled around but on the night G was home from work a little later than normal and by the time I was set to leave they would have been halfway through.
Never mind I thought I had (again!) not the read the book and as I was really only going to say I'm leaving I didn't think it would matter.
Due to time not being on my side I hopped in the car instead of walking as I normally would.
Only Saints were playing at home and the car parks were rammed with supporters who had left their cars to walk over to the the football ground and I couldn't get parked anywhere!
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for third time lucky in February.

Now I did say I didn't have as much time for reading as when I first started at the book club, which is true, but I have already finished the Twelve Days Christmas which was a present from Jo in our swap and am now nearly halfway through this biography about Danny Kaye.
G, knowing my love for this lovable all round entertainer, bought it for Christmas two years ago and it has sat on the shelf since.
As I have already mentioned I have so many others sat on that bookcase which I want to read and I think maybe it was the having to read which was issue.
Now I'm not under any time pressure to read and digest I am finding that I am sitting down and choosing to pick up a book.


And on a completely different subject, here we have T at the start of his young driver lesson. He can't wait to get behind the wheel and start lessons once he's 17 next month so as a Christmas present from us we booked him this taster. We could tell he enjoyed himself as he lost that teenager scowl from his face and it was replaced, for a couple of hours, with a smile.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Andover

For the first proper weekend of the new year we fancied a trip to somewhere we hadn't been before.
I recalled a conversation with my sister from early December and suggested Andover to G as our destination.
Easily accessible by train, a little heritage trail around the city centre with some local points of interest to look out for, a handful of shops so S could possibly spend some Christmas money. 
Let me say we did have a lovely day out.
We said S could bring a friend along to keep her company and the girls kept each other amused and we had a nice wander.
But we wouldn't go back.
If I were giving Andover a school report I would say, it has potential, but could do better.

We caught the train from one of our local stations and I spotted mistletoe growing in one of the trees, bit late for this festive season, but always a treat to see.



The train station is a short walk from the town centre and to get there we had to walk through an underpass which had art works of various record breaking cars painted on the walls. I don't know what the connection with the area is.




The underpass led out on to some very bland boxy brown buildings. I think one is the college and another is an arts centre. The river Anton flows through Andover and past this complex and is home to plenty of ducks and moorhens.


The heritage trail I found started at the bottom of the town and we found ourselves at the top so we did it in reverse which didn't matter in the least.
This is St Mary's church completed in 1856 and is made of knapped flint and Caen stone.


Almhouses built in 1686.


Not on the heritage trail but it caught our attention, a machine outside the post office where once upon a time a book of stamps could be purchased for 50p!


The Norman Arch is the only surviving section of the Andover Church, built after a fire in 1141.

Chantry Cottage wasn't always on this spot by the church, this 16th century building was moved from nearby Chantry Street. I'd love to have a peek inside.


Information from the trail guide........The Angel Inn was, for many years, the largest and most prominent inn. It was rebuilt after the great fire in 1435 and remains one of the most important timber frame buildings in Hampshire. It used to be called College Inn because it was owned by Winchester College and the carpenter who constructed its impressive frame also built Eton College. The Angel Inn has seen some illustrious visitors including King John, Edward I, Edward II, Henry VII, Catherine of Aragon and James II, fleeing from William of Orange.
We were going to go here for some lunch, but a sign outside said 'no food today'. We tried the Wetherspoons, their fryers were broken so they only had a small menu available, another pub did no food at all. We found one which was selling food but it was so busy and there was no seat to be had.


The Georgian guildhall was built in 1825 and I bet in all it's Christmas finery it looked very elegant.

The Andover time ring was a beautifully colourful circular mosaic which depicts the town's history from Roman to Victorian times. Unfortunately part of it was covered by some market stalls so we couldn't enjoy it in it's entirety.


In the 10th century, the Vikings sailed their longboats up as far as Longstock on the River Test and then laid waste to the surrounding countryside. This Viking work of art on the River Anton is a nod to this part of history. 
The thing is the look is rather spoiled by those huge rubbish bins behind it.


The Domesday book listed 6 mills in Andover and this one which was dates from 1764 was grinding flour up until the 1960s.


I love this piece of artwork next to the mill. We only saw it because we walked down by the side of the mill on the way back to the station, it wasn't included on the trail which I thought was a real shame.



I only spotted this clock on the platform as we were waiting for the train to pull in. I just had time to whip out my camera and take a quick snap but I couldn't see any information about it. 


Prior to our visit I was online looking to glean some info about Andover I read the same thing a couple of times 'Andover will always remain a place to meet and to do business'. As long as you didn't want to have a business lunch in a pub! I'd recommend you met and did your business in Salisbury a few more miles down the road.
It felt a bit shabby in some places and certainly not in a chic way. Like I say we did have a nice day out but we won't be going back any time soon.

A couple of purchases were made. We found a charity shop which was having a pound sale and here a dress for S was found and also a couple of things for me. I've decided I'm going to do a round up at the end of each month of any charity shop purchases, just so I can keep an eye on my spending and see what I've bought.
One thing I will share now are these 2 shopping bags. They were reduced to a pound each in The Works and will be ideal gifts for my mum and sister when I'm putting their advent swaps together for this December.


Friday, 6 January 2017

12 Days of Christmas Swap

For the 3rd year in a row my very good blog friend Jo at Through the Keyhole and I have exchanged a 12 Days of Christmas swap.
One gift per day is opened starting on 25th December and finishing on 5th January.
I like to save mine until mid evening when all jobs are done and it's time to sit down and relax, hence a lot of my photos are taken when the light isn't great.

Let's start at the very beginning.
What an appropriate book for our swap this is!
I started reading it on Boxing day and finished last night.
A very light and lovely Christmas read, I would certainly recommend it.
Day 2 was a scalloped edged egg cup complete with a chicken shaped cover. I love a boiled egg with soldiers and so my new egg cup will be well used.


Who doesn't love cute stationery and sets of notelets don't get much cuter than these two little girls in their red head gear.



I have failed miserably for being able to share day 4's glittery silvery tealight holder.
It was on the mantelpiece until I packed all the Christmas decorations away and is now nestled in tissue paper up in the loft. I'm hoping Jo has been as organised as she normally is and has a photo of it I can link to.

Item number 5 is a very handy magnetic notepad which is now on the front of the freezer, on hand for jotting down grocery items I need as and when they occur to me.


No swap is complete without chocolate and day 6 was a great day when I opened a package containing 2 of my most favourite bags of festive edible treats.


Day 7 made me smile for two reasons. One was the red polka dot pen, Jo knows me and polka dot obsession very well. The second reason was I bought this exact same notebook for my sister back in November. All I can say is great minds think alike!

Number 8 is a shimmery butterfly coaster. Jo told me she bought this whilst she was on holiday and it really does echo the sights and colours of summer. Initially I put this next to my bed but now I've decided I will take it into work to have on my desk.


Back to the chocolate again on day 9. Cadbury's dairy milk, need I say more.


I can't wait to use these paper straws and ice cream tubs from day 10. These have given me a plan for a little Sunday afternoon high tea in the near future.


My feet will be so oh cosy thanks to my gift on day 11. You can never own too many pairs of snuggly socks and if they are decorated with snowflakes then that's even better.



My final gift on day 12 was another polka dot item. Some mugs are just comforting to hold and this is definitely one of those. I absolutely love it. 
T was very proud of the fact he bought all of his own Christmas presents this year. He was very generous, so much so that he bought a Tassimo coffee machine as a gift for our family. At some point over the weekend I shall be enjoying a caramel macchiato in this cup and considering myself very blessed indeed.

Thank you Jo for all of my presents, I love each and everyone.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sorting.....

....... edge pieces from the middle pieces.
My sister gave me this very festive jigsaw for Christmas.
I'm looking forward to making a proper start on it at the weekend.


....... out the first aid box. That round wicker box on the left is where we keep our first aid supplies. Granted it's not the most interesting job but one which certainly needed doing judging by the amount of out of date items it contained.
It will need replenishing as now it mostly contains plasters and indigestion tablets.


..... through the gift bags full of presents and making sure T and S send out thank yous to the appropriate people for the appropriate gifts.


...... as I repack the Christmas decorations into their storage boxes. Not everything has gone back in the loft. I've already got one carrier bag full of odds and ends from around the house which needs to be donated to the charity shop.


........ S's wardrobe, with her help, which resulted in a black bin liner of clothes which also need to go the way of the charity shop. I may try and keep a list of the amount that leaves the house destined as either a charity shop donation or for the textile recycling bank, for no other reason than my own curiosity.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Walking



A walk along the shore this morning.
Just the two of us.
Fresh air to blow the cobwebs away and sun and blue sky to delight the soul.
Which sums up a line I read in Romancing the Ordinary 'seeking the splendid in the simple gift of the everyday.'

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017

A Happy 2017 message bought to you courtesy of a banner from the outside of the supermarket my son works in.


Unfortunately the bus service wasn't in operation early enough to get him to work on time so we dropped him there this morning.
He took a packed suitcase with him as after his shift he was travelling to stay with friends for a few days.
Time away, what a great way for him to start the new year.
Not long after arriving back home S was dropped off, she had been invited to a New Year's eve sleepover and judging by how tired she looked much fun had been had.
For me the first day of the year hasn't involved much more than a little light pottering and two very enjoyable hours flumped on the sofa with G watching the cracking BBC adaptation of The Witness for the Prosecution.  

                                                  (picture from this book, a Christmas present from G)

So what's in store for January? 
We have plans for a day out next weekend, T has a young driver lesson booked for another weekend and most excitingly G and I have a weekend away in London right at the end of the month.
But for now the sofa beckons again as Sherlock is back.